This is one post I’ve been wanting to write for some time now, and it’s something that really bothers me. First off, some background and some jargon to get everyone up to speed. In-Person (or IP) autographing, is the act of going to a planned location to get autographs from players. Whether at the field, the hotel, in a bathroom stall, or wherever people will hang out, and wait for players to arrive and (hopefully) sign some autographs. These graphers (people trying to get autographs….duh), usually come very prepared with cards, 8×10’s, baseballs, and all the pens, markers, and other ‘tools of the trade’.
Some people have gone into length about the types of people looking for autographs, from the dealers to the annoying 5 year old who asks if every player is David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia, and honestly, I don’t care too much about who you are (or what you smell like), as long as you have some manners. It’s a very simple process. How some people can just yell “Dustin……DUSTIN…….DUSTIN!!!”, then shove an item at the player, and take it back without saying a word just boggles my mind. I’ve seen this from people ages 5-55, and it always frustrates me, especially as I’ve gotten to know a couple players. It really doesn’t take much, and all you are doing is being rude and making it a worse experience for the player than it already is. I’ve broken the “Polite Autograph Request” down into three easy steps, so grab a ben (blue bic preferably), and take some notes.
Step One:The Approach
If I see Dustin Pedroia walking by and, for some reason, I’m the only person there or just the first person to see him, I say “Excuse me Dustin, can I bother you for an autograph?”. Now at this point Dustin has 3 choices. Sign the autograph, say “No” (which will sometimes include a reason for the ‘no’), or just ignore me and keep on going. If the answer is no, I usually just throw out an “Ok, thanks”. Some people will curse under their breath for this, and I’ understand that. Sometimes the excuses are lame, or the player in question is not very well liked, but that’s to yourself and I really don’t care. If he just ignores me, then I usually just let him pass. (again, I understand why some people would curse under your breath on this one as well). But let’s say he says “Sure”.
Step Two:The Exchange
Now that I see Dustin walking over, I’m going to make sure I have everything ready to make this as quick and painless for Dustin as possible. For a single item (baseball, 8×10, jersey, etc) I have the item in one hand and the pen/marker, uncapped, in my other hand with the tip of the pen/marker in my palm so he can grab it and just sign without twirling the pen around. If I have a book of cards, I have the book in one hand, marker in the other, and when I hand him the marker, I point out the card(s) I would like signed.
Step Three: The Closer
After signing my item and taking back the pen/marker, (and this is the easiest step folks), I simply say “Thanks, I appreciate it”. Now probably 8 out of 10 times for a Major Leaguer (maybe 5 out of 10 for a Minor Leaguer), they don’t even listen or acknowledge my “thank you”, and that’s fine, but I feel better knowing I thanked them.
That’s it folks, it’s as simple as that, and no one will complain that you weren’t polite, and appreciative, and maybe, juuuuuuuust maybe, you made the experience positive enough for the player to sign more autographs in the future.
What’s the rudest exchange you ever saw when trying to get an autograph?