Archive for autograph

In Memoriam: Jose Fernandez (July 31, 1992 – Sept. 25, 2016)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

When I stop to post something on a baseball player who has passed away, I typically will show their rookie card — or something close to it — and leave it at that. Today, I will do something more.

img_0245By now you’ve heard the news, Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed early Saturday in a boating crash. He was 24.

I repeat, TWENTY FOUR.

People come and go in our real lives, usually not at or before the age of 24. And if by chance they do pass at a young age we all stop and call it unfortunate. This case, albeit involving an athlete, a budding superstar, a guy paid millions to play whats been called  kid’s game, is no different.

The death of Mr. Fernandez has struck me like no other athlete’s has struck me in recent memory. Muhammad Ali passing a few months ago was big, but didn’t punch me in the gut this way because Ali lived a full life. Besides, by the time I came to know Ali he was already in retirement; I was only living with the legacy that he’d already built.

When Dave Henderson died in December of 2015 that hit me a bit because growing up I watched him play in Oakland AND two of his twin nieces were in my fourth and fifth grade classes. They  brought a signed bat of his to class for show and tell once. Even then I merely posted  picture of his 1982 Topps rookie card and moved on.

When Cardinals top prospect and super rookie Oscar Tavares died during the post season of 2014, the card world mourned because he was supposed to be THE guy. Collectors bought into him heavily hoping to reap financial benefit, but they all wound up dumping his cards post mortem for mere pennies on the dollar. Personally I was saddened as usual, but wasn’t really affected — I hadn’t had a chance to see him do much of anything on the diamond. Also, the suspicion that he was driving while reportedly being intoxicated kind of changes the tone a bit.

And then there is the sad case of Angels super prospect Nick Adenhart, who died after his car was struck by a suspected drunken driver on the morning of August 9, 2009, just HOURS after Adenhart in his one and only MLB start of the year. I repeat: His car was hit by a suspected drunken driver; Adenhart was not the party who was intoxicated. A bright future was there for Adenhart, but again, he had a lot to prove at the Major League level.

Now lets come back to the present as it pertains to Mr. Fernandez, the bright, smiling face of a Marlins organization that comes and goes as it pleases in baseball with almost no real foot print. True, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the longest-tenured Marlin with the club and sure-fire Hall of Famer Ichiro recently joined the land of baseball immortality with his 3,000 hits, but neither of them in my mind was as big of a star for the Miami club as Mr. Fernandez.

He was all of 24, but everything he showed us in his four seasons in Major League Baseball lead us to believe he certainly was flirting with greatness.

During his age 20 season, he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts en route to capturing the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Elbow injuries shortened his 2014 and 2015 seasons, but even when he was playing he still maintained his dominance to the tune of a 10-3 record over 19 starts during which he struck out 149 batters in 116 1/3 innings.

And this year he was dominating his opponents to the tune of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. At the time of his death he’d struck out 253 batters in only 182 1/3 innings of work. He had 16-8 record and a 2.86 ERA over the course of 29 starts. In his final outing on Sept. 20, he went 8 innings against the eventual National League East champion Washington Nationals, allowing only three hits while striking out 12 batters — just another typical Fernandez outing.

I took a liking to Fernandez during his rookie year. His stuff was electric and his style — even his hair — reminded me a bit of Ricky Vaughn from Major League the movie. There was just something about the guy that made you watch the game. I made it a point to own the above pictured 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Refractor autograph and when it came to keeper fantasy baseball leagues, he was mine — forever, just as Clayton Kershaw shall be.

img_0239Oddly enough the news of Mr. Fernandez’s death came to me through a push notification from Yahoo Sports.  There I was using the restroom when a bell rang on my phone. I’m in the semi-finals of my league’s playoffs, a day away from entering the championship round, so I was intrigued by this seemingly odd notification that Fernandez’s status was changed from “healthy” to “day-to-day.” I clicked on the link and boom: the news hits me like a ton of bricks. And not because he was a part of my team, but because he was a hell of a talent and because he was just a kid.

