OLYMPIC AUTOGRAPHS REQUIRE INFORMATION ABOUT ATHLETES AND THEIR SUPPORT GROUPS

Soon sports fans will be glued to their television sets as the Winter Olympics get underway in Russia. Although the games will not start until September, the hype and hoopla for fans will be off-and-running long before competition actually starts.

Autograph fans will be reminded of the truly gifted athletes who participate in the Games – and even the most diehard collectors who insist their collections are restricted to one or two sports – will be hard pressed not to try and add great sports stars such as diver Greg Louganis, runner-long jumper Carl Lewis, basketball player David Robinson or decathlete Daley Thompson.

To assist collectors in their efforts to obtain signed items from the great athletes around the world, we offer the addresses of the Olympic Committees from each country.

Most countries’ Olympic Committees willingly forward mail to their athletes – including those of former Olympians. The addresses of Olympic Committees are absolutely essential to collectors who want to add autographs of athletes around the world since few collectors have the financial resources to travel abroad in quest of signed items.

Television, national magazines and local newspapers are other major sources for learning how to reach former Olympic champions. Many will offer profiles of some of the great stars competing this winter – as well as some of the all-time great champions. Watch the programs and read the articles closely because they will often offer tips on where the former great Olympians are living or the companies for which they now work.

This issue also offers examples of the signatures of a number of former gold medalists. Perhaps your examination of these signatures will bring you pleasant memories or entice you to pursue.

Most Olympians do not have the opportunity to cash in on their athletic achievements as other athletes can do in baseball, football and basketball so requests for signed items should always be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped return envelope and items requested for signatures should be kept to a minimum.

But the speed skaters, skiers, biathletes, bobsledders, lugers, skeleton racers, ski jumpers, wrestlers, weightlifters, synchronized swimmers, canoeists, marksmen, cyclists, boxers, tennis players, fencers, archers, rowers, equestrians, gymnasts, yachtsmen and team players in curling, water polo, volleyball and handball are truly remarkable men and women whose autographs would add luster to any autograph collection.

You can also check out the addresses for many former Olympians online at V.I.P. Address File or in the V.I.P. Address Book (www.vipaddress.com).

Here are the world’s Olympic Committee Addresses – all in one place!

