Thursday, May 31, 2012

RBI (86) The Captain, Derek Jeter...

I still don't really believe that I'm writing this right now. Those of you who also read David's blog are aware that this Memorial Day the unthinkable happened. The New York Yankees were in town for a 3 game series against the Angels and I had pretty good luck before the game, but nothing compared to inside the stadium.

The stars all aligned and I decided to take off for a quick bite between when the players arrive and the gates open. When I finished eating my pre-game lunch I went to toss the empty wrappers and say hi to all the usual graphers. David and Benson were nice enough to slide me in the line with them as the gates got closer to opening (thanks guys). After we went inside we were able to see a few friendly faces and made our way to the Yankee dugout.

We watched the Yankees stretch and after Jeter started to do an on field interview. When the interview was over he came over to the fans calling for him behind the dugout and asked why we were there. The response of course was variations of "Waiting for you, please sign" and Jeter smiled and started to sign. Initially we figured he'd do one or two and disappear, but Jeter went down the line pointing out each person and would catch the item, switch pens and autograph it. The captain. Switching pens. Pointing at me. Epic.

As a Red Sox fan I will have to point out Jeter's toss back to me was a little short and I had to quickly lunge out and sprawl onto the dugout to prevent the ball from hitting the top and scuffing, but let's be honest he could have rubbed dirt on it and I wouldn't be complaining. Sox fan or not, he's Jeter. He's more than just a future Hall of Famer, or a World Series Winner, All-Star, Gold Glover, Silver Slugger, AL Rookie of the Year, Yankee all-time hits leader, he's an icon.
You may notice the stitching on the ball looks a little different than the normal ROMLB, that's because it is an Official 2010 All Star Game Ball. If you haven't been able to tell by the photo that's at the top of this blog, the 2010 All Star Game was a proud event for me, and I'm really happy to have related items signed. This Derek Jeter autographed baseball is definitely a highlight of my collection, and something that'll always be special to me especially since its a Derek Jeter autographed All Star baseball. Thanks again to a great day with David, Benson and the rest of the usual graphers.

Friday, May 25, 2012

RBI (85) An Original Angel...

I've already shown my ball signed by the original Angel Eli Grba, but I've also added another original halo from the inaugural 1961 season in catcher-third baseman Tom Satriano.

Satriano was signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent in the 1961 off season after the club had formed. It's always nice to get an old time player, and getting an original member of the franchise is pretty cool. Originally he was an infielder playing 3rd and other infield positions, but was converted to a catcher starting in 1963. He would play for the halos for 9 years before being eventually traded to the Boston Red Sox where he would play another year and retire. When he hung up his cleats, Satriano batted a career .225 but managed a crisp .315 OBP. He had 21 Home Runs, but his real way around the bases was through his 214 Walks against 225 Strikeouts.
Tom Satriano was nice enough to sign this 1967 Topps card for me as part of the Angels 50th anniversary celebration at Angel Stadium. I've noticed Tom Satriano autographs this card in pen if he has a choice since I saw a few online when I looked him up, always interesting to note guys signing habits.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RBI (84) A Little Wild Success...

One of the more cool successes I had during the 2011 season, was with the Seattle Mariners. One person who was especially nice while in Anaheim was former pitcher and current Seattle Mariners Bullpen coach Jaime Navarro.

Taken in the 3rd round by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1987 MLB draft, Navarro quickly moved his way up through the ranks and made his MLB debut for the Brewers in 1989 as a starter. Throughout his career Navarro had various degrees of success going from reliable starter to wild. He spent 7 years in Milwaukee before leaving for the Cubs, White Sox, and Cleveland. While bouncing through his career he would post ERA's in the high 3 range then be rocked for a 5-6 ERA the following season.

When he finally retired as a player after 12 years he stood on a solid 116-126 record with a 4.72 ERA and  1113 Strike Outs. In 309 Starts he tossed 32 Complete Games and 8 of them were Shut Outs, a pretty nice ratio though the majority of the Completes were tossed in the beginning of his career with the Brewers.
Mr. Navarro was kind enough to sign this 1990 Fleer for me in person while watching the Mariners pitchers stretch and warm up before a game in Anaheim against the Angels. He was even kind enough to get me a ball from batting practice later on that day. He signed the ball also for me, and I turned it into a Mariners team ball I'm working on.

