Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dylan Bundy's First Bobblehead

One of my most pleasant surprises from Orioles Fanfest came in the form of a bobblehead, that of the O's 2011 first-round draft pick, Dylan Bundy. As far as I'm aware, this is Bundy's first bobblehead, so that makes me like it even more (as if I need another reason to justify my love of bobbles).

The bobblehead is one of two (the other being Manny Machado) being given away by the Frederick Keys, the hi-A affiliate of the O's. As of now, the only way to get either bobble is to purchase some sort of season-ticket package from the team. Luckily, the lowest tier of being a season ticket holder is a booklet of ten tickets that can be used throughout the course of the season, and since Kalina and I attend approximately five Keys games, this worked out perfectly. I chose the Bundy over Machado because I don't think the Machado looks much like him, and, again, this is my first Bundy bobble. But if I get my way, I'll add the Machado bobble as well at some point down the road. 

The AA Bowie Baysox have run a very similar ticket + bobblehead promotion for the past 3-4 years, and that has become somewhat of a Christmas present tradition to me from my parents, so maybe this Keys promotion could join that moving forward. This also makes me think that I have yet to show off the Baysox 2013 bobble of Manny Machado, which really looks like him and is one of the better minor league bobbles I've seen. 

Here are a few more shots of the bobble, for your viewing pleasure.

I feel like I'd be remiss if also didn't mention that I love how Bundy is featured in an orange uniform too. As you probably know, I prefer when the O's and their affiliates rock the orange.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Chris Brock, Finally

In my experience collecting Orioles autographs, some of the more difficult autographs to obtain are of somewhat recent players who were featured on a single card as an Oriole. When you are trying to get one specific card signed, it severely diminishes the chances that you will just happen across a signed copy of that card. It's not particularly difficult to find some sort of autograph of this type of player, but finding that signed Orioles card can be nearly impossible at times. 

Until recently, such was the case with Chris Brock, who is featured as an Oriole on just one card, itself in a relatively obscure set, 2002 Upper Deck 40-Man. In fact, this is the only card that pictured Chris with a MLB team, although he was also included in some relatively plentiful minor league sets. 

Well, I did some internet sleuthing, and was lucky enough to track down Chris online through his current semi-pro team. The team put me in touch with the man himself, and he was kind enough to get back to me with his address. He signed, and personalized, his one and only Orioles card for me. Unfortunately, the marker he was using had pretty well faded by the time he got to his signature, but after searching for a signed copy of this card for about five years, I'm not gonna complain.

Thanks for taking the time to sign for me Chris!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Orioles Fanfest Success

This past Saturday, I continued my tradition of attending the annual Orioles Fanfest with my wife and parents. Amongst all of the craziness involved in moving, it was a nice reprieve from the stress of constantly packing and unpacking boxes. I'm sure that most of you know what I'm talking about! And before I get any further into this post, I have to thank my parents and Kalina for allowing me to drag them around the event all day as well as helping me to stand in lines to get through the stations faster. I really appreciate your help!

While I know that some people had issues purchasing the specific autograph tickets they had wanted, I lucked out, and was able to buy the three sessions I was interested in, with a little help from my wonderful wife. 

I purchased the 2 pm session at station 2 with Mike Bordick, Jason Hammel, and Nate McLouth, which allowed me to upgrade my Bordick to a personalized signature,

get my dad's home-made McLouth Orioles card signed, which is, to date, the only card that pictures him in an Orioles uniform, 

as well as sign his orange uniform 2012 Norfolk Tides card, 

and to get Jason Hammel to sign his first official Orioles card, which came out in the 2012 Topps Update set  after the season ended. Getting some of the new Orioles to sign their cards from that set is going to be a recurring theme here. 

Hammel, who was seated next to Bordick commented that he didn't think Bordick couldn't jump as high as he is pictured as doing on the card at the top to which Bordick replied that the picture had been taken fifteen years ago and there's no way that he could do that anymore. 

My next two stations were both at 3:20, so I obviously had to have some help from my parents to be able to be in two places at once. 

Since one of my 3:20 stations was again at #2, where I had just been, I started there. This station was going to allow me to knock out Luis Ayala & Pedro Strop on their 12 Topps Update cards, and to hopefully have Jim Palmer personalize a card to me. But shortly before the signing was supposed to start, an Orioles employee pulled Ayala's name plaque from the table and replaced it with Ryan Flaherty. WTF? There goes my paid shot at Ayala, who another fan later told me apparently never showed up for the event at all for some unknown reason.

