I headed down to the ballpark to try and get Ryan Braun to sign an official Rawlings Major League Baseball, as I have for quite a few years now. The Brewers are a club without a lot of star power so the potential targets on a team such as this one, as opposed to say the Los Angeles Dodgers, is relatively low. At least it is from the standpoint of getting baseballs signed. It's been mentioned ad nauseum in this blog that I don't really like using baseballs on mediocre players because they are expensive, and take up a lot of space. That being said, I came prepared with cards for the current Brewers roster, as well as a few balls to get signed by someone such as Braun.
Something to keep in mind with Braun is that he is from southern California (he went to Granada Hills High School), therefore when he is town he generally has a large contingent of family and friends with him when he leaves the ballpark. During these times, I absolutely refuse to ask a player for an autograph, a rule many "graphers" don't necessarily adhere to. I feel that is the player's time, and I don't want to impose on that in any way. This caveat, along with the fact that the Brewers often stay in the Omni Hotel which adjoins Petco Park, has made getting Ryan Braun's autograph quite difficult. The Omni and Petco Park are attached by a man bridge that players often use nowadays as a means to avoid walking in the crowd below.
Having shown up at Petco Park around 10PM, I noticed that there were only four people trying to get autographs, which is a very low number. I waited for about thirty minutes during which time many players had walked out, and for whatever reason I did not really feel all that compelled to try and get any of my cards signed by players. It was apparent my one and only goal at this point was to try and get Ryan Braun. He ended walking out at street level, sans family, with only three autograph collectors standing there. This was about as optimal a chance as I have had to try and get him. However, he passed by telling the three of us that he wasn't going to be signing anything tonight. Obviously it was a major disappointment, but he has signed for people in the past so it isn't as if he is impossible. I just have bad timing when it comes to this particular player. I called it a night and headed back home.
Something of interest, or perhaps just a little bit of self soothing, is to follow. Here is a picture of a baseball I had signed by former Brewer Prince Fielder during batting practice at Petco Park some years ago...
On a side note, my dad used to live in Milwaukee and took me to quite a few games at Miller Park during my visits there. One year I went there happened to be a year the All-Star game was being played in Milwaukee, so while there I purchased an All-Star ball I later had signed by Trevor Hoffman and Jimmy Rollins.
One thing I find interesting about these types of baseballs is the stitching is done in the color scheme of the team hosting the game. Another game my dad took me to happened to be a game against the Yankees in 2005. I decided to take a couple baseballs just in case a couple players decided to sign, knowing full well the Yankees were a notoriously difficult team to get anything out of. I decided to hang out over the Yankee dugout and see what happened. Well, I ended up getting two baseballs signed by a pretty famous fellow named Derek Jeter, which to this day remains one of my best gets...
You will notice that Jeter almost always signs below the Rawlings logo, as his contract with Steiner Sports prevents him from signing any baseball on the sweet spot. I feel like reiterating this as the way it pertains to me is pretty important; I do not care if a ball is not signed on the sweet spot. I am not in this hobby to sell anything I collect, therefore of I get a good signature like Jeter I am ecstatic regardless of where the signature is. Does it look nicer when signed on the sweet spot? Sure, but it is in no way a deal breaker for me so when I hear other hobbyists complaining about guys not signing on the sweet spot it irks me quite a bit. Be happy with what you are lucky to get.
My Yankee game story does not end with Jeter, as I got one more ball signed that day by a player who in 2005 was a rookie and was relatively unknown. I noticed a player signing, and vividly remember thinking what the hell I have one more baseball to use so I may as well get it signed by this guy. Well "this guy" turned out to be Robinson Cano. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Two Jeter balls and a Cano in one go? Doesn't get much better than that.
That is the end of my Milwaukee Brewers reminiscing for a day. Maybe next year I will have better luck with Ryan Braun when the team makes its trip out to San Diego.