Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres, Josh Anderson

#81 Josh Anderson

Here is another card that I got signed at the Metrodome last season. Josh was with the Royals at the time and I was able to get this card signed during batting practice. Josh was heading back to the outfield after batting when I asked him to sign. He started to say something over his shoulder as he ran out on the field, but then stopped and came over and signed all three cards for me before heading back out there. For a second, I thought I was going to get the same response that I got from Mitch Maier. But, that was not the case.

Josh was purchased by the Royals just prior to the deadline last year and he spent the rest of the season basically trying out for the Royals. His tryout didn't go as well as everyone had hoped and he got released after the season was over.

This seasons hasn't gone any better for Josh. After being released by the Royals, he was signed by the Reds. He went to Spring Training with them and started out the season on their AAA club. After 17 games there, he got released. He was then picked up by the Brewers and assigned to their AAA team. Again, he got released after 17 games. He was then signed by the Braves and attached to their AAA team. He made it 19 games with them before getting released. As far as I can tell right now, Josh Anderson is a free agent.

Come back tomorrow to learn about my experience of baseball in Mexico.

Monday, August 30, 2010

2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres, Mitch Maier

#50 Mitch Maier

Here is a card that I got signed at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome last October. I asked Mitch to sign when he came in from batting practice and he told me that he would get me later. Usually, that means that you are out of luck, but that was not the case for Mitch. Right before the game started, Mitch was out on the field stretching and warming up. When he was done, he started to head back to the dugout, and, after a few yells his way, he finally heard me and came over to sign, just like he said he would.

Everyone always heard about how loud the Metrodome got. But, if you have never been there, it is hard to really appreciate the noisiness of the place. I found that out while I was trying to get Mitch to sign right before the game started. There was really nothing going on at that point, yet Mitch could barely hear me call to him. Everyone sitting in their seats talking to the people beside them was enough of a disturbance to prevent Mitch from hearing me call for him from twenty feet away.

When Mitch was signing for me, I asked him how he dealt with the noise at the Metrodome and Mitch played it off like it was nothing. He told me that it was loud everywhere and they just had to use hand signals to communicate in the outfield. Yeah, right.

You'll notice that Mitch is listed as a catcher on this card. That is because he was a catcher at the University of Toledo when the Royals drafted him 30th overall in the 2003 draft. The Royals had him catch in Rookie ball that year, but they moved him to third base the following year before moving him to the outfield for good in 2005.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres, Justin James

#40 Justin James

Here is a card that I got signed at the Wichita Wingnuts preseason game I went to. Justin was playing with the Kansas City T-Bones at the time. I got lucky when I got this card signed since I didn't even know what number Justing was. He came out of the clubhouse in a Blue Jays pullover, so I called out his name and he looked over and I asked him for his autograph. But, if it wasn't for the Jays pullover, I might not have got this card signed.

Justin was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2003 draft. By 2007, he was in AAA. After that season, the Jays traded him to the Reds to complete an earlier deal. He only pitched in 22 games in 2008 and he must have had some injuries since he threw in rookie, high-A, and AA. After that, he got released and he found himself in the Northern League last season with the T-Bones.

He must have had a lights-out spring with the T-Bones because the Oakland A's signed him to a minor league deal before the Northern League's season began. He has been doing really well in the A's organization. He posted a 2.29 ERA in 12 AA outings before being called up to AAA. With the Sacramento River Cats, he has a 1.50 ERA through 15 appearances while racking up four saves. He is even averaging 13 strikeouts per nine innings with them. That's not too bad for a former indy leaguer. I hope that he can keep it up and find himself on a Major League roster one day. It would be fun to see him pitch on TV and then tell everyone that I got his autograph at a Wingnut game.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2003 Upper Deck, Brandon Duckworth

#476 Brandon Duckworth

Here is another card that I got signed by Brandon Duckworth. The card I posted a couple of days ago was the lone Brandon Duckworth card that I had until I pulled this one out of a re-pack box. After I pulled this card, I was able to get it signed by the Royals parking lot in August of 2008.

