Daily Archives: February 25, 2009

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #8 – The Recap

All in all, I had a great time at my first Spring Training practice event.  I would have enjoyed the access that many fans had on prior days, but I cannot complain as I know I am taking home a sack full of memories from this day.

When so much of baseball’s talk is focused on the guys that are messing up the game, it is a wonderful feeling to know that there are just as many, if not more, guys out there that are willing to do the little things to bring the fans back to baseball.

If I had to re-live this experience again the only thing I would change would be the day of the week that I attended and next time I would put on a little sunscreen before leaving the house.

Now I am just waiting for one more thing – Please, somebody please yell – “PLAY BALL”

umpires

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #7 – More Marlins Autographs…

My luck with getting close to the players didn’t exist.  These guys went out of their way to say hello and sign for the few of us that patiently waited.

I missed adding a few of them to my helmet as the fence prohibited me from passing it to them, but I got some great autographed cards for my Marlins collection.

The guys:  Coach Freddie Gonzalez, Burke Badenhop, Alfredo Amezaga, Chris Volstad, Ricky Nolasco(2), and Jorge Cantu.

 

7-marlins-autos

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #6 – Dan Uggla Is The Best!!!

The lone member of the media at practice was the MLB Network.  None of their big-name, on-air talent was there but I did chat it up with a few of their workers.  The lady that appeared to be in charge told me that she was conducting 2 interviews – the first was going to be Dan Uggla.

Around 1:00, Uggla made his way out of the clubhouse and headed for the makeshift interview area that they had set up.  But first he made a little detour and signed for about 6 of us that stood waiting for him.

I was the last one to get him, and I put myself into a position to talk to him for a minute.

Our Dialogue:

30-Year Old Cardboard – Hey Dan, on a personal note, I sent you a picture of me and my son that we got taken with you at the FanFest a few weeks ago.  I wanted to let you know that I got the picture last night at home and it looks great.  I cannot ‘Thank You’ enough for doing that for us.  It really means a lot to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to send it back to me so quickly.

Dan Uggla – Oh yeah, I remember that.  I’ m glad it turned out well.

30-YOC – Thanks again Dan.  As a dad I cannot tell you how special that piece is to me.  Best of luck this season!

DU – No problem.  See you at the ballpark. 

uggla-2-cards

Right after signing these 2 beauties for me, he was off to his interview for the MLB network. 

100_5560

And then he was gone…

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #5 – Meeting Andre Dawson Again!!

I got to the field at 7:40 in the morning.  After finding a good parking spot, I headed for the main gate which passes by the main entrance and player parking lot.  There sitting in the first spot was a gorgeous, White Range Rover with incredible rims and chrome accents.  As soon as I saw the license plate, I knew that Andre Dawson was on the premises!!!

I saw Andre go back and forth through the clubhouse doors to the main field a few times.  And when I got into the stadium for those brief minutes, I quickly spotted him standing along the third base line chatting with a few of the guys.

Around 11:00, I was talking to my new buddy on the security staff when Andre and another coach left the field and headed for the clubhouse.  I called out his name and he waved.  I took that as him saying hello to me and was cool with that.  I have to say that it was awesome to see him in a uniform again.  Flashbacks to his days with the Expos and Cubs raced through my head.

As it got closer to Noon, the players all started heading into the clubhouse, probably for lunch.  At this time, almost all of the other fans had bailed on the Marlins and went to try to see Albert Pujols and the Cardinals…

Again, I was chatting with the security guard when out walks Andre Dawson by himself in his street clothes.  I waited for him and then quickly introduced myself to him and asked if he remembered me from the Homestead stop on the Marlins caravan tour from a few weeks ago.  We chatted a bit as he walked to his car and even told the security guard that it was ok that I followed him into the ‘Players Only’ parking lot.

I asked for his autograph, and he signed 2 beautiful cards for me.  I also told him that I mailed a special package to his foundation of the picture of he and I and asked if he would sign it for me.  He stated ‘No Problem’.

And then I hit him with the question – ‘Would he consider doing an interview for my blog?’  We spoke about my blog a few weeks ago when we met for the first time.  And I reminded him of it again.  I told him that in the package I sent was a piece of paper that would introduce him to ’30-Year Old Cardboard’ and that I would love to sit down with him sometime to talk baseball.  He said he would review it and respond back to me.  He’s got my cell phone number and email address so hopefully he reaches out to me.  I have my fingers crossed on this, and the list of great questions I have for Andre are overflowing my brain right now.  I really hope this works out!!! 

dawson-2-cards

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #4 – Tony Perez

Of all of the guys I saw come and go throughout the day, there were 2 that I didn’t see at all – Jeff Conine & Tony Perez.  Both of these men work as ‘special assistants’ for the team, but I had heard that they were at camp almost every day.

Finally I saw Tony arrive, but it was well into the afternoon.  He did not park in the player’s lot.  He went straight into the loading area avoiding everyone and everything.  The only other player that I saw park in that area was Hanley Ramirez(the superstar). 

Around 2pm, we could see Hanley in his street clothes talking to a few of the guys as he was preparing to leave.  All of a sudden, the entire group of 15 or so people that were there to meet the players took off for the gate he had to exit from.

