Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1992 Fleer, Mark Salas

#144 Mark Salas

Here is a new Mark Salas autograph that I got at my first Royals game of the season. The White Sox were in town, and Mark is still their bullpen catcher, so I was able to get him to sign three from the visiting team bullpen.

By the way, I said that Mark is "still" their bullpen catcher and did not mean that in a bad way. I meant that Mark is fifty-three years old and he is still able to squat down and catch bullpen sessions. That is pretty amazing to me.

Mark played in the Majors for eight seasons with six teams- Cardinals, Twins, Yankees, White Sox, Indians, and Tigers. He was mostly used as a backup catcher, except for his first season in Minnesota. For his career, Mark hit .247 with 38 home runs and 143 RBI. As a Tiger in 1990, he hit a career-high 9 home runs.

I posted two cards of Mark in 2009. You can see another card of him as a Tiger here and a card as a Twin here.

1992 Classic Draft Picks, Levon Largusa

#70 Levon Largusa

Last spring, Ryan from The Great Orioles Autograph Project sent me a little card package with a few Royals and many autographs. A few of the autos were for my '81 Donruss set while the rest were just random autographs that he had laying around. Ryan knows how I am and realizes that I will take whatever I can get. That is where this awesome card of Levon Largusa from the 1992 Classic Draft Picks set comes from.

Levon was taken by the Blue Jays in the third round out of the University of Hawaii. He pitched in the Jays minor league system for four seasons, reaching high-A ball. He put up some decent numbers over his first two seasons, but he only appeared in 38 games in the four years. He was let go by the Jays and he pitched a season of independent ball in the Texas-Louisiana League. He did well enough there to earn another shot in affiliated ball and the Cubs sent him to their high-A team. He got into 14 games with Daytona, but must have been used as a LOOGY as he only pitched 8.2 innings. He gave up 16 hits and 11 runs, 8 earned, while walking 8 and striking out 5. The Cubs let him go and that was the end to Levon's career.

I am not sure where Ryan picked up this autograph. If I had to guess, I would bet that he got it while Levon was with the Hagerstown Suns.

I love the Converse cleats Levon is wearing in this pick. Wichita State was wearing Converse cleats around that time. Because of that, I was more than willing to get some Cons for my first set of metal spikes. Man, how the times have changed!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1991 Topps, Rex Hudler

#228 Rex Hudler

This is the last card from 1991 that I have to post for now. I have been posting cards from this year since early June. This is the first extended run I have on a year of cards since I last posted some '81 Donruss cards.

Anyway, here is the second card of Rex Hudler that I have posted on here. Rex is the color commentator for the Royals TV broadcasts and I was able to get him to sign three cards for me when he showed up to the ballpark for the Royals last home game of 2012. I posted my first card of Rex in February and that card can be seen here.

Rex played in the Majors for thirteen seasons for six teams- Yankees, Orioles, Expos, Cardinals, Angels, and Phillies. He never spent more than three seasons with any team. He never played in a playoff game and he never made an All Star team. He was basically just a journeyman utility player that went where ever he was needed.

Rex lived up to the utility man mantra, too. Just look at his position on this card- 2B-OF. That is kind of a weird combo. But Rex played every position during his career except pitcher and catcher. He got the most action at second base (281 games) while spending the least amount of time at third base (11 games).

I mentioned in my last post of Rex that I wasn't a big fan of his TV work. I caught a bit of Royals game today that he was working and I didn't mind him one bit. I am not sure if he was acting different because he was working with someone new (the game was on Fox Sports 1 rather than Fox Sports KC) or if he has just settled in to the job in Kansas City. Whatever the reason, I am glad for it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

1991 Topps, Ken Howell

#209 Ken Howell

Here is the first of three cards that I got signed by Ken Howell last month at a Royals game. Ken is the assistant pitching coach for the Dodgers and I was able to get him to sign the cards for me from the visiting team bullpen. The other two cards were older ones, so it will be some time before they get posted on here.

I always think of Ken as a Dodger since that was his original team. He spent his first five seasons there before moving on to Philadelphia. As a Dodger, he pitched out of the bullpen in all but four games. But, once he became a Phillie, he was turned into a starter.

