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So you want an autograph?

March 11, 2009

And you ARE NOT a store owner/collector looking to hawk it on eBay?

Some tips based on my experiences, spring training and in-season.

In Spring Training, at Fort Myers, one of the cool aspects of the complex is the closeness the fans and players have. However I’d offer this advice.

Ask players on their way out to the fields, and on their way off the fields.

Do NOT ask players going between fields during workouts, for the following reasons:

1) There is a schedule and groups are going field-to-field to get their drills in
2) Any player not working his ass off or concentrating on getting his work in that morning, you don’t want his autograph anyway:)

Ask players outside the dugouts during games, but not players doing warm ups and getting ready.

Do NOT ask DURING THE GAME!! I cannot overstate this strongly enough. This is neither the time nor the place to ask and you’re likely to become the butt of jokes if you hang your head over the dugout and shout “Hey Youk! Sign my JERSEY!” 30 seconds after he’s punched out.

Ask players after games who are done with their work on the main fields.

DO NOT ask players at the entrance or exit of the parking lots, or wait on the street corners and flag them down.

During the season, this is for you folks that on the rare occasion come DOWN TO THE DUGOUT while the game is being played. Tito has a bench there to give him clear access to the field, the players and the game, not to be more accessible to sign during the game, don’t ask:) I can 100% guarantee you aren’t going to get it signed, and it’s so ‘not right’ it’s borderline funny to watch.

Ask players NOT in their cars in the players lots.

Above all else, please PLEASE PLEASE abide by these two rules:

1) Let the kids up front to ask before the adults
2) Always, always say please and thank you.
3) Don’t ask to get more than one thing signed

If you follow the above and a player won’t sign, you don’t want his autograph anyway, or, trust that there is something being done schedule-wise that doesn’t permit him to sign.

My biggest issue, and the hardest thing I think to get across, is that rarely, if ever, are you asking alone. I never wanted to walk away leaving people behind when I had signed, so if I stopped to sign I tried to sign for everyone there; if I could not I usually did not. And because you ask by yourself, doesn’t mean the crowd won’t swell rapidly, especially here in Boston. Some players may bitch about it but other than 1-2 occasions every time I’ve had a public situation fans have been incredibly kind and respectful of my time, space and family. That’s another thing, there’s no need to get ‘into my space’ to get an autograph:)

The autograph and the process has become something players detest for reasons that might be hard to understand, but they exist none the less. Fifty percent or more of the people ‘wanting’ the autograph want it to turn a profit, and I have yet to find a player, myself included, that feels I ‘owe’ it to that person to do that.

People by and large have become incredibly rude and incredibly entitled, feeling players ‘owe them’ an autograph. I NEVER had issues signing and never refused when time permitted and I could accommodate. But I had no issues when ‘that fan’ showed up, making everyone very aware that they were by no means in need of the autograph, but I sure as hell owed it to them.

In public, out to eat or at the mall, please don’t start with “I really HATE to do this” or “I don’t want to do this but my friend wanted me to ask”… Don’t do that, just ask politely. If you truly hated to, you wouldn’t.

I promise you the please and thank you are two of the biggest pet peeves, kids rarely EVER do it anymore and most times it’s at the behest of mom or dad.

Be polite, be courteous and if the player doesn’t reciprocate just know you didn’t really miss anything – the player who isn’t signing is one you don’t want your kids to look up to anyway.

There are and always will be exceptions to every rule but I promise you most players really enjoy or don’t mind, as long as there is order, respect and some semblance of control when in public.

I generally never sign when out with my family because, believe it or not, I have some added concerns when in public and I prefer to have our eyes on our kids 24/7 and even though I feel bad about it, it’s something I try to stick to.

Players, again for the most part, are good guys. Most of us were fans before we were players and signing autographs is and can be a cool thing and a fun experience, but the most important thing is that treating us with the same respect you’d ask of anyone you didn’t know that walked up to you in public and asked you for something.

It never was a comfortable thing, always awkward (at least to me) and in certain public situations it can make others uncomfortable, but if you’re always polite it becomes very easy to tell the many great guys from the very few bad ones.

68 Comments leave one →
  1. Tpimike permalink
    March 11, 2009 10:41 pm

    Great advice, i will make sure that my kid know all of the tips. How do you feel about the kids calling you “sir”? I’m not much younger than you and it makes me feel realy old.

  2. Ace permalink
    March 11, 2009 11:52 pm

    What about fan mail during spring training or the regular season? Any tips on that or general thought among players?
    I tried sending to you twice with no success during seperate spring trainings but have had successes with tons of other players.

    I’m not a dealer, just a collector but I do think that the “selling autographs on ebay” is a poor excuse for not signing. If you do a little research you’ll see that those items rarely sell and if they do it’s for a couple dollars and no where near the certified items. It’s also the players that don’t sign that sell which is irony at it’s best.

  3. Davis permalink
    March 12, 2009 4:28 am

    With all due respect Curt, the fans buying tickets and merchandise and wtaching your games on TV (whether it be corporate or individuals)are indirectly paying your exorbitant salaries, so I do think you owe them an autograph if they are polite about it. Your tone is condescending and pompous.

  4. Mike permalink
    March 12, 2009 5:58 am

    Great tips for anyone to abide by. One time about 25 years ago a fellow that worked with me went shopping at lunch in downtown Westboro,MA. While shopping he bumped into Bobby Orr and started talking to him, told him that his son played high school hockey at Mt.St.Charles in Rhode Island. Bobby Orr asked this guy for his address and a few days later an autographed 8X10 color photo showed up in his mail. Now this was almost 30 years ago only 2 or 3 years after Bobby Orr retired. This it the type of guy that Orr is and why he is so loved in this area. Only downside was that the picture was of him in a Blackhawks uniform.

