Saturday, November 23, 2013

My 10 Michael Brantley Autographs

i'm not sure if athletes and celebrities truly understand the impact they can have on their fans. it can come in the form of signing an autograph for a fan, or by way of a smile, or maybe even giving out a hug if they're willing. sports often provide a distraction from every day life and the real world for many people. therefore, an encounter with an athlete can literally make someone's day. for some fans, just having a moment with a player, ie. making eye contact and exchanging smiles, can be incredibly special and heartwarming. it's only a few small seconds of their time, but it lasts a lifetime for the recipient. it becomes a memory that nobody can take away, and creates a story that can be shared and cherished forever.

before i got my first Brantley autograph, i had made it my mission to make him smile. i wanted him to know he had a fan and feel good about himself. he wasn't having the best year and was even sent down to Columbus a couple times, but i had his back throughout everything. i knew he was going to become something special, and i was right. but at the time, he needed to know that while some fans didn't know who he was, i not only knew, but was supporting him hardcore. so the night before the game, i made a sign for Michael that i was sure would make him happy if he saw it. i declared myself to him as his #1 fan, and i have upheld that title ever since, proven by my monthly blogging, documentation of Michael's season numbers in a notebook, and of course with my ride or die attitude.

through the Indians 2013 season, i have now obtained 10 autographs from Michael Brantley. that's the most i have from any player. (the second most is 6 from Chris Perez.) sometimes when an opportunity to get a player's autograph comes up, if i know i've gotten that player's auto a few times before, i won't get it again. but that does not go for Michael lol i still have 2 baseball cards that i need him to sign, and once i get his 2014 card, then that will be 3. so i already have an objective for next season. but while i'm waiting for that, let me tell you exactly how i got Michael's autograph 10 times so far.

the first time i got Brantley's autograph was August 28, 2010, before the game against the Kansas City Royals. i have a very detailed account of exactly what went down because i wrote all about it when i got home. so without further ado, this is the story of how my very first autograph from Michael Brantley came about.

i was in the front row in Section 170, waiting for the guys to come out and i had my sign ready. this was the sign i made:

it was a little plain because i really didn't have that much time to work on it, but it was clean and got my point across. my main goal with this was i wanted Brantley to see it while he was warming up. back then i knew not many (if any) fans made Brantley signs, so if he saw that, it would make him happy and he'd definitely know he had someone supporting him here. i also really wanted to make him smile. so i waited.

at 6:45 pm, no one had come out yet. i was starting to freak out because the players are usually out there by then. that made me think 2 things: 1. omg they aren't gonna come out today and 2. if they do come out, it's gonna be so late and Brantley will probably be so focused on stretching that he won't even look over and see my sign.

at 6:47 pm, Matt LaPorta came out. then all these screaming kids ran down to the front row and surrounded me. and they kept screaming for him, so he came over to Section 170 and signed autographs. when he moved over towards me, he read my Brantley sign and smiled. that made me happy because i knew if Matt smiled, then Brantley certainly would. i was hoping that maybe when Brantley finally came out, Matt would be like, "hey, some girl made a sign for you, you should go sign an autograph for her." turns out, that wasn't necessary.

as Matt was signing, Brantley came out. then i got worried and thought oh no, Matty's gonna block me and my sign lol but Matt left after another minute or two. i was watching Brantley doing his running. he walked back towards the baseline and then talked with Joe Kessler and Matt. then he did some stretching. i was getting nervous, looking at the clock every couple seconds and wondering if anything was going to happen. the kids next to me were screaming but they didn't know his name. one kid was like, "who is 23?" facepalm.

