Paul Pierce made me quit graphing in 2008.
Outside a Boston nightclub where he was hosting a pre-playoff rally, my buddy and I were ignored by the Celtics star and peppered with f-bombs by his security escort. We were the only collectors there and had even made the donation to his Truth Foundation to get admission to the event. Standing on the sidewalk, we asked politely for an autograph as Pierce waited a few feet away for his ride to arrive. It would have only taken him a few seconds to sign. Five minutes later, the car pulled up.
Watching him pull away, the absurdity of it all sunk in. What was I doing out at 2am on a weeknight worrying about getting some athlete’s autograph? How much time had I spent chasing celebrities who obviously don’t give a shit about me? For a few weeks I kept my Sharpie capped, but I couldn’t stay away from the hobby. It was like getting rejected by the girl you liked in high school. No matter what she did, it was nearly impossible to give up the chase.
The year before I had seen Pierce at Josh Beckett’s Beckett Bowl but was unable to get one of the few autographs he signed on the red carpet. In the fall of 2008 he stepped out of a limo and cruised right past a small group of us entering the Celtics annual Shamrock Foundation dinner in Boston. In December 2010 he hosted his annual “Truth Strikes Again” bowling tournament but I wasn’t willing to shell out $150 and drive to Connecticut for a shot (incidentally, I heard he signed). Bad luck or bad timing, one way or another he has eluded me.
Paul Pierce—the greatest Celtic of my generation and my white whale.
Now I have a dilemma. Pierce is doing a public signing on March 3 in the Boston area. It’s the easy way out—like if Captain Ahab had commissioned the navy to capture Moby Dick. Where’s the thrill? Where’s the story? I would fork over $79 and simply cross him off the list. I would try to graph Pierce in the future, but now I’d have a safety net. I would, essentially, admit defeat.
On the other hand, I’d finally get an autograph (perhaps on this 11×14 already signed by Ray Allen). I could stop stressing about keeping tabs on his next appearance, putting the time in, hoping he actually picks up a pen in my presence. I could move on.
What do you think I should do?
Who’s your white whale and would you pay to finally get their autograph?