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Just as the title says, I collected a bunch of the suggestions from a whole bunch of Reds fans earlier this afternoon. Put together a little jam session for everyone to get them through until first pitch! Get it cranked! LETS GO REDS!

April 22nd, 2013…a date that will live in infamy

Monday, April 22nd, 2013… a date that will live in infamy…the Cincinnati Reds and all of Great American Ballpark was suddenly and deliberately visited by 4 of the Bloggers of http://headfirstslide.mlblogs.com/.

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When I got the email from Richard on Saturday asking if I would be interested in going on a Tour of GABP and watch the game that night, it took less than a minute to quickly punch out a message back and say: Yes, of course! Please take me! I wanna go!

Then the planning began…as an avid autograph collector I had to bring SOMETHING with me in case we had a chance meeting with Joey Votto in a hallway (HAH!) or some other once in a lifetime chance! Pen. Check. Red Sharpie. Check. Blue Sharpie. Check. then it was time to decide wether to bring cards or a ball? Both have pros and cons too numerous to mention here, but I decided to go with cards because I could easily slide them in my pocket! Okay…All set. Oh man I still had the most part of 3 DAYS before the game! Can you say Longest Weekend Ever!??! HAH!

Finally Monday rolls around and We meet up at the ballpark and are greeted by the wonderful Lisa Braun (@lisabraun) who was our guide on a tour of GABP. After a quick stop in her office (loads of cool stuff in there!) we were on our way to get FIELD PASSES!! Whoa! Now, I have posted before about the joy I have getting autographs and even made fun of my wife when she got her first one. I have to say walking down the hallway that led to the very 1st Major League ball field I have ever stood on is a feeling that can not be easily put into words. It just caused me to grin like an idiot, say things like “Wow!”, “There’s Latos!”, “Cingrani!” and other goofy things that I just mumbled.  I was in complete awe of seeing the action so very close!

Once the clouds lifted and I came back to reality, I started trying to figure out how I might be able to obtain a couple of signatures to remember this day by. With cards and Sharpies in hand I stood there watching, waiting and hunting! (LOL!) All of the sudden, the clouds parted…the sun beamed down…and lo’ and behold Todd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21) was walking our way! I scrambled to find a card of “The Toddfather” and when he was in front of me I was able to mumble “Can you sign this?”. He replied “Sure!” Quickly signed my card, thanked us for coming out and moved on to the next person. I was stunned. Speechless. A little giddy…okay ALOT giddy.

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The Toddfather & I

Todd Frazier

Signed in Reds red!

 Then as batting practice was wrapping up my luck doubled! Who should we see coming our way but Zack Cozart! He stopped by to thank us for coming out. Asked if we were having a good time? (All of us were ecstatic of course) He then explained he had a meeting to attend right away but wanted to be sure to say Hi! I took a chance and asked him if he would mind signing a card for me as well? He said “No problem!” BAZINGA!

Zack Cozart

I was 2 for 2!! I was so ecstatic we could have left then and I would have been happy! But NO, there was more to see! We headed over to the Reds Hall Of Fame to see the exhibits there. On the way there it was mentioned that they had a new exhibit called “Signature Reds: A Century of Reds Autographs”. This was AMAZING!!! Worth the price of admission by itself! This is how the Reds explained it:

“In 2013, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum examines the extraordinary history of autographs in “Signature Reds” presented by Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, a special exhibit that explores the autograph phenomenon through the prism of Reds baseball. Highlighted by the display of autographs from virtually every player to wear a Reds uniform since 1920, “Signature Reds” will immerse visitors in the world of autograph collecting while taking them on an unforgettable journey through the last eight decades of Reds history. From superstars to journeymen to players whose careers were measured in single games rather than seasons, “Signature Reds” will include them all. “Signature Reds” will present the largest assemblage of Reds autographs ever made available for public display.”

I went into an autograph coma…there were autographs from almost all of the past Reds and LOADS of other famous sports players, Celebrities, Star Wars actors, Astronauts and so much more. I was stunned once again, it was so cool the way that everything was displayed. I couldn’t think of a better way of organizing and displaying the collection shown there!