  5. Ben permalink
    March 12, 2009 6:19 am

    Hi Curt
    Thanks for the post…have you given any thoughts to taking Selig’s job in when you officially hang ’em up?

    Thanks again

  6. March 12, 2009 6:41 am

    Davis, you’re a twit. Athletes, actors and other famous people have personal lives too. Among other things, they’re out there doing your job. Would you like it if someone came to YOUR job and started pestering your for a memento? (French fries don’t count.)

    Curt, thanks for the advice. I’m not much of an autograph hunter myself but I do like to get my photo taken with people I meet, if the circumstances are right. When people are with their families or in other personal situations (like food shopping) that’s not the time. I’ve always felt I could recognize appropriate and inappropriate times to ask.

    But assuming I wasn’t interrupting anything, I always felt it was okay to acknowledge that person and what they’ve done WITHOUT asking for anything in return. I don’t know that people consider this. Let them know you appreciate their work without asking for anything in return.

  7. YANKEESAM3 permalink
    March 12, 2009 6:51 am

    I SURE WISH CURT WOULD RUN FOR POLTICAL OFFICE SOMEDAY

  8. DeniseSoxFan permalink
    March 12, 2009 7:15 am

    Hey Curt! Cool post – thanks. I used to drag my niece and nephew to every baseball card show we could get to and we have awesome autographed baseballs today! I’ve been waiting to hear that you are at a show so I could have a chance to add your autograph!

  9. Rhayader permalink
    March 12, 2009 7:22 am

    Good post Curt, thanks.

    To me, no self-respecting adult should be hounding a guy half his age to write his name down. I am 25 now, and I haven’t felt the need to get an autograph for at last 12 or 13 years. This is for kids; to a 10 year old kid, having Big Papi sign his ball is a really cool thing. To some 45 year old jackass, it’s either a sad quasi-obsession, or the chance to make a buck.

    Like Curt says, let the kids have their fun. We adults shouldn’t be mythologizing athletes anyway; it’s just another form of sad celebrity worship. Let’s enjoy the game for what it is, and let the players do their own thing.

  10. March 12, 2009 8:10 am

    Bill Simmons just hipped be to this blog. Very cool! Can’t wait to read on.

  11. March 12, 2009 8:20 am

    Nice post Curt. If I see another sweaty man-fan push a kid out of the way for his ebay purposes im gonna scream. Autographs are a weird thing anyway, an athlete/celebrity/disney character signs his name on an object and people fight tooth and nail for it, make tons of cash with it too. Ive never been an autograph seeker for this reason. Enjoy the game, admire your heroes. $125 (more or less) for an Ellsbury autograph??? pleeeaaaaseeee dude, pllleeeaaase.

  12. Greg permalink
    March 12, 2009 8:27 am

    Davis is the kind of fan that makes the rest of us look like asses.

  13. March 12, 2009 8:28 am

    This remind me of the time I was asked for my autograph.

    I was visiting Tucson in 2003 and wound up checking out the White Sox training camp very early one morning. I was 21 at the time, an athletic guy. I walked right up to the dugout and was standing next to the players. I grabbed a couple stray baseballs and got a couple autographs, including Miguel Olivo. I couldn’t believe I was the only fan there!

    On my way out, I was carrying my backpack when a group of several dozen fans approached me, asking for my autograph. Turns out I had accidentally wandered into a restricted area before where fans weren’t allowed. So now the real fans were all standing outside waiting for the players, and assumed I was a player. I was mobbed with pens and baseballs and media guides. “Sorry, I can’t sign,” I said. “You don’t want my autograph.”

    Some guy in the crowd with a young, dejected son, pleaded with me. “Aw, come on man, do it for the kid!” So I signed some kid’s ball and everyone was happy. No one even knew who I was!

  14. jerry permalink
    March 12, 2009 8:52 am

    Hey Curt,

    I love the blog, but have to admit autograph seekers give me the creeps. unless it is a kid under sixteen the whole process is just plain weird. I enjoyed watching you pitch, but I can’t imagine why I would want you to sign your name for me (Unless it was on the back of a check, which I’m open to.) Why would a grown up ask another grown up for an autograph? The whole thing is beyond bizarre. Anyway keep up the good work I love reading the blog.

  15. Matt Maggs permalink
    March 12, 2009 9:02 am

    I agree, it is a very awkward thing to ask a player for an autograph in public. I myself have a passion for autographs and always collected as a kid. Still to this day I have every single autograph I have ever obtained from a pro player, and I hope to one day pass them along to my kids.
    I had the pleasure of seeing Paul Molitor in a restraunt a few years back in fort myers during spring training, I though It would be crossing the line asking for a signature. Paul was alone eating at the bar believe it or not, and it was not crowded, so I took a chance, I ended up having a 15 minute conversation with with Mr. Molitor, and I must say he is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, he shook my hand asked if I was having a good time in FL, and wanted to know where I was from. Paul is definitely someone you would want an autograph from, what a class act.
    Your right on the fact that its all on a case by case basis when and when not to ask, for us fans its best to use your head and consider everything. If you have any doubts its probably best to not ask I would say.

  16. Jamie permalink
    March 12, 2009 9:18 am

    I thought this was a cool article. I am a big fan of the fact that Curt gives the reader insight about what it is like to be a player. I also really enjoy when he comments about current events in sports from the player perspective. It gives us as fans a look into what it is like to be a professional athlete.

    That being said, in reference to one of the comments above, it really bothers me when someone has the audacity to call Schilling pompous. The man just wrote an article for your enjoyment and you tell him he is condescending? I am sorry to break it to you, but professional athletes don’t owe us as fans anymore than giving 100% on the field. If you as a fan are owed an autograph, where does it end. Should your son’s favorite player have to attend his birthday party because you bought a few tickets?

