Wednesday, May 29, 2013

RBI (146) Ervin Santana...

Recently I was able to get starting pitcher Ervin Santana's autograph. It was nice to get Ervin's autograph since it was only the second time he had signed for me despite him being on the Angels for so many years. Either through bad timing or positioning I seemed to miss out on Ervin when he was an Angel, so it was nice to get him to sign as a member of the Royals.

Ervin was signed as an amateur free agent in 2000 by the then Anaheim Angels. He debuted for the Angels in 2005 as a starter and never turned back holding onto a spot in the rotation for 8 seasons with the team. He ran into struggles though and the Angels traded Santana to the Kansas City Royals after he led the league in Home Runs allowed. So far the move has been good for Ervin as he has revamped his pitching and is having a successful first half. Ervin is one win from crossing the 100 mark, has 1200 Strikeouts, has been an All Star, and most notably threw a no-hitter during the 2011 season against the Indians.
I was able to get Ervin to autograph this 8x10 photo of him celebrating his no-hitter when the Royals played the Angels during the 2013 season.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

RBI (145) Kendrys Morales Game Used Baseball Bat...

Recently I mentioned being able to pick up a Kendrys Morales Game Used Baseball bat through a sale the Angels Foundation had. I was pretty excited to make the purchase and pick up a bat from a player I liked who was a decent slugger. I was nervous though about being able to get it autographed as throughout the years I had never been able to get Kendrys to sign for me. He was a notoriously tough autograph to get and if he did by chance sign I was always somewhere else and missed the chance. The Mariners came into town for a quick series and I knew I had a limited window to get the bat signed since baseball bats are not allowed inside of the stadium, so I had to get it signed pre or post game.

After the first game of the series I was able to track down Kendrys and called out to him that I had his game used baseball bat. He got into his car without saying anything though, and I thought I missed my chance. I was extremely excited and surprised then when his driver started to pull away before stopping a few feet away from me. Kendrys lowered his window, pointed at me and waved for me to come over. I pretty nervously walked over to the car and handed him the bat and marker. He autographed the bat for me while I said thank you and he just nodded before handing the bat back to me.
Though I have my RBI Collecting custom bat, this is my first player used baseball bat and I was pretty hesitant about getting such a tough signer for my first bat, but I think Kendys is a good player so I took the chance. I'm extremely happy that I did and I'm really grateful that he took the time to stop and autograph the bat.
I've had a few people questioning me on the bat because the normal photos you'd see of him batting is with a different brand. So I went to Getty Images and started doing some research. During the 2012 season Kendrys switched to using Trinity baseball bats for a while more than likely because of the success Mark Trumbo was having using Trinity. I'm not 100% which bat it is that I picked up but he does use at least 4 different Trinity bats when I combed through the archives. The markings, scuffs, and position of the MLB dot test look to match one used batting when they played the A's.  It's just one more great example of the quality work done by the Trinity Bat Company, and I'm more than pleased to have this Kendrys Morales autographed baseball bat in my collection.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

RBI (144) Moose...

Moustakas. Mike Moustakas. A name that definitely lends itself to being a ball player, let alone a popular fan friendly one. I have written about getting Moustaskas' autograph before in a general sense since I included an autographed 8x10 I took during the Opening Series for the 2012 season. I've left out some pretty sweet items that I finally was able to complete this past series.

Moustakas debuted during the 2011 season at Angel Stadium. It was nice for his debut to come in Anaheim since Mike was a graduate of Chatsworth High School and owned several California high school baseball records. Since he's a local boy he had plenty of family on hand to watch him debut in the MLB. His debut game was on and I was actually about to get a ball Moose hit during his BP. Not only was I able to snag a ball from his BP but I was able to get Moustakas to autograph the ball before the game on the sweetspot.
I posted previously about how nice and down to earth Moose is when he signed this 8x10 of him from 2012 Opening Day. He's a consistent signer when he's in Anaheim and I was able to get this Mike Moustakas autograph on my ticket from his MLB debut game.
Hopefully Moose will develop a more consistent bat, 2012 looked to be a breakthrough year for him and he even was nominated for a Gold Glove award, but he's had a bit of a regression year in the first half of 2013. Seeing as he was the 2nd pick of the 2007 draft I'm sure the Royals hope he can put it all together and will give him everything he needs to reach his fully potential. I think he's got the strength and tools to develop into a solid career 3rd baseman.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

RBI (143) Jeff Francoeur...

