I noticed Boise would be in town Saturday 8/22 and after conferring with my wife (We had been talking about going to a Hops game for a long time, but never pulled the trigger), we penciled in that game on our mental schedule. Late Friday night after my wife had gone to bed, I had the tragic realization that 8/22 is the big "Carnagefest" BBQ party that friends of ours throw every year. That would take precedence over a ballgame, so the 8/22 game plans were dashed. I was pretty broken up about it. But I found a glimmer of hope in the fact that Boise was currently in town, and that Saturday ("tomorrow" 8/8) would be the only other realistic possibility to catch them this year. It was already looking like a somewhat busy day, so I wasn't sure if my wife would be down for it on such short notice. I optimistically whipped up a couple Brian Carroll custom cards in Photoshop. When I tried to print one, turns out my printer picked a bad time to run out of ink. Nuts! It was a very frustrating night.
Come the morning, I was able to talk my wife into going to that evening's game with a little convincing, noting that we wouldn't necessarily have to stay for the whole game. But we had to leave for Hillsboro pretty soon that morning. (She had pedicures scheduled with her family, followed by going out to lunch, then grocery shopping and a trip to Costco.) I got cranking on more customs. I went a little overboard and ended up with 5 different Brian Carroll designs, plus a couple generic team logo designs for autographs of other players.
With the files on a flashdrive in my pocket, we rounded up our stuff and headed out. The pup got to tag along too, enjoying outdoor seating at a restaurant for lunch with us all.
The grocery store had some of those kiosks where you can get prints of digital photos, so I was able to print out my customs. It's probably a blessing in disguise that my home printer wasn't cooperating, because the quality wouldn't have been nearly as good. The downside is it cost a few bucks, but not too bad.
They dropped me and the dog off while they went to Costco and I grabbed a pair of scissors and did my best to cut out the customs straight. When they got back, I was itching to leave, as it was approaching an hour till game time and I felt the window of ideal autograph hunting time dwindling. My wife drug her freshly-pedicured feet a little, charging her phone and enjoying a glass of iced tea. Soon we were off, with her mom kindly giving us a lift to the stadium, which is only about a 5 minute drive from their house. This was appreciated as parking is like $5, plus then we could drink without having to worry about driving.
Man, this post is really rambling so far. I could have edited this all down to just, "I went to the baseball game last Saturday."
Anyways, by the time we got there, the start of the game was imminent and it didn't seem like a good time to bug anyone for autographs. I kept an eye out for #8 (Brian Carroll) during pre-game warmups, but didn't see him out there, and he also wasn't listed in the starting lineup. Soon the game was underway and my autograph chances dropped considerably. My wife was apologetic for us not getting out the door sooner, and I was already resigning myself to use the customs for a TTM attempt instead. I loosened my focus on the autograph mission and just enjoyed some baseball at the ballpark.
The game was fun. I hadn't been to a baseball game since like 2007. The Boise Hawks got on the board with a run early. The Hops soon answered with a run of their own, but that was pretty much it for the scoring. The lack of much offense kept the game moving briskly, and it seemed that staying for the entire game (and having another shot at landing the autograph) was a definite possibility. But that hinged on the game not remaining tied. If it went deep into extra innings, it'd be tough to talk my wife into sticking around too long. Luckily, the home team Hops were able to plate the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth on a bobbled ground ball. Hurray! The fans went home happy. My wife and I had a fun time and definitely plan on attending more games in the future.
A couple Hops players emerged from the dugout to sign autographs and I was able to have them ink up a couple of the logo cards I made.
Gerard Hernandez was the first guy I got. Pretty sure that smudge was my bad. I even went for the matte finish on the prints, but they still seemed pretty glossy to me. Sharpie needs about a minute to fully dry on them. Oh well. Still cool. I'm basically a newb to in-person autographs. I mean, I got a few IP autos as a kid in the early 90s. And in my time out of the hobby, I got a few musicians to sign stuff for me over the years. Anyways, Gerard seemed nice.
Next was Stephen Dezzi. I was careful not to smudge this one. It came out pretty good. He also seemed nice.
