Friday, August 31, 2018

2004 Topps, Phil Nevin

#446 Phil Nevin

Here is the first of three straight Padre cards. This one is a Padrograph that was given to me by Rod in 2015.

This is now the sixth card of Phil Nevin that I have posted on here. I got three signed by him in Spring Training in 2014 and Rod has given me three cards on two separate occasions. I think I am good to go on cards signed by Phil. When I went and saw the Yankees play earlier this year, I didn't even bother looking for any cards of him.

Phil played for a handful of clubs during his career, but San Diego is where he spent the majority of his time. He spent nearly seven seasons with the Friars and racked up a .288 batting average with 156 home runs and 573 RBI. He ranks in the franchise's top ten in average, slugging, OPS, runs, hits, singles, doubles, home runs, total bases, and RBI. He made his lone All Star team as a Padre in 2001.

If I do ever get a chance to get Phil's signature again, I might try to find a card or two of him. But, with five signed Padre cards already, I will probably stay away from those cards. Instead, I will look for him playing with the Astros, Angels, Cubs, Rangers, or Twins. I already have a Tiger card signed by him.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

2004 Topps, Ron Gardenhire

#283 Ron Gardenhire

Here is a card of Ron Gardenhire that I got signed at a Royals game last year. Ron was the bench coach for the Diamondbacks at the time and he seemed a little shocked that I asked for his autograph. He asked me why I wanted his autograph and assumed it was because I couldn't get Paul Goldschmidt to come over. I told him it was because I don't get to see him anymore since he doesn't lead the Twins to town a dozen times a year to whoop up on the Royals. He just chuckled and signed the three cards I had of him.

After the season, he got the Tigers managerial job and gets to come back to Kansas City a dozen times a year. Luckily, though, his new team currently lacks the talent that he had in Minnestoa a decade ago.

Ron managed the Twins for thirteen seasons and was 1068-1039. During that time, he lead the Twins to a AL Central crown six times. Unfortunately, they never fared well in the postseason, going 6-21 while winning just one series. That series was Gardenhire's first trip to the postseason in his first year of managing, 2002, when his team beat the A's in five games.

Monday, August 27, 2018

2004 Topps, Brad Penny

#236 Brad Penny

Here is the second card of Brad Penny that I got signed at the NBC World Series in 2016 while Brad was a member of the Kansas Stars. I posted the first card about ten days ago and it can be seen here.

Brad pitched for the Marlins for parts of six seasons. Over that span, he was 50-43 with a 4.12 ERA and 583 strikeouts. He never made an All Star team with the club, but he did help them win their second World Series title in 2003 by going 14-10 during the regular season.

The 2003 postseason was a mixed bag for Brad. He made two appearances in the Division Series and pitched 5.2 innings while giving up 4 runs in a start and a relief appearance. Despite his bad start and blown save, the Marlins won both games he pitched in. In the NLCS, Brad did a little worse. Pitching in three games, with only one being a start, he was 1-1 with a 15.75 ERA in four innings of work. In his start in Game 2, Brad lasted just 2 innings while giving up 7 runs. He got moved to the bullpen after that and threw two scoreless innings in his two outings and picked up the win in Game 7.

Then, in the World Series, he got moved back to the starting rotation and got the ball in Game 1. He stepped it up for that series and picked up W's in the two games he pitched. He threw 12.1 innings in the Fall Classic and gave up just 3 earned runs for a 2.19 ERA. Though Brad would see the postseason two more times in his career, that was his only trip to the World Series.

At the trade deadline the following year, Brad is dealt to Los Angeles in a six-player deal.

Friday, August 24, 2018

2004 Topps, Jack Wilson

#204 Jack Wilson

Here is the second card of Jack Wilson that I have posted on here. Jack signed six cards for my dad and I last summer after a Kansas Stars game at the NBC World Series. I posted the first card just last week and it can be seen here.

For me, Jack was a household name during his years with the Pirates. The Pirates were a little lean while he played and that might have helped him stand out more. But, for whatever reason, I would have thought that he would have been on more All Star teams than the shortstop I posted two days ago, Jason Bartlett. But, that is not the case. Both guys made one All Star team.

Jack made the team in 2004. That season was a good one for him. He hit over .300 for the only time in his career. He also had single season highs in doubles (41), triples (12), and hits (201). In the All Star Game, he went 0-2 after entering the game in the sixth inning.

I have seen this card referenced as something like "turning two on Tatooine"

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

2004 Studio, Jason Bartlett

#208 Jason Bartlett

Every once in a while, my dad will buy me some baseball cards. He's been doing it since the mid-80s and I do not see him stopping anytime soon. Even when I was in college and could care less about baseball cards, my dad would still buy me a pack or two every now and then. I think he is just curious of what they are looking like from year to year.

