Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Autograph I Thought I'd Never Get

In 2004, my brother worked for the Philadelphia Phillies class A Minor League team, the Clearwater Threshers, as a clubhouse assistant. The manager of the team that season was Phillies Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt.

I was living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time. My brother offered to get me Schmidt's autograph, but I declined. I'd rather try and get an autograph myself rather than someone getting it for me. My brother told me that he didn't remember ever seeing Mike stop to sign autographs that season. Immediately after games, Mike would exit the field by walking under the stands, where fans were not allowed.

One day I showed up to a Threshers game without telling my brother I was in town. I didn't try for any autographs that night, I was just there to surprise my brother, but I did get to witness Mike Schmidt's exit, and it was exactly how my brother described.

I figured it would be a lost cause with me ever getting something signed by him. No big deal, I have 1400+ autographs, I can't expect to get everyone, though, it's always great to add a Hall of Famer.

Today, 11 years after my brother volunteered to get me Schmidt's autograph, I went to the Phillies spring training camp to add more to my collection. It was a miserable day, just nonstop rain. The players all worked indoors, except for maybe 30 minutes where pitchers were able to play long toss in the outfield. It was not looking good for autographs.

After a few hours of riding out the storm, most of the players and coaches were leaving. Then, my brother says to me, "there's Mike Schmidt." I didn't believe him, but there he was getting out of a golf cart and stepping right into his car, maybe 100 feet from where we were standing. It was raining lightly, but the parking lot was just flooded in some parts.

We start walking toward his car, but I see the lights on and the vehicle slowly emerging from the parking spot. There's no way he'd stop now, I'm thinking. Then, the unthinkable happens. The car slows down and pulls over to the side. I get closer and Mike Schmidt rolls down his window. There he is, the guy I never thought I'd get, has my baseball card in his hand, signing an autograph for me.

It's not my favorite card of his, but I never expected to meet him. I have better cards of his, but this was the one that was on me, and because of my personal policy, I'll never ask him for another autograph again.

This story is much better in 2015 than one I would've had in 2004. "Oh, that Schmidt autograph? My brother got that for me."
I prefer having my own story, even if it takes 11 years to tell.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Card I'll Never Part With

When I made my tradelist page, I went through and organized my entire collection. It wasn't nearly as big as it once was, I sold off a huge chunk of it in the '90s. The remaining cards that I have, I decided I'd be willing to part with. All except one. 

There's just something about seeing Pete Rose on baseball card in a Montreal Expos uniform. This 1985 Donruss card has always been a favorite of mine.
Topps cards were readily available to me back then, but they didn't have an Expos card of Rose in their '85 set, though, they did have one in their 1984 Traded Set.
Fleer had a card in their '85 set commemorating Rose for getting his 4,000th hit as an Expo. I remember having the card at one point, but I guess it just didn't stick with me like the Donruss card did.

Photo courtesy of

I have no recollection of ever seeing Pete play as an Expo, so when I discovered these cards in 1985, they looked completely foreign to me.

I could dump my collection tomorrow and all I'd be interested in keeping would be my autographs, my Mets cards, and my lone 1985 Donruss card #254.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Made a Wantlist

It took me several days, but I now have a wantlist and a tradelist page. I made them permanent links at the top of the page. I plan to update them both frequently, so check back often.
I hope to start trading with many of you very soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Just in Time

Today was the 20th annual Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest. Each year, the team comes to their home stadium, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, to interact with fans and get the city pumped up for another season. 

My favorite part of Fan Fest is the MLB alumni table. Around 30 former players signing autographs for free. Many of the players are not recognizable names. In the past, I'd maybe have five or six cards to bring. This year, thanks to the discovery of COMC, I went through past year's attendees and ordered cards of players I hoped would be attending. I ended up ordering 18 cards of 18 different players. Of those, 14 were in attendance today. Not too bad, but I nearly missed them all.

My COMC order didn't ship until this past Wednesday. I was a little nervous, but the tracking information said I would receive the delivery on Friday. Perfect, I'd have time to organize them before Saturday's Fan Fest which opened at 11am.

