Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Perhaps the Greatest 'Lefty' of All!

Hey guys, Drew back here! Man, it sure will be tough to follow up yesterday's story, however, I'm going to try. There was one more player on our autograph radar following Cal Ripken Jr. last Saturday, and I almost feel bad for saying that I overlooked the fact that I was meeting him. However, I'm sure I'm not the only person who has overlooked this guy before, because he pitched during a time of pitching dominance. He went down as one of the best left handed pitchers ever, however; and certainly should be recognized more often for his remarkable achievements. Yes, I am indeed talking about "Lefty" himself, Steve Carlton!

Believe me when I tell you, I sure did have to save up for this show! I got a little nervous while waiting in line for Ripken; knowing that Carlton's session was about to end, although I couldn't really do anything about it. The Ripken representatives told us they'd hold our spot in line so I could go run down and get Carlton, but by looking at the line remaining for him, I didn't want to take any chances. So, following Ripken, we all ran downstairs to see if he was still signing, and luckily for us, he was just getting up to conclude the signing when I ran up to him! I handed the JP's Sports guy my ticket and sort of rushed myself into asking Carlton to sign the ball for me. He was kind enough to do so, and although he didn't say a whole lot else, we thanked him for allowing us to get our chance, and he posed for a picture as well.

Fortunately for us, Carlton has one of the best signatures in the Hall of Fame, and I was lucky to get one, with the HOF 94 inscription to go with it! I had this one certified for $6 by JSA as well (they run specials on the players who sign at the shows), and it looks real nice propped up in a ball cube along with my other baseballs! I've been jealous of my friend Mike for years, because we once split a box of 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes, and he pulled a Carlton relic autograph numbered to 10. I loved that card, however now I've got my 1st Lefty auto to match it with! And it feels good! 329 Wins, 3.22 Lifetime ERA, 4,136 strikeouts, and 4 more Cy Young's than the immortal Nolan Ryan? C'MON MAN! Give this man some loving!

I'd love to say that was all for my fantastic card show experience, however I'm not quite done, as you'll see over the next few days! Hope everyone has enjoyed the stuff so far, because I know I certainly have!

See Ya!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meeting the Iron Man.

Hey guys, Drew back here! It was a great day today, as we got to leave school early due to a few inches of snow! I spent most of my afternoon indulging in my latest book for English, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", however I found a little spare time to finally update the design of the blog, and well, write this post! Before I get to it all though, I want to say rest in peace to my dear old blog logo, as it is no longer present on the site. I went with the new Blogger template, and I'm yet to see if it'll actually keep the same template without automatically changing like last time. Let me know if you like what you see with the new layout!

As I may have warned you all a few times, there have been a few big posts planned. Yesterday, I showed you all my experiences with Harold Baines and Sparky Lyle, and I hinted towards two more big names that would each deserve their own respective post. Ladies and gentlemen, I met the Iron Man, Cal Ripken Jr.!

Ripken made his first appearance in White Plains last weekend, and was regarded as "the guy" for the entire show! When he was first announced, I wasn't exactly sure how excited I was, because his price point was, well; ridiculous. However, I ended up deciding that no matter how high the price was, since Christmas helped me fund more towards my show budget; that I would go in and do it. I mean, come on, the guy has an entire baseball LEAGUE in his honor, how could I resist the opportunity to shake his hand?

The first thing I noticed about Mr. Ripken was that he wouldn't be somebody I'd want to mess with. He's listed at 6'3; and definitely appeared to be every bit of that! I'm not sure if it was just that I've always overlooked his height, or if his larger than life persona just made me picture him to be bigger than he actually was on stage that day! He brought his own company representation with him for the signing, which was so refreshing considering that many of the JP's sports workers get very grouchy and aggravating. These people handled us fantastically, even holding our spot in line for us when we realized time was running out for one of the other signers we had an autograph ticket for! They all cracked jokes and were really personable, which set Dad, Schuyler and I up really well for "the moment".

That moment eventually came, and there he sat directly in front of me. I opted for him to sign a baseball, as a custom card just wouldn't have been logical for the price I paid. I, of course; was thrown offguard by the fact that a baseball legend was signing my baseball, however; Dad told Ripken how much he enjoyed his career and told him that he'd never forget the game he passed Lou Gehrig for most consecutive games played. Ripken (who's heard that same script too many times to count I'm sure) thanked him, and that was about it. In reference to the picture above, Ripken held still and told me it'll be a cool action shot!

But, that wasn't all. After every set of 5 or so people got their items signed, they received a photo opportunity with Cal! They threw all of us in "The Bullpen", where we waited to be called back up and get our pictures taken. The representatives again handled everything well, allowing us to take two pictures instead of the one we were originally allowed. "I'll retake it once for you if needed, or twice even, but if I have to retake it a third time it's not the camera, trust me," said one of the guys.

