Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh: 3/18/17

I mentioned in my last post that I would still try to write about the occasional signing or two. While it's difficult to write about every event that I attend, I still enjoy sharing my photos and experiences with the friends that I've made. So here I am, with a recap of one of my favorite trips in recent memory.

I made the 2,500 mile journey to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a signing with hockey icon, Jaromir Jagr. Jagr is second all-time in points, trailing only "the Great One" Wayne Gretzky. There's also a good chance that Jagr will surpass the late Gordie Howe for second most goals by the time he retires. If he retires.

Most people will think I'm crazy for traveling so far to meet just one hockey player. They're probably right, but the airfare was cheap and it was a chance to check out a new city. The city itself did not disappoint. I didn't have low expectations, but I had never thought of Pittsburgh as being an exceptionally nice city.  Of course my first stop was downtown and PNC Park.

My only complaint about the entire trip is that the signing didn't happen three weeks later, when the Pirates would be in town. PNC Park should be on every baseball fan's "bucket list" and it looked awfully beautiful even from the outside. I'll add it to the list of ballpark's that I have visited (which is up to seventeen) for now, but I'd really like to attend a game there in the near future.

The signing itself went very smoothly with zero issues. I was about three hundredth in line and yet it took less than two hours to get through. Everybody in line got to talk to Jagr and get a photograph with him. Props to Total Sports Enterprise, who hosted the event. I really wish more signings were this well-run.

All four items came out great and Jagr was very friendly. I was a bit concerned that he might have a problem doing so many inscriptions on the jersey, but there were zero issues. Also, for a man born and raised in Czechoslovakia, Jagr has surprisingly nice hand writing.

There was only one things left to do: watch Jagr in action. I attended the Florida Panthers - Pittsburgh Penguins game the next morning at the newly-named PPG Paints Arena (what a horrible name for an arena, by the way). The arena is one of the newest in the NHL and lived up to expectations. The Panthers got outplayed by the defending Stanley Cup Champs, and Sidney Crosby scored a natural hat-trick. It was cool seeing the best player in the game accomplish a rare feat in a season in which he should win MVP. 

I left the game a few minutes early to stop at Primanti Bros. on the way to the airport. They invented quite possibly the greatest sandwich on the face of the planet: meat, french fries, coleslaw, and onions on Italian bread. I went with no coleslaw and it was easily a 10 out of 10.

A proper way to end a very enjoyable and memorable trip. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

March - August 2016

Here's what I have been up to the past few months. Make sure to read the final paragraph for an important update on the future of this blog. 


I never got around to writing a full Spring Training recap, so I wanted to briefly cover some of my favorite items from my annual Arizona trip. One of the first autographs that I got came from 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, Barry Larkin. This still stands as one of my favorite "free" successes of the year.

If you haven't read my Willie Mays post, I encourage you to do so. Those were two of my favorite memories from AZ. Ironically, my other two favorite memories weren't baseball related. Brian Urlacher posted a last-minute autograph signing on his Twitter. After rushing to the nearest Sports Authority (RIP), my friend and I made our way over to the signing. It was so last-minute, in fact, that we were the only two people in line when Urlacher arrived.

Another great memory that I made in Arizona was getting hockey legend Jaromir Jagr. This was arguably my favorite experience in my five years of collecting, and if you're curious about the story, feel free to ask the next time you see me around.


April was a slow month as I was still transitioning from hockey to baseball. For the majority of the month I was much more concerned with the Anaheim Ducks' short-lived playoff run than I was with the Angels getting off to another slow start. However, one of my favorite "break downs" of the year did come in the first week of April. 

I have a long history with Kris Bryant, going back to his days at USD and even in the weeks after he was drafted. He's always been a great guy with his fans so I'm glad to see him doing well at the major league level. 

Another guy who is great with the fans is Jake Arrieta. It's really nice to see that some guys haven't let one good year go completely to their heads.


May was, undoubtedly, one of my favorite months of the year. It started off with one of my favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals, coming to Anaheim for an interleague series. Despite hearing some bad stories, I was able to get Yadier Molina to sign a baseball. Even though it's side-paneled, it was a pretty neat experience to get Yadi's autograph for the first time. 

Several days later, I was able to meet and shake the hand of one of my sports hero's just weeks after he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

To cap off May, I was able to go on-field for batting practice prior to an Angels vs. Astros game. After five years and nearly 200 games attended at Angel Stadium, and this was my first opportunity to watch BP from the field.

