May 20, 2015

Autograph Hunting - Scranton Railriders Edition

This past Saturday was Star Wars Night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. It marked the first game of the season that I was able to take my girls to. My beloved home team also happened to be hosting the Yankees' Triple A affiliate, the Scranton Railriders. I had high hopes that Ivan Nova would be on rehab assignment, but alas, no luck there. The visitors did have several players that I hoped might sign an autograph or two, especially with the added persuasion of my 5 and 2 year olds. Pre-game was a bust. So we grabbed our seats.

This was also the first game that we didn't have 'regular' seats. Since it was a relatively last minute plan to go to this game, we had to settle for 'standing room only' tickets. My girls loved sitting on top of the outfield wall, just below the giant Bull sign. We wandered about the park visiting Wool E. Bull and R2-D2, getting some ballpark food, and checking out the Ballpark Corner Store. I watched the game as much as I could in between. When the game was over, we stood outside the park waiting for the players to exit the clubhouse. There were a few people I recognized from the many years ago when I was very active in this activity. Fortunately, the guy that was the really knowledgeable one way back then was still hanging around...and he remembered me enough to know I haven't been around much lately. It was always helpful to hang next to this guy because he always recognized the players and let us all know who they were(in the case we didn't know) and he was really good at knowing who would sign, and how many hey would sign at once. I was never the greedy type, so I rarely handed more than one card to any player. I was and am just happy that they would be willing to sign for me and I would always wish them luck(in the game or the rest of the season) or congratulate them on a good game if that was applicable. Having the rust of not doing this for some time, I missed a few of the players that I hoped to see, but I didn't walk away empty handed.

This one is hard to see in the scan, but it looks nice in hand. Here we are less than a week since getting this card signed and shaking his hand and he's been called up to play with the big club thanks to Ellsbury's injury. Good luck Slade, I'm pulling for you!

Next up, Mr. Tyler Austin. Pretty high hopes for this guy. Who knows if he'll make it or not? Still, I was pretty excited to see him in person and to walk away with this auto.

I got a few more that didn't turn out very well, but there is one last 'big one' to share.

I'd heard stories of how this guy wouldn't sign. I was actually pretty worried that they were true when we saw him pre-game. He came up into the dugout and as the group of us asked if he would stop to sign, he walked acknowledgement at all. He got some things from the dugout and walked out the other side. There was a group there and they asked him too. At least he stopped for a second and told them he'd get them after the game. That being said, when I saw him after the game, he was as nice as could be. You could tell that the attention of being a 'top prospect' on the system was not his favorite thing, but I thanked him and wished him the best of luck in the rest of the season and he seemed appreciative.

All in all, it was a great night with my daughters, Star Wars, a little bit of baseball, and some cardboard. By the way, if there is anyone out there reading this that has a copy of Refsnyder's Bowman Chrome auto(or any other certified auto) up for grabs, I'd love the opportunity to trade for one. 

Does anyone out there get autos at the games? Any tips or tricks to share? Thanks for reading!


  1. Nice haul. I'm especially jealous of the Refsnyder and Heathcott.

    I'm an autograph hound at a lower level in the minors where most of the players were just drafted so they're a lot more willing to sign. That said I usually try to be the best person asking a favor I can be and properly say please and thank you to the players, and also give them their own cards for them to keep as a thank you present.

    If you want some tips I'd also recommend:
    *Always calling a player by their first (or last) name. None of that, "hey number 12" BS.
    *Getting autographs after the game. If you can stay after the game I'd recommend waiting until they start to leave the stadium since they're a lot more relaxed and, usually, a lot more willing to sign.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! It's been since the late '90's or early 2000's since I really took a shot at this aspect of our hobby. The lone exception was at the Triple A All-Star week held in Durham last season. I got a bunch of great autos then which I plan to share at some point in a future post.

      I totally agree with being as pleasant and appreciative as possible. I always call them by their first name(since they're all WAY younger than I am) and ask them if they would please sign for me. I haven' thought about trying to give them a copy of their card as a gift. Is that well received by most of them? Hmmm, I wonder how well that would go over at the Triple A level. As a courtesy, I never ask a starting pitcher to sign on a day that they pitch.

      Thanks again for the tips, and thanks for reading!

    2. I'm not entirely sure how well giving players their cards would go at the triple-A level since I assume that by that point many of the players would have already had a lot of cards depicting them made (as opposed to new guys who still can't believe that they've just entered pro ball).
      That said, very few players ever say no since card companies don't really give them enough free samples and there's always that possibility that they want to give them to their folks back home.

  2. Glad you got that Refsnyder signed got a chrome version heading your way. I got a few at spring training, Kimbrel and Eric Young Jr cards and a bunch of players/coaches signed my daughters ball. You guys need to beat the Nats

    1. HUGE thanks to you Jeff! That Refsnyder you sent was the only card of his that I had. I definitely wouldn't have been able to get him to sign otherwise, unless it was on a ticket stub or something. The Bowman card is WAY better!