Saturday, March 30, 2013

Freeway Series Graphing at Angel Stadium


         On Saturday I made the trip out to good ol' Angel Stadium to graph game three of the Dodgers vs. Angels exhibition series. This was my first time back at Angel Stadium since late September, and to say I was excited would be an understatement. I planned an all-day outing and was hoping that the effort would pay off.

          When I pulled into the parking lot it was literally like Christmas morning for me. Last year I attended over 50 games, so as you could imagine, I became quite familiar with the place. I was also happy to see most of my graphing friends already waiting including Nancy, Kieth, David, Alex, Josh, and many more. To top things off I was able to get plenty of autographs including a few studs.


          Chad Billingsley was the first Dodger to come over and sign. I have always had a tough time obtaining Billingsley's autograph, so I was happy to check his name off the list early. Chad was signing one item per person, but luckily my good friend Jim had nothing for him and got the card on the right signed for me. Thanks Chad and thanks Jim!


          Don Mattingly also came over and signed. Don is simply one of the best when it comes to signing. It looked at first as if he was in a hurry and wasn't going to sign, but he broke down and signed for a good 25 people.


          My favorite item I got was by far my Josh Beckett signed baseball. Josh was one of the biggest jerks when he was with Boston, however has mellowed down a bit since coming to Los Angeles. He was kind enough to sign my Rawlings official baseball across the sweetspot.


          I got really lucky with getting Kenley Jansen's autograph. Kenley walked half way down the barricade and then walked directly over to me. He signed my photo, David's photo, and a card for Alex and then left. All three of us were extremely lucky to get Kenley's autograph.


          I then headed back to the front of the stadium to catch some of the broadcasters. The first guy to come in was Mark Langston. Langston is always cool about signing and never has turned down an autograph request to my knowledge. Mark was kind enough to sign two more cards for me to add to the collection. You can never get enough of a 4x All-Star and 7x Gold Glove winner!


          Rick Monday then came in. Monday was one of my main goals coming into the day since I needed him on my 1981 Dodgers World Series photo. I was the first person to approach Monday and he was more than happy to sign the photo for me. The gates of the stadium then opened and I went inside for batting practice. There wasn't much going on at all until after BP when some of the players came out to stretch.


          Clayton Kershaw then started signing autographs over the dugout. Kershaw ran with a black Sharpie the entire time and wasn't sweetspoting. I didn't want to pass up a free autograph from one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, so I threw down my 2011 All-Star Game ball which Clayton signed under the reverse Rawlings logo. Hey, it's still a Keshaw autograph!


          Carl Crawford then came over just before the game and signed for five of us. He used my blue ball-point pen pen but I guess he couldn't hear me when I asked for the sweetspot. Unfortunately the music was really loud and the crowd was cheering since they were introducing the Angels line-up, so I can't say I was surprised that he didn't hear me.

          As for the rest of the autographs, here they are followed by some numbers...


Kevin Gregg- 4/4
Chris Capuano- 2/5
Justin Sellers- 4/4
Chad Billingsley- 2/4
Nick Punto- 1/4
Ken Howell- 2/2
Mark Langston- 2/2
Rick Honeycutt- 1/1
Tim Wallach- 1/4
Josh Beckett- 1/1 (baseball)
Don Mattingly- 1/1 (8x10 photo)
Kenley Jansen- 1/1 (8x10 photo)
Rick Monday- 1/1 (W.S. trophy photo)
Clayton Kershaw- 1/1 (11' A.S. ball)
Carl Crawford- 1/1 (baseball)

Total- 25 autographs

          Overall it was a solid day of graphing. I think I was just more excited to be back at the stadium then to graph. It makes April 9th (Angels home opener) seem a lot closer! A big thanks to all of the players that signed for me and a big shout out to everybody the I saw and/or graphed with. Thanks for reading and happy Easter! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Caron Butler at Westfield Culver City


