Saturday, February 28, 2015

2005 Bowman, Cole Armstrong

#195 Cole Armstrong

Here is another card that I got signed at a Wingnuts game in 2013. Cole was playing for the 'Nuts that season and I was able to get him to sign this card prior to a mid-season game.

Bowman cards are awesome for Wingnut games. Eighty percent of the time, if I have a card to get signed there of a player, it is a Bowman. Tristar and Topps minor league cards make up about eighteen percent with the last two percent being assorted cards. So, if it was not for Bowman, I probably would not go to as many Wingnut games.

Cole played in the minor leagues for eleven seasons. Originally drafted by the Braves, he played in their system for three seasons before being drafted by the White Sox in the minor league portion of the Rule V Draft. He then played for the Sox for five seasons. He played AAA one year, but spent the majority of the time at the AA level. He even played one full year of AA after his AAA season. He then played one year of AAA for the Angels and then one for the Marlins. He found himself in the American Association in 2013, his last season of pro ball.

I actually bought this card of Cole in 2010, three years before he became a Wingnut. He was playing for the Birmingham Barons the year I went down to see the Rickwood Classic. I was unable to get the card signed then, but it worked out when he came to Wichita.

Friday, February 27, 2015

2005 Bazooka, Angel Berroa

#BB-AB Angel Berroa

Here is the second card that Angel Berroa signed for me at a Wingnuts game in 2012. Angel was playing for the New Jersey Jackals at the time. Back then, the American Association and Can-Am League each had an odd number of teams in the league. To overcome that, they had one interleague series going on all season, just like the Major Leagues do now. That is why the Jackals were in Wichita. I posted the first card Angel signed for me about a month ago and it can be seen here.

Angel played for the Royals for parts of seven seasons. He spent his first two seasons in Kansas City as a September call-up. He then broke camp with the club in 2003 and went on to have his best season. He hit .287 with 17 home runs and 73 RBI, all career bests. Those number earned him American League Rookie of the Year honors and the Royals gave him a contract extension and a hefty raise.

Angel played decently for the next two seasons, hitting .262 and .270 with 19 home runs. But his average slipped to .234 in 2006. In 2007, he spent the majority of the season in AAA. I actually got to see him play in Omaha that summer and I told my friend that he was the highest paid player in the minor leagues. I have no idea whether that was true or not, but he was making about $7 million that season.

Here he is coming off of the field at the game I was at.

I always thought it was weird that the Omaha Royals home and road jerseys both said Omaha on them.

Anyway, Angel started off in Omaha again in 2008 and played there before finally getting dealt to the Dodgers in June.

I like this card. It might not have been the best card to get signed, but for about $1.25, I am not going to complain. I miss the Bazooka sets. They were cheap and great for autographs.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2004 Upper Deck, Lincoln Holdzkom

#511 Lincoln Holdzkom

Here is the second of three cards that Lincoln signed for me at a Wingnuts game in 2013. The first one was posted last week and should be just a couple of posts down from this one.

In the previous post, I talked about Lincoln's time with the Marlins. Things were on the up-and-up for him until he hurt his arm and missed all of the 2004 season. The Fish cut him loose after 12 appearances in 2005.

The Cubs took a flyer on him the next year and he split time between their Rookie, High-A, and AA teams. He spent the most time at AA and went 2-3 with a 1.95 ERA over 32.1 innings. But, he struck out just 27 batters compared to 74 in 57 innings the season before his surgery. The Cubs let him go after that season and Lincoln caught on with Boston for the 2007 campaign.

Lincoln pitched in the Red Sox organization for two seasons and spent most of it in AAA. In his initial run at that level, he had a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings of work. But, his ERA ballooned to 5.33 the following season and the Sox let him go. He played one more year of AA in the Pirates organization before hanging them up.

Monday, February 23, 2015

2004 Topps Total, Jeremy Guthrie

#757 Jeremy Guthrie

Here is a card of a current Royal that I got signed at Royals Fanfest last year. To date, that is the only time that I have got any 'graphs from him, but I did get three signed that day. I got this Indians card, an Orioles card, and a Royals card. I still have a Rockies card that I need signed.

