Thursday, July 30, 2009

1994 Signature Rookies Draft Picks, Steve Woodard

#82 Steve Woodard

To be honest, I still am not sure how I got this card signed. I got it signed last year while I was at a Round Rock Express game. Steve was pitching for the Albuquerque Isotopes at the time.

Now, in order to set this story straight, I have to start at the beginning. And the beginning of this story starts in the seventh inning. Albuquerque's Scott Nestor is pitching and he is the thrid Isotope pitcher at that point and the team was down 6-2. Nestor gave up three straight singles (and a run) and was facing Yordany Ramirez with no outs and runners on first and third. Yordany had hit a two-run home run in the previous at-bat. On the first pitch, Nestor hit him with a curve ball and immediately got tossed by the home plate umpire. The Isotopes manager came out and argued for a good twenty minutes. He had been tossed early in the argument, but he was reluctant to leave the field. Whoever took charge of the 'Topes didn't even bother to bring in a new pitcher until the manager left the field. When he finally left, Steve Woodard was brought into the game. Since he was entering the game because of an ejection, he had all the time he needed to warm up.

As he was warming up, he kept saying stuff to the third base umpire. He finally threw his final warm-up pitch and got ready to face the hitter. He said something else to the third base umpire (who said something back) and finally toed the rubber with the bases loaded and no outs. Before he even got the sign, he looked over at the third base umpire. I'm not sure if he said anything or not, but he got tossed before he even threw a single pitch. I've been to quite a few games, but that was a first for me.

So, the 'Topes had to bring in another pitcher that had as much time as was needed to warm up. From the time of the beaning to the next pitch was a good 45 minutes. It was pretty ridicoulous.

So, Steve headed for the locker room. In Round Rock, the locker room is behind the left field fence. In fact, it is so far behind the fence that the players have to walk across the concourse to get from the field to the locker room (it is a great place for autographs, by the way).

Steve ended up watching the rest of the game from the concourse there. I went up to him and asked for an autograph and he told me that they weren't allowed to sign during the game. So, I waited around that area until the game was over.

While I was waiting, I ended up standing next to one of the EMTs that was assigned to the game. I must have been going through my book to see who I still needed because she ended up asking about it. She thought that it was pretty cool and I told her that I was waiting for the game to get over so that I could get Woodard's autograph and I pointed to him so she could see who I was talking about.

As soon as the last out was recorded, I walked straight over to Steve, but he had already started to head back to the locker room. I asked him to sign and he either didn't hear me or ignored me, and he kept on walking. So, I found a spot to stand to wait for the other players that would be coming across the concourse when the EMT walked up to me. She told me that if I wanted Woodard's autograph, I had better get it now and pointed to where he was. I headed over to him and he signed my three cards and headed back into the clubhouse.

Apparently the EMT was able to get him back out there for a second. I have no idea how she did it, but I certainly appreciated it.

Click on the Steve Woodard link at the top. It will take you to the Baseball Almanac page that has this card on it. But their card was one of the insert autographs from this set. Check out how much his signature has changed from 1994 to 2008. It's pretty drastic.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

1994 Signature Rookies Draft Picks, Jason Camilli

#39 Jason Camilli

I got this card signed last summer at a Staten Island Yankees game. The Yanks were playing the Vermont Lake Monsters and Jason was their hitting coach. I got him to sign the card before the game. While he was signing it, a few of his players came over to check out the card. He told them, "yeah, that was me in rookie ball". You could definitely sense that he missed playing in the way he said that.

Jason never made it to the Majors. He played in the minors for nine seasons, but only got into 56 AAA games in two different stints. He spent most of the time in the Montreal organization and was a .238 hitter for his career.

Check out that jersey. Signature Rookies didn't have a minor league licence. They were like the '90s version of modern day Donruss. Rather than just airbrush out the team name, they decided to add some ridiculously large numbers to the front of the jersey. It looks like he is wearing a cheap, button-down, football jersey.

Monday, July 27, 2009

1994 Signature Rookies, John Burke

#21 John Burke

John Burke was drafted three times. He was drafted in the 34th round by the Orioles in 1989. He didn't sign, and instead attended the University of Florida. Two years later, he got drafted again. This time it was by the Astros in the 1st round, 6th overall. Again, he didn't sign and he went back to school. In 1992, he was drafted a third time. This time he had the distinction of being the Rockies first ever draft pick (1st round, 27th overall). He signed with the Rockies and even made 10 starts with the Bend Rockies that year where he went 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA.

The next year, he made 28 starts between high A Central Valley and AAA Colorado Springs. After that season, it seems that he started getting injured. And with a pitcher, that usually means arm problems. In 1994, he only made 12 appearances. In '95, he made 19 appearances. He must have been feeling much better in '96 as he made 38 appearances, 11 of them with the Colorado Rockies. He pitched 15.2 innings for the Rockies and had a 7.47 ERA. The next year, he had 17 appearances, 8 of them starts, for the Rockies and finished with a 2-5 record and a 6.56 ERA. In 1998, he made 2 appearances with Salem and 6 with Colorado Springs. He hung up the spikes after that.

