Monday, January 31, 2011

1991 Donruss, Willie Blair

#267 Willie Blair

This is the second of two '91 Donruss cards that were sent to me by Rod. The first one was posted yesterday.

This one features the much traveled pitcher, Willie Blair. Willie pitched in the Majors for parts of twelve seasons and he spent time with the Blue Jays, Indians, Astros, Rockies, Padres, Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Mets. Wow, did Willie get around or what? He played for four different teams in his first four seasons in the big leagues. There cannot be too many people out there that can make that claim.

Willie bounced back and forth from starting to relieving and he got most of his appearances out of the bullpen. He had a career high of 16 wins for the Tigers in 1997 and he recorded a career high of 3 saves for the Rockies in 1994. He finished his career after the 2001 season with a record of 60-86 with 4 saves and a 5.04 ERA.

I was happy to get this card for a couple of reasons. The main reason is because I tried to get his autograph last year at a Kansas City T-Bones game, but I failed. Willie was the pitching coach for the visiting Joliet Jackhammers. I tried to get to the game early, but I got stuck on I-70 for an hour and a half after there were two accidents in a single work zone. So, I didn't get to the park early enough for that and I missed him again after the game when he snuck by in the dark while the Bones were getting ready for fireworks. But, I got his autograph now.

The second reason I was glad to get this card is because Willie holds a special distinction in my game log. Willie is one of six pitchers that I have seen pitch that has an infinite ERA at games I attended. I saw him pitch one time and it was for the Padres in 1996 at a game in Denver. Willie came in to pitch after a rain delay and he gave up two hits, a walk, and four earned runs without recording an out. He also took the loss that night. Since he is now retired, he will not be able to come off of that list.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1991 Donruss, Shawn Boskie

#241 Shawn Boskie

Here is a card of Shawn Boskie that was given to me by Rod.

Shawn pitched in the Majors for nine seasons and he saw time with the Cubs, Phillies, Mariners, Angels, Orioles, and Expos. He spent about half of his career in Chicago before he started to bounce frequently in the second half.

Shawn started and relieved during his career and he started 132 of the 216 games he pitched in. He reached double-digit wins one time and it was in 1996 as a member of the Angels. He recorded one save in his career and it was the following season while he was playing for the Orioles. He finished his big league career in 1998 with a record of 49-63 and a 5.14 ERA. Shawn continued to pitch at the AAA level through the 2001 season, but was never called up again.

Shawn has one Major League home run and it was hit off of Norm Charlton.

Out of all the teams that Shawn pitched for in his career, I only remember him from his Cubs days. The only reason I remember him as a Cub is because WGN used to televise 100+ games a year. I've never been a Cubs fan, but it was always fun to watch a ballgame on the tube on a summer afternoon.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1990 Topps, Dennis Boyd

#544 Dennis Boyd

Here is another card from the lot of non-Padre Padrographs that were sent to me a few weeks ago by Rod. This one features the former Red Sock, Expo, and Ranger, Dennis Boyd.

If you are not familiar with Dennis Boyd, then maybe you might remember him by another name- Oil Can Boyd. I first heard about the Oil Can during the 1986 World Series. I was an impressionable seven-year old kid at the time and I thought that he had the coolest name ever. At that age, the only concept I had of an oil can was what the Tin Man used to lube himself up with in the "Wizard of Oz" and that probably just made his name that much cooler. I figured that you had to be one of the best pitchers around to get a name like that. Boy, was I wrong.

While Boyd wasn't one of the best pitchers around (he never made an all star team), he did have a very solid 1986 season. He went 16-10 that year with a 3.78 ERA in 214.1 innings. That 214.1 innings might seem like a lot until you notice that he threw 272.1 innings the previous year. Without looking, I am going to guess that he got the Oil Can moniker from that season.

Those two seasons must have took their toll on his arm as he only made seven starts in 1987. But, he was able to come back in 1988 and by 1990, he was pitching 190 innings. While that is a far cry from 272 innings, you can't get on a pitcher for giving you only 190 innings.

Dennis finished his career after the 1991 season. He has a 78-77 record for his career and a 4.04 ERA. I seem to remember him wanting to make a comeback recently, even though he was around 50-years old. I would look it up, but then I might stumble upon how he got his nickname and that would just ruin everything.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed that Dennis does not sign "Oil Can Boyd".

Friday, January 28, 2011

1990 Topps, Marty Pevey

#137 Marty Pevey

Earlier this week, I posted a signed card of Paul Zuvella and I referred to Paul as "somewhat obscure". Well, if Paul was only somewhat obscure, I would call Marty full-blown obscure. The reason for that is because Marty's Major League career lasted all of thirteen games.

Marty was drafted in the 19th round of the 1982 draft by the Twins. He appeared in 24 games for their Appalachian League team and was hitting .284 when he got released. He sat out the rest of the year before getting picked up by the Cardinals for the '83 season. He stayed in the Card's organization through 1987 before getting traded to Montreal prior to the '88 season. He split his first season in the Expos system between AA and AAA before getting his lone call-up early in the '89 season.

At the Major League level, Marty hit .220 with two extra-base hits and three RBI. He had nine hits, eight strikeouts, and no walks.

For some reason, he missed the 1990 season. But, he was back in '91 and he went on to play in the minors until 1995.

Since his playing career has been over, Marty has spent a good amount of time coaching. He was a base coach for a few years for the Blue Jays and he is currently the manager of the Cubs Midwest League team, the Peoria Chiefs.

This card was given to me by Rod, of Padrographs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1990 Leaf, Jeff Montgomery

#520 Jeff Montgomery

Here is the first of three cards that I got signed by Jeff Montgomery at Fanfest last weekend. I have no idea how many Montgomery autographs I have now, but maybe I will tally them up after I post the third card and then give one of them away.

