Tag Archives: fanfest

Me & My Best Friend, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson!!!

Me & My Best Friend, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson!!!

If you have not read my recap of the 2011 Florida Marlins FanFest, you can click here to read about my family’s wonderful experience.

And if that whole afternoon was not enough, I was able to get one more special moment captured that will become an instant classic at ’30-YOC’.

I will do everything I can to make this into a 8×10 and send it over to Andre for an autograph.

But until then, I will just sit back and relax knowing that I have just had another very memorable experience with my baseball hero!!!

Enjoy.

Florida Marlins FanFest 2011 Was FANTASTIC!!!

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!!

Saturday Will Be A Baseball Filled Happening – YES!!!

Saturday Will Be A Baseball Filled Happening – YES!!!

It has been WAY too long since I was able to dedicate some weekend time to the sport that I love.

But that call changes tomorrow when I attend the 2011 Florida Marlins FanFest.  And from there, I am heading to my first baseball card show of the year!!

FanFest is always a fun time, and I am looking forward to getting back into a baseball frame of mind as I get the opportunity to mingle with other Marlins’ fans as well as hopefully some players.  I will try my best to grab a few autographs while I am there as well as maybe pick up a few treats for my sons.  And of course, I am really hoping that I can meet up with a certain member of the Hall of Fame that happens to work for the Marlins(Andre, are you listening?).

I am also excited about heading to a baseball card show as the last one I went to was in November of 2010.  With the new 2011 Topps cards out, I am hoping that I can find a few new gems for my collection.  And I also am getting very close to finishing off a few player collections – maybe something I find at the show will inspire my next round of PC’s.

So, here is what you can look forward to over the next few days – pictures from the Marlins’ FanFest from the weekend and a full baseball card show review on Monday.

Have a great weekend – I know that I will!!!

30 Days Later – Update on Florida Marlins TTM requests.

You may recall that 1 month ago I wanted to test one of the more ‘fan-friendly’ teams via through the mail autograph requests.  So I sent 17 packages to my favorite team, the Florida Marlins, in hopes of obtaining some great autographs as well as getting a confirmation that my Marlins are indeed aware of their fans.

I broke this out into 2 parts : Part #1 is the 3 8×10 photos I sent out.  Part #2 is the 14 baseball card requests I sent to the team.

Part #1

I sent three 8×10 photos to players I was able to get pictures of myself with during the Marlins caravan and FanFest events from mid-February.  I sent letters and the photos to Andre Dawson, Jeff Conine, and Dan Uggla.  So far, 2 of the 3 have been returned to me and 1 is still out there somewhere…  The Dawson was returned to me in 23 days and featured a beautiful autograph that only Andre Dawson could provide.  You can see the Dawson picture here.  The Uggla picture was sent back to me in just 7 days and came out great.  I even had the opportunity to thank Mr. Uggla in person for the great gesture.  You can see the Uggla picture here.  What remains out in the mail is my picture of me, my son, and Jeff Conine.  I sent this to Dolphin Stadium because I really did not know if it was safe going to Spring Training even though Mr. Marlin has been in camp quite a bit.  I am still extremely hopeful that Conine signs this for me, it just may take a few more weeks since he probably has not been at Dolphin Stadium that much yet this year.  That will all change in roughly 21 days.

Part #2

14 envelopes became 13 very quickly when I realize that my letter to Matt Treanor went to the wrong team(Thanks Mario & Zach for pointing this out to me).  Lucky for me, the letter was returned to me via the USPS and I shot it over to the Tigers the very next day.  So of the 14 letters I have out to current and former Marlins players, 3 have been sent back to me so far.  You can see the Cody Ross, Anibal Sanchez, and Mike Rabelo scans by clicking on each player’s name.  3/14 is not great, but it is not terrible either.  I have seen on a few websites that John Baker and Gaby Sanchez have been signing so I am hopeful that these make it back to me soon.  The guys I am still waiting on are:  Fredi Gonzalez, Rick VandenHurk(should be back with the team in the next day or so), Alfredo Almezaga,(should have tons of time to sign now that he’s out 4-6 weeks), Ricky Nolasco, Jorge Cantu, Josh Johnson, John Baker, Dallas McPherson, Andrew Miller(very surprised that it’s taken him so long), and Gaby Sanchez.  I am hopeful that more make it back to me as Spring Training wraps up.  If not, I hope that the team transfers all of their mail to Dolphin Stadium.  I know that the ST schedule puts the guys on the road quite a bit, so maybe I have a better shot of getting these back once things settle down and they’re all back home for a few weeks at a time. 

