Saturday, April 18, 2015

Vince Ferragamo: 4/18/15

On Saturday my friend, Dr. Alex Corbin Liu, hosted an autograph signing with former Rams QB Vince Ferragamo. I decided to attend the event at the last minute since I was already in the area picking up some cards. Ferragamo was signing autographs for free but since I didn't bring anything for him to sign I ended up buying an 8x10 from Dr. Liu. Five dollars and several minutes later I had myself a Vince Ferragamo autograph.

A big thanks to Dr. Liu for another great event. His next signing will be on June 13th with former Slam Dunk Champ James "Hollywood" Robinson. All of the info is on the flyer below for those interested.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Angels vs. Royals: 4/10-4/11/15

The 2015 MLB season is officially underway and the Kansas City Royals came to Anaheim for the first regular season series at the Big A. Historically, the Royals have always been an autograph friendly team, however you could definitely tell the difference in the players' attitudes now that they're legitimate contenders. Still, it was nice to be back at the ballpark and hanging out with friends.

Game One (4/10/15):

Pre-game was, as expected, rough for autographs. Like all Opening Day games, the stadium was packed and there was very little room to move around. It did not help either that Angel Stadium (and all MLB stadiums, for that matter) installed metal detectors at the front gates. Let's just say that I've gotten through airport security quicker than I got into the stadium. I was still able to get autographs from two of the nicest guys in baseball, Kris Meden and Danny Duffy, before the game started.

The three cards at the bottom were all signed after the game by So-Cal native Mike Moustakas, Jason Vargas, and Chris Young.

As usual, the Angels had a big pregame ceremony to celebrate the new season. This included a fly-over, player introductions, etc. If you've never been to an Opening Day game, I recommend doing so. It's a great experience for any baseball fan.

On hand to throw out the first pitch was former Angel pitcher Mike Witt. Witt has always been a tough autograph to get since he rarely comes to Angel games and does not sign TTM (through the mail). The only times that I've seen him at the ballpark was during the Angels 50th anniversary season in 2011. Ironically, I saw him at both games that I went to this weekend, and had him sign a ROMLB.

I had to ask Witt to sign it under the sweet spot instead of on it. That's because I planned on turning it into a dual ball with Mark Langston. Langston and Witt threw the first (and only) combined No-Hitter in Angel history on April 11th, 1990, so I had Langston, who started the game, sign it on the sweet spot with the inscription later that night.

The ball might be irrelevant to anyone else, but for an Angel fan like myself, it's a great piece to have.

Game Two (4/11/15):

Game two was pretty much a carbon copy of game one. I didn't do great the first half of the day and only got some cards signed by a few Royals.

Amongst those five cards you'll notice a card signed by Jeff Montgomery. Montgomery is the Royals all-times saves leader, and I had no idea that he was traveling with the team until this awesome experience: While waiting for Royals players to come in, a man dressed in a Royals t-shirt came up to us and asked if we were autograph seekers. Of course, we said yes and the man proceeded to ask if he could borrow a Sharpie. One of my friends, Jeremy, asked if he was a fan looking for autographs and the man replies, "No, I'm an old player and got these cards in the mail to sign. I asked the front desk for a Sharpie and they didn't have one". He then pulled out some cards from an envelope and it was none other than Jeff Montgomery. He ended up giving me one of the cards since I let him use my Sharpie, so if anyone gets their Montgomery TTM back one short, thanks for the card. 

My day took a turn for the better right before the game started as I was able to get the best player in baseball, Mike Trout to sign a ball. Trout ran with a blue Sharpie right before the game was about to start, and I didn't have time to pull out anything other than my ball, but I can't complain since I was one of the very few that he sweet spotted.

The final autograph I got came from Eric Karros. Karros was calling the game for Fox Sports 1 and stopped to sign on his way out. Unfortunately he was in a hurry and was giving out sloppy autographs. Had I known this I wouldn't have asked for an autograph, but he was still kind enough to add "92 ROY".

That wrapped up the weekend. A shout out to the usual including Mike, David, Ryan, Phil, Scotty, and others. Thanks for reading!  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Angels vs. Dodgers: 4/3/15

The Dodgers came in to town for their annual Freeway Series exhibition game against the Angels. In the past few years I've done poorly whenever graphing the Dodgers, however it was my first opportunity to get back to Angel Stadium and watch some baseball. 

As usual, the morning started off poorly thanks to Southern California traffic. I ended up missing out on a few good names including Joc Pederson and Don Mattingly who apparently signed on their way in. Luckily, I was still able to grab a few good graphs pre-game, including cards signed by Juan Nicasio, Joel Peralta, Yimi Garcia, David Aardsma, and a team card by Chris Hatcher, Paco Rodriguez, and Alex Guerrero.

My final autograph before the game came from Yasiel Puig. I'm not the biggest Puig fan in the world, but I was happy to see him come over and sign almost exactly where I was standing. I ended up getting my 2014 All-Star game baseball signed underneath the logo, my first Puig autograph since his A-ball days.

I was only able to get three autographs post game, but all three came from the two guys that I originally wanted going in to the day. The first came from top prospect Joc Pederson, who signed a ROMLB for me underneath the MLB logo. I asked him for the sweet spot several times but considered myself lucky just to come away with one of the few autographs that he signed.

Thankfully I was able to get a Pederson sweet spot at Dodger Fan Fest in January. I can already tell that Pederson will be a tough autograph to get in the future, so I'll likely hold on to both baseballs and the cards that I got signed when he was in A-ball.

My final autographs came from Dodger skipper Don Mattingly. I had been carrying around my authentic Yankees jersey of Mattingly for years, so it was quite a relief to finally get it signed. Unfortunately, I didn't have a ton of time to prep my paint pen so the beginning of the autograph came out a bit light.

As you can see, the jersey is photographed with the other three baseballs that I got signed. The one in the middle was my second Mattingly autograph courtesy of my friend Moe. The ball is an old American League baseball from the Gene Buding days, which means that it was made anywhere from 1992-1999, the tail end of Mattingly's career.

A shout out to Alex, Rob, Daniel, David, Mike, Phil and Moe as usual. I look forward to posting more baseball autos as the season rolls around. Thanks for reading!

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!