Biggest jerks of 2013:
I was actually debating whether or not to make a "biggest jerks" list this year, but after including one in last year's recap, I figured that I might as well keep the tradition alive. I must say that it was actually very tough to find three players that I'd classify as jerks this season. 99.9% of the players I met were either very friendly, or very quiet, which certainly does not qualify them as jerks. But without further a due, my biggest jerks list of 2013:
3. Corey Perry- Perry actually qualifies as one of the 99.9% I was talking about just moments ago, but it's the little things he's done that puts him at number three. I actually hate to do this, as Corey has been my favorite player on the Ducks since I began following hockey in 2007, but the fact is, he's not a very friendly guy. In the ten or more encounters I've had with Perry this year, I may of gotten one word out of him. Once again, being quiet does not automatically qualify him for the list, but when you have at least ten different signature varying from "C1" to "Corey Perry 10", or when you intentionally get out of your car and speed walk into the facility just to avoid three people, that's when you qualify. And that's why Corey Perry makes the top three. (I still love you Corey!)
2. Art Monk- Monk may also be an unfair addition to this list, but since I'm running out of name's, the NFL Hall of Fame member lands himself on number two of this list. At a football event earlier this year, Monk walked in with former teammate Darell Green and, without even giving us the time of day, looked straight ahead and went "I don't sign memorabilia". No explanation, no "Sorry guys, I have a contract:, just the fact that he couldn't sign memorabilia. What really made me curios is when I saw multiple people walking around the stadium afterwards wearing Art Monk signed jerseys.
1. Alex Rodriguez- No, there's no terrible, autograph related story involved. In fact I've never once even tried to graph him. I just hate A-Roid, and with all of the steroid accusations coming out AGAIN this past season, I figured it's fair to put this cheater as the number one jerk of the year.
Nicest players of 2013:
3. Craig Kimbrel- While I only met Kimbrel one time this past season, the numerous stories I've heard of him land him at number three this year. Now I may be a bit biased in this selection, as over the past two years I've grown to really like the Braves' young closer, but the stories of him signing everyday in Atlanta and on the road justify this selection. Watch out Mo, Kimbrel may have a run at your record (probably not).
2. Justin Masterson- Masterson is one of the classiest guys in the game, and he's the only athlete making a return appearance on the list (although Addison Reed gave him a good run at it). I was a bit worried that Masterson would possibly get a bigger head after being selected to the All-Star game this past year, but his recent trip to Anaheim proved me wrong. Justin signe for at least twenty minutes each day of the series, and was extremely friendly and talkative. No doubt that Justin Masterson deserves to be on this list.
1. Brandon Barnes- Not only has Barnes grown to be one of my favorite outfielders this year, but he's also one of if not the nicest guy I've ever met. It's tough to explain exactly how nice of a guy he is in just one paragraph, so I'll leave it at this... He's a great ballplayer, a great guy, and an even better follower of Christ. Thank you Brandon and good luck with Colorado.
And now for the best part... The top ten autographs of 2013:
10. Paul Molitor- Paul Molitor is in my opinion the most underrated and overlooked member of the Hall of Fame. Now some people may disagree with me, but when thinking of great players, who do you honestly think of? Mays, Mantle, maybe even Rickey Henderson who self portrayed himself as "the greatest of all time". What if I told you that Molitor had more hits than all three of those players. Even more than Mantle who is arguably the most popular player to ever don a baseball uniform. I'm not saying that Molitor was a better player than Mantle, but in all honesty Paul Molitor does not get enough credit for being one of the greatest hitters of all time. I was able to pick up this Paul "Leo" Molitor ball on Ebay a few days ago, and the only reason that it is number 10 and not higher is simply because it was not obtained IP, but none the less it's still one of my favorite pieces in my collection.
9. Jim Palmer- Having the opportunity to meet Palmer was by far one of the coolest experiences at Angel Stadium for me this past year. It's not everyday that you get to meet an HOF'er while at a baseball game, so I was certainly honored to get an autograph from one of the most dominant starting pitcher's from the 1970's.
8. Joe Greene- While I didn't necessarily have a great experience with the handler, one of my best autographs of 2013 still comes from Mr. "Mean" Joe Greene. Even though the handler, who's suppose to "help people", basically screwed up my football, I was still able to get this beautiful NFL Hall of Fame mini helmet from one of the greatest players in NFL history.
