Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2001 Topps, Luis Cotto

#713 Luis Cotto

This neat card was sent to me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff. I think that it is neat because it features two Royals draft picks that I have never heard of. Luis Cotto was the Royals 8th round pick in 2000 and the other guy was the Royals 9th round pick.

Luis made it into one AA game in the Royals organization before the Royals traded him to Cleveland in 2003. He played in the Indians organization for three seasons (again, only playing one game at AA) before he ended up in the Cardinals organization. He played there for one season of A ball before finding his way to the Atlantic League in 2007. No, he didn't play for Somerset, either. He played for York.

As for the other guy on the card, he played two seasons in the Gulf Coast League before being let go. It would probably be pretty difficult to get his signature on this card.

So much for the 8th and 9th round picks that year.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2001 Topps, Brian Tollberg

#713 Brian Tollberg

Here is a Padrograph of Brian Tollberg. Brian has done something that very few players have done. He went undrafted and started his career in an independent league and made it to the Major Leagues. While most people think of the indy leagues as a place for players that couldn't hack it in affiliated ball, many players do begin their pro careers in them. However, most of them aren't able to climb all the way to the top like Brian did.

Brian played college ball at North Florida. He didn't get drafted, but he was able to earn a spot on the Chillicothe Paints in the Frontier League. He went 7-4 there and was signed by the Brewers the following season. He advanced up to AA with them before being traded to the Padres. After four seasons with the Padre organization, he finally made his Major League debut in 2000. He spent all or parts of four seasons with the Padres and he finished his Major League career with a 15-16 record and a 4.48 ERA.

After his stint in San Diego, Brian spent a couple of seasons in AAA and the Atlantic League. 2008 was his final season playing and he finished his career the same way he started it- in an independent league.

This card must be the most commonly available card of Brian Tollberg. It is the only one that I think I have and it is the card that Baseball Almanac and The Baseball Cube use on their Tollberg pages.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2001 Topps, Jim Thome

#15 Jim Thome

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail last year. I sent the card to Jim at the beginning of Spring Training and got it back on April 9th.

I don't think I need to tell you who Jim Thome is, but I will remind you that he is a five-time All Star that has 564 Major League home runs. This season will mark the 20th season that he has been on a Major League roster, as long as he makes the Twins team.

After about a twelve year absence from TTMing, I started to get back into it in the fall of 2008. It's amazing how much easier it is to TTM with the help of the internet. You can find retired player's addresses and see which active players actually sign TTM. Obviously, I was a little bit surprised to see that Jim Thome still signs TTM. It is hard to find active 500 home run club members that do that. Heck, it is hard to find any player with 500 homers that sign TTM for free. The only other one that might, that I can think off of the top of my head, is Frank Thomas (and I may be wrong on that claim).

When I was deciding on which card to send to Jim, it was a tough task. Jim has a ton of cards with him on it. Ultimately, I decided on this card for two reasons. The first is that I mainly remember Jim as an Indian. They had some great teams in the '90s and he was one of the main reasons that they were so good. The second reason I sent this one to him is because I have very few 2001 Topps cards. This is the only '01 Topps card that I got signed. The rest of them were sent to me by other bloggers.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2001 Royal Rookies Futures, Mike Lockwood

#22 Mike Lockwood

Here is another Royal Rookies from the binder of Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff. This one features former A's and Red Sox farmhand, Mike Lockwood.

Mike was drafted by the A's out of Ohio State in the 23rd round of the 1999 draft. Looking at his numbers from his first two professional seasons, he looks like one of Billy Bean's prototypical Moneyball picks. In his first season, he posted an OPB of .451 in low A ball. He moved up to high A in his second season and his OBP was .463. After just 47 games of high A ball, he got bumped up to AA. There, he hit .309, but his OBP dropped to .377. But after 56 games at the AA level, he got promoted to AAA (all of this in his second season). He got into 36 games there and hit .254 with a .340 OBP.

Then after a fast ascent to AAA, he spent the next two seasons playing AA. He hit .260 and .242 there with an OBP around .330 each season. He started out in AA again in 2003, but he hit good enough to move up to AAA again. He started out the '04 season in AAA and was struggling at the plate before the A's traded him to the Red Sox. The Sox sent him down to AA for the rest of the year. In 2005, he spent the whole season on the Sox AAA team and he hit .229. That was his last season in affiliated ball.