Previously I wrote about how I was able to get a Jeff Francoeur autographed baseball, and how "Frenchy" is one of the nicest MLB players I've ever been able to meet. The outfielder is a definite fan favorite where ever he's playing and it's easy to understand why once you have the opportunity to see him interact with fans around the park.

Francoeur was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 2002 MLB draft with the 23rd pick in the first round. He debuted 3 years later in 2005 and has carved out a solid career with his bat and especially his arm. He's crossed the 1,100 Hit and 125 Home Run plateaus while earning a Gold Glove in 2007 for his work in the outfield. He is ranked 3rd for outfield assists among all active players for gunning down opposing runners.

I took this photograph of him during the Opening Series when the Royals and Angels played against each other in Anaheim. Frenchy was nice enough to autograph this 8x10 photo and inscribe "GG 07" on it for me. Even though he consistently is amongst the league leaders for outfield assists I'm not sure if he'll be earning many more Gold Gloves, but if he does I'm sure he'll be kind enough to inscribe any other award he wins.
Jeff Francoeur autographed this 8x10 for me when the Royals played the Angels during the 2013 season in Anaheim.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

RBI (142) Some Country Breakfast...

Or I guess I should say a country feast was recently had by Kansas City Royals star Billy Butler when he was playing in Anaheim.

Billy Butler was drafted by the Royals with the 14th pick of the 1st round in the 2004 MLB draft. He debuted in 2007 against the Angels and has proven to be a capable slugger for the Royals. He's crossed the 100 Home Run mark while cruising to more than 200 doubles so far in his career with a batting average hovering around the .300 mark.

Butler was in a pretty good mood after going 5-5 while playing against the Angels in Anaheim. He saw my 8x10 photo and asked when I took the shot. I told him I had taken it on the Opening Day the Royals spent in Anaheim and he said he thought it was last year and signed it for me. After he signed it I asked if he'd inscribe All Star for me since he was named to the team that year and he said yes. He signed for a few other people then took the photo again to inscribe "2012 All Star" under his autograph.
He was still signing after I put the photo away so I asked if he'd sign a ball also. He said no problem so I was able to get this Billy Butler autographed baseball.
He also knocked out this 2012 Topps Heritage card for me a on separate occasion during the series.
I was able to get these autographed during the 2013 Royals at Angels series at Angel Stadium, and I'm pretty happy with how they all came out and very appreciative Billy signed all three items for me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

RBI (141) Jon Lester...

I thought about coming up with a snazzy title that would be tied into the 1-hitter Lester just tossed, but I figured it wouldn't do Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester justice if I did that.

Lester was taken by the Red Sox in the 2nd round of the 2002 MLB draft, being given a million dollar signing bonus, the highest for any second rounder signed that year. He proved to be worth every penny, flying through the minors and debuting for the Sox in June of 2006. He is tough as nails both on and off the mound being able to mount a comeback against non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. He returned to the Sox and was able to show his return to form when he threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals in 2008. His recent 1-hitter was only his 3rd complete game so when Lester decides to go the distance he does it in style.

