Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Most Sought Out Autograph Ever

You would think by the title that I would be talking about a Hall of Famer, possibly a World Series hero, or maybe even a player from my favorite team, the New York Mets. No, it's none of those. My most sought out autograph ever was a minor leaguer that spent 7 years in A ball, played 7 games in AA, and 9 games in AAA, all with affiliates of the Chicago White Sox.

In 1993 I started going to Florida State League games. It's considered high A or advanced A, sometimes even written as A+. To keep up with roster changes, I relied on my subscription to Baseball America. A publication which was delivered every 2-3 weeks.
I would go through the rosters days before I was planning to see teams play, either when they visited the Clearwater Phillies or Dunedin Blue Jays, and see if I had any baseball cards that matched the names. When I went through the Sarasota White Sox roster before their scheduled series in Clearwater, there were a few names that I had cards of. Glenn DiSarcina, younger brother of Gary. Kerry Valrie, who I made the mistake of calling "Keith," because that's what his baseball card said his name was. His teammates had a good laugh, though Kerry did not seem amused. A name I was very familiar with that I hoped would make the trip, and did was Mike Dunne, who was making rehab appearances for them.
One name that I recognized, but didn't seem to have a card of was Nilson Robledo. The name was familiar because I knew my brother had a card of him. I loved the look of that card.
Photo courtesy of tradingcarddb.com
I remember the first time seeing that card and thinking it was Frank Thomas pictured. In 1991 Classic Best put Kerry Valrie's name as Keith, why couldn't they mistakenly put Frank Thomas on someone else's card? That's why the name stood out when I saw his name on the roster. My brother was excited about the opportunity to get that card signed. I, on the other hand, was desperate to locate one for myself. Remember, this was 1993, there was no eBay to go to buy virtually any card in existence. Also, baseball card shops didn't exactly load up on singles of minor league cards. They'd sell boxes and packs, but that was pretty much it. Determined to get a Nilson Robledo card in my collection, I went to a card shop and bought a box of 1991 Classic Best.
Photo courtesy of Pinterest
36 packs in the box x 12 cards per pack = 432 cards. There are 396 cards in the whole set. I was bound to pull a Nilson Robledo card and possibly even build a complete set. 
I remember getting to the remaining few packs, still not a Robledo card to be found. I was getting nervous. I didn't even care if I pulled that coveted Mike Schmidt autographed card, goddammit, I wanted a Nilson Robledo. I open the last pack. I can't recall who was in it, but I can tell you that Schmidt and Robledo weren't a part of it. I was so pissed. I bought a box looking for one specific single and didn't get it. The next day I went to see the Sarasota White Sox. I got a few autographs for myself and my brother got some, too, including his Nilson Robledo.
Photo courtesy of briansautographs.blogspot.com
For years, my brother would tease me for not having Robledo's autograph in my collection. I'm not sure if he's going to update his website, briansautographs.blogspot.com, but if you read what he wrote about his Nilson Robledo autograph, he says,
This card has always been a source of competition between my brother and I. He bought an entire box and this card was not in it. Sadly, my brother always beats me in our little competition by reminding me that he has Derek Jeter's autograph and I don't... But I still find it funny.
Later in that summer of 1993, Nilson was voted a Florida State League all-star. Fleer ProCards put out a set with him in it and I bought it, but unfortunately, I never saw Nilson play again, or ever for that matter.

Fast forward 25 years later. This past spring I was looking at the Tampa Bay Rays home schedule. I knew the National League East was scheduled to play interleague games against the American League East, so I looked to see when the Mets were coming. Alas, the Mets were the only team in the division not scheduled to visit. However, the Washington Nationals were scheduled for a quick 2-game series. I had remembered long ago that Nilson Robledo, long retired from the game, was a bullpen catcher for the Montreal Expos and moved with them to Washington. Surely, he couldn't still be with the team in his late 40's, could he? A quick Google search revealed that he still held the position. I fully intended on going to at least one of those 2 games.

