Saturday, January 23rd marked the annual Orioles FanFest and my first appearance at the event. I had heard stories that FanFest was a disorganized, chaotic event that wasn't necessarily worth the time. So needless to say I didnt go into the event with high hopes. After almost seven hours, I left the Baltimore Convention Center with mixed emotions.
The morning did not start very well. I was misdirected to the ticket booth and wasted 20 minutes in a line for ticket holders, only to exit the line, purchase tickets and make my way to the back. Since I am not a season ticket holder I had to wait with the rest of the regular fans until 11am, no big deal. But as the line of 1000+ people was pushing toward the entrance, FanFest staff decided to let newcomers to the party enter as well, bypassing those who had been waiting an hour. Not cool. Once inside, ticket-takers hastily ripped tickets to get to the next entrant, forgetting that most people entering were "collectors" and may want to hold onto the stub, or at least get it signed.
Then, I was in and had a decision to make, up or down? Up had one autograph station and down had three, no brainer. I went to the lower level and hurried to the designated areas ready for my day to truly begin.
Each autograph station had sections A and B, rotating signing times on the hour. Each line would only allow 250 seekers through and once the quota was reached, no one else could enter the line. The sessions included three signers, each ready to go. The players were listed on televisions to aid in hunting, but the announcements were made only an hour before each signing. With the amount of people clamoring for autographs, it was impossible to plan who to go after or even where to start.
I started at the closest line to me, closed. Second, closed. Third, closed. Fourth, open, but with players I didnt need or have cards for. Five and six, were much of the same. Awesome start. So I decided to go upstairs and try my luck.
The seventh line I went to was closed, but number eight was open and I had to get in. I could not risk going back through the madhouse to come out empty handed. I was there for autographs and that is what I would get damnit. The upper level had been ignored by most and the open line was barely half full.
Jim Palmer, Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones all escaped me in the early lines that were closed. My noon line was for Michael Aubrey, Luke Scott and Mike Bordick. I had a Bordick already but needed Scott and Aubrey, so it was a good place to begin, as if I had much of a choice. Here I met my first single serving friend, a guy looking for Don Buford to sign a statuette, and we struck up conversation. We were both natigating the event solo and were finding it a rough beginning.
Once our session was filled, tons of people started pouring into the upper level. Before the 11am signing was over, the line for the next session at 1pm was starting to fill up. By the time my session had started the next quota had been met. It became apparent that waiting would be the name of the game today. On time, the signings began and the line moved quickly.
Mike Aubrey was the first signer on stage. I didn't have anything featuring him as an Oriole, but had a blank 1991 Crown I was going to have him sign. On the table with him were his Oriole Postcard, so I went with that instead. He was very personable, making conversation with as many people as possible and with the first autograph of the day my tension subsided.
Mike Aubrey 2010 Orioles Postcards
Next in line was Scott, fully bearded, as if he were training to fight Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. I asked him about his new look and he said he grew it every year when he trains in the cold weather off-season. I thanked him for his signature and crossed another one off the list.
Luke Scott 2009 Topps Heritage #109
When it came to Bordick, I actually had a personal connection. He had been a patron of the restaurant I managed many times and I asked if he had been back recently. He chuckeld and said he had and we shook hands upon my exit. The 2002 Fleer Tradition he signed looks great and will transplant the autograph currently in the collection I had to trade for.
Mike Bordick 2002 Fleer Tradition #178
OK, three autographs down, two I can cross off the needs list and an upgrade of another. Not too bad, but no signers from 1991 Crown. Hopefully it would happen in the next session. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, chicken tenders and a hot dog, and wasn't charged for my soda, score! With few options and little drive to go back to the main level, I got in another line. This line was for the 2pm mystery signing.
At 1pm a woman announced it was Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Jason Berken, she was wrong. It ended up being Brian Roberts, Chorye Spoone and someone I forgot. I have almost 100 autos of Roberts and a Spoone and felt like I would be missing out on too much to stay in line. I gave two little kids whose favorite player was Roberts, two of his cards and exited the line at 1:10pm. The 3pm line was forming and I got in, almost two hours prior to the signing.
This was now the second time I was waiting in line, to go wait in line, I was stoked. A pint-sized O's fan was in front of me and proved to be a font of knowledge. He helped me pass the time, talking about the latest Orioles news, their prospects and the signing of Miguel Tejada. Tejada's signing earlier in the day spread like the game telephone, with few knowing exactly how much and for how long, just understanding he was back.
At 2pm my signers were announced, the triple B's. Josh Bell, Jason Berken and Brad Bergesen. My heart sank slightly as I only had a card for Bergesen but wasn't about to relinquish my spot. Others felt more strongly and left, testing the waters in another line.
I had only heard Josh Bell mentioned on talk radio and had no idea what he looked like until he sat down at the table to sign. He was the only player I saw dressed for the occasion in a suit and tie. He was extremely gracious and as you can tell from my scan, has a great signature. Hopefully he will be cracking the major league roster soon, so I can place his postcard in the collection.
Josh Bell 2010 Orioles Postcards
Berken was just as nice. He had a black sharpie, I had blue, so my Berken postcard is probably one of the few in blue. His signature is a little hard to read, but his #49 inscription makes it better.
Jason Berken 2010 Orioles Postcards
When I got to Bergesen I asked about his leg as I am sure I was the first to do so. He said he was back to full strength and good to go. I am glad I made it to the card store this week to pick up some team sets so I could add him to the book.
