I came back home from the holidays to a RTS envelope from Edgar Renteria, as well as a 2009 Topps set card signed by Jim Leyland. I've always respected Leyland's old school, "don't take crap from anybody" approach to the game, and it was nice to add a longtime manager of the game to my collection. This brings my 2009 Topps set completion up to 50 cards. Sent 12/11 (14 days)
I sent out a 2000 Fleer Legends of the Game card to Lee Smith about 4 months ago and received it back signed on Saturday. Hopefully with some of the weaker Hall of Fame classes as of late, he has a shot to make it in sometime in the near future. Sent 8/14 (134 days)
Arrived home in Maryland with 2 envelopes waiting for me today. The first was a RTS from Scott Lewis that I sent to the Columbus Clippers several months ago. I was only disappointed momentarily until I saw the next envelope postmarked from Fort Worth, Texas. After seeing return after return from Josh Hamilton, mine finally showed up. Josh signed a 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces rookie card, as well as a 2009 Topps card for my set. Sent 8/28 (116 days)
It seems like the forwarding service for my new mailing address is finally starting to catch up with my older TTM sendouts. I received the following returns today:
Tony LaRussa- 1/2 Signed an '08 Topps but not the '09 I needed for my set! Sent 9/21 (78 days)
Jed Lowrie- 1/1 '08 Topps Rookie Card, Sent 4/9 (8 months! New Record!)
Aaron Laffey- 2/2 He doesn't have a regular card in the '09 Topps set, but he signed a combo card of him and Jeremy Sowers, as well as a '09 Heritage card as well. I'll send to Sowers during spring training. Sent 9/9 (90 days)
Jair Jurrjens- 1/1 '09 Topps, Also sent 9/9 (90 days)
Mark Teixeira- 0/1 Returned my '09 Topps card unsigned with a form letter on Yankee letterhead stating that he couldn't respond to fan mail due to overwhelming response, Sent 9/28 (72 days)
I sent Mr. Konerko several cards to sign last week, and he quickly returned copies of his 2007 and 2009 Topps cards signed in some type of thick brown sharpie. Although the signatures don't look that great, it was nice to get back some cards from a seasoned veteran c/o their home. Sent 11/25 (8 days)
While going through some of my older cards the other day, I found a few from the 2001 Topps Archives set. The set is basically just reproductions of popular cards throughout the years, as well as final-year cards for some players like Dick Groat. Mr. Groat was the 1960 NL MVP and well-known for his double play tandem with Bill Mazeroski. Very quick return, and his signature is still just as nice as it was over 40 years ago. Sent 11/23 (8 days)
I've heard of how great a signer Duke Snider can be through the mail, but for some reason I never had any cards of his. I picked up a UD Legends of New York card of his when I went to Cooperstown for the induction this year, but decided to save it for the offseason when TTM returns slow down. A great return from a great Hall-of-Famer. My 50th return of the year! Sent 11/17 (10 days)
In non-sports news, Best Buy had a great Black Friday deal on a scanner/copier/printer, so I should be updating some of my most recent autograph returns with pictures in the near future.
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet John Krasinski (Jim from The Office) while he was in town promoting his directorial debut, an adaptation of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. John is a native of Newton, so it was fitting that he premiering the film in Boston. The event took place at the Brookline Booksmith.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to have him sign anything other than a promotional postcard for the movie, and we couldn't take pictures with him. However, he is every bit as funny in real life as he is on t.v. and it was great to meet him.
John Krasinski- 1/1 Brief Interviews with Hideous Men promotional postcard
A few days later, the same bookstore was promoting a reading/discussion/signing with Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated. The book was adapted for film a few years ago with Elijah Wood as the lead actor.
Foer discussed his newest work on factory farming, Eating Animals, at a synagogue down the street from the bookstore. Following the discussion, Foer went back to the bookstore to sign copies of all of his books.
Jonathan Safran Foer- 2/2 Personalized copies of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
For some reason, Mike Cameron had a base card in both Series 1 and Series 2 of the 2009 Topps set, despite playing exclusively with the Brewers all season. Mike signed both cards in a very nice silver sharpie, bringing my total count for the complete 2009 Topps set up to 43 cards. Very quick return! Sent 11/9 (7 days)
Even though the TTM returns are becoming few and far between now that the season's over, there's still a few trickling in from time to time. David Eckstein signed a 1999 Bowman Rookie Card, as well as a 2009 Topps base card for my set. Sent 8/19 (73 days)
I received two cards signed by Dave Roberts today, a 2009 Topps and 2009 Upper Deck. I sent to Dave last month c/o the NESN sports network in Boston, but the cards were postmarked from San Diego. For anyone that doesn't know about "The Steal", Dave Roberts helped turn around the 2004 ALCS for the Red Sox when they were about to be swept by the Yankees in Game 4. Roberts stole 2nd and scored on a Bill Mueller single, and the rest is history. Sent 9/24 (23 days)
I sent to Brandon Phillips back in July and decided to re-send at the end of the season since I hadn't heard back. He signed a 2009 Topps card for my set, as well as a 2009 Allen & Ginter. I tried something new with my final batch of sendouts so I'm hoping to get faster responses like this one. Sent 9/28 (17 days)
If there's anything this weekend taught me, it's to be prepared for anything. I actually didn't get any autographs this weekend, though I probably should have.
