On Saturday I decided to head out to the Trinity Bat Co. Home Run Challenge at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. The event was held in honor of former Mater Dei baseball player Cory Hahn who was involved in a freak accident which paralyzed him from his waist down while playing only his second collegiate game. If you haven't checked out his story yet, I recommend you do so, he is a true inspiration. Anyways this was the second annual challenge and while I didn't attend last year's event, I heard from fellow graphers that it was great and autographs were everywhere. The only downside was that a lot of the scheduled players to attend were no shows, so I was hoping that this year, all of the players would show.
I arrived at the High School around 11 o'clock and quickly met up with my friends David and Ryan in the parking lot. We headed over to the baseball field where we saw our other friends David, Scotty and Tyler. It was nice seeing the entire graphing community again, there have been signings this offseason, but it's not often when the entire community comes back together at one single event. The first player to walk in was Athletic's first baseman Daric Barton. Barton is one of those players that you don't really know what to expect from, I've seen times when he is really in a good mood and doing everything you have, but I have also seen nights where he completely blows off everybody. Today was really in the middle. Barton signed coming in for about 10 people and said that he would sign later. Luckily I got him before he left on my 2011 Allen and Ginter card. About 20 minutes later Barton sat down at the one autograph table and signed there for about another 30 minutes and both me and my mother were able to get him on a card each.
Notice the difference between the signature when he was coming (left) in and the one's when he was sitting down (right)? It's actually pretty funny comparing the two since the only thing that is consistent about the two is the "D" in Daric, besides that they look like two totally different signatures. The next guy to sit down and sign was Angels All-Star Mark Trumbo. Trumbo has become a tough guy to get and has changed a lot since coming into the league as a rookie. Back in 2010 and 2011 Mark was a very nice guy and would always sign without a problem. In 2012 it's been different. He is calling out people left and right, giving people bad signature if they get him a lot, and even yelled at some kids using the "F-bomb" at the Angels parking lot one time. I was a little nervous going up to Trumbo since I have gotten him several times in the past, but he was actually in a good mood. He was mainly talking to the handler next to him but did say "It's my pleasure" and "thanks" when I thanked him and wished him a good day. Trumbo was nice enough to sign my Rawlings Big Stick bat as well as my commemorative Angels 50th Anniversary baseball underneath the logo.
I know a lot of people like all of their baseball's on the sweetspot, but I personally prefer any of the commemorative balls to be signed under the logo. It gives you the ability to display both the signature and the logo, which is a little tougher to do when on the sweetspot. After Trumbo finished signing the derby began. Since Dodgers legend Steve Garvey wasn't participating in the actually event, he came over and signed some autographs for fans at the autograph booth. Garvey was doing two per person and was inscribing anything you wanted. The first time around I was able to get two 8x10's signed. One was a solo photo of Garvey while the other was my Dodgers World Series trophy photo. I told him how I was trying to get most of the 1981 World Series team and how it was a daunting task. Garvey replied with some words of encouragement and told me that I'll get it done eventually.
The World Series trophy photo now has Ron Cey, Steve Yeager and Garvey on it. On second trip I was able to get my two cards signed. I was also able to get Garvey on my infield ball as he was walking back to his car. The ball now has Ron Cey and Garvey on it and needs Davey Lopes (Toughest of the four infielders) and Bill Russell.
The third and final person to sign at the autograph booth was the one and only Cory Hahn. Coming into the event I wasn't sure if Hahn would be able to sign or not. I knew that he was paralyzed from the waist down and he could use his hands, but I wasn't sure if he would be able to grip the pen or not. It took Hahn about two minutes to get the pen in hand but when he did, he started signing away. Since it took him a while to get the pen in place, he just used that one pen on each and every thing he signed, luckily it was a blue Steadler so both cards came out great. I was actually surprised by how nice his signature is considering what he has gone through. I expected it to be a scribble but he had very good hand control and his signature was nicer than most major leagers.
As for the rest of the participants, they all went onto the field and were hitting bombs. None of them actually sat down at the autograph table, but I was able to get every player that I had an item for either coming in or out. Since there isn't much to say about the players or autographs, I will leave it strictly to photographs and numbers for the day.
Ian Stewart- 3/9
Nick Ramirez- 8/8 (Very nice guy)
Daric Barton- 1/3 1/1 1/1
Trayce Thompson- 2/3
Trayvon Robinson- 1/3 1/1 (Personalized everything)
Matt Hobgood- 5/5 1/1 (8x10) (Probably the nicest athlete I have ever met)
Jiovanni Mier- 1/1
Nolan Arrenado- 2/4 2/2
Steve Garvey- 2/2 2/2 (Two 8x10's) 1/1 (Infield baseball)
David Nick- 3/3
Cole Garner- 3/3
Cory Hahn- 2/2
Tyler Rahmatulla- 2/2
Mark Trumbo- 1/1 (Rawlings Big Stick bat) 1/1 (Angels 50th Anniversary baseball)
I was also able to get Padres 2012 1st Round Pick Max Fried on a Rawling Official Major League Baseball. He was a surprise guest so I didn't come prepared with any cards, but luckily I was carrying around a couple of extra baseballs in case of a situation like this.
Since it was such a relaxed atmosphere and every player was so cool, I decided to get as may photo ops with as many players as I could. I ended up getting a photo with Ramirez, Barton, Hobgood, Fried, Arrenado, Garner, Hahn, Brandon Barnes, Cody Decker, Conor Burke, Travis Witherspoon and Jeremy Martinez. I also got a photo with a few minor leaguers (Who I forgot the names of) as well as somebody from the Dodgers organization whom I also forget the name of. If anybody recognizes them, then please tell me in the comments box below.
Overall it was a great event, possibly even the best event I have ever been to. It was very well organized and gave fans a chance to interact with all of the players. In total I was able to get 41 cards signed which brings my 2013 total to 49 cards, well shy of my 1300 signed cards goal. But as soon as baseball season starts back up pens will be flowing and autographs will be at a premium. I will try and keep you updated on my signed cards total throughout most of my posts this year and once (Or if) I reach my goal I will have a big contest! I would like to give a shout out to David Park, Ryan, Steven, David A., Scotty, Ken Cr., Benson, Tyler, Lawrence, Jose, Chase and everyone else that I saw at the event. I would also like to thank Trinity Bat Co. for putting on this great event for a great cause as well as all the participants for being so kind and signing autographs. Thank you all for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!