Jeremy Guthrie, aka "The Real J-Guts", was drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 2002 draft out of Stanford. He pitched in their system for just a few seasons before making his Major League debut with the Tribe in 2004. He made appearances with the club over three seasons, but never started a game and never pitched more than 20 innings in a season. With Cleveland, Jeremy was 0-0 with a 6.08 ERA. He was claimed off waivers by the Orioles prior to the 2007 season.

Jeremy is a unique individual. Though he has made millions of dollars as a professional ballplayer, he routinely arrives at the ballpark in his Toyota Prius or Chevy Volt. Those vehicles tend to look out of place in the Royals parking lot where a majority of the players drive pimped-out SUVs or jacked-up trucks.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2004 Topps Cracker Jack, Kenny Lofton

#28 Kenny Lofton

Here is the fourth card that I have posted from the Kenny Lofton signing at the College World Series Fanfest last year. Kenny was signing at the Capital One booth and I was able to make it through the line several times. Because of that, this is not the last of the cards that Kenny signed for me that day. I think that there is still one more to post.

The last card I posted of Kenny was of him as an Indian, the team I think of when I think of him. After his final season in Cleveland in 2001, Kenny became quite the journeyman. He played six more seasons after that and managed to play on nine different teams. He played for the White Sox, Giants, Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Rangers, and finished up an Indian. He played in the postseason every year during that journey, except for 2005.

Kenny spent all of the 2004 season with the Yankees. He got into 83 games that season and he hit .275. He stole a career low 7 bases that season. In the playoffs, the Yankees went to the ALCS and Kenny played in four games in the two series. He hit .285 that postseason with a home run and a stolen base.

After the season, Kenny was traded to the Phillies for Felix Rodriguez.

I like this set. I know you cannot tell by the scan, but this card is a mini. The weird thing about the card is that the text is upside down on the back. Are all of the cards from this set like that?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2004 Topps, Lincon Holdzkom

#T202 Lincoln Holdzkom

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2013. Lincoln was playing for the 'Nuts and I got the cards signed prior to a game early that season. Lincoln was impressed to see some old cards of himself and stated that they were from "back when he was going places".

Lincoln was drafted by the Fish on the seventh round of the 2001 draft. In 2003, the year before this card came out, he split the season between A ball and high A. He finished the season 1-6 with 6 saves and a 2.89 ERA. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen and struck out 94 batters in just 71.2 innings. I am sure it was those strikeout numbers that prompted Topps to put out this card.

Unfortunately, Lincoln missed the entire 2004 season. So, when this card came out, he wasn't even playing. He came back in 2005 and was only able to appear in 12 games, which were split between the Gulf Coast League and the Florida State League. In the FSL, he pitched 9.1 innings and struck out 9 with a 5.79 ERA.

The Marlins released him after that season.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2004 SP Prospects, Brett Hayes

#NH-BH Brett Hayes

Here is a card of Brett Hayes that I got signed at Royals Fanfest last year. The set-up for Fanfest last year was less than ideal. The set-up for this year looked nearly identical which led to me not attending Fanfest for the first time. But, the one bright spot to Fanfest last year was the final signing of the evening. By that time, the autograph lines had thinned out immensely. Because of that, we were able to hit up four of the six lines they had. Prior to that, you could not go through more than one line per session. Brett was in the second line that we hit as we criss-crossed Bartle Hall to end the long day.

Brett was the Royals back-up catcher last season. Or at least he was until they acquired Eric Kratz from the Blue Jays. He got into 27 games and hit .135 with a home run and 2 RBI.

It looks like Brett is going to be playing for the Indians this season.

I only have three cards from this set that are signed. One of the other ones just happens to be another jersey card from this insert set. It is of Luke Hochevar. You cannot beat a signed jersey card, especially when you can pick one up for about a buck.

2004 Grandstand New Britain Rock Cats, Pat Neshek

#22 Pat Neshek

Here is one of my more recent autograph additions. Last month, I sent Pat his 2014 Topps Update All Star card to get signed. Since Pat is an autograph collector himself, I included three random autos with the card. I am pretty sure the ones I included were doubles that I got signed at Wingnuts games that were either on Bowman or Tri Star cards. In exchange for those cards, Pat sent me three signed minor league cards of him and signed my '14 Topps.