That summer, the Royals were in the middle of the their renovation with Kauffman Stadium. One of the many changes that they had included was the players parking lot. It used to be that the players parked where ever they wanted in the small lot behind home plate. But with all of the constuction going on with Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadium, the Royals players got their own parking lot that was fenced in. They would park in there and walk over to an outhouse-looking building that led them to the underground tunnel to the ballpark. All of us autograph seekers ended up by the stairwell building to get autographs.

On the particular day that I got this card signed, Brandon decided that he didn't want to park in the players lot. Instead, he parked right outside of it where we were all trying to get autographs. He got out of his truck talking on his cell phone and that usually means that he wasn't going to sign. The cell phone trick is a great way for the players to ignore you while not being a complete dick about it. I've seen rookies hop out of their car, pull out their phone and put it to their ear and not say a single word while they walk to the tunnel. But that wasn't the case for Brandon. He got out of his truck and just stood there talking on his phone. Eventually, he had a "crowd" of about three of us just hovering around him, waiting for him to get off of the phone. Without missing a beat, he held the phone to his ear with his shoulder and he motioned for us to come to him and he then signed for all of us. It was pretty cool for him to do that since most players use a phone as an excuse for not signing.

Since I posted a card of Brandon earlier in the week, I may post another card tonight after I get off of work.

2003 Upper Deck, Raul Gonzalez

#7 Raul Gonzalez

I was supposed to post another Brandon Duckworth card tonight, but I decided to go against the grain and show this card instead. Here is a card that I got signed about six hours ago at a Wichita Wingnuts game. Raul is one of the newest member of the Nuts and I was able to get him to sign this card for me prior to the game.

Raul has been around the game for quite some time. He was originally drafted by the Royals in 1990 and he made his pro debut in 1991. He played in the Royals system through 1998, but he never advanced above AA. He then started to bounce around a bit, but in 2000, he got his first call-up with the Cubs. He only got into 3 games, but it was a start. In '01, he got called up by the Reds and he got into 11 games. He got called up by the Reds again in '02 and that time he got into 10 games before being dealt to the Mets. He got into 30 games with them over the remainder of the season. Then, in 2003, Raul got into 107 games as a Met. He only had 246 at-bats, but it was the most action that he was ever going to see at the big league level. After that, it was 11 games in 2004 with the Indians and that was the last of his Major League service time. For his Major League career, Raul was a .233 hitter that racked up 5 home runs. One of his home runs was off of Roy Oswalt, though.

Since then, Raul has played in about every league out there. He played in the Pacific Coast League, the International League, the Mexican League, the Atlantic League, and now the American Association. The Nuts picked him up just earlier this month after the Mexican League's season ended.

I didn't realize this until I started to write this post, but Raul now plays his home games at Wichita's Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. That was Raul's home ballpark from 1995-1998 while he was a member of the Royals AA team, the Wichita Wranglers. I went to my first minor league game in 1997 at Lawrence-Dumont, and, since Raul played in 129 games for the Wranglers that year, there is a good chance that I got to see him play that night. And what team were the Wranglers playing that night? It was the El Paso Diablos, the same team the Wichita played tonight. Minor league baseball is a crazy enterprise.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2003 Upper Deck, Runelvys Hernandez

#14 Runelvys Hernandez

I ask a ton of players for autographs and I get rejected more often than not. It's just a part of the game and I usually just leave it at that. But that was not the case on the night I got an autograph from Runelvys Hernandez. On that night, I practically had to beg.

Runelvys was the starting pitcher for the Round Rock Express at the lone Express game I attended in 2008. I asked him to sign for me before he took the field and he told me that he had to get ready (he was the starting pitcher that night), but he would sign for me after the game. Well, Elvis didn't stick around for the whole game. He decided to head to the clubhouse during the ejection marathon that ensued in the seventh inning. Luckily, I saw him making his way to the clubhouse in left field and I intercepted him on the concourse and asked for his autograph again.

This time, he told me that he would get me tomorrow. I told him that he already told me that he would get me after the game and that I wouldn't be around tomorrow. So, he then told me that he was tired. After that, I told him that the game he pitched in the Royals home opener in 2002 against the White Sox was probably the best pitching performance that I had ever seen and he finally broke down and signed all three cards for me.

