A handful of autograph stories popped up all in the same day for me yesterday. In the morning, I had a movie screening to go to of The Comedian, where Robert De Niro plays a stand-up comedian that used to have a successful sitcom. It’s got a stellar cast (Harvey Keital, Danny DeVito, Leslie Mann...and a lot of real comedians playing themselves). I won’t give the review until the movie is a few days before release, but will tell you there’s an autograph scene. At one point, Jackie’s (De Niro) agent tells him she only has three possible gigs for him. That’s because he got 30 days in jail for hitting a fan in the crowd with the microphone. One of those is for the Democratic National Convention, another was at a retirement community, and the third was doing an autograph convention in Florida. It paid the most -- $25,000, so he took it. We see him selling autographed pictures next to Bobby Rydell, and of course, he’s not thrilled about doing it. This is only the second movie I recall showing a scene where somebody is paid to attend an autograph convention (the terrific “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke, had an amazing scene with his character doing that). One guy pulls out his cell phone, and wants Jackie to say a message to his wife and kid. Again, it’s probably one of the many things that bother stars about stopping to sign autographs now -- they’re asked to take selfies and videos for fans.
Anyway, in real life, there were some interesting things. Jeff Bagwell was named to the baseball Hall of Fame (I was a bit bummed that San Diego Padres pitching stud Trevor Hoffman didn’t make it in, but I digress). I was surprised when a reporter on Headline News, showed a picture of himself at age 14, standing next to Bagwell, that was autographed. He admitted to being an autograph collector, and said he’d always hang around the training camp and get autographs. He said Bagwell would always stay and sign for everyone, even if it was over 100 degrees outside. Always nice to see a Hall of Fame player being good to the fans, and it’s nice to hear a reporter talk about being an autograph collector. Especially since he still has the photo. Congrats to Bagwell on his accomplishments.
And on the subject of athletes doing classy things involving autographs...Houston Rockets star James Harden leads the NBA in….longest beard growth. But seriously, he’s been one of the best in the league for the last few years, and he’s always had a reputation as a nice guy. The other night, he scored 38 points, helping the Rockets beat the Bucks. He also had six assists, eight rebounds, and a couple blocked shots. It’s become a tradition in sports to receive the game ball after a good performance. He took that ball, autographed it, and gave it to a female fan sitting courtside. No, no...it’s not what you think. Lucy Pierce just turned 100-years-old. They had a brief chat, and Harden told ESPN that he was happy to have met her.
I think Lucy should make it a themed basketball, and get it signed by the best beard in the NBA. Hall of Famer Walt Frazier is doing some broadcasting, so he should be easy to get. Not sure where Vlade Divac is now, but...