Friday, April 21, 2017

The Timeless Grace of the Autograph

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. 

Alex Kent

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