Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oriole #939- Joe Saunders

The newest member of the Orioles is starting pitcher Joe Saunders who made his Baltimore debut in last night's game against the White Sox. Let's just say that it was a "rocky" start and hope that his next turn through the rotation has better results.

Joe was the Angels' first round selection in the 2002 first year player draft and he made his major league debut with them in 2005. He represented the Angels in the All-Star game in 2008 and pitched in Anaheim for parts of six seasons. At the trade deadline in 2010 he was sent to the Diamondbacks as part of the package that netted Dan Haren for the Angels. The Dbacks recently designated him for assignment and the Orioles sent reliever Matt Lindstrom to Arizona to bring him to Baltimore. Joe has long been discussed by the Orioles as a possible addition to the roster, at least in part due to that fact that he is from nearby Springfield, Virginia. And it never hurts that he was an Orioles fan growing up either.

Somehow, I happened to already have Joe's autograph in my collection. He signed this card for me when he was with the Angels and in town to play the O's way back in July 2009. I totally forgot that I had it in my collection until I was writing this post and it was quite the pleasant surprise. This is yet another example of why I don't like to trade autographs of current players who play for other teams because I never know who could end up on the Orioles.

Joe is scheduled to become a free agent in the off-season and while it's possible that he re-signs with the O's, if he does not, I would be surprised if he is featured on a card as an Oriole, but anything is possible. Good luck moving forward Joe!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1991 Orioles Debuts, #497-512

Today, I'm continuing the Orioles Yearly Debut Series (200120001999, 19981996199519941993, 1992).

1991 saw 16 players make their Baltimore debuts, including two players, Mike Mussina and Arthur Rhodes, who would go on to play with the Orioles for most of the following decade. 

Glenn Davis #497, 4/8/91 (1991-93)

Dwight Evans #498, 4/8/91 (1991)

Paul Kilgus #499, 4/8/91 (1991)

It took me quite some time to track down a signed copy of Paul's one and only Orioles card, but I finally was able to knock his name completely off of my list. 

Jeff Robinson #500, 4/14/91 (1991)

Ernie Whitt #501, 4/14/91 (1991)

Roy Smith #502, 5/25/91 (1991)

Todd Frohwirth #503, 5/28/91 (1991-93)

Chito Martinez #504, 7/5/91 (1991-93)

Chito was the first, and still the only, MLB player to hail from the country of Belize. He's also the only Oriole to share a name, albeit spelled differently, with a snack food. 

Shane Turner #505, 7/17/91 (1991)

Shane played in 56 major league games for three teams over three seasons, and only four of those were with the Orioles. This Line Drive Red Wings card is the only cardboard testament to Steve's time in the Orioles organization. 

After his playing career ended, he became a minor league manager in the Giants farm system and held that position at various levels between 1996-2007. He is currently the Coordinator of Instruction for San Francisco. 

Jimmy Poole #506, 7/30/91 (1991-94)

Jim pitched 11 seasons in the Majors from 1990-2000 with eight different franchises, most notably the Indians, Orioles, and Giants. Over his parts of four seasons in Baltimore, he had a 6-3 record with a 2.86 ERA over 123 games. 

Stacy Jones #507, 7/30/91 (1991)

Mike Mussina #508, 8/4/91 (1991-2000)

Arthur Rhodes #509, 8/21/91 (1991-99)

This awesome Arthur Rhodes signed black and white postcard was given to me by my wonderful wife from her personal collection. She's so good to me, and understands me and my collection, for the most part at least.

Francisco de la Rosa #510, 9/7/91 (1991)

Luis Mercedes #511, 9/8/91 (1991-93)

It seems like almost all of Luis's cards picture him wearing the orange uniform, and I'm fine with that, as I kind of enjoy orange uniform autographs.

Jeff Tackett #512, 9/11/91 (1991-94)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thank You, Dan

I'll admit that I was skeptical about many of your off-season moves, but I can't argue with the results. Thank you for giving all us Orioles fans the most exciting season in recent years. For me, it's by far the best season for the O's during my time as an adult, and I appreciate it much more than I did when I was young. It's amazing to be checking the playoff standings daily and it's really a foreign territory for me to be doing so in late August.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Statues at Camden Yards

I can't get over how great these new statues look. It really does a lot for the bullpen picnic area. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Unpossible No More?

