Monday, June 4, 2018

May Update

My 200th post here, wow!

It's been a while since I 'graphed baseball outside of MLB and the affiliated minors. But now that the American Association's Texas AirHogs have a few former major leaguers as coaches, I've hit a few games of theirs over the past few weeks...

MAY 12
Ed Hobaugh, c/o home, 1/2, 3 months (returned one unsigned)

MAY 12 - concert
Jim "Rev. Horton Heat" Heath, 1/1

MAY 15
Wayne Gretzky, c/o PRIVATE ADDRESS, 2/2, 2 weeks (NOT AUTOPENNED!)

MAY 16 - Cleburne at Texas
Rafael Palmeiro, 3/3
Greg Golson, 1/1
Garth Iorg, 6/6
Kevin Joseph, 1/1
Larry Hardy, 3/3

MAY 18
Derrius Guice, c/o Redskins, 2/2, 2 weeks

MAY 19
Christian Kirk, c/o Cardinals, 2/2, 2 weeks

MAY 19 - Fargo-Moorhead at Texas
Garth Iorg, 1/1
Kevin Joseph, 1/1
Chris Coste, 6/6
Tommy Mendonca, 1/1
Trey McNutt, 4/4
Keury De La Cruz, 2/2
Greg Golson, 2/2

MAY 26
Buddy Bell, c/o Reds, 1/1, 2 weeks

MAY 26 - Royals at Rangers
Mitch Williams, 2/2, 2/2

MAY 28 - St. Paul at Texas
Dante Bichette Jr., 2/2
Garth Iorg, 1/1
Jake Esch, 1/1
Tom Wilhelmsen, 3/5

JUNE 1
DeAndre Goolsby, c/o Lions, 3/2, 1 month, wrote a short note thanking me for my support

JUNE 1 - Sioux City at Texas
Luis Durango, 4/4
Patrick Schuster, 4/4
James Dykstra, 11/11
Jay Austin, 2/2

NHL Draft prep is well underway right now, got 1500+ cards pulled.  The National has added a few more names to the VIP list as well, namely Tom Browning, Isaac Curtis, Tom Cousineau, and Billy Sims.  I'm about a month away from my SportLots ordering time for the trip, and am considering buying a few team sets online from various places.

Friday, May 11, 2018

April (and early May) recap

It's baseball season, I'm in the space between two major pro sports drafts that are in DFW, and the National is also inching ever closer.

So, I've gotten a little behind.

On the positive side, I got to do some mailing recently since I'm close to having the National trip paid for. So hopefully some more successes will come rolling in.

Without further ado, April: a month of low quantity but high quality, including four set hits!

APRIL 5
Skeeter Barnes, c/o home, 5/5, 6 weeks
Phil Garner, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week

APRIL 7 - Tulsa at Frisco
Yanio Perez 2/2
Jason Hart 2/2
Peter O'Brien 1/3, 1/1
Michael Ahmed, 1/1
Kyle Garlick 1/1
Terrmel Sledge 9/9
Leo Garcia 4/4
Josh Sborz 3/3
Drew Jackson 1/2
Keibert Ruiz 1/1
Will Smith, 1/1
Ariel Jurado 5/6
Joe Mikulik 3/3
Pedro Payano 1/1
Michaek De Leon 2/2
Scott Heinemann 1/1
Josh Morgan 4/4
Clayton Cook 4/4
Ryne Slack 1/1

APRIL 10
Carlos Baerga, c/o home, 4/4, 7 months
Fred Lynn, c/o home, 1/3, 1 week, personalized

APRIL 11
Brian Downing, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week, personalized

APRIL 14
Larry Biittner, c/o home, 3/3, 3 weeks
Juan Gonzalez, c/o home, 6/6, 3 weeks

APRIL 17
Ernie Irvan, c/o home, 4/4, 7 months

APRIL 26 - NFL Draft IP
Rich Eisen 1/1

APRIL 30
Glen Cochrane, c/o Anaheim Ducks, 2/2, 1 month

MAY 3 - San Antonio at Frisco
Michael Gettys 1/4
Austin Allen 1/4
Jimmy Jones 9/9
Cal Quantrill 1/1
Rowan Wick 2/2
Dillon Overton 2/2
Erik Johnson 1/7
Matt Strahm 3/3
Trevor Hoffman 2/2
Logan Allen 3/3
Eric Yardley 1/1
Luis Marte 2/2
Luis Mendez 2/2
Michael De Leon 1/1
Ariel Jurado 3/3
Michael O’Neill 2/2
Jose Trevino 3/3
Collin Wiles 4/4
Correlle Prime 4/4

