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Monday, November 26, 2012

Joura: Orel Hershiser and Bob Gibson: Opposite ends of the autograph spectrum

Bob Gibson…more Eastwood than Hartung.

The final nail in the coffin came several years later. The team’s program at this time contained a very nice picture of manager Joe Torre and coach Bob Gibson. Two former teammates were going to help turn things around as coaches of a particularly decrepit team. If memory serves, Gibson was not officially the pitching coach for Torre. Rather he was listed as the attitude coach. And as I can attest, Mr. Gibson certainly had an attitude.

I got Torre to sign my program before the game but Gibson would not come anywhere near the horde of us yelling for him. Undeterred, I stayed after the game, convinced that I could get Gibson’s autograph. There weren’t nearly as many people then and I was sure that once he saw that I was a diehard that he would be glad to oblige.

Back then, only a handful of people would stay after a game trying to catch signatures and you could stake out your own territory, at least until the point when you convinced someone to come over, at which point a crowd would develop. So, I had my space and continued the game.

I did succeed in getting Gibson’s attention and I even got a reaction. However, it was not a smile and an outstretched hand to take my pen. Rather it was a terse invitation to perform an impossible solo sexual act.

You could say I was surprised. If in the afterlife we get the chance to review moments of our just-completed life, I no doubt will go to this time to see if I cried or not. While I certainly heard the phrase before, I never heard it uttered by a grown man towards me. I’ve never asked anyone for an autograph since.

Repoz Posted: November 26, 2012 at 06:39 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4309629)
I've only ever asked for one autograph in my entire life. Little Caesar's Pizza, Westland, Michigan. I was 11. It's now framed and on my wall.

He was the reason I became a baseball fan in the first place. And now he's gone.
   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4309632)
RMc - Who did you get? I'm guessing Harwell.
   3. BDC Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4309655)
Larry Hagman?
   4. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4309683)
Hopefully it's someone completely unexpected, like Lech Walesa.
   5. McCoy Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4309694)
I've asked a grand total of one person for an autograph. I think he was a marine or an army officer and he was visiting my school after Desert Storm. My mom collected those Desert Storm trading cards from Topps at the time and she wanted an autograph from the guy so she told me to get it. I felt pretty stupid doing it, had no real desire to ever ask anyone for an autograph before that event and haven't felt the desire since then either.
   6. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4309700)
When I was a kid I loved getting autographs from ballplayers. I still have many autographed baseball cards from mediocre Phillies players from 1986-88. As I got older, I saw less and less value in a man's actual signature so these days a handshake and the memory is sufficient.
   7. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4309719)
I don't remember hearing anything before about Hershiser having anything to do with teaching Dickey the knuckleball. Can anyone confirm/deny that?

I've been a diehard baseball fan since I was six--it was Hershiser's magical fall of '88 that got me started, actually--and I've never asked for an autograph in my life and never been tempted to. Even as a kid it seemed tacky to me, plus I've always had a certain instinctive need to avoid what everyone else is doing.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4309724)
Hopefully it's someone completely unexpected, like Lech Walesa.


My first autograph was a random guy in a men's clothing store, who resembled Pete Rose as long as you ignored the fact that he was about five feet tall.

Of course, I once had a drunk guy come up to me on the street and very enthusiastically tell me that he voted for me, so I guess I've been on both sides of that one.
   9. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4309734)
As a kid, I got a fair number of autographs of players young & old, obscure & famous, by writing them & enclosing index cards & SASEs. Only time I ever sought them in person, though, was while attending a Shreveport Captains game circa '71 while perched behind the home dugout. Got 8 or 9, but only a couple reached the majors for cups of coffee.

Well, & Dave Bing after he spoke at some sort of black businessman's luncheon here in Montgomery in the fall of 2002. He was one of my favorite NBA players when I was a distinctly ABA-leaning fan as a kid.

   10. Elvis Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4309739)
"In 2005, at the age of 30, Dickey’s career was stalled until his manager with Texas, Buck Showalter, and pitching coach Orel Hershiser persuaded him to give the knuckleball a try — Dickey had been throwing one since he was a kid, goofing around with a friend."

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/07/06/r-a-dickeys-wild-journey-to-master-pitcher-goes-well-beyond-the-perfect-knuckleball/
   11. salvomania Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4309754)
True story: One late morning I was walking east down Addison Ave toward my buddies' apartment off of Halsted, and as I was passing Wrigley Field, I noticed a gentleman walking towards me wearing a long olive trench coat and smoking a long cigar.

