Tag Archives: spring training 2011

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Braves/Mets/Cardinals/Marlins – March 26, 2011

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Braves/Mets/Cardinals/Marlins – March 26, 2011

Braves at Mets
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
Saturday, March 26

Arrived at 10:45 and had to wait only 15 minutes for Ralph Kiner. He wasn’t having any part of it this time.

Ralph Kiner: 0/1 “I can’t do that, 0/1 “I can’t do that. I pleaded, “Ralph, it will only take two minutes.” Said Ralph: “Yeah, but if I do it for you then I’ll be signing for 20 minutes.”

I came for him and Carlos Beltran, who was supposed to be appearing in a minor-league game on the backfields. This place is such a fortress that even the gate to the minor-league fields was locked. I didn’t understand why so I begged a few security guards to let me in. That idea failed so I walked into the Mets’ administrative offices. The secretary referred me to a lackey wearing a Mets’ collared shirt who said he sympathized with me, but that no one was allowed into the backfields after 11 a.m. on home games.

I had left my bag in the car, which was probably a bad idea because while I was in the Mets’ office Kiner walked by me. I doubt he would’ve done it anyway because he seemed grumpy. I was just about to head back to Jupiter when I got a text that Sandy Koufax was in camp. Of course, I got a little excited but it wasn’t long before I found out that I had missed him by 30 minutes. The security guard who told me this also said that Koufax stopped signing two weeks ago. I asked him what prompted this. According to the guard, Koufax asked a fan what he planned on doing with the ball he had just signed. “Sell it,” the fan told Koufax. That must have pissed off Koufax, who has since shut it down.

Jupiter, Fla.
1-3:30 p.m.

I chose not to go into the game, instead waiting outside the Cardinals’ parking lot.

Dennis Martinez: 3/3
Bob Gibson: 0/1 despite just two graphers
Mike Aldrete: would’ve stopped but didn’t really need him

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 7

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 7

9:30 a.m.
around Phoenix
Friday, March 18

at Diamondbacks’ backfields

Got lost so didn’t arrive until 9:30 a.m., just as Kirk Gibson had finished signing. I could actually see him signing but just couldn’t get there in time. I thought for sure that I had blown my opportunity because this guy has been very hard for me. He eventually walked past me again and I gave him a sob story about getting lost. His reply? “So.” But he gave in, and I thanked him for feeling sorry for me. This setup is the most grapher-friendly in all of the Cactus League. Can’t wait to get back.

Kirk Gibson: 1/1 (SS, ROMLB) in blue ink. He does not do the inscription
Don Baylor: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie. I was going to get him on a ROMLB, but he refused to do the inscription.
Justin Upton: 1/1 (11×14)….I kissed his butt, but he still wouldn’t give me the good graph. Totally different from all the other times I’ve encountered him. Engaged me, which was a pleasure. Said his father, a college basketball referee, is not working the NCAA Tournament, instead choosing to vacation with his wife in the Dominican.
Stephen Drew: 1/1 (’09 Ginter)…Doesn’t enjoy doing it, but Gibson allots 20 minutes in the day’s schedule for “Autographs” so he has to
Wily Mo Pena: 1/1 (’08 Ginter)….He won’t turn around to sign so you have to recognize him in time.
Kelly Johnson: 3/3 (’08 Ginters) in blue Sharpie….best signer on the team
Alan Trammell: 1/1 (5×7 a friend took from the mid-1980s) in blue Sharpie
Chris Young: has still eluded me. I think he’s the last of the ’08 Ginters that I need from the D’backs
Brett Butler: 3/3 (5×7 Topps cards from the 1980s) in blue Sharpie. Really nice dude

at A’s

Kevin Kouzmanoff: 2/2 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie…You can now read every letter compared to last year’s KK
Todd Steverson: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie
Hideki Matsui: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie, 1/1 (SS, ROMLB) in blue ink pen…First time I got him was when the A’s took the field for pre-game workouts. I was one of only two graphers in the stadium. Second time a few more graphers had gathered. Oddly enough, he made sure the cameras were on him both times he signed
Kurt Suzuki: 3/3 (cards) in blue Sharpie. Great dude
Josh Willingham: 0/1. Shouted a bunch of Marlins’ things at him but he wouldn’t come over
Conor Jackson: 0/1 weird dude
Dallas Braden: 0/1 didn’t stop because he wasn’t recognized right away
Michael Choice: 2/2 (8x10s)

at Angels

Missed Bobby Abreu because I chose not to enter the stadium.