          First off, I would like to apologize for getting this post up so late. I've been very busy this past week with school, sports, etc. and writing a recap has been the last thing on my mind. This past Saturday I made the trip out to the Five Four clothing store at the Westfield Culver City mall to meet Clippers forward Caron Butler. This was my second straight day attending a Clippers signing and I honestly didn't know whether to expect a big turnout like the Grant Hill signing or a small turnout. The signing was very sketchy and there was some serious communication problems between the store and the fans. The Facebook page created by the store for the event specifically listed that Caron "would be signing autographs for exactly one hour", however, if you called the store they told you that it was only a meet and greet and that Caron wasn't signing. I wanted to believe that this would keep the crowd to a minimum, but with the way the Clippers fan base has been growing, I just didn't know what to expect.

          I ended up getting to the mall around 9:30 and noticed just a small line of nine people formed along side the store. Surprisingly, none of the regulars were among the first nine or so people. I made some calls to people and sure enough, the uncertainty about Caron actually signing autographs kept almost all of the regulars at home. This was relatively good news for me, of course only if Caron would sign autographs, as I was almost certain that I wouldn't have to compete with more long lines. Caron showed up about 10 minutes early, got a quick hair cut (he doesn't have much hair to cut anyways) and went inside the store. An employee came out and informed the line that it was only a meet and greet, and that Caron wasn't obligated to sign any autographs, however if we wanted something signed, we could ask Caron personally and it would be up to him. While it didn't exactly confirm that he would sign autographs, it did get my hopes up. Then the moment of truth came, the second person to walk up to him asked him to sign her ball, and he obliged! By the time we got up to him, we were more than sure that he was signing. Caron was very friendly and very personable to all of the fans. Since it was an actually meet and greet, the workers did not rush you through the line. They actually encouraged you to talk to him and take photographs with him. Caron was nice enough to sign an 8x10 photograph of him, Deandre Jordan, and Blake Griffin for me, as well as one out of three cards for my mother, who was probably the most excited to meet Caron.



          As you can see, the photograph now only needs Blake's autograph on it to complete it. The nice thing about this photo is that all three of the guys are fairly accessible. The photo was taken before the Chris Paul trade last December, so it is one of the few Clippers group photographs that don't have CP3 on it. Blake is not that hard of an autograph to get, it's just about being at the right place at the right time. I've gotten his autograph before, but at the time I didn't have the photo. After I do get Blake, I'll pry get it PSA'd and professionally frame it with a blue and red mat over it. Once I get all of that done, it pry becomes a $500+ piece and a centerpiece of my collection. It's not that I ever plan to sell any of my stuff, but you never know what will come up in life. Family comes first before anything, and if something tragic were to come up at ay point of my life, it's just nice to know that I have an emergency "fund", so to speak, in my room that could definitely help any situation.  

          Overall only about 100 people showed up and only a couple of regular graphers were amongst the crowd. A big thanks to the Five Four store for putting on the event as well as Caron Butler for being so cool and friendly. Baseball season is right around the corner and my adventures will pick up as April turns into May and May turns into June (which is when I get out for Summer Break). To name off a few guys I got last year... Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp, Jered Weaver, R.A. Dickey, David Price, Josh Hamilton, and many more! So make sure to continue checking for many new posts in the upcoming months! Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Day of Graphing: Grant Hill, Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll Signings


          Friday was one of the busiest graphing days in Southern California in a while. With all of the local baseball teams being in Arizona for Spring Training, autographing has taken a turn for the worst here in the past month or so. Fortunately, this week the signings have been at a premium, and with me being on Spring Break, things couldn't have picked up at a better time!

Grant Hill Signing at Kia of Carson:

          I started off the day with a trip down to Carson for former NBA Rookie of the Year Grant Hill. From what I heard from other graphers, this was Grant's first appearance in Southern California, and it happened to fall on a perfect day for me. With it being a Friday and many people being at work, I figured that I wouldn't have to get to the signing super early in order for me to be guaranteed an autograph, and indeed I was right. I got to the Kia dealership around 11:30 (the signing was scheduled start at 2:30) and found myself only about 20 people back from the front of the line. 

