Thanks to my buddy Alex I was able to attend the Dodgers vs Reds Game three hours before the game started. Alex is a season ticket holder for the Dodgers which grants him the right to enter Dodger Stadium 3 hours before the game starts. What's cool is that they are allowed to bring guests in as well.
This was a perfect opportunity for both ballhawking and for graphing in general. I wish more teams had this program especially the Angels. I rolled out to the stadium with Benson as usual and we met up with Harry and Alex at around 3pm. We were part of the first group to enter the stadium and the Dodgers were warming up before batting practice.
What's cool is that it was like watching a private team workout. Most of the players were all in a relaxed mood and were interacting with the fans.
My goal of finally getting a Dodgers 50th Anniversary baseball came courtesy of Ronald Belisario. After warming up he tossed me the baseball (pictured below, the cleanest one of the three I ended up that day).
The second baseball was a toss up from the security guard wearing black two pictures above and the last one I had to work for as the baseball bounced toward the railing so I had to reach over and scoop it up using my glove. Three commemorative 50th anniversary baseballs in one day. What a great start.
The first former Dodger to sign for us was Maury Wills. I had him sign my 8x10 photo of him and Dee Gordon. Maury thought my pen was blue so he ended up signing near the grey portion of the photo. Still I was happy I got his autograph. I also had Maury sign a 50th anniversary baseball for me after I ran into him again later during BP.
The next player to sign for us was Chris Capuano who signed along the rails near the Dodger bullpen. I had him sign a photo for me as well.
After about an hour we went to section 27 where fans are allowed to line up and get onto the field for autographs. I went in the 2nd group and ended up getting James Loney to sign a photo for me.
We hopped back in line and luckily we were the last group to get into the field again. Andre Ethier was signing autographs for fans. I got really lucky since as he was about to leave, a female Dodger fan who happened to be celebrating her 30th birthday called out to Andre for an autograph letting him know it was her birthday wish to get his autograph. Andre stopped for her and asked for a pen. Unfortunately she didn't have a pen so I let her borrow mine. Andre stopped and signed for her and also signed my 50th anniversary ball as well before he left. During the process Andre accidentally dropped my baseball on the field. Luckily the baseball wasn't scuffed and I was able to remove the mud off of the baseball. I don't know what's my luck with being near the field this season but that's the second time this year that my baseball was dropped on the field as I was in the process of getting an autograph.
There wasn't much action going on in the Reds side as nobody was signing. Thus I headed over to the Dodgers bullpen before the game was about to start. I was able to get Shawn Tolleson and Scott Elbert to sign my photos for me.
To commemorate July 4th the Dodgers had military vets go on the field and carry the American flag.
That's always a cool thing to see. So far i've seen this tradition during Memorial Day and during 9-11 when I was at Angel Stadium.
After the game we decided to graph the Reds post game. The first player to stop and sign for us was Devin Mesoraco who signed two cards for me. I love the rookies since they usually sign multiples all the time. I guess Devin was in a good mood since he did hit a home run during the game. Devin has one of the weirdest looking autographs but it's consistent.
The next Reds player to sign was Ryan Ludwick. I forgot to sort through my cards and left my 2011 Allen and Ginter Card at home. That particular card was still in my Padres set of cards and I forgot that Ryan was on the Reds now. Thus I settled by getting Ryan to sign my Reds team card.
The last person to sign for us was Alfredo Simon. Luckily I did bring his card with me and he signed my 2012 Topps card.
On a side note Mat Latos is a jerk. I've heard stories about how bad he is with other graphers especially after his wife wrote a rant about how much she hates graphers. You can read about it in her blog http://dallaslatos.mlblogs.com/page/2/ post titled On Autographs and Other FANcy Things...
I love how she generalizes graphers into one category as all of us being "eBayers." I agree to some extent in that there are a few bad apples in the autograph community that ruin it for all of us but don't make generalizations. That's what gets you in trouble. The reason why I say Mat is a jerk is because before I even asked him for an autograph he shoots me down and yells at me saying "No autographs." Plus there were only about 5 fans and we were all being respectful too. Many players have declined my autograph requests in the past and normally as long as they are polite about it then it's cool since I try to be polite around players as well. What I regret not doing is following his rejection with a random question just to throw him off a bit to make it look like I wasn't even going to ask him for an autograph so he'd look like an idiot. Oh well maybe next time but it's hard to think of stuff like that on the spot. I just hope autograph karma doesn't haunt him like it will haunt Philip Rivers next year.
Overall it was another great day of graphing. I want to thank Alex again for hooking me and Benson up and getting us into Dodger Stadium three hours before the game started. I also wish my friend Harry the best of luck. Harry may be moving to El Paso do sports broadcasting for UTEP. I hope you get the job Harry but if you move away the autograph community and your friends in LA will miss you.