Thursday, July 25, 2013

Angels vs. Athletics: 7/19 & 7/20

The Oakland Athletics came into town for a three-game series following the 2013 MLB All-Star break. Normally I wouldn't try to hard for the Athletics, as I've gotten over 90% of the team already, however I was looking forward to getting the second half off to a good start and hopefully getting another autograph from Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes, who was fresh off his victory in the Home Run Derby.

Game One (7/19/13):

The day got off to a very quick (and good) start. While there was no sign of Cespedes, I was able to get quite a few A's coming in. Those included Tommy Milone, Josh Reddick, Eric Sogard, Jarrod Parker, and Mike Gallego, who were all kind enough to sign some cards for me.

After hearing that Cespedes was seen going down one of the tunnels, I decided to head inside and test my luck near the dugout. There I was able to get one of the best signers in baseball, Pat Neshek, to sign a pair of cards for me.

Pat has always been a great signer both TTM and in person. While I don't personally do TTM (through the mail), I hear that he signs literally everything you send him and that he always appreciates any extra signed cards that you are willing to give him. Also, make sure to follow him on Twitter (@PatNeshek).

After getting Neshek, things died down. Josh Donaldson and Nate Freiman both signed, but only for a select few. Cespedes ended up signing quite a few autographs (roughly 30-40 in total), but things were absolutely crazy and there was just too much pushing and shoving for me to get to him. I ended up being in a good position for about a minute or two, but unfortunately he left right just almost immediately after.

Since I had gotten most of the A's coming in, I decided to go for Mike Trout near the Angels' parking lot after the game. To my surprise there were only about ten or twelve people standing near his car and I was able to get in a great spot when Mike came over and signed. I was able to get Trout on a 2013 All-Star baseball which he side-paneled.

Ideally, I would've liked for him to sign underneath the All-Star logo, but it's tough to complain when you get a star like Trout. Plus, he gave me a very nice signature with a full "27", so in the end I'm very happy with it.

My night was basically done after Trout. On my way back to the front of the stadium I did notice John Jaso standing around with some family. I waited until he was finished talking and he was kind enough to sign two cards for me.

I also was able to get Grant Balfour (seen above), which officially concluded my first day of graphing.

Day Two (7/20/13):

I decided to go on Saturday for one reason and one reason only, Yoenis Cespedes. I had just gotten some nice 8x10's of Cespedes in the mail on Friday and was really hoping to get them signed before the A's left town, so I went back down to Angel Stadium hoping for a miracle.

I got to the stadium extra early just to make sure that I would not miss Cespedes if he were to come in the front. As a result, I sat all by myself for about an hour with no action what-so-ever. Finally, I was able to get my first auto of the day as Bob Melvin walked up the front and signed a pair of cards.

I then realized that country singer Billy Curington would be having a post-game concert that night. While I couldn't of been less interested in hearing him perform, I was interested in the fact that the back tunnel would be mostly blocked off, and that most of the shuttles that bring the players from the hotel to the stadium would have to come through the front. I was hoping that my assumption was true, and for the time being, it was as the next shuttle came directly to the front and dropped off no other than Yoenis Cespedes.

I was absolutely thrilled when I saw him and hurried over to grab my photos. At that time there were only three graphers total, so I knew he would stop. Sure enough, he did, and I was able to get Cespedes to sign a total of three 8x10 photographs.

My day was basically complete. I had gotten the one guy I came for on all of the items I wanted. I was debating on going home from there but decided to wait around instead and see how many more shuttles would come through the front. In the end it was a good decision as I was able to get Ryan Cook, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Josh Reddick, and Mike Gallego about ten minutes later.

Finally, just as I was about to leave, one last shuttle came up and dropped off both Seth Smith and Brandon Moss, who each signed a pair of cards for me.

It was about 2:30 by then and I was contemplating on sticking around for Grant Balfour, who would be coming in any time, but then it started to rain, so I figured that meant that it was time to go home. Luckily, the rain was just a passing shower, and the game was able to go on without having to be postponed, keeping the long streak of consecutive home games without being postponed alive.

Overall the series was a great one and a great way to kick off the second half of the 2013 season. I really wanted to do a first half review post, but I got caught up with things, so I'll just tell you that I'm somewhere around the 1,171 mark (give or take a few). Some of the highlights of the first half for me was getting HOF'ers Jim Palmer and Rod Carew, Mike Trout, David Freese on a 2011 W.S. ball, Joey Votto, Zack Greinke, and of course, witnessing Tim Lincecum's first career no-hitter in San Diego. Hopefully the second half of the season is filled with some more great memories! Thanks for reading!

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