Sunday, December 30, 2012

If At First You Don't Succeed... Try, Try Again!

         For the second straight day I decided to head out to the Murphy Ranch Baseball Complex in Whittier for former MLB catchers Matt Stark, Jim McNamara, Carl Nichols and Jeff DeWillis. All four players were scheduled to do a catchers baseball camp this weekend at the facility. Yesterday I attempted to get the foursome, but my plans quickly changed as the weather took a turn for the worse and the camp was cancelled. I had no intentions of going back to camp. The fact that all four players were not necessarily guys that I "needed" to add to my collection as well as that the camp is coming back in July made me not worry to much about skipping the camp, however last night my plans changed thanks to one simple phone call. Remember how yesterday, while at the fields my friend David and his brother called the organization's number? Well our call may not have been answered then, but it sure was later that night. Apparently the number didn't belong to the organization, it belonged to Matt Stark, THE Matt Stark, a former major league catcher. Stark told David that they would for sure be out at the field tomorrow and encouraged us to stop by. So sure enough, I woke up early Sunday morning and made the trip out to Whittier.

          I got to the camp around ten o'clock and quickly met up with David and my other friend Scotty, who heard about the event last night. We headed up to the fields and quickly spotted two of our targets. The event was real kicked back. There were only about twenty kids at the camp and only about six or seven parents looking on. We spotted both Stark and Nichols, but couldn't find DeWillis or McNamara anywhere. We later found out thanks to Matt Stark that DeWillis only coaches for their Texas and Florida programs, and that McNamara couldn't make it because of his duties as a MLB agent. We waited around for the lunch break and I was able to snap a few photos of Stark, Nichols and the fields.

          Finally, lunch time came. We approached Stark and kindly asked him if he would sign some autographs. Stark looked like a very intimidating individual, and after we got his autographs, all three of us agreed that we expected him to be somewhat of a jerk. I guess look are deceiving because he was one of the nicest guys you'll meet. He was super friendly asking us questions like, "Have you gone to other camps to get guys before?"and, "Where did you find some of these cards?". He even remembered David from talking on the phone with him last night. Like I said above, Stark also informed us that McNamara and DeWillis were not at the camp so that narrowed our target down to just Carl Nichols. Stark was even kind enough to take a few photos and thank us for coming out as well as wish us luck with our collections. He was a true, genuinely nice guy.

          Stark even offered to us to walk across the field and get Nichols who was sitting in the dugout on the opposite side of the field. We decided not to bother him quite yet because it appeared as if he was looking on his phone and eating his lunch. We waited around until he finished up and walk back onto the field. Then we approached him and asked him for an autograph as well. Nichols was also very kind. You could tell that he was surprised that we had cards of him. He kindly signed all of my eight cards and took photographs with us as well. I was very happy to get Nichols since he was probably the best former player at the camp.

          Overall it was another successful day of graphing. It was certainly nice being able to rebound and to pick up a few autographs after striking out the day before. The only downer was that McNamara and DeWillis both weren't there, but all in all, there are no complaints, especially since I was pry one of the few graphers in SoCal to pick up an autograph on what was an unusually dead weekend for graphing. A big thanks to Matt Stark and Carl Nichols for signing and making the second trip out to Whittier worth it. Also a shout out to David and Scotty who were my "partners in crime" today. Thanks for reading and enjoy your week!

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