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Sign of the times _ baseball autographs go hi tech
So when he noticed Mattingly was participating in a startup venture called Egraphs, which offered an autographed digital picture with a handwritten note and a personalized audio message, he didn’t think twice about paying $50. Nash never would have walked up to the Los Angeles Dodgers manager and asked for his signature.
“It’s much easier, especially for a grown man,” the West Virginia native said. “It’s much more personal.”
Egraphs launched at the All-Star break, a technological breakthrough that extends the autograph business from the age-old methods of writing to stars, leaning across ballpark railings and hanging around hotel lobbies.
“It’s actually kind of cool. It’s like new age for me,” Mattingly said.
David Auld, a former Microsoft employee who is the Seattle-based company’s chief executive officer, started the venture last October and brought in former major leaguer Gabe Kapler as director of business development. Kapler was contacted by Auld’s brother, Brian, the senior vice president of business operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, Kapler’s team from 2009-10.
“Taking the cold out of the autograph experience with the celebrity made a lot of sense,” Kapler said.
In an era in which players carry iPads and wireless has become more ever-present in clubhouses than smokeless tobacco, the idea seems to have caught on rather quickly. Among the early players to sign up were Tampa Bay’s David Price and manager Joe Maddon.
Prices range from $25 to $100, depending on the player.
For the players, the process is relatively easy and speedy.
“We built a custom iPad application,” said David Auld, who used engineers he knew from high school. “They record an audio message through the iPad microphone.”
Consumers can share their Egraph on social networks and purchase a framed print with a certificate of authenticity. Each signature and recording is biometrically verified.
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