Who is this? Former Boston Red Sox Catcher Rich Gedman. What is this? An autograph card from 1988 Topps. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Rich at the 2011 New York-Penn League All-Star game where Rich was the American League Batting Coach. How much did it cost? I found this card and two other Gedman's in a shoebox a few minutes before I left to go to the All-Star game. I assume that I basically paid nothing for the cards.
Why is this so special? Rich Gedman played for the Boston Red Sox from 1980 until 1990 before ending his career with the Houston Astros (1990-1991) and St. Louis Cardinals (1991-1992).
A two-time American League All-Star (1985, 1986), Gedman caught two of the most historic games in the history of the Boston Red Sox organization. First, Gedman caught the first nine-innings of the Longest Game in the History Professional Baseball, the 33 inning battle between the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings that began April 18, continued into April 19, and was completed on June 23, 1981 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI. Other participants in the Longest Game included Cal Ripken, Jr. and Wade Boggs.
In addition, Gedman was the Red Sox Catcher in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, where a "Wild Pitch" by Bob Stanley (that many considered an error by Gedman) and a ball hit through Bill Buckner's legs were the difference that allowed the Mets to win the game and go on to win the World Series.
Gedman's career included an additional bizarre twist in 1987, when he, along with ten other free agents (including Tim Raines and Andre Dawson), failed to reach an agreement with their teams by a January 8th deadline and were thus not allowed to re-sign until May 1.
After retiring from baseball at the age of 34, Gedman has spent some time coaching and managing. Gedman made his return to organized baseball in 2011 when he took over as the Lowell (MA) Spinners (Red Sox Short Season NYPL A-Ball Affiliate) batting coach.
Gedman was very nice about signing the three cards that I had and his signature looks very nice.
Who is this? Oakland Athletics' Outfielder Josh Reddick. What is this? An autograph card from 2009 UD SP Authentic Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Josh Reddick after a Pawtucket Red Sox game in 2010. How much did it cost? A dollar or two.
Why is this so special? Josh Reddick, drafted by Boston in the Seventeenth-Round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of Middle Georgia College, was one of the Red Sox Top Prospects since 2008 before making his Major League debut in 2009. Since then, he has split his time between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket, filling-in for an oft-injured Boston squad of JD Drew, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carl Crawford.
Yesterday, Josh Reddick was one of the key pieces in the trade that sent closer Andrew Bailey to Boston from Oakland. Now an Athletic, Josh looks well-positioned to win a starting job in Oakland and reach his Major League potential.
During his time with Pawtucket, Josh was a good signer, especially in 2010. A "Good Ol' Boy" from Georgia, he used to sometimes vacuum his muscle car with a dust-buster while smoking a cigarette before games. I wish him all the best in Oakland and hope that he has a long and successful career.
Here are eight more cards that Josh signed for me during his time in Pawtucket.
Who is this? Washington Nationals' Pitcher Ross Detwiler. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Ross before a Pawtucket Red Sox v. Syracuse Chiefs game in Spring 2010. How much did it cost? I got the card when I bought the 2010 Topps set.
Why is this so special? Here's a fun fact: Ross Detwiler was the first 2007 MLB Draft pick to make it to the bigs when he made his Major League debut for the Washington Nationals when he pitched in relief against the Atlanta Braves. That put him ahead of fellow 2007 draftees David Price and Matt Wieters.
Unfortunately for Detwiler, his meteoric rise to the Majors was not exactly a sign of things to come. Although he saw time in the Majors in 2009 and 2010, he spent the majority of the next three years in the Minors, pitching for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
The good news is that Detwiler had his most productive Major League season in 2011 when he went 4-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 games (10 starts) for the Nationals. He will be 26 on Opening Day in 2012, and still has plenty of time to prove that his early rise was no fluke.
Ross also was nice enough to sign these two 2008 rookie cards for me.
Who is this? Patriots Linebacker Brandon Spikes. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Sage HIT. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Brandon at Patriots' Training Camp in 2010. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought a set of 2010 Sage HIT.
Why is this so special? Brandon was a two-time All-American at the University of Florida, where he was a part of their 2007 and 2009 BCS National Championship teams. But, despite his stellar collegiate career, he slipped to the Patriots in the second round (62nd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft.
When he has been on the field, Brandon has been a key contributor on the Pats' "No Name" defense. In his rookie season, Spikes played in 12 regular-season games, logging 61 tackles and one interception, but missed the last four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy (allegedly for a medication that included a banned substance).
