Posts Tagged 'spring training'

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!

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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!

Getting Autographs at Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

The Pirates have changed things up a bit this year at their workout fields that make it tougher for autograph seekers. A great place to get autographs used to be right next to the batting cages. You could get players in between turns in the cage, as well as snag them before and after practice (they have to walk right past the cages to get back to the clubhouse). Unfortunately, the Pirates blocked fans from this area this year. During the workouts, you can float around between the 4 practice fields and you might be able to snag a few autographs. The best place to get items signed, however, is outside the players parking lot. Most of the guys roll down their windows and sign for fans as they leave practice. For more details on locations, see the image below:

Here is what I got signed in one day at the Pirates camp (only pitchers and catchers were there):
Brian Bass x 3 Cards
Brian Burres x 6 Cards
D.J. Carrasco x 2 Cards
Jeff Clement x 2 Cards
Brendan Donnelly x 2 Cards
Ryan Doumit x 1 Card
Zach Duke x 1 Ball
Zach Duke x 1 Card
Brian Friday x 2 Cards
Hector Gimenez x 7 Cards
Joel Hanrahan x 1 Ball
Joel Hanrahan x 4 Cards
Kevin Hart x 1 Ball
Akinori Iwamura x 3 Cards
Chris Jakubauskas x 2 Cards
Jason Jaramillo x 3 Cards
Brandon Jones x 5 Cards
Garrett Jones x 5 Cards
Jeff Karstens x 2 Cards
Erik Kratz x 2 Cards
Brad Lincoln x 6 Cards
Steve Lombardozzi x 1 Ball
Javier Lopez x 2 Cards
Paul Maholm x 4 Cards
Daniel McCutchen x 4 Cards
Evan Meek x 1 Card
Bryan Morris x 3 Cards
Charlie Morton x 2 Cards
Brian Myrow x 1 Card
Steve Pearce x 3 Cards
Jeremy Powell x 2 Cards
John Raynor x 1 Card
Tony Sanchez x 1 Ball
Tony Sanchez x 4 Cards
Ray Searge x 3 Cards
Jeff Sues x 1 Card
Jose Tabata x 2 Balls
Jose Tabata x 2 Cards
Kent Tekulve x 1 Ball
Anthony Telford x 1 Card
Virgil Vasquez x 1 Card
Ramon Vasquez x 4 Card

Totals: 97 cards + 8 balls = 105 total autographs

Getting Autographs at Orioles Spring Training in 2010

BY: T.C.

The Orioles moved up to Sarasota this year to replace the Reds (who left for Arizona). The camp was laid out the same way the Reds’ camp was. While workouts are going on inside on the practice fields, a savvy collector can manage to get a few autographs from players as they move from field to field. The place to really clean up at this camp, however, is at the player parking lot as they leave the complex each day. See the picture below for best locations for autographs:

Here are my totals for the Orioles camp (I had a little help from the wife, too):
Jake Arietta x 1 Ball
Jake Arrieta x 3 Cards
Brad Bergesen x 5 Cards
Brad Bergesen x 1 Ball
Jason Berken x 1 Card
Terry Crowley x 1 Card
Jeremy Guthrie x 1 Card
Jeremy Guthrie x 1 Team USA WBC hat
David Hernandez x 4 Cards
Jim Johnson x 3 Cards
Caleb Joseph x 1 Card
Brian Matusz x 3 Cards
Brian Matusz x 2 Balls
Cla Meredith x 5 Cards
Kam Mickolio x 1 Card
Kevin Millwood x 3 Cards
Kevin Millwood x 1 Ball
Chad Moeller x 2 Cards
Troy Patton x 3 Cards
Dennis Sarfate x 3 Cards
Gary Thorne x 1 Ball
Chris Tillman x 5 Cards
Chris Tillman x 1 Ball
Dave Trembley x 1 Card
Matt Wieters x 1 Card
Matt Wieters x 2 Balls

Totals: 47 cards + 8 balls + 1 Team USA WBC hat = 56 total autographs

2009 Florida Spring Training Tour, Day 9 (New York Mets @ Detroit Tigers)

BY: T.C.

