On Saturday, I drove down to San Diego for the Padres Fan Fest. Yes,
you read that correctly. It says “Padres”, not “Dodgers”. Why, you may
ask? Because, yes, I drove an hour and forty-five minutes to San Diego
to attend a Padres Fan Fest. You may be having the same reaction my
cousin did when I asked if she would go with me. She said, “But you’re
a Dodger fan! You bleed Dodger blue.” I said, yeah, I do. But I also
like the Friars (among several other teams) and at the time, there were
several players listed on the website that I would like to get their
autographs. And yes, most of them were former Dodgers. So, in a way, I
wasn’t going to get an autograph from a Padre… I was going to get one
from a former Dodger. Anyway, I sent my photos to Costco to print and
then checked the list again. The list had been shortened and two of the
three names I wanted were gone. Oh well. I was still going anyway. We
planned the entire day: Petco Park, Balbao Park, Extraordinary
Desserts, and Pedro’s Tacos.
Jenny, and I left Jenny’s place around eight. We got to Petco about a
quarter till ten. It was free parking, so we parked in one of the lots
on Imperial. Then we headed towards the end of the giant line that had
formed. Season ticket holders got to go in at nine. The general public
were let in at ten. By the time we found the end of the line, we were
almost to the bridge that connects Petco Park and the Omni Hotel (which
is the hotel the visiting teams stay at). When the gates opened, the
line started to move. On our way towards the gate, I saw Eric, a friend
I had just met two weeks ago. I wasn’t surprised to see several people
I knew. Jenny was concerned about our safety, since I’m a “die-hard”
Dodger fan (her words). I told her we would be fine and there would be
plenty of other Dodger fans there too. I didn’t have my camera ready,
but as we were moving towards the gate, we had to stop to let Adrian
Gonzalez pull in. That would’ve been a neat picture.
The way the
Padres did the autograph sessions were, they had two players per
session in four different sections. Each session was an hour. For
example, Jon Garland and Aaron Poreda were signing at Section 110 from
12 – 1. That was the session I wanted. When we entered Petco, there
were four signs posted above the stairs leading up to Petco Park from
the gates. Each sign showed the section, time, and name of the players
signing. You were allowed one session per section. If you wanted to get
another voucher, you had to get in line again. When we got there,
Adrian Gonzalez’s vouchers were all gone and there were only a handful
of Chris Young vouchers left. Both were signing in Garland’s sections
before he was. So, we waited for Garland’s. Meanwhile, Eric had an
extra voucher for Rollie Fingers/Kurt Bevacqua
that he gave me. So, I was able to go home with more than two
autographs. Yes, it was a long way to drive just for Jon Garland. I was
also hoping to snag a few more Padre players, but I didn’t want to get
in line to get more vouchers. Garland was paired up with Aaron Poreda (who also happens to be a former White Sox – he got traded to the Padres in the Jake Peavy deal.
While I went to go get my autographs, Kevin and Jenny checked out the
other things at the Fan Fest, including the Garage Sale.
I got to my section, I saw a few more familiar faces. I showed the
usher my voucher and he seated me with the other people waiting for our
session. There was a Q & A session (the Broadcast Forum) going on
with Dick Enberg, Mark Grant, and Mark Neely. One of them was asked
something (it was hard to hear) and they mentioned Vin Scully. I forgot
what was said, but it was something along the lines of Vin Scully is
the best there is out there. Next up was the Kings of the Hill : Chris
Young, Clayton Richard (he came with Poreda in the Peavy trade), and
Jon Garland. Jon got there early and I noticed him sitting there … and
he started signing things. A short line had formed and people were
getting autographs from Richard, Garland, and another guy (don’t
remember who). I looked at my line which had just started moving. I
looked at Jon. Was there enough time for me to run down to the dugout
and get Jon’s autograph and get back in time for Rollie Fingers. I took
the chance. I ran down to the dugout and got in line. There were about
three others ahead of me.The little kid in front of me either already
got Jon Garland on his baseball or he didn’t want him. It looked like
the latter cause it looked like Jon was waiting for the kid to give him
the ball, but the kid didn’t.
