My father in-law Dave and I went to Toronto today for the Jays/Angels. It was a decent game, nothing special. The Angels won 3-0. I had the tickets as part of my 10-game flex pack I purchased from the Jays. I chose the game because there are some Angels whose autographs I wanted. The Angels didn’t do BP, which was odd for a Saturday, so I struck out on the autograph front.
Lucky for me, I caught wind of an in-store autograph signing with HOFer and fellow MLBlogger Brooks Robinson in Toronto at 10am. It was less than .5 miles from the Rogers Centre, which opened at 11am, so it worked out pretty well. Brooks was in town to celebrate the opening of the Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball club’s season. What I should have done was got tickets to the dinner he was appearing at along with fellow HOFers Fergie Jenkins and Robin Roberts, and ex-MLBers Dave Stewart and "The Hawk" Andre Dawson, but it was sold out. Dinner and 2 autographs from each guy for $67 Canadian dollars, not bad at all. Instead I spent $30 Canadian dollars to have him sign my ball, which was great considering at a HOF Show in Cooperstown it costs $59 American.
I’ve been to quite a few signings at shows and at stores and this was by far the best one I have ever been to. We got there at about 10 minutes to 10 and Brooks was already in the back talking to some fans. Usually the guy comes out at start time and they shuffle you through a line and all you do is get your item signed, you’re lucky to get a photo and a handshake. Brooks was out telling stories. I bought my ticket and went back and listened. A woman asked him if she could see his World Series ring. Brooks took it right off, gave it to the woman, who put it on her finger and paraded around the store with it showing it to everyone. I think Brooks would have been fine with her leaving the store with it he was that nice. A guy who I presumed was the owner of the store (Legends Of The Game) said it was a pretty informal signing and everyone could feel free to talk to Brooks for as long as they wanted, take pictures, basically whatever you wanted. Like I mentioned above, you don’t usually see this at a show. Most of the time, the guy gives off the impression he doesn’t want to be bothered. Brooks seemed happy to be there and happy to interact with the fans, of which there were about 15 or so. It was a pretty small gathering of fans.
One guy was having Brooks sign the famous Norman Rockwell photo titled "Gee Thanks Brooks." It’s a picture of Brooks signing autographs. The guy asked if Brooks would add his induction year along with the year he won the MVP and that he is a 16-time Gold Glove winner. Brooks was happy to oblige and even added a few extra accomplishments the guy didn’t ask for. The guy made out like a bandit because normally getting a player to add the "extras" costs extra, typically $15 per extra. Not bad. I just had him sign the ball on the sweet spot and add his induction year. I wanted to hang around and talk baseball but I’m not the type to make others wait and we had to get to the Rogers Centre to get in line so I could get to the prime autograph spot. I told Brooks I’d see him in Cooperstown and he said he couldn’t wait for Induction Weekend.
My father in-law and I walked away saying how Brooks was by far the nicest player we had ever met. My father in-law used to own a baseball card store and has taken part in a large number of shows so he’s met quite a few. Brooks seemed happy to be there and genuinely wanted to talk to everyone. He actually stuck his hand out to shake your hand first. Usually a guy just signs your ball and barely acknowledges you. If you want a handshake, you make the first move. It was the opposite with Brooks. He stuck his hand out first and thanked everyone for coming. He was full of class all the way.
Brooks Robinson represents everything that’s great about baseball. He is a true ambassador of the sport and if you haven’t checked out his blog, you should. You’ll see that like Brooks, it’s 100% class. If only more guys would carry themselves like Brooks does.
I only wish I brought my camera.