Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book 'em, Drew-o!

Got the hotel for the National booked. Yep, this is actually happening.

I got damn close to the rate I was wanting (Arron and I are each paying $230 for it; my original goal was $222) and only having to stay a little further out. My aim was for the La Quinta in Independence, instead we're at the one in Macedonia. Whatever. Ten minutes more of driving isn't the end of the world.  It also gives us a slightly shorter return trip late at night from Akron, Columbus, and coming in initially from West Virginia. Eastlake should be about the same, Toledo will be slightly longer.

Ehh, whatever. It's not enough to make a huge difference really; the price and quality hooked me.

Next up: buying tickets, coming in March. Supposedly, autograph guests are supposed to be announced starting this month. Hope we see a lot from the VIP list early.  There are a few I can guess will be there-- Len Barker, Joe Charbonneau, Kevin Mack... I hope they get Sonny Siebert again, I still have my 2014 photo of him and I need him for the 1972 Topps set.

I know, I failed to post an autograph update for January. It was a slow TTM month and I've been busy with the National and trying to keep my band afloat. Our guitarist just up and quit on us a week ago, which also left me without a drum set for a week. We have the latter squared away at least so far.

I'll have a full update on these two months coming at the end of February.  At around the same time, I also will be writing a piece for SCF as a National Preview, which I will cross-post here. I'm going to be trying to write an update for them on each day of the trip, as well as posting it here.

I actually wrote a couple pieces for them on the NFL kneeling issue, as well as the removal of Chief Wahoo. The former got a LOT of talk going-- mostly against my position. The latter, not so much, as it seemed more people than I expected were in agreement with me. It seems I've become the SCF Writing Staff version of WFAA's Dale Hansen: clearly I'm not afraid to take on some controversial topics. On the old format, I also did editorial-style pieces in favor of fighting in hockey and applauding Sean Avery's work with the "New Yorkers for Marriage Quality" campaign.

I also will be re-writing my March 22, 2013 article on Steve Olin and Tim Crews for this year's 25th anniversary of their accident and deaths. It'll be a busy few months, but I'm in the mood to write again. Let's hope it stays for a while.

Back on the topic of National stuff, ballpark promotion schedules are trickling out. So far, nothing big for our games. Birmingham, West Virginia, Columbus, Lake County, Akron, Fort Wayne, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa don't have theirs out yet.  Lexington has a vomitous Faith and Family Night, plus fireworks-- no giveaways. Toledo has the first day of a Youth Skills Camp-- also no giveaways. Indians have the Rock N Blast fireworks display, along with dollar hot dogs and a pregame block party (hmmm, alumni autographs maybe?)-- no giveaways there either. I've heard Fort Wayne typically has a postgame autograph session on Sundays.

(EDIT: Fort Wayne released their promotion sched on 2/14 and they do have a postgame autograph session; it's also Bark at the Park and a beer tasting... no giveaways)

Lake County confirmed their schedule times for me, as did West Virginia. We changed the Indians to Friday with our potential Lake County reprise moving to Saturday-- SCF is trying for a group outing to the Friday Tribe game.  So far I know of two members likely to be there besides me (scottkoz20 and doniceage). I'd bet there will be more: I remember in 2014 I met up with BSEBALLCOMMISH75, loQtus, mlbfan85, michigandan, palantri, Postman, jeeptrader, and several others.  I'm also hoping to meet up with autograph collectors in other cities.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Rounding out 2017

Aeneas Williams, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month

Dave Rohde, c/o home, 5/5, 4 months

Scott Livingstone, c/o home, 2/5, 1 week, kept 3 and signed the two in a terrible marker

Jon Lieber, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Mike Squires, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week
Ted Power, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Gary Bell, c/o business, 2/2, 1 week
Keith Byars, c/o home, 2/4, 1 month, kept two

Eric Bell, c/o home, 4/5, 1 week, kept one
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., c/o home, 1/1, 3 months

Jeff Shaw, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks
Carroll Hardy, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks
Jesse Levis, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
Dan McGwire, c/o home, 3/6, 1 month, returned three unsigned

Benny Distefano, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Andy Moog, c/o home, 2/2, 5 weeks

Jan Stenerud, c/o home, 3/3, 2 months

Kevin Harvick, c/o home, 2/2, 4 months

DECEMBER 18 - Rangers Toy Drive
Shin-Soo Choo, 1/1
Robinson Chirinos, 2/2
Steve Buechele, 4/4
Jose Guzman, 5/4
Elvis Andrus, 1/1
Matt Bush, 3/3
Joey Gallo, 1/1
Nick Gardewine, 2/1
Tom Grieve, 1/0
Matt Hicks, 1/0
Emily Jones, 1/0
Eric Nadel, 1/0
Dave Raymond, 1/0
Don Wakamatsu, 1/0

Dale Jarrett, c/o home, 3/4, 4 months, returned one unsigned
Ryan Newman, c/o home, 3/3, 4 months

Beau Allred, c/o home, 5/5, 1 month

Hoping for a big year in 2018. I might not be mailing as much out, but the National should be a great opportunity for a lot of in-person success. Looks like our schedule is pretty much set now that all the teams have established their schedules and game times. Only Lake County could change: their PDF schedule had all the times, but their website still says TBD. That's the team that involves the least travel though, so I'm not concerned. It's not like one of the teams on the way up or on the way back.

