There really is nothing better than flying out on a snowy March Boston day, and landing in 85 degree sunny weather in Fort Myers Florida. It’s that time of year for the annual Sox a Signatures Fort Myers trip, and I loaded up 2 bags full of cards, 8×10’s, baseballs, game used gear, more 8×10’s, and then I threw in some clothes for me too (not much room for those).
I landed on Sunday at about 1, checked into the hotel, and I was immediately off to Jet Blue Park for the annual BoSox Club Spring Training BBQ. This event is always awesome because they bring in some of the Red Sox top prospects to sign some autographs and answer some questions. This year featured Jason Groome, CJ Chatham, Bobby Dalbec, Jamie Callahan, Trey Ball, and coach Rich Gedman with Gordon Edes hosting. Gordon decided to ask some fun questions to the players about what they do in their off time, what they would do if they weren’t pro ball players, and who the better golfer is. After that is was time for a quick autograph session where he players all signed for everyone in attendance, and Day 1 was in the books.
Day 2 started bright and early with getting to Jet Blue around 8:30am. The minor leaguers on the back fields are all on a pretty strict schedule so it’s pretty easy to get autographs in bunches as they all come and go inside the complex, especially when you can recognize their faces instead of waiting to read the names on the back of the jerseys. While I was wandering around the back fields, I noticed a crowd gathering around Field #2. Turns out today was the dedication of the field to Frank Malzone. Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Tommy Harper, Luis Tiant, a few of the MLB coaches and Frank Malzone’s family were all there to help with the dedication. The players all had some nice stories to tell about Frank, and his family was very appreciative of the ceremony. Next up was the minor league games and a couple catchers from MLB camp, Jake DePew and friend of the site Dan Butler, came down to get some extra at bats against the minor leaguers. Was able to catch up with Dan and even caught a home run he hit in one of the games on video, hopefully you caught it on Twitter. After the games, it was off to do the signing with Roniel Raudes, but you can hear more about that here.
Day 3 was about getting some of the bigger items signed (so I wouldn’t have to keep lugging them around). I got a Portland away jersey signed by Rafael Devers, a game used bat signed by Tate Matheny, and a pair of game used pants signed by friend of the site Jake Romanski. I was also able to add to my Famous Fenway Writers Project by getting WEEI’s Rob Bradford to sign a tile from the Fenway Press Box.
Day 4 I was able to snag another couple special items I brought. I got CJ Chatham to sign a game used Lowell Spinners jersey, and then Christian Vazquez on a game used PawSox hat. Christian was out on the back fields to catch Eduardo Rodriguez, and a bunch of big names were there to watch. Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, John Farrell, Dave Dombrowski and a bunch of other MLB coaches were there to watch E-Rod pitch. I got everyone but Wake to sign something (he and Tek left at the same time so I had to choose).
Day 5 was all about quality, not quantity. Spent a little more time on the big league side, and was able to get Matt Barnes to sign my game used jersey, Bryce Brentz to sign a pair of game used pants, and Craig Kimbrel on an 8×10. Over on the minor league side, Rick Porcello was getting in some extra work pitching to Sandy Leon, and after the game I was able to get Rick on a ball and Sandy to sign a game used PawSox hat that I brought down. The games were over early today due to impending weather, so again not a ton of autographs, but some great special items.
Day 6 was my last full day in Florida, and I was trying to get all the rest of the special items I brought signed. I was able to get CJ Chatham on a pair of game used pants, Robbie Ross on a game used PawSox hat, and a great 8×10 from the last out of the 2004 World Series signed by both Keith Foulke and Jason Varitek.
That was probably one of the cooler items I didn’t expect to get while I was down there. I was also able to get Craig Kimbrel on a ball and Sandy Leon on a ball as well. A bunch of the bullpen pitchers were down on the back fields today to get some work in including Kimbrel, Barnes, Thornburg and Abad.
Day 7 was my final day, and there really isn’t too much to report. Most of what I had brought with me was signed, and I didn’t really have too many things left besides some random minor league cards and 8×10’s. Did get a chance to watch friend of the site Brian Johnson pitch on the back fields, and it’s always great to catch up with him and see how things are going. Other than that, that pretty much wraps up my trip to Fort Myers! It was a great trip, very fruitful from both a business side, and with some fun stories for another time!
Now for the fun part, the totals:
- 120 8x10s
- 134 cards
- 26 baseballs
- 7 hats (3 game used, 4 new)
- 1 game used bat
- 1 mini bat
- 7 game used locker tags
- 3 jerseys (2 game used, 1 new)
- 3 pairs of game used pants
- 3 Fenway tiles (Bradford, Shaugnessy, Speier)
- Total: 305 autographs