Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1986 Donruss, Andy Hawkins

#284 Andy Hawkins

For some reason, when I was scanning cards for the blog, I completely overlooked this card. I thought that it had been in my collection for a while, but that was not the case. In fact, it is one of most recent acquisitions.

I got this card, and one other, signed by Andy outside of Kauffman Stadium before the Royals last home game this past season. I hadn't 'graphed outside the park all year because of the "No Autograph Zones" that had put up two years ago. But, since I had a less than stellar year 'graphing, I decided to give it a go and I am glad that I did.

At some point during the year, they did away with the "No Autograph Zones". It was still nearly impossible to get signatures from the Royals, but the open access to the visiting team made up for that. The Rangers were in town that day and I had my best day of 'graphing all season. I did not get too many cards signed by the players, but I made up for that by getting all of the coaches except for manager, Ron Washington. I think I ended up getting about two dozen cards signed that day, so I finished the year with a bang.

Five years ago, I posted a card of Andy that was given to me by Rod, of Padrographs. That card can be seen here.

See you in 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

1985 Topps, Ned Yost

#777 Ned Yost

Here is the last '85 Topps card and the last Ned Yost card for a while. This is the third Yost card that I have posted in the past month and you can see the first one here and the second one here. This one was obtained the same time as the first one and it is a hurried ballpark signature. The one I posted from Fanfest is the best looking of the three as you can tell that he took his time signing it.

By the time this card came out, Ned's Major League career was winding down. After spending four seasons as a back-up with Milwaukee and Texas, Ned found himself in AAA for most of 1985. He did get called up to the Expos at the end of the season and appeared in five games for them. Those five games were the last of his career. He went on to play two more seasons of minor league ball with the Braves before joining their minor league coaching staff in 1988.

For his career, Ned was a .212 hitter with 16 home runs and 64 RBI. His best season was probably 1983 with the Brewers when he had career-highs in home runs (6), RBI (28), and runs (21).

Friday, December 27, 2013

1985 Topps, Tony Gwynn

#717 Tony Gwynn

Here is a card that I almost did not get signed at All Star Game Fanfest last year.

Tony Gwynn was the most recent Hall of Fame inductee at Fanfest that year and there were quite a few people looking to add his signature to their collection. He was doing two signings that day and I knew when and where he was going to be.

As I walked by the first spot where he would be signing two hours later, I was shocked at how many people were already in line. I did not get in that line at that time because there were other guys signing before Tony that I did not want to miss out on. I ended up getting in that line about an hour later and was told by the guy manning the line that we were not likely to get a signature. Nevertheless, it was worth a shot.

So we slinked out way through that line and we were cutting it close. Finally I realized that we were not going to make it, so I took off for the next line where Tony would be signing two hours later. My dad was with me and we usually go through the lines together so I can double-up on autographs, but I didn't want to miss out on other people because I was standing in line for three others. So, I went to the Gwynn line and my dad went out getting autographs from other guys.

When I made it to the second Gwynn line, I was amazed how long it was considering that Gwynn was still signing at the other line. But, I got on the list anyway and started walking down the line trying to find the end of it. I finally got there and chuckled about how far back I was. This line wrapped so far back that I couldn't see anything because we were stuck behind exhibits. So, I just sat down on the ground and waited.

Not too long into my sitting wait, a guy and his daughter came and sat down next to me. Not in front of me, or behind me, but next to me. They had been off chasing Cal Ripken, Jr. and were getting back into line where they thought they were before they had left. I'm pretty sure they had moved up the line about ten people. But, as long as they were not in front of me, I did not care.

Eventually, the line started to move. It seemed to go rather briskly at first only to eventually bog down. Next thing you know, there are only twenty minutes left and I hadn't even reached the actually roped-off lines. By that time, they were letting just a handful of people into the actual signing line. They would let them in, let them filter down, and then let in another handful.

I finally was about ten people from getting in with less than three minutes left for the signing and they started to let one more small group in. The girl that I had been behind the entire time in line made it through the threshold and I followed her like white on rice. They cut it off right after me and that guy who had been beside me started throwing a fit saying I had cut in front of them. I was about thirty feet down the line and the guy in charge started yelling at me to see if I had cut. I yelled back that I hadn't and I had been in that spot the whole time and turned around and got my card signed.

The guy that had been beside me must have told that guy some sob story because they ended up letting him and his daughter in, too. But, I got this card signed and could not have been happier. It was well worth the wait.

