Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Autograph I Thought I'd Never Get

In 2004, my brother worked for the Philadelphia Phillies class A Minor League team, the Clearwater Threshers, as a clubhouse assistant. The manager of the team that season was Phillies Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt.

I was living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. My brother offered to get me Schmidt's autograph, but I declined. I'd rather try and get an autograph myself rather than someone getting it for me. My brother told me that he didn't remember ever seeing Mike stop to sign autographs that season. Immediately after games, Mike would exit the field by walking under the stands, where fans were not allowed.

One day I showed up to a Threshers game without telling my brother I was in town. I didn't try for any autographs that night, I was just there to surprise my brother, but I did get to witness Mike Schmidt's exit, and it was exactly how my brother described.

I figured it would be a lost cause with me ever getting something signed by him. No big deal, I have 1400+ autographs, I can't expect to get everyone, though, it's always great to add a Hall of Famer.

Today, 11 years after my brother volunteered to get me Schmidt's autograph, I went to the Phillies spring training camp to add more to my collection. It was a miserable day, just nonstop rain. The players all worked indoors, except for maybe 30 minutes where pitchers were able to play long toss in the outfield. It was not looking good for autographs.

After a few hours of riding out the storm, most of the players and coaches were leaving. Then, my brother says to me, "there's Mike Schmidt." I didn't believe him, but there he was getting out of a golf cart and stepping right into his car, maybe 100 feet from where we were standing. It was raining lightly, but the parking lot was just flooded in some parts.

We start walking toward his car, but I see the lights on and the vehicle slowly emerging from the parking spot. There's no way he'd stop now, I'm thinking. Then, the unthinkable happens. The car slows down and pulls over to the side. I get closer and Mike Schmidt rolls down his window. There he is, the guy I never thought I'd get, has my baseball card in his hand, signing an autograph for me.

It's not my favorite card of his, but I never expected to meet him. I have better cards of his, but this was the one that was on me, and because of my personal policy, I'll never ask him for another autograph again.

This story is much better in 2015 than one I would've had in 2004. "Oh, that Schmidt autograph? My brother got that for me."
I prefer having my own story, even if it takes 11 years to tell.


  1. He managed the Theshers in 2004, not 2006, but you got the part about him being a dick correct. Terrible manager and didn't sign a single autograph the whole year.


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