As the case with being an autograph collector, I had another Angels Leaders card that needed Rod Carew's autograph - a 1982 Topps card featuring Carew and Ken Forsch.
After getting him on the 1983 Topps Angels Leaders card in the previous post - I didn't think I'd get an opportunity to get Carew's autograph again and in my last Angels game of the 2011 season on Sept. 27, I nearly didn't.
Apparently it was Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher throwing out the first pitch before the game against the Texas Rangers - I kept thinking it was going to be former Angel Ricky Adams [a utility man for the team in the mid 1980s] making an appearance, but unfortunately his battle with cancer still continues.
The acquaintance that told me it was Carew signing on Sept. 26 said it might be the Hall of Famer appearing again - I didn't quite believe him this time, so I disregarded the information.
Another acquaintance said it was worth the gamble to sneak away during batting practice and try and get a wristband, but I still didn't listen - apparently the usher giving the wristbands out wasn't telling anybody the 'surprise guest,' except to say it wasn't Nolan Ryan.
The biggest speculation about the Angels 50th Anniversary 'first pitch' signers probably revolved around whether Ryan [couldn't make it out to Anaheim due to an illness], Reggie Jackson [who signed] or Dave Winfield [who signed] - would actually throw out the first pitch before the game and sign during the game.
By the time I bothered to try and get a wristband just for the heck of it, there was no more to be passed out - I asked one of the ushers who it was going to be and he said it was Carew.
After getting Mike Trout [8x10 print] and Bobby Abreu [2011 Topps Allen and Ginter] before the game, I wanted to stay away as possible from where Carew was signing - I was bummed out, knowing all the 'autograph regulars' in 2011 were in line to get Carew and I wasn't thinking things through.
During the game I was literally just chilling out when I saw a guy, his son and another guy [I've seen as a regular 'ballhawk' and autograph collector] running past me out by tables near the Carl's Jr. stands on the first base side - I knew they were collectors otherwise and I just grabbed my stuff and tried to follow, hoping they knew something I didn't.
They ran past Gate 5 and towards the Field Level Concourse near the right field corner - I think they lost someone and I sort of held off, thinking they maybe chasing after something else or were completely clueless.
If it was Carew they were after, he'd probably going out the team offices - I asked the usher at Gate 5 if there was re-entry, in case I had to go out and chase after Carew.
He said there was re-entry but, "not at this gate."
From where I stood inside, I saw Carew walking from the offices to the parking lot and decided to take my chances with him outside - I try to get out of the stadium and catch him as he is opening the door of his car.
I try to keep some space between us as I ask him to sign - he agrees and signs my 1982 Topps Angels Leaders card with Ken Forsch.
I asked him how he was and he asked me how I was - a simple greeting back-and-forth and I was relieved I had no real problem getting him, even though an hour before I felt like sulking by myself because I thought I had missed out.