He was 24. What were you doing at age 24? For me. I had graduated from college a year earlier and was only a few months into my career as a professional journalist. The Marlins, oddly enough, had defeated the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and in 2004, my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, had completed an unbelievable comeback against the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series and then went on to win club’s first World Series in 86 years.

By the time I had turned 24 I hadn’t been married yet and was still five years away from having the first of my two children. At age 24 I was just becoming an adult. Sure, Mr. Fernandez had talent, fame and fortune that most of us could only dream of, but I’d imagine that when all of those material things are stripped away, he wasn’t that much different that most of us at that age. He was enjoying the life of a young adult, but still had many real life milestones ahead of him.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Fernandez. May there be nothing but called third strikes for your pitching career in the afterlife.

 

 

 

 

MLB Network host returns autograph; gives scoop on upcoming set

Posted in TTM Success with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

When 2016 Topps Allen & Ginter came out a few months ago one of the first cards I pulled was that of Heidi Watney, the Fresno, Calif. native who currently hosts “Quick Pitch” on MLB Network. It’s no secret that the television network is my favorite. So one of my goals was to get this card signed.

img_1991Moments after I pulled it I posted a picture of the card on Twitter and tagged Heidi, asking her if she’d sign the card.  Much to my surprise she answered the question — and it was in the affirmative.

Before I penned my letter to Heidi I managed to acquire another copy of the card so I felt it right to send one for her to keep and one that I hoped she would return inked.  And along with the cards I sent to the Network address a letter asking her about cards focusing on the Network personalities.

You see, the Network had a soft launch in late 2008 and then went full boar in January 2009. I was right there from the beginning.  My daughter was born in January 2009 and in the days before her birth and in the weeks after I spent many a night and early morning with my eyes clued to the TV network. Heck, I wrote this piece titled “Dear MLB Nework, I Love You” on Jan. 1, 2009, after I discovered that an item that I picked up at a flea market months earlier was the object being showcased in an original commercial shown during the full airing of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Check out the post if for no other reason to see some cool baseball nostalgia.

In the years after the Network’s launch I contact a few different people at the Network about a baseball card set that may or may not exist featuring some of the personalities of the early days of the network.  I still have not pined down if the set exists.

Nonetheless, when I wrote my letter to HeidI I let her know that I was a fan of the Network and wanted to know if she had any information about the rumored set. On Friday I received my return envelope with the above shown signed card and this hand-written letter on MLB Network stationary giving me a scoop:

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So, while the mystery still remains about the rumored existing set, apparently there IS one on the way. (It should be noted I haven’t confirmed this with Topps.)

Thanks to Heidi for the autograph and for the hand-written note.

An Auto A Day … #5

Posted in An Auto A Day with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

Here’s another solid Major Leaguer who used his skill set on the field to help him get a job in the dugout.

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Brad Ausmus, a three-time Gold Glove winner and an all-star, spent 18 seasons as a Big League catcher. His career started in 1993 with the San Diego Padres and ran through 2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And just three years after retirement, he found himself as the skipper of one of the best teams in Major League Baseball, the Detroit Tigers.

Often regarded as one of the game’s nicest guys, Ausmus proved to be the same to fans as he frequently signed Through The Mail (TTM). That said, how does a guy spent nearly two decades in the majors — a time frame that coincides with a book in certified autographed in the hobby — yet he only has one signed card (1996 Leaf Signature Autographs), with two parallels of the same. Ausmus only has one true rookie card as well, a 1992 Topps card that he shares with three other guys.

An Auto A Day … #4

Posted in An Auto A Day with tags , , , , , on August 22, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

If you were a baseball fan after the strike of 1994, you surely remember that the Montreal Expos (which later became the Washington Nationals) were one of the better teams in baseball at the time, and in 1995 they had a hell of a left handed phenom on their hands by the name of Carlos Perez.

