Monday, December 29, 2014

1999 Just Minors, Eric Byrnes

NN Eric Byrnes

Here is a card that I picked up of Eric Byrnes for cheap from COMC. This one set me back a whopping sixty-nine cents. You cannot beat that.

Eric played in the Majors for parts of eleven seasons with the A's, Orioles, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners. He hit .258 for his career with 109 home runs and 396 RBI. He was only an everyday player for four seasons, two with Oakland and two with Phoenix, and he put up some good numbers during three of those seasons (20+ home runs, 70+ RBI). He even started to steal some bases when he got out of Oakland and topped out with 50 with the D-Backs in 2007.

That was probably his best season. Besides the career highs in stolen bases, he also had highs in average (.286) and RBI (83). Things took a turn for the worse the following season, though, when Eric was limited to just 52 games. He landed on the disabled list that season for the first time in his career and ended up hitting just .209 for the season. He rebounded to the tune of .226 the next season, but was limited to 84 games. He was released by the D-Backs after the season and hooked on with the Mariners the following year. His tenure lasted 15 games before getting released and he called it a career.

Since retiring, Eric has had various broadcasting duties with multiple networks. I believe he currently works for the MLB Network.

I really like the signature on this card. It looks much better than the one on the 2005 card on his Baseball Almanac page.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1998 Upper Deck, Ariel Prieto

#182 Ariel Prieto

Here is a card that I got signed at Spring Training this year. Ariel was a member of the A's coaching staff and I almost didn't get this card signed by him. He was one of the first guys out of the clubhouse that day and I had no clue who he was. He eventually started signing before he made it to the dugout. Lucky for me, an A's fan made it over by me and he had an A's yearbook with him. We looked up the coaches and were able to figure out that it was Ariel signing. So, I made my way over there and got my one card signed. This was the only card of him that I was able to find in my collection.

Ariel was a Cuban defector that made a mistake. He defected to the US. Had he defected to any other country, he would have been a free agent and been able to sign for any team at an amount to his liking. But, since he came here first, he had to enter the draft as a 26 year old.

He was selected fifth by the A's and made his Major League debut a couple of weeks later without playing in the minors. He debuted as a reliever and pitched two innings against the Angels while not allowing any runs on just one hit. He was moved to the rotation after that and had a pair of back-to-back starts where he nearly pitched complete games in both. The one game he did go the distance, the A's lost 1-0. Ariel eventually made his way back to the bullpen that season and finished his rookie season 2-6 with a 4.97 ERA.

Ariel was a starter for the next two seasons. He won 6 games both years and had ERAs around 5. In 1998, he made just two starts before being shut down and missing the rest of the season and all of 1999. He came back in 2000 and made 8 appearances, 6 starts, and was 1-2 with a 5.12 ERA. He was released by the A's after that season.

He was picked up by Tampa Bay, but pitched in just three minor league games and three Major League games in 2001. Those three games with the Devil Rays were the last he would pitch in the Majors. He continued to pitch in the minors through 2005, but never made it back up again.

Ariel is not listed as a member of the A's coaching staff now. I saw somewhere that he was Yeonis Cespedes' interpreter, so that may be why he is no longer with Oakland. Maybe he will end up in Detroit this year with Cespedes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

1998 Pacific Paramount, Brian McRae

#207 Brian McRae

Many months ago, I posted some minor league cards that I got Brian McRae to sign for me at Royals Fanfest earlier this year. Here is the final card that he signed for me that day. I bought this card of Brian because I did not have any Mets cards signed by him. I had Royals cards and Cubs cards, but no Mets cards. That is not an issue any more.

Brian played for the Mets for about two seasons. He was traded there towards the end of the 1997 campaign and played with the team before being shipped off to Colorado nearly two years later. In his one full season in New York, he hit .264 with a career high 21 home runs and 79 RBI.

Brian was hitting just .221 when he was dealt to the Rockies. His tenure in Colorado lasted all of seven games before his was sent to Toronto. He finished the season there and then called it a career.

As far as I can tell, there is not a Rockies card of Brian. There is a Blue Jays card, but it is from the 2000 MLB Showdown game. I may have to try to track one of those down for Fanfest this year. I am sure Brian will be there. Maybe he can bring his dad with him.

Friday, December 19, 2014

1998 Pacific Online, Doug Henry

#324 Doug Henry

Here is the last Doug Henry card that I will post for some time. I have a few that I haven't posted, but those are from some more recent minor league sets. With the rate that I am going, I might post one of those cards sometime in 2023.

Doug is the Royals bullpen coach and he is fairly reliable for signing out of the bullpen at Kauffman Stadium. He is kind of my go to guy if I am having a bad day 'graphing. When everyone else fails me, I go to Doug. That is how I got this card signed. I was at the last regular season game for the Royals this year and was not having much luck. So, I went over to the pen and got a few cards signed by Doug.

It worked out as I bought the cards before the season started just to get them signed by him. Before then, all I had signed were Brewers cards and a couple of Omaha Storm Chaser cards. But, that day, I added a Mets card and this Astros card. Now, all I need to do is find his Topps Total Royals card and I will be set.

Doug pitched for the Astros for two and a half seasons. He compiled an 11-8 record with 5 saves and a 3.88 ERA while in Houston.

For some unknown reason, I like this quirky set. The links do not work and they are badly placed on the card, but they help make the set what it is. Though I never bought any packs of this, I now have five cards signed from the set.