To make things even better, I was able to get autographs from Mike Trout and Carlos Correa.


June was my first month of summer vacation, and my brother-in-law and I celebrated with a road trip to Arizona to meet hockey phenom Max Domi. I got several things signed by Domi, but the pucks were two of my favorites.

We also attended a Diamondbacks game later that night, which was a lot of fun. I went to the 2011 Home Run Derby at Chase Field, but had never watched a D-Backs game until that night.

One of the nicest teams to visit Anaheim this season was the Minnesota Twins. The entire team from the coaching staff to the players were all very friendly. Looking back, I'm awfully glad that I got Max Kepler despite everyone asking me "Who is that?".

I also got Joe Mauer's autograph on a baseball. Even though his career has taken a turn for the worse, he was still one of the most dominant players in baseball for a solid half-decade.


July was another fun month highlighted by the 2016 MLB All-Star Game in San Diego. However, the month started off with a different trip to San Diego for the New York Yankees. After a full day's worth of denials, I finally accomplished my one-and-only goal for the series.

I guess that there's some relevance to it now, but at the time I was just relieved to have gotten it signed. Despite all of the controversy, I'm sad to see Alex Rodriguez go. I'm also happy to have gotten three A-Rod autographs in the final three times that I saw him.

All-Star weekend was a lot of fun, but also involved a lot of "work". I know that I won't get much sympathy, but I was going on about ten hours of sleep over three days. I was able to snag several nice autographs, including three of my favorites below:

The players, top to bottom, are Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor, and Manny Machado, who has a gorgeous autograph **sarcasm**. Some other All-Stars that I got include Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Gonzalez, and Matt Carpenter.

My final autograph of the month came from Chris Sale. I'm a big believer in Sale and he'll likely finish near the top of Cy Young voting again. Just don't ask him to wear any throwback unis.


August started of with my second consecutive trip to the National Sports Collectors Convention. One of the main reasons why I chose the National was because Martin Brodeur was scheduled to sign. Brodeur is arguably the greatest hockey goalie of all-time, and isn't a very good signer in person. I got a few items done but this authentic CCM jerseys was by far my favorite. 

I also had, arguably, the greatest third baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt, and the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, sign a couple of baseballs.

My favorite experience of the week was meeting Curt Schilling. Take a look at the picture below and notice the hat that I'm wearing:

The first thing that Curt said to me was, "Well which is it? Red Sox or Blue Jays?" I replied, "A bit of both, I just like baseball," and in the middle of my sentence, Curt cuts me off and goes "Ah you damn Canadians". It was really a great moment and you can see that we're still laughing in the photo.

Since this year's show was in New Jersey, I was able to check out three new ballparks on the east coast, bringing my lifetime total up to fourteen.

Camden Yards was my favorite of the three, and it's every bit as advertised. Yankee Stadium is incredible, but it's almost too glamorous and takes away some of the ballpark feel. Nationals Park is nice, but it's almost the opposite of Yankee Stadium; It needs more glamour. I'd still take any three over Angel Stadium of Anaheim of Los Angeles of Orange County.

My final adventure of August was going after the Pittsburgh Pirates in Los Angeles. In under an hour I had gotten everything that I wanted signed, including this David Freese game used jersey.

I was also able to get former NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, for the first time.

Some other great autographs that I got this season, but didn't include, are Connor McDavid, Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Ray Bourque, Adam Jones, Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty, Mike Piazza, Ozzie Smith, Rod Carew,  Salvador Perez, Paul Molitor, Jose Altuve, and many more.

My main reasoning for this post is to provide a bit of closure. I started this blog back in November of 2012, inspired by David of David's Autograph Signings and Ryan of RBI Collecting. Ironically, they would become two of my best friends and we have shared many great memories, some that we've blogged about, some that we haven't. There are many consequences, both good and bad, when it comes to writing an in-person autograph blog. The good includes meeting some great collectors across the country, sharing fun experiences, and helping people by responding to comments and emails. The bad includes sometimes sharing too much information, making life harder for you and your friends, and, of course, the time it takes to write each post. Some posts take me five minutes, but others can take hours. In an age where social media rules, it seems pointless to download photos onto my laptop, log in to google, write up an entire post, and edit it, when I can simply click the Instagram or Facebook apps on my phone and have the same autographs posted in under a minute. With that said, I simply do not have the time to consistently write up blog posts anymore. It's the reason why my last post came in March, and believe me, I feel guilty about it. In all likelihood, this will be my final large blog post. I may log on, here and there, to post an autograph or two, but gone are the days when I was able to do game-by-game recaps, or individual signing recaps. However, there are still ways to follow my collection. You can follow my autograph account on Instagram ( @mcsautos ) where I actively post new autographs that I get. This is a private account, so if you request to follow, please leave a comment below so I know who to accept. I know that some bloggers have made the transition to social media, but if you have not, I encourage you to check out Instagram. There are thousands of autograph and card collecting accounts. It's an easy way to post new items and keep in touch with other collectors. I doubt anyone will be too devastated by this news, but I do hope that most of my 216,032 readers have enjoyed some of my posts. Thank you to everyone who has consistently read and/or commented over the years, and thank you to those who survived this entire post. It's been fun.