After that, he went to the Atlantic League and played for the Somerset Patriots. He played for them for three years and finally retired after the 2008 season. It seems like Paul sends me quite a few cards from players that played for Somerset. They must either have some of the best talent in the league (ie, guys who have cards) or are some of the best signers.

Mike has a unique signature. I cannot make out a single letter in it except for an "R" and an "S"?

Also, I like how Royal Rookies airbrushed his hat and still had the integrity to leave all of the sweat stains untouched. That's a good-looking hat!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Joy of a Completed Page, 1986 Topps

When I did my first JoaCP, I said I wasn't going to show one from this set. Well, I got bored and changed my mind. Here it is.

I only have nine cards from the set signed (and yes, the Leonard card is from the traded set), so I figured that I might as well post this while they still fit into one page.

Here is the final tally for this sheet.

Game: 4
AAA game: 1 (Ready)- he signs his first and last name the same
Indy game (NL): 1 (Youmans)
Charity Game: 1 (Johnstone)- one of he few autographs across the face
NCAA: 1 (Law)- his signature looks a lot like his dad's
TTM: 2 ( Swift and Russell)-aka- Swift and Eastwood
Padrographs: 1 (Bochy)
College World Series: 1 (Fingers)- Hall of Famer
Spring into Sports: 1 (Leonard)- Probably has the most unique "D" in pro sports

Friday, March 26, 2010

2001 Royal Rookies Futures, Brett Jodie

#21 Brett Jodie

Here are a couple of cards that were given to me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff. I was pretty impressed the first time he gave me the card because I had never seen a signed Royals Rookies card that wasn't inserted into a pack. I was even more impressed the second time he gave me the card for a couple of reasons. One is beacuse I had only recently heard of Royal Rookies and that is because I got a few packs of the 2000 set in a repack box. I didn't know that they came out with a 2001 set until I got the first card. The second thing that impressed me about the second card is that Paul had enough of these cards signed that he was able to give me two of them and still hold at least one in reserve. I count this set as an odd-ball set and Paul did a fine job of scrounging up these cards to get signed.

As for Brett's playing career, he made eight Major League appearances (three starts) in 2001. He made his debut with the Yankees and pitched 2 innings (this was one of his starts) and gave up 6 earned runs on three round-trippers. Jose Cruz, Jr. hit two of them and Raul Mondesi hit the third. Ten days later, the Yankees traded him to the Padres for Sterling Hitchcock. His seven other appearances all happened with San Diego and he pitched 23.1 innings with them and had a 4.63 ERA.

After that season, the Yankees picked him back up off of the waiver wire. He only pitched in eight minor league games with them, so he must have been hurt. He got released after the season and ended up in the Atlantic League for 2003 where he had a 12-5 record for the Somerset Patriots. He went to Spring Training in 2004 with the Red Sox and got released before the season started and ended up sitting out that year. He pitched one final season with Somerset in 2005 before retiring to become the team's pitching coach.

If anyone would like one of these cards, just let me know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2001 Quad City River Bandits Grandstand, Terry Tiffee

#24 Terry Tiffee

Here is the second card that Tiffee gave me when he came by my house while I was in college. You can read about that here.

Surprisingly, these are the only two cards that I have signed by Terry. I have two of his 2003 Topps cards (one regular and one gold), but I have been unable to get those signed so far. I had planned on getting the regular issue one signed at a Oklahoma Red Hawks game in 2008. Terry was with the Las Vegas 51s at that time. But, he got picked to represent Team USA in the summer Olympics that year. It worked out well for him, though, as he was able to capture the bronze medal at the games. I do, however, have a few signed balls from him and an autographed bat that looks great.

Terry made his "#" sign on his "ff" on this card and then forgot to add his number.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2001 Fleer Triple Crown, Greg LaRocca

#289 Greg LaRocca

Here is the first Padrograph of 2001. This one features Greg LaRocca, who has 39 games of Major League experience with the Padres and Indians. In 88 big league at-bats, Greg hit .261 with no homers, 6 doubles, and 6 RBI. 2003 was his last season in the Majors.

Since then, he has played for three different Japanese teams. According to The Baseball Cube, Greg tore up the Central League in 2004 with Hiroshima. He hit .328 with 40 home runs and 101 RBI. That's pretty interesting considering that the most home runs he hit in a season in the minors was 15. Since that breakout season in 2004, the most home runs that he has hit was 27 in 2007. Last year with Orix, he played in 74 games and hit .287 with 12 homers and 43 RBI.

This card is the only Fleer Triple Crown card that I own and it is an interesting card. Don't be fooled by the UD Masterpieces-like white border. This card is 100% glossy, like most cards from 2001. Plus, all the info on the front, except for the Fleer logo, is gold foil. His name, positions (one spelled out and one abbreviated), number, and team are all foil as well as the Triple Crown logo and the prospect stamp. I don't think I ever noticed the prospect stamp until yesterday. But overall, it's not a bad looking card. If I had more of them, I would definitely consider getting them signed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

2001 Bowman, JR House

#363 JR House

Here is a card that I got signed in Des Moines, Iowa last year when JR was playing for the Omaha Royals. I got this card and a couple others signed between games of a doubleheader.

JR was a fifth round draft pick by the Pirates in the 1999 draft. By 2001, he was ranked as baseballs 21st best prospect and the Pirates number one prospect. He even played in the Futures Game that year. In 2002, he was still the number one prospect in the Pirate organization, but he had slipped to 41st in all of baseball. Then, it looks like he got hurt a couple of times and he got off the fast-track. But, in September of 2003, JR made his Major League debut. He pinch hit in the eighth inning in a game against the Cubs and he got a single off of Ryan Dempster. That was his lone at-bat for the year and he finished the year with a 1.000 career batting average.

That perfect batting average wouldn't last long, though. In 2004, he got another cup of coffee with the Bucs. This time, he got into five games and went 1-9. The next season found him in the Astros organization. He spent most of the year in the minors, but did get another cup of coffee. 2007 was his biggest year in the Majors. By biggest, I mean that he got into a career high 19 games with the Orioles. He hit .211 with the O's and hit his first Major League home run off of Jesse Litsch at Rogers Centre. 2008 found him back in the Astros organization and he only got three Major League at-bats. He spent all of 2009 in the minors.

For his career, JR is hitting .167 with 3 homers and 4 RBI in 60 at-bats. The minor league website lists him as a free agent.

I have no idea what is going on with JR's signature. I think that I may be able to make out an "H", but I am not positive about that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2001 Appalachian League Top Prospect Grandstand, Justin Hileman

#16 Justin Hileman

I'm pretty sure that this is the longest title I have had since I started this blog.

Here's a card that Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff, sent me last September. The coolest thing about it is the card itself. I have never been to an Appalachian League game before and as a result, I do not have any cards from he league. So, I thought that it was neat that I got my first card from the league and it was also signed.

As for Hileman, he didn't make it too far in baseball. He played for five seasons in the Cardinals system but never made it above high-A ball. After that, he played four and a half seasons of independent ball, mostly with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League. He did really good in the Atlantic League and his best season was in 2007 when he hit .287 with 17 homers and 82 RBI. His average drooped to .236 in 2008 and he retired after the season.

The Baseball Cube page for him lists his first name as Jutt and he appears to have signed this card that way as well. This is the first time that I have ever seen Justin shortened to Jutt.

Jutt is playing for the Johnson City Cardinals on this card. The JC Cards are still around today and are still affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals. The team is located in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Friday, March 19, 2010

1981 Donruss, Don Baylor

#413 Don Baylor

Here is one of the few Spring Training autograph requests that I have got back this month. This one is of the Rockies batting coach, Don Baylor.

A couple of firsts happened on this request. The most obvious is that his signature got smudged. While a smudged signature is not a first, a smudged signature on an '81 Donruss card is (at least for me). The other first is that this card came back in a different envelope than the one I sent with it. That, too, has happened to me before. But the previous ones all came back from companies that handled the big-name players and the envelopes contained photos, schedules, and fan club stuff. It has never happened for a normal TTM request. I don't know if my SASE got ripped when he opened the letter or what. Luckily, Don was nice enough to fill out a new envelope and provide postage to get my card back to me. That made up for the smudge.

As for Don's playing days, he played from 1970-1988 with the Orioles, A's, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins. He was an All-Star in 1979 and he played in the World Series in each of his last three seasons, winning it all in 1987 with the Twins. For his career, he finished up with 2,135 hits and 338 home runs. He was also beaned 267 times which ranks him fourth on the all time list.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 54/100

On second thought, I have had a card come back in a different envelope once before. It was from John Olerud in the early '90s. I sent a card to him while he was still a Blue Jay and included the correct Canadian postage on my SASE. I got my card back after the season in a different envelope that was mailed out of Washington.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

1999 Team Best, Vernon Wells

NN Vernon Wells

Here is the last of my checkoutmycards purchase. I was able to acquire this one for $1.25. I felt like that was a very good price for an autograph of a two-time All Star and three-time gold glover. I'm sure Vernon has some autographs in some newer sets that would cost at least five dollars, so I am very happy with my pick up. Plus, unlike most newer autographs, this one is on-card.

