Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rich Amaral, Is That You?

Since I always prefer to have an Orioles card signed whenever possible, I was faced with an interesting problem with this card.

You see how it says Rich Amaral on the right hand side? And, if I understand how this MLB Showdown set/game(?) works, those are presumably his stats in the bottom right corner. But that sure isn't a picture of Rich Amaral.  

This is what Rich looks like, MLB Showdown. 

 So who is the guy pictured on the card up top? It's none other than...

Yep, Ryan Minor. 

Other than the fact that both guys played for the Orioles in 1999-2000, I don't think they look much alike. Not to mention that Amaral is listed at 6' 175 pounds, while Minor is 6'7", 225. So the body type is a little different too.

As you could probably tell, that IS Rich Amaral's signature on the card at the top of the post. He was nice enough to sign it for me even though the card doesn't picture him. I mentioned something to that effect in my TTM request, so he didn't think that I thought it was him, if he cares about that sort of thing.

I've seen pictures of an Amaral Orioles postcard that actually pictures Rich, but I haven't been able to get my hands on one. If I do, I will send it his way to replace the Frankenstein card up top.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Bunch of Orioles Postcards

There are quite a few signed Orioles postcards residing in my autograph collection. While I certainly prefer autographed cards over postcards, sometimes a postcard is my best or only option. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you've probably seen a number of different Orioles postcards that were displayed over the years, but these should all be new to you.

Autographed postcards are in my collection for a number of different reasons...

For some players, it will be the only issue ever released that pictures them in an Orioles uniform.

As was the case with short-term catcher Greg Myers

And will likely be the case with Rapada & VandenHurk, though they still have a chance to get an O's card

Some other postcards are (hopefully) temporary placeholders until I can upgrade to signed Orioles cards...


That's Lenny Webster up top, Jason Grimsley, and Erv Palica on the bottom
Palica passed away in 1982, so his signing days are over, but he did have a few O's cards produced during his life, and I'm still hoping that one of them might turn up some day.

Webster & Grimsley are still around, although Jason seems to have crawled under a rock somewhere since he was revealed to be the informant for the Mitchell Report. I actually just added this Grimsley postcard to my collection this week, so it might take quite some time to find an actual signed Orioles card. 

Every now and then, a player will include their own "postcard" when they return my TTM request. 

Tom Dukes was nice enough to do just that when he returned my request last year. It's really just a picture, as opposed to a postcard, but it's in the same ballpark.

A few other postcards have stayed in my collection because they are of my (or Kalina's) favorite players.


As is the case with Wieters & Arrieta. 

And then there are the extra postcards that I sometimes add at team-sponsored signings. These three are up for trade if anyone is interested...



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TTM Succes- Ricky Jones

It's been awhile since I've posted one of my TTM successes, mainly because I haven't had time to send any out recently, but I still have a few past returns in my scanned folder.

Not much to say about Ricky. He was a long time O's Minor Leaguer who cracked the Major League roster for the final month of the '86 season. He appeared in sixteen games and played second and third base. He had 6 hits, including two doubles, over 33 at-bats for a .182 average, scored two runs and drove in four.

Oh, and he's nice enough to sign TTM requests. Thanks for that Ricky.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Luis Lopez- One of Them

No, not that Luis Lopez. Nor that Luis Lopez. THIS is the Luis Lopez that played for the Orioles.

Luis Manuel (Santos) Lopez played for the Orioles in 2002 & 2004 and filled the super utility role for the team. He appeared at five different positions over 108 games in those two seasons . 

Luis never had an Orioles card produced, so this Leaf autograph will stay in my collection. The last I heard, Luis was coaching somewhere in the Red Sox farm system.

Interestingly, I've run into the "same name, different player" issue with another former Oriole, Luis Garcia, who also shares the same name as two other semi-obscure former MLB-ers. But I'm still looking to add Garcia's autograph to the collection.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eric Dubose

One night during Spring Training 2005 in Florida, Eric got pulled over for erratic driving.

Suspecting he was drunk, the officer asked him to say his A-B-C's, to which Eric responded...
"I'm from Alabama, and they have a different alphabet". 