Ken started for the Phillies for for two seasons. He did well in his initial run as a starter. In 1989, Ken went 12-12 with a 3.44 ERA and 164 strikeouts, which was tenth best in the league. In 1990, though, Ken started to have some injury woes. He made just 18 starts that season and was 8-7 with a 4.64 ERA. He made just three starts after July 1.

Ken pitched in six AAA games in 1991 before missing all of the 1992 season. He then had a few appearances in the low minors in '93 and '94 before calling it quits.

Ken has one of the nicest looking signatures that I have acquired this year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1991 Topps, Bobby Thigpen,

#8 Bobby Thigpen

This year, I have really tried to focus on getting the subset cards signed. In the past, I have gotten some mid-'80s Topps All Star cards signed and a few Diamond Kings, but that is about it. This year, I have tried to mix it up a bit and have had a bit of success. It all started in April when I got Bobby Thigpen to sign this card and his 1990 Score Dream Team card. I have only been able to add one more record breaker card since then and it was on an '87 Topps card. It might be some time before that card gets posted on here.

I wanted to get this card signed for one reason and one reason only. Bobby Thigpen is defined by one thing and that is his single-season saves mark that stood for eighteen seasons. In 1990, Bobby saved 57 games for a White Sox team that was 94-68. In the days of just two divisions, that mark left the Sox nine games behind Oakland, though the record would have won the East. Nonetheless, Bobby finished the season 4-6 with a 1.83 ERA. His 57 saves broke the previous mark of 46, set by Dave Righetti in 1986.

Bobby's record was broken by Francisco Rodriguez in 2008 when he saved 62 games for the Angels.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1991 Stadium Club, Andy Hawkins

#487 Andy Hawkins

I have posted a few Andy Hawkins cards recently that I got signed by the Royals parking lot last season while Andy was the bullpen coach for the Rangers. This one was also signed while Andy was the Rangers bullpen coach, but this one was signed back in 2012. For some reason, it was the only card of him that I took and he signed it before the game from the visiting team bullpen.

The last card of Andy that I posted shows him as a Yankee. His tenure with New York came to an end early in the 1991 season. He was released after starting the year 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA over four games, three of which were starts. Oakland picked him up and he fared much better with them. In fifteen games (fourteen starts), Andy was 4-4 with a 4.79 ERA and a complete game. However, it just was not enough for him to keep a job there and he was released towards the end of August. That was the end of Andy's pitching career.

For his career, Andy was 84-91 with a 4.22 ERA. He never made an All Star team, but he did pitch twelve relief innings of World Series baseball. All of those innings came in 1984 and he allowed just one earned run on four hits. He was 1-1 in that series.

Andy is still the Rangers bullpen coach.

I really love this inaugural Stadium Club set. Unfortunately, it was a little out of my price range in 1991 and I do not have many cards from the set. Because of that, this is just the second card from the set that I have got signed.

Monday, July 21, 2014

1991 Score, Franklin Stubbs

#59T Franklin Stubbs

Here is the second of three cards that Franklin Stubbs signed for me during Spring Training. The first one I posted can be seen here. It may be some time before the final one ever makes its way on here as it is an earlier card from the '80s.

But, this is the final card that I have to show from the Score Rookie and Traded set. As you might have guessed, all the cards from that set have this burnt pink border. I'm not sure if burnt pink is really a color, but that was the best I could come up with. The cards from the main set had a few different colors such as blue, green, white, and black. When I got this set originally, I expected to see the same variance out of it. That was not the case and I figure that Score wanted the traded set to stand out against the base set.

Franklin played just two seasons with the Brewers. His previous season in Houston, he had set career highs in home runs and RBI. In the two years with Milwaukee, he didn't hit as many home runs as he had in Houston and he just barely eclipsed his RBI total. Needless to say, after signing his largest contract to come to the team, his time with the Brewers was a bit of a disappointment.

Franklin spent all of the 1993 season in AAA' and '94 in Mexico, before re-emerging with the Tigers in 1995. That was his final season in the big leagues.

I have no clue what is going on with Franklin's signature. It is pretty unique and, from what I have seen, consistent. However, if you look at the signature on his Baseball Almanac page, it hasn't always been that way. It used to be longer and, while not readable, certainly more legible. There are some elements from the Baseball Almanac signature that carry over to his current signature, but not much.

Friday, July 18, 2014

1991 Score, Mike Boddicker

#45T Mike Boddicker

I believe that this is the fifth card of Mike Boddicker that I have posted on here. Like the previous four, this one was also obtained at Royals Fanfest. I got this one signed at the 2013 event.