So, it took a bit of begging with a little bit of flattery to get this card signed.

Amazingly, this signature looks the best out of the three.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2003 Ultra, Brandon Duckworth

#150 Brandon Duckworth

Here is a card that I got signed at the first Royals Fanfest in the winter of 2008. Brandon pitched in 26 games for the Royals in '07 and I guess that they figured he would figure into their plans in '08, as well. It turns out that that was not the case as he only appeared in seven games and was not invited back to Fanfest the following year.

Brandon has spent parts of eight seasons in the Majors with the Phillies, Astros, and Royals. He got most of his playing time in the early part of his career as a starter for the Phillies. In 2002, Brandon had a career high in appearances with 30 (29 were starts) and that is the only season in his career that he pitched more than 100 innings in the Majors. He finished that season 8-9 with a 5.41 ERA and 167 strikeouts (also a career high).

Brandon is currently back in the Phillies system and he was pitching for their AAA team before hitting the disabled list earlier this month. He has not pitched in the Majors since 2008.

At the time of that first Fanfest, this was the only Brandon Duckworth card that I had to get signed and I thought that it was an Upper Deck card for the longest time. It just didn't look like what I thought an Ultra card should look like.

Monday, August 23, 2010

2003 Topps Total, Matt DeMarco

#958 Matt DeMarco

Here is the final 2003 Topps Total card that I have to show for now. This one features former Marlins and Cardinals farmhand, Matt DeMarco. This card was given to me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff.

Matt was drafted by the Marlins out of high school in the eleventh round of the 1998 draft. He made his professional debut the following year with the GCL Marlins and he hit .218 in 46 games. He must have got injured during the season or during the off-season because he only played in 30 games in 2000.

But, he came back healthy in 2001 and he spent the season playing A ball before getting moved up to high A for the '02 and '03 seasons. Finally, after 18 games of high A ball in '04, Matt finally made it up to AA. He hit .273 at the AA level that season, but it wasn't meant to be. The following season, Matt played with four different teams in three leagues with two different organizations.

In 2006, it was off to the Atlantic League and the Camden Riversharks. He spent two seasons with them, and hit a career high .317 in 2007, before calling it quits.

With the Riversharks in 2006, Matt was part of he longest game in Atlantic League history. The game lasted eighteen innings and six hours and twenty minutes. Matt was one of three Camden fielders to pitch in the game that they eventually won.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2003 Topps Total, Kyle Snyder

#308 Kyle Snyder

Here is the second and final autograph that I got from Kyle Snyder at a 2004 Royals Caravan event here in town. When I posted the first card earlier in the year, I thought I only got one card signed. But, it turns out that that was not the case. Maybe I only felt like I got one card signed since you can hardly see the signature on this one.

Luckily, the Royals black uniform days are over and they didn't last too long. When they were first unveiled in 2002, I liked them. I liked the black and blue hat and the sleeveless road uniforms. But, the novelty quickly wore off and I'm pretty sure that the team stopped wearing black early in the 2006 season.

I pretty much hate any card that is a close-up of the player in a dark jersey. Unfortunately, in 2004, I only had two Kyle Snyder cards in my collection. So, it was either get this card signed and have two cards signed by him, or don't get it signed and just have the one. I would make the same choice every single time, though I would have it signed in blue just to add a little contrast.

I'm surprised how well this card turned out in the scan. When you look at it in person, you can't see any of the signature that is over the black parts of the jersey.

I mentioned in the last Snyder post that Kyle pitched for the Mets AAA team last season. Unless he is recovering from an injury, it would appear that Kyle's career is done. He hasn't pitched at all this season.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

2003 Topps Total, Jeremy Hill

#308 Jeremy Hill

In 2008, the All American Ballpark Tour made its first trip west of the Rockies and one of our destinations was Estadio Calimax in Tijuana, Mexico. That is where I got this card signed. Jeremy was playing for the visiting Acereros de Monclova, and with the help of a Monclova fan, I was able to get Jeremy to sign a couple of cards for me at the end of batting practice. He was nice and he seemed pleased to be talking to someone in English.

