A buddy of mine has season tickets for the local Single A Mariners farm club in Everett, WA. and apparently each year they hold a meet & greet BBQ for the season ticket holders. They hold it at the stadium, offer a spread of BBQ fair (burgers, dogs, chips, potato salad, cookies, soda), introduce the staff and team one by one and then the players sign autographs for the fans. It was a very nice program, order was well maintained and not too many folks there, so it was not overcrowded. This was all at no extra cost for the ticket holders, other than them buying the ticket package each year. His wife could not make it this year, so he invited me to attend in her place.
Unless you are on top of the latest prospects, most of these guys are going to just be names you have never heard of. Maybe every year, one or two guys eventually makes the big club and even less often, a future star (Felix Hernandex, for example) comes through in the very early stages of his career. As they introduced the mostly teenage athletes, you couldn't help but wonder who might be a big name some day.
One of the last team members to be introduced was former MLB player Joe Thurston, who is the teams new hitting coach. For me personally, this added a small bit of excitement, as Thurston played for the Dodgers briefly when he was a rookie. At the autograph session, he was off to the side and was not part of the "production line" of players signing. I walked over and introduced myself and we made some small talk about his new role at hitting coach and how the young team might perform under his tutelage. I then wished him luck for the coming season. I didn't really plan ahead for this event, as I only learned of this yesterday, and also had no clue Thurston was on the staff so I did not end up getting his signature. I have a good number of certified and non-certified signatures featuring him as a Dodger though, so I didn't feel like I cheated myself by not getting one tonight.
My buddy bought a ball before the event and ended up getting it signed by the whole team. This might be one of those years that someone breaks out and I will kick myself for not doing the same, but I only ended up getting one signature from any of the players & staff. I had grabbed a pocket schedule as we entered the stadium as I usually do with those free schedules and ended up having it signed by Cesar Izturis, the son of former MLB player (and another Dodger Alumni) Cesar Izturis. I don't know much about him or his future potential, but it just seemed like the right thing to do after I confirmed they were related. I can only hope that he has a career at least as productive as his father, if not a better one.
This was a nice event, well worth the couple hours spent and the weather couldn't have been nicer. A great way to spend a spring evening, talking baseball!