On Saturday, my Dad, Schuyler, and I went down to the Westchester County Center for a JP's Sports Show! Obviously most of you who have been around this blog for a while know that this is nothing new for us (I actually recently counted, this was my Dad & I's 15th trip), but the day had the potential to be the most special of them all. And in some ways, it was. I didn't plan to do much at the show other than make the most of the enormous fee I had to pay to meet one of my all time favorite players; someone I grew up loving more than anyone with the lone exception of Derek Jeter.
So... Mariano Rivera. When I saw his name grace the JP's Sports lineup for this March Madness show, I was stunned, and even with a lofty autograph price, I knew I had to do what I could to shake his hand. And, that I did. It turns out that Steiner Sports were responsible for the event as I figured they would, given their deal with Rivera that many other big name Yankees have agreed to. On his left sat his Steiner representative while on his right was apparently his agent. They sold 400 autograph tickets to the fans and from what I heard, it sold out relatively quickly. Steiner is awesome when it comes to allowing players to appear for public signings and I think they do a great job with their business, however I knew that I wouldn't get the full experience, even with Mo's wonderful and charismatic personality.
It was very odd seeing Mariano sitting behind a table rather than preparing for the 2014 season. I guess it still hasn't sunk in that the only times "Enter Sandman" will play again in Yankee Stadium are when Rivera makes his occasional returns. Otherwise, I have to say that I was truly honored to watch him play. And with as much as I could've said to the man, between time constraints and nerves, that was about all I could say to him. He thanked my Dad and I and shook Schuyler and I's hands, and it was a short and simple experience. What can you expect from the man who owned the 9th for 17 years?
My biggest complaint from it all was that Steiner pushed us out before we got a chance to take a quick picture with him, and that is something that will bug me until the next time I get to meet him (fingers crossed). I understand that he was scheduled to sign for 400 people in 2 hours, but I don't see why leaning over the table for 5 extra seconds would make for such a big problem.
There is Mariano signing my picture. He was happy and gracious as always, and it was really cool getting to see that up close. I've always admired him for his charity work and contributions to baseball more than his actual performance. He's a larger than life role model for people of all ages, and I have to say seeing him kiss baseball goodbye last year really proved to me how much of an impact he's made on me (hence why I cried like a baby all throughout his final game). Jeter and Mo will always be in a league of their own in my heart as a diehard Yankee fan, and seeing them both make their way out of the pinstripes these past few years has really caught me offguard.
With all of that said, I introduce my latest autograph project, featuring 4 of my all time favorite players. Check it out:
When I got this issue of Sports Illustrated in the mail I absolutely loved the cover, but I didn't think about getting it signed by all four members of the Core Four- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte! I spent weeks weighing my options of what I wanted to get Mariano to sign, but ultimately I felt brave and decided "You know what? Let's get em all!" I ordered an 11x14 copy of the cover on sicovers.com, which came out very nice, but the second I got to the show I saw it as a 16x20 and had to make that mine instead. The guy who sold me the 16x20 is a friend of my Dad and I's, and he was saying that if I were to do that project, it'd come out much nicer on the bigger photo, and I couldn't argue with him on that.
Mariano signed Andy's arm beautifully in blue, and I already have 25% of the project complete! Getting Posada and Pettitte on it shouldn't be impossible, with Derek being another story. If I ever do complete this, I'd be a lucky man, but given my luck in the past, I'm sure I can do it. I'd be disappointed if I lived the rest of my life and never got to shake Derek Jeter's hand. I've written about him in several school reports over the years and outside of family members, he's been my idol growing up. But that's certainly nothing against Mo, who's been a close second, and getting shake his hand was probably the coolest thing I've ever gotten to do in this hobby (from a personal standpoint at least). I shook the hand that threw the cutter, the hand that was responsible for recording an unprecedented MLB record 652 saves, and the hand that closed out 4 World Series championships for my all time favorite team. Woah. It all just hit me.
Be sure to check out the blog soon for more from the show! And thank you so much Dad for taking me and helping me with the cost of this event!