On Friday, I attended Royals Fanfest. This is the fourth Fanfest that the Royals have hosted and by now, you would think that they would know how to handle these things. By looking at the overall big picture, maybe they do have a decent idea of what they are doing. But, I don't look at the big picture. I go to Fanfest for autographs and that is usually the only thing that I am concerned with.
The day started off pretty good as I was able to buy a ticket voucher from another fan for five dollars less than the ticket price. Then, while waiting for the ticket booth to open, I found a ticket on the ground on the way back from the restroom. I asked some people nearby if they had dropped their ticket and everyone said no. So, it only cost nine dollars to get in rather than the twenty-eight dollars I was expecting.
Once the doors opened, I scoped out the three autograph stations. The Royals never announce who is going to be signing where. But, in the past, I have usually been able to find a couple of people in charge that have master lists. On Friday, I couldn't find anyone with a master list. In fact, I don't think they knew who was going to be signing when. They just kind of threw players out there.
So, I hopped in line at the station with the shortest line. I then had to stand there for about a half hour just to see who was going to walk out to sign at that station. Each station had four chairs at it and I think everyone assumed that there was going to be four players signing at each station. Wrong. I never saw four guys signing at one time the whole day. Most of the time it was two and there were a couple of times with three guys signing.
With only a few minutes left before the first signing, the Royals Tweeted who was signing at each line. I am not that tech-savvy to even bother with Twitter, but there were enough people in line that were and I knew who all was signing at each station. My station had Kevin Seitzer and Luke Hochevar. Another station had Jeff Francis and Ned Yost and the third station had Billy Butler and Mike MacFarlane. Luckily, I had a few things that I needed signed by Hochevar. Otherwise, I might have tried to bail to the Yost/Francis line since I do not have any autographs from either of them (and I still don't).
So, I stayed in my line and I actually had a pretty neat talk with Hochevar about the Brian Bannister card he signed for me (it had Luke's picture on it). After that, I headed over to the Francis/Yost line and they were not letting anyone else in the line. I then headed to the Butler/Mac line and it was the same thing. They had been signing for fifteen minutes and over half the line had been through, but they wouldn't let any more people in. By then, I was pretty hot and I started bitching to one of the staff about how ate-up this year's autograph lines were. I know he wasn't in charge of any of that and he was probably just a volunteer as it was, but I was frustrated and I need someone to vent on.
After that, I went to the fourth autograph station, the alumni station. I decided to see who was going to be there before I got into one of the main lines. For that line, Jamie Quirk and Shane Halter were the signers and I perked up a bit. Shane was the only Royal alumni there that had never been to Fanfest before, so he was a new autograph for me. Quirk, on the other hand, has been to every Fanfest and I have quite a few signatures for him. But, I had a Orioles Crown card of him that Ryan, from the Great Orioles Autograph Project, needed for his collection. Ryan sent me one to get signed last year and I wasn't able to come through for him. So, I bought my own this year and was going to surprise him with it until we ended up working out a little Fanfest trade. But, I got the card signed and I was happy for the first time that day since I found a free ticket. After that, I just took Fanfest for what it was and I quit acting like an ass.
The only good thing about the autograph lines is that a new session started every hour. The bad thing was that only 150 people were going to get autographs at each session. It didn't matter if it took fifteen minutes to get 150 people through or the whole hour, they were just signing for 150 people. In the first two Fanfests, they had the players all sign for one hour and only the first 150 or 200 people were guaranteed an autograph. But, if all those people had made it through and there was still time left, they would let some more people into the line. When they did it that way, I was able to go through two lines for every session during peak hours and then hit all three lines during the last couple of sessions.
Lucky for me, attendance was way down at Fanfest this year since there was no Grienke or Dejesus and George Brett wasn't signing. Because of that, I was actually able to sit down and chill for a bit instead of standing in lines non-stop. I would go through one of the lines and then go check some other things out or sit down before hopping in the next line just before it filled up. The lines usually filled up about fifteen minutes before the session began. So, if you waited for the Royals to Tweet who was going to be at each line five minutes beforehand, it wouldn't matter because you weren't going to be able to get into the line you wanted. Plus, I heard some people say that they quit Tweeting after the first few sessions. If there had been as many people there this year as there was last year, it would have been impossible to get into one line every hour. You would have had to get in line for the first session and while you were going through it, the line for the second session would have filled up and you would have been stuck getting in line for the third session and waiting two hours for it to open. So, thank you Royals fans for not coming out on Friday.
All in all, I came home with thirty-nine signed cards, including four of the five game-used cards I took with me. Because of the random selection of who was signing where, there were I some guys I never got a chance to see while other guys appeared at my session more than once. But, what can you do?
There was one bright spot at Fanfest and it was totally unexpected to me- the Royals Charities store. That place had some deals there as well as some great memorabilia at affordable prices. They had left over promo t-shirts that were $2 and they were buy one get one free. They had banners that hung from the light posts around the stadium that were $10. They had used Spring Training hats for $5. They had broken bats for $25. They even had game-used jerseys for $30! Most of them were nameless Spring Training jerseys, but they were only thirty bucks. I'm a pretty big boy, so I didn't look through the jerseys much, but I did see a signed Anthony Larew authentic road jersey. If I knew that they were going to have that much awesome stuff there, I would have came a little better prepared.
But, I did get a few things.
My main prize was the Majestic Royals jacket that has removable sleeves. I looked at one briefly last year, but I wasn't about to drop the $80 that the Royals gift shop was asking for them. I got mine for $40. I also got the 2008 holiday hat and that only set me back $5. I bought a Royals 1980 AL champions coaster set for $2, a beanie for $1, and all of those signed Royals postcards for $1. Not too bad of a pull, in my opinion, for $49.
I ended up losing my beanie at the convention center, though. The one pictured was a freebie for signing up for a contest that was sponsored by Sprint.
If next years Fanfest is anything like this years, I may say "screw the autographs" and go just to check out the Royals Charities store. I could use a new used jersey.