it was my turn, I held up a 8×10 photo of Jon and asked him if he could
please sign it. I handed it up to him. He asked me, “did you take this
here?” I told him, no, I took it in LA during the playoffs. I was right
by the dug out when he was coming out. He looked like he liked the
photo. I may see if he’d like a copy the next time I see him. Then I
told him I had another photo I’d love for him to sign if he didn’t
mind. He said sure. He turned the envelope around to see it, but it
wasn’t there. I wasn’t expecting him to sign more than one thing.
told him it was in the envelope still. I took the envelope and pulled
out the other picture. He looked at it and you could see he was trying
to figure out where was the photo from. I wish I had taken a photo. It
was quite cute how confused he seemed. I explained to him that it was
at the Skateland event with Orlando Hudson. He said, “Yeah, I was
trying to figure out where this was.” He mentioned something about how
he had his beard going. I told him it looked good. And yes, he was
wearing his glasses today and boy does he look in his glasses.
I got Jon’s autographs, I ran back to my line for Rollie/Kurt. I got
Jon just in time. They were about to start the Q&A. I wanted to
stick around but I needed to get back. I think the usher thought I was
cutting in line, because he took my voucher but no one else’s. Everyone
else got their voucher taken when they approached the table. I didn’t
have any trouble, but still… Meanwhile, I could hear bits and pieces
of the Q&A going on. I heard Randy Wolf’s name pop up. But I
couldn’t hear the question or the answer.
didn’t bring anything generic except for the Opening Day cap I got at
last year’s Padres/Dodgers game (yes, it was on Opening Day). I kept
the cap for autograph opportunities like this. Kurt was first and he
was very nice and conversational with the people in front of me. Since
I didn’t have a clue who he was, I didn’t know what to say other than
please and thank you. He signed the cap in blue to the left of the
Padres’ logo. Rollie signed on the other side in black. After that, I
met up with Jenny and Kevin. Jenny and I saw the mascot for the Padres
minor league team. He looks like he could be the Phillies’ Phanatic’s
little brother. We took photos with it, of course. Kevin bought a SD
baseball cap to get signed. Guess he’s going to collect signed baseball
caps. He already has a Dodgers one with several autographs. Jenny
didn’t have anything yet. I was going to have her get a baseball card
signed for me by Jon. I told them about how I got Jon to sign my
photographs already. That meant I could get him in my scrapbook. Jenny
wanted to get something signed for her friend Phanny. We were supposed
to bring her with us, but I had the dates wrong and it didn’t work out.
Jenny still wanted to get an autograph for her. While we were waiting
for our session to start, Jenny went back to the Garage Sale and picked
up two of the baseballs they were selling. I was going to have Aaron
Poreda sign the ball. Jenny was going to get both of them on the ball.
had us sitting on one side while the line for Adrian Gonzalez was going
through. Once they were done, they moved us over. We would’ve been in
the first row, but there were only two seats and there were three of
us. Had we been in those seats, we would’ve been right behind Jon when
he showed up. I had a feeling Jon would see me and go, “you again?” or
something like that. When we lined up, the usher saw my scrapbook and
asked me about it. He was quite impressed. Someone ahead of us was
getting a baseball signed … in a blue sharpie. I cringed when I saw
that. The person in front of me agreed. Rookie mistake. I told Jenny
when she asked Aaron to sign her ball, to ask for it in the pen. When
we asked Aaron to use a pen instead, the Padre employee said we were
real fans who knew what we were doing or something like that. When
Aaron signed both our baseballs, he did it in a funny spot. Not the
sweet spot. On mine, he signed right by the logo. On Jenny’s, he signed
on the blank side.
pulled out my scrapbook for Jon to sign and the employee sitting next
to him was impressed too. She was like, “wow, what’s that?” I said “hi
jon” and put the book down. He said, “we meet again.” I knew it! After
all, it hadn’t been more than 45 minutes since I asked him to sign the
photos. Yes, I know. I got a lot of stuff signed by him. What can I
say? I have a soft spot for guys in glasses. He picked up the black
sharpie and I asked him if he could please use the blue, it comes out
better on the photo. I thanked him and told him, “see you at Dodger
Stadium”. I wish I could’ve asked for a photo with him. I like the
other one, but it’s so dark! Maybe when he’s in L.A.
