CARDS: Fleer Authentix 2004, Donruss Elite 2006, Topps Total 2001, Bowman Chrome 2001, Topps Heritage 2000, Upper Deck Foundations 2003, Panini Contenders Draft Picks 2017 Collegiate Connections, Leaf Limited 1999, Upper Deck XL 2001, Score 2010, Playoff Absolute Memorabilia 2000, Topps Magic 2001, SP Authentic 2001, Leaf Honor Guard 1999, Topps Stadium Club 1999, Leaf Rookies & Stars 2001, SP Authentic 2002, Topps 1999, Panini 2015 Legend
ACQUIRED: IP, 2020
The first question I should answer is that there are over 4,100 cards of Ricky Williams -as of 2022. I have less than 1% autographed. Also I very much enjoy talking to him, and he knows that I do not sell any of them. I will continue to graph him until I otherwise don’t get the rush from doing so, but in general I enjoy his company and despite people maligning him and his career based on his drug use- I just don’t get it- especially now in this day and age.
I had hoped to post this set of autographs after the pandemic ended. – That was sometime in 2020. Now here I am in 2022, writing the post for this event, and it appears that the pandemic might be starting to wind down. <Knocks on wood.> It’s crazy how much everything has changed…
This event took place the weekend before Spring Break if my memory serves me correctly. I met up with my regular graph hobbyists… Mark and Jeff at the event, and chatted with a few of the usual resellers. The radio station was there with Rod, and we did our once a year catch up. When Ricky arrived he brought his whole family. D’Onta showed up eventually as well, but I prize the times when I can just chill with Ricky. I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t try… but he just… gets me.. as a person. We chatted for about 5 minutes, and he just went through every card I had signing everything I brought. I was absolutely floored, but thankful he’d do that for me. I think in the end it was… 20 cards or so? We caught up, and it made me so happy to know that he was doing well.
Mark, Jeff and I went outside and had free BBQ and sliders, then tossed a football to some kids before we left. Little did we all know it’d be the last in person event we’d attend for sometime, as the world was about to change…
I went into work that week. The rumblings about COVID were growing larger. Work decided on the Friday before Spring Break that the best option was to send us all home and to have us work from home for the next two weeks.
I had been studying the growing COVID pandemic with morbid curiosity and a fair amount of alarm. As the city was began to be gripped by fear about it, and more companies and government offices began to mandate WFH orders, I was able to get my release early from work so that I could go collect my kid and then head out to the grocery store.
I shrewdly believed that the pandemic would last THREE months, and based on my research, I withdrew my child from daycare as I was picking her up. We rushed out to the store, but many of the aisles had been picked clean. We hit up at least three supermarkets, and eventually landed at a local natural grocer. The lines were long, and many people’s faces were embattled… something between confusion and fear. I was proud that I was resourceful enough to get it done in 3 stops.
At first, we all really enjoyed working from home. It was good to us.
My wife and I got back the hours we’d use to commute, we were communicating better, we got to spend all day with our kid, and we didn’t have to pay for daycare. There was this sense, even with our tiny income we had been given a pay raise to WFH since we didn’t have gas to deal with and we got the got the COVID check.
I got designated as the person who had to go out of the house to get supplies when it was absolutely necessary. Those first few days or weeks… I even put on surgical gloves, sprayed down with sanitizer when I got home, put my clothes into garbage bags immediately to be washed, and checked my temperature. -We even left the mail out in the sun, and washed our hands after checking the mail.
Yes. It was extreme but nobody truly knew what we were dealing with. I wasn’t scared at all. I just did this all with an abundance of caution understanding how viruses work, and treating it like radiation.
The in person autograph market cratered. Everything was cancelled or put on hold indefinitely. I had been prepping for the next event in a few weeks for Dez Bryant. That was cancelled and has never been rescheduled. In person events just… ended. Parties, meet and greets, that’d be a no-no during the world of COVID. I ramped up my TTM efforts to offset my lack of IP events but things have changed- maybe forever- altered in the pandemic’s wake.
The card market itself really went off the rails, reminiscent of the big boom and implosion of the early 90s. There are so many speculators out there now collecting autographs and cards, it just cuts guys like me out of the game.
Trading cards themselves became scarce and unable to find thanks to the middle man selling the boxes to box breakers who charged exorbitant prices. Even junk wax has climbed out of the doldrums of cheap pricing. At one point people were pulling guns on each other in parking lots and lining up outside of stores at 6am. Now, they’re back, but the fun is gone. Most retailers like Target and Walmart keep the card behind a counter, reminiscent of cigarette displays. It’s odd, and I’m not sure if this is a hobby I’ll be able to share with my children- thanks to other adults. I haven’t bought a box of cards in well over a year now and I was a regular. I’m not sure if I have any intention of going back.
Over time, things didn’t work out with my job. It was the first job I’d held since college… And one day I found myself on the other end of a Zoom call with a surprise guest star- an HR rep. In retrospect, I probably should’ve seen it coming, and like many people I’ve spent time compartmentalizing what happened- but I accept it, as much as I didn’t want to at the time. It was time to move on, and I was tired of fighting to justify my job. There was a lot to unpack professionally… A lot of sorrow and introspection that I needed to do.
It’s hard working in the ‘art world’. Don’t be fooled. Criticism is so subjective. You can work all day on a project, but the response you can get can just break you so quickly, especially if all you really receive is negative feedback. It also doesn’t help if you are never sure where your strengths lie or your manager just never truthfully tells you where you stand, when you ask them. It leaves you so uncertain. Uncentered.
Do I blame him? No. I made the decisions I made. It is what it is. I wrapped up everything in a nice bow to make it easy on them.
I was burnt out.
I didn’t exactly land on my feet, but by the end of the year, I was on my 3rd job of 2021 alone.
I had been looking at cards, and realized that D’Onta and Ricky shared a Collegiate Connections card that I owned. This card looks beautiful with as a dual signature and I was extremely excited to get this one signed by them.
My friend Bryan G really wanted this Topps Heritage card of Ricky signed. I was able to get him on that and also the Topps Magic he was after. Since that time multiple people have asked me to try to get Ricky on the Topps Magic card as well as his Panini Classics.
I was also happy to help out another friend get the Topps Total signed, for future considerations, but I was dismayed when a few months later he exited the hobby liquidating all his autographs on a Facebook page. As a consolation he sent me a Bo Scaife autograph, but in general it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Because of what happened I now stipulate to any other collector that if they decide to quit, they must repatriate the autograph I provide them for my trouble.
After the success of this event, I was flooded with extra cards to try to get signed by Ricky. Unfortunately nothing local has popped up since the pandemic well over a year ago, so I’m just sitting on all those cards.
Barely a blip of events have happened. I’ve done just two in over the last 2 and 1/2 years and although I was grateful for what I got, I didn’t get a massive haul like this. Ricky just signed everything because he was already paid to be there, so why not? I hope he still trusted that I had no interest in selling his autographs.
To the fan and collector like myself these interactions mean so much.