February 10, 2020 at 8:40 am
So you want to go to Spring Training in Arizona? Well here is the good news, I lived in Arizona for 3 years and have some very helpful hints. Most fans think the games is your best opportunity to meet the players and get that ever so difficult autograph, but there is a much better opportunity to get these. Every morning, once pitchers and catchers report, you can head out to the practice fields and catch the Dodgers warming up, practicing and them signing autographs.
The gates open at 9:00 am but I highly recommend getting there at 8:00 am to be the first in line. The bad news is, you will have to go against allot of what people are called “Re-sellers” or “Merchandise Grabbers” that leave us real, casual fans fighting for an autograph. From my personal experience, the place to be is the right outside of where the Dodgers come to the first practice field. There are a few metal gates that allow the players to walk down, where you can get a casual high five before they practice.
If you are only going for the autographs, then you will be standing in that one spot for 2+ hours and wont catch any of the awesome action. Once again, from my personal experience I l loved going out to the Bullpen sessions and watch Clayton Kershaw throw a fastball and the sound of a ball hitting the leather is something else. You can get excellent pictures of the players and even get lucky enough to talk to the players. I specifically remember Dan Haren and Clayton Kershaw talking to me about a movie they watched the previous night, and yes it was “The Sandlot.” You can also listen in on conversations about baseball and so much more. It is quite the treat.
Now, back to the autographs, this is where the madness begins. Once 11:00 am rolls around the players will begin walking back to the clubhouse and most, not all, but most players will stop and sign autographs. I recommend taking a ball or some sort of photo, allot of the players know who the true fans are and who the “Re-sellers” are. I personally, do not take official MLB balls to get signed, because I wanted these for my personal collection and players know the resell value on a non-MLB ball are not worth allot. I will be honest, I did get Clayton Kershaw and Vin Scully to sign on an official MLB ball. Some players like Justin Turner sign for 15+ minutes, to where others, like Clayton Kershaw may sign for only 5 minutes, really depends on the mood, feel and what the player has to do for the remainder of their day.
Please, treat these guys with respect as they are human beings as well, and if you do not get an autograph, please do not heckle them. There are more opportunities to get autographs as I will explain further on. Once practice concludes, you can go behind the clubhouse and wait for players to exit the facility but I do not recommend doing that. Most players are ready to go get lunch and enjoy time with their families.
Now, for other options. There are about 3-4 practice fields behind the main Camelback Ranch fields where players (most who are on an assignment from injury) go back to play games. These players can range from prospects, to some of our best players. My fondest memory was watching Corey Seager play and I was fortunate enough to have met his grandfather while watching the game. After the game, Corey came up to his grandpa where he introduced me to Corey, and I was able to have Corey sign about 10 items and we talked baseball for around 20 minutes. The backfields had no one back there, I was the only fan along with some family, and at the time Gabe Kapler and Andrew Friedman were also back there, both of whom signed a ball for me and talked to me when they could. This is the hidden gem for me, but once again, you just have to get lucky on who is back there. I was fortunate enough to get the whole 2014 team with the exception of Zach Grienke, because he simply just does not sign autographs.
Once all the days festivities are done, you probably think “Well that was fun, now I have to wait until tomorrow” but allot of the players go out to the Scottsdale Mall, where I got to meet Mark McGwire and Mark Prior and got a photo with them. Player also go to the Outlets in Glendale, AZ at the Westgate shopping center. I ran into Kike Hernandez and his fiancé’ at the outlets. It was really cool to meet them.
I hope this gives you a little bit of insight on opportunities to meet, get an autograph or just get a look at baseball through a different set of eyes. There is a really cool baseball card shop called AZ Sportscards who has cards, balls, photos and mini helmets of your favorite players and teams, and all are great priced.
Spring Training is right around the corner, so stock up, head out to Camelback Ranch and enjoy some Baseball.
February 10, 2020 at 2:45 pm
Being on the eastern side of the Midwest makes it a hard sell to my wife to go to Arizona in the spring! One of these days tho!
Follow me on Twitter @joeynigro44
February 14, 2020 at 3:52 pm
I agree. I was at the first day of practice yesterday and was able to get pictures of some of the team.
Log in to reply.