Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Training Contest Entries Locked In

The deadline for entries was last night, and you all took 28 of the 30 teams. I still need record predictions from Captain Canuck, Johngy, BA Benny, Daniel & Greg Zakwin, so please comment on this entry so that we have everything locked in.

Here are the entries...


Atlanta Braves (35) Captain Canuck
Baltimore Orioles (32) Ryan 20-11 (1 rainout)
Boston Red Sox (35) JoesAutographs 23-12
Cincinnati Reds (33) Zach 22-11
Detroit Tigers (34) FanOfReds 22-12
Florida Marlins (32) The Dimwit 24-10
Houston Astros (35) Johngy
Minnesota Twins (32) dawgbones 24-8
New York Mets (35) Paul 25-10
New York Yankees (32) BA Benny
Philadelphia Phillies (35) Daniel
Pittsburgh Pirates (33) Billy 16-17
St. Louis Cardinals (31) Greg Zakwin
Tampa Bay Rays (32) Mark 21-11
Toronto Blue Jays (31) Me 18-13
Washington Nationals (30) Aaron 18-12


Arizona Diamondbacks (37) unclemoe 16-21
Chicago Cubs (34) Justin 24-10
Chicago White Sox (32) Kalina 22-10
Cleveland Indians (33) night owl 21-12
Colorado Rockies (33) CPD 23-10
Kansas City Royals (32) Alvin 21-11
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (33) The Angels in Order 18-15
Los Angeles Dodgers (37) Jonathan 25-12
Milwaukee Brewers (32) Matthew 22-10
Oakland A's (35) Nathan 23-12
San Diego Padres (31) Rod 20-11
San Francisco Giants (36) Kirk 23-13
Seattle Mariners (32) Mariner1 20-12
Texas Rangers (31) Play at the Plate 19-12

For whatever reason, I couldn't find anyone who thought the Blue Jays or White Sox would have the best Spring Training record, so I took the Blue Jays and Kalina picked up the White Sox. If either of those teams end up with the best record, everyone who entered the contest will win some cards. So you all might want to root for them as well as the team you picked.

Before wrapping this up, I wanted to include an autograph and figured that it was appropriate to feature Nolan Reimold who hit the O's first official HR of Spring Training in his first at-bat against the Pirates in Bradenton today. Mark Reynolds slugged a grand slam while Adam Jones and Randy Winn homered in yesterday's intrasquad game, but those didn't count towards the official spring stats.

Contest Update- The 2-0 Tigers are the best team so far, while the Blue Jays (0-2) bring up the rear. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- A Short ST Contest Edition

If you don't enter my contest, Bill will never smile again. Today's the last day to enter, and the Blue Jays and White Sox are still available.

Isn't this card craptastically great? Between the tape mark on top, inability to tell what team Bill is representing based on the picture, and Bill's expression, it all comes together really nicely poorly.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Random Saturday Autograph- Chris Fussell & Contest Update

Why Chris Fussell? Why not? He's been in my scanned folder for a long time and is ready for his time to shine. He's a perfect candidate to use as one of my random Saturday autographs.

Chris was a journeyman pitcher who played professionally for fourteen seasons from 1994-2007. For all that work, he appeared in only 40 MLB games (3 for the O's in 1998 & the rest for the Royals in 1999-2000). At least he made it to the top level though, it's something that most of us can't say!

One note about the autograph. I'm a big fan of the his F, but the rest of the autograph seems pretty rushed. 

Did you enter my Spring Training Contest yet? There's still a few slots left and I'm cutting entries off tomorrow, so enter soon!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Elrod Hendricks Unpossible Autograph Friday & Don't Forget to Enter My Spring Training Contest

The first Spring Training game of the year was today as the Giants and Diamondbacks squared off in the desert. There are still a few spots open in my ST contest. The rules are here, but please claim teams in this post. I wasn't very specific about that, so a few of you picked a team that had already been grabbed.  Aaron please pick a new team. The Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Nationals and White Sox are still available. At least a few of those teams have the chance to win it all. I will keep the contest open until Sunday, but don't want to extend it much beyond that as it would give people too much of an advantage. Enter soon if you haven't already!

Since it's Unpossible Autograph Friday around here, I am going to wrap up my "Orioles autographed cards that seem to show pictures from Spring Training" series.

Elrod Hendricks is a fitting guy to wrap things up since he was an omnipresent part of the Orioles family who wore the O's uniform for 37 seasons as a player and coach.