I took this card with me to get signed by Jeff because I had thought that I did not have any 1990 Leaf cards signed yet. Well, it turns out that my dad got a Danny Jackson card from the set signed for me last summer and I had forgot about it. So, I now officially have two 1990 Leaf cards that are autographed.

I had a unique interaction with Jeff when I first went through the line where he was signing. I got to him and asked how he was doing and he looked up and paused for a second. He then said "you know, you kind of have a Sean O'Sullivan look going on". I didn't know what to say for a second and I gave him an "oh yeah?". He then replied "yeah, you should sit down somewhere and start charging people ten dollars a pop for your autograph". I don't know how well that would have worked out since everyone else was signing for free, but I still thought that it was funny. I was going to ask Billy Butler what his thoughts were on the matter when I went through his line during the final autograph station, but Billy was in the first and final two autograph sessions and I could tell that he was ready to get out of there. So, I didn't bother. Besides, I have a little more hair on my head than Sean O'Sullivan.

If you are not familiar with Sean, he is a Royals pitcher that was acquired in the Alberto Callaspo trade.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1989 Topps, Tim Birtsas

#103 Tim Birtsas

Here is another non-Padre that Rod sent me. Rod must have been cleaning out his 1989 binder or something because it seems like about half of the cards he sent me were from 1989.

This one features Tim Birtsas. Tim played in the Majors for parts of five seasons for the A's and Reds. He started his big league career as a starter for the A's in 1985. He went a respectable 10-6 in his rookie year with a 4.01 ERA. It is kind of surprising that he didn't have more losses and a higher ERA since he walked 91 batters that season in 141.1 innings.

After that season, Tim worked mostly out of he bullpen. He made two appearances for the A's in 1986 and he walked four batters in two innings while allowing five earned runs. His 1985 luck was not on his side that season.

Tim spent all of 1987 playing for the A's AAA team before he was dealt to the Reds after the season. He played for the Reds for three seasons and, in 1989, he recorded his lone Major League save and had a career best ERA of 3.75. He also recorded his only Major League hit that year when he hit a 1-2 pitch from Sid Fernandez into the right field bleachers at Riverfront Stadium. That is a cool stat to have.

Tim was involved in a couple of big trades. He was originally drafted by the Yankees, but he was packaged in the deal that took Rickey Henderson to New York. Three years later, he and Jose Rijo were shipped to the Reds for Dave Parker. Rijo was an integral part to the Reds 1990 World Championship. Birtsas, on the other hand, ended up getting sent to AAA in July of that season, only to get recalled when the rosters expanded in September. He did not play in the playoffs that season and was probably not even on the roster.

Tim was released after the season was over and he pitched in Japan in 1991.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Win This Card

All you have to do to win this card of Hall of Fame manager, Earl Weaver, is to head over to the Great Orioles Autograph Project's Hall of Fame contest and leave a simple comment. It is that easy.

If you have already entered that contest and you want something new to check out, check out the job that the USPS did on this card I got back today. This card was 100% wrinkle-free when I sent it out a couple of weeks ago and now look at it. This picture doesn't even do the damage much justice. This is by far the worst TTM I have ever received. I know it happened on the return trip home because the creases match up with the creases in the return envelope. The photo is obviously a crappy picture, but I was trying to make the creases stand out more.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1989 Score, Paul Zuvella

#598 Paul Zuvella

Here is another non-Padre Padrograph that was sent to me a couple of weeks ago by Rod. This one is kind of cool since it is from a somewhat obscure player.

Paul played in the big leagues for parts of nine seasons. In those nine seasons, he got into 209 games. That averages out to about 23 games a season in the Major Leagues. He spent time with the Braves, Yankees, Indians, and Royals and his best season came in 1985 as a member of the Braves. Normally, when I call out a guys best season, I base that on certain stats such as average, home runs, or RBI. But, the only stat I am looking at for Paul's '85 season is games played. He appeared in 81 games that year, which was 30 more than he ever played in any other season. In fact, there were three seasons when he appeared in three or less games.

In 1985, Paul hit a respectable .253 in 190 at-bats. He smacked 8 doubles that season and he went 2-2 in the stolen base department. He also walked 16 times while only striking out 14 times. That was one of three seasons in his career where he had more walks than strikeouts, though the other two times do involve a much smaller sample size.

In 1989, Paul hit his first Major League home run and it was off of knuckleballer Charlie Hough. He then hit his second, and final, dinger a couple of months later off of Jim Acker before heading back to AAA for the 1990 campaign. In '91, Paul had two appearances in the field for the Kansas City Royals before getting sent back down to AAA to finish the season and his career.

Paul sure has a slick-looking autograph.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Royals Fanfest

On Friday, I attended Royals Fanfest. This is the fourth Fanfest that the Royals have hosted and by now, you would think that they would know how to handle these things. By looking at the overall big picture, maybe they do have a decent idea of what they are doing. But, I don't look at the big picture. I go to Fanfest for autographs and that is usually the only thing that I am concerned with.

The day started off pretty good as I was able to buy a ticket voucher from another fan for five dollars less than the ticket price. Then, while waiting for the ticket booth to open, I found a ticket on the ground on the way back from the restroom. I asked some people nearby if they had dropped their ticket and everyone said no. So, it only cost nine dollars to get in rather than the twenty-eight dollars I was expecting.

Once the doors opened, I scoped out the three autograph stations. The Royals never announce who is going to be signing where. But, in the past, I have usually been able to find a couple of people in charge that have master lists. On Friday, I couldn't find anyone with a master list. In fact, I don't think they knew who was going to be signing when. They just kind of threw players out there.