Monday, May 14, 2012

RBI (83) The 365 returns continue...

finally! It's been a while since I was able to get anything returned to me, and I'm happy to get this one. The Arizona Diamondbacks are a franchise on the rise, and this guy is one of the key supporting cast members. Second base man Aaron Hills is one of the players who call Arizona home and is helping push the franchise back into relevance.

The 13th pick of the 2003 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, the California native made his bones in the AL in 2005 for the Jays. He was a reliable bat that exploded for power in his 2009 All Star campaign, winning a Silver Slugger award and AL Comeback Player of the Year. Eventually his average dropped despite the pop and he was traded to the Diamondbacks. While with the DBacks, he returned to form and helped push the Diamondbacks into the playoffs.

In 8 seasons he has proved to be a productive bat that shouldn't be ignored in the line up. His average has declined to .266 but slugs a solid .416 supported by 102 Home Runs and 205 Doubles. His OBP is a impressive .321 considering his low batting average. While he may not be too impressive between the base paths with a 70% success rate his two Fielding Bible awards prove his ability playing behind them.
Mr. Hill was nice enough to sign this 2011 Topps Lineage for me after 30 Days, sent c/o the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

RBI (82) A rebounding Cy Young winner...

One of the more interesting story lines in the 2012 season is the Chicago White Sox. With long time manager and team legend Ozzie Guillen finally departing from the franchise, rookie manager Robin Ventura was questioned as to if he could fill Ozzie's large shoes. One of the things he's done is steer the club to respectability and one key part is rebounding ace Jake Peavy.

Peavy was taken in the 15th round of the 1999 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, but flew through the system to make his MLB debut in 2002. He built himself into the team ace and eventually climbed his way to the top of the National League. In 2007 he had a banner year in which he won the pitching Triple Crown and NL Cy Young award. Eventually he was traded to the Chicago White Sox by the Padres for the top of their farm system and then moved to the Red Sox

After being traded to the White Sox, injury woes tore into Peavy's successful career with arm difficulties. The 2010 season was difficult for him and as he was trying to bounce back, he suffered a freak injury, detaching a lat muscle. 2011 was much of the same and he bounced between being ineffective and injured. So far in 2012 it seems as if Peavy has turned the corner and is once again in Cy Young form with his top stuff.

As a 3-time All-Star and Cy Young winner, Peavy has so far started 257 Games and compiled a 113-82 record with 1598 Strikeouts. His record has been supported by a 3.42 ERA, remarkable considering his past few injury plagued seasons. He has tossed 1600 innings, but only 11 Complete Games but 6 of which were Shut Outs.
I was able to get Jake Peavy's autograph in person by accident at Angel Stadium. I hadn't realized that Peavy was coming back into action when the White Sox were in town to play the Angels. He had made the road trip intending to make his comeback start from his detached lat muscle despite not being officially listed off the disabled list. I got Peavy's signature on this ticket after watching him throw a good looking bullpen session during the series. I'm glad to see Peavy's back in form and tossing 0's again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

RBI (81) Erstad says he's got it...

and he makes the catch! The Anaheim Angels are the champions of baseball! That's one of my favorite calls in franchise history, and one I get to hear in the tribute video before the start of every Angel home game. This time though I was the one who made a pair of sweet catches.

Drafted by the Angels 1st overall in the 1995 draft, Erstad came to the Angels after being a multi-sport athlete at the University of Nebraska. Through 13 seasons in the Majors, Erstad played for the Angels, White Sox, and Astros. Erstad bounced along the edge of superstardom through his first few seasons pushing for a batting title, 3 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and 2 All-Star selections, but strayed toward the average side through the last half of his career after the 2002 season. Interestingly Erstad is the only player in MLB history to win a Gold Glove as both an infielder and outfielder, and one of only two players to ever win a Gold Glove in two different positions.

