Monday, July 1, 2013

Hounding Report: Celebrity Baseball, Rangers, and Reds, June 29-30

Most of my hounding reports so far have been about baseball.  Actually all of them have except for the Paul Gillis success back in March.  This past weekend, I finally got to vary it up a bit with the Reebok Heroes Dirk Nowitzki Celebrity Baseball Game over in Frisco.

Arron and his mom came to town Friday night for the Reds-Rangers game.  He said it was ridiculous, that there were a good 200 people there hounding.  For the Reds.  They're not THAT good.  Why in the hell are there that many people going for a team that hasn't meant anything since 1990?  On the plus side, he said he got Phillips and Votto, so it was a decent showing for the insanity.

Saturday, it was off to Plano first to hit up Triple Cards.  It was the first time Arron had been out there and he agreed with my high recommendation of it.  After a quick lunch at In-N-Out (sidebar: I've been here 3 months and hadn't had In-N-Out since moving here), it was over to the ballpark in Frisco to see what we could get.

The Frisco game attracts every collector and their cousin.  Unfortunately, that means it also attracts every dealer, their friends, their family members, and anyone they can convince to come with them to load up.  I both love and hate this event every year.  Last year was largely a bust until the late parts when I got Mike Modano and Terrell Owens to go with the Charles Barkley from earlier in the day.

This year, there was no Modano or Barkley.  The lineup seemed a little lighter in star power, but what it lacked in that department, it made up for in willing signers.  We tried the first base line to start, but had no luck as all the players headed to the other side for the pregame press conference.  After a quick dash to the first-base side, I was able to get Drew Pearson on one of my two cards.  Going up there to the press conference is usually a giant Charlie Foxtrot (to quote a Facebook post from Paul Buxton, I believe), but at least I was able to get former Cleveland Indian David Justice on my Topps All-Time Fan Favorites card, so that's another one to knock off the list.  Aside from him, everyone was nearly impossible to get, so I went back down by the field.  I tried to get Justice again since I had another 8 cards with me, but he skipped me three times before I gave up.  I also got skipped five times by Goose Gossage.  So things weren't looking good on the baseball front.

On the plus side, I did well on basketball.  After Justice and before Gossage, Eduardo Najera signed four cards, even pointing out that on one of them, it depicts a game-winning shot to put the Nuggets into the playoffs. After getting skipped by Gossage a few times, I was able to get Chandler Parsons on the two cards I had of him.  J.J. Barea came by as well, signing all three cards I had for him.  Unfortunately it was in black Sharpie instead of my blue, as he just grabbed a pen and went straight down the line.  It looks alright though.

Devin Harris came by a little before the game started, signing one of the four I had.  Fortunately he signed the really awesome 2012-13 Donruss Elite card I had on me, and it looks great with his sig added.  A dash across to the third base side again netted me a Vince Carter, as he also signed one of the two cards I had.  I was hoping to get Michael Finley and Brian Cardinal, but Dirk was right there as well, and he was getting mobbed by crowds that were a good 10-12 people deep.  I gave up and went over to my seats to watch the game.

Remembering that the players often leave the field in left field, Arrons and I headed for that side in the ninth inning.  It's a good thing we did too: a lot of other people had the same idea.  We grabbed seats right on the aisle and as soon as the last out was made, every person sitting there all jumped up and headed for the front.  I got in the second row of people standing at least, and as Dirk came that way, here came the shoves.  I had a guy leaning over my back the whole time.  I boxed him out a bit though for being such an ass and gave him a couple elbows to the solar plexus.  Best of all, Dirk signed one of my cards and didn't go near his hat.  Dirk did a Barea and just grabbed one pen and went down the line, and unfortunately it was a streaky black Sharpie, but whatever.  I finally got him.

