Monday, January 28, 2013

Stars and Strikes Eddie Guardado Charity Bowling 1-27-13

Although I was tired from graphing all day on Saturday I decided to attend one of my favorite events of the year which is the 2nd Annual Stars and Strikes Eddie Guardado Charity Bowling Event at Bowlmor Lanes in Tustin. This event was scheduled to take place from 5-8:30pm.

When I attended the event last year there were only a handful of fans getting autographs. However this year was different. I arrived at Bowlmor Lanes at about 4pm and there were already about 25 graphers waiting to graph the players coming in. I guess this is the price you pay when you start blogging about in person events. Eventually everyone finds out so the competition factor rises each year. I knew today was going to be much tougher than last year.

My goal today was a small goal which was to get my Vernon Wells Authentic Toronto Blue Jays jersey signed. Most people will think I am crazy for having such goals since Vernon hasn't been the same since he played for the Blue Jays. Most people probably wonder why I even own a Vernon Wells Blue Jays jersey. Well i've always liked Vernon as a person and not just a baseball player since he is one of the kindest players you will ever meet. He's never rude to the fans and always signs multiple items. I really hope Vernon plays well free of injuries this season for the Halos. Plus I was able to purchase the jersey for a good price last year hoping to get it signed at the stadium. Ever since I purchased the jersey I never ran into Vernon again so I was hoping my luck would change today.

The first player to sign for us was the host himself Eddie Guardado who is doing a great job in raising money for children with autism through his foundation. It's a great cause and "Everyday Eddie" always does a good job each year running this event. He was interacting with the graphers outside the bowling alley and signed for anyone who asked. Eddie ended up signing a photo for me.

The next two players to come in together was LaTroy Hawkins and Adrian Beltre. Adrian got mobbed as expected so I decided to go for LaTroy instead since I had a photo for him to sign.

Next up was Vernon Wells and Michael Young who arrived together as expected. Both players were part of the Blue Jays organization so they were good friends since they were in the minors Last year they arrived together and they did the same this year as well. I decided to go for Vernon first since Michael Young was mobbed and I really wanted to get my jersey signed. Vernon was nice as usual and even waited for me while I was prepping my deco prior to signing my jersey.

Vernon also signed two cards for me as well.

After the mob died down for Michael Young I ended up getting him to sign a photo for me.

Afterwards Benson, Alex, and I met up with my friend James to get some dinner after all the players went inside to bowl. We figured we can graph again after they finished bowling.

When we arrived back at Bowlmor Lanes the other graphers informed us that Adrian Beltre left early but signed for all the graphers before he left. I swear I have a curse when it comes to getting Adrian's autograph. I've had about 5 encounters with him at the stadium and when he signs he skips over me or when it's just a few graphers waiting for him he never stops and signs when I am around. The only time i've ever gotten Adrian's autograph was at this event last year. Basically I am cursed when it comes to Adrian Beltre so I wasn't surprised that we just missed him. Oh well we always have the upcoming baseball season so I guess I will try again in the future.

The first player to sign for us after the event was over was Garret Anderson who signed two photos for me. As expected we got his in person sloppy signature.

Garret's paid sit down signature is so much better but I was still happy to get his autograph on these photos.

Next up was Shawn Green. I missed him coming into the event so I was happy to finally add one of my all time Dodger heroes to my autograph collection. Shawn was nice enough to sign my ROMLB on the SS and took a photo with me as well.

Jamie Moyer was next to come out and as usual he was nice to the fans. Jamie signed a photo and two cards for me. Alex helped me with the Heritage Card which was given to me earlier during the day from Benson since he had nothing left for Jamie to sign. Thanks again Benson and Alex.

Next up was Derek Holland and Scott Feldman who both walked out together. Derek and Scott initially denied autograph requests when they were coming into the event but Scott promised to sign after the event. True to his word Scott signed a photo for me and Derek stopped and signed strictly 1 per for each fan.

The last group to walk out were Michael Young, Vernon Wells and Jered Weaver. Weaver denied all autograph requests and ignored everyone as expected. Vernon and Michael signed for fans again. I wish I brought more stuff for Vernon but I ended up getting everything signed earlier so I had Michael Young sign a card for me.

Overall it was a great experience even though I wish it was low key like last year.

