Royals FanFest begins today and if you are reading this then you may already be in line so thanks for killing some time with me. I have been to the last two FanFest events and have enjoyed both of them immensely. You will be hard pressed to find this many like minded individuals anywhere else besides at a game. Just like any game you go to you will come away with good memories and I wanted to share some of mine with you.
The Royals had just won the World Series and all of KC was still high on the cloud of euphoria from the win. This meant that there was a lot more people than would have probably been there otherwise. Getting autographs took longer, buying merchandise took longer and just walking around took longer. Taking in everything that was going on was awesome. Every now and then you would hear cheering as an autograph line got Salvy, Hosmer, Perez, or one of the other big name guys. There were lots of interviews happening on the stage with the players.
My first stop was to the Royals Authentics area. I had seen the pictures on-line the day before but I was overcome by the amount of game used memorabilia they had for sale. Jerseys, pants, hats, bats, batting gloves, and even the big 6′ light pole banners that hung around the stadium and the parking lots. Because of the recent World Series win the prices on this stuff was very high but I ended up getting some good items. There was a table with a pile of hats where I found a Johnny Cueto hat. When I got back home I found that he wore it for nearly half of his Royals career including the September 24 win against the Mariners to clinch the Central Division. Later I was able to photomatch it to some Bowman baseball cards too. Also on the table was a hat worn by Ben Zobrist that I picked up and was able to photomatch it to the September 5, 2015 game against the White Sox. I was also able to get a 6′ Alex Gordon banner that now hangs in my fancave. I had been wanting one of those banners for a long time and was happy to pay way to much for it. I picked up some other nice items as well but these are the top items.
I stood in line for five hours to get an autograph from Wade Davis. Yes that is right five hours. In one mostly unmoving line. One guy in front of me was from the same area that Wade is from and came to FanFest specifically trying to get his autograph. That guy was super happy when Wade showed up. Smiling from ear to ear with all of us around him celebrating for him. He also had people in other lines just incase Wade showed up in that area. After five hours in line it was finally my turn to head up to the table. I gave my phone to my son and asked him to take a picture of me and Wade but he did not because we did not look towards him. I guess one needs to look at the person taking the picture in order for them to take said picture. We still laugh about that to this day. I had a ROMLB baseball for Wade to sign and asked him to inscribe the ball with “2015 World Series Champions” he happily obliged.
I met Denny Matthews again as I have met him on several different occasions before. This time I met him not for me but for my sisters. We grew up listing to Denny call games our entire life and the girls are huge fans of his. They were not with me and there were very few people in line so I went over to him and asked him a favor. I asked him if he would make a video for my sisters and tell them hi. To my surprise, he agreed and I got to film him greeting my sisters. The rest of the day I taunted my sisters with a special mystery gift. That evening I sent them the recording and they went nuts. I was the best brother ever! Denny if your out there, Your awesome and Thanks again for doing that!!
My son and I got into our final autograph line of the day and ended up getting Joakim Soria. I was stoked because I had been a fan of his since the Royals got him in the Rule 5 draft in 2006. This always stood out because almost immediately Soria threw a no-hitter in the winter league and bam I was a fan. I had a ball waiting for him to sign and if I had not watched him sign it with my own eyes I would have never known who had signed it.
We then walked around FanFest and enjoyed looking at the Royals Hall of Fame display and meeting and getting our pictures taken with Dave Webster. I know your probably saying who is that but I can almost guarantee you know who he is. If you have ever seen that guy who hangs up the “W” on top of the Royals Hall of Fame after every home win then you have seen Dave. He plays the part Kaycee Baseball aka the “W” guy. Then we took some pictures with cardboard cut outs of the player and enjoyed our time taking in all the activity going on.
As fun as it was at FanFest the best thing about it was that I got to spend some good quality time with my son.
