Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Angels vs. Twins: 7/22 & 7/23

The Minnesota Twins came into town last week for a three game series against the Angels. This was just the second series for the Angels following the All-Star break, and I had been looking forward to going after the "M&M boys" (Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau) for quite some time. So I made the trip to Angel Stadium once again for the first two games of the three game set.

Game One (7/22/13):

Game one of the series got off to a horrible start. Since a majority of the Twins players took the team bus to the stadium, I was held to just one lone autograph after hours of waiting. That autograph came from Scott Diamond, who was kind enough to sign three cards for me.

After watching nearly every single Twin get driven straight down into the tunnel, I decided to head over to the Angels' side. I knew all of the big names (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton, etc.) would already be in, but my hopes were to catch a few of the pitchers who usually come in late. Right as I turned the corner I noticed a black SUV dropping off Erick Aybar. There were quite a few people waiting for Aybar, but luckily my friend Jeremy knew some Spanish and lured him over. Eventually, I was able to get my Angels 50th Anniversary ball signed by Erick.

I was very happy to get Aybar since it basically made up for the slow start to the day. I knew that everybody was pretty much in at that point, so I grabbed some lunch and made it back just before the gates opened.

Once inside I hurried down to the Twins' dugout looking to get a few more autos than I got earlier in the afternoon. About ten minutes in I noticed Kyle Gibson signing for some fans on the opposite end of the dugout, so I made my way over there and got the Twins' #4 prospect on a ROMLB across the sweetspot.

After getting Gibson, I took a few steps to my right and was able to get the attention of Jared Burton, who signed a pair of cards for me.

In the photo above, the card on the right of Burton is Chris Herrmann. Chris was kind enough to sign that card for me later on in BP.

Finally, I was able to get Long Beach native Aaron Hicks to sign a ROMLB across the sweetspot after batting practice had concluded.

I then had a decision to make. I could either go to the Angels' side like a lot of other graphers, or I could stay on the Twins' side and try to get Mauer and/or Morneau. In the end, I decided to stay on the Twins' side with my friends Rob and Alex, which turned out to be a good decision. Meanwhile, I was able to take a picture of Justin Morneau taking some practice swings.

Since Mauer was catching all of our attention turned to Morneau. The bad thing was that he had been ignoring everyone all day. Luckily, there were a few kids who were decked out in Twins gear and when Justin finished stretching, he walked right over the the two kids and began signing. I was really hoping that Morneau wouldn't just sign a few and then bail, as it turned out, he ended up signing for about 20-25 fans, and I was able to get my 2010 All-Star baseball signed underneath the logo.

To be honest, I think I was just as happy to get Morneau as I would of been to get Mauer. I'm actually half Canadian (my dad's side of the family is entirely Canadian), so I always enjoy getting some Canadian players. I know few people of Asian ethnicity who try and get every Asian player who ever played in the majors on a ROMLB, but I'm not like that, I just enjoy getting Canadian players whenever I can on whatever I can.

I'm also happy to say that Mike Trout did sign for a few fans after he stretched, and among those were my friends Josh and Clint, who never seem to have very good luck whenever the drive out of the valley.

Post-game was much like pre-game, very slow. The first person to walk out was Brian Dozier, who was kind enough to sign a 2013 Topps card.

After Dozier, Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire came out. Gardenhire is always a great signer and in my opinion is one of the funniest guys in baseball. He continued to crack jokes as the was signing and even laughed and said "This picture was before I took steroids" while signing the 1987 Topps card that I gave him. In total, I was able to get three cards signed by Ron.

That concluded day one.

Game Two (7/23/13):

Day two got off to a similarly slow start as day one. After another five hours of waiting, I was able to come away with just two autographs, one from Glen Perkins, and one from Dan Gladden.

Thankfully, there was a surprise guest hanging out in front of the stadium, no other than former AL MVP Fred Lynn. When I first approached Mr. Lynn, he didn't seem too thrilled about signing, but none-the-less, he grabbed my baseball and was kind enough to sign it. Unfortunately, I didn't ask for the sweetspot. Looking back, I think I was a bit intimidated since he told us that he "wasn't here to sign autographs". Thankfully, I had a quick resolution to things, as Lynn's former teammate Bob Grich walked up. Bob was friendly as always and was kind enough to sign the same baseball right above Fred on the sweetspot, making it a duel signed baseball.

In case anyone was wondering, the two played together on the California Angels from the 1981 season to the 1984 season. They were also on the same American League All-Star team a total of four times (1976, 1979, 1980, and 1982) and both won an American League Gold Glove in 1975, so in the end, I think it was a fairly good duo to put on the ball.

As for batting practice, it was a bit worse than the day prior. In the end I was able to get Clete Thomas to sign two cards...

And Jamey Carroll to sign four cards.

On of the major downsides was seeing Joe Mauer sprint off the field during the middle of his batting session. At first we all thought that Joe may have tweaked something, but as it turns out, his wife had just delivered twins (coincidentally) and he was on his way back to Minnesota to be with her, basically ending any chance that I had of getting his autograph this season. 

I decided to try for Mike Trout both during stretches and post-game, but as it turned out, I wasn't able to get him either time. I was, however, able to get Kyle Gibson on a pair of cards and Josh Roenicke on one card, concluding the day and the series.

Overall it was a fairly good series for me. While I was not able to get Mauer, I was able to get the other half of the "M&M boys" in Justin Morneau, as well as Kyle Gibson and Aaron Hicks, which were two of my other goals coming into the series. A shout out to Kyle, Josh, Alex, Rob, Crocker, Clint, Joe, Jeremy, and Benson. Thanks for reading!

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