Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My First York Revolution Game

I went to college at York College of Pennsylvania in, well York, PA, but in the years before the independent Atlantic League York Revolution came into existence.  I think the team started up a year or two after I graduated, and I've always wished that the team was around during my time in York.  I've always loved baseball and feel like I would have really enjoyed working for the team in any capacity during my college years. 

Partially because it hasn't worked with my schedule and partially because they are about the 5th furthest professional baseball team from where I live, I hadn't made it to a York Rev game until this season, when I finally made it to a game on Sunday July 18th. 

If you're not familiar with the Atlantic League, it's an unaffiliated independent league and consists of 8 teams located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Fellow blogger Paul, who has been a trade partner and frequent commenter over the past few years, is the blogosphere's resident Atlantic League expert.  So click on his link if you are interested. 

Tim "Rock" Raines is the manager for the Newark Bears, who were in town to play the Revolution.  He is one of the main reasons that I chose that game to attend because I still needed his autograph on my Orioles card.  And as far as I know, this is his only O's card, so I didn't want to send it out in the mail.  Tim is a great TTM signer, but you have to send a $5 donation.

The funny thing about this card is that it's almost always listed as Rock's card on Beckett and other places that list such things. You can see the little RC (rookie card) designation under Fleer Platinum which obviously couldn't apply to Rock, but the stats on the back are from Rock's career; it seems like someone at Fleer was confused!   Both Tim and Tim Jr. played for the 2001 O's, so I can see where the confusion might come from, but this card obviously pictures the elder Tim.  Anyway, we waited down the third base line for Tim to come out to the dugout and Kalina shouted his name as soon as she saw him.  He came over and signed for a few fans, so it was really nice to get my card signed.

Tim was one of the greatest lead-off hitters and base-stealers in baseball history and his 808 steals ranks 4th on the all-time list.  He was also a 7 time All-Star and is a candidate to one day make the Hall of Fame; he received 30.4% of votes (of the 75% necessary for induction) in 2010. 

The York Revolution also have a few connections to the Orioles with their manager, Andy Etchebarren, and one of their starting pitchers, Matt Riley.  The Rev were holding a "Meet the Team" autograph & picture session at the game I went to, so I was able to get all of my Etchebarren and Riley cards signed, with some help from Kalina and my parents.

Andy Etchebarren had a 15 year career in the big leagues, 12 of those were with the Orioles in 1962 & 1965-75.  He was a two time All-Star and was a member of the '66 & '70 Baltimore World Series Championship teams.  Andy, who split time behind the dish with Elrod Hendricks for many of his years in Birdland, formed the battery with many of the best pitchers in Orioles history such as Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Milt Pappas and Steve Barber.  He must have been doing something right. 

Matt Riley will be remembered in Baltimore more for what could've been than what was.  He was the Orioles third round pick in 1997 and absolutely dominated every level of the Minor Leagues that he pitched in.  He was still only 19 years old when he was called up to the O's at the end of the 1999 season.

Matt was never able to match his success in the Minors at the Major League level and a combination of a cocky/entitled attitude and three Tommy John surgeries had knocked him completely out of affiliated baseball by the end of the 2008 season.  When I handed him this card to sign, he joked with a teammate about how he used to be someone worthy of being on a "Who to Watch" card. 

 I got a few extra autographs from Matt & Andy, so if anyone is interested in trading for these, just leave a comment.  It's funny to see an Oriole besides Cal wearing the number 8 like the card in the bottom right corner. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Right Place at the Right Time

Recently, well three weeks ago, the White Sox came to Baltimore for a three game series.  Greg Walker is the White Sox hitting coach.  He has a single Orioles card, this Crown card, which he earned by appearing in 14 games for the 1990 Birds.   He doesn't sign TTM and I've never seen this signed card available anywhere.  There are plenty of his signed White Sox cards out there, but I wanted his Orioles card signed.  A White Sox 'grapher that I meant on SportsCollectors.net had been working on getting this signed for me in Chicago for a few months, but hasn't had any luck yet.

Luckily, I had an extra copy of Greg's Crown card and brought it to Camden Yards prior to the Friday game.  Most, but certainly not all, coaches are pretty good signers if you can get within shouting distance of them, especially if they are with the visiting team.  I went down near the White Sox dugout and kept my eyes open for Greg.  I tried to find a recent picture of him online, but I couldn't find anything that gave me a definite idea of what he looked like.  So once a coach came out of the tunnel that kind of looked like the picture on the card, I held my card up and shouted out to him, hoping that I guessed right.  It was Greg!  And he came right over and signed my card. The other people trying to get autographs didn't know who he was, so no else else bothered him, but I got my guy. 

