Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 17th White Plains Card Show Recap (III)

Hey guys, Drew back here! As you may have noticed, I wasn't exactly pumped about how things went with my picture yesterday. Fortunately for its sake, I will be hopefully adding a few more big names in October, but that's all I'll say for now. Getting back to this show; I met 2 other players on the day, one being a guy I didn't plan on running into. We'll get into that in a moment, but I'll kick this off by talking a bit about a move I made that day.

Joe Zaccaro, aka "Real-Mccoy2" on eBay (owns the store "Real McCoy Collectibles) has become a friend of my dad and I's over the past year, first by selling and authenticating a Yogi Berra signed ball for us. He's always been into helping me out, whether it be by trading or buying or anything in general. He lives nearby where we are, and we saw (and bought) from him in Cooperstown just a month ago. The first part of business we tended to in White Plains that day was to visit him and see if he'd be interested in William's extra Rickey Henderson signed ball and my Robinson Cano signed 11x14 I've never been a fan of. Sure enough, he took both pieces off my hands, and with a little cash I was able to get William a signed ball he didn't have for his Hall of Fame ball collection, and I got this for myself:

Signed on an Official National League ball is this sweet Vladimir Guerrero autograph! The ball is PSA/DNA and appears to have been signed early on in Vlad's career when he was a member of the Montreal Expos. Guerrero was a great player throughout the late 1990's and all of the 2000's, making 9 All Star teams and winning the 2004 AL MVP award. I've always had a lot of respect for him and his bad ball hitting ways. I remember seeing him play a few times in person, hitting pitches practically in the dirt and still getting hits out of them. I also loved how he would bat without batting gloves, and who could ever forget the pine tar covered helmet he wore every game? Overall, I'm glad I finally lost my least favorite signed photo in my collection (even though it was of Cano) and was able to add Vlad to my collection!

After I finished dealing memorabilia with Joe, I went to meet potential Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz! Smoltz was surprisingly looking lonely that day, as it didn't appear that many people were paying to meet him. I didn't understand that considering his great chances of making it into Cooperstown one day. He didn't end up matching his Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in terms of wins, but a lot of that was due to his numerous injuries that would force him to move into the bullpen. He's the only player in history to have at least 200 wins and 150 saves, showing that perhaps the move to the bullpen shouldn't get into pitcher's heads as much as people say it does. Smoltz did both with success, and was an integral part of some great Braves teams in the 1990's. 

He signed a ball for me that I have already put right next to Jack Morris' in my baseball display, where he should be. In Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Morris and Smoltz faced off in what was one of the greatest pitching duals in postseason history. Morris ultimately won the battle, but Smoltz had plenty to look forward to over the next few years for it to hit him too hard. Morris was Smoltz's boyhood idol, and by comparing their autographs, I wonder if Smoltz practiced signing his name like Morris', because their autographs look extremely similar. Either way, Smoltz was a quiet but very nice guy and I'm really glad he now owns a spot in my baseball collection. Next stop: Cooperstown!

 As we left the signing room, we saw someone walking around shaking hands and taking pictures with fans. We overheard that the player was former controversial Met and Giant outfielder Kevin Mitchell, who was scheduled to sign the day before. He was being interviewed by a local radio show at the County Center however, and he along with his shiny gold tooth posed for a picture with me! It was a nice surprise, although I didn't wind up getting a signature out of it.

Before we left the show, my Dad wanted to treat me by getting one of those unpredictable signed baseball boxes. He let me choose what company and box I specifically wanted, and I went with one of the "Historic Autographs Ball of Fame" balls, which basically guarantees a Hall of Famer. William has busted a few of these in the past, so I wanted to give it a whirl. It turned out to be the most ironic moment on quite an eventful day.

Oh yes indeed, we landed a Gaylord Perry signed ball out of it. There was good news and bad news that came out of this: the good being that since we didn't get to have Perry sign a ball using our other free ticket, we still didn't have him yet... the bad being that this ball cost about $80 more than the free opportunity we were given that day. We don't like to think about that though, so here's our Gaylord Perry signed baseball, inscribed "5 Time All Star". I wish it had the Hall of Fame inscription instead, but these mystery boxes are always unpredictable. Thank you Dad for buying me one though, I really appreciated the gesture even though we pulled someone we weren't exactly hoping to get!

Overall, it was a pretty solid show! I got a lot accomplished, and even though I didn't get a chance to meet Paul O'Neill I think Dad and I found a way to make up for it. Hopefully October will produce who's on the lineup, and if so it should be a pretty awesome show!

See Ya!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Mantle Project: Ooh's, Aah's, and AHHH's!

