(My apologies for this post getting up so late. It was written in early March just after I got home from Arizona, however it never uploaded for some reason.)
There's no better time of the year for baseball fans and collectors than when pitchers and catchers first report for Spring Training. While that day came and went a few weeks ago, it was just this past weekend that I was finally able to make the trip out to Arizona for my annual Spring Training getaway.
This year I would only be taking a two day trip to Arizona, however. After last years Spring Training haul there were very few guys remaining in the Cactus League that I still needed. Also, my wallet was still crying a bit after my trip to Houston last month, so I had to scrap together what little bit of money I had remaining just to get enough supplies for the weekend.
My first stop of the weekend came Saturday morning at the Diamondbacks practice fields. Despite hearing rumors of insanely large crowds earlier this Spring, I still decided to try my luck with the D-Backs, a team I've been successful with in past years. I ended up getting several new 2015 Heritage cards signed along with some others.
I was also able to get former World Series hero Joe Carter to sign a baseball with the "2x W.S. Champs" inscription. Carter was my main goal aside from Yasmany Tomas at the D-Backs camp, so I was happy to add him to the collection.
My last autograph came from another D-Backs coach, Mark Grace. I was debating on dropping a ball on Grace since my supplies were limited, but after Tomas made it clear that he wasn't signing I decided to use the ball that I had set aside for him on "Gracie" instead. He was also kind enough to add "01 Champs".
After D-Backs practice my friend Mike and I high-tailed it to Scottsdale where there was a "free" baseball fan fest going on. There were supposed to be multiple guests and a few HOF'ers attending the event throughout the day, so our hope was that we would be able to score their autographs as well. The first person we ran into was Ferguson Jenkins, who was signing autographs for his foundation. He was only asking for a $20 donation to sign any item you had, so I decided to get a ball signed with "HOF 91".
After walking around for a few minutes I decided to go back and get a card signed as well for another $10. I really liked the design of his 2014 Ginter card and always feel good about donating to charity, so I figured "why not?". I was also able to get a photo with him the second time around.
We ended up finding out that the other guests would not be signing autographs for free. Even though it was advertised as a free meet and great event, it would cost you $100 to guarantee an autograph and a chance to meet each player. I really hate promoters who lie about their events so instead of paying the fee, Mike and I left and drove over to the Oakland A's game where we saved $80 and got Rollie Fingers instead.
I ended up spending another $20 to get a second, and very special, ball signed by Rollie. Fingers attended my high school from 1961 to 1964, and you'll find various plaques with him on it all around the campus, so I decided to get another baseball signed with the years that he went there. The inscription may have actually devalued the ball, but it's a very special one to me.
After that we made our way back to the Baseball City fan fest event to try and get the players walking around. Since there were no night games there wasn't much to loose by standing around for a few minutes. I ended up coming away with a few nice signed cards.
We also were able to get Steve Garvey to sign a few cards, but for whatever reason my scan didn't come out for it or one other group of cards.
Day two was a shorter, but equally as eventful day. It started out early Sunday morning at the Indians lot where I only came away with David Murphy and a few guys on a 2015 Heritage team card.
If anyone can guess all four signatures on the team card correctly, then I'll send you a prize pack with some autographed cards. One of the four should be fairly easy, but the other three are difficult.
I then made my way over to the White Sox camp which was a poor choice quality wise. Jose Abreu would not touch a pen and Jeff Samardzija happened to be pitching that day, so he did not come out for morning practice. Chris Sale is injured as well, so I wasn't expecting to get him in the first place. I did come away with a few more 2015 Heritage and some other signed cards.
I was able to get top prospect Carlos Rodon to sign a ball, so the trip to Camelback was far from an entire loss. I've heard some bad things about Rodon in the past, but he was very friendly and signed more autographs than any other Sox player.
My final stop for the trip was at Peoria for the Rockies-Padres game. Peoria is, in my opinion, the best stadium in the Cactus League circuit when it comes to autographs. I've always done well there in the past and this day was no different. While I wasn't able to get 3/4ths of the Padres big offseason acquisitions, I was still happy with the results.
Unfortunately the second scan was the other one that didn't turn out, but for those who are interested I was able to get Brandon Morrow, Matt Wisler, and Cameron Maybin on two each, and Carlos Quentin and Drew Stubbs of the Rockies on one each. Sorry to deprive you of seeing those *sarcasm*.
Overall it was a quick but successful trip. 70 autos is a bit less than what I've got in past years, but for two days I'd say I did fairly well. I'm happy with the results and had a good time in the process. Thanks for reading!