I’ve been collecting a long time, and every now and again, I come up with a new idea or a new project to set my sights on.
I used to work at a packaging design company which had an expertise in logo design. Designing logos is a very interesting and lucrative market. Being a sports nut, I have an appreciation for all of the colorful sports logos that are out there, especially the throwback or old-school logos of yesteryear – whether it is an outdated logo of a current team or a logo of a team long defunct.
I was looking up some logos the other day just for fun and came upon a really well done sports logo site: sportslogos.net. On the site are thousands of logos from every team I could think of and many teams I had never heard of. There are minor league hockey logos, rugby logos any other logo you could think of. And the cool thing is that if you pull up your favorite team, not only will it show you the current logos but all the logos throughout the years for a particular team, along with their uniform designs.
Now here’s the kicker for us autograph fans – many of the logos are high-resolution, meaning large enough to print on your own printer with outstanding results.
This brings us to my latest obsession – getting team logos signed by many different players.
I started with my beloved Baltimore Orioles. After all, what better logo is there than the old-school orange and black cartoon bird? (I wish they would bring that back – so much better than the current realistic bird). I have followed the Orioles through thick and thin (mostly thin in the Peter Angelos era) since my hometown Rochester Red Wings were their Triple-A farm team during the entire time I was growing up. I saw Cal Ripken Jr. play in the minors, where he set a streak of playing 114 consecutive games as IL Rookie of the Year in 1981.
So as I pulled up the O’s page, I saw there were not one but two throwback bird logos. Apparently in 1967, for one year, there was an angry Baltimore Bird.
So I printed each out on a glossy piece of photo paper and sent them off to Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. Palmer has been a long wait in the past several years, but to my surprise the envelope was returned in just a few weeks. This just must have been good timing. Palmer’s signature is sometimes a bit sloppy, but it’s obvious he took his time with these stunning photos. He inked a perfect “Jim P” and his Hall of Fame year on each photo. So far so good.
The problem with this kind of project is the more autographs you get on them, the riskier it becomes. The Palmers looked so nice! I was almost ready to frame, but he signed them off to one corner, realizing that there would be more than one bird to grace this piece.
Who next? It has to be a player that is well known and is considered to be a lock through the mail. I went with 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey. Heck, I named my dog after him. He has to come through. So I only enjoyed the pictures for about a day before I gave up the six stamps (three each way) and sent it back out into the postal abyss. The O’s pieces are in good hands for now . . . I hope.
New England Patriots
I decided to mix it up with a little football. I’m a big Miami fan, but my brother is a die-hard New England guy. I always loved the old Patriots logo. It reminds me of growing up because my brothers and I used to write to each NFL team every season and request a team picture. I wish I would have known then that you could actually write to individual players. The teams would all send back an envelope filled with stickers, schedules and team pictures.
I remember the Patriots sticker like it was yesterday. I fired up the printer and watched it spit out the Pats logo, already knowing who the first would be to sign it. I mailed the picture, along with a few cards, to quarterback Steve Grogan, one of the great running quarterbacks of his era. Grogan is always automatic through the mail, and it arrived back in just a few weeks.
Next on the list for the Patriots is lineman Steve Nelson. These pictures look sharp – and I can’t wait to complete the project and frame them up.
My first foray into the college scene had to be the green and gold of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Ever since my father and I went to a football game in South Bend, I was hooked. You either love them or hate them.
Clicking on the Notre Dame team page, I was greeted by my favorite fighting leprechaun, fists bunched up and ready to throw down. The full-size logo looks awesome, and I decided to mail it out to a basketball legend – Kelly Tripucka. It was a good choice, as he signed both pictures in record time, adding two really nice inscriptions to my twin boys. Tripucka has one of the most stylish and legible signatures around, and he took his time with these two. This piece turned out a little different than the others, however, which is fine with me. He signed so large that I think I’m going to go ahead and end these two and frame them up. I’ll start another one for multiple Notre Dame signatures. Tripucka added “Best Swishes” and “Be Great” to his autograph.
Tripucka led the Irish in scoring all four years he played and was a big reason they made the NCAA tournament all four years. Tripucka’s team lost to Michigan State in 1979, the year State and Magic Johnson went to the championship game vs. Bird and Indiana State. As a pro, he once dropped 56 points on the Bulls. He played 10 years in the NBA and now works for the Knicks.