Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Angels vs Yankees Most Memorable Memorial Day JETER!!!!!!!!! 5-28-12

Today was a historic day of graphing and may have been the highlight of the year for in stadium graphing. Thanks to my friend Benson who hooked me up with tickets to the Angels vs Yankees game on Memorial Day I was able to graph the Yankees today. As usual we decided to make this a full day event. Thanks to Benson's cheat sheet featuring player photos and names I was able to ID two of the lesser known Yankees prior to the game. Cody Eppley and David Phelps were kind enough to sign my Yankees mini helmet. I wish I had cards for these guys but it's nice to use a mini helmet as backup.

Then I got Nick Swisher to sign my 2012 Gypsy Queen card.

So far so good. Three Yankee autographs even before we entered the stadium. Yankees are by far the toughest team to graph so I was already happy with the results. Reggie Jackson also walked by but he only signed for one kid as he entered the stadium through the front gates.

Today was Memorial Day so there were a lot of fans (Yankee fans) already waiting by the front gates. I was also shocked to see that the Angels had a giveaway today (Angels car freshener) since this game sold out. Normally teams have giveaways on days they struggle to sell tickets.

The gates were due to open two hours before BP so we stood in line early so we could enter the stadium early for BP/graphing. While we were waiting in line I ran into my buddy Ryan who arrived a bit late. I couldn't let my friend wait in the back of the line and miss out on graphing opportunities so we let Ryan join us in line. Ryan played an integral role today which I will explain later. As soon as the gates opened we rushed to get prime positioning near the Yankees dugout. As we were headed inside the security was tight especially since the Yankees were in town. There was an usher at each section checking your tickets. There were two security checkpoints one as you entered the field level and another at each individual field section. Luckily we knew some of the ushers and Ryan happens to know the usher who was near the Yankee dugout so we were able to sneak in. A lot of graphers who didn't have tickets in the field/yankee dugout section weren't able to get through. Here is a view of where we stood by waiting for the Yankees to come out of the dugout.

Perfect positioning for graphing the Yankees. We noticed that Derek Jeter walked out of the dugout and was doing an interview.

As soon as the interview as over Derek stood in front of the dugout and asked us what we were all waiting for. We all yelled out "Derek can you please sign autographs for us." There was a group of about 20 of us waiting for Derek. He looked at us funny and started signing away pointing at each person to throw an item and a pen over so he can sign. We all expected Derek to sign for three kids or not sign at all then leave like he usually does. However today was different. He went down the line and signed for everyone. As he started to sign more people started to flow in. He signed for about 10-15 mins and I think he ended up signing for about 50 fans. Benson and I ended up getting Derek to sign ROMLBs for us and Ryan got his 2010 All Star baseball signed by Jeter. What surprised me was that Derek was switching pens as he was signing. He'd stick with ball point pens on baseballs and use sharpies on jerseys, cards and mini helmets. Even if he sharpied my baseball I wouldn't have cared but he asked for my pen and signed.

Ryan, Benson and I were in shock after getting Jeter's autograph. We never thought that we'd end up with Derek Jeter's autograph today. We were all happy like children opening up gifts at Christmas day. Christmas came early this year for us.

I am a true believer of fate, timing and pure luck when it comes to graphing. A lot of things worked out so that this moment could happen. First Benson was nice enough to hook me up with his tickets to attend this game. Otherwise I would have never gone to the game and never had the shot of getting Jeter's autograph. Second we let Ryan cut in line with us at the entrance. Had we not done this then we would have never been able to get to the Yankees dugout since security would have stopped us. Luckily Ryan knew the usher near the Yankees dugout so they let us in. Thus I have to thank both Benson and Ryan for giving me the opportunity to land Derek Jeter's autograph. Thanks guys.

