The funny thing about missing Hank Aaron in while I was getting Kevin Mitchell’s autograph was that I had absolutely nothing for him to sign anyway. I mean I guess I could have gotten it on my Giants-branded baseball but that would’ve been all kinds of wrong. It was only after getting all the Old Timers signatures on hotel stationery and having filled up the Giants ball that I managed to talk my mom into buying a brand-new National League baseball.
Getting that ball probably cursed my autograph hunting for that trip since it was the transition between being satisfied at getting most of what I brought signed to wanting more more and MORE. Hank Aaron became my goal for the rest of that weekend. I came close a few times but repeatedly failed. When it became clear that I wasn’t going to get his signature I started to sorry about “wasting” my baseball and wanted to get it signed by anyone.
This is about the point where my mom yanked me out of the hotel and walked me down to the Philadelphia Mint. The walk was long enough to cool down and get a talk—not a lecture, just a talk—about obsession and how easy it is to get greedy and lose track of things. I’d been ecstatic just getting Donell Nixon’s signature only a day or so earlier. Now I was all upset about wasting a new baseball because I had no more room on the previous one. And the Mint was cool I also collected coins (naturally) and so seeing how they were made and buying a proof set cheered me up.
Anyway, two years later my mom accompanied me to a card show, purchased a Hank Aaron baseball, and managed to hide it from me both throughout the show and until Christmas. I’d sort of forgotten about the Philadelphia experience but she noticed that I’d learned my lesson and figured that I’d put enough legwork in trying to get Aaron’s autograph that I deserved one.