Instead of attending the annual San Diego Padres fan fest, I decided to go to another annual event, the Cal State Fullerton baseball alumni game. Cal State Fullerton is one of the more historic baseball schools in the west. and is conveniently located about twenty minutes from my house, some former alumni that have showed up in years past include Kurt Suzuki, Mark Kotsay, Ricky Romero and Brett Pill. However, despite all of this, it still took a last minute decision for me to skip the Padres fan fest, which is always a great event except for the fact that the team does not feature any star caliber players.
After a quick stop at Frank and Sons I arrived at Goodwin Field around 12:30 and quickly met up with my friend Steven, who informed me that neither of the four players mentioned above were at the event, and there were only a few alumni worth while. He also informed me that Shin-Soo Choo had done a signing earlier that morning, which somehow I did not find out about until then. I was a bit bummed since I already had missed Choo earlier this year at a signing back in August, but this bit of info ended up playing a major role in how my day turned out. As for pre game graphing, it was very slow. I only ended up with a card each signed by Chad Cordero and Kevin Rath.
I attempted to get Michael Lorenzen's autograph before the game as well, but couldn't spot him when I went over to the Titan's dugout. I then sat down with a few fellow graphers and became increasingly interested in the Choo signing that Steven mentioned earlier. I googled it on my phone but didn't find any results, so I then looked it up on Twitter and finally found a link from the bank at which he signed at. By this time it was 1:20, and I found out that the signing had ended a while back at 11:30, I then scrolled down the page a bit and noticed that Choo was doing a clinic today as well in near by Buena Park, and was scheduled to be there until two. I did some math in my head and determined that I could make it there in time, plus there was no graphing going on since the game had started moments ago. The opportunity was just too tempting and I hurried over to my car with my mother and made the fifteen minute drive to Buena Park.
I expected the clinic to be crazy, with tons of media attention and security guards and what not. Back in Japan and Korea these baseball players are treated more like gods than regular people with special abilities, and it's tough for any player of that race to go anywhere without being followed by a montage of cameras, interviewers and journalists. But when I arrived to the field it was a much different case. There were about 70 to 80 kids on a baseball field, and a couple of television crews from Korea there to see Choo live, not nearly as bad as I expected. Choo finished up the clinic a few minutes late, and then took some photographs, did a couple interviews and walked over to a chair where he began singing. It was almost too easy besides the fact that every single kid bomb-rushed the front of the line, squeezing and pushing each other together. Luckily I was towards the back of the line and wasn't right in the middle of the madness, probably the first time ever I was happy to be in the back of a line. I got Choo to sign a black Rawlings big stick bat that I had brought along to the alumni game in case of an emergency like this one. I also attempted to have my mom get a baseball signed, but the organizer told a guy before her that Choo would only sign for the kids, so I didn't want her to push it.
I was almost shocked how easy the autograph was and I still had time to stop back and catch the tail end of the alumni game back in Fullerton. Apparently in my hour and a half trip I only missed Tim Wallach and Gary Brown (Who I never actually saw at the event). The game ended and the fans were allowed to walk onto the field, meaning that you could practically ask any player you wanted for an autograph. I quickly found Indians' reliever Vinnie Pestano, who was kind enough to sign all six of my cards for me.
I then walked back to the Titan's side and this time I was able to find Michael Lorenzen, who was kind enough to sign all five of my cards (One of which came out horrible due to me forgetting to prepare it) and a Rawlings official baseball across the sweetspot.
One thing I noticed about Lorenzen is that he puts a different bible verse on every card that he signs. He is probably one of the nicest athletes you will ever meet and is always great about signing autographs. In case you said, "who?" when you saw the name Michael Lorenzen, he is a centerfielder on Cal State Fullerton's team (Obviously) and has been on four straight U.S.A. baseball teams including the 2012 team. Lorenen is currently ranked the 18th best prospect in the upcoming draft by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and is compared to Ryan Bruan, the 2011 National League MVP. I really hope that all these projections lead to a long and solid career for him in the future.
That was it for autographing. I called my friends David A., Scotty and Tyler, who were all in San Diego for fan fest, and heard that they pretty much got everybody except for Carlos Quentin, who is probably the toughest guy on the Padres to get. If it weren't for the fact that my family and I are driving out to Arizona for Spring Training next weekend then I probably would have made the trip, but I am already not looking forward to the seven hour, late night drive in just six days. Overall it was a solid day for autographs. Getting Choo was a great surprise and definitely made the day worth while. The 13 cards that I got signed pushes my yearly total to 162 cards signed, far away from my 1,300 signed cards goal, but I have a feeling that my three trips to Spring Training starting next weekend will get me a lot closer and in prime position to succeed. A big thanks to Steven, who informed me about the signing earlier and inspired me to look up and eventually find the Choo appearance. Also a big thanks to all the alumni and current players who showed up to the event. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!