Saturday, December 31, 2011

1988 Topps Rich Gedman

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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2009 UD SP Authentic Josh Reddick

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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2010 Topps Ross Detwiler

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.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2010 Sage HIT Brandon Spikes

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.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2008 Donruss Threads Carl Erskine

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.

2001 Upper Deck Golf Brad Faxon

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.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2009 TriSTAR Obak Junichi Tazawa

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.