Planning for the trip I was most excited to see Camelback Ranch. I have been there a few times and it’s by far my favorite Spring Training Stadium but for the sole purpose of this trip I’m going to say Hohokam Field in Mesa was my favorite. It always had the least amount of autographers, I’m not sure why either because it was the best stadium for autographs. You had access to each team and the bullpens were right next to each other so all the bullpens pitchers walked by the same place. The concessions had an option besides hot dogs or nachos. They had a really good chicken breast sandwich.
I didn’t think it was going to be Mesa with all their top prospects but they were awesome. Bryant was great, Almora signed 2 or 3 things for everybody each game we saw him. Jorge Soler signed, Brian Goodwin signed, C.J. Cron signed, Tyler Collins signed, Devon Travis signed, Max Muncy signed and they all signed at each game I was at. Addison Russell signed but we weren’t lucky enough to get one. From what I heard from other autographers was that you could tell he didn’t like to sign but was still nice enough to do it.
Worst Team for Autographs
Can’t really pick a whole team because every team had guys that signed. The group that I was most disappointed in was Glendale’s position players. We called it the “Buxton Effect”. Byron Buxton is baseballs #1 prospect and didn’t really sign much which I don’t blame him because when he did it was pure chaos. But for some reason the other position players Corey Seager, Eddie Rosario, Micah Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, Jared Mitchell and probably a few other thought they are too good to sign and be somewhat sociable with the fans.
Best Player for Autographs
I’m going to pick 3. The first 2 are Richie Shaffer of the Rays and Garin Cecchini of the Red Sox. Shaffer probably had the nicest signature of any of the players and he took a picture with me. Cecchini was very friendly and very honest with the fans. At the first game we saw him he was in a hurry but still stopped to sign. For the fans that had cards he would ask which one we wanted signed. He also promised to come sign more after the game and he did, which a lot of players said but didn’t do. My absolute favorite player was Jorge Alfaro of the Rangers and 1 of the top catching prospects in MILB. We saw his team play 4 games. He signed before and after each game. Not only did he sign but he took pictures with the fans, he shook hands and thanked us for coming. He was by far the most polite ball player we met. I will be watching and rooting for all three of these players to make it all the way to the BIGS.
Worst Player for Autographs
Alen Hanson of the Pittsburgh Pirates. A friend of ours came down for Fall League with his son and his son is a huge baseball fan and autograph collector. Hanson was 1 of the guys he was looking forward to seeing and getting an autograph from. Well he saw Hanson and there was no one else around him. He tried to get him to come over but he wouldn’t, instead he went signed for an adult. For that reason alone I think he was the worst player for autographs. He passed up a kid for an adult, not to mention we saw him 3 games and not once did he go over to the fans.
Overall we met a ton really nice true fans of the game, autographers and only a few not so nice ones. I do believe four days is the perfect amount of time to spend here. Anymore time and you would need to do other things besides just going to the games. We did get tons of pictures, a few videos, an interview and talked to someone that may be able to get us a tour when we return in March for Spring Training. A couple of weeks off and the planning for that trip will begin.