Who is this? Newark Bears outfielder Nook Logan What is this? An autographed card from the 2006 Topps Heritage set Where'd I get it? I got it signed before a Newark Bears game earlier this month How much did it cost? I'm not sure, but I'd guess around a quarter for the card. Why is this so special? Nook Logan spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Nationals. Speed, not power, was Logan's biggest asset. Unfortunately, Logan didn't get on base often enough to take full advantage of it.
Logan was named in the Mitchell report in December 2007, and hasn't played a game in the majors since. He spent time with the Long Island Ducks in 2008 before playing for the Bears this season.
Logan's autograph is just a quick "initials" version, since he signed my card while reaching over a rail & trying to hang onto his bats at the same time.
Who is this? St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa What is this? An autographed card from the 2010 Topps Heritage set Where'd I get it? I wrote to LaRussa just after the season started and asked him to sign it. It came back in yesterday's mail. How much did it cost? Around $1, including postage. Why is this so special? Tony LaRussa is not my favorite manager in baseball, but there's no denying his success or his influence on the game. He's managed for 32 seasons, won 5 pennants and 2 World Series trophies, and is closing in on 5,000 victories.
LaRussa, for better or worse, transformed the way managers use their bullpens. He will, without a doubt, be a Hall of Famer once he retires and becomes eligible.
LaRussa signature is surprisingly readable considering the volume of mail he must receive.
What is this? An autographed card from the 1973 Topps set
Where'd I get it? I got it signed before a doubleheader between the Newark Bears and Bridgeport Bluefish earlier this month.
How much did it cost? I think that I got the card in a quarter bin during the off-season. Why is this so special? Ellie Rodriguez was an original Kansas City Royal, a two-time American League All-Star and the catcher for Nolan Ryan's fourth no-hitter. Rodriguez is now a player development consultant for the Atlantic League.
I'm still trying to figure out what was going through the mind of the photo editor at Topps; this is one of the most unusual baseball cards in my collection. There are four men in the foreground of this card, and you can't see any of their faces clearly.
The signature looks a little compressed; I don't think Rodriguez wanted to sign over anything important on the card.
What is this? An autographed card from the 2008 Bowman set
Where'd I get it? I got it signed after a game between the Binghamton Mets and Trenton Thunder earlier this month
How much did it cost? I think the card cost a quarter.
Why is this so special? Luke Montz had a cup of coffee with the Washington Nationals in 2008, but he signed a minor league contract with the Mets organization at the beginning of this season. Montz was assigned to AA Binghamton, where he played in 17 games before getting hurt.
After the game, Montz stopped to sign autographs for the fans who asked him. I thanked him for signing my card, and he thanked me for asking him. That's something that happens maybe once every two or three years, if that often.
Montz has a legible signature, but it really doesn't look much like the facsimile autograph on his Bowman card.
What is this? An autographed card from the 2009 Binghamton Mets team set
Where'd I get it? Before a game between the Binghamton Mets and Trenton Thunder in Trenton earlier this month.
How much did it cost? I don't remember for sure, but I think the team set cost between $8-$10 last year.
Why is this so special? I missed seeing Owen's start in the Trenton series, which turned out to be his final one at the AA level. He pitched six shutout innings, limiting the Thunder to just one hit. Owen didn't get a win for his effort, since reliever Roy Merritt made an error that led to three unearned runs and the B-Mets weren't hitting that night, but he did make an impression.
When the Mets promoted R.A. Dickey to take Oliver Perez's spot in the major league rotation, Owen got the call to Buffalo. He's not considered a major prospect, but at age 23, Owen still has a chance to change people's minds.
Owen's autograph would be evil to use in a "Spot the Sig" type contest, since the first letter in his first name looks line an "R" and his last name almost looks like it starts with a "Ch"
The pink and teal jersey Owen is wearing on his baseball card seems to be a one-game-only promotional style. I know the B-Mets produced a few special jerseys last year, including a Star Trek-themed one that I would have loved to get a hold of, but I'm not sure what the pink and teal one represents. If any Binghamton fans happen to know, please share in the comments.
Who is this? Minnesota Twins pitcher Scott Baker What is this? An autographed card from the 2009 O-Pee-Chee set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Baker during spring training and asked him to sign it; I got it back earlier this month How much did it cost? Around $1 for the card and postage Why is this so special? Baker is the Minnesota Twins ace, yet even after a career-best 15-9 season he still took the time to sign autographs through the mail. Currently in his sixth season, Baker has a 47-37 career record with a 4.32 ERA.
Baker has a surprisingly nice signature for a modern player.
