Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vernon Davis: 2/28/15

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was scheduled to sign autographs at the GNC store in Culver City. Davis has been one of my favorite players on my favorite team for years, so when I found out about the signing the night before I was very much looking forward to it.

I got to the mall half an hour before the signing was scheduled to start and lined up about 75 people back. Davis actually started signing a few minutes early, but the line was practically crawling at the beginning. After a while the line picked up and eventually I made my way to the front. The people running the event were saying only one item per person, but Davis was signing two for anyone who asked, so I ended up getting a Niners mini helmet and a baseball signed.


The mini helmet came out a bit streaky but the baseball definately made up for it. With some help I was also able to get a pair of cards signed. I'm not much of a football card collector but I will admit that these came out great.

A big thanks to Vernon Davis for being awesome and taking the time to sign multiples, inscribe, and take photos with everyone in line. Also it was nice seeing my friends Larry, Mikey, David, and Benson in a breif offseason cameo.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tristar Houston Collectors Show

With the exception of Spring Training in Arizona, it's not very often that I get to travel outside of California for autographs, so when I got the chance to fly to Texas for Tristar's annual Houston Collectors Show I was overly excited to see new faces and get some legends who rarely come to the west coast.

The show was slated for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, however the Friday line-up only consisted of two Astro rookies who weren't worth while. So instead I decided to check out Dallas and it's many sights, which included AT&T Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, and a Dallas Stars game at the American Airlines Center.

Whenever I'm outside of California I always like to check out at least one new stadium or arena, so being able to check out three in one day was great. The only disappointing part was that the AT&T Stadium field had dirt over it and was prepared for Motorcross, so my brother-in-law (pictured above), father, and I weren't able to see it in it's full glory. Although I will admit that it was still pretty glorious, and that's coming from a 49ers fan.

Saturday was technically the second day of the show, but for me it was my first. After a long drive from Dallas to Houston we were able to arrive at the show just in time to get the first person that I had an autograph ticket for. Ironically, it would also be the best guy that I would get all weekend.

Had I not been holding the jersey in the photo I would bet that 75% of the people reading this would not recognize who the guy on the right was, and understandably so. He is not looking all too great, but none the less I was able to get the great Nolan Ryan to sign my authentic Mitchell and Ness jersey.

It was a great honor getting to meet Ryan, who was not only one of the best pitchers in baseball history, but also in Angels history. Unfortunately he's only come to California once in the past several years, so I figured that this would be my best, if not only shot of meeting him.

After getting Ryan I had to run, and I literally mean run, back to the car to get my football for Len Dawson. Dawson was scheduled to sign after Ryan, but since Nolan was taking so long to get through his massive line, Dawson had already finished his by the time I got my jersey signed. I did just barely catch him as he was about to head to the back room and we talked for a few minutes before he signed my football.

My final autograph of the day came from Cowboys HOF'er Bob Lilly. With the purchase of each autograph ticket you were supposed to receive one free inscription from Lilly. When I got up to the table I asked for the "Mr Cowboys" inscription on my Dallas mini helmet, but Lilly ended up putting both that and "HOF 80" on it as well.

My second day at the show was much more eventful than my first. That's because there was going to be many more baseball legends on hand as compared to just Nolan Ryan on Saturday. My first autograph came from one of my favorite players when I first got in to baseball, Lance Berkman. I got him on a ROMLB with "2011 WS Champs".

One thing that I noticed about Berkman was that he took a lot of pride in other people's items. He would make sure that each pen was prepped well and even asked for a really thin Sharpie on the guys cards in front of me. It was nice to see him actually care about the autograph as opposed to just signing it with whatever.

Signing at the same time as Berkman was Roger Clemens. I really wanted Clemens autograph to go along with my Barry Bonds items that I got last year. I only had one inscription ticket for Clemens, but I decided to ask for "86 AL CY/MVP" just to see if I'd get away with it. The handler next to him didn't say a thing when I asked Clemens the inscription and he ended up turning it in to two separate inscriptions. 

Right after Clemens was Andre Dawson and Steve Carlton. I also had a Craig Biggio ticket at the same time but since his line was ridiculously long, I decided to get Dawson and Carlton first.

By then the Biggio line had calmed down, so I jumped in it and got my authentic Astros jersey signed with "HOF 15".

Aside from Ryan and Clemens, Biggio was one of the guys that I was most looking forward to getting. I had been hoping that he got in the Hall of Fame since his first year on the ballot, and the timing of his election worked out perfectly for me.

After Biggio I had tickets for Ozzie Smith and Wade Boggs. Both guys were extremely nice and I ended up paying for some extra inscriptions for both of them.