that, we took a tour of the clubhouse. It was really cool to see the
training room, the physical therapy room, the clubhouse, where the
players ate and stuff. After that, we walked around the field. We
stopped in the visiting teams’ dugout and took some photos. I heard on
the radio that the grounds crew equipment would be out. I totally
wanted a picture of me on the big green John Deere tractor! After we
walked around the field and took several photos, we headed back to the
car. We passed the cutest sight. There were these two little kids
rubbing their hands in the warning track dirt and then putting their
hand prints on the padded outfield walls!
This is one of my favorites. Michael Lington, a jazz saxophonist, performed the National Anthem before a game between the Dodgers and the Cubs on August 22, 2009.
Here’s a video from someone else’s YouTube. Lington performed again just a month and a half later. He performed before Game 1 of the NLDS between the Dodgers and the Cubs.
I saw the name of the article, and I knew i had to read it. Being somewhat musically inclined (though by not much), I enjoy hearing really good versions of the “Star Spangled Banner” before the game. But sometimes, it seems we hear more bad than good. And yes, I know it’s a difficult song to sing.
The best version I remember hearing was before a game against the Marlins in July 2007. It was by a ten year old girl. It was the sweetest, most beautiful rendition I can remember. It certainly was one of my favorites. Off the top of my head, my second favorite was when Sherman Pore sang the National Anthem. Sherman Pore, if you remember, went on American Idol in 2007. He sang “You Belong to Me” (the 1952 song, not the new Taylor Swift one obviously) as a tribute to his wife who just passed from cancer. I wish I could’ve been there to see Russell Martin (Sr.) play the National Anthem on his saxophone back in 2006.
As for the worst … I don’t recall the names. The violinist was probably one of the worst. Sure, it would’ve been nice if the sound was working. But I still didn’t like her rendition anyway. You couldn’t blame it on the mic not working properly. It was still pretty bad. And then there was the guy who took like ten minutes singing the National Anthem. It was before the Brewers game on Aug 4. It took almost 3 1/2 hours for the Dodgers to beat the Brewers 17 to 4. Prince Fielder must’ve been upset that the game took so long, which is why he tried to storm the Dodgers clubhouse. He wanted to find out who picked the guy who sang the National Anthem.
Let’s not even get started with “God Bless America” during the 7th Inning Stretch. I’m glad I wasn’t at the game on August 18 against the Cardinals when the singer not only couldn’t sing in tune … but she didn’t know the words either. It’s a hilarious video to watch, but after the first time, you might want to hit mute. It’s just fun to watch the players’ reactions. Though, there have been a few renditions I liked. The USC Trojan marching band for one.
I had heard that the Dodger Stadium gift shop was having another one of
their big sales. There were jerseys on sale for 20 or 30 dollars. I had
to check it out. After all, how could I pass up the opportunity to buy
a Wolf jersey for only $20 or $30. Original price, it’s almost 300 and
even on sale it’s about 85. It took me a while though. They had one
Wolf road jersey and two Wolf home jerseys. They were both from 2007,
because they had “52″ on the back. I tried three different jerseys
before deciding which one to get.
After purchasing my new jersey, I started heading out. As I was driving by one of the parking lots, an animal crossed in front of my car. I had to stop and couldn’t believe it. It was a coyote! At least, I think that’s a coyote. What do you think?
For Olvera St., Nina and I actually got there earlier than we did for ESPN. We got there about 8:30 and there were already about six people in front of us. We knew the first two groups of people in the front of the line from yesterday’s event. As we were standing around talking, these two police officers came up and asked us some questions. They had no idea that the Dodgers were going to be stopping by later that day. As any autograph event, people are constantly walking by and asking, “what are you guys in line for?”
One of the funniest things that happened while we were waiting in line. I don’t remember exactly how it came up, but one of Ronnie’s daughters asked me if I knew who the Jonas brothers were. I think we were talking about what we should tell people who we were waiting for. I said something like I don’t know who the Jonas Brothers are. She asked me, “You don’t know who the Jonas Brothers are?” I told her, “no clue.” She straight out told me (in all seriousness), “You have no soul.” I wasn’t offended. I just thought it was hilarious and soooo cute.
