Alright I often talk about how much I love my job and how great it is, and today I would like to tell a short story about something that I got to do because of my job that I would never have been able to participate in otherwise. For at least the last 2 years, the Seattle Mariners have put together a little thank you for their front office employees. They gather all the players and coaches put them in one of the Safeco Field conference rooms and put together an autograph signing prior to a game. The only stipulation is if you attend you must get a signature from everyone. Absolutely everyone, from Lee Tinsley to Ken Griffey Jr. it doesn't matter what they sign just that they sign something. this truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity because while it has become somewhat of a tradition you never know if management will decide they don't want their players to do this because it takes their focus away from preparing for the game or some other excuse.
Last year I was able to get my boss to have my favorite player, Adrian Beltre, sign something for me, which was a real treat. This year though went above and beyond.
A few months ago my boss received an email with the date and time of the signing (July 11th, 2:00) saying that he was invited along with a guest to attend. Of course I figured he was going to attend, I just started thinking about who I wanted to get a signature from again this year. When he RSVP'd that it would be him and a guest, I was curious who his guest was so I could maybe ask them from a signature or two as well. So I start talking about it with Wes and I ask if he knew who he was taking and he kinda knew what I was hinting at and so he just said "Allen, would you like to be my guest?" with a mischievous smile on his face. I really couldn't tell if he was joking or not but I still said yes. He then said he was planning on selling the pass but that he would really like it if I went with him.
I was ecstatic and pretty much talked to everyone on the staff about how I was going and how great it was going to be. I wouldn't shut up about it. I'm convinced that they were all both really jealous about me going and really annoyed that I kept talking about it. thankfully I was kind enough to return the favor that Wes and Brent did for me last year by offering them one signature. Sure I lost some of my favorite players in that deal (Kenji, Lopez, and Felix) but it was still the right thing to do.
I looked forward to the July 11th date with the glee of a child awaiting santa on Christmas. I made lists of who's signatures I wanted, what I wanted them to sign, and how I would handle the people I didn't really care that much about (I love ya Chris Woodward but I really couldn't care less about your autograph). I debated on what I was going to get signed by some of my favorite players right up until the day of the event. I knew the vague details of what I wanted: a Game used bat, 3 baseballs (one for the players I don't care about, one for the bullpen, and one for the managers. apparently I'm too OCD to just put them all on one ball), photographs, mini batting helmets, and the absolute must have: a framed photo of Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro celebrating Ichiro's game winning Grand Slam earlier this season. After my discount everything totalled a little over $250 but again completely worth it as the value on most of the items immediately increased once pen was put to it (though I would never sell them, it's how I managed to convince myself to buy them).
Once Wes and I got there we found out the details of how it works. There are 17 tables. Each table has generally 2-3 players or coaches at them. You start at a randomly assigned table and rotate through numerically. Wes and I started at table 3, and ended at table 2. Simple. Concise. Trouble first started when they announced that about half of the players were stuck in traffic from the Sounders game that started at 1. Just another reason why I hate soccer. So they pushed back the start time to 2:15. Then as if the flood gates had opened the players and coaches began to filter in. Well all of them except our table. No they were another 10 minutes late so we kinda caused a log jam of sorts behind us. It took about 2 hours to make our way through all of the tables. Everyone was nice and polite, Mike Sweeney took time away from his DL stint to sign for us which was unexpected but cool nonetheless. He was seated with Griffey and proceeded to show extra attention and praise to the parents and children that attended, which was great to see. Carlos Silva also took time to join us and sat with Felix. most of the pitchers sat together actually and they had their own brand of fun. On more than one occasion I saw them throwing sharpies at another table full of pitchers. Very cool.
One last story to tell happened at the end of the event, Erik Bedard, who has a reputation through the press as a bit of a stick in the mud, was seated with Russell Branyan. As the clock ticked towards warm ups, Russell turned to Erik and tried to rush him through the last bit of attendees. Erik, who for those unaware is a starting pitcher which means he only pitches every 5 days and his next scheduled start was Sunday, turned to Russell and said "why do I need to hurry? I've got nothing better to do. you're the one with a game to play." Too funny.
Like I said this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so glad that I had the chance to participate in. I can't thank Wes enough for allowing me to go with him. So thank you Seattle Mariners for reminding me that sometimes working for a baseball team has it's perks.