Late Friday afternoon I see my mailman at the mailboxes in my complex. I tell him that I'm expecting a package, but he tells me he doesn't remember seeing my name on anything. He double checks. Nothing. My heart sinks. I ask him if it's possible that it could be sitting at the nearby Post Office waiting to be delivered the next day and he tells me "no." He sees my disappointment and I explain my need for this package. He knows I'm an autograph collector, so he gets my frustration. He's a fellow baseball card collector and we talk often about the hobby.
He tells me that if the package arrives on Saturday, he'll deliver it right away. I tell him that I need it before 10, and he says, "oh, I won't be out that early, but if you come to the Post Office, I'll put it aside for you if it arrives." I thank him and head home hoping it shows up.

I wake up this morning and check the tracking order and I see this:

I am so elated. Three hours after waking up I see that the cards arrived and are basically waiting for me across the street at my Post Office. I get there around 9am and ask for my delivery man and he comes out and happily hands me the envelope. I was so thrilled!

I had a great day collecting autographs. I got 29 total, the most I'd ever gotten in one day. That's 29 different people. I don't get multiple things signed...except for the very first card below. I had Darold Knowles sign that card to basically complete it. He had already signed a card for me back in 1993. Roly DeArmas had signed this card for me 2 days ago.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Everything I Have to Trade

I see so many people blogging about successful trades on here. I'd like to get in on that, but I don't really know how to list what I have.

There it is! Start digging!

Everything there is in alphabetical order. Do I now list those individually on a new page? Should I list what I have by year to help out set collectors? Then there's the team set collectors, do I organize by teams?

So many choices and lots of typing ahead of me. I'm willing to do it, but I just want them shown off the best presentable way.

Oh yeah, after that's all said and done, then I have to come up with a wantlist. What does a guy 20 years removed from the hobby want? I guess I could ask for those 5 or so singles missing from my 1991 Leaf series 2 set that I uncovered recently. Yes, that will make all of this worthwhile.

It's a cheap way to ask for comments, but please give me suggestions on how I should list these cards.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Book

My favorite book is not a novel. It's not non-fiction, either. No self-help needed here, and certainly doesn't contain any religious teachings. No, the book I'm referring to is merely an alphabetical checklist. More specifically, a baseball card alphabetical checklist.

I bought this book in 1995. To give you an idea how long ago that was, take a look at the advertiser's page.

Not a single e-mail address or URL to be found. This book and one particular advertiser on this page, helped my collection immensely.

Second row, dead center. "MINOR LEAGUE COMMONS." Those words caught my eye immediately. I instantly had to grab my touch-tone phone and make a long distance phone call.

The book had no pictures. True to its word, it was nothing more than a checklist. 670 pages of baseball players' names and all the cards they appeared on. Major League, Minor League, oddball cards found in cereal boxes, was all covered.

I would use this book to find cards of players and coaches that I knew I could get autographed. Problem was, I couldn't see any of the cards. Couldn't Google them, we were still 3 years away from Google even being launched. It's not like Yahoo! or Altavista had great image searching back then.

I would order the cards sight unseen from Dave Weber, who had that ad advertising Minor League commons. If a player had several cards listed, I would basically play Russian Roulette by choosing a card at random and hoping it would be suitable to be signed. Most of the time I'd end up happy with what I got, but once in a while I'd get that dreaded card with a close-up of a players face.

I have no idea if books like this are still even produced anymore. Not sure I'd find much use in a current edition, anyway. I do wonder if Dave Weber still sells Minor League commons, and if he has an e-mail address to be contacted at.

Friday, February 13, 2015

esreveR evitageN

David Wells used to live near me and golfed at the golf course in my neighborhood. He was the first baseball player that I met there. This was around 1992. I didn't have it at the time, but I remembered that in 1990, Score released a baseball card of him where the image on the back of the card was reversed. I thought it would be cool to see if I could get that card signed, as well as the corrected version.

I went to a nearby card shop and found the card in a display case without a price on it. The dealer looked it up in that month's current Beckett Price Guide, but couldn't find a listing for it, so he sold it to me for a quarter. Unfortunately for him, he was looking in the wrong section. The card had a book value of $1.75.

