TigerFest 1/21/2017: A Tale For The Ages

tigsfan

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So first off, I didn’t have the 10am/1 hour early Early Entry (EE) tickets beforehand like I normally do (the secondary market didn’t shape up like I had hoped). We get their pretty early this year, which didn’t mean much for the EE line, but the regular line was bone dry! I had figured a ticket scalper would have them at an OK price, but we would have to wait for the crowd to pick up. We kept checking with him, but before he got any someone walked over and handed over a couple passes at NO CHARGE!!! Was this a sign of things to come??? I’ll just let you be the judge. ;)

For those unfamiliar with how TigerFest is done for autographs, it is not like the same as many other teams do. You pay a flat rate to get in the door ($30), then you hop in a line "blind". When I say blind, all the autograph tables have at least one, sometimes two, personality (coach/alumni/player) at each table but you don't know who will be at which station when. You are given a "session ticket" when you get close to the front of the line, guaranteeing which session you will have.

So the layout looks the same on paper from previous years, but they did some maneuvering of the lines this year. Kids Line A is still in the lower level Tigers Store and the line is by the stairs going up to where B is. B is up the stairs, starts a line not covered at all, then a line inside a tent, THEN you get inside to the room. C/D no longer goes through the Tigers Club, but is where the C/D use to be (double wide stairs) and the exit is basically the other side of those stairs. E/F remained the same in the basement, but appears that they did a better job keeping E/F, photo, clubhouse, etc. lines from meshing into each other like what had happened before. E/F also gave out their tickets much earlier than all the other lines and went half way down the hall to do so.

So being towards the front of the EE room (line B/C/D only for EE), nobody was their yet. Everybody took the left C (Justin Upton), so I figured right D would be quicker to go through and will be good either way. I think I made the better choice on paper, but you could argue either.

Justin Verlander – SS ROMLB (this is an extra)

*Note: I was told that Verlander left his table early for a photo with a sculpture before the 11am gate opened*

Taking note that it was 10:30, I made a quick pit stop at the Foundation Fire Sale (much more limited selection than past years) and debated between going to E/F way too early or checking out B (which has treated me poorly in the past). Checked out B and was not that full, & made it out just as regular crowd got in. For this station, this is probably the best I’ve ever done there.

Jose Iglesias – 2016 Topps

Then down to the basement I go, trying to “out run” the crowd plowing through the gate. We got into session one just in time, but went left E instead of sticking to right F. With them giving out the tickets so far back, you didn’t know who you had until it was too late. I made a good choice on this one (over Rod Allen & Dixon Machado).

Omar Vizquel – SP ROMLB

*Note: the next session had Avila show up first, but then Cabrera was in the other one*

I figured I would give C/D one more shot, but that line was all the way to first base at this point: the worst I’ve ever seen it (and had not seen any line closures this year). Still, decided to stick it out thinking that I would do okay. This time went to left D instead of right C, which was my one error of the day. James McCann was by himself, but that sounds a lot better than what I got.

Drew VerHagen – TigerFest program
Rich Dubee – TigerFest program

Okay, time to give up on this one for really two reasons: the basement line was less of a wait and the line was going at a steadier pace than at the ground level (B is only as a last resort at any time). They had right F arrive first, and might have been a little bit early so people breezed through that line – which I declined for the gamble. The guy for E was 15 minutes late and we all know something about him. By the time I got up there, the F guy (Kyle Ryan) was long gone and the next session people were trickling in.

Dave Rozema – Tig……. WAIT, THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY

Remember what I just said about Dave being late and a snail’s pace (if you've ever met him, he’s a talker over being a speed guy any day). As I’m maybe 30 back, JaCoby Jones replaces Ryan at the empty F, which would have been a nice grab. I even offered a trade of Rozema to someone over there which they rightfully declined (I thought I might get someone who isn’t up to date on Jones). Then about 20 people away, the guy for E shows up at the back door (which I can clearly see from my vantage point). After some security personnel talking, they tell Rozema that he has got to go, even though he still had tickets unfilled. While this is all going on, I’m chanting under my breath to switch them out, and it somehow worked – and my Rozema ticket was taken for the new guy. I’m sure there was no complaints about this swap.

Jordan Zimmermann – SS ROMLB

After that (3:15), I figured it is time to end on a high note and pack it in. Really made one bad line choice out of four, got through two lines in one hour and three others in a little over four hours, and was just a tad early in one line to get two MVPs. With an A being basically unachievable for any one man, I give today a B+ grade.

Notable players not in attendance: Michael Fulmer, Ian Kinsler (again), Victor Martinez, Francisco Rodriguez (again), Bruce Rondon, Anibal Sanchez

 
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KCLJ520

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WOW man, what a day! The Fan Fests and events are generally crazy, I would say you did pretty darn good, congrats!

God bless,

Kevin
 

DaNotoriousNIC

Active member
348
4.90 star(s)
Lucky you I spent 3.5 hours in one line and got just Buck Farmer for the entire day. If ya wanna part with that JV though let me know.
 

tigsfan

New member
381
4.90 star(s)
Lucky you I spent 3.5 hours in one line and got just Buck Farmer for the entire day.
The trick is to do anything and everything you can to get that STH pass to get in one hour earlier than everyone else. In my research, I have found that all the "A list" players/alumni have their one signing period completed by 2pm, and I am pretty sure that they are really done at 1pm (Zimmermann you can argue is a B list, but I see both sides of the argument). That ticket gets you really two autographs - a 10am signer, or in my case two this year (always good players like the Verlander, Upton, Iglesias that they had this year) and the front of the line for the first regular session (Vizquel this year, and it has been Verlander, Cabrera, etc in the past). The second half of the day is going to be mostly junk and I never expect much from it.

If ya wanna part with that JV though let me know.
It's my second ROMLB of his now (I got him the last 3 times now and debated between this and his MVP SI), so it definitely available at the right kind of deal...
 

DaNotoriousNIC

Active member
348
4.90 star(s)
Yeah like I told Ellen unless they announce changes to way they do autograph lines I won't ever be back. I will still gladly go to every Wings fan fest as you can get 6 or so players, check out locker room, pic with a banner, pic on bench and still leave before event is over. I never had any hopes of the big names as I have always heard they done with lines by 1 usually.
 
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