Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Unpossible Autograph- George Werley

Recently, I read the unfortunate news online that another former Oriole has passed away; pitcher George Werley died on November 21.

I wrote about my first autograph of George back in 2011, but had obtained this personalized TTM autograph just this past April, and had yet to post it here. He very kindly signed the front and back of the card, and I'm glad that I sent it out when I did. Sometimes I wait around to do things and then, in situations like this, the opportunity can pass me by, but luckily I found the motivation to send the card out, and George was kind enough to sign it for me.

I found this extensive write-up about Mr. Werley's brief Major League career, and I feel like it does a much better job than I could do of summarizing his time in baseball, so give it a read if you would like to learn more about George's short time with the Orioles.

RIP George. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Sad Return of Unpossible Autograph Friday- RIP Babe Birrer

It had been nearly three months since a former Orioles player had passed away (Jack Harshman died on 8/15) and it was a nice break from writing about O's who were no longer with us. Sadly though, Werner "Babe" Birrer passed away this past Tuesday. 

Babe pitched for three seasons in the Majors, one each with the Tigers, Orioles, and Dodgers, but pitched professionally for 20 years from 1947-66. The Buffalo News did an excellent job writing up the obituary about Babe's life, and I certainly learned a lot about him from reading the entire write-up. I suggest you do the same, but I'll hit on a few highlights here.

-during his time with the Tigers in 1955, he hit two 3 run homers and pitched 4 shutout innings in a single game, coincidentally against the Orioles; that game earned him his nickname "Babe"

-those 2 HRs and the resulting 6 RBI were the entire extent of his career HR and RBI totals

-he gave up one of Mickey Mantle's 3 longest home runs

- he put his baseball career on hold to serve with the Army during the Korean War

-he taught for 20 years after his baseball playing days were over

-he was an avid photographer

-and he was a featured visitor at local German festivals (I'm not sure what it means, but it sounds cool)

I obtained my autographed Orioles Crown card of Birrer way back in December 2010, and included him in a post I wrote about the trade. It seems as those he was a good TTM signer for a number of years but I believe he was unable to sign by the time I sent a request to him.

RIP "Babe", it sounds like you led quite a great life.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I'm Still Here

Just wanted to do a very quick post acknowledging that I do in fact intend on keeping this blog alive, contrary to my recent lack of posting. Most of my issues are tied to the fact that I don't have the cards that I want to write about scanned yet, as well as the general disarray of my cards following the 2013 season. I will fix that situation someday, maybe even someday soon!

For now, the Orioles off-season hasn't exactly been inspiring me to write; I mean, did anyone out there have Kelvin de la Cruz and Edgmer Escalona on their short list of top priority signings? Nothing against either of those two guys, and I have faith that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter know what they are doing, but they certainly aren't the types of moves to get my blogging blood boiling.

I hope to write a post about some of the minor league additions to the Orioles 40 man roster sometime soon.

But for now, to satiate your Orioles autographs fix, here are a couple of my dad's awesome Old Man Cards featuring a couple 2013 O's who almost assuredly will never be immortalized in a Baltimore uniform by Topps.

Thanks again for the awesome cards, Old Man! And thanks for signing them Jairo and Chris!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

K-Rod & Bud Join the "Need List"

2013 Topps Update came out last week, and has been my policy for much of the year due to my decreased card storage space, I haven't purchased any of it yet. I might get a pack or two here or there, but I think my days of trying to complete these sets are over. I don't even have room for the sets that I already have, and need to make some tough decisions about what to keep or get rid of sometime soon. 

Anyway, I digress. Recently, I have just been cherry-picking the Orioles team sets off of ebay, depending on how many new players are included in the set. I really don't need any more cards of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, or Brian Roberts. Since I'm not a player collector, I think 100 or so cards of each of them is more than enough.

With the release of every Topps Update set, I just cross my fingers and hope that not many, if any, of the Orioles included need to be added to my need list. But every year it happens, as a few players are pictured for the first time as an Oriole on cardboard. Last year it was Matt Lindstrom, Ronny Paulino, and Luis Ayala. This year it's K-Rod and Bud Norris. 

Since my dad began making his Old Man Cards of the Orioles earlier this year, it has made the autographing process easier for me. If I had one of his OMC signed by either K-Rod or Bud, then I wouldn't need to add them to my need list, but unfortunately, that's not the case. I was not able to get either of their autographs after they joined the team, and K-Rod even turned me down in what seemed like a very ideal chance to get his signature. 

I'm not too worried about getting Norris to sign a copy of this card since he is likely going to be a member of the Orioles for a few more seasons. But I don't see K-Rod coming back to town, and he doesn't exactly seem to be a good signer, so I am concerned about my prospects of getting this card signed by him. Hopefully it will happen one day.

The 2013 Update set also includes the first official Orioles card of Cuban rookie Henry Urrutia, but since I happily already have an OMC signed card of him, I don't need to add his name to my list. But I will likely still try to get this card signed since he is wearing an orange uniform and all, and I still do collect signed orange uni cards.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Back To 100%

Considering that I haven't exactly had a ton of time for autograph collecting and/or blogging over the course of the 2013 baseball season, I consider myself pretty fortunate to still be able to say that I have an autograph of each and every one of the 966 players who has appeared in an Orioles uniform over the team's 60 years of existence.