I probably had the card less than a week before seeing David at the golf course and having him sign it and its corrected counterpart.

Looking back, I wish I would have had him sign the backs of the cards instead. Still, it's a cool thing to have. Pretty sure it's the only error card I've ever gotten signed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Type of Collector I Am

When I got into collecting baseball cards, I didn't know what kind of collector I was going to be. I did notice the backs of my 1984 Topps cards had numbers on them, so little by little, I started organizing them in numerical order. I was on a mission and buying pack after pack only helped me get closer and closer to my destination. Thanks to a local flea market, which had several baseball card vendors, I was able to bring a looseleaf sheet of paper with the remaining card numbers that I needed. I completed that set that summer. I had a lot of fun building that 792 card set, that I did it for the next 5 subsequent sets. Sadly, the only set I have from those years is my 1985 Topps. The rest, I ended up selling. Speaking of that '85 set, after spending over 2 decades in an 800 ct. box, I went to a local card shop (I have 2 fairly close to me) and bought an album and a box of pages. I have to say, these cards don't deserve to be stored in a box. They look beautiful in this book.

There's a reason I selected that specific page. If you're following Night Owl's 1985 Topps Blog, as of today, Alan Wiggins' card is the latest one that he has showcased. That blog is also the reason I decided to put this set in pages.

Besides sets, I also collected New York Mets cards and Darryl Strawberry cards (even the non-Mets cards). If a card had a Met on it, that meant that the card was off-limits from being sold or traded.

My Darryl Strawberry collection has always resided in a binder.

I was very surprised when I bought a pack of 2014 Topps last year and pulled a Darryl Strawberry insert card. Had to dust off the binder to put that one away.

The Mets cards don't get the same treatment. They're stored in a box alphabetically.

I do plan on moving them into an album shortly. Though, I may just limit my Mets collection and exclude any duplicates, except for Dave Magadan's 1987 Topps Future Stars card. Ever want to see what 50 of those look like?

At one point those had a book value of $1.25 each. Not that it mattered to me since I never got rid of any Mets cards.

My Mets collection grew quite a bit this week. Drew of had a post last week where he was giving out free cards from the team of your choice. I immediately commented requesting the Mets. Less than a week later they were delivered. I was amazed at the selection and the amount of cards that he sent. Most of the cards were my first time seeing these different manufacturer's designs.

In 1991 I became an autograph collector. I had discovered that the golf course in my neighborhood was a popular course for baseball players to play during the off-season. It was easy and the players were very nice. I also had the fortune of living very close to two spring training sites, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies.

From the very beginning, I never wanted to be greedy when asking for autographs. I would find the best looking card that I had of each player and put them in a box alphabetically, that way I could easily find it when getting ready to go to a spring training game or finding out about the latest celebrity golf tournament in my neighborhood.

With nearly 1,300 different cards signed, the size of this box has dwindled substantially.

This blog seems like it's going to be all nostalgic. I don't intend it to be.

Look, I bought 2015 Topps cards.

Maybe those will inspire me to get back into set building, but first, the cards of players I don't have autographs of need to go in my alphabetical box, which is sadly going to be most of them, since I've been away from the hobby for so long. Oh well, good enough excuse to go and buy more.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Too Cool for Cards

I had a solid 5-year run collecting baseball cards beginning in 1984, but in 1989 I stopped collecting, cold turkey. You see, I was about to enter high school. What would girls and fellow students think of a 13-year-old freshman that collected baseball cards? I was no longer a boy, I was a teenager. Those cards were placed in a closet, only to be a memory of my CHILDhood.

Bowman is back? What is an Upper Deck? Ken Griffey has a son that plays baseball? Cal's brother wrote what on the bottom of his bat?

1989 Bowman
Photo courtesy of
1989 Upper Deck
Photo courtesy of
1989 Upper Deck Griffey
Photo courtesy of
1989 Fleer Billy Ripken
Photo courtesy of

To paraphrase Steve McCroskey from Airplane!

Steve McCroskey
Photo courtesy of

"Looks like I picked the wrong year to quit collecting baseball cards."

