Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ron Darling Signed Baseball Update

About four weeks ago, I met Darryl Strawberry at a Citibank. He wasn't the scheduled guest that day, the scheduled guest was Ron Darling, who cancelled at the last minute. Since I didn't have any stuff for Strawberry, I ended up getting a baseball signed. The Citibank people got a bucket of baseballs and handed them out to get signed.

While at the signing, the Citibank representatives were handing out forms asking for people's information. They said that Ron Darling wanted to make up for not being able to come to the signing, and the form would be for a signed baseball that would be mailed to your house. I filled out the form with all of my basic info and my address. There was an option for either a personalized or not personalized ball, and I chose to get a personalized one. A few minutes after filling out one form, I was handed another form. I figured that I'd fill out one for my dad and get it not personalized.

Fast forward a few weeks. Two packages arrived at my door. When I opened one up, this is what I saw inside.
I honestly didn't think I was going to get this in the mail. I honestly thought that the Mets and Citibank were just going to forget about everything, but this was a pleasant surprise to find in the mail. 

When I opened up the ROMLB box, I was delighted to see this. 
Perfect. The cube they included was unwrapped and unopened, and a perfect place to display the ball. The personalization isn't the best, but it works. Darling probably had hundreds of balls to sign, and I can't blame him for rushing the personalization. The signature is spectacular though, and wrote out all of his name. 

I opened the other package to find the unpersonalized ball, also with it's own cube. 
Also included in each package was a letter from the Citibank branch manager thanking me for coming to the signing and for being a Mets fan. She thanked everyone's loyalty and I'm sure everyone who got one of the balls was happy to open their mail one day. Just a pure class move from the Mets and Citibank right here. 

That's it for this entry. I'm back in Albany, so I don't know whose autograph I'll get next, but that is what makes this fun. Thanks for reading and have a great day! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cubs @ Mets 8/18/14 at Citi Field

After a pretty successful series last week at Citi Field, I was back one more time before I go back to college. The day before the game, I got great tickets on StubHub. I went to the game with my mom, who had never been to a Mets game with me before.

The game was a bright and early one, with a 12:10 p.m. first pitch on a Monday afternoon. I arrived at about 10:30, 20 minutes after the gates had opened. That wasn't early enough for me, but it was almost too early for my mom. Upon arriving at the gate, I noticed something I'd never seen before: no line. Usually when entering Citi Field, there is a line dozens, if not hundreds of people deep waiting to get in. But this time, I just showed up and walked through the gate no problem.

Being that it was also a Military Monday at Citi Field, I figured I'd get in on the act. I dug up my camouflage Mets hat that was a giveaway at a game at Shea Stadium in 2008 and wore it for the first time in recent memory. Once I got inside, I squeezed myself into a corner spot in the front row right next to the Mets dugout. Within a few minutes of getting to my spot, reliever Josh Edgin signed a baseball for me. I don't have a picture of him signing, but take my word, he signed for everybody that wanted one. You can see the signed ball at the bottom of this entry.

Since there was no batting practice, there wasn't much action happening before the game. The only other person to come over in the long lull before the National Anthem was Mets manager Terry Collins. He came and chatted with someone he knew in the crowd behind the dugout for a few minutes before walking over toward the crowd of people I was in. When he was near me, I took a selfie with him when he wasn't looking up. Unfortunately, I had already put the baseball Edgin signed away by the time Collins came over. I also had a signed baseball from him that I got last season. Instead of getting another one signed, Collins signed a blank autograph card for me. Here is a brief video I took of him signing for some of the people.

After Collins, there was no action until the National Anthem. I sat down with my mom in a spot where I figured we had the best chance to meet Curtis Granderson. I had met him on Thursday, and wanted to try again. Granderson signed three cards for me on Thursday, and I brought three more in hopes of getting them signed. True to his form, Granderson came over after the national anthem and started signing. I gave my mother the baseball in hopes of getting that signed as well. Here's a video I took as I got closer to Granderson, with a shoutout to my Aunt Jill (huge Yankees fan) at the end.