He was a strong defensive catcher who played 657 of his 710 career big league games for the Orioles from 1968-72, 1973-76 & 1978-79. He was a member of the '71 World Series team and was the favorite receiver of many members of the pitching staff.

After his playing career ended, Ellie became the O's bullpen coach for 28 consecutive seasons and filled the position under 11 different managers. Over that time he became synonymous with the Orioles and was probably the most locally famous person to wear the uniform. He was loved by the fans and would almost always sign autographs before games. As a kid, I definitely remember running out of cards for him to sign since he signed at most of the games that I attended.

In a sad chain of events, he suffered a stroke in April 2005, was removed from his coaching spot at the end of the season, and passed away a day shy of his 65th birthday on December 21, 2005. I believe that he had filled the role of Santa Claus at the O's Christmas party earlier that day, which made his passing even sadder. He has proven impossible to replace, but it was great to have him in the O's uniform as long as we did. RIP Elrod.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Don't Forget to Enter the Spring Training Contest Entries Updated @ 10am

In case you missed the post yesterday, I'm holding my Spring Training Contest again. It's really easy to enter. You just have to be a follower of my blog, pick a team and their Spring Training record. That's it.

Here's the updated list of the teams, 13 are still available! Also I need a guess at team's records from Captain Canuck, BA Benny, Daniel & Nathan.


Atlanta Braves (35) Captain Canuck
Baltimore Orioles (32) Ryan 20-11 (1 rainout)
Boston Red Sox (35) JoesAutographs 23-12
Cincinnati Reds (33) Zach 22-11
Detroit Tigers (34) FanOfReds 22-12
Florida Marlins (32) The Dimwit 24-10
Houston Astros (35) Johngy
Minnesota Twins (32) dawgbones 24-8
New York Mets (35) Paul 25-10
New York Yankees (32) BA Benny
Philadelphia Phillies (35) Daniel
Pittsburgh Pirates (33) Billy 16-17
St. Louis Cardinals (31) Greg Zakwin
Tampa Bay Rays (32) Mark 21-11
Toronto Blue Jays (31)
Washington Nationals (30) Aaron 18-12


Arizona Diamondbacks (37) unclemoe 16-21
Chicago Cubs (34) Justin 24-10
Chicago White Sox (32)
Cleveland Indians (33) night owl 21-12
Colorado Rockies (33) CPD 23-10
Kansas City Royals (32) Alvin 21-11
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (33) The Angels in Order 18-15
Los Angeles Dodgers (37) Jonathan 25-12
Milwaukee Brewers (32) Matthew 22-10
Oakland A's (35) Nathan 23-12
San Diego Padres (31) Rod 20-11
San Francisco Giants (36) Kirk 23-13
Seattle Mariners (32) Mariner1 20-12
Texas Rangers (31) Play at the Plate 19-12

I've been showing O's autographed cards that seem to show pictures taken during Spring Training. I figured that today is a good time to show my autograph of baseball lifer, Davey Johnson. He played for the Orioles during their late 1960s-early '70s heyday and was the last manager to lead them to the playoffs in 1997, something he did in consecutive seasons to boot. While he's currently a senior advisor to the Nationals and has no involvement with the O's, I can hope that by my showing his card today, some mojo might rub off onto the 2011 Orioles. It can't hurt, right?

In a way, I think that Buck Showalter seems to be a similar type of manager to Davey. He speaks his mind and the players seem to be extremely ready to play for him. I hope Buck can find Davey Johnson-esque success while at the O's helm. That would be awesome. As of right now, Buck's .596 winning percentage is the best all-time of any Orioles manager who led the team for more than 30 games.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Spring Training Contest Information

Since it seemed like everyone enjoyed my spring training contest last year, I'm doing it again this season. The only differences this year are that you need to be a follower of my blog to enter and only one person can select each team. It got a little confusing on my end to have multiple people selecting the same team, so get your entries in soon! For your viewing pleasure, I've included some autographed Orioles cards that appear to show spring training scenes in the background throughout this post. I thought it might need some color.

Here's some more information on the contest and the rest of the rules.

Since spring is the time of year that any team can have the best record, the idea is for everyone to select the team that they think will have the best Spring Training winning % of all Grapefruit and Cactus League teams, including the results from split-squad games but not games played against college teams. In case two teams have the best record, as a tiebreaker, I would like everyone to select their team's record (team's play between 30-37 games as listed below).