So, I hopped in line at the station with the shortest line. I then had to stand there for about a half hour just to see who was going to walk out to sign at that station. Each station had four chairs at it and I think everyone assumed that there was going to be four players signing at each station. Wrong. I never saw four guys signing at one time the whole day. Most of the time it was two and there were a couple of times with three guys signing.

With only a few minutes left before the first signing, the Royals Tweeted who was signing at each line. I am not that tech-savvy to even bother with Twitter, but there were enough people in line that were and I knew who all was signing at each station. My station had Kevin Seitzer and Luke Hochevar. Another station had Jeff Francis and Ned Yost and the third station had Billy Butler and Mike MacFarlane. Luckily, I had a few things that I needed signed by Hochevar. Otherwise, I might have tried to bail to the Yost/Francis line since I do not have any autographs from either of them (and I still don't).

So, I stayed in my line and I actually had a pretty neat talk with Hochevar about the Brian Bannister card he signed for me (it had Luke's picture on it). After that, I headed over to the Francis/Yost line and they were not letting anyone else in the line. I then headed to the Butler/Mac line and it was the same thing. They had been signing for fifteen minutes and over half the line had been through, but they wouldn't let any more people in. By then, I was pretty hot and I started bitching to one of the staff about how ate-up this year's autograph lines were. I know he wasn't in charge of any of that and he was probably just a volunteer as it was, but I was frustrated and I need someone to vent on.

After that, I went to the fourth autograph station, the alumni station. I decided to see who was going to be there before I got into one of the main lines. For that line, Jamie Quirk and Shane Halter were the signers and I perked up a bit. Shane was the only Royal alumni there that had never been to Fanfest before, so he was a new autograph for me. Quirk, on the other hand, has been to every Fanfest and I have quite a few signatures for him. But, I had a Orioles Crown card of him that Ryan, from the Great Orioles Autograph Project, needed for his collection. Ryan sent me one to get signed last year and I wasn't able to come through for him. So, I bought my own this year and was going to surprise him with it until we ended up working out a little Fanfest trade. But, I got the card signed and I was happy for the first time that day since I found a free ticket. After that, I just took Fanfest for what it was and I quit acting like an ass.

The only good thing about the autograph lines is that a new session started every hour. The bad thing was that only 150 people were going to get autographs at each session. It didn't matter if it took fifteen minutes to get 150 people through or the whole hour, they were just signing for 150 people. In the first two Fanfests, they had the players all sign for one hour and only the first 150 or 200 people were guaranteed an autograph. But, if all those people had made it through and there was still time left, they would let some more people into the line. When they did it that way, I was able to go through two lines for every session during peak hours and then hit all three lines during the last couple of sessions.

Lucky for me, attendance was way down at Fanfest this year since there was no Grienke or Dejesus and George Brett wasn't signing. Because of that, I was actually able to sit down and chill for a bit instead of standing in lines non-stop. I would go through one of the lines and then go check some other things out or sit down before hopping in the next line just before it filled up. The lines usually filled up about fifteen minutes before the session began. So, if you waited for the Royals to Tweet who was going to be at each line five minutes beforehand, it wouldn't matter because you weren't going to be able to get into the line you wanted. Plus, I heard some people say that they quit Tweeting after the first few sessions. If there had been as many people there this year as there was last year, it would have been impossible to get into one line every hour. You would have had to get in line for the first session and while you were going through it, the line for the second session would have filled up and you would have been stuck getting in line for the third session and waiting two hours for it to open. So, thank you Royals fans for not coming out on Friday.

All in all, I came home with thirty-nine signed cards, including four of the five game-used cards I took with me. Because of the random selection of who was signing where, there were I some guys I never got a chance to see while other guys appeared at my session more than once. But, what can you do?

There was one bright spot at Fanfest and it was totally unexpected to me- the Royals Charities store. That place had some deals there as well as some great memorabilia at affordable prices. They had left over promo t-shirts that were $2 and they were buy one get one free. They had banners that hung from the light posts around the stadium that were $10. They had used Spring Training hats for $5. They had broken bats for $25. They even had game-used jerseys for $30! Most of them were nameless Spring Training jerseys, but they were only thirty bucks. I'm a pretty big boy, so I didn't look through the jerseys much, but I did see a signed Anthony Larew authentic road jersey. If I knew that they were going to have that much awesome stuff there, I would have came a little better prepared.

But, I did get a few things.

My main prize was the Majestic Royals jacket that has removable sleeves. I looked at one briefly last year, but I wasn't about to drop the $80 that the Royals gift shop was asking for them. I got mine for $40. I also got the 2008 holiday hat and that only set me back $5. I bought a Royals 1980 AL champions coaster set for $2, a beanie for $1, and all of those signed Royals postcards for $1. Not too bad of a pull, in my opinion, for $49.

I ended up losing my beanie at the convention center, though. The one pictured was a freebie for signing up for a contest that was sponsored by Sprint.

If next years Fanfest is anything like this years, I may say "screw the autographs" and go just to check out the Royals Charities store. I could use a new used jersey.

1989 Procards, Thomas Howard

#8 Thomas Howard

Here is another Thomas Howard card that was given to me by Rod, of Padrographs. He gave me a different signed card some time back and that card can be seen here.

For some reason, when I did my scans of some of the cards Rod sent me, the settings on my scanner were all jacked up. By the time I realized it, I had put all of the cards away and I didn't feel like getting them back out for another scan. So that is why some of my recent scans might have looked a little different. Most of them were OK, but this one is by far the worst. I know that you can barely see the signature on there. But, trust me, it is there and it is a much shorter version of the first Howard autograph I posted.

