2008 Florida Spring Training Tour, Day 3 (Detroit Tigers)

By: T.C.

Day 3 took me to Lakeland to see my beloved Tigers.  The last time I was in Lakeland was when I was a little kid about 20 years ago.  I remember it being very easy to get autographs, as the players parked in the same parking lot as everyone else.  Nowadays, there are still a few of the players that park in the “public” lot, but most of the superstars park behind locked gates, away from the fans.  Curtis Granderson is the only player that still parks out with the “peasants.”  He is a great kid, and signs everything that people hand him every day on his way in and on his way out.  Aside from Granderson, Lakeland has become a pretty miserable place for getting autographs.  My recommendation to folks is that if you aren’t a big Tiger fan or if you are mainly looking for ‘graphs of stars, you shouldn’t waste your time in Lakeland. 

As the team has gotten better, the access to the players has gotten worse (both in Detroit and in Lakeland).  During practices, there is only one small roped-off area that people can go to get autographs.  The only other opportunity is to get the players as they drive away (some of them might stop to sign), or as they come out of the clubhouse (if they are parked in the public lot).  See the image below for details.

Tigers ST

When I was there, I did see some of the superstars sign (Verlander, Guillen, and Cabrera).  However, the crowd of people made it very difficult to get them.  There was a lot of pushing and shoving, and some very aggressive dealers began pushing folks out of the way to get to the players.  Every time this happened, the players noticed it and walked away.  I really don’t understand this type of behavior by the dealer-types.  Of all people, they should understand autograph etiquette.  Thank God that I don’t have to sell my ‘graphs to put food on my table.  I can’t imagine destroying the experience of others out of my own greed.  It is truly sad.  OK, off the soapbox…

I mainly focused on some of the prospects that I needed, and I did fairly well with them.  Luckily, they often came off the fields with some of the stars.  This made it very easy to call them over.  Usually, they looked surprised that someone even knew who they were.   Here is my haul for the day:

  • Tom Brookens, 1 card
  • Gene Lamont, 1 card
  • Chris Lambert, 3 cards
  • Todd Jones, 2 cards, 1 RMLB
  • Brandon Inge, 4 cards, 1 RMLB          
  • Curtis Granderson, 3 cards, 1 ROMLB personalized and 20/20/20/20 inscription
  • Tim Byrdak, 3 cards
  • Denny Bautista, 4 cards
  • Zach Miner, 2 cards
  • Rick Porcello, 2 cards, 2 ROMLB
  • Wilkin Ramirez, 4 cards
  • Ramon Santiago, 3 cards
  • Marcus Thames, 1 card
  • Mike Hollimon, 1 card
  • Larry Parrish, 3 cards
  • Jordan Tata, 1 card
  • Jeff Larish, 4 cards      
  • James Skelton, 1 RMLB

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