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Falling Off the Wagon with a Sharpie in My Hand

Sharpie in pint glassI’m less than two months away from getting my 1-year chip in AA—that’s Autographaholics Anonymous—and I’m feeling the anniversary is in jeopardy. You see, the last graph I got was on May 12, 2012. The signer was former Patriots safety Patrick Chung which is sort of like an alcoholic’s last drink being a shot of warm Bud Light. But my autograph abstinence wasn’t a goal in itself. I wasn’t seeking recovery. I didn’t have a problem (ok, well maybe a teeny tiny bit of an addiction). It’s just that since the birth of my son in June I’ve made the decision to be home to tuck him in every night. Stacked up against every team in town, every celeb filming in the Hub, he’s always won out. I stopped reading the local gossip column, unfollowed several Twitter accounts which sourced tips on celebrity sightings, and soon the ache of knowing (or not knowing) whom I could be graphing wore off. No regrets.

It may sound odd for a guy who runs a website that revolves around graphing admit he has kept his Sharpie capped for nearly a year. If you’re a parent you may not think it seems so silly. The truth is I do feel out of practice, but my passion for the hobby has never waned. In fact, prioritizing family first has allowed me to commit more time to helping you here at Autograph University. But last week I felt the heat of an old flame. She returned in the form of a film shooting in Boston this spring (currently referred to as the Untitled David O. Russell/Abscam Project), featuring a constellation of A-listers: Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. There was no way this was going to fly under my radar.

Last week I placed an order with Adorama so I’d have photos on hand…just in case…I happened to…by chance…accidently…on my way to the bank…run into one of the actors. I felt myself starting to slip.

A few days ago I re-followed @olv on Twitter and glanced ever so briefly at The Inside Track in the Boston Herald. I felt myself starting to slide.

Will I make it a year without graphing? That anniversary really isn’t important to me. What matters is that I never miss bedtime, even if it means losing out on JLaw or bailing on Bale.

About the author: is the founder of Autograph University. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and two sons. Connect with him on Twitter at @mattraymond.

10 comments… add one

  • Jeff Masson March 21, 2013, 1:20 pm

    You are not missing much in the sports department, Matt. Baseball and basketball are getting tougher tougher

  • Matt Raymond March 21, 2013, 9:59 pm

    Thanks for the comment Jeff. What do you think it is that’s making it tougher? (I have my thoughts but interested in your perspective.)

  • Terry March 21, 2013, 9:53 pm

    I’m amazed that people spend so much time chasing current players since so many of the signatures are just indecipherable scribbles.

  • Matt Raymond March 21, 2013, 10:04 pm

    Hi Terry, it’s true the quality of signatures has certainly deteriorated and I think everyone prefers a full, bold autograph. That said, I’ve never thought twice about adding someone to my collection because of what the signature looked like. I’ll take Kobe’s “KB” or Al Pacino’s “✓” any day. Who do you collect?

  • Edmund March 21, 2013, 10:28 pm

    Going on Jeff’s comment, the autograph game has changed a lot the past few years. I’m a 10 year vet now, and just about everything is different now than when i first started. The crowds are getting bigger, and misbehaving more. Everyone is carrying around blank photo paper, when just a few years ago, no one would sign anything blank. It’s getting to the point where all the players know all the graphers, so guys who typically sign a lot, don’t sign at all in certain cities. (Dirk Nowitzki for example, i haven’t gotten him in 2 years, but he signs everything everywhere else). And even in situations where people were willing to sign, security is so tight, no one can get close enough. Hotel security for the Cavaliers pushed us a whole block down the street, and all 5 starters were out with injuries, so it was a bus full of bench players and D-Leaguers. Players used to not sign because they thought people were selling everything. Now they don’t sign because everyone is a security threat. At least here in San Antonio anyway.

  • Matt Raymond March 22, 2013, 9:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Edmund. I’ve always said if graphers (I’m using a broad brush, it’s not everyone) line up and are respectful, everyone will get theirs.

  • Ross M Rutter March 22, 2013, 7:31 am

    Matt, you and I discussed this subject briefly back when your wife and you were expecting. My kids are older now, my son is 12 and my daughter is 7. Even now I never miss a bedtime. What your doing now with your son is only going to happen once, they grow fast. I do more TTM than ip, but I always do my autograph stuff after the kids are asleep. My Son and in some cases my Daughter have gone with me for a small ip event. I think you can do the movie ip and still not feel guility.

  • Brutus March 22, 2013, 9:23 am

    Jonathan Popelbon is a total terd. He walked by little kids calling him for an autograph in spring training with an arrogant smug and ignored them all.

  • Jeff March 22, 2013, 5:07 pm

    Hey Matt,

    I’ll be in the same boat as you in a couple months as we are expecting our first child at the end of may. I’ve been collecting for over 20 years and i have to agree with the other posts that things are a lot different. Dealers ruining it but trying to get numerous items signed at once and acting like idiots at the hotels, etc….I’ve been in LA since October and its been crazy seeing how people act when it comes to autographs. We had the head of security for OKC give the 50+ waiting on game day a lecture to don’t push etc…or they will no longer sign in LA. He said they no longer sign in Portland or New York due to the aggressive autograph collectors/dealers (Not sure how true that is). Even though I’m moving back to NorCal next month I did really well out here collecting and adding some great pieces to my collection. Jerry West, Pacquiao, Jack Nicholson, Bradley Cooper, Kim & Kourtney Kardasian, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson to name a few…I better get it out of my system as May comes around, my sharpies will be put on ice for awhile!!

  • Matt Raymond March 22, 2013, 9:43 pm

    Hi Jeff, congratulations! It’s an exciting time. My first nine months of fatherhood have been incredible.

    Thanks so much for sharing the regional report. I’m not sure I’ve seen a crowd of 50 for a hoops team here in Boston, 30 tops for the Lakers during the Finals a few years back. Despite the challenges with the NBA you have some fantastic celeb successes. I’d lovee a story from you for the upcoming Autograph University Yearbook :)

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