FanFest and Home Run Derby: Day 4

Today would be a busy, long day.  It started out fine… the middle was less than ideal… and the end was, overall, quite good.

I
woke up at 7:00am, saw Michelle off to work, got ready, then headed to
Anaheim.  Michelle would be meeting me at the stadium for the Derby
later that evening.  I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center for my
third (and final) time, sold some extra tickets that I had to a guy that
contacted me through Craigslist, and headed inside.

The first
thing I did? Headed to an autograph line… I stopped to buy a baseball
card for Fred Lynn to sign (sure, I’d gotten him before) because he’d be
signing in the same booth at the same time as Hall of Famer, Rickey
Henderson.
henderson line.JPGObviously, I wasn’t the only one excited to get Rickey’s autograph:
henderson line behind me.JPGThis
was at 9:20am.  He would begin signing at 10:00am.  Normally, I
wouldn’t wait this long for an autograph but I had done everything else
there was to do at FanFest so I sat down and waited for the queue to
start moving.

About the time I was twenty or so minutes from the
front of the line I overheard a FanFest staff member telling some people
toward the front that, “Rickey isn’t signing baseballs.”

What?
was the collective thought of everyone in line.  A few minutes later
(and after I’d seen Rickey on a cell phone while signing) the same staff
member said to a guy nearby, “Now he’s not signing hats or baseballs or
pictures.”

What?

People were getting all sorts of
anxious… as it turns out, the official explanation was that Rickey’s
management informed him that he was not to sign anything that wasn’t
specifically FanFest-related.  It was lame.  I had planned to get him on
a card… I got him on my commemorative FanFest ticket instead.  A lot of people were pretty upset about the situation.  Not
ideal… but I’m over it.

After that semi-fiasco I decided to see
if I could get a pin… they had special pin giveaways throughout the
days at FanFest.  I’d gotten a couple already–I scored my third on this
day.
pin line.JPGThey only gave out 100 per location… at this point in the line I was about number eighty-eight.  They’d started giving out numbered cards to people since the last time I’d tried to receive one of those pins.  I was glad to see that they had made an effort to keep people from cutting in–people go crazy for pins.  Jeez.

Next up, I went to play some video games:
longoria vidgame.JPGAnd Evan Longoria was at the 2KSports booth playing the game sporting his likeness on the cover.  That was kind of cool–apparently I’d just missed Joe Mauer over at the PS3 truck.

I played some Home Run Derby, didn’t break the day’s record, then headed to the exit, taking a few photos on my way out:
fanfest day 4 1.jpgThere’s the MLB.com stage.  And here’s just one of the concourse areas:
fanfest day 4 2.jpgAnd a last look at the exit/entrance…
fanfest day 4 3.jpgI was off to the REAL HRD…

asg steps.JPGI
got to the stadium early.  Like, the gates were set to open at 2:00 and
I got there an hour before that.  I walked past the train station that
shares a parking lot with the stadium and did a double-take when I saw
these stairs (at right) heading to the platform.

There were a ton of media
trucks taking up a portion of the parking lot so I took the loooonnng
way around the ballpark and got in line.  No wonder so many people had trouble parking… half the lot was taken up my media trailers and satellite trucks and a big fenced off area for guests of the All-Star players… plus the sponsor zone.  That was all in the parking lot!  Anyway, I got in line.  Not a lot to say about it–I
just stood in line for an hour.  I had a plan–BP wouldn’t be going on
until a half hour after the gates opened so I would get as close to the
AL dugout as I could… and wait.

That’s just what I did:
hrd third base line.jpgThere was nothing goin’ on except the grounds crew setting up the cage and watering the field…

After seventeen minutes the American League All-Star team made it out onto the field:
al take the field.JPGTiny, broken-footed Dustin Pedroia was there, too:
poor pedroia.JPGLook how little that guy is!  Holy cow–and he’s a great baseball player.

Finally, the pitchers had baseballs in their hands:
warmup time.JPGAnd I waited patiently as they threw the balls around… but they didn’t throw more than a couple into the seats.

