Friday, December 30, 2011

2006 Grandstand Aberdeen IronBirds, Jason Berken

#26 Jason Berken

Here is a card that was sent to me last year by Ryan of the Great Orioles Autograph Project. Prior to going to Orioles Fanfest last year, Ryan did a post offering up some free autographs for a couple of players that he did not need signatures from. All his readers had to do was post a comment on who they wanted and then send him a card of that player.

There were a couple of people that I wanted autographs from, but unfortunately, I did not have any cards of them. So, I ended up working out a trade with Ryan where I would get a Jamie Quirk Orioles Crown card signed at Royals Fanfest in exchange for an autograph from one of the players on his list.

But Ryan, being the class act that he is, sweetened up the deal and I ended up getting two autographed cards for the Quirk Crown card. And as if that was not enough, Ryan emailed me which cards he had and he let me pick out which two I wanted. How cool is that?

So in the end, I ended up with this card and a Dick Hall Crown card. Thanks again, Ryan!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2006 Fleer Tradition, Ryan Shealy

#165 Ryan Shealy

Here is a card of Ryan Shealy that I got signed outside of the Royals parking lot in 2008. I am pretty sure that this is the only Shealy card that I owned at the time, so this is the only autograph that I have from him.

Ryan used to be a big name prospect that never really panned out. He was drafted by the Rockies in the eleventh round of the draft in 2002 and then tore up the Pioneer League that season by hitting 19 home runs in 69 games. He moved up to the California League the next season and he hit 14 dingers there. In 2004, he was promoted to AA and he hit 29 homers in the Texas League. He was promoted to AAA the following season and he hit 26 home runs in the Pacific Coast League. Ryan also saw some big league action that year and he hit .330 in 91 at-bats for the Rockies.

The only obstacle standing in Ryan's way was Todd Helton. Ryan was a first basemen by trade and there was no way he was going to get any significant playing time with Colorado. So, the Rockies traded him to the Royals during the 2006 season and, as a Royals fan, I was ecstatic.

In Ryan's first season with the Royals, he hit .280 with 7 home runs in 51 games. It was a good start and I am sure that most Royals fans were looking forward to see what he could do over a full season. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Ryan broke camp with the Royals in 2007 and was basically the everyday first baseman through June. By the end of that month though, he was only hitting .220 with 3 home runs. I can't remember if he was hurt or battling an illness, but the Royals shut him down and he finished up the season in AAA.

He played most of the 2008 season in AAA, only getting called up to the Majors when the rosters expanded in September. He then had a hot September for the Royals and he hit .301 with 7 home runs in 20 games. Unfortunately, the Billy Butler era had started in Kansas City and Ryan never played another game as a Kansas City Royal.

He played for the Royals AAA again in 2009 and was released after the season was over. He was picked up by Tampa Bay and he played for their AAA team before getting released in June. Two days later, he was signed by Boston and assigned to their AAA team. He did get a brief call-up to the Red Sox and he went 0-7 in the five games he played for them. Last season, he was with the Blue Jays AAA team and he hit .272 with 11 home runs in 62 games. According to Baseball Reference, Ryan is currently a free agent.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2006 Fleer Tradition, Tim Hamulak

#69 Tim Hamulak

Sorry about the lack of posts recently, but work tends to get a little hectic this time of year. Luckily, I have today off and am able to get a quick post in.

Here is a card of Tim Hamulak that I got signed in Des Moines, Iowa in 2009. Tim was pitching for the Omaha Royals at the time and I was able to get this card signed by the O-Royals bullpen just before first pitch. In fact, it was so close to game time that I didn't think Tim was going to sign for me. He looked at all of the guys in the pen to see if he should sign or not and they were all shaking their heads for him not to sign. But, he relented and signed all three cards for me.

The game the previous night got rained out and was being played as part of a double header that day. Since I was on the road for the College World Series and didn't own a smart phone or laptop, I had no idea that I was going to be attending a double header. Because of that, I arrived at the game just before first pitch instead of at least an hour prior. So, the three cards that Tim signed for me were the only cards I got signed before the game started. Luckily, I got a few more signed between games and after the games.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2006 Fleer, Clint Barmes

#324 Clint Barmes

Here is a card that I got signed outside of Kauffman Stadium in 2010. I went to the game because the Royals were hosting the '85 Classic that day. The Classic was a one time event that pitted some of the '85 Royals against some of the '85 Cardinals. I wanted to get to the ballpark a little earlier than usual to get some signatures from former Royals. Unfortunately, that did not work out as all of the '85 Royals showed up on a bus and did not sign any autographs while entering the ballpark. Lucky for me that I was still there early enough that some of the visiting Rockies players were still arriving and Clint was nice enough to sign a few cards for me.

