I’m going to be honest. I collect a ton of stuff, but autographs are not on the list. I see the autograph hounds in Spring Training every year and I kind of get a dirty feeling just looking at them, as these grown men are slobbering all over these ball players for their signature. Pushing down small kids to catch their 40th foul ball of the day on the backfields. 5 Baseball card albums filled to the brim with cards. I will never be that guy. If you are that guy, please stop.
That’s not to say I don’t have any autographs though. There are certain situations where I don’t feel like a slime ball and might ask a player to sign something. I have a bunch of Tony Gwynn autographs that I got when I was a kid mainly because I just wanted to go and see my favorite player and have a conversation with him (which he always did, despite sometimes the lines being rather long). I also have a Will Venable autographed ball that my sister got for me at a silent auction for my birthday 2 years ago. I will cherish that ball forever. I also got a Rollie Fingers autograph at FanFest a few years back (2010?) because he’s a legend. Then I have my pride and joy. The Padres retired numbers ball.
I came up with the idea one day to collect autographs from every Padre who has had his number retired by the team on one baseball. As you now know, the situation has to be right for me to get the autograph, so this process has taken a while. The first autograph I got was of Tony Gwynn at El Cajon Ford and was pre-surgery. Tony chatted with each person, laughed his usual Tony laugh and posed for pictures for everyone. Nice as nice can be.
The next autograph I got was from the ‘ol crafty lefty himself Randy Jones. I got him to sign the ball at FanFest the year RJ’s Fro had a table set up (2011). Another one of the nicest guys in the world. I told him my idea and he laughed at me. He laughs at my ideas a lot.
For the 2012 FanFest they had a Twitter scavenger hunt where a select few earned an autograph from Trevor Hoffman. I was one of those few thanks to being next to Geoff Young when the questions were fired off. Who needs Baseball Reference when you have GY at your side? We rushed over there, earned a ticket and then just as we had to start waiting in line, I got a call saying I had to meet Tom Garfinkel in the dungeons of Petco Park for the Padres and Pints shoot. GY was gracious enough to get the ball signed for me though and keep the (metaphorical) ball rolling.
I had a chance to get Steve Garvey’s signature here in San Diego a while ago. I forget the location (Sports Arena area I believe) but I planned to go, slept in and then totally forgot about it when I woke up. I’m kicking myself now but hopefully I get another chance soon for him.
The other night I got the chance to see the new Jackie Robinson movie 42 (which was great by the way). Dave Winfield was the host and I brought the ball, just in case. I sat all the way in the back so I was one of the last to leave. As the crowd left, Dave shook everyones hand and posed for a few pictures. I commend him because it was literally like a sauna in that theatre, which is odd because they are normally like an ice box. I didn’t see any autographs at first but once the theatre started to thin out some people worked up the courage to ask and he obliged. Finally it was my turn to leave so I asked and he said yes. I got a kick out of him turning the ball to the sweet spot only to find another Hall of Famer who had already taken that spot. Sorry Dave.
All that remains is the Garv and I want to get the Col. Jerry Coleman as well. That is until the Padres decide to retire the next number, whoever, or whenever that might be.