Friday, December 20, 2013

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Albany Devils 11/11/13

The Islanders' affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, have played in Albany agains the Devils a few times this season. I went to two of those games. Here is the story of the first one of those.

The first time the Sound Tigers were in Albany, it was early November. After the game, a 5-2 Devils win, I went to my usual spot outside near where the bus leaves. Very quickly, players started coming out. I didn't take many pictures of the Sound Tigers, they were leaving as quickly as they could and didn't wast time.

One of the few people I recognized walking out was the now recently called up Ryan Strome. He signed my team photo, a 4x6 I took of him at Islanders training camp this past January, then walked onto the bus after signing for other people. I realized that I forgot to ask him to sign the Islanders puck I brought with me. Fortunately, he went out to make a phone call, and he signed the puck for me before he walked onto the bus.

Some of the players thanked me for being an Islanders fan, while others just wanted to get on the bus as soon as possible. One of the people I've seen many times in an Isles jersey is Jon Sim. Sim agreed to a 25 game tryout contract with Bridgeport. I met Sim a few years ago at an Islanders charity event, and I had a picture taken with him. I printed it out, and Sim signed it for me on his way to the bus, as well as my team photo. 

That same day a few years ago, I met Calvin de Haan. He was recently called up, but he was in Bridgeport back in early November. As he walked out to the bus, he signed the photo I took with him and Andy Hilbert. Unfourtunately, he signed it in blue right on top of his blue jersey. Oh well, it still looks fine. He also signed another 4x6 photo that I found online. The pictures is of him and current Devil Tim Sestito battling during the 2009 preseason. Sestito also signed it for me after the game.

One of the other players I was able to recognize was 6'5'' goaltender Anders Nilsson. When he came out, other people had him sign, then he signed my 4x6 photo and team photo. He looks taller in person than he does when watching on TV. Shortly after Nilsson went on the bus, I asked another player walking out what his name was. He responded by saying, "Anders Lee." He  signed a 4x6 photo from his first NHL goal and my team photo before boarding the bus.

While all of this was going on, most of the other players signed my team photo before boarding the bus. The last person to sign it was Sound Tigers head coach Scott Pellerin, a former NHL player. Here is a picture of him right before he got on the bus.

Here is the team photo I got signed that day, along with a list of everyone that signed it in no particular order.

11-Jon Sim 21-Dallas Jackson 18-Ryan Strome 3-Andrey Pedan
10-Scott Mayfield 26-Mike Halmo 17-Nick Larson 14-Greg Miller
39-Joe Diamond 2-Mike Dalhuisen 12- Calvin de Haan
72-Jason Clark 45-Anders Nilsson 5-Mike Keenan 22-Alan Quine
19-Riley Wetmore 9-Anders Lee 49-Justin Johnson
Scott Pellerin's signature is right under Anders Nilsson's.
Assistant coach Eric Boguniecki signed on the Islanders logo on the top.

That same day, I got some Albany Devils autographs as well.

At the time, Rostislav Olesz was recently sent down to Albany. Since then, he has went back to Europe to play there for at least the rest of this season. Olesz signed a 4x6 photo for me and also signed my Albany Devils team photo. Probably one of the few Albany Devils items Olesz signed in his time in the AHL.

Devils assistant coach Sergei Brylin signed a puck for me in gold.

Stefan Matteau, son of Rangers great Stephan Matteau signed an autograph card for me, as well as my team photo.

I was also able to add to the Albany Devils team photo I started getting signed on 10/25. Now it is signed by the following players in no order:
26-Mike Hoeffel 28-Dan Kelly 9-Joe Whitney 32-Riley Boychuk
29-Raman Hrabarenka 14-Reid Boucher 12-Tim Sestito 20-Rostislav Olesz
19-Mike Sislo 18-Stefan Matteau 2-Seth Helgeson 15-Harri Pesonen 10-Rod Pelley
34-Reece Scarlett 17-Scott Timmins 31-Scott Wedgewood 1-Keith Kinkaid
16-Corbin McPherson. Sergei Brylin signed it under the word Devils in the photo.