Schedule looks like this...

7/27: Tennessee @ Birmingham (Cubs/White Sox AA)
7/28: Rome @ Lexington (Braves/Royals A)
7/29: Asheville @ West Virginia (Rockies/Pirates A)
7/30: Indianapolis @ Columbus (Pirates/Indians AAA)
7/31: Great Lakes @ Lake County (Dodgers/Indians A), Louisville @ Toledo (Reds/Tigers AAA)
8/1: Maybe Gateway @ Lake Erie (independent league), National starts in the evening!
8/2: National, Bowie @ Akron (Orioles/Indians AA)
8/3: National, Bowling Green @ Lake County (Rays/Indians A)
8/4: National, Angels @ Indians (MLB)
8/5: Maybe National, Maybe Lansing @ Fort Wayne (Blue Jays/Padres A), Maybe Southern Illinois @ Windy City (independent league)
8/6: Beloit @ Cedar Rapids (A's/Twins A), Las Vegas @ Iowa (Mets/Cubs AAA)
8/7: Las Vegas @ Iowa (Mets/Cubs AAA), maybe Airhogs @ T-Bones (independent league)

I figure I can start buying Indians, Cubs, and Pirates prospects pretty soon-- we'll be seeing three Indians affiliates and two Cubs and Pirates ones. And I can start going nuts on coaches too: as long as the lists online are correct, I know I have stuff on Jose Bautista, Jacob Cruz, Terry Clark, Mark Johnson, Glenn Hubbard, Mitch Stetter, Paco Martin, Butch Wynegar, Steve Karsay, Jerry Owens, Delino Deshields, Jody Davis, Jeff Fassero, Jeff Pico, Brian Harper, Doug Mientkiewicz, Ken Oberkfell, Kennie Steenstra, Butch Davis, Mike Scioscia, Eric Hinske, Paul Sorrento, Charles Nagy, Alfredo Griffin, Josh Paul, Scott Radinsky, Terry Francona, Ty Van Burkleo, Victor Rodriguez, Carl Willis, Sandy Alomar Jr., Brad Mills, Scott Atchison, Willie Collazo, Burt Hooton, Don Schulze, Frank Viola, Marty Pevey, Rod Nichols, Mariano Duncan, and Frank White.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November Reign

I was going to wait a day or two to post just in case I hit a new single-month record, but with USPS Informed Delivery not having any TTMs shown in it for today, I doubt I'll hit 40+ cards tomorrow to do so. But still, 209 autographs in a month is pretty good. And November now holds two records for me: most successes in a day (nine on the 13th), and most sigs received TTM in a day (32 on the 20th). I'll edit this should I receive any on the 30th.

By the way, I highly recommend Informed Delivery. It's free, and sends you a scan of every piece of mail to be delivered to you so you know what's coming and know if something was stolen from your box.

Being November, most of what I did was TTM, but you'll see a couple IP outings at the end. I sent out a ton of football, and plan to crank out some baseball soon too.

Nov 7: Linda Tosetti, c/o home, 2/1, 1 week (Babe Ruth’s only grand-daughter, sent a note back as well)
Nov 20: Mike Marshall, c/o home, 4/4, 2 months

Nov 2: Dick Schafrath, c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks
Nov 4: Phil Villapiano, c/o home, 2/2, 3 weeks
Nov 4: Dick Ambrose, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Nov 8: Jim Shofner, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Nov 9: Jerry Sherk, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week, personalized
Nov 10: Mike Johnson, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week
Nov 10: Jeff Gossett, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Nov 10: Doug Dieken, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week
Nov 10: Brian Brennan, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week
Nov 10: Johnny Evans, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Nov 10: Bob Babich, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Nov 10: Bob Jackson, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Nov 13: Gregg Rakoczy, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Nov 13: Ernie Kellerman, c/o home, 3/2, 2 weeks, wrote a full letter back
Nov 13: Eric Zeier, c/o home, 5/5, 2 weeks
Nov 13: Jeff George, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week, personalized
Nov 13: Larry Seiple, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Nov 13: Joe Bellino, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week
Nov 13: Steve Owens, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week
Nov 13: Bill Parcells, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week, personalized to Dave (um… thanks?)
Nov 14: Brian Hansen, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Nov 14: Eddie Murray, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Nov 14: Fred Dryer, c/o work, 1/1, 1 week, personalized
Nov 16: Steve Largent, c/o work, 1/2, 2 months
Nov 16: Joe Prokop, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
Nov 16: Rolf Benirschke, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Nov 16: Pete Gogolak, c/o home, 1/1, 2 weeks, personalized
Nov 16: Don Mosebar, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Nov 16: Andre Coleman, c/o KSU, 4/4, 2 weeks, personalized
Nov 16: Paul Tagliabue, c/o work, 4/4, 2 weeks
Nov 17: Terry Baker, c/o work, 1/1, 2 weeks
Nov 18: Bert Jones, c/o home, 2/2, 5 weeks
Nov 18: Tom Rathman, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Nov 18: Troy Vincent, c/o NFL, 4/4, 2 weeks
Nov 20: Ozzie Newsome, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks
Nov 20: Sean Landeta, c/o home, 3/4, 2 weeks, kept one card
Nov 20: Chris Gardocki, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
Nov 20: Stanley Morgan, c/o home, 2/4, 2 weeks, personalized, returned two unsigned
Nov 20: Ernest Givins, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks
Nov 21: Paul Gruber, c/o home, 4/5, 2 weeks, kept one card
Nov 24: Mike Phipps, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week
Nov 25: Don Cockroft, c/o home, 6/5, 3 weeks, added signed bookmark

