The Ultimate Alumni Fan

Tue, Feb 15th 2011, 00:00

My name is Clarke Caldwell.  I was born and raised in Calgary but moved to the U.S.when I was 12 years-old.  I currently live in Northern California, have a wife, three children and am a full-time firefighter/paramedic.  After buying our first home, I decided our office needed some meaningful sports memorabilia to display.  As a die-hard Calgary Flames fan, it didn’t take long to conclude that I needed something from “the glory days” of the late 1980’s. 

I was in 5thgrade in 1989 when Calgarybeat Montrealto win the Stanley Cup.  That was such a memorable time for me because the whole city was so pumped about the team’s success.  When we finally clinched Game 6, my family and I ran outside with pots and pans and celebrated as loudly as we could! At the end of the school year, Lanny McDonald visited our school to talk with us kids and sign autographs.  Dana Murzyn and Tim Hunter came on a separate occasion.  I also had two neighbors who were very friendly and kind when we’d stop by to ask for an autograph:  Gary Roberts and Doug Gilmour.

I collected a lot of hockey cards growing up, all of which I still had.  So I decided I would try to get an autographed card of each player from the official team roster of that winning Stanley Cup team and frame them all together.  Originally, I figured I’d go about this by finding them on eBay.  But after not being able to find all the players, I discovered that you could write to them (as long as you knew where to find them) and request an autograph through the mail.  This worked for a few players, so I decided to try to get all the players’ autographed cards through the mail with the cards I had collected as a kid.

I began the project in 2006.  It took a lot of time and patience writing a letter to each individual player, explaining my project and respectfully asking for an autograph, but I was extremely pleased that so many of the guys took the time to sign and return my packages.  At one point I had a difficult time locating several players I still needed, but with the help of the Calgary Flames Alumni, particularly their secretary, Jenny, I was able to get almost all of them.  Included was the centerpiece for the frame, an 8 x 10 of the great Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald holding the Cup over his head.

I framed my collections in March 2010.  After deciding that the remaining four players I needed were probably not going to return my request, I eBayed what I needed and finally got them all professionally framed.  To this day, I still do not have Sergei Priakin, who appeared in one playoff game during the first round against Vancouver.  To my best knowledge, he is coaching at a hockey school somewhere in Russia. 

This weekend I am traveling from Californiato Calgaryfor the Heritage Alumni Game in the hopes of obtaining the four autographs I was unable to obtain through the mail. I can’t wait to see the Flames team that I grew up watching and cheering on beat the Habs one more time!

Clarke Caldwell

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