This time I was returning as a seasoned vet and knew what to expect, where to go and what to do. I was alone this time though as my son was not able to come. I spent most of my time in autograph lines getting a mix of top players and prospects autographs. However much like 2016 I made a bee line to the Authentic’s area. First place I hit up was the 6′ light pole banners so I could add to my collection. I got Hosmer and Moustakas banners which were the two that I was wanting. I also grabbed a lightly used Hosmer jersey and a bunch of bobbleheads that I did not have. I then eyed a table with a bunch of game used batting gloves laying on it. After looking through the pile I picked out the ones I wanted. Which were some similar to what Raul Mondesi wore in 2016 and a mystery pair of Franklin branded gloves with no indication of who wore them but looked like one of the styles Salvy wore. I took a chance with them and it paid off. When I got home I photomatched them to being worn by Cheslor Cuthbert on October 2, 2016 in the at bat he hit is 12th MLB homerun of the year and 13th of his career off the Indians Josh Tomlin.
As soon as I was done I went to one of the autograph lines. A couple of Royals alumni were signing autos for the current line so I hoped in the next line. As the time got closer we could her cheers from around the Hall. Other lines were getting the good players. Hosmer at one, Salvy at another, then we hear the all to familiar Moose calls, lucky people. I was hoping for one of those three players. Well maybe next time. Then a miracle happened, the Moose calls kept going and they were getting closer. Could it be? Could it actually happen? Would he come to my line? The Moose calls kept getting closer and then I could see him. He was coming to our line and we all went crazy! I instantly knew what I would have him sign. The 6′ banner I just got would be the perfect thing. When I got up to the table I unrolled the banner and sat it on the table. I asked him to sign it in blue sharpie and pointed to where I wanted it. Not only did he sign it but he signed it with the largest signature I have ever seen. His autograph is nearly as big as my head. Then I broke the rules and asked him for a picture and he said yes. I got really lucky with all of that happening what a great experience. Thank you very much Mr. Moustakas.
At this point I went looking for Hunter Dozier. Thanks to Royals Authentic’s I got the ball that Hunter Dozier hit for his second MLB hit and his first MLB RBI. Before FanFest I had contacted Hunter via twitter and asked if he would sign it for me. To my great surprise he responded and said “Absolutely!”. I found him signing at a table but the line was already closed off so I waited until the end of the line and stood as close to the table as I could. When he was done I got his attention and he signed the ball for me. It was the first time I had a player respond and follow through on what they said. Thank you Mr. Dozier!
The next line I ended up in got me autographs from Alec Mills, Matt Strahm and Kevin McCarthy in two trips to the table. The last autographs I got at this FanFest were that of Danny Duffy and Drew Butera. It had just gone public that Danny Duffy was collecting items to send to Yordano Ventura’s mom. I got just a moment to talk to him so I thanked him for doing that. He told me that it was not supposed to be pubic knowledge so I replied that I was glad it was because that will allow us fans to help out too. He smiled and nodded as I walked off the stage. I had baseballs for both Danny and Drew to sign and asked them to inscribe the ball with “2015 World Series Champions” both graciously added it. Thanks guys!
When I made it to the most somber spot in the hall, the Yordano Ventura memorial, it was already full of things left by the fans. Pictures, letters, stuffed animals, baseballs, flowers and so much more. There were large picture boards on either side of the room for fans to inscribe their name on. In the center there was a pitchers mound with a framed Ventura jersey. In the back were large pictures of Ventura hanging from the celling. This was a great thing that the Royals did for the fans. The fans needed to a place mourn and start the healing process and this was a great spot. I left the items that I had brought, a couple pictures that I took from the last game I saw him pitch and a letter. The room was full of people bearing their raw emotion. There was the lady crying by herself, another person holding a loved one close, and a gentleman saying prayers. It was a somber place and yet it was an uplifting hear warming time.
Here is to new memories that are about to be made. What will this hold for us? How many of us will have lifelong memories made today and tomorrow? I think it will be a great time so go out take lots of pictures, meet new people, and share your experiences. Most of all enjoy it!