    Without going off on a huge tangent, one would hope that most of these guys should be willing to go out of their way a bit to make a kid happy by signing an autograph. But when they do, they do not because they owe you. That player is just being a nice guy, or at the very least he understands that being looked up to comes with the territory.

    When fans in other areas want to bash Schilling it is because they are jealous and I can deal with that. Boston fans have no business doing so if they enjoyed those World Series titles. Let me tell you something, if Curt doesn’t have that experimental surgery and pitch, we don’t win. I don’t care what anyone says, he risked his career to pitch those games.

    People with an opinion are refreshing. I am glad Curt shares his with us.

  17. Mike permalink
    March 12, 2009 9:49 am

    Curt-

    These are great words to follow when attempting to get autographs. Although there are plenty of rude idiots out there who will stick out in your mind for their antics, there are plenty of us fans who are simply looking to get the signature of a player they admire and go about so quietly. But lets remember, many people are intimidated when a pro athlete approaches and sometimes aren’t using their clear head..

    I also believe you DO NOT owe anyone anything, no matter your status or profession. If any of us could make millions playing a sport we would and wouldn’t feel like we owed anyone anything.

    With that said, how would one get an autograph of Curt Schilling? There would only be a couple players I’d put up on the wall of my Law Office and you’d be one of them.
    Not sure if you read these, but if so, I would be serious in getting your autograph- including if I could help the Shade Foundation with a donation to do so.
    Keep up the Good Work
    Sincerely,
    Mike

  18. Ben permalink
    March 12, 2009 10:36 am

    Hi Curt,

    Would you prefer to sign an autograph for a fan, or take a picture when them (which clearly wouldn’t be sold)?

  19. mkagan permalink
    March 12, 2009 10:54 am

    This is a thank you and a story for you and the other players.

    Eight years ago when my son Dan was 7 he and I went to a Red Sox/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. We were lucky enough to have seats in the second row in back of the visitor’s dugout. As the Red Sox trotted back to the dugout after their warmup, Brian Daubach tossed a ball to Dan, standing there in his Red Sox cap.

    That moment was magic for Dan. Ever since, he has been crazy about baseball (and the Red Sox). Right now he is a freshman in high school. Last night he got named the starting catcher for his high school’s varsity baseball team.

    Brian’s moment of kindness gave Dan a lifetime love (and who knows, maybe even a career?).

  20. SoxFan4life permalink
    March 12, 2009 11:03 am

    Yeak i couldnt agree more. one time when i was at spring training a while back a lady asked trot nixon to sigh a cigerett box. Trot refused and the lady yelled at him. This prompted all the players to leave and no more autographs were signed that day. Its people like that who make players not want to sign autographs. Also if you want a legends autograph go to spring training where Johnny Pesky sits down the left field line and signs what ever you give him all game. He is a great fan friendly guy and a please to meet. If you have the opertunity to go and see him and get an autograph,take it.

  21. Dave S. permalink
    March 12, 2009 11:05 am

    Signing autographs is tough, the guys who want to do it do so because they want to. I remember back in 2001 when the Sox and Orioles played at Fenway Cal Ripken hung out after the game signing autographs. Not sure of the exact time, but it felt like it was 30+ minutes after the game ended; Fenway security came over to Cal and said “Cal, you have to wrap it up we need to get them out of here.” I had heard from someone else that Cal was like that, he’d always spend time signing autographs.

    This is not something that is owed to us. Yes the fans do play a role in your salaries, but so doesn’t Ford, Coca-Cola, Giant Glass and every other sponsor out there. If the only source of income teams got came from ticket prices, they’d either be 3X what they currently are or players would be making less than minimum wage.

  22. Eric permalink
    March 12, 2009 11:50 am

    No offense Curt, but Anne Coulter is weak sauce. She’s playing a part – it’s schtick – and she’s made a lot of money doing it. But the simple fact of the matter is that no one is correct 100% of the time. When someone claims to be (as Annie does) red flags should go up.

    ‘Course, in politics – as in sports – it’s all about rooting “for the laundry”. She’s got “Republican” across her chest, so she could pretty much admit to being the second shooter on the grassy knoll, and still count you as a fan. It’s funny, though, how sure of yourself you sound when talking about these matters. Each side can cherry pick facts to support their argument. Don’t get ahead of yourself simply because Bill Maher didn’t bother to memorize the NeoCon encyclopedia. Peace.

  23. NHBill permalink
    March 12, 2009 11:54 am

    Exactly the kind of well reasoned player perspective I like to read. A reporter can write a column with this kind of common sense but it has far greater resonance coming directly from the athletes involved. With that said I once saw my boyhood idle John Glenn in a hotel. He was obviously engaged with his family so I simply enjoyed sharing the same space with him. Other than turning a profit I just don’t understand why people feel the need to ask for something in writing. I would much rather take the brief time enjoying the experience and perhaps exchanging a word or two. I have noticed that many children are told to get autographs when they are not even aware of the person involved. The really great thing is using the internet to have conversations with people from all walks of life. Thanks for being accessible Curt.

  24. March 12, 2009 12:18 pm

    Curt – great post. All that you say makes a lot of sense. I’m 37 and I love the Red Sox, but I really cant’ imagine wanting an autograph as an adult – perhaps for my daughters. Something kinda weird about grown men/women gawking over other grown men/women. Whatever – my opinion.

    All of this is common sense.

