In which I recap my five days in Clearwater, FL, home of beautiful beaches and the Phillies' training camp. Herein, how I assembled an autograph collection from the radio and TV sides of the Phillies' broadcast team.
See Part One for the backstory, and our experience sitting behind Wannabe Scout Guy.
Getting Signatures with help from Bob. Bob is a long-time Clearwater resident who has been a security guard at Bright House Field for ten years. On our first day, I explained to Bob that, being somewhat of a nerd, I was less interested in signatures from the players, and more interested in one from Phils' radio color-guy Larry Andersen. Bob suggested that would be a little boring, and that I should shoot for the entire team broadcast corps. He told me where to look, where to wait, and I waited. First up was Chris Wheeler, who shook my hand and asked where I was from. In hearing, "Alaska," he shivered, and commented that the 51 degrees at gametime must seem like a summer day, which, of course, it did. Over the next four days, I saw Wheels four times, and each time, he pointed at me, and said something to the effect of, "at least we're not in Alaska!" I'm suddenly filled with love for that man. He must have interacted with hundreds of people, many of whom wearing the same red cap I did, yet he recognized me on sight each time.
Tom McCarthy was next, shivering his way down the stairs in his polo shirt. He had much the same reaction as Wheels did to learning my hometown, but had apparently not planned for the return of the Little Ice Age, forgetting his jacket. He did ask if I used MLB.TV to watch the games, and when I said yes, offered that it was gonna be the next big thing. Interesting.
Then came Gregg Murphy. Who I mistakenly referred to as David Murphy. Sorry Gregg. This left just Sarge and the radio guys. Thursday's game was a bust, but Saturday, Bob sent me down to the top of the dugout, where Sarge and LA were chatting with some fans (I assume). When they wrapped up, I somewhat rudely interjected with "Sarge and Larry, can I get you guys to sign this for a fan from Alaska?" Sarge said sure, and took it, while LA asked where in Alaska I was from. When I told him, he said that Wheels had told him about me (AWESOME), and that he had visited when he was with Seattle; apparently LA has maintained this Alaskan connection since then. Getting to shake these guys' hands was incredibly cool. Sadly, Sarge did not wish me, "Continued Success." I should of worn this.
Getting Scott Franzke's signature required Bob's help again. Apparently being the play-by-play guy requires certain prep work before each game, but Bob went upstairs, and was able to get Scott to Hancock the ball. I wish I could have gotten it from him directly, but nevertheless, it's a great pick, I think. Finally, the Clearwater PA guy was walking by as I was thanking Bob, and he said, "Oh, go get Don to sign it." I don't know his last name, but it certainly completed the sweep.
Now all I have to do is find Jim Jackson somewhere! The only missed opportunity was Scott Palmer. When he walked by, I had no idea who he was. He even stopped to chat with Bob for a minute or so. When he was gone, Bob asked why I hadn't asked him to sign the ball. Oh well.
In addition to being a fun little challenge (and to amusing my wife with my obsession), have perhaps my favorite single piece of baseball memorabilia. Thanks, Bob!
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