In the still frame of the above video before clicking play, Granderson is holding a card and blue sharpie. That was my card. He signed one card and then handed the card and sharpie back to me. After, I gave my camera to a nearby security guard to try and take a picture with Granderson. My mom was a couple people behind me in the line of people, but she managed to sneak her way forward when she saw a picture being taken. It came out great, as you can see on the left.

After the picture, my mom handed Granderson the ball Edgin already signed and a pen. Granderson quickly signed the ball and handed it back to my mom. For someone who hasn't gotten an autograph before, she did a great job. Also, if I didn't compliment my mom, what kind of son would I be? (Don't answer that.) Here's the card Granderson signed, and the ball that he and Edgin both signed. Edgin's signature is on the top.

After meeting Granderson, we went back to watch the game from our seats. If I haven't mentioned this already, the Mets stink. That's all for this entry. I probably won't be at another Mets game this season. If that's the case, than I think I went out on a high note. I will have another entry up soon once I'm back in school. Have any questions or want any tips? Have you met Curtis Granderson? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nationals @ Mets 8/13/14 and 8/14/14 at Citi Field

I was at the final two games of the New York Mets recent series against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, and I figured I'd combine the two games into one entry.

Wednesday August 13
The decision to go on Wednesday was a last-minute one, as the weather forecast wasn't looking good until a few hours before the game was set to begin. Ultimately, the decision was to go and go early for batting practice.

My friend and I arrived at Citi Field at about 4:45 p.m. When we got to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda gate, there were two lines of people waiting to get in the gate. The lines were formed behind two tables that would be used for bag checks. There was a third table set up about 30 feet to the right of where the second line formed behind Zack Hample. I knew the third table was going to be a line, so my friend and I decided to start the line. Within 15 minutes of starting the line, dozens of people were behind me.

Since I was in the front of the line, when the gates opened at 5:10, I was one of the first people inside. I went down the third base line where I figured the Nationals pitchers would be warming up. When I was running down the stairs, I saw a security guard holding a ball while making a throwing motion. I raised up my glove in acknowledgement of him, and within a few seconds we made eye contact. The guard threw the ball as far as he could, but I was just too far away for him. The ball clanked off a seat two rows in front of where I was. But, since nobody was there, I walked down the stairs and picked up the ball off the floor. I waved and thanked the security guard before going to my normal spot.

Eventually, I made it to my normal spot and watched the Nationals pitchers warm up. A few other people were standing near me, but I had enough personal space to myself. After wandering for a few seconds, my eyes widened when I saw a ball in a puddle. When I noticed nobody looking at me, I quickly snapped the photo on the left, then picked up the waterlogged ball. It was completely soaked when I picked it up. As I'm writing this entry a few days later, it is still wet and heavy. Right after I picked it up, someone told me, "Nice grab." I'm guessing the person saw the ball, but just didn't get to it before I did. Within five minutes of entering the stadium, I had already gotten two baseballs. I was off to a good start.

Most of the Nationals pitchers were warming up just a few feet in front of me. The closest player was Doug Fister, who was playing catch with fellow pitcher Tanner Roark. When they were finishing their catch, Roark was walking closer toward Fister. At the end, the two of them were throwing the ball to each other from behind their backs and through the legs from about five feet away. After Fister signaled that he was done, Roark turned his back to the crowd and flipped the ball into the stands. It landed a row or two behind me and hit a seat back. I ran over to grab it, and snatched it off the ground with my bare hand as a sea of other hands descended on where the ball was. I had snagged three baseballs, and didn't need my glove for any of them. Those were all the baseballs I snagged on Wednesday. Here are the balls and the sweet spots. Don't go away, there is more that happened on this day.