I bought this card for $5, around 1994 or '95, at the local card shop (which is still alive and kickin'). Signature Rookies usually came with one autograph per pack, but the packs usually consisted of minor leaguers or draft picks. I never bought any packs of from this. I just bought this one card of a player that I was hoping was an up-and-comer. I didn't do too well on that one.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

1994 Select, James Mouton

#184 James Mouton

Here is another James Mouton card that I got signed at Astros Fanfest right before the season started. This is the second Mouton autograph that I have shown on here. The first one was posted back in April, about a week after 'Strosfest.

James, in my opinion, falls into the same catagory that John Hudek and Brian Williams fell into. To me, they seem like some lesser players that had very short tenures with the team. I've only been to one 'Strosfest and I am hoping that these guys aren't invited every year. If they aren't, then it is a great idea to have some different lesser players come in every year. It wouldn't be much fun to go to the event every year if it is just the same people signing. That is how Royals Fanfest is starting to look after only its second year. Hopefully, both teams will mix it up next year, even though I probably will not be going to either one.

These rookie prospect cards are completely different than the base cards. They still keep a portion of the front tinted, but that is about the only resemblence to the base cards. I do, for some reason, like the tear going through the card. It is very subtle and divides the tint and non-tint nicely.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

1994 Select, Brady Anderson

#55 Brady Anderson

I picked this card up in a trade. It was actually my first trade that only involved autographed cards. One day, I got an email from a guy that wanted a couple of '89 Donruss that I had signed. The email came from Derick, who runs DK's Baseball Signatures. Derick is trying to get his '89 Donruss set autographed and he asked if I would be willing to part with my Dickie Thon and Bob Dernier. I only have one Dickie Thon autograph, so I kept that one. But, I have three autographs from Dernier, so I traded one for this Brady, straight up. The edges of the Brady card are a little beat-up. But, it's Brady Anderson, so I'm not too worried about.

If you get a chance, check out Derick's site. He has 77% of the '89 Donruss set signed, so he still needs a little help. He is also trying to get the '95 Score set signed and the 2000 Victory set. If you have any cards that would move him toward his goal, he has a trade list of cards he is willing to part with. That is where I picked this card from.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

1994 Score, Jose Mesa

#419 Jose Mesa

I'm going to try to make this one brief since my computer seems to be crapping out and I am doing this post on my PS3.

I got this card signed through the mail in the mid '90s. I probably got it in 1995 after Jose made his first of two All Star teams. Jose had a fairly long career and saved over 300 games. I would rattle off some more stats, but I'm not sure how to open up a new browser on here and I don't want to lose what I've "typed" so far.

So, that's it. Hopefully I'll get my computer running full speed this weekend and will have some more posts on Monday. I won't be doing it this way again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1994 Pinnacle, Mike Macfarlane

#488 Mike Macfarlane

Here is the third and final Mike Macfarlane card that I got signed at Fanfest this past January. You can see the first one here and the second one here.

I would write more, but it has been a rough week as a Roayls fan and it isn't getting any better. To sum it up (and to tie it into this post, somewhat) I will relay the thoughts of one postgame caller to the local KC radio station this past Friday. He references Mac-N-Seitz, a Kansas City hitting academy owned by Mike Macfarlane and Kevin Seitzer. He basically said that "there is no way that Kevin Seitzer should be a Major League hitting coach; if the players wanted advice from him, they could just go down to Mac-N-Seitz, drop down a roll of quarters and get all of the advice they needed". And while the hitting hasn't been the problem since the All-Star break (it has been the bullpen), I still thought that it was funny and barely applied to this post.

Brian, your Rangers look to be in good shape for the weekend.

Also, I will say that based on the four cards from Pinnacle that I posted, 1994 Pinnacle had some great photography.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1994 Pinnacle, Joe Carter

#345 Joe Carter

Here is a card that I got signed last month at the College World Series. Joe was the last former player to sign at the AT&T Fanfest booth on the first Sunday of the event. Joe signed right after Rollie Fingers.

Joe seemed like a very nice guy. He was really talkative and would sign anything anybody wanted. The was a list of approved items that the players were allowed to sign, but Joe did what he wanted and was signing just about everything. There was a couple in front of me that got a bat signed (not an approved item) and a ball signed. They guy asked Joe if he would inscribe the ball with how many home runs he hit. Joe jokingly told him that there wasn't enough room on the ball to list all of his home runs. Then he inscribed it 396 HR and then he told the guy that "they were all legit, too".