Ripken got up, posed for a few pictures; telling everyone that we're his friends. We stepped up as a group eventually, got our photo ops in, and just when we were leaving I shook his hand again, thanking him, and Dad told him along with his representatives that they did a great job with the experience. Ripken's response: "Thank you! I'll be here until midnight."

The other day, I reflected on the whole thing, and I could see why Cal is revered throughout professional sports. He's a class act, he did everything in his career in the most respectful way possible, and he's one of the best true players during the Steroid Era. If I grew up 15 years earlier than I did, I have no doubt in my mind that Cal would be one of my favorite players, because he seems so similar to my favorite player, Derek Jeter! I still can't believe I got the chance to meet him, and I'm glad I saved up my money in order to do so!

Oh, and by the way, the baseball came out beautiful! I got it certified for the discounted price over at JSA immediately following the signing, and it officially has become a staple in my memorabilia collection. This makes my 3rd Ripken autograph; I have him also on a card with his brother as well, and on his recent children's book "Hothead" (which I enjoyed reading)! 

Overall, this was a phenomenal experience, and even though I was quiet, I don't think I'll ever forget it! Thank you to Cal and his company for really making my day! You guys will always be friends of mine!

See Ya!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 19th White Plains Show Recap, Part Two!

Hey guys, Drew back here! As I said yesterday, last Saturday's card show was one of the best days I've gotten the privilege to enjoy during my time in the hobby! I had the honor of meeting a total of 4 players, and my friend Schuyler met the free signer who I didn't have the time to get in line for. For today, I'll show you the first few guys we met, and to make you anticipate everything more, each of the next two will get their own individual post! This isn't to take away from the guys below though, as they all certainly had their day as a great player, and it was an honor to meet them as well!

Sparky Lyle was first on our agenda this go round! Lyle has always been one of my favorite players from the 1970's Yankees teams, although I didn't get the opportunity to watch them growing up (I got the overrated, money corrupted team). A few years back I read Lyle's book, "The Bronx Zoo", and due in part to that I became a fan. I love Goose Gossage as well, but I feel bad that Steinbrenner kind of pushed Lyle (reigning Cy Young winner by the way) out of the closer role for no reason. 

Lyle was a really funny guy! I told him I read his book, and that I loved every bit of it, and he responded by saying "That isn't something you'd find in a church library! My mom still hates me for some of the things I said in that!" That got a good laugh out of all of us, and made the experience definitely a fun one! 

It's official, I've joined the "Signed Ball Junkie" club! For a long time, I never really cared much for signed baseballs, but they've grown on me. I doubt I'll buy a ball of a player with a terrible autograph though, I think only the nice autographs, such as Sparky's, look good on baseballs. Sparky inscribed "77 AL Cy" below his name, which is what I requested of him. For $25, I don't think I could've made out much better!

Next on our agenda was to meet Harold Baines, the 6 time All Star, and one of the best designated hitters to play the game! I don't think I'll ever forget what Upper Deck put me through when I pulled an expired redemption for an autograph of his, but they ended up coming through and sending me it, along with a Dick Allen autograph! I didn't have a major connection to Baines in any other way, so I passed on getting myself an autograph of his. Instead, I got a ball signed for William in a little trade we did (you'll see it over on his blog in the near future), and I got a photo and the chance to meet him in the process! Baines enjoyed the fact that I was wearing a Yankee hat and my new Andrew McCutchen jersey, calling me an all around baseball fan. He was pretty humble otherwise, but it was cool to get to meet him!

Lastly (for now), Schuyler got the chance to meet the day's free signer, 1967 American League Cy Young winner Jim Lonborg, the former Red Sox hurler! Schuyler didn't have a whole lot to say to him, but I couldn't really blame him since he (along with myself) didn't have much of a connection with him either. Mr. Lonborg seemed real nice though, and he signed his card and inscribed it for no extra charge! It was a pretty kind response to a kid wearing a Yankees sweatshirt, and I gave the man props for signing here in New York!

Thanks everyone for looking, and for the players for the great experiences! See Ya!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 19th White Plains Card Show Recap!

Hey guys, Drew back here! I literally just got home from my SAT test, and boy do I feel relieved! It wasn't easy, but even if I didn't fare all that well I still have two more chances to make up for it. Hopefully I won't be taking it for at least a few more months. Anyway, getting back on track, last weekend Dad, my good friend Schuyler, and I took the trip down to the Westchester County Center for our first card show since August! As most of you know, my collection thrives off of many great sources, but none can reach the amount of opportunities that JP's Sports & Rock Solid Promotions have provided me over the years! However, none of those shows brought anticipation quite like this one. But before I get to who I met, let me show you all the few cards I added at the show:

Dad bought me two cards towards my 1961 Topps set, the above Yankees team card and the Dick Groat MVP card! Any bit helps, as we approach the half way point of the entire set. I've been considering dropping the high numbers and just finishing the regular set, and worrying about the high numbers at a later time. The older sets are a lot of fun to work on, but the high numbers really seem to drag them out, especially when you're dropping $20 plus on cards of Rollie Sheldon and Ron Perranoski, for example. The Yankee team card is beaten up a bit, but it's definitely one of the cooler cards from the 60's considering how great they were in the 1961 season! They were certainly one of the best teams to ever take the field!

