Sunday, December 9, 2012
Fernando Valenzuela at Westfield West Covina
Dodger legend and former Cy Young Award winner Fernando Valenzuela made an appearance at the Westfield mall in West Covina Saturday afternoon. The appearance was the fourth of six Dodgers Holiday Mall Tours. I had attended the second and third mall tours so I thought I knew what to expect, but this one was much different. The night before a few of my friends called the mall to ask about the details and they were told that security would not be allowing anybody to line up until eight o'clock and that anyone who refused to leave would be arrested for loitering. This changed my plans entirely.
I had originally planned on getting up around one. I expected a huge crowd, even bigger than the Tommy Lasorda signing, due to the fact that Fernando is a major icon in the latino community here in Southern California. However, after hearing this I decided to sleep in a little and get to the signing around five to see what was going to happen. Sure enough I woke up around 4:15 and immediately called my friend Scotty, who had been there since eleven the night before, to see how security was doing things. He told me that security was letting everybody line up and that there were sixty people already in line. So I hurried up, got dressed and made the fifteen minute drive out to the mall. When I got to the mall there were about eighty people, luckily I was able to meet up with Scotty, and my other fiends Chuck, Ken, Ken Jr, and David who I had just seen about six hours ago at the DeAndre Jordan signing they were kind enough to let my mother and I hop in line with them.
Around 6:00 all hell broke loose. The head of security came out and told us that their boss was angry that we had been allowed to line up and they told us that we would have to leave the mall and come back at 7:30. This blew our minds since they had let people line up all night and then out of nowhere they tell us that we have to leave for one and a half hours! Luckily Ken and David talked to security and came up with an idea to create a list of people in line so that nobody would be able to get in front of everyone else. However, people were saying that they had groups of six or seven people, one person even said they had a group of twelve people coming! This could of all been avoided had they handed out numbered wristbands to everybody. Since we had to leave, me and David decided to go to the Denny's about two mile down the street. We had a nice breakfast and left around 7:10 knowing that we would get back by 7:30 with time to spare. We pulled out and accidentaly got in the wrong lane that got us on to the freeway, we figured we would just turn around at the next off-ramp but, there was a ton of construction and a bunch of the off-ramps were closed! We ended up getting lost and went as far as Baldwin Park! A drive that was less than two miles turned into a thirty minute drive and to make things worse, the fog was so terrible that we couldn't see 100 feet in front of us. In the end we were able to get to the signing and get in line.
This was no doubt the most unorganized event I had ever been too! Security was telling us this and that, and even yelled at my mom for asking what they were doing! The guys running the event were complete idiots and had no idea what to do. They even made us put away our chairs three hours before the signing started. But finally Fernando came in driving a beautiful Corvette with his grandson. He started signing right away, but they didn't let the regular people in line go up until everyone that had bought a mini-plan that morning had gotten an autograph. We ended up getting his autograph around 11:40. Fernando was nice enough to sign two baseballs, one for me and one for my mom, on the sweetspot.
Former Dodgers outfielder Kenny Landreux was also scheduled to sign later, but I did not have anything for him so I headed over to Frank and Sons, picked up some supplies, and headed home.
As I said above this was a terribly unorganized event. This mall also hosted a signing earlier this year and even though I passed on it, I heard that it was unorganized as well. Obviously these guys need to learn how to handle an event before they volunteer to host another one. I would like to thank Fernando Valenzuela for making the appearance and kindly signing my baseballs. I would also like to give a shout out to Scotty, David, Ken, Ken Jr, Spencer, Alex, Spencer, Larry and George, pretty much the entire autograph community! Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!