This week I will give a recap of the Fan Fest that the Rangers had this weekend. They did a great job putting it together like always.
This year, the Rangers moved the Fan Fest from the Ballpark to the Arlington Convention Center and also expanded it to two days. My dad and I got there Saturday at 8:30am, about 30 minutes before it opened, with one main goal - to get Adrian Beltre’s autograph at 11:00 (he was the only person signing that I didn’t have). But when we got there, my guess is that there were already about 2000 people ahead of us in line. We were shocked. In past years, there would be maybe a couple hundred people in line 30 minutes before the event opened. As we walked up to the line, we heard them announcing that they had already given out all of the autograph wristbands for Beltre (and Nolan Ryan). Needless to say, I didn’t get his autograph. Based on past years, I certainly didn’t expect to get there 2.5 hours before Beltre signed and be too late. When the doors opened at 9:00, we went on in and walked around. Just to give an idea of how popular the event was, when the doors opened, it took about 30 minutes just to get to the front door and enter.
The Rangers did a terrific job at this year’s Fan Fest, with a lot of displays and events. The first thing we did is head over to the Newberg Table to talk with Jamey Newberg for a few minutes. After that, we went to an area where they had set up a big timeline display of baseball history. That was extremely neat, and my dad and I probably spent about 15 minutes reading it. The Rangers had also set up a big timeline of Rangers history, which we also spent a good amount of time on. There were also small displays about women in baseball, the Negro Leagues, presidential first pitches, and the Rangers’ minor leagues clubs. The displays were all well done and it was great seeing the focus on baseball history. We also got to see the American League Championship trophy, which the Rangers had set up in a little locker room display.
There was a separate large room where they had various Q&A sessions with Rangers players and personnel. Like everything else there, it was very crowded and pretty hard to get a seat. But they did a nice job with it, because they had other activities in the same room, including vendor booths and a team store. You could hear the Q&A from anywhere in the room and they had a large TV screen above the stage. So basically, even if you couldn’t get a seat for the Q&A, you could walk around the room to do other things and still keep up with the Q&A. We were there to hear Chuck Morgan interview Nolan Ryan, which was pretty interesting.
They used a different process for autographs this year. In the past, they would start lines for each player about two hours before their session. You’d get in that line and, when it was time, they’d take you to the player’s table to get his autograph. They handed out tickets early, so you would know right away whether you were going to get the person’s autograph, keeping you from wasting your time waiting in line and not getting an autograph. This year, you waited in a line to get a wristband for a given player. The wristbands were given out about two hours before each player’s appearance, but if you wanted to get it for most players, you had to be in line well before they started giving out the wristbands. If you got in line for a wristband, there was no way to know whether they would have any left by the time you got to the front of the line. Then, when it was time for that person’s autograph, you got in line again at the autograph table. You were supposed to be in line at the time the player started signing, so the wristband didn’t let you take it easy and wait for the line to go down or anything. I’m sure they had a good reason for making the change, but it seemed to me like it just added an extra line and more waiting.
I missed having minor leaguers signing at the Newberg table, like in past years. I hope they bring that back next year.
Even though everything was done so nicely for this year’s Fan Fest, I was a little disappointed. With over 7,000 people there, it was very crowded, and I couldn’t get Adrian Beltre’s autograph, which is the main reason I went. But big crowds come with having a good team, and I’ll make that trade any day. Even though it was packed and hard to do anything, it was well worth it to go to the World Series last season.
At about 11:00am, my dad and I had looked around and done what we could do without long waits, so we headed on home. On the way, we stopped to eat at a DoubleDave’s Pizzaworks that opened near the airport recently. If you haven’t been to any DoubleDave’s, you should. They have an incredible buffet, with good pizza and the best pepperoni rolls that were ever made. I got to watch Villanova upset Syracuse as I ate (and in another quick college basketball note, the #10 Aggies beat #24 Kansas State on Saturday. WHOOP!).
On Sunday, the one autograph that I wanted was Arthur Rhodes, who was supposed to be signing when the doors opened at noon. Due to Saturday’s crowds, my dad and I decided to get there way early, just to be safe. So we got there at 10:00am, two hours before the doors opened. There were already around 1500 people in line. So we knew as soon as we pulled up that we weren’t going to be able to get the autograph I wanted. Since we had already done everything there was to do on Saturday, and I wasn’t going to be able to get the autograph I wanted, we just turned around and went home.
The Rangers could not have done a better job with this year’s Fan Fest. It was just too bad that there were so many people there, because it made it almost impossible to get any autographs.
Come back next week for my offseason grades for each of the 30 major league teams.