Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Silliness

I think leap days are ridiculous, and while I totally understand the need for them to keep the calendar accurate and the world from imploding or something, everyone always makes such a big deal of the extra day on the calendar. And there's always stories about middle-aged people turning 10, old people turning 20, etc. If you are born on a leap day, what's your legal age? I guess they just consider the blip of time between February 28 and March 1 your special day in a normal year? Silliness, I say.

*Also, I'm on a fixed annual wage and don't see a dime more for the extra day of work. Poppycock.

Anyway, because I don't think much of today's date, here is the most absurd autograph in my collection.

It's Orioles former pitching coach Rick Kranitz pushing a shopping cart with about 19 baseballs in it. Why, Rick, why? Wouldn't a bucket have done the trick? Isn't that standard?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Off-season Upgrades

When I attended Orioles FanFest in late January, I was able to add/upgrade a bunch of my autographs to these Orioles team-produced player postcards. But there were a few guys I missed out on: and now things are once again right with the world, as I was able to add the two players I missed out on to my collection.

Oriole #907 Zach Phillips and #908 Pedro Strop

After Fanfest, I also discovered that postcards had been created for hitting coach, Jim Presley, and pitching coach, Rick Adair, so I was forced to swing another trade to add them to the fold. 

The fact that Presley never had a postcard produced last season always confused me, since first base coach Wayne Kirby, and third base/bench coaches John Russell and Willie Randolph were all featured on postcards. Adair had started the season as the bullpen coach, a staff member who is rarely included, before moving to the pitching coach position vacated mid-season by Mark Connor. 

At this point, I'm happy to have my collection fairly updated with all the 2011 players/coaches before the scramble begins to add all the new 2012 additions to my collection. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oriole #725- Jose Morban

We are firmly entrenched in the modern Orioles era I'm least familiar with, and I'm sure my posts about these players reflect my disconnect from the team during the early 2000's. I had just started college back then, and while I still followed baseball and supported the O's, I didn't spend much time thinking or reading about the team.

Jose made his Orioles and MLB debut on April 6, 2003 and spent the entire season with the team, appearing in 61 games. He was typically used as a pinch hitter or pinch runner, but also played the middle infield positions and was a DH on occasion. Those 61 games turned out to be the extent of Jose's big league career.

I feel like it's rather uncommon for a player to spend an entire season with a team in the Majors, but then never play another inning in the bigs. It looks like Jose had been selected by the Twins in the December 2002 Rule 5 draft from the Rangers, and the Orioles in turn plucked him off waivers from the Twins, so maybe he had to remain on the roster for the entire season, but who knows? That's a little too in-depth for me to understand.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blast From the Past

Check out this card I came across during my recent organization process.

Who out there can honestly say that they remember that the Tigers once played in the A.L. East? I know that many of us are old enough, but it's something that I regularly forget, even though they were direct competition for the O's. Crazy stuff.

And for those of you who don't remember this alignment; prior to the 1998 season, the Tigers moved to the A.L. Central to replace the Brewers, who had opted to move to the N.L. Central. All of this was done to accommodate that addition of the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unpossible Autograph- Bert Hamric, Oriole #125

(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 a few pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.")   

I know that this is the second consecutive week that I've profiled Hamric as my unpossible autograph, but I feel like that's OK since he was the final player I needed for my collection. Also, last week's post was spent mostly talking about what this autograph meant to me and my "completed" collection. This week I will focus on Hamric, the player, not that there's too much to say.

Bert appeared in just ten games as a Major Leaguer; his first two appearances came with the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the final eight came with the 1958 Orioles. Bert entered all ten of those games as either a pinch-hitter or runner, so he amassed just eight big league at-bats, and only one hit, a single. He made his Orioles debut on May 2, 1958, and became the 125th different player to suit up in a game for the Orioles.

