Hobby Musings: Catching up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer – Like all baseball players, Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer has signed quite a few autographs. Also like a number of other athletes, Smeltzer has lent his signature in support of Signatures for Soldiers. I had the chance to catch up with the pitcher via email to discuss this and his other experiences in the sports memorabilia world.
KS: Devin, how did you get involved in lending your autograph and support to Signatures for Soldiers?
DS: I had followed for a little bit, and heard from a few other guys I’d played with that had donated. With friends and family in the military, it has always been close to home. For me, it is an awesome way to give back and use my platform for the better.
KS: Did you ever think that signing autographs would be part of your profession and that you’d ever be able to help out in such a way with your signature?
DS: Never thought I’d be able to help out in that way simply by signing stuff. Such a cool concept. Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed of having a baseball card and being a big leaguer. Started practicing signatures as early as I can remember.
KS: When is the first time you remember someone asking you to sign an autograph?
DS: There was a huge fundraiser ball for my hospital while I was going through treatments that I was able to attend. A lot of my friend’s parents were able to attend with doctors and other families involved with my hospital. I had signed a ball for the auction. It ended up going for like three grand. I think that ended up being the final price. But multiple people ended up pledging the $3K as well, and I signed all of those balls too. One of the originals is still to this day in the sports room of the outpatient oncology clinic in my hospital. So awesome to see it come full circle.
KS: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to sign?
DS: I had a kid after the JUCO World Series ask if I’d give him my sliding shorts and sign them, pretty weird request and you can guess what my answer was.
KS: It’s been an unusual season to say the least as you’ve been playing without fans in attendance. Even with the pandemic, have any fans come up to you asking for an autograph this season?
DS: Surprisingly there are still some die-hards showing up at the hotels.
KS: How have you handled that?
DS: We aren’t even allowed to interact really with outside people, so we kind of just get on the buses. Everything is roped off and security keeps them pretty far away so it’s not too awkward.
DS: From my debut, I got my jersey, stirrups, glasses, lineup card, and tickets authenticated and framed. 2019, I got a team helmet signed by everyone. This year I bought one of the bases from Childhood Cancer Awareness Day and had the team sign that. From tee-ball on, any guy I’ve played with that has made it to the big leagues, I’ve gotten their baseball card signed along with other players I’ve looked up to over the years.
KS: Have you asked any fellow players for autographs or memorabilia?
DS: One of the veteran guys when I first got called up said, “Don’t be shy to ask to get things signed, this life doesn’t last forever.” So from collecting cards, and getting a team object signed every year, I try getting little bits and pieces to look back on some day, including some jersey swaps with good buddies on other teams.
KS: You’ve had a couple of trading cards released already. What was it like seeing yourself on one for the first time? Did you ever collect cards growing up, and are you collecting your own cards?
DS: Since COVID, I’ve really gotten back into card collecting and I’m currently trying to complete my RC Rainbow. Been cracking a lot of hobby boxes, and it’s always super cool when you open a pack and there you are. Hope that feeling never gets old. But I plan on continuing that and trying to find my coolest cards. Hopefully complete the rainbow and then any cards after that just get the coolest I can find.
I also plan on committing to get cards signed by guys on other teams and guys I’ve played with. It’ll be really cool to look back some day and be able to see all the guys I’ve come across. I collected a little bit growing up, nothing serious, just my hometown Phillies really. Nothing like now though, I’m absolutely addicted and check eBay like 15-20 times a day and crack as many packs as I can! So anyone out there who comes across any of my Topps cards from the 2019 Update, let me know! I need platinum and red mini, and then platinum, clear, the printing plates, and then gold holiday!
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Hobby Musings: Catching up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer
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