Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baron Davis: 3/25/15

Former NBA All-Star Baron Davis was signing autographs at a Sprint store in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Davis was one of my favorite Clippers when I first got in to the NBA and was a notoriously tough autograph to get during his playing days, so I was looking forward to meeting him for the first time.

After a long drive I made it to the store a couple of hours before the event was scheduled to start. I wasn't sure how big of a crowd to expect since the event was advertised on both the Clippers' and NBA's Twitter feed, so I decided to be on the safe side since I was on spring break and had nothing better to do on a Wednesday afternoon. Luckily there were only a few people in line, so I decided to walk around the Beverly Center to kill some time.

When I got back I met up with my friend Michael who had an entire inventory of things for Baron to sign. He offered to sell me one of his extra Clipper swingman jerseys for a good price, so I decided to buy it off of him. When Davis finally showed up thirty minutes late, the jersey was the first item that I got signed.

I decided to ask for a personalization on the jersey since he was once one of my favorite players in the league. Also his autograph is not worth a ton so I knew when I bought the jersey that it would likely remain in my PC forever. For whatever reason the paint pen bled slightly right after I got the signature, but I was still happy with how it turned out.

Since the line was so short, I was able to go back around and get my photos signed. The first is an 11x14 of him with the Cavaliers, and the second is an 8x10 from his early days with the original Charlotte Hornets.

I was pleasantly surprised with how nice of a signature he gave out on both photos. Judging by the signatures that I've seen in the past, it looks like he has humbled down a lot since his days in the Association. Either way, it's always cool to meet one of your favorites in any sport. A big thanks to Michael for the jersey and to Sprint for putting on the event. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Training 2015

(My apologies for this post getting up so late. It was written in early March just after I got home from Arizona, however it never uploaded for some reason.)

There's no better time of the year for baseball fans and collectors than when pitchers and catchers first report for Spring Training. While that day came and went a few weeks ago, it was just this past weekend that I was finally able to make the trip out to Arizona for my annual Spring Training getaway. 

This year I would only be taking a two day trip to Arizona, however. After last years Spring Training haul there were very few guys remaining in the Cactus League that I still needed. Also, my wallet was still crying a bit after my trip to Houston last month, so I had to scrap together what little bit of money I had remaining just to get enough supplies for the weekend.

My first stop of the weekend came Saturday morning at the Diamondbacks practice fields. Despite hearing rumors of insanely large crowds earlier this Spring, I still decided to try my luck with the D-Backs, a team I've been successful with in past years. I ended up getting several new 2015 Heritage cards signed along with some others.

I was also able to get former World Series hero Joe Carter to sign a baseball with the "2x W.S. Champs" inscription. Carter was my main goal aside from Yasmany Tomas at the D-Backs camp, so I was happy to add him to the collection. 

My last autograph came from another D-Backs coach, Mark Grace. I was debating on dropping a ball on Grace since my supplies were limited, but after Tomas made it clear that he wasn't signing I decided to use the ball that I had set aside for him on "Gracie" instead. He was also kind enough to add "01 Champs".

After D-Backs practice my friend Mike and I high-tailed it to Scottsdale where there was a "free" baseball fan fest going on. There were supposed to be multiple guests and a few HOF'ers attending the event throughout the day, so our hope was that we would be able to score their autographs as well. The first person we ran into was Ferguson Jenkins, who was signing autographs for his foundation. He was only asking for a $20 donation to sign any item you had, so I decided to get a ball signed with "HOF 91".

After walking around for a few minutes I decided to go back and get a card signed as well for another $10. I really liked the design of his 2014 Ginter card and always feel good about donating to charity, so I figured "why not?". I was also able to get a photo with him the second time around.

We ended up finding out that the other guests would not be signing autographs for free. Even though it was advertised as a free meet and great event, it would cost you $100 to guarantee an autograph and a chance to meet each player. I really hate promoters who lie about their events so instead of paying the fee, Mike and I left and drove over to the Oakland A's game where we saved $80 and got Rollie Fingers instead.

I ended up spending another $20 to get a second, and very special, ball signed by Rollie. Fingers attended my high school from 1961 to 1964, and you'll find various plaques with him on it all around the campus, so I decided to get another baseball signed with the years that he went there. The inscription may have actually devalued the ball, but it's a very special one to me.

After that we made our way back to the Baseball City fan fest event to try and get the players walking around. Since there were no night games there wasn't much to loose by standing around for a few minutes. I ended up coming away with a few nice signed cards.

We also were able to get Steve Garvey to sign a few cards, but for whatever reason my scan didn't come out for it or one other group of cards.