Since I now possess autographs of all the 24 players who debuted over the course of the 2013 season, here's the breakdown for how those autographs came to be in my collection:
Obtained from player in minor leagues: 5
Obtained in-person from the player at MLB level: 5
On consignment from another collector: 3
Purchased online: 11

Quite a difference from past years when it probably would have looked something more like 30% obtained in minors, 60% obtained at MLB level, and 10% purchased. But such is the way things go when one doesn't have time to get autographs in person. Luckily, every one of the 11 autographs that I bought are certified signatures, and none were particularly expensive. In fact, most were quite cheap, which is perfect for me.

Without further ado, here are the three latest autographs that I purchased from (As you can see, I haven't had time to scan my own autographs yet, so I grabbed screenshots from their website. Hey, it's better than a post without pictures, am-I-right?)

Orioles #961-963

Michael Morse- options were somewhat limited since I didn't want a Nationals autograph bogging down my collection

Steve Clevenger- I would never have guessed that the Cleaver would have had a certified signature out there

Dan Johnson- there are a startling number of certified autographs of his out there; I tend to forget that he was something of a prospect back in the day

I was very pleased that all three of these autographs are on-card, and that all look pretty nice, although Clevenger's autograph leaves something to be desired. 

These three will likely stay in my collection unless I'm able to get any of these guys to sign one of my dad's custom OMC Orioles cards. Though I would guess that only Clevenger is back in the system in 2014, so that will complicate things with the other two. 

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Topps will be a jerk and include Morse as an Oriole in their 2013 Update or 2014 Series One set since he's something of a "star" although he did next to nothing during his month with the Orioles. If he is included on a Topps card than I have to add him to my need list, which I would greatly prefer not to do. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oriole #966- Mike Belfiore

After spending the entire 2013 season on the Orioles 40 man roster, and having joined the team at least two previous times throughout the season without having appeared in a game, Mike Belfiore finally had the opportunity to make his O's and MLB debut on the last Friday night of the season against the Red Sox, and he will forever be the 966th player to wear the Orioles uniform. 

Two previous times this season, I had speculated that Mike was going to make his Orioles debut, once during Spring Training, and again in May when he was called up to join the team. Obviously, my timing was off, but I'm sure that Mike is pleased either way to have gotten his Major League debut under his belt. Unfortunately, it didn't go the way I'm sure that he would have preferred as he gave up three hits, including two homers, and walked a batter over an inning and a third. Better luck next season Mike!

I've been fortunate enough to have gotten Mike's autograph a number of times during the 2012 season when he arrived at AA Bowie, having come to the organization from the D-Backs in return for the ultimately disappointing Josh Bell in a May 2012 trade. And thanks again to my dad's OMC production, I already have a signed, personalized Orioles card of Mike in my collection, so I will never need to worry about an upgrade.

The Orioles ended the 2013 season with 24 new players having made their black and orange debuts, from Alexi Casilla near Opening Day, to Belfiore near the end of the season. The Birds didn't quite have it in them to make the playoffs this season, but I'm happy they remained in contention through the final week of the year.

Hopefully next week I will have time to do a quick rundown on all the players who made it into a game for the O's this season.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Orioles #964 & 965- Jonathan Schoop & Jason Pridie

Hey, something to get excited about, a post with actual autographs AND pictures. That's probably why you checked this site in the first place!

Two players on divergent career paths both made their Orioles debuts during Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays. Since they both made their debut in the field in the top of the first inning, I have to use my debut tiebreaker system of the numbered positions on the field to declare Jonathan Schoop (pronounced scope) (2B) Oriole #964, while Jason Pridie (pronounced pry-dee) (CF) becomes #965. Schoop is the O's top minor league position prospect whose debut was also his first MLB action, while Pridie has mostly been a minor league journeyman, and the O's are the fourth big league team that he has played in a game for at the MLB level.

I was lucky enough to be at the game, and had some amazing seats to boot. All the better to take some quick shots of the two guys making their black and orange debuts.

Jonathan Schoop- Oriole #964, debuted 9/25 against Blue Jays

I was specifically excited to see Schoop's debut, as he has been one of the O's top prospects for a few years now. He has played primarily second base and shortstop in the minors, but can also man third base. In 2011 and most of 2012, he and Manny Machado played together at Frederick, and then Bowie to form a double-play combo with some serious MLB potential. I think that Machado has already surpassed his early career expectations and I'm hoping that Schoop will have the opportunity to make the club at the start of 2014.

Jonathan was one of the players whom I discussed possibly making the club out of Spring Training this past year, but there was ultimately way too much competition for the Orioles 2B job in 2013. Next year should be a clearer path with the end of B-Rob's contract and the unlikelihood of Casilla's return. 

Schoop has always seemed exceptionally down to earth and should be an extremely easy player to root for; just ask my dad who was fortunate to have a nice conversation with him in our hotel lobby upon Jonathan's return from playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic this year. As you can see, he also has been kind enough to sign a number of autographs for me over the years. 

His MLB career began with a bang, as he went 2-3 with a HR and three runs scored in his first MLB game. 

Here is at first base after singling in his first MLB at-bat

And here he is crossing home plate following his HR. He became just the second Oriole ever to homer in his MLB debut, following Larry Haney in 1966.