As far as the prizes go for this, I was going to list a bunch of cards that the winner could choose from but I have decided to just say that I'll work with the winner to make sure that they are happy with their winnings. It will be something good from my selection of autographs, inserts, memorabilia cards, and base cards. Your prize will be something that you should really enjoy.

I will update this post as people join in on the contest but here is the list of teams and the number of games that they will play.


Atlanta Braves (35) Captain Canuck
Baltimore Orioles (32) Ryan 20-11 (1 rainout)
Boston Red Sox (35)
Cincinnati Reds (33) Zach 22-11
Detroit Tigers (34)
Florida Marlins (32)
Houston Astros (35)
Minnesota Twins (32) dawgbones 24-8
New York Mets (35) Paul 25-10
New York Yankees (32) BA Benny
Philadelphia Phillies (35) Daniel
Pittsburgh Pirates (33)
St. Louis Cardinals (31)
Tampa Bay Rays (32)
Toronto Blue Jays (31)
Washington Nationals (30)


Arizona Diamondbacks (37)
Chicago Cubs (34) Justin 24-10
Chicago White Sox (32)
Cleveland Indians (33)
Colorado Rockies (33) CPD 23-10
Kansas City Royals (32) Alvin 21-11
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (33)
Los Angeles Dodgers (37) Jonathan 25-12
Milwaukee Brewers (32) Matthew 22-10
Oakland A's (35) Nathan
San Diego Padres (31) Rod 20-11
San Francisco Giants (36)
Seattle Mariners (32) Mariner1 20-12
Texas Rangers (31) Play at the Plate 19-12

Last year the Rays, who went 20-8, had the best ST record, which made BA Benny the winner of my first ever contest. The 7-21 Pirates were the worst team of the spring.

Who will win it this year?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Somewhat Recent Spring Trainings Cards

Continuing with my wildly popular series featuring Orioles autographs on cards whose pictures appear to have been taken during Spring Training, today I'm highlighting some players who spent some time with the O's over the past 5 years. None of these guys were big name players, but they were all good enough to wear the Orioles uniform.

I have to start by showing Chris Gomez who undoubtedly had the best/longest career of any of these guys. Go-Go played sixteen seasons in the Majors with eight different teams from 1993-2008. He was with the O's from 2005-07 and again during Spring Training 2009, but didn't make the team his second time around. He was a solid shortstop who could play any of the infield positions if needed. 

As a member of the Detroit Tigers in 1994, Chris came in fourth in Rookie of the Year voting (behind Bob Hamelin, Manny Ramirez & Rusty Greer).


As little as five seasons ago, Hayden was considered to be one of the O's top prospects, and was one of the players that they wouldn't send to the Marlins to work out a Josh Beckett-AJ Burnett-Mike Lowell trade. Since that time, thanks to a combination of injuries and unfortunate circumstances, he was traded (interestingly enough) to the Marlins for Robert Andino, and has washed out of the Marlins and Pirates organizations. He spent the 2010 season pitching in Japan. It goes to show that prospects really are a great unknown part of the game.

Walter was a massive player who was officially listed as 6'5", 322 pounds, making him the heaviest recorded player in baseball history. Unfortunately, that's his only place in the record books, since it looks like he no longer plays professionally. At least he made it into 14 games with the O's in September 2005, and his big league batting average will stay at a respectable .303. 
Two things about this card. The clouds/weather in the background looks very similar to that on the Gomez card, so I'm guessing both pictures were taken on ST picture day 2005. And Walter's signature is right up there with the worst I've ever seen from an Oriole. What is that chicken scratch?

Last up is the prematurely gray, Eli Whiteside. In retrospect, he might be the most "famous" of these four, considering he just won a World Series ring as a member of the 2010 Giants. He also was the catcher behind the plate for Jonathan Sanchez's 2009 no-hitter. I don't think many people remember that he caught nine games for the 2005 Orioles, but this here card proves that he spent some time with the team. It also proves that he was lucky enough to "catch" the sunny part of 2005's ST picture day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Mel Rosario

Poor Mel Rosario played professional baseball for 14 seasons and only made it into four Major League games, all for the Orioles at the end of the '97 season. All of those appearances were as a late inning defensive replacement so he had a grand total of three at-bats and unfortunately went hitless.

At least he had his picture taken in an Orioles uniform during Spring Training to prove that he played for the team!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Random Saturday Autographs- Spring Training Picture Edition

After yesterday's sad interlude, I will continue showing my autographs that seem to show pictures of players taken during Spring Training.

