Phan Tales: Autographs

This is Fan Tales, a Sunday feature that presents a topic of fan-related fun. Share your thoughts and memories in the comments.

I’ve never been a truly lucky collector of autographs. Sure I got an Ozzie Smith autograph, but who hasn’t? Most of my winning autographs came with arms hanging out, leaning against the fence at Veterans Stadium. Or, if you go back enough, those photo nights at the Vet — 5 p.m. on a Saturday hanging out on the field as Roger McDowell flashes you a funny face.

Photo night aside: McDowell actually took our camera and snapped a photo of my family. He was always fun.

Getting autographs, for some, is a lifelong hobby. For most children, it’s one of the main reasons to attend a baseball game. At the Vet, if you’re not lining up before the game, you’re hanging out way afterward by the players’ tunnel. Maybe Mike Williams tosses you a baseball. Maybe Doug Glanville flashes you his winning smile.

My best autograph at a Phillies game? Probably Ricky Bottalico, who signed my brother’s hat after telling the kids “OK, one more.” He selected me. Ha. The other autograph I remember vividly? Tony Womack. A rookie with the Pirates, he did something good the day before, so when he approached the fence, I told him “good game yesterday, Tony,” and he promptly signed my scorecard and thanked me. Ah, memories.

What about you? You must have better autograph memories than I.



  1. Chapps

    February 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I got Fay Vincent’s autograph at the Vet when I went to a game with my uncle, can’t remember the game, but the ticket stub is in a box in my parents attic. But my greatest autograph moment happened at a Phillies event I was able to get Von Hayed to sign my program, Phillies Painters cap, that was a give away earlier that year, and give me about 5 autographed 3×5 photos, all because my buddies aunt told him that his wife looked nothing like the redhead she saw him in the Bahamas with over the winter. Talk about an awkward couple of minutes, but all the guys in the booth with him were laughing their butts off.

  2. Griffin

    February 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Late in the ’93 season, I got Larry Anderson and Curt Schilling’s autograph at Shea Stadium. I wished LA good luck in the playoffs and he looked right at me and said in genuine appreciation “Thanks, thanks kid!”. Unfortunately, the ball also has a third autograph which I got before the two Phils ones. The third autograph-Butch Huskey.

  3. rob

    February 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    In the 80’s my friends and I used to hangout hours before the games and get all the players. I am trying to read some of the names I have……..Samuel, Hayes, Jeff Stone, Glenn Wilson, Ricky Jordan, Tommie Herr, Schmidt, Ozzie Virgil. The vet was great for those pregame autographs. Usually only a handful of people were there waiting for players to get out of the players parking lot and walk into the stadium.

  4. MikeMc26

    February 22, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    My sister managed to get Hamels, Utley, Madson, and Romero’s autos on one baseball at the same game! I was pretty jealous hahaa.

    Not an autograph story, but my other sister was chatting with the grounds crew guys at CBP before a game last summer as they were putting down the rightfield chalkline and they let her onto the field to help them put down a section of chalk, it was pretty cool of them. I always miss all the good auto/cool experience chances though! hahaa

  5. Justin

    February 22, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    In 1996 during fan fest my father purchased a helmet with the 96 All Star Game emblem on it. I had gotten a few autographs of some of the players that played in that game most notably Tony Gwynn and Greg Maddux, but the moment that took the cake for me was one day in ’98 I believe when the Orioles came to town and everyone was lined up on the 3rd base line waiting for Cal Ripken to finish his workouts to come over and sign for the line. Cal came right over to me and stopped first with me and I just thought that was the greatest moment that he walked right to me, signed my all star helmet. To this day i still possess that helmet with some amazing names on and a few guys that had like one or two great season (aka Brady Anderson, and Roger Pavlik).

  6. Gavin

    February 22, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I got Pete Rose, Phil Niekro, and Gaylord Perry on the same ball.

