For the second year in a row, Nik and I headed to Port St. Lucie for Mets Spring Training. (Read about last year’s trip here.) This year was a lot different for us. We went to two games instead of one and both were pretty much sold out.
March 9 vs. Yankees
When I called to buy tickets, it was slim pickings for the Yankees game. (I find calling easier since you actually talk to a person and can have a little more say in where you’d like to sit as opposed to relying on an online seating chart.) All that was available were the high-top tables down in right field. Since my dates for the trip were not flexible, and we were going to that game no matter what, that is what I bought. We started out in section 112 watching warm-ups and I was letting my inner child out by seeking autographs. I came prepared with several baseballs, prints of pictures that I took during the 2015 season and a game program. (All I had last year was a game program and I didn’t try very hard for autographs.)
For most people, having Jacob deGrom on the mound was probably their highlight of the day. For me, it was a short conversation with Curtis Granderson about Chicago as he signed my ball. I even had a short chat with Jerry Blevins where I told him I’m glad he’s back and healthy to which he replied, “me too.”
The game itself was pretty good. Our high-top table had a decent view, for the most part. It was nice to see some of the regulars get the start, even though the game ended in a tie. We didn’t roam around as much during the game as we did last year because it was pretty packed and hot. So it was just as good to stay in our seats and enjoy the atmosphere.
March 10 vs. Cardinals
Nik and I got to this game a little earlier than the day before to check out the open practices on the back fields. I had never been back there before so it was a tad overwhelming with so many people roaming and me not knowing which players were on which field. So I did a loop and then I think I settled at the main back field? Not sure. But it was where the majority of players signed autographs, including David Wright and Addison Reed. (I was unsuccessful on getting Wright’s autograph, but Reed signed for pretty much everyone that was there.)
Once us fans were kicked out of the backfields, Nik and I made our way into the stadium and sat in section 112 until the rightful seat owners showed up. Once that happened we moved to our seats in 122 which were just beyond the Mets bullpen in left field. (We sat a few sections closer last year and were in line with the bullpen mound.)
I love the seats in this area! You’re literally inches away from some of the players and it’s cool to see the interactions they have with each other and the different warm-up routines. Once the game started, Noah looked good. And the offense exploded more than the day before.
Quick story: John Franco was in Mets camp as a guest instructor for a few days and during the Yankees game I noticed he stayed by the bullpen so I made it my goal for the Cards game to get his autograph. Since the bullpen is pretty wide open, players and coaches stand around pregame or sit on chairs. Franco was one of them. I politely got his attention, as he was talking to Frank Viola, and asked if he’d sign my ball. He came over. I said to him he can bring his friend Frank too. So Viola comes over and signs my ball and asks me if there’s anyone else I want. I said sure, how about your friend Wally (Backman)? He joked that he (Wally) wasn’t his friend. So he takes my ball over to Wally and asks him to sign it for me. (And he does!) Picture below.
Good times over the course of the two days at Spring Training.
Misc. notes from the two games
- Before the Yankees game, Nik and I made our rounds through the small Tradition Field concourse and I splurged on the mystery grab bag for $40. I pulled a strip of paper that won me a piece of a Travis d’Arnaud game-used jersey. What was funny, the sticker was still on it and it retails for $35. Anyway, it was fun to take a chance and hope for something bigger.
- I got to see Josh Smoker a few times when he was justinches away from me and he is one big dude. Meaty. Super nice as well, as we chatted for a minute when he signed my ball.
- Overall autograph tally: Curtis Granderson, Wally Backman, John Franco, Frank Viola, Sean Gilmartin #36, Addison Reed #43, Duane Below #60, Logan Verrett #35, Josh Smoker #49, Jerry Blevins #39, Seth Lugo #67, Nevin Ashley #70 and I think Paul Sewald #79. (View the fille photo set to see the signed baseballs.)
- The Mets are one good looking team!
- My full set of pictures from Spring Training is here.
- I can’t wait for the regular season to begin. Let’s go Mets!