A small signature from a little-known subject on an unusual cover. But John Gagliardi is the winningest college football coach in history. Nothing small about that. Got it back in 6 days.
Got this one back in 7 days, from one of the greatest players in NBA history. I thought this was a pretty cool cover, very representative of the era (1970s) in which it was published. Sent this one to the Memphis Grizzlies office.
About the time I sent this one out, Tony LaRussa got arrested for DUI during spring training. Worried I wouldn't get it back, but I did. His signature is real scratchy. I could make a joke here but I won't.
Herschel Walker was one of my favorite players as a kid. A guy that big who was that fast? He ran track, tried out for the US Bobsledding team, and had a crazy workout program that didn't utilize weights. I couldn't understand his Southern accent when I was young, but after going to school in Texas, I can say I'm fluent in drawl. This was a great signature, too bad part of it runs onto the address label.
Mine was officially the first return from Gene Banks registered on sportscollectors.net, but according to another article I read on him, he receives autograph requests for this cover at least once a week. A very elegant signature, and he added his nickname - Tinkerbell, along with symbols (bells?).
March 19th was a good day for me, as this was the third issue I received back that day. I figured the chances were better of getting Lonnie Smith to sign than Robin Yount.
This one is probably my favorite piece in terms of visual impact. First of all, you have one of the greatest hockey players in history skating through the rink in a great action shot. Then you have the red white and blue colors, and his matching blue autograph against the white background of the ice. Just looks so fresh and clean. Guy is one of the best signers in the hockey hall of fame. I got this one for my boss, who grew up in Montreal during Guy's hey day. I had to get Canadian stamps for the return envelope, so I went through quite a bit of trouble, but it was worth it. My boss was pretty excited to receive this. Guy also ended up signing the inside of the magazine where his article appears. That was pretty unique too.
This is a great dual cover. I later ended up meeting Charles White, but I didn't have this piece with me so I unfortunately missed the opportunity to get the second autograph on this cover. Billy Sims has a bbq joint in Oklahoma, and I've read others getting back free drink coupons along with their signature request, but I didn't get one. I guess I live too far away.
Two in a row for the big dudes. This one was sent in care of the PGA Tour, who do an excellent job of forwarding mail to the players if you don't have their home addresses. This is one of the few covers not signed in Sharpie pen, which is the standard pen used for signing flats.
Looking through some of the older issues of Sports Illustrated in my collection, you can notice a trend in the subjects the magazine covered. Most likely just a parallel in the sporting interests of the American society in general. Back in the 1980s, boxing was much more popular and well-covered by the media. After all, consider the boxing stars who were actively fighting then: Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, and this individual, Gerry Cooney. I sent this one courtesy of his foundation in New York.
This ranks up there as one of the best pieces in my collection. First of all, you're talking about a living legend, one of the top coaches in history. But more important than that are the values Coach Wooden coached by (and continues to live by today). A true hero and a faithful Christian man. The turnaround time on this was phenomenal. 6 days from the day I sent it out to the day I received it back from him. As you can see, he also sent back a couple of other cool items which he took the time to sign as well. Coach Wooden is known as one of the best all-time signers through the mail. There is no way in the world I am sending out the SI cover to get a dual signature from Billie Jean King. Nothing against her, but I am not going to risk not getting this one back!
Obviously not the more famous of the two (three?) individuals shown on the cover. However, it could be argued that he is the main subject of this shot, so I don't feel too bad about violating my cover subject rule. I sent this one in care of the University of Pittsburgh, where Matt is the quarterbacks coach.
One of the greatest basketball players from the University of Arkansas signed this one for me, sent courtesy of the Fort Worth Flyers, whom he was coaching at the time. Sidney has a much better SI cover where he is soaring through the air about to dunk the ball. Maybe I'll get that one signed another time.
When there are multiple players shown on the cover, I usually like to get an autograph from the individual who is the focus of the shot, or whose name appears on the cover (usually they are one and the same). However, in certain instances I cheat, if someone else on the cover is more likely to sign it than the main subject. Matt Doherty is the new coach at my alma mater (SMU), so I sent this to the Athletic Department.
It always looks cool when a silver Sharpie is used against a dark background. Kareem has such a clean signature which shows nicely here. He rarely signs his first name. Even rarer are autographs which he has signed 'Lew Alcindor'. This one was sent in care of the Lakers. I later found out he has a one autograph per person policy. If I had known that, I probably would have sent one of my other issues where he is in an action pose. But this one is a nice portrait nonethless, and it's pretty sweet to get a free autograph return from arguably one of the NBA's top 5 players of all-time. Kareem used to have a pretty frosty relationship with the press and his fans, but I recently read that after his house burned down in the 1980s, he was touched by how many people from the publc gave him records to replace his famous collection which was destroyed in the fire. He says that this showed him that people truly cared.