Mike was a big acquisition for the Royals in 1991. Even though he was 34, he was coming off a 17-win season with the Red Sox. He took a big pay increase to come to Kansas City, but it unfortunately did not work out so well with the Royals. That first season, he finished 12-12 with a 4.08 ERA. He struck out only 79 batters and beaned a career high 13. In 1992, Mike started the season as a starter, but was moved to the bullpen after just two starts. He finished the season 1-4 with 3 saves and a 4.98 ERA. He was sold to the Brewers the following year.

Even though Mike's stint in Kansas City lasted only two seasons, it is awesome that he attends an occasional Fanfest. He is great to talk to and it is not uncommon to see him checking out other events going on in the convention center. I wish the Royals could get more guys there that were not lifelong Royals. A little variety is nice, especially when I go every year.

I got one other signed card of Mike from his Royals days and I must say that I like this one better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

1991 Score, Pete Incaviglia

#3T Pete Incaviglia

It has been almost five years since I last posted a card signed by Pete Incaviglia. I got a trio of cards signed by him in 2008 when he was managing the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association championship. Pete still manages in the Am-Ass, but he is now with the Laredo Lemurs. They are in the Southern Division, so I get the chance to see them play a few times in Wichita. That is how I got this card signed. Laredo made the trip to Wichita early in the season and I was able to get three more cards signed then.

Last time I got Pete to sign, I got Rangers, Astros, and Phillies cards signed by him. This time around, I was able to add him on a Tigers card. He also played for the Orioles and Yankees, but I do not have a card of him with either team. Since he only played five games for New York, there probably isn't even a card of him as a Yankee.

Pete had two stints with Detroit. The first one came in 1991 and lasted all of one season. That year, he hit just .214 in Motown while clubbing 11 home runs and driving in 38. He resurfaced in Detroit seven years later and went 1-14 before getting released.

As a college baseball fan, I have to point out that Pete is still the NCAA leader for home runs in a season (48) and career home runs (100). Even with the juiced bats from the late '90s and early 2000s, nobody could top Pete. With the way the college game is played right now, his records may never be broken.

For some reason, the signature on this card is a little off compared to the rest of my Pete signatures. The big looking "C" thing is not normal from him. When he was signing these cards, some guy was chatting him up and he may have been a little distracted at the time. None of the other cards he signed this go-around looked this way. But, I have seen some certified cards that look similar, so that may be a slower signature he uses rather than the rushed ballpark sig that I usually get from him.

I am hoping to see Pete again next month and was wondering if anyone might be able to help me out with a couple of cards. Pete has a couple of cards out that depict him as an Oriole and an Oklahoma State Cowboy and I would like these to add to my collection. If anyone has them and would like to trade, let me know.

1991 Score, Mike Benjamin

#345 Mike Benjamin

Here is the second and final card that Mike Benjamin signed for me on my most recent Spring Training trip. Mike was the assistant coach for Arizona State and I was able to get the cards signed before a game against Wichita State. The first card he signed can be seen here.

At the game, I noticed that Arizona State had on some funky uniforms. They had black jerseys and hats with burnt orange lettering. There was no maroon or yellow/gold anywhere to be seen. When Mike came over to sign, I asked him what was up with the orange lettering, he said "C'mon man, it's copper!". He then went on to explain that it was a university-wide rebranding that was going on that many of the alumni were not too thrilled with it. Apparently, even the football team had worn the colors the previous season.

Mike had a thirteen year Major League career with the Giants, Phillies, Red Sox, and Pirates. He was mainly used as a utility player and he played in more than 100 games in three of his last four seasons. Those were the only ones where he reached that plateau. For his career, Mike hit .229 with 24 home runs and 169 RBI. His best season probably came with the Sox in 1998 when he hit for career highs with a .272 average, 39 RBI, and 46 runs.

The Arizona State head coach resigned after this season and was replaced by Tracy Smith, from Indiana. It seems that Mike's services were no longer needed with the team.

It appears that Mike Benjamin does hold a Major League record. He has the most hits ever over a three game span. In 1995, he went 14-18 over three games to set the mark.

I really like the white bordered cards from this set. They are kind of rare as most of them have some sort of color to them. But the white ones just make them look the most normal. As for the most non-normal, just wait for the three cards coming from the Rookie and Traded set.

Monday, July 14, 2014

1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier, Alan Trammell

#123 Alan Trammell

Here is one of the cards that I got signed at Spring Training this year. Alan is the bench coach for the Diamondbacks and he signed before the team worked out the day I was there. Alan would only sign one per person and I had him sign a late-'80s Fleer All Star insert card. He kept singing, so I sent my kid up and he got this one signed. I told him he could have it, as Alan was quite a player during his day, but he declined.

I've posted a few times about 'graphing the Dodgers minor league complex, but this is the first card I have shown from the Diamondbacks facility. This was the day before the D-Backs left for Australia and I ended up getting quite a few autographs from the Major League players. I went over to the back fields to check out the minor league action and I came home empty-handed. Most of the Spring Training facilities I have visited in Arizona were the opposite away around where you had easy access to the minor leaguers, but not the big boys. Talking Stick was a nice surprise.

I got Trammell through the mail five years ago when he was with the Cubs and that card can be seen here. It is one of my many '81 Donruss signatures.

The D-Backs have the worst winning percentage in the National League right now. After their poor season last year, manager Kirk Gibson could be the first manager fired this year. If that were to happen, I wonder if Alan would be sent packing with him or possibly replace him.

On the eve of the All Star Game, I think it is right to mention that Alan was a six-time All Star.

Friday, July 11, 2014

1991 Line Drive, Kenny Lofton

#614 Kenny Lofton

Here is a card that was signed by Kenny Lofton at this year's College World Series. Kenny was signing at the Capital One booth and I was able to get a handful of cards signed there.

It amazes me how different the autograph lines are at the College World Series Fanfest. The main one is the AT&T booth. They have been there since I started going in 2008 and they always have the big names, though one year they were kind of lacking. Sometimes, other booths will have signings and they are completely different from the AT&T booth. On a Saturday and Sunday, you can only get through the AT&T booth one time. But, if you go to another booth, you can go through the line multiple times. This year, John Kruk signed at the AT&T booth one day and the Buick booth the next. Even though John will talk to you like he has known you for years, you were only going to get through the AT&T booth once whereas I could have gone through the Buick booth multiple times if I still had more cards to get signed. Not that it mattered for Kruk as I saw him sign eight cards for one guy.

I guess all I am saying is that I was able to get about six cards signed by Kenny because I was able to go through his non-AT&T line multiple times. It helped that he didn't really interact with the fans, which is obviously not a good thing. When I had him sign this card, I said "I bet you didn't spend much time in Tuscon". He just chuckled to himself and then said "no".

Turns out he did play 130 games for the Toros. Considering he skipped AA, that was way more than I thought.

This is the last of the Line Drive cards. For some reason, I got a bunch of 1991 cards signed over the last couple of years. I've been posting '91s since the beginning of June and I still have nine more to go.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1991 Line Drive, Leo Garcia

#256 Leo Garcia

Here is the second card that I got Leo Garcia to sign at Spring Training this year. Leo is the batting coach for the Dodgers Pioneer League team, the Ogden Raptors. He signed two cards for me and the first one can be seen here.

Since I could only find two minor league cards of Leo, I assumed that he never played in the Majors. WRONG! It turns out that Leo had two stints with the Reds in the late '80s. He got into 31 games in 1987 and went 6-30 with 8 runs, 2 RBI, and a home run. He got into 23 games the following year and was 4-28 with 2 runs and a double. For his career, Leo hit .172.

Speaking of being wrong, something funny happened to me the other day at a Wingnuts game. Earlier this year, the Sioux Falls Canaries had signed Chris Duffy and I had been planning on going to a game in Wichita to get some cards signed. And by Chris Duffy, I assumed that it was this Chris Duffy, the former Pirate.

Turns out that it was this Chris Duffy. See any differences?

Luckily, it was obvious that it was the wrong Chris Duffy and I did not make an ass out of myself.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

1991 Line Drive AAA, David Rosario

#215 David Rosario

Here is another Spring Training autograph from this year. This one features the former minor leaguer David Rosario. David is pitching coach for the Cubs Midwest League team, the Kane County Cougars, and he signed two cards for me after the minor leaguers worked out the day I was there. The other card he signed was this same card. So, if anyone needs it, let me know.

David played most of his minor league career in the Cubs organization. He started off going 3-10 in his initial minor league season as mainly a starter. After that, he worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen and he gradually worked his way up the ladder. He reached AAA in his fifth season as a pro, but he never got the promotion to the Majors.

He pitched five seasons in AAA, with three different organizations, before retiring after the 1993 season. He made a brief comeback in 1998 in the Atlantic League and a briefer one again in 2001. My guess is that he was a pitching coach at the time and stepped in when the team was hurting for pitching. I saw the Wingnuts do that a couple of years ago with their pitching coach. If that was indeed the case, his Atlantic League teams fared much better with him than the Wingnuts did.

When I got this card signed, David had to think for a bit about how he should sign it. He obviously went the vertical route.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

1991 Line Drive AAA, Razor Shines

#194 Razor Shines

Seeing this card makes me realize that Impel got a little carried away with their "Pre-Rookie" label for this set. By the time these cards came out, Razor Shines Major League career was over. He had made his Major League debut eight years earlier and then played in his final game in 1987. I realize that the "Pre-Rookie" label is part of the card and cannot be taken away from certain player's cards. Maybe they should have just dropped the label for the AAA set.

Razor signed this card, and one other, for me on this years Spring Training trip to Arizona. He is the manager of the Dodgers AA team in Chattanooga and he signed for me after the minor leaguers morning practice.

Razor played in the minors for sixteen seasons and nine of them were spent with the Indianapolis Indians. That has got to be some kind of modern day record. Even when the Indians changed affiliation from the Expos to the Reds in 1993, Razor stayed with the club. He ranks fifth in games played for the franchise, third in home runs, fourth in doubles, and second in RBI. The Indians all-time leader in games and RBI played for the club ninety years ago.

The Indians hosted "Razor Shines Day" in 1993 and there is apparently a suite named after him at Victory Field. The Indians even gave out a bobblehead of him in 2003.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

1991 Line Drive, Mike Butcher

#428 Mike Butcher

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game last summer. Mike is the pitching coach for the Angels and he was nice enough to sign a couple of cards for me before the game.

Mike seems to have a friend that lives around Kansas City because I was able to get the cards signed as they were talking it up by the fence. I mention that because he did it again this past Sunday. It looked like Mike was getting interviewed on the Angels pregame show and then he went into the camera bay area and talked up his friend for a good twenty minutes. I would have got some more cards signed then, but I got them all signed last year. I apparently need more Mike Butcher cards as he is an easy autograph in Kansas City.

Looking at Mike's minor league stats, I am surprised that he ever made it past AA. He spent three seasons in the Texas League and he posted ERA's of 6.55, 6.21, and 5.22. I guess getting his ERA under six earned him a promotion to AAA. He responded there with a 3.07 ERA and stint with the big league club. Shows how much I know.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

1991 Line Drive AA, Dave Jorn

#25 Dave Jorn

Here is a card that I unexpectedly got signed in Manhattan, Kansas last year. Dave is the pitching coach for Arkansas and they made the trip north to play in the Regional hosted by Kansas State. Since it was the first Regional ever hosted by K-State, I bought session passes and then reworked my work schedule to make most of the games. Before leaving town, I checked the coaching staffs to the non-Kansas schools and found that Dave had a card that I actually had in my collection. How about that? I was able to get the card signed on the first day of action before the Razorbacks were upset by Bryant.

Dave pitched in the minors for White Sox and Cardinals for six seasons. He was mainly used as a starter and made it all the way to AAA. He didn't do too well at that level in his nine starts and he retired after the 1981 season. He started coaching at Arkansas in 1983 and was their pitching coach for six seasons. He left the college game to join the Yankees minor league coaching staff in 1989. He stayed a minor league coach/manager through 2001 and then rejoined the Arkansas staff in 2003 and has been there ever since.

Some of the Arkansas pitchers to work under Dave include Dallas Keuchel, Drew Smyly, and Duke Welker.

I have no idea who Bob Mariano is and I have not yet taken the time to look him up. But if anyone has any clues, please let me know as I would love to get this card completed.

This is the third straight Yankees card that I have posted. That may never happen again.

Update: Bob apparently is the manager for the Fresno Grizzlies. I have sent out one TTM request to a AAA manager this year and have not received it back yet. What should I do? Do I send it out and try to get it completed or just keep it as it is? I'm leaning with testing my luck.