Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My First Box Break (Sort Of): Leaf 2015 Autographed Baseball Edition

It's been quite a while since my last few posts, and I've been trying to fill up my September tab with at least a couple of posts before the month is over. In case you were worried, I can assure you that you did not miss much. September has always been a tough month when it comes to autographs, and this year there was an added kicker. Aside from school starting up and having to deal with homework, AP classes, etc., there was also a new addition to my family (I'm now officially an uncle). With that being said, there are a few things that I could post about, but I figured that this would be the most informative and interesting read.

For the second straight year (at least to my knowledge), Leaf released it's "Autographed Baseball Edition" boxes. They are available at Target for $40 each and includes one random autographed baseball. Now who that baseball is actually autographed by is sort of a crap-shoot. I've seen boxes with baseball signed by Ken Shamrock (yes, the wrestler) to Frank Thomas or Ivan Rodriguez. Some of the baseballs pulled are worth $40 on a good day, however I came across the final box at my local Target and decided to give it a shot. Here was the end result:

I ended up pulling a Boog Powell autographed baseball with "70 AL MVP". Powell was a 4x All-Star and, obviously, the American League MVP in 1970. He is also a member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. Considering that Powell is 74 years old and likely never coming out west again, I was more than happy with the pull.

Each ball also comes with a Leaf COA and matching hologram.

If you happen to have some extra bucks lying around then I would suggest seeing if your local Target has a box left. I can't tell you exactly who or what to expect, but I've seen some people end up with Pudge, Thomas, Tony LaRussa, Bruce Bochy, Pete Rose, Jose Canseco, Wade Boggs, Jim Palmer, and even some old team autographed baseballs from the 1980's. It's sort of like going to a casino and playing $40 worth of slots, except you are guaranteed to come away with something in this case. If you've already bought a box or go out and buy one after reading this, make sure to comment who you got. I'm curious if there are any names that I have not heard of yet. Hopefully a few of you found this post interesting. Thanks for reading.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Derrek Lee: 9/18/15

If you've been a fan of baseball over the past decade or so, then the name Derrek Lee likely rings a bell. The former Florida Marlin and Chicago Cub was one of the most dominant first basemen in all of baseball throughout the 2000's. Lee belted 30 or more HR's four times in his career, won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003, and a batting title with the Cubs in 2005. If it weren't for such a sudden fall from grace, Lee would likely be right next to Paul Konerko and Todd Helton as candidates for a late ballot Hall of Fame induction. 

Lee happened to be throwing out the first pitch before the second game of the California League (High-A ball) Championship series in Rancho Cucamonga. I got a last minute tip from one of my friends that Lee would be at the game and decided to head over since it was right down the street. Right as I walked through the front gates, I noticed Lee standing to my left and was able to knock out a pair of cards within second of being inside the ballpark.

The card on the left is a 1994 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes card that I imagine was part of a team set from that season. It happened to be inside of a large box of cards that I purchased for $2 at a yard sale many years back. I was fairly surprised (and impressed) that I remembered the card from so many years ago and was able to dig it up earlier in the afternoon. I've always enjoyed getting minor league cards signed from ballplayers who eventually reached the major league level, so I was very happy to not only find it, but get it signed.

I ended up getting Lee one more time later on in the night. I'd like to think that being a good friend payed off in this case, as I ended up hanging around and helping one of my friends get Lee after the game was over. While he was getting his card signed, I was able to pull out a baseball and got Lee to sign it on the sweet spot.

In the end, it ended up being one of the easier and more random autographs that I've gotten in a while. I was happy to add another all-star to the collection and one that I watched play for many years with the Cubs. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Albert Pujols: 8/22/15

One of my all time favorite players, Albert Pujols, recently held a rare public signing in SoCal a few days ago. For those of you who don't know, the St. Louis Cardinals were the first baseball team that I actually rooted for, and to this day I still pull for them to represent the National League, so it's easy to see why I've been such an avid Pujols fan many years.

Unfortunately, Pujols is far from the friendliest or most willing signer around the ballpark. In several years of collecting autographs, Pujols is one of the few players who I had never gotten a signature from until this signing. Needless to say I was excited to get my first autograph from "The Machine" regardless of the high price tag.

I ended up choosing a 2015 All-Star baseball to get signed. There were several different baseballs that I could've chosen from, but I chose a 2015 for a few reasons. Not only was it his first All-Star Game as an Angel, but it was also his tenth overall ASG, and 2015 will represent the year in which I got it signed.

I think we all have an athlete or celebrity who we like even though they are not the friendliest. It's almost like a guilty pleasure in terms of collecting. Mine is definitely Albert Pujols. I heard some pretty bad stories about him at this signing, and none of them shock me a bit. Overall he was nice to me, but I'm sure that wearing a Pujols shirt while telling him that I've been a huge fan for years helped. There's a much longer version of this story that I can't share yet, strictly because it's still unresolved. I may or may not share it when I get the opportunity. At the end of the day, Albert Pujols still is, and always will be, one of my favorite players to ever put on a baseball uniform, and I'm beyond happy to add his autograph to my collection. Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2015 Tristar National Sports Collectors Convention

*Please note that this will be the longest blog post that I have ever written. It will include roughly twenty-five photos and likely over a couple thousand words, so please keep that in mind as you start reading. If you've have time to kill and enjoy hearing stories about different ballparks and autographs, then enjoy!*

This year I was able to attend the 2015 Tristar National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) in Chicago, Illinois. Attending the National has been something on my autograph bucket list for years, and since Chicago is as far west as the convention will come over the next several years, I figured that 2015 would be the year to go.