Speaking of badly placed links, look how much better these cards would have been if they were left off of the front.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

1998 Pacific Online, Joe Randa

#281 Joe Randa

A couple of posts ago, I talked about how easy it is to have too many cards signed by one player. While it is not a problem for collecting, it can be a problem for blogging as it is easy to run out of things to say about a player, especially one that is retired and not making any news. That was the case for Jeff Montgomery. That should be the case for Joe Randa, too, since this is probably the eighth card that I have posted on here of him. But, luckily for me, this card does fill a specific niche for me. This is the only card that I have of him as a Detroit Tiger.

Joe spent one season in the Motor City. He ended up there from the Diamondbacks after they flipped him for Matt Fryman shortly after selecting him in the expansion draft from Pittsburgh. He had a bit of a down season with the Tigers as he hit just .254 with 9 home runs and 50 RBI. After that season, he was traded to the Mets before being dealt back to the Royals four days later.

I got this card signed at Royals Fanfest in 2013. For some reason, I wore my Omaha Storm Chasers shirt that day. Joe noticed it and must have assumed I was from Omaha because he kept going on about how nice of a city it is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1998 Bowman, Dan Reichert

#427 Dan Reichert

Here is the first of three cards that Dan Reichert signed for me before a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2013. Dan is the pitching coach for the Lincoln Saltdogs and he was nice enough to sign the three cards and an 8x10 before the start of the game.

Dan was drafted by the Royals in the first round of the 1997 draft after a standout career at Pacific University. He finished his junior season as the Big West Pitcher of the Year and All-American after going 13-4 with a 2.30 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 133.1 innings. After being taken seventh overall, Dan was assigned to Low-A Spokane. He finished up his season there 3-4 in nine starts with a 2.84 ERA.

Dan racked up some travel miles in '98 as he had stops in the Midwest League, Carolina League, Texas League, and Pacific Coast League. He got the most work in at the AA level and finished up the season 5-6 with a 5.77 ERA.

He spent most of the next season in AAA and was 9-2 with a 3.71 ERA and more than a strikeout an inning. In the middle of that solid season, he got called up to Kansas City for a handful of starts. He made his Major League debut in Milwaukee in July. He got the start in the second game of a doubleheader and did not do so well. He lasted just 1.2 innings while giving up 7 earned runs on 5 hits, 4 walks, and a hit batter. All seven runs scored in the second inning. Somehow, the Royals ended up coming back and winning that one.

Dan finished the season 2-2 with a 9.08 ERA over 8 starts. His biggest issue that season was his control. He walked 32 batters in 36.2 innings while striking out just 20.

Monday, December 15, 2014

1998 Best, Russ Ortiz

NN Russ Ortiz

Check out this early Russ Ortiz signature card. It is so early in his career, in fact, that he was still going by his given name of Russell. That may be why I was able buy this card for a mere seventy-five cents. At least that is what I thought until I got it and noticed it had a small wrinkle in it. But, for the price, I don't really care.

Russ pitched in the Majors for parts of twelve seasons with the Giants, Braves, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Astros, and Dodgers. He was mostly a starter and spent half of his big league seasons with the Giants. He was a 20 game winner once and made his lone All Star team that season. For his career, Russ was 113-89 with a 4.51 ERA and 1,192 strikeouts.

Russ pitched in one World Series for the 2002 Giants. After a solid start in the NLDS, where he was 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA, Russ started to have some issues in the second round. In the NLCS, he was 0-0 in one start with a 7.71 ERA. He got two more starts in the World Series and again had no decisions and a 10.13 ERA.

His poor postseason performance might have been the main reason why the Giants shipped him off to Atlanta during the off-season for Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez. The Braves got the better end of that deal as Russ had his All Star season in Atlanta in 2003. His postseason struggles continued, though, as he was 1-1 with a 7.24 ERA in three starts over two Division Series.

The Braves let him walk after the 2004 season and Russ's career as a journeyman began.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

1997 Stadium Club, Jeff Montgomery

#135 Jeff Montgomery

At what point is too many autographs from one person a bad thing? From a collector's standpoint, I don't see it as a problem. If you have every card that was ever made of a player and they are all signed, that would be a neat collection. But, for the purpose of this blog, I think four autographs are too many. I can usually spread out enough material for three posts on one player. I might be able to do four if I have an interesting tale of how I got one of the signatures. For some guys that never even made it to the Majors, though, two can be too many. I guess it just depends of the guy.

The point of all of that rambling is that I have posted too many cards of Jeff Montgomery on here. Jeff is a really nice guy and he is at Royals Fanfest nearly every year. In fact, Fanfest is where this card was signed nearly eleven months ago. But, by my best estimate, this is the ninth card of Jeff that I have posted on here. And I am out of things to write about him.

So, here are all of the Jeff Montgomery cards that I have ever posted. I am sure that I will have some more after Fanfest next month.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

1997 Score, Jim Eisenreich

#HR452 Jim Eisenreich

Here is one of my latest Jim Eisenreich signatures. And by latest, I mean that I picked it up at Fanfest about ten months ago. Jim is a regular at Fanfest and I have a few cards signed by him, mostly Royals. At this last Fanfest, my goal was to get some non-Royal cards signed. All that I had prior to that was a Phillies card signed. Jim also played for the Twins, Marlins, and Dodgers and, thanks to COMC, I was able to find a card of him with each team and get it signed. Here is the Marlins card I got.

