Monthly Archives: June 2013

My Andre Dawson VIP Experience – A MUST READ & SEE!!!

My Andre Dawson VIP Experience – A MUST READ & SEE!!!

Well, my evening at the Miami Marlins game with Andre Dawson is done and over.  And it was fantastic!

I will document the whole night from start to finish, and I will throw in a bunch of pictures as well.



My wife and I arrived at the ballpark at 445 and immediately met Andre’s agent who would be our host for the night.  He got us our batting practice access badges and we headed to the field very quickly.

We were escorted to a roped off section behind home plate and the Marlins were taking BP when we got there.

dsc_0009 cropped

I’m sure that you’ve heard of the fish tanks that are installed as part of the backstop at the park.  Well, they are very nice and the fish are all pretty lively.

Here is a picture:


Dawson was with the other coaches around the cage when we arrived.  It was cool to see him in his Marlins uniform chatting with the guys.  He was actively watching the BP session and was talking with both Tony Perez and Manager Mike Redmond throughout the session.


He came over to say hello to his agent and we were introduced once again.  He thanked us both for coming out to the game and said that after BP he had a few things to take care of and would meet up with us when the game started.

As players began exiting the field, a few players stopped by to greet us and say hello.

Among them, were Juan Pierre:


And phenom pitcher Jose Fernandez:


Pretty quickly after that, the San Diego Padres took to the field for their BP and fielding sessions.  We enjoyed watching them get ready for the game and stayed on the field for their entire practice session as well.

30 minutes prior to the start of the game, we left the field and got tickets in the Marlins family area where Andre would meet us after he was done with his Marlins-related tasks.

The Andre Dawson foundation awarded a recent high school graduate with a $5,000 college scholarship so he could continue his education.  Andre was on the field with the recipient and he got to throw out the first pitch of the game.  I spoke with Andre’s agent quite a bit about the foundation and how much Andre likes to give back to the local community.  For both of them, it is a volunteer effort, and both my wife and I were very impressed with how much they enjoy keeping their charitable efforts local to the Miami-area.  Based on what I heard, I am thrilled to know that the donations that I have sent over the years are being reinvested the way that they are – it makes me feel great about continuing to send stuff in.

Andre met us at the end of the first inning and took us to our private VIP suite for the night.

The suites are located in the ‘Legends Level’ and there is some pretty fantastic art hanging on the walls in the long hallway:





Our suite was adjacent to the Marlins owner’s suite.  We literally shared a meal and a bathroom with the owner and president of the club.  Very surreal…

Here is a picture of the field from our seats:


Andre, his agent, and I jumped right into conversation.  And it lasted for quite a while.

To break the ice, I showed him the article from Beckett that was written about my ‘Ultimate Dawson’ collection:


It was then that I think he recognized my full name, and he immediately started smiling.  He told his agent that I send in so much stuff to the foundation and that I must have a pretty good collection of stuff just based on the items he knows that he has signed for me over the years.  It was pretty neat to know that he recalled who I was.  He actually called me, ‘The Brian Applebaum’ for a good 1/2 hour.  My wife got a good kick out of that…

This gave me the opportunity to ask him about his personal collection.  He is not a huge collector, but did put a bunch of stuff together for his son.  He also told me that he has a lot of milestone pieces in his collection like 1st hit, 1000th RBI, 250 HR, 400 HR, etc.

From there we really talked about everything – from the ballparks he has played in to the ballparks that I have been to as a baseball fan over my lifetime.  He really enjoyed playing at Wrigley and Fenway.  He was also a big fan of Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego and Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.

We talked a lot about the current Marlins team and he was very excited about the future of the club.  The team is very young, but he likes the core nucleus of young talent that they have.  He also really likes what he sees with the minor league clubs and thinks that in time they will be a competitive squad again.  He also said that Mike Redmond is a perfect coach for this team.

I then asked him about Bryce Harper.  And he really likes watching him play – really likes him!!  We talked about the mentality that Harper plays with and his approach to the game.  Dawson thinks that the sky is the limit for Harper and already sees him as a young veteran and a solid ambassador for the sport.  He likes the energy and enthusiasm that Harper shows on the field.

We talked for a while about his kids and about their future plans (both  in college now).