In a somewhat happy turn of events, I have now profiled all of the "unpossible" Orioles autographs in my collection, meaning that this feature will be suspended until it unfortunately becomes necessary again in the future.

However, since I have profiled a few of the former Orioles players who have passed away, I have been able to upgrade the autographs I have of them in my collection.

John Anderson's autographs are few and far between. His only Orioles card was in the Crown set and he largely "disappeared" near the end of his life around the time that set was issued, so I really don't know if he ever signed one of them. This small black and white autographed photo shows John during his time with the Miami Orioles, a minor league affiliate of the O's back in the day, and might be the closest I ever come to getting an Orioles autograph of him.

A knowledgeable autograph dealer that I have purchased from in the past recently told me that the autograph of Carl Powis that had been in my collection was likely not authentic, so I had to put him back on my need list. Enter this "beauty" of a cut autograph taped onto a 3x5 index card. Like John, Carl's autographs are in very limited supply, so this might be as good as it gets for me.

This signed Senators card of George Brunet joins a signed index card in my collection. George was featured on an Orioles card during his playing days and his autograph turns up marginally more often than those of the other two players shown here, so I'm still holding out hope that I can add his autographed O's card to my collection one day. I got this signed card at a great price but his autograph is generally quite pricey, so it might be a matter of finding one at the right price. 

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible." 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making Good On Oquist

Every now and then, I come across a player whose autograph I never scanned and I've never written about them over the course of my blogging. It's pretty rare at this point, but it still happens occasionally, as it did on Tuesday, when I profiled the players who had debut for the Orioles during the 1993 season, and poor Mike Oquist's autographed card was left out of the fun.

Sorry for the crappy picture but I will get this scanned eventually
So here it is! I know the picture isn't perfect, but once I fire up the scanner for the pile of other cards that need scanned, I will upgrade this image too.

Mike pitched the first three seasons of his MLB career with the Orioles before briefly playing for the Padres,  and then spent his final three seasons with the A's. He became Oriole #535 when he debuted on August 14, 1993 and had a 5-4 record with a 5.04 ERA for the O's over 47 games and mostly appeared in relief.

He was a starter for the majority of the years he spent in Oakland, and unfortunately had one of the worst starts in modern baseball history on August 3, 1998 against the Yankees. In five innings, he gave up 16 hits and 14 (14!!!) earned runs, including four homers. He obviously had a very long leash for the game, whether due to the bullpen's unavailability or something I guess, but it's so rare to see a starting pitcher tagged for so many runs.  He gave up only one run in the first before getting shelled for seven in the second and five more in the third. Shockingly, he didn't give up a run in the fourth, but they scored once more in the fifth to wrap up his line. But oh well, you can't win 'em all!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1992 Orioles Debuts, #513-523

Rolling along with the debut posts because that's my main blogging focus for now, today I'm covering the new O's of 1992. Here are the previous years, if you missed them (200120001999, 1998199619951994, 1993).

1992 had the relatively low number of just 11 players making their Orioles debuts during the season, but I don't know why that was, can anyone out there offer any insight? Alan Mills was the only new O to go on the have much of a career with the Birds, but Rick Sutcliffe, who made the first ever start at the brand new Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Manny Alexander, who had lots of hype, but couldn't back it up, were also notable names around Birdland in '92. 

Rick Sutcliffe #513, 4/6/92 (1992-93)

Mark McLemore #514, 4/8/92 (1992-94)

Alan Mills #515, 4/20/92 (1992-98, 2000-01)

Pat Clements #516, 7/11/92 (1992)

Pat was a relief pitcher for eight seasons between 1985-92 and played for the Angels, Pirates, Yankees, and Padres, in addition to the O's. He spent his last MLB season in the Orioles 'pen and had a very respectable 3.28 ERA over 23 appearances. 

In a strange coincidence, his high school baseball coach was the brother of former Orioles catcher, Clay Dalrymple.

Tommy Shields #517, 7/25/92 (1992)

Mark Parent #518, 7/31/92 (1992-93, 96)

Richie Lewis #519, 7/31/92 (1992, 98)

Jack Voigt #520, 8/3/92 (1992-95)

Jack played parts of four seasons in Baltimore before moving on to play for the Rangers, Brewers, and A's. 

