Monday, July 30, 2007

Cooperstown = Friday

So it's 6am in Cooperstown and there's absolutely nothing to do. I was desperately in need of something to drink. Unfortunately, the local CVS didn't open until 8am. They had 32 ounce bottles of Powerade on sale for $1.08. It was by far the best deal in Cooperstown all weekend. I think i had 5 bottles in the 3 days. My meals consisted of Powerade, bottled water, and pizza. I had a slice for lunch and then again for dinner every day. Good stuff. I didn't have anything to do until about 9:30am, so I just strolled around town, back and forth between the players' hotel and downtown Cooperstown. It was good exercise.
At 9:30, Ozzie Smith had his yearly "Play Ball With Ozzie Smith" event. They raise money for education. If you ask me, it's a huge waste of dough. I think was between $750-1000 per person. Here's the short of it. Ozzie is there along with George Brett, Ryne Sandberg, Brooks Robinson, and Earl Weaver. They split them up into 5 groups and each group spent about 15-20 minutes with each guy at their respective position, with Weaver's time being spent in the dugout. After each group has visited each guy, they take everybody's picture with the group of HOFers. After that's done, each person gets to turn 2 double plays. Brooksie was hitting grounders to second and to short, you'd field the ball and flip it to Ozzie or Sandberg, who'd in turn throw it to Brett. Or, Ozzie and Sandberg would field the ball, flip it to you and you'd throw it to Brett. And that's pretty much it. Seems a little pricey, but it all goes to a good cause. After the event concludes, you can occasionally get autos from Ozzie and Sandberg. Ozzie was the only member of the HOF quintet whose autograph I needed. Every year it's a mad house, and every year they do something different to throw the collectors of their game. A few years ago, Ozzie would sign in the stadium on the first base line. Last year, it was behind a barrier out in the parking lot. This year, they came through the front gate, but they had pulled up the minivan that would take them back to the hotel and it was parked about 5 feet from the entrance. About 10 people could fit in each side of the car and I wasn't one of them. As soon as a guy left, everyone would converge on top of the guy. I'd say that Brooksie, Sandberg and Smith each signed maybe 3-5 things each. And I was again left out. What a waste of time. It's the last time I try.
I met up with some other collectors later who were at the golf course during Ozzie's event. I guess that was the place to be. Eddie Murray, Steve Carlton and a few others signed stuff. I was again in the wrong place. Next year, I'll know where to be.
Ozzie's event concluded around 11:30. I needed to get some paid autographs at a show at 3:30pm and my options were to stay in town around the hotel, or head up to the golf course. I decided to stay in town and loiter around the hotel. It wasn't long before the rains came and that kind of put a damper on things. My thought process was that the no one would golf in the pouring rain (they didn't), so the only real option was waiting in town.
I pretty much again just walked around and waited for the paid signings to start. I had already purchased tickets for signatures from Duke Snider and Brooks Robinson (for my brother in law). And that reminds me, on Thursday I did pick my brother-in law Mike up a paid autograph from Yogi Berra. I decided that I also wanted to pick up something from Tom Seaver. I saw this guy I met from Rochester in line for tickets. It was a huge line and he was 2nd in it. I asked him to get the ticket for me. He did, and it saved me a lot of time as Seaver's session had already started. This guy, Doug, was getting tickets for he and a friend of his and the total came to over $1000. When you spend over $1000 you get a VIP ticket, which basically puts you at the front of the signing line. They usually go in sequential order. It was a mob scene on the steps of the place they were having the session, so he went around to the back. He let me piggy back on the VIP pass, so I got to walk right in and knock those signatures out 1-2-3. It took about 10 minutes as opposed to what I would guess would have been 45 minutes or so. So Doug, if you read this, which I doubt you will, thanks!
After that, the rest of the day was pretty much a waste. Since it was raining, there wasn't much going on. I wandered around, checked out some shops, and loitered again around the hotel. On Friday night, the HOFers all attend a private dinner a few miles out of town. They all board a minibus and are chauffeured out to the location. Since they're all gone, it's usually an early night. I called it a day around 10pm and I drove my car up to a trolley lot near the golf course to catch some winks. It was again another restless night. I had listened to a little of the Yankees game since I couldn't fall asleep. I heard them lose. Bummer. There was also a lot of activity in the lot because that's where the minibuses waited to pick them up. I had my alarm set for 4:30am and I estimate that I got about 3-4 hours of sleep. I woke up before the alarm, took another "shower," and drove about 1/4 mile to the spot I hang out on when at the golf course, hoping that today would bring some better luck.
So Friday was pretty much a bust, mainly because of the rain. I wasn't too bothered by the shutout as last year all I had gotten for free by Friday night was George Brett and George Kell. The action really heats up on Saturday morning. I'll have that write up posted shortly. To read Thursday's recap, click here or scroll down.