Wednesday, February 26, 2014

1989 Topps, Bruce Fields

#556 Bruce Fields

Here is a card that I got signed about a year and a half ago at a Royals game. Bruce was the Indians hitting coach at the time and he was nice enough to sign two cards for me while his club was taking batting practice.

Bruce's Major League playing career lasted just 58 games, over parts of three seasons, with the Tigers and Mariners. In that short span, Bruce hit .274 with a home run and 11 RBI. His lone home run was off of John Davis of the White Sox.

Bruce saw most of his playing time with the M's in 1988. That season, he got into 39 games and hit .269 with 5 doubles, the home run, and 5 RBI.

I really only remember Bruce because he was a Rated Rookie in the '87 Donruss set. I wanted to get that card signed by him, but the card is an uncorrected error as it mistakenly has a picture of another player (Darnell Coles, maybe?) on it. Some guys are real iffy about signing a card without their picture on it, so I passed. Luckily, I was still able to find two cards of him to take with me that day.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1989 Topps, Rex Hudler

#346 Rex Hudler

Here is a new autograph for this blog. This one is of Rex Hudler, who replaced Frank White as the color commentator on the Royals TV broadcasts. I got this card and two others signed by Rex at the last Royals home game in 2012.

Rex has had the Royals TV job since 2012. He had some big shoes to fill following up the fan favorite, Frank White. And so far, all he has done is disappoint. Luckily, I don't have cable and am unable to watch the broadcasts because he makes them hard to sit through. I have only caught his act a couple of times at my dad's and it was rough. He just seems to talk to the fans like they have never seen a game of baseball before. It is nice to have a former player in that role, in my opinion, because they can give you insight from a player's perspective. But, in the few games I have seen, Rex did not do that. He just kept explaining the obvious and doing so far longer than necessary. Maybe I just need more time to warm up to him, but I have not had that opportunity.

Aside from that, Rex seems like a really nice guy. He always has a smile on his face and I have never seen him turn down an autograph. You can tell that he really wants to be at the ballpark every day.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

1989 Score, Mike Birkbeck

#496 Mike Birkbeck

Here is the third and final card that Mike Birkbeck signed for me almost two years ago. All three cards were signed for in Omaha during the College World Series.

Mike is the pitching coach for the Kent State Golden Flashes of the Mid-American Conference. This is his eighteenth season in that role. During Mike's tenure with the team, the Golden Flashes have won seven MAC regular season titles, eight MAC postseason tournaments, have appeared in eight Regionals, and made one trip to Omaha. Some of Mike's former student-athletes include Matt Guerrier, Dirk Hayhurst, and Andy Sonnestine.

In other Kent State news, I just noticed that the school has brought on Brandon Larson as a volunteer assistant. Brandon was a CWS title winner with LSU in the late '90s before getting drafted by the Reds. I posted a card of him a few years back and he is still the only former player to comment on this blog.

As for Mike Birkbeck, you can see the first card I posted of him here and the second one here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1989 Fleer, Bill Pecota

#289 Bill Pecota

This is the second Bill Pecota card that I have posted on here. The first one was way back in 2008 and it was a card that I got signed by Bill at a card show about twenty-five years ago. This is one that I got signed earlier this month at Royals Fanfest.

This is the first time I have ever got in-person signatures from the same person twenty-five years apart. It is kind of cool because you can see how his signature has changed slightly over the years. While not drastically different, there is noticeable changes. The main ones are the fist and last letters that he signs, the "B" and "t". In 1988, his "B" actually looked like a B while his "t" looked more like a star. Now, I don't even know how to describe his "B". And his "t" is completely different. He used to start it from the bottom, but now he picks up his pen and starts it from the top. It now looks more like a plus sign than a star.

I have about four more cards of Bill to post, so I am just going to leave this one as just an analyses of how his signature has changed over time. Below is the first card I posted of him so you can see the changes for yourself.

Has anyone else noticed any changes in a person's signature over time (not counting when they get really old)?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

1989 Columbus Clippers Police, Dave Eiland

#2 Dave Eiland

Here is the first of about a half dozen cards that I have got signed by the Royals pitching coach in 2012. 2012 was Dave's first year with the club and he was my go-to guy for an autograph when I was striking out with everyone else. Dave was always hanging out at the Royals bullpen when I needed him and he has yet to turn me down, though I have only asked him twice.

Speaking of getting turned down, I came home empty handed today from the Wichita State game. The reason I went to the game was to get Jason Isringhausen's autograph. Jason is the pitching coach for Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. However, he was nowhere to be seen today, so maybe he does not travel with the team. This year's 'graphing is starting out just like it did last year.

As for the game, it was interesting. We left after the fifth inning with the Shockers up 21-1. That was two hours ago and that game is probably still going on. SIE couldn't do much of anything with their pitching or hitting. Maybe Jason should have made the trip. They could have used him on the mound.

