Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Pat Neshek is MLB’s most avid baseball card and autograph collector. He takes his collecting so seriously that at one point he was trying to get every card from Topps’ 1985 set — all 782 of them — autographed by the players on the cardboard.
Neshek collects a lot more than 1985 Topps, though, so when he was chosen for the All-Star Game this year in Miami, Neshek was asked which player’s autograph he was most eager to try to get. His answer? Zack Greinke.
At the time, Neshek said: “He’s tough. Hopefully we can talk.” He had no idea.
Greinke, the Arizona Diamondbacks ace, and Neshek, then with the Philadelphia Phillies, were on the National League team together, so easy enough, right? Turns out that wasn’t exactly the case.
Neshek shared a story about his encounter with Greinke on the message board of SportsCollectors.net. Basically, Neshek — who has publicly said his username is “heat17” on the site — said Greinke snubbed him. Then he called Greinke a “turd” and said he wouldn’t try to get his autograph anymore.
— chris jones¯_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) September 19, 2017
In case that’s too small to read, here’s what it says:
“Thanks guys. Greinke stiffed me once again. I asked him at the all star game if he would sign for me and he said he would… so a couple weeks ago we played them and I sent over the cards I needed signed… basically 3 league leaders cards with Kershaw and Wainwright already done and 2 from 2015 to complete the set. He said no… I waited around for him during batting practice and went up to him and he totally denied having the conversation at the all star game… I then asked why this was a problem and he said it’s because “I wear him out.” Hard to wear someone out when he has never signed for me. This is the only ahole in major league baseball that has been a turd to me. So going back to the conversation I said can you just get these done it will take 5 seconds… just draw a little z on them for me… He said no I will never sign for you… I walked away… a couple minutes later I confronted him in the outfield while he was jogging and told him what I thought of him… he just kept on running then said I wouldn’t even sign for your kid if he asked…. I wanted to laugh knowing he had probably thought of that line for a long time and that was the best he could come up with… I then let him know what I thought of him again and being the socially awkward guy he is ran back to the dugout and went inside. Soooo I’m done with this guy. I’m basically gonna have to trade with someone on here to 50/50 them down the road.”
Well, that’s quite a story. And there’s a lot to unpack there. So a few points of context:
• The reference to Neshek’s son is in response to a pre-All Star interview where Neshek said he’d send his kid over to talk to Greinke.
• As Neshek references, Greinke has suffered from social-anxiety issues in the past. It even led to him missing most of the 2006 season. In recent years, Greinke has said his social anxiety is under control.
• The idea of players sending items across clubhouses to get autographed isn’t rare at all. Many players in MLB collect autographed memorabilia from their peers, but nobody does it to the extent that Neshek does.
Neshek addressed the matter further Wednesday on Twitter, once his autograph feud with Greinke had turned into a full-blown story. A few worthwhile points he made:
he's done this to numerous clubhouse staff and players over the years can respect no but when tells me he will and won't I scratch my head
— Pat Neshek (@PatNeshek) September 20, 2017
In response to Eno Sarris from Fangraphs, Neshek said:
“… Autographs happen all the time & I respect a no. The guy told me he would sign no problem at the AS Game then denies saying it. I’m not hounding anyone, I sent a card over for my son’s set with the clubhouse guy…takes 2 secs to sign or say no & I’m fine with it. I casually asked him at the All Star game why he wouldn’t sign for me just curious why he said no…I was intrigued. He said he confused me with Brad ZIegler [editor’s note: Ziegler is an ex-teammate of Greinke’s who is also an avid baseball-card collector] and that’s why he wouldn’t sign…I said ok is it possible to sign then this seems like a misunderstanding. He said he would. Like I said I can respect a no, I just happened to be on the same team with him and was intrigued as to why… thought it was a good question. At the end of the day it’s a stupid autograph for my son’s set…who cares life goes on. I collect for the fun of it.”
Interestingly, the Rockies and D-backs could meet in the NL wild-card game if the standings stay the way they are now. Probably wouldn’t be any autograph requests that day.
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