Who is this? Bridgeport Bluefish outfielder Danny Putnam What is this? An autographed card from the 2007 Bowman set Where'd I get it? Danny Putnam signed it for me after a doubleheader between the Newark Bears and Bridgeport Bluefish last week. How much did it cost? The card came out of a random pack of Bowman cards purchased in 2007 Why is this so special? Putnam had a cup of coffee with the Oakland Athletics in 2007, but now he's playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish. And he's not having a particularly good time of it -- through 25 games, he's hitting .173 with 1 home run and 9 RBI.
I saw him hit that home run -- it was a solo shot in a blowout. He almost had another one. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bluefish trailed the Bears 3-2 in the final inning. Armando Benitez came in to finish the game and struck out the first two Bluefish batters. Putnam came up and hit a fly ball down the left field line, where the fence is only about 300 feet from home plate. I thought it was gone and we had a tie game, but John-Ford Griffin was able to make the catch for the final out.
After the game, as he was heading back to the locker room, I took a chance and asked Putnam to sign my cards. He couldn't have been nicer, though he did joke that he'd only gotten 11 percent of that last pitch -- if he'd gotten 13 percent, it would have gone out.
Putnam has a nice signature that's fairly close to the facsimile signature on the card, though he signs "Danny" instead of "Daniel." The green Bowman cards work really well for the Athletics, but aren't so great for other teams.
More recently, Etchebarren was a coach on the Atlantic League's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs during their first two seasons. Last year, he took over as the manager of the York Revolution after Chris Hoiles stepped down mid-season.
Etchebarren's signature isn't too bad, but I've never seen anybody else write a capital "E" quite like that.
Who is this? Former Newark Bears middle infielder D'Angelo Jimenez.
What is this? An autograph card from the 2005 Topps set.
Where'd I get it? In person before a Bears game last season.
How much did it cost? The card cost around 50 cents.
Why is this so special? D'Angelo played 8 years in the major leagues, starting with the Yankees in 1999. Throughout his career, he played for 7 different big league teams; the Yankees, Padres, White Sox, Reds, Rangers, A's, and Nationals. He had a career batting average of .263, with 568 hits, 228 RBIs, and 36 home runs.
Last season was his first season in the Atlantic League. He played in 38 games for Newark, batting .326 while collecting 47 hits.
D'Angelo's signature used to be longer and more detailed, but it is understandable that he shortened it. He has probably signed thousands of autographs in his career. He has an interesting way of signing the D in his first name, but I like his signature because it's short and recognizable.
Why is this so special? R.A. Dickey will make his Mets debut in less than an hour, taking over Oliver Perez's roster spot. Dickey will be the first starting pitcher in Mets history who goes by initials, and he'll be one of a very few knuckleballers to take the hill for the Metrolpolitans.
Aside from a spring training appearance or two, I've only watched R.A. Dickey pitch once. That one game was a gem. After giving up a leadoff single, Dickey set a Buffalo Bisons record by setting down the next 27 batters in order. SNY really picked a great game to broadcast!
The Mets will be Dickey's fourth major league team. He made his debut with the Rangers in 2001. He also pitched for Seattle and Minnesota. He's got a 22-28 lifetime major league record with a 5.43 ERA.
I can't really make out any letters in the signature, but that's not exactly unusual with modern players.
Who is this? Washington Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis What is this? An autographed card fromthe 2009 Topps Update and Highlights set
Where'd I get it? I wrote to Marquis and asked him to sign it last month. I got it back a few weeks later. How much did it cost? About $1 for the card and postage Why is this so special? Jason Marquis signed a two-year, $15 contract with the Washington Nationals this off-season. I had wanted the Mets to sign the New York native to add some stability to their starting rotation, but they never showed any interest in doing so.
The Mets probably made the right call -- Marquis had surgery last week to remove bone chips from his elbow, and he won't be back until sometime after the All-Star break.
Marquis was an All-Star last season for the Colorado Rockies. He's played for five teams in an 11-year major league career that began with the Atlanta Braves in 2000. He has a 94-86 career record with a 4.57 ERA.
Marquis has an interesting signature, but I can only make out the "J" in his first name.
Who is this? Former St. Louis Cardinals catcher Todd Zeile
What is this? A signed card fromthe 1989 Fleer Update set
Where'd I get it? I found it in the dollar box at this month's card show How much did it cost? $1
Why is this so special? I'm hoping that I got a Todd Zeile autograph for a buck, but I really haven't had a chance to look into it yet. The signature on this card looks very similar to some that are for sale on eBay, and significantly different from others.