Anyways, a couple of years ago, my dad called me to tell me that he pulled an autograph out of a pack. I was expecting something cool out of a current pack of Allen & Ginter or even Topps Archives. Nope, this was the card he pulled. It turns out that he got bored by the card selection at Target, so he picked up a repack box with a few packs and a 100 loose cards. This was one of the loose cards.

Now, I don't mean to sound like I am ungrateful that my dad pulled this card. That is not the case as I love any and all autographs, especially guys that I never got in-person that had respectable careers, like Jason. I just wasn't expecting him to pull an auto that was a dozen years old.

Jason played in the Majors for ten seasons with the Twins, Rays, and Padres. Over that time, he hit .270 with 31 home runs and 286 RBI while playing in the postseason three times. He best season was with the Rays in 2009 when he had career-highs in nearly every offensive category including average (.320), runs (90), doubles (29), home runs (14), RBI (66), and stolen bases (30). He was rewarded that season with his only All Star team selection.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2004 Grandstand Midwest League Top Prospects, Sean Thompson

Here is a Padrograph that was given to me in 2015 when I met up with Rod in Hillsboro, Oregon. This one features Padre farmhand, Sean Thompson.

Leading up to this post, I was thinking that this was going to be my third post of Sean because I thought that Rod had given me a couple of autographs from him ten years ago. It turns out that this is the first post of Sean because those other two posts were of former Padre, Mike Thompson.

While Mike actually pitched in a handful of games at the Major League level, the same cannot be said of Sean. The highest Sean reached was the three games he pitched in AAA in 2007. Aside from the scoreless inning he accumulated at that level, he spent parts of three seasons in AA and was 19-23 with a 4.05 ERA.

In his All Star season with the Fort Wayne Wizards, Sean was 9-6 with a 3.65 ERA and had 157 strikeouts in 148 innings.

Fort Wayne joined the Midwest League in 1993 and kept the Wizards moniker until changing the name to the Tin Caps in 2009.

Friday, August 17, 2018

2004 Fleer Tradition, Jack Wilson

#291 Jack Wilson

Here is the first of six cards that Jack Wilson signed for my dad and I after the Kansas Stars game last year. Unlike the previous year, we actually stuck around for the whole game since there were fewer people and I thought that I could get a few cards signed. I am glad I did as I was able to add Jack to the collection. Even though there was a paid autograph session after the game, Jack still made his way down the line, hurrying as many free signatures as he could. Being in such a rush, I really did not expect him to sign three for each of us.

The signature is really hard to make out, but he signed the cards in record time. I tried to find a newer, authentic auto from Topps to compare these to, but it appears Jack hand't had an autograph insert since 2005. The ones from '05 are definitely easier to read, though. I am just curious if all of his signatures look similar to this now or if this is just a super-rushed version.

You have got to love the retro uniform on this card. It would be much better, though, if it wasn't so baggy. It looks like this photo is from a contest against the Phillies at old Veterans Stadium.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

2004 Fleer Tradition, Brad Penny

#236 Brad Penny

I have gotten Brad penny to sign for me a couple of times during his playing days, so I assumed that this was going to be my third post about him. It turns out it is just the second as I haven't posted the jersey card that he signed for me in 2012. The one card I posted was a minor league signature card that I picked up for cheap. I bought that card to make up for me not having a card of him to sign at a AAA rehab start he made in 2008. Then, of course, I get him to sign at a game a few years later.

I got this card signed at a Kansas Stars game in 2016. Brad was pulled out of the clubhouse to do an interview with a local TV outlet and I got him to sign after the interview. He signed my three cards and the three that my dad gave him. So, I will be having a couple Brad Penny cards coming up on here over the next few months.

Brad was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 1996 draft. But, he would never play for their big league club. They traded him to the Marlins in 1999 for Matt Mantei. Brad would make his Major League debut with the fish the following season. He won his debut, pitching seven innings of one run ball against the Rockies. He struck out three batters and the lone run he gave up was a solo home run to Mike Lansing in the first inning.

Monday, August 13, 2018

2004 Bowman Heritage, Blake Hawksworth

#320 Blake Hawksworth

Here is a card that I got signed at the College World Series last summer. Blake was the pitching coach for Cal State Fullerton and I was able to get him to sign two cards for me prior to a game in which his pitching staff blew a lead against Oregon State. Somehow, this autograph got smudged and I have no clue how it happened.

It is not very often that I get autographs from coaches at the College World Series, but I have got a few. Off the top of my head, I have got Mike Benjamin, Mike Birkbeck, Ray Heyward, Lars Davis, and Chris Valaika. Considering that I have been going to the CWS every year for a dozen years now, you can see that autograph chances with guys that have cards are pretty scarce.