This season, Spikes has been limited to seven games and has not played since he saw action against the New York Giants on November 6th. However, although he has missed considerable time, Spikes did manage to make 44 tackles. The Patriots' hope that Spikes can make a full-recovery for the Playoffs and help a struggling Pats' Defense.
Despite his struggle to stay on the field, I still have high hopes for Spikes' long-term prospects. A competitor who always seems to be around the ball, he is the kind of player that the Patriots' had when they won their three Super Bowls.
Visually, I like how the blue sharpie looks on this card, although I thought that it was interesting how Spikes signed his name on the card.
Who is this? Legendary Dodgers' Pitcher Carl Erskine. What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Donruss Threads. Where'd I get it? I got this card (and four others seen below) signed by Mr. Erskine Through the Mail. How much did it cost? I got the 2008 Donruss Threads card when I bought the set in 2009 and the other cards here and there over the years.
Why is this so special? Carl Erskine spent his entire career, which lasted from 1948 until 1959, as a member of the Dodgers. During that time, Erskine had a career 122-78 record and a 4.00 lifetime ERA.
While Erskine may not be as well known as some other pitchers from the 1950s, he was a key piece of the Dodgers' teams that won 5 National League Pennants and the 1955 World Series; threw two of the seven no-hitters pitched in the National League 1950s; and set a World Series single-game record by striking out 14 Yankees in 1953.
In addition to his performance on the field, Erskine stands-out for his generosity to fans, as demonstrated by his willingness to sign autograph requests Through the Mail. Erskine's signature is clear and stylish, and I like the way that he seems to look for an open space to sign on the card. In addition to the four cards of him that I have sent, I also asked him to sign the Ebbet's Field card from 2010 Topps.
Who is this? PGA Champions Tour Golfer Brad Faxon. What is this? An autograph card from 2001 Upper Deck Golf Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Brad Faxon at the 2009 Deutsche Bank Championship. How much did it cost? About 25 cents.
Why is this so special? Brad Faxon was a member of the PGA tour from 1984 until 2010, winning a total of $17.76 million in earnings. Over the course of that time, Faxon won eight tournaments, including the 1991 and 2005 Buick Opens, the 1999 and 2000 B.C. Opens, and the International. In addition, Faxon was also a member of the Ryder Cup team, received the Payne Stewart Award in 2001, and lead the PGA Tour in putting multiple times.
When he turned 50 last August, Faxon joined the Champions Tour and wasted little time before making his mark, winning the Insperity Championship. That is projected to be just the first of many Champions Tour wins for Faxon.
Faxon was also nice enough to sign this 2001 Upper Deck Stat Leaders card for me.
Who is this? Boston Red Sox Pitcher Junichi Tazawa. What is this? An autograph card from 2009 TriSTAR Obak. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Junichi Tazawa at the 2010 Pawtucket Red Sox Hot Stove Party. How much did it cost? I paid about a dollar for the card in 2009.
Why is this so special? Junichi Tazawa was a bit of a sensation in the Red Sox Minor League system in 2009. Before coming to America, Tazawa had only played in Japanese Industrial League, pitching for Nippon Oil, and made unprecedented request, at the age of 23, that he not be drafted in Japan, but instead become an international free agent. According to multiple sources, Tazawa turned down bigger contracts to have the opportunity to play for the Boston Red Sox.
Debuting with Double-A Portland, Tazawa exceeded all expectations, winning 9 of his 18 starts, striking out 88 batters to only 26 walks, and posting a 2.57 ERA. Those numbers were so impressive that he earned a spot on both the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Team and the 2009 Futures Game World Team. In fact, Tazawa was scheduled to start the Futures game, but ended-up being scratched after a rain-delay. Soon after, Tazawa earned a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket and then made his Major League Debut with Boston on August 7, 2009.
Unfortunately, Tazawa was forced to miss all of 2010 and the start of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Luckily, after struggling to recover his form early in 2011, Tazawa climbed the organizational ladder again, rising from High-A Salem, to Double-A Portland, to Triple-A Pawtucket, and back to Boston, appearing in three big-league games late in the season.
Junichi has been a good signer since coming to the United States and is unique in his willingness to sign both his Japanese and American signatures. I really like that I have his 2009 TriSTAR Obak card signed in both American and Japanese.
