Even though it’s still early in the season, it’s never too early to start planning to add to your autograph collection. If you weren’t able to head down to Spring Training, then you can always grab some autographs of your favorite players right here in Atlanta once the regular season starts, and it can be easy to do if you know where and when to ask.
I’ve spent many afternoons and evenings at Turner Field watching the Braves, and as an avid autograph collector, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to get autographs while there. Here’s a quick list of tips to help you increase your chances of getting an autograph:
- Before the game, you can wait outside the gate at the players parking lot and snag a few autographs. Bring one of those fold-up camping chairs, a book, some snacks, and your gear to get signed, and be sure to show up about 3 hours before game time. If you’re unsure about where the players parking lot is located, you can see it just behind the stadium at the corner of Bill Lucas Drive and Hank Aaron Drive on Google Maps. Usually 3-5 players will sign before a game.
- If you want to get autographs from the visiting team, go to the players entrance along Pollard Boulevard (see the Google Map if you don’t know where that is; it runs parallel to the 3rd base side of the field). Usually several players will show up in taxis, and there’s just a small police barrier between players and fans, so I generally have better luck getting autographs there than at the Braves parking lot.
- Inside the stadium, you can only get autographs before or after the game. According to the Braves website, fans can ask for autographs along the outfield side of each dugout from the time the gates open until 1 hour before the game starts. Gates open about 2.5 hours before the game, and you are allowed to go down to the field level exactly 2 hours before the game, leaving you with about an hour to get autographs. It’s usually pretty difficult to get autographs this way, but if you have field level tickets around home plate then you can hang out along the dugouts up until the game starts and you might be able to pick up an extra autograph or two.
- After the game is over, head back to the players parking lot and you might grab a few more autographs before it’s time to go home. Some players will stop and sign on a good night, and you’ll usually have a small crowd on hand so you won’t have to fight for autographs. I haven’t had a lot of success getting autographs after the game, but right after the game you’ll be stuck in traffic if you try and leave, so why not wait around and try to snag a few more autos?
- The last tip I have is probably the best, so pay attention! When the Braves wrap up a home stand and are headed out of town on a road trip, they always exit the stadium and get on the team bus just past the players parking lot. The entire team rides to the airport together, and they all board the bus at about the same time, so if you plan ahead and get tickets for the last game of a home stand, wait behind the stadium towards the end of the game, and you should see a barricaded walkway leading to the team buses. Hang out there with your gear and guys like Chipper and Teixeira might be a little more willing to sign than they normally would be.
As always, be courteous, say “please” and “thank you”, have several good pens and your stuff ready to be signed. Also, be kind to other fans, take your turn, and let the kids go first. If you have any other tips, feel free to post them here, and as always, good luck and let me know how it goes!