          Grant, like most Clipper players, ended up showing up about 45 minutes late, however the wait went by fast as a majority of the autographing community was there to talk to. When I went up to Grant he couldn't have been more pleasant. He was very personable and taking time to talk to all of the fans for a quick second. Due to the line being long (about 250 people) there was a strict one-per person rule put on the signing, but to be honest, I think Grant would have gladly signed everything for everyone. In fact, a few of the first people came out with multiple things signed, but unfortunately security began to catch on and would only let Grant sign one item. One person asked Grant for a second item and he said "Sorry, she's the bad person today" pointing at one of the Clippers public relations people. That got a good laugh from the crowd.


          Grant made up for the one per limit by putting anything and everything you asked for on your item. My friend Larry ended up getting three or four inscriptions on his official NCAA basketball. My mother and I, however, just stuck to one inscription on each of our photographs, and Grant was kind enough to put "Blue Devils!" on my 11x14 and "7x All Star!" on the 8x10 that my mother got for me. It was really nice to see Grant be such a class act like he was, he has always been one of my favorite players and now I'm glad to see him on my favorite team. Hopefully he can finally get a ring this season and go out on top! A big thanks to Grant for being the class act that he was and taking the time to sign. I ended up hearing that Grant stayed just under 3 hours instead of the 1 hour that he was scheduled for! Also a big thanks to Kia of Carson for putting on this great event. I thought about going back in line for a second time, but instead I decided to head down the road a bit for another signing that was starting in a few hours.

Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll Signing:

          I got a last minute tip in line from one of my good friends that Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll were signing at a near-by Verizon Wireless in Torrance. I felt like a complete idiot since the signing had been well advertised for over a week. I also apparently forgot about an Antwan Jamison signing the night previous that I had planned on attending, I guess going to Arizona threw my dates off. Anyways, after hearing the tip I became increasingly interested in the signing. Greene is typically a tough autograph to get and Stoll is just one of those guys that never seem to do public appearances, at least none that I'm aware of. However I had left all of my Kings stuff back at home, which was well over an hour away. I was a little frustrated since I had a ton of Greene cards and a few Stoll cards, as well as an official Kings puck that I've been trying to get signed which were all left lying in my closet. Luckily Larry, who sells supplies such as photos, balls, etc. at almost every event in the area, had some photos of the two. Also another one of my friends gave me an extra blank puck to get signed. Since I was facing a nearly three hour drive home with traffic, I figured that it wouldn't be a terrible idea to let traffic die down a bit and go to the signing.

          When I got to the signing there were a good 100 people already lined up. I always seem to forget that the Kings have had a growing fan base here in So-Cal ever since they won the Stanley Cup last season. I'm not calling these fans bandwagoners, but all I can say is that there were never this many fans at Kings signings before last season. By the time the signing started there were a good 300 people lined up. Luckily Greene and Stoll showed up together a few minutes early and started signing right away. Both players were blowing through the line and they got through the hundred or so people in front of us in about 25 minutes. Again there was a one item per-person rule enforced, but there was really nobody to enforce it. Both players were pretty much signing anything you laid down in front of them. I only had two items for each player, and one of which my mother was getting signed for me, so instead of asking for multiples, I asked for inscriptions. Both players were kind enough to put "2012 Stanley Cup Champs" on each of the celebratory 8x10s that I had.


          Both players were also kind enough to sign an item for my mother as well. P.S.- I've been getting a lot of questions lately asking if my mother has her own collection. So you know, she does not. She could really care less about the autograph, but instead just likes meeting the players and getting the extra autograph for me.


