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Monday, January 30, 2017

Orioles Fan Fest 2017 Recap

Another Orioles Fan Fest is in the books and this year, the haul was much smaller than in years past.  I switched from getting mainly balls signed to cards and since they take up less space, the haul looks significantly different.  Additionally, there wasn't a whole lot that called out to me in the game used room that I just HAD TO HAVE, so that kept my haul smaller as well.
I went to Fan Fest with my son, Chris, along with my good friend and fellow blogger, Ryan (O No Another Orioles Blog) and Ryan's friends Scott and Austin.  I got a call from my buddy, Michael during one of the autograph sessions when he told me that he had picked up a Nolan Reimold St. Patrick's Day autographed game used hat.  Michael was kind enough to sell it to me at cost, and I picked it up from him later in the day.  This is my first game used hat, and I'm on the fence as to how I want to display it.  I may opt to spend the money and get it shadow boxed, but I'm not certain yet.
There was a game used Nolan Reimold bat at the Orioles Authentics booth, but I didn't want to spend the money on it, especially since Michael had sent me one for my birthday.  The salesman heard me telling Ryan that I was interested, so he tried to make a deal with me.  Unsold, I decided to play up to him and see if he would lower the price on this game used jersey.  He named a price and I instantly jumped on it.  I have a Nolan batting practice jersey, and now I have this one.  I want to get this shadow boxed, so I have already put a call in to my buddy, Ross, to see what pricing would be for that.
 I did opt to get two baseballs signed.  When autograph vouchers went on sale, I had my mom enlisted to help me get vouchers since the ticket brokers and bots like to ruin the process for everyone and buy everything up within seconds.  The ticket buying experience was far more difficult this year than in years past, so when Mom went to get a voucher for Hyun Soo Kim, she accidentally got Zach Britton instead.  Not to worry, I needed to upgrade my Britton ball that I got years ago, so I got this 2016 All Star ball instead.  It turned out great, I think.
 I got another 2016 All Star ball signed by Brad Brach.  I figured it would be great to get him on a ball since relievers have a hard time getting selected for the game, unless they are closers.  This ball turned out great, as well.
This was the biggest piece (in gravity and actual size) that I wanted to get signed.  This is my lineup card from the Oct 4, 2015 game against the Yankees in which Chris Davis hit two home runs and Chris, Michael and I were caught celebrating on MASN.  I had two vouchers for Davis, so I had Chris help me by getting the photo signed.  The photo didn't turn out as great as I would have hoped, but oh well.  You can see the signature if you look really closely at the bottom.

Here is where I will briefly express my disappointment with this year's Fan Fest.  The handlers at the event were awful, for the most part.  I understand the policy on one autograph per voucher, but in all of the past Fan Fests that I have gone to, they at least would let you take home a signed post card in addition to your item.  Additionally, most players would add inscriptions to your item with no problems.  The handler for Davis was especially rude in that she wouldn't let Davis inscribe "hit 2 homers" to my lineup card and she wouldn't let Chris take a post card.  Topping it all off, after the session was over, Austin, who is 7 or 8 waited outside of the table area and asked Davis if he would sign his playoff baseball for him.  The lady refused to let Davis sign the ball, and caused Austin to cry in the process.  I get that these guys are busy and are scheduled to do other things at the event, but this was after the last session, and she could have kept her mouth shut and let Davis sign the ball.  My issue isn't with Davis at all.  I heard from a friend who has a relationship with a couple players who told me that many of the players were frustrated with the handlers this year.  My hope is that this can be fixed so that folks can enjoy the experience a little more.  I understand that there is a "one per" policy, but I am seeing other folks at other Fan Fests (Cubs Convention comes to mind) where folks have been able to "rack."  Ryan and I summed it up by saying that we have Davis with the O's another 6 years, so whatever we want signed, we have a good shot to pick it up later.
With my foray into signed baseball cards, I am now looking to get some stuff signed that I feel like would look great in m album.  One such card that kept calling out to me was this 2011 Topps Lineage Black Diamond Ubaldo Jimenez.  I'm not an Ubaldo fan at all, but I paid the $20 for his session just so I could add this card to my album.  I already had a voucher for this time period, so I had to enlist my little buddy, Brian, to go through this line for me.  His payment?  He was able to meet Jim Palmer and get his autograph.  Fair trade off, I think.
One problem I had was that I ran out of cards of some guys that I wanted to get signed, or I couldn't find them in time.  No fear, though, I grabbed a bunch of generic Orioles cards, like these 2009 Upper Deck Orioles cards.  I think other folks should take notice in that there are a bunch of ways that you can retain an auto, and sometimes cards like this work out great.  The top one is Christian Walker (I have plenty of his cards, but for whatever reason, I couldn't find the box his were in during the week that I was compiling everything I was going to send.  The bottom card is Joe Gunkel.  I was expecting a card in the mail from my good friend, Dugan, but for whatever reason, it still hasn't arrived.  I got this Upper Deck signed for him as well, which I hope he will enjoy.

