Friday, April 29, 2011

Pack Break: 2011 Gypsy Queen

What better way to celebrate the royal wedding day than with a few packs of Gypsy Queen? I bought 4 packs at $6.50 each, and here are the highlights:

  • Carlos Pena mini- Black border/back
  • Robinson Tejada mini- Gypsy Queen back
  • Mickey Mantle- The Great Ones
  • Trevor Cahill- Future Stars
  • Manny Ramirez-Home Run Heroes
  • Alfonso Soriano- SP
  • Evan Longoria- Game-used jersey card
  • Albert Pujols- Paper Frame #524/999
  • Johnny Bench- Red Sox logo on the back of the card?
Gypsy Queen has a nice mix of current and former players, with less of the randomness that Allen & Ginter is known for (I'm looking at you, American Bald Eagle and Francisco Pizarro). There is a series of actual "gypsy" cards in the set, but I dodged the bullet on that one. It's nice to get a few extra cards per pack (10 per), considering the price point is a dollar or two higher than similar products. The Longoria card is slightly damaged on the bottom, but I'm not sure if it would qualify for a return from Topps, especially if I run the risk of getting a lesser player in return.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Training Return: Joel Hanrahan

  • Joel Hanrahan 1.5/3- Joel signed his 08 Topps Heritage nicely and kept my 09 Topps U&H. The third card I sent to him, a 2010 Topps, was signed so quickly that most of the ink ended up on the inside of the return envelope. The inverse signature on the inside of the envelope stayed intact pretty well, so I might keep it just for kicks. Sent 2/14 (74 days)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Training Return: Charlie Manuel

  • Charlie Manuel 1/1- The Phillies skipper signed his 09 Topps card from spring training, postmarked from New Jersey. This was a nice surprise, as I thought he typically sends pre-signed postcards after the first few weeks of spring training. Sent 2/28 (52 days)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Training Return: Trey Hillman

  • Trey Hillman 1/1- The former Royals manager and current Dodgers bench coach signed his 09 Topps card from spring training in just over a month. I really like when players/coaches take the time to sign their full name like Hillman did on this card. Sent 3/14 (34 days)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rays @ Red Sox, 4/12

Another game, another loss for the Red Sox. I only got one autograph last night, but it was exactly who I wanted. Johnny Damon signed his 09 Topps card near the dugout right before game time. I thanked him for '04 and he chuckled.

Note for anyone planning to go to Fenway this year: The gates open 1 1/2 hours before game time, shortened from 2 hours last season. By the time the gates are open, the Red Sox bullpen is already in the clubhouse so there's no chance of getting autographs from them out on the field.

  • Johnny Damon- 2009 Topps

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thrice as Nice with David Price: Rays @ Red Sox, 4/11

This was a pretty lousy performance by the Sox yet again, mostly courtesy of Dice-K. I shook hands with Milan Lucic as he was walking from the field up into the stands. I didn't have any Bruins items with me or I would've tried to get an auto from him. I managed to get David Price on three cards in one night. I've tried to get him both TTM and in person over the past few years and haven't had any luck, so it was nice to finally get him. Price makes an appearance on 3 different cards from the 09 Topps set, and I got him to sign each one. I'll be at tomorrow night's game as well, so I'll upload scans on Wednesday.

  • Matt Joyce- 2009 Topps U&H
  • David Price- 2009 Topps #'s 22, 35, & 321

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Yankees @ Red Sox, 4/9: Good Karma Pays Off

This morning I tried to get Yankees autographs before the game outside Fenway, but to no avail. Even worse, the Red Sox lost yet again.

Luckily, I was able to get some good karma going during batting practice.

When the gates opened, I immediately headed down the first place line in hopes of seeing the full Boston bullpen working out. Unfortunately, the Yankees had already taken the field for batting practice, and there wasn't a single Red Sox player in sight. Robinson Cano was tossing balls to the sparse crowd from the infield, and I missed the first one thrown towards me, crushing a plastic card case in my pocket in the process. A few minutes later, a little boy on crutches came up next to me, and I immediately thought, "this kid should have a ball."

At this point I noticed Jon Lester doing an interview with Ken Rosenthal for Fox Sports along the first baseline. Cano continued to throw balls into the crowd, but to the far left and right of me. The last ball he threw went straight to me, and I immediately gave it to the kid next to me. At that point I decided I'd have no luck going for Sox autographs, so I started walking towards the other side of the park. As I was about to leave the area, Lester finished his interview and started signing up a storm right as I walked to the end of the dugout.

I was lucky enough to get Lester to sign a card, and I like to think it was good karma from giving the little boy a ball since he's not the easiest autograph to get these days. It made me feel even better about doing a nice thing for a little kid and getting something unexpectedly good in return. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  • Jon Lester- 2009 Topps

Friday, April 8, 2011

Opening Day 2011: My First IP Successes of the Season!

I had to work today for the Red Sox Opening Day, but I went down to the stadium after work to take in the post-game atmosphere. I managed to get there at the end of the 8th, and I started to walk down Landsdowne, the Dropkick Murphy's "Shipping Up to Boston" started playing, and it gave me goosebumps. After a particularly brutal New England winter, baseball has finally returned to Fenway, and everything in the world feels right again.

After wandering through a sea of fans leaving the game, I hung out by the NESN broadcast booth on Yawkey Way to see if any players would walk by. Recent call-up Alfredo Aceves popped out from the stadium for a minute, so I had him sign a card for my first IP autograph of the year. He has a pretty interesting signature, and an even more interesting signing technique, holding the pen awkwardly with his thumb, middle, and ring fingers. I waited around for the TV broadcast to end a few minutes later, and I got Dennis Eckersley to sign a card as well. It's always a good start to the season when you can get a Hall of Famer on day one.

  • Alfredo Aceves- 2009 Topps (available for trade)
  • Dennis Eckersley- 2010 National Chicle (Bazooka Back)

TTM Return: John Olerud

  • John Olerud 2/4- Two-time All-Star and World Series champion John Olerud signed two cards for me from his home in Washington. He also included a letter about The Jordan Fund, a charity created for his daughter with special needs. Sent 1/20 (79 days)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mystery Sig Revealed!

Do you know whose signature this is? I sure didn't when I got it. When I got this player's autograph last summer at Fenway, all I knew was that he played for the Orioles and didn't want to stop walking to sign my blank card, so I had to hold the card for him as he walked.

Luckily, Ryan over at The Great Orioles Autograph Project was able to shed some light on the subject, and was able to identify the sig as Garrett Atkins. Thanks for the help Ryan!

Monday, April 4, 2011

2 Spring Training Returns: Javier Vazquez & Gaby Sanchez

Two returns from the Fish in the mail today, after a miserable Opening Weekend from the Sox...

  • Gaby Sanchez 1/3- The Marlins first basemen signed his 09 Topps rookie card and returned the other two cards I sent him unsigned. Gaby was nice enough to personalize the one card that he did sign. Sent 2/16 (47 days)
  • Javier Vazquez 2/2- Vazquez signed 09 Topps and U&H cards from Florida. Now that he's returned to the National League, hopefully he will have a much better season than he did last year with the Yankees. Sent 3/4 (31 days)