With 2012 officially behind us, it's time to take a look back and remember another memorable year. It was certainly a year of ups and downs for my family and I. Unfortunately I lost both of my grandmothers four weeks apart and I have been ill more times than I can count. However, in a graphing sense, it's hard to imagine a much better year. 2012 was by far my first "hardcore" graphing season and I came away from some fantastic results. Sadly I started my blog towards the end of the year so I wasn't able to share most of my great graphing stories throughout this year, but here's to hoping that next year, I am able to share each and every one of my autographs adventures with you! I was able to put together a few lists to recap the 2012 graphing season.
Nicest Guys I Met In 2012:
1. Justin Masterson- Masterson was with out a doubt the nicest player I have ever met. He was starting the second game of the series while Cleavland was in Anaheim. I was waiting in the back all day and eventually was the last person left. Everybody thought that all the Indians had already came in, but I waited around until 4:30 when suddenly a Doubletree shuttle stopped at the top of the tunnel and dropped Masterson off. He was very nice and signed all of my cards, most of the time pitchers will not sign before the games they start, but Masterson must of been an exception. What really made me like him was after the game, when he came out with his family and stopped and signed for us thirty graphers. He wasn't your typical player, he was telling us tons of stories about his previous experiences with graphers, how he had an encounter with a kid in Baltimore, and how he felt like us fans were the base of his career. He also signed up to 16 cards each for three people! I think anyone that met Masterson that night could agree that he was THE nicest guy in 2012.
2. Addison Reed- Reed tops my list for obvious reasons. First, he signed 40, yes 40, cards for me when the White Sox came into town. Another reason may be that one of my best graphing friends happens to have played Addison at a rival High School and is great friends with him, so Reed has to be tops on my list. Also he was very nice and was making conversations, we talked about our mutual friend for about ten minutes and talked about a few other things as well. He even noticed my Blake Griffin shirt that I was wearing and we began talking about the Clippers and how we were both excited for the upcoming NBA season. It is for that reason that Addison Reed ranks number two on my list of nicest players.
3. Brendan Ryan- Brendan is one of those guys that won't light you up on the stat sheet, but will definitely light up any room that he is in. I have already had two good encounters with Brendan in 2009 and 2010 when he was with the Cardinals, one of my favorite National League teams, and had a few more great encounters with him this past season. All in all I was able to get a total of 12 cards signed by Ryan this season at Angel Stadium. I can even remember one night after a game, he stopped for the twenty or so graphers waiting outside. He was with his girlfriend and you could tell that she didn't appreciate him stopping and signing, but Brendan kept signing away and got through each and every grapher. I was also able to tell him about my trip to Dodgers stadium when he threw me, about the only kid in my section with Cardinals gear, a ball, however and older man in his 40's reached out in front of me and snatched it from me. Ryan was watching and could only turn around and shake his head in disgust when he saw it. When I told him about it he said, "I'll make it up to you bud!" and the next day he threw me up a ball at batting practice. That is why Brendan Ryan is ranked third on my nicest players list.
It was certainly not easy choosing just three players, but with out a doubt, those were the nicest guys I met in 2012. A few guys that were also super nice include Mark Langston, Bobby Ryan, Jeff Francour, Jason Vargas (Now an Angel!), Tom Milone, Torii Hunter (Always a class act and will be deeply missed) and Matt Harrison. Now to an even harder list to pick. The next one includes the biggest jerks of 2012. Now I can't stand calling people jerks, especially when they end up eventually signing for me, but some guys are very deserving of the title, and here are three guys I believe deserved to be called one.
