Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year In Review

The year 2014 has nearly come and gone, and to say it was a total blur would be an understatement. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I was looking back at the time that I met baseball legends Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, and it took me several minutes to finally realize that it had been over a year since that day had occurred. None the less, 2014 has been a monumental year for me in many ways. From a collector's point of view, it has been amazing watching my collection grow immensley, especially over the past several months. From a writer's point of view, I'm almost embarrassed looking back at some of my posts from 2012, when I first started this blog. I then have to remind myself that I was much younger when I wrote my first ever blog post, and many things have changed since that time

I decided to skip all of the drama of a "Biggest jerks" list and/or a "Nicest Guys" list for the first time this year. I'm really not in the mood to write six to eight paragraphs explaining why each player is deserving of being on either list. Also, everybody has their own opinion about which athletes are nice and which are, let's just say, not so nice. The odds are that nothing I would've said would have changed your mind, so why bother? To be blunt, I've heard more players curse and deny me than I can count, so to single out a few wouldn't make much of a difference.

With that being said, I will, however, expand my favorite autographs list from my top ten to my top fifteen. After all this is an autograph blog, and I think a majority of my readers would rather see pictures of autographs rather than read about my personal encounters. So without further ado, my top fifteen autographs of 2014:

15. Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler autographed jersey
While Ryan Kesler may not be one of the biggest names that I got to signed in 2014, he is certainly one of my favorites. Here's why: I have become hockey crazy over the past few years. It has quickly gone from a sport that I would watch on the side to my favorite sport to watch, by far. So to land an autograph of Kesler, one of the team's best players, on one of the Ducks' brand new road jerseys was big for me. Also, Kesler his full signature without paying for it, so to have one on a Ducks jersey is definitely a big deal.

14. Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu autographed baseball
It's not hard to tell why Jose Abreu made his debut on my list in his first season of Major League Baseball. Abreu hit for a .317 average with a whopping 36 home runs and 107 RBI while appearing in his first All-Star Game and winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. After missing out on the Abreu action at Spring Training, I was lucky enough to get him during the regular season when the White Sox came to Anaheim. I have very high hopes for him, and that is why he cracks my top fifteen.

13. Bob Miller

Bob Miller autographed puck
Bob Miller is one of my most recent, and favorite, in person autographs of 2014. Miller is essentially the Vin Scully of hockey, except for the fact that he is much more obliging when it comes to autographs than Vin. Also, it doesn't hurt that both pucks came out beautifully with "HOF 2000".

12. Harmon Killebrew


Harmon Killebrew autographed baseball
I had an opportunity to meet Harmon Killebrew back at All-Star Fan Fest in 2010, but instead chose to meet Rollie Fingers. Of course that was well before I got serious about collecting, and I had no idea at the time that Killerbrew would pass away not long after. But like any grapher would, I look back at that day and wish I had taken the opportunity to meet him. With that said, I had the chance to buy this beautiful Killebrew baseball for an unbeatable price earlier this year, and I wasn't going to let it slip through my fingers this time.

11. Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner autographed baseball
Unlike Killebrew, I never had an opportunity to meet on of baseball's longest living Hall of Famers. About a week after his passing I was able to find this 'beaut and picked it up off Ebay for a great deal. The ball is graded a 9 by PSA but the signature is a perfect 10. My only complaint is that the seams of the baseball aren't centered (Why Rawlings, why?) but I'm still very happy to own it. So happy, in fact, that it cracked my top fifteen list.

10. Ryan Getzlaf

Ryan Getzlaf autographed puck
This is the third and final hockey item on this list, so for all of you non-hockey lovers, I promise that it's over. It happens to come from 2x Gold medalist, 2007 Stanley Cup champion, and Ducks' captain Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf is one of my favorite players in hockey and likely a future HOFer. He is also someone who I have many autographs of, however, inscriptions are hard to come by when it comes in Getzy. I've only seen a handful online and had never asked for any in person, so I decided to pay at one of his only autograph signings ever in So-Cal. The puck turned out beautiful and much better than those I've seen signed at practice, so it's an easy pick for #10.

9. Rod Carew

Rod Carew autographed baseball
I was able to get this Rod Carew autographed baseball before a Twins vs. Angels game in June. Ironically, I was able to get Hall of Fame member Paul Molitor just moments later, which is still one of the best days of graphing that I've ever had. Not only was I excited to land two HOFers in one day, but I was also excited to get my first ever Carew baseball with "HOF 91" inscribed. Of course it didn't come at any of the five autographs signings that I've attended, but rather outside of Angel Stadium hours before the gates even opened. Go figure.

8. Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg autographed baseball
"Ryne, not Ryan" I had to remind myself when writing this. Anyways, Sandberg is one of the greatest defensive players in baseball history, which is one of the main reasons he was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2005. I had been waiting a good year and a half for the Phillies to come to Anaheim after Sandberg was named the manager of the Phils, and I was more than pleased when I was able to get my Gold Glove baseball signed before the final game of a 2 game series. To top things off, Ryno inscribed "9x G.G.'s" without me even asking. That's a true class act and someone who takes pride in their illustrious career.

7. Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith autographed 11x14
One of the few things that I wished I would've done differently in 2014 is add more football autographs. I had many great opportunities throughout the year, but passed over most of them to get baseball autographs instead. That's never more apparent than now, as Smith is the only football autograph on my top fifteen list. Luckily it's a pretty darn good autograph to get, and I'll be sending it off to the frame shop shortly. But hopefully 2015 will be a better year for my football collection.

