I received a press release a couple of months ago touting Jose Canseco visiting the Ridgedale FanHQ, and outside of tweeting it out I didn’t think much of it. Sure, it might be fun to meet the author of one of my favorite books, but I’ve long passed the days where I feel the need to meet someone and perhaps feel starstruck. The press releases for these come in quite regularly, and the list of athletes who visit really is quite cool. Former Twins like Joe Nathan, pro wrestling legends like Honky Tonk Man, and even local legends like Lou Nanne dot the landscape in addition to current Twins such as Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe. But Canseco? Man, that’s a little different. Kind of like him, right?
As the days drew closer to the event I flip-flopped about whether or not I’d like to go. On the eve of the event, I took a peek at the website and saw that it was $15 for a ‘posed photo.’ Silly, I thought, and wrote the idea off.
The next morning at work I again thought it could be fun, and again looked to see if any slots were left. Just one, apparently. Still, as a man nearing 30 I couldn’t shake the idea of how childish it’d be to pose for a photo with a baseball hero, let alone pay $15 for it.
My wife brought me coffee later that morning and I told her I decided I wasn’t going to go. “Why not?” she implored. “It’s not that expensive. Go. Have fun.” So with my beloved’s blessing, I decided I’d go for it. Who cares? It’s just money, and it’s fun to be a kid again if even for just a few minutes.
I secured the last photo ticket, paid via PayPal, and began to mentally prepare myself for whatever the event might be like.
The event went from 7 to 8 pm. I hopped in my car at about 7:15 and made my way to Ridgedale Mall, about 10 minutes from home. As I drove I thought about my previous apprehension about going to something like this. Of course I wouldn’t be star struck. I sit next to Jack Morris every Sunday, and covered an MLB team that I idolized for nearly 20 years on a daily basis. “But isn’t getting autographs and pictures just something for kids?” I wondered.
But then I realized something. There’s really no reason for young kids today to be interested in Jose Canseco. He retired in 2001, and for that reason alone wouldn’t appeal to most kids of this generation. On the other hand, I started watching baseball in 1993, when Canseco was 28. His first full season was 1986, the year I was born. Armed with this knowledge, I felt a bit more secure about not being the creepy older kid in line.
I arrived about 7:30 and found myself at the back of probably a 50-yard line. And other than kids who were just along for the ride with pops, I was probably among the youngest people in line. In fact, the line looked a lot like what you might be envisioning. It was mostly baseball lifers or townies, the kind of autograph hounds you might expect to find outside Midway Stadium begging for Anthony Claggett to sign a few cards for a middle-aged man wearing an ill-fitting Target special Twins tee-shirt that dates back to the Kirby Puckett days.
I was out of place in my button up and jeans, but not for reasons that made me feel all that bad.
The line moved relatively quickly, and I found myself at the front at about 7:40. However, I hadn’t picked up my autograph ticket at an adjacent table, so I was sent back to the end of the line after I navigated over to grab that. Luckily the line had petered out, and I was able to get to Jose after all the autographs were finished at about 7:50.
A couple observations about Jose:
* You would have no idea he’ll be 50 in a couple weeks. He’d easily pass for 30, or maybe even in his 20s. It’s obvious he still takes very good care of himself even in retirement, and if he told you he could still play, to the untrained eye you’d be forced to believe him. At the very least he should be on the WWE circuit.
* Canseco’s voice is much higher in pitch than you might expect. All-told, he was friendly and accommodating to everyone who passed through the line that I saw, even giving one guy the bash brothers embrace that made he and Mark McGwire so famous back in the late-80s.