Jim played for the Marlins for about a season and a half. He spent time in the outfield and at first for them, as well as pinch hitting. He hit .275 as a Marlin with 3 home runs and 41 RBI. He was on their championship team in 1997 and was 4-8 in the World Series with a home run and three RBI.

That was Jim's second and final trip to the fall classic, with his first being with the Phils in 1993. Over the two series, he hit .294 with two home runs and 10 RBI.

This card has a Hobby Reserve stamp on it. I have no idea what that means. I am not sure if these things were randomly inserted into hobby packs or if there were entire packs devoted to this product.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

1997 Fleer, Jaime Bluma

#111 Jaime Bluma

This is the third and final Jaime Bluma card that I got signed at Fanfest earlier this year.

In my last Bluma post, I talked about his successful debut with the Royals in 1996 (5 saves, 3.60 ERA). Unfortunately, that was the end to Jaime's Major League career. He ended up missing all of the 1997 season to an arm injury and he was never able to come back from it. He continued to pitch in the Royals system through 2000, but he never had the velocity or command that he had before the injury.

I was graduating high school in 1997 and baseball cards were the last thing on my mind. Because of that, I never saw these cards until I started blogging. That is too bad as I love this set. This is the perfect card for autographs. While there is a bit of gold foil on the card, there is no gloss whatsoever. In fact, these cards are the exact opposite of glossy. They have such a matte finish that they kind of feel a little fuzzy. That fuzzy matte finish even absorbs the signature a bit so that the sig looks matte, too.

They are absolutely perfect and I wish I had more of them. It is too bad this is the only one that I have signed.

Friday, December 5, 2014

1997 Bowman, Ben Davis

#193 Ben Davis

A few years back, Rod, from Padrographs, sent me a package of Royals and autos. This was one of the cards that he sent, but it somehow got skipped over the last time I did a recap. So, three years later, here it is.

A few years before that, in the early days of this blog, Rod sent me a package of over one hundred Padrographs. In that package was a Ben Davis card and that post can be seen here.

I posted that card in early 2010 while Ben was trying to re-invent himself as a pitcher. He had pitched in the Atlantic League in 2008 and in the Florida State League in 2009 with the Reds. He only appeared in 9 games that season, but he did well- 0-1 with 4 saves and a 3.09 ERA. I wondered then if his career was through or if he was still trying to make it as a pitcher. It turns out he gave it one more go.

In 2010, he was back in the Atlantic League with the Camden Riversharks. He appeared in 28 games, starting 23, and went 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA. He logged 136.2 innings and allowed 164 hits while walking 36 and striking out 84. That was Ben's final season playing baseball.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

1997 Bowman, Jamie Bluma

#98 Jamie Bluma

Here is the second card that Jamie Bluma signed for me at Fanfest this past winter. Unlike the last card that had four players on it, this one features Jamie by himself and it came out looking really good. Jamie has a nice looking signature and it shows on this card. The last card had too much black on it and the lack of room really scrunched the signature.

Jamie was drafted in the third round of the 1994 draft by the Royals out of Wichita State. He had a fantastic debut season that year by posting a 6-1 record with 14 saves and a 0.98 ERA over two different stops in A ball. He was promoted to AA the following season, and was 4-3 with 22 saves and a 3.09 ERA, before getting a brief bump to AAA to finish the year. He then started the '96 season in AAA and was 1-2 with 25 saves and a 3.12 ERA before getting the call to Kansas City.

He got off to a rough start with the Royals, becoming just the second pitcher in franchise history to allow a home run to the first batter they faced. That first batter just happened to be current Royals TV analyst Rex Hudler. But, he settled down after that and posted some decent numbers that season. He was 0-0 with 5 saves and a 3.60 ERA with 14 strikeouts over 20 innings. That is not too shabby for a 5'11" rookie reliever.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1996 Topps, Jamie Bluma

#431 Jamie Bluma

Here is the first of three Jamie Bluma cards that were signed for me at Royals Fanfest earlier this year. These three are going to be coming nearly back-to-back-to-back, so it is going to ba a lot of Jamie Bluma over the next week. If it wasn't for another card breaking up the Bluma's, I would probably have a Jamie Bluma day like I did with Bob Apodaca a few years back.

Whenever I have a card signed, and it has other players on it, I always like to try to get the other players to sign it to complete the card. But, the more guys on the card, the harder it is. I'm have a handful of cards signed by two players and one card each signed by three and four. I would think that this card would be a difficult card to complete. That is based on the fact that it still needs three more signatures and that I have never heard of the two players on the right.

It turns out that, out of the four pitchers on the card, only Brandon Reed never made it to the majors. The other three were in the big league for a combined 149 appearances with Steve Montgomery leading the way with 72.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to get a card signed by four guys. In order to complete this card, I would have to find the addresses for the three other guys and then mail this card out three times and hope it comes back each time. That is a lot to ask for. The one card I have that has four signatures on it I was lucky to get. I sent it to one of the guys and he had the other three sign it, too. It was pretty cool and very lucky.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

1996 Topps, Phil Nevin

#348 Phil Nevin

Here is the first of three cards that I got signed by Phil Nevin at Spring Training this past year. Phil is the manager of the Diamondbacks AAA team in Reno and he was nice enough to sign the cards for me after working out the D-Backs infielders on the miniature infield field. When I first got to that spot, I had no clue who he was. But, luckily, there were other 'graphers out there that helped me out.

