Sunday, October 30, 2011

2010 Topps Daniel Hudson

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.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2004 Score Tedy Bruschi

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.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2008 UD Goudey Bobby Doerr

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

1993 Topps Drew Bledsoe

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.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

2001 Topps Richard Seymour

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.

Friday, October 7, 2011

2010 Topps Jenrry Mejia

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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 Bowman Topps 100 Ryan Lavarnway

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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2009 Bowman Chrome WBC Ray Chang

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.