Shortly after getting the third baseball, a message was shown on the scoreboard that got my attention. Former Mets and Montreal Expos great Rusty Staub would be doing an autograph signing at the Verizon Studios in center field from 6-7 p.m. Since I was going to be back the next day, I figured I'd go to the signing and get a guaranteed autograph instead of standing around in the cloudy weather. After a brisk jog around the Citi Field concourse with my friend, we made it to the Verizon Studios behind a short line. After about five minutes of waiting, we went inside. No outside items would be signed, just the 4x6 photo they were giving out. My friend and I each went inside and got the signed photo from Staub. About a half hour later, after a rain storm had went through Flushing, I put on my sweatshirt and a different hat. Looking different than I first did when I met Staub, I went inside and got a second photo signed as there was almost no line. Below are the signed photos I got from Staub. That was it for Wednesday, as my friend and I just went to our seats and watched the game after meeting Staub.
Thursday August 14
Less than 24 hours after leaving Citi Field, I was right back at it with a different friend. Unlike the day before, I wasn't at the front of the line. After entering Citi Field, I went right behind the Nationals dugout with my friend. We saw Jordan Zimmerman signing for people further down the line, but couldn't get to him before he ran back to the dugout. Many different Nationals including Bryce Harper and Michael Taylor signed, but not for many people. Thankfully, I did get an autograph from one of the Nationals. 

Adam LaRoche was walking toward the dugout after taking batting practice when a kid in a Nationals jersey asked him to sign. LaRoche stopped, and the kid threw LaRoche a ball and pen. LaRoche signed the ball for the kid, then signed a few more, including mine, before going into the dugout. He actually dropped my ball when I there it, but got it, dusted it off and signed it for me. He used the first kid's black pen for all the balls. He has a nice signature, as you can see on the right. That was the only autograph I got from a member of the Nationals in this series. 

Shortly after getting the autograph from LaRoche, batting practice was over. One of the last players to leave the field was former Met Scott Hairston. He was walking to the dugout with a ball on his hand. As he got closer to the dugout, I asked him for the ball. He then looked up and tossed the ball to me underhanded while walking down the dugout steps. Within two minutes of that, all the players were off the field. One of the Nationals ball boys was tossing balls into the crowd on the other side of the dugout, so I ran over there and got one of the balls that he threw into the crowd of Nationals fans. Within a few minutes, I had quickly snagged two balls, which is all I would catch on the day. Here they are. Keep scrolling down though, I'm not done yet.

Once Nationals BP was over, my friend and I headed over to the Mets side to try and meet one of the best signers in the MLB, Curtis Granderson. Over the course of the season, I noticed that Granderson signs pretty much every single game, just before the game began, in the exact same spot. In hopes of  not getting kicked out by a security guard, I took a seat a few rows back from where I hoped he would sign. After the national anthem, Granderson came right over to where I thought he would be, true to his form. The security guards made everyone form a single file line on one side of the aisle. Here's a short video I took when Granderson walked over.

Eventually, I made my way to the front of the line. The person in front of me was getting a jersey signed, but didn't have a pen. I handed Granderson my blue sharpie and waited for him. As he signed the jersey, I thanked him for coming. While many people were getting baseballs signed, I figured I'd try my luck with cards since I don't usually get them signed at games. I handed Granderson three cards, one on top of the other. He signed all three rather quickly, handing them back to me one at a time as he signed them. It isn't much of a signature, but with a name as long as his, he can be forgiven. I thanked him, then went back toward my seat for the game. You can see the cards below.

My friend got a ball signed on the sweet spot. It seemed like Granderson was only signing balls on the sweet spot after personalizing them. Unfortunately for my friend, Granderson spelled his name wrong. In the crowd yelling for him, something must have gotten lost in his ears. Granderson signed for about ten minutes before going into the dugout at about 7:05, right before the game would begin. 

That was everything I got at these games. It was a good two days autograph and baseball wise. But for the Mets, it was terrible. I won't go into that, as I'm sure you know that already. Thanks for reading. Good luck graphing! Feel free to follow me on Twitter for live updates of what I'm up to. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nassau County Health and Fitness Expo 8/9/14

This past Saturday, August 9, was the annual Nassau County Health, Fitness, and Sports Expo at Mitchel Field on Long Island. I didn't find out about it until the night before, and once I heard Dwight Gooden was going to be there, going to the expo was an easy decision.