  25. Patrick permalink
    March 12, 2009 12:26 pm

    Curt-

    How can we get your autograph now? I have a replica 2005 Opening Day jersey with a #38 on the back, outlined in gold. I almost never wear it and when people ask why, I tell them it is because I’m waiting to get it signed, framed and hung on the wall. I don’t want mustard or ketchup stains on it.

    Sometimes when I am the only one with a player and getting an autograph, due to my age, I can sense that the player fears I’m getting is signed for eBay, so I’ll sometimes ask them to put “To Patrick” on it, as that pretty much destroys any resale value, and it actually makes it even better for me as it hangs on my wall.

    I’d love to have your signed jersey hanging on my wall between my Yaz and Ted Williams autographs, but I just need to know how to get it. Even if that means a donation of some size to “Curt’s Pitch”, I’m plenty cool with that.

    Thanks!

  26. Scott permalink
    March 12, 2009 12:50 pm

    Very good read, and very truthful. I have started to collect and have seen a lot of what Mr. Schilling is talking about. Going to spring training and hearing young kids ask without a please or thank you gets to me. I am in my late 20s, so older than some players, and the same as others, and I still ask by saying “Mr. XXXX, can you please sign my XXXXX for me?” and always say thank you. I know who the ebayers are around my town, and have tried very hard to not let them push, or get anything, and have told some players who they are. I’m not a fan of seeing myself in their “proof” photos on ebay. Thanks Mr. Schilling for a great blog.

  27. ricefan permalink
    March 12, 2009 12:55 pm

    Curt,

    I appreciate you listing out these rules. An autograph I still have mixed feelings about is from 20 years ago. We were in Treasure Island, FL, on spring break. There was an “all you can play” arcade there, and one rainy morning my buddies and I went there. After 30 minutes or so a guy arrived with his two kids, and he had a TON of quarters. I was awed by the quarters. Then I looked at the man’s face, and saw it was Ozzie Smith. The Wizard of Oz, right in that arcade! He was with his kids, but I couldn’t believe that I was right there with him. I asked for his autograph (please and thank you) and he gave it, and that was that.

    I’m not an autograph hound or ebay reseller, but now that I have kids I wish I hadn’t bothered him for the autograph. If I could do it all over again, I’d say “I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy you play”, and then walked away. The memory is the autograph.

  28. TVo permalink
    March 12, 2009 2:48 pm

    Curt,
    How crazy was that ESPN the weekend thing with you getting mobbed for autographs!

  29. bill permalink
    March 12, 2009 5:00 pm

    most ball players cant spell there name anyway

    And many people posting on blogs can’t spell THEIR names either.

  30. Risa permalink
    March 12, 2009 7:48 pm

    Thanks Curt. I agree with 99 1/2%. Us old ladies of 46 years old who have been fans since they were eight years old still get a charge out of the occasional autograph, especially if it commemorates something. Actually I’m way more of a “photo” person. But what I do agree with the most is the please and thank you. I also try to attain momentary eye contact along with the kind words. It is truly appreciated.

  31. Larry permalink
    March 12, 2009 11:59 pm

    If you have a chance of getting an autograph from the great Curt Schilling, I wouldn’t turn it down. I have gotten him randomly at least a couple of times in-person, so I have no worries here.

    This is more of a response to posters who feel like kids should be the only ones getting them. but I don’t understand the mentality of autographs being only for the kids. If you are an adult who wants an autograph, then must you be some weird guy who lives down the river.

    As much as it is a business for some opportunitic people [who is kidding who here], it is still an way to still connect [however brief] with the sport you watch and some its top performers.

    What is wrong about approaching a player for an autograph or somehow feeling like it is weird or strange? I’m sure everyone has their momentos/keepsakes and memorabilia.

    Getting a simple autograph from anyone willing to sign shouldn’t be looked down upon, whether you want one at five, 25 or 50 years old.

  32. Donna permalink
    March 13, 2009 5:01 am

    Curt,
    ….and bothersome emails. Curt,I want to publicly apologize for the email that I sent to you the other day. It was written in my time of grief over the loss of my friend,but I should not have sent it to you,bothered you with it(so many emails is not a good thing). For the record, everything that I said in the email regarding you is absolutely true. Anyway,please accept my sincere apology for the email. I now see the error of my ways. Please forgive me. Yes? You can let me know either way;I deserve it….
    Donna,New York City
    P.S. Heard you on the radio here in New York on Thursday. Great as always.

  33. Rob permalink
    March 13, 2009 6:39 am

    Curt,

    great advice but there should be a golden rule for men that any male over the age of 25 should not be asking another man for his autograph. Its one thing to get one for your kid or to pay money in a charity event.
    As a 33 year old man- I wold find it uncomfortable to ask Jacobt Ellsbury to sign my ball or glove. Also- I shouldnt be brining a glove the game.

  34. karl gerds permalink
    March 13, 2009 8:21 am

    Well put. I just can’t believe how rude some folks can be. I’ve seen it!! Whenever I’ve gotten an autograph from a player, I’ve always made it a point to be polite and appreciative — and I’m NOT a collector!! Good luck!

  35. Rhayader permalink
    March 13, 2009 9:11 am

    @bill #29: Oh man, Curt got you! Nice work Schill.

  36. pinball-yankee permalink
    March 13, 2009 10:24 am

    I need to stick up for the old guys who collect baseballs, I’m 46 and I probably have 50 signed baseballs (including Mr Schilling). I don’t limit it to just baseball players though, I have NYC mayors Guilani, and Koch, Who Frontman Pete Townshend, as well as a few other lesser known Rock Stars. I never sell any of these.

    I appreciate the post though – it’s interesting to get the players perspective on this – I can imagine it would be frustrating to think that something you sign would quickly wind up on ebay. But I can say for certain that there are at least a few older guys who seek autographs who don’t plan to resell them.

