O's Vaughn knows autograph game

MEMORABILIA Notebook

December 13, 1992|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Staff Writer

Rick Vaughn understands the heartache of the autograph-seeker.

He used to be one, waiting patiently before and after games for a chance to make a polite request, sending requests by mail to other heroes.

Now he's the Orioles public relations chief and hears from fans about their autograph failures at Camden Yards. He also seeks autographs from players for charities the Orioles support.

He didn't get all the complaints Notebook

last season. A number of them appeared in letters on The Sun's sports and editorial pages. People couldn't understand why players didn't honor all pre-game autograph requests.

"When I do get letters like that, I try to make people aware how big a business this is, how intrusive it is in [players'] lives," he says. "It's gotten hard on the average person who brings their kid to the ballpark."

One problem Vaughn sees is time, or lack of it. Major League Baseball rules permit players to sign autographs until the end of batting practice. The Orioles post this reminder on the scoreboard and also run it in their programs. Batting practice ends 45 minutes before the first pitch, at 6:50 for night games. The Orioles bat until 6:15, leaving 35 minutes before team meetings.

OC What else can players do with that 35 minutes besides sign auto

graphs? They can talk with reporters, work on conditioning, answer fan mail or sign balls and other material requested by the team.

"From a P. R. standpoint, we love them to sign [on the field]," says Vaughn.

If you don't see your favorite Oriole signing balls and programs before the game, don't think he won't sign anything. Clubhouse signing is extensive, says Vaughn. "There's always some group that we're trying to help." Many things being signed are auction items for charities.

Pushy autograph seekers stalk the players on the road. Vaughn says he has seen youngsters staking out hotels for players. Then there are the people who hang around after games, game after game, collecting autographs -- to sell.

L "[Players are] not being snobs. They're inundated," he says.

The mail piles up in the off-season, too. Players in the area report three days a week for weight work and running.

And they collect their mail. The Orioles forward mail to players out of town "when it gets substantial."

Vaughn remembers the thrill of getting an autograph in the mail.

"I was ecstatic when it said 'To Rick,' " he says. "I loved [getting autographs]. . . . I always stayed after the game with my dad."

Ryan on your wrist

The makers of Fossil watches have produced a collector's set featuring a Nolan Ryan autographed baseball, an illustrated watch and certificate of authenticity. Production was limited to 5,000. Look for them at major department stores.

Coming events

Today, baseball card show sponsored by Goucher women's soccer team to benefit Baltimore area homeless organizations (expected signers include Dick Hall and Mike Bielecki), Goucher College (donation of non-perishable food item admits children 10 and under), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 285-6980.

Today, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn (I-695, Exit 17), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

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