Twenty-five year ago I was just about the best there was. When it came to acquiring baseball players’ autographs I was the man (or, er, twelve year old boy). I’ve been out of the game a long time, though, so when my sister mentioned that my nephew, Spencer, hoped to score some autographs during our annual trip to watch Spring Training baseball in Arizona, I was a tad nervous. Did I still have the goods? Could I guide the little guy to autograph greatness? Well, our trip was this last weekend, and I have to say, the game has changed. It wasn’t long before I was praying to the baseball gods, “Please! Let me get this kid just one autograph! Just one!”
The first trick I pulled out of my bag was taking Spencer and his brother, Danny, (who wasn’t quite as interested in autographs) to the stadium around nine in the morning to catch the players as they arrived. Back in my day I got dozens of autographs this way because there weren’t many other fans there and the players had to walk right past us into the stadium.
On the drive over I played Crash Davis to Spencer’s Nuke LaLoosh as I taught him the ropes.
“You see, kid, autograph hunting is a lot like like fishing. There’s a lot of waiting, it helps to be in the right spot, and it’s crucial that you have the right bait.”
“What kind of bait?”
“Sad kid eyes,” I replied. “It’s hard to ignore a kid asking for an autograph with big, sad eyes. You’ll want to work on those.”
Spencer nodded, taking mental notes.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the stadium it was nothing like it was a quarter century ago. Not only was the place swarming with fans, but the players now park in a gated-off area and don’t have to walk through fans to get inside.
I told the boys not to worry as I still had some more tricks up my sleeve. Later, before the game began, I instructed Spencer to hang out around the dugout. This technique worked like gangbusters for me back in the day, but was a bust this day. Spencer only came back with one autograph, and that one was from Amy G., the in-game reporter for the Giants’ television broadcasts. Not exactly the signature Spencer was hoping for.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “You’ll score some autographs after the game. At Spring Training the players always sign before leaving the field.”
What I didn’t anticipate, though, was the Giants losing pretty badly and their manager making them run sprints. When the players finished they hurried off the hot field and into the locker room.
Luckily, on the way out we passed a table where Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry sat signing autographs for charity.
Two time Cy Young Award Winner Gaylord Perry (not the Monopoly man)
After our unsuccessful day of autograph seeking my brother-in-law was happy to buy the boys each an autograph from the legendary Giants’ pitcher and 300 game winner.
They looked thrilled, don’t they?
Spencer may have been hoping for an autograph from a current player, but he became pretty excited about his autograph during the drive home after we told him about the Hall of Fame, and how only the very best players of all time were inducted. Danny, I think, was just happy to be away from “the old guy.”
Clearly, my autograph “expertise” is pretty obsolete, but I will try to help the boys more in the future. But hey… A Hall of Famer for your first autograph is a pretty good start!
Technically his first autograph was Amy G! And while she’s good, she’s no Vin Scully. They can’t all be HoF Broadcasters!
And just think….next yr. you’ll have 1 more reason to motivate you to go for the gold….to get some autographs for not only Spencer and Danny but also for Your SON!!! What could be better than that?!?!
kandi ann says:
When I was younger, around 7? 8? I loved to watch football with my Dad. Everytime we went out my Mom or Dad would let me get those little plastic helmets out of the bubble gum machines. I loved it. (Nope, I don’t have them still. :o( )
My son has had good luck getting autographs at Twins games, he’s cute & persistant. Also, I’ve been the one to be with him (maybe a row or two behind him down by the dugout, during bp), so maybe sending a female with the kid would work better than a male (sorry). I think teaching Annie to ask for an autograph would work well too! =)
My dad (a former college player and recruit to the minors) works at the Hall of Fame during the summer driving ball players around and has been known to sign a ball for little kids.
He wasn’t ever famous, but when presented with a 4 year old and a really long line, a grandma asked and he obliged.
You might also have some luck with minor league teams. They’re not famous yet, but they are accessible.
When I was a kid we’d hang out at the chain link fence surrounding the Dodgers’ cars and were always able to snag a few every game. It’s not that easy nowadays, at least in major league parks.
I know you’re a Giants fan but let me tell you… Camelback Ranch is set up for getting Dodgers’ autographs! The players DO have to walk right past you from the practice fields to the main field. My first year at Spring Training (2 yrs ago) I got a pic and autograph from Matt Kemp! (among others) Pretty exciting, even for this 35 year old lady.
My dad and older brother were/are baseball obsessed so on every family vacation we went to at least one game and we ALWAYS had to wait for autographs. I had NO interest whatsoever, but at 12 years old I looked about 17 so all of a sudden I got way more attention than my 14 year old brother and could get way more autographs than him. He was annoyed at first, but then decided he would pay me to get the autographs he wanted. We got tons of great ones one summer- that was, until our parents found out one of the players wrote his phone number and hotel room info on one of the baseballs he signed for me. Yikes! :0
We went to a Rivercats (minor league) game in our town a couple of years ago and were on the lawn, so I had my daughter go up to the bull pen and ask one of the guys to sign her ball. He took it and had ALL of the players in the bull pen sign the ball for her.
They’re all big shots now that they won the WS! Exciting nonetheless, Tigers opening day in Detroit April 5. I can’t wait! I do dig the old guys shirt!!! That’s classic.
The best autographs my son got was by hanging out in the bleachers during BP and wearing the opposing teams jersey. they always loved have adoring fans in the stadium and would sign anything he wanted. OF course as soon as the game started he put his DOdgers jersey back on.
You totally need to send Annie down to ask for autographs cuz NO ONE could refuse her!!!!!!!!! Then she could just sort of casually introduce her cousins (& next year, her baby brother!).
I think the players should totally be more giving of their autographs–especially during practices! I mean it’s the fans that keep them employed (in the long run), right? (says the totally non-athletic girl!)
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