Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1992 Fleer, Mark Salas

#144 Mark Salas

Here is a new Mark Salas autograph that I got at my first Royals game of the season. The White Sox were in town, and Mark is still their bullpen catcher, so I was able to get him to sign three from the visiting team bullpen.

By the way, I said that Mark is "still" their bullpen catcher and did not mean that in a bad way. I meant that Mark is fifty-three years old and he is still able to squat down and catch bullpen sessions. That is pretty amazing to me.

Mark played in the Majors for eight seasons with six teams- Cardinals, Twins, Yankees, White Sox, Indians, and Tigers. He was mostly used as a backup catcher, except for his first season in Minnesota. For his career, Mark hit .247 with 38 home runs and 143 RBI. As a Tiger in 1990, he hit a career-high 9 home runs.

I posted two cards of Mark in 2009. You can see another card of him as a Tiger here and a card as a Twin here.

1992 Classic Draft Picks, Levon Largusa

#70 Levon Largusa

Last spring, Ryan from The Great Orioles Autograph Project sent me a little card package with a few Royals and many autographs. A few of the autos were for my '81 Donruss set while the rest were just random autographs that he had laying around. Ryan knows how I am and realizes that I will take whatever I can get. That is where this awesome card of Levon Largusa from the 1992 Classic Draft Picks set comes from.

Levon was taken by the Blue Jays in the third round out of the University of Hawaii. He pitched in the Jays minor league system for four seasons, reaching high-A ball. He put up some decent numbers over his first two seasons, but he only appeared in 38 games in the four years. He was let go by the Jays and he pitched a season of independent ball in the Texas-Louisiana League. He did well enough there to earn another shot in affiliated ball and the Cubs sent him to their high-A team. He got into 14 games with Daytona, but must have been used as a LOOGY as he only pitched 8.2 innings. He gave up 16 hits and 11 runs, 8 earned, while walking 8 and striking out 5. The Cubs let him go and that was the end to Levon's career.

I am not sure where Ryan picked up this autograph. If I had to guess, I would bet that he got it while Levon was with the Hagerstown Suns.

I love the Converse cleats Levon is wearing in this pick. Wichita State was wearing Converse cleats around that time. Because of that, I was more than willing to get some Cons for my first set of metal spikes. Man, how the times have changed!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1991 Topps, Rex Hudler

#228 Rex Hudler

This is the last card from 1991 that I have to post for now. I have been posting cards from this year since early June. This is the first extended run I have on a year of cards since I last posted some '81 Donruss cards.

Anyway, here is the second card of Rex Hudler that I have posted on here. Rex is the color commentator for the Royals TV broadcasts and I was able to get him to sign three cards for me when he showed up to the ballpark for the Royals last home game of 2012. I posted my first card of Rex in February and that card can be seen here.

Rex played in the Majors for thirteen seasons for six teams- Yankees, Orioles, Expos, Cardinals, Angels, and Phillies. He never spent more than three seasons with any team. He never played in a playoff game and he never made an All Star team. He was basically just a journeyman utility player that went where ever he was needed.

Rex lived up to the utility man mantra, too. Just look at his position on this card- 2B-OF. That is kind of a weird combo. But Rex played every position during his career except pitcher and catcher. He got the most action at second base (281 games) while spending the least amount of time at third base (11 games).

I mentioned in my last post of Rex that I wasn't a big fan of his TV work. I caught a bit of Royals game today that he was working and I didn't mind him one bit. I am not sure if he was acting different because he was working with someone new (the game was on Fox Sports 1 rather than Fox Sports KC) or if he has just settled in to the job in Kansas City. Whatever the reason, I am glad for it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

1991 Topps, Ken Howell

#209 Ken Howell

Here is the first of three cards that I got signed by Ken Howell last month at a Royals game. Ken is the assistant pitching coach for the Dodgers and I was able to get him to sign the cards for me from the visiting team bullpen. The other two cards were older ones, so it will be some time before they get posted on here.

I always think of Ken as a Dodger since that was his original team. He spent his first five seasons there before moving on to Philadelphia. As a Dodger, he pitched out of the bullpen in all but four games. But, once he became a Phillie, he was turned into a starter.

