‘On The Road With psugator02′ – TRIPLE HEADER – December 4, 2010
Hospice of Palm Beach County Foundation’s Celebrity Pro-Am golf tournament
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Saturday, Dec. 4
Tried to find a few things I could graph while on my way to Orlando, where I want to be by Sunday. Didn’t realize the tournament was inside a gated community so I had to come up with a quick lie so I could get in. “I’m hear to drop off some photos for one of the golfers,” I told the guard. He wrote down my DL number, then called the course. A few seconds later the gate was opened and I was on my way. I knew that if I hung around the clubhouse I would probably get kicked out (actually saw two security guards a few seconds after getting out of my car). So I quickly found No. 1 and began walking the course. I passed foursome after foursome and the best celebrities I saw were PGA Tour golfer Mark Calcavecchia, who won a British Open; Senior Tour golfer Jay Sigel; and golf announcer Bob Murphy (who, by the way, is a University of Florida grad). I was starting to realize very quickly that the celebs advertised on the tournament’s website might be no-shows. That’s when former Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher Dennis Martinez started talking to me. I was standing under a tree somewhere on the back 9 (think it was No. 8). I saw Martinez last year and talked to him about St. Louis Cardinals’ starting pitcher David Kopp, who graduated from the high school where I teach. I asked him again about Kopp, with him telling me that Kopp will stay a starter — I had heard rumors that he’d be moved to relief — and that the Cardinals think very highly of him.
I let him tee off, waited for the guys he was playing with to proceed to their balls in the hopes that they wouldn’t see me, then asked if he would sign my three cards. He happily did so, asking me how I got on the course (“My grandma lives a few blocks from here”), where I lived, etc. He still has a bit of an accent but when it comes to being engaging, Martinez might be one of the nicest baseball players I’ve ever met. Before I left I told him that a lot of Cardinals’ pitchers owe him for their success (his minor-league staffs have had the lowest ERAs in their respective leagues two years running and I have no doubt that he’ll be a MLB pitching coach very soon). I walked back to the clubhouse after getting Martinez only to find out that Larry Walker and Andres Galarraga, in fact, had not attended. One, I was told, canceled, while the other was out of town.
Dennis Martinez: 3/3
Dara Torres appearance
West Palm Beach, Fla.
From there it was a quick drive east to City Place, where four-time Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres was making an appearance on behalf of the Palm Beaches Marathon Festival. A big thank-you to a local grapher for the tip. I had some printing problems that I was finally able to overcome and made it to the event with 30 minutes to spare. Torres was on the top floor of what looked from the outside to be some kind of amphitheater. The room was filled with tables of people selling all sorts of products geared toward marathon runners. Torres was in the corner of the room all by her lonesome. She asked if I wanted the first one personalized, which was fine. She did the other with no personalization. I asked her if there was anything about Gainesville she missed (she’s a University of Florida grad). She was quiet. I told her how much I missed Grandy’s, a restaurant that might have the best Southern food in the South. That got her excited, as she proceeded to tell me how much she missed the place, too.
Torres looks gorgeous in some pictures. I’m guessing that’s after she’s been made up. She didn’t look so hot today, really looking her age of 43. I don’t have a lot of interest in swimming graphs but I sort of regret not taking the camera because it would have been real nice to get a picwith. And if I collected Olympic medalists then I probably would’ve had her inscribe something on the photos. But the graph was enough for me.
Dara Torres: 2/2 (8x10s)
Van Duzer Foundation’s “Night of Heroes”
PGA Learning Center
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Somehow found out about this event through a google search. I simply type in names of local celebs and dates, then use keywords “appearances” or “autographs.” Somehow Shula popped up and I’m glad it did as I would’ve been the only grapher in attendance had I not tipped off two friends who gave me some very good information in return. Shula exited an SUV at 6:15 p.m., 15 minutes after he was supposed to arrive. He was wedged in the middle of three or four other handlers. I was still able to get close to him and had my mini helmet in his face. “Coach, would you mind signing my mini helmet?” Said Shula, “Sure. Hand it to me.” That’s when some lackey walking with Shula held out his hand and said, “He can’t sign. Let him sit down first.” Of course, he finally did sit down but in an area that I couldn’t access. He did a meet-and-greet with people who had paid $250 a ticket. I wasn’t one of them so I was left on the outside looking in. A buddy got very ingenious and handed his photos to a woman who had a ticket. She took them into the meet-and-greet and got 2 of the 4 items signed. I was able to do the same but when the person holding my item approached the entrance he was told that mini helmets, considered memorabilia, were not allowed. Photos are memorabilia, too, but the person who got those done was easily able to sneak them into the venue. Man was I kicking myself for not having brought photos LOL.
I waited around for Shula to exit the event and make his way to the dinner. I still had my hopes up considering Shula told me as he was entering the venue that he would do my item. This time, all the excuses starting coming forth from event organizers. “He’s not feeling well right now so he won’t be signing,” was uttered. Another person who thought he was in charge said, “He’s not going to be signing for free. He’s only signing for those people who paid for the $250 ticket.” Shula was at a signing in Palm Beach County earlier in the afternoon and was charging $75-per and up. I guess that event’s promoter followed Shula to his next event, instructing organizers to make sure he only signed for those who had paid the $250. I shouted to Shula as he walked by, but he didn’t acknowledge me this time. I tried to get his attention again as he drove by on the golf cart, but again I wasn’t acknowledged. I know that if Shula was allowed to make the decision on his own, he most definitely would’ve signed. He’s actually become a better signer as he’s aged. It’s the people around him who are instructing him not to sign.
Don Shula: 0/1, 0/1, 0/1…not going to let this affect my opinion of Shula, though, because when I graphed him two weeks ago he was as cool as could be