Hey guys, Drew back here! Another summer is on the backburner, as my senior year is getting closer and closer to making its debut. It's been a summer filled with highs and lows, mainly highs for the most part though as you all have seen. Between the never ending Fanfest/Home Run Derby day, my trip with William to Cooperstown, and what you're about to see below, I think it's safe to say I've had a solid summer.

A few weeks ago, I spent my day with my Dad in White Plains, preparing to add 4 more names to my signed Mantle picture! Originally, my reason for going when I did was to meet "The Warrior", Paul O'Neill, but he had a scheduling conflict and had to cancel last minute. Instead, I met these 4, starting off with Charlie Hayes!

Charlie Hayes was a solid player throughout the 1990's, although he played for more teams than you could count on one hand throughout the decade. He was fortunate to be traded to New York in 1992, and while he had a solid season, it wasn't enough to keep him from being drafted by Colorado in the next year's expansion draft. He returned to the Yankees in 1996 just in time to make the final out of the World Series, the moment he's always been known for. I was born in 1996, so his play has been important to me in many ways.

Charlie was a nice guy in person, although he didn't say a whole lot. He didn't draw the biggest of crowds, but a few big Yankee fans got the chance to shake his hand throughout the day. The only issue with Hayes was that he marked a fairly significant first on the Mantle photo. While Gene Michael originally added his nickname "Stick" on his autograph, and several players added their numbers; Hayes officially added the first legit inscription to the photo. He wrote his number along with "96 WS Final Out" below his autograph, which takes up enough room to take away one less autograph on it for future use. Don't get me wrong, I love that inscription, but on a piece without inscriptions... I cringed a little bit. Fortunately, since he signed off to the side, it won't stand out too much and I'll learn to live with it.

Dwight, otherwise known as "Doc" Gooden was the next on my To-Do list! Say what you want about Gooden's legal issues and substance abuse problems over the years, but he sure has gotten his act together lately. Both times I've met him he's been a really nice guy, and he looks really good given all he's put his body through over the years. I have a strange fascination with players (and people in general) that carry the "What If?" factor, and he undoubtedly has that. He was untouchable in his first few years with the Mets, only to ruin that for himself with drugs. I believe if he never hurt his body, he had the potential to be a Hall of Famer.

Like I said, Doc was an awesome guy, and he signed right next to Hayes on the picture. He looked down at my picture when I first gave it to him and he complimented it, saying I have a nice collection. There is something too awesome about the feeling you get when guys who've accomplished a lot in their lives give you a compliment, so that definitely meant a lot.

Jerry Coleman was probably the one I wanted to add to the picture more than anyone that day. Coleman played with Mantle for parts of 7 seasons, although his career was beginning to slow down at that point. Mantle was on the rise, but Coleman served a bench role for the most part. Coleman has accomplished an awful lot in life; not only was he an All Star and 4 time World Series champion, but he also served in the Korean War as a Lieutenant Colonel (the reason for his nickname, "The Colonel")! On top of that, following his career in baseball he worked as a broadcaster, eventually taking over the San Diego Padres radio announcer job. He was given the Ford C. Frick award in 2005 for his broadcasting efforts, becoming one of 5 players-turned-broadcasters to ever be given the honor.

Before I get to the negative, let me say that I give Mr. Coleman all the props in the world for traveling to this signing. At 88 years old, I can only imagine how much of a drag that would have to be. However, JP's Sports had scheduled him to sign between 1:00 and 3:00, and I had my chance to meet him around 2:00. At that point he was yelling "I have a plane to catch at 2:30, I need to get out of here" and "these photos are the reason this is taking so long, so hurry it up". On top of that, when I politely asked him to sign in a specific location on the picture, he said "how about right here?" and signed elsewhere. He signed in the middle of an open space, leaving small gaps in all 4 locations that most likely can't fit an autograph. I was not impressed with Mr. Coleman one bit, and I thought he had quite the nerve to be as rude as he was. I understand that if you have a flight to catch in a half hour, you have a reason to be flustered, but why on Earth would your flight be leaving before your paid signing session was over. It was ridiculous, if you ask me.

I got really lucky with this next one. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry was the free signer of the day, but the crowd he drew was too large for me to even fathom getting him that day. Eventually his signing session ended, leaving me graphless, and since he played part of the 1980 season for the Yankees, I had wanted him on the picture. My dad talked to one of the guys running the show, and since we have been so loyal to them over the years they let me into the back room the players go to after their signings to get my 1 on 1 chance to meet Mr. Perry. My dad had already met him in Cooperstown and got his autograph on his All Star 8x10, but like I said, I had wanted him on my picture. He was traded to the Yankees in August of 1980, but the main reason they wanted him was to monitor his pitching style to see if he doctored baseballs like many accusations had said. He went 4-4 for New York with a 4.44 ERA, certainly not telling of his great career statistics.

