Monday, October 3, 2011

1994 Fleer Procards, Doug Sisson

#3402 Doug Sisson

Here is the second card of Doug Sisson that I was able get signed at the Royals last home game of the season. The first one can be seen here.

I wrote a good deal about Doug on his previous post, so I am going to write about something different this time around. For this post, I am going to write about my experience autographing at that final game. And I will say that it certainly was a new experience for me, both good and bad.

For starters, my plan for the final game was to get to the park early enough to get autographs as the players arrived at the ballpark. I hadn't made it up to a game this year to 'graph the parking lot and I was hoping for a large haul as I have always done well there in the past. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to leave early enough to take full advantage of that, but I was there early enough to catch some of the late stragglers.

As soon as I got to the park, I saw Melky Cabrera about to enter the park and I asked him to sign. He just ignored me and went on his way. No big deal. But then, a Royals parking lot attendant came up to me and told me that I was in a "no autograph zone". I gave him my best "are you serious?" look since I have gotten 'graphs there more than a few times over the past couple of years. He kept talking a bit, but I just ignored him and waited for him to leave on his golf cart.

The next thing you know, a cab pulled up and out walked the Tigers Will Rhymes. I went up to him and asked him to sign and he signed my two cards for me. By the time he entered the park, a Royals employee came out of the park dressed in suit and tie and said to me "you do realize this is a no autograph zone, don't you?". I was just like "wow, they are serious about this".

He gave me a map of the two spots that were allocated as "autograph zones" and went on to tell me that it has been this way for a few months. I asked him why they changed things and he said it all happened during the Red Sox and Yankees series because they had some issues, but he wouldn't get into any specifics. So, I just said whatever and went to hang out with the guys in the "autograph zone". It then dawned on me why I was the only person trying to get Will Ryhmes' autograph.

Over in the "autograph zone", I started to get some feedback from the other 'graphers about what had happened. They said it all started with someone tying to get Melky Cabrera's autograph. When he declined to sign, one person started talking smack and bringing up a past DUI infraction or something. I guess Melky got kind of heated over it and that is what started it. The same guy then pulled the same stunt with a couple of other players and rather than dealing with the problem, the Royals got all drastic and divided up the outside of the park like a post Desert Storm Iraq.

Now, when a Royals player parks in the players lot, he has two options. The first option is to take the underground tunnel into the park. This seems like the longer route and it is usually utilized by the early arrivers. In this scenario, the player walks by the first designated "autograph zone", but he can still be about fifteen feet from the fans if he doesn't want to sign.

In the second scenario, the player parks in the lot and then walks across a small public lot to the park. At least that was how the scenario used to play out. Now, when they leave the lot, they are picked up by the lot attendant in the golf cart and are dropped off at the "no autograph zone" main entrance. From what I could gather from the other disgruntled 'graphers, the Royals encourage the players to ride the cart rather than walking.

So all in all, my experience outside of Kauffman Stadium was rather unpleasant and not at all fan-friendly. I hope that they can get something figured out in time for the All Star game next year or they are going to be in a world of hurt.

So, while I was all bummed out by that experience, another 'grapher told me about the "early bird tour". He said that it was basically a trimmed down ballpark tour, but it is usually dominated by 'graphers who just went down to the dugouts for Royals batting practice. It cost ten dollars a head, but it got you into the ballpark an hour earlier than everyone else. So, I went ahead and bought a pair.

For some reason, I had never heard of this option. But, even though it cost as much as tickets to fanfest, I enjoyed the "early bird tour". For one, I got to see the Royals entire batting practice. It has been some time since I have been able to see that at home.

But more importantly, it allowed me to get some much needed Royals autographs that I wouldn't be able to get if I waited for the gates to open (like this card). When the gates usually open, Royals batting practice is almost finished and I always head to the visiting team side. But with the "early bird tour", I was able to 'graph the Royals while I had my dad saved me my spot on the visiting team side. I'm not sure if it was really worth twenty dollars, but it was the final game of what has been a crappy autograph season for me and it turned out for the best.

Here are my rankings of the new autograph policies at Kauffman Stadium.

Autograph Zones: Thumbs down. Hopefully, they will come up with a happy compromise before next year.

Early Bird Tour: Thumbs up, as long as you are not expecting an actual tour.

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