Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1988 Topps, Mike Mason

#87 Mike Mason

Here is the second of two cards that Mike Mason signed for me in Des Moines last month. Normally, I always take three cards of a player/coach with me with the hopes that they might sign all three. But, I only took two cards of Mike with me on that trip because that was I all I could find. I have most of my cards from the '80s and '90s neatly organized in 5000 count boxes. But I have one major flaw with my collection. Once a card comes out of those boxes for whatever reason, it rarely makes it back into them. That's why I could only find two cards of Mike this summer. I went to my first I-Cubs game two years ago and Mike was their pitching coach back then, too. I took three cards of him to that game and didn't get them signed. Those three cards had been missing ever since. I actually came across those cards a couple of weeks ago while searching for another long-lost card, but it was a little late by then. I guess that if there is one thing I need to improve upon with my collection, it is keeping up with my organization. This was not the first time that this situation had occurred.

Mike pitched in the Major Leagues for parts of seven seasons. He spent the majority of the time with the Rangers, but he did spend some time with the Cubs and Twins as well. He was mostly a starter and his best season probably came in 1984. He was only 9-13 that year, but his did post career bests in ERA (3.61) and strikeouts (113).

Mike has been the I-Cubs pitching coach since 2008.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

1988 Donruss, Robbie Wine

#508 Robbie Wine

I am completely understaffed at work and have been working 55+ hours a week the past two weeks. So, if you have been wondering where I have gone, that's where. The bad news is that there is no immediate end in site. But, I will be working less nights next week, so I hope to post a few more cards next week than I posted this week. The key word there is hope.

Anyway, here is a card of Robbie Wine that I got signed in March. Robbie is the head coach for the Penn State baseball team and I was able to get this card signed at a Wichita State game. Robbie was really nice and he signed all three cards that I had of him.

I got the cards signed on the 20th of March and I was surprised to learn that Penn State hadn't even played a home game yet. By that time, the Shockers had hosted eight home games and six of them were held in February. Now, hosting outdoor baseball in Kansas in February is somewhat questionable since the temperatures barely reach the 40s, but they somehow pulled it off. It just seems strange to me when northern and eastern colleges travel to Kansas for their spring break games.

The one year I played JUCO baseball in southern Kansas, we went down to Texas on spring break to get games in. This past year, I had at least four NAIA schools come through my store that were playing the local Kansas schools for their spring break. That just seems so weird to me. It might have something to do with the economy and gas prices, but is still seems odd. I just never envisioned Kansas as an ideal spring break destination. But if you play baseball for Iowa Wesleyan, apparently Kansas is the place to be in March.

Robbie is the son of former player/manager Bobby Wine. I recently traded for a card of Bobby on the Topps Diamond Giveaway site to send to him TTM for an autograph. If it wasn't for getting his son's autograph, I probably would have traded for someone else.

Monday, August 22, 2011

1988 CMC, Jim Eppard

#498 Jim Eppard

Here is a card that I was able to get signed last month at a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game. Jim was the hitting coach for the visiting Salt Lake Bees and I was able to get this card signed after the game.

That game, I decided to 'graph the home team side and I had my buddy 'graph the visiting team side. My friend doesn't collect cards or autographs, so I basically just threw him to the fire. He had a little bit of practice the night before at an American Association game, but that is nothing like 'graphing a AAA game where seventy-five percent of the players have cards made of them. But, my buddy did a surprisingly good job and I think that he got more autographs at the game than I did. And, even though he doesn't collect cards, he has started a small autograph collection for his son with some of the doubles that he got signed for me on that trip. His son, who is only four, absolutely loved the autographs. Hopefully I have created a new autograph collector.

Unfortunately, my buddy missed all of the Bees coaches. Since none of them had much for Major League cards, I was lucky enough to find some minor league cards of them on checkoutmycards.com. I've noticed that there has been much more minor league cards on there recently and most of them cost less than a dollar. So, I picked some up on there and I was not leaving that park without a few of them signed. Even though the Bees lost in ten innings, I was still able to get cards signed by two of their three coaches. The manager was the only one that wasn't willing to sign.

Jim is playing for the Edmonton Trappers in this card. At that time, they were the Angels AAA team. Since then, though, the Trappers have moved to Texas where they are now known as the Round Rock Express. Pro ball is still being played in Edmonton, though, but it is in the form of the North American League's Edmonton Capitals.

