Who is this? former Texas Rangers pitcher Bobby Witt What is this? An autographed card from the 1991 Leaf set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Witt last month and asked him to sign it; I got it back yesterday. How much did it cost? Postage, basically
Why is this so special? Unless the mailman has something for me today, Bobby Witt's autograph will be the last one I add to my collection in 2010. I didn't keep a detailed count of the ones I got in person, through trades or purchases. However, my stats on SportsCollectors.Net tell me that I sent out 98 letters this year and got 62 responses, good for a 63% response rate. I'll probably see a few more trickle in after New Years, if history is any indication.
Witt has my vote as the most frustrating pitcher of all time. He had great stuff - especially early in his career. In his first five seasons, Witt struck out between 148 and 221 batters per season. The problem: he led the American League in walks in three of those five seasons and had the most wild pitches in two of them. Needless to say, he didn't pitch many fast games... but it was still fun to watch him rack up the strikeouts.
Though Witt spent the majority of his career with the Texas Rangers, he also pitched for six other teams during his 16 years in the big leagues. He won a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001, his final year in baseball. Witt retired with a 142-157 lifetime record, as well as 1955 strikeouts and 1375 walks.
His autograph is legible, which is more than I can say for many players today. Here's an Oakland card that he signed for me as well:
Happy New Year everyone! May you add lots of signatures to your collections in 2011.
Who is this? former major league relief pitcher Graeme Lloyd What is this? An autographed card from the 1996 Leaf Signature Extended set Where'd I get it? CheckOutMyCards.com How much did it cost? $3
Why is this so special? Graeme Lloyd is one of a small handful of people from Australia to play Major League Baseball. In a 10-year career, Lloyd played for 7 different teams, including the New York Yankees, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. He won two World Series rings with the Yankees.
His first name is difficult to make out, but his last name is clearly readable in the autograph on my card.
Who is this? Cubs catcher Geovany Soto What is this? An autographed card from the 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter set Where'd I get it? I purchased it from Anthony of Mike Pelfrey Collectibles when he decided to sell off his collection.
Why is this so special? Soto was the National League Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 2008, hitting .285 with 23 home runs and 86 RBI. After a disappointing sophomore season, he rebounded to hit .280 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI this year.
Soto does not have a pretty autograph, and I'm glad I don't have to decipher it on a baseball or other generic item.
Who is this? former minor league pitcher Geoff Goetz What is this? An autographed insert card from the 1999 Just Minors set Where'd I get it? from a dealer's dollar box at the local card show How much did it cost? $1
Why is this so special? Geoff Goetz was a Mets prospect in the late 1990s who was part of the trade that brought Mike Piazza to New York. At the end of his career, I got to see him pitch for the Nashua Pride in the Atlantic League.
He's got an interesting autograph - if you use your imagination, you can pick out most of the letters of his name.
Who is this? Wichita Wingnuts pitcher Gabe Medina What is this? An autographed card from the 2010 Wichita Wingnuts team set Where'd I get it? From Zach at Autographed Cards
Why is this so special? This is another signed card from the Wichita Wingnuts team set that Zach sent me a few weeks ago. I really like the classic vest style uniform that Medina is wearing, but I'm glad I don't have to decipher his autograph. I'd be thinking it was signed y someone whose last name began with the letter "C."
Medina, a native of Venezuela, had a 5-7 record in 20 starts for the Wingnuts this year, his second season with Wichita. Medina also pitched very briefly for the Camden Riversharks in 2010, though I didn't realize this until now.
The New York Yankees selected Medina in the 15th round of the 2006 draft, but in three seasons he never advanced past the South Atlantic League. Here's another card that shows him in his Yankees garb, also courtesy of Zach.
I hope that everyone had a good Dec. 25th. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope that Santa was good to you and your family. If not, I hope that you saw something good at the movies or enjoyed whatever tradition that you've developed over the years.
I don't normally post on Sundays, but I've had enough football and I don't want to go back out to shovel again right now :) So here's a bonus cards for whoever else is hanging around their computers on a holiday weekend.
Who is this? Former Washington Senators and Baltimore Orioles outfielder Fred Valentine What is this? An autographed card from the 1967 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month.
