Baseball Tonight Tour bus - Temple Diablo Mon March 12th

Baseball Tonight Tour bus - Temple Diablo Mon March 12th

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Training Day 5: Day long trip to Grand Canyon

No game today. We left at 7:30am and arrived at Grand Canyon East around noon-ish after a couple of stops along the way at a couple antique/trading post places.  Stopped at scenic stops along the Grand Canyon south rim towards the north rim.  Pretty awesome! the view, wow!

I went over some barriers onto the rocks, cliff at one of the stops, went near the edge! Got my picture taken and then it was a little windy way up there and I decided i better get back! 

Left the Canyon around 4:30 and was back to the hotel at 8pm. 

Tomorrow, back to baseball....hopefully we should be seeing a double header. 

First Game Camelback Stadium to see the Angles at the White Sox.  Then the evening game could change, but I have tickets for Royals at M's at Peoria.

We will see! 

Spring Training Day 4: Temple Diablo Stadium Dodgers at Angels

Got a late start today...didn't arrive until 12:45pm and had to get tickets from a scalper as the game was sold out. There were scalpers asking $30 for a $6 lawn seat for this game!  but, my dad paid face value for seats between dugout and home plate maybe 20 rows from the field ($29 each). 

I took pictures in front of the bus, i waved to Tim Kurkjian, but unfortunately I wasn't able to talk to him or get a picture with him. Took a couple pictures in front of the stadium.

The game was in the bottom of the First when we finally got in.  When the Angels were taken out I went down the right field corner, but dropped a Vernon Wells card and went back to get it and lost my spot. I was not able to get him.  I went outside the stadium and he did not stop. I called Kemp over, held my bobblehead and his girlfriend saw it and pointed (she is very attractive i must say, but nothing compared to Rihanna!).  And he signed a few feet away, but stayed in that one spot, i really thought he would sign the bobblehead, nobody else had one. But, then Tori Hunter almost hit him with his car (on purpose--joking with him and so he stopped signing).  Mark Trumbo I think signed, but I did not try to get him.  Adam Kennedy of course ignored everyone.  Dee Gordon signed, but I got him a couple days ago and had nothing for him to sign.  Tori Hunter stopped and from his card signed for maybe 10 minutes, but I thought he wouldn't sign that long and I got a good spot for Vernon Wells as people left the area I was at to get Tori. Finally, I went for Tori and of course that is when he pulled away! 

So i was SHUT OUT!!!!  today!  If I arrived early then I hope I would have been able to get at least one autograph.  Moral of the story....don't be late!! 

Not a good day today. But, yesterday was awesome!

Tomorrow we are heading to the Grand Canyon, which is about 4 hours away.

Spring Training Day 3: Peoria Diamondbacks @ Padres

Sunday, March 11th

Today was a good day.  We drove to the Peoria Sports Complex which is the home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. We went to the East Campus which is where the Padres have their batting practice.  We arrived around 10am. 

I was able to get all 3 bobbleheads signed. First I was able to get a Clayton Richard bobblehead and a (1) card signed and then a Kyle Blanks bobblehead and (2) cards signed  On cards I was able to get Padres prospect Robbie Erlin (1 card), prospect Jedd Gyorko (1 card), Starting pitcher Cory Luebke on (3) cards. Micah Owings signed (2 cards) and said this is when I had a little bit more hair, referring to the fact he doesn't have that much hair any more (haha). 

Before the game, but inside the stadium I called Huston Street and he came over and signed for me an 8x10 (1) Rookie of the Year photo and he put To Mike on it!  He was really nice, he signed a couple (2) cards as well.  Mark Kotsay also signed a card (1) for me inside and was talking with the fans.  A nice guy.  Finally, one of the Padres top prospects, Third Basemen, Corey Spangenberg took a photo with me after signing a card (1). 

After being taken out of the game, in autograph alley, Cameron Maybin signed a card (1) for me and it was hard, there were a ton of fans trying to get him.  I also was able to get Daniel Hudson of the Dbacks on a card (1), Jeremy Hermida of the Padres on (2) cards, Lyle Overbay of the Dbacks on (1) card and talked to him about the fact the entire starting infield for the Dbacks were former Toronto Blue Jays and that we miss him in Toronto and I am rooting for him and the other guys.  But, he likes being back in Arizona and the National League.  I also got Aaron Hill on a card, saw Johnny Mac and he remembered us! I was able to get Evereth Cabrera on the last remaining Padres bobblehead. Will Venable signed (4) cards. Rymer Liriano signed (1) card. I also got Jason Bartlett to sign a photo I had with him and Craig Breslow of the Diamondbacks signed the Sporting News magazine fro September 2010 that he is on the cover of for being the smartest athlete (in all sports!). 