I took a couple of cards to get signed by Joe. But, while I was at the card shop across the street, I stumbled upon this one and got it signed instead of my other one. I just lived the photo on it. Plus, check out the guy in the first row with the Don Mattingly shirt on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2009 Hall of Fame Classic

On Friday, the Royals had the Hall of Fame Classic (HFC). The HFC was an oldtimers game that was played to commemorate the opening of the Royals Hall of Fame (RHF). The renovations to Kauffman Stadium have been complete since the start of the season, with one exception- the Royals Hall of Fame. That Hall was completed prior to the All-Star break and was set to open for the first home game of the second half.

The last couple of seasons, Willie Wilson has hosted the Willie Wilson Classic at Community America Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones of the Northern League. Supposedly, Willie and the Royals had some sort of falling out and the Royals never invited him back to the ballpark, with the one exception of his 2000 RHF induction. But, apparently, everything got worked out and Willie was at Royals Fanfest this past winter. It was around that time that the HFC, presented by Willie Wilson, was announced. So, that meant that Kauffman Stadium was getting the event and not Community America Ballpark.

I went to the Willie Wilson Classic last year and had a great time. I got a ton of autographs and enjoyed the game. Just click on the WWC label to see some of my posts about the event.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy myself this year as much as last year. For starters, this game was held prior to a Royals game while last years was held on an open date. As an autograph collector, I knew that the visiting team would not be taking batting practice on the field because of the HFC. So, I planned on getting to the ballpark around noon to try to get some signatures from the Rays, and maybe some of the oldtimers, as they arrived at the ballpark. To my dismay, way too many people had the same idea. It was unreal for a Royals game. There was about thirty people there when I arrived and that number kept growing as the afternoon went one. The only Rays autograph that I got was from a coach, Todd Greene. The only oldtimers autograph that I got was from John Wathan. I also got an autograph from Luke Hochevar and Mike Jacobs of the Royals as well as a Goose Joak Original signed by the Royals GM, Dayton Moore. Needless to say, I didn't do too well outside of the ballpark.

Around 3:30, a bus arrived at the players drop-off point. I thought that it was going to be the Rays second team bus until it pulled up and looked like a fancy school bus. I was about to leave the area until I saw Willie Wilson jump off the bus. He was followed by the other oldtimers as they made their way to the ballpark. Everyone was asking for signatures and no one signed a single one. They said that they would sign inside of the park.

After that, I went and got in line at the gates. It was about twenty-five minutes before the gates opened and I was first in line. On the way to the gate, I drifted off by Arrowhead Stadium to get a picture of "The K" from beind the home plate area. Here is how it looks after the renovation.

For those of you unfamiliar to the ballpark, here is what it looked like two years ago.

So, I got in line and waited for the gaets to open. I was on the third base side since it is closer to the visitor's dugout. I figured that the RHF players would be in the Royals dugout and the Legends team would be in the thrid base dugout. That wasn't the case and I had to make my way over to the first base dugout. I got a good spot there and waited for all the players that said that they would sign inside to start signing. Needless to say, that did not happen. I only saw three guys sign autographs inside the ballpark- Bert Campaneris, Fergie Jenkins, and Todd Hundley.

Bert signed a bunch of autographs in my area and I was fortunate enough to get three cards signed by him. Fergie signed a little on the opposite end of the dugout. People had to toss their balls over to him to get them signed and I wasn't about to throw my autograph book over the dugout. I got his signature last year, so I skipped out on him this year. Todd Hundley signed a few autographs down the foul line after warming up with his dad, but he didn't sign long enough for me to even leave my spot. I didn't see a single RHFer sign for anybody! It was kind of depressing even though I already had signatures from most of them.

After a quick batting practice session, the Legends headed over to the third base dugout. They were getting ready to announce the participants and I was able to get this photo of Willie Wilson and Frank White in the dugout.

Shortly afterward, as they were being announced, George Brett was announced.

George wasn't on the list of Royals players, so it was good to see him out on the field that day.

Here is the Royals Hall of Famers on the field (L-R Willie Wilson, Frank White, John Mayberry, Amos Otis, John Wathan [not a RHF, but someone had to catch], George Brett, Jeff Montgomery, Dennis Loenard, and Steve Busby). Freddie Patek was about to be introduced as the photo was taken and I have no idea where Cookie Rojas, Larry Gura, Whitey Herzog, and Bret Saberhagen were that day (actually Saberhagen was in a pro/am golf tournament at Lake Tahoe).

As for the Legends team, it consisted of Fergie Jenkins, Ron Robinson, Todd Hundley, Randy Hundley, George Foster, Bert Campaneris, Bobby Dernier, Dave Stewart, and John Warden.

Here is a picture from the first inning as Frank White bats with George Brett on deck. The second photo shows Brett grounding into a double play as John Mayberry gets ready on deck.