Afghanistan   Olympic Committee PO Box 1824,   GPO Kabul Afghanistan
Albania   Olympic Committee PO Box 63 Sheshi   Mustafa K Alatruk Albania
Algeria   Olympic Committee PO Box 460 Ben Aknoun   Alger 16306 Algeria
American Samoa Olympic Committee PO Box 5380 Pago Pago 96799 American Samoa
American Virgin Islands Olympic Committee PO Box 1719 Kingshill VI 00851- American Virgin Islands
Andorra   Olympic Committee Edf  Principat A 1-2, Ave Tarragona 101 Andorra La Vella Andorra
Angola   Olympic Committee CP 3814, Citadela   Desportiva Luanda Angola
Antigua   & Barbuda Olympic Committee PO Box   3115, Redcliffe St Saint   John’s Antigua   & Barbuda
Argentina Olympic Committee Juncal No   1662 C1062ABV   Buenos Aires Argentina
Armenia   Olympic Committee 9 Abovyan   St 0001   Yerevan Armenia
Aruba   Olympic Committee PO Box   1175, Complejo Deport Guillermo Trinadad Oranjestad Aruba
Australia Olympic Committee 140 George   St, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney NSW   2000 Australia
Austria Olympic Committee Rennweg   46-50, #200 1030 Vienna Austria
Azerbaijan   Olympic Committee Olympic St   Bl 5 AZ 370072   Baku Azerbaijan
Bahamas   Olympic Committee PO Box   SS-6250, Quantum Plaza, Soldier Road Nassau NP Bahamas
Bahrain   Olympic Committee PO Box   26406 Manama Bahrain
Bangladesh   Olympic Committee Bhaban,   Rajuk Ave, Outer Stadium, Durana Paltan Dhaka 1000 Bangladesh
Barbados   Olympic Committee Olympic   Center, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex Wildey,   Saint Michael BB 15904 Barbados
Belarus   Olympic Committee 2 Y Kolasa   St 22005 Minsk Belarus
Belgium   Olympic Committee 9 Ave de   Bouchout 1020   Bruxelles Belgium
Belize   Olympic Committee PO Box 384,   1 King St Belize City Belize
Benin   Olympic Committee 03 BP 2787 Cotonou Benin
Bermuda   Olympic Committee PO Box HM   1665 Hamilton HM   GX Bermuda
Bhutan Olympic   Committee PO Box 939 Thimphu Bhutan
Bolivia   Olympic Committee PO Box 448,   Calle Mexico No 1744 La Paz Bolivia
Bosnia   & Herzegovina Olympic Committee Olimpijska   dvorana Zetra, Alipasinabb 7100   Sarajevo Bosnia   & Herzegovina
Botswana   Olympic Committee Unit 2, 1,   Portion 121, International Finance Park Gaborone Bostwana
Brazil   Olympic Committee Ave das   Americas, 899 Barra da Tijuca Rio de   Janeiro RJ 22631-000 Brazil
British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee PO Box 209, 9, J R O Neal Plaza Business, Road Town Tortola British Virgin Islands
Brunei   Darussalam Olympic Committee PO Box 2008 Bandor Seri   Begawan BS 8674 Brunei   Darussalam
Bulgaria   Olympic Committee 4 Angel   Kanchev St 1000 Sofia Bulgaria
Burkina   Faso Olympic Committee 01 B P 3925,   Stade du Aout, Porte 13 Ouagadougou   01 Burkina   Faso
Burundi   Olympic Committee BP 6247,   Ave du 18 Septembre 10 Rohero 1   Bujumbura Burundi
Cambodia   Olympic Committee St 276,   Boeung Keng Kang II, PO Box 101 Phnom Penh   12303 Cambodia
Cameroon   Olympic Committee PO Box 528 Yaounde Cameroon
Canada   Olympic Committee 21 Saint   Clair Ave E, #900 Toronto ON   M4T 1L9 Canada
Cape Verde   Olympic Committee PO Box 95A,   Rua da UCCLA Achada de   Santo Antonio, Praia Cape Verde
Cayman   Islands Olympic Committee PO Box 1786 Grand   Cayman KY1-1109 Cayman   Islands
Central   Africa Republic Olympic Committee PO Box   1541, Rue de Lakouanga Bangui Central   African Republic
Chad Olympic Committee BP 4383 N’djamena Moursal Chad
Chile   Olympic Committee Ave Ramon Cruz   N 1176 Comuna de   Nonao, 2239 Santiago Chile
China   Olympic Committee 2 Tiyuguan   Road Beijing   100763 China
Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee Chu-lun St 20 104 Taipei Taipei
Colombia   Olympic Committee Ave 68 N   55-65, Apartado   Aereo 5093, Bogota DC Colombia
Comoros   Olympic Committee BP 1025 Moroni Comoros
Congo   Democratic Republic Olympic Committee 10 Ave Dima Kinshasa Congo   Democratic Republic
Congo Republic   Olympic Committee PO Box 1007 Brazzaville Congo   Republic
Cook   Islands Olympic Committee PO Box 569 Rarotonga Cook   Islands
Costa Rica   Olympic Committee PO Box 81-2200 Coronado, 1000 San Jose Costa Rica
Croatia Olympic Committee Trg Kresimira Cosica 11 10000 Zagreb Croatia
Cuba Olympic Committee PO Box 4, Calle 13 #601,   Esq C Vedado CP 10400 La Habana Cuba
Cyprus   Olympic Committee Olympic   House, 21 Amfipoleos St, PO Box 23931 1687   Nicosia Cyprus
Czech Republic Olympic Committee Benesovska 6 101 00 Prague 10 Czech Republic
Denmark Olympic Committee Idraettens Hus, Broendby   Stadion 20 2605 Broendby Denmark
Djibouti Olympic   Committee 9 Rue de Geneve, PO Box   1366 Djibouti Djibouti
Dominica Olympic   Committee 40 Hillsborough St Roseau Dominica
Dominican Republic Olympic   Committee PO Box 406, Ave Pedro   Henríquez Urena 107 Sector la Esperille,   Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
Ecuador Olympic Committee Explanada del Estadio   Modelo, Ave de las Americas Casilla 09-01-10619,   Guayaquil Ecuador
Egypt Olympic Committee El Estade El Bahary St Nasr City BP 2055, Cairo Egypt
El Salvadore   Olympic Committee PO Box 759,   45 Ave Sur, #512, Colonia Flor Blanca San   Salvador El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea Olympic   Committee Ministerio de Educación y   Deportes, PO Box 847 Malabo Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea Olympic Committee PO Box 7677 Asmara Eritrea
Estonia Olympic Committee Pirita tee 12 10127 Tallinn Estonia
Ethiopia Olympic   Committee Axum Building, Ghana St,   PO Box 5160 Addis-Ababa Ethopia
Fiji Olympic Committee PO Box 1279, Bau Street   17 Suva Fiji
Finland Olympic Committee Radiokatu 20 00240 Helsinki Finland
France Olympic Committee Maison du Sport Français, 1 Ave Pierre-de-Coubertin 75640 Paris Cedex 13 France
Gabon Olympic Committee