I went to another Sound Tigers game in Albany, and should have another blog entry on that shortly. Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Springfield Falcons in Albany

Recently, I went to the Times Union Center after one of the Albany Devils games. The Devils had beat the Springfield Falcons, AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. I arrived just as the game was ending, and this is going to be a brief entry.

Earlier, I had printed out a 8.5x11 photo from the Falcons' website commemorating their 20th season. That and a couple pucks were the only things I brought to get signed.

Here are a few blurry picture I took on my iPhone of some of the Falcons signing for me. It was freezing cold out, I was wearing gloves, forgive the blurriness.
Sean Collins
Jonathan Marchessault

While players were getting onto the bus, one of the coaches looked familiar to another one of the people getting autographs. That person turned out to be Manny Legace, former NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup Champion. I quickly rummaged through my pockets and picked out one of my pucks, and Legace had no problem signing it and signing for anyone else that wanted an autograph. 

As players were going to the bus, most of them stopped and signed for me. Tim Erixon walked all the way around the bus and said, "I'm not signing." I might have missed out on a couple players toward the end of the night as it got colder. But here is the photo I got signed and the autographs I got. 
In no particular order: Here are the autographs I got that I can recognize. 
4-Will Weber 24-Andrew Joudrey 40-Alex Aleardi 12-Ryan Craig 
17-Sean Collins 22-Ilari Melart 26-Cody Bass 30-Jeremy Smith
16-Michael Chaput 27-Cody Goloubef 21-Jake Hansen

There is one other player, he wrote the #5 on the bottom middle part of the photo. I don't know who that is as there is no #5 on the roster. If anyone knows who that is, any help would be great. Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt signed on the NS in the word Falcons. Assistant Coach Jared Bedner also signed it, on the bottom right part of the photo. 

I didn't have anything for the Devils players, but I did get a good picture of Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood signing for someone else. I'll get him on something else when I find something else to get Devils on. 

The Devils have a few more home games in December, and I should be going to at least one of them before I go back to Long Island for winter break. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Through the Mail Tales

Now that I am home for the Thanksgiving holiday, today is a good time to catch up on some autographs that I've gotten in the mail over the past few weeks.

Way back in April, I sent a card to Curtis Granderson in hopes of getting some sort of response. Now a free agent, Granderson is known for sending signed photos to people who send him requests in the mail. After seven months and an entire season, I found my SASE on my desk. When I opened it, I found my card unsigned along with what you see on the right. So what if it's a little faded, it's still a great autograph from a great player. Hopefully he goes somewhere where he won't kill the Mets next season.

This next autograph fits right in with the theme of baseball and the Mets. I sent a few cards to former Mets closer Billy Wagner at his home in Virginia. After a few months of waiting, my SASE came back to me. When I opened it, I was happy to see all of the cards I sent perfectly signed in black. Wagner is one of the few people around that writes out all of the letters in his name. The Mets card might be a little smudged, but overall this is a great success from one of my favorite pitchers.

On another subject, I sent an email to former Colts coach Tony Dungy through his website. I asked for an autograph on anything. A photo, business card, pamphlet for his book. I included my address in my email in case they actually wanted to send me something. To my surprise, I got a large envelope from Dungy's foundation a few weeks later. When I opened it, I was happy to find a signed 8x10 photo of the great coach.

That is all the mail autographs I have to share in this entry. I've been to a few Albany Devils games and will blog about those as soon as I can. If you want any help graphing, feel free to comment or tweet to me. Have a great holiday season!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hartford Wolfpack @ Albany Devils 10/25/13

As I mentioned HERE, going to Albany Devils game is fairly cheap, as well as fairly easy for me. Recently, I went to the Times Union Center for a game between the Devils and the Hartford Wolfpack,  AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.