Day two was a shorter, but equally as eventful day. It started out early Sunday morning at the Indians lot where I only came away with David Murphy and a few guys on a 2015 Heritage team card.

If anyone can guess all four signatures on the team card correctly, then I'll send you a prize pack with some autographed cards. One of the four should be fairly easy, but the other three are difficult.

I then made my way over to the White Sox camp which was a poor choice quality wise. Jose Abreu would not touch a pen and Jeff Samardzija happened to be pitching that day, so he did not come out for morning practice. Chris Sale is injured as well, so I wasn't expecting to get him in the first place. I did come away with a few more 2015 Heritage and some other signed cards.

I was able to get top prospect Carlos Rodon to sign a ball, so the trip to Camelback was far from an entire loss. I've heard some bad things about Rodon in the past, but he was very friendly and signed more autographs than any other Sox player.

My final stop for the trip was at Peoria for the Rockies-Padres game. Peoria is, in my opinion, the best stadium in the Cactus League circuit when it comes to autographs. I've always done well there in the past and this day was no different. While I wasn't able to get 3/4ths of the Padres big offseason acquisitions, I was still happy with the results.

Unfortunately the second scan was the other one that didn't turn out, but for those who are interested I was able to get Brandon Morrow, Matt Wisler, and Cameron Maybin on two each, and Carlos Quentin and Drew Stubbs of the Rockies on one each. Sorry to deprive you of seeing those *sarcasm*.

Overall it was a quick but successful trip. 70 autos is a bit less than what I've got in past years, but for two days I'd say I did fairly well. I'm happy with the results and had a good time in the process. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vernon Davis: 2/28/15

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was scheduled to sign autographs at the GNC store in Culver City. Davis has been one of my favorite players on my favorite team for years, so when I found out about the signing the night before I was very much looking forward to it.

I got to the mall half an hour before the signing was scheduled to start and lined up about 75 people back. Davis actually started signing a few minutes early, but the line was practically crawling at the beginning. After a while the line picked up and eventually I made my way to the front. The people running the event were saying only one item per person, but Davis was signing two for anyone who asked, so I ended up getting a Niners mini helmet and a baseball signed.


The mini helmet came out a bit streaky but the baseball definately made up for it. With some help I was also able to get a pair of cards signed. I'm not much of a football card collector but I will admit that these came out great.

A big thanks to Vernon Davis for being awesome and taking the time to sign multiples, inscribe, and take photos with everyone in line. Also it was nice seeing my friends Larry, Mikey, David, and Benson in a breif offseason cameo.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tristar Houston Collectors Show

With the exception of Spring Training in Arizona, it's not very often that I get to travel outside of California for autographs, so when I got the chance to fly to Texas for Tristar's annual Houston Collectors Show I was overly excited to see new faces and get some legends who rarely come to the west coast.

The show was slated for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, however the Friday line-up only consisted of two Astro rookies who weren't worth while. So instead I decided to check out Dallas and it's many sights, which included AT&T Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, and a Dallas Stars game at the American Airlines Center.

Whenever I'm outside of California I always like to check out at least one new stadium or arena, so being able to check out three in one day was great. The only disappointing part was that the AT&T Stadium field had dirt over it and was prepared for Motorcross, so my brother-in-law (pictured above), father, and I weren't able to see it in it's full glory. Although I will admit that it was still pretty glorious, and that's coming from a 49ers fan.

Saturday was technically the second day of the show, but for me it was my first. After a long drive from Dallas to Houston we were able to arrive at the show just in time to get the first person that I had an autograph ticket for. Ironically, it would also be the best guy that I would get all weekend.

Had I not been holding the jersey in the photo I would bet that 75% of the people reading this would not recognize who the guy on the right was, and understandably so. He is not looking all too great, but none the less I was able to get the great Nolan Ryan to sign my authentic Mitchell and Ness jersey.

It was a great honor getting to meet Ryan, who was not only one of the best pitchers in baseball history, but also in Angels history. Unfortunately he's only come to California once in the past several years, so I figured that this would be my best, if not only shot of meeting him.

After getting Ryan I had to run, and I literally mean run, back to the car to get my football for Len Dawson. Dawson was scheduled to sign after Ryan, but since Nolan was taking so long to get through his massive line, Dawson had already finished his by the time I got my jersey signed. I did just barely catch him as he was about to head to the back room and we talked for a few minutes before he signed my football.

My final autograph of the day came from Cowboys HOF'er Bob Lilly. With the purchase of each autograph ticket you were supposed to receive one free inscription from Lilly. When I got up to the table I asked for the "Mr Cowboys" inscription on my Dallas mini helmet, but Lilly ended up putting both that and "HOF 80" on it as well.

