Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Autographs and Hunters - Drawing the Line

When it comes to the opportunities to get autographs, I get shaky and anxious. I cant tell you about the feeling, but I have the idea that most of you have experienced it. There really isnt anything like the chance to meet your favorite player, and you better believe that I live for it when the chance comes around.

Luckily for me, I have had the chance to meet every single one of my favorite players, with the exception of Adrian Peterson. As a kid, I got to meet Kirby Puckett on the field of the Metrodome during batting practice. I got to meet Kevin Garnett at a Target signing during his first year in the league. I got to meet Joe Mauer twice, and you already know the story behind that one. My apartment is full of signed memorabilia from all of these players as well as Adrian Peterson, despite the fact we have never met. I have said before that being involved in the sports card hobby is my way of feeding my hunger for player autographs, and still I feel jittery when I get the chance to meet anyone famous, let alone the players I follow.

Despite my innocent "im not ever going to sell any of this" attitude about it, autograph hounds like myself fall into two categories. The first category consists of people like me who will hold onto whatever they get forever. The second category is full of people who do whatever they can to get the most autographs possible to sell rather than to keep. Type 2 hounds are also the reason that people like Neil Armstrong and JD Salinger never sign anymore, and certain practices have led to record prices in auctions due to lack of supply.

Where do you draw the line, however? I know that if I see a famous person, Im going to ask for a signature if I have something for them to sign. Does that kind tenacity lump me in with the guys who wait outside of hotels for athletes with backpacks filled with baseballs? I havent ever done something like that before, but I have tried to fight through crowds to get the signature of a few bands that I loved growing up.

Considering how many lines I have waited in to meet someone, four hours at a time, six hours, I think maybe even eight hours once, I consider myself to be borderline. The thing that I think separates me is that 95% of my autographs have been from sanctioned signings, and most of the others are from TTM and other times.

Where do you draw the line? Im not a guy that will fight through throngs of screaming kids to shove a card into the face of a player at a game, but I will go out of my way to attend places where I know athletes and actors to be. I guess its a grayer area than once expected.


  1. I think the line is drawn between getting autographs for profit and getting them for your collection. At least, that's where I draw it.

  2. Agreed with JRJ. I would (and have) attended card shows to obtain autographs, and they're some of my best memories with my dad growing up.

    TTM is a fun hobby within a hobby.

    The only thing I don't really understand is paying for an autograph without getting to receive it in person...

  3. Being in Los Angeles we have an advantage over most other collectors, we actually have ACCESS to some of the best autograph signings in the nation. The Los Angeles Times Book Festival every year has given me the opportunity to meet and get autographs from Deacon Jones and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (albeit both in books). There's also just a ton of signings here, it's Hollywood after-all.

    I've lost track of how many celebrities I've met/seen or interacted with. At one point in the fufillment of my job I worked with Tony Hawk, 311, met Warren Beatty and Natassja Kinski. Hell, Wallace Langham (CSI) used to go to the same park that I take my daughter to, I talked to him for months until I got the nerve to bring up his acting.

    I love collecting autographs, but ONLY when it's appropriate. If I see a celebrity out on the street I'd rather say "Hi, how are you" rather than ask for an autograph. But at a signing or after a show, I'm there. Oh I'm there. I won't wait more than an hour either.

    I don't usually get star-struck either, but when I saw Jim Brown diving into the Playboy Mansion yesterday, it made my freaking day. Traffic sucked, so I could actually say "Hey, Jim Brown, you rock man!"

  4. @JRJ - 100% agree. If you sell it, you suck. One man's opinion.

  5. I have nearly 40 bats that I have had signed over the years, countless baseballs, footballs, helmets, jerseys, even hardwood flooring. My collection is to pass along to my children. I have never sold a ttm autograph or any item I had signed in person. That being said, I am aggressive when it comes to getting autographs. I will get to the ballpark before the gates open so that I can run over to the best signature spot. I won't shove kids out of the way, but I will shove adults, especially the guys that have 8 cards of a player to sign. That pisses me off, get one autograph and move on. I remember this one guy that had 15 cards of Troy Toluwitzki to sign, and being a gracious player he started to sign them all. When he got to the 5 autograph, I said, how about letting some of the other people get some autographs. Troy told the guy that's enough and started signing other peoples stuff. Afterwards the guy told me to mind my own ****ing business. I told him to **** off, then I told him I hope he doesn't make a dime on eBay, just loud enough so the players could hear it, he just huffed off, but the players laughed at him.