If you're a professional athlete — and particularly if you're a really famous professional athlete — you're probably used to the following scene: You're walking to your car, or your hotel, or whatever, and someone asks you for your autograph. Sometimes, this person is a child, or a fan who's just happened to cross paths with one of his or her idols. And sometimes, it's an adult who's come prepared with a glossy eight-by-ten photo of you.
We once witnessed a group of autograph hounds pull out copy upon copy of Felipe Lopez's Sports Illustrated cover at a charity event, in some cases requesting specific signing instructions ("Can you sign it with your name and your number?"). And Puck Daddy just recently encountered one such autograph hound at the NHL All-Star Weekend in Raleigh — someone who had traveled to North Carolina with binders full of photos, with the intention of selling the signatures "to a few guys back in Vancouver."
In any case, Tom Seaver recently set what we hope is the new standard for dealing with such autograph seekers after leaving a charity event. Via the Times' Bats blog:
There were about 10 men in all, waiting with the usual items to be signed: baseballs, photos and caps. After playfully saying that he would not be signing anything, Seaver made the group an offer: sing a song in unison and his autograph would be theirs.
The men quickly gathered together and waited to hear Seaver's song request. And what did he ask them to sing? Not "Meet the Mets.'' Not "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." No, Seaver said he wanted to hear "God Bless America."
And sing they did, with Seaver "doing some impromptu conducting." It's a win-win. They get the autographs, and in return, Seaver is presumably entertained by the sight of a group of grown men singing a patriotic song in the middle of a Manhattan sidewalk.
Sing Along with Tom Terrific [Bats/NYT]