Phil is a former number one that pick that ended up playing twelve seasons in the Major Leagues with with the Astros, Tigers, Angels, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, and Twins. He was a stud in college and won the Golden Spikes Award and the Most Outstanding Player Award as he lead his Cal State Fullerton Titans to the College World Series championship game in 1992. He was taken first overall by the Astros in the draft and started his pro career the following season.

Phil skipped a bunch of minor league levels and started off at AAA. He hit great there, hitting .286 with 10 home runs and 93 RBI in his first season. The repeated AAA the next year and did good again, though his numbers fell off a bit. He did get a September call-up to Houston, but hit just .117.

The problem with Phil at that point was his defense. He was drafted as a third baseman, but in his two seasons on the Astros AAA team, he had 60 errors at the hot corner. He had 3 errors there as well during his September call-up. He had 17 errors in AAA through 57 games the next season when Houston traded their former number one pick to the Tigers for Mike Henneman.

The Tigers went to work on finding a position Phil could play at the Major League level. As an American League team, I do not know why he would not be just a full time DH. Phil spent most of the '96 season at AA working on a variety of positions, but mostly catcher. He would only start two games at catcher for the Tigers, though, before they shipped him off to the Angels.

With Detroit, Phil spent parts of three seasons at the Major League level and he hit .246 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI.

I had completely forgotten that I had posted a Padrograph of Phil about three years ago. That card can be seen here.

It is probably hard to read on this scan, but the gold foil part on the cards reads "NOW APPEARING". Is this supposed to be a replacement for the Future Stars subset?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended, Matt Mantei

#120 Matt Mantei

Here is the final card that I have to post from this set. Like most of them, I bought this card to make up for a ball that I got signed at a game. Matt signed my ball at a Royals game in 2003 while he was with the Diamondbacks. That ball probably cost me $16. This card cost me $0.75.

I like to say that signing autographs is good karma for a player. More often than not, it seems like a player that signs for me before a game tends to have a good game. That was the case for Matt that game. Though he was a little a shaky (three walks in two innings), he and the D-Backs prevailed and Matt got the W.

Matt pitched in the Majors for ten seasons with the Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox. He pitched exclusively out of the 'pen and compiled a 14-18 record with 93 saves and a 4.07 ERA. His best season was with the D-Backs in 2003 when he had a career-high 29 saves with a 2.62 ERA.

For some reason, I picture Matt as a dominant closer from his era. But, he never made an All Star team and never recorded a 30 save season. I don't know what I was thinking.

Here is the ball that Matt signed for me that day.

I like Matt's signature. You cannot read it, but it is stylish.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended, Jason Christiansen

#28 Jason Christiansen

Here is a card of Jason Christiansen that I picked up from COMC for ninety-nine cents. I bought this card because I got Jason's signature at a Cardinals game in 2000. Since it was 2000, the autograph was on a ball and not on a card.

That was quite the road trip. I can't remember what prompted my buddy and I to make the trek to St. Louis. I actually don't remember a whole lot about the trip. The only thing that I vividly remember is staying in the most ghetto motel that I have ever been in.

The place looked pretty normal from the front, so we went in and got a room. Then we drove around to the back where the actual rooms were and we were like "WTF did we get ourselves in for". There were two or three rooms where people were sitting outside on lawn chairs drinking forties. We quickly found our room and hurried inside. Inside was not much better. The furniture looked like it was picked up from yard sales as nothing matched. On top of that, the chain lock was hanging from the door and not attached to the wall like the door had been kicked in at some point. Then we checked out the bathroom and discovered that the toilet from the room above ours was leaking and dripping straight into our toilet. Needless to say, neither of us dropped a deuce that night. We didn't sleep that well either.

Jason pitched in the Majors for eleven seasons with the Pirates, Cardinals, Giants, and Angels. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen and posted a 27-26 record with 16 saves and a 4.30 ERA. His best season came with the Pirates in 1998 when he appeared in a career-high 60 games and had a 2.51 ERA, 6 saves, and 71 strikeouts.

Here is a picture of the ball that Jason signed. It is a cheap souvenir ball and the Sharpie signature has bled a bit. Mike Timlin also signed the ball. I need to get a card signed by him as well. He also has one in this set, but right now it costs twice as much as this card did.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series Extended, Mike Aldrete

#2 Mike Aldrete

On yesterday's post of Joe Vitiello, I mentioned that I bought the card for no other reason than the fact that he was a former Royal. Well, here is a card I bought for no reason at all. I bought it just to get an autograph along with cards I was buying from COMC. Mike never played for the Royals and I never got him to sign a non-card item at a game. But, I now have this sweet card of him and it set me back only ninety-seven cents.

Mike played in the Majors for ten seasons with the Giants, Expos, Padres, Indians, A's, Angels, and Yankees. He got some decent playing time with the Giants in the late '80s, appearing in 100+ games twice. He played first and the corner outfield spots. In 1987, he had his best season. He hit a career-high .325 with 9 home runs and 51 RBI.

After the Giants traded him to Montreal, Mike got relegated to back-up duty. He would stay in that role for the rest of his career.

