Collecting autographs: I just can’t sign off on this hobby

There are a lot of things I don’t “get” in sports. For instance, why otherwise normal and seemingly well adjusted adults buy and wear team jerseys with another persons name on the back? I own lots of Pats and Sox stuff. But none with a name on the back.

Millions of people do it. Maybe I’m more about the team than the player?
I don’t know.

I also don’t get the obsession some people have with collecting autographs. Some people are rabid about getting a signature. I think its a little bizarre.

My company the Sports Chowdah hosted Roger Clemens in town this past weekend. Like many athletes of his stature, he is quite selective when it comes to signing autographs.

While certain ticket holders will receive a pre signed baseball, folks are not allowed to bring items for him to sign at the VIP meet and greet. This has made a few people mad enough to start a bench clearing brawl. And it despite being told, “no autographs” it didn’t stop people from presenting thing for the Rocket to sign.

Being choosey when it comes to signing things is not unique to the Rocket. Bill Russell almost never signs. Same with Michael Jordan. Peyton Manning. Tiger Woods. The biggest names are the hardest to get.

This year at Sox spring training I watched grown ups walk around with clipboards checking off names as they collected signatures. Some have kids ask the players. One woman begged for any player to sign for her husband back in Boston.

The hobby of collecting autographs seems to have started in the early 1900’s. This was the era of America’s first real film stars and the rise of popularity in baseball as the American past time. People needed a way to prove they met someone famous.

Sitting here today the whole thing seems outdated to me. One of the reasons athletes don’t like to just sign is the items show up on E-bay an hour later.

So, in an era dominated by social media, why not get a selfie with the player? Or a close up picture with your phone? Or just shake a hand and tell the story later?

I guess everyone is entitled to a hobby. Even if it’s one I just can’t sign off on.

Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.