CANTON, Ohio — The woman stood before a crowd of 400 people Thursday and asked a question that was, shall we say, unique.
"I'd like to ask Grady what he's doing next Saturday," the woman said, "because my daughter has to go to winter formal and she needs a date."
We'll leave the woman's name anonymous to protect the innocent — or, more accurately, to protect her embarrassed daughter.
Nonetheless, you have to admire the courage she displayed in, essentially, asking Grady Sizemore out on a date, in front of a room full of people who came to the McKinley Grand Hotel for one of the Indians' final Winter Caravan stops.
"I don't have a date for the winter formal either," Sizemore replied.
Here's a slideshow of my photos — you may have to click the text balloon to turn on the captions:
You can see larger copies of each image in my Web album.
And here's my recap, illustrated by Cathy:
We got there an hour early, and couldn't find anyplace to sit. One guy was graciously going to allow us to sit at his table until his friends arrived, but a waitress tipped us off about some seats being brought in at the other end of the room . . . the end right next to the stage, in fact. So, I ended up sitting about two feet away from Grady! (Never mind that he mostly had his back to me.) Cathy had a slightly better angle, and got some shots of Jensen and Grady talking to the crowd.
During the Q & A session, one guy announced that he had a question to ask Grady on behalf of his wife — she was one of Grady's Ladies before she got married* and she wanted to know: Boxers or briefs? The crowd lost it, and Jensen announced, "This is exactly the kind of question we've been waiting the entire press tour to hear!" Once he stopped laughing, Grady said, "Uhm . . . Boxer briefs?" Cathy wanted to know what kind of underwear Jensen wears, but since they moved on to the next question, she decided it wouldn't really matter because she'd just pull it right off anyways.
I think someone in the crowd was celebrating a birthday, and the guys said they wanted some cake. Two slices were brought up front . . .
. . . and after a few bites, Grady put his piece down on the speaker next to us.**
The signing session was at the bar in the back room. Grady seemed to always have his head down, making it very difficult to get a photo that does not look like this:
I brought my DVD of Major League — the Wild Thing edition with the turf cover! — and my copy of last May's Sports Illustrated with Grady on the cover. I joked with Cathy that I was going to rip off the part with my name and address, write my number on it, and give it to him. I saw a girl at another table with the same issue, but hers didn't have an address label, so nyah.
Cathy didn't bring anything to get signed, and she initially offered to get my magazine signed, since we were supposedly limited to one autograph per person. But then they announced that they had photos and baseballs for sale, so she bought a baseball. She just happened to have a mystery tool*** in her purse to help her remove the plastic wrap, and I just happened to take a photo of it and put it in the slideshow. Anyhow, she said that since we weren't allowed to take photos with the players, I should get a shot of her getting her baseball signed, and she'd get one of me getting my DVD signed. Sadly, I didn't quite live up to my end of the bargain.
When I handed Grady the DVD, I said "You'll probably need the Sharpie for this," like he's some kind of autograph virgin and needs me to guide him. I'm pretty sure he said, "Oooh," and ran his hands over the turf on the DVD sleeve, but maybe I dreamed that part. I know I said, "Yeah, when the game isn't going so well, I turn it off and put the movie on." They both laughed, and Jensen said, "The movie has a better ending!" I said, "Exactly!"
Once we had our stuff signed, we headed back to our seats and that was pretty much it. Cathy took off around then**** but I stuck around through the end of the charity auction. Grady's autographed batting helmet went for something like $600, and tickets to see a game from the broadcast booth went for almost that much. When he was finished running the auction, Tom Hamilton started signing items for the crowd. As he signed my DVD, I told him the same thing I told Grady and Jensen. He laughed and said at least with the movie you always get a happy ending.
I thought about hanging around a bit more — I suppose could have started another conversation with the old ladies I chatted with earlier when I was getting drinks at the bar — but I was pretty much ready to head home. I kind of wanted to see if anyone else posted photos online, and there was a professional photographer there — I don't know if he was from the paper or maybe with the Indians or even with the owner of the bar — and I wondered if Cathy and I would be visible in the background of any of the shots he took. I was hoping to have a "Look, there I am! In the back!" photo to add to my collection — right now it's just that one AP photo of the OU basketball game (see sidebar). Sadly, I had to make do with the pictures Cathy and I took. But it was fun to go, and to recruit one more person to the Grady is an H-O-T FOX! bandwagon. (Not like he needed her, but I was tired of arguing with Cathy that he is cute, he just doesn't always photograph well.)
* I think he said something like, "I stole her away from you," and Grady said, "Good man."
** That's not his beer.
*** When she goes to her sister's place to baby-sit, they like to sneak random items into her purse and see how long it takes her to notice them. When she noticed this one, she wasn't sure what it was: maybe a letter opener?