Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lots of B's and a clarification on card pictures

So I wanted to clarify something before I start this post: from here on out, I am only going to include pictures of cards that have the player wearing an Orioles uniform. I will probably also include pictures of guys in O's minor league affiliate uni's but none from other teams. I know this is unfair to the multitude of players that don't have an Orioles card, but that is how things are going to go down from here on out. I never realized that scanning and cropping cards took so friggin' long!

Eric Bell (85-87)
He pitched one full season for the O's in 1987 and finished in the top 10 in the AL in losses, wild pitches and HR allowed. He started 34 games in his career, 29 of which were in '87 and didn't have much success overall. However, for an '87 Topps, this card is in great shape and the autograph really pops!

Juan Bell (89-91)
Juan is best known for being part of the trade from the Dodgers that sent Eddie Murray to LA. I think that he was to have been the 2nd baseman of the future but that never really panned out, since he batted only .172 in 100 games during the '91 season.

Rob Bell (07) Auto on Reds card
Rob was a relief pitcher who appears to have wrapped up his career with the O's. I remember that he was in the '07 team picture.

Armando Benitez (94-98)
Now he had a "lively' arm. I think his fastball could easily reach the triple digits, but where it was heading was more of the issue. My favorite Armando memory is of him drilling a Yankee in the back after giving up a home run and then challenging their entire team to a fight. He didn't win; but this is one of the more memorable Orioles team brawls. He has had a pretty long MLB career and compiled 289 saves. Also I wanted to mention that this Leaf Signature Series card was clearly designed to be signed across the bottom, above the Baltimore Orioles, but Armando was having none of that. He signed this card where he wanted to sign it.

Geronimo Berroa (97)
GERONIMO! He only played half of a season for the O's so I'm pretty surprised that he has an Orioles card, much less an auto card! Good for my purposes. And that's all I have to say about that.

Randor Bierd (08)
Randor the Burninator! Trogdor! Ring a bell to anyone?
Well I was able to get Randor to sign a few cards for me last season, one in Bowie and one in Tampa. Pretty much all it took was me knowing his name and asking him for his autograph. He seemed like a pretty decent guy. I know that the O's picked him up in the 07 Rule V draft from the Tigers and traded him to the Red Sox this past offseason for David Pauley.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bring on the B's

Jeff Ballard (87-91)
Somehow I overlooked Jeff in my previous "B" post so I apologize. He had an amazing year for the 89 "why not?" Orioles, getting nearly 50% of his career wins in that single season.

Rick Bauer (01-05)
He was an OK reliever for the O's for a few years, but has never had too much success in the bigs. He was trying to make the 2009 Blue Jays when I saw him pitch this spring, but got cut within the past week.

Jose Bautista (1 of 2 that have played for the O's) (88-91)
I can't say I have much to say about Jose. It looks like he has a pretty sweet hairstyle in the picture? He was a 1987 Rule V pick by the O's from the Mets? I'm clearly struggling for something worthwhile to say here...

Steve Bechler (02) d.03
For a guy that only appeared in 3 games for the Orioles, Steve has a special spot in my heart. I can't say that I remember him pitching for the team, but I do recall what happened in spring training 2003; Steve passed away. His death was ultimately found to be due to the weight-loss supplement Ephedra and he was only 22, leaving behind a wife and young child. His death led to increased scrutiny regarding Ephedra, and eventually caused the drug to be pulled from stores, possibly saving others from Steve's fate. I think that he is the youngest Oriole player to pass away and the only one to die on the playing field. RIP Steve.

Erik Bedard (02, 04-07)
During Erik's time in Baltimore he had a rocky relationship with the media (avoiding them like the plague so the fans never got to know him well) but he was a fairly successful pitcher on the field. I think that he would have had a good shot at the 07 AL Cy Young if he hadn't been hurt for the entire month of September, and as I recall it, he almost led the league in strikeouts anyway.
AND-because of his great 2007, Andy MacPhail was able to fleece the Mariners in one of the greatest Oriole trades ever. Bedard, and his awful 2008, for Adam "CF'er of the future" Jones, George "Peril" Sherrill, Chris Tillman (if you don't know the name yet, you will once he starts piling up the Cy Youngs), Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler.

2 more requests

So today I sent two more TTM letters to recent Orioles, Kurt Ainsworth and Kris Benson. Now while I know that Ainsworth didn't have much of a career and is no longer active; I think that Benson is still trying to get back into some team's rotation. I have no idea if he is currently signed with anyone.

My new friend, Lance Burnitz, offered me some advice over the weekend too. I guess the best course of action for current players is to send a request c/o their team as opposed to sending to their home address. For retired players, the home address seems to be the way to go. And he also suggested Sports Collectors.net as a way to find out who signs, who doesn't and meet some other collectors. I will probably check that out when the next paycheck hits!