Greg had a 9 season Major League career from 1982-90, and played all but his last 14 games for the White Sox.  He split time at first base and DH and led the American League with 163 games played in 1985.  He has been the White Sox hitting coach since 2003 and was a member of their 2005 World Series Championship team. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday Pictures

A couple of days ago in my post about Rick Vanden Hurk's Oriole debut, I posted some pictures I had taken while getting autographs on Sunday.  Well here are a few more...

Mark Hendrickson was the first player out on the field and the first guy signing autographs

This is a pretty cool shot of Guthrie warming up with bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck.   Gut avoided all the autograph seekers after his session though...boo!

Mike Gonzalez signed for some fans.  I'm not sure what's going on with the girl's yellow hair in front of me.

Here's Armando Gabino making some sort of slapping/smacking motion while talking to Vanden Hurk and Matt Albers.

And here's Armando signing for the fans

Friday, August 27, 2010

Unpossible Autograph Friday-Curt Blefary

So I've decided to make every Friday here on the blog, an "Unpossible Autograph Day".  If this is your first time checking my site out, an Unpossible Autograph is my term for an autograph of a former Orioles player who has passed away, thus making their autograph impossible unpossible to get anymore.  You can obviously still purchase an autograph of theirs, but they will never sign any additional cards.  I got the term unpossible from Ralph Wiggum on the Simpsons; he is awesome. 

Curt Blefary's career arc was the opposite of many other players as his rookie season was his best and his success decreased with each passing year.  He won the 1965 A.L. Rookie of the Year for the Orioles, and is one of 6 Orioles players to earn the honor.  Can you name the other 5?  Don't cheat!

Curt spent the first four seasons of his eight year MLB career with the Orioles and was a member of the '66 World Series Champs.  Frank Robinson gave him the nickname "Clank" for his defensive shortcomings and he never really found a position that suited him.  He would've been an ideal designated hitter, but his career ended in 1972, one year before the DH rule came around.  He played over 200 games in left field, right field and at first base and also caught and played a few games at second and third base.  He was only behind the plated for 66 games over his career but something clicked between him and Tom Phoebus on April 27, 1968 as Phoebus threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox. 
After his playing career ended, Curt aspired to be a coach but never got the opportunity so instead held a laundry list of jobs including being a sheriff, truck driver, bartender and night club owner.  Curt died at only 57 years old in 2001 from complications of pancreatis.  His final wish was to have his ashes scattered at Memorial Stadium, but it was already being torn down at the time of his death.  Luckily, the Babe Ruth Museum came through and supplied the home plate used in the final game at Memorial Stadium and it was placed in the exact spot as Curt would have remembered it.  At the ceremony, his wife Lana said "He loved Baltimore, and he loved his fans, he was a lifelong student of the game." RIP Curt. 

I also wanted to mention that this card is the first PSA/DNA certified autograph in my collection.  It's nice to know that it is authenticated but I generally don't like to pay the extra amount that it costs.  Generally, I will compare other autographs that are available so that I am reasonably sure that the auto is legit.  I also try to do a little research on the sellers to make sure there other items for sale appear authentic.   I was able to win this card for a decent price on ebay so it was worth it this time around. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Upgrading Matt Wieters

I have been a big fan of Wieters ever since the Orioles drafted him with their first pick (5th overall) in the 2007 draft.  He's my favorite current Oriole and I was able to get his autograph multiple times during his time with single A Frederick and double A Bowie over the 2008 season.  But back then, Matt didn't have any cards that pictured him in an Orioles uniform, so I've been in need of an upgrade for some time now. 

Matt has some sort of exclusive deal with Tristar, or one of those companies, so he hasn't been included in either of Topps 2009 or 10 base sets, or any of their insert sets for that matter.  Matt was included in a few high end 2009 Upper Deck releases like Icons and he was also included in the mysterious 09 UD "Update" set.  A quick search of ebay will show that these cards are in the $20-30 range unsigned, so that's too much for me to buy just to have him sign.  Give me the cheap stuff.  So I waited, and then 2010 UD came through; even though they actually did a good job hiding any Orioles logos on this card, I still consider it an O's card.

