A few weeks ago I was in Miami, and then Atlanta, following the Brewers so I could watch Jeremy Jeffress throw. Miami was uneventful—he did not throw in the entire series—but Atlanta was a fun trip. JJ hit 98 once, had a couple good outings and I was glad to have spent time with him. This has been such a rewarding season, and I still think the best is yet to come for JJ.
While I was in the crowd pregame at Turner Field for the final time (which sucks; I have always enjoyed that park), I ran into a player’s family. They seemed interested in discussing the agent business with me, and a random fan who was getting autographs very kindly interrupted. "Do you know who that is? He's famous. He writes for BP and is Jeremy Jeffress' agent." I was… flattered, but more confused than anything. I’m always taken aback when I run into readers of this column (even if they oversell me a little bit), and this guy—wearing a great classic Paul Molitor jersey—knew me as well from my postings over at brewerfan.net, where I have been fairly active since 2007ish. We got to talking for a little while—he’s a high school debate coach—and then we said so long, and that was that.
The next morning I picked JJ up from his hotel, along with my wife, and we headed to the Atlanta aquarium. It is by far the best aquarium I have ever gone to, and it was such a nice experience being able to do that with JJ away from the field. I once went to the Negro League Hall of Fame with Michael Brantley, and I went to the Babe Ruth house with Steve Clevenger. It’s stuff like that I wish more players took advantage of while they were on the road. We who work in baseball are afforded a rare opportunity to travel the world, and I for one try never forget to appreciate and take advantage of that. (My wife and I, for example, frequent cemeteries wherever we travel, because we find them fascinating. Most recently we went to the gravesites of Edgar Allen Poe and John Wilkes Booth.) Moral of the story here is that none of us should take where we are for granted. There’s something about being in a physical place that can’t be replicated and that might never be repeated.
The next day at the game, I ran into the same Molitor-jersey fan, along with two of his friends. We talked baseball for a few innings, and when the game ended I asked if he had anything left to get autographed. He did—he had two cards for every player, and 8x10s of Keon Broxton and Jonathan Lucroy. I offered to take him by the team bus to try to get the rest of his stuff signed. I was able to bring him and his two friends underneath and introduce them to many of their favorite players. They ended up spending 45 minutes down there, and by the end they had a baseball signed by every single player on the club, photos with many of the players, and quality time spent with Ryan Braun and JJ. and they were able to get autographs from every single player on the club (thus getting a ball signed by the entire club in addition to what they had) but they also got to take photos with most of the players. It was a tremendously fun experience for everybody, including me.
Next week I’ll have another story about how the draft went for me this year, and specifically one client, Tim Lynch. The Yankees took him in the ninth round and Ken Rosenthal recently profiled him on Fox Sports. Tim has been a diehard autograph collector since he was 4 or 5, just like I was. Anyone who knows my history with autographs shouldn’t be too surprised by the story of me and the high school debate coach in the Molitor jersey; I was so happy to do it for an obvious baseball fan, and it is something I plan on doing the rest of my career. If I can give someone a positive lasting memory or experience that I would have done anything as a kid to have gotten, I am certainly going to do it now that I am in a position to. Not every game, and not for every fan, of course, but every so often the opportunity is there and the stars align. Be polite, be respectful, don’t ask, but there’s always the chance that if you say “Hi” I’ll be able to introduce you to your favorite player. We all only get to spend so many days in major-league stadiums in our lives, whether we’re a fan, an agent or even a player. If we can help it, those days shouldn’t go to waste. Res Ipsa Loquitor
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