Friday, October 30, 2009

Some Random Friday Baseball Pictures

I've decided to showcase some of my baseball/autograph pictures that didn't get posted over the course of the season until I have some new baseball action to get excited about. And I'm not thrilled about this World Series. I want the Yankees to lose but it would be hard to say that I would be pumped about back-to-back Phillies wins. I grew up around Phillies phans and I don't need all that noise.

This picture is from the Orioles Minor League Appreciation Night that was held in mid-late September. In case you can't read the writing on the jumbo-tron, that is Zach Britton, who was the 2009 Carolina League Pitcher of the Year. It was cool since Brandon Waring was the Carolina League Player of the Year so Orioles prospects swept the Carolina League awards. Go Keys!

This picture features David Price, the Rays' star prospect, front and center. He had actually just signed my card, a card that may one day actually be scanned and shown on the blog. Nolan Reimold and Chad Moeller are standing by the cage in the background and you might also notice the back of former Orioles catcher Greg Zaun's head on the right hand side of the picture. I don't recall who Price is talking to, but it could be Pat Burrell. I know it's #6, any Rays fans out there know this one? I'm looking at you Troll...

This was taken at one of the last Orioles Alumni Autographs nights of the season. From L to R, that is Chris Hoiles, Joe Orsulak and Ken Dixon. I already had autos of all of them but it's always cool to see Hoiles around the Yard. Kalina is always excited to see him too.

Unpossible Autograph: Al Smith

Al Smith 1963 (d. 2002)

Al Smith is probably best remembered in Orioles lore as being one of the players involved in a trade of HOF players between the O's and White Sox than for anything he did on the field for the Birds. He came to the Orioles along with Luis Aparicio on January 14th, 1963 in return for Hoyt Wilhelm, Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson and Pete Ward.

Don't get me wrong, he was no throw-in in the trade though. He had received MVP votes in the previous three years, including a 6th place finish in 1960; he was also an All-Star for the second time in his career that season. His best season had been 1955 when he led the league in games, plate appearances and runs which earned him a third place MVP finish .

He appeared in 120 games for Baltimore, mostly in RF, and batted .272 with 17 doubles, 10 HRs, 45 runs and 39 RBI. He played in only that one season for the O's and it was definitely the twilight of his career as he only lasted one more season in the Big Leagues after it.

Al is arguably most famous for a picture that was taken during the 1959 World Series when his White Sox were taking on the Dodgers. As he tracked a ball to the outfield wall that ended up sailing out of the field of play, a fan who was going for the ball accidentally spilled his beer all over Al. It was a lot different than the intentional dousing that Shane Victorino received this past season at Wrigley Field but it was a lasting memory for him nonetheless. Al estimated that he signed that picture around 200,000 times in his life.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Getting Back to the Collection

Greg Aquino 2008

I got this card in a trade with a SCN user since Greg doesn't seem to sign TTM and he doesn't have any O's cards. I do have one Tides card of him but am wary of sending it off to a random Minor League team that Greg might currently be playing for, so maybe one day I can get it signed.

Greg had a short and not exactly sweet stint with the Orioles in 2008. He was acquired after being placed on waivers by the Brewers after the 2007 season and was claimed by the O's on December 14, 2007.

He pitched in relief for the Orioles in the third game of the 2008 campaign; it was a rocky start to his O's career as he gave up two runs on three hits, including a home run while only getting one out. That pretty well sums up Greg's time with the Birds.

He appeared in five more games before being designated for assignment on April 29, but since he cleared waivers the Orioles sent him to Norfolk. He spent the next two months with the Tides before the Birds brought him back up to fill a roster spot. Three more appearances were all the O's needed to see before sending Greg on a trip around their Minor League system that featured stops in Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie. That was it for Greg and the Orioles; they granted him free agency on 9/28/08.

He signed with the Indians for the 2009 season and pitched in 10 games for them and was better than he had been with the Orioles but was recently again granted free agency.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Changes To My Want List

I've decided after some suggestions from fellow collectors and confusion with trade partners to make a change to my want list, shown at the top of the left hand column.

I have now added all of the players who I have autographs of, but not on Orioles cards, assuming they have cards featuring them in an O's uniform, to my want list. Those players are highlighted in yellow so they will stand out.

I've decided that I will continue to count those players among the autographs that I have, but added them to the list to show everyone the upgrades I could use to my collection. I hope that this helps make everything easier for future trade partners.

Does that make sense to everyone? I think that it does.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review: The Best Signers

Well, this will be my last year in review post. I hope that everyone has been enjoying them but I think I might have lost some interest as I haven't got a comment in about a week. But regardless, I will soldier on and complete my review. Whether you like it or not!

These guys were the most reliable signers throughout the course of the season. Now they didn't sign at every game by any means but I probably saw them sign at an average of 1 out of 5 games throughout the year. And that's pretty good for today's current major league player.