Things started off well with Pedro Strop who was kind enough to work past a bit of a language barrier to personalize my card, 

and I was just able to get in my quick personalization request to Palmer in between stories he was telling to the people ahead of and behind me in line, 

and while it was nice to get Flaherty to personalize a card to me, especially since we share the same first name and I always enjoy seeing how other Ryan's sign our name, it still didn't quite make up for Ayala's unexplained absence. It would have been nice for the line to at least get some sort of explanation as to why he wasn't there.

Tangent- I used some new, slightly wider 'medium' sized Staedtler markers during Fanfest. I used the 'fine' version last season, and while the results were good, I prefer the slightly larger lines. I found a pretty good website ( to buy them from online since I have had trouble finding them in person. This Flaherty card was the only one that showed any signs of bubbling.

Last up was station #1, also at 3:20, which included Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado, Ryan Minor, and Darren O'Day. Apparently the 250 tickets available for this session sold out in minutes, and I have a feeling that I might have been the only person to go after this one chiefly for O'Day. But it also allowed me to get a few upgrades, so there were multiple benefits for me in this one. Too bad the handlers at this station were enforcing a strict one signature per player limit. 

Gausman, the Orioles #1 draft pick in 2012, led off the station, and he seems like a pretty down-to-earth kid considering the amount of success and fame he's experienced in his young life. I was happy to get him to personalize his first official Orioles card, so I am covered when he inevitably makes his O's debut in the near future. 

I also was able to snag one of his postcards, which I really like as it shows his excitement during his Camden Yards introduction last year. 

Next up was Machado, who signed and personalized this great looking orange uniform/cartoon bird cap combo card.

 I was also able to grab a postcard showing Manny manning the hot corner at Camden Yards.

Ryan Minor filled the alumni role at this table and while he has signed cards for me in the past and has always been very accommodating about it, I always neglected to request a personalization. And same thing as with Flaherty, it's interesting to see another Ryan write my name. I will say that Minor's printed and signed R's look much different while Flaherty's were more similar.

Last up was the player who was the reason I had targeted this specific station, Darren O'Day, who was making his sole signing appearance of the day. He seemed either a bit distracted or annoyed but was still nice enough to add my name to his signature, and allowed me to knock out one more '12 Topps Update card.

All in all, the day was a great success, and I even got a few extra cards signed. The four below are all up for trade if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Remembering Earl

I know that I'm very late on this post, and that Earl passed away nearly five days ago, but I feel like I needed to write something about the passing of the greatest manager in Orioles' history. I guess late is better than never, especially since I'm in the middle of moving, and my time seems to be exceptionally limited in recent weeks. But Earl certainly deserves it. 

While I'm too young to have any in-person memories of watching Earl manage, I've seen the same videos and heard the same stories that many of you are likely familiar with, so I'm not going to rehash them here. But he was obviously quite a character and holds a very special place in Baltimore and with the Orioles.

I was lucky enough to have met Earl at least two times over the years. I got the '82 Donruss card signed at one of his paid appearances years back with my dad. And then I got this picture with him at another one of his Baltimore-area card show appearances a few years ago. From what I recall, I made a last-minute decision to attend the more recent card show, or I likely would have purchased an autograph ticket to have had Earl sign, and hopefully personalize, something for me, but I blew that opportunity, and won't have another shot at it. But he was still nice enough to pose for a picture with me.

I wish that I had a funny story to pass along about Earl, but since both of the times I had the chance to cross paths with him were at card show signings, our interactions were extremely brief, and chiefly consisted of pleasantries.

RIP to the "Earl of Baltimore". I'm extremely glad that you were still around to see your statue unveiled at Camden Yards last summer. Thanks for all of the memories, and the success that you brought to the Orioles franchise.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Analyzing the Orioles Players Included in 2013 Topps Series 1

A week or so ago, I was searching online for some information about the 2013 Topps Series 1 checklist, something I typically do at this time of year to see which new O's might be featured on their first official Orioles card. The 2012 Topps Update set included a virtual plethora of  O's first-timers, so I didn't know what to expect. Last year's Updates & Highlights set pictured Jason Hammel, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Matt Lindstrom, Darren O'Day, and Ronny Paulino all in orange and black for the first time on cardboard, which might be some sort of record or something. It's always nice to have new Orioles autographs to track down, but that is a lot in one set, especially considering that Paulino seemed to despise signing anything.

Originally in my search for the 2013 checklist, I wasn't able to find anything other than a list of 100 star players that Topps guaranteed would be in the set as part of their sales sheet. But then on Wednesday, when perusing some other blogs, I noticed that the final checklist was finally out. (Hat tip to Paul who writes Paul's Random Stuff, for drawing my attention to the official checklist posted on

I'm sure that some others out there can sympathize, but as a fan of a team that hasn't been particularly successful or exciting in recent years, Topps normally has mailed it in as far as which Orioles they include in the set. You could always count on Nick Markakis/Adam Jones/Brian Roberts/Jeremy Guthrie/Mark Reynolds, a few of the somewhat promising young pitchers (Arrieta, Britton, Matusz, Tillman, etc.), a prospect/young player or two, and then maybe one or two new or random players. While things aren't entirely different this year, I was somewhat surprised to see the list of Orioles in the set. Without further delay, here are the players included and my thoughts.