Next up is Mike Hart.

While I can't say for sure, this definitely looks like a Spring Training type of picture. Mike was a fringe Major Leauger who played 34 games for the O's in 1987 (as well as 13 games for the Twins in 1984), so there wouldn't have been too many opportunities to get a shot of him in an Orioles uniform. The blueish skies and multiple random players milling around in the background definitely point to a ST situation. This card was Mike's only major issue card, so I'm glad that he was sporting the O's uni. Of course he was in the Crown set too, but it's cool that he was included in the 1988 Topps base set.

I haven't really looked at this card in some time, and it definitely looks like I'm in need of an upgrade. Mike is a great TTM signer, and I know that I have a few unsigned copies of this card in addition to his Crown card, so I may as well send out a request. In doing some research about him, I discovered that he is currently a Middle School gym teacher in Wisconsin which doesn't sound like a bad gig.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Two Deaths This Week

After a month without any sad news regarding former Orioles, this week two one-time O's passed away.


Gino Cimoli passed away due to heart and kidney complications on Saturday. I obtained this autograph in a trade with a friend of the blog way back in the summer of 2009. Gino was a great TTM signer and I had intended to send him a card in hopes that he would personalize it for me, but that will obviously not happen now.

He briefly played for the O's in 1964 and is best remembered for being a member of the 1960 Pirates World Series Champs. Overall, he played ten seasons in the Majors from 1956-65.

Joe Frazier, whose autograph I received in a trade not long ago, passed away on Tuesday. I actually found out about his death on Paul's Random Stuff blog last night. A fellow collector on SCN mentioned that Joe had been battling Alzheimer's for a few years and it seems as though the disease finally took it's toll on him.

Joe played for the Orioles in 1956 and later managed the Mets for a season plus in 1976-77. I had sent him a few TTM requests over the past two years, but can certainly now understand why they never made it back. Joe had been somewhat of a hit or miss TTM signer over the years.

RIP gentlemen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring Training Pictures- Non-Orioles Edition

As I wrote yesterday, over the next few days I will be showing cards that seem to show pictures that were taken at Spring Training.

I particularly like Luis Terrero's "pretend you are about to catch a flyball" pose. I'm guessing that this picture was taken wherever the D'backs used to hold Spring Training, which appears to be a grassy area in the middle of an industrial park. 

Luis spent the 2006 & '08 seasons in the Orioles system and played in 27 games for the Birds during the '06 season.

Next up is Dave Van Gorder and his classic "down on one knee, bat on shoulder" pose. I can't be sure that this picture was taken during Spring Training since those trees in the background don't appear to be of the palm variety, but it's at least from a minor league facility. Although the combination of the background and the Reds jersey makes me think of ST. 

Dave spent the 1987 season, his last in professional baseball, in the Orioles system, appearing in 12 games for the O's and spending the rest of the season at AAA Rochester. He was included in the Orioles Crown set, which is his only O's card, but Dave has twice resisted my TTM attempts. Don't worry, I will keep trying.

Mike Milchin was nice enough to sign my TTM request and included about the longest inscription I've ever received. Very cool of him. 

The picture on this card definitely makes me think of a Spring Training bullpen session on a back field. There doesn't appear to be anyone else on the field, but I'm guessing that Mike was at least throwing to a catcher. And I'm quite sure those are the stems of palm trees leading up to unseen leaves in the background. 

Interestingly, all of Mike's major card issues show him in a Cardinals uniform, but he never appeared in the Majors for them. His only big league action came with the Twins & Orioles in 1996. 

As far as I can tell, Mike became an agent after his playing days were over and represents many current Big Leaguers, including the O's new first baseman, Derrek Lee.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring Training Excitement

I've been reading all of the news about Orioles Spring Training and I'm really jacked up. Apparently Mark Reynolds was crushing the ball during BP today, I just hope that power translates to Camden Yards.

Since our wedding is in a few months, Kalina and I weren't going to Spring Training this year, but the anticipation for some first hand Orioles action was too much and we booked our flights yesterday. Since her family lives near Sarasota, we have a free place to spend our nights, so it's hard not to just get on the plane and go.

I tried to find some cards that showed some palm trees and/or some sort of Spring Training scene, and I came up with a pretty solid list that appear to show Orioles players from over the years preparing for the season in Florida. I'm going to show the cards two or three at a time in some sort of order that ties them together. Today's them is current members of the O's with the ST background.

