Then I discovered that if I arrived at the park about four hours before the game and went to the players' parking lot things were much better. On a good day I could net 50 signatures or more. On a really good day I could even nab over a hundred.
Detroit and Minnesota seemed to be the easiest teams to get signatures from. I had a board that had five baseball cards of each player on it making it very easy for players to sign not one but five different cards for me at a time.
That was great for a time, but I soon realized that the only way to get National League autographs would be when a player was traded to the American League. So I started going to the hotels in San Francisco near Union Square sometimes to get National Leaguers. I didn't go nearly as often as I went to A's games so my collection is still probably 70% American Leaguers. In the book I have about 80-90% of the American League pages signed. My National League pages are in the 70-80% range. Most of the ones that I'm missing are because the player retired in 1983 or 1984.
The nicest team in the National League at the time was the Houston Astros. They stayed at the Grand Hyatt unlike most teams who stayed at the St. Francis. The Astros may have been the only team in the National League that I could come home with more than 50 autographs in a day.
Both Nolan Ryan and Joe Sambito were very cordial. In fact, I can't think of a single Astros player at the time that wasn't.
The Dodgers stayed at the Hilton which was a horrible hotel for obtaining autographs because there were several lobbies and sets of elevators. If I sat in the wrong lobby looking at the wrong set of elevators I would only see a few players in several hours.
You didn't want to be in the restroom when Dave Kingman came to bat. His swing was legendary. He didn't put quite as much effort into his autograph as he did his swing as you can see.
Kingman didn't even look at what he was doing while he was signing. In this case, he missed his page and signed on Terry Leach's instead. (Again, just adding a little more character to the book.) This is the most legible signature of his that I ever obtained though.
There was so much hype about Darryl Strawberry before he ever set foot in the major leagues that he is the only player who was granted a page in The Scouting Report even though he had yet to play.
Tug McGraw was as good a guy in person as he was on TV. Due to his performance and antics in the 1980 World Series, he was my mom's favorite player. Here you can see that he even included a smiley face with his signature. He didn't normally do that on baseball cards, nor did I ask him to. The smiley face adds a nice touch though and is fitting for him.
I didn't get this next signature until 1984 when Joe was playing for the A's. He sure went through a lot of different teams near the end of his career.
The stories and pictures continue below...