Adam Jones- of course
Tommy Hunter- surprising since he had been pictured as an O in '12 series 2, and ended the year in the 'pen after a stint in the minors
Dylan Bundy- a no brainer for Topps to get Bundy in this set, I would expect to see a ton of his cards in coming years
Mark Reynolds- bittersweet with his departure, but with the up-in-the-air contract status, an obvious pick
Chris Davis- as it should be for the slugger, after his inclusion in the '12 Heritage high set I was hoping he would get more base set love
Jake Arrieta- standard, if not entirely deserved, inclusion
Jim Johnson- absolutely deserved for the All-Star and one of the best closers in the Majors, didn't have many cards until last year
L.J. Hoes- prospect made his debut last year, and has been on the among top five O's prospects in recent seasons
Robert Andino- suspect inclusion of O's part-time 2B who is no longer an Oriole
Brian Matusz- see Jake Arrieta
Manny Machado- pretty much the same situation as Bundy, doubt Topps will issue many sets that don't include both from here on out
Luis Ayala- surprising since he was included in '12 Update set
Endy Chavez- WTF? Pretty clear he wasn't coming back for some time, and 4th OF didn't play much last year in any case
Team Card- Always nice to get signed if I'm not expecting a player to be at a game I attend

And there you have it. Not a single player featured for the first time as an Oriole, which was probably the most shocking part of this list for me. (And I won't get into the whole "official RC" discussion; Bundy, Hoes, and Machado have all been included in Major Release sets in recent years.) I'm excited to see new O's cards of Davis, Hunter and Ayala specifically, and really only surprised to see the inclusion of Endy Chavez.

However, I was expecting to see Nate McLouth and Miguel Gonzalez featured for the first time as Orioles, especially after last year's playoff run. And it's strange that both Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy were passed over, but you can't include everyone in every set. But, if it was up to me, I would have included Markakis, Hardy, McLouth, Gonzalez, and probably Wei-Yin Chen, Ryan Flaherty, and Wilson Betemit over the combination of Reynolds, Arrieta, Hoes, Andino, Matusz, Ayala, and Chavez. Those are just my thoughts, what are yours?

To wrap things up, I'm pretty excited to attend tomorrow's Orioles FanFest, it sounds like it's going to be crazy, but I was lucky enough to snag tickets for the autograph sessions that include Hammel, Strop, Ayala, and O'Day (among others) to get their 2012 Update cards signed. And due to Topps' selection of players to include in the 2013 set, I won't need to add any new guys to my want list, at least for now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thank You Bleacher Report

I don't often pay attention to the stats that detail readership information about my blog, and I think that most of my fellow bloggers are the same way. We don't write to become popular, but rather because it's what we want to do, and we are going to write about what we want to write, when we want to write it.

That being said, I doubt that there is more than one or two other bloggers who can say that they have NEVER glanced at their stats. I mean, if zero people ever read what I wrote, I think that might have discouraged me to the point of stopping this whole crazy endeavor. Luckily for me, at least a few people pay attention to what I write (some even on a regular basis!) so that provides me with the drive to write on days when I'm not feeling it.

Well, when I was looking at my stats the other days, specifically my traffic sources, I noticed that I had an abnormally large number of references from; if you click that link, it will take you to this page:

And if you click that "All rich in content" linked text, where do you think it takes you? You guessed it, right to this little blog here. Specifically this post about Marvelous Marv. Which is cool and all, being that bleacher report certainly has a much, much larger readership than my blog, and it brought many people to my site that would never have otherwise come across it.

So that not particularly well-written (and this honestly could be said about most of my writings) post has more than twice as many pageviews (5,330!) as anything else I've written over the past four years. And I have to thank bleacher report for that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wally Bunker

There are some players from Orioles history that I really feel like I should have covered by this point in my blogging, and Wally Bunker is certainly one of them.  He was a star rookie for the team in 1964 and was a key part of the Orioles 1966 World Series sweep of the Dodgers. But this is the very first mention of him on my site in almost four years of writing. I think that at least part of the delay was the fact that I knew I should have covered him sometime long ago, and the longer I didn't do it, the better I felt like the post should be; but don't expect anything great from me. After all that, I still don't have a lot to say about Wally.

