- Associated Press - Saturday, August 19, 2017

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) - Reuben and Christine Trujillo are sports fans. Huge sports fans.

The Pueblo West couple has melded their love of sports into collecting sports memorabilia. So much so that much of their home is decorated in Colorado professional teams - Broncos, Rockies and Nuggets photos and collectibles. They’ve even talked about moving to a bigger house to display their wares, as much of their collection is in boxes.

To say the Trujillos are fanatics is an understatement. They live and die with the Broncos, going to preseason camps, games and signings. Reuben, 64, says they travel to and from Denver up to 30 times a year.

“I figure between the sports - and we share tickets between different people - we’ve averaged 30 to 35 trips to Denver a year, and we’re still doing it,” Reuben said.

HOW IT STARTED



A former power lifter, Reuben has worked as a plant chemist for Holcim for 44 years. After meeting Christine around the turn of the century, their odyssey began.

“We’ve been together 16 years,” Reuben said. “Before that, I did a lot of power lifting. I did that for 30 years. I was old school. My dad and I used to believe in staying at home and watch the games. I didn’t think I could go to the games and get autographs and pictures.

Christine, 62, helped change that.

“She didn’t know too much about the sports. I love sports. Everything, Nuggets, Rockies, Broncos, Air Force,” Reuben said. “So we started to go to the games, and she really got involved with it. We started collecting souvenirs, and every year it started adding up.

“We’ve been to about 400 games since we met in all sports. There are always signings, and we’ll go to Denver and get in line for hours. The last 16 years we have 16,000 autographs.”

AUTOGRAPH HOUNDS

Christine said it’s become more and more difficult to get autographs.

“We used to go to Greeley to training camp,” Christine said. “The players would come out of their cars and we could get autographs.”

“We’ve hit a lot of training camps, met so many players,” Reuben said. “(Randy) Gradishar, (Karl) Mecklenburg, Billy Thompson. They know us by name. And Rick Upchurch, he was our favorite.”

One Broncos player autograph that eluded them was Tim Tebow.

“I missed Tim Tebow when he was with the Broncos,” Christine said. “I wanted his autograph on his jersey so bad but I couldn’t get to him.”

“We did get his autograph on two books and I shook his hand,” Reuben said proudly.

The Trujillos have sat in sports bars during television and radio shows hunting down autographs.

It’s a passion that is ongoing.

ORGANIZING PARAPHERNALIA

Getting organized and keeping organized has been difficult with all the items the Trujillos have collected.

“This is the third house we’ve lived in,” Reuben said.

“We needed a bigger house and we needed to put everything out,” Christine said. “We have two rooms decorated and the bathroom downstairs is a Broncos bathroom. We just try and spread everything out.”

Reuben said he’ll display some of his favorites from year to year and put older items in storage.

He admitted there are more than 400 boxes of collectibles stored away.

Reuben finds time to follow his passion.

“I work 14 days a month, 12-hour shifts,” Reuben said. “So I’m off a lot. It takes a toll on me sometimes, but if I have an event come up I’ll switch (days) with somebody.”

BEST OF THE BEST

The Trujillos can’t put a price on their collection but have their favorites.

Their most prized possession: “The (Peyton) Manning (signed) jerseys because he is really nice,” Christine said. “He would come to games and sign autographs for everybody. He did try and sign for everybody.”

There also are signed items from Hall of Famers John Elway and Terrell Davis, two Broncos legends.

“John Elway was fantastic, too,” Christine said. “We love the alumni. They are so nice.”

Reuben said the most unique items he’s grabbed over the years have been Broncos and Rockies chairs from the old Mile High Stadium.

“We’ve been season ticket holders for the Rockies for 16 years,” Reuben said. “We went to four Broncos games last year, and we try and hit six Nuggets games a year.”

The Trujillos’ fandom has brought them to a Super Bowl, although it didn’t involve the Broncos. And they’ve attended two Pro Bowls - one in Hawaii and the other in Phoenix.

“Best money I’ve ever spent,” Reuben said of the treks to the Pro Bowls.

How long will the Trujillos continue collecting memorabilia?

“I’m going to retire in January, so we’ll have more time,” Reuben said. “We never get tired of it.”

___

Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, https://www.chieftain.com

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