Vernon was an All Star in 2003 and 2006. 2003 was his best year and he had career highs in all of the major offensive categories, including average (.317), home runs (33), doubles (49), and RBI (117). After his All Star season of 2006, the Jays rewarded Vernon with a seven year, $126 million contract. I think that the contract is back-loaded, but it averages out to $18 million a year.

Since signing that contract, Vernon hasn't had more than 20 home runs or 80 RBI in a season. The one season that he hit better than his career average was 2008 and he missed a third of the season to injuries. Last year, he put up respectable numbers (.260, 15, 66), but nothing close to the numbers you would expect from someone making $18 million dollars a year.

According to Baseball Almanac, Vernon made just under $5 million in 2009. Maybe he is basing his stats on how much he is getting paid at the time. If that is the case, then he better have 50 homers and 140 RBI in 2014 while he is probably making close to $25 million.

APB: 2007 Allen & Ginter, Augie Garrido

I figured that I would try something a little different today. Last night, I decided that I am going to go to a Kansas State/Texas game in May. Texas is always good and the Cats had some good battles with them last year. I then noticed that the Longhorns skipper has a card in the '07 A&G set. Unfortunately, I hadn't even heard of A&G in 2007, so I do not have the card. Obviously, checkoutmycards has one. But, like I said, I am going to try something new.

So, I am putting out an APB for the card or any of its variations. If you have one that you would like to trade, let me know and we will work something out. If you have two of them, I will try to get one signed for you. The card looks like a short print, so I do not know how well this is going to work. But, it is worth the try.

Just leave a comment or email me to get something going. I will have a regular post up later tonight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

1998 SP Top Prospects, Ricky Ledee

#RL Ricky Ledee

Wow, Ricky Ledee played for ten seasons with seven different teams? I had no idea that he lasted that long. I guess I saw him play in 2006 when he was a Dodger playing in Miami. Luckily, I kept score or I wouldn't have been able to recall that. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that Rickey was such a promising prospect as a Yankee, that that is the team that I mainly remember him playing for. I guess playing in the Fall Classic after your first and second Major League season will do that to some players.

I got this card from checkoutmycards for $1.25. Looking at his stats now, I kind of wonder why I bought this card. I guess that I thought he played in a few more fall classics than he actually did. I think that I may have imagined a player that was made up between Ricky and Shane Spencer. That explains my delusion. Either way, it is still a great looking card of a player that played in 855 games with the Yankees, Indians, Rangers, Phillies, Giants, Dodgers, and Mets.

I didn't realize it until I saw the scan, but this happens to be a minor league card. The Columbus Clippers logo is how I figured that out. I apparently missed the minor league baseball logo on the back.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1996 Leaf Signature Extended Autographs, Mark Sweeney

#196 Mark Sweeney

Here is my last Leaf Signature Series card for the time being. I was able to pick this one up for a mere seventy-five cents. I was more than willing to fork over three quarters for an autograph of the second best pinch hitter ever.

Mark made the rounds in the National League. He made his debut in 1995 with the Cardinals. In his 14 year career, he also played for the Padres, Reds, Brewers, Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, and two other stints in San Deigo. He was a .254 career hitter and he finished his career with 175 pinch hits, second only to Lenny Harris who had 212.

In 2002, he was even involved in a trade for Lenny Harris. That is like Babe Ruth being traded for Barry Bonds. OK, it's not quite the same, but it's still neat and it's something that doesn't happen very often.

I believe that Mark retired during Spring Training last year and is now a coach in some capacity for the Dodgers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Rey Sanchez

#201 Rey Sanchez

Here is yet another checkoutmycards purchase. This one set me back one dollar. I bought this card because Rey was the Royals starting shortstop when I started following them in 2000. He wasn't much of a signer at the ballpark and I am pretty sure that this is the only autograph that I have from him.

