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Monday, October 18, 2021

TTM Success - Anthony Aliotti

Getting some 2014 Bowman out of my box is always a good thing, since a lot of what I have left is stuff of guys who are no longer playing.  Adding these two signed cards from Anthony Aliotti that he signed TTM was really nice.  the cards turned out great.
Aliotti (b. 1987) was a 15th round pick by the A's in the 2009 June Amateur Draft out of Saint Mary's College (CA).  He played in the A's system from 2009 to 2015, reaching AAA.  He had 821 hits, 15 home runs and a .282 batting average.

I mailed to Aliotti on May 6 and got the cards back on May 22, for a 16-day TAT.

Another TTM Success From Maury Wills

For a while, there was a stack of Maury Wills cards, all together, in one of my boxes.  I had gotten the cards together because Wills was one of the free signers at the 2015 National Card Show.  I ended up getting him to sign a baseball, but in the event they called wild cards on Wills, I wanted to be ready.  They never did call wild cards, and these baseball cards were dumped into a box when I got home.
Recently, I came across the cards, and pulled them so I could send TTM to Wills.  I had kept from sending them when I got my 1987 Topps signed, just in case he bypassed one card for another and leaving the possibility he wouldn't sign my 87.  So, I sent that one solo in 2018 and sent these off this year.  All of the cards came back looking great, and I am glad to add them to my album.

I mailed to Wills on May 10 and got the cards back on May 22, for a 12-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $5.00/card.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

TTM Success - Erik Plantenberg

When I got my boxes from the LCS when it closed, there were a bunch of old Carolina League All Star team sets and some Kinston Indians team sets.  I had pulled the 1994 Donruss shown below, and when I saw Erik Plantenberg was in the Carolina League All Star set, I was excited to finally get around to sending to him TTM.
The cards turned out great, and I was really glad to add the cards to my album.

Plantenberg (b. 1968) played in the majors from 1993 to 1994 and 1997 for the Mariners and Phillies.  He had a record of 0-0 with 16 strike outs and a 4.4 ERA.

I mailed to Plantenberg on May 10 and got the cards back on May 22, for a 12-day TAT.

TTM Success - Chad Curtis

More mid-90s junk was era cards have been removed from my boxes and transferred to my autograph album with this TTM success from Chad Curtis.  He signed my 1996 Pinnacle, which came from a wax box that I busted way back when I was in Illinois for Andrew's graduation (seems like a long time ago, now).
I also got a 1995 Collectors Choice SE and a 1995 Leaf signed.  I busted a lot of 1995 Leaf while searching for Statistical Standouts inserts, and still find the loose cards among stuff here at the house.

Curtis (b. 1968) played in the majors from 1992 to 2001 for the Angels, Tigers, Dodgers, Indians, Yankees and Rangers.  He had 1,061 hits, 101 home runs and a .264 batting average.  He won the World Series 1998 and 1999 with the Yankees.

I mailed to Curtis on May 10 and got the cards back on May 22, for a 12-day TAT.  He signed 3 of 5, keeping 2 of the other cards.

TTM Success - Ernie McAnally

Here are some more early 70s cards that were signed TTM, this time by Ernie McAnally.  The above 1972 Topps is a really sharp card, and his signature is really nice.
This 1973 Topps is a bit off-c entered, but his signature also turned out really well on it.

McAnally (b. 1946) played in the majors from 1971 to 1974 for the Expos.  He had a career record of 30-49 with 351 strike outs and a 4.03 ERA.

I mailed to McAnally on April 26 and got the cards back on May 21, for a 25-day TAT.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Another TTM Success From Bobby Morgan

This 2002 Topps Ticket To History pronotion insert kept popping up in my boxes, so I decided to see if I could get it signed.  I saw that Bobby Morgan played in the 1952 World Series (of which this card is a replica ticket), so I figured he would be as good a subject for the card as any.

Morgan (b. 1926) had one at bat in the '52 series, and did not collect a hit.  The Dodgers would lose the series 4-3 to the Yankees.  Morgan wasn't with the Dodgers when they finally did win the World Series in 1955.

I mailed to Morgan on May 10 and got the card back on May 20, for a 10-day TAT.