PO Box 477

Libreville Gabon
Gambia Olympic Committee Olympic House, Bertil   Harding Highway, PO Box 605 Mile 7, Bakau Gambia
Georgia Olympic Committee 11 Machabeli St 0105 Tbilisi Georgia
Germany   Olympic Committee Otto-Fleck-Schneise   12 60528   Frandfurt am Main Germany
Ghana Olympic Committee   Accra North Ghana
Greece Olympic Committee 52 Avenue Dimitrios   Vikelas 152 33 Halandri Athens Greece
Grenada Olympic Committee Woolwich Road, PO Box 370 Saint George’s Grenada
Guam Olympic Committee 715 Route 8 Maite 96915 Guam
Guatemala   Olympic Committee PO Box   025368 Miami FL   33102 USA
Guinea Olympic Committee Stade du 28 Septembre BP   1993 Commune de Dixinn Conakry Guinea
Guinea-Bissau Olympic   Committee CP 32, R Justino Lopes 21   A Bissau Guinea-Bissau
Guyana Olympic Committee PO Box 10133, Olympic   House, 76 High St Kingston, Georgetown Guyana
Haiti Olympic Committee 48 Rue Clerveaux Petion-Ville Haiti
Honduras   Olympic Committee PO Box   3134, Complejo Deportivo J Simon Azcona Tegucigalpa   MDC Honduras
Hong Kong Olympic   Committee 2/F Olympic House, 1   Stadium Path, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay Hong Kong China
Hungary Olympic Committee Magyar Olimpiai Bizottsag
Csorsz Utca 49-51
H-1124 Budapest Hungary
Iceland Olympic Committee Engjavegur 6, Sports Center Laugardalur 104 Reykjavik Iceland
Iran Olympic Committee North Seoul Ave, Niyayesh Highway 19956-14336 Tehran Iran
Iraq Olympic Committee Palestine Street, AL-Mustansiryah District Baghdad Iraq
Ireland Olympic Committee Olympic House, Harbour Road, Howth Dublin Ireland
Israel Olympic Committee PO Box 53310, 6 Shitrit Street 69482 Tel-Aviv Israel
Italy Olympic Committee Foro Italico , Largo Lauro de Bosis 15 00135 Rome Italy
Ivory Coast Olympic  Committee 08 BP 1212 Abidjan 08 Ivory Coast
Jamaica Olympic Committee 9 Cunningham Avenue Kingston 6 Jamaica
Japan Olympic Committee Kishi Memorial Hall, 1-1-1 Jinnan Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8050 Japan
Jordan Olympic Committee PO Box 19258 Amman 11196 Jordan
Kazakhstan Olympic Committee 77 Zhambul St Almaty 050000 Kazakhstan
Kenya Olympic Committee PO Box 46888, Olympic House, Upper Hill, Kenya Road Nairobi 00100 Kenya
Kiribati   Olympic Committee PO Box 238 Bairiki   Tarawa Kiribati
Korea,   North Olympic Committee Olympic Centre, 424   Olympic-ro Songpa-gu Seoul 138-749 North Korea
Korea, South Olympic Committee PO Box 56, Kumsong-dong 2 Kwangbok St, Mangyongdae District Pyongyang South Korea
Kuwait Olympic Committee PO Box 795 13008 Safat Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan Olympic Committee 40 Togolok Moldo St 720001 Bishkek Kyrgyzstan
Laos People’s Republic Olympic Committee Signy-Centre, Khounbourom Road CP 3183Vientiane Laos
Latvia Olympic Committee Elizabetes St 49 Riga 1010 Latvia
Lebonon Olympic Committee PO Box 23, Saint Charles Hospital St, Tony Khoury’s Bldg, #100 Hazmieh Beirut Lebanon
Lesotho Olympic Committee PO Box 756, Kingsway Maseru 100 Lesotho
Liberia Olympic Committee PO Box 6242 1000 Monrovia 10 Liberia
Libya Olympic Committee Olympic Building, Sports City, PO Box 879 Gurji, Tripoli Libya
Liechtenstein Olympic Committee Postfach 427, Im Rietacker 4 9494 Schaan Liechtenstein
Lithuania Olympic Committee 15 Rue Olimpieciu 09200 Vilnius Lithuania
Luxembourg Olympic Committee 3 Route d’Arlon 8009 Strassen Luxembourg
Macedonia Olympic   Committee PO Box 914, Bul Kuzman   Josifovski Pitu 17 1000 Skopje Macedonia
Madagascar Olympic Committee Villa Mahatazana, PR II J149, Ambohijatovo Analamahitsy 101 Antananarivo Madagascar
Malawi Olympic Committee Along M1 Road, Area 36, PO Box 31757 Lilongwe 3 Malawi
Malaysia Olympic Committee Mezzanine Floor, Wisma OCM, Hang Jebat Road 50150 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Maldives Olympic Committee Youth/Sports Development Centre, #200, Abadah Ufaa Magu Male 2005 Maldives
Mali Olympic Committee BP 88 Bamako Mali
Malta Olympic Committee National Swimming Pool Complex, Maria Teresa Spinelli St Gzira GZR 1711 Malta
Marshall Islands Olympic Committee PO Box 3002 Majuro 96960 Marshall Islands
Mauritania Olympic Committee BP 1360 Nouakchott Mauritania
Mauritius Olympic Committee Labourdonnais Court, #200, St Georges Street Port-Louis Mauritius
Mexico Olympic Committee PO Box 36 024, Ave del Conscripto y Anillo Perif, Lomas de   Sotelo 11200 Mexico DF Mexico
Micronesia Olympic Committee PO Box PS 319, Palikir 96941 Pohnpei Fm Micronesia
Moldova Olympic Committee Rue Puskin 11 MD-2012 Chisinau Moldova
Monaco Olympic Committee 7 Ave des Castelans, Stade Louis II 98000 Monaco Monaco
Mongolia Olympic House, Chinggis Ave, Ulaanbaatar, 210648 Mongolia
Montenegro Olympic Committee 19 Decembra 21 81000 Podgorica Montenegro
Morocco Olympic Committee Siege des Sports, Blvd Ibn Sina Aguedal 51, BP 134 Rabat Morocco
Mozambique Olympic Committee Rua Mateus Sansao Muthemba 397-431 Maputo Mozambique
Myanmar Olympic Committee Indoor Stadium (1) , Thuwunna, Thingangyun Township Yangon Myanmar
Namibia Olympic Committee PO Box 21162 Windhoek Namibia
Nauru Olympic Committee PO Box 7 Nauru Nauru
Nepal Olympic Committee PO Box 11455, Satdobato Lalitpur Nepal
Netherlands Olympic Committee PO Box 302, Papendallaan 60 6800 AH Arnhem Netherlands
New Zealand Olympic Committee PO Box 643 Wellington 6140 New Zealand
Nicaragua Olympic Committee Residencial Las Palmas, Iglesia Las Palmas , 80 Vrs al Este 4981 Managua Nicaragua
Niger Olympic Committee BP 11975 8000 Niamey Niger