As noted on this card, Mike got traded to the Yankees. In his short tenure with them, he had a couple of firsts. He made his Major League pitching debut that season. He came into a game in the eighth inning in Milwaukee with one runner on. The Yanks were down by eleven and he escaped with just one hit and the inherited runner scoring. So, he has a career 0.00 ERA.

The second first he accomplished in pinstripes was playing in a World Series. He was a defensive replacement in game one, who was then pinch hit for in the ninth. He did get an at-bat, though, in game four. He pinch hit for the pitcher and grounded out to short. That was the extent of his World Series action.

I like the photo on this card. Minus the batting cage and the missing facade at Yankee Stadium, it is reminiscent of some older Topps cards.

It is kind of funny that Mike signed above his name on here. Every other card I have from this set has the signature below the name.

Friday, November 21, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Joe Vitiello

#232 Joe Vitiello

This card set me back all of ninety-five cents. Like the Sal Fasano and Ricky Bottalico cards I also posted from this set, I got this one just because Joe is a former Royal. The only difference, though, is that I never saw Joe play.

Joe was drafted by the Royals in the first round of the 1991 draft out of Alabama. He signed quickly and was assigned to Eugene in the Northwest League. He tore up that circuit over the 19 games he played there (.328 avg, 6 HR, and 21 RBI). He was then bumped up to AA where he struggled. He hit just .219 there over 36 games.

The next season was spent entirely in the Florida State League before spending all of 1993 in the Southern Association (AA). In 1994, he was moved up to AAA Omaha and that became Joe's home for the next six seasons. Over that time, he was called up to Kansas City yearly from 1995-99. But, he could never stick with the Big League club.

As a Kansas City Royal, Joe played in 205 games and hit .235 with 21 home runs and 83 RBI. With the Omaha Royals, though, Joe played in 431 games and hit .304 with 80 homers and 312 RBI. Joe Vitiello was essentially a AAAA player.

After his time with the Royals, Joe played five more seasons, mostly at AAA. He did spend one season in Japan and did have a couple of call-ups with San Diego and Montreal. He did real well with the Expos, too, hitting .342 over 76 at-bats. But, it was back to the minors the next season which ended up being his last.

For his career, Joe was a .248 hitter with 26 home runs and 104 RBI.

Monday, November 17, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Jason Giambi

#77 Jason Giambi

Like yesterday's post, here is a card I bought to make up for not having a card to get signed at a ballgame. This one was more expensive than the ones that I usually pick up from this set. But, I still got it for under $4 and that is not bad for Jason Giambi.

Back in 2000, I started going to a bunch of Royals game. I was in Manhattan, attending Kansas State, and Kansas City was less than two hours away. I probably averaged at least a dozen games a year during my four years there. That first year, I tried getting autographs at every game I went to. I would try to get balls signed at that time, and that proved to be an expensive endeavor that netted very few big name players. In other words, it was a waste of a ball.

That season, I went to most of the games with a girlfriend. I would try to 'graph the Royals and I would send her over to 'graph the visitors. She had no clue what she was doing, and didn't want to do it in the first place, but she did so anyways (kind of like my wife does now). To make it simple, I told her to just go over there and wait for someone to start signing and then get in on the action.

One day, the A's were in town and there must not have been many 'graphers at the ballpark. Because of that, she was standing all alone with her ball. Jason Giambi walked by and asked her if she wanted him to sign it. Yes, you read that part right. Jason Giambi asked her if she wanted his autograph. To this day, I am still amazed by how that worked and am a big Giambi fan because of it. I have been to hundreds of games since then and still have not seen anything like that take place. Did I mention that he was in the middle of an MVP season, too?

I know that Giambi had taken a lot of flack for his PED use and I understand that. And, I wasn't too high on him when he was with the Yankees. But, nevertheless, this is still one of the best autograph stories I have ever witnessed. Because of that, I had to acquire a signed card of him to share it on here.

Never mind the fact that I got three cards signed by him at The K about six months later.

Here is the ball he signed for me almost fifteen years ago. Unfortunately, I was not using blue pens then and the ink has faded a bit.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Marvin Freeman

#73 Marvin Freeman

Here is another COMC addition that cost less than a dollar. I bought this card because I got Marvin's autograph at a Rockies game in 1996 and all I had to get signed was a Rockies program. I was barely collecting cards at the time and didn't even realize I would be heading to a Rockies game when we went to Colorado to play some baseball games. So this card is to make up for not getting a card signed at the game. There will be a few more like this coming up with this set.

Marvin played in the Majors for ten seasons with the Phillies, Braves, Rockies, and White Sox. He was both a reliever and a starter while getting most of his starts at the end of his career. Marvin's career record is 35-28 with 5 saves and a 4.64 ERA.

Marvin's best season came with the Rockies in 1994. That season, he was 10-2 with a 2.80 ERA over 18 starts and a relief appearance. Those are pretty good numbers for a pre-humidor Rockies pitcher. Unfortunately, he could not reproduce those numbers the following seasons in Denver as his ERA jumped to 5.89 the next season and 6.04 the season after that.

This apparently is the first Rockies card I have posted in over two years.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Sal Fasano

#65 Sal Fasano

The next COMC pick-up is this card of Sal Fasano. Like most of the cards that I buy from this set, this one cost me one dollar.

There wasn't any real reason why I bought this card. Sal used to play for the Royals, which is a plus, but that is about the only thing that ties me to him. I guess I just really like his mustache. Unfortunately, Sal wasn't wearing his trade mark Fu Manchu when this card came out. Here is a better look at it.

