Monday, September 29, 2014

1994 Ultra, John Kruk

#7 John Kruk

Here is the last card for some time that John Kruk signed for me this summer. John was at the College World Series with ESPN and he was nice enough to do two free autograph signings during the opening weekend of Fanfest. I made my way through each line once and I must say that John was one of the most talkative guys I have seen at CWS Fanfest. It really was a pleasure to get to meet him.

This card certainly fits the bill of one of my more fun cards that I got signed this summer (right along with his Collector's Choice checklist card). If you have never seen one of these cards before, it might be because you are not a Phillies fan. The Phillies Finest insert set was a small one dedicated to two players with bad haircuts- John Kruk and Darren Daulton. The set included twenty-four cards, twelve of each player. There were ten cards in each series and four cards were available as a wrapper redemption. Fleer even included 1000 signed cards by each player. Pretty rad, huh?

The back of each card chronicles the career of each player. This one talks about what lead to John being dealt to Philadelphia.

I am pretty sure that I had that exact same pair of cleats that John is wearing, but in black. They just don't make them like they used to.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

1994 Ultra, Jeff Russell

#17 Jeff Russell

Here is the third and final card that Jeff Russell signed for me this summer. Jeff is the pitching coach for the Grand Prairie AirHogs and he signed the cards for me before a game in Wichita. You can see his A's card here and his Rangers card here.

Jeff pitched in Boston for a season and a half. After landing there via free agency in 1993, he had a very solid first season. He was 1-4 with 33 saves and 2.70 ERA. That was Jeff's third and final 30 save season. It was a little more rocky the following season, though. That year he was 0-5 with 12 saves and a lofty 5.14 ERA. The Sox traded him to Cleveland mid-season and he went 1-1 with 5 saves to finish off the season.

The following year, Jeff was back with the Rangers, the team where he had had the most success. He spent his final two seasons there and was 4-3 with 23 saves over the two years.

Jeff finished his career 56-73 with 186 saves and a 3.75 ERA.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

1994 Topps, Willie Wilson

#698 Willie Wilson

Here is the final card that I got Willie to sign for me at the Royals Caravan stop last year. He signed my '81 Donruss card and a random A's card for me, as well.

Willie played for the Cubs for a little more than a season. He ended up there in 1993 and hit .258 with a home run and 11 RBI. He was back with them in '94, but he was hitting just .238 when the Cubs released him in May.

For his career, Willie played in the Majors for parts of 19 seasons. He was a .285 hitter with 41 home runs, 585 RBI, and 668 stolen bases. He was a two-time All Star and won one World Series. He won one batting title, lead the American League in singles four times, triples five times, and stolen bases, hits, and runs once. He is still the Royals all time leader in stolen bases and is listed by Baseball Reference as the fourth best Royal ever, based on WAR.

Speaking of Royals, did anyone notice that they are going to the playoffs for the first time since 1985? I am pretty excited. Hopefully they make it into the Division Series as I have tickets to game three.

Let's go Royals!!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

1994 Topps, Matt Farner

#203 Matt Farner

This is a card that was sent to me by Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project. He sent me a bunch of signed cards a couple of years ago and this was in the stack. I'm not really sure how Ryan got this card signed. But, if I had to guess, I would say that he got it signed while Matt was with the Hagerstown Suns in 1996.

Matt had a very brief career. He was taken in the supplemental portion of the first round of the 1993 draft out of a high school in Pennsylvania. He spent his first three seasons in rookie ball, split between the Gulf Coast League and the Pioneer League. He did fairly well in his one season in the Pioneer League, hitting .275 with 2 home runs and 24 RBI in 45 games. He got bumped up to A ball in 1996 and played just 11 games with Hagerstwon. In those games, he hit .154 with an extra base hit and 3 RBI.