I remember Clint mostly for his hot start in the 2005 season. He hit .410 through the first month of the season and became just the third player in MLB history to hit over .400 through in March/April. I was deployed to Iraq at the time and I still remember my tank commander and myself wondering how long he would be able to keep it up.

Unfortunately, he did not keep it up too long. He hit a bit of a slump after the first month was over and then he had a freak injury. He initially said that he broke his left collarbone while carrying groceries up the stairs to his apartment. But, he later revealed that he broke it in a fall while taking a package of deer meat, given to him by Todd Helton, up to his apartment. Seems like the same thing to me.

Clint finished the season hitting .289. Since then, he has only topped that average once, when he hit .290 in 2008.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2006 Fleer, Kerry Wood

#103 Kerry Wood

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2009. Kerry was with the Indians then and he signed this card for me by the visiting team dugout right after batting practice got over.

Another 'grapher had asked Kerry to sign and he didn't respond at all. I just figured he was ignoring him as he kept on walking to the clubhouse. But, he passed up the clubhouse entrance and came over and signed for a few people. For some reason, I felt like Kerry was going to skip signing for me. That obviously was not the case, though I was the next to last person he signed for. I was even more surprised when he signed two out of my three cards.

Kerry might not be the pitcher that he once was, but he is still in the record book for striking out twenty batters in a nine inning game as a rookie in 1998. Since that season, though, it has been a bumpy ride for Kerry as he been on the disabled list many times for arm troubles. It got to the point that he was taken out of the starting rotation and moved to the bullpen. He closed for a couple of seasons, but he spent this past season as a set-up man for the Cubs.

Kerry is a free agent right now and the only rumor I have heard is that it is the Cubs or retirement. We'll have to wait and see how that pans out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2006 Fleer, Jarrod Washburn

#9 Jarrod Washburn

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2008. Jarrod was with the Mariners at the time and he signed this card from the dugout as his team was taking batting practice. I had three cards for Jarrod to sign, but he would only sign two of them. The guy beside me didn't have a card of Jarrod and he asked him to sign an index card. Jarrod said that he didn't sign index cards, so I offered up my unsigned card to the guy. But, for whatever reason, he wouldn't except the card. I still don't get some players refusal to sign index cards and/or the "autograph card". I asked one AAA player why he wouldn't and all he said was "identity theft".

This card is a welcome change from all of the photo shopped Topps cards. So what if Jarrod was signed by the Mariners in December. There are no pictures of him playing as a Mariner. Just put a picture of Jarrod from the previous season on the card and let people know that he is now with the Mariners. What is so wrong with that?

Jarrod has been retired since the end of the 2009 season. I posted my other signed card of him about a year ago and it can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2006 Diamond Signatures, Ned Garver

#14 Ned Garver

Almost one year ago, I posted a couple of vintage cards that Ned Garver signed for me through the mail (a '49 Bowman and a '52 Bowman). I bought the cards to get signed at the Kansas City A's reunion that the Kansas City T-Bones hosted the previous summer, but I missed Ned at the event. So, I sent the two cards to him and he returned both of them signed and he even included two more cards.

The two cards he sent me were two different Diamond Signatures cards. These are the first Diamond Signature cards that I have ever seen, but I had heard about the cards before. If I am not mistaken, these cards were made to be given away to older retired ballplayers so that they would have stuff to sign for people. How accurate that statement is is unclear, but it seems like a plausible one. If anyone else knows anything about these cards, feel free to chime in.

The only problem with this card is that Ned misspelled my name. My name is spelled with an "h", not a "k". But, that is only a minor problem. If I had sent one card and it came back with a misspelled personalization, I might be a little ticked off about it. But Ned signed both of my cards I sent him without a personalization and then included two more, that he didn't have to include, with the misspelled name. How can I get mad about that? He could have made the cards out to Tom, Dick, or Harry and I would have been just as happy to add them to my collection.

Thank you, Mr. Garver!

Monday, December 12, 2011

2006 Bowman Originals, Ryan Patterson

#BO37 Ryan Patterson

Here is the second of three cards that Ryan Patterson signed for me before a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2010. You can see the first one by scrolling down a few posts.

This is the only 2006 Bowman Originals card that I own and I think that I might like the set. Obviously, it is hard to judge a set based on one card, but I do like this card a lot when compared to regular Bowman. For starters, every 2006 Bowman card I posted used a posed picture. Again, this is just one card, but it has a nice action shot one it. This could be the only card in the entire set that has an action shot, but I highly doubt that is the case.

