Diamond Dirt: Making someone's day with an autograph

Dominic Genetti

I must admit I was pretty jealous Tuesday evening.

It was another hot and humid day in the Midwest just as the Hannibal (Mo.) Cavemen emerged from their clubhouse in left field inside historic Clemens Field to gear up and prepare for their first matchup of the season against the Quincy (Ill.) Gems.

Some of the players went to the dugout and dropped off their equipment while others stopped along the way to make the evening very special for a brother and sister, young baseball fans that arrived early to get the autographs of what could very well be future major leaguers.

Katie and Luke Smith got as many autographs as they could before the Tuesday hitters dual and as I snapped pictures for the newspaper, I couldn’t help but envy the star college athletes as they scribbled their names inside the youngsters’ notebook.

Growing up I always wanted to be a popular baseball player, and I still hold onto that dream to this day. How great it would be to be out on the field in uniform, have a number of fans anxious to talk to you and get your name permanently inscribed on their ball, bat or inside their makeshift autograph book.

I can’t tell you how many nights I laid in my bed and practiced writing my name in a unique type of script that could hopefully one day sit atop many shelves and mantles.

If my signature was too big or just didn’t appeal to me, I kept changing it so it would be just right. It had to look good small just incase someone asked me to sign something odd like a golf ball, and it had to fit just right on the center of the ball (often referred to as the sweet spot) so when people looked at it they could say, “Dominic Genetti signed that baseball.”

Of course there were also practices throughout the ball just incase other players were signing it at the same time. It took several attempts, and the baseballs I practiced on got covered in more ink than they did dirt from playing down at the park, but that didn’t matter. At the time, I was so set on being a baseball player that I was willing to stay up for hours just to make sure my name fit perfectly with the greatest piece of sports equipment ever known to man.

It took some time, but I eventually settled on a signature. Unfortunately, real life set in just as high school came to an end. Not everyone gets the opportunity to become a professional baseball player, much less a popular one, but the sad moment finally arrived when it was time to prepare for college and start the path of life. And a professional baseball career would just have to stay a dream.

Today, the signature that I hoped would be worth a certain amount on eBay is only used to sign a few documents and checks for monthly bills.

There aren’t any fans leaning over the ballpark railing calling my name, no one seeing me out and about asking for an autograph or impromptu picture.

But the great thing about dreams is that they never die out. Even though I’ll never get to be a popular baseball star and sign a bunch of autographs, I’ll continue to dream.

After all, one way or another, dreams do come true.

Dominic Genetti writes for the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post.