  37. Dougie "Dude Ranch" Mirabelli permalink
    March 13, 2009 10:46 am

    C. Montague:

    Superb tips — I know that I always try to sign for as many of the unwashed masses who often gather at my enormous feet. The jock-sniffing adults and memorabilia dealers get on my already-frazzled nerves, too, but I like to do something special for the kids: if they can get me something big enough (such as a knuckleball-specific catcher’s mitt, or a life-size doll in my studly likeness), I sign it in meatball parm sauce. I find the kids appreciate the special, and delicious, touch.

    Dealt it,

    Dougie “Dude Ranch” Mirabelli

  38. Bruce permalink
    March 13, 2009 11:11 am

    Curt,

    I heard about your blog this morning on WBZ and wanted to check it out – because the story struck a chord with me. Now that I’ve read the most recent entry I understand why.

    First, thank you for your rules of engagement. If your fan flock is bothering you whilst you practice, then I would think the Red Sox organization would want to take note and somehow convey when is, and is not, the time and place to meet the players. Were I managing the facility I’d consider what I need to do to be sure my players were focused on their job. It would seem to be in their best interest in order to protect the organizations assets that drive people to games.

    Here are my rules of engagement:

    Do NOT take a high profile job with a mob sized fan following if you are not willing to acknowledge them on a regular basis, in person and often – no matter where you are. Nomar Garciaparra is noted for recognizing his fans often – and in sometimes obscure ways. He is a good public persona. You get what you give, sir. You get what you give. And that goes for the fans too.

    Do NOT command a multi-million dollar salary and expect the average working Joe to spend $350 to watch a game in the most uncomfortable (albeit storied) park in MLB- and not get excited to meet you. As far as spring training goes, if I’m going to spend the coin to fly my family to FL for vacation and spend a day at your camp, they are going to be excited. If they see you they are going to want to engage. It’s human nature. You have a choice as a high profile player – manage that expectation, or not. Thanks for drawing the line for me.

    With regard to talking to players during a break, my 11 year old tried that and was ignored. Flat out. And no, it wasn’t during a game.

    On the flip side, I’ll share a “Fantastic Fenway” moment that will hopefully drive this point home. May 18, 2008 we were lucky enough to get seats close in. My 10 year old brought his glove to catch a fowl- he was so excited that I thought I was going to have to tie him to the seat for safety. Luck have it, Dustin Pedroia banged one right to his glove. But what really got me was that Mr. Pedroia managed to remember where the ball was hit. He came out as the game ended see if he could find the ball to sign it. We always wait until the crowd clears and so there we were, and there was Dustin. That is respecting your fan base. That, caused my son to say thank you. That is what drives him to spend money on MLB salaries. Yeah, he still remembers being ignored. My lesson to him: People react differently in emotional situations. Take from it what you can and move on.

    Anyone who has the talent to work hard and be paid to play this game is very lucky. And if you can manage to make millions doing it, all the better. My biggest issue with the player fan relationship is that, in general, players come off uncaring and detached. You are on a stage. You build this persona. You are a public profile. That comes with some expectation. And then you say, “Whoa, these people are nuts.” It is doubtful that the Dustin Pedrioa sports experience will ever be eclipsed in my lifetime. If it ever happened again I would be beyond shocked. If fans are aggressive, could it be that maybe – just maybe – by and large, the players reaction to fame might have something to do with it?

    No, you or any other MLB player do not owe anyone but the ownership who pays your salary a thing. But that’s a very short sighted view for someone who has chosen a career that is this public. I’d think it would be in your best interest to be as accessible as possible, while commanding decency and respect. Franky, I think you do that quite well. Which is why I was a bit disappointed to read your blog today. It left me cold. Go Sox…

  39. David Graesing permalink
    March 13, 2009 12:46 pm

    Kids ought to be looking at their parents as their role models to start with, not an overpayed I got it so tough athlete………who needs a damned autogragh any dang ways……..geeeeeeeeesh……..get a life

  40. orlando sox fan permalink
    March 13, 2009 1:56 pm

    Here’s a Manny autograph story…
    I’m on a business trip about 10 years ago, staying in a hotel in Minneapolis. We’re sitting in the lounge and the Twins-Indians game is on TV. When it ends, the bartender says, “well, they’ll be here in about an hour.” We say, “who?” and he says, “The Indians. They’re staying here.”
    A good looking young woman in our group has 2 nephews that live in Cleveland, so she asks the bartender where she could find a couple of baseballs. She takes off running, and gets back about 20 minutes huffing and puffing with 2 baseballs in her hand. Moments later, 6 or 7 large men walk in together. We say to her, “there they are!” and she takes off across the lobby, leaping into the elevator – seriously! – as the doors close.
    10 minutes later she comes back with a bewildered look on her face. She tells us what happened.
    As she leapt into the elevator, the guys acted like she wasn’t there. She’s very pretty, but they must see it all the time. Then she says, “Hey guys! I can’t believe you’re staying here! I’m in town on business, but I have 2 young nephews who live in Cleveland and worship the Indians! Would you mind signing a ball for each of them?” And…silence. No eye contact. Nothing. Until, from the back of the elevator, a guy pipes up, calls the other guys a non-printable name, and steps forward. “I’ll sign your baseballs, lady.” And he signs them, and makes his buddy sign them too.
    So she holds the baseball out to us and says, “This is the guy that helped me out. Is he good?” And the signature says, “Manny Ramirez”
    True story.