All of those ads in the background definitely make me think about Spring Training. I can't wait to see what Ed Smith Stadium looks like after all of the renovations that have been done since last year!

It sounds like Jake Fox reported to Sarasota along with the catchers, but brought like nine gloves with him since he can play all over the field. However, he's mainly known for his bat, and it looks like he is taking a pretty comfortable trot around the bases during his time with the Cubbies.

Woo Spring Training!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Saga of Mark Huismann

So let me start by saying that Mark is an 89% TTM signer which is awesome. It's great that he takes some of his time to sign autographs for his fans and doesn't charge a dime for it. So many former players aren't nearly as accommodating as he is, and I have to give him props for it. That being said, I've sent him two TTM requests over the past year and included his Orioles Crown card in both. It's his only Orioles card, so I really would like a signed copy of it for my collection. I wrote about what happened with my first request last April. If you don't feel like clicking on the link, Mark returned an 87 Topps Mariners card instead of my Crown card.

Well, last Thursday I got another card back from Mark. Take a look.


He personalized my card this time around, but that's definitely not my Crown card and he's certainly not wearing an O's uniform. At this point, I don't know what to think. There are some guys out there like Hank Foiles who won't sign the Crown card because technically it's an unlicensed set and I guess the players didn't receive any money for it. Hank is the only player that I have heard this about, and I feel like it must be due to some specific grudge, but it's possible that other players feel the same way and won't sign their Crown card. Unfortunately for me, the Crown card is the only Orioles issue for some short-time O's like Mark. (He spent 8 games with the O's in 1989.) 

Well, a few weeks back, I found something on ebay that made me feel a little bit better.

But it also confirmed that Mark has signed the Crown card at some point. There's also a possibility that he takes all of the cards from the TTM requests he receives, puts them in a pile, then signs them and randomly puts them back into envelopes. So if you have a signed Huismann Crown card personalized to Ryan, I'm interested in trading with you!

And doesn't Mark look almost entirely different on the two cards? If you put the pictures side-by-side and quickly asked me if it was the same person, I would probably say no.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Fred and I hope everyone has a nice day with their significant others.

And Happy Pitchers & Catchers Day, if your team is like the Orioles and today is the first day of spring workouts. I'm more excited this year than I have been in a long time. Go O's!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Mike DeJean

Mike's stats with the Orioles for the first three and a half months of the 2004 season- 0-5 record, 6.13 ERA in 39.2 innings over 37 games

Mike's stats for the remainder of the season after being traded to the Mets- 0-0 record, 1.69 ERA in 21.1 innings over 17 games

Someone didn't like pitching in Baltimore. What's up with those splits Mike?

On the plus side, he does sign TTM requests, so he has that going for him.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Random Saturday Autograph- George Werley

George is a one game wonder having appeared in just a single Major League game for the Orioles in 1956 at the age of 18. He gave up one hit, one earned run and walked two in his only inning of action. He pitched the following three seasons in the O's organization before hanging up the cleats after the 1959 season.

I sent George a TTM request last year but haven't got it back yet. Luckily I was able to find this autograph online. I won't say much about his penmanship as I can't really make out any specific letter in that chicken scratch. C'mon George!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Tom Gastall

Almost two years ago when I started this project, I pegged Tom as being a possible "White Whale" for my project. Well, the White Whale has been landed. I picked up this wonderfully imperfect signed note sheet for the collection.

Tom Gastall was a "bonus-baby" catcher for the Orioles in 1955 & '56 and played 52 games over those two seasons. (As far as I understand it, bonus-babies were like first round draft picks today, except they were technically free agents since there wasn't a draft and it was stipulated that they spend their first two seasons with the big league club that signed them.) The O's obviously thought that Tom had some real potential to blossom. He was very athletic and had been a three sport star in high school and college, excelling at baseball, basketball & football, and was even drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1955.

Tom secretly was learning how to fly so he could play winter ball in Venezuela and had bought a used plane for practice. On September 20, 1956 Tom's plane crashed into the Chesapeake Bay. After five days of searching, his body was discovered by rescuers; Tom's life was over at age 24. On the 50th anniversary of Tom's death, John Eisenberg wrote a great article in the Baltimore Sun about him. John does a much better job than I ever could of writing about the tragic events surrounding Tom's life and death, so check out the link.

