This weekend, JP Sports and Rock Solid Promotions held their White Plains National sports card show, featuring a selection of autograph guests that included former MLB and NFL stars as well as a few pro wrestlers and actors. There was really someone for just about everyone.
I was talking to my friend Bart on Friday and he mentioned that he was looking forward to the autograph show. Now I hardly ever get to see Bart or do things with him these days, so when he asked if I wanted to go with him, i was quick to agree since it lined up with a rare Saturday day off.
He wanted to get items signed by Ivan Rodriguez and Andre Dawson. I needed Cleon Jones and Ed Kranepool for a set of postcards commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets’ World Series championship.
We planned to arrive around 11 a.m., since our first autograph guests weren’t due to start signing until 11:30 a.m. Road construction meant that our trip took a bit longer than planned, so it was almost 11:20 a.m. by the time we got there and parked.
Remember that part where I said there was someone on the autograph guest list for nearly everyone? I didn’t think the implications of that through.
The first sign that things might not go as planned was a line of people from the Westchester County Center’s entrance to the sidewalk waiting to get in. After navigating that 15 minute line, we got to wait on another line to buy our autograph tickets.
During this time, the news that the Chicago Cubs had claimed Rene Rivera off waivers from the Mets came out, sparking a discussion of the Mets’ recent fire sale moves. I’m willing to accept the idea that the Mets are shedding veterans who don’t figure into their plans.
I’m happy that Curtis Granderson, by all accounts a quality human being as well as a classy ball player, is going to get another chance to win a World Series ring. (As I write this, Granderson just got a big hand in Detroit where he hit a home run to break up Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid because Tigers’ fans still have fond memories of him.)
But if all the Mets can get back for their veteran players are a selection of low-level prospects and non-prospects, I don’t see the point. Why not keep Granderson and some of the others to give fans a better product to watch over the season’s final six weeks?
A few of the other fans we talked to while waiting on line were even less understanding. They thought Jay Bruce and Neil Walker should have been part of next year’s team.
About a half hour later, we finally had our autograph tickets, our photos for the free autograph guests, and had made it inside the show proper. And guess what? Time to go stand in more lines. Sportscard shows with autograph guests have always been about standing on lines. I get that – I do – but maybe I’m getting too old to really want to do it any more.
I waited another half hour or 45 minutes to see former Yankee Fritz Peterson (one of the free autograph guests) while Bart waited on a different line for Rodriguez. He got done way before I did. I got about ten seconds of Peterson’s time…basically long enough for Peterson to sign his name and for me to say “hello” and “thank you.”
We finally got to walk around the show floor for about 15 or 20 minutes. Bart found some collecting supplies that he wanted. At this point, I wasn’t really in the mood to look at anything, especially since the entire show was an unplanned expense for me.
And then it was time to get on line again… me for Kranepool and Jones, Bart for Dawson. Again, he finished before I did. I had the same experience with Kranepool as I did with Peterson.
Jones actually took a moment to say “hello” to me and shake my hand before handing back my postcard. It was a nicer integration than just exchanging an autograph ticket for an autograph.
I’m finding that I prefer the culture that goes with buying actor’s autographs at shows like Chiller Theater or a comic convention. They are selling you an experience. Someone, usually the actor, will ask you your name and your autograph will be personalized to you. More often than not, they will take a few seconds to talk with you. And while it’s every bit a commercial transaction, at least it’s one that might create a memory of something other than waiting on line to get a signature.
I was really ready to be done at this point…we’d already been at the show for three hours and most of that was spent on one line or another. But we had one more autograph to get – former Mets pitcher Pat Zachry, the second free autograph that came with paid admission.
You probably figured out that I didn’t have the best time on Saturday. But I do want to point out that I think it’s awesome that JP Sports offers free autographs at their shows – it makes the $10 admission fee seem a much better value. We got through Zachry’s line in about 20 minutes, the fastest one of the day for me, and probably the longest for Bart.
I did enjoy getting to spend time with my friend, and I’m happy that I go to add a few more autographs to my collection. In the future, though, I may just stick with mail order for this show.