  41. March 13, 2009 2:41 pm

    Great advice, and I know you’ve been following it yourself for a long time. I am not really an autograph collector – just a handful of them from special occasions (i.e. a signed ball from Steve Carlton). My other most cherished piece of baseball memorabilia is my ticket stubs from Game 5 of the ’93 World Series. You signed them for me at Caln Little League field the following year. And I swear I didn’t even shove any of those kids out of my way. πŸ˜‰

  42. Th New Number 2 permalink
    March 13, 2009 4:02 pm

    Count me among those who just don’t get this autograph stuff. Even as a kid, what am I going to do with an autograph? And who are these people buying autographed stuff on Ebay? What’s the sense in having an autographed object if you didn’t go get the autograph yourself? The only reason I can think of for wanting somebody’s messy signature on something is to tell the story of how you met this person and got them to sign something. What do ebay people do? “Yeah, here’s my Curt Schilling autographed pencil holder, I totally bought it on Ebay!”. I dunno, it’s just weird.

  43. Brendan permalink
    March 13, 2009 6:32 pm

    Very well said. Please and Thank You are very important. I do hate to say I did break one of the rules when I as a kid. Back in 1980 me and my best friend went to a Red Sox game at Fenway, and after the game my friends father asked if we wanted to go by the players parking lot and try to get some autographs. We both excited said yes. We were both big Yaz fans and really wanted his autograph. We told this to the parking lot attendant, and he said Yaz was usually the last player to leave and hardly ever stopped to sign autographs. Well we waited anyways, and Yaz was the last to leave, and we were the last ones waiting. And you know what, he stopped to sign an autograph for each of us. We were both overwhelmed that he stopped, but it didn’t stop us from saying please and thank you. As far as I am concerned that auto graph is priceless to me, and I would never sell it to anyone. Stopping to give a couple of 10 year old boys an autographs meant more to me than anything. So any adult seeking autographs realize that they can mean so more to kids.

  44. skipjack permalink
    March 13, 2009 9:00 pm

    Many, many years ago, I was working my way through college by working as a busboy and waiter in a restaurant on the North Shore. Two or three times each summer, the late Walter Brennan would come in with his daughter and son-in-law. I usually got to wait on his table. At the time, he was starring in a popular TV show, “the Guns of Will Sonnett”. I could not believe how rude people were to him and his family. He might have his fork halfway to his mouth and some fool would shove a matchbook or something under his nose and say, “Sign this!” He always smiled pleasantly and signed. He was a really nice person. I asked him once why he put up with that kind of rudeness. His response was, something to the effect that he made a huge amount of money because fans watched his shows and movies. I still think he was too kind, and the actions of his fans inexcusable.

    I respect the fact that you protect your family. Thanks for you comments.

  45. March 14, 2009 1:32 am

    Curt You are a wonderful person and kind person. I don’t care what other fans say about you. This blog about autographs was great!!!!!!!. I agree you have to respect players. You should say thank you Sir for signing this baseball for me. Just like in the Marines when the Recruits say thank you Sir. Sir could you please sign a baseball for me if I send a ball to you at 38 Pitches. I would like that if you could please do that for me. I sent Jon Lester a letter and thanked him for signing a baseball for me. In Janurary of this year when Jon Lester got Married My Pastor from my Church in Beaufort South Carolina Married Jon Lester. I gave my pastor a ball for Jon to sign. My Pastor’s Daughter is friends with Jon’s wife and that is why my pastor married them. They wanted to have someone they knew do the wedding. Take care Mr. Schilling!!!!!!!. You are the Best!!!!!!!!. It is great you have this blog!!!!!!!!

    From, Jeff Riley

  46. 2 Bit Bill permalink
    March 14, 2009 10:40 pm

    Yo Bro,
    You should drop me a line sometime. We can talk about the, Airborne, the 101st and our Dads. I blew Taps on Thursday for Sam Mc Neal, a Market Garden Silver Star recipient. Gavin pinned him.

    I was hopin’ to get my Strat-O-Matic 1997 Curt Schilling All Star Card penned.
    als tu bleift!(since we’re talkin’ Market Garden)
    dank u well

    Colonel Yu

  47. Guy permalink
    March 15, 2009 9:51 am

    Curt,

    Thanks for all the autographs over the years, And Thanks for “Springing for a cure” in Florida, Your name , Presence and donations surly improved on the lives of others.

    I still have the TV guide poster that you signed.

  48. Zack permalink
    March 15, 2009 12:53 pm

    Really?!!! Thanks for laying out the obvious. I understand there are idiots in this world, but they will be idiots even after the advice.

    Do you realize that the fans buying the tickets to see the game and players in turn help pay salaries? I am sure you do. The fans are free to ask for autographs whenever they choose. If it is not appropriate, as you stated they will just be ignored or maybe even told no.

    Now I will concede that I do feel it is highly inappropriate for someone to ask a player for his autograph in certain situations. If said player it out for a meal somewhere, clearly enjoying the company of those they are with they should be left alone. If the player is conducting business it is also highly inappropriate to ask for a signature.

    The players also have to understand that they are getting paid large sums of cash for their talent as well as their abilities to represent a team and/or product. Part of fulfilling that service is being a public figure. If the figure is out in public, say walking around Boston, they should expect to fulfil their duty to their employer (team) by signing autographs and doing it gratiously.

    Also, where do you get off making any comments about selling autographed items on ebay? That is pure American capitalism, you facist gas-bag! You should be happy that there are people with enough money to waste that they would bother bartering for something with your or another player’s signature.

  49. Chase Peeler permalink
    March 17, 2009 3:06 pm

    I liked this post. I have always loved getting autographs just because I think they are neat to have. I don’t want them so I can sell them, and I don’t feel I am owed them either.

