Sunday, April 12, 2015

Padres Fan Fest 2015

                                                          View from my season ticket seat

After a flurry of big name transactions made by "rock star" general manager A.J. Preller, there is a palpable excitement in San Diego about Padres' baseball for the first time in many years.  This has had an effect on team organized events like Fan Fest.  This year alone they estimated that over 40,000 people attended the event, which is a far cry from the teens one would see in previous years.  A new rule was implemented this year in which attendees would only be given one autograph voucher, and the player(s) you received would remain a surprise until you got in that line.  Needless to say, that threw a major wrench in my plans to specifically target a select group of players.  There would also only be 4,500 vouchers given out, so getting there early was vital.  My friend Lawrence and I decided to show up over an hour earlier than even we season ticket holders are allowed into the event.  This means we got in line to enter the ballpark and get our voucher at 6:45 AM for an event that began at 8 AM.  As we walked in we were given an autograph voucher with a listed time and section to be at.  Again, we had no idea which player this would be.  Without getting into details, I'll say we ended up with four total vouchers, when everyone was only supposed to get one.  Sometimes it helps to know people.  One cool event they do at Padres fan fest is the team garage sale, where they sell memorabilia and merchandise for far cheaper than one would typically find.  I bought two autographed baseballs for $25 each.  One being Huston Street and the other being Benito Santiago.

The "Street" ball was actually mislabeled and ended up being a ball signed by Logan Forsythe.  The workers either put the wrong ball in a Huston Street bag or someone else switched them trying to get a Street ball for cheaper than $25.  Either way, I didn't notice it at that time and I'm now annoyed that I paid $25 for a utility man.

It's unfortunate that the Santiago ball was signed in black, but it was literally one of only two signed balls I saw from him amid a collection of players that probably devalued the baseball by signing them.  The options weren't great so I think adding a former ROY as well as an all star closer for $25 a pop wasn't bad.  I was also trying to make my trip down to Petco worthwhile just in case the players I had vouchers for weren't players I wanted.  

After walking around the ballpark a bit and shopping for a new Wil Myers jersey, it was time to line up and see which player we got at our first session.  Our hopes were Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, James Shields, and Wil Myers.  Guys like Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross would be consolation prizes.  Well, the first player we ended up getting was Cashner.  Then came the dilemma of whether or not to use a baseball on him (since the prices keep going up on them). We decided to get a ROMLB signed on the sweet spot after all, because he could very well end up being our best get of the afternoon.  
Instead of boring everyone with the details on how each individual player acted, I'll just say they all were in great spirits and very interactive with every fan they talked to.  It was a bunch of good guys.  Lawrence and I hustled over to our next signing, which happened to be Tyson Ross.  Another good player to get, though not a main target.  He threw a wrinkle at us though when he didn't sweet spot the ball.  Neither one of us ever asks for it so this time it bit us.  At this point we decided to start a team ball 2015 project.  
Our next two vouchers were for Derek Norris, the new all star catcher, and Brandon Maurer, a reliever they just acquired from the Mariners.  Both guys are pictured below in order.  

One thing fans can do if they don't end up with the voucher of a player they want an autograph from is get in a standby line and hope the player signs fast enough to get all the vouchers taken care of.  Lawrence and I decided to do that for a few more players just to add to the team ball at this point.  We ended up with Jedd Gyorko, Kevin Quackenbush, and Dale Thayer as well.  Gyorko is pictured below.  

Team balls are a lot of work, and now I have to bring the ball to every game I attend so that I can always be prepared to add to it.  Since I have a 21 game season ticket package I figure I have a decent chance of getting a big amount of the players, but it's a lot of work.  Here are the pictures of how it is coming along so far;


All in all, it was a solid day for me.  Seven current players plus a couple of alumni on a day in which we were probably only supposed to end up with one signature.  This is a pretty promising start to the 2015 baseball season.  Thanks for reading.