Monday, December 12, 2011

TTM Return: Josh Hamilton

  • Josh Hamilton 1/2- I just picked up my first few games of Red Sox tickets from the box office at Fenway tonight, and it was a nice surprise to find a few TTM returns waiting at home. One of the games I bought was against the defending A.L. Champions, the Texas Rangers. Hopefully this year I'll have a chance to get an in-person auto of Hamilton. Last year I only got to go for Rangers autographs on a Sunday, which is the one day of the week he'll never sign. For now, I'm happy to add this card to my 09 Topps collection. It might be a little more challenging to get Cabrera and Morneau on there as well. Sent 9/12 (90 days)

Spring Training (2010!) TTM: Randy Wolf

  • Randy Wolf 1/2- This was the longest wait I've had for a return to date. I sent out 2 cards to Randy during Spring Training of last season when he was first signed with the Brewers. He signed his 09 Topps and returned his 08 Topps unsigned. Sent 2/13/10 (668 days)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pack Pull Auto: Jon Jay

The second autographed card I pulled today was of Jon Jay, and came from a jumbo pack of 2011 Topps. I haven't found the Topps 60 insert set all that interesting, but it was nice to get another auto version of one of these cards. I pulled a similar card of Chris Getz when Series 1 came out at the beginning of the season. Jon is featured on this card for having the top batting average in the National League in July 2010.

Pack Pull Auto: Kolbrin Vitek

Today I went to a card shop north of Boston that I hadn't been to in a while, and I picked up a jumbo pack of 2011 Topps and a regular pack of 2011 Bowman. I lucked out and pulled an autograph in each pack, though neither was quite as impressive as the one I got last month. In the pack of Bowman, I found an auto card of Red Sox prospect Kolbrin Vitek. I saw Kolbrin play in Lowell with the Single-A Spinners team last season and had him sign a few programs at that time. He was a First Round Draft Pick last year, so hopefully he will find his way to the majors after a few more seasons.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pedro Martinez

Today I went shopping at the Home Goods in Bedford, MA. I walked up and down the aisles, looking for a great deal....

Cy Young Winners.

The best deal in the greater Boston area this weekend was definitely at this special event on Saturday, where Pedro Martinez hosted a charity toy drive to benefit cancer patients at the Dana Farber Institute and underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic. By donating two toys, you could receive an autograph from Pedro on anything you wanted.

I saw some pretty impressive pieces, including a full stadium seat from Busch Stadium where the Sox reversed the curse in 2004. It seemed like most of the attendees had been waiting for years to get Pedro on some team-signed items, but I didn't really have anything in particular I needed signed.

Still, the prospect of getting a Red Sox legend and future Hall of Famer like Pedro for a few toys was a steal. It also gave me an excuse to patrol the toy aisles at Target to see how much cooler Lego's and action figures have become since I was a kid.

The line moved fairly slowly, but fortunately the store was very strict about one autograph per person. It seemed like Pedro signed inscriptions when requested, which may have attributed to the slow moving line. I was very happy to get cards from the 2008 Allen & Ginter and 09 Topps sets signed with some help.

It was great to get a few autographs and help out some needy kids during the holiday season, and I couldn't have done it without the help of my sweet, charitable, and kind fiancee', who will no doubt be watching this blog post closely for me to thank her for standing out in the cold with me for four hours. Without her help, I wouldn't have been able to get the nice looking Allen & Ginter signed that you see above.

When I came home tonight, I was surprised to see a headline stating that Pedro would be officially announcing his retirement in the next few days. If he truly does decide to retire now, then today's event seemed like a fitting farewell for the local crowd after so many memorable years in Boston.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

TTM Return: Fred Lewis

  • Fred Lewis 2/2- Fred signed cards from the 07 and 09 Topps sets from his home in Mississippi. My 300th autograph of the year! Sent 5/25 (174 days)

Friday, November 18, 2011

2008 Topps Box Break: The Greatest Pull of My Life

Every Friday, I stop by Kenmore Collectibles around the corner from Fenway Park, and I usually pick up a few packs of whatever's new in baseball. This week they were very limited on their offerings, so I grabbed a few packs from their clearance table. On the way out, I noticed a box of 2008 Topps Series 2 sitting on the table for $27. I took a few steps outside, then figured it would be fun to rip a box for a reasonable price, so I stepped back in and grabbed it.

I usually only buy one box each year, and I was planning on waiting until the Black Friday deals on I'm really glad I didn't let someone else grab that box of 08 Topps, because it was well worth the $27. Here's the coup de grace, the grand finale, the piece de resistance!
  • Randor Bierd gold border RC #1255/2008!

It was quite an achievement, I was already on cloud nine, when suddenly:

  • ALBERT PUJOLS Autograph/Game-Used Jersey #1/25!!!