Nigeria Olympic Committee National Stadium, Surulere, PO Box 3156, Marina Lagos Nigeria
Norway Olympic Committee Servicebox 1, Ullevaal Stadion 0840 Oslo Norway
Oman Olympic Committee PO Box 2842 112 Ruwi Oman
Pakistan Olympic Committee Olympic House, Hameed Nizami Road (Temple Road) 2 Lahore 54000 Pakistan
Palau Olympic Committee PO Box 155 96940 Koror Palau
Palestine Olympic Committee PO Box 469 9727 Gaza Palestine
Panama Olympic Committee Calle H, #6, El Cangrejo, 4 Piso, Oficina 401 Panama City Panama
Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee PO Box 467 Boroko 111 NCD Papua New Guinea
Paraguay Olympic Committee PO Box 1420, Medallistas Olimpicos 1 Asuncion Paraguay
Peru Olympic Committee Cesar Vallejo No 290 Lima 14 Peru
Philippines Olympic Committee Philsports Complex , Building A, Meralco Ave 1603 Pasig City Philippines
Poland Olympic Committee Wybrzeze Gdynskie 4 01-531 Varsovie Poland
Portugal Olympic Committee Travessa da Memoria # 36 1300-403 Lisbon Portugal
Puerto Rica Olympic Committee Casa Olimpica, Apartado 9020008 San Juan 00902-0008 Puerto Rico
Qatar Olympic Committee PO Box 7494, Olympic Building Doha Qatar
Romania Olympic Committee Bd Marasti 20 A, Sector 1 011468 Bucharest Romania
Russia Olympic Committee Luzhnetskaya Nab 8 119992 Moscow Russian Federation
Rwanda Olympic Committee BP 2684, Stade National Amahoro de Remera Kigali Rwanda
Saint Kitts & Nevis Olympic Committee PO Box 953, Olympic House, #18 Taylors Range Basseterre Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Lucia Olympic Committee PO Box CP 6023, Barnard Hill Castries Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent & Grenadines Olympic Committee PO Box 1644 Kingstown Saint Vincent & Grenadines
Samoa Olympic Committee PO Box 1301 Apia Samoa
San Marino Olympic Committee Via Rancaglia 30 47899 Serravalle San Marino
Sao Tome & Principe Olympic Committee CP 630, Palacio dos Pioneiros, Salas 9 e 10, Quinta de Santo   Antonio Sao Tome Sao Tome & Principe
Saudi   Arabia Olympic Committee PO Box   6040, Prince Faisal Fahd Olympic Complex Riyadh   11442 Saudi   Arabia
Senegal Olympic Committee PO Box 356 Dakar Senegal
Serbia Olympic Committee Generala Vasica 5 11040 Belgrade Serbia
Seychelles Olympic Committee PO Box 584 Victoria Mahe Seychelles
Sierra Leone Olympic Committee Howe Street 25, PM Bag 639 Freetown Sierra Leone
Singapore Olympic Committee Singapore Sports Council Building, West Wing, #200, 230 Stadium Blvd Singapore 397799 Singapore
Slovakia Olympic Committee Kukucinova 26 838 08 Bratislava Slovakia
Slovenia Olympic Committee Celovska 25 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia
Solomon Islands Olympic Committee NSC Building Kukum High Way, PO Box 532 Honiara Solomon Islands
Somalia Olympic Committee DHL Mogadishu Mogadishu Somalia
South   Africa Olympic Committee PO Box 1355 Houghton,   Johanesburg 2041 South   Africa
Spain Olympic Committee Calle Arequipa 13, Gran   Via de Hortaleza 28043 Madrid Spain
Sri Lanka Olympic Committee #100/9 F, Independence Ave Colombo 7 Sri Lanka
Sudan Olympic Committee PO Box 1938, Africa St Khartoum Sudan
Suriname Olympic Committee PO Box 3043, Letitia Vriesdelaan, Olympic Center Paramaribo Suriname
Swaziland Olympic Committee PO Box 835 Mbabane H100 Swaziland
Sweden Olympic Committee Sofiatornet Olympiastadion 114 33 Stockholm Sweden
Switzerland Olympic Committee PO Box 606 3000 Berne 22 Switzerland
Syria Olympic Committee PO Box 3375, Ave Baramke Damascus Syria
Tajikistan Olympic Committee PO Box 2, Aini St24 734025 Dushanbe Tajikistan
Tanzania Olympic Committee PO Box 2182, National Housing Cooperation, Mwinyijuma Road, Mwananyamala Dar-Es-Salaam Tanzania
Thailand Olympic Committee Banampawan Sriayudhaya Road 226 Dusit Bangkok 10300 Thailand
Timor-Leste Olympic Committee PO Box 137, Ave de Lisboa Dili Timor-Leste
Togo Olympic Committee PO Box 1320, Angle Av Duisburg-Rue des Nimes Lome Togo
Tonga Olympic Committee PO Box 1278, Vaha’akolo Road, Haveluloto Nuku’alofa Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee PO Box 529, 121 Abercromby St Port of Spain Trinidad & Tobago
Tunisia Olympic Committee Centre Cult & Sp de la Jeunesse, Av Othman Ibn Afane El   Menzah VI 1004 Tunis Tunisia
Turkey Olympic Committee Olimpiyatevi/Olympic House, Kisim Sonu 4 34158 Atakoy-Istanbul Turkey
Turkmenistan Olympic Committee 76 Garashsyzlyk St 744013 Ashgabat Turkmenistan
Tuvalu Olympic Committee Private Mail Bag Funafuti Tuvalu
Uganda Olympic Committee Plot 2-10 Heskethbell Road, Lugogo Sports Complex, PO Box 2610 Kampala Uganda
Ukrane Olympic Committee 39-41, Khoryva St 04071 Kiev Ukraine
United Arab Emirates   Olympic Committee 701 Business Village,   Block B, PO Box 4350 Dubai United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom Olympic   Committee 60 Charlotte St London W1T 2NU England
United   States Olympic Committee 1 Olympic   Plaza Colorado   Springs CO 80909 USA
Uruguay Olympic Committee CP 161, Calle Canelones 1044 Montevideo 11100 Uruguay
Uzbekistan Olympic Committee Almazar St 15 / 1 100003 Tashkent Uzbekistan
Vanuatu Olympic Committee PO Box 284 Port Vila Vanuatu
Venezuela Olympic Committee Urb El Paraiso, Ave Estadio , Edificio Comite Olimpico   Venezolano Caracas 1020 Venezuela
Vietnam Olympic Committee Tran Phu Street 36, Badinh District Hanoi Vietnam
Yemen Olympic Committee Althawrah Sports City Complex, PO Box 2701 Sana’a Yemen
Zambia Olympic Committee P O Box 36119 10101 Lusaka Zambia
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee 3 Aintree Circle, Belvedere Harare Zimbabwe

