Monday, July 30, 2018

2003 Upper Deck, Brett Tomko

#407 Brett Tomko

Here is a card that I got signed at the NBC World Series two years ago when the Kansas Stars made their first appearance there. The Stars were a roster of former Major League players competing in a tournament against college kids. Even though Wichita hosts the tournament every year, I never bothered to go until the Stars came around.

When I went to the Stars first game, I got there really early to try to get players as they showed up to the ballpark. That was a bust as all the guys came on a bus and the bus didn't stop outside of the park; it backed up into the gates. So, I went inside and it was a madhouse in there. There was a game going on at the time, so I made my way to the outfield to see if I could get some players by the clubhouse and batting cages. To my amazement, I was the only person out there and I quickly nabbed Brad Penny and Roy Oswalt after they concluded interviews with the local news outlet.

Shortly thereafter, another guy joined me out there. And then one more. We tore it up for about a half hour until a crowd gathered out there with us. Then the fun police came out and shut us down. They threw up a PVC fence to keep everyone away from that area. So, I went back to the third base line to join the madhouse and I only got two guys to sign for me there. That was nothing compared to the forty cards I got signed by the clubhouse.

This year's NBC World Series started up this past weekend and, sadly, the Stars are not a part of it. That is too bad since 'graphing the Stars games the last two years had definitely been my 'graphing highlight each season.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

2003 Ultra, Barry Wesson

#227 Barry Wesson

Here is the second card that I got signed by Barry Wesson at a Kansas Stars game two years ago. I posted the first card last week and that one can be seen here. Naturally, I did not have any cards of Barry prior to the Stars heading to Wichita to compete in the NBC World Series. Since he was probably the least known member on the team, I figured I had a pretty good chance of getting him to sign. So, I bought the two cards from COMC and Barry came through for me.

Barry played in 15 games for the Astros in 2002. In those games, he went 4-20 with a triple and an RBI. The Angles claimed him on waivers in September of that season, but he saw no time with them that year. He did play in 10 games with them the next season, though.

For his career, Barry hit .194 with 1 home run and 4 RBI in 25 contests. His lone home run was hit off of John Thompson of the Rangers.

I hate black jerseys on baseball cards. This auto does look slightly better in person than on the scan.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

2003 Lancaster Jethawks Grandstand, Mike Aldrete

#25 Mike Aldrete

It took me two tries, but I finally got this card signed at Spring Training this year. I took it with me last year and I finally got Mike's attention right before the National Anthem. He was rushed and only signed two cards before tripping over the stairs to hit the field for the anthem. This was the one card he did not sign. But, I caught the A's in action this spring and I got Mike's attention with plenty of time to spare. He ended up signing this card and two more for me this go around.

I bought this team set ten years ago when I went to a Lancaster Jethawks game. They were having a clearance sale in the team store and I picked up three random team sets for cheap. Up to this point, I have only had one card from each set signed. But with this card, I now have two signed from the 2003 set. Lance Cormier is the other card from the set that I got signed.

Mike only managed the Jethawks for one season and the team did well under his leadership. They went 73-67. Despite the winning record, the team finished fourth in the five team California League South Division. They were two games out of second place and a trip to the postseason. That was the last time Mike managed a team.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

2003 Fleer Tradition, Eric Hinske

#483 Eric Hinske

I have only been to two Royals games this summer and the 'graphing has not gone well. The first game I went to was against the Yankees and I got shutout on autographs. The last game I went to was against the Angels. It was a three o'clock start time, so I got there early to try to get some of the players when they arrived at the ballpark. It was a complete waste of time since Hansel Robles was the only Angel to sign and I did not have a card of him. All of the players and coaches that came off the bus completely ignored everybody.

The one exception to that was Eric Hinske. He arrived early in a cab and was nice enough to sign for whoever wanted him to. He was pretty funny because he signed a ball for a kid who then asked him who he was and he started giving the kid crap for not knowing who he was asking an autograph from. The funny part was that the kid's mom didn't think Eric was funny and she started defending her little boy. Eric had a big smile on his face and told her "I'm just giving you a hard time; but seriously, you should know who you are asking to get an autograph from". The mom really didn't like that, but I thought it was funny and completely true.

Eric had a huge rookie season with the Jays in 2002. That year, he wound up hitting .279 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI. Those numbers were good enough to land him the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Unfortunately, even though he would go on to play eleven more years, he was never able to match the numbers he put up in his rookie season. He would, however, play in three straight World Series from 2007-2009 with three different clubs. He brought home a ring in two of the three.

Eric is currently the hitting coach for the Angels.

Friday, July 20, 2018

2003 Fleer Focus, Guillermo Quiroz

#175 Guillermo Quiroz

Here is a card that I got signed at a Sacramento Rivercats game in 2015. Quiroz was playing for the Cats at the time and he was nice enough to stop and sign two cards for me. I opted to get him in black because of the blue jersey and I must say that I am pleased with the results.