I've had this card with me at every O's game since Spring Training, hoping to get Matt to sign it, but he is a pretty tough signature to get these days.  Since he starts about 6 days a weeks and helps to warm up the starting pitchers, there isn't a good time inside the stadium when he signs.  I hear that he occasionally will sign on days that he's not starting, but I like to see him play and typically go to games when he is starting.  I run into a Catch 22 with that problem.

Anyway, I was finally able to get my 2010 UD card signed on Saturday August 7th.  Matt was scheduled for a signing at an AT&T store in Columbia, MD, which is about 15 miles southwest of Baltimore, and I knew that it was my chance to get my card signed.  Luckily, I didn't have any plans that morning, and since the signing was scheduled from 12-1, I knew I should get there early.  I arrived around 10:30am and was around the 50th person in line.  By the time the signing started at noon, the line wrapped the entire way around the strip mall, so I was happy that I got there when I did.  Matt was really nice and briefly talked to each fan as they got his autograph. 

I had hoped to get my Wieters Sports Illustrated signed too, but it was a strict one per person limit.  Maybe next time...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oriole # 884- Rick Vanden Hurk

Rick Vanden Hurk made his Orioles debut this past Sunday against the Rangers, and pitched a scoreless 7th inning, striking out two straight batters after walking leadoff hitter Julio Borbon.  He managed to pick off Borbon after the walk, so it was a fairly impressive debut.  Rick had been called up to the Orioles from the AAA Norfolk Tides on August 16th, so he had to wait 6 days before appearing in a game for the O's.  I asked him before the game how the waiting game was going and he said "I just go with the flow", so it doesn't seem like it bothered him very much. 

Getting a ball to warm-up with, maybe an extra to toss to the fans too?
I got to Sunday's game early to try to get some autographs.  If you don't know, Sunday's are the best day to get the Orioles relievers' autographs since there isn't any batting practice and the pitchers warm up on the field.   Most weekdays, the relievers walk straight from the dugout to the bullpen and rarely sign.

Thanks for signing Rick!
The Orioles acquired Rick in a trade deadline move with the Marlins this past July that sent Will Ohman to Miami.  Rick has been a starter most of his Major and Minor League career until this season, when he has come out of the bullpen in his three big league games.  He pitched for the Marlins during every season from 2007-10 but bounced back and forth between the Major & Minor Leagues over that time.  He was only 22 years old when he made his MLB debut in 2007, and was the youngest player in the National League when he debuted. 

Rick was born in Eindhoven, Netherlands and is the only current and one of only 7 all-time Dutch born players in the Majors.  He didn't appear to have any sort of accent when I briefly spoke to him prior to Sunday's game.  It was EXTREMELY hot on the field, so nobody was saying much, but he seemed like a nice guy and signed probably 100-200 autographs. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Awesome Envelope From Jamie

About two weeks ago, I got an email from blog reader Jamie; he's a huge Orioles fan who lives in Rochester, NY.  Some of you might be able to guess where this is going...the Orioles' AAA team was the Rochester Red Wings from 1961-2002.  Jamie regularly attended Red Wings' games from the late '80s until the O's dropped their affiliation, and he was smart enough to bring cards for the players to sign.  He checked my want list and sent me some truly awesome additions to my collection.  All 5 of these guys are tough signers and I have tried to track them down for some time now.

You all know about Albert Belle, he was crazy.  Crazy good with the bat, and just plain crazy in real life.  He was also an Oriole, so I needed his autograph.  Surprisingly, he doesn't sign TTM requests.  So getting him in this trade was great.  I wonder what he was like when he was signing for fans.  Did someone have to force him to do it?

Orange Uni alert!
Francisco de la Rosa pitched in 2 games for the Orioles during the 1991 season, he had a 4.50 ERA in 4 innings pitched.  He has pretty much disappeared, likely to his native Domincan Republic, after his playing career ended, so his autograph is very tough to track down.  There isn't much demand for his autograph outside of some crazy Orioles collectors like myself, so I doubt I will ever see a private signing with him.  He does have a pesky '92 Stadium Club card showing him in an O's uniform (also orange), so I will still keep my eyes open for that one.  He appeared too late in the '91 season to be included in the Crown set.