TTM Success - Paul Heinrichs

A look at Wikipedia's list of oldest living former MLB players brought Paul Hinrichs to my attention.  I had this 2020 Topps Opening Day Team Traditions and Celebrations card that I wanted to get signed, so I figured I'd send it to him, since he didn't have any cards of his own.

He signed the back of the card in ballpoint pen.  I guess he signed the back because he may have thought the pen wouldn't show up on the front.  Still, I am happy the card got signed.

Hinrichs (b. 1925) played in the majors in 1951.  He appeared in 4 games for the Red Sox.  He holds no win-loss record, had one strike out and a 21.60 ERA.

I mailed to Hinrichs on May 10 and got the card back on May 18, for an 8-day TAT.

Friday, October 15, 2021

TTM Success - Terrell Wade

Here some nice mid-90s cards that I was able to get signed TTM from Terrell Wade.  The above 1995 Collectors Choice SE turned out really well.  These are very colorful cards, and also look very 90s.
I also got a 1997 Upper Deck and a 1996 Score Select signed by Wade.

Wade (b. 1973) played in the majors from 1995 to 1998 for the Braves and Devil Rays.  He had a record of 8-5 with 125 strike outs and a 3.99 ERA.

I mailed to Wade on May 10 and got the cards back on May 17, for a 7-day TAT.  I sent 5 cards and he signed 3.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

TTM Success - Steve Peters

A couple of late 1980s cards were added to my autograph album when I received these two cards signed TTM from Steve Peters.
Getting rid of 1988 Topps Traded or 1989 Topps cards is tough, as times, since they seem to multiply, but they aren't bad sets to get signed.  Each looks really nice, and they are abundant, so if one gets lost in the mail, it isn't too big a deal.

Peters (b. 1962) played in the majors from 1987 to 1988 for the Cardinals.  He had a record of 3-3 with 41 strike outs and a 5.25 ERA.

I mailed to Peters on October 12, 2020, and got the cards back on May 15, 2021, for a 215-day TAT.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

TTM Success - Willie Randolph

Another private signing came through where I was able to get another 1987 Topps signed for my set.  I had been waiting for a Willie Randolph signing for a while, and one finally came up.  I got my card done, and it looks awesome.

Randolph (b. 1954) played in the majors from 1975 to 1992 for the Pirates, Yankees, Dodgers, A's, Brewers and Mets.  He had 2,210 hits, 54 home runs and a .276 batting average.  He was a 6-time All Star (1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1987 and 1989).  He won the Silver Slugger Award in 1980 and his best MVP finish was 15th (AL) that same season.  He won the World Series with the Yankees in 1977.

Randolph managed the Mets from 2005 to 2008.  His managerial record was 302-253 (.544 win %).

He appeared on the 1998 Hall of Fame ballot, but only received 1.1% of the vote.

I mailed to the signing on April 9 and got the card back on May 14, for a 35-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $40.00.

TTM Success - Gary Waslewski

When a TTM subject includes extras, that is something I really enjoy.  Gary Waslewski included this signed photo with the signed cards I got back TTM.  I will add the photo to my signed post card album, which has gotten pretty full.
I got my 3 cards that I had of Waslewski signed, a 1969 Topps, 1971 Topps and 1972 Topps.

Waslewski (b. 1941) played in the majors from 1967 to 1972 for the Red Sox, Cardinals, Expos, Yankees and A's.  He had a record of 11-26 with 229 strike outs and a 3.44 ERA.

I mailed to Waslewski on April 28 and got the cards back on May 13, for a 15-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $5/card.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Another TTM Success From Neil Walker

Back in 2019, I got two nice cards returned TTM from Neil Walker.  I came across these two as I was going through boxes.  I really liked the purple foil 2015 Topps, so I went ahead and sent to Walker again.
I also had this 2014 Topps red foil, and it also turned out well.  I had quite a bit of Walker's cards, but I didn't want to send too many.  I feel like these two were the best ones I had, and they will look cool in my album.

I don't believe I had seen the purple foil 2015 Topps before.  It is a Toys R Us parallel, which I forgot they made.

I mailed to Walker on March 29 and got the cards back on May 13, for a 45-day TAT.