Except me.  I stood back and watched knowing that it would be close to impossible to get close to Hanley.  Lucky for me, I turned around at the right moment and acted quickly as this Hall of Famer tried to escape without me noticing.  Lucky for me it was just him and I…  I have heard that he can be kind of rude but he was pretty gracious to me…

100_5564

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #3 – Stadium Access Granted

Once I realized that I wasn’t going to get to watch the players on the roster practice, I decided to stroll around the campus a bit and check out the area.  At this time, the rookies and camp invitees had started their training regimen, and the guys on the roster were inside getting all of their photos done.

I actually struck up a pretty good conversation with a security guard as I told him I had never been there prior.  Within minutes he was informing me that no other gates were guarded since the crowed was so small.  He was guarding the gate where delivery and maintenance trucks accessed the main field, but he was the only one covering an entrance.  He told me that if I played my cards right and went by myself, I may be able to get inside and sneak a few pictures.

So that’s exactly what I did…  until I was asked to leave.  But  I still got some good shots… 

100_5556

Here’s a picture of the Marlins logo at the main gate entrance.

100_5558

 The outfielders and infielders were doing drills when I entered.  All of the outfielders were along the warning track,  The coach would yell “1 out, man on first” and then he would throw the ball into the outfield as the guys practiced hitting the cut-off man.  It was pretty cool to see this kind of practice; I have never seen a drill like this before.

100_5557

The last drill I was able to photograph was a pitcher’s drill where they would work on covering as the back up to home plate as the cut-off men were firing home to throw out potential runners.

All in all, I was probably in the stadium for 7-8 minues.  But in that time, it was a very nice reminder that this is still a kid’s game and that everyone does what the coach says!

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #2 – Helmet Update

Since my ability to get to the players was halted due to a very large fence, I had to rely on the Marlins players to make there way over to sign for me and the rest of the fans(I don’t think all of them were ‘real’ fans).  Several guys did this, but I was only able to add 3 more to the Marlins team helmet I am working on.

The guys that I added are: Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, and Burke Badenhop.  All pitchers!!

So now the helmet stands at a very respectable 19 signatures. 

100_5563

My Florida Marlins Spring Training Report – Part #1 – The Sights & Sounds Of Spring

I attended the Florida Marlins practice yesterday as they wrap up their practice sessions and get ready for games against other clubs in the next few days.

Spring is definitely here!!!  The freshly cut lawn.  Perfectly painted lines on the field.  The grounds-crew keeping the infield clay wet.  Baseball is back – FINALLY!!!  The only thing missing was the smell of popcorn in the air…

This was my first ever trip to Jupiter, Florida where both the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals share their Spring Training headquarters.  The facility is immaculate, and is much larger than I had imagined.  There is one main field that both the Marlins and Cards call ‘home’ for their games.  In addition to that, each team has 6 practice fields. 

RIGHT PLACE, WRONG TIME

I knew it wouldn’t be too busy on a Tuesday, but I didn’t realize that the Marlins wouldn’t be too busy either.  From what I have read and have been told over the last few weeks is that the players are all very accessible as they move from field to field to hit the different stations around the complex to work on running drills, fielding drills, and hitting in the cages.  But because today was picture day for the team, all of the ‘regular’ roster guys stayed away from the practice fields.  They worked solely in the batting cages and on the main field which were both closed to the public.  Any other day and it would have been perfect.  There were just 6 of us in the morning and the crowd max’ed out at about 15 by the middle of the afternoon.

I still had a great time watching the guys get from one place to the next and scored some pretty great autographs and pictures in the process.

This is post #1 of this series.  Get ready to relive my Spring Training experience with me… 

100_5546

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #35

‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #35

Eric Davis – 1985 Topps

Eric Davis had the tools every scout dreams of finding in a recruit.  Davis’ amazing athletic ability transferred to the baseball diamond and made him an incredible offensive and defensive threat.

In his 17-season career in the major leagues, Davis never did reach his full potential.  Often labeled as ‘Willie Mays – Reincarnated’, Davis’ injuries kept him from playing more than 135 games in any season.  And as the years passed by, one had to wonder as to how good ‘Eric The Red’ could be if he could remain injury free.

Over the course of his career, Davis amassed 282 home runs and collected 349 stolen bases.  A player that was able to hit for power and be a threat on the base paths was rare in the 1980’s and Davis became in instant hit with the Cincinnati Reds’ team and it’s fans.  From 1986-1990, Davis finished in the Top 13 for the MVP award.  His all-around play was being noticed by the baseball world and Davis became one of baseball’s most popular players of that era. 

Defensively, Eric Davis was a dominant outfielder that was skilled enough to play all 3 positions.  His incredible speed and arm strength made him stand out and he won 3 Gold Glove awards honoring him as one of baseball’s best defensive outfielders.

Eric Davis made it to one World Series match-up in 1990 with the Reds.  The Reds shocked the world as they swept the mighty Oakland A’s and won the World Series title.  In that series, Davis batted .286 while collecting 5 RBI. 

Eric Davis was diagnosed with Colon cancer in 1997, but was still able to return to the team that season and make an impact.  His best statistcal season came the year after he defeated cancer in 1998 where he batted .327, while smashing 28 home runs and driving in 89 runs as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

davis-1985