Perry was short, sweet, and to the point with me, and just like Coleman, he didn't sign the spot I asked him to sign. Instead, he signed sideways, taking up a ton of space on the picture. Look, I appreciate these players signing nice and big on my picture, but I have a lot of big names I still want to add to it before I close it off, and I may not be able to at this rate. I don't think I'm being rude by telling them to sign at a certain spot since I say it so nicely, but some just prefer to be ridiculous.

On that note, here's a look at the photo's current status. Gooden and Hayes signed by Mantle's left knee, and a little below them is Perry's huge autograph. Coleman signed close to Jim Kaat and right above Yogi Berra, right in the center of the photo. Quite the large ego for a Hall of Fame broadcaster if you ask me. This project is going to become more and more of a pain as it continues, but the goal is to make it look as good as possible, and I'm going to continue striving for just that. Thanks again to Doc for being the only player I added that day that didn't drive me nuts.

See Ya!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 17th White Plains Card Show Recap (I)

Hey guys, Drew back here! So, last weekend my Dad & I made the journey to JP's Sports & Rock Solid Promotions' East Coast National! I just noticed that this trip marked my 5th consecutive East Coast National, which really speaks for how long I've been involved not only in the hobby but on my blog too. My goal for the show was to meet a solid core of players, most of which to add to my Mickey Mantle signed picture. I also wanted to move some pieces I didn't want and pick up anything that looked interesting.

As usual, I made a stop at my good friend's Rich & Hunter's table! They have treated me fantastically over the years so no matter what my goal for a show is, I always try to take at least something off their hands. I came up with these 6 cards that cost me about $25 in total!

Jeff Nelson was a very good reliever throughout the 1990's, primarily for the Mariners and Yankees. He caught on with the Yankees right on time to win 4 World Series, and he was an integral part of Joe Torre's bullpen. Those teams were just before my time, but my Dad watched a lot of the teams and knows pretty much all of the players. This was my 1st Nelson autograph and I couldn't pass it up for the price.

Johnny Damon was one of the few Red Sox I didn't mind when I start following baseball. Unfortunately, about the time I started following baseball, the Red Sox were on their road to recovery from their 86 year drought. Damon was one of the stars, and I couldn't stand the team, but there was something about that Caveman look that made me a fan. After he hopped over to the Yankees in 2006, I had an excuse to root for him and he was a solid player for the Yankees! I saw this quad relic of his from the World Baseball Classic and for just $3 I had to add it.

I don't have as much Jorge Posada stuff as I do the other core 4 members, so I added this 2007 Topps All Star relic. I don't know if it's the big nose and ears, but Jorge reminds me of the Core Four's version of Ringo Starr. With Jeter and Mo being legends and Pettitte a 'Dark Horse', Posada fittingly resembles Starr.

I always seem to forget about Hideki Matsui also, although I remember watching him vividly as I grew up. Here is a sweet 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings dual relic numbered out of 100 of 'Godzilla', one that won't be leaving my collection anytime soon!

This Topps Tribute Johnny Bench relic caught my eye the second I saw it! After meeting Bench last month and having a relatively nice experience, I'm more than happy to spend a little more on adding to my personal Bench collection. I recently came up with a list of players I'm going to collect from here on out, in an attempt to liquidate all of the rest. I'll have a post all about that coming up soon.

The final card of the 6 was this Reggie Jackson bat relic that actually has baseball seams engraved on the chip! I have a Willie Mays relic from the same set that I believe I bought from Hunter & Rich also, and it'll make a solid addition to my Jackson PC.

There you have it, that was all of the cards I bought at the show! Players and show stories coming soon to a computer in front of you! See Ya!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer TTM Recap!

Hey guys, Drew back here! I realized the other day that while TTM successes were trickling into my mailbox, I haven't posted any of them! I got two nice 8x10 successes, which will have their own individual posts coming up shortly, but here is the best of the rest! Enjoy!

Austin Meadows: c/o Home, 0/2 FAILURE

Austin Meadows, the Pirates' 1st round draft choice this past year, came back as a failure early on in the summer. Fortunately, his mom left me a note saying that he's already left for Florida! I'm going to mail the same card off to Florida when I get around to it, but for now I'm still empty handed on Meadows. It is pretty cool that she wrote a note to me though, and I'd laugh if Austin turned out being a star one day. I'll hang on to this!

