If you are a collector of autographs, nobody needs to tell you that today's industry is much more competitive. Seeking autographs from athletes 20 plus years ago was surely an easier task than it has been the past decade or so. With athletes charging enormous sitting fees for shows, autographs for the "Average Joe" are getting harder to acquire. Why would a multi-millionaire, bachelor stud like Jeter take a day out of his schedule to sign autographs for 200 overweight men? Sponsors would have to make it "worth his while" to do so. Hence, players may command upwards of $100,000 to do a 2 hour signing. And tracking down A-list players or sending the SASE to the clubhouse in hopes of a return may prove futile. Yet some of the "stand up" A-lister's still take time to sign for the kids. Josh Hamilton is known among young fans to be extremely interactive and fun.
I recently spoke with a woman from Dallas who had mentioned her son is a huge Hamilton fan. Last year at a game in Arlington, the mother and 7-year old had seats behind the first base dugout. She said Josh Hamilton responded to her son calling out Hamilton's name while he was at first base. Hamilton would give "thumbs-up" to the 7-year old and eventually had a security guard walk over to the family and get their address. Two weeks later, the boy received an 8 X 10 personalized autographed photo in the mail. My first contact with a player was not as pleasant.
Sometime in the summer of 1986, a buddy and me were out at Lincoln Park Zoo. I mentioned to him that I saw someone who resembled Don Mattingly and was toying with the idea of approaching him. I then remembered that the Yanks were in town that weekend playing the White Sox. It was also at that point I remembered I had wore my Yankees hat. How perfect! As a 11 year-old kid with a Yankees hat on, I didn't even think twice about it. Mattingly, however did. I just remember him not looking at me and the words "not today" coming from just under the signature "stache." If "not today", "when"? His gorgeous wife just wanted to pacify me as she told Mattingly to cough up the signature. She even pulled a pen from her purse and The Don obliged. Like my Mattingly Topp's rookie card, I have no idea where that hat is today.