Monday, September 30, 2019

2008 Upper Deck, Rob Johnson

#321 Rob Johnson

Here is what I miss about not having Upper Deck around anymore. Rob Johnson had three at-bats in six games in 2007. He did not make the '08 Topps base set, but he got some love from Upper Deck. Upper Deck had the tendency to include some fringe Major Leaguers in their main issue that Topps would always pass on. Rob would go on to play in 265 games and he would get just one Topps card. And, if it wasn't for Upper Deck, I would not have a Rob Johnson autograph. His Topps card came out in 2010 and I only interacted with him in 2008. The three cards after this one are all going to feature rookies that got no love from Topps, too.

Rob played in the Majors for parts of seven seasons with the Mariners, Padres, Mets, and Cardinals. Over that time, he was a .200 hitter with 8 home runs and 64 RBI. His best season was probably the 2009 season when he saw action in 80 games with the M's and hit .213 with 2 dingers and 27 RBI.

Rob had the privilege of making two pitching appearances at the end of his career. In those two games, he logged 1.1 perfect innings and recorded two strikeouts. The two unlucky individuals to strike out against the back-up catcher were Eric Thames and Paco Rodriguez.

Rob signed this card for me during batting practice at Kauffman Stadium.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

2008 Upper Deck, Matt Thornton

#284 Matt Thornton

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2008. It was a Sunday day game, so the best chance for getting autographs in the ballpark that day was going to be from the pitchers. Anymore, when the pitchers are out getting their work in, they only wear tees or jackets with no number on it. Because of that, I personally have a tough time identifying players at the park. But, it is always a little easier with the lefties because there are less of them to sort out. That was how I got Matt ID'd.

Matt pitched in the big leagues for thirteen seasons with the Mariners, White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, and Padres. Over that time, he appeared in 748 games and logged 662.2 innings. He was the definitive LOOGY. For his career, he was 36-46 with 23 saves and a 3.41 ERA. He appeared in the postseason twice and he made the American League All Star team in 2010.

I am very surprised that I got this card signed in blue instead of black. Black seems like it was my go-to in 2008.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2008 Upper Deck, Yorvit Torrealba

#246 Yorvit Torrealba

Here is a card that I got signed at Kauffman Stadium in 2009 while Yorvit was with the visiting Colorado Rockies. I was able to get him during batting practice and he signed just this one card for me. It is quite possible that this was the only card I had of him at the time.

Yorvit spent parts of thirteen seasons in the Majors, seeing time with the Giants, Mariners, Rockies, Padres, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Brewers. Over that time, he was mainly used as a back-up or platoon catcher as he only played in more than 100 games in a season twice- once with the Rox and once with the Rangers. Nonetheless, he still racked up a .256 average for his career with 56 homers and 339 RBI. His best season was with the Rockies in 2007. Though he hit .255, he had career highs in homers and RBI with 8 and 47 respectively.

The two seasons that Yorvit played in more than 100 games are eerily similar. Both years, he played in 113 games. Both years, he had 396 at-bats. And both years, he played in the World Series.

I wish I would have used a blue Sharpie more often back then.

Friday, September 20, 2019

2008 Upper Deck, Jeff Keppinger

#237 Jeff Keppinger

I like to think that I know all of the players that have put on a Royals uniform since I started rooting for the team in 2000. But, every now and then, one evades me. That is the case with Jeff Keppinger. Until I just looked at his stats, I had no idea that he once suited up for the Royals. It was only for 22 games in 2006, but it still counts.

Jeff had a good career as a utility man that lasted nine seasons. Over that time, he played for the Mets, Royals, Reds, Astros, Giants, Rays, and White Sox. He was a .282 career hitter that ended up with 45 home runs and 295 RBI. His best season was probably with the Rays in 2012. That season, he had 40 RBI while having a career year with 9 dingers and a .325 average.

I got this card signed at an Astros preseason game at Minute Maid Park in 2009. That was Jeff's first season with Houston and this is probably the first autograph he signed as an Astro at Minute Maid Park.

I only got two cards signed by Jeff that day because that was all I could find of him. Despite entering his fifth season in the league, there were only a handful of cards made of him at that point. The other card he signed was his '09 Topps Heritage.

At that point in 2009, I was still relatively new to in-person 'graphing. I still had not learned about prepping cards, so there is some slight bubbling going on with this card. That is something that you will be seeing more or as I move through this set. Also, I was obviously still using a black Sharpie. This card would have came out so much better had I used blue.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

2008 Upper Deck, Milton Bradley

#189 Milton Bradley

We have finally made it to Upper Deck! It was looking like that was never going to happen, but here we are. If I can get back to a semi-consistent posting schedule, I might be able to wrap up all of the 2008 cards by Thanksgiving. That is a big IF, though.

First up from 2008 Upper Deck is this card of Milton Bradley that was given to me by Rod, from Padrographs. If it wasn't for this card, I wouldn't even remember that Milton played for the Padres. He seems to have played for quite a few teams during his career, but all I remember him with are the Indians, Rangers, and Cubs. It turns out that he also played with the Expos, Dodgers, A's, and Mariners.

During his twelve year big league career, Milton was a .271 hitter with 125 home runs and 481 RBI. His best season was with Texas in 2008 when he made his lone All Star team while hitting .321 with 22 dingers and 77 driven in.

Unfortunately, Bradley's long baseball career has been overshadowed by his temper and domestic issues, which resulted in a 32 month prison sentence.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Rest of 2008 Tristar Prospect Plus

#3 Eric Hosmer
#52 Jaff Decker

Eric Hosmer- I can't believe this is only the second card of Hos that I have posted on here. The guy was a mainstay on the Royals for seven seasons and I racked up a few autographs from him during his time in the Royals organization. Then, when I finally get around to posting some cards of him, he is with the Padres. But, that is how it goes. That is especially how it goes when I post cards on here from oldest to "newest".

I got this card signed by Eric in Burlington, Iowa in 2009 while he was playing for the Bees.

Jaff Decker- I have not posted a card of Jaff on here before. But, at some point, I will. So, he gets lumped into this "rest of" post just so I did not have to do a repeat Hosmer post. This card was given to me by Rod in 2011.

I am glad I never bought much of this product. In the limited cards that I have signed, they are horrible for autographs. There is a dark border, zoomed in shots, and dark pictures. This set is the complete opposite of that year's Tristar Projections set. I glad I bought a lot of Projections and passed on this one.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

2008 Tristar Prospect Plus, Jay Jackson

#FH-JJ Jay Jackson

Here is a card that I pulled out of a pack in 2009. While I bought quite a few packs of 2008 Tristar Projections, I only bought one pack of Prospect Plus. That one pack yielded this autograph, so it worked out well.

Jay made his Major League debut with the Padres as a September call-up in 2015. He appeared in six games and posted a 6.23 ERA with 4 strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work. Jay got released after the season and he took his craft to Japan for the next three years. Playing for the Hiroshima Carp, Jay went 10-8 with 2 saves and a 2.10 ERA while striking out 192 batters in just 176 innings.

He came back to the States this season and was signed by the Brewers. It has worked out well for him as he has been on the big league roster since mid-July. This time around, he has so far pitched 24.1 innings and is 1-0 with a 4.81 ERA and 37 strikeouts.

With the big white border on this card, it looks like this card should have came out of the Projections set instead of this one.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2008 Tristar Prospect Plus, Allan Dykstra

#31 Allen Dykstra

Coming into this post, I was assuming that I was going to be doing another post about a career minor league player. Unbeknownst to me, though, is that Allan made his Major League debut with the Rays in 2015.

The Rays picked him up as a free agent after the 2014 season and he made their Opening Day roster. He made his Major League debut in the Rays third game of the season and was 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout. He would go on to play in thirteen games that month before the Rays sent him down to AAA. During his time in the Majors, he hit .129 with a home run and 4 RBI. His lone homer was a three-run shot off of Yankees pitcher, Adam Warren.

Allan would only appear in 39 games in AAA before being released by the Rays. He then signed on with the Sugarland Skeeters to finish off the season. He called it a career after that.

What a whirlwind season. After being taken in the first round of the 2008 draft, he finally made it to the Majors in 2015, only to finish the season in the Atlantic League. It is a crazy game these guys play.

This card was given to me by Rod, of Padrographs, when I met up with him in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2015.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Rest of 2008 Tristar Projections

#83 Darren Ford
#90 Josh Horton
#198 Mitch Einertson
#256 Josh Vitters
#320 Salvador Sanchez
#399 Desomd Jennings

Darren Ford- Unlike the last card of Darren that I got signed at a Sacramento River Cats game, this one was pulled out of a pack. I actually bought the pack at the Kauffman Stadium gift shop for eight bucks just because it also came with an Eric Hosmer card. It worked out well as I eventually got the Hosmer card signed and I got an auto in the pack.

Josh Horton- I love the way this card looks. Josh's loopy blue signature just looks like it was made for this card. It is perfect. It definitely came out a lot better than the last card of him I posted when I had him sign in black. This card was signed at a Tulsa Drillers game in 2010 while he was playing for Midland.

Mitch Einertson- Mitch played for the Wingnuts for parts of two seasons and I was able to get this card signed at one of their games in 2012.

Josh Vitters- I got this card signed in Hoover, Alabama in 2010 while Josh was playing for the visiting Tennessee Smokies.

Salvador Sanchez- Sal signed this card for me the day after I got Vitters to sign. This time, though, it was in Birmingham at historic Rickwood Field for the 100th anniversary of the ballpark.

Desmond Jennings- I got Desmond to sign at the 2009 Futures Game in St. Louis.