This is the first card from this set that I have got signed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

1987 Topps, Spike Owen

#591 Spike Owen

Here is the second and final Spike Owen card that I was able to get signed in Omaha last month. Spike is a coach for the Round Rock Express and I got this card signed prior to a game against the Storm Chasers.

Spike played in the Majors for thirteen seasons and he played for five teams- the Mariners, Red Sox, Expos, Yankees, and Angels. He never made an All Star team, but he did start all seven games of the 1986 World Series where he hit .300 and played errorless shortstop. He hit .246 for his career and he hit 46 home runs, including a season-best 7 with the Expos in 1992.

I don't know what it is about this card, but the signature sure does stand out.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1987 Donruss, Mike Mason

#284 Mike Mason

Here is a card that I got signed in Des Moines last month. Mike is the pitching coach for the Iowa Cubs and I was able to get this card signed prior to a game against the Nashville Sounds.

Mike spent most of his pre-game time talking with that nights starter, Casey Coleman. When I asked him to sign for me, he just held out his finger like he was telling me to wait a minute. He then continued talking to Casey for another five minutes or so. When they were done talking, Mike started to make his way to the stands to sign and by that time, there was a bunch of kids around asking for his autograph. But, he came straight to me and signed my two cards before moving over and signing for the kids. I thought that was pretty cool.

As for his pre-game pep talk to Casey Coleman, I hope that they were talking about batting. Casey lasted seven innings, but he surrendered six runs. At the plate, though, he was 2-3 with a triple and two RBI. I'm not sure if I had ever seen a pitcher hit a triple before that night.

Mike has got to have the two craziest "M's" that I have ever seen in a signature. I really do not know what to make of them. If you click on the link at the top of the post, you'll be redirected to Mike's Baseball Almanac page. They have an autograph of him there that must have been obtained a few years ago becuase the signature is similar, but the "M's" are completely different.

Friday, August 19, 2011

1986 Topps, Jerry Mumphrey

#76T Jerry Mumphrey

Here is the third and final card that Jerry signed for me TTM this past winter. I sent Jerry his '78 Topps card, his '81 Donruss card, and this one. I sent the '78 just because I had unlocked it in the Topps Million Card giveaway and the '81 because I like the set. I sent this one, though, for a little bit different reason.

When I posted the '85 Fleer Update card of Gary Lavelle, I talked about how I got an incomplete complete set out of a stocking that my buddy gave me for Christmas. When I saw the set in there, I asked him where he got it and if they still had any left. He said that they did and that they were on clearance, too. So, a couple of days later, I went over to the hardware store and bought four more stockings. One had the '86 Topps Update set(minus Bo, Barry, Bobby, and Wally Joyner), one had the '88 Donruss Rookies set, one had an actual sealed and unopened set of '90 Fleer Update, and the last had a '91 Score Rookie/Traded set.

Since the '86 Topps set was not complete, I had no problem with sending this card out with the other two. The funny thing is that this one actually got damaged on the trip home while the other two cards came out unscathed. It's funny how things work out like that.

Jerry sure does have an interesting "J". I would say that it looks more like a "Z" than a "J", but what do I know?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

1986 Topps, Bret Saberhagen

#720 Bret Saberhagen

Here is the second Bret Saberhagan card that I got signed at my local Menards grand opening in May. If you haven't read about how great a show Meanrds does for their grand openings, just scroll down a few posts to the previous Saberhagen post and check it out. They seem to go all-out for them.

I have three more Saberhagen cards to post after this one and I am short on time, so I am going to keep this one short. But, I will say this. For some reason, I have always liked the '86 Topps All Star cards. They are similar to the base set, but are clearly different. There is no black on the border and these cards tend to look a little better than the base cards after twenty-five years of wear and tear.

I'm real OCD when it comes to my autographed cards and I like to store them in binders by year, brand, and card number (just like I post them on here). It just happened to turn out that this card sits next to my John Tudor All Star card from the same set. For those of you that don't remember or weren't around then, the Royals and Cardinals squared off in the '85 World Series and Tudor and Saberhagen were the number one starters for their respective teams. Every time I flip my binder to that page and I notice those two cards, I always chuckle to myself and mumble something to the effect of "suck it Cardinals".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1986 Topps, Spike Owen

#248 Spike Owen

Here is another card that I got signed in Omaha last month. This one is signed by the Round Rock Express (I mistakenly called them the Oklahoma Redhawks yesterday) third base coach, Spike Owen. At least I think he is their third base coach. The Express website lists Spike as the interim manager. But since the actual Express manager was at that game, I doubt that the interim manager tag has much truth left in it. Spike may have been the interim manager at some point this season, but that is no longer the case. Maybe he was the hitting coach until Bobby Jones was needed by the Texas Rangers. In any case, the Express are now operating with four coaches and that is a bit unusual in the minors.