Rey had a long career with a few different teams. He broke in with the Cubs in 1991 and played for them until they traded him to the Yankees in 1997. He signed with the Giants in 1998 and the Royals in 1999. He stuck around in Kansas City until they traded him to the Braves in 2001. Then from 2002 to 2005, he bounced around to the Red Sox, Mets, Mariners, Devil Rays, and Yankees. He finished his career as a .272 hitter and a .983 fielding percentage. That is not too bad for a shortstop.

I remember when Rey first came up with the Cubs and Harry Caray would call him "Rey Sancheez". I miss Harry.

Rey's signature looks like it says Nerf.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Curtis Pride

#184 Curtis Pride

Here is another checkoutmycards pick-up. This one set me back $1.25. When I saw this card on the site for so cheap, I could not pass it up. For those of you who do not know, Curtis was the first deaf player to play in the Major Leagues since 1945.

Curtis was such a good athlete that the Mets drafted him in the tenth round of the 1986 draft, even though Curt did not play college baseball. He went to school at William and Mary, but he only played collegant basketball. After six less than stellar years as a Met minor leaguer, Curtis got released. He was picked up by the Expos and he made his Major League debut with them a few months later. After that, he bounced around from team to team and spent a lot of time in the minors. He did, however, play in 421 Major League games with the Expos, Tigers, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees and Angels in a eleven year span. He is a .250 career hitter.

2008 was Curtis' last season playing ball. He spent the season playing for Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League at the age of 39. The season before, I got to see him play in a game in Wichita, Kansas. He was with the Arkansas Travelers at the time. I thought that it was pretty cool since it was a name that I actually recognized. You don't see a whole lot of former big leaguers at the AA level. I wasn't into autographed cards at the time, so I didn't even bother trying to get his autograph. Luckily, checkoutmycards was able to help me out on that front.

According to wikipedia, Curtis is the head coach at Gallaudet University.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Alex Fernandez

#67 Alex Fernandez

Here is another checkoutmycards purchase. I was able to pick this beauty up for one dollar. This is one of the first cards that I have had from this set and I must say that Leaf did a really nice job on this card design. These cards were made for autographs. I wish Topps, Upper Deck, and Tri-Star would take notes.

I remember Alex being a popular player when he first burst onto the scene. Most of his cards had some value and they always seemed to find their way into my albums rather then the common bins. 1993 was probably his best year and he went 18-9 with a 3.13 ERA. Unfortunately, those numbers weren't even good enough for one Cy young award vote.

Alex played for the Marlins for his final three seasons. He won 17 games for them in 1997. He must have hurt his arm at the end of the season since he only made one disastrous start in the NLCS and didn't appear in the World Series. He then missed all of the '98 season. But, his 7-8 record in 1999 was good enough for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. In 2000, Alex made eight starts for the Fish before calling it quits.

Friday, March 12, 2010

1994 Classic, Brooks Kieschnick

NN Brooks Kieschnick

Here is a card that I picked up from checkoutmycards for ninety-nine cents. Brooks was a Cubs first round pick that never really panned out. He played in a handful of games at the Major League level with the Cubs, Reds, and Rockies. Realizing that he wasn't getting anywhere as an outfielder, he reinvented himself as a pitcher.

Here is why I wanted his autograph. In 2003, I was watching a Brewers/Cubs game on WGN. Brooks was warming up in the bullpen. It then showed him sprinting into the dugout where he grabs a bat and helmet and then heads to the on deck circle. The batter made the third out of the inning and Brooks went back out to the bullpen to continue warming up. The Brewers pitcher made it though the inning alright, so Brooks went back to the dugout afterwards and then pinch hit for the pitcher and stayed in the game as the pitcher. I had never seen anything like it and that is the reason I wanted this card.

Brooks played for the Brewers for two seasons as a hitter/pitcher. In his first season, he posted a 5.26 ERA in 53 inning pitched while batting .300 with 7 home runs. In his second season, Brooks had a 3.77 ERA in 43 innings and hit .270 with 1 home run. I think every National league team could use a player like that.

For some reason, the Brewers released Brooks after only two seasons. The Astros picked him up for the 2005 season, but they kept him in the minors all year. That was his last season in baseball.

Brooks is playing for the Orlando Cubs on this card. I don't think Orlando has had a minor league team since 2003.

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Al Hrabosky

#179 Al Hrabosky

Here is the second card that I sent to Al. I wanted to send him a card from his days with the Cardinals, but I didn't have one. I thought about going to the card shop to find one until I noticed that he had a card in this set. Once I found this card, I was set to go. It's hard to beat a signed Senior League card.

