When Wayne Gretzky is out and about…especially in Canada…he’s a one man autograph machine.
He could follow the lead of other sports legends and just brush them all away.
He could be rude, brusque and suspicious, jaded by eBay auctions offering the scribble he just offered as a nice gesture. He wouldn’t be the first retired athlete to turn cold toward fans.
Who could blame Wayne Gretzky if he said ‘if I signed one, I’d have to sign them all’ and just kept walking?
He does keep walking, but hockey’s Great One does try to sign them all while doing it.
He can’t autograph everything, of course. He has to eat. He has to use the restroom and he has to sleep. The rest of the time? Not two minutes goes by when he doesn’t grab a Sharpie and comply with a fan’s request.
During the Olympics, Gretzky has been everywhere, acting as one of Canada’s goodwill ambassadors.
Dealing with the public is something he’s had to do for over 30 years, so he’s gotten pretty good at it.
"I don’t know how he can do it. I don’t know how he keeps it up day after day after day," says his brother Glen.
Jeff Lee of the Vancouver Sun spent a couple of hours with Gretzky, a man for whom signing is almost as common as breathing. He came away with an impression that’s one part marvel and one part pity.