Tagged: fanfest

3/27/11 at Angel Stadium

This would be quite the full day.

It started with me (and Michelle) waking up at the crack of dawn and heading up to the stadium.  March 27th was the day of the Angels 5k and Fun Run at the stadium.  I’s signed up at the beginning of the month for the 5k and I’d been training for it for a couple of weeks.  I’ve always enjoyed running and wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself.  We arrived at ten minutes to seven and Michelle decided she would stay in the car while I ran.  I couldn’t blame her–it was early and the weather was less than ideal.  There was rain in the forecast and I was just hoping to get through the run before it got too wet.

I started about 500 people back and, though I can’t show you through pictures (because I was running), there were easily four times that many people there.  I had a clip-on transmitter on my shoe that would track my time–as I crossed the starting line the clock already had counted up to about a minute… and when I crossed the second checkpoint (at the halfway mark) the clock was around 16 minutes… and when I approached the finish line the clock was ticking up toward 30 minutes.  I crossed the line at 30:03… my goal had been to come in under 30 minutes and since I knew I could easily take a minute off my time (based on how long it took to get up to the starting line) I was thrilled!

I drank some water, got a free hat and a Clif bar, and headed back over to the car to find my wife.  When I got there she took a photo of me post race:
post 5k run.JPGOh, yes… I grew a beard over the off-season.  It has since been shaved off… sorry to scare you there, readers.

At that point it was about 7:45am and Angels FanFest was set to open up at 8:00… but I’d promised Michelle coffee and, quite frankly, I needed a rest.  We headed to Starbucks–I changed clothes once we got there–we got breakfast and waited for the rain to pass… it had started drizzling right when I got back to the car after the race.

At around 9:30 we headed back to the stadium for FanFest.  It was a bunch of vendors, autograph stations, merchandise booths, and photo ops.  We each got autographs from Chris Pettit and Andrew Romine and then we stood in a long line to get Hank Conger’s autograph:
autograph line 3.27.JPGWhile we were there we noticed you could get your photo taken with the Rally Monkey:
rally monkey rubcube 3.27.JPGSo we stood in that line, too, and got this picture:
mandmwithrallymonkey1.JPG–which I was kind of disappointed in once I saw it.  I mean, we’re like six feet from the monkey!  C’mon!  At least we look cute.  That monkey is licking the mini bat at this point, I think.

Anyway, we left FanFest after an hour or so–and went to get snacks for the game that afternoon.  We’d need to be back by noon to get free parking for the game and, sadly, we found out once we were back with our snacks that the gates wouldn’t open until 1:00.  Bah!

So I ran inside at 1:00 to see the Padres on the field taking BP:
first view of field 3.27.jpgAnd after a few minutes I convinced someone wearing number 95 on the Padres to toss me a baseball–I was on the board for the day.  Here’s the guy who threw it (left) and the spot where I caught it (right):
padre 95 1.JPGwhere i caught the first ball 3.27.JPGWhile I took those photos I heard someone yell, “Comin’ in!” and I looked up, then to my right as a ball smacked off a seat ten feet away from me… surprising since a righty was up to bat.

Well, I ran over and snagged that ball for my second ball on the afternoon.  It was hit by this guy:
righty padre 1.JPGrighty padre 2.JPGAny ideas?  Let me know…

spot of 2nd ball 3.27.JPGWell, here’s the spot where I grabbed my second ball of the day–and the only one that got hit up to the pavilion while I was there.  And that was pretty much it for BP.  Not bad–two baseballs in about 30 seconds.  I only had about 15 minutes of batting practice to work with so I can’t

I met up with Michelle and hung out with her for a bit–and then headed toward the Angel dugout when they came out for pregame throwing.  It was nice to see the field up close.
third base panorama pregame 3.27.jpgI got shut out there but I went to the Padre dugout after that and got my third baseball of the day thrown to me by Logan Forsythe near the camera well.

And then we enjoyed the game from right behind the Padre dugout:
haren izturis leg kick.JPGHa–they’re both kicking their leg…

Eventually, the folks who actually had those seats arrived and we relocated to the outfield with this view:
home run seats 3.27.JPGI was hoping to get a home run but the only homers hit this day would go to center field.  Bummer.