Jason Pridie- Oriole #965, debuted 9/25 against Blue Jays

I can pretty confidently say that this is currently the only signed Jason Pridie Orioles card out there, thanks to my dad's old man card production, in addition to a helpful graphing buddy in Norfolk, as I personally missed out on Pridie during Spring Training. For quite some time, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Pridie was not going to play for the 2013 O's, mainly due to his absence from the 40 man roster, and after his name was not included in the September call-ups, I put this card in my trade pile. 

But he was definitely a Buck Showalter kind of player whose name had come up over the course of the season so after AAA Norfolk's season ended, the O's sent him to Sarasota to remain fresh in a sort of taxi-squad type of situation. They needed a fresh player after Manny Machado's nasty knee injury coupled with Chris Dickerson's hamstring tweak, so Jason finally made it to Baltimore. 

Here is his first at-bat with the O's

So far in two games with the O's, he is 2-7 with an RBI, and has played left- and center-field. He also had an unfortunately timed error in last night's game when he straight flubbed an easy fly ball with two outs which allowed a Blue Jays runner to score from first base to take a 1-0 lead. But luckily the Orioles came back to win so it didn't cost them the game, though that is the kind of play that can leave behind bad memories when considering off-season roster moves.

Interestingly enough, I also read that these two debuts have pushed the Orioles to having used 54 different players during the course of the 2013 season, which ties the 1955 Orioles for most in franchise history. And it is absolutely crazy to think about that many players appearing in a game for the team in a single season, especially when that team remained in the hunt for a playoff spot until the final week of the season. Expect a run-down on the 54 players next week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Orioles #961-963, Morse, Clevenger, & Johnson

Wow, I can't believe that it's been an entire month since I have posted. I'm slightly embarrassed, but what can I say? Life just gets in the way of the fun stuff sometimes, and honestly, I've been a pretty bad "blogger" for most of this summer. I don't even have that much time to write today, but I wanted to just re-touch base with the Orioles Autograph "World" out there, just to let everyone know that I haven't completely gone away.

One issue with today's three subjects is that I don't have an autograph of any of the trio, so this will be a non-visual post. I will hopefully rectify the new holes in my collection in the near future, but for now, these three all go on my need list.

Oriole #961- Michael Morse, debuted 9/1 against Yankees

Morse was acquired from the Mariners for OF prospect, Xavier Avery, back on August 30th, just ahead of the waiver deadline, which means he was passed through waivers before he was eligible to be traded, and can still be on the O's 25 man postseason roster. Although, since he currently only has hit three singles in 24 ABs and is playing only part-time, I would be surprised if he was included, should the O's force their way into the October baseball picture. So far, this trade is a bust, and since Morse is a free agent at the end of the year, it's becoming more and more unlikely that he will make any impact for the team, although I suppose that could change with one timely swing of the bat.

At an Orioles-Nationals game that I attended with some friends years back, I heckled Michael by yelling "Morse Code" (not my best effort, but I'm not much of a heckler) and one of my buddies still reminds me of that to this day.

Oriole #962- Steve Clevenger, debuted 9/13 against Blue Jays

I mentioned Clevenger's name in the post I wrote about the trade that hinged on Scott Feldman's arrival from the Cubs. Steve was included in the deal since the Orioles needed some catching depth in their system, and it's a cool story since he grew up in the Baltimore area and was/is an Orioles fan. Although he has appeared in games for the Cubs over the past three seasons, it was probably a lifelong dream-come-true to get into a game for the Orioles.

He has appeared in just that one game to this point, but he was a major reason the Orioles came out on top in that game, as he hit a 2 RBI double to tie the game after the O's had been trailing the Jays 3-1 in the 7th inning. The Orioles continued the comeback to win 5-3, and Clevenger is 1-4, with that double and 2 RBI in his Baltimore career. Currently, he has been a better contributor, and much cheaper, to the team than Morse has been.

Oriole #963- Dan Johnson, debuted 9/14 against Blue Jays

I have to admit something about Dan Johnson, something that hasn't happened to me in years. I had no idea that he was even in the Orioles' farm system until I heard he was being called up. And I'm the kind of fool that keeps track of all 60 of the players who the O's invite to Spring Training every year, so this was somewhat of a big deal to me, and a true sign that I'm off my Orioles autograph game.

Anyway, Dan has a single Orioles at-bat to his name so far, when he appeared as a pinch-hitter to lead off the 9th inning against the Blue Jays. He struck out swinging, and the O's lost 4-3. I wouldn't be completely surprised if that is the extent of Dan's career in the black and orange. Which gives me an idea for a future post, one at-bat O's. At my current rate of posting, I will write that up in 2020.

For those of you out there who are working with me on trades, don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you, but I just need to find time to process everything. And I hope that this isn't my only post for the next month, but time will tell!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Jack Harshman

A post on SportsCollectors.Net from yesterday mentioned that former Orioles pitcher, Jack Harshman passed away last Saturday. 

Jack was kind enough to sign two cards for me through the mail back in 2009. He kindly personalized both of them, which is awesome because it is always what I always request when I send TTMs. As you can see, his signature was really nice, and he even added different inscriptions on both cards.

