Getting Autographs at the Midwest League All Star Game in Fort Wayne, IN

BY: T.C.

I made the 3 hour drive down to Fort Wayne for the Midwest League All Star Game & festivities on June 22nd with a friend of mine. When we arrived, we went to the Fan Fest that was held across the street from Parkview Field (home field of the Fort Wayne Tin Caps). Each team came out and signed autographs for an hour. This gave us just enough time to get through each player’s autograph line. Most of the players signed anything you put in front of them. A couple of guys limited it to 2 or 3 (Jake Odorizzi, Chris Owings, and Jerry Sullivan), but it was pretty easy to make it through the line to get everything I had signed. For some of the players, I had a ton of cards, so I had to get them to sign over at the field before the game, as well. All in all, it was a great experience autograph-wise. I got 355 autographs in one day, which is a personal record! I’d highly recommend attending a minor league all star game if you really want to rack out the autographs of some top prospects. Check below for what I ended up with:

Matt Adams x8 Cards
Charles Brewer x2 Cards
Nick Bucci x2 Cards
Vinnie Catricala x2 Cards
Matt Cerda x7 Cards
Chun Chen x2 Cards
Chun Chen x2 Cards
Alexander Colome x16 Cards
Matt Davidson x10 Cards
Khris Davis x4 Cards
Khris Davis x1 RMLB with “HR Derby Champ” inscription
Eric Fornataro x2 Cards
Nick Franklin x18 Cards
Nick Franklin x1 ROMLB
Nate Freiman x7 Cards
Scooter Gennett x2 Cards
Bo Greenwell x7 Cards
Casey Haerther x2 Cards
Aaron Hicks x13 Cards
Aaron Hicks x1 ROMLB
Anderson Hidalgo x2 Cards
Kane Holbrooks x2 Cards
D’Marcus Ingram x3 Cards
Mike Kenney x1 Cards
Ian Krol x7 Cards
Christian Lara x2 Cards
Hak-Ju Lee x16 Cards
Aaron Loup x4 Cards
Carlos Martinez x2 Cards
Fabio Martinez x2 Cards
Trey McNutt x2 Cards
Miles Mikolas x2 Cards
Brian Moran x10 Cards
Chris Murill x2 Cards
Will Myers x9 Cards
Jake Odorizzi x7 Cards
Chris Owings x9 Cards
Bryan Paukovits x3 Cards
Danny Payne x6 Cards
Erasmo Ramirez x2 Cards
Omar Ramirez x2 Cards
Garrett Richards x8 Cards
Henry Rodriguez x2 Cards
Wilking Rodriguez x6 Cards
Tyler Sample x6 Cards
Jerry Sands x4 Cards
Nick Sarianides x2 Cards
Will Savage x4 Cards
Ryan Schimpf x4 Cards
Nick Schumacher x4 Cards
Jean Segura x7 Cards
Tyler Skaggs x10 Cards
Tyler Skaggs x1 RMLB
Eric Smith x7 Cards
Angelo Songco x4 Cards
Giovanni Soto x4 Cards
Max Stassi x14 Cards
Jerry Sullivan x6 Cards
Tom Tornincasa x4 Cards
Mike Trout x14 Cards
Mike Trout x2 ROMLB
Mike Trout x1 RMLB
Mike Trout x1 Ticket Stub
Jacob Turner x8 Cards
Jacob Turner x2 RMLB
Jacob Turner x1 ROMLB
Jeudy Valdez x4 Cards
Luis Vasquez x2 Cards
Logan Watkins x13 Cards
Allen Webster x6 Cards
Rafael Ynoa x2 Cards


Best and Worst of Spring Training 2010

BY: T.C.

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

Best personalities:
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!

Worst personalities:
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?

Best-looking autographs:
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

Ugliest autographs:
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?

Best signers:
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

Getting Autographs at Detroit Tigers Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

I went to see the Tigers twice during spring training this year. Once was with my wife and my niece (who even got their pictures in the Detroit news), and once on my own.

I got pretty lucky this year because my niece was getting a giant baseball signed, which seemed to attract a lot of players! Between the two trips, here is what I came away with:

Alex Avila x 1 Ball
Alex Avila x 1 Card
Rafael Belliard x 1 Card
Brennan Boesch x 2 Cards
Tom Brookens x 1 Card
Kory Casto x 2 Cards
Phil Coke x 1 Card
Brent Dlugach x 1 Card
Dave Dombrowski x 1 Ball
Brandon Inge x 6 Cards
Austin Jackson x 1 Ball
Al Kaline x 3 Balls
Al Kaline x 1 mini Gold Glove
Donnie Kelly x 1 Ball
Donnie Kelly x 2 Cards
Gene Lamont x 2 Cards
Jim Leyland x 1 Card
Andrew Oliver x 1 Card
Ryan Perry x 2 Cards
Ramon Santiago x 1 Card
Jay Sborz x 3 Cards
Daniel Schlereth x 9 Cards
Scott Sizemore x 1 Ball
Ryan Strieby x 1 Ball
Ryan Strieby x 1 Card
Jacob Turner x 2 Cards
Jose Valverde x 1 Ball
Justin Verlander x 1 Sports Illustrated
Casper Wells x 1 Ball
Dontrelle Willis x 1 Card
Joel Zumaya x 1 Ball

