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Win This Cal Ripken Jr. Autographed Book from Autograph University

UPDATE: I’d like to thank everyone who submitted a story. They were thoughtful, emotional and well-written—I enjoyed reading them all. Congratulations to Terry who was randomly selected from all eligible entries. Thanks again to all who participated!

As students head back to school, I recalled my own college orientation over a decade ago. That first day can be an emotional brew, from the excitement of newfound freedoms and opportunity to the anxiety of sharing a classroom (and often a dorm room) with strangers.

Sometimes it was hard to start that first conversation with someone new. But looking back on the friendships I made, they all grew from finding a common interest and sharing stories that revealed something about ourselves.

I’ve told you a little about myself and shared some of my autograph adventures. But now I want to hear from you.

Share your favorite autograph-related story in the Comments section for a chance to win a copy of Hothead signed by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. The contest closes on Friday, September 9, 2011 at 7 p.m. ET.

Cal Ripken Jr. autographed book

Share your story for a chance to win this Cal Ripken Jr. autographed book!

I will randomly choose a winner (each story will be assigned a number and I will use an online generator) and post the result on this page. One comment per person and please use a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.

Have fun and good luck!

Connect with me on Twitter: @mattraymond

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.

45 comments… add one

  • votc September 6, 2011, 10:37 am

    Meeting former Blackhawks goalie Eddie Belfour at a Hawks playoff game in the men’s room. Standing at the urinal I zip up and turn away and see that I was standing next to him. I waited for him to come out and said that I was standing next to him but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time but if now he would sign my ticket. He laughed and did.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:10 pm

    I’m sure he appreciated that you chose a more appropriate time when he had a free hand to sign. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Jeescy Pouliot September 6, 2011, 10:41 am

    4 years ago, I went to an Alexander Ovechkin signing at a new sports store not knowing that you had to have won tickets through a contest to get stuff signed at the signing. I only learned about it once I was there… Still, I decided to wait for the line of winners to be done. I then convinced security to allow me to enter the end of the line. I was then able to get my 2 hockey cards signed, as well as an 8 X 10 print they were handing out!

    Thanks for the contest! Keep up the good work on this site!

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:09 pm

    Thanks Jeescy, I really appreciate the feedback! Congrats on Ovechkin, he’s not easy.

  • Devin September 6, 2011, 10:48 am

    back in 2005 i was attending my first twinsfest. my brother and i were first in torii hunters line then my dad comes and says that there wasnt vey many people in killebrews line so we left hunters and ran over to killebrews sat there for 2 hours before he started to sign but when he did the line was going very quick. as soon as i got in the suite were he was signing i was in awe. when it was my turn to get something signed i got a ball signed and shook his hand. i will never forget this day meeting mr killebrew

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:07 pm

    Harmon Killebrew was a hall of fame player and hall of fame person. Hunter took notes. If you haven’t already, check out this post: http://www.autographu.com/harmon-killebrew-counseled-younger-players-on-the-importance-of-an-autograph/

  • Jason September 6, 2011, 1:25 pm

    I have two stories- bot related to autograph adventures when I lived in Dallas back in 1991-1993. Right when “Grandmamamama” was popular (Larry Johnson), we went to a huge show he was signing at. Larry was from the Dallas area so people were amped up to see him returning home. I had the bright idea of purchasing a small rubber basketball that was the size of a baseball. My plan was for him to sign it and then I would put it in a ball holder. Everyone in line thought it was genius and told me I was on to something. About 2 months after the signing the ball started to deflate. I inflated it…then months later it deflated again. After years and years of inflating/deflating the auto needless to say is one big blob of ink. Thank God it wasn’t a Jordan signature…I would be kicking myself. I stil have the ball to this day of a funny reminder.

