Autographs - Preserving the Moment
Have a fond memory about getting a ballplayer’s autograph? Chris Dial has many. He’s shared a bunch of his with us, let’s share a few of our own with him.
I like autographs.? Sure, some people think they are cheesy and they certainly
shouldn?t be a ?market?, but I like ?em.? For me, they put a cherry on top of
the whipped cream of the moment.?
I?m not talking about those knuckleheads that plop down $20 at the mall to
get Pete Rose to autograph the August 19, 1985 edition of Sports Illustrated
?Ty Cobb, Here I Come?.? I?m talking about interacting with a player for a minute,
congratulating him on his game, and having him sign your ticket.? Those moments
are spectacular.? Sometimes they impress your friends, but mostly the autograph
helps you recollect those seconds when you were chatting with a hero.?
I have quite a few autographs, ranging from gifts from friends who did see
Red Schoendienst in the mall to a ball mailed to me from a player shortly after
life-threatening surgery.? All of my autographs were gathered as an adult, but
none of them is for sale.?
Here?s my stories:
Okay, I plunked down a big chunk of change to see the Yankee Clipper in person
and have him sign a ball.? I guess on some level it was an ?investment?, but
I had my wife come along and take a photo of me standing there with Joe D. signing
the ball.? Even though there was no chatting, I was giddy as a schoolgirl just
being that close to such a legend.? It was like spotting him in Dinky Donuts.
I went to graduate school at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville from 1986-1989.?
One night in the early 1990s, I was at a Knoxville Smokies (AA ? Southern League)
baseball game at lovely Bill Meyer Stadium, when I spot the Jays? roving hitting
instructor walking toward the field.? Bill Meyer Stadium doesn?t have a tunnel
from the locker room to the dugout, so everyone walks right by the bleachers.?
It?s Bill Buckner.? I whip off my Mets cap, and scramble over to him for an
autograph on my program.? Naturally, I startle him.? He isn?t expecting to be
recognized (no names on the uni’s).? As he takes my program and pen, my ?friends?
start yelling, ?Don?t do it! He?s a Mets fan!?.? I winced, but Buckner signed,
and we laughed all night.
Steve Karsay/Carlos Delgado
Another night at Bill Meyer Stadium in 1993.? Karsay was the starter and Delgado
was the catcher.? Karsay was a really hot prospect at the time.? I got my first
foul ball at a baseball game.? After the game, I got both Karsay and Delgado
to sign the ball, congratulating them on a great game.? At the time, I thought
Karsay would be the story, but Delgado has really become the star.
Yes, the Florida State QB.? Weinke and I actually developed a chatting relationship,
us both being named Chris and all.? He was a weak-hitting first baseman, and
I was a loudmouth in the first base bleachers.? I also fancy myself as an amateur
photographer.? Very amateur, wink, wink, grin, grin, say no more.? I like taking
sports action photos, and took a really good shot of Chris at bat, and he kindly
autographed it.? I also gave him a photo of him and Michael Jordan when Jordan
actually reached base.? Our chattiness actually centered on football.? I was
aware of his heavy recruitment when he was coming out of high school and we
talked about his returning to FSU.? I wonder if?
Thomas was one of my first autographs ever.? Like so many of you reading this,
I felt seeking autographs was somewhat gaudy.? Then I saw the Big Hurt at a
Knoxville-Birmingham game at Bill Meyer.? He was an absolute stud.? I think
he doubled twice and tripled.? It was about the 10th game of the
1990 season, but something about Frank screamed superstar.? After the game,
I went out on the field, asked him to sign my players? stat sheet, patted him
on the back, and assured him, ?You?ll be in the bigs by the end of the season.??
I?m sure he slept better.? And sure enough, he was.
During warm-ups at a Braves-Mets game in Atlanta, Dallas was lounging against
the corner of the dugout.? I was sitting down there, and I asked him, ?When
Piersall ran around the bases backwards, what were you thinking??? Green turned
around really slowly, kind of squinted at me and said real mean-like, ?I?d have
killed the sonofabitch.?? I laughed and he signed my scorebook.? For those historically
challenged, when Jimmy Piersall (?Fear Strikes Out?) hit his 100th
career home run, he ran around the bases backwards.? Dallas Green was the victimized
Asking for autographs, as an adult, can be pretty embarrassing.? At a Dodger-Brave
game, Drysdale was on the field doing some pre-game interviews.? My wife urged
me to ask for his autograph, knowing that just spending those few seconds with
a Hall of Famer would mean a lot to me.? As he left the field through the dugout,
I did get up and ask, and he unceremoniously signed my notepad and moved on.?
