Friday, July 27, 2012

Random Ponderings of the Collector's Mind

One of the main questions on many people's mind when I tell them that one of my hobbies is collecting sports memorabilia is why on earth I would want someone's signature.  The plain truth of the matter is, I really don't know other than to me it's pretty awesome to have as big a collection as I do, filled with all types of stories regarding how I obtain certain items.  The interaction you have with the some of the best players in their respective sports is something you take with you, as opposed to say only a baseball with a guy's signature on it.  In other words, it's about the story behind it as much as it is about the item itself.  For example, this past April I attended a signing show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, where I got to meet all types of Hall of Famers (Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Chris Mullin, etc.).  While getting Fisk to sign a ball I happened to be wearing a Los Angeles Kings hat, which happens to be my all time favorite team.  This sports collectors show was going on right at the beginning of the NHL playoffs, so the Kings had just played the previous night.  While getting Mr. Fisk's autograph, he noticed my hat and started talking hockey with me.  He talked for a good minute or two about the Kings' chances as he had watched their first two playoff games of that series.  After I got my baseball signed and thanked him, I walked away wondering if I had really just had a full on conversation about hockey and my team, the Kings, with Carlton Fisk.  To me, that's a damn cool thing.  Here is the ball he signed....

My all time favorite Padre is Mr. Padre himself, Tony Gwynn.  As anyone who has met him can attest, he is one of if not the most fan friendly players in any sport.  For those of you in Southern California, here is a small tip.  Tony signs three or four times a year for free at El Cajon Ford.  He has done this for years and if you are a collector, a Gwynn fan, or just a fan of baseball, I'd highly recommend going down there to meet him and take a picture with him or get something signed.  The El Cajon Ford website is the place to check when his next appearance might be, as are any Padres blogs and the website I mentioned last time signingshotline.com.  Here is my favorite item I have had Tony sign for me...

My next planned day to try and get autographs from a team will be next Friday the 3rd of August, when I'm going to try and get the New York Mets coming into the ballpark at Petco Park before the game like I did so successfully for the the Rockies.  I figure since it worked so well that time, I may as well give it a go again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Ponderings of the Collector's Mind

I suppose I should preface this post with the admission that unlike many of the "hardcore" autograph hounds, I really only try to collect maybe once every two weeks during the baseball season.  I realize that many people go pregame, to batting practice, and post game for every single home game of the season.  Frankly, I have neither the time nor patience to try that often, so I try to cherry pick certain teams and/or players.  As such, there will be gaps in between my posts that I am going to try and fill with my opinions on the hobby. 

The first pet peeve I have is with the grown men that get all bent out of shape when kids "get in the way" of them obtaining a player's autograph.  This happened just the other day at the Astros game I mentioned in my last post when kids kept throwing stuff down from above the dugout for JD Martinez to sign, and he politely requested that they make eye contact first.  Kids being kids, they didn't heed JD's request and he ended up leaving after only signing for a few people.  This prompted one grown man to go off and start complaining about "stupid kids" to no one in particular.  He wasn't yelling at them so much as just yelling so all could hear.  To me, this is absolutely asinine.  First of all, the reason that a vast majority of players decide to sign in the first place is because kids are present.  I realized long ago that when kids are around, your chances of getting a player to come over and sign something multiply exponentially.  So you should welcome it not dread it.  Second, when players realize that you are allowing the kids to get their signatures first, that player is much more likely to get to your item when he can instead of bypassing you completely.  Of course, sometimes players just don't feel like signing for adults and when you do this as a  hobby you have to learn real quick to get over that.  Here is one such autograph I got from practicing what I just preached...
That is an Albert Pujols signed ball, which he signed for me about five years ago after he hit his BP session prior to a game at Petco Park.  He had walked over to the gap between the dugout and some seats on the field level, and starting signing.  The mass of humanity inevitably started pushing forward, and two kids around six or seven years old got pushed up against the railing.  I told the people swamping us that they were smashing kids and to back off, which they did.  Pujols, hearing this, walked over and signed for the two kids first so they could get the heck out of there.  He then proceeded to sign two baseballs for me.  I realize that they weren't on the coveted sweet spot but believe me, I did not care.  Pujols never signs on the sweet spot except for in paid signings, so I was ecstatic with what I got.  Helping the younger crowd definitely paid off in this instance. 

Also, here is a good tip for the day.  Most people who are into the autographed memorabilia hobby already know about this site, but for those who don't I implore you to check out signingshotline.com.  This has been an invaluable tool for me with the wide wealth of information on different players signings it gives.  For example, through this website I learned that Dennis Rodman was doing a paid signing at OC Sports Cards in Anaheim Hills.  For signings in your area, both free and paid, this is the best tool there is. 
Until next time...

Colorado Rockies pregame @Petco Park 7/20/2012

As an aside, let me first say that this was the first attempt my friend Lawrence and I have made to get autographs prior to BP at a Padres game at Petco Park.  We have been collecting autographs at Petco Park both during BP and post games since Petco's inception in 2004.  After trying our luck against the Astros both during BP and post game on 7/16/12 and coming away with only a Bud Norris signed Topps 2012 card, we decided to get the Rockies coming into the ballpark for the first game of a weekend series.  We had been given the good tip by fellow collectors, and it proved a lucrative decision.

We arrived at approx. 12:15, and waited on the corner across from the Omni Hotel, adjacent to Petco Park, and right up against the parking structue, which enabled us to have a view of any player/coach coming from any one of three ways.  The first player we spotted was Jeremy Guthrie, who oddly enough had been traded the night before to the KC Royals and was cleaning out his locker.  Jeremy was a nice guy and signed despited being on the phone.  He signed my 2012 Topps card.   
The first person to have Jeremy sign gave him a red Sharpie, which he signed everyone's items with.  Even though most autograph seekers prefer the blue, black, or silver, I believe that in this hobby you be happy with what you get.  A few more players walked in and signed over the next half hour, but they were not players I had anything for, which tends to happen when a team has a lot of call ups and injuries.  Carlos Gonzalez pulled up in a cab, and signed for everyone waiting, which at this point was around ten to twelve people.  This was the main guy we wanted, and he signed a Rawlings Official Major League Baseball on the sweet spot for me.
Later on I saw Carney Lansford walking in, and asked him to sign a ROMLB on the sweet spot for me, as did Vinny Castilla, who has been assisting the Rockies as a consultant. Needless to say it was a surprise to see him there with someone I believe was his son. 
Closer to three in the afternoon, both Rex Brothers and Jordan Pacheco walked in together, and both were kind enough to sign the Topps 2012 cards I had for them.  In Pacheco's case, it was his Topps rookie card.
 Finally, in a group of three players, I tried to get Eric Young Jr to sign his Topps 2012 card for me, which he did.  I did not have the cards of the other two players in his group, and didn't really want to use a ball on them either.

Lawrence and I received a tip from some of the other guys standing out there that Jason Giambi rides the bus to the ballpark every game, and that he signs multiple items for each collector if you wait for him out there.  At this point though, we'd been out there for three and a half hours so we decided to call it a day.  All in all about 17-20 members of the Rockies organization signed while we were there, which is an astoundingly high success rate.  In addition to the players I mentioned and got autographs from, I'd like to thank Wilin Rosario, Matt Belisle, Dexter Fowler, Jeff Francis, Jim Tracy, and Tyler Colvin among others, who all took some time out of their day to sign for fans.  It was a great day for collecting, and it was helped by a class team.