While his time in the Majors was extremely brief, Bert played professional baseball from 1949-61, spending his first nine seasons in the Dodgers' farm system before bouncing between minor league clubs in the Orioles, Phillies, and Kansas City A's systems. He spent parts of the 1959-60 seasons playing for the Miami Marlins, then the O's AAA affiliate. (Hey, I knew that new team in South Florida sounded familiar!)

Bert was included in two of Topps' base sets; he was pictured in 1955 as a Dodger, and this 1958 card obviously shows him with the Orioles. I guess that it's possible that Bert had been considered some sort of prospect, but it's rather surprising that a guy who played so little in the Majors was included in two major Topps sets. It makes me wonder which players were passed over; I'm sure that many of them had longer, more successful careers or were bigger names than Bert Hamric.

Bert passed away in 1986, when he was only 58 years old. I think the reason his autograph was so hard for me to track down is due to the fact that he passed away relatively young, it was almost thirty years ago before the autograph and memorabilia market blew up, and he was a member of the very popular 1955 Dodgers' World Series Championship team. But now, his signed Orioles card is in my collection, and I will file it away with the 909 other Orioles, just where it belongs.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Random Oddball Sets for Trade

Continuing my push to clear out some items that I no longer collect, here are a bunch of oddball type sets I would love to trade. If anyone collects these sets, I'm happy to send some of the whole sets to you, or if no one is interested in that, I can go through them by player or team. Let me know!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oriole #728- Damian Moss

All of my trade posts over the past week have kept me away from posting Orioles autographs, and I can't stay away from that for too long, since that's kind of my thing. So I'll continue my Orioles debut countdown.

Up today is Oriole #728, Damian Moss, who the Orioles acquired from the Giants (along with two other players) in the 2003 Sidney Ponson deal at the trade deadline. Moss made his Orioles debut on August 4, a few days after the trade, and pitched in 10 games, 9 nine starts, over the last two months of the 2003 season. Things didn't go too well for Damian, and he finished his time in Baltimore with a 1-5 record and a 6.22 ERA. He was granted free agency after the season, ending his brief time in Baltimore.

Damian is Australian and pitched for his home country in the 2006 & 2009 World Baseball Classic. He actually earned the squad's lone win of the 2009 tournament, when he came out of the bullpen to cement a victory over the Mexican team.

He continued pitching professionally through the 2010 season, although his last MLB appearance came in 2004 with the Devil Rays. I had contacted a few fellow autograph collectors who tried to get an Orioles card signed for me over Damian's last few seasons, but he would regularly turn down autograph requests and I guess had a bit of a surly personality.

I added this card to my collection through a trade on Moss was featured on a few different cards as an Oriole, and I was lucky enough to trade for the only one featuring him in an orange uniform.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Does Anyone Collect Juan-Gone?

Because many, many years ago, I did, but no longer have any interest in his cards. And I have a bunch of them...

Most of them are just base cards but there are some inserts as well. I don't have a list of what I have, but if anyone is interested in anything specific, let me know and I'll see if I have it.

Here are some closer shots of what I have.

I know there are some Rangers collectors out there who might appreciate these, but I figured I would check to see if anyone is specifically interested in these cards.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Some Additions to the Vlad Orioles Collection

One year ago, I was excited that the Orioles had signed Vlad, bringing one of my favorite non-Orioles to become to be a member of my favorite team. It seems like there is very little chance that Vlad comes back to Baltimore this year, but I enjoyed his 2011 season in Birdland.

I've slowly been accumulating some more of Vlad's Orioles cards. I haven't extensively collected any current players for quite some time, and it's amazing to see the number of parallels that are out there. Almost every one of his cards has a handful of variations to chase, but it makes things interesting. My favorite of these three is the Gypsy Queen green parallel, and I'm sure that most of you know this but the picture is recessed and the green forms a border around it. Cool stuff.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Bert Hamric, And Then There Were None

(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 a few pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.")  