Tori Hunter: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie
Vernon Wells: 2/2 (’08 Ginters) in blue Sharpie
Bobby Abreu: 0/1 wouldn’t stop in the parking lot
Brandon Wood: 0/1 wouldn’t stop in the parking lot
Other: Also saw former manager Kevin Kennedy but didn’t get him on anything. … A great place to get visiting stars because they park in the same lot as the public.

at Indians’ backfields before their night game

Austin Kearns: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie
Other: Missed Sizemore again by less than five minutes

at Goodyear before game

Sandy Alomar: 1/1 (’97 All-Star ticket) in black Staedtler with the inscription, 1/1 help (card) in blue Sharpie. Alomar said he had never seen the Dynasty card I had him sign
Austin Kearns: 1/1 help (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 6

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 6

All over Phoenix
Thursday, March 17
8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Getting pulled over by the female cop after a long day of graphing really could’ve put a damper on things. But alas, she gave me a warning. I’m driving a rental and didn’t realize the brights were on. Started the day driving to the Oakland complex but didn’t realize the workouts were closed to the public. Chose Goodyear and arrived just in time.

at Indians’ complex

Fausto Carmona: 2/2 (’08 Ginters) in blue Sharpie. Still one of the best signers in all of MLB
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1/1 (’10 Ginter)
Vinnie Pestano: 2/2 (cards) in blue Sharpie
Travis Hafner: 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie…He does it but he doesn’t seem to enjoy it
Trevor Crowe: 3/3 (cards) in blue Sharpie. Really nice kid.
Jon Nunnally: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie. Corrected me when I told him that I saw him with a woman last year at the Angels’ complex. “I need to tell you right now that I wasn’t with any women at that stadium last year.” LOL. Wasn’t trying to get you divorced, Jon. I was just making conversation. One of the nicest guys in all of MLB. He trained in Baseball City a year after Conine. Told me about a blind pianist in Hollywood, Fla., that he used to love listening to.
Carlos Santana: 0/1 as he was boarding the bus to the game. I was the only grapher there. “I don’t have time,” Santana told me.

Somehow missed Sizemore, Choo and Sandy Alomar, who I believe all walked around

at Royals’ backfields

Arrived a little early for Rangers’ pre-game BP so I drove over to the Royals’ minor-league fields and wasn’t disappointed.

Michael Olt: 4/4 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. Offered him the fourth photo, but he told me to keep it. He laughed when I told him I just chose him in my fantasy draft. Also told him that he was recently ranked the 156th best prospect in baseball and that Baseball America says he has the best power in the system. He says he follows none of that. Played in the Triple-A scrimmage I witnessed, but starting 2011 at that level seems a bit premature even if he did play in college.
Christian Colon: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. He personalizes photos.
Danny Duffy: 4/4 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. Asked whether he really took time off from baseball to pursue the priesthood. “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet,” Duffy told me.
George Brett: 1/1 (Perez-Steele) in blue Sharpie. You can really tell that he hates signing, but now that he’s part of the front office I guess he feels obligated.
Steve Buechele: Confirmed that he did, in fact, attend spring training at the old Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium. When he told me as much, I replied, “Sweet.” Said Buechele: “Actually (the place) sucked.”
Colby Lewis: 1/2 (8×10) in blue Sharpie
Mike Maddux: 0/1 (card)…not a soul around who even wanted his graph
Willie Wilson: He was there but I didn’t consider him ball-worthy
Spike Owen: He would’ve signed but I didn’t need him. Thought he had a nickname so I asked him. He said he couldn’t recall ever having a nickname. Also said “Spike” is his given name
Notes: Talked to a scout who gushed about Rangers’ RHP Neil Ramirez. Said his FB sat 93-98 and that he has a plus curve and a plus changeup. “A No. 3?” I asked. “I really like him,” the scout said, implying that he could front a rotation. … Texas RHP Yhency Brazoban got lit up in the Double-AA scrimmage.

at Rangers’ backfields

Derek Holland: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie with “Dutch Oven” inscription, which he does automatically. Said he umpires in the offseason. According to a story he told, a coach came out of the dugout to argue a call, claiming Holland didn’t know the rules. Holland finally grew frustrated so he told the coach, “You do realize that I’m Derek Holland and that I pitch for the Texas Rangers?”
Mitch Moreland: 0/1..only signed for kids
Ian Kinsler: 0/1 Left through the CF fence and didn’t sign
Brandon Webb: He signed but I must have been on the Royals’ side ‘cuz I missed him
Josh Hamilton: 1/1 (11×14) in the black Sharpie he ran with. It was in a crowd but it still came out OK

at Chik-Fil-A in Surprise

Drove from Surprise to Peoria to watch the Rangers at Padres game. Was in the middle lane when I looked to my right. In the lane next to me was a young kid in a monster truck with flame tattoos on his left arm, which he hung out the window. I knew right away who it was. I watched as he and the coach he was with pulled into the drive-thru at the Chik-Fil-A I had just eaten at that afternoon. I pulled in behind them, waited for them to order and then got out of the car and walked up with the SI.