6. Don Sutton

Don Sutton autographed baseball
There are many reasons why Don Sutton cracked the list for best autographs of 2014. First of all, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball history, and his 324 wins backs that up. Second of all, he is one of the nicest guys I've met, and he would have likely cracked my "Nicest Guys of 2014" list had I made one. Regardless, this HOF ball came out absolutely great with two inscriptions and is one of my favorite balls in my collection.

5. Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano autographed jersey
It would probably be unfair for me to write a recap of 2014 and leave out arguably my biggest free IP success of the season, this Robinson Cano autographed jersey. I was able to score Cano at Mariners camp this Spring Training, and what makes it even more special is that my friend Kyle and I, who had made the trip to Arizona together, were the only two people around when Cano signed for us. It would be my first of five autographs from Cano this year after getting zero in previous years, and looking back I realized that I forgot to post this 2011 HR Derby baseball that I got back from a signing in Seattle.

Robinson Cano autographed baseball
I was utterly shocked when I saw that I had never posted it, and considering it's one of my favorites (mainly because I was at the Derby in 2011) from 2014, I figured there would be no better time to post it than now. Also, I did not want to take up two spots for the same guy.

4. David Eckstein

David Eckstein autographed baseball
While Cano was probably my biggest free IP success of 2014, my favorite was David Eckstein, and since this is a list of my favorite autographs of 2014, it wasn't hard for me to put the X-Factor at number three. Everybody has their childhood hero, and for me it was no other than Eckstein. I've only had a few chances to get his autograph in the past, so you could imagine how happy I was when I was able to get him on a 2006 World Series ball that I had been carrying around for nearly two years.

3. Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin autographed shoes
Needless to say that Blake Griffin is my favorite player in the NBA. It's not often that I get basketball autographs, but when OC Dugout announced that they'd have Blake in for an autograph signing, I knew I had to go. Had I just gotten a boring old photo or a basketball signed by him, it likely wouldn't rank this high, but these Nike Hyperdunks are a thing of beauty and an item that you don't see signed everyday. I'm very happy with the way they turned out and happy to add a rare NBA autograph to my collection.

2. Mike Trout

Mike Trout autographed bat
Now here is where we get to the really good stuff, 2014 AL MVP and the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, autographed Old Hickory game model bat. It's a lot to take in, but once it sinks in it's clear why this is my second favorite autograph of 2014. I've been telling myself for a while that I wouldn't pay for Trout's autograph until he won his first MVP, so that I could be one of the first people to have an MVP inscribed item. After two years of waiting, the time finally came and I couldn't be any more pleased with the final result.

1. Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds autographed jersey
Barry Bonds autographed bat
It was a complete toss-up between number's one and two, but what ultimately made me choose Bonds over Trout was the sheer fact that I was able to meet Bonds and watch him sign my items. Had I been there to see trout sign my bat, it likely would've been #1 on my list. I know I'm going to hear people say that I shouldn't put him as #1 because he cheated, but there's no argument that Bonds was one of the greatest players in the modern day era, and there may not have been a player more dominant in the history of the game than Bonds was. So let everyone say what they want to say, but ultimately Barry Bonds was my favorite autograph(s) of 2014.

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In review, my favorite free IP autograph was of David Eckstein, my favorite purchased item was my Mike Trout Old Hickory bat, and my favorite autograph of the entire year was from Barry Bonds. I tried organizing the list by taking three things in to consideration:

1. The value of the item signed.
2. How the autographed turned out (legibility, how the pen worked, etc.).
3. How much I like the player.

I think I did a fairly good job of organizing it 1-15, but please comment if you think that one item should be ranked higher or lower. I always enjoy hearing other collector's opinions. As for my goals to 2014, here they were:

1. Add at least ten more baseball Hall of Fame members to my collection
Success! (11/10) Paul Molitor, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Orlando Cepeda, Pat Gillick, Tony LaRussa, Rod Carew, Ryne Sandberg, Jim Palmer, Don Sutton, and Carlton Fisk.

2. Add 5 MVP winners AND 5 CY Young Winners to my collection 
Success! 
MVP's: (12/5) Rod Carew, Ryne Sandberg, Orlando Cepeda, Don Newcombe, Kirk Gibson, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Orel Hershiser, Josh Hamilton, Jimmy Rollins, and Barry Bonds, Mike Trout.
Cy Young (5/5): Orel Hershiser, Jim Palmer, Clayton Kershaw, Bret Saberhagen, and Don Newcombe. 


3. Get at least four jerseys signed by star players and/or Hall of Fame members
Success! (6/4) Robinson Cano, Ryan Kesler, Matt Williams, Josh Hamilton, Barry Bonds, and Sidney Crosby

A huge thanks to everyone who has read this blog over the years. 2015 will be my third full year of writing and I hope that I've done a decent job of keeping you all entertained over that stretch of time. As always, a big thanks to Mike Lee, Benson, Lori, Daniel, Scotty, Scott Sr, David A, Amber, Joe Chon, Jeremy, Moe, Robert, Jacob H, Victor, Josh (Dodgerbobble), George, Greg, Franz, Mical, Tyler, Spencer, Larry, Josh L, Clint, Jose, Eddie, Marc, and Anthony, and an extra special thanks to Alex and Rob G, Ryan, Kyle, David P, and Matt Crocker. Thanks for reading and happy New Year! 

3 comments:

  1. Wow! What a year! So many great autographs! The Trout and Bonds bats are amazing! I'm not a huge Bonds fan, but that 7X MVP inscription is awesome!

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  2. great stuff! love the Getzy, of course. that Trout is super sweet man. I still need to make my way to a Ducks' practice at some point and try for Trout at a game.

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