Got autographs??…Of Course!!




It seems most anyone who follows a sport or collects anything related to sports, a question that will eventually surface is “Do you have any autographs?”  or some related variation.  That leads me to the subject of this blog….Why do we get autographs, and why are we impressed by them?


Autographs mean different things to different people.  Some don’t care if the autograph is obtained via purchase, trade, or inheritance…they are just as proud as if they had been there in person to get the autograph.  Yet others give little value to an autograph unless they got it personally.  Then there is the subject of whose autograph it is, some only like the superstars, heroes, and legends, while others will even make an attempt at getting the autograph of the bullpen catcher of a minor league baseball team, who doesn’t have a roster spot on the team, much less a card, jersey, or bat to sign.


The seemingly overwhelming reason most people consider when getting autographs is the value that the signature brings on the open market.  The perception of anyone hanging outside a ballpark, arena, dugout, clubhouse, hotel lobby, trying to get an autograph is that they are doing it for the money they can get by selling that autograph.  The collectibles industry has done a fabulous job of feeding that perception by flooding the market with high priced autographed items, either by inserts in baseball card sets, or as auctions, or even selling them on TV via the Home Shopping Network. 


Speaking only for myself, I like to get autographs just simply for the experience of meeting a player, or celebrity in person if even for the two or three seconds it takes for them to sign their name.  It is always interesting to me to see the personality of a person when they are asked for their autograph.  Some make it a point to strike up a short conversation like “ How are you doing?”, or to look the person making the request directly in the eyes, almost as if to determine the intent in the request, while others barely even look up, or stop walking, or even stop a conversation with someone else to sign their name effortlessly on whatever is handed to them.


My very first autograph experience was when I was 5 years old, living in Ft. Worth, and a budding Dallas Cowboy fan.  My dad took me to a local car dealership where Roger Staubach was making an appearance, and signing autographs.  The highlight of my day was not only getting to see my favorite cowboy player in person, but him handing me his autographed picture while I was riding on my father’s shoulders.  I was so proud of that autograph that as soon as I got home…I put my name on it, so everyone would know it belonged to me.  Needless to say…the value of that autograph on the secondary market may have dropped considerably with the addition of my 5 year old signature, but the autograph attached to the memory is priceless to me. 


Over the years, I have obtained a wide variety of autographs from a variety of people, from indy car racer Johnny Rutherford, to football players, baseball players, even former tonight show band director Doc Severinson.  Not every autograph has a sentimental memory attached, but for most I can at least tell the story of how I got them. 


Feel free to share with us what motivates you to get autographs, or some of your most memorable autograph experiences.


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3 Responses to “Got autographs??…Of Course!!”

  1. Paul Says:

    I collect autographs so that I can have something that’s at least a little bit unique to remind me of a player I saw, or a player who played for my favorite team.

    I will buy and trade for autographs, and I collect autographs through the mail. However, the ones that create the strongest memories for me are the ones I get in person.

    One of my favorite memories from this season was getting to meet one-time Mets prospect Alay Soler at a Long Island Ducks game and getting him to sign a baseball card for my collection. Sure, Soler only had one good game in the majors — a one-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 — but I watched it and I was happy to get to meet Soler and tell him how much I enjoyed watching him pitch that night. The autographed card might be worth a dollar or two to another Mets fan, but I don’t really care because I have no plans to sell it.

  2. jpyne Says:

    Like you, I have hundreds and HUNDREDS of autographs. I’ve never stopped to think about why I collected ’em all. I can’t say it was the chance to meet the players. Most of them seem to range from aloof to downright tools. There’s the occasional good guy, but that’s always been the exception and not the rule. I suppose I understand why– some of those autograph seekers are pushy and irritating, and you probably build up a defense mechanism over time. I definitely don’t collect ’em for the money. I’ve never sold even one of the autographs, and probably never will. I don’t think it’s even the memento. I rarely pull my autographs out to look at them. In retrospect, it sure seemed like a pain in the ass to get all those cards signed. Especially when it was a player who would rather eat paint than sign another damn card.

    I guess would have to say that I collect autographs in order to ensure that I have at least a minimum level of Sharpie ink on my hand!

  3. zman40 Says:

    I got my first autograph from Danny Tartabull at a card show when I was eight. The best part about it was that I was waiting for my Dad to come and pick us up after the show, and Danny walked by, looked at me, and said “You be good now, you here”. That autographed card instantly became my favorite possession. That spring, I started sending for autographs through the mail and that was my main source of autographs until I found better things to do in high school. When I went to college, I started going to tons of Royals games. There, I started to get autographs again, but on baseballs. But, I got tired of getting signatures of the Tony Eusebios of MLB on a $12 ball and started focusing on getting a Royals team-signed ball. While doing this, I noticed lots of kids with these autograph books (they are like notebooks with photo corners to hold their cards while leaving ample room for them to be signed). These kids would usually get at least three cards signed from one person. Finally, I made myself one of those books, and I fell in love with card collecting again. The reason for that is so that I can try to find three cards of a player that I mihgt be able to get autographs from. Sure, not every player will sign more than one card, but a majority of them will, especially the minor leaguers.

    I probably haven’t really explained why I collect autographs. It’s just something that I’ve done, in one way of another, since I was eight. But I do know that this past year, after trying to get three cards signed per player, I have bought as many cards this year as I have in the past ten years combined. So, it has re-connected me with card collecting.

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