Because Tom passed away so many years ago, his autograph is hard to track down. There have been a few signatures posted on ebay priced in the hundreds of dollars which is well out of my price range. The same autographs keep popping up and not selling, so I think the owners might be pricing Tom's autograph a little too high. This above unsigned picture (image borrowed from ebay) is even listed for $100. It's obviously the picture that was used to make his Crown card, which is his only Orioles card and was created 35 years after his death, so he obviously never signed one of them. I picked up my signed note sheet on ebay for a very reasonable price, and am thrilled to have an autograph of a player who died so long ago. You're next Howie Fox!

Since I wrote that post in March 2009, I've discovered that their might be a few autographs of other former Orioles that are harder to obtain because the players "disappeared" for many years following their playing careers. The only autographs that exist of them would've had to have been signed during their playing careers and survived over many years. Regardless, I'm thrilled to have an autograph of a player who has been dead for almost 55 years.

RIP Tom.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



Always the source for your breaking Orioles news, I'm happy to say that the O's signed Vladimir Guerrero to a one year deal last Friday. And I couldn't be more excited; well, maybe if it had happened the first time they tried to sign him back in 2004, but I'm still really jacked up about this move. I literally freaked out when I heard about it. I can't wait to get my Vladdy jersey.

Vlad has long been one of my favorite non-Orioles. I had the pleasure of watching him tear up the AA Eastern League with the Harrisburg Senators back in 1996 and he signed the cards in this post for me at games over the course of that season. My dad tried to dig up a picture of me and Vlad, but he doesn't think we still have them, if we ever did. One thing I still remember is trying to speak with him using some of my middle-school level Spanish since he didn't really speak any English back then. I don't think I made much sense, but I recall that he seemed to appreciate my attempt.

As you might have noticed or already known, I've had Vladdy's name on the left hand sidebar of the site under the "Who We Collect" tab for some time now. I've never made a concentrated effort to collect his cards, but will happily trade for some if anyone has some that they are looking to get rid of.

The addition of Vlad really makes the 2011 Orioles lineup look formidable on paper. Not only will I love watching him hit, and occasionally unload his cannon from the outfield in the few games he might play out there, but he might be the one to push the team over the .500 mark this season for the first time in 13 seasons. I'm a relatively realistic fan, if not slightly too optimistic, so I'm not predicting playoffs, but I think the team can at least go 82-80 this year.


I traded with Josh over at Dodgerbobble to add this cool Angels Silver Slugger bobblehead of Vlad. The pinetar on the helmet is the best part and very accurate.

Whether or not Vlad is the one to push the franchise over the perennial losers hump, I know that I will enjoy seeing a former Oriole-killer in the lineup. In 2009, Vlad literally got a base hit against the O's on a ball that bounced in the dirt before reaching home plate. Literally. He's on pace to be the best bad ball hitter in Orioles history and hasn't even suited up for a game yet. Now if the Birds can add Pujols in 2012...

Monday, February 7, 2011

C'mon Spring Training & Thanks David Newhan

After watching the team I dislike more than any other win the Super Bowl last night, I've been "in a mood" all day, so figured I would turn my thoughts toward something happy like Orioles Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Sunday and I'm excited for more realistic reasons than any other season in recent memory. I don't think the Orioles will necessarily win the World Series or anything, but they should be competitive and might finally break their nasty consecutive losing seasons streak.

So how does this autograph of a player who hasn't been with the Orioles since 2006 and hasn't played a game in the Majors since 2008 tie in to Spring Training? Well David is partially responsible for my autograph renaissance. I had actively collected autographs for years growing up before high school & college made me think that autographs weren't cool anymore. (A few of my jerky-er friends still insist that's the case, but I'm pretty sure they're wrong.) I piggy-backed on a Florida vacation with my parents and grandma during Spring Training 2006 and we went to an Orioles-Cardinals game. I had a few Orioles cards from packs that I had occasionally bought over the years and this card was one of those few that I brought to that game.

Even though I had repressed them for so many years, my autograph instincts were still in decent form, and I got a number of autographs at the game. Most were on the game program and I've been able to identify most of those signatures, but David was one of just a couple cards that I got signed. It marked my slow but steady ascent back into the realm of Orioles autograph collecting.

David put together a decent career as a super-utility guy and had a pretty amazing 2004 season with the O's. As far as I know, he is still a player-coach in the Phillies farm system and also writes a blog called Newhan on Baseball with his dad Ross who is HOF elected scribe. This card will always hold a special place in my collection.