I like to call this style of mustache the "Ft. Polk Special". When I was in the Army, I had to go to Ft. Polk for a week of training. While I was there, it seemed like every civilian working on the post had a mustache like this.

Sal played in the Majors for parts of eleven seasons with the Royals, A's, Rockies, Angels, Orioles, Phillies, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Indians. The journeyman catcher was mainly a third-stringer who only got called up when one of the first two catchers got hurt. His best season came with the O's in 2005 when he hit .250 with a career high of 11 home runs.

For his career, Sal was a .221 hitter with 47 dingers.

Sal is currently the Blue Jays catching coordinator.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1996 Leaf Signature Series, Ricky Bottalico

#31 Ricky Bottalico

Here is a card of Ricky Bottalico that I picked up from Check Out My Cards. This one set me back all of one dollar.

I have a thing with COMC where I do not like making a purchase from the site without adding at least one autograph to my order. And I like that one autograph to be cheap. Luckily, that is easy to do with this set as I have amassed a decent collection of it while rarely going over the one dollar mark. That is kind of sad considering how much a pack of this product used to cost back in the day and the reason for the cost was the one autograph in the pack.

Ricky Bottalico caught my fancy because he is a former Royal. He spent just one year in Kansas City and it was the first year I was a fan of the team. Ricky was brought in to be the closer on a team with a very powerful offense. The only problem was that the pitching was horrible and he did not get as many save chances as was expected. Plus, his ERA was close to 5.00, so he just became part of the pitching problem instead of actually helping to fix it. But, he did finish the season 9-6 with 16 saves. That was the last time he ever hit double digits in saves.

Ricky had his hey-day early in his career withe the Phillies. He had back-to-back 34 save seasons in 1996 and '97 and was an All Star in '96. After things went south in Philly (and his ERA went north of 6.00), Ricky saw time with the Cardinals, D-Backs, Mets, Brewers, and a second go-around with the Phils.

He finished his career after the 2005 season with a 33-42 record with 116 saves and a 3.99 ERA.

Monday, November 10, 2014

1996 Collector's Choice, Doug Henry

#627 Doug Henry

Here is one of my most recent Doug Henry signatures. Doug is the bullpen coach for the Royals and he is one of my two go-to guys on slow 'graphing days.

Between the Royals late success this season and getting married, it was kind of a strange end of the year for 'graphing The K this season. Over the final five games I went to, I got two cards and one ball signed. Doug Henry signed the cards and David Ortiz signed the ball.

It all started in early September when we went to The K for my bachelor party. We got to the park about three hours before gametime. While I might have been able to catch the second Red Sox team bus about then, that was not the mission. We were there strictly to tailgate. And tailgate we did. We might have overdone it a bit as most of us do not remember the game. But, that is what bachelor parties are for, right?

Then, we went to the last Royal's regular season home game of the season against Detroit. I was a few weeks away from getting married and had no time to get cards ready for the Tigers. But, I took some Royals cards with me to see if I could get them signed at the pregame autograph session. I had only been to one Sunday autograph session this summer and Billy Butler and Bruce Chen signed. I had seen some other ones and they almost always had one starting pitcher and one position player signing. But, for the final one of the year, they had Dusty Coleman and Francisco Pena. I no cards of either guy with me, so we got out of line and I settled with Doug Henry.

The last three games I went to were all playoff games, one from each series. We did some form of tailgating at each of those, so autographs were not a priority. But, once I found out where the Fox pregame booth was set up at game one of the World Series, getting a ball signed by David Ortiz turned into a must. I stood around for some time, but I eventually came out on top.

I picked this card up from COMC this summer so I could get a card signed by Doug that was not a Brewers card. He apparently has a Topps Total card that pictures him as a Royal. I need to find that card before next summer.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

1996 Collector's Choice, Les Norman

#576 Les Norman

Here is the second and final card that I got signed by Les Norman at Royals Fanfest this past winter. I posted my first Norman card about three months ago and that card can be seen here.

Les played parts of two seasons with the Royals in 1995 and '96. He was an outfielder that could play all three spots and he hit .169 in the Majors. In 89 at-bats, Les had 15 hits, all of them singles except for a lone triple. He drove in 4 runs while scoring 15 and swiping one bag.

After that, Les was back down in the minors. He played in AAA through the 2000 season. He then retired, only to re-appear in the Northern League for a few games in 2003 and 2005.

Les is now in radio and his Saturday morning show, "Breaking the Norm", can be heard on a handful of stations in the Midwest.

The foil signature on this card varies a great deal from his current signature.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1996 Collector's Choice, Mike Sweeney

#438 Mike Sweeney

Here is a card that I got signed at All Star Game Fanfest in Kansas City in 2012. I was pretty excited that Mike was taking part in the event for a couple of reasons. The main reason I was excited was because I had never got a card signed by him in-person. When he was playing for the Royals, I was into getting balls signed. The other reason I was excited was because he has never attended Royals Fanfest and I was looking forward to seeing him after his playing days were over.

I became a Royals fan in 2000 and Mike had a career year that season. In 2000, Mike hit .333 with 29 home runs, 105 runs, and 144 RBI. On top of that, he walked more than he struck out. It was insane. That Royals team had the best offensive season that the franchise had ever seen. It was a fun time to be a new Royals fan, but it would have been even better if they had some pitching to complement the likes of Sweeney, Joe Randa, Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, and Carlos Beltran.

