Monday, April 30, 2012

Proud of my Boy!

Chris volunteered to be the catcher for his Pee Wee team (machine pitch) the other day.  I was impressed that he took the initiative to walk up to the coach and ask him if he could be the catcher.  Chris throws left handed, so it should be interesting to see how he fares.
I took a couple shots of him with my cell phone and the above one took pretty well.  I might send it to Topps and have them make one of those custom baseball cards with it.
They don't make catcher's mitts small enough for his hands, so he will have to make do with the glove that he has until he grows some.  I will also have to find a glove for him online since he throws left handed and most stores don't carry those gloves.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Busted a Box of 2011 Topps Marquee, Again

We got our state tax check in, finally, so after buying the wife some new clothes and a video game for my son, I was allowed to make a couple purchases at my LCS today in celebration of a nice Orioles walkoff win.  I bought a box of 2012 Gypsy Queen (which will be shown later) and a pack of 2011 Topps Marquee.  The Topps Marquee was my wife's idea, but I picked it up anyway in hopes of pulling something sweet.  Yeah, it wasn't quite that, unless you are a Twins or Mets fan, but I did get an Oriole also.
The big hit was this Johan Santana 4pc jersey (one of which is a nice patch) numbered 165/199.  Not bad... but not worth the price tag.  Oh well, I can sell it, I think.  I have a card show coming up that I think will help me sell this, so we'll see.
I did get an Oriole card that I was looking at for a while on Ebay.  I'm glad I didn't buy it already.  Thing is, it really isn't the most flattering photo of the legendary Brooks Robinson.  He looks a bit old in the photo.  Oh well.  It's still Brooks and I'm glad to have it.

I don't think this pack was quite worth the amount I paid for it, but oh well, it was the thrill of pack busting.  I got that sweet Hank Aaron titanic threads last time, so I was bound to get a semi-clunker this time.  Oh well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hall of Fame SIgned Baseball - Joe Sewell

It sure has been a while.  I have finally knocked another Hall of Famer off of my want list.  My 64th Hall of Fame signed baseball is that of Joe Sewell, the hardest player in history to strike out.  He once played an entire season and struck out only 3 times.  WOW.
Sewell, born in 1898 and died in 1990 played in the majors from 1920 to 1933 for the Indians and Yankees.  He won the World Series with the Indians in 1920 and with the Yankees in 1933.  I did a Hall of Fame Spotlight post on him on January 2, 2011, which you can read here.  I also discussed a signed Hall of Fame postcard of his in this post.  Finally, I discussed Sewell again in a post on a 1922 E-120 American Caramel card that can be seen here.

Sewell was an amazing player who, at first glimpse, doesn't blow anyone away with his numbers.  His strikeout numbers are epic, though, and deserve recognition.

Some other random thoughts on Sewell:

  • He is the first player I have a signature of that was born in the 1800s.
  • He is the only player I have so far who played on a regular season team with Babe Ruth (as far as I know).
  • He now holds the distinction of representing the oldest World Series champion of which I have a signature from (1920).
  • He also represents the oldest season debut for any player whom I have a signature of (1920).
  • 1920 was the year that my grandfather was born (he would have been 92 this year).
I just thought some of those random facts were interesting.  I hope you all enjoyed seeing this signature, as I was excited to finally add another to the china cabinet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy 95th Birthday, Virgil Trucks!

Today marks Virgil Trucks' 95th birthday.  I hope that everyone who reads this blog takes a minute and sends Mr. Trucks some birthday wishes.  He is probably the best TTM signer out there and a darn good fellow as well.
For his birthday, I sent him a card with a long letter, plus a little something for his church.  I thought about sending something for him as well, but I struggled with what exactly I would send.  So, I decided that it would be a good idea to just send something in his honor to his church.  He has definitely been good to me and to Chris, so we wanted to return the favor as best we could.  I even had Chris sign the card.

