Whenever fan fest rolls around in January I get super-stoked about baseball. In nearly a month catchers and pitchers will be reporting to their respective spring training headquarters. The best part about baseball is it starts in the spring time. The grass is starting to get that freshly cut smell, the weather is warming up and best of all summer is right around the corner.
Just to give you a little background on myself and my fan fest experiences, well, I’ve been to many. I’ve attended a Kansas City Royals fan fest where I was able to get Kevin Sietzers autograph and Brett Saberhagen as well. The thing about the Royals fan fest is it’s not really set up to be fan friendly. It’s all about the autographs. When you walk in you have to immediately pick a line to stand in for four hours and hope and pray that one of your favorite players will be signing in the line you have chosen. It’s all about luck. I’ve also attended the Cincinnati Reds fan fest. That was a little different but again, it’s all about what line you pick and how fast you get there. Same with the St. Louis Cardinals winter warmup event. Pick and line. Stand there.
Well, my friends. This year I attended the Seattle Mariners Fan Fest of 2012. If you’ve ever dreamt about attending a fan fest, this is the fan fest you need to attend. I’m serious. Not only do you get to shag fly balls in the outfield like this…
…but you also get to face Felix Hernandez in the visitors batting cage underneath the stadium:
Yes, I’ve had better at-bats, but when you’re facing the King it’s kind of hard to get on base (even in the batting cages).
The best part about the Mariners Fan Fest was the interaction with the players. Down by the Mariners dugout the Mariners put together a little event called the “Dugout Dialogue”. Certain players that came to the fan fest get brought out onto the stage to take questions from Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers and Dave Valle. And then they open it up to the fans to ask them questions. A lot of the questions ranged from “whats your favorite food” to “who’s your favorite player growing up”. But what do you expect from cute little nine year old baseball fans. And that’s the beauty of it. After the event ends fans are encouraged to get autographs from their favorite players. Myself, I was able to get Miguel Olivo on a baseball bat, Jason Vargas signed my 200th baseball he tossed me last season and I got Dan Wilson and Mike Blowers on my ticket stubs. I was able to chat with Mike Blowers a little bit and talk with him about how I watched him play in the Kingdome back in the 90′s with my father and that I’d be taking a trip out to see the Mariners and Athletics in Japan this March. It was a lot of fun.
Here’s a couple of pictures I was able to get with a few favorites…
…the voice of the Mariners, Rick Rizzs…
…and the man in charge of all the tasty food at Safeco Field, Chef Jeremy.
As you can see so far, I had an amazing time. In fact, a lot of the players walked freely around the stadium (with security of course) talking with fans, helping with pitching mechanics in the bullpen and free hitting tips and advice. Casper Wells was one of those guys that was just walking around. A few of my friends at Safeco are die-hard Casper fans and they were able to get his attention. He walked over to them and they talked for a while and then good ‘ol Casper Wells delivers some hot coco to these lovely ladies!
Its one thing for a professional baseball player to walk over and sign a bunch of autographs and stuff but to actually interact like this with the fans? It’s truly remarkable!
That’s what fan fests is all about. Not just standing in line waiting for an autograph you may or may not get. That’s just my opinion though. We all have our special ways we like to connect with players.
During fan fest on Saturday the Stache Mob was more or less born. These ladies pictured below…
…drew funny little mustaches on their fingers for Brendan Ryan when he came up on stage for his portion of the dugout dialogue. Before things got started, they asked Brendan if he’d pose with them for a picture. He happily obliged them and said he’d get it done after the dialogue event. We all waiting in anticipation and unfortunately, the dialogue kind of went over in the time allotted and Ryan was carted off the stage by the Mariner staff. But. The awesome thing about Brendan Ryan is that he yelled to the group of ladies he’d get the picture done on Sunday . It made everyone feel pretty special that he was going to make it happen. And when Sunday rolled around? Brendan Ryan did not forget:
You can read all about how this unfolded in more detail in my other blog that I’ve created called; A View From the Bullpen.
Here are a few pictures from the Seattle Mariners dugout dialogue sessions…
There was so much to do and so much to see. Mariners Fan Fest would’ve easily lasted a week and probably still had people coming at the end. It was amazing to be able to walk on the field and play catch in the outfield with friends. It was awesome to connect with the players and ask questions. You know, to understand where they’re coming from and their stand point on issues and the seasons to come. It was fantastic! Even though I love to travel and experience different stadiums and events held by Major League Baseball, I think I’m sold on coming back to the Mariners Fan fest for years to come!