He's tossed a no-hitter, been named a 2-time All-Star, and was a key part of the rotation that swept the Rockies for the 2007 World Series Champion Red Sox. The lefty has already crossed the 1,100 strikeout threshold and is approaching 100 career Wins with a career era below 4.00. He's got a chance to be something special longterm for the Red Sox so I'll be interested to see the back end of his career play out.
This is one of the few autographs I've actually gone and purchased of a baseball player. I had the opportunity to pick it up off a fellow grapher from Angel Stadium as he received it was part of a lot purchase and knew I was a big Red Sox fan so he offered it to me. I gladly picked it up for a reasonable price and it's now a project for me to obtain a ball of Josh Beckett and Dice-K to go along with my Lester, and Curt Schilling balls so I have a ball from each member of the 2007 World Series rotation.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

RBI (140) More Shay Maria...

I wasn't able to resist purchasing another one of Shay Maria's autographed prints. Like I said before in my previous post Shay's a street wear model known for her modeling of The Hundreds, Benny Gold, Primitive and CBNC. For those unfamiliar with those brands a more mainstream name you may know is the look book she shot for CBNC's last line was featured on British GQ's website.
I added this small print of her to my collection because I like the overall look. Yeah Shay Maria's hot but I think the entire aesthetic of the shot is nice. It all comes together really well and looks pretty nice framed next to my other print of her. I may look for another piece of hers from another photographer, maybe a Shay Maria Danny Steezy photo or one of the Shay Maria Kaloopy photos and prints that are available.

Friday, May 10, 2013

RBI (139) Ivan Rodriguez...

My post about Torii Hunter had me thinking about another defensive great that I had been able to secure the autograph of catcher Ivan Rodriguez. I'm not sure if he's going to be in the Hall of Fame, but he's definitely in the hall of great.

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was signed by the Texas Rangers as an amateur free agent in 1988. He debuted at the tender age of 19 in 1991 for more than a cup of coffee appearing in 88 games. It was history from then on with him becoming a mainstay behind the plate until he retired after the 2011 season.

He was a 14 time All-Star, was awarded an astounding 13 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, named the 1999 AL MVP and  won the 2003 World Series Championship. He collected 2,844 hits, 1,332 RBI's and 311 Home Runs throughout his career as one of the top offensive catchers to play the game. He brought a serious blend offensive power with his key defensive play that made him a popular player throughout the 90's. When he retired he made headlines again for throwing the ceremonial pitch in an unique way, actually moving behind the plate to catch a strike from Michael Young after he signed a one day contract to retire with the Rangers.

I was able to get this Ivan Rodriguez autographed baseball during interleague play at Angel Stadium while he was on the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cal League appearance...

With the Angels out of town I went to see the Angels' Inland Empire 66'ers play against the Dodgers' Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The 66'ers caught a pretty serious beat down from the Quakes' hitters but it was nice to go catch some local ball and enjoy the game for the game.

Darnell Sweeney hit for the cycle for the Quakes and 66'ers outfielder Zach Borenstein finished a triple short of his own cycle. It was a fun night and I got thrown my first minor league baseball a Rawlings Cal League ball from Zach after the game.
The ball's pretty beaten up but I think it's some nice character for it. I didn't have Borenstein autograph the ball but I'm thinking the next time I go to catch an Angels' big leaguer out rehabbing at Inland Empire I'll bring the ball along for him to sign. Great night with a nice pick up, I wish Angel games were like this too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

RBI (138) Clayton Kershaw...

Another player who needs no witty tagline or introduction, is Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is a man who needs no real introduction because his stuff on the mound has spoken for him since he broke into the Majors.