MAY 5 - Midland at Frisco
Tyler Marincov 1/1
Mikey White 7/7
J.B. Wendelken 2/2
Richie Martin 2/6
Tommy Everidge 3/3
Keith Comstock 7/7
Preston Beck 3/3
Richelson Pena 1/1
Brett Martin 2/2
Cody Palmquist 2/2
And one almost throwdown with everyone's favorite scammer/forger/all-around scumbag Andrew Miller (When he missed Rougned Odor I said "That's okay, you can just forge him later when you get home" and that set him and Amanda both off; I fully expect him to try to run me down with his car someday, sooner rather than later. Apparently he got called out in the Autographs 101 Facebook group too.)

MAY 7
Mark Price, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week

Had a few names added to the National since my last post on it-- Rico Petrocelli, Mike Hargrove, Luis Tiant, Calvin Murphy, Eric Metcalf, and Ross Browner will all be there. Should be about six more yet to be named.  I have most of my intel assembled on the ballparks we'll be seeing

Getting stuff ready for the NHL Draft as well-- a giant binder of cards, custom index cards, some pucks I have on hand, maybe some photos.  Looks like I'll get to meet up with part of my former Boston 'graphing crew as Russ and Larry will both be there.

I also mailed out to some NFL Draft Picks and UDFAs to their camps. The draft itself went badly on both the 'graphing front and the Browns front (seriously contemplating becoming a Packers fan) so hopefully this nets me a few.  I need to mail off a few others soon-- Buddy Bell has been signing, which is a nice surprise.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Outsourcing some writing

As some of you may know, I also write for Sports Card Forum quite often.

I also have a link here (to the right, a ways down the page) to my past articles there on their old blog-style articles page.

This week I also added to that, penning a piece on a random card for Corey Mansfield's Broken Bat Blog.

Check it out here!

Read more of Broken Bat Blog here as well.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sometimes I make stuff

For the 2014 National, I made business cards to promote my blog. They turned out alright, but a little tough to read since I had so much info to put in.

So for 2018, I figured I could make a few-- one for each sport that I collect. Even better, I found a place that will print in standard trading card size (2.5x3.5 instead of the 2x3.5 of a business card), so I came up with these...

Clockwise from Top Left: Baseball in the 1972 Topps design; football in the 1990 Pro Set design;
Hockey in the 2002-03 Topps Total design; and Indoor soccer in the 1989-90 Pacific design.
Didn't do one for racing. Yet...

I'm thinking 50 of each is a good start, and then I'll also do 100 or so in a regular business card size for promoting the Facebook groups I run as well as the baseball stuff I collect. I don't have the back done yet, but here's the front of that one...

The T-205 set is is the bee's knees. It'll put the pepper in your porridge and...
something-something-turn-of-the-century lingo...

So, that'll be fun.

Got stuff ready for Frisco, Tulsa, and Springfield this weekend. My guesses were decent for most rosters-- had stuff on a few guys who are going to be in OKC or Rancho, but only missed one who made it in Tulsa (Justin DeFratus, who I got last year anyway) and one in Frisco (James Dykstra, whom I scrambled to order more of). I was about 50/50 on the Cardinals, but I was able to put in a last-minute order on the five I missed. Hopefully they come through by Saturday.

A busy 2018 season is officially underway! Here we go...

Monday, April 2, 2018

March IP/TTM Report, plus National Update

Short month. Not a whole lot mailed out because of saving for the National.  On the positive side, I may be able to send out more in a few months AND have my whole trip paid for quickly. We'll see.

Also, IP season starts this weekend with games in Frisco involving Tulsa and Springfield.


MARCH 1
Burt Hooton, c/o Fort Wayne Tincaps, 1/1, 6 months - HUGE sigh of relief as this was on his 1972 Topps RC already signed by the other two on it
Roy Jefferson, c/o home, 2/1, 1 month, added his own signed custom
Larry Walker, c/o home, 1/2, 2 weeks - personalized, kept a card, AND USPS mangled my return so it's creased everywhere
Mike Sweeney, c/o KC Royals ST, 1/2, 1 week - kept a card
Jim Poole, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

MARCH 2
Mark Lewis, c/o home, 4/4, 3 months (Lewis was the first autograph I ever got IP; my hobby has come full-circle)

MARCH 3
Gregg Olson, c/o business, 2/2, 2 weeks

MARCH 8
Chad Kreuter, c/o team, 4/4, 6 months
Alan Bannister, c/o home, 4/4, 1 month
Kevin Bearse, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

