Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Opinion: Autograph seekers’ Dos and Don’ts

August 24, 2006

I've been out covering the T-Bones a lot this summer and one of the coolest parts about those games is watching all the young fans crowd around the players after the games for autographs.

The guys are more than willing to sign and it gives the kids so much joy, even though only a tiny fraction of those ballplayers will ever work their way up to play a single Major League game.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share a few lessons I've learned through watching the postgame autograph sessions:

  • Do have a pen:

This one seems awfully obvious, but you'd be surprised how many kids rush up and hand a player something, only to have the guy ask, "Got a pen?"

I'm not usually one to back a specific brand name, but in this case a Sharpie really is the best tool for the job (and if the Sanford company would like to send me a few free ones for the endorsement, I wouldn't turn them down).

  • Do wait patiently:

If you're one of a large group waiting for a certain player to sign, just hold your item patiently and he'll grab it and sign it eventually.

If too many people start shoving stuff in his face he might just get tired of the whole thing and cut the autograph session short.

This is one instance when the squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease.

  • Do buy a program:

It's easy to sign and it has big, color pictures of each player to help you identify whose signature it is long after you've forgotten getting it.

It's very rare that a player signs an autograph that the average person can actually read.

  • Do use the U.S. Postal Service:

For autographs from Major Leaguers, your best bet is through the mail, since there's so much competition for signatures and so little time to sign at the games.

If you send a letter addressed to the team office with a few pictures or cards of players, you might be surprised how many autographs you'll get, especially if you're not aiming for the top-tier, superstar players.

¢ Don't bring a ball to be signed:

The one exception to this rule is if you catch a ball at the game and want to get it signed by the player who hit it.

That makes sense, but otherwise baseballs are impractical for autographs. Their size, shape and texture makes them tough to sign. Not to mention, they're often filthy and scuffed, which makes it even harder.

  • Don't try and get an autograph from a player who's just been ejected:

I saw this at a recent T-Bones game and I have to say it's got to be one of the all-time worst ways to try and get a signature.

What kind of a mood is a player going to be in after he's just had a pitch thrown at him, been involved in a bench-clearing brawl and is being escorted off the field by police?

Probably not a signing mood.

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