Tuesday, May 31, 2016

College World Series Contest TIme!!

It's that time again! It is time for my seventh annual College World Series Contest.

Yesterday, the NCAA announced the 64 teams that will be competing for the 2016 College World Series championship. To commemorate it, I am holding the seventh annual College World Series contest here at Autographed Cards. It is going to be a couple of weeks before the main phase of the contest starts, but you can earn some bonus points here that could make a difference when the main portion gets going. All you have to do right now is pick the eight teams that are going to be playing in Omaha. Here are the teams to choose from.

Slot One
1. Florida
1. Florida St
2. Georgia Tech
2. Southern Miss
3. Connecticut
3. South Alabama
4. Bethune-Cookman
4. Alabama St

Slot Two
1. NC State
1. LSU
2. Coastal Carolina
2. Rice
3. St. Marys (CA)
3. Southeastern Louisiana
4. Navy
4. Utah Valley

Slot Three
1. Texas Tech
1. Virginia
2. Dallas Baptist
2. Bryant
3. New Mexico
3. East Carolina
4. Fairfield
4. William & Mary

Slot Four
1. TCU
1. Texas A&M
2. Arizona St
2. Minnesota
3. Gonzaga
3. Wake Forest
4. Oral Roberts
4. Binghamton

Slot Five
1. Louisville
1. Vanderbilt
2. Ohio St
2. UC Santa Barbara
3. Wright St
3. Washington
4. Western Michigan
4. Xavier

Slot Six
1. South Carolina
1. Clemson
2. UNC Wilmington
2. Oklahoma St
3. Duke
3. Nebraska
4. Rhode Island
4. Western Carolina

Slot Seven
1. Mississippi St
1. Louisiana-Lafayette
2. Cal St Fullerton
2. Arizona
3. Louisiana Tech
3. Sam Houston St
4. Southeast Missouri St
4. Princeton

Slot Eight
1. Mississippi
1. Miami (FL)
2. Tulane
2. Florida Atlantic
3. Boston College
3. Long Beach St
4. Utah
4. Stetson

All you have to do is pick one team from each slot for a total of eight teams. In the past, for every team that you picked that made it into the College World Series, you got one point. I mixed it up a bit two years ago and I am going to stick with that format. Now, any team you pick that makes it to Omaha gets as many points as their seed. So, if you make the safe bet and pick the one seed correctly, you get one point. But, if you pick the dark horse four seed and get lucky, you get four points for that pick. If you don't feel like participating right now, that's fine. You can enter the second phase without participating in the first, but you might have some ground to make up.

This blog has been in the doldrums of late since I am lucky to post a card twice a week. So, to get a few extra contestants in the contest, you can get one bonus point just by pimping this contest on your blog. Just leave a link in the comments and I will chalk you up a point.

Here is the format that your entry (comment) should look like

1. Southern Miss
2. Rice
3. Dallas Baptist
4. Minnesota
5. Louisville
6. Nebraska
7. Cal St Fullerton
8. Utah
Link to your blog (which can be left on a separate comment, but must be submitted by Thursday night)

Keep in mind that the main portion of this contest is filling out a College World Series bracket when that field is determined in a couple of weeks. Every year, there are a couple of people that enter the first phase of the contest that never end up filling out a bracket. Those people have yet to win this contest.

Normally, the prizes for this contest are whichever autographs I am able to snag in Omaha for the opening weekend. This year, my son has a tournament that weekend and we are not going to be able to make it up there until Monday. So, I am going to miss out on getting those autographs for prizes. Luckily, I have a little stockpile from previous CWS trips, so here is what the prizes are going to be.

Those are 8x10s signed by Jim Palmer, Dennis Eckersly, Curt Schilling, and Frank Thomas and an unsigned 2015 CWS ball. Some of you may have won one of the 8x10s in previous years, but there should be something new there for all of the past winners.

If you have any questions, ask in the comments or email me at zman40 at hotmail dot com. The deadline to enter the first phase of this contest is 11:00 am (central) Friday and the link must be posted twelve hours prior to that. Good luck and thanks for playing.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

1958 Topps, Hal Naragon

#22 Hal Naragon

Here is a card of Hal Naragon that was also signed through the mail in 2013. I sent this card to him in February and I had it back about five weeks later.

Hal played in the Majors for ten seasons with the Indians and Senators/Twins. Like the previous three cards I posted, that all happened to be catchers, he too was a back-up throughout his career. The one season he saw some significant playing time was 1959, the year he got traded to Washington. That season, he played in 14 games for Cleveland before getting into 71 games as a Senator. The most games he played in before or after that was 57, a feat that he accomplished three times.

For his career, Hal was a .266 hitter that had 6 home runs and 87 RBI. None of his seasons really stand out as being a career year, but he did have career-highs in homers and average in 1956 when he had 3 jacks and 18 RBI. That was one season after hitting .323.

Hal did have the privilege of playing in one World Series. It was with the Indians in 1954 and he got into one game as a defensive replacement that did not get to hit. Unfortunately, the Tribe was swept by the Giants in the Series.

When Hal was dealt to the Senators, he was traded for Ed Fitz Gerald. I posted a card of Ed earlier this week.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

1958 Topps, Hank Foiles

#4 Hank Foiles

Next up is this '58 Topps Hank Foiles card that I got signed in 2013. I sent this card to Hank in April and I had it back about three weeks later. If I remember right, he also sent me card about his book. I cannot find that card, but he wrote a note on the back of the letter I sent him that briefly tells me about his book, "A Pirate's Journey", that can be purchased from his website.

That seems like a fitting name for his book considering that he played for eight Major League teams during his eleven year career. He made his debut with the Reds before being dealt to the Indians after five games. He played with them for parts of three seasons before moving on to Pittsburgh. He had his longest tenure with any one team with them as he was a Pirate for three and a half seasons. Then he had a whirlwind 1960 season where he played for the A's, Indians, and Tigers before settling down with the Orioles in '61. He was back in Cincinnati in 1962 and for one game in '63 before getting released and ending up an Angel through the '64 season. That was quite a journey.

Through all of that, Hank was a .243 hitter with 46 home runs and 166 RBI. His best season came with the Bucs in 1957. That season, he hit .270 and had career-highs in homers (9) and RBI (36). He was rewarded for that fine season by being selected to the National League All Star team. He represented his team well in the Mid-Summer Classic by getting a single in his lone at-bat. He came around to score, as well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

1957 Topps, Pete Daley

#388 Pete Daley

Here is the last 1957 Topps card that I got signed through the mail in 2013. I sent this card to Pete in February of that year and had it back just over a month later.

Pete played in the big leagues for just seven seasons, seeing time with the Red Sox, A's, and Senators. He spent five of those seven seasons in Boston and was mainly their back-up catcher behind Sammy White. Pete was a .239 career hitter who finished with 18 home runs and 120 RBI.

Pete's best season was with the Sox in 1956. That year, he played in just 59 games. But, he had career-highs in average (.267), doubles (11), homers (5), and RBI (29). Pete would get more at-bats in three other seasons, but could never outdo the numbers he put up in '56.

I have never asked for an in-person autograph to be done in ballpoint pen. I always want it done with a Sharpie. But seeing a signature like this makes me consider rethinking my practice when it comes to older cards. I love the way the pen came out on this card. The look fits the time period better than any Sharpie would.

Monday, May 23, 2016

1957 Topps, Ed Fitz Gerald

#367 Ed Fitz Gerald

Next up is the card that Ed Fitz Gerald signed for me through the mail in 2013. I sent this card to him in February and I had it back five days later. It was quite the turnaround. This one and the previous card both arrived in my mailbox on the same day, which happened to be the day before my birthday. So, they were like early birthday presents to myself. But then again, anytime you get a TTM in the mail is like an early birthday present to yourself.

Ed spent a dozen years in the Majors with the Pirates, Senators, and Indians. He was mainly a backup catcher his entire career as he only started a majority of his team's games once. That was with the Sens in 1954. That was his first full season in Washington and he responded with a .289 average, 5 triples, 4 homers, and 40 RBI. That was pretty good for a .260 career hitter.

Ed's career started in the late '40s and he has some good looking early cards that would be cool to get signed. His '49 Bowman stands out as does his fantastic looking '52 Bowman. However, since I got this card signed three years ago, I have no idea if Ed is still signing through the mail. He is 92 years old.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

1957 Topps, Johnny Groth

#360 Johnny Groth

Here is the next vintage card pick-up from the bi-monthly card show in Wichita. I picked up this card for about a buck and sent it to Johnny the first chance I had. Johnny charges five dollars to sign through the mail and I have no problem sending an old-timer a few bucks to help them out. It is not like those guys made the type of money today's players do. Johnny had this card back to me in less than two weeks.