The final autograph that I got for myself came from the newest Arizona Diamondbacks GM, Dave Stewart. I was happy to see Stewart's name added to the show since I always passed on him when he was an agent in the LA area. Luckily I was able to find a 1989 World Series baseball and got him to sign it with the WS MVP inscription.

My actual final autograph came from Roy Oswalt. Oswalt was a part of a package deal that I boguht which included line priority passes. The passes proved to be extremely helpful, but I wasn't extremely interested in Oswalt, so I offered to get my friend Rob a card done for his set. Oswalt was probably the least friendly of the guys I met. He barely acknowledged anyone and looked at me like I was from a different planet when I told him to "have a nice day". the whole interaction was strange but it assured me that I didn't want his autograph in my collection. Never the less the card came out fine.

Overall the entire weekend was great and meeting so many legends and Hall of Fame members in just two days was priceless. I look forward to my next Tristar show and will certainly start to frequent it over GTSM. Both of GT's shows that I have attended were laughable compared to this one in all aspects. Hopefully this is the start of another great season of baseball graphing. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dodgers Fan Fest: 1/31/15

On Sunday, January 31st, the Los Angeles Dodgers held their 4th annual Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium. This was the first year that I decided to attend the event despite missing out on getting any autograph vouchers when they went on sale. Luckily my friend Alex had an extra voucher for the Joc Pederson/Mickey Hatcher line and I was able to pick up a voucher for the Zach Lee/Brandon McCarthy line the night before on Ebay.

After battling with some Los Angeles traffic I finally arrived at Dodger Stadium and met up with Alex and his brother Rob. Several Dodger Dogs later (Yes, they're as amazing as advertised) we made our way over to the autograph lines to wait for the next session. Both of my vouchers happened to be for the 12:10 session, so I had to get a spot at the front of the Pederson/Hatcher line in order to make it through the line quickly and jump in the Lee/McCarthy line.

All three of us got spots near the front of the line and made it through within a few minutes. I was able to get Mickey Hatcher on a ball with "88 W.S. Champs Dodgers". It was nice to get Hatcher who was not only a World Series hero for the Dodgers in 1988, but also the hitting coach on the Angels 2002 World Series winning team.

Mickey Hatcher autographed baseball
Next up was Joc Pederson, who is projected to have a break-out year in 2015. Pederson played down the road from my house in A-Ball two seasons ago. I ended up getting nearly 30 cards signed by him throughout the year but never thought of getting a baseball done. I finally decided to drop one this time around and Joc was nice enough to inscribe "PCL 30/30".

Joc Pederson autographed baseball
After getting Pederson, Rob and I got in the Lee/McCarthy line. Zach Lee was another guy who I watched play on the Quakes. He was never the easiest autograph to get even in A-Ball, so I was happy to get a ball signed with "2010 1st Round Pick". Unfortunately his autograph is pretty basic but hopefully he'll have a good season in 2015.

Zach Lee autographed baseball
Next to Lee was Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy is one of the funnier guys in baseball and when I handed him a Diamondbacks card to sign he said "I'm going to do something here" and ended up drawing a "LA" over the D-Backs hat.

I got the second McCarthy later in the day at another session and the Kendrick came from my friend Marc who got a free voucher for his session. I'm sure Howie will take over as the Dodgers' go-to guy when it comes to free signings much like he was with the Angels.

I decided to bail after getting the second McCarthy and called it a day. I know a lot of people who were able to get Zack Greinke vouchers for later in the day so congrats if you are one of those. Luckily I got three of him two years ago on a rehab assignment so I wasn't concerned about getting one more. Overall it was a good day graphing with Alex, Rob, Ryan, Josh, David, and others. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eddie Guardado's Stars and Strikes Bowling Event: 1/25/15

Former All-Star pitcher Eddie Guardado held his fourth annual Stars and Strikes bowling event on Sunday, January 25th. The event is usually one of the best offseason graphing opportunities for So-Cal graphers, but unfortunately it has been hectic and packed with autograph seekers the past couple of years thanks to blogs like my own. This years guest list included Jered Weaver, Torii Hunter, Garrett Anderson, Josh Hamilton, Troy Percival, and others. Unfortunately Hunter and Anderson were no-shows, and guys like Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre were too buy with their team's Fan Fests to attend.

One of the biggest shocks of 2015 happened right before I got to the event. Apparently Jered Weaver stopped and signed about twenty autographs on his way in to the event. Weaver is a notoriously tough autograph to get and I didn't truly believe it until my friend Alex showed me his 2012 Heritage card that he got done for his set. I wasn't too disappointed since I have a nice collection of Weaver's, but it was still surprising to hear about.