    My second story was a chance meeting with the old owner of the Rangers. My dad bought tix off a scalper and we ended up sitting in the 2nd row behind the Rangers dugout. The first row was empty for the first few innings and then a group of guys walked down and sat down in front of us. My dad pointed out it was the President’s son and owner of the team- George W. Bush. I tapped his shoulder and had him sign my Rangers program. The auto was meaningless until years later when he ran for President and won. Makes for an awesome story and I’m glad I held onto the program all these years.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:05 pm

    Bummer about the basketball–maybe you can invent a solid version :) Great success on Bush. You have to graph everyone because you never know…

  • Mike September 6, 2011, 1:43 pm

    One of my best autograph stories has to be getting the great “Brien Taylor” of Yankee fame/disappointment. I had a family vacation planned (I was 13) to Fl that had nothing to do with getting autographs but once I had heard he signed and was in Ft. Lauderdale I had to go. So I go down with my parents to games and he is impossible to get initially. After Game 2 of not getting him, I saw him talking to his Mom between innings in the bullpen. So after the game, I get my Mom talking to his Mom and we let it slip we came to get his autograph and thats all we needed. He made it a point to come over – so I remember standing in the rain having him sign balls, Becket Card Mags, Cards, etc. I even got a picture of him signing taken by one of his family members. I went to several more games of his that week and got even more stuff after he recognized me. I’ve never sold an autograph and planned on giving them to my Yankee fan friends here at home and creating the greatest collection I could of this phenom but then…

    In that off season, I read an article that Taylor gets into a Barfight, blows out his arm and is out of baseball completely. UNREAL!!

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:03 pm

    While his career was a letdown, I’m sure he’ll always remain a superstar in the context of that experience.

  • Mike September 6, 2011, 1:55 pm

    My other great autograph story has to be meeting Rex Ryan. I was staying in Providence for the weekend several years ago when luck would have it that as I’m checking in, a bellhop tells me to move my car because “The Jets” were staying at the hotel and needed space for their game against the Pats the next day (they got spanked). So, as any semi auto hound would do, I round up some Jets stuff and wait in the hotel bar for a while. Security was everywhere and when they came in, most were unapproachable, especially Sanchez, who was really my only target.

    So after getting a couple stragglers and unknowns, we leave for dinner and come back later that evening. So, we go back up to the room and are headed to bed. Around 3AM, the fire alarm goes off and everyone is running down the stairs to the parking lot! I happened to grab my jacket that had cards in the pockets and as luck would have it…I end up standing in the freezing cold next to Rex Ryan in the parking lot, at 3 AM during a firedrill. He must have laughed the entire time as I asked him to sign a business card and got mt pic on my cell phone. Great Guy.

    On Monday, the NY Daily News ran an article that the Pats faked the fire drill and paid people to harass the players during the fire drill, which was obviously not true. I never saw a check! Thanks Rex.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:01 pm

    Great story Mike. I think you revealed a new graphing tactic! 😉

  • Phil September 6, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Back when I was in college (and working in College Radio in NYC), I had an opportunity to cover a baseball card exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Phil Rizzuto was the special guest for the press conference.

    So I cover the event and do the typical media Q/A, etc., and afterwards, the museum set up lunch and there was an autograph signing afterwards with Rizzuto. We knew this in advance and all of the media types were lined up to get their stuff signed.

    Rizzuto (“The Scooter”) is personalizing everything–so when I get up to him, he’s in a great mood and asks for my name, to which I replied, “Please make it out to Phil, just like YOU Scooter!”.

    When he hands the photo back to me it says:

    “To BILL, Holy Cow! Phil Rizzuto”

    I thought it was hysterical… Especially because once on a WPIX telecast that Rizzuto did with Bill White, he opened up the telecast by introducing White as Rizzuto and he called himself Bill White–then both realized what he said and they lost it laughing on-air… It was a very funny moment, and for Rizzuto to do something similar in personalizing his auto to me still makes me smile to this day!

