Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dodgers Fan Fest: 1/31/15

On Sunday, January 31st, the Los Angeles Dodgers held their 4th annual Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium. This was the first year that I decided to attend the event despite missing out on getting any autograph vouchers when they went on sale. Luckily my friend Alex had an extra voucher for the Joc Pederson/Mickey Hatcher line and I was able to pick up a voucher for the Zach Lee/Brandon McCarthy line the night before on Ebay.

After battling with some Los Angeles traffic I finally arrived at Dodger Stadium and met up with Alex and his brother Rob. Several Dodger Dogs later (Yes, they're as amazing as advertised) we made our way over to the autograph lines to wait for the next session. Both of my vouchers happened to be for the 12:10 session, so I had to get a spot at the front of the Pederson/Hatcher line in order to make it through the line quickly and jump in the Lee/McCarthy line.

All three of us got spots near the front of the line and made it through within a few minutes. I was able to get Mickey Hatcher on a ball with "88 W.S. Champs Dodgers". It was nice to get Hatcher who was not only a World Series hero for the Dodgers in 1988, but also the hitting coach on the Angels 2002 World Series winning team.

Mickey Hatcher autographed baseball
Next up was Joc Pederson, who is projected to have a break-out year in 2015. Pederson played down the road from my house in A-Ball two seasons ago. I ended up getting nearly 30 cards signed by him throughout the year but never thought of getting a baseball done. I finally decided to drop one this time around and Joc was nice enough to inscribe "PCL 30/30".

Joc Pederson autographed baseball
After getting Pederson, Rob and I got in the Lee/McCarthy line. Zach Lee was another guy who I watched play on the Quakes. He was never the easiest autograph to get even in A-Ball, so I was happy to get a ball signed with "2010 1st Round Pick". Unfortunately his autograph is pretty basic but hopefully he'll have a good season in 2015.

Zach Lee autographed baseball
Next to Lee was Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy is one of the funnier guys in baseball and when I handed him a Diamondbacks card to sign he said "I'm going to do something here" and ended up drawing a "LA" over the D-Backs hat.

I got the second McCarthy later in the day at another session and the Kendrick came from my friend Marc who got a free voucher for his session. I'm sure Howie will take over as the Dodgers' go-to guy when it comes to free signings much like he was with the Angels.

I decided to bail after getting the second McCarthy and called it a day. I know a lot of people who were able to get Zack Greinke vouchers for later in the day so congrats if you are one of those. Luckily I got three of him two years ago on a rehab assignment so I wasn't concerned about getting one more. Overall it was a good day graphing with Alex, Rob, Ryan, Josh, David, and others. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eddie Guardado's Stars and Strikes Bowling Event: 1/25/15

Former All-Star pitcher Eddie Guardado held his fourth annual Stars and Strikes bowling event on Sunday, January 25th. The event is usually one of the best offseason graphing opportunities for So-Cal graphers, but unfortunately it has been hectic and packed with autograph seekers the past couple of years thanks to blogs like my own. This years guest list included Jered Weaver, Torii Hunter, Garrett Anderson, Josh Hamilton, Troy Percival, and others. Unfortunately Hunter and Anderson were no-shows, and guys like Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre were too buy with their team's Fan Fests to attend.

One of the biggest shocks of 2015 happened right before I got to the event. Apparently Jered Weaver stopped and signed about twenty autographs on his way in to the event. Weaver is a notoriously tough autograph to get and I didn't truly believe it until my friend Alex showed me his 2012 Heritage card that he got done for his set. I wasn't too disappointed since I have a nice collection of Weaver's, but it was still surprising to hear about.

Throughout the night I was able to get cards signed by Scott Erickson, Gary Matthews Jr., Brett Tomko, and Eddie Guardado.

It may sound quirky but I was happy to finally get Matthews' autograph. I watched him play in an Angels uniform for years ad for whatever reason he was always a tough auto to get during his playing days. My friend David was extremely excited to see him since he was finally able to get his game used bat signed. You can check that out on his blog here.

After the event Josh Hamilton came over to sign autographs. No matter what his stats are, I'll always have respect for Josh and the way he treats the fans. I didn't come prepared with any photos or commemorative baseballs so I settled for the standard ROMLB sweet spot. 

