Baseball is almost upon us. As the football season is set to wind down this coming weekend, baseball is about to ramp back up with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training soon. Now that there is no pandemic stopping things or a lockout keeping players away, I finally was able to do an activity involving the Orioles.
I hadn't been to Fan Fest since the last one the Orioles held, back in 2019. I didn't go to the first Orioles Birdland Caravan in 2020. Then, baseball autograph activities took a hit with COVID and then the lockout. This year, however, I made a trip to three of the stops on the caravan and came away with some signed Orioles cards.
The first session was Saturday morning in Frederick, Maryland. Chris, my friend Ryan, and I made the trip from Ryan's place to Frederick to get Nick Vespi and Grayson Rodriguez. Ryan was able to score a voucher to get Adley Rutschman, but I was shut out. Good thing, too, because of Rutschman's stupid exclusive deal, folks were only being given a pre-signed Orioles post card and a photo opportunity with Adley. For the $50/voucher price point, that was a dud. Thankfully, I got into the Grayson Rodriguez voucher queue online with no problems and purchased my allotted two vouchers. The cards turned out nicely. I had to buy Nick Vespi cards online, and got them in before the trip, which was nice.
Our next session was in Bowie, Maryland, so we hit the road. We stopped at a Five Guys in Bowie, then headed to the venue for Ramon Urias and Heston Kjerstad. This was my first opportunity to get Kjerstad in person. He was talking and laughing with one of the handlers, so I didn't get a chance to talk with him, though. Urias seemed nice. I was happy to finally get my Panini Prizm card done. I had sent it to a friend in Arizona for a potential signing, but was able to get him to send the card back in time for the caravan.
Ryan's eagle eye spotted Mike Elias in the room, so I used one of the generic Orioles cards to get him on. I know the card is a 199 Score, but with Camden Yards as the backdrop, it was nice to get the Orioles GM on a card.
We stayed the night in York, PA, so we would be close to the next venue for Sunday morning. We had vouchers for Dean Kremer and Felix Bautista. Ryan and I found out Saturday night that Dean Kremer was sick and wouldn't make it to the caravan on Sunday. The Orioles put Larry Sheets in the session in Kremer's place. My friend, Michael, came through in the clutch and had Larry Sheets cards ready for us on Sunday morning.
I was glad to get my 2022 Topps Update Chrome Bautistas signed. The purple refractor turned out nicely.
I was excited to finally be able to get John Means on some cards. My 2021 Topps Now no hitter card is awesome. I've been waiting a while to try to get it signed. I also got some Dillon Tates signed that have been in my boxes for a few years.
One of the coolest things that happened during the York event was that Orioles assistant GM, Sig Mejdal, was walking along the line and chatting with fans. I talked to him for a few minutes. He is a really good guy, and how he got into baseball is very interesting. Long story short, he was an engineer at NASA who studied MLB stats as a hobby. He broke into the league as a member of the Cardinals. He worked with Orioles GM, Mike Elias with the Astros and followed Elias to the Orioles. The job those two are doing as a team has been very impressive.
I had a great time at the caravan and can't wait for the season to start.
Maybe some day you can take your feeble old momma on a road trip
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