He has stayed active around baseball after his playing career ended, serving as a minor league instructor, coach, and manager; which included a stint with the O's hi-A affiliate Frederick Keys in 2001-02 and as the Orioles base-running and outfield coordinator in 2003, a title that he currently holds in the Mets organization. 

Craig Lefferts #521, 9/6/92 (1992)

Steve Scarsone #522, 9/8/92 (1992)

It's pretty easy to forgot that a guy like Steve played for the Orioles considering that his entire tenure in black and orange was a brief 11 game stint at the tail-end of the '92 season. But it was enough for him to be immortalized on cardboard as an O in the 93 Donruss set; ah the '90s were a great time to find your players on a card as a member of your favorite team. 

Steve also played briefly for the Phillies, Cardinals, and Royals but is likely best remembered for the four seasons he spent with the Giants. Like Voigt, he has also stayed active in baseball after hanging up his spikes and is currently the manager of the A's AA Texas League team, the Midland RockHounds. 

Manny Alexander #523, 9/18/92 (1992-96)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1993 Orioles Debuts, #524-539

Moving right along with my debut years theme, up today are the new 1993 Orioles players. Here are the past debut years I've featured (200120001999, 199819961995, 1994).

1993 was a mixed bag of Birdland debuts; there were a few veteran players who only spent a season or two in Baltimore as well as eight players who would make their MLB debut appearances for the O's. Harold Baines and Jeffrey Hammonds were the only two players who had a major impact for the team during their time in Baltimore. 

Harold Reynolds #524, 4/5/93 (1993)

Harold Baines #525, 4/5/93 (1993-95, 97-99, 2000)

Fernando Valenzuela #526, 4/9/93 (1993)

Sherman Obando #527, 4/10/93 (1993, 95)

Besides having one of the cooler names in Orioles history, Sherman didn't contribute much to the team in 47 games he played for them over parts of two seasons. But it turns out that he actually had quite a successful career playing in Japan and consistently had good numbers over the six seasons he played there. In fact, for a few seasons he was the second best player in the league behind only Ichiro. 

He continued to play baseball at least part time through the 2008 season, having been a member of Panama's 2006 World Baseball Classic team, 2007 Baseball World Cup squad, and their 2008 Olympic team. Most recently, he served as the first base coach for the Charleston RiverDogs for at least the 2009 season. 

Brad Pennington #528, 4/17/93 (1993-95)

Brad was a very wild pitcher who averaged well over a walk an inning during the parts of five seasons that he spent in the Majors. He also averaged more than a strikeout per inning, which is probably what kept him the big leagues as long as it did, and he wrapped up his career with a 7.02 ERA over 79 games. 

I am a big fan of his autograph however, it's got so much flair to it that it's hard not to like. 

Damon Buford #529, 5/4/93 (1993-95)

Mark Leonard #530, 5/6/93 (1993)

Jamie Moyer #531, 5/20/93 (1993-95)

What can I say about Jamie Moyer that you likely don't already know? Not much, I'm sure. But when the Orioles signed Moyer to a minor league deal earlier this season, I got excited to think that a player could re-play for the Orioles after an almost 20 year break. That would have been amazing, but sadly the O's released Jamie after a three start minor league trial. I hope that he can catch on somewhere because it's not often that you get to see a 49 year old play at baseball's top level.

I'm also a bit surprised that I had never featured Moyer before today. 

Paul Carey #532, 5/25/93 (1993)

Jeffrey Hammonds #533, 6/25/93 (1993-98)

John O'Donoghue (2) #534, 6/27/93 (1993)

This John O'Donoghue (2) is the son of John O'Donoghue(1) who also pitched for the Orioles, and I've conveniently labeled them 1 & 2 for your reading ease.

2 pitched in 11 games for the '93 Orioles. He kindly signed this card for me during his time with the team and as you can see, I was still learning about how Sharpies interacted with glossy cards. Thanks a million Pinnacle!

Mike Oquist #535, 8/14/93 (1993-95)

I know that I have an autograph of Oquist and I have no idea how it's not scanned. I will get on this ASAP.