Erstad took part in the Angels 50th Anniversary celebration and was obviously a fan favorite whose line filled up to capacity quickly. I wasn't able to make it in time to try to get a spot due to deciding to spend the day learning from ballhawk master Zack Hample. While separated from Hample while he was off out and about being awesome, I got my glove's first toss up from Trayvon Robinson out in right-center field. Those of you who have seen the wall out in right-center know it's a pretty long toss and Trayvon put it right on the money for a little reach over and I snagged a ball.

When I went to the line to say hi to my fellow graphers who were waiting for Erstad to start signing one of them who had secured a wristband for an autograph revealed they weren't interested in the autograph and I could have it. Not interested? Well they were, but had planned on getting Erstad on one of two 2002 World Series balls they spent years working on...but had forgotten one at home. The frustration led to them not even wanting to have him sign a blank ball and I lucked out in them offering to have Erstad sign my ball from Trayvon for me.
It's a great signature, and I'm really glad I was able to get Erstad's signature on the sweet spot of my ball I got from my day with Hample. Regular readers know how much I appreciate the Gold Glove award and Erstad being such a unique Gold Glover makes his autograph really special to me.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Balk 9 - Jose and me...and JJ...Gronk...

The Blue Jays. Oh the Blue Jays.

The Jays were here for a 4 game series and I decided to put some serious effort into trying to collect their autographs. Things didn't start off well when on the first day of the series I arrived to see my stack of Jays cards was not in my bag. All I had was on okay looking ball I had gotten during BP the day before. Not what I wanted, but it had to do. Instead of attempting to get the Angels when a few players signed I tried to get Jose Bautista walking in. He didn't sign and said he would after BP. For the remainder of the day I tried to bounce around the stadium was completely shut out.

As I was sitting around trying to plan out my next move when my friends Eric and Phil suggested I get my first autograph of the day from "JJ." Those of you who don't know, JJ is John Jackson a former NFL receiver and USC star who is a commentator at the stadium.

I didn't have anything for JJ to sign so I was thinking about just using my ticket when Eric reached into his bag of goodies and pulled out this.
That's right a Fox Sports Net piece of cardboard. I'm not sure why he had it or who he had it for, because even he said "I don't know why I have this." I went over to JJ as he was walking in and he was super friendly and autographed the card. He was nice enough to not only sign "John Jackson" but even added the "Fox Sports 1" inscription for me. I've never asked for the announcers to sign anything for me, but it was awesome and him being so nice about it made me really like this card.

Later inside the stadium I saw Bautista take BP. After BP he walked over to the very large group of fans for their "on field" experience and started to sign for them. I moved directly behind the group and was the only one behind the dugout to be there. When he was done signing he started to speak to 3 guys who were standing on the field behind a little chain divider. When one of the guys with them finished taking photos of Bautista talking to them he turned to me and motioned for me to toss him my ball. I was super excited. All day long I had been out of position and now finally for JOSE BAUTISTA I was the lone fan to be by him. It was my time. Or so I thought. Unfortunately he tried to catch my toss left handed with his camera in the other hand. You can guess the rest.

The ball went off his bad hand, and hit one of the guys Jose was talking to in the back. Now it wasn't like he batted it down roughly into him, more like someone tossing you the remote and it falling off your hand onto the couch. He picked up the ball and offered it to Bautista who gave me the worst look I've ever received. I'm pretty sure he thought I was just throwing a ball at him, because he not only shook his head no but stared me down before throwing the ball back to me. And like I said, I was the only fan there. I had succeeded in not only irritating one of my favorite players, but let him memorize my face for his "never sign for, acknowledge, or save from a fire" memory banks. Great.

I got a few Jays autographs throughout the series but my heart just wasn't really in it. For the Saturday game I went to the stadium intending only to autograph and skip the game, but ran into some friends and decided to hang around. While sitting there, a friend Kyle (@addictiveartwrk) thought he recognized a really big muscled guy who talked to Jordan Walden for a few minutes during the game. I didn't know who he was and said I didn't think he was anyone. Boy was I wrong. A few minutes later a dad and his son came down and got the guys autograph. As they were walking away the kid excitedly was talking about how awesome it was to meet Rob Gronkowski. Yup. GRONK.
He started to get mobbed as fans heard the news, but I was lucky enough to have him sign the back of one of my cards. Who would have thought that the best player I get the whole series at Angel Stadium would be a Patriots Tight End.