Toward the end of the game, with the score 9-2 Angels we moved here:
first base panorama 3.27.jpgAnd as the Angels wrapped up the victory I got behind the Padre dugout to try to snag a postgame baseball… but all the Padres went into the dugout without tossin’ up a thing… except for the last player to leave the field.  A short, Latino pitcher from the bullpen who I later identified as Samuel Deduno tossed me a rubbed up baseball as he headed down the steps for my fourth baseball on the afternoon.

And, though it took him several tries, a nice, elderly usher took a photo of Michelle and I as we left the park.
mandmpostgame.JPGIt had been a long day–lots of running–and we were both exhausted.
4 baseballs 3.27.JPG
Not a bad start to the season,,. a good run, four baseballs, three autographs, some swag from FanFest, an Angels win, and a lot of fun.

And later that night I checked online to see my official results from the 5k… I came in at 28:46, not fantastic, but I ran faster than I expected!  It would be over a week before my next game, with the Angels heading out on the road.  I was anxious for them to get back because I knew that when they did return they’d be using commemorative baseballs and hopefully some of those would have found their way into the BP buckets…

My next game would be on April 9th.  More to come soon, loyal readers, and happy 2011 baseball season to all of you.


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.

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 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.”

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


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
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

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

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.

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!

FanFest: Day 2

mattmichellemickey.JPGI was back at FanFest again at 9:00am after being there until 5:00pm the day before.  This time, however, my wife got to come with me.

We parked at the convention center lot this time (it cost us $12.00… which was exactly how much it cost me the day before to park two and a half blocks away) and were at the main entrance within two minutes.  Outside the box office was the Mickey statue you see on the right.  After our pic with Mic we headed inside.  We breezed through security.  Sadly, no mascots were there to greet us upon our arrival.  We’d see plenty of them later though.  We received our maps (and bags filled with advertisements) and headed into the experience.

The first thing we did was pass by the New Era exhibit I’d seen the day before so we could get a photo of the two of us in front of it:
mandmflag.JPGNext up we both did the gave saving catch thing, then went by the Rawlings exhibit again and looked at some memorabilia nearby.  Next up we got in line for a Fred Lynn autograph signing.  Did you know he’s the only player to hit a grand slam in an All-Star Game?  Well, he is.  I had him sign a card and Michelle got him on the shirt I’d brought the day before.

Next up: a Mark Langston signing.  Mark wasn’t originally scheduled to be there on this day so I was without any cards for him to sign… but I bought a ROMLB nearby and he signed it on the sweet spot while Michelle got him on the T-shirt.
langston auto.JPGThere was a Scott’s turf exhibit and we examined the different types of grass that are used for MLB stadiums.  Michelle was quite intrigued:
michelle with turf.JPGThen we headed over to the Reebok ad I’d seen the day before.  Look!  Me with Heath Bell:reebok ad matt head.JPG

Over at the diamond we watched the mascots of different teams participate in a home run derby:
mascot hrd.JPG

Note: only one ball actually cleared the fence.  I didn’t snag it… it was a spongy, faux baseball.

We grabbed some overpriced Chinese food after that to recharge our batteries for the rest of the day and then decided to try a couple of the interactive exhibits.
hitting activity.jpgWe’d spun a wheel earlier in the day that scored us a couple of front-of-the-line passes for exhibits.  Michelle didn’t care to use hers… she already knew her fastball was faster than mine.  Graciously, she let me have her pass so I could get to the front of the hitting cage line AND the fielding line!  Michelle, of course, accompanied me and took a few pictures along the way.

Here I am just after picking out my bat and helmet (left), and then getting ready to swing (right):
matt about to bat.JPG
matt in cage.JPGIt was tough to get a shot through the netting.  And it was over pretty quickly… the volunteers running the event were cycling people though really quickly.  Still, I had a good time… I wish I could have hit an actual baseball though… the ones they were using were, understandably, kid friendly… and squishy.

And here are a couple shots of me fielding:
matt fielding 2.JPGmatt fielding 3.JPGI enjoyed the fielding experience more than the hitting.  You only got five pitches in the cage… you got to field two baseballs at five different stations.

Later, we went to the Minor League Baseball cap wall and the stage over there because Chili Davis would be signing autographs.  While we waited in line, I checked out the PS3 truck, where you could play MLB 10 The Show.
ps3 truck.JPGNext door was MLB 2K10.  Meh.