This is actually the second Jeremy Hill card that I have posted on here. I posted the first one in April and it was given to me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff. In that post, I mentioned that Jeremy was pitching for the Angels AAA club. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case since he is now on the voluntary retirement list.

I got to see Jeremy pitch twice in his career. I saw him pitch a third of an inning in Kansas City in 2002 and he gave up one hit with a walk and a strikeout without surrendering a run. The second time I saw him pitch was in Tijuana and he blew the save, but collected the win, while walking three and striking out two in an inning and a third of work. Again, he did not surrender a run (that was his).

I have one more Jeremy Hill card to post on here next week or so. That post is going to be more about baseball in Tijuana than about Jeremy Hill.

On a side note, I'm going to the Royals game tonight. It is a doubleheader, but for some strange reason, it is starting at 6:10. 6:10 is when they start most of their Saturday games and I can't believe that they didn't move the game time up to at least 4:10. Since I have to drive three hours to the ballpark (and three hours back), I doubt that I will be staying for the second game. I would like to be home well before 3:00 am. A doubleheader would have been nice, if it were starting at a decent time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

2003 Topps Total, Mike Crudale

#276 Mike Crudale

Here is a card that was sent to me by Paul, of Paul's Random Stuff, last December. It features former Cardinal and Brewer, Mike Crudale.

Mike pitched in the big leagues for parts of two seasons in 2002 and 2003. In that brief time-span, he threw 73.1 innings and posted an ERA of 2.09. I know that ERA isn't exactly the best reference point of how well a pitcher does, especially a reliever. But, it is what it is and I would think that there were some teams out there that would want a guy in their pen with a 2.09 career ERA.

That was not the case for Mike. In 2004, Mike pitched in the Giants and Pirates systems and spent a majority of the time at AA. In 2005, he was off to the Atlantic League and he would spend three years there before calling it quits. It's a crazy game these guys play.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2003 Topps Heritage, Taggert Bozied

#199 Taggert Bozied

Here is one of the few autographed Padre cards that was not given to me by Rod of Padrographs. I actually got this card signed myself in Round Rock, Texas in 2008 while Tagg was playing with the Albuquerque Isotopes. Round Rock is a great place for autographs because the clubhouses are in left field and the players have to cross the concourse to get to the field. I was able to get this card signed at that spot prior to the game.

Tagg was drafted by the Padres in 2001 out of the University of San Francisco. The Padres must have had some problems signing him because he played that season with his hometown independent club, the Souix Falls Canaries. But, the Padres signed him in time to play in 2002 and by 2003, he was in AAA. Unfortunately, AAA is where he would spend most of his career.

After 2005, Tagg has bounced around on a yearly basis. He has played AAA ball with the Mets, Cardinals, Marlins, and Pirates organizations. This year, he is with the Phillies and they currently have him assigned to their AA team. It seems weird that he is playing down at the AA level, but it is good to see that he is still trying to make it to the big leagues. I hope that it happens one day for him. But, if it doesn't, I wouldn't mind seeing him make a curtain call in Wichita as a Souix Falls Pheasant.

This card came out of the same pack as the last card I posted on here and you can see the crinkle in the top right corner that every card from the pack had.

I saw Tagg play twice in '08 and he went 2-7 with a double.

Below is a picture I took at Isotope Park in Albuequerque in '08. I was taking a picture of the unique incline in center field as Tagg happened to be out stretching prior to the game.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2003 Topps Heritage, Josh Hamilton

#124 Josh Hamilton

Here is a card that I got signed at a Rangers game in 2008. It was the first time that I tried to get autographs at Rangers Ballpark and I didn't know which gate to go through to get to a good spot. For some reason, I went in the left field gate and I couldn't have picked a better gate that day. As soon as I saw the field, I saw Josh signing autographs along the left field foul line. So, I made a beeline down there and I was able to get all three cards signed.

Of course Josh was quite friendly as he chatted with fans and took pictures with them. It is probably the only time that I have seen a player stop to pose for pictures. I would have took a picture with him, but I was rolling solo on that trip. The other fans all looked like they were having a great time and I didn't want to bother them with taking a picture for me. Maybe next time.