If you’ve been following me on Twitter (@MLBwayneMLB) you’ll know that I’ve submitted an application to the MLB Fan cave. Along with that application submission I had to come up with a short, two-minute video of why I deserve to be the fan in the cave this year. Well, I completed it. After about twenty tries. The good thing is I saved all of the blooper videos for you to watch! How awesome is that!? I’d say that’s a real treat. So sit back, relax and be prepared to watch some of the most ridiculous videos you’ll ever see….well, maybe not that ridiculous.
Two days ago I toured Safeco Field. The weather was mildly miserable but I was totally excited to see inside the Safe once again. Here’s a picture of what Safeco Field looks like in January:
Yeah, it’s pretty miserable. Safeco Field is much better in the spring. And with baseball playing on the inside. Once I got my ticket, which by the way they never checked, I took a few pictures of the memorabilia they had on sale. Broken bats, used jerseys, pictures of former players, autographed baseballs, just to name a few. I took this picture of a Ryan Rowland-Smith autographed baseball for two reasons: he’s one of my favorite players and his signature is really awesome. Here, take a look for yourself…
…wouldn’t you agree? And I would’ve bought it but I don’t buy memorabilia. I’d rather get my own autographs. It’s a lot better experience to meet the players instead. Besides, in 2007 I was able to obtain a Ryan Rowland-Smith original outside the stadium when he played for the Mariners. unfortunately, I was still new to the autograph collecting world and I had him sign my baseball with a red sharpie. So here in about another ten years the ink will have soaked into the leather and the autograph will be nearly faded away. I made that fatal mistake with George Brett too. I feel awful about it but there may be another chance to get both of their autographs the right way in the future.
Anyway. Back to the tour. Once we left the memorabilia store the Safeco Field staff was hard at work trying to prep the field, wash the concourse and scrub the seats for an upcoming event at Safeco called Mariners Fan Fest. If you’re a Mariners fan or privy to the Major League Baseball events you’d probably already know it’s this weekend. And I’m going. And I’ll be blogging about it too. So be ready for that!
Here’s a picture of the field:
Safeco Field is one of the prettier stadiums I’ve been to. I thoroughly enjoy the layout which gives fans 100% access to the entire stadium during the game. From a ballhawking perspective that’s pretty awesome. Ted, our tour guide, led us all around the stadium. We walked through the suites and he explained the prices for specific suites. For one of the better suites during a premium game, say like when the Yankees come to town, a suite behind or near home plate can cost in the upwards of $9,000 dollars! The rule is that you must have at least 18 people with you to get these suites. So if you know 18 people with $600-700 dollars, you’re in! And let me tell you: these suites are awesome. Take a look…
…and I apologize for the crappy picture. This picture doesn’t do the suite any justice. It’s absolutely gorgeous on the inside. And every suite is named after a famous Hall of Famer. We were in the Mickey Mantle suite.
Outside of the suites the hallways are littered with Mariners memorabilia, newspaper clippings etc. It was quite a site to see, let me tell you. If I could ever afford a suite I would certainly splurge and watch a game from there.
We visited the press box and the Diamond club, fancy-smancy is all I have to say. The Diamond Club, of course, leads you directly behind home plate. And a person can generally find a ticket for that area for around $200 dollars. But you know me. I’d rather take that $200 dollars and fly to Anaheim to watch baseball. That’s just how I roll. One day I’d consider accessing the Diamond Club. It’s all you can eat and drink!
And now for the fun part. The locker rooms and field access! Once we got into the locker room, Ted explained how the lockers are set up and who sits where. And this was where I met Jose Mesa’s nephew, Miguel. Well, I had met him in the beginning of the tour and he told me who he was while we were touring the suites and since he’s a huge Yankee fan, guess what seat Ted had him sit in?
You guessed it! Alex Rodriguez. Ted wasn’t sure where Derek Jeter sat and that’s okay. I also had to sit in A-rods locker chair with my Chuck Knoblauch shirt hanging out! Ha!
Miguel and I talked a lot about the long-standing feud between Omar Vizquel and Jose Mesa. I learned about this feud a few days ago when I found out Vizquel signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Vizquel wrote a book, which I have yet to buy and read, and said some things about Jose Mesa. In turn, Mesa vowed to hit Vizquel at every at bat when he faced him. Mesa was able to plunk him twice before he retired in 2007.
While Ted was explaining things along the tour, he led the group into the visiting team kitchen and shower. While he was doing that, look what I found:
Yes, the door was locked.
