Some collect autographed baseballs. Others prefer signed cards or photos. Some want autographed jerseys. There are a lot of great collections around the world that feature those things but no one has a bigger, better, badder collection of autographed Sports Illustrated magazines than Scott Smith.
The New Jersey resident has spared no effort and no expense to track down the thousands of athletes pictured on the cover. He’s been at it since 1982 and been a subscriber a lot longer than that but it’s still remarkable to know that Smith has snared the signatures of over four thousand athletes and others who have had their mug on the cover.
He started with a young Wayne Gretzky and hasn’t stopped because, well, they’re still pushing out a weekly edition and there’s always someone new to chase (this week, it’s Jason Grilli).
Not every SI has a person on the cover and a few subjects were dead before they were featured but he owns about 95% of those that were possible to chase down. He’s got most of the big name stars like Jordan (multiple times), Mantle, Namath and Nicklaus. It’s the subjects who have drifted into obscurity that he has the most trouble finding.
The L.A. Times has a lengthy feature on his collection, the lengths to which he goes to get his magazines signed and tells us why he’s had so much trouble getting the autograph on one particular issue. Read it here and then learn about the sad ending to the mystery he was trying to solve here.