Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cardinals Winter Warm Up Day 2

Since I started attending the Cardinals WWU in 2010, I have never attended on a Monday.  Not for sure why.  My work is slow this time of year so it is very easy to take a vacation day.  Kids are out of school for Martin Luther King day also.  I guess I never really needed to stay all three days, or did not need have a paid autograph ticket for anyone signing on Monday.  That changed this year when Matt Carpenter was scheduled to sign Monday afternoon from 1-3.  I booked a hotel room 20 minutes from St. Louis for Sunday evening so my son and I could be at WWU when the doors opened at 9 Monday morning.  There were 3 free autograph signers starting at 9 that I had cards for.  I had gotten all 3 players before, but the way I see it getting free autos helps pay for the price of admission.  We were able to get 2 tickets for all 3 of the signers without any problem.

Lawless was the first line we went through.  Even though he has signed for free at past WWUs and Caravans, he still has a decent fan base.  Hands down the most legible signature of the weekend.  Maybe he could teach the minor leaguers how to sign more than just their initials.

 After Lawless we went across the ballroom to get Cardinals hitting coach John Mabry.  He has also signed for free at previous WWUs.  These cards look much better than what they scanned. 

I was not sure we would be able to get Costello because he was only signing from 9-10, while Mabry and Lawless signed from 9-11.  We were able to get him with 20 minutes to spare.  He pitched for the Cardinals from 1988-1990 as a reliever.  He is a annual free signer also.

While waiting in the Costello line, it was announced that Matt Carpenter could not get a flight out of Texas so his signing was cancelled.  I was not too thrilled with the news because he was the only reason I booked the hotel room.  I also had this Stadium Club wall art to get signed:

I guess I will save it for next year.  At least the Cardinals refunded the price of his autograph.  Knowing this, I was lucky enough to find another Cardinals star whose auto cost the same and still had some tickets left for his signing from 9-11.  Paid signers sign 400 autographs in their 2 hour time slot.  You line up 50 people at a time according to your number.  I got #387 for this player so we had plenty of time to kill since it was only 9:45. 

After going through the 3 free autograph lines, my son was ready to go to the game room.  Standing still in the autograph lines is not one of his strong suits, so I felt he earned it.  On our way there, one of the workers handed us an autograph ticket for Michael Wacha.  He was signing from 10-12.  I am guessing he did not sell to many tickets at $50 each, so the Cardinals did not want him just sitting at the table.  We got ticket #164 out of 400.  I would guess they passed out at least 50 free tickets.  While my son was in the game room, I went to the lobby hoping to get a ticket for an 11:00 free signing.  I was able to get it and also 2 for another free signers at the same time.

So if you can make sense of all of my rambling, I now have 4 different autos to get from the present time of about 10:30 until 1:00.  My son was able to spend about 30 minutes in the game room jumping around on some inflatables, so I was hoping he would be ok with a lot more standing.  I did bring along his tablet for the trip so he had something to do while waiting. 

We had to wait about 15 minutes in the Wacha line.  I was able to find a 2015 All Star Game ball in the vendor area after we got the free ticket.  I had him inscribe 1st All Star Game.  We we able to chat with him for a couple of minutes since his line was not long.  He said he hopes to be healthy and would be happy with any role as long as the team is winning.  The Cardinals have been considering moving him to the bullpen because he has been injured in the second half of the last 2 seasons.  I can see the Cardinals trying to use him in an Andrew Miller type role.

After Wacha, we went to the line for the paid auto I just got that morning.  By this time it was a little after 11, but Adam Wainwright continued to sign until everyone was through his line.

I had brought along a couple of ROMLB just in case we ran into a player.  I had him inscribe 06,11 World Series champs.  I am a big fan of Wainwright the player and person.  He never seems to take himself too serious and also does a lot of charity work.  He was hosting a karaoke event that night to raise money for his mission trip to Haiti in January.  After signing, he went to the main stage and gave everyone a preview:

I read his event raised $40,000.  He donated half of that back to the Cardinals to make up for the first day of WWU being cancelled. 

Once out of the Wainwright line, we got the first of the 2 free signers.

This is the first year that members of the front office signed autos.  Bill Dewitt Jr is the primary owner of the Cardinals, while his son Bill III is the team president.  I had Jr. sign a 2011 World Series ball.  You may be thinking why not have a player sign this.  I did a few years ago by accident.  At a Cardinals kids day, I grabbed this ball by accident and had Fernando Salas sign the sweet spot.  Not the best decision to have a reliever sign this ball, but at least it will display better with the owner's signature now.  I was surprised to get a free ticket for Jr.  Some people were getting tickets for Dewitt III thinking he was the owner.  His tickets were gone by the time I went through the line.

Alan Benes was our next free signer.  I believe he still works for the Cardinals front office in some capacity.  He was scheduled to be on the Friday Caravan that got cancelled, so it was nice to still get him.  If I had brought more cards, I could have gotten them done.  I do not think they gave away all his free tickets.

By this time is was close to 12:30 and my son was starving.  We were able to hit up the lobby for 2 more free tickets before eating lunch.  After lunch, we waited maybe 10 minutes for the auto.

Simontacchi pitched for the Cardinals from 2002-2004.  He won 11 games in 2002 as a fill in starter, but did not have the same success after that.  He has been a minor league pitching coach for the past 3 seasons in the Cardinals system. 

We were able to get 1 more free autos before the doors were scheduled to close at 3.
Flores took over as Cardinals scouting director last year after Chris Correa was sent to prison for hacking the Astros computers.  I received this card back in December from a Secret Santa exchange on Trading Bases. 

This is the first time in 3 years I did not get Yadier Molina's auto.  He was suppose to sign on Monday afternoon from 1-3, but had flight problems.  He did show up a little after 3 and signed his 400 autographs.  I guess his airline was more reliable than Matt Carpenter's.  His auto was $150 this year.  I saw a photo of him signing someone's foot.  Not sure if there is a more crazy way to throw away $150 than that.  Monday was much more hectic than Sunday with a few ups and downs, but overall I was satisfied with the weekend.  A few observations from the 2 days:

1.  Attendance seemed down.  I am not for sure if this was weather related, or had more to do with the increase in autograph prices. 

2.  Along with Wacha, there were other players who did not sell many tickets.  Mike Leak for $30, Jhonny Peralta for $35, and Lance Lynn for $20 were each finished signing well before the 2 hour time frame.

3.  Fans are getting tired of the same free signers.  I will not complain about anything free, but it would be nice for a little variety next year even if it did cost $5 or $10.

4.  The vendor area is geared toward memorabilia now instead of cards.  I mentioned in yesterday's post about there only being a handful of dealers with cards.  I would estimate there were 10-15 memorabilia dealers selling bats, jersey, balls, and photos. 

5.  It is always fun to talk to other Cardinals fans in person.  It sure helps pass the time while waiting for autographs. 

6.  I love my wife and daughter to death, but their is something special about spending a baseball themed weekend alone with your son.  Memories for a lifetime.


  1. I'm not adding anything to the conversation, but WOW, Lawless has a nice signature!

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