I bought one pack of '03 Topps Heritage and every single card in it had a crinkled top right corner.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2003 Topps All TIme Fan Favorites, Cory Snyder

#FFA-CN Cory Snyder

I graduated from college in 2003 and for some reason, I started to get back into cards that summer. I was amazed at all of the products that were out and I thought that the new cards that looked old were a cool concept. So, every time I went to Wal-Mart, I had to check out the card section and pick up a couple of packs. For some reason, I always grabbed a couple of packs of the All Time Fan Favorites.

After about a month of that, I noticed something. The box of All Time Fan Favorites was halfway empty and it seemed like I was the only person that was buying it. I also noticed that there was one autograph per box. After that, I started to buy the packs four or five at a time because I was determined to pull the autographed card. If you take the time to look at some of the autographs available in the set (there are at least 50 Hall of Famers), you'll quickly see why I wanted the autograph out of that box.

Obviously, I got the autograph from the box and it wasn't a Hall of Famer. But, it is an autograph and it is on-card, so I can't complain. I already had a TTM Snyder autograph from many years ago and it was fun adding a certified one to the mix as well.

The funny thing about this set is that if it came out today, I don't think that I would get into it like I did in 2003. But, that is just me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites, Jeff Reardon

#112 Jeff Reardon

Here is the third and final Jeff Reardon card that I have to post on here. This is actually the first one that I got and I got it through the mail in November of 2008. When I was choosing a card to send to him, it came down to this one and his '81 Donruss. Ultimately, I chose this one though I really do not know why. It might have been because '85 Topps was the first cards I had bought. The '81 Donruss card ended up getting misplaced for a couple of years. But thankfully, Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project, found me another '81 Donruss card to get signed. You can see that one here and an '88 Donruss card here.

I have one more card to post from this set before I post a couple of cards from the first pack of Topps Heritage I ever bought.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites, Ernie Harwell

#107 Ernie Harwell

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail in November of 2008. It was around that time the I discovered The Bench and I started to write to retired players. I utilized this set a bit to send cards to players that I didn't have cards of or if I had cards of them that I didn't want to get lost in the mail. Luckily, I came across this card in the set and an address to send it to.

Harwell, the 1981 Ford C. Frick Award winner, broadcast in the Major Leagues for the Dodgers, Giants, Orioles, Tigers, and Angels. He began his big league broadcasting career in 1948 after the Brooklyn Dodgers traded catcher Cliff Drapper to the Atlanta Crackers for Ernie Harwell. It was the only time a player had been traded for an announcer. By 1960, Ernie was with the Tigers. He remained with them until his retirement in 2002 (though he missed 1993 because of a labor dispute).

In May, Ernie passed away after losing an eight month battle with bile duct cancer. He was 92 years old.

If you ever get a chance to attend a Tigers game at Comerica Park, make sure you check out the Ernie Harwell statue when you enter the park. Here is Ernie greeting me at a game in 2007.

Friday, August 13, 2010

2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites, Vern Law

#102 Vern Law

This is the fourth and final Vern Law autograph that I have to post on here. You can see the first one here, the second one here, and the third one here. I got this card signed along with the first card. I thought that I read online that Vern charges eight dollars for TTM autographs. So I sent him a check for eight bucks and the Vern and Vance Law father and son card. When I got the card back, he wrote on the back of the envelope that the first autograph is free. So, I figured that he signed the father/son card and returned my check.

Nope. He kept the check and included this card. I think I would have preferred the check, but I really can't complain about it. I would have come out on top either way.

The funny thing about this card is that Vern signed it twice. He probably signed it in silver Sharpie first, wasn't happy with the results, and then signed it again in black.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites, Bobby Richardson

#58 Bobby Richardson

Here is another card that was signed through the mail from the '03 All Time Fan Favorites set. That is going to be the them here over the next couple of days. I sent this card to Bobby on the third of December in 2008 and I got it back two days before the new year. Considering that I sent it to him around Christmas, that seems like a decent turnaround.

