Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore joined the show this week to talk about his 18-year professional basketball career in the ABA, NBA and Italy. Gilmore spurned the NBA coming out of Jacksonville University, signing with the Kentucky Colonels where he won Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1972. After the leagues merged, he went on to star with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs before finishing his career attempting to win an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics.
During our interview we learn how he got it famous nickname, why he became #53, his favorite teammates, his time with the Celtics and even his appearance on the 1970s television program The White Shadow. Gilmore also talks about signing autographs for fans via the mail and his favorite basketball card.
Gilmore chronicles his basketball career in his new book Here Comes the A-Train. We’re giving away a free copy on the show. You can find it at ttmcast.com or ttmcast.podbean.com.
TTM Tip of the Week
This week courtesy of my podcast co-host Drew Pelto, we continue with the list of former athletes who refuse to sign specific cards and the reason they will not sign them. This week we focus on football players and their signing habits.
Below is a list of some of the former football players and the cards or other items they are unwilling to sign.
Eric Allen: New Orleans Saints items
Marcus Allen: 10/5/81 Sports Illustrated
Albert Bentley: 1992 Fleer Gameday card
Lyle Blackwood: 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites
Bryan Cox: Rookie cards
Len Dawson: photos of him smoking
Kenny Easley: Rookie cards
Franco Harris: Seattle Seahawks items
Andre Hastings: Will not sign cards
Qadry Ismail: 1992 Wild Card (name misspelled)
Bo Jackson: Heisman items; Tampa Bay Buccaneers items; Auburn items signed by Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton; shoulder pads and bat photo
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson: 1997 Legends; wearing black shoes (will sign back)
Eddie Kennison: St. Louis Rams items
Dick Lebeau: Goal Line art cards
Peyton Manning: Sports Illustrated “Gator Bait” issue; Will not sign rookie cards TTM but will in person. Manning will not sign Panini cards
Ed Marinaro: 2005 Topps All-Americans
Dennis McKinnon: 1986 Topps
Stanley Morgan: Rookie cards
Scott Norwood: 1991 Pro Set Super Bowl Highlight
John Offerdahl: Rookie cards
Jerry Porter: Oakland Raiders items
Andre Rison: 1990 Topps; photo is Clarence Weathers
Jackie Smith: 1990 Pro Set Super Bowl Supermen
Lynn Swann: Will not sign cards
Carson Wentz: Panini Super Bowl 52 card
Aaron Williams: 2011 Topps Rising Rookies (wrong photo)
Steve Worster: 2011 Upper Deck U. of Texas (photo is actually Jim Bertlesen)
Alvin Wyatt: 1973 Topps (wrong photo)
TTM Successes This Week
Ken Houston played strong safety for 14 seasons in the NFL. He began his career in the AFL in 1967 with the Houston Oilers, was traded to Washington in 1973 for five players and finished his career with Washington in 1980. He was selected to either the AFL or NFL Pro Bowl for twelve consecutive years from 1968-1979.
Houston intercepted nine passes for touchdowns during his career and amassed 898 interception return yards. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
He signed his 1980 Topps card for me and add the HOF inscription for no extra fee in about ten days. I sent along a $10 donation along with my request.
Ron Kittle played outfield and DH for the White Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Orioles from 1982-1991. He was American League Rookie of the Year and an AL All-Star in 1983. He hit 176 home runs during his career including bashing 35 during his rookie season. Ron signed his 1983 Fleer card for me in about two weeks. He did not require a donation unless you want to get his 1983 Topps card signed.
Ed Ott was a member of the 1979 World Champion “We are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates team. He served as catcher with the Pirates from 1974-80 and finished his career with the Angles in 1981. He later was coach for the Houston Astros from 1989-1993 and Detroit Tigers from 2001-2002. Ott’s best season was 1979 when he batted .273 with seven home runs and 51 RBI. He also batted .333 and drove in three runs in the 1979 World Series.
He signed his 1976 Topps rookie card and 1979 Topps card for me in about ten days. The rookie card is now off to former Red Sox catcher Andy Merchant to get signed.
Jones spent nine seasons with the New England Patriots from 1982-90 grabbing 191 passes for 2,703 years. Jones starred at Duke and was taken in the 3rd round by the Patriots in the 1982 NFL Draft. He best season was 1989 with the Pats when he scored six touchdowns, catching 48 passes for 670 yards.
He signed his 1990 Pro Set card for me in about a week. Pro Set football cards from 1989-1991 are great cards to get signed. They feature a lot of players who did not appear in Topps cards and usually have great action shots.
After staring at Sothern Illinois, Hart went undrafted. He was invited to tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals by his form coach, impressed them and made the team in 1966. He would go on to be the primary quarterback for the Cards from 1966-83. He finished his career in 1984 with Washington. Hart was a four-time Pro Bowler and UPI NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1974. He threw 209 touchdown passes during his career for more than 34,500 yards. He played in over 200 games as a quarterback making him the 10th person to ever do so in 1984.
Hart signed and personalized his 1980 Topps card for me in less than two weeks.
Rocky Bleier played on four Super Bowl Championship teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1968-1980. He was nicknamed “Rocky” by his dad and his dad’s friends as a baby because he was all muscle. After staring at Notre Dame, he was selected by the Steelers in the 16th round of the 1968 NFL Draft. After his rookie season he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam where he was wounded by enemy fire on his left thigh and shrapnel from an exploded grenade in his lower right leg. He recuperated from his injuries but had a difficult time catching on with the Steelers, bouncing on an off their roster from 1970-1973. Rocky gained weight in the summer of 1974 in an off-season training program and earned a spot in the Steelers starting lineup that he held until he retired in 1980. He served as blocking back for Franco Harris on the great Steelers teams of the 70’s and rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1976. He finished with over 3,800 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns during his career.
Bleier has been a great supporter of the hobby during this retirement but has had times when he has taken time off from signing. I sent his 1980 Topps card and was lucky enough to have him sign it and return it to me in less than ten days.
Here are a few others who are currently signing for free. I have had success with all of them in the past:
- Tony LaRussa – White Sox Manager
- Tippy Martinez – Baltimore Orioles Pitcher
- Jim Jensen – Miami Dolphin Wide Receiver
- Larry Bowa – Phillies All-Star Shortstop
- Charlie Hough – Knuckleball Pitcher
- Gary Anderson – Running Back with Tampa Bay
- Gail Goodrich – Basketball Hall of Famer
Most athletes’ mailing addresses are available on several TTM related web sites including SportsCardForum.com and SportsCollectors.net.
Have a TTM success story you would like to share with me? Please, send it me at [email protected]. If I use it in my column, I’ll send you a prize.