Thursday, April 24, 2014

RBI (207) A TTM Letter Answered...

It's been a significant amount of time since I had a letter response from a TTM request so it was nice to start baseball season off with one. Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was nice enough to take a few moments to sign and share some of his thoughts.

I sent Ohlendorf his 2014 Topps Heritage card to be signed for my set, but he swapped that out and sent back two different cards. We'll get to that after his letter:

What was the biggest difference for you between the Red Sox and Yankees organizations?
Yankees are more "old school" in regards to conditioning and work in the training room.

Did you realize you were throwing an immaculate inning?

Where is your favorite stadium to play as a visitor?
3 favorites are Padres, Giants, Pirates

Why do you wear #43?
They gave it to me

What do you remember about your 1st MLB win?
I nearly gave up a home run to lose it but stranded the runner at 3rd

Definitely a nice response and I'm surprised again to hear that Pittsburgh is one of his favorite spots. I've consistently heard that response back and now I'll need to putt Pittsburgh on my to visit list as soon as I can.
Ross Ohlendorf autographed a 2008 Upper Deck rookie card and personalized "Ryan best wishes!" on a 2013 Topps card for me. Definitely a nice response and I hope his season goes well.

Autograph Recap 4/21/14 Lancaster Jethawks at Inland Empire

I was able to make it out to Inland Empire recently to do a bit of minor league graphing, though I doubt the guys will be in the minor leagues for very long. Houston Astros affiliate the Lancaster Jethawks are stacked with talent waiting in the pipeline to make it up to the majors. The whole roster is filled with prized and well regarded prospects so getting anyone I knew would end up making the day worth the trip.

The first guy I was able to get was 2013 1st overall pick Mark Appel's autograph on a baseball. Considering how highly ranked this guy is and the expectations I knew I'd have to get him while he stilled signed as a prospect. I'm glad I was able to get him virtually one on one as a minor leaguer before he debuts and becomes a victim of the dreaded "contracto" and impossible to get as nice an autograph as this.
After Appel 2012 1st overall pick Carlos Correa autographed a baseball for me. He's just as prized and I can tell he'll be extremely difficult to get when he gets his call up into the majors.
It was funny for me to see Appel's teammates rib him a bit when I came up to ask him to sign and make comments that "there's always one" waiting around to meet him. It was goodnatured and he didn't respond to it, but I'm glad to have gotten the two to sign.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

RBI (206) Sonny Gray...

Well Billy Beane's done it again in finding the right arm at the tight time in starting pitcher and future star Sonny Gray. Gray was first drafted in the 27th round of the 2008 draft but held out and went to Vanderbilt until the 2011 MLB draft when he was taken 18th overall by Oakland.

Gray made an immediate impact for the A's when he was called up in 2013 and made his MLB debut. He helped the A's clinch their playoff berth and then went up against reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in the playoffs for two strong starts. He's stepped up as a big arm in the rotation as the starter who took the mound for the A's home opener and is pushing them toward another AL West title.
I was able to get this Sonny Gray autographed baseball before a game when the A's came to play the Angels during the 2014 season. It's nice getting promising young players and getting him on a ball sweet spotted before the hype train really gets going and they stop sweet spotting is always a bonus.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

RBI (205) Curtis Granderson...

Recently Curtis Granderson has been in the news since an incident where a fan touched Grandy during a game. Surprising to most people Curtis didn't press charges against the fan, but I don't find that very surprising at all. Since his days in Detroit and even as a Yankee and still as a Met Granderson has proven himself to be one of the classiest ball players out there.

I had the chance to get the former 3rd round pick of the 2002 MLB draft finally for my collection. He's a Silver Slugger winner, multiple time All-Star and received the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award. He does a little bit of everything with reasonable numbers in every category and has proven to be the nicest guy in my run in with him.
Grandy was very polite while signing for a few fans responding to questions and asking about our day while he autographed our items. I told him I was sorry he had that bad encounter with a fan here in Southern California and he was very polite about the whole thing. I'm really glad to add this Curtis Granderson autographed 2014 Topps Heritage inscribed "Go Mets!" to my collection and cross his short print off the list.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Autograph Opportunity, Paul Lo Duca April 26, 2014

On the 26th of April there's an opportunity to meet with Dodger and Met fan favorite Paul Lo Duca making a Southern California appearance.
Lo Duca will be appearing at Dr. Alex Corbin Liu's practice in Rowland Heights. It's a great chance to meet the 4x All Star and get his autograph at a great price with any item being $20 and $8 per inscription. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity and remember there are mail order and presale options available.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Autograph Recap Brian Wilson Rancho Cucamonga Rehab 4/5/14

Well the day after I went to Rancho for Josh Beckett's rehab start I was back in the car heading out to try and catch Brian Wilson doing his own rehab assignment.

I got there later than for Beckett since I didn't have a need for the minor leaguers and waited for Wilson. Apparently he caught very heavy traffic on the drive in so he didn't sign since he arrived barely before the gates opened.
Note the shoes. Only Brian Wilson could get away with that. I like how these are done in the team colors so he can have his personality and avoid another notice from MLB about his flair.
After warming up Wilson tossed one quick inning and then headed out to drive to Los Angeles.
When Wilson came out there was a large crowd but he started knocking out the autographs for those who waited. I got my Brian Wilson and Buster Posey Sports Illustrated autographed, which was nice since I've held onto it since 2010 when the Giants won the World Series.
After he signed my Sports Illustrated Wilson also autographed my 2014 Topps Heritage. One more off the list for the set, and now happily I can ignore him when I see the Dodgers and chase other players.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Autograph Recap Josh Beckett Rancho Cucamonga Rehab 4/4/14

Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett was slated for a surprise rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga. With the Dodgers home opener the same day I figured the graphers would be light in attendance and I'd be able to knock out a big autograph for myself without having to go to LA.

