Sunday, February 14, 2010

"We meet again" - Jon Garland

On Saturday, I drove down to San Diego for the Padres Fan Fest. Yes, you read that correctly. It says "Padres", not "Dodgers". Why, you may ask? Because, yes, I drove an hour and forty-five minutes to San Diego to attend a Padres Fan Fest. You may be having the same reaction my cousin did when I asked if she would go with me. She said, "But you're a Dodger fan! You bleed Dodger blue." I said, yeah, I do. But I also like the Friars (among several other teams) and at the time, there were several players listed on the website that I would like to get their autographs. And yes, most of them were former Dodgers. So, in a way, I wasn't going to get an autograph from a Padre... I was going to get one from a former Dodger. Anyway, I sent my photos to Costco to print and then checked the list again. The list had been shortened and two of the three names I wanted were gone. Oh well. I was still going anyway. We planned the entire day: Petco Park, Balbao Park, Extraordinary Desserts, and Pedro's Tacos.

Kevin, Jenny, and I left Jenny's place around eight. We got to Petco about a quarter till ten. It was free parking, so we parked in one of the lots on Imperial. Then we headed towards the end of the giant line that had formed. Season ticket holders got to go in at nine. The general public were let in at ten. By the time we found the end of the line, we were almost to the bridge that connects Petco Park and the Omni Hotel (which is the hotel the visiting teams stay at). When the gates opened, the line started to move. On our way towards the gate, I saw Eric, a friend I had just met two weeks ago. I wasn't surprised to see several people I knew. Jenny was concerned about our safety, since I'm a "die-hard" Dodger fan (her words). I told her we would be fine and there would be plenty of other Dodger fans there too. I didn't have my camera ready, but as we were moving towards the gate, we had to stop to let Adrian Gonzalez pull in. That would've been a neat picture.

The way the Padres did the autograph sessions were, they had two players per session in four different sections. Each session was an hour. For example, Jon Garland and Aaron Poreda were signing at Section 110 from 12 - 1. That was the session I wanted. When we entered Petco, there were four signs posted above the stairs leading up to Petco Park from the gates. Each sign showed the section, time, and name of the players signing. You were allowed one session per section. If you wanted to get another voucher, you had to get in line again. When we got there, Adrian Gonzalez's vouchers were all gone and there were only a handful of Chris Young vouchers left. Both were signing in Garland's sections before he was. So, we waited for Garland's. Meanwhile, Eric had an extra voucher for Rollie Fingers/Kurt Bevacqua that he gave me. So, I was able to go home with more than two autographs. Yes, it was a long way to drive just for Jon Garland. I was also hoping to snag a few more Padre players, but I didn't want to get in line to get more vouchers. Garland was paired up with Aaron Poreda (who also happens to be a former White Sox - he got traded to the Padres in the Jake Peavy deal. While I went to go get my autographs, Kevin and Jenny checked out the other things at the Fan Fest, including the Garage Sale.

When I got to my section, I saw a few more familiar faces. I showed the usher my voucher and he seated me with the other people waiting for our session. There was a Q & A session (the Broadcast Forum) going on with Dick Enberg, Mark Grant, and Mark Neely. One of them was asked something (it was hard to hear) and they mentioned Vin Scully. I forgot what was said, but it was something along the lines of Vin Scully is the best there is out there. Next up was the Kings of the Hill : Chris Young, Clayton Richard (he came with Poreda in the Peavy trade), and Jon Garland. Jon got there early and I noticed him sitting there … and he started signing things. A short line had formed and people were getting autographs from Richard, Garland, and another guy (don't remember who). I looked at my line which had just started moving. I looked at Jon. Was there enough time for me to run down to the dugout and get Jon's autograph and get back in time for Rollie Fingers. I took the chance. I ran down to the dugout and got in line. There were about three others ahead of me.The little kid in front of me either already got Jon Garland on his baseball or he didn't want him. It looked like the latter cause it looked like Jon was waiting for the kid to give him the ball, but the kid didn't.

When it was my turn, I held up a 8x10 photo of Jon and asked him if he could please sign it. I handed it up to him. He asked me, "did you take this here?" I told him, no, I took it in LA during the playoffs. I was right by the dug out when he was coming out. He looked like he liked the photo. I may see if he'd like a copy the next time I see him. Then I told him I had another photo I'd love for him to sign if he didn't mind. He said sure. He turned the envelope around to see it, but it wasn't there. I wasn't expecting him to sign more than one thing.

