Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Card Room

A few weeks back, My Cardboard Habit announced a contest for collectors to show off their card room. I was really excited to enter, but not quite ready at the time.

Back in November, we purchased our first house. One of the selling points on the house we bought, for me at least, was a room in the basement that I claimed for my card room. Unfortunately, there were some dumb things going on in that room that needed to be addressed before I could get all moved in and the work took much longer than I anticipated. Luckily, I got all of the hard stuff done and now I just need to finish decorating. So, my room is still a work in progress.

Since this post is about cards, let's start with how I store my cards. Last year, I had some time off after the birth of my son and I used that time to construct this shelf.

More importantly, the time off gave me an opportunity to get all of my older cards sorted by year and brand. So, the whole top shelf, and part of the bottom, is dedicated to cards of retired players. On the bottom shelf is where most of my cards of active players are, sorted by team. Since I am an autograph collector, it is easier for me to get ready to 'graph a Major League game if I can find the majority of the cards I need in one spot. That is why I split up my cards by retired and active players. In the shoe boxes are cards I need to sort still and all of my relic cards. On top of the shelves is ample space for me to get cards sorted.

Opposite my shelves is my computer desk. I have had this cheap thing since my college days, but it still gets the job done for me. The four binders hold the prizes of my collection, all of my autographed cards. I really need to start a fifth binder, but I am not sure it will fit in the space provided.

On top of the desk is some of my books and my scorebooks. Above the desk are my signed pictures that I always get at the College World Series. I only hang the Hall of Famers up there. So far I have Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Barry Larkin, Ozzie Smith, and Dennis Eckersly hung up. I still need to hang John Smoltz, Frank Thomas, Dave Winfield, and, later this summer, Ivan Rodriguez. I just need to buy some more picture frames first.

On the wall between my cards and desk is a map of all of the ballparks I have visited. When I first started this blog, I was using it just to get familiar with Blogger. Ultimately, I wanted to start a blog about my ballpark visits. Eight years later, this blog is still rolling along and the ballpark blog never came to be. Nevertheless, I still love checking out ballparks and this map is a great to show where I have been.

To the right of my desk are my display cases that have all of my signed baseballs and other things. The metal case is an old Oakley display case and it features balls signed by Hall of Famers on the top two shelves. The top shelf has balls signed by Tom Lasorda, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Gaylord Perry, and Harmon Killebrew. The second shelf has balls signed by Cal Ripken Jr. (two balls), Frank Thomas, Dennis Eckersly. The Royals helmet is signed by Billy Butler. The third shelf has a hat signed by Eli Manning and a helmet signed by Collin Klein. Those are the only football related things in this room. The bottom shelf has a ball signed by Buck O'Neil and a seat bottom from Rosenblatt Stadium, the longtime home to the College World Series.

Leaning on that case are four bats. I still have not figured out how I want to display these in my room. Hopefully, they will not stay like they are for long. The highlights of those bats is the one signed by Andre Dawson.

Next to the Oakley case is more shelves of balls. There are a random assortment of signed balls, game-used balls, and team-signed balls, as well as some some stuff from my Army days and binders of cards from my youth.

On the wall next to the signed ball is my signed Irving Falu Spring Training jersey. I picked that up at Royals Fanfest one year for ten bucks. I then got it signed, I think, at an Iowa Cubs game when the Omaha Stormchasers were in town. My wife gave the frame to me as a Christmas gift three years ago and it just leaned against a wall at our old rental until we moved here.

On the wall above my card shelves are all of my bobbleheads and other knickknacks I have accumulated over the years. All of the full size bobble heads are stadium giveaways and they are mostly from games I attended.

The last things to show in the room are my pride and joy. These are my stadium seats from Tiger Stadium. I purchased these in 2006 when they started to dismantle Tiger Stadium. They set me back $300, but I was single and in the Army at the time, so I had the money to blow. Today, that price seems like a steal. I think the Yankees and Mets were charging around a grand for their seats when they got new parks. Even the Royals charged $500 when they removed seats from Kauffman during their renovation. I love The K, but there was so much more history associated with Tiger Stadium.

So, that is my card room. Like I said, it is still a work in progress as I have more wall space that I need to fill. But, I am able to go through cards easily and that is the main point of the room. Thanks for taking a look.

1981 Donruss, Tom Griffin

#75 Tom Griffin

This is the card from Tom Griffin that I got signed through the mail about a year ago. I sent this card to Tom last January and I got it back nine days later.

Tom pitched in the Major Leagues for fourteen seasons with the Astros, Padres, Angels, Giants, and Pirates. He spent his first seven and a half years in Houston before starting to jump around a bit in the second half of his career. He both started and relieved throughout his career and amassed a 77-94 record with 5 saves and a 4.07 ERA.