My second day at the show was much more eventful than my first. That's because there was going to be many more baseball legends on hand as compared to just Nolan Ryan on Saturday. My first autograph came from one of my favorite players when I first got in to baseball, Lance Berkman. I got him on a ROMLB with "2011 WS Champs".

One thing that I noticed about Berkman was that he took a lot of pride in other people's items. He would make sure that each pen was prepped well and even asked for a really thin Sharpie on the guys cards in front of me. It was nice to see him actually care about the autograph as opposed to just signing it with whatever.

Signing at the same time as Berkman was Roger Clemens. I really wanted Clemens autograph to go along with my Barry Bonds items that I got last year. I only had one inscription ticket for Clemens, but I decided to ask for "86 AL CY/MVP" just to see if I'd get away with it. The handler next to him didn't say a thing when I asked Clemens the inscription and he ended up turning it in to two separate inscriptions. 

Right after Clemens was Andre Dawson and Steve Carlton. I also had a Craig Biggio ticket at the same time but since his line was ridiculously long, I decided to get Dawson and Carlton first.

By then the Biggio line had calmed down, so I jumped in it and got my authentic Astros jersey signed with "HOF 15".

Aside from Ryan and Clemens, Biggio was one of the guys that I was most looking forward to getting. I had been hoping that he got in the Hall of Fame since his first year on the ballot, and the timing of his election worked out perfectly for me.

After Biggio I had tickets for Ozzie Smith and Wade Boggs. Both guys were extremely nice and I ended up paying for some extra inscriptions for both of them.

The final autograph that I got for myself came from the newest Arizona Diamondbacks GM, Dave Stewart. I was happy to see Stewart's name added to the show since I always passed on him when he was an agent in the LA area. Luckily I was able to find a 1989 World Series baseball and got him to sign it with the WS MVP inscription.

My actual final autograph came from Roy Oswalt. Oswalt was a part of a package deal that I boguht which included line priority passes. The passes proved to be extremely helpful, but I wasn't extremely interested in Oswalt, so I offered to get my friend Rob a card done for his set. Oswalt was probably the least friendly of the guys I met. He barely acknowledged anyone and looked at me like I was from a different planet when I told him to "have a nice day". the whole interaction was strange but it assured me that I didn't want his autograph in my collection. Never the less the card came out fine.

Overall the entire weekend was great and meeting so many legends and Hall of Fame members in just two days was priceless. I look forward to my next Tristar show and will certainly start to frequent it over GTSM. Both of GT's shows that I have attended were laughable compared to this one in all aspects. Hopefully this is the start of another great season of baseball graphing. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dodgers Fan Fest: 1/31/15

On Sunday, January 31st, the Los Angeles Dodgers held their 4th annual Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium. This was the first year that I decided to attend the event despite missing out on getting any autograph vouchers when they went on sale. Luckily my friend Alex had an extra voucher for the Joc Pederson/Mickey Hatcher line and I was able to pick up a voucher for the Zach Lee/Brandon McCarthy line the night before on Ebay.

After battling with some Los Angeles traffic I finally arrived at Dodger Stadium and met up with Alex and his brother Rob. Several Dodger Dogs later (Yes, they're as amazing as advertised) we made our way over to the autograph lines to wait for the next session. Both of my vouchers happened to be for the 12:10 session, so I had to get a spot at the front of the Pederson/Hatcher line in order to make it through the line quickly and jump in the Lee/McCarthy line.

All three of us got spots near the front of the line and made it through within a few minutes. I was able to get Mickey Hatcher on a ball with "88 W.S. Champs Dodgers". It was nice to get Hatcher who was not only a World Series hero for the Dodgers in 1988, but also the hitting coach on the Angels 2002 World Series winning team.

Mickey Hatcher autographed baseball
Next up was Joc Pederson, who is projected to have a break-out year in 2015. Pederson played down the road from my house in A-Ball two seasons ago. I ended up getting nearly 30 cards signed by him throughout the year but never thought of getting a baseball done. I finally decided to drop one this time around and Joc was nice enough to inscribe "PCL 30/30".

Joc Pederson autographed baseball
After getting Pederson, Rob and I got in the Lee/McCarthy line. Zach Lee was another guy who I watched play on the Quakes. He was never the easiest autograph to get even in A-Ball, so I was happy to get a ball signed with "2010 1st Round Pick". Unfortunately his autograph is pretty basic but hopefully he'll have a good season in 2015.

Zach Lee autographed baseball
Next to Lee was Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy is one of the funnier guys in baseball and when I handed him a Diamondbacks card to sign he said "I'm going to do something here" and ended up drawing a "LA" over the D-Backs hat.

