Originally Posted by tebman
We spent some time late Saturday night loitering in the hotel lobby and saw Reed and Ramirez mixing with the crowd, though we didn't talk with them; they were surrounded by plenty of others who were. We talked briefly with Roland Hemond, but if Goose Gossage was there we missed him.
This was only my third SoxFest. ChiSoxGirl is the champ, having attended the last 20, and I've always deferred to her judgment in SoxFest logistics. Her advice was to hang around the lobby to see Sox players outside their natural habitat. Had I been a keener observer I might have seen Gossage.
SoxFest really is total immersion therapy when hot-stove talk is at a low ebb. Autographs are great for collectors, but for me that process it more about getting a chance, however brief, to tell the player (or former player) that I appreciate his work. Pete Ward was there this year, and I was able to talk with him long enough to let him know that I was glad to see him after 45 years and that I appreciated his work too. He genuinely thanked me and told me how much he enjoyed being there.
Love the seminars. It's to the organization's credit that players, as well as Ventura and Hahn, take unrehearsed questions from the floor. In my experience the questions have been insightful and interesting and I think the players appreciate that. These folks know their baseball and they know their White Sox history, and it shows in the quality of the questions and the thoughtful responses given by the players and staff. I learn something at every session.
The best example was Aaron Rowand's sincerity when he was asked about his reaction to being traded after the 2005 season. He didn't fall back on bromides and clichés, but said without hesitation that he was devastated. He spoke of coming up through the Sox organization, his experience in the city, of being a Bears fan, and how he was moved when someone in the autograph session said to him, "welcome home."
As a fan I understood exactly what he was talking about and I understood how he felt. Between the quality of the seminars, the hilarious anecdotes among the current and former players, and the chance to thank them all, it's a great weekend. And all the while surrounded by hundreds of others who share my zeal. For my money, all of that is the best part of SoxFest.
You never cease to sing my praises in regards to my SoxFest attendance. What did you name me this weekend, the "Queen of SoxFest?"
I take a lot of pride in my 20th anniversary as a SoxFest attendee. I've gone to that event for more years than some of those guest service representatives who work the autograph lines!
Some of my SoxFest highlights:
~ The Hahn/Ventura seminar was informative, as the GM/manager seminars always are. The funniest moment of this year's occurred at the end of the Friday session. There were two people lined up at the mic to ask a question. Robin quipped that, "This would be the last question" when he looked behind the fan at the mic and saw Kenny Williams! The former GM did get to ask his question, which was directed to Rick Hahn and simply, "My question only requires a one-word answer. Will you be better or worse than your predecessor?" The audience laughed and Hahn said, "Well, the previous GM had a better support staff than me, so we'll see."
~ The "First Game Memories" seminar was the funniest of the three I attended. Tom Paciorek does a great Vin Scully and Harry Caray. Beckham told a great story about when the team was in Detroit early last season and Brent Morel didn't know who Ty Cobb was. He and Beckham were looking at the names on the outfield wall at Comerica and Morel was like, "Who's Cobb?" Beckham replied, "Uh, Mo, Ty Cobb...." Morel then said, "I think his number fell off" and Beckham reminded the injured third baseman that Cobb played before ball players wore numbers on their jerseys.
~ Got my picture taken with Gavin Floyd and Aaron Rowand on Saturday, both of whom were awesome and extremely personable.
~ My Friday autographs were Chris Sale and Tyler Flowers and my Saturday signings were Konerko and Ventura. I had Paulie sign a page his picture was on from a newspaper clipping in the scrapbook I made after the 2005 season. I had Robin sign the pictures of me & him and me, him & my boyfriend from when we had our on-field meeting with him last June. Getting those pictures signed made the best fan experience of my life officially complete.
Even though I met Robin last summer, I was still so anxious and excited when I walked up to that table on Saturday afternoon. I first put the picture of me, him and my boyfriend down on the table, since that one is framed in my living room, and said to Robin, "I don't know if you remember this day or not..." and after a few seconds, he said he did. He signed the picture and I thanked him. I had the one of me & him in my hand and even though the SoxFest people are usually nazis about only getting one item signed, I figured maybe I'd have a chance since Robin isn't a player and I had the whole on-field experience working in my favor. I put the other picture down and said, "...And it would mean the world to me if you would sign this one, too." "Sure," he said and signed it for me. I was so excited!!!
Though SoxFest has changed so much in the 20 years I've attended, and not in a good way, I always enjoy the weekend. It's so great to be in the company of people who love the Sox as much as I do and it's fun to hang out with friends I don't get to see as frequently during the off-season. The seminars are both informative and entertaining, and getting the opportunity to interact with the players, either while getting his autograph or in the hotel bar after hours, is always a fun experience. I love the event and plan on going again in 2014 for #21.