Anyway. On to the field!
Here I am holding down the Mariners dugout:
And here I am in the media room:
This picture was sort of blurry and it took Ted a few tries to get a decent one. He doesn’t have the most stable hands. But he did his best.
That’s the Safeco Field tour! I’ve toured one other stadium at that was Busch in St. Louis. unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures and I didn’t ever blog about it. That just means I’ll have to take a field trip back to St. Louis one of these days and tour the stadium so I can blog about it.
Ever since I found out about these Major League Baseball fantasy camps I’ve always wanted to attend one. Every camp is different and some are more expensive and some are shorter or longer depending on the camp. When I say expensive I truly mean that. Some can be as much as $4,500 dollars. To justify that cost you get to fly to the spring training camp of the team you’ve selected, you get uniforms, breakfast and lunch, you get to meet players, get autographs, pictures and of course you get to play baseball with and against former Major Leaguers. Not only that but you get a complete clubhouse experience. To me that’s a pretty awesome deal. The down side to all of this is most fantasy camps require campers to be 30 years old or older. Which is fine. But that meant I couldn’t attend any camps in my twenties. Which thoroughly bummed me out.
The other day I made a promise to myself. That promise was to attend one of these camps before I get too old to do it. Or end up working a job where I’d have absolutely no time to go to one. The time is now. The question is: which camp should I choose? I wanted to choose a fantasy camp of a Major League team with the most players that were my favorites growing up as a kid. Of course the Seattle Mariners camp popped into my mind. Over the years I have sort of put having a favorite team in the Major Leagues on hold. So I really wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Mariners fan anymore. And since the latest horrible trade by them I have sort of distanced myself even further from the Seattle team. Now I’m more of a die-hard baseball fan. You can read all about that here. Anyway.
The Mariners fantasy camp has a lot of Mariner alumni that I’d love to meet, get pictures with and get some autographs. But so do a lot of other teams. Three, besides the Mariners, that have also popped into my head were the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers. When I tweeted this out on my Twitter account…
…the Detroit Tigers were the first to respond. That wasn’t the initial reasons as to why I made my decision though. The decision was made over key players that the Tigers have hosted at their camp in the past. Namely, Cecil Fielder. Fielder was a childhood hero to me. Everyone wanted his baseball card and we all enjoyed watching him play. Especially when he’d smoke a long ball. Everyone loves the long ball. Everyone.
So I made my decision after a few minutes of direct messaging with Detroit Tigers on Twitter. They initially asked “what would sway me” to choose the Tigers camp and really, all I wanted was them to follow me on my Twitter account. Which they did. Although I did ask for any baseball bats lying around the clubhouse or maybe a bobble head from last year, which I was denied, but it wasn’t about all of that anyway. I just asked for general purpose.
So there you have it, folks! Yours truly will be attending the Detroit Tigers fantasy camp next year! I am super stoked about it and I will most definitely bring my camera, take lots of pictures and blog about every day that I’m there at the camp!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,600 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
Wow. So I just got some amazing news from my fellow Ballhawk in Milwaukee, @BallHawkShawn. I mean, he didn’t like, personally call me or anything to tell me what’s up, I sorta found it on his Twitter feed. If you get a chance you should get yourself a Twitter account and follow him and me! @MLBwayneMLB.
Anyway. In my earlier post about my plans for the 2012 baseball season I mentioned I’d be flying out to Japan, Houston and possibly Los Angeles. I’d be going to Houston and Los Angeles because they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary in the bigs. Well, guess who else is celebrating?
Check this out:
Yeah. That’s a super sweet patch that the RedSox are using next season and THAT particular logo is going on their commemorative baseballs as well. I’m lucky because I live in Seattle and the RedSox will be coming to Safeco Field. Hopefully I can snag some of those baseballs. If not I’ll have to make friends in Boston.
Another team that is shelling out commemorative baseballs are the Baltimore Orioles. They too are coming to Seattle for six games so that will give me the opportunity to snag some of those baseballs as well. Here’s what they’re putting on their baseballs:
This is most doubtingly going to put a kink in my plans this season for sure. Because what I’d like to do is snag these baseballs at the stadium of the team that has them. Sooooo…instead of waiting for the O’s to come to Seattle, I’d like to travel to Baltimore and snag them there. But we will see what happens.
Here is the other team celebrating a milestone:
And of course Houston and Los Angeles, respectively.