My cousin and his wife flew into Orlando on Thursday to take their kids on a Disney vacation.  Before the trip, my cousin and I had planned on taking my godson (Caden), who is 4 years old, over to Tigertown to see a spring training game.  This day really wasn’t about ‘graphing for me…it was more about making sure that Caden had a good time.  We got to the game early and lined up outside the gate.  Our timing must have been perfect, because after standing in line for about 5 minutes, a couple of girls that work for the Tigers came by and asked Caden if he’d like to take the resin bag out to the mound before the game!  This turned out to be a really cool experience for the little guy.  He got to go out on the field with the players during the national anthem, and also got to spend a little bit of time in the dugout before the game.  When it was time, he ran out to the mound to drop off the resin bag.  Somwhere on his way to the mound, though, he forgot the instructions he was given on where to put the bag.  As he got out to the mound, he walked around it, trying to figure out where to put the resin bag he was carefully holding in his hand.  The crowd started cracking up as he walked up on the mound and looked around.  He finally just figured that he’d walk up to the pitching rubber and set it down there.  When he did this, the whole crowd lost it.  They were laughing and clapping for him–which brought a huge smile to his face.  Once he made it back to the dugout, he got some high-fives from the players and coaches.  He even got a baseball handed to him by Rafael Belliard (that he had Jim Leyland sign).

caden-tigers

All in all, this day was a great experience.  It was spring training ball at its laid-back best.  I did manage to get a couple of ‘graphs (Donnie Kelly, Michel Abreu, and Fernando Martinez), but I really didn’t care.  Today was all about making sure that a little guy had a memorable experience…which he most certainly did!

photo_022809_001

2009 Florida Spring Training Tour, Day 8 (Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros)

BY: T.C.

My original plan on this day was to go to Viera to see the Nationals play the Astros.  However, after 7 straight days of driving all over Florida, I just didn’t feel like getting up early and making the drive all the way over to Viera.  Instead, I woke up and headed back to the Braves’ camp, which was only a 5 minute drive from my hotel.  The Braves were playing an away game that day, so I was hoping to get a couple of the stars that didn’t make the trip.  Unfortunately for me, most of the stars DID make the trip on this particular day.  There was one lucky occurrence, though.  This happened to be one of the days that Phil Niekro was in town as a guest instructor.  After spending a couple of hours there, I was able to get a few ‘graphs…including Phil Niekro on a ball!

Once I got Niekro’s autograph, I considered my day at the Braves camp to be a success (even though I only got a couple of other autographs).  I then decided to head over to the Astros’ camp to see if I could get a few ‘graphs as guys that didn’t make the trip to Viera left practice.  I ended up getting there just as practice was ending.  A lot of the Astros’ big guns stayed back (Berkman, Lee, Oswalt, Tejada), but they didn’t sign.  I did get a few ‘graphs, but nothing great.  Honestly, I really didn’t care that much.  I was ecstatic that I got Niekro earlier in the day!  Here is what I ended up with for the day:

Tim Byrdak Card x 1
Mike Hampton Card x 1
Tommy Hanson ROMLB x 1
Latroy Hawkins Card x 1
Jair Jurrjens Cards x 3
Phil Niekro ROMLB x 1
Russ Ortiz Cards x 6

2009 Florida Spring Training Tour, Day 7, Part 2 (Minnesota Twins vs. Cincinnati Reds)

BY: T.C.

After starting the day bright and early in Fort Myers, I made the hour and a half drive up to Sarasota.  I arrived just in time to see the first pitch of the Cincinnati Reds vs. Minnesota Twins game.  Because I arrived so late, I didn’t get a good feel for how the ‘graphing was at a Reds spring training game.  It didn’t really matter to me, though.  I was content enough sitting outside on a warm, sunny day and watching a game. 

During the game, a guy from Cincinnati and his son (Austin) sat next to me.  I saw that the kid had some cards and a couple of autographs.  I started chatting with them and found out that this was their first trip to spring training.  So far, they had experienced a little bit of success in getting ‘graphs, but not a ton.  Part of the problem was that they were relying too heavily on trying to get autographs in the stadiums on game day.  I talked to them about some of the strategies that I use for ‘graphing and the dad seemed really appreciative.  It was kind of cool chatting with them, because it reminded me a lot of myself going to spring training games when I was that age (around 10 years old).  After the game, we caught a couple of players heading back to the clubhouse.  I was able to get Yonder Alonso to sign a card, which was one of the ones that I really wanted to get signed.

Once the stadium was empty, I led the father/son combo over to the Reds player parking lot and showed them how to get stuff signed over there.  I think this little insight helped their quest for autographs out quite a bit!!!  At the end of my day at the Reds game, I ended up with about 20 ‘graphs, which I listed below.  I have to say, though, my favorite part of the day was helping a dad be able to give his son a better collecting experience on his first trip to Florida!

Yonder Alonso Card x 1
Jerry Hairston, Jr. Card x 1
Ryan Hanigan Cards x 3
Billy Hatcher Card x 1
Jacque Jones Card x 1
Jeff Keppinger Cards x 2
Robert Manuel Card x 1
Devin Mesoraco Cards x 6
Josh Roenicke Cards x 2
Drew Stubbs Card x 1