When the Dodger reps showed up to set up, I recognized one of them from the day before and aid out loud, “oh no. He ain’t going to like me.” We saw the signs go by. Table A had Matt Kemp, James McDonald, and Jimmy Campanis. Table B had Fernando Valenzuela, Ramon Troncoso, and Steve Yeager. Campanis and Yeager weren’t listed on the website. During the rally, they also announced Brad Ausmus and Jaime Jarrin. Guess Ausmus had to leave before the rally. They were speaking in Spanish, so I couldn’t understand most of it. Before the rally started, they had music blasting through the speakers. I’m serious when I said blasting. It was so loud it was painful on the ears. They gave away tshirts and CDs. First they had a contest where the first person who blew a balloon till it popped (a t-shirt). The next one I think was a “dance off”. Again, I’m not positive because I couldn’t understand most of it.
The players arrived and were introduced. Before they were introduced, there was a little boy (Deuce) playing on the steps on the side. Matt, James, and Ramon (I think he did) all came hand shook Deuce’s hand or gave him a little first bump. They took turns on the mike. I couldn’t catch what Troncoso was saying (he was speaking in Spanish). James McDonald said something like, “God comes first in my heart, then all of you!” Matt Kemp said a few words, and then he started the “Fernando! Fernando! Fernando!” chant.
The players came down. Matt Kemp shook my hand on his way. I figured, why not? He held Cat’s hand too when she saw her. They were ready to send us down the line, but there was only one problem. Jaime Jarrin wasn’t in his seat yet. Once again, the people who showed up the earliest got short changed. Nina was getting a photo of her and James signed by James, and then Matt was signing a photo I took at Photo Day. Matt saw the photo James was signing, leaned over and said, “awww how sweet.” Nina commented that she didn’t have one with him yet. Jimmy Campanis signed the cover of my scrapbook. Then James signed a photo of him and me. He didn’t write his number by his name … then again, in the photo he’s wearing “52″, which now belongs to George Sherrill. Maybe he was confused and didn’t know which number to write, since he now wears “31″ and he just left it out. Matt signed a photo of him and me from Skateland. I asked him to please add “gold glove and silver slugger” on it.
After we got our autographs, we went to the other side to check out the line. Then we went to the Ticket Truck, where they had set up a table to see what they were passing out. We went back to check out the raffle. They were calling numbers around my ticket and Nina’s, so maybe Roberto or Jack’s tickets would’ve won had they still been there. Cat won 4 field level tickets and my friend Stacey won a baseball that had Steve Yeager, Brad Ausmus, Matt Kemp, Ramon Troncoso, and James McDonald’s autographs on it. Since I didn’t take that many photos at the event, I shall leave you with just this one.
Let me just say … from the moment I got up, it was one string of bad luck after another. Quick story – accidentally deleted all my Dodger photos from 9/20 – 10/16 (five games, two autograph signings), went to get gas and ended up waiting over 15 minutes for my change, and by the end of the day, I kept hoping for things to get better.
Nina and I got to ESPN Zone a little before nine. There was no one there yet. A few people arrived right after we did. We started on one side of the ESPN Zone, but then found out the line was actually going to be on the other side. So they moved us over. There weren’t any signs anywhere, so we didn’t really know that it was supposed to start on that side.
Fast forward to right before the event began … they had two tables and two wristbands. But they weren’t telling us who was on what table. All they told us was, there was a cancellation and a surprise guest. We already knew who the surprise guest was. Thank you, Twitter. They weren’t even going to tell us anything except “It’s luck of the draw” on whose table you got. They handed everyone in my group (just the three of us) a red wristband. They were giving every other group. We went in and got seated. They assured us that when it was time for autographs that they would keep the same order. Guess what? Surprise, surprise. They didn’t. On the red table, they had Al Downing, Tommy Lasorda (the special surprise guest), and Tommy Davis. On the yellow table, they had Andre Ethier, Ken Landreaux, Bobby Castillo, and Rudy Law. After lots of cajoling, I manage to swap bracelets with David’s wife (he was in line behind us).