I will always remember Spike Owen from my youth. His cards were worthless and I knew nothing about him, but I'll be damned if he did not have the coolest name in baseball in the '80s. Being all grown up now, I just figured that Spike was his nickname. Luckily, that is not the case. His given name is Spike Dee Owen and I am not making that up. If he had been born in the late '80s/early '90s, one would think that he was named after Spike Lee. The funny thing is that Spike's older brother, Dave, was born three years before him. So, in a three year stint, their parents went from giving the kids ordinary names to naming one Spike Dee. It doesn't get any better than that. It should therefore come as no surprise that Dave went to Texas-Arlington while Spike attended Texas-Austin. That just goes to show a far a name can take you.

Before Spike signed this card, he informed everyone that he was in a hurry and couldn't sign everything. But, he still signed two of the three cards that I had of him and I could not have been happier. Thanks Spike Dee!

Monday, August 15, 2011

1986 Topps, Bob Jones

#142 Bob Jones

Here is a card that I was able to get signed in Omaha last month. Bobby is the manager of the the Rangers AAA affiliate, the Round Rock Express, and I was able to get this card signed prior to their contest against the Storm Chasers. Omaha has a nice set-up for the autograph seekers as both teams enter the field from left field. I didn't recognize Bobby when he walked by, but I was lucky enough that the Hawks had names on the back of their jerseys and I was able to back track to get him.

Bobby had a long and interesting career. He played pro ball until he was 37-years old. But, throughout that time, he only appeared in 314 Major League games. On the flip-side, Bobby played in 1417 minor league games with over 1000 of them at the AAA level. I guess Bobby was basically a AAAA player. He did great in AAA, but couldn't quite put it together in the Majors.

His career line in interesting to look at. He played in a little over 100 Major League games in the '70s and all of those came from 1974-'77 with 78 of the games coming in 1976. He then disappeared to the minors for a few seasons, but did play in ten games for the Rangers in 1981. He then spent all of '82 in AAA before splitting time between the Majors and minors for the next four years. For his career, Bobby is a .221 hitter with 20 home runs.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1985 Topps, Jeff Jones

#319 Jeff Jones

Here is the second and final card that I was able to get Jeff to sign for me at Target Field a few weeks ago. I love this card. The only thing that would have made it better is if it was signed Jeff "Cheech" Jones. That would have been classic.

Jeff pitched in the Majors for parts of five seasons and all of them were spent with Oakland. He pitched mainly out of the 'pen and his best season was probably his rookie campaign in 1980. That year, he appeared in 35 games and he had a 1-3 record with 5 saves and a 2.84 ERA. For his career, Jeff is 9-9 with 8 saves and a 3.95 ERA.

For those of you with inquiring minds- Yes. Jeff does in fact still rock the 'stache.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

1985 Fleer, Gary Lavelle

#U-69 Gary Lavelle

Here is another Gary Lavelle card that I got signed through the mail. I originally decided to write to Gary when I unlocked his '78 Topps card on the Topps Million Card Giveaway site. Since I do not own Gary's '81 Donruss card, all I planned to send him was the '78. But, for Christmas last year, my best friend gave me a sports card stocking that he found at a hardware store. In it was random packs of sports cards, a minor league team set, and a complete set of 1985 Fleer Update that was missing four cards. And in that set was this card. Since the set was missing four cards, it wasn't really complete and I had no trouble breaking into it and mailing this card out.

Gary played for the Jays for just a season and a half. In that time, he went 7-10 with 9 saves and a 3.77 ERA. He was released by the Jays in August of 1987 and the A's picked him up. With them, he was 0-0 with 0 saves and a 8.31 ERA in just 6 games. Gary retired after the season was up.

How many Blue Jay logos can you find on this card?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1985 Fleer, Bret Saberhagen

#212 Bret Saberhagen

Here is one of six cards that I was able to get signed at a signing here in town back in May. That month, a new Menards opened up here and they went all out with their grand opening. For the first day of the week long grand opening, they brought in current Chief, Dwayne Bowe. I went there for that just to see how the setup was going to be and I posted my two Dwayne Bowe cards on Auto-Matic for the People. On the second day, Bret Saberhagen signed. The third day was the Menards racing team and the fourth day featured the former Chief, Christian Okoye.