Why the shifty look Paul? Is someone trying to copy your curly hair/awesome stache combo?
Paul appeared in 38 games for the '91 O's and had an 0-2 record with a 5.08 ERA, including 14 games finished with one save.  It sounds like Paul might have filled the mop-up role for that squad.  Overall, he pitched for 5 different teams over his 6 year MLB career.  Interestingly, he signs the same percentage(zero) of TTM requests that Albert Belle does; I wonder what Paul has against his fans? 

Paul appeared early enough in the '91 season to be included at the very end of the Crown set.  He also has a few other Orioles cards, so again, I will try to track down his autograph on one of them.  

Mark played for the Giants and O's over his 6 season MLB career from 1990-95. His one season in Baltimore was in 1993, during which he only played in 10 games, and was sandwiched by his time with the Giants from 90-92 & 94-95.

He only appeared in 168 games over his 6 big league seasons, highlighted by 64 games for the '91 Giants; he was typically used as a reserve outfielder.  Mark doesn't have any Orioles cards, which is good because he also seems to be allergic to signing  TTM requests.  What is it with these guys? 

Kevin pitched 5 games for the the O's in 1993 and had a 5.94 ERA.  Pretty much all of his stats over those 5 games weren't very good, yet he also doesn't like to sign.  

Thanks again for the great autographs Jamie!  I really appreciate your helping the Project along!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wrapping Up My Cards From The National

It only took just over two weeks, but here are the rest of the cards that I purchased at the National.  This is a random group.

First up is a Robin Roberts signed Hall of Fame plaque card.  Robin is a former Oriole, and a HOFer, so that makes this double awesome to me.  He is wearing a Phillies hat on his plaque, so that makes it a little less cool, but it was still a great pickup. Unfortunately, Robin passed away earlier this year. The dealer hadn't yet bumped up the cost after his death, so I grabbed this for only $10.

I can't recall if I have ever mentioned that I collect signed HOF plaque cards.  But I do.  I certainly don't focus on it the way I do on Orioles autographs, but if I can find them for a decent price, I always like adding them to my collection.  There have been some amazing players in the history of baseball and I have no delusions about ever having a complete collection of these things, but I like to add one here and there as it might work out. 

I had to pick up this Showalter auto for only a buck.  Haha.  Even if it's smudged and he's wearing an eyesore of a uniform, it was still worth it.  I would've paid $2-3 for his autograph on a D'backs or Rangers card, but since he was just named the O's manager the week before the show, I was happy to add this to my collection.

Somehow, I was never able to get Juan's autograph while he was coaching/managing for the O's.  He was a tough autograph compared to most coaches I have seen.  I don't particularly collect managers' & coaches' autographs if they never played for the O's, but at under a dollar, it seemed right to add him to my collection.  And talk about a snappy looking card, I can barely describe the gloriousness of this bumblebee color scheme.

Completely moving away from the Orioles, I found this great Josh Johnson autograph for only a couple dollars.  This "Clear Path to Greatness Signatures" card is one of those cards that you can see through.  Clear Path/see through, get it? In retrospect, I should've taken a picture of this in my hand so you could tell that it was clear. 

Anyway, Josh is one of those players that I don't collect, but I have a fantasy baseball crush* on since he helped me bring home the title in my most competitive fantasy league last year.  This is a sticker autograph but the clear sticker/clear card combination makes it pretty hard to see. 
*If you don't play fantasy sports, I would describe a fantasy crush as a fixation on a certain player who has performed very well for you and/or helped you win a title.  You tend to try to keep these players or draft them again, even as the get older and less productive.  Don't let me down Josh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More Cards From the National- Non Orioles Cards Edition

Yesterday's post got a little long, so today I will try to keep the write ups to a minimum.  A short blurb about the player's Orioles days and maybe another interesting fact should do it.

HR was only an Oriole for the 1993 season, but that was right in my wheelhouse of beginning to be a seriously dedicated O's fan.  That was the second to last season of his MLB career, but he was the O's everyday second baseman; I watched a bunch of games that year, so I guess that's why I feel like he was in Baltimore for more than one season. He spent 10 of his 12  MLB seasons with the Mariners, and he won three Gold Gloves and was elected to 2 All-Star games over his tenure in Seattle.

Obtaining HR's autograph has been a thorn in my side.  I've seen him on TV almost daily since the mid-90s as he has covered baseball for ESPN and now the MLB Network, but he doesn't sign TTM requests.  So I know where he is, just not how to get him to sign an Orioles card for me.  This Mariners card will have to do for now.