Before the players showed up, Josh Rawitch walked by. He stopped to say hi and chat with us. He asked us what time we got there and I told him nine. He said, wow. He had heard people were already there by 10, but he didn’t believe it. I told him, if Wolfie was still on the team and would be at the event, I would show up at three in the morning! He said I’d have to go to Milwaukee for that. I mentioned that the Dodgers will be in Milwaukee right after Randy’s birthday. He noticed my scrapbook and commented on it. I told him I should have him sign it, right next to the other Josh, since they were always competing with each other during the Think Cure auction.
When it was time to start the autograph session, they took the row of tables in the middle first. Apparently, showing up at 9 AM and being the first people there really didn’t give us much of an advantage. You’ll see why later on. When it was our row of booths turn to go, we found out that we got the table we didn’t want. Nina had photos with Bobby and Ken that she wanted signed. Afterward, we realized I should’ve gotten the photos from her since I switched lines. Nina and Cat actually got ahead of me, so I managed to get a picture of Tommy signing her baseball for her. He took a spoonful of soup, signed her ball, placed the ball on the table, and then rolled it to her!
It was my turn to get my things signed. Andre was up first. With the help of others, we selected the photo from the paper when Andre “reacts after his bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning brings home the decisive run” against the Phillies in Game 2 of the NLCS. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind adding the Silver Slugger on there. I had to think about it, cause I almost said “gold” but then I was like, no, wrong precious metal. So, he wrote “2009 Silver Slugger” and then he paused and added “+” and kept going. After he signed his name, he said “I added that.” “That” being, he added “MLB Clutch Performer of the Year”. How sweet was that! Since he wrote all that, I was holding up the line. .
At first I felt bad about it. But afterward, I didn’t feel so bad
anymore. I noticed people were taking photos with him, so I asked him
if I could get a quick one. I apologized for holding up the line. I have 3 other photos with Andre, one in 2007, two in 2008. This one was definitely the BEST of the four I have. Sadly, I didn’t have one with him in 2009. So I missed a year. LOL I think the only person who I have a photo with EVERY year is Steve Lyons. Last year, the only opportunity I really had at getting a photo with him was either the Caravan or Photo Day. And you all know what happened at Photo Day. If you don’t, long story short, Andre didn’t stop to take a photo with anyone (at least not that I’ve heard or seen so far). At last year’s caravan, I suppose I could’ve tried, but I didn’t think about it. At least last year, I got a fist bump from him!
Here’s Andre signing my scrapbook. After Andre, it was Ken Landreaux, Bobby Castillo, and Rudy Law. I asked Bobby if he had any french fries yet? Last year at Canter’s, he came by our table and saw our food sitting there. He said he was so hungry because they hadn’t fed them yet. We offered him some of our fries. He took some … and kept coming back for more! When I came to Rudy, I pulled out a baseball card that I had found in my collection. He saw the inside cover when I pulled it out and he commented that he already signed the book. I told him, yeah, he signed it at least year’s event when it was only this (two fingers) big. He asked me how did the book get so big? I told him it does it by itself as I add more articles to it. He told me thanks for coming and I told him, anytime.
After I got my things signed, I went back to our table. We hung around and mingled. I told David and his wife thanks for swapping with me. After people paid for their checks and got their autographs, the screening room cleared out. About half an hour into the event, Tommy Lasorda left and they combined the two tables into one long table so it didn’t matter what color wristband you had! Man, too bad we weren’t further back in line. I already have Tommy’s autograph and so did Cat. We wanted to see our friends Bobby and Ken (and of course Andre). Like I said earlier, apparently being the first people to show up at 9 didn’t really give us much of an advantage. I got to talk to Jon SooHoo (the official photographer of the Dodgers -
and my fellow John Marshall High School alum) and Josh Rawitch again. I told him I was serious about having him in my book, since I have the other Josh. He made a comment about he’s not a player, so he doesn’t have a number to put by his name or even KABC like Josh did, so under his name, he wrote “PR Guy”. It’s great that Josh took his time to talk to us.