    My buddy and I got to go up to the orioles booth one time for some reason and I thought we’d get Palmers autograph. We ended up getting some former catcher’s autograph. We tossed it in the trash when we left. 🙂

  7. Rich Corr

    February 22, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    An autograph story… We’re early for a nite game sitting down the right field line. Players are doing sprints and getting loose and this little kid comes running up to try and get an autograph but no none pays attention because he’s so small . Mom’s back about 20 rows and telling the kid to keep yelling… Well I finally get Jim Eisenreich’s attention and point to the little kid… Well low and behold he comes over and signs .. Giving me the evil eye after every 5 -6 autographs he signs all the way down to the doughout… I was just trying to help the little kid get something he could cherish for a long time… I always liked Jim anyway but now I’m happy for the kid…

  8. Jeff

    February 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I have a ton of autograph stories, most relating to the Phillies, but my favorite involves Dave Hollins. My cousin and I would wait after every game we went to, often til 3am or so. We were usually the last people there, even all of the players had left (we waited just to make sure no one else was there).
    I must have gotten everyone on the team at least 10 times those years, except Dykstra who was elusive. But the one I thought was the best was Dave Hollins. One night he walked out of the tunnel and a group of 30-40 people were waiting, which was normal for that time of night. I had my place along the wall at the end of the tunnel and asked “Mr. Hollins” for his autograph. He happened to be carrying his wallet. He handed his wallet to me and said “sure, if you can hold this for me”, so I did. He proceeded to sign my card, then looked at it as he handed it back to me and said “i hoped I signed the right name, I am pretty drunk right now” and started to walk away. He stopped at the next person to sign, so I calmly reminded him that I had his wallet. He didn’t ask for it back until he had signed 3-4 more.

    At 35 years old now, I still go to Spring Training for autographs (although usually Arizona since all the teams are so close), but those years with the Phillies will always be my favorite times.

  9. Jason B.

    February 22, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Mike Lieberthal hit his first MLB home run into the Dodgers bullpen. My dad and I were sitting along the third base line, out by left field. The guys in the Dodgers pen threw the ball out into the stands and my dad kinda reached up and snagged it. When the Phils came out onto to the field, Milt Thomson came over to the railing and signaled the usher down. Next thing I know, the Usher is waving us down to the railing. Milt Thomson had grabbed one of the bats off of the rack, and explained to us that Lieby signed the bat, but would like to trade us for the ball. My dad was like HELL YEAH. So we swapped ball for bat with Milt, who also signed the bat. One of my greatest days ever as a child. That bat is still one of the most important non living things in my life and is proudly displayed in my sports room under my framed Lieberthal Jersey.

  10. Brian Michael

    February 22, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I went to Photo Night when I was like 8 and got a picture with Milt Thompson. The next day I saw him at a baseball card show and when I went up to get his autograph he said, “Hey, I remember you from last night.” That was so cool.

    Also, in 1993 me and my sister saw Pete Incavaglia and Darren Daulton outside of Joe Robbie stadium. They pulled over to throw out some trash and when we ran up and asked for their autograph, Dutch turned to Pete and said, “Come on, let’s get outta here.” That was not so cool.

  11. Jason B.

    February 22, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    BM: That was the worst. I had an expirience with Reggie Jackso, the year he was inducted in cooperstown that made me realize that some ball players can be real A-holes, however, I had met Milt before and since at spring training, and I will say, that dude is a class act.

  12. Greg V.

    February 22, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Good autograph memories.

    One was last year when Chris Coste was signing his book at Barnes and Noble. Easily the most friendly ball player I had ever met. He chatted it up with everyone in the long line and it was a pleasure to be there.

    Another was in 1997 (Haha! Remember 1997?) when a bunch of Phillies went to King of Prussia Mall, including the little known rookie named Scott Rolen who would shortly be on his way to becoming the next Mike Schmidt. Obviously, we know how that turned out but at the time it was cool. Other autographs from that event: Tyler Greene, John Vukovitch, and Ruben Amaro Jr.!

  13. Jax

    February 22, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I have been a Stairs fan since he played for the Harrisburg Senators, and have collected his cards, photos and such… But I am a Philly gal, born on Broad Street, so the Phils are always number 1… but when the Jays played the Phillies at CBP just prior to the season opener last year, I had tickets to each of the 3 games, and the 3 inter-league games as well, all in hopes of getting his autograph on his 91 Harrisburg Senators card, and my Jays cap. I waited by the dug out all 3 games of preseason, with no luck. The security folks by the visitors dug out got to recognize me and did their best to help out, when the inter-league games took place… I waited again, through all 3 games, and rain… the last game, I stood, umbrella in hand, waiting… and just before the game started… as I was getting ready to leave and go to my seat… who pops up out of the Jays dugout and says “Are you the lady who’s been looking for me?” I was speechless…other than “OH MY GOD! ITS MATT STAIRS!!” He smiled and laughed, and asked me what I had… I think I was tongue tied… but I had a hat, a card and a ball, whatever he wanted to sign was fine by me, or even if he didn’t want to sign anything! He chuckled and said, just toss ’em down… and I did… along with a sharpie and a ball point pen… he signed everything and handed them back… and thanked me!! Matt Stairs THANKED ME! Wow… I wasn’t that speechless when I’ve talked to rock stars! When he was traded to the Phillies, I did the dance of joy! My most favorite player on my most favorite team- FINALLY!