Does anyone remember the Senior League? I barely remember it. I know that it didn't last long. Luckily, there are a couple of card sets of it to commemorate the teams and the players who played. I just wish I could find some stats from it. I want to know who the all-time Senior League home run leader is. I know Jim Morrison was the league leader in the inaugural season, but he could have been passed up the 25 games that were played the following season.

Unfortunately, the coners on my two Hrabosky cards got a little dinged in the mail. But, that's the price you pay when you TTM.

This is the last TTM for now. I got a few checkoutmycards purchases coming up for the next week and I'll post the first one tonight.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

1981 Donruss, Al Hrabosky

#550 Al Hrabosky

Here is another '81 Donruss card that I got signed through the mail last week. It took about eight days to return to me.

Unfortunately, I do not know much about Al Hraboskey. His playing career ended when I was three years old. I didn't know who he was until the late '80s when I saw him on a baseball show (probably This Week in Baseball) on TV. It was probably a little segment on relievers and it had a clip of Al performing his antics behind the mound. I thought that that was pretty cool at the time. Other than his stats, that his about all I know about him.

The picture on this card is one of the few pictures that wasn't obviously taken at Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park. It could have been taken there, but you can't really tell. It almost seems like a picture that they would take for the media guide, with one exception. Al looks like he has been sweating his ass off. I don't get media guides, but I doubt that they have pictures in them of players that just finished a working out. They probably use a little better lighting, too.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 53/100

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1981 Donruss, Sparky Anderson

#370 Sparky Anderson

Here is a card that I got in the mail yesterday from Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson. Wow, two consecutive manager cards on here; that is a first. I sent this card to Sparky on the second and had it back in six days. I think that was a day or two quicker than Jim Fregosi.

I wrote to Sparky about a year and a half ago and got an '08 Goudey signed by him since I didn't have this card. I then saw reports that Sparky wasn't signing through the mail anymore. Because of that, I didn't even worry about getting this card signed since I didn't have it. But, I recently noticed that Sparky has been signing through the mail again, so I bought this card on my last checkoutmycards purchase. Despite the fact that Sparky looks like on old Oompa Loompa in this picture, I am still happy with the results.

One thing that I do like about the '81 Donruss manager cards is the stats on the back of the card. They list his record as a manager for every year they managed. Not only that, but they also include the manager's lifetime stats from his playing days. You will not find a modern card giving that much information on the back of a manager card.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 52/100

Monday, March 8, 2010

1981 Donruss, Jim Fregosi

#415 Jim Fregosi

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail last week. I sent this card to Jim on the 26th of last month and got it back on the 5th. I must say that it was one of my quicker returns.

Last year, I sent a couple of cards to Jim to get signed. I hadn't started my little '81 Donruss project yet, so this card wasn't a priority for me then. I did think about sending it. But in the end, I decided against it. The reason for that is because Jim had been signing many autographs around that time in ballpoint. I figured that this one wouldn't look very good in ballpoint because it was so dark. So, I instead sent a '68 Topps and a '76 Topps and they both came back signed in blue Sharpie, just like this one. Oh well. I now have three good looking signatures from him.

Jim has managed parts of 15 seasons in the Major Leagues. He has been at the helm of the Angels, White Sox, Phillies, and Blue Jays. He has led two teams to the playoff- the '79 Angels (who lost in the ALCS) and the '93 Phillies (who lost in the World Series). The '79 Angel team made the first playoff appearance for the franchise.

Jim retired from playing after appearing in 20 games with the Pirates in 1978. He must have immediately took over as the Angels skipper since he was the manager for them for 117 games that season. That is not something that you see every season.

Jim's #11, which he adds to all of his Angel cards, was retired by the team in 1998.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 51/100

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2000 Topps Chrome, Kyle Snyder

#211 Kyle Snyder

Here is the first chrome card that I ever got signed. I got this signature in 2004 when the Royals Caravan came to town. The caravan came to a local Buick dealership in the middle of a work day. Luckily, I wasn't working at the time (I had less than a month before I shipped off to basic training) and was able to go over there to get some cards signed. Kyle was paired up with Jimmy Gobble and Frank White. Unfortunately, I could only find one card each of Snyder and Gobble. I was able to go back through the line a second time and get some Royals postcards signed by the two and another Frank White card signed. The local card shop owner was there too, and had me rub the card with some pantyhose to take some of the gloss off of it. It seems to have worked out well.