That's right. You read that correctly, I said Bert Hamric, who, until yesterday, had been the one and only autograph missing from my collection out of the 910 players who have appeared in a game for the Orioles. 

Isn't it a thing of beauty? I nearly fell over when I opened the package and saw Bert's autograph. It's an amazing feeling to be "done" with my collection, at least until future Orioles start making their debuts in about five weeks. (Not to mention the 30 former Orioles whose autographs I need to upgrade to signed Orioles cards, as well Chris Davis and Kyle Hudson being included in 2012 Topps as Orioles.) It's pretty unlikely that I will ever have every former Orioles autograph who were pictured on Orioles cards, but that fact that I now have an autograph from every one of the 910 Orioles players is a great feeling. I've mostly succeeded in what I set out to do almost four years ago, but the collection really started about 20 years back. 

I once again have to thank my dad for the assist with this autograph. Over the years, he has helped me to add countless autographs to my collection; years ago, he would take me and my buddies to Orioles games, and these days, I can count on an Orioles autograph or two to be included as birthday or Christmas gifts, in addition to some leads on other autographs I'm trying to track down. Thanks for everything dad.

Now, I realize that this post has said very little about Bert and his career, so I will probably write about him in some detail next weekend, once my excitement level has died down and I regain some focus. 

And to top it all off, Orioles' pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. Baseball will officially be back!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My First Autographs

Since I started this blog almost four years ago, I had always intended to write this post at some point, and I'm finally getting around to it. 

Below are the first autographs I believe I ever got in person, and I guess you can trace my autograph obsession all the way back to them. They were obtained at a Harrisburg Senators game in 1990, when I was only 7 years old. At the time, the Senators were the AA affiliate for the Pittsburgh Pirates and were a relatively new franchise, having started up just a few years before in 1987. I grew up in Carlisle, PA which is about 20 miles west of Harrisburg, and the Senators were by far the nearest professional baseball team to my town. 

Beginning in 1991, the Senators formed a partnership with the Expos/Nationals that exists to this day. They still play in the same stadium, now Metro Bank Park, which I knew as Riverside Stadium, but it received a major upgrade in 2009-2010. The stadium is unique in that it is located on City Island, in the middle of the Susquehanna River. 

I can't recall what caused me to get my cards signed that day, but I would speculate that I saw some other people getting autographs and liked the idea. I was obviously an autograph rookie at the time since I tried to get the players to sign with a dried up black pen. I'm guessing that I caught my dad off-guard by wanting to get autographs that day, because not long after this we started to carry a sharpie when we went to games. 

As far as I remember, Miguel Garcia was the first autograph I ever obtained, but his time in the Majors was behind him and he didn't leave much of an impression on me. Since he's from Venezuela, it's also very possible that he didn't speak English, which clearly would have made it difficult for seven year old me to relate to him.

But John Wehner was another story. He was a Pennsylvania native and rising star in the Pirates system. (Disclaimer- I was a Pirates fan back then, partially because of the Senators and partially because Sid Bream, who was from Carlisle, played for them. My Orioles allegiance began a few years later.) I remember that he was very nice to me, and upon having trouble signing the front of my card, flipped it over and signed the back. 

John never had much success in the big leagues but played in the Majors for 11 seasons, and I always supported him. My dad had him sign his Senators cap that day, and I believe the hat is still around the house somewhere. It was a great day for my dad and me, and it started a lifelong passion for autographs. 22 years later and I still enjoy getting baseball players to sign pieces of cardboard for me, but now this autograph collector is older than many of the players who sign for me. 

I also had to share these small "certificates of authenticity" that I used to create for all of the autographs I got in person to differentiate them from autographs I purchased at card shows. 

 Awesome, right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some More Inserts For Trade

So, pretty much the same deal as the last time, if you see something you're interested in, let me know and we can work out a trade or you can cover the shipping. If you've already requested a team in my last few trade posts, chances are that I've already pulled your requested teams/players from among these inserts.

