Trying to get autographs in the Minnesota winter is no easy chore. Getting a signature from Wayne Gretzky is tough in any weather. But when the stars align and The Great One signs, it makes for a perfect day.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest stories, if not the biggest story of the 2008 baseball season has been the amazing year by Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.
The way he has not only overcome his past problems, but to recover from them and turn into the star everyone thought he would be nearly 10 years ago has been quite the story for fans to follow. Hamilton has turned into one of the league’s top stars, and he is one the hottest player in the hobby. His cards and autographs have soared in value, and the demand for his memorabilia does not look like it is cooling off.
When it comes to the worst-signing teams in the American League, as I catch them in Minnesota, it’s hard to match the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.
The only bonus for the Angels was their offseason addition of all-star outfielder Torii Hunter, who is one of baseball’s best-signing stars. Take Hunter off the roster, and you have a long list of players who are headaches for fans.
Being in Minnesota, I am lucky to have our local team, the Minnesota Twins, play in the American League Central Division. With the current schedule balance in Major League Baseball, each team plays their divisional foes three times at home per season.
While times change, right now the AL Central is one of the best divisions in baseball with not only some of the top teams, but also having teams that are good about signing autographs for fans. This was true as two of those teams, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox, came through Minnesota. Both were great about signing at the team hotel and stadium.
The Detroit Red Wings can be grouped into an elite class with teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. All are very successful franchises that have had their fair share of wins, but what puts them into the same class is for the headaches they can bring collectors.
For the past decade, these teams have consistently been extremely difficult to obtain signatures from for collectors across the country. In Minnesota, we experienced that with the toughest team in the NHL to chase, the Detroit Red Wings. We walked away with some of the stars, but it still took many tries to collect what we did.
If you ask any autograph collector who the nicest signer of all time would be, you would probably come up with a list of dozens of generous athletes and celebrities who all go out of their way to help collectors.
For every bad signer, there are plenty of great ones out there who continue to make the hobby so much fun. Yet there is still not many, if any, that are any better then the legendary John Wooden. The former UCLA head basketball coach, who is considered to be the greatest college basketball coach of all time, is far and away one of the greatest with the Sharpie, as well. The man has been as kind and gracious with his time toward fans as he has been successful on the court. Wooden guided the Bruins to seven national championships during his tenure and has four undefeated seasons on his resume.
If you are a fan of the NFL, then it was probably hard to watch the last month of the season and not root for the Washington Redskins. They rebounded from a mid-season slump to finish the season strong and make it to the NFL playoffs.
Their comeback and playoff push was fun to watch after the tragedy that happened in November when star safety Sean Taylor was murdered.
Washington was the final football team to come through Minnesota, and the entire team was quite the treat for autograph seekers. It had been a few years since the Redskins last traveled through town, and they left with us hoping they would come back soon.
With the strange current schedule alignment in the NHL, teams in the opposite conference will come to a city and then not be in town again for three years. This is a major disadvantage for autograph seekers, since it can be quite some time until another visit from these teams.
Luckily, in Minnesota, the Wild has the Atlantic Division from the NHL’s Eastern Conference on the schedule this year, which means appearances by some of the league’s superstars. One of those teams in the East that is loaded with stars is the New York Rangers. Not only do the Rangers have many veteran stars, but they also have built up a nice mixture of young talent that look to be stars for years to come.