Friday, April 6, 2012
Who is this? Detroit Tigers Centerfielder Austin Jackson
What is this? An autograph card from 2008 TriSTAR PROjections
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Austin Jackson when he was a member of the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees in 2009.
How much did it cost? I got the card when I bought a set of 2008 TriSTAR PROjections.
Why is this so special? Austin Jackson has emerged as one of the top young players in Major League Baseball. As a rookie in 2010, Jackson hit .293 and was second in the American League with 10 triples. In his second season in 2011, Jackson continued to show that he belonged in the Majors, hitting .249 and leading the American League with 11 triples.
At the time that I got this card signed, Jackson was the New York Yankees Top Prospect and was on his way to winning the 2009 International League Rookie of the Year Award. After that season, Jackson was sent to Detroit as part of the trade that brought Curtis Granderson to New York.
Jackson is off to a hot start in 2012. On Opening Day, Jackson hit a walk-off single that drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth-inning to defeat the Boston Red Sox.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Who is this? Pitcher Kevin Millwood.
What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps Update.
Where'd I get it? I got this signed by Kevin when he was a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox last Spring. Although he never ended up joining the Boston Red Sox, he was very gracious and friendly to all of the fans in Pawtucket.
How much did it cost? Not much.
Why is this so special? Kevin Millwood will be best remembered for his tenure with the Atlanta Braves from 1997 until 2002 when he was a part of the Braves rotation that also included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine. In 1999, Millwood won 18 games, was named to his only All-Star game, and came in third in the National League Cy Young voting.
Before the 2003 season, Millwood was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies and wasted little time before making an impact. On April 27, 2003, Millwood threw a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants. Since then, Millwood has spent time with the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and Colorado Rockies in the Major Leagues and pitched for Minor League affiliates of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox in 2011.
This season, Millwood (who will be 37 on Opening Day) is attempting to win a spot in the Seattle Mariners starting rotation.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Who is this? Chicago Bears Safety Brandon Meriweather.
What is this? An autograph card from 2007 Topps Draft Picks and Prospects Senior Standouts Senior Bowl Jersey Card.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Brandon at Patriots' Training Camp in 2008.
How much did it cost? I got two copies of this card for like $5 a few years ago.
Why is this so special? If you wanted to make the case that the Pro Bowl is a farse and a fraud in the modern NFL, your first piece of evidence might be the that Brandon Meriweather is a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2009 and 2010) despite the fact that most people consider him a "bust."
Meriweather was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first-round (24th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami (FL). In four-seasons with the New England Patriots, Meriweather never misssed a game, intercepted twelve passes, and force five fumbles. However, despite solid statistics and two Pro Bowls, Meriweather never really fit into the Patriots' defensive scheme and was cut by New England at the end of the Pre-Season in 2011.
While cutting Meriweather after a Pro Bowl season may seem odd, it came as no surprise to those following the Patriots. Meriweather quickly signed with the Chicago Bears, but did little to prove that the Patriots were wrong to part-ways with him. In fact, Meriweather only played in 11 games (4 starts) for the Bears in 2011, with no interceptions, sacks, or forced fumbles.
Nonetheless, Meriweather seemed like a cool enough guy the few times that I met him. He was very interested in the 2007 DPP Senior Bowl Game-Used Jersey card when I gave it to him to sign it, and actually asked if I had made the card myself.
Here are two other cards that Meriweather signed for me:
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Who is this? Rice Sophomore Pitcher John Simms
What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps Team USA Box set.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by John before a Falmouth Commodore v. Wareham Gatemen Cape Cod Baseball League game last summer.
How much did it cost? I bought two 2010 Topps Team USA sets last year for about $15.00.
Why is this so special? John Simms has the potential to become a top prospect for the 2013 MLB Draft. In his first year at Rice, Simms earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team Honors and was named National Pitcher of the Week on April 19 after he struck out 11 batters in in 7.2 innings to lead Rice to a 2-0 victory over #5 Texas A&M on April 12 and then came out of the bullpen just five days later to pitch 1.2 scoreless innings to help Owls defeat Tulane on April 17.
That spectacular regular season might have been enough for most freshman, but not for Simms. After Rice's season ended, Simms headed east to pitch for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Most Cape League hitters would have preferred that Simms stayed at home, as he did not allow a single earned run all summer in 24.2 innings pitched!
Before attending Rice, Simms pitched for College Park High School in The Woodlands, California (a baseball prospect factory) and also pitched for the Team USA 18 and Under squad in the summer of 2010. He was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the Thirty-Ninth Round of the 2010 MLB Draft, but turned down the chance to go pro in favor of Rice.
