I live in Tucson. Today and tomorrow in Tucson are “Rodeo days.” All the kids have off from school for the Tucson Rodeo so they can enjoy a long weekend of nonstop riding, roping and wrangling.
Today, there was also a parade. And not just any parade. The Rodeo Parade is the nation’s largest non-motorized parade. And, as luck would have it, the parade starts right in front of the building where I work. So I wasn’t able to get to work until afternoon.
So what did I do this morning, instead of going to work? I went to spring training, of course!
The Colorado Rockies hold spring training at High Corbett Field, which is located inside a public park that also features a gold course and a zoo. I walked down to the facility and watched as the Rockies players took batting and fielding practice. The weather was about 75 degrees and sunny.I talked to Rockies president Keli McGregor, who was quoted this morning in the local paper saying he hoped the Rockies could stay in Tucson, even though the White Sox are angling to skip town.
Here’s what McGregor told the AZ Daily Star:
“Two teams is not ideal,” he said. “I’d like to think we would have three teams with an eventual expansion to four or five.” One possibility is that the Reds could replace the White Sox in Tucson.
McGregor told me it was too early to speculate about the Reds coming to Tucson, but that the city seems eager to find a way to keep spring training here. I thanked him for taking the time and gave him a handful of Umpbump stickers.
That’s right, Umpbump has stickers. We had them printed up over a year ago and haven’t done much with them since (though I did stick them all over the subway stations in Manhattan).
Two more people who got Umpbump stickers were baseball card collectors Larry (who didn’t give me his last name) and Jon Hanford. Larry, who is from Huntsville, Ala., says he got his first baseball card in 1950 — an Elmer Valo. He says he owns over 115,000 signed cards and over 2 million total.
Hanford was at spring training with his dad. He is a high school senior and is hoping to attend Hofstra in the fall. He says he wrote his college admissions essay about card collecting. He says he and his dad got to Phoenix on Tuesday and their trip got off to a good start.
“We were getting the rental car at Hertz and we ran into Juan Rivera,” he said. “I had my cards with me so I got him to sign it. He’s generally pretty tough to get, and the Angels are the least fan friendly team when it comes to getting autographs.”
Hanford says he started collecting baseball cards in 2000 and starting collecting autographs a couple of years later. He says he has about 1,000 autographed cards and over 12,000 total cards. He says he enjoys “the thrill of the chase.” Today he got autographs from Marcus Giles, Garrett Atkins and Brian Fuentes. And he got a free Umpbump sticker.
One of the Rockies players walked away with an Umpbump sticker, too. I noticed Troy Tulowitzki leaning up against an outfield fence, having a conversation with one of the other players (they were talking about a new bat they had tried out in batting practice — a B45). So I went up to say hi. I wasn’t sure if I should address Tulowitzki as “Troy” or “Tulo.” Everybody else was calling him Tulo.
“Troy,” I said. “Can I give you something?”
He stared at me. “Okay,” he said.
“I’m a big fan,” I said. (That’s not 100 percent true, but not a total lie.) “I write for a baseball website called Umpbump.com. This is one of our stickers. Check us out sometime. And good luck this season.”
He stared at me some more. Then he stared at the sticker. I started to walk away.
“Umm…thanks,” he said.
“You’re welcome!” I said.
And he was.