Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trip to All Star Fanfest

If you have ever been to an All Star Fanfest, you know what a fun time it can be.  I went to my first one in St. Louis back in 2009.  There were plenty of cool things to see like World Series trophies, Hall of Famers signing autographs for free, and many vendors with cards and memorabilia to buy.  Topps and Upper Deck also had some nice give aways if you opened a certain number of packs at their booth.  Upper Deck gave away a very nice 8x10 picture featuring Ozzie Smith, Albert Pujols, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Stan Musial that was numbered to something like 5000.  I do remember the auto lines being very long and players only signed for 1 hour.  You may have gotten to the front of the line and the player might change.  I only waited for one auto, Jack Clark.

Fast forward to this year's Fanfest in Cincinnati.  I was able to get 4 tickets online for $52 total.  I did have to spend all day on Sunday at a amusement/water park to bribe my kids into going to Fanfest on Monday.  At least the park was halfway to Cincinnati so we were able to stay at a hotel less then 30 minutes from the Duke Energy Center where Fanfest was held.  We arrived when the doors opened at 9, but waited about 30 minutes before we got in.  The crowd was not too large at that time.  We did some fun things for the kids first like making their own Topps card, take an umpire challenge, and doing the Under Armour fitness challenge.  I chose to attend on Monday because Ozzie Smith and Lou Brock were schedule to appear at various times throughout the day.  The updated schedule for the day also showed Michael Wacha would be signing autographs for free at the Draft Kings booth at 11:00.  I thought it would be a great chance to have him sign an All Star baseball, so I spent $30 for one and my son and I got in the auto line at 10:00.  We were in a little disappointment.

Mets pitcher Jacob DeGroom was the first signer at 10:30-11:30.  Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha were scheduled to sign from 11:00-12:00.  The line was about 100 people deep at 10:00 so my son and I got in line hoping to be at the front when Wacha started to sign.  I passed the time fairly quickly by talking to a collector who went to the Futures Game on Sunday and got plenty of autos.  He did mentioned he saw a handful of the same players in the hotel bar later that night who had plenty to drink.  About five minutes before DeGroom arrived, the Draft Kings staff informed the entire crowd that all players would only sing a Draft Kings post card.  No baseballs, bats, pictures.  Needless to say there were quite a few pissed off people.  Some waited over an hour in line and left.  I was also a little mad, but decided to stay in line anyway.  It should have been announced ahead of time what the players would sign, but it is hard to argue about getting a free autograph from an All Star, let alone the chance to get 3 All Stars at one time.  By the time my son and I got to the front of the line it was 11:20, so we were both able to get an auto from all the players.  

You could not take posed pictures with the players and they did not say much, but they did joke with my son about waiting in line patiently to see them.  Being a 7 year old he has his limits, but he was very good for the hour we waited.

The 4x6 cards did turn out pretty nice.  The players only had black Sharpies, but did sign in the blue one I had.  I plan on keeping both Wacha autos and trying to frame it with a picture.

DeGroom had a great All Star game, striking out 3 batters on 10 pitches.  Both of his autos are spoken for by 2 Met collectors.

I think Miller has one of the nicest autos of current players.  I am keeping one, but plan on doing a contest for the other one in the next few days.  Stay tuned.

We did not get to see Ozzie Smith.  He only did one question and answer session, but my kids wanted lunch at that time so I caved.  We did get our picture taken with Lou Brock in front of the world's largest baseball.  The only cards I bought were 3 packs of 2015 Bowman.  I opened them at the Topps Booth and got a Clayton Kershaw card.  I knew most vendors would have Reds items.  I was shocked there were not more card vendors.  I counted less than 10 booths that had singles or packs

The day had its ups and downs, but I would gladly go to another Fanfest if/when another comes close.

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