I live in St. Louis and am pretty lucky to have met quite a few athletes. In St. Louis, unlike some other cities (NY), athletes can actually go out in public without geting mobbed.
Met Lou Brock about 10 yrs. ago in line at Schnucks. He was buying wine and cheese and I got his autograph on my cash register receipt.
My brother dated Mike Shannon's daughter and we used to hang out at his house.
I was at a bar with my sister 2 yrs. ago and Fernando Vina hit on her (yes, he IS married). She turned him down flat, he walked away like he just took a Big Unit curve for stricke three.
Sat with Whitey Herzog and Buck O'Neil at an Amateur baseball HOF dinner. Now THAT was a great evening!
I was on the field at Busch taking pictures of a kid throwing out a first pitch. We got to watch BP and Mark McGwire spent his time between his turns talking to me and the kid. He's a great guy if he's not in public, but if he is, he walks right past you. I've seen him in his hotel lobby also.
I also do quite a lot of volunteer work related to child safety issues and have met Grant Wistrom, Keith Tkchuck, Ozzie Smith (several times), Kurt Warner, Jackie Smith, Charlie Spoonhour (GREAT guy!), Willie McGee and others.
Brett Hull used to own a restaurant when he was here and he would go through the room signing menus for patrons. He would sit at your table, talk for a few minutes, then go to the next one.
I go to a lot of local high school games and have met Dan Dierdorf, Andy VanSlyke (real jerk), Peter Stastny, Stan Musial (several times, he will talk to ANYONE, all day long), Red Schoendinst, John Tudor, and lots of others.
My best story, though, is this:
I was in an arport waiting to pick up my mother-in-law early on a Sunday morning about 15 years ago. I was looking up at the monitor to see if her plane was on time. Some guy rushing to catch a flight crashes into me and knocks me down. I get up, pi**ed as hell, ready to fight. I'm starting to get up, ready to say something stupid like "I oughta kick your a**" when this HUGE hand reaches down, grabs my arm and picks me up. I look up - way up - and see Hulk Hogan! Needless to say, I kept my mouth shut. He apologized "sorry about that little buddy" (I'm 6-1). I followed him to his gate and he autographed a picture for me.
Piece of advice - ALWAYS say hi to a famous person, even in a restaurant. Don't be a pest, just say something nice, and be quick. Most of these guys are rally nice (why woudn't they be, they are heroes that make millions) and if you don't draw too much attention, they are happy to sign an autograph. In fact, Ozzie Smith has told me that he gets sort of insulted or feels bad if people don't talk to him. like they think he is better than them or something, and they don't want people to think that way.
"You can observe a lot by watching" Yogi