Report Card from the Masters Locker Room

The Masters tournament has made its rounds for another year, and it was another productive tournament both in terms of competition and autograph collecting. Who knows how many years we have left to watch the legendary trio of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player start off the tournament with their ceremonial tee shot?

Palmer is 84, Nicklaus is 74 and Player is 78. I wondered how I could surpass last year’s signature successes of the “Big Three.” Combined, these legends own 13 Green Jackets.

As I was strolling the aisles at our local thrift store – I spotted it. There was a cast-off suit coat of long forgotten days that looks nearly identical to the green jacket awarded to each Masters champion. For $2.99, I boxed it up in a priority mail box and started penning my letter to Palmer.

Arnold Palmer signed a green jacket sent to the Masters Locker Room.

Arnold Palmer signed a green jacket sent to the Masters Locker Room.

“Arnie” has long been known by collectors to use the autopen on a lot of his mail throughout the years. One way to ensure it’s not the autopen – send an item that can’t go through the machine. Or better yet, just send it to the Masters Locker Room a few weeks before the tournament and cross your fingers. Last year, I sent him the two glass bottles from his Arnold Palmer Half & Half drink mixers and he signed each bottle perfectly.

Although most of the players that sign through the Masters Locker Room will sign more than one autograph, I just sent Arnie the jacket because I didn’t want him to have the option of signing a card or picture and not the jacket. So I took out my driver and gave it a shot. Grip it and rip it, as John Daly says. Cost was $10 each way, even though I had no idea whether this was a one-way ticket to Georgia.

Masters cards
I wanted to try something different this year as far as cards, too. I’ve always liked the oversized Masters cards that became super popular when Tiger had his first one made. I looked around on eBay and found a few shrink-wrapped packs and bought them for $20.

They were new but turned out to be a disaster. One pack had some sort of film around the sides that looks like water damage. I was able to salvage a few I could use that weren’t terrible. The second pack was destroyed – most of the cards were stuck together and the ones that weren’t also had the water-damaged sides. Though disappointed, I did send a few of them out and so far have returns from Fred Couples and Gary Player, who signed the bottom in a thin silver marker.

A few years ago I found a really nice plaque featuring Fred Couples when he played here in Rochester at Oak Hill. It wasn’t your typical cheesy $10 plaque that you find at the mall, and had an attractive double metal nameplate. I popped out the tacks and sent the picture, as well as the card. They both were returned and signed flawlessly. Couples has always been one of the best signers on the links.

Oversized Masters cards make for good pieces to get signed, as long as they are not water damaged.

Oversized Masters cards make for good pieces to get signed, as long as they are not water damaged.

Still nothing back from Jack, who will many times return requests sent to his Golden Bear office address. But I still have hope. Last year I received responses back months after the Masters. Some players apparently will take the mail home from the Masters and catch up on it later. And, of course, a percentage won’t sign at all. I’m sure many items end up in the trash or in a mail attendant’s hands. It’s the chance you take.
You can’t catch any fish if your line isn’t in the water.

Reaping the rewards
The large priority box arrived back at my house about a week after the Masters, and sure enough, Arnie signed the jacket perfectly in the bold paint pen I included. And the $10 in stamps on the return box were not even cancelled. The only slight hiccup is that he signed directly below the front pocket. Not a huge deal but that’s where the patch is sewn on the real jackets. Maybe he knew that and didn’t want me to put a patch on fearing I would sell it? Perhaps that’s looking into it too much.

I did buy the Masters patch off eBay, which is a close knock-off to the original. I will either affix it to the opposite side of the jacket or above the signature and frame it.

When sending a paint pen it’s always a big risk. Even if the athlete or celebrity signs the item, many times they do not realize that paint pens need more time than Sharpies to dry. Thankfully, Palmer must have waited a minute, or I just got lucky with placement of the jacket not rubbing up against the box. It looks so cool – Palmer signed it big and bold.

Thousands of addresses can be found at www.autographchaser.com. E-mail Talbot at tom_talbot@rochester.rr.com.

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