IMG_2984The brother of two Major Leaguers — both of whom were right handed — Carlos Perez was a flamboyant pitcher during his rookie season in 1995 — he made the all-star team that season –and after each strikeout, he’d do this funky twitch movement on the mound to celebrate his punch outs. Some people liked it; others hated it. Go figure.  At the time SportsCenter was really the only sports cable show available nationwide, so he was a constant on. He wasn’t really a strikeout machine but seemed that way given the rate at which is highlights were shown.

But due to injuries and off-the-field nonsense, Perez’s career never blossomed to the levels that many figured he could reach. He would miss all of 1996 due to injury and played parts of two more seasons with Les Expos before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where his MLB career ended in 2000.

Perez made it into nearly all of the 1995 products and has an astounding 15 rookie cards — his Bowman’s Best or Topps Finest are best in my opinion — but only really has one certified autograph. If you guessed 1996 Leaf Signature Series, you’re right. The base autograph is shown here and then there are two parallels of the same card.

Rookie/Prospect Card Six Pack #31

Posted in Rookie Card Six Pack with tags , , , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

IMG_72492010 Bowman Chrome DJ LeMehieu, 201 Bowman Chrome Kyle Seager, 2010 Bowman Chrome Yasmani Grandal, 2010 Bowman Chrome Refractors Gary Brown, 2010 Bowman Chrome Refractors Zach Lee, 2010 Bowman Chrome Refractors Felix Doubront

Thrift Treasures 65: Ripken Jr. signed book for 99 cents

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , on March 10, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

Still playing catchup on some TT posts, we’ll go with this one real quick. A month or so ago I was digging through the book section at one of the local thrift stores and found a paperback book documenting Cal Ripken Jr.’s career. The book was authored by Ripken and a writer.

I’ve documented here before that I do look through the book section at stores because every now and then you’ll find a signed book. A a general rule of thumb though, I typically don’t bother with paperbacks.

Well, something made me pick this up and thumb through a few pages. And sure enough, some four pages, there’s some ink — a live Cal Ripken Jr. Autograph for less than a buck.

If my name was Matt, I’d be in heaven …

Total cost for this Thrift Treasure: 99 cents

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Five-Pack 2014 Donruss Baseball break + Box Topper

Posted in Box / Pack Break with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

Hit one of the local shops yesterday and was lucky enough to be there right when they opened a fresh box of 2014 Donruss Baseball.  I actually intended to buy a box last week, but changed my mind this week after I essentially spent my Donruss box money on a pack of 2012 Panini Signature Series that wound up yielding a Mike Trout auto /25.

I digress. The employee agreed to sell me the box topper, and so I picked five packs to go along with it.  With each box containing two autographs and a game-used relic card, I’d say I did fairly well in my packs.  Here’s the loot:

Box Topper:

IMG_6935Stephen Strasburg Jumbo Diamond Kings.

Pack :1

IMG_6941Colby Rasmus, Roberto Alomar, Adam Dunn, Jason Kipnis auto, Travis d’Arnaud Rated Rookie, Ryan Zimmerman, Kiroki Kiroda, and Matt Harvey.

 

Pack 2:

IMG_6940Gerardo Parra, Curtis Granderson, Aroldis Chapman, Don Mattingly Press Proof /99, Andrew McCutchen, Ichiro, Yan Gomes RC, Josh Dolandson.

Pack 3:

IMG_6939Jean Segura, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout Breakout Hitters insert, Buster Posey, Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez, Zack Wheeler

Pack 4:

IMG_6938Jay Bruce, Wei-Yin Chen, Adrian Gonzalez, James Paxton Rated Rookie, Tim Lincecum, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Headley, Hiroki Kuroda

Pack 5:

IMG_6937Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Jose Fernandez, Edwin Encarnacion Game Gear Relic, Roy Halladay Hall Worthy, Robinson Cano, Hyun-Jin Ryu RC, Carl Crawford, Zack Greinke