This is one of those weird things I do. Okay, not weird. I think it’s cool, and kinda fun. I guess it still surprises me how many people don’t know I do this.
It started 11 years ago. The Hockey Hall of Fame was looking for someone to do calligraphy of the inductee names. The lady they asked first basically chickened out. Really it’s kind of a fluke they even asked me. The guy I was dating worked there, and asked me if it was something I knew how to do. Oddly, yes. I sent a draft to show them some options. The rest, as they say, is history.
I can still remember one of the guys who worked there saying, “Don’t f*ck it up.” He swears he didn’t use those exact words, but that’s what stuck in my head. It’s a heck of a thing to have going through your head when you put ink down on really thick, textured paper, that isn’t perforated and can’t be torn out. The book is huge. It’s hard leatherbound, 18″ x 13″. “Don’t f*ck it up.” Pfft.
So what do I do the second year? I manage to screw up the spacing between the second and third names. Come on! I had one job, right? It’s been years now, so I think it’s safe to let the HHOF know. That thing they liked? Yeah, it was a mistake. They happened to like it, because the “Builder” category was spaced a little further away from the players. It works.
I’ve had the profound pleasure of putting in some huge names in hockey. No, not Gretzky, that was before my time. But Mark Messier, Doug Gilmour, Glenn Anderson, Pat Burns, Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Scott Niedermeyer and the women Angela James, Cammi Granato, and Geraldine Heaney.
I inked Joe Nieuwendyk’s name in 2011, but refuse to show you how badly I botched that one. “Don’t f*ck it up”. I didn’t notice, Joe didn’t notice, the people visiting the HHOF and seeing the book in its glass case didn’t notice, the staff didn’t notice…until two weeks later I was called in to “fix” it. I’ll never forget how to spell … N i e u w e n d y k …now.
Then I was asked to do the page for the Grand Opening of the Great Hall just a few months after. I’ve never been happier to turn a page in my entire life! There’s something about being the person to write Johnny Bower’s name in a book and knowing he’s going to sign right there, still gives me goosebumps.
Every year people gather, nay cram themselves, into the game area downstairs at the Hall to watch people sign. It’s a lot of attention for my little autograph book.
“Don’t f*ck it up” was going through my head again today. After much cursing, calling for help and a knife, this year’s page is ready for the inductees’ signatures. Whew!