So there you have it, folks! A little update on my plans for 2012! And now here’s the links at which you can follow along as I continue my journey to watch baseball in all 30 MLB stadiums!
Hello folks. I wanted to share some fantastic news. Well, it’s not really news-worthy but it’s pretty exciting anyway. And I’ve kind of kept it under wraps until now. I’ve started a new blog. Surprised? I thought so. My new blog, of course, has everything to do with baseball. Another surprise? But this new blog has sort of twist. It’s not really an informational blog like I had hoped. It’s kind of turned into something better. And it’s been super fun!
This new blog I’ve put together has sort of witty, satire, sarcastic charm to it. But it’s all relevant to baseball. So don’t worry. The information I put in each blog entry holds truth. Sometimes. And a lot of it is my personal opinion. If you’re interested in my personal opinion about baseball then you’ll surely get a kick out of my new blog.
It’s called A View From the Bullpen. It’s kind of fitting because that’s where I’m normally at when I attend games at Safeco Field. The bullpen. Well, more like the party deck but I’m standing directly beside the Mariner bullpen on most nights. Anyway. Below you will find links to all my recent blog entries. So click on a few and enjoy what you read!
Allow me to give you a bit of a back story on Chuck Knoblauch. From my childhood perspective. The year was 1992. And I can remember the summers being hot and dry. The sun was out nearly every day and the afternoons consisted of playing scrimmage games of baseball. Since there weren’t a whole lot of neighbor kids to fill a nine man baseball team we had to compromise. And at the end of the day we usually always went home mad at each other. Only because we had to play two on one games. Which sucked because there was always one kid alone on a team. And he never won.
That wasn’t all that those hot summer days consisted of. Every time my parents went out to dinner and my sister and I tagged along I would always race up to my room and scrounge for loose change in my piggy bank to be able to buy a pack of baseball cards. In one summer I managed to collect over 1,000 cards. And I still have all of them today. The most sought after cards, of course, were Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey Jr, Bo Jackson, Lenny Dykstra and Chuck Knoblauch. Just to name a few. And in the nineties, baseball cards were getting fancier and fancier as the years progressed. Especially when they came out with the Leaf collection and Upper Deck started to really throw some gems in the mix.
Sometimes when I would open a pack of cards I would get one or two Jose Cansecos or two or three Bo Jacksons. I would flip out! It was like hitting gold! Hey, I was a young kid and I looked up to these guys. Baseball players were, and still are, my heroes. These guys gut it out every day, every game, and it’s an amazing sport. I wouldn’t want to trade away those doubles either. I held onto them like they were priceless. I can remember setting up a card table and trying to sell some of the cards I didn’t want anymore to make room for all the superstars I loved to collect. I think I may have tried to sell a John Kruk card in there one day because I thought the Phillies were a dirty, nasty team. All my cards of Kruk and Dykstra, they were always chewing tobacco and their uniforms were always filthy. I never liked the Phillies as a kid. But now I love them. They’re like the modern-day New York Yankees from Phillidelphia.
The one team I absolutely loved growing up though were the Minnesota Twins. Tom Kelly was the skipper of that team and Kent Hrbeck, Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Chuck Knoblauch and Jeff Reardon were all of my favorite Twinkies. The sad thing was I never was able to get a Chuck Knoblauch baseball card. Ever. It didn’t matter how many packs of cards I bought, I never ended up with a Knoblauch. It was the most frustrating time as a youngster that I could remember. All my friends had one. Or two. Or three. And I couldn’t get one.
I remember this new brand of cards came out. I wasn’t sure of where to get them but the neighbor kid had a whole stack. And sure enough, there were two different kinds of Chuck Knoblauch cards in his stack. Every day I tried to persuade him to give me one. But nothing worked. I wasn’t really thinking about trading any of my doubles for a Knoblauch card. The idea was to just collect as many superstars as possible.
One miserable summer day my prayers had been answered though. The neighbor kid that had been holding Chuck Knoblauch cards hostage came to my parents’ door and held out both of them. He was offering both of them to me but at a price. He wanted $3.00 a card. I remember scampering upstairs to my piggy bank and counting out as many quarters as I could. And I also had a lone $1 dollar bill crumpled up as well. I unfolded the dollar bill and stared at it intently. I knew what I had to do. I hated giving that dollar bill to the neighbor kid. But I had to have those Chuck Knoblauch baseball cards. At this point I had no other options. So I handed over the money.
