An autograph world record was set…and I was there!

BY T.C.   


On January 9th, I managed to find my way into the event of a lifetime!  This event was the Samsung/Circuit City autograph signing that established a new world record for the largest pro athlete autograph signing ever.  Representatives from the Guiness Book of World Records were even on hand to record the event. 

In order to get in to the event, we (I was with a friend and co-worker named Anthony) had to present ourselves members of the press.  Because we are contributors to several blogs, I told the folks at the registration desk, and they were kind enough to let us in.

Upon entering the event, I was a bit overwhelmed.  As I looked around the room, I saw a sea of footballs, helpers, and 18 pro football Hall of Famers!  The players in attendance included: Marcus Allen, Michael Irvin, Anthony Munoz, Deacon Jones, Carl Eller, Harry Carson, Fred Belitnikoff, Merlin Olsen, Warren Moon, Eric Dickerson, Kenny Houston, Ted Hendricks, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Randy White, John Hannah, Tom Mack, and Jack Ham.

We started to walk around a bit and get our bearings, and decided that we should probably snap some pictures and start interviewing folks.  The first interview attempt was with Marcus Allen.  While I attempted to engage him on several topics, he seemed very cranky and was very short.  He definitely didn’t provide a great interview experience…more on Marcus later.  After this small debacle, we decided to break for a moment to re-focus and choose our next interview. 

As we were chatting, Michael Irvin entered the room (about 15 minutes late, but hey, it’s Michael Irvin).  As his first interview wrapped up, Anthony immediately made his way over and began chatting with the legendary and flamboyant wide receiver.  Irvin seemed instantly engaged in the conversation and showed true interest in what Anthony was asking him.  The topics of conversation ranged from how grateful he was to get in the hall of fame (he literally began to tear up when talking about this topic), to the downfall of Hurricane football at “The U,” to folks that made a difference in his life when he was a young boy, and finally to his attitudes on autograph seekers (he said that he really appreciates fans that approach him for his autograph and that he wished he could sign them all).  The interview lasted around 10 minutes and was truly a great experience for Anthony.

The next interview was with Merlin Olsen.  I sat and chatted with Merlin for 5 or 10 minutes.  My first impression was that he was a very kind and engaging man.  Because one of the groups that the event was benefiting was the Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas, I began the conversation by asking him if there was someone that made a difference in his life when he was a child.  He began talking about his childhood and growing up in Northern Utah.  His biggest influence as a child was his church.  The topic then switched to autographs and memorabilia.  I asked him if he had an autograph or experience that was memorable for him when he was younger.  His fondest memories were of selling Hot Dogs and Soda at Utah State football games.  He looked forward to doing this on fall Saturdays because he truly loved watching football.  The final topic I covered with Merlin was the state of the autograph hobby.  He said that he enjoys signing autographs, but was really upset about a few “rotten” individuals that abuse the hobby.  As we wound up the conversation, I thanked him and began looking around for another target.

My final interview was with the legendary Paul Hornung.  I didn’t have really high expectations for this one, as I heard that he can be a little moody from time to time.  When I sat down to chat with him, though, he quickly reversed my opinion.  He was immediately very friendly and seemed to love telling stories.  I asked him if he had ever tried to get an athlete’s autograph when he was younger and he proceeded to tell me an interesting story.  Growing up in Kentucky, he was a huge Wildcats basketball fan.  When he was 13 years old, he persuaded his parents to take him to Lexington, where he then waited for Kentucky’s legendary “Fab Five” to emerge from the locker room.  He got all of their autographs, and was ecstatic to meet Ralph Beard, who was his favorite player ever.  He went on to say that he and Ralph became great friends later in life.  He also shared several stories about Joe DiMaggio.  The most amusing story was about the appearance fees that they got back in 1957.  Paul told me that DiMaggio was getting $50,000 a pop for his appearances in Atlantic City (this translates to over $350,000 in today’s money).  When I asked him how much he was getting, Paul told me that he usually got about $1,500 (worth around $10,000 in today’s money).  Our conversation went on for about 15 minutes and was truly a pleasure.  The final story he told me was in reference to questions I was asking him about the autograph hobby.  He began talking about a golf outing in which several children approached him for autographs.  After about the 10th kid approached him (asking for the same thing to be signed), he began watching where they were going after getting his autograph.  Apparently, a dealer was giving kids $5 a pop to go get Paul’s autograph for him.  This disgusted Paul and represented an ugly side of the hobby that he hates.  As I wrapped up the conversation with Paul, the host of the event began some formal proceedings and all of the players went up to the stage for pictures.

As the event began to break up, I noticed that several of the Samsung employees were picking up leftover footballs and getting them signed by the players.  One of these folks was nice enough to hand me a football and told me to go get some signatures.  Needless to say, I was extremely pumped and began walking around with him getting my football signed.  When it was all said and done, I ended up with 11 of the 18 Hall of Famer’s signatures on my ball!  Everyone that I approached was extremely nice about signing the football…except for 1.  Guess who?  Once again, Marcus Allen chose to be a jerk and told me that he “can’t” sign it.  It was really funny, because a couple of the other HOFers saw this go down and just shook their heads.  I guess there’s one a-hole in every crowd! 

Aside from Marcus Allen, this was the coolest autograph experience that I’ve ever had.  A world record was set and I am one of the few that were there to witness it…and I’ve got the ball to prove it!!!


















3 Responses to “An autograph world record was set…and I was there!”

  1. 1 Tyler - TopPix Autographs February 2, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    What an awesome experience – thanks for sharing!


  2. 2 Watch live sports now February 9, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Great blog!!!
    allways enjoy reading

    thanx for the time and effort

  3. 3 Big Jer June 17, 2008 at 7:15 am

    That’s pretty sweet! Paul Hornung and Merlin Olsen interviews!? Damn T, guess that autograph hounding is really starting to pay off. Nice work getting in there as media. Good to hear most those guys are nice and willing to share stories. As for Marcus Allen, what do you expect. He’s an ex USC Trojan and Raider! I would expect him to be an ass. Two of the most arrogant organizations there are in sports!Anyway, congrats on the football. I’ll have to stop by and check that out sometime.


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