Friday, May 3, 2013

Autograph signings a family affair for Potter

Bret Boone / Chris Potter
Baseball possesses a magical power to connect young and old through the history of the game. Passed down from father to son, these shared tales of the legends of yesteryear keep players from decades past relevant today. With the pictures of their youth immortalized on pieces of cardboard, collecting memorabilia has been one such way for families to share in the baseball tradition.

Chris Potter is a specialist at bridging fans with these cardboard heroes, navigating the back roads of the United States to conduct autograph signings with retired baseball players. Potter’s clients range from those whose careers amounted to a "cup of coffee," to those who have reached the baseball's pinnacle, the Hall of Fame. His next round of travels begins on May 10, 2013 and will include a special partner in these cross country expeditions, his father.

“My father just retired from being a police officer of 40 years. He’s coming out with me for this trip and I couldn’t be more excited for him to come along. He’s going to spend the next month with me on the road,” said Potter from his offices in Maryland.

Potter believes having his father around for these series of visits are the residue of baseball’s ability to bond father and son.

“The reason why it’s America’s pastime is because it’s been passed down from generation to generation,” he said.

A few of the players Potter will be conducting signings with have made baseball the family business. Bret Boone, a three-time All-Star, was a third generation major leaguer. His father Bob enjoyed a 19-year major league career as a catcher, and grandfather Ray won a World Series with the 1948 Cleveland Indians. Vernon Law, the 1960 Cy Young Award winner, nurtured his son Vance to follow his major league footprint.

Also in this round of Potter’s signings that includes 90 former major league players, are well known veterans such as Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, and Jack McDowell, as well as baseball obscurities such as Drungo Hazewood, whose career lasted an ever so short five plate appearances.

With the many names that Potter will be encountering, there is a father somewhere that will have a tale crystallizing the moment they saw one of these ballplayers on a good day. An autograph on a treasured baseball card or photo will further the conversation. Hopefully for Potter, he’ll get a few of these yarns spun his way by his traveling companion on this round of signings.


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