“I swear I didn’t follow you, Josh. You happened to be in the lane next to me. Would you mind signing my SI?” Hamilton laughed, shook his head, and signed it with the blue Sharpie I provided. “This isn’t good food to be eating before a game, is it?” I asked Hamilton. “Man, if you ever saw the food in that clubhouse, you’d eat at Chik-Fil-A, too,” Hamilton told me.

Josh Hamilton: 1/1 (SI) in blue Sharpie

at Padres/Mariners in Surprise, pregame, near dugout

Everth Cabrera: 2/2 (’09 Ginters) in blue Sharpie. The usher who works the section to the right of the Padres’ dugout does a great job getting graphers to line up
Dave Roberts: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie. “Do you miss the Red Sox?” I asked him. “I always have a place in my heart for Boston,” Roberts told me.

in the section of seats behind the Padres’ dugout before the game

Talked to a grapher as I soon as I arrived. He told me how he had gotten Dave Winfield at 4:45 p.m. as the Padres walked from the backfields to the stadium. I was a bit jealous. Not two minutes later Winfield appeared out of the dugout. I tried to get his attention. “Hey Dave, would you sign my book? It’s absolutely worthless,” I yelled, wanting to emphasize that I did not intend to sell his graph, which I’ve been told really irks him. Winfield turned around and laughed. He left the field and walked to the section of seats between home and the first-base dugout. I tried to shadow him. I finally caught up to him and asked again if he’d sign. He didn’t want to create a mob scene so he told me to walk with him for a few minutes. He asked me my name and I told him, then I told him how I grew up watching the Yankees, who trained five minutes from me throughout my childhood. I actually graphed Winfield in the late ’80s when I was 14. He didn’t remember the story. He asked where I grew up and I told him. I then told him that I didn’t realize he worked in the Padres’ front office. That’s when he handed me a Padres’ media guide. “Turn it to page 137 (at least I think it was 137),” he told me. I did, and there was a picture of Winfield. I then asked him about Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, the two prospects the Padres acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Winfield knew nothing about them, which I thought was a little odd. For almost five minutes, Winfield and I rapped. He actually put his hand on my right shoulder as we walked. He genuinely seemed interest in talking to me, which I thought was sort of cool.

Dave Winfield: 1/1 (baseball book) in blue Sharpie

at “Autograph Alley” after the starters were pulled

Jorge Cantu: 1/1 (Marlins’ magazine) in black Sharpie he was running with
Cameron Maybin: 1/1 (8×10) in blue Sharpie. “You’re missed in Jupiter,” I told Maybin. “Thanks, brother,” he said.
Heath Bell: He signed but all I had was a ROMLB and I didn’t think he was worthy
Kyle Blanks: signed but didn’t need him
Chase Headley: signed but didn’t need him

A shout-out to Chad Qualls, who was a real class act. An 8-year-old slipped on the ledge in “Autograph Alley” and Qualls was cool enough to get the kid ice from the clubhouse.

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 5

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 5

all over the Phoenix area
Wednesday, March 16
6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Giants practice from 6 a.m.-noon:

Jeremy Affeldt: didn’t need him. “Thanks, bro,” he said when I told him he might be one the top 5 best signers in all of MLB. I”ve never seen him not sign
Travis Ishikawa: 2/2 (cards) in blue Sharpie
Steve Decker: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie. I had a bunch more but the only one I cared about was the one of him in the Marlins’ uni
Shawon Dunston: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie
Barry Zito: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie
Tim Flannery: 1/1 (surfboard card) in blue Sharpie
Jonathan Sanchez: 1/1 (ticket) in black Staedtler. Gave the full inscription
Miguel Tejada: 1/1 (2006 Orioles team photo with Mitre the only player left) in blue Sharpie, 1/1 (Orioles’ tri-player photo that is now finished)…Couldn’t have been cooler…Told him I was from Fort Lauderdale and he said, “Hey, I’m from Fort Lauderdale, too.”
Pablo Sandoval: signed but I didn’t need him
Andres Torres: signed but I didn’t need him
Bruce Bochy: signed but I didn’t need him
Brandon Belt: 2/2 (11x14s) in blue Sharpie. As of two weeks ago, he no longer sweet-spots ROMLBs
Orlando Cepeda: 0/1, 0/1 even though there were only seven graphers left. Weird dude

Giants after the game at Camelback:

Mark DeRosa: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie…Beautiful graph
Tim Lincecum: 0/1..The crowd rushed him and I couldn’t get him despite walking with him for about 50 feet from the clubhouse to his car

