Even if I have never met you before or have never even spoken with you before, I already know two things about you:
1) You are very passionate about baseball because if you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now,
2) You probably have some type of passion within your passion for baseball, such as memorabilia collecting, score keeping, ballpark hopping, etc.
For me, my passion within my passion (not counting this blog site, that is) is my absolute love for getting baseballs autographed, especially by Dodger players past and present. But let’s be very clear about one thing right up front – my passion for getting baseballs autographed has absolutely nothing to do with trying to make a quick buck off of them on eBay or anywhere else. No, my passion for getting baseballs autographed is for one reason and one reason only – for my love of the game. My collection of autographed baseballs is exactly that – my collection of autographed baseballs – period.
Over the years, I have come to know many other autograph collectors, whether it be of baseballs, baseball cards, bats, jerseys, photographs or whatever; and one thing that every one of them and I have in common is that acquiring an autograph from someone whom you desperately want one from is an absolute rush. It’s like… well, I can’t even describe what it’s like but I can tell you one thing – there is nothing that makes me feel more like a kid again - nothing.
I probably have in excess of 500 autographed baseballs in my collection; and while most of them are current and former Dodgers and Dodger minor leaguers, I have quite a few that are not. I also have maybe a dozen or so that I purchased on eBay or while visiting Cooperstown. Why did I buy them, you ask? Well, with all due respect, it’s kind of difficult to get a Don Drysdale or Johnny Podres or Jose Lima autograph these days, if you follow me. I also purchased baseballs signed by Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr., Mariano Rivera, Cal Ripken Jr., Yogi Berra and Nolan Ryan because, quite frankly, I probably won’t get the opportunity to get baseballs personally signed by any of them before either they or I… well… you know. And should I actually get baseballs personally autographed by them, then and only then would I sell the ones that I purchased.
So, out of my 500 or so autographed baseballs, which is the most precious to me? Well, there are actually two of them and they are in a class all of their own – these two:
As for the two most precious autographed baseballs that I purchased, well that’s a no-brainer, it would be these two:
As deep as my passion is for collecting autographed baseball, I have several friends who are equally passionate about collecting baseball cards, perhaps none greater that my good friend Harold Uhlman from Nova Scotia, Canada. Harold estimates his baseball card collection at more than 30,000, many of which are current and former Dodgers. But unlike most baseball card collectors, Harold is huge into collecting baseball cards of up and coming Dodger prospects. Because of my close proximity to the Dodgers Advanced Single-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and, of course, the fact that I usually spend a week or more in Glendale, AZ during spring training each year, I am in a position to occasionally get some of his Dodger prospect cards autographed for him. Man, talk about a rush! Not only do I get to enjoy the pursuit and thrill of getting the autographs, but he gets autographed cards from some of his favorite prospects. It’s a win-win proposition, that’s for sure.
In addition to Harold’s passion for collecting baseball cards of current and future Dodgers, he is also (hands down) the biggest Duke Snider fan on the planet. Harold recently told me that he currently has 117 Duke Snider baseball cards, several of which are autographed. And Harold isn’t finished yet – he has 32 more Duke Snider cards on the way. Talk about feeling like a kid again!
I have another friend, John Chavez, who I met at Camelback Ranch during spring training two years ago and I ran into him again this past spring training as well. John is a die-hard Dodger fan who lives in Phoenix. John’s passion within his passion is getting bats and jerseys autographed. Although it took him nearly three years to do, John was finally able to get Kirk Gibson to sign a bat and a Dodgers number 23 jersey, which he plans to put into a shadowbox for display (how cool is that!). You would think that getting Gibson to sign these things would have been relatively easy for John since he lives in Phoenix, but he quickly found that Gibson is a bit of an eccentric and was extremely reluctant to sign a Dodger jersey. “I’m not with the Dodgers anymore,” he scolded John on his first (unsuccessful) attempt to get it signed at spring training two years ago. But persistence (and politeness) paid off and Gibby eventually signed it for him.
Whether its baseballs, cards, bats, jerseys, photograph or whatever, collecting autographs is definitely a very passionate hobby.
So what’s your passion within your passion?