So, while I would have appreciated more baseball players than football, I could not complain one bit. It's not everyday that a current Pro Bowler, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, the 1989 NFL rushing leader, and a NASCAR driver comes to Salina, Kansas to sign autographs for free. It was a top-notch event and I really appreciate Menards doing that. The only thing is is that they need to do that again. I haven't been back there since.

So, if you ever hear about a new Menards opening up near you, you might want to look into their grand opening. The one here in Salina went over really well.

Monday, August 8, 2011

1984 Topps, Rene Lachemann

#67T Rene Lachemann

Here is the second Rene Lachemann card that I got signed last month in Colorado Springs. Of the three cards that he signed for me, he signed this one last. I bring that point up because he signed the first two cards sideways (just scroll down to the next post to see what I mean). Then, when he got to this card, he started turning my book left and right, trying to find the best place to sign the card. He then decided that it would probably be best to sign it diagonally and that is what he did. I really didn't see anything different from this card to the other two, but it looks like Rene did. Personally, I like the way this one came out the best.

Rene only managed the Brewers for the 1984 season. They went 67-94 that year, finishing seventh. He was replaced by George Bamberger the following season.

Rene didn't manage again until the Florida Marlins came into existence in 1993. He was at the helm of the expansion team for its first three and a half seasons. While the team obviously never went to the playoffs, they also never lost 100 games in a season. That seems pretty good for an expansion team to me.

After that, Rene has just been a coach in the Majors and minors with one exception. That one exception came in the 2002 season when he took over as the interim manager of the Chicago Cubs after Don Baylor got fired. The Cubs lost that game and Bruce Kimm was hired as the manager the next day.

For Rene's managerial career, he lead his teams to a 428-560 record. That my not look too good, but its not like he ever managed a good team.

This card is the first Topps Tiffany card that I have got signed. Compared to the rest of the '84 Topps cards that I have, this one has yellowed a little bit. You can't really notice it by itself, but you can when it is around other regular '84 Topps cards.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

1982 Donruss, Rene Lachemann

#600 Rene Lachemann

Here is a card that I got signed in Colorado Springs last month. Rene is the hitting coach for the Sky Sox and I was able to get this card signed right before the game started. At first, I didn't think I was going to get Rene's autograph. He was the last Sox player/coach to come out of the clubhouse and when I asked him to sign, he told me that he didn't have time. Then a clubbie came up to him and talked to him for a minute or two, so I hung around. As soon as the clubbie walked off, Rene came straight over to me and signed my cards. For once, my passive persistence paid off.

Rene only managed the Mariners for one full season. He replaced Maury Wills (who I didn't realize managed) 25 games into the 1981 season after the M's started out 6-18. Rene finished out the first half of that strike-shortened season 15-18 and then went 23-29 over the second half. He was at the helm for all of the '82 season and his team finished 76-86, which placed them fourth. In '83, Rene and his Mariners were 26-47 before he was fired.

I got three cards signed by Rene at the Sox game and this is the only one that I didn't have to buy. I almost bought a Mariners card of him because I didn't like the way this card looked. I thought that it was too dark and that an autograph might not show up very well on it. But, I decided to try my luck and save some money and it looks like I made a good choice. This card came out looking much better that I ever thought that it would.

It appears that this card is an error. The "e" is missing from Rene's last name.

Friday, August 5, 2011

1981 Topps, Jeff Jones

#687 Jeff Jones

Here is a card that I got signed at Target Field two weeks ago. The Detroit Tigers were in town that evening and Jeff is their pitching coach.

That was my first trip to Target Field since it opened and, like I do with any Major League ballpark I go to for the first time, I had to do a lap around the place just to check everything out. There really wasn't too much to see outside of the Target Plaza area behind right field. That was where most of the statues were as well the history of baseball in the twin cities. That was also the main entrance to the park, similar to Turner Field in Atlanta. The Plaza was were I started and finished my lap. By the time I had finished it, the gates were about to open and I decided to enter the park there. The only problem was that I was entering in right field and my destination was the visiting dugout on the third base side (ie, on the opposite side of the park). By the time I had made it over there, I had missed out on Austin Jackson, Carlos Guillen, and Rick Porcello.