As baseball approaches, I will once again be holding a Spring Training Contest like I did last year, with just a few tweaks from last year's edition. Info will be coming over the next few weeks, so be on the lookout!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Ra-moan Hernandez

Since it's Super Bowl Sunday, I'm guessing that this won't be a huge blog reading day for many people. And if there's ever a post I don't care if anyone sees, this would be it.

Ramon is probably my least favorite Oriole of the past five seasons and that's saying something considering he has to compete with the likes of the awful Russ Ortizes and Victor Zambranos of Oriole-dom. Dude never blocked the plate nor really seemed to be playing very hard. Not the type of "veteran presence" that will promote winning in the clubhouse.

It's appropriate that my autograph of his is bubbled and pretty awful all around. I tried to send him a TTM request to get an upgrade, but couldn't think of anything nice to say. And to think, I was excited when the Orioles signed him. Stupid.

Go Steelers, mainly because this Vikings fan will never support the Packers.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Random Saturday Autograph- Odell Jones

Odell is about as random as they come. He pitched professionally for 21 seasons and appeared in the Majors in nine of those seasons between 1975-88 for five different teams. He spent the 1986 season in the O's bullpen and was 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA over 21 games.

During the 1988 season while pitching for the Brewers, a gameday injury to one of the team's starters forced Odell to make his first big league start since 1981 and he held the Indians hitless for 8.1 innings. It was by far the best performance of his career.

Since his playing days ended, Odell has been pretty tough to track down for autographs. I'm not entirely sure how or where I picked up this card, but I know that it has been in my collection for years.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Bill Miller

Bill is faced with the unenviable task of following up last week's U.A.F. when I featured the three deceased Orioles HOFers. Anyone would pale in comparison. At least Bill has two solid nicknames, "Lefty" & "Hooks", to help him out. Also, I think this is the only card in my collection that is signed in pencil, so that makes it unique to me.

I really like the look of these '55 Bowman cards; I think the old school wood panel TV kind of reminds me of the console unit my parents had when I was growing up. It didn't even have a remote! I don't think I could handle that anymore, but it was still a nice TV back then. I remember "inventing" a channel changer made out of a few used wrapping paper tubes. It only kind of worked, but it wasn't a bad accomplishment for me at that age. Or now for that matter, I'm not much of an inventor. But I digress.

Bill pitched in the Majors for four seasons from 1952-55, spending his first three seasons as a member of the Yankees who won the World Series each of those seasons. Following the '54 season he was among the 17 players who were traded between the Yanks and O's and he wrapped up his career with the comparatively dismal '55 O's who finished with a 57-97 record and in seventh place in the 8 team American League. Since the O's never have worn pinstripes (thank God) you can tell his card was "photoshopped" to picture Bill in an "Orioles" uniform. It's the closest thing to an Orioles card that Bill has since his Crown card looks like this.

Ugh. Apparently, no one bothered to take a picture of Bill in an Orioles uniform during his stint with the team. The juxtaposition of that hat on a Crown card just looks so wrong. It's times like this that I'm happy I don't specifically collect the Crown set like a few others out there. I wouldn't be able to enjoy having a card like this in my Orioles collection.

Bill passed away in 2003 at age 75. RIP Bill.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TTM Success(es)- Pete Burnside

I sent two TTM requests to Pete Burnside, one on December 14, 2009 and the other on October 22, 2010. Well, they both came back to me last week on January 27, 2011. I sent the second request because I saw that Pete had signed for some other collectors since I sent the first request and in retrospect, sending requests 11 days before Christmas was probably a bad idea, so I figured that my first TTM request was a goner.

The card sent in 2009 is my longest return to date checking in at 409 days. The unpersonalized card is for trade if anyone is interested. I find it interesting how he only personalized one when I requested personalization on both and that he returned both of them in the separate SASEs that I sent. I'm guessing that he noticed that they were both coming to me. I'm not complaining though, I'm just happy to add the autographs to my collection

Thanks for signing Pete, better late than never!

Jamie Quirk Joins the Collection, Thanks to Zman

Zach aka zman40, who writes the blog Autographed Cards, surprised me by getting Jamie Quirk's autograph for me at the Royals' Fan Fest just over a week ago. And not only did he get this card signed, but he had Jamie personalize the card to me too. That part really blew me away. I always prefer that my autographs are personalized because it makes them mean a little bit more to me, and the fact that Zach knew that and had Jamie do it without my asking is amazing. Zach had tried to get Jamie's Crown card signed for me last year, but it didn't work out. This year he did it on his own and I can't thank him enough for helping me to scratch another player off of my list. He has one of the best blogs out there and he has so many autographed cards to show off that you never know what you might see next.

