Autographs. They are the lifeblood of super fans everywhere. And most will do anything to get a big star’s signature on whatever they can from a picture to a jersey to a ball to a boob. But in this never-ending quest to build a Hall of Fame-worthy collection, super fans, at times, get caught up in the chase and thereby overlook the level of fame of the person signing their collectible. One can only imagine the embarrassment they feel when, upon returning home to show off their newest addition, someone asks, “Who exactly is Dirk Wingate?” and they have absolutely no idea. A no-name signature not only diminishes the value of their collection, it can also seriously damage their reputation. Thankfully, by simply observing a few key points, one can easily distinguish a major league from a minor league ball player – and never again get the wrong autograph.
The first thing to take note of, and one of the most visible differences between the two groups, is appearance. Major league salaries are well documented. And so are the egos – and vanity – that come with the substantial salary. As such, big leaguers will be the ones with the perfectly coiffed hair. And, though it may not appear that way, every hair on their head is in just the right place. (They’re also a very good chance that they’ll have frosted tips.)
A minor leaguer, on the other hand, will have a rather shaggy do. Most likely some version of a mullet or a crew cut as their pay scale means a local barber will be doing the cutting, not some famous John Frieda-type.
As for facial hair, five o’clock shadow is the favoured look of most ball players. The difference being, big leaguers do it purposefully, and are well groomed, while minor leaguers just don’t shave as much.
While on the subject of appearance we must, of course, discuss clothing. Referring back to the aforementioned salary, big league players dress like they’re straight out of a fashion ad. From a Saville Row suit to a pair of $700 pants to a muscle hugging v-neck t-shirt, every piece of clothing in their wardrobe is stylist approved.
A pair of faded blue jeans, sneakers or cowboy boots and an old novelty t-shirt are immediate signs of a minor leaguer. Every now and then they may throw on a suit jacket, but they’re still easily identifiable by the jacket’s leather or corduroy elbow patches. This is in no way a knock on their classic all-American style. It is simply a sign that they don’t yet have the money to hire someone to dress them.
The final appearance-related item to look out for is jewelry. And this all comes down to one thing: diamonds. A major leaguer will be easy to spot, as they’ll be the one “blinged-out” from head-to-toe in baseball sized rocks – most of which will be part of a diamond-encrusted cross. Minor leaguers may also sport a cross, but theirs will be a simple gold version. You might also spot them in a hoop or stud earring, a Livestrong braclet and a high school or college class ring.
Moving on we’ll take a look at the player’s lifestyle and how, when spotted out on the town, you’ll know who to offer a pen to.
If they arrive at their destination on foot and are waiting in line, they’re not yet collection material. If they’re dropped off in a Maybach, Phantom or other high-end car and make a move to bypass the line, get your pen out.
Inside the club, if they’re drinking Jack Daniels with a beer back, save your ink. If they’re surrounded by an entourage and have members of said entourage fetching bottles of Grey Goose or Veuve Clicquot, keep your eyes open for when they make a break for the restroom and have your pen ready when they exit.
Another key indicator is the woman they’re with (or, in some cases, women). An abundance of exposed skin, augmented breasts, a fake tan, and a lack of conversation define the woman you’ll find with a major leaguer. (Note: this only happens on road trips. In their home town, you’ll spot a trophy that has recently been plucked from a Miss America pageant.) A well but respectfully-dressed down-home beauty with a sharp wit and taste for gin will be seen on the arm of a minor leaguer all season long as these players need someone to keep them company on the long road trips – plus, they can’t afford the high-class escorts the big leaguers favour while on the road.
During the off-season, the hunt for the next big name autograph doesn’t end. But where the hunt takes place does. For instance, to find a big leaguer, you’ll have to find yourself in the world’s most exotic locations. If that’s not in the plans, don’t fret, spring training and joys of a new season come fast. As for minor leaguers, you’ll know not to ask for an autograph if you they’re stacking towels at the health club where you’re vacationing or delivering you a pizza.
There are many more ways to tell a major league from a minor league baseball player but I believe I have covered the most useful ones. Though if I were to offer one more piece of advice it would be that, when asking for an autograph the player attempts to charge you, he’s a major leaguer, and if he seems surprised to have a pen thrust in his face, he’s a minor leaguer.
(Authors note: Due to recent legal developments, you can be 100% sure you’ve met a major leaguer if they offer you a large quantity of performance enhancing drugs for well below market price.)