I went to Albany for a wedding on Friday and it turned out there was a new movie being shot around the corner that would involve Will Ferrell and Jerry Seinfeld in some capacity. Unfortunately, neither were actually there as they were only filming action shots with stunt doubles. I did, however, get to see a dummy of Ferrell in a bullet-riddled Prius.
On Friday night I walked to my car through the hotel lobby and noticed a big white bus pulling up. As I was walking outside, the entire New York Nets team got off the bus. I've never tried getting basketball players' autographs, and I'm not sure if there's anybody even worth getting on that team, but it was crazy to see just how tall the majority of these guys when you're standing next to them in an elevator.
On Sunday we headed to Boston to look for apartments and decided to go down to Fenway to watch the end of the regular season across the street at Cask & Flagon. After the game was over, we headed over to the players' parking lot to see Pedroia, Varitek, and Papi each drive off to a loud ovation.
I of course didn't come prepared with sharpies or cards, but I did get a picture with Michael Bowden. He had just won his first game of the season, and graciously took pictures and signed autographs for everyone that was willing to wait. Fortunately I already had his 09 Topps card signed on 2 different occasions so I settled with just getting a picture.
The lesson here is, always be prepared with a sharpie and something to sign because you never know who you're going to bump into.
I've always heard that Justin Masterson is a great TTM signer, but I didn't have any cards for him until I purchased the 2009 Topps set. He has always been one of the friendliest Red Sox players and I was sad to see him go at the trade deadline. On the day he was traded, I saw him in the dugout saying goodbye to everyone and giving hugs to the coaches. While those kinds of moments aren't usually publicized, it adds a human element to the game that makes it a more overall enjoyable experience. Sent 9/4 (21 days)
This was the final weekend for me to get autographs and it turned out to be a great one. I went for autographs inside and outside the stadium on Friday, outside the stadium Saturday, and inside the stadium Sunday.
Sunday turned out to be an unsuccessful day. I was able to get in at the same time as season ticket holders thanks to a special pass a friend gave me, but I staked out a spot in front of the dugout and batting practice was taken indoors. We were asked to leave the seating area much earlier than usual due to a youth parade they were having. Buchholz signed down the 3rd base line but I chose to stick near the dugout.
Sunday: No Autographs
I got to the stadium around 12 on Saturday, and arrived to a much larger crowd than there was on Friday. However, it still turned out to be a great day as a managed to get the following:
Clay Buchholz (Sweet spot on a baseball)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (09 Topps)
Hideki Okajima (09 Topps)
Michael Bowden (09 Topps- already had one personalized TTM but the sig was fading)
Friday turned out to be the best autographing day I've ever had. I arrived around 10:30 in hopes of getting Terry Francona on his morning walk, but he seemed grumpy and didn't want to sign. After several hours of waiting with no cabs, I was worried the day might turn into a wash. However, it turned very successful in a hurry as Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay showed up and were nice enough to sign for everyone, and the captain Jason Varitek signed my #33 jersey. It was already a great day, then it got even better inside...
Outside the stadium:
Jason Varitek (jersey)
Jason Bay (09 Topps)
Kevin Youkilis (09 Topps)
Inside the stadium:
Victor Martinez (09 Topps)
Jonathan Papelbon (09 Topps- didn't switch to sharpie but a sig's a sig)
DAVID ORTIZ (baseball)
I still can't believe I got Big Papi. I was able to get into the stadium early, only to find that the section near the dugout where I usually stand was roped off. Great, I figured I wouldn't have any luck at all. Then I noticed Papi milling around down where I could normally stand, and then sat on the wall near the netting behind home plate. It was like a tease. In a brief moment of blind courage, I hopped the ropes and went down to Ortiz and asked him politely if he could sign my baseball for me. I handed him the ball and a pen under the netting as the usher yelled at me, but I got Papi's signature to cap off the best day I've had.
I had free tickets to the game, so I decided to go early and get some autographs inside the park. I was going for Rays, but I was also prepared with some O's prospect cards as it was Minor League Appreciation night. I missed Brandon Waring on the last day of the season at Bowie, but I spotted him behind homeplate in a suit as he was supposed to receive an award, so I got him to sign a card for me.
Ben Zobrist (09 Upper Deck- for trade)
Carl Crawford (09 Topps)
Evan Longoria (09 Topps)
I was very exciting to get Longoria as I'm sure he's becoming increasingly more difficult to get as his young career progresses. Overall, a very good night for only doing pre-game inside the park.
Andruw Jones- This is my longest return of the season thus far. At 2 months and 2 days, it eclipses the previous record held by Rangers teammate Elvis Andrus at 2 months and 1 day. The signature smudged a little bit, but still a nice looking Topps Chrome insert. Sent 7/10 (62 days)
This was the best day I've had all season doing major league autographing in person. I arrived at Camden Yards around 12 and there was a steady stream of players all the way up until about 3:00.