This was the first time that I have seen Brett bat in-person since I was a fourth grader in 1989. It was kind of cool, but not as cool as it would have been if he had got a hit, like Frank White did.

After the first, I went to get something to eat and then headed to the RHF. The HFC just wasn't nearly as fun as it was last year. Last year, John Warden MC'd the event and did a great job. This year, they had Willie Wilson, George Foster, Dennis Leonard, and John Warden mic'd up to the soundsystem and it sucked. You couln't tell who was talking or what they were talking about.

While I was eating, I watched the game for another inning. After I got in line for the RHF, I was out of the loop for the game. I didn't even know who won the game until I looked it up an hour ago (it wasn't the Royals, which was fitting).

The RHF was doing a weird thing where 40 people were admitted in every 15 minutes. I had to wait about 45 minutes before I could get in. Once I entered the facility, I was greeted by this.

It was an ash wall telling the story of baseball in Kansas City. It featured headlines from the first professional team in Kansas City, the Unions, to the Royals World Series victory in 1985.

While in that big entrance way, we had to stay there for about 15 minutes listening to a 24-year old ask some Royals trivia. After that, twelve people were admitted to a theatre where they were able to watch a 15 minute video on the history of baseball in Kansas City. At least that is what I think it was about since I wasn't one of the twelve. After that, we had the option of skipping the video and heading straight for the museum section. Why that option wasn't presented to us right away is beyond me. Hopefully, they will get this stuff straighted out in the coming weeks.

Here is one of the first displays that I saw in the RHF. It features potential logos for the Royals in there early days. Interestingly, most of the logos were designed by Hallmark. I like the one on the bottom left the best. I wish that it would have been selected, but with todays KC rather than the one that is used.

After that, there was a bunch of interactive displays. They had touch screen TVs set up where you could choose video clips that you could watch and they even has a screen where you could design your own ballpark. That sounds interesting to me, but I bet that it is not that cool once you get into it.

They had one display with all of their current minor league home jerseys on it. Right after that, they showed off some of their early jerseys. Here is a picture of the coolest two. Unfortunately, I do not think that they had an original road jersey.

Across from that display was a display of some of their promotions that they had throughout the years. They had various shirts and hats on display as well as a photo from 1969s "hot pants day". They even had every single bobblehead that they have given away since 2003.

After that, they had their closers section. Here they had a nice display for Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery. They had a Rolaids Relief Man Award for each pitcher as well as one of their gloves.

Next to that was the Cy Young award winning section. A Royal has won the award three times and each of those was on display there- Bret Saberhagan, 1985 and 1989; and David Cone, 1994.

This was the last display before one entered the main gallery. The main gallery consists of the '85 World Series trophy, the American League championship trophies, the Royals Hall of Famers pictures, and special section dedicated to the two Royals players that have had their numbers retired by the Royals- George Brett and Frank White.

Here is the entrace to that gallery. It is a giant number 5 that has George Brett's 3000th hit bat and ball located in the middle of it. George had 3,154 hits in his career and that number 5 is made up of 3,154 baseballs.

To the right of the number 5 was the Frank White section. This area featured Frank's eight Gold Gloves and one of his actual gloves. Unfortunately, I did not get a good picture of the area, so don't bother clicking on it. It is pretty blurry.

After that was the Hall of Fame section that wasn't too much different than the old section at the K. Once you left that area, you were pretty much out of the RHF and were in a miniture gift shop.

Overall, I was pleased with the Hall of Fame. It seemed a little small on the inside compared to the outside and a suite takes up the enire first level. I didn't make it into the theatre, but I'm sure that that will fill in some of the space. I would have liked to have seen something along the lines as a Municipal Stadium model, like the Reds have in there Hall of Fame with Crosly Field. But, at least they didn't have any kids games in the RHF like the Reds do (althought the "design your own stadium" could make up for that). The Royals also had one of the things that you can do at a lot of ballparks these days in the RHF. It was one of the "you make the calls" where you watch a Royals highlight and call the game in place of Denny Matthews. That might be kind of fun. I have thought about doing something similar to that at other ballparks that I have been to, but those were all recorded on tape or CD. The Royals is emailed to you. If they ever make it where you can call a half inning of the game with a buddy, I will defintiely take part in that.

Conversely, I hope that the Willie Wilson Classic goes back to Kansas City, Kansas next year. It was much more fan friendly at the minor league park.

1994 Pinnacle, Raul Mondesi

#242 Raul Mondesi

Here is another through the mail success that I got in the mid 90s. In 1994, Raul was the third straight Dodger to win the Rookie of the Year Award. The franshise went on to win five straight with Eric Karros and Mike Piazza winning the first two and Hideo Nomo and Todd Hollandsworth winning the last two. Only two franshises have won the award more than two years consecutively and the Dodgers have done it twice. They won four in a row from 1979-1982. The other team is Oakland and they won three straight from 1986-1988. In fact, Dodger players have won the award more than any other franchise. They have won it 16 times. The team that has won the second most times is the Yankees and they have 8.

