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07/31/2012

The former Texas Ranger who is revolutionizing the autograph experience

GKTR810P1Former Texas Rangers outfielder Gabe Kapler signed thousands of autographs in his big league career, and while he enjoyed the interaction with the fans he was like most pro players who didn't love the idea of putting his signature on something that was going to be for sale 10 minutes later.

"I always liked it when a person asked me to personalize it," Kapler told me today. "That felt like a very personal experience and it really was a warm feeling."

Kapler is now involved with something now that at least complements the autograph world: Egraph is something that works as a personalized, electronic autograph for fans. (No. It ain't free.) 

Kapler, who just turned 37, lives with his wife, Lisa, and his family in Malibu, Calif. He is scheduled to come to FW/d on Wednesday to make the media rounds and work some of the Rangers' broadcast. 

He and I chatted about this new venture, his career, and playing with the Texas Rangers.

The Big Mac Blog: Who is going to win the AL West?
Gabe Kapler: It's the best division in baseball but right now I would say the Rangers. The Angels have the best rotation, but the Rangers are deeper and I love their bullpen. I think Josh Hamilton is going to come out of his slump. He's the best offensive player in baseball.

The Big Mac Blog: When you were with the Rangers from 2000 to '02, did you think this team was going to have to go through such a long drought before it began to win again?
Gabe Kapler: I thought we had a good core and in the second half of the 2001 season we played really well. We had some good young pitching, I thought. But then management decided to go in a different direction.

The Big Mac Blog: You played for another 10 years after you were traded by the Rangers, but you had some tough years; did you think there was a time when baseball was done for you?
Gabe Kapler: In 2005 I returned after playing in Japan and I went to the Red Sox; we were playing a game in Toronto and I came around second base and I tore my Achilles. When I came back I lost all of my explosivess, especially on defense. In 2007, the Red Sox asked me if I wanted to manage in Greenville, and I did. By the end of that year I wanted to play again and I could because my body healed.

The Big Mac Blog: You're not going to the Hall of Fame, but not many people play Major League Baseball for as long as you did; all in all, are you happy with your pro ball career?
Gabe Kapler: It's both. If I'm honest, I wish I continued to grow the way I did in 2001 and 2002 before I got traded to the Rockies. But then, maybe I don't go to Boston where I was a part of some of the best teams ever, won a World Series. I am proud of my career, and the fact that I shared a clubhouse and a dugout with so many great athletes and great people. 
Michael Young comes to mind. I'm proud to have played with him. He was one of the greatest teammates I ever had.

The-baseball-reporters-former-sox-outfielder-gabe-kapler-on-achilles-injuriesThe Big Mac Blog: Why did you retire?
Gabe Kapler: My wife and kids. I gave it one last shot with the Dodgers, because I live in L.A. But I was the final guy who didn't make the big league roster out of camp in 2011, and it was the right decision. I didn't want to travel and miss any more. I wanted to be around my family, and my kids.

The Big Mac Blog: Do you miss it?
Gabe Kapler: I miss the clubouse and the routine and being around my teammates. But the transition to being retired has been remarkable.

The Big Mac Blog: Do you still have that tatoo on your shoulder of your wife's name?
Gabe Kapler: You have a great memory. Yeah; I got that when I was 17. I often think about if we hadn't got married.

The Big Mac Blog: How did you get involved with Egraphs?
Gabe Kapler: I was asked by a friend. The platform resonated with me. It's a personal, shared experience between the player or celebrity and the fan. It's a new generation of autographs. The function of the platform is to give fans the ability to share and experience something with their favorite player. They can print it, Tweet it, share it on Facebook.
A guy like Josh Hamilton can absolutely make a person's day when he signs an autograph or something. He can make a person's day. This is just another opportunity for a guy to do that.

The Big Mac Blog: Do you see this platform branching into over forms of entertainment and entertainers?
Gabe Kapler: We started with baseball because it's a natural fit, but it can work with any celebrity that has a fan.

 

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