after what seemed like an eternity, i noticed Brantley was reading my sign! he smiled and kinda put his head down, then looked away. was he surprised? embarrassed? excited? all of the above? more players started coming out then and there wasn't much time left, so i was focused on trying to snap pics of all the guys running and stretching. then before i knew it, Brantley was walking over towards me. and then he was standing right in front of me! at that point, my nerves really kicked in. he looked at my sign again, then he looked me directly in the eyes and smiled at me. i made him smile!!! he signed autographs for a couple kids next to me, and then he signed my baseball. my heart was racing. i totally froze, i couldn't even say anything to him. he probably thought i was a mute or something lol

as Michael gave my ball back, i managed to say, "good luck tonight" but i was so quiet i doubt he heard me. he seemed pretty shy and i wondered if he signed autos much. but how could he resist signing for me after seeing my sign? lol he signed for 2 other boys and then left because the National Anthem was about to start, so i got his autograph just under the wire. and for the record, Michael didn't smile at any of those kids ;D

i really don't believe he would have come over if i didn't have that sign. (hey kids, you're welcome! =P) i hoped it made him happy. i will venture to say i made the very first #1 fan sign for him, and you never forget your first. regardless of how many other signs like that showed up at the ballpark after that night, i think mine stayed on his mind for a while. during the game, Michael hit a leadoff double (this was back, back, back in the day when Michael was our usual leadoff hitter), and i like to think that i may have inspired him and brought him luck lol

i remember i also tried to get Michael to sign for me in the players parking lot when the game was over. instead, i unnecessarily got Lou Marson's autograph and i was so PISSED because he signed right under Brantley's auto and a little on top of it, too. grrr. i say it was unnecessary because i'd already gotten Lou's auto once before, so it was sort of a waste. anyways, after that fiasco, i was thinking how cool it would be if i got Michael to sign my sign. so i propped it up on a high part of the fence and waited. by the time i realized Michael was out in the lot, he was almost at his car already. not many cars were left and i got nervous AGAIN and i just couldn't yell his name. (back then i thought if he had seen me and my sign again he probably would have come over. now i know better; he rarely signs in the parking lot.) so that didn't go down. for the second time that day, i was just too awestruck and couldn't speak. however, it was still an amazing day that brings a smile to my face every time i think about it.

as time went on, i did not let Michael continue to intimidate me as much. in fact, i became a little bold in some of my quests for his autograph. and you will see that as you continue reading.

i didn't get my second Brantley autograph until the following year.

i told my friend who works at Progressive Field that i was a huge Brantley fan and would love to get an autographed picture of him if my friend could oblige. yes, they do sell these player photos in the team shop, but they aren't autographed. my friend grabbed a Michael photo, then put in a call to someone who could get Michael to sign the photo for me. Michael did, and my friend then mailed me the autographed picture, which i received in the mail on May 19, 2011. i was elated.

on June 4, 2011, i got my third Brantley autograph along the 3rd baseline before the game against the Texas Rangers. i brought my custom made blue Brantley shirt to the game in hopes of luring him over to me. i didn't wear it, i just kinda laid it over me and had the back BRANTLEY name part showing during player warm ups. and he definitely noticed it. i was taking video of him taking practice swings and before i knew it, Michael was walking directly towards me. he signed for 2 boys next to me before signing for me. at that time, all i had for him to sign was my Batter Up!

i thanked him when he handed it back to me, but he didn't reply to me. i remember that bummed me out. i thought he would at least give me a smile because i had his shirt and no one had that shirt back then. i stupidly also thought that maybe he'd remember me and my sign from last year... in any case, it got his attention and gave me my 2nd Brantley auto in 2011 and 3rd overall. (and ftr, i got Grady's auto earlier when he was outside stretching alone and Hammy's after the game in the parking lot.)

i was lucky enough to get Brantley's autograph a record 6 times during the 2012 season. here are those details.

on April 5, 2012, the Tribe's Opening Day game against the Toronto Blue Jays, i got my fourth Brantley autograph. and i have to keep it real, not all of these stories are 100% happy memories. as usual, i was standing front row along the 3rd baseline before the game and Brantley came over towards my area after he did some stretching. first, i took some photos of him when he came over, and then i switched to my Bloggie to take video. Michael was to my left and he signed 2 baseballs before he came to me. my father was also standing next to me on my left, and because he can't ever just stay seated and shut up, he embarrassed me a little bit. i held out Brantley's 2011 baseball card for him to sign, and when he gets in front of me and grabs it, my father blurts out, "my daughter has your card." DA FUCK? why was that necessary? why did he have to make himself known to Michael? and he didn't stop there. as Michael begins to sign, my dad says, "nice, nice, thank you very much!" you know that made me livid. (and whenever i re-watch that video and hear him saying that shit, i get angry all over again >O)

to make matters worse, when Michael began to sign my card, he did so without removing the cap off my sharpie. when he realized that a second later, he took it off and then signed my card. in the past, i did have the cap off and ready to go for him, but this time i didn’t because i was busy taking pics and then video of him. the previous person he signed for had their sharpie cap off, so maybe he just assumed/expected my cap to be off, too. not every fan does that though. in fact, most do not. still, i felt bad and uncomfortable, and like i had inconvenienced him and wasted some of his precious time =/

after Michael signed my card, as he gave it back to me, my dad AGAIN thanked him at the same time that i said, "good luck this year." like last time, Michael never responded to me, but it's safe to assume he thought both my father and i were retarded =( and yes, i had previously told my dad not to say stuff to players while i'm getting their autographs (no, this was not the first time he's done this) because it makes both of us, me especially, look stupid. you can tell me i'm nitpicking and being a shitty daughter, but this shit is embarrassing! and if i ask my father not to do something because it upsets me, you would think he would care enough to cut it out. when we're sitting in the front row and the players come out and over to sign, i don't know why my father feels a need to stand up anyways. he's not trying to get anybody's autograph. why can't he just stay sitting in his seat and be a quiet observer? i can only assume he does this shit because he has a sick constant need for attention. and that sucks for me. but this isn't about the messed up relationship between my father and i, so let me move on.

i got 2 autographs from Michael on the same day, May 28, 2012, before the Memorial Day game against the Kansas City Royals. once again, Michael just happened to walk over towards my section during warm ups. he stood in front of the middle of Section 170 and i was front row at the end of 171. i decided to record him signing autos with my Bloggie. he signed for four people before he came over to me. i got my fifth Brantley autograph on my Batter Up! as he was signing that, i told him he made a great catch on Saturday. (it was a home run robbing catch.) as has been the norm, he didn't say anything back to me though, not even a thank you. again, i have to be honest, that bummed me out. i think he was just still kinda shy around fans at this point. (or else he remembered me and my dad and all that strangeness from last time and decided to ignore me =/)

after he handed my Batter Up! back, he stood there for a sec and lifted up his hat (probably to get some air because it was really hot), before signing more autographs. to my surprise and dismay, my father who of course was standing next to me, then decided to take off his Indians hat and hold it out to get Brantley's autograph! i had to stop myself from smacking him. quick backstory, for a while my father didn't even know Michael's actual name. and when Michael was still struggling as a big league player, my father said he sucked. do you think i was gonna allow someone who spoke ill of my boy to get and keep his autograph? i don't fucking think so. you better believe that hat became mine after the game. so count that as my sixth Brantley autograph.

i took video of Michael signing for one more fan before i stopped because they were just about to announce the Indians starting lineup and i like recording that. so i'm not sure how long he signed for after that. it's a good thing Michael signs so much before games because he never signs after games in the players parking lot.

my next 2 Michael autographs also came on the same day. when i went to the July 4, 2012 game against the Los Angeles Angels and i entered the gates, i was so happy to see that Brantley was finally on the cover of the Batter Up! naturally, i took a ton of those home. i was in my usual spot, at the end of the front row in Section 171. i was taking video of the Indians starting lineup on the scoreboard before the game, when Brantley decided to start signing autos. he walked over in front of Section 170, and it looked like i would get my shot at another autograph. a girl who was standing behind me told Michael it was her friend's birthday, who was standing in the aisle. he then wished her a happy birthday, which was heard in my video. i was just praying he didn't come over to me in the middle of the lineup announcement because i didn't want my video to be incomplete. luckily, the lineup finished right as he made his way in front of me. and it was weird too because there were people in the aisle on my right, including the birthday girl, and he just sort of skipped over them to come to me, i'm not even exaggerating. since i already had my Bloggie recording the lineup, i kept it on and recorded Michael when he got in front of me.