Well, maybe not so much on those Bowman's. Those over-sized cards would have driven me crazy. The Upper Deck's would have been nice to dive into. Pulling Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie cards would have been great trade bait to obtain more Darryl Strawberry cards, I'm sure. As for the Billy Ripken card, I suppose I could have hidden that from my parents in a drawer somewhere, only to pull it out like it was some stashed away Playboy magazine whenever I wanted to look at it and laugh.

Anyway, my time away from baseball cards only lasted a year. When I became a sophomore, I guess I just didn't care what girls or fellow students would say about a 14-year-old baseball card collector. Besides, how would they find out? I certainly wasn't going to tell anyone.

Leaf packs are this much? Aren't they just Canadian Donruss cards?

Boy, a lot changed during my hiatus, and got a lot more expensive, too. I was all in, though.


This is not a post about George Orwell's best-selling novel. Instead, it's about the year that I turned 10-years-old. The year I rocked out to Van Halen's 6th studio album.

The year that I obtained my first baseball cards.

I remember asking my mom if I could start collecting comic books. I don't know why I wanted to. I don't remember if I had any friends who collected them, and I certainly don't remember ever reading one. Anyway, she told me "no." To this day, I'm not sure why my request was denied.

I don't remember if I asked if I could buy baseball cards. Pretty sure I did that on my own. It was shortly after my rejection, maybe even the same day.

I lived within walking distance of a 7-11 convenience store. This story is so old that it took place back when the store's name was literal.

Mixed among the rows of delicious chocolate candy bars and Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum, sat a box of 1984 Topps Baseball Cards.

Photo courtesy of

At 30¢ per pack I knew my allowance would get me a whole bunch, so I grabbed 3 out of that box and promptly handed the cashier my last dollar. I went home and opened them, probably enjoying the gum more than the unfamiliar names I was skimming past. I have no recollection of who were in those packs, but I do remember that half dollar coin in my piggy bank that I was itching to use to buy more cards. I returned to the store that same day to buy more cards.

For years, that 7-11 was my baseball card store.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Allow Me to Introduce Myself...

My name is Dan. I live in St. Petersburg, Florida. This isn't my first time creating a blog. I currently maintain Daily Autograph. That's mainly a "hey, look what I have" site that gets a lot of traffic, but not much interaction. With this one, I plan to create posts about current baseball cards, things from my personal collection, and anything else that may come to mind.

Here's a little about me and how I came to love, then hate, and back to loving this great game.

I've been a baseball fan since 1982, when my dad took me to see my very first Major League game at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The Mets hosted the San Francisco Giants. It was a family vacation that brought us from Florida to New York that summer. My dad really wanted to take me to see his boyhood team, the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium, but unfortunately for him, they were on a west coast road trip that week. So, off to Shea it was.

I think from the moment I saw the field I instantly embraced the Mets as my team. Or, perhaps it was the Mr. Met doll that my dad bought me. I still have it.

Mr. Met

It was at that game where I received my very first autograph. I have no idea how I got so close or if someone helped me, but Mets pitcher, Brent Gaff signed my program. I thought for sure I still had it, but I can't find it anywhere.

The Mets ended up losing that game, but I still went home a fan.

Mets box score
Screen grab courtesy of

Thanks to cable TV coming to our neighborhood the following year, I was able to watch the Mets play on WOR from my living room in Florida. That was the debut season of who would become my all-time favorite baseball player, Darryl Strawberry.

I faithfully followed the Mets year after year, especially loving that 1986 season and then enduring my first heartbreak with the team 2 years later.

In 1990, my cable provider dropped WWOR from its lineup. The only time I got to watch the Mets was when they would play the Braves on TBS, the Cubs on WGN, or be the national game on ESPN. It got harder to follow my favorite team, and for several years I stopped caring about MLB in favor of Minor League Baseball, where I attended numerous Florida State League games.

It wasn't until 2012 that I got back into following the Mets. Oh,, how I do love thee. It's been fun learning about all these new players and an entirely new broadcast team that I had to get used to. Gone were Tim McCarver and Ralph Kiner. Now I'm listening to Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, who were both still playing for the Mets when I last saw them.

I'll make my next post about how I got into baseball cards and what kind of collector I was.

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