Throughout the night I was able to get cards signed by Scott Erickson, Gary Matthews Jr., Brett Tomko, and Eddie Guardado.

It may sound quirky but I was happy to finally get Matthews' autograph. I watched him play in an Angels uniform for years ad for whatever reason he was always a tough auto to get during his playing days. My friend David was extremely excited to see him since he was finally able to get his game used bat signed. You can check that out on his blog here.

After the event Josh Hamilton came over to sign autographs. No matter what his stats are, I'll always have respect for Josh and the way he treats the fans. I didn't come prepared with any photos or commemorative baseballs so I settled for the standard ROMLB sweet spot. 

Josh Hamilton autographed baseball
Finally I was able to get the before mentioned Scott Erickson on a baseball. My friend Mike and I turned out to be the last people waiting for Erickson to come out and he couldn't have been nicer. We talked for about five minutes and he ended up putting both "No-Hitter 4/27/94" and "91 WS Champs".

Scott Erickson autographed baseball
While I did miss out on getting Weaver it was still nice to see some friends and get some graphs. I was also able to strike a deal with my friend for one of his extra Dodgers Fan-Fest autograph vouchers, which I'll be attending next weekend. Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cal State Fullerton Alumni Game: 1/24/15

On Saturday, January 24th, I attended Cal State Fullerton's annual baseball alumni game. There were actually two alumni games scheduled on Saturday, but I decided to go with Fullerton's game over UCLA's. I still don't know the reason why I chose Fullerton, but something made me change my mind at the last second since I had been planning on going to UCLA all week.

Once I got to Fullerton I was able to catch up with a friend of mine, Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen was the first round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 and was a mid-season All-Star at Double-A Pensacola this past season. He has been extremely friendly since his college days and always goes out of his way to come over and say hello, even at Reds Spring Training last season. This time I brought some Reds cards along for him to sign and, as usual, he knocked out all six for me. He inscribed a bible verse on three of the six including my favorite verse on one.

By the way, I finally figured out the art of scanning cards. Ironically it took me just minutes to do something that I had been trying to figure out for years. It definitely will make posting cards a lot easier for me in the future.

I was also able to get some cards signed by Astros prospect J.D. Davis and big-leaguers Justin Turner and Reed Johnson.

The rest of the event was a bit of a dissapointment. I was hoping for Phil Nevin, Tim Wallach, or even Rickey Romero to show up, but none of them did. Kurt Suzuki was in Minnesota for Twins Fest, so he wasn't able to show up either. Luckily Royals rookie Christian Colon showed up to the game for the first time in a couple of years. I got Colon on a few cards last month but this time I came prepared with a 2014 Postseason baseball. Colon gave me a great signature and inscribed it "2014 Wild Card Winning Run!" for the run he scored off of Salvador Perez's walk-off hit to win the WC game for Kansas City.

Christian Colon autographed baseball
The ball came out great and it was nice seeing some friends and finally watching some baseball again. I'll likely attend UCLA's game next year, but then again I typically say that after every year, so I guess only time will tell. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: 1/17/15

I decided to attend the fourth annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, California on January 17th. I attended the same event back in 2013, but missed last year's game due to other plans. The game features some of the lower end NFL Draft prospects and college seniors who get a chance to play in front of NFL scouts from each and every team. Unfortunately, it didn't feature any top level NCAA talents, so I set my focus on the coaches, which included several NFL HOF'ers and Super Bowl Champs.

Little did I know when I arrived at the game that this would turn out to be one of the most surprising graphing experiences that I've ever had. After a quick stop at Frank and Sons to pick up some supplies, I met up with my friend Scotty and decided to wait for some coaches to come in. I believe that we got there too late to catch any of the coaches, but here is where the surprises started. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a few members of the US National Soccer team. While I'm not a huge soccer fan, I do watch the National team play whenever I can, and I was able to pick out some of the players. One of them was Jermaine Jones, who I had sign a baseball.

Jermaine Jones autographed baseball
Surprisingly Jones said that this wasn't the first baseball he had signed. I guess other graphers had ran into him unexpectedly before too. Either way I found it very cool to get one of my favorite soccer stars.

A few minutes later I spotted the captain of the US team, Clint Dempsey. I also had him sign a ROMLB that I had brought along.

Clint Dempsey autographed baseball
The signature on the baseball came out a bit rough, but Dempsey was extremely nice and took the time to talk to everyone. I was in total disbelief at the entire situation, but I had to remember that there was still a football game to graph.

