Sunday, July 23, 2017

TTM Return from Peter Budaj

Well, I haven't gotten too many TTM returns back recently, mostly because I haven't really sent a whole lot out the last couple of months. Still, I did manage to get one this week, from Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Peter Budaj.

Budaj is with the Lightning now, but this was actually sent to him in January of 2016, when he was playing for the AHL's Ontario Reign as a member of the Los Angeles Kings organization.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

"The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart

While I had a great time meeting two members of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team last month, I also got the great chance to meet a pro wrestling legend that very same day.

"The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart was in the Minneapolis area for an independent wrestling event, so he made a stop by FanHQ in Eden Prairie for a free public signing. Well, seeing as though I was not only already there for the "Miracle On Ice" event, but also a HUGE pro wrestling fan, I just had to stick around for this one.

Each person was allowed one free autograph, but there were other for-purchase options as well. I ended up putting a little extra money into it, and came away with a posed photo, as well as an 8x10 with a few inscriptions.

It's always been said that the best wrestling characters are their actual personalities with the volume turned up to 11, and with Hart, that is absolutely the case. He came fully equipped with his megaphone, jacket, sunglasses, and the same hairstyle he has had since the '80s, which for him, has never gone out of style.

I will also say that he is one of the nicest, most engaging autograph guests I have ever met. As I was getting up to the table, which he was standing next to, instead of sitting, Shaun, who runs FanHQ, said that he is the very first "stand-up" guest he has had. Hart told him that he prefers it, since it allows him to get closer to the fans, and give them a more personable experience, since they are the reason he is able to do what he does for a living.

It was an absolutely amazing experience overall. Hart is one of the greatest heel managers of all time, and just an absolute pleasure to meet in person.

Friday, July 7, 2017

2 Names Added to My Miracle on Ice Photo

A few weeks ago, I had the great chance to meet a couple of guys from the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team. Dubbed the "Miracle on Ice" due to their unlikely defeat of a dominant Russian team and eventual Gold Medal, the event has been named in many places as he greatest moment in American sports history.

I had previously gotten 11 signatures on my 16x20 photo of the post-game celebration, in large part due to an event that FanHQ hosted in March, featuring 11 members of the team.

The event was supposed to feature all 12 Minnesota guys, but unfortunately, John Harrington was unable to appear due to a flight cancellation. His signing was postponed, but now that it had been rescheduled, I made the trip back to the Minneapolis area. Joining him was Wisconsin boy Mark Johsnon, which would bring my total up to a "lucky 13."

The Harrington ticket I had purchased from the previous event would still be honored, but I decided to go ahead and buy one more ticket for each guy, figuring I'd also get an 8x10 signed by each of them. Considering the early star time, and the long drive my wife and I had to make, plus the fact that neither of us are morning people, I arrived at the event a little late.

I got my tickets, picked up an 8x10 for each of them to sign, and got in line. Harrington's line was shorter, so I got into that one, and got his signature on both the large group photo, and the 8x10 of him celebrating a goal.

I got into the Mark Johnson line next, and as I was waiting, I bean looking over my group photo, just curious as to where his signature already was on that one. After not being able to find #10, I asked one of the FanHQ employees if Johnson had been there for the big event, or if he was a new one. I was told he was a new guest, and had him sign the group photo instead of the 8x10. I guess, for some reason, when I saw his name on the event announcement, I assumed he was one I already had, and didn't give it another thought. Had I done my research ahead of time, I probably would have skipped the Harrington 8x10, and had Johnson sign a copy of his 1990-91 Upper Deck card for the set that I'm working on. At least I finally asked at the last minute, instead of missing out on him on the celebration photo. I'd really be kicking myself if that had happened.