I have never been an autograph seeker. For starters, it never seemed important to me to have someone's signature. Standing in line to get one, no matter how famous the person, seemed to be a bad idea also. The following story should prove that point.
My wife and I were in the Mall of America about three years ago. We could hear the buzz as we entered the massive structure near the noon hour. Something was going on and it took us a while to figure it out. Eventually we found hundreds of screaming teenage girls crowding the center of the mall on every level.
It seems they were waiting on a young actor named Zac Efron. My wife knew who he was and told me about his role in Disney Channel's "High School Musical." He was supposed to appear at noon, but was late. When he did show up, the youngsters erupted.
We ran into a lady and her daughter who obviously were in the mall for the sole purpose of seeing Efron. The elder female told us they had arrived at 2 a.m. to get in line. The doors to the mall opened at 8 a.m. and the first 100 people to enter would be able to get Efron's autograph. Apparently, they did not get there early enough as more than 100 people beat them to the door.
The girl didn't seem to be too unhappy; after all she got to see the heartthrob. Mom, on the other hand
I do, however, have a couple of prized autographs. Last year for Christmas my daughter used her connections to get me a Wood Brothers Racing t-shirt that was signed by NASCAR Hall of Famers Glen and Leonard Wood, as well as other members of the legendary racing family. It is a shirt that will never be worn.
Several years ago my best friend secured a picture of a former baseball player striking one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. My buddy did business with the man and asked him to sign the picture for a friend who was a big baseball fan. It was the inscription in the lower right hand corner that has always brought a smile to my face. Here's what he wrote after addressing it to me:
"Ralph Branca asked 'Why me?' I guess I could ask the same question, 'Why me?'
With my best wishes,
For those of you who are old enough to remember the call, "The Giants win the pennant, the Giants Win the Pennant!' you understand the reason I value the autograph. Thomson's blast off the Dodger pitcher ended one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history.
Thomson was modest in accepting the fame the home run brought him. He was keenly aware of the fact that had he struck out, Branca would have been the hero and he the goat. Now you know why I have always been enamored with what he wrote and the significance of the comment, "why me?"
We have all been on the negative side of the "why me" comment, but few of us question why we experience good fortune. The phrase came to mind on the golf course this week. Let's see what I'm talking about.
My traveling group headed north to the lake this past Wednesday as we played Eagle's Landing near Oregon. Unknown to most of us, the course had two heavy rainfalls in the 24 hours prior to our arrival. The course was soaked and it didn't take me long to ask "why me?"
On the first hole my drive hit the fairway and promptly backed up. There would be no roll today and I was lamenting the fact that I didn't get to play the senior tees. I have a couple of years to wait and that didn't seem fair to me - at least not on this day. It was my worst round of the season and despite the fact that some poor shot making was the cause of my score more so than the wet conditions, I was not unhappy to see the round come to an end.
When I reached the parking lot, I was informed that my presence was required in the clubhouse. It seems one of our guys recorded a hole-in-one and the tradition of toasting the recipient - at his expense of course - was about to take place. Being the intrepid reporter that I am, I went in to get more information on the feat and, of course, to get my free drink.
Mike "Leroy" Schroeder was the ace maker and he was probably wondering "why me" as the bill was handed to him for the dozen drinks he was forced to buy. That feeling didn't get any better as I sought out the info. It seems he aced No. 17 with a pitching wedge from 100 yards out. One hop and into the cup it disappeared. Pretty impressive feat, don't you think? Well, hold on a minute.
Instead of the usual congratulations, he was quickly put on the defensive. The younger guys suggested that he aced the easiest hole on the course. "We" had to play the hole from a robust 120 yards. I know. It just doesn't seem fair, right?
I wanted to know if it was his first hole-in-one, as most golfers play the game their entire life without getting one. Leroy held up two fingers to that question and now he has to take flack for already having an ace.
The comments referred to him being a little greedy. "A little piggish, don't you think?" was the first one. At that point other members of the swine family were shouted out including hog, boar, sow and my personal favorite, Vietnamese pot bellied
In all seriousness, the guys were just kidding around. We were all happy for him, though he had to be thinking "why me" for much of the time. Of course most of us were thinking, "hey, why not me?"
Congratulations, Leroy, on a job well done!
On a personal note, I would like to give a shoutout to my best friend, who asked Bobby Thomson to give me the autograph. He has had some serious health issues lately and I have a suggestion for him:
Though it would be easy to do so, don't ask "why me?" Instead, follow the advice of your doctors and get well fast!
Al Stephenson is the golf columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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