Mike is another player who I've been trying to track down for some time.  He was an Oriole during the 1988 season so is pictured in an Orioles uniform in a few 1989 sets.  I've found them for sale online, but only as part of a large lot.  I don't particularly want to buy 30 signed cards when 29 would be doubles.  So I'm holding out hope to find Mike's signature on an Orioles card someday. He went 1-6 with a 5.43 ERA during his only season with the Birds.

He played 22 seasons in the Majors for 12(!) different franchises which is the current MLB record.  It makes sense as that's almost half of the teams that he could have played for.  His career spanned 4 decades, which is also pretty impressive.

Keith "Zonk" Moreland played for the Orioles during the 1989 season, the last of his 12 year career in the Bigs.  He is pictured on a few cards in an O's uniform, so I would like to upgrade his autograph to an O's card.  Keith appeared almost exclusively as a DH during his season in Birdland, and his stat line wasn't much to talk about .215/1/10.

However, Zonk did have some better years on the diamond.  He won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980, a College World Series Championship with the Texas Longhorns in 1975, received MVP votes for his 1985 season with the Cubs, and had his Longhorn number 3 retired earlier this year. 

Juan spent 8 of his 10 MLB seasons with the Blue Jays, so his autograph is the easiest to find on Jays' cards.  He has a few cards that depict him in an O's uniform, so I'll keep my eyes open for an upgrade.  But this auto fills a spot for now.

Juan's career started out with a bang; he was second in the 1991 A.L. ROY vote, was an All-Star and World Series Champion his second season, and received Cy Young votes and won another WS during his third year.  Things would never get that good for Juan again, but that's an awesome way to start things out.  He pitched approximately 1 full season for the O's, split between the '98 & '99 seasons, and went 9-13 with a 4.20 ERA over 32 starts.  The Orioles traded him to Cincinnati at the '99 trade deadline and got BJ Ryan in return, so that's one trade that worked out for the late '90s O's.

As was the case with the previous four players, Dwight has an Orioles card, but doesn't sign TTM, so this Cubs autograph will have to work for now.  I read that he used to sing the National Anthem before some games during his time in Wrigleyville, which was either very cool or very funny. 

Dwight spent the second half of the 1994 season with the O's and was mainly used as a backup outfielder.  He was a member of the '95 Braves World Series Champs and finished second in the '89 N.L. ROY race to...

Yep, Jerome Walton.  Another former Cub who played for the O's later in his career (and has at least one card showing him in an O's uni...GRRR...what an awful running theme of this post).

After his great rookie year, Jerome was used mostly as a backup for the rest of his 10 seasons in the Majors.  He appeared in 26 games for the Orioles during the '97 season, his second to last in MLB.

We're FINALLY to a few players who don't have cards that show them in an O's uniform, so these will stay in my collection.  

This is kind of an O's card, right?  It says Orioles and all.

Mike was an extremely durable reliever over his 11 MLB seasons, averaging 64 appearances a year, topped by the 77 appearances he made for the '98 Twins.  He pitched in Minnesota for 9 of his 11 seasons, but pitched in Baltimore from 2000-01.  The man appeared in 125 games in just under 2 seasons in Baltimore, and he didn't get an Orioles card.  Relievers get no baseball card love.  The O's flipped him to the Dodgers at the '01 trade deadline for Kris Foster and Geronimo Gil.

Lyle Mouton (the crouton) was a reserve OF/DH over much of his 8 seasons in the Majors.  He spent the first half of the 1998 season with the O's before having his contract purchased by the Yakult Swallows of Japan's Central League.

He had more success during his college baseball career and was a star for the LSU Tigers for 1989-91 and was a leader for the Tigers' College World Series team in 1991. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Cards from the National- Orioles Cards Edition

Since it will be February by the time I make it through all the Orioles autographs I got at the National if I keep posting them one at a time and also writing about unrelated topics, I'm going to start showing multiple cards in each post.  I try to keep my posts somewhat time relevant on here, even if I can only justify the definition of time relevant as being monthly or possibly seasonal. 

Anyway, this post will show all of the autographs I bought at the National that picture the players on Orioles cards.  It's a long one (TWSS), but this will help move things along.

I'll start out with the guys who were new additions to my collection. 