Thomas is playing for the Las Vegas Stars on this card and this is the first Stars card that I have posted. There is a team still playing in Vegas, but they are no longer affiliated with the Padres and they are not called the Stars anymore. They are now called the 51s and they are a part of the Blue Jays organization. How that came to be (Toronto-Las Vegas), I have no idea.

I do like how Procards added the "PCL Champions" text below the Las Vegas logo.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1989 Fleer Exciting Stars, Kevin Seitzer

#36 Kevin Seitzer

I attended Royals Fanfest yesterday and here is the very first card that I got signed there. I had bought a card from that featured Kevin as an Indian and that was my main priority for Kevin to sign. But, I make sure to drag my dad along for these events so that I can double up on autographs and he ended up getting the Indians card signed for me.

I have way too many Kevin Seitzer Royals cards and many of them are oddball cards like this one. It sometimes gets a little tedious trying to pick out a card of Kevin to get signed at these events, but I made it a little easier on myself this year. The reason I picked this card is because I knew that if I got it signed, it would be the very next card that I posted on here.

Here is a Kevin Seitzer fact that I was reminded of yesterday at the Royals Hall of Fame exhibit. Kevin is one of three Royals to have had six hits in a nine inning game. His bat from the game, as well as Joe Randa's and Bob Oliver's, was on display at Fanfest.

Later on tonight, or maybe tomorrow, I will try to do a little recap of my experience at Fanfest.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1989 Donruss, Floyd Bannister

#262 Floyd Bannister

Usually, when I send out an '81 Donruss card to get signed through the mail, I will only send that one card. But occasionally, if the former player has a really good track record with signing TTM, I might throw in an extra card to get signed. So when I wrote to Floyd, I could not resist sending him a card from his Royals days. To be honest, I would have also sent his '85 Topps #1 draft pick card along with it if I had one that was in decent shape.

If you missed the first Bannister card I posted, you can check it out by scrolling down four or five posts.

Floyd pitched for 15 seasons in the Majors. He played with the Astros, Mariners, White Sox, Royals, Angels, and Rangers. He made one All Star team and that was in 1982 as a member of the M's. He recorded a career high 209 strikeouts that season. He went to the White Sox the following year and he posted career bests in wins (16) and ERA (3.43).

It looks like Floyd was quite the innings eater as he pitched more than 200 innings six times in his career, with a personal best of 247 in '82. But, it looks like that those innings took a toll on his arm as he missed half of the 1989 season and all of 1990. When he came back in 1991, Floyd worked strictly out of the bullpen for his final two seasons.

Normally, I would post another card today since I am posting my second Floyd Bannister card in less than a week. But, since I am going to Royals Fanfest tomorrow (and will not be doing a post), I figured that I might as well leave a Royal at the top of my blog for a couple of days.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1989 Donruss, Pascual Perez

#248 Pascual Perez

Here is another non-Padre that was sent my way by Rod, of Padrographs, recently. This one features the former Pirate, Brave, Expo, and Yankee, Pascual Perez.

Pascual pitched in the Majors for parts of eleven seasons. He made his lone All Star team in 1983 as a member of the Braves and he ended up finishing the season with a 15-8 record and a 3.43 ERA. The 15 wins was a personal best for him.

He also had a couple of really good seasons for the Expos at the end of the '80s. In 1988, he posted a career best ERA of 2.44 in 27 starts. Then, in 1989, he recorded a career high 152 strikeouts.

Following that season, he signed a big contract with the Yankees. But, he only made 17 starts over a two year period before being suspended for a year for violating MLB's drug policy. He never pitched in the Majors after that.

The autograph on this card and the one on the card posted on Pascual's Baseball Almanac page look completely different.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1988 Donruss, Ellis Burks

#174 Ellis Burks

Here is the second card from my recent package from Rod. This one features the former Red Sock, White Sock, Rocky, Giant, and Indian, Ellis Burks.

When I look at Ellis' stats, one thing sticks out to me and that is his 1996 season. Prior to '96, Ellis had two 20+ home run seasons. He had 20 in his rookie season in '87 and then 21 in '90. Then in '96, as a member of the Rockies, he unloaded for 40 dingers. It was a career year for Ellis as he made his second and final All Star team and finished third in the National League MVP vote (behind Ken Caminiti and Mike Piazza). He lead the league in runs that year as well as slugging and total bases. One could claim that he was aided by the thin Rocky Mountain air, but Ellis still hit 17 home runs on the road.

After that season, Ellis never hit 40 homers in a season again. But, he did break the 30 home run mark three more times. 2004 was his last season in the Majors and he finished his career with the team he began it with- the Red Sox.

I saw Ellis play in-person six times between 1996 and 2003. He went 5-22 in the games I saw, but three of his hits were for home runs and the other two were doubles. He also drove in 10 runs in those six games.

It always amazes me when I get a new autograph that I can actually read. That doesn't happen very much any more.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1987 Topps, Roger McDowell

#185 Roger McDowell

Here is the first autograph that I have posted from my recent package from Rod, of Padgrographs fame. This one features the Braves pitching coach, Roger McDowell.

This is the second McDowell card that I have posted on here. I posted the first one on here at the end of 2008 and it was a card that I got signed TTM in the early '90s. Back then, Roger was a good TTM signer, but there was a catch. He would bend one of the corners of the card so that his autograph would be harder to sell. This card has no wrinkles on it, so I doubt that it was signed TTM during Roger's playing days.

The signature on this card is slightly different than the one on the first McDowell card I posted. The main difference is the last name. The "M" on them are completely different and this signature has more stokes in the Dowell part of his name.