So without further delay, here they are. The best of the best!

I have to start out with my boy, LUUUUKE Scott. He was easily the best Oriole signer on the year and seems to really enjoy signing too. I would estimate that I saw him sign 15-20 times in the 50 or so games that I went to. I am giving him my inaugural "Best Orioles Signer of the Year" award. He's a very positive guy and never ignored the fans; even on days that he wasn't signing, you could count on at least a smile and a wave.

Keep up the good signing habits Luke!

Apparently, Matusz and Tillman have become very good friends even though they never played together in the Minors and were only on the O's together for about two months. From what I hear, they spent a lot of time together and luckily for me, are both very good signers. That is somewhat rare for hotshot prospects and the fact that they both are easy to get is great for me.

Matusz signed for me in Frederick, Bowie and Baltimore this year. That's my first auto-trifecta!

Chris signed for me in Norfolk and Baltimore this year, as well as in Bowie last season. That's not too bad either and he has a pretty cool autograph too. I hope that these two guys continue signing throughout their long, productive careers for the Baltimore Orioles!

Chris was trying to look like he didn't want to be in the picture with me, but I know otherwise.

Dino was another player that I would consistently find signing. As the backup infielder, he had some extra time on his hands throughout the season and made good use of it. One of my favorite memories of him is the day he was goofing around with two little kids whose dad was trying to take a picture of the three. He stuck his head through the railing and was making funny faces. The kids couldn't get enough of him.

Even though Rich was injured and away from the team for almost half the season, I was able to get his autograph 3 times. Of course I got an Orioles card of him immediately after he was hurt so I am still hoping to get it signed sometime soon. Will he be back with the O's in 2010? I do not know.

Although both Wieters and Zaun didn't sign very often since they caught almost every day while they were with the team, their backup, Mr. Moeller, had the time to sign and sign he did. It took me a while to get him for the first time on the season but after that, I seemed to get his autograph every other game! Or something like that...

Justin Turner was one of the players who came over in the Ramon Hernandez trade. If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you should know that I wasn't a big Ramon fan. So that in turn (ha) makes me a Turner fan. He seemed to be a great signer after his September call-up and even got a little excited to be recognized and hounded for autographs. Keep up the good work Justin!

Sean Henn was another guy who didn't make his O's debut until later in the season but signed frequently once he was with the club. I'm not a big fan of getting Yankees cards signed but they are certainly better than nothing. Especially the A&G card turned out really well.

Well, there you have it. I reviewed the signing habits of all 48 players who suited up for the Birds in 2009. Hopefully, I will still be doing this little blog after the 2010 season and will again share my review. I hope that you all enjoyed it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review: The Good Signers

I noticed all of these players sign frequently throughout their time with the O's.

George was consistently a good signer over his time with the O's. I know that I have mentioned that the relief pitchers all stay in the dugout and then walk out to the bullpen together prior to games but the closer typically does his own thing. So if he's a cool guy like George, you have a good shot at an autograph.

I know one loyal reader who will be excited to see George in a post. We just pulled his Dodgers card from the 09 Topps U&H set and it was kind of bittersweet. We miss you George!

The Cla was another reliever who seemed to sign pretty well. He was only on the O's for half of the season but I got his autograph at least twice. Cla was fairly reliable out of the 'pen and I hope he's on the team again next season. You can never have enough submarine style pitchers. That's according to my theory on maximizing the number of submarining players on the team. I tried to convert Melmo to try throwing submarine style on plays at third but he wanted no part of that. (Kidding)

Berky was a great signer. I was at his MLB debut game and he was actually signing before he warmed up. That's amazing! I had never even seen a starter do that in the minors, let alone at the Major League level. He seems like a nice guy, but I hope that he has more success on the mound going forward.

This was the first Orioles card that I got of Hendrickson, so I was pumped when he signed it for me. He signed a little more frequently when he was a starter as opposed to a reliever but he was pretty good about it either way. I should try to find a basketball card for him to sign if he's on the team again next year.

Another one of Kalina's favorite players was a good signer when he wasn't hurt. I just read that he is pitching in the Mexican Winter League to get some more innings since he was out for such a long time this season. But every time I found another Sarfate card, it would be signed soon enough.

I hope that Chris can revert to his 2005-07 form soon. A 7.27 ERA in 40+ games isn't pretty. But at least he's a good signer! He went down the entire right field line at the last Sunday game of the year and honestly must have signed around 500-700 autographs. Nice work Chris.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review: The Kinda Good Signers

These players all signed for me multiple times over the course of the season. They seemed to sign willingly, at least at times so they get bonus points for that.

I love this card. These Ginters really make the black sharpie pop. This is one of 3 Jonesy autos I got this season so he signs pretty well for a budding star. At least one of the times he signed, he came over on his own accord so that was really cool. He does seem to sign better on the road than at home as I got 2 of my 3 autographs in DC & Toronto.