Outside the stadium:
Inside the stadium:
The main thing I learned today is that these Topps 2009 cards have nicer signatures when they're unprepped than when they're prepped with erasers. I plan on trying out the baby powder technique if I start to see bubbling, but it looks like the cards give pretty good signatures without any prepping.
I sent out a 2009 Topps card to Pat Neshek today as my 100th TTM autograph request of the season. Pat has an awesome signature and I haven't sent to him before, so I thought he would be a good person to have as the 100th sendout.
I received my complete, factory-sealed set of Topps 2009 Series 1 & 2 today for about 1/2 retail price on ebay. Even though the season's almost over, I can get this set going in full swing as I try to get as many cards as I can signed from the 660 card set. It also came with an extra pack of 5 Red Sox cards since it's a special "Red Sox Edition" of the set. I'm going to Camden Yards tomorrow to try my luck at the Rangers in person, so hopefully I'll have chiseled away a small chunk of the set after tomorrow.
Today I received back a 2005 Topps Cracker Jack card signed by Bill Mueller, who helped the Red Sox turn things around in the '04 ALCS by hitting an RBI single off Mariano Rivera in Game 4 to take the game into extra innings. Sent 8/14 (10 Days)
I've decided to take a stab at working on a complete set to get signed. Someone over at Sportsgraphing.com has a blog documenting their TTM successes for the 2008 Topps set. I'm going to try my luck with the 2009 Topps set since it is relatively inexpensive and the cards have nice big pictures with minimally distracting borders.
As of right now, I'm working with some singles I've already purchased from packs, but eventually I'll buy the complete 600-something card set at Target for $50. This should help keep my random pack-buying habits under control, as I'll have to spend a decent amount of cash on stamps instead.
I already have the following cards signed from this set:
That means I already have 0.45% of the set completed! Woohoo!
Curtis Granderson- He was considered one of the most prolific TTM signers for a while, but unfortunately he now sends a signed postcard and no longer signs individual cards. A technical success I suppose, and at least I got my card back. Longest return of the year so far. Sent 5/6 (105 days)
I started a team ball yesterday just so I could get back into the groove of getting autographs, and I ended up with 8 players:
I only went 15 minutes before game time so I wasn't trying to go all out, but it felt good to get some autographs. Whether it's minor leaguers or pros, I still get excited every time I get an autograph, regardless of the caliber of player or talent.
It's been a rough several weeks with very few autographs to speak of. I took a break from sending out cards for a few weeks in hopes of getting some returns, but I'm ready to keep sending since I'm not getting anything back. Going out today:
Hopefully I'll have something to report about in the next few days.
I ended up going to each game of the Sox series at Camden (Sweep!), but it was a rough weekend for autographs. I managed to get Mike Lowell and Nick Green on a ball outside the stadium on Friday, as well as a Boog Powell 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game card that I picked up in Cooperstown. I didn't get a chance to go for autographs on Saturday unforunately, and on Sunday I was completely shut out. Nick Green did sign inside, but I didn't have anything for him. My luck with IP autographs the last few weeks have been about as good as TTM lately.
I took the light rail down to Camden today to get tickets for this weekend's series against the Red Sox and took some Kansas City Royals cards just in case. I ended up sticking around for a few hours with some rain storms mixed in, but it was a pretty good haul for the day. Here's what I got:
John Bale- '09 Upper Deck
Mark Teahen- '08 UD Documentary
Gil Meche- '09 Topps Heritage
Billy Butler- '07 UD Masterpieces
Alex Gordon- '07 UD Masterpieces
John Buck- '09 Topps
I also got to meet Tim Kurkjian from ESPN, and had him sign a blank card. He was a really nice guy that apparently is there pretty often since he's from the Baltimore area. For a day that I had no intention of getting autographs, it turned out pretty great.
I went to Cooperstown this weekend for the first time in 7 years for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and it was great to step back into childhood and return to a place that's remained relatively unchanged for so many years. Both Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson gave quality speeches, but my favorite moment was the standing ovation for Yaz. I was finally able to get my hands on some cards of former players that I didn't have before, so I'll be sending out more cards through the mail soon. (That's me with Luis Tiant in the picture.)
Jim Lonborg- I have been trying to learn more about Sox greats of the past and found that Mr. Lonborg is a great signer through the mail, but I only had a card of him in a Phillies uniform. I asked him if he could exchange it for a Red Sox card, and he obliged. Very quick return! Sent 7/13 (10 days)
I just sent out an '08 A&G Adam LaRoche card this morning, and they just announced he's been traded to the Red Sox. It's nice that the Red Sox picked him up, but I guess that's one card I won't be getting back.
Joey Votto- Sent an '09 Upper Deck, received an '06 Bowman that wasn't prepped well. Slight bubbling, but still a fantastic return in about a month! Sent 6/13 (39 days)
Garret Anderson- '02 Stadium Club Gold. I've learned my lesson with this one, don't send thick stock cards through the mail! The sorter had its way with it. Tons of minor wrinkles, but a nice big signature on a horizontal card. Sent 7/10 (12 days)