While inside I was told that Panini had a booth set up for NFL rookies to sign autographs at. There had been rumors that Odell Beckham Jr. and Teddy Bridgewater would be at the game, since Panini had flown them out to Los Angeles for the week, however the only big name who signed was Tampa Bay running back Mike Evans. Evans had a great rookie season and I wish that I had bought a Bucs mini helmet for him to sign, but I had to settle for the 5x7 cards Panini was giving out for free.

Mike Evans autographed 5x7 card
The game was moving slowly so I decided to get up and see if I could spot any NFL players that might have been watching. While standing around looking at my phone, I spotted another unexpected guest, US goalie Hope Solo. I didn't have anything on me for Hope to sign, so I decided to get a photo with her.

At that point, I had met three star soccer players compared to one NFL rookie. I found it ironic that I had better luck with the soccer players than the football players at a football game. However I wasn't complaining, as I knocked two people off of my autograph "bucket list", so-to-speak.

After the game I decided to wait around in hopes of catching some coaches. The first person who I saw come out was UCLA Bruins QB Brett Hundley. Personally I think that Hundley will be a better pro-QB than either Jameis Winston or Marcus Marriota, but I didn't want to take a risk by dropping an NFL football on him, so I got a photo with him insetad.

Finally, I was able to cap off my day by getting HOF'ers Jackie Slater and Andre Reed to sign a card each, both of which turned out great.

Slater and Reed autographed cards
Unfortunately I did miss out on head coach Mike Holmgren, and I never saw Darrell Green or Jon Kitna, who were both supposed to be coaching, but those would have just been icing on the cake for what was otherwise a great day. I'm looking forward to another great year of graphing in 2015, and what I have in store over the next month or so will surely blow you away. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Teemu Selanne Night: 1/11/15

For years Teemu Selanne has been my hockey idol both on the ice and off of it. On Sunday, January 11, 2015, I finally had the chance to honor him and his amazing career. The Anaheim Ducks held "Teemu Selanne Night" at the Honda Center prior to their game against the Winnipeg Jets, the name of the team (But not the same team) that we won R.O.Y. with in 1992-93. 

A day prior to the actual game, I made my way down to the Honda Center team store in hopes of getting some limited edition Selanne stuff. Unfortunately all of the things I wanted were not being sold until game day, but I was able to pick up a foam "8". I also picked up my ticket which, despite it saying Price: $20.00, cost a lot more than $20.

Foam "8" and Teemu Night ticket
The ticket itself is a pretty cool souvenir and not printed on some cheap paper like most others. I ended up going out of my way to make sure that it didn't get bent throughout the game.

The Ducks had made it very clear that fans would want to be IN their seats by 4:15 by sending out notification after notification all week. I ended up sitting down at exactly 4:17 and surprisingly the ceremony started a couple of minutes later. It was an absolutely amazing ceremony and was 1,000,000 times better than what I had expected. The Ducks even gave out clip-on blinking lights to everyone before the game, so it was quite a scene when the 18,000 people had the blinking lights going throughout the entire hour and a half (Officially the longest retirement ceremony ever recorded) period.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any clear shots of the banner raising, as there was a giant spotlight on both Teemu and the banner, so I "borrowed" this one from the Ducks Twitter.

Pretty much everything was Teemu'd out. Even the bags at the team store had the slogan "For8ver" on them. My favorite thing was the "8" shaped pretzels. When I went to go get one I was told that most of them had sold out, but that there was on left, but it was rock solid. I ended up having an argument with one of the workers who jumped in and told me that I didn't want the pretzel (Spoiler alert: I did want it). The original person helping me offered to give me it for free even though I offered to pay, which upset the other woman who insisted on throwing it away instead of giving it to me or even taking my $5 for it. The result:

The "uneatable" pretzel
Another spoiler alert, I was able to eat it without a problem despite it being "uneatable".

I was also able to pick up some things at the team store that I was looking for the day before. I got a commemorative game puck and a voucher for one of the Teemu bobbleheads that apparently got delayed while being shipped from overseas.

For8ver Teemu puck and voucher
On the way out we were handed free mini-Teemu banners. Apparently this was a giveaway that was announced a while ago, but I had no idea until my friend Eddie texted me about it in the middle of the game. It was a pretty awesome surprise, however.

Free Teemu banner
The back has all of his career stats and his Ducks' franchise record which includes, but is not limited to, games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, game winning goals, playoff games played, playoff points, and more. Not bad. I appreciate all of you who read through this entire post despite it not including one autograph. However, if you've been reading this blog for over a year then you've seen me get plenty of Teemu Selanne autographs in person. In fact, I think my total is up to around 30. So in a way, this is autograph related.

Oh yeah, the Ducks came back from down 2 goals in the final period to win 5-4 in a 6 round shootout. They are now tied with Nashville for the best record in hockey. But no big deal. Thanks for reading!