I'm making this list with the following rough guidelines.
- How good the person is. (All Star, Award Winner, Hall of Famer, etc.)
- How much the person means to me.
- How I got the autograph. (Through the mail, in person, etc.)
- Any fun story behind getting the autograph.
With that, let the countdown begin.
10. Harrison Barnes-Golden State Warriors Forward
One of the finest young players in the NBA today, Barnes did something few athletes do in today's world. Early in the summer, Barnes posted THIS message on his Facebook page. He invited fans to send him items for him to sign with specific guidelines. The day I saw that message, I sent out a 4x6 photo. A couple weeks later, I got the photo back signed in silver. He is now having a pretty good season playing for one of the top teams in the NBA. This was a great success from a class act to say the least.
9. Trevor Gillies-NHL/AHL Hockey Player
Up until this point, the NHL career of Trevor Gillies has been brief and full of controversy. He only has two NHL goals, but he is more known for his fighting skills. He was one of the main players in the famous brawl against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011. Now, he is playing for the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Flames. I went to see their morning skate a few weeks ago, and Gillies was as nice as could be. Click HERE for the full story. He might not be a great player, but I saw him with the Islanders and he will always be a fan favorite for me. Also, how can a guy who draws a mustache on his autograph not be on this list?
8. Matt Kemp-MLB All Star
The first in-person autograph I got at Citi Field last season was that of MLB All-Star Matt Kemp. He was playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time. He was recently traded to the San Diego Padres. He signed for a few minutes before the game, and I was lucky to get his autograph on the sweet spot of an official MLB ball. There was a huge mosh pit of people, and I was very happy to get this autograph.
7. Al Arbour-Hockey Hall of Famer, Former Islanders Coach
The Islanders have had many legends over their 43 year existence. Few are greater than coach Al Arbour. He was the Islanders coach for all four Stanley Cup Championships, and was the coach for exactly 1,500 games over his career. I attended game number 1,500 in 2007. It was an amazing experience, and the Isles got Arbour his 740th career win that night. I have autographs of pretty much everyone whose banner hangs in the Nassau Coliseum rafters, but Arbour's has been hard to find for a long time. I sent him a couple photos and an autograph card in hope of getting a response. To my delight, I got everything back signed in the mail. It was great to finally add his autograph to my collection.
6. Dwight 'Doc' Gooden-Former Mets and Yankees Pitcher
One of the most celebrated pitchers in recent baseball history, Dwight Gooden is also one of New York's beloved baseball stars. He won a World Series for both the Mets and Yankees during his time in the MLB. However, he also had problems with drugs and alcohol during his career. Over the summer, he appeared at the Nassau County Health and Fitness Expo to give a speech on how his addiction made his life difficult. He also did an autograph signing that day, and he signed three cards for me and took a photo with me. One of the cards was previously signed by Wade Boggs. It was great to meet him and hear him admit his mistakes.
5. Darryl Strawberry-Former Mets and Yankees Outfielder
Mets and Yankees. Over the summer, he was a part of the Meet Mr. Met Tour, a Mets sponsored tour of Citibank locations that featured various Mets alumni. I met Strawberry twice over the summer, and I took a photo with him and got three autographs from him over the course over the summer. He was a nice guy, and I was happy to get his autograph.
4. Curtis Granderson-Mets Outfielder
A man who made this list last year returns again. I got his autograph in the mail last year and said I hoped he would be in a Mets jersey next time I saw him. It turns out I was correct. Granderson didn't have the year I hoped he would, but he's a Met and he's here to stay. He has a reputation for being one of the nicest current players in baseball, and he lived up to that reputation over the summer. I met him two separate times over the summer, and got five autographs from him. He is truly a class act, and I hope to meet him again next season. He also gave my aunt a shoutout, as you can see in the video below.
3. Jadeveon Clowney-Houston Texans Linebacker
Although Jadeveon Clowney didn't have the rookie season anybody planned on, I had a good experience with him before the season started. I had won a free ticket to meet Clowney at the Steiner Sports Store on Long Island. I got him to sign a photo I printed out. He was a funny guy, and if you want to read the full story from that day, click HERE. Hopefully Clowney will be ready to star for the Texans next year, or he could end up being another top draft pick bust.
I very rarely get autographs from people that aren't related to sports. However, the perfect opportunity arose when I found out Dave Coulier would be doing a free comedy show on my college campus. Since I grew up watching Full House, I knew I had to get his autograph. After his hilarious comedy show, I went to try and find him. Long story short, I did get his autograph and a picture with him. HERE is the full story from that night. He is one of my favorite actors now, and one that I will always remember.
1. Denis Potvin-Hockey Hall of Famer, Former Islanders Captain
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I have autographs of nearly every Islander who has a banner hanging in the Nassau Coliseum rafters. The one player that eluded me for most of my life was Denis Potvin. He was one of the league's top defensemen and the captain of all four Islanders Stanley Cup Championship teams. I finally met him in November when I was home for Thanksgiving. HERE is the full story from that night. The fact that I was finally able to meet him after many, many years puts him in the number one slot as my top autograph of 2014.
Thanks for reading and good luck graphing! Happy New Year!