Baseball and autographs go together like Chet Steadman and high, stinky cheddar.
If you understand that reference, a tip of the cap for recognizing the baseball movie Rookie of the Year which includes – surprise! – an autograph scene.
But autographs are not a made-for-Hollywood premise. There’s just something about a signature on the sweet spot of a ball that looks ... perfect.
Anyone who has been to a ballgame has witnessed the batting-practice crowds along the baselines, or maybe the hopeful eyes waiting outside of the player’s parking lot.
Mister! Mister! Can you sign?
Mister! Just a couple more … please!
You’re my favorite player! You’re on my fantasy team – please!!!!!
Truth is, no matter what you say many players are OK with splitting up the monotony of another day in the sun during a 162-game season by signing a few autographs for lucky fans here and there.
And for the ones who don’t, there are events like TwinsFest to grind their gears.
The biggest hit by far during the annual weekend of fundraising and fellowship is the autograph booths. More than 80 former Twins players and coaches are in town to take part in the three-day event – and take their hour-long turns in the signing gauntlet.
Prospects, veterans and Hall of Famers make up the list.
Here are some tips for the weekend:
A bargain: If the thrill of a signature is what you’re after Saturday is your day. From 3:15-4:15 p.m. all four booths feature four players each for just $5. Pick one, and fill up that baseball.
For the kids: One booth each session Sunday features $5 fees for kids 14 and under. Time it right, and get 19 signatures for $20. The schedule:
9:15-10:15 a.m.: Scott Erickson, Brandon Kintzler, Terry Steinbach, Brian Raabe, Carl Pavano
10:30-11:30 a.m.: Trevor May Tom Brunansky, Ryan Pressly, Ryan Sweeney, Pat Dean
11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Kevin Jepsen, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Meyer, Darin Mastroianni, Yorman Landa
1-2 p.m: Ricky Nolasco, Casey Fien, Tommy Milone, Trevor Hildenberger
Joe and Jose: A Joe Mauer autograph will set you back $25 on Saturday but if you’re in the area, come Friday night from 5:30-6:30 and plop down an extra $5 when he shares a booth with Jose Berrios. The top pitching prospect could command a top price at this event in the near future.
Futures game: Speaking of young players, up-and-coming Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Byung Ho Park will set you back just $20 each. That’s a song particularly for Park, whose signature on eBay isn’t available for under $75.
Wishful thinking: From 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. on Sunday, Buxton will appear with fellow prospects Adam Brett Walker, Nick Burdi, Stuart Turner and Mason Melotakis.
One only: Torii Hunter and Kent Hrbek ($25 each) are only scheduled to sign once: From 8-9 p.m. on Friday. Plan accordingly, and arrive early.
Just two: Bert Blyleven will not appear Sunday.
Hey, Skip: Paul Molitor and Tom Kelly will sign together for $40 from 10:45-11:45 a.m. on Saturday. It’s Kelly’s only scheduled appearance.
No-hit stuff: Scott Erickson and Jack Morris will share a booth (along with Gene Glynn, Tyler Duffey and Pavano) for $20 from 6:45-7:45 p.m. on Friday.
The fine print: Schedules are tentative and subject to change. All proceeds from the autograph booths benefit the Twins Community Fund and its programs. Autographs are not guaranteed. This isn’t a new event, so staff members have a pretty good idea when to cut the line to ensure everyone waiting gets a signature. But be aware you might wait, only to get shut out. Select autograph sessions will require all in line receive a numbered card, and proceed through the line in order.
Restrictions: Only one autograph per player. No photos or personalized inscriptions will be allowed. Blyleven will not sign bats, jerseys, game-used items or Hall of Fame inscriptions. Mauer will not sign game-used items. Molitor’s price doubles to $80 for a signed bat or jersey.
Here is a full list of the autograph schedule, from the official TwinsFest brochure