Do You Remember YOUR First…? (Signature Edition)
A few months ago, I asked you all about your first game-used card. If you missed it, check it out here. I thought I’d extend on that a little by asking about the first autograph you can recall pulling. Were you one of the lucky souls who pulled an early certified autograph of Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron, or Mickey Mantle? Perhaps you took a gamble on pack of some Leaf or Donruss Signature? Whatever the case may be, I want to hear about it. Or if you can’t remember the first autograph you actually pulled, how about just any of the first autographs you’ve added to your collection?
My first auto pull came in 1997. I was living in New Jersey at the time and took a trip to my grandmother’s house in nearby Somerville. My cousin Michael, a huge baseball fan/collector, was visiting from Pennsylvania for the week. He knew I was into cards as well and actually brought his collection with him hoping to strike up some trades. So we hung out that day and swapped cards. He took the majority of my Seattle Mariners (remember who played there at the time) while I picked up a bunch of Yankees and some Frank Thomas cards. When he asked me if there was a hobby store nearby, I told him about Crazy Joe’s, which was just down the street.
When we got to the store, Michael had traded a number of cards to the owner in exchange for some higher-end Griffey inserts. Once they had finished, he had his eyes set on the wax-filled wall behind the owner. The two of us then took turns opening packs of products such as Ultra and Pinnacle Certified when we noticed the box of Donruss Studio sitting on the counter. Michael bought a pack from a near-empty box and didn’t get much. The owner then offered to open a brand new box for us if we wished to open more Studio. A new box was what we got. After the owner opened the box for us, Michael reached in and grabbed the fifth pack in the box. He felt the pack would be lucky since the inserts ran in every fifth pack on average according to the packaging. He ended up pulling a Silver Press Proof of Bartolo Colon, a card with a print run of 1,500. Afterwards, he insisted that I open the tenth pack in the box, because it “had something.” So I did. And wouldn’t you know it….Michael was right. It did have something, for the 8×10 in my pack was autographed by Twins infielder Todd Walker!
It may not seem like much now, but it was a big deal at the time. There were only three different autographed 8×10’s in the product. The other two men who signed were Vladimir Guerrero and Scott Rolen. While they weren’t numbered, the print runs for each were as follows: Vlad (500), Rolen (1,000), Walker (1,250). So, I pulled the worst one, but that was ok! I had my first-ever autographed card, an oversized plastic holder to keep it in, and a story to go with it. As far as Michael and the store/store owner go, I haven’t seen either since that day.