Simms was nice enough to also sign this 2010 Bowman Chrome Team USA 18U card for me:
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Who is this? Former Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns Running Back Jamal Lewis.
What is this? An autograph card from 2000 Sage.
Where'd I get it? I got it at the Mansfield Holiday Inn Card Show on January 29, 2012.
How much did it cost? $1.50 (That's right, One-dollar and fifty-cents!)
Why is this so special? Jamal Lewis was drafted in the first-round (5th overall) by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2000 NFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee and played nine seasons (he missed the entire 2001 season) in the NFL and when he retired he was ranked #21 All-Time in career rushing yards with 10,607.
As a rookie, Lewis was the Ravens starting running back on their Super Bowl XXXV winning team. In the Ravens victory over the Giants, Lewis became only the second rookie to rush for over one-hundred yards and the youngest player to ever score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.
Lewis' best season was in 2003, when he rushed for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns. At the time, Lewis was one of only five running backs to ever rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. The highlight of the season was when Lewis set a new NFL record for rushing yards in a single game when he ran for 295 yards against the Cleveland Browns on September 14, 2003. At the end of the season, Lewis was named the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, AFC Player of the Year, and was named to the All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams. (Suprisingly, 2003 was his only Pro Bowl season.)
Before the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl, it was announced that Jamal Lewis was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Second-Team.
To be honest, I was shocked to see this Jamal Lewis 2000 Sage Autograph rookie card in a $1.50 bargain box. I have found lots of great deals in bargain boxes over the years, but a rookie autograph of one of the best running backs of the 2000s for less than a pack of cards might be one of the best deals around.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Who is this? Former New England Patriots Defensive Lineman Ty Warren
What is this? An autograph card from 2003 Topps All-American Fabric of America.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Ty Warren at Patriots' Training Camp in 2003.
How much did it cost? I pulled this card from a blaster box of 2003 Topps All-American in 2003.
Why is this so special? Ty Warren was the Patriots first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M. Warren made an immediate impact, playing in every game his rookie season, including the Patriots' victory in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The next year, Warren became a starting defensive end on the Patriots' team that won Super Bowl XXXIX.
Although he did not become as popular as his fellow Patriots' defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork, Warren was a team leader and key piece of the Patriots' potent defenses. Warren was elected a team captain in 2007, earned All-Pro honors in 2007, and was named to the Patriots All-2000s Decade Team.
Regarded by coaches and teammates as a hard worker and a dedicated member of the community, Warren's career suffered a steep decline due to injuries beginning in 2009, when he missed most of five games because of injuries. The injury bug found Warren again in 2010, when a hip injury during training camp forced him to miss the entire season. After being released by the Patriots on July 29, 2011, Warren signed with the Denver Broncos, but missed his second consecutive season, this time with a tricepts injury.
Given his recent injury history, I think that it is fair to question whether or not Warren will ever again play in an NFL game. But, regardless of what happens in the future, Warren will always have a place as a fan favorite and productive member of the Patriots' 2000s Dynasty.
I was lucky enough to get Ty to sign at least one card almost every summer at Patriots Training Camp, but the signed 2003 Topps All-American Fabric of the America card is my favorite. Unlike some of the other cards that he signed, his signature is clear, easy to see, and well-placed on the Fabric of America card. In addition, I really like that the game-used jersey piece is from a painted part of the jersey and that you can see the white paint. Here are three more cards that Ty signed for me over the years:
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Who is this? Red Sox Minor League Outfielder Seth Schwindenhammer
What is this? An autograph card from 2009 TriSTAR Prospects Plus
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Seth at the 2011 New York-Penn League All-State Game in Lowell, MA in August.
How much did it cost? I got it when I bought a set of 2009 TriSTAR Prospects Plus.
Why is this so special? If he ever reaches the Major Leagues, Seth Schwindenhammer (15 letters) will break Jarrod Saltalamacchia's (14 letters) record for the longest last-name in the history of Major League Baseball. Fortunately for Salty, that record seems safe for at least a few years.
Seth Schwindenhammer was drafted in the Fifth-round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Limestone Community High School (IL) and given a $140,000 signing bonus. Since then, he has spent his first three professional seasons playing in the rookie Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues.
Seth's best season came in 2011, when he hit .213 with 9 homeruns for the Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox Short-Season affiliate. For that, he earned a spot on the New York-Penn League's American League All-Star team.
And while his statistics may not stand out, his last name has made quite a "name" for itself. In fact, Seth Schwindenhammer was a candidate in Milb.com's 2010 and 2011 Minors Moniker Maddness, a competition that allowed fans to choose their favorite player name in Minor League Baseball.