PART 4: Certified Auto Pickups
2005 UD SPx Russell Martin RC Auto /185
We begin with an autograph from a current Yankees playing, their starting catcher Russell Martin! I wasn't extremely impressed with Martin last year, but he did a pretty good job behind the plate. I'm not necessarily used to having a catcher hit for such a poor batting average (.237), but I guess in this day in age he's an All Star caliber catcher. Anyways, I wanted his autograph just to have it basically, and who knows maybe he'll bat a whopping .250 this year!
2011 Topps Chrome Eduardo Nunez RC Auto
I'm torn on Eduardo personally. I think he had a pretty solid rookie season, considering all of the pressure in New York for him to succeed, since he had to replace stars like Jeter and A-Rod when they suffered injuries. He could wind up being a solid player, but he won't be that player for the Yankees, because they probably wouldn't have a spot for him to do well. However, this is a pretty nice rookie auto, and trust me it looks a heck of a lot better in person.
1997 Donruss Signature Series Bartolo Colon Auto
Bartolo was a great success story for the Yankees last year for sure. Most fans did not expect to see the aging power pitcher dominate the mound again, but he proved everyone wrong by producing solid numbers for the Yankees. I mean, think about it, he basically got hardly any money and was expected to be a minor league pitcher, but he worked his way up to the starting rotation. I give him props for that.
2006 Bowman Originals Nick Swisher Auto Gold Parallel /31
Boy was I glad to see the Yankees lock up Swisher for another year! It would've been a tragedy to let him go this offseason, because clearly there were no other right fielders available that could produce like he does. Yes, I understand his postseason stats aren't impressive, but honestly I feel like he is in for a big year. I already had the base variation autograph from this set, so being able to add a more rare parallel to my Swish PC is pretty sweet!
2007 Bowman Sterling J.P. Arencibia RC Auto
Prior to the show, I listed the 10 autographs I wanted most for each position based on active players, and Arencibia was #8 on the catcher list. I think he has a lot of potential, although he didn't hit for a very good average last year either (.219). But with 23 homers and 78 RBI, he should be one of the top catchers in the league for years to come.
2004 Topps Blue Chips J.J. Hardy RC Auto
Similar to Arencibia, Hardy snuck onto my list of top shortstop autographs I wanted. He had a great year with the Orioles last year, batting .269 with 30 home runs and 80 RBI! His signature really looks like it just says Hardy, but who knows what these current players try to get at with their autographs.
2008 UD Signature Sensations James Shields Auto
After his stellar 2011 season, I honestly feel that James Shields is better than David Price. Everyone made a huge deal about how good Price was supposed to be, and while he's done fairly well, he had a very inconsistent season. Shields threw 11 complete games and finished 3rd in AL Cy Young voting behind Verlander and Weaver. I'd consider that a great season! Therefore, it was probably a smart idea to pick this auto up before he becomes more well known in baseball!
2007 USA Darwin Barney RC Auto /595
Barney ranked in the top 10 autographs needed for second baseman on my list, and I'm glad Dad was able to pick one up for me. Barney had a very good rookie season last year, batting .276 with 146 hits, earning him 7th in NL Rookie of the Year voting. I think he'll be a pretty solid player in the future for the Cubs, and he has a pretty nice autograph as well.
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter Starlin Castro Auto
To go along with the Cubs second baseman, I also managed to round out the other half of the middle infield, picking up this beautiful Starlin Castro autograph. Apparently the card is a short print, so I paid a fairly high price for the card, but I think it will be worth it. Starlin is heading into his 3rd full season, after starting his career batting .300 or above both of his first two seasons. Last year, he batted .307, pounding out 207 hits and scoring 91 runs for the Cubbies. I have a feeling he could end his career with better stats than Hanley Ramirez and maybe even Jose Reyes, given Reyes' health issues.
2007 UD Sweet Spot Classic Jack Morris Auto Bat Barrel /50
I have watched a ton of shows on the MLB Network so far this year. I go downstairs, sit down and record 5-6 shows at a time on our DVR. Therefore, I watched a lot of the Hall of Fame coverage this year, and after watching all the debate, I really think this guy should be in the Hall. I mean, they voted him the best pitcher of the 1980's for crying out loud! Who cares about his stats, when he was one of the most dominant pitchers of his era? Unfortunately, after this weak class went by, Morris still didn't receive enough votes, and with the insane classes upcoming, I doubt he'll get in anytime soon unless the Veterans Committee elects him one year. Nonetheless I was able to pick up this card for 20 bucks, numbered to only 50. It's a nice one for sure.
2003 UD Yankee Signature Series Paul O'Neill Auto
One of the reasons why this show was so big for me was because I was able to make some significant strides in my collection! Paul O'Neill's autograph was one that had been haunting me for quite some time, and Dad was able to buy me one, which was really awesome of him! I've watched a lot of the games from the 90's dynasty years, and I can tell if I wasn't 4 or 5 years old, but the age I am today as a fan, O'Neill would've been one of my top 3 or 4 favorite players on the team. He was indeed a warrior in every way, and he inspires a lot of people to really give their all on the field and have no regrets when leaving the ballpark. You have to love having a guy like that on your team.
1996 Leaf Signature Series Andy Pettitte Auto
The final, and in my opinion, best autograph pickup from the show was most definitely this card. Anytime you are able to manage to add an autograph from one of the "Core Four", I would consider it a success. Dad also bought me this card, and I can't begin to tell you how lucky I am to have him so interested and helpful in my hobby. He is always willing to take me to signings and shows and always wants to try and make me happy! At this point, he uses my wantlist more than I do, which is crazy. Andy Pettitte is one of my favorite pitchers of all time for sure, and it was awesome getting to watch him pitch for them the past few years. His autograph is a rarity, but I'm glad we finally locked him up in the collection. Three down, now only Rivera to go! Wish me luck!
Thanks again Dad for all of the help! These posts wouldn't be close to as impressive without you! Part 5 coming up next, and be sure to check that one out because it features my experiences with the awesome autograph signing lineup they had at the show!