Johnny played in the Majors for parts of fifteen seasons with the Tigers, Browns, White Sox, Senators, and A's. He was originally signed as a twenty year old by the Tigers and made his Major League debut with them that same season. He would go on to spend about eleven years in Detroit, seven to start his career and three and a half to finish it.

Johnny never made an All Star team and he never played in the playoffs. But, he hit .279 for his career with 60 home runs and 486 RBI. His best season came with the Tigers in 1950 when he had career-highs in average (.306), doubles (30), home runs (12), runs (95), and RBI (85).

Johnny's career started in 1946, so there are some nice early cards of him available such as his 1950 Bowman and 1951 Topps Blue Back. I am not sure if the nearly ninety year old gentleman still signs through the mail or not since I got this one signed three years ago. But, if he does, there are some cool cards of him out there that would be fun to get signed. I am happy with a signed Kansas City A's card, but a '51 Topps would be a nice addition to my collection.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1956 Topps, Jack Crimian

#319 Jack Crimian

Next up is this card that I got signed by Jack Crimian through the mail. I sent this card to Jack at the end of 2012 and I had it back about a week later.

Jack pitched professionally for fifteen seasons, but only appeared in Major League games during four seasons. He spent parts of two seasons with the Cardinals, a full year with the A's, and then a partial year with the Tigers. He appeared in 74 games over those four seasons and 56 of them came with the A's in 1956. He was almost exclusively used as a reliever during his time in the big leagues and he went 5-9 with 4 saves and a 6.36 ERA.

His only decent season was his year with the A's. The A's were horrible that year, finishing 52-102, and I guess that is why they kept Jack up all season. He made 7 starts that season and finished with a 4-8 record with 3 saves and a 5.51 ERA.

I tend to be drawn to Kansas City A's cards to get signed through the mail. I probably have at least a dozen of them coming up over the next couple of months of posts.

In 1953, Jack was traded by the Cardinals to the Reds for Alex Grammas, the person of interest in my previous post.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

1956 Topps, Alex Grammas

#37 Alex Grammas

At the end of 2012, I started attending the bi-monthly card show held by Rock's Dugout in Wichita. There was one dealer there that always had a nice assortment of singles from the mid '50s through the early '70s. Back then, I would spend 95% of my time at the show looking through his stuff in search of cards of guys that signed through the mail. The guy would always cut me a good deal which brought me back every time. Because of him, I have this nice assortment of random TTMs that I am posting now.

This one features the former Cardinal, Red, and Cub, Alex Grammas. Alex was the prototypical slick-fielding/light-hitting shortstop that was the norm back in the day. He was a .247 career hitter with just 12 home runs and 163 RBI over his ten year career. His best season was probably with the Cardinals in 1959. That year, he had a career-high 368 at-bats and responded with a .269 average with 3 dingers and a career-high 30 RBI.

I sent this card to Alex in February of 2013 and I had it back one week later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

1955 Topps, Monte Irvin

#100 Monte Irvin

Next up is Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin. I think I originally bought this card for All Star Fanfest in 2012 when Monte and Ernie Banks were on the initial list of players to attend. Both of them ended up not making it to the event, but luckily, Monte was a great TTM signer. He charged ten dollars to sign a card and that seemed like a bargain to me. So, I sent this card to him at the end of November that year and I had it back two weeks later.

Sadly, Monte passed away earlier this year. He was about a month shy of his 97th birthday. I thought about posting this card that day, but there were so many tributes to him on the card blogs that I did not even want to try to compete with all of them. So here it is now, right where it belongs on this blog.

Monte's career in the Major Leagues spanned just eight seasons as some of the better years of his life were spent in the Negro Leagues. Though he only made one All Star team, he had two monster seasons with the Giants. The first one came in 1951 when he hit .312 with 24 home runs and 121 RBI. The second one came two years later when he hit .329 with 21 dingers and 97 RBI.

He finished his career a .293 Major League hitter with 99 home runs and 443 RBI. He won one World Series and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Monday, May 9, 2016

1952 Topps, Del Crandall

#162 Del Crandall

If I am going to show off some cards from the 1950s, what better way is there to start than by showing off a '52 Topps card? This is only the second card from the set that I have got signed and, just like the first one, I got it signed through the mail. TTM successes are going to be the theme of this blog for some time to come. The first '52 Topps card I got signed was by Eddie Joost and that card can be seen here.

