GETTING THE CARD SIGNED
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 at Denver Broncos 24
Sunday, January 7, 1990
My friend Chris is an ardent Steelers fan, and a collector of “elite” Steelers memorabilia. That day, the Broncos were scheduled for a playoff game against the Steelers.
Chris knew I’d be working as opposing bench security during the game and he asked me if I could get a card signed by the Steelers quarterback Bubby Brister.
Chris explained to me that Bubby Brister was well-known in the collecting world for not signing autographs after a loss. So Chris and I made a bet. If I was able to get the autograph, when we met up after the game, the beer was on him. If I failed to get the autograph, the beer was on me.
As a Broncos fan, I was elated that the Broncos won the game; they’re my team. As an autograph-seeker however, I became concerned; very concerned. Remember, Bubby was “well known in the collecting world for not signing autographs after a loss.” I knew that my attempt to get his autograph was going to require something clever. I’m was going to have to get very creative.
During the game, my supervisor Sparky assigned my brother and me to a “special” security detail. Mile High stadium in Denver was notorious for harassing fans of the opposing teams. So we were assigned to “protect” the Brister family. These weren’t just Steelers fans, no, this was the opposing quarterback’s family. It consisted of Bubby’s dad, his mom, and two of his older sisters: the Brister sisters.
“Protecting” the Brister family was very enjoyable; and during the game, we sort of bonded. Sometime during the game, Bubby’s mother told me something I will never forget. In her deep Louisiana accent, she said to me, “Pedro, you sure are hospitable. If there is ever anything I can ever do you for your kindness today, you just let us know.”
Ha! An idea… “Pedro, you sure are hospitable, if there is anything…. anything…. ANYTHING…?” During half-time, I read all about Bubby Brister when he played at ULM. He was a baseball star as well as a football star.
After the game, I escorted the Brister family to the locker room exit. Bubby would soon be exiting through those doors. It seemed like it was taking forever for Bubby to exit. However, this was, after all, a playoff game. The media were swarming.
As we were all standing there, I fibbed and told Bubby’s mother that her son was my hero during his college years. I also asked her if she could get my card signed. After all, Bubby was notorious for NOT signing after a loss. This time HAD to be an exception. I needed to get “mother” involved. I was betting that Bubby wouldn’t be able to say no to his mother.
Bubby’s mom asked me for the card, and immediately marched into the locker room. Bubby was in the middle of an interview when his mom got his attention by pulling on his shirt and guiding him toward her. Bubby took the card and quickly signed it, shoving it back at his mom in an attempt to get back to the interview. I thanked his mom and wished them all well on their trip back to Louisiana.
After the game, I was supposed to meet my friends at Brooklyns under the Colfax bridge. I remember the day as being exceptionally cold. So I tucked the card into my pocket, bundled up, and headed to Brooklyns.
When I arrived at Brooklyns, I acted like I was tired, cold, and hungry (I was!) not to give my friend any hint that I had that card on my mind.
As I walked in, the waitress came up to our group and asked if she could get us anything. I still managed to look forlorn and tired. So my friend assumed that I wasn’t able to get the card autographed. In his eyes, I would have been bragging by that time (like most guys would have). So Chris, assuming I was paying, ordered a few “extra” pitchers of beer.
When the waitress returned, she placed the beers on the table, turned to the group (Chris actually) and asked, “Who is picking this up?” Chris started laughing, pointed to me, and told the waitress in a confident voice, “That man right there!”
Me? I asked. “Why me?”
Chris just said, “The bet.”
I replied in a calm and flat voice, “Oh yeah, the bet.” I reached into my pocket and handed Chris the signed card. I said, “I don’t think so.”
Chris’s instinct was to get steamed. So he started to get upset that I had tricked him. But then he suddenly began to laugh and got exceptionally animated! He realized that the Steelers had lost and the card was signed!
After this little exchange, I immediately dropped my act and told them the story of how I managed to get the card signed.
The signed card.