Go Fish!!!!

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Sending An Autograph Request To Jeff Conine

When I moved back to Florida in 1994, I quickly jumped on board with the Florida Marlins.  You see, I moved from Florida to Chicago in 1989, but when I left Florida did not have a professional baseball team(or basketball or hockey either).

Having a ‘home’ team this time around in Florida has been great and I have been hooked on ‘The Fish’ ever since.  I’ve been able to enjoy some incedible baseball that has been capped off by 2 World Series Championships!!

Without a doubt, the most popular player and biggest star with the fans is Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine.  I was thrilled to get the chance to meet Jeff Conine at the 2009 Marlins Fan Fest.  How sweet is it that we sat together in the dugout that he called home for 8 seasons?  I cannot begin to explain the feeling of sharing the bench with a player that has been in that same spot for hundreds of baseball games – it was electric!!!

I am going to send this picture to Mr. Conine with a request that he signs it for me and my son.  He was extremely friendly to us at the Fan Fest and I hope our luck continues with this.

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2009 Florida Marlins FanFest – The Review

I am going to break this review into a few sections so I can comment on them without having the appearance of a long-winded, rambling post…

The Fan Fest

This is the second FanFest that I have attended.  In comparison to last year, we had much greater access to the players this time around and the ‘on the field’ experience was an added bonus.  Last year the entire event was held outside of the stadium and you were only able to get inside if you signed up for the tour, which we luckily did.  This year the only way to get inside of the stadium was with a VIP pass that were only given to season ticket holders and corporate sponsors.  So, we did not get to tour the locker room, clubhouse, executive offices, like we did last year but being on the field was pretty neat.

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Meeting a Blogging Legend

Mario, of Wax Heaven fame, and I have been trying to get together for a few months now.  We live roughly 30 minutes apart but due to varying schedules just never got a concrete time to hang out and talk baseball and blogs.  Since we both knew we would be at the event we made plans to meet and I was quickly greeted by Mario when we arrived.  His spot on line was about 250 people ahead of me, but it was great to finally meet in person and exchange pleasantries.  We also held a little gift exchange too – Mario had a ton of Marlins cards for me to use for possible autographs as well as a stack of wonderful Andre Dawson cards.  I gave Mario a team postcard that I was able to pick up during a Marlins’  caravan tour stop earlier in the week.  It was signed by Alfredo Amezaga, Ryan Tucker, Cameron Maybin, John Baker, Gaby Sanchez, and Jack McKeon.

My wife and I ran into Mario and Tatianna 5-6 times during the 2 hours we were at the festival.  The scene was quite chaotic, but we were able to quickly exchange stories and point to different locations inside the stadium that different events were taking place.  Each time we saw one another they would show off the bat they were carrying around and I would show them any additions to my Marlins team helmet.

*A funny story…  As my wife and I were a heading to the line outside the stadium prior to entry, Mario yells my name.  We exchange greetings and handshakes and then he and my wife give each other odd looks.  After a few seconds of dialogue, they realize that they went to middle school together.  Pretty neat, huh???

It’s a small world after all….

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Autograph Hunting

I firmly believe that these kinds of events are for kids and loyal fans.  Unfortunately with that comes the greedy collector and rude bunch that will do anything to capture the signature of a third-string utility outfielder.  But the Marlins actually did a pretty good job of organizing their autograph pavilion.  I don’t care for the long lines so I didn’t take part, but if your goal was to get signatures of your favorite players, the Marlins made that very possible for you.