Back then, I used to always take a black and a blue Sharpie with me when I would go 'graphing. Since I used to do well with the Royals, it was a must with all the cards with blue jerseys like this one. But now the Royals are crap signers and I rarely bother with a black Sharpie any more. It is now blue or nothing.

Quiroz played parts of ten seasons in the big leagues with six different clubs. He topped out at 56 games in a season and was mostly used as a team's third catcher. There were five seasons when he played in less than five games and only two where he played in more than seventeen. For his career, he hit .199 with 3 home runs and 34 RBI.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

2002 Upper Deck Honor Roll, Barry Wesson

#131 Barry Wesson

Here is a card that I got signed two years ago when the Kansas Stars competed in the NBC World Series. Barry was on the Stars team and was one of the first cards I got signed that evening. He was standing outside the batting cages taking practice swings and hanging out with his son. I asked him to sign and he seemed a little reluctant to, which surprised me. I would expect that from the bigger names at the event, but not from a guy that I had never heard of before he was put on the roster.

Barry played just 25 games in the Majors over parts of two seasons with the Astros and Angels. With the Angels, whom he didn't play a game with until the 2003 season, he got into 10 games and he was 2-11 with 2 runs, 1 home run, and 3 RBI. That dinger was the only one he hit in the Majors and it was hit in his final Major League game. Up to that point that September, Barry was 0-7 before getting the start in left in game 162. Batting ninth, he went 2-4 with 2 RBI in an Angels 4-2 win over the Rangers. Barry would play three more seasons in the minors, but never make a return to the highest level again.

Based off of this card, I do not think that Honor Roll is a good name for this set. I think that Upper Deck Mug Shot is a better description. The only thing missing is a placard with the player's info on it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

2002 Topps Total, Phil Nevin

#TTC24 Phil Nevin

Here is the fifth card of Phil Nevin that I have posted on here. I posted the first one back in 2011 after Rod had sent it to me. Then, I posted three in 2014 and 2015 after I had gotten them signed at Spring Training when Phil was the manager of the D-Backs AAA team. Now, here is this one, another gift from Rod. This one was given to me three years ago when we met up at a Hillsboro Hops game.

If you look at the number on this card, you will see that it has an insert-like number. This card is actually a team checklist. I don't think I ever bought any packs of 2002 Topps Total, but it seems odd that a team checklist card would be considered an insert. It is worth noting that '02 Topps Total was actually a glossy set unlike later sets. But, while the front of this card is glossy, the back of it is not. Also, this card and Phil's base card look exactly the same on the front.

Phil no longer works in the Diamondbacks organization. He is currently the third base coach of the Yankees.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

2002 Topps Total, Doug Henry

#611 Doug Henry

It feels like I have posted a dozen cards of Doug Henry on here. Since he was the Royals bullpen coach for five years, I would always head over in his direction whenever I was striking out with players at Kauffman Stadium. To my amazement, this is only the seventh card of Doug that I have posted. It will also be the last for some time as he no longer works for the big league club. I do have two more cards to post of him, but they are both minor league coaching cards.

Doug spent his final season pitching for the Royals. He did not do too well, but he still got a decent workload. He pitched 75.2 innings in 53 games and was 2-2 with a 6.07 ERA and 57 strikeouts. I saw him pitch eight times that season and he did slightly better when I was there. He picked up both of his wins during those games and had an ERA of 4.96.

With this signed Royals card, I have a signed card from Doug with every team he played for except the Giants. And the only reason I never got a Giants card signed by him is that there are none (as far as I can tell).

A few years back, I almost bought a game-used jersey of Doug's. It was only $10 at Royals Fanfest. Even though I knew I could get it signed, I did not buy it. Signed jerseys are kind of a pain and they take up a lot of room when framed. It would have been cool, but I resisted. I already have one jersey up in my room and I really don't have room for another.

Friday, July 13, 2018

2002 Fleer Tradition, Eddie Guardado

#U320 Eddie Guardado

Here is a card I got signed last year when the Twins were in Kansas City. Eddie is the Twins bullpen coach and he stopped to sign for me after getting off the team bus. I asked him how he was enjoying coaching and he told me that it was "OK". I asked him why it was just OK and he told me that players are just too soft these days. It seems that Eddie and Mike Matheny are on the same page.

Eddie pitched for the Twins for the first eleven seasons of seventeen year career. Over that time, he held about every role a left-handed pitcher could hold. He started, was a LOOGY, did middle relief, and was a closer. Counting the seven games he appeared in for the Twins after being acquired at the 2008 trade deadline, Everyday Eddie was 37-48 with 116 saves and a 4.53 ERA with the Twins.