I'm also really looking forward to a package sent to me by my buddy Rod of Padrographs. I'm excited to see what is coming my way. I hope to find some old school Padres autographs in my stash to send to him to return the favor.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

First TTM requests sent

So I finally sent out my first batch of TTM requests yesterday using players' home addresses from Harvey Meiselman's list. I focused on some modern era players that I had Orioles cards of, but was never able to get anything signed at games.
I sent requests to Kevin Millar, Eli Marrero, Scott Williamson, Andy Van Slyke, Jaret Wright, John Halama, and Cory Doyne. No huge names, so I hope to get a couple of these returned to me.

For all you seasoned pros at TTM collecting, how long do requests take if they are sent to a player's home address and they are still actively playing? I feel like it might take quite a while.

I've also been buying up some older O's cards from guys that played in the 50s and 60s to get sent out next week. I imagine that the success rate with the older players is probably higher than the modern-era guys since I doubt they get as many requests. Or at least that's what I'm hoping...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beginning of the B's

Harold Baines (93-95, 97-99, 00)
So with the good news yesterday that he was elected to the O's HOF, it seems fitting that I start posting my "B" autographs today and that HB was leading off (even though he was always more of a middle of the order type hitter). Harold was on the O's during the some of the years that the team was still good, or at least competitive, so I associate him with some good memories. He seemed to always be hitting home runs or hitting in the clutch. I've hoped for years that the O's could find a base-coaching job for him but no luck so far.

Paul Bako (07)
The backup catcher for the 07 season, he was good defensively but not too hot with the stick.
And I don't know how obvious it is to see here, but this is one of those tiny Old Judge cards. I was never a fan of them since they tended to hide amongst my other cards. But I shouldn't hold that against Mr. Bako, he seemed like a good guy.

James Baldwin (05)
Wow, this is an ugly card. There is so much going on that it takes the focus away from the autograph. I think that the creator of Zubaz must have been working for Fleer in the late 90s, but hey, at least all of his information is listed on the front and we're reminded of his name and team twice. Great job Fleer!
Now that I got that out of the way, I do remember getting this signed by James when the White Sox were at Camden Yards sometime in the late 90s. He seemed cool enough, but I think that he was probably disappointed in me for choosing such a nauseating card for him to sign!

Kevin Bass (95)
So I know that I got this card signed at an O's game but I don't remember anything about the experience. Interestingly enough, the Orioles were the last team Baldwin & Bass played for in their careers. And that is quite a mustache in the picture, well done on that Kevin!

Tony Batista (01-03)
What exactly is signed on this card? I think that I have seen a few of his autographs and they all looked like this. Does he have a really long name? Is it an inscription? I have no idea.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bobblehead News

So in addition to collecting Orioles autographs, I like to snag all of the Orioles bobbleheads that I can get my hands on. This year the O's have a bobble giveaway of Jonesey set for Wednesday, June 17th.

Well the Frederick Keys just one-upped that today by announcing that they will be having both a Wieters & Markakis bobblehead promo this season. Wieters is scheduled for Saturday, May 9 and Markakis is set for Saturday, July 25. Believe me, those dates are already booked in my calendar. They will look nice with the 08 Orioles Kakes bobble and the limited edition 08 BaySox Wieters that I got for Christmas from someone who knows what I like!

I will post pictures of any of the 09 giveaways once I can find pics online.

Wieters Found on the Baltimore Sun webpage!

Upon further review-down to 36%

Last night I checked my list of all-time O's against the Orioles media guide and turned up 21 players that I had overlooked.
So now the total # of all-time O's is at 863, of which I have 311 (woah-oh) autographs=36%. I seem to be going in the wrong direction, so it's time to step things up. I hope to start sending some TTM requests this weekend and might buy a card or two to get things moving.

I also recalculated the # of former O's who I don't have autos of that have passed away. This number, adding in recent deaths and some I missed, is now at 108. My girlfriend did some research for me on white whale candidate #1, Tom Gastall, who died at age 24 when he was trying to learn how to fly a plane. I guess that he had some training but not enough, and unfortunately crashed and died in the Chesapeake Bay.

I also uncovered white whale candidate #2 in Howie Fox. He was on the O's '54 team and was stabbed to death in 1955 while trying to throw 3 drunks out of his bar in Texas, dying at age 34.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Harold Baines elected to O's HOF!

I just heard that Harold Baines was elected to the O's Hall of Fame! Big news since Harold always seemed to be soo clutch during his stints(all 3 of em) in the orange and black. I can't wait to see him back at the Yard this summer. I might try to snag an autograph while I'm at it since the only one I have of him is on a White Sox card. HB!

What I have vs. what I need (37%!)

The total number of different Orioles players autographs I have on cards is 311. A pretty cool number since I've always been a fan of the band 311, "Woah-oh, Amber is the color of your energy", sorry I had to do it.