Mariners’ backfields prior to game vs. Milwaukee:

Ken Griffey Jr.: 0/1 …..almost glad because all I had with me was a ROMLB and I didn’t want it paneled
Ichiro Suzuki: 0/1
Jay Buhner: 1/1 (SI) in blue Sharpie….Much cooler than last year
Carl Willis: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie…Wouldn’t stop telling me the story behind the ’86 Topps card I had him sign
Matt Tuiasosopo: 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie. Signed the card while I held it, which is lame. Doesn’t take much time with his graph
Dustin Ackley: 2/2 (8x10s), 1/1 (SP, ROMLB)…A bit of a dick. He did the two photos without a problem. I asked for the ball and he must have gotten pissed that I wanted a third graph so he hit the panel

While standing near the RF side of the Marlners’ dugout before the game:

Adam Kennedy: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie
Justin Smoak: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie
Felix Hernandez: 1/1 (SS, ROMLB) in blue ink while he was talking to the woman next to me. Signed maybe three total

In “Autograph Alley” after game:

Rickie Weeks: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie. Real cool dude. Said he still lives in Florida. “Where in Florida?” I asked. “Florida,” Weeks replied.
Matt Tuiasosopo: 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie
Casey McGehee: 1/1 (SS, ROMLB) in blue ink. This dude HATES the Cubs. “Wish these things (Cubs’ photos) would stop popping up,” he said.
Franklin Gutierrez: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie
Robin Yount: 0/1 before the game he said he would sign after the game. But once the game ended he just kept walking past the graphers who were shouting his name
Justin Smoak: 1/1 (SS, ROMLB) in blue ink
Brendan Ryan: signed for everyone, then asked, “Everybody good?” before walking away. Real cool dude. Said that if he had two deals on the table and one was with a team that trained in Arizona he’d take it in a heartbeat over the one with the team that trained in Florida. Said he wasn’t happy with the way the Cardinals handled his situation.

While waiting in RF after game:

Chris Chambliss: 1/1 (ticket) in black Staedtler.

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 4

‘On The Road With psugator02′ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 4

Camelback Ranch
Glendale, Ariz.
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday, March 15

Got a late start because I had some real-life work to do. Camelback — and all the camps for that matter — are now swamped with kids on spring break. None of the Dodgers signed on their way out to the practice fields. Note to self: next time spend the morning at another camp when the Dodgers are home. Seemed the Dodgers had an extra-late workout prior to their 1 p.m. game so I headed over to the Rangers’ bus, hoping I could pick off some players. Bus arrived early but I was able to snag one player who drove over in a rental car.

David Murphy: 2/2 (cards) in blue Sharpie
Nelson Cruz: 0/1…also drove his own car. Sort of shocked because he ALWAYS signs

Walked back to the entrance to the backfields. On my way spotted Chad Billingsley. He was his usual cool self.

Chad Billingsley: 1/1 (11×14)…Made the mistake of giving him silver and then not telling him where on the picture to sign.

I had already been in line for Don Mattingly. But when I walked to the Rangers’ bus I lost my spot. So I was now in the back. No matter, I still got him. He makes everyone line up along the fence and is very cordial, signing 1-per for everyone. Actually pressed for a second, but he insisted he was only doing one.

Don Mattingly: 1/1 (8×10 that already has Mark McGwire’s autograph). I missed Tommy Lasorda because I chose to wait in Mattingly’s line. Oh well. Lasorda’s graph has really deteriorated anyway, so no biggie

Really thought I could pick off some other Dodgers on their way back to the clubhouse. But there were so many people there that not many players stopped. A few scrubs signed (Jamey Carroll, etc.), but I didn’t care about them. Wasn’t planning on going to the game so walked to the minor-league complex to get prospect Dee Gordon. Didn’t realize I was going to have to wait back there for two hours in the desert heat. If you were wondering, the Dodgers chose not to install water fountains anywhere near the minor-league fields. Gordon finally finished the scrimmage and was as cool as could be, even remembering the tweets that he had sent me.

Dee Gordon: 3/3 (8x10s for bizarre, SS of ROMLB). Would’ve gotten the picwith, but I inadvertently left the camera at home. By the way, for someone who’s such a top-rated prospect, Gordon sure is small. During the scrimmage he lined an opposite-field single over the left fielder’s head. Maybe he is for real.

The Dodgers have a lot of coaches who used to play in the big leagues (Chuck Crim, Steve Yeager, Lenny Harris, Jim Slaton), but the only one I graphed was Darren Dreifort. I asked him his role with the Dodgers and he wasn’t sure. “I just do what they tell me to do,” Dreifort said.

Darren Dreifort: 1/1 (signature card) in blue Sharpie. One of the most beautiful graphs I’ve seen all spring

Walked back to graph the Dodgers’ parking lot and the Rangers’ bus.