Too bad, he didn't say "I'm from Alabama and they don't teach the alphabet", then the officer might have believed him and he might have got off with only a warning. Instead, he was charged with a DUI. Facepalm.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bobbleheads of the Week- Andrew McCutchen & Tom Browning

Continuing to highlight the Orioles 2011 interleague opponents, here are the only Pirates and Reds bobbles in my collection.

I'm pretty sure I have mentioned this before, but I was a Pirates fan when I was younger, mainly since Sid Bream was born in my hometown. I'm too young to have been around for the O's-Bucs rivalry in the '70's so that never factored in to my fandom decision and I continue to like both teams today (but obviously the Orioles are far and away my favorite team).
Andrew McCutchen has been my favorite Pirate since he came up, so my parents and I had planned to go to the Pirates' August 6, 2010 game to pick up his bobblehead. Unfortunately, a lack of vacation days prevented me from joining them, but they were cool enough to still go and even gave me their bobbleheads! This is a pretty cool bobblehead; I kind of like that McCutchen is just leaning on his bat, but might have liked the fist pump celebratory stance that's pictured on the box even more.

This Tom Browning bobblehead came my way at the same time as the all-time classic Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey bobble. I don't know much about it but it appears to have been given away by the Reds in 2008 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tom's perfect game. My bobble is missing the Chiquita sponsor logo that had been in front of Tom, but I don't miss it. Logos typically look out of place on bobbleheads anyway. 

Now hopefully the O's fare better against the Reds than they did against the Pirates!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Greg Biagini

Last week, I posted asking everyone to help me decide whether or not to include managers and coaches in my Orioles autograph collection. Your responses echoed my own thoughts, so I am now officially collecting autographs of the Orioles managers and coaches.

To commemorate the official start of my new collection, I'm featuring former Orioles hitting coach, Greg Biagini (be-ah-genie) for a few reasons. One, this signed O's postcard has been in Kalina's autograph collection for many years, and she was kind enough to give it to me to kickstart my new collection.  Two, we happened to see Greg's son, Tanner, play for the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Rays' short season A affiliate, against the Aberdeen Ironbirds this past Sunday.

Greg was the Orioles hitting coach from 1992-94 while Johnny Oates was managing the Birds. Before and after his stint with the O's, he was a successful minor league manager and led two different AAA teams to a league championship.

He sadly passed away due to kidney cancer in 2003 at the way too young age of 51. RIP Greg and Good Luck with your baseball career Tanner.

Regarding my new coaches and managers collection, you can see who I need on the new tab on the left of my main page, conveniently titled, Orioles Managers & Coaches Need List. If you don't want to do that, here's the list of players I need. Please let me know if you have any of these guys, as I would like to add them to my collection!

Jimmy Adair
Gary Allenson
Luke Appling
Hank Bauer
Carlos Bernhardt
Dick Bosman
Harry Breechen
Dave Cash
Mark Connor
Chuck Cottier
Rick Down
Jimmie Dykes
Lee Elia
Sammy Ellis
Carl Ermer
Mike Ferraro
Marv Foley
Jim Frey
Brian Graham
Mike Hargrove
Luman Harris
John Hart
Vern Hoscheit
Al Jackson
Bruce Kison
Sherm Lollar
Davey Lopes
Lee Mazzilli
Leo Mazzone
Tom McCraw
Sam Meijias
Minnie Mendoza
Ray Miller
Jerry Narron
Jeff Newman
Tom Oliver
Sam Perlozzo
Phil Regan
Paul Richards
Cal Ripken Sr.
Ralph Rowe
Ray Scarborough
Frank Skaff
George Staller
Tom Trebelhorn
Al Vincent
Mark Wiley
Jimmy Williams

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Major Addition

Willie Kirkland was one of three living former Orioles who I didn't have an autograph of; that is until an autograph website recently conducted a private signing with him and fixed my problem.