We chatted well into the late innings of the game.  Some of the more fun conversations were about the photo shoot he did with Walter Payton and Michael Jordan:

dawson jordan payton

We talked about the attention he earned with the All-State promotion that ran last year:

dawson all-state

We discussed the upcoming crop of possible Hall of Fame inductees and the guys that are on the ballot today and how they may fair in the coming years.  We talked about Tim Raines and Dale Murphy and Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose.  It was so much fun to just sit and have a conversation with him in this kind of environment.


One of the many highlights for me was sharing my personal story with him about how I became a baseball fan and how I was drawn to him as a player.  For me, it was a chance to explain my passion for the game and I think that I genuinely touched him with my love for the sport.  I have been a huge baseball fan for a very big part of my life and letting him know how much his playing career was entwined into my life let him know how much enjoyment he brought to me as a fan.

Oh, I almost forgot – someone else came into the suite to say ‘Hello’…

Hall of Famer, Mr. Tony Perez!!!   We chatted for a few minutes and he was happy to pose for a quick picture with me.


I didn’t want to ask for too much especially since we were treated to such an enjoyable evening with the whole experience, but Andre did sign two items for me.

First, he signed my Montreal Expos Cooperstown Collection jersey:



And then I asked him for a certain inscription on a baseball that I have wanted for some time.  When I asked, a huge smile came across his face and he told me that he has never done that before.  I was a little nervous, but also very excited about the prospect.

And I love how it came out!!!


If you don’t know, this quote – ‘If you love this game, the game will love you back’ it is from Andre’s Hall of Fame induction speech.  He stated it several times during that speech and he must like it quite a bit as it is also the name of his autobiography that came out a year ago.

Consider that ball a 1/1 – LOL

Both pieces came out great and I am thrilled to have gotten them done in person.

We chatted some more and Andre and his agent got ready to leave in the middle of the eighth inning.  They thanked us for coming to the game and our donation to the Andre Dawson Foundation and we thanked them for all that they do and for making this such a special night for the two of us.

We posed for a few more pictures:


And then they were on their way.

My wife and I stayed to see the Marlins secure the 7-1 victory and then we casually left the ballpark taking in the sites of this exclusive area one more time before we left.

All in all, it was a fantastic night.  My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the game and with Andre and his agent.  They both treated us very well, Andre even made sure that my wife got some food before the ‘vultures’ ate it all.  He was as classy as I would have expected and he stayed engaged in conversation with us  for more than two hours.

This was easily a night that I will never forget.  And after all of the time and money I have dedicated to honoring the player and man who has been my baseball idol for almost 30 years, I think that this chance to meet him in an environment like this makes my wife realize how unique this opportunity was.  And after chatting with Andre for an extended period of time, I think that she too has become a fan.


George Brett 1988 Topps

George Brett 1988 Topps

Another sharp one of George Brett here – I just wish that the image was a bit more zoomed out.

Zoomed out so we can see the bat…

Zoomed out so we can identify the ballpark that Brett is playing in…

And zoomed out just enough so we can see the catcher and identify the opponent…


Other than that, this one is NICE!!!

I really like the combination of Blue and Green that were used for the team nameplate, player banner, and image frame.  They all work very well together while also complementing Brett’s Powder-Blue Royals uniform very nicely.

Great card!!!

Did You Know…

Billy Williams led the Chicago Cubs in home runs hit during the decade of the 1970’s with 143 round-trippers.  Amazingly, Williams only played for the Cubs from 1970-74 during that decade.  Of his home runs hit during that decade, Williams’ highest tally was 34 which he reached in 1970 and 1972.

billy williams

1995 HEADLINE: Eddie Murray Joins The ‘3000 Hits Club’

1995 HEADLINE:  Eddie Murray Joins The ‘3000 Hits Club’

On this day in 1995 Eddie Murray collected the 3,000th hit of his amazing baseball career!!!

In his 19th big league season while playing DH for the Cleveland Indians, Murray joined baseball’s elite group of hitters.

In the 6th inning, he smacked a single off of Mike Trombley of the Minnesota Twins and that moment became history!!!

Murray ended his baseball career with 3,225 hits which currently ranks him in 12th place in baseball history.

