Let me tell you right from the git-go that I am not a person that seeks autographs. I don’t understand the fascination with it. I am bit appalled that many only want them to get them to sell them on E-Bay I have 2 or 3 from my youth and not even sure where they are.
This weekend is the St Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-up. Part of this happening will be the players signing autographs for a price. Don’t rip me yet or quit reading as I know that the autograph fee goes to a charity known as Cardinals Care. That is great. I want to talk about outside of this and the demand some fans make of players time. Standing around trying to get the signature and getting irritated when the players have little time for them is what I am talking about.
In researching this topic I found a 2009 newspaper article written by Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle. He writes about a fan describing Lance Berkman going out of his way to avoid fans. Let me give you a few excerpts from that article.
”I have to get this off my chest, and maybe you can help me understand. I just got back from my second consecutive trip to Astros Spring Training. Nearly all of the guys are friendly, willing to talk, sign autographs, take pictures, etc. All except Lance Berkman, that is. It seems that on the way to the dugout from the clubhouse, and after he leaves each game, Lance goes out of his way to avoid the fans. He takes the 4 wheeler back with the field crew, or takes the long way around, just to not have to “deal” with his fans.
”Last year, a woman yelled out to Lance to sign something, and he yelled back that he promised he would after the game. The lady said “that is what you promised me yesterday”. And Lance said “I never used the word promise”, and walked off.
”Lance has always been viewed as one of good guys on the team by fans, and really a fan favorite. But the more I see this attitude from him, the more it discourages me. Hunter and Carlos and Miguel will stay for 30 minutes after every game, sign a ton of balls, hats, etc, knowing that fans traveled 1,200 miles to see them. Why does Berkman take this approach? He is a great player, but does he think he is too good for his fans?
This makes him look like a big jerk. It appears that Berkman has no care for the fan as is a bad person. What does Justice say about knowing him as a person?
Fans feel players owe them their time since they pay the bills. Drayton McLane and Commissioner Selig strongly believe players should sign autographs because it’s partly being an ambassador of the game and partly doing the right thing for kids.
On the other hand, players feel a larger number of fans get autographs for the purpose of selling them. I know players that answer every piece of fan mail and others that throw the stuff away.
I’m not going to defend Berkman. You’ve seen a different slice of the guy than I’ve seen. I can only tell you that in my three decades, I’ve never been around a better person.
He also works far harder and cares far more than he lets people know. He allows the Fat Elvis thing to perpetuate even though he’s neither fat nor Elvis. In the ways we measure jocks, he’s at the front of almost every line.
So for my point. Players have a job to do and it doesn’t include placating the fans with incessant yelling of their name aorasking for a picture of a signature. Leave them alone. You can be a nice guy and not give autographs.
Welcome to the Cardinals, Lance Berkman.