Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Augusta, Ga--Sports fans and autographs have always gone together. In recent years, Dale Murphy and Cal Ripken Junior have stopped by Lake Olmstead to sign a few pics. But for three lifelong autograph enthusiasts, the potential stars mean just as much as the superstar.
20 years of hard work. The Autograph Guys of Augusta are always at GreenJackets home games.
"It's a great hobby. You meet a lot of nice people. Probably the only drawback is that it's hot." said Mike Hooker
With binders full of baseball icons, these guys have met thousands of players. So many that the memories don't always stand out.
"A lot of the Yankees that have come through I've enjoyed. I don't think I really have one person. They all kind of run together after 20 years." added autograph hunter TIm
What doesn't run is the ink on the photos nor the history behind them. It's a sport steeped in tradition, and the autograph guys have a piece of it.
"Watching them on TV. I'm sitting there saying "hey, I saw them, I got them in Augusta. A lot of the major leaguers that you see...it's kind of nice to say I've got a picture of them. I got him and talked to him here."added Tim
It's almost impossible to put a price tag on pictures like these. Fresh-faced rookie shots of Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones. Sometimes history has a higher value than dollars and cents.
"It's more like a badge of honor. You've met these people over time. It's kind of like your keepsake of traveling. It's not for the monetary value." said Ed
The autograph guys are proud of their pictures, but they've never sold them. They give them to friends or family. They always give one to the players, signing on the line.
"You take a picture of some kid and he gives it to his parents or his girlfriend. You see the smile on their face and you think maybe you are doing the right thing." added Ed
Simply a hobby. Money spent or earned doesn't affect the passion the Autograph guys have for their game.
Doing this for 20 plus years. These guys haven't missed many prospects. They say they've gotten the signatures of at least 95 percent of the players making their way through the South Atlantic League.