By Paul Deeds aka Bobreaker50

There’s nothing like getting an autograph from one of your sports heroes.  I can remember who I was with, where I was at, and how long it took me to get every in person autograph I own. Over the years, I have been on the local news with Peyton Manning, met the greatest Raider of all time, and gone fishing with the Atlanta Falcons, but none of these experiences can compare to the first in person autograph I ever received.

I grew up in the heyday of the sports card industry. The small Indiana towns I lived near while growing up all had local card stores and I could count on a show coming to one of the local malls at least once a month. It was at one of these local shows that I received my first in person autograph. One day, my dad decided to take my brother, cousin, and I to a movie at the local mall. As we approached the entrance into the mall my eyes were immediately attracted to a bright yellow flyer. I can’t remember the exact wording of the poster, but I know it stated that Turk Wendell of the Chicago Cubs was going to be in attendance at a card show that was taking place on that exact day. I immediately asked my dad if we could go meet Mr. Wendell. I had no idea who Turk Wendell was and still don’t really know much about him to this day as I’m a football collector, but I did know I had never met a pro athlete before and I just had to get his autograph. My dad obliged my request and we headed into the area where the show was to take place. I was as excited as a ten year old could get, but as we got closer to the room where the show fliers were located my excitement waned. Mr. Wendell was no longer there and most of the dealers were gone as well. I was severely disappointed. As a consolation my dad said he would buy us each a pack of cards from the one dealer left at the mall. My brother, cousin, and I waited at a distance and watched my dad talk with the dealer. After about thirty seconds dad called the three of us over and asked each of us what pack of cards we wanted. We all made our selections and as dad paid for them this dealer reached into one of his many boxes and said “I’ve got something else for you since you missed most of the show.” Into each of our hands he placed a 1992 Upper Deck Turk Wendell rookie card with his autograph in gold paint pen! It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. A golden signature! I didn’t know anything about Turk Wendell, but I did know anyone with a golden signature must be an important person.

I didn’t get a chance to meet a pro baseball player that day, but that golden autograph was the next best thing. After watching dumb and dumber with my family that day I immediately placed the newest addition to my card collection in the best hard case I could find and it still sits in there…

Since then,  I have acquired numerous through the mail, in person, and pack pulled autos, but none of them hold as special a place as that Turk Wendell. I still marvel at it today and it still intrigues me. In fact I just made a quick Google search of Mr. Wendell and discovered some interesting facts about the man. He was named the most superstitious athlete by Men’s Fitness, he played in a world series with the Mets, and Mr. Wendell told reporters that he wanted to play his last season of baseball for free. Receiving Turk Wendell’s autograph was the beginning of a beautiful obsession that continues to this day and I hope to pass it on to my son so he’ll have stories like this to share. It’s a beauty of a signature and it may have inspired me to start a new personal collection. Anyone have a Turk Wendell to spare?