The unofficial start of the preseason began today with TigerFest down at Comerica Park. I was one of the 12,000 in attendance today. If you weren't able to get a ticket, here's a run down of what you missed.
I arrived a little before the scheduled 12 noon start(full season ticket holders were allowed to enter @10) time. A line had formed(a reoccurring theme for the day) stretching from the main gate around to Montcalm and 3/4ths of the way to Brush St. Once you made your way in through the main gate the concourse was full of tents and merchandise tables. Signs were strewn about giving directions to all the attractions and Autograph spots. Basically the all the events were divided between the main concourse (from behind the RF Bleachers clockwise to just about third base) the 200 level, and the well for lack of a better term the basement. I firs made my way downstairs to view the clubhouse. You could peer into Jim Leyland's office and walk through the clubhouse. You were roped off from entering the main locker room area, but there were some empty lockers on the side you could view. Also, while downstairs you could take a swing in the batting cages, and view the AL Championship trophy.
Other than the autograph tents the main concourse offered a kids batting cage and a fast pitch booth. The fast pitch booth was the same one that is there during the season. The upper level didn't have much either. There were autograph stations in the Montgomery Inn BBQ and in the Tiger Club; and what looked like a banquet room overlooking the Big Cat (carousel) court which hosted the seminars and Q&A sessions. I sat in on the hitting seminar with Lloyd McClendon and Chris Shelton. For future reference do not talk on a cell phone if Lloyd is talking. There was a guy who quickly found that out, I thought Lloyd was going to throw a base at him. Shelton was very self-deprecating and funny at times. Like saying he had Lasik in the offseason, now he has no excuse not to see the ball, and shots at Lloyd saying the Pirates didn't think he was a major league caliber player.
All in all, I wasn't that bad if you didn't mind waiting. There were numerous complaints that lines were too long, which weren't helped by the outdoor nature of some line placements. I don't know how anyone would think with over 12,000 people there you weren't going to have to wait an hour or 2 to get an autograph.
Speaking of autographs, there were done in a well..different manner. There were six stations scattered throughout the park, which different players assigned to each. The catch was the players would change on the hour. So there was a good chance who was signing when you entered the line would not be the Tiger who was signing when you reached the front. The reasoning I would think would be, if people don't know who is signing there won't be a rush to one booth over the others. Which if it was the case, it worked. Lines were about 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the peak times. The downside is, well not to be selfish, but who wants to wait in a two hour line to get to the front and see Kody Kirkland and Virgil Vasquez. But this did work in my favor as the first line I was n had Carlos Guillen at the head. Well when I was just nearing the front, Magglio was switched in. So I was able to get my ALCS game 4 ticket signed by him, unlike my Verlander SI cover and 2005 All-Star game ball (for Kenny Rogers) which remain unsigned.
See the post below for some sights from TigerFest 2007: