Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Of all the news of the past five days or so during my self-imposed news exile, one of the few pieces of 'news' that I managed to hear in its entirety was that Ringo Starr has pleaded with people who send him autograph requests, to do so no more, because he is simply overwhelmed by them all. Apparently, up until now, he has read and responded to the mail that he gets.
I don't know what would drive a person, especially in 2008, other than, say, a fervent Beatle fan, to write to Ringo Starr asking for his autograph, but it reminded me of something I used to do when I was really young, up until maybe my mid-teens. Starting in about 4th or 5th grade, and lasting about two years, a rather large group of kids at St. Ladislaus grammar school would share addresses of TV studios movie and TV stars' agents, and we would mail our autograph requests to them. We were quite successful, actually, in acquiring some publicity photos with stamped autographs on them. Of course, the ones I collected are all gone now, but a couple of the good ones I got were "autographed" cast photos from shows like "Happy Days" and "One Day At A Time."
I branched out into doing the same thing, with various degrees of success, with sports stars. I would walk to the movie (and some sports) memorabilia store at Addison and Central and buy the Sports Collectors Digest, which was a stapled, photocopied-quality guide to the prices of baseball and other sports cards, along with some ads, and they had a small section that actually listed the home (or business) addresses of (mostly retired) sports stars. I would print or type a polite request to the star, then include a card of theirs and a self-addressed envelope and hope for the best.
I actually got a few replies from the maybe a dozen or so requests I sent out. The late Los Angeles Dodgers pitching great Don Drysdale was one who sent my card back, autographed, as was late Chicago Blackhawks great Keith Magnuson. I have their cards around somewhere, and I likely will never sell them. Another autographed card I got was from Chicago White Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood, who was pretty good in his day.
The whole idea of writing (not e-mailing) a letter to someone and asking for their autograph seems like something from a time that has long passed, which is mainly what surprised me about the Ringo Starr announcement. I just can't imagine doing anything like that in this day and age. I mean, who would I send something like that to? (Hmmm, "Dear Anderson Cooper ...")