From time to time, I want to start writing posts about my brushes with professional sports players. From all of the major sports, I have come across professional sports players at signings, events, games, and even just walking around the city. I will feature an item I had autographed or just a card of that player along with my experience.
The first professional sports player I ever met was Mo Vaughn of the Boston Red Sox.
Mo Vaughn was my favorite baseball player growing up. I grew up a huge Red Sox fan thanks to my mother and my grandfather. There were two things I loved growing up in the 90s, playing baseball and watching the Red Sox. It was only fitting that I wanted to play first base my first year in Little League because I watched Mo Vaughn play there. Oddly enough, I never moved from that bag from age 8 to 17 when I finished playing baseball in high school.
My favorite player was always Mo Vaughn. Just watching him at the plate was something I looked forward to during every Sox game. Watching him crowd and hangover the plate with his elbow before crushing a ball anywhere in the park with his trademark swing will be something ingrained into my brain for my entire life.
When I was around 9 years old, my parents found out that Mo Vaughn was making an appearance and signing autographs at a car show in Hartford. I had never been so excited. I didn’t even care about the cars when I got there, all I cared about was seeing Mo Vaughn.
As I was waiting in line, I was overcome with fear. Just standing there watching him sign baseballs and pictures was just too much of an overload for a 9 year old kid. By the time I got up to the table, all I could do was say barely say an inaudible “hi” and hand him my baseball. I had other stuff there too I wanted him to sign but couldn’t give it to him. He smiled and ask how I was doing and I just stood there in awe. I don’t even remember which of my parents was up there with me but they answered for me as I watched him sign my baseball and give it back to me. He smiled and asked if I wanted anything else signed as I had a few things with me. I just smiled and handed him my baseball card and poster of him and he smiled and signed them. (I even had more in the bag but felt bad about having him sign everything.) I was so happy to have all these autographs and before we leave he asks if I wanted a picture with him. I didn’t even know what to say. He stood up and brought me around the table and put his big arm around me as a picture was taken by one of my parents. He then shook my hand and all I could see were these huge gold rings. He said thanks for coming out and seeing him and I muttered out a little thank you.
When one of my parents learned I didn’t ask for everything to be signed, they sent my sister up to him and got everything else signed too and he was just as nice to her as well.
Needless to say, my first face to face experience with a professional athlete was nothing short of amazing. The only real issue I had was that the autographed baseball faded a few years later either from the pen he used or the baseball I had. That is an item that I still wish I had in my possession, as well as the picture of Mr. Vaughn and myself. But the memories of meeting my favorite baseball player as a kid will always be a memory of mine.