After we left that exhibit and moved on through the Hall of Fame I saw many cool things and loved every moment of it. By the time we were done with the Hall it was time to head into the game and enjoy the rest of the night. The rest of the night was so much fun hanging out with the guys from HFS, cheering the Reds, Booing the Cubs and don’t forget WOOING too! LOL! What an amazing day!

As I wrap up this post about a the day that I will not soon forget, I want to thank HFS Richard, HFS Greg, Geoff, Lisa Braun and the entire Reds organization without all of you I would not have had the chance at such a wonderful experience! 

God Bless you all.
– Joe –

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @garpike28

Head First Slide Gets “Field Access”

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I about dropped the phone when I heard the voice on the other end say “Yeah, she really did! She invited US to the stadium before the game on Monday night! You in?”

Uh… SH-YEAH!

The term “Field Access” means different things to different people. Some may see it as an opportunity to rub elbows with the coaches and players. Some people may try to kick up enough warning track dirt onto their shoes that they can brush them off afterwards as a keepsake. For me, it meant that I would (legally) be on the space piece of Earth where my favorite baseball team goes to work.

I’ve been in hundreds of office spaces, but leaving the elevators at the Reds office with Lisa Braun and the other guys from Head First Slide was something different. Even the offices feel like you’re somewhere special. The walls are lined with framed art centered around the Reds and cubical shelving houses bobbleheads and statues of my favorite players. At 4:30, when we arrived, people were hard at work doing whatever it is they were tasked to do, and I was jealous. It must be strange having people be so excited to walk through your workplace like this. I’ll see what I can do about setting up a tour of the sporting goods store if anyone is THAT interested in seeing MY workplace.

Soon after meeting with Lisa and Ellen, we started downstairs to get our security passes. Our camera bags were checked and wristbands and passes were dished out. We were on the move down to the field.

In the dark hallways under the stands we saw the red door frame.  The Clubhouse Door. It was so spectacular that we took pictures in front of it. The other guys may share those pictures, but because of my goofy smile, I won’t. You’ll have to trust me though – as a Reds fan, you’d want your picture taken, too.

We continued on our way around, past the visitors clubhouse and down the hallway towards the field. I think everyone knows that feeling when you’re getting close to something exciting. It’s like waking up on your birthday and knowing that whatever is happening that day is going to be special.  I certainly felt it just getting to the field access door.  Through the door, we ended up near the far end of the visitors dugout. The sun was shining down on the most perfect grass I have ever been within arms reach of. The dirt under my feet felt like no other dirt I’ve walked on. The air was pure and clean. *CRACK* White baseballs shot across the blue sky. People – what I am trying to say is – WE WERE ON THE FIELD!

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Many thoughts ran through my head as we stood there watching Cingrani take swings. Those thoughts had nothing to do with the notebook in my backpocket that I INTENDED to write down things I noticed for the benefit of this post. Those thoughts were also not in the neighborhood of the dozen questions and topics I wanted to talk about with Reds employees, and that’s too bad because Rob Butcher came to welcome us behind the backstop. There are few things more embarrassing than standing there wide-eyed and open-mouthed as someone like Rob Butcher asks if you have any questions, but don’t worry – it gets worse for this blogger later on.

So there we stood, trying to pretend like we belonged. Head First Slide, as a blog, started in the 2012 season, but most of us hadn’t started writing for the website until Opening Day of this season.  To be invited to an event like this after such a short period of time was both amazing and nerve-wracking.  As my head started to clear and I began thinking about how I was going to present this experience to you through the blog, C. Trent Rosecrans came over to say hi (mostly to say hi to Lisa, I think, but I’ll take it as saying hello to us, too). Jamie Ramsey came over (again, probably to talk to Lisa, but we were with her, so I’m counting it). Mat Latos was underhanding balls to some Redsheads kids who were standing next to us by this point. Jay Bruce was balancing a bat on his fingers. A band that none of us had heard of walked behind us. Todd Frazier was “golfing” baseballs to fans behind the rope. Bronson was hitting balls to the left field wall and Shin-Soo Choo was launching them out of the park. Marty came out to talk to Dusty, but I think he really just wanted to show off his shirt to anyone who might see. Things were happening all around us and it was one of the coolest time of my fandom career.