I briefly wrote about Jack when I received these cards, but since that was nearly four years ago, I doubt that anyone will mind if I repeat myself a little bit. Jack pitched eight seasons in the Majors between 1952-60, spending a season and a half in Baltimore in 1958-59. In 1958, he had a 12-15 record, a 2.89 ERA to go along with 17(!) complete games, and received a few MVP votes for the effort. In 1959, he began the season 0-6 before being traded to the Red Sox.

He also managed to hit 6 home runs in 1958, which is pretty amazing for a pitcher. In fact, Jack hit 21 homers over his career, which is good enough for a tie for 10th most all-time for pitchers. You almost could call Jack a two way player. Not too shabby!

RIP Mr. Harshman, and thank you for having taken time to sign for your fans!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jake Looks Strange

So I tuned into the Nationals-Cubs game the other evening and who did I see pitching but former Oriole Jake Arrieta. It was the first time I had seen him in a Cubs uniform, and I have to admit that he looked slightly weird wearing another uniform, but that's life being an Orioles fan. I mean, I would venture a guess that at least half the teams in MLB have a former Oriole on their roster, so it's not that big of a thing. But it does give me a nice excuse to show off this awesome personalized autograph that Jake signed for me on my 2013 Spring Training trip that I had not shown here yet.

Thanks for signing Jake, and good luck in Chicago!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oriole #960- Bud Norris

Wow, I'm finally caught up on my Orioles debut posts, for the moment at least. My posting over this summer has obviously been lacking, and at times, even calling it sporadic might have been a compliment. But the blog is still alive and kicking (or at least treading water). So your "favorite" source for everything related to Orioles autographs will continue to deliver "well-written" posts about signed pieces of cardboard for the foreseeable future! Rest easy, my friends.

Bud Norris, Oriole #960, Debuted August 1 vs. Astros

The trade that brought Bud Norris into town was definitely my favorite deal of the three that the Orioles swung prior to the trade deadline. While I think the Feldman and K-Rod trades both improved the club, this trade was the one that I think might be the difference between the team making the playoffs or just watching them on TV along with the rest of us. The trade was also an interesting one in that the Astros were playing the Orioles in Baltimore when it went down, so Bud only had to switch clubhouses at Camden Yards to join his new team.

Bud has pitched in the Majors with the Astros since 2009, and his W-L record isn't great but his ERA is very respectable, and let's face it, the 'Stros have pretty much been horrible throughout Bud's time with the team. While I wasn't thrilled to give up two local MD products and prospects in L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader, Bud isn't a free agent until 2016, so should be able to help the O's compete in coming years as well as this one.

To date, Bud has pitched in five games for the Orioles (four starts and one emergency late inning relief appearance), and has won three of his four starts while taking the hard luck loss in just the second appearance out of the 'pen in his MLB career. He has had the luxury of facing some relatively anemic offenses including the Astros, Padres, Giants, and Rockies, but I'm still a fan of his 3.91 ERA in an Orioles uniform.

Before I wrap this up, I want to pass along the story of how he earned the nickname "Bud". I heard this story earlier in the summer while he was still with the Astros but I thought it was pretty funny so it stuck in my mind. Anyway, his real name is David, but when he was a kid, he went out to dinner with his parents and some of their friends/family, and almost everyone at the table ordered a Bud(weiser) and so did he, apparently without anyone else paying attention or the waiter/waitress noticing he wasn't old enough to be drinking. So the server brought back everyone's drinks and before handing young David his beer, finally took note that he wasn't old enough to drink it. So from that day forth, he has been known as Bud. So there you go.

Good luck with the O's, Bud! You're the first Oriole that I'm aware of who is named after a beer, so regardless of how your time goes in Baltimore, you will always have that!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oriole #959- Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez

Slowly, very slowly, I'm making my way through the list of players who have recently made their Orioles debuts. Up today is K-Rod.

Francisco Rodriguez, Oriole #959, Debuted July 25 against Royals

The Orioles swung a trade with the Brewers to add this four-time All-Star to their bullpen for the stretch run. The Birds traded away Nicky Delmonico, their #5 prospect, and 2011 6th round draft pick, to pry K-Rod away from the Brew Crew, so I certainly hope that he does something over the course of the last two months of the season to make the deal worthwhile for the O's. 

Things started out on the wrong foot for K-Rod and the Orioles as he gave up four home runs in his first four appearances for the team. Luckily, his five appearances since then have been free of homers, or any runs at all, and he has struck out nine while only giving up two hits.

After Jim Johnson's recent stretch of being absolutely horrible (did you know that he has blown 7 of 15 one run save chances this year?), it's entirely possible that K-Rod just might be the Orioles closer at least in the near future, if not for the remainder of the year. Since he was the Brewers closer before being traded, was 10-10 in saves this year, and has 304 career saves, I think he could do the job. Another thing to chew on is that K-Rod's 40 strikeouts on the year are just one fewer than Johnson's 41, in just over half the innings pitched. 

Good luck in Baltimore K-Rod! Oh, and it would be nice if the next time it's only me and one other person asking for your autograph, you might oblige us. It would certainly help a brotha out!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oriole #958- Henry Urrutia

Last week, I began the process of catching up on recent Orioles debuts, but at this point, I'm almost further behind than when I began due to Bud Norris's debut. But I'm going to try to keep up with the ever-changing Orioles! Up today is Cuban rookie, Henry Urrutia.

