Last spring my friend A.D. and I made our first trip to Camelback Ranch for Dodger spring training. Before the Saturday game we were part of a tour of the facility. While the tour did not include a tour of the locker room or offices we did get to go inside the ropes that separate the fans from the main practice field. We got a few autographs, took some pics with players and got to watch batting practice on the main field. I'll save those stories for a later post.
On our way to the practice field we got to walk on the same path that the players do. The very first player out was Russell Martin. While A.D. was busy watching Joe Torre talk to the media, I quietly approached Russell with ball in hand and asked him to sign it. He graciously signed my ball and headed to the practice field. He didn't appear to be in the mood for idle chit-chat but I wished him well and thanked him for signing my ball.
Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times blogged about the Dodgers wearing a patch to honor Duke Snider. Dilbeck stated it will be only the 6th time in the Dodgers' 121-year history that they have worn a memorial patch.
Here's a picture of the ball the Duke of Flatbush signed for me back in the early 90's, almost positive it was 1991. I was still in high school and it was early on in my memorabilia collecting life. It wasn't an official ball so the signature came out very light on the "u" and the "s" but it was the 3rd Dodger autograph I ever got so I never ever wanted to replace it with a better autograph on an official ball. I will always remember meeting Duke at "The National" convention in Anaheim.