Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cardinals Winter Warm Up Day 1

After the disappointing news that the Cardinals cancelled their Caravan stops on Friday and Saturday and day 1 of the Winter Warm Up (WWU), my son and I had our hopes up that Sunday and Monday would still happen.  The Cardinals sent an email out late Saturday afternoon confirming both days will go as planned.  I almost left right away because there was another round of freezing rain moving through the area early Sunday morning, but decided to take my chances with leaving on Sunday morning.  Doors opened at 9, but we did not have to be there until 2:00 for our first paid autograph signing so I left at 8:00 in the morning.  The trip took the usual 2 hours 15 minutes as we only rain into some light rain. 

We picked up our autograph tickets from will call upon arrival, then had to buy an admission pass for my son.  Adult passes were $40, children under 15 are $10.  I bought my pass off EBAY for $28, but did not have any luck finding a cheaper child's pass.  Our first stop was the kid's game room.  I let my son play some games for about 45 minutes where he won some decent prizes including 2 tshirts, a Matt Carpenter kids jersey, a Fredbird metal lunchbox, and a green Cardinals hat.  From there it was off to the vendor's area.  I was very disappointed with the lack of cards this year.  One vendor had boxes and supplies, and maybe 4 or 5 had single cards that were not sorted very well or extremely overpriced.  I have a hard time paying $1 for 2016 Topps base cards.  I did purchase one baseball that I will show in a bit and a few things for Brady, but otherwise did not see anything that jumped out at me.  A lot of vendors were very upset about not being able to open on Saturday afternoon for all the people staying at the hotel who wanted to shop.  Saturday is usually the busiest day of the three at WWU, so I am sure they lost quite a few sales.

Our next stop was the free autograph line.  Tickets for players signing for free were handed out 1 hour before the signing time in the hotel lobby.  It is a strict 1 ticket per person, but you could go back through the line.  My son and I each got one ticket.

Horton was scheduled to be at the Caravan we were going to on Friday, so I had these 2 cards already to go.  He has been a free signer for the last 5 plus years.  I do prefer him as the announcer for Cardinals games on Fox Sports Midwest over Al Hrabosky.  He also does road games on the radio because Mike Shannon does not travel anymore. 

After going through Horton's line, we grabbed some lunch and headed back to the lobby for another free auto ticket.  Again we score 1 ticket each.

McClellan was a serviceable reliever from 2008-2010 for the Cardinals.  He became a starter in 2011 due to injuries to other pitchers.  Early in the season he was very good and would go on to win 12 games that year, but he wore down in the second half and was left off the postseason roster.  He would pitch parts of 2012 and 2013, but was never the same because of the strain of becoming a starter.  He remains very active in charity work in the St. Louis area.  He was our last auto of the day.

Before we got McClellan, we had 2 paid autographs to get.  Topps ran a 50% off Black Friday sale for some of their 2016 10"x14"wall art.  Knowing I would be attending the WWU, I bought my 2 favorite pictures from 2016 Stadium Club with the intent to have them signed.  I will give Topps credit for shipping them very securely.
I was too lazy to remove the Piscotty from the cardboard backing, but it is numbered 51/99 in the bottome left corner.  So close to his uniform number, but still a nice piece regardless.  I felt a little disappointed after the signing because I forgot to have him use my own blue sharpie.  Sharpies and pens are provided, but since this was a signing starting at 2:00 the sharpie was well used and streaked some.  I may still have this framed later.

Our other paid signing was also at 2:00, but we had a higher number in line so we sat in on Cardinals trivia during the wait.  I won a Cardinals hat by knowing the only Cardinals pitcher to throw 2 no hittters  (Bob Forsch).  I thought is was a regular red Cardinals hat, but it does have the fold down winter flap to cover your ears.  I see older people wearing these, so it may sit on my shelf for a few years.  A little after 3:30 we got our other paid autograph for the day. 

For some reason my camera hates baseballs.  I bought this 2016 All Star baseball in the vendor area earlier in the day.  Aledmys Diaz was named to the team as an injury replacement for Matt Carpenter.  He inscribed it First All Star Game.  I talked to quite a few people who said Diaz was around town on Saturday at the Arch, Ballpark Village, and the hotel lobby signing for fans.  In past years some players would avoid fans, but all reports said Diaz was very gracious with his time.  It will be interesting to see how he performs in 2017.  I am not sure he is a .300 hitter who will hit 20 home runs, but I would be happy with .280, 15 home runs, and better defense.

That was a wrap for day one.  There were 3 other free signers that day.  Triple A manager and former player Stubby Clapp signed before we arrived, while the tickets for 1967 pitcher Larry Jaster were gone before we made it through the line.  Todd Worrell also signed, but we were waiting for Piscotty when his tickets were handed out.  I was satisfied for the day's work knowing Monday was going to be a longer day.  More on that in the next post.


  1. Glad you all made it safe and sound-having driven to that way I know it can be rough. Bummer some of the players avoid the people-disappointing really.

    1. I think the Cardinals may tell the players to limit the free signings. I did hear other players like Piscotty and Wong signing quite a bit.