Not the moment I?d hoped for, but we looked one another in the eyes and I said
?thank you? and he said ?you?re welcome.?? He passed away a few months later.
Who?? Tomberlin played for the Mets briefly in 1996-97, and he is from a high
school near where I grew up.? He played at Piedmont High School near Monroe,
NC.? His best friend?s brother, Eric Tsitouris, lived on the same hall as I
did at Pfeiffer College.? Eric?s dad, John, was a major league pitcher for the
Reds in the 60s.? Okay, not a fancy autograph, but one with some local color.
I lived in Philadelphia briefly, and while I was there I joined the a group
from Delaware County that had it?s own Hall of Fame and would have luncheons
with assorted local baseball celebrities. ?When Dick Allen was the speaker,
I took a long lunch.? By chance, the table I sat at was also the one Allen sat
at, and he sat right beside me.? He told general stories about how great of
a time he had playing baseball and was jovial the entire time.? It was a nice
autograph, right in the sweet spot.
Gene ?Spider? Benson
At the above luncheon, while Dick Allen sat to my left, Negro League star Gene
Benson sat to my right.? ?Spider? was even more engaging than Allen, telling
of stories of Negro League All-Star games with all the big Negro League names.?
It was a real honor to talk to him, and exchanged letters with him a few times
afterwards.? He and Dick signed the same ball, but I really treasure the Spider
signature more.? I always hear from Buck O?Neill (whose autograph I got at a
Babe Ruth Conference at Hofstra), but I?m disappointed we don?t hear from more
Negro League stars.
Roger Maris? daughter, Sandra, went to Pfeiffer College for a semester or two.?
I was on the orientation committee, and when I heard it was Roger Maris, I snapped
up that assignment in a flash.? Roger was the nicest guy you could ever meet.?
We moved his daughter?s stuff into her room, and sat down and had a few tall
Buds.? He gave me a nice hat and signed an autograph, ?Chris, Thanks for All
the Help, Best Always, Roger Maris?.? I got a snapshot of Roger and his wife
and Sandy, which I still have framed on my wall with Roger?s rookie card and
Brett is a great guy.? He is Joe Average and an absolute hoot at 2 AM.? In 1996,
I met a friend in NY for a lark.? We went out drinking at a tavern called The
Whiskey.? Late that night, about 2 AM, in walk George Brett and Joe Montana.?
It was really odd.? Montana moves to a both in the corner and broods, while
Brett hangs out at the bar shooting the breeze and drinking beer like we were
old friends.? I had to get his autograph ? the situation had been too unbelievable
to not have any proof.?
George Brett ? Part Deux
This past summer, I?m in the Dugout Club at a Dodger-Padre game - the game
was in a rain delay.? Yes, a Dodger game was in a rain delay.? Who comes
into the club and plops down two seats over but George Brett.? After a few glances
at one another, I walk over and remind him of where we?ve met before.? He remembers!?
Well, he remembers the late night out with Joe Montana.? Fortunately, I?m with
the same friend I had been with in NY.? We chat for an hour or so, swapping
golf stories and drinking a few beers.? Finally, George takes a picture of Bryan
and me.? Then we get a picture with George.? What a guy.
Opening Day 1994.? Gooden gave up three HRs to Tuffy Rhodes.? I took one of
my finest baseball photos that day in Wrigley Field.? Just Gooden in full motion
with nothing but the green grass around the mound.? I really like that photo.?
I get it blown up and catch the Mets in Atlanta later that season.? I take two
prints of the photo, giving one for Doc to keep (sure?) and he autographed the
other, while we talk about that game.? It really was hanging with a hero.? The
photo is hanging in my den.? Gooden will always be one of my favorite Mets.
I had a subdural hematoma in 1991.? While in the hospital, my friend Bryan wrote
the Dodgers telling Strawberry about my condition.? I don?t really know
what he wrote, and I?m sure Bryan didn?t mention I was 26, but while I was recovering
at home, I received a package from Dodgertown in Vero Beach.? I opened it up,
and there was an autographed baseball from Darryl Strawberry, my favorite player.?
I didn?t know how or where or what at the time, but it is still one of the best
gifts I?ve ever gotten.? Regardless of what else happens in Straw?s life, he
took the time to send an ailing fan an autographed baseball.? I?ll always pull
Oh, and I did get the Rose autograph?
Posted: May 30, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 6 comment(s)
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