A hobby could be defined as the following:
noun, plural hob·bies.
1. an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.
An obsession, however, is a much stronger word. Obsession could be defined as:
1. the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
Yeah, that’s more like it. I have an obsession with meeting profesional athletes and obtaining autographs. Over the years, (I’m only 17) I’ve been able to acquire over five hundred autographs, and if you put your mind to it, and follow my advice, you can too. Autograph seeking to me is still one of the most thrilling experiences to endure. To meet someone of importance one day, and the next see that same person hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the 9th on SportsCenter, it’s just a unique experience that few get the opportunity to encounter with. So here we go:
1) Don’t waste your money on expensive seats. Being closer to the field/court is only going to increase your autograph chances by a hair. Trust me, the satisfaction is much higher when you work (some would call it “sneak”) your way down to the high-roller seats.
2) Research the time of the game. Most gates open one and a half to two hours before the game starts. Be there before the gates open. The more time you have in the stadium or arena, the better. Plus, I’ve learned that athletes, and it makes sense, would rather sign autographs extremely before the game so they could get in their “game mode” a little earlier, but they also like to sign early so that they don’t have to sign for mass crowds. The less people begging for an autograph, the higher the chance the player will come over to you.
3) Know who’s who. I made the mistake once before. Do not call someone Bengie…when their real name is Jose. For me, it didn’t stop there. I just kept guessing. For those that don’t know, the Molina family has produced three starting catchers to the Major Leagues: Bengie, Jose, and Yadier. So when Jose said “nope” to my Bengie attempt, I muttered “Yadier?” in a confused tone. Wrong again. In an almost sad voice, Jose replied to my desperate guess saying, “No again. My name is Jose.” That was enough to make sure I never made that same mistake again. Now, the night before a game I’m attending, I print out the two rosters with all of their uniform numbers and positions. Yeah, this is a big one, don’t get Molina’d like I did.
4) Supplies. Supplies. Supplies. You can never have too many things to bring and get autographed. I don’t believe in the theory that athletes enjoy signing pictures of themselves better than signing a glove or a ball. Frankly, I don’t think they really care what they’re signing if it’s for a true fan and not someone who’s just gonna throw it on eBay for a few bucks. For those of you “last seconders” (we’re all guilty every once in a while) who didn’t prepare pictures or other memorabilia items to get signed, grab a blank spiral notebook on the way out the door to the game. Its simple and extremely organized. Believe it or not, it also keeps the autographs preserved and prevents further physical damages to the signature as long as it stays in the book. Have sharpies. A lot of ’em. You can never have too many sharpies and pens, as real autograph hounds know that as you wait for someone to come and sign for you, your sharpies have dried up before, so have backups. Always be ready too. These athletes and celebrities rarely have the time to sign for fans or basic autograph hounds, so when they do give you the chance to get their signature or snag a picture with them, make the most of it and be prepared.
5) Be smart. Towards the end of a game, for baseball around the seventh innning and for basketball around the early fourth quarter, begin to search for what superstar you want to meet. My example was Macklemore, you may have heard the song “Thrift Shop”. See if you can sport him out in the crowd..*cough cough* It’s the dude wearing the fedora and white bowling shoes drinking coffee.
But anyway, make a plan with many B plans and C plans incase you get caught sneaking down. Once you figure out your target, search for “fans” that look uninterested in the game. When they get up and leave early, ask one of them for their ticket so you can watch the rest of the game in their seats. 99.99% of the time, they will not hesitate and just hand them over. If they say no, who cares. If they do however say yes, walk down to those seats and continue to leap frog your way down to your celebrity target.
Another key to this is being polite. Make sure you are respectful to the ushers and to the people letting you use their tickets.
6) The number one piece of advice that I could give on obtaining autographs is to have patience. Patience is what will determine your success. Want to snag that high-profile celebrity sitting on the side of the dugout that’s surrounded by security? Just wait. Patience pays off a lot more than you think. I’ve missed 6 innings of a Yankee game and 3 quarters of a Knick game trying to get one person’s signature. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. You just got to keep practicing and focusing on your target for this to work. When it does work, be happy that your hard work payed off.
Article by: Ryan Manley