For some background on how my experience went, I should note that I had been preparing for this event since the day it was announced. Maybe I set myself up for some unrealistic expectations because in the end, I think the whole day was just kind of meh. My friend Lawrence and I showed up in line out front of the convention center in downtown San Diego at 6:45 AM. We were literally two of the first 15 people in line for an event that did not start until 9 AM. Within thirty minutes, the line grew exponentially.
When I got up on stage for him to sign, he declined my request to add a 1st All-Star inscription. The ball ended up looking real good though, and one cool thing MLB did was have authentication on site to authenticate the ball immediately. I had Wil sign a 2016 All-Star ball.
He was being interviewed by Jessica Mendoza of ESPN
During our subsequent travels, we came across a booth in which Hall of Famers like Gaylord Perry, Rollie Fingers, and Fergie Jenkins were signing autographs for $20 a pop. I have all three, but the Fingers and Perry I have did not have the HOF inscription. Therefore I bought both of them, and both came out looking real nice. One of the great things about many former players is they really take their time to give a nice signature, and they love to sign. I took a few photos of their setup plus snapped a couple of the baseballs they signed for me.
Perry on left, Jenkins on phone. Random kid scratching neck.
Bert Campaneris and Jim Leyritz were there too!
Rollie signing away, he's a good guy.
One of the coolest factors about Fan Fest is the kids get to have little clinics with former major league stars. Tim Raines happened to be the one teaching at the clinic I stopped by, so I took a couple of photos of him teaching kids how to steal bases as well as swing the bat well. Afterwards, security snuck him around the waiting group of autograph seekers, of which I was a member. This happened a lot during the day, as I wasn't able to wrangle anything from any player not scheduled to sign. This list included Rod Carew, Fred McGriff, Brian Giles, Harper, Raines, Andre Dawson, Ozzie Smith and Tony Oliva. Other than Myers who I showed up so early for, and paying for the two balls I just mentioned, I was shut out. Here are the two photos of Raines with the kids.
Maybe a long string would help?
Zobrist, Bryant, and Rizzo on Sports Center
As for the derby itself, it was honestly awesome. Giancarlo Stanton put on a major show, totaling 61 homers over the course of the competition that were later calculated to travel a total of 5.1 miles. I mean, this was some majestic stuff. He faced off against and pretty much decimated Todd Frazier in the Finals of the competition.
We did see some media guys come out of the ballpark and walk to their hotels. Since I was shutout at this point I did get Chris Berman of ESPN fame to sign a baseball for me.
White shirt middle
Overall, the autograph experience I had was very sub par. I am disappointed in the way fans were not allowed down to the field level for pregame warmups. The Fan Fest was okay, but definitely tailored more towards kids and the autograph situation was far too exploitable by the "graphers" that I have grown to loathe. It really is getting to the point for me that it's just so much easier to get autographs at paid signing events where I can avoid most of the crowds that enveloped so much of these All-Star events, as well as not have to compete with guys who push, pull, cut, cheat, and do whatever they deem necessary to obtain another man's signature. If the All-Star game was to come back, I think the only reason I might attend would be due to fear of missing out on something rather than any actual enjoyment I may have gotten out of it.
Thank you for reading!