Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Look Into The Past: 2011 All-Star Fan Fest

With the 2014 Major League Baseball season upon us, I figured that it would be a good time to write my first ever "A Look Into The Past" post. I hope to make a series of throwback posts sporadically throughout the season, and where better to start than the 2011 All-Star Fan Fest.

In July of 2011 I decided to attend Major League Baseball's annual All-Star Fan Fest in Phoenix, Arizona. The event included multiple Hall of Fame members and baseball legends who were scheduled to sign autographs throughout the weekend.

The Phoenix Convention Center
One of my favorite things about All-Star Fan Fest has always been the organization, especially when it comes to the autograph lines. The lines are fairly small and fast moving, which makes it great for autograph seekers like myself who want to check out multiple lines. Also, MLB releases the signers and stage times a few weeks prior to the event, which allowed me to plan out my weekend ahead of time.

One of the first autographs I got at the event came from former World Series Champion David Dellucci. Dellucci was one of many members of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks World Series team who were on hand, and while I did not originally plan on getting the twelve year MLB veteran, I was able to find a nice 8x10 at one of the booths inside of Fan Fest.

David Dellucci autographed 8x10
Another member of the 2001 World Series team in attendance was Greg Swindell. Swindell won 123 games throughout his sixteen year career and was an All-Star in 1989 as a member of the Cleveland Indians. Like Dellucci, I also found a photo of Swindell at the event and got him to sign it.

Greg Swindell autographed 8x10
The final member of the 2001 team that I got was former big league outfielder Reggie Sanders. Reggie was undoubtedly the nicest guy I met all weekend and took at least a minute with each fan to talk about baseball and such. Once it was my turn to meet Reggie, I had him autograph a ROMLB on the sweetspot.

Reggie Sanders autographed ROMLB
Another great thing about All-Star Fan Fest is that they offer free MLB Authentication on spot, so after getting my ball authenticated I headed over to the next autograph station where former AL MVP Fred Lynn was schedule to sign autographs. Lynn was also very friendly, however he was a bit more rushed due to the fact that he had quite a long line of fans waiting. I didn't think about asking for the ROY/MVP inscription as some might have, but Lynn was kind enough to add #19 on my ROMLB.
Fred Lynn autographed ROMLB
Somewhere in between came these next few autographs, starting off with Hall of Fame member Gaylord Perry, who signed my ROMLB and was kind enough to add "HOF 81"

Gaylord Perry autographed ROMLB
I was also able to get another Hall of Fame pitcher, as Juan Marichal kindly autographed my ROMLB and inscribed "HOF 83".

Juan Marichal autographed ROMLB
In a last minute change, it was announced that Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton would be signing autographs for thirty minutes later in the day. I made sure to get a prime spot in line and got Upton to signed my ROMLB.
Justin Upton autographed ROMLB
This next autograph was by far the most special autograph that I got all weekend long. One of the game's true legends, Earl Weaver, signed autographs for the fans. Weaver, of course, passed away on January 19, 2013, roughly about a year and a half after I met him. I had him autograph a ROMLB and decided not to ask for the Hall of Fame inscription, and instead opted to ask for a photo.

Earl Weaver autographed ROMLB
I look really young in all pre-2012 photos
The final autograph I got over the weekend came from Tony Gwynn. This was the first of three (and counting) times that I've met Mr. Gwynn. Since the line was so long, Gwynn wasn't allowing any posed photos, but I was able to get my ROMLB signed with "HOF 07" inscribed.

Tony Gwynn autographed ROMLB
To cap off the exciting experience, I bought tickets at the last minute for the Home Run Derby, which was just down the street at Chase Field. I got there too late to try for any autographs, but I was able to watch a great Derby and see Robinson Cano win it all.

Pre-Derby festivities
Cano gets interviewed after winning the Derby

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I went to one day of Fan Fest and then the Home Run Derby and All-Star game that year!