A few days ago, I wrote about the boneheaded move on the part of two Maryland State Troopers who bugged Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher for autographs during a playoff game against the Orioles. It was a pretty classless move considering the fact that they were ostensibly representatives of Maryland and there to provide security, not talk to celebrities about getting signatures.
But no matter what you think of the cops’ move, their intentions are clear: everyone wants to get close to famous athletes somehow, and it’s tough not to seize the opportunity when it arises. So that’s what makes a new web-based autograph service called Egraphs so intriguing. Instead of hoping you might bump into your favorite athlete, Egraphs goes through all the hard work for you, putting you directly in touch at the star’s convenience, and providing a personalized and one-of-a-kind collectible at pretty affordable-looking rates.
The process is extremely simple. After heading to the service’s homepage, you scroll down to their list of players, from which they have over 140 to choose, and from every Major League Baseball team. After selecting your player, you choose one of several available photos, and then you’re brought to the personalization page. You enter your name (or the name of the person to whom you’re giving the Egraph as a gift), and then you can have your chosen athlete write you a 60-character-or-less message of your choosing, a simple autograph, or have them offer you a message they create, just for you.
And before they write their message, they’ll have the chance to read over a message you send to them, with a limit of 140 characters. Best of all, they’ll also record an audio message for you. When it’s all done, it’ll come back to you and look something like this or maybe even this.
That’s the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, talking directly to fan Josh Zipin, and legendary Don Mattingly giving a great message to fan Brian Enda. When you purchase an Egraph, you have the option of making it public, allowing other fans not only to get a sample of what they might get, but also as a way to sort of brag online about “meeting” one of your favorite stars. Best of all, for $45 extra, Egraphs will send you a framed print of your Egraph (no voice chip included…so far), meaning that your one-of-a-kind collectible on your computer can join the rest of your real-world memorabilia. That, to me, is the icing on what’s already a pretty tasty looking cake.
So how does it work? Egraphs signs their players to contracts that ensures that the players will see your message within two weeks. Oftentimes, the players may send your Egraph back sooner than two weeks, but I’m told that the process may take around three weeks to allow for the players’ busy schedules. The players set a limit of how many they’d like to do, helping to ensure the collectability and the willingness of players to make them. Then, when a new order comes in, they get a little alert on their iPads and can respond at their leisure. Even more interesting is that Egraphs ensures that their program can verify the authenticity of the signature, message, and voice recording when they sign each player. This is some high tech stuff, and it’s a really cool idea.
The business is only three months old, and already their roster is quite robust. I’m also told that they may be expanding into other sports in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for more options over the next few months. The folks at Egraphs were kind enough to help me order my own to see whether or not I could recommend the service. So far, the order process was a snap. My choice? R.A. Dickey, of the New York Mets, of course.
I’ll whip up another post when I get the results and let you know if this is as cool as it sounds…