          Overall it was a fantastic day of graphing. I ended up being out of the house from about 10 am to 8:30 pm but overall, I think it was a day well spent. A big thanks to Grant, Matt and Jarret for signing. Also, a big shout out to everyone who I talked to today (too many to name). By the way, if you ever see me at an event, make sure to come up and say hi. I enjoy meeting my everyday readers and find it cool that people recognize me. Like my friend David from David's Autograph Signings warned me, I'm getting famous! (lol) Thanks for reading!  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nebraska vs. Cal State Fullerton Baseball Game


          It didn't take me long to get back into some Cali graphing as I decided to head out to Goodwin Field in Fullerton on Wednesday night for the Nebraska vs. Cal State Fullerton baseball game. The main reason I made the trip out to Fullerton was for Nebraska's head coach and former Angel legend Darin Erstad. I had already gotten Erstad's autograph once this year when Nebraska came to Fullerton last month, however I was hoping to get a few cards signed by the former World Series Champion as well as get a some autographs from 2013 draft prospect Michael Lorenzen and one of CSF's new coaches, Shane Costa. In the end I was able to obtain autographs from all three of them in about 45 minutes. Erstad was kind enough to do four out of eight cards while both Lorenzen and Costa were kind enough to do everything that I had brought for them. I just took some quick photographs so my apologizes if the quality of the pictures aren't great.


          You could tell that Erstad was a bit annoyed with people asking for autographs, but he was still kind enough to sign, and in the end that's really all that matters. I think Erstad's greeting may have been worn out the first time he came down. I know some graphers were double and even triple dipping him, handing him a ton of items, and asking for autographs an in-opportune times, so I think this time he was less friendly about signing. A big thanks to Darin, Michael and Shane for signing and making the short trip to the ballpark worth it! Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your week!           

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Training: Part Two


          On Friday afternoon I made the five hour trip to Goodyear, Arizona for my second and final trip to Spring Training. This was my third straight year of going to Spring Training, but this was the first year I made two trips out. My first trip in late February produced massive numbers for me, and I was able to get a total of almost 400 autographs in just four days (You can read about that trip by clicking here) and I was hoping to produce similar numbers in my three days down in AZ this time. While I still did good, I came to a conclusion that the earlier you go to Spring Training, the better.

Day 1 (3/16/13):

          I had a booked schedule for my first day in Arizona. All in all I had planned on visiting four different stadiums in the Phoenix area. To start the day off I went to Camelback Ranch in Glendale for the Chicago White Sox's morning practice. My main goal of the day was to get Paul Konerko's autograph, as well young pitching sensation Chris Sale. However that hope were shot down after I found out that Sale would be starting that afternoon against the Athletics. The first autograph I got was from Gavin Floyd. Floyd was just hanging out and was kind enough to come over and sign for the 30 or so fans waiting. Gavin was kind enough to sign a pair of cards for me.



          Dayan "The Tank" Viciedo also came over to sign after he was done practicing. I got Viciedo's autograph on a pair of cards last season when the Sox came to Anaheim, but was happy to get his autograph again on his brand new 2013 Topps Heritage card.



          I for one really like the new design for the Heritage cards. I have heard a lot of collectors rant about how they hate the design, but I really like it. In fact it is probably one of my favorite Heritage designs since Topps began making the set (2012 and 2010 are also pretty nice). Anyways, back to autographs. Paul Konerko came over and signed some autographs on my side after practice was over. I waited patiently as Paul worked his way down the line, then, after he signed the guy's 8x10 right next to me, he stopped signing, walked another five feet down, and started signing again. Okay, so then I went down to where he was NOW signing and was in perfect position. Paul reached out to grab my ball, but right then, some 30 year old guy reached out over my shoulder and yelled "Paul, this is for my kids!". Paul stuttered, then picked up his ball instead and signed it. It didn't bug me too much at the time since I was right there, so instead I just asked Paul how his day was going and he said "Pretty good, I'm going to go eat lunch now" then handed the ball back to the guy and left. I was disappointed to say the least. I sure hope that guys' kids were at home, because there wasn't any kids near him after he went back to his original spot. Luckily Robin Ventura cheered things up, as he came over to talk to some friends and was kind enough to sign for fans who waited.


          Robin signed the 2013 Heritage card (left) at practice and then signed the 1998 Topps (right) inside the stadium before the game started. Inside the stadium I was able to get quite a few other autographs as well, including Alexei Ramirez, White Sox legend Harlod Baines, and former CY Young winner Jake Peavy.


