The Quest

The Baltimore Orioles have been in town since '54 and have had over 900 men don their uniform. My goal is to obtain a signed card of each player. If you have something I need, or see something you want, don't be shy, we can make a deal.

Collection Statistics

Total Players 877/977 = 89.25%
1991 Orioles Crown Set
Total Players 309/465 = 66.45%
Alive Players 274/369 = 74.25

Monday, January 31, 2011

Full Pack Friday

Friday's mail brought me a "Full Pack" autograph. Don "Full Pack" Stanhouse was trickier than most to track down. There had not been a lot of successes for him on SCN, so I did some digging. I found out the company he owns and sent a letter right out. His response came back in 18 days with some encouraging words.

It's nice when you know the player reads your letter. This will probably be one of my last typed letters. I never really liked typed letters but I had a huge dent to make in the collection and couldn't argue with the time saved. I have made great progress so I will be able to spend a little more time and effort on the personal touches.

Don Stanhouse 1991 Orioles Crown #432

Stanhouse was definitely one of the most colorful characters of his era. He was dubbed "Stan The Man Unusual" because of his unusual look (see above) and his penchant for screaming at the ballpark. His on-field antics also drew a lot of attention, much of which came from Earl Weaver. As the Orioles closer, Stanhouse was no stranger to the close call, often choosing who he wanted to face. His tight rope act caused Weaver to dub him "Full Pack", referring to the number of cigarettes he needed to smoke while watching him pitch.

His tactics were effective, registering the third most saves in the American Leaue during the 1978-79 seasons. He was also made his only All-Star appearance in 1979. Unfortunately the post season was not as kind, registering a 1-2 record with a 9.00 ERA. He inked a big deal with the Dodgers following the '79 campaign but never found as much success as he had here. He came back to Baltimore in 1982 to re-capture some glory but only enjoyed marginal success. He retired following the season and the once eccentric reliever turned himself into quite the businessman.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 FanFest Recap

Yesterday was the official start of the 2011 Baltimore Orioles campaign, and I was there. Albeit a little later than I had wanted. A fellow grapher Tim was the first to help me out. He had an extra season ticket for the event and offered it to me. I jumped at the opportunity and met up with him at the at the Convention Center just after 9am.

Too bad I didn't take into account how many fans were willing to brave the cold just to get some free autographs. The first 250 fans got a free session with Brad Bergesen, Al Bumbry, Brendan Harris and Mark Reynolds. I was around number 350 or so and learned that if I was there 15 minutes earlier, that would have gotten me a voucher. Damn blue sharpies, had to pick some up on the way in.

Tim met up with fellow Virginian graphers J.D. and Derrick and we all tried to finagle our way into the free autograph session. No luck. They were scanning and collecting all vouchers, a lot more organized than I thought they would be. With all the issues that happened when trying to buy tickets I was hoping a little wiggle room was possible.

Being denied, we set our sights on the players/staff coming from and going to the fan forums. Jim Palmer, Boog Powell, Rick Dempsey and Mike Flanagan all denied me before their reunion on stage. Palmer implored the "I am signing twice today already" excuse. I figured that would be the case but I had to try, he was right there. He did say we could catch him at BWI airport this morning at 7:30, but I was too busy sleeping to stalk him.

When Buck Showalter came off the stage he signed for about 10 people, I would have been 11. Crap. Another almost graph. Tim was lucky enough to grab Reynolds at the same time leaving his autograph session. He was the lone grapher to get Reynolds as his handler moved him through the crowd quickly.

Having struck out early, it was time to go for the sure thing. My first autograph session was for Dick Hall, Craig Tatum and Matt Wieters. I already had Hall on a Crown card TTM, so I was able to help out Tim with a ball. Dick was also signing free postcards and giving them to anyone that asked. So much for the 1 per being shouted by the handlers. Looking back I should have handed him a Crown card anyway, but the postcard is sweet.

Dick Hall 2011 Orioles Postcard

Tatum was doing the same, one unique item and a postcard. I saw many people in line with his Bowman card, but I went with a Crown blank. He has no Orioles cards so the postcard will make its way to the collection waiting for the day he appears on a card as a Bird.

Craig Tatum 2011 Orioles Postcard

Craig Tatum Orioles Crown Blank

Wieters was last in line and the main reason I was in this session. I have a 2007 Tristar card that I traded for but wanted the upgrade. He was too quick on the draw and I didn't have the chance to slip him my blue sharpie. Black it is. I was shocked he was giving out signed postcards as well, but snatched one up without flinching.

Matt Wieters 2010 Upper Deck #84

Matt Wieters Orioles Postcard

I jumped from the stage and pushed my way to the next group of fans poised to help me out. Craig is an "unfortunate" Yankee fan that needed help with Willie Randolph, and I am the unfortunate Orioles fan that needed help with Rick VandenHurk. So we made a swap, 1 for 1. He was at the front of the line when we exchanged items and I was allowed to stay in place. My next helper, Ryan, met me at the front of the line to help with my second Jim Palmer item.

In a small twist of fate I met an old friend Flam in this same line. He was lucky enough to grab a free autograph voucher earlier and had no need for his Brandon Harris postcard. I did. So he gave me the postcard and a Jason Berken card in exchange for help with Randolph, who was a strict one per. I never knew he was so difficult. He was kind of a dick about being 1 per, making different excuses at each request. Jim Palmer at the end of the line had it right, he just politely slid your second item back to you unsigned.

Brandon Harris 2011 Orioles Postcard

In between the veterans of the brush off were young guys happy to sign. Jason Berken would sign anything you put in front of him and had a mound of pre-signed postcards. He probably had 50 of em already signed and when asked if I could have one he said "take as many as you want". My kind of guy.

Jason Berken 2010 Topps When They Were Young #WTWY-JB

Jason Berken Orioles Postcard x2

Jeremy Accardo was next and I had nothing to give him, so I threw a blank at him. He happily signed it and a postcard as well. Now all he has to do is make it to the mound this year so I can add his name to the all-time list, then cross it right off.

Jeremy Accardo 2011 Orioles Postcard

Jeremy Accardo Orioles Crown Blank

Palmer was the reason I came to the event. $15 to have my Crown card signed was a steal. I think he was $35-45 at this years National and he was signing alone. Ryan was right behind me with a 1990 game program commemorating Palmer's Hall of Fame induction. Both autographs turned out awesome.

Jim Palmer 1991 Orioles Crown #349

I am not sure if I am going to keep the magazine but had to use my extra ticket. I tried to sell the Palmer online but no takers, maybe the signed item could recoup my ticket price? What do you think?

Jim Palmer 1990 Orioles Game Program

This was my last paid session so I did some wandering. I tried the kids autograph station, hoping to grab players coming and going from the stage. Another example of my poor timing. 20 minutes and no change over. I had to move on for fear of being arrested. One can only stand by a kids section without one of you own for only so long. I even played a game of bingo to try and get Flanagan's signature. I didn't even get one number, epic fail. One last attempt in the main autograph area came up empty again.

Wifey had a black tie event for work in the evening so I had to hustle on home to get ready. It cut the day short a little bit, but I got what I was there for. All-in-all it was a good day. 1 Crown addition, 2 upgrades, 3 postcards of new additions, 4 extra postcards and 2 Crown blanks. All of my duplicates are available for trade if interested.

I definitely wanted to thank Tim for the ticket, Craig for help with VandenHurk (photo to come), Ryan for help with Palmer and Flam for Harris and Berken help. I appreciate it guys.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Third Time is a Charm

I was starting to think that Willie had something against me. I had two previous attempts come back to me RTS. On both occasions I had seen successes of his from other people the same week. I held off for more than a year trying him and decided to include him on my New Year's list.

Glad I did. 11 days later I received my fourth success of the week. It's been a long time since I saw that many in a week and is a welcome sight. I am tired of the text messages from my brother about all of his Redskins success.

