By JOHN E. SCHLIMM II
—Autograph May 2010
I decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my column with a triple-threat: Sports fan? Book lover? Autograph collector? I’ve got you covered.
Many sports stars are virtually inaccessible unless you’re willing to shell out the bucks for private signings. They don’t sign through the mail and some won’t even wield a Sharpie in venue. You know where they do sign? Book signings. Suddenly, the unavailable athlete becomes the super available author. All you have to do is wait for your favorite sport star to write a book!
Eight Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi scored a victory in the publishing game when he skyrocketed to the top of The New York Times best seller list as an author. In his tell-all, Open: An Autobiography, Agassi took a no-holds-barred approach, writing frankly about everything from his receding hairline and methamphetamine use to his run-ins with such celebs as Barbra Streisand, his previous wife Brooke Shields and current wife Steffi Graf.
These days, in addition to dominating the bookshelves, Agassi also dedicates much of his time to the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which brings me to how I was fortunate enough to receive an inscribed copy of one of the most sizzling autobiographies of 2009.
While Agassi embarked on a national book tour, signing thousands of books, I begged a favor from a friend of a friend, who works with the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation in Las Vegas. When Agassi returned from his book tour, this friend asked him to ink my copy of Open, personalized inscription and all! If you’re looking for a worthy cause, take a look at the foundation’s Web site, www.agassifoundation.org. Agassi’s book tour has completed, but a donation sent with your own copy of Open might net you a signed copy.
Swimmer Michael Phelps, winner of 14 gold medals and multi-million dollar endorsement deals also reached a pinnacle of notoriety as a tabloid cover boy for his alleged bong use. Through it all, Phelps has held his own, not only in the pool but on the bookshelves. His first book was Beneath the Surface, which was followed by No Limits and Phelps’ first children’s book, How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals.
If you missed Phelps’ book signing tours, mark your calendar for these upcoming opportunities for other Olympic winners. The 2008 gold medalist in wrestling, Henry Cejudo, has been doing a nationwide tour for his autobiography American Victory released last January. Nicki Stone, the 1998 gold medalist in freestyle skiing, will be signing her first book, When Turtles Fly, starting in March. The book is a collection of inspirational stories from luminaries like Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, Tommy Hilfiger and others. Volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor won the gold in 2004 and 2008 and will be signing up a sandstorm in June when her autobiography, Misty: Digging Deep in Volleyball and Life, is released.
More Author Athletes
LPGA’s Kris Tschetter will be signing her book on Ben Hogan when it is released next October. Gary Player, the Grand Slam winner and designer of more than 200 golf courses worldwide will be signing in June when his autobiography, Don’t Choke: A Champion’s Guide to Winning Under Pressure, is released.
Double-shot! Look for signing tours with former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington and the player he signed and sold: Wayne Gretzky. Both are co-authors of I’d Trade Him Again: On Gretzky, Politics, and the Pursuit of the Perfect Deal, due on shelves in October.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura is currently on a book tour for American Conspiracy: Lies, Lies and More Dirty Lies That the Government Tells Us.
Check events on Autograph Magazine Live! and Events in every issue. We list as many book signings as we can.