Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mo's Autograph

I once got Mariano Rivera's autograph.

It was in his rookie year of 1995. At that time, Mo was just a skinny young kid trying to figure out a way to stay in the bigs. He was then but a marginally effective starter, threw with maybe a little less velocity than he would soon find on his pitches and that cutter, which he must have thrown 10 million times in the coming years, was not yet being incubated.

This was a universe where it did not cost a year's salary to take your family to the game, where good seats were within one's contemplation and the secret police was not standing guard, obstructing your entrance to a section which your tickets did not otherwise permit you to occupy.

In those long ago days, my kids and I, together with one of my friends and his two children, had a partial season package. We sat in a section with some of the wives and significant others of the ballplayers. And thus, there were people around us who players, like young Mariano, might have known.

On this particular occasion we arrived well before game time, as was our habit. And we were allowed to gather near the field, pen and paper in hand, to get autographs of the young men who wandered over from their station on the diamond.

We stood behind the screen at home plate. And I distinctly recall Mo coming by to chat with a young woman who stood next to my kids and myself. I think he spoke to her in Spanish but that might be a manufactured memory.

I do know I found a scrap of paper and thrust it through the screen for this very young nobody to sign. We would accept the signature of any ballplayer because you never knew who might one day turn out to be the first player unanimously elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

Over the years, my kids and I gathered the signatures of many ballplayers. We have them on baseballs now yellowed with age, long hibernating in cabinets.. These names and our recollections of them as faded as the ink that is now barely legible. Their careers, in large measure, largely forgotten. The worth of this collected memorabilia next to none.

 Yet I have absolutely no idea where that autograph of Mo might be. In the intervening years there were a million ways in which it could have been lost or intentionally discarded. For all the times I might have, in other contexts, uttered the words, "its not worth the paper it is printed on", this does not hold true in this instance. Somehow I still hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, one day it will turn up.

I guess the odds  of that happening are about as good as that young man who stood but a few inches from me that afternoon turning out to be possibly the most unique player this game has ever seen.


Anonymous said...


It’s only fitting that the first Mr. 100 Percent is a Yankee. Take that, BooSox!


Anonymous said...

Excellent. What a player. If I knew you and your wife a few years ago we would have invited you to join us for dinner with Mo and his wife. Just kidding.


Anonymous said...

I remember it vividly - though perhaps from telling the story more than from the initial experiencing of it. Sadly, I don't think we will see that autograph again, but we'll always have the memory of it!


Robert said...

I think I know where to look for it... and hopefully find it

Anonymous said...


I hope the autograph turns up someday!