James Loney: 1/1 (8×10) in blue Sharpie
Don Mattingly: 1/1 (11×14) in blue Sharpie. Signs a ton
Rick Honeycutt: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie
Hong Chih Kuo: 0/1 only signed five and I just missed him
Matt Kemp: 0/1 wouldn’t stop
Manny Mota: wouldn’t stop
Andre Ethier: 0/1 wouldn’t stop
Clayton Kershaw: 0/1 gor rocked so maybe that’s the reason he didn’t stop
Mike McDougal: great dude but didn’t need him
Ron Mahay: great dude but didn’t need him
Tony Gwynn Jr.: 0/1 wouldn’t stop
Dioner Navarro: great dude but didn’t need him
Travis Schlichting: good dude but didn’t need him. He rocks the mullet AND gets a smokin’ hot chick. Well done. Almost looks like a young Curt Schilling
Rafael Furcal: 0/1 wouldn’t stop
Juan Uribe: just missed him because I was getting a few Rangers
Matt Kemp: 0/1 wouldn’t stop
Jerry Sands: 0/1 wouldn’t stop

David Murphy: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie for a member
Nelson Cruz: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie for a member
Elvis Andrus: didn’t even stand near the visitor locker room because i was sure Andrus wouldn’t touch a pen. But sure enough he did and by the time I walked over I had missed him
Matt Treanor: signed but I didn’t need him
Mike Napoli: 0/1 wouldn’t walk over
Chris Davis: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. Still a great signer
Julio Borbon: signed but I didn’t need him

The entire Cactus League appears more difficult this year.

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 3

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 3

Monday, March 14
9-11:30 a.m.
Cubs in Mesa

Knew the Cubs were hard but thought I might do OK considering this was BP and they actually had an away game. But this was BRUTAL.

Players who signed but I didn’t need: Carlos Marmol, Reed Johnson, Sean Marshall and a few other scrubs
These players were 0/1 and are IMPOSSIBLE: Soriano, Castro
Billy Williams: 1/1 (Perez-Steele) in blue Sharpie with “HOF” inscription. Signed for the 10 people who were waiting. Those who came out of the woodwork were denied. Dude really has no reason to be this grumpy considering he’s a D-level HOFer

Brewers at Giants in Scottsdale
12:30-4:30 p.m.

Toyed with doing Cubs at Mariners but that game didn’t excite me so followed a Chicago grapher to Brewers at Giants. Made a few rookie mistakes only because the local I had been graphing with abandoned me. I guess you have to hang with the gf and children every now and then LOL

Matt Cain: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie. I was wandering around the concourse and almost missed him. He signed for everyone waiting by the outside door. I walked up just as he was finishing but was able to snag him in the parking lot. I think he was pissed, though, because he gave me a crappy graph
Tim Lincecum: 0/1…I was with three other graphers and we were about five feet from his car, but he wouldn’t even acknowledge us
Sergio Romo: didn’t need him but you know it’s going to be a rough day when Romo doesn’t even sign

Robin Yount: 1/1 (SS of ROMLB), picwith. He refused to do any inscriptions.

I guess you can’t be everywhere. I didn’t realize that the visiting stars parked behind centerfield. Braun and Fielder all signed on the way to their cars but I was too busy waiting on the Giants. Live and learn I guess. I also didn’t realize Uecker was doing the game. I’ve gotten him before but it sure would’ve been nice to get him on the 11×14 I just had printed.

Yesterday may have been a haul, but this…not so much

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 2

‘On The Road With psugator02′ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 2

Goodyear Ballpark
Goodyear, Ariz.
Sunday, March 13
9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

A lot in the morning…not much from 11-3 and then a lot in the late afternoon. If you’re looking for current MLB guys then you won’t think I had a lot of success today. But if you like graphing former players then you’d probably have just as much fun as I did. Would’ve done even better if we had gone directly to the Indians’ side after doing Reds’ minors. But we went to the Reds’ side and missed some of the Indians who were getting on the bus for the away game. Still no complaints from me especially considering I didn’t even buy a ticket to the game. By the way, it was Reds vs. Angels and the Angels brought what amounted to a Triple-A team. It sounds like a bad game but supposedly all of the Reds today were required to sign for season-ticket holders. I have no reason to doubt the grapher who told me the story. But the locals I was graphing with didn’t know of the event so how was I to know? LOL