Why is this so special? I love the 1967 Topps set. It has a nice, simple design that emphasizes the photos. I'm in the minority, but I prefer the classic posed portrait shots to the standard action photos that dominate modern baseball card sets. This is a great-looking card, and Valentine's careful signature only adds to it.
Valentine played in the major leagues for seven seasons between 1959 and 1968 before finishing his baseball career in Japan.
According to Baseball Reference, Valentine and George Altman were the first players from Tennessee State University to reach the major leagues. (I now have autographs from both, though I did not realize there was a connection between the two until now.) Valentine was also an All-American quarterback for Tennessee State and could have played pro football instead of opting for baseball.
Wikipedia claims that Valentine was nicknamed "Wally the Biscuit Killer," but I don't think I believe them. (If it's true, I'd love to learn the origin of that nickname.)
Who is this? Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Fred Cambria What is this? An autographed card from the 1972 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month.
Why is this so special? When I was younger, I didn't really like the 1972 Topps set. It never seemed to fit with the other old Topps cards. Lately, though, I've started to appreciate its odd charm so I've been trying to get 1972 Topps cards signed when I can.
Fred Cambria was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1969 draft. By a coincidence, he happens to be from Cambria Heights, N.Y.
According to Baseball Reference, Cambira threw a perfect game in the minor leagues in 1969. The next year, he got his chance to pitch in the majors. He made 5 late season starts for the Pirates, finishing the year with a 1-2 record and a 3.51 ERA.
Arm troubles hampered his career... though Cambria pitched in the minor leagues into 1973, he never appeared in another major league game. At 25, he was out of baseball.
Cambria has a clear, legible signature. I wish he had opted to sign over his name instead of his face, though.
This is my last post of the week, so I want to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I'll be back on Monday with some more autographed baseball cards to show you during the final week of 2010.
Who is this? Colorado Rockies outfielder Eric Young Jr. What is this? An autographed insert card from Topps Chrome Where'd I get it? I bought it from a dealer at this month's local card show. How much did it cost? $5
Why is this so special? I may have been able to get a better deal, but this was an impulse purchase. I haven't made any organized effort to collect autographs from players who are from New Jersey, but I will pick up their cards when I have the opportunity.
Young went to Piscataway High School and is the first alumni from the school to reach the major leagues. (Corey Smith, a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2000 and former Newark Bear, had a chance to reach the majors but hasn't gotten past AAA yet.)
The Rockies chose Young, son of original Colorado Rockies second baseman Eric Young, in the 30th round of the 2003 draft. He didn't make his minor league debut until 2004, but he moved through the minor leagues quickly. In 2009, Young made his major league debut with Colorado.
Speed is a big part of Young's game - he stole 17 bases in 51 games at the major league level this year. In one minor league season, he stole 87 bases. The Rockies outfielder will have to improve his on-base percentage if he is to make full use of his speed, though.
Who is this? Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Brian Boehringer What is this? An autographed card from the 2004 Topps Total set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Boehringer earlier this month and asked him to sign it. I got it back on Monday. How much did it cost? Postage, basically.
Why is this so special? Brian Boehringer spent time in the Atlantic League in 2006 and 2007, winding down his professional career as a member of the Bridgeport Bluefish. I never had any luck getting anything signed. In 2006, he got picked up by an affiliated team before I ever saw the Bluefish. If I recall correctly, he spent most of 2007 on the DL - he only appeared in 5 games. And in independent baseball, teams rarely pay hotel bills for players on the DL to travel.
Boehringer made his major league debut with the Yankees in 1995. A year later, he was pitching in the World Series. In 1997, Boehringer was selected in the expansion draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but he never played for them - he was traded to San Diego that same day.
In 1998, Boehringer got to pitch in another World Series... but this time he ended up on the wrong side. He would go back to the Yankees briefly in 2001, but they traded him to the Giants midway through the year. Boehringer finished his major league career with the Pirates.
In a 10-year career that spanned from 1995-2004, Boehringer appeared in 356 regular season major league games. He was never a star, but he was a useful contributor out of the bullpen.