Willie Tasby 1991 Orioles Crown #449

Willie was a hold over from the St. Louis Browns era, having been signed as an amateur in 1950. The first 5 seasons of his career he spent in Class B & C ball before the system changed. His minor league career had him playing in small towns during the '50"s, hitting at nearly a .300 clip. In 1958 the Birds called him up, where he quickly became a starter. He had a memorable rookie season, being selected to the Topps All-Star Rookie team.

His tenure in Baltimore was short-lived as he was traded to the last place Red Sox in 1960 for Gene Stephens. The Orioles needed some pitching to make a playoff push and Tasby was collateral damage. He excelled after his trade to Boston, but his success led to his selection by the Senators in the expansion draft. After moderate success in Washington, he was moved a final time, to Cleveland. He retired following the 1964 minor league season a .250 hitter, with 46 home runs and 174 RBI.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Third Straight Day

This must be some sort of record or something. At least for the last few months. My mailbox yielded yet another success, Storm Davis. Like his predecessors, Storm came as an upgrade to the Orioles Crown set. I am a little disappointed in the signature though, take a look.

Storm Davis 1991 Orioles Crown #97

His signature feels a little squished. There seems to be enough space to sign. I think he wanted to make sure he didn't cover his face and the thick sharpie held him back. I was hoping for something more like this:

Storm Davis 1984 Topps #140

I consider this to be a masterpiece. The sharpie or staedtler is perfect (and blue) and looks awesome on the card. I know what you are thinking, "stop being an autograph diva." Done.

Again, like my previous two successes, just over a week return and another name to cross off the Crown list. Keeping true to my collection goals, I will be holding on to the Crown card and the beautiful 1984 Topps card is on the market.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Hispanic Namesake

When I was 9 years old I took a Spanish class in elementary school and my teacher named every student their Hispanic equivalent. I threw her for a loop. What kind of name is Kirk anyway. She eventually settled on "Kiko". Little did I know that I was being lied to, I don't translate.

But I wasn't alone.

Kiko Garcia 1991 Orioles Crown #150

I actually thought his given name was Kiko. Fooled again. How do you get "Kiko" out of Alfonso Rafael?

I don't get it. Alfonso was never a heavy hitter, but he definitely came through when it mattered. His lifetime average was .239, but in the '79 postseason he hit .355, with 3 extra base hits and 8 RBI's as the Orioles came up short in their championship bid. Here is a little perspective, his highest number of RBI's in a a season was 27, his postseason was not too shabby. Had the Orioles pulled out the Series, he probably would have been the MVP. Damn the "We Are Family" Pirates.

Kiko is another really quick response, only 8 days in transit. What a slacker, Merv Rettenmund got his back to me in a week. Kiko and Merv will always be linked in my collection, TTM successes a day apart and they initially came to my collection through the same trade. Kinda eerie.

Kiko Garcia 1978 Topps #287

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A "Merv"elous Success

Sorry for the cheesy title, but it was the only thing I could come up with. It is however, very fitting.

My success from Merv Rettenmund took only seven days to go to San Diego and back, and that's with a pesky Federal holiday in the way. I am usually pretty good at sending to the consistent signers but had overlooked Merv until recently. I traded for a 1972 Topps card 2 years ago and it is now looking for a good home.

Anyone who has tried Merv TTM can attest that he is a great signer. He is signing at a 98% clip, on over 157 attempts according to SCN. The man is a machine. In 11 years on SCN he has never had a request out longer than 49 days, and that doesn't account for lazy people like myself not updating the site. Even the one failure on the site, the person never actually sent a card. He has even returned up to 9 signed cards at a time and the autograph community should bow down and thank him.

Merv Rettenmund 1991 Orioles Crown #377

Merv Rettenmund 1972 Topps #171

Thank you Merv.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

FanFest Ticket Sale, Sort Of

The Orioles have screwed up for years in the front office and on the field, but today they made huge mistakes, in my home. Via Ticketmaster, that is.

Today's sale of FanFest autograph voutures was not smooth at all, but the problems started earlier this week. All week long the Orioles said a full list of signers would be released later in the week. Later meant Friday afternoon, giving us autograph seekers less than 24 hours to plan for one of the biggest autograph days of the year. Good job.