 

Persistence, Persistence, Persistence – In Search of a Gabriela Sabatini Autograph

Persistence is sometimes the name of the game.  At other times, it is the only game.

While there are not as many collectors of autographs in the tennis field, there are some collectors who follow the bouncing white ball and collect signatures of their court heroes and heroines.

Bill Tilden, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Louis Brough, Chris Everet, Maureen Connally and Steffi Graf are certainly names which would add luster to any autograph collection.

But this is a story of a very attractive player. Maybe it’s her looks, maybe it’s her aura of aloofness, but it was Gabriela Sabatini’s autographed photo which I really wanted.  But wanting and getting are often two different things.

The saga began by trying to write the young Argentine star directly.  One letter went out with no reply, then a second, then a third and then a fourth.  All to no avail.  Then a fifth letter brought a response from her fan club in Argentina.  If I’d send along $25 U.S. dollars, they would send me newsletters about her and also an autographed photo.

Well, $25 seemed a little high for an autographed photo of a player who at that time had never won a major tournament.  I personally don’t have a lot of faith in organizations that send out mimeographed letters requesting $25.  Sabatini had only won close to $1 million in prize money at the time and this didn’t even count endorsements.  So I decided to try alternate routes.

And so the saga continues.

First, I wrote her agent at ProServ, the Washington D.C. firm which managed Gabriela.  I asked their help but again received no response.  The letter included a self-addressed mailing label, return postage and a check for a couple of dollars for the photo (even though they probably had hundreds of publicity photos of Gabriela lying around).

Second, I wrote the Public Relations Director at Prince Manufacturing, the racquet firm for which Sabatini endorsed.  I sent the same enclosures.  They returned my check, did not send a photo (even though they use her picture in their ads) and suggested I write Don Dell, the head of ProServ.

Third, Gabriela came to the Los Angeles area to play in a Virginia Slims tournament, so I called and got the name of the tournament director, and sent a letter requesting help (and again sent the address label, check and postage).  They responded that she would be signing at a local tennis shop at such-and-such time on such-and-such day.  They returned the check but of course didn’t send a photo.  When I called the tennis shop, they didn’t know anything about the “signing”.

Fourth, I called the tournament office.  They said she might be signing at the club’s pro shop but they didn’t know when.  When I called the pro shop, they said they expected her in that afternoon (though they didn’t know when) and the only way I could come to the pro shop to ask for an autograph was to buy a ticket to the tournament which they said was $50.  I said no thanks.

Fifth, I wrote her again in care of the Women’s International Tennis Association.  This resulted in another letter from her fan club in Argentina.  The same identical form letter – except the price was now $30 U.S. dollars.

I wrote Don Dell at ProServ, told him the people at Prince had suggested I write him for help (again sent the address label, check and return postage).

Lo and behold, one day an envelope arrived from ProServ with a signed photo of Gabriela Sabatini and they returned my check.

One more letter was due – a thank you note to Dell – for the time and effort of his people.

Doubtlessly Gabriela is a gracious person who willingly signs an autograph – if you could get to her and you had a photo available.  Probably, it would have been a lot cheaper to just purchase the signed photo through her fan club, but as I wrote above, I’m leery of mimeographed letters.

She did finally win the US Open singles & Wimbledon doubles. And after she retired, she was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Still looking for Gabriela?  You can find her in the V.I.P. Address Book or online at the V.I.P. Address File Database Lookup – all at www.vipaddress.com.  Check it out!

BASKETBALL GREATS VARY FROM GRACIOUS TO DOWNRIGHT RUDE

Like any sport, basketball has its good guys and its bad guys when it comes to signing autographs.