Kyle was the Royals first round pick in 1999 (two Royals first rounders in a row). He only pitched in 29 games for the Royals before being picked up on waivers by the Red Sox. He had a little bit better success with Boston and posted a career best ERA of 3.81 in 2007. Last year, Kyle spent the entire season pitching for the Buffalo Bisons, the Mets AAA team.

Kyle signs his name very similar to Mike Stodolka in the fact that he doesn't lift his pen to sign his last name. Plus, they use the same style of "S", too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2000 Topps, Mike Stodolka

#T82 Mike Stodolka

Here is a card that I got signed at an Albuquerque Isotopes game in 2008. Mike signed it when he was a member of the Omaha Royals.

You may have noticed that Mike is listed as a pitcher on this card. He was drafted in the first round, fourth overall, in the 2000 draft by the Royals as a pitcher. Mike pitched for five seasons in the Royals organization. He crawled his way up to AA and was 4-11 with a 5.92 ERA in the Texas League in 2005. At that point, he and the Royals realized that he wasn't going anywhere as a pitcher. So what do they do? They convert him into a first baseman.

In 2006, Mike went down to the California League to become hitter. He hit .284 with 11 home runs and 67 RBI. He got bumped back up to Wichita in 2007 and he hit .291 with 12 homers and 59 RBI there. So, he moved up to AAA in 2008 and went on to hit .286 with 5 home runs and only 21 RBI in 259 at-bats. That was his last season playing pro ball. Even though he had an above average batting average, I guess that the Royals didn't think that he had enough pop to hold down a corner infield position in the Major Leagues. I guess that other teams agreed since no one signed him last year. If only he had converted to a left-handed second baseman...

I bought this card off of ebay back when you could buy cards for a penny. I miss those days.

Friday, March 5, 2010

2000 Topps, Wascar Serrano

#T57 Wascar Serrano

Here is a Padrograph of former Padre, Wascar Serrano. Wascar spent five seasons in the Padre organization before getting a Major League call up in 2001. In the big leagues, he made 20 appearances (5 starts) and finished his Major League career with a 3-3 record with a 6.56 ERA. After the season, he was traded with Ben Davis and Alex Arias to the Mariners for Brett Tomko, Tom Lampkin, and Ramon Vazquez. He pitched for Seattle's AAA team for one season before he was let go.

The next year, he pitched a little for the Kansas City T-Bones. He made 5 starts and 1 relief appearance while posting a 7.71 ERA before he got released. He then headed to Mexico, where he pitched his final two seasons. His final season playing ball was 2005.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2000 Topps, Todd Moser

#T7 Todd Moser

I have three cards from 2000 Topps signed and all three come from the traded set. I wasn't really collecting cards at the time. Does anyone know if 2000 Topps Traded were avaiable in packs or only as a complete set?

Here are two cards of the Marlins 1999 14th round selection, Todd Moser. Both of these were sent to me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff. Paul is such a generous blogger that he cannot keep track of all the autographs he has sent me. Because of that, I occassionaly get some doubles from him. But that's all right because one cannot have enough autographs.

As for Todd, he did not make it too far with the Marlins. In four years, he had only made it up to high-A. He must have got hurt since he then missed all of 2003. He missed most of 2004 as well and the Marlins released him. The Cardinals signed him and he appeared in ten games for their AA team before being released at the end of the year.

Since then, Todd has been touring the independent circuit. He spent two years playing for Somerset in the Atlantic League and then missed all of the 2007 season. In 2008 and 2009, he was with the Kansas City T-Bones of the Northern League. The T-Bones released him mid-season last year and he then ended up playing for the Calgary Vipers of the Golden League. Who knows where he will end up this season? I think that he is due for the American Association.

It's kind of neat that Paul got one card signed in blue and one in Sharpie. As a rule of thumb, I try to aviod getting cards signed that have a big black jersey on the front. But, in many cases (especially minor leaguers), the player will only have one card made of them. So, you either get the black jersey signed or you go without the autograph. If I have to get a dark jersey signed, I almost always go with a blue Sharpie. But in this instance, the black one deffinitely came out better. I guess that the blue just clashed with the teal too much.