I always liked Raul while he was a Dodger. He hit for power, he could run, and he had a cannon for arm. He was so pround of his arm that he actually got a cannon tattooed on it. I'm pretty sure that there was even a baseball card made that showed off the tattoo. But, prior to the 2000 season, Raul was traded to the Blue Jays for Shawn Green. He played for Toronto for two and a half years before being dealt to the Yankees. After a year in a half in New York, Raul started to bounce from team to team. He played for three more years for four different teams and never played in more than 45 games a year. In 2005, he hit .211 for the Braves in 41 games before being released at the end of May. After that, his career was over.

This was one of my favorite signatures while growing up. While the actual autograph is rough on the eyes, I liked that he added his number. It seems that baseball players aren't as big on adding their numbers as basketball and football players are (at least in the late 80s to the mid 90s). So, it was always cool to get a number added to a card. Plus, the photo is great.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1994 Pinnacle, Orel Hershiser

#58 Orel Hershiser

Here is another Hershiser card that I have signed. The last one I posted on here was obtained during the College World Series. But, this one is actually a through the mail success that I obtained in the mid-90s. I'm pretty sure that I got this one signed while Orel was an Indian.

This was actually my second attempt at getting Orel's signature TTM. I was not so lucky the first time. On the first attempt, I got my card back unsigned along with some other Dodger stuff including a pocket schedule and a decal. It also came with this postcard.

Here is the letter on the back.

These were fairly common in the late 80s and early 90s. I have some of these from Don Mattingly, George Brett, Mike Paizza, David Cone, and Dave Justice, just to name a few. Sometimes, if you were lucky, you would get something like this that was actually signed, like Shane Victorino and Tim Lincecum do these days. But, that was not the case with Orel.

I think that the main reason I wrote to him a second time was to see if he had one of these cards made of him as an Indian. Luickily, he didn't, and he signed my card instead.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

1994 Leaf Limited Rookies, Ray Holbert

#73 Ray Holbert

Here is another card from Rod, of Padrographs. This one is of Ray Holbert, a player with 202 Major League at-bats spread out over five seasons with the Padres, Braves, Expos, and Royals. In 2000, Ray played in three games with the Royals and got one hit, the last hit he ever had in the big leagues. By coincidence, I was at two of those games that year and saw his final hit.

His final hit came on June 18 against the A's Gil Heredia. That game is memorable for me because it was the worst beating that the Royals have taken in their 40 year history. On that day, they lost 21-3. Ray went into the game as a defensive replacement in the fifth inning. At that point, the Royals were down 17-2. He came up in the sixth and hit a 2-1 pitch for a single that moved Mike Sweeney from first to third. I wonder if Ray remembers his last hit like I do. Hopefully, his memory is a little more special to him than it is to me.

I don't remember too much about Leaf Limited. They are an overly foiled card and I am sure that they were not cheap. That is about all that I know of them. The signature shows up real nicely on this one, though.

Interestingly, there is no position listed on this card.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

1994 Fleer Update, Eddie Williams

U-191 Eddie Williams

Here is the second card from the update set that Rod sent me. This card features back-up first baseman, Eddie Williams. Eddie was a promising prospect and even had a 1988 Donruss Rated Rookie card. But, it never came together for him in the Majors and he bounced around from team to team and never played 100 games in a season with any of them.

He had stops in CLeveland, Chicago (WS), San Diego, Detroit Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. Plus, he played in the minors with the Braves, Brewers, and Twins organizations. At one point, he even played in Japan after the Padres sold him to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.

The last season he played in the Majors was 1998. But, he wasn't ready to hang it up just yet. He played until 2002 with some independent and Mexican League teams. He played for Solano in the Western league, Mexico City of the Mexican League, and Sioux Falls and Fargo-Morehead of the Northern League.

So, Eddie deffinitely had a long and interesting career. People from all over got to see him play. I never saw him play, but I have this great card of him to make up for that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 Futures Game weekend, day two

On Sunday, it was off to St. Louis. We were back on the road before eight in the morning and we arrived in the downtown area about two hours later. After finding a place to park and stopping at the arch to use the restroom, we were at the ballpark about a half hour before the gates were supposed to open.

While we walked by Sponser Fest, we apparently walked right past the legendary basketball coach, Bob Knight. I never saw him because I was checking out everything in the Sponser Fest area. But my dad saw him and he wasn't sure who it was. Shortly afterward, a guy came up to my dad and asked him if he knew who that was. My dad said that he didn't, but the guy looked familiar. My dad was shocked when he found out and I was even more shocked since I didn't see him and since my dad didn't even point him out to me. Needless to say, the day was off to an interesting start.

