Monday, August 24, 2009

Nolan Ryan Mets Autograph and MAB Show Recap

The good news: I have a Nolan Ryan autograph baseball.
The bad news: I wanted to get more autographs.

On Sunday, Aug. 23, I went to the MAB 1969 Mets reunion show on Long Island. I came in town the night before to see the Mets celebrate the 40-year anniversary of their amazing run.

The on-field celebration was awesome. They introduced all living members of the team and the family members of those who couldn't make it.

The MAB show was not as smooth. The hotel conference room was way too small. They packed dealer tables in everywhere leaving almost no room for two people to pass through the aisles.

The main attraction, the autograph session was a circus. In a 50'x 10' space they packed as many as 10 players and 15 or so people in line for each player. It was ridiculous and chaotic. Some show workers were doing their best to try and keep order while others were walking around complaining about the situation.

This just in: Blue painters tape should never be used as a divider. Show organizers used blue painters tape to separate the autograph area from the rest of the show. Painter's tape? I'm not asking for velvet rope, but tape?

The autograph area also didn't announce when players walked to the tables and arrived. Instead they just started announcing, "Tickets 1-5 for Nolan Ryan." Give the players a welcome and introduce like they deserve to be. I want to hear, "Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome one of baseballs all-time pitchers, a Hall-of-Famer, and holder of numerous baseball records... Nolan Ryan." This will allow people to cheer and make him feel welcome, instead of making it look like he's a commodity.

These were the problems inside the conference room - getting in was another issue. In a narrow hallway there were 3 lines, one for show admission ($5 was a good price), one line for call-ahead autograph tickets (like will-call) another line for same-day autograph ticket purchases and other items. I waited in line 15 minutes just to get my call-ahead autograph tickets (this was the short line). I can't imagine how long people waited in the same-day autograph ticket line.

To compound the issue were autograph times. The show opened at 9:00am and the first autograph guests began at 9:00am. Ed Kranepool (a pretty historic Mets player) was the first signer. They were announcing last ticket call for him while people were still in line to buy an autograph ticket for him.

I like MAB shows. They are fans of the players and the teams. They have a passion for what they do, but there needs to be improvement. I'm sure others like me wanted to get other player autographs and look at the tables, but felt the need to escape because of the environment. I would have paid to get Cleon Jones and Buddy Harrleson autographs but the thought of leaving the autograph area, standing in a long line to get another ticket and then trying to make my way to the area was more than I wanted to deal with.

As an owner, organizer, or marketer, you want to make it as easy as possible for someone to purchase your product, unfortunately, this time MAB fell short.

Here's what I'd change:
- Open the show before the first autograph guests is announced.
- Have a bigger show room or use multiple rooms.
- Introduce the players and allow collectors to cheer their arrival.
- Have a bigger area to accept 3 lines

Nolan didn't say much when I got his autograph. I said "thank you for doing this" and that I appreciated it. He just said, "sure" and signed the baseballs. I don't think I even got eye contact. To some players, autograph sessions are away to stay in touch with the fans, to others it's more of a business. Maybe it's all business for him? He wasn't rude or on the phone (Hello Tony Dorrset), so it wasn't a big deal.

I plan on attending the MAB catcher-themed show in November. Hopefully things will improve.


Wax Heaven said...

Wow, it looks like he's shed some weight since the health scare.

Did he look slimmer to you?

JRJ said...

@Wax Heaven:
He did look a bit thinner. He seemed to move around pretty good. Maybe working with those Texas pitchers is working for him? I was hoping the Wilpons would talk him in to running the Mets franchise! I don't see it happening though.

Seeing Nolan, Seaver, and Koosman through out the first pitches Saturday night to Yogi, Grote, and Gentry was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the poor organization at the show. I hope things go better for you at the November one.