Monday, December 23, 2013

1985 Topps, Tim Stoddard

#693 Tim Stoddard

Here is the second of three cards that Tim Stoddard signed for me last spring. Tim is the pitching coach for Northwestern and I was able to get the cards signed prior to a game at Wichita State. The first card I posted was Tim's '81 Donruss card and it can be seen here.

I went to three non-tournament college baseball games last season. The main reason for going to each of those games was to get cards signed by the visiting teams pitching coach, all of whom pitched in the Majors. The first game I went to was a Kansas State game when they were hosting Nebraska-Omaha. Dan McGinn is their pitching coach and I went home empty handed when I found out that he didn't even make the trip to Manahattan. The second game was also a K-State game. That one was against TCU where Kirk Saarloos coaches. Kirk turned me down before the game and somehow evaded me afterwards. Again, I went home empty-handed. My luck changed when I went to the Shockers game and got Tim to sign my cards. I then immediately left and went across town to see the Wingnuts play and get even more autographs. It turned out to be a good day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

1985 Topps, Jim Beattie

#505 Jim Beattie

Here is the second card that I sent to Jim Beattie last year. I wrote to him to get his '81 Donruss card signed and I decided to throw this card in, too, because I love this set so much. The '81 Donruss can be seen here.

Now onto a rant about a totally unrelated topic.

This year, my fiance and I decided decided to donate gifts for a needy child. We picked a kid through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. I work at a retail store and we did most of the shopping for the child there so I could use my employee discount. We got everything on the kid's list of things he needed and it was all in the latest Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour gear.

Yesterday, I come out of the back room at work and there is a lady at the register returning some items. Sure enough, it is all of the stuff that I had bought for the Angel Tree recipient. The lady had some stupid story about how her dad had bought the stuff and none of it fit. When I told her that I was the one that had bought those items, she was a little surprised. She told me that she appreciated my generosity, but none of the items worked out because the kid had a weird build. Since all she had was the gift receipt, she could only get merchandise credit and that was what she did.

At that point I was a little flabbergasted about what had just happened. After she left, my assistant told me that she had called the day before and was trying to figure out how she could get cash back for the items and that she was really frustrated about the whole thing. When I heard that, I immediately went from flabbergasted to pissed off. The lady is probably going to sell that card so she can buy booze or drugs for herself. That is obviously worst case scenario, but I highly doubt that much of it goes towards the kid. Had I known that she had called the day before prior to giving her merchandise credit, I would not have let her return the items. I would have told her to bring the kid in over the weekend and he could pick out what he really wanted from my store. But, that obviously did not happen.

Like I said, this was the first year that we had done the Angel Tree. If I hadn't purchased the items at my store, I would not have known what had happened to the items I donated and everything would had been fine. But, knowing what I know makes me sick. We were trying to help a needy child have a better Christmas and his crummy mom had to take advantage of the system. Hopefully, I pulled a 1/1 when we picked that kid and that kind of behavior is a rare occurrence.

Nonetheless, we were really bummed out over how everything turned out and will be re-thinking about how we help out the less fortunate next Christmas.

Sorry to drag my personal issues into my blog, but this whole ordeal has been eating me up and I felt like I needed to share it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

1985 Topps, Joel Skinner

#488 Joel Skinner

A few posts ago, I posted a card of Oddibe McDowell from this set. In that post, I talked about how I upgraded the McDowell card that I had because the original one was opened out of a pack by a six year old in 1985. This just happens to be one of those such cards. I normally don't try to get those cards signed, but I happened to come across this card before heading to Arizona this past spring. I got Joel to sign for me once or twice when he was a coach for the Indians, so I wasn't too concerned about finding cards of him for the trip. But, when I was looking for a card of Gary Ward, I found this one and said "what the heck, I probably won't get him anyway".

So, I took the card and, sure enough, I got him to sign my first morning out 'graphing. Joel is the manager for the White Sox AAA team in Charlotte and I was able to get him to sign after the minor leaguers scrimmaged.

This card shows obvious signs of being over-handled by a six year old. The corners are well rounded, there are some (surprisingly) light wrinkles, and some surface wear from me showing my cards off on the concrete front porch.

1985 Topps were the first cards I ever saw and I love the set because of that. Since most of my cards look like this card, I ended up buying some unopened cello packs five or six years ago (about the time I bough a box of '81 Donruss). Thanks to those random ebay pack pick-ups, I now have some cards from that set that are in good shape and those are the ones I usually try to get signed.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1985 Topps, Gary Ward

#414 Gary Ward

Here is the second of three cards that Gary signed for me in Glendale, Arizona this past spring. Gary is the hitting coach for the White Sox AA team and I was able to get the cards signed after the Sox minor league players scrimmaged.

