Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Winter Warm Up Day 1 Recap

My wife and I have been going to the Cardinals Winter Warm Up since 2010.  Starting in 2013 we took our then 8 year old daughter and 4 year old son.  The WWU lasts 3 days, but we only go on Saturday and Sunday.  It can make for a long weekend when the kids have to wait in autograph lines, but we try to let them play in the game room as much as we can to let them burn off some energy.  The games are not that fun, but they can win some old promo items there like t-shirts or backpacks.  This year my daughter had a dance competition on Saturday, so it was just my son and I. 

We arrived in St. Louis about 8:30 Saturday morning.  Doors did not open until 9, but I had to stop at will call to get our admission passes and autograph tickets.  Our first auto ticket was for Jaime Garcia, who was signing from 9-11.  Auto tickets are called in order from 1-400.  We had 167 and 168.  Since we had some time to kill, off to the game room we went.  My son won a Cardinals draw string bag, Fredbird bobblehead, and a American Girl doll tshirt.  He was most thrilled about the tshirt because my daughter just got a new doll for Christmas and this will be a perfect birthday gift for her later this week.  From there we went up to the auto line.

I bought two tickets for Jaime Garcia for $20 each.  The first auto was for a bat I had made after the 2011 World Series.  I am trying to get the entire roster on the bat, but know that it will be a long term project thanks to Mr. Pujols being in California.

Not the best photo, but Garcia's auto is the big J followed by some scribbles and the #54.  Garcia makes the 13th auto on the bat.  I also had him sign a poster that features the Cardinals wearing their Strike out Cancer shirts.  I did not take a picture of it because it is over 3 feet long. 

I had not bought a ticket for Greg Garcia before we came, but he had a short line and the price was only $5.  The 8x10 was also $5.  My son is one of the biggest Garcia fans out there.  2 years ago we went to a couple of minor league games in Nashville.  Before each game Garcia came over to my son to give him a ball or high five.  I think he has a good shot to make the opening day roster as a reserve infielder now that Pete Kozma is gone.

Our next auto after Greg Garcia was Yadier Molina from 11-1.  Once again we had a number close to 200, so this time we checked out the vendor area.   I had brought along some ROMLB to get signed, but was hoping to find something a little more cool.  I thought I was in luck when I found a vendor who had unused 2006 World Series baseballs.  I bought 2 of them for $20 each.  I was disappointed once I opened the box and found out they were the logo balls, not the game balls.  I ended up keeping them anyway because I did not find anything else in my price range to have Molina sign.
Molina took his time signing the ball and even thanked my son and I for coming.  In years past Molina has not shown up for the WWU even though he was scheduled to, but this is the 3rd year in a row he was there.  I believe this is the only public auto signing he does.  You can tell he does not like signing game used equipment or larger items.  I saw 2 guys who had 3 foot bobbleheads for him to sign.  He did, but was not overly happy about it.  Molina's auto was a little steep at $125, but all money goes to the Cardinals Care charity and we did get 10 seconds of his time. 

Molina was the last paid auto we had for the day.  There were numerous alumni and minor league players signing for free, but you had to get a line ticket for them.  I passed on most of them because they sign almost every year.  I did get 2 freebies because they had little to no wait time.
Kerry Robinson is currently a scout for the Cardinals.  He played a handful of seasons in the early 2000s.

Dean Kiekhefer has a chance to be a left handed reliever for the Cardinals at some point this season.  He does not throw hard, but has an unusual delivery that allows him to hide the ball well.  He seems to be the typical quirky lefthanded reliever.  He was cutting jokes with everyone in line.  When he found out my son also played baseball, he asked him for his auto.  Wish all players connected with fans like this.

After the autos, we stayed around for the trivia session.  The 2 prizes being given out were a Build a Bear teddy bear, and a Fredbird bobble belly doll.  Both were stadium give aways last year.  My son was lucky enough to win a Fredbird.  We finished our day about 3:30.  My son did fairly well waiting in lines.  He did have a sticker book and his tablet to pass the time, but for the most part he soaked things in.  We spent our evening in the hotel eating Steak and Shake and watching the Incredibles.  Not a bad first day.


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