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Old 01-14-2018, 09:52 PM
ronniehatesjazz's Avatar
ronniehatesjazz ronniehatesjazz is offline
Tyler Smith
Tyler Sm.ith
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 607
Default Best & Worst Experience Meeting An Athlete

I'm sure this has probably been done on here but I couldn't find anything in the search. Would love to hear stories about best/worst interactions with athletes/celebrities. I'll start...


Johnny Bench (Nashville show in ~96)- Very generous with me. Took picture with me at the booth he was signing at. Later that day, after he was done signing, I saw him wandering around looking at some cards. It looked like he was just killing some time. I went up and talked to him for about 5 minutes. Nicest guy in the world and I remember being impressed with myself that I didn't get that nervous speaking with a baseball legend (was only 11 at the time). He talked so casually about baseball that it was like talking to one of my teammates dads and not a celebrity. Really great experience.

Eddie Taubensee- Signed for hours every game I went to when I was growing up. Not a superstar but still was always excited to get his autograph and he was great with the fans. Thomas Howard was also really good in regards to signing at games.


Enos Slaughter- Met him in Cooperstown when I was 9 or 10. Was real nice the first day I met him on that trip. Was signing for like $10 at one of the shops up there. Saw him the following day at a restaurant and got his auto again. Was real grouchy but signed the ball I had. Could have been the fact that I asked him while he was at lunch. He was by himself though, not eating, and the place was dead. Usually I wouldn't have asked but it was so low key I thought I would go ahead and do it. All in all not that bad.

The Worst:

Walter Payton- This one isn't even close. Huge jerk. Met him at the same show I met Johnny Bench at. Got an 8x10 signed by him in a Bears black jersey. The guy signed with a black sharpie on the black jersey. Could have signed anywhere but specifically did it to be a jerk. Was super arrogant and wouldn't even look at people. Kind of surprised because I've heard good things about him but my experience with him was just terrible.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:05 PM
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kailes2872 kailes2872 is offline
Kev1n @1les
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Pittsburgh Area
Posts: 659

Interesting about Bench. I have never met him but have met guys who have who gave very poor reviews. Second hand, of course, so take it for what is worth.

Met Dave Parker at Pirarefest a frw years ago. He was a childhood hero. He was set to sign and the line was forming. My oldest (13-14) at the time walked up with a ball and asked to sign. Dave said, Im getting ready to sign for the next half hour over there but okay. My younger son then held out the ball - he was 10 at the time and did not like to approach anyone but Conner insisted that Cam ask as well. Parker signed his. At that point a crowd started gathering and the Pirate rep said no more autos - if you want one the (long) lime forms over there.

Always loved the cobra
2018 Collecting Goals:

1952 Bowman (prefer a graded Mantle)

1970's Football and Basketball Sets
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:11 PM
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seanofjapan seanofjapan is offline
Sean McGinty
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Japan
Posts: 151


Brett Butler - in 1990 I was among a throng of kids next to the Giants dugout during BP before a game at Olympic Stadium. I gave him my card of him (1990 Donruss) and my sharpie. He signed it, then looked at the card and noticed that my pen was running low on ink and his signature didn't look too good. He said "hold on", walked over to the dugout, grabbed a new pen, signed the card again and gave it to me with a smile on his face, saying "I think you need to get a better pen, this one is running out of ink." It only took about 10 seconds, but he gratuitously gave me those 10 seconds even though he could have walked away and I've always thought the best of him since that. Also I have a cool 1990 Donruss card that has been signed by Brett Butler twice!

Honorable mention: Brooks Robinson was super nice when I got his autograph at a show, letting my friend and i come behind the table to pose for pictures with him and chatting with us a bit and just being an awesome guy.

My worst was with Hank Aaron, whose signature I got at the same show Brooks Robinson was at. After the great and personal experience with Brooks, my friend and I (we were both 15 years old at the time) went over to Aaron's table. We weren't allowed to have any interaction with him at all, I was told to give the ball I wanted him to sign to some guy sitting next to Aaron (maybe his agent? Don't know who), who would then give it to Aaron. After Aaron had signed it, he gave it back to the guy sitting next to him without so much as looking up at me, and that guy handed it to me.

