Friday, July 3, 2015

2015 Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am

One of my favorite events in CT all year. Unfortunately last year I had to skip it because I had just switched jobs, but this year I was good to go and hoped rack up on some celebrities, as well as some of the best golfers in the world.

For those who don't know, the Celebrity Pro-Am is a charitable event in which a PGA Tour Professional is paired with 3 other people. These people can be celebrities, dignitaries, and just other local people of interest. Of course, I only go to meet the celebrities and PGA guys, and usually I am very successful.

Here are links to the other two times I have 'graphed this event:

This year, I'll start by talking about how I met each celebrity and what they were like.

George Lopez was my big target for the day. I knew his signing habits were very good, so I wasn't too worried about missing out on him although there were a lot of people.

I first met him when he was coming up from the practice facility. He was rushing because he had to tee off and kept saying,"Last one, last one." but he kept signing and  did two 8x10s for me:

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Later in the day, I still had photos for him so I went to the 8th green, and I was super happy with what transpired.

I called him over after he finished the hole, and I had 2 photos showing(with some more peeking out under them) on top of my book. He signed the first two, and without me even asking, grabbed the others and signed them for me. This was incredibly nice of him, and not something someone of his level of celebrity do very often, if at all.

The marker he had by this point was God awful, but luckily I was able to get him to use mine on the previous photos.
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To top it off, he was more than happy to take a picture with me:

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Bridget Moynahan, the star of Blue Bloods on CBS, was another big target. Some may remember her from her role in Coyote Ugly as well.

She was actually hosting/playing in the charity mini golf tournament that takes place the same day as the Celebrity Pro-Am. When she arrived, she had a cart bring her right up to the mini golf course so I wasn't expecting the best. She had a brace on her ankle, so I'm guessing that was the reasoning for her being driven directly up. Other people were reassuring me that she would sign at the end, because that's what she did last year.

They were right, and at the end she signed away:
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She was very sweet to the fans, and thanked us for coming out. She even commented on how much she liked the photo I chose.

Matt Lauer of the Today Show was also at this event, and I had never met him before so he was also near the top of my list. I was able to get him coming up from the practice green area. He was rushing much more than the others, but still stopped and signed.
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Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots was another name I was excited to see on the list because he is one of the Patriots that I haven't met yet. He was VERY nice. I told him I loved the photo of him making the tackle and he laughed and said," Me too, but my knees still hurt from doing that." He was half kidding...
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Tim Wakefield needs no introduction, and while I had met him before, I am always excited to see him because I grew up watching him. He signed 2 photos for me(I had to dip him) but he was very nice.

He had his own(blue) sharpie to my surprise. Usually no famous person voluntarily carries a blue with them.

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The Connecticut legend Jim Calhoun signed up a storm at the event, and I caught him coming down from the clubhouse. I've never had a bad experience with him!
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It was a bit of a surprise to see that NASCAR phenom Bubba Wallace Jr. would be attending this event, but as a fan of his, I was pretty happy. I saw him multiple times throughout the day, and he was always very nice as most NASCAR drivers are.
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Skateboarding legend, Ryan Sheckler was also there, and he was truly one of the nicest people in attendance. His handler kept trying to drag him away from signing, and he just kept going and going. He wouldn't stop, and his handler was getting visibly frustrated. It's always so funny when power hungry people try to ruin the fun, but Ryan hooked everyone up!
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Season 1 winner of NBC's ,"The Voice", Javier Colon was there as always. I've gotten a bunch of things signed by him over the years, so I just went with one photo this time.
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Coach/ Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma is always a great signer, and I was able to get him to sign 3 of the AWESOME new Womens' Championship Sports Illustrateds.
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Overall, I had a great day 'graphing the celebrities who attended and now I will talk about the golfers.

Two-time Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, is always one of the top golfers at this event. He usually signs a lot coming off of his last hole, and that was true again this year:
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I was able to meet another two-time major champion, Ernie Els, for the first time around the practice area. He probably has the worst autograph of any golfer out there, but it was still cool to meet him.

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Another first-timer for me was former Masters Champion, Angel Cabrera. Angel is a STRICT one-per and glares into your soul like a dementor straight out of Harry Potter to make sure that he doesn't sign for you again.
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I got the rest of the golfers that I had either met a number of times before or that I didn't care as much about on pairing sheet books.

