Brushes With Greatness: Meeting Mo Vaughn

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.

My First Red Sox Game

October 4th, 1992, was my first Red Sox game I ever attended. I was 6 years old and still remember enough of it that it’s great to look back on. This was also my first experience trying to get autographs of my favorite players. That part isn’t a fun thing to look back on.

We were in the midst of trying to sell our house and my dad told me we were going to a real estate place out in the city that had a baseball field across the street and we could go play catch there so he told me to grab my glove. I was excited as I was just about to start Little League and needed to practice as much as I could so I would make a team as I wanted to join the league early. We drove off from our house in Connecticut and 20 minutes later we hit the Massachusetts border. I was wondering why we were going to Massachusetts to check with real estate people but I didn’t care.

My 5 year old sister had a bloody nose on the way, right before we reached the Mass Pike and blood started flowing everywhere. We had to stop and grab some napkins to clean up and then finally hit the Mass Pike. We get to the first toll booth and grab our ticket. My dad very loudly yells, “Which exit is Fenway Park?” Well that ruined the whole surprise. All of the sudden a huge smile came over my face as I knew where we were headed. He tried to play it off like I misheard him but my mom knew the jig was up. I was going to my first Red Sox game.

It was a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon in Boston and we got their early enough to see some batting practice. My dad gave me a ball and said to go down towards to dugout and try and get some autographs, he followed shortly behind me. Our seats were great, row GG right behind the dugout. We weren’t a rich family, turns out my dad got them from his job in Hartford for us to attend the last Red Sox game of the season. It wasn’t an important game as they were out of the playoff picture, but the place was busy.

I went down right in front of the batting circle and just held out my ball and a pen. I had no idea what to do. Everyone around me was yelling for the players warming up to come over and sign. I just stood there with my ball and pen held out. Mike Greenwell, who I thought the Green Monster was named after since he played left field, came over and started signing autographs to my right. He stops one person short of me and then stops as my dad yells, “Sign one for this kid!” He looked at my dad and turned and walked away. I was devastated, so close to getting my first Red Sox autograph and Mike Greenwell stopped at a 6 year old kid.

The rest of my time down there no one else signed. John Valentin was running out to do some stretches as my mom came down to console me and her and I waved to him as he ran out. He just smiled and blew a kiss at my mother. My mom was happy, but I wasn’t! I wanted an autograph! I remember looking over at the batting circle and one of the player’s kids and wife was there. The kid had to be 2 or 3 and pretended to swing a bat and run in circles on the dirt in front of me.

Needless to say I didn’t get my autograph. But the game was next. It was against the rival Yankees. I don’t remember much about the game besides Mo Vaughn had a big double and Tom Brunansky came in as a pinch hitter. I loved Bruno as a kid, he was my favorite player so being able to see him get a hit was the highlight of my day. I also remember a foul ball landing about 3 rows in front of me and I was so excited I was almost able to catch it.

Finally, I remember a Red Sox win. 8 – 2. After the third out was caught, I remember the Red Sox throwing all their batting gloves and sweat bands over the dugout for the fans. I was a few rows too far away.

It would of been a let down except I had the most fun that day. I was able to see the team I loved for the first time. I was able to watch them win. I was able to see Ted Williams famous home run seat in right field before the game from my seat. I was finally able to say to my friends at school that I went to a Red Sox game. I will never forget the sights and smells from that first game in Boston.

It was the best experience a 6 year old Red Sox fan could ever have.