Saturday, December 19, 2015

Johnny Bench: 12/19/15

December is usually a slow month for graphing, but thankfully the OC Dugout had baseball legend Johnny Bench in for a signing this past Saturday. Bench was recently named one of the four greatest living players in MLB history, and after passing up an opportunity to get his autograph back in July, I had to go an meet him. 

I've heard some mixed reviews on Bench in the past but had a terrific experience meeting him. We talked for about a minute and then he asked me how/where I wanted my photo signed. He also stood up for the photograph that I took with him, which is something that I always appreciate. I ended up getting my 11x14 signed with "Catch Ya Later" and "HOF 89".

(You can ignore the blue corners, those are just part of a photo holder that I use)

Thanks to Brian and the OC Dugout for bringing in a rare-December autograph guest, and thanks for reading.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dustin Brown: 11/27/15

LA Kings captain Dustin Brown was signing at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Black Friday. I'm not a huge fan of Black Friday shopping and this year I even decided against my annual trip to Sports Authority since too many people were beginning to take notice and were taking it way to seriously, just like very other Black Friday sale. I guess I'm more of an online shopping guy anyways, so instead of dealing with all of the crowds I decided to sleep in and go get an autograph.

This turned out to be one of the easiest and best ran signings of the year. I showed up a couple of hours early, was handed a numbered card by a Toyota employee, and was told that I didn't have to come back until a half an hour before it started. After grabbing some lunch I met up with a few friends and sat around waiting for the signing to start. There was literally no line waiting at all as they called up your numbers in groups of 10 at a time. I had #64 so it wasn't too long before I got up to Brown and had him sign a couple of pucks.

By the time I got through the line was fairly short, so I hopped in the back and got a NHL Stadium Series puck that I had lying around my house signed by the Captain.

In the end I was happy with my decision and walked away with a few nice autographs. It's so rare that events in Southern California go so smoothly, so I've learned to appreciate them over the years. Good on Toyota for a great event and a thanks to Ryan, Benson, and Marc for keeping me company throughout the signing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fanatics Authentics Show: 11/21/15 - 11/22/15

One of my favorite things about my birthday is that it's usually close enough to Thanksgiving to where I have the day off of school. It's also just far enough away from Christmas to where it's not forgotten in the holiday madness. So really, it's a win-win. This year it happened to fall on a Saturday, and after a few weeks of saving I was able to raise enough money to afford a short weekend trip to the Fanatics Authentics show in Chicago. 

Of course, that weekend Chicago got hit by the city's largest snow storm in years. The high all weekend was a warm 32 degrees, but I loved it. To give you an idea, here was the view outside of our hotel room on Saturday morning:

Here is another from inside of our lobby:

It might not look like a ton of snow, but for someone from Southern California who has only seen snow at ski/snowboard resorts, it was a lot. Luckily the airport, hotel, and the convention center was all within a coupe of miles, so we were able to cab/Uber everywhere.

the first half of Saturday's show went fairly well. My first autograph was from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha. I've mentioned it several times in the past, but the Cardinals are the team that I root for in the National League. It's been that way since I was on the Cardinals tee-ball team, and Wacha happens to be one of my favorite pitchers, so it was neat to get an opportunity to finally meet him. 

The next autograph I got came from Ryne Sandberg. I had been debating on getting Sandberg's autograph for the previous week or so, but after a few signers cancelled due to the weather it was an easy decision. I ended up having him sign a ROMLB with "'Ryno'", "HOF 05" and "84 NL MVP".

Of course, it turned out to be one of my favorite autographs all weekend, so I was happy with my decision. I had regretted getting Sandberg on a Gold Glove ball instead of a sweet spot when he visited Angel Stadium with the Phillies, so it was a nice "redemption" autograph for me.

The third and final guy that I got on Saturday was Cubs phenom Kris Bryant. Bryant had just won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award and the most popular signer at the show. He ended up selling out of tickets before the day began, but I was smart enough to have pre-ordered them a couple of days before.

