Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2010 Topps Pro Debut Collin Cowgill

Who is this? Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Collin Cowgill
What is this? A signed 2010 Topps Pro Debut card
Where'd I get it? I wrote to Cowgill at the beginning of July and asked him to sign it; I got it back on Monday.
How much did it cost? I got the card out of a box that cost approximately $30 last winter

Why is this so special? Cowgill came to my attention for his somewhat unusual name. When I looked him up online, I saw that he was having a great year for Reno in the Pacific Coast League. He hit for the cycle in June, and was batting .354 with 13 home runs and 70 RBI in 98 Triple A games when the Diamondbacks called him up.

Last night, he made his big league debut and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Hopefully he has better days ahead of him.

Cowgill has a loopy signature, and not much is readable beyond his initials. The silver pen was an interesting choice. Still, I'm happy to have this autograph in my collection.

Friday, July 22, 2011

1997 Collectors' Choice Tiki Barber

Who is this? Former New York Giants' Running Back Tiki Barber.
What is this? An autograph card from 1997 Collectors' Choice.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed in 2001 when the NFC Champion New York Giants practiced against the New England Patriots at Bryant College in Rhode Island.
How much did it cost? I got the card out of a pack of 1997 Collectors' Choice when I was 9 years-old.

Why is this so special? Tiki Barber is the New York Giants all-time rushing and receptions leader and was a three-time All-Pro running back. Barber shocked many Giants' fans when he chose to retire from football in 2006 after rushing for 1,662 yards and 5 TDs in his final season. However, after four seasons away from football, Barber is attempting a comeback to football for the 2011 season.

What makes this autograph so special is how well Barber signed it. In all of my years of autograph collecting, Tiki's signature is easily one of the best-looking and clear autographs that I have ever seen. It is also memorable because the Giants players were much nicer about signing than the Patriots players, even though we were almost all New England fans.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2010 Topps Pro Debut Miles Head

Who is this? Red Sox minor league First Baseman Miles Head.
What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps Pro Debut.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Miles before the 2010 Futures at Fenway Game between the New York-Penn League Lowell Spinners (Boston) and the Jamestown Jammers (Florida).
How much did it cost? About 25 cents.

Why is this so special? If Miles never made it to the pros, he would still be noteworthy for being one of the best Little League baseball players of his generation. In fact, as a 12 year-old, Miles hit 75 homeruns and later won the Triple Crown at the Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series as a 14 year-old.

Unfortunately, Miles dominance did not continue in High School and he slipped to the Boston Red Sox in the 26th round of the 2009 draft. After a moderately successful 2010 season, Miles has shattered all expectations in 2011. Playing for the Single-A Greenville Drive and Salem Red Sox, Miles has hit 17 homeruns with a .954 OPS in his first 85 games and was elected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

Now, things are looking up for Miles as he continues to slug his way through the minors. If he keeps up his performance for the rest of the year, it will be difficult for scouts and prospectors to ignore this 20 year-old as he charts his path towards Fenway Park.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2004 Topps Total Pete Laforest

Who is this? Quebec Capitales catcher/infielder Pete Laforest
What is this? An autographed card from the 2004 Topps Total set
Where'd I get it? Laforest signed it for me before last night's game between the Capitales and the Newark Bears
How much did it cost? I got it out of a pack in 2004.

Why is this so special? If I didn't lose track of anything, this is the sixth item I've gotten signed for my own collection at a Can-Am League game this year. Most of the guys playing in the league just do not have cards.

Technically, this is not a Pete Laforest card. Sure, it's got his name on the front and his stats on the back - but the guy in the picture is current Camden Riversharks catcher Toby Hall. Not being a big Devil Rays fan, I didn't notice. Fortunately, Laforest was a good sport about it - I imagine he's been asked to sign the card hundreds of times since it came out. Still, it felt a bit awkward.

Laforest played in a handful of games for the Devil Rays in 2003 and 2005, as well as brief stints with Philadelphia and San Diego in 2007. He has 29 major league hits - including 2 home runs - in 68 games.

Laforest was a 2004 Olympian, representing Canada. He also played for his home country in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

There are a lot of overlapping loops in Laforest's autograph. I wonder if it would be less compressed on a larger item.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1993 Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons Greg Legg

Who is this? Lakewood BlueClaws hitting coach Greg Legg
What is this? A signed 1993 Scranton Wilkes Barre Red Barons team set card
Where'd I get it? I wrote to the Legg c/o the BlueClaws at the beginning of July and asked him to sign it. I got it back about a week later.
How much did it cost? I found it in a dealer's dime box at a card show earlier this year.

Why is this so special? Greg Legg played 14 games for the Philadelphia Phillies between 1986 and 1987, but that's not why I remember him.

Legg played for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in each of their first six years of existence, though he only reached the 100 game plateau in two of those seasons. My family had relatives in the Scranton area, and every summer we'd go out to visit. Going to a Red Barons game or two was usually the highlight of the trip. While Legg was never a superstar, you have to admit he's got a memorable name.

Legg retired as a player in 1994, but he remained in the game as a manager and a coach.

Although its a bit small, Legg has a clear and legible autograph.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Chrome Kyle Weiland

Who is this? Boston Red Sox pitcher Kyle Weiland.
What is this? An autograph card from 2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Chrome.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Kyle before a Pawtucket Red Sox game in June.
How much did it cost? I bought the card for 10 cents at a local card show.