Bobby is probably best remembered for being the only player to win the World Series MVP award while playing on the losing side. He did that with the Yankees in 1960. For that Series, he hit .367 (11-30) with five extra base hits (two doubles, two triples, and a grand slam) and 12 RBI. In the regular season that year, Bobby only had 26 RBI in 150 games. That just goes to show how impressive his 12 are in only 7 games.

Bobby's best season was probably 1962. That season, he had career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, and average. Plus, he won his third and final World Series that year.

This card is a remake of the 1962 Topps set (next years Topps Heritage design). I hope that there are some photos in the 2011 Topps Heritage set that have Yankees Stadium in the background. Heritage has gotten so boring the past few years with all of their stupid Spring Training shots. I hope that improves a bit next year, though I doubt that it will.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites, Boog Powell

#28 Boog Powell

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail last spring. I sent this card to Boog, care of his BBQ joint at Camden Yards, at the very beginning of the season and I got it back about three weeks later.

For some reason, this autograph looks a little different from some of the other cards I have seen signed by him. This one seems more squished together than most of them. Maybe he had a huge stack of cards to sign and little time to sign them or maybe it is ghost signed. I don't know.

Boog was a four-time All Star with the O's and he won the 1970 American League MVP, as well. I wonder if Topps issued this card as a 1970 card because of the monster year he put up in 1969 (career highs in average, hits, and RBI) or because of his 1970 MVP award-winning season. Maybe some of the other cards from the set that I will be posting will shed a little more light on that.

If you are ever at an Orioles game, make sure you take some cards of Boog with you. You can usually find him around his BBQ stand and I hear that he is really good about signing autographs. I was at an O's game last summer with Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project, and he pointed Boog out to me while he was just hanging out on Eutaw Street. Unfortunately, I did not have a card of him to sign. In fact, this might be the only Boog Powell card that I own. I know for sure that I do not have one from his playing days.

Monday, August 9, 2010

2003 Topps 205, Brian Burgamy

#138 Brian Burgamy

Like yesterday, here is another player that did not move too far up the organizational ladder. Here is Brian Burgamy, another guy from the long line of Padrographs given to me by Rod.

Brian was the Padres ninth round selection in the 2002 draft out of Wichita State (too bad I do not remember him playing there). Unfortunately, the highest Brian would get is to AA and he did not do so well there. In three stops at AA, Brian hit just .195 in 457 at-bats. But, Brian's career is still moving along as he is playing for the Atlantic League's Camden Riversharks. With them this season, Brian is batting .323 with 14 home runs. The 'Sharks still have 40 games left this season and Brian already has topped his former season-high home run total of 13. So, it's good to see that he is still going strong.

These 205 cards are kind of strange looking. I know that they are supposed to look like a vintage card, but, to me, they have too much of a middle eastern look for a baseball card. Plus, I do not like the fact that there is no position listed on the card at all (mentioning what position he played in college doesn't count).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

2003 Topps, Dustin Yount

#T208 Dustin Yount

Here is a card that I got signed by Robin Yount's son in 2008. Dustin signed this card in Souix City, Iowa at a Souix City Explorers American Association game. That was the first independent league game I ever went to and Dustin was playing for the Lincoln Saltdogs at the time. I got Dustin to sign it after the game was over and he looked long and hard at the card like he had never seen it before. I guess it might have been the first time that he saw the gold version.

Prior to that game, while the teams were warming up, there was a man walking around in the stands in some Brewers gear. He had on a Mitchell & Ness early '80s style Brewers jersey with Robin Yount's name and number on the back, as well as the Brewers old glove hat. Dustin must have appreciated the gesture because he sent the bat boy into to the stands to give the guy a baseball that he had signed. I thought that was pretty neat.

Unfortunately, Dustin's career has not come close to mirroring his father's. He was drafted out of high school by the Orioles in 2001. He slowly moved up the ranks, despite his lack of hitting. Hit didn't hit over .250 until his fourth season in the minors and that was after repeating low A. He struggled in his first stint at AA in 2006 and in 2007, he was reassigned to the O's high-A team. In 13 games there, he went 1-33 (.030) before the O's released him. He played with three different independent teams over the rest of 2007 and 2008. Last year, he did not play at all.

