Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's a sign of the times

Baseball autographs go high-tech as players, fans connect via iPad

  • Print

Jim NASH is such a big Yankees fan that he named his son George Mattingly Nash, combining two of his favourite players: George Herman Ruth and Don Mattingly.

So when he noticed Mattingly was participating in a startup venture called Egraphs, which offered an autographed digital picture with a handwritten note and a personalized audio message, he didn't think twice about paying $50. Nash never would have walked up to the Los Angeles Dodgers manager and asked for his signature.

"It's much easier, especially for a grown man," the West Virginia native said. "It's much more personal."

Egraphs launched at the All-Star break, a technological breakthrough that extends the autograph business from the age-old methods of writing to stars, leaning across ballpark railings and hanging around hotel lobbies.

Now, power up the computer and get a prize from the likes of R.A. Dickey, Cliff Lee, Andrew McCutchen and Clayton Kershaw. Or even retired stars that include Pedro Martinez.

"It's actually kind of cool. It's like new age for me," Mattingly said.

David Auld, a former Microsoft employee who is the Seattle-based company's chief executive officer, started the venture last October and brought in former major leaguer Gabe Kapler as director of business development. Kapler was contacted by Auld's brother, Brian, the senior vice-president of business operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, Kapler's team from 2009-10.

"Taking the cold out of the autograph experience with the celebrity made a lot of sense," Kapler said.

In an era in which players carry iPads and wireless has become more ever-present in clubhouses than smokeless tobacco, the idea seems to have caught on rather quickly. Among the early players to sign up were Tampa Bay's David Price and manager Joe Maddon.

The company's website, www.egraphs.com, lists about 130 players, with several sold out -- including David Ortiz, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia. Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the player.

For the players, the process is relatively easy and speedy.

"We built a custom iPad application," said David Auld, who used engineers he knew from high school. "They record an audio message through the iPad microphone."

Consumers can share their Egraph on social networks and purchase a framed print with a certificate of authenticity. Each signature and recording is biometrically verified.

"It's cool. The best part of that is the audio," said New York Mets 20-game winner R.A. Dickey. "I get to give an audio message to a fan, which is pretty neat."

Each of Dickey's messages is different.

"It all depends on the note that they write and what they share," he said.

Among the audio messages thus far, St. Louis first baseman Matt Carpenter told a fan named Laura "if it wasn't for sugar-free vanilla pudding, I'd have no chance in the big leagues! Thanks for all your support -- and Go Cards!"

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2012 D4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Manitoba needs stronger regulations for temporary workers?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google