Jim Wilson pitched 12 seasons in the Majors during the 1940s and '50s for seven different teams, but twice pitched for the same franchise but in two different cities, Boston/Milwaukee Braves & St. Louis Browns/Orioles.  He spent a season and half in Baltimore from 1955 to the middle of '56 and made the All-Star team both of those seasons, even though he lead the American League with 18 losses in '55. (Not sure how that works...)  He also made the '54 N.L. All-Star team while with the Milwaukee version of the Braves in addition to no-hitting the Phillies that season.  After his playing days, Jim served as the Brewers General Manager from 1973-74 and served as the first head of the Major League Scouting Bureau.  He passed away in 1986 at only 64 years old. 

I can't imagine that Jim was too excited with the close-up on this card, it kind of looks like he was doing his Harry Caray impersonation.  I also don't understand how a pitcher could be making the play that is shown on the card, but, hey, it is 54 years old.  Topps still hasn't figured out quality control, am I right?

Harry "Fritz" Dorish spent ten seasons in the Majors from 1947-56 and pitched for the White Sox, Red Sox and Orioles/Browns.    He spent the latter half of 1955 and the start of 1956 with the Orioles and appeared almost exclusively as a reliever.  He stole home as part of a double steal in 1950 during his time with the Browns, and to date is the last A.L. pitcher to do so.  Of course, that was before the DH came about and was back when anyone would actually try to steal home.  After his playing career was over, he was a Major League scout and pitching coach.  He passed away in 2000, at the age of 79.

Willy Miranda played 9 big league seasons for the Orioles/Browns, Yankees, White Sox, and Senators.  He was mostly known for his glove-work and led the league in many defensive categories during the 1955 season while with the O's.  He was the first Cuban born player to play for the Yankees and Orioles.

Willy was 70 years old when he passed away in Baltimore in 1996.  It's nice to know that he enjoyed the area enough to make it his permanent home after his playing career ended. 

Norm Siebern played for 6 teams over his 12 season MLB career in the 1950s and '60s.  He was a three time All-Star, a member of two Yankees World Series championship teams, received MVP votes following three seasons and won a Gold Glove for his work in the OF.  He spent the 1964-65 seasons playing for the Orioles.

Norm is still alive but does not sign TTM and it's hard to find his autograph on Orioles cards, so I was happy to come across this one.

Jack O'Connor was a relief pitcher for the 1987 O's and went 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA over 29 games.  He also pitched from the Twins from 1981-84 and the Expos in 1985.  He is another tough autograph to find and doesn't seem to like signing very much. I think his signature looks like it says Jack O' Lantern.  haha.

These next few autographs were upgrades to the collection or additions to my orange uniform collection.  Let's see if you can figure out which is which.

I feel like everyone knows who Lee Smith is.  If you don't know, Lee is one of the most dominant closers in baseball history and amassed 478 saves over 18 big league seasons.  He was only an Oriole for one season, but led the A.L. with 33 saves, made the All-Star team and received Cy Young and MVP votes, so I would say it worked out pretty well for the Birds.

This card replaces the signed Cubs card that was in my collection.  I sent Lee a TTM request earlier this year but he wanted $15 to sign my card.  I picked this up for $5 at the show.  Looks like I came out ahead on this one.

Mike is another guy who charges to sign TTM, and he wants $5 to sign, I paid $3 at the National.  I was on a roll. 

He pitched 18 seasons in the Majors for 7 teams, but is best remembered for being the Red Sox pitcher who gave up the 1978 playoff play-in game home run to the Yankees' Bucky "f%#^in" Dent. He was only on the Orioles for the 1975 season. 

Ain't the Orange pretty?
Lee played for the O's from 1985-87 at the end of his MLB career and he keeps busy operating the Lee Lacy Baseball Academy in Woodland Hills, CA.

Jeff M. Robinson, not to be confused with Jeff D. Robinson who pitched over the same period of time, was a member of the O's during the 1991 season.  Look at that glorious orange uniform.   Jeff M. had a 6 year MLB career and spent 4 of those seasons as a member of the Tigers. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Former Oriole Has Passed Away- RIP Bobby Thomson

In a year that has seen way too many former Orioles leave us, another player has become an 'unpossible autograph' with the unfortunate passing of Bobby Thomson yesterday.  Bobby had a very brief stint with the Orioles at the end of his career, which I blogged about last September, so I don't want to repeat, but he was a great TTM signer and was nice enough to return my Crown card in only 11 days last July. 

As someone who hit "The Shot Heard Round the World", one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, he could have charged mega dollars for his signature as some from his era have done.  But Bobby remained a man of the people, and signed for free until the end of his life.

