By Ham City Kev
I don’t remember the game. I don’t remember the date. I just remember my favorite autograph story ever happened at a Mets/Expos game sometime in 1993.
I’m not big into autographs, but I got a kick out of it as a kid. My first autograph was actually from Ozzie Smith. I had Field seats to a Cardinals game sometime in 1992 and had my baseball sticker book with me. I saw Ozzie throwing warm-up tosses in front of the Cards dugout and was floored. “that’s Ozzie Smith,” I thought. Not, “that’s that guy who makes all those great plays on my baseball highlight tapes,” as he was far beyond that of course. That was Ozzie Smith. It was easily the first big star I ever got close to. When he was done tossing the ball around, he came over to all the kids begging for his autograph on the railing and signed his name for me, right under his picture in the sticker book. I still have that book, and refuse to throw it away.
Through my old friend Paulie’s family connections, we got to a lot of games in the Field Box seats in 92 and 93. I got some more autographs, all of them on the Anthony Young ball (more on that at 35 on the list), but the names were never too big. Joe Orsulak, Ryan Thompson, uhhh… hang on, let me find the ball and check it… hey, I got Barry Larkin, too! Not ridiculously impressive, but that’s nothing to shake a stick at. I remember a rain delay where Paulie and I got soaked because we saw Doc Gooden talking to someone in the tunnel behind home plate, and we stood in the rain begging for his autograph. He said, “one second guys,” and we waited patiently… and patiently… and patiently… Finally a few more kids saw us and figured we were up to something, so they came running over. They all screamed their heads off because we discovered Doc. “We saw ‘em first, we get the autographs first,” we shouted, but it was futile. A few minutes later, Doc waved at us and walked inside, not caring that all of us were heart-broken and soaking wet, calling for him to please please come back.
This is a good segue into the Expos game I want to discuss here. But before I begin, let me preface by saying this: this is no bullshit. I know it sounds way too sugar coated and sweet, too good to be true, but this really happened and I have the autograph to prove it.
Before the game began, Baseball and Met Hall of Famer Gary Carter was walking around the field interviewing players for Expos TV (Expos TV? That really existed?). Of course, Paulie and I are begging for his autograph along with so many other people, but Gary ignores everyone. He must have walked past our group 4 or 5 times, completely ignorant. I was worried it was going to be another Doc story, but I wouldn’t let it happen. When he walked by our group again, I was the only one left shouting for him. Everyone else had given up. I may have given up as well. But I thought, “if I can’t get his autograph, I can at least thank him,” so I did.
I leaned over the railing and shouted as loud as my 12-year-old body could, “HEY GARY! THANKS FOR STARTING THE RALLY IN 86!”
Wouldn’t you know it, Good Ol’ Camera Carter stopped dead in his tracks, turned to me and said, “No problem! You want an autograph?” DID I?!?!?!
So me and Paulie got his only two autographs of the day, and I still love telling that story.