So, Happy Birthday, Mr. Trucks, and I hope you see many more!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ebay Pickup - Buck O'Neil Signed Baseball

I finally got a signed baseball that I have been wanting for a long time (since the first time I watched Ken Burns' "Baseball").  I picked up this Buck O'Neil signed baseball off of Ebay for $70.00.  It is PSA/DNA authenticated.  The free shipping was nice, too.

O'Neil was a former Negro Leaguer, coach and ambassador or baseball.  He was the first African-American coach in the majors.  He passed away at the age of 94 in 2006, not too long after he was denied entry into the Hall of Fame when a special committee was appointed to research and honor past Negro Leaguers who had been passed over.  The committee allowed for 17 former players to be inducted, but O'Neil wasn't one of them.  I think, given all that he contributed to the game, he should one day be enshrined in the Hall.  That is, of course, my opinion, but I doubt you will find too many people who would disagree.  Sometimes it is a lot more than sheer numbers that gets someone inducted, but the process is in place for a reason.

I'm really glad to add this ball to my collection as it is definitely one non-Hall of Famer that I really was looking to acquire.  As it stands, I have several signed baseballs from some prominent Negro Leaguers, including O'Neil, Buck Leonard, Monte Irvin, Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron.  I want to travel to Kansas City one day and visit their museum.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Mail From Ryan - Orioles Cards

Did I mention how awesome Ryan was?  You know, the awesome dude from "O No Another Orioles Blog?"  He's a hell of a guy.  He sent me a good bit of Orioles cards that I didn't already have in my collection.
This 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Nick Markakis auto is awesome!  It is an on card auto and looks great in person.  I was so amazed that I got it (even though he told me a while ago that he was going to send it to me).
Hey, look!  A Cal Ripken card that I didn't already have.  NICE!  I really like this one.  I don't know how those got by me.  I believe this is a 2010 Topps Wal Mart Exclusive Chrome Ripken.  Very nice indeed.
Here is a Cal that I don't think I had already, but I'm not sure.  It is a 1996 Leaf Limited Ripken.  It scanned really well and looks very sharp.
Here is a 2011 Topps Marquee Eddie Murray.  I don't have very many Orioles from this set at all.  Ryan also sent a Jim Palmer from that set.  I need to go ahead and get the Brooks and Cal cards also.
Finally, here is a 2011 Topps Lineage Brooks Robinson standup.  I really like this card, simply because of the bold colors and how they pop off of the computer screen.  Very awesome card.  I need to get to the card shop and get a bunch of top loaders and penny sleeves so I can add all of these (and a huge stack I've been amassing lately) to my PCs.

Thanks so much for the cards, Ryan.  Again, you're an awesome dude, and I really appreciate it!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lots of Mail From Ryan Part One - Some Orioles IP Autos

Ryan from "O No Another Oriole Blog" is a heck of a guy.  He just purchased a new house (Congrats man!) and is purging some Orioles stuff and was kind enough to send some my way.  There was so much stuff that I had to break it up into multiple blog posts, so here we go.

This first post concerns some of the in person autos he sent my way.  The first of which is the below Oliver Drake signed baseball.  I believe I traded this ball to Ryan at Fan Fest this January for a Joe Mahoney signed ball.  I kind of regretted trading the ball away, but at the time my buddy Ryan needed it, so I wanted to make sure he was happy, first.  Little did I know that the ball would be back in my collection a few months later.
Drake is a mid-level prospect for the O's at the moment, but I'm hoping he can turn it up and get on their radar.  With Matusz's struggles, Tsuyoshi Wada's elbow issues, etc, The Orioles need more pitching depth in the minors.  If Drake can have a solid year at AA Bowie, he might work his way onto the 2013 roster.  Only time will tell.
Here is a signed 2010 Topps RC of Jake Arrieta.  Jake is off to a decent start to 2012, after having bone chips removed from his elbow.  Apparently he is pitching pain free for the first time since he played in college.  I expect a good year from Jake, if he can keep his ERA down.  I wouldn't be surprised if he wins 15 games this year.  We'll see!
Brad Bergesen is struggling at AAA Norfolk.  He can be a pretty effective pitcher if he can get his sinker going.  I definitely like Bergy and hope he turns it around and makes it back to the big club this year.
Of all the young pitchers that the Orioles have stockpiled thae second most disappointing (aside from Matusz) has to be Chris Tillman.  He is still 24, so there is time for him to get it together, but he really needs to get on the fast track.  Tillman has the stuff, but not the command.  He also might not have the mental makeup as of yet to be a major contributor to the rotation.  Here's to hoping he becomes what all the scouts and front office types saw in him.
Finally, the last IP auto Ryan sent was this Mike Bordick signed 2000 Upper Deck.  Bordick might be one of the most underrated shortstops ever.  Bordick, until this season, was the only major leaguer to hail from the State of Maine (from what I heard on a MASN broadcast).  He was a solid defensive shortstop who was brought into Baltimore to replace an aging Cal Ripken at shortstop when the Iron Man was moved to third base.  I met Bordick in Norfolk in 2010 and he was really nice.  He now does commentary on select Orioles' broadcasts on MASN.

