I'll be able to space them out for an undetermined amount of time, but here is the first of many posts about my trip to Baltimore this weekend for 2013 Orioles Fan Fest. On the trip was myself, of course, my son Chris (seen above with his awesome toothless smile), my friend Ryan from "O No Another Orioles Blog", and his friend Scott and Scott's son Austin.
Fan Fest began on a somber note when we found out that former Orioles manager, Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, had passed away. They showed a video tribute to him right before the Fan Forum Q&A. I'll admit, I cried. Chris clapped really hard for Earl when the video tribute was over and he turned to me and said "I'm sorry Earl Weaver died, Daddy." He understood the importance of Earl, that's for sure.
Fan Fest was PACKED this year. Autograph vouchers sold out in less than 45 minutes after they went on sale. Manny Machado vouchers sold out in less than 5 minutes. Craziness. The crowd began to clear out soon after lunch time, though, so by the end of the day, it wasn't too bad. The giveaway line was crazy the whole day, and all of the really good stuff in the memorabilia room was gone by the time we got there.
As far as the autograph sessions go, we met Jim Palmer for a second time. Palmer was really nice to Chris and talked about left handed catchers with him. Palmer seemed to be in pretty good spirits, even tough you know the loss of Earl had to be weighing on him.
Quickly becoming one of my favorite players, Chris Davis is seen here chatting with Chris about last year's Fan Fest, in which my Chris was picking his nose. I yelled "Chris, stop picking your nose", to which Davis replied "I didn't think anyone saw that..." Davis remembered that exchange.
Chris took some hacks at the air T-ball station again this year. As always, he did very well. He even Barry Bonds-ed the bat when he was done. Well played, my son. Haha.
We were fortunate to meet Dylan Bundy in the last autograph session. He was really nice in the 5 seconds we were able to chat with him.
Here is Nolan Reimold signing Chris' Official Carolina League ball. Chris had a ton of game used balls from that league that he has been picking up over the years, so he brought a bunch to have signed. He ended up getting Nolan on one, and a group of other signers on another one. I was able to introduce myself to Nolan and remind him that I was the guy who sent the Bowie Baysox bobblehead to him for Christmas in exchange for his Red Sox beating batting gloves. Nolan chatted with Chris and I for a bit and we went on our way. I really wanted to get a better photo-op with Nolan because I am still a little embarrassed by my appearance in our last photo together (I had just come from work to a Norfolk game and was a bit disheveled). I think I'll be able to get another photo-op sometime soon, as Nolan is a really cool guy. Man, I hope he busts out for about 35 homers, 110 RBIs ans a .330 batting average this year. He deserves it. Probably my favorite Oriole right now.
As I posted last night, we all went from the Convention Center to Camden Yards to pay our respects to Earl Weaver. We first stopped by the retired numbers, where some folks had already laid flowers beside his retired number 4.
Earl's statue was the only thing lit up in the statue yard. How lucky are we that the statue dedications were done last year and that all of the recipients were able to attend? I'm so glad Earl was able to see his dedication.
Here is a look at the dark Camden Yards. Laying dormant following the great season that it was witness to in 2012. Hopefully, the place will be just as packed this upcoming year and will finally get to see a championship.
Finally, as we said goodbye to Earl, we departed the park and made our way back to our parking spot. I enjoyed myself, yet again at Fan Fest.
So, here is a look at all of the stuff Chris and I picked up. One of the signed balls is already committed to a trade with my good buddy, Drew. Some other stuff is possible trade bait and a good portion of it will be assumed into my massive collection. In all, I feel like we made out really well. I can't wait until next year's Fan Fest.