Barry Larkin: 1/1 (8×10), 1/1 (SS of ROMLB with “1995 MVP” inscription) in blue ink pen, 0/1 leaving the lot in his car…couldn’t have been cooler. I would’ve gone for the photo op but I was running around trying to pick off other guys. Asked him for a sleeper hitter/pitcher in the Reds’ system and he wouldn’t budge, insisting that all of the minors were worthy of being on my fantasy team. Sure, Barry
Delino DeShields: 2/2 (DK, ’92 UD All-Star Fanfest set, which I may complete one day) in blue Sharpie. I asked DeShields the same fantasy-baseball question and he started naming every player on the Akron team he will manage in ’11. Guy was VERY difficult in Vero back in the 1990s
Tom Browning: 2/2 (SS of ROMLB, both with “Perfect Game” inscription) in blue ink pen. Guy couldn’t have been cooler
Jorge Orta: 7/7, 1/1 help (cards) in blue Sharpie. Guy is such a good signer that I really wish I had the ’82 World Series image of him being called safe in the ’82 World Series. That play — and botched call — changed the tone of the entire Series
Ken Griffey: 1/1 (Topps card from the 1980s)….Guy is a real trip. Really wish I had videotaped exactly what he said. Something about how he’s now retired and retired players don’t have to sign autographs. Also overheard him tell a story to a coach in the dugout. Couldn’t make out the whole thing, just Griffey defining ‘bidness”
Dontrelle Willis: 1/1 (’08 Ginter), 1/1 (SI for a member), 1/1 (2003 Marlins’ team photo with Sergio Mitre now the only missing graph of the 16 players). The eight graphers there claimed I jumped in front of Willis’ car, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I simply tried to get Willis to stop his car. I kept asking him what he remembered from his days with the Marlins. Oddly enough, he wouldn’t even acknowledge that he ever played for the Marlins. Maybe he’s bitter that they let him go. Real nice dude
Jay Bruce: 0/1 while driving out of the parking lot. I thought he would stop considering I was standing next to a 20-year-old boy in a wheelchair
Aroldis Chapman: 0/1 while driving out of the lot. I usually don’t berate local graphers but four of them followed Chapman to his apartment complex when they realized that he wasn’t going to sign. That is VERY uncool. The one couple who followed him even had an infant with them. I will never know how they, in their Honda Accord, even caught up to Chapman, who looked to be driving a Ferrari.
Jonny Gomes: 1/1 (’06 Ginter) in blue Sharpie. Traded an extra Jeremy Hermida to another grapher for the Gomes Ginter and I’m glad I did or I would’ve had nothing for him. Again, it helped that I was standing next to the boy in the wheelchair.
Eric Davis: 1/1 (baseball book YEAH BABY), 1/1 (Phillies’ regular-season program duel with Kent Tekulve), 1/1 help (Orioles’ spring training magazine from the late 1990s). I tried telling Davis that I was from Fort Lauderdale in the hopes that he would do a second. He replied: “Why does where you are from have anything to do with me signing another item for you? If you want me to sign a second for you, then just ask.” Real cool dude. I asked him what he thought of Florida’s chances in the NCAA Tournament. “They’re going to drown.” His pick to win the whole thing? Duke.
Grady Sizemore: 0/1 … After doing Reds’ minors I walked over to the side where the Reds’ majors practice. For some reason, they never came out. So I walked over to the side where the Indians’ majors practice and just Sizemore.
Chris Perez: didn’t need him. But this dude might be one of the coolest in all of MLB. Said he missed the University of Miami alumni game this year because he was already in Arizona working out
Mike Leake: signed but I didn’t need him
Drew Stubbs: Signed, but I didn’t realize who it was until he was already gone
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0/1…tried him leaving in his car. He had the window down and there were only three graphers there but he wouldn’t do it
Homer Bailey: 0/1 while in his car leaving the parking lot.
Johnny Cueto: 0/1 while leaving in his car
George Foster: 1/1 (SS of ROMLB with “1977 NL MVP” inscription) in blue ink pen. Didn’t want to pay to get into the game so talked an usher into admitting me for a few minutes (I had to give him my ID) so I could get Foster.

And for the story of the day …

Told Dave, the boy in the wheelchair I had been graphing with for a few hours, that I was only going to stay a few more minutes. “I’m leaving whenever you leave” was Dave’s response. “4:15 and I’m done,” I told him. Well a player in a white car, maybe a Mustang, drove past us and waved. We had no idea who it was. I mentioned that it looked an awful lot like Brandon Phillips, but I wasn’t too sure considering the car had Minnesota plates. Dave had been getting minor leaguers on his hat so I encouraged him to get this person on the hat, too. “Couldn’t hurt,” I told him. So he wheeled himself over to the car., which was now parked. Dave came back with a big grin on his face. We both figured out that it was, indeed, Phillips. I walked over to his car very slowly and asked him if he would also mind signing what I had. I think most of you read about my troubles last year with Phillips. This year, however, my experience with him couldn’t have been more different. He thanked me for asking for his autograph, shook my hand, and wished me well. I had such a good experience that I really wanted to document everything with a picture. Phillips didn’t have a problem doing the picwith. Before he got back in his car I even gave him a ball to sign. I had debated whether he was ball-worthy — I only brought 28 balls with me to Arizona — but now it didn’t even matter. The ball would be proof of an amazing experience. I knew he had been in an All-Star game so I asked if he would inscribe that on the ball. Before I left I stopped to talk to one of Phillips’ friends. It happened to be his brother. I made sure his brother knew that I really appreciated what Brandon had done. “Yeah, he (Brandon) is a real cool dude,” his brother told me.