The bald guy to Bryant's left turned out to be one of the biggest (fill in the blank) of the year. I only bring this up because I've had promoters email me in the past when I complain about a worker, and I hope Fanatics does the same here. In reality, there is no need to be rushing people who are spending more money to get one person's autograph than what he (the handler) is making all weekend. It was frustrating because I feel as if this man was encouraging Bryant to give out sloppier signatures by constantly telling fans, and even Bryant, to "hurry up" or "keep it moving". I ended up getting both items that I wanted signed, but I do wish that it would have been a less chaotic experience, like every other athlete at the show who was not rushed. 

Saturday ended like any good day would, with Chicago-style pizza from Giordano's.

There was only one big signer on Sunday that I was worried about and that was Carlos Correa. I had already gotten some really nice Bryant's from his first few months in pro baseball, but Correa has never been the nicest guy or easiest signer ever since his days in A-ball. My goal was basically to get a couple of nice, full signatures from Correa and not have to worry about the sloppy signature that he gives out at the ballpark.

The first ball is inscribed "2015 AL ROY', and the second is inscribed the same, plus "Showrrea". It was kind of a cheesy inscription to get done but Correa thought it was funny and unique, which was basically what I was going for. 

Ironically he turned out to be one of the nicer signers at the show. His line was probably the third longest all weekend, behind only Bryant and Brett Favre, and yet he wasn't rushed and actually had good conversations with everyone. That's the way it should be for every athlete. You can see him and I talking in the photo above, actually about Mike Trout since I was wearing an Angels hat. It was cool to have that experience since he is a complete opposite at the stadium.

I got a few smaller guys on Sunday but nobody big. Overall it was a fun weekend and another great trip to Chicago, which is an amazing place to visit. Thanks as always!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Updated For Sale List

I have finally updated my "Autographs For Sale" list with many new autographed baseballs, photos, cards, etc. All items also have updated prices, and I'll be happy to email you any pictures upon request. To contact me about any of the items, you can refer to the "Contact Me" tab above.

Also, if there are any items that have caught your eye but are not on the list, feel free to email me asking about them. The worst I can say is "no". Many things are available for the right price, and all of the money is put right back in the hobby. Thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Warren Moon: 10/31/15

Hall of Fame quaterback Warren Moon held a free signing at a local Dick's Sporting Goods store. The signing was scheduled from 10:00 to noon on Halloween morning, so I assumed that getting there around 8:00 would give me a decent spot in line. When I got to the event I was surprised at the amount of people that had already shown up. The first people in line had gotten there at 10:00 the night before, which is a bit crazy for my liking. I ended up still getting a spot near the back of the line and eventually found myself in the middle thanks to poor line management by the store.

Moon arrived on time and began signing for the long line. I'd say there was about 100 people in front of us, but it took about an hour and a half to get to the front of the line since Moon was signing multiple and inscribing for everyone. I can't complain though, since once I got up to him he was extremely nice and signed both of my items with the "HOF 06" inscription.

I had a few people ask me, "why a football player on a baseball?" Quite simply, baseballs are pretty much a universal item in the hobby. Plus, they're much easier to display than full size footballs, and much, much cheaper too! This should be my only recap for a few weeks, but I should have a pretty exciting one near the end of November. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Baseball Season in Review + A Couple of Recent Aditions

It's clearly a bit late for this, but with the Angels missing the playoffs and me now having very little hope in the Blue Jays, I figured that it was a fair enough time to recap the 2015 baseball season (autograph-wise, of course).

2015 was a very weird season for me. I made a vow at the beginning of the year to not take autographing very seriously. I wasn't going to get stressed out over it like some people including my former self. I definitely think that paying for autographs and getting more quality signatures away from the ballpark helped the cause. I also did not write about many of the autographs that I got at Angel Stadium this year, so many of these will look new to my readers. That, of course, is my fault, but I felt that the various signing recaps and the Tristar National Convention was enough to keep people briefly entertained. So without any further interruptions, here are some of my favorite in person autographs from 2015:

1. 2015 Topps Heritage

One of my main goals for 2015 was to get as many 2015 Topps Heritage cards signed as possible. I know that I'll likely never complete the 500 card set, but reaching the 100 card mark in one season has me optimistic. Regardless, it is a cheap way to stay entertained throughout the year, and I ended up getting some pretty darn good names including the future AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, and AL Cy Young, Dallas Keuchel (courtesy of my friend Ryan), winners.  

2. New Faces

By new faces, I mean guys that I haven't posted about this season, including one of my favorite broadcasters and Ford F. Frick Award winner Marty Brennaman. 

I guess that Alex Bregman could qualify as a new face in a few different ways, but I was able to get the future Astro on a ball with "2015 #2 Pick".

Jim Palmer is always a great signer when he comes to town. This year I was able to get "Cakes" on a ball with his Cy Young years inscribed.

Craig Kimbrel has always been known as one of the nicest guys in baseball. Unfortunately, that has changed a bit since his trade to San Diego, but he kept his word and signed for me and several others while in Anaheim.

Ironically, I headed to Angel Stadium with nothing for this guy to sign, but as I was going through an old bag I discovered a brand new ROMLB, which is practically the grapher's equivalent of gold. Apparently it was destiny since Sonny Gray started signing over the dugout and eventually called for me to throw down my ball. It may be personalized, but I am beyond happy to have this after his breakout year.

3. Angels Team Ball

Every season I attempt to start and complete an Angels team ball. Last year I came fairly close to completing it, only needing the big three (Weaver, Pujols, Trout). This year I was able to get Trout, and I could have had Weaver if he hadn't skipped over me several times, and had Weaver in fact signed it, I likely would've paid for Pujols to complete this years. So there is another thing that I can blame Jered Weaver and his 82 MPH fastball on. (PS- I am actually a big Jered Weaver fan despite how terrible he is to fans.)

The ball still looks nice and I'm sure I could eventually complete it if I tried. But I'll likely end up starting over next year in hopes that 2016 will be the year that the Angels win another World Series.

Recent Pick-Ups:

This does not relate at all to the baseball season or my IP autos from it, but there have been a few things that I've been able to get that I've yet to show off. The first being this Nancy Bea bobblehead. If you remember, I advertised this event for my good friend Marc. Unfortunately I had to miss the event, but Marc was kind enough to set one aside for me.

Next up I was able to add a couple of things signed by local-girl Alex Morgan to my collection. The first being a signed Sports Illustrated with "15 WC Champs".

The other being a pair of signed Nike cleats with the same inscription.

That about does it for my 2015 baseball recap. As always, a big thanks to everyone who I hung out with at the stadium throughout the summer. And again, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Eric Dickerson: 10/11/15

Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson recently held a free autograph signing at the Southern California RV Show in Pomona. Since the signing was fairly close to home, I decided to check it out and also get a couple more items signed by the HOFer. On top of being a football legend, Dickerson is also one of the most genuine and kind athletes that you'll ever meet. Every time that I've met him he's sat there with a smile on his face, signs what ever you want, and inscribes what ever you ask. It's really a sight to behold, especially considering how some athletes treat their fans today.

Since I've met Dickerson multiple times, I decided to go with something different to get signed this time. I was able to find a SMU Mustangs mini helmet at nearby Frank and Sons and bought it before I had a chance to second guess myself. If you don't know the story behind Dickerson and SMU, I suggest that you look it up. ESPN even did a 30-For-30 special featuring the "Pony Express" and how the alleged illegal recruiting of Dickerson and other players led to the school's football team receiving the "death penalty". The whole thing is very fascinating, so I thought that it was pretty neat to get a SMU mini signed and inscribed "Pony Express".

I was also able to get a L.A. Rams mini helmet signed by Dickerson. I already had a Rams mini inscribed "HOF 99" from a few years ago, so I decided to get this one with "ROY 83". He also added "2105 yds" without me asking, which was (and still is) the record for most rushing yards in a single season.