TTM Success - Alejandro Kirk

Another Spring Training TTM success came back for me, this one of Alejandro Kirk.  I got a 2019 Topps Heritage Minors and a 2019 Bowman Draft signed by Kirk.
Kirk (b. 1998) has played in the majors since 2020 for the Blue Jays.  He has 49 hits, 9 home runs and a .259 batting average.

I mailed to Kirk via Blue Jays Spring Training on February 9 and got the cards back on May 13, for a 93-day TAT.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Another TTM Success From Don Mattingly

The plan was simple.  Try to get this 1987 Topps Yankees Leaders card signed by Don Mattingly before I went to the National, so I could get Rickey Henderson while I was there.  I sent one of these cards to Marlins Spring Training in February 2020 (as I had several Spring Trainings before that), then the season was canceled, as was the National.  I sent another card to 2021 Marlins Spring Training.  No luck in a return.  Finally, I saw a private signing pop up with Mattingly, so I decided to send the card off, so it would be back in time for the National.  Of course the card came back signed, but Rickey was not at the National this year.  Oof.  So, I will either have to jump on a private signing for Rickey that just popped up, or try to wait and see if he is at the National in 2022.  Tough decision.  I probably will go ahead and mail it off to the signing and get the card secured in my album so I can cross it off of the list.

I sent to the signing on March 30 and got the card back signed on May 11, for a 42-day TAT.  I paid a fee of... quite a bit... and still have one other Mattingly that I need to get signed.

TTM Success - Connor Mason

This 2009 Upper Deck USA Winning Materials card of Connor Mason has been in my collection since I pulled it from a pack back in 2009.  I finally took a chance on sending it TTM, and was able to get the card back signed.  The card got damaged a bit by the USPS, but in the end, I'm just happy that I can add it to my album.

Mason (b. 1992) played one season at Rice University, where he went 0-1 with 4 strike outs and a 3.00 ERA.  From what I have been able to find online about him, it appears that he missed a lot of time due to injuries.

I mailed to Mason on March 3 and got the card back on May 10, for a 68-day TAT.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

TTM Success - Billy Wynne

This 1971 Topps Billy Wynne is a random card I found in my boxes.  I checked to see if Wynne signed TTM, he did, and I sent the card off.  He's got a pretty nice signature.  The card is also cool due to the airbrushed hat he's wearing/

Wynne (b. 1943) is originally from Williamston, NC, which is a little more than half an hour north of me.  The same town the Perrys (Jim and Gaylord) are from.  He played in the majors from 1967 to 1971 for the Mets, White Sox and Angels.  He had a record of 8-11 with 97 strike outs and a 4.33 ERA.

I mailed to Wynne on April 22 and got the card back on May 10, for an 18-day TAT.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

TTM Success - Al Newman

Another private signing came along with a player that I needed for my 1987 set.  This card of Al Newman turned out well.  That is a really classic Expos uniform on that card, and a whole lot of blue.

Newman (b. 1960) played in the majors from 1985 to 1992 for the Expos, Twins and Rangers.  He had 476 hits, 1 home run and a .226 batting average.  He won the World Series with the Twins in 1987 and 1991.  

I sent to the signing on April 2 and got the card back on May 8.  I paid a fee of $15.00.

Friday, October 8, 2021

TTM Success - Woody Williams

Woody Williams is a player who I had cards set aside to send TTM for quite a while.  Something like 3 or 4 years, I believe.  I finally found a working address and mailed some cards to him and got a nice return.  This 2003 Topps turned out great and is a nice set to get signed.
I also sent off a 1998 Topps, 2000 Topps and 2004 Topps.  All of the cards look great and have made it into my album.

Williams (b. 1966) played in the majors from 1993 to 2007 for the Blue Jays, Padres, Cardinals and Astros.  He had a record of 132-116 with 1,480 strike outs and a 4.19 ERA.  He was an All Star in 2003.  He appeared on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, but received no votes.

I mailed to Williams on April 27 and got the cards back on May 8, for an 11-day TAT.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

TTM Success - Rick Schu

Here is a TTM success from a former Oriole that helped me get a 1989 Topps Big out of my boxes, which was nice.  I had this card of Rick Schu and was really happy to get one of them out, because they're kind of bulky and take up a lot of space.
I also got a 1991 Crown Orioles card signed, which was good.  I have slowly been adding these to my album, and have gotten quite a few taken care of.
I also got a few other cards signed, a 1987 Fleer, 1989 Fleer and a 1990 Topps.