Towards the end of our time on the field, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart both came over to say hi. Admittedly, I am not around Todd 24/7, but I would be shocked if that guy ever has a bad attitude that lasts longer than 5 minutes. He had a smile on his face as he stepped over the rope, twisting a bat in his hand, and said “Hi, I’m Todd” as if he thought we had no idea who he was. He graciously waited while I clumsily changed lenses on my camera for a picture, then signed an autograph for a few fans and moved on. I have a feeling he genuinely enjoys talking to fans when he gets a chance and I think that’s something special.

When we left the field and retraced our steps back to the general population area, we noticed the clubhouse door was open and someone was standing there as if he was holding the door open for us. It was Joey Votto.  We kept walking – all of us trying not to stare at Joey being just a few feet away. As we got closer, Joey looked up and smiled at us. I felt like I had to say something back to him – you know, just to be polite. I decided saying “Thanks for holding the door open, but we’re headed this way” and pointing down the tunnel would be an awesome line to drop in this situation. Remember before when I said it “gets worse” for this blogger?!? Yeah, it just did.

I’m not going to keep trying (and probably failing) to explain what it was like to be on the field, so here are a few more pictures of the day. Lisa and the Reds people couldn’t have been more accommodating and incredible throughout the afternoon.  The players went about their business but gave little gestures to acknowledge the fans who came to see them.  The staff at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum was as friendly as you could expect. It’s easy to see why Great American Ballpark is a great place to take your family.

 

 

If you have any questions or comments, want to share your favorite ballpark experience, want to offer up some captions for any of the following photos or feel like making fun of me for my fantastic one-liner to Joey Votto, leave a message in the comment section or find me on Twitter at @GeoffreyHoman.

 

 

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Can I please get your autograph?!?

 

Autograph..Just the very word gets my blood pumping. Anyone who knows me knows that I have been a long time collector of autographs from all sorts of people far and wide. I have collected autographs from actors (James Earl Jones, Betty White) to political figures (George Bush, Newt Gingrich) to baseball players (Todd Frazier, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline) and many other sports figures.

The question about autographs that is hard to answer is “Why does the general public like to get an autograph from what we consider “famous” people?”

 

I have my thoughts on why we chase after those signatures. Maybe it is because for a brief moment we have that cool brush with fame and want something to remember it by. Could it be because we hope that one day the item we get signed might be worth millions (or at least 100s). Another reason might be the historical aspect of meeting a world known political person. Whatever the reason there is and always will be people out there willing to do or pay just about anything for something signed by the person that they look up to. There is a certain feeling connected with obtaining an autograph from a person you admire that is hard to describe.

 

For those who have never participated in one of these in store or public signings, you are missing out.

 

I have seen many people over the years experiencing this autograph joy for the 1st time. One of those moments was when I was with my wife at a Chris Daughtry concert. After the show he came out and signed autographs for a bit. It was so much fun for me to see my wife change from a 20 something woman to a 13-year-old girl before my eyes. I knew that feeling…I had felt that feeling many years before that night.

 

I have an incredible memory of the time way back in 1990 when I met Ken Griffey Jr. at a card show in my hometown of Grand Blanc, Michigan. Our local card shop was putting on a card show at the high school and was selling tickets to meet Mr Griffey for $5.00. (I know! Only $5.00! Whoa!) I was 13 years old at the time and I remember the feeling of excitement while waiting in the line getting closer and closer to Mr Griffey. My palms were sweating, my knees were weak…I was so nervous because this was my first brush with a celebrity. I remember walking up to the table when it was my turn, handed him my 1990 Fleer RC and stood there in awe as he signed his beautiful flowing signature in bright blue sharpie across my bright white and yellow card.  He asked; How I was doing?  Did I like baseball? Was I enjoying the show and collecting cards? All I think I could say was “Yeah…Thank you!” and I walked away from the table with my card in hand. I was hooked. Completely addicted to the autograph high. This sort of high is not something that I could explain too well, it has to be felt.

 

I hope that if there is anyone out there that you are a fan of, you just admire, or love their contribution to the world today that you get a chance to meet that person, shake their hand and maybe, just maybe, get an autograph to remember that moment by. Life has a lot of moments that we think are special but you will always remember your 1st autograph!

 

Feel free to leave a comment of your 1st autograph experience.

 

-Joe-

 

Follow me on Twitter: @garpike28