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 11:00 pm

    That’s funny, thanks for sharing. Last year I was graphing top hoops prospect Andre Drummond (who recently enrolled at UConn) and asked him to personalize a pic with I had printed out. My buddy Garett then gave him a photo and asked him to personalize as well. Drummond handed back the picture to my friend signed “To Matt”. :)

  • Ted September 6, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Will Clark’s my favorite player. Back when he was on the Orioles (I think it was 1998) they came to Philly for an interleague game. Will was standing in right field during BP, I went over to the corner and called to him, he turned and waved. Thinking that was already beyond cool, once BP was over Will came over to me! He asked my name, shook my hand, signed this card and told me to enjoy the game, then went straight to the dugout, didn’t sign for anyone else. I don’t even remember what I said, I think I blubbered like a schoolgirl. He didn’t start the game, but came in late and hit a home run!!
    Out of all the memories I have of Veteran’s Stadium, this one will always be at the top.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:56 pm

    Very cool Ted. Sometimes a simple hello without asking for anything can turn into much more. I’m sure it was a thrill 😉

  • Austin September 6, 2011, 7:18 pm

    It was 2009, and all though in the past and future I’ve gotten a lot of autographs in a day, but this one was specail. It was hot, around 109 on the heat index at The Bank, and Jimmy comes over and signs 3 autographs, one of them was mine, he had a 5 or 6 minute conversation with each of us, sign his autograph, shook our hands and left, it wasn’t my best day graphing, but it was certainly a memorable one.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:54 pm

    Is this J-Roll? Great that he spent that much time with you. It’s so rare I have a real interaction with someone I’m graphing. I’d trade a few more graphs for that kind of experience any day.

  • Glenn September 7, 2011, 9:27 am

    My best autograph story was meeting Nolan Ryan and Phil Garner when I was about 10 and they were both still playing. e knew a place you could sneak down at the old Reds stadium and you could get access to the opposing teams bus. Barely anyone knew how to do this and we actually always followed a local radio sportscaster down to the bus. There were only about 5 people waiting for the Astros. Nolan Ryan came out and signed everything for everyone. Believe I got 5 cards signed. Sure do wish I could have afforded baseballs back then! My favorite though was Phil Garner. He wasn’t much taller than any of us and he comes out with a cigar in one hand and a draft beer in the other. Of course he is the nicest guy in the world and will sign for everyone but has to do something with the stuff in his hands. He hands the cigar to one of my friends and the beer to me. First thing out of his mouth were “Don’t drink my beer and don’t smoke my cigar!” Of course he was kidding and we all cracked up. He talked to us for about 10 minutes about whatever, signed for everyone and made all of us laugh. That was the good ol’ days. Now you would have to go through secret service to get that close to players

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:51 pm

    A baseball player showing his sense of humor and chatting up fans? Cherish those good ol’ days because you don’t see that often today. Thanks for sharing your story Glenn.

  • Terry September 7, 2011, 9:42 am

    A few years back, I was so excited to find out that George Kell and Al Kaline would be signing at the Houston TRISTAR collectors show, seeing that I grew up in Michigan and was a huge Tigers fan. I didn’t get to get too many In Person Tigers signatures living in Houston. I went to the show and got Al Kaline on a bat, ball, and photo. I then went to get George Kell. He was the nicest person. He went on and on about the bat that I had for him to sign. It was a custom made bat that I had ordered from a company on the east coast. He absolutely loved it. He asked where I got it and asked me how much it cost. He said that he would love to get his hands on some. I asked him if he would like for me to send him some. He said “Son, these things cost money, and I’ll pay for them, just give me a phone number where these people can be reached.” I of course didn’t have it on me, but I told him that each bat cost around $60 and I would send him the information if he’d like. He wrote down his phone number and address and asked that I please follow up with him. I called a few weeks later and gave him the information. I also asked if it would be ok if I sent him some bats for himself and in return he autograph some items for me. He said he would be more than happy to. I sent him 3 bats for him to keep. I then sent 6 baseballs, 10 8×10 photos, 3 16×20 photos, 12 cards, and a few index cards. About 2 weeks after sending everything. I get a couple packages back in the mail. Mr. Kell not only signed everything I sent him, he sent a check for $180 (the price of the bats) and wrote me a 2 page letter thanking me for being so generous, and said he appreciated all my kind words. He wished me good luck to my family, and good luck in life. He also included 2 different signed Tigers hats, and a Tigers full size helmet and he threw in at least another 10 cards of his own.
    All I can say about this man is that he was truly a class act. I sent him a few gift cards a couple times a year to some restaurants, best buy, walmart, etc. Just to say thank you. Every time I would, I would get a signed photo, ball, card, or something in return.
    To this day I’ve never ever seen someone so kind and so cool.
    I really, really miss that man.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:46 pm