Who is this? New England Patriots' Center Dan Koppen. What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Bowman Sterling Authentic Player Worn Pro Bowl Jersey Green Parallel Short-print numbered 076/249. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Dan at Patriots' Training Camp in 2009. How much did it cost? I paid a total of about $5 for the Green and Blue (seen below) versions of Koppen's 2008 Bowman Sterling Pro Bowl Jersey cards.
Why is this so special? Dan Koppen has been the Patriots' starting center for the past nine seasons since he was drafted in the fifth-round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Boston College. During that time, Koppen anchored the line of two Super Bowl winning teams in 2003 and 2004 and the Patriots' AFC Championship team in 2007. For his efforts, Koppen was named to the Patriots' 2000s All-Decade Team and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007.
Unfortunately, Koppen fractured his ankle in Week 1 of the 2011 season, forcing him to miss the rest of the season after being placed on the Injured Reserve list on September 21.
While I love all of my autographed cards, I think that some of my favorite cards that I have gotten signed are game-used cards. There is something all-the-more special about asking a player to sign a card with a piece of their game-worn jersey on it, and it is even cooler that the 2008 Bowman Sterling cards were specifically from the 2007 Pro Bowl.
Dan has always been good about signing at Training Camp, and I was fortunate enough to also get him to sign the Blue version of the card, numbered 040/349. I'm hoping that he is able to bounce back from the injury that forced him to miss almost all of the 2011 season and return to Center the Patriots for years to come.
Who is this? Former New England Patriots Linebacker Steve Nelson. What is this? An autographed card from 1978 Topps. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Nelson before the 2011 New England Patriots Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in September. How much did it cost? I bought the card for about 5 or 7 cents.
Why is this so special? Steve Nelson played his entire 14-year career with the New England Patriots and after his retirement was honored by being inducted into the Patriots' Hall of Fame in 1993 and having his #57 retired.
Nelson first made a name for himself playing linebacker for North Dakota State, where he was a two-time All-American. After graduating, he was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second-round of the 1974 NFL draft. A two-time Patriots' team MVP and three-time Pro Bowler (1980, 1984, 1985), Nelson was a defensive standout who helped lead New England to Super Bowl XX.
When he retired in 1987, Nelson had recorded a very Patriotic 1776 career tackles. Since then, Nelson has been active in the community and is admired for being one of the players that helped bring respectibility to the New England Patriots' franchise.
Nelson was very nice about signing autographs for fans at the Hall of Fame event. In addition to his 1978 Topps Rookie Card, he also signed this 1986 Topps card for me.
Who is this? Stanford University and Team USA First Baseman and Outfielder Brian Ragira. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps USA. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Brian last June before Team USA's game against the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars at Fenway Park. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought two sets of 2010 Topps Team USA sets.
Why is this so special? Brian Ragira was recognized as a 2011 Freshman All-American by Baseball America, the 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and a 2011 Honorable Mention All-PAC-10 after his first year as a Cardinal. Playing First Base and the Outfield, Brian hit .329, slugged .465, led the team in RBIs, Triples, and Home Runs, and had a .993 fielding percentage.
Brian was also a member of the 2009 and 2010 Team USA 18U squads, batting .386, leading the team in RBIs and slugging .649, good for second best, in 2010. In the summer of 2011, Brian played in five games as an alternate for the Team USA Collegiate Team, where I saw him play at Fenway.
A raw and powerful athlete, Brian was also a top young soccer player, competing with the U.S. Development Program 12U team, before focusing on baseball full-time and is the son of Elijah and Abigael Ragira, both of whom were Kenyan Marathon runners. And, although he was born in Texas, Brian is actually a dual-citizen of both the United States and Kenya.
If he continues his development, Brian could become a top draft-pick in 2013 and an elite prospect. Brian was nice enough to sign six cards for me before the game, and was even nice enough to sign with his appropriate jersey number for each card. In fact, he signed with a smile and thanked me when he handed me back the clipboard and blue sharpie.
Who is this? New England Patriots Kicker Stephen Gostkowski. What is this? An autograph card from 2007 Upper Deck. Where'd I get it? My wife, Kristina, got this card autographed by Gostkowski at Patriots' Training Camp in 2008. How much did it cost? I got the card out of a pack in 2007.
