Thursday, January 30, 2014

Twinsfest 2014

For the 11th straight year I attended Twinsfest – the annual winter gather of all things Minnesota Twins. Twinsfest 2014’s big news was after years of being held at the Metrodome, it was moving to Target Field. Fans were promised access to the high $ Champions, Legends, and Metropolitan Clubs, free tours of the Twins clubhouse and press box, and for $5 you got to take 5 cuts in the Twins underground batting cage. Kids were promised a change to play interactive games with Twins players.

In fact all of the above was true. I took the clubhouse and press box tours, and enjoyed them. I watched some of players play various games with kids which I thought was nice. Also fans got to watch real families play the Family Feud game show with Twins players/coaches as team captains. It all seemed to go over well. I also found Target Field is closer to my home, parking was cheaper, the food more expensive, and the view of the lighted field when it snowed on Friday night was amazing.

I go to Twinsfest though mostly to get autographs. I went Friday and Sunday and scored a combined 43 autographs. That broke my previous record of 37 set in 2011. Here is my list. All were on baseball cards except where noted. Numbers next to the player means I got multiple autographs from that player.

Corey Koskie, Trevor Plouffe, Anthony Swarzak, Andrew Albers, Trevor May (2), Joe Mauer, Ricky Nolasco, Jason Bartlett, Casey Fien (2), Phil Hughes, Brian Duensing, Kyle Gibson, Caleb Theilbar (2), Mike Pelfrey, Jared Burton, Chris Parmelee (2),Chris Herrmann (2), Joe Vavra, Kevin Corriea, Tom Brunansky (ball), Max Kepler, Eric Fryer, Austin Malinowski, Glen Perkins, Kurt Suzuki, Alex Presley, Chris Colabello (2), Samuel Deduno, Scott Erickson, Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, Jim Mudcat Grant, Darren Mastroianni, Alex Meyer, Sean Gilmartin, Kyle Knudson, and Mike Kvasnicka

I was pumped to get Joe Mauer for the first time since 2008! I was also pleased to get new Twins Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Alex Presley, and Kurt Suzuki. The lines for mega-prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano were often longer than the lines for Mauer, but top pitching prospect Alex Meyer had virtually no line.
My fellow autograph seekers told me they would have liked 5 instead of the 4 autograph stations available. Some of them were upset that the minor league player autographs are no longer free as minor leaguers are now mixed in with the regular players. I was disappointed that Oswaldo Arcia and Josmil Pinto were not in attendance.

Some of the memorabilia dealers there were not happy they were relegated to the basement were it was cold, cram, and the lighting if poor. A few of them told me they would not be back in 2015. I would not be surprised if the Twins phased out the memorabilia dealers all together. Twinsfest seems to be going in a different direction.

However, as long as the Twins continue to have their players sign autograph for a reasonable fee, I will be back for Twinsfest 2015 and beyond.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Autograph Twins Baseball Card TTM Success in 2013

With the start of 2014, it is time to review my attempt to get current and former Minnesota Twins to autograph baseball cards TTM (through the mail). I sent out to 125 players in 2013 and received signed cards 74 of them (59% success rate). Also arriving in 2013 were cards from 13 players I had sent to the previous years. The longest of those 13 was John Butcher who returned a card I sent out in 2008.

My biggest successes of 2013 were top Twins prospects Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, and Oswaldo Arica. Arica made it to the Twins later in the year and showed great promise. Buxton and Meyer are supposed to even better. I have been doing more minor league send-outs so that I can get future big name players before demand for them get so much that they stop signing.

Dave Edwards and Greg Hansell were two former Twins who had eluded me for years till I was able to get them in 2013. I decided to invest some money in private signing for Steve Bedrosian, Bill Singer, John Candelaria, Brett Boone, and Torii Hunter. I have been picking up more and more players this way. The problem is some players insist on being paid for their autographs, so there is no other way to get them. The one good thing about private signings is the cards are usually beautifully signed because the player feels obligated to make it look good as they are being paid.

I have signed cards from 486 current or former Twins players and 19 current or former Twins managers, coaches, general managers, etc. I am 197 players short of my goal of getting a signed card from every living current and former Twin. I should get 5 of them at Twinsfest in January. I have another one (Lenny Webster) coming in via a private signing, and I expect 5-10 more to come in.

Hopefully 2014 turns out well for me as 2013 did.