Schu (b. 1962) played in the majors from 1984 to 1991 and 1996 for the Phillies, Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Expos.  He had 386 hits, 41 home runs and a .246 batting average.

I mailed to Schu on April 27 and got the cards back on May 8, for an 11-day TAT.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

TTM Success - Bernie Williams

This 1997 Zenith Bernie Williams is a card that was at the very top of my list of cards I really wanted to get signed and into my autograph album.  I had found it a while back at my former LCS when they allowed me to look through boxes in the back room.  Since then, I was able to get all of the 1997 Zenith cards that they had, but I didn't know that I would be getting them at the time I found this Bernie.

The card is amazing, and frankly, the set is awesome.  There may be one or two cards in the set that I probably wouldn't spend money on to get signed, but most of them have great shots, and would be worth sending off.  So, I put this card aside and waited until I saw a Bernie signing, and when I did, I jumped all over it and sent the card off.

Williams (b. 1968) played in the majors from 1991 to 2006 for the Yankees.  He had 2,336 hits, 287 home runs and a .297 batting average.  He was the 1998 AL Batting Champion.  He was a 5-time All Star (1997 to 2001) and a 4-time Gold Glove Award winner (1997 to 2000).  He won the Silver Slugger Award once (2002).  His best finish in the AL MVP race was 7th (1998).  He won the World Series with the Yankees in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.  He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2012 and 2013, but only received a high of 9.6% of the vote.

I mailed to the signing on March 4 and got the card back on May 8, for a 65-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $50.00.  My good friend, Aidan, spotted the signing and let me know about it right away.

TTM Success - Ben Waldrip

Here is a card that I found in the boxes that I got from my former LCS.  I had looked to see if Ben Waldrip signed TTM as I made a pass through the boxes, and saw that he did.  So, this 2012 Bowman Chrome refractor was sent off for signature.  The card turned out great.

Waldrip (b. 1990) was a 10th round pick by the Rockies in the 2012 June Amateur Draft out of Jacksonville State University.  He played in the minors for two seasons (2012 and 2013), reaching A ball, then went on to play 3 seasons in the independent leagues.  In the minors, he had 79 hits, 13 home runs and a .212 batting average.

I mailed to Waldrip on April 21 and got the card back on May 7, for a 16-day TAT.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

TTM Success - Vladimir Guerrero

There are a handful of cards that, if I see a signing come up, I'll pay the money to get the card signed.  This 1998 Topps Vladimir Guerrero is one of those cards.  The shot is iconic, even though, I'd be hard pressed to say that any iconic cards came out of the late 90s.  Still, this card looks amazing.  I was really glad to get it done, and I still have a handful of other cards that I want to send off, but I have to allocate the money.

I mailed to the signing on February 2 and got the card back on May 7, for a 94-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $50.00.  Well worth it, in my opinion.

Monday, October 4, 2021

TTM Success - Rich Yett

Adding cards to the 1987 Topps album is getting tougher and tougher.  However, when I see that one of the guys I need has been signing TTM, I have cards ready to go.  That's the case with Rich Yett.  I have a box of cards of guys I need, still, and was able to find one of Yett really quick so I could take advantage of him signing.

Yett (b. 1962) played in the majors from 1985 to 1990 for the Twins and Indians.  He had a record of 22-24 with 229 strike outs and a 4.95 ERA.

I mailed to Yett on April 23 and got the card back on May 7, for a 14-day TAT.

TTM Success - Paul Phillips

This 2009 Topps Update gold Paul Phillips card was just floating around in my boxes, so I took a look to see if he signed TTM.  Phillips does, so I sent the card off, and got it back signed TTM not too long after.

Phillips (b. 1977) played in the majors from 2004 to 2010 for the Royals, White Sox and Rockies.  He had 58 hits, 3 home runs and a .262 batting average.

I mailed to Phillips on April 29 and got the card back on May 7, for an 8-day TAT.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

TTM Success - Andy Benes

This TTM success from Andy Benes came with a bonus.  I had sent this 1996 Upper Deck SP that had Andy and Alan Benes on the same card, and Andy got Alan to sign it for me.  I thought that was really cool, and very unexpected.
I had also sent a 1995 Topps and a 1996 Topps.  It's always nice to get some signed 1996 Topps into my album, as I don't have many of them in bulk.