Gary's signature looks a little rushed. But, it doesn't vary too much from the other signatures I have from him.

I just checked the Birmingham Barons website and it appears that Gary is going to be back with the team next season.

Monday, December 16, 2013

1985 Topps, Oddibe McDowell

#400 Oddibe McDowell

Last week, I posted a card of Oddibe McDowell that I had in my incomplete complete set of 1985 Fleer Update. That only reason that I sent that card to him to get signed was because I was finally sending him this card. I originally got this card in a pack in 1985 when I was six. Being that young, I wasn't too careful with my cards and all of my original cards from '85 and '86 are not in the best of shape.

I noticed a few years back that Oddibe is a good TTM signer and I have been trying to get this card to send his way. I first began by trying to acquire it in a trade on the Topps Million Card and Diamond Card giveaway sites. Unfortunately, not too many of these cards were unlocked and I could never get anyone to agree to a trade. I then started checking out Check Out My Cards occasionally. But, I could never find one for the price I wanted to pay for it. Finally, after periodically checking that site for a year, I found this card from the Topps Tiffany set. The Tiffany set is the glossy version of the set and I believe it only came in set form. So, I picked up the card, even though it has yellowed some through the years, because it was cheaper than the base card.

The signature came out nice and Oddibe even included an inscription. I always think it is neat when a player that inscribes Bible verses on the card inscribes two different verses on the cards.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

1985 Topps, Don August

#392 Don August

Here is a card that I sent out to get signed just because I love the subset. 1984 was the first year that baseball was in the Olympics, even though it wasn't a medal sport. To commemorate the event, Topps included these cards in the '85 set. All of the players were amateurs and a few of them went on to successful Major League careers.

Baseball became a medal event for the '92 games and lasted through 2008. Baseball was eliminated from the Olympics after that mainly because the best players in the world are not involved. The only way I see baseball back in the Olympics is if Major League Baseball finds a way to let its best players compete. The NHL does it by pausing its season for two weeks every four years. Personally, I think MLB is happy enough with its World Baseball Classic that it could care less if baseball was in the Olympics.

In five Olympics, gold medals were awarded to Cuba three times, with the USA and South Korea each with one. Team USA also won two bronze medals. Other countries to medal in baseball have been Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Australia.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

1985 Topps, Steve McCatty

#63 Steve McCatty

This is one of the reasons why I need to get a complete set of 1981 Donruss. Steve is in that set and I do not have his card. Because of that, I was not able to get the card signed when I came across him this past season. At one point, I was actually working on which cards I needed for the complete set. But I got sidetracked and never got one posted to this blog. One of these days...

Steve was the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals this past season and I was able to get three cards signed by him when the Nats came to Kansas City. Since I work in retail, I have to work most Saturdays. Because of that, Sundays are the days I get to go to Royals games. Batting practice is rarely taken on Sundays, so I mainly focus on pitchers because they usually take the field to get some form of workouts in. And I can go by the bullpen to get 'graphs from the bullpen and/or pitching coach. That is how I got this card signed.

This past season was not very good for me at the Major League level. While I never left the ballpark without at least one signature, I did not have as much luck with the pitchers as I have had in years past. It wasn't like I was getting turned down by everyone, though. It just seemed as if fewer pitchers were getting their work in after the gates had opened. I don't know if there were just doing it inside or if they got to the park earlier to beat the crowds. Either way, I hope it was just a one-year thing and not a continuing trend.

Friday, December 13, 2013

1985 Fleer, Rich Thompson

#U120 Rich Thompson

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail last December. The reason why I sent this card to Rich is because I had the privilege of watching a Spring Training game with him in 2006.

That spring, I drove down to the Tampa Bay area to watch a couple of games on a weekend. One of the games I went to was a Devil Rays game at the old Al Lang Field. The Rays were hosting the Twins that day and my friend, Terry Tiffee, was still with the Twins at the time. He left us tickets for the game and we ended up sitting next to Rich, who was Terry's agent. He was a nice guy and we did a lot of talking that day. You think you know a lot about baseball until you are sitting there watching a game with someone that played it at the highest level. Still, it was a fun experience.

Rich appeared in the Majors in three seasons with the Indians and Expos. He owns a 3-10 record with 5 saves and a 5.05 ERA.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1985 Fleer, Oddibe McDowell

#U80 Oddibe McDowell

Here is another card from the '84 Fleer Update set that I got signed through the mail. I actually got this card back from Oddibe one year ago today after waiting just two weeks for it.