Why is this so special? Stephen Gostkowski replaced Adam Vinitari as the New England Patriots' placekicker in 2006 after being selected in the fourth-round out of Memphis, where he played both football and baseball. As a matter of fact, Gostkowski was originally on a baseball scholarship, and had to make the football team as a walk-on.
Known for his accuracy, Gostkowski is one of only two players in the history of the National Football League to score 500 or more points in his first four seasons. In addition, he led the NFL in scoring in 2008 and was selected to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams.
As you can see from the 2007 Upper Deck card that my wife got signed in 2008, Gostkowski has a very nice and clear signature. However, when I got him to sign his 2009 Upper Deck card during Patriots' Training Camp in 2011, the signature was not nearly as nice. To explain the difference, I have a few theories: (1) Gostkowski was less popular in 2008, and was more enthusiastic to sign his card for a fan, (2) Gostkowski was more enthusiastic to sign for my beautiful wife than he was to sign for me, or (3) Gostkowski was suffering from severe dehydration/heat stroke and/or was intoxicated when he signed my 2009 card. My guess is theory 1, but I could be wrong.
Who is this? Washington Nationals Catcher Wilson Ramos. What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Wilson when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, before a game against the Pawtucket Red Sox. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought two sets of 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition for about $12.00 around Christmas-time in 2009.
Why is this so special? Wilson Ramos is one of the best young catchers in baseball. He was acquired by the Washington Nations from the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline in 2010 in exchange for closer Matt Capps. In his first full-season in the Majors in 2011, Ramos batted .267 with 15 homeruns in 113 games.
Unfortunately, on November 9, 2011, Ramos was kidnapped by four armed men in Venezuela, his homeland, where he was playing in the Venezuelan Winter Baseball League. Ramos is just the most recent target of gangs who target athletes and their families in what has become a lucrative kidnapping and ransom business.
Wilson seemed like a very nice young man when I met him, and I hope that he is quickly and safely returned to his family. Until then, he will be in my prayers.
Who are these guys? New York Yankees Minor Leaguers Ray Kruml and Addison Maruszak. What is this? An autograph card from 2008 TriSTAR Prospects Plus. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Addison in July and Ray in August when they were playing for the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees against the Pawtucket Red Sox. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought two sets of 2008 TriSTAR Prospects Plus a few years ago.
Why is this so special? Neither Kruml nor Maruszak are top prospects, but both took the time to sign this card, which means that, regardless of whether or not either of them ever make it to the Bronx or become big-leaguers, both will always have a place in my autograph collection.
All too often, fans and autograph collectors are focused on chasing the "big fish," allowing players like Ray Kruml and Addison Maruszak to pass their entire careers barely noticed playing in half-empty ballparks across America. I like the inclusion of Kruml, a 2008 11th round-pick out of the University of Southern Alabama, and Maruszak, a 2008 17th round-pick out of the University of South Florida, in sets like TriSTAR Prospects Plus and Donruss Elite Extra Edition not just because they provide me something to get signed, but also because they memorialize their baseball careers on cardboard for all-time.
Ray Kruml was also nice enough to sign two copies of his 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition and two copies of his 2008 TriSTAR Prospects Plus card for me.
I thank Ray and Addison for signing my cards, and I wish they both long and successful careers in the future.
Who is this? Arizona Diamondbacks Pitcher Daniel Hudson. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps Series 1. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Daniel after a game against the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2010 when he was pitching for the White Sox Triple-A Affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought 2010 Topps Series 1 for about $23.00.
Why is this so special? Daniel Hudson is one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Over the course of his first three season in the Majors, Hudson has a record of 25-15 over 49 starts with a 3.19 ERA, with 267 strikeouts and only 86 walks. Not bad for a fifth-round pick out of Old Dominion.
And, not only is Daniel a rising star on the mound, he is also a very good signer. Not only was he very nice when I met him after a Paw Sox game (after security had turned off all of the lights and there were a few collectors asking him to sign in pitch black), but he has also signed cards through-the-mail for both my wife and me.
Daniel personalized the cards for both of us, something that I think is cool, and even wrote a note on the cardboard piece that I include in every return envelope to protect my cards.
Who is this? Former New England Patriots' Linebacker Tedy Bruschi. What is this? An autograph card from 2004 Score. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Tedy at Patriots' training camp in either 2005 or 2006. How much did it cost? I think I got it from a 2004 Score Patriots' Team Set.