Mike Pagliarulo #536, 8/16/93 (1993)

Kevin McGehee #537, 8/23/93 (1993)

Lonnie Smith #538, 9/12/93 (1993-94)

Mike Cook #539, 9/29/93 (1993)

Saturday, August 18, 2012


My dad has been creating Orioles cards for me of all the new Orioles players as they have made their Baltimore debuts since Miguel Gonzalez, who debuted way back at the end of May. So about a third of my team set now consists of his self-produced cards, and I have just missed getting a few of them signed by the new Orioles. I was either getting autographs in the wrong location or the players were signing down the line and just never made it to me. Until now...

Lew Ford kindly signed one of my dad's cards for me on Thursday, so I got that proverbial monkey off of my back. For some reason, I forgot to ask Lew to personalize it to me, but luckily my dad typically sends me a short stack of his cards every time he makes some, so I have a few more of this version to get signed. If nothing else, I'm probably the only person who has a signed Lew Ford  Orioles card right now.

Thank you for all your awesome cards, Dad! And thank you Lew for being the first to sign one of his creations!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Eddie Waitkus, "The Natural" , Oriole #2

This week's edition of an unpossible autograph features one of the players with possibly the most interesting story of nearly any of the 938 men who have appeared in a game for the Orioles. Many of you might not recognize the name Eddie Waitkus, but you likely have heard his story, or at least the fictionalized account of it. I bet that the name Roy Hobbs would ring a bell for many more of you, and you see, Eddie was the inspiration of the title character in the book, and later the movie, "The Natural".

Writer Bernard Malamud wrote "The Natural" way back in 1952, when Eddie's story was better known. You see, while the book was not a biography of Eddie, the part about the ballplayer who was shot by an obsessed female fan is based off of his story. Ruth Ann Steinhagen, who had some mental issues to say the least, became infatuated with Eddie and his All-Star caliber of play when he was a member of the Cubs between 1946-48. Apparently the fact that she was able to watch him play throughout the season kept her at bay, but when he was traded to the Phillies prior to the 1949 season, and she was no longer to see him regularly, made something snap inside of her.

On June 14, 1949 she stayed at the Phillies' team hotel and posed as one of Eddie's former classmates, and asked him to meet her in her hotel room. He obliged, walking into Steinhagen's trap, and she shot him in the chest, nearly killing him. Eddie's life was saved by the doctors who worked on him, and Ruth Ann was committed to a mental institution. At this point, the book and movie diverge from Eddie's tale, but it is a major part of Malamud's story. Outside of saying that the book and movie end differently, I won't give away any more information but I strongly suggest that you read the book and/or watch the movie if you have never have before.

Eddie made a quick recovery from the assault and actually was back to playing baseball at the beginning of the 1950 season. While he did suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder for the remainder of his life, his baseball skills didn't seem to suffer too badly. He continued to play through the 1955 season, and was a member of the inaugural 1954 Orioles. In fact he was the second player to ever bat for the team when he came to the plate on April 13, 1954 in Detroit against the Tigers. Eddie played in 133 games for the O's over the 1954-55 seasons, and let me tell you that it's a tough task to find a signed copy of this 1955 Bowman, the one and only Orioles card issued during his lifetime, at least at a semi-reasonable price.

Eddie passed away from complications of esophageal cancer at just 53 years of age in 1972. His untimely passing at a relatively young age, combined with his fame due to the connection to "The Natural" make his autograph a highly sought after commodity. RIP Eddie.

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible." 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oriole # 938- J.C. Romero

J.C. Romero, the Oriole new lefty bullpen specialist, made his orange and black debut in last night's 7-1 win against the Red Sox. He worked a scoreless eighth inning, giving up one hit, and became the 938th player to appear in a game for the O's. I don't currently have an autograph of J.C., but he was included in the 2012 Norfolk Tides team set, so I hope to have him sign that card for my collection in the near future.

J.C. has pitched in the Major Leagues since 1999 with seven different franchises, most notably the Twins and Phillies, and over those 14 seasons, he has appeared in 676 games, almost exclusively as a reliever. He was a major key to the Phillies' 2008 World Series Championship victory, even earning the win in the decisive game five to secure the series win. However, that following off-season, he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, which he claimed was due to a tainted supplement.