Tom's best season was his rookie campaign when he went 11-10 with a 3.54 ERA and 200 strikeouts. Those 200 Ks were ninety more than he would ever get in any other single season.

Tom also had a little pop in his bat. Though he was just a .163 hitter, he did smack 10 home runs during his career. Two of those came off of Hall of Fame pitchers Fergie Jenkins and Steve Carlton.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #184

Sunday, January 29, 2017

1981 Donruss, Steve Garvey

#56 Steve Garvey

Next up is this Steve Garvey card that I got signed through the mail in 2013. I did not have this card of Steve, so I picked up up from Sportlots for $.18. Steve charges for his signature, but I had no problem paying the small fee to get this card signed. Steve has one more card in the set that I also need to get signed now. It took Steve just two weeks to get this card back to me.

Steve was winding down his career when I first heard of him. In fact, when I think of Steve Garvey, I think of his '85 Topps record breaker card from his days with the Padres. But, of course, he spent the better portion of his career with the Dodgers. And he had some monstrous seasons with them.

With Los Angeles, Steve had five seasons with 20+ home runs AND 100+ RBI. Plus, he hit over .300 in all of those seasons except for one in which he hit a meager .297. That happened to be the '77 season when he had career highs in both homers (33) and RBI (115). During his time with the Dodgers, he made eight straight All Star teams and he went to four World Series. Then, with San Diego, he made two more All Star teams and appeared in one more World Series.

During his career, Steve won two All Star Game MVPs, two NLCS MVPs, four Gold Gloves, and the 1974 National League MVP.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #183

Saturday, January 28, 2017

1981 Donruss Bert Campaneris

#50 Bert Campaneris

I had met Bert twice in person at events held by the Kansas City T-Bones. Those events were about eight years ago and, while I got cards signed by Bert, I did not get his '81 Donruss signed. Most of my '81 D were bought in an unopened box back in 2008. Since the cards were twenty-seven years old, and Donruss put gum in their inaugural packs, each pack had one card with a peice of gum glued to the front of it. Of course, the only card of Bert in that box had gum on it. So, I had to buy this card and get it signed through the mail. I did that in 2014 and got the card back two months later.

Yesterday, I went to Royals Fanfest. While I was able to get in some autograph lines, unlike last year, I still did not do very well. I came home with just eleven cards signed by five guys. That hardly justifies the $45 it costs to get the family in the doors. If I would have got Salvador Perez, it would have been a good day. Instead I got Ned Yost, Scott Alexander, Chris Young, Rex Hudler, and Hunter Dozier. Out of those, Hunter was the only one that I did not have anything signed by. We missed out on all the big name players and did not even see any Royals alumni signing.

While I have always criticized the Royals for how they run their autograph lines at Fanfest, they seem to get worse and worse every year. For starters, you have to get in one of five lines and hope for the best. They do not tell you who is signing where or when. It's a crapshoot. Then, they only allow 150 people in that line. We got to Fanfest as it opened and headed for the furthest line from the door. When we got there, the 2:30 line was full already. So, we got in the 3:30 line. Perez signed for the 2:30 crowd and we got Dozier at 3:30.

After we got Dozier, we got back in line. Of course, the 4:30 was full already, so we got in the 5:30. Scott Alexander signed at 4:30 and a third of the people in line jumped out to hope for a better person in whatever line they could get in. Did they let more people in line to make up for the mass exodus? Of course not. That would have made too much sense. So, Scott signed for everybody in his line in a mere twenty minutes compared to the fifty-five minutes it took for Sal to sign for his line.

Since I have cards signed by all the big name Royals except for Perez, I would have been more than happy picking off some of the younger or newer guys that aren't as popular. But, since they only sign for the people that made it into the line before it got closed off, whether those people stay in that line or not, that is impossible to do. The lesser known guys sign for the people in less than twenty minutes and then pop smoke and vanishes.

Less than five years ago, we used to be able to hit up more than one line per session. Yesterday, we were doing good just to get in a line for every other session.

"81 Donruss Tracker: #182

Thursday, January 26, 2017

1981 Donruss, Ed Farmer

#40 Ed Farmer

If you haven't figured it out yet, nearly all of these '81 Donruss I am going to be posting for the next couple of months were signed through the mail. It has been a few years since I got one of these bad boys signed at a game. I have two to post that I got signed at the College World Series and four that my wife bought me. The rest were all signed TTM, just like this one was. I sent this card to Ed in 2013 and I had it back two and a half weeks later.

Ed had a long professional career. He started playing in 1967 and his last season was 1986. During his two decades of pro ball, he pitched in the Majors for parts of eleven seasons with eight different teams- the Indians, Tigers, Phillies, Orioles, Brewers, Rangers, White Sox, and A's. Some of his stints were so short with a few of those teams that he doesn't even have a major card for half of them.