Benes (b. 1967) played in the majors from 1989 to 2002 for the Padres, Mariners, Cardinals and Diamondbacks.  He had a career record of 155-139 with 2,000 strike outs and a 3.97 ERA.  He was an All Star in 1993.  His best Cy Young finish was 3rd in 1996.

I mailed to Benes on April 26 and got the cards back on May 6, for a 10-day TAT.

TTM Success - Codi Heuer

Another 2021 Topps card was added to my autograph album when I got this one back TTM from Codi Heuer.  The card turned out well, and I was glad to get another from this year's flagship set signed.

Heuer (b. 1996) has played in the majors since 2020 for the White Sox and Cubs.  He has a record of 10-4 with 81 strike outs and a 3.56 ERA.

I mailed to Heuer on February 16, via White Sox Spring Training and got the card back on May 1, for a 74-day TAT.

TTM Success - Luke Gregerson

Some fairly recent cards came back TTM with this success from Luke Gregerson.  He signed my 2015 Topps Heritage, which turned out nicely.
I also got a 2013 Topps Update and a 2015 Topps signed by Gregerson.

Gregerson (b. 1984) played in the majors from 2009 to 2019 for the Padres, A's, Astros and Cardinals.  He had a record of 35-35 with 621 strike outs and a 3.15 ERA.  He won the World Series in 2017 with the Astros.

I mailed to Gregerson on March 8 and got the cards back on May 1, for a 54-day TAT.  He signed 3 of the 5 cards I sent.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Another TTM Success From Carlos Delgado

Another private signing popped up for former slugger, Carlos Delgado, so I sent off thid 2001 Fleer EX.  I really like these cards, and was really happy to see it when it came back.  Since this signing occurred, I have sent off another from the set to another big name, and that card came back looking awesome, as well.

I mailed to the signing on March 27 and got the card back on April 29, for a 33-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $40.00.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

TTM Success - Ken Landreaux

Another player I needed for my 1987 Topps set popped up on the private signing list in Ken Landreaux. I'm nearing 700 signed cards for the set, which is pretty exciting.

Landreaux (b. 1954) played in the majors from 1977 to 1987 for the Angels, Twins and Dodgers. He had 1,099 hits, 91 home runs and a .268 batting average. He was an All Star in 1980 and won the World Series in 1981 with the Dodgers. 

I mailed to the signing on April 5 and got the card back on April 29, for a 24-day TAT. I paid a fee of $30.00.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

TTM Success - Jeff Conine

This 1993 Topps card of Jeff Conine is a card that I had been wanting to get signed TTM for some time now.  I had sent one to him when he was signing briefly, but never got it back.  So, when I saw that he was signing via a private signing recently, I went ahead and sent the card along.  It came back looking great, and I am glad I went ahead and got it done.
I also sent this 2016 Bowman Chrome RC Flashback, since I thought it looked pretty cool.  It also turned out great, and was worth sending in.

Conine (b. 1966) played in the majors in 1990 and from 1992 to 2007 for the Royals, Marlins, Orioles, Phillies, Reds and Mets.  He had 1,982 hits, 214 home runs and a .285 batting average.  He finished 3rd in the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year voting, and was an All Star twice (1994 and 1995).  He won the World Series twice with the Marlins, 1997 and 2003.

He appeared on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, but received no votes.

I mailed to the signing on February 23 and got the cards back on April 29, for a 65-day TAT.  I paid a fee of $30.00.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

TTM Success - Matt Crownover

A couple 2015 Bowmans came back signed TTM from Matt Crownover recently.  I like this sky blue refractor.  I can't remember where I got it, but it turned out really well.
I also got Crownover's base card signed.  The cards look good, and can now be filed away in the album.

Crownover (b. 1993) was a 6th round pick by the Nationals in the 2015 June Amateur Draft out of Clemson.  He played in the minors from 2015 to 2018 in the Nationals system, reaching AA.  He had a record of 19-26 with 311 strike outs and a 3.78 ERA.

I mailed to Crownover on April 15 and got the cards back on April 28, for a 13-day TAT.