Congratulations Mr. Murray!!!



Tonight, my wife and I will be attending the Miami Marlins / San Diego Padres baseball game.

But, this is no ordinary game.  Not at all!!!

We are going to be the special guests of a certain former player that happens to be the one I cherished the most as a kid and value the most as an adult – Hall of Famer, Andre Dawson.

We will be his guest for batting practice as well, and I am very excited about the prospect of seeing that part of the event as I have never been to a BP session before.  I cannot wait to see Giancarlo Stanton in the cage as I have heard that he puts on a show!!!

Andre is also supposed to take us to our VIP seats and hang out with us for a few innings in which we can chat it up and get in some quality time.

Dawson VIP Experience

I have been counting down the days to this event in the same manner that a 15-year old counts down the days to the magical 16th birthday.

I will have a full report on the game and event tomorrow so please check back for the story and pictures.

Also, follow me on twitter @30YOC as I may be able to snap a few pictures with my phone from the ballpark as they occur.

Have a great night everyone.  I’m pretty sure that I will as well!!!!

1990 HEADLINE: Two No-Hitters In One Day!!!

1990 HEADLINE: Two No-Hitters In One Day!!!

I can recall this day like it was yesterday…

On this day in 1990, both Dave Stewart of the Oakland Athletics and Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw no-hitters.

I remember checking the box scores the day after these two no-hitters and thought how cool it was to see two on the same page of the paper…

Let’s look a little closer at these two ‘No-No’s’:

Dave Stewart – On the road and in front of a crowd of just under 50,000, the A’s were in Toronto to battle the Blue Jays. Stewart pitched a gem while striking out 12 batters ang giving up just 3 walks. He threw 115 pitches during the game it took just 147 minutes for his A’s team to beat the Blue Jays 5-0.

Fernando Valenzuela – At home and facing the Cardinals, Valenzuela was awesome as he and his Dodgers teammates beat St. Louis 6-0 in 161 minutes. Valenzuela was brilliant – allowing just 3 base runners while striking out 7 batters. For the game, he threw 119 pitches. He also went 1-for-4 at the plate.

2 great pitchers. 1 amazing accomplishment. Baseball history!!!

1969 HEADLINE: Today Is ‘Billy Williams Day’!!!!

1969 HEADLINE: Today Is ‘Billy Williams Day’!!!!

While an event of this caliber is usually reserved for a player in his final year or final home stand as a member of the home team, I guess that the Cubs organization thought so much of Mr. Williams that they chose this day to honor him.

So, 41 years later I will carry on this tradition. Today, I will celebrate the main player that brought me back to the hobby of collecting baseball cards – ‘Sweet Swinging Billy Williams’!!

The below pin was handed out to all in attendance at Wrigley back on June 29, 1969.

Happy Birthday Pedro Guerrero!!!

Happy Birthday Pedro Guerrero!!!

Pedro Guerrero turns 57 years old today.

Guerrero was a solid contributor to both the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals teams that he was a part of for fifteen seasons.

A 5-time All-Star with a knack for delivering power at the plate. In his 15 seasons in the big league, Pedro collected 215 home runs while driving in 898 RBI. In four seasons, he hit at least 27 home runs with his highest tally coming in 1985 with 33.

Guerrero also finished in the Top 4 for the MVP award on four different occasions. He was a steady and consistent hitter from the time he made it to the big leagues in 1978 and throughout the course of his playing days.

Happy Birthday Mr. Guerrero!!!

Happy Birthday Harmon Killebrew!!!

Happy Birthday Harmon Killebrew!!!

Harmon Killebrew was a baseball superstar that played in a city that never quite got the attention of other major cities. And because of that, Killebrew was kind of like a secret.

But what was not a secret was the fact that Killebrew could slug home runs at the same rate, and oftentimes greater, than the sport’s best sluggers.

Amazingly, Killebrew seemed to get better with age as he collected more home runs in the second half of his career than he did in the first half. In 22 years, the Hall of Famer hit 573 round-trippers. He currently sits in 11th place on the all-time list.

Happy Birthday Mr. Killebrew!! Rest In Peace.

