One of my favorite things about my birthday is that it's usually close enough to Thanksgiving to where I have the day off of school. It's also just far enough away from Christmas to where it's not forgotten in the holiday madness. So really, it's a win-win. This year it happened to fall on a Saturday, and after a few weeks of saving I was able to raise enough money to afford a short weekend trip to the Fanatics Authentics show in Chicago.
Of course, that weekend Chicago got hit by the city's largest snow storm in years. The high all weekend was a warm 32 degrees, but I loved it. To give you an idea, here was the view outside of our hotel room on Saturday morning:
Here is another from inside of our lobby:
It might not look like a ton of snow, but for someone from Southern California who has only seen snow at ski/snowboard resorts, it was a lot. Luckily the airport, hotel, and the convention center was all within a coupe of miles, so we were able to cab/Uber everywhere.
the first half of Saturday's show went fairly well. My first autograph was from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha. I've mentioned it several times in the past, but the Cardinals are the team that I root for in the National League. It's been that way since I was on the Cardinals tee-ball team, and Wacha happens to be one of my favorite pitchers, so it was neat to get an opportunity to finally meet him.
The next autograph I got came from Ryne Sandberg. I had been debating on getting Sandberg's autograph for the previous week or so, but after a few signers cancelled due to the weather it was an easy decision. I ended up having him sign a ROMLB with "'Ryno'", "HOF 05" and "84 NL MVP".
Of course, it turned out to be one of my favorite autographs all weekend, so I was happy with my decision. I had regretted getting Sandberg on a Gold Glove ball instead of a sweet spot when he visited Angel Stadium with the Phillies, so it was a nice "redemption" autograph for me.
The third and final guy that I got on Saturday was Cubs phenom Kris Bryant. Bryant had just won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award and the most popular signer at the show. He ended up selling out of tickets before the day began, but I was smart enough to have pre-ordered them a couple of days before.
The bald guy to Bryant's left turned out to be one of the biggest (fill in the blank) of the year. I only bring this up because I've had promoters email me in the past when I complain about a worker, and I hope Fanatics does the same here. In reality, there is no need to be rushing people who are spending more money to get one person's autograph than what he (the handler) is making all weekend. It was frustrating because I feel as if this man was encouraging Bryant to give out sloppier signatures by constantly telling fans, and even Bryant, to "hurry up" or "keep it moving". I ended up getting both items that I wanted signed, but I do wish that it would have been a less chaotic experience, like every other athlete at the show who was not rushed.
Saturday ended like any good day would, with Chicago-style pizza from Giordano's.
There was only one big signer on Sunday that I was worried about and that was Carlos Correa. I had already gotten some really nice Bryant's from his first few months in pro baseball, but Correa has never been the nicest guy or easiest signer ever since his days in A-ball. My goal was basically to get a couple of nice, full signatures from Correa and not have to worry about the sloppy signature that he gives out at the ballpark.
The first ball is inscribed "2015 AL ROY', and the second is inscribed the same, plus "Showrrea". It was kind of a cheesy inscription to get done but Correa thought it was funny and unique, which was basically what I was going for.
Ironically he turned out to be one of the nicer signers at the show. His line was probably the third longest all weekend, behind only Bryant and Brett Favre, and yet he wasn't rushed and actually had good conversations with everyone. That's the way it should be for every athlete. You can see him and I talking in the photo above, actually about Mike Trout since I was wearing an Angels hat. It was cool to have that experience since he is a complete opposite at the stadium.
I got a few smaller guys on Sunday but nobody big. Overall it was a fun weekend and another great trip to Chicago, which is an amazing place to visit. Thanks as always!