Brad Bergesen 2009 Topps Update #211
I had been secluded in a small room for over an hour and had no clue how busy it was in the main hallway. It wasn't. The 4pm session across the hall was not even half full for Felix Pie, Nate Snell and Justin Turner. Finally, I could cross off a very hard signer in Snell from the Crown set. I met two other collectors that belong to www.sportscollectors.net and we talked about the hobby the entire wait. Rob is also collecing the Crown set so we had a lot of trading successes and failures to talk about. Hopefully we may be able to help each other out with some needs, probably just mine.
As 4pm struck, we had no signers and the last session of the day was announced, Chris Hoiles, TiM Nordbrook and Boog Powell. Crap. Now I was in a pickle. The Boog line was sure to fill up fast and mine had not even started. I didnt know what to do, so I reacted spontaneously. I gave my Nate Snell card to a collector who didnt need anything by him, got an extra 91 Crown Nordbrook from Rob, and ditched the line for Powell. I made it. I was guaranteed three hits form the set and was happy.
That quickly faded. The Boog room didn't fill up quickly. Actually it didn't fill up at all. I guess most people had left or were picking up the leftovers downstairs. So I should have stayed and gotten Pie, Turner and Snell, what a boner. But wait, there's more. When I went out to "go to the bathroom", which surprisingly was allowed, I found that Snell had never showed. Awesome! It figures.
Nate Snell 1991 Orioles Crown Still Unsigned
Back in the Powell room there were more single serving friends. We compared collections, current needs and what item would be saved if the house were on fire. This event had a ton of people dropping big wads on jerseys, bats and helmets, and there I was with a small box of cards. I kinda felt inadequate, but then I remembered I was a blogger, I was cool. Ish.
Boog was the first in line and I asked him to sign his full name if possible. He obliged with a great John "Boog" Powell on my card, which he doesn't usually do. He was pimping his brand, Boog's BBQ as always. I don't think he has worn anything else since Camden Yards opened up. He had just recently replied to my TTM request siting only doing private signings or going through a promotional company, so getting him on the Crown card brightened my day.
John "Boog" Powell 1991 Orioles Crown #367
Hoiles was next and even though I served him and others beers before his Orioles Hall of Fame Induction, I didn't bring it up, not sure why. I had success with him TTM so there was no Crown card to sign, just a Score. My extra I gave to a guy behind me that didnt have anything for him.
Chris Hoiles 1996 Score
The last sig of the day was Tim Nordbrook. I think he was a little shocked that I actually had a card of his to sign, thanks Rob. He had already signed a bunch of his postcards and gave me an extra. It was a nice way to end my autograph day.
Tim Nordbrook 1991 Orioles Crown #334
Tim Nordbrook 2010 Orioles Fanfest Postcard
The design of the event made me stay holed up in my little corner of the Convention Center. I didn't dare go see my friend Karim, working a booth on the main level, it was too risky. I also was not able to listen to any forums, play and kids games (I was probably too tall anyway) or have my picture taken with Palmer for charity. I am bummed at how it was handled, having to pin all your hopes on chance, or have a team of people waiting in every line. I don't have that kind of arsenal at my disposal.
The walk back to the car gave me time for reflection. I was such an idiot for getting out of the Pie line, I missed out on two more autos... now I have a few contacts to trade with... maybe they will follow this blog... probably not... I am glad Olivia didnt come, she would have hated me for it... I would have guilted her into waiting in lines for me so I could bounce back and forth... Now I need to mend the fact that I left her all alone on a Saturday for a bunch of men.
Were you there? If so I would love to hear about your experience. Thanks for your patience during my rant.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Orioles FanFest 2010
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First of all, you are cool, not just "ish." Secondly, Pie is gonna be tough, there is not even anything on ebay right now with his auto in an O's jersey. I am glad you did well. email me a list of what you need and I will keep my eyes open for you.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you were able to get a few autographs.ReplyDelete
After hearing the reports from the Orioles & Royals fanfests, I'm not as disappointed that the Mets don't have one. It sounds like too much chaos to be a lot of fun.
Potzie, congrats on the couple scores you got. You should have come downstairs for the 5:00 lines. I went through THREE different lines in about 30 minutes because there were so few people. I snagged a Larry Sheets Crown card for the set and also got Snell on a Crown card, he was signing in place of Spoone downstairs. My wife came with me and we double teamed the event waiting in different lines. Between the 2 of us we got 27 different players. I missed out on the big one that I wanted which was Palmer. I would have gotten him at 10 AM had I not stopped at the stupid memorabilia room upstairs before I went downstairs to start the day. Oh well. I did get some big names including Wieters and Markakis (my wife got Markakis to sign a ball that he threw to me after him and B Rob warmed up before a game last year). I actually liked how everything went and was very happy with the results.ReplyDelete
Dave-Thanks, I will email you a have list today, appreciate it.ReplyDelete
Paul-If the times allplayers were signing had been announced earlier, I would have less problems with it. It is still a good event for kids to go to, meet some players and have fun.
Aaron-I was flying solo so had no way of knowing downstairs was different from upstairs. I had to just do what I could to guarantee some auto's. I am really pissed that Snell backed out of my line. Had it been announced I would have moved on. My last gripe is that the signers were "announced" on 35in televisions, that could only be seen when not in line. Oh well, there's always next year.
I have some autos that will help you out including Pie on an O's card and an extra Snell.ReplyDelete
Hit me up salsmanado at gmail and we can talk trades. It's nice to see another O's autograph blog. Good luck with everything!