Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cooperstown Saturday = Part 1

So it's 4:30 in the morning, it's dark, and I'm alone in a wooded area. For fear of a masked serial killer lurking in the woods, or maybe even Bigfoot, I thought I'd sit in the car and wait for another to arrive in hopes that maybe they had a flashlight. A car showed up a few minutes after I did, and they too were flashlightless. It was a group of 4, and we all walked up the gravel hill to the spot on the course they let you stand. Usually, people sleep out up there, but I think the rain chased them away because we were the first to arrive. All you can do is pick out what you hope is the best spot. When the guys sign it's not for long and where they sign depends a lot on where the stop the cart. They also could stay in one spot, or move toward you or away from you. There's no sure spot. You can only hope for the best, but being in the front is definitely a bonus.
I plopped down in my chair and tried my hardest to take a nap but that wasn't happening. It started to rain and out cam the umbrella. Tee off was scheduled for 9am, or so we thought. It was now about 5am. I thought about breaking out my iPod, but i just sat there and waited, talking with the others that were there. People showed up pretty steadily and a pretty good sized crowd was forming. The rain broke at about 7:45 and it looked like it would be a good day to golf.
The first group that showed up took everyone by surprise as it was 8:30 and last year it started at 9am. Carlton Fisk rolled up in his cart and everybody was digging for their Fisk items. I got Fisk there last year, so I didn't rush over to where he was signing. The trick to getting Fisk is to bribe him with a stogie (I hear he likes Romeo and Julietas). He usually signs for those that have them. He'll take it from you and then sign. His golf mate for the day showed up a few seconds later. It was none other than the Chairman of the Board. Now I already have Whitey Ford's autograph as I paid for it last year, but being a Yankee fan, I'd get it again. Whitey doesn't usually sign, but today he did. Maybe it was because Fisk was signing (Whitey usually plays with Yogi--who doesn't sign) or maybe it was because he was teeing off on our hole first and the outing hadn't started yet. Since everyone was over for Fisk, it was pretty easy to get Whitey. Usually when a guy signs, everyone that's not in the front tries to push and wiggle their way to the front and it's just a giant mob all pushing forward. If you're in the front, like I was, you're bound to get smushed. It was refreshing to get Whitey no problem. It was a good way to start the day.
The next autograph I got was from Reggie Jackson. Whenever Reggie is around fans clamoring for his autograph, you never know what to expect. Reggie gets out of his cart, looks at the 50 or so hawks and says "silence works." So everybody steps up and Reggie takes one step forward and then some idiot says "Reggie, over here." Mr. October takes one step backwards and says, "I guess I didn't make myself clear. Silence works." So everybody goes silent. Reggie takes 2 steps forward and someone again opens up their yap. Reggie takes 2 steps back and says "What part of silence works don't you understand? That's strike two." He steps forward to the makeshift fence and starts to sign, and finally everybody kept their mouth shut. He signed for a few minutes and I was one of the lucky ones. It wasn't his best signature, but it's Mr. October. I had to get it.
As the minutes passed and the golfers drove away, there were several guys that signed. I ended up getting signed balls from Wade Boggs and Robin Yount. I missed out on Jim Palmer (he only signed for those wearing Orange), and Eddie Murray (I had to run down the hill and around some trees for his and he left for the tee as I was next in line). A lot of guys signed, but I already had them so I stepped out of the mob and let the vultures have at it.
I didn't need the last 3 guys that were scheduled to come through our whole (the staff is kind enough to give us a list of who tees off where) so I left early to drive to town, only to find an absolute wall of people. I knew I'd have to pay to park on someone's lawn. I was about 1/2 mile or so out out of town and dropped 25 bills to park in a lumber yard. But that was to be expected.
Saturday was a long day so I'll break this up into 2 parts. That will follow a little later on. If you missed any of the previous installments, here's Thursday's and Friday's recap. Or you can just scroll down.