Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Twinsfest 2010

Twinsfest 2010 was held last weekend and I was in attendance on Friday and Saturday. One of my goals this year was to get Joe Mauer to autograph one of his Allen & Ginter cards. Another goal was to get new Twin Jim Thome to sign an Allen & Ginter card as well.

Friday is usually the best day to get player autographs because it is the least attended day. I got there 2 ½ hours before the event started and waited in the bitter cold wearing three layers of cloths. Upon getting into the event I ran so hard I almost fainted from exhaustion, and I still did not get a spot in line that would enable me to get an autograph from Joe Mauer.

One problem was that the people ahead of me outside the event held places in line for others. Therefore the 40 people ahead of me grew to be 100 people. There are two gates that they let people into the event which are both equal distances from the spot on the concourse where Joe Mauer was going to sign. Well, they opened the other gate up first meaning some of those folks had the jump on me.

This was frustrating but I have I learned over the years of attending these events that where one door closes another opens. There would be no Joe Mauer autograph this year (the line on Saturday was even worse), but there would be some surprise successes.

With a Mauer autograph out of the question, I moved down to field level where the vendors were and where also some of the other players were signing autographs. I found Brian Dunesing, along with coaches Rick Anderson, Rick Stelmaszek, and Scott Ullger signing with virtually no line. I needed Dunesing, Ullger, and Stelmaszek for my collection so I went through their line. I even had the chance to have a brief discussion with Dunesing about the quality of Allen & Ginter cards. For the record he thinks they are great cards too.

While waiting in that line I heard an announcement over the P.A. system that Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins, Rollie Fingers, former Twin Jim “Mudcat” Grant, former NL MVP George Foster, and former MVP and CY Young winner Vida Blue were there signing autographs for $20 each with the money going to charity. Jim “Mudcat” Grant has eluded me for years, so I was more than willing to donate $20 for him to sign a card for me. He even signed it Jim “Mudcat” Grant. While there I also got Rollie Fingers and Ferguson Jenkins to sign baseballs for me.

With these surprise successes under my belt, I moved to the J.J. Hardy, Nick Blackburn, and Jose Mijares line. One thing I always try to remember about Twinsfest is that just because the schedule says a player will be there does not mean he will be. Sure enough Blackburn was stranded in Oklahoma because a snowstorm and Mijares is was stuck in his native Venezuela with a visa issue. Luckily the person I really wanted (Hardy) was there and he signed an Allen & Ginter card for me.

I moved back up to concourse and got a baseball signed by Rod Carew which I got certified by Major League Baseball. Now when my heirs try to sell the ball the autograph will be guaranteed authentic making it more valuable.

I went and check out the Jim Thome line, and it was as bad as the Mauer line had been. My 2 goals were now out of reach. I decided not to fret the situation and was able to get a ball signed by Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, a photo signed by Joe Nathan, a ball signed by Michael Cuddyer (the man has one of the nicest signatures), and a card by Jon Rauch (another player I needed).

I must admit I was exhausted, but on the drive home I got another surprise when I realized my route home let me see the Twins new stadium Target Field which was all lit up. I pulled over and take a brief look at what looks like a beautiful stadium.

I did not sleep well that night, it was bitterly cold Saturday morning, and the lines outside to get in were really long. I decided Mauer and Thome, who were signing in the first autograph sessions, were unobtainable. I waited to get in and went down to the field where Denard Span was signing. I got him to sign a ball for me. With that I moved back up to the concourse where Dan Gladden was going be signing. I needed to get him to sign a poster I have showing the 1991 World Series Game 7 winning hit. I already have the poster signed by the guy who got the hit (Gene Larkin), now I was wanted to get the guy who scored the run (Gladden).

Gladden was going to be signing at the station where Thome was still signing. I arrived to find the Thome line still going and it seemed short enough for me to have a shot at getting him. I hustled to the end of the line and found some of those people were already waiting for Gladden. I was able to move past them and with roughly 3-4 minutes left in his signing time, I got Jim Thome to sign an Allen & Ginter card for me. What luck!

On rare occasions in the past I have been able to arrive at the end of a signing period and get a popular player unexpectedly. In fact that is how I got a Joe Mauer signed baseball. Of course that was back when Mauer drew only 400 people in his line unlike the 1000 – 1500 people he draws now.

I did get Dan Gladden to sign my poster. Roy Smalley (did not need him, but he was signing with Gladden and I feel it would be rude to not have something for him to sign) signed a card for me.

Most the other lines were now insanely long as Saturday is busiest of the three days. Worse was the fact that up in the concourse it was unbearably hot due to the large crowds there.

One line down on the field was not busy at all. Former Tim Laudner, current coach Jerry White, and Jeff Manship were not exactly drawing big crowds. I had a photo for Launder, a card for White, but nothing for Manship who I needed for my collection. Luckily I found a vendor who had a Jeff Manship card. I now have signed cards from 213 different current or former Twins.

I had a ticket for Sunday too, but I was pretty sore from standing in line and running up and down the Metrodome steps all day. Also there was really no one signing on Sunday that I needed, so I decided to use Sunday to sleep and rest. Turned out to be wise decision was I was more sore and tired than I knew.

In all I got 20 different current and former players to sign for me which is 3 short of my record achieved at Twinsfest 2009 in which I attended all three days. I read that this year’s Twinsfest was the 2nd most attended ever. I could believe that.

I find that sometimes during an event you don’t realized how good of time it really was. This was such an event. I was not sure it was as successful as I was hoping while the event was going on, but after looking at my successes I realized it turned out to be successful venture.