What a day!
My buddy and I had access to batting practice on the field! When available, this is by far my favorite opportunity as a Mariners season ticket holder. When you’re in the guest area (behind the ropes, between the dugouts, behind home plate) you can see and hear more of the players and coaches up close, not to mention talk with some of them. They often graciously pose for photos and sign autos for field guests.
It was a great BP for autos! Eugenio Suarez signed a card, JP Crawford signed a mini Gold Glove and a print of a selfie from last weekend’s Photo Day (Shaka!), and Edgar Martinez signed a card. Thank you gentlemen!
The highlight was Julio Rodriguez!!! He was the player I wanted to meet the most. I was so busy following him that I didn’t even notice Ichiro was signing at the same time. That’s saying something! Anyhow, first I asked JRod for a sweet spot signature on a baseball, he smiled and said, “Yeah, sure.” (He’s already got the smiling and acknowledging fans parts of stardom down lol.). He signed it beautifully! Wow wow wee! Thanks man!
My buddy and I both brought jerseys, so after Julio signed his jersey, I asked him to also sign mine. My friend was smart enough to bring a note asking for an inscription. His jersey turned out gloriously! Silver paint pen on silver-outlined dark blue letters, inscribed with his name and “JRod Show” and a great auto that you could read it from across a room. Magical!
Julio signed my jersey just as meticulously and included the same inscriptions. He chuckled when I told him I had a different name than my friend, and fortunately he got mine right. Unfortunately, I got too cute with the paint pen colors. I wanted to match the yellow outline on the royal blue numbers. In testing it looked awesome. When he actually signed it, the yellow mixed with the royal blue and came out a dark green. Oh no! His signing was absolutely fantastic, it’s just hard to read if you don’t already know there. Clearly, I should have stuck with the silver that has worked so well on blue in the past. I messed it up, was very disappointed, and hopefully learned to stick with more reliable colors in the future. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that JRod signed it wonderfully and personalized it! I mean you can read it if you look closely. The more I look at it, magically the brighter it seems to get lol. If I can somehow improve the contrast between the writing and the numbers, it will advance from “cool” to “super duper awesome”! I can certainly do a digital restoration, print and frame it, etc. That would be a safe option. I could also see what type of lighting would best bring out the auto. Those are both safe options. A third choice would be to outline or fill with silver paint pen, a bright yellow pencil or marker, etc. That would be very very risky. 🙂 Anyhow, more about all that at the end of this blog. 🙂
He signed for several more people and was still in the general area where I was. Another dude and I brought some stuff (I brought a picture from Photo Day) but Julio said something like, “Sorry guys, I gotta go.” I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed, didn’t want to disappoint anyone, or just plain done. Hope everything is cool, Julio is fantastic with all the fans of all ages. Anyhow, thank you JRod for signing my ball and jersey! Thank you Universe. Totally awesome!!!
We also got to stay for most of the Angels BP. Ohtani was pitching so we didn’t see him (bummer). Tyler Wade came by but I didn’t think I had anything for him (although in retrospect I guess I could have had him sign my random MLBers ball). I was focused on getting Mike Trout to sign this picture I’ve been carrying around for a few years. I still have it, unsigned lol. He came right to us and signed a jersey, some balls, and took a photo. He skipped my photo, some cards, and my buddy’s Funko. To be honest it felt weird. Inclusion and exclusion. Oh well. I must say I feel very fortunate that he signed a ball (beautifully) and a couple of cards for me in previous years!
We were escorted from the field shortly thereafter and complied. The Mariners side was awesome and the Angels side was a dud, but all in all, it was one of the best BP’s on the field ever!!! Thank you Mariners organization and thank you Universe!!!
Shohei Ohtani pitched great, giving up no runs, three hits and two walks over six innings, with six strikeouts. I was wondering if would be his own DH, and the answer was yes, going two for four.
Mariner defeater Mike Trout drove in all four runs with two two-run homers. I missed the first one while in the concession line. However, I definitely saw and heard the second one, it was a no doubter rocket to center field. He has like 30 homers in 85 games in Seattle. Crazy!
In the first or second inning, a foul ball by Max Stassi came to our section on the Mariners side. It bounced about eight rows in front of us and then came our way. I got a late jump but scrambled down a couple of rows. I think I got a hand on it but this other dude almost tackled me, reached over me, and got it. I must have looked pretty bummed out, or maybe he felt guilty about going over me, but he gave me the ball and I accepted his generosity. I like stuff like foul balls. 🙂 My buddy told me, “It’s your day!” I replied, “It’s your day” cause, I mean, it was his day too lol. I felt a little guilty but still wanted to keep the ball (I mean I was right there). So later I went over to offer a beverage, but he didn’t need it. We just chatted, he was a nice guy. He said if Ohtani had hit, he would have kept it. 🙂 Anyway, thanks man! I appreciate it. I don’t know if this all happened before or after I went to the concession line, where the lady gave me a free soda. Thank you folks, and thank you Universe!
Speaking of Shohei Ohtani, later in the game we were sitting on the Angels side. I don’t remember if Ohtani was doing warm up pitches, or if during the game action a Mariner got out on a pitch from the Japanese superstar. I think it was game action. Anyhow, third baseman Matt Duffy eventually had the ball. He threw it into our section. Sure enough, it came right to me, around 30 rows up from the field. In one of those slow motion moments, and I tracked it, simply reached up, and caught it! I thought nothing of catching it with my bare hands but some people seemed to think that was a big deal. People might have cheered. A lady in the next row came over and high fived me, my buddy reiterated, “It’s your day!” and I was going bananas. My buddy, Japanese by birth and a big Ohtani fan, was joking that it smelled like Ohtani, I thought it smelled like a foreign substance to help the pitcher lol, and a couple of other friends thought it just smelled like leather. Anyway, he was saying the baseball was “touched by Ohtani” and again I’m pretty sure it saw game action. Guess I could look at a time stamp on the photo and try to figure it out. Anyway, thank you Matt Duffy and thank you Universe! Wow!!! 🙂
The Angels won 4-0.
PS Two days later, Trout homered in each game of double header, for 32 in 87 games in Seattle. Wow 🙂
Since I was disappointed that the yellow paint pen did not pop on the Julio jersey, and instead turned a dark green, I decided to do a digital enhancement of the auto and inscriptions. Basically, I traced the existing auto and inscriptions in a bright yellow gold color. Looking at the jersey so closely, I appreciate how nice the auto from Julio really is! For reasons unbeknownst to me, I also changed the gold color slightly on the outline of the numbers. I used a consistent line thickness for each segment (somewhere between 2 and 4 pixels each) so it doesn’t have the pressure variations that a real pen signature tends to have and some of the stuff looks a little weird. Nevertheless, I think the digital jersey art looks pretty cool! Definitely pops and is easier to read. I think I’ll keep the original signed jersey safe in the office closet, and use a print of the digital jersey in a shadowbox display with the signed ball and some cards and photos, a nameplate and our team name perhaps, etc. Should be pretty sweet!