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.

Friday, July 18, 2014

1991 Score, Mike Boddicker

#45T Mike Boddicker

I believe that this is the fifth card of Mike Boddicker that I have posted on here. Like the previous four, this one was also obtained at Royals Fanfest. I got this one signed at the 2013 event.

Mike was a big acquisition for the Royals in 1991. Even though he was 34, he was coming off a 17-win season with the Red Sox. He took a big pay increase to come to Kansas City, but it unfortunately did not work out so well with the Royals. That first season, he finished 12-12 with a 4.08 ERA. He struck out only 79 batters and beaned a career high 13. In 1992, Mike started the season as a starter, but was moved to the bullpen after just two starts. He finished the season 1-4 with 3 saves and a 4.98 ERA. He was sold to the Brewers the following year.

Even though Mike's stint in Kansas City lasted only two seasons, it is awesome that he attends an occasional Fanfest. He is great to talk to and it is not uncommon to see him checking out other events going on in the convention center. I wish the Royals could get more guys there that were not lifelong Royals. A little variety is nice, especially when I go every year.

I got one other signed card of Mike from his Royals days and I must say that I like this one better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

1991 Score, Pete Incaviglia

#3T Pete Incaviglia

It has been almost five years since I last posted a card signed by Pete Incaviglia. I got a trio of cards signed by him in 2008 when he was managing the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association championship. Pete still manages in the Am-Ass, but he is now with the Laredo Lemurs. They are in the Southern Division, so I get the chance to see them play a few times in Wichita. That is how I got this card signed. Laredo made the trip to Wichita early in the season and I was able to get three more cards signed then.

Last time I got Pete to sign, I got Rangers, Astros, and Phillies cards signed by him. This time around, I was able to add him on a Tigers card. He also played for the Orioles and Yankees, but I do not have a card of him with either team. Since he only played five games for New York, there probably isn't even a card of him as a Yankee.

Pete had two stints with Detroit. The first one came in 1991 and lasted all of one season. That year, he hit just .214 in Motown while clubbing 11 home runs and driving in 38. He resurfaced in Detroit seven years later and went 1-14 before getting released.

As a college baseball fan, I have to point out that Pete is still the NCAA leader for home runs in a season (48) and career home runs (100). Even with the juiced bats from the late '90s and early 2000s, nobody could top Pete. With the way the college game is played right now, his records may never be broken.

For some reason, the signature on this card is a little off compared to the rest of my Pete signatures. The big looking "C" thing is not normal from him. When he was signing these cards, some guy was chatting him up and he may have been a little distracted at the time. None of the other cards he signed this go-around looked this way. But, I have seen some certified cards that look similar, so that may be a slower signature he uses rather than the rushed ballpark sig that I usually get from him.

I am hoping to see Pete again next month and was wondering if anyone might be able to help me out with a couple of cards. Pete has a couple of cards out that depict him as an Oriole and an Oklahoma State Cowboy and I would like these to add to my collection. If anyone has them and would like to trade, let me know.

1991 Score, Mike Benjamin

#345 Mike Benjamin

Here is the second and final card that Mike Benjamin signed for me on my most recent Spring Training trip. Mike was the assistant coach for Arizona State and I was able to get the cards signed before a game against Wichita State. The first card he signed can be seen here.

At the game, I noticed that Arizona State had on some funky uniforms. They had black jerseys and hats with burnt orange lettering. There was no maroon or yellow/gold anywhere to be seen. When Mike came over to sign, I asked him what was up with the orange lettering, he said "C'mon man, it's copper!". He then went on to explain that it was a university-wide rebranding that was going on that many of the alumni were not too thrilled with it. Apparently, even the football team had worn the colors the previous season.

Mike had a thirteen year Major League career with the Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, and Pirates. He was mainly used as a utility player and he played in more than 100 games in three of his last four seasons. Those were the only ones where he reached that plateau. For his career, Mike hit .229 with 24 home runs and 169 RBI. His best season probably came with the Sox in 1998 when he hit for career highs with a .272 average, 39 RBI, and 46 runs.

The Arizona State head coach resigned after this season and was replaced by Tracy Smith, from Indiana. It seems that Mike's services were no longer needed with the team.

It appears that Mike Benjamin does hold a Major League record. He has the most hits ever over a three game span. In 1995, he went 14-18 over three games to set the mark.

I really like the white bordered cards from this set. They are kind of rare as most of them have some sort of color to them. But the white ones just make them look the most normal. As for the most non-normal, just wait for the three cards coming from the Rookie and Traded set.