The last time I was posting some vintage TTM successes on here, I posted a Colt 45s card and declared that I had a signed card of every team to ever play from 1952 on up. And, not only did I have every team, I also had a card from every city that the teams played in since 1952. Then it dawned on me. I had forgotten about the Boston Braves. I had a Milwaukee Braves card signed, but not Boston. I guess I just assumed they were in Milwaukee by 1952. Once I had figured out I was missing a team, I quickly picked up this card from COMC for a few bucks. This card would be in decent shape if it wasn't for the staple holes running down the middle of the card. Apparently this card's original owner was not a Del Crandall fan.

I sent this card to Del in November of 2012 and I had it back three weeks later. Del charges five dollars to sign through the mail and it was well worth it to get this card signed.

Del had a long and productive Major League career. He played for sixteen seasons with the Braves, Giants, Pirates, and Indians, spending the majority of the time with the Braves. As a Brave, he played in two World Series and was an eight-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove catcher. Del was a .254 career hitter with 179 home runs. He had three 20 home runs seasons and caught three no-hitters

I am kind of surprised that Topps even made this card of Del in 1952. He missed all of the '51 season serving in the military. The card notes Del's service on the back and even adds that he "does not expect to be discharged in time to play this year", which proved to be true.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

2007 Upper Deck USA Baseball, Mike Moustakas

#38 Mike Moustakas

Finally, 359 days after posting my first card from 2007, I am ready to post the last one. By my quick count, I posted 143 signed cards from sets made in 2007. That averages out to one post every two and a half days. That is a good posting rate for me these days. That rate was better than it would have been thanks to the birth of my son and some daily posting while on paternity leave.

I got this card signed in Wilmington, Delaware while Mike was playing for the Blue Rocks in 2009. It was a crappy day for baseball as it had been raining off and on for a couple of days. While I was there 'graphing before the game, the weather could not decide what it wanted to do. It was almost always at least misting with occasional bouts of rain thrown in. I got Mike to sign for me while it was just misting and the cards came out OK. There is one light spot on the first "M" of his signature where the Sharpie hit a tiny drop of water, but it is barely noticeable.

Mike signed two cards for me that day. The first one can be seen here.

Since I am finished up with my 2007 cards, it is time to rewind and show off older cards that I got signed over the past couple of years. I am really looking forward to that as I have about twenty cards from the '50s to post. At the rate I post, it will probably be sometime next year by the time I get around to posting my 2008 cards.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces, Alex Gordon

#65 Alex Gordon

We go from the worst set Upper Deck might have made in 2007 into what is arguably their best set from that year. Here is a glimpse at their 2007 Masterpieces set. If you have never seen cards from this set, they are pretty unique. Not only are the cards on unglossed card stock similar to what was used for the Goudey set. But, they also have a pock-marked texture on the front of the cards. The reason or purpose of that texture is unknown to me, but it is still a good-looking set. Luckily, the funny texture does not ruin the signature.

This is the fourth card from 2007 that I have shown of Alex Gordon. The first one can be seen here, the second one here, and the third one here. That first card was from the '07 Bowman set and it was posted nearly a year ago. I cannot believe that it has taken me a whole year to post my 2007 cards.

Those first three cards I posted of Alex were some of the first autographs that I ever got from him. They were all signed in 2008 or 2009. This one here might be the most recent card that he has signed for me. I got this one signed at Royals Fanfest in 2013. Since that time, it has gotten a little harder to get cards signed by Royals players, especially the big name ones.

So far this season, Alex, like most of the Royals, is off to a slow start. Through 27 games, he is hitting a paltry .211 with just 2 dingers and 5 RBI. Hopefully the team will be able to get their bats going soon or it may be a long season.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

2007 Upper Deck Future Stars, Jeff Baker

#RD-BA Jeff Baker

Here is a card that I got signed by Jeff Baker at a Royals game in 2013. Jeff was playing with the Rangers at the time and I was able to get three cards signed by him during batting practice. That happened to be one of the rare Saturday games that I have been able to make it to and, like most games I attend with my family, I was running a little behind schedule. Because of that, I was not able to get my primo spot by the visitor's dugout. I was close, but a row back from where I needed to be. Luckily, the guy in front of me was really helpful and he was passing my cards up to the guys signing to help me out.

This was one of the hard to pull inserts out of the 2007 Future Stars set. Like I said in the last post, I bought two blasters of these and I think I got two inserts total. The funny thing is that the inserts are the only cards that have anything to do with future stars. When I bought these cards, I was basically expecting an Upper Deck version of Topps '52. That was not the case at all.

Regardless, I was pleased with how this card came out looking signed. It is severely lacking color, so the blue signature helps out with that. It is hard to see in the scan, but this card is numbered 995/999.