  14. Greg V.

    February 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    And then, “STAIRS SENDS ONE INTO THE NIGHT……..” for the Phils in the NLCS!

  15. trini

    February 22, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I went to Spring Training last year, and hoped to get some good autorgraphs. I was hanging out along the 3rd baseline waiting for the players to come out. I had gotten there extra early to get a good spot. Well, all the big names came out and went to a different spot. They signed for at least a couple minutes for the kids, but Jayson Werth came strolling on by and refused to sign, not even for a child. At the time, he was still a nobody, and i thought “ohh who the hell is this guy thinking hes too good to sign.” I still think hes Werthless!!!

  16. Brendan

    February 22, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I had early access to the park because a family friend was a guard at the press gate at the VET.

    Im gonna say 1982 or 1983 I was the ONLY kid (10years old) in the stands behind home plate during BP.

    I was trying to get Willie Mcgee to sign my ball.

    Ozzie Smith told him “Hey rook we dont sign for white people”

    I’ll never forget it. And McGee didnt sign my ball

  17. sean

    February 23, 2009 at 12:18 am

    These stories are great. I got season tickets this year and have a few nephews who are getting old enough to appreciate the game, pick their favorite players, etc. I’ve never tried to get an autograph at a game before, but I’d like to take them down and try. So what’s the protocol at CBP? Can we just go early for BP and walk down to the field and wait for autographs?

  18. Amanda

    February 23, 2009 at 1:12 am

    well i went to the phillies carnival and to the photo day so i have hamels, lidge, myers, madson, coste and have pictures with hamels, lidge, jc romero, pat burrell, geoff jenkins, coste, bruntlett, & howard. I couldnt get chase or jimmy i have to find a way to get them this year

  19. Paul

    February 23, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Spring training 1978 Clearwater. As an 11 year old it was great to be able to be so close to my Phillie favorites. We were there early and I am still taken back by how friendly everyone was. Then second baseman, Ted Sizemore chatted with my dad, asking where we were from and how our trip was. I was able to get all the Phillies to sign my baseball that I still treasure to this day. Steve Carlton was kind, and it was a highlight to meet my hero Mike Schmidt after he had his turn in the cage as he signed my baseball.

  20. J cole

    February 23, 2009 at 1:53 am

    I have a son, who is now 4, but before he got too big, we would be able to take him in without a ticket. At the ‘pen, before they wouldn’t let you hang out, we would hang out and because of my son, I have a Madson ball, Romero ball and Myers ball. The Madson one is all smudged, but the others are clean. Kids do it every time.

  21. Zach L

    February 23, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Last year at spring training I got Howard, Vic, Charlie Manuel, and Wes Helms to sign the same ball prior to a game vs. the yanks.

  22. Phil

    February 23, 2009 at 3:12 am

    this isnt baseball but my aunt used to work for the flyers and my favorite player was mark recchi. she introduced me to him for my bday and he signrd a card thst said happy birthday phil

  23. Rob Cowie

    February 23, 2009 at 3:37 am

    My grandpop got a foul ball during BP and Dale Murphy signed it as he went out to warm up in the outfield.

    As an old man of 23 now, i find it odd as an adult to ask other adult for his signature. I saw J Roll at Sarcone’s over the summer and gave him a whats up and shook his hand. We conversed for five minutes about our fav hoagies and that was that. I didnt wanna talk ball with him because quite frankly, who likes to talk about their job when they are out of work.

    I go to BP a lot before games and sometimes im lucky enough to snag a ball or two. I always give the ball to a little kid just because it means more to them than it would me. The way i figure it is, i have about three dozens baseballs in a bucket in my basement, so im not really hurting for any.