When we got to the gate, there was a decent crowd there waiting to get in. Most of them were autograph collectors who were going through their cards to make sure they were all organised correctly. One guy in front of me had a clear backpack on that had at least a dozen Major League baseballs in it. So, I knew right away that it was going to be tougher to get autographs than at your average Royals game.

Here is a picture of the All-Star arch in front of the team store and statues of the Cardinal legends

When the gates finally opened (15 minutes late), it was a rush to get from the third base entrance to the first base dugout. As I was going around the home plate area, I looked over to the spot that I was heading to and was a little dismayed at the throng of people standing there already. Where they came from, I don't know. There are no entrances on the first base side of the ballpark, so maybe they came from a right field entrance? I don't know. So, I went down by the tarp and stood in the second row of people in the first row of seats. Yes, it was that packed.

It was so packed that you had to wait for a player to come to your area because there was no room to move. I couldn't have left that area if I wanted to. It felt like I was in a very tame mosh pit. So, I stood there patiently waiting. I waited while Jemile Weeks signed to my left. I waited as Brad Lincoln signed to my right. I waited while the USA team left the field and the World team took it for infield practice. While the USA team was waiting for the World to finish taking infield, I was able to get former Red Sox second baseman, John Valentin, to come over and sign. Then it was back to waiting and I waited as the teams switched again for the USA's fielding practice. By now, I was tired of waiting and started to think that getting autographs from the players was going to be impossible. I was looking for an exit out of my area as the US team left the field and headed for the dugout. Then, out of the blue, about ten of the players popped out of the dugout to sign autographs.

Most of those players started on my left and made their way down the line signing for everyone. It was pretty cool. Here are the US players that I got cards signed from- Desmond Jennings(2), TB; Jarrod Parker, AZ; Trevor Reckling, LAA; Danny Espinosa(2), Was; Josh Vitters(3), ChC; Brad Lincoln, Pit; Pedro Alvarez, Pit. A few other players were signing, but I didn't have any cards of them.

One guy that got Pedro Alvarez's signature was a little ticked off. He had a card of Pedro that had Pedro's picture on the top half of the card and a picture of another player on the bottom. Pedro signed over the picture on the bottom. The guy wasn't too happy, but I thought that it was funny.

After I got these cards signed, an usher came down to the area and told us that we had to move down because there was four people that needed their seats in the front row. The usher obviously wasn't very smart because you can't have a small group of people move over when there is a large group of people, that doesn't want to move, blocking the way. Why it was so important for these people to be in their seats an hour before the game starts in beyond me, but it seemed to be a pressing concern for the usher. Oh well.

It looked like things were starting to cool down on that side and thanks to the hard-working usher, I was able to finally leave that area. I headed over to the World side to try to get some signatures from those players. The first player to come to my area was Juan Carlos Sulbaran from the Reds organization. He grabbed my autograph book just as some lady came up from behind him and told him something. He then handed my book back to me and headed for the dugout. This lady then made her way down the line making all of the players quit signing.

So, that was that, and I headed to the team store to get an All Star game ball for my friend Dustin, who was watching my dog for the weekend. When I got out of the store, I went back out by the feild and saw that some USA players were signing on the World side. So I headed down to the field and just as I got there, that same lady came up behind all of the players and shooed them off of the field. That was the end of autographs for the Futures Game, for then.

We then made our way out to the bleachers to find our seats. I bought bleacher seats since they are hard to come by for Cardinal games and I thought that it would be fun to sit there for a game. The seats were right next to the home team bullpen and I was able to get a photo of the USA's starting pitcher, Chris Tillman of the Orioles organization, as he warmed up.

Genuwine sang the National Anthem before the game. It was a little unusual, but it wasn't bad. As soon as the game started, the rain moved in. Chris Tillman got beat around a bit and ended up surrendering two runs in the top of the first inning. It got to the point that Ozzie Smith, the USA manager, had a pitcher warming up in the middle of the inning. But Chris worked his way out of the inning. As soon as the top half of the inning was over, the grounds crew came out and pulled out the tarp. What came next was a four hour long rain delay.

If it was a normal game, it would have been called. But since it was a special game, they wanted to do whatever it took to get the game in. So, I walked around a bunch during the delay and grabbed some lunch as well. I also got some shots of the tarp-covered field from many angles.

Here is a shot of the field from the left field line.

Here is a shot of the field from the second level.

Here is a shot of the field from the thrid level.

Here is a shot of the field from the upper deck.

Here is a shot from the left field line, three hours later than the first one.

Shortly after that last picture was taken, a couple of USA pitchers (Brad Lincoln and Kyle Drabek) came out of the bullpen and started throwing a frisbee back and forth. But, this wasn't your average frisbee. It was one of those thin ones with the big hole in the middle, like a halo, that can be thrown extremely far. They were having fun playing with that and drawing some cheers from the fans until the frisbee landed on the tarp. Brad Lincoln had to retrieve the disc and, being the respectable ballplayer that he is, he removed his spikes. And his socks.