The very next day I bought a pack of baseball cards and look what I got…
As I’ve stated before, Chuck Knoblauch was one of my heroes growing up as a kid. And even 20 years later he’s still a player I’ve always idolized. So what’s the significance of all of this now? Chuck Knoblauch follows me on Twitter! Yes, that’s right! You can go to my Twitter account and check! @MLBwayneMLB is my Twitter handle and you’ll find him on the list of people currently following me. Chuck is an awesome guy and he regularly answers tweets sent to him! So feel free to hit him up on Twitter! And what else is cool about Chuck? He has awesome shirts that you can buy! Check it out:
I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. And I have a lot of appreciation for these baseball players to share their lives with their fans on Twitter, Facebook and whatever else is used. I am thankful for these media tools because just about every baseball fan I know is always interested in what these guys do off the field. Its fun to talk with them. Its fun to get to know them and its fun to get to share ideas, talk about other things with them and connect with them on a personal level. I can’t speak for all baseball players or fans but I’m sure some baseball players have fun with it too.
So Chuck. If you’re reading this, I wanted to personally thank you for what you’ve done on and off the field. You’re a hero in my eyes, a superstar and quite the baseball player. People love you and we all appreciate you doing what you’ve done on Twitter. I especially love the shirt I got and every time I wear it I get stopped a few times a day asking if you really follow me. It’s awesome and I can’t describe how awesome it is that you follow me on Twitter. My only regret? Not having Twitter around when I was 12!
Although I did not know Greg Halman personally, I’m sure a lot of fans, baseball players, friends and family did. It’s a tragic ending to such a great start for Greg. I watched him play most of his 44 games at Safeco Field and I can tell you first hand that he would have made a great addition to the Seattle Mariners baseball organization.
I don’t know why this happened but I’m sure eventually the facts will come to light. Until then, let’s take a moment of silence for Greg Halman…
And if you’re interested in reading the full story of MLB.com, you can read it here.
I know it’s soooooo early but I wanted to get this information out in case anyone was planning on trying to catch up with me at some baseball games next year. So mark your calendars, people! I’m hoping to make it to a few new stadiums next season but I can’t promise anything! What I’m really excited about for the 2012 season is that the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics are going to hold their season openers in Japan! Yeah, that’s right! They’re going to play a couple of games at the Tokyo dome! What does that mean for me? I’m going to JAPAN!
I’ve never been to Japan so I have no idea what to expect. But I’m sure it will be an epic trip! This all happens on March 28th I believe. So mark those calendars! And yes, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies will be in full swing for these games!
My next stop is Minute Maid Park. I’d usually save this trip for some time in the distant future because I’m not really an Astros fan. But I am a fan of Ryan Rowland-Smith and Bud Norris. I love to see Norris pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals. He destroys that team and since I’m not a Cardinals fan I gain much joy from watching that. Minute Maid has something spectacular going on next season though, and I want to be apart of it. They’re celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2012 and they’re using special 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs. And this is the logo that’s going on all of the baseballs:
So with that being said, I am in dire need of one of these baseballs. I may have to travel to San Francisco a few times to watch the Giants play the Astros just to increase my chances of snagging one of these gems. And I’ll do it if it comes down to it. But I hope to snag one at Minute Maid.
Speaking of commemorative baseballs being used next season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are celebrating their 50th season as the Los Angeles Dodgers next season too! If you’ve figured out how obsessed I am about snagging these collectible baseballs then I shouldn’t have to tell you that Dodger stadium is in the works for a visit as well. Although, I’ve heard many nasty rumors about how unfriendly this ballpark is to fans, how ridiculous the rules are about ticketing and seating, and I’ve also hear the parking lot opens up to the park the same time the gates open. So I’m really not too excited to visit. This stadium will surely be visited towards the end of the season.
The stadium looks friendly enough. So I’ll give it a try. Other stadiums that I may try to make it out to next season will be AT&T Park, Oakland Coliseum, PETCO Park, and possibly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I’d also like to make it out to Miami Park next season, the new home for the Miami Marlins, but it may not happen. They too are using commemorative baseballs to celebrate the new baseball stadium and the new direction the Marlins are going to try to go next season.
So there you have it folks! Things are in the works for this Japan trip which I am totally stoked about! If you plan on being in the neighborhood at any one of these stadiums next year make sure you stop by and say hello. Or drop me an email sometime and let me know what dates you’re planning on going and I’ll try to meet up with you!
You can get the latest of what I’m doing and where I’m going on all my social media websites! I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for reading!