Keegan Bradley:

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Hunter Mahan:

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Gary Woodland:
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Brandt Snedeker:
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Luke Donald & Stuart Appleby:
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Mark Leishman:
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Jason Gore, Kevin Na, & One Unknown:
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I'm really happy with how this year's tournament worked out for me, and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

50 Cent 6/18/15

As I have often said, some of the last minute events I find out about are the best ones.

Last week, one day after my James Patterson event, I was finishing up at work later than usual. I was packing up my things to go home and decided to scroll though my facebook feed. When I saw the post I was pretty shocked. 50 Cent was doing a bottle signing at a package store literally 5 minutes from my house. He was there from 5-8, and I only found out about it because a news station posted a story at like 6:40. 50 Cent has been going all around the country doing these signings, and I knew he was going to be in Massachusetts soon, but I had no idea about his Connecticut stops.

Believe it or not, I had his, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" album in my car, along with the album artwork booklet and everything.

When I got to the store it looked pretty packed, but certainly not unreasonable. After asking a store worker, I found out that they had the event set up where you would go about 5 at a time into the store, pick the bottle(s) you want, cash out, then get into the signing line. The process was slow, but at the same time worked for this particular store, and kept things in order.

I think I got to the front of the line by about 7:30, and noticed that they were taking your unsigned bottle, giving you a pre-signed bottle of the same variety, and letting you take a picture with 50. After I got my picture taken with him, I pulled out my CD booklet, and he took it and signed it with no problem. He didn't say much to anyone at all during the whole experience, but all I really cared about was getting one of my oldest CD's signed. I have had this album since 6th grade, which is 10 years ago now, and it was just crazy that I happened to have it in my car. It was also just awesome that a rap icon who I've listened to for so long was so close to my house. I love last minute signings(well, when I'm prepared).

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Best Selling Author James Patterson 6/17/15

Last Monday I was walking back from lunch at work and I saw James Patterson's face on the wall. The sign was an ad for an event happening the next day in Hartford to benefit the Mark Twain House. It caught my eye because I'm a huge James Patterson fan, and I especially enjoy his Alex Cross series.

Seeing how this was to benefit a really great cause, and he is my favorite author not named J.K. Rowling, I decided to buy tickets online. On the page, there was a line about a book signing after the lecture, so I was happy that I didn't have to try for him outside. As much as I love doing this, sometimes it just takes too much time these days!

After I bought the tickets, I went out to a few stores to find some cheap books in good condition(while I have read a ton of his books, they have all been in e-book format). I ended up getting 8 books total. I was going to this with my girlfriend, so 8 really isn't too crazy of a number. Also, while the event was for a good cause, it was pretty pricey, so I wanted to get as many books signed as possible.

The lecture itself was very good, but a little long in my opinion. It went an hour and a half, but had some really good moments in which Patterson showed a sense of humor and a passion towards education.
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As we were getting in line after the talk, the people running the event said you could have one personal item signed, unless you bought one of the books they were selling. I probably would have bought one of their books because they were only $10, but I couldn't justify buying a 9th or 10th book, and their selection wasn't fantastic. By this point though, my readers know that I'm pretty good at this, and most 'graphers know that you shouldn't take out extra items until the last minute, and by doing that I was successful.

Between us, we were able to get 5 books signed including a First Edition, "Along Came a Spider", which is one of my favorite books of all time!

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The only even slightly disappointing part about the night was that I found out that the Mark Twain House had held this same event last year with Dan Brown, and in 2013 with Stephen King! I literally lived 2-3 streets away from the venue last summer, so I was shocked that I never heard about the Dan Brown event.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Baseball 'graphing April/May 2015 (Mike Trout, Rusney Castillo, + much more)

This April and May I was able to make it to four baseball games despite having finals,  graduating college, and working. While not as frequently attending games as in past years, the quality of the players I met was really great, and I was able to bring my total of Red Sox players I've met to 141!

In this entry, I'll be going in chronological order of when I attended games to recap my solid month.

April 24th/25th Red Sox @ Orioles in Baltimore

This was a very interesting trip, because it was in the middle of the riots in Baltimore. We actually were held in the stadium on the 25th because the riots had made their way to the perimeter of the stadium. Luckily, the game went into extra innings so we didn't have to wait after it was done.

