Wednesday, June 06, 2012
My Gretzky Autograph
What a goofy photo for a hockey player. Come on, Wayne! Take off those horrible glasses, grow a beard and stop smiling. There's no smiling in hockey.
Here is an autographed advertising card (a little larger than a postcard) that I had gotten signed by the "Great One" over 20 years ago. Let me set the stage.
I was my junior year in High School, and Wayne Gretzky had just been announced as the newest member of the Kings. I remember being elated and torn about the news at the same time. You see, before his arrival, I was already an avid Kings. I religiously listened to games on the radio- even before ever going to an actual game. I followed the exploits of players like Tiger Williams, admired the strong defensive play of Jay Wells and saw the rise of burgeoning rookies like Luc Robitaille and Bernie Nicholls. It was Marcel Dionne, though who was my number #1 favorite player. I loved that little stout man. So, when he was traded away to the Rangers after the 1986-87 season I had swore that I would never listen to another game. I was as pissed as any teenage fan could be. Of course, that anger didn't stay long as the Gretzky signing was announced soon thereafter. Still, the Dionne trade hurts to this day as I often wonder what it would have been like to see both Wayne and Marcel on the ice together. I bet it would have been magic.
Anyway, a buddy of mine told me that Gretzky would be at South Coast Plaza for a free signing at a Macy's on a weekday evening. So, since we were so close that meant I would have to be there. We left school and went directly to the mall in order to get into the queue, and were within the first 100 people there. An hour or so later, the line had grown to thousands. Literally, thousands! Heck, that line was longer than any ride at Disneyland on a busy day. Really!!
Gretzky was late to Macy's due to traffic from LA to Orange County, and clearly looked distressed at the number of people in attendance. No man could possibly fulfill that many autographs in the couple of hours he was slated to be there. I'm sure he was wondering why the store didn't cut off the line because no man has the strength to sign that much.
So, we got the above ad card signed, and I also got a mini stick signed by Gretzky that hangs at my home to this day. I had forgotten to take a pic of the stick, so when I get home from tonights' Game 4 I'll take a pic and put it below. BTW, I had been told that Wayne Gretzky stayed all night long and fulfilled every autograph request that evening at South Coast Plaza. At least, that's what I was told. Besides, he's the "Great One." Of course he stuck around.
UPDATE: Here's a pic of the autographed mini stick of Wayne Gretzky.