For me, with my wife and 2 young sons with me, the option was just not that attractive…

Right Place, Right Time

Last year, my wife and I found ourselves standing next to the local sports radio station’s booth as they were broadcasting live.  Luis Gonzalez stood right next to us as he waited to go on air.  I was completely unprepared for this, so we just made small talk, shook hands, and I welcomed him to South Florida. 

This year was different.  As soon as we saw the length of the lines for the autograph tents, I suggested we headed to the radio booth to scope it out. 

Boy, was that the right decision:.  I was able to get signatures of Jeff Conine, Dan Uggla, Josh Johnson, Rick VandenKirk, and Wes Helms in a relatively short amount of time just by hanging out by the booth.  I was able to do this with relative ease and now my Marlins team helmet stands at 16 total signatures.

The pics:

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Player Availability

If you wanted to meet a player on the Marlins your odds were extremely good.  All you had to do was look around as they were all over the field and very warm to the crowd.

I was able to get 2 photo opportunities with 2 very popular Marlins players:

Dan Uggla

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Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine

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Summary

All in all, the event was a blast.  Although I only got to be there for 2 hours, I was able to enjoy all of the on-the-field activities that I desired.  Could I have stayed longer?  Yes.  Did I have enough?  Yes.

Spring Training is right around the corner and I cannot wait!!!

We’re Going To The Florida Marlins Fan Fest This Weekend!!!

I’m pretty excited that the baseball season is around the corner.  And what better way to get ready than to attend your favorite team’s Fan Fest, right??

We went to the Fan Fest last year for the first time.  All-in-all it was a lot of fun.  My son was only 1 1/2 at the time so we kind of just wheeled him around the stadium for a few hours.  We did get to go on the ‘backstage’ tour which included trips to the Executive offices, dugout, locker rooms, batting cages, and more.  I am hoping we get there early enough again this season to do the same.  Now with 2 young kids, a 2 1/2 year old and 6-month old, we will still be restricted as to what we can do and see but that shouldn’t stop us from having quite a bit of fun again either.

If all goes according to plan, we get to go on the tour, have a few pictures taken of us with some players, get a few autographs, and maybe pick up a few freebies along the way!!!

I’m also considering printing up flyers to hype up ’30-Year Old Cardboard’ as there is no other place to find fans of the ‘home team’ than at the ballpark!!

Expect a full report on Monday with pictures galore!!! 

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Florida Marlins Caravan Tour – Day 2

Now this was more like it should be.  If you read my recap of the Caravan tour yesterday you would recall that I was the only fan there.  Although it was not advertised by the Marlins as a public event I was still quite surprised to be the only fan that showed up.

Today’s event was in Pembroke Pines and had an attendance of 50-60 total people.  Again, I got there early as I tend to over-prepare for these types of things, but 1 day I will come to realize that the Marlins just don’t get the community support in the same way that other MLB teams do.

Oh well, on to the good stuff.

In attendance at this event were 5 players, and 1 former manager.  I got each of them to sign my Marlins team helmet which now strongly displays 11 autographs.

The Guys – Alfredo Amezaga, Ryan Tucker, Cameron Maybin, Gaby Sanchez, John Baker, and former manager Jack McKeon.  I asked Coach McKeon to add ‘2003 WS’ on the helmet and he obliged as he smiled through his rather large cigar!

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Of the guys that were there, I only had 2 cards to get signed – Maybin & Amezaga:

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And lastly I got Maybin to sign on the ‘Sweet Spot’ of this Rawlings Game Ball.  I typically would not do this for a first-year player but this guy is special and if he reaches his full potential he will be one of the best lead-0ff hitters in the game in 2-3 years.

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This was a fun trip for me.  I got to have a few conversations with some fellow Marlins fans.  The players all appeared to be happy to be there and were very gracious when it came to taking time to say hello and sign whatever was passed their way.

One more stop this week – Saturday I will be going to the Marlins Fan Fest at Dolphin Stadium!!  I can’t wait!

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