Also, I like the white border. Bowman is renown for its constant use of black borders (except for the first year Bowmans). The white border on this card is real clean and it pulls off a different look that I do not associate with Bowman. Again, this is all based off of this one card and, for all I now, the rest of the set could look like crap.

I like how Patterson added his number to his signature. The number 5 was the number he wore while with the Wingnuts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2006 Bowman Heritage, Chase Fontaine

#BHP89 Chase Fontaine

Here is the second of three Chase Fontaine signatures that I got at a Wilmington Blue Rocks playoff game in 2009. The first one can be seen here.

Chase was drafted by the Braves in the third round of the 2006 draft. He played Rookie ball the season he was drafted and then spent 2007 split between A ball and high-A. He only hit .205 in high-A and then the Braves packaged him in a deal that sent him to the Tampa Bay organization. He repeated A ball and high-A again with the Rays and, again, he struggled at high-A and only hit .217 in limited action.

2009 found Chase in the Royals organization and he again repeated A ball and high-A. He did not receive much playing time, but he did hit better at the high-A level (.288). But, in the end, it just wasn't good enough and Chase found himself in the Can-Am League in 2010.

This past season, Chase played in the Frontier League and the Can-Am League.

This photo looks almost identical to Chase's regular Bowman card. The one difference is that the bat is on the opposite shoulder on this one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2006 Bowman Heritage, Matthew Sulentic

#BHP82 Matthew Sulentic

Here is a card that I got signed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010. Matt was playing for the visiting Midland RockHounds and I was able to get this card signed before the game started.

Matt was drafted by the A's in the third round of the 2006 draft. He split his first two professional seasons between rookie ball and A ball before moving up to high-A in 2008. He hit .309 in a full season in the California League and was rewarded with a promotion to AA in 2009. He then spent 2009, 2010, and 2011 playing for the A's AA team.

I posted a card of Ryan Patterson yesterday and he had a similar story of playing three strait years of AA ball before ending up in a different type of AA ball- the American Association. To Matt's benefit, he is four years younger than Ryan. So, he could still develop a bit. But, he had better pick it up before the A's cut ties with him.

This card is one of the minis that were included in this set. The set is supposed to mimic the 1949 Bowman set and to truly do that, all of the cards would be this size. I doubt Topps would ever make an entire set of cards that are not the standard size ever again. But, I think that an entire set of this in minis would be fun.

Friday, December 9, 2011

2006 Bowman Heritage, Ryan Patterson

#BHP33 Ryan Patterson

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnut game in 2010 while Ryan was with the 'Nuts. I went to a handful of games that year and Ryan was with the team all season long. Yet, for some reason, I was unable to get Ryan to sign this card until the last weekend of the season. It wasn't like he didn't sign at all because I had got him the year before while he was with Ft. Worth. But for whatever reason last year, his pre-game routine made him elusive for me.

Ryan was drafted by the Blue Jays in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. He reached AA in his second season in the pros, but he never advanced any higher. He repeated AA in 2007 and 2008 and the Jays released him after the '08 season. That year, he had hit a career low .248.

Since then, Ryan has been playing in the American Association. He spent 2009 with the Ft. Worth Cats, 2010 with Wichita, and 2011 was split between Wichita, Ft. Worth, and the St. Paul Saints. Even though he played for three teams this past season, Ryan was still the American Association's Star of Stars, which is MVP award for the league.

This is probably the only black jersey card in my collection that looks good. Good job Topps!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2006 Bowman, Tommy Murphy

#BDP17 Tommy Murphy

Here is a card that the former Angel, Tommy Murphy, signed for me in 2009. Tommy was playing for the Omaha Royals at the time and he signed three cards for me in between games of a double header. He didn't seem to be in a particularly good mood after going hitless in the first game, but he was still nice enough to stop and sign.

I was in Des Moines that year because of the College World Series. My dad and I found out the hard way that you can't sit in general admission for both the day and evening game and expect to see the whole game and find a seat. So, for a couple of years, we would go to the day game and then drive to a minor league game in the evening. We went Sioux City the first year and Des Moines the second year. There really isn't any more teams within driving distance, so we just went to the hotel after the day game this year. Now that the Omaha Storm Chasers are not sharing the same ballpark as the CWS, I am hoping that they will be at home this next year (they were on the road for opening weekend this year).