This card was put out by the Columbus Police Department and Cracker Jack. That is why it has the Cracker Jack border. When I first saw this card, though, I thought the border was dirt. Silly me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

1988 Topps, Jose Bautista

#10T Jose Bautista

Here is the second and final card that was signed by Jose Bautista during Spring Training last year. Jose is a minor league pitching coach in the White Sox organization and I was able to get the cards signed during a minor league workout.

Speaking of Spring Training, pitchers and catchers reported yesterday. We had an awesome time in Arizona last spring and we had the itch to go back again this year. But, we decided against it since we have a wedding to pay for and we would like to go to Chicago this summer for the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field. But, now that Spring Training has officially started, that itch is back and it is getting harder to scratch. Ultimately, I think we are going to say no, but you never know with us.

Anyways, now back to this card. I was a little surprised how the signature came out on this one. This is just a regular old Topps Traded card, but the signature looked like it wanted to start to bubble up like it was on a Tiffany card or something. I have no idea how to explain this one. This card came out of the same set as the Don August card I posted yesterday, yet the August card came out just fine.

While I am probably not going to Spring Training this year, I am going to my first baseball game of 2014 tomorrow. Wichita State is hosting Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and former Major Leaguer Jason Isringhausen happens to be the pitching coach for SIE. Hopefully I will have better luck with collegiate pitching coaches this year than I did last year.

Friday, February 14, 2014

1988 Topps, Don August


Here is the second card of Don August that I got signed through the mail in 2012. I sent him his '85 Topps USA card and I threw this card in with it just because I had it.

Don's big league career spanned parts of four seasons, all with the Brewers. He was mainly used as a starter and he reached double-digit wins in each of his first two seasons. His best season was his rookie campaign where he went 13-7 with a 3.09 ERA.

For his career, Don was 34-30 with a 4.64 ERA. He struck out 181 batters while walking 158. Yikes.

Don was a first round draft pick by the Astros out of Chapman University. He was traded to the Brewers in '86 when the Astros were making their playoff run. They needed some pitching help and sent off their prospect for Danny Darwin. Darwin did real well down the stretch and pitched in Houston for four more years.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

1988 Topps, Jeff Montgomery

#447 Jeff Montgomery

Here is another card from Jeff Montgomery. Jeff is a frequent visitor to Royals Fanfest and this is the first one I have posted from this years Fanfest. I have plenty of Royals cards signed by him, so I had to add another Reds card of him. I have his '88 Score card signed and I posted that one about five years ago. I can't believe I have been doing this for that long.

I tried to acquire this card from the Topps Diamond Giveaway a few years back without any luck. I eventually broke down and picked one up off of COMC and I apparently picked out the one with the blemish to the left of Jeff's head.

Jeff saved 304 games in his career, including a league high and Royals single season record of 45 in 1993 (which was broken last season). All of those saves came with the Royals. Jeff's Reds career spanned a mere 19.1 innings where he went 2-2 with 6.52 ERA. He even made his lone start of his career with the Reds and pitched five innings against the Dodgers and gave up five runs on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts. That day was the only time Jeff ever batted in a Major League game and he went 0-2 with a strikeout.

Jeff was traded to Kansas City after the season for Van Snider. Van saw action in nineteen games with the Reds and hit .200. I think that the Royals got the better end of that deal.

Jeff currently works for the Royals TV broadcasts, helping out with the pre- and post-game shows.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

1988 Score, Chris Bosio

#38 Chris Bosio

Here is the second installment of Chris Bosio cards that I got signed at Spring Training last year.

It was actually kind of a fluke that I got these cards signed by Chris last spring. While we had planned on seeing the Cubs play the first day we were there, I was unable to get any cards signed by him then. For the second day, we were supposed to see the Giants at the Rockies at Salt River Fields. When we got to the complex, we were surprised to see that the game was sold out. This was our first trip to Arizona and I never thought a weekday game would sell out. It was still really early as I was hoping to get some autographs from the minor league fields. So, we payed to park and walked around a bit while keeping an eye out for people with tickets. We didn't see anyone selling tickets or any 'graphers to help identify people, so we said screw it. We're are heading to Tempe to see the Royals play the Angels.

So, we got back in the car and, after a brief stop at Target, drove to Tempe. We got their a lot closer to gametime and there was some surprisingly heavy traffic. By the time we got to the park, we discovered that that game was also sold out. We actually found a scalper at that place but we were unwilling to shell out over a hundred dollars for three lawn seats. So, I got back on the smartphone and found a third choice.

The third choice was Maryvale, home of the Brewers. They were playing the Cubs and I figured that if an Angels/Royals game was sold out, surely a Brewers/Cubs game would be too. But, rather than have no baseball that day, we made the drive to check it out. By this time, all three of us were a little pissed off with how the events were unfolding. But, we got to the park and it was not sold out and everything was all good.

