The first player to sign pregame was Austin Romine who signed two cards for me.
When we entered the stadium there wasn't much action going on as only the Angels had BP and the Yankees didn't since it was an afternoon game. I ran into a Yankee fan who caught one of the two gold HR balls that Robinson Cano hit at the HR Derby in Arizona in 2011. He let me take a few photos of the ball.
He had a large sign made for Robinson Cano hoping to attract his attention to get the ball signed. Unfortunately Robinson didn't pick up a pen this weekend.
I ran into my buddy Kyle who had a painting for Mariano to sign. Great work as usual Kyle.
While waiting for Mariano both Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda were warming up in the outfield. Afterwards Hughes signed two cards for me and Kuroda signed my ROMLB on the SS in English.
Getting Kuroda's autograph was a big deal to me today since I still needed to get him to sign in English on the SS. I got him before at Dodger Stadium a few years ago in Japanese on the SS but he side panelled my English ball. Now I have a complete collection of Kuroda in both English and Japanese. It's always a good day whenever I add an Asian MLB player's autograph into my collection.
If anyone wants a side panel Kuroda ball for trade let me know.
I plan on compiling a list of all my side panel balls and trade them for clean ROMLBs this year so keep an eye out for that. The trades only apply to graphers that I run into at Angel or Dodger Stadium since I don't want to deal with shipping and deciding on who sends first and whatnot.
Afterwards we were all waiting for Mariano. He was conducting a lot of interviews in the dugout and after the interviews he went back inside the clubhouse. We were all upset when he went inside the clubhouse since we didn't think he was going to come out and warm up.
Surprisingly Mariano came back out and was warming up in the outfield.
The first photo above shows my friend Alex unintentionally photobombing my Mariano picture.
Soon afterwards Mariano began to sign and chaos ensued as expected. The photos below shows how crazy it became.
I was able to get Mariano to sign two baseballs for me today. Mariano initially ran with a black pen that some random fan gave to him. The first ball was a regular ROMLB signed on the sweetspot in black pen.
I was stoked to finally add Mariano's autograph to my collection. I wasn't done yet though. My initial goal was to get a HOF ball signed by him but I was worried he might hand it back since a lot of players won't sign HOF balls until they are actually inducted. I figured since the atmosphere was chaotic I might as well give it a shot since I already secured one autograph from Mariano today. The worst that could happen is that he flips the ball back to me. Soon afterwards I noticed he switched to a blue pen so I handed him my HOF ball immediately and he signed it right across the sweetspot.
It got really chaotic as people were pushing and shoving trying to get to Mariano. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Mariano literally signed for about 20 minutes and went down the line to make sure everyone got is autograph. He is definitely a class act. This day reminded me of the day when I got Derek Jeter's autograph last year at Memorial Day.
After the signing ended all of the regulars met up and it looked like everyone got their items signed and some were able to get multiple items signed like I did. Kyle ended up getting his paiting signed.
I realized that my buddy Benson missed out since Mariano kept on skipping him over. During the chaos you couldn't tell who was getting what since there was a lot of competition. I decided to trade my extra Mariano ball for a new ROMLB with Benson. Benson was kind enough to upgrade it and give me an HOF ROMLB instead.
Afterwards we went to our seats to watch the game. Prior to the game the Angels awarded Mariano Rivera with a life sized painting.
The picture below shows the painting in better detail courtesy of Getty Images.
While we were sitting in our seats I took a ton of photos of the Mariano baseballs.
And took several more at home. I took a photo of the Mariano ball next to my Jeter ball which means I need to one day add Posada and Pettite to the collection to complete the Core Four. I also took a photo of the Mariano ball next to my Trevor Hoffman ball as well. Two of the top closers in MLB history.
We decided to stay for the entire game as the Halos ended up beating the Yankees 6-2.
Since we were already at the stadium Benson and I decided to do some postgame graphing. Benson still needed to get his Vernon Wells Angels Game Jersey signed. We waited for Vernon but there was no action. I decided to go check out the Angels parking lot instead.
I always do poorly when graphing the Angels so I didn't expect much. The first player to sign as he was leaving was Ernesto Frieri who signed 3 cards for me.
Ernesto is a class act as well. He made sure that everyone who waited got an autograph even though his family members were waiting for him.
Afterwards I decided to head back to check if Benson got Vernon's autograph. On my way back I noticed an excited little kid asking CJ Wilson for an autograph. There was practically nobody there besides me and the excited kid. The kid kept on calling CJ's name and CJ told him to be quiet so he won't attract a crowd. Luckily we didn't draw anymore attention as CJ signed 3 cards for me after signing a baseball for that excited kid. What's weird is that I had an CJ drought too since I haven't gotten his autograph since he played for the Rangers. I just wish I brought my CJ photos from home that were still unsigned. It was still nice though to end the CJ drought.
I walked back to check if Vernon signed for Benson. Vernon still didn't come out so I didn't miss him. Eventually he walked out and signed Benson's jersey and signed four cards for me.
Overall it was another fantastic memorable day of graphing at Angel Stadium.