Kershaw was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 7th pick of the 2006 MLB Draft. It's a choice regretted 5 of the 6 teams with only Evan Longoria taken by the Rays panning out to a reasonably comparable level of success. And even then the Rays would be pushing it to say they wouldn't trade places with the Dodgers. Since his debut in 2008 Kershaw has been the elite of the elite with his only real peer being Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander. He's an All-Star, Gold Glover, Cy Young winner and already topped the 1,000 strikeout plateau. Without a doubt he's going to be a pitcher to remembered from his generation and it's always special when he takes the mound.
I got this Clayton Kershaw autographed glove before an exhibition game between the Dodgers and Angels at Angel Stadium. I had originally tossed him a baseball hoping he would switch from the sharpie for a pen but he ran with the black sharpie and autographed a side panel. I wasn't going to complain too much seeing as it's still my first Kershaw autograph so I can check him off my list. As I was putting my ball away I realized Kershaw was still knocking out autographs for fans so I asked if he'd sign my glove too. He nodded and signed the leather for me. It's awesome and I'm debating retiring this glove since I already have a new one except for pulling it out once in a while since I don't want the auto to fade very quickly. Hopefully Kershaw is a Dodger for life and continues at his level of success to be an all-time great.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

RBI (137) Torii Hunter...

Yeah no frilly title for this one out of respect for the hard nosed no frills but all enjoyment playing style outfielder Torii Hunter brings to the game.

Torii Hunter was drafted by the Minnesota Twins with the 20th pick of the 1993 MLB draft. He was selected one pick ahead of catcher Jason Varitek also taken by the Twins, making it one of the defensively greatest rounds maybe in the history of a single franchise. Hunter has crafted a career off his glove and bat, but his glove work is clearly his trademark. Though still knocking out career stats he has a very impressive line to look at with 1,100 RBI's and over 2,025 hits. He has taken away countless home runs from opposing hitters notoriously climbing the wall to earn 9 Gold Gloves to go with his Silver Slugger and 4 All-Star nods. His leadership is also a strong asset that the Twins and especially the Angels enjoyed when he was mentoring a rookie Mike Trout before he left to search for a World Series ring with the Detroit Tigers.
Torii Hunter autographed this 8x10 photograph for me at Angel Stadium and I'm glad to say he was impressed with the camera work telling me it was a nice shot before he signed it. I'm especially proud of how it came out and of the great looking signature so I made sure to have it matted and framed up.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

RBI (136) Imperfect by Jim Abbott

This post is a bit of a combination book review, player profile, and autograph highlight.

Angel stadium held signing for former pitcher Jim Abbott after he released his book "Imperfect: An Improbable Life" in 2012. I hadn't been able to get Abbott's autograph previously so I jumped at the chance when I heard he would be at the stadium signing. I had been under the impression that with purchase of the book one outside item would be allowed to get signed, but when the signing actually began that wasn't held to be true. I was semi disappointed but I understand that Abbott was there as more than a former ball player and was there as a writer so wanting to get books signed is very understandable.

Abbott was taken by the California Angels 8th overall in the 1988 MLB draft and debuted in the majors without having played any rookie ball. His previous playing experience ranged from high school, Michigan, the Pan American Games and helping to win a "gold" during the demonstration sport debut of baseball in the 1988 Summer Olympics. His career lasted from the 1989 season till 1999 with Abbott spending different stints with the Angels, Yankees, White Sox, and Brewers. He'd retire with 87 Wins, a 4.25 ERA and 888 Strikeouts. He threw a gem for the Yankees pitching a no-hitter against the Indians on September 4, 1993.

Abbott's co-author Tim Brown helped spin his own gem when crafting Imperfect. It's a book that I honestly had a hard time putting down as I was drawn deeper into the narrative. Stories from Abbott's past growing up, playing amateur ball, and thoughts on life and those who inspired him to overcome adversity are intermixed with the story of his no-hitter inning by inning. It's an enthralling read when you begin to see the genuine heart and true grit he maintained to become not only the pitcher he was, but the man. I'm glad to have been able to get Mr. Abbott's autograph for an unusual reason. I'm glad I got his signature because it made me read a book I might have otherwise declined to purchase and read. I'm very happy to have met him and add a Jim Abbott autographed book to my collection.
Ironically the previous autographed books I highlighted were signed by author Ray Bradbury. Bradbury's most well known work Fahrenheit 451 was also published by Imperfect's publisher Ballantine books. If you're looking for a good summer read I highly recommend picking up a copy of Abbott's book. I'm very pleased to have this on my shelf next to my other signed books and think it's a nice change of pace for a Jim Abbott autograph.