I told him it was in the envelope still. I took the envelope and pulled out the other picture. He looked at it and you could see he was trying to figure out where was the photo from. I wish I had taken a photo. It was quite cute how confused he seemed. I explained to him that it was at the Skateland event with Orlando Hudson. He said, "Yeah, I was trying to figure out where this was." He mentioned something about how he had his beard going. I told him it looked good. And yes, he was wearing his glasses today and boy does he look in his glasses.

After I got Jon's autographs, I ran back to my line for Rollie/Kurt. I got Jon just in time. They were about to start the Q&A. I wanted to stick around but I needed to get back. I think the usher thought I was cutting in line, because he took my voucher but no one else's. Everyone else got their voucher taken when they approached the table. I didn't have any trouble, but still... Meanwhile, I could hear bits and pieces of the Q&A going on. I heard Randy Wolf's name pop up. But I couldn't hear the question or the answer.

I didn't bring anything generic except for the Opening Day cap I got at last year's Padres/Dodgers game (yes, it was on Opening Day). I kept the cap for autograph opportunities like this. Kurt was first and he was very nice and conversational with the people in front of me. Since I didn't have a clue who he was, I didn't know what to say other than please and thank you. He signed the cap in blue to the left of the Padres' logo. Rollie signed on the other side in black. After that, I met up with Jenny and Kevin. Jenny and I saw the mascot for the Padres minor league team. He looks like he could be the Phillies' Phanatic's little brother. We took photos with it, of course. Kevin bought a SD baseball cap to get signed. Guess he's going to collect signed baseball caps. He already has a Dodgers one with several autographs. Jenny didn't have anything yet. I was going to have her get a baseball card signed for me by Jon. I told them about how I got Jon to sign my photographs already. That meant I could get him in my scrapbook. Jenny wanted to get something signed for her friend Phanny. We were supposed to bring her with us, but I had the dates wrong and it didn't work out. Jenny still wanted to get an autograph for her. While we were waiting for our session to start, Jenny went back to the Garage Sale and picked up two of the baseballs they were selling. I was going to have Aaron Poreda sign the ball. Jenny was going to get both of them on the ball.

They had us sitting on one side while the line for Adrian Gonzalez was going through. Once they were done, they moved us over. We would've been in the first row, but there were only two seats and there were three of us. Had we been in those seats, we would've been right behind Jon when he showed up. I had a feeling Jon would see me and go, "you again?" or something like that. When we lined up, the usher saw my scrapbook and asked me about it. He was quite impressed. Someone ahead of us was getting a baseball signed ... in a blue sharpie. I cringed when I saw that. The person in front of me agreed. Rookie mistake. I told Jenny when she asked Aaron to sign her ball, to ask for it in the pen. When we asked Aaron to use a pen instead, the Padre employee said we were real fans who knew what we were doing or something like that. When Aaron signed both our baseballs, he did it in a funny spot. Not the sweet spot. On mine, he signed right by the logo. On Jenny's, he signed on the blank side.

I pulled out my scrapbook for Jon to sign and the employee sitting next to him was impressed too. She was like, "wow, what's that?" I said "hi jon" and put the book down. He said, "we meet again." I knew it! After all, it hadn't been more than 45 minutes since I asked him to sign the photos. Yes, I know. I got a lot of stuff signed by him. What can I say? I have a soft spot for guys in glasses. He picked up the black sharpie and I asked him if he could please use the blue, it comes out better on the photo. I thanked him and told him, "see you at Dodger Stadium". I wish I could've asked for a photo with him. I like the other one, but it's so dark! Maybe when he's in L.A.

After that, we took a tour of the clubhouse. It was really cool to see the training room, the physical therapy room, the clubhouse, where the players ate and stuff. After that, we walked around the field. We stopped in the visiting teams' dugout and took some photos. I heard on the radio that the grounds crew equipment would be out. I totally wanted a picture of me on the big green John Deere tractor! After we walked around the field and took several photos, we headed back to the car. We passed the cutest sight. There were these two little kids rubbing their hands in the warning track dirt and then putting their hand prints on the padded outfield walls!

Here are some photos to leave ya'll with. I'll try to post the rest on my Flickr within the next few days. If you're friends with me on Facebook, they're already up.

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