Longtime autograph collector Roger Christensen considered basketball as his favorite sport. He was lucky in being closely associated with a couple of professional teams working as an official statistician for the former San Diego Clippers (now Los Angeles Clippers) and serving as guest ball boy for the San Francisco Warriors (now Golden State Warriors). In these capacities, he had courtside and locker room access to some of the greatest hoop stars of all-time.

He says he has more than 8,000 signed basketball items including photos, gum cards, programs, 3×5 cards, letters, first day covers.

And after years of collecting, he has his list of the most courteous and most willing-to-sign players.

The all-time greats include Jerry West, World B. Free, Julius (Dr. J) Erving, Jamal Wilkes and late superstar Pete Maravich. Other real nice guys are Darryl Dawkins, Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper, Swen Nader, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, Adrian Dantley and Robert Reid. The late Lucius Allen was another who was always gracious to his fans.

The classiest guy in sports, in his opinion, is Dr. J. He was always nice to everybody and would sign for everybody who asked – and at any time.

To help his collection, he bought at quite reasonable prices several thousand 8×10 glossy photos which teams send out to the media (and generally will not sell to the general public unless they can get an outrageous markup). He set up a folder with the photos and other items he wanted to get signed for every active player. When the teams would come to town, he would take the folders with him and use his credentials to get access to them.

Most players are real good about signing, he says, but then there are a few who should be part of the “Biggest Jerks in the Sports World” list. Some are real superstars and I am sure idols of thousands of fans. But when you meet them in person and are subjected to their snubs, insults and rudeness, you tend to want to call them just plain jerks. These include Bob Lanier, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, John Shumate, Ray Williams, Freddie Brown and Dave Cowens.

Can you get autographs from players by writing them in care of their teams? After all, there are thousands of fans out there who do not live in the metropolitan areas and never have the chance to see their heroes play in person, to say nothing of getting close enough to ask for an autograph before or after games. Mail can usually pile up so it takes time – especially for the superstars – to go through the letters and requests. Some players like Swen Nader would sit at a table and faithfully sign anything. The same was true of Kermit Washington, Kevin Kunnert, Phil Smith and Jamal Wilkes. On the other hand, superstar Walt Frazier would set his bags down, gather up his mail and promptly dump every single envelope in a trash can.

So you see, it helps collectors, who anxiously await answers to their requests for autographed items, to learn the personal characteristics of their heroes. Once they do, they might save not only wasted postage but they might decide there are other athletes much more deserving of their time, energy and admiration.

Of course after retirement from the sport, some of these so-called jerks may become great signers so don’t give up.

You can find their contact information in the V.I.P. Address Book or online at the V.I.P. Lookup Database File. Both can be found by going to www.vipaddress.com.

MICHAEL COOPER – A REAL NICE GUY

To autograph collectors, there are a number of super nice athletes who really take the time to accommodate their fans.

Perhaps one of the nicest players in any sport is former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Michael Cooper.

A story came to light several years ago which should make all of us appreciate what a real gentleman Cooper is. Aida Tejda, a native of Guatemala who now lives in the Los Angeles area, is a big basketball, Laker and Cooper fan. She is like many of us who root for our favorite players and teams and then relive the team’s ups and downs the following day.

Knowing of her rabid following of Cooper and the Lakers, one of Aida’s co-workers wrote Cooper, told him about how Aida taped all the Lakers games since coming to this country. She also told Cooper how Aida dreamed of being in the shoes (or more likely the seat) of actor Jack Nicholson who can afford to buy season tickets and sit on the front row at the games and how she always wanted to meet Cooper.  Smith asked the N.B.A. star if he would send along an autographed item as a surprise present for Aida.

Then one day during the Lakers championship playoffs, Aida was on her way out the door to go to lunch, when a co-worker told her there was an emergency and her boss at The Capital Group, an investment firm in Los Angeles, wanted to see her.

As Aida neared her supervisor’s office, she saw a large crowd of people and a man towering over the group who looked like Michael Cooper.  Lo and behold, it was Cooper and he was looking for Aida.  The service assistant was naturally stunned when she realized who it was and even more so when everyone shouted, “Here is Aida.”  As she was pushed forward to meet Cooper, she tried to shake hands but he brushed her hand aside and gave her a hug and a kiss.

The great defensive standout had interrupted his drive from Santa Barbara to the playoff game to stop by and see Aida. While people bustled around and the cage star posed for pictures with Aida and some of her co-workers, Cooper said he needed to talk to her in private. They went into an office and closed the door. From a duffel bag, Cooper began to bring out a potpourri of gifts. These included an autographed photo for Aida and three more for each of her sons. He also gave her some Laker books and then he gave her a basketball autographed by himself, James Worthy and Byron Scott.  Next he gave her a pair of his shoes, duly autographed, which she says are huge.  After all, if you are 6’7”, it takes a lot of feet to get you up-and-down the court.

And finally he presented her with tickets to that night’s championship series game. What more could a fan ever dream of?

Aida may not be a collector of autographs in the sense of collectors who acquire signatures of many different athletes but she is a died-in-the-wool Cooper and Laker fan for life.  And who can blame her!

Later Aida was introduced to Cooper’s wife Wanda and their children and has seen the star on several occasions.  Aida sums up her once-in-a-lifetime experience with the understatement “Michael Cooper is a nice, nice man.”

Wouldn’t we all like to have such a surprise from our favorite star?

If you have a favorite player (or want to say “hi” to Michael Cooper), find him or her at www.vipaddress.com.