That is just the way Pat Neshek rolls. If you want an autograph from him, send him a card. He will sign it. Do you not own a card of him? That is not a problem either. Just send him any signed card and he will trade you for a signed card of him. Pat is by far and away the best current player in the autograph community. He is the best of all that greats that have come before him all rolled into one. He truly is an asset that everyone should take advantage of at least once. This just happened to be the second time that I have written to him. The first card I sent him was an '08 Allen and Ginter.

Like I said, Pat collects autographed cards. He recently finished a complete signed set from 1985 Topps. He is currently working on the '70 Topps set and the 2006 and '07 Topps 52 Rookies sets. You can see how he is doing on those sets, and possibly help him out, but checking out his website, On The Road With Pat Neshek. You can also follow him on Twitter: @PatNeshek.

Speaking of Twitter, I finally caved in and jumped on board. You can follow me @zmills40.

With pitchers and catchers about to report, now would be a good time to send out a card to Pat. He is with the Astros this year, so send your cards to Kissimmee, Florida.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2004 Bowman, Mitch Einertson

#BDP106 Mitch Einertson

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wingnuts game in 2012. Mitch was playing for the Nuts at the time and he signed it for me prior to the start of an early season game. He seemed to get a kick out of seeing this card. Apparently, this photo was taken outside of a West Virginia motel at 8:30 in the morning. Mitch said that he was wearing an old school orange Astros hat that Topps airbrushed over. I had no idea that Topps took pictures for their cards outside of motels. I guess that can explain the lack of a backdrop.

Mitch was drafted in the fifth round by the Astros out of high school in 2004. He played in their system for six seasons, reaching as high as AA. Mitch hit .261 over two seasons at AA before getting released. After that, he landed in the independent leagues. He started out in the Golden League before hitting up the North American League. He then ended up in the American Association, where he spent parts of three seasons. In his span in the Am-Ass, he played with Wichita, El Paso, and Fargo-Moorehead. It appears that Mitch is now retired as he did not play professionally in 2014.

For some reason, Mitch is listed as a second baseman on this card. Mitch never played second base professionally. He was an outfielder, but did get into the infield twice in his career- once at first and once at short.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

2004 Bowman, Roman Colon

#BDP30 Roman Colon

Here is a card that I got signed in 2012 in Oklahoma City. I was bored on a day off, so I went down to OKC since that was the closest pro ballgame being played. The Redhawks were hosting the Omaha Storm Chasers and we spent the entire time 'graphing the Chasers side since they are the Royals' AAA affiliate.

Roman was playing for the Chasers at the time and it was a struggle to get this card signed. He was practically standing right next to me when I asked him to sign and he told me that he would not since he got me the day before outside of the park. Since I wasn't even in Oklahoma the day before, I told him that he must have mistaken me for someone else. He was pretty sure it was me, but after some back and forth from me and my future wife, he finally came over and signed my two cards.

There is nothing like having to beg for an auto from Roman Colon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2003 Upper Deck Vintage, Phil Nevin

#135 Phil Nevin

Here is the third and final card that Phil Nevin signed for me at Spring Training last year. Phil is the manager of the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate. He signed the cards for me after working out some of the Major Leaguers on the infield practice field. You can see the first card that he signed for me here and the second one here. You can see the very first Phil Nevin card that I posted here. That one was given to my by Rod, from Padrographs.

For whatever reason, I really liked this set when it came out. I had just graduated from college and I bought a lot of this set and the '03 Topps Fan Favorites packs. I had not discovered Topps Heritage yet, so this set seemed to fill that void. It is strange that I liked those sets then as they would not intrigue me that much if they came out now. I might buy a few packs of these, but I would stay away from Fan Favorites since there were no current players in the set. As an autograph collector, I would much rather get cards signed that were made during a player's playing days than something that was put out after his career was over.

But, that was not always the case. When I first got back into TTMing in 2008, I sent out three cards to former players from this set- Bobby Doerr, Jim Bunning, and George Kell. I just finally got around to finding a Bobby Doerr card from his playing days and got that one signed last month.

On an unrelated note, I must say that I have always loved the Padres camoflaged jerseys. It seems that anymore, just about everyone wears a camo jersey at some point. But that might not have ever been the case if the Padres had not started doing it on a regular basis. In 2001, I made my lone voyage to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. One of the things that intrigued me enough to snap a non-digital picture of it was a Padres camo jersey. Check it out!

How cool is it that that just happens to be Phil Nevin's jersey?

