The new digital autograph company Egraphs seems to have the PR thing down. The company, launched this summer, has been getting a huge buzz in the mainstream media for taking the autograph and fan/player interaction to a digital platform.
Egraphs allows fans to pay for an 'autograph' and personal message signed on an iPad--along with an audio greeting. It's sent (electronically, of course) to the buyer who can then store it on a PC, laptop or tablet.
Some traditional collectors may scoff. After all, it's not something you can hang on a wall in your office.
"I don't understand how that's a collectible," said Steiner Sports' boss Brandon Steiner, who sells millions of dollars worth of traditional autographs and has deals with numerous athletes past and present for bulk signings. "I don't understand why somebody would want that, a facsimile autograph. It's kind of like a replica jersey that people get when they're 6 years old."
The price, however, is in line with, if not cheaper than what you'd pay for the kind you can smudge. You pick from an MLB-licensed group of photos, include your message and in some cases, $25 later, you've got a small connection with a player that may not be tangible, but it's definitely talkable.
It's the personal messages that fans seem to go for. The player tailors his message around that and it would definitely be worth $50 just to see if Ozzie Guillen would say something crazy.
Egraphs has signed up about 140 players including Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, Ryan Braun, David Ortiz, Clayton Kershaw, Don Mattingly and others. MLB likes the idea and the company is now working on other sports.
The software allows the player to respond to the order, then send the completed egraph back to the company's servers for verification. Upon authentication, the egraph is delivered to you or your gift recipient. Unlike a straight signed 8x10, the egraph is really only worth something to the person for whom it was intended. It's doubtful that if you, heaven forbid, pass on, your relatives or friends would be all that crazy about keeping it on their hard drive.
Still, it's an interesting idea and seems to be here to stay.
Fox News talked with Mattingly, Steiner and company execs for this story.
On Wednesday, NPR did a feature story. Listen here.