Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest 2016

It was back to getting baseball cards signed today, as the Tampa Bay Rays held their annual fan fest at Tropicana Field.

I always look forward to this yearly gathering, mainly for the 40+ retired baseball players who show up and sign for free. Though, many of the same players return year after year, which means less and less new players to add to my collection.
The alumni players are split into 3 groups, each signing for an hour before the next group comes in.
Group 1 

Of the 15 players listed in group 1, I already autographs from 11 of them from previous years. Unfortunately, one of the players listed (Casey Cox) was a no-show. I had ordered a really nice card of him this past Monday night and amazingly it arrived on Friday, just in time for today. Hopefully he'll show up next year.
I still ended up with 4 autographs from group one. Josh Fogg, who spent several seasons with the Pirates and Rockies, was not listed with any of the groups, yet, he was there to sign. He's appeared at these fan fests before, but I just never had a card of him. Thankfully, a fellow collector had extras on him and gave me one.

Here are the aforementioned 4 autographs from that first group.
Mike DiFelice

Brian Stokes

Josh Fogg

Glenn Beckert
I was really happy to get that Glenn Beckert card signed. I bought that card last year anticipating him to be at the 2015 fan fest, but he didn't show up.

I breezed right through the second group. I only needed 2 listed, but one was pushed back to group 3, which meant I was standing in line for 1 guy.
Group 2
Rick Reichardt
Rick Reichardt signed this 1981 TCMA card of players from the 1960s.

I only needed 4 players from the third and final group, which included the last player listed in group two.
Group 3

Bill Stein

Aaron Ledesma 
Seth McClung 
Dewon Brazelton
You have no idea of the fear I had watching Seth McClung sign that 2007 Topps card. Recently, Zach at posted his 2007 Topps autographed cards. However, because of the glossy finish, some of those cards came out very poorly. Luckily, mine came out practically flawless.
I try to stay away from cards with pre-printed signatures on them, but this was the only card that my local card shop had of him.

After the alumni players were finished signing, I decided to walk around to see who else I could get.
I spotted Hall of Fame writer, Peter Gammons doing a Q&A with Rays manager, Kevin Cash and team President of Operations, Matt Silverman. When it concluded, I approached the stage near where Gammons would be exiting.
Peter Gammons
I was fortunate to get him. Security immediately whisked him away when he handed me my card back.

It's not uncommon to see Rays players walking around to different parts of the stadium. They're always with at least 1 security guard who is basically there to thwart people from asking for autographs. While a lot of players won't sign, they do often stop to pose for pictures. There are players that will sign. I was able to find three of them.
Corey Dickerson

Mikie Mahtook

Hank Conger
Coming home with 13 new autographs is a pretty successful day, I must say.
It felt good to get some baseball autographs after spending most of the month of February getting soccer cards signed.


  1. Nice signatures! I'm guessing that some of these guys are present because they live in the Tampa area? I would enjoy getting Wayne Garrett's autograph, but I can only guess why he'd be there.

    1. Wayne was at the very first fan fest 20 years ago. He told me back then that he lived in Sarasota. I would bet that he has been to every fan fest since.
      I'm sure he'll be around next year if you want to send me something to get signed by him.

  2. It was a great day for autograph seekers indeed. You're correct about seeing some of the players wandering around the stadium. Andy Sonnanstine, Seth McClung and Steven Souza spent time on the field with fans at different times during the day. I don't doubt others were spotted doing the same.

  3. Nice signings. There are a few names I'd like to have gotten autographs of if I was there, I think the biggest being Darold Knowles.

    Sounds like a fun time, I hope to go to the Royals Fan Fest one day, maybe even the Cardinals one if I can make it.

  4. I'm glad the '07 Topps turned out for you.

    Looks like the Rays bring in quite an assortment of players. Too bad the current ones are so hard to get. Do they not sign at all or do they charge for them?
    Maybe next year, we can do a Royals/Rays fanfest alumni swap. Like the Rays, the Royals bring in a bunch of the same guys year after year.

  5. The truth of the matter is most of the current Rays players aren't hard to get autographs from. With rare exception the guys sign regularly during the first weeks of spring camp and most continue to be regular signers at Tropicana Field. There are no guarantees you'll catch them at the right time but I can assure you autographs can be had if you're willing or able to spend the time necessary to get your pen in the right place at the right time.


Like This Site on Facebook