Willie's autographs occasionally turn up online but I was holding out for this signed Crown card since it's really his only Orioles card. His '64 Topps card is listed as an Orioles card, but blatantly shows him in an Indians cap, so I guess they didn't want to put in the "effort" to superimpose an O's logo as they did on other cards from this era. In the end, things worked out for me, and I don't have to worry about adding Willie's autograph anymore. 
Kirkland played in the Majors from 1958-66 with the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Orioles, and Washington Senators, spending a majority of his time with the Giants and Indians. Willie's time in Baltimore lasted all of 66 games during the first half of the 1964 season, which explains why he has so few Orioles cards. He was mainly a big power, low average type of hitter and hit 148 homers with a .240 batting average over his nine season career.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oriole # 899- Blake Davis

Blake Davis made his Orioles (& MLB) debut today, playing second base and batting eighth. To say that it didn't go well is an understatement; he went 0-4 at the plate and his fifth inning error on a routine ground ball allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score in what proved to be an insurmountable deficit in the 5-4 Pirates win. In all fairness, second base is an unfamiliar position for Blake; he's only played there in 19 of his 493 career games in the Minors. His primary position is shortstop, although, to increase his versatility, he has almost exclusively played the outfield for the AAA Norfolk Tides this season.

The Orioles drafted Blake in the 4th round of the 2006 draft out of Cal State Fullerton. He has steadily climbed through the O's farm system and has spent the majority of the past three seasons with the Tides. Since I don't make it to Norfolk often, the most I've seen him play was in 2008 during his time with the AA Bowie Baysox, but also caught his appearance with the short season Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2009 on a rehab assignment.

I have a few different autographs of his in my collection and haven't decided which to place in my collection. He doesn't have an Orioles card, and his only mass-produced card was in the 2005-06 USA Baseball National Team set, so that doesn't factor into my decision.

Blake was invited to Spring Training with the O's in 2009 & '10, but didn't receive an invitation this year, which seems to show that his organizational stock has slipped. Blake was fairly highly regarded in 2009 but suffered a stress fracture in his foot halfway through the Spring and never has been able to regain his prospect status since the injury. Personally, I was shocked that Blake was called up ahead of Nick Green and Brendan Harris, two veterans on the Tides' roster who both have MLB experience.

The good news for Blake is that, assuming he stays with the team, things can only get better after today. Good luck Blake, tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adios Accardo, Bring On Blake

The yearly Orioles roster turnover continues to be a summer tradition in Baltimore.

This time around, Jeremy Accardo, whose autograph I just featured earlier this week, has been designated for assignment, with IF/OF Blake Davis being called up to potentially make his Major League debut.

Davis was called up prior to Saturday's game in Washington and has yet to crack the lineup. Once he does, he will be Oriole #899.

Luckily, Blake's autograph is already in my collection, so I'm prepared for him to officially be included on the all-time Orioles list. When or if Blake makes his MLB debut, I'll write an in-depth post about him.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vic Roznovsky

Congratulations to Vic for having the most difficult name to pronounce in Orioles history. Try saying it ten times fast, or just once correctly!

He is also in the running for first place in the largest catcher's mitt category.

At least he was a member of the Orioles 1966 World Series championship roster, even though he didn't appear in any postseason games. And he signs TTM requests, so good for him!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Upgrading to Downgrades

I recently added two long-term needs to my collection and they are very similar because of the cards they replaced.

Both LaTroy Hawkins and Juan Guzman have been on my need list for quite some time. They are some of the multitude of modern era players whose autographs are easy to find, just not on Orioles cards. Especially with Guzman, there are many, many signed Blue Jays cards to be found anywhere autographs are sold, but I finally found the first signed Orioles card of his I had ever seen, so I snatched it up in a hurry.

By now, you're probably wondering what the title of this post has to do with any of this. Well here goes...the Hawkins and Guzman signatures that had been in my collection for years were both 1996 Leaf Signature Series certified autographs. (I miss the days when almost every player was included in some sort of autograph set, it sure made it easier for me and my collection.)

And here's the part where the title will make sense. While I'm very happy to have both of these players' autographs on Orioles cards, check out the signatures on these two bad boys.