This batch is mostly from 2011 Topps, but there are also a few Opening Day inserts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oriole #730- Pedro Swann

Before I start writing, this is always what I think about when I hear Pedro's name. I just had to get that off my chest before I try to say anything else about him, or there's no way I would be able to focus.

Pedro "Stop Looking at Me" Swann played in a handful of MLB games for the Braves, Blue Jays, and O's between 2000-03. He made his Orioles debut on September 15, 2003 and played in eight games at the end of that season, which would turn out to be the end of his time in the Majors. He continued to play professional baseball through the 2008 season.

Since he hung up his spikes, he has started up the Pro Swing Sports Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. He works there with another former Oriole, Carlos Mendez, and former MLB pitcher Dwayne Henry. One other interesting tidbit I read about Pedro is that he appeared in the Kevin Costner movie "For the Love of the Game" back in 1999.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bobblehead of the Week- Northwest Arkansas Naturals' Vance Wilson

As some of you might recall, I have family who lives in the Northwestern corner of Arkansas. If I'm lucky, I travel out that way once every few summers to visit them, and my visits typically coincide with a Naturals' (the Royals' AA affiliate) homestand. Weird how that works out for a baseball fan, am I right? 

I believe during the summer of 2009, my visit also matched up with a Naturals' bobblehead giveaway of then Nats' catcher and former big leaguer, Vance Wilson. Vance was, and maybe still is, a neighbor of my Aunt's in Springdale, Arkansas, and the ballpark was only about ten minutes from his house. He recently agreed to become the manager of the hi-A Carolina League Wilmington Blue Rocks, based in Wilmington, Delaware, which I know is quite a distance from Springdale. Since the Blue Rocks play the Frederick Keys a few times each summer, I hope to have Lance sign my bobblehead at some point. 

The bobblehead is pretty decent looking, if not a bit wobbly on it's base, and the pose is very unique, in my collection at least. Since I attended this game with my family, I ended up with a few extra copies of this bobble, if anyone is interested in one, let me know. 

I'm a big fan of the Naturals' lightning bolt N logo, and now own a cap with a variation of it. 

The Royals' farm system has had a bunch of top prospects pass through town in recent years, so the Naturals' are competitive most seasons and my family is regularly treated to some exciting baseball action. The team has only been around for maybe five years, so the ballpark is new and has been mostly full each time I've attended a game. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Dick Brown, Oriole #192

(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 a few pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.")  

Continuing to count down my unpossible Orioles autographs, up this week is former Orioles catcher, Dick Brown. My autograph of his is obviously a cut signature, and it's affixed onto a 3x5 index card. He did appear on one card as an Oriole during his lifetime, a '63 Topps, so I'm hoping to one day upgrade the autograph in my collection to a signed copy of that card.

Dick was a big league catcher from 1957-65 and spent the last three years of his career with the Orioles. He made his O's debut on April 8, 1963, which was Opening Day that year, and was the 192nd player who donned the O's uniform in a game. During his time in Baltimore, he split the catching duties with John Orsino, and appeared in 59, 88, and 96 games during his stint with the O's. The discovery of a brain tumor cut his career short and forced him to retire at the age of 30 following the '65 season. He spent his remaining years as a scout with the Orioles but passed away due to that brain tumor in 1970; he was only 35.

His passing at a young age and over forty years ago seem to be the main factors behind the scarcity of his autograph. It's very rare to see one available for sale, and rarer yet to come across an autographed card. I have never seen a signed copy of his '63 Topps, but the fact that he lived for seven years after it was issued makes me think that some signed copies of it have to be out there somewhere.

Dick's younger brother, Larry Brown, played twelve seasons in the Majors from 1963-74, and appeared in 17 games for the '73 Orioles, making his Baltimore debut on April 15th and becoming the 286th player to appear in a game for the O's. Larry was kind enough to sign my TTM request, which you can see in the post (third card down) if you click his name.

