“We meet again” – Jon Garland


On Saturday, I drove down to San Diego for the Padres Fan Fest. Yes,
you read that correctly. It says “Padres”, not “Dodgers”. Why, you may
ask? Because, yes, I drove an hour and forty-five minutes to San Diego
to attend a Padres Fan Fest. You may be having the same reaction my
cousin did when I asked if she would go with me. She said, “But you’re
a Dodger fan! You bleed Dodger blue.” I said, yeah, I do. But I also
like the Friars (among several other teams) and at the time, there were
several players listed on the website that I would like to get their
autographs. And yes, most of them were former Dodgers. So, in a way, I
wasn’t going to get an autograph from a Padre… I was going to get one
from a former Dodger. Anyway, I sent my photos to Costco to print and
then checked the list again. The list had been shortened and two of the
three names I wanted were gone. Oh well. I was still going anyway. We
planned the entire day: Petco Park, Balbao Park, Extraordinary
Desserts, and Pedro’s Tacos.

Kevin,
Jenny, and I left Jenny’s place around eight. We got to Petco about a
quarter till ten. It was free parking, so we parked in one of the lots
on Imperial. Then we headed towards the end of the giant line that had
formed. Season ticket holders got to go in at nine. The general public
were let in at ten. By the time we found the end of the line, we were
almost to the bridge that connects Petco Park and the Omni Hotel (which
is the hotel the visiting teams stay at). When the gates opened, the
line started to move. On our way towards the gate, I saw Eric, a friend
I had just met two weeks ago. I wasn’t surprised to see several people
I knew. Jenny was concerned about our safety, since I’m a “die-hard”
Dodger fan (her words). I told her we would be fine and there would be
plenty of other Dodger fans there too. I didn’t have my camera ready,
but as we were moving towards the gate, we had to stop to let Adrian
Gonzalez pull in. That would’ve been a neat picture.

The way the
Padres did the autograph sessions were, they had two players per
session in four different sections. Each session was an hour. For
example, Jon Garland and Aaron Poreda were signing at Section 110 from
12 – 1. That was the session I wanted. When we entered Petco, there
were four signs posted above the stairs leading up to Petco Park from
the gates. Each sign showed the section, time, and name of the players
signing. You were allowed one session per section. If you wanted to get
another voucher, you had to get in line again. When we got there,
Adrian Gonzalez’s vouchers were all gone and there were only a handful
of Chris Young vouchers left. Both were signing in Garland’s sections
before he was. So, we waited for Garland’s. Meanwhile, Eric had an
extra voucher for Rollie Fingers/Kurt Bevacqua
that he gave me. So, I was able to go home with more than two
autographs. Yes, it was a long way to drive just for Jon Garland. I was
also hoping to snag a few more Padre players, but I didn’t want to get
in line to get more vouchers. Garland was paired up with Aaron Poreda (who also happens to be a former White Sox – he got traded to the Padres in the Jake Peavy deal.
While I went to go get my autographs, Kevin and Jenny checked out the
other things at the Fan Fest, including the Garage Sale.

When
I got to my section, I saw a few more familiar faces. I showed the
usher my voucher and he seated me with the other people waiting for our
session. There was a Q & A session (the Broadcast Forum) going on
with Dick Enberg, Mark Grant, and Mark Neely. One of them was asked
something (it was hard to hear) and they mentioned Vin Scully. I forgot
what was said, but it was something along the lines of Vin Scully is
the best there is out there. Next up was the Kings of the Hill : Chris
Young, Clayton Richard (he came with Poreda in the Peavy trade), and
Jon Garland. Jon got there early and I noticed him sitting there … and
he started signing things. A short line had formed and people were
getting autographs from Richard, Garland, and another guy (don’t
remember who). I looked at my line which had just started moving. I
looked at Jon. Was there enough time for me to run down to the dugout
and get Jon’s autograph and get back in time for Rollie Fingers. I took
the chance. I ran down to the dugout and got in line. There were about
three others ahead of me.The little kid in front of me either already
got Jon Garland on his baseball or he didn’t want him. It looked like
the latter cause it looked like Jon was waiting for the kid to give him
the ball, but the kid didn’t.

When
it was my turn, I held up a 8×10 photo of Jon and asked him if he could
please sign it. I handed it up to him. He asked me, “did you take this
here?” I told him, no, I took it in LA during the playoffs. I was right
by the dug out when he was coming out. He looked like he liked the
photo. I may see if he’d like a copy the next time I see him. Then I
told him I had another photo I’d love for him to sign if he didn’t
mind. He said sure. He turned the envelope around to see it, but it
wasn’t there. I wasn’t expecting him to sign more than one thing.

I
told him it was in the envelope still. I took the envelope and pulled
out the other picture. He looked at it and you could see he was trying
to figure out where was the photo from. I wish I had taken a photo. It
was quite cute how confused he seemed. I explained to him that it was
at the Skateland event with Orlando Hudson. He said, “Yeah, I was
trying to figure out where this was.” He mentioned something about how
he had his beard going. I told him it looked good. And yes, he was
wearing his glasses today and boy does he look in his glasses.

After
I got Jon’s autographs, I ran back to my line for Rollie/Kurt. I got
Jon just in time. They were about to start the Q&A. I wanted to
stick around but I needed to get back. I think the usher thought I was
cutting in line, because he took my voucher but no one else’s. Everyone
else got their voucher taken when they approached the table. I didn’t
have any trouble, but still… Meanwhile, I could hear bits and pieces
of the Q&A going on. I heard Randy Wolf’s name pop up. But I
couldn’t hear the question or the answer.

I
didn’t bring anything generic except for the Opening Day cap I got at
last year’s Padres/Dodgers game (yes, it was on Opening Day). I kept
the cap for autograph opportunities like this. Kurt was first and he
was very nice and conversational with the people in front of me. Since
I didn’t have a clue who he was, I didn’t know what to say other than
please and thank you. He signed the cap in blue to the left of the
Padres’ logo. Rollie signed on the other side in black. After that, I
met up with Jenny and Kevin. Jenny and I saw the mascot for the Padres
minor league team. He looks like he could be the Phillies’ Phanatic’s
little brother. We took photos with it, of course. Kevin bought a SD
baseball cap to get signed. Guess he’s going to collect signed baseball
caps. He already has a Dodgers one with several autographs. Jenny
didn’t have anything yet. I was going to have her get a baseball card
signed for me by Jon. I told them about how I got Jon to sign my
photographs already. That meant I could get him in my scrapbook. Jenny
wanted to get something signed for her friend Phanny. We were supposed
to bring her with us, but I had the dates wrong and it didn’t work out.
Jenny still wanted to get an autograph for her. While we were waiting
for our session to start, Jenny went back to the Garage Sale and picked
up two of the baseballs they were selling. I was going to have Aaron
Poreda sign the ball. Jenny was going to get both of them on the ball.

They
had us sitting on one side while the line for Adrian Gonzalez was going
through. Once they were done, they moved us over. We would’ve been in
the first row, but there were only two seats and there were three of
us. Had we been in those seats, we would’ve been right behind Jon when
he showed up. I had a feeling Jon would see me and go, “you again?” or
something like that. When we lined up, the usher saw my scrapbook and
asked me about it. He was quite impressed. Someone ahead of us was
getting a baseball signed … in a blue sharpie. I cringed when I saw
that. The person in front of me agreed. Rookie mistake. I told Jenny
when she asked Aaron to sign her ball, to ask for it in the pen. When
we asked Aaron to use a pen instead, the Padre employee said we were
real fans who knew what we were doing or something like that. When
Aaron signed both our baseballs, he did it in a funny spot. Not the
sweet spot. On mine, he signed right by the logo. On Jenny’s, he signed
on the blank side.

I
pulled out my scrapbook for Jon to sign and the employee sitting next
to him was impressed too. She was like, “wow, what’s that?” I said “hi
jon” and put the book down. He said, “we meet again.” I knew it! After
all, it hadn’t been more than 45 minutes since I asked him to sign the
photos. Yes, I know. I got a lot of stuff signed by him. What can I
say? I have a soft spot for guys in glasses. He picked up the black
sharpie and I asked him if he could please use the blue, it comes out
better on the photo. I thanked him and told him, “see you at Dodger
Stadium”. I wish I could’ve asked for a photo with him. I like the
other one, but it’s so dark! Maybe when he’s in L.A.

After
that, we took a tour of the clubhouse. It was really cool to see the
training room, the physical therapy room, the clubhouse, where the
players ate and stuff. After that, we walked around the field. We
stopped in the visiting teams’ dugout and took some photos. I heard on
the radio that the grounds crew equipment would be out. I totally
wanted a picture of me on the big green John Deere tractor! After we
walked around the field and took several photos, we headed back to the
car. We passed the cutest sight. There were these two little kids
rubbing their hands in the warning track dirt and then putting their
hand prints on the padded outfield walls!

Here are some photos to leave ya’ll with. I’ll try to post the rest on my Flickr within the next few days. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, they’re already up.




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