Saturday, August 24, 2013

Angels vs. Indians: 8/19 & 8/20

The Cleveland Indians came into town for a three game series this past week. I had some great luck with the Indians at Spring Training earlier this year, so I was hoping that my luck would carry over into the first two games that I attended at Angel Stadium.

Game One (8/19/13):

After running by a local card shop earlier in the morning, I made it to Angel Stadium around noon and met up with a few friends. To my surprise, there were a lot of graphers for the Indians. Usually, the team doesn't draw a ton of fans and/or graphers to the park, but obviously today was different.

Anyways, I got my first autograph within twenty minutes as Scott Kazmir and Mike Aviles drove in a car together. Kazmir was kind enough to stop and sign, but nobody asked Aviles, which surprised me, so I just wished him good luck which he seemed to appreciate. Back to Kazmir, he ended up signing for all of the graphers waiting and I was able to get my 2008 All-Star baseball signed.

It's tough to tell in the photo, but the ball is actually slightly scuffed on the lower part of the logo, and also, there is a bit of a crease in the leather. I called the company that I ordered the ball from about a week ago and they told me just to keep the baseball, and they would send me another ball in better condition for free, thus making this a perfect ball for one for Kazmir, who actually was the winning pitcher in the 08 All-Star Game, in a whopping fifteen innings.

Shortly after Kazmir, Nick Swisher pulled up in his Range Rover and also stopped to sign. I handed Swish a 2009 New Yankee Stadium ball and asked him to sign it underneath the logo. You could tell that he wanted to but he apologized saying that he couldn't due to his contact with Steiner. He then asked if I wanted the ball back which I thought was very nice since most players would just flip the ball and sign it wherever. I told Nick that it was fine and asked him to still sign it, which he of course did.

Finally, Marc Rzepczynski got dropped of be his wife and signed. I was the only person that immediately recognized Marc and he was kind enough to sign a pair of cards for me.

After Rzepczynski, things took a turn for the worse which meant that I would have to try my luck at BP and hope for the best. Luckily, right as I got down behind the dugout Terry Francona began signing some autographs and I was finally able to get my 2007 World Series baseball signed.

I was thrilled to get Francona, especially since he was known to be tough with the Red Sox and as a broadcaster for ESPN. As you may recall, I got Francona four times at Spring Training, so I guess it just takes a move to Cleveland to really humble a guy.

The same went for Sandy Alomar Jr, who is also a tough autograph to get. I've only gotten Sandy once before and have not seen him sign since, so I was shocked to see him come over and sign at least 30 or so autographs over the dugout. I was able to get my 1989 Topps card signed by the former ROY.

The last person to sign at BP was Justin Masterson, who is literally the best when it comes to signing. Masterson ended up signing for 23 minutes after batting practice, and was signing up to ten cards for people. After a while I was able to get down to him and get my 2013 All-Star baseball signed. Justin was even kind enough to add the inscription "1st ASG" without me even asking, which was a very nice touch.

Post-game was just as bad as the game itself. Even though the Indians ended up winning, almost nobody signed, in fact the only two guys to stop were Yan Gomes, who I had nothing for, and Drew Stubbs, who broke down after a few people creepishly followed him into the parking lot. In the end, I was able to get former one-armed pitcher, Jim Abbott, who was in attendance. Abbott left the game around the eighth inning, and luckily I was able to spot him as he left. As usual, he was very kind and was nice enough to sign a ROMLB across the sweet spot and even included the "No-Hitter 9-4-93" inscription.

Game Two (8/20/13):

This was my last game for the summer and I was hoping to go out with a bang. For those of you who are interested, I will still be graphing even when school starts back up, just maybe a bit less hardcore. Thankfully, most of the baseball season is over, and the only team left who are notable are the Rays, who come in for a four game series next week. Besides Tampa, only the Rangers, Mariners, and Athletics remain, all of which I've graphed multiple times this season.

I decided to arrive to the ballpark once again around noon in hopes of getting a few more autographs. I heard rumors that the day prior, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jason Giambi had all come in different entrances, so I was hoping to get maybe two of the three before BP. 

After a while of failed attempts, I decided to head over to the Angels side for a bit. There, I was able to get Jerome Williams to sign a pair of cards for me, officially putting me on the board.

I try my best not to take advantage of Jerome Williams' kindness. He literally signs everyday and I see people buying lots of 18 cards on Ebay just because they know they can get them all signed. I was once like that, but after a while I began realizing how stupid it is, because lets face it, who needs 18 of the same Jerome Williams cards? I try not to be a "hater" on this blog but I felt that it was necessary to put that out there.

After Jerome, the one and only Mike Trout came in. My friend Moe had printed out some 18x20 photos of his two kids with Trout, so when Mike saw this, he immediately came over to sign. I was able to get a 2013 All-Star ball signed underneath the logo by Trout.

Getting Trout made my day already worth it. At that point I decided to head back over to the Indians' side, where I noticed only a few graphers. Within a few minutes, Nick Swisher came up and signed. This time I was able to get Swish on a 2013 Bowman card.

I then made my way over to the entrance where Jason Giambi had been rumored to have entered the day prior. I have gotten Giambi on a ton of items in the past, so getting him wasn't a huge priority to me, but I was very happy when I saw Jason walk up and begin signing. He was kind enough to sign my 2004 All-Star baseball underneath the logo for me.

The final guy to sign pre-game was Joe Smith, who didn't seem very pleased to have been recognized. None the less, he stopped and quickly signed one card for me and my friend Tyler.

Afterwards, me and Tyler worked out a trade for a Michael Choice and a Cody Buckel signed card, so I guess these were officially my last autographs pre-game. Thanks again Tyler.

When the gates opened I once again made my way down to the Indians dugout. By the time I got down I noticed Chris Perez and Ubaldo Jimenez both standing around just outside of the dugout. While the other graphers got Jimenez's attention, I called over Perez, who was kind enough to sign three cards for me.

The I took a few steps to my right and got Ubaldo Jimenez to sign a 2010 All-Star baseball.

I was actually really excited to get Ubaldo despite his horrible signature. 2010 was the first ever All-Star game that I attended (I went in 2011 too and hopefully 2014 in Minnesota) and he was the starting pitcher for the National League that season, so it is kind of a personal autograph for me.

A few minutes later, both Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera began signing. Both guys completely ignored everybody the day prior, so I was happy to get a card signed by each of them.

After that, Drew Stubbs began signing. Stubbs was one of the few Indians that I did not get at spring training, so I was happy to get my 2011 Allen and Ginter card signed.

Finally, Justin Masterson and Lonnie Chisenhall began signing after BP. Masterson once again signed for at least 15 minutes, while Lonnie only signed for a handful of people. Luckily, I was able to get them both.

The game ended up being a fourteen inning affair and didn't end until after midnight. To be honest, the only reason I stuck around was to help my friend Spencer, who drove down to try and get Giambi and Swisher on his Yankees plaque. I am happy to say that Spencer did get both players on the plaque, however I did not get one person, as Michael Bourn, the only guy that I really wanted, denied me one on one. After that I decided to go home and get whatever sleep I could.

A big shout out to Kyle, David A, David Park, Benson, Alex G, Rob, Josh, Greg, Crocker, Jeremy, Joe, Tyler, Ryan, Spencer, Lori, Mike, Scotty, Ken Jr, Kyle M, Moe, Robert, Alex Cala, and everybody else that I was able to graph with this summer. I have one more post coming up in a bit, but it has nothing to do with baseball and/or the people mentioned above. You have all made this a great summer that I certainly won't forget. Thanks for reading!

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