Monday, February 2, 2015

Jack McKeon and Multiple Jets: What a Weekend

Some weekends are more fun than others, and this weekend was one of them. Three straight days of graphing opportunities arose, and I took full advantage of all of them, and covered a wide variety of different sports while doing so.

Friday 1/30
Last season, the St. John's IceCaps knocked out the Albany Devils in the first round of the AHL playoffs. I met some of the IceCaps, the Winnipeg Jets AHL Affiliate, after game one last season. They were nice. This year, they were coming back to Albany, and I figured I'd try and get some more autographs.

Since I had some extra time on Friday, I went down towards the Times Union Center before the game, something I rarely do. I didn't have too much stuff, so I printed out a couple 4x6 photos to get a bunch of people on.

I didn't have much individual stuff, but one person I did have stuff for was Carl Klingberg. He came walking out and signed a 4x6 photo I had printed out of him. He is one of the Jets top prospects and he should be in the NHL again real soon. He also said that his hometown is Sweden is closer to St. Johns than we thought it was.

Many other players were walking toward me, and I got most of them to sign one of two other photos I had printed. One was a basic Winnipeg Jets 4x6 logo paper, and the other was a photo I took before game one of last year's playoffs. Here are both photos and everyone that signed them.
34-JC Lipon 16-John Albert 25-Blair Riley
8-Brenden Kichton 48-Carl Klingberg 7-Kris Fredheim

19-Kyle MacKinnon 26-Nicolas Blanchard 50-Austen Brassard
7-Keaton Ellerby 49-Julien Brouillette 9-Ryan Olsen 

That was all I got from the IceCaps on Saturday. The IceCaps then beat the Devils on Friday, and lost to them on Saturday. 

Saturday 1/31
A friend of mine works for the Amsterdam Mohawks, a collegiate summer-league team. Every year, the Mohawks have a winter hot-stove dinner with a guest speaker. Doc Gooden was one of the speakers a few years ago. My friend invited me to join him for the dinner, and I was happy to accept the invitation. This year, former Marlins manger and World Series Champion manager Jack McKeon was scheduled to be the guest speaker, as he played in the Amsterdam area in the 1950s. 

After getting a little lost on the way there, my friend and I made it to the event during the cocktail hour. An autograph signing with McKeon was scheduled for the cocktail hour, but my friend and I missed that portion of it. Eventually, we sat down for the dinner. A few people gave speeches, and food was served. I was able to grab photo that he already signed at the signing during the dinner. So, at least I wouldn't go home empty handed. 

Eventually, I noticed McKeon go into a room where a silent auction was being held. He was taking pictures with a couple people who were honored at the event. After the photos were over, I walked up to McKeon while he was standing by himself and asked him if he could sign a couple cards for me. He said he would and I handed him a sharpie. I put the cards on a nearby table and McKeon leaned over and signed them all beautifully. I then thanked him, shook his hand, and told him I was looking forward to his speech. Here are the cards he signed for me.

His speech was pretty funny. My favorite moment is when he recalled his playing days and said, "I hit three ways, right, left, and seldom." That drew a large applause from the crowd. He talked about his managerial days, his time in the Amsterdam area, and many other topics. He was pretty funny and one of his main messages was to follow your dream. He said his dream wasn't accomplished until he was 72 and managed the Marlins to a World Series title. He is the oldest manager in MLB history to win the World Series. On our way out of the dinner, my friend and I stopped McKeon and asked if we could get pictures. He happily obliged, and we left the dinner in a good mood. 

Sunday 2/1 
Super Bowl Sunday, always a fun day. Long story short, a few of the football coaches at my college played in the NFL, and I heard they were doing an autograph signing during a basketball game. I had found a card of longtime New York Jets center Jim Sweeney at home a few weeks ago. I was happy to get that card signed and a friend gave me a card of Nate Byham, a new assistant coach, which he signed. 

That is it for this entry. It was a fun weekend and I should have some more stories up soon. Good luck graphing and thanks for reading! 

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