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> Monday, June 7th, 2010 > Sports > The autograph man: taking names and breaking records
The autograph man: taking names and breaking records
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Chris Yee
Published: Monday, June 7th, 2010
SURREY, B.C. (CUP) — His name is Laslo Babits, but you can call him the autograph man. Not because he gives a lot out, but because he wants yours.
Babits began his career as a track and field Olympian and still holds the record for the highest javelin finish by a Canadian, placing eighth in his event at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. But Babits is aiming for another record now: To see his name in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most autographs collected by one person.
He started collecting autographs in 1989 when he was still an Olympic athlete, training in Key West, Florida for the 1992 Games. When that appearance didn’t pan out - due to funding problems - he aimed for the 1996 Games instead.
But as those Games approached, a car accident, then a mushroom-picking expedition gone awry - he ended up needing a liver transplant after eating a poisonous mushroom - ended his Olympic career.
Still, Babits continued collecting autographs while working as an Olympic attaché and travelling as a tourist at a number of other events, like the World Series and the World Cup.
“You can learn a lot about people [collecting autographs] ... you meet people from all walks of life," Babits said.
Babits says he spends four to six hours collecting autographs every day, usually logging 500 to 600 signatures at a time. But Babits estimates that roughly 30 per cent of the people he approaches refuse to sign his book.
So far, he’s filled out 22 books of autographs over the past 21 years in places as close as Atlanta, Georgia and Key West, and as far away as Seoul, Caracas and most of Europe. His collection even includes various celebrities like Cindy Crawford and Dolph Lundgren, who played Drago in Rocky IV.
He's even collected autographs while fleeing Hurricane Andrew – which struck Florida in 1992.
But one of the best autographs he's received was a little boy’s doodle.
“You can feel the energy coming out of [the] autograph,” Babits said.
Perhaps next year, when he hopes to have collected over 100,000 signatures, Babits will send in his achievement to the Guinness Book of World Records. But for now he’s still at it, collecting autographs, being the autograph man.