Feb 8, 2010, 3:17 PM EDT
I’m not going to say that baseball news is slow, but this is one of the better things I’ve read today:
It always angers me that some athletes will go to great lengths to sign
legibly, and others will scribble their name, and be done with it.
Personally, I think it is a travesty for an athlete to sign his name in
such a way that you cannot decipher what it says. Now I realize that
players sign so much that it is ridiculous, and naturally some players
sign more than others, but you can’t tell me that a player can’t at
least write two or three letters that can be read by the average person.
Yeah, it’s that bad. But at least it provides me a basis for jumping into a subject I raised on my old blog a couple of years ago and which probably worth raising again: what’s the freakin’ point of autographs? I simply don’t understand the appeal. Sure, I understand that they’re valuable, but why? On a simple level, an autograph is proof that you
were in the presence of someone famous. But why should anyone else care that I — or some autograph dealer more likely — met someone famous? It’s like tulips or dotcom stocks or something. Price that doesn’t correspond with much if any value.
To be fair, the article linked above is about kids getting autographs and I sort of understand it for kids. They’re told by their parents that autographs are worth having, so kids seek them out. If obtained in person, they’re a handy vehicle for getting the kid near the ballplayer, and that is kind of cool. But isn’t the biggest takeway from that the fact that the kid actually stood next to the ballplayer and maybe said a word or two to him? I got Alan Trammell’s autograph when I was a kid. It’s in my basement somewhere and I haven’t looked at it in years. But I still vividly remember meeting him and talking to him, and I’d have the same emotional warm fuzzies about it if I had simply walked up to the crowd next to him and didn’t walk away with an autograph.
So sure, the kids can have their autographs because they may not go up to the ballplayer otherwise, but what about the grownups? It seems mildly twisted to me. A grownup either gets an autograph at a signing or by interrupting a celebrity in public. If it’s the former, it’s just an act of commerce, so what’s so special about it? If the latter, man, isn’t that kind of rude? Can’t we invade their personal privacy simply by pointing our cameras and gawking and leave the final line — thrusting personal objects at them for them to handle, sign and return — uncrossed?
I’m not trying to be a total killjoy about this or anything. I have some autographs. Some — the ones I got myself as a kid, mostly — I like. Trammel, Gaylord Perry, Stan Musial, Al Kaline. Others I obtained in the course of my baseball card habit. For example, I never met George Brett, but I have his autograph on a ball and a 1980 Topps card. Same with Don Sutton and Eddie Matthews and Paul Molitor. But either way, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take from them. I’m not sure what they’re supposed to mean. I’m not sure I’d ever obtain another autograph for as long as I live.
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