Why is this so special? Kyle Weiland made his Major League debut this past Sunday (7/10/2011) against the Baltimore Orioles, but things did not go as planned. In fact, Kyle became the first player to be ejected from his Major League debut since 2008 when he hit Vladimir Guerrero in the fifth inning. Overall, Weiland's debut was a mixed bag. He pitched 3+ scoreless innings, but was tagged for six runs in the second inning.

Hopefully Weiland's debut will just be a minor bump on the road to a long and successful Major League career. Pitching for AAA Pawtucket this year, Kyle has been an International League leader in strikeouts and threw an eight-inning one-hitter against the Rochester Red Wings on June 29th.

Kyle has been a great signer all year. In addition to the 2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Chrome card, Kyle also signed this 2008 TriSTAR Prospects Plus Boston Top Pick Pitchers card. I already had Stephen Fife, a pitcher for Boston's AA Portland Sea Dogs, sign the card and I only need Bryan Price, now in the Indians' organization, to finish-off the card.

Friday, July 8, 2011

2010 Topps Turkey Red Ryne Sandberg

Who is this? Baseball Hall of Famer and current Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Manager Ryne Sandberg.
What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Topps Series 1 Turkey Red.
Where'd I get it? I got the card from a nickel box at a local card show and got it autographed by Ryne Sandberg as he was entering McCoy Stadium for a Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game vs. the Pawtucket Red Sox.
How much did it cost? A nickel.

Why is this so special? Ryne Sandberg is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who is best known for his career with the Chicago Cubs. Sanberg now manages the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the AAA-Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and is often mentioned as a possible Major League manager in the near future.

This autograph is special because it is the first autograph that I have ever gotten from a Baseball Hall of Famer in person and Mr. Sandberg was very nice about signing for the twenty-or-so fans that were waiting for him outside of McCoy Stadium before the game.

I was lucky enough to get four other cards signed by Sandberg the next day inside of the stadium and hope to get a couple more cards signed by him next time that he comes to town.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Mark Cohoon

Who is this? Buffalo Bisons pitcher Mark Cohoon
What is this? An autographed 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition card
Where'd I get it? I wrote to Cohoon c/o the Bisons last month and asked him to sign it.
How much did it cost? The card was about a quarter, and postage was 88 cents.

Why is this so special? Mark Cohoon was a 12th round draft choice in 2008 who has enjoyed some success in the Mets' organization. He got off to a phenomenal start at Class A Savannah last season, earing a 7-1 record with a 1.30 ERA before being promoted to Double A Binghamton. After some early struggles, he rebounded and received the Sterling Organizational Pitcher of the Year award.

Cohoon began 2011 in Binghamton and was later promoted to Triple A Buffalo. Although he has had difficulties there, he was briefly considered for promotion to the majors when R.A. Dickey hurt his foot earlier this season.

Cohoon is not a hard-thrower, but he does have a reputation as a hard worker. He could be a solid, if unspectacular pitcher at the major league level.

Cohoon has simplified has autograph to include just a few letters - I'm not sure if this is to save time or because of the limited space on a baseball card. Nevertheless, it's more readable than many.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2009 Topps David Robertson

Who is this? New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson
What is this? An autographed 2009 Topps card
Where'd I get it? I wrote to Robertson and asked him to sign it during spring training.
How much did it cost? I got the card out of a pack in 2009, and I spent 88 cents for postage.

Why is this so special? Robertson is having a career year for the Yankees, leading some to believe he should have been selected for the All-Star team. I think he was a victim of his teammates' success - there are only so many spots on the team, and they can't all go to Yankees.

That takes nothing away from Robertson's success. In 33.1 innings, he struck out 53 batters while allowing 23 hits and 20 walks. His record is 1-0 with a minuscule 1.08 ERA through Saturday's games.

Robertson is in his fourth year with the Yankees. He pitched in Trenton briefly in 2007 and 2008, but I don't think I ever saw him as a member of the Thunder. He is the brother of former Athletics and Diamonbacks pitcher Connor Robertson.

I'm impressed with Robertson's autograph. It is legible, which is not the case with many current ballplayers. I'm more impressed that he's still taking time to answer fan mail during this fantastic run of success.

Friday, July 1, 2011

2004 Upper Deck Vince Wilfork

Who is this? New England Patriots' three-time Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman Vince Wilfork.
What is this? An autograph card from 2004 Upper Deck.
Where'd I get it? I got this card signed at the Patriots' Training Camp in Foxboro(ugh), MA in 2005. (Normal people spell it Foxboro, snooty residents spell it Foxborough)
How much did it cost? I think I paid about a buck for it on eBay in 2004.

Why is this so special? Vince Wilfork has been one of the best and most important players on the New England Patriots since he was drafted in 2004. Wilfork was on the Patriots Super Bowl winning team in 2004 and has made the Pro Bowl three times. But, what makes Vince even more impressive in my mind is his community involvement and his treatment of fans. While many Patriots stars avoid fans and signing autographs as much as possible, Vince continues to be a great signer during Training Camp and holds many charitable events each year to raise money for Joslin Diabetes Center and The Diabetes Research Center at the University of Miami.

Wilfork's signature is clear and looks nice against his orange University of Miani uniform on the card. Of the handful of Vince autographs that I have, I think that this may be my favorite because it takes up the whole card and does not get obscured by the blue Patriots uniform.