Hail Cesar! This was the second Orioles card I got Cesar to sign but it looks really nice. He signed it on the white jersey so the signature really stands out. All in all I think I saw him sign six or seven times over the season. He was always the first player in the dugout so he normally had a few extra minutes to sign. I dropped the ball at least once when I forgot to put Cesar's card back in my team set when Zach from the excellent Autographed Cards blog was visiting Camden Yards. I think I ended up with 3 or 4 of his autographs so I'm not complaining.

Guts is a pretty good signer but he won't hesitate to mess with fans that continuously call his name even after he tells them that he will come over. He was especially bad with doing that in Toronto but he did eventually come over to sign for the fans. I'm pretty sure I got his autograph twice this season but I saw him sign a few other times but was too slow to get him.

Michael Aubrey spent most of the season at Norfolk before being called up in September and pretty much becoming the everyday first baseman. He contributed to the walkoff win at the last game of the season and is a pretty slick fielder. Not a bad signer either.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review-Small Sample Size Good Signers

All of these players seemed to be good signers but weren't with the team long enough for me to figure out if I just got lucky or if they normally sign a lot.

I'm pretty sure that Bergy is always a good signer. I saw him sign 3 or 4 times at Orioles Park this season and he was only with the team for about half of the year (stupid Billy Butler line drive off of his shin...). I also got multiple cards signed by him at Bowie last season even though I seemed to attend most of his starts by a strange coincidence. He even signed my Bergesen t-shirt that the Orioles gave away; that's one of my favorite autographs from the year.

Lou is an interesting story from my autograph seeking standpoint. With Bowie last season, he was one of the toughest signatures to get. I got him once over the course of the entire season while I typically had 3-4 of all the other players.

But this year, I got him to sign his Orioles cards three times even though he was on the DL for the majority of the year. So I had more success with him while he was an Oriole than a Baysox player. Weird.

I was also lucky enough to catch one of his rehab starts with Frederick at the end of the season so he signed a few more cards with me then. If my memory is correct I also got a picture with him at that game.

G-Rod is another interesting case of a player who seemed to sign more once he was on the O's than he did for the Baysox. But this occurred over the course of the 2009 season. He started the season with the Baysox and was with them until about mid-August when he was promoted to the Tides. I got his autograph twice over his time in Bowie; and one of those was at a meet the team day.

He was promoted from the Tides to the O's with the other September call-ups and I got his autograph once over the last month of the season. So he freely signed for me once in Bowie over 4.5 months and once in Baltimore over 1 month. My guess is that as he is a veteran in the minors the younger guys are expected to sign more, whereas he is a rookie in the Majors and is expected to defer to the more experienced guys. Just a guess.

Chris was another September call-up whose signature was pretty easy to get. I believe this is the first Orioles card of his that I got signed. Last year, he signed a Baysox card for me when he was with the O's. He signed for a bunch of fans at the last game of the year and I was happy to be one of them. This is also the first time I have featured Chris on my blog, which is not the case with these four other players.

Since I already featured this card on the blog, I wanted to show the 09 Tides card I got signed at the last game of the season. But, yet again, I haven't scanned that and don't know exactly where I might be able to find it. I'll look for it tonight. But Alberto seems to be a pretty nice guy and a good signer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review: Players with Undetermined Signing Habits

I wasn't able to get a good read on how often these players' signed. They all seemed to be decent but either weren't around long enough to determine their signing frequency or I never figured out their habits.

Jefffy was a September call-up who signed for me once at Oriole Park. He started out the season with the Baysox, which is where I got this card signed. He was promoted to Norfolk after a few weeks in Bowie, so it was nice to see him in Baltimore again this season. What do I mean again, you say? Well, for some reason, he was called up to the O's from class A Frederick in 2005; he also appeared in a few games for the '06 Birds.

I got these Kam cards signed on my Norfolk trip. They were the only cards I had of him at the time. I have since added a '09 Tides card of his that I have yet to get signed. I know that I saw Kam sign at least twice at Camden Yards. I took a picture for proof on one of those occasions.

Gee Thanks Kam!

Nolan was a great signer while he was with the Baysox in 2008. He started out signing pretty often around the time of his Orioles call-up in mid to late May but he seemed to tail off a little towards the end of the season. I got these two cards signed on my Toronto trip.

On a side note, I was pretty psyched to pull my first Orioles' Reimold card from a pack of 2009 Topps Updates & Highlights the other day. I can't wait to get that signed!

Matt bounced back and forth between Norfolk and Baltimore this season. A friend got me his autograph at Fanfest and then I got this card signed at a game at some point during the season. I think I saw him sign a few other times but I only had the two cards of him so I just passed him by. I got an O-Pee-Chee card of his at the end of the season that I hope to get signed next year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review: Hit or Miss Signers

These players seemed to be very streaky in regards to their signing habits. I saw a few of them sign multiple times one week but then not at all again for months. It could have something to do with how their performance on the field was going, or what was occurring in their personal lives; but whatever the case, they signed much better at some times than others.

