Spring Training, Day 9

Michael Martinez watches batting practice

It was the last day of the Major League spring training camp. They’re looking good and I feel like this is a season of promise. (except for the lack of Howard, but I think we have some good players to take his place)

Practice was just running through a last few drills and they were done by 12/12:30.

What was cool for me was I got Scott Posednik’s autograph. I saw him in Lehigh Valley’s play off games last fall.

Then I got to talk to Tuffy Gosewisch. I told him that I had been in Reading the night he hit his grand slam. That night was really great. Ross had his flip cam running when Tuffy came up to the plate. The jerk behind us said, “Tuffy Gosewisch? With a name like that, he’d better be good!” and that’s when Tuffy hit it hard over the wall to get the grand slam. Tuffy thought that was pretty funny. If you want to read that post and see the video you can click HERE

Then I ran into Larry Andersen. I had talked to him about three weeks ago about my blog and I joked with him yesterday as to whether he had seen it. He said that he had no internet connection so he hadn’t had a chance. We got to walk quite a ways with him and he also signed a ball for me.

While there really wasn’t much to see that was different from the day before, I did have a good day. But then ANY day in the sun watching baseball is a good day, at least in my book.

Spring Training, Day 8

Sorry for the delay in posting. I had a major iPhoto issue that required 2 calls from Apple to fix, but true to form, they got it fixed with a minimum of grief. I ❤ Apple!

Where I was today, for what I could see…they worked hard on running home from third.  The “pitcher” (a coach) would softly toss a ball to the “hitter” (another coach) and then he would hit a soft, grounder so that the player at third would have to motor home. What was so impressive, what blew my mind is that these guys are like race horses, or may be Ferraris, they go from 0 to 60 in like, 3 steps. The power and grace was just astounding.

Later, I watched Mayberry, Thome and Luna doing first base drills. I have some video of this on my tube site and you can see it HERE.

It was a good day.

I was also trying to focus on grabbing one of the three remaining autographs I need to finish my main collection. I need Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco. So, I got lucky and got a great spot on the rail near where Polanco was working out/participating. Did I get any of the ones on my list? Nope. 😦 BUT I did get lucky and get Cole Hamels’ autograph! SCORE! I may have a few of his from other years, but this could be a major year for him so I was more than happy to grab another one. What was even more amazing was that Cole stayed and must have signed over a hundred different items. He was patient and kind and made sure that everyone who wanted an autograph, got one. It was amazing. Especially since almost every other player on this side said no.

Cole Hamels signing my ball

Chase Utley signed on the other side of the complex as did Brian Schneider and JIMMY ROLLINS!!! UGH….missed again! So much of autograph hunting is being in the right place at the right time. I’m glad I still have a couple of weeks to keep trying. I’ve only been chasing Jimmy for FIVE years!There is a lot that I love about spring training. It’s not just watching the drills, which I do enjoy, but it’s also seeing the players as people and meeting fellow fans in the crowd.

There are people that have been there at least as long as I have. You get to know these people and if you’re lucky make a friend or two. It’s good to have friends when you’re autograph hunting. They can tell you where they’ve gotten a chance to meet a player, or when they may be better to ask.

This is one of my friends, Martha and I

Martha and I

We tend to stick together. We keep each other company and keep each other from getting killed in the crush.

So today’s hot and sunny day was wonderful. Good friends, good weather and baseball, what more could I want?

It’s a cold and breezy day

It’s a cold and breezy day here in Clearwater. When we got ready to leave it was 57 and there was one hack of a breeze. It was “spitting” rain as my mom used to call it and it was unbearably raw.

So we did not go up to the complex. 😦

They are reporting that Ryan Howard has swelling and fluid surrounding one of the stitches as his body is fighting this “foreign body”.

Roy Halliday pitched today and they say he is on schedule to start in the game against the Yankees.

Other than the issues with Howard, it seems like the Fightins are on course…let’s hope it stays that way.

Spring Training Day 7, Part 2

So I’m home now. As I reported earlier, I noticed that Ryan Howard was walking with a slight limp, almost tenderly. Ross had seen him walking earlier in the week and mentioned to me that he seemed to be walking fine.

So today as I watched Mansolino hit grounders to Utley, Utley would then toss the ball to Howard at first. Howard only took a few steps. I didn’t notice the limp as much then, but when Howard was walking to first, it WAS more noticeable. It was about half an hour after my previous post on this, that Matt Gelb from Philly.com posted this article:

Howard has minor setback…

So that’s right, you heard it here first! Baseball Betsy broke the news on this one! (Ok, I’m done now, but it’s my first “breaking news”)

Here’s a few pictures of Utley and Howard this morning…

Chase Utley Fielding Grounders, 2-25-12Chase Utley Fielding Grounders, 2-25-12Ryan Howard Catching a ball at First 2-25-12

Here is a link to video I took of Howard working with Utley this morning

Click HERE to see it.

I think one of the highlights this morning was the guy next to me yelling to Shane Victorino, “Hey Shane! Saw you on Hawaii 5-0! Looked good! You should get an acting agent now!”

Shane just shook his head and said, “No way!”

Shane Victorino says "No way!" to more acting

I think the weirdest thing I saw today was as Ross and I were heading home. Over on the short field in the shadow of Brighthouse, was Jim Thome taking grounders. What was strange was that he did it while sitting on a step-stool!

