Monday, December 9, 2013

Three Added to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Former big league managers, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, were elected to baseball's most prestigious institution today.  They were all elected unanimously by the Expansion Era Committee - a group commissioned by the Hall and made up of former players and execs including a number of people already inducted.

This brings the number of living Hall of Famers to 65, and the total members count to 303.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Brooks Robinson

The latest addition to my collection is this Brooks Robinson blue pen autograph on a 3x5 note card. I got it for a decent price on eBay. 

Robinson was an incredible infielder for the Baltimore Orioles, and this is a great addition to my quest. I was especially interested in getting this one after an unsuccessful attempt through the mail

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Orlando Cepeda

Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda was the last player's signature I added to my collection at the 2013 All Star FanFest.  To say he had a colorful career would be putting it lightly.  He played for several teams, spent time in prison on drug charges, and eventually was elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee.  

Despite a bit of a shaky signature in blue pen, this was a nice one to add to my collection. 

Fergie Jenkins

Update from the original post: I made a big trade which included sending the Jenkins book, and in part of the return I ended up with a Jenkins autograph on a baseball card. This works much better for me because I can display this card in the ring binder where I keep all my autographs. I'm sad to see the Jenkins book go, but the deal was too good to pass up!

Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was supposed to sign today at the MLB All Star FanFest, but he canceled that appointment.  Fortunately he signed yesterday, and a memorabilia stand had a few of his books on hand for a reasonable price.  I picked one up to add to my collection.

I'm still making my way through this biography, but beyond his record-setting seasons, he is notable for being the first (and still only) Canadian-born Hall of Famer enshrined in Cooperstown, AND he also played for the Harlem Globetrotters during the offseason!

Rollie Fingers

Hall of fame pitcher Rollie Fingers was on hand at this year's MLB All Star FanFest - handlebar mustache and all.  I stood in line for a few hours, and was able to get him to sign in blue marker (I think?) on a 3x5 note card.  

Mr. Fingers played for those flashy Oakland A's teams, and his crazy facial hair fit right in with the bright yellow and green 70s uniforms.  It was nice to get this one a few years after getting an unsuccessful return in the mail from him.  Even nicer to save the $10.

MLB All Star FanFest

I experienced one of baseball's annual traditions today - the All Star Game FanFest. Part carnival, part MLB exhibition, this week-long event can be a gold mine for autograph seekers. Today's list included a handful of Hall of Famers. I will post the ones I got. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wade Boggs

I was really excited to get this one in the mail today!  I had tried getting Hall of Famer Wade Boggs to sign before on a blank 3x5 card with no success. Baseball cards apparently did the trick!

Boggs was a great player for three American League East teams - Yanks, Sox, and Rays. He was always known for his high average.  He was instrumental (or so the story goes...) in changing the way that teams are assigned to players when they are inducted.

Boggs signed BOTH cards I sent him, meaning I have an extra one to trade!  

Thanks Mr. Boggs!  This one ends up being number 20 in my collection.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Phil Niekro

Update from the original post: I made a big trade and ended up trading away this autographed photo of Niekro, removing him from my collection. I'm now on the lookout for a replacement for this signature. I'm sad to see it go, but I think its for the best! Niekro is still living, and perhaps I'll be able to obtain one in person someday (or a smaller 3x5 card like many of my others).

I found this in a local card shop for a reasonable price.  Phil Niekro was an incredible pitcher - one of the last great knuckleballers of the modern era.  "Knucksie" may have had some incredible numbers, but this sharpie signed photo is pretty ridiculous.  From the bowl cut greying hear sticking out of the hat, to the glassy eyes...  it is topped off with the satin jacket tucked in to the road baby-blue 80s pants.  Wow.

Aside from the brilliance/ugliness of this photo, he played for my favorite team, in fact he was the first Blue Jay inducted.

