So what's the big deal about a baseball autograph?

It is funny some of the things we remember from our youth. I can specifically remember standing in the parking lot at Memorial Stadium - I think it was in 1974 - and talking to Claudell Washington of the Oakland A's.

He was holding a cab waiting for Reggie Jackson to ride back to the team hotel. He was not happy that Reggie was holding him up, but, hey, it was Reggie. I can remember being there waiting, but I can't remember when Reggie ever showed up, or if we even saw him that day.

Of course, he would show up there to play again, as an Oriole, two years later.

I can remember as a kid, my friends and I being so stunned when we ran into Chuck Thompson outside the stadium that we could hardly speak. Classy as always, Chuck spoke with us and quickly made us feel comfortable. He talked with us like we had known him for years. That man was just special in every way.

I remember the hundreds of times me and my young friends stood outside the gates at Memorial Stadium, waiting for the place to open. We would rush to the left field bleachers to try and catch batting practice homers. The anticipation of getting there built up all day.

It was great fun but this I do remember with 100 percent accuracy: I never got a ball but I don't regret a minute I spent out there trying.

Here is one thing I don't remember from my youth: getting many autographs. If I did, I don't have them anymore.

Back then, an autograph seemed to be a real big deal and proof you had met someone famous. Now, it can be proof that you paid a certain amount to have someone famous sign something and the encounter may have lasted six seconds.

That seems rather impersonal to me. But I know some fans would do just about anything to get an autograph. I don't completely understand that, but I still respect their right to do it.

This weekend, I was hoping to hear some of your autograph stories, especially those involving the Orioles. Did you get many when you were a kid? Were they easy to get then and what is your all-time favorite autograph?

Why are autographs still such a big deal? Have you ever paid for one? At the games, when is the best time to get one? What is your best story about getting one away from the ballpark?

I think it will be fun to hear some autograph stories this weekend, so please feel free to leave one here.

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