One of the big perks to my August road trip was getting media passes at most of the ballparks I visited. Nearly all the teams I dealt with were extremely accommodating when I told them about my visit and my website.
The lone downside (and it’s a small one) to getting a media pass is that you can’t get autographs. When I went to Fenway Park for the Futures at Fenway doubleheader, however, I didn’t have a pass. This meant, of course, that I was free to get some autographs.
I was lucky to get three members of the Hudson Valley Renegades to sign a baseball for me before they squared off against the Lowell Spinners.
Here’s the ball:
From top to bottom, the ball features the signatures of pitcher Jeff Ames, catcher Justin O’Conner and catcher Luke Maile.
Ames, who was recently ranked as the number 19 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, was arguably Hudson Valley’s best pitcher in 2012. He posted a 6-1 record with a 1.96 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 64.1 innings pitched.
O’Conner joines Ames on the Rays’ top prospect list, placing 18th. He hit .223 and finished fifth on the team in hits (53) and fourth in RBIs (29). He also hit the longest Renegades home run at Dutchess Stadium in 2012.
Maile finished third on the team with a .278 batting average, while leading the club in RBIs (41) and triples (3). When’s the last time you saw a catcher lead his team in three-baggers?
I’m glad to add this ball to my autograph collection, and it’ll be exciting to follow the careers of these three guys, who all look to be off to a great start.