Thursday, June 27, 2019

2008 Topps, Paul Janish

#UH16 Paul Janish

Here is a card that I got signed by Paul Janish at a Royals game in 2009. The Reds were in town and I stopped at the game on the way up to Omaha for the College World Series. It was a heck of a game as I saw Luke Hochevar pitch a complete game on just 80 pitches. It was unreal. While Hochevar only allowed three hits, he wasn't dominating as he only struck out three batters. He was just pitching to contact and the Reds were up there hacking, with only seven of the thirty-one batters seeing four or more pitches. As for Paul, he signed this one card for me during batting practice and did not get in the game.

Paul played in the Majors for parts of nine seasons with the Reds, Braves, and Orioles. He was a .212 hitter that had 7 homers and 87 RBI over his 473 big league games. His best season was with the Reds in 2010. That year, he played in a career-high 114 games and he hit .260 with 5 home runs and 25 RBI. Paul last appeared in a Major League game in 2017 and appears to have called it a career since then.

Speaking of the College World Series, it wrapped up last night with another Vanderbilt championship. I did not attend the event for the first time since 2006, so that was kind of strange. I also did not hold the College World Series Contest for the first time since 2008. I am hoping to get back on track in Omaha next summer, though I probably won't hold the contest.

Monday, June 24, 2019

2008 Topps, Josh Anderson

#UH7 Josh Anderson

Here is the first of three cards that I got signed by Josh Anderson in 2009. Josh was with the Royals at the time and I was able to snag him in Minnesota at the final regular season series at the Metrodome.

Josh appeared in 179 Major League games with four teams over a three year stretch. He saw action with the Astros, Braves, Tigers, and Royals. Over those 179 games, he managed to hit .272 with 4 home runs and 47 RBI. After his first two big league seasons, Josh was a .315 hitter. Then, after playing in 118 games in 2009 and hitting .240, his average dipped down to that respectable .272 lifetime average.

On a totally unrelated note, I went up to Omaha this weekend. I was hoping to catch an "if necessary" College World Series game, but the game wasn't necessary. I instead took in an Omaha Storm Chasers game, where I have had great 'graphing success in the past. Well, that success came to an end Saturday night. I came home from that game with four cards signed from two different guys. I wasn't very thrilled with those results.

The main reason for the low numbers was because it was a bobblehead night and quite a few fans showed up super early for that. When we arrived at the park fifteen minutes before the gates opened, there were lines halfway through the parking lot to get in and we didn't even have tickets yet. By the time we got inside, we were about forty people away from the clubhouse. Most of the guys that did sign only signed a few and it was for the first people they came across. I was hoping to get Keston Huira there, but he quit signing after the first ten people.

When it was all said and done, I got one card signed by Jake Hager and three from Brett Phillips, which probably gives me eight of him because he is a signing machine. My little guy got a card signed by Brett, too, so I am glad that he didn't come home empty handed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

2008 Topps, Blake DeWitt

#603 Blake DeWitt

Here is the card of Blake DeWitt that I got signed at an Oklahoma City Redhawks game in 2008. That was before Oklahoma City was the Dodgers top affiliate, so Blake was playing for the visiting Las Vegas 51's. I only have one card signed by Blake, but I do not remember if he was a one-per guy or if this was the only card I had of him at the time. Considering that Blake played in 117 games with the Dodgers that season, I feel fortunate to have caught him at one of the 27 games he played in for Las Vegas.

Blake lasted in the big leagues for just six seasons, seeing time with the Dodgers, Cubs, and Braves. Over that time, he was a .257 hitter with 21 home runs and 135 RBI. His best season was his rookie campaign with the Dodgers in 2008. That year, he batted .264 with 9 homers and 52 RBI.

On an unrelated note, I posted a Felipe Paulino card yesterday. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Felipe had been pitching in the Atlantic League this season and he got signed by the Astros yesterday. So, he may be working his way back to the Major Leagues for the first time since 2014.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

2008 Topps, Felipe Paulino

#601 Felipe Paulino

Here is a card that I got signed at a Round Rock Express game in 2008. I was on my way down to my Grandma's and I made a pit stop in Round Rock, Texas to catch the Astros AAA franchise. I absolutely loved the park and I did alright on the autographing front, too.

The best part of Dell Diamond, from a 'graphing standpoint, was that the clubhouses were both in left field and the players actually had to walk across the concourse to get to the field. There was no way for them to sneak around and get onto the field without crossing it. It was great. Even if they took the back door, they still had to cross the concourse before hopping the fence to the bullpen, which I saw Burt Hooten do.

So far, that is the only AAA park that I have been to that has that configuration. Werner Park in Omaha comes close, as it too has both clubhouses behind left field. But, they get a ramp that heads under the concourse. It is still a great place to 'graph, but not quite as good as Round Rock. With Wichita getting a AAA team next season, I was hoping that they would set up the clubhouses in a similar fashion. But, they are going the traditional route and putting the clubhouses behind the dugouts.

As for Felipe, he pitched in the Majors for parts if six seasons with the Astros, Rockies, Royals, and White Sox. Over that time, he went 13-34 with a 5.22 ERA. His best season was with the Royals in 2011 when he went 4-6 with a 4.11 ERA and 119 strikeouts.

