Feb 8, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT
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.
Apr 24, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT
Out since spring training with a lat strain, Nationals right-hander Doug Fister is on track to join the Nationals in early May.
Apr 24, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT
Chase Headley’s walk year is off to a tough start.
Apr 24, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT
Get excited. One of baseball’s most exciting young players is close to making his return.
Apr 24, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT
The alleged incident took place last April while the Reds were in Washington, D.C.
Apr 24, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT
A.J. Griffin was shut down during spring training with right flexor tendinitis and still isn’t feeling right.
Apr 24, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Darren Oliver retired last fall after 20 seasons in the majors and now he’s joining the front office of the team who originally drafted him.
Apr 24, 2014, 6:14 PM EDT
Shane Victorino has been sidelined since spring training with a hamstring strain, but he’ll make his season debut tonight against the Yankees.
Apr 24, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
And knowing is half the battle? Wait, that’s another thing.
Apr 24, 2014, 4:48 PM EDT
Ivan Nova is the latest pitcher to need Tommy John surgery.
Apr 24, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT
Demoted back to the minors at the end of spring training, Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz is now on the Triple-A disabled list with what the team is calling arm soreness and inflammation.
Apr 24, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
A hated policy preventing Cuban players from playing in other countries is now gone.
Apr 24, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
More like Cake Toss, amirite?
Apr 24, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT
Michael Pineda has been suspended 10 games by MLB after being ejected from last night’s start against the Red Sox for “possessing a foreign substance on his person.”
Apr 24, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT
Joe Posnanski says not to overlook The Obviousness Factor when it comes to Michael Pineda and pine tar.
Apr 24, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT
Kay and I talk about what everyone is talking about today
Apr 24, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT
In addition to sending Nick Franklin back to the minors following a six-day call-up the Mariners have also dropped right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from their starting rotation and demoted him all the way down to Single-A.
An usher at Progressive Field claims he was fired for not supporting a ballot measure to fund stadium upgrades
Apr 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
You got your politics in my day job! You got your day job in my politics! Heeeyyyy . . .
Apr 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Current pitchers all say they use pine tar to help their grip. A pitcher who has no incentive to lie about that sort of thing says it’s total B.S.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
This is a great afternoon-killer.
Apr 24, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been placed on the disabled list after injuring his hamstring trying to chase down a fly ball in yesterday’s loss to the Diamondbacks.
- Manny Machado could join the Orioles as soon as next weekend 3
- Michael Pineda suspended 10 games for “foreign substance” 45
- Doc Gooden calls B.S. on people saying pine tar is just to help pitchers get a grip on the ball 87
- Pineda and pine tar: baseball is, once again, sending mixed signals about cheating 126
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 69
- Josh Lueke is a rapist. How often does that bear repeating? (201)
- Benches clear in Pittsburgh after the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez bat flips a third-inning triple (183)
- Michael Pineda ejected in second inning for pine tar on neck, facing a 10-game suspension (156)
- Pineda and pine tar: baseball is, once again, sending mixed signals about cheating (126)
- Chipper Jones chimed in on the Carlos Gomez incident (111)