July 15, 2011 Road Warriors @ Ducks

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It's safe to say that my autograph experience last night was the best one I ever had. It was very unexpected too because I didn't think I was going to make it to this game but the lack of traffic from Albany to Long Island allowed me to get there.

PRE-GAME:
After I got to Long Island I had to put a few cards on my autograph board from some cards I got in the mail, so I got to the ball park a little later than I would have liked (6ish). A line had already formed which was interesting because there wasn't a major promotional that night.

I got into the park and walked down towards ground level and noticed a few kids waiting for some autographs by the dugout. I figured that wasn't the best place to go so I walk down the foul line and waited.

The first one out was J.R. House who was catching that game. After signing for the other kids first he walked over to me and signed all six cards for me. He made a couple of comments about my custom 1985 cards, but not many as he was in a hurry to get warmed up.

Javier Colina came out a few minutes later and did the same but when he saw the custom 1985's he asked me to print him off some and give him some. He also signed all six cards for me.

Ray Navarrete came out and sat in the dugout for a while and then ran out to the field to warm up even though I asked for an autograph (he seems like one of those players who needs to get in zone before a game). After a little while he back over and signed my two customs and my 2008 Ducks team set cards. However, after the game a couple younger kids were asking about what enterance he leaves from and some older guy told us that he didn't leave through the players enterance, so it was a surprise when Ray came out. When I saw him I said "It's Ray Digmi! (Digmi is the name of his clothing company) and he looked at me a little weird and annoyed. He's still one of the best signers and also one of the nicest guys on the Ducks, I think he just had a rough game.

Freddie Thon came out soon after and I didn't recognize him because he shaved his full-man-chew. He came over and signed all five cards I had and told made some comments about the customs.

Matt Padgett followed Thon and asked me to print off some of the customs for him after he told me that the customs look better than their team issued cards. He told me that they get some cards and if I wanted he'd trade me. I told him that I'd send him the digital file and he gave me his email. Matt's probably the fan friendliest Duck.

John Rodriguez was next and he came over a few times but to talk to his wife and kids who were sitting next to us. Finally he turned to me and said "What you got?" and I showed him the customs, and some of his cards. He asked if he could take one of the customs for his kids and I said sure, so I gave him one. Then he asked if I could print some more off and he'd autograph whatever I wanted. I told him that next time I'm on the Island I would. After that he signed all five of my cards.

Mark Diaploules was walking around the dugout after having walked in from the bullpen and come over and signed both customs for me. After the game was over he came up to me and asked if he said...great guy.

Dan Lyons came out and I asked if to sign the customs and I told him I grew up in Vermont (he played for the Vermont Lake Monsters in 2007) and we started to talk about the Vermont, and how they might lose the team and he said how much of a shame it would be. He signed both customs...another great guy.

Matt Esquivel came over and also signed but didn't say much. He's always a great signer and a nice guy. He signed both customs.

As it got closer to game time Lew Ford came out and stretched but didn't sign. He finally came over and signed all six cards for me which was great. After the game I was waiting for a few other players and he came out and asked if I had anything else and I pulled out some other cards and he signed another six.

Ehren Wasserman signed my customs on the way to the bullpen. He always great with fans and signing.

I was getting ready to go to my seat when I noticed Mike Parisi standing about 10 feet from me. I asked him for an autograph and he came over and we started talking. He also asked to get a copy of the custom, and signed all six cards I had.

POST GAME:
After the game was over I noticed that Jason Norderum was on the Road Warriors and I pulled out his 2010 Ducks card and as he left the field I got his autograph.

I left the ballpark and walked over to the players enterance and waited for some guys to come out. To my surprise Heath Philips came out who was on the inactive list. I asked him how he was doing and he told me he was going to start throwing again soon. Since he wasn't on the roster I didn't have customs for him to sign but he told me he'd get me later.

Bubbie Buzachero came out a few minutes later to move his truck so Philips could get out. Bubbie signed both customs for me.

Tom Pennino came out in his uniform and signed my two customs, team mini bat, and team photo. We talked for a while, and he asked me if I could email him a copy of the picture that is on his custom card. We also talked for a while about collecting...really nice guy.

Shane Youman, Jeremy Hill (didn't have a custom for him yet), Joselo Diaz, and Ruddy Lugo also came out and signed six cards each. Each one of them commenting about the 85's.

Bullpen Catcher Jamie Quinn came out and I was able to get him on a 2010 Ducks set card. (I didn't have a custom for him yet). I also got Chris McCoy and Kraig Binnick on two customs.

After a while Kennard Jones came out and signed my customs. He didn't sign in pregame because he was warming up, but signed for everyone waiting outside.

Finally, I noticed a few players standing by the players door and walked over. It was former Met Dave Williams and Freddie Thon. Williams and I started to talk about collecting and he told me he used to be a collector when he was kid. He also told me that it means a lot to players when fans write letters and don't use pre-printed form letters. He signed all six of my cards and told me that once I get the custom 85's of him made he'll sign them.

As Williams finished up signing for me he noticed that I hadn't got Bob Zimmerman yet so he went and asked Bob to come out and sign for me. About a minute later Zimmerman came out and signed all three of my cards.

Overall it was probably the best autograph night ever (I didn't get Jason Monti who was hurt). Now I understand why the Ducks pull in so many fans. It's because of the character of the players they sign. All of the players were awesome.

The Retro 1985 Custom set was a huge success!

Here's the overall stats:
Lew Ford 12/12
Bob Zimmerman 3/3
Freddie Thon 5/5
Javier Colina 5/5
Shane Youman 6/6
Mike Parisi 6/6
Kennard Jones 2/2
Dave Williams 6/6
J.R. House 6/6
Bubbie Buzachero 2/2
John Rodriguez 5/5 (took one of my customs)
Jeremy Hill 6/6
Joselo Diaz 6/6
Ruddy Lugo 6/6
Ray Navarrete 3/3
Tom Pennino 4/4 (mini-bat, and team photo)
Matt Padgett 2/2
Ehren Wasserman 2/2
Dan Lyons 2/2
Mark Diapoules 2/2
Matt Esquivel 2/2
Kraig Binnick 2/2
Jaime Quinn 1/1
Jason Norderum 1/1 (member of Road Warriors)

99 Total Autographs!
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2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great night. I loved getting autographs from the Atlantic League teams when their team sets had just come out so I had cards for nearly everyone.

    With the exception of the 2009 Newark Bears, every Atlantic League team I ever watched was filled with players who "got it" and wanted to make sure the fans had a good time at their games. (And even the 09 Bears had a large share of nice players - it's just that there were enough guys who wanted to put everyone off with their "big league" attitude that spoiled it.)

    - Paul

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  2. It was really a great night...These players do "get it." It was odd to hear so many players thank me for asking for their autographs.

    I remember Michael Coleman for Newark in 2004 telling me "I'm going to sign 2, and take 2," and it was no questions asked.

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