The Collector

If there is one type of person I could very easily become but hope that I don’t, it’s the adult baseball memorabilia collector. I think these guys are the lamest, most pathetic people. I just hope I can avoid becoming one of them.

That day I tried to go to the Twins Metrodome moving sale, these guys were everywhere. I overheard a guy talking who had actually camped out and was among the first to make it through line at the sale. He was digging through a trash can near the light rail for a backpack he wasn’t allowed to bring inside. Among other novelties, he was carrying a giant white tarp that had been hanging in the visitor’s locker room that he bought for $50.

These 35-to-50-year old men, older than all the players and most coaches, camping out for autographs, pushing their way through lines, decked head to toe in a combination of very expensive new and vintage Twins clothing plastered with buttons and pins— these are the kind of guys that are using their kids as an excuse to pose for a picture with Kevin Slowey and Rick Anderson.

I know what you’re thinking—this sounds like something I would be doing! And I have. But I’m not like these guys. You never see them at actual games. I’m not sure they care about the results of the games. They are just maniacal collectors who will stop at nothing to ensure they have every publication, every bobblehead, every ballpark giveaway, every autograph. Probably for resale online, but could be for their own collections.

They are the ones staked outside of visiting teams’ hotels with fanny packs filled with Sharpie markers and backpacks with glossy 8×10 photos of every player and fresh baseballs. They have a few personal notes on each player in order to strike up a conversation, whether that be the player’s college, recent children, or best yet, stories of past autograph-seeking run-ins.

Otherwise, they lack basic social skills and often rely on public transit. The lucky ones have an accompanying spouse who is equally enthralled with the idea of getting Marco Scutaro to sign his rookie card, and can often help spot players in their street clothes and sunglasses, trying their best to go unnoticed. And the really diehard ones have children. No baseball player will turn down a kid’s request for an autograph.

Spring training is the hotbed for fans like this. Players are much more accessible and the crowds are much smaller. I should know—I was once mistaken for a White Sox player when I visited their training camp in 2003. I somehow was allowed entrance to their practice facility while other fans waited outside. Once I realized I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, I left. But not before the autograph hounds bombarded me with pens, scrambling through their roster trying to figure out who I was. I still regret not pretending to be a player and screw with them.

So anyway, that’s my rant for the day. This was originally going to be about the fools who camped out in Big Lake so they could ride the very first Northstar Commuter Rail train yesterday, but it got me thinking, these are probably the same 47-year old men who have man crushes on Joe Mauer.

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