Henry Urrutia #958, Debuted July 20 against Rangers

Henry's back-story is rather interesting as he was a star baseball player in Cuba, but I think we all know that Cubans are not allowed to leave their country to play baseball in the U.S.. So to pursue his dream of playing in the Major Leagues, he defected to Haiti in summer 2011 and the Orioles signed him to a contract. However, he ran into some issues establishing residency in Haiti and/or obtaining his visa to enter America, and was stuck in Haiti through most or all of 2012. (Disclaimer- I'm not familiar with how residency is established or the US Visa process.)

He finally obtained his visa and was able to join the Orioles at their minor league complex for Spring Training 2013. Unfortunately, he suffered some sort of injury that further delayed his progress, but he was around the team and kind enough to sign some autographs for me, on what were his only baseball cards at the time, my dad's old man cards.

Well, Henry got himself healthy quickly enough, and joined AA Bowie to start the 2013 season. Over 52 games with the Baysox, he hit .365 with 7 homers and 16 doubles before he was promoted to AAA Norfolk with much of the same success, hitting .367 over 15 games. He had shown enough to earn the promotion to Baltimore, and to date has appeared in 14 games and hit .279 over 43 at-bats. He has mainly served as the DH thus far in his Orioles career, and I believe the team would like him to work on his defense and base-running. But his bat seems to be the tool that will likely keep him at the MLB level, though he seems like more of a slap hitter than a power guy for now.

I wish Henry the best of luck with his Orioles career! He certainly surmounted many challenges to reach baseball's top level.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Oriole # 957- Jairo Asencio

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm in the process of trying to catch up on the Orioles who have debuted over the past month. Up next is Jairo Asencio, who was traded to the organization from the Brewers late in Spring Training 2013, of course after my autograph trip was already over, so I didn't have an autograph of his waiting to slide into my collection.

Jairo Asencio #957, Debuted July 12 against Blue Jays

OK, I will start with the most obvious question about this card/autograph that pictures someone named Luis Valdez. You might ask, what does this have to do with Jairo Asencio? Well, since Jairo is a relatively fringe MLB player, let me ask if you are familiar with the Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez fake name/age situation? If so, then just know that the same situation occurred here. If you still don't know what I'm talking about, here is a quick rundown.

In recent years, a number of baseball players from the Caribbean Islands (specifically the Dominican Republic) have signed contracts under fake names, generally to seem younger than they actually are to increase the bonus money they receive when they signed with an MLB organization. Well, MLB teams were being duped out of money with these deceptions, and the US Government doesn't generally approve of people entering America with falsified documentation. So there has been a crackdown on this in recent years, and while it still occurs, most of the offenders are generally found out at some point along the way.

So, essentially, Luis Valdez = Jairo Asencio.

"Luis" made his MLB debut in 2009 for the Braves before MLB discovered his name discrepancy in 2010. He missed the entire 2010 season as he got his paperwork straightened out, and has pitched under his actual name since 2011 for the Braves, Indians, Cubs, and now, Orioles.

Since this is an autograph blog, my interest in all this (and presumably yours as well) centers around Luis/Jairo's autograph. Assuming that both of these signatures are authentic, it seems like regardless of the name he doesn't have much going in terms of penmanship. The Valdez card up top is on its way to my collection while this Asencio signed photo is available on ebay.

It's honestly hard to say if he is more used to signing his name as Valdez or Asencio but from my standpoint, the Valdez signature seems more fluid, though it's hard to say when this Braves photo was signed. It could have been recently after his return to being Jairo, who knows? I hope to someday soon, have my own in-person autograph of his to add some additional insight to this discussion. I'm also a bit torn about whether having an autograph of "Luis" should be considered the same as having an autograph of Jairo, but I've come to the conclusion that if he signed it, I will include it in my collection, regardless of the name listed. 

But for now, Jairo is once again pitching for AAA Norfolk, after four appearances and a 7.71 ERA over his two week stint with the Orioles. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Oriole #956- Scott Feldman

Since I wrote my last Orioles debut post about Travis Ishikawa back in late June, five more players have made their Orioles debuts, three of whom were acquired in deals leading up to the trade deadline. Let me tell you, as a long-time O's fan, it's still feels strange to be on the receiving end of these types of trades. I'm much more used to the days when the team would ship out most of it's veterans at the end of July. Over the coming days, I'm going to write about each of the new players. 

 Scott Feldman Oriole #956, Debuted July 3 against White Sox

Back on July 2nd, the Orioles traded with the Cubs to acquire Feldman, and minor league catcher Steve Clevenger, in return for the long-struggling duo of Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. I feel like it was a smart idea to strike a deal before the starting pitcher trade market took shape and honestly, I don't feel like the O's had to give up very much to get Feldman. While both Arrieta and Strop have plenty of potential, they certainly weren't living up to it in Baltimore. 

Jake was one of the players I watched rise through the Orioles minor league system and I had high hopes for him, but he never seemed able to stay on top of the mental part of the game at the MLB level as attested to by his 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts) with the Orioles. And Strop was a nice guy who always seemed to have a smile on his face, but had become a relatively unusable member (7.25 ERA) of the 2013 'pen.

