Skip to content

“I want his autograph. That’s all I want.”

Feb 8, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Getty Images

Scott Cacciola writes a fantastic and somewhat disturbing article in the New York Times about the people who camp out for Derek Jeter‘s autograph at the Yankees training facility down in Tampa.

Cacciola outlines the whole, elaborate setup outside the facility. About the Yankees employee who shouts at the autograph seekers regarding the exact way they are to lineup and behave if they expect to get a chance at a Jeter autograph.  And that chance, Cacciola reports: about 10% that he’ll even sign. And if he signs, only a fraction of the people waiting outside will get an autograph.

He also writes about some of the specific people who take a whole heck of a lot of effort to try to get that signature:

“I guess I’ll have to come back again tomorrow if he doesn’t sign today,” said Melissa Davis, a patient-support technician at a hospital in nearby Clearwater, whose prize for showing up at 4 a.m. was the sixth spot in line, a prime piece of real estate. She had not slept in two days, she said. Or was it three? She was, by her own admission, bordering on delirium.

“I’m basically on a mission at this point,” said Davis, who kept herself occupied by reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” on her Kindle. “I want his autograph. You can’t really talk to him because he’s not going to sit and talk to you. So I want his autograph. That’s all I want.”

I’ve written at length about my hangups with autographs. I don’t really understand the appeal. On a simple level, an autograph is proof that you were in the presence of someone famous. That you saw, in this instance, Derek Jeter, and he took a second to sign his name for you.  I’m not sure what that brief, exceedingly superficial interaction does for a person. You’ve seen Jeter on TV. If you’ve gone to Yankee Stadium you’ve seen him in person. If you’ve managed over the past 19 years to hit some Yankees event or another you may have very well seen him up close and in person. Maybe you even snapped his photograph.

But what does the autograph give you? Proof? What, no one will believe you when you say you saw him? A memory? Don’t you remember seeing him and don’t your memories of his thousands of games in pinstripes constitute much more meaningful and lasting memories?

I know I’m in the minority here, but I’ve never understood what autographs do for a person. I have a lot of autographs from when I was a kid. Hank Aaron is probably the biggest name. My favorite player from childhood, Alan Trammell, is the one I held most dear when I was younger.  But they don’t do much for me now.

They’re not even great reminders of when I got the actual autograph.  Both were at baseball card shows. Aaron’s was actually kind of depressing: he had all kinds of security around him and was at a high table so you couldn’t even get too close. You had to reach up high and place the card there, someone handed it to him, he signed, and they handed it back. You were instructed not to talk to him.  Trammell’s was not that crazy, but it was still kind of a cattle call.  I certainly get way more jazzed remembering Trammell play and reading about Aaron or watching whatever old footage of him I can find than I do remember “meeting” them.  The autographs are curios. Not much more.

I know those people who wait for Derek Jeter to sign his name feel very strongly about what they’re doing. And I presume they’ll value that autograph, if they’re lucky enough to get it, way more than I value the autographs I have.  I just don’t know why. It’s something I’ve never really been able to understand.

Latest Posts
  1. The Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t even enter into the Kris Bryant situation, right?

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 AM EDT

    Kris Bryant

    Some people have argued that maybe a Kris Bryant/MLBPA lawsuit is not as silly as some of us think. I’m not sure I’m buying that.

  2. Dodgers agree to minor league deal with Freddy Garcia

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT

    Freddy Garcia AP AP

    Garcia, 38, last pitched in the majors in 2013 as a member of the Orioles and Braves.

  3. Red Sox won’t rush prospect Blake Swihart to the majors despite Christian Vazquez injury

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Blake Swihart AP AP

    Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon figure to handle catching duties for the Red Sox in the early part of the season.

  4. Phil Coke wins spot on Cubs’ Opening Day roster

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    phil coke getty Getty Images

    This day has mostly been about who will not be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, but it was announced this evening that reliever Phil Coke has earned a spot on the team.

  5. Cardinals officially name Carlos Martinez as fifth starter

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Carlos Martinez AP AP

    In a decision that was all but inevitable after news of Jaime Garcia’s renewed shoulder issues, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed today that right-hander Carlos Martinez has won the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

  6. Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson win rotation spots with D-Backs; Daniel Hudson to bullpen

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo alternate

    The Diamondbacks will go into the season with a starting rotation of Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Trevor Cahill, and Chase Anderson.

  7. Report: The Pirates and Gregory Polanco have reopened extension talks

    Mar 30, 2015, 7:09 PM EDT

    Gregory Polanco AP

    The two sides first discussed the possibility prior to Polanco’s promotion to the majors last year.

  8. Anthony Rendon sees Dr. James Andrews for second opinion on ailing knee

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:19 PM EDT

    at Space Coast Stadium on March 9, 2015 in Viera, Florida. Getty Images

    Rendon suffered what was termed as a minor MCL sprain in his left knee on March 9 and continues to feel discomfort.

  9. UPDATE: Drew Storen leaves game with blister on foot

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT

    Drew Storen Getty Images

    That Nationals don’t need another injury. But they may have one.

  10. The MLBPA releases a statement on Kris Bryant, mentions possible litigation

    Mar 30, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Tony Clark AP

    I’d still be surprised if they went down that road — and I think it’s a bad road to go down — but Tony Clark is leaving the option on the table.

  11. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will begin the season on the disabled list

    Mar 30, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    Everth Cabrera, who was the Padres’ starting shortstop for most of the past three seasons, looks likely to fill in for Hardy.

  12. Indians release left-hander Scott Downs

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Scott Downs Getty Getty Images

    Downs signed a minor-league deal in mid-December.

  13. In the wake of the Kris Bryant demotion, Scott Boras’ vocabulary has gone to 11

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    Spinal Tap But it goes to eleven

    The Cubs are playing ersatz baseball, you see. And this is the, um, apogee of something.

  14. White Sox send top prospect Carlos Rodon to Triple-A

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    carlos rodon ap AP

    Rodon ranked as a consensus top-20 prospect and has top-of-the-rotation upside, so expect to see him in Chicago by the All-Star break.

  15. Kevin Correia released by the Mariners

    Mar 30, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    Kevin Correia AP

    He just signed on March 9, but after three awful appearances, the M’s have cut bait.

  16. Cardinals shut down Jaime Garcia with more shoulder problems

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT

    jaime garcia getty Getty Images

    Carlos Martinez time in the Cardinals’ rotation?

  17. Mets find a lefty, acquire reliever Alex Torres from Padres

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

    He posted a 3.33 ERA in 70 appearances for the Padres in a limited role, logging a total of just 54 innings with a 51/33 K/BB ratio.

  18. The Cubs assign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell to the minors, option Javier Baez as well

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:07 PM EDT

    Kris Bryant Getty Images

    Service time manipulation, the depth chart and hacktastic tendencies mean that the future is not quite here for three of the Cubs’ top prospects.

  19. Reds release left-hander Paul Maholm

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    paul maholm getty Getty Images

    Maholm has indicated that he wants to continue starting, which likely sealed his fate in Cincinnati and limits his options going forward.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Fernandez (4579)
  2. C. Rodon (4099)
  3. Y. Tomas (3889)
  4. K. Bryant (3849)
  5. S. Doolittle (3841)
  1. A. Cobb (3606)
  2. T. Walker (3584)
  3. K. Jansen (3574)
  4. A. Rendon (3543)
  5. K. Uehara (3502)