I arrived in time to head into the VIP lounge, watch the auctions - something or other went for $10,000 - and stand in a few fairly fast lines to meet Bill Madlock, Don Kessinger and Dick Fosbury - Flop Master.
Madlock, a four-time batting champ, was one of my favorites as a kid. While there's an assembly line feel to the signings, Madlock occasionally took a second to chat. When my turn came, he loved the fact I presented one certain card that I'll discuss in a future post for him to sign.
He signed a ball and two cards (and more later). I only handed over the ball but after he signed it he saw the two cards in my hand and asked if I wanted him to sign them too. But of course...
I then joined the Kessinger line and had him sign one card. He's a very folksy sort and seemed to enjoy talking to people - although he kept the line moving. After he signed, the line behind us (me and a fellow collector I got to chatting with in line) was just 10 deep so we hopped back in for another auto. Might send one to my Dad. Can't remember if he was a Kessinger fan - only know he really liked Banks and Billy Williams. Of course, neither were Cub cards.
After this, I looked over and saw that just one guy remained in the Dick Fosbury line. I hopped over and pulled out a note card - didn't have anything else for him. He signed it "Dick Fosbury, '68 Gold." He too was very kind.
And finally, at this point, with just a handful left in Madlock's line, I pulled out the two other Madlock cards I brought along and he signed them and made another joke about the other card I had him sign earlier (again, more about that when I have a scan of it).
I had no intention of getting more than one auto from each but after the initial fray I think many had left to head into the show once it got going, so the auto pickings then were too easy. I brought along some treasured cards from my youth collection so it was extra neat to have those signed.
After this I headed into the show. Huge! I walked around and picked up several of the giveaway packs offered by Topps, Panini, Upper Deck, etc. (and I've yet to take a look at them). I then hopped into the Lee Smith auto line. This was insanely long but I decided to stay the course. Lee's line took forever because he engaged practically everyone in conversation. Lee also was willingly signing as many items as you'd hand him. I had brought along two cards and had one baseball left that I had brought from home. He signed them all.
Side note: A guy two people behind me decided to complain pretty rudely to one of the guys with Freedom Cardboard - irritated that the line took so long and something or other about how they should speed up Lee Smith. Me and the FC guy shared a look about that guy and laughed. Seriously, what a weird thing to complain about - how nice the auto guest is being.
I was done with autos at this point as I had heard the Billy Pierce line was very long too. Still, I decided to walk over there just in case. At this point, after the long Smith wait, the Pierce line was just three deep! So, I yanked out the Topps Archives card I brought along and the helper smeared off the shine and Mr. Pierce signed away.
The guy in front of me asked him what it was like to win Rookie of the Year. This, naturally, confused Mr. Pierce. As for me, I want to thank Ryan LaMonica here for sending that card to me just last week. I didn't have another Pierce card to bring when I checked the signers list last night.
I spent the remainder of the night shopping around. I snagged a couple of cards for my player collections and I'll likely write later about them and whatever else of note I pick up.
The funny thing about all of this autograph business is that I'm not an autograph kind of guy. I get a little uncomfortable asking grown men for their signatures. I haven't done that in 11 years at a White Sox charity comedy night where you were actually expected to get autographs. Chasing autos is fine for many but it's not my bag. Of course, today, one wouldn't realize how I really feel.
And, I have a few more free auto tickets to redeem so perhaps I'll get one or two more before this thing is over. Why not? This whole thing is a birthday present from my wife. Got to get her money's worth.
I have my eye on two particular names on the free list. Stay tuned.