I checked and the most recent McDowell signatures on there are from 2008 and he has shortened his last name a great deal in his signature. If I had to make a guess, I would think that this card was signed a few years before I got my first card signed TTM and he has been shortening up his signature ever since.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1981 Donruss, Joe Amalfitano

#522 Joe Amalfitano

Here is the second Joe Amalfitano card that I sent to him at the end of October. The first one can be seen by scrolling down a couple of posts.

Joe had a very long coaching career, but his managerial career was very short. After retiring from baseball in 1967, Joe went directly into coaching with the team he retired from- the Cubs. He coached with them, then the Giants, and then the Padres before heading back to Chicago in 1978. He coached there until the Cubs manager, Herman Franks, resigned towards the end of 1979. Joe was named the interim manager and he led the Cubs to a 2-5 record to finish up the season.

The following season, Preston Gomez was brought in to manage the Cubs and Joe stayed on as one of his coaches. After a 38-52 start to the season, Preston was canned and Joe took over, again. The Cubs finished 26-46 with Joe at the helm and they brought him back the following year to see what he could do in a full season.

Well, Joe's full season happened to be the strike-shorted 1981 campaign and it wasn't a good one. The Cubs came in last in the first half with a 15-37 record and they came in fifth in the second half with a 23-28 record. Joe was fired after the season was over.

Joe returned to coaching afterwards and after a year with the Reds, he began a sixteen year stint with the Dodgers as Tommy Lasorda's third base coach. According to Wikipedia, Joe still works in baseball as he helps out the Giants minor leaguers on baseball fundamentals.

For his short managerial career, Joe amassed a record of 66-116.

Unfortunately, this is the final '81 Donruss card that I have for right now.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 82/100

Friday, January 14, 2011

1981 Donruss, Floyd Bannister

#286 Floyd Bannister

Here is a card that I sent out on 10/27/10, the same day that I sent out Joe Amalfitano's card that I posted yesterday. This one, however, made it back to me about a week sooner than Joe's.

I was inspired to write to Floyd after talking to his son, Brian, at Royals Fanfest last year. Brian has one of the nicest and most deliberate signatures in baseball, and all of his in-person autographs look nearly identical (I've seen some sticker autos that have been shortened). I told Brian how much I enjoyed his signature and he thanked me and told me that he got it from his dad. He then added that if I haven't seen his dad's signature, I needed check it out. So that became one of my goals for 2010.

I have plenty of Floyd's cards that I could have sent him. The only thing was that I didn't want to just send him any card, I wanted to send him this card. The problem with that is that I didn't have this card at this time last year. Luckily, I acquired the card at some point over the summer (I'm not positive, but I think it might have been from Brian at Play at the Plate when I won the his first manager fired contest) and I finally got it mailed to him in the fall. I must say that I am not disappointed. Floyd does have a great-looking 'graph.

If I did not know any better, I would think that is a picture of Brian on this card. Speaking of Brian, he will be pitching for the Yomiuri Giants this season.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 81/100

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1960 Topps, Joe Amalfitano

#356 Joe Amalfitano

Here is another card that I got signed through the mail somewhat recently. I sent this card to Joe on October 27th and I got it back November 15th.

Joe played in the Major Leagues for parts of ten seasons. He made his Major League debut with the Giants in 1954 and he played a few games with them in '55, as well. Then, he got stuck in the minors for four years before finally making it back up in 1960. He stayed in the big leagues for good after that (for the most part).

Joe played for the Giants, Colt .45s, and Cubs during his career. He was a .244 career hitter that mostly played second base. He never made an All Star team and he never played in the World Series. He had seven home runs in his career and one of them came off of Bob Gibson. That has to count for something.

After his playing days were over, Joe went into coaching. But, I am going to save that for another day (probably Saturday, in fact).

The funny thing about this card is the airbrushing. The main photo has Joe wearing pinstripes, which I am pretty sure that the Giants never wore. Add in that fact that, prior to 1960, Joe hadn't played in the Majors since 1955 and now it becomes difficult to figure out what uniform Joe is actually wearing in that picture. He spent 1959 playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs (not the hockey team) and as far as I can tell, they did not wear pinstripes. He played for the Phoenix Giants in '58 and I doubt that they would wear pinstripes since the parent club didn't. Then you go back to 1957, the year he played for the Dallas Eagles. I don't know about the late '50s, but I do know that the Eagles did wear pinstripes in the early '50s. What do you think that odds are that the main photo is a picture from his Dallas days? I guess that it is not out of the question. If it is, I wonder if Topps had been saving that very photo for when Joe did eventually get called back up.

Here is a photo of a Dallas Eagles player from 1952. This picture is from "Baseball in the Lone Star State" by Tom Kayser and David King. The pinstripes did not show up too well in the scan, but they are there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Padrographs!!!

I usually don't post on Wednesday since that is my long day at work (which may be changing in two weeks). But, when I got off work tonight, I was very pleased to find a random package waiting for me. It was another great package from Rod, the man behind Padrographs. In the package was 28 new autographs for me, as well as the Royals 1996 Royals police set (minus one card) and a few new Royals cards. Most of the autographs will be shown on here in some form or another, but I wanted to showcase this one tonight.

Here is a Padrograph original of Cedric Hunter. While I am not familiar with Cedric, that is not the point. The point is that this is a great looking custom card. The best part about it is that it has a front and a back and that it is thick. It is thicker than regular card stock and almost as thick as a game-used card. With a little (OK, a lot) of help from Dave, of Goose Joak, I put together a custom card with a front and a back and a little filler in between. Unfortunately, I think the pressure of all the cards in my binder is the only thing keeping my card in one piece. That is not the case with this Padrograph. This baby seems sturdy. So, if you ever need any advice on putting a custom card together, Rod may be able to help you out.

Here is the front.

