Although the text of this book is intended to provide the information necessary to obtain autographs through the mail, there are other ways to obtain autographs of ballplayers. There are basically two general categories by which you can obtain an autograph -- firsthand or directly, where you actually watch the ballplayer affix his signature, and secondhand or indirectly, where you are not present at the time the ballplayer signs the autograph. As autograph collectors place such a high concern on authenticity, obtaining autographs firsthand is preferential. Practically speaking, some autographs are impossible to obtain firsthand, while many others are near impossible or at best very difficult to obtain firsthand; hence, most collectors obtain a considerable portion of their collections via the indirect method.
Obtaining Autographs Firsthand
The most obvious place to obtain a ballplayer's autograph is at the ballpark. The traditional crowd around the clubhouse awaiting the departure of their favorite players after the game, pens and papers in hand, is still perhaps the most viable means to obtain autographs, Many clubs provide special nights at the ballpark where, before the game, fans are encouraged to chat, photograph and obtain autographs from the local team members who are available for these activities for the time periods specified.
Local merchants sometimes sponsor promotional activities at their establishments and feature a ballplayer as the guest celebrity. The ballplayer is normally available to sign autographs, and the merchants might well provide a medium (photo, postcard, etc.) for obtaining the autograph.
Other opportunities arise at hotels, airports, celebrity dinners or other public places where a ballplayer might chance to be during the course of his normal routine. However, I must emphasize again the necessity for patience and politeness when requesting an autograph in person from a ballplayer. Quite often, time may allow only a few or no signatures to be signed before the ballplayer's schedule requires him to halt the autograph activities.
More and more over the past few years, the many sports collectibles conventions and shows held across the country have been featuring guest baseball players. These shows provide excellent opportunities for obtaining autographs from some of the most popular ballplayers.
Each year the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, holds induction ceremonies for newly elected members. Not only do the newly elected members attend, but also many of the members who have been previously elected are in attendance. There is probably no other time or place during the year when one can obtain, in person, as many living HOFer autographs as on induction day in Cooperstown.
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From The Baseball Autograph Collector's Handbook by Jack Smalling.
Copyright © 1999 by R.J. Smalling. Reprinted with permission.