It was an unusual sight for a ballgame and was a good distraction from the non-stop rain. Luckily, the rain let up shortly afterward and the grounds crew took the tarp off of the field. Here is the river that was created after that.

After the rain stopped, I went down by the field on the World side. Jesus Montero, a catcher form the Yankees organization, started to head to the bullpen. But he got blocked by the tarp right in front of me. I asked if he would sign while he waited and he did. Next thing I know, I am surrounded by people that want his autograph. I was able to get out of that area and I moved closer to the infield so that I was by myself again. About that time was when the players started to come back out to warm up and play catch

Here is a picture of Tyson Gillies playing catch with Brett Lawrie.

I had never heard of Tyson before and I didn't have any cards of him. But he has got to be one of the best signers in baseball. During the rain delay, he stood outside of the dugout for at least an hour signing autographs. He had a towel over his head for most of the time until someone finally got him a poncho. I thought that that was very cool. As for Brett Lawrie, I called him over to sign and he went straight to the area that I was standing when I got Jesus Montero's signature. I guess he would rather sign for a group than a single person and I have no problem with that (although there would have been a group by me had he come over).

The only other player from the World team that I got to sign for me was Alex Liddi. Alex was the lone Italian on the team and I'm pretty sure that he is the first player born in Italy that I got a card signed from. Alex was real nice and had a thick Italian accent. I was able to get a picture of him while he signed.

After that, it was back to the bleachers to watch the game. As soon as the game started back up, it starting raining again. It wasn't bad, but it was bad enough that I couldn't keep score. So, I don't have a score sheet to do a game recount from. All I know is that the USA blew a 5-3 lead and lost 7-5.

Here is a picture of the game from the right-center field bleachers.

As soon as the game was over, we headed for the car. No celebrity and legend softball game for us. We had a six hour drive home and both of us had to work the next day. Because of the rain delay, we were already going to be getting home later than we anticipated. So we said screw it and headed home. We were both looking forward to the game and were obviously disappointed that we had to skip out on it. But, it was better than falling asleep while driving home and cheaper than getting a hotel for the night and missing work the next day.

But, all in all, it was a great weekend, and a quick one at that. The entire trip lasted less than 41 hours and 17 of those hours were spent driving. But, I came home with 43 autographs which means I averaged over one an hour.

I wanted to thank Phungo for giving me the idea to go to this event and Cards in the Attic for convincing me to drop $12 on a minor league team set.

Here is the best saying that I heard at the Futures Game:

"The World sucks!!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1994 Fleer Update, Luis Lopez

#U-187 Luis Lopez

This card is another card that Rod, from Padrographs, sent to me. Before I got the package, I didn't have a single '94 Fleer card signed, let alone an update card. In fact, I didn't have any '94 update cards at all. Now I have two and they are both signed.

Luis is one of three Luis Lopez's to play in the Major Leagues. This Luis Lopez was by far the most successful of the three and he played in 629 more games than the other two combined. He spent parts of 11 seasons in the Majors with five different teams. In 1998, he appeared in 117 games with the Mets. That was the only season that he played in over a hundred games.

Luis has an original signature. It reminds of the ribbon magnets that you see on cars for supporting the troops or breast cancer awareness or something. It looks like he makes three of those with each one orientated in a slightly different direction.

2009 Futures Game weekend, day one

This weekend, I headed over to St. Louis for the Futures Game. St. Louis is a six hour drive for me, so I wasn't going to drive 12 hours just to see that game and a celebrity softball game. I wanted to see either the River City Rascals or the Gateway Grizzlies play (both of the Frontier League), but both of those teams were out of town on Saturday. They both play in the St. Louis suburbs and were the closest minor league teams to St. Louis. So, I went to the next closest city that had a home game- Burlington, Iowa.

I woke up Saturday morning and was on the road by 9:50. Seven hours and twenty minutes later, I was in the parking lot of Community Field, home of the 2008 Midwest League champion, Burlington Bees. It was another twenty minutes until the gates opened, so I walked around and took some pictures. Here is a picture of the ballpark.

As soon as the gates opened, I was down by the field and ready to get some autographs. I guess that I forgot that I was at a minor league game because there was no one on the field. So, I went to the team store and picked up the 2009 Burlington Bees team set. After that, I went down to the visiting side to see how the setup of the field was. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as the last minor league park I was at (Principle Park). This old park was set up more traditionally and the clubhouses were under the stands and they led directly to the dugout. When I found that out, I had a choice to make. I could stand on the visiting side and try to get the five cards I brought with me signed. Or, I could go to the home side and try to get the ten cards that I had brought and the team set signed. Did I mention that the Bees were a Royals affiliate? So, needless to say, I went to the home team side.

