Friday, August 17, 2018

2004 Fleer Tradition, Jack Wilson

#291 Jack Wilson

Here is the first of six cards that Jack Wilson signed for my dad and I after the Kansas Stars game last year. Unlike the previous year, we actually stuck around for the whole game since there were fewer people and I thought that I could get a few cards signed. I am glad I did as I was able to add Jack to the collection. Even though there was a paid autograph session after the game, Jack still made his way down the line, hurrying as many free signatures as he could. Being in such a rush, I really did not expect him to sign three for each of us.

The signature is really hard to make out, but he signed the cards in record time. I tried to find a newer, authentic auto from Topps to compare these to, but it appears Jack hand't had an autograph insert since 2005. The ones from '05 are definitely easier to read, though. I am just curious if all of his signatures look similar to this now or if this is just a super-rushed version.

You have got to love the retro uniform on this card. It would be much better, though, if it wasn't so baggy. It looks like this photo is from a contest against the Phillies at old Veterans Stadium.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

2004 Fleer Tradition, Brad Penny

#236 Brad Penny

I have gotten Brad penny to sign for me a couple of times during his playing days, so I assumed that this was going to be my third post about him. It turns out it is just the second as I haven't posted the jersey card that he signed for me in 2012. The one card I posted was a minor league signature card that I picked up for cheap. I bought that card to make up for me not having a card of him to sign at a AAA rehab start he made in 2008. Then, of course, I get him to sign at a game a few years later.

I got this card signed at a Kansas Stars game in 2016. Brad was pulled out of the clubhouse to do an interview with a local TV outlet and I got him to sign after the interview. He signed my three cards and the three that my dad gave him. So, I will be having a couple Brad Penny cards coming up on here over the next few months.

Brad was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 1996 draft. But, he would never play for their big league club. They traded him to the Marlins in 1999 for Matt Mantei. Brad would make his Major League debut with the fish the following season. He won his debut, pitching seven innings of one run ball against the Rockies. He struck out three batters and the lone run he gave up was a solo home run to Mike Lansing in the first inning.

Monday, August 13, 2018

2004 Bowman Heritage, Blake Hawksworth

#320 Blake Hawksworth

Here is a card that I got signed at the College World Series last summer. Blake was the pitching coach for Cal State Fullerton and I was able to get him to sign two cards for me prior to a game in which his pitching staff blew a lead against Oregon State. Somehow, this autograph got smudged and I have no clue how it happened.

It is not very often that I get autographs from coaches at the College World Series, but I have got a few. Off the top of my head, I have got Mike Benjamin, Mike Birkbeck, Ray Heyward, Lars Davis, and Chris Valaika. Considering that I have been going to the CWS every year for a dozen years now, you can see that autograph chances with guys that have cards are pretty scarce.

Blake pitched in the Majors for three seasons with the Cardinals and Dodgers. Over that span, he was 10-13 with a 4.07 ERA in 183.1 innings of work. His best season was with the Cards in his rookie season, 2009. That year, he was 4-0 in 30 appearances out of the pen and had an ERA of 2.03.

Cal State Fullerton seems to go through pitching coaches pretty rapidly. The year before Blake was the pitching coach, Chad Cordero had the role and some other guy had the job this season. Right now, the Titans do not even have a pitching coach listed on their website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2003 Upper Deck Vintage, Josh Beckett

#114 Josh Beckett

Here is another card that I got signed at the Kansas Stars game in 2016. When I went to that game, I had made my way around to the outfield to be by the clubhouse in left. I was doing really well there at first, as there was hardly anybody there 'graphing. Eventually, people caught on and there was a decent-sized crowd back there trying to get autographs from the players. Josh was the last that I got in that area before the no-fun police came out and erected a PVC pipe fence to keep people back from the chain link fence. It was the dumbest thing I had ever saw and it really put a damper on my evening.

Nevertheless, I was pretty excited to get Josh Beckett's autograph. I had three cards for him to sign, one for each team he played with, but he just signed this one. My dad got him on one, too, and it just so happened to be on his 2014 Topps Heritage card, the 1965 design that this card is based on.

For me, Josh became a big-name player during the Marlins improbable World Series run in 2003. He had a 9-8 record during the regular season, but he stepped it up in October. He took the loss in his one start in the Division Series against the Giants while tossing seven innings of one run ball. Then, in the NLCS, he started two games, and relieved in one, and he nabbed one win while posting a 3.36 ERA for the Series. His one win was a game five complete game shutout to stave off elimination. Then, in the World Series against the Yankees, he lost game three before coming back in game six and tossing a shutout in Yankee Stadium for the championship.

