# Friday, 05 March 2010
The Nationals have a road game in Orlando against the Braves today, so I decided to head over to their spring complex to try to get the guys that didn't make the trip.  It was a long, disappointing day, though I did get the guy I wanted the most:

Willie Harris - 2/2 cards, 1/1 05 WS Ball
Livan Hernandez - 2/2
Drew Storen - 2/2 8x10s
Jesus Flores - 2/2

I got to the parking lot at 7am, and a lot of players were already inside.  Most of the players that arrived after I did said they would sign after practice.  The bus that would be taking the travelling players to Orlando arrived at around 8:15.  Livan Hernandez and Drew Storen were the only players to sign in the morning.

At about 9am, my buddy Gil and I head over to the door that the players usually emerge from on their way to the practice fields.  But nobody ever came out.  We met up with one other grapher, and headed towards the main stadium entrance.  The door was open, so we head inside.

The team was stretching on the field.  We headed down to the first base side autograph pit, and waiting for an opportunity to call over the guys we were most interested in:  Willie Harris and Devon White for myself, Adam Dunn for Gil, and Stephen Strasburg for both of us. 

After about an hour and fifteen minutes, Willie Harris headed towards the dugout.  I asked if he would mind signing, and he came over to us.  I started my usual spiel about how I'm a huge White Sox fan, and he was the whole reason I was there.  Willie surprised me with his response.  He told me he is also a huge White Sox fan, and that he loves the South Side.  He also said he thinks he may be heading back to the Sox at some point.  Willie is a great guy, and happily signed my cards and baseball, though he did ask if I planned on selling the baseball.  Gil spoke on my behalf, telling what a crazy Sox fan I am.  All in all, getting Willie has probably been my favorite experience of the spring.

Shortly after getting Harris, several Nationals employees converged on the three of us, and basically kicked us out of the stadium.  We were told that the stadium was closed, and that we should never have been there in the first place.  It seems quite ridiculous to me that THREE fans can't watch the team practice.  They should be happy that any fans wanted to be there in the first place.

We headed back to the parking lot, where several players signed that I had either already gotten (Hernandez, Storen) or that I had nothing for (Balester, Guzman, a few others).  Finally, Stephen Strasburg emerged.  At this point there were 5 of us waiting near the parking lot, including one older gentleman.  We asked Strasburg to sign, and he responded "Not today".  The older guy said "Please, this is the only day I'll be here", to which Stephen coldly replied "I've heard that before". 

I am now officially rooting for Strasburg to be a monumental failure, a la Brien Taylor.  What goes around, comes around.

posted on Friday, 05 March 2010 16:06:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Thursday, 04 March 2010
Next up for "Project Rookie Card" is former Pittsburgh Pirates star Bobby Bonilla.  The White Sox made a great move in selecting Bonilla in the 1985 Rule V draft.  Unfortunately, they traded him back to the Pirates just seven months later for Jose DeLeon.  Bobby sure would have looked great in right field for the Sox in the late 80's and early 90's, rather than the likes of Ivan Calderon, skinny Sammy Sosa, and Dan Pasqua.

You'll notice this card has Bobby's rookie graph, rather than the "Bnl" he began using once he started to make a name for himself.

posted on Thursday, 04 March 2010 23:09:33 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Wednesday, 03 March 2010
Flautosonline on SCN recently held a private signing with Gene Nelson.  Today I received the signed cards that I sent in for the signing.

posted on Wednesday, 03 March 2010 07:27:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Tuesday, 02 March 2010
Today is the last day of my spring training vacation.  I had planned on going to the Astros workout, but unfortunately it was supposed to rain all day, so I ended up taking the day off to recuperate.

I've been in a pretty poor mood all day, as I hate wasting a day.  Luckily, I got a nice return in the mail to lift my spirits.

Billy Pierce - 2/2

Billy is one of my all-time favorite White Sox players, so I'm thrilled to finally have both of his rookie cards signed.  Billy uses a perfect pen for vintage autos, so I didn't even have to send a pen!  I was lucky to get a pretty good deal on both cards, and both are in very nice condition.  Thanks Billy!

posted on Tuesday, 02 March 2010 17:33:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Monday, 01 March 2010
Decided to hit up the Braves for their last workout before the games start.  My main objectives were Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox.

