August 10, 2011

E-8... Fred Lynn drops the ball

Fred Lynn must think he’s something special. Every now and then a baseball player will do something that will leave me shaking my head and that’s exactly what happened Saturday night.

As part of the Angels’ 50th Anniversary celebration, they’ve had various alumni from the past 50 years come out to the stadium for a ceremonial first pitch. They then come out to a designated area after the second inning to sign autographs for a hundred fans. Every now and then – someone has to cancel or they can’t fulfill the autograph portion of the evening because they’re working in the broadcast booth or in the dugout of the opposing team or some other logical reason.

There have been some notable players participating in this event and a list is available on the Angels’ web site.

Fred Lynn’s turn came this past Saturday and I would say it was an event of more than moderate expectations. Even though Lynn is not a Hall of Famer, he’s a player of note and one a great many Angel fans were looking forward to seeing and possibly meeting.

The game was scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. start and the gates opened at 4:00 p.m. A lot of fans who wanted Lynn’s autograph arrived at the stadium prior to 4:00 p.m. to get in line and then make their way to the autograph area to get a wrist band – which is handed out to the first 100 fans. Cheryl and I arrived around 4:20 p.m. and made our way to the staging area and we received our wrist bands.

Then the waiting began. The wait can be a good 2.5 hours on some nights give or take. Fans pass the time talking Angels baseball, showing what they might have the alumnus sign, etc. As the time gets closer, the anticipation of the meeting grows and a buzz kind of hovers over the group of people who paid their dues to get the autograph.

Well, Saturday night – the fun was sucked out of the air.

Sometime between the start of the game and the time Lynn was to arrive – the news started to circulate that Fred Lynn would not sign any “personal items.” That meant no balls, bats, photos, cards, etc.


We were told he would provide an item that he would sign. Okay… What item? The ushers were instructed to not tell us (although it was clear some fans were being told never-the-less). When Lynn arrived we were told he would be signing a hat being provided by the Angels.

Turns out the hat, was one of the left-over give-a-ways; the “flash back hat.” Yes sir, sponsorship logo and all.

Now, some of you might not think that’s a big deal, but consider this. A lot of fans showed up a few hours early for the opportunity to get an autograph on the item of their choice. There is a sign that clearly articulates the process and the rules. Fans arrive with certain expectations and those expectations were not met. We weren’t given any notice what-so-ever and were basically held captive until the session started.

Sure, we could have walked away at that point, but most decided that getting something was better than nothing. In retrospect, that was probably a reach.

Some people purchased items specifically for the session. Some had items that they had been saving for years in hopes of having this opportunity.

Fred Lynn didn’t care.

Word is Lynn usually gets paid for his autograph and wasn’t going to sign any personal items that he normally would be paid to sign. I have no way to verify this, but it is believable.

Funny – Rod Carew is a Hall of Famer and he had no such restrictions. Tim Salmon is as beloved as any player to ever wear an Angels uniform and he had no such restrictions. Neither did Brian Downing or Doug DeCinces or Bengie Molina or Garret Anderson and a host of others.

Most people never get a chance to interact with a baseball player; past or present. Most encounters are brief, but the memory of such occasions can be long lasting.

Fred Lynn was nice. He was cordial. He reached out to shake the hand of every fan. He smiled. He did everything, but the one thing fans wanted most.

It was very disappointing and not the kind of memory any of us were hoping for.

Now, I know not everyone who comes to these things is collecting autographs for their own personal collection; but I would venture to guess that the overwhelming majority do. I will even acknowledge that within the group of fans that show up – there are certain ones who try to take advantage of the situation, push for things they know they’re not supposed to and try to bend the rules and ignore common courtesy and etiquette. Never-the-less, the majority of fans who come want to create a memory for themselves and Fred Lynn dropped the ball (he's a former center fielder, thus the E-8 in the title).

He could have made a 100 fans happy, but I guess that was simply too much to ask.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration has been awesome. The alums who have taken the time to sign autographs have been tremendous; with a special note to Clyde Wright, who has filled in more than his share of times when someone was unable to fulfill their obligation.

The process; while at times a little bumpy has for the most part been fair and well organized. It is something we have enjoyed and continue to look forward to participating in. We even hope it becomes an annual tradition.

I just thought that Fred Lynn spoiled a good thing on this particular night and it bothered me enough to blog about it.

End of story. Take it for what it’s worth.

Other things to check out (good reads):

From SB Nation: Mark Trumbo on pace to join fairly exclusive group of sluggers

From Yahoo Sports: Road to discovery

In case you haven't heard; Angels pitching prospect Garrett Richards will make his major league debut today. For more on Richards, check out AngelsWin: Garrett Richards gets the call

Even more about Richards from Halos Heaven: Garrett Richards Pitching Debut Wednesday

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