Thanks so much for all of the awesome stuff, Ryan.  I don't think I will ever be able to repay you, but I'll definitely try.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trading With Eutaw Street Cardboard

I got this SWEET Luis Aparicio card in the mail yesterday from Kirk over at Eutaw Street Cardboard in exchange for a Ronny Paulino Topps Stadium Club auto.
The Paulino card was nice, but I think this one is a bit nicer.  It is a 2001 Upper Deck Cooperstown Collection bat relic.

Aparicio played only 5 seasons in Baltimore, and most of his career in Chicago, but he was a key member of the Orioles and won a World Series with them in 1966.  Actually, that was the only World Series that he won.  I get it though, he played a lot of years for the White Sox, so I understand him going into the Hall with them.

Thanks for the card, Kirk.  It is really awesome and I definitely appreciate it!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Some Orioles in The Mail From Nick

I got a nice little package in the mail the other day from Nick over at The Baseball Dime Box.  I have to say, his blog is one of the best newer blogs around.  For someone so young, his writing style is top notch.  I try to keep up with his blog, but man, he writes a TON!  So, if you haven't checked out Nick's blog, please do so, it is very good!
Nick sent me a stack of Orioles cards that he has found in various dime boxes around local shows and flea markets.  The highlight of which is this 2009 Topps 206 mini Nolan Reimold RC.  I honestly don't think I had this Nolan, so it was a welcome surprise.
I also got this 2012 Topps Opening Day Nick Markakis.  Honestly, I completely forgot about Opening Day.  I need to look and see if Nolan has a card in that set.

He sent me some other Orioles too, like Rodrigo Lopez (who is still around, by the way), Jay Gibbons, kevin gregg (booooo), Marty Cordova, etc.  Thanks for the cards, Nick.  Your blog is awesome.  You are awesome.  I plan on sending out some more stuff to you sometime soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thoughts on 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen

Last year, I only opened two or so packs of Gypsy Queen before it disappeared from shelves.  So, when I saw that 2012 Gypsy Queen was out, I had to head over to the LCS and pick up a few packs.  They were selling packs for $4.50 and boxes for $125.  I picked up 5 packs.  I didn't get any crazy pulls, as far as I know.  I got a green mini and a black mini.
I did pull an Oriole.  I always enjoy pulling Eddie Murray cards, so this one is a nice addition to the collection.
I also liked the Sliding Stars cards that I pulled.  I got this one and Starlin Castro.  I thought they were really cool looking, especially this Jemile Weeks.

In all, I think Gypsy QUeen is a solid offering from Topps.  I have grown a bit complacent with Allen and Ginter.  Maybe it is time to retire that brand and do Gypsy Queen or some other vintage type (maybe American Caramel or Playball).

