Saturday, June the 5th, I met John Ely in Culver City. The event was scheduled to begin at 11:30, and was originally scheduled as Chad Billingsley, who was unable to attend due to the fact that he was pitching later that night. I went with a few buddies, and wanted to arrive at 10:00, seeing as how Ely had been pitching so well that I assumed there would be a big crowd if I arrived later.
I ended up getting there at about 10:15, and was very surprised that there were about 80-100 people already in line. I quickly got in line, and then walked up to talk to one of the store employees and get a booklet he was handing out. He told me that there were about 20 people in line at 8:00 that morning. Pretty devoted fans (Elyites?).
Yeah, I'm going with Elyites©.
I also went looking for Roberto from Vin Sully Is My Homeboy, but couldn't find him. Clearly I didn't look hard enough, as he was near the front of the line. I got back in line and waited as my friends went off looking for items to get signed. 45 minutes later they returned with nothing. Oh joy.
I talked with a few different fans while waiting. One guy was from West Covina, and we talked briefly about the Chad Billingsley signing there this coming Saturday and how apparently he heard Andre Ethier had in fact been the one to sign in Pasadena (he wasn't, it was Casey Blake, and the belief that it was Ethier contributed to almost 1000 people in Pasadena). He told me he heard from a friend in the front of the line that there were people who had showed up as early as 4 am. I mean, I know Ely has been pitching well, and he probably hasn't ever had a major signing like this before, but jeez, 4 a.m.? I was happily sleeping at 4 a.m. You wake me up that early for a signing, it better be every player I love and have ever loved watching, all signing at once and giving out free tickets and taking pictures and giving out free money. Dedication? Sure. Insanity? You bet.
Found another Casey Blake shirt in the crowd. M.Brown, you should be very proud.
I also spotted some guy wearing an Andruw Jones jersey. Really? Why you would purchase one in the first place is beyond me, but really, at this point just burn that sucker.
As we moved up in line, we talked with a guy ahead of us about some of the potential trades being rumored and some players on the current roster. This guy hated Blake DeWitt and thought James Loney would win, and should win, the Golf Glove every year, but was robbed because Pujols hits a lot of HRs. He also thought it was meaningless that DeWitt had a good eye and drew walks. You can see where I'm going with this. He did have an awesome shirt on though, and was a nice guy, even taking into consideration his willingness to sell the farm in a trade and his misunderstanding of the importance of on-base percentage.
I headed up to the front to check things out for a minute, and behind me John Ely walked up and was greeted with a nice cheer and a round of applause. Ely arrived around 11:05, well early of when he was scheduled to appear. Our journey to meet John Ely was underway.
A store employee passed out this flyer to everyone who wanted one. I have no use for a new phone, but I suck at saying no to people who pass stuff out. I'm glad I did take the flyer, because I immediately noticed that they made the ridiculously egregious error of spelling John Ely's name wrong. Come on guys, how hard is it to ask the Dodgers how Ely spells John? The event was great though, so I'll give them a pass. But if I'm Ely, I'm mad, and you wouldn't like me mad! #ElyMania does not take kindly to spelling errors!
I then spotted this guy with a John Ely-like wig. The John Ely Hair Club For Men is strong with the people.
Near the front of the line, we saw this gentlemen who was also at the January Caravan Event I went to. He almost got into a fight back then, but managed to not come close to fisticuffs this time around. I think he's some type of collector/memorabilia dealer. He was trying to sell the people in line stuff back in January, which is what that almost-fight centered around.
We got in, and they directed us towards the back and towards Ely. We talked briefly with a guy who works for the Dodgers and helps organize and run these kinds of events; he said he'd been doing it for about 11 years. Pretty sweet job if you ask me. My turn in line comes, and I hand Ely the item I brought. He looks at it and immediately starts laughing. I smiled and said it was all I had, and I figured it was better than nothing. He said he thought it was really funny; that, coupled with his initial reaction, leads me to believe someone had shown him it before. Glad to know the Dodgers scour the Internet and Dodger blogs for what people write and say and create about them. While Ely was signing my item, I said he had been "pitching great and it was really good" - or something like that - and then was ready to ask for a picture when I noticed the signature had come out kinda faded. Ely noticed it too and then traced over his own signature. Really nice of him, a pretty cool gesture from an athlete who probably had to sign about 500 plus items that day. Took a picture, shook his hand and said thanks, and was on my way.
As is the case at most of these events, someone told Ely he was on their fantasy team, and John asked "How am I doing?". When told of his performance to date, Ely asked "Is that good". I found this exchange particularly amusing.
They gave us two free tickets each as we were leaving, which I chose for the next day's game. I couldn't attend, but it was pretty cool that they gave them out.
Two vantage points of the line. I would say there were about 80-100 people in line before us, and probably about another 100-200 waiting by the time we left.
Some random pictures from the signing, which was a fantastic experience. I highly recommend every Dodgers fan attend one of these at some point.
O.J.? A Dodger? Hide the women and children.
I didn't know Ramon Troncoso drove a Mustang and frequented Dodger autograph signings. The more you know.