I think it's time for me to stop buying packs, I've peaked. I'm sure plenty of people on here have had better pulls, but for somebody that only buys one box a year I was pretty stoked. This is by far the best card I've ever pulled from a pack.

AFL Return: Brandon Crawford

  • Brandon Crawford 1/1- The second return of the day came from the Giants rookie, who made his major league debut on May 27th this year. Brandon signed a card from the 2011 Topps Update set. This was my 100th return of the year! Sadly, I don't think there will be too many more coming my way for a while. Sent 10/27 (22 days)

AFL Return: Jedd Gyorko

In addition to a dreaded RTS envelope from Yasmani Grandal, I received 2 good returns from the Arizona Fall League today.
  • Jedd Gyorko 1/1- The Padres prospect signed a Bowman's Brightest insert from the 2011 Bowman set. Sent 10/27 (22 days)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TTM Return: Juan Pierre

  • Juan Pierre 2/2- The speedy Chicago outfielder signed cards from the 08 and 11 Allen & Ginter sets, including a jersey number and Psalm on each. Sent 8/24 (75 days)

  • Fun Fact: Juan was named after Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal.

AFL Return: Adam Eaton

  • Adam Eaton 2/1- Adam signed the 2011 Topps Heritage minors card I sent him and threw in an extra one as well. Sent 10/27 (11 days)

Friday, November 4, 2011

AFL Return: Scooter Gennett

  • Scooter Gennett 1/1- After several weeks of no mail action, I sent out minor league cards to players in the Arizona Fall League last week and received my first return today. Scooter signed his 11 Topps Heritage minors card in blue sharpie. Sent 10/27 (8 days)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spring Training Return: Brandon Morrow

  • Brandon Morrow 3/3- It's nice to get a few more offseason returns rolling in as the World Series approaches. Brandon signed cards from the 09, 10, and 10 U&H Topps sets from Blue Jays spring training. Sent 2/12 (245 days)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

TTM Return: Brian Roberts

  • Brian Roberts 1/1- Since Brian spent most of the year on the disabled list, I sent him a card from the 08 Goudey set during the summer and received it back today. Sent 6/27 (112 days)

TTM Return: Joe Blanton

  • Joe Blanton 1/1- I sent Joe his card from the 09 Topps set way back in July of last year, and just received it back postmarked from Tampa. Sent 7/16 (454 days)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spring Training Return: Kevin Frandsen

  • Kevin Frandsen 2/2- I originally sent cards to Kevin at the Padres' spring training camp, but he ended up in the Phillies' farm system this year. He signed 09 and 10 Topps cards with a postmark from Phoenix, Arizona. Sent 3/8 (216 days)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TTM Return: Troy Percival

  • Troy Percival 1/1- A member of the 300 Saves Club, Troy signed his 09 Topps card from his home address in blue sharpie. With this card, I finally achieved my goal of getting to 220 cards for my set by the end of the year! Sent 6/3 (129 days)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hockey TTM: Nicklas Backstrom

  • Nicklas Backstrom 3/2- The Capitals' center signed cards from the 09-10 Victory and Score sets, as well as one of the protective index cards I included with my request. Sent 1/20 (261 days)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bruins Fanfest

I couldn't afford tickets to tonight's game, but I did head to the Garden for the pre-game festivities. While game 7 of last year's Stanley Cup Final played on a big screen along the outside wall of the arena, various carnival games and freebies stretched out alongside the North Station terminal. Finally, the cup was paraded down Canal Street atop a Boston Ladder 1 fire truck. This was followed by a procession through military and police officers, arms outstretched with white hockey sticks to form a tunnel leading into the Garden.

The NHL Network had a booth set up with two Bruins alumni, so I got a few free photos. It was a good way to start what should be another great season of hockey.
  • Reggie Lemelin- personalized 8X10
  • Ken Linseman- personalized 8X10

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TTM Return: Jason Grilli

  • Jason Grilli 2/2- Jason must have taken his mail on the road with him, signing his 09 Topps U&H and 2000 Finest cards with the envelope postmarked from Milwaukee, where the Pirates ended their season. Sent 9/12 (21 days)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spring Training Return: Jeff Karstens

  • Jeff Karstens 1/1- I don't remember seeing this card or sending it out during ST, but after a long wait I received it back signed in black sharpie. This return finally puts me at a 50% success rate for spring training sendouts, and puts me just one card away from my goal for the 09 Topps set for this year. Sent 2/12 (227 days)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Orioles @ Red Sox, 9/21

My final Sox game of the regular season was also the last one at Fenway this year, so I took advantage of the extra day of vacation I had after my Ireland trip and went for some autos outside and inside the stadium. It was nice to get a few cards signed by Wieters before the season ended. Hopefully the Red Sox can hold on and make it into the playoffs to extend my autograph season for a few more weeks.