Zeile began and ended his 16-year major league career as a catcher, but he spent more time at third base than any other position. Zeile played for 11 different teams, but appeared in the most games for Cardinals.
He retired with a .265 batting average, 2004 hits, 253 home runs and 1110 RBI. Zeile ended his career in memorable fashion -- he hit a home run in his final at-bat
Who is this? Somerset Patriots outfielder Wayne Lydon.
What is this? An autograph card from the 2003 Topps Heritage set.
Where'd I get it? I got the card signed at last year's Atlantic League All-Star Game in Newark.
How much did it cost? The card probably cost around 50 cents.
Why is this so special? Lydon played his first seven seasons of professional baseball in the Mets organization starting in 1999, and then was traded to the Blue Jays, where he then played 4 years in their farm system. In 2002, Wayne stole 87 bases for Columbia in the SAL.
Lydon was selected to the Atlantic League All-Star Game last year as a Camden Rivershark. He hit .273 with 5 homers and 54 RBIs last season, in addition to 72 stolen bases. He is currently playing for the Somerset Patriots.
Lydon has a short "at the ballpark" autograph. You can make out "Wy L" although the W looks more like an N or a V.
Who is this? Milwaukee Brewers centerfielder Jim Edmonds.
What is this? An autograph card from the 2003 SP Chirography set.
Where'd I get it? I bought it off eBay a few months ago.
How much did it cost? I don't remember exactly how much it cost, but I remember it being fairly cheap, maybe around $3 plus shipping.
Why is this so special? Jim Edmonds has always been one of my favorite players, simply because he is such an amazing outfielder. So far he has won 8 Gold Gloves in his 16 year career, and he has been know for making some of the most amazing catches in baseball history. The one that most people remember was the one he made while playing for Anaheim against the Royals on June 10, 1997 to rob a sure double.
Edmonds is hitting .280 with 3 homers in 27 games this season for the Brewers, which isn't bad for a guy who didn't even know if he'd be playing this season.
Edmonds has a very nice and distinctive auto. He has an interesting way of making the d's in his last name, but I really like his signature.
Who is this? Former Houston Astros outfielder Daryle Ward What is this? An autographed card from the 2003 Upper Deck Vintage set (I'm still trying to figure out how Topps' lawyers let this set go, but flipped over last year's O-Pee-Chee set) Where'd I get it? Ward signed it for me before Sunday's game between the Newark Bears and York Revolution How much did it cost? I got the card out of a pack back in 2003 Why is this so special? Ward spent parts of 11 season in the majors and currently has 90 big league home runs. From 1998-2002, he played for the Houston Astros. His best season with Houston was 2000, when he hit 20 home runs in a part-time role.
After the 2002 season, Houston traded Ward to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Ruddy Lugo. He would also play for Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington and the Chicago Cubs.
Through 16 games, Ward is hitting .323 with six home runs and 24 RBI for the Newark Bears. (That's one less home run and two more RBI than David Wright has in twice as many games, though Wright does not have the advantage of hitting against Atlantic League pitching.)
Ward has one of the nicest-looking signatures I've gotten since baseball season started this year.
Who is this? Former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Daryle Ward What is this? An autographed card from the 2004 Topps Total set Where'd I get it? I got it signed before a game between the Newark Bears and York Revolution on Sunday How much did it cost? The card came out of a pack of Topps Total, purchased in 2004. I really don't remember how much they went for. Why is this so special? Ward spent parts of 11 seasons in the majors and currently has 90 big league home runs. He spent two seasons in Pittsburgh, 2004 and 2005. During that time, he hit for the cycle -- becoming part of the only father-son tandem to accomplish the feat.
He also was the first player to hit a home run completely out of PNC Park in Pittsburgh and into the Allegheny River, though he was not playing for the Pirates at the time.
Ward has an amazing autograph, especially for a current player.
Who is this? Lancaster Barnstormers second baseman Toshihisa Nishi What is this? An autographed card from the 2001 Upper Deck Victory set
Where'd I get it? I got it signed before a doubleheader between the Lancaster Barnstormers and Newark Bears last month How much did it cost? The card cost $2.50.
Why is this so special?I wrote about Toshihisa Nishi last week, when I posted the other card he signed for me. In 12 games for Lancaster this season, Nishi is hitting .163 (7-for-43) with a double, a home run and 10 strikeouts. I guess he probably won't be getting signed by an affiliated team anytime soon, which is a little bit sad.
You can't really tell from the scans, but the Japanese Upper Deck Victory cards are a bit unusual. They're just a tiny bit smaller than a standard baseball card and they have rounded corners.