For a player with a long name, Boehringer has a decent autograph. Here's a 2004 Fleer Tradition card that he signed and personalized for me.
Who is this? Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Alan Ashby What is this? An autographed card from from the 1977 Topps set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Ashby earlier this month and asked him to sign it; I got it back Monday. How much did it cost? Not much; postage, basically.
Why is this so special? I mainly remember Ashby as an aging catcher who lost his playing time to a young Craig Biggio, but he had a pretty good career.
He caught three no-hitters, tying an NL record
He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame
He was named the catcher on the Houston Astros All-Time Team
He was an original Toronto Blue Jay
Ashby's autograph went downhill since he signed whatever document was used as the template for the facsimile signature on his 1977 Topps card. He didn't change too much between his 1977 card and his 1988 one.
Who is this? former Texas Rangers outfielder Damon Buford What is this? An autographed card from the 1996 Leaf Signature set Where'd I get it? Purchased from CheckOutMyCards.com How much did it cost? 99 cents
Why is this so special? Damon Buford is the son of 1960s White Sox & Orioles outfielder Don Buford.
Damon was a journeyman outfielder who played for the Orioles, Mets, Rangers, Red Sox and Cubs during a 9 season career. He was a full-time starter in only two of those seasons - 1997 with Texas and 2000 with the Cubs.
Buford was one of two players the Mets received in 1995 when they traded away Bobby Bonilla, though I always forget that he was involved in the deal. I usually just remember Alex Ochoa.
Buford's autograph is fairly reminiscent of his father's, even though Damon left out some letters when he was signing for Leaf.
Who is this? former major league relief pitcher Chuck McElroy What is this? An autograph card from the 1996 Leaf Signature set Where'd I get it? Purchased from CheckOutMyCards.com How much did it cost? 75 cents.
Why is this so special? McElroy spent 13 seasons in the major leagues from 1989-2001. He pitched for 9 different teams, including the New York Mets.
During the 1996 season, McElroy was traded from the Reds to the Angels for Lee Smith. Somehow Donruss managed to have these cards printed and autographed in time to include them with their releases later that year. It seems like a decent argument against sticker autographs, but I think that cost concerns keep them around more so than logistical ones.
McElroy was selected in the 1997 expansion draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he was traded to Colorado the same day for outfielder Harvey Pulliam. If any Diamondbacks fans are reading this, do you consider McElroy to be one of the original members of your team?
McElroy's autograph isn't necessarily pretty, but I give him points for making it legible.
I'm not sure what might show up in the mail, but right now it looks like I'll finish up posting the cards of players whose first names begin with "D," "E" or "F" next week. That will clear the way to finally start with "G" after Christmas.
Who is this? Former major leaguer Chris Stynes What is this? An autographed card from the 2000 Fleer Tradition set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Stynes and asked him to sign it. How much did it cost? postage, basically
Why is this so special? Chris Stynes may not be a household name, but he did have a good major league career. In ten seasons from 1995-2004, he played for the Royals, Reds, Red Sox, Cubs, Rockies and Pirates. He retired with a .275 career average, 51 home runs and 265 RBI.
Stynes also has one neat record - in 1996, he stole second, third and home in the same inning during a game between the Royals and Mariners.
Stynes has a clear, easy-to-read autograph. Here are a few other cards:
Who is this? Mets third base coach Chip Hale What is this? An autographed card from the 1996 Leaf Signature Series set Where'd I get it? Purchased from CheckOutMyCards.com How much did it cost? 99 cents
Why is this so special? Chip Hale is the Mets third base coach and was a finalist to become their manager after Jerry Manuel was let go at the end of the season.
Between 1989-1997, Hale played in the major leagues for 7 seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was never a regular, but he served a useful utility role. He retired with a .277 career average, 7 home runs and 76 RBI.
Hale's autograph is fairly legible, but I'd read it as "Chip Dale" if I didn't know better.
Who is this? former Boston Red Sox prospect Casey Fossum What is this? An autograph card from the 2003 Playoff Piece of the Game set Where'd I get it? Purchased from CheckOutMyCards.com How much did it cost? $3
Why is this so special? I don't have too many cards that have an autograph and a relic - in this case, a scrap of fabric from a game-worn jersey.
