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.