The Orioles signed Bunker straight out of high school in 1963 and he joined the team later that same year, appearing in one game with the team when he was just 18 years old. He was dominant throughout 1964, his first full MLB season, and went 19-5 with a 2.69 ERA over 29 starts which earned him the Sporting News A.L. Rookie Pitcher of the Year award. He was so dominant that Baltimore'e mayor at the time officially christened the pitching mound at Memorial Stadium "Baltimore's Bunker Hill" with dirt from the actual Bunker Hill. Unfortunately, in a game late that season, Wally suffered an arm injury that he likened to being shot, which was never properly diagnosed and he was never able to repeat the success from his rookie campaign.

He continued to be at least an average big league pitcher over the next seven seasons. One highlight was the  shut out he pitched against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the '66 World Series, which was part of the 33 1/3 consecutive shutout innings that the Orioles pitching staff reeled off during the series. He also was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 1969 expansion draft and threw the first pitch in the history of the team.

By 1971, his arm injuries were too much for him to overcome and he threw his final big league pitch at just 26 years old. However in a few interviews that took place in more recent years, it sounds like Wally is very much at peace with how his career worked out. I think I can safely say that most of us would be satisfied having done what he did before he turned 27!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Ryan Freel

During the time that I took away from this blog around Christmas, I heard the very sad news that Ryan Freel had passed away. Then a day or so later, I read that he had committed suicide. It is always very sad to hear when something awful like this happens, and I don't honestly feel very qualified to say much about the situation other than comment on how tragic it is for his family. But I will try.

Freel was known for playing the game without regard to his own well-being, frequently crashing into walls and diving into the stands in pursuit of a ball. While this is an admirable, and at times, necessary, way to play in the Majors, it unfortunately also led to his having by his own estimation, nine or ten concussions over the course of his playing career. Now, I haven't heard of a direct connection between the concussions and his passing, but based on the amount of head trauma research being done about football players, I don't feel like it's too much of a stretch to theorize that they could have been at least a contributing factor in his decision to take his own life.

While I don't have many memories of Freel during the nine games he played in for the Orioles early in the 2009 season, the final image that O's fans have of him is of him lying on the ground at second base in Boston after being hit in the head with an errant pickoff throw while diving back to the bag, possibly causing one of those concussions.

Unfortunately, I also don't have any personal autograph memories from during his time with the O's since a friend got this card signed for me prior to the 2009 season at Orioles Fanfest.

RIP Ryan, you left way too soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nearing The End of My Orioles Autographs

I've alluded to this a time or two in some of my posts over the past few months, but I'm at the point where I have displayed a vast majority of my Orioles autographs. Since sharing, and writing about, those autographs was the reason I started this blog, you can see that I'm in a quandary about how to proceed with this little blog. Many of the autographs that are still in my "not-yet-posted" folders feature players that I frankly don't have much to say about. This could change as some new autographs join my collection and/or once I start to get in-person autographs during the season.

But for now, I'm left with many Midre Cummings-type players and autographs. Now, I don't mean anything personal against Midre or any of the other remaining players, but I just don't have much to say about them for one reason or another. Many of them put together solid MLB careers (Midre played in 11 seasons between 1993-2005) but I personally don't have much to add about them.

For example, I'm not a big fan of this logo-less Signature Rookies autograph, and Midre played in a mere 2 games for the O's in 2005. And that's all I have to say. Not very interesting right?

But not to worry, I will continue to post the remaining autographs that have yet to make an appearance here. I mean, I don't want any of the 942 men who have played for the O's to be short-changed after all. And I promise to keep my belly-achin' to a minimum in those posts. Nobody likes a whiner.

Also, Orioles FanFest is coming up in about a week and a half as well, so that will give me some fresh autographs to write about too. And then Spring Training and the regular season aren't all that far off, so even if my posting isn't as regular as it once was, I don't intend to entirely fade away. The Orioles debut enough new players each season to keep me busy with tracking down their autographs, if nothing else.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm Back?

After taking a few weeks away from the blog, and the computer overall, to celebrate the holidays with my family and friends, I've come back to to re-join the blogosphere. For the first time in a few years, I didn't get too many autograph or baseball card related presents for Christmas, at least in part because I don't currently have any autographs that are easy to find that I need. I did get a few packs of 2012 Topps Update, but that was about the extent of it, and I'm fine with that. I'm currently in the process of moving, and the sheer volume of baseball cards that I have to move has made me somewhat reconsider the amount of new cards I need, at least until I get rid of/sell/trade some of the cards that I'm not collecting for any real purpose. I'm sure that some of you have gone through similar issues. And it turns out that thousands of baseball cards and supplies are fairly heavy.

To commemorate my holiday break (and one of my good friends named Howard), here is an autographed card of former Orioles pitcher, Bruce Howard.

This post will hopefully mark my return to at least semi-regular posting! I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year's.