Friday, January 28, 2011

SMALLS TALK: The Art of the Autograph

I have been practicing my autograph since 6th grade science class. It wasn't so much because I thought I was going to be famous or have adoring fans to please, I just appreciated the look of a consistent and clean signature. I saw how my Dad signed his checks, how my Mom signed a note- it was the same every time. I was in awe of this stamp-like script they were able to reproduce to exact specifications time after time- I couldn't do that. In the hundreds of signatures that filled my science notebook, maybe three of them looked somewhat similar. But I spent hours of class time practicing, searching for that perfect mix of visual appeal, legibility, and easiness to repeat. I hated science.

I never really imagined there'd come a time when I was asked for my autograph on a consistent basis. Sure, the majority of the fans asking don't know my name or position- but I'm wearing a professional baseball uniform, and if that's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me.

The autograph is a bond between player and fan- a moment in time when a piece of apparel or equipment changes hands and serves as the focal point of a quick one-on-one connection. The autographs of most players won't wind up on Ebay as potential nest eggs, but will be placed on shelves or in scrapbooks- a memory of a great day at the ballpark.

Just as my swing has improved since becoming a pro, my autograph has flourished as well. I toyed with several variations in Rookie Ball, and finally landed on what I feel is a winner. Through repetition, I have been able to master this signature and transplant it onto even the oddest of surfaces- balls, T-shirts, hat brims, gloves, and my personal favorite, biceps, to name a few.

They say a person's signature is as unique to them as a fingerprint- perhaps that's why forging my Dad's name on a sick note in middle school was so rarely successful. But as defining as it is, you get to pick it. So don't be a scribbler- we've all gotten autographs in the past that we now look back on without any idea whose name is written. Much like a walkout song, find an autograph that's 'you' and share it with whoever asks. After baseball, you're not going to have fans hanging over your desk, pleading for a signature and a moment of interaction- but for now, you're a hero. Enjoy it.

And whatever you do, please do not write a number sign (#) - you're a pro now.

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The Ryan Howard Namesake
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Schilling's Bloody Sock
Red Sox Nation Goes Crazy, JD Drew Can't Be Bothered
Minor League Hats are the Way to Go
Who Has the Best Uniforms in College Baseball?

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