I'm writing this post literally a few hours after the second game ended. I didn't go to the game fully prepared with a book full of cards. I brought 7 cards with me. Knowing I'd be focused on the bullpen area, I brought a couple coaches cards and a few position players. Sure, everyone there was hoping to get Bryce Harper to sign for them, not me, I just wanted one person.
As soon as I entered the stadium, there sitting by his lonesome in the bullpen was Nilson Robledo. I recognized him immediately. I quickly went down the steps to get as close to the bullpen as I could. There I was, all by myself calling for a bullpen catcher to sign an autograph for me. Everyone else was yards away from me hovering around the dugout. Nilson signed my card, didn't say a word to me, but smiled when I told him that I remembered seeing him play for Sarasota.
It took me 25 years, but I finally got the autograph that I always wanted. Notice I didn't get it on the same card that my brother got. Yeah, all these years later and I still don't have it. Sure, I easily could've acquired one by now, but I like the look of his FSL all-star card. Plus, it's nice to get something different from my brother. Not only is the card different, but it looks like Nilson's signature has changed drastically over the years. That's okay by me, at least I finally have it.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Everything Is Viewable

When I came up with the idea of Daily Autograph 5 years ago, I thought it would be a great site to showcase my collection, and then eventually continue it as I acquired more signatures. I figured within 2 years I'd eventually be all caught up and then there would be days, possibly weeks during the offseason or something where my site would be stagnant. Five years later, that thought is laughable. after 1,787 published posts, I still have 1,227 scheduled, taking my site all the way up until October 19, 2021 without a break.


For the last couple of years, I've hated the formula that I created for myself. I've gotten autographs that I was so proud of, that I wanted to post and share them immediately, but instead, I'd create a draft and then schedule it for 2 years later on whatever date it would chronologically be set for.

This week I decided to try something different. Playing around with Google Photos, I created alphabetized photo albums of all of my autographs.



All of those photo albums are now linked to on the right-hand side of dailyautograph.com.



Just choose the album of your choice and you can see an alphabetical display of my collection. View them all at once or you can watch as a slideshow. Comment and like the whole album or select a random autograph that you'd like to comment on or ask me about.



My site will still continue on its daily schedule, but if you're impatient like me and want to see my latest autographs and not have to wait 3 years for them to be posted, then be sure to check the calendar and then the corresponding album of your choice.

Feedback is appreciated if you enjoy this new update, or if you don't.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Let Me Dust This Thing Off

Hello, Readers! Is "readers" too presumptuous? Does anyone still check this blog anymore? I certainly haven't.

Maintaining Daily Autograph is a task in itself, I don't know why I felt that I needed another site to run. I guess I thought it would be nice to have a place where I share new cards that I get. The thing is, I rarely buy new cards. I'm an autograph collector, all I care about is getting base cards signed. I don't enjoy opening packs, not knowing what's inside, and getting limited insert cards. You know, the 1-3 cards found in packs that everyone else in the collecting world cares about? Yeah, not me. If Topps guaranteed a base card only pack, I'll be first in line.

Man, I sound like such a curmudgeon. I'm really not. I like what I like, and that's buying singles of cards of people that I could possibly get signed.

Speaking of signed, 2017 was my most successful year collecting autographs. It started the first week of January with Maicon Santos and ended 3 days shy of 2018 with Ron Cey.
















In total, 630 new signatures were added to my collection. Sadly, if you follow Daily Autograph on a daily basis, you know I post one new autograph each day, all in order of how I obtained them. These autographs that I acquired this year won't even show up on that site until April 14, 2019.

Every autograph is important to me. That's why I decided to showcase each and every one for 24 hours before the next one is posted. You might see a Hall of Famer one day, a career minor leaguer the next and a coach that never played a professional game in his life after that.
With this post, I will attempt to show off some of the highlights from 2017.

Of course, after stating my disdain for insert cards earlier, I start off with one that I got signed. Yes, I see the irony and it was completely unintentional.
Topps has cards where a celebrity throws out the first pitch prior to the start of the game. Comedian and lifelong Mets fan, Jim Breuer is shown tossing out the first pitch at Citi Field. He signed this card for me at the Mets fantasy camp in St. Lucie, Florida.
Jim Breuer 2016 Topps

My 2000th autographed card was signed in 2017. Greg Jones signed this for me at the Tampa Bay Rays fan fest.

