So you want an autograph?
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.