Why is this so special? Tedy Bruschi spent his entire career with the New England Patriots from when he was selected in the Third Round of the 1996 NFL Draft until he retired before the start of the 2009 season.
Bruschi played on five New England Patriots' teams that reached the Super Bowl (the most of any Patriots' player), winning three (XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX) and was elected to one Pro Bowl (2004) and two All-Pro Teams (2003 and 2004).
Often forgotten is the fact that Bruschi was also a stand-out collegiate player. Bruschi set an NCAA Division 1-A record with 52 Quarterback sacks as a Defensive End for the University of Arizona and was a two-time All-American (1994 and 1995).
However, what might make Bruschi most memorable was his return to football after suffering a mild stroke just days after the 2005 Pro Bowl. After doctors diagnosed that he had had a stroke, Bruschi announced that he would sit out the entire 2005 season to recover. However, remarkably, he was able to return to the field on October 30 for the Patriots' game against the Buffalo Bills. For his heroic recovery and return, Bruschi was named the 2005 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Bruschi is, and should remain, one of the most beloved players in the history of the New England Patriots. This card and signature look nice, and captures the essence of who Bruschi was as a player.
Who is this? Red Sox Hall of Fame Second Baseman Bobby Doerr. What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Upper Deck Goudey. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed through the mail from Mr. Doerr last week. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought a set of 2008 Upper Deck Goudey for cheap last spring.
Why is this so special? How many Hall of Famers sign through the mail for free and return signed cards in less than a week? My guess: just Bobby Doerr.
Bobby Doerr spent his entire career with the Red Sox, playing from 1937 to 1951, although he missed the 1945 season when serving in the Army during World War II. He made his Major League debut when he was only 19 years-old and played on Red Sox teams alongside Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Dom DiMaggio, Joe Cronin, and Johnny Pesky.
Ted Williams called Doerr, who was a nine-time All-Star, "the silent captain of the Red Sox" and he was regarded as one of the best defensive Second Basemen of his generation. In fact, in 1948, Doerr set an American League record by successfully fielding 414 balls without making an error.
Doerr was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 and his number 1 was retired by the Boston Red Sox on May 21, 1988.
Below are four more cards that Mr. Doerr has signed for me through the mail over the last two years.
Who is this? Former Washington State Cougars, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Drew Bledsoe. What is this? An autograph card from 1993 Topps. Where'd I get it? My wife and I got this card, along with the 1993 Score card (below), signed by Drew Bledsoe after his induction into the New England Patriots Hall-of-Fame in September 2011. How much did it cost? I think I got both cards for about 10 or 20 cents each at a card show.
Why is this so special? Drew Bledsoe was my favorite player as a child growing up in Massachusetts in the 1990s. In many ways, the history of the New England Patriots can be divided into the Pre-Bledsoe Era and the Bledsoe-Brady Era.
Drew Bledsoe was selected by the New England Patriots with the first-overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft out of Washington State. Drew lead the Patriots to two AFC Championships (1996 and 2001), was a Four-Time Pro Bowler (1994, 1996, 1997, and 2002) and Two-Time All-Pro Selection (1994 and 1996).
When he retired after the 2006 season, Bledsoe ranked Fifth All-Time in completions, Seventh All-Time in Passing Yards, and Thirteenth All-Time in Touchdowns.
After his retirement, Bledsoe has spent his time working on his Parenting With Dignity campaign and founding the Doubleback Winery and the Bledsoe Capital Group.
Drew was very personable and interactive with the fans both before and after the Hall-of-Fame Induction Ceremony. He talked casually with fans while signing dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) of autographs. These two cards will always have a very special place in my collection.
Who is this? Oakland Raiders, and former New England Patriots, Defensive Lineman Richard Seymour. What is this? An autograph rookie card from 2001 Topps. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Richard turning Patriots Training Camp in 2005 or 2006. How much did it cost? I got this card out of a pack of Topps in 2001.
Why is this so special? Richard Seymour was the Patriots First-Round Draft Pick, sixth-overall, in the 2001 NFL Draft from the University of Georgia. A six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection, Richard Seymour was a member of all three New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship teams.
Standing at 6-feet, 6-inches tall and weighing a solid 310 pounds, Richard was the largest human being that I had ever seen in my entire life; but that didn't stop me, and my sister, from going back for proverbial seconds with the happy-to-sign Seymour. In fact, I remember that I got two cards and a photo signed and she got two cards signed before Richard got wise to us and politely shut us off.