I can't say enough about how nice Eric Dickerson truly is. It's always refreshing to see an athlete, and a legendary one at that, be so respectful towards their fans. That alone made the hour of standing in the heat well worth it. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My First Box Break (Sort Of): Leaf 2015 Autographed Baseball Edition

It's been quite a while since my last few posts, and I've been trying to fill up my September tab with at least a couple of posts before the month is over. In case you were worried, I can assure you that you did not miss much. September has always been a tough month when it comes to autographs, and this year there was an added kicker. Aside from school starting up and having to deal with homework, AP classes, etc., there was also a new addition to my family (I'm now officially an uncle). With that being said, there are a few things that I could post about, but I figured that this would be the most informative and interesting read.

For the second straight year (at least to my knowledge), Leaf released it's "Autographed Baseball Edition" boxes. They are available at Target for $40 each and includes one random autographed baseball. Now who that baseball is actually autographed by is sort of a crap-shoot. I've seen boxes with baseball signed by Ken Shamrock (yes, the wrestler) to Frank Thomas or Ivan Rodriguez. Some of the baseballs pulled are worth $40 on a good day, however I came across the final box at my local Target and decided to give it a shot. Here was the end result:

I ended up pulling a Boog Powell autographed baseball with "70 AL MVP". Powell was a 4x All-Star and, obviously, the American League MVP in 1970. He is also a member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. Considering that Powell is 74 years old and likely never coming out west again, I was more than happy with the pull.

Each ball also comes with a Leaf COA and matching hologram.

If you happen to have some extra bucks lying around then I would suggest seeing if your local Target has a box left. I can't tell you exactly who or what to expect, but I've seen some people end up with Pudge, Thomas, Tony LaRussa, Bruce Bochy, Pete Rose, Jose Canseco, Wade Boggs, Jim Palmer, and even some old team autographed baseballs from the 1980's. It's sort of like going to a casino and playing $40 worth of slots, except you are guaranteed to come away with something in this case. If you've already bought a box or go out and buy one after reading this, make sure to comment who you got. I'm curious if there are any names that I have not heard of yet. Hopefully a few of you found this post interesting. Thanks for reading.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Derrek Lee: 9/18/15

If you've been a fan of baseball over the past decade or so, then the name Derrek Lee likely rings a bell. The former Florida Marlin and Chicago Cub was one of the most dominant first basemen in all of baseball throughout the 2000's. Lee belted 30 or more HR's four times in his career, won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003, and a batting title with the Cubs in 2005. If it weren't for such a sudden fall from grace, Lee would likely be right next to Paul Konerko and Todd Helton as candidates for a late ballot Hall of Fame induction. 

Lee happened to be throwing out the first pitch before the second game of the California League (High-A ball) Championship series in Rancho Cucamonga. I got a last minute tip from one of my friends that Lee would be at the game and decided to head over since it was right down the street. Right as I walked through the front gates, I noticed Lee standing to my left and was able to knock out a pair of cards within second of being inside the ballpark.

The card on the left is a 1994 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes card that I imagine was part of a team set from that season. It happened to be inside of a large box of cards that I purchased for $2 at a yard sale many years back. I was fairly surprised (and impressed) that I remembered the card from so many years ago and was able to dig it up earlier in the afternoon. I've always enjoyed getting minor league cards signed from ballplayers who eventually reached the major league level, so I was very happy to not only find it, but get it signed.

I ended up getting Lee one more time later on in the night. I'd like to think that being a good friend payed off in this case, as I ended up hanging around and helping one of my friends get Lee after the game was over. While he was getting his card signed, I was able to pull out a baseball and got Lee to sign it on the sweet spot.

In the end, it ended up being one of the easier and more random autographs that I've gotten in a while. I was happy to add another all-star to the collection and one that I watched play for many years with the Cubs. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Albert Pujols: 8/22/15

One of my all time favorite players, Albert Pujols, recently held a rare public signing in SoCal a few days ago. For those of you who don't know, the St. Louis Cardinals were the first baseball team that I actually rooted for, and to this day I still pull for them to represent the National League, so it's easy to see why I've been such an avid Pujols fan many years.

Unfortunately, Pujols is far from the friendliest or most willing signer around the ballpark. In several years of collecting autographs, Pujols is one of the few players who I had never gotten a signature from until this signing. Needless to say I was excited to get my first autograph from "The Machine" regardless of the high price tag.

I ended up choosing a 2015 All-Star baseball to get signed. There were several different baseballs that I could've chosen from, but I chose a 2015 for a few reasons. Not only was it his first All-Star Game as an Angel, but it was also his tenth overall ASG, and 2015 will represent the year in which I got it signed.

I think we all have an athlete or celebrity who we like even though they are not the friendliest. It's almost like a guilty pleasure in terms of collecting. Mine is definitely Albert Pujols. I heard some pretty bad stories about him at this signing, and none of them shock me a bit. Overall he was nice to me, but I'm sure that wearing a Pujols shirt while telling him that I've been a huge fan for years helped. There's a much longer version of this story that I can't share yet, strictly because it's still unresolved. I may or may not share it when I get the opportunity. At the end of the day, Albert Pujols still is, and always will be, one of my favorite players to ever put on a baseball uniform, and I'm beyond happy to add his autograph to my collection. Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2015 Tristar National Sports Collectors Convention

*Please note that this will be the longest blog post that I have ever written. It will include roughly twenty-five photos and likely over a couple thousand words, so please keep that in mind as you start reading. If you've have time to kill and enjoy hearing stories about different ballparks and autographs, then enjoy!*

This year I was able to attend the 2015 Tristar National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) in Chicago, Illinois. Attending the National has been something on my autograph bucket list for years, and since Chicago is as far west as the convention will come over the next several years, I figured that 2015 would be the year to go.

On top of attending the National, I was able to visit four different Major League ballparks in and around the Chicago area. I've decided to post the pictures of those separately instead of mixing them in with all of the autographs.

Wrigley Field was the first ballpark that I visited, and aside from the traffic getting there, the experience was great. I say the experience was great because that's exactly what is was. The ballpark itself isn't overwhelming, but the fans, the bleacher seats, and all of the t-shirt and food vendors along the street make it awesome.

Busch Stadium in St. Louis was by far my favorite ballpark that I visited. Ever since I got into baseball, the Cardinals have been the team that I have rooted for in the National League. If you ask me which baseball team I am a fan of, I'll say the Angels, but in reality there are four or five teams that I root for every year. I personally think that's just part of being a baseball fan. Anyways, if you ever attend Busch Stadium make sure to check out the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum at the Ballpark Village. Also, don't sell yourself short and buy tickets anywhere other than in the sections that have access to "Club Redbird".

Miller Park in Milwaukee was a lot of fun to visit. It's a very interesting stadium and unlike any that I've ever visited. There are a lot of neat "little" things that you notice around the ballpark. If Busch Stadium wasn't so damn beautiful, this would've easily been my favorite ballpark from the trip.

The fourth and final ballpark that I visited was US Cellular Field. Overall the "Cell" was a lot nicer than expected. I've heard some pretty bad stories about the ballpark being ugly and plain, but I actually really enjoyed watching a game there.

It probably didn't hurt either that it was Scott Podsednik bobblehead night at the ballpark. The bobblehead is actually huge compared to my other SGA ones, and even included the 2005 World Series patch on the sleeve of the jersey.

Ballparks and bobbleheads aside, the actual point of this post is the NSCC. The show itself was huge and would likely be heaven for some other bloggers that I know, but for me it was mainly about the autographs. I will say this, you can't go to the National without being prepared to spend money. I won't say exactly how much I spent, but it did makes months of saving to afford as many autograph as I did. I used some of that money to purchase a VIP package from Tristar. The package included admission all five days and also came with some cool, limited edition cards from different card companies.

The VIP package also came with a bunch of "free" autograph tickets for the some of the VIP guests. I ended up not using a few of the autograph tickets, but here are some of the ones that I did use:

Rollie Fingers was nice as always and signed a ball with "HOF 92" for me.

Bret Saberhagen has cancelled his last few autograph appearances in California. I was able to get him in person at the Angels/Royals playoff game last year, but this was my first sit down signature from him.