    I don’t know about other stadiums, but in Atlanta they let people hang out down the first base line up till about 30-60 minutes before the game and sometimes people come out and sign, sometimes they don’t. I personally feel if you are going to let kids go down there and wait, someone should come out and sign something. Each player could sign up to sign for 2 or 3 games a season, and it would guarantee someone comes out every game, and kids don’t leave disappointed.

    One thing I have always done though is say “please” and “thank you”. I also try to be respectful, and would ask “Mr Schilling, may I please have your autograph”, and not just call you Curt.

    I heard a story from a friend of mine that was a huge red sox fan and about the only one I know of that didn’t like this particular pitcher. He said that when he was younger, around 8 or so, his younger sister (around 5 or 6 i think) saw this pitcher and asked him for his autograph. The pitcher replied “you got $150?” to which the children replied “no” and he said “then you can’t have my autograph”. Brought the little girl to tears.

  50. Pattijor permalink
    March 18, 2009 10:13 pm

    They should sign for the kids and that’s it. Who cares about some guy’s signature? I don’t care what these guys do in private; don’t want to know them or be their buddy. I do, however, want them to kick Ray/Yankee butt.

    Okay, so I’d give a vital organ to be Bobby Orr’s buddy πŸ™‚

  51. Pattijor permalink
    March 18, 2009 10:15 pm

    Curt,
    Whadaya think about the cups on the string at some parks, mainly minor league ones, I think? It seems rude to me.

  52. Huge Red Sox Fan permalink
    March 19, 2009 2:43 am

    I agree that fans should approach a ballplayer politely and respectfully. I think that the appropriate place for autographs is at the ball park or any kind of baseball related event for the public e.g. World Series victory parade or a charity event with sports celebrity attractions, etc. Otherwise, it can be intrusive.

    However, I wish that ballplayers would return the same courtesy to the fans by going the extra mile to at least greet fans, autographs or not, either before the game or after the game. It means alot to the people who are willing to stand around waiting just for a chance (no guarantees, just a chance) to say hello to you. Its so easy for you guys to make somebody’s whole day.

    Perhaps ballplayers could pre-sign a few balls before the game and toss these out to fans before the game? That way you are relieved of the pressure of having to sign balls on the spot but at least some fans get to walk away with something? Maybe different players can volunteer to do this on certain days in some kind of rotating order? How long does it take to sign 5 to 10 balls? 3-5 minutes?

    The reality is that signed balls do not sell as well as you would expect. I just did searches on ebay to double check my assertions. Many auctions for such balls close for bids between $10-$50 but often closer to $20. Even a ball signed by Dustin Pedroia (who is very popular right now) can close for less than the cost of the baseball itself! Non-auction items (“Buy It Now” or “Best Offer”) going for $500+ do not typically sell and end up getting re-listed over and over. So its not quite the gold mine like most ballplayers think. Only balls signed by historical legends like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, etc make any real money. Even then, an item only goes for a couple thousand dollars… not hundreds of thousands or millions. Believe it or not, even two grand does not go very far these days.

    Even if they did sell well, so what? Ballplayers get multi-million dollar contracts with the option to retire early. Let’s say hypothetically that signed balls made people fortunes, if you could do something as simple as sign an object with a pen to help someone out big time financially… why wouldn’t you?

    I’m not saying that you OWE anyone an autograph. But I do not understand the logic behind REFUSING to sign balls for people who might try to sell it… especially people who can not expect to even retire with a 6 figure savings after 40 years hard work.

    Seems like celebrities are only willing to be generous to the fans who are dying by doing charities that make sure everybody knows about your good deeds. Screw the poor saps getting laid off from their jobs, screwed by wall street, jipped by insurance companies and enslaved by the banks. No little rays of sunshine for those fans.

  53. judy permalink
    March 24, 2009 7:42 am

    Excellent advice. Thanks for spelling it all out. I had my kids read it.

    After experiencing some of those pushy, rude, and lets face it, down right creepy adult autograph collectors while at Spring Training with my son a few years back, I can completely understand why sometimes players don’t want to stop to sign. I would secure him a safe spot at the wall and then move back to where I could keep an eye on him. I think the kids would be more successful if more parents did this.

    A positive interaction with a player can mean a lot to a young fan. My son can still remember years later with a smile on his face some of the brief interactions, even a smile or a wave, he has had with some Sox players.

  54. sdl1 permalink
    March 24, 2009 8:09 pm

    Curt…

    I’m 52 and a few years ago, I started collecting again. I’m semi-retired and the wife tells me I need a hobby. My personal guidelines are that I get sigs from guys I watched when I was a kid or current players who either played for the Sox or played in International competition. I either make blowups of cards or look for action pics on-line and I always ask to have them personalized.

    I have had some bad experiences with dealers who will DEMAND that guys sign 30-50 cards. An example was last year at the Rays Fan Fest where some guy had about 30 Tom Niedenfuer cards that he practically browbeat Tom into signing (Niedenfuer was part of the MLBPAA table that was there). My wife, who was in line with me, made a copmment about how some other people wouldike to get soem sigs as well. The dealer turned and glared at us but didn’t say anything. After he was done, I stepped up and told Tom I only had ONE item and he laughed. I also try to get a handshake afterwards.

    One pleasant surprise from getting action pics signed, especially if they are from the Olympics or the IBAF World Cup is that the players themselves ask me where I found the pics. I’m only too glad to tell them or they will give me their e-mail address and ask me to send them a copy. At the minor league camps, I’ve even sent some Olympic/International Competition pics to the families of players who want a copy for themselves.

    I’ve never lost sight of the fact that it’s a HOBBY and it should remain one. I’ll never buy an autograph from a dealer, that is for sure.

