Posts Tagged ‘autographs’

giles & cole – more arizona fall league tales

October 16, 2010

Are you aware that for a mere six bucks you have the opportunity to meet the most promising young talent professional baseball has to offer, often before the players become household names or show up on most fantasy baseball managers’ radars? Seriously! They call it the Arizona Fall League. That same six dollars (U.S.) allows you to sit comfortably in relatively empty stands in a variety of Phoenix’s Spring Training facilities and learn more about the game of baseball while chatting to people who have been heavily invested in the business their entire lives. Oh yeah, the games are generally pretty entertaining contests as well.

Marcus Giles (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 14)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Marcus Giles needs no introduction. What is important to take away from this discussion is that this is the type of player fans get to enjoy when they attend ballgames in the Arizona Fall League. Have you checked out the team rosters for this season?

The other important note I wanted to make is that Marcus’ older brother Brian attended several games to support him after the Pittsburgh Pirates 2000 season had ended. This is only an example of  course. In a nutshell, Fall League fans consist primarily of scouts, graphers, player family members and/or present and former big league players and managers.

Brian Cole (2000 Arizona Fall League – no. 10)

Obviously, appearing in AFL games doesn’t guarantee that a player will ever make it to the majors, as any of a number of roadblocks can derail a player’s career- or worse. Considered a top prospect for the New York Mets, outfielder Brian Cole was killed after being ejected from his SUV in a single car accident only five months after he signed his Arizona Fall League baseball card for my collection. I recently observed that the lawsuit surrounding Brian Cole’s death was recently settled– just nine and a half years after the accident that occurred at the end of Spring Training in 2001. Cole’s family reportedly received $131 million in actual damages from the Ford Motor Company prior to punitive damages consideration by the Jasper County, Mississippi jury that tried the case for the third and final time. Baseball fans can only speculate how Cole’s 135 minor league stolen bases in 320 lifetime games would have translated at the major league level.

Arizona Fall League…. Major League Baseball’s best kept secret.

– Kris

ndungidi & ginter – arizona fall league tales

October 14, 2010

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

the fifth dementia

December 27, 2009

When the fifty-two is signed in blue
It rises above all other cards
As Alberto takes the mound
six-four-three’s fill scorecards

This is the blogging of the card of A. Arias
The card of A. Arias
A. Arias!
A. Arias!

Alberto Arias (2007 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 82)

– Kris

krismas day triple play

December 25, 2009

One of the neatest aspects of immersing oneself in minor league baseball is that doing so affords the opportunity to follow your favorite players for a longer period of time than if you had waited to “discover” them once they become an everyday player in the majors. Of course, this argument makes the assumption that your favorite minor league players not only make that leap, but also make it stick when they do.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 45)

Born within a Bill Mazeroski moonshot of Honus Wagner’s birthplace, shortstop Josh Wilson was destined to play ball. I first met Josh during the 2004 season when he joined the Albuquerque Isotopes. A completely likable fellow, Wilson approached both games and practices with determination to perform to the best of his abilities and to improve at every opportunity, making him one of my favorite players for the two seasons he was in town. The thing I like best about Josh’s character is that he even takes his clowning around seriously. Wilson would be a positive influence in any professional baseball clubhouse.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome no. TCRC12 1752/1952)

With that having been typed, the man himself has probably been involved in as many trades as have his baseball cards. Over a span of only five years, Wilson has donned major and/or minor league uniforms for the Marlins, Rockies, Nationals, (then Devil) Rays, Pirates, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Mariners.

Josh Wilson (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – chrome refractor no. TCRC12 305/552)

I hit the trifecta when Josh autographed all three versions of his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for me this past summer while back in the Duke City playing for the Tacoma Rainiers. If all goes well, he will return again in early April when the Seattle Mariners play a two-game Spring Training series against the Colorado Rockies at Isotopes Park. It will be a pleasure to watch him running, diving and making dazzling plays while wearing a Seattle uniform.

– Kris

mr. jones and me look into the future

December 24, 2009

Mitch Jones autographed his 2006 Topps 52 Rookie card for my collection during the first few days of his only season with the Albuquerque Isotopes. Over the course of the 2009 season, Jones launched 35 homers to capture the coveted Joe Baughman award and earned a $7,000 bonus in the process. You can bet that bonus was well spent on shelving to house all of the hardware Jones earned during the 2009 season including being named the Isotopes MVP, PNM Power Hitter of the Year, PCL All-Star and being added to the Topps Triple-A All-Star team. I probably forgot a few awards, but you get the idea…

Mitch Jones (2006 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 260)

In spite of the fact that Jones had a card in the 2006 Topps 52 Rookie set, he actually didn’t make his Major League debut until being called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers during June of the 2009 season. If Jones can heat up in the Florida sun this spring, chances are he will hit his first of many Major League bombs playing for the Atlanta Braves.