Nov 1: Matt Kenseth, c/o home, 2/2, 2 months
Nov 1: Michael Waltrip, c/o home, 4/4, 2 months
Nov 4: Joey Gase, c/o team, 2/2, 2 months
Nov 7: Todd Bodine, c/o fan club, 4/4, 1 week
Nov 13: Chris Buescher, c/o team, 2/2, 2 weeks
Nov 18: John Hunter Nemechek, c/o team, 2/2, 3 weeks
Nov 18: Joe Nemechek, c/o team, 4/4, 3 weeks

Nov 20: Rebecca Lobo, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

Nov 20: Steve Rucchin, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks

Nov 24: Mark Frederickson, c/o home, 6/5, 6 months, wrote a short note back

Nov 24 - Dallas Stars Green Carpet for Jere Lehtinen's number retirement

Ed Belfour 1/1 (top)
Bob Gainey 1/1 (bottom left)
Brett Hull, 1/1 (bottom right)
Guy Carbonneau, 1/1 (card, not pictured)

Nov 26 - Dallas Stars practice in Euless
Curt Fraser 7/7
Kari Lehtonen 6/6
Jamie Oleksiak 3/3
Martin Hanzal 4/4
Antoine Roussel 1/1
Jason Spezza 1/4

The Stars practice kind of sucked-- it was optional for the players, so we didn't see Ben Bishop, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Dan Hamhuis, or Alex Radulov. I also didn't have anything for a lot of the younger players. I was at least able to help another collector out in getting Esa Lindell though. I still need Radulov on a set card. It's just a major slap in the face for them to throw one bone a year to Tarrant County fans and then not have the big names even bother to go.

For the Green Carpet, the disorganization by the Stars' org showed: we were close to the front and half the time they didn't announce who was walking up until after they had passed us by. So I missed out on a few that way, Neal Broten being the big one I wanted. Also Joe Nieuwendyk was there for the ceremony but not the carpet, and Saku Koivu was there but not announced ahead of time.

Back in 2013, I highlighted the Stars as the organization to emulate when it comes to fan friendliness. Clearly I have been proven wrong over time with the elimination of the Ice Breaker, moving training camp to Austin, no longer having alumni autograph signers on Victory Plaza before games, building a door so players can avoid fans at practices in Frisco, and now making the one Tarrant County practice optional. I suppose we need to pay Fanatics for the privilege of owning a Stars player's autograph.

I expect December to be lighter. I want to send out maybe 50 baseball ones, and there's the Rangers Toy Drive. But aside from that, I don't have any big plans. Right now I'm mostly saving for the trip to the National after having to buy a couple new cymbals for the drum set. Still got one more to buy plus some hardware, maybe some new sticks. But that's it.

Still got a few things up for grabs on eBay, and more to list soon as well.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October TTM Update

Wow, check that out, I'm actually on time this month. Crazy. From here on, I'm going to start breaking things down by sport, then date. If I remember to, at least...

October 5: Jeremy Sowers, c/o home, 1/1, 1 month
October 16: Jim Gott, c/o home, 6/6, 1 month
October 27: Tim Johnson, c/o home, 2/2, 3 months
October 31: John Wehner, c/o Pirates, 5/5, 3 months

October 19: Ted Kwalick, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
October 21: Tom Matte, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
October 28: Bill Nelsen, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks

October 2: Johnny Sauter, c/o Thor Sport Racing, 2/2, 3 weeks
October 3: Kenny Wallace, c/o home, 1/1, 3 weeks
October 10: Ryan Blaney, c/o Wood Bros. Racing, 2/2, 2 months
October 10: Derrike Cope, c/o home, 3/4, 2 months
October 19: Elliott Sadler, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month
October 23: Harry Gant, c/o home, 2/2, 2 months
October 28: Ken Schrader, c/o home, 5/5, 2 months

October 2: Ron Fearon, c/o home in UK, 4/3, 1 year (postmarked from US with US stamp, wrote note back)
October 7: Dick McCormick, c/o home, 3/3, 3 weeks
October 19: Andy Chapman, c/o Ultimate Soccer Arenas, 4/4, 2 years

I bought a crap-ton of stamps about a week ago (enough to send out about 140 requests), so I plan to get writer's cramp. I've already fired off 25 this week, and probably will crank out another 10-30 by Monday morning.

November through February is a bit of a slow spot now that I'm not doing much hockey.

So how long until pitchers and catchers report?

Friday, October 20, 2017

National plans firming up...