Outside the stadium:
  • Matt Wieters- 08 Razor, 07 Tristar Pro Debut
  • Jeremy Guthrie- 10 Topps
  • Nolan Reimold- 09 Topps U&H RC Gold
Inside the stadium:
  • Josh Bell- custom Orioles logo card
  • Larry Lucchino- blank card
  • Chris Davis- 09 Allen & Ginter, 09 Topps

TTM Return: Sean Casey

  • Sean Casey 2/2- The Mayor signed cards from the 08 Topps and 02 Fleer Platinum sets from the MLB Network studios. My cards were returned in an envelope with the network's logo on it. Sent 5/25 (115 days)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frank Turner

While I was in Ireland, I went to see Frank Turner (acoustic folk/punk artist from the UK) at a show in Cork. I talked to him for a few minutes at the bar after his set, took a picture with him, and had him sign the cover art from his first album.

Here's a link to one of my favorite songs of his if you're interested:
Try This At Home- Frank Turner

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mobile update: Zdeno Chara at Logan International!

It's always good to carry a sharpie no matter where you go. Just met Chara at the airport and he signed my Bruins championship hat. My flight to Ireland was delayed by 3 hours, but if it had been on time I wouldn't have got the auto. Good start to the trip!

TTM Return: Hideki Matsui

  • Hideki Matsui 1/1- This was a nice surprise to find in the mail today. Hideki signed his 09 Topps from Oakland for my set. Now I only need 3 more cards to reach my goal for the year! Sent 8/2 (41 days)

TTM Return: Heath Bell

  • Heath Bell 2/2- San Diego's closer signed 2011 Allen & Ginter and 2009 Upper Deck cards in blue sharpie. Sent 8/22 (21 days)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TTM Return: Orlando Hudson

  • Orlando Hudson 2/2- One of the fan friendliest players around signed cards from the 2010 Topps Chrome and 2011 Allen & Ginter sets. Sent 8/27 (14 days)

Friday, September 9, 2011

TTM Return: Jeremy Guthrie

  • Jeremy Guthrie 1/1- This was my 4th attempt trying to get this card knocked out for my set, and Jeremy finally came through with what I needed, personalizing his 09 Topps card in blue sharpie. The envelope was postmarked from Tampa, where the Orioles played over the weekend, so I guess Jeremy takes his mail along on road trips. Sent 7/13 (56 days)

TTM Return: Graham Taylor

  • Graham Taylor 1/1- The Marlins pitching prospect signed his rookie card from the 09 Topps U&H set. Sent 8/31 (9 days)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

TTM Return: Eric Sogard

  • Eric Sogard 2/2- Oakland's young infielder signed rookie cards from the 2011 Heritage and Allen & Ginter sets in just under a week. Sent 8/31 (6 days)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rangers @ Red Sox, 9/3 & 9/4

With my trip to Ireland just a week away, I tried to get some graphing in over the past couple days. By the time I get back, I'll only have a series with Baltimore to get more autographs before the regular season ends. Yesterday I didn't realize the game time had changed until the early afternoon, so I didn't have time to catch players coming into the park. Today the area was swamped with dealers so I wasn't too successful.

Some of the dealers in the Boston area have gotten really aggressive and rude, shouting profanities at players when they don't sign. I wish there were more people that still just did this for fun and didn't take things so seriously, it reflects really poorly on the graphing community as a whole when certain individuals decide to act like idiots because they didn't get the chance to profit off of any of the big stars.

Saturday 9/3, Inside the stadium pre-game:
  • David Murphy- 2011 Gypsy Queen
  • Ron Washington- 1987 Topps
  • Derek Holland- 09 Topps U&H RC, 09 Topps Ticket to Stardom RC
Sunday 9/4, Outside the stadium:
  • Ron Washington- 2011 Heritage Rangers team card
  • Yorvit Torrealba- 2010 Topps

Saturday, September 3, 2011

TTM Return: Chris Perez

  • Chris Perez 2/2- The Indians closer signed cards from the 2011 Heritage and Allen & Ginter sets. My returns had started to slow down, so I started sending to sure bets like Chris who sign reliably and quickly. Sent 8/27 (7 days)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

TTM Return: Pedro Feliz

  • Pedro Feliz 1/1- The former Phil signed his 09 Topps card from the Padres' AAA affiliate in Tucson. Sent 8/12 (19 days)

Monday, August 29, 2011

TTM Return: Cory Luebke

  • Cory Luebke 2/2- San Diego's rookie lefty signed cards from the 2011 Topps and Heritage sets in blue sharpie. Sent 6/27 (62 days)
The returns keep rolling in. What started out as a really slow month has turned into my busiest since Spring Training.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Athletics @ Red Sox, 8/27

Had to get a little bit of graphing in before the crazy weather hit. I got free tickets to the second game of today's doubleheader, but that game looks like it's in serious jeopardy right now. I went down to Fenway this morning and didn't have much luck with the A's, just like last time. You can tell by the picture why I like the 09 Topps and not last year's, I don't use baby powder to prep my cards and for some reason the 2010 set always bubbles up on me.

