Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day in Harrisburg

I had a long and great Father's Day that saw a visit from Ryan,a trip for the lovely Cherie and I to Harrisburg for brunch with Fred and Linda Landucci,an ice cream cake from Rachel and a meeting with a should be HOF member that I'll never forget.

I've never been a person that worried much about Father's Day.
It's nice to have the children acknowledge me,but I look at that as part of the job of being a parent.
However,on this one,Fred Landucci graciously invited Cherie and I to Harrisburg for a brunch on the field before the Senators game against the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

I worked all night and had to leave as soon as I got home from work,if I was going to arrive on time,so it was a bit tiring to be out in the sun on a very hot day.
It really wasn't so bad when the cloud cover was available,but when it wasn't-it was blazin'!
The Senators only sold a handful of these packages for brunch and they placed the tables on the infield,so we were eating on the field.
Harrisburg has a terrific suite area for eating that Fred took us to last year that is prepared by tremendous chefs and they did great work again for this event.
They had a steak that just melted in my mouth and the other items (especially the potatoes) were terrific and Harrisburg's food in that area ranks at the top of food on the local minor league circuit!
A great event and thanks again to Fred and his wife Linda for hosting us!

We had about 45 minutes to kill before the gates open,but the Senators graciously allowed the people from the brunch to stay in the stadium,if they desired.
While I am sure that sounds like a small thing,it isn't.
Most teams would have rushed you out of the stadium and dumped you in line with the other fans after they collected your money.
Harrisburg didn't do that and on a hot day,it was very much appreciated.

As we sat underneath the stadium in the cool,we noticed Giants roving instructor Kirt Manwaring walking by.
Manwaring works with the catchers and I have him for my two Score sets.
Manwaring was nice enough,but he lives fairly closely (Elmira NY was on his baseball card) and when Richmond comes to Harrisburg,the usual rover is Manwaring for that reason I suppose.
I thought to myself "Manwaring again.why can't we ever have one of the other rovers".
This is mainly because the Giants have some pretty good rovers with not only cards in the sets that I collect,but excellent big league careers such as Lee Smith,Vince Coleman and Ellis Burks.
Because I try (not always possible) to see Richmond,I always carry cards with me for the Giants rovers,but it's almost always Kirt Manwaring.

Well,on this day,whether it was divine intervention,blind luck or karma-about five minutes after that thought crossed my mind,Lee Smith came out of the locker room,texting on his phone and sat down at the table beside us.
I hate to ever interrupt people when they are on the phone,so I didn't go straight over to him,but I did scurry through the box for the three Smith's that I needed for my set.
With my luck,Lee Smith was in BOTH traded sets for 1988 and 1990,so I needed four cards for him (It was actually three,as I had forgotten that Ed Loyd in Richmond had gotten the 1990 Smith with the Red Sox signed for me a while back) and that's not always an easy get with former major leaguers,let alone one with Lee Smith's resume".
Fred and I waited quietly for a few minutes and then Linda looked over at Smith and said "thanks for signing".
A puzzled Smith looked at her oddly as he hadn't signed a thing,but it did break the ice enough for Fred and I to walk over and ask him to sign-so thank you,Linda for that!!

What followed was arguably the best interaction that I've ever had with someone since I started this as Lee Smith talked to Fred and I for 15 minutes and signed everything that we had.
We talked about his days as a Cub,pitching at Wrigley Field and most of all the Hall of Fame and what he thinks has been held against him by the voters along with his feelings on the Veterans Committee,where his candidacy will be considered next.
Lee Smith has the third most saves of all time (A few players below him have less) and was the last of the old school closers that pitched more than one inning to get a save.
Smith should be in on those facts alone...
It was fifteen minutes of old school baseball talk with as Fred called him "a classic baseball man".
It's times like these that make me glad that I do this often crazy hobby...

I then watched warmups for Richmond and got some guys finished with just two other graphers.
I gained a nice addition in former major league outfielder Jerry Sands,who signed three cards and got to talk for a while with one of my favorites in Richmond pitching coach Steve Kline,who not only is a good guy,but one of the most hilarious people around!
The player that I had the most cards was Sam Coonrod,a pitcher in the system that I just never seemed to get in various visits.
Coonrod never visited Hagerstown with Augusta,wasn't with Richmond on one of their Harrisburg visits last season and I couldn't make the other.
Add to the stack of team set cards that he is in two Bowman sets and I had plenty.
I was hoping for two-his SAL prospect card with Augusta and his 2016 Richmond card.
I settled for one...

I begged off early with the heat and the 90 minute drive home after working all night,I was worn out.
It was in the second inning and I knew if I had stuck around longer,I would have stuck it out and gotten the rest of my stuff signed.
Instead,I did the smart thing for once and took Cherie home.
Once I got there,Ryan had written me and said he wanted to see me for Father's Day,which was very nice.
As I waited for Ryan,Rachel gave me an ice cream cake for Fathers Day,which was very nice.
I'm eating better (38 pounds down!),so I had just a small piece before Ryan's visit,which was very nice and welcomed.
Ryan was nice enough to get me an Amazon gift card,which I'm sure will be used someday soon!!
Finally,I went to bed,collapsing and sleeping from 7pm to 8am (with one small break in between) to complete a long day..

A better Father's Day,I cannot remember and one more thanks to Fred and Linda Landucci for the brunch,my children for visiting with me,the lovely Cherie for coming with me to Harrisburg and Lee Smith for talking baseball.

The schedule looks like this (breaking news permitting)-another cleaning out the inbox,the NBA draft (Cleveland doesn't have a pick unless they make a deal Hmmmm),the Devils picking first in the NHL draft and something else from the archives of my past....

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