topps 52s autos: alfonzo to vandenhurk

I believe I will sit and write a spell while the most recent baker’s dozen autographs I’ve gotten on Topps 52s cards cool on the windowsill. Only time will tell whether these will represent the final harvest of the summer since the Albuquerque Isotopes season wraps up at home this month. The Isotopes will be facing teams that have already visited the Duke City this year, so if nothing else, I will be able to target players with cards in this series to use as potential trade material.

Eliezer Alfonzo (2006 – no. 59)

After slugging a game winning two-run bomb off Orlando Hernandez (New York Mets) in his first major league at bat, Eliezer Alfonzo finished the 2006 season as the San Francisco Giants primary catcher. Alfonzo is currently one of the catchers employed by the Fresno Grizzlies. A proven clutch hitter, Eliezer is prepared to join and contribute to the parent club at the drop of a hat. Alfonzo will happily sign two autographs per fan prior to the first pitch, so please… no shoving!

Travis Buck (2007 – no. 11)

Travis Buck seldom signs autographs for fans before a baseball game. He doesn’t sign that frequently after games either, but when he does, it is one autograph per person. It is worth noting that Buck employs a sort of Mike Scioscia strategy to his autographing. That means that if you want his signature, be prepared to walk alongside Travis as he makes his way to the team van, and hope the distance is great enough that he gets to you before he reaches the van. Do not expect him to smile like he is on his card! Buck is presently an outfielder with the Sacramento RiverCats (Oakland A’s) who lead the Pacific Coast League Pacific South division by 5 games.

Chris Denorfia (2006 – no. 9)

No longer in the Cincinnati Reds organization, Denorfia has packed his bats and his knack for stringing together interesting hitting streaks and moved to Sacramento where he helps patrol the RiverCats outfield. Denorfia is a nice guy, but I don’t think this will be the last you hear of him.

Travis Ishikawa (2006 – no. 141)

Ishikawa doesn’t appear to be immune from the streak either; hitting seven homers in his past eight games. I realize that it is early in August, but this dude is hitting .615 with nine RBI for the month! Honestly, I’m surprised Travis even had the time to sign for me given all the base running he’s been doing.

Justin Knoedler (2006 – no. 181)

Originally drafted as a pitcher, Knoedler was converted to catcher by the San Francisco Giants. Now with the Sacramento RiverCats, it doesn’t appear that the Oakland As have any intention of converting him back to pitcher in spite of the fact that he still hits like one. Justin is a very friendly player, and would be a welcome addition to my Razzball fantasy team.

Jay Marshall (2007 – no. 112)

If you are looking to get a Jay Marshall autograph these days, don’t strain your eyes looking for the dude depicted on the front of his card at Sacramento RiverCats’ games. Instead, be on the watch for Serpico. He’s your man! Catch Jay at the right time after a game, and he’ll sign anything you hand him.

Patrick Misch (2007 – no. 156)

A pitcher for the Fresno Grizzlies, Misch will sign before any game that he isn’t starting. Of course I’m talking about Triple A baseball here, and not at major league ballparks. Still, I’d bet that Pat remains as fan-friendly whenever he gets his call back up with the Giants.

Dan Ortmeier (2006 – no. 188)

Back to the fascinating topic of Razzball… I think Dan was drafted pretty early in our fantasy league- not long after I picked up Rich Aurilia. Battling back from a broken finger at the beginning of the season, Ortmeier has amassed a .128 batting average in 86 plate appearances in the minor leagues, scoring six times and driving in four runs (including himself twice via the long ball). I’d say he’s ready for the call up! Even Dan’s autograph is Razztastic!

Eric Patterson (2007 – no. 155)

I didn’t get this card autographed when the Iowa Cubs were in town the first time because Eric had just been called up to Chicago. I also was not able to get it signed the second time the Cubs passed through as they had just traded Eric to Oakland. Luckily, the A’s don’t seem to have a better idea of how to handle Patterson than did the Cubs, so they shipped him off to Sacramento in time for their trip to Albuquerque. Eric made no attempt to disguise the fact that he didn’t care much for the Cubs while signing his cards. He even went as far to suggest that we might as well throw them away.

Eric Patterson and Felix Pie (2007 – no. DD8)

Similar to the case of Eric Patterson, I missed the chance to get Pie the first time the Cubs visited Isotopes Park this summer because he hurt his hand swinging during the first game. Felix was shipped off to Arizona where they iced it down for several days, but he was back with the Cubs in time for their last visit.

Multiple player cards are frustrating to keep organized in a meaningful way that allows you to avoid missing guys when they come to town. However, the feeling you get as you complete these cards makes it worth the while. Luckily I was able to complete this card when I got Patterson’s signature one week after Pie’s- so I really didn’t have time to misplace the card.

Danny Putnam (2007 – no. 42)

This is one of numerous reasons I’m not a professional baseball manager. Putnam is a great kid, and I would be tempted to have the Sacramento RiverCats lineup cards preprinted with his name on them. What I don’t understand is how the left-handed hitting Putnam’s .324 batting average against lefties is a full 80 points higher than his average against righties. Clearly I’m missing something.

Guillermo Rodriguez (2007 – no. 77)

Rodriguez is a solid catcher for the Fresno Grizzlies. He tends to hit better in California than on the road, and even the thin air of Albuquerque failed to awaken his bat as he went 2 for 12 with no runs, zero RBI, and handsful of cards signed. Guillermo is definitely no slouch with the Sharpie!

Rick Vandenhurk (2007 – no. 123)

Rick was recently sent to Albuquerque from Florida after Marlins officials realized I needed to get his Topps 52 rookie card autographed for my collection. I didn’t get a chance to speak directly to Rick though as he was busy talking on his phone while he signed a couple of cards for me after a game. I don’t speak Dutch, so I can’t tell you what he was talking about. Possibly he was ordering tulip bulbs to plant across the warning track at Isotopes Park. Another fantastic signer- Rick will autograph cards until your Sharpie runs dry!

Perhaps you are a new reader to this blog and are just discovering that there is another person who is trying to pull together as nearly complete of an autographed set of these Topps 52s rookie cards as possible… and are finding it difficult to believe that this person also enjoys trading? Well, it is absolutely true! You should not hesitate to check out my trade list posted on the Aardvark Trading Co. website. As they say in certain reruns on the Game Channel, “Let’s Make a Deal!”

– Kris

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