Even though the front is the side that is signed, I almost like the back of the card better. The reason for that is because Rod probably has the best logo in the baseball card blogosphere. Check it out.

If you are an autograph collector that runs a blog, and you are not jealous of that logo a bit, than you are only lying to yourself. That logo is great!!

As I mentioned, Rod also sent me the '96 Royals Police set. I was a bit surprised to see this since Rod emailed me about a month ago to see if I could find a card out of the set for him. He was of course wanting the Bip Roberts card from the set, and I am guessing that he found it since he sent me the set without the Roberts card. It looks like he found his Bip card, but he had to buy the whole team set to get it. That works out for me.

I think that I have a signed copy of the Damon card from this set. The cards are a little bigger than standard cards, therefore I do not keep them in my autograph binders.

Overall, it was another great package from Rod. Right now, I do not know how I am going to go about posting all of these autographs. I will post some on my recap that I am doing right now, but I will save some for a later date. But, I will get them all posted at some time or another.

Thanks, Rod!

I have a thank you package in mind for you that is not baseball related. When I will find the time to drive to the place to get it for you , I do not know. But, I do have something special planned.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1952 Bowman, Ned Garver

#29 Ned Garver

Here is the second Ned Garver card that I sent to him in November. When I started looking to buy some cards of the guys that were going to be at the Kansas City A's reunion, I first went to to see what they had. They had a bunch of Ned Garver cards on there at the time, but they didn't have any cards of him in a Browns uniform that was in my price range. So, I headed to the last resort, Ebay, and I found this card for about $3.50 plus postage. I bought the card and then I ended up finding the '49 Bowman card (yesterday's post) from checkoutmycards about a week later. Ned was the only KC Atheletic at the reunion that I bought two cards of.

I mentioned yesterday that Ned was the last player to win 20 games for a team that lost 100 or more. That was in 1951, Ned's fourth season in the Major Leagues. That was by far the best season that he had in his fourtteen-year career, as he would never win more than 14 games in a season afterwards. That was also the only season that he made the All Star team and he also led the league in complete games that year with 24. But, has another distintion from the 1951 season. Ned hit .305 that year, which was the second highest batting average on the Browns team (minimum 100 plate appearances).

Ned played with the Browns, Tigers, A's, and Angels throughout his career. He finished his career 129-157 with a 3.73 ERA and 153 complete games. He also had a lifetime batting average of .218 with 7 home runs.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1949 Bowman, Ned Garver

#15 Ned Garver

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail in November. I mailed the card on the fourth and I had it back eight days later.

This past summer, Ned was one of the guys that attended the Kansas City A's reunion that was put on by the Kansas City T-Bones. I intended to get to the ballpark early so that I could find these guys and get some cards signed. But, instead, I ended up being stuck in a four mile stretch of interstate for nearly two hours after there were two accidents in a work zone. So, rather than getting to the park early, I got there as the KC A's were being introduced. By the time I made it into the park, I got to see the final three guys take the field. I went down by the field on the side that the guys entered on, only to see them leave on the opposite side. Rather than trying to chase them down, I just stayed by the T-Bones dugout to get the few cards I had of them signed.

Throughout the course of the game, I was able to get eight KC A's autographs from seven different guys. But, I didn't get Ned's. So, when I finally dropped the $15 to sign up for, I got his address and I sent the two cards I had bought for him to sign. This was obviously one of the cards I sent and I was happy to find this card on for about $3. I was totally shocked when I got the cards back because, not only did he sign them both, but he added two more signed cards (two different Diamond Signature cards) as well as a postcard for his book that had a note that read "Zach- Sorry I missed you in KC. Maybe next year. Ned". How cool is that?

This is now the second card from this set that I have got signed and it is also the very first signed St Louis Browns card that I have. In fact, thanks to writing to Ned, I believe that I now have three signed Browns cards.

If you had never heard of Ned, don't feel bad. I hadn't either. But, come to find out, he does indeed have a claim to fame. Ned was the last pitcher to win 20 games for a team that lost 100 or more. He accomplished that feat in 1951 with the Browns. He finished the season 20-12 (his only 20-win season) on a team that went 52-102. That may be an accomplishment that never happens again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2004 Upper Deck Vintage, Dustan Mohr

#282 Dustan Mohr

Here is the second of two Dustan Mohr cards that I got signed in Wichita while he was a member of the Wingnuts in 2009. I posted the first card in November and you can read about Dustan Mohr and how I got this card signed at that post.

But, for now, I just want to celebrate. This is the last 2004 card that I will be posting at this time. I posted my first '04 card on the 19th of October and, with the exceptions of a few "Joy of a Complete Page" posts and a giveaway, it has been nothing but 2004 cards for six days a week. That all changes tomorrow, though. Tomorrow, I will be turning the clock back to 1949. So, make sure you check back in the next couple of days for a few signed vintage cards.

I will probably be starting my 2005 cards in about three weeks. Hopefully, '05 and '06 will go a little quicker than '04. I just wish I could say the same for '07 and '08.

One last thing- Does anyone know what set this set is supposed to resemble? It looks familiar to me, but I just cannot place it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2004 Upper Deck Vintage, Gil Meche

#238 Gil Meche

I am short on time and need to be getting ready for a wedding. But I wanted to get in a post, so here is a short one.

Right now, Gil may be my favorite Royal and it's not because he is their ace pitcher. I like Gil because he has integrity, which is something that is rarely seen in professional sports anymore. Four years ago, Gil signed a five year/$55 million deal with the Royals. He became their ace by default and, as a result, he pitched too many innings and was generally overused by Trey Hillman. The end result was a torn-up shoulder that required surgery last season. Gil agreed to the surgery until he found out how long it was going to keep him out. Once he found out that he was going to miss all of 2011, the final year of his contract, he backed out.