I really can't read Nishi's signature, but I think he did a better job of rendering his name in the Roman alphabet than I could do writing mine in Katakana. I just wish he'd left his uniform number off, or written number 8 like he is clearly wearing on the card.
Who is this? Long Island Ducks pitcher Joselo Diaz What is this? An autographed card from the 2007 Topps Heritage set
Where'd I get it? I got it signed before a game between the Long Island Ducks and Newark Bears last week. How much did it cost? The card cost 50 cents. Why is this so special? Diaz signed with the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent in 1996 as a catcher. After a few years in the minors, he was converted to pitching. He has played for seven different organizations in the minors and even spent a season as a Yokohama Bay Star in Japan.
Diaz has pitched in five major league games: four for the 2006 Kansas City Royals and one for the 2008 Texas Rangers.
Diaz has a neat autograph, which manages to be both distinctive and somewhat legible at the same time.
I remember collecting the 1987 Fleer set quite heavily when I was younger. The funny thing is, I was doing it in 1988. I had put together a few Topps sticker albums in the early 1980s, but I just remember them as "stickers." I didn't start collecting baseball cards seriously until 1988.
The local comic shop had a ton of 1987 Topps cello packs and 1987 Fleer rack packs in 1988 - I guess baseball cards were not a big seller for them. So after I got tired of the current year sets, I started picking these up for the novelty. I think I had about 3/4 of the Fleer set by the time the shop sold the last of their cards, including all of the "big" rookies of the day.
Because of those memories, I like to get 1987 Fleer cards signed when I can. It's not the most exciting design of the 1980s, but I think it holds up better than any of the 1988 cards. They do look great signed in blue Sharpie -- especially when the player has a readable signature like Tom Herr.
Who is this? Long Island Ducks outfielder Billy Kovatch What is this? An autographed card from 2008 Atlantic City Surf team set Where'd I get it? I got it signed before last night's game between the Long Island Ducks and the Newark Bears How much did it cost? The team set was a gift from a friend Why is this so special? Billy Kovatch is now playing his fifth season in pro ball, but he's never been part of a major league organization. He hit .281 with 19 RBI for the Surf in 2008. Last year, he split the season between the New Jersey Jackals and the Long Island Ducks.
The Atlantic City Surf were one of the original franchises in the Atlantic League. The team hosted the league's first all-star game and won the first championship in 1998. But poor attendance made team owners decide to move to the short-season Can-Am League for the 2007 season. It didn't help, and the team folded after the 2008 season.
Kovatch must have been a late arrival to the Surf in 2008, because most of the other players featured in the card set have nice action photos on their baseball cards. Kovatch ended up with a mugshot. ;) He's got a nice, distinctive autograph.
Who is this? Lancaster Barnstormers' pitching coach Danny Cox What is this? An autographed card from the 1989 Fleer set Where'd I get it? Cox signed it for me before a doubleheader between the Barnstormers and the Newark Bears last week. How much did it cost? I'm sure where I got the card. Why is this so special? I wrote a bit about Cox last week, when I posted the other card he signed for me at that game.
1989 was an interesting year for baseball card design. Upper Deck released their first set, which was considered the nicest of the year. Topps had a fairly bland design, but it's aged well and now looks classic. Donruss and Score were colorful, but they were hit and miss -- if the colors worked with your team's logo, they looked ok.
Then there was Fleer. My scanner doesn't like the design and has added a rainbow effect to the ugly grey columns in the border. The saving point is the nice action photo of Danny Cox. Of course, I think the card looks a lot nicer with an autograph.
Who is this? Lancaster Barnstormers' outfielder Jason Perry What is this? An autographed card from last year's Lancaster Barnstormers' team set Where'd I get it? Perry signed it between games of a doubleheader between the Barnstormers and Newark Bears last week. How much did it cost? I don't remember how much the team set cost last year, but I think it was under $10. Why is this so special? I didn't realize it until I just looked up his career stats, but Perry is a former major leaguer. He appeared in four games for the 2008 Atlanta Braves. Sure, it's not much -- but it's good enough for a line in the Baseball Encyclopedia. (Do they even still print it in book form?)
Perry was the sixth-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002; he was traded to Oakland for one-time Yankees prospect and current Newark Bears outfielder John-Ford Griffin in 2003. He was traded to the Detroit organization in 2007 and signed with the Braves as a free agent in 2008.
Perry made his big league debut on July 4th in a game the Braves won 6-2 against the Astros at Turner Field. Perry started in right field and batted eighth. His first time up, Perry hit a two-out triple against Astros' starter Brian Moehler, driving in Brian McCann to extend Atlanta's lead to 2-0.
Perry played in 9 games for the Lancaster Barnstormers last year, and spent the rest of the season in the Tampa Bay organization. In 2010, he's back with Lancaster to start the year.
Perry has a legible signature -- unusual for an active player -- though he did skip a few letters in his last name.
Who is this? Former Yomiuri Giants second baseman Toshihisa Nishi What is this? An autograph card fromthe Japanese 2000 Upper Deck Victory set
Where'd I get it? I got it signed before a game between the Lancaster Barnstormers and Newark Bears last week. How much did it cost? The card cost $2.50.
Why is this so special? Nishi was the Central League Rookie of the Year for the Yomiuri Giants in 1996. He is a three-time all-star and four-time gold glove winner in Japan.
At age 38, Nishi came to America with the hopes of playing for a major league team. When he couldn't find a job, he signed with the Lancaster Barnstormers with the hope that he'd get picked up during the season.
I got to see Nishi hit his first Atlantic League home run the day he signed this card for me.
I was a little disappointed that he already has a (mostly illegible) American autograph, but it's still a neat acquisition for my collection.
Who is this? Cincinnati Red pitcher Michael Leake What is this? An autographed card from the 2009 TriStar Prospects Plus set
Where'd I get it? I wrote to Leake c/o the Reds during the first week of the season and asked him to sign it; I got it back a couple weeks later. How much did it cost? Fifty cents for the card, plus postage
Why is this so special? For all the hype that Stephen Strasburg is getting, Leake is the first member of the 2009 draft class to reach the majors. Through four starts, he's 2-0 with a 3.25 ERA.
I'll get my first look at Leake in about an hour when he faces the New York Mets.
Leake has a surprisingly readable signature and was nice enough to personalize the card for me.
Who is this? Former Texas Rangers slugger Pete Incaviglia What is this? An autographed card from the 1987 Fleer set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Incaviglia in late March and asked him to sign it. I got it back last month. How much did it cost? The card came out of one of the many 1987 Fleer rack packs I bought trying to get "hot" rookie cards, like Barry Bonds & Kevin Seitzer, back in 1988. I think they cost around $1.50 or $2 apiece back then. Now, you can buy unopened rack pack boxes on eBay for around $40.
Why is this so special? Pete Incaviglia was a fun player to watch, because he swung for the fences every time he came up to bat. He usually struck out - he led the American League with 185 in his rookie season. But he did finish his career with over 200 home runs.
Incaviglia was the 15th player to make his professional debut in the major leagues since the amateur draft was implemented. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1985, but Incaviglia forced them to trade him by demanding to go directly to the majors. Following this incident, Major League Baseball implemented a rule requiring drafted players to be under contract for a full year before they can be traded.
After his retirement from baseball, Incaviglia served as the hitting coach for the AA Erie Seawolves and managed the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association.
Who is this? Lancaster Barnstormers first baseman Brett Harper What is this? An autographed card from the 2005 Topps set
Where'd I get it? I got it signed between games of Wednesday's doubleheader between the Newark Bears and the Lancaster Barnstormers How much did it cost? I think I came by this card in a trade, but I really don't remember. Why is this so special? Brett Harper is the son of former Minnesota Twins catcher Brian Harper.
The younger Harper was the Mets' 45th round draft pick in 2000, and I get the feeling that the team never really expected him to do much.
Yet he hit at nearly every level of the minors. In 2004, he was the team MVP for the St. Lucie Mets and he was named to the Florida State League All-Star Game, though he was unable to play because he'd been promoted to Binghamton.
In 2005, he split the season between St. Lucie and Binghamton again, hitting a combined 36 home runs. He missed a good part of the 2006 season, but Harper returned to All-Star form in 2007 for Binghamton. Then the Mets let him go as a minor league free agent.
In 2008, Harper played for Fresno in the Giants' organization. Last year, he played for Las Vegas (Blue Jays) and Albuquerque (Dodgers) and this spring, he had a training camp invitation from the Red Sox.
Yet somehow, he's playing for the Lancaster Barnstormers and hoping that someone will give him one more shot. Harper will turn 29 in a few months, so he's not likely to be a star - or even a regular - in the majors. Still, I'm surprised he never got more of a shot.
Harper's autograph isn't the greatest - I can make out the "B," but that's about it. Topps didn't choose the greatest photo for his card, either.
I'm only putting autograph-related links in this blogroll. However, if you have a blog or a collector site not specifically about autographs, but with an autograph page or an "autograph" label on your blog posts, I'll put that link here.