Greg Jones 2003 Upper Deck
I got to meet billiards' "The Black Widow" Jeanette Lee. She signed her Allen and Ginter's card for me at the Tampa Bay Rays fan fest. This was actually number 2,001 in my collection.
Jeanette Lee 2008 Topps Allen and Ginter's
The all-time hit king, Pete Rose happened to be in Florida, so I made sure to be there. He signed my favorite baseball card from when I was a kid.
Pete Rose 1985 Donruss

I got a father and son in the same month. Jesmuel Valentin, a Phillies farmhand, signed a card for me and a week or so later I spotted his dad, Jose watching his son workout.
Jesmuel Valentin 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects
Jose Valentin 1991 Classic Best






















An umpire signed a card for me. I had known that former umpire Richie Garcia had made his home in Clearwater, Florida for decades. On more than one occasion I would see him jogging during the off-season. I never thought to ask him for an autograph, even though I knew there were cards available. In 2017 I decided I would go for it. I ordered a card and carried it with me until I'd see him again. It was at a spring training game in Clearwater where I saw him. He was there because his son-in-law, Vic Carapazza, was umpiring the game.
Rich Garcia 1990 T&M Sports

An unexpected thing happened to a guy in A-ball this season. Pirates minor leaguer John Bormann was suddenly promoted to the Majors because the team had a last minute injury and needed to fill a roster spot. John signed a card for me in the spring and a month later he's making his Major League debut.
John Bormann 2016 West Virginia Power

John shared his journey on The Show Before the Show podcast. It was an enjoyable listen.


Two professional football players attempted to try their luck at professional baseball this season, and I was lucky enough to meet them both. Sanders Commings, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, was signed by the Atlanta Braves, while the New York Mets gave a shot to Heisman Trophy winner and former Denver Bronco/New York Jet, Tim Tebow.
Sanders Commings 2013 Upper Deck Football
Tim Tebow 2017 Columbia Fireflies



















The 2017 Minor League Player of the Year, Ronald Acuna, began the year with the Florida Fire Frogs in their inaugural season in the Florida State League. He only spent 28 games with them, before ultimately ending up with the Braves AAA team in Gwinnett.
Ronald Acuna 2016 Rome Braves

Thanks to a special military promotion that the Clearwater Threshers were hosting, invited guest, former WWF superstar, Sgt. Slaughter was on hand to sign autographs,
I got to meet the very first athlete that I called my favorite as a kid. My parents took me to Tampa Bay Rowdies games when I was really young. My hero was Steve Wegerle. This year, the SiriusXM show, Grumpy Pundits took their show on the road to St. Petersburg, Florida, the city where I live. Steve was scheduled to be their guest, so I printed out a picture of him and headed down there.
Steve Wegerle 8x10 photo

I got to meet former Cubs prospect, Jimmie C. Gardner. A name I'm sure most won't recognize, but his life story is incredible. While in A-ball with the Chicago Cubs, he was arrested and charged with armed robbery and sexual assault. He was sentenced to 110 years in prison.
In 2016 he was released from prison after serving 27 years. DNA evidence proved that he was innocent of all charges.
He was so happy when I showed him this card. He told me he hadn't seen it in over 30 years. I thought he was kidding. I didn't know his story until after I had gotten home that night.

The Atlanta Braves got in some trouble this year for international-signing improprieties. As a result, 12 of their players became free agents. I got to see one of them, Abrahan Gutierrez, while he was with the GCL Braves. Abrahan was 17-years-old when he signed this for me. I never felt so old asking for an autograph.

Speaking of teenaged baseball players. The Dunedin Blue Jays had a promotion honoring Jimy Kelly. Jimy is the youngest Minor League baseball player in history. He made his professional debut as a 14-year-old in 1985 with the GCL Blue Jays.
This year I added 3 Hall of Famer's to my collection. Tony Perez, Craig Biggio, and Ivan Rodriguez were all nice enough to take the time for me.