  24. Mazinman

    February 23, 2009 at 7:00 am

    The Autograph story I most remember was going to Mike Schidmt night at the Vet after he had retired. I got a bunch of players to sign the giveaway they had for that night. A little bit later, after we have left, I discovered that my little sister had taken the booklette to doodle on the back, wrecking several of the signatures. As you can all imagine I was not pleased. I still have it around which, now, gives me some laughs as I look back at it.

  25. Jason B.

    February 23, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Awesome stories. You’re right, once I hit the age of 18, I figured i was too old to ask for autographs. Felt kinda wierd. Now i have a 5 year old, and soon, he’ll get the autograph bug, as he’s the 2nd biggest phils phan I know.(Next to me)

  26. Chuck P

    February 23, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Very cool stories… good job, everyone.

    Not a Phils story… I’m a Steelers fan. I inherited it from my uncle who is a die-hard. A few years ago, I went with him as he attended his first Steelers game. We stayed in the hotel where all of the the players were required to stay before games… one of the coolest experiences ever. We hung out in the lobby all night drinking, buying beers for coaches/staff and getting autographs… got a few good ones (Louis Lipps, Deshea Townsend, Tommy Maddox). But my uncle was on a mission; he shares a name with his favorite (ex) Steeler, Joey Porter, and wanted to get his autograph on a customized saw-blade (he’s a mason and he had it hand-painted with the Steelers emblem… really impressive). Anway, we got really friendly with the bar-tender and a guy at the bar who claimed to know everyone (a Steelers PR guy)… after buying drinks and telling our story, the guy makes a phone call and the next thing you know we’re being escorted up into Joey’s hotel room (Joey was playing cards with James Farrior and a couple of other players). My uncle is speechless… all he can say is, “Kick their ass tomorrow, Joey.” I got a picture signed and that was awesome but seeing my uncle awe-struck was something that I will never forget.

  27. Jason B.

    February 23, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Dude, that is a great story…. Too bad it was the Steelers, but I don’t judge.

  28. Mark

    February 23, 2009 at 11:30 am

    About 12 – 13 years ago, my brother bought me a baseball signed by the whole 1980 World Series championship team. Then this year, my bro bought me that World Series commemorative Louisville bat. I have both items at my home, in protective cases, dawning my Phillies wall along with my framed “we win” newspaper, 2008 NL East banner they gave away at the opener, and other Phillies items.

    I have a good brother.

  29. Mark

    February 23, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Oh, good Pat Burrell story. My sisters friend has a husband who is in jail. Well, she was out at the Irish pub one night, and what do ya know, Pat Burrell was there too. Long story short, Pat Burrell did her dirty while her husband sat in jail. I doubt he knew that but, regardless, nice job Pat.

    It’s not an autograph but, close to it. lol

  30. JPK

    February 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I used to collect autographs as a kid. I even got autographs at minor league games!!! But my best story was back in 1994 at the Vet.

    My friends and I were waiting at the players exit after the game for about a half hour. And while waiting I had left the cap off of my marker. Jim Eisenreich was the first play to come out and he came right up to me and my friends. He took my marker and baseball card and tried to sign, but the MARKER WAS DRIED OUT!!!! I guess he saw the distraught look on my face and promptly grabbed someone else’s marker and signed my card. He gave my marker back to me with my card and told me if I put the cap back on the marker for a while it might work again.

    I’ll never forget that and what a stand up guy Jim Eisenreich was!!! He took an extra step to give me an autograph!!!

  31. BTS

    February 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    When i was a little kid my buddies dad took me and him real early one day to the vet to get the players as they were walking in. Burrell signed for 4 people. me my buddy and my buddies dad and guess who the other one was. A complete knockout blonde with his jersey on.. thought it was pretty cool that he only signed for 4 people and we were 3 of them

  32. Phan in TN

    February 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I almost got autographs…

    NJ mall and I saw the Phillies Phanatic and the mummer string band walking around. I high-fived the phanatic (of course) and looked down to the lower level of the mall. Wayne Gomes, Leiby, and Scott Rolen were sitting at a table.

    I have season tickets at the Vet, section 525 and never went down to the field before games…don’t really know why.

  33. Chuck P

    February 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Pat Burrell aka Don Juan… we’re gonna miss that a$$ in LF.

  34. Soss

    February 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Here’s the short version. Mark Portugal walked right passed me (when I was a kid) a long with everyone else and just went to his car. Rico Brogna stood by to finish eating his peach. Then stayed and gave his autograph to everyone who wanted it.

