Posts Tagged ‘in the act’

tradition- and breaking away

April 23, 2009

I have been a fan of 2000 Fleer Tradition baseball cards since I purchased my first pack at the unlikeliest of places- (then) Bank One Ballpark in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. I do not recall how much they charged for packs of cards at the ballpark, but I would hazard a guess that they were priced comfortably between a $1 ticket and the cost of a beer.

It took me quite a while to pull this set together, which makes sense because it predated the existence of a wide-spread baseball card blogging community to trade with. I also wasn’t horribly motivated to complete the set since I spent the majority of my free time trying to gather together cards to get autographed during the next season of the Arizona Fall League. I really never envisioned finding many opportunities to get these cards autographed in person, let alone imagine having the chance to knock four of them out in less than a 24-hour period.

As it turned out, that chance randomly presented itself to me just last week. After the dust settled, I had only gotten three of them signed. And here they are…

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milton_eric_2000_fleer_tradition_178

weaver_jeff_2000_fleer_tradition_219

Each of these three players began the 2009 season on the Albuquerque Isotopes roster, so I was fortunate enough to pick them off one at a time as they prepared to board the team bus for their first road trip of the year. Obviously, none of these Major League veterans “wants” to be playing in Triple-A, but they were nice enough to sign a card or two for this fan without displaying any attitude.

The fourth card from the set that I could have gotten signed in person, but didn’t, is the one that features Tony Gwynn.

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Sometimes you are presented with a tough decision when a ballplayer will sign only one autograph per fan, and you have to choose your personal favorite card from the ones you have with you. With that in mind, I opted to break from Tradition and have Tony Gwynn sign his 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition All-Star card (no. 97F) when I caught up with him while he was in town coaching the San Diego State Aztecs in a weekend series against the UNM Lobos. I had received the card from Tribe Cards a while back as a gift. Easily entertained, I absolutely love having players autograph cards that feature them signing cards or other memorabilia- regardless of whether the photographs are obviously posed, or the player was legitimately caught in the act of being generous.

gwynn_tony_1991_ud_final_97f

Ahhhh baseball, the most wonderful time of the year!

– Kris

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caught in the act

January 30, 2008

I’ve never been proud of the fact that I sold my entire collection of baseball cards while in college to pay for Ramon noodles and beer. But that is a decision that I’ve had to live with now for well over 20 years. Although I didn’t begin collecting again until after a decade and a half had passed, I never stopped following baseball religiously. I did check out the card styles and brands during those off years, but I never purchased any.

The discovery of two things in the late 90s led me back into the hobby: the Arizona Fall League and getting cards autographed in person.

I can never sing enough praises of the Fall League, and I certainly don’t intend to go into all of that here and now. (However, you can read my discussions of the Fall League in my personal blog from my 2005 and 2007 trips if you wish.) Suffice to say that in my opinion, the Fall League remains the best game in town- and well worth the travel if your town isn’t Phoenix.

In the “old days,” the Fall League used to produce and sell baseball cards. The best thing about that was it gave me an opportunity to get signatures from players that I had otherwise been unable to obtain cards of. The worst part was that the cards usually weren’t released until the final week of the short season, which resulted in a next to impossible challenge of getting the entire set signed. Scratch that…. the WORST part was when the powers that be decided to stop producing the cards altogether. My guess is that they found the chore of obtaining proper licensing too much effort or something along those lines.

When I collected cards as a kid in the 70s, I always hated opening a pack (most of us opened packs back then, not boxes) and finding a card of a player I had never heard of. Of course I collected them just the same, because my goal was to have an entire set. When I jumped back into the fray in the late 90s however, I wanted those cards of guys who hadn’t made it into the major leagues yet. My goal had changed due to how much I enjoyed collecting autographs.

So, even though Topps was still tops in my book, I immediately began searching for minor league sets, or thumbing through Bowman singles at card shows looking for the guys in the Fall League, or trying to anticipate who would come through the Valley of the Sun the following autumn so I would be loaded for autographs.

It was about that time that I realized something odd… I had become a sucker for cards of players captured in the act of autographing memorabilia for fans. Whenever I have more than one card of a guy that I’m hoping to get signed, you can bet that if one of them contains such an image, that card will be placed on top in the event that he only signs one.

autographing cards

And that leads to these images of cards I have gotten signed in person that fit that description. The Milton Bradley card is an Arizona Fall League card from 1999 featuring Denton Hanna photography. Normally I will go for blue Sharpie, but some players insist on using their own writing implement. I would never start an argument with Milton.

The Glen Perkins card is a 2004 Just Rookies. I often hear people claiming they don’t care for Just products, but I love them! I don’t need team logos, glossy finishes, or foil on cards- especially those that I get autographed. The other thing about Just is that they tend to produce cards of players that I stand a good chance of running into. If Just Minors was a person, I think he would be the kind of buddy that I would want to make mix tapes for.

The Chad Qualls card is from Upper Deck’s 2002 Minor League set. Although “technically” I can’t prove that Chad is in the process of signing anything, I’d give you odds that he was. I asked him about it when he signed the card for me. He replied that he didn’t remember, but “probably” was. Works for me!

The Fernando Tatis card is from the 1999 Topps set. A tough autograph as he doesn’t seem to enjoy signing anymore- hard to blame him if the photo is a representative sample of the scene he has faced day in and day out over the past 13 years. It is a GREAT photo, and I wish I had taken it! Better yet, I wish I had been one of the fan hands depicted in the photo. How freakin’ kool would it be to recognize yourself on a baseball card? Please let me know if you are able to identify yourself on a card.

I will be posting images every so often of some of my favorite cards of players caught “in the act” of signing autographs. Those of you wishing to strike up a trade proposal should keep this particular fetish in mind as you thumb through your stacks of duplicate cards.

– Kris