February 1, 2010

Angels Fan Fest: Gone but not forgotten

Don’t you hate it when someone says something nice, but then adds the phrase; “that being said…” You know what’s coming next and it’s usually not something complimentary. It doesn’t even matter what was said before that because all you can focus on was what came afterwards.

I’m not going to do that (at least in not so many words).

The Angels do a lot of things right. The fan experience at Angel Stadium is one of the best. The product on the field is top notch and there’s never been a better time than right now to be an Angel fan. Now, usually the line there’s “never been a better time” is something you hear before the announcer says something about buying a car from a local dealership (which makes you wonder about all the other times they’ve said that, but I digress); however, in this case – it’s really true about being an Angels fan. This is the golden era of Angel’s baseball.

However… (Which is technically a different way of saying “that being said”?)

I miss the Angels Fan Fest. Fact is I’m jealous that teams all around the country have them and the Angels stopped doing them. I’m a die hard fan and I love having the chance to interact with the players on my favorite team. Most of them are great guys when you get a chance to talk to them.

Seriously, the Rangers and Twins had theirs this past weekend; the Giants have theirs this Saturday; the Rays have one Feb. 20, etc., etc. Heck, some teams even have Fan Fests at spring training. Even the stinkin’ A’s are having what they call a “Fan Appreciation Workout Day” right before the season opens. This is funny because I didn’t think the A’s had any actual fans and if they did, I didn’t think they actually cared. Just saying.

The Angels Fan Fest was wildly successful in the past; so I have to ask, why did they stop? Where else can you meet the Rally Monkey in person?

It was bad enough when they stopped having autograph days specifically for season ticket holders, but no Fan Fest either? Player/Fan related events seem to happen less frequently every year.

One year the Angels had players available before games to sign autographs on Sundays. Granted, they were often coaches or minor league call ups or bench players, but it was nice never-the-less.

Now-a-days you can’t even line up along the field, unless you go beyond the foul pole before a game (except on Sundays). How many fans have a memory tied to their childhood when they met a ball player? Like I said, our access is diminishing and I think that’s kind of sad.

I’ve been to several stadiums around the country and I’m always delighted to see many of them offering ways for fans to get autographs before games, etc. Some places make it mandatory for players to do this periodically. The point is a lot of teams make the effort to connect the players with the fans.

Now I know some of you out there don’t give a rip about stuff like this and as long as the Angels put a winning product on the field, you’re good. I get it. That’s your choice, but I’m looking for ways to build the Angels fan base.

Fan Fests are a great way to build and expand the Angels brand. It turns the casual fan into more something more. The guys on the field become more than just names and numbers; they become real people. My wife Cheryl became a much more engaged fan when she had the chance to meet players. It made her want to know more about them and it made following the team much more fun.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jose Guillen and Milton Bradley (yes, I said “pleasure”) in person outside of the stadium environment (and I actually survived both encounters!). If my only impressions came from their public persona, I’d think they were nothing more than jerks; instead, I found them both to be cordial human beings, temporarily possessed by nice aliens. No seriously, they were both very cool one on one.

I don’t necessarily think the worst of either guy (although I’d rather not have them on the Angels). Now given the choice between a fan friendly team that sucks and one that’s not fan friendly but wins ball games, I’ll choose winning every time. But this doesn’t have to be an either or situation.

Having your picture taken with a player, shaking their hand, getting an autograph, exchanging a few stories or laughs, etc. goes a long ways to cementing one as a life-long fan in my opinion; especially for kids. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Think about the kids, man! It’s all about the kids!

Okay, that was more than a little over top, but you get my point; right? I know it’s not the only way to build Angel fandom, but it can’t hurt.

I know we’re going to get the All-Star Fan Fest this year and that’s all well and good, but I still miss having an Angels Fan Fest just the same. The memories and stories we have to share about fan/player encounters are priceless; they really are.

Thankfully, we have players such as Torii Hunter who will go out of their way to interact with fans. I’ve heard Torii say several times that the late Kirby Puckett told him to always sign as many autographs as he could because when it’s over; it’s over.

Sixteen days until pitchers and catchers report…


  1. Nice blog, very entertaining! Just discovered it from angelswin.com. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for compliment and for finding True Grich!

  3. Striker to the LineFebruary 04, 2010

    Hi James....you know, i was wondering the very same thing just the other day. I know that the last fan fest was in '07, from then they said it would be every other year. So that should've brought us to Fan Fest '09, but that was cancelled due to the motocross events at angel stadium and then the WBC causing players to have to report to spring training earlier. After learning all this, I sent one of the OC Register Angels writers an email asking him what he knew about a fan fest this year. He very kindly responded and confirmed that they wouldn't be doing it again this year because of the All Star Game fan fest, which is more an MLB thing that the Angels are just hosting. So, guess we'll have to wait and hope for next year.