    Love the story Terry. Very cool to hear about two people connecting on that level through the hobby.

  • Shoemaker September 9, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Great story Terry….thanks for posting this.

  • Mike September 7, 2011, 11:23 am

    The first time I met Jack Morris was at Menards SuperStore. I was scared shitless due to what I heard about him and his moodiness. My son was in front of me and he handed him an oversized 1985 Topps card of Jack and Jack started kidding with my 5 year old. I started to relaxe and as I stepped up all that jovial good cheer was gone and and a snarl crossed Jack’s face. I really don’t think he means it but I think he senses like a dog senses fear and he plays it up. Jack signed what I asked and the memory of him joking around with my son will be cherished.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:45 pm

    You made me laugh Mike, thanks for sharing the memory.

  • cubsfan731 September 7, 2011, 2:15 pm

    It was 2009, and I was kind of at a turning point with my collection. Up to that point, I had a bunch of autographs, but no real “cornerstone of my collection”. When I heard that Mike Huckabee was doing a book signing in my town, I knew I had to be there. I got to the store hours before the book signing was supposed to start and, thanks to a close friendship with the manager, ended up helping get the store ready for Huckabee’s arrival. Since I was in the store, and other people were camping outside, I ended up being about 70th in line. Got my book signed, and even ended having my picture in the paper. Huckabee may not be the most desirable autograph, but it was a really cool experience.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing–it’s all about what’s important to you when collecting. Often the best experiences are not those involving the “biggest” names.

  • Dan September 7, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Tough to pick just one story! Have gotten pretty lucky with some sweet autographs over the years…having lunch with Jim Thome, snagging a perfect every letter Walter Payton autograph with Sweetness, 34, and Chicago Bears inscriptions…but I’ll go with a recent favorite.
    Collectors in MN know that Bert Blyleven can be a bit of a grouch. He sidepanels almost every ball, saying ‘This is my sweet spot’ when you ask him for a SS. However, a few years back he did a signing at a Twins pro shop. I got there bright and early and waited outside for a few hours in the Minnesota winter. Bert was about 15 minutes early, and got the signing started right away. The first time through, I had him sign a 20×30 poster of the “I Love to Fart’ photo. He noticed my baseball sweatshirt, and asked if I played. The line was surprisingly short, so we hopped back in. The second time I had him sign my Twins Legends ball. He remembered me, and asked which position I play, I told him I pitch. We hopped back in line and got up to the table right at the end of the signing. He SS’d an OMLB, and added his career total of K’s. There was about 5 minutes left, so we hung around, hoping to snag a picture with him. The Pro Shop handlers tried to hustle him out the door at the end, but instead, he stopped and talked to me. He spent at least 20 minutes chatting with me about pitching, showing me his curveball grip and how I can improve mine, and giving me pitching tips and pointers. Getting a private pitching lesson from a HOFer is a memory I’ll never forget!