Over the past two seasons, J.C. has bounced around between the majors & minors for seven different clubs, and the story of how he came to the Orioles is rather interesting.

Prior to the 2012 season, the Cardinals signed him to a one year contract but released him in mid-May. The Orioles quickly signed him to a minor league contract and assigned him to the AAA Norfolk Tides, and Romero had an opt-out date of July 10th if he hadn't been called up to Baltimore by that time. Well, that day came and Baltimore's bullpen was doing just fine, so the Orioles let him get away. The Indians proceeded to sign him to a deal and assigned him to their AAA club, but it was to some sort of conditional deal that allowed the Orioles to get him back if they needed him for the big league club. And that time came on Monday, when Troy Patton, the only lefty reliever the O's had used all season, injured his ankle and had to head to the D.L. So the Orioles got Romero back from the Indians, albeit in return for one of Kalina's favorite minor leaguers, Carlos Rojas.

Car-los Ro-jas! clap clap clapclapclap  Car-los Ro-jas! clap clap clapclapclap
So, it's nice to have Romero as a, possibly short-term, part of the bullpen, but it's unfortunate that it cost the Orioles a player, even if clubs consider Carlos to be an organizational type of player.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1994 Orioles Debuts, #540-549

Today, I'm going to continue with my method of posting my remaining O's autographs by the year of player's debuts with the club. If you want to see any of the previous posts, here they are (200120001999, 19981996, 1995)

As many of you know, 1994 was a horrible year for the sport of baseball, as the players went on strike and the postseason was skipped. It was certainly the worst year that I have ever experienced in regards to my favorite sport and I hope to never have to go through something like that ever again. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me, and 'poof' one day there was just no more baseball. It was horrible and awful and unfortunate. While Cal's Streak and McGwire and Sosa's HR battles reinvigorated a number of fans following the strike, I think that a number of former fans just never came back to follow the game.

Anyway, here are the players that debuted for the Orioles during that abbreviated season. You'll notice there aren't many, at least in part due to the strike taking away the end of the season. Most of these guys were veterans by the time they arrived in Baltimore, with Armando Benitez being the only real rookie debut of note.

Rafael Palmeiro #540, 4/4/94 (1994-98, 2004-05)

Chris Sabo #541, 4/4/94 (1994)

Lee Smith #542, 4/4/94 (1994)

Mark Eichorn #543, 4/6/94 (1994)

Sid Fernandez #544, 4/17/94 (1994-95)

"El Sid" pitched for fifteen seasons in the major leagues and is certainly best remembered for the ten seasons he spent with the Mets early in his career. He was a two-time all-star for them and was also a big part of their 1986 World Series championship team.

The Orioles were his first post-Mets team and he pitched reasonably well in 1994 but struggled in 1995 and was released at the All-Star break. Overall, Sid had a 6-10 record and a 5.59 ERA with the Orioles over 27 appearances.

Tom Bolton #545, 5/8/94 (1994)

Mark Smith #546, 5/14/94 (1994-96)

Mark was the Orioles 1st round selection (#9 overall) in the 1991 draft, so expectations were fairly high for him. I recall that he was featured on quite a few cards as an Oriole, so I was surprised when I looked up his stats and discovered that he appeared in just 67 games over his three seasons in Baltimore. I was even more surprised to discover that he had played off and on in the Majors through 2003, when he appeared in 33 games with the Brewers. Overall, Mark played in 414 games over parts of eight seasons with five different franchises.

In non-baseball news, the Baseball Assistance Team gave Mark an award for heroism for rescuing a man from a burning car crash in 2000. That takes some serious guts, congratulations Mark! Great work!

Scott Klingenbeck #547, 6/2/94 (1994-95)

Dwight Smith #548, 6/15/94 (1994)

Armando Benitez #549, 7/28/94 (1994-98)

Monday, August 13, 2012

1995 Orioles Debuts, #550-573

Way back in June, I began to group former Orioles players by their debut years as a way to show off some of my autographs that have slipped through the crack since the start of this blog. After waiting about a month since the last one of these posts, I'm back at it. Here are the old posts if you want to check them out (200120001999, 1998, 1996). 

