Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BEST OF EVERYTHING

THE LABEL I ADDED WAS A NICE TOUCH.
When my mom brought it home, it became my prized treasure. I couldn't stop looking at it. Or reading the inscription. Or studying the signature. Or staring at the black and white photo.

To Dean, 
Best of everything
Larry Smith

My first autograph.

My mom's boss knew Smith's parents well, and I was a Los Angeles Rams fan early on because I loved their helmet logo. I practiced drawing it in school. When most doodled fighter jets, squiggly lines or flaming skulls, I drew the Rams' helmet. I might have learned a little math, too.
No. 38 IN YOUR PROGRAM,
No. 1 IN MY HEART.

That autograph was my first connection to a professional player whom I watched on TV and read about in the newspaper. Smith was a former first-round running back from Florida during the '60s. He was a local hero, a Tampa native, and went to the same high school I would attend. Getting his personalized autograph made me feel like I was best friends with big man on campus. I showed it to everyone and then glued it onto the front of my school notebook binder for good measure.

That Christmas, I had to have a Larry Smith Rams jersey. Of course, back then, there was no NFL.com to order it. So my dad went to a little sporting goods store that did embroidering and it made a blue No. 38 jersey sorta like the Rams'.

To Dean
Best of everything
Larry Smith 

A simple inscription that meant everything to me.

1 comment:

  1. I remember getting excited about the Sears catalog which always had one jersey from each team (two for a few teams). I was always trying to figure out which players would be represented. The pre-internet, pre-cable days made for some interesting times.

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