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Bill Walton is an Autograph Signing Machine

Words can paint pictures but occasionally something—or someone—is so amazing it needs to be seen. A humpback whale breaching. A volcano erupting. A Cirque du Soleil ensemble performing. Bill Walton signing autographs. Remarkable performances beyond description.

Bill Walton autographed mini basketball

Bill Walton autographed mini basketball

My encounter with Walton on June 12, 2010 was like nothing I had ever seen. For context I’ll supply a few words and then let the video tell the story.

I was outside the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston waiting for Charles Barkley to return from the Eagles concert at Gillette Stadium. It was an off-night during the NBA Finals and I was tracking Sir Charles on Twitter. Fellow concert-goers were tweeting their sightings, allowing me to estimate Barkley’s ETA with some accuracy. While monitoring I discovered that fellow Hall of Famer—and classic rock aficionado—Bill Walton was also at the show.

Bill Walton and Matt Raymond

Bill Walton and Matt Raymond

Near midnight a white limo pulled into the valet drive-through, its passenger’s ample, smiling head beamed from the rear passenger window which had been rolled down. Walton flung his legs out onto the cobblestone, his knees swinging under him like brass hinges. He wore cheap khakis almost white in color and one pocket was stained with ink as if a pen exploded. They were sandwiched between a navy blue NBA Cares fleece pullover and bright white tennis sneakers.

This is where the words end and the video begins.

Have you had an experience with Bill Walton or another autograph signing machine? Leave a comment and tell us your story.

About the author: is the founder of Autograph University. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and two sons. Connect with him on Twitter at @mattraymond.

12 comments… add one

  • Sports Collectors Daily December 28, 2012, 11:40 pm

    It’s great to see a Hall of Famer who seems to enjoy the interaction with fans and understand why it’s important to be cordial. I believe Ryne Sandberg is the same way and I’m sure there are others, but much of that understanding takes a long time for athletes and other sports personalities who are obsessed with fans who may be “making money off them”.

    Also like the fact that you can read Walton’s signature. A look at many of today’s signed cards inserted into trading card products is a sad, sad realization that they don’t care how the autograph looks. They just want to get it done and get paid.

  • Matt Raymond December 29, 2012, 9:02 pm

    Great points, thanks for the comment.

  • John December 29, 2012, 6:19 pm

    I ‘ve been collecting autographs for 40 some years. I always attended the Celtics tip-off dinners with a buddy of mine. One year, Roy Firestone was the headliner and Walton was there. He signed and took pictures throughout the evening. I believe he missed dinner. He IS a machine!!!!

    Years ago, Wilt Chamberlain was attending the HOF induction of his coach from Philly. After dinner he signed everything I had! Unfortunately he passed away several months later. He was another machine. Dr J also signed into the night.

  • Matt Raymond December 29, 2012, 9:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story of those amazing successes.

  • Craig December 29, 2012, 11:24 pm

    What bothers me is greed those signatures were heading to e-bay ask for one or two do not ruin it for everygody

  • Matt Raymond December 31, 2012, 12:50 pm

    Hi Craig, thanks for the comment. I agree with you on the point that asking for multiples has played a role in attitudes changing toward collectors. Typically, I only get one item signed, especially if there is a crowd.

  • Zane December 30, 2012, 4:53 pm

    Ive been to several Thunder games and tried to get autographs before.Only once have i seen durant their and actually sign, but when he did i wouldn’t doubt that he signed 100 autographs he signed 3 for just me. He was picking up items i wasn’t even going to ask him to sign and signing them. Hes not neccasarily a machine but considering his status as a superstar compared to other superstars he is a very good signer.

  • Matt Raymond December 31, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Hi Zane, I’ve had great experiences with Durant as well. He’s certainly slowed down since his rookie year (largely due to the size of IP crowds) but he is an excellent example of a grapher-friendly current superstar.

  • Marc January 2, 2013, 2:14 pm

    The amount of autographs that that guy got was disgusting, especially how he was just tossing them on the ground. Guys like that ruin the hobby and turn off so many celebs from signing.

  • Matt Raymond January 6, 2013, 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the comment Marc, I appreciate your perspective.

  • Geoff January 26, 2013, 8:23 pm

    I have had really good personal experiences with Christie Brinkley (super friendly and still beautiful), Mickey Tettleton, Bob Kipper, Goose Gossage, Mike Boddicker, Padraig Harrington, and Webb Simpson. I’ve had really good luck with just about any golfer too. TTM heros I would say are Carl Erskine, Bobby Shantz, Bobby Doerr and Virgil Trucks.
    I have personally “racked” a few times, but it is generally for trades or for friends that I am helping out. I have only been collecting autos for almost 2 years, but I have never sold an autograph. I personally don’t believe in it, but if push came to shove, I would consider it if it was necessary.

  • Matt Raymond January 28, 2013, 9:55 am

    Thanks for the insight Geoff, I appreciate the comment.

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