MARCH 9
Sterling Sharpe, c/o NFL Network, 5/5, 4 months

MARCH 12
Jeff Jaeger, c/o home, 5/5, 4 months
Jack Baldschun, c/o home, 5/4, 1 month, added signed photo

MARCH 13
Tom Kramer, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks
Alex Gonzalez, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks

MARCH 16
Fair Hooker, c/o home, 3/3, 4 months

MARCH 24 - IP at a youth baseball tournament
Kyle Abbott, 12/12 - great guy, chatted with us a bunch about his career and coaching and was willing to sign everything we had

Got our tickets bought, and the first few names of VIP signers at the National are public as well-- Len Barker, Marty Cordova, Tommy Helms, Livan Hernandez, Gregg Jefferies, Randy Jones, Jose Rijo, Benito Santiago, Steve DeBerg, and Charles White.  We should be getting another 8-10 added to that list over the next few months. I'd bet a LOT that Joe Charbonneau and Sonny Siebert will be on the list again.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The National, 2018: A Preview

(Written for SportsCardForum.com)

Five months out isn’t too early for a preview of the National Sports Collectors Convention, is it?

Let’s hit it Q&A style...

WHO? You, me, and every other sports collector
WHAT? The 39th National Sports Collectors Convention
WHERE? International Exposition Center (IX Center), Cleveland, Ohio, USA
WHEN? August 1-5, 2018, 10 am to 6 pm most days
HOW (MUCH)? TBA; likely $20 per day, or week-long VIP Packages from $99 to $299
WHY? Read on…

Q: Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up a sec. Why should we trust you when it comes to advice about the National when you hardly ever post here outside the Articles section? I’m gonna need to see some credentials...
A: Because despite my lack of involvement here, I’m quite familiar with the show, especially in Cleveland. I went to the entire week of the National in 2014, 2004, and 2001, as well as a single day in 1997. Aside from a kind of weak showing in 2004 (which may have been more because I had almost no spending money for it, rather than it actually being a weak showing), it has never failed to impress me on the sheer magnitude of the event: you won’t find more collectors in one place at one time ever. If I remember correctly, the 2014 show was the third most-attended National ever with somewhere around 45,000 collectors visiting the IX Center: well short of the record 100,000 at the 1991 Anaheim show, but much better than the 25,000 at the 1999 Atlanta show.

Just one corner of the show floor in 2014.
Photo Credit: Texas Graphing Chronicles

Q: Alright, fair enough, you got some chops. So, tell me then, as a first-timer, what should I expect at the show?
A: If you haven’t ever been to a National, nothing I say can really do it justice until you see it for yourself. One of SCF’s members-- Stuart, AKA BSEBALLCOMMISH75 who attends nearly every year-- says his favorite thing to do is to walk in about ten feet ahead of a first-timer, then turn back and see their expression upon entering. Take the biggest show you’ve been to and double it. Now double it again. Maybe one or two more times. It’s massive. The size of the hall hits you first, followed by the fact that not only is it huge, but it’s covered end to end in nothing but sports collectibles of all kinds. Cards, autographs, art, jerseys, hats, books, magazines, videos, unopened packs, unopened boxes, unopened cases, ticket stubs, stadium seats, game-used items, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, auto racing, boxing, wrestling, non-sports, with release dates ranging from the 1800s to this past week, you’ll find it all there somewhere. Entering for the first time even still shocks me now despite having attended four of them already. The National has typically 22 aisles at the I-X Center. The Cleveland 2018 floor plan as has space for 515 booths at 10’x15’ each.

And that doesn’t include designated “pavilion” areas. The corporate pavilion contains gigantic areas for Panini, Topps, Upper Deck, Leaf, SGC, Blowout Cards, Heritage Auctions, Dave & Adam’s, Beckett, and more (14 spaces that are at least 40’x50’, 17 that are at least 20’x25’). The autograph pavilion is run by Tristar and has all the show’s autograph guests (though occasionally Panini, Topps, and Upper Deck may bring in their own). The case breakers pavilion has some of the country’s top case breakers doing live breaks. There’s even a VIP lounge with tables and chairs if you need a place to kick back and relax for a bit. Of course, there are also some tables and chairs and benches near the food court too, in case you don’t want to stray too far; but if you want to avoid the hoi polloi and bought a VIP pass, head for the lounge.

It’s what I imagine attending a World’s Fair would have been like back when they actually meant something.

Q: I’m sure every organizer post-Expo 67 needs some aloe vera after that burn!
A: Wow, in your face, HemisFair 68! Also, that wasn’t a question.