I got the second McCarthy later in the day at another session and the Kendrick came from my friend Marc who got a free voucher for his session. I'm sure Howie will take over as the Dodgers' go-to guy when it comes to free signings much like he was with the Angels.

I decided to bail after getting the second McCarthy and called it a day. I know a lot of people who were able to get Zack Greinke vouchers for later in the day so congrats if you are one of those. Luckily I got three of him two years ago on a rehab assignment so I wasn't concerned about getting one more. Overall it was a good day graphing with Alex, Rob, Ryan, Josh, David, and others. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eddie Guardado's Stars and Strikes Bowling Event: 1/25/15

Former All-Star pitcher Eddie Guardado held his fourth annual Stars and Strikes bowling event on Sunday, January 25th. The event is usually one of the best offseason graphing opportunities for So-Cal graphers, but unfortunately it has been hectic and packed with autograph seekers the past couple of years thanks to blogs like my own. This years guest list included Jered Weaver, Torii Hunter, Garrett Anderson, Josh Hamilton, Troy Percival, and others. Unfortunately Hunter and Anderson were no-shows, and guys like Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre were too buy with their team's Fan Fests to attend.

One of the biggest shocks of 2015 happened right before I got to the event. Apparently Jered Weaver stopped and signed about twenty autographs on his way in to the event. Weaver is a notoriously tough autograph to get and I didn't truly believe it until my friend Alex showed me his 2012 Heritage card that he got done for his set. I wasn't too disappointed since I have a nice collection of Weaver's, but it was still surprising to hear about.

Throughout the night I was able to get cards signed by Scott Erickson, Gary Matthews Jr., Brett Tomko, and Eddie Guardado.

It may sound quirky but I was happy to finally get Matthews' autograph. I watched him play in an Angels uniform for years ad for whatever reason he was always a tough auto to get during his playing days. My friend David was extremely excited to see him since he was finally able to get his game used bat signed. You can check that out on his blog here.

After the event Josh Hamilton came over to sign autographs. No matter what his stats are, I'll always have respect for Josh and the way he treats the fans. I didn't come prepared with any photos or commemorative baseballs so I settled for the standard ROMLB sweet spot. 

Josh Hamilton autographed baseball
Finally I was able to get the before mentioned Scott Erickson on a baseball. My friend Mike and I turned out to be the last people waiting for Erickson to come out and he couldn't have been nicer. We talked for about five minutes and he ended up putting both "No-Hitter 4/27/94" and "91 WS Champs".

Scott Erickson autographed baseball
While I did miss out on getting Weaver it was still nice to see some friends and get some graphs. I was also able to strike a deal with my friend for one of his extra Dodgers Fan-Fest autograph vouchers, which I'll be attending next weekend. Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cal State Fullerton Alumni Game: 1/24/15

On Saturday, January 24th, I attended Cal State Fullerton's annual baseball alumni game. There were actually two alumni games scheduled on Saturday, but I decided to go with Fullerton's game over UCLA's. I still don't know the reason why I chose Fullerton, but something made me change my mind at the last second since I had been planning on going to UCLA all week.

Once I got to Fullerton I was able to catch up with a friend of mine, Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen was the first round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 and was a mid-season All-Star at Double-A Pensacola this past season. He has been extremely friendly since his college days and always goes out of his way to come over and say hello, even at Reds Spring Training last season. This time I brought some Reds cards along for him to sign and, as usual, he knocked out all six for me. He inscribed a bible verse on three of the six including my favorite verse on one.

By the way, I finally figured out the art of scanning cards. Ironically it took me just minutes to do something that I had been trying to figure out for years. It definitely will make posting cards a lot easier for me in the future.

I was also able to get some cards signed by Astros prospect J.D. Davis and big-leaguers Justin Turner and Reed Johnson.

The rest of the event was a bit of a dissapointment. I was hoping for Phil Nevin, Tim Wallach, or even Rickey Romero to show up, but none of them did. Kurt Suzuki was in Minnesota for Twins Fest, so he wasn't able to show up either. Luckily Royals rookie Christian Colon showed up to the game for the first time in a couple of years. I got Colon on a few cards last month but this time I came prepared with a 2014 Postseason baseball. Colon gave me a great signature and inscribed it "2014 Wild Card Winning Run!" for the run he scored off of Salvador Perez's walk-off hit to win the WC game for Kansas City.

Christian Colon autographed baseball
The ball came out great and it was nice seeing some friends and finally watching some baseball again. I'll likely attend UCLA's game next year, but then again I typically say that after every year, so I guess only time will tell. Thanks for reading!