Friday, July 24, 2015

Rangers vs. Padres and Rangers Alumni, July 10-12; and some TTMs

Two weeks later, I finally write this. Geesh.

So, Alumni Weekend. Yeah. It ain't what it used to be.

I went to my first Rangers Alumni Weekend back in 2011 when I still lived in Wichita Falls. Back then, these events were awesome. All the signers were on Saturday only, and it was set up for easy access to everyone.  All the tables were on the concourse on the third base side. As soon as you passed through one line, you could easily jump into another. And there were usually a good 20-30 players.

Now they spread everyone out: five tables each with one to four signers. One on the first base side, one at home plate, one at third base, one in left field, and one in center field.  Plus they didn't announce the list of signers until right about when the doors were opening. So this meant I had to prepare for everyone who might be there and hope no one else shows.

Even phone calls from three different people on Twitter netted inconsistent information. I tried emailing and never heard anything back. I asked John Blake via Twitter on Wednesday if there would be a list at any time. He told me a full one would be out Thursday. Thursday and almost all day Friday came and went with nothing. It was posted to Facebook and Twitter at 5:00 on Friday. Yet another inexcusable, poorly executed Rangers event. This has become the norm.

I started out just running a quick loop of the Ballpark to figure out who was at what table. Oh yeah-- they didn't tell you who was at each table until you got up to it. At least last year they had a list of who was where right at each gate. No such luck this time around.

I decided to jump in line at the first base table first, where Mark Brandenburg signed the only card I had of him and Don Stanhouse signed five. From there, it was off to home plate where Ken Suarez signed 3 (I need to get his 1966 Topps RC next), as did Dave Chalk, and I got a promo photo from Ken Pape.  I just continued on with the loop, heading for third base where it was Rick Henninger (promo photo), Mike Bacsik Sr. (2 cards and a promo photo), and a surprise in Donald Harris who signed 4 cards.  Harris was originally on the schedule for Saturday. Out in left field, Gerald Alexander signed 3 cards, Jeff Kunkel signed three, Mike Munoz signed five.  Last was center field, where Charlie Hough signed six and Claude Osteen three.

After hitting up the tables I headed for the press box where former Padres pitcher and current announcer Mark Grant signed the three cards I had of him.

So with Hough being in CF, we figured on Saturday that Ruben Sierra would be there.  But first, we hit the tunnel.

The tunnel wasn't huge in quantity, but the quality was good. I got Delino DeShields Jr. on two cards via a 50/50 with Matt who had a ton on him.  And finally I got Josh Hamilton for the first time ever, as he signed four cards for me.

We were right on Sierra being in CF as the group of us (Chris, Matt, Arron, his mom, and I) sprinted there immediately upon entering. And then he showed up late. Fortunately I got my ticket and hunted through the other lines, stopping to get the guys in left field first. Mark McLemore was a strict one-per so I hit him with the 1985 Midland Angels card which got quite a reaction from him and the rest of the guys at the table. Jeff Frye signed 5 and David Hulse two.  After we heard Sierra arrived, we jumped back to our spot in line that Arron and his mom held for us. He was a one-per, so I got him on a 1990 Donruss Diamond Kings. I seem to go for those first if I don't have a specific set need on a guy. From there it was off to first base where Cecil Espy signed my last two cards of him, Jeff Russell signed six, and Jim Sundberg signed 6.  At home plate were Larry Hardy (2 cards), Jose Guzman (six), and Curtis Wilkerson (four).  Third base was our final line... and they cut it off because we were late thanks to Sierra's tardy arrival. So I missed out on Tim Crabtree and Darren Oliver; however someone who passed through the line just as we were cut off did give Arron and me the promo photos of them. I took the Oliver while he took the Crabtree. Rudy Jaramillo was a no-show.

From there we headed up to the press box again, where Grant signed my last 6 cards of him, the legendary Dick Enberg signed one (personalized; I'm cool with that), and Carlos Hernandez signed six.

As with every other Alumni Weekend, we spent the majority of the game roaming the concourse.  It paid off: Charlie Hough signed six more for me, Rusty Greer six, Toby Harrah one (he was in a hurry so he said just one for everyone-- I got him on a 1983 Fleer card with Andre Thornton, which is going in the mail for Thornton's sig today), Bobby Witt three, Ken Hill two (one going to Mark in Chicago), and Keith Creel one.

Sunday was finally a day of rest... sort of. The Padres didn't do and BP and the pitchers didnt even come out to throw so it was all quiet on the third base side.  At the tunnel before everything I did get Wandy Rodriguez on three cards and Matt Harrison on my photo. The only Padre we got inside was Will Middlebrooks who was a two-per for everyone and their cousin, even signing and posing for photos with the kids doing the pregame parade. He even took a Little League team from Texarkana from the parade back into the Padres clubhouse (the parade was a bunch of youth teams, and Middlebrooks is from near Texarkana). With one final pressbox trip, Bob Scanlan signed seven cards for me to cap off the weekend.

TOTALS: 133 autographs from 38 players (130 from 38 for me, 2 from 1 for Matt, 1 from 1 for Mark in Chicago)

Also, some TTMs...
July 6: Tony LaRussa, c/o D-Backs, 1/1, 2 weeks (1972 Topps set card)
July 9: Tony Oliva, c/o Twins ST, 1/1, 4.5 months
July 13: Greg Harris (former Rangers and Red Sox ambidextrous pitcher), c/o home. 4/4, 4 months
July 15: Turk Wendell, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks
July 16: Al Downing. c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks
July 20: Mike York, c/o home, 4/4, 5 weeks

Today I mailed out Joe Carter, Andre Thornton, Wade Boggs, Mick Vukota, Garry Howatt, and Bobby Hull. Carter and Boggs are my first paid ones, and Thornton will be my first attempt at getting a double signed.

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