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:38 pm

    Incredible, doesn’t get better than that! I want to hear about the Jim Thome lunch and Sweetness graph sometime :)

  • Scott September 7, 2011, 4:48 pm

    My favorite autograph story happened when I was 13 years old. I was at a Baltimore Orioles game at Memorial Stadium on my birthday, with two of my best friends, and trying to get autographs. I think I had gotten Joe Orsulak and Bill Ripken before the game but that was it. Well, my favorite player, Cal Ripken, Jr., rolls out of the stadium in his car, with his wife in the passenger seat. He waved, and I assumed he was just going to keep driving out. But he drives right into the middle of the group of autograph seekers, stops the car, rolls the windows down, and starts signing for everyone. (His wife even signed – LOL! I didn’t bother her but there were some who did.) The autograph was on a ROALB and has faded some since then, but the memory will last a lifetime.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:33 pm

    I don’t think anyone is surprised that Cal did that — class act his whole career and great with fans. I feel your pain about the faded ball: http://www.autographu.com/the-case-of-the-disappearing-autograph/ . Thanks for sharing Scott.

  • Laura September 7, 2011, 6:14 pm

    My favorite story is a Jason Richardson and Plaxico Burress. I am from the same town as Jason Richardson, and his hs was about 5 minutes by bike from my house. Anyhow he was having a camp at a different hs about 4 miles from my house. I had ridden my bike out to the camp a few times earlier during the week, and asked how we could get Jason’s autograph. They said come see him the last day and he will sign for people not in the camp. So we go all the way out there on our bikes, and some people cut in front of us, and we were cut off. He could see we were disappointed that we didn’t get him so he said go over to the hs about 5 minutes from our house and he would come over there and sign for us. He was having a Charity b-ball game that night, but it was pretty expensive to go, so we didn’t get tickets. So here we go 5 minutes from our house riding around the parking lot at the school, and a Benz with spinners pulls up behind us, and it was him! He was really cool and he signed all of our stuff. Later on that night we went back during the charity game even though we didn’t have tickets. My dad starts talking to this dude outside and it was Plaxico! He was so nice we chatted about 20 minutes about State and the Steelers, and he asked why we were not at the game. He then said you guys can have my tickets! They know me anyhow, so I don’t need them. So we got in just in time to see the dunk contest! It was a great show, and we got tons of autographs from all the former State players! It was by far my favorite time of getting the autographs. Plaxico was really cool, so say what you want, but he’ll always be one of my favorites.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:30 pm

    Wow, great story Laura. Love hearing experiences like that which run counter to popular opinion. Great gestures on the part of both guys.

  • Tiffany September 7, 2011, 6:54 pm

    My favorite autograph experience is when I went to the Roger’s Cup in Montreal. Great day. Got Rafa, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Jesse Levine, Bryan Bros, Andy Murray, Marat Safin. Djokovic and Rafa were so cool! They signed for the whole mob of fans.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Very cool Tiffany, some huge names on that list!

  • Harrison September 7, 2011, 10:18 pm

    My favorite story is when I got to meet my favorite player Jesse Crain. I drew a pretty cool picture of him and gave it to him and he gave me his VIP tag from the charity, twins n pins. He signed and personalized and it was really cool.Then I got to meet him at Fan HQ in ridgedale mall, and i drew a really cool picture of him and got it signed and he said thanks for the cool pictures, really cool.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:27 pm

    My favorite things to get signed are original items like that. I can’t draw but love to get photos I’ve shot. Cool to have something no one else has – great stuff. Who else have you drawn and then graphed?

  • Horse September 8, 2011, 8:15 am

    My best story was when I attended a Rams training camp in the early 00’s and had a handfull of cards to be signed. I was so excited since the majority of players were coming to the sideline to sign. Right before the end of practice, they all gathered at mid-field and removed their jerseys. At this point I know about 2 of the players face and the rest w/o their number had no idea who they were.
    Needless to say, asking ‘is this you’ I didnt get too many autographs that day :(

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Oh man, what a letdown. I’m sure a majority of the fans shared in your emotional rollercoaster. That experience would teach me to pack an emergency team item!

  • Mrkoontz September 8, 2011, 7:29 pm

    My favorite autograph was probably kareem Abdul jabbar, my step dad had a friend who was a bigwig at Mc sports, he got us in to watch a commercial being filmed with Kareem, I took my best friend with me who was 6’11 in between breaks in filming Kareem and his son played a game of two on two with us, then gave us each a signed photo.