          Then Konerko started signing again but way down the line from where I was standing. Game time was less than 10 minutes away and I thought all hope was lost. But then Paul decided to come down near where I was waiting, and signed some more autographs. He kept getting closer and I was afraid that he would skip me again, but I guess the third time really is the charm as Paul grabbed my baseball, signed it across the sweetspot, and then signed for one more person before running back into the dugout.


          I had basically gotten 90% of the players that I needed at Camelback, so I decided to head over to Maryvale to catch the Brewers' starters as they got pulled out of the game. As for the morning at Camelback, here are my final results...


White Sox:
Jose Quintana- 4/4
Steve Tolleson- 4/4
Trayce Thompson- 3/3
Jesse Crain- 3/3
Gavin Floyd- 3/3
Angel Sanchez- 3/3
Keon Barnum- 3/3
Connor Gillespi- 2/2
Josh Bell- 3/3
Duante Heath- 2/2
Matt Lindstrom- 2/2
Dayan Viciedo- 1/4
Jordan Danks- 2/2
David Purcey- 2/2
Robin Ventura- 2/2
Brent Morel- 1/3
Jake Peavy- 1/4
Alexei Ramirez- 1/3
Gordon Beckham- 1/8
Harold Baines- 1/4

Total: 44 autographs

          I got to Maryvale around the third inning and walked around the stadium a bit to scout things out. Most of the Brewers starters were in except for Braun and Lucroy, who were coming back from Florida after serving on team U.S.A. in the World Baseball Classic. When the players came out of the game they basically had to walk right by you or take the elevator to get to the clubhouse, but many of them just ignored out requests. In fact I was a bit surprised by how the Brewers were not even acknowledging their fans even the slightest bit. In the end I only came away with a few autographs, all of them coaches except for one.


Brewers:
Mike Gonzalez- 3/3
Lee Tunnell- 3/3
Marcus Hanel- 2/2
Ron Roenicke- 1/6

Total: 9 autographs, thanks Brewers

          The only Reds player I got was Todd Fraizer. I actually had no clue who the Brewers were playing due to a lack of homework. I had a lot of Reds cards in the car but they weren't organized so I just sat there and watched a few Reds players walk right by feeling like an idiot. Luckily I traded a fellow grapher for the Fraizer card and got it signed just moments later. Thanks to Todd and the grapher who traded me the card.


          I put the bad numbers from Maryvale behind me and headed over to Packaard Stadium in Tempe for the ASU baseball game. ASU features a pair of guys who have been on past U.S.A. teams, Ryan Burr and Trevor Williams, and also has a coach who formerly played on the San Francisco Giants back in the early 1990's, Mike Benjamin. I got to the stadium about an hour before game time and found Trevor Williams quickly. He was kind enough to sign his new 2012 U.S.A. card for me.


          I then found Burr, who was standing over in the ASU bullpen, and called him over. Ryan was as cool as could be and signed all 13 of my cards. We talked for a while as he was signing the cards, apparently his favorite team is the Rockies, and with their need for pitching, he could very well end up in Colorado at some point in his career.


          Benjamin stayed in the dugout the entire time and apparently you weren't allowed to go near the dugout unless you had seats in that area, which I did not. So I left after getting Williams and Burr and headed back to Goodyear to see if I could catch the Indians by their parking lot. It ended up being a pretty bad night for autographs and a majority of the players either avoided coming near the fans or just denied our requests. I ended up coming away with just a few autographs.


Indians:
Nick Hagadone- 3/3
Rich Hill- 3/3
Eziquel Carrera- 4/4
Sandy Alomar Jr.- 1/4

Total: 11 autographs

          I then made the short drive back to my aunt's house and rested up for what would be another long day of Cactus League graphing.

