I’ll admit it, I’m an autograph hound. I love the “hunt” to try to collect all the autographs I need for my team. It’s taken me years of standing in line, getting pushed backwards down the stairs by an 80 year old lady, and sunburn. Was it worth it? Yes.
I have quite a few balls…(sadly 2/3 are in storage right now until we move into the new house). I have the majority of the “bigs”, Howard, Utley, Hamels, Halladay, Blanton, Lee, Worley, Brown, SCHMIDT, SANDBERG, Victorino, Dallas Green and Ruben Amaro, among others. I’m very picky and they’re all stored in UV protectant boxes all labelled the same.
This year I have the goal of getting the “final three” that I need: Pence, Rollins and Ruiz.
I came within 2 people last year of getting Rollins. Ruiz, well he really doesn’t sign unless he knows you, so I really don’t think I’ll have much of a chance. So I’m focused on Pence and Rollins. Rollins just recently got into town and hasn’t shown up at the field so I’m waiting for the official start to training.
Hunter Pence? The boy is as slippery as an eel (I mean that in a humorous way).
In this day an age, it’s extremely difficult to get that ONE you need. It’s always right place, right time. Gone are the day’s of “Fan Fest” where for a small fee where the money went to charity you could get to meet and and get the autographs of several players. I got Francisco, Kendrick and Schneider that way.
So when I heard Hunter was taking BP at Brighthouse, I was there.
There is a certain camaraderie with most of the autograph hounds. 90% of them are polite and will help you if they can. What I’m not sure that the players realize, we talk. If a player is mean, lies to kids or is generally just stuck up, it gets around. People will know. Likewise, if they are good guys, that gets around too.
The first day I tried for Hunter’s autograph, he came by near the end of BP. He was walking toward us, he picked up his equipment and started for the gate. Every was calling his name. He replied that he had to finish his running for the day (most players jog after practice to cool down). He promised to try to come back if he could.
The cynical man behind me mumbled. “Put off again. This is never going to work.” The gentleman beside me said, “Hey man, don’t say that. Back in Philly, Hunter said he had to do something and promised he’d come back. What ever it was, took about 45 minutes and everyone gave up and went home. So when he came back , no one had waited for him. If Hunter says he’ll come back, he will.”
So I waited. Unfortunately, before he came back they closed the field and we were shooed out by security.
The next day, Hunter finished for the day and started signing. I was standing in the same place all day. Right before Hunter got to me, this 70-something lady pushed next to me. What could I do? I was taught to respect my elders. In the end, Hunter quit signing….AT THE OLD LADY! I was so frustrated!
So yesterday, I got there when the gates opened…rushed down to my favorite spot and worked myself into a spot where I actually knew the people either side of me. They’re good people. The family to my left I’ve talked with for 2 years. We were in the center of the first row so no old lady was going to shove me out!
At the end of practice, here comes Hunter. He obviously recognized me as I’d been in about the same spot for 3 days…
He made a bee-line to me. I finally got his autograph!
He really was the sweetest guy. He signed quite a bit then stepped back and said, “How about signing for some more kids?” That’s what he did. He picked as many kids as he could out of the crowd and made sure he took care of them.
Now THAT’S a nice guy.
I liked the guy before, but now I really like him. He’s friendly, kind and most importantly, a real class act.
I just wish I would have “borrowed” Ross’ “Good Game, Let’s Go Eat” shirt to get signed that day. *snaps* Shucks!