The signature on the Guzman O's card is pretty consistent with the Leaf autograph; the main issue there is that the O's card wasn't prepped and/or a crappy sharpie was used. 

But what in the world happened to Hawkins' graph? It wasn't extremely legible back in the mid '90s but at least it was stylized and you could see an outline of his name in there. The 2011 version of his signature pretty much looks like four swirls and is likely one of the worst examples of penmanship in my entire collection. 

The only way I consider an autograph to be 100% authentic is if I see it signed myself, but I have no reason to believe that either of these aren't legit. It's just a shame to upgrade both of these guys to signed O's cards, while the signatures themselves are both clearly worse than on the Leaf cards.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bobblehead of the Week- Frank Howard

I know that this is typically an Orioles Bobblehead of the Week feature, but partially because I'm behind on my picture taking/cataloging and also since the O's are playing in DC this weekend, it seemed appropriate to show off one of my Nationals bobbleheads this week. So here's a nod towards the O's "rivals", located 38 miles to the southwest down 295.

This Frank Howard bobblehead was given away by the Nationals on Saturday, August 22, 2009 to the first 15,000 fans who came out for the Brewers-Nats game and as you can see, it was part 2 of a 2 bobble set. As far as I can remember, I happened to go to this game and got this bobblehead then, but it took me about a year to finally add the first half of the set to my collection. And I don't have that part scanned, so that's all I'm gonna say about it for now. Stay tuned to a future edition of B.o.t.W. to see part 1. Or just google it if you can't stand to wait.

This bobblehead is pretty well done, and while the face sure looks like Frank, but I think they slimmed down the body to save on shipping costs. "The Capital Punisher" was a big boy at 6'7", 255 lbs, and that doesn't really translate to the bobblehead, which in fact looks quite skinny overall.

Let's Go O's! Try to push the all-time season record against the Nats into the black!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Ray Luebke

One of the more obscure former Orioles is a guy named Richard "Dick" Ray Luebke. He pitched in the Minor Leagues from 1954-63 but only cracked the Majors for ten appearances towards the end of the season with the 1962 Orioles. He final MLB stat line is an 0-1 record with a 2.70 ERA and 7 K's over 13.1 innings. One might think that with numbers like those, he could've stuck for longer in the Bigs but that wasn't in the cards for Ray.

Speaking of cards, you might wonder why I have a signed index card in my collection as opposed to a gum card as I prefer. Well, it's because Ray wasn't in the Majors long enough to appear in a card set during his life time. After he passed away in 1974 at the unfortunately young age of 39, he was included in the 1983 One Year Wonder (OYW) set

and the 1991 Orioles Crown set, so he obviously never had the opportunity to sign either of those cards. I couldn't find a cause of death anywhere, but since he died so young, I tend to think it was somehow unexpected. RIP Ray.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

To Collect Or Not Collect?

For a while, I've been trying to decide whether or not I want to officially include Orioles' Managers and Coaches in my collection. I know some other O's collectors do while others don't, so that hasn't made my decision any easier.

To this point, if I have any managers' or coaches' autographs, they are in my binders with all of my other O's autographs. If I don't have them, I haven't worried about it. There is some overlap between guys who have played for the O's and later managed or coached for them, so I have a decent percentage already. I also keep cards of all of the current coaches with me when I get autographs, so that has helped with the numbers in recent years. Many coaches never have Orioles cards produced of them, but most have been included in the yearly team-produced postcard sets.

Here's the breakdown of the current Orioles managers' and coaches' autographs in my collection.
9/19 (1 former Orioles player)- 47.3%

Billy Hitchcock managed the team in 1962-63

38/83 (22 former Orioles players, 11 eventually became Orioles managers)- 45.8%

Former player and Padres' Manager, Steve Boros, was the O's 3rd Base Coach in 1995

So what do you think I should do; collect, or not?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Welcoming Gregg to the Collection

Kevin Gregg was the final 2011 Orioles player who has an O's card that I didn't have signed.

He signed these for me at FanFest...

I ran into him at the Orioles Minor League complex on my Spring Training trip and he signed this card for me.