–  Kris

what the morrow will bring

December 23, 2009

As the shortened days of this decade wind down, I am reminded that one of my goals of 2009 was to work at least one quote by Horace into this humble but lovable baseball card blog. With unofficial rumors swirling about a potential trade of two Brandons between the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays that would send Morrow to the Great White North in exchange for League, I thought this would be the best day to seize.

“Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth, and set down as gain each day that fortune grants.” – Quentis Horatius Flaccus (translated, of course)

Brandon Morrow (2007 Topps 52 Rookies – no. 59)

I was fortunate to have gotten Morrow’s 2007 Topps 52 Rookie card gotten autographed in person this past season while the Tacoma Rainiers were in the Duke City for a three-game series with the Isotopes. A huge fan of the Topps 52 product line, I particularly enjoy the cards that feature images captured during Spring Training. In this case, Morrow’s photo appears to have been taken at the Mariner’s Spring Training complex in Peoria, Arizona.

– Kris

clines cornered

November 1, 2009

Although I probably owe all readers who have spent any amount of time in New Mexico an apology for the title of this posting, I just don’t see that happening. Instead, let’s check out some kool baseball cards. These are all 1975 Topps cards that I got autographed in person during the 2009 season.

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Gene Clines – 1975 Topps no. 575

A hitting coordinator for the Los Angles Dodgers, Gene Clines made a few trips to Albuquerque during the 2009 season to help Isotopes hitters fine tune their approach at the plate. I was fortunate to have caught up with the “Roadrunner” after one of the games while he was hanging around outside the ballpark enjoying a smoke. Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to tell whether Gene was wearing the World Series ring he earned with the Pirates in 1971.

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Glenn Abbott – 1975 Topps no. 591

I’ve gotten cards signed by Glenn Abbott before, but I never had his 1975 Topps card when I’ve seen him. One of the advantages of completing a set is having a card of every player contained within on hand in the event that you get an opportunity to meet them. I still need a few cards to complete my 1975 Topps set, but luckily, I was able to pick this one up in a trade before the Portland Beavers visited the Duke City near the end of summer. Abbott pitched a perfect inning on September 28, 1975 against the (then) California Angels in what proved to be the first four-pitcher combined no hitter in Major League history.

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Don Money – 1975 Topps no. 175

Having set the major league record of consecutive errorless games at the hot corner at 86 with 257 opportunities during the summer of 1974, Don Money handled this card flawlessly after he agreed to autograph it for my collection. The four-time All-Star appeared in the 1982 World Series with the Milwaukee Brewers. Money is currently the manager of the Nashville Sounds. Don’s current signature is amazingly similar to the facsimile signature that was applied by Topps 34 years ago.

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Jim Slaton – 1975 Topps no. 281

Jim Slaton served as the Isotopes pitching coach during the 2009 season, so I had a great number of opportunities to get this card autographed. That does not mean that I appreciate it any less. A teammate of Don Money and the Milwaukee Brewers, Slaton won Game Four of the 1982 World Series.

– Kris

i’ll take pete lacock to block, please.

October 21, 2009

The 2009 baseball season proved to be rather productive in my efforts to get more 1975 Topps baseball cards autographed. This post features two cards from that outstanding set that a fellow grapher offered to get inked for me when he attended a Toros game in Tucson, Arizona. Incidentally, this guy has his very own baseball card in the 2004 Nashville Sounds team set. I’m not going to drop any names here, but I will let you know that he is not one of the players in the set.

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Tim Johnson – 1975 Topps no. 556

Tim Johnson is the manager of the abovementioned Tucson Toros that are part of the independent Golden Baseball League. It is worth noting that Johnson was the everyday shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers until a young whippersnapper named Robin Yount moved in and forced him into a utility role. I am happy to have this card autographed in my collection, but it would have been nice to have met Johnson in person and traded a few war stories.

That same game resulted in the addition of Pete LaCock’s signature on his 75 Topps card from my collection. LaCock served as the Toros’ hitting coach during their inaugural season in the Golden Baseball League.

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Pete LaCock – 1975 Topps no. 494

Any kid growing up in the 70s would be hard-pressed to claim that they never heard the name Pete LaCock. In reality, Pete’s true name is Ralph Pierre LaCock. As far as I know, Pete was the only major league ballplayer whose father was on television across the country on a nightly basis. In case you aren’t aware, LaCock’s father, Peter Marshall, was the host of the extremely popular game show Hollywood Squares. In “fact,” Hollywood Squares rivaled Match Game for bragging rights as the craziest game show on television at the time.