On top of attending the National, I was able to visit four different Major League ballparks in and around the Chicago area. I've decided to post the pictures of those separately instead of mixing them in with all of the autographs.

Wrigley Field was the first ballpark that I visited, and aside from the traffic getting there, the experience was great. I say the experience was great because that's exactly what is was. The ballpark itself isn't overwhelming, but the fans, the bleacher seats, and all of the t-shirt and food vendors along the street make it awesome.

Busch Stadium in St. Louis was by far my favorite ballpark that I visited. Ever since I got into baseball, the Cardinals have been the team that I have rooted for in the National League. If you ask me which baseball team I am a fan of, I'll say the Angels, but in reality there are four or five teams that I root for every year. I personally think that's just part of being a baseball fan. Anyways, if you ever attend Busch Stadium make sure to check out the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum at the Ballpark Village. Also, don't sell yourself short and buy tickets anywhere other than in the sections that have access to "Club Redbird".

Miller Park in Milwaukee was a lot of fun to visit. It's a very interesting stadium and unlike any that I've ever visited. There are a lot of neat "little" things that you notice around the ballpark. If Busch Stadium wasn't so damn beautiful, this would've easily been my favorite ballpark from the trip.

The fourth and final ballpark that I visited was US Cellular Field. Overall the "Cell" was a lot nicer than expected. I've heard some pretty bad stories about the ballpark being ugly and plain, but I actually really enjoyed watching a game there.

It probably didn't hurt either that it was Scott Podsednik bobblehead night at the ballpark. The bobblehead is actually huge compared to my other SGA ones, and even included the 2005 World Series patch on the sleeve of the jersey.

Ballparks and bobbleheads aside, the actual point of this post is the NSCC. The show itself was huge and would likely be heaven for some other bloggers that I know, but for me it was mainly about the autographs. I will say this, you can't go to the National without being prepared to spend money. I won't say exactly how much I spent, but it did makes months of saving to afford as many autograph as I did. I used some of that money to purchase a VIP package from Tristar. The package included admission all five days and also came with some cool, limited edition cards from different card companies.

The VIP package also came with a bunch of "free" autograph tickets for the some of the VIP guests. I ended up not using a few of the autograph tickets, but here are some of the ones that I did use:

Rollie Fingers was nice as always and signed a ball with "HOF 92" for me.

Bret Saberhagen has cancelled his last few autograph appearances in California. I was able to get him in person at the Angels/Royals playoff game last year, but this was my first sit down signature from him.

Pierre Pilote was the only hockey autograph that I got. I had originally planned on getting autographs from a few other Blackhawk legends but had to cut some costs after picking up an item that I'll show later on. Still, a 3x Norris winner and HOF inductee isn't too bad.

Cecil Cooper was very business-like while signing but still autographed a ROMLB with "5x All-star".

Todd Hollandsworth was one of the main reasons why I bought the VIP package. His name may not sound familiar to people outside of Southern-California, but Hollandsworth was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1996 for the Dodgers, and hasn't done and autograph signing in California in years.

Lem Barney was extremely nice, however his line was extremely long as well. I had asked him to put "ROY 67" and he also included "HOF 92", so it was well worth the wait.

Dontrelle Willis' line was also very long. I still remember when Willis was expected to be the next star pitcher for the Marlins and eventually the Tigers. Things never fully panned out for him but I was still glad to get him on a ball with "NL ROY 03".

Nate Archibald was also a part of the VIP package. I'm not a huge basketball collector outside of the Clippers and marquee players, so I had him sign a baseball with "HOF 92". He also added his nickname "Tiny" in all of his autographs.

My final VIP autograph came from Maury Wills. Wills has been a name that has been mentioned on this blog many times before. I have gotten his autographs many times but decided to get one last ROMLB with "NL MVP 62" on it.

Those were all of the autographs that came along with the VIP package. It's really a good purchase if you are planning on attending four or all five days of the show. One of the more random autographs not included on the VIP list came from the Rudy Ruettinger. Ruettinger was signing autographs at the Steiner booth for a $20 purchase. I ended up buying a Notre Dame mini helmet for $25 and got Rudy to sign it along with the famous motto "Play like a champion today".

After getting Rudy I returned back to the autograph lines and got the "Ironman", Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken is one of the classiest athletes in all of sports and was the only athlete to take a posed photo with every person who bought an autograph ticket at no additional cost. I got my ball autographed with "HOF 2007" and then got my picture taken with Cal.

After getting Cal I made my way over to the Randy Johnson line. Johnson has always been one of my favorite pitchers of all-time, so it was pretty cool to meet the Big Unit in person.