But I got ready. Plotted out who I needed to get and gave detailed instructions to my wife to make the purchase (I was lucky enough to work yesterday morning). Tickets went on sale at 10am and I received a phone call from wifey at 10:09. "Sweet, got em already and I had nothing to worry about," I thought. I thought wrong.

Tickets for my primary session (Jim Palmer) were not available. I went into a back office at work and logged on to see what the problem was. Did they sell out? Was there a glitch? We couldn't figure it out. After freaking out and cursing at work, ever the consummate professional, I had my wife buy my second target before it was gone. I finished up my workday knowing I would at least get Matt Wieters, Dick Hall and Craig Tatum, not how I wanted things to go.

Once home I received a text from a friend at 1:30pm that the Palmer tickets were now on sale. Apparently there was a major error, the vouchers were never opened up. They hadn't sold, they were just never offered. I snatched the laptop from my startled wife, logged in and bought two tickets before they were taken away from me again.

I talked to a bunch of other graphers about their experiences, little of which were positive. Many of the tickets sold were for the wrong sessions or with wrong players. With all these glitches it doesn't bode well for FanFest itself.

On a lighter note, anyone willing to get Palmer for me with my second ticket? You could keep Randolph, Berken or Accardo. Let me know, I am willing to work something out and I am sure my wife will not be attending to help.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Orioles Fanfest

The date has been set for this years FanFest, Saturday January 29th. When I heard the news I was hyped up and started to get cards together for the all day autograph excursion. Then I went looking for details and found this little tid bit.

My beloved Orioles have gone the way of the Ravens, cutting adults out of the autograph loop. Or at least making them pay for signatures. I understood the Ravens decision at training camp because of the safety of kids being trampled by mini-helmet weilding, middle agers clammoring for Ray-Ray to sign. It makes sense when kids get pushed aside, injured or ignored, I get that.

But FanFest is not a free-for-all like that. It is somewhat organized chaos and as long as you stood in line you could shake hands with your heroes. Last year I saw more kids in lines for autographs than adults and I never felt like children were being left out. Hell, every other aspect of the convention is geared to them with games and attractions, you couldn't have gotten more kid friendly. Apparently the Orioles feel you can.

I am just not sure I can justify $10 admission and $15 per autograph for a lot of guys that sign well in person or TTM. I am and always will be a collector. I don't go to FanFest to turn a profit. I go to feel like a kid again, talking with big leaguers and recent draftees alike. If I do end up going this year there will be no childlike amazement, I will be all business because of the money I will have to put into the day.

More news to follow when the Orioles decide to inform their fans how things are to go down.

Anyone have an extra early entry ticket that I could buy from them if I do go? I had to do general admission last year and lost out on a lot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year, New Orioles

December was a busy month for me. Not with collecting unfortunately, but with life. The holidays are always crazy and work had drained me mentally. When I came home from work, vegging out in front of the boob tube was all I could do, and my collection has suffered slightly.

With the new year has come a renewed vigor of collecting. I am sending out a bunch of TTM requests this weekend and have also received a few additions over the last month.

Dave Skaggs 1991 Orioles Crown #423

Skaggs played 4 of his 5 major league seasons in Baltimore sharing time behind the plate with fan favorite Rick Dempsey. He was drafted in 1969 and spent the next 8 seasons working his way to the majors. His debut came in 1977, cementing his place on a major league roster. His bat never came alive but he could hold his own behind the plate. His largest distinction may be as the last Oriole before Cal Ripken Jr. to wear the #8.

Kelly Paris 1991 Orioles Crown #353

Paris played on 4 big league teams from 1982-1988, only spending multiple seasons in Baltimore. He was a shortstop and third baseman, but never saw any time here at shortstop because of Cal. As an Oriole in 1985 he failed to reach base in 9 attempts but was recalled in 1986, but fared only marginally better. His last big league season was in '88 as a member of the White Sox recording the only 3 home runs of his career. He played his final professional season in '89 in AAA before retiring.

Both of my successes came in about 4 months, receiving Skaggs before the New Year and Paris, shortly after.