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Checking out the South Bend Cubs

I love minor league baseball. Obviously, I love Cubs baseball. Unfortunately, the South Bend Cubs of the Midwest League play in the East division. This means they only play the nearest team to me (Beloit Snappers) once a year, and not each year do the Cubs travel to Beloit.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve seen the South Bend Cubs in Beloit. In fact, the two top prospects on that team are now big leaguers: Gleyber Torres and Ian Happ.

Looking ahead to the Midwest League schedule this past spring, I had to circle the South Bend Cubs visit to Beloit. It wasn’t an ideal placement, being a Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, and Monday at noon series.

It all worked out as I planned to take in the Sunday afternoon game, and it worked out more when I got to see twice as much baseball. The Saturday night game was postponed and the teams played a doubleheader with each game being shortened to seven innings. Additionally, it was Lou Trivino Bobblehead Day.

Leaving early as there is a lot of construction on I-90 between Madison and Beloit, the trip didn’t take much longer than normal. It’s about a one hour drive for me. When I approached the gate about 90 minutes before first pitch there was quite a line already established.

The combination of Cubs affiliate and Bobblehead day drew out a large crowd. My Cubs and graphing buddy Alex was in line, and he even offered up a free ticket for me. Score!

Once the gates opened we headed over to the clubhouse entrance, and I scoped out the game one starting lineups.

Beloit’s Pohlman Field is unique in that players from both teams have to walk right through the concourse to get to the field. This makes attaining autographs very easy.

With the large crowd in attendance, it also attracted a large fan base wanting autographs, which makes it easier for the players to just walk on by without signing to avoid a mob.

Three players were my top targets, and all three are top 10 prospects in the Cubs organization: Brailyn Marquez (#3), Cole Roederer (#5), and Brennen Davis (#7). I brought baseballs and a stack of 8×10 photos with me. Since there was such a mob of fans seeking autographs, I decided to go the signed ball route pregame. It worked out as Cole Roederer was signing for many people.

He signed a baseball for me.

Brennen Davis signed for so many people. I was really impressed. I was able to catch him right out the clubhouse door.

Davis also signed a ball for me.

Unfortunately, I just missed a couple guys like Brendon Little. I was actually surprised he signed before the game because he was game one’s starting pitcher. I also missed catcher Erik Gonzalez as I was getting another player when he walked by, but was able to get Andy Weber.

I had several 8×10’s of Weber I wanted to get signed, but before the game I opted for a signed baseball.

Brendan King signed a ball for me, too, before the start of the doubleheader.

I was able to catch Marcos Mastrobuouni walking through, and he signed a pair of photos for me.

And

Just before I left for Beloit, I stopped at Target to get a marker specifically for these photos. Ultimately, I went with a package of Sharpie metallic that included silver, gold, and blue. It was a good choice, because they dried super fast and none of my signatures were smeared. Here’s what I used.

Clayton Daniel was a player I thought I had photos of, but I did not. And fortunately I alphabetized my photos inside my binder for quick access. Daniel signed a baseball for me.

It was now 2:00 and game time. The National Anthem hit as I was in line at the concession stand for a brat and a beer. Mike from Twitter mentioned he was coming to the game and had some Cubs cards for me. We hung out throughout the first game. Thanks for the cards, and it’s always great to meet up with fellow tweeters.

After the sixth inning we collected our bobbleheads, and I waited for the end of game one. It was an exciting conclusion as the Snappers walked it off by scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning on a bang-bang play at the plate.

This was my first doubleheader in Beloit, and I didn’t think any players would sign between games. I was wrong. This is when I was able to get Brailyn Marquez to sign a couple photos.

He signed two for me after game one.

I had Gustavo Polanco sign a baseball.

Rafael Narea signed two photos for me, and seemed excited that I printed off photos of him pitching since he’s not a pitcher.

The second Narea image.

I was able to snag Derek Casey for a couple autographs.

And he also signed this one.

One more player that signed between games for me was Casey Ryan.

The pitcher also signed this photo for me.

Now it was time for the second game. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead and held on. Toward the end of the game, I went back to the concession stand for a soft pretzel. Once again, the Cubs were great signing right after the game. Brennen Davis was really gracious.

He also signed this photo for me.

And he even signed a third photo.

After the players started heading out of the clubhouse and walking to the bus, I caught Cole Roederer.

He signed both photos I had.

Levi Jordan was on the injured list, so I didn’t think he made the trip. Fortunately, he did, and he was great to sign some photos.

That’s a sweet shot of Jordan blowing a bubble. Here’s another he signed.

Brendon Little signed a baseball for me.

Andy Weber signed a pair of photos for me.

Number two…

Riley Thompson signed a photo.

Peyton Remy signed two.

And

Finally, I wanted to get Cam Sanders. He was the winning pitcher in game two, and looked good on the mound.

Cam is the son of a former Cubs pitcher, Scott Sanders.

And Sanders signed a third photo.

In the end, I added 35 more Cubs autographs to my collection. I did miss a few guys, and plan to send some photos through the mail. If you have a Costco membership, you can print photos for just $1.79 per 8×10. That is the cheapest I have found so far. And I definitely recommend the Sharpie metallic markers.

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