Nearly every team has put their 2018 schedule out, and so with that it's time for some calculations. It looks like Arron and I will be doing something like this...

Friday 7/27: 6 am, leave for Birmingham AL; go to Tennessee @ Birmingham (7 pm start?)

Saturday 7/28: 10am, leave for Lexington KY; go to Rome @ Lexington (7 pm start?)

Sunday 7/29: 9 am, leave for Charleston WV; go to Asheville @ West Virginia (2 pm start?); drive to Cleveland. If the WV game is a night game, we may hit Lansing at Dayton instead (2 pm start)

Monday 7/30: 2 pm, leave for Columbus OH; go to Indianapolis @ Columbus (7 pm start?)

Tuesday 7/31: 8:30 am, leave for Eastlake OH; go to Great Lakes @ Lake County (11 am start); 3 pm leave for Toledo OH; go to Louisville @ Toledo (7 pm start)

Wednesday 8/1: 4 pm, National begins!

Thursday 8/2: 9 am, National!; 4 pm, leave for Akron OH; go to Bowie @ Akron (7 pm start)

Friday 8/3: 9 am, National!; 4 pm, leave for Eastlake OH; go to Bowling Green @ Lake County (7 pm start)

Saturday 8/4: 9 am, National!; 3 pm take train downtown; go to Angels @ Indians (7 pm start?)

Sunday 8/5: 10 am, IF signers at National aren't needed, leave for Fort Wayne IN; go to Lansing @ Fort Wayne (3 pm start); 7 pm leave for Joliet IL. If signers are good, drive straight to Joliet about 3 pm.

Monday 8/6: 7 am, leave for Cedar Rapids IA; go to Beloit @ Cedar Rapids (12 noon start); 3 pm, leave for Des Moines IA; go to Las Vegas @ Iowa (7 pm start)

Tuesday 8/7: 10 am, leave hotel; go to Las Vegas @ Iowa (12 noon start); 4 pm, leave for Kansas City MO; Dinner with collectors Joel and Liz; drive until tired

Wednesday 8/8: 10 am, leave for Wichita Falls TX

That first game may get changed: Birmingham plays the next day in Mississippi. The good news though is that the last time they had a home game the day before playing at Mississippi, it was a 7 pm start (or was supposed to be before it got rained out). So here's to hoping they do the same this year. If not, Jackson TN is our most likely option, and I hear graphing sucks there.

As shown above, Sunday 7/29 will all hinge upon the start time of Asheville-West Virginia. 2 or 3 in the afternoon would be best. Noon or 1 is doable, as is 4, just nothing outside those ranges. West Virginia plays the next day at Columbis, so I'm thinking that travel combined with a Sunday game might bring about an early start. Fortunately the 2 pm Dayton contingency plan is a good option if it's too early or too late. I'd hate to possibly get Lansing twice while missing Asheville and West Virginia, but I'll take what I can get.

I'm assuming a 7 pm start in Lexington, Columbus, Cleveland, and Iowa since the same two teams play the next day. Seems logical.

7/31 and 8/6 have some potential for craziness with two games in one day, but hey, why not?

Sunday depends entirely on the signers at the National. If they're ones we don't need, we'll skip the day and just go to Fort Wayne. If we need them, we stick around and just drive straight to Joliet (or further)

We might skip the double-up of LV-Iowa, or just do pregame. We'll see. Might be nice to do a late lunch or early dinner in KC and see what the KC T-Bones or Wichita Wingnuts have on their schedule.

I'm sure I'll spend the next nine months completely overthinking this, writing a preview every month, excited posts every time an autograph signer is announced, creating seventeen different photo options each time one is named... I've already put a list together of each team's coaches-- some of whom likely will change before then

On the positive side, the NFL and NHL Drafts will both be right in my back yard between now and then. So I'll have plenty of things to keep my attention and preparation in between, along with TTMs.

Speaking of TTMs, I'll have my monthly update on those in about two weeks.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September results and National planning!

Had a busy September. My wife had her wisdom teeth removed so I spent a couple days helping her out, plus we're making a trip to Houston in two weeks (from which I should have some info in my October recap), and I've started assembling stuff for the roadtrip to the 2018 National with Arron-- selling stuff on eBay and some Facebook groups, planning routes and games to hit, all that.  I'll get into that after I recap. Right now, the list of stuff...

Kyle Petty, c/o office, 2/2, 2 weeks
Danny Sullivan, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Carl Erskine, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Jerry Don Gleaton, c/o home, 6/6, 2 weeks

Jim Vatcher, c/o home, 4/4, 1 month
Brad Smith, c/o home, 3/2, 2 weeks, wrote note on envelope
Denny Hocking, c/o Rainiers, 4/4, 2 weeks
Dan Plesac, c/o MLB Network, 6/6, 2 weeks

Tim Naehring, c/o home, 4/4, 1 month
Richard Childress, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

Lee Stevens, c/o G.J. Rockies, 5/5, 5 weeks

Greg Gross, c/o Aces, 4/4, 3 weeks

Ron Hansen, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week

Dave Marcis, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week

Jay Bell, c/o home, 4/4, 6 months
Regan Smith, c/o Regan Smith Racing, 2/2, 1 month

Ken Forsch, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week

Jeff Newman, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Denny Vaninger, c/o home, 1/1, 1 week

Cecil Cooper, c/o home, 4/4, 8 months
Bill Elliott, c/o home, 4/4, 1 month

John Russell, c/o Orioles, 4/4, 2 months
Joey Logano, c/o home, 1/2, 2 weeks, returned one unsigned

Brett Bodine, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks

Ray Herbert, c/o home, 2/2, 5 weeks

Jeff Reardon, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

Loy Allen, c/o home, 4/4, 6 weeks

Ron Fearon, c/o home in UK, 4/3, 1 year (with US stamp and postmark), wrote note back
Johnny Sauter, c/o Thor Sport Racing, 2/2, 3 weeks

* * * * * * * * * *

So... The National. Dates have been officially set as August 1-5 in Cleveland.

Looks like it may just be Arron and me.  Outside chance another local guy, Josh (whom I may have mentioned before), might join us, but its looking like it'll likely be a two-person venture. We may also split hotel costs with a guy I work with who might just fly in and out.

Arron and I talked about the possibility of hitting a few games on the way up and on the way back, turning this into a gigantic 'graphing bonanza.  Clearly, I'm all in favor of it.

As of right now, there are a few routes we can take, and with the minor league schedules coming out, I'm paring it down to the best.  Several teams along our potential routes haven't released their full home schedules (namely Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisville, Tulsa, Columbus) so we certainly could add options to these. I was fortunately able to identify a few missing ones from other teams' schedules. But here are a few options, all leaving the morning of Friday, July 27. Note that some of these may or may not be doable due to game times. I'll list them wherever known.

Friday drive to Jackson TN (vs. Biloxi, 6 pm) or Birmingham AL (vs. Tennessee).
Saturday, drive up to either Bowling Green KY (vs. Fort Wayne), Louisville (vs. Rochester), or Cincinnati (vs. Philadelphia).
Sunday, depending on what we do Saturday we have the option of Louisville (vs. Rochester), Cincinnati (vs. Philly), or Dayton (vs. Lansing, 2 pm), on to Cleveland

Friday drive to Birmingham AL (vs. Tennessee).
Saturday drive to Kodak TN (Tennessee vs. Chattanooga), or Lexington KY (vs. Rome).
Sunday drive to Charleston WV (West Virginia vs. Asheville), on to Cleveland

Friday drive to Oklahoma City (vs. El Paso).
Saturday drive to Springfield MO (vs. NW Arkansas), or Indianapolis (vs. Buffalo, 6 pm).
Sunday, if we do Springfield drive to Indianapolis (vs. Buffalo, 2:30 pm), on to Cleveland.

Friday drive to wherever we feel like stopping.
Saturday drive to Cedar Rapids (vs. Quad Cities, 6:30 pm).
Sunday drive to Chicago (White Sox vs. Toronto), on to Cleveland.

While in Cleveland, we likely will do...
Monday 7/30: Indianapolis at Columbus, or Louisville at Toledo
Tuesday 7/31: Great Lakes at Lake County (11 am) AND Bowie at Akron (7 pm)
Wednesday 8/1: Show starts in the evening, so take the day off
Thursday 8/2: Show in daytime, Bowling Green at Lake County (7 pm)
Friday 8/3: Show in daytime, Indianapolis at Toledo or possibly something in Columbus
Saturday 8/4: Show in daytime, Los Angeles AL at Cleveland
Sunday 8/5: Last day of show; possibly skip it to hit the road early?

Sunday drive to Fort Wayne (vs. Lansing, 3 pm) or Toledo vs. Indianapolis (6:30 pm), begin driving to Cedar Rapids
Monday drive remainder to Cedar Rapids (vs. Beloit, 12 noon), drive to Des Moines (Iowa vs. Las Vegas). Other options would include Quad Cities at Peoria, Wisconsin at Clinton, Kane County at Burlington.
Tuesday drive to Omaha (vs. Salt Lake, 12 noon), drive to Kansas City (dinner with friends). Another option would be doing Las Vegas at Iowa again if it's an early game.
Wednesday drive to Texas

Sunday drive to Charleston WV (West Virginia vs. Augusta)
Monday drive to Chattanooga (vs. Mississippi)
Tuesday drive to Rome GA (vs. Delmarva) or Pearl MS (Mississippi vs. Mobile)
Wednesday drive to Texas

Sunday drive to Toledo (vs. Indianapolis, 6:30 pm)
Monday drive to Bowling Green KY (vs. South Bend), Nashville (vs. Sacramento), Memphis (vs. Fresno) or Jackson TN (vs. Tennessee, 6 pm)
Tuesday drive to Texas

I've heard bad things about Jackson and Omaha, so we may try to avoid those. Fortunately reviews were good on Lake County, Akron, Toledo, Columbus, Chattanooga, and Iowa.

So, what say you, graphers?  What places would you recommend hitting? What would you recommend avoiding? Any teams you expect to be tough? Any you expect to be easy? Any info on schedules for Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisville, Tulsa, or Columbus? Any info on game times?

If so, leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

An update: July and August

June and July together set a personal record for me-- June was the most autographs I've ever gotten in a month, and the combination of June and July set a two-month record.

August was a little lower on quantity, but pretty nice on quality...

Chris Reif, 3/2, 1 month, wrote a short note back

JULY 1 - Tulsa Drillers at Frisco Roughriders
Walker Buehler 2/4
Leo Garcia 1/1
Bill Simas 5/5
Henry Ramos 1/3
Andrew Sopko 4/4
Ryan Garko 7/11
Josh Sborz 3/3
Connor Sadzeck 1/2
Jacob Newburn 1/1
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3/3
Clayton Cook 2/2
Michael De Leon 1/1
Jason Hart 8/8
Carlos Maldonado 4/4
Andy Ibanez 1/4

Ed Hearn, c/o home, 5/5, 8 months
Gino Schiraldi, c/o home, 5/5, 6 weeks
Ben Collins, c/o team, 2/2, 6 weeks, personalized

Eric Metcalf, c/o home, 2/2 on 11x14 photos, 4 months
Mitchell Trubisky, c/o home, 3/3, 6 weeks

Guy Furfaro, c/o home, 3/2, 6 weeks, wrote short note back

Charlie Hayes, c/o team, 2/2, 10 days

JULY 23 - San Antonio Missions at Frisco
Jimmy Jones 5/5
Franmil Reyes 1/2
Noah Perio 1/1
Jonathan Meyer 1/1
Cal Quantrill 1/4
Eric Lauer 2/2
Auston Bousfield 2/2
Javier Guerra 1/3
Cesar Vargas 2/2
Nick Torres 2/2

David Banks, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks

JULY 28 - Reno at Oklahoma City
Jake Buchanan 1/1
Willians Astudillo 1/1
Gil Heredia 8/8
Socrates Brito 1/1
Jack Reinheimer 2/2
Christian Walker 1/4
Ronnie Freeman 2/2
Aaron Laffey 3/3
Willie Calhoun 1/1
Jeremy Hazelbaker 1/1
Eric Jokisch 1/1
Louis Coleman 1/1
Charlie Culberson 1/1

JULY 29 - Tacoma at Oklahoma City
Tuffy Gosewisch 1/3, 1/2
Lance Painter 4/4
Danny Muno 3/3
Dean Kiekhefer 2/2
Gordon Beckham 1/2
DJ Peterson 1/4
Dan Vogelbach 1/4
Pat Light 2/2
Dan Altavilla 1/1
Luis Matos 2/4
Chase DeJong 3/3
Fabio Castillo 2/3
Alex Verdugo 4/4
Christian Bergman 1/1
Tyler Cloyd 2/3

Ronda Rousey, c/o gym, 1/1, 4 months

Gary Varsho, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week

Steve Rosenberg, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks

Rich McKinney, c/o home, 2/2, 5 months
Torey Lovullo, c/o Diamondbacks, 3/3, 2 weeks

Don August, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week
Bill Sampen, c/o home, 7/6, 1 weeks, added signed business card

Jimmy McGeough, c/o home, 3/2, 2 weeks, wrote short note back
Pat Listach, c/o team, 2/4, 2 weeks, kept 2 cards
Dave Berg, c/o team, 6/6, 2 weeks
Jason Keller, c/o work, 5/5, 2 weeks

AUGUST 26 - Omaha at Oklahoma City
Sam Selman, 6/6
Brayan Pena, 4/4
Wilmer Font, 3/3
Frank Schwindel, 2/2
Kyle Zimmer, 2/5
Seth Maness, 1/4 (signs while walking really fast)
Hunter Dozier, 1/2
Brian Poldberg, 1/1
Paulo Orlando, 1/1 (for Chris)

AUGUST 27 - Omaha at Oklahoma City
Charlie Culberson, 3/3
David Hale, 4/4
O'Koyea Dickson, 1/1
Trayce Thompson, 1/1
Andre Ethier, 1/1
Walker Buehler, 2/2
Joc Pederson, 1/1

Carl Banks, c/o WFAN, 2/2, 3 months
John Hamel, c/o team, 2/2, 2 weeks

Alex Grammas, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week

Doug Rader, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week

AUGUST 31 - Biggest single TTM day ever!
Dave Nelson, c/o Brewers, 4/4, 5 months
Will Clark, c/o Giants, 1/1, 6 weeks
Mickey Morandini, c/o Phillies, 6/6, 10 days
Steve Yeager, c/o Dodgers, 4/4, 10 days
Mark Martin, c/o home, 6/6, 10 days
Al Unser, c/o museum, 1/1, 10 days
Mike Wallace, c/o home, 3/3, 10 days

Thursday, August 24, 2017

On Graphing Etiquette: a list disguised as an essay

I'll have an update on Monday of everything from July and August. I'm making my second Oklahoma City run on Saturday!

I spent some time thinking about this and have said for a while I'd write on it. I actually wrote this in 2014 and never posted it until I came across it while cleaning out my inbox. So, here goes...

Sharing Info
Sharing information is a fine line. On one hand, you need to protect your locations in some cases. If a place gets oversaturated with people, the players will find a different way to go. But on the other hand, there's a good chance someone once had to tell you where to go. I know it happened with me early on. For me, I'll tell someone some basic info, but I'm not going to spoon-feed them and walk them through every step. If someone asks a specific question, I'll tell them what I know. For example, if someone asks me what hotel a team stays at, I'll tell them if I know. Or I might tell them how to find such things. But I don't just throw info out like free candy at a parade. Ask and you (probably) shall receive. But if you don't ask, don't expect to be told either.

Unfortunately a lot of the hobby involves a sort of "hurry up and wait" mentality. It can be easy to give up quickly, but some of my best autographs are because I waited patiently. In the average pre-game session for baseball, I'm in the ballpark waiting for 2 and a half hours. There is a LOT of downtime in there.

If there's a line, get in it. This is what annoyed me about Jose Bautista signing in 2014, and also was a cardinal sin a few people thought I was committing. I moved to stretch my legs a bit and I was accused of being a line jumper. 99 times out of 100 if there's a line and you wait in it, even if people get moved around a little, if you respect others and their spot, they'll respect you and your spot. Don't jump past the line, or lean over the top of it, or run through it. The signer will get to you. Wait your turn.

Helping Others
You were new once too. Help others out as long as it doesn't hurt yourself or others to do so. Got an extra pen? Let someone use it. Know who a player is that someone needs? Point him out. See someone using a Sharpie on an official ball? Let them know why they shouldn't. Obviously you don't want to be a know-it-all prick because frankly, we're all still learning. But help educate others. The hobby will be a better place for it.

Please and Thank You
For the love of rump roast, BE POLITE. Thank a player for signing. Request nicely that he sign. Obviously you don't need a "Good morrow dear sir, could I bother you for your signature upon my cardboard photograph?" but a please and thank you go a long way.

Know the Players
Admit it, you're guilty of this on occasion. I am too. Very few people know who every player is, except perhaps Boston legend Eddie O'Keefe. I swear, you could wake Eddie up at 3 am on a random Tuesday and ask him who that player is walking out from a Starbucks in rural Wyoming and he would ask why the hell you woke him up for former Vikings punter Bucky Scribner. But you aren't Eddie, nor am I. But it's good to have a reasonable idea of who you want, who you're getting, and at the very least who's on the team. To quote the late Ron "Puckhound" Saar, "If you don't know who he is, then you don't want his autograph too badly."

We're all in this together. It's not a competition: he who gets the most autographs does not win anything. So be polite. Wait your turn, don't shove your way in and hold your photo or card book right over someone else's (this portion dedicated in particular to one graphing family in the DFW area who is slowly helping to ruin the hobby one game at a time). When you get yours, get out of the way. If you have other items you want signed, go to the back of the line. If you can't get out of the way, at least be willing to help pass others' items to the front. And if you're in the back, don't push forward. It's no fun-- and quite a hazard actually-- being at the front, with the weight of 2-5 people pressing you into a brick wall.

While it's tempting to not want to give up your spot, movement is your best friend. Be in a location where you can get around easily. That way you have less chance of getting trapped in a crowd, less chance of blocking others, and less chance of missing someone signing in another spot because you couldn't get to it. I'm usually not a big mover. I'll pick a general area and stay in it whether over the dugout or down the line or by the photo pit. But if you feel like running around in 100-degree heat, more power to you. Also if a player signs and you don't need him, get out of the way so those who do want him can get him. And on the other hand, if someone moved out of the way for you, let them back into their spot.

The unwritten rule of autographing is put into writing: let the kids go first. Now I'm not saying to give up your spot in a line or crowd to let a throng of kids in, but don't shove them out of the way, and if a player says he'll sign for kids only, then let them in. Don't be all petty and block them just because the guy won't sign for a big gazorp like you. If there's a kid near you, make sure the player knows. The player usually will appreciate that you're making sure the kid gets his and might just be more likely to sign for you. Exception: kids who are obviously helping out dealers. In that case, all bets are off.

Get to Know Those Around You
George Carlin once said that if everyone in the world lined up and shook hands and introduced themselves, that could end war. Because once someone says we need to bomb a certain group, the people would answer "What?! Hell no we can't bomb the Chinese, I know them!" Like I said, we're all in this together. Get to know the people around you. Who knows, they might be more likely to let you in on a hot tip about where to get someone, or hook you up with extra stuff on players you don't have, or assist you in getting a player to sign. You might even find you have stuff in common outside of autographs, or find you know someone in common. There's actually a grapher down here who knows a guy I that know from my days in Boston.

Have Fun
Because really now, isn't that the point? If you aren't having fun, then why are you doing it?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Goodbye Alumni Legacy Weekend?

The first thing I noticed this year when the Rangers' Promotional Schedule came out?

It wasn't the ridiculous SEVEN bobblehead giveaways (do they have seven players worth commemorating?).

It wasn't the two t-shirts (give me a wearable over a knick-knack any day, thanks).

It wasn't the four concerts, three of whom I've never heard of in my life (Toadies FTW).

It was the lack of the annual Alumni Legacy Weekend.

Alumni Weekend, as you may recall, is the biggest event I go to every year. The Rangers would typically bring in between 20 and 40 players who would sign autographs before either one or two of the weekend's games. Usually the team would also induct one or two people into the team Hall Of Fame.  This year of course is the much-deserved retirement of Ivan Rodriguez's number. I would have figured that would replace the Hall of Fame induction, but that there would still be an Alumni Weekend.