Melmo was the ultimate streaky signer this season. I'm sure that a lot of it had to do with his slipping performance at the plate since I remember him being a better signer in years past. But I didn't get his autograph all season until my trip in early August to see the O's play in Canada.

Later that same week, I was able to get his autograph at Camden Yards. But those were the only two times I got him all year. I did see him sign at the last Saturday game of the year but missed out on him that time.

I'm not sure if Felix was a streaky signer as much as he seemed to prefer signing on the road. He signed at all three Blue Jays games that I went to in Toronto, but I only saw him sign once or twice in Baltimore. And I can't really count the Orioles Store signing he did in York that Kalina went to for me as it wasn't his choice to be there. But I appreciate her effort to further my collection!

I was going to categorize David as a bad signer or at least an I don't think he's a good signer until the last series of the season in which he signed at all three of the games. So I guess that upgraded him to a streaky signer. To that point, I only got his autograph one time (on the above card) including the '08 season while he was with the Baysox.

But then I got this card signed at the last Saturday game of the season. It's his first Orioles card and I really wanted to get it signed even though it's a chrome card. I tried to wipe the card down and it at least somewhat worked. I don't think he had seen the card yet since he flipped it over the check out the back before he threw it back my way. I would have offered him an extra if I had one even though these cards aren't cheap.

I'm not sure that calling Ty's signing habits streaky is accurate. He fell somewhere on the spectrum between streaky and I don't think he signs much. I got this card signed in Toronto too and I was really happy since it was my first card of him in an O's uniform. It's an interesting shot as Ty is between the netting and the camera but I like it since it's unique.

Ty signed this card for me earlier in the season. I lucked out and was the only person he signed for since the usher had just gone through to clear all of the non-ticket holding, seat-jumping autograph hounds out of the area by the dugout. But I was sneaky and stayed a few minutes longer, hoping for some luck. Ty walked to the dugout steps near the camera well and I asked if he would sign for me. He said yes, so I hopped the ropes and got my card signed before the usher could shoo me away. Too bad that I chose a card that spelled his last name wrong! I somehow had never noticed that and Ty pointed it out to me but at least he still signed it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Orioles Autograph Year in Review: The "I-Don't-Think-They're-Good-Signers" Updated

Added scans of B-Rob & Bass autos.

I was able to get autographs from all of these players (except KOJI!) but they didn't seem to sign often.

I have to start by addressing Koji, the second Orioles player that I did not obtain an autograph from this season. This is the card I would like to get signed if I ever get the opportunity. Also, a quick check of eBay reveals multiple Orioles certified autographs available for sale at reasonable prices. I prefer getting things signed in person, but if it doesn't work, at least I have some options.

I saw Koji sign at about two games but he drew quite a crowd, specifically from his Asian fans, so I didn't get him to sign anything for me either time. He also got injured early in the season and didn't pitch after June 23, so that also made his auto tougher to get in person. I know he was signing TTM through the season so I tried that route, but no success there yet.

Oscar signed this card for me at the Tides game I went to this season. I also sent him a TTM request while he was at Norfolk, but that seems to be gone for good. He was with the Orioles from June 7-July 12 this season and I don't recall seeing him sign while in Baltimore. But since he signed for me in Norfolk, I can't say I've never seen him sign for the fans.

JJ signed for me twice this season. Both times were early in the year before he was promoted to being the O's closer. I don't think that I saw him sign at all after he was named the closer so it could have something to do with a superstition of his or possibly he got an inflated sense of himself once he was the closer. Who knows? Not I.

This picture is from the one time this season that I saw B-Rob sign. I somehow neglected to scan the card that I got signed that day but trust me, I did get one autographed. I will scan it tonight if I get a chance.

And here it is...
B-Rob definitely falls into the category of being one of the most popular Orioles players so hundreds of people want his autograph at every game. He's a great player and definitely the focus of many female fans' attention so that leads to added competition when seeking his signature. That said, I think I only saw him sign openly like this one or two other times out of all the games that I attended.

I got Brian's auto twice this season. He signed this card for me in Toronto while he was walking back to the dugout after stretching and also signed an Allen & Ginter card for me at the last game of the season. I hope to also scan and add that to this post tonight. It looks really good, and is replacing this card as my favorite Bass auto.

Even though you can't see the borders it looks pretty nice

Those were the only two times that I can recall seeing him sign all season long. I think some of that has to do with the whole relief pitchers staying in the dugout and then walking out to the bullpen together thing. As a reminder for next season, if you are trying to get relievers' autographs, you should focus on Sunday games.