Over 5 starts thus far with the O's, Feldman has a 2-2 record and a 5.12 ERA, so I would like to see him step it up a bit, but I still feel like the move was an overall upgrade for the team. 

I'm aware that the logo is pictured on the card above, but it is the autograph of Feldman's that is in my collection for now, I just have not had the time to scan the card since it arrived at my house. There are a few certified autographs of Feldman out there, so his autograph is a relatively easy one to add to your Orioles autograph collection. 

And I know that this is small sample size, but in my first in-person autographing attempt to have Feldman sign one of my dad's Old Man Cards this past Sunday, he completely ignored the relatively small group of fans who were trying to get his autograph. I hope to have some better luck with him on my next attempt!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Adios L.J.

One of Kalina's favorite Orioles was traded today, as L.J. Hoes, minor league lefty Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance draft pick were sent to the Houston Astros for starting pitcher Bud Norris. The Hoes for Bud jokes on Twitter right now are rampant.

L.J. only played in two games for the Orioles, but we saw him play many times in the minor leagues at both Frederick and Bowie, and it kind of felt like he had been around for a long time. Both Hoes and Hader are local guys who the Orioles drafted and developed and that makes it a little harder to see them go, but if it makes the team better this year, I'm all for it.

L.J. always seemed like a nice guy, which was the main reason that Kalina liked him, so good luck in Houston, L.J.!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unpossible Autograph- Drungo Hazewood

After another extended absence from this blog, I'm back once again. And it's always a sad day when I hear that another former Oriole has passed away, but it's especially true when they were still relatively young as was the case with Drungo Hazewood, who passed away at just 53. 

Russell, a fellow Orioles autograph collector, and long time collecting friend of mine, sent me an email about Drungo's passing early yesterday, and it looks like Drungo passed away sometime on Sunday. (This write-up/obituary from the Sacramento Bee does a great job covering Drungo's life.)

In Orioles autograph lore, Drungo had retained the title of being one of the toughest autographs to track down for many years until Chris Potter, a local autograph signing facilitator, tracked him down for a signing late last year. I have no idea if Chris knew that Drungo was sick and fighting the effects of cancer, but it will likely remain the only large-scale signing that Drungo ever did in his lifetime. The Bee article touches on this, but it seems like Drungo just didn't know why or how so many people wanted his autograph since his MLB career lasted all of 6 games, so he didn't sign TTM and remained obscure enough to stay off the radar of many larger autograph promoters.

I've written about my experiences with tracking down his autograph a few times (here and here), as it was quite an adventure, and I feel very lucky to own two of his signed cards. Now that he has sadly passed away, and even though he participated in that single signing, I have a feeling that his autograph will remain one of the toughest to track down for future generations of Orioles autograph collectors.

RIP Drungo.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oriole #955, Travis Ishikawa

Since I'm late to the party yet again (which has become a regretfully typical issue around here lately), I imagine that most of you that care about this sort of thing are aware of the fact that the Orioles added 1B Travis Ishikawa to their active roster last week. It was a bit of a forced issue, as he had a June 15 opt-out deal in his minor league contract, and had just been named the AAA International League Player of the Month in May for having had an amazing month at the plate. Oh, and apparently the Yankees would have signed him if the O's let him walk away. So that combination of events led to the Orioles adding him to their 25 man roste, and he made his Orioles debut on Tuesday, June 18 against the Tigers. He is officially the 955th player to appear in a game for the Orioles and the 13th player to make his Baltimore debut this season. 

Once again, the awesome combination of my dad's Old Man Cards and my Spring Training trip has come through for me, and I already have a signed, personalized Orioles card of Travis to insert directly into my collection. Travis was a good signer in Sarasota, as I saw him signing multiple times and actually ran out of his cards to be signed, which I suppose is a good problem to have.

Something tells me that Travis's stay in Birdland will likely be a short one, mainly because the Orioles have another left-handed first baseman who is having a pretty good year. But he will always be Oriole #955.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Filling Some Holes

There have already been twelve players who have made their Orioles debuts so far this year, and I did not have autographs of six of those guys; each of whom knocked me further and further away from the 100% of total signatures from the Orioles all-time roster I had achieved in the off-season. And that made me mad(ish). So I took action and knocked off certified signatures from four of the six I needed. (As far as I can tell, there are no certified Josh Stinson autographs out there, and I have yet to acquire one of Alex Burnett.) 

While I have custom Old Man Cards ready to be signed of all four of these guys, I figured that I would rather go ahead and knock them off my list for now, since my autograph time has been drastically reduced, at least to this point in the season. Hopefully these four will end up on my trade list one day, but if not, at least I'm covered. Oh, and they were all to be had on the cheap, which works out perfectly for me!

Chris Snyder #948

Freddy Garcia #949

Yamaico Navarro #951

Danny Valencia #953

 I have trades and/or consignments out for Stinson and Burnett, so hopefully I can knock them off my need list in the near future to get back to my cherished 100%. Now if only the Orioles would cooperate and slow it down with the debuts already. How is a collector to keep up?!?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Check Out the Contest at Autographed Cards

Hey, look at me, a second post in June. Wow, I'm really rolling now! This will be a short post, but I suppose that's still better than no post at all.