Instead, he went on a rehab assignment to become a reliever and he finished the 2010 season in the Royals bullpen. He still pitches fine, he just doesn't have the stamina to pitch more than a couple of innings. It looks like he may be one of the set-up men for Joakim Soria this season and I wish him the best of luck.

I am just curious what Gil plans to do after 2011. Does he stay a reliever or does he have surgery, miss a season, and then try to get a one-year contract to prove that he has recovered? That is a tough position to put yourself in. But, as a Royals fan, I am proud that Gil had the integrity to fulfill his contractual obligation to the team.

Thank you, Gil. I wish that Zack would have followed your example.

This is the very first card that I got signed by Gil and I got it card signed at the first Royals Fanfest in 2008.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2004 Upper Deck Play Ball, Freddy Guzman

#230 Freddy Guzman

Here is another Padrograph that Rod sent me over two years ago. When I first saw this card, I thought to myself "this is a neat card that I had never seen before, but I have no idea who Freddy Guzman is". And I still didn't know who Freddy was until the 2009 playoffs. Then he magically appeared on the New York Yankees playoff roster and I said "hey, I have that guys autograph".

Freddy has had an interesting career. He started playing pro for the Padre organization in 2001. By 2004, he had eared his first cup of coffee and it lasted all of twenty games. He then missed all of 2005 before resurfacing in '06 for another cup. This cup lasted nine games and it was with the Rangers. He got another cup with them the following season and it lasted eight games. He wouldn't play in the Majors again until the Yankees called him up in 2009 for ten games.

But Freddy's 2009 season was a little more interesting than just ten games for the Yankees. Freddy started the season playing for the Mariners AAA team in Tacoma. He got released in May and was picked up by the Red Sox and assigned to their AAA team. Then the Sox released him in July and he was signed by the Orioles and placed on their AAA team. He remained with them until they traded him to the Yankees on the 31st of August. He was assigned to the Yanks AAA team before he got called up in the middle of September and now he has a World Series ring.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I always thought that you could not appear in the post-season unless you were with the team before the start of September. Is there some kind of loophole that I am missing or am I completely off base?

According to Wikipedia, Freddy signed with the Phillies in the off-season. But, I can find no record of him playing in 2010 besides his recent winter ball stats.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2004 Upper Deck, Tim Hamulak

Here is a card that I got signed in Des Moines, Iowa in 2008. But the story about this autograph starts in Omaha. I was at the College World Series at the time and I had spent so much time getting free autographs from Gaylord Perry and Orel Hershiser that, by the time I got inside the ballpark, all of the general admission seats were full. So, my dad and I stood in a walkway for about an inning watching the game before I called it quits. We had planned on going to Des Moines after the game and I was expecting to get there right when the game started at seven o'clock. So, I figured that if we left early, I could get to Des Moines in time to rake in the autographs before the game started. That was the plan at least.

But, unknown to me was the fact that the Iowa Cubs game the night before had been rained out and they were playing a doubleheader that day. So instead of getting to the park an hour before the gates opened, I got there as the PA announcer was reading off the starting lineups. I took a few quick snapshots of the ballpark and got the tickets and then went inside and found my seat. The game hadn't quite started yet, so I went down to the Omaha Royals bullpen to see who was out there. The only person I saw that I had cards of was Tim Hamulack, so I hurried down to him to see if he would sign before the game started. He acted like he shouldn't be singing autographs at that time and he even looked around to get the other reliever's thoughts and they were all shaking their heads as if saying "don't do it". But, he went ahead and signed all of the cards for me (I can't remember if it was two or three) and that was the extent of raking in the 'graphs before the game.

It turned out all right, though, as I was able to rake them in between games and after the games.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2004 Upper Deck, Mark Loretta

#433 Mark Loretta

Here is a card of the two-time All Star, Mark Loretta. This card falls into the long line of Padrographs that Rod sent me over two years ago.

Mark had a long career that spanned fifteen seasons and five teams- the Brewers, Astros, Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers. His best season came as a Padre in 2004 when he had career highs in average (.335), home runs (16), RBI (76), doubles (47), and runs (108).

But what stands out to me the most is Mark's pitching line. Mark had the privilege of pitching in a Major League game not once, but twice. That doesn't happen to position players very often and the two appearances aren't usually separated by eight years like Mark's. He made his mound debut as a member of the Brewers in 2001. In that game, he pitched one inning and gave up one hit, one walk, and recorded two strikeouts. The two batters he struck out were the Reds Chris Nichting (a pitcher)and Ruben Rivera. His second mound appearance came in his final season in 2009 as a member of the Dodgers. He only threw a third of an inning in that game, but he did record his first hit batsmen when he beaned Matt Holliday with his first pitch. But, he got the next batter to fly out to end the game. So, for his career, Mark is 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 1.1 innings of work with one walk, two strikeouts, and a hit batter. That is not too bad.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2004 Topps Total, Vito Chiaravalloti

#875 Vito Chiaravalloti

Here is the final 2004 Topps Total card and it is of a player that quite possibly has the coolest name in my autograph collection- Vito Chiaravalloti. I have no clue how to pronounce that last name. But, when you have a last name that stretches from armpit to armpit on the back of your jersey, you have a great name. Throw in Vito to go along with the last name and you are set.

Vito was a 15th round draft choice by the Blue Jays in the 2003 draft. He played rookie ball that summer for the Auburn Doubledays and he hit good enough there (.351 average with 12 homers in 68 games) to be named the Short Season A Player of the Year. He moved up to high-A the following year and his average dropped to .266 while he had 14 home runs in 122 games. He started out 2005 at AA, but after hitting just .236 in 45 games, he was bumped back down to high-A where he posted a .212 average in 42 games. He started off 2006 in AA again. But after hitting .190 through 42 games, the Blue Jays released him. He was picked up by the Orioles, but after hitting .075 for their high-A team, they released him as well.