I find it interesting that Seymour seemed to sign all of the cards off-center and to the right side of the card. While the signature still looks nice, it does appear to be a bit smushed into the corner.
Who is this? New York Mets Pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps. Where'd I get it? Before a Buffalo Bisons' game against the Pawtucket Red Sox this spring. How much did it cost? I got this card when I bought 2010 Topps Series two last year. I think I paid about $15 for the whole set.
Why is this so special? Jenrry was the Mets top pitching prospect before undergoing Tommy John Surgery to repair his torn medial collateral ligament in his elbow last spring.
Despite an apparent language barrier, Jenrry was very nice about signing autographs for fans before the game. In fact, Jenrry was generous enough to sign the 2010 Topps card, a 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Card, a 2010 Bowman card, and a 2010 Topps T-206 card for me.
What makes Mejia so interesting to me is the fact that, according to his Wikipedia page, he did not begin playing baseball until he was 15 years-old, when he learned that it was a way to get rich. Then, just a few years after picking-up the sport, Mejia was signed as an International Free Agent by the Mets in April 2007 and made his Major League Debut just three years later, on April 7, 2009.
Although Mejia missed most of the 2011 season and could miss the start of the 2012 season, I sincerely hope that he will make a complete recovery and continue his remarkable baseball journey. Few players have accomplished so much in such a short time playing a sport, and only time will tell what Mejia is capable of doing when his elbow is back to 100% health.
Who is this? Boston Red Sox Catcher/Slugger Ryan Lavarnway. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Bowman Topps 100 insert set. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Ryan when he was a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in July 2011. How much did it cost? I think I paid 25 cents or so for it at a card show last spring. Oddly, I have seen far fewer of Lavarnway's Topps 100 cards than just about any other card. I am not sure if it is a secret short-print or someone is hoarding them, but I just don't see as many of them as I expect to.
Why is this so special? Ryan Lavarnway might be the best slugger to come out of the Red Sox farm system in a generation. A sixth-round pick out of Yale in 2008, Ryan has quickly risen through the ranks, smashing Minor League pitching at every stop.
Ryan hit 21 homeruns with the Greenville Drive in 2009; 22 homeruns with the Salem Red Sox and Portland SeaDogs in 2010; and 32 homeruns with the Portland SeaDogs and Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011, before making his Major League debut with Boston, where he smashed two more.
But, while his bat has been impressive, the lingering question with Lavarnway has been: where he will play defensively? Originally an outfielder in college, Lavarnway moved behind the plate at Yale to boost his draft stock. And, although his catching skills have improved since joining the organization, many scouts still doubt that he will ever be more than a below-average catcher, defensively.
Ryan's immediate future is likely to be determined by two factors: Will the Red Sox offer up the cash to re-sign David Ortiz this off-season? And how long will Jason Varitek continue to play with the Red Sox? If either of them depart, Ryan could find himself with Boston on Opening Day 2012.
Ryan has a very nice and consistent signature, which shows works well on this card. He is usually a better-than-average signer before and after games, and definately worth trying to get if he returns to Triple-A to begin the 2012 season.
Who is this? Minor League journeyman Ray Chang, most recently of the Rochester Red Wings.
What is this? An autograph card from 2009 Bowman Chrome. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Ray after a Rochester Red Wings v. Pawtucket Red Sox game at McCoy Stadium in September 2011. How much did it cost? I got this card for about five cents at a local card show last year, when Ray was playing for Boston's Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs.
Why is this so special? Ray was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise forgetable 1-and-2 Chinese WBC team in 2009. In China's three games, Ray went 5-for-11 at the plate, including a homerun. That performance brought two critical facts to light: Chang was the only member of China's WBC team to have professional baseball experience in the United States, and that he was an American citizen, born in Kansas City, Missouri.
Now twenty-eight years-old, Raymond Bo-Shue Chang has played seven seasons of Minor League baseball with affiliates of the San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, and Minnesota Twins. In 2010, playing for Boston's Double-A affiliate, Chang was a member of the Eastern League All-Star team and was named the Best Defensive Third Baseman in the Eastern League by Baseball America.
Whether or not Change ever makes it to the Major Leagues is unclear, but he will always have a tiny spot in baseball history as the lone American that helped the Chinese WBC team scratch out some level of dignity in 2009.
