Those of us that have been following the comments in Sherm’s latest post know that it’s gotten into a heated battle about autograph hounds. Those that haven’t read it should, or read this Cliff Notes version:
A Father and his son were at Spring Training. The morning before their flight they headed over to Cubs camp just to see what was going on. Carlos Zambrano, was out riding a bike, and the son approached him with a jersy to sign. Carlos rode past them without acknowledgement.
Classy move? Definitely not. Acceptable? Absolutely. I don’t see anywhere in any of these players contracts that state they must sign autographs at whatever time someone deems appropriate. Carlos was at an early morning workout, and most likely didn’t expect an autograph hound. I certainly wouldn’t. Nor would I want to be approached at that time in the morning.
I was raised with the idea that these professional athletes are people. People with personal lives, that most of the time they’d like to have. I distinctly remember eating at Chi-Chi’s on Lake Cook Road, shortly after Superbowl XX, and Mike Singeltary walked in with his wife. I was beside myself, Samarai Mike was eating at the table across from us. I asked my Dad if we could say hello, and he told my sister and I, “No. Let him eat dinner with his wife. This is not the time to bother him.” Within minutes a man and his son walked up and asked Mike for a autograph. His response? “Please. I’m trying to have a quiet dinner with my wife. If you must have one, wait for me in the lobby.” It struck a chord with me, and I’ve been respectful of athletes and their personal space ever since.
I’ve been pretty blessed with one on one encounters with pro athletes. I’ve hung around many Bulls players during their hayday while sipping coffee at Barnes and Noble. I personally attended to Phil Jackson while he shopped for hobby gifts for his sons. For a few years, I followed my friend to a local restaurant where WWE wrestlers hung out after shows. Same thing, we would wait around and just watch. Many times they’d start to talk to us. Partially because they recognized my buddy for the years he’d been doing the same ritual. The only autographs I’ve ever asked for, was Mickey Morandini, and that was at the post 9-11 game where that was why he was there. And the fact that everywhere I go Mickey seems to be there, so it turned into a running joke with a friend of mine. I’ve never understood the excitement over obtaining autographs. Maybe I’m missing something. Or maybe, I know how much I like my personal space, so I let them have theirs.