While I recently met Darryl Strawberry and Ron Darling, Dwight Gooden was supposed to be one of the scheduled signers. However, he cancelled the day of the first signing with Strawberry. Once I saw on his twitter where he was going, I figured out that it would be easy to go. 

Gooden was scheduled to be at the expo to talk about his drug and alcohol addictions problems, which caused him to miss the parade after the Mets won the 1986 World Series. I knew he would be doing a signing also, but I didn't know what time. 

The expo was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., so I arrived right after the doors opened. After walking in circles around the expo looking for where Gooden was going to be, I found the tent where he would be. The tent was pink for the company he was working with. Once I found it, I was within the first ten in line.

Eventually, Gooden showed up with his son. They sat at the table for a few minutes while security guards and other people arrived. The organizer then went and made an announcement on the main stage that Gooden was signing autographs at the tent. Within ten feet of the tent, there were a few security guards, organizers, among other people. After about five minutes of just sitting at the table fiddling with a pen and his phone, Gooden began signing.

A few minutes after the signing began, I approached Gooden. I shook his hand and introduced myself. Before he could sign my cards, a woman that was working at the expo handed him a sheet of paper and asked him to sign it.
No, she wasn't an autograph seeker. Gooden's son wanted to walk around the expo and play in the various sports clinics that were going on. But to do so, a parent needed to fill out a waiver. Gooden filled out the waiver for his son, signing and spelling out his name along with the date on the waiver. I wonder whatever happened to that waiver.

After signing the waiver, Gooden looked up at me and took the blue sharpie I held in his direction. I placed all the cards I had on the table, including a card of him and Wade Boggs that Boggs had signed in the mail years ago. He signed all three cards that I had, then I took a photo with him, thanked him, and walked off. Gooden had no problem signing multiple items for people as there was no handler sitting next to him. But when the line got longer and he was rushed, he signed one item per person. I was lucky to get the three cards signed that you can see below.

After that, the line for Gooden got longer and I walked around the expo for a while. Eventually, I noticed there were a few members of the New York Cosmos at a table signing. I had been to the Cosmos game against the New York Red Bulls a few weeks earlier, and was familiar with some of the players. However, I had no clue who was signing at this table. Only after getting signed giveaway photos from both Jimmy Mulligan (white shirt) and Jimmy Nealis (blue shirt) did I figure out exactly who they were. The Cosmos were also doing a raffle for tickets to a game and promoting their fall schedule. At the game I went to, they crushed the New York Red Bulls, who are in the MLS, while the Cosmos are in the lower league NASL. Hopefully they continue to bring the fun soccer to Long Island.

 After meeting the Cosmos, it was time for Gooden to give his speech. Here is a short segment of it that I recorded. That's all I have for this entry. Good luck graphing!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Strawberries and a Darling

The past few weeks haven't been too busy for me in terms of getting autographs, but I've done a few things. Here's a quick summary of a few signing that I've been up to recently.

I met Jadeveon Clowney a few weeks ago, but he wasn't the only athlete I met that day. The Meet Mr. Met Tour was near me at a Citibank that day, and I decided that I was going to go. Originally, the signing was scheduled to be with former Met and SNY analyst Ron Darling. However, the day before the signing, it was changed to Dwight "Doc" Gooden. I arrived about 20 minutes before the signing was going to begin. While I was standing on line, one of the Citibank representatives said that Gooden couldn't make it and Darryl Strawberry would be "pinch hitting" for him. During that time, I had a picture taken with Mr. Met. 