I am nearly positive that Pete was backstage during the videotaping of the episode when Paul Lynde went off on a tirade about how he believed that shoddily researched articles written by individuals and groups of people who share common interests would one day replace newspapers. When pressed for details on how these articles would be distributed amongst the population, the voice of Templeton the rat from Charlotte’s Web squinted his eyes and chuckled “…by carrier pigeons.”

I am typing under the assumption that if you are willing to watch the Game Show Network on cable nonstop between now and the next time I manage to crank out a blog posting, you will see that episode for yourself. You will not be disappointed when you observe Lynde’s outburst while a blizzard of Rip Taylor’s confetti dances like the Northern Lights on Lonesome George Gobels’ flatus rising up from the lower left corner.

Yes, I am still actively trading to complete my set of 1975 Topps baseball cards! My want list continues to shrink, so do not hesitate to make a trade offer soon to help me finish off this beast!

– Kris

A = g/ll + (n*r): the mathematics of blue sharpie

August 18, 2009

Try as I might, I find it difficult to believe that approximately 1.37 lunar cycles have passed since I last posted any scans of Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards that I have gotten autographed in person. Obviously the biggest thing that has happened during that time frame was the release of their 2009 product line. Certainly by now, everyone has seen these cards in person. What remains is the possibility that you may not have seen how these wonderful baseball cards can be further transformed with the few strokes of a fine point blue Sharpie.

I would also like to state for the record before I get rolling and eventually sidetracked a number of times, that I am interested in trading for any and ALL duplicates you may have of the “Electron” card from this set. While a few collectors dislike the oddball cards included in the Allen & Ginter product, I love them. Especially the ones that can be used to obtain unique autographs of baseball players and other celebrities, such as the St. Louis Arch for players in the Cardinals organization and the Washington Monument for random political glitterati (if you are so inclined). With that in mind, I couldn’t have been happier when I saw the “Electron” card and marveled at the similarity between the image and the Albuquerque Isotopes logo. Thanks Topps!

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Blake DeWitt (Electron) – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 79

Having Blake DeWitt sign my first A&G “Electron” card was a no brainer given his kool signature and magnetic personality. Besides, I had a couple other 2009 Allen & Ginter Blake DeWitt cards that needed autographed anyway.

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Blake DeWitt – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 117

I honestly didn’t get very excited when I looked over the checklist of certified autograph cards that were being inserted “randomly” into the product, but I was thrilled when I read that there was a Blake DeWitt bat card. These game-used relic cards look absolutely fabulous signed.

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Blake DeWitt (game used bat) – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. AGR-BD

*****

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Chris Davis – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 188

The Texas Rangers decided to send Chris Davis down to Triple-A to work on his hitting and to make it possible for him to autograph this card for my collection when the Oklahoma RedHawks traveled west to the Rio Grande Valley. Davis is a great guy with a monster swing. I guarantee you that even the baseballs he misses are sweatin’ each trip toward home plate while he is up to bat.

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Edwin Moreno – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 120

The native Venezuelan didn’t have much to say while he autographed this card after a game with the Portland Beavers. Oh well, he still has an interesting signature, and I think it looks fantastic on this card.

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Brandon Morrow – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 194

I believe I had issues with the design of the 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter cards when I first began seeing scans of them online. But after having cards like this one of Brandon Morrow in hand, I can’t recall what those issues were. This really is a stellar product. In a perfect universe, this card would be part of a 700-card set that would be chock full of rookies and minor leaguers.

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Matt Tuiasosopo – 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 174

Getting Matt Tuiasosopo’s autograph can be more challenging than correctly pronouncing his name. He recently passed through the Duke City with the Tacoma Rainiers.

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Brandon Boggs – 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 346

Speaking of “tough signatures,” check out this autographed 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter Brandon Boggs card. Even the most seasoned graphers require relatively think skin when approaching certain players for an autograph. Boggs offers a glare and a choice word or three short of a tirade with each signature that leaves you feeling grateful that he only signs one. Possibly he is a little more fan friendly for the home crowd in Oklahoma City. It would be interesting to hear from a RedHawks fan on this topic.

Allen & Ginter cards from the 2007 set that I have recently gotten autographed include the regular and mini versions of both Alejandro De Aza and Doug Mientkiewicz.

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Alejandro De Aza – 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 199 mini

Alejandro De Aza will sign one card per person per game, but without any attitude. If you are hoping to engage a ballplayer in an extended conversation, my advice is that you look elsewhere.