Anyway, my buddy Zach, who writes the excellent blog, Autographed Cards, is holding his annual College World Series contest. Now, if you haven't already entered, you missed the preliminary round and the chance to get some bonus points. But, not to worry, I missed out on that as well, and everyone still has a chance to win, so head on over there and give it a shot.

Zach has given away some excellent prizes over the years, such as this autographed card of (now-deceased) Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew,that I won three or four years back. 

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Orioles #951-954, Navarro, Jurrjens, Valencia, & Gausman

Hello there. You remember me? I'm the guy who used to blog almost daily about Orioles autographs. Nowadays, it's like a once a month thing, but hopefully I will get better. I won't promise to get back to my nearly daily posting level, but I can do better than once a month. And man, 2013 is taking my collection backwards so far.

Luckily, I had autographs of two of this group of four new O's, but I'm still slowly slipping away from the 100% of Orioles autographs that I achieved in the offseason. I have a few things in motion to add a couple other of these guys to my collection too, so hopefully I can keep 100% within striking distance.

Yamaico Navarro #951, Debuted May 17 against Rays

Yamaico had been recalled to the team earlier in the year to fill a roster spot for a day but did not appear in a game until he was brought back to the team for a second time in mid-May. At the time of his debut, he took over the everyday 2B duties from Ryan Flaherty, who was sent to AAA to straighten some things out. He was the second baseman for a majority of the team's games between his debut and May 28th. He hit .286 over eight games, which isn't spectacular but was impressive when stacked up to the O's other 2B this season, but his defense was spotty, and he was sent back to AAA to make room for Flaherty's return to the club.

Jair Jurrjens #952, Debuted May 18 against Rays

Jurrjens was one of the Orioles bigger off-season signings, but some lingering injury issues changed his deal from a major league to a minor league contract and he began the season at AAA Norfolk. He had a mid-June opt-out date in his contract, but as I understand it, since he was called up, albeit briefly, that opt-out is no longer in play.

He was called up to start against the Rays on Saturday, May 18th, and he pitched five innings, gave up six hits, four earned runs, and struck out five. He did not get a decision in the game, but I don't think that Buck Showalter liked how Jurrjens let the Rays claw their way back into the game after the O's gave him a four run lead in the first inning. Thus far, that was Jair's only action for the O's, although I fairly well expect to see him again at some point this summer.

Jair kindly signed and personalized my card for me on my Spring Training trip, and from what I saw, it seems like he is a good signer. He has quite an interesting signature, that I would describe as somewhat looking like a dollar sign.

Danny Valencia #953, Debuted May 19 against Rays

Danny marked the Orioles third debut in their three game series against the Rays. Thankfully, they won't sustain that rate, otherwise, I'd be chasing 162 new autographs each year, and I think that would drive me away from this crazy collection.

Valencia has been one of the more pleasant surprises so far this season for the O's, and has hit 3 home runs through just 9 games, appearing solely as a DH or pinch-hitter.

Kevin Gausman, Oriole #954, Debuted May 23 @ Toronto

Gausman made his highly anticipated MLB debut against the Blue Jays, and I don't think it was a coincidence that his first two career starts were both on the road to somewhat lower the excitement level that the hometown fans would have brought to the Yard. He has had some ups and downs over his first three starts, and currently has an 0-2 record with a 7.20 ERA, but his most recent start, and first at home, against the high-octane Tigers offense was his most successful thus far, and he gave up just one earned run over six strong innings. He even earned a few nods of approval during at-bats from the reigning A.L. MVP and Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera. And that's got to say something.

Kevin will likely stay in the starting rotation if he can continue to show improvement, and many people think that he could be the Orioles best starter by the end of the season.

So at least I had autographs of two out of these four new Orioles, but it still leaves two more names to add to my need list. And I would say that out of all the players who were with the O's during Spring Training, Navarro and Valencia were two of maybe four or five (out of 50ish) players whose autographs I did not get at all. And it figures that both of them would make the big league club, and early in the season at that.

Hopefully, it won't be another month until my next post, but time will tell!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Orioles #947-950

Time to play catch-up. I've obviously not been too active with posting, but I still intend to blog as often as possible. Today I will cover the four most recent Orioles debuts.

 Zach Clark- Orioles #947, debuted May 1st @ Seattle

Zach's story is a pretty cool one, and I wrote a pretty extensive post about it back in November. He finally made his MLB debut at age 29 after seven seasons in the O's minor leagues. Unfortunately, things didn't go very well and he gave up 3 earned runs over 1.2 IP while walking 2 and striking out 1. He was designated for assignment after his debut and is back pitching for AA Bowie, and apparently working on a knuckleball with HOFer Phil Niekro. 

Chris Snyder- Oriole #948- debuted May 3rd @ Angels

Snyder starts an unfortunate streak of new Orioles whose autographs I do not currently have. These guys were all added to the organization after my Spring Training trip, so I've had very few chances to get them to sign anything for me. Chris is serving as the O's backup catcher while Taylor Teagarden is on the DL.

Freddy Garcia- Oriole #949- debuted May 4th @ Angels

Freddy is currently the O's fifth starter, and is the first guy to have any sort of success this season in that role. He is 0-1 with a respectable 4.26 ERA through two starts, and will likely remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. 

Alex Burnett- Oriole #950- debuted May 9th vs Royals

I was at Alex's debut, and he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one. It was his second call-up to the O's and it seems like he might get a lot of travel time between AAA Norfolk and Baltimore this year. 