A shot of the corporate pavilion area in 2014.
Photo Credit: Texas Graphing Chronicles

Q: I’m surprised no one has ever made a documentary or something of the sort on this. Or have they?
A: While it’s not a true documentary, nearly every year Bill Simmons goes to the show, often taking video, photos, doing a big write-up… basically Bill Simmons does Bill Simmons things because he’s Bill Simmons.

2014: http://grantland.com/features/2014-national-sports-collectors-convention/
2011: http://grantland.com/features/memorabilia-madness/
2009: http://www.espn.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/gallery/1

Q: Are you required to mention him a number of times in an article?
A: My contract says five. So, Bill Simmons.

Oh yeah, as mentioned in the articles above and revisiting my earlier World’s Fair motif, there’s a giant indoor Ferris wheel. It was finished in 1992, 125 feet high, and used to be the world’s largest indoor Ferris wheel (as of 2012, the indoor record belongs to the Alem wheel in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan). It was so big they had to cut a hole in the roof (the ceiling is 77 feet) and enclose it with glass, so at the very top on a clear day, you can see all the way to Downtown Cleveland, which is ten miles away. It costs a couple bucks to ride. Totally worth it.

Giant Ferris Wheel. Not even kidding. It's there. The first two photos were shot from the platform.
Photo Credit: Flickr user lareina1045

Q: How did this building end up in as random a spot as Brook Park, Ohio? Or is it Cleveland now?
A: Cleveland did a land swap deal and now owns the land it’s on. The IX Center itself was originally a B-29 plant in World War Two, then made tanks during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. It also has served as a high school temporarily. Allegedly it has at least three basement levels including a giant pool for testing the watertightness of various tank designs and allegedly tunnels to the airport, the NASA Lewis Research Center, and maybe elsewhere. It’s unconfirmed as to whether these tunnels currently exist, or ever existed. Fun idea at least.

Q: Huh, underground alien base?
A: Who knows?

Seriously. It's huge.
Photo Credit: Ohio Gun Collectors' Association

Q: What other events will be going on besides the show?
A: The great thing about the National is that there’s not just a big memorabilia show. Some collectors may set up trading events in the conference rooms of local hotels. Browns’ Training Camp will be underway. The Indians play at home against the Angels. The Lake County Captains, Akron Rubber Ducks, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, and Lake Erie Crushers will all be playing at home. If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, the Toledo Mud Hens, Columbus Clippers, and Pittsburgh Pirates all will play at home and are within two hours of Cleveland. Got money to burn? Panini and Upper Deck offer VIP parties for their biggest spenders. Plus there’s all the greatness of the city itself.

Q: Wait, seriously? You mean this city-- whose main river caught fire five times, had a mayor’s wife refuse an invitation to the White House because it conflicted with her bowling night, had that mayor's hair catch fire in a way unrelated to the river, and finally went bankrupt under another mayor who later went onto claim he was once abducted by a UFO-- is a great one? HA!
A: Look, it was a bowling LEAGUE night for her, and a soon-to-be-scandal-ridden Nixon White House. And yes, it's great. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is downtown. One of the world’s greatest orchestras will be in the middle of their outdoor concert season. There’s a Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid, thus ending our musical awesomeness streak at two. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a short drive away. The excellent Metroparks system (and that’s both the Cleveland Metroparks and the Lake Metroparks), including the zoo with its indoor rainforest. Cedar Point is an hour or so away for the roller coaster enthusiasts. For shopping, there are tons of malls in the area. You can see a great baseball museum that is housed in the remnants of League Park. And the food… Melt has everything imaginable on a grilled cheese sandwich. Iron Chef Michael Symon has his restaurants Lola, Mabel’s BBQ, B-Spot Burgers, and maybe Sherla’s Chicken and Oysters will even be open by then too. Hot Sauce Williams is the go-to spot for barbecue and especially a Polish Boy. Hit up Sokolowski’s for an Eastern European feast. Slyman’s Deli for incredible corned beef. Have your desserts at Malley’s Chocolates and East Coast Frozen Custard.

Q: Wow. You had me at grilled cheese.
A: Works every time...

And if you aren’t totally sportsed out, there are several card shops in the area. Cards and Games in Painesville in the former Puritan Bakery (it still smells like stale flour when you walk in), Sports N’ More in Mentor-on-the-Lake, C-Town Sports at the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, Over The Fence in Eastlake, Brooklyn Sportscards in Brooklyn (obviously), B&B Sports Cards out in Fairview Park, and All-Star Collectibles and Action Sports Cards in Parma.

