STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - The line wrapped two times around the west hall of Lakeside Mall.
Crowds itching to meet Miguel Cabrera came face to face with the Triple Crown winner for the first time since he was named American League MVP.
"Tell him where you got that ball," Ryan Hudson-Peralta told his son, Noah.
They approached Cabrera with feverish excitement, near the front of the line featuring over 500 fans.
"I got it on my birthday at the Tigers game and I just got it signed by Miguel Cabrera. It was awesome," he said a moment later.
The souvenir may not stay long in Noah's room. Dad said he's got plans to showcase it in his office.
Please sign here, Mr. MVP
Cabrera is used to crowds of people flashing cameras in his face and watching his every move, but the scene outside DC Sports was rabid beyond belief.
Two levels of the mall were filled with screaming boys and girls, men and women, wearing Tigers gear and capturing photos of the third baseman alongside those who paid to get an autograph.
"You get an opportunity to meet with the fans, it's an honor," Cabrera said.
Fans paid extra to get "MVP" or "Triple Crown" inscribed underneath the Tigers slugger's name. Although Detroit hasn't seen its brightest star since he won the honor last month, Cabrera is already used to the addition to his John Hancock.
"I mean, it's fun, but that's in the past already," he said of the MVP distinction. "We gotta keep moving forward."
Added pieces, same mission
The Tigers we saw in the World Series just over a month ago have already changed since the final out in Game 4.
Talk of Torii Hunter, by far the most noteworthy piece added to the mix, brought a smile to Cabrera's face.
"I think it's great. He brings a lot of experience. It was a really good move for him to come here."
With the Winter Meetings around the corner, and owner Mike Ilitch seemingly stopping at nothing to build a repeat World Series contender, Cabrera has trust in his team's front office.
"Mr. Dombrowski, Mr. Ilitch, the front office, they do a good job to bring people to Detroit. (But) that's their job. We don't worry about that. They're gonna bring someone to help us."
Early morning worth it for fans
Greg and Ken Coley, brothers from Walled Lake, stood at the front of the line Saturday. They have more in common than a last name: they have the utmost respect for Miguel Cabrera. In fact, their admiration got them to the mall early -- really, really early.
"We arrived here at 6:30 this morning, thinking the mall opened at 7 a.m. because of the mall walkers. But it didn't open until 8 a.m. so we basically waited until the cold," Greg said.
"I wouldn't do this for any other athlete, but I would for Miguel Cabrera," Ken added.
Cabrera was scheduled to sign from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. He signed well past 6 p.m. before heading back into the store to meet with more fans.
He said time after time his main focus is getting ready for next year, but Saturday, he couldn't avoid last season.
Even if he wants to put it aside, he doesn't have a choice. He'll have "MVP" attached to his name forever.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter at WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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