Day 2 (3/17/13):

          For the second straight day I had a packed schedule. I planned on visiting three stadiums (2 of which fore sure) and then hang out in Phoenix for a bit. I had a rough time waking up after a bit of a rough night's sleep, but was able to make it out to Surprise just as the practice field gates were opening. I decided to try the Royals this morning since I was almost sure that the Rangers side would be crazy due to it being Spring Break for most of the Texas schools. Plus I had planned on graphing part of the Rangers split-squad later in the afternoon. As for the Royals, most of the major leaguers didn't sign. I had heard great things about this complex, but was surprised by the lack of accessibility, at least on the Royals side. However I was able to get a few minor leaguers over by the minor league fields, which were actually very accessible and a great place to get autographs. The main guy of the day to sign was Mike Moustakas, who took the time to come over and sign for everyone. Mike is one of my favorite young players. In fact I witnessed his MLB debut as well as his first MLB home run in person at Angel Stadium. I got Moustakas a couple of times this past season in Anaheim, but was happy to get him a another pair of cards.

  
         Like I said above, the majority of the players that I got sigs from were minor leaguers who didn't get the invite to big league camp, so not much to point out specifically other than Moustakas.


Royals:
John Lamb- 4/4
Mike Moustakas- 2/4
Cheslor Cuthbert- 3/3
Sam Selman- 2/2
Brian Brickhouse- 1/1
Doug Henry- 3/3

Total: 15 autographs

          I thought about checking out the Rangers' minor league game on the other side of the complex, but decided to head out to Peoria instead to catch Felix Hernandez, who was pitching in a minor league game.

          "The King" was scheduled to pitch four innings over at the Peoria minor league fields, which are very accessible for autographs. Apparently the Mariners didn't want the Rangers to be able to see Felix live since they will face him many times during the regular season, so instead they had him pitch against Single-A batters. A few other graphers as well as myself waited until Felix completed his four innings, and then tried to predict where he would come out. He ended up taking a cart out the right field wall and met up with his wife and kids who had came out to watch. Seeing that he had his family with him, I was almost certain that he wouldn't sign. Indeed, I was correct and Felix speed off in the cart. So after being denied by Felix, I went inside the game and attempted to get some of the starters as they got pulled.

          A majority of the Rangers big names were with the other half of the split squad at another ballpark, however the Mariners had almost all of their starters in the game, and a majority of them signed as they got pulled. Overall I was able to get some quality autographs, including two from Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley, who for some reason has been my "white whale" since he got the call-up.


          As for the rest of the day at Peoria, here are some photographs followed by the numbers. As you can see it was once again quality over quantity, which began to become a trend this time down.


Rangers:
Michael Kirkman- 4/4
Joe Nathan- 2/5 (signed for everyone)
Evan Meek- 3/3
Konrad Schmidt- 1/1

Total: 10 autographs

 
Mariners:
Jason Bay- 4/4
Blake Beavan- 2/3
Brad Miller- 4/4
Dustin Ackley- 2/4
Franklin Gutierrez- 2/4

Total: 14 autographs

          Since it was Sunday, there were no actual night games going on. Instead the latest game started at 3:05 between the Rockies and the Giants in Scottsdale. I headed over to Scottsdale and got there just seconds before the last out, but I ended up just turning around after seeing well over 200 fans waiting by the player's parking lot. So I just decided to go downtown and enjoy a nice dinner at the TGIF's inside of Chase Field. If any of you ever get a chance to go to Arizona and are looking for a place to eat, you have to go to this place. The restaurant is open every night and you can even sit on the left field deck over looking the entire ballpark. Plus it is filled with tons of memorabilia like signed jerseys, baseballs, photos, and even the sign "Front Row" sign that Mark McGwire broke with a monstrous home run. It is definitely something you have to see if you are in the area.

Day 3 (3/18/13):

          For my third and final day in Arizona I decided to head back to Goodyear for the Indians morning practice. I had three main goals for the day, the first two were to get Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, who had alluded me to that point, as well as Jason Giambi, who will most likely retire if he does not make the Opening Day roster for Cleveland. To assure that my final day wouldn't be a bust, I decided to wake up early, and I mean early, to try and catch some players coming in. Luckily I was the only person crazy enough to wait that early on a Monday morning and was able to get a few of the Indians coming in including one of my Twitter followers, Scott Kazmir, Jason Kipnis and Vinnie Pestano.