Later the same day that Kevin signed that Cubs card for me, I bought the 2011 Topps Orioles team set at the Orioles Team store at Ed Smith Stadium, and there was Kevin in an Orioles uniform, albeit in a photo-shopped picture. And since then, I haven't been able to get his autograph again.

Luckily Kirk over at Eutaw Street Cardboard got this card signed twice and was cool enough to trade me his double. Thanks Kirk, glad we could help each other out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Auto(matic) Auto(graph) Sunday

Like I said yesterday, I typically find that Sunday's are the best day to get Orioles' autographs, at least in my experience. So Kalina coined the term, Auto Auto Sunday, and I liked it, and I'm using it for the title of this post.

Here are the autographs I got at the game on Sunday; some of these correspond with the pictures from yesterday.

I'll start with the autographs you are probably expecting to see...

Now I have both the action and posed versions of Zach's 2011 Orioles postcards signed. 

Jaku has one of the less exciting cards from the OPC set. The picture looks like it was taken in deep space. But at least we know he's a ROOKIE.

This is the second time I've gotten this card signed, but since it's Gonzo's only Orioles card that uses a picture of him that wasn't photoshopped, maybe somebody else needs a copy.

 This is my umpteenth Ryan Adams autograph, but first since he's actually been an Oriole.

OK, that's it for what you might have expected to see. Here's the rest...

For you fellow 'graphers out there, whenever you set out to get signatures at a game or event, do you have a top priority in mind? I almost always do and my top two for Sunday were Clay Rapada and Jeremy Accardo, since I had never got their autographs in person.



 Problem Solved.

I got Rapada almost immediately as I walked in (he had been throwing with Jaku) and added Accardo not long afterwards. Rapada's autograph looks almost nothing like the pre-printed version on his card, though in all fairness, I didn't expect him to sign "Clayton Anthony Rapada". 

And while it's hard to read his name in the signature, I'm a fan of Accardo's stylized autograph, especially the first (two?) J's.

This was the first time I've seen Buck sign since Spring Training and I was thrilled to finally get this epic card signed. If you don't know, Buck seems very professional and business-like, so I can only imagine the conversation that took place to get him to pose like this near that giant cactus.

Wayne Kirby always seems like a personable guy, and he is normally joking around with the fans.

Finally, I more or less ran into Boog Powell out on Eutaw Street near his BBQ stand, and he kindly signed my Crown card. He's around for most Orioles home games, but I've got his autograph enough times over the years that I generally don't make the trek out to centerfield to see if he's around.

So I got 10 autographs in under 2 hours inside the stadium. Pretty solid day considering my average is generally more like 1 or 2.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday Pictures

As you may know if you've been following my blog over the years, I feel like Sunday's are the best day for Orioles autographs. If you get in early enough, you have the best access to players with the least amount of competition for autographs. And the relievers, who are generally the toughest guys to come across, typically warm up down the line, so you at least have a chance to get their autographs. Most evening games, the relievers shag fly balls during BP, disappear into the clubhouse and then go directly to the bullpen through a "secret" passage.

Tomorrow, I'll post the autographs I got but  for now, here are some pictures that I took yesterday.

Immediately when I got down on the field, there was Chris Jakubauskas, throwing with Clay Rapada. Jaku is one of my favorite guys on the club since he always seems to enjoy interacting with the fans. I called him over to sign, and then about 10 kids got him to sign as well, so he jokingly said to me "See what you started?"

Zach Britton was also warming up and came over to sign after he was done. 

If you were wondering what Zach looks like from the other side, wonder no more.

Mike Gonzalez was the next guy to come over, and I think he literally signed for everyone down the line

Although he continues to struggle on the mound, Gonzo continues to be a good signer 
Ryan Adams was signing at the end of the dugout, so I moved down there to get him
This was the first time I saw Adams signing in Baltimore; which was nice to see because he didn't seem to enjoy it at times in the minors. 

Luke Scott came out to talk with some what-I'm-guessing-are veterans. LUUUKE is a big military supporter, and it looked like he had the camo Scott shirts made himself.

Nick Markakis even made a brief appearance.