But, this year, the Dodgers gave him a shot and assigned him to AA. In 34 games there, he was hitting .229 before recently being sent down to the Dodgers high-A team. There, he is teammates with his younger cousin, Austin Yount.

I think that this is the first card I have posted on here of a player in shorts.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2003 Topps, Jason Dubois

#T129 Jason Dubois

Here is another card that I got signed in Des Moines, Iowa last year. Jason was playing for the Iowa Cubs and I was able to get him to sign this card before he left the ballpark for the night.

Jason has played in 86 Major League games with the Cubs and Indians, but he hasn't appeared in a game since 2005. Right now, he is a career .233 hitter that has 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 210 at-bats.

Since 2005, Jason has bounced around the AAA circuit. He has played in the Indians, Orioles, Nationals, and Mets systems, as well as two different stints with the Iowa Cubs. He is still playing for the I-Cubs and he is currently hitting .245 for them with 12 home runs and 30 RBI.

Friday, August 6, 2010

2003 Topps, Carlos Febles

#94 Carlos Febles

Here is the third and final Carlos Febles autograph that I have to share on the blog. This one, like the first one, was obtained in 2008 in Lancaster, California while Carlos was the batting coach for the Lancaster Jethawks. The second one was sent to me by Brian from The Play at the Plate.

I can't really think of anything to say about Carlos that I hadn't said in the first two posts, so instead, I am going to talk about 2003 Topps.

For whatever reason, I really like this set. The inset picture reminds me of the good ol' days of '83/'84 Topps. But the thing I probably like the best is the blue border. It is so unusual and unique that it just stands out and defines the design. I'm sure that there are some other blue-bordered cards out there ( '86 and'87 Fleer comes to mind, different shades though), I just haven't seen any this color.

But, in the grand scheme of things, the blue border could become this set's downfall. Just look at most of your '71 Topps to see what I mean. Once these cards start to get roughed-up a bit, you are going to start seeing white spots on the blue border. Luckily, today's cards are a little more durable than they were in '71, so it will be interesting to see how they (and just about every modern Bowman set) stand the test of time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

2003 Topps, Roberto Hernandez

#23 Roberto Hernandez

Last December, I got a random package in the mail from Arizona. It came from Uncle Moe, of My 2008 Topps Set Blog. In it were three random Royals autographs that he had sent me as a thank you for helping him out with a few cards for his blog. The best part about it was that the three cards were of three known Royals players (at least to Royals fans) that I did not have any signed cards from. How Moe could just randomly pull out three signed Royals cards from his collection of players I needed signed cards from is beyond me, but he obviously did a great job.

Ramon represents an interesting era of Royals baseball. In 2000, the Royals had the best offensive season in the history of the franchise. It was a fun team to watch and it would have been a legitimate contender if they had decent pitching. But they didn't. Instead, they had a merry-go-round bullpen that ended with the closer, Ricky Bottalico. Rickey finished the season 9-6 with 16 saves. How many teams have closers that have almost as many decisions as saves?

Luckily, the Royals GM, Allard Baird, came up with a solution during the offseason. He decided that the Royals needed a legitimate Major League closer and that was all that was standing between them and the playoffs. So, in a three team deal, he traded Johnny Damon for Roberto Hernandez, Angel Berroa, and A.J. Hinch. That was the beginning of the end of the great Royals offense and, except for a fluke 2003 season, the end of competitive Royals baseball.

But, Roberto did a decent job as Kansas City's closer. In his two seasons in that role, he recorded 54 saves. But with the loss of Damon and then Jermaine Dye at the 2001 trade deadline, the Royals offense had lost a lot of its punch and Roberto didn't get as many save situations as Baird thought he was going to get when he acquired him.

After the 2002 season, the Royals granted Roberto his free agency. He went on to pitch five more seasons in the Majors, but not as a closer. The former two-time All Star only recorded six saves after his Royals tenure. But, for his career, he amassed 326 saves, which ranks him at number twelve on the all-time list.