Biggest Jerks In 2012:
1. A.J. Pierzynski- Jerks will be jerks. A.J. has always been one of the most hated players in baseball mainly because of his jerky and rude attitude. He always gets an array of boos and hisses whenever he come to bat at opponents ballparks. The first encounter I had with him was at Spring Training. He told us that he would sign for us after he finished, fast forward twenty minutes and he was sitting on a golf cart, one that had taken players past the fans and to the batting cages. Thinking that he would leave without signing, one the the other graphers reminded A.J. mannerly that he said he would sign for us after he was done. A.J. came back with a very rude and disgruntled response by saying, "I said I would sign when I was done didn't I? Does it look like I'm done? I said I'd sign when I'm f------ done so that's what I will do dammit!" Then, later in the year, while at the Sox hotel, A.J. said he would sign for us after the game. Sure enough he came out and surprisingly told security that he would sign. He signed while he was walking but just grabbed your card, turned it sideways and scribbled on it. Not one autograph was consistent! Then, as we were nearing his car I just said, "A.J., you said you'd sign for me at the hotel, could you please get me?" A.J. came back with another rude response saying, "Aren't I signing right now! What am I doing right now?!?!" The funny thing is that he signed two more and said, "I'm done" leaving me with no autograph. A.J. has always, and most likely will always be a jerk. It's for that reason that he tops my list of biggest jerks in 2012.
2. J.J. Putz- Putz walked out both the first and second night when the Diamondbacks were in town for an inter-league affair with the Angels. I was all decked out in my Diamondbacks gear from the 2011 All Star Game, and had photos for a lot of the Diamondbacks, including Putz. On the first night Putz signed a few autographs and very sternly yelled, "I'm done!". I asked him one more time if he could sign my photo and again he snapped, "I'm done. No more!" his friend walking with him even tried to convince him to sign saying that I had a nice photo of him and saying how I pry took it by myself, which I didn't. Luckily that payed off. On the second night it was a madhouse outside of the stadium. There was a post game concert going on so people were coming out all over the place. I was the only one to notice Putz and approached him. Before I could even finish asking him if he had time to sign one more, he snapped, "No!" I began to walk away and wished him a good night, all the sudden I hear him say, "Wait, I remember you from last night, I can sign for you." I was happy but yet disgusted at the same time, happy that he signed for me, but disgusted by the way he originally treated me when nobody else was even asking him for an autograph. That, in my opinion, by far makes him the second biggest jerk of 2012.
3. B.J. Upton- Upton has been known to be one of the tougher autographs to get, so I considered myself luckily to be one of the four people to get his autograph when the Rays came into Anaheim this summer. Upton got dropped of at the top of one of the tunnels and quickly turned down the first person to ask him by jest saying, "No". Luckily there was a five year old kid who wanted his autograph as well so Upton, like any decent human being would, stopped and signed for the one kid, then turned and signed for me and the other person who had originally got shot down. I was shocked to hear B.J. deny the guys sweetspot request saying, "I don't sweetspot." I mean your B.J. Upton, your not one of the best players in the game, and I will remind you that this was before he went on the tear to end the season. Oh well, luckily I decided to get him on my 2011 Allen and Ginter. Upton came out that night as well and immediately shot every down by saying, "If I sign for one of you all then I gotta sign for everyone, and I'm not f------ signing for everyone." I know my friend Matt was able to get him but he was the only one. That lands B.J. a spot as the third biggest jerk in 2012. Best of luck in Atlanta B.J.!
There were a couple other guys this season that I could easily classify as jerks. Some of those people would have to be Tim Salmon (Who was just a flat out jerk to me both times this year), Stephen Drew, Jose Valverde (Cursed me out because I accidental called him a different name), Ryan Vogelsong and Justin Verlander to name a few. Now for my favorite autographs in 2012!
1. Tommy Lasorda signed Official Major League Baseball and Hall of Fame Baseball- Mr. Lasorda signed these beautiful baseballs for me as part of the Dodgers Holiday Mall Tour in Century City. Tommy was in a surprisingly good mood and even put "H.O.F. 97" on both baseballs. I was certainly happy to get Tommy as I know his days are numbered.
2. Josh Hamilton signed 2011 World Series Baseball- Josh was kind enough to sign this Rawlings Official 2011 World Series Baseball for me at Angel Stadium this summer. Hamilton met one of the Autism kids at batting practice then turned around and signed for about thirty fans. He is certainly not an easy guy to get a conversation out of, and it seems to me that when you say something to him, he always uses it against you, so that's why I just say "Please" and "Thank you" from now on when I get his autograph. This season I was able to get C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Ron Washington, Adrian Beltre, and David Murphy on 2011 World Series Baseballs as well and will look to get some Cardinals on some when they come into town in 2013.
