Friday, January 1, 2016

My Favorite Autographs of 2015

I don't really like choosing favorites when it comes to my autograph collection. I'm just as happy getting a Hall of Famer, just as I would be getting a guy who barely got a cup of coffee in the bigs.

However, for the sake of this blog and attracting readers, I have combed through my collection to find my 10 favorite autographs of 2015.

Mike Schmidt

This is an autograph I never thought I would get. My brother worked with him over 10 years ago when Schmidt was managing the Philadelphia Phillies Advanced-A Ball team in Clearwater. He told me that he never saw Schmidt sign autographs for fans and that he would enter and exit the field using the tunnel under the stands, just to avoid fans.
A decade later, Schmidt is helping coach during spring training. It's lightly raining and I'm standing in a dry area. All of a sudden I see a golf cart with Mike Schmidt in the passenger seat. It drops him off at his car and Mike quickly gets in and starts to drive away. I'm several feet away walking towards him in the rain, hoping he'll see me in his rearview. Miraculously, he does, and then actually pulls over, waits for me to approach and rolls down his window as I hand him my card.
A raindrop hit the card as he handed it back to me, causing the slight smear. No big deal to me, just adds to the story.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.

My first conscience decision to forego my black Sharpie. This isn't my first autograph signed in blue. I have many, but the majority of my collection were signed in black, because I had a few in blue that came out awful. For decades, I equated blue as being bad, while the majority of the hobbyists raved about blue and insisted anything else was inferior. In 2015 I joined their mission.
What a great card to start with.

Chase Utley
I didn't stick with blue after getting that Jackie Bradley, Jr. card signed. No, I foolishly stuck with black for 12 more autographs. Chase being the 12th. Chase signed for a group of about 10-15 people. I was last. My pen died. Poor Chase, you could see he was trying to get some life in it. It looks like he signed his first name 3 times. It was dead, and with that, my use of a black Sharpie came to an end.
Even though the autograph is terrible, it has a great story, worthy of a mention on here.

Sandy Alomar

Sandy Alomar was another autograph I never thought I would get. I had met his sons, Roberto and Sandy, Jr. during their playing days in the 1990s, but never thought I would get the patriarch of the family.
Sandy is employed by the Toronto Blue Jays and just happened to be at a Minor League game in Dunedin, Florida, watching Toronto's Class-A affiliate play. Luckily, I happened to be carrying this card with me.

Wei-Chung Wang
Wang spent the 2016 season with Milwaukee's Class-A team, the Brevard County Manatees. I didn't understand why, but I wasn't going to miss out on getting his autograph.
I remember the night before seeing his team play, I Googled how to say "thank you" in his native language. I thought it would be cool to show him my appreciation by at least learning a phrase that he would understand. I practiced saying it all night and the following day, "gam-sia.'
When the chance finally arrived and Wei-Chung handed me back my beautifully signed card, I looked at him and said...wait for it..."thank you," completely forgetting what I had been practicing for hours beforehand.

Michael Conforto
The name might not be familiar to you, but...oh, who am I kidding? I was looking forward to seeing Michael play from the day he was drafted. I ended up seeing him play in person for 2 different teams in 2015. He started the season with the St. Lucie Mets. I got this autograph just days before he was promoted to AA.
I saw him play again when he returned to Florida, this time as a Major Leaguer with the New York Mets, when they came down here to play the Tampa Bay Rays. It was an exciting year for Michael and the Mets. I only hope good things continue for him.

Buddy Borden

I never ask for multiple autographs. All I want is one and then I never ask again. I made an exception with Buddy. I was in attendance on May 13th, when Buddy, now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays Class A affiliate, Charlotte Stone Crabs, pitched a no-hitter against the Clearwater Threshers. That night I ordered a card of him, hoping to get it signed the next time his team were in town. I also saved my ticket stub. About a month later the Stone Crabs were playing in Dunedin. After the game I approached Buddy and asked him to sign my card. When he finished, I explained that I never ask for more than one autograph, but told him I was going to make an exception. He didn't mind and offered to sign anything that I had. I then pulled out the ticket stub and asked if he knew the significance of it. He smiled and said "that's my no-no." I told him that I was at that game and then asked if he would sign it and add an inscription, which he kindly did.

Miguel Cairo

Sometimes you show up to a game and you see a person there you totally weren't expecting. That's what happened when the Cincinnati Reds affiliate, Daytona Tortugas came to play Clearwater. Miguel Cairo, who works in the front office for the Reds, was dressed as a coach in the Tortugas dugout. I wasn't expecting to see him there, but a fellow autograph collector was, as he had several of Cairo's cards that he was hoping to get signed. Out of the kindness of his heart, he gave me an unsigned card for free, which I promptly got signed that same day.
It's a bit of a confusing card. Miguel is in a Mets jersey, yet the team logo on the card is that of the Yankees.
I'm just very grateful that I was given this card. When I got home, it turned out that I didn't own any of Miguel's cards. This is my first and only.

Yoenis Cespedes

This guy had such an impact for the Mets in his short time with them. I actually met him shortly before the trade deadline, when he was still with the Detroit Tigers.
My brother wanted to go to the team hotel when they came here to play the Rays. I'm not really fond of getting autographs of players at the hotel. I feel they deserve some space away from collectors like myself, but my brother insisted, so I tagged along. Yoenis was very nice and thought he'd be signing multiple items, but it was just the card. He held his hand out waiting for my brother to hand him something, but my brother, like me, adopted the 1 autograph per person policy. My brother had met Yoenis during spring training and got a picture signed.
I think I had a better looking Cespedes card, but I really wanted to get a Stadium Club card signed. Plus, at least this card showed him with his current the time.

Ron Darling/Keith Hernandez

I know I said top 10, but 11 would just be odd unless I was somehow mentioning the fictional band, Spinal Tap.
Anyway, I got these 2 cards signed back-to-back at the team hotel when the Mets visited. I know I mentioned hating going to the hotel, but the Mets only visit this area once every 3 years. I really wanted to meet these 2, as I enjoyed them as players and appreciate them even more as broadcasters. Thankfully, I succeeded.

Well, there you have my top 10 11 autographs of 2015. I acquired nearly 300 autographs in 2015, so this was not easy for me.
I hope you enjoyed. Also, if you follow my Daily Autograph site, this post is basically a sneak preview, as most of these cards aren't scheduled to be posted until late 2017/early 2018.
The things I do for my readers.

Happy 2016, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I like the Buddy Borden story, you sir have an impeccable memory or you must keep cliff notes with all your autographs.


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