Danny Hultzen: c/o Tacoma Rainiers, 1/1 in 14 Days

Danny Hultzen has been one of the best prospects in the Mariners organization since he was drafted 2nd overall in the 2011 draft! He's had his ups and downs throughout their minor league system, but as of right now he is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA in Triple A Tacoma! It should be before long that he'll make his debut in the bigs, and I'm glad I got this when I did!

Didi Gregorius: c/o Arizona Diamondbacks, 1/1 in 70 Days

Mariekson Gregorius, otherwise known as Didi, has been a pretty solid player for the Reds and Diamondbacks in the 2 seasons he's played. He can do a little bit of everything and I'm excited to see him develop as his career continues! He signed a 2013 Topps for me, personalizing it and everything. Awesome success!

Doug Drabek: c/o Visalia Rawhide, 0/2 FAILURE

This failure was by result of my stupidity. I normally double check to make sure I'm sending to a valid address, but it now appears that Mr. Drabek is the pitching coach of the Hillsboro Hops! I'll have to find a different address... whoops!

Jarrod Parker: c/o Oakland Athletics, 2/2 in 129 Days

I thought this request wasn't coming back, but sure enough, young A's starter Jarrod Parker returned both of the cards I sent signed! They both look really nice, and I couldn't have gotten them at a better time! He's been one of my top pitchers on my fantasy team, with a 2.78 ERA in 87.1 Innings for me! While his year long statistics aren't as polished due to a slow start, he's turned it on and has been an important part of the Oakland playoff run!

Jason Grilli: c/o Pittsburgh Pirates, 1/1 in 8 Days

Grilli has one of the best stories of 2013, becoming one of MLB's most elite closers! He had 29 saves going into the All Star break, earning his 1st All Star selection, but unfortunately has only added 1 save since due to a forearm injury. He's been a big part of the Pirates great season, and as a semi-Pirate fan myself this was a request I really wanted to get back.

Joe Panik: c/o Richmond Flying Squirrels, 2/2 in 8 Days

By far my favorite success of them all was from Joe Panik, the young middle infielder in the San Francisco Giants organization! He is one of the Giants best prospects and could take over for Marco Scutaro's spot relatively soon. While all of that is cool, Panik actually grew up in the same county as me, and played for a local high school. He's one of our areas best athletic talents and our county's big baseball fans are all rooting for him to do well! Both cards he signed came out great, and I'm so glad I got a chance to write to him.

So far, it's been a bit of an underwhelming summer with TTM's, but I haven't sent many until just recently. Hopefully the next weeks will be filled with successes, and like I mentioned earlier I do have two more that deserve their own post. The quest to get caught up is going remarkably well, but for now, See Ya!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Touring the Naismith Memorial Basketball HOF!

Hey guys, Drew back here! A couple weeks ago, my family went on a trip to Massachusetts to check out a few colleges. It's getting to be that time where college is a big mark on my radar, and I'm now looking at 5 schools I'm planning on applying to! At the moment, my interest lies in the Sport Management field, and my goal is to work for ESPN or MLB or something similar. Anyway, 2 of the schools we visited happened to be really closeby to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame! I convinced my parents to check it out, and we ended up doing just that.

The top floor was definitely neat. The building is a round shape, obviously resembling a basketball, and the inductees all have photos hanging on the wall that wraps all the way around. I'm not going to lie, it seemed a little subpar compared to the Baseball Hall of Fame I saw just prior to this, but it definitely looked really cool.

The main floor was filled with these little spots in which you could compare your foot size to some of the NBA's greats. This is my size 12 shoe inside Shaq's 23! I've got quite a lot of catching up to do.

With the Hall being closer to Boston than any other major sports town, Larry Bird has a central figure at the Hall. I made sure to benefit my Knicks by swatting the ball out of Bird's hands.

The museum did beat the Baseball Hall of Fame's in its numerous interactive experiences. Here you can see my wingspan compared to current great Kevin Durant's! There were displays where you could test your jump, places where you could relive famous basketball moments by broadcasting them yourself, and the entire first floor was a court that showed the evolution of basketball over time. It was definitely more child friendly than the Baseball HOF.

Of course, they did incorporate some of the typical exhibits you would normally see at a place of this kind. Here is the display of the Miami Heat's 2012-13 title run, which includes the legendary Larry O'Brien trophy! 

You can't have a Basketball Hall of Fame without the G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan! Many of Jordan's legendary moments were captured throughout the museum, including many of his retro Jordan shoes that have current high schoolers oogling all over. I don't see the "let's spend $400 on a pair of kicks" thing myself, but I would wear them if they were cheaper!