If they are still available, I might pick up some more of them.  If not, I'll be looking online to get the Orioles that I need, that's for sure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some Mail From Scott

I haven't gotten a whole lot of mail lately, but I've made up for it with some cool events.  I did, however, get some mail yesterday from my good buddy Scott.  He sent me an assortment of Orioles, some Jim Thomes, a couple Tim Lincecums for Chris and an Edgardo Alfonso for some reason.  Maybe he thought he was an Oriole.
I like this 2005 Donruss Greats Steve Stone.  I also have the Bob Feller from this set.  I think this set might warrant a deeper look at some point.  The cards look pretty good.
I also like this 2007 Upper Deck Brian Roberts.  I busted a box or two of this when it first came out, so I'm sure I had the card, but it still is an awesome one.  I can't wait til Roberts makes his comeback.  It should be sooner than later.

Thanks for the cards Scott.  I also appreciated the nice letter.  You make it really easy to send you stuff.

April 14, 2012 Hickory Crawdads vs Asheville Tourists

Since I knew I would have to get up early Sunday to go to the race with my dad, I decided to head to my parents' house on Saturday.  I called up my little brother and asked him if he would want to go to a minor league game with me, he said he would, so I checked the schedule and saw that the Hickory Crawdads were playing at home on Saturday night.  Hickory is about an hour away from Mom and Dad's, so it was a pretty easy choice.  Plus, it helped me add a new minor league park to my list.
L. P. Frans Stadium is the home of the Crawdads, the A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.  I also got to meet my brother's girlfriend and invited her along at well.
There weren't a lot of people there, even though they were giving away Eric Church bobbleheads.  We got there about 10 minutes before gametime, so we missed out on the bobbleheads.  Sorry Dodgerbobble.
Hickory has a pretty nice field.  It reminded me of Bowie for some reason.  The backdrop was nice, save for the Pepsi warehouse behind the right field wall.  I bet it looks pretty out there in the fall when the leaves are changing.
The Crawdads held an autograph session after the game, so I let Chris go down on the field so he could get the ball I bought him signed.  He got me a South Atlantic League ball from a little girl who caught a foul ball by trading one of the brand new Rawlings OLB balls that I had brought with me.  I guess she was looking for something prettier than the foul ball she caught.  Oh well, I thought it was a good trade!
So, here is Chris with his signed baseball.  He did get some compliments on his awesome overalls, which makes him look so cute.  As far as my brother and his girlfriend, I took an embarrassing photo of my brother eating a hot dog, but I don't want to embarrass him more than I already have, so I will keep that picture to myself.  Maybe I'll publish it in his senior yearbook a few years from now....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thoughts From the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals

When I called my mom on Tuesday to tell her that I met Cal Ripken, she made mention that my dad was taking my niece to Z-Max Dragway this weekend for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.  She said that Dad had said how nice it would be if I could come along with Christopher.  Initially, I told her that I didn't think I could go, since we would be getting home so late Sunday night with Chris having school today.  I called her back Wednesday and told her that I thought about it and we would go, regardless of what time we got home.  My thinking was, I hardly ever get to hang out with my dad because the both of us are so busy.  Plus, I thought it was a great idea to have Chris do something with his Paw Paw as well.

So, we all got up early Sunday morning and made the hour-hour and a half drive to Charlotte from my parents' house.  I stayed over the night before, having gone to a minor league game with my little brother.

When we got to the track, we made our way to the ticket office, planning on getting Reserved Seats for $55.00.  As we made our way to the line, a man stopped my dad and handed him 4 Reserved tickets (since he saw that there were 2 kids with us).  Turns out, they had friends who couldn't make it and decided to hand them to someone with kids.  Man, were we lucky!

We made our way into the racetrack and walked around for a while, taking in the sights.  Dad wanted to stop and talk to John Nobile, father of Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile, since Dad knows him from way back to when they both ran the IHRA tour, Dad in Pro Modified and John in Pro Stock.  John is a really great guy, who talked to me just as much as he talked to my dad.
John had Vincent come out and talk to us as well, and Chris and I got both of their autographs on Vincent's 'hero card.'  You can barely see John's signature on the right in silver Sharpie.