Antawn Jamison Signing Walmart West Covina 1-26-13

Although I was extremely tired after Dodger Fanfest I decided to go to the Antawn Jamison signing at the Grand Opening of Walmart in West Covina. I got a last minute tip from my buddy Alex that Antawn was signing from 3-5pm at Walmart the same day as Dodger Fanfest. Since there were so many signings going on today I figured there wouldn't be that many people showing up to this event. I didn't even plan to attend this signing so I didn't come prepared with photos and basketballs like I normally would.

Luckily there was Dicks Sporting Goods store next to Walmart so I picked up a basketball from there. I arrived at the Jamison signing around 4pm and I noticed there were only about 60 people waiting in line. Normally for any Laker signing there would be at least 300 fans waiting if not more even for scrubs on the team like Steve Blake or Devin Ebanks. Antawn is no scrub since he was a 2 time all star and the 6th man of the year.

When I arrived I ran into Matt who told me the bad news about Superfest and that Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell didn't sign but left early. I felt bad about telling Matt how great Dodger Fanfest was and how all the graphers did well today. You can read about his post about Superfest on his blog. Don't worry too much Matt since we all know you will make up for this bad day at Spring Training this year.

I also ran into my friend Spencer, Eric, and Jordan who all decided to hit up the Jamison signing after Dodger Fanfest. Great minds think alike. We all figured that this signing was going to be easy and indeed it was. Jamison was signing multiple items for fans and was nice enough to pose for photos as well.

I ended up getting Antawn to sign my basketball. He was nice enough to inscribe "4th Pick Overall" on my basketball.

I also ended up getting Dwyane Wade's autograph today as well. Wade wasn't at signing but I ran into my friend Mike who had an extra signed copy of Dwyane Wade's new book. He was nice enough to trade me the book for two ROMLBs. Thanks Mike

Overall the Antawn Jamison was an awesome signing with no stress of camping out and waiting in line too long. Everything was well organized so I want to thank the staff of Walmart in West Covina for running such a well organized event.

Super Saturday Dodger Fanfest 1-26-13

This past weekend was a weekend filled with autographing opportunities in Southern California. On Saturday there was Superfest in San Diego which featured Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Hundley, Dodger Fanfest at Dodger Stadium, and the Antawn Jamison signing at Walmart. Weeks prior to each event I was debating with my friends whether to go to Superfest in San Diego to get Adrian Gonzalez or rolling the dice and trying my luck at Dodger Fanfest. Another factor was the weather since the forecast projected that it would rain all weekend. I figured if I went to Superfest i'd get at least one autograph from Adrian Gonzalez but when I saw the autograph list for Dodger Fanfest it was too difficult to pass up. Greinke, McGwire, Ryu, Kemp, Mattingly, Ethier, Fernando, and Lasorada were all scheduled to sign thus it was a no brainer that regardless of the weather and the risk you had to go to Dodger Fanfest. Luckily I made the correct choice as I later found out Adrian didn't sign at all and left Superfest early to attend a wedding.

On Friday I decided to hit up Dodger Fanfest after they released the time schedule for each player signing. My goal was to get Mark McGwire, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke who in my opinion is one of the toughest guys to get autographs from in person due to his social anxiety disorder. Each  player was signing at two separate one hour slots so I figured i'd at least be able to get one of them if I tried and got lucky. Here is a pic of the autograph schedule below.

I decided to meet up my friends Alex and Jesse at Dodger Stadium at around 8:30am. When I arrived there were already about a 1,000 fans waiting inside the stadium near the ticketing booths. Today was also the first day regular season tickets were being sold at the stadium so it drew a huge crowd of Dodger fans waiting to buy Opening Day tickets. The sheer number of people was quite intimidating since I knew i'd have to compete with these guys at fanfest for autographs.

It started to sprinkle a bit so I hid underneath the tents as I was waiting for my friends to arrive. Fanfest was scheduled to start at 11am but season ticket holders were able to enter Dodger Fanfest at 10:30am. Luckily I had Alex with me who hooked me up with his MVP passes from last year. The rules for each hour of autograph signings was that you needed a specific colored wristband for each individual player. Therefore if you didn't have that particular wristband then you were out of luck. If you had the MVP pass you can basically get anyone's autograph without a wristband. Plus you were able to enter Fanfest half and hour early prior to the general public. Therefore it was a huge advantage to have an MVP pass today.