Now, I am going to back track a bit. Just before the gates opened, my buddy and I were at the Plaza checking out the various statues of past Twins greats. I was checking out a giant bronze version of Kirby Puckett when I heard the gates opening. Naturally, I make my way to the gates to go in. When I got to the gate, I turned around to give my buddy his ticket and he was nowhere to be found. I look and look and look and I do not see him at all. I just assumed that he was right behind me since the gates were open, but that was not the case. After a few minutes of looking for him, I finally find him, hand him his ticket, and storm off to the gate. He says something to me like "it's not like you have to go in right when the gates open". But, he was obviously wrong on that assumption because if I had gone in right when the gates opened (and had entered through a different gate), I would now have autographs from Austin Jackson, Carlos Guillen, and Rick Porcello.

There is a lesson to be learned here kids. If you want to greatly enhance your likelihood of getting autographs at a professional baseball game, make sure you 1. Enter the ballpark right when it opens and 2. Go through the gate that is nearest to the area you want to 'graph from.

Back to the story.

As I was getting closer to the Tigers dugout, I saw Jeff signing for a guy. By the time I got down to the field, he was moving to the outfield where the pitchers were throwing. I was able to flag him down before he got there and he came over to sign for me. For some reason, I handed him a black pen instead of a Sharpie. Before I realize my mistake, he had started to sign this card with the pen. I quickly got him to stop, but you can still see part of a "J" from the pen. Oh well, it still came out looking alright.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

1981 Donruss, Don Money

#443 Don Money

Here is a card that I got signed two weeks ago while I was at an Iowa Cubs game. The Nashville Sounds were in town that night and Don is the club's manager. I was able to get this card signed along the left field line as Don was making his way to the dugout. Some other 'grapher got Don to come over and sign and Don seemed like quite a character. The other 'garpher asked Don if he could "get one from him" and Don came over asking "one what; what are you wanting one of?" as he signed for the guy. So, I played along, too, and asked Don if I could also get one. He came over doing his "one what" line again as he signed my card. It was a little strange, but kind of funny just the same.

This is the only '81 Donruss card that I have got signed this summer. It has just been one of them years. But, at least I got one. I was 0-fer before that. [I'm pretty sure that 0-fer is a word, but I have no idea how to spell it.]

As for Don, he was a four time All Star with the Brewers in the '70s. He best season came in 1977 when he had career highs in hits (159), home runs (25), and RBI (83). He finished his career a .261 hitter with 176 home runs and 729 RBI.

Don has been managing in the Brewers system since 1998. He started off in single-A and has gradually advanced up to AAA. In 2007, he was the Manager of the Year in the Southern League.

After just three posts, I am done with '81 Donruss. Oh well. At the rate I am going, it will probably be another year before before I get around to posting the next bunch. Maybe, by that time, I will have a nice stockpile to show off.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 85/100

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

1981 Donruss, Marty Pattin

#343 Marty Pattin

Here is the third and final Marty Pattin card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest this past winter. Actually, this is the first one that I got signed that day (I've got priorities) and it didn't seem that Marty was in a good mood as he didn't say a word to me or even look at me. But, when I made my second trip through the line, he was commenting on an old Pilots card "oh, to be that young and know what I know now". I didn't feel like going through the line a third time, so I made my dad go through at the last minute. They tried to shut the line down, but Marty wasn't having it and he sat there and signed for everyone that was in line.

So, was Marty just not into it yet when he signed this card? Or does he just hate this card? Marty has always seemed like a very talkative person, so it was kind of strange when I went through the first time without even a look from him. Clearly, this is the best card of his ever made, so I highly doubt that he doesn't like it. So, he must have been a little groggy after lunch or something when he signed this card.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 84/100

Monday, August 1, 2011

1981 Donruss, Jerry Munphrey

#124 Jerry Mumphrey

Here is the first '81 Donruss card that I have posted since January. What that tells me is that I don't post enough any more.

Thanks to the Topps Million Card Giveaway, I finally got around to sending this card out to Jerry. I had had this card sitting on my desk for a bit. Then, after I unlocked the '78 Topps Mumphrey, this card continued to sit on my desk until I payed to have my Topps cards sent to me. In January, I finally mailed this card to him after it had sat around for about a year.

Lucky for me, I actually had this card to send to him. I unlocked this card around the same time that I unlocked the '78 Gary Lavelle, but I do not own Gary's '81 Donruss. I also thought at the time that I did not own an '81D of Chris Knapp, but it turns out I was wrong. I just need to collect a complete set of '81 Donruss and then I can avoid all of these stupid little problems.

This is one of the few "action" shots that appear in the set. Also, this is the first non-Topps card that I have posted since the beginning of June.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 83/100