Now that I’m home, I’m re-capping my entire spring training trip. I had a lot of fun and did well in terms of autographs this year. I ended up with 634 autographs (565 cards, 64 balls, 2 hats, 1 jersey, 1 magazine, and 1 mini Gold Glove Award). Below are my opinions of some of the highs and lows of Spring Training in 2010.
My favorite signed items:
1. Al Kaline on a mini Gold Glove Award and a Gold Glove ball
2. Adam Dunn on an authentic Cincinnati Reds jersey
3. Brian McCann & Jeremy Guthrie on authentic Team USA WBC hats
4. Jeff Bagwell & Lance Berkman on Rawlings Official Major League Baseballs (ROMLB)
5. Stephen Strasburg on a ROMLB
6. Justin Verlander on a Sports Illustrated
7. Josh Johnson on a jersey patch card
8. Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller dual-signed on a Topps 1952 rookie card
9. Yadier Molina on a 2006 World Series Ball
10. Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry on a dual-signed card
11. Cameron Maybin on a jersey and an x-fractor card
12. Tony Sanchez on a ROMLB and a card
13. Michael Bourn on two numbered Upper Deck Elements rookie cards
14. Mike Stanton on a card numbered 7/100 (I also got him on 2 ROMLB’s, but the card looks sweet)
15. (tie) Chia-Jen Lo on a ROMLB
15. (tie) Jorge Cantu on a jersey card
1. Dave Collins- He is a new coach with the Florida Marlins this year. I loved watching him work with the young kids on bunting and base running. He is one of the most enthusiastic coaches I’ve ever seen at the major league level. He even took some time when he was done coaching the players to coach up the fans a bit!
2. Scott Olsen- Told us some great stories about the abuse Stephen Strasburg is taking from the veteran players!
3. Burke Badenhop- Burke loved my West Michigan Whitecaps hat and chatted with me for quite a while about his days in Grand Rapids.
4. Justin Maxwell- This was the first time I met Justin and I was impressed with his kindness. He was a willing signer and also seemed to really enjoy interacting with the fans.
5. J.R. Towles- He’s always friendly and a willing signer. I hope that he can finally play as well at the major league level as he has in the minors this year.
6. Brandon Inge- He is a fan favorite in Detroit and he consistently returns the love to the fans. On two separate occasions this spring, I saw him stay and sign autographs until he had signed for EVERYONE that wanted one.
7. Joel Hanrahan- Loves to sign and chat with fans.
8. Tony Sanchez- This kid seems truly happy to be in big league camp. He always seems happy and is a great signer.
9. Mike Stanton- Great prospect and a really nice kid.
10. Cameron Maybin- What?! Really? Yes, Cameron must have had some kind of attitude adjustment this winter and was a very pleasant kid this spring. It was a stark contrast to the personality that I had experienced when I met him before. His autograph improved significantly, as well!
1. Chris Duncan- Seems to think he’s still a superstar…wait a second-he never was a superstar! He almost always completely ignores the fans…
2. Stephen Strasburg- He came over and signed a few autographs on the day I was at Washington’s camp, but man he really seemed to hate it. This kid will be a tough autograph in the years to come.
3. Al Kaline- God knows I love Al Kaline…he’s Mr. Tiger and he’s a great signer…but would it kill him to smile once in a while? He won’t acknowledge fans at all when he signs. Everyone says thank you and Al just keeps his head down, signs, and ignores everyone.
4. Clete Thomas- I didn’t even bother asking him for an autograph, because I’ve never seen him sign. I did watch fans at the Tigers’ camp call him for 2 straight days and watched Clete ignore them for 2 straight days. He’s not very good and he’s not very fan-friendly, either!
5. Jeff Clement- Okay, he did sign and he’s not THAT bad, but he does have a touch of superstar syndrome. When asked to sweet spot a baseball, he just ignored the request and side paneled it. Dude, if your answer is “no” to a sweet spot, I really don’t want to waste a ball on your signature. Couldn’t you please just say “no, I don’t sign there” and hand it back to me?
These aren’t necessarily the award winners for best penmanship, it’s just a list of guys that have cool-looking signatures!
1. Jeff Keppinger- This guy has one of the best signatures ever!
2. Chia-Jen Lo- You’ve got to love asian characters going vertically on a sweet spot!
3. Jesus Flores-Nice signature, and a bit artistic, too.
4. Jose Tabata- As usual, he has a nice-looking sig
5. Taylor Tankersly- Proof that a signature doesn’t have to be legible to look cool. I’m not sure what the hell it’s supposed to say, but it is quite artistic.
6. Omar Infante
7. Logan Morrison
8. Zach Duke
9. Scott Sizemore
10. Scott Cousins
11. Jake Arietta
12. Miguel Batista
1. Jason Heyward- This thing has really degraded over the last year. What is it?
2. Jose Valverde- Scribble circle?
3. Dontrelle Willis- Scribble scribble?
4. Matt Dominguez- What the hell? Is that an EKG reading?
5. Daniel Schlereth- D line S line. Nice guy, but terrible sig.
6. Colin Balester- C B…sort of
7. Brian Esposito- I don’t know what it is…but it matches his facsimile autograph on the card, which is nice.
8. Seth McClung- Awful.
9. Ricky Nolasco- See McClung.
10. Hayden Penn- What is that supposed to be?
1. J.R. Towles
2. Daniel Schlereth
3. Vinny Rottino
4. Brandon Inge
5. Shairon Martis
6. Tony Sanchez
7. Andrew Miller
8. Chris Tillman
9. Hector Gimenez
10. Chris Volstad
Toughest signers (at least for me):
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Albert Pujols
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Koji Uehara
5. Chris Duncan