It was such an impersonal experience my buddy and I both walked away feeling kind of jilted, especially when we looked at our balls and noticed his signature looked like "Stan Aaron" because of the way he wrote his first name. Also we paid 25$ for his autograph (this was in 1992) and only I think 5 or 10$ for Brooks. We both walked away with diminished opinions of Aaron, but as huge fans of Brooks Robinson. (in fairness I should note that Aaron's table had a much longer line than Brooks' which might explain the different treatment more than any differences in their character, but it still left a bad taste with me!)
My blog about collecting cards in Japan:

Last edited by seanofjapan; 01-14-2018 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:29 PM
Baseballcrazy62 Baseballcrazy62 is offline
Mike Reid
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Michigan
Posts: 298

Had the privilege of having Kareem Abdul Jabbar tell me to F off at a charity event fundraiser. There were a group of Police Athletic League kids there and he never signed a single autograph the whole evening. The organizer of the event spent half the evening apologizing for his ( Kareem's) behavior.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:35 PM
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MartyFromCANADA MartyFromCANADA is offline
Marty H.
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Hamilton,Ontario,Canada
Posts: 496

Sent this photo to my childhood hockey hero, Shayne Corson,, 15 years ago.
He sent it back beautifully signed and personally inscribed.

Finally met him at the last Toronto expo. Great Guy.
Says he remembered signing the Zamboni photo.
George Gibson Fans. Check Out This Site;

My Collection;

My Wantlist:
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:38 PM
bbcard1 bbcard1 is offline
T0dd M@rcum
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Roanoke, VA
Posts: 2,622

Lots of good ones, but the one that you might find surprising was Jose Canseco. He was back stage at an appearance (with ankle monitor) and he was nice and talked to my son at length (he was probably 10 at the time). Signed a nice legible sig and encouraged my son to continue to play baseball.

Worst may have been Tommy Gregg, former Brave. I asked him to sign my baseball encyclopedia when he was coaching in the minors and he not only blew me off (which happens) but growled and kind of asked it I wasn't kind of old for that stuff.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:39 PM
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ronniehatesjazz ronniehatesjazz is offline
Tyler Smith
Tyler Sm.ith
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 607

Originally Posted by Baseballcrazy62 View Post
Had the privilege of having Kareem Abdul Jabbar tell me to F off at a charity event fundraiser. There were a group of Police Athletic League kids there and he never signed a single autograph the whole evening. The organizer of the event spent half the evening apologizing for his ( Kareem's) behavior.
Never met him but he always kind of gave me that vibe. Not a big fan of his for other off the court reasons as well. Sorry he treated you that way.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:44 PM
Griffins Griffins is offline
Anthny N. ex
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,072

Worst- Johnny Bench. It was 1983, I was 22 I was photographing him for a charity ad. He asked me if I knew anything about baseball, and I replied that not only did I follow Baseball closely but that he was my favorite player, and when I was a kid Id sent him a get well card after his lung surgery in 72. He blew up and said I was trying to make him feel old. Total dick

Best was Kareem. I was shooting an ad for a friend of his and he dropped in and chatted for half an hour. Id been around him before and knew he was pretty reserved so I mostly let him talk, and we had a pretty amazing conversation

Being a photographer is like having a backstage pass to the world. When you deal with people like Kareemm or Jerry West or Eric Gagne its the best job in the world. Johnny Bench and Tommy Lasorda not so much
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:53 PM
Dewey2007 Dewey2007 is offline
Dewey St. Germaine
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Alameda, CA
Posts: 261

As a kid I don't remember to many bad experiences. Some guys were jerks but most were good.

As an adult it has been a whole different experience. I have gotten a few autos at shows in person and it has been weird. Nothing that the players have done to make it that way but as a 40+ year old adult I have found it very awkward asking another adult to sign an item. I am cool with things through the mail or sending an item in to get signed but doing it in person has been an unpleasant experience from my end.

My most recent experience was with Jimmy Rollins this past November. I help coordinate our high school athletic hall of fame ceremony and J-Roll was in attendance since he was introducing his old coach. I spoke to him briefly before the show and worked up the nerve to ask him if he wouldn't mind signing a couple of things after the ceremony but just couldn't go through with asking him to do it afterwards.
Always looking for items related to players and teams from Alameda, California. Alameda Sports Project:

Last edited by Dewey2007; 01-14-2018 at 10:54 PM. Reason: text correction
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:58 PM
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oldjudge oldjudge is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: The Bronx
Posts: 3,578

I used to put on dinners with famous ex athletes for my company's customers. Among the best people that I ever dealt with were Roger Staubach, Jim Brown, and Wilt Chamberlain. They were friendly, gracious and a pleasure to deal with. Of all the people I worked with the only ones I don't remember favorably were John Riggins and Richard Dent (too quiet-almost shy) and Lynn Swann (a real jerk).
However, at card shows by far the nicest guy I ever met was Pete Rose. He appeared at a show in Central Connecticut in the early 1990s and I took my five year old daughter with me to the show. I had a baseball so I decided to get his autograph. Julie was excited by this so when our turn came to get an autograph I told Pete that Julie was a big fan of his. He talked to her for a minute telling her that he had a daughter just about her age. Then he reached under the table, grabbed his briefcase, and pulled out pictures of his daughter to show her. While the line behind us was probably wondering what was going on Pete spent about five minutes with my daughter. What a nice gesture on his part.
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