After signing Jeter went to BP. As he was walking back to the dugout after BP there was a fan who brought a poster which read "Jeter's #1 FAN" who wanted a baseball signed and also an army officer in full military gear who wanted a jersey signed. They arrived a bit later after Jeter was done signing. Jeter stopped and signed for both of them. After seeing that I realized that Derek Jeter is not only great baseball player but he's one helluva cool guy for hooking his fans up like that.

Afterwards the ushers kicked everyone without a ticket out so we roamed around the stadium. I decided to check out the Fox Sports West Broadcast in the outfield to see if Tim Salmon was there. As usual he was there finishing up the pre game show and Tim was nice enough to sign my 1994 Fleer Ultra card.

Afterwards we went to our designated seats to watch the game. Benson and I met up with our friend James who also joined us for the game. We sat in Section V521 which are Benson's season seats.

Note it's the ticket on the right I used. The other ticket plays a key role later in the post. I love the view level. Although it's far from the field you can get a birds eye view of the field so you never miss any of the action.

The game was one of the best live games i've ever attended since there were tons of lead changes. During the game Benson, James and I made a dinner bet to make the game more interesting.  Benson was assigned Pujols, James had Trumbo and I had Morales. Whoever hit a HR owed each person dinner. Thus if Pujols hit a HR this game then Benson would buy us dinner.

Angels were up 8-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning. We heard a rumor that Joe Torre and David Wells were at the Diamond Club. We were thinking they may leave early since the Angels had this game down. Thus we walked over to the Diamond Club near home plate and waited hoping to run into them as they were leaving to get their autographs. Then suddenly the Yankees scored three runs on the top of the 7th inning to tie the game. We thought we were going to be here all night thinking the game would go extra innings. Some of the fans left early from the Diamond Club and one fan offered me to take his ticket (ticket pictured on left side) so I can go inside the Diamond Club. My buddy Matt was offered a ticket as well so we went inside the Diamond Club Lounge. Here is a view of the game in the Diamond Club.

In the bottom of the 9th we witnessed history and I had a perfect view. Mark Trumbo hit a walk off HR to win the game for the Halos which meant James was going to pick up the tab for dinner tonight. Thanks for dinner James and thank you Mark Trumbo for hitting the walk off game winning HR for us.

Ironically David Wells was sitting in the same section as us. Thus I asked him for his autograph on the way out of the Diamond Club. David was cool as usual and signed my ROMLB on the SS. Later on I took of photo of him chatting with Leeann Tweeden.

After the game we decided to do some post game graphing. What was weird was none of the Yankees walked out through the front. The only person to walk out was Reggie Jackson who was escorted by security. I guess the Yankees were tipped off by security to not exit the stadium through the front gates since there was a mob of graphers waiting outside.

Overall it was a superb day of graphing. I want to thank Benson again for the tickets, Ryan for getting us through security, James for the free dinner, Mark Trumbo for hitting a walk off HR, and Derek Jeter for being a class act and signing for all of us today.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dodgers vs Astros Postgame Graphing 5-25-12

I haven't graphed in almost a week now since the Angels were out of town so I decided to graph the Astros after the game at Dodger Stadium with my friend Benson. Tonight was Friday Night Fireworks so there were a ton of fans watching the fireworks show after the game.

What's cool about Dodger Stadium is that they allow fans into the field during the fireworks show. The distraction gave us an opportunity to graph the Astros as they were being escorted by security. What's difficult about graphing the Astros or any other team without major stars is that you have to think quickly and recognize the players immediately after you see them. Thus you can miss out on a chance for an autograph when a player walks right by you if you don't happen to know their name. The first player to walk out was Carlos Lee. He was with his wife so he didn't sign for anyone.

The first person to sign for me was Matt Downs. I was lucky enough to get him to sign for me tonight since nobody else recognized him. Matt was nice enough to sign my 2012 Topps Heritage card.