Totals: 40 cards + 12 balls + 1 Sports Illustrated + 1 mini Gold Glove = 54 total autographs

Getting Autographs at Atlanta Braves & Houston Astros Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

I decided to split one day of ‘graphing between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros. The Braves are a pretty good team to do early in the morning as players arrive at the stadium. I got there at around 7:30 am and managed to do fairly well in only a couple of hours. Here is what I got:

Brent Clevlen x 2 Cards
Brooks Conrad x 1 Card
Jason Heyward x 4 Cards
Eric Hinske x 2 Cards
Omar Infante x 3 Cards
Mitch Jones x 1 Cards
Brian McCann x 1 Hat
Nate McLouth x 1 Gold Glove Ball
Nate McLouth x 1 Card
David Ross x 1 Card
Clint Sammons x 3 Cards
Joe Thurston x 1 Card
Jonathan Venters x 3 Cards

Totals: 22 cards + 1 ball + 1 WBC Team USA hat = 24 total autographs

At about 9:30, I joined a couple of other ‘graphers and headed 1/2 hour down the road to the Astros camp. I arrived about half way through practice and was able to get quit a few signatures before practice ended. I also hung around for awhile and was able to get some of the guys on their way out of the parking lot…including Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman! I couldn’t believe that those 2 guys both stopped for the 8-10 ‘graphers that were there! (Berkman is not known as a guy that would typically stop his car and sign for fans.) Here are my totals for the Astros camp:

Brad Arnsberg x 3 Cards
Jeff Bagwell x 1 Ball
Lance Berkman x 1 Ball
Jason Bourgeois x 1 Card
Michael Bourn x 2 Cards
Jason Castro x 1 Ball
Jason Castro x 2 Cards
Evan Englebrook x 3 Cards
Brian Esposito x 3 Cards
Pedro Feliz x 1 Card
Chris Johnson x 5 Cards
Jeff Keppinger x 2 Cards
Matt Lindstrom x 1 Card
Chia-Jen Lo x 1 Ball
Shane Loux x 1 Card
Gary Majewski x 1 Card
Tommy Manzella x 5 Cards
Edwin Maysonet x 6 Cards
Drayton McLane x 1 Card
Bobby Meachem x 2 Cards
Brad Mills x 1 Card
Brian Moehler x 3 Cards
Bud Norris x 5 Cards
Felipe Paulino x 5 Cards
Hunter Pence x 1 Ball
Humberto Quintero x 1 Card
Jamie Quirk x 3 Cards
Lou Santangelo x 1 Card
Wladmir Sutil x 1 Card
J.R. Towles x 8 Cards
Polin Trinidad x 5 Cards

Totals: 72 cards + 5 balls = 77 total autographs

Getting Autographs at Washington Nationals Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

Before this year, I had never been to the Nationals spring training camp in Viera, FL. I arrived on February 24th pretty early in the morning to a very soggy training camp. It had been raining all night and continued to rain through the morning. The team decided not to hit the practice fields, but to hold training inside of the main stadium. I’ve heard that during a normal training session, you can get lots of autographs before practice as players go out to the fields, as well as after practice when they head back to the clubhouse. Of course, on this particular day fans had no access to the workouts because they had the stadium locked up. We were stuck watching from a gated fence. Autographs were limited to players going from the clubhouse to the players parking lot. On their way to the parking lot, there is a fence that autograph seekers stand behind that is about 20 feet from the path the players take to the lot. People call players over, and most of them come and sign. I didn’t have a great experience at the training camp on this particular day (it was very boring standing behind a fence all day), but I did still get quite a few autographs. Here is what I ended up with:

Collin Balester x 6 Cards
Miguel Batista x 3 Cards
Brian Bruney x 6 Cards
Eric Bruntlett x 3 Cards
Sean Burnett x 3 Cards
Matt Chico x 6 Cards
Tyler Clippard x 3 Cards
Ian Desmond x 1 Card
Ross Detwiler x 3 Cards
Adam Dunn x 1 Jersey
Jesse English x 1 Card
Jesus Flores x 2 Cards
Willie Harris x 2 Cards
Logan Kensing x 6 Cards
John Lannan x 1 Card
Jason Marquis x 1 Ball
Shairon Martis x 8 Cards
Justin Maxwell x 5 Cards
Kevin Mench x 6 Cards
Garrett Mock x 3 Cards
Nyjer Morgan x 2 Cards
Mike Morse x 5 Cards
Derrick Norris x 6 Cards
Scott Olsen x 6 Cards
Pete Orr x 2 Cards
Jerry Owens x 6 Cards
Brian Peacock x 1 Ball
Doug Slaten x 6 Cards
Ryan Speier x 1 Card
Craig Stammen x 1 Card
Drew Storen x 3 Cards
Drew Storen x 1 Ball
Stephen Strasburg x 1 Ball
Ron Villone x 1 Card
Tyler Walker x 3 Cards
Jordan Zimmerman x 1 Card