Jim Thome taking grounders while sitting down on the job

As I said earlier, it was a good day, picture wise and afterwards finding out that I “broke” news…but autograph wise, it wasn’t good at all.

I do enjoy going to spring training every day.  Sun and baseball, what more do I need?

Spring Training Day 7

It was a breezy morning at the Carpenter Complex. It was crowded but with all four fields in operation as well as the short field next to Brighthouse, the crowd was manageable and spread out.

I arrives to see Chase Utley and Ryan Howard talking with Doug Mansolino.

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Utley then took some grounders:

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After a bit, Utley would toss the. Over to Howard at first:

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Howard did not move to field he ball. We walked with a slight limp over to first. He did not look to be in pain.

As far as my photos (on my real camera) I got quite a few nice ones which I will post later. Autographs? Today was a wash.

Oh well, they’ll be here for a while.

Spring Training Day 6

It was a HOT day for spring training today. By the time the Fightins too the field it was EIGHTY degrees! EIGHTY, I tell you! There was a strong breeze
That kept it from being unbearable, but I don’t ever remember in my eight years of going to spring training, it being this hot. 2 years ago, it was only 41 at game time, so it’s a full FORTY degrees warmer this year.

By the time we got the field the parking lot was full. We were allowed to drive through to turn around and got
Lucky as someone was leaving.

Today they began with fielding drills then finished with batting. Here are some pictures:

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The Hunt for Hunter Pence

I’ll admit it, I’m an autograph hound. I love the “hunt” to try to collect all the autographs I need for my team.  It’s taken me years of standing in line, getting pushed backwards down the stairs by an 80 year old lady, and sunburn. Was it worth it? Yes.

I have quite a few balls…(sadly 2/3 are in storage right now until we move into the new house). I have the majority of the “bigs”, Howard, Utley, Hamels, Halladay, Blanton, Lee, Worley, Brown, SCHMIDT, SANDBERG, Victorino, Dallas Green and Ruben Amaro, among others. I’m very picky and they’re all stored in UV protectant boxes all labelled the same.

This year I have the goal of getting the “final three” that I need: Pence, Rollins and Ruiz.

I came within 2 people last year of getting Rollins. Ruiz, well he really doesn’t sign unless he knows you, so I really don’t think I’ll have much of a chance. So I’m focused on Pence and Rollins.  Rollins just recently got into town and hasn’t shown up at the field so I’m waiting for the official start to training.

Hunter Pence? The boy is as slippery as an eel (I mean that in a humorous way).

In this day an age, it’s extremely difficult to get that ONE you need. It’s always right place, right time. Gone are the day’s of “Fan Fest” where for a small fee where the money went to charity you could get to meet and and get the autographs of several players. I got Francisco, Kendrick and Schneider that way.

So when I heard Hunter was taking BP at Brighthouse, I was there.

There is a certain camaraderie with most of the autograph hounds. 90% of them are polite and will help you if they can. What I’m not sure that the players realize, we talk. If a player is mean, lies to kids or is generally just stuck up, it gets around. People will know. Likewise, if they are good guys, that gets around too.

The first day I tried for Hunter’s autograph, he came by near the end of BP. He was walking toward us, he picked up his equipment and started for the gate. Every was calling his name. He replied that he had to finish his running for the day (most players jog after practice to cool down). He promised to try to come back if he could.

The cynical man behind me mumbled. “Put off again. This is never going to work.” The gentleman beside me said, “Hey man, don’t say that. Back in Philly, Hunter said he had to do something and promised he’d come back. What ever it was, took about 45 minutes and everyone gave up and went home. So when he came back , no one had waited for him. If Hunter says he’ll come back, he will.”

So I waited. Unfortunately, before he came back they closed the field and we were shooed out by security.

The next day, Hunter finished for the day and started signing. I was standing in the same place all day. Right before Hunter got to me, this 70-something lady pushed next to me. What could I do? I was taught to respect my elders. In the end, Hunter quit signing….AT THE OLD LADY! I was so frustrated!

So yesterday, I got there when the gates opened…rushed down to my favorite spot and worked myself into a spot where I actually knew the people either side of me. They’re good people. The family to my left I’ve talked with for 2 years. We were in the center of the first row so no old lady was going to shove me out!

At the end of practice, here comes Hunter. He obviously recognized me as I’d been in about the same spot for 3 days…

He made a bee-line to me. I finally got his autograph!

Hunter Pence Autographed Ball
Hunter Pence Signing

He really was the sweetest guy. He signed quite a bit then stepped back and said, “How about signing for some more kids?” That’s what he did. He picked as many kids as he could out of the crowd and made sure he took care of them.

Now THAT’S a nice guy.

I liked the guy before, but now I really like him. He’s friendly, kind and most importantly, a real class act.

I just wish I would have “borrowed” Ross’ “Good Game, Let’s Go Eat” shirt to get signed that day. *snaps* Shucks!

No Spring Training Today for Betsy!

I was very sick last night, as sick as a Red Sox pitcher who drank too much beer and choked on a chicken bone in the clubhouse during a game, sick.

So no trip to the Complex today. 😦

I do have material for some additional posts that I will be adding later today, things I haven’t had the time to add this week. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

I am sending my faithful “servant” (my word, not his, HA!) my husband, Baseball Ross over to the field to report. So there will be at least a basic blog on that later as well.