 


This year I also got to meet a member of my all-time favorite music group, Run-DMC. Cable television came to my neighborhood in 1983 when I was 9-years-old. Quite an impressionable age to discover a channel that played nothing but music videos called MTV.
I was infatuated with this new music to my ears known as rap. Run-DMC got a lot of play during those early years and I was hooked. It was such a cool experience to get to meet DMC.

Finally, I was introduced to a new band in 2017 that I instantly became a fan of. Hip Hop artist, Talib Kweli came to St. Petersburg, Florida in November of this year. I was excited to see him, but I was unfamiliar with the opening act, The Sh-Booms. The night before the concert, I went on YouTube to see if there were any videos of theirs where I could hear their music. I found a video for their song, "Usage Fee." I loved it.



While waiting for Talib before the show to get an autograph, I recognized the Sh-Boom's from seeing their video the night before. Mizz Bren, the lead singer of the group walked by me and I stopped her to tell her that I was a big fan of their song, "Usage Fee."
She thanked me and then told me that she was going to give me something when she gets back. When she returned she told me to come with her to meet the band. She then went inside and grabbed a CD of theirs and asked if I'd like it signed. She then ripped it open and I handed her my pen and they all passed the CD around, signing it.

This year wasn't all highlights. Sadly, Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr passed away at 99. He was one of the most friendliest players when it came to requesting his autograph by mail. I'm not big on collecting by mail. I like getting autographs in person. I realized at 99-years-old, I probably wasn't going to randomly bump into Mr. Doerr anytime soon, so, I reluctantly sent him my card and a letter in August.

Bobby died on November 13th. On the 15th I got my card back and the following note.
Sad that I missed out on his autograph, but there's over 600 that I got in 2017 that make me happy. I only wish I could show them all on here, but that's what dailyautograph.com is for. I just hope that in 2019 you all will go and see them.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: My Autograph Collecting Year in Review

In 2016 I added 527 autographs to my collection, I never ask for more than one autograph from each person that I meet, so, that's 527 different autographs that I amassed.

It started in early January when I met Juan Berenguer at the Minnesota Twins Fantasy camp in Fort Myers, Florida, and ended with Felipe Lopez just a couple of weeks ago at his former high school in Altamonte Springs, Florida.


Felipe Lopez, 2009 Upper Deck
Juan Berenguer, 1992 Upper Deck





























Let's take a look at some of the highlights between me meeting Mr. Berenguer and Mr. Lopez.

The month of January always has fantasy camps operating just about every week. I was able to visit 7 different camps (Twins, Orioles Mets, Cardinals, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates and Orioles). I added 37 players from those teams.

January also happens to be the month in which I was born. On my birthday (January 13th) I went to Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, where they were holding a winter development program for their top prospects. It's not opened to the public, so I just waited outside and got Brent Honeywell and Ryne Stanek to sign for me when they were finished. It was my first time collecting autographs on my birthday.

Brent Honeywell, 2014 Bowman Draft









Ryne Stanek, 2015 FSL Top Prospects


February is when pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training, but it's also a time when soccer players in Major League Soccer and lower divisions begin preparing for their upcoming seasons. I decided to start collecting soccer cards this year, beginning with players from my local team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies.


Freddy Adu was my very first soccer autograph. Unfortunately, I didn't prep the card well enough.


Freddy Adu, 2007 Upper Deck
I ended up with 55 signed soccer cards this season. I got to meet several past and present players who represented the United States in World Cups. That was a big thrill for me.


Claudio Reyna, 2007 Upper Deck
Earnie Stewart, 2002 Panini
Tony Meola, 1993 Upper Deck


Jozy Altidore, 2015 Topps
Michael Bradley, 2015 Topps


























I started following the English Premier League in 2006. I selected Chelsea FC as my team and have been a fan ever since. In 2016 I met 4 players who have played for Chelsea during my time as being a fan. I never expected to meet any of these guys when I watched them on TV. Now my collection includes perhaps two of their biggest stars, one of whom is Chelsea's leading goal scorer and 4th all-time in the Premier League.


