Monday, January 31, 2011

Contest Winner Announced

The Earl Weaver autograph giveaway celebrating my Orioles Hall of Fame week was an amazing success. It was by far the most popular contest I've held and it led to record site traffic and a huge number of contest entries. 241 to be exact.

How in the world were there that many entries considering that only 46 people were in the contest? Well, on Monday, I wrote this:
If you comment on this post, you get an entry. If you are a follower and comment on this post, you get a second entry. If you have your own blog and spread the word about my contest, you get another entry, just share the link in the comments below. There is also a bonus way to earn entries, but I'm not going to say what it is. (Hint- Participate throughout the week.)

Many of you picked up two or three entries immediately. That was the easy part. But those of you who commented on my posts throughout the week picked up two bonus entries for every comment you left. I was only accepting relevant comments, but everyone stayed on topic, so they all counted. If anyone had commented on any of the older posts that I linked to throughout the week, they would have scored ten bonus entries, but that didn't come into play. I wanted to reward everyone who was leaving comments, because it helps me to know what you all think about my posts.

I know that at least a few of you figured out how to score bonus entries. dawgbones cracked the mystery early on and racked up a ridiculous 35 entries. But unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough.

Without further delay, here's the results of the Earl Weaver autograph contest via

Congratulations to Paul of Paul's Random Baseball Stuff.  He wins the Earl Weaver autograph and a stack of Mets cards. Thank you everyone who entered. I hope that you all enjoyed the contest and Hall of Fame week.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Palmer & Aparicio

I haven't covered any of the other Orioles Hall of Famers nearly as much as I've wrote about Jim Palmer, and I bet he likes it that way. I'm kidding, but if you've ever heard Jim call an Orioles game, he just can't help but weave in a few stories about the success he had during his career. And honestly, if I was as good as he was, I probably would do that same thing!

Cakes was an amazing pitcher over the 19 seasons he pitched for the Orioles, and was especially dominant from 1969-79 when his ERA never crept over 3.30 for a season. He also won three Cy Young awards, played in six All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves, and received MVP/Cy Young votes most seasons over that stretch. That's some serious dominance.

One of the reasons that I've covered Jim as much as I have is that he has remained a presence around the O's over the years, mainly because of his color commentating duties with MASN. Because of that, he typically signs at Fan Fest and can be seen around the ballpark every summer. It's nice for us autographs collectors to have a Hall of Famer who remains relatively accessible. 

Jim was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1990, but they had to throw away three plaques before they found one that got Jim's approval. Gotta get that face just perfect, ya know.

I got this card on ebay back in the summer of '09 and covered Luis at the bottom of the linked post. The sticker pops in the scan but isn't nearly as obvious in person and I'm a big fan of this card and how he's wearing the old school Baltimore jersey. 

Little Louie was one of the best fielding shortstops of his era and he was terror on the basepaths too. He played with the Orioles from 1963-67, but is best remembered for the ten years he spent with the White Sox. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on his sixth ballot in 1984.

Today is your last chance to enter my contest to win the Earl Weaver autograph. Entries won't be accepted after midnight-ish. Good luck everyone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson might be the best all-around player to ever wear the Orioles uniform, but to me, he will always be the jerk who refused to sign a sheet of paper for me at a Minor League baseball game when I was about 8 years old. I'm not a big fan of the man nor of the autographed card of his that's currently in my collection.

It's a certified autograph and all, but it's not an Orioles card per se, so I would like to upgrade it one day. I just have a hard time justifying paying a lot of money for the autograph of a player I don't care for.

Now here's my story. I know that some of you might feel like I should get over the snub and appreciate how great Frank was during his six seasons in Baltimore. Honestly, Frank's playing career was finished six years before I was even born, so while I appreciate and enjoy the World Series Championships that he helped to bring to Baltimore in 1966 & 1970, my only personal experience with him was decidedly negative.

I was at a AA Harrisburg Senators game with my dad sometime during the summer of 1991. There were normally scouts at the games, but the O's must have been off that day, because we spotted their current manager at the game. It was none other than Frank Robinson!

I didn't really do the autograph thing way back then, I was generally too shy, but this was a Hall of Famer. Now I don't remember their being too many more than 500 people at the game because it was really hot and we seemed to be the only two who knew Frank was sitting in the stands. He was wearing a large sun bonnet-sombrero type hat to try to hide his face a bit, but we spotted him anyway. The only thing I had to get signed was the autograph page in the Senators' program but luckily the souvenir stand sold sharpies. I waited until between innings and walked over to Frank and quietly asked if he would sign my paper. "No". And that was that. The other guys he was sitting with, including the O's GM at the time, Roland Hemond, kindly signed my paper, but it was no consolation. Frank had refused my request and I dejectedly went back to my seat and told my dad that he refused to sign. I think my dad considered asking Frank to step outside to teach him some etiquette and/or manners. Now my dad isn't the violent type, so you know he had to be pissed.

About twenty years later, that is still what I think of when I think about Frank, and I probably always will. He's one of my least favorite Orioles because of that and maybe I'd feel different if I was around for his playing days, but I wasn't. As Night Owl commented in my post about Brooks Robinson, his brother had a negative experience with Brooks and it's stuck with him over the years. While that seems to have been uncommon considering Brooksie's typically pleasant demeanor, Frank has a reputation as a curmudgeon. And I'm here to tell you it's true, at least in my experience with him.