I went with one of my friends, and we had gotten tickets right next to the tunnel where this visitors would walk onto the ice. Since the game was on a Friday, tickets were only $10 each because we are college students. Included with the tickets was a voucher for a $1 hot dog and $1 soda.

After we each paid $2 for our hot dog and soda, my friend and I went to our seats just in time to catch the end of warm-ups. Once there, we were in a good spot to watch all the players run down the tunnel toward the locker room. As recently demoted Arron Asham was heading to the locker room, a fan asked him to sign something, and to my surprise, Asham obliged. I've never seen a hockey player in full uniform and skates sign something for someone after warm-ups, but Asham signed a card for the fan, as you can see on the right, and went on his way. If you are wondering about me, I'll get to that later.

As for the game, Hartford took an early lead and then Albany responded against a goalie that had never played an AHL game before. After one period the score was tied 1-1. When the Wolfpack took the ice, I took blurry photos of them running down the runway like the one on the left.

In the second period, the Albany offense exploded, scoring three goals against Hartford goalie Jeff Malcolm. The Devils maintained a 4-1 lead going into the third period.

In the third period, Hartford put up a good fight, scoring two goals to cut the lead to 4-3, but they couldn't get the equalizer and the Devils got the 4-3 win. Harri Pesonen had two penalty shots for the Devils, but couldn't put either one in the net.

Earlier, one of my friends had told me where the players exit is at the Times Union Center. Sure enough, I walked to where he told me it would be, and the bus was waiting for the visiting Phantoms. I had printed out 8.5x11 logo photos for both the Wolfpack and Devils. I walked to within 10 feet of the door where the players would be leaving, and the waiting began.

The first player to walk through the door was Darroll Powe, a healthy scratch for the Wolfpack. He signed my team photo and also signed an index card for me. I brought the index cards for random players that I would want more than one of and for people I didn't print a photo for. You can see the index card on the left.

I also got index cards of Brodie Dupont and Danny Kristo, top Rangers prospects playing for the Wolfpack.

After Powe, one of the first players to come out to the bus was Arron Asham himself. Asham had left the game in the middle of the third period, and I was worried that he had been traded or injured and wouldn't be there. But, when I asked him why he wasn't there, Asham said he pulled his groin. He signed two 4x6 photos for me and then took a very blurry picture with me. I met him about a decade ago when he was an Islander and I was a member of the Islanders booster club, and it was good to meet him again. I also got a photo of him on the Flyers, where he is fighting Cam Janssen, who is now playing for Albany. You can see that photo below. I didn't get Janssen's autograph on this day, but I should get it another day.

After that, another former Islander, Aaron Johnson, came out and signed for everyone. I had his headshot from when he was an Islander many years ago, and he signed that as well as my Rangers logo photo. I had a new gold marker and wanted to try it out, and it doesn't look that bad.

Shortly after Johnson got on the bus, the person I had been waiting all night for walked out the door. Micheal Haley, current Ranger and former Islander, came outside with a few of his teammates. If you don't recognize his name, maybe THIS will help remind you. And if that doesn't trigger your memory, click HERE. I wasn't sure if it was him, so I asked, "Micheal?" He responded by walking right over to me and signing a few photos that I printed out, as well as a puck. One of the photos is of Haley fighting Cam Janssen. A big assist goes to my friend for getting the puck signed for me. Haley also took a photo with me. You can see the other Haley autographs I got at the bottom of this entry.

As the night went on, many players from both teams came out and signed for the four or five people that were there. I wish I could remember who the player on the right is, but I can't. I know it is a Devil, but I can't put a name to the face. After a while, my friend and I thought it would be time to go, but we wanted to wait another two minutes in case someone else walked out. As we took our first steps away from the arena, Sergei Brylin came walking out the door. He signed for everyone, as you can see in the video below. Brylin is a special assistant for the Devils organization, and he was watching the game.