ARE CHARITIES INFLATING AUTOGRAPH PRICES?

People like to help, but maybe it’s getting out of hand

By Adele Cooke

Users of our website www.vipaddress.com are often big-time collectors of celebrity autographs. One way collectors can add to their collections is through auctions of memorabilia at celebrity auctions.

Paying for autographs is an increasing phenomenon in the autograph field.  You can pay beaucoup bucks for signed memorabilia from hundreds of autograph dealers or auction houses.  And hopping on the pay-for-an-autograph bandwagon are many, many charities.

In some cases you might be asked to pay directly to a celebrity. If you collectors pay directly to a v.i.p., you might not mind the fee if you know it goes to a worthwhile charity.  A few celebrities – including some of the real superstars in the entertainment and sports fields – ask for donations to their favorite charity in return for an autographed item.

I have personally never minded this aspect of a famous person asking their public to help worthwhile causes, but recently I, along with a number of other collectors, are beginning to wonder if it might not be getting out of hand.

The late baseball manager Sparky Anderson may well have been trying for an all-time record several years ago when he scheduled an auction of baseball uniforms and equipment – some of which were to be autographed – as part of a $500,000 scheme to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the children’s wing at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The auction of game-worn and autographed jerseys, bats, caps, balls and other equipment was targeted as part of an overall $2.5 million campaign in support of the two hospitals.

Average collectors, as opposed to people or corporations with big bankrolls, should cast a concerned eye at the operation. After all, how many collectors are willing, or have the ability, to pay $1,000 for a jersey of Reggie Jackson … or Pete Rose … or Wade Boggs … or any superstar in any sport? I don’t know how much Anderson raised with his auction, but it was too rich for my blood.

Cynics may acknowledge that worthwhile charities are one thing, but how long, they might, and should, ask before dealers start asking comparable prices and superstars start reaching for the extra bucks for signed items when they show up at shows?

It won’t be long before we see ads and hear sales pitches from autograph dealers that Joe Superstar’s signed cap, uniform, bat or glove or an Oscar-winning actor’s signed scripts or clothing worn in a movie are going for thousands of dollars “so we’d better buy it cheap (for slightly less than it recently was sold at such-and-such auction) because it surely will go up in value.”

EVENTS AND CHARITIES

Even though All-Star games are generally meaningless as sporting events, we’ve all gone out to All-Star baseball games which help raise money for major league pensions, charity-sponsored garden parties to shake hands and ask for autographs, college All-Star football games which bring in funds for the Shriners’ crippled children hospitals and even All-Star basketball games sponsored by people like Magic Johnson (to raise money for the United Negro College fund) and Byron Scott (to help Camp Ronald McDonald).

But there’s a big difference in asking the average collector who has limited funds to pay $5 or $10 for a signed photo or $15 for a signed ball and asking her or him to pay $1,000 for a signed jersey or $100 for a seat at a sporting event (in which one usually can’t get to the athletes to ask for even a single autograph).

The late Football Hall of Fame coach Woody Hayes readily sent out signed items, but then asked collectors to send along a $5 donation to the Woody Hayes Cancer Fund in care of the Ohio State Athletic Department. Fighting cancer is indeed a worthwhile cause (it took Woody’s life) but Hayes sent the signed photo first and asked in an accompanying letter for the donation. Not many superstars have such courtesy to, or trust in, their fans. The late baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg asked $5 donations to the Pet Adoption Fund, an organization which saves lives of homeless animals and finds people to adopt them.

Many celebrities think along these lines. Former baseball stars Johnny Vander Meer and Dom DiMaggio asked a $5 fee for each item signed and requested that checks be made out to the Falls Church Virginia Ole Timers Baseball Association, a group which assists in medical costs for retired players in financial need.

Are there others doing similar things? You bet there are, and their ways – and the charities which they try to help – are a real variety. The bottom line, though, is that you pay for the autograph – and some, if not all, of the money goes to charities or worthwhile projects.

Signed photos of Rollie Fingers are often advertised for $10 and a portion of the fee goes to the Help for the Brain Injured Children charity.

Pitcher Jerry Reuss sells color 8x10s of himself for $5 with all proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. And when the checks are made out to the cystic fibrosis charity, fees are tax deductible. The foundation also holds annual silent auctions. One auction a few years ago included signed balls from Joe DiMaggio, Darryl Strawberry and Sandy Koufax, an autographed bat from Tim Raines, a bat signed by the Cincinnati Reds and team autographed jerseys.

A sports memorabilia show in Los Angeles brought out two of sports all-time greats to sign autographs. Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the headliners at a show in which some of the money went to the Jewish Big Brothers of Los Angeles County.

Sparky Anderson said “all” money from his charity auction went to the Detroit hospitals.

But there’s a big difference in an autograph for $3, $5 or $10 and an autographed Jackson jersey for more than $1,000. Maybe someone should think of a way in which sports stars can offer a little charity to the average, less affluent collector!

AUTOGRAPHED TIES

One of the more unusual approaches to charity was in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in which neckties autographed by members of the Milwaukee Brewers were auctioned to help raise funds for the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Project in nearby Neillsville. Signed tie collectors coughed up some $3,500 for the project. For those interested in details, a tie signed by 20-game winning pitcher Teddy Higuera received the highest bid at $405. The charity show’s promoters deserve a lot of praise for a novel idea which not only aided a good cause but also does not contribute to inflation of prices for average collectors of limited means.

