When the New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady was eight years old, he found himself in the San Francisco Giants’ locker room, where he asked Chili Davis, a star for the team at the time, for an autograph. Davis refused, but said, “Maybe later, kid, maybe if you come by after the game.”
So the young Brandy stuck around, and after the game he re-approached his favorite player, only to be refused again with a “No, I’m not signing autographs after the game.”
The effect stuck with Brady, both in terms of the disappointment it brought him and in Brady’s future outlook on autographs when he found himself in similar situations.
“I certainly was hurt,” Brady told Tuff Stuff magazine. “But at the same time, I was in the guy’s clubhouse and now I look at it from a different perspective than I did when I was that age. At the time, though, it seemed like such a little request.”
One would expect that walking into the Patriot’s locker room and asking for autographs might be a fast way to get your butt kicked, but there are certain ways you can position yourself in the autograph-giver’s radar.
First, you must have something to sign. Having a player sign you arm may seem like a fun idea at the time–and they may well oblige–but it’s largely a pointless act since you’re going to eventually wash it off. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re not going straight to the tattoo parlor to have a tattoo artist trace the autograph, don’t bother with body signing. Always carry a good-quality pen. What’s the point of handing a player something to sign if you don’t give him the means to do so?
Next, know who the heck you’re talking to. If you can call him by name, or say something that shows you have taken an interest in him, he’s going to look at you more sympathetically than some fan with a Giant “P” painted on his beer gut.
The next important thing to remember is location, location, location. It is far easier to get a player to sign something from a front row seat than from a seat in the second balcony. If you do get a good seat and also get to the game early, you can try to talk to the players as they walk by. If you can get a guy in conversation for a while, you might just end up with a few players stopping by to chat.
Sometimes a player will star signing autographs and a crowd will quickly form. This is another reason to get there early. Fighting a crowd for signatures–or worse–being in your seat as dozens of people start crowding around you, is likely to get you more than annoyed.
If you can learn where the players enter into and out of the stadium, that’s another great place to find them ready to sign, pose for photos, and shake hands. If they’re not in a hurry, they’re far more likely to stick around for a while.
There’s also always the traditional way of getting an autograph: write away for it. Most team clubs will accept mail and forward it on to the player. When writing an athlete for an autograph, the same rules apply for any mailed autograph request:
* Always include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE).
* Enclose a photo and/or an index cards for the player to sign.
* Do not send food, money, or gifts.
* Always include a letter acknowledging the player and his accomplishments.
* Be patient.
Sending Fan Mail:
To send fan mail to a football player, simply write him at his team’s address.