If you want to read about Frank's career you can go here or here. Apparently he was pretty good.

Don't forget to enter my contest. Tomorrow is your last chance to win a certified autograph of Earl Weaver.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Unpossible Hall of Famers

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that every Friday is "Unpossible Autograph Friday" a play on words (borrowed from Ralph Wiggum of "The Simpsons" fame) highlighting autographs of deceased players. Today I'm featuring the three Hall of Famers who played with the Orioles during their career and have passed away. None of the three were inducted to the Hall as O's or are necessarily remembered for their years in Birdland, but they did play for them, so it ties in to my HOF week.

I've written about these first two players a few times, so click the links if you want to see what I've already covered.

Robin was nice enough to sign my TTM request about a year ago and I wrote about him again when he passed away this past May. He is the only HOFer in my collection who personalized anything to me. 

I got Roberts' signed HOF plaque card from a dealer at the National who hadn't raised the price on it since Robin passed away so I got a relative steal. 

My dad hooked me up with this Hoyt Wilhelm autograph for Christmas in 2009. (The write-up about Hoyt is half way down the linked post) 

I found this Wilhelm signed HOF plaque card at a flea market a few months back. I've made the argument a few times that I think Hoyt should have entered the Hall wearing a White Sox or Orioles hat over that of the NY Giants, but the decision obviously wasn't up to me.

This card is the only new image on this post, and Kell is the only player I haven't really covered before, so now you get something besides blurbs and links to my other posts. 

George was a excellent contact hitter who hit over .300 for his career, led the A.L. in hits and doubles twice in 1950 & '51 and won the 1949 batting title, denying Ted Williams his third Triple Crown. He was also a great defender at third base and led the league in fielding percentage at the position five times. He was a ten-time All-Star and also received MVP votes eight times. He played with the Philadelphia A's, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox before wrapping up his career with two seasons in Baltimore in 1956 & '57. 

He came short of making the Hall of Fame fifteen times via the writer's vote but was elected in 1983 by the Veteran's Committee. After his playing career ended, George went on to find success in the broadcast booth and had nearly a forty year career behind the mic, including almost thirty years calling Tigers' games with Al Kaline.

You might have spotted this Kell plaque card in the same post as the Wilhelm plaque.  

Obligatory contest plug- You can enter through Sunday for the chance to win a signed Earl Weaver card. If you've already entered, I would suggest that you check the entries post to see if you've been earning any bonus entries. Some of you have figured out how to do it and are really pulling away from the pack.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Cal Ripken Jr.

One reason that I think I have held off on profiling many of the big-name Orioles Hall of Famers is that I don't feel qualified to write about them. I can blog about the Ramon Nivars and Barry Shetrones of the Orioles past all day and feel like I've done a good job, but trying to summarize Cal Ripken Jr. and what he has meant to me and my love of baseball is a whole different monster.

I was born in 1982 and my love of baseball really started to take shape in the late '80s as I was playing tee-ball and later little league. At that time, I honestly felt like I would make it to the Major Leagues. That obviously never happened, not even close, and I had actually stopped playing by the age of 13 or so, but my love of baseball remains to this day. It's my #1 favorite sport by far; I spend a good part of every day thinking, breathing and day-dreaming about baseball. And if you asked me which one player pops into my head at any given time, it would be Cal.

Now I know that most '92 Fleer cards wouldn't be your first choice to get signed, but I love that this card has the date that the streak started and 2130 on it. Outside of any possible Orioles' World Series Championships in the coming years, I don't think anything can rival "The Streak" and 2131 in my baseball memory hierarchy. Seeing video clips of that game gets to me even to this day. The lead up to 2131 was so amazing. Could Cal stay healthy? Would it benefit the team if he took a day off now and then? How would he handle the pressure?

Well, the "Iron Man" obviously passed Lou Gehrig's record of 2130 consecutive games played and extended the record to 2632 straight games played. My dad took me to a bunch of games in the lead up to 2130 & 2131 and we watched the numbers change of the warehouse count up towards those magical numbers. He tried to find tickets to those two games but the cost was astronomical, I think in the thousands. It just wasn't gonna happen, but I appreciate that he tried so hard. Honestly, it was pretty awesome to see it on TV. I didn't know her back then, but my fiance, Kalina, was lucky enough to have some family friends that took her to 2131. She was standing in line for her "I Was There" t-shirt when Cal homered. Cool stuff, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little jealous, but I am glad that one of us got to be there for it. I was lucky enough to have been at the final game of Cal's career on October 6, 2001.

Kalina gave me this awesome card. 
It didn't scan well because it's in a screw-down case and I was too lazy to take it out for the scan.

Most of you know that Cal was the 1982 AL ROY, won the AL MVP in 1983 & '91, caught the final out in the O's '83 World Series victory, made 19 All-Star teams, won 2 Gold Gloves, 8 Silver Sluggers, was the All-Star Game MVP in 1991 & 2001, and won the '91 Home Run Derby. He has won countless other awards and honors over his illustrious career, too many to list.