For me, that news was sad because I had cards of Gooden that I was hoping to get signed. I wasn't the only one, as people were holding photos of Gooden and other items for him. During the wait for Strawberry, the Citibank representatives were very friendly, handing out water and cookies for people to enjoy. Also, they were giving out forms for people to sign. The forms were for Ron Darling signed baseballs. The Citibank people said Ron Darling felt bad that he couldn't make it and he wanted to make it up for everyone. I filled out a form with my name, email address, mailing address, and whether or not I would like a personalized ball. (I'll take a personalized one, thank you.) The baseball hasn't came yet, but I'll be on the lookout for it.

Eventually, Darryl Strawberry showed up, parking his car in the middle of the street for a Citibank person to move it. I took the photos below of him coming in. I shook his hand as he walked past me into the building.

The line through the Citibank moved quickly. However, few people had stuff for him to sign. People mostly gave him baseballs or generic items to sign. Eventually, as I was getting to the front of the line, a Citibank representative went to the table with bags full of Modells products. During the signing, one of the people had went to the store and bought buckets of baseballs for Strawberry to sign. There was actually a group of people that didn't have items to get signed that were waiting for the baseballs to arrive. Here's a quick video I took of him signing. 

I soon made my way to the front of the line. I thanked Strawberry for coming on short notice, asked if I could get one of the baseballs signed, and thanked him. He then reached into the bucket, grabbed a Rawlings Official League baseball, not an official Major League ball, signed it, and handed it to me. Then I took a photo with him, thanked him again, and soon left the Citibank. The ball is a cheap ball, and the autograph should fade very soon. I knew that when I got it, but I had nothing else to get signed. I wonder how long it will take to fade.

Fast forward a week, and the Meet Mr. Met Tour was going to be back in town. Like the previous week, Ron Darling was supposed to be the scheduled guest. Also like the previous week, the website changed from Darling to Darryl Strawberry. Expecting to just see Darryl Strawberry, I brought a card and a large 5x7 card from the early 1980s that I found in my dad's old collection. Since I assumed it would be just Strawberry, I didn't bring anything for Ron Darling or anybody else.

I arrived about 45 minutes before the signing was going to begin, and the line was much longer than it was for the one the previous week. I got a good spot in line, just outside the front door of the Citibank branch. The line eventually went out the door, and around the corner of the block.

While talking to the people near me on line, one of the Citibank reps told us that Ron Darling would indeed be at the signing with Darryl Strawberry. As I was getting angry at myself for not bringing any Ron Darling items, the Citibank people said there would be photos of Darling and Strawberry available for signing. The rep also told us that no posed photos with Darling and Strawberry would be allowed because of the size of the line.

Once inside the store, everyone had the opportunity to take a photo in front of a green screen with Mr. Met. Since I took one the previous week, I figured I didn't need another. As I was moving my way through the line, a couple Citibank reps and a Nassau County police officer were trying to figure out a way to manage the line more efficiently. People were still entering the bank for banking purposes, and they had to deal with hundreds of baseball fans. 

Eventually, I made it to the front of the line about a half hour after the signing began. The person in line before me handed Strawberry a photo similar to THIS one, and Strawberry chuckled as he signed it. When it was my turn, I handed him the normal size card and larger 5x7 card. He signed both without saying much, then handed them to me and said, "Here you go." I thanked him, shook his hand, and proceeded to move on to Darling. With Darling, I asked for one of the giveaway photos. He grabbed one off the pile, signed it beautifully in blue sharpie, writing every single letter of his name on it. I thanked him, shook his hand, and got off the line.

Here are the autographs I got at the second signing. The Ron Darling photo is an 8x10. The Darryl Strawberry big card is the one with the white border, and it is 5x7 in size. It is made out of the same material as a baseball card, and even has stats on the back. It is a 5x7 card. I don't have much info on how these came to be on how many there are, I just found one in my basement. I wish the Darling photo was one of him playing, but it is a pretty good picture nevertheless.
That's all I have for this entry. It should be a fun month of August ahead. Thanks for reading and good luck graphing! 

UPDATE 8/28/14: Click HERE to see if I got those Ron Darling signed baseballs.