Once he got closer, I realized it was Joe Torre (at that time the Cardinals' manager) and, as a ridiculous coincidence, I happened to be carrying a paper bag containing a plastic plate from a fourth-grade art project (20 years earlier) that was imprinted with a drawing I made of my favorite player at that time---Joe Torre. (I had recently found it when my parents were selling their house and I cleared out some old belongings; I mentioned the plate to my friends, who were Cubs fans, and I decided to bring it over to their apartment for "show and tell").

I remember walking up to Torre, and actually saying to him, "You're not going to believe what I have in this bag." I pulled out the plate, and started to tell him about the fourth-grade art project, and he looks at me and asks, "You're giving me the plate?" And I said no, I just happened to be walking by on my way to my friends' place, and then he pulls out a blue Sharpie, which he just happened to be carrying, and offers to sign the plate. Which he did.

I still have the plate. I now keep it in a large plastic Ziploc bag because over the years the blue ink has faded and turned gray, due, I imagine, to exposure to the air. And there's a sort of crazy twist to the story that occurs a couple years later, which I'll relate if anyone's interested.

   12. GregD Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4309758)
If you carrying a 20-year-old plastic plate with Joe Torre's drawing on it as you pass Joe Toree isn't the crazy twist to the story, then I am all ears.
   13. djordan Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4309764)
@ Salvo - totally want to hear Part 2. In terms of autographs, I used to collect them somewhat. Visited Cooperstown a few years back and to me, if I was never going to "sell" the autograph, then a picture with the player would be much, much more valuable. I think some of the autograph agent companies are getting wise to this sentiment; some are now actually selling "photo ops." Sad, really.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4309765)
And there's a sort of crazy twist to the story that occurs a couple years later, which I'll relate if anyone's interested.


Does it involve Lech Walesa?
   15. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4309772)
I did succeed in getting Gibson’s attention and I even got a reaction. However, it was not a smile and an outstretched hand to take my pen. Rather it was a terse invitation to perform an impossible solo sexual act.

Ridiculous. How can a person catch their own feces in their mouth without first getting the key to the shackles?
   16. BDC Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4309773)
there's a sort of crazy twist to the story

I assume it involves Derek Jeter passing you in the street and pulling out a fourth-grade plate with a picture of you.
   17. Random Transaction Generator Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4309781)
Does it involve Lech Walesa?


I'm busy cleaning my monitor now
   18. Random Transaction Generator Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4309784)
The only times I've ever gotten autographs were when they were sent to me as an afterthought.

My friend was a big time hockey fan, and his two favourite players were Rick Middleton and Frank Pietrangelo.
I sent off autograph requests to those gentlemen about 3 months before my friend's 16th birthday, with letters that explained what the autographs were for.

About 2 months later, both men had sent me two signed photos each. Each of them had written a quick personalized happy birthday note to my friend on one of their photos, and then simply signed the second photo. I kept the second signed photos for myself, but have long since lost them in multiple moves.



   19. salvomania Posted: November 26, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4309789)
If you carrying a 20-year-old plastic plate with Joe Torre's drawing on it as you pass Joe Toree isn't the crazy twist to the story, then I am all ears.


You're right, I guess that first part is crazier than my so-called crazy twist.

So a couple years later, I get this package in the mail from a friend who lives in a small town in the Green Mountains in Vermont. I open it up, and it's a VHS tape in a plain VHS box, no label, nothing. I put it in my player and start to watch it, and it's just random video of this guy and another friend driving around the mountains, walking around his property, etc., and then after awhile they settle into his living room and start to talk about Joe Torre, and my unhealthy obsession with him, and then the video pans to a TV screen with a close-up video image of Joe Torre.

Suddenly, the video I'm watching switches to a field-level view of Busch Stadium, with a bunch of ballplayers (Brian Jordan, etc.) laying around stretching before a game, and then a baseball rolls right up to the camera lens, at first out of focus because it's so close, and then the ball comes sharply into focus so that you can see the texture of the hide.

Then the video switches again, this time, to Joe Torre, standing in front of the camera in uniform, hat on, and he says, "Dave, I just want to take this time---I know it's been a couple years since I signed that plate for you---I really appreciate it, especially at my age now, that people still remember me playing, and I really appreciate the thought to make that plate, and I'm glad I signed it for you, and maybe we can get together down the road. Thank you, and good luck."

And then the video ends.

Now whenever friends drop by who might be baseball fans---or even who know who Joe Torre is---I like to show them the signed plate, and tell them the story, and then blow their minds by showing them the video (which I recently had transferred to DVD).
   20. djordan Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4309794)
THAT is a great story, Salvo.
   21. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4309799)
Great story!

The only athlete I've been close enough to get an autograph from, being totally uninterested in autographs, was Bill Wennington, who ran a basketball camp near my hometown. My dad kept making fun of him though, so even if I wanted autographs I wouldn't have thought to ask him.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4309805)
That's fantastic salvo.