Also, the extravagance and flair of "The Worm", Dennis Rodman was one of the cooler displays in the museum. Rodman had just recently been elected into the Hall, which gives hope to guys like JR Smith of today! 

Lastly, I'll leave you with a nice signed Shaq shoe! I remember getting a cheaper pair of Shaq's for rec league basketball when I was little. I was the coolest kid on the court. Just kidding, my foot was just too wide for the Jordan's at the time. Shaq should be earning a permanent spot in the Hall relatively soon!

Well, there it is, the Basketball Hall of Fame all summed up to one post! While it wasn't much compared to the Baseball Hall, it was definitely cool and worth a look for any NBA or College Basketball fans!

See Ya!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Birthday Present from Dad!

Hey guys, Drew back here! To go along with William's great birthday gifts, my Dad also surprised me with something he picked up for me on my birthday! Check it out:

My dad and I both love Yogi Berra, in fact; he has to be both him and I's favorite retired player! So when I first saw "Yogi, It Ain't Over...", I was immediately excited! I have a lot of great books to read, but I haven't had much time for them lately. This one will definitely go onto that list, and it might move ahead of some other books on the rankings! I can only imagine what Yogi had to say in his autobiography! 

But wait.. there's more...

Yep, the book is signed by Yogi also! I can never have enough autographs of his, and I can now add "signed book" to my increasingly impressive collection of his. We came so close to meeting him in Cooperstown, but unfortunately he cancelled. I would still go out of my way to meet him, but I understand that he isn't exactly in mint condition anymore. It may never happen, but I'm still always on the lookout.

Thanks so much Dad for the great gift! I can't wait to read it!

See Ya!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Birthday Gifts from William!

Hey guys, Drew back here! Of all the catch up posts I need to make, this one just may have been the most embarrassing yet. You see, I'm now 2 days away from being 17 1/12 years old, as my birthday was a month ago. William came over shortly after my birthday, so this post has been long overdue. However, it is finally here, and I finally can show you all of the awesome things William gave me for my birthday!

First off, and perhaps the coolest gift, were the 500 Drew's Cards business cards! He had had some made for his blog and went ahead and did the same for my blog! The photo in the background was taken by William at Rickwood Field, and is the same picture I'm trying to fit Negro League autographs on! (Speaking of which, I should get back on that...) We handed out a few in Cooperstown to some interested people we came across, and I'm looking forward to using them in the future!

As William normally does, he included a bunch of cards he didn't want that will fit into my PC's beautifully! One of the cooler side benefits of our friendship is that I really don't spend much on wax anymore, because he pulls so many Yankees out of his! I appreciate all of these bonuses though, and like I said most of these will inhabit spots in my new PC box I'm working (more details some other time)!

The coolest card of them all was undoubtedly this beauty, a 2013 "Baseball" card of his son Chris! Chris was a pleasure to meet on the trip, and certainly provided entertainment when it was most needed. This one will probably find its way into my PC box as well!

He also picked up some sweet vintage for me, including this 1941 Play Ball Tommy Henrich! While I have quite a few cards from the 1960's and 1970's, I haven't gotten to touch on much of the 1940's. William has treated me to some old treasures over the years, but this one may be one of my favorites. It doesn't help the value by any means, but someone crossed out "Outfielder" on the back of the card and wrote Army above his name, obviously referring to Henrich's involvement in World War II. It's a neat back story and certainly adds to the nostalgia of the card!

This 1949 Bowman has a ton of character to it, and that's not even acknowledging the fact that this guy's nickname was "Snuffy"! Snuffy Stirnweiss was a solid player in the 40's, putting up 2 All Star selections and 3 World Series championships on his resume. He tragically died in the Newark Bay rail accident of 1958 at the age of 39.

Matt Hobgood has been a friend of William and I's for a few years now, well, on Facebook! He's a really nice guy and we've both had experiences of talking to him online. This was my first Hobgood autograph, this being out of  2010 Obak, numbered 79 of 125!

In Cooperstown, he also bought me this awesome Warren Spahn signed baseball! Spahn was one of the best pitchers in history, recording 363 wins, most of which being for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. He made 17 All Star teams and was a member of the 1999 All Century Team! Heck, there's even an award named after him given to the best annual left handed pitcher! I really appreciated William buying this great gift for me in Cooperstown, and I'm hoping that I can try to get him back equally for his upcoming birthday!

Thank you so much for everything William, you're a great friend and I enjoyed our weekend we got to spend in the greatest baseball city on Earth! 

See Ya!