Ken started for the Phillies for for two seasons. He did well in his initial run as a starter. In 1989, Ken went 12-12 with a 3.44 ERA and 164 strikeouts, which was tenth best in the league. In 1990, though, Ken started to have some injury woes. He made just 18 starts that season and was 8-7 with a 4.64 ERA. He made just three starts after July 1.

Ken pitched in six AAA games in 1991 before missing all of the 1992 season. He then had a few appearances in the low minors in '93 and '94 before calling it quits.

Ken has one of the nicest looking signatures that I have acquired this year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1991 Topps, Bobby Thigpen,

#8 Bobby Thigpen

This year, I have really tried to focus on getting the subset cards signed. In the past, I have gotten some mid-'80s Topps All Star cards signed and a few Diamond Kings, but that is about it. This year, I have tried to mix it up a bit and have had a bit of success. It all started in April when I got Bobby Thigpen to sign this card and his 1990 Score Dream Team card. I have only been able to add one more record breaker card since then and it was on an '87 Topps card. It might be some time before that card gets posted on here.

I wanted to get this card signed for one reason and one reason only. Bobby Thigpen is defined by one thing and that is his single-season saves mark that stood for eighteen seasons. In 1990, Bobby saved 57 games for a White Sox team that was 94-68. In the days of just two divisions, that mark left the Sox nine games behind Oakland, though the record would have won the East. Nonetheless, Bobby finished the season 4-6 with a 1.83 ERA. His 57 saves broke the previous mark of 46, set by Dave Righetti in 1986.

Bobby's record was broken by Francisco Rodriguez in 2008 when he saved 62 games for the Angels.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1991 Stadium Club, Andy Hawkins

#487 Andy Hawkins

I have posted a few Andy Hawkins cards recently that I got signed by the Royals parking lot last season while Andy was the bullpen coach for the Rangers. This one was also signed while Andy was the Rangers bullpen coach, but this one was signed back in 2012. For some reason, it was the only card of him that I took and he signed it before the game from the visiting team bullpen.

The last card of Andy that I posted shows him as a Yankee. His tenure with New York came to an end early in the 1991 season. He was released after starting the year 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA over four games, three of which were starts. Oakland picked him up and he fared much better with them. In fifteen games (fourteen starts), Andy was 4-4 with a 4.79 ERA and a complete game. However, it just was not enough for him to keep a job there and he was released towards the end of August. That was the end of Andy's pitching career.

For his career, Andy was 84-91 with a 4.22 ERA. He never made an All Star team, but he did pitch twelve relief innings of World Series baseball. All of those innings came in 1984 and he allowed just one earned run on four hits. He was 1-1 in that series.

Andy is still the Rangers bullpen coach.

I really love this inaugural Stadium Club set. Unfortunately, it was a little out of my price range in 1991 and I do not have many cards from the set. Because of that, this is just the second card from the set that I have got signed.

Monday, July 21, 2014

1991 Score, Franklin Stubbs

#59T Franklin Stubbs

Here is the second of three cards that Franklin Stubbs signed for me during Spring Training. The first one I posted can be seen here. It may be some time before the final one ever makes its way on here as it is an earlier card from the '80s.

But, this is the final card that I have to show from the Score Rookie and Traded set. As you might have guessed, all the cards from that set have this burnt pink border. I'm not sure if burnt pink is really a color, but that was the best I could come up with. The cards from the main set had a few different colors such as blue, green, white, and black. When I got this set originally, I expected to see the same variance out of it. That was not the case and I figure that Score wanted the traded set to stand out against the base set.

Franklin played just two seasons with the Brewers. His previous season in Houston, he had set career highs in home runs and RBI. In the two years with Milwaukee, he didn't hit as many home runs as he had in Houston and he just barely eclipsed his RBI total. Needless to say, after signing his largest contract to come to the team, his time with the Brewers was a bit of a disappointment.

Franklin spent all of the 1993 season in AAA' and '94 in Mexico, before re-emerging with the Tigers in 1995. That was his final season in the big leagues.

I have no clue what is going on with Franklin's signature. It is pretty unique and, from what I have seen, consistent. However, if you look at the signature on his Baseball Almanac page, it hasn't always been that way. It used to be longer and, while not readable, certainly more legible. There are some elements from the Baseball Almanac signature that carry over to his current signature, but not much.