RIP, Dick. You died way too young.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oriole #732- Javy Lopez

Javy Lopez played with the Orioles from 2004-06, near the end of his fifteen season MLB career. He is best known for the twelve seasons he spent with the Braves from 1992-2003, during which time he was a key member of their perennially contending roster. During his time in Atlanta, he was a member of their 1995 World Series Championship team and was selected to three All-Star teams (1997-98, 2003). He was also behind the plate for Kent Mercker's no-hitter on April 8, 1994.

2003 was the best season of his career as he mashed 43 home runs, and had an OPS of 1.065 which is pretty insane for a catcher. His 43 homers are an MLB most all-time by a catcher during a single season. He was fifth in the N.L. MVP voting and earned himself a Silver Slugger award for his efforts.

Javy debuted for the Orioles on Opening Day 2004, April 4th, and his time in Baltimore started pretty well when he smashed 23 homers over that season. Now that was obviously well down from the 43 he hit the previous season but still solid for a catcher. Unfortunately, he declined in 2005 and even more so in 2006 and the O's flipped him to the Red Sox in August 2006 for Adam Stern and cash. It was a fairly precipitous fall for Javy.

Before I end the post, I want to comment on Javy's autograph. While I'm quite sure that my Orioles card up top is authentic even though I purchased it online, it is a pretty crappy signature. On top of the overall chicken-scratchedness of it, is the fact that his gigantic J is smudged. Overall, I like the card and I'm happy to have it signed but check out this example I have of his autograph near the start of his career. 

Can you say upgrade? Or downgrade if you're talking about my O's card.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oriole #736- Keith Osik

The early 2000's were a time when I didn't spend much time thinking about the Orioles, so my countdown is rapidly approaching a number of players who I just don't remember playing in Baltimore. Keith is certainly one of the ones who I don't recall suiting up for the O's, which I guess is O.K. since he appeared in only 11 games for the team in early 2004, making his Oriole debut on April 7, 2004.

Osik spent much of his ten year MLB career with the Pirates, serving as Jason Kendall's backup, before bouncing from Milwaukee to Baltimore to Washington at the end of his playing years.

He currently is the head baseball coach at Farmingdale State College in Long Island, New York and also runs his own private baseball instruction facility, Keith Osik's Major League Instruction.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

R.I.P. Danny Clyburn

Multiple news sites are reporting that former Orioles outfielder, Danny Clyburn, was shot and killed overnight in Lancaster, South Carolina. Apparently, Danny had been in an argument with another man when things escalated. The man who he was arguing with has been arrested and charged with his murder. Danny was only 37 years old, and his life was cut way too short.

I wrote a post about Danny back in January 2010, and don't have too much to add to that. Since that time I have discovered that he was the 612th player to appear in a game for the Orioles when he made his Orioles, and MLB, debut on September 17, 1997. And as far as I can tell, he is the first former Oriole to pass away in 2012.

Rest in Peace, Danny. It's always sad when a former player passes away, but is especially so in a violent situation like this one. I'm sorry that you have joined the sad fraternity of Oriole players who have been murdered, I believe joining only Howie Fox, who was stabbed to death in a bar he owned, way back in 1955.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Adios Jeremy

One of the first things that I read online this morning was about how Jeremy Guthrie had been traded to the Rockies for two pitchers, starter/swingman Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom. At this point, I honestly don't know what to think about the deal. Guthrie's stats were frequently not pretty and he led the American League with 17 losses in 2011 and 2009, but he was a consistent bet to pitch around 200 innings, and has been the only reliable starter for the Orioles over the past three years. 

Being the O's #1 starter for the past few seasons, he was subjected to some tough match-ups against other team's stronger aces, and was often a victim of poor run support, at least in part to the O's hitters difficulties against some of baseball's best pitchers. As the seasons went along, and he wasn't always facing other top pitchers, I can't explain the continued lack of run support for Jeremy, but it was a consistent problem for him in Baltimore. I hope that he doesn't have similar problems in Colorado.