   23. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4309813)
Joe Torre was one of the then-active players whose autographs I got through the mail back in '71 or so. If that instance has ever been referred to on VHS or any other visual medium, I'm unaware of it.

The injustice!
   24. salvomania Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4309816)
The buddy who sent the video is a long-time ESPN cameraman and works the Sunday night MLB games (he operates one of the dugout cameras), and he asked Joe Torre (who is, by all accounts, a super nice guy) if he'd pass along a message to the guy who made that plate.

The friend has a lot of great stories about both athletes and media creatures, and at one time he had an amazing compilation that circulated among the cameramen brethren of unbelievable, over-the-top goings-on at sporting events, including but not limited to: toplessness, public sex acts, streakers, fist fights, and (actually more hilarious than it might sound) a number of people horking their guts out.
   25. BDC Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4309820)
It is quite a story, salvo, and I'd imagine not over yet: you know not when Joe Torre will reappear with thoughts of the plate :)
   26. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4309826)
That's some story alright. Joe Torre seems like a swell guy, even if I couldn't wait for him to leave the Yankees by the end of his tenure.
   27. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: November 26, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4309848)
That's great stuff salvo.
   28. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 26, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4309857)
How many pipe cleaners did you need to make Torre's eyebrows? Did you have to buy a third bag?
   29. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: November 26, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4309864)
I got Minnie Minoso's autograph when I was very young (maybe 8 or 9 years old). I have no idea where it might be, nor do I particularly care. I wouldn't sell it anyway and truth be told getting Minnie Minoso's autograph and meeting him briefly is worth far more to me than actually possessing the autograph. If they're going to put Minnie in the HOF, they should do it now and not screw up and wait too long like they did with Santo.
   30. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 26, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4309868)
salvo

good stuff

i have an amusing story about a grandson and autographs. the family lives in cincy and are not reds fans but the dad got free tickets to 'redsfest' so he took the boy when he was about 4-5 years old. the youngster was wearing a baseball cap and at one point they ran straight into johnny bench who reached down, took off the boy's hat, autographed it and then chatted with him and his dad for a while.

so they are leaving redsfest and dad asks his boy how he enjoyed the day. the young man replies, 'i had a good time until that man wrote on my hat'
   31. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: November 26, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4309956)
Gibson, from everything I have read and heard, seems like one of the biggest self absorbed douche bags in baseball history. But he gets a pass, normally.
   32. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: November 26, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4310123)
My favorite autograph is one I got of Terry Mulholland in spring training 2000. I ran into him in a parking lot and he signed my blockbuster video receipt.
   33. asinwreck Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4310152)
I've only ever asked for one autograph in my entire life. Little Caesar's Pizza, Westland, Michigan.


I guess Mike Ilitch is beloved.
   34. Lance Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4310166)
I second Bourbon's methods, I have Mike Macfarlane's on a hotel receipt.

My favorite turn-down of an autograph was during college; I went to the Vet to see my beloved Mets play, and my at-the-time favorite player Butch Huskey was warming up before the game. Several people were asking for autographs, and he finally turned around and says "F**k you, I don't come to your work and bother you!" and leaves. And that was when Butch Huskey's brief run as my favorite player ended.
   35. McCoy Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4310170)
Why?
   36. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4310178)
I have a signed John Smoltz picture that I won as a door prize at the Atlanta Food Bank, and a signed Andruw Jones picture that I got in person at a Verizon Wireless store.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM (#4310180)
I got Keyshawn Johnson's autograph on a dollar bill.

Several people were asking for autographs, and he finally turned around and says "F**k you, I don't come to your work and bother you!" and leaves.


Once I stayed at the same St. Louis hotel as the Mets, and I waited outside with my little cousin to get autographs ("His name is Kurt Abbott"). The other people there asking for autographs were fat avaricious nerds with binders of cards and photos, just looking to drive up the value of their holdings. I imagine players have to run through a gauntlet of these leaches several times a day and it must be exhausting. Derek Bell had the largest headphones I'd ever seen on and just cruised through without making eye contact. Probably the right approach.
   38. J.R. Wolf Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4310231)
I actually have Lech Walesa's autograph. I'd rather have Joe Torre's, though.
   39. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:08 AM (#4310370)
Autographs: when I was a kid in the late 70's, I did the Punt Pass & Kick competition in Memphis, and got then-Packers-Pro-Bowler Terdell Middleton's. I lost that awhile ago, I'm pretty sure.
Later, I lived in Hollywood & ran into Bo Diddley hanging around outside the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd. He signed the binder I was carrying, which I gave away to a girl I was then crazy about.

