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 (Toll Free)

Question of the day: Would you want to meet your favorite player?

By Chris Olds | Baseball Editor

In many hobby conversations through the years, I’ve heard more than one collector say something that sounds wrong but also really sounds right depending on how you look at it.

“I wouldn’t want to meet my favorite player.”

We’ve probably all heard the stories about an autograph experience gone wrong — i.e. no ink was signed — and the sour grapes that come with that. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the experience of meeting that childhood icon — dare we say hero — and finding out that the player isn’t as invested in what fans think as much as the fans are invested in him.

It’s happened countless times to countless fans — so much so some collectors just don’t want to go there with certain players, knowing full well that their images of fanaticism and devotion would be squashed for whatever reason.

Now, I have met my favorite player these days — and got the autograph — but I have not ever met the guy who was the player I collected when I was growing up. You know, the player whose batting stance one emulated, and, in the case of my player, the head tweaks that came along with that.

The player? Jose Canseco.

I saw him play just once as a member of the Boston Red Sox in a game against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field. It was June 21, 1995, the day after Canseco had an incident during a rehab assignment in Pawtucket, R.I. Needless to say, he didn’t sign any autographs that day before going 0-for-4. I was lucky to see him play at all. My only other shot — a two-game interleague set between the Colorado Rockies and Oakland A’s in Coors Field on Aug. 30-31, 1997, should have gone better. At the time my tickets were purchased, Canseco and Mark McGwire were on the team. By the time the game arrived? McGwire had been traded and Canseco was hurt and didn’t travel. Go figure.

On Saturday, though, I have the chance to get an autograph in-person … and I’m not sure if I’d want to go. I mean, I already have more than a few autographs — and I know the baggage that Canseco carries in the baseball world. That’s a given — and something I actually appreciate since it’s been good for the game.

I just don’t know if I want to go … and it’s that old saying echoing through my mind.

The price of the autograph really isn’t bad at all, meaning there’s incentive to get a 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie signed, or an uncut sheet of 1983 Madison Muskies cards with his first baseball card of any kind among them, or a game-used bat …

That’s the other tough decision — what to get signed.

Really, truly not sure here. I have about 48 hours to decide.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

11 Comments

nick

He’s at a paid signing so he should be nice so there’s a slim chance your gonna leave there hating your favorite player. Do it! If you don’t it will eat at you.

Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink
Rob Botello

I’d go for it.. just make sure he doesn’t send Ozzie in his place…

Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink
Aaron Herrington

You may never get a chance to meet him again, this should be a no brainer, you should go. I know the “baggage” as you say that he caused for baseball but if he was your favorite then to me it would be worth it. I would still like to meet my favorite player too, Eric Davis. I did get to watch him play in 1990, it was a great day.

Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink
EJ

I’d LOVE to meet my favorite player. My favorite player is LaDainian Tomlinson and there’s no way I’d EVER give up a shot to meet him. He seems like a true class act and it might leave quite a bit of room for disappointment, but in the end that still wouldn’t tarnish my perception of him. Still would love the shot to meet him!

Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink
George

I am on the fence here. Of course I’d love to meet the guy but then if he is a complete a-hole, it would def. dampen my feelings. And I’m not just talking about getting an autograph, I mean just a casual passing or meeting on an elevator. It doesn’t have to be a 10 minute conversation but just a courteous “how are you” or “nice to meet you” and a handshake is all that’s necessary. The cold shoulder or a rant about how people won’t leave him alone would change my opinion of the player in a heart beat.

Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
Aaron Herrington

He could surprise you and could be truly a great guy, too. I got the chance to meet Bob Feller at a signing back in ’92 at a rinky dink card show in Ohio and even with a long line of people he took the time to talk to me and my dad both quite awhile, an amazing man. It could be the same for you as well, you should never pass up on meeting a hero ffrom your past.

Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

I’ve only recently “selected” – more like found a draw to – my favorite player: one-time Arizona Diamondbacks and now Baltimore Orioles 3B Mark Reynolds. I enjoyed watching him play out here in Arizona, watching his defense improve, and despite his obvious fatal flaw, the strikeout, I really enjoyed watching him hit bombs into Friday’s Front Row or Fatburger at Chase Field.