  35. Patsy's Mom

    February 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Setting: Spring Training, 2007. I have never really tried too hard to get autographs, but have been luckiest at Spring Training. Always heard Pat Burrell was tough to get, and never saw much of an opportunity. This particular day, I decided to hang out along the 3rd base line during BP with the rest of the hounds. Well, I nearly fainted as Pat the Bat actually started signing. Unbelievable. This was my 5th year at Spring Training and the first time I EVER saw him sign. I was right in the front row, handed him the ball and pen and the rest is history. Can you say “secretly hyperventilating”? Also got Ryan Howard his rookie year at an away Spring Training game. FUN STUFF!

  36. ashmidt

    February 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    i send cards to ex phillies with a nice letter and a sase, i could probably tell you the signing habits of every ex phillie. one of the best and fastest to return the cards was whitey ashburn, he was simply awesome. i usually ask them a question to see if they answer it. the coolest answer i got was from hugh [ lo osing pitcher ] mulcahy . he sat down and wrote me a three page letter, i will cherish that forever.

  37. Laurie

    February 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Although I do not have any really exciting autograph stories, I have a Photo Day story that I love to tell. My favorite all-time Phillie is and will always be Aaron Rowand. In 2006 I attended Photo Day at Citizen’s Bank Park and got up close and personal with Aaron Rowand. I got my picture taken with him and I quickly tried to think of something to say to him. A sweatband on his arm caught my eye that said “Beer Pong Champs”. I asked “What’s up with the sweatband?” and he replied, “Ah, I guess I’m still stuck in college.” I think that solidified my love for A Row.

  38. KidCarnivore

    February 24, 2009 at 12:42 am

    For what it’s worth, Darren Daulton is signing autographs in Lancaster on March 28th, $3 to get in, $10 for the autograph.

  39. Elroy

    February 24, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Back in the early 90’s when I was around 9 or 10 my dad had left-field seats right on the field from his work. He took me to a game one day when the Phils were playing the A’s (Ricky Henderson and Lenny Dykstra were the respective left-fielders that day). Before each inning after he was done warming up I called his name hoping he would toss me a ball. However, each time another kids voice was heard over mine. Finally, before the top of the 8th, Ricky looked my way and sent a ball over towards me. Before I could reach the ball, a bigger kid swooped down and grabbed it in front of me. Seeing this, Ricky waited until the turn of the inning and- unbeknowst to me= went over to Lenny Dystrak and gave him a box. When the Phils took the field next, Dykstra came over to me and handed me the box with Ricky Henderson’s batting gloves inside. I never got to thank Ricky, but it was a great gesture from a hall of famer.

  40. Robert Smith

    May 2, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Interesting article here, well written and much to think about. I wound up in a discussion with my wife over this subject earlier.

  41. Tracey Green

    June 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    My first Phillies autographs were from Larry Bowa, Don Money and Denny Doyle all after a game with the Expos. I was 12 and I still have the Arco photographs in the attic in a scrapebook.

  42. Joe

    November 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I attended spring training this past March, and was quite successful in getting players to sign a 2008 World Series Ball. My ultimate goal is to get everyone from the team to sign it. Anyway, I must say the most gracious signer was Jamie Moyer, who must have signed for an hour and a half on St. Patricks Day. Other good signers included J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton, and, believe it or not, Cole Hamels. He signed for about 45 minutes the day after he got his elbow examined. Raul Ibanez also signed two of the days I was there.

    BAD SIGNERS: Ryan Howard. Never stopped. Wouldn’t even look at you. Greg Dobbs. Never stopped. And ERIC BRUNTLETT. Never even ackknowledged the fans. Dude, you’re ERIC BRUNTLETT! You’re not Chase Utley or anything.

    As an aside, when the Cards were in Clearwater, Albert Pujols must have signed for an hour.

  43. Don M

    November 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Howard signs a lot … he probably did two hours the next day..

    These guys dont do autographs every single day.. a lot of times they have schedules to keep too.

    Workouts, check-ups, etc..

  44. Joe

    November 17, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Understood….I was there three straight home games, and while I’ve heard that Howard signs, he completely shunned the fans all three days I was there. Just what I saw.

  45. Trent Locklear

    May 28, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Michael Jordan is still an idol to hundreds of thousands if not millions of kids all over the world. Now that takes someone special to do that so long after he has retired.

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