I spent Mother's Day with my mom, and in the course of catching her up on my activities, I mentioned covering the De La Hoya match. I told her about my controversial question. She laughed at the consternation I had caused.
Then she told me, "Oscar - Andrea, do you know I have his autograph?"
I gaped. My mother doesn't follow sports. She doesn't like violence of any kind. I don't think she's ever watched any boxing match in her life, except perhaps while flipping channels. The capper is that she doesn't care much for celebrity news in general and would recognize very few famous folk if she saw them in person. I couldn't imagine her ever asking anyone for an autograph, and the idea that she had De La Hoya's already boggled my mind.
My mother worked as a nurse for the Blood Bank, and teams of staff members occasionally traveled out to donor events in different towns. In Barstow (basically a pitstop on the way to Vegas) for a blood drive, they had parked near a local restaurant for lunch. My mom, however, had packed her own food and was eating in the vehicle with another nurse, Sandra. Then a bus pulled up. "De La Hoya" and "Goldon Boy" were emblazoned the side of the transport. Sandra was giddy with excitement as the star and his entourage entered the eatery. She wanted an autograph, but she was too nervous to ask for one. My mom being the friend she is, offered to do it (this part of the story really surprised me - my mom's quiet, and quite shy). Yet she marched inside, where she realized she didn't have any paper. She decided to ask the cashier (yep, at the place where she wasn't even a customer) for some cash register paper. The clerk was accomodating, even when my mom ventured to ask for two pieces. Paper now in hand, she approached De La Hoya. He was gracious and took a quick break from his meal to sign two autographs, one for an exaltant Sandra, and the other for my mom, who had decided she might as well commemorate the event.
"Where's this autograph?" I demanded. It wasn't that I didn't believe my mom, but rather that I wondered if she'd kept it anywhere. She had.
In 1997, De La Hoya was probably at the height of his career, still undefeated. I had to laugh at the coincidence that the only autograph my mom ever got was from the boxer I'd recently put on the spot about his soccer involvement. Small world, no?