Monday, September 27, 2021

What a Ride - Looking Back at the 2021 Down East Wood Ducks

While the feelings are still raw, I thought it would be a good time to put down on paper (so to speak) my thoughts on the 2021 Down East Wood Ducks season.  First, a look at the just-completed Low A East Championship Series against Charleston, followed by my thoughts on this squad.
The Wood Ducks got into the Championship Series on the last day of the regular MiLB season after going 4-2 against Charleston and Salem losing to Delmarva Sunday evening.  The Woodies had to sit and wait as the Salem-Delmarva game played out before they knew whether or not they would be advancing to play... Charleston for a best-of-five series.

The Wood Ducks lost the first two games of the series at home, but Chris and I were able to get to both games, and enjoyed seeing our guys.  We hoped that the guys would be able to play til at least Saturday, when I would be able to be off of work and maybe make a trip to Charleston.
With there being uncertainty, we made sure to say our goodbyes to the players that we have met this season.  Not because we didn't have faith that they wouldn't be playing on at least Saturday, but because it wasn't a guarantee that I'd get to Charleston.  You never know, so we wanted to let the guys know how proud we were of them, and thank them for all of the memories they gave Chris and I this season.  He has interacted with this team more than any other Wood Ducks team that has come through here since 2017 (me too, but Chris really bonded with a lot of the guys).  Thomas Saggese came up maybe a month into the season, but always made time to stop and chat with us.
I could tell that Jose Acosta really enjoyed fist bumping Chris before every game.
Chris really enjoyed Nick Lockhart; Nick would chat with Chris at the clubhouse door as Chris would sit on the bleachers right by the door.  They bonded over food, and my ability to pay for hot dogs, apparently.  Nick gave me a big hug after the last game of the Championship Series and thanked me for everything.
Cody's my dude, but Chris loves him, too.  The Wood Ducks did win on Friday, and we surprised the guys by jumping in the car Saturday morning and making the 5-hour trip to Charleston.  I had never been to their stadium before, so it was a new one I could check off of the list.  Cody was excited and surprised to see us, as was the rest of the team (ALL of them!).
Chris had me take a photo with Marc Church, since Church was another of the guys who he would talk to as the relievers went in and out of the clubhouse.
Chris loves Jackson.  There was a decent contingent of Wood Duck supporters at the series in Charleston.  There were a few other season ticket holders and almost all of the staff who were able to make the trip down and support the guys.
The only negative thing I can say about the time in Charleston, other than the final outcome, was how rude the Riverdogs fans were.  I've never been a huge fan of heckling as it is (except for chanting Joba, Joba, Joba during the 2014 ALDS Game 2), but some of the fans were out of line.  Chris told me later that there was one guy talking smack to Brady Smith (above, with Chris).  I'm surprised that Chris didn't say something smart back to them.  Or maybe he did and just hasn't told me.
The Wood Ducks won Saturday night, and forced a Game 5, which was to be played at 5PM.  There was no way that I was going to just up and go home, so when the Woodies sealed the win on Saturday, I went ahead and bought the tickets for Sunday and planned for a very long day.  I slept in as long as I could, but still was wide awake at 8:30am.  We got up and checked out of the hotel and made our way to the Battery in Charleston.
Chris and I spent a lot of time walking around Charleston and enjoying the sites.  I have a photo of me somewhere from 20+ years prior in this very spot when my friend, Todd, first took me on a trip to Charleston.  It was really cool being able to recreate the photo with my son.
I'm looking a bit rough, but did take one photo of myself on the trip.  All of the other pictures I took were of Chris and the ballplayers.  Sorry, Mom.
Sunday's game was upon us, and we made sure the guys knew we were there to support them.  Chris and I genuinely felt like we were a part of this, which was a really cool feeling.

It was really awesome watching the guys get hyped up prior to the game.  I get goosebumps when I watch it and plan to, any time I want to get fired up.  You can tell by watching the two videos that I attached that this team was very close.  It has been evident to Chris and I for a while, now, and like I said before, he and I felt like we were a small part of it, as well.  More than we had felt with any other team that came through here.  That's not to take anything away from those teams, but this one was really something special.