The day started off well with much hyped prospect Corey Seager signing a 2013 Bowman prospect card for me. I've seen Corey be a good signer the past few times I've gone to Rancho, but I've never had anything for him so I made sure to bring along a card this time. He was really nice and I'm glad to have finally gotten a Corey Seager autographed Bowman card in the collection.
After Seager came in a steady stream of minor leaguers made their way in before Beckett finally came. Josh autographed my Fenway seat back, and it was a big addition for me to put the 2007 World Series Champion on it.
After Beckett signed I returned home and waited to head back to Rancho for the game. I went inside and ran into fellow graphers Matt and David and it began the second part of the day.
Finally Beckett left his rehab start and signed a for a few fans, he ran with a black sharpie and I was able to get my 2014 Topps Heritage card done for my set.
To cap the day uber prospect Julio Urias also signed after the game. I remember watching Puig walk past me in Rancho and regret never taking a shot at him considering how things turned out. I wasn't going to let this happen again so I got this Julio Urias autographed baseball and had him sign his Quakes debut ticket.
It was a very long but satisfying day to knock off a card for my set, pair of top prospects and my Fenway seat back.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Autograph Recap Angels vs Mariners Opening Series...

Baseball. It's back. The first team to come into town was Seattle Mariners and I did pretty well knocking out the first part of my complete 2014 Topps Heritage set.
Game 1: I wasn't able to get anything pre-game so I gave up and went to grab a nice lunch with Rob and Benson to celebrate baseball coming back. It was a good change of pace from the normal value menu binge we make later on in the season. When we went inside it was great to be officially back. I started off with Logan Morrison signing a pair of his Topps Heritage. Lomo autographed one normally and on the other wrote his twitter handle "@cupoflomo" for me.
Next up I was able to get the new man of the hour Robinson Cano's autograph. To be honest I was a little unprepared for Cano to come out and point at me to sign so I went with the first thing I had in front of me and tossed my card instead of a ball. It's official I'll have to be committed to this set now that I've got Robinson Cano's 2014 Topps heritage short print autographed.
After Cano signed I got Abraham Almonte to sign his half of his rookie stars card. He's an interesting prospect making good use of his chance so it'll be interesting what he does.
I already posted about getting Brad Miller's autograph on a baseball, and I got Miller's heritage card signed after game one.
Game 2: I started the day off pretty well getting outfielder Dustin Ackley's autograph. He was nice and knocked a few out for those who asked.
It was a good feeling getting Michael Saunder's autograph finally after being unsuccessful over the past few years to get him to sign something. It's very satisfying to have him sign his heritage early.
After Saunders signed for me slugger and 2-time All Star Corey Hart came over and autographed his heritage.
Game 3: For the third game I picked up where I left off getting a guy who has been historically tough for me. Even though Justin Smoak has played his whole career in the AL West I've never been able to get him to sign for me. I got his heritage autographed and it's nice to get him off the list.
After Smoak I got third baseman Kyle Seager to sign for me before the game started. Seager's part of the new wave of prospects establishing themselves early into true big league players so it's good to have him done before he gets tougher.
I didn't stay for post game action and headed home satisfied to have knocked off most of my Mariners heritage cards and glad baseball is back.

Autograph Recap 2014 Exhibition Angels Vs Dodgers series...

As I posted previously when I put up the Kenley Jansen autograph I got I went to Dodger Stadium to graph the Angels. The following day was the Angels pitiful excuse of a "fiesta" fan fest, Mike Trout extension press conference and Dodger game. This year I'll be beginning the long and arduous task of collecting the Topps Heritage 2014 set and getting it autographed. I've bought a complete low number set and am working on assembling the short prints.

The first card I got signed for my set was my David Freese short print during Spring Training so it was time to finally get to work on the set. While at Dodger stadium I was able to get Kole Calhoun to sign his heritage and inscribe "Red Baron" on it.
I started off the next day Saturday at Angel Stadium getting this Matt Shoemaker autograph on his Rookie stars card with my buddy David.
After Shoemaker we went to the press conference and the fiesta where the only coaches to sign were Steve Soliz, Gary DiSarcina, and Don Baylor, and no active player did an autograph session or signed at the press conference. Bust.
We went inside the stadium and I was able to get a long time favorite Matt Kemp's autograph on his heritage card when he finished his batting practice session.
After Kemp signed I waited for the rest of batting practice to finish up, but it was slow so I tried my luck with the players when they stretched. I got my Carl Crawford autographed card, even though it wasn't the best signature.
Post game was a bust as I got shot down by the players as they left for San Diego to start the regular season.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RBI (204) Brad Miller…

It's not often that I prospect on players, but every once in a while I have to take a shot after watching the guy with my own eyes. After watching this weeks 2014 Opening Series at Angel Stadium between the Angels and Mariners I decided I had to get shortstop Brad Miller's autograph.

Miller's a top prospect who was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 MLB draft he's flown through the minors to the bigs. Now that he's established himself he is making a solid name for himself as a big leaguer after last season's call up. In his short career so far he's shown to have big boom in his bat with 4 multi-home run games.
I got this Brad Miller autographed baseball inscribed "4-1-14 2 HR Vs. LAA" at Angel Stadium during the 2014 season. Brad was really nice to stop and put the inscription for me, I appreciated it and am looking forward to watching more of him.