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.