  • Matt Raymond September 8, 2011, 10:16 pm

    Awesome experience, thanks for sharing! What was the final score? :)

  • Chris Gilloren September 9, 2011, 9:57 am

    About 3 years ago I was flipping through my cards looking for a past Yankee player to send a ttm request when I came across a couple of Bill Monbouquettes. While doing some online research of Monbo I discovered he had recently been diagnosed AML leukemia which is very progressive and often fatal. At that time my daughter had been in remission from the same type of leukemia for several years and was doing really well (she still is). At that time I felt that it would be in poor taste to send a ttm request and decided to send along a letter of encouragement by telling him my daughter’s and my family’s story and wishing him the best. I had told him I looked forward to him getting better and then I would send along my ttm request. A short time later Monbo sent me a lengthy letter thanking me for the letter and wrote about his current treatment. He told me to send along what I wanted signed and also included his phone number. I never replied as I still dis not want to bother him with a ttm request while he was going through this difficult time.
    About a month later I received another lengthy letter from Mr. Monbouquette updating me on his treatments and again asking me to send along what I wanted him to sign and leaving me his phone number. I finally decided to call him and we spoke for a good hour and a half about our families and his and my daughter’s treatments. From there we built a friendship and speak on the phone about once month and exchange Christmas cards. For the past 2 years he has invited himself to play in a charity gold tournament I run and donates his signature to some raffle prizes. Approximately 2 weeks ago I got the nerve to actually sent him a ball to have him autograph for me. It’s the most prized in my collection.

  • Matt Raymond September 9, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story Chris — I’m glad to hear your daughter is healthy. I think the human element of the athlete-fan relationship gets lost sometimes but this is an amazing example of how a true connection can be made. Good for you for reaching out with that initial note.

  • Jordan Queen September 9, 2011, 10:32 am

    So growing up i was a huge Jerry Stackhouse fan. my cousin used to watch him when he was on USC. Michael Jordan had retired and my cousin used to say he would be the next jordan ( didnt quite turn out) but never never the less i was an instant fan. years later he got traded to detroit, and i was able to see him live. i loved about 2 hrs away from the arena so i didn’t get to go to a ton of games, so for a couple years i never could seem to be in the right place to get his autograph. fast forward a few years later, i was lucky enough to get to go to 10 games in one season and i planned on making the most of it. during his time in detroit, he never did pregame warm ups, so i knew i had to try something different i knew that stack ate gummy bears before every game, so each game i went to i would give the security guard who i had become cool with over the years a pack of gummy bears and he would take them to stacks locker. the 5th game of the season i went to, Stack actually did shootaround, and i finally got to meet him, i told him that i was the one giving him the gummy bears and he really appreciated the gesture. he signed my jersey, and like 2 cards for me. i thought that would be the last i saw of him, just as a thank you each game after that i would still send back gummy bears. my last game of the year was the pistons last home game. after every game they would always have one player do a radio show in the concourse. (usually cleaves or chucky atkins) well come to find out, Stack was on the show for the last game. he saw me right away and waved me over. i got to sit next to him on the radio show, took a pic of us on the show and he signed all the stuff i had. after i shook his had he told me to meet him by the gate of the player parking lot. i ran down there and he pulled up his car, rolled down his window and gave me one signed red and white nike shox shoe. he told me that it was one of the shoes that he wore when he scored his career high 57 pts in chicago a few weeks prior. he said he was keeping the other one. at the time it was the greatest day of my life. of course i was new into graphs then. years passed and ive graphed my way into quite a collection. ive got to meet and graph a ton of guys who would be considered better players, but out of all the stories that ive ever been apart of, its still my favorite.

  • Matt Raymond September 9, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Awesome story Jordan. Athletes are constantly being asked for something–their time, autographs, equipment–and I’m sure Stack appreciated the small but thoughtful gesture you made. Well done.

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