Brandon Phillips: 1/1 (’08 Ginter), 1/1 (SS of ROMLB with “#4” and “ASG” inscription), picwith

Not a bad haul

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 1

‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 1

Salt River Flats, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Saturday, March 12
7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

For the record, it is not necessary to arrive at this park until 9:30 a.m. It didn’t start so great but it really picked up toward the end. Salt River Flats looks a lot like Camelback and has some of the same food stands. I tasted the $8 Yaki Soba noodles (yummy) and had a $5 strawberry-banana shish kabob.

Kelly Johnson: 2/2 (’08 Ginters)
Kirk Gibson: 0/1 “I can’t do that now” before the team boarded the bus for the 1 p.m. away game. 0/1 “I can’t do that now” near the dugout before the start of the night game
J.J. Putz: 0/1 as he walking back toward the clubhouse after work on the backfields and then 1/1. I shouted out for him but he never acknowledged me. He obviously heard me, though, because once he finished running he actually walked back toward me and asked if I still wanted his autograph. Cool dude. Told him that I saw him at the WBC game in Miami (the game where Matt Lindstrom blew out his arm).

Alan Trammell: 1/1 (11×14 SI image), 1/1 (5×7 Topps card from the 1980s)…….I asked him about the Magnum PI episode in which he and Lou Whitaker appeared and he wouldn’t stop talking about it.

Ubaldo Jimenez: 1/1 (11×14) in blue Sharpie, 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie, picwith, all after finishing a run (He was the starter in the day game). Went back in the clubhouse to change and then signed again on his way out…….2/2 (’09 Ginters)
Todd Helton: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie before the night game…..He walked over during batting practice and signed through a spot in the fence. I tried to make small talk, asking him if he followed the Tennessee basketball team. He doesn’t.
Bob Apodaca: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie before the night game

Carlos Gonzalez: 1/1 (11X14) in silver paint, 1/1 (SS of ROMLB) in blue ink pen…real cool dude
Troy Tulowitzki: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in a dead black Sharpie given to him by a fan. Glad I didn’t give him the 11
Dexter Fowler: 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie.
Jarrod Parker: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie…..the only player on either team I got in the stadium before the night game

Didn’t attend the day game, instead choosing to pick off guys as they left. These teams really do it right, signing for everyone from when they enter the stadium until they reach the dugout. Every Rockies’ player signed entering the stadium before the night game. I was on the Dbacks’ side, though, hoping to get Justin Upton and Chris Young. Of course they were the only ones on the entire team who didn’t sign.

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Cardinals Team Event w/Albert Pujols – February 26, 2011

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Cardinals Team Event w/Albert Pujols – February 26, 2011

Cardinals’ season-ticket signing
Roger Dean Stadium
5:55 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, February 26

Even though I started getting texts from friends at 11 p.m., I told myself that there was no way I was going to wait in line overnight even if that meant only making it through one line. I was halfway through the McGwire line when time lapsed. I wouldn’t do anything differently, though, as the only guy in the third line I needed was Holliday and all I had for him was cards, and I can get those done anytime. If I were anyone else, I’d probably be upset that I wasn’t able to get McGwire but I’ve gotten him a lot this spring and will most likely get him a few more times before ST ends. All my help wanted was for me to buy him breakfast and lunch. Can’t beat that. I do, however, have a problem with the way the event is organized. Those who arrived early added their ‘friends’ to the list. Those ‘friends’ didn’t even show up until very late, yet they were still allowed to cut the line.

One simple solution: pass out wristbands the night before, then line everyone up by number the day of the event. I told a Roger Dean employee that something better needed to be figured out for next year. His response was that fans were responsible for policing themselves.

P.J. Walters: was supposed to be the very first player in the Pujols line but either he wasn’t there or I missed him
Skip Schumaker: 1/1  in blue Sharpie, 1/1 help  in blue Sharpie
Ryan Theriot: 1/1 in blue Sharpie, 1/1 help (card) in blue Sharpie
Ian Snell: 2/2 (’08 Ginter and ’08 Ginter Delaware), 1/1 help (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie…….still a great signer
Jason Motte: 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie, 1/1 help (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie…Tried to give him two more. “I think we’re only supposed to do one.”