After getting Brylin, my friend and I took the bus back to campus and called it a night. Here are the autographs I didn't already picture.

Here are the team photos I got signed.

Albany Devils:
#31 Scott Wedgewood #14 Reid Boucher
#9 Joe Whitney  #10 Rod Pelley
#26 Mike Hoeffel #12 Tim Sestito
#26 Dan Kelly #15 Harri Pesonen
#16 Chris McKelvie #2 Seth Helgeson
Sergei Brylin Signed under the word Devils in this photo.

Hartford Wolfpack:
#6 Andrew Yogan #17 Darroll Powe #16 Oscar Lindberg
#22 Andrew Rowe #44 Aaron Johnson #29 Danny Kristo
#5 Tommy Hughes #24 Brendan Nash #91 Brodie Dupont
#4 Conor Allen #8 Dylan McIlrath #26 Ryan Borque
#3 Sam Klassen #25 Danny Syvret #15 Marek Hrivik
#18 Michael St. Croix
Former Ranger Jeff Beukeboom signed on the bottom. His signature is sideways going onto the bottom of the word Rangers.

I'll be back at the Times Union Center in a few weeks. Thanks for reading. Good Luck Graphing!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Recent Autograph Tales

I didn't know whether or not to make this an autograph adventure. There were definitely an adventure involved in getting some autographs you will see later in this entry. But, I'll start with some of the through the mail autographs I've gotten recently.

In early September, I had seen that Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. tweeted that he signs his fan mail. Knowing that, I sent two 4x6 photos to Citi Field. About a month later, I was happy to open my mail and find these inside. As you can see on the photo to the left, Young had written some sort of inscription that I haven't seen before. It looked to read #R2BI the first time I looked at it. Confused, I sent a tweet to @EYJr to ask what it said. To my delight, he favorited, retweeted, then responded to my tweet as you can see below. If you look at some of the pictures he has posted on his account, you see that he has written that inscription before and constantly tweets about his interactions with fans. 
Former Braves catcher Greg Olson signed a card and a photo for me. I really like the picture of him that I found online after a quick search for his name. 

Now it's time for the autograph adventures part of this blog entry.

As I might have mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I am currently a SUNY Albany student. A few weeks ago, I was working in my room at night. Suddenly, one of my friends told me that there was a reception going on for a famous Broadway actress named Carolee Carmello, who happens to be a UAlbany graduate. She had performed a concert on campus and there was a reception in her honor following. My friend went on to show me the autographs he got, as well as a picture he took with her. I looked it up, and luckily for me, the reception was still going on.

I grabbed a sharpie, brought my autograph book, and went to where the reception was being held. I wasn't allowed to go where the reception was because I didn't have a ticket, so I waited in the lobby of the building near where the only exit was. After about 20 minutes of waiting, Carmello walked down to the lobby where I was. I went up to her, and told her that I was sorry for missing the performance and asked her if she could sign some things for me. She was happy to sign something that I ended up giving away as a gift, as well as a program for me. I found a stack of programs on a table in the lobby and figured it would be better than my autograph book. While she had my sharpie, a few other people showed up wanting autographs, and she was happy to oblige anyone that asked. Before I left, I took a picture with her, shook her hand, and thanked her for everything. She thanked me for coming and I went back to my room to thank my friend for letting me know about the event.

Thanks for reading! Best of luck graphing! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Autograph Adventures: Aberdeen Ironbirds

As a student at the University at Albany, I have access to a wide variety of sports teams. Recently, I attended a couple of Tri-City ValleyCats games. The ValleyCats are the Short-Season Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros.  The most recent game I attended was a playoff matchup against the Aberdeen IronBirds, the Baltimore Orioles affiliate.