i was prepared in case Michael came over and signed. i had my sharpie cap off and my Batter Up! opened to his featured article, where there was also a nice photo of him. so for my seventh Brantley autograph, i had him sign that page with the photo. and i must have been the only person who thought to do that because when he took the BU and looked at the photo of himself, i saw a surprised expression on his face, as if to say, "what's this?" it's likely he didn't even know that was in there. but i thought it would be much better to have him sign that pic than the BU cover. it was undoubtedly unique.

after he handed back the Batter Up!, he still had the sharpie in his hand so i handed him my 2012 Brantley baseball card. i think he was still in shock from that feature photo lol but he signed my card, giving me my eighth Brantley autograph.

when he gave my card and sharpie back, i thanked him. sadly, like all previous times, he didn't reply. after he signed for me, he backtracked to the people he skipped over before. he signed for the birthday girl, who was then standing next to me, and then her friend. when Michael finished signing for her, he wished her friend a happy birthday again, waved, and then ran over to the baseline just in time for the National Anthem. at that point, i stopped recording. i know this all sounds like a lot, but he literally signed four things in under than 30 seconds. my boy's quick ;D

the ninth Brantley autograph i received was by fate if i ever knew it. i went to the Indians Batting Practice Experience on July 21, 2012 before the game against the Baltimore Orioles, where you actually get to be on the field and watch the Tribe take batting practice. during this time, a few Indians players usually come over and sign autographs for people, but it's a total luck of the draw as to which players are chosen to sign on which day. the night before i was going to this, i imagined what i would say if Michael was one of the players signing on my day. i had some smart, witty dialogue planned. as i took pictures and video of Michael during batting practice, i noticed him looking back towards the BPX line a few times. i wanted nothing more than for him to just come over. so when i saw Michael actually walking over to the BPX line, i almost screamed out loud (i definitely screamed inside lol), i was so happy. when it was my turn and he finally approached me, i smiled at him and said, "what's up, Smooth?" and he smiled back at me and said, "hey, how ya doin'?" as he grabbed my on-field pass and signed it. omg he finally talked to me! haha i should have said more of what i imagined i'd say, but there's just something about Michael, that when he gets around me i get a little tongue tied and the words don't always come out lol so that was all that was exchanged between us.

not only did i get Michael's autograph, but i also got my first photo taken with him! (sorry but i won't be posting that pic on a public forum.) that's a memory that i'll treasure forever and never forget. i even remember the song that was playing during this part of batting practice: The Black Keys' "Gold On The Ceiling." i always smile every time i hear that song, and i probably always will.

when i got my tenth Brantley autograph, it was very unexpected. the Indians played the Texas Rangers on July 27, 2013, and it was Michael Brantley replica jersey giveaway night. Michael signed autos for a few people before the game, but he signed over in front of Section 169, and i was front row in 172. after the game, i went to the players parking lot, as usual, in an attempt to get (anybody's) autographs. many players had already left by the time Michael came out. after standing around chatting with family and friends for a good 10 minutes, he went over to the long fence to sign autographs! i couldn't believe it because Michael never signs for fans in the parking lot, he normally just signs autos before games. maybe because it was his jersey night, he thought he should sign after the game as well. or perhaps he was ordered to do so by his agent (who was also there) to stay in good graces with his fans lol who knows. whatever the reason, i'm glad he did because Michael then signed my replica Brantley jersey--my first and only Brantley autograph of 2013.

he signed for just a few more people before leaving. i don't think he signed for more than 30 people total. so maybe getting that 10th auto in my collection was destined to happen for me that night. maybe because i truly am his #1 fan, it was simply meant to be =D

my desire to acquire Brantley's autograph all started out so innocently. i just wanted to make Michael smile and i really wanted his autograph in my possession. now this has turned into a competition. everything i do, i try to be the best at, and this is no exception. i want to attain Michael's autograph so much that my collection will be untouchable. i want it more times than his school teachers have it lol well that might not be possible, but as long as i continue going to Indians games, and Michael is part of this franchise, i will be seeking more autographs from him. the more i have, the further i can prove my case that i am, hands down, his #1 fan.

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