As BP started up I headed toward the outfield.  Note the crowd in any/all of the outfield sections:
hrd bp lf.jpgThe
American League finished up and I was behind their dugout as they came
off the field.  But they came off the field to a huge media presence.
al dugout bp.jpgmedia at dugout.JPGSo, nobody had a baseball to spare by the time they made it into the
dugout.

The National League started up and it was back to the outfield for me.

There
was no room to move anywhere… and by the end of BP I had positioned
myself near some of the adorable children of the players (since they
were tossing baseballs into the seats with regularity).
nl with kids.JPGUnfortunately,
they were so small that they never got a ball over the first row–and I
wasn’t able to be in the first row.  Frustrating.

I had a couple close calls but ended BP still sitting on a goose egg for the day.

Before Train performed a song and a half on these trailers:
train setup.JPGI
was behind the dugout while some guy with a jersey that said Holland
was warming up his arm.  He would be throwing to one of the HRD participants… I totally thought he was going to throw me the ball–he
looked right at me–but he kept it.
hrd dugout first base.jpgThat was a theme on the day.  Most
people over the age of four were keeping any HRD ball they came in
contact with.  Dang.

On to the Derby itself.  There were six batters hitting right-handed…  I had this view for them:
where i played righties.JPGIn
case you’re wondering… I was about 460 feet from home plate.  During a
game–no way would a homer reach me but I had a shot at the HRD.  I was
in front of/underneath the Hit It Here sign in left… but nobody hit it
there… or to me.  If Matt Holliday’s 497-foot blast had been about
twenty feet closer to center field I’d have nabbed it. Instead, it hit
the edge of the Club Level seats.  I was the only one standing out on
the concourse (who wasn’t drunk) with a glove.  If anything HAD come
near me I’m sure I’d have gotten it.  Alas, I couldn’t get down into the
seats since the ushers were guarding each staircase.

For the two
lefties (Ortiz and Swisher) I had a bit more opportunity.  An usher out
in right field let me play the staircase near them.
where i played lefties.JPGThat was about 420 feet from home plate.  I was at least
fortunate in that David Ortiz was a participant in each round (and that
he won the Derby).  The closest I got was… I’ll say ten feet from one
of his blasts.  In watching the highlights afterward I was able to see
myself in the mix for a ball… but I was still shutout for the day.

Michelle
had arrived (after dealing with the awful parking situation) halfway
through the first round and we ate dinner together in the outfield.
hrd lf panorama.jpgBy
the end of the action she was very supportive of me trying to snag at
least one ball… letting me run wild while telling me she’d just wait
for my phone call at the end of the event and we’d meet up.

I was
behind the AL dugout yet again… so were Warren and Chris (who I’d
seen at the gates on our way into the park).  We all had the same goal:
get a ball as the players came off the field.  Well, I got taunted by
Adrian Beltre’s daughter (who was, like, four years old) as she held a
gold HRD ball out to me from the field, then pulled it back and shook
her head.  The media had attacked all the players and when the dust
settled I was still empty -handed.  However, I struck up a conversation
with a lady who worked with/for one of the sponsors.  It had been a
long, hot day… and I didn’t go home without snagging something:
gatorade snagged.JPGYep… that was the most delicious Gatorade I’d ever had.
matt michelle hrd.JPGMichelle and I still had a great time.  The HRD was exciting and crowded
and the energy was high.  The in-between rounds interviews were cool
and it was fun trying for a homer.  We stopped briefly at the sponsor
zone–but decided to head out.  We walked to my car and then I drove
Michelle to hers.  We were home by 9:00pm…

All-Star Tuesday was coming up.  The big event:  the 2010 All-Star Game.

Thanks for reading!

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4 comments

  1. Txbaseballfan

    I’ve been in similar autograph predicaments like you Henderson one. It sucks from a fan standpoint that’s for sure, but in those situations you often find out who the truly “fan-friendly” guys are. Great recap, loved all of them!

    Brian
    http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

  2. bloggingboutbaseball

    BRIAN – Yeah, it was pretty unfortuante that we were waiting so long and a bomb like that got dropped on us. You’re right though, it sure did make me appreciate the really friendly players I’ve encountered.

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