Michelle and I received our autographs…
chili signing shirt.JPGAnd then went to see the Negro Leagues exhibit, more memorabilia, an auction booth, the MLB Network booth, and then we went shopping:
michelle shopping.JPGRemember in my last entry I said there was SO MUCH STUFF to buy?  Well, there was… and we bought some of it.  Check out these shoes:
allstar shoe 1.JPGallstar shoe 2.JPGWell… I didn’t buy those, don’t worry… they were kind of cool though.  The ones I really wanted were only available in kid’s sizes.  Lame.

Then we went to see… the trophies.

Tiffany & Co. presented all the trophies of Major League Baseball including the World Series trophy:
m and m and ws trophy.JPGI took photos of my favorites: the WBC trophy and one of A-Rod’s Silver Slugger Awards:
wbc trophy.JPGarod silver slugger.JPGI like the trophy–not necessarily that it belonged to A-Rod.

I encountered more mascots–then we headed over to the giant baseball:
matt michelle and wlb.JPGCan you tell who’s signed it?
sigs on wlb.JPGIt was getting to be late–there were a lot of lines–and before we left we scored more free baseball cards, I pretended to drive the All-Star Game Chevy:
driving the asg chevy.JPGAnd we went to the trading card booth and baseball cards made of ourselves.  Pretty funny… I’ll have you know my career average was just over .300.  And I was a slightly better hitter than Michelle (but as I mentioned before, she’s got the blazing fastball).

It was another awesome day.  Even though my feet were starting to hurt.

FanFest: Day 1

I had been looking forward to the All-Star Game in Anaheim for months!  As soon as I knew the Angels would be hosting the ASG I started hinting to my wife that I wanted to go, started schmoozing all the ushers at the stadium I knew, and started hoping and praying we’d even have a chance to get tickets.  We did–and ended up with extras–so I would get to do some sort of All-Star activity on each of the five days that they were happening.

The festivities of All-Star Week kicked off for me on Friday morning–at 9:00 in the morning I got off the freeway, parked at Anaheim’s Gardenwalk (which was dumb–I should’ve just parked at the venue), walked a couple of blocks from the structure, and arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center.
outside convention center.jpgIt was time for FanFest, baby!

When I got inside the gates had just opened and, along with security searching bags, mascots from different teams (including the Pirate Parrot) were welcoming guests to FanFest.
parrot.JPGI stopped and had my photo taken with the Reds’ Gapper:
matt and gapper.JPGAnd then, finally, I got to head inside!
entry panorama.jpgLet me summarize how I felt:  Jubilant.  FanFest is like Disneyland for baseball fans.

All the positive (and negative) things that you think when you read that last sentence are probably accurate.  It’s great and it’s stressful and it’s fun and it’s a lot of waiting around and it’s unique and everything looks and sounds and smells so cool, and it’s over too fast.

Here’s how I spent my day (day one of five!):

The first thing I did (aside from snap the above photo) was receive a bag with a map in it… this place was huge!  Then I grabbed a daily schedule and found out that Wally Joyner was signing autographs–he’d started at nine.  I walked quickly to his autograph stage and when I got there the line was still pretty short.  I saw Roger Lodge of AM 830, then saw a big Reebok ad you could stick your head through…
reebok ad.JPG
And after about twenty minutes I got Joyner to sign an old baseball card of his (and a volunteer snapped this picture):
matt and wally.JPGrawlings 1.JPGAfter the Joyner signing I got to really start looking around at all the amazing stuff that was there at FanFest.  Believe me, there’s no way to do it all in just one day.

Luckily, I was at FanFest on three different occasions!  So, if I don’t talk about something in this entry then it’s sure to be in an upcoming one.

I checked out the Rawlings booth next… and their Gold Glove Award.

In addition to selling different kinds of baseballs they were selling official MLB helmets and they did baseball demonstrations every hour or so.  This consisted of an explanation of what’s inside the ball and how they’re made.

They had a case of all the World Series balls dating back to 1978.
ws balls.JPGThe one from 2002 was of particular interest to me:
ws ball 02.JPGGo Angels!  As I walked back toward the front of the venue for an upcoming autograph signing I saw a familiar face:
matt with rex.JPGIt was Rex Hudler, former Angels player and broadcaster… and yes, it seems that he ALWAYS has a baseball in his hand.  Arte Moreno and Rod Carew had been walking around that morning, too.

All the while during my time there I was getting free stuff from various booths… and registering to win various prizes.  I stopped at one booth where you could make a “Game Saving Catch.”  I wasn’t about to spend a ton of money on a photo there but, again, a volunteer stepped in and snapped this:
tch at wall matt.JPGNice!  In case you’re wondering, the baseball is sewn into the glove… and you can stand on a couple of pegs to get some height up above the wall.  It was pretty fun!