The only "autographs" I've kept that I cared about were
1) baseball signed by all the kids on the first Little League team I coached, which they surprised me with at our end-of-season party. It's on my bookshelf.
2) letters of reference signed by four attorneys I'd worked with, supporting me for a job I didn't get... but they didn't have to write those letters, and they're individualized and great. Those are framed (one big frame) in my office.
   40. Alex Vila Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:19 AM (#4310371)
I have a picture of my mom having dinner with Roberto Clemente, and one of the Ballantine Beer 8x10 glossies with an autograph of his. If the house burns down, that and the computer are the main things I am saving.
   41. bjhanke Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:59 AM (#4310373)
When I was in the STL press box for 7 years in the 1990s, Gibson would come in sometimes to do whatever. I noticed that his mood varied wildly. Sometimes, he would come in and be all smiles and handshakes for everyone, and sometimes he acted like he'd rather be anywhere else. People like that are not usually jerks, they just have their bad days. Everyone in the press box who actually knew Gibson seemed to have a sixth sense as to when to go over and talk to him and when to leave him alone. Which completely corresponds with everything I've ever read by anyone who actually played with him. Game days and other days were not the same person, and other days varied, too. However, those who played with him also always talk about him with the utmost of respect, not just the respect you'd give an Inner Circle Hall of Famer, but the respect that you'd give a high-quality person.

My only autograph moment wasn't even mine. One of my friends works at a parking garage, and one of the guys who parked there regularly was Stan Musial. Jim worked up his courage and asked Stan if he would autograph something - for me, not for Jim. Jim isn't into baseball. Stan promptly whipped out two photos of himself, and signed one for each of us. But, then, everyone knows about Musial. - Brock Hanke
   42. Benji Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:01 AM (#4310374)
I already told the story of Pete Rose and Johnny Bench in that thread, but there were a few more encounters I had as a pre teen. 1967, Mickey Mantle refused all of us queued up to ask him, because he was carrying a bunch of empty boxes to the clubhouse. In retrospect, he probably used that as a strategy. Hell, at least I got to see him close up. Even Met fans liked Mickey. 1969, lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. The Pirates were in the lobby and I used the back of the first Expo yearbook to get about 20 of them. Bob Veale was so nice. He even offered to buy my father a drink. OF Ron Davis signed, then Matty Alou put "Busch" next to Davis' name. I then obnoxiously (but not deliberately obnoxiously, I was just a kid) went up to Roberto Clemente, Manny Sangillen and Jose Pagan while they were in the coffee shop eating. They signed (Sangy smiled, not shockingly) but the fourth guy in the booth didn't. I asked him too, and they goaded him and now I have an autograph of Juan Sabate, who was just a friend of theirs. The only SOB that wouldn't sign was Gene Alley, who was sitting with Mazeroski and Jerry May but insisted he was a "golfer". He had been one of my favorite players up til then. 1971, Syracuse. We had field boxes next to the dugout. A 1B named Dave Johnson sat outside the dugout and kibitzed with us. When we asked him why he wasn't sitting in the dugout he said "I hate the manager". Bobby Grich came over, asked Johnson if we were friends of his. He said "Naw, they're fans of yours." So Grich shook our hands, signed for us and offered us a cracked bat. A few minutes later Don Baylor appeared and flat refused to sign for us. Hated him ever since.

And this isn't autograph related but still fun. We took a bus trip to Fenway and got there so early we wandered around the ballpark. We saw an Oriole pitcher warming up. It was Pat Dobson. He must have been in a real good mood, because he asked us what we wanted him to throw. And complied, even when we requested a knuckleball. All of a sudden George Bamberger appeared and said "You ###### kids! Get the #### out of here!" Scared the crap out of us.

That same day I saw the worst booing of an individual player I ever witnessed. It was Carl Yastrzemski. He wasn't hitting, the team was out of it, and they mildly booed him early. Then TWICE he refused to run after the catcher missed the third strike. After the second time the booing was so loud they held up the game.
   43. Benji Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:38 AM (#4310380)
I couldn't edit for some reason, but the Rochester 1B we met was LARRY, not Dave Johnson.
   44. GregD Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4310444)
A friend of mine loves Rickey Henderson so when he was playing for Newark we went to Camden for a game, and it was early and Rickey trotted out and my friend--35 at the time--yells out, "Hey Rickey, can I take a picture?" Rickey trots over and says something like, "You want a picture of me?" Pointing at his chest. Then says, "Why not one of both of us?" Waves my friend to the short wall, reaches up and puts his arm around my friend, and smiles into the camera. This is placed above the pictures of my friend's parents in his house. I'm sure Rickey can be a royal pain when he wants to be but he couldn't have been more aware of my friend--an adult--as a person in that moment.

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