It was 1995 (so Alex hadn't really done anything yet) at a smallish sports card show in the greater Seattle area. I went in with a friend on a table to sell off some cards. I had a younger friend of mine that was about 14 that went with us to hang out.
He also had bought a ticket to get Alex's autograph.
First of all, Alex was late arriving. Okay, that could happen to anyone.
The attendance at this thing was really disappointing, and the line for his autograph was quite manageable. Still A-Rod refused to personalize autographs stating "if I sign one for you I'll have to sign one for everyone." Again, there weren't many people in line.
Then, he goes on a lunch break less than an hour after arriving.
When he returns my friend gets in line and finally gets his autograph. After receiving the autograph he says "Thanks, Alex." Alex replies...
"Yeah, whatever man."
I talked to my friend about it the other day and he still remembers that moment vividly. He confirmed that those were Alex's exact words and he'll never forget them.
What sad is that I think this is how most pro athletes are and feel about fans - even children fans. It should be our game. The fans should be the ones catered to. Instead it's all about greed, selfishness, and contempt.
I have this silly fantasy about being a pro baseball player. I don't fantasize about striking out Bonds or hitting a game-winning HR, I fantasize about dedicating my life and career to showing appreciation to the fans, one by one. I want to be that one guy that many individuals can say restored their faith in the game and made them proud to share it with their children. I want them to remember a brief period in time vividly 10 years later - and feel really good about it.
Sometimes I joke that as a white man that has almost no knowledge of where my pre-American ancestors came from, that I have no sense of culture or tradition. The fact is that I truly do feel a deep sense of tradition in baseball and Christmas, and I hold these traditions very dearly.
And in a quick side rant...
Some people say we turned a blind eye to steroids. I think a lot of us "knew" steroids were being used. But baseball is so ingrained in who I am that I cannot just give up baseball. I know there are millions of people out there like me, and I don't think we should shoulder the blame. It is the players fault for breaking the law/cheating and the league's/players union's fault for not giving a damn.
I hate you baseball, but I need you.