 Here are John Nobile and my dad chatting before the race.  We hung out there for a good 15-20 minutes.  The Nobiles were really friendly and offered for us to come and chat with them anytime.  Chris and I actually took them up on it after the first round of eliminations when Chris saw Vincent chilling out on his golf cart.  Vincent was really good with kids.
 I took this shot before the first round of eliminations when Chris got his autograph.  The thing I really respect about Vincent Nobile is that he is only 19 and goes to college full-time.  He has his class schedule structured to support his race schedule, but he was due to fly back to New York this morning at 6AM.  That's a lot of hard work, but I'm glad he is able to manage and follow his dream.
After we were done chatting with the Nobiles, Dad, Grace, Chris and I made our way around the pits.  I had to take some pictures of a lot of the cars I haven't been able to see in person, since I hadn't been to a national event since 1998 and I had never been to an NHRA race.
I did get a John Force sighting.  Here he is signing a bunch of stuff as he was heading out to the racer introductions.  We didn't get anything signed by him because his crowd was MASSIVE.  Oh well, I got to see him at least.
Here is the first 4-Wide pass I witnessed.  I'm not going to repeat the one word I said after these cars went down.  Let's just say I'm glad it was loud because my Dad didn't hear it and Chris had his headphones on.  The word rhymed with truck...  It was amazing.  I shot a video, but something happened to it, it keeps starting and stopping like it added extra frames to it.  I need someone with video editing softwar to fix it for me.  Any takers?
Here's Chris' reaction after a couple 4-Wide passes from Top Fuel Dragsters.  He had only seen one top fueler go down a track, and that was a couple years ago at a local track.  This was far different.
I can now say that I saw John Force race in person.  I don't recall ever seeing him at the races I went to as a kid.  So, I'm counting this as the first time seeing him in person.
Here is our new favorite driver, Vincent Nobile, during the first round of Pro Stock.  Vincent would go on to the final round where he was done in by tire shake.  He would wind up finishing third, which isn't bad at all.  We wanted him to win, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Another car/driver that I wanted to see was Doug Kalitta.  His uncle Connie used to tour with Shirley Muldowney in the 1970s and is a drag racing legend.  We didn't get to meet him, which was something I really wanted to accomplish, but I just didn't get lucky.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.
Chris wanted to watch a lot of the Sportsman cars race, so he and I hung out in our seats while Dad and Grace walked around a while.  I thought this picture turned out pretty good.
Here is a good shot of Doug Kalitta doing a burnout.  My camera did a really good job taking the pictures during the event.  I just wish my video did better.
Here is Chris in front of one of the old cars they had on display.  I'm certain he was the only person there rocking the 1989 Scotty Cannon t-shirt.  That shirt is old.
Here is the final round of Pro Stock, which Vincent got 3rd.  Not too bad.  Greg Anderson second Summit car from left) won the race.
Here is the final round of Top Fuel.  Spencer Massey (far left) won, followed by Tony Schumacher.  Doug Kalitta got 4th, I think.

In all, we had a blast, and I really think I'll be heading back to ZMax Dragway in September when they return.  I'm glad I could spend some time with my dad and my son.  Oh yeah, Grace, too.  We now have a new favorite Pro Stock driver, which will make it more interesting for Chris.  Thanks for inviting us, Dad!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Corresponding With The Son of A Former Big Leaguer

I have been reading a book that I bought from Schuyler's bookstore (Merritt Books) about Jimmie Foxx called Jimmie Foxx: The Pride of Sudlersville.  In the book, Foxx's career is discussed through the author's collection of personal interviews with Foxx's family and various newspaper and magazine articles, etc.  One of the players mentioned in the book was Eric McNair, who as a rookie in 1930 won the World Series with Foxx and the Philadelphia A's.
I got a phone call as I was driving to a site one morning from one of the state regulators that I have to work with.  I was wondering why he was calling me from his cell phone, as opposed to his office phone when he informed me he was calling me from his vacation to see his wife's family in Meridian, Mississippi.  He told me that his wife's family was close friends with a man whose father played baseball back in the 30's and had won a World Series with the Philadelphia A's.  He then told me that the man they knew was named Don McNair, Jr., I knew that the player he was talking about was Eric McNair.
McNair (b. 1909 - d. 1942) played in the majors from 1929 to 1942 for the A's, Red Sox, White Sox and Tigers (playing on the 1941 and 1942 Tigers makes McNair a teammate of friend of the blog, Virgil Trucks).  He had 1,240 career hits, 82 home runs and a .274 batting average over 14 seasons.

