NCGA Member is Guinness World Record Holder
July 28, 2015
A lifetime collector since age 7, it became natural for me to resume collecting when I took up the wonderful game of golf in 1986. On October 25, 1989, at the Transamerica Senior Golf Championship at Silverado Country Club in Napa, I started right at the top by obtaining golf legend Arnold Palmer’s autograph on a golf ball, launching a collection of signed golf balls that today is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world.
My collection includes some of the greatest golfers who ever picked up a club such as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Greg Norman, Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Tom Watson, Chi Chi Rodriquez, Tiger Woods and more.
One year at the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Golf Tournament in Palm Desert, California, I spotted two of my boyhood idols – Johnny Lujack (Notre Dame Heisman winner, 1947) and Ralph Kiner (Pittsburgh Pirates home run king) inspiring me to expand my autographed golf ball collection to non-golf celebrities. My roster of 417 names and counting now includes Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, Evander Holyfield, Kerri Walsh, Michael Phelps, Joe Paterno, Willie Mays, Magic Johnson, Jim Brown, Brian Boitano, Nolan Ryan, Jimmy Connors, Mario Lemieux, Donald Trump, John Glenn, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and scores more.
Encouraged by a literary agent to write a book about my unique collection, I embarked upon writing my first book in 2008 and brought it to fruition in 2009. In Hooked on Autographs, I describe many of my favorite stories in gathering autographed golf balls from a parade of colorful celebrities, including our last U.S. presidents starting with Richard Nixon.
The story behind President George H.W. Bush’s signed ball is one of my favorites. No one could have gotten his autograph that day as our 41st president was playing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am shortly after leaving office in 1993. He was protected by a retinue of Secret Service agents. I staked out Bush at the practice putting green near the lodge. Though it was crowded, I maneuvered to the opening where Bush would pass to walk up the path to the first tee. As he exited from the practice green, I called out, “President Bush, you knew my late brother-in-law, Major General Lewis Mologne.” (Lew commanded Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the 1980s, was President Bush’s doctor at Walter Reed and was married to my sister, Rose). “Yes, I did.” Bush acknowledged. I quickly asked to have a ball signed. The Secret Service agents didn’t take well to my request, but Bush acquiesced.
Getting into the Guinness World Records became a personal quest, to have my vast collection become the “first” to be penned into that record book. I can now boost that I have my very own Guinness World Record title under my belt.
A portion of my net book proceeds are donated to the Walter Reed Society, a Bethesda, Maryland, non-profit organization, established to financially assist our returning wounded soldiers being treated at Walter Reed. My sister, Rose, is one of the founders of The Society. Hooked on Autographs can be obtained through Amazon or directly from me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I personalize all copies sold through me.
— Joe Galiardi