|Baseball, One Woman's Perspective # 7: Meeting your Favorite Players||| Print ||
Written by April Addington (Contact & Archive) on August 17, 2003
When I was younger, I was quite shy and I used music, writing, and drama to break out of my shell. Like many people, when I meet someone new, I am rather quiet and reserved until I get to know them better. Over the years it has gotten much easier for me and it doesn't take long before I am striking up a conversation with a total stranger, especially about my biggest passion in life, baseball.
In 1996, I attended a game at Coors Field with a friend and I was fighting an internal battle as to whether or not I should attempt to get an autograph. My friend encouraged me to try so that I could have a souvenir from our trip. Off we went down by the Rockies dugout, which is along first base line. We waited with other fans for the Rockies players to come out. Eventually they came out and we watched as they took their batting practice. We learned from a Coors Field usher that the players will often sign autographs right after they are done with BP. Sure enough, when they were finished one of their pitchers, Steve Reed, began signing. Always being one to use "Please" and "Thank You", I held out a baseball and a pen for Steve when he came to us. He came closer and I was feeling a bit intimidated at the time, but once he greeted us I felt a little more at ease. He signed my friend’s hat, since she did not have a baseball. He struck up a conversation with us and soon, I found myself talking right along with him! I asked him to please sign my ball and thanked him when he agreed to. That was all it took to break me out of my intimidation phase.
After that day, I wanted to meet more players and I went to many games at Coors Field. I met some really good people at the games and they introduced me to some of the players that they knew from the Rockies. I was very awestruck I when I met Dante Bichette and Larry Walker for the very first time since they are players I have admired for a quite a while. At one time, I followed the Montreal Expos – at least up until they broke up what I thought was their best lineup ever. And Dante Bichette is someone that I had been following ever since his days with the Angels. Those are just two of the many big names I have met and become acquainted with throughout the years. Curtis Leskanic, Dave Veres, Mike DeJean, and the late Darryl Kile became like brothers to my three friends and I.
After a while, the players come to know who the diehard fans are and many of them form lasting friendships with them. This is the case with me and several players that I have befriended. To this day, there are some who have since been traded or picked up via the waivers and when I see them, they still remember me and will come over to say hello and catch up on things.
It doesn't take much to meet the players, but they really seem to appreciate good manners. Some are real sticklers; if you do not use good manners, some will even refuse to sign for you. There are days where they are great about signing and there are days when they'd rather be left alone. Everyone is human and we all have days like that.
You don't always have to be at the ballpark in order to meet the players; many of them make public appearances at charity events such as golf tournaments or attend car dealership autograph appearances, etc. But if you stumble upon a player eating in a restaurant with his family, the most respectful thing to do if you want to meet them or to obtain their autograph is to let them eat first and have the time to enjoy their meal with their family. Afterward, it is safe to make your entrance or approach. Again, good manners are key.
If you are at a game and a player you like from the opposing team is there, you can always go to their side of the field to obtain your autographs or to meet them. Nothing says that you can't do this. Just be warned of other fans that can and will make it tough to get to the players sometimes.
Sometimes, the players will stop outside the stadium gates before and after games. These present good times to meet and greet players, depending on their moods. If they are in a hurry to get into the park and just wave as they go by, it's not a good time. Their minds are usually on the game. If they stop, that is a good time to introduce yourself, ask for an autograph, shake their hand, etc. Sometimes they'll even be happy to accommodate a picture with you also. It's times like these that can make a lasting memory, but it's the friendships that are even more precious.
As I have stated in previous articles, befriending a player while they are in the minors is always good because if they make it to the major leagues then you have some very valuable memories of them. You can look back and remember them when you first met them and you can remember seeing them before they made it to “The Show”.
Spring Training presents another very good opportunity to meet the players, both minor league and pro. The guys are so much more accessible during that time of year and some will actually take more time to get to know the fans then. It is so much harder once the real season gets into full swing to get a lot of time with your favorites.
You really must take advantage of any opportunity that you have to get to know the players. You never know when you'll see them again too. The way trades and releases come and go in this game, if you don't take a risk and lose the intimidation, you'll miss your chance. Grab life by the horns and go for it!!!