I'm not surprised that Guthrie was traded, as he was set to become a free agent after the 2012 season, and it  has been a frequent topic of discussion around Baltimore over the past season and a half, but I am surprised the trade went down when it did. I didn't expect any trades to happen this close to Spring Training, but all I can do is hope that Dan Duquette has a good plan of action in mind. While it would have been nice to receive some prospects in return for Guthrie, it sounds like that just wasn't an option. 

From an autograph standpoint, Guthrie at times was very personable and open, while other times he seemed to go out of his way to avoid signing for fans. He did sign for me a handful of times over his five years in Baltimore and I'm grateful for each of his signatures in my collection. Good luck in Colorado Jeremy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Does Anyone Collect These Insert Sets?

So, here are a bunch of cards from some recent insert sets that I'm trying to unload; pretty much the same deal as last week, but with newer cards. I'm trying to clear out some room in my card area and I never bothered to work towards completing these insert sets, so they're just taking up some valuable space. I hope to soon update my base set need lists, as well as figure out which insert sets I want to collect, so I will gladly trade for anything I need there. I, of course, always appreciate Orioles cards too. And if you have a Bert Hamric autograph, you can have all of these!

Most of these stacks have multiple cards, so I have much more than what's just visible up top.

If you don't have anything I want/need, I'm happy to still send some cards your way, I just ask that you pick up the shipping, or if you want to request that I send something for future considerations, I'm cool with that too.

As you can probably tell, most of these are insert sets from 2008-09 Topps & Topps Heritage. Please let me know what your specific needs might be for these sets, I'm happy to look at small lists but prefer to not have to mess around with your master needs list. 

More of this type of post will be coming in future weeks, so I'm cool with adding cards to your pile if you've already made a request. 

I hope that I can help some of you out! Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Orioles (Affiliate) Bobblehead of the Week- Matt Wieters Shorebirds

I think that it's safe to say that Matt Wieters is probably the best represented player in my bobblehead collection, with the only possible competition coming from Nick Markakis or Cal. Wieters has been my favorite player for pretty much the entire time I've written this blog, and is also one of the most popular guys among the Orioles' fan-base, so it makes since I would have multiple bobbles of his.

To date, I've displayed the following Wieters' bobbles:
Orioles SGA
Orioles Big Head Retail
Baysox figurine (I know it's not a bobble, but it's in the same category)

And up today is his Delmarva Shorebirds SGA bobblehead.
(OK, here's the deal, I know he is wearing a Keys uniform on the bobblehead and box, but the hi-A Frederick Keys and lo-A Delmarva Shorebirds both gave away this bobblehead during the 2009 season, the only difference between the two is that the Keys' version has the Comfort Inn logo on the base, while the Shorebirds version is logo-less. I do have both versions, but this is the only one that I have pictures of today.)

It's a pretty good looking bobblehead and box, with a relatively realistic catcher's pose. The face is fairly generic, but all-in-all I'm pretty happy with it.

My main gripe is that the back brim of Wieters' cap is about twice the size that it should be. But you can't tell that from the front, and I rarely turn my bobbles around, except when I take pictures of them to display them here. 

I have an extra copy of this bobblehead up for trade if anyone is interested. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- "Toothpick" Sam Jones- Oriole #215

(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 a few pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.") 

In only one week's time, the featured 'unpossible" Orioles autograph jumps from Oriole #510, Francisco de la Rosa, to #215, "Toothpick or Sad" Sam Jones. The reason for this is not because Sam was the next most recently debuted Oriole to die (in fact 26 players who debuted between de la Rosa in 1991 and Jones in 1964 have passed away) but because I have already featured the autographs in my collection of those 26 others. So now it's time to talk about Sam. 