I have mentioned before that I somehow manage to get a decent amount of autographs by players that later become Royals. This is another example of that.

Friday, June 14, 2019

2008 Topps, Frank Catalanotto

#564 Frank Catalanotto

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2008. Frank was playing for the Rangers at the time and was nice enough to come over and sign one of my cards during batting practice.

Frank played in the Major Leagues for thirteen seasons and saw time with the Tigers, Rangers, Blue Jays, Brewers, and Mets. Over that time, he was a .291 hitter that had 84 home runs and 457 RBI. He had double digit home run seasons five times, but never hit more than 13 homers in a season.

Frank had many good years in the Majors and it is hard to look at one and say that was his best season. But, if I had to pick one, I would go with 2001 with the Rangers. That was the first season that he had over 400 at-bats and he responded by hitting an impressive .330 with 31 doubles and 11 home runs. That .330 average ranked him fifth in the American League that year.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

2008 Topps, Tony Pena

#514 Tony Pena

To my surprise, this is the only autograph from Tony Pena, Jr. that I have. Since he played for the Royals for parts of three seasons, I assumed that I got him a few times. But, when I was looking to see if I needed to post this card or not, I discovered this was it.

I got this card signed by him from the Royals parking lot in 2008. The Royals were renovating Kauffman Stadium at the time and had a temporary team parking lot set up. That was my first year getting back into getting cards signed and I tore it up at that location. The players had to walk to a door that was right by the fence. Most of the guys would sign, but not all of them. When I got this card signed, Tony approached the door talking on his cell phone. Personally, it looked like a lot of players would just pull out their phone when they got out of their car and hold it up to their face so that they had a reason to ignore you. After seeing that tactic a few times, I would just ask them anyways. More than likely, they would ignore you. But, you never knew. I got lucky with this card as Tony was using the cell phone trick, but he still came over and signed my one card for me. He didn't mutter a single word while he was signing, either to me or to the phone.

Tony's Major League career lasted parts of four seasons. He came up with the Braves in 2006 and hit .227 in 44 at-bats. He got dealt to the Royals toward the end of Spring Training in 2007 and made the Opening Day roster. Nobody expected much from him that season and he exceeded expectations. While his defense was highly suspect, he hit a respectable .267 with 25 doubles and 7 triples. But the wheels fell off in 2008 and he hit just .169 in 95 games. It got even worse in 2009 and he was hitting .098 in mid-July when the Royals sent him down to Omaha for good.

Kansas City then tried to convert TPJ to a pitcher at the end of the season. He did well as a pitcher, but never made it back to the Major Leagues. He pitched in AAA from 2010-2013 with three different organizations, but couldn't get that call-up. After the 2013 season, he took his craft to Mexico where he would pitch through the 2017 season.

Monday, June 10, 2019

2008 Topps, John McLaren

#463 John McLaren

Here is a card that I got signed last year at a Wingnuts game. John was the manager of the visiting Texas AirHogs and I was able to get him to sign for me prior to the game starting.

Last year was John's only season with the AirHogs and it was an interesting one to say the least. Prior to that season, the team partnered with a the Chinese National baseball team and brought about thirty players from that club over to the States to get a taste of American baseball. There were still the normal minor league castoffs on the team and they were always shuffling their roster to get all of the Chinese players some action. Needless to say, but the team did not fare too well and they finished the season 25-75.

At the game I attended, I thought it would be cool if my kid could get some autographs from some of the Chinese players. We had a baseball and got about five of the guys to sign it. Then, Casio Grider, an American, saw my kid and asked for the ball. He then took it into the dugout and made everybody sign it. It turned out really good and even has John right on the sweet spot. It might be just a signed team ball from an American Association team, but, with the mixture of Eastern and Western signatures, it is probably the coolest looking signed ball you will ever see.

As for John, he got to manage 159 Major League games. He took over the Mariners gig after Mike Hargrove abruptly resigned midway through the 2007 season. The M's went 43-41 under John and finished the season 88-74. He was brought back in 2008 and was 25-47 before being fired. He then got to manage three games with the Nationals in 2011 as their interim manager and was 2-1. For his 159 games, John had a record of 70-89.

Monday, June 3, 2019

2008 Topps, Gavin Floyd

#293 Gavin Floyd

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2009 while Gavin was still with the White Sox. That game was a Sunday day game, so the only real chance of getting autographs that day was from pitchers. I had three cards of Gavin to get signed, but this was the only one he did for me. After his successful 2008 season, I was more than happy to just get him on one.

Gavin pitched in the Majors for parts of thirteen seasons with the Phillies, White Sox, Braves, Indians, and Blue Jays. Over that time, he amassed a 74-76 record with a 4.37 ERA. He never made an All Star team and he only pitched in the postseason once. He reached double digit win totals with the White Sox in five straight seasons from 2008-2012. Unfortunately, he only had a winning record during one of those seasons.

Those five years were a great stretch for Gavin. During that time, he had a 4.12 ERA and averaged 151 strikeouts a season. But, then 2013 came and he was only able to make five starts that season before getting shut down and having Tommy John surgery. He would go on to pitch in 44 more Major League games before calling it a career after the 2016 season.