Chipper Jones - 1/2
Bobby Cox - 2/2
Bobby Valentine - 1/1 (OMLB)
Matt Diaz - 2/2
Troy Glaus - 1/2
Jason Heyward - 2/2, 1/1 (8x10)
Brian McCann - 1/2
Nate McClouth - 1/1
Terry Pendleton - 2/2
Takashi Saito - 1/1 (OMLB signing in English and Japanese)

Not a bad day in terms of quality, though a terrible one in terms of quantity. 

Bobby Valentine was in the stands scouting.  I decided to get him on an OMLB, as I think he is one of the best managers of my lifetime.

Matt Diaz seems to be a great guy.  When he saw my two cards, he said "I don't sign the yellow one, I look too ugly!".  Then he said "I'll sign it across my face, just for you."

Nate McClouth has also become a personal favorite because of his personality.  Somebody shouted to him "I saw you throwing the football around, you have a great arm!  You could always fall back on that career."  Nate replied "I know, if only I was taller!" 

I had to run around the entire stadium to get Chipper.  I was in the grassy area beyond left field, and I saw him heading towards the little graphing area near the back fields.  I took off running.  It was probably the furthest I have run since high school.  When I got there, Chipper was just finishing signing for the crowd.  I barely had any breath to ask him to sign!

posted on Monday, 01 March 2010 18:11:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Sunday, 28 February 2010
Today was my final day in Fort Myers.  After the disaster yesterday, I wasn't very hopeful for today.  I was determined to get Jim Thome in the parking lot, no matter what time I had to wake up.

I got there just before 6am.  It was still completely dark outside, so I angled my car in such a way that I could use my headlights to shine a "spotlight" on me so that I could be seen.  Jim rolled in around 6:30, and I was still the only grapher there.  I turned on my headlights, and held up my sign that read "Please Jim, last day of my vacation".  Jim pulled over and signed for me!  I got his full autograph, not the rushed "JTh" he usually gives.

After getting Thome, everything else was gravy.

Jim Thome - 1/1 (20x30)
Harmon Killebrew - 1/2
Justin Morneau - 1/2
Joe Nathan - 1/2, 1/1
Scott Baker - 1/2
Alexei Casilla - 2/2
Jesse Crain - 2/2
Matt Guerrier - 4/4
J.J. Hardy - 2/2
Brendan Harris - 1/2
Jason Kubel - 2/2
Ben Revere - 3/3
Kevin Slowey - 1/2, 1/1 (help)
Matt Tolbert - 2/2
Jerry White - 1/1

I finally got Morneau and Killebrew.  I was worried that I was going to end the weekend with Jim Thome being the only big star that I got.  Still, I struck out on Mauer, Molitor, Carew, and Oliva.  Granted, just about everybody struck out on Carew and Oliva.

I'm thinking about going back for a couple of days in a week or two. 

I will post pictures for the last few days tomorrow night.  I'm finally home, but I'm much too tired to do it tonight.

2010 Spring Training Totals - 168 cards, 1 8x10, 1 mini helmet, 1 16x20, 1 20x30

posted on Sunday, 28 February 2010 20:52:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
Jim Thome just signed my 20x30!!! He pulled up at 6:30am, and I was the only one here. I'll have pics and a full recap up tonight.
posted on Sunday, 28 February 2010 06:41:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Saturday, 27 February 2010
If I was disappointed at yesterday's results, then I am devastated by today's.  Thome only signed a couple, and I didn't see Mauer or Morneau pick up a pen.  Paul Molitor, Harmon Killebrew, and Rod Carew were all in camp today, but only Killer signed, and I missed him. 

To make matters worse, the item I most wanted signed by Thome was ruined today.  It was a beautiful 16x20 of Thome and Ken Griffey Jr.  It got rained on, and now there are blue spots all over.

Alex Burnett - 1/1
Clay Condrey - 2/2
Brian Duensing - 3/3
Tom Kelly - 1/1
Jason Kubel - 2/4
Trevor Plouffe - 1/1
Steve Singleton - 1/1
Anthony Slama - 2/2
Denard Span - 4/4
Matt Tolbert - 2/2
Danny Valencia - 1/1

Joe Nathan showed himself to be a total class act today.  It was pouring, yet Joe stood in the rain (under an umbrella) and signed for everybody.  I didn't go for him because I had a good spot for Thome, or so I thought.

I hope I can get Matt Guerrier tomorrow.  I'd hate to be shut out on the other guy with Sox cards.

I will post pictures when I get home.

2010 Spring Training Totals - 142 cards, 1 8x10, 1 mini helmet, 1 16x20

posted on Saturday, 27 February 2010 13:51:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Friday, 26 February 2010
I made the drive down to Ft. Myers last night, and checked into the Holiday Inn Express on Forum Blvd.  I'll be there for 3 nights while I hang out at Twins camp trying to get some Jim Thome stuff done.

The place was a zoo, and as such I didn't do all that well.  Just about everybody signed at some point, but you had to pick and choose who to go for.  Of course, I followed Jim Thome around.  Here is what I got:

Jim Thome - 1/1
Joe Nathan - 1/2, 1/1
Denard Span - 2/2
Carl Pavano - 1/2
Alexei Casilla - 2/2
Jesse Crain - 1/4, 2/2
Ron Gardenhire - 2/2
Mike Maroth - 2/2
Juan Portes - 2/2
Wilson Ramos - 3/3
Danny Rams - 4/4
Jon Rauch - 4/4
Matt Tolbert - 1/1, 1/1
Loek Van Mil - 1/1

Joe Mauer signed around 40-50 autographs, for a group of 300 or so.  Unfortunately, I just missed getting him.

Morneau signed a couple of times, and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Denard Span is a great guy.  He signed everything, and he was very personable.  Jon Rauch was pretty cool too.  When I handed him my book, I told him I was a huge White Sox fan and that I was very happy to be getting him.  With a hard look on his face, he handed my book right back to me without signing anything... then he cracked a smile and took it back.

Thome was very friendly, but he didn't sign a whole lot.  I only got him because I shadowed him the entire time he was working out.  At one point, he walked across a field to a building with some gym equipment.  A little kid chased him across the field and asked him to sign.  Thome obliged.  When Thome came back a few minutes later, I said "I bet you were shocked when you turned around and saw that little kid", to which he replied "I know!".

Pictures will be posted when I get back home.

2010 Spring Training Totals - 122 cards, 1 8x10, 1 mini helmet, 1 16x20

posted on Friday, 26 February 2010 14:57:14 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Thursday, 25 February 2010
I went back to Astros camp today.  My main objective was getting my Carlos Lee 16x20 done.  It ended up being a very good day!

Carlos Lee - 3/3, 1/1 (16x20 w/ El Caballo inscription, White Sox mini helmet, 2 cards)
Lance Berkman - 1/1
Jeff Bagwell - 1/1, 1/1 (help)
Alberto Arias - 2/2
Brad Arnsberg - 4/4
Jason Bourgeois - 4/4
Michael Bourne - 2/4
Britt Burns - 2/8
Roy Corcoran - 3/3
Brian Esposito - 1/1
Pedro Feliz - 1/1
Jeff Keppinger - 1/1
Gary Majewski - 4/4
Bobby Meacham - 1/1
Brian Moehler - 3/3
Bud Norris - 1/1
Humberto Quintero - 1/2, 1/1
Jamie Quirk - 2/2
Polin Trinidad - 4/4

I went the extra mile to get Lee a few times today.  I arrived at the players parking lot at 6:45am.  I made a 16x20 inch sign that simply said "Please Carlos".  It's a good thing I got there early, because Lee pulled up at 7am sharp.  I was the only person there.  He began to give me his customary wave, and it was obvious he was not going to stop.  I held up the sign, and Carlos slammed on his brakes.  He rolled down his window, and I handed him the 16x20.  I started blabbing about how I'm a huge White Sox fan, and told him the sole reason that I was at Astros camp was to get his autograph.  He was nice enough to add an "El Caballo" inscription upon request.  I then asked if he would mind signing a couple of cards, and he did.  Great guy!

Unfortunately, Geoff Blum was not as accomodating.  I made an 8x10 inch sign that said "Please Geoff".  When he pulled up, he told me he would sign in the parking lot after the workout.  When he came out after the workout, he completely ignored me and drove off.  Not cool.  =(

I got an inside tip that Jeff Bagwell would be arriving today, and it turned out to be true.  He arrived in the players lot after the workout had ended.  After about an hour or so inside, he came out.  He was nice enough to pull over and sign one per for the 8 or so of us that were still there.  I asked if he would mind signing a baseball too, and he said "Just one today".  In any case, a great success.

The surprise of the day was Lance Berkman.  He did not sign inside, and I was sure he wouldn't be one to pull over.  Lo and behold, that is exactly what he did!  There were quite a few people there at that point too. 

I will post pictures later!

2010 Spring Training Totals - 91 cards, 1 8x10, 1 mini helmet, 1 16x20

posted on Thursday, 25 February 2010 20:08:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #