I've had the pleasure of meeting Matt Kemp, my favorite player, twice before. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet him for a third time, and couldn't pass that chance up. Because it's Matt Kemp, of course. This time around was slightly different though, as I arrived for an 11:00 signing on Friday at 10:00 the previous night.
That's right. I camped out. Like A Boss.
I drove by at 9:30 to check out the line. I'd estimate there were roughly thirty people already in line, so I jumped into action, speeding home. I grabbed everything I needed, checked a few things on the good old internet, and raced back. I was about the fiftieth person in line, and quickly met up with my group. DodgerBobble, Jesse from LA Inspiration, Alex from Lawler's Law First To 100 Wins, Its The Law, and Teresa were familiar faces. I also met two great guys, George and Clint, as well as a couple of gentlemen whose names I can't remember for the life of me.
But that is what 27.5 hours without sleep will do to a man.
Passing the time was actually quite easy. Stories galore and a guy in line behind us who was selling cards, and lots of 'em, really made the fourteen or so hours we waited for Matty pass by quickly. I spent about two hours looking through his one box of cards with Jesse (I still can't believe it was two hours) and bought thirty-one cards off of the guy for ten bucks. And boy were there some doozies in the lot I picked up. I'll post on that at some point. Needless to say, he had a lot of 2002 Bowman....
Oh, before I forget and finish the story, something arrived at midnight, courtesy of the man himself. FOOD! That's right, someone hit Matty up on Twitter, and he was nice enough to send fifteen pizzas and some beverages to everyone camped out to meet him. How could I resist pizza purchased by Matt Kemp?
I couldn't, that's how. Best two slices of pizza I have ever consumed.
(neither of the above is me)
After some line shenanigans and the distinct possibility of a fight, Matt arrived on time and began signing. I was going to go with a ball, but my heart had long been set on an 8x10. I purchased the picture you see below off of a guy for seven bucks, and even the appearance of Juan Uribe in the background can't take away from the sweet Brooklyn throwbacks and the fact that Matty is hitting a walk-off homer in the photo. Our turn in line came up, and Matt was the gentleman he always is. I shook Matt's hand, thanked him, and our long night turned into day was finally and successfully complete.
My 8x10 is so nice I had to include the picture twice.
I asked him to inscribe "The Bison" on the picture, though I was dying to get "30 HRs/30 SBs" with his auto. As fate would have it, Matty came into the day with 29 dingers, and left with 30. Next time.
Matt's agent and former Dodger, Dave Stewart, was also present, and though I didn't have anything for him to sign, I was fortunate enough to get a picture - actually, I think three were taken, none of which I've yet to see - and shake his hand. Again, three times. Stewart was very nice, signing for fans and inscribing whatever they requested. I have no doubts Matt will be a Dodger going forward, so next time I'll be more prepared for the possibility of Stewart being around at his appearances.
I said my goodbyes and made my way home for some food, sleep, and a shower. This camp-out and subsequent meeting of my favorite player was one of the best times I've had in forever, and was a much needed retreat. I'm sure many of you might question the sanity of someone camping out for fourteen hours just to meet an athlete they've met a couple of times before, and I completely understand that it is in fact a tad crazy.
But I ask you this one simple question: is spending half a day with wonderful people and getting to meet someone you admire - as well as getting their autograph on a sweet picture commemorating an awesome moment in an otherwise dismal season - really all that crazy? Because the alternative for me would have been sitting in front of my computer or television all night.
Which I do plenty enough as it is.