          It seemed like no time before 9:00 rolled around and the practice fields gates opened. I went inside with my three main goals of Swisher, Bourn and Giambi still in-tact and was hoping to knock at least one of them out at morning practice. Sure enough I was able to knock not  only one, but two of my main goals out by getting both Giambi and Bourn.



          As an added bonus I was also able to get skipper Terry Francona on a 2007 Allen and Ginter card. Terry used to be a terrible signer when he was manager of the Red Sox and even last year when he was a broadcaster on ESPN, but has surprisingly been signing away this Spring. Maybe "Tito" is just happy to have a job again. 


          Overall it was a great start to the morning, and I headed over to the main stadium in hopes of getting some of the Brewers. Unfortunately the Brewers were pretty stingy today as well. The big names that signed were Rickie Weeks, Aoki, and Carlos Gomez, however they all signed at once and I couldn't get any of their autographs. In the end I was able to scratch out a few players and coaches.


Brewers:
Caleb Gindl- 3/3
Taylor Green- 3/3
Logan Schafer- 1/4
John Shelby- 3/3
Ron Roenicke- 1/5

Total: 11 autographs, once again, thanks Brewers (sarcasm)

          I then headed back to the practice facility to catch the minor league game between the Reds and the Indians. Since I was over by the Indians parking lot, I was also hoping to be able to call over Nick Swisher after he got pulled out of the game. As for the minor league game, I ended up doing pretty good. I also got a surprise as Mark Prior ended up pitching an inning with his newest organization, the Reds. I didn't have any cards of Prior, but luckily another grapher gave me a 2007 Topps to get signed.


Indians:
Fernando Nieve- 3/3
Tony Wolters- 3/3
Mike McDade- 3/3
Tim Fedroff- 2/2
Jeremy Hermida- 1/8

Total: 12 autographs


Reds:
Ryan LaMarre- 1/1
Mark Prior- 1/1

Total: 2 autographs

          Then the big moment happened. Swisher came in on a bus with a few other players, I asked him if he would sign after he got dressed and he said he would. Although I wanted to believe Swisher, I had been denied to many times in the past to fully believe him. About 20 minutes later Swisher came out the middle entrance with his father. I again called for him and he told me to meet him by the exit. Sure enough Nick kept his word and stopped his tricked out Hummer to sign autographs for all of us (roughly 8 people). Nick is always a cool dude and is just the same off the camera as he is on the camera. It is always nice to see someone with a smile on his face as often as Swish does. Nick was kind enough to sign my 8x10 as well as a 2012 Topps Heritage card.



          By the time Swish was finished signing it was 4:00 and I figured it would be a good time to call it a trip and end Spring Training on a good note. As for the final results for my last day, here they are.


Indians:
Jason Giambi- 7/7
Jason Kipnis- 1/4
Vinnie Pestano- 7/7
Michael Brantley- 1/3 (big douche)
Scott Kazmir- 2/8
Mark Reynolds- 2/4
Joe Smith- 2/2
Terry Francona- 1/3
Michael Bourn- 1/1 (8x10 photo)
Nick Swisher- 1/4 1/1 (8x10 photo)

Total: 26 autographs

Total for the entire trip: roughly 169 autographs 

          Overall 169 autographs isn't quite near where I expected, but it's still nothing to be ashamed of over a three day period. Plus I was able to get a lot of quality autographs including Konerko, Peavy, Nathan, Moustakas, Giambi, Bourn, Swisher and more. If there is one thing that I realized, the earlier you go in the month, the more autographs you are going to get. I observed a lot of players and noticed that most of them had put all the fan friendly stuff aside and were in "game mode" while others were still as kicked back as they were in February. The 169 autographs brings my yearly total up to around 750 autographs. Not quite sure of the exact amount, but it is probably in a 10 autograph range. Now with Opening Day just around the corner, I can shift my attention to graphing at the Big A in just a couple of weeks! A big thanks to all fo the players that were kind enough to sign. Thanks for reading!