RBI (135) Adam Jones, A Flying Star...

In more ways than just one. I was able to get a Baltimore Orioles star center fielder Adam Jones autographed baseball. It wasn't necessarily the easiest autograph to obtain and definitely involved some stadium antics, but I was able to get get the elusive Jones' signature on my baseball.

Adam Jones was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 2003 MLB draft as the 37th pick. He was taken as a pitcher/shortstop but eventually moved to the outfield at the Mariners request. He debuted for the Mariners in 2006 but was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 2008. Since moving to the Orioles he has shined as star for them, so far being a 3-time All-Star and winning 2 Gold Gloves. He shows a strong blend of speed and power with more than 100 Home Runs and 60 Stolen Bases. His playmaking ability at the plate and in the outfield helped convince the Orioles to give him the largest contract in team history with a 6 year $85 million extension.
I was honestly semi disappointed in this autograph. The ball is a commemorative baseball with the 20 year anniversary logo for Camden Yards that I was thrown by Rays pitcher Jake McGee. It's a clean ball with a perfect logo that I held back for almost a year to get signed by an Oriole of note. Unfortunately the stadium shenanigans had Jones in not the greatest mood while he signed so he paid no attention to me when I asked for him to sign under the logo. Yes at least I got the autograph, but it still could have been a great looking piece for my collection with a nice story behind the ball itself. At least I was able to get  an Adam Jones autographed baseball. Thankfully it was still a good day as I got to watch a good game with Kyle of Addictive Artwork, David and my other friends.

RBI (134) Ray Bradbury...

A few years ago I had the opportunity to see distinguished author Ray Bradbury speak about his career.  Bradbury is best known for his works Fahrenheit 451 and the Martian Chronicles, but he was a prolific short story writer and produced many great works and collections beyond those two novels. It was an enlightening experience to hear him talk and I walked away with the idea that literature needed to be protected and helped to grow by people not afraid to write what they believed in.

Interestingly not many people know that Fahrenheit 451 was written on a rental typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell library. Not only is it's birth place a little known fact, but it's also not well known that the book was serialized and published in the March, April and May issues of Playboy in 1954 after the magazine was launched in December 1953.

Unfortunately Bradbury has since passed away and one of America's most celebrated authors is no longer with us. I was able however to have the pleasure to meet Mr. Bradbury after his talk and have him sign a pair of his books for me that I will always treasure.

One of my favorite pieces is this Ray Bradbury autographed Martian Chronicles copy.
Also Ray Bradbury autographed "One More For the Road" for me.
Though lately its been difficult to find the time, throughout my life I've always been a reader with a book around for me to work through when I have a few minutes so I've privately enjoyed slowly building an private library of autographed books on my shelf. I know these Ray Bradbury autographed books will forever be a strong cornerstone to continue to build my collection around as not just works of literature but also to me as pieces of Americana.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

RBI (133) Shay Maria...

As you've seen from my previous posts featuring Bobby Hundreds and Johnny Cupcakes it's pretty obvious I like collecting autographs from outside just the sporting world. I like to branch out and have a decently varied collection I think. One autograph I bought was this Shay Maria autographed print. Shay's a well known street wear model featured on tons of sites for her modeling work showing off the styles of The Hundreds, Benny Gold, Primitive and CBNC.
I'm pretty happy with the purchase seeing as I think she's a pretty interesting person in that part of the world and her instagram and twitter always have cool updates from her popping by the offices of the various brands and photographers. I think it was $10 well spent and I don't mind waking up to this print on my wall at all. Shay Maria's twitter is here if you're interested. And let's be honest Shay Maria's hot so who wouldn't be interested. I picked up another Shay Maria print you can see here.