Adventures in Autograph hounding
The Early Years
First some background to put my story in context. I was born in Hamilton, Ontario Canada in 1952. The first cards I remember seeing were 54/55 Topps hockey that belonged to my uncle. This was probably around ‘59 or ‘60. The first cards I remember buying and collecting was Topps ‘60/61. Being a huge sports fan, I collected any and everything sports. Then I saw newspaper ads for player appearances where you could get signatures. I thought this was great.( Good news is my mom didn’t throw out any of my things. Bad news is she gave them to my cousin. Then my aunt threw them out)
Following are my early reminiscences of this great hobby.
The actual first autographs were football as Hamilton is the home to the Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
His parents ran a convenience store down the street called Tommy Grant’s Variety. I went into the store after school and got a 62 Post cereal card signed. Nervous and happy all at once.
Signing at Simpson Sears department store. Got a 62 Post cereal card and a pee wee football signed. Getting to like this feeling and the connection to the stars.
My grade seven phys-ed teacher was friends with Joe and invited him to the graduation ceremony as a guest speaker. Got a 65 Topps card signed.
I used to see other Tiger-Cat players walking around downtown all the time but never got any autographs.
Now for the real good stuff
Johnny Bower released a 45 single – “ Honky the Christmas Goose” released in December 1965.
Simpson Sears had him there signing record sleeve and also had postcards He signed for free.
Eddie Shack—In1966, 45 single released “Clear the Track-Here comes Shack. Again Simpson Sears had an autograph session with Eddie. Signed the sleeve or had postcards there to sign. Again no fee.
George Armstrong –In the summer of 1967 ( alas the last year my Leafs won the Cup) Esso had a display at the mall with a slapshot display. You took your shot and speed was captured by radar. After you shot the puck George recorded your shot’s speed on a badge. Had him sign an issue of The Hockey News with him holding the Cup. Gotta love free.
The hometown Hamilton Red Wings of the OHA junior A loop were a farm team of the Detroit Red Wings. For a few years Detroit came in and played the juniors in an exhibition game. One year they had the Chicago Black Hawks play Detroit. I went to the game and waited by the team buses afterwards to try to obtain some autographs. From the Hawks, I remember receiving Bobby Hull, Bill Hay, Ron Murphy, Ed Litzenberger, Ab McDonald. From Detroit, Gordie Howe, Parker MacDonald and Terry Sawchuk. There were probably others but time does strange things with the mind. Strange how you can remember things from forty years ago but I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. Hmmm
I collected cards with my brother from 60/61-66/67. Around this time however, the British Invasion (read The Beatles) took over my life and I shifted to playing the guitar and jamming with my buds. As they say, it was time to put away childish things.
Fast forward to 1980
To be continued.
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