March 16, 1998
I have three dresser drawers full of autographed baseballs at home. I probably have the signature of every player that came to Candlestick since 1986. Now, before you serious collectors get all excited, I'll let you know that the signatures are all mixed up by team, by year, etc. That's because our family collects only for ourselves, not for profit. But it's still fun to brag about the autographs we have. There are two baseballs that have value to us, one monetary and one sentimental. Norm Sherry gave our daughter a ball signed by the entire team for her birthday in 1991, and Terry Kennedy signed a ball just for me the year he retired. We'll never part with them.
Let me give you some tips on how to get the autographs you want at the Park.
1. Get there early. Arrive when the gates open and stake your claim right away.
2. Go where the players are. The visiting team enters and exits through the clubhouse door in the Giants' bullpen. The Giants enter and exit through that door for batting practice; the pitchers and catchers use that door throughout the game. During batting practice, you can also catch the players around the dugouts.
3. Call the players "Mr." and say, "Please." Players hate hearing their first names shouted at them, especially by kids.
4. Don't interrupt the players if they're having a conversation with someone. They'll ignore you, and probably won't even look your way when they're done.
5. Make sure your pen is open and hold it out to the player with the point facing you. Have whatever you want signed ready. Players hate it when they're ready to give you their autograph, and they have to wait while you shuffle through a pile of cards or try to find the right magazine page.
6. Let a little kid stand in front of you. Players love to sign for little kids, the bittier the better. Chances are you'll also get your item auto- graphed, too.
7. If you're having a baseball autographed, hold it by the stitches after- ward. Ink smears, even ball point ink. Put three coats of clear shellac on it to preserve it.
8. If you plan to get only one autograph on your baseball, tell the player to sign the sweet spot. Otherwise, they always save the sweet spot for the manager. (A player who signs the sweet spot without being asked is making a statement!)
9. Don't make it obvious if you're collecting autographs for profit. The players can spot you a mile away, and usually won't sign for you.
10. Ask the rookies. They're always very flattered, and will sign for days.
11. When the ticketholder for the seat you are occupying arrives, MOVE! If you don't, you'll just get in an argument with the usher and risk getting thrown out anyway.
12. Always say, "Thank you!" to the players!!
Good luck getting those autographs this year. Maybe I'll see you, but remember, if you're in my seat, you'll have to move when I get there!!