Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Padres vs. Reds: 7/29
I decided to make the two hour trip down to San Diego on Monday to graph the Cincinnati Reds. It's not very often that I make the trip down to San Diego, but when I do, I usually do quite well, including my last trip on 7/14/13, when I witnessed my first ever no-hitter. I also decided to bring along my friend Kyle (formerly of Sid's Autographs), so I was hoping to be able to show him around and give him an idea of San Diego graphing.
I arrived in San Diego fairly early, around 11:00 a.m., and quickly received some bad news. Apparently the Reds were staying at the hotel right next to PetCo Park, which provides a bridge that allows players to go directly from the hotel to the stadium without making contact with the fans. This basically ruins graphing as most of the players are instructed by hotel security to take the bridge, making pre-game graphing essentially worthless. Basically, I'd need a miracle to be able to get any of the big players before the gates opened.
My first auto of the day came from Reds' outfielder Chris Heisey. I noticed that Chris was putting a cross on every item that he signed, so I decided to ask him to put his favorite prayer verse on the card. He ended up inscribing "Phil 2:3" below his signature.
The next two autographs that I got came within five minutes of each other, as both Todd Frazier and Jack Hannahan came over and signed.
At that point, there was still no sight of Brandon Phillips or Joey Votto, and we all figured that our chances at getting there autographs were diminishing by the minute. While waiting, I was also able to get Cesar Izturis and Ryan Hanigan, who were both kind enough to sign some cards for me.
I was also able to spot Derrick Robinson, who I surprisingly had three cards for. Derrick was kind enough to sign all three cards for me.
By the time Robinson finished up signing, it was 3:55. My friend Alex, Kyle, and I had all basically come to the conclusion that Votto and Phillips were either in already, or were going to go across the bridge, avoiding fans. We had just one hour until the gates opened, so we all decided to go get something to eat before returning to the stadium. While we were eating, another grapher came in and literally walked right up to our table while we were eating and told us the Votto had just came out and "signed for EVERYONE". We were all in shock as the guy pulled out his card and showed us the scribble that was suppose the say "Joey Votto". As it turns out, Votto DID NOT sign for everyone. In fact, he only signed cards, and no baseballs, so basically we were all frustrated at the other grapher for trying to make us jealous or something along those lines. A word of advice, if you really want to make friends in graphing, don't try and rub things in, and especially don't lie while doing so.
Anyways, we made it back just in time for the opening of the gates and hurried inside, hoping to get a prime spot if anyone were to sign. As it turned out, the Reds were fairly stingy at signing. The only autograph I was able to get came from Shin-Soo Choo, who signed a card for me and a card for another grapher who kindly offered to get it signed for me.
Besides Choo, basically nobody signed. Todd Frazier signed a ton of autographs, however I had already gotten him earlier in the day and did not want to double-dip. Mat Latos signed about twenty, and was going to sign for everybody until people began throwing three things at him when he was pointing to just one person. Finally, Aroldis Chapman signed for just two people, who both got there baseballs signed in black Sharpie (when will people learn?!).
The game itself sucked. While it was a 1-0 affair up to the bottom of the ninth, the game lasted three hours thanks to a total of nine walks. What really sucked was Aroldis Chapman blowing the save and giving up a walk-off home run to Chris Denorfia, and what REALLY sucked was seeing Chapman deny everyone as he walked about a full block to his hotel room. Had he been able to close the game, he probably would have been in a much better mood.
Basically everyone was denying us. Even Todd Frazier, who is possibly one of the best signers in the National League. But luckily, the night completely turned around as Joey Votto came out and was kind enough to sign for all of the fans who still had stuck around. The former NL MVP was kind enough to sign a 2013 All-Star baseball for myself as well as a 2013 World Baseball Classic ball for my mother.
The photo above shows the 2013 ball (left) next to the 2012 All-Star ball (right) that I got Votto to sign at Spring Training. Who knows, maybe I can get the 2010 and 2011 balls signed at Spring Training this year and complete the Joey Votto "All-Star project" for the time being.
Finally, I was able to get Bronson Arroyo, who actually signed just before Votto did. Arroyo is usually a really tough autograph to get, so I was happy to get my 2013 Gypsy Queen card signed.
That ended a great day of graphing (all thanks to Joey Votto). A big shout out to Kyle and Alex, who were literally the only two people that I knew coming into the day. Thanks for reading!