Saturday, January 31, 2015

2002 Topps Heritage, John Rodriguez


#107 John Rodriguez

If it was not for a wallet card sighting, it would have been back-to-back John Rodriguez posts. This one was signed at a 'Nuts game in 2012, John's first season with the team.

John was signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 1996. He moved steadily through their system and got his first taste of AA action in 2000. He played all of 2001 in AA and hit .285 with 22 home runs and 31 doubles. His power must have been the main contributor for him getting a couple of Topps cards in 2002.

Unfortunately, he had to repeat AA in 2002 and he regressed a bit. Though he only hit .215, with 15 homers and 18 doubles, he still got promoted to AAA in 2003. And AAA is where John Rodriguez would spend the majority of the remainder of his career.

John played in 546 AAA games with the Yankees, Indians, Cardinals, Mets, and Rays systems (and in Mexico). Over those nine seasons at the level, John hit .271 with 88 home runs and 315 RBI. In 2005, John split the season between the Indians and Cardinals AAA teams before getting his initial big league call-up. With the Memphis Redbirds, John got into 34 games and hit a staggering 17 home runs and drove in 47. He slugged 1.227 in the process. The Cardinals pretty much had no choice in calling him up so see what he could do at the Major League level.

Today is the day I was supposed to go to Royals Fanfest. I have been to every Royals Fanfest until this year. At the last minute last night, I decided not to go. After following the event on Twitter, I felt like it was not going to be worth my time.

The Royals have never had an efficient system for the Autograph sessions at Fanfest and they seem to get worse every year. For starters, there is no set schedule of who is going to be signing when and where. People just have to get in a line and hope for the best. When they first started the event, there was four players/alumni at each autograph station. Last year, there was just two people at the tables.

This year, there is only one person signing at each table. That was what made up my mind to not go. Last thing I want is to wait in a line for an hour just find out that Brandon Finnegan is the person signing. Now, there is nothing against Finnegan, the Royals top draft pick this year. He made history last season by being the first person to ever play in the World Series and College World Series in the same season. But, I don't have any cards of him. I don't have any cards of Lane Adams. I have one card of Terrance Gore. I didn't feel like dragging my family to Kansas City in crappy weather and then waiting in lines all day for the chance of maybe getting someone I needed was going to be worth it.

I am a little sad. But, I am sure that I would have been extremely disappointed if I went.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wallet card at Royals Caravan

2002 Topps Gold Label, John Rodriguez


#191 John Rodriguez

Here is a card brand that I have never seen before- Topps Gold Label. It almost sounds like a fine American whiskey. Nevertheless, it is one of the many cards that were available in the early 2000's. The only reason why I have this card is because John Rodriguez played for the Wichita Wingnuts in 2012. You are probably seeing a pattern right now as most of the recent signatures I am showing off are from Am-Ass players. That is because I was not collecting at the time and have bought cards from that period to get cards signed at Nuts games.

I posted my first John Rodriguez card just over two years ago. That card was posted way back when I was posting 2006 cards. It was made after John made his Major League debut with the Cardinals. This card, however, came out a few years before that one. This one was made when John was still a prospect in the Yankees organization.

John must have been playing in a warm-weather league since he is wearing shorts in this picture.

Today, the Royals Caravan hits the area. I am looking forward to getting some cards signed in-person!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2002 Topps 206, Jason Botts


#272 Jason Botts

Take a look at that signature. That is something unique. While it is definitely not readable, it does look cool. How one symbol, repeated three times, equals Jason Botts is beyond me. But, I like it anyhow.

If you click on the link above to Jason's Baseball Almanac page, you can see what his signature looked like around 2007. Based on that, you can kind of understand his progression to what the signature is today.

I got this card signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game this last season while Jason was playing for the Grand Prairie AirHogs. He signed three cards for me that day.

Jason saw time with the Rangers over parts of four seasons. He made his debut in 2005 and hit .296 in 10 games. He got into 20 games the next season, but hit just .220. In 2007, he played in a career-high 48 games and hit .240. Then in 2008, his last season as a Major Leaguer, he hit just .158 in 15 games.

For his Major League career, Jason was a .230 hitter with 5 home runs and 28 RBI.

Three days until Royals Fanfest...

Monday, January 26, 2015

2002 Fleer Tradition, David Espinosa


#U-272 David Espinosa

Here is the third and final card from the 2002 Fleer Tradition set that I have to post. Like the previous post of Angel Berroa, this card is from an American Association game on a card from the Fleer Tradition Update set. But this card is not like the Berroa card. This card is numbered 63/200. What makes this card so different that it needs to be numbered? This card is glossy! Why Fleer thought it needed to take this fine looking set and add gloss to it is beyond my comprehension. Plus, to make matters worse, it appears that the card stock is no different from regular Fleer Tradition. In order to get the gloss feel to the card, it appears that a clear layer was added on top of the card. I noticed that because some of that layer is bubbling up around some edges making it very obvious. It looks like in fifty years, I may have an unsigned, yet numbered, Fleer Tradition card that is not glossy. Who came up with these ideas? That must be one of the reasons why Fleer is no longer around.

Since I was not collecting in 2002, I am very curious how glossy cards of the Update set were even obtained. Did the Update cards come in packs? If so, were the numbered cards inserts?

I believe that this is the fourth card of David Espinosa that I have posted on this blog. The other three were obtained at the 2010 American Association All Star Game in Wichita. All three cards were posted shortly after that game.

This autograph was obtained towards the end of this past season in Wichita. David was playing for the Wingnuts at the time. He was picked up for their stretch run and was a key member to their championship squad.

Four more days until Royals Fanfest...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2002 Fleer Tradition, Angel Berroa


#U179 Angel Berroa

Here is another Royals card from the 2002 Fleer Tradition set. Unlike the last one of Joe Randa that was signed at Royals Fanfest, I got this one signed at a game a couple of years ago. In 2012, Angel Berroa, the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, was playing for the New Jersey Jackals of the Can Am League. Since the Can Am and the American Association each had an odd number of teams in the leagues, they had interleague play all season long. The Jackals happened to be the team that came to Wichita that season.

This time around, Angel signed all three cards for me. I had met him at a AAA game in 2008 in Albuquerque. While he was nice enough to stick around and sign for me, he only signed one item. I posted that card four years ago.

I enjoyed talking to Angel while he was signing for me. He used to play for the Wichita Wranglers back in the day and the 'Nuts use the same park that they vacated. I asked him about the upgrades that they made to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and he was impressed with what had been done. It was a fun, but brief, conversation and afterwards, Angel shook my hand before taking the field for warm-ups.

Six more days until Royals Fanfest...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

FREE AUTOGRAPHS!!!

Royals Fanfest is next weekend. As usual, they are trotting out the normal Royals alumni for the event. Since I have so many autos from most of those fellas (and some of the younger guys with few cards), I am willing to get some cards signed for other collectors. Just read my previous post (you'll have to scroll down through my rant on the Royals Caravan) for info.