Aside from all of that, I had already received a rejection letter from Niekro informing me that he charges for his signature, making this an easy purchase.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tony Gwynn (1960-2014)

I found this one on eBay - only a few dollars, but no guarantee that the sharpie autographed card is legit. For now, I will count it as the next success in my collection.

Tony Gwynn was definitely one of the biggest stars as I was growing up. His style was less about mashing the ball, and more about finding ways to reach base.

I tried once or twice to get his signature through the mail, but had no success.

18 signatures out of 62 living Hall of Famers, gives me my highest percentage yet - 29%!

Update: Mr. Gwynn passed away on June 16, 2014.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ryne Sandberg

Finally! Another "through-the-mail" success! It has been months -- quite literally, since Jim Bunning returned my request last July -- that I have had a successful autograph attempt through the mail.  I'm wondering if it helps that this particular player, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, is a coach for the local Phillies ball club.  It makes me wonder if I should try again for some other former Phillies/current Hall of Famers through the team.

"Ryno" played for many years as an All Star secondbaseman for the Chicago Cubs.  Like Nolan Ryan, another former player serving in another role, he sent a blue sharpie autographed photo of his current job, rather than when he played.  He also returned the baseball card I had included for him to sign.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lou Boudreau (1917-2001) and George Kell (1922-2009)

An affordable eBay auction caught my eye last week and I was able to get two (hopefully legitimate!) Hall of Famer autographs.  Lou Boudreau and George Kell were both incredible infielders for their respective ball clubs and moved to the broadcast booth once their careers were over.  Boudreau also managed in the big leagues.  Both signed on 3x5 index cards (which had been printed with their names) in blue sharpie pen.

Neither counts toward my collection of living Hall of Famers, but they add to my overall collection, which at this moment stands at 25 of the 300 players who have been elected.

Non-HoF Autographs: Miguel Batista

At a minor league baseball game last week, I met journeyman pitcher Miguel Batista, and was able to get his autograph on my ticketstub.  Our conversation stood out in my mind despite how short it was.  He commented on how beautiful my daughter is, and encouraged me to have more kids!  He is currently in his second tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, battling to make it back to the bigs.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Failure #24: Paul Molitor

I was a bit sad to get this one back.  I sent a request to Paul Molitor (who happens to be one of the few former Toronto Blue Jays in the Hall) via the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  It was then forwarded to John Boggs and Associates (Molitor's professional representatives) who opened my letter, and returned it with with the letter you see informing me that they do not forward mail to their players.

You would think the Hall of Fame would simply send it back to me, instead of forwarding it to someone who is going to open and reject my request, but that is the way it goes sometimes!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tommy Lasorda

Update from the original post: I made a big trade and ended up with a nicer Tommy Lasorda autograph - on the unlined side of a 3x5, and without the "To Mark" personalization. This works much better for me, and now I have an extra Lasorda autograph to trade or sell (hopefully to someone named Mark!)

My final purchase from Randy's Sportscards in Quakertown, was this blue pen autographed index card from Dodger bleeding-heart, Tommy Lasorda.

I met Tommy at a Dodger community event one time and had been lamenting that I never got his autograph while we lived in Pasadena. This is a nice consolation prize - even if it is personalized to someone named Mark. I've tried a few times to land his autograph through the mail with no success.

Rich "Goose" Gossage

Update from the original post: I made a big trade and ended up with a Gossage autograph on a normal-sized baseball card (and frankly, a card I like better than the jumbo one I originally obtained. This works much better for me, and now I have an extra Gossage autograph to trade or sell.

The second HoF signature i found on my recent visit to Randy's Sportscards in nearby Quakertown, was this oversized card of Rich "Goose" Gossage, signed in black marker. Gossage was an incredible pitcher, and I have already had a failed attempt to get his signature through the mail.

The giant baseball card has a bit of a crease, but the signature is clear (if not a bit faded).

Lou Brock

I stopped in to Randy's Sportscards in nearby Quakertown, and was pleasantly surprised to discover a few affordably priced Hall of Fame autographs for sale.

