I went to McKechnie Field, spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Florida, this past weekend. Using these five strategies, I got a ball and three autographs. You don’t always get something, but try these tips to increase your odds. (These are good things to keep in mind during the regular season, too!)
Tips for getting an autograph:
1. Wear the cap and/or shirt of the team you are trying to get players to sign from to make yourself stand out.
2. Bring a Sharpie and a ball, hat, shirt, etc. for the player to sign.
3. Work your way up to the front of the crowd so you are standing closest to the field.
4. Know the players names and call out to them (loudly, if necessary, to get their attention).
5. Know where the players walk onto the field so you can catch them at the beginning of their walk to the dugout.
Also very important: Make sure you know the player who signed for you because some of the autographs are illegible!
Tips for getting a ball:
1. Know the player’s name who is holding the ball.
2. Wear a team cap or shirt to make yourself stand out.
3. Call out to the player by name — loudly.
4. If you have a glove, bring it to catch the ball in. (If you don’t have one, that is alright — I caught my ball without a glove.)
5. Be in the front of the crowd.
If you are interested, you can get a case for your ball and keep it in a special place. I have my autographed balls in cases on my shelf in my room. I also like to write down the name of the player that autographed my ball and when and where it happened so I remember.
I hope that at your next game — at spring training or during the season — my tips help you get an autograph and/or a ball!
For even more advice on how to leave a baseball game with a cool souvenir, check out baseball magnet Zack Hample tips for catching foul balls and home runs!
Photos: Rob Tringali/Getty Images (fans), Riley Neubauer