After taking the train to the game, we arrived at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda with 15 minutes to spare before the gates opened. After talking to Zack Hample and Mateo Fischer for a little while, it was time to enter. Immediately after entering, I ran down to a spot in the front row right behind the Reds dugout.
A few minutes later, I saw a Reds player signing autographs at the dugout. I wasn't sure who it was, but I threw him my baseball and pen anyway. He signed it and tossed it back up to me. After looking at the signature, as you can see to the right, I discovered it was reliever Sam LeCure.
Shortly after that, I wandered over to the other end of the dugout and noticed Dusty Baker having a conversation with a man who wasn't in any uniform. The only thing I could notice was that he was wearing a hat that had the number 42 on it. I'm guessing it was after the Jackie Robinson movie that was recently released, but I will never be completely sure. When I asked someone else who that was, I was surprised to find that it was former Mets manager and Yankee Captain Willie Randolph. After he wrapped up his conversation with Dusty Baker, I asked Willie if he could sign, and he motioned for me to throw a ball and a pen to him. I threw him the one official MLB ball I had brought with me, and he signed it very nicely on the side panel and threw it back to me. He actually wrote out most of the letters in his name, which you don't see to often today.
Later on during batting practice, I just missed Dusty Baker and nearly got Shin-Soo Choo to sign my baseball, but he just didn't take it. Even though I missed those two great players, I still got another great player to sign. Brandon Phillips, aka @DatDudeBP, was coming to the dugout after taking his round of BP, and he started talking with some of the fans behind the dugout. Eventually he started signing, and I was fortunate enough to get him to sign the same ball LeCure had signed earlier. There was a funny moment when two people had tossed him gloves to sign, yet he didn't have a pen, as you can see on the left. HERE is a video that I took of Phillips signing. I'm pretty sure Phillips signs before every game, and if you are ever at a Reds game, try your best to get him and you won't be disappointed.
The last autograph I would get during the day would be Mat Latos. He started signing balls at the dugout steps, and he signed mine right in the middle of a large pack of people. He has a very unique signature to say the least. After he tossed my ball back to me, I fumbled around in my pockets trying to get a card out. To my surprise, Latos kept signing, probably for about 15 minutes. Eventually I got my Reds team card out, clipped it to a blue sharpie, and Mat pointed to me and asked me to throw it to him. After he signed it, he tossed it back to me and went down into the clubhouse to prepare for the game. Turns out Latos wasn't even on the Reds when that card was made, but it looks good either way.
That would be all the autographs I got for the day. I sat down in my seats and tried to get a third out ball from Joey Votto, but was unsuccessful each time. I just missed out on a foul ball that Votto hit in the third inning, as it landed in the section to my left, and I had no chance to grab it as it rolled even farther away from me.
When the Reds finished off a 4-3 win, I went to the tunnel where the umpires enter and exit the field. Home plate umpire Tom Hallion was getting heckled from many of the unhappy Mets fans as he exited the field for some questionable decisions and calls he made during the game. After flipping a ball to Mateo and giving a ball to each of the two young kids that were also near the tunnel, I saw him take one other ball out of his pouch. I yelled out, "Tom, good game." He definitely heard me as after that he placed a rubbed up but unused ball in my glove then walked down the tunnel. That was the first baseball I had snagged for the season.
After the game, I met up with Zack, Mateo, and a third ballhawk named Mark, who had caught Marlon Byrd's home run earlier, and we all posed with the Byrd home run ball. From left to right, it is Zack, Mark, Mateo, and I am on the right in the yellow shirt.
That's it for my first game of the season. Thanks for reading and have an amazing day!