Josh Hamilton autographed baseball
Finally I was able to get the before mentioned Scott Erickson on a baseball. My friend Mike and I turned out to be the last people waiting for Erickson to come out and he couldn't have been nicer. We talked for about five minutes and he ended up putting both "No-Hitter 4/27/94" and "91 WS Champs".

Scott Erickson autographed baseball
While I did miss out on getting Weaver it was still nice to see some friends and get some graphs. I was also able to strike a deal with my friend for one of his extra Dodgers Fan-Fest autograph vouchers, which I'll be attending next weekend. Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cal State Fullerton Alumni Game: 1/24/15

On Saturday, January 24th, I attended Cal State Fullerton's annual baseball alumni game. There were actually two alumni games scheduled on Saturday, but I decided to go with Fullerton's game over UCLA's. I still don't know the reason why I chose Fullerton, but something made me change my mind at the last second since I had been planning on going to UCLA all week.

Once I got to Fullerton I was able to catch up with a friend of mine, Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen was the first round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 and was a mid-season All-Star at Double-A Pensacola this past season. He has been extremely friendly since his college days and always goes out of his way to come over and say hello, even at Reds Spring Training last season. This time I brought some Reds cards along for him to sign and, as usual, he knocked out all six for me. He inscribed a bible verse on three of the six including my favorite verse on one.

By the way, I finally figured out the art of scanning cards. Ironically it took me just minutes to do something that I had been trying to figure out for years. It definitely will make posting cards a lot easier for me in the future.

I was also able to get some cards signed by Astros prospect J.D. Davis and big-leaguers Justin Turner and Reed Johnson.

The rest of the event was a bit of a dissapointment. I was hoping for Phil Nevin, Tim Wallach, or even Rickey Romero to show up, but none of them did. Kurt Suzuki was in Minnesota for Twins Fest, so he wasn't able to show up either. Luckily Royals rookie Christian Colon showed up to the game for the first time in a couple of years. I got Colon on a few cards last month but this time I came prepared with a 2014 Postseason baseball. Colon gave me a great signature and inscribed it "2014 Wild Card Winning Run!" for the run he scored off of Salvador Perez's walk-off hit to win the WC game for Kansas City.

Christian Colon autographed baseball
The ball came out great and it was nice seeing some friends and finally watching some baseball again. I'll likely attend UCLA's game next year, but then again I typically say that after every year, so I guess only time will tell. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: 1/17/15

I decided to attend the fourth annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, California on January 17th. I attended the same event back in 2013, but missed last year's game due to other plans. The game features some of the lower end NFL Draft prospects and college seniors who get a chance to play in front of NFL scouts from each and every team. Unfortunately, it didn't feature any top level NCAA talents, so I set my focus on the coaches, which included several NFL HOF'ers and Super Bowl Champs.

Little did I know when I arrived at the game that this would turn out to be one of the most surprising graphing experiences that I've ever had. After a quick stop at Frank and Sons to pick up some supplies, I met up with my friend Scotty and decided to wait for some coaches to come in. I believe that we got there too late to catch any of the coaches, but here is where the surprises started. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a few members of the US National Soccer team. While I'm not a huge soccer fan, I do watch the National team play whenever I can, and I was able to pick out some of the players. One of them was Jermaine Jones, who I had sign a baseball.

Jermaine Jones autographed baseball
Surprisingly Jones said that this wasn't the first baseball he had signed. I guess other graphers had ran into him unexpectedly before too. Either way I found it very cool to get one of my favorite soccer stars.

A few minutes later I spotted the captain of the US team, Clint Dempsey. I also had him sign a ROMLB that I had brought along.

Clint Dempsey autographed baseball
The signature on the baseball came out a bit rough, but Dempsey was extremely nice and took the time to talk to everyone. I was in total disbelief at the entire situation, but I had to remember that there was still a football game to graph.

While inside I was told that Panini had a booth set up for NFL rookies to sign autographs at. There had been rumors that Odell Beckham Jr. and Teddy Bridgewater would be at the game, since Panini had flown them out to Los Angeles for the week, however the only big name who signed was Tampa Bay running back Mike Evans. Evans had a great rookie season and I wish that I had bought a Bucs mini helmet for him to sign, but I had to settle for the 5x7 cards Panini was giving out for free.

