Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Old Times Autograph Seeking

When I was young, autograph collecting wasn't nearly as big as it is today. Autograph collecting was more child's play before and after baseball games.
The scorebook was the object of choice to be signed. Kids didn't carry around baseball cards, baseballs or mini-helmets. You bought a scorebook for a buck or two and then you either begged for autographs during batting practice or by the players' parking lot after the game.
In 1978, I went to see the Oakland A's play the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. I hung out near the bullpen areas down both lines.
I hit paydirt, as 4 players signed my scorebook. From the White Sox, I got Lerrin LaGrow, Alan Bannister and Ron Schueler. From the A's, I landed Steve Staggs.
None of these players were stars, but I wasn't thinking of resale value. I was just ecstatic that 4 major league baseball players signed my scorebook.
My day wasn't over, however. When we went back to our seats, we found that we were sitting near the owner of the A's, Charles O. Finley. Today, that would be unthinkable, as any owner would certainly be sitting in the comfort of his own luxury suite high above the field. I approached Finley and he graciously added his signature to my page. That made 5.
It's funny now to think that Finley's autograph is worth more than the other four. Finley was an innovator and a great contributor to baseball. Back then, I just wanted to get autographs of anyone involved in baseball.
I went home very happy. I had gotten 5 signatures in one day. Obviously, I still have that page and the memories of the chase. These were great times.


MMayes said...

Yes, I remember this kind of autograph seeking very well. My first autograph was on a scorebook at the old KC Municipal Stadium in late 1971...Jim Wohlford. Later, I remember getting Freddie Patek and Cookie Rojas on a ball when the new stadium opened in 1973.

Johngy said...

We didn't care about resale value or about keeping certain autographs with others. We just were happy that a ballplayer signed our stuff. I once had a Billy Williams signed ball and I got Tom Bradley on it. Of course, some would now say that it ruined the value. To me, as a kid, I had just doubled my collection!
Wohlford, Rojas and Patek are great Royals names. During a rain delay at Comiskey around 1973, I met Buck Martinez and Paul Splittorff in the concourse area (like that would happen today).