After the Wood Ducks lost Game 5 to a score of 5-2, Chris met up with me by the wall near the dugout as we said goodbye to some of the guys.  He probably wouldn't admit that he teared up, but I'll admit that I did.
The COVID-19 pandemic gypped me out of a season last year, and more importantly, it gypped me out of doing something that I love with my son during a crucial time in his life.  He will be 16 in November, and will be learning to drive, getting a car, and obviously a job.  There's going to come a time when he is going to be off doing his own thing, and not going to games with me.  I saw somewhere "At some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time and nobody knew it..."  That kind of rings true here, too.  Especially when I read more and more on Facebook or wherever of guys I hung out with as a kid who are no longer with us.  The pandemic took a lot of things away from folks, and precious time with Chris was one of the things I realized quickly that it had stolen from me.  I was really glad we took the time to just hang out in Charleston, eat some wings, have some ice cream, and watch a couple of baseball games featuring guys that we have become legitimate friends with.  It was a great trip to cap off an amazing season.
When the season began on May 11 (above), I wasn't sure it would come to completion without any stoppages due to the virus, or some other craziness.  We were able to do some graphing very early on, even though the team was under restriction.
This crowd on May 15 came out to support the Wood Ducks.  I just wish they had more time to prepare for the two Championship Series games at home and had drawn a better crowd.
The team at the end of the season was a good bit different than the one that started the year.  A few of the guys were promoted to High-A Hickory, but a bunch of them were injured and missed the bulk of the season.  I imagine a lot of those guys will be back to stat next season, but even that isn't guaranteed.
The guys that have been here, though, recognized Chris and I pretty early on in our regular spots.  We formed a lot of friendships along the way.  This was the first time I have ever exchanged phone numbers with actual players before... and the ones who did, asked for my number first.
Chris picked out Mason Englert prior to the first game of the season as his guy who he would "follow" all season.  I'd say it worked out.  Funny thing, after the game on Sunday, Mason said "I know you guys are going to follow me when I move on to Hickory... oh wait, I didn't mean that to be weird..."  I assured him, Chris had yelled out "I love you Mason; sorry if that's weird..." across a parking lot, we knew when things got weird.  He laughed and gave us both big hugs.
Chris still hasn't washed this jersey.  He also wore it to the 3 of the 4 games of the Championship Series.
I've only yelled out across an open area "I love you" to one baseball player before this season, and that was to Brooks Robinson at the Hall of Fame.  I also had only one player ever yell back "I love you, too!" (Brooks, of course) before this season.  Cody Freeman gave me a big hug as he was leaving Sunday (and a few other times, as we thought we were saying goodbye last Sunday, and then Wednesday, and then Sunday as they were coming off the field... cut me some slack, he's a great guy), and told me how much he loved us and how much our support this season meant to him.  I also had a message this morning on my Instagram from him asking if we got home safely.  Things like that mean a lot to me.  He also gave me his cleats, which are orange and black (Orio... I mean, Wood Ducks colors...) and are pretty awesome.
Even Luisangel Acuna was happy to see us when we were in Charleston.  I wish I could have spoken to him better, but my high school Spanish that I learned 20+ is pretty bad.  He smiled when he saw us, and fist bumped us as he was leaving the stadium, so hopefully he thinks we are cool.
I think we said goodbye to Mason 17 times, and he got 37 hugs from Chris or some number like that.  Hopefully we will see him in Hickory next season before he moves us to Frisco.
Nick Krauth would stop and talk to us all season, long before we even knew who he was.  He's really funny, and has been awesome to us all season.
I kept waiting for Owen White to say "Alright, alright, alright", as he sounds a lot like Matthew McConaughey.  He would just lean against the fence and chat with Chris.  It is really cool that he is from North Carolina, too.  He was really solid down the stretch, once he came back from his hand injury, and probably won't be at Hickory for long before the Rangers move him to AA.
Gavin Collyer cracked me up more often than not, and really became one of our closest friends on the team.  He even got a team ball signed for me, which he gave to me on Wednesday.  I'm so glad he did, because it will commemorate what turned out to be such a memorable season for Chris and I.  I hope we can see these guys again, but as it is in the minors, your hope is that once the guys move up, they don't come back.  There are a lot of guys on this roster who I think will be in the majors some day.

Thanks for the memories, guys, Chris and I do love you.  Go Wood Ducks.