If anyone is needing a Todd Moser autograph, just let me know.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2000 Royal Rookies Futures

#3 Alex Requena
#5 Tony Mota
#13 Jeff Bailey
#16 Frederick Torres

Here are some cards that I had never heard of until a couple of years ago. I got all four of these cards in Wal-Mart repack boxes. I got two of them in packs and the other two were the special bonus item in the boxes. I had never heard of any of the players, so let's see what we have here.

Alex Requena was an undrafted free agent signed by the Indians. He played in the minors for nine seasons for the Indian, Dodger, and Giant organizations. He never made it above AA, though. His last season was 2007.

Tony Mota was a 17th round selection by the Doddgers that looked like he was on the fast track to the Majors. He was in AA by the end of his third year and had made it to AAA a year and a half later. He then spent three seasons at that level before bouncing around independent teams and lower level affiliated teams. His last season was 2006. The card of him appears to be an error card. It is a reverse negative.

Jeff Bailey was a second round draft pick by the Marlins in 1997. He played for the Marlins organization for five seasons before being dealt to the Expos. In his three years in the Expos organization, he made it up to AAA. After that, he signed with the Red Sox and played in their system all the way up to last season. The difference between Jeff and the rest of the guys on here is that Jeff made his Major League debut in 2007. He played for Boston over parts of the last three seasons and is a .228 career hitter. He is a free agent at this time.

The final card is of a former Rangers undrafted free agent, Frederick Torres. Torres signed in 1996 and played in the Ranger system for five seasons, spending most of his time playing for Charlotte of the Florida State League. He retired after the 2002 season. However, he came out of retirement last year and played in 42 games with the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League. He only hit .236 for them, so it will be interesting to see if he plays this summer.

Well, I got one card of a player that made it to the Majors. I guess that is not too bad.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2000 QC River Bandits Roox, Terry Tiffee

NN Terry Tiffee

Here is one of my favorite autographs. The reason why I like this card is because Terry Tiffee is the only person I have personally known to make it to the Major Leagues. Tiffee and I were teammates with the 1998 Pratt Community College Beavers. Not only were we teammates, we were also close friends during the two years we went to school there.

In 2001, my buddy Dustin and I made our inaugural ballpark roadtrip. We saw games at Camden Yards, Veterans Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Skydome, and Wrigley Field. The game at Wrigley was a day game, so after that we high-tailed it to Davenport, Iowa to see Terry play for the Quad City River Bandits. We hit some heavy traffic leaving Chicago and ended up getting to the game in the fourth inning (which worked out fine since we got in for free). After the game, we met up with Terry and he gave us some balls and stuff. We would have went somewhere to hang out, but Terry's folks were in town that weekend.

Once his season was over, Terry was heading to Liberal, Kansas to see his girlfriend (now his wife). I was going to school at Kansas State at the time and he called me up and asked if he could crash at my place for the night. My roommate at the time also played at Pratt, so we were more than happy to have him stay. As soon as he got to our place, he gave us both a couple of cards that he had signed. It was pretty cool seeing an actual baseball card of someone you knew. That will probably be the last time that that ever happens to me.

I like how Terry signed this card. He made the bottom of the two "f's" in his last name look like the # sign and then put his number after it.

As mentioned before, Terry is playing for the Quad City River Bandits in this card. The River Bandits are still around today, although they did briefly change their name to the Swing of the Quad Cities for a bit. One difference is that they are now affiliated with the Cardinals instead of the Twins.

How is this for foreshadowing? When we were at Pratt, Terry actually owned a River Bandits hat.

Monday, March 1, 2010

2000 Lancaster JetHawks Grandstand, Willie Bloomquist

#4 Willie Bloomquist

Here is a card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest last year. At that time, I was a Royals partial season ticket holder. For that years event, season ticket holders were let into Fanfest an hour before the general public. The first thing I did when I got inside was to get in an autograph line.

Shortly thereafter, four Royals came out to sign and Willie was the first player in the line. I had my autograph book with me and to keep it simple, I always alphabetize it by the players last name. For that occasion, I could only find two Bloomquist cards. So I had those two cards and one John Buck card on the same page. When I got up to Willie, he says "I see that you have the two best looking guys on the same page". I probably just gave him a blank stare and maybe a "huh". He then went on to tell me that he is always being told that him and Buck look the same. I think I replied to that with a "really?" since I wasn't seeing it. He then asked Mike Jacobs what he thought about it and Mike said that he couldn't think what John Buck looked like. Obviously, it was an interesting way to start off the event.

I got this team set at a JetHawks game two years ago.