Earlier this week Jenny told me that she donated some money to one of the Pittsburgh Pirates charities. She said that they would select 40 people who donate for a private autograph session. We never win anything but we still try from time to time. Yesterday, Jenny got an email from a Pirates staffer telling us that we won! And the autograph session wasn't with just any old Pirate, it was a private autograph session with Andrew McCutchen!
The autograph session was going to be at Pirates Fest which is held in the Convention Center downtown. We also got free tickets to enter, which was nice. We got there early and walked around for a bit. There was a fast pitch booth that a bunch of kids were doing. You had to guess your speed. I know that I can easily throw in the 70s so I guessed 71 mph. They guy said that 71 was fast and I told him that I know. I threw and the guy said it was 53 mph. Well, there had to be something wrong with the gun. The guy agreed that 53 was low for how fast I threw. He gave me another try and the guy said it was 55 mph. Instead of making a bigger scene, I just left knowing that the radar gun was wrong. But rest assured, I can still throw in the 70s!
The signing was at 1 o'clock this afternoon. After walking around for a bit, we got in line 30 minutes early. McCutchen seemed to be running late because 1 o'clock came and went. Jenny was worried that he wasn't going to show up and was getting nervous. Finally, he arrived 30 minutes late and the line started to move. I bought an authentic MLB baseball to have him sign and we got a blue Lila stone ready to give him. When it was our turn, I gave him the baseball to sign first and congratulated him on a great season. After that I showed him the blue Lila stone. I explained to him that we lost our daughter, Lila, after only 8 days and that we had these stones made to remember her. I also told him that the Pirates gave us a lot to look forward to each day and thanked him for an exciting season. Jenny told Cutch that over 400 people have these stones and they send us pictures of them. She said he didn't have to send us a picture but that we just wanted him to have one for good luck. Jenny mentioned that Sidney Crosby has one too and he laughed at that. As we were leaving, Jenny told McCutchen that his fiancé has the prettiest curly hair and to make sure that he tells her.
We also had a calendar signed. We thought there would be pictures for him to sign if you didn't bring anything but there weren't. We could get an autograph for both of us so we just had him sign a calendar we got in the goody bag. Another cool aspect of this was that one of the Pirates staffers took Jenny's camera and took at least ten pictures of the whole encounter. It was a pretty exciting day.
There are only two celebrities/athletes that have Lila stones, Sidney Crosby and Andrew McCutchen. They are arguably the two most popular and genuine celebrities and more importantly they are really good guys. Sidney Crosby is one of the best hockey player in the world. Andrew McCutchen is the NL MVP and helped end an epic 20 year losing streak for the Pirates. They both have Lila stones. How cool is that?!
We gave Crosby a Lila stone on my birthday and gave McCutchen one 10 days before Christmas. Those are both difficult days to not have Lila with us. I can't help but think that Lila had a hand in this. Either she is a big Pittsburgh sports fan, or she is really looking out for her Mommy and Daddy. Experiences like this are extra special for us and they really can lift us up. On the ride home there was some very pretty Lila snow. I think that was the final bow on Lila's Christmas gift to us. - Mike
PS - if you look really close in McCutchen's left hand in the bottom right photo, you can see the Lila stone!