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Alejandro De Aza – 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 199

*****

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Doug Mientkiewicz – 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 241 mini

Doug Mientkiewicz is one of those baseball players I had seen play on television for years and never once considered what I would say to him if I ever met him. In fact, I never had any reason to think that I would meet him. Then he was sent to Albuquerque on a major league rehab assignment- twice this past month. Turns out he has a great sense of humor and seems to enjoy talking to baseball fans about baseball, driving, and pretty much anything else you care to bring up. Oh, and he will autograph baseball cards all night long with a grin on his face.

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Doug Mientkiewicz – 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 241

*****

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John Koronka – 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 257

John Koronka signed this 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter card recently when the New Orleans Zephyrs blew into town. As much as I like this year’s A&G product, okay… all of them, I think the 2006 series remains my favorite.

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Kris Benson – 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter no. 152

This Kris Benson card gets saved for last. I will leave it for you to decide whether I did so simply because his name is spelled the same as mine, or because he went to high school just a few clips down the road from the infamous Cardboard Junkie. I also briefly considered mentioning Anna Benson’s name in this article, but decided against it.

Well, as the days become noticeably shorter, I cannot help but realize that there remains but one homestand before the end of the regular 2009 season. While I may not have many more chances to get additional Allen & Ginter cards signed, it appears that I will eventually benefit from enough free time to catch up posting my favorites from all of the other cards I have been getting autographed this summer. Lucky you!

– Kris

will work for baseball cards: 1965 topps edition

August 4, 2009

Though fraught with risk, freelance work often offers serious advantages over the ol’ nine to five grind. Besides being able to complete the work around your schedule, contracting out your skills also allows for a creative compensation plan. For instance, I recently designed a website for a client in exchange for a healthy stack of beautiful 1965 Topps baseball cards that I needed for my set that I am building. I would be willing to trade html code all day long for vintage baseball cards that I need, so naturally I was elated to discover that I also was going to receive a half-baker’s dozen of autographed 1965 Topps cards as a tip.

Now that I have the cards in hand, I’ve decided to share scans of the autographed ones with you fine folks.

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Wayne Causey – 1965 Topps no. 425

Picking up this card was quite interesting since I had just written Wayne a few weeks ago- when this card was still on my 1965 Topps baseball want list. Also, I had just gotten this embossed card back TTM this past week, so they make for a super combination.

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Wayne Causey – 1965 Topps embossed no. 21

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Ed Charles – 1965 Topps no. 35

Ed Charles has some absolutely fantastic baseball cards. This is but one of them. Possibly better known as being a member of the Miracle Mets, I believe I prefer Ed in his colorful Athletics uniforms. No stranger to writing instruments, “The Glider” was writing poetry long before fans began asking for his autograph.

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Mike Hershberger – 1965 Topps no. 89

The comic on the back of Hershberger’s 1965 Topps baseball card includes a sketch of a player sliding head first into third base with nary a defender in sight. Given that he hit 21 triples in the minors in 1959, I have to believe that he wouldn’t have been sliding into a base unless a play was being made. Mike was traded to the Athletics in January of 1965 with Jim Landis. These cards provide an interesting mini study of the mid-60s baseball card manufacturing process as Hershberger is still shown as being with the White Sox, while Landis is depicted with the Athletics in a later series- though still wearing a White Sox uniform.

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Jim Landis – 1965 Topps no. 376

One of the things I enjoy most about autographed baseball cards is where the player chooses to place his (or her) signature. While many just slap it on haphazardly, most appear to give it some thought. Some players (current and retired) sign every card in more or less the exact same spot. While I tend to use a blue Sharpie for the majority of my autographs, I have to admit that the use of the black Sharpie by Landis really works well with this card.

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Bill Monbouquette – 1965 Topps no. 142

The surface of this Bill Monbouquette card suffers from either wax or gum residue. It also appears that Bill used some random blue marker instead of a Sharpie, resulting in an autograph that has either faded, or has bled into the card to some degree. Nevertheless, the card is a welcome addition to my collection- especially considering that Monbouquette reportedly charges to sign memorabilia sent to his house. Regardless of that, I probably would not be sending him any autograph requests, as I understand that he suffers from leukemia and probably has better things to be doing.

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Tommie Reynolds – 1965 Topps no. 333

Well-wishers should make note that former Major League outfielder/pinch hitter Tommie Reynolds has a birthday coming up on August 15th.

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Pete Ward – 1965 Topps no. 215

Named The Sporting News Rookie of the Year in 1963, Pete Ward seems to be the type of guy who would be a blast to have a beer with, eh? This is a beauty of a baseball card! Aren’t they all?

– Kris