  • Brandon McCarthy- 09 Topps U&H
  • Darnell McDonald- 10 Topps
  • Andrew Miller- 09 Topps

TTM Return: Carl Pavano

  • Carl Pavano 1/1- The steady returns continued this week with a signed 09 Topps from the Twins starter. The signature is a little smudged, but I was happy to get this one back. Sent 7/12 (45 days)

Friday, August 26, 2011

TTM Return: Jason Motte

  • Jason Motte 2/2- The Cardinals reliever signed his 09 Topps rookie card, as well as a 2011 Topps. Sent 8/15 (11 days)

TTM Return: Amanda Beard

  • Amanda Beard 1/1- The former Olympic swimmer and Playboy Playmate signed a 2011 Goodwin Champions card from home. The envelope was postmarked from Gayle Beard, her mother perhaps? Sent 7/13 (43 days)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

TTM Return: Randy Wells

  • Randy Wells 2/2- The Cubs righty signed his 09 Topps U&H card, as well as a gold parallel from the same set. Sent 7/28 (27 days)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spring Training Return: Tom Gorzelanny

  • Tom Gorzelanny 2/2- This is my second return from a Nationals pitcher in the past week. Tom signed 09 Topps U&H and 08 Allen & Ginter cards in black sharpie. I didn't realize he had a card in the 09 Topps base set until after I sent this out, so I'll have to re-send to him sometime next season. Sent 2/12 (192 days)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

TTM Return: Jordan Zimmermann

  • Jordan Zimmermann 1/1- The young Nationals righty signed his 09 Topps Updates & Highlights rookie card. This was my second time sending this card to Jordan, as he kept the first one I sent during spring training. Sent 8/10 (10 days)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New York-Penn League All-Star Game in Lowell, MA

Last night the Lowell Spinners hosted the All-Star game for the short season single A league. I arrived late, so I missed the National League's signing and only managed to get the pitchers from the American League's signing. I don't do much minor league graphing, so I only had a few cards to get signed. I got most of the guys inside a free program that featured each of the all-stars from both leagues.

They gave out nice commemorative tickets, ticketholders, and posters after the game, and it was definitely the best weather I've had all summer to watch a baseball game. I was hoping that a few old timers would be floating around, but the only memorable person I noticed was Sergeant Mickey O'Keefe of "The Fighter", who happens to be a real cop in the Lowell area.

  • Rich Gedman- 1988 Topps
  • Garin Cecchini- 2011 Bowman
  • American League All-Stars- 11 players in the All-Star program

Monday, August 15, 2011

TTM Return: Matt Harrison

  • Matt Harrison 2/2- After almost a full month without any TTM returns, I finally broke the streak with a return from the Rangers pitcher. Matt signed his 2009 and 2010 Topps cards in black sharpie. Sent 7/28 (18 days)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fenway Park Can Drive, 8/6

I've gone through a bit of an autograph drought both TTM and IP recently, so on Saturday I decided to stock up on some canned goods and stop by Fenway to donate as part of their annual charity event. For 10 cans, you can pick a 5X7 photo card signed by a player on the team.

When I got there, a decent line had already formed. There are 3 booths set up around the stadium, but I got just enough cans for 2 photos. Last year, myself and many others bulked up on ramen noodles that counted as 1 item, but this year they caught on to our thriftiness and required 30 ramen packages for one auto, so I cut back on what I brought this year. I had my hopes set on getting Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez. Last year I got J.D. Drew, Dustin Pedroia, and Josh Beckett.

Pictures of Gonzalez were already gone by the time I got to the front of the line, but I was still able to get autographs of Ellsbury and Youkilis. I hadn't gotten autos from either of those guys since I lived in Maryland a few years ago, so it was nice to add a few more to my collection.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Royals @ Red Sox, 7/27

Today didn't turn out quite as good as yesterday, but I still had a solid outing with the Kansas City Royals. Here's how I did:

  • Aaron Crow- 10 Topps Royals team card
  • Jeff Francis- 08 Allen & Ginter
  • Brayan Pena- 09 Topps U&H
  • Jeff Francoeur- 08 Allen & Ginter, 06 Bowman Chrome
  • Tim Collins- 11 Topps RC (X2, one available for trade)
  • Mike Aviles- 09 Topps, 09 Topps Heritage
My goal for this year has been to get to the 220-card mark for the 09 Topps (1/3 total of the set). Only 10 more to go this season!