If you listen closely you can faintly hear the sound of fastballs popping leather as they hit the catcher’s mitt. Perhaps even more exciting is the crack of the bat that will soon echo out from Arizona to Florida as MLB teams start to report to Spring Training. Baseball is back and that means a favorite pastime for autograph collectors is back as well as they try and seek out their favorite players and names on their “Want List” at the ballpark.
Any “Grapher” knows that the type of player access that is afforded to fans at Spring Training is second to none. Rookies, veterans, and prospects alike are all within arm’s reach and are generally happy to sign for those in attendance. With that being said there are a there are some key factors that come into play here that will help one achieve their graphing goals.
Act Like You Have Been There Before:
It may be a football reference, but it works here. Every time Lions running back Barry Sanders scored a touchdown, 99 total on his career, he simply handed the ball to the referee as he crossed the goal line. There was never a dancing celebration, a cell phone, or popcorn, he simply handed the ball over and headed back to his sideline. The same concept works when seeking out signatures at Spring Training. Be polite, kind, and respectful and that will go a long way with the potential signer.
Oh, Say Can You See, That Now is Not the Time:
Just like the aforementioned issue of respect, timing is also crucially important to your Spring Training autograph endeavor. Simply put, you need to be aware of your surroundings and what is happening at that moment. If you see players hustling to the field it’s most likely they need to get there in a hurry. So when they scurry past you it’s not because they didn’t want to sign for you rather they’re on a schedule.
Another prime example here is just before the game starts. There is so much going on in those moments that a player really shouldn’t have a ball shoved in his face from an eager fan requesting a signature. From the National Anthem to lineup changes and everything in between, the last thing Joe Ballplayer wants or needs is more distractions. Some of these guys are literally playing for their careers and their focus shouldn’t be on you.
Be On Your “A” Game:
While the first two points were matters of respect, my third point is a matter of preparation. You need to have everything in place and ready to go. There is no need to make the player work. If you are using a ball for signatures, then you need a ballpoint pen ready to go, if you are looking to get a card signed a sharpie is most likely your best bet. The point is here is that when it’s your turn to “step up to the plate” you can’t be fumbling around looking for your materials.
How Many Do You Need:
Finally, don’t be “That Guy”, and we all know who he is. Do you really need 24 baseball, 15 cards, a hat, 2 gloves, and 3 bats signed for your collection? Really? This may be a once in a lifetime experience for some fans so your selfishness should take a backseat to their experience. There is no reason to ever be “That Guy” but especially here. A new season is dawning. There is hope in the air for all 30 teams, so let’s enjoy that first. There is no need to ruin everyone else’s experience because you couldn’t get all 45 of your items signed.
I realize all of that may seem a little simplistic, however, it never ceases to amaze me what you will see from the hordes of people looking to get their signatures. There is almost an art to this but the same rules apply whether you are enjoying the Cactus or Grapefruit League. Good luck!