That being said, I only had the opportunity to meet him once. He was always a staple at DBacks’ FanFest for autograph signings with a $5 contribution to the Diamondbacks Foundation, but every year, he was one of the first sellouts for the auto tickets, so I got shut out. The first, and only time I had interaction with him was on his bobblehead night September 26, 2009. I waited out near the player parking lot after that game, and when he drove out, he was kind enough to stop for the six of us standing there and signed a few autographs from his car.

The way I see things, baseball players sign a lot of autographs. For baseball cards, stickers to go on baseball cards, fans at the ballpark, fans not at the ballpark, at hotels when they travel… and the list goes on. I just can’t see feeling offended when I ask for an autograph at the field and someone ignores me or says no. They’re working, after all, and it’s kind of a fun challenge to obtain a hard-sought autograph in person. That happened to me with Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks’ catcher). There was an incident at the ballpark that happened between a few well-known people at the stadium who got autographs solely to sell them, and while I don’t have a problem with those people, it does make it harder for simple collectors like me to get autographs. In any event, this incident prompted many players not to sign for people. I really wanted Miggy’s auto last year, but I could not for my life get him to sign for anyone other than the little kids there. I finally was able to get his autograph at Spring Training, and it was a great feeling to meet him and bolster my collection.

If the guy is your favorite player, you probably already know a lot about him. You’ve listened to him on sports shows, heard interviews, watched him play, and you probably shouldn’t be concerned with worrying about if he’s having a bad day when you meet him. A real fan should be able to love the way that player plays the game, even if he’s not the nicest person in the world. And if he actually turns out to be a really cool guy, it’s just icing on the cake.

Go meet Canseco. You’ll regret it if you miss out on the opportunity. As for what to get signed, well, I can’t help you there. I like signed baseballs, but that’s just me.

Posted May 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
Terry

Dont pass up the opportunity. You may never get the chance again. Like others have said, it will bother you more if you dont go. I have met my hero several times at autograph signings and other events in the St. Louis area. Lou Brock greets you with a smile, makes small talk with you, will shake your hand, thank you for coming out, and is always a gentleman. I would not pass up the opportunity if I had not met him. I only wish I could have met my other hero, Walter Payton.

Posted May 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
David Johnson

GO!!!! It is a scheduled signing so it’s not like is going to turn you away from getting an autograph. Just don’t expect to get into a conversation with him. He will be there doing a job, which is signing autographs. You might be able to exchange a few words, but if the line is long he probably isn’t going to want to sit and talk with every person who comes up there. Check to see if he will allow pictures of him signing and/or a picture of you and him together. I know some shows explicitly state “NO PHOTOS” as it tends to slow down the line. Personally I would rather get a picture of myself with my favorite player than their autograph (which I already have and can get more of easily). Try and get a picture than post it up here next week.

Posted May 13, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink
Adrian Augustine

I have had the opportunity to meet many of my heroes in person(Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, Ryan Braun and Joe Mauer) and I don’t regret any of it. They were all very nice.

I understand where you are coming from though. I’ve gone to a couple of signings where I was worried that the experience would leave me feeling let down based on reputations the athletes(Rod Carew, Willie Randolph and Gorman Thomas) had with other collectors. My experiences with all them were great and they were very nice. I left those signings with a greater appreciation of them than when I went in.

Based on the fact that this is a paid signing, Canseco should be fine. He may even be quite friendly and you will find your appreciation of him improved because of it. As far as what to get signed, go with the game used bat. As much as I like the uncut Muskies card idea, autographed GU equipment is just too great to pass up.

Adrian in Madison, WI

Posted May 13, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
Beth

Just wanted to find out the outcome of your decision. I am also on the fence here.
I have met quite a few celebrities over the years whether in sports, politics, music etc…
For example : I love music and put this artist on a pedestal
I went to her concert at least 10 times in a 3 year period and I would visit the artist backstage after her concert. After awhile it all got old–my perseption of people has totally changed from that day of awakening.
It is like hearing a song on the radio and wondering what the person looks like, then you are disappointed when they don’t look the way you envisioned (blue hair, gauges in their ears, nose-lip-cheek-brow-tounge piercings etc) There is no entertainer, political or whatever person that I feel I need to meet, but it would not have been so bad to run into Thurman Munson back in the day to get an autograph.

Posted May 15, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

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