Most sports prohibit players from signing autographs, and this was especially noticeable at Cactus League baseball games in the Phoenix region. For many young fans, getting autographs at spring training is a rite of passage. For other players, it can be an annoying distraction. When you add in the fact that many athletes make little more than minimum wage, it's not hard to understand why most teams don't want them doing business with those who aren't associated with their program.
In some cases, teams will allow players to sign autographs under certain conditions. For example, if a player is wearing a uniform that bears his or her team's logo, then they are usually allowed to sign merchandise. If a player is not affiliated with any team, then they cannot sell anything. Also, players must avoid making statements during interviews or public appearances that could be interpreted as endorsing other products or companies.
Some athletes believe that by extending them hand(s) in friendship, they are being helpful and don't realize how much work goes into preparing for a game or tour. Others may feel uncomfortable with the attention and refuse to engage with the fans. Yet others may be trying to line their pockets with money they don't really have.
Whatever the reason, most teams don't want players selling things that belong to them.
Instead, with audiences in Scottsdale restricted to 750 to 1,000, the idea will be similar to the conclusion of spring training in 2020, when players were ordered not to sign autographs for fans in the grandstand due to social-distancing rules. That season, MLB announced it would limit autograph signings to 200 feet from the players' bags of balls and bats.
The new policy was expected to be announced this week during a news conference with several team executives. It was first reported by The Athletic on March 18.
Players are allowed to speak with reporters during Spring Training, but they cannot be photographed or recorded without their consent.
In addition to taking care of business on the field, the Yankees also have some work to do in the offseason. New York is over the luxury tax threshold of $197 million and would owe additional money if it wins the World Series. General manager Brian Cashman said earlier this month that adding payroll is one of his main goals this year.
The Yankees lost out on free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and could lose out on Joe Mauer if he decides to retire after all these years. They did bring back most of their core this past season and made the playoffs for the ninth time in ten years. They will look to continue that trend this year with a strong lineup full of power hitters.
Even the most prominent sportsmen will spend 5–10 minutes signing autographs before and after workouts and games. During a normal game day, these are the four finest periods to obtain autographs. Ideally, you'd stand around near the clubhouse and observe them as they walked to and from the practice field or stadium. But if you don't have that luxury, then note where they go inside the building and look for evidence of this in the locker room afterward.
Signing balls has become popular in recent years, but only a few elite players do it regularly. Still, if you come across a famous player who has signed balls before, take advantage of the opportunity. Just make sure that you get his or her permission first. Also be aware that some players may give out their signature with certain restrictions, such as only on items sold by a particular company or only while wearing certain clothes. They may even ask you not to report what they write! Know before you go.
Some athletes prefer not to sign balls because they feel like it devalues the ball, but that's a mistake. Knowing that so many people want their autograph makes other fans interested in the player, which means more money going into his or her pocket at auction or during game days. Don't underestimate the power of a signed ball!
Some athletes claim that signing balls hurts their hands, but that's not true.
Forging player signatures on team-signed baseballs was a frequent practice among team staff. While many of the signatures on a baseball may be genuine, some player autographs may be of the clubhouse sort owing to player unavailability, etc. Team officials would often sign balls in order to give them more value and prevent them from being thrown out by game officials. Forgers would take signed balls into home games where they would be offered for sale to fans. The fraud was so common that it had its own term: "balling."
In February 2004, MLB launched a campaign against balling. They sent letters to major league teams warning that forgery of player signatures on baseballs was a violation of copyright law and could result in legal action if not stopped. Teams were advised to check all signed balls before use in play.
In September 2005, an Indianapolis man was sentenced to two years' probation after he admitted forging $100,000 worth of players' names on baseballs that he sold online and at local sports stores. He also ordered $10,000 in merchandise using credit cards with fraudulent charges. An investigation revealed that he had forged at least 50 signatures including those of Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) members Andy Pettitte, Jason Bay, and Mike Lowell.