My friend got me the address of McNair's son, so I decided to take a shot at sending him a letter to see what kinds of stories and information he would be willing to share.  I was pleasantly surprised today when I came home to a large manila envelope full of documents about Eric McNair's playing career.  The above copies of McNair's signature and the vintage photos are all copies that Mr. McNair sent to me for my collection.  He also included a nice letter, which I will relay:

It was nice of you to write and inquire about Dad's MLB career.  Not many folks down home even know abt. him, as a MLB player.  Here in Deep South, football (College Style) Ole Miss, ALA., State, Sou. Miss is King of the Hill.

I was 11 years old and was a batboy for Savannah Indians baseball team, (1947) when he (Dad) had and untimely heart attack & passed away shortly thereafter.  He was back in baseball, after a 13-year playing career in MLB, as a Manager for Connie Mack's AA farm club, in Savannah, GA.  I think he would have eventually made it to Phil. A's as, a third base coach!

I remember some stories, and Foxx (old Double X) who chased The Babe's HR record was a good friend of Dad's.  I have enclosed some memorabilia, especially of J. Foxx for you to have as a keepsake.

I have a 1929 world series ring in a safe deposit box, plus a world series watch that I had restored and gave to my son Eric III for a past Christmas gift.

He could never afford college back then, his parents, Henry McNair and Nettie Roberts-McNair, was an irish immigrant's son and a hard working blue collar employee of Southern RR, In Meridian, MS.  A railroad center at the time!  Actually, Eric was only a rookie in 1930... just 21 years old.

The invite to Japan (1934) ALL AMERICAN TEAM... by the Japanese Imperial Gov't. & YOMARHARI NEWS FOR A MONTH TOUR OF JAPAN...IN NOVEMBER 1934.  Due to Japan's aggression towards China, the USA had a State Dept. ban on Americans going to Japan.  Special diplomatic approval had to be arranged.  Plus, a catcher, MOE Berg, was secretly commissioned by USA Central Intelligence Bureau, to be a Spy in Tokyo, of the Japanese warships in Tokyo Bay!  A book "the catcher was a spy," has been released several years ago!

...selected by Babe Ruth and Connie Mack [the 1934 all American Team] has been recently declared by Leland's Heritage Auction Houses as the greatest barnstorming team of the 20th century.  FOXX, RUTH, GEHRIG, the supreme HOME RUN HITTERS of that era were on [the] team.  Be that it may, ERIC MCNAIR was the invited SS on this team.

...many thanks for the heads up abt. the new release book on Foxx, I shall look it up on Amazon.

Best Regards,

Don E. McNair, Jr.

***I typed most of the letter as he had written it.

Below is a photo from the Japanese tour, with Eric McNair on the left, J. Quinn in the middle and Jimmie Foxx on the right.
Above are some paraphernalia from the Japanese tour.

Above is a newspaper photo of Jimmie Foxx circa 1926.  I love the elephant on the jersey.
Here is a comic that Mr. McNair sent me about Foxx and his pursuit of The Babe's then home run record.

I thought it was really awesome to get all of this correspondence in the mail from Mr. McNair.  I'm sure he enjoys relating the stories he has of his father.  The 1930 A's had a bunch of Hall of Famers on that team.  Along with Foxx were also Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins (for 3 games as a player and most of the season as a coach) and were managed by Connie Mack.

I appreciate Mr. McNair getting back to me and for my friend who turned me toward Mr. McNair for the information.