I want to first discuss his two nicknames. He earned the moniker "Toothpick" because he always like to chew on toothpicks as opposed to smoking/chewing tobacco. So as far as habits go, that doesn't seem too bad. He was named "Sad" Sam due to the dreary look that he typically had on his face. This nickname made differentiating his autograph from the original "Sad" Sam Jones ,who played professionally from 1914-35, something of a task, but I'm confident that the right signature is in my collection.  

"Toothpick" began his pitching career in the Negro Leagues in 1947-48 before jumping to the Major Leagues in 1951. He spent twelve total seasons in the Majors between '51-64 and, at times, was one of the most dominant and erratic pitchers throughout baseball. Between 1955-59 with the Cubs ('55-56), Cardinals ('57-58) and Giants ('59), he once led the National League in losses('55), wins, E.R.A, and shutouts ('59), struck out the most batters three seasons and allowed the most walks in four. During those years, he also tossed the first ever no-hitter by an African-American player in 1955, was a two-time All-Star ('55 & '59) and was the Cy Young runner-up to the White Sox' Early Wynn, also in '59. He would've won the N.L. Cy Young award, but that was back before there was a separate award for each league.

Sam's time with the Orioles came in 1964, at the tail-end of his MLB career: his Orioles debut came on September 4th, and he pitched in seven games over the final month of the season to the tune of a 2.61 ERA over 10.1 innings of work. 

He dealt with neck cancer and the ensuing treatment during the 1962 season, and a recurrence of the disease sadly ended his life in 1971, when he was only 45 years old. 

When I was trying to track down an autograph of Sam, I always figured that his autograph was so hard to find since he passed away way back in 1971, but it turns out that he was a heckuva pitcher too, which I'm sure contributes to the price and scarcity of his autographs on the market.

My autograph of Sam is an old cut signature that is glued to a 3x5 index card. No Orioles cards were produced of him during his lifetime so this bad boy is a permanent member of the collection.

In fact, the only Orioles card ever produced of him was this inclusion in the Crown set, that incidentally pictures him in a Giants cap. 

RIP Sam.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Post FanFest Trade

While many of you already have the pleasure of opening 2012 Topps cards, in my Topps-less part of Baltimore, I'm forced to focus on other things. But since those "other things" are autographs, I'm still happy!

You might remember that I wrote about getting in touch with fellow autograph collector Craig, prior to the O's Fanfest. He and I had traded in the past and were in a position to help each other out at FanFest as well. Turns out that we were able to make another trade following FanFest with some items we got that day. Here's my haul:

A signed Orioles postcard of side-arming reliever and probable future Oriole Darren O'Day. If you clicked the link in my previous post, you saw that Craig also helped me get my O'Day Angels card signed. Since I like having signatures on both non-Orioles cards and O's postcards when they have yet to be featured on cardboard as an Oriole, I'm prepared to write Darren's name on my have list if/when he appears in a game with the O's.

Joe Mahoney will likely one day play for the Orioles, but for now, he's still some variety of a prospect. I wanted this autograph mainly because Joe is rocking the orange uni. 

And this Scott Williamson autograph intrigued me because I know that his Orioles signed items are hard to come by and this one is pretty unique. 

Finally, this Kam Mickolio autographed ball has nothing to do with our trade by rather was pulled by my dad from one of the Orioles mystery ball bags. He likes to take his chances with them and I'm pretty sure that he lucked out with a Markakis ball last year. So you win some, you lose some!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oriole #745- Chad Mottola

On June 30, 2004, Chad became the 745th player to suit up for the Orioles. He spent only one week with the Orioles, but appeared in six games over that time, accruing 2 hits, including a homer, over 14 at-bats.

Chad's career began promisingly, as he was the Reds' first round pick (fifth overall) in the 1992 draft, but he was never able to regularly crack a Major League lineup and appeared in just 59 MLB games for four different franchises during the 16 years he played professionally. Once he hung up his spikes after the 2007 season, he became a coach in the Blue Jays system and most recently has spent time as the hitting coach for their AAA affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s.