By 10:30 there were already over 5,000 fans in line trying to get inside. Since we had our passes we were admitted early. Upon entering Dodger Fanfest we were given a signed Magic Johnson Dodger Logo ball. Later on I heard only the first 100 people who entered Dodger fanfest got this promotional item for free.

Thus I was already up one autograph. This was indeed a nice gesture by the Dodger organization. I love the new ownership and am happy that Magic is now one of the owners. I also want to thank Alex since if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have ended up with a free signed Magic Johnson baseball and all of the autographs I was able to get today.

When we entered Fanfest we noticed that there were 8 individual autograph lines. We had no clue who would be signing at each station so we asked a staff member of the Dodgers if she knew which specific player would be signing at each autograph line. She initially told us that McGwire was signing in the second line and pointed to line 6 which was technically the second line to the right of her since she was standing between lines 4 and 5. We all ended up waiting in line 5. Then I got a call from my buddy Tyler that the lady was confused and McGwire would be signing in line 2 and Zack Greinke would be signing in line 1. Thus we ran over to line 2 and waited patiently for Mark McGwire to arrive.

Initially Tim Wallach was about to sign in line 2 so we were all bummed but he was lost and ended up signing in line 4 instead. What a relief. No disrespect to Tim Wallach but we were all waiting for McGwire. Later on McGwire did indeed show up and started signing away. My goal today was to get a bat signed by Mark McGwire. Even though Mark admitted to steroid use and PEDs he is a legend and was still one of my favorite players growing up back when he was part of the Bash Brothers with Jose Canseco. I always wanted to add his autograph to my collection.

While I was in line I noticed that a fan, who I later on found out was named Miguel, standing behind me in line was with his son who had nothing for Mark to sign. I asked Miguel if his son was getting anything signed and he said he wasn't so I asked him politely if he could get a baseball signed for me. Miguel agreed. Miguel was getting a BP baseball signed by Mark so I offered him a clean new ROMLB as a gesture to thank him for his kindness. However Miguel declined saying he just wanted his baseball signed.

When it was my turn to get Mark's autograph it was a bit intimidating to meet him since I heard from other graphers that he wasn't fan friendly. Plus I also heard he didn't like signing bats either. Surprisingly Mark was cordial and was in a good mood today. I had no problems getting my bat signed. Later on from my other graphing buddies I found out that Mark even inscribed today and was giving his ROY inscriptions as well. I was just too afraid to ask and was happy to get his autograph without the inscriptions.

After Miguel got a ball signed for me I noticed that Mark side panelled my baseball.  I guess he forgot to ask for the sweetspot. Luckily he signed it underneath the MLB logo. I can't complain, any Mark McGwire autograph is good for me especially since it was free. Thanks again Miguel for helping me out today.

So far it was an awesome start to the day. One Magic Johnson autograph and two Mark McGwire autographs. I could have already left the event and would have been happy camper. After getting our autographs we ended up getting in the Zack Greinke line. Here is a picture of David A. and Matt C. waiting patiently in line with me. David is a Dodger Stadium regular and is a legend when it comes to getting cards signed. Matt C is the king of getting game used items ie gloves and bats from mlb players and is a regular grapher at Angel Stadium. If any of my readers run into them feel free to say hi.

Greinke was quiet and shy as expected and didn't interact with fans that much. Here is a picture of me after I got my baseball signed and Zack looking the other way as we were posing for photos. Epic fail but thanks again for taking the photo for me David A.

After getting McGwire and Greinke the first hour was over so now it was group 2 of the autograph sessions to start. We noticed that the Dodgers basically went in order based on the list when designating each player to each autograph station. Thus we knew that Matt Kemp would be in line 3 and we headed straight for line 3. I brought two Matt Kemp Authentic Jerseys with me; the home white and the Brooklyn baby blue one they wore a few years ago. My goal was to get at least one of them signed today.

While we were in line I noticed that a lot of fans were being turned away since they didn't have wristbands for a particular player which was unfortunate since they were waiting in line for hours for nothing. I felt bad for them but they should have read the autograph rules the Dodgers posted. Luckily again the MVP passes saved us a lot of time since we didn't have to go back and forth in line to get a wristband for each player.

