Five County Stadium has a good area on each side of the ballpark to stand beyond the netting to get autographs from both teams. Unlike the other two stadiums on my trip, the teams each enter on their own sides, so you need to choose which side you want to be on as the players enter. I chose the Mudcats side because I had more players’ cards than the Dash. There were two teenagers there also trying to get autographs and I didn’t observe anyone on the opposite side.
I walked around the stadium getting pictures and I noticed that the only coach whose card I had, Winston-Salem pitching coach Brian Drahman had entered the field and I missed him. I was trying to figure out if there was any way around the netting near the dugout to try to get his autograph, but I didn’t see anything great. I decided to go over to the Mudcats side at this time and I see Trent Clark walking in, whose card I had, but again couldn’t get to him. Not working out too well so far.
So I figured I’d stay put and see which players would sign as they walked onto the field. I was able to get autographs from Troy Stokes Jr. and Cody Ponce prior to the game. So I’m doing a little bit better.
I thought that pretty much all of the Mudcats players had entered, so I thought that I’d walk over to the Dash side to see who was over there. As I get to the other side of the field, I see Trey Supak, another card I had, walking in and thinking about another missed opportunity.
Shortly after that though, I saw Winston-Salem pitcher Dane Dunning going towards the dugout. I yell out to him and he comes over, but it was in the netted area. I was able to slide him a card under the net and pass the Sharpie through it. I appreciate his willingness to work with me to get me the autograph. I am also thinking that this might become more of the norm as teams talk about stretching the netting from foul pole to foul pole in an effort to keep the fans safer.
When I had first gotten into the stadium, I had noticed Carolina pitcher Kodi Medeiros throwing before the game. He was too far away to call out to, but I was thinking that since he wasn’t pitching that day there was a good chance he would be tracking pitches from the stands. I had a seat right behind home plate so I figured I could see if he was sitting in that area. Sure enough, I saw him, so I decided to approach him for an autograph. He was a little surprised to have some random guy start talking to him, but he was kind enough to oblige. And as he was signing, someone else walked up with a card of his. So now I’ve become that guy who looks for players in the stands.
With the big Mudcats victory, I wanted to see if I could get any autographs from the team after the game as they left the field. Trey Supak walked by and I was able to get an autograph from him, which made me feel better for missing out earlier. 2B Isan Diaz had a big game and was signing autographs for a number of kids who had come by to see him. He was so happy with his performance that he gave one of the kids his batting gloves. Things like that are great to see. After pretty everyone on the team had left the field, I noticed that Jake Gatewood still hadn’t come by. So even though I had a long drive ahead of me, I wanted to wait a little longer for the chance at one more autograph. Finally, he walked my way and he wandered towards me since I’m sure he knew I was going to ask for an autograph. I was the only one left at that point and he was nice enough to sign for me.
So overall, I got 7 autographs, which was great for a single game. I do really appreciate the willingness of these players to interact with the fans and sign a handful of autographs at the game. These are mementos that I will always appreciate.