Side note: Of the previous five players mentioned, only one has ever attended Royals Fanfest- Joe Randa. Something needs to be done to rectify that.

If I remember right, Mike ended up hurting his back during an All Star break while riding in a vehicle with his family in California. He had constant back issues after that and was never the same player again. That really sucked as a Royals fan as he was the one the franchise dished out the long-term contract to. Nevertheless, he is the face of the franchise for the 2000s and one day he will be in the Royals Hall of Fame. Now if only he would show up for a Royals Fanfest.

I decided to get this card signed because I liked the stripes and you can see Mike's shinguards. Mike finished his career a pinch hitter/designated hitter, and had his best times as a first baseman, but did begin his career as a catcher. I would assume that most people have forgotten that.

I got this card signed early on the first day of Fanfest. The guys that authenticated stuff must have been a little dumbfounded that I was getting a card signed as they put the sicker on the front of the card. All of the other cards that they authenticated the rest of the week had the sicker placed on the back.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1996 Best Harrisburg Senators, Scott Forster

#12 Scott Forster

Here is the last of four straight minor league cards. Next, I will be coming with some guys with Royals ties before hitting a solid month of Leaf Signature Series.

Here is another Best team set card that was sent to me by Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project. Like the card I posted yesterday, I assumed Scott Forster was another career minor leaguer. And like yesterday, I was wrong again.

Scott made it to the big leagues for one season with the Expos in 2000. He made it into 42 games and it looks like he was mainly used as a left-handed specialist since he only pitched 32 innings. Or he might have only pitched 32 innings because he did not do so hot. That season, he went 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA. Yikes, that is a lofty ERA for 42 games of Major League work.

I mentioned that Scott might have been used as a LOOGY based on that fact that he is left-handed and pitched in less innings than games. So, I decided to look at his splits for that season and that definitely was not the case. Scott fared much better against righties than lefties. He faced 36 more righties that season than lefties and the righties hit just .195 while the lefties teed off for a .289 average. Left-handed hitters also hit one more home run off of him than righties.

After his one season in The Show, it was back to the minors for Scott. He pitched for four more seasons, splitting time in three different organizations and with three different Atlantic League squads.

Monday, November 3, 2014

1996 Best Binghamton Mets, Brian Edmondson

#6 Brian Edmondson

Here is another minor league card that was given to me by Ryan, from the Great Orioles Autograph Project. This was part of a small lot of random autos and Royals that Ryan sent me a couple of years ago.

When I got this card, I assumed that Brian Edmondson was just one of the many minor league players that never made it to the Major Leagues. It turns out that I was wrong.

Brian was originally drafted in the third round by the Tigers in 1991. He advanced up to AA with them before landing in the Mets organization. He spent three years in the Mets system and in his final year, he posted a 1.23 ERA at AA and a 2.90 ERA in AAA. The Braves took notice and selected Brian in the Rule V Draft after the season.

He made his Major League debut with the Braves in 1998 and was 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 10 games. The Braves designated him for assignment in June and he was picked up by the Marlins, whom he finished the season with. He was back with the Marlins again in '99 and pitched in 68 games for them, all out of the bullpen.

He seems to have missed all of the 2000 season, but played for three more seasons after that in the minor leagues. For his career, Brian pitched in 121 Major League games and was 9-12 with 1 save and a 4.98 ERA.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Royals Playoff Contest Results

The Royals made a great run through the playoffs, but ultimately came up two runs shy of winning it all. They ran into a beast of a pitcher who now is probably my least favorite player in baseball.

Sorry it took me so long, but the results are in. Nobody picked the Royals to lose in seven games. One person picked them to lose in six and that is our winner. Congrats to Paul, from Paul's Random Stuff. I will get your prize out to you sometime this week. If your address has changed, let me know.

Thanks to all that entered.

Monday, October 27, 2014

1996 Best, Mendy Lopez

#40 Mendy Lopez

Here is a card that I picked up from Checkoutmycards for sixty cents.

Mendy's Major League career spanned parts of seven seasons with the Royals, Marlins, Astros, and Pirates. He was a utility infielder that played all four spots and a bit of outfield. He saw the most significant playing time as a rookie for the Royals in 1998. That season, he got into 74 games and had 206 at-bats. That was the only season that he ever had more than 100 at-bats. He hit .243 that year with 10 doubles and 15 RBI.

Mendy would play in just 117 games over the next six seasons. The only time he got decent playing time was when he came back to the Royals in 2003. That year, he got into 52 games and had 94 at-bats. He had career highs in home runs (3) and average (.277) that season.

While Mendy was never a star player, or even a regular, he is held high in Royals lore. On Opening Day in 2004, Mendy hit a three-run pinch hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the ballgame. The Royals went on to win the game. It was supposed to be the home run that was going to jump start the team's season, as they were picked as the favorites by most people. But, the team never got it going and Mendy was sold to the Korean League after playing in just 18 games.

Even though Mendy hasn't played in the Majors since '04, he kept on playing in Mexico through last season.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

1995 Upper Deck Minors, Aaron Boone

#95 Aaron Boone

This is the second of three cards that I got signed by Aaron Boone at the College World Series this past summer. I posted the first one about a month ago and it can be seen here.

