brewers baseball and things

won’t you sign my blue suede shoes?

8 Comments

The autograph hound knows no rules or regulations, has no scruples  He or she bribes, manipulates, even throws elbows to Johnny Law’s noggin, anything to feed their frenzy.

They don’t bother whining nostalgic about some fairy tell yesterday that was somehow better and easier; a time when players worked for a living and signed autographs free of charge. Today’s hounds come up with new and innovative strategies. He or she may have to cut a few corners, but nothing can stop the hound.

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The David ”Price”no longer right

I was never a hard-core collector of autographs, preferring baseball cards and books as my rosebud, but I’ve learned to admire the depths fans go to complete collections of their own autograph design. I wonder how these John Hancock junkies felt about the now defunct e-graphs?

You pick a player, send a request and some cash and the player electronically autographs his picture along with a message designed by you, the fan.

Very efficient, but very lacking in back alley pursuit and all the color and clues and mistakes and ultimately tales tales and more tales that come with chasing down an autograph. Egraphs went out of business in May 2013 after a brief two-year run.

The autograph wave of the future was no more, but there will be more technologies. There always is. When radio invaded baseball, cold-blooded owners feared fans would huddle around the transistors and not come out to the ballgame. And then owners feared the boob tube would do the same and you know what? They were both wrong. Interest in baseball skyrocketed and fans flocked to even more games. They still do.

One of the more effective methods in collecting autographs I like to call the ”oh my bullseye” or OMB. It takes a minimal amount of research and/or a dig through an old drawer.

Baseball players have favorite foods, play musical instruments, read The Brothers Karamazov during rain delays. Some are royal alumni rooters to their University. Some could care less about University. An autograph hound who knows what the next hound doesn’t has the upper hand. Forces will then conspire in your favor as the player fixates on what he thinks it is…it could be, OMB Oh my bullseye, it is.

Picture 10

Jack McDowell pitched for the Chicago White Sox, won the Cy Young award in 1993. He also played in a band-Stickfigure after graduating from Stanford University where he won the NCAA championship. I knew a kid who attended Stanford at the same time as McDowell.  I slipped him five bucks before he went west and asked him to send me a Stanford baseball magazine.

I met Mr. McDowell in Sarasota, Florida at White Sox Spring Training. That Stanford baseball magazine stuck out like a two-sided sandwich board stripper. It was McDowell not me who asked the first question. The autograph became more than a drive by please and thank you.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

8 thoughts on “won’t you sign my blue suede shoes?

  1. I’ve never been much of an autograph guy, either. I’ve lost more autographs because I just chucked ’em in my top drawer in my dresser while I was growing up, and, being that I’m very disorganized, they got lost. Among others that I’ve lost (that were usually signed on crappy impromptu last-minute, ya got a piece of paper-on-ya pieces of paper) Yogi Berra, Julius Erving (He had signed it “Doctor J”), Bobby Cox (back when he was a Yankee coach), Robert Merrill (a great opera singer and, yes, the guy whose recording of the National Anthem used to be played before every game), Bob Sheppard, either Ed Kranepool or Ron Swoboda (I forget which), the Mets’ batboy (this was in 1974, or something like that), Glenn Borgmann (a catcher for the Minnesota Twins at the time, and a real surly guy, I might add), Don Carman (Phillies pitcher and a real jerk; yes, even more of a jerk than I am, Bill. I was even considering ripping up the piece of paper that had his autograph on it right after he signed it for me outside of Veterans Stadium), Gerald Govan (played for the Utah Stars in the ABA), Kevin Loughery (coach of the Nets in the ABA), Mike Gale (ABA New York Nets), Larry Kenon (New York Nets) and probably some others, but I can’t remember them at the moment, and frankly, who cares?

    What I found more interesting was interviewing them. As a young guy, I interviewed Bob Sheppard in his home (he lived in the same town as I did, and he was as great a guy as everyone says; I wrote an article for my high school newspaper based on this almost two hour conversation in Mr. Sheppard’s den) and it was just a terrific experience, and he was just so down to earth and had such class! (I wish so much that I still had the cassette tapes that I recorded the interview on).

    More than an autograph, I valued conversation. A human encounter is so much more meaningful than some cold anonymous ink on a piece of paper.

    Plus, why should I stoop to be a lowly beggar, begging for someone to put his name on a piece of paper?

    Some of these exchanges were very funny at the moment. I once vociferated down to Ron Hodges, who hardly ever played, and he was hanging around the Mets bullpen before a game in 1982. I vociferated down to him, “Are ya playin’ today, Ron?” and he looked up at me (chewing gum as usual) and deadpanned, “Nah. They’re pitchin’ a lefty!” (See, for people who don’t know the Mets of that time, he was a lefthanded hitting catcher who probably wouldn’t have started ANYWAY! So the guy had a terrific dry sense of humor.)

    And my friends and I happened to run into Joe Frazier, a Southerner just like Ron Hodges and the manager of the Mets at the time, in either 1976 or 1977, but probably 1976 (which would have made me 15 at the time) outside of Shea Stadium, and he was so nice and cool. What a great guy he was!!!! One of us teenagers (probably not me; I was much too bashful at the time; it was more likely Randy Fellows or Brian Meskil or Mike Kaplan or or some other guy) “So, what’s going wrong with the Mets lately?” See, they had lost like seven in a row, or something like that), and Frazier stood there and leveled with us in a slow Southern drawl, as if we were adults. “Yeah, I gotta talk to them boys before the game about the way they been playin’ ! They been just awful! I gotta give them boys a real yellin’ before the game, maybe whip ’em in shape!”

    I don’t remember what my friends did, but I didn’t ask for his autograph. Or maybe I did, but just inadvertently! And I lost it, if I did get his autograph. What I kept was the memory of the conversation. That’s what I valued. I valued this insight into this nice guy’s personality!

    Glen

    • Yeh, it’s always preferable to have some sort of conversation, but then again, maybe it isn’t. Depends on the person and situation and all that I guess.

  2. And I haven’t asked for an autograph since I was 17 years old; the Don Carman thing was when I was 25 or 26, and it was just a fluke. I don’t even know why I asked him for his autograph!

    Glen

  3. I like how you wrote “The autograph became more than a drive by please and thank you.” I guess you still have that conversation about the superficiality of the “drive by likers” in the back of your mind!

    Glen

    • Nah, I just wrote “drive by please and thank you” because it sounded so impressive. See, I wasn’t kidding. I can be so vain, but I have to admit that I’ve clicked on some interesting blogs because of that like button. I guess I’m superficial too.

  4. ‘a drive by please and thank you’ – nice.

    I have never collected autographs, though I did once steal a kiss from a rock star. She will have to remain nameless, but as she was a wee bit drunk at the time she probably doesn’t remember.

    A friend of mine once got Gordon the Moron to autograph his (my friend’s) shorts (while he was wearing them). That’s Gordon leaning on the lamp-post.

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