P.S. I've been having a hard time trying to get the font to work properly on this post. I think it's a pretty clear sign that it's time to quit.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Willie Mays: 3/6/16

I'll get around to posting a full Spring Training recap, but this man deserves a post of his own. The "Say Hey Kid" Mr. Willie Mays...

Had someone told me that I'd get the opportunity to meet Willie Mays, I probably wouldn't have believed them. After all, he is 84, not in the greatest of health, and he's just one of those iconic figures that you could never even dream of meeting. But as we (a friend and myself) were on our way back to California, I found out about a special event and high-tailed it back to Phoenix. The event was far from free, but it was worth every penny.

For those that don't know, Mays can't physically sign in pen. He actually hasn't been able to for a few years now. His eye sight and grip is too bad to hold a pen, so he has to sign everything in Sharpie. I knew that going into the event, but I was surprised at how many people did not.

It was an amazing opportunity to meet Mr. Mays and a memory that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. Sure, I could go online and buy an autographed baseball, but that doesn't even compare to meeting him, shaking his hand, and getting a photograph with him. Again, I'll have a full Spring Training recap soon. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

LA Dodgers Fan Fest: 1/30/16

The Los Angeles Dodgers held their annual Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium on January 30, 2016. Fan Fests are always the first taste of a new baseball season, and since the Angels haven't had one since 2011, I'm usually left relying on the Dodgers.

I was fortunate enough to snag two Chase Utley autograph vouchers from the Dodgers website. Many of the autograph sessions were already sold out by the time the vouchers were made available to the general public, so I was just happy to get two from the main guy that I wanted. Luckily everything went smoothly and I was able to get a pair of baseballs signed by Utley.

I also picked up a Joc Pederson autograph voucher off of eBay. I had some extra money to spend after flipping a few items and decided to splurge a bit to get my 2015 All-Star jersey signed.

As great as the jersey came out, I walked away pretty disappointed at the way Joc acted. He barely looked up at fans and literally threw a fit when I asked him to use my pen. It's more disappointing than anything since technically it was a "paid event" and I wasn't expecting to be scoffed at for asking someone to sign with my pen.

Trayce Thompson was also signing with Joc and thankfully he was as nice as could be.

He also had no problem using my pen, so thanks Trayce.

Overall it was a nice day and a good way to (sort of) begin the baseball season. Even as an Angels fan, I must admit that the Dodgers know how to treat their fans well. I should have a Spring Training post up by the beginning of the season, but until then, thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Johnny Bench: 12/19/15

December is usually a slow month for graphing, but thankfully the OC Dugout had baseball legend Johnny Bench in for a signing this past Saturday. Bench was recently named one of the four greatest living players in MLB history, and after passing up an opportunity to get his autograph back in July, I had to go an meet him. 

I've heard some mixed reviews on Bench in the past but had a terrific experience meeting him. We talked for about a minute and then he asked me how/where I wanted my photo signed. He also stood up for the photograph that I took with him, which is something that I always appreciate. I ended up getting my 11x14 signed with "Catch Ya Later" and "HOF 89".

(You can ignore the blue corners, those are just part of a photo holder that I use)

Thanks to Brian and the OC Dugout for bringing in a rare-December autograph guest, and thanks for reading.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dustin Brown: 11/27/15

LA Kings captain Dustin Brown was signing at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Black Friday. I'm not a huge fan of Black Friday shopping and this year I even decided against my annual trip to Sports Authority since too many people were beginning to take notice and were taking it way to seriously, just like very other Black Friday sale. I guess I'm more of an online shopping guy anyways, so instead of dealing with all of the crowds I decided to sleep in and go get an autograph.

