I have not been an autograph hound since I went around Disney in 3rd grade collecting the John Hancock’s from Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and all of the characters that roam the park. I would much rather have an established relationship with people than their name on a piece of paper. However, I have allowed for three primary exceptions.
All three of these are because I highly respect the people whose names I want to appear on the ball because of their respect for the game, their team and the amount of work they put into their careers to be successful. I have no intention of putting these on ebay ever so it would be even better if I could get them personalized but I will take what I can get.
My dream football would be a Tennessee football (like the one found here) with Peyton Manning and Philip Fulmer’s signature on the ball. Both of these men are part of the reason I ended up at The University of Tennessee. Even though Philip Fulmer is no longer coaching, he is a legend in my mind and I have much love and respect for the legacy he left at UT.
Keeping in line with Tennessee, the second ball would be a basketball signed by Pat Summitt. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a much bigger fan of men’s basketball over women’s. But I have so much respect for Coach Summitt on and off the court that she, above all other basketball coaches and players, is whose signature I would seek out. I was devastated to learn of her early onset of dementia but to see her handle with such poise and class makes me respect her all the more.
The last item I would love to get signed is a baseball with Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones on it. A bonus would be John Smoltz. I grew up a Braves fan living in Atlanta and witnessed the worst to first season. I have always been a big fan of how all these men approached the game. Bobby Cox’s enthusiasm and the way players wanted to play for him was evident. I mean, he is the only Manager I know of who wore cleats for every game. Chipper Jones loved the Braves and had his contract adjusted to meet the teams needs several time in exchange for a longer guaranteed stay. Both he and John Smoltz also relinquished their natural position to help the teams needs (Chipper to Left Field and Smoltz to Closer).
The reason I want these balls is because one day I hope to have kids and I hope they will still be displayed so when my kids ask about the names I can share stories of my childhood and for the sports figures who did impact my life through devotion, hard work and perseverance.