I have a rather modest autograph collection that I have accumulated over the
years. I’m not a hobbyist and have never gone out of my way to get specific
autographs so my collections is kind of a random smorgasbord of happenstance
encounters over the years.
My parents got me started on it when I was a kid. I remember my folks
taking me to see “Cowboy Bob” (Bob Glaze) when I was about 6 or 7 and we were living in Indiana - Grissom AFB – in the early ‘70s. Cowboy Bob was the host
of an afternoon children¹s show that was based at WTTV Channel 4 in
Indianapolis. I got a signed publicity photo of him sitting on his horse. I remember he had those long sideburns that were popular back then and somewhat resembled Glenn Campbell.
Around that same time I also got Burt Ward’s autograph. He was the actor who played Robin on the Batman & Robin TV series that aired from 1966-68. A local car dealership had asked him to make an appearance to help them drum up business and my parents took me to see him. I got one of those classic Hollywood publicity photos with Ward in his Robin costume climbing a building. He signed it “Pow, Mike!” with a little smiley face added.
Because we were living on an Air Force Base I had a couple of other opportunities to get autographs. Once we went to see a performance by the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s precision flying team and afterwards I got several of the team members to autograph my program.
My Dad also took me to see a couple of Apollo astronauts once and I got their autographs as well – Al Warden and Dave Scott.
My autograph collecting kind of dropped off for awhile after my Dad left the Air Force and we moved back to Texas. When I was in high school I went to see Alabama perform at Southwest Texas State University and afterwards I stood in line and got all four of them to autograph a nice color publicity photo. I also got Janie Fricke’s autograph. She was the opening act for them at the time though I doubt many people remember her today.
My senior year I got to go to Gen Con, the big national gaming convention in Wisconsin, with my friend Jimmy. I got several artists and game designers to sign my program while I was there – most significantly E. Gary Gygax the creator of the popular fantasy role playing game Dungeons and Dragons.
In college I had all kinds of fresh opportunities to collect autographs. In 1984 I went to hear former Sen. George McGovern speak and got his autograph afterwards. He was actually running for president that year. I felt a little strange asking for his autograph since I was planning to vote for Reagan, but I was impressed that he was a historical figure.
A few years later, after I had become a Democrat, I went to hear another U.S. Senator who was running for president. His name was Al Gore and he had flown into College Station to give Greg Laughlin a boost in this congressional campaign. I got Gore to sign a slip of paper for me.
Possibly the most significant autograph in my collection was one I came across quite by accident. While living in Connecticut I went to a library book sale in a nearby small town and bought a copy of Lyndon Johnson’s autobiography “The Vantage Point.” As I was walking out I opened the book and saw a piece of paper slip out. It was a bookmark that had been stuck down inside the book where you couldn’t see it and it said “Signed by the author.” I thought “surely not.” But sure enough I flipped to the title page and there was LBJ’s autograph. Wow.
I picked up an autographed copy of Congressman Barney Frank’s book “Speaking Frankly” at Half Price Bookstore.
I got former Texas Land Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro to autography his book “Beaches, Bureaucrats and Big Oil”
I have two books signed by Molly Ivins, my favorite liberal columnist – Her first one, “Molly Ivins Can’t Do That, Can She?” which I got through mail order while living in Connecticut, and her latest “Bushwhacked,” which I got her to autograph in person here in San Antonio.
When I was in Kerrville working for the Daily Times I got to cover a Memorial Day ceremony at the Admiral Chester Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg. They got the actors Eddie Albert and Cliff Robertson, both WWII vets, to come out and support the museum and I got both of them to sign a program.
I have a number of music CDs signed by artists from the Kerrville Folk Festival – most notably Tish Hinojosa and Robert Earle Keen.
I have several paintings signed by my favorite Texas artist Dalhart Windberg.
Last year I got to see Luis Tiant, the former Boston Red Sox pitcher, while he was doing a promotional gig at a San Antonio Missions baseball game. I got him to sign a baseball card and my book “The Long Ball” about the ’75 World Series which he played a key role in.
And my wife has an autograph from James Watson of Watson & Crick fame, the pair who discovered DNA. She saw him while she was at Cold Springs Harbor on Long Island where his lab is located.