Back to the subject at hand; that means there are 531 O's players that I do not have autographs of. So this leaves my total at 37% of the project goal. It also make me think that 842 different players (including the guys I speculate will be on the 09 roster) does not seem like a lot for the 54 year history of the team. I compiled my list of players using baseball-reference.com's year-by-year list of guys that appeared in at least 1 game for the team. I will cross-check this with the Orioles media guide to see if I overlooked anybody, which is definitely a possibility.

As Rod pointed out to me earlier, I'm not interested in the autographs of the guys who have O's cards but never appeared in a game, or those who have been on the official roster but didn't make it on the field. Even though that's a lot further than I could ever have dreamed of making it to the bigs; I just can't count those guys in my project goal.

Breaking down the 531 players I still need autographs of, by my count 73 have passed away, with Tom Gastall, who died in 1956 being an early candidate for my white whale.

So now I am going to try to formulate a game plan at tackling the project. I think my first move will be to start obtaining O's cards, if available, for the original O's of 1954 and send them TTM requests; then working my way towards more recent years, occasionally buying cards on ebay or beckett if I can get a deal on a nice autograph. Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another A auto

So I came across one that I missed the other day.

Winston Abreu (06) Cubs logo on card but picture has him wearing a Braves uni
He's another guy who wasn't in Baltimore long enough for me to really get much of a feel for him. He did make his major league debut in an O's uniform, it just wasn't very good. He appeared in 7 games and had an ERA around 10. I don't think he has a card in an O's uniform, so I will have to be happy with my Cubs-Braves hybrid auto.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Beginning (updated with pictures!)

So here I go...

Don Aase (85-88)
What a great last name, how is it supposed to be pronounced? I just always say ass, or ace, one of the two must be correct.

Mike Adamson (67-69)

Manny Alexander (92-96)
For some reason, I always think that Manny was better than he actually was. I think it has something to do with the fact that he was the big prospect during the early 90s, when I was really getting into the O's. He turned out to be a .231 career hitter who managed to smack 15 HRs with 6 teams over 11 MLB seasons. Upon further review, it looks like Manny was out of the bigs for three years from 01-03 and then made an improbable end of career return to the majors to get 73 more at bats over 3 seasons and continue to not hit. At least he stuck with it I guess.

Roberto Alomar (96-98) Auto on Padres card
As good as he was, I will always remember him spitting in the umpire's face. You don't mess with the Roberto!

Brady Anderson (88-01)
Always awesome in centerfield and I think he holds the O's single season HR record with 50. But there's no way he was juicing. None. He was still in great shape at his O's HOF induction a year or two ago and I think he still wants to play. But he mainly seems to "play" at clubs in LA and show up on TMZ.com from time to time.
He was also just a little cocky about his looks, a fact that I'm reminded of by my girlfriend's personalized autographed poster. Brady is only wearing his compression shorts in this poster, and she was a teenager when he gave this to her as a gift assisting his business manager. She keeps the poster in the back of her closet. It's something she likes to have but not to see.

Danny Ardoin (06) Royal Rookies auto
I had no idea who he was when the O's signed him. I found out that his name is pronounced "Ard-wah" And that is pretty much all I know about him. This is what wikipedia says about his time with the O's "He appeared in only five games with Baltimore and recorded one hit in 13 at bats before being released in September." Maybe that's why I don't remember him very well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Upon Further Review

I came across a few documents on my computer from past attempted starts at this project last night since this is not the first time that I decided that I wanted to put this project together. I have a majority of my Orioles autographs cataloged in an Excel form, so now I just need to take pictures of them to input them into the blog. I will appreciate any suggestions about the easiest way to do this since I am so new to this whole blogging thing.

Using baseball-reference.com, I also put together a list of the O's players of who I don't have an autograph of already. The list is very formidable and while putting it together, I also did a bit of research as to who might have passed away already. I also checked the likelihood that each of the players on the list has a card of them in an Oriole uniform using Beckett.com. I don't really know what I'm getting myself into, but I look forward to the challenge.

I hope to somehow transfer both of my excel lists into my blog for everyone to see. Again, any help is really appreciated.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Idea

So as a life long Orioles fan and baseball card/autograph collector, I decided that the logical collection for me would be Orioles autographs on baseball cards. I specifically like having the player sign a card of himself in an Orioles Uniform, but sometimes that isn't possible, so any card of the player has to do. My eventual goal is to have an autograph of every player to ever wear there Oriole Uniform from 1954-now.

Over the years I have put my collection together with in-person signings, TTM requests, and at games. I have yet to exactly catalog everything that I have but I hope to have this done shortly. Once that is taken care of I plan on updating my future successes, which hopefully will be many, on my blog. I've been motivated to start sharing this process by checking out all of the other baseball-centric sites in the blogosphere. I have been in touch with a few of the bloggers and love the passion behind their interests. I look forward to sharing my quest with you!