Last night I went to sleep full of excitement from an opportunity to meet future Ace pitcher Andrew Miller and the rest of my Florida Marlins at the official Fan Fest the next morning. The Fest didn’t begin till 10 A.M but I set my alarm to 6 to make sure we were on the road by 7:30 (remember I have a kid & a girl—and both waste a lot of time). When we were ready to go we opened the front door and found that my Pontiac Grand Am had been stolen. Let’s just say that between filing police reports and talking with the finance company on the phone, the day could have been a disaster if it weren’t for one noble, almost heroic man who works for the Marlins but didn’t even give us his name. This is our baseball hero! More on him later.

The Fan Fest began with registrations, lots of them. You had to register for the free autograph sessions, register for the clubhouse tour, register to win prizes, etc. After waiting for tickets to the autograph signing we found out that the first session had three players; each person got one card, marked “A”, “B”, and “C”. There were no names and you pretty much got stuck with whoever was assigned to your letter. Unfortunately, after an hour of waiting in line Tatiana and I got stuck with two players we didn’t even know and to be quite honest, weren’t the friendliest guys that day. If you could guess their autographs, you are smarter than I am because I don’t remember.

Next up was the clubhouse tour which I eagerly anticipated more than anything else. We could either do the tour or wait an hour for the next session’s tickets and then wait in line again for the next three players to sign. At this point, we were left with a bad taste in our mouth from the first bunch so we decided to do the tour. Big mistake!

Last night I had Tatiana print out self-made baseball cards with “” and some other catchy slogans to give out to fans we would meet that collected baseball cards. We figured that would be a great way to advertise and bring along some new fans. Unfortunately, we only had time to make four.

When the tour began we started making our way down halls we had never had access to before. During one of the boring speeches I heard people talking outside, so much like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory we strayed from the group and ran into none other than Luis Gonzalez!!! Despite ripping into him at Wax Heaven a month ago, I was a bit star-struck.

He was there about ten minutes posing for photos and talking to two reporters (and Wax Heaven!). The other player was even nicer and posed for photos with Tatiana and received the first of the Wax Heaven baseball cards, which he seemed to enjoy!

After a few minutes we managed to make it back to the tour and just in time, too because we got to visit the team’s dugout, bathroom stall and all. Just imagine how many times Miguel Cabrera was in there after one too many meals at Taco Bell!

Next up we were taken to the Press Row on the 3rd floor where all the beat writers spin their yarns. At this point the tour turned into a 15-minute infomercial to buy season packages but once again we slipped away and met this behemoth! He is one half of the Twin Towers, if you don’t know. Sorry for the blurry pic.

After being reprimanded a second time for leaving the group we were stuck for another thirty minutes as the second autograph session was about to begin. By the time it was all done we rushed downstairs only to find out the second session tickets were all out. Who did we miss out on getting autographs from? Well, two scrubs I have never heard of and one Andrew Miller, the one guy we went there for.

What made matters even worse was that security wouldn’t even let me get close enough to take a picture. The one you see above had me almost kicked out when the douchebag below was called for “crowd control”. About 10 fans were told to keep away from the railing and to get in line if we wanted an autograph. Of course, we didn’t have tickets so we couldn’t. Sir, I hope you fall off that ridiculous thing!

Well, this is where our savior comes in. Earlier that day Tatiana had heard the gentlemen at the autograph ticket booth sneeze twice and after “blessing him” they shared a short, but friendly conversation about the team and most of all, our player, Andrew Miller. He promised us that no matter how many other people come through that he would look out for us and boy did he ever. He rushed to Andrew Miller’s people and within minutes we had two tickets to get Miller’s auto…not to mention a very angry Haitian security guard looking quite defeated as we shot her a smile.

Yup, we were the last ones allowed to get Andrew Miller’s autograph and unlike the previous three players, he was a class act all the way through. When I got up there all I did was hand him my ’52 Topps Rookie Cup card and say “thank you Mr. Miller”. His response? He began chuckling at someone calling him mister. After he signed, he flashed another innocent smile and I wished him good luck in ’08. When Tatiana got up, she handed him an ’07 Topps Turkey to sign AND a Wax Heaven baseball card which he seemed to love. He was smiling all the way through and the last words spoken by Tatiana was, “welcome to the team”. He was absolutely awesome. Thanks Andrew, for not crushing my image of you. I hope you win 20 in 2008 and if you visit the site, drop us a line sometime. Maybe we can do a baseball card-related interview sometime.

If anyone is wondering, that card is never hitting eBay or will be dealt in a trade. These two cards will be two awesome treasures from an amazing day of baseball fun after a not so great Saturday morning. Thanks to Mr. Miller, the Marlins employee who came through for us, Tatiana for driving, and everyone at Wax Heaven for continuing to support the blog. You can expect the Infamous Tatiana to come through with a Fan Fest blog of her own within a few hours. You can also expect a lot more photos as well as a completely different perspective of the day. Let me just say, she seemed to be very popular among the Marlins players and there is photographic evidence to back it up.

After the autograph session we went to eat lunch and afterwards I took a spin in the Major League batting cages and no, not the type you see at arcades, etc. This was the real thing and despite my Rotator Cuff injury of 2005 and me looking more like Cecil Fielder instead of Jose Canseco, I hit every single ball pitched to me. A video might hit Wax Heaven later tonight. After this activity the crowd tripled in size and there was no way we could stay and wait for Hanley Ramirez or Cameron Maybin, unfortunately. Our son was at his grandma’s and we had to pick him up by 1 P.M, which we did.

By the way, the Wax Heaven cards will be included in random future trades made through the site from this point on. Already one has been sent away to a certain gentleman who keeps sending free Jeter and Canseco cards at his own will. Thank you and you can expect a couple of other goodies in your mail very soon.