Mike Evans autographed 5x7 card
The game was moving slowly so I decided to get up and see if I could spot any NFL players that might have been watching. While standing around looking at my phone, I spotted another unexpected guest, US goalie Hope Solo. I didn't have anything on me for Hope to sign, so I decided to get a photo with her.

At that point, I had met three star soccer players compared to one NFL rookie. I found it ironic that I had better luck with the soccer players than the football players at a football game. However I wasn't complaining, as I knocked two people off of my autograph "bucket list", so-to-speak.

After the game I decided to wait around in hopes of catching some coaches. The first person who I saw come out was UCLA Bruins QB Brett Hundley. Personally I think that Hundley will be a better pro-QB than either Jameis Winston or Marcus Marriota, but I didn't want to take a risk by dropping an NFL football on him, so I got a photo with him insetad.

Finally, I was able to cap off my day by getting HOF'ers Jackie Slater and Andre Reed to sign a card each, both of which turned out great.

Slater and Reed autographed cards
Unfortunately I did miss out on head coach Mike Holmgren, and I never saw Darrell Green or Jon Kitna, who were both supposed to be coaching, but those would have just been icing on the cake for what was otherwise a great day. I'm looking forward to another great year of graphing in 2015, and what I have in store over the next month or so will surely blow you away. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Teemu Selanne Night: 1/11/15

For years Teemu Selanne has been my hockey idol both on the ice and off of it. On Sunday, January 11, 2015, I finally had the chance to honor him and his amazing career. The Anaheim Ducks held "Teemu Selanne Night" at the Honda Center prior to their game against the Winnipeg Jets, the name of the team (But not the same team) that we won R.O.Y. with in 1992-93. 

A day prior to the actual game, I made my way down to the Honda Center team store in hopes of getting some limited edition Selanne stuff. Unfortunately all of the things I wanted were not being sold until game day, but I was able to pick up a foam "8". I also picked up my ticket which, despite it saying Price: $20.00, cost a lot more than $20.

Foam "8" and Teemu Night ticket
The ticket itself is a pretty cool souvenir and not printed on some cheap paper like most others. I ended up going out of my way to make sure that it didn't get bent throughout the game.

The Ducks had made it very clear that fans would want to be IN their seats by 4:15 by sending out notification after notification all week. I ended up sitting down at exactly 4:17 and surprisingly the ceremony started a couple of minutes later. It was an absolutely amazing ceremony and was 1,000,000 times better than what I had expected. The Ducks even gave out clip-on blinking lights to everyone before the game, so it was quite a scene when the 18,000 people had the blinking lights going throughout the entire hour and a half (Officially the longest retirement ceremony ever recorded) period.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any clear shots of the banner raising, as there was a giant spotlight on both Teemu and the banner, so I "borrowed" this one from the Ducks Twitter.

Pretty much everything was Teemu'd out. Even the bags at the team store had the slogan "For8ver" on them. My favorite thing was the "8" shaped pretzels. When I went to go get one I was told that most of them had sold out, but that there was on left, but it was rock solid. I ended up having an argument with one of the workers who jumped in and told me that I didn't want the pretzel (Spoiler alert: I did want it). The original person helping me offered to give me it for free even though I offered to pay, which upset the other woman who insisted on throwing it away instead of giving it to me or even taking my $5 for it. The result:

The "uneatable" pretzel
Another spoiler alert, I was able to eat it without a problem despite it being "uneatable".

I was also able to pick up some things at the team store that I was looking for the day before. I got a commemorative game puck and a voucher for one of the Teemu bobbleheads that apparently got delayed while being shipped from overseas.

For8ver Teemu puck and voucher
On the way out we were handed free mini-Teemu banners. Apparently this was a giveaway that was announced a while ago, but I had no idea until my friend Eddie texted me about it in the middle of the game. It was a pretty awesome surprise, however.

Free Teemu banner
The back has all of his career stats and his Ducks' franchise record which includes, but is not limited to, games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, game winning goals, playoff games played, playoff points, and more. Not bad. I appreciate all of you who read through this entire post despite it not including one autograph. However, if you've been reading this blog for over a year then you've seen me get plenty of Teemu Selanne autographs in person. In fact, I think my total is up to around 30. So in a way, this is autograph related.

Oh yeah, the Ducks came back from down 2 goals in the final period to win 5-4 in a 6 round shootout. They are now tied with Nashville for the best record in hockey. But no big deal. Thanks for reading!