I was able to get a few autographs on the 24th, but none on the 25th.

The Red Sox were very tough inside the stadium on this trip. I was actually  only able to get two different players.

The first guy I met was catcher Sandy Leon. While he isn't the most exciting player on the team, he represented a new Red Sox to add to my list, so I was happy nonetheless. I was able to throw a ball to him during batting practice when he was standing in the dugout. I was hoping to add more players to the ball since it was just signed by Leon, but I can do that eventually.

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The other player I got to meet was pitcher, Justin Masterson. Justin has always been one of my favorite players, as well as one of the nicer guys in the league. I hadn't met him since 2008, so I was happy to catch up with him again. I was actually able to make it down to him twice:

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Pawtucket Red Sox Vs. Columbus Clippers(Cleveland Indians) May 14th, 2015 

I don't live as close as I used to so I can't make it to Pawtucket much anymore, but I still try to make it once in a while because the minors are so much easier to 'graph than MLB. 

Pawtucket's club is STACKED this year with Red Sox top prospects and Columbus was in town with a few of Cleveland's top prospects as well.

Before the game, I was able to meet James Ramsey and Top Prospect, Francisco Lindor off of the bus. I had met Lindor a few years ago in AA before he was the Top Prospect. Both guys were extremely nice, especially Ramsey:

James Ramsey:

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Francisco Lindor:
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I showed up late for the PawSox guys coming in, but did see Rusney Castillo who denied the 4 of us waiting when he came in.

I was able to get Henry Owens, who is still one of the Red Sox top pitching prospects inside after the game because he was charting:

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I did pretty well after the game as well.

Clippers wise, I really only needed Charles Nagy who is a UCONN legend, and former MLB pitcher. My friend hooked me up with a card which is seen in this picture:

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Also in the above photo are former Red Sox players Luis Jimenez and Jemile Weeks on the ticket.

I was also surprised to meet Allen Craig who has played on the Red Sox the last 2 seasons.

Finally, Rusney Castillo came out and I was happy that he came over to sign for the few of us left there. A bunch of people had left a few minutes earlier, which was really lucky because I doubt he would have stopped if they were still there.

I had to get him on the baseball with Allen Craig because I ran out of items:

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This ended up being a great day because I was able to meet four Red Sox players that I hadn't in the past.

Red Sox Vs. Angels May 23rd,2015

This was my first time ever 'graphing outside at Fenway, and while it was a long day I feel like I did pretty well although my big catch was inside.

Most Red Sox players denied coming in, but I was able to get a few. Xander Bogaerts only signed for women, and to my surprise, Craig Breslow said he was, "running late".

The first autograph I got on the day was from Junichi Tazawa. I hadn't seen him in a number of years, the last time being when he was in AAA, so it was nice to see him again.

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After that, nearly the entire team came in without signing, so I went over to the Angels side for a while to test my luck there. Nearly entire team came off the bus without signing. The only guy that even acknowledged us was Albert Pujols with a wave/look back.

Chris Ianetta came in with a cab, and despite being right in front of him, even he wouldn't sign.

I decided to go go and get some food, and to my Surprise I saw Rusney Castillo signing. I was able to get through the crowd, and was really happy when he took my baseball and signed it. Even though I had gotten him the week before, it was nice to finally have him on his own baseball.

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After getting some food, I went to try and meet the MLB on Fox broadcasters. Being a big fan of baseball, I was really happy when Joe Buck showed up and was super nice to the few of us who wanted to meet him:

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I never saw Harold Reynolds or Tom Verducci.

Of course the big goal with the Angels in town was to meet the best baseball player in the world, Mike Trout. After he didn't sign off of the bus(as expected), my last chance was inside. I had a number of friends who had bad luck with him all weekend, so I wasn't really sure if I would be able to meet him. During batting practice, I was in the front row, and Trout came over to sign when he noticed a serviceman and some kids nearby. He signed for a kid first, then the serviceman, then me. I felt really lucky, and sometimes luck is what you need to meet the best athlete in any sport. I was pretty shocked that I got to meet him. For the past 3 seasons, I had seen people post their successes with him, and I just never had the opportunity to try with him playing in Los Angeles. I was thrilled that I met him in my first attempt ever, and I still can't really believe it.

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