I met AJ Lee for the second time at a her book signing tour promoting her book, “Crazy Is My Superpower”. When the tour schedule was released, Los Angeles was originally not on it. Most of the cities were in the state of New York, on the east coast, or in the Chicago area (where she lives with her husband CM Punk ).
The day before Easter, I found out AJ Lee had added Los Angeles. And, of all places, a comic book store, which I never been. (And I’ve been to almost ALL the LCS in L.A. area!) Now before the meeting, I’ve had bad luck with getting straight answers to store signing, particularly a certain Barnes And Noble, which I had received misleading answers from staff, which caused me to miss meeting Wayne Gretzky. Since this was a comic book store, I would have a chance! I figured this because the signing wasn’t made that public. (She didn’t do any talk show interviews promoting the book or signing as most big stars would do when they’re in town).
Another fate came that night when on a lark, the comic book store I just followed for this event, Tweeted that they will have pre-sales, and the first 25 people who pre-ordered will be the first 25 in line. I initially got a busy signal, but luckily I got through one hour later.
That’s one of the things this comic book store did that other stores who do signing should take note: In my 25 years of doing in person signings, this was a first for me. In most cases it usually first come first serve in which leads people to line up hours at 4 a.m. That usually turns me off, in my opinion, no one is worth waiting that early or even wait several hours just for an autograph.
When I got to the signing, I saw a long line around the block, luckily, I knew that this was due to the presale, I had the first 25. I was shocked I was number five!! Now the flyer on the Facebook page said "NO OUTSIDE MEMORABILIA" signed, and even when I Tweeted the store and they said that too. However, I actually gambled and brought a WWE Comic with her on the cover, and I wanted to get signed since it was recalled once CM Punk and AJ left the WWE. I also brought my 2011 Topps Classic A.J. Rookie card (side note: this is her first mainstream rookie issued in packs, the other one- 2011 FCW is a “XRC’ given out to regional shows) which I haven’t gotten signed yet. I knew that unlike Barnes and Noble, that the staff would be lax and be a little flexible.
I also employ this “trick,” if you’re going to a book signing and have a chance a card will be signed. “The bookmark card” trick is when you put a card you want signing on the front page or title page as a “Bookmark”. This masks to the staff that it’s a book mark of the page to get signed. This happened at a Tim Salmon signing in which I put his 91 Bowman Rookie and he signed it and the book.
To be honest, I was somewhat nervous.That’s saying A LOT from me. When I was asking questions, it was hard to keep my composure.
AJ actually remembered me when I told her I first met her at the 2013 Summer Slam Axxess near Staples Center. I also made her gush when I told her she should play X-23 /Lady Wolverine in a movie someday. AJ is a big comic book geek, which explains why I became a big fan. I finished by shaking her hand and thanking her for her time.
This signing was probably one of the Top 10, if not Top 5 of my favorite meeting of all time. A lot can be learned from this signing but some hints:
1) If you notice that the handlers seem lax, you can try and get something extra signed, not pull out of your backpack in front of the person. (A POS did that to the Mike Tyson book signing in front of me and thus made me lose a chance to talk to him).
2) Always bring extra item, but limit it to 2 at most besides the book, and always have it either on the side or underneath the book.
3) The “bookmark” trading card - place it on the title page where the person will sign, there is a chance that he/she may sign it will signing the title page. The worst that person can say is no.
In addition, I knew AJ will rarely come to L.A. or the West Coast since she usually does conventions in the mid-West. Always know if that person ever comes to the area where you’re living. If that person rarely comes to that part of the country where you live, make sure to bring extra stuff cause you may never if you’ll get another chance of a signing for a long time.
Also, check if they sign at cons or public signings. Sometimes the person doesn't do shows at all, so this book signing or promotion maybe a rare public signing.
Also, some do charge a big amount of money to sign items. I remember I getting Bill Russell of the Celtics years ago and he was charging $500 at shows at the time. Mike Tyson charges $125 or more at shows so buying a book to have him sign for under $30 is a big steal. I got two addition autographs from AJ at this signing, so It’s like I spent $27 w/ tax for her book and got three autographs that would probably run me over $120 if I was a show. Almost a $100 difference!
Book signings often will not lead an opportunity get extra item signed. However, with luck and research it could be an extra surprise. In this case, I was always a fan of AJ Lee. Meeting her made me more a fan than I already was. I have been made fun of online for being a fan. Her being nice to me and other fans (she signed up to 10 PM, under 4 hours total.. Often times signers do only 2 hours max), vindicated my fandom for her and proud to her fan all those years.
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I collect baseball cards and autographs because they bring me closer to the heart and spirit of a timeless graceful game.The cards preserve snapshots of action, joy, humor, and the drive to compete.The best sets are those that can reveal the stories that can really connect us to the games past, present and promises of the future.This is why I collect - because of the stories revealed by the cards.Each autograph has its own history and story.It's this connection to the game and players that an autograph can represent.
I enjoy collecting autographs because of the connection It has to a player. All the autographs that I truly enjoy have a story behind them that I remember.I still remember the first one I got.I told my dad at one of my first games that I was going to get an autograph that night.He didn't think I'd be able to.So I did all I could to get one to prove I could.I ended up getting Blas Minor, reliever for the Mariners. I no longer have it but I was hooked.Something about he fact that he took the time to sign for a dorky nerdy kid that got picked on at school all the time was huge.It was that connection and the meaning behind it that got me hooked.It's this connection and meaning that causes me to keep collecting. From this point on baseball became my haven, a place that made sense, and could bring me peace whenever I needed it.It's a combination of these reasons that keeps me returning to the game.
So a few stories about some of my favorite autographs.I've talked about Blas Minor, an unknown name.But a favorite Autograph of mine is one that is well known and controversial.But because of this early experience I had, I'll always have a soft spot for him.Alex Rodriguez.Here is the signature:
It's one of the best I've ever seen of his.Thin blue sharpie on a unique 8 x 10. I got this in 97/98, when he was a rookie and full of promise.He was rapidly becoming a favorite player.This was obtained during practice at Spring Training.I can still recall how blue the sky was, and the metal bleachers nearby.He took, I swear, about a minute to sign it.Took a lot of care.I've never seen another ARod signature quite like it.I was offered $70 right after I got it, said no way.I'm never parting with it.It represents that even in a controversial player like ARod, there's something good and right and simple about him.He loved baseball and the game.I think this signature and the time he took on it proves that.It shows also how a persons character comes through in their signature and I think The best of ARod came through in this one.
Take what you will from these thoughts.It's just part of why I collect and why I think others might.Collecting autographs should be about more than the money (there's some to be had but not much anyway), but about creating these memories.It's about the fact that a player is taking the time to sign your item in the hope that you really are a fan, someone who is there for the game and it's simple grace that can get us through tough times.
I collect TTM autographs now because it's a simple, fun hobby that brings back these memories and the grace inherent in the game. The grace of something simple, but so compelling with all its stories.I try to send to players I have memories of playing or met briefly, or enjoy watching now.
I'm also getting autographs for my sons, to pass to them with the hope that they will see what I see in the game, what it meant to me, and how it's a part of who I am.I hope it will help them know me so I can be a better dad for them.
This grace and passion in the game can easily be overlooked especially in our time of the instant news and gratification.It's why Manfred talks about the pace of the game, when he should be looking at ways to give kids and Us more access to the game, the players, it's history.People don't understand baseball and what it is and can represent anymore.This is being lost.It can be recaptured - more access, more connections, more personalities.And yes, more chances for a kid to get a Blas Minor or the next Alex Rodriguez's autograph.