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Lawmaker Wants To Fine Athletes Who Charge For Autographs

POSTED: 11:55 pm EST February 11, 2005

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Professional athletes who try to pad their million-dollar paychecks with paid autograph signings wouldn't be welcome in Rhode Island under legislation introduced this week.

Sen. Roger Badeau said he is fed up with athletes charging upwards of $100 for an autograph at large-scale autograph signing events. What really irks him is that children have to pay for the signatures of their sports heroes.

"They get paid millions and millions. Where do we stop with this? It doesn't make sense," Badeau said Friday. "It's not even realistic anymore."

Badeau's bill would ban professional athletes, entertainers or promoters from charging a fee for an autograph to a child under age 16. They would be fined $100 for each violation.

A Democrat who represents the Northern Rhode Island communities of Cumberland and Woonsocket, Badeau said he was appalled after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series last year and several players participated in an autograph signing event in Providence.

He said it sickened him to see parents shelling out $125 so their children could get a baseball, photo or bat signed by a player.

"There's a buck with everything," he said.

Badeau said it didn't matter that some of those signed baseballs and bats will end up online or with sports memorabilia dealers. He said it still sends the wrong message.

The Red Sox declined to comment on the legislation.

Badeau said he's gotten a lot of support for his bill. And though he doesn't expect it to pass, that's not the point.

"Whether the bill passes or not, I'll do it again next year," Badeau said. "I'm just trying to send a message to these guys."
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