19 players signed for me. 15 Padres, 4 Diamondbacks.  Plus I talked to Johnny Mac and Johnny Mac signed for my dad a baseball (and put Scituate Mass on it).
Magazine - 1 (Breslow)
8x10 - 2 (Bartlett, Street)
Bobbleheads - 3 (Cabrera, Richard, Blanks)
Cards - 25 (see above for list)
31 different items signed!   Best day so far!!

Tomorrow, trying to decide where to go...most likely Angels (Temple Diablo) as the ESPN Bus will be there ant Tim Kurkjian.  Plus get to see Scott Downs and Vernon Wells.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Training Day 2: Phoenix Municipal Stadium Reds @ A's

Day 2 is here and once again I was up and ready to go. But, didn't arrive until about 10am again (if you go to spring training, try to get there at 9am or earlier to get players as they are coming in, this is what people tell me).

 I am so happy that I get to have most of this trip with my father, its fun spending time with him and talking baseball. 

My dad was able to get Fergie Jenkins yesterday on a photo by the way. He also got a picture with him.  He is an old-time player who played two years with the Sox.  Today he got a guy that played with the Reds and beat the Sox.  Glad he got people that meant something to him!

Ok, so if you go to Phoenix Municipal Stadium, you need to go to a practice field 2 miles away early. You cannot access practice field at stadium as it is closed off to the public. So, i saw some guys waiting in an area outside for autographs...found out that is where visiting bus goes, only about 7 people there, so we waited....and waited....and waited...

Around 12:05 the Reds finally arrived. Phillips and Cueto did not sign. But, I got Ryan Ludwick on a card and Jeff Francis on the Sports Illustrated!!! I didn't recognize anyone else, besides Chris Heisy, Willie Harris and Dusty Baker.

Inside the stadium i saw someone signing in right field, I got down there as quick as i could and it was Dallas Braden!!  I got him on the bobblehead!!!! and then on and 8x10. I told him I am from DC and that the A's got some good prospects in Peacock, Norris, Millone (i forget the 4th guy for a minute and remembered it was AJ Cole--had a mind block). Braden said that we lost a big one. I said I know. Glad to have him.  I wished him well. He signed for a long, long time...while i was there probably 20-25 minutes. My dad got him on a ball.

I saw a couple Quinnipiac alums. That was cool (i had my yellow Quinnipiac shirt on).

I then saw Dusty Baker signing and went to the dugout and got him in the nick of time on the bobblehead!!

I got a prospect Sonny Gray on a USA jersey card and he showed a couple of his teammates the card. I like having jersey cards as many players show other players or make a comment on them.

One thing in A's stadium they did not have names on the back. I had the program that told me who players were.  I missed some guys cause i was outside.

After the 6th inning i left and went to see where the A's go. But could not find it (well found one side that was blocked off by security). So i went to where the Reds bus comes and I waited to see if I could get Cueto or Phillips. And, I did!  I got Johnny Cueto on a card.  I also got Brandon Phillips on a gametime mementos card and my dad got him on a ball and on 07 ginter card for me.

Ryan Ludwick signed a card for my dad. He recognized all of us from the am and would not sign. But, my dad got him on a mini-2010 allen and ginter card.

Jeff Francis came out and i said to him thanks for signing the SI for me earlier and I said it must be awesome to be on the cover of SI and he probably has one framed at home. And he smiled and said he does and that is was awesome.  I then asked him if he could sign a card and he signed one for me and then signed one for my dad.

So day 2 total: 9  autographs, 6 players and 1 coach
Bobbleheads - 2 (Braden and Baker)
8x10's - 1 (Braden)
Cards - 5 (Gray, Cueto, Phillips, Ludwick, Francis)
Sports Illustrated - 1 (Francis)

Dad -7 autographs (6 players)
Cards - 3 (Phillips, Ludwick, Francis)
Balls - 4 (Crisp-2, Braden-1, Phillips-1)

Tomorrow, not sure where we are going...but, either way. I am excited to be here. If you ever get a chance to do spring training in AZ, it is worth it. All the stadiums are so close.  I have met so many people at the games and hotel that are here to see there team.  I have had a number of great conversations with fans at the seats, fans waiting for autographs.