Plan Ahead

Planning helps!

Take time over the Spring Break to make yourself a want list of those celebrities you’d really like to add to your collection.

This helps set your priorities: plan your letter writing campaigns, search out trades, plan to visit non-profit garden parties, set up a budget for purchasing from dealers and above all concentrate on the people you really want to add to your collection.

It’s fun and you can always revise the list if you change your mind!

To find the people on your list, turn to the V.I.P. Address Book or the V.I.P. Address File.  You can find both at www.vipaddress.com.  If you’re looking for signed photos, please check out the Wiggins Collection.  You can find that there too!

BENOIT, CLAY, ALCINDOR, WHAT’S IN A NAME?

The great Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson raised an interesting question for autograph collectors in a recent letter responding to an autograph request.

She wrote that collectors often insist that she sign only Joan Benoit since that was her name when she won the 1984 Olympics. But she goes on to point out that she has had her best times as a runner after she married and changed her name to Joan Benoit Samuelson?

So which name would you ask her to sign if you were to meet her and ask for her autograph?

This incident illustrates a dilemma collectors face when they ask for autographs: what name would they prefer the athlete to sign or would the athlete prefer to sign?

The fact of marriage and resulting name change certainly applies to women celebrities. Name changes due to marriage and/or divorce are a common occurrence. To cite just a few: Tennis great Helen Wills Moody Roark won Wimbledon titles as Helen Wills and Helen Wills Moody; you’ll see the name Billie Jean Moffitt and Billie Jean King as title holders, Margaret Smith and Margaret Smith Court and Chris Evert (or is it Chris Evert Mill or Chris Evert Norman?)

Yet this is not a problem exclusive to women. A recent Cy Young award winner in baseball was Detroit’s Willie Hernandez. So when you check the record books that’s the name you’ll find. But the relief pitcher no longer likes his nickname and wants to be called Guillermo, his given name.

And what about the prolific basketball scorer Lloyd B. Free. Mr. Free decided Lloyd didn’t properly suit his image so he changed it to World B. Free.

And religion has made a big impact in the sports world. If you collect Olympic champions, you would want a signed item of gold medal boxer Cassius Clay. Now, of course, you would have items signed Muhammed All, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.

Even the all-time great pro Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was as well known as a college star from U.C.L.A. named Lew Alcindor. He won’t sign his christened name anymore (and don’t make the mistake of being the one who asks him to sign Lew Alcindor) so items signed Alcindor are greatly prized by collectors and command significantly higher prices from dealers.

There has been a general unhappiness by a number of fans with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he refused to sign his full name at a sports memorabilia show and instead signed only his first name to save time.

The fact that Jabbar has signed his full name many, many times made his tactic all the more of a rip off to the hundreds of fans who paid money to get into the show and then patiently stood in line to get his autograph. But that’s Lew/Kareem.

Male athletes changing their names was particularly popular at U.C.L.A. with Keith Wilkes becoming Jamaal Wilkes in the pros and Walt Hazzard becoming Mahdi Abdul-Rahman. Later after he retired as a player and became a coach at U.C.L.A., he changed his name back to Walt Hazzard. And do you remember Kansas State’s Warren Armstrong who became Warren Jabali or Rhode Island’s Stan Modzelewski who became Stan Stutz?

Olympic collectors will also remember track star Herman Brix who won a silver medal in the shot put in 1928. Then Brix became a movie star (he was one of several great athletes who had a turn as Tarzan) but by then he had changed his name to Bruce Bennett.

Distaff name changes include the 1956 gold medal Czechoslovakian Olga Fikotova, who became Olga Connolly after her marriage, multiple Olympic dash medalist in 1964-’68-’72 Irena Kirszenstein Szewinska from Poland, middle distance gold medalist Madeline Manning-Jackson in 1968, Olympic hopeful Mary Decker who is now Mary Slaney and all-around track star Jackie Joyner who is now Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Olympic track medalist Mildred (Babe) Didrikson became a great golfer as Babe Zaharias but the rather proper British listed her as Mrs. George Zaharias when she won the 1947 British Ladies Amateur tournament. Marlene Hagge, who became Marlene Hagge Bauer, is one of the better known golfers with two names in the record books.

And now we have Metta World Peace who was once Ron Artest.

Two special athletes of interest are Sohn-Kee Chung and Nam Seung-Yong of Korea who placed first and third in the 1936 Olympic marathon. But because Korea was at that time occupied by Japanese forces, they had to represent the Japanese team. The Japanese insisted they adopt Japanese names. So they are listed in the record books as Son Kitei and Shoryu Nan, names they both despised. Sohn, a strong nationalist who was proud to be a Korean, always signed his Korean name while in Berlin.

We, of course, have not listed everyone. Do you have others whose name changes have given you fits? Or ones you have missed obtaining because you didn’t recognize their new monikers?

A unique challenge would be for a collector to try and get signed items of different names from golfer Ann Sander who won the Women’s Western Amateur title 32 years after she first won the title. In 1956, she won it as 18-year-old Anne Quast. She also won the title in 1961 when she was known as Anne Quast Decker. And in 1963 she won the title as Anne Quast Welts. She’s quite a golfer by any name.

Don’t forget that these and many others can be found in the V.I.P. Address Book and online at the V.I.P. Address File Database Lookup.  Just go to www.vipaddress.com and you’ll find everything you need.