Curious to know what the feelings are of collectors on obtaining autographs. Are autographs on things like programs, scorecards, or balls obtained a games more valuable than the glossy photos, cards, ball, bat, etc. signed at a show or event? As a kid I got my fair share of autographs at the game, getting there early during warm ups and BP. I also got some autographs at some planned events. Growing up back in the 1970s and 80s, there weren’t really many “card shows” or memorabilia events in suburbs. Occasionally a local sports equipment store or the local mall would have something. Other times there might be charity event at the golf course. But your best means for getting an autograph back in the day was at the ballpark.

For me, and I’m sure many others of that era, autographs obtained at the ballpark was a far greater experience. True, autographs at the game were not of greatest quality, especially when getting them on the fly, but still collecting signatures on the ball, or getting a player to sign just after he stepped out the batter’s box after BP was immensely special.

I remember waiting in line for hours to get a Jim Rice autograph at a local mall back in 1981 or 82. They had standard B&W studio photos (not even card stock) and Jim signed everyone exactly the same, slow hand, clean, and in same spot every time. You literally could not tell the difference between mine and my friends autograph who was behind me in line. I think it cost $20 back then. I have a collection of yearbooks, programs, and even a notepad that I had guys sign at the game when I was a kid. I also have a handful of Red Sox autographs I got at local events. I have never bought an autograph to this day. I obtained them personally and directly from the player. Although I will say i have not gotten a new autograph in about 20 years.

My most special are two autographs I got directly from Warren Spahn. He was a traveling pitching instructor for the Angels in the early 80s and game to a minor league team in my area. I had a game ball I got from the previous night, as well as a color photo I pulled out of a Sports Encyclopedia book I had. It was a great action photo of him with the Milwaukee Braves. I vividly recall how surprised he was to see the photo, saying he had never seen that one before. He signed in a blue ballpoint pen (no sharpie) while standing next to the dugout. I have it framed in the living room, along with the ball. It was a great experience for me.

It's a whole different world now. People (not even fans) pursuing players for autographs on just about anything only for the purpose of selling. You see hordes of hired people push and shove to get a player to sign. Spring Training is completely chaos, professional autograph seekers, with the backing of memorabilia plan these events so strategically, you think they were planning a back robbery. I feel bad for the you "true" fans, who get jostled around when they are just trying to get something signed from a favorite player. Times have certainly changed, it's all about making money now. Unfortunately many of the players have also been affected with the disease.