12½ years after getting my last autograph by a baseball player (Russ Johnson), I returned to the Phillies complex, which had been renamed since my last visit, in hopes of getting Phillies manager and Hall of Fame member, Ryne Sandberg.
I had given up on the sport of baseball and collecting baseball cards for different reasons. One of them is that I had moved out of state, once again leaving Florida behind. However, autograph collecting didn't completely stop as I would continue getting music CDs signed.
It was my brother, Brian, who brought me back to collecting. He called me on the morning of February 15, 2014 to tell me he had just gotten Ryne Sandberg's autograph. I asked where, and he said at the complex. I had no idea he was going there and told him I would've met up with him had I known. He then asks if he can come over. He shows up, autographed picture in hand, and says, "Dan, look what I got. Do you have Ryne Sandberg's autograph?" Basically, rubbing it in my face. That night, hours after my brother had left, I made the decision that I was going to go to the complex the very next day and not tell my brother. First, I had to rummage through my closet in hopes I could find something for Ryne to sign. Ironically, I had the same exact photo as my brother.
I get to the complex early in the morning and see the players working out. Ryne was working with the catchers, rotating from field to field. Somehow, I get to a spot where I'm all by myself and Ryne is walking right toward me. I ask him for an autograph and he tells me he'll be right out as he walks into the locker room. A minute or so later, the door slightly opens and the security guard is called over. From where I'm standing, I can't see who the guard is talking to. The door closes and the guard says to me, "Ryne wants you to come in." He opens the door for me and there's the Phillies manager to greet me. I guess he didn't want to draw a crowd signing an autograph, so, that's why I got special treatment. It was a pretty awesome experience.
I immediately sent a text message to my brother.
Ryne signed an 8x10 photo.