“He seemed to understand the line between obsessive and respectful,” Morneau said in an e-mail. Too many times, added Morneau, people “get involved with autograph signings or athletes as a way to try to work their way into their personal life and can become very clingy.”
When the Wild’s Josh Harding agreed to an autograph session, Hagglund — knowing of Harding’s struggles with multiple sclerosis — sat his own mother, who also suffers from MS, at the autograph table with him. “Because [of] Josh and his MS, [Shaun thought] we would hit it off,” Pat Hagglund said.
Hagglund’s mother said her son will also send baby gifts when an athlete has a child.
When Harding again agreed to sign autographs outside Hagglund’s store earlier this month, Hagglund sold “MVP tickets” for $37. The price guaranteed a fan two autographs, two certificates of authenticity, a posed photo with Harding — and a chance to bump to the front of the line.
For those who could not make it, he offered a “drop off service” where fans could leave the item they wanted autographed, including instructions of what they wanted Harding to write.
Hagglund is vague when asked how much money this all makes him, but there are clues. Two weeks after the Rubio autograph signing, in which the Wolves star by contract agreed to sign items for Hagglund to resell, Hagglund offered a signed Rubio jersey for $125.
In New York, Sean Mahoney of Steiner Sports said he turned to Hagglund when Zach Parise signed with the Wild.
“We looked to match up Zach [with Minnesota companies] to continue building his brand,” said Mahoney, a Steiner executive vice president. “We liked him,” Mahoney said of Hagglund. “We got a level of comfortability with him.”
Steiner Sports, one of the nation’s biggest sports marketing agencies, represents hundreds of athletes, and even offered — for a hefty price — private pitching lessons from former Yankee Mariano Rivera. For $7,500, Steiner is now offering fans two tickets to a Brooklyn Nets game, a pre-game courtside visit for the players’ shootaround and a game-used ball — from the game — that the fan gets while the game is being played.
Sports memorabilia, said Mahoney, is “definitely moving toward more of that type of experience stuff as opposed to [sitting] behind a table and signing for fans.”
Austin Lyman of Athletes First, another California-based sports marketing company, said he was sitting in Rudolph’s home when the Vikings drafted the tight end three years ago. Lyman said he immediately told Rudolph, “Dude, I’m going to go out there” and find a Minnesota sports collectibles contact. The journey led to Hagglund.
Lyman said it was Hagglund’s idea to host a “Tweet-and-Greet” with another Athletes First client, Vikings punter Jeff Locke. Hagglund would tweet clues to fans, who could buy discounted tickets without yet knowing for sure what athlete would be there. In this case, the event turned out to be bowling with Locke — roughly 75 people attended.
“It’s just really neat,” said Lyman.
There have been disappointments.
Despite several attempts, Hagglund has been unable to cut a deal with Joe Mauer, the Twins’ most popular player. Though other players at TwinsFest greeted Hagglund, Mauer walked by without saying a word.
“He’s handled by a huge agency,” he said of Mauer. “They’re working with Wal-Mart and Head&Shoulders.”
Former Viking Percy Harvin also was out of reach.