Monday, February 9, 2015

2003 Upper Deck First Pitch, Bengie Molina

#35 Bengie Molina

Back-to-back Angel catchers posts? What is this world coming to?

Yesterday, I posted a card of an Angel backstop that was a September call-up for the club in 2003. Here is the guy that got the bulk of the time behind the dish. What other guys caught for the Halos that year? Bengie's brother Jose and Shawn "Rootin'" Wooten. I am not if that was Shawn's nickname, but it sounded good.

I got this card signed at a Spring Training game last year in Surprise, Arizona. Bengie was the Rangers first base coach last season and I was lucky enough to get him to sign one of my three cards that I had. I did not do too well on the Rangers side as the only other sig I got was from Martin Perez. But, since I had never got an auto from Bengie, I was happy to add a new one to the collection.

Bengie played in the Majors for parts of 13 seasons with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants, and Rangers. He was a .274 career hitter with 144 home runs. Though he never made an All Star team, he did win two Gold Glove Awards. His best season at the plate was in 2008 with the Giants when he hit 16 home runs and had career-highs in average (.292) and RBI (95).

With Ron Washington's departure from the team, it appears that Bengie lost his coaching job.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2003 Upper Deck Finite, Tom Gregorio

#285 Tom Gregorio

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2013 when the Angels were in town. It was a slow day on the 'graphing front as all I got were Tom and the Angels pitching coach, Mike Butcher. Tom is the Angels bullpen catcher.

When people think of current bullpen catchers that played in the Majors, I am sure most people think of Jason Phillips (Mariners) and Mark Salas (White Sox). But, it turns out that Tom Gregorio got a cup of coffee in 2003 with the Halos. Though he was never much of a hitter (.242 in the minors), Tom was a September call-up that year. He made his Major League debut against the Royals as a ninth inning defensive replacement. He made his first start the next day in game two of a doubleheader. In his first big league at-bat, he hit a single off of Royals starter, Jamey Wright. He added one more single that day to finish 2-3.

He would get just one more hit the rest of the month, finishing the season at .158. He added a run and two RBI, as well. That was it for Tom's Major League career.

Tom has been the Angels bullpen coach since 2011.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2003 Upper Deck 40 Man, Bruce Chen

#358 Bruce Chen

I posted a card of Bruce as a Phillie about a month ago. Now, here is one of him with the Astros. Both cards were signed on the same day. It was at my first Royals game of the season last year, which happened to be an Autograph Afternoon game. Little did I know that day that my final Royals game of the year was going to be game one of the World Series.

Bruce's tenure with the Astros lasted all of eleven games in 2003. He was used exclusively out of the bullpen and he threw 12 innings and did not record a decision. He struck out 8 and walked just as many. His ERA was 6.00. The Red Sox claimed him off of waivers in May and he finished the season in Boston. I could not find a card of Bruce as a Sox player.

So, to date, I have now have posted Bruce Chen with the Astros, Phillies, Braves, and Orioles. Still to come are the Rangers and Royals cards of him. I know that there are some Reds and Expos cards of Bruce. But, since he no longer plays with the Royals (or maybe at all), I doubt I will ever add those autographed cards to my collection.

This card is from Upper Deck 40 Man's Rainbow parallel set. It is numbered 9/40.

If you are into patches, this one has a nice shot of the Columbia patch worn by the Astros in 2003.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2003 Fleer Tradition, Jason Giambi

#123 Jason Giambi

A few months ago, I posted a Jason Giambi autograph that I picked up from COMC for just under four bucks. I bought that card to make up for not getting a card signed by him in 2000. It turns out that I wasted my money. At a Royals game in early 2013, Jason was nice enough to sign for me again. This time, I got cards signed. Being the nice guy that Jason is, he signed all three for me.

Jason spent seven seasons with the Yankees. During that time, he made three All Star teams and had two 40 home run and three 100 RBI seasons. He went to the playoffs five times, but only made it out of the Division Series once. That was in 2003 when the Yankees progressed to the World Series, only to lose to the Marlins.

Jason has spent the last two seasons playing in a limited role with the Indians. He hit only .133 last year and it appears that his career is over. According to an article, the Indians do want to keep him with the organization, just not as a player. As for the role he would take on if he takes them up on the offer, it did not specify.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2003 Fleer Box Score, Kevin Hooper

#142 Kevin Hooper

Here is the third Kevin Hooper card that I have posted on here. The first two were both acquired in 2010 and were posted that year. This one was acquired at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2012. Kevin is the team's skipper and has been since their second season.

