Chris had Spring Break last week, and very quickly, I put together an 8-city road trip that started on April 18 with the first ever home game of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers.
I did pretty well graphing the Woodpeckers, and got the only Mudcat signed, but his cards will show up later in this entry. We had to leave the game early, so we could be in our next city at a reasonable time.
Our next stop was Columbia, SC, to see the Hickory Crawdads take on the Columbia Fireflies. We pulled into my Brother's house late Thursday night, and slept. The next day, I prepped cards for some of upcoming legs of our trip and kept an eye on the weather. We got tickets to the game, and were able to get into the stadium, but the game never started, and the Fireflies players never really came out of the tunnel. I wasn't able to get any graphs, but since the game rained out, we went back to my brother's place, played cards and had a good time. The next day, Chris and I embarked on the "hotels" portion of the trip that I had planned, when we traveled about an hour and 15 minutes erst of Columbia to North Augusta, SC.
We graphed outside after the game, then set out to our next stop that night, or at least as far as I could get before I finally gave in and stopped at a hotel for the night. The next morning, we would prep some more cards and head north to Nashville, TN.
NASHVILLENashville had been on my radar ever since I heard that they were to become the Rangers AAA team. This made it easy to see a few former Wood Ducks in action again, and also ended up being a good time to see some former Mudcats as well. This was not by design, but turned out to be a nice blessing.
Chris and I were able to get a lot of cards done on the first day, which allowed us to help Andrew out the second day. The above Bowman Brewers Talent Pipeline card was one of my favorites that I was able to get done. I had actually gotten Keston Hiura on it first, last year with the Mudcats. Then, I got Luis Ortiz this year at Orioles Fan Fest, and finally was able to get Mauricio Dubon after the second game of the double header.
We also met up with the guy again after the game, when the old grapher almost bowled me over while trying to get a Tyler Saladino autograph. We were waiting around to get Jake Nottingham for Andrew when that older guy encroached on the area in which we had been standing. I didn't think a whole lot of it, but later on, it afforded for the most interesting part of the trip.
While outside the stadium after the game, the guy who was the Jackson clubhouse manager met Chris, Andrew and I and chatted with us as we graphed and tried to identify players. He helped us out a bunch, and started asking about the old guys who were standing across the way, also doing some graphing. I had told him that the one guy with his big ole backpack ran me down while trying to get Tyler Saladino. The guy ran into me and gave me a very disingenuous "excuse me". So, the clubby asked us if we knew who those guys were going for, and we were pretty sure they were looking for Jake Nottingham. He said "I'll see to it that he doesn't sign for them" since he was friends with Jake. I didn't want to cause much fuss, but I didn't like how the guy nearly knocked me down the stairs, which is something I try really hard not to do when I am graphing.
We had noticed that it was taking quite a while for some of the players to come out, until the Nashville clubby came out and said that XY and Z player are still inside because Tyler Saladino has just been told he is getting called up, and they want to celebrate.
Not too long after that, several players come outside, one of which was Nottingham, a few other guys and of course, Saladino. Since that whole group, save for Saladino, knew the clubhouse guy who was with us, they all stopped and chatted with him. Saladino kind of hung back and let them have their conversation. While he was hanging back, he was right next to me, and I took that as my opportunity to turn to him and congratulate him on being called up. That simple gesture turned into a 20-minute conversation that started with burgers and ended up with Saladino's thoughts on graphers. He had a really funny exchange with Chris that ended up with Saladino signing a full page in Chris's card book. All the while, my cards were tucked under my arm, and not pulled out for any more autographs. I was much more content in having a conversation with him, than getting my last card of him signed. When the conversation turned to graphing, Saladino asked me "Do you have good intentions with all this, man? Because to tell you the truth, the whole autograph thing is creepy as hell, dude. Take these two old guys behind me, they yell out my name all aggressively and it creeps me out. It makes me not want to sign. You, I can tell you're cool and kind; I don't mind signing for you."
I wanted to tell him about almost being bowled over, but when I said "Well, Chris and I are here on vacation. We usually get autographs in Kinston..." "Kinston? I've played there, dude!" and our conversation veered off into another direction. However, all while we were talking, the two older guys had their books out, and were inching their way toward Tyler. This was when his buddies finished their conversation, and told him to head to dinner. He thanked Andrew, Chris and I for the conversation, and for being cool. He wished us well on our trip, and shook our hands. A real handshake, not a fist bump. Then he turned and walked by the two old guys' open books, and signed nothing.
ST. LOUISThe three of us decided pretty quickly to sleep in, then go to lunch instead of get up early and try to graph arrival at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. We were all really tired, and eager to get some rest. It also helped that Andrew lived down the street from an O'Charley's, so a nice steak for lunch really hit the spot.
|From left: Chris, Braden, Kaleb, Josh, Tanner, Me|