For some reason, I was thinking that I posted the first Tommy Murphy card about three to four months ago. Turns out that I posted it eleven months ago. It has been one of them years.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2006 Bowman, Mike Aviles

#BC114 Mike Aviles

Here is a card that I got signed at an Albuequerque Isotopes game in 2008. Mike was playing for the Omaha Royals at the time and he signed this card for me after taking infield practice.

When I got this card signed, I figured that this would be the only Mike Aviles autograph I ever got. Mike was 27 years old that season and he was spending his third straight year playing for Omaha. Clearly, the Royals didn't think too highly of him and he was basically a filler for the AAA team. Lucky for Mike, Tony Pena Jr. started to forget how to hit and Mike started to tear up the Pacific Coast League. Mike's average rose to .336 in the PCL and the Royals finally figured that they had to give him a shot in Kansas City. Mike responded by hitting .325 over the rest of the season while notching 41 extra base hits in 102 games. For his effort, Mike was named the Royals Player of the Year.

Since he then spent the next two and a half years with the Royals, I now have multiple signatures from Mike. He was always willing to sign autographs by the Royals parking lot and was very consistent by signing no more than two items.

I'm actually very lucky that this card came out looking as good as it does. 2008 was my first year back in autograph collecting and, after a twelve year hiatus, I really had no clue what I was doing. So, I would buy whatever cards I could find on ebay and take my chances. I knew some glossy cards from 1994 did not take signatures too well, but I figured that they had fixed that problem by 2008. Therefore, the concept of prepping cards never came to mind. If I were to get this card signed today, I would give it a good dousing of baby powder to get the auto to stick and not bubble. But, being clueless, that thought never came to mind and I am just lucky this card came out this good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2006 Bowman, Alex Presley

#BP48 Alex Presley

Here is another card that I got signed in Wilmington, Delaware in 2009. Alex was playing for the Lynchburg Hillcats at the time and he was nice enough to sign this card for me after the Carolina League championship game. The Hillcats won the game and they went on to take the title, too.

Alex went from high-A ball in 2009 to the Major Leagues in 2010 when the Pirates called him up in September. Prior to that call-up, Alex had hit .350 in AA and .294 in AAA. Alex got a hit in his Major League debut, getting a single in his second at-bat against the Braves.

Alex started 2011 at AAA, but he was back in the Majors by June. He finished the season with a .298 average with 12 doubles, 6 triples, 4 home runs, and 20 RBI in 54 games. He even swiped 9 bases.

Alex is a little guy, especially for an outfielder. He is listed at 5'9" and 190 pounds. But, it looks like he is the front runner to be the Bucs starting left fielder in 2012.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2006 Bowman, Nate Culp

#BP20 Nate Culp

Here is another Padrograph that Rod sent me a couple of years ago. This one features Nate Culp, the Padres fourth round pick in 2006.

Nate pitched in the Padres system through the 2010 season. That year, he made four starts in AAA and he gave up 21 earned runs in 19 innings of work. He was 5-8 with a 4.21 ERA for the rest of the season in AA, though. But in the end, it was not enough and Nate retired after the season. I guess he did not see himself advancing much further in the game. He still has a player page on Minor League Baseball's site, but his status is listed as on the voluntarily retired list.

This card is one of the thick gold parallel cards and I honestly did not think that these cards could get creased without breaking them in half. But, I was wrong as there is a noticeable crease on the middle of the right edge of the card. I guess there is a first time for everything.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2006 Bowman, Cyle Hankerd

#BP16 Clye Hankerd

Here is a card that my buddy got signed for me while we were down in Amarillo. I graphed the visiting team and I had Adam graph the home team side. This was the first time Adam had ever graphed before and it was basically a warm up for the AAA game the next day. Now that I think of it, this is the only card that he Adam got signed in Amarillo. Luckily, he picked up his game the next day.

Cyle (it feels weird spelling his name that way) was drafted in the third round by the Diamondbacks in 2006. He moved steadily up through their system and reached AA in 2008. He then repeated AA in 2009 and then again in 2010. He saw a little action in AAA in 2010 and did well in limited action. But, his .245 average over 192 AA at-bats must have done him in and the D-Backs released him. He could have been injured, too, since he only played in 85 games that season.

No affiliated team was interested in Cyle and he ended up with the Amarillo Sox to start off last season. He then proceeded to tear up the American Association to the tune of a .355 average with 10 homers and 74 RBI in just 70 games. The Phillies took notice and they bought him from the Sox and assigned Cyle to their high-A team in Clearwater, Florida. In his one month with them, he hit just .248. But he did club 6 home runs and drive in 23 in just 31 games.