Cal's #8 was retired by the O's in 2001 and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Thanks for everything Cal!

I have to plug my HOF week contest. Some of you have been earning a bunch of bonus entries. I won't comment on how you can earn them, but there are some clues in previous posts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Brooks Robinson

The "Human Vacuum Cleaner" might be the most iconic Oriole in the team's 57 year history. Brooks is regarded as one of the best third-baseman ever to play the game, as his 16 consecutive Gold Gloves attest.  He played with only the O's over his 23 season MLB career from 1955-77 and is absolutely beloved around the city of Baltimore. It's pretty common to run into people who were named in honor of him around the city. I've had the chance to meet Brooks a few times over the years and the man will sign anything and everything for anyone. His autograph has to be one of the cheapest HOF signatures to find because he has signed so many items over the years. I got this card signed, along with a few others, years ago when Brooks appeared at a local car dealership. I was still a kid and it was pretty awesome to have a few minutes of one-on-one time with a Hall of Famer.

Brooks received many honors and accolades over his outstanding career, highlighted by winning the 1964 MVP award and being a key part of the 1966 & 1970 Orioles World Series Championships. He was also a 15 time All-Star (in consecutive seasons from 1960-74), and received MVP votes in 11 additional seasons, including four top five finishes.

Brooks was elected into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1983. His number 5 was retired by the Orioles at the end of his final season. He is currently part of a Minor League baseball investment group that owns four teams in the Independent Atlantic League. My "local" Atlantic League team is the York Revolution, one of those teams, and the plaza outside the stadium is named in his honor.

Before wrapping up this post, I wanted to make sure to remind everyone about my contest. It ends on Sunday, and some people have already been earning bonus entries, so check my past few posts to see how you can too! Remember to stay involved. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- EDDIE

HOF week (don't forget to enter the contest) rolls on with one of the greatest switch-hitters of all-time, Eddie Murray.

Eddie played in the Major Leagues for 21 seasons from 1977-97, and is best remembered for the twelve seasons he spent with the O's at the start of his career. Over that time, Eddie was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. He won the 1977 AL ROY, was voted into eight All-Star games, received MVP votes for nine seasons, and won three Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger awards during his career, the majority of those honors coming between 1977-86. While not the worst trade in Orioles history, when the Orioles sent Eddie to the Dodgers in 1988 for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell, it was probably the worst trade in O's history at that time. Frankly put, Eddie's bag of bats would've been a fairer trade for those three.

Later in his career, Eddie reached the 3000 hit and 500 HR plateaus, and appropriately hit his 500th HR during his second stint with the Orioles in 1996. He is one of only four players to ever reach both of those magical numbers, the others being Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Rafael Palmeiro. Eddie was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 2003. I took this picture of his plaque on my trip to Cooperstown with Kalina during our Cooperstown-Niagara Falls-Toronto road trip in 2009.

I will always remember the EDDIE-EDDIE-EDDIE chants echoing through Memorial Stadium and later Camden Yards.

Contest Entries- Final Update

Here's what I have so far, including the number of entries for everyone. If you said you will plug the contest on your blog, but haven't done it yet, I will add your extra entry once you've done it, just copy the link in a comment.

Check it over to make sure it's correct.

BA Benny x11
dawgbones x35
JNP624 x1
The Dimwit x2
Hackenbush x4 x11
Dustin x13
Matthew x14
TheAngelsInOrder x3
AlbuqwirkE x2
Alvin x2
Mark A. x3
Play at the Plate x3
zman40 x16
Greg Zakwin x21
cubsfan731 x9
Cuby x3
CPD x2
Matt H x2
Nathan x2
TheBrooklynMet x3
night owl x13
dodgerbobble x2
Aaron x4
Carl Crawford Cards x3
IkesCards x2
Derek x2
Eric L x2
Collective Troll x3
Photos and Graphs x2
Fuji x4
William x3
Mariner1 x3
unclemoe x13
AdamE x2
Jonathan @ RGB Cards x2
Drew x2
Matt Pederson x2
Mark x2
Chris Mays x3
Offy x2
Beardy x2
Johngy x2
Baseball Nut x2

If you don't know what any of this is about, check out my post from yesterday.
You can win this card (I scanned mine last night, so this is the actual card you can win), and a bunch of other cards of your favorite team.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Orioles Hall of Fame Week- Earl Weaver & Contest Info

Over the past 22 months, this blog has featured thousands of autographs depicting hundreds of past, present, and possibly future Orioles players. I've mostly scanned autographs as I've obtained them, so you might have seen a bunch of obscure players, some whose careers lasted only a single game. Partially due to laziness, and partially because scanning hundreds of cards takes up a lot of time, many of the autographs that have been in my collection for many years remained in my binders, unscanned and unacknowledged. Well, that's about to change. Two weeks ago, I finally scanned the rest of the cards in my collection. So to celebrate, this week I'm focusing on all of the former Orioles who are in the Hall of Fame.

Embarrassingly, here's the break-down of how poorly I've shared my autographs of the nine modern-day Orioles who are in the Hall of Fame and the number of autographs I've shared on the site. 

Jim Palmer- 3
Hoyt Wilhelm- 2
Luis Aparicio, George Kell- 1 each
Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver- 0 (!)



I've decided to start the week off by showing off my Earl Weaver autographs. The "Earl of Baltimore" is the only modern era Oriole to be elected to the Hall of Fame without ever having played in a Major League game. He managed the Orioles for 17 years, from 1968-82 & 1985-86, winning four AL pennants & the 1970 World Series. His managerial approach focused on pitching, defense and three-run home runs but he is probably best remembered for his explosive arguments with umpires. Footage from some of his blow-ups are still regularly played on baseball blooper shows.

I obtained this autograph at a card show signing when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I don't remember meeting or speaking with Earl, but I was probably too young to have had much to say. I certainly didn't know enough to talk baseball strategy back then. 

Many of you probably want to know about the contest I mentioned in the title of the post. Well, it's really easy to enter. If you comment on this post, you get an entry. If you are a follower and comment on this post, you get a second entry. If you have your own blog and spread the word about my contest, you get another entry, just share the link in the comments below. There is also a bonus way to earn entries, but I'm not going to say what it is. (Hint- Participate throughout the week.)

The winner will get this Earl Weaver autograph and a stack of cards from the team of their choice. 
Disclaimer- the picture below is borrowed from ebay, but I have a copy of the card. It's a 2005 Topps Chrome Uncirculated Autograph. Good luck everyone!

Contest at Maddux, Glavine & Smoltz

You can win Curt Flood's biography and some cards!
Check it out!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Jay Gibbons

This card, along with the Geronimo Gil autograph that led the way for the "A Case of the Sundays" feature, was really the inspiration for my highlighting cards and/or autographs and/or players that I don't particularly like. This one fits all three categories.

Even before all the steroid confirmations allegations that led to Gibbons being unceremoniously dumped from the O's during Spring Training in 2008 (even though they still owed him $12 million), I never really liked him. He was one of the O's "better" players for a few seasons, but I felt like he NEVER came through in the clutch. I would rather have had Keith Osik and his .080 batting average at the plate down a run with two outs in the ninth than Gibbons. He just always seemed to let me down.

Now I won't share the nickname I had for him, because it's not very nice, but some of you might know it or be able to figure it out. The one thing I will always remember about Jay is how he managed to hit his wife with a foul ball during a game in 2006. That takes skills.

And this card, oh this card. Not to mention the autograph. One word really sums them up. Absolute crap. OK, that's two words, but it's accurate. You've got your blatant sticker autograph that doesn't fit in the with the card at all, and an autograph that isn't much more than two brief squiggles. If you held a gun to my head, I might admit that I see a J, a G, and some sort of i in there. Awful.

In other news- I have something big planned for the coming week. It's something that is long overdue. Check back tomorrow!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Random Saturday Autograph- Mike Figga

Mike played parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues with the Yankees and Orioles from 1997-99. He was with the Yanks for all three of his big league seasons before being selected off waivers and wrapping up his time in the Majors with the '99 O's. Strangely enough, Mike appeared in 46 games over those three MLB seasons, but only 5 of those appearances came with the Yankees. Talk about riding the pine. It worked out alright for him though; the single game he played in for the '98 Yankees earned him a World Series ring.

After his MLB time was up, Mike bounced around for five more seasons, spending parts of that time in the minor leagues systems of five organizations, three different independent leagues, and the Mexican League. Bad knees finally forced him to retire early in 2004, and he now spends his time coaching Little League teams in Tampa, FL. I bet his World Series ring is a hit with the kids, even if he didn't do much to earn it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Chico Salmon

For the first time in about six weeks, no former Orioles players have died this week. It was a pretty dismal stretch and the lack of news this week was refreshing.

Since I'm optimistic about the 2011 Orioles season and while I'm certainly not predicting a World Series championship, all of my winning thoughts have pushed me to feature a member of one of the O's World Series teams of the past. The MLB Network is showing "The Top 40 Greatest Teams of All-Time" and the 1970 Orioles came in 4th, so that seems like a good team to pick from.

Chico Salmon batted 1.000 and scored a run for the O's in the 1970 World Series. Yeah, he only had one at-bat in the series, but he was a key part of the 5 run 5th inning in Game 2 that put the O's ahead in the game and on their way to a 2-0 lead in the Series. 

That World Series appearance was probably the highlight of his nine season MLB career he spent with the Indians and O's from 1964-72. He was with the O's from 1969-72 so was also around for the '69 World Series against the Mets, but the outcome of that Series wasn't nearly as positive as it was in 1970. He was truly a super-utility player and did everything but pitch and catch during his career. Of the 607 games he played in the field: 164 were at second base, 137 at shortstop, 130 at first, 63 in right, 57 in left, 54 at third, and 5 in center. 

Interestingly, Chico had a well known fear of ghosts and refused to sleep in hotel rooms unless the lights were on; I guess that's one strategy for not having a roommate on road trips.

In his later years, Chico spent time as a scout and worked with youth baseball leagues in his native Panama.  He passed away in September 2000 from a heart attack at only 59 years old. RIP Chico.

Community Gum Contest!

There's a contest going on at Community Gum and you can win cards! Check it out, or don't, because then I have a better chance to win!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TTM Success- Hobie Landrith

It's been awhile since I've done a TTM post, and Hobie has been staring off into the distance from my scanned folder for almost a year and a half, so I guess it's his time to shine.

He spent thirteen seasons in the Major Leagues from 1950-63 with seven different teams and was typically a  backup catcher. He only appeared in more than 80 games in a season three times and is most known for being the Mets' first selection in the 1961 expansion draft; his being picked first might partially explain the '62 Mets all-time worst record of 40-120. He spent parts of the 1962 & '63 seasons with the Orioles.

For $5, he signed my TTM request in two weeks way back in September 2009. Thanks for signing Hobie!

I also wanted to let everyone know that there's another new Orioles autograph blog out there. Friend of the blog Austin has started the Orioles Autograph Project. Check it out if you have a minute.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old Orioles Fan Fest Memories

As I was writing about the 2011 Orioles Fan Fest yesterday, it made me think back to all the Fan Fests that I attended with my dad over the years. As far as I can recall, we have been to most of them since it's inception, possibly skipping a few of them in my high school/college years when baseball wasn't as high on my list of priorities. I tried to do some online research about the history of Orioles Fan Fest, but there is not much information out there. Almost all of the links I found directed me towards this season's edition.

Some of you might remember better than I can, but I think that the Orioles began holding Fan Fest offseason celebrations around the time that they moved from Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards in 1992. My first Fan Fest memories involve them being held on the club level at Camden Yards and I don't remember too many people showing up. I don't think that the current team members were there to sign autographs, but a few alumni were at stations around the concourse to sign for fans.


The one player that I remember meeting at a back-in-the-day Fan Fest is Randy "Moose" Milligan. Randy's last season in baseball was 1994 (he played with the O's from 1989-92) so I would guess that he signed at the '95 Fan Fest. Like I said, I don't remember many people being around, so Randy was able to personalize my card. I think that he was a nice guy, and I somewhat remember my dad and I spending a few minutes talking with him. Fifteen years later, my memories have obviously faded. Are there any other Orioles fans out there, that can share some of their Fan Fest memories? I'm really interested to hear what everyone else might remember.

Before I wrap this up, I want to thank my dad for always being there to take me to so many Orioles games and Fan Fests over the years; I really owe a lot of my love of baseball to him. So, thanks dad! And thanks mom for tagging along and putting up with my/our autographing over the years.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Orioles Fanfest, Thank You Justin & Set Needs- Updated Twice

Orioles Fanfest autograph vouchers went on sale this past Saturday morning at 10am. Since it used to be free, I'm not happy that you now have to pay $15 to get an autograph at each station, but it's nice to know that you are guaranteed to get an autograph of who you want. It was definitely a crapshoot in past seasons. Only 250 vouchers were available for each station, so I thought they would sell out fast. Luckily, I got vouchers for the four stations that I wanted, and surprisingly, there are still vouchers available for 13 of the 15 stations as of this afternoon. So much for them going fast.

My goal was to get an autograph of all the new Orioles who will be in attendance and to finally get my Matt Wieters SI signed. Assuming that everyone who is scheduled to be there actually shows up, I should achieve my goal. Matt Wieters, Kevin Gregg, Jeremy Accardo, Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, and Willie Randolph are among the signers who I should be able to add to my collection. For whatever reason, Derrek Lee isn't scheduled to attend, but at least I already have his autograph.

Since each station has 3-4 players/alumni scheduled to sign, I will be passing by a few players who I don't need for my collection. If anyone out there is interested, I can get you an autograph of any of the following players:
Jake Arrieta- Aaron
Troy Patton- Paul
Boog Powell- Paul
Jason Berken- Austin
Brad Bergesen- Ryan
Dick Hall (x2)- Zach- 1
Craig Tatum- Austin

Updated again with spots filled - Still have 1 Hall spot left

I just request that the item your item be small (card/postcard/3x5), that you include a SASE, and that you get it to me by January 29th.

Justin, of Justin's World  fame, deserves a major THANK YOU for sending me a huge package of 2009 Topps cards, and some cards for Kalina and my player collections. Thanks to him, I'm now only 12 cards away from finishing the set. Very cool stuff! If you've never seen his site, Justin collects Cubs, Colts & Grizzlies cards. Just watch out for that Grumpy Blogger!

Also thanks to Justin, I got up the motivation to update my set needs page. It's always linked at the top of the left-hand sidebar, or you can just click the link there. I pretty much have collected Topps' base & Updates sets as well as Topps Heritage over the past few years.  There are a few sets that I am very close to completing, like 08 Topps (1 card left!), so if anyone can help me out, I woudl really appreciate it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy MLK Day

I'm off work today and I'm guessing that some of you are, too, so I'll keep this short. I think that it's important to remember the work of Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought to make and keep our country equal for all people, regardless of race. Without his continued work and determination, along with players like Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby who broke baseball's color barrier, a guy like Earl Williams might never have had the chance to play in the Major Leagues. I can't imagine splitting up players and segregating the league just because of the color of the players' skin.

Earl was the 1971 National League Rookie of the Year while with the Braves. If the Majors hadn't been integrated, an inferior white player would have won that award, and that doesn't seem right to me. It bothers me that all-time greats like Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell never had the chance to play professionally against the white players of their day. But you obviously can't go back in time to change anything; I'm just glad that today's players are only judged based on their talent level.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Terry Mathews

Can you guess what it is that I don't like about this card?
Clue- I'm trying not to scratch my eyes out. Why, oh why, did I choose to get this card signed?

I have a feeling that this is what cards would look like if the designers were on acid.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Random Saturday Autograph- Julio Manon

Julio has pitched in almost every league in every country that plays baseball around the world, with the possible exception of the Japanese League. He's played all over the US, in Korea, is currently somewhere in the Mexican Leagues and has also pitched in countless other Winter Leagues throughout Latin/Central America.

Manon has pitched in 45 MLB games over his 18 season baseball career; 23 for the 2003 Expos and 22 for the 2006 O's. I didn't get his autograph during the '06 season but got this card signed during his second stint in the Orioles organization in 2008. That year, he spent a majority of the season as the AA Baysox closer and accumulated 32 saves in 56 games. I recall that he was a pretty awful signer and I only got this card signed at a "Meet the Team" day.  In retrospect, I wish I had gotten more than one autograph from him. No cards were ever produced of him in an Orioles uniform, so this signed Baysox card is a permanent member of my collection.

The O's released him after the '08 Baysox season ended and he went on the spend the rest of 2008 and the entire 2009 season pitching for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League. He also was on the Dominican Republic's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic but didn't appear in a game. In 2010, he pitches/ed with the Sultanes de Monterrey in the Mexican League. Who knows what the 2011 season will bring for Julio? I won't even guess.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Francisco de la Rosa

After 14 former Orioles passed away in 2010, I was optimistic that 2011 might be a better year for the O's family. That doesn't seem to be the case as Francisco de la Rosa became the second Orioles alumni to die within the first 12 days of the new year (Ryne Duren passed away on the sixth). I hate to say it, but at this pace, another 58 Orioles could die this year. Not good.

I obtained this autograph in a trade with a reader names Jamie back in August. It's not the prettiest signature, but Francisco is wearing the Suns' orange uniform, so that's a plus. His autograph is tough to come by since his MLB career lasted all of two games. If you clicked his name up above, you might have read that he passed away in Baltimore, which frustrates me since he had lived locally for some time and there's an Orioles Stadium Club card that I would have really liked to get signed. I guess it goes to show that former players can "disappear" sometimes.

Francisco died way too young at only 44 years old. I couldn't find a cause of death, but whatever it was, it was unfortunate that his time was up. RIP Francisco.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Excited About Randy Myers

As some of you may know, Randy is considered one of the tougher autographs to obtain, at least among living players. From what I understand, he has not appeared at any card shows or participated in any private signings for the last twenty years. I've heard that he hates the physical act of signing, so he chooses not to do it. I'm sure that he's not the only player who has ever felt this way or decided not to sign, but he seems to be the only former Oriole player I've come across that feels that way. This means that most of the Orioles signed cards that are out there were autographed during his playing career which ended in 1998. All of these factors add up to make any autograph of his, especially on an Orioles card, a very tough signature to come across.

Recently, I was lucky to find this card for sale in an Orioles signed lot on ebay. I had autographs of all the other players who were included and didn't really want the doubles and triples, so I sent the seller a message asking if I could purchase only this card from the lot. He agreed and I added Randy to my collection for a very reasonable price, especially compared to the prices of Randy's others autographs that I've seen for sale and since this is the only Orioles autograph of his that I had ever come across for sale.

Randy's career spanned 14 seasons from 1985-98 and he pitched for the Mets, Reds, Padres, Cubs, Orioles and Blue Jays. He signed with the Orioles as a free agent following the '95 season and was the anchor of the bullpen for the O's last two playoff seasons, even leading the American League with 45 saves in 1997. He also led the N.L. in saves twice during his three seasons with the Cubs from 1993-95 and made four All-Star teams during his career.

Myers is best remembered as being one of the "Nasty Boys" in the 1990 Reds World Series champs' bullpen, along with Rob Dibble and another former Oriole Norm Charlton. Interestingly, none of the three are very accommodating with TTM requests. Nasty indeed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adventures with Sharpies- Mark Eichhorn

There was a time, somewhere around 1994, that glossy cards were a new phenomenon. As an autograph collecting kid, I was used to non-shiny cards which you could have players sign with any sort of writing implement and the autograph would look just fine. I've always preferred getting cards signed with a black sharpie, although I know that many other collectors prefer blue, and I had never run into any problems, as long as the sharpie hadn't gone "dry".

Obviously, that wasn't the case for this '94 Pinnacle card of Mark Eichhorn. As some of you know, Pinnacle was slightly more high-end that your standard releases, and the cards had a bit of a gloss to them. I didn't think anything of it and took my card of Mark to an O's game and he was kind enough to sign it for me. When he handed it back, I was shocked. What had happened to my card? Why was the autograph so splotchy? You'd think that I would have figured out to rub down or otherwise prepare my cards for autographs in the future. But I didn't really. What can I say, like I said, I was still a kid and I guess that was beyond my thought processing capabilities back then. So, I think I will make "Adventures with Sharpies" an occasional feature. I've got some real winners, both cards that I had signed (poorly) and cards that I have otherwise added to my collection.

Mark pitched in the Majors for 11 seasons; the strike-shortened '94 season being his only one in Baltimore. He was a member of the back-to-back Blue Jays World Series Championship teams in 1992 & '93, and developed his sidearm pitching motion, which I'm a huge fan of, after an early career arm injury forced him to change his delivery. He is a great TTM signer so I might send him a request to see if I can get an upgrade to this card. I'll make sure to prep the card this time around.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Welcoming D. Lee & Kevin Gregg

Somehow, I failed to acknowledge the two players who the Orioles signed last week. I had a few things that I wanted to write about and kept pushing it back, and just remembered that I hadn't mentioned the Derrek Lee or Kevin Gregg signings yet. I'm glad that you don't look to me for breaking news...

I really like both transactions and they definitely make the Orioles a much better and more formidable team. Lee and Gregg both are additional veteran presences on the still very young team too. They will very possibly be the Orioles' last major signings this offseason, although a few bullpen/fifth starter types will likely be signed to compete for roster spots in Spring Training.

I only have a few cards of Lee and Gregg, so will need to find some more to possibly get signed throughout the season. If anyone out there has some cards of either player, I would be happy to take them off your hands.

Interestingly, one of the few Derrek Lee cards that I do have in my collection is his 1994 Signature Rookies autograph. I remember when the Signature Rookies cards came out and I freaked out because the packs included real, live AUTOGRAPHS! It was right up my alley, but I have way too many autographs of players who never cracked a Major League roster. I did manage to find a few gems like Derrek along the way and his becoming an Oriole is why I don't like to trade away autographs of players who are still active on the off chance that they might one day play for the O's.

Unless I have two of them. I'm not really sure how it happened but I have two copies of this card (out of only 7,750!). So this one is up for trade if anyone is interested. I tried to sell the double for $11 at a garage sale back in the mid-90s but didn't find any takers.

I looked up some pictures of how Derrek's autograph has changed over the years and it looks like the major differences are that his D is much more rounded and his last name consists of pretty much just an L now. Not too bad for the number of autographs that he has likely signed since 1994.

I don't have an autograph of Kevin Gregg yet, but I hope that change that at Fanfest or Spring Training. Believe me, I'll keep you all posted.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Anniversary of an Awful Trade

Exactly twenty years ago today, the Orioles made what is widely thought to be the worst trade in their 57 year history.

They acquired an unknowingly past-his-prime Glenn Davis from Houston for three young players who you might have heard of...
( I really like this card. Cal Sr. is on it. It looks like Glenn hit one of his few homers for the O's. And they are both wearing that wonderful shade of orange.)

Six-time All-Star, three-time World Series Champ, three-time Cy Young runner-up, occasional blowhard, and likely HOF inductee, Curt Schilling. Yes he started his career as an Oriole over parts of three seasons from 1988-90. His attitude might have been hard to handle at times, but you can't argue with his stats. The guy led his league in almost every pitching category at some point over his career.

Yep, Steve Finley began his 19 season MLB career in Birdland too. He spent 1989-90 in Baltimore before being sent packing. He would only win five Gold Gloves, make two All-Star teams, and win one World Series Championship on his way to playing the fourth most games in centerfield in the baseball history. Like that wouldn't have been nice to have in Baltimore.

Last and, I guess also, least, the O's included Pete Harnisch in the trade, who went on to have a 14 season career, but never found the ridiculous amount of success that Schilling and Finley did. He made the 1991 All-Star team but struggled to remain on the field during the late '90s. 

It's not as if all three of these guys would have played their entire careers in Baltimore (oh if they had...) but the Orioles essentially got parts of three disappointing seasons from Davis for a trio of young players who all went on to find varied degrees of success in the Majors. Without the trade, the Orioles undoubtedly would have been a better team in the early to mid '90s. And Davis played his last game in Baltimore on May 23, 1993 after getting his jaw broken in a bar fight.

I'm glad that the current O's front office hasn't made any boneheadded trades like this one and held onto the young talent. Now if guys like Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, and Adam Jones can find the kind of success that Schilling, Finley, and Harnisch had, the O's might actually get out of the cellar this year.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Geronimo Gil

This a new feature I'm starting in 2011 in an effort to show off an Orioles autograph every day of the week. It's a play on words, with a slight twist, from the movie "Office Space"; if you haven't seen it, watch it now. Seriously, don't even finish this post, it'll be here when you get back...

I decided on this name for my Sunday evening post because this is the time of the week that many of us are preparing for another week at work, probably with at least one co-worker you could live without. This feature will showcase cards, players or autographs that I don't particularly like. Normally, I'll try to stick to the mantra "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all", save a few choice barbs about what really grinds my gears.

Without further ado, the card that inspired this feature:

Horrible layout- check
Boring picture- check
Possibly the worst autograph that I've ever seen- CHECK

There's not much I like about this card, and I don't have many great memories of Geronimo either. It was fun to say his name, but that's about it.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Random Saturday Autograph- Howie Clark

Waaaaay back in May 2009, I showed off a Howie Clark Royal Rookies autograph that was in my collection at that time. It was a pretty ugly card (ask Troll what he thinks about Royal Rookies), and not an Orioles card, so I was happy to upgrade to this autographed card sometime since then.