Albert Pujols: 1/1 (Kings and their Castles poster) in blue Sharpie, 1/1 help (11×14 SI image) in blue Sharpie…..rookie mistake: had ridged cardboard under the poster…..look closely enough and you can see the ridges in Pujols’ graph. Probably would have been better had I put a toploader or something thicker under the poster. Sharpie also skipped a tad though it’s barely noticeable. The photo was thick so the graph came out fine even though the cardboard was under it…. Funny story: my adopted sister’s brother helped me. He knows nothing about baseball or autographs. He wasn’t sure what to do with the photo I had given him so he asked me for help. Albert heard him and got pissed for some odd reason. “This photo is for you (me) and not for him?” I told him that he was my brother, then asked why it mattered. I guess that ticked off Albert and he gave me what looks like his ballpark graph. Guy is a real tool. I had two tickets so why does it matter who keeps the graphs?

Had a late lunch at my favorite Jupiter restaurant. You guessed it. McGwire walked in as we were walking out. We stayed in the car for almost an hour. Seemed like he was taking a long time to eat so my brother went back in to purchase a soda. McGwire was still inside. My friend made eye contact with McGwire’s wife. She must have said something to Mark about my friend recognizing him. Instead of leaving out the front door, McGwire must have left through the kitchen. There’s absolutely no way we could have missed him because our eyes were glued to the door the whole time he was inside. Would have been nice to get two more graphs from him. But I can’t complain because I’ve done pretty well with him the last few weeks.

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Florida Marlins Spring Season Ticket Event – February 25, 2011

‘On The Road With psuGator02′ – Florida Marlins Spring Season Ticket Event – February 25, 2011

Friday, February 25
4:55-7 p.m.
Roger Dean Stadium
Florida Marlins season-ticketholder event

Don’t know what I was thinking, but I visited with grandma entirely too long and was almost late to the event. Arrived five minutes before it began and got lucky. A gentleman wearing a Duffy’s T-shirt — maybe the best sports bar in the tri-county area by the way — gave me a free ticket. Then while standing in line I was able to buy two tickets to tomorrow’s Cardinals’ event for $50 (yes, folks, $25 apiece). Not to brag, but I even found free help for tomorrow. I usually graph alone, but when I found out I had an extra ticket I figured it would be a great way to add another Pujols to my collection. What do I have to pay my help? He just wants me to buy his breakfast and lunch. Nice kid.

Matt Dominguez: 1/1 (8×10)…thankfully this is the last thing in my collection for this kid. I know he’s a great defender and all that but I really hope he flops ‘cuz he’s been giving me garbage graphs even before he was in A-ball
Chris Volstad: didn’t need him if you can believe that. real cool cat
Mike Stanton: 1/1 …i’ve been graphing him so long that he laughs when he sees me. was at his last game before getting promoted to Double-A…that was a good day for Stanton as he gave away everything (pants, cleats, uni, hat). i’m old so, of course, i didn’t get anything. for the record, i became aware of him at the 2008 SAL All-Star Game. Stanton was selected for the HR derby but not the game. Dude hit bombs over RF wall.
Chris Coghlan: 1/1 (8×10)…this was the last item in my collection that I needed done. If only he would give me one “ROY” inscription. Oh well
John Raynor: 1/1 (card)
Javier Vazquez: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie
Randy St. Claire: 2/2 (cards) in black Sharpie                                                     Anibal Sanchez: 1/1 (card) for a member. Gives me a weird look every time he signs for me as if I can actually make money off one of his signed cards. Puuuuhleeease
Michael Dunn: 1/1 (card)…I don’t do Heritage sets but they sure are gorgeous
Sean West: 1/1 (8×10)…the last photo in my collection that I needed done….only two cards left and I’ll never bother him again
Greg Dobbs: 3/3 (8×10, two 5x7s) in blue Sharpie….every Marlin was supposedly 1-per. But I was in the Marlins’ lot Monday morning when Dobbs arrived. He gave me a snotty remark when I asked for his graph. “Let me get settled first” was what I think he said. Of course, he never did come back and sign. I reminded Dobbs of that and he gladly did all three, even being polite in the process
Hanley Ramirez: 1/1 (16×20) in silver paint…..Did I tell you I don’t like his new graph. Was on his cell the entire event. Is it so difficult to at least be friendly to your fans?
Logan Morrison: 2/2 (16x20s) in blue Sharpie                                                         Josh Johnson: I was getting close to JJ when event ended. An 8×10 and a card and I’m done with him as well
Leo Nunez: somehow missed him..not as if it matters