But, I did leave my dad on the visiting side. He hates to get autographs since he doesn't know who is who. So, I hastily introduced him to a couple of the other people trying to get signatures from the visiting team (Lansing Lugnuts) and showed them who I needed and asked them to help my dad out as best that they could. They ended up being very helpful and my dad was able to get two of the cards signed for me (you've got to start somewhere).

When I got over to the home team side, I ended up standing next to one of the Burlington regulars. I saw his stack of cards and asked if this was the place to be. He said that it was and we talked for awhile until the Bees started to come out of the dugout. Once they started to come out, he was telling me who was who so I didn't have to look them up on the roster.

The first player to come out was the starting pitcher, Tim Melville. Tim just happened to go to high school three hours south of Burlington and there was a small crowd of people from his home town waiting to see him. I went over to the crowd and waited patiently as he signed for all of them. As soon as they all had their stuff signed, I got my team card signed and went back over to my spot by the local. When I got there, he had sorted my team set so that all of the players that were no longer on the team were separate from the rest. I thought that that was a real nice gesture.

The generosity didn't end there. This guy helped me get quite a few autographs. I would have a player that I called over signing a card or two for me as another player went by. This guy would call that player over and get him to sign for me as soon as the other guy left. At other times, he would call over players just so they could sign my team card. There was also a Dominican pitcher that just stood at the edge of the dugout with an unusual first name (Manauris). I asked him how the name was pronounced and he said "we're still trying to figure that out, but I'll get him over here for you". A few minutes later, Manauris happened to be looking in our direction and the guy waved him over. Sure enough, he came right on over and signed for me. It was a pretty good night on the autograph front as I ended up getting all ten cards that I took with me signed. Plus, I got another fourteen signed from the team set.

After the game started, we ended up seeing a great ballgame. It was a pitching duel for the first seven innings. In the top of the 8th, Lansing's Ken Wilson hit a home run to give them the lead. But, it was short lived as the Royals 2008 first round draft pick (third overall), Eric Hosmer, hit a two-run shot in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead back. The very next batter also hit a homer to increase the lead to two and that was more than the Bees needed to win the game 4-2. Here is a picture of Hosmer from earlier in the game.

After the game, we ended up driving halfway to St. Louis. There, we got a hotel room and called it a night. I will do a post about the Futures Game before the All-Star game.

Here are a few extra pictures of the ballpark in Burlington.

The first thing you notice about the ballpark when you get there is the sail-like roof. Here is a side shot of that. It is hard to believe that it is a free-standing structure.

Here is a picture from the third base line looking toward home. Needless to say, it wasn't a full crowd, but we still had a great time.

This last photo was taken just before the last out and shows the tail-end of a great Midwestern sunset and the old light poles that are still used at the ballpark.

Overall, it was a great first day to the trip and I came out with 28 autographed cards.

Monday, July 13, 2009

1994 Fleer, Carl Willis

#222 Carl Willis

I got back from St. Louis very late last night and should be getting ready for work right now. But, I figured that I would do a quick post. After work (and home run derby) and during the celebrity softball game (which I will be watching for the first time), I will do a post about my weekend.

But first, here is the third and final card from the Indians pitching coach, Carl Willis. This card was signed at the Astros-Indians exhibition game in Houston right before the season started. Here is the first card I posted of him and here is the second. Out of the three cards, this one has the best photo. They could have cropped it a little bit better, though, so that part of his wrist and glove were not chopped off.

This was the first card from the set that I got signed in person. And if you really want to get picky, you could say that this is the only card from this set that I have signed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Going to the Futures Game

I am leaving town Saturday morning. I am heading to Burlington, Iowa on Saturday to see the Bees take on the Lansing Lugnuts. Then I will be in St. Louis on Sunday for the Futures Game and the celebrity softball game. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to do any posts before I left. So, I am sorry to say that there will be no posts until Monday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

1994 Collector's Choice, Tim Salmon

#251 Tim Salmon

This is the second Tim Salmon autograph that I have had on here. The first one was a '93 Donruss card that was way too glossy and the signature didn't turn out too good. Because of that, I sent Tim another card the next season and this one came out looking much better.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

1994 Collector's Choice, Dave Clark

#78 Dave Clark

Here is the third and final card that I got signed by Dave last year in Round Rock. Dave was the manager of the Express at the time. This year, he is the Astros third base coach. You can see the first card I posted here and the second one here.

This card comes form the parallel set that I think is called Silver Signatures. These were ramdomly inserted into packs and were the Collector's Choice version of Topps Gold. It is kind of a neat way of doing a parallel set. It is much better than this year's O-Pee-Chee black border cards.

It is a little strange who much Dave's "D" has changed through the years. Those two look like they were done by two different people