7. Dale Murphy- This is probably a very curious choice to some, especially since I ranked him in front of three Hall of Famer's, but none the less my seventh best autograph of the year comes Braves' legend Dale Murphy. "The Murph" was one of the most popular players in the 1980's, winning back-to-back NL MVP's in '82 and '83. He is also one of my favorite old school players, so when I got the chance to meet him last month I certainly took advantage of it. On top of that, Murphy also has one of, if not the nicest autographs in baseball, so when you put all of that together Mr. Dale Murphy comes out as my number seven autograph of 2013.
6. Tony LaRussa- I actually haven't even posted about this autograph yet, so ladies and gentlemen, the newest addition to my collection, this Tony LaRussa 2012 All-Star baseball. Even though I just received this ball in the mail yesterday, LaRussa's amazing managerial career earns himself a place on this list. Personally, I think it's the coolest autograph I've gotten all year, but since it was not acquired IP it settles in nicely at number six.
5. Lou Brock- It's been one of my main goals to meet Mr. Lou Brock since I missed out on meeting him at All Star Fan Fest in 2011. Thankfully, Brock made one of his first SoCal appearances earlier this month at Frank and Sons, and I was finally able to complete my two year long goal of meeting the Cardinal legend.
4. Mike Trout- Some people may call me crazy for ranking a third year player in front of multiple Hall of Fame members, but the fact is, Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, and very well could be the best player of all-time. This is one of a few Trout's I acquired at the Big-A this year, but it is by far my favorite. Even though he signed it further under the logo than I'd prefer, it's still a beautiful signature and is probably the SECOND best Trout in my collection.
3. Teemu Selanne- As you guys have probably been able to guess by now, "The Finish Flash" is one of the classiest and most respectable players in the sports world. I've never heard one person, no matter which team they may or may not root for, say something negative about Teemu, and in his final season I think it's very fair to put him in the top three. Teemu signed this jersey for me a couple of months ago, and I can't wait to get it framed and display it proudly.
2. Tony Gwynn- While Gwynn may never have won a World Series, or even an MVP, he is still one of the greatest ballplayers to ever put on a cap and uniform. To hit .338 over a 19 year career is impressive enough, but the fact that he did it all with the same team is even more impressive. Gwynn is the definition of a "franchise" player, and while we watch so many players go from team to team every offseason, it was never in doubt that Tony Gwynn would be in any other uniform than a San Diego Padres' one (even if their uniforms were pretty hideous at times). The respect I have for Gwynn is truly unmatchable and for that reason he is number two.
1. Bob Gibson- In case you guys couldn't tell, yes, I am a big St. Louis Cardinals fan. That is one of the reasons why you'll notice two, and now three, Cardinals on this list. But Cardinal fan or not, I think it's fair to say that Bob Gibson is a deserving choice as the best autograph I acquired in 2013. Gibson had an absolutely tremendous 16 year career, winning 251 games, two CY Young's, 2 World Series MVP's, 9 Gold Glove's, and multiple other accomplishments/awards along the way. Despite some pretty ugly stories I've heard of Gibson, he was one of the nicest people I've met this past year, and to have the chance to talk to him for a good three or four minutes was an absolute honor. Once again, I think it's fair to say that Mr. Bob Gibson was the best autograph I got in 2013, what do you guys think?
It's truly been an amazing year for my collection. I did loose count of how many autographs I got this past year, but I think it's fair to say that I reached the 1,300 autographs goal that I set one year ago today. One, not so wise grapher told me earlier this year that "kids only get caught up in quantity, they never care about quality", but judging off my top ten list, I think it's pretty obvious that said grapher was wrong. And while I won't try to top that 1,300 total this next year, I do have a couple of goals that I'd like to live up to:
1. Add at least ten more baseball Hall of Fame members to my collection
2. Add 5 MVP winners AND 5 CY Young Winners to my collection
3. Get at least four jerseys signed by star players and/or Hall of Fame members
I'd like to thank quite a few people for helping me out this past year, starting with Alex G, Rob G, and Kyle for not only being a great people to graph with, but being great friends outside of graphing as well. I'd also like to thank Mike, Benson, Lori, Daniel, Scotty, David A, Amber, Joe Chon, Jeremy, Matt Crocker, Moe, Robert, Ryan, Victor, George, Greg, Franz, Mical, Tyler, Spencer, Larry, Josh, Clint, Jose, Eddie, Alex Cala, and a few others for helping to make this year a very special one for all of us. I'd also like to thank a couple of very immature people, who helped teach me what NOT to do or be when I grow older. I'm looking forward to see what 2014 has in store! Thanks for reading!