And yet, nothing.

The prevailing sentiment over at TAC is that a few players will likely be around that weekend at least, but that the Rangers got tired of complaints about how poorly it was run or the terrible selection of alumni who are at the event.

If the latter was your complaint, shame on you. If we're being honest, the Rangers are not the Yankees. No World Series wins, not even an appearance until 2010. They didn't even play a meaningful October game until 1996, and won one whole playoff game--not even a playoff series, a single playoff GAME-- until that 2010 season.

Additionally, it's not like the big names tend to stay in the area. Most have gone onto bigger things with bigger teams, and lived elsewhere in retirement.  While it's true that many teams have better player selections, many of those teams also have more alumni living in their area. Cite Hall of famers Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Fergie Jenkins, Goose Gossage, Bert Blyleven, and perfect-game pitcher Kenny Rogers all you want: the fact is they aren't going out of their way for a weekend without a big reason, and as far as I know no team will spring for a flight, hotel, food, and ground transportation for them all.  Most of the past alumni who come out live locally or just happen to be in town that weekend.

And I'm okay with that. It's great to see guys I watched as a kid in Cleveland like Pete O'Brien and Jerry Browne. I enjoy getting to chat with Claude Osteen and Toby Harrah (his wife is a hoot). And I finally found a photo of Scott Sheldon pitching that I was hoping to get signed.

Sure, they can run things with it far better. It would be nice to see a list of probable, or at least potential players, further than a few hours in advance. Several teams with similar events have a list out weeks ahead of time. I would rather know a player might be there and not have him show up than to find out a player is there that I had no idea about. That way I can have cards I might not need instead of needing cards I don't have: for example Tucker Ashford in 2016, Mario Ramos in 2014, and Steve Dreyer in 2013.

But Alumni Legacy Weekend is a popular event with fans regardless. And the long lines for guys like Gerald Alexander, Rick Henninger, and Jim Gideon should be evidence of that. None of them even pitched 100 innings in the majors, and yet the fans still flock to meet them.

I hope this is just a one-year thing, that it was canceled this season to keep it Pudge-centric. But when one considers the preposterous greed shown by this organization in jacking up prices for tickets and parking every year, standing strong against having a public transit line that comes into Arlington to maximize that parking money, and most of all making empty threats of moving if the city doesn't replace their still-VERY-new stadium, it just smacks of evidence that we won't be seeing another Alumni Weekend again.

Thank you to the former Rangers that I got to meet. It was good while it lasted.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The rest of June

The last paragraph of my last entry said "June is bound to be a busy one."

Well, yeah. I ended up adding 250 autographs to the collection, my most successful month ever. Most were in-person via ballgames.

I actually had only one non-soccer TTM. The soccer ones can be viewed on the Soccer blog, linked to the right. Aside from that, just one, but it's a major one for me...

Oleg Petrov, c/o Montreal Canadiens, 4/4, a year and a half

I'm down to only 15 left on the 2002-03 Topps Total set!

Fortunately I had a nice start to the month with a couple ballgames, then hit up the Texas League All-Star Game and did pretty well there...

Jon Singleton 3/4
Joe Mikulik 1/1

B.J. Boyd 3/3

Zac Curtis 3/3
Peter Tago, 3/4
Tyler Marlette 4/4
Oscar Mercado 2/3
Dakota Hudson 1/3
Steve Luebber 1/1
Leon Roberts 4/4
Sam Selman 4/4
Vance Wilson 4/4

Viosergy Rosa 1/1
Ariel Jurado 4/4
Brian Shouse 1/1
Jason Hart 3/4
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 2/4
J.D. Davis 4/4
Kyle Lloyd 3/3
Luis Urias 1/3
Michael Kelly 2/2
Collin Wiles 3/3
Jose Trevino 3/3
Jon Singleton 1/1

Mike Kiselak 2/2
Tim Crabtree 4/4
Ryan Drese 8/8
Kevin Mench 4/4
Marty Turco 4/4
Mike Adams 3/4
Steve Kent 3/3
Mark Brandenburg 1/1
Jose Guzman 4/4

David Murphy 1/4

Willie Pile 1/1
David Murphy 1/3
Mike Adams 1/1
David Murphy 1/2

Leon Roberts 4/4
Oscar Mercado 1/1

Last, on Saturday July 1 I hit up possibly my final Frisco game of the season, vs. the Tulsa Drillers...

Walker Buehler 2/4
Leo Garcia 1/1
Bill Simas 5/5
Henry Ramos 1/3
Andrew Sopko 4/4

Ryan Garko 7/11
Josh Sborz 3/3

Connor Sadzeck 1/2
Jacob Newburn 1/1
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3/3
Clayton Cook 2/2
Michael De Leon 1/1
Jason Hart 8/8
Carlos Maldonado 4/4
Andy Ibanez 1/4

Next up: some more mailings hopefully, as well as a pair of games in Oklahoma City at the end of July (28th vs. Reno, 29th vs. Tacoma). Time to start pulling and stocking!