I find it pretty funny that of the money I put towards cards, all of it (with the exception of one card) were bought off of my good friends Rich and Hunter! They put out a nice affordable bargain bin, with prices half off on all of the cards, which are mainly relics and autographs from the mid 2000's. I feel like it's almost obligatory to buy a few Yankee relics once in a while, and I certainly did so at this show, without even realizing it. This Bernie Williams bat card was just something I couldn't pass up. I don't think I have enough of Bernie's in my collection, but then again, I don't think many people do, as he was one of the most underrated players of his era!

Billy Martin was another one of the Yankee's more underrated members. He wasn't the best of players, however he did outplay Jackie Robinson in the 1952 World Series, which has to say something. Through his life he was a gritty, tough-as-nails type of guy, but most of all, he really seemed to love the game of baseball. This is my first relic of his, back from his playing days with a beautiful pinstripe right across it. For 10 bucks, I couldn't pass it up.

I guess I really was sympathetic towards the underrated players last Saturday, considering I also picked up this beautiful dual patch of Vladimir Guerrero! Patches still intrigue me, which is sort of strange considering lately I've really ventured away from relics. There's just something so cool about a nice low numbered three color patch of one of baseball's quietest but most dangerous sluggers in history! I really enjoyed watching Vladdy play; chasing pitches in the dirt and still knocking them out of the ballpark. With the way prospects are being brought up today, I think it'll be a while before we see another player like Vlad.

The final card I bought at this month's show was this beautiful Yankee Stadium Legacy relic of who else but Yogi Berra! Two posts in a row topped off with a beautiful card of Yogi is something I know most collectors would be more than happy to do. Come on now, I know most of you hate the Yankees; but there's something seriously wrong if you don't like Yogi. I've been trying to expand my Berra collection a lot lately, taking advantage of any nice prices I see. Patches and wool swatches seem to really get my collecting gears on, and boy did they kick off what ended up being an incredible day!

Over the next few days, you'll see just what made this show experience above and beyond all the past shows we've been to! Thanks Dad for the 61 help, and to the rest of you, See Ya!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Very Delayed Christmas Gifts from Dad!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! It's been just about the toughest week I've had in a long time, and it isn't even over yet. While I finished my midterms today, I have to prepare for the SAT tomorrow. Fortunately, there isn't an enormous amount of pressure considering this is my first crack at it, of the three opportunities you're given. I'm not too worried about it, but the last thing I need right now is another four or five hours of sitting at a desk in complete silence. Anyway, I am ridiculously behind on here. It's January 25th, and I have to show you stuff from exactly one month ago, which is pretty lame on my part. School comes first though, and while I've certainly upgraded my collection tremendously in the past month, I didn't find the time to show it off on here. Well, without any further delay, here's a look at what Dad bought for me this Christmas:

First off was this nice 2005 Donruss Champions Frank Robinson relic! I'm not quite sure what it is, but there is something very appealing about this card. It has a nice, glossy finish on it, and the black relic looks pretty cool. I know a few people who would love this in their collection, however I think I might hang on to it for now.

Dad occasionally has mentioned how he really enjoyed watching Dave Kingman, among others, when he was younger. I don't really know a whole lot about him, but I do know he was a great power hitter, and he stopped briefly during his career in New York. From doing a little research, I learned he is one of only a few players in history to play for 4 different teams in 1 season, which he did in 1977. He finished the season with the Yankees, but didn't get to play in October for the soon to be World Series team because he was added to the team past the deadline.

I'm pretty sure I've got two or three of this card now, however, I really do like the 2003 Yankees Signature Series set Upper Deck released. I've considered going for the set, even though there are a few huge roadblocks in the way (Brian Cashman's autograph sells for 3 figures, easily). If anybody wants this one, let me know. It'd be really cool if I could get a different player in the set for it, if anyone is up for that sort of trade!

 I've been a fan of Sparky Lyle's ever since I read his book, "The Bronx Zoo", a few years ago. I loved how open he was about some of the pranks he pulled! This won't be the last time Sparky is mentioned on this blog in the upcoming weeks (hint, hint)! He's got a real nice autograph, and even though I had a few certified autographs of his already, I didn't have this one yet!