3. Mike Trout signed Photofile 8x10- I was able to get "Lil' Fish" earlier this year down the left field line. This was my third Trout, as I was also able to get him twice last year. Mike signed the photo in a very nice spot over the dirt and the blue Sharpie came out great on it. It is also a fairly good Trout signature. Most of the time his "M" and "T" are connected and his entire signature is unseparated, but as you can see, the "M" and "T 27" are completely separated. Trout was able to take home American League Rookie of the Year Honors as well as a Silver Slugger Award. He clearly got robbed on the American League Gold Glove and in my opinion, should have won MVP considering he was much more valuable than Cabrera to their respected clubs.
4. Matt Kemp signed Official Major League Baseball- My good friend Marc from Ultimate Pastime was able to get me this Matt Kemp signed baseball at one of Kemp's signings at Frank and Sons this past year. Now as many of you know, I am a die-hard Angels fan, but still always root for Kemp when he is not playing against the Angels. I was also able to get Kemp two more times when he was rehabbing with the local Quakes as well as following the Angels vs Dodgers game this year. As you can see this is a very good Kemp autograph as well. I have seen many worse signatures than this one so I am super pleased with how it came out. It also has PSA authentication on it. Best of luck to Matt in 2013!
5. Matt Cain signed Photofile 8x10- I originally picked up this beautiful Photofile 8x10 photo of Matt Cain for my trip out to Spring Training in 2012, but after not seeing Cain at all during my trip, I decided to bring it back and try again when the Giants came to Anaheim this year. I figured it was a long shot, Cain was less than a week removed from throwing his Perfect Game and to make matters worse, he was pitching in game one of the series. I was waiting pregame out back and heard that Cain had already went down with his wife. I guess the two people there were too intimidated to ask. Suddenly, out of nowhere Cain and his wife appear out of the tunnel and start walking to their car. Me and my friend Nancy jumped up and were the first to get to Cain, he signed her baseball first and then my photo. I was super excited to get Cain's autograph, especially just one week after he threw the first Perfect Game in the long and storied Giants history. I have always been a fan of Cain, so adding him to my collection was certainly a big deal for me!
This year I got too many "cool" stuff to count. While I wasn't able to snap a photograph of every cool item I got, I was able to snap a few extra photos!
(Darren McFadden Oakland Raiders mini helmet)
(Donovan Tate game used and signed bat)
(Jered Weaver (left) signed 50th Anniversary Baseball and Mark Trumbo (right) signed 2012 All Star Baseball)
(Ted Hendricks signed NFL Official Football)
(Fernando Valenzuela signed Official Major League Baseballs)
Overall it's been an amazing year of graphing and without further wait, I would like to give you my official graphing totals for this season!
Signed Cards- 929
Signed Baseballs- 102
Signed Mini-Helmets- 6
Signed Bats- 4
Signed Pucks- 8
Signed Footballs- 2
I would like to thank all of you who I have met for this wonderful year and here's to hoping that 2013 will be an even better one. I'm setting my new autographing goal to be 1300 cards for 2013 and will keep you updated on my progress throughout the season! I would like to specifically thank David Park, Matt Crocker, Scotty, Scott, Mike, Moe, Phil, David Anderson, Ryan, Larry, Spencer, Alex, Roberto, "Skateboard" Larry, Ken, Ken Cr., Lawrence, Maurice, Josh, Kyle, Tyler, Eddie, Jose, "Usher" Ken, Nancy, Keith, Marc, Laurie, Noah, Greg, Steven, and Pastor Jim. All of you guys have given me the honor of joining your tightly knit autographing community and words cannot describe how grateful I am that I met each and every one of you! I am truly blessed! Thanks for reading, have a safe night, and see you all next year!