Q: PAR-ma?!
A: Haha. Ghoulardi. Good one. Stay sick, turn blue!

Q: So how does one go about getting to this?
A: Cleveland Hopkins Airport (CLE) is right next to the IX Center. You’ll see the Center while taxiing in. Canton-Akron Regional (CAK) is less than an hour away. Other options within two hours include Detroit (DTW), Toledo (TOL), Columbus (CMH), and Pittsburgh (PIT).

Amtrak runs into downtown. It's the best way to travel anywhere if you don’t have to be at your destination on time, so plan accordingly. Greyhound runs into downtown as well. I love Greyhound personally, but only for trips of under 10 hours. You'll also need to get to a car rental spot from any of these too, so be prepared.

This year, I’m driving it which will be different, but provides a ton of autographing opportunities. In 1997 and 2001, I lived near Cleveland, while in 2004 and 2014 I flew in from Boston and Texas, respectively. My friend Arron is coming along (some of you may know him as elmesero5 on a few boards), and he and I are going to hit a ton of ballgames on the way up, while we’re there, and on the way back; if you’re reading this and graph any of these ballparks, please let me know! We’d love any intel we can get, and would love to hang out with other collectors when we’re there.

  • FRIDAY, 7/27: AA Tennessee (Cubs) at Birmingham (White Sox)
  • SATURDAY, 7/28: A Rome (Braves) at Lexington (Royals)
  • SUNDAY, 7/29: A Asheville (Rockies) at West Virginia (Pirates)
  • MONDAY, 7/30: AAA Indianapolis (Pirates) at Columbus (Indians)
  • TUESDAY, 7/31: A Great Lakes (Dodgers) at Lake County (Indians), and AAA Louisville (Reds) at Toledo (Tigers)
  • WEDNESDAY, 8/1: Off day
  • THURSDAY, 8/2: AA Bowie (Baltimore) at Akron (Indians)
  • FRIDAY, 8/3: A Bowling Green (Rays) at Lake County (Indians)
  • SATURDAY, 8/4: MLB Angels at Indians
  • SUNDAY, 8/5: A Lansing (Blue Jays) at Fort Wayne (San Diego)
  • MONDAY, 8/6: A Beloit (A’s) at Cedar Rapids (Twins), AAA Las Vegas (Mets) at Iowa (Cubs)
  • TUESDAY, 8/7: AAA Las Vegas (Mets) at Iowa (Cubs)
  • WEDNESDAY, 8/8: Arrive back in Texas

All games are subject to change, void where prohibited, contents packed by weight not volume, ceci n’est pas une pipe.

If you're around, you can come do this with us (Arron in red, Drew in light blue)
Photo Credit: Texas Graphing Chronicles

Q: Are there hotel deals?
A: The National has sponsor hotels, though those will go quickly and tend to be a bit higher-end. I opted to get on Hotwire and find a good rate that way. So Arron and I are staying in Macedonia (as in the town in Summit County, NOT the country with Skopje as its capital). $460 for the week, which isn’t bad at all. If you fly in, rent a car for sure. Your hotel may offer transportation to the IX Center, but don’t count on it.

Q: I hear there’s a VIP Bag. What’s in the VIP bag?
A: Lots of freebies from card companies and other sponsors. You’ll get small promo sets from Topps, Upper Deck, Panini, and Leaf, plus maybe some coupons, magazines, and of course your program and autograph tickets. Get the VIP pass and you’ll get all of that. Get the SuperVIP pass, and you’ll get TWO of everything.

Q: What’s the best day to buy?
A: Buy anything you have to have as soon as you see it. But wait until Saturday or Sunday to do some bargain hunting. Personally, I plan to quickly visit tables Wednesday and early Thursday and mark down some to check more extensively later. I’ll spend time searching the ones I wrote down on Thursday and Friday, and probably do most of my buying late Friday and Saturday.

Q: If you want autographs, is the All-Access upgrade worth it?
A: From what I can tell, YES. I stood hours in autograph lines in 2014. I saw people with it who could have looped the line 10 times if they wanted to (fortunately even if you have 50 items to get signed, as long as you have 50 tickets you can do them all at once and not have to take one item and one ticket at one trip). It’s worth an extra $100 to have significantly less of a wait.

Q: What percentage of collectibles are modern and what percentage are vintage?
A: I feel like there’s more vintage, but not immensely so. I’d guess about 60/40. It’s all about demand and vintage will ALWAYS be in demand. If you’re only needing modern stuff, you’ll find plenty of tables with it. Singles, boxes, cases, high-end, low-end, old, new, graded, raw, someone will have something you need. In most cases, several will have it.

Q: What should I bring with me?
A: That all depends on what you’re looking to do…

  • Are you mostly getting autographs? Have something to get signed and you’re all set. TriStar supplies all the pens that you might need-- I saw blue and black Sharpies, silver and gold paint pens, blue and black ballpoints, and even blue Staedtler. If you’re super-specific about what you want it signed with, then bring that, but for the most part it’s covered just fine.
  • Are you looking to fill needs for a set or a player collection? Simply bring a want list, a box to put your cards in after you pay for them, and a bag for easy carrying. Maybe some sleeves and toploaders. A foldable stool might be a good idea as well. I’ll also have a 1600-count box in the car to put everything in at the end of the day.
  • Are you looking to sell? Don’t bring too much: dealers usually don’t do much buying the first few days, and even when they do it’s likely to be higher-end stuff. So don’t come in with a couple gigantic boxes of commons.
  • No matter what, comfortable shoes, a bag (messenger or backpack), some small snacks, and money. You can have a good experience on any amount, but the more the better. Think of what you’d want to get, look for approximate prices to expect. Then double it because you’ll find things you want that you didn’t even think of. But know your limits and only bring what you are comfortable with leaving at a table. Snacks like a sandwich, some almonds or carrot sticks, and a bottle of water are good to have in your bag since food can be a bit expensive inside, and there are no restaurants near the grounds. Hand sanitizer and breath mints are a good idea too.

OTHER ADVICE FROM EXPERIENCED NATIONAL VISITORS

  • Have the floor plan handy. There will be a map of it in the program, also on the National website so you can print a copy or two ahead of time. Mark on it what booths you want to visit again.
  • Visit the manufacturer booths, even just to see what they are all about for the next year's offerings. You never know what freebies they may have stashed behind the table. Some even have their own autograph guests during the week.
  • If you are going for the autograph guests, be sure to keep an eye on the time. Lines can get long and if you wait too long to jump in, you may miss who you are interested in.
  • Plan on at least two days if you can: it’s hard to see everything in one day. If you’re limited to a single day, I would recommend Saturday: get there as soon as the doors open, leave at the last possible moment.
  • Talk to anyone and everyone-- even on your hotel shuttle! You never know who might be able to help you with your collection. Be friendly to the dealers, the staff, and to everyone really. It can go a long way. Keep an eye on SCF and other sites in the time leading up to the show. Don’s annual National thread is a good way to find people who are going and connect with them beforehand. They may be able to help you if they come across something you need-- or if you come across something they need. Networking is important at a huge event like this.
Tristar announced the first few autograph guests yesterday. For the VIP signers (free with VIP pass), it's Gregg Jefferies, Marty Cordova, Benito Santiago, and Charles White. Nice start: I probably will do a Mets photo for Jefferies, an Indians photo for Cordova if I can get one, a 1988 Diamond King of Santiago (maybe a photo too), and I have my Heisman Index Card for White (though I probably will get a Browns photo for him as well). I know Cordova, Santiago, and Jefferies are in some of the Fleer Metal sets that Arron is doing, so we may need to scrounge up some extra tickets. I checked in with Arron and he is unbelievably pumped about Santiago.

So, I hope that helps you out. And of course, I look forward to seeing all the members of SCF, SCN, The Bench, and various Facebook groups who come in for the show.

We'll see you there!
Photo Credit: William Reiter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto is clearly bat-guano insane, as displayed via interviewing himself for this column, his love for Cleveland, and for his probably-unsustainable schedule of ‘graphing on the trip. He lives in Texas with his wife, two cats, and several thousand autographs.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

January and February update

Hold onto your hats, a double dose of IP and TTM!

Also, be ready: a preview of the National is coming soon (maybe tomorrow?).

JANUARY 2
Jeff Mutis, c/o home, 2/2, 1 month

JANUARY 5
Dan Fike, c/o home, 3/3, 2 months
Ward Burton, c/o home, 4/4, 2 months

JANUARY 6
Matt DiBenedetto, c/o team, 3/3, 2 months

JANUARY 9
Rob Gardner, c/o home, 2/2, 1 year

JANUARY 11
Jeff Feagles, c/o home, 2/2, 2 months

JANUARY 16
Lee Johnson, c/o home, 3/3, 2 months
Aric Almirola, c/o home, 3/3, 3 months

JANUARY 18 - Rangers Winter Caravan
Doug Fister 3/3
Matt Moore 2/4

JANUARY 20
Wally Dallenbach, c/o home, 3/3, 3 months

JANUARY 21 - Rangers Winter Caravan
Jake Diekman 2/2
Mike Minor, 4/4, 4/4

JANUARY 29
Casey Candaele, c/o home, 4/4, 5 months

FEBRUARY 1
Martin Truex Jr., c/o team, 1/1, 3 months
Morgan Shepherd, c/o home, 4/5, 6 months, returned one unsigned

FEBRUARY 3
Eddie Zosky, c/o home, 4/4, 6 months

FEBRUARY 3 - Dallas Baptist University Alumni Game
Ben Zobrist, 1/1

FEBRUARY 6
Mike Timlin, c/o home, 3/4, 2 months, kept one card
Warren Moon, c/o business, 1/2, 3 months, returned one unsigned

FEBRUARY 9
Hal Kolstad, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week

FEBRUARY 10
Mike Garman, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Jim Hart, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week, personalized all
Johnny Edwards, c/o home, 7/4, 1 week, added three photos signed and personalized

FEBRUARY 12
Paul Hornung, c/o museum, 2/2, 6 months
Kyle Larson, c/o team, 4/4, 3 months
Norm Bass, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks, personalized
Don Taussig, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks
Hal Smith, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Ray Washburn, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

FEBRUARY 13
Leo Posada, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Dave Giusti, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
George Thomas, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Ike Delock, c/o home, 2/2, 1 week
Billy Moran, c/o home, 3/3, 1 week
Albie Pearson, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week
Dave Hillman, c/o home, 4/4, 1 week

FEBRUARY 15
Brett Butler, c/o home, 5/5, 5 months
Hector Lopez, c/o home, 5/5, 1 week

FEBRUARY 16
Ted Savage, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

FEBRUARY 17
Tito Francona, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks - arrived 4 days after his death, postmarked the day before
Jim Bakker, c/o home, 2/2, 2 weeks

FEBRUARY 18 - Texas Wesleyan University vs. Bacone College
Mike Jeffcoat - 3/8
Kelly Shoppach - 3/7

FEBRUARY 20
Cal Quantrill, c/o team, 1/1, 6 months, personalized

FEBRUARY 21
Frank Baumann, c/o home, 3/3, 2 weeks
Lee Thomas, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

FEBRUARY 24
Bob Oldis, c/o home, 3/4, 3 weeks, kept one card
Dan Majerle, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks

FEBRUARY 26
Bud Daley, c/o home, 4/4, 3 weeks

FEBRUARY 27
Felipe Alou, c/o Giants ST, 3/4, 2 weeks, didn’t sign custom index card
Doug Decinces, c/o home, 3/3, 3 weeks

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hobby Greed: an extemporaneous essay

This may be a tad disjointed: it's mostly going to be a stream-of-consciousness dumping of my thoughts in between choosing photos while I'm at work. It's also somewhat related to my In-Person Graphing Etiquette Essay from August.

I'm a member of several Facebook autograph and card collecting groups. I'm even an admin of two of them. I only started one of them on my own, the other was a long-running one that I was made an admin of when the founder wanted to step back almost two years ago. And he likes the way I run things.

In another group besides the ones I run, a member posted bragging about mailing 9 cards to Ron Gant, and getting them all back signed. In another post, he shows off his personal record, mailing 10 cards to Doug Jones, and getting them all back plus Jones' typical religious tract card.

I have one question...

WHY?

In the group I run (Baseball TTM Autographs), we had the members vote on how many to show per success-posting. We agreed that members should limit it to four items per request-- and if you send more than four, posts showing more than four were subject to deletion. This way it doesn't encourage others to mail off ridiculous numbers with a misguided reasoning of "The player can decide to sign what they want" or "Well I told him to keep some."  When it comes to the former, sure, they can, but by not controlling the number yourself you're leaving in on them to be a disappointment. For the latter, trust me, they already have them if they want them. I worked with a former NHL player who probably has a good 50 of every card ever made of him.

I just don't see why anyone would need to send ten cards at a time. When I asked why the hell he would do that, the response was little more than "Because I can, now mind your own business," even going so far as to espouse a complete misunderstanding of libertarian philosophy, claiming I have no right to question his mailing.

Oh yeah, according to one of the people defending this guy, people have left the groups I run because they don't like my attitude about these things.

*single tear rolls down face*

I certainly do have a right, and as a hobbyist, dare I even say a responsibility to question it.

In the past few years, we've seen Rick Reuschel go from signing everything to signing nothing-- mostly because there are people out there who would send him 8 cards, then another 8 mere weeks later. Reuschel was a solid pitcher: three-time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, two Top-3 Cy Young finishes, 200 wins, 2000 strikeouts, even a .168 average with 4 homers which isn't too bad for a pitcher-- not a Hall of Famer but solid with longevity at least. Does anyone really need six, eight, ten of him at a time?

Wade Boggs has seen the same behavior-- He was gladly signing for $5 per card, and then people started pushing it to sometimes as crazy as 6 cards for $5-- total, not each. This is a Hall of Famer and pop culture icon we're talking about. He stopped signing for a while, then returned at $10, then $5, and once again people started pushing his generosity and he's stopped once again.

Even Brooks Robinson-- possibly the greatest third baseman of all time and a more than reasonable signer for $5-10-- has enclosed notes at times saying "No more, please" when people can't follow the rules.

We're seeing teams crack down on fan mail, some refusing it entirely (Braves at Spring Training, several NHL teams, the Seattle Sounders and Seahawks, and probably more that I'm forgetting). In-person, the Las Vegas Golden Knights have made autographs a kids-only endeavor. Sure, there's a profit motive behind it as more teams partner with organizations like Fanatics, and more players work with Steiner and their ilk. But a significant amount comes from players and teams just getting tired of dealing with it.

Have some self-control folks! This is a hobby. It's not a competition. No one is going to declare you the winner because you have more. If anything your greed is going to influence players to stop signing entirely. Newer collectors and even current collectors won't be able to get the players they want for their projects because of you.

If you have several projects you're working on, I can understand it to a degree, but space it out a bit. If you pay a player's requested per-item fee, then that's fine too as it becomes an agreed-upon business transaction at that point. If you've spoken to the player, asked his permission, and they grant it, cool.

But when you're basically cold-calling and asking for a player to do you a favor with no compensation, please, show some discretion!

I've gone over my four-item limit before, I think we all have at times. But I don't do it often: my average number mailed per request is three (3.19 items per request across 1578 requests, to be exact). When I do, it's only to players who have shown a consistent history of signing 4, or 5, or 6. And the only time I have EVER exceeded six is to a few indoor soccer players-- many of whom have written back thanking me for bringing back great memories and just being ecstatic that someone remembers their career.

In-person, I'll occasionally go further. With TTM'ing, the only investment is five minutes of letter-writing and a dollar in postage to the USPS. In-person, my justification for typically carrying more items is that I am taking more time out of my day, traveling to a venue, and in most cases contributing financially via purchasing a ticket to the game, plus food, licensed memorabilia, and by showing my support by cheering for the player and watching him perform his craft live. The player receives a direct benefit, as do I. Via mail, they receive far less of a benefit.

I've been a card collector since I was six years old. I can recall specific cards I got in the first pack I bought-- a rack pack of 1991 Donruss Series 1 baseball. Dave Stieb and Bob Welch Diamond Kings. Cory Snyder. Mark McGwire Highlights and All-Star. Alvaro Espinoza. John Marzano. Sandy Alomar Jr. All-Star. The Alomar card even went on to be my first ever TTM autograph, about a year later-- which I still have.

I got into autograph collecting on a serious basis because just collecting cards was getting to be a bore. There was no challenge. You can collect any set just by throwing enough money at it. That's a lot harder to do with autograph collecting.

I have over 125,000 cards in my collection. I'd love to get as many signed as I can. But even I know I have to draw a line. I don't need 50 from Juan Gonzalez. I don't need 100 from Matt Williams. I have something like 60 from Sergei Gonchar-- but they were all in-person, all acquired over a number of years, and if a fan of his really wanted one I would gladly give it to them free of charge.

It's a hobby. We're all in it together, so be good to each other-- that goes for other collectors, the athletes, everyone involved.

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

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

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

DECEMBER 6
Scott Livingstone, c/o home, 2/5, 1 week, kept 3 and signed the two in a terrible marker

DECEMBER 8
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

DECEMBER 9
Eric Bell, c/o home, 4/5, 1 week, kept one
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., c/o home, 1/1, 3 months

DECEMBER 11
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

DECEMBER 14
Benny Distefano, c/o home, 4/4, 2 weeks
Andy Moog, c/o home, 2/2, 5 weeks

DECEMBER 15
Jan Stenerud, c/o home, 3/3, 2 months

DECEMBER 16
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

DECEMBER 22
Dale Jarrett, c/o home, 3/4, 4 months, returned one unsigned
Ryan Newman, c/o home, 3/3, 4 months

DECEMBER 27
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.