Matt was awesome as usual and signed my Authentic Home White Kemp jersey for me.

Even though I own a ton of signed Kemp memorabilia I can't get enough. He is one of my favorite baseball players since he is such a nice guy off the field as well. I hope I can get my Brooklyn Kemp jersey signed one day.

What was great about Fanfest was that the casual fans were ignoring a lot of great graphing opportunities. Partly because the wristband rule but also because due to the lack of interest and lack of preparation. Everyone was trying to get the top players such as Greinke, McGwire, Mattingly, Kemp, Fernando, and Lasorda so the lines for the role players were short. I took full advantage of this. I decided to get Shawn Tolleson to sign my Loons photo.

I was also able to get Javy Guerra to sign a photo for me as well. Later on during the day I got Guerra to sign a card for me as well which is shown next to the signed photo.

My friend Rob helped me as well. He was chilling with his brother Alex in the Mark Ellis line and had nothing for him to sign so he helped me get my Mark Ellis photo signed. Thanks Rob.

According to Rob, Mark gave him a funny look after seeing Rob's huge Angels tattoo on his forearm. Mark knew Rob was an Angels fan but was still nice enough to sign for him.

Afterwards we got back in line for Mark McGwire's second autograph session which was from 1pm-2pm. I wanted to get McGwire's autograph on a baseball myself but this time on the sweetspot. I was in line with my friend Tyler who helped me get an extra baseball signed. Thanks again Tyler. Here are both McGwire baseballs signed on the sweetspot and a pic of all three signed McGwire baseballs.

Again McGwire was cool with the fans, shaking their hands after signing and also even testing out deco pens on scratch paper just to make sure their autographs came out nicely. Here is a pic of McGwire shaking hands with my friend Andy H. and him testing a deco out on scratch paper for a fan prior to signing his mini helmet.

Next up was AJ Ellis who is notoriously tough to get at Dodger Stadium. For some reason he was one of the tougher guys to get last year along with Juan Uribe. From the two encounters i've had with him he was nice as can be. When I presented AJ with my photo for him to sign he had a smile on his face since it was his photo from his walk off homerun game vs the Astros. Jokingly he told me that his teammates mobbed him after his single in the 3rd inning. He asked me if i'd like it personalized to me and of course I obliged. AJ was nice enough to inscribe "Game Winner" on the photo as well.

After getting AJ Ellis' autograph I decided to go straight to the Matt Guerrier line and the Tim Federowicz line since nobody was there. I took me less than 5 minutes to get each autograph.

The next autograph I wanted was Hyun-Jin Ryu. I've been wanting his autograph for quite some time now ever since he signed with the Dodgers. As everyone knows by now I collect Asian MLB player autographs especially Korean players so Ryu was on my wish list for quite some time. I headed straight toward the Ryu line since this was his last autograph session of the day. While waiting in line I noticed that one diehard fan had the best item of the day which was Ryu's baseball jersey from Korea.

I need to call one of my relatives in Korea one day to ship that jersey over to the states for me. I need one signed as well. I took some photos of Ryu as he was entering the autograph tent.

Here is a picture of my friend Tyler getting Ryu to sign a photo for him.

When it was my turn to get his autograph I asked Ryu in Korean to sign my baseball in Korean. I don't know if he didn't hear me or if he just ignored my request but he ended up signing the baseball in English on the sweetspot instead. I guess I need to get my dad to get me Ryu's autograph in Korean next time.

These two photos below just gives you an idea how crowded Dodger Fanfest was especially near the autograph lines. I heard about 25,000 fans showed up.

Afterwards Tyler and I ended up going to the Kenley Jansen line and I got Kenley to sign a photo for me.

The last autograph for me at Dodger Fanfest was from Brandon League who signed a photo for me as well.

By this point of the day it was almost 3pm. No lunch break and I was in line all day so I was extremely tired. I was happy with my results so I decided to leave early since I wanted to catch the tail end of the Antawn Jamison signing at Walmart in West Covina.

I want to give a shout out to all of my graphing buddies including Alex, Jesse, Tyler, Larry, David A, Matt C, Spencer, Jose, Jordan, Alex G, Rob, Josh, and all the new graphers i've met who follow my blog. Dodger Fanfest was one of the best graphing days ever.