It’s always nice to escape the snow and cold every March and head down to sunny Fort Myers to catch some Red Sox Spring Training action. Even though my flight out of Logan was delayed 4 hours, and I didn’t get into Fort Myers until about 4am (never fly Spirit!) the week was still an amazing experience.
Day 1 I got to the park and started hammering away at getting the 300+ 8×10’s I brought with me, and was even able to score Dwight Evans on a Fenway 100th baseball for a project I’m working on. Dwight was great with fans all week and stopped to sign almost every day. I brought a Craig Breslow game used PawSox jersey with me that I picked up from the PawSox team store, and after he ran some laps I asked Craig if he could come over and sign, and lucky me he did! Once the minor league side started wrapping up for the day I was able to get a last minute ticket to Monday’s game against the Mets, and friend-of-the-site Matt Spring had himself a game! Matt had a HR, double, and almost hit a walk-off, but a fan interfered (Sox won anyways). After that, it was off to the BoSox Club Luncheon, where we got have some food and a fun Q&A session with Rich Gedman as well as minor leaguers Danny Mars, Michael Chavis, Kevin McAvoy, Jamie Callahan, and Luis Diaz. Sox Signatures donated some 8×10’s for the players to sign for a raffle, and everyone in attendance was able to get autographs from the players.
Day 2 The second day was a short one, as there were no minor league scrimmages or games, they only had an early morning practice and then went home for the day. When practice was wrapping up, Yoan Moncada’s handler allowed people to form a short line to get his autograph, so with the help of a friend I was able to get 2 baseballs signed by the Sox newest and hottest prospect. Being a short day, this was the perfect time to have our Private Signing with Michael Chavis, and you can read more about that here. I was also able to meet up with pitcher Joe Gunkel, who had a pair of game used cleats and his glove from 2014. Joe is always great to work with and we hope to see him in Portland this season.
Day 3 This was the first day of Minor League Spring Training games, which also means the first day that Major Leaguers will walk down to the back fields to get some extra at bats in. Today Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez both made the trek down and I was able to get Rusney on an 8×10 and Christian on an 8×10. I was also able to get a game used bat signed by Forestt Allday before he got on the bus to play the O’s minor leaguers. I picked up that bat and a Jantzen Witte game used bat (more on this one later) from the Lowell Spinners Team store last year, so I was excited to finally get them signed. Once the games were all done and the major league game finished, Matt Spring walked me through the players only section (past the “Legendary” sign above) and into the player’s lot so I could pick up his game used catcher’s gear. We love working with Matt as he always seems surprised fans are interested in his old gear, and we get to explain the wonderful insanity that is Red Sox Nation. I also love that I get to feel privileged walking back through the player’s only section with a bag of catcher’s gear slung over my shoulder.
Day 4 It was my last day in the Fort, and that meant it was time to get as many autographs as possible. Early in the day I was able to get Jantzen Witte on the other game used bat I brought with me, making me 3/4 on game used items I brought (Allday Bat, Witte bat, and Breslow PawSox jersey. I wasn’t able to get my Nava PawSox jersey signed). Rusney and Vazquez were back on the minor league side to get some extra at-bat’s and Ryan Hanigan joined them. I was able to get Ryan on an 8×10 before he left the fields, and Rusney on a baseball as well. All in all my totals were 71 8×10’s, 46 cards, 9 baseballs, 2 hats, 2 jerseys, 2 bats, 2 pairs of cleats, 1 pair of batting gloves, 1 fielding glove, and one set of catchers equipment for a total of 140 autographs (not including the Chavis signing). Overall I would call that a pretty successful trip. I was also able to network with some players about future game used deals, and a few other folks that can maybe help spread the Sox Signatures brand.
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