Florida Marlins FanFest 2011 Was FANTASTIC!!!
No matter what your interests are, FanFest delivers. If you want to purchase tickets for the upcoming season, FanFest is your place. If you want to get in long lines in hopes of obtaining autographs, FanFest is your place. And if you want unlimited access to the ballpark that your team calls ‘home’, FanFest is your place.
For me, my goal was simple. I brought a few cards of some current and former Marlins players in hopes of snagging some autographs, by my goal was bigger than that. My goal was to find Andre Dawson, and to say hello to him again.
FanFest is a very family-friendly event. For for the second time in three years, the four of us headed to the ballpark and got there right as the entrance was opened to the public.
After quickly scanning the interior of the stadium, I saw a photo booth set up in the center of the field – with no line and two Marlins players inside. We quickly made our way to the booth and here is the result:
Pictured with me and my two sons is starting pitcher Sean West and a newcomer to the Marlins’ bullpen, Ryan Webb. Thanks Guys!!
From there, we scoped out the autograph lines, but by then they were way too long for anyone with two young kids to wait on. So, while I didn’t wait in line for any autographs, I did see Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Hanley Ramirez signing for the people who got in line.
Once my older son saw the rides, it was over. He made a bee-line for the inflatable slides, ripped his shoes off, and jumped in.
As he was playing, I was scanning the rest of the scene to see what was going on. I found Tony Perez doing a radio interview. He refused to sign afterwards for the 5-6 of us that waited patiently for him.
I then saw that a small line had gathered by the dugout, and after peering inside, my day was immediately brightened. Take a look at who was sitting the dugout:
Yep, my favorite player of all-time, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. And he had some company too – 2-time World Series champion, Jeff Conine!!
Obviously, I huddled the family together and jumped in line for a chance to meet the two of them. The set-up was for pictures only, but I was absolutely fine with that. All four of us patiently waited, and then we entered the dugout for our turn to hang out and take some pictures with the guys.
And if you know me, I made the best of this opportunity. I told Andre that I am the crazy guy that sends all of the cards and balls to his foundation. He asked my name and said that he recognized it( 🙂 ). I quickly told him that I really enjoyed his Hall of Fame speech, and that I watched him so proudly on that very special day.
And while I was chatting with ‘The Hawk’, my older son was entertaining Jeff Conine.
Then it was time to snap a few pictures with the guys:
I thanked them both for the time, and shook hands with each of them. They also offered up high-fives for my sons and we were quickly out of the dugout, extremely happy and satisfied with the few minutes we had!!!
After that, the day was complete in my eyes. We walked around a bit more, took more pictures, jumped in a few more bounce houses, and picked up a few freebies like schedules, magnets, pens, and necklaces.
As we were waiting on line to spin a wheel in hopes of winning a Marlins key chain, I asked the girl running the booth what the ‘VIP’ passes that we had been seeing all afternoon got the people who had them. With a smile, she said that she did not know but that she had two extras and asked if we wanted them. Of course we did – so we took them and went to see what the VIP experience was all about.
As we approached a stadium usher and flashed our newly obtained VIP passes, he greeted us with a smile and allowed us to pass. We ended up in the Marlins’ locker room….
How sweet is this?? I snapped a few pics inside of the locker room.
And then was halted in my tracks when I saw this:
Yep, there he is again, “The Hawk”!!!!
After touring the locker room, we saw the batting cages that the teams use, and we also passed by the very intense looking weight room and training rooms.
After that we turned the corner and I walked right into someone, someone special…. Can you guess who it was???
Here’s a hint:
Yessir, Andre Dawson again!!! He looked at me, walked right over to me and my family and stopped again. We spoke for a minute or two about the upcoming baseball season while I fumbled through my things to pull out a Blue Sharpie and the 1981 Topps card that you see above. Always a very kind and warm guy, we shook hands again and I wished him well.
By now, we had been there for exactly two hours and it was time to wrap it up. I ran into Alfredo on the way out and gave him and his buddy our VIP passes so that they too could enjoy what was not open to the public.
A great day that featured warm weather, family fun, and memories that will last a lifetime.
And while you may think that the pictures of me, my family, and Andre Dawson are my favorites, you are mistaken.
My favorite memory from the 2011 Florida Marlins FanFest is this one:
It does not get much better than this.
Thanks for reading!!