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View Full Version : The Autograph: "It Could Be Worth Something!"


Teach
01-14-2018, 01:09 PM
“That one,” he said. “That one,” he repeated. “The others… But that autograph. That one right there (as he pointed to the signature).” “It could be worth something! Hundreds,” he concluded.

Every year, my wife and I engage in our annual April ritual: “spring cleaning” (you’d be surprised what you’ll stumble across during one of these perennial house-cleaning activities).

"Look here,” I remember saying one year - as my wife and I were cleaning off shelves in our cellar - “my old autograph book." (I thought it had been thrown out).

About an hour or so later I took the autograph book, upstairs. I began thumbing through the pages. The names in that 5 x 6-inch book brought back many memories. There were so many: Bob Feller, Gordie Howe, Bob Cousy, Red Auerbach, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, and on and on.

It was at this time that I said to my wife, “Maybe, I should find out if any of these sports signatures are worth anything?” And I did.

In the town I live in there’s a sports memorabilia collector who operates a small store in the downtown area. I decided to pay him a visit.

As I recall, the sports collector, leafed through my collection of sports signatures. “Nice collection of 1950s autographs,” he said. Seconds later, he stopped. He had become fixated on one particular name. It was there on the same page as two others. The other two were: Hal Laycoe and Milt Schmidt. Laycoe is best remembered for a 1955 stick-swinging episode with the Montreal Canadiens’ Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. Milt Schmidt was a member of the Bruins “Kraut Line” (Schmidt, Dumart and Bauer). Schmidt would later became a coach and general manager.

The autograph that the collector was looking at was penned in a straight-up-and-down style. There was very little rounding to the signature. It reminded me of an array of tin soldiers standing upright, at attention.

The name the autograph collector was looking at with such intensity was that of a hockey player. A goaltender. A player of Ukrainian heritage from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His name was Terrance Sawchuk, or simply “Terry”. It was then that the collector asked me if I knew the story behind Sawchuk’s untimely death. I told him that I had heard about when I was teaching on Long Island.

The sports collector proceeded to tell me that Sawchuk was engaged in some horseplay with New York Rangers teammate, Ron Stewart. During the scuffle, Sawchuk was kicked in the stomach. He suffered internal injuries, e.g., gall bladder, liver. He would die shortly thereafter of a pulmonary embolism. Sawchuk was just 40-years old.

The sports collector went on to tell me that during Sawchuk’s early years, when he was playing for the Detroit Red Wings, he was one of the best goalies in the NHL. During a span of five years, Sawchuk recorded over 50 shutouts! His goals against average during that same time was under 2.00! I thought to myself, “No wonder the Red Wings were such a powerhouse hockey team in those days.”

As I was leaving, the sports collector asked me, “Would you consider parting with that autograph?” I said, “No, I think I’ll hang onto it for a while longer.” Before I left, the collector said, “If you’re thinking of keeping it, I’d have it authenticated. He then added, “If you ever change your mind…”