Monday, August 20, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates pregame @Petco Park 8/20/2012

By no means are the Pirates a big, star studded team that attract swarms of autograph collectors, but they are definitely a team on the rise with some good caliber talent.  Therefore, when I arrived at the ballpark at noon per my usual routine, I was not all that surprised to see a group of around a dozen people already waiting.   The Pirates played a 19 inning(!) game yesterday, so none of us were really expecting to see players trickle into the ballpark right off the bat.  Really the only reason I got there that early is because you never want to miss out on a player you are targeting just in case, and I was already in the downtown area anyway. 

I scoped out both of the main entrances, asking the people waiting on each side who they had seen and in essence really just trying to gather as much info about the Pirates as possible.  This was my first time trying to collect the Pirates so gathering tips is always crucial.  In fact, I despise the guys out there who will not tell anyone anything they know, as if leaking this information will somehow doom them to missing out on a player.  That, however, is a rant I will touch on in a future post. 

After waiting for some Pirates to show up for a good hour and a half and only seeing the coaches, I decided to head to the Padres entrance to see if any of the Pirates were getting in that way.  This young guy Jake and his dad were camped out and Jake told me he was racking in the Padres, but no Pirate other than Juan Cruz had been seen.  This confirmed my suspicion that the players were probably given a little leeway in lieu of the late game the day prior.  As I was about to head back to my main spot, Will Venable of the Padres pulled up in his car and signed for Jake, and then signed the Topps 2012 card I had for him.  I congratulated him on the good game yesterday and he said the "ball was carryin'".  Here is that card...
Even though I was there to get Pirates players, I always bring my stack of Padres just in case, and in this situation the move paid off.  I hustled back to the other side of the ballpark, hoping that my main target Andrew McCutchen had not arrived yet.  Turns out, there was still no Pirates activity.  We all waited about another half hour and then at around 2:30, the Pirates started arriving in droves.  First off, I got Gaby Sanchez, the recent acquisition from Miami.  He signed my Topps card.  So did Michael McKenry who arrived shortly after...

Three players pulled up in a cab together, but it was quickly apparent that no one knew who any of the three were.  Turns our they were recent call ups Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes, and Jordy Mercer.  I only had a card for Hughes, but by the time I figured out who it was he had already left.  Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Chris Resop pulled up in a cab as well.  I attempted to get Alvarez on a ball but he only signed for Jake who had just arrived from getting all the Padres.  I wish I had tried for Walker instead as he signed for everyone who asked and I had a card for him.  That kind of stuff happens.  Very shortly after this, a cab pulled up with Andrew McCutchen inside.  Seeing the crowd, he waved the cabbie around to the other side where the Padres' entrance is.  Thus commenced the race for McCutchen, as every type of goober imaginable huffed (my buddy Lawrence) and puffed (myself) themselves in a sprint for the almighty autograph.  I am highly aware that this makes me sound like a complete and utter nerd, but I really don't care.  It's a hoby, it's a chase, and it's something I love to do.  Alas, we made it in the nick of time as Andrew signed everything everyone asked him to.  This was a group of around ten (very out of breath) people.  I asked him to sign a Rawlings Official Major League Baseball and he obliged, signing the sweet spot.  I then got back in line and had him sign the Topps card I had. 

My mission was complete.  This guy is the probable 2012 NL MVP, and he was a complete class act.  He conversed with the fans, he took his time to sign neatly, and he signed every item that was asked of him.  McCutchen for MVP!  In the name of oxygen,  Lawrence and I decided to call it a day. 

I'd like to give a shout out as well to A.J Burnett and James McDonald who also signed for everyone at the Padres entrance a little earlier.  I had decided at the time their cab went by not to chase after them just in case McCutchen arrived simultaneously, therefore I did not get either of them.  It was a good day for the hobby if you were at Petco Park. 

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