Meeting athletes

I’ve never been a fan of stalking athletes outside of the stadium, or mailing stuff to the spring training asking for an autograph. There’s just too much to keep track of which players sign when, where, how many, etc. Players are people too. They may have a bad day, or have other concerns on their mind, or a whole host of issues when an auto hound asks for their time. I guess I’m much more passive and would rather catch them at signing events. That said, I’ve only had some minor successes at the stadium.

My first success was in 1999 at the Metrodome after a July game. My uncle suggested we wait outside the player exit where he had his best successes. Shortly after the game, relief pitching rookie Joe Mays came out and stayed. He must have chatting with everyone, signing everything anyone had, multiple items included. A trooper! Two years later Twins fans would cheer him on to 17 wins as a starter. Injuries derailed his career, but he helped fuel my love of baseball and the Twins. I’d later add another Joe Mays autographed card via trade.

Another time, I happened to catch one of the voices of the upper mid-west. After another blowout, in a scene straight from the movies, I happened to run into Herb Carneal of WCCO fame. A Twins area legend, having broadcast their games from 1962 until his unfortunate death on April 1st, 2007. Many older(slightly, or ancient 😛 ) fans will remember him for his game calls, but I’ll remember him for the brief moment we shared. In a slight misting, underneath a light post awaiting a cab/ride Mr. Carneal had already entertained several guests. Not one to be left out, I guickly beat feet to ask for a signature. Without even blinking, he reached out for my ball, asked what I thought of the game, and returned it. Ink added! We talked for what seemed like hours(probably no more than a minute), and being the timid and a true introvert type, I sensed it was probably time to leave the elder radio announcer to his waiting for a ride. Who knows, maybe I brought a fun breakup from a rather dull stand-by…

While I’m mostly a Twins fan, I did attend a few Vikings games when we lived in New Orleans. One time in particular we went to a game with one of my dad’s co-workers who normally provided event security. Once the game ended(Vikings won), he suggested a route to exit where the team buses normally are located. Most players ignored us, but star QB Daunte Culpepper stopped to sign for a few of us, myself included. Photo above. Right before the bus pulled off, the door swung open and this big, tall man stood before me. He stuck his huge hand out and grabbed my ball, signed it and handed it back before getting back on the bus and leaving. So that’s how I got our head coach at the time, Mike Tice’s autograph. He signed right on the logo, but it still counts!

There’s definitely a finesse to getting autographs from players, whether in person or through the mail. I’m grateful each time I’m successful, but I’ll leave the hounding to the pros.

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