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Baseball Analysis  Mike McCann / Minor Leagues

January 2005


By Mike McCann

Collecting autographs of baseball players has been a tradition for quite a long time. It is increasingly difficult to obtain an autograph from major league players and the minor leagues are an opportune place to do so. It's also a good pregame activity for the interested fan.

When I was younger, I used to be a more avid collector of autographed baseball cards. I would go to major league games with a stack of cards with one of each player on both teams (provided I could find a card of each player). It was very fun for me to try to get as many cards as possible signed. Now, that I'm older and taller than most of the players, I haven't been doing it as much. I still have over 300 autographed cards though.

It is getting tougher to get autographs of players for a number of reasons. With all of the new stadiums that are being built, it is more difficult for fans to get close enough to the field to be able to get a player to sign. The players seem to care less about the fans and more about how much money they are making. This is definitely not true for all players since there are many who are still willing to sign for just about anyone who asks. But there are a number of players who refuse to sign for anyone. I used to be able to go to baseball card shows and get an autograph of a current or former ballplayer for free. Today, exorbitant amounts are being charged for autographs. In January, in New York City, an event is being held where Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are signing autographs. The price to bring your own items for the players to sign for you is a mere $1050. I know that they are two of the best players, but that price is ridiculous. It definitely puts greed ahead of any possible sentimental value the item may have.

Minor league games are definitely better for getting players autographs. Many of the players have not had their minds poisoned by the major league experience and still care about talking with and signing for the fans. The players appear more friendly and willing to sign autographs.

If you are interested in increasing your autograph collection, I have some tips. Getting to the game as early as possible, like when the gates open, is very helpful in getting autographs. You have the most time to try to get the autographs and many times batting practice is occurring when gates open and you can meet some players as they are going to and from the dugout. This also helps with another collection I have, official league baseballs. Also, it is better to try to get autographs from the visiting team as there are usually fewer people asking those players for autographs. If you are really ambitious and follow your favorite team to road games, this should help you.

Players are willing to sign just about anything, but I'd recommend something like the player's card, a baseball, a program, or something similar. Many minor league teams even have booths with autograph signings before select games, so that's a very easy way to get some autographs.

Now that I am more interested in collecting baseball stadiums (by visiting them) than collecting baseball cards, I don't partake in autographs so much. What I will do though is bring cards of the managers and coaches who used to play in the majors and try to get those autographed. I'm not collecting them for the monetary value, but more for the tradition of getting a baseball player's autograph. I'm probably one of the few people who was excited by going to a Frederick Keys game and getting autographs of their manager, Tom Lawless, and pitching coach, Scott McGregor.

Today many people are trying to get the autographs of the top prospects. These autographs could be worth something someday, so you'll see more people going after certain players. Major league rehab assignments also bring out crowds of people not only to see a player, but to get their autograph since they normally wouldn't be able to at a baseball game.

I hope that you find some of this information interesting and useful. And if you see some guy with a handful cards asking the manager or coaches for their autographs, be sure to stop and say hi to me.

I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an e-mail and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.

I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an e-mail and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.

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