What follows is some advice on how to obtain YOUR VERY OWN Chicago Cubs Autographs, based on my experiences from the 90's and early 2000's. You can apply the basics to any team of your following:
The Cubs Convention (every January in Chicago)
Manufacturer signed cards
3rd Party Authenticated cards
%img src="http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTU2WDc1Mg==/$T2eC16ZHJGMFFo)j9Jn7BRgw2QWN2Q%3C/p%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E60_35.JPG?set_id=2" /%
MAILING TO SPRING TRAINING
The Chicago Cubs have Spring Training in Arizona from mid-February to March. In general, players are more lax and excited to get the season started, and in turn may be more apt to answering their fan mail. Even though this information is for the Chicago Cubs specifically, YOU CAN APPLY THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION TO ANY OF YOUR FAVORITE TEAMS (simply Google their Spring Training site address. ).Here's what to do:
- Obtain TWO envelopes, one smaller than the other. Two stamps. One or Two baseball cards of the player (or 3 x 5 index card or whatever small flat item you want signed. Don't get greedy and mail out five. ).
Address & stamp the large envelope to:
(The Player's Name / c/o SLOAN PARK)
2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway
Mesa, Az 85201.
(note: this is a brand new facility for 2014)
On the smaller envelope, address it to YOURSELF. Also, please place a STAMP on it. (this is important. Do not expect the player to pay for the return envelope).
This is a great opportunity to get minor leagers & Rookies as they are usually successes.
MAILING TO WRIGLEY FIELD
Once the season starts, follow the steps above. but mail to the player c/o WRIGLEY FIELD, 1060 W. Addison St. Chicago, Illinois 60613
It's a good idea to send something to sign to recent call-ups & rookies, as you will usually have better success.
GOING TO WRIGLEY FIELD (INCLUDING VISITING TEAM PLAYERS)
I can honestly say that I have never been shut out when I've gone to Wrigley and have committed to getting an autograph. It's easier, however to obtain VISITING TEAM autographs than Cubs players. YOU MUST GO TO WRIGLEY
4 HOURS BEFORE GAME TIME. Visiting teams enter at the corner of Sheffield and Addison (where Harry Caray's statue is). Players have the option of taking cabs to Wrigley or waiting for the team bus. You'd be surprised how many players take cabs. If you hang out at the corner I just mentioned you will eventually get an opportunity to ask a player for an autograph (along with about 30 other people!). Some turn you down, some sign for just a few people, a few guys stand there and sign for everyone. Back when I was going, I must say that Jeff Bagwell and Tom Glavine would sign for EVERYONE. I also remember getting Ozzie Smith, Bobby Bonilla, Dale Murphy, John Smoltz, Paul Molitor & Robin Yount (exhibition game actually!) just to name a few. If you bring cards to sign, you must be able to recognize the player and quickly get his card out to try and autograph. if your a novice, it's easier to bring a baseball. this way you won't have to worry about not recognizing which player you have walking your way !
The Cubs come in on the other side of the park on Waveland, across from the Firehouse. They drive in and park in a small parking lot, which is pretty much all penned in now (years ago, we had access to
all sides of this fence, & I actually got Ryne Sandberg & Rick Sutcliffe on the same day that way) Today, you are at the mercy of them exiting there car and coming to the fence. not very successful pre-game. You can also try AFTER the game.
The ballpark opens TWO HOURS before game time. Once the gates open, the visiting team batting practice should still be going on. There was a time when you can stand near the dugout seats to try & get autographs, but the Cubs now limit you to the wall area of the bullpen/outfield area. No guarantees here. I remember getting SAMMY SOSA this way back > 15 years ago (see below).
%img src="http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MzUzWDQ4MA==/$T2eC16FHJHQFFhs)V1YsBRgw7(dZzw%3C/p%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E60_35.JPG?set_id=2" /%mid-1990's success/ outfield wall area
MISC PLAYER APPEARANCES
Keep your eyes and ears open for player appearances throughout the year. Some are for free, some are for charity. Many time there are small advertisements in the newspapers for upcoming player promo appearances. If you listen to sports radio in Chicago (WSCR or ESPN-1000) occasionally they are plugged.
There is an online club called CSAC which maintains a calendar of all sports appearances in the Chicagoland area. This site is a MUST for you diehard autograph collectors (note: I am NOT affiliated with CSAC in any way. just a very pleased subscriber !)
THE CUBS CONVENTION
Needless to say, the Cubs Convention is a definite place where you will get at least a few autographs. What's nice is you will also get RETIRED PLAYERS. Keep in mind you are competing with 10,000 other rabid fans.
The Cubs now hold the Cubs Convention at:
Sheraton Chicago Hilton
301 E. N. Water St
Chicago, Il 60611
This event occurs every winter in either January or February at the Chicago Hilton, downtown Chicago. Here's one hint though. You can have more success just hanging out in the lobbies and outside ballrooms than actually standing in line for 3 hours to get one autograph!
Every year at the Convention there is a raffle to win the right to get a high profile player. Here is my Ernie Banks autograph I obtained on a Sunday of a Cubs Convention
15 years ago. NOT FOR SALE. I have not won a raffle since, but I'm not complaining !
YOU CAN STILL GET AUTOGRAPHS AT THE CUBS CONVENTION EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE A TICKET. I recommend heading down to the hotel on the Friday morning of the opening. Many players (former & current) arrive early and you can get them in the lobby. Later @ 5PM that Friday, the Opening Ceremonies begin in the second floor ballroom. Just prior to that, the players have to walk from one side of the hall to the other to get to the main Ballroom. Of course its roped off & it's mobbed with people. Although you have a small chance of getting one, once in a while you get lucky. in the past, my son & I have gotten Fergie Jenkins, Todd Walker, & Ryan Dempster this way. Good Luck.
MANUFACTURER SIGNED CARDS
It goes without saying that you can always simply buy a baseball card already signed and sent from the player to the baseball card manufacturers to be placed in their packs for distribution. Some are numbered to a specific limited amount, many are not. The lower the number, the more value. Usually there is a blurb on the back of the card explaining that the card was indeed signed by that player in the presence of a manufacturer's representative.
YOU CAN REST ASSURED THAT THESE ARE ALL LEGITIMATE:
%img src="http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/ODQyWDU3OA==/$T2eC16J,!)UE9s3wBnOMBRg)!z5W,w%3C/p%3E%0D%0A%3Cp%3E60_35.JPG?set_id=2" /%
3rd Party Authenticated Autographed Cards
Lastly, you can also buy authenticated autographed cards at card shows or on eBay. Individuals can submit signed cards to 3rd. Party Authenticators, who have experts look at the autograph and verify that it is OK. The card/item will then be "slabbed" (i.e. permanently enclosed) and given an ID number. There are many authenticators out there,but I would stick with the bigger name ones:
PSA, BGS(Beckett), JSA, & SGC