Thursday, July 22, 2010

Autograph Collecting 101

It never ceases to amaze me that fans come to the ballpark expecting to get autographs... yet are not prepared to have the players sign for them. Usually these are the "go to the ball park twice a year for a company picnic" types that could care less about the game or players. They see people getting autographs and want to capitolize on the opportunity. Having collected in-person baseball player and celiberties autographs for over 30 years, here are some simple manners and methods to follow:

Autograph Collecting Basic Rules - The Top 5

1. Bring your own sharpie markers and pens. Players DO NOT carry them, and fellow autograph hounds are under NO obligation to share their writting instruments with you. They are not going to share with you if it even comes close to them missing an autograph opportunity of their own since players often come around in groups of 3 or 4 to sign for fans. Get cards, hats, equipment, and photos signed in blue (prefered) sharpie, get baseballs signed with either good blue or black ball point ink pen. Team Fan Shops are usually great at keeping all of these in stock if you forgot to bring some with you - GO BUY YOUR OWN.

2. Bring your own item(s) to be signed. Do NOT expect people to share their baseball cards, previous game foul balls, score book pages, etc. Purchase a new offical Major League baseball or a game day program book for a good medium to collect signatures on if nothing else. Be prepared - period !

3. Be kind and polite to your fellow autograph hounds. Don't rush the rail, push or shove, or crowd others when a player approaches to sign. Likely as not, you will get your turn to get your item(s) signed just like everyone else. A little courtesy goes a long ways and is appreciated. Competition often ensues in these situations, especially close to game time, but I have found time and again patience has it's rewards :)

4. Always thank the player for taking the time to sign for you. They are doing you a favor - never forget that or take it for granted. By the same token, do not be disappointed if a player makes an excuse or refuses to sign for you. It is their right, and they might be having a "really bad day" you do not know about. Just assume a "get them next time" attitude.

5. Make sure to bring something to protect your newly acquired autographs until you can get them home. Common sense will save you the heart break of a smeared or ruined signature later. Use a zip-lock sandwich bag to protect your baseball from the weather and drinks now covered with autographs. Gallon size zip-lock bags will usually be big enough to hold the afore mentioned game day program. Bring and use a large lined envelope or top-loader to protect that 8 x 10 pitchers color photo you took and developed. Card collectors know to carefully place the autographed cards in snap cases, or leave them mounted on the pages as is until they get home depending on the weather and their personal collecting habits.

These are the basics of collecting in-person baseball player autographs. Will get into more specifics and advice in future posts. Your comments are welcome... feel free to leave yours by clicking on the orange "comments" link below - bat

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