I met 3 nice women from San Francisco, well they are from that area, but all 3 had Giants gear and had a great conversation with them about baseball and various stadiums. Also talked about how fans are from different teams.  I have met some nice Giants fans in DC, but these women were nice and knowledgeable about baseball.  I even gave them my card, if they ever want to go to Fenway, I would get them tickets.

I hope this trip doesn't go by fast. I have been so excited for it to come and now finishing up day 2.

Until tomorrow!

Mike "bobblehead guy"

Spring Training Day 1: Surprise Stadium Dodgers @ Rangers

Wow, what an amazing time I had. When I attended spring training 5 years ago in Florida, I did not go to the practice fields, just the games.  I enjoyed seeing all the players going from field to field.  Of course, there were tons of fans trying to get autographs.

My first autograph is spring training 2012 was Mike Olt, a high prospect for the Rangers.  I also got (not in this order)

Joe Beimel on 2 cards, people asked who is that guy with all those tats, i was like that's Joe Beimel. I told Joe, thanks for signing the bobblehead a couple years ago when he was with the Nats.

I also recognized Alberto Gonzalez (another former Nat) and he signed for me--nobody around me recognized him either.

I also was able to get Joe Nathan, former All-Star closer with the Twins, in his first year with the Rangers. Wow, what an incredibly nice guy. he signed, no joke--for 45 minutes-1 hour. He was great!  A class act all the way! Joe, I wish you nothing but success in 2012, except against the Jays (sorry, that's my team). My dad got him on a ball and then got him on a card for me later.

Brad Hawpe signed as he was going from the batting cage to a field. He was in a hurry and scribbled on my card.

Scott Feldman was nice and as he was sitting on a fence he signed for fans, signed 2 cards for me.

Mike Napoli surprised me. I heard he wasn't someone who usually signed. He probably signed a good 30-35 minutes (maybe more) right on path leading from main practice field to their clubhouse. He signed a card for me and a card for my dad.

Outside I got a total of 9 cards signed by 7 players, my dad got me 2 more cards (one Napoli and one Nathan). Inside I was able to just get Dee Gordon. My dad got Andre Ethier on a card for me (thanks dad!) and almost got Kemp. I was hoping to get Kemp on a bobblehead.  Just at wrong spot (go figure, i was down there for a while, then when dodgers come out, my dad goes down to the spot further down left field line where Ethier and Kemp both go!!---he is SO LUCKY!!!).

Day 1 - 13 cards signed, 9 players (7 Rangers, 2 Dodgers).

Tomorrow, we are going to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to see the Reds at the A's.  Hope to get Dallas Braden, Brad Peacock and other prospects for the A's.  Not sure who is going for the Reds. But hope to get my bobbleheads signed (brought Jay Bruce and Dusty Baker).

- Mike "bobblehead guy"

Friday, March 2, 2012

Arizona - Cactus League.....can't wait!

Hello Everyone,

I will be heading to Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday, March 8th and will be attending spring training games from March 9th-17th.  I hope to get to all 10 stadiums (we'll see) and see all 15 teams (i hope).  I have never been to spring training in Arizona, so it will all be a learning experience for me, but i am SUPER EXCITED!!!

My father, a life-long, die-hard, Red Sox fan will be coming with me (but leaving two days earlier).  He is telling me he doesn't care what team or stadium to see....but, I hope that he has an enjoyable time.

If anyone has tips on various stadiums, where to go for autographs both outside the stadium and in, that would be fantastic.

I plan on blogging (hopefully every day about my experiences). I will be taking pictures (if i can find my camera) and talking about my interactions with various players.  I am MOST EXCITED about seeing Scott Downs and Vernon Wells.  They were two of the main reasons why i became a Blue Jays fan.  Now, they are both with the Angels. I am NOT going to see the Angels, for Pujols.

I have lots of cards, some Sports Illustrated magazines, photo's and i might bring some of my bobblehead's to get autographed (i am the bobblehead guy after all).

I am aiming to see 13 games in 8 days...(one day we are going to the Grand Canyon).  I can't wait to go and hopefully my spring training blogs will help people for their visit to spring training in Arizona!

Until next week.....enjoy Baseball Tonight and my favorite analyst, writer, person....Tim Kurkjian, who actually remembers me when I see him (at Nats stadium, at Camden Yards and at the airport)....he is so knowledgeable and love talking to him about the Jays. 

 I am eagerly anticipating the season to begin (my O's 29 game plan tickets came a nice box).

Be well!

Mike "Bobblehead Guy" O'Neill