I received a lot of replies and my collection was growing. Again, out of the blue, came inspiration for the next step. In person autographs. I happened to read in the newspaper about an old-timers game tournament. The Original Six Tournament. This was held in various venues (fortunately within a 2 hr driving distance) during the 80’s and filmed for later television release. Games started on a Friday night and the championship was held on the Sunday. They had players playing for their Original 6 team and autograph access was easy. Lots of old-timers and were glad to sign. The hockey was great too as you could see the skill they had even though some had been retired for years. Norm Ullman, Pat Stapelton, Red Kelly, Wayne Carelton and Ron Ellis were some of the players involved. You could get the players before or after their games.
Another great event was the NHL Slo-pitch tournament in Niagara Falls. This was also in the 80’s with a Friday start and Sunday end. This was held for around five years with around 20 teams each having 10-15 players. Lots of opportunities to get signatures. I have a good story about Bruce Boudreau but my wife won’t let me put it down in words. Sorry.
Then there was the Wayne Gretzky Celebrity Tennis Tournament in Brantford. Wayne invited some of his hockey buddies and Hollywood celebrities. Guy LaFleur, Larry Robinson, Paul Coffey, Eddie Mio, Ron Duguay and Cheryl Tiegs were some of the people that were in attendance over the different years. I have a similar story about Jason Hervey (The Wonder Years) as Bruce Boudreau. My wife won’t let me tell this one either. Then there were a few signings at Don Koharski’s business. Some of the guests were Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Pat LaFontaine.
Dick Duff was signing at the grand opening of a Mr. Submarine shop in Burlington. This was before he was elected into the HHOF. I thought I would get there early but I was the only one there. I sat and talked with him, ate some free subs and left after about half an hour. Nobody else showed up in that time. Good for me but I wonder how Mr. Duff felt.
There was only one time I phoned a retired player, again in Burlington. Gaye Stewart was the one. I phoned on a Monday and he said he was going away for a few days and could I call him back on Thursday. I did and he said I could come over. When I got there, he invited into his back yard. He signed my cards and we chatted about hockey. This was just after the Leafs had signed Curtis Joseph. When his wife came home, he introduced me to her. This was a great experience. What a wonderful man he was.
You never know when you may get the opportunity for some autographs. A few other signatures I received were obtained by my family members. My sister worked with Ron Climie’s brother so I got some cards signed by him. My brother went to a wedding where Doug Jarvis was related to the groom. A fellow I used to work frequented an art framing place run by Ric Nattress’s sister. I went there, bought some hockey prints and asked if I could get some signatures from her brother.
To be continued.
NaBlo Wrimo Daily Count: 569 words
NaBlo Wrimo Monthly Count: 2195