Since I had seen the Cubs the night before, I had my Cubs cards handy. It took a bit to get them somewhat sorted, but I had a thirty minute drive to do the best I could. I didn't get very many cards signed at that game. But, with the circumstances, I was happy to get anything at all. And we got to see a good game and have a couple of beers in the shade. The shade was nice since we got fried on the first day of the trip.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

1988 Fleer, Frank White

#273 Frank White

While I have posted too many cards of Frank White on here to remember, here is something you won't see everyday- 1988 Fleer. This card is the first ever card from the set that I have got signed and just the second one to appear on this blog (the first was given to me by another blogger). For whatever reason, I just do not have very many cards from the '88 Fleer set. I have a plethora of Topps from that year and a lot of Donruss and Score, but not Fleer. The only reason I can come up for not having many of the cards is that my local supermarket must not have stocked Fleer.

This card is one of two that Frank signed for me in Wichita last summer. Frank has been working for the Kansas City T-Bones, of the American Association, for the last two years and I got the cards signed when they visited the Wingnuts. Last month it was announced that he will be back with the club for a third season. The Bones hired a new manager this off-season, so I was unsure if Frank would be back. But, he is. After all, who wouldn't want an eight-time Gold Glover coaching minor leaguers?

Sadly, Frank was not at Royals Fanfest for the second straight year. Almost two years ago, he and the Royals had a falling out after they did not renew his contract as the color man on their TV broadcasts. Frank claims that he is "done with Royals", which is sad because of the long history between the franchise and himself. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and Frank will come back. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

1988 Donruss Rookies, Jose Bautista

#41 Jose Bautista

Nope, not that Jose Bautista. This is the first one, that one that pitched for the Orioles, Cubs, Giants, Tigers, and Cardinals in the '80s and '90s.

This Jose is the pitching coach for the Kanapolis Intimidators of the South Atlantic League. The Intimidators are affiliated with the White Sox and I was able to get two cards signed by him at the White Sox minor league workout at Spring Training last year. Jose was off to the side helping with pitchers bullpen sessions and was easily accessible.

Jose spent parts of nine seasons pitching in the Majors, working mostly as a middle reliever. He was a starter in his first season and ended up finishing 6-15 with the '88 O's club. He started two-thirds of his games the next season before going to the 'pen except for some spot starts with the Cubs and Giants.

Jose's Baseball Almanac page seems to have him slightly confused the current Jose Bautista. When you click on "Awards", it lists him as the two-time player of the week award winner in 2010.

Monday, February 3, 2014

1988 Donruss, Bobby Thigpen

#247 Bobby Thigpen

Here is the second and last card that I got Bobby Thigpen to sign for me at Spring Training last year. I usually take three cards for anyone I try to get autographs from, but with Bobby, I settled for two. I was a little overwhelmed prepping for Spring Training with all of the players, coaches, and invites for both the Major League clubs and their affiliates. So, I called it good on Bobby when I was able to find two cards of him. I was kind of lucky that I found this card, too, as it came from my kid's collection. He was fortunate to have two of them, so he hooked me up to save me the hassle.

Bobby's career spanned nine seasons with the White Sox, Phillies, and Mariners. He was a reliever that entire time and he racked up 201 saves for his career. He had four straight 30+ save seasons with the Sox, including his Major League record of 57 in 1990. He made his lone All Star team that season and retired the side in his inning of work.

He was traded to the Phillies during the 1993 season and pitched in two World Series games for them. He pitched 2.2 innings and gave up just a hit and a walk. He pitched just 7.2 innings with the Mariners in 1994 before being released. He then went to Japan and pitched there for two seasons where he saved 20 more games and posted a sub 2.00 ERA. He came back to the States in '96 and appeared in four games with the White Sox AAA team before calling it a career.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

1988 Donruss, Juan Nieves

Here is the second of three cards that Juan Nieves signed for me at a Royals game in 2012. Juan was the White Sox bullpen coach at the time.

Juan's claim to fame is pitching a no hitter in 1987. It was just his second start in his second season in the Majors. He blanked the Orioles with no runs or hits while walking five and striking out seven. He was a little erratic that day, but he certainly got the job done. The last out of the game was made by Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, who flew out to center. Juan was the second youngest pitcher to throw a no-no and the first Brewer and first Puerto Rican to accomplish the feat.

Yesterday was Royals Fanfest and it turned out much better than I thought it would. After a slow start, I came home with almost fifty signed cards. After last years, I figured that I would be doing good if I got about twenty-five cards signed. Halfway through the event, it looked like that was where I was heading. But things picked up in the second half and, by the final signing, I was able to hit up four of the six booths that were set up. Many people had obviously left by then because earlier in the day, it was impossible to go to more than one booth in one signing. I missed out on Salvador Perez again, but I did get my first 'graphs from Jeremy Guthrie, Tim Collins, Brett Hayes, Les Norman, and Jamie Bluma. And, I got two cards from the 2014 Topps set signed.

All in all, it was a good day. I got a lot of autographs and the kid had a blast. The fiance wasn't feeling too well, but she fought on like a champ. I can't wait for next year.