A last minute addition to the show was Luis Aparicio. By Last minute, I literally mean last minute. Aparicio was added the morning before he was scheduled to appear and I knew that I needed to get a ball signed to go along with my photo that I got signed back in 2010.

Manny Ramirez was making a rare autograph appearance as well, and let's just say that he has earned a lifetime award for the biggest a-hole that I have ever met. There are too many things to talk about, but let's just say that if you agree to do a sit down autograph signing and are getting paid $25,000 to sign your name for two hours, don't ruin people's items by signing in the wrong spot or writing literally an "M" and calling it an autograph. I saw too many people walk away with ruined 2004 Red Sox team pieces because he ignored them their request and/or gave an horrible autograph. Also, don't get up and leave when there are still people in line who already pre-paid for your autograph. I guess that's just "Manny being Manny", and ironically he refused to sign that at this signing. I got pretty lucky and was able to come away with one of the best Manny autographs from the day, but still shame on Manny for being such an arrogant (fill in the blank).

From the biggest a-hole that I've met to one of the nicer guys in baseball, I was able to get Tom Glavine to sign a HOF ball with "HOF 2014". Glavine is the literally the opposite of Ramirez in every way possible, and I couldn't be happier to say that.

These final two pieces were by far my favorite from the show. I've tried hard to pick one that stands out over the other, but I just can't. The first piece is an 11x14 photo signed by two of the greatest players in MLB history, Brooks and Frank Robinson. I was able to get their autographs on separate days and was extremely happy with the way it turned out. It's truly a legendary piece for my collection.

The second piece is signed by one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, John Smoltz. I was able to pick up an authentic Atlanta Braves jersey of Smoltz from one of the dealers at the show and was able to get him to sign it a couple of days later.

That concludes what was the longest recap in this blog's history. Overall the National Sports Collectors Convention and Chicago treated me very well, and I highly recommend it to any collector. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Corey Perry Game Used Skates


I was able to pick up a pair of Corey Perry game used and autographed skates at the Anaheim Ducks' recent team equipment sale. The sale had everything from new and game used shoulder pads to sticks and even goalie equipment. I ended up spending a bit more than I had originally wanted, but I couldn't pass up a pair of skates from my favorite player as well as a former league MVP and Olympic gold medalist. Both skates are in great condition compared to some others at the sale, there is some wear on the toes but the rest of them look great. Both skates are autographed as well.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nancy Bea Bobblehead Day!

For all Southern California bobblehead and autograph collectors, there is an event coming up that I encourage you to check out. I don't usually advertise signings on this page, but my friend at Ultimate Pastime Sports Collectibles will be hosting a bobblehead signing with Dodgers organist Nancy Bea on July 25th, 2015. Bea has been the organist for the Dodgers since the 1980's and is probably the second most popular figure in Dodger Stadium history behind Vin Scully. This will be the FIRST and ONLY Nancy Bea bobblehead produced, so don't miss your chance to get a limited edition bobble and get it signed in the same day for a great price.

You can purchase a bobblehead, get it signed, and get a picture with Nancy Bea for a little as $49.99. There is also a Gold VIP package that includes an inscription. To top things off, there will be free food, drinks, and giveaways all day long! It'll be a great event and a chance to help out one of the classiest businessman in our hobby.

You can visit Ultimatepastime.com to pre-order your bobble, or call the number on the flyer above. I will also place a link the the flyer above the "Blog Archive" on the right side of the screen for future reference.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Angels vs. Yankees: 6/29-6/30

The New York Yankees rolled into town for their first and only season match-up against the Angels. Just like in 2013 when Mariano Rivera was on his "farewell tour", or 2014 when Derek Jeter was on a similar tour, all eyes were focused on one player, and that was Alex Rodriguez who was on his "forgiveness tour". A-Rod has been going from city to city all season long and kissing up to the fans after his recent fiasco. Luckily that meant more autographs and a much friendlier A-Rod than in the past.

As usual with the Yankees, there was a giant crowd at batting practice. Mostly everyone in the stadium was waiting for A-Rod to pick his time and place, and when he finally did it was chaotic. I was able to get a good spot a few feet away from the madness and A-Rod eventually worked his way down to where I was waiting. He was switching back and forth between a Sharpie and a ballpoint pen, and I didn't have time to pull anything else out, so I had to settle for an Alex Rodriguez ball signed in Sharpie. Still, I'll take it.

A-Rod signed for a good ten minutes and I was nearly able to get him again before he took off. Luckily he came over to sign again before game two of the series, and I was able to get another good spot. This time I was prepared with both a ball and a card, so when he started running with a Sharpie I stuck out my 2015 Heritage card and got it signed.

As you can see, I was able to get a hand full of other Yankees throughout the series, including Chase Headley, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, and Garrett Jones. Normally I'd be happy walking away with one or two autographs a day when the Yanks are in town, so all-in-all it was a good series.

My final autograph came from Bengie Molina who was at the stadium to sign his new book "Molina". I had missed out on his last few book signings in the area so I decided to finally buy the book and get it signed. It came out great.

Thanks for reading.