I believe Moe got this card signed during Spring Training. Thanks Moe!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2003 Playoff Prestige, Mitch Wylie

#198 Mitch Wylie

Here is the third and final Mitch Wylie card that I got signed at the lone Wichita Wingnuts game I attended last season. You can see the first post here and the second one here.

Mitch was an eighth round draft pick by the White Sox in the 1998 draft. He moved steadily up the ranks for the Sox until he reached AAA in 2002. He only pitched in six games that season before missing the rest of 2002 and all of 2003. He came back in 2004 at AAA and posted a 5.74 ERA in 28 games (all but one was in relief). But, it must not have been good enough for the Sox and Mitch split the next season between the Giants AAA team and Sioux City of the Northern League. He then pitched the 2006 season with the Norfolk Tides before sitting out the 2007 season. He came back in 2008 with the St. Paul Saints before hurting his arm again. He stayed on with the Saints as their pitching coach for the rest of the season before rejoining the starting rotation in 2009. Like I said in the last post, I have no idea what he is up to these days.

Speaking of Wingnuts games, I have been to four this year (counting the American Association All Star game) while I have only been to three Royals games. At my current job last summer, I had weekends off. But, they moved me up and I can only take one weekend a month off, which has greatly reduced my out of town road trips this summer. I get jealous when I read the posts on Paul's Random Stuff and I see that he has already attended more than thirty games. But, I guess I'm fortunate to have gone to as many as I have with my wacked-out work schedule. So far this summer, I have been to 15 games- 3 college (2 KSU, 1CWS), 3 Royals, 4 American Association games, 1 Northern League game, and 4 AA-level games. I guess I have gravitated more to the Wingnuts since I can head down there after work and still get my autograph fix in. While it is still fun and all, it just doesn't compare to getting 'graphs at Kauffman Stadium.

I bought this card from checkoutmycards.com just because it was a Playoff card and I did not have any Playoff cards signed. I just recently realized what an ugly card it is. I just don't see the point in having two versions of the same photo on the same card. What purpose does that serve?

Monday, August 2, 2010

2003 Fleer Tradition, Kevin Hooper

#U340 Kevin Hooper

Here is a card that I bought off of checkoutmycards.com recently and got signed this past Tuesday at the American Association All Star game in Wichita, Kansas. The managers and coaches for the game are the staffs from the two teams that played in the championship the previous year. The Wingnuts didn't play in the championship, but since they were the host team, I figured Kevin would be at the game and I was right.

Kevin was coaching the bases for most of the game. Prior to the game, he was the North's pitcher during the home run derby. He and the three Sioux Falls Pheasants that he was pitching to got off to a slow start and each batter only had one home run in the first round (five outs). But, after three rounds and three tie-breakers, Sioux Falls' Beau Torbert ending up winning the derby. So, I guess that makes Kevin Hooper the winning pitcher, as well. I got Kevin to sign this card for me shortly afterwards.

This card is a little different than the last three Fleer Tradition cards I have posted. For some reason, this card is glossy and numbered 10/100. I am assuming that these cards were just random inserts into packs, but I do not know for sure. Either way, after some prepping with baby powder, the signature came out just as good as the previous three.

So far, this is the second Kevin Hooper card that I have posted on here. You can see the first one here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2003 Fleer Tradition, Damian Rolls

#367 Damian Rolls

Here is the second of three cards that Damian signed for me at a Kansas City T-Bones game last year. You can see the first one here.

Damian is from Kansas City and I got this card signed after Damian got done hanging out with a group of people in one of the picnic areas at Community America Ballpark. While he was signing my cards, I asked him if he was starting that night and he started going on about starting second base that night and that he hadn't played second in over a month. That night also happened to be the night that Willie Wilson was the starting centerfielder for the T-Bones and I asked Damian his thoughts on that and he didn't sound too pleased. He said something to the effect that "management was getting on us to get into the playoffs and then they go and do this; so I really don't know what to think of it". I thought about bringing up the game we played against each other at the state tournament in 1994, but he has played so many game since then that I doubt he would remember. Overall, Damian seemed very personable and it was fun talking with him.

I really like this Fleer Tradition set. It is a good-looking set that is not glossy and is perfect for autographs. I wish I would have bought a few of these while they were out.