We will miss you Bobby. "The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant!"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to the National- Willie Tasby

After taking a break from my National cards over the weekend, I will continue to roll on with them this week.

Up first is Willie Tasby.  This is the final card that I purchased from the dealer who had the other Crown autos I posted last week. Willie is a tough autograph to track down and I was happy to find his signed Orioles card. 

Willie played in the Major Leagues from 1958-63 for the Orioles, Senators, Indians and Red Sox.  He made his MLB debut at the end of the '58 season for the O's, and was selected for the Topps All-Star Rookie Team for his performance during his "official" rookie season in 1959.  He played in Baltimore until being traded mid-season in 1960 to the Red Sox.  Willie was with the Sawx for the final season of Ted Williams' career and grounded out prior to Williams' 521st and final home run on September 28, 1960.

I found a funny story about Willie floating around online;  apparently he played the field at the end of a rainy 1959 game without his cleats, afraid that the metal spikes would cause him to be struck by lightning.  Good ole Shoeless Willie Tasby.  Doesn't have quite the same ring that Shoeless Joe does, but still pretty hilarious. 

Orioles Autograph Trade List Updated

For all of you autograph collectors/Orioles autograph collectors, I have just updated my trade list on the sidebar.  It now consists of almost 500 autographs of players who have worn the O's uniform over the years.  Most of the cards show the players wearing an Orioles uniform, but some don't.  If you're interested in trading for anything, check out the list.  I'd really like to trade for some autographs that I don't have.  Let's make a trade!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tradin' Bobbles

Way back in mid-July, I worked out bobblehead trades with two fellow bloggers.  I normally end up with extras of most of the Orioles SGA bobbleheads, so I always like to trade them for bobbles that I don't have.  These trades are awesome because they let me add some amazing non Orioles bobbles to my collection. 

First up, I worked out another trade with one of my best blogging trade partners, Zach from the awesome Autographed Cards blog.  He sent me a Zack Greinke and a Dan Quisenberry bobblehead in return for a Cal 2131 bobble and a Frank Howard Washington Senators/Nationals bobble.  The Royals really do a nice job with their bobbleheads, and I specifically like the information they include around the bottom of the bobbleheads. 

This Greinke bobblehead was given away on April 24th of this season in recognition of Zack's 2009 A.L. Cy Young Award.

This Dan Quisenberry bobble was given away on 7/26/08 in the Royals' HOF series.  I really like his fireman's hat (for being the "Fireman of the Year") and I've always been a fan of his since he was a sidewinding pitcher. Dan died at the young age of 45 after succumbing to brain cancer in 1998. 

The second bobblehead trade went down with Josh from the excellent Dodgerbobble blog.  Josh is all about bobbleheads, which is very cool with me.  I sent him a Cal 1983 WS bobblehead and got this awesome Vlad Silver Slugger bobblehead in return.  It was given away in 2006 to commemorate Vlad's 2005 Silver Slugger. 

I've been a fan of Vlad since I saw him play for the AA Harrisburg Senators back in the mid '90s.  I also have a Senators Vlad bobble and was very happy to add another one to my collection.  I really like the excessive pine tar on his helmet and his lack of batting gloves.  They are both unique touches that show that the Angels crafted a very accurate Vladdy.  Josh managed to blog about our trade back in mid-July when it happened, sorry I'm so late to the party man, but it's better late than never right?

Thanks for the trades guys!  I'm always happy to add bobbles to my collection, so if anyone reading this has any to trade, let me know and we can try to work something out!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Unpossible Autograph from the National-Bobby Adams

This autograph also came from the National but is from a different dealer than the one that sold me the previous few Crown cards.  Apparently, this dealer would buy up collections of autographs at auctions and then arbitrarily assign prices to the cards.  He had an Orioles box of autographs and I was able to add a few unpossible autographs from that at very reasonable prices.   I was especially happy to find Bobby's autograph since this '56 Topps card and his Crown card are the only two Orioles cards that he has and I've never seen them for sale before.

Bobby played in the Major Leagues for 14 seasons from 1946-59, spending the first ten of those seasons with the Reds, followed by brief stints with the White Sox and Orioles, before finishing out his playing career with three seasons for the Cubs.  Bobby appeared in 41 games for the Orioles during the 1956 season and played 2B & 3B, exactly as this card says he did.  His 1952 season with the Reds was the best of his career; he led the National League in singles, games played & at-bats and received MVP consideration for his effort.

