This Tuesday night we attended the “Angels VIP Experience” we won in a grab bag purchased at the Angels for Animals fundraiser last month. Twenty of us lucky folk met our Angels rep Lindsey under the hats at 3:45, she took us to the Diamond Club patio where 5 players were available to meet and greet…
Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo, Hank Conger and Mike Trout were there – our next World Series team! They didn’t have a lot of time since Mike had called a meeting before the game (thanks, Mike) but they did their best to chat and make sure everyone got the photos and (limit 2, please) autographs they wanted. My recollection of the very brief meetings:
Howie is a very, very nice man. He kept thanking the people for supporting his wife Jody’s fundraiser (she led the event which supports the OC shelter and several rescue and spay/neuter groups). He liked the fact that we have a rescue dog, and he noted the lens I was using is one of his favorites – he’s a Canon shooter too. He seemed to be enjoying himself; he was there first and stayed longer than all the others.
While Howie was busy with other people, Mike Trout walked up with his hand outstretched, “Hi, I’m Mike Trout”. Maybe he’s not used to everyone knowing who he is - yet. I asked if he was starting, he said ‘no’, I said “Ah, crap!” and he had a little chuckle. He seemed to enjoy meeting us and chatting, if he wasn’t a baseball player he could probably be a politician.
Mark Trumbo kind of appeared next to me – I had previously thought I’d call him the future AL MVP if I met him, but I was surprised by his presence and was just taking in how big the guy is. He didn’t introduce himself, he put his arm around me for a quick picture and I asked if he was going to hit a Trumbomb? He laughed and said he would work on it. Other than that, he didn’t talk much and he seemed a little shy.
Hank Conger came over next, he was also friendly. Shelley’s daughter attended Huntington High, so we had that to chat about. I asked if he was starting (I forgot Wilson is Ervin’s personal catcher) and expressed my disappointment when he said no – he laughed, and fortunately for us we got to see him catch that night anyway.
At this point they started hurrying everyone, so it was appropriate that Peter Bourjos popped over and quickly signed and took pics. He went around making sure everyone got the photos they wanted before he left, he seemed comfortable meeting the people too.
Once the players were on the field they let us sit right behind the Angels dugout, we got to see everyone up close during batting practice. I commented on Torii “holding court” out there and the Angels rep said “He’s the Mayor of Angelville”. Bobby Abreu signed a ball for me. Tim Salmon and Rod Carew were about. A young boy asked Russell Branyan to sign a ball and instead Russell signed his bat and handed it to him!
There was a small Japanese press contingent, probably because Ichiro was there. Some kids tried to get his autograph but they wouldn’t even let them near the Mariner’s dugout. And let it be noted that while our guys did regular, manly stretching exercises, the Mariners did some girly-looking arm-flapping and backward-running as their warm-ups.
It was amazing watching the frenzy of activity going on before the game – the batter’s box being measured and marked, lines and logos painted, dirt spread and smoothed and watered, pre-game interviews – if you live close enough, go to a game as early as possible some time and just watch all the work going on (don’t bother jostling with the autograph nerds who shove their way in front of everyone and harass the players endlessly, even when they obviously do not want to sign another card).
We were allowed to stay behind the dugout after the game started 'until someone comes and kicks you out'. We were lucky to park in the very front row until the third inning. We watched Jeff DaVanon throw out the first pitch to his dad Jerry, who played for the Angels in ‘73. You could tell Jeff was pretty nervous, while his Dad might as well have been out on the golf course with buddies.
After the rightful seat-holders came we went up to the club level where the Angels had provided us seats. I have been to that stadium hundreds of times, and I have never seen the air so absolutely still. The flags hung straight down the entire game. It was hot and humid, our guys made 4 errors, but still we had hope. All during the bottom of the ninth I was set up to take the photo of the run that tied the game – but it wasn’t a picture I would get that night.
I want to give props to the Angels for giving us a very memorable evening at the park, it was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Here is a link to some pictures – it was a bit harried, I was switching from flash to bright sun and didn’t get the color balance set every time, so the reds jump around a little (and I’m not that great with Lightroom yet). I hate posting photos with me IN them (why do you think we TAKE the pictures?) but if I’m going to post everyone else, then it’s only fair. At least I can say if a picture of me isn’t good - I didn’t take it!