Chang was nice enough to sign his 2009 Topps Chrome WBC card for me, too.
Who is this? Patriots' Wide Receiver Wes Welker. What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Upper Deck Draft Edition. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Wes Welker during Patriots' training camp in 2008. How much did it cost? I think I paid about 50 cents for the card in 2008, which is far more than I would spend on it now, but seemed like a good deal at the time.
Why is this so special? From a signature perspective, this autograph is crap. Wes Welker's signature is essentially W W 83.
Nevertheless, Welker has been a tremendously productive and important part of New England's offense since he joined the team in 2007. Although the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl during his time with the team, he has become Tom Brady's go to receiver and was a Pro Bowler in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Hopefully the Patriots can reverse their playoff skid in 2011 and finally find their way back to the Super Bowl. If they do so, there is no doubt that it will be due, at least in part, to the consistent excellence of Wes Welker.
Who is this? Boston Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill. What is this? An autograph mini card from 2007 Topps Allen and Ginter's. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Rich earlier this season when he was a member of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. How much did it cost? Not much. I found this card in a nickel or dime box at my local card show in Mansfield, MA.
Why is this so special? Rich Hill is one of the nicest players that I have had the pleasure to meet since I began collecting baseball autographs three years ago. Born in Boston, MA, Hill attended Milton High School before attending the University of Michigan. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 2002 draft and made his Major League debut with the Cubs in 2005.
Now 31 years old, Hill has played parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues with the Cubs, Orioles, and Red Sox. His best seasons came in 2007 as a member of the Cubs when he finished eighth in the NL with 8.446 strikeouts per 9 innings and a WHIP of 1.195. Unfortunately, Hill struggled in 2009, forcing his return to the Minors.
Hill appeared to have turned things around with the Red Sox out of the bullpen in 2010 and 2011, not allowing a single run in 12 innings pitched while striking out 15 batters. However, just as things appeared to be getting better, Hill was found to have an elbow injury that required season-ending Tommy John Surgery early in the 2011season.
Hopefully Hill will recover quickly and be back to the Boston bullpen in 2012.
Who is this? Pittsburgh Pirates Second Baseman Neil Walker.
What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps Series 1.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Neil when he was a member of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians before a game against the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2010.
How much did it cost? I got the card when I bought the 2010 Topps Series 1 set.
Why is this so special? Neil Walker had a tremendous 2010 season that earned him a place on both Baseball America's and Topps Major League All-Rookie teams. He has been solid at the plate and in the field and is a major reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates have regained respectability.
Who is this? Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
What is this? An autographed black bordered mini card from 2007 Topps Allen & Ginters.
Where'd I get it? Jarrod signed this card for me before a game last year when he was playing for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.
How much did it cost? I got the card for 15 cents at my local card show last July. I bought it because I love mini cards and I buy every short-printed mini card that I can find for less than 25 cents.
The buy was made even better when the Red Sox acquired Saltalamacchia about a week or so later and he was assigned to the Paw Sox.
Why is this so special? If he only had one at bat in his entire career, Jarrod would still have a special place in baseball history by holding the record for the longest last name in the history of MLB with 14 letters. Fortunately for Salty and the Red Sox, he has really put things together this year and is a major reason why the Red Sox are in first place in the American League East as they go into September.
The card looks great, and autographs always look fantastic on Allen & Ginter's. Jarrod was very friendly and a great signer when he was in Pawtucket last season and I hope that he continues to find success with Boston.
Who is this? Former New England Patriots wide receiver, cornerback, and punt returner Troy Brown.
What is this? An autograph card from 1999 Pacific.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed at Patriots' training camp in 2001 or 2002.
How much did it cost? I got it when I bought the team set in 1999. I probably paid $5 or so for the set.
Why is this so special? Other than Tom Brady, Troy Brown was perhaps the most important player on the New England Patriots' teams that won three Super Bowls between the 2001 and 2004 seasons.
Drafted in the eighth-round of the 1993 draft out of Marshall, Brown spent most of his first four seasons as a Special Teams ace before having a breakout 1997 season when he had 41 receptions and 6 TD catches.
Brown had his best statistical season in 2001, when he caught 101 passes, including 5 touchdowns on his way to a Pro Bowl and All-Pro season.