Atlanta Braves Retire Chipper Jones’ #10

Atlanta Braves Retire Chipper Jones’ #10


ATLANTA — Tom Glavine admits he was skeptical when he heard the talk about the wiry switch-hitter the Braves had taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 draft. The belief was the kid would make a major and immediate impact.

“It’s kind of that ‘OK, we’ll see when he gets here,’ kind of thing,” he said.

Chipper Jones more than proved he belong, spending an entire 19-year career in Atlanta that reached its pinnacle Friday night. His No. 10 was retired, added along the facade on the third base line with his former teammates, Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, and manager Bobby Cox.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” Jones said. “I play baseball. It’s not like I cure cancer or anything. It’s almost embarrassing to be getting all this attention, all the accolades and whatnot. It’s so humbling.”

Jones sat on a stage behind the Turner Field mound before the night’s game against the Diamondbacks joined by his family, current second baseman Dan Uggla and an assortment of luminaries from the franchise’s past. It was a moment, he said, that makes “the hair on the back of your neck stand up. You get chill bump.” Three oversized baseballs bearing his number were on the stage, while a massive No. 10 was mowed into the centerfield grass behind them.

“He’s a winner. He’s a champion and few players have ever made such a profound impact on one franchise,” team president John Schuerholz said.

Jones took the podium, and in a speech in which he thanked his parents, sons and former teammates, he also mentioned a long-forgotten player that would ultimately paved the way for Chipper to become synonymous with the franchise.

“I want to thank Todd Van Poppel tonight,” Jones said, laughing.

It was Van Poppel whom the Braves wanted to take with the top pick in ’90. Cox, then the general manager, had spent a weekend in Texas trying to convince the high-schooler to sign. But Van Poppel was adamant that he would not become a Brave and if they took him he would instead go to college and play for the Longhorns. Atlanta was instead forced to go with Plan B.

They went with Larry Wayne Jones Jr., a shortstop out of Bolles High School in Jacksonville, and the results, by every measurable standard, are the stuff of Cooperstown.

“He was born to play the game,” said Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson. “He was born to hit. His career showed it.”

Jones was the 1999 National League MVP, an eight-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the only switch hitter in history to own a career average over .300 (.303) and hit at least 300 home runs (468). He has more RBI than any other third basemen in the history of the game.

His OPS of .903 is the highest of any Braves player, 0.0019 points better than Hank Aaron and 0.0881 higher than Dale Murphy.

“You lived it for two years, but then you see John Schuerholz talking about passing Lou Gehrig (on the all-time hits list) and all the great third basemen,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was with Jones in his final seasons. “And you don’t realize all the great stuff that he’s done and who he’s passed. You can sit there and 10-12 years down the road and tell your grandkids, ‘This guy played for me for two years.'”

Jones won’t appear on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot until 2018, an honor Glavine and Maddux are eligible for next year and Smoltz in ’15. It was those players, along with Cox, who Jones could one day be enshrined alongside that he says set the standard for him.

“I watched greatness,” Jones said. “The four guys that are up on that side with me (Cox, Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz), I watched them. I knew what greatness was all about and those guys were truly great and they helped me be great at times and I’m extremely thankful for them.”

These days, Jones spends his time hunting and tweeting — he said of his 300,000-plus followers, “it seemed like 100,000 of them were coming to the game (tonight)” — but he and baseball aren’t through. They’re simply taking a break as he waits to rekindle the flame.

“I think it will come back,” he said. “I’m not in a hurry. When it does come back, I’ll make a phone call and say I’m ready to do this or that and hopefully there’s a spot for me somewhere.”

Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” Jones’ longtime walk-up music, blared as Jones was driven around the filed, sitting on the back of a white Camaro as he waved to the fans. The car passed the just-unveiled No. 10 sign and above it, the section of fans all held aloft white signs emblazoned with his number.

He had been away for months and the Braves have moved on. His old spot in the lineup now belongs to Chris Johnson and he’s no longer the face of the franchise. But this was a moment that seemed to signify the official end of an era as the team honored the last major piece of its run of 14 straight division titles and 1995 World Series title.

“After Chipper you’ve got to look around now and you wonder when the next one’s going to be,” Glavine said. “It might be a while.”

Chipper Jones