If there was ever anything that would get me back to this blog, it was yesterday’s 2009 Florida Marlins Fan Fest and an eagerness for the brand new season filled with fresh faces and hope. Despite the many efforts of others (Wax Heaven, Dinged Corners, etc.) this economy had me worrying about only one thing since the day my husband became unemployed. I could not longer focus on baseball, writing, or other joys in my life. I had to concentrate on work, especially after the major “Black Friday” held at my company where about 30 people were laid off in one day. I needed to prove my worth, and when it came down to it, I was one of the valuable players and have been ‘guaranteed’ employment.
Like usual, the day began early for us. We arrived at the stadium at 8:30 am. Andrew Miller walked around early morning and passed out free donuts, and surprisingly enough, he remembered us! As usual, it was deserted until about a 1/2 hr prior to the Fan Fest beginning and 2009 tickets going live. The ticket lines were filled with Yankee fans that couldn’t wait to get their hands on tickets for Father’s Day weekend when the New York Yankees will get shut down by the Marlins :). I purchased my two tickets and then quickly rushed inside.
Compared to last year’s Fan Fest, this year’s was a bit less organized. It was held ON the field, versus outside of the stadium, which was simply awesome, but very chaotic. For the first time, fans could access practically every part of the stadium with out security chasing them down, and if you were V.I.P. you were spoiled beyond belief.
All the Marlins players (with the exception of a few) were friendlier than I could have ever imagined. For the most part, they were happy to be there and each took as much time as they could to sign for and pose with everyone. Some went out of their way (John Baker, Ricky Nolasco, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu) and some just couldn’t be bothered (Chris Volstad, Wes Helms).
I’ve learned that the majority of people that were there were only interested in one thing. An autograph. The moment a certain popular player would emerge, everyone’s animal instinct would come out and the area would suddenly turned into a mosh pit. I was waiting patiently for Gaby Sanchez to sign my bat, when Hanley Ramirez came out and I knew my life was over. I was at the very front of the stage the players were on, and there was a huge mob behind me. This was just not good. People were pushing, shoving, stepping on, falling on, leaning on, elbowing, punching, you name it!
At one point, a very large man put all his weight on top of me, crushing me, stepping on me and scratching my arm so hard that I immediately started to bleed. He didn’t even so much as apologize or make sure I was okay. So, I took matters into my own hands and nearly knocked the wind out of him when I socked it to him in the ribs. I was sick of people thinking they could get away with treating each other like garbage and harming each other physically for a measly signature. Children were getting stepped on and punched. If it wasn’t for the fact that I loved my bat so much, I would have smashed it up against someone’s head. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior.
Despite my little altercation, I was able to meet Burke Badenhop which made my day because he is also another very nice Marlin. After meeting him, Mario and I ventured into “back stage” to see if we could track down any other Marlin’s whose signatures I needed. We struck up a conversation with two girls who were desperately looking for Dan Uggla. After asking one of the women that escorted the players around the field if Dan was still there and not receiving the answer they hoped for, they decided they would leave. They gave us their “VIP” passes (season ticket holders were the only one’s able to receive those) and she told us about a special party going on up stairs.
Mario and I made our way up and our eyes widened when we saw who was at the party. Andre Dawson was just leaving, as was Brett Carrol, but Alfredo Amezaga, Cody Ross, Cameron Maybin, Jeremy Hermida… they were all there and there was no one nearby to tell you to leave them alone. They were all socializing with fans, signing, posing, and having a good time! We were able to gain access as I guilted the woman at the table to let us in. (You needed a company name to enter and the girls didn’t provide us with one) It was the most amazing scene. For once, you could approach these players with out a large mob. I was finally able to calmly meet Hanley Ramirez and other ‘hard to access’ players. If we had these passes from early morning, I doubt we would have left the room and I highly doubt I would have gotten into that altercation earlier in the day.
Like annoying party guests, we were the last ones to leave the V.I.P. party room. We made our way down stairs at 6:00 pm to watch the grand finale- – fireworks. It was an amazing 10 hour day. We accomplished a lot, met practically the entire team, and left with ear to ear grins on our faces. The Florida Marlins may not be an ‘amazing all star’ team, but we have relatable players that care about their fans and take the time to show them that.
I can’t wait until Opening Day!