The next person to sign for me was Wilton Lopez who signed my 2012 Topps Heritage card. Again nobody recognized him so I was able to get his autograph easily inside the stadium. He had family over so people ended up getting him outside the stadium as well. Wilton is cool and ended up signing for everyone. The picture below shows him signing outside the stadium.

The next person to sign was JD Martinez. He happened to be with his family and friends inside the stadium and met up with them after the fireworks show. I broke the ice by congratulating him on the HR he hit tonight and politely asked for an autograph. He ended up signing my 2012 Gypsy Queen Card.

After the fireworks show security kicked everyone out of the stadium so we waited by the gates. Wandy Rodriguez walked out and signed my 2011 Allen and Ginter Card. As he was signing he kept on complaining how the weather was so cold outside saying "hace frio." I guess he wasn't prepared for the cold weather here expecting it to be warm all the time in California.

The last person to sign for us was Brian Bogusevic. Brian was nice and ended up signing 8 cards for my friend Greg. I was up next and I had only one card of his which happened to be his 2011 Allen and Ginter Card. While Brian was signing for Greg I mentioned that I only had one card for him and pointed out the Ginter card which was positioned on the left next to my Jason Castro card since I place cards in alphabetical order. Brian accidentally signed my Castro card as well. If you compare the two cards they look similar so I guess it was a case of mistaken identity. I guess Brian thought he was signing the same card. By the time he signed it was too late since I didn't get a chance to stop him like the time when I stopped Kevin Gregg from signing the wrong card. Still I want to thank Brian for stopping and being a cool guy for signing multiples for everyone. Now I just need to find an unsigned Jason Castro 2011 Allen and Ginter card just in case I run into him in the future. If anyone has an extra one to spare let me know.

I want to give a shout out to all the graphers/friends who were out there tonight including Benson, Greg,  Alex, and Josh. I always have a fun time graphing with you guys. Time to sleep. On to the next signing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 Dodgers Fanfest Harmony and Hoops Charity Basketball Game

 2012 Dodgers Fanfest

Today was another long day of graphing involving two different events in two different cities. First up was the first annual LA Dodgers Fanfest. Benson and I went to the event with very low expectations since we all know that Dodger fans are the most passionate fans out there thus we expected large crowds, the event being unorganized since it was their first time running the event, and very difficult since it was going to be a hot day today.

The only autograph I wanted and needed is Ron Cey to complete a project i've been working on for quite some time which was to get each member of the famed "Dodger Infield" on single ROMLBs on the SS. I know they sign a lot (Lopes being the toughest one to get) but I wanted to get all the autographs for free instead of paying for the autographs when they do signings at Frank and Sons. Whenever Cey had a free signing it was always on the weekday so I was never able to make it out.

We arrived at Dodgers Fanfest around 15 minutes before they opened the gates at noon. Good thing was that we parked outside the stadium as they let us in a bit early. As expected there were already tons of fans waiting outside and it was a hot day.

The Dodgers had four autograph stations set up but they never announced which player would be at a particular line. The only info that was released was that a group of players would be signing at 30 minute intervals. Based on your luck you can pretty much get lucky and get in the Ethier line or get in the Todd Coffey line (no offense to Todd, sorry Todd). I decided to pick the shortest line first which was line four where Scott Van Slyke was signing. Since I didn't have a card of him I had him sign my 2012 Dodgers Mini helmet. He was my first signature on my helmet. Thanks Scott.

Then we went to line 3 which is where Scott Elbert and Jerry Sands were signing. I had Scott sign my mini helmet as well. Jerry was nice enough to sign two items for me. My mini helmet and my 2012 Topps Heritage Card.

Then we went over to line 2 which is where Adam Kennedy and Elian Herrera were signing. Thanks to Benson who had an extra Adam Kennedy card for me I had Adam sign a 2011 Topps Heritage Card and I had Elian sign my Dodgers mini helmet. Thanks again Benson.

Next up was Josh Lindblom and Matt Guerrier who signed my mini helmet as well. I took a picture of how bad the autograph lines were today.

