Being a Florida native, having some of the best baseball teams right around the corner in spring training is a huge privilege. The Blue Jays in Dunedin and The Phillies in Clearwater are the two main places my fellow autograph seekers and I seek to attend.
My friend Curt and I made a trip to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, to watch the Blue Jays and Orioles play. The Blue Jays spring training complex is incredible for autographs, as there are low railings, and an extremely nice staff that encourages the fans to talk with the players. I was very fortunate to get Adam Jones on a baseball, early, and R.A. Dickey, later in the afternoon.
In a small community such as Dunedin, most of the fans at the game come to every home spring training game, and expect to see each other there. They know every players tendencies, if they sign or not, and where they sign (if they do.) The fans are so nice and loyal to the players, and it is very disappointing that some of the players don’t even know how loyal their fans are. They fans talk to each other about all of the players that are easy to get a signature from, but they also will add in about players such as Jose Bautista, who they say, “will not sign.” But, players like Jose Reyes or Kawasaki sign, “every day,” according to the fans. If players only knew how much the fans want to have them sign, and how much it means to them.
This afternoon, I went to the incredible Bright House Field, in Clearwater, Florida. The Field is breathtaking, along with the staff and management. Doug Kemp and John Timberlake, of The Phillies front office, were so nice to give us great tickets to the game. The seats were incredible. I got to be up close to all of the players and talk to them, as well. Cole Hamels and Mike Adams signed very long for all of the fans, as well as Jimmy Rollins. Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere signed briefly, but were very nice about it. Besides Cliff Lee, every player asked to sign by fans around me gladly signed, and talked to the players. Jimmy Rollins was very verbal, and was gladly talking to all of the fans around him about the upcoming season, and a man’s daughter, who threw out the first pitch.
In conclusion, being polite and having your pen and ball out, will almost always assure a good day of autographs at the ballpark.