This turned out to be one of the easiest and best ran signings of the year. I showed up a couple of hours early, was handed a numbered card by a Toyota employee, and was told that I didn't have to come back until a half an hour before it started. After grabbing some lunch I met up with a few friends and sat around waiting for the signing to start. There was literally no line waiting at all as they called up your numbers in groups of 10 at a time. I had #64 so it wasn't too long before I got up to Brown and had him sign a couple of pucks.

By the time I got through the line was fairly short, so I hopped in the back and got a NHL Stadium Series puck that I had lying around my house signed by the Captain.

In the end I was happy with my decision and walked away with a few nice autographs. It's so rare that events in Southern California go so smoothly, so I've learned to appreciate them over the years. Good on Toyota for a great event and a thanks to Ryan, Benson, and Marc for keeping me company throughout the signing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fanatics Authentics Show: 11/21/15 - 11/22/15

One of my favorite things about my birthday is that it's usually close enough to Thanksgiving to where I have the day off of school. It's also just far enough away from Christmas to where it's not forgotten in the holiday madness. So really, it's a win-win. This year it happened to fall on a Saturday, and after a few weeks of saving I was able to raise enough money to afford a short weekend trip to the Fanatics Authentics show in Chicago. 

Of course, that weekend Chicago got hit by the city's largest snow storm in years. The high all weekend was a warm 32 degrees, but I loved it. To give you an idea, here was the view outside of our hotel room on Saturday morning:

Here is another from inside of our lobby:

It might not look like a ton of snow, but for someone from Southern California who has only seen snow at ski/snowboard resorts, it was a lot. Luckily the airport, hotel, and the convention center was all within a coupe of miles, so we were able to cab/Uber everywhere.

the first half of Saturday's show went fairly well. My first autograph was from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha. I've mentioned it several times in the past, but the Cardinals are the team that I root for in the National League. It's been that way since I was on the Cardinals tee-ball team, and Wacha happens to be one of my favorite pitchers, so it was neat to get an opportunity to finally meet him. 

The next autograph I got came from Ryne Sandberg. I had been debating on getting Sandberg's autograph for the previous week or so, but after a few signers cancelled due to the weather it was an easy decision. I ended up having him sign a ROMLB with "'Ryno'", "HOF 05" and "84 NL MVP".

Of course, it turned out to be one of my favorite autographs all weekend, so I was happy with my decision. I had regretted getting Sandberg on a Gold Glove ball instead of a sweet spot when he visited Angel Stadium with the Phillies, so it was a nice "redemption" autograph for me.

The third and final guy that I got on Saturday was Cubs phenom Kris Bryant. Bryant had just won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award and the most popular signer at the show. He ended up selling out of tickets before the day began, but I was smart enough to have pre-ordered them a couple of days before.

The bald guy to Bryant's left turned out to be one of the biggest (fill in the blank) of the year. I only bring this up because I've had promoters email me in the past when I complain about a worker, and I hope Fanatics does the same here. In reality, there is no need to be rushing people who are spending more money to get one person's autograph than what he (the handler) is making all weekend. It was frustrating because I feel as if this man was encouraging Bryant to give out sloppier signatures by constantly telling fans, and even Bryant, to "hurry up" or "keep it moving". I ended up getting both items that I wanted signed, but I do wish that it would have been a less chaotic experience, like every other athlete at the show who was not rushed. 

Saturday ended like any good day would, with Chicago-style pizza from Giordano's.

There was only one big signer on Sunday that I was worried about and that was Carlos Correa. I had already gotten some really nice Bryant's from his first few months in pro baseball, but Correa has never been the nicest guy or easiest signer ever since his days in A-ball. My goal was basically to get a couple of nice, full signatures from Correa and not have to worry about the sloppy signature that he gives out at the ballpark.

The first ball is inscribed "2015 AL ROY', and the second is inscribed the same, plus "Showrrea". It was kind of a cheesy inscription to get done but Correa thought it was funny and unique, which was basically what I was going for. 

Ironically he turned out to be one of the nicer signers at the show. His line was probably the third longest all weekend, behind only Bryant and Brett Favre, and yet he wasn't rushed and actually had good conversations with everyone. That's the way it should be for every athlete. You can see him and I talking in the photo above, actually about Mike Trout since I was wearing an Angels hat. It was cool to have that experience since he is a complete opposite at the stadium.

I got a few smaller guys on Sunday but nobody big. Overall it was a fun weekend and another great trip to Chicago, which is an amazing place to visit. Thanks as always!