  55. Tim permalink
    March 24, 2009 8:26 pm

    Curt,
    I was 29 years old at the time and you are my hero. I knew the team would be flying out that day and so was I, so I met the team at the gate. I was the only fan there, and only there for the purpose of either getting your autograph or picture with you. Your plane didn’t leave for another 30 or 40 minutes and as you were entering the plane, you did not stop for a second after i politely asked for 5 seconds of your time. Maybe some other time.

  56. scott permalink
    March 25, 2009 2:05 am

    Just wanted to say I like your site! Glad I found it.

  57. March 25, 2009 7:30 am

    Well, well, well. Ketchup Sock Curt is finally calling it quits. I guess with your boy G.Dub finally finished running our country into the ground and you’ve concluded that with all of the ‘critical’ evidence against Bonds thrown out and the prosecution of him delayed until the Feds can manufacture some evidence that might stick, your opportunities to try to get him out were fading. He owned you at every phase of your career and your disdain for him has little to do with performance enhancement, but rather the documented numbers that conclude that Barry Bonds owns Curt Schilling. Another thing, are you serious about your support of the worst President in History. G.W. is the worst, other than you. Now if possible, please plan a hunting trip with Dick Cheney and Bobby Knight. Prove that the sock wasn’t saturated with Ketchup, Meat!!! Oh, that’s right, you can’t prove anything. If you think that we’re buying the World series sock as the ‘real’ bloody sock, we’re not. Mirabelli told Gary Thorne the truth and it is amazing that a Faith thumper like yourself lives a daily lie. Nice. I’ll pray for you that hopefully LaShonda doesn’t grow tired of having your fat arse around all day long. Thanks, now please go away. Sincerely, A concerned Baseball fan and a highly patriotic American.

  58. George Bush permalink
    March 25, 2009 1:42 pm

    Can you sign my baseball? You are so awesome

  59. Carl Boland permalink
    March 25, 2009 11:04 pm

    How would I go about getting your autograph on a baseball?

  60. Dennis Meakim permalink
    March 28, 2009 1:29 pm

    Curt-
    First let me say thank you as a Phillies fan for all of the time you stuck around through those terrible years. You are a great person and a great pitcher. Number two, as a child I had the honor of meeting you and I don’t remember if I said it then but THANK YOU for your autograph. I still display it proudly!

  61. Fundraiser permalink
    March 28, 2009 9:06 pm

    Mr Curt Schilling

    I am not an ebayer or looking for self profit. I am looking to gather some autographs for a Jimmy Fund Golf Event. After our event we will be having a diiner/auction. Last year I was able to gather some NL autographs and a couple of Red Sox autographed balls. This was a big draw and we have already are being asked what might be in our auction this year. Thanks for all fundraising and giving you have done yourself.

  62. Andrew permalink
    March 29, 2009 3:48 pm

    Mr. Schilling,
    Thanks for the great read on how to be appropriate during in person encounters. It is greatly appreciated. As a collector, I have few chances to get to the city to catch any players in person. Would you consider writing about fan mail requests and what is the best way to go about it? Thanks so much!
    Andrew

  63. noah permalink
    March 29, 2009 7:13 pm

    I just want to say that i am a huge fan of yours. when you pitched for the d-backs i just became a huge fan. I just wanted to say you should come back and play for the phillies again. if you dont do that at the least do what lieberthal did and sign a one day contract and retire as a phillie. if you do this philadelphia will love you forver

  64. jared permalink
    September 6, 2009 1:38 am

    wow. all that for an autograph? half the fun of getting them is the challenge, and don’t the fans pay you? you need to pay up, stop acting like chump, and get over yourself.

  65. Walt permalink
    September 7, 2009 1:48 pm

    Mr Schilling:

    I met you when I was 14 and you played for the New Britain Red Sox…I still have the couple autographs you signed for me, as I found them at my parent’s house. My friend, Eric, and I went to about 1/2 of the games that year and had some note cards on players. There was a note on yours that you were “super nice” and you gave Eric a broken bat after one game…which I think was because in that game you saw him give a foul ball to a kid that had never had one (while we were there all the time, so we had plenty).

    Now, I’m a Yankees fan, and didn’t have as warm feelings for you in 2004…but have always respected you and think this is a great blog entry for people to remember. I brought my 9 and 4 year old to a Yankees/phillies game on Memorial Day. even though we were in Yankees shirts, Brad Lidge pointed to my 4 year old during warmup…made a show of it and tossed the ball to me to give her….an older guy swooped in in front of me and took off with it. Nick Swisher was throwing on the side and saw it, so he pointed up and said “this one is for her” — but then overthrew me, it went into the usher area, the usher got it and tossed it up to me…only to have it taken in a fishing net by another older guy. I’m 35, I don’t need a ball, any more than a lot of these guys do….can’t you respect that kids should get these things now, like we did when we were kids?

  66. September 7, 2009 7:41 pm

    Great post Curt. My little boy has just started trying to collect autographs and the absolute thrill he gets out of it is a very special thing to me and makes me appreciate the players who sign even more.

  67. Kelly Godfrey permalink
    December 16, 2009 12:04 pm

    Great! What do you do if your in Alabama and nowhere near where you could try to catch one coming on or off the field?? Only reason Im saing is, my 12 year old son has asked for one thing for Christmas… ONE. An Autographed Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling ANYTHING. I thought, “Hey, this is gonna be easy!” Have you seen the prices that these guys are asking for these items? I have searched the internet over and whoever is selling them is making a killing. I guess as long as there are kids and big kids wanting them so bad and ppl willing to pay for it, it will always be. As for me and my house. We cant afford to pay what is being asked. He must have known it was going to be alot because thats all he has asked for.

  68. January 10, 2013 8:42 pm

    very well said court

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38 Pitches

Curt Schilling's Official Blog

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