Before his MLB playing career began, Bobby fought in WWII, which was pretty common with players around that time, but I still like to give credit where it's due.  Bobby coached in the Cubs organization from the end of his playing career through 1973 and also spent some time as the AAA Tacoma Cubs club president.  His brother, Dick, and son, Mike, also played in the Majors, so the Adams are truly a baseball family.

Bobby passed away on February 13, 1997 at the age of 75.  Rest in Peace Bobby.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

National Success-Juan "Titi" Beniquez

Juan had a much longer MLB career than I thought he did, and played in exactly 1500 games over 17 seasons for 8 different American League teams from 1971-1988.  He spent the 1986 season with the Orioles as a super utility player, appearing at all three OF positions, first & third base and also serving as the DH.  Juan's O's highlight occurred on June 12 when he hit three home runs, half of his season total, in one game against the Yankees.  Atta boy, Juan!

Over his career, Juan was generally used in a super utility role, and rarely filled a single position for any substantial period of time, only appearing in over 135 games once in his career, when he played 145 games for the '76 Rangers.  His 5 seasons with the Angels were the most amount of time he spent with any of the 8 teams he played for, and his career highlights were winning a Gold Glove on the '77 Rangers and receiving some MVP votes for his '84 season with the Angels.

I really like Juan's autograph, it's very stylized and smooth.  I can also more or less read Juan Beniquez, but only because I know what I'm looking at.  Juan's autograph is readily available online, but I've had no luck going after the very few Orioles autographs I've seen for sale.  I bought this card from the same dealer who had the Hazewood & Melendez autos.  I have one more Crown card to show that I bought from him. 

As was the case with Melendez yesterday, I can't find a translation for Juan's nickname, Titi.  I have an idea based on my knowledge of American slang, but I don't see how that makes any sense...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

National Success- Francisco Melendez

I was able to pick up this autograph from the same dealer who had the Drungo Hazewood auto that I blogged about on Monday.  Francisco "Terin" Melendez played in 9 games for the Orioles during the '89 season and he went 3-11 with a run and 3 RBI.  That was the end of his MLB career, but he had also spent time with the Phillies and Giants over his 5 seasons in the Majors.  He played in only 74 games over that that time, led by the 23 games he played for the Giants in 1988. He came to the O's from the Giants for Ken Gerhart between the '88 & '89 seasons. 

If any of my readers know Spanish better than I do, they might be able to help me figure out his nickname.  I couldn't track down the definition of Terin, and am interested to see what it means, but I'm guessing that it's slang of some sort. Francisco stayed involved with baseball after his playing days were over and supposedly was coaching a team in his native Puerto Rico, at least through 2008.  He's a pretty tough autograph to track down, especially considering this Crown card is his only O's card.  There is no confirmed address or successes for him on SCN.

Oriole #883* -Armando Gabino

In last night's 14-8 Orioles victory over the Indians in Cleveland, Armando Gabino made his Orioles debut, coming out of the bullpen to pitch the 9th inning.  He wasn't particularly sharp, giving up a single, a home run, and a walk in his inning.  He threw 20 pitches, only 10 for strikes, but he retired one of this blog's least favorite players, Matt LaPorta, to end the game.  (LaPorta was one of the key Akron Aeros responsible for taking out the Baysox in the '08 Eastern League playoffs.  The Indians organization also conveniently rehabbed Travis Hafner in AA during those playoffs.  BOO Indians!) 

Last night wasn't Armando's MLB debut as he pitched in two games for the Twins late last season.  Unfortunately, the results were about the same and his ERA sits at 17.36 after 3 big league appearances. 

I've written about Armando a few times and was able to get his autograph at both a Spring Training and a Baysox game this season, so I'm able to add him to my have list as well as my overall Orioles player list.  I had a good experience with him at a Baysox game this April, if you missed that post, just click the link if you want to check it out.  Armando was a great guy both times that I got his signature, so I'm really hoping that he can pitch better the next time he takes the bump for the Birds. 

It's always fun to see when a player who signs his number on cards appears on different teams and signs the corresponding number he wore on that team.  Armando wore 61 in Spring Training and 83 as a member of the Baysox.  He is currently wearing 41 with the O's, so I would like to get a card signed by him now with a 41 on it!

* Thanks to eagle-eyed blog reader, Orioles collector and trade partner Russell, I figured out that Armando is actually the 883rd player to appear as an Oriole, as opposed to the 884th that I listed yesterday