Ed pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen throughout his big league career. During that time, he racked up a 30-43 record with 75 saves and a 4.30 ERA. He never really had a defined role with a club until he was traded to the White Sox in the middle of the 1979 season.

His time on the south side lasted two and a half years and Ed made the most of it. He got into 42 games in the second half of the '79 season and he responded with a 2.43 ERA and 14 saves. In 1980, he had a 3.34 ERA and recorded a career-high 30 saves. The 30 saves was third in the league behind Goose Gossage and Dan Quisenberry, who each had 33. Ed made his lone All Star team that season.

Ed's ERA ballooned to 4.61 in 1981 and his saves dropped to 10 and the Sox let him walk after the season was over. But, over those two and a half seasons in Chicago, Ed had a 13-19 record with 54 saves and a 3.31 ERA.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #181

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1981 Donruss, John Stearns

#35 John Stearns

Here is another through the mail request that I sent out in 2014. If I remember correctly, John was working with the Tacoma Rainiers at the time. I sent this card to him at the tail end of the season and I got it back a week later.

John played in the Major Leagues for eleven seasons. After being the number two pick in the 1973 draft, John made his Major League debut with the Phillies the following year. He got into just one game for them and went 1-2. The Phils traded him to the Mets after that season and John would go on to spend the rest of his career with them. During that time, he was the team's primary catcher from 1977-1982 and he had a .259 average with 46 home runs and 312 RBI as a Met.

His best season was the 1978 campaign. That year, John hit .264 with career-highs in home runs (15), RBI (73), and stolen bases (25). John made four All Star teams with the Mets, but he did not make the '78 team.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #180

Sunday, January 22, 2017

1981 Donruss, Jim Kern

#27 Jim Kern

Here is the second card of Jim Kern that I got signed through the mail last spring. The first one was his '77 Topps that I posted last month. But we all know that the '81D was the real reason I wrote to Jim and I must say that this card came out looking much better than the '77. Nothing against Topps, but that dark jacket Jim was wearing in the photo was what did that one in. The blue Sharpie stands out much better over the baby blue road jersey on this card. Let's just face the facts- you cannot beat a signed '81 Donruss.

Jim pitched with the Rangers for just three seasons. He made the All Star team his first year there to cap off three straight appearances. That season, he was lights out. He finished the season 13-5 with 29 saves, a 1.57 ERA, and 136 strikeouts. His relief efforts won him tops honors for American League relievers that season.

Unfortunately, he would only pitch about half as many innings the next season and he would never go on to record double-digit saves in a season ever again. He did, however, pitch for nine more seasons, but was never able to recreate the success he had with the Rangers in 1979.

Jim finished his career 53-57 with 88 saves and a 3.32 ERA.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #179

Friday, January 20, 2017

1981 Donruss, Bruce Bochy

#20 Bruce Bochy

I finally got my scanner up and running last night, so I am back at it. Here is a card of Bruce Bochy that I got signed through the mail in 2015. Like the previous card of Grant Jackson that I posted, this one also took me two attempts to get signed. I originally wrote to Bruce during Spring Training in either 2013 or 2014 without ever getting the card back. Then, in 2015, I saw people getting him during the middle of the season, so I wrote him again. I got this one back after a month wait.

Bruce was a backup catcher in the Majors for nine seasons with the Astros, Mets, and Padres. Most of that time was spent in San Diego and he accumulated a lifetime batting average of .239 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI. His best season came with the Friars in 1986 when he hit .252 and had career highs with 8 homers and 22 RBI.

Since retiring, Bruce has been a huge presence in the National League West. He managed the Padres from 1995-2006 before heading north to San Francisco for the last ten seasons. I can't believe that he has managed twenty-two consecutive seasons, but he has. Over that time, he won one National League pennant for the Padres and three World Series with the Giants. Despite his success this decade, he has only won Manager of the Year once and that came with the Padres in 1996.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #178

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

1981 Donruss, Grant Jackson

#15 Grant Jackson

It has been about three weeks since I last posted a card thanks to my computer's power supply taking a dump. Luckily I was able to gt it fixed without encountering any damage. It just took a little longer than I had hoped. But, all is well now.

Here is the second card of Grant Jackson that I have posted on here. I posted the first one, his '71 Topps, two months ago and it can be seen here. The two cards were both signed through the mail in 2015. Obviously, this card was the main reason for writing to Grant.

Grant pitched in the Major Leagues for eighteen seasons with the Phillies, Orioles, Yankees, Pirates, Expos, and Royals. The lefty spent most of his career pitching out of the bullpen and he racked up a 86-75 record with 79 saves and 889 strikeouts. His winning record is surprising considering he was 23-43 through his first six seasons.

Grant had the privilege of pitching in three World Series during the '70s. He was with the Orioles in '71, the Yankees in '76, and the Pirates in '79. He came out of those Series with one ring and a 2.00 ERA over nine innings pitched.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #177