ndungidi & ginter – arizona fall league tales

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I thought a post was called for in honor of the opening of the 2010 Arizona Fall League (AFL) season this week. I will keep it brief, much like the AFL season itself. There are so many positives about the Arizona Fall League, it always gives me pause when a baseball fan confesses that they’ve never heard of it. That is a shame. I cannot think of a better value for true baseball fans than the AFL.

The Arizona Fall League no longer produces baseball cards much to the dismay of the autograph collectors who make annual pilgrimages to the Valley of the Sun each autumn. At any rate, here are a couple of baseball cards from the 2000 Arizona Fall League set to give you a slight taste of what they are/were all about.

Ntema Ndungidi (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 26)

This Ntema Ndungidi card brings back fond memories of his teammates talking about what an interesting character “Pappy” was in the clubhouse. Reportedly some of his odd behavior included having in-depth discussions with his locker. When I asked Ntema to sign his card before a game, he complied by laying a cheese sandwich he was eating on the top of the concrete wall between us so he could use both hands to apply his signature. I do believe Ndungidi has one of the thinnest Sharpie autographs I’ve ever seen. Ndungidi’s professional baseball career ended in Canada in 2003 without having made a single MLB appearance. Still, not bad for a kid who didn’t pick up a baseball until after high school.

Keith Ginter (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 15)

Keith Ginter on the other hand, made not only two Arizona Fall League teams (1999 and 2000), but also enjoyed his fair share of coffee in the bigs with Houston, Milwaukee and Oakland. While not as outrageous as Ndungidi, Ginter was reportedly one of five Astros who were tied up and robbed by two gunmen during Spring Training in 2000. I am assuming that the gunmen weren’t asking for autographs… While you likely have at least one of Ginter’s baseball cards in your collection, chances are that you don’t have this one.

I have no idea how many seasons Denton Hanna was employed to shoot all of the photos used in the AFL baseball card set, but he seemed to be a fixture at the various Fall League ballparks I visited. Hanna is a freelance photographer who has a pretty impressive list of clients that includes Topps and Major League Baseball. I am somewhat puzzled by the fact that his website doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2004. Thus, I will not be providing a link to it.

Hang on to your seats as I plan to feature more Arizona Fall League cards between now and the end of the season when I will be heading over to Phoenix to catch between 10 and 12 games.

– Kris

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