Bret Barberie #550, 4/26/95 (1995)

Andy Van Slyke #551, 4/26/95 (1995)

Kevin Bass #552, 4/26/95 (1995)

Matt Nokes #553, 4/26/95 (1995)

Jesse Orosco #554, 4/28/95 (1995-99)

Doug Jones #555, 4/28/95 (1995)

Kevin Brown #556, 4/29/95 (1995)

Jeff Manto #557, 5/4/95 (1995)

Jeff spent nine seasons in the Majors between 1990-2000 and was a true journeyman, having played with eight different MLB teams during that time. The 89 games he played for the '95 O's were far and away the most he ever played for any team during a single season. After his playing career ended, he spent time as a minor league coach and manager and rose all the way to become the White Sox hitting coach prior to the 2012 season. 

Curtis Goodwin #558, 6/2/95 (1995)

Curtis played five years in the big leagues for five different teams and was best known for his blazing speed. He is also apparently cousins with Gary and Walter Payton. 

Cesar Devarez #559, 6/3/95 (1995-96)

Terry Clark #560, 6/8/95 (1995)

Mark Lee #561, 6/9/95 (1995)

Gene Harris #562, 6/20/95 (1995)

Gene was a relief pitcher whose career lasted from 1989-95, and his three appearances with the '95 Orioles were his last big league appearances. He is probably best remembered for being replaced by likely future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman as the Padres closer during the 1994 season. It's a role that Hoffman wouldn't relinquish for many years.

Gregg Zaun #563, 6/24/95 (1995-96, 2009)

John Desilva #564, 6/27/95 (1995)

Jeff Huson #565, 6/27/95 (1995-96)

Jeff spent twleve seasons in the majors as a utility infielder and had the luck to play in both Nolan Ryan's 7th no-hitter and Cal's streak breaking 2131 game. He played in 83 games during the 1995-96 seasons with the O's, and it's awesome that he was included in a certified autograph set as the Orioles utility infielder. I wish they still made certified sets like that! 

He is currently a Rockies' broadcaster so I might try to send him a TTM request sometime to see if he would personalize a card for me.

Rick Krivda #566, 7/7/95 (1995-97)

Scott Erickson #567, 7/9/95 (1995-2000, 2002)

Joe Borowski #568, 7/9/95 (1995)

Bobby Bonilla #569, 7/29/95 (1995-96)

Jim Dedrick #570, 8/12/95 (1995)

Jarvis Brown #571, 9/1/95 (1995)

Mike Hartley #572, 9/3/95 (1995)

Mike pitched in over 200 MLB games between 1989-95, mostly with the Dodgers and Phillies. He appeared in just three games with the '95 O's in what would prove to be his final MLB action. Over the past five seasons, he has been coaching baseball throughout Europe, including in Germany, Croatia, and Italy. I didn't even know that they played baseball in Europe, but I'm all for it!

Jimmy Haynes #573, 9/13/95 (1995-96)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Oriole #937- Manny Machado

Manny Machado made his Orioles' debut in Thursday night's game against the Royals as the O's starting third baseman. He was 2-4 at the plate and scored a run. His first major league hit was a triple to lead off the fifth inning, which lead to his scoring the Orioles' first run of the game. Interestingly, Machado's debut was probably the biggest debut in Baltimore since Matt Wieters, and Wieters' first big league hit was also a triple.

Manny on third base after his triple
I feel that expectations are high for Manny's career but are tampered for the time being, especially since he was called up directly from the AA Bowie Baysox and has never played a game at the AAA level. Getting two hits in his first game won't do anything to lower what the fans will expect of him, but I personally am happy to have him in Baltimore this season. The team is in the playoff hunt and there are a few veteran players on the roster who just haven't been getting it done. If nothing else, this should light a fire under some of them. 

Manny is a very confident individual and player, so I don't expect the big league lifestyle to effect him too much. He seems to have a fairly high opinion of himself, so he will likely fit in to the Majors pretty well. 

I have had the opportunity to get Manny's signature a number of times during the time he spent with the Aberdeen Ironbirds, Frederick Keys, Bowie Baysox, and at spring training prior to this season. While his autograph has never been much to look at, there are still visible differences between his "good" and "bad" signatures. 