This is a bit premature, but today the Orioles recalled relief pitcher Mike Belfiore to the team, so when/if he gets into a game, he would become Oriole #951. And I do actually have some signed cards of his, so I would happily be able to add him to my have list. Enough of this adding players to my need list. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Oriole #946- Josh Stinson

Wow, has it really been over a week since my last post? My bad! But better late than never right?

Anyway, the most recent player to make his O's debut is a rather unexpected one. Right-handed starting pitcher Josh Stinson was called up to make a spot start against the Blue Jays, last Wednesday afternoon, April 24th. Things didn't exactly go well, although he did last 5.2 innings, he gave up 5 runs, and became the first pitcher to give up four homers in their first start for the Orioles. He was sent back to AAA Norfolk immediately after the game.

While Wednesday's start was Josh's debut for the Orioles, he has had some Major League experience over the past few seasons. He pitched in fourteen games for the 2011 Mets, and another six for the Brewers last season. Especially since he is already on the O's 40-man roster, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him again at some point this year.

Josh has the distinct honor of being the first player to debut for the Orioles this year whose autograph I did not already have, and his debut marks the first time I've needed an autograph to re-complete my collection in  six months. So thanks a million, Josh. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I know that Josh won't be the last player whose autograph I need to track down this season, but it's always mildly discouraging to add names to my need list.

And it sounds like that list might get twice as long after the Orioles traded for catcher Chris Snyder earlier today too. C'est la vie!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The 2013 Orioles Walk-Up Song Project

Since I've enjoyed doing this the past two years (2012, 2011), I am once again going to try to keep track of the songs that the Orioles players use as their walk-up/warm-up music. I really stayed on top of the songs in 2011, and updated the list six times throughout the year. Last year, I only wrote the one, original post, but the funny thing is that I continued to take notes on the songs used throughout the season, and then just never got around to writing posts about the updates.

Since this list is something that changes any time a player is added to the roster, or they want to change things around, the list is fluid, but here is what I have at this point in the season. The Orioles website also has a list up, but some of the players shown are at AAA Norfolk, so I can't say how accurate it might be right now. I know that at least the song the O's list for Adam Jones seems to be incorrect at this point, so I'm only going with my in-person observations.

I will make a note if a returning player is using the same song they had at the end of 2012.  And if anyone has any information to add or update from what's listed below, please let me know!

Note-some links might contain explicit lyrics, if you're offended by that sort of thing.

Jake Arrieta- 
Luis Ayala- 
Alexi Casilla- stock music
Wei-Yin Chen"Just A Dream" Nelly (2012)
Chris Dickerson- 
Ryan Flaherty"Wild Rover" Dropkick Murphys (O's/S)
Chris Davis- "The Moment We Come Alive" Red
Ryan Flaherty"Wild Rover" Dropkick Murphys (2012)
Miguel Gonzalez- 
J.J. Hardy- "Flower" Moby (2012)
Jason Hammel"Panic Switch" Silversun Pickups (2012)
Tommy Hunter- "That's All She Wrote" T.I. ft. Eminem
Jim Johnson"The Pretender"  Foo Fighters (2012)
Manny Machado- 
Nick Markakis"Deliverance" Bubba Sparxx (2012, & 2011 I think)
Brian Matusz- 
T.J. McFarland- 
Nate McLouth- "Kyrie" Mr. Mister (2012)
Darren O'Day- "Thickfreakness" The Black Keys (2012)
Adam Jones- "Bugatti" Ace Hood ft. Future & Rick Ross
Troy Patton-"Glitter" Ghostland Observatory (2012)
Steve Pearce- 
Nolan Reimold- "Wolfpack Theme Music" NWO (seems to be a wrestling thing) (2012)
Brian Roberts- 
Pedro Strop"Ponte Tu Chaleco" Secreto El Biberon (2012)
Taylor Teagarden- 

Chris Tillman"Kick It In the Sticks" Brantley Gilbert (2012 & 2011)

Matt Wieters"Barefoot Blue Jean Night"  Jake Owen (2012)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Training Personalized Upgrades

While I've continued to hope that my posting here will get back to the 5-6 days a week level it was once at, it's becoming more and more evident that 1-3 days a week is going to be the norm. I've just had less free time, mainly due to different hours at work, so it is what it is. I have no plans to completely shut things down, so I'll continue to limp along for the time being. But don't worry, I'll still be giving you your occasional Orioles autograph fix!

Up today are a number of the personalized autographs that I was able to get on my Spring Training trip. Many of these guys are current or recent Orioles, but a few of the coaches played for the team many years back. I'm currently on a push to "upgrade" as many of the autographs in my collection as possible to include personalized inscriptions. I've always enjoyed the added touch and since I'm luckily still sitting at 100% for my collection, I have a little bit of freedom to work within the collection for the time being.

My favorite cards that I got signed on my trip were the "Old Man Cards", the cards that my dad custom made for me of many of the Orioles players who have never and/or will never receive O's cards in a major release.  You'll see a number of his cards below. Thanks again dad!

For what it's worth, both Exposito and Teagarden are surprisingly hard autographs to get (maybe it's a catcher thing?!?), while Ryan Flaherty was the best signer I saw amongst the current Major League guys.