After that, it was on to the Atlantic League. He played his first season there with the Road Warriors and he hit .296 with 19 home runs. That seems pretty good for a guy that did not play a single home game that season. He must have impressed someone because in 2008, Vito got to play half of his games at home as a member of the Somerset Patriots. His average dipped to .234 with them and he moved on to the Camden Riversharks in 2009. That was the season that I got this card signed. And me getting it signed consisted of me putting this card in an envelope and sending it to New Jersey where Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff fame, was nice enough to get it signed for me. With Camden, Vito raised his average back up to .272.

For the 2010 season, Vito only played in a handful of games with the Patriots and Riversharks. By a handful, I mean twenty. He hit .233 in his seventeen games with Camden and then went 1-7 in three games with Somerset. So, unless he got injured, it appears that Vito Chiaravalloti's career might be done. [Edit: Turns out the Vito had pretty much retired to become a school teacher, but he came back for a few games when the teams were short on help. Here's the article. Thanks Paul!]

There are still some free packs of football and wrestling/racing cards up for grabs in my previous post. Free free to snag them.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Free Cards!!

For Christmas, my best friend got me a repack stocking that included an '85 Fleer Update set and an '89 Louisville Redbirds team set, along with some other goodies. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought four more of them the next day. Now I have some extra packs that I don't want and I figured I would start the new year by giving them away. Here is what I have.

Here are the basketball packs- two 93-94 Topps, four 98 Press Pass, one 93-94 Fleer, two 91-92 Fleer, one 05-06 Fleer Hoops, one 93-94 Stadium Club, and one 94 UD USA Basketball.

Here are the football packs- 91 Fleer, 91 Paific Plus, 06 Fleer, 91 Classic 4 Sport Draft Picks, 94 Gold Standard (another four sport pack), and a mini '96 UD pack that looks like it might have been included in a box of cereal.

Here are the baseball packs- two packs of '89 Bowman and '89 Topps Stickers, one pack each of '88 Donruss (that looks like it has been resealed), '87 Topps, and '90 Topps Stickers as well as a 1989 Star Canton Akron Indians team set that includes Joey (AKA Albert) Belle.

I don't know why this picture got turned sideways, but here are the soccer cards- three packs of 92 Pacific MSL cards, one pack of 94 World Cup cards, and a some weird World Cup cards from the '80s.

Here are some wrestling and racing packs- two packs (one card each) of Pinnacle Checkers racing cards, three packs of '99 Smack Down cards, and one pack of '91-92 WCW cards.

All you have to do to get the cards is claim them. It is first come, first serve. You get all of the cards in the picture just by leaving a comment saying that you want the baseball lot, the basketball lot, the football lot, the soccer lot, or the racing/wrestling lot. One lot per person, but if you want more than one, you can make a second request and, if no one else claims it, it will be yours. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.

Also, I picked up a bunch of these baseball coins from the late '80s. If anyone wants these, I will include them with the other cards.

Now, if these cards are not new enough or shiny enough for you, head over to My 2008 Topps Set Blog. Uncle Moe is giving away a box of 2010 Bowman Chrome and you have about four days left to get in on that contest. Make sure you check it out!

2004 Topps Total, Tommy Murphy

#847 Tommy Murphy

Here is a card that I got signed in Des Moines, Iowa in 2009. Tommy was playing for the visiting Omaha Royals at the time and I was able to get this card signed between games of the doubleheader.

At the time, I hadn't realized that Tommy had some Major League service time. It appears that Tommy got called up by the Angles in 2006 and 2007. He played in 48 games the first year and 20 in the second. His career totals are a .213 batting average with a home run, 8 RBI, and 4 stolen bases in 5 attempts. His lone home run was hit off of Baltimore's Adam Loewen.

After the 2007 season, the Angels granted Tommy his free agency. He played for three different organizations in 2008, including the independent New Jersey Jackals, before landing with the O-Royals in 2009. The O-Royals released him about a month after he signed this card and he hasn't played professionally since.

Only one more '04 Topps Total to go!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2004 Topps Total, Carl Loadenthal

#838 Carl Loadenthal

Unlike the last four "first year" cards that I posted on here, Carl never made it to the Major Leagues. He was picked up by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent in 2003 after playing college ball at Rider University. He moved steadily up the ranks and by the end of 2006, he had reached AA. He stayed in AA for all of '07 and he started out '08 there as well before getting promoted to AAA. At the AAA level, Carl hit .278 in 240 at-bats. That was not good enough for the Braves and they released him after the season. The Mets gave him a shot in '09, but he hit just .239 in 59 games at AA before he got released.

After that, it was on to the Atlantic League and that is where this card got signed, courtesy of Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff. Carl played for Newark and York that season and I have no idea who he was playing for when Paul got the card signed. Carl hit .200 with York and .317 with Newark, but it wasn't enough to keep him in the Atlantic League. In 2010, he played for the Sussex Skyhawks of the CanAm League and he hit .315 there. It will be interesting to see where he plays in 2011.

Personally, I think Carl should take Warner Madrigal's route and become a pitcher. He made his pitching debut in college in 2001 and in two game and one inning of work, he allowed nine hits and seven earned runs. He next pitched in 2004 in the Appalachian League and he gave up six hits and five earned runs in two innings of work. He made his next mound appearance in 2006 in the Carolina League and he pitched his first scoreless inning. Sure, he gave up two hits and two walks, but none of them scored. Now, if that isn't improvement, than I don't know what is.

Happy New Year!