Josh would go on to win another World Series with the Red Sox in 2007, but him raising his arms after getting Jorge Posada to ground back to him is how I remember Josh.

Friday, August 3, 2018

2003 Upper Deck Vintage, Tim Hudson

#15 Tim Hudson

Here is a card of Tim Hudson that I got signed at the Kansas Stars game in 2016. That was the first year the Stars played in the NBC World Series and it was quite an event. I had to buy tickets in advance of the game because they were selling out. That never happens for that tournament. The game was actually sold out before I got tickets, but they ended up releasing some standing room only tickets and I was able to get some of those. It probably didn't help that I was going to the first game that the Stars played in and there was lots of hoopla for it.

Unfortunately, after playing in the tournament for two years, the Stars did not come back this year. They claim they didn't come back because the casino that hosted them, the Kansas Star, was hosting a convention and didn't have rooms for the team. Personally, I think that is a load of crap. I think that the NBC didn't want them out there whooping up on college kids. But, that is just my opinion. Needless to say, but I did not go to the NBC World Series this year.

The Stars players obviously had a good time playing because they "relocated" to Louisville this year and are playing in the Bluegrass World Series right now. This is the inaugural year for the Bluegrass World Series and it is basically the NBC World Series, but at a nicer venue and with the Stars. It is kind of sad that Louisville recognized the opportunity that the Stars provided, but not Wichita.

Tim Hudson is still playing for the Stars, but he has not started either of their two games yet.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

2003 Upper Deck 40 Man, Jeff Fassero

#445 Jeff Fassero

Here is the third and final card of Jeff Fassero that I got signed at a Reds Spring Training game last year. Jeff is the pitching coach for the Reds AAA affiliate in Louisville and he was nice enough to stop and sign on his way to the dugout. I posted the first card of Jeff, a nice-looking Expos card, earlier this year and it can be seen here. The second card I posted can be seen here.

Jeff arrived in St. Louis just before the 2002 trade deadline after being sent over by the Cubs for a pair of players to be named later. He made 16 relief appearances with the Cards and was 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings. He helped the Cardinals make the postseason and pitched well in relief there, as well. In the Division Series against the D-Backs, Jeff picked up two of the three victories for the team, tossing 2.2 innings of shutout ball in the three game sweep. He only pitched in one game of the NLCS against the Giants, facing two batters and getting them both out. That was the closest that Jeff had ever come to playing in the World Series.

He spent all of 2003 with the Cardinals and did a bit of everything. He appeared in 62 games, which included 6 spot starts, and racked up a 1-7 record with 3 saves and a 5.68 ERA. Despite the lofty ERA and being 40 years old, he still had something left in the tank and pitched for three more seasons with the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Giants.

Jeff spent parts of sixteen seasons in the Major Leagues and went 121-124 with 25 saves and a 4.11 ERA.

This has got to be one of the best looking Jeff Fassero cards out there. I am glad that I had it in my collection and was able to get it signed.

Monday, July 30, 2018

2003 Upper Deck, Brett Tomko

#407 Brett Tomko

Here is a card that I got signed at the NBC World Series two years ago when the Kansas Stars made their first appearance there. The Stars were a roster of former Major League players competing in a tournament against college kids. Even though Wichita hosts the tournament every year, I never bothered to go until the Stars came around.

When I went to the Stars first game, I got there really early to try to get players as they showed up to the ballpark. That was a bust as all the guys came on a bus and the bus didn't stop outside of the park; it backed up into the gates. So, I went inside and it was a madhouse in there. There was a game going on at the time, so I made my way to the outfield to see if I could get some players by the clubhouse and batting cages. To my amazement, I was the only person out there and I quickly nabbed Brad Penny and Roy Oswalt after they concluded interviews with the local news outlet.

Shortly thereafter, another guy joined me out there. And then one more. We tore it up for about a half hour until a crowd gathered out there with us. Then the fun police came out and shut us down. They threw up a PVC fence to keep everyone away from that area. So, I went back to the third base line to join the madhouse and I only got two guys to sign for me there. That was nothing compared to the forty cards I got signed by the clubhouse.

This year's NBC World Series started up this past weekend and, sadly, the Stars are not a part of it. That is too bad since 'graphing the Stars games the last two years had definitely been my 'graphing highlight each season.