The way the handlers were herding us in and out of the autograph sessions really hurt my ability to whip my phone out and take pictures.  The only one that took decently was this one of Chris getting Mike Bordick in the Kids Line.  Bordick was also the only player who would sign whatever was put in front of him.
Chris had three Bordick cards in his hand and asked Mike to sign the 1994 Topps Finest, but Bordick signed all of the cards.  This was great, because I didn't have many 1999 Topps,  but couldn't pass up the Finest.  Chris did a great job helping Ryan and I get cards signed.  He has gotten to where he understands the process and doesn't mind getting things signed for us old folks.  He told me this morning to hold onto all of the signed stuff that he got because he knew I would add them to my albums and take care of them.  He's a sweet kid, and very thoughtful.
I had a session with Christian Walker, and had already set aside two cards for that session.  I forgot that I already had the 2015 Topps that my buddy Dilan got for me at a Norfolk game.  Had I known that, I would have looked a little harder for my box.
I met up with a fellow Instagrammer at Fan Fest, a guy names Andy that I just completed my first deal with.  He was actually beside me in the merchandise room first thing in the morning, then we kept bumping into him during the day.  Finally, Michael needed someone to catch the Davis session for him, as he was committed to the Trumbo session, but didn't want to waste his pass.  I was able to broker a deal where Andy went through the line, got to meet Davis, and he would get Michael's item signed.  Win-win for all parties involved, I think.  Andy was able to get a card signed as well; I believe the handler wasn't paying attention at that time.  Andy got the 1996 Donruss signed and gave it to me afterward.  Chris got the Rookie Class, and I got the 1997 Topps.  I only had two other 1997 Topps, so adding this was a good addition to the album.
I had a choice to use my last remaining OMLB from the National to get Kevin Gausman, but I opted to keep it for a future TTM and get Kevin on a couple nice cards.  I wanted to add another 2016 Topps and saw this 2013 Finest orange parallel that I couldn't pass up.  I pre-treated this and all of the other Finest cards that I brought with baby powder.  It really worked, as is evident by Kevin's signature.

I had doubled up on signing times, with the Zach Britton session the same time as Gausman, so Ryan and Chris used those vouchers for me while I got Britton on my ball.
Brad Brach and Mike Wright were also signing during the Gausman session, so Ryan and Chris got these cards signed.  Ryan was kind enough to donate these 2011 Bowman Draft cards and get the done for me.  I had the 2012 Topps gold Brach in my rookie box that I had pulled out for a later TTM, but now, I don;t have to sent it out.
I believe Chris went through the kids line 4 times this year, and I was happy that I worked hard to find cards of guys I thought would be there.  I did really well, I think.  He was able to get this 1991 Topps by Scott Coolbaugh; this 2001 Topps Opening Day Orioles Logo by John Parrish and this 1988 Topps Traded by Joe Orsulak.
Last, but not least, here is the 2015 Topps Update that I got done by Logan Verrett and a 1996 Finest by Jeff Manto.  The Manto had the old protective film on it for 21 years before I removed it last Thursday.  The card looked like a gem mint 10 and now, with the auto, looks really amazing.  I sincerely enjoy seeing Finest cards signed.  I am going to have a goal to add more of these (and other Chrome cards) to the album.

So, lots of folks have asked me my take on this year's Fan Fest.  It wasn't the best one I have been to, but it wasn't terrible.  I'm trying really hard to not let the actions of some of the handlers get me down.  I was really happy with all of the cards that I got signed, and the few items I picked up.  Not pictured are a new hoodie that I got on sale, and a couple items I picked up for some good friends.  In the end, I had a great time with my son.  I also enjoyed seeing and spending time with Ryan.  He's a great friend that I don't get to talk to as often as I would like, since both of our lives get in the way.  Finally, I was able to see Michael, and also meet Andy in person for the first time.  I think that this was a really productive Fan Fest, even though the haul was "smaller" and I am exhausted from the work I put in.

**A special thanks to Mom for picking up the Britton session and letting me pay her back by buying dinner for my sister and niece last weekend.  Thanks Momma!
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