Jim Gentile, Roger Maris & Killebrew

June24/ 2017

Originally Posted August 2013

….. the only celebrity autographs I ever “collected”.   It was 1962 at Fleming Field in Wilson NC.   Jim Gentile, Roger Maris and Harmon Killebrew were barnstorming the country on a Home Run Derby promotion after Maris hit 61 home runs.  I stood in line with several 100 other kids and got those three sluggers’ autographs on a 5×7 card.  To put that in perspective…..

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Johnny Manziel was (probably) paid significant dollars to autograph a bunch of stuff.  That autographed stuff to then be sold for considerably more than he was paid to fans and collectors.

I get that “may I have your autograph” is a staple of our celebrity-driven culture.  It has been since the invention of The Sharpie and long before.  I’m not sure what having a celebrity’s autograph signifies; but I could say that about a lot of stuff in our culture.   What determines the market value of….. a bottle of wine…. a cigar….. a Faberge egg….. a Kate Spade purse or David Spade’s autograph.

Anything is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.  There is no accounting for taste or buyer motivation.

Over the past twenty-five or so years I have been in uncomplicated “autograph-getting” situations with the following recognizable “celebrities”.   They were where I was because of their celebrity status.  I was where they were because of social/business circumstances.   They would have gladly obliged my request for a personalized autograph.  It never occurred to me to ask.

Bob Hope,  Arnold Palmer,  Jack Nicklaus,  Sam Snead,  Tiger Woods,  Michael Jordan,  Arnold Schwarzenegger,  Sylvester Stallone,  Jack Nicholson,  Dale Earnhart Sr,  Goldberg,  Rod Laver,  Ken Rosewall,  Donald Trump,  Terry Bradshaw,  Cal Ripken Jr,  Troy Aikman,  AJ Foyt,   Jeff Marie OsmondGordon,  “President Logan”,  Franco Harris,  George Brett,   Johnny Unitas,  Kevin Costner, Chuck Norris,  Marie Osmond,  Peyton Manning,  CNR,  Howard Cossell,  Brooks Robinson,  John Havlicek,  Red Auerbach,  Reggie Jackson,  Nancy Lopez, …… Art Chansky, Jim Heavner,  Albert Long and The Bob Kennel .

That list reads like a culturally eclectic version of I Dreamed I Was There In HillBilly Heaven.   …… Tex Ritter….. Tex Ritter ???   Those names came to me in a quick 30-secondreflection of my life journey.   There are others worthy of inclusion but you get the idea.

I have a tremendous appreciation for highly talented people whatever their field of endeavor.  However they might “put their pants on” I find any insight into the person behind the achievements to be valuable.   What do they have in common, or not?

One cannot tell too much in such a social petri dish blink, but more than one can from a Sportcenter highlight.   Cybil Shepherd was a lot taller than I expected, but “an autograph” ???

Undeniable Truism:  When a “celebrity” is in a social situation with non-celebrities; regardless of what the celeb says about anything….. it automatically generates a polite deferential twitter of subservient laughter from his/her audience.

“Hey Arnold (Palmer or Schwarzeneggar.  It doesn’t matter), what do you think about the weather?

Arnold says:  “It’s hot but not as hot as it was yesterday?”

Twittering chorus of admiring giggles.  “Did you hear what Arnold just said. Wow!  Isn’t he clever!”

That somebody would pay anything; much less significant $$$ for something signed (supposedly) by Johnny Manziel or whoever can only be for one reason.   That purchaser thinks someone is nuttier than they are and might pay them more for that memorabilia in the future.   Confirming H.L. Mencken theory that:

“No man has ever gone broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”

The new wave of “people being famous for being famous” is, however, more than a bit kinky and may explain a lot about how close we are to The End Times.   Would I  go next door to see a Kardashian?  Kim or Kourtney probably, but not Khloe.  I would NOT do so for Octo-mom or the 3rd runner-up on Extreme Weight Loss.

Wonder what Octo-mom’s autograph is bringing this week on e-Bay?  I bet Kato Kaelin’s is worth twice as much.

OK…. I confess.  In my inner sanctum I do have TWO autographed pictures, both personalized.  One by “LeRoy Jethro Gibbs” – NCIS (aka Mark Harmon) and one by “Calleigh Duquesne” – CSI Miami’s “bullet-girl” (aka Emily Proctor).   Both were gifts from BobLee Buddies who know the actors and knew I was a fan of both characters and their shows.   Those pics remind me more of the two dear friends than the celebs.

If any of you know The Manziel Family from Tyler TX there is no need to bother.  Not on my account any way.

I long ago misplaced that 5X7 card with Jim Gentile’s autograph.



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