Oddibe was one of those rare talents that make it to the Majors really quick. He was drafted in 1984 and made his professional debut in 1985 in AAA. He spent a month and a half there and hit .400 before getting called up to the Rangers. He spent the rest of the season at the Major League level and hit just .239 with 18 home runs and 42 RBI. He got one first place vote for rookie of the year, but ended up finishing fourth.

Nonetheless, it is still cool seeing a Major League card (not counting Bowman) of a player that was drafted the previous year. It doesn't happen too often.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

1985 Fleer, Steve Kemp

#U64 Steve Kemp

A few years back, my best friend gave me a baseball card stocking for Christmas. The stocking contained some random unopened packs, various baseball related stuff, and a traded/update set from the mid '80s. The set was what intrigued me the most and I demanded to know where he had got it from. Turns out it was from a local hardware store, so I went over there the next day and bought three or four more stockings for myself. They each contained a different update set and I think I got one each from Score, Topps, Fleer, and Donruss (The Rookies), each from different years. Unfortunately, most of the sets had been searched and were missing some of the key rookies, especially the '86 Topps Traded set. This set was mostly intact, but it was missing Ozzie Guillen's XRC. But, since the set was not completely intact, I had no problem sending the cards out to get signed through the mail. So, that is how I got this card and the next two signed.

This is the third card that I have posted of Steve Kemp. The first one can be seen here and the second one here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

1985 Donruss, John Wockenfuss

#549 John Wockenfuss

Today is opening day for deer hunting here in the state of Kansas and I cannot think of a better card to post than this one of John Wockenfuss. Even though John is a bow hunter and rifle season is what opened today, I can't help but think of him when I think of deer hunting in Kansas. The reason for that is because when I sent him his '81 Donruss card to sign, he sent that card and two more signed cards back to me along with a note with his phone number stating that he was looking for a place to bow hunt in Kansas. It is still the most unique response that I have received on a through the mail request.

I am glad that he included a Phillies card, too, as I always like getting cards from different teams signed by players. Variety is always nice.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1984 Topps, Ken Oberkfell

#102 Ken Oberkfell

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnut game this past season. Actually, my girlfriend's boy got it signed after I gave him the card. He was excited as it was the oldest card that he had ever got signed. He got a few cards signed by the Wingnuts that day, too.

Then we got home and he sat all the cards by his TV. And they sat there. And sat there. Two months later, I walked into his room and this card had fallen on the ground. So, I picked it up and claimed it for myself. If he ever wants it back, it is his. But, that was three months ago that I snatched it up off the floor and he hasn't even noticed. The signed Wingnut cards are still by the TV.

Ken is the manager for the Lincoln Saltdogs and I came home with four cards signed by him that day. I had gotten Ken through the mail before on an '81 Donruss and that card can be seen here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

1984 Fleer, Ned Yost

#U130 Ned Yost

Yesterday, I posted the first card from the '84 Fleer Update set. Here is the last card.

This is another card signed by Ned Yost. I posted a card signed by him last week that I got signed at a Royals game two seasons ago. This one is a little more recent as it was signed at Royals Fanfest earlier this year. This was one of three cards from the '84 Fleer sets that I got signed that day.

Ned is the manager of the Royals and he recently got rewarded with a contract extension in October. This past season, Ned led the club to their first winning record in ten years and had the team in the hunt for a Wild Card spot until the last week of the season. He is now signed with the team through 2015.

I just wish that he would grow that mustache back.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1984 Fleer, Willie Aikens

#U1 Willie Aikens

Here is a card from the '84 Fleer Update set that I got signed at Fanfest last winter. I now have the first card from the regular Fleer set and the Update set signed. And I just happened to get them both signed the same day.

Since getting released from prison, Willie has become a regular at Royals alumni events. That is great as he is a pleasure to talk to. At Fanfest, I was trying to ask him about his new book, "Safe At Home", but he kept asking me where the booth was where he was going to be selling it. My dad ended up getting the book for me just before he left and my dad agreed that Willie was fun talking to.

The book itself was a good read. I had never heard much about the early '80s Royals drug usage besides the obvious suspensions. Willie's book went into a lot of details about that club and his personal problems off the field. If you ever get a chance, pick it up. It is well worth it.

This coming season, Willie will be a coach for the Royals Rookie ball team in Idaho Falls. If there is one person that can get through to some young kids about doing the right thing, I bet it will be Willie.

In case you forgot, Willie was the first player to have two two-home runs games in the same World Series when he did it in 1980 against the Phillies. Chase Utley is the only other player to accomplish that feat.