Pierre Pilote was the only hockey autograph that I got. I had originally planned on getting autographs from a few other Blackhawk legends but had to cut some costs after picking up an item that I'll show later on. Still, a 3x Norris winner and HOF inductee isn't too bad.

Cecil Cooper was very business-like while signing but still autographed a ROMLB with "5x All-star".

Todd Hollandsworth was one of the main reasons why I bought the VIP package. His name may not sound familiar to people outside of Southern-California, but Hollandsworth was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1996 for the Dodgers, and hasn't done and autograph signing in California in years.

Lem Barney was extremely nice, however his line was extremely long as well. I had asked him to put "ROY 67" and he also included "HOF 92", so it was well worth the wait.

Dontrelle Willis' line was also very long. I still remember when Willis was expected to be the next star pitcher for the Marlins and eventually the Tigers. Things never fully panned out for him but I was still glad to get him on a ball with "NL ROY 03".

Nate Archibald was also a part of the VIP package. I'm not a huge basketball collector outside of the Clippers and marquee players, so I had him sign a baseball with "HOF 92". He also added his nickname "Tiny" in all of his autographs.

My final VIP autograph came from Maury Wills. Wills has been a name that has been mentioned on this blog many times before. I have gotten his autographs many times but decided to get one last ROMLB with "NL MVP 62" on it.

Those were all of the autographs that came along with the VIP package. It's really a good purchase if you are planning on attending four or all five days of the show. One of the more random autographs not included on the VIP list came from the Rudy Ruettinger. Ruettinger was signing autographs at the Steiner booth for a $20 purchase. I ended up buying a Notre Dame mini helmet for $25 and got Rudy to sign it along with the famous motto "Play like a champion today".

After getting Rudy I returned back to the autograph lines and got the "Ironman", Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken is one of the classiest athletes in all of sports and was the only athlete to take a posed photo with every person who bought an autograph ticket at no additional cost. I got my ball autographed with "HOF 2007" and then got my picture taken with Cal.

After getting Cal I made my way over to the Randy Johnson line. Johnson has always been one of my favorite pitchers of all-time, so it was pretty cool to meet the Big Unit in person.

A last minute addition to the show was Luis Aparicio. By Last minute, I literally mean last minute. Aparicio was added the morning before he was scheduled to appear and I knew that I needed to get a ball signed to go along with my photo that I got signed back in 2010.

Manny Ramirez was making a rare autograph appearance as well, and let's just say that he has earned a lifetime award for the biggest a-hole that I have ever met. There are too many things to talk about, but let's just say that if you agree to do a sit down autograph signing and are getting paid $25,000 to sign your name for two hours, don't ruin people's items by signing in the wrong spot or writing literally an "M" and calling it an autograph. I saw too many people walk away with ruined 2004 Red Sox team pieces because he ignored them their request and/or gave an horrible autograph. Also, don't get up and leave when there are still people in line who already pre-paid for your autograph. I guess that's just "Manny being Manny", and ironically he refused to sign that at this signing. I got pretty lucky and was able to come away with one of the best Manny autographs from the day, but still shame on Manny for being such an arrogant (fill in the blank).

From the biggest a-hole that I've met to one of the nicer guys in baseball, I was able to get Tom Glavine to sign a HOF ball with "HOF 2014". Glavine is the literally the opposite of Ramirez in every way possible, and I couldn't be happier to say that.

These final two pieces were by far my favorite from the show. I've tried hard to pick one that stands out over the other, but I just can't. The first piece is an 11x14 photo signed by two of the greatest players in MLB history, Brooks and Frank Robinson. I was able to get their autographs on separate days and was extremely happy with the way it turned out. It's truly a legendary piece for my collection.

The second piece is signed by one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, John Smoltz. I was able to pick up an authentic Atlanta Braves jersey of Smoltz from one of the dealers at the show and was able to get him to sign it a couple of days later.

That concludes what was the longest recap in this blog's history. Overall the National Sports Collectors Convention and Chicago treated me very well, and I highly recommend it to any collector. Thanks for reading!