Sunday, August 28, 2016

John Mellencamp 4/20/16

This is one of those really good successes for me that built up pretty quickly. I knew John Mellencamp would be having a show close by for a while, but did not know if I would be able to make it over. After work I decided that I wanted to go, so I went to the mall to find a record for him to sign, and luckily I got the last one in the store which happened to be a numbered anniversary edition, which was kind of cool.

I also decided to go to the show because I am a fan of his, and even though my time was running short, I decided to try to meet him on his way into the show. When I got to the venue I waited for a few minutes and I was halfway down the sidewalk when I saw his vehicle pulling up. The setup at this venue is one that you can't get right to the door, but you can get close enough for the acts to hear you. Regardless, he went in very quickly so I knew I would have to try my luck later on.

The show was pretty awesome, and I am definitely glad that I decided to go.

Afterwards, I saw him run out into a trailer which i think was acting as a dressing room, and maybe ten or twenty minutes later, someone from his tour came out to collect items from the 3 or 4 of us waiting.

A few minutes later, the guy came back out, and here was the result:

 photo 13015285_10207317121300295_8923116030133171748_n_zpszwr7efcl.jpg

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Red Sox Opening Day 4/11/16

It has been six months since I last posted, which I think is the longest hiatus I have been on in the years since I started writing the blog. I haven't stopped 'graphing at all, but merely slowed down because of well, life. With that said, I am looking forward to catching up on the entries I need to write, and there are some very good ones that I can't wait for.

I was lucky enough to have Opening Day tickets for the Red Sox for the first time ever, which was a great experience. I didn't do a whole lot of 'graphing, but I went to my now usual pre-game spot which happens to be near the NESN booth where the pre-game show is aired. Sometimes they have interesting guests, and I figured that being Opening Day, this may be the case.

Shortly after I got to the stage area, I found in a great spot near the exit of the stage and quickly noticed that John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy, three members of the ownership group, were being interviewed. John Henry, who also is one of the Liverpool F.C. owners, while featured in one of my previous blog entries, was who I wanted to get the most, because I don't get many opportunities to see him.

When the interview finished up, the guys walked off of the stage, and a lot of fans started asking for pictures and autographs. I thought my chances were good because there weren't a ton of people, but it took me a while to get in front of John Henry. He was rushing, but signed a baseball for me, which I also added Tom Werner to without much trouble. It was nice to get John's autograph again, and meet Tom Werner for the first time.

I also was able to meet Dennis Eckersley again, and got a baseball signed by him. He was nice as always, especially for a hall of Famer. The pen skipped a little, but that's okay:

 photo 12931042_10207260542365857_7572355883962255814_n_zpsicjsafwi.jpg

While I didn't get a ton of autographs on Opening Day, it was nice to get a few quality ones, and the experience was great.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Presidential Campaign Trail October 2014 - February 2016

While I happen to live in a state that presidential candidates don't typically visit, I am lucky enough to be close to the first in the nation state of New Hampshire, which provides ample opportunity to meet the candidates. Here is my journey over the the span of roughly two and a half years of how I met eight of the front runners.

October/November 2014:

Governor Chris Christie in CT

Over the span of a few weeks in the fall of 2014, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie was traveling all over the country to stump for various Republican Gubernatorial candidates. He stopped in Connecticut twice to support Tom Foley, who who eventually go on to lose the race.

At the time, Christie was considered a front runner for the presidency, but since then, he has faced some issues such as, "Bridge-gate", which nearly torpedoed his chances. 

Nonetheless, Christie was awesome in Connecticut, and signed a ton of items for me, and took at picture at one of the two stops I went to.

 photo IMG_1001_zps655da15c.jpg

 photo 20141103_212844_zps4ih2pwqk.jpg

 photo 20141103_212906_zpsogrxpkyu.jpg

 photo 20141103_213206_zpsontr40bw.jpg

 photo 20141103_212926_zpswft4gj7p.jpg

 photo IMG_0999_zpsa05a6832.jpg
 photo 20141104_103331_zpsu7csc9wm.jpg

October 2015: 

Donald Trump

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump's ascension has been one of the biggest news stories of 2015, and beginning of 2016. On a long weekend in October, I went up to Atkinson, NH to a town hall event that Trump was holding. There were A LOT of people at this event, and I was able to experience the beginnings of what New England Collectors have been calling the, "Trump Pit". Donald signed two items for me, one while he was walking away from the stage, and another outside of the event on the way to his car. This was an awesome kick off to meeting candidates in 2015.

 photo C0E869A6-8C83-4DC7-A2BD-F756ACDA3B6A_zpsij1seel0.jpg

 photo 056094B1-DD93-426F-A689-F55E542A8738_zps6twudc7z.jpg

You may remember from my previous Trump post that I was caught, "face-palming", in this below tweet(in the lower left if you zoom in).

 photo 95AD4F22-D066-4030-AD15-838F112231D8_zpstawqx0sa.jpg

 photo AD8D28C7-405F-41CA-AC10-D1BE574B9CF9_zpswnsn208j.jpg

December 2015: 

Senator Rand Paul

Being my favorite candidate, I was really excited to meet Senator Paul. I saw him at a diner meet and greet in Nashua, NH where he talked to many supporters, and I was also able to attend his town hall meeting later in the day a few towns away.

Rand went throughout the diner meeting with everyone, taking pictures, and signing autographs. It was an awesome, relaxed event.

 photo 31E85E10-63C2-4788-98E7-DE7B8B198D60_zpsizyptznt.jpg

Senator Lindsey Graham with Senator John McCain

I went to New Hampshire again in mid December for a day full of events. First, I went to a Lindsey Graham town hall meeting at a library, mostly because Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee for president was stumping for him. Both guys were super nice. I got a couple of pictures signed by both, and both were happy to take pictures with me.

One of my favorite memories from the campaign trail is when I was taking a selfie with John McCain. I was holding the phone up, getting ready to take the photo, and he went to press the on-screen photo button. When he saw that I clicked the button on the side he said, "Oh, you guys don't do that anymore." Mind you, John McCain is almost eighty years old, so this was pretty funny.

 photo 3B909AEA-CF09-45B6-A105-4C7C340A45C0_zpss0pvyq7r.jpg

They both really liked this photo:

 photo 78246B09-C228-4343-A3B8-D7ECD24BD963_zpsondqkvzm.jpg

 photo A5BD5EBE-4FBB-419D-AC4F-C93D92E4BF72_zps8hytkw4f.jpg

Governor Jeb Bush

Later that day, Jeb Bush held a town hall meeting in Exeter, NH that I was also able to make it to. There were actually a good number of collectors at this one, and Jeb took his time after the event and signed up a storm/took pictures.

 photo 2507092A-79D5-404A-B331-92728378D1B1_zps7l6wpawa.jpg

 photo 47138684-4CAE-4766-BC4F-13A48CED3DF0_zpsogkeg4h8.jpg

As you can see, by the time I got back to him, he changed his pen to a terrible faded black one:

 photo CD5BB256-7875-40CC-B790-D6206C1351E6_zps7lhqoggg.jpg

 photo 95F5F28C-308A-483C-B11A-741E69E9CB3A_zpsdhzgtx1d.jpg

January 2016:

Senator Bernie Sanders

I went up to UMass Amherst for a Bernie Sanders rally in early January, which was absolutely packed. I wasn't able to get inside, but Bernie gave a speech outside for the overflow crowd before his main event of the afternoon. As he was walking inside, I had the best possible spot to get him to sign my copy of his "Rolling Stone" magazine issue, but he said he had to go. It would have only taken him a second to sign it, but oh well. You can't win them all, I suppose. At the end of the day, it was cool to experience a true grass roots rally.

 photo 98A6DB19-573D-4A35-9B39-83991720ADC1_zpsvqxvv2ox.jpg

Senator Ted Cruz

It just so happened that Ted Cruz was holding a meet and greet at a diner in Southern New Hampshire on Martin Luther King Day, and I had the day off so I decided to head up to the granite State again to meet the junior senator from Texas. It was bitterly cold, and I couldn't stay inside because it was SO packed with literally no room to move around, so I met him as he was getting off of his bus. After he signed for me, and took a picture with myself and what I can remember to be one other person, his aides rushed him inside of the building. It is worth mentioning that at some points that I was there it was snowing. Getting the book signed made it worth the trip though.

 photo 8F590812-70B2-4E1F-AC94-BC21613AE1C9_zpsnwyq3epl.jpg

February 2016:

Senator Marco Rubio

Just a few days before the New Hampshire Primary, I had a big day planned because this would represent my last day to partake in the campaign trail for likely at least a few years. The first event of the day was supposed to be a pancake breakfast with Senator Rubio, but the campaign had so much demand that they decided on the eve of the event to change it to a town hall meeting. This didn't matter too much to me even though there were going to be a lot more people there, because I had mostly good experiences on this journey, and most of the candidates were very cordial even with large crowds of people.

When I arrived at the event, there were already a ton of people, but i managed to get a good spot.

 photo 2ED099E2-4D6F-420F-A1DB-9260F526E87D_zps8wmn6uu0.jpg

Marco was running a little late, and in the meantime, the organizers of the event announced that cars in the fire lane would be towed. I hadn't parked in the fire lane, but across from it. After about another ten minutes or so, they made another announcement for about 4-5 cars to move, and I was indeed one of them, so i ended up losing my spot.

I got back inside after barely finding a new parking spot, and Marco came on soon after. 
 photo 333F2DE2-BFBE-4580-B7EF-A70282203A0F_zpstvab9vci.jpg

The speech/question and answer session went maybe a little less than an hour, and then it was time to try and meet him. I had made my way through the crowd a little bit, but I still found myself about 6 or 7 people away from him on all sides.  Eventually, I was able to make it close enough despite the entire crowd pushing, to reach his book over to him, which he glanced up and saw, then signed!

 photo B2D258E9-B879-4F02-AE05-3A79B44B3682_zpsn2zbzjef.jpg

He continued taking pictures with just about everyone who wanted one, and when I finally got next to him, he took a picture with me and signed an image of his TIME magazine cover, despite his handler telling me that he wasn't signing anything due to time restraints.

 photo 0236D711-A68A-4276-9361-94D6FB89B7B2_zpszzwxbxur.jpg

I was satisfied with my morning so far, and I then waited for him to make his way out, during which I was able to add him on one more photo to top off the success I had at this event.

 photo F2AA0BBA-87B2-4034-8CC7-E2386D06028D_zpsmxofetsl.jpg

I had planned to attend another Rubio Town Hall, followed by a John Kasich event, but I was just too exhausted after traveling to this one and getting up to him to go to any more, so I decided to pass up those opportunities.

With that, my journey to meet as many 2016 Presidential candidate front runners as possible is likely over, and it was truly a one of a kind experience that was pretty awesome to take on. I met so many interesting people along the way, and it was worth every minute.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Top 50 Interactions of 2015 (5th Annual Edition)

As I am writing this, I really can't believe that another year has passed and this is my 5th time writing my annual ranking of my top interactions with athletes and celebrities of the year. The first ranking entry back in 2011 had a top FIVE list, and now I have really slowed down the blog and struggle to narrow the list down to a top 50. I thank you guys so much for the tens of thousands of page views, and while I no longer post every week, I appreciate your continued support.

Here we go.

As in the past few years, I have created a visual of the places I met people in 2015:

 photo 2015 Top 50 Breakdown_zps6hmtrjcd.png

The Travelers Championship(Cromwell) made it back on the list this year after I attended the event for the first time since 2014. 

Here are my countdowns from previous years:

50. Tito Oritz | Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion | Manchester,CT
 photo A26A0BF3-B854-46C8-B16C-6E0CEDD65EB5_zpsevslf1cb.jpg

49. Stuart Appleby| PGA Tour | Cromwell,CT

 photo C9E48017-A30A-4989-B941-07712F2B04BD_zpsqoyojl3v.jpg

48. Canaan Smith | Country Artist | Wallingford,CT

 photo 09B8DA56-D8F9-4AFD-8DC4-6AD47130DC31_zpsdsqw0uop.jpg

47. Jonas Gray | Former New England Patriots Running Back | Waterford,CT

 photo 20150105_194446_zpsmzhvews_edit_1420505773086_zpswdducwsj.jpg

46. Photo With Tiffany | 80's Pop Star | Uncasville,CT

45. Ernie Els | 2x PGA Tour Major Champion | Cromwell,CT

 photo 8FE1EB99-1A15-4CBD-8489-9369529F450F_zpsix3f64tw.jpg

44. Daniel Hamilton | UCONN Basketball, NBA Prospect | Storrs,CT

 photo 1C7D781E-68C0-44C2-8AB2-53455AB5960B_zpsia5qpvaj.jpg

43. Tyler Beede | San Francisco Giants Prospect | New Britain, CT

 photo 5ECCE7E5-89C4-4E83-8CE6-71912EEE28AB_zpsheedkfwi.jpg

42. Kyle Crick | San Francisco Giants Prospect | New Britain,CT

 photo 098B3689-72CD-4ACD-8185-6CDD72D4A050_zpsp3yc9z6a.jpg

41. Bubba Wallace Jr. | NASCAR Rising Star | Cromwell,CT

 photo 6B4011D1-E20C-42A1-B16F-E5AB1647AE92_zpsavmpk15z.jpg

40. Henry Owens | Boston Red Sox Starting Pitcher | Pawtucket,RI

 photo 1B08A85A-6E0F-448D-90DA-40CCCA19DDDB_zpsqtkqskpf.jpg

39. Blake Swihart | Boston Red Sox Catcher | Pawtucket,RI

 photo 10849988_10203967387159035_6664807383570766609_n_zpse92ebcd5.jpg

38. Ryan Sheckler |Professional Skateboarder | Cromwell,CT

 photo 95F39848-1AC2-4A6D-B1A0-83B7D35EE004_zpsetkey0ja.jpg

37. Justin Masterson | Boston Red Sox | Baltimore,MD

 photo 0EA8DEC8-F0BD-4AE6-8239-E34C1B993381_zps1o6ow6kl.jpg

36. Francisco Lindor | Cleveland Indians | Pawtucket,RI

 photo 966875F0-8DFC-4697-9E66-85DA09ED9DD5_zps9svjgxus.jpg

35. Jerry Remy | Boston Red Sox Announcer/ Former Player | Mashantucket,CT

 photo IMG_9241_zps94vf3cr5.jpg

34. Brian Cashman | New York Yankees General Manager | Uncasville, CT

 photo 20150207_161228_zpslwgn0mep.jpg

33. John Henry | Boston Red Sox/ Liverpool F.C. Owner | Mashantucket,CT

 photo IMG_9237_zpszvmsjglj.jpg

32. Troy Brown | New England Patriots Legend | Pawtucket,Rhode Island

 photo 10888625_10204139168533462_7495747282434032071_n_zps3b1bee39.jpg

31. Joe Buck | MLB/NFL Announcer | Boston,MA

 photo 2F30878A-CC43-49A4-BA67-2D2D3F84A9D2_zpsycnexm5o.jpg

30. Jim Calhoun | Naismith Hall of Fame/ Former UCONN Basketball Head Coach | Cromwell,CT

 photo 335C3BC6-3470-42EB-B7BC-AB0971D12913_zpsmn7sycjl.jpg

29. The Swon Brothers | Country Band | Brooklyn,CT

 photo 1764172A-DCDD-4E5D-A559-CED28C9B7C26_zps5jv4okil.jpg

28. Tim Wakefield | Former Boston Red Sox Pitcher | Cromwell,CT

 photo BE693717-36EE-4716-AD4C-35A501CCFA62_zpsbsvuotu3.jpg

27. Geno Auriemma | Naismith HOF/UCONN Women's Basketball Head Coach |Cromwell,CT

 photo 012A125D-309A-4A03-A364-E5C6660FDD9F_zpsgx0psmzr.jpg

26. Photo With Kris Dunn | Providence College Basketball/ NBA Prospect | Providence, RI

25. Clay Buccholz | Boston Red Sox | New York,NY

 photo 5FA57214-6B1A-4854-A18A-FDA1315F2BDD_zpsjfp6we1k.jpg

24. Chris Webby | Rap Artist | Torrington,CT

 photo 8F69A8F6-16A1-4E04-8606-632B59F0BD69_zps6ij2mv7b.jpg

23. Iliza Shlesinger | Comedian | Mashantucket,CT
 photo Iliza_zpstmkpkoxo.jpg

22. Patton Oswalt | Actor/Comedian | New York,NY

 photo 1420598248202_zps47861f13.jpg

21. LeGarrette Blount | Patriots Running Back | Attleboro,MA

 photo 20141220_225815_zps0dtlcjsd.jpg

20. Stephen Gostowski | Patriots Kicker | Cromwell,CT

 photo 84CD34B3-E39A-4A8E-B423-A307B40DF3BC_zpsjoes6jce.jpg

19. Malcolm Butler | Patriots Cornerback | Worcester,MA

 photo 3AE1BEC4-40C3-4F85-9B46-074A5511BD79_zpsvhugpg52.jpg

18. Xander Bogaerts | Boston Red Sox Shortstop | Mashantucket,CT

 photo IMG_9236_zpszsskwbls.jpg

17. Rodney Atkins | Country Star | Woodstock,CT

 photo FB4FF3D5-2B8F-45D8-8580-C21B035439F0_zpsgmvpoofr.jpg

16. Bubba Watson | 2x PGA Tour Masters Champion | Cromwell,CT

 photo B6462015-376A-4179-8286-D0B2CAC1CD03_zps38uhfs69.jpg

15. Mat Lauer | TODAY Show Host | Cromwell,CT

 photo 9B5CD737-2E37-4B35-AEDF-EC41CFC0B650_zpscfumqymo.jpg

14. Dennis Eckersley | Baseball Hall of Fame | Boston,MA

 photo A5AEAFC7-0CFB-4190-BD73-502D0EB9B3CE_zpsrzlrpi0l.jpg

13. Pedro Martinez | Baseball Hall of Fame | Framingham,MA

 photo Pedro2_zps5mft8bbu.jpg

12. Photo With Ray Allen | NBA Legend | Storrs,CT

11. Carlton Fisk | Baseball Hall of Fame | Mashantucket,CT

 photo IMG_9238_zpsy93yt5po.jpg

10. Bridget Moynahan | Actress(Blue Bloods, Coyote Ugly) | Cromwell,CT

I was able to meet Bridget at this year's Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am. She currently stars in one of my favorite shows, "Blue Bloods". This was her second year in a row at the event, but I had to miss it last year. She was awesome to her fans, and I hope she continues attending in future years.

 photo 88FB8C24-3CA4-4A92-B1A8-2F827F489607_zpstqcm3lrd.jpg

9. Pat Monahan | Lead Singer of Train | Wallingford,CT

I actually met Pat during December of last year so he missed that countdown, but this was a huge success for me. Train has been a mainstay on pop radio for a very long time now, and I was very excited to meet Pat!

 photo 10850012_10204009856660746_2917643332433223292_n_zps18ec7aae.jpg

8. George Lopez | Actor/Comedian | Cromwell,CT

George was one of the most cordial celebrities I have ever met. He actually grabbed more photos from under my ones on top, which is nearly unheard of for someone to do. It was awesome to meet a comedy legend.

 photo 3A5F627F-C328-48AF-B08C-15DC5ADC4257_zpsphp3lacf.jpg

7. Rob Schneider | Actor/Comedian | Manchester,CT

This was perhaps my most fun experience of the year. Rob took me into his green room after his stand up show which was surprising, and a new experience all together. If you watch Adam Sandler movies you know how important Rob is in the world of comedy.

 photo 3D7ED5DC-7BEE-44B4-9EAC-1409632281EC_zpsyuhrl9i2.jpg

6. Kevin Bacon | Actor(Footloose,Tremors, The Following) | Hartford,CT

I was able to meet Kevin Bacon on opening night of his show, "Rear Window", in Hartford. He was awesome to the few people waiting, and besides being an awesome actor, he gives A LOT back to the community.

 photo 7AB36FC1-9161-49FB-AAC9-92217A742F86_zpswnypmkqw.jpg

5. 50 Cent | Rap Icon | Various Locations

Anyone who meets celebrities knows that this was the year to meet 50 Cent. He was touring to promote his Vodka domestically as well as internationally, and he REALLY hooked it up with outside items. "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" was one of the first albums I bought in middle school back in the day, so this was a HUGE one for me.

 photo 90DD57D7-AE91-4029-93BC-510F84CCCE64_zpsokgmcbpd.jpg

4. James Patterson | Author | Hartford,CT

James Patterson has sold an incredible amount of books(~275,000,000) and I have always been a huge fan. Getting a 1st edition ,"Along Came a Spider", signed was pretty awesome because that was the first book in the "Alex Cross" series, as well as the first book by him that I read. He was actually surprised that I had one in such good condition.

 photo 33AB38CB-3270-4EA6-8792-9120F3DD5923_zps9jycnlpi.jpg

3. Josh Radnor | Actor(How I Met Your Mother, Liberal Arts) | Storrs,CT

Josh starred as Ted Mosby in my favorite television show of all time, and meeting him was not a guarantee, so when I was able to meet him I was very happy. If you haven't seen his movie, "Liberal Arts", which he directed and starred in, I greatly recommend it.

 photo 12264_10204784965677987_2728795438154715556_n_zpsmgckpnkj.jpg

2. Donald Trump | Mogul/ Presidential Candidate | Atkinson,NH

This was (I believe) my most read post of the year, and it makes sense. Trump is polarizing. Many love him, many hate him, and I am certainly not a fan of his politics, but he was amazingly relevant this year, and it is amazing that I got to meet him. I am still pretty shocked about it even though I had it planned out, and I hope to meet more presidential candidates in the future.

 photo AD8D28C7-405F-41CA-AC10-D1BE574B9CF9_zpswnsn208j.jpg

1. Mike Trout | Best Baseball Player in the World | Boston, MA

I had a little difficulty selecting #1 on this list, however at the end of the day, this experience is the one that made me the most happy, and that I will cherish in the future. Mike is known as one of the best signers at stadiums in baseball, which is remarkable seeing how he is the best player in the game, and everyone wants a piece of him. I was a little lucky to meet him, but very, very happy to.

 photo 2AEECB9C-3979-48B8-A393-9A7CF6A1A1D1_zpsvnj8esdz.jpg