Howie was drafted by the O's in the 27th round of the 1992 draft and spent ten seasons in their minor league system before he made his MLB debut in 2002. He appeared in 14 games for the O's that season, before spending the parts of the next two seasons with the Blue Jays. He came back to Baltimore for 7 games in 2006 and made a few appearances for the Blue Jays and Twins in 2007 & '08, but he was more of a minor league veteran. For his career he played 1561 minor league games and only 134 in the Bigs. He was named in the Mitchell Report as a PED user, and it seems like that might have been the only way he was able to crack an MLB roster at all.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Ryne Duren

After losing 14 former Orioles players during the 2010 calendar year, I was hoping that 2011 would be a less eventful year for the aging O's. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem like it will be the case as Ryne Duren has passed away, only six days into 2011.

Ryne was known for his blazing fastball (which he couldn't always control), his thick coke-bottle glasses, and his hard-partying ways off the field. That combination led to many uncomfortable batters who came to the plate against him over his ten seasons in the Majors. His career began with a single appearance for the inaugural 1954 O's, but his career really took off during his three plus seasons with the Yankees from 1958-61 when he made three All-Star teams and was a member of their '58 World Series Championship team.

Following his playing career, Ryne overcame his drinking problems and even became an alcohol abuse educator. I also found out that baseball HOF'er Ryne Sandberg was named for him.

With a $5 donation, he signed and personalized this card for me in September 2009. He was scheduled to sign at the upcoming MAB Pinstripe Passion card show, but that obviously won't happen now. RIP Ryne.

Contest at Justin's World

Justin's World is having a contest and all you have to do is pick the winner of the Super Bowl, the two teams who will play in the game, and the final score. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Catching Up on Scanning with Demper

I started blogging about my Orioles autograph project way back in March 2009, but I still don't have all of my Orioles autographs scanned to my flash drive, so I decided that it was about time to take care of that. There are some renowned former Orioles who I've never displayed here because I hadn't yet scanned their autographs. So far, I've scanned all of my autographs through the letter H and hope to have everything done by the end of the weekend. Will that happen? Only time will tell.

I'd say that it's about time I wrote about the man who has caught more games (1230) than anyone else in Orioles' history. Demper is one of the most beloved players to have ever worn the Oriole uniform. Many of you might remember him as the 1983 World Series MVP; he is one of only six catchers to ever win the award. Others might remember him for his wacky rain delay antics as he would stuff a pillow inside his jersey and do his best Babe Ruth home run & trot impression and then use the rain tarp as a giant slip 'n slide to dive headfirst into home plate. The video has been widely run on "This Week in Baseball" over the years and on many other baseball blooper shows, especially around these parts. I tried to find a video of it to share here, but the internet is hiding it from me. I hope that you all know what I'm talking about.

Rick played in the Majors from 1969-92 with the Twins, Yankees, Orioles, Indians, Dodgers, Brewers, and Orioles again. I can't believe that he played parts of four different decades as a catcher; he actually caught 1633 of the 1662 games he appeared in over his 24 season career, which is the 19th most all-time. His knees must have been made of steel, or they probably are today!

Demper played in Baltimore from 1976-85 and finished his career here in 1992. He had a very strong throwing arm and really knew how to handle a pitching staff (he caught 10 different 20 game winners) but struggled at the plate, hitting only .233 for his career. It goes to show that being excellent defensively can translate into a successful big league career, AKA "The Cesar Izturis Guide to Playing Beisbol".

I got Rick to sign this card in person before an Orioles game a few years back, and he even inscribed the "MVP 83 WS" on his own. He has worked on MASN's O's Xtra pre/post-game show for the past few years so his autograph is very easy to get around Camden Yards. The set is located in centerfield and you can catch Demper walking to or from it during almost every home game.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tradin' with Troll

It's a rare thing for me to post trades, let alone two days in a row, but that's what I'm doing today. I shared my end of a trade with GCRL yesterday and today I'm showing off what the always giving Collective Troll sent my way.

The best part of the box that Troll sent was that he included cards/items for both me and Kalina. She did a guest blogging post to thank him a couple weeks back and now it's my turn. I have to start out with the more surprising and unusual items he included.

Like these two 14 year old starting lineup Orioles figures. My dad and I collected most of the Cal SL figures, but we never expanded to the other Orioles. These two have piqued my interest into possibly collecting all of the Orioles who were featured. But in addition to my bobbleheads, shelf space is a bit tight around the house already so I might need approval from Kalina before I start on this one...

He also threw in a few Cal card "packs" from the heyday of card production when you could buy cards in cans, tins, barrels, coffee mugs, and water bottles. Of course I kid, but only slightly.

Troll also threw in some awesome vintage O's and many of my 2009 Topps & Heritage set needs.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, Kalina already thanked the Troll for her cards, but we didn't have anything scanned at that point.

He included this awesome Nyjer Morgan autograph,

some really nice Carlos Pena cards, including this bat relic, and a HUGE stack of Scott Kazmir cards, including probably 10-15 jersey patches. 

THANK YOU so much Troll. This was an amazing trade package and we have a box with your name on it set to go out, hopefully by this weekend. Oh, and congrats on being a new grandpa! Atlas is a lucky boy!