And that was the end of Matt's career. In four seasons, he played in 93 games and hit .232. I think that we are going to have to chalk this draft pick up as a bust. I guess that is why Topps saves the draft picks now for their Bowman set now. At least we don't have to worry about any more borders that include a clipboard.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

1994 Signature Rookies Draft Picks, John Mabry

#97 John Mabry

When I first started going to Royals games regularly in the early 2000s, I wasn't into getting cards signed. Instead, I took balls to get signed. It was fun and had some advantages, but overall, it didn't make as much sense as getting cards signed. For one, official Major League balls are expensive. Secondly, signed baseball take up a lot more room than cards. Then, when the only signature you get at the park on that expensive ball is Tony Eusebio, it is kind of a let down. So that is why I try to get cards signed. But before I switched over to cards, I got a ball signed by John Mabry.

That was my first experience 'graphing the parking lot in Kansas City and I did it after a day game. John was the only member of the Mariners to sign that day. The set-up outside of the K was much better back then than it is today ('graphing-wise), but I guess the M's were just ready to get out of town. At least I did not go home empty handed.

Since all I had signed by John was a ball and not a card, I picked this one up from COMC for $0.75. It is not the best-looking card out there, but who is going to argue over $0.75?

John played in the Majors for fourteen seasons with the Cardinals, Mariners, Padres, Marlins, Phillies, A's, Cubs and Rockies. He was a .263 hitter with 96 home runs and 446 RBI. His best season was with St. Louis in 1996. That season, he hit .297 and had career highs with 13 home runs and 74 RBI.

I got to see John play eight times and he did really well in those eight games. He was 8-19 with 5 runs, 6 RBI, a double, and 2 home runs. The reason why he did so well at those games is because he signed a ball for me. Signing autographs is just good karma. It might have helped that most of those games were against crappy Royals pitching, too.

This card is an odd one for this set. This is a draft picks set and John was drafted in 1991. I have no idea why they put him in this set, but I am glad that they did.

Here is the ball he signed for me in 2003.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

1994 Signature Rookies Draft Picks, Jamie Bluma

#65 Jamie Bluma

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I like to pick up autographed cards every time I make a purchase from Check Out My Cards. That is how I got this card. I picked it up almost two years ago for just $0.99.

Most people would not think much about a certified auto of Jamie Bluma that costs less than a buck. But I picked this card up for two reasons. The first is that Jamie is a former Royal. But, the main reason is because he is pictured on the card in his Wichita State uniform.

When I was growing up in the late '80s and early '90s, there was probably more talk in the spring about Wichita State baseball than Royals baseball. The program was in its heyday and they really were the talk of the state, at least for baseball fans. They made the College World Series six times in a nine year span and won it all in 1989, while finishing runner-up twice. Even though the program has almost dropped off of the map since 2008, I still support them, even though my alma mater Kansas State program has really stepped up its game.

I met Jamie at Fanfest this year and I gave my kid an unsigned version of this card to get signed. Jamie just laughed when he saw it and commented that he has signed about 8,000 of these cards. I asked him how long it took him to sign the cards for Signature Rookies and he said that it took him several weeks to do it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

1994 Signature Rookies Draft Picks, Aaron Boone

#62 Aaron Boone

Here is a card that I got signed at the College World Series this summer. Aaron works for ESPN and he was in town to work the games. All State took advantage of him being there and had him at their booth signing autographs the day before the games started. His line went rather quick and I was able to get all three of my cards signed, and a few 8x10s, while I was standing in line for John Kruk.

I had a really hard time finding cards of Aaron to take to get signed. My card storage system is rather lacking. I need to spend some serious time getting my stuff together and sorted. I can find stuff for all of the current players and all of my cards pre-2004 are pretty well sorted. But, I have to do some major digging to find cards of any player that has retired in the past ten years.

That is how I came to get this card signed. It would not have been my first option, but I could not find anything better. I found this card, a minor league card, and an '08 Topps Heritage card. Do you know what team he is playing for on the Heritage card? The Astros. Do you know how long his career as an Astro lasted? Thirteen at-bats. I could not find a single Reds card of him, or even a Yankee or Indians card. I need to get my stuff together.

Even though this was not my first choice, I am still glad I got it signed. It was at the College World Series and it shows him playing for USC. The 8x10s they handed out also depicted him as a Trojan.