Tommy John was a very good pitcher during his career, maybe not Hall of Fame worthy, but who even knows what that means anymore. I met Mr. John a few years back, and while he was friendly, it still kind of disappointed me how little attention he gave my friend Mike & I. He was signing 8x10s for the company in the midst of his autograph session, maybe because he had to leave early or something. I'm not upset about it, it just kind of lingers with me whenever I think about him. 

Those were all real nice, but this one took home the gold medal...

Out of 2005 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic, a Yogi Berra autograph! This card scanned terribly, but believe me it looks a heck of a lot better in person. Regardless, this is a beautiful card! Yogi, aside from Jeter, is my favorite living Yankee, so I'm always more than open to welcoming a new autograph of his to my collection! This is my 3rd Berra autograph in my collection, but hopefully I'll be able to add to that one day. It would mean the world if I got a chance to meet him, but that opportunity is looking real slim. The other day when he was honored at the B.A.T. dinner, Yogi didn't sound so good, basically repeating how much he loved baseball in a quiet, raspy voice, until his son Dale took over during the speech. Whether or not I'll ever get to shake his hand is one thing, but all I know for now is that it's smart to get some of his autographs, in case anything happens, because we all know ten years from now his autographs won't be as affordable.

Thank you so much Dad for all of the incredible cards! They'll fit in nicely to my ever growing collection! See Ya!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A 'Perfect' Christmas Gift!

Hey everyone, Drew back here! This month is looking worse and worse in terms of the amount of stress that I'm going to end up putting on myself. It appears that now the week of all of my mid terms won't end up with a nice, carefree weekend. Instead, I'm taking my first crack at the SAT the day after all those dreadful tests are over. Fortunately, I do have a few things to look forward to this month to keep me sane, the biggest being the White Plains card show the weekend of the 19th and 20th! The lineup is going to be stellar, and I'm looking forward to unloading a lot of precious Christmas money on some more sweet additions to my PC. Anyways, I still have a little bit more to get to with Christmas, so here's the 3rd and final autographed baseball I bought for myself this year:

In one of the nicest displays I have for any of my memorabilia rests this beautiful OAL Gene Budig ball, signed by two of the most perfect Yankees around, Don Larsen & David Wells! Of course, Wells & Larsen were two of the three Yankees in team history to throw a perfect game, Larsen's being in the 1956 World Series. The only other pitcher to throw a perfect game for the Yankees was David Cone, who I one day hope to add to the ball. Unfortunately, if I do, I might have to play with the label, possibly replacing to honor all three pitchers. 

Both Wells & Larsen inscribed the dates of their special days, making the piece even sweeter for any Yankee fan! 

Just like the Ford and Ryan lot, this ball was pre-certified by PSA/DNA, although it doesn't have any sticker on the ball. 

The piece also came with a hobby store certificate of authenticity, saying this is the 61st of 1956 balls in the series. This certificate came along with the photos above of the 2 pitchers signing the balls, to ensure even further that the autographs are real. It appears to have been at least 10 years ago, or who knows, maybe it was even before Cone threw his famous perfecto on July 18th, 1999.

When I won the auction for this ball, I knew it was going to end up being a mini project. Once I get Cone on it, I'll be much happier with the ball, but for now it still is very nice. Maybe one day it'll be a project again, if some other Yankee decides to throw a perfect game!

Anyway, thanks again mom & dad for letting me do all this on Collect Auctions, it made my Christmas even more special! See Ya!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Splurge: Chairman of the Board Edition

Hey guys, Drew back here! As was promised yesterday, here is the second of the three signed baseballs I managed to win on collectauctions.com as part of my Christmas gifts!

Yesterday I mentioned how on the auction site, I won a lot of two signed baseballs, and a third separate ball. This fantastic Whitey Ford baseball came in the lot along with the Nolan Ryan ball, and I got the lot for $100 total! Normally, it's hard to find a Ryan ball alone for less than $100, but I managed to get him and perhaps the greatest pitcher in Yankees history for one Franklin! Both balls came with a PSA/DNA pre-certification paper, rather than having actual stickers on the balls. 

I met Whitey Ford over the past summer, and I hate to say that the experience was pretty terrible. Mr. Ford seemed like a real nice man, however the guy in charge of the company really disappointed us, giving us literally seconds to speak to one of the most legendary figures in baseball history. However, having this beautiful baseball now sort of makes up for the mediocre visit I had with the "Chairman of the Board", whose stats don't speak for how terrific of a pitcher he was. 

Ford has become the 3rd member from the Hall of Fame that I own in my signed baseball collection! I never really wanted signed baseballs, however, I've been looking to add some variety in my collection. It's pretty difficult to keep adding huge signed pictures, there simply isn't enough room for that.

Be on the lookout for the third and final Christmas baseball! See Ya!