Fan Fest a big hit with fans and players

Fan Fest a big hit with fans and players

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols may be slumping a bit, but judging by the way Angels fans responded to his presence at the club's Fan Fest on Sunday morning, you'd never know it.

Pujols took the stage to applause from many of the 8,500 in attendance for the event, which consisted of autograph-signing booths, a stage where players spoke to the fans and food and games throughout the Angel Stadium parking lot. The event was preceded by the Angels 5k fun run, marking the second consecutive year Fan Fest followed the run.

"I know our fans and even ourselves were expecting a better start than what we have," Pujols said, speaking to the crowd, "but you know what? Six and nine in a long season -- our goal is to try and get into that postseason and if we get there anything can happen."

Much of what Pujols said on Sunday was met with applause from red-clad fans who gathered close to the stage to take pictures and record videos.

Second baseman Howie Kendrick and pitcher Ervin Santana also spoke to the fans, while about a dozen other players manned the various autograph booths.

"The fans are the reason why we do what we do," Kendrick said. "They make it possible for us to play this game at the level that we're at. Any time you can interact or give back to them it's huge."

Rodrigo Tobias of Stanton, Calif., was one of those fans -- waiting first in line for one of the six autograph booths that were set up on the first-base-side parking lot. Tobias woke up at 5 in the morning to make it out to Fan Fest for the second straight year and secure his spot at the front of the line.

"It shows that they respect their fans, and they appreciate them being out here," Tobias said, noting his appreciation for the players who signed autographs at the sixth Fan Fest event.

That appreciation works both ways, Santana said.

"It's fun to let the fans know we know they're coming to the stadium and supporting us," he said. "It's a cool feeling."

Kimberly Edwards of Anaheim Hills is on the board of directors for the Angels' booster club. Like Tobias, she was at the front of the line waiting to find out which player would be placed in her booth.

"It's kind of like Christmas, opening a present," Edwards said. "Who are we in line for, who do we get?"

The booster club was one of about 20 organizations that had an information tent set up at the event. Fans stopped by the tents, ate food and played games like fastest pitch.

Edwards said she always enjoys Fan Fest because she's around people she knows are die-hard fans.

"Well, the Angels have the best fans," she said. "We don't care how good they are or how bad they are, we'll love them."