Casey Fossum, a New Jersey native, was once a top prospect in the Boston Red Sox system. He made his major league debut in 2001, just his third season of professional baseball. Fossum enjoyed modest success with the Red Sox, but left the team in the winter of 2003 as a key component of the trade that brought Curt Schilling to Boston from Arizona.
After one season with the Diamonbacks, when Fossum lost a career-high 15 games, Arizona traded him to Tampa Bay. He lasted two seasons with the Devil Rays, then it was on to Detroit in 2008. Fossum appeared in three games with the New York Mets in 2009 - I was there for what may turn out to be his final big league appearance.
This season, Fossum pitched for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, where he finished the season with a 2-5 record and a 5.72 ERA. Fossum was more effective at the minor league level, but he will not be back with the Tigers next year.
Fossum's autograph leaves a lot to be desired, especially since it was signed as part of a paid session.
Who is this? former major league pitcher Bill Swift What is this? An autographed card from the 1996 Topps set Where'd I get it? I wrote to Swift and asked him to sign it; I got it back a couple of weeks later. How much did it cost? Postage, basically
Why is this so special? Bill Swift was never an All-Star, but he did have a good major league career. In 13 seasons from 1985 through 1998, he won 94 games while losing only 74 and his career ERA was 3.95. He pitched for the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies.
In his best season, Swift won 21 games while losing 8 for the 1993 San Francisco Giants. The year before, he led the National League with a 2.08 ERA.
Swift's autograph is quick, but hie initials are easy to decipher. Here is a 1987 Topps card:
Who is this? Former Atlanta Braves first baseman Frank Tepedino What is this? An autographed card from the 1974 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month.
Why is this so special? Frank Tepedino made his major league debut with the New York Yankees on May 12, 1967 at the age of 19. He pinch-hit for future Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford. He spent parts of 8 seasons in the majors, with the Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers.
Tepedino never had more than 169 major league at-bats in a season, and retired with a lifetime .241 batting average, 6 home runs and 58 RBI. He later became a New York City firefighter.
Who is this? Kansas City T-Bones pitcher Franklin Perez What is this? An autographed card from the 2003 Donruss set... I think. Was "The Rookies" a designation on regular cards, or is this a separate set? Where'd I get it? From Zach at Autographed Cards, who probably got it signed at a T-Bones game.
Why is this so special? Perez spent 7 seasons in affiliated minor league ball, primarily in the Phillies organization. He never made it to the majors, but did get as far as AAA. In 2008, he had a fairly unimpressive season for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League, earning a 6-3 record with a 5.25 ERA as a starter and a reliever.
In 2009, Perez played for half of the teams in the Atlantic League - the Bluefish again, the Camden Riversharks, the Long Island Ducks and the Newark Bears. He was somewhat effective for the Riversharks, earning 6 saves in 27 appearances. The less said about his time with the other teams, the better.
This year, Perez had 6 saves and a sparkling 0.87 ERA in 11 games for the T-Bones.
Perez has an interesting autograph that would likely cause confusion for anyone trying to identify it on a generic item.
Who is this? former Montreal Expos pitcher Don DeMola What is this? An autographed card from the 1976 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month
Why is this so special? DeMola, a Long Island native, was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1970. While still in the minors, they released him and DeMola eventually signed with the Expos.
DeMola reached the majors in 1974 and pitched effectively in limited duty out of the bullpen. He returned in 1975, but did not fare as well. DeMola finished his major league career with a 5-7 record and 3.77 ERA in 87 games.
DeMola continued to pitch in the minor leagues through 1978. He currently offers baseball instruction, fur buying tips and FIOS installation in the Long Island area via his website, DonDeMola.com.
DeMola has a pretty good looking autograph that is easy to read.
Who is this? former Cleveland Indians first baseman Chris Chambliss What is this? An autographed card from the 1972 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month
Why is this so special? Chris Chambliss played in the major leagues for 17 seasons and retired with over 2,100 hits. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1971, an All-Star in 1976 and a Gold Glove winner in 1978.
Yankee fans remember him best for hitting a walk-off home run in the 1976 ALCS to send the Yankees to their first World Series since 1964. He won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.
After he retired, Chambliss joined the coaching ranks. He has worked for the Tigers, Yankees, Mets and Mariners organizations as a minor league manager or major league hitting coach.
Chambliss has a unique autograph that would be difficult to decipher on a generic item. I don't think I've ever seen closed "C"'s like that before.
Who is this? Long Island Ducks co-owner & part-time coach Bud Harrelson What is this? An autographed card from the 2009 Long Island Ducks team set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month
Why is this so special? Bud Harrelson spent most of his 16-year major league career with the New York Mets. He won a Gold Glove and a World Series ring with the Mets. He would later go on to coach and manage the team.
Harrelson is a co-owner and served as the original manager of the Long Island Ducks team in the independent Atlantic League. He still coaches first base for the team on a limited basis, but you'll probably never see him unless you make the trip to Central Islip, N.Y. In six years of following Atlantic League baseball, the only time I saw Harrelson make a road trip was for a playoff game in Camden in 2008.
I've always found Harrelson to be a gracious signer, in person and via the mail. His signature looks a little shakier now than when he was younger, but it is still very neat and legible.
Here is his card from the 2008 Long Island team set:
Who is this? Former Mets outfielder Brian McRae What is this? An autographed card from the 1999 Topps Stadium Club set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month.
Why is this so special? Brian McRae, son of former Kansas City Royals All-Star Hal McRae, played for the New York Mets from 1997-99. During that time, he was one of the team's better players. In 1998, he set career highs with 21 home runs and 79 RBI while leading the Mets in doubles, triples and stolen bases.
McRae is best remembered as a Kansas City Royal, where he played for the first five seasons of his major league career. McRae retired with 1336 career hits, 103 home runs, 532 RBI and 196 stolen bases.
McRae doesn't have the prettiest autograph, but I love the Stadium Club card that he signed. It's got a simple, classy design with a great photo taken at Shea Stadium. I wish Topps hadn't killed the brand with their attempt at resurrecting it in 2008.
Who is this? Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brad Lesley What is this? An autographed card from the 1985 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month.
Why is this so special? Brad Lesley's career statistics don't really stand out - in four seasons, he appeared in 54 major league games with a 1-3 record, 6 saves and a 3.86 ERA. He finished his baseball career in Japan with the Hankyu Braves, where he had a 7-5 record with 24 saves in 60 games over 2 years.
Yet his stats don't really tell the story. Lesley was one of baseball's characters, earning the nickname "The Animal" (later "Animal-san" in Japan.) There are multiple stories explaining the origin of the nickname - the most plausible credits Johnny Bench, who supposedly said that Lesley "looked like a crazed animal" when he ran over to cover first base on a play.
In Japan, Lesley's unique style stood out even more... and the Hankyu Braves played it up. They had had Animal yelling contests, Lesley look-alike competitions, and other events to capitalize on their closer's cult status for marketing purposes.
Lesley had a role on the 1980s Japanese game show, Takeshi's Castle, which was eventually shown in the U.S. on Spike TV as MXC. He also appeared in several films, including Little Big League, Mr. Baseball and Space Jam.
Lesley's autograph is an ornate, if illegible, scribble.
Who is this? Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Bob Tufts What is this? An autographed card from the 1982 Topps set Where'd I get it? Nick from Baseball Happenings got it signed for me last month.
Why is this so special? Bob Tufts is the least famous of the three players pictured on the San Francisco Giants Future Stars card in the 1982 Topps set.
He appeared in 11 games out of the bullpen for the Giants in 1981, but by the time this card came out he had been traded to the Kansas City Royals in a 6-player deal. With the Royals, Tufts appeared in 10 games and earned his only two major league decisions in 1982 - both victories. He appeared in 6 more games in 1983, but never threw another major league pitch after that.
Tufts has a New Jersey connection - he is an alumni of Princeton.
While he does have a legible (if tiny) signature, Tufts chose the worst place to sign this card. I guess he didn't like the photo.
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.