Next up on the schedule was "The Infield." I was originally in line 3 and it was Bill Russell. The autograph I needed was Ron Cey who was in line 2 so I switched spots with another fan. Finally I was able to get Ron Cey's autograph. He was also nice enough to add "The Penguin" inscription. Now my collection is complete. Thanks Ron.

Afterwards there was a break in action so I went over to take pictures of Dodgers Memorabilia they had on display to kill some time.

I joined my friends back in line. We were all hoping that we'd be in the Ethier line since he was in the group that were scheduled to sign in the next half hour. Unfortunately we were in the wrong line since we were in line 3 and Ethier ended up in line 2. We ended up with Belisario and Coffey. Since we didn't want their autographs we had people go ahead of us so we'd be in prime positioning for the next group. Then one Dodger staff member noticed that most of the fans were doing this and she started to throw a fit demanding that at all the fans in line must move. The lady was completely out of line since it really didn't make a difference. When we let people go ahead of us the line was still moving. She was irate and threatened us that if we didn't move she'd kick us all out of the line. Still everyone just ignored her demands which I thought was funny. Things didn't get better. We ended up with Ted Lily and Aaron Harang. My buddy Spencer was really upset since he really wanted Bobby Abreu's autograph on his Yankees Team Logo piece that he brought and Bobby ended up being in line 2 which was the best line today since all the best players seemed to sign in line 2 today. We'll get Bobby next time Spencer. I had Harang and Lilly sign cards for me.

Benson and I had to leave early so we'd make it on time for the Harmony and Hoops Charity Basketball Event in Irvine. Plus we were already burnt out and tired from Dodgers Fanfest. We vowed never to attend this event again.

Harmony and Hoops Charity Basketball Irvine

We left Dodger Stadium and headed out to Irvine. We decided to attend the Harmony and Hoops event http://www.harmonyandhoops.org/players.html with the goal of getting Dennis Rodman's autograph. Several NBA players were scheduled to appear including Rodman, Sam Cassell, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, and Michael Cage. There were also several celebrities who were scheduled to appear as well such as Penny Marshall, Master P, and Warren G. We arrived at Irvine a bit late due to traffic. When we arrived the arena was empty. Only about 100 fans showed up and there were none of the usual graphers there. Initially we were happy to see this since it meant that there should be no competition and the event was a relaxed environment with barely any security which meant easier access to the players. However that soon turned into disappointment as most of the scheduled guests never showed up to the event. It was either false advertising or last minute cancellations. What's shady is that during the days prior to the event the website featured Dennis Rodman on the homepage but they took it down. Rodman, Nixon, Cassell, Cage, Warren G, Master P, and Penny Marshall never showed up to the event. I was really disappointed since we drove all the way from LA for this. We might have been better off staying at Dodgers fanfest. Here is a picture of how empty the stadium was during the event.

The only bright side to all of this was that I was able to get Jamaal Wilkes on my Lakers Forum Floor piece. Surprisingly not many fans asked for his autograph since most of the people at the event where kids trying to get autographs from stars from the Disney Channel who I had no idea who they were. Even the adults there didn't even ask.

Since it was such a low key event I actually had a conversation with Jamaal Wilkes. He asked me how I heard about the event and asked if I knew anyone who had autism since this was a charity event for autism. I told him that fortunately I didn't have any family members with autism but I do know that it affects thousands of kids out there which negatively affects the quality of their life. I also thanked him for supporting such a great cause to promote awareness so that we can find a cure for the disease. He also even asked me personal stuff like what my name was, where I live, and what my profession was. When I told him I'm a dentist he referred to me as "doctor." I thought that it was cool that a HOFer referred to me as doctor and he thanked me for coming out to the event. Jamaal's a really nice guy in person and you can tell that he genuinely wanted to get to know you. Thanks for the autograph Jamaal and congrats on your induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame.