For a baseball fan like me the off season can be a long boring stretch of time. The MLB Hot Stove and baseball Winter Meetings help get me through December, but once the New Year hits things tend to slow down in the world of baseball. So for the month of January and the first half of February I desperately grasp for anything baseball related to keep me going.
As I mentioned in my Autograph Opportunities part 1, Caravan and FanFest events are great ways to not only get autographs but to also ease the pain of not having baseball. This month is the Seattle Mariners FanFest event as well as their Caravan tour, so I thought I would give everyone a breakdown of how my family does the FanFest event. If you aren’t an autograph seeker at the end of this I have a list of other great things for baseball fans to do at Fan Fest so check that out.
Because I live a little over 4 hours away from Seattle and the rest of my family lives two hours away we usually head up on Friday afternoon. We do this for two reasons. First so we can get to the stadium on Saturday without being exhausted in the morning and second because the Mariners normally have a Caravan stop on Friday somewhere in the Seattle area that we go to.
On Saturday morning Kelly (my brother-in-law and a writer for the blog) and I usually get to Safeco field around 8 am. At time in the morning there are people already in line but we are normally around #50 in line which is perfect.
The Fan Fest event doesn’t begin until 11 am usually, so we have some time to kill. Just down the road from Safeco is a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme Donuts so we often take turns getting food and using the restroom while the other person holds the spots in line.
This is usually a time where we sit and talk about the upcoming season, our plan for the day, and even what games we are looking at going to during the season. The fun part about getting in line early like this is we have met a lot of the regulars that come as well. There are 20 to 25 people that we see every year at Fan Fest and at events and games throughout the year.
Once the rest of our family joins us just before the gates open the real planning and fun begins. In order to get autographs you must enter the gates and pick up a voucher. You can only get one voucher at a time. So after our group grabs the first set of vouchers the majority of our group goes to get in line for the first set of autographs while myself, Kelly, and his two oldest daughters exit Safeco, get back in line and wait to reenter and pick up additional vouchers.
There are two autograph times. An early season and an afternoon session, both having 4 or 5 separate autograph spots going on so we often have to get back in line to get vouchers for the afternoon sessions. We normally go through the line three total times to get enough vouchers for our entire group and then I will go through a handful more to get extra vouchers just in case. Last year not enough people wanted autographs so they had extra vouchers that they hadn’t handed out. By the time I caught up with a part of our group at an autograph session I had some extra vouchers to use for the second session.
Once you have your vouchers for the day the hard work is really over and now it’s just a matter of waiting in line. This year after I get my vouchers I will probably catch up with my wife and daughter in a line to get our first autographs. After we get our autographs for the first session the group meets back up, hands out the vouchers for the second session, pulls out food for lunch and then makes our way to session 2 autographs areas.
Our group is 10 people so we are able to get autographs for each other at each location, but even if you’re all by yourself you can get an autograph at each session time.
Throughout the entire day there is a ‘Dugout Dialogue’ that goes on. Players and coaches take about 20 minutes to answer questions and just have fun interacting with fans. A lot of fans don’t get vouchers because they spend the entire day getting autographs at the Dugout Dialogue. There is the potential for getting more players here but also a higher risk because they don’t have to sign.
Non Autograph Seekers
Not everyone gets autographs and I understand that. So here is a list of things that you can do at Safeco during Fan Fest that are pretty cool as well.
· Zip Line over the outfield. (This is brand new this year so I have no clue what this will look like but my wife is doing it for sure.)
· Play catch in the outfield. (The perfect Field of Dreams ‘wanna have a catch’ opportunity.)
· Walk around the bases. (The field looks so different when you’re standing on 2nd base)
· Tour of the Mariners clubhouse.
· Fan vs Felix batting cage. (This is the one thing I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to it.)
There is a ton more to do for the whole family and you can get more information at the Mariners Fan Fest Website http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/sea/fan_forum/fan_fest.jsp