After this, we headed outside the gates and as luck would have it, there was a big bus right out front. I confirmed with the friendly driver-guy hanging around the door that it was in fact the Hawks' bus. Slowly, the players began to trickle out from the stadium into the bus. They had just lost a close game, and it marked a 3-game sweep for the Hops, so it's understandable that most of the Hawks players didn't seem to be in the best of spirits. I tried loitering around the bus door with a logo card and sharpie in hand, but nobody really made eye-contact with me and I was too sheepish to pester anyone.
Finally, a guy with a bandaged (iced?) up knee hobbled up to the bus. Like a cheetah going after an injured gazelle, I knew this was my best bet for an autograph. He made eye-contact and I quickly asked for his autograph. He complied and as he was signing, it struck me that THIS IS MY GUY! I'VE JUST SAVED PRIVATE RYAN! I felt like a kid asking a mall Santa if he was really Santa. He confirmed that he was Brian. Yep, Brian Carroll!
Here's the logo card he signed for me.
I then unleashed the stack of custom cards on him and explained that we were from the same hometown and graduated from the same high school. He perked up at this news and graciously signed the cards for me.
I think this is the first one I designed. Really neat diving shot from his days as a Bruin.
This one is ok too. Nice swinging photo, also from UCLA. As you can see, I just went with simple, original designs rather than get too fancy or borrow from a known, classic design.
Keep in mind I only had a couple hours to spend on this project. Had we ended up going to the 8/22 game instead, I would have had more time and probably come up with nicer designs. This one above, in particular, definitely would not make it into my portfolio if I were trying to land a graphic design job. But I wanted one that screamed "Granite Hills Eagles" and this card does just that. It's the first Granite Hills card in my collection. You can't see it, but in the photo, he's making the grab over a teammate.
Here's a recent photo with Brian's current team. This probably would have worked better as a vertical card, but I'm just smitten with horizontal designs for most of my customs. I also kinda wish I had tried switching out sharpie colors during this signing session. I had red, blue, green, and black on me. Would have been cool to get a couple of these signed with green ink, but didn't want to take up more of his time by switching out pens. The red pops nicely, I think, so it's fine.
Finally, here's my favorite of the bunch. It's the only vertical card, funny enough. Reminds me of early 90s minor league cards. It's another high school photo, though you can't really tell unless you knew his jersey number was 6 back then. This photo had a big watermark in the middle of it, but I incorporated that into the design by bleaching it out to make a signature area. Really worked out nicely! This one got smudged a bit, but not enough to bother me too much. I also accidentally made this one just a bit too big for a sleeve, but it fits snuggly in a toploader.
Brian seemed to really get a kick out of the cards and was appreciative of my efforts. I made 2 or 3 extras of each design that I gave to him as a gift. He thanked me and was really nice. I shook his hand and got out of his hair. He told me he liked my hat (vintage Padres) and I was over the moon as we waited for my mother-in-law to come take us home.
That was quite a rollercoaster of a 24 hour period for me and I'm elated it worked out so well!
These cards are now cherished new additions to my Guys From Granite minicollection. Turns out the name Brian is pretty popular for this area of my collection. Of course you've got the king of the hill in Brian Giles. And there's also Brian Humphries, whose autograph I got via TTM in late June. Fun note worth mentioning is that Humphries went on a tear right after that and was recently named American Association Player of the Month for July! I'm not saying my TTM request is fully responsible for turning around his season, but I'd like to think/pretend it gave him an added boost of confidence and helped him breakout. ;)
Also, Johnny Omahen has been doing outstanding since my TTM request as well, going 6-0 with a 3.12 ERA in AA.
I think this is all proof that my autograph requests are good luck! Soon, I expect guys will be sending me autographs unsolicited just to heat up!
And hopefully this autograph request will bring good luck to Brian Carroll. Two major injuries cost him a lot of time in high school. And from the looks of his wrapped knee, seems the injury bug bit him again. Hopefully it heals up good-as-new soon and he continues his professional career and quest to make the majors.
I didn't realize it till now thanks to this article, but Brian's dad, Donnie Carroll, is also a Guy From Granite, a GHHS grad who went on to play in the Dodgers organization, 1988-1991.
Thanks again for the autographs, Brian; really made my weekend one to remember. Best of luck!