Blake pitched in the Majors for three seasons with the Cardinals and Dodgers. Over that span, he was 10-13 with a 4.07 ERA in 183.1 innings of work. His best season was with the Cards in his rookie season, 2009. That year, he was 4-0 in 30 appearances out of the pen and had an ERA of 2.03.

Cal State Fullerton seems to go through pitching coaches pretty rapidly. The year before Blake was the pitching coach, Chad Cordero had the role and some other guy had the job this season. Right now, the Titans do not even have a pitching coach listed on their website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2003 Upper Deck Vintage, Josh Beckett

#114 Josh Beckett

Here is another card that I got signed at the Kansas Stars game in 2016. When I went to that game, I had made my way around to the outfield to be by the clubhouse in left. I was doing really well there at first, as there was hardly anybody there 'graphing. Eventually, people caught on and there was a decent-sized crowd back there trying to get autographs from the players. Josh was the last that I got in that area before the no-fun police came out and erected a PVC pipe fence to keep people back from the chain link fence. It was the dumbest thing I had ever saw and it really put a damper on my evening.

Nevertheless, I was pretty excited to get Josh Beckett's autograph. I had three cards for him to sign, one for each team he played with, but he just signed this one. My dad got him on one, too, and it just so happened to be on his 2014 Topps Heritage card, the 1965 design that this card is based on.

For me, Josh became a big-name player during the Marlins improbable World Series run in 2003. He had a 9-8 record during the regular season, but he stepped it up in October. He took the loss in his one start in the Division Series against the Giants while tossing seven innings of one run ball. Then, in the NLCS, he started two games, and relieved in one, and he nabbed one win while posting a 3.36 ERA for the Series. His one win was a game five complete game shutout to stave off elimination. Then, in the World Series against the Yankees, he lost game three before coming back in game six and tossing a shutout in Yankee Stadium for the championship.

Josh would go on to win another World Series with the Red Sox in 2007, but him raising his arms after getting Jorge Posada to ground back to him is how I remember Josh.

Friday, August 3, 2018

2003 Upper Deck Vintage, Tim Hudson

#15 Tim Hudson

Here is a card of Tim Hudson that I got signed at the Kansas Stars game in 2016. That was the first year the Stars played in the NBC World Series and it was quite an event. I had to buy tickets in advance of the game because they were selling out. That never happens for that tournament. The game was actually sold out before I got tickets, but they ended up releasing some standing room only tickets and I was able to get some of those. It probably didn't help that I was going to the first game that the Stars played in and there was lots of hoopla for it.

Unfortunately, after playing in the tournament for two years, the Stars did not come back this year. They claim they didn't come back because the casino that hosted them, the Kansas Star, was hosting a convention and didn't have rooms for the team. Personally, I think that is a load of crap. I think that the NBC didn't want them out there whooping up on college kids. But, that is just my opinion. Needless to say, but I did not go to the NBC World Series this year.

The Stars players obviously had a good time playing because they "relocated" to Louisville this year and are playing in the Bluegrass World Series right now. This is the inaugural year for the Bluegrass World Series and it is basically the NBC World Series, but at a nicer venue and with the Stars. It is kind of sad that Louisville recognized the opportunity that the Stars provided, but not Wichita.

Tim Hudson is still playing for the Stars, but he has not started either of their two games yet.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

2003 Upper Deck 40 Man, Jeff Fassero

#445 Jeff Fassero

Here is the third and final card of Jeff Fassero that I got signed at a Reds Spring Training game last year. Jeff is the pitching coach for the Reds AAA affiliate in Louisville and he was nice enough to stop and sign on his way to the dugout. I posted the first card of Jeff, a nice-looking Expos card, earlier this year and it can be seen here. The second card I posted can be seen here.

Jeff arrived in St. Louis just before the 2002 trade deadline after being sent over by the Cubs for a pair of players to be named later. He made 16 relief appearances with the Cards and was 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings. He helped the Cardinals make the postseason and pitched well in relief there, as well. In the Division Series against the D-Backs, Jeff picked up two of the three victories for the team, tossing 2.2 innings of shutout ball in the three game sweep. He only pitched in one game of the NLCS against the Giants, facing two batters and getting them both out. That was the closest that Jeff had ever come to playing in the World Series.

He spent all of 2003 with the Cardinals and did a bit of everything. He appeared in 62 games, which included 6 spot starts, and racked up a 1-7 record with 3 saves and a 5.68 ERA. Despite the lofty ERA and being 40 years old, he still had something left in the tank and pitched for three more seasons with the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Giants.

Jeff spent parts of sixteen seasons in the Major Leagues and went 121-124 with 25 saves and a 4.11 ERA.

This has got to be one of the best looking Jeff Fassero cards out there. I am glad that I had it in my collection and was able to get it signed.