In 2004 the Patriots turned to their leader to take on a new challenge: playing cornerback. Ravaged by injuries in the secondary, Brown may have helped save the Patriots' season, intercepting three passes and recovering two fumbles.
Brown retired as the Patriots' all-time leader in receptions, was a member of the New England Patriots 50th Anniversary Team, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and is one of the most beloved players in the history of New England sports.
Who is this? Red Sox Third Base Prospect Garin Cecchini.
What is this? An autograph card from 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Garin before the New York-Penn League Short-Season A-League All-Star Game in Lowell, MA on Tuesday.
How much did it cost? I bought this card for about ten cents a year ago.
Why is this so special? Garin was the Red Sox fourth-round pick in 2010 and he received a $1.31 million signing bonus to lure him away from attending LSU. A former member of the Team USA 18U squad, Cecchini lead the team in doubles and slugging percentage during the Pan Am Junior Championships, besting teammates Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Garin made his professional debut this season for the Red Sox Short-Season Affiliate Lowell Spinners. In 32 games, Cecchini batted .298 with 3 HR, 12 2B, 23 RBI, 12 SB, and an .898 OPS, impressive enough to earn a spot on the NYPL American League All-Star Team. Unfortunately, Garin injured his forearm on July 23 and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Nonetheless, even in his limited time, Cecchini demonstrated the above-average tools that made him a Top 10 Prospect for the Red Sox before the 2011 season and he should begin next season with the Low-A Greenville Drive.
Garin signed a total of six cards for me. Knowing that he is religious and that he used religious themes for his 2009 Upper Deck Team USA Inscriptions cards, I asked him to include a bible verse on some of the cards. He signed my 2011 Bowman card with Psalm 83:18 (That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.), telling me that he has that verse on his glove.
I had heard rumors that Garin was a tough sign, but he was very friendly and talkative with fans.
Who is this? Newark Bears manager Tim Raines What is this? An autographed 1987 Topps card Where'd I get it? Raines signed it before a Bears game last week How much did it cost? 1987 Topps cards seem to spontaneously appear, and the autograph itself was free
Why is this so special? Tim Raines is a seven-time All-Star, and was the MVP of the 1987 game. He has three World Series rings (two with the Yankees and one with the White Sox) and had his number retired by the Montreal Expos. Raines has 808 career stolen bases, fifth all-time in major league history.
I don't think that Raines really enjoys signing autographs, but he does it for the handful of fans that come to Newark Bears games. His signature is impressively legible.
Who is this? Cleveland Indians starting Pitcher Justin Masterson.
What is this? An autograph card from 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed through the mail by Justin in August of 2009, right after he was traded from the Red Sox to the Indians.
How much did it cost? I paid 50 cents for the card, plus postage.
Why is this so special? This is the first card that I ever got signed through the mail and kicked-off my Justin Masterson super-collection. Justin is/was (I havn't sent him anything since Sping Training and he has had a monster year in 2011) a great signer through the mail and seems like a very decent and down-to-earth king of person.
The A&G cards look fantastic signed and this autograph helped start my hobby of getting cards signed through the mail.
Who is this?Tiger Woods. What is this? An autograph ticket from the 2005 Deutsche Bank Championship Gold Tournament. Where'd I get it? I got this ticket signed by Tiger during his practice round on August 31, 2005. How much did it cost? My uncle got the ticket for me, and I think that it cost around $20. Why is this so special? Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all-time and his autographs is one of the most difficult and valuable signatures of any modern athlete. While I do not support some of the decisions that he made off the course, watching Tiger golf was one of the best sports memories that I have ever had.
Tiger's signature is clear and legible and looks great on the ticket that features him and Vijay Singh. This is one of, if not THE, best autographs that I have ever got in-person and is one of the centerpieces of my collection.
Who is this? Pitcher/Designated Hitter Brian Johnson of the Florida Gators, Team USA, and Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League. What is this? An autograph card from the 2010 Topps Team USA Box set. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Brian before a Yarmouth-Dennis game against the Brewster Whitecaps last week. How much did it cost? I bought the whole set for around $9.
Why is this so special? It isn't everyday that you find a pitcher who is also one of the best hitters in college baseball. Brian has been an important part of Florida's College World Series teams in 2010 and 2011 and is one of the most interesting prospects in the 2012 draft.
While his signature does leave something to be desired, the blue ink does look sharp and he was nice enough to sign three cards for me (two 2010 Topps and one Bowman Platinum).
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.