This is only the second signed card from this set that I own, and the first one that I have gotten in person. That is kind of a shame, because for a minor league set, this one really sets itself apart. Upper Deck did a good job with this one, even if they only copied their '95 base set look.

Aaron was working for ESPN when I got this card signed. He is still with them and you can hear him tonight working the World Series for ESPN Radio.

Speaking of the World Series, I made it to game one last week. The game did not turn out the way I wanted, but I still had a great time and enjoyed the experience. Since the Royals lost badly, the highlight of my day was getting a ball signed by Big Papi, David Ortiz.

I had to camp out by the Fox booth for over an hour to get the ball signed, but it was definitely worth it. Here was my view from the field while I was waiting.

Here was our view from the seats. Not too bad for just $165.

Monday, October 20, 2014

1995 Ultra, Chris Bosio

#99 Chris Bosio

This is the third and final card that Chris Bosio signed for me last year at Spring Training. Chris was the pitching coach for the Cubs at the time.

You can read more about that day in the last post about Chris Bosio.

Tomorrow, 10/21, I get to go to my very first World Series game and I am pumped! I have been rooting on my Royals for fifteen years and it had been a long fifteen years. It had gotten to the point that I just expected them to suck every year, and mostly they did just that. But, this year has obviously been different. The team has clicked at just the right time. I just hope that they can keep it going this week against the Giants. After their sweep of Baltimore, they have had a bit of a break. But, hopefully, they will pick right up from where they left off.

This is my third playoff game in Kansas City this year, so it has been an expensive month. But, I would not have traded it for anything. After taking my wife to two games, and our son and my good friend to one, I get to go to the World Series with my dad tomorrow. We have been to many games at The K together, including five or six opening days and the All Star Game, but nothing is going to compare to game one of the 2014 World Series. I can't wait.

Four more wins!

Go Royals!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

1995 Ultra, Kenny Lofton

#38 Kenny Lofton

Here is the third card that I have posted from the Kenny Lofton autograph line at the College World Series this year. It was an interesting autograph session as it was billed as hitting lessons and autographs. He was teamed up with Capital One and, before he started signing, he was over at the wiffle ball field Capitol One had set up. Normally, kids would be out there taking turns hitting a few balls and then shagging them. Then Kenny showed up and started giving lessons. It was pretty neat and he was really interactive with the kids. I told my then-fiance to take our kid over there, but he was way too deep in line to get to hit when Kenny was there.

While that was all going on, my dad and I were standing in line for autographs. There was a large monitor set up that was airing Kenny's hitting critique to everyone at Fanfest. I though it was pretty cool. My dad, on the other hand, thought otherwise. He was annoyed that he was over there and not signing and was worried that would be cutting into his time signing. I told him to chill out and that was how it was scheduled and that everything was going to be alright. As usual, I was right and I went through the line several times.

When I think of Kenny Lofton, I think of him as an Indian. He played for seventeen seasons and parts of ten of those were in Cleveland. He was with the franchise on three separate occasions and it is the only team, out of eleven, that he played with for more than one season. He ranks in the top ten for all time Indians players for hits (ninth), sac flies and WAR for position players (fourth), runs (third), and stolen bases (first). His 452 stolen bases is 173 more than second place, who happens to be Omar Vizquel.

On an unrelated note, I was supposed to be at game three of the ALCS tonight. Unfortunately, rain washed out the game and I was only an hour and ten minutes away from the stadium when I found out about postponement. But, I have it covered and, although I have to burn a day of vacation, I will be at the park tomorrow. I can't wait. Go Royals!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

1995 Team Set, Harrisburg Senators

#17 Steve Faltseisek
#20 Tony Kounas
#27 Mark Charbonnet
#38 Antonio Grissom

Here is a foursome from the Harrisburg Senators team set from 1995 that was sent to me a couple of years ago by Ryan, from the Great Orioles Autograph Project. These are not the first cards of the Senators that he has sent me. He sent me three from the '94 set, too, and those can be seen here. Like I said on that post, I believe that the Sens were Ryan's local minor league team back in the day and that is how he got these cards signed. I very easily could be wrong, though.

Out of these four players, three of them never made it above AA-ball, which is the level Harrisburg was at. Two of those three only got one crack at AA and were either out of baseball or in an independent league afterwards. Tony Kounas was spending his third straight season at AA, first with the Expos organization, but was done after that season.

Steve Falteisek was the highlight of this group. Not only was he a pitcher on a card with a posed batting shot, but he also made it to the Majors. He made his debut with the Expos in 1997 and had five relief appearances and posted a 0-0 record and 3.38 ERA. He spent all of '98 in the minors before make it back up to the bigs in '99 with the Brewers. He got into ten games and again did not get a decision. And his ERA ballooned to 7.50. That was his last chance in the Majors, though he did pitch professionally through the 2003 season. His career stats are no decisions and a 5.85 ERA with 6 walks and 7 strikeouts over 20 innings.

Mark Charbonnet played minor league ball for twelve seasons. About a third of that time was spent in independent leagues that are no longer around- the Western League and the Prairie League. Some of the teams he played for in those include the Moose Jaw Diamond Dogs, the Southern Minny Stars, the Bend Bandits, the Zion Pioneerzz (yes, two Z's), and the Tri-City Posse. I do not remember either of those leagues, but at least they left us some interesting team names.