Didier Drogba, 2015 Panini
Frank Lampard, 2014 Topps Premier





















Shaun Wright-Phillips, 2005 Topps
Joe Cole, 2014 Topps Premier


























March is when spring training baseball games start. The Phillies spring home is about 15 minutes from where I live. Really close. Sadly, I do not drive, so, I rely on public transportation. It's 90 minutes by bus. I'm dedicated to my hobby and don't let it bother me. Of the 15 home games the Phillies had this spring, I was there for 10 of them. I only ever try for visiting teams during spring training games. I added 28 new signatures to my collection. It started with Astros first base coach, Rich Dauer and ended with Twins outfielder, Byron Buxton.

Rich Dauer, 1984 Topps
Byron Buxton, 2015 Topps Pro Debut
























The Florida State League kicked off its season in April. I don't know how many games I attended, but I saw every team multiple times and visited 4 different stadiums. The FSL season helped me add an additional 153 autographs. It started with David Harris of the Dunedin Blue Jays and ended with Stephen Tarpley of the Tampa Yankees.

David Harris, 2015 Dunedin Blue Jays
Stephen Tarpley, Bradenton Marauders
























In September, after the conclusion of the FSL season, I decided to try something that I have never done in all my years of collecting autographs. I requested an autograph by mail. I had heard that the 1952 American League MVP, Bobby Shantz, was a great signer and returned items quickly. Knowing that he was 90 (he turned 91 the week after I sent my card) and that I'd probably never have the opportunity to meet him, I decided to write him a letter. Six days later my card came back signed. So far I am 3-3 with autograph requests. I have also written to Pat Neshek and Tom Willis.


Tom Willis, 2015 Topps

Bobby Shantz, 1993 Ted Williams
Pat Neshek, 2016 Topps

October is a time for playoff baseball and the World Series, but here in Florida, we have the Instructional League, where younger Minor League players get extra work to improve their skills. It's also for injured players to rebound from injuries and for players traded to new teams to get acclimated with their new coaching staffs. If you buy a lot of lower-level Minor League team sets,  you'll do great with autographs in the FIL. I came away with 44. Ryan McKenna of the Orioles was my first and I finished with Jojo Romero of the Phillies.

Jojo Romero, 2016 Williamsport Crosscutters
Ryan McKenna, 2015 Bowman Draft
















I got some impressive names during the FIL season. The very first player chosen in the 2016 MLB Draft, Mickey Moniak, Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer, Craig, son of future Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., a couple of big name prospects that the Yankees acquired in trades, Clint Frazier and Dillon Tate, a Yankee who was rehabbing from an injury, Greg Bird, and a Yankee 4 home runs shy of 700, who came down to coach for a weekend, Alex Rodriguez.


Cavan Biggio, 2013 Panini U

Mickey Moniak, 2015 Panini USA

Clint Frazier, 2015 Topps Heritage Minors
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 2016 Bowman Platinum
Greg Bird, 2016 Topps

Dillon Tate, 2015 Bowman Draft







































Alex Rodriguez, 1994 Classic

November is typically a month where it's tough to get baseball autographs, but in Dunedin, Florida, Roberto Alomar hosts his own fantasy camp featuring several former Blue Jays players. I was able to add 4 players that had eluded me all my years of collecting.

Devon White, 1992 Upper Deck
Pat Tabler, 1990 Upper Deck



Frank Catalanotto, 1995 Upper Deck Minors
Lloyd Moseby, 1991 Upper Deck






























In December I attended the first annual Wiffle with the Pros tournament.


Having the chance to see 3 top prospects who play for teams that don't train in Florida, was a big reason for me to attend this.



Brendan Rodgers, 2015 Bowman Draft


Foster Griffin, 2014 Bowman Draft
Forrest Wall, 2015 Bowman Prospects

 I'm very happy with my successes this year. I met some great soccer players, promising baseball prospects, players turned coaches that I grew up watching, but let's finish up this post with the Hall of Fame members that I met this year. I added 4 to my collection in 2016.
Whitey Herzog, 1988 Topps
Bert Blyleven, 1991 Upper Deck


Bobby Cox, 1984 Topps
Pat Gillick, 2015 Panini Cooperstown





























Happy 2017, Everyone!

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