I never got around to writing a full Spring Training recap, so I wanted to briefly cover some of my favorite items from my annual Arizona trip. One of the first autographs that I got came from 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, Barry Larkin. This still stands as one of my favorite "free" successes of the year.
If you haven't read my Willie Mays post, I encourage you to do so. Those were two of my favorite memories from AZ. Ironically, my other two favorite memories weren't baseball related. Brian Urlacher posted a last-minute autograph signing on his Twitter. After rushing to the nearest Sports Authority (RIP), my friend and I made our way over to the signing. It was so last-minute, in fact, that we were the only two people in line when Urlacher arrived.
Another great memory that I made in Arizona was getting hockey legend Jaromir Jagr. This was arguably my favorite experience in my five years of collecting, and if you're curious about the story, feel free to ask the next time you see me around.
April was a slow month as I was still transitioning from hockey to baseball. For the majority of the month I was much more concerned with the Anaheim Ducks' short-lived playoff run than I was with the Angels getting off to another slow start. However, one of my favorite "break downs" of the year did come in the first week of April.
I have a long history with Kris Bryant, going back to his days at USD and even in the weeks after he was drafted. He's always been a great guy with his fans so I'm glad to see him doing well at the major league level.
Another guy who is great with the fans is Jake Arrieta. It's really nice to see that some guys haven't let one good year go completely to their heads.
May was, undoubtedly, one of my favorite months of the year. It started off with one of my favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals, coming to Anaheim for an interleague series. Despite hearing some bad stories, I was able to get Yadier Molina to sign a baseball. Even though it's side-paneled, it was a pretty neat experience to get Yadi's autograph for the first time.
Several days later, I was able to meet and shake the hand of one of my sports hero's just weeks after he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
To cap off May, I was able to go on-field for batting practice prior to an Angels vs. Astros game. After five years and nearly 200 games attended at Angel Stadium, and this was my first opportunity to watch BP from the field.
To make things even better, I was able to get autographs from Mike Trout and Carlos Correa.
June was my first month of summer vacation, and my brother-in-law and I celebrated with a road trip to Arizona to meet hockey phenom Max Domi. I got several things signed by Domi, but the pucks were two of my favorites.
We also attended a Diamondbacks game later that night, which was a lot of fun. I went to the 2011 Home Run Derby at Chase Field, but had never watched a D-Backs game until that night.
One of the nicest teams to visit Anaheim this season was the Minnesota Twins. The entire team from the coaching staff to the players were all very friendly. Looking back, I'm awfully glad that I got Max Kepler despite everyone asking me "Who is that?".
I also got Joe Mauer's autograph on a baseball. Even though his career has taken a turn for the worse, he was still one of the most dominant players in baseball for a solid half-decade.
July was another fun month highlighted by the 2016 MLB All-Star Game in San Diego. However, the month started off with a different trip to San Diego for the New York Yankees. After a full day's worth of denials, I finally accomplished my one-and-only goal for the series.
I guess that there's some relevance to it now, but at the time I was just relieved to have gotten it signed. Despite all of the controversy, I'm sad to see Alex Rodriguez go. I'm also happy to have gotten three A-Rod autographs in the final three times that I saw him.
All-Star weekend was a lot of fun, but also involved a lot of "work". I know that I won't get much sympathy, but I was going on about ten hours of sleep over three days. I was able to snag several nice autographs, including three of my favorites below:
The players, top to bottom, are Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor, and Manny Machado, who has a gorgeous autograph **sarcasm**. Some other All-Stars that I got include Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Gonzalez, and Matt Carpenter.
My final autograph of the month came from Chris Sale. I'm a big believer in Sale and he'll likely finish near the top of Cy Young voting again. Just don't ask him to wear any throwback unis.
August started of with my second consecutive trip to the National Sports Collectors Convention. One of the main reasons why I chose the National was because Martin Brodeur was scheduled to sign. Brodeur is arguably the greatest hockey goalie of all-time, and isn't a very good signer in person. I got a few items done but this authentic CCM jerseys was by far my favorite.
I also had, arguably, the greatest third baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt, and the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, sign a couple of baseballs.
My favorite experience of the week was meeting Curt Schilling. Take a look at the picture below and notice the hat that I'm wearing:
The first thing that Curt said to me was, "Well which is it? Red Sox or Blue Jays?" I replied, "A bit of both, I just like baseball," and in the middle of my sentence, Curt cuts me off and goes "Ah you damn Canadians". It was really a great moment and you can see that we're still laughing in the photo.
Since this year's show was in New Jersey, I was able to check out three new ballparks on the east coast, bringing my lifetime total up to fourteen.
Camden Yards was my favorite of the three, and it's every bit as advertised. Yankee Stadium is incredible, but it's almost too glamorous and takes away some of the ballpark feel. Nationals Park is nice, but it's almost the opposite of Yankee Stadium; It needs more glamour. I'd still take any three over Angel Stadium of Anaheim of Los Angeles of Orange County.
My final adventure of August was going after the Pittsburgh Pirates in Los Angeles. In under an hour I had gotten everything that I wanted signed, including this David Freese game used jersey.
I was also able to get former NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, for the first time.
Some other great autographs that I got this season, but didn't include, are Connor McDavid, Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Ray Bourque, Adam Jones, Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty, Mike Piazza, Ozzie Smith, Rod Carew, Salvador Perez, Paul Molitor, Jose Altuve, and many more.
My main reasoning for this post is to provide a bit of closure. I started this blog back in November of 2012, inspired by David of David's Autograph Signings and Ryan of RBI Collecting. Ironically, they would become two of my best friends and we have shared many great memories, some that we've blogged about, some that we haven't. There are many consequences, both good and bad, when it comes to writing an in-person autograph blog. The good includes meeting some great collectors across the country, sharing fun experiences, and helping people by responding to comments and emails. The bad includes sometimes sharing too much information, making life harder for you and your friends, and, of course, the time it takes to write each post. Some posts take me five minutes, but others can take hours. In an age where social media rules, it seems pointless to download photos onto my laptop, log in to google, write up an entire post, and edit it, when I can simply click the Instagram or Facebook apps on my phone and have the same autographs posted in under a minute. With that said, I simply do not have the time to consistently write up blog posts anymore. It's the reason why my last post came in March, and believe me, I feel guilty about it. In all likelihood, this will be my final large blog post. I may log on, here and there, to post an autograph or two, but gone are the days when I was able to do game-by-game recaps, or individual signing recaps. However, there are still ways to follow my collection. You can follow my autograph account on Instagram ( @mcsautos ) where I actively post new autographs that I get. This is a private account, so if you request to follow, please leave a comment below so I know who to accept. I know that some bloggers have made the transition to social media, but if you have not, I encourage you to check out Instagram. There are thousands of autograph and card collecting accounts. It's an easy way to post new items and keep in touch with other collectors. I doubt anyone will be too devastated by this news, but I do hope that most of my 216,032 readers have enjoyed some of my posts. Thank you to everyone who has consistently read and/or commented over the years, and thank you to those who survived this entire post. It's been fun.
P.S. I've been having a hard time trying to get the font to work properly on this post. I think it's a pretty clear sign that it's time to quit.