Totals: 111 cards + 4 balls + 1 Jersey = 116 total autographs

Getting Autographs at Florida Marlins Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

Although the Marlins and Cardinals practice fields are separated by only a few hundred feet in Jupiter, FL, the experiences of collecting autographs at the two camps couldn’t be any different. While it’s nearly impossible to get autographs at the Cardinals camp, it is extremely easy to get signatures at the Marlins camp. The Marlins practice fields are nice and open, and you can even walk with some of the players as they move from field to field. The experience reminded me of how spring training used to be in the 1980’s…which is a good thing!

Before and after practice is also a good time to get players to sign as the go back and forth between the player parking lot and the clubhouse. See the diagram below for good spots.

I spent about a day and a half at the Marlins’ camp and had tremendous success collecting autographs. Here is what I got signed:

Burke Badenhop x 6 Cards
Brian Barden x 5 Cards
Emilio Bonifacio x 1 Card
Jay Buente x 1 Card
Jorge Cantu x 5 Cards
Brett Carroll x 2 Cards
Jose Ceda x 6 Cards
Chris Coghlan x 1 Ball
Dave Collins x 5 Cards
Jeff Conine x 1 Card
Chris Coughlan x 2 Cards
Scott Cousins x 6 Cards
Bradley Davis x 2 Cards
Matt Dominguez x 1 Card
Matt Dominguez x 1 Ball
Fredi Gonzalez x 4 Cards
Kris Harvey x 2 Cards
Wes Helms x 2 Cards
Dan Jennings x 1 Card
Josh Johnson x 1 Card
Josh Johnson x 1 Ball
Hunter Jones x 3 Cards
Mike Lamb x 4 Cards
Osvaldo Martinez x 1 Ball
Cameron Maybin x 6 Cards
Cameron Maybin x 1 Ball
Seth McClung x 6 Cards
Dan Meyer x 1 Card
Andrew Miller x 8 Cards
Logan Morrison x 4 Cards
Logan Morrison x 1 Ball
Ricky Nolasco x 6 Cards
Leo Nunez x 2 Cards
Hayden Penn x 5 Cards
Bryan Petersen x 5 Cards
Renyel Pinto x 6 Cards
Danny Richar x 2 Cards
Cody Ross x 2 Cards
Vinny Rottino x 9 Cards
Brian Sanches x 5 Cards
Gaby Sanchez x 4 Cards
Anibal Sanchez x 1 Card
Randy St. Claire x 4 Cards
Mike Stanton x 5 Cards
Mike Stanton x 2 Balls
Taylor Tankersley x 7 Cards
Ryan Tucker x 2 Cards
Derrick Turnbow x 6 Cards
Dan Uggla x 1 Card
Dan Uggla x 1 Ball
Chris Volstad x 6 Cards
Sean West x 6 Cards
Tim Wood x 6 Cards

Totals: 9 balls + 175 cards = 184 total autographs…NICE!

Getting Autographs at St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

I arrived at the Cardinals camp on Monday, February 22nd at about 8:30 am. They “officially” open the gates to fans at around 9 am each day to watch workouts. To be completely blunt, attending a workout at this camp is the biggest waste of time an autograph collector could engage in. There is very limited access to the players. In 2 hours at the Cardinals camp, I managed to get 2 autographs. One was Skip Schumaker, which I had to fight a mob for. The other was Dave McKay on a card that I happened to have. Mark McGwire signed, but there was a throng of about 50 people fighting to get close to him. Screw that. 2 ‘graphs in 2 hours is not my idea of a good time! I ended up leaving at about 11 am to head to the Marlins’ camp next door (this will be the subject of a separate post). After I went to the Marlins camp, I swung back by the Cardinals camp to try to get a few players as they left the player parking lot. I used the same strategy on Tuesday, as well–Go to the Marlins early and load up on autographs, then head to the Cardinals parking lot. I was fortunate enough outside the Cardinals parking lot to get Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday, so that was at least some consolation. My advice to any autograph collector would be the same, though…unless it’s fun for you to spend 4-5 hours getting 4-5 autographs, spend the vast majority of your time somewhere else! A diagram of the facility and places to seek autographs is below.

Here is what I ended up with during 2 hours inside the Cardinals practice facility and two afternoons outside the players parking lot:

Matt Holliday x 1 Ball
Mike Matheny x 1 Ball
Dave McKay x 1 Card
Yadier Molina x 1 2006 World Series Ball
Matt Pagnozzi x 1 Card
Skip Schumaker x 1 Ball

Totals: 4 balls + 2 cards = 6 autographs…BRUTAL!