We gave up after that.  Arron got him too, the crowd was getting (or had gotten) ridiculous, and the fireworks show wasn't all that great. From there, we went outside to the players' exit, and there were already 30 people there, then becoming 100 or more including people across the street.  I figured there was no way I'd get anyone.  Most of the players I had already gotten didn't stop at all, and once everyone was told Dirk had gone out a different way, it was down to maybe 10 of us, and I got right up to the front.  Former Cleveland Indian Mike Bacsik came out and Arron and I were the only ones to recognize him.  I called out and he came over and signed.  As he was signing an Akron Aeros card, I mentioned I used to go to Akron a lot, living only about 70 miles north.  He said it was one of his favorite cities to have played in.

Justice came out and didn't sign, just gave a wave.  Gossage followed and I figured it was my last chance.  I called out, and FINALLY, the 2008 HOF inductee came over and signed one of my cards.  He signed a couple others, stopped for a picture, and took off.  Last was Ben Grieve, who plays in the game every year.  I had a ton of cards of him, so I threw 8 in my notebook.  He signed the first four, looked around, then signed the rest saying "I figured I'd see how many others were here before signing the rest of them."  Fortunately they were all different cards at least, and even if he had stopped at 4, I would have been more than fine with it.

So overall, I ended up with 27 sigs from 11 players.  Definitely my best year yet in terms of quantity.

Sunday, it was off to the Ballpark for the Reds and Rangers.  Due to being dead tired, we got off to a late start and apparently missed out on Ron Washington-- that's fine, he's probably tired of seeing me anyway.  It ended up a typical Sunday at the tunnel, without many stopping.  We did get Dave Magadan, who signed three for me.  One will be going to Corey Mansfield for his Mets collection.  Neal Cotts stopped again as well, signing the two cards I had-- one for Andrew in New Jersey.  David Murphy stopped as well-- a little odd, as he stopped on Saturday too, according to TAC.  He did his usual one-per, this one being another for Andrew, so I've gotten two of his three so far.

Once in a while at the tunnel you get lucky and opposing players come in.  Former UT pitcher Sam LeCure was one of them, signing the lone card I had of him.  Additionally Dusty Baker drove in and signed for us.  He didn't seem too happy about it though: when the first one went over there, he said "Oh come on man, I'm on my way to work."  As maybe three or four of us came over, he said "See? Now everyone wants one."  But he did it at least.  I just put out one for him instead of the book of three.  Dusty, like a lot of retired players, has a great sig.  Also, he signs by mail so if you have cards of him, send them.  You won't regret it.

Inside we went for the Reds' side but it was a bust: the crowd was STILL big and only a few pitchers were out there tossing, and none were ones I had cards for.  We decided it wasn't worth it, but thought about hitting up the press box.  It's semi-accessible from the 200-level and the Reds have four former players who now call games: Chris Welsh, Jeff Brantley, Kent Mercker, and Sean Casey.  Brantley was the big one for me: I needed him for the Topps ATFF set.  So Arron, Chris, and I ventured up there and waited and hoped.  Steve Busby, former Royals pitcher and current Ranger broadcaster was up there, and he signed the three cards I had of him.

Note on Busby: he is not the player shown on his 1975 Topps card.  He will sign it, but he also writes "NOTE: This is not Steve Busby" on it.  I want to get one now.

Eventually, we saw Welsh.  He was getting his notes together and Chris got his attention, pointing to a 1986 Topps card of him with a thumbs-up.  Welsh laughed and got an assistant to open the window for him so we could pass our items up for him to sign and chat a bit.  He's a former Ranger along with pitching for the Reds.  After waiting a bit, we asked him where Brantley would be and he said two booths down.  Eventually he showed up but we couldn't get his attention.  Welsh even went to point us out to him, but no luck.  We tried postgame as well, but he was on the air all the way until they gave us the boot from the section.  Oh well, at least now I know how to get a few more guys if I want to give up on the field and just try them out.  I know Steve Sparks will be in with the Astros very soon.

Totals: 12 from 7 players; one for Corey, two for Andrew.

Next up: Tuesday with Seattle.  They were great their previous trip.  Here's to hoping for similar results this week.  Got Houston over the weekend.  Don't think I'm going to do the Mariners on July 4th.  It's bound to be packed and my brother in law invited me over for brisket and maybe a movie.  A day off like that sounds great to me.

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