I got to the game as soon as the gates opened. I had printed out an Orioles logo on a large piece of photo paper. I had also printed out a basic Orioles 4x6 photo and a 4x6 photo of Zach Britton. Britton was rehabbing with the IronBirds, but unfortunately he wasn't at the game.
Chace Sisco                                                                 Chance Sisco

Trey Mancini
Trey Mancini

Hunter Harvey, the Orioles' 1st round pick in the 2013 draft, was scheduled to pitch in the game. Some of the other people graphing at the game informed me that Bryan Harvey, Hunter's father and a former MLB All-Star, was in attendance. After someone pointed him out to me, I walked over to Bryan, and he signed a page in my autograph book. A nearby usher was confused as to why people were asking Bryan to sign things. Bryan's response to that was, "I was a big leaguer." Classic response. 

As I always do, I brought my glove with me to this game. The ValleyCats have a policy where fans can enter and exit the stadium as much as they want, as long as they get their hand stamped by an usher first. During the game, I just stood in the area behind home plate, waiting for my chance to try and get a ball. It would come. 

Foul Ball I got in the 5th inning 
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Hunter Harvey was pitching to Yonathan Mejia of the ValleyCats. Early in the at bat, Mejia fouled off a pitch. The ball ended up flying out of the small Joseph L Bruno Stadium and going into the parking lot on the third base side. As soon as I saw the ball go out of the park, I was running full speed toward where I thought the ball would go. When I reached the parking lot, I saw that nobody else was there. Suddenly, I noticed a small speck on the pavement about 100 feet away from where I was. I sprinted in that direction, and found the ball lying on the ground right next to a car tire. I am pretty sure the ball bounced, hit the car tire, and came to rest right there. It was a beauty too, perfectly rubbed up with mud. I took the photo on the right as soon as I went back into the stadium. 

That alone made my night, as I have never been able to get my hands on a game foul ball from a major league stadium, so getting the foul ball felt good. Later on, in the 8th inning, I was still standing in the same spot. In the top of the 8th inning, ValleyCats closer Gonzalo Sanudo was pitching to Jared Breen. Early in the count, Breen fouled off a pitch that went out of the stadium on the first base side. Once again, I was running to the direction of where I thought the ball was going to be. After looking for a couple minutes, I gave up and decided to go back into the stadium. As I was walking back in, I heard a ruffle in a tree near the side of the stadium. I looked up to see that Breen had hit another ball out of the stadium. This one hit a tree, and was coming straight to me. The ball hit the tree, bounced off the pavement, and then I caught it in my glove before it could go past me. I took a photo of the tree from the spot where I caught the ball after the game. Just like that I had actually caught a foul ball, and gotten my second one of the night. I took a (slightly blurry) photo of that ball when I came back into the stadium as well. 

I had gotten two foul balls during the game, and I was happy to say the least, as you can see in the photo below. 

After the game, I hung around the IronBirds clubhouse and got pretty much the entire time to finish signing my photo paper. I also got former big leaguers Alan Mills (Pitching Coach) and Matt Merullo (Manager) to sign a Orioles 4x6 logo photo that I printed. Mills quoted different verses of the bible on both autographs I also got Hunter Harvey to sign it as he may be in the big leagues one day in the near future. 

Here is the big photo paper I got signed by almost everyone. 
Here is a list in no particular order of everyone that signed it. 
Coaches- Matt Merullo, Alan Mills, 
15- Paco Figueroa
30-Steven Brault  16-Garret Cortright 
33-Donnie Hunt  23-Hunter Harvey
26-Michael Joseph  56-Dylan Rheault
13-Austin Urban   12-Sebastian Vader
21-Jimmy Yacabonis  19-Jack Graham
35-Chance Sisco  9-Jared Breen
2-Jeff Kemp  34-Ronarsy Ledesma
51-Trey Mancini 10-Tanner Rust
6-Hector Veloz  53-Conor Bierfeldt
17-Manny Hernandez 
28-Mike Yastrzemski 

If I missed anyone let me know! I think I got everyone. Best of luck graphing!