Monday, August 31, 2015

August 16, 2015 - Wilmington Blue Rocks @ Potomac Nationals

As if I hadn't seen enough baseball in early August, less than a week after we returned from our trip, my older son and I decided to take in a Potomac Nationals game, our nearest ballclub.

The main reason we were going was for the Ryan Zimmerman bobblehead giveaway. I don't particularly collect bobbleheads, especially non-Cubs, but pre-Bryce Harper and pre-Stephen Strasburg, Zimmerman was the face of the Nats franchise. I was easily able to flip one of the two that we got to cover the afternoon's tickets and food. Score!

Photo borrowed from eBay, too lazy to take my own
This would have been the first game of the season for me without Cubs ties but as an added bonus, when I went to the team website, I noticed former Cubs utility man Reed Johnson was making a rehab start. That didn't give me enough time to make an ATCRCS card, but luckily I had a binder of "favorite" Cubs cards that wasn't tucked away with the rest of my collection. I managed to find a pair of Johnson cards to try to get signed.

When we got there, it was crowded! I mean it was a Sunday game, with fireworks afterwards, and a bobblehead giveaway but one of my favorite things about this stadium is that it was rarely half capacity, let alone crowded. While waiting in line to get in, we figured it out. Along with Reed Johnson, it had also been announced that Denard Span was making a rehab start. He's a pretty big local fan favorite.

Once I saw how crowded it was, I put my cards away. Normally autographs are fairly easy to get at this level and in this stadium, but with crowds, all that goes out the window.

We walked around a bit, had a good conversation comparing this stadium to the ones we had just visited and noted the differences between the various levels. After player warmups, I saw Reed Johnson and Denard Span make their way from the outfield towards the dugout and they both stopped to sign autographs. I debated a good minute or so on whether I wanted to make the walk over to where they were and try to get in there.

With nothing to lose, I decided to head on over. I found a spot right between where Johnson was and where he had to go and waited. I would guess he signed 20-25 autographs before I had sidled up and he was about 4-5 people away from me. I can't believe how well I timed it, as I stood there for only a minute or two and got these two beauties:

This one is from my custom team set I made back in 2012, when the Cubs set a team record for players used in a season. I didn't notice until I scanned and cropped the cards, but he included his #4, which he wears with the Nationals. As you can see in the photo and on the card, he wore #5 on the Cubs. Oh well, no big deal. I've made some headway with that set over the years. I should figure out who I have and who I still need one of these days.

And this card from 2012 Topps is just a fantastic shot. I have no idea how close those gulls actually are to Johnson, but this card was already one of my favorites before it got signed. The unsigned version will definitely be one of the Cubs representatives in my horizontal frankenset!

Two weeks later, I couldn't tell you what the final score was, though I do know the home team lost. It just kind of reinforces to me that while I would like to visit other stadiums/teams in a similar fashion to my recent road trip, I just don't have as much of a vested interested in the game if the Cubs aren't playing. 

This marked the 8th stadium I visited this summer, for my 10th overall game. That reminds me, I went to three of the four games when the Cubs came to DC to play the big league Nats. I have some stories from that series to relay as well!

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