Eddie had back-to-back 40 save seasons with the Twins in 2002 and 2003. He racked up 45 the first year and 41 in the second. He was rewarded both years with an All Star selection, the only two of his career. This card represents his first selection. In the 2002 mid-summer classic, Eddie struck out the only two batters he faced- Andruw Jones and Jose Hernandez. Maybe if he would have pitched longer, or not relieved Barry Zito after he faced just one batter, the game might not have ended in a tie.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2002 Fleer Tradition, Brandon Berger

#U173 Brandon Berger

Here is another former Royal that I got signed through the mail this year. I sent this card to Brandon in February and I had it back ten days later.

Brandon was 14th round pick by the Royals in 1996 out of Eastern Kentucky. While he was slowly moving up the organizational ladder, he wasn't even a blip on the radar. That all changed in 2001 when he had a monster year in AA. That season, he batted .308 with 40 home runs and 118 RBI. He got a September call-up from the Royals and continued his hot season, going 5-16 with four extra-base hits, including two dingers.

He made the Royals Opening Day roster in 2001 and it turned out to be a rough season for Brandon. Through July 20th, he hit .227 with 5 home runs and 14 RBI. He was then sent down to AAA for the second time that season and would stay there until the rosters expanded in September. It was a rough September for him and he finished the season with a .207 average with 6 homers and 17 RBI.

After that, Brandon would only play in 24 more Major League games over the 2003-2004 seasons. He never hit another home run and he finished his career a .212 hitter with 8 home runs and 24 RBI.

Friday, July 6, 2018

2001 Topps, Brian Meadows

#316 Brian Meadows

This is a card that I got signed through the mail earlier this year. For a bit, I was sending out TTMs to former Royals that I did not have signed cards from. This is the third one of those out of the last five card posts and my next one will be the same. It was fun adding Meadows, Reboulet, and McCarthy to the collection since they were members of the Royals team I grew to love, the 2000 squad.

Brian only pitched in Kansas City for two seasons and he had just 21 appearances, with all but one being starts. He went 6-2 in his first season there with two complete games and a 4.77 ERA. But, the next year, he dropped to 1-6 with an ERA of 6.97. That was that for Brian with the Royals.

He went on to pitch five more years after that, mainly with the Pirates, where he found a home in their bullpen. Brian finished his career with a 47-62 record with 10 saves and a 5.05 ERA.

Prior to joining the Royals, Brian pitched with the Marlins and Padres. He also played one season, his final one, with the Devil Rays.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

2001 Topps, Joe Nathan

#292 Joe Nathan

Here is a card that I got signed last summer at the NBC World Series. Joe was playing for the Kansas Stars, a team of former players taking on college players in a tournament. Like many players on the team, Joe was very fan-friendly and spent a decent amount of time signing autographs the day I was there.

Joe spent the majority of his career pitching in the American League Central, so I had the chance to see him many times in Kansas City. Every time I tried to 'graph his team, I always took this card with me. It was the only card of him I had with the Giants. And, for a long time, it was the only non-Twins card I had of him. I obviously struck out every time as he had to retire and come to Wichita in order for me to get it signed.

Joe spent his first four seasons pitching for the Giants. He started 29 games for then his first two years before becoming firmly entrenched in their bullpen in the fourth year. That season, he made a career-high 78 appearances. He logged 79 innings with a record of 12-4 and a 2.96 ERA and 83 strikeouts. While he finished nine games, he did not record a save. Tim Worrell was getting all the saves that season for the Giants.

After the season, San Francisco shipped Joe and Francisco Liriano off to Minnesota for A.J Pierzynski.

For his career with the Giants, which included the last 4.1 innings of his career in 2016, Joe was 25-10 with a save and a 4.06 ERA.

Monday, July 2, 2018

2001 Topps, Jeff Reboulet

#141 Jeff Reboulet

Here is the card that I got signed through the mail by Jeff Reboulet. I sent this card to him at the end of January and I had it back in about a week.

I sent this card to get signed since Jeff is a former Royal and I never got his autograph when he was with the team. He spent one season in Kansas City in 2000. That was a fun offense to watch, though Jeff did not provide much of it. He hit .242 with 14 RBI and no home runs as a Royal.

Jeff spent twelve seasons in the Majors as a utility player with the Twins, Orioles, Royals, Dodgers, and Pirates. He played in 100+ games twice, but never got over 250 at-bats in any given season. He hit .240 for his career with 20 home runs and 202 RBI.

With the O's in 1997, he made his only trip to the postseason. In the two series, he was 1-7. His lone hit was a solo home run off of Randy Johnson in the fourth and final game of the Division Series.

The back of this card lists Jeff's position as SS-3B. That is odd since he played second base 50 times in 2000. He played third 11 times and short only 5 times.