I do not get this set. It could be a neat concept if done correctly. But I do not get putting a random box score on a card and putting a random player on it and thinking that is a great idea. Never mind the fact that Kevin never played a Major League game as a Marlin. But, it appears that the box score on this card is from a Braves/Phillies game. How is that even relevant?

Kevin has managed the Nuts since 2009. Over that time, he has a .613 winning percentage. He has lead the team to the American Association finals in each of the past three years, winning it all last season. Strangely enough, the team won three different divisions with Hoop at the helm. They won the North in 2009, the Central from 2011-13, and the South in 2014. With all of the changes in teams, mainly the loss of southern teams, Wichita has gradually gravitated to the Southern Division. You have got to love independent baseball!

Monday, February 2, 2015

2003 Bowman, Eric Crozier

#203 Eric Crozier

Here is another card that was sent to me by Ryan, from The Great Orioles Autograph Project. He sent the cards to me almost two years ago and I am still going through them on here.

When I got this card, I had no idea who Eric Crozier was. The name sounded familiar, but I still have no idea why. I figured that this was one of the many Bowman prospects cards of a player that spent his entire career in the minor leagues. That is not the case for Eric. Though the majority of his career was spent in the minors, he did get a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays in 2004.

Originally drafted by the Indians in the 41st round of the 2000 draft, Eric moved steadily up the Indians organizational ladder. By 2004, he had hit AAA and was doing well. In 84 games for the Buffalo Bisons, Eric hit .297 with 20 home runs and 53 RBI. He was then dealt to the Blue Jays just after the trade deadline and reported to their AAA affiliate in Syracuse. Though he hit just 1 home run over the final 25 games of the season, the Blue Jays still thought he deserved a look at The Show and brought him up as a September call-up.

Eric made his Major League debut on September 4th as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth. With the Jays down 9-5, Eric pinch hit for Orlando Hudson with two outs and no one on. He struck out looking to Chris Hammond. Eric struck out quite a few times in his month in the Majors, 19 times in 33 at-bats to be exact. But he did bang out 5 hits, 4 of them for extra bases including 2 home runs. He finished his Major League career at the end of the month as a .152 hitter.

Eric played pro ball for eleven seasons. Most players that play that long get caught up in AAA. Eric spent most of his time in AA and the independent leagues. What kept him down was his strikeouts. He had 1121 K's in the minors compared to just 962 hits. But, he did make it to The Show and that is worth something.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wallet card and cheap gas

Stopped and got some gas on the way home from the Super Bowl party. Lil' Mack likes what he sees. Thank you Dillons Plus Card!!

2002 Upper Deck Vintage, David Espinosa

#260 David Espinosa

This is probably going to be the last Danny Espinosa card that I will ever post. This is the fourth or fifth one that I have got signed and I do not see myself going out of my way to buy any more cards of him.

This card, however, did not cost me a thing. A few years back, one of my employees had a brother that died in a car accident. When going through his things, she found some cards. Since she didn't know anybody else that had anything to do with cards, she offered them to me. Being that it was me or the dumpster, I gladly accepted them. There were only a couple hundred of them, mostly of mid-90s junk. But, there was a healthy stack of cards from this set.

If you have never seen this set before, it was basically Upper Deck's version of 1971 Topps. The stack included a little bit of everything, from your commons to semi-stars to stars to a Fred Lynn jersey card.

In 2012, I was going to a Kansas City T-Bones game to get a Frank White Bobblehead. They were hosting the Lincoln Saltdogs and Danny was playing for them at the time. He signed this card for me before the game. To date, this is the only card from my employees brother's collection that I have got signed. While it was a very tragic way for me to acquire cards, I am glad she kept me in mind and that I put one to good use.

David Espinosa has been a mainstay in the American Association since 2008. He has played for the AirHogs, Saltdogs, T-Bones, and Wingnuts. He was a big contributor for Wichita when they picked him up mid-season last year. In 36 regular season games with the Nuts, David hit .338 with 6 home runs and 22 RBI.

David was only 32 years-old when this last season ended and he has already played in 1500+ minor league games.