As a long time collector of autographs, I've had the chance to obtain autographs from some of today's biggest athletes such as Albert Pujols, Tim Duncan, Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera, and many others. With all of the success I've had over the years, I'd like to share with my readers on a few tips.
First off, there are a few general tips at all stadiums:
- Always be prepared - You should always bring a Sharpie and some sort of item to get signed (even if it's a ticket stub). The one time you go to the stadium unprepared will be the time your favorite athlete takes some time to sign autographs. I always throw a sharpie in my pocket before every sporting event I go to because you never know who you might run in to.
- Bring a flat item- I have found that athletes prefer to sign a flat object such as a ticket stub, picture, or program. Signing any kind of ball takes the athlete more time. If you have your sharpie open with the item out, you're more likely to get the signature.
- Never ask to have item signed in specific spot- This is the worst thing you can do when obtaining an autograph. Asking a player to sign sweet spot on a ball or asking for specific inscription could turn the athlete off from signing your item. I've seen numerous times where the athlete will stop signing for everyone due to people demanding items be singed in certain spots. Be thankful for whatever kind of signature the athlete gives you.
- Don't be pushy and let the kids go first- While it's neat to go home from a game with an autograph, let the kids get the first shot at the signature. If an athlete sees an adult trampling a kid to try and get a signature, there's no chance they will stop to sign.
Using these tips will go a long way in trying to obtain an autograph from your favorite athlete.
The last thing you need to do is know the in's and out's of the stadium in trying to obtain an autograph. Each stadium/ballpark is different. Below are some tips and tricks on how to obtain autographs at each of the stadiums below.
Wrigley Field- While Wrigley Field is one of the oldest stadiums around, it's also one of the easiest to obtain signatures. While it can be difficult to obtain Cub's players autographs, the visitors are quite easy to obtain. The first crack at obtaining an autograph is by the Billy Williams statue at the South East corner of the stadium. Players arrive 2-3 hours before the game. If you're in Wrigley that early, you can swing by the gate to see if you can catch one of the visitors. Usually, half the team will take cabs that will drop the players off right there and the rest will take the team bus.
Once the gate opens up, your best bet to get autographs is down the left or right field line. If you rush to the left field line, you have a chance at Cubs players while the visitors will be down the right field line. It's pretty hard to get autographs during this time due to the volume of fans inside the stadium, but occasionally, a pitcher on their off day will sign a few graphs. If they aren't hitting on the field, the teams will hit in the cages under the bleachers. Occasionally, a player will stand outside the cage and sign items if you drop them down from the bleachers. I was lucky enough to get Albert Pujols this way.
Once the game is over, you don't want to rush out of the stadium. Due to the stadium being so old, the players have to walk through the concourse to leave Wrigley. If you wait around in the stadium and leave about 20 minutes after the game, you are bound to walk out of the stadium with a player. Sometimes, players will stop while walking through the concourse to sign an item real quick. If this is unsuccessful, you can head back to the Southeast corner of the stadium by the Billy Williams statue. There will be a few buses parked right outside the gates. Both of these buses are the team buses for the visiting team. A lot of times, players will sign a few autographs before they get on the bus.
If you'd rather try and obtain a Cubs signature, you need to head to the opposite side of the stadium. Usually about 30 minutes after the game, you'll start to see Cubs players trickle outside the stadium. Inside the fenced in gate on the other side is the Cubs player parking lot. Players will often sign a few autographs and interact with the fans. It all depends on how the game turned out and the number of fans.
US Cellular Field- Coming Soon
United Center- The best way to obtain autographs at a Bulls game is to get there when the gates open. Gates open 1.5 hours before the game so make sure you're ready when they open. Once the doors open, rush to the tunnel where the players come in and out. The Bulls tunnel is located right next to section 103 while the visitors is right outside 120. Players will be out on the floor working on some shooting drills. After they are done, most players will stop by and sign a few autographs. Usually, the big name players try and leave the court right when the gates open, so you want to get there early. I was lucky enough to get Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker before a Spurs game a few season ago. 9 times out of 10, you won't be shut out of an autograph if you get by the tunnels before the game.
Soldier Field- Soldier Field is one of the toughest spots to get an autograph. Your only chance is to try and snag a signature during pre-game warm-ups. To do so, you need to get down to the Bears tunnel or the visiting team tunnel. Getting down there is the tricky part. There are ushers outside of each of the gates to enter the section to get down to the tunnel. Occasionally, they will let you walk down by the tunnel, but you have to be lucky. If your lucky enough to get down there, make sure you bring an item like a jersey that you can drape down so the player can sign. The Bears tunnel is located next to section 146 and the visiting tunnel is next to section 101.
Due to the stadium being revamped, there is no access to the team busses. All of the busses go under the stadium in a secured parking lot. Your only chance of obtaining a signature before the game, is to try and get the player outside the team hotel.
Ryan Field- As with Wrigley Field, Ryan Field is an older stadium which makes it great for autographs. If you're looking to snag a signature of a future NFL star that is visiting Ryan Field, your best bet is to go by the walk way located in section 121. Right outside this section is the visitors locker room. All of the coaches and players walk there to enter and exit Ryan Field. After the game, the team bus pulls up right outside those gates to pick up the team. I've seen players like Denard Robinson, Rex Burkhead, and other Big 10 stars sign autographs after the game.