The first was this blue pen signature on an old Topps baseball card of Cardinal's great, Lou Brock.  Brock played for almost 20 years, and famously broke Ty Cobb's stolen base record that had lasted for decades.  It isn't a great signature (you can barely see it in this photo from my camera), but I'm happy to add another one to my collection at a reasonable price!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Failure #23: Ozzie Smith (again)

I already made the mistake of trying to contact Ozzie Smith through the Baseball Hall of Fame, but for some reason I forgot to look in my notes for that bit of information and foolishly sent off a through-the-mail request last week. Hopefully I have learned my lesson.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Non-HoF Autographs: Vizquel, Lloyd, Hamilton, Brow, and Eichhorn

I found these in a stack of old programs from ball games I attended in my younger years.

Omar Vizquel is the highlight here, with four others you may not remember -- Graeme Lloyd, Joey Hamilton, Scott Brow, and Mark Eichhorn.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mike Piazza

I was totally surprised when a friend and fellow pastor dropped by my office this week and gave me a gift - this book -- "Long Shot" by former All Star catcher, Mike Piazza.  And the best part?

A signed copy!  This adds another signature to my collection, and I'll cross my fingers that he makes it to Cooperstown.

If not for his career overlapping the "steroid era", Mike Piazza would be a sure-thing Hall of Famer.  Only time will tell if he is able to break through the stigma of players from his era (or if we find out that he took steroids...  he denies it in the book, apparently).

UPDATE on January 6, 2016: Piazza was finally elected - the lowest draft pick ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame! One more for my collection.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rest in Peace, Stan Musial

In what amounts to an incredibly sad week for baseball's elite, news just broke that Hall of Famer Stan Musial passed away today.  Aside from being one of the all-time greatest players, Musial was beloved across the country, as a player who excelled in an era when his St. Louis Cardinals were located further west than any other club.

There are now 62 living Hall of Famers.

Rest in Peace, Earl Weaver

Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver passed away suddenly this week at the age of 82.  My thoughts go out to his family as they mourn his passing.  At the time of his death I had  been unable to obtain his signature. His death means that there are now 63 living members of baseball's Hall of Fame. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Failure #22: Steve Carlton

I recently discovered that Hall of Famer Steve Carlton has a company called Game Winner Sports handle his autograph requests.  I found contact info for autograph requests and received an email from informing me of the following price list:

Steve Carlton By Mail Signing Prices

1. Small Flat Item - baseball card or 8 x 10 - $32.00

2. Large Flat Item - larger than 8 x 10 - $39.00

3. Baseball - $42.00

4. Bat or Jersey - $65.00

One free inscription (HOF94, 329 Wins, 4136 K's) per item. Please specify which one. Additional inscriptions are $15.00. Maximum 3 per item.

We can provide a baseball or photo. Our Rawlings Official MLB ball with Carlton autograph, one inscription, ball cube and shipping is $65.00. Our Phillies home 8 x 10 with Carlton autograph, inscription, topload protector and shipping is $45.00

Please make the check payable to the Grace Fund. Please include return postage and a self-addressed envelope/package for all mailed items.

Mail items to;

Game Winner Sports
555 S. Camino Del Rio, B2
Durango, CO  81303

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This just in...

The Baseball Writers have elected NO ONE to the Hall of Fame this year.  For only the 8th time ever, no one has been inducted using this tradition of writers voting.

Craig Biggio had the highest vote total, leading a list of names with plenty of question marks.  I'm sure the internet will be flooded with responses to this, so I will conclude by saying I'm a bit relieved that my quest doesn't get any bigger this year.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frank Robinson

I used a bit of Christmas money to add a signature to my collection. I haven't had any through-the-mail success with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, but I was able to find an authentic signature from an old Hillshire Farms giveaway card series at a very affordable price.

Robinson was an incredible player and managed in the game for many years as well.  He was actually the first African American manager in the major leagues.