He was also nice enough to send me some Bowman Orioles cards. The Manny Machado card is definitely my favorite of the bunch. I'm hoping that he turns out to be the real deal.

Thanks for everything Zach!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Orioles Fan Fest Recap

Three days later, I'm finally getting around to writing about my 2011 Orioles Fan Fest experience. At least three other Orioles bloggers have already wrote about it, so I really hope that you weren't waiting for my account of it.

Overall, I had a good time but it seemed like there was a little less to do than in past seasons. I spent most of my day in autograph lines, which is exactly where I wanted to be, so I was happy. And I got everything signed that I had hoped to get, so it was a nice little day. Not many people seemed to have a problem paying the $15 per autograph station since you knew you were guaranteed an autograph of whomever you wanted. It's obviously not as good as free, but it's better than wanting a Matt Wieters autograph and ending up with Robert Andino instead (sorry Dino!).


Speaking of Wieters, the highlight of my day was getting his SI cover signed. I carried this issue around in my gameday backpack during the entire 2010 season but didn't see Matt sign at a single O's game. It feels nice to finally have this autographed, and I hope to get it framed sometime soon.

Also signing at Wieter's station were Craig Tatum and Dick Hall. I got Tatum's autograph for Austin and Hall's autograph for Zach of Autographed Cards.

Lucky for me, the guy behind me in line didn't want Tatum's autograph, so he got my card signed for me. 

Next up was Zach Britton, Kevin Gregg, Jake Arrieta and Boog Powell. The Arrieta autograph was for Aaron, who collects Orioles Crown autographs and any other O's autographs he can get. The Boog autograph was for Paul, who just won the Earl Weaver autograph contest. The Gregg and Britton autographs were for me.

I was able to snag a signed O's postcard of Gregg as well as getting my card signed. I have to say that, out of uniform, Kevin looked more like a large banker than a baseball player.
Even though I had prepped my card, Gregg's autograph didn't "stick" well. It wasn't the only problem I had with the Orioles provided sharpies. I think next year I will have to bring my own. 

Zach was promoted to AAA Norfolk before the 2010 Baysox team set came out, so I was happy to finally get this card signed. 
While I was at the Britton-Gregg-Arrieta-Powell autograph station, my dad was nice enough to help me out by going to the Jeremy Accardo-Jason Berken-Willie Randolph-Jim Palmer station. 

The Accardo & Randolph cards are joining my collection, while my dad got Palmer to sign one of the spots in his 1983 O's program and a Berken card that was also for Austin.

My dad was also able to snag an extra signed postcard of Berken & Palmer. Note to Jason- I know that you're pretty accommodating with fans' autograph requests and all, but look at your signature compared to Palmer, who I think has signed a few more items than you over the years. Let's work on our penmanship a little bit.

My last autograph station was for JJ Hardy, Brad Bergesen, Mark Reynolds & Dick Hall. Hall was late showing up and I was one of the first people in line for this one, so I missed him this time around. Luckily, I didn't need him for anyone.

It was my first time getting Hardy's and Reynolds' autographs and they both seemed like decent guys. I especially like Hardy's autograph, even though it looks like it's either missing the JJ or H. I can see one or the other in there but not both.

Bergesen's autograph was for Ryan, the blogger behind "O" No!!! Another Orioles Blog, who I had the pleasure of catching up with for a few minutes. He seemed to have had a good time as well, and has been posting about his Fan Fest experiences for the past few days. He was nice enough to bring me a box of cards with some of my set needs as well as some obscure Orioles cards. Ryan- your thank you box should be on it's way by early next week. 

Last up, the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the short season A affiliate of the O's, were giving away a signed 8x10 of your choice if you could name every Oriole pictured on their autographed 8x10s. I conveniently didn't tell them that the Orioles, and their autographs, were kind of my thing, so Kalina ended up with this nice Chris Hoiles autograph.
All-in-all I had a great time and added a bunch of nice new autographs to my collection. I was happy to help a few fellow bloggers fill some autograph holes in their collections too. Thanks need to go out to my parents and Kalina for tagging along and doing some waiting around as I scurried around the convention center. Now I can't wait for the season to start!