Here is a card he signed for me while he was playing with the Ironbirds shortly after he was drafted in 2010. Not great but not too bad. 

But then here are some of the signatures I got during his time with the Keys throughout the latter half of the 2011 season.

That last one looks like a single M and doesn't bear much resemblance to the pre-printed signature on the card. 

By no means am I trying to begrudge a player like Manny who has easily signed thousands of autographs already in his young career. It's great that he signs at all, and it's obviously not something that he needs to do. But I can almost guarantee that he will be a very tough autograph to get later in his career, especially if he achieves the level of success that I think that he is capable of reaching. 

On a slight uptick, here is his autograph that I obtained during 2012 spring training, which seems to be a return towards his early career 'graph, which is certainly a good thing. 

Good luck in the Majors Manny! I would love to be cheering for you for many years to come.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Clint Courtney, Oriole #6

Clint "Scrap Iron" Courtney was a catcher in the big leagues from 1951-61, and spent a majority of his career with the St. Louis Browns/Orioles franchise. He followed the team from St. Louis to Baltimore prior to the 1954 season and became one of the original Orioles; he even played in the new franchise's very first game against the Tigers in Detroit on April 13, 1954. By my numbering system, he was the sixth player to appear in a game with the franchise (four other players batted in the top of the first, making them Orioles #1-4, then I used the other player's position numbers to determine the rest of the debuts, and since Clint was the catcher (position #2) he is Oriole #6.) He hit the first home run in Memorial Stadium history and would play with the Orioles over three separate stints in 1954, '60, & '61.

Clint earned the nicknames "Scrap Iron" and "The Toy Bulldog" due to the combination of his feisty, combative style of play and his relatively small stature. He was often involved in fights on the field and accrued a number of fines during his career. He is also regarded as one of, if not the first, catchers to wear glasses on the field. In 1960, he became the first catcher to use an over-sized mitt to better catch the knuckleballs thrown by Hoyt Wilhelm; the unique mitt's invention is frequently attributed to then Orioles manager, Paul Richards.

After his playing career ended, Clint became a coach and manager, mainly in the Braves' farm system. During his time as the manager of the Richmond Braves, the team was on a road trip to Rochester, New York, when Clint suffered a fatal heart attack while playing ping pong with one of his players. He was only 48 years old at the time of his death. RIP Clint.

It took me quite a few years to track down a signed copy of Clint's 1954 Bowman card. It is the only Orioles card of his that came out during his lifetime, so I'm very glad to have this signed copy in my collection. I got it at a reduced price because the card is trimmed, but all I care about is that it's signed, so it works just fine for me. While writing this post, I noticed that Clint's jersey says Oriole's, as opposed to Orioles. Not a big deal, but just interesting, to me at least.

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible." 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some Recent Upgrades

Between doing some in-person graphing at games and picking up some signed cards via consignment, I've been able to upgrade a number of autographs in my collection recently, mainly of the current players on the team. 

I was able to get a few players to sign their first Orioles cards, including
Wei-Yin Chen,

 Wilson Betemit,

and Tommy Hunter.

I also "upgraded" a few of the autographs in my collection to include personalizations from the players.

Thanks to JJ,

Ryan Flaherty,

Darren O'Day, 

and Steve Johnson for personalizing their autographs.

Also, I just noticed that Steve's picture on his Bowman Dodgers card was taken at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, MD, home of the Orioles' short season Aberdeen Ironbirds. The only connection I can make is related to Steve being from the Baltimore area, but that still doesn't really place him at the stadium. Oh well.

I was able to finally get an "in-person" signature of DeMarlo Hale via consignment. He has handily ignored me each time I've called out to him this season.

Miguel Socolovich signed this team card for me. I only had one single minor league card of his prior to the season, which he signed for me during spring training, and couldn't pass up the opportunity at an autograph, so this works for now. At least until I receive my 2012 Norfolk Tides team sets.

Finally, Al Bumbry made an appearance at a AA Bowie Baysox game a few weeks back to celebrate his bobblehead night  (pictures coming at some point), and he was signing for everyone.

I gladly scooped up an orange uni autograph and his York Revolution coaches card.