There were various pin giveaways throughout the day at various points around the venue.  I’m not huge into pin collecting/trading like a lot of folks (especially in Anaheim) but I stopped to see the line and take a panorama… this is looking toward the entrance I came through that morning:
pin line.jpgOnly 100 pins were given away per line… in my three days at FanFest I got three of the six or seven pins that were there.  

After the pin line I was off to another autograph signing.  This one was Jim Fregosi at the Minor League Baseball stage… there, they’ve got a wall of hats of each minor league club from each of the thirty MLB teams.  Check it out:
minor league caps.jpgAnd here are the Angels’ teams:
angels milb caps.JPGI was having a blast.

After about forty minutes I got to meet Mr. Fregosi and get his autograph.  And the photo to the left appeared in an article from the Press Enterprise.

After the autograph session I checked out some of the exhibits and memorabilia displays.  You can buy everything from a pack of baseball cards to a used jersey from decades ago to a stadium seat from a long-since-torn-down park to an All-Star Game keychain (and ordinary stuff like that).  There’s stuff to buy EVERYWHERE!  I came around a corner after playing a “throw the ball through a Firestone tire” game and saw:
red sox mickey.JPG
Red Sox Mickey!  He was one of the thirty-six Mickeys around SoCal for the ASG and he had been beaten up outside his original location so I guess he got bandaged up and moved inside to a safehouse… oh, Disney.  Some Angels fans out there must have been pretty upset to see Mickey dressed like he was from Beantown.

Next, I walked through a replica of a major league clubhouse where a lot of stuff that the players wear was on display.  I snapped some photos and listened as Clyde Wright told a couple of stories… you see, they also have old-timers and Hall of Fame players give talks in that room, according to the schedule.

I then doubled back to get a shot of the diamond on which little kids were playing throughout the day.  I tried to sign up for a contest to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  It was full.  Darn.
kids on diamond.JPGThere were hitting, fielding, and umpiring clinics, a mascot home run derby, and a bunch of other cool activities going on there at any given time.
steal home.JPGBehind it, you could steal home (look at the photo above)–there was a timer to see who could run the fastest… and you could put on some special/weird-looking Reebok shoes if you wanted to do so.

Also, you may have seen that cool sand sculpture of Angel Stadium in the TV commercials for the All-Star Game… well, it’s pretty darn awesome in person:
sand front.JPGsand rear.jpgHow’d they get it into the convention center?  Aagh!

And did you notice a giant baseball in the photo toward the beginning of this entry?  Well, it is officially known as The World’s Largest Baseball and it’s lit very well… and here it is for your viewing pleasure:
wlb 1.JPGwlb 2.JPGIt’s signed by everyone from Derek Jeter to Hank Aaron.  So cool.

You know those patriotic hats the teams wear on July fourth weekend?  How about a giant flag made out of those?
cap flag.JPGWha–?  Whoa!  Seriously, FanFest is a must for any baseball fan.  Not everything there is for everyone but I guarantee that there’s something there for everyone.

Monster truck… MLB-style.
mlb truck.JPGIn the midst of all my random picture-taking I sat down to eat at the MLB.com stage.  They were doing live broadcasts:
mlbdotcom guys.JPGAnd one of the interactive exhibits that I got to do on this, my first day, was “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco.”
steal taco 2.JPGYou start at first base, take a lead when the video projection of the pitcher looks away and gets set… once he starts to pitch, you start to run.  If you make it in safe you get a free taco–seriously.  They have them right on the other side of that wall in the background.  In all fairness, everyone is always safe.  I totally beat the throw though–and slid… and did it right.  Yeah.

Later, I stood in line for the pitching cage.  I threw a blazing fastball–at 52 mph.  Wow… a friend had told me I’d hit 65, tops.  After I told him what I really threw he called me Jamie Moyer.

I also swung by the PS3 truck and played some Home Run Derby video game… and then went to the Angels exhibit where, among other things, you could be a part of the 2010 team photo.  I made friends with Mike Scioscia and Mickey Hatcher.
matt in team photo.JPGShortly after that, I headed home.  It was almost 5:00pm.  I could have stayed until it closed at 8:00 but I knew I’d be back the next day, this time with Michelle, and I’d get to see it all again.  Awesome.