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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Shameless Plug

I like free stuff. Hopefully I get a chance at the Gypsy Queen. I don't think I will buy any so this may be my only shot.

Check out his blog and contest here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Orioles Index

Many Orioles players had passed away before my quest began. Even a handful of them passed before my favorite set was produced, making a complete set impossible. Index cards have become a reasonable way for me to bolster my collection, and since they are index "cards", they count. Don't fight me on that.

Here are my recent index card pick-ups.

Jimmie Dykes
Alright, Dykes never played for the Orioles but he was their first manager. He was not successful as a manager here, losing 100 games in his only season. But, his losing prompted the Orioles to hire Paul Richards following the season and helped the franchise rise to prominence.

I love this piece. It isn't technically a postcard, but an envelope from 1932. September 12th, 1932 at 12pm to be precise. The history on this envelope is pretty awesome. The 3 cent stamp. The grainy, leering photo of Dykes staring straight into my soul. The cancelation stamp/advertisement urging people to use Air Mail, only 18 years old at the time.

Most striking is that this was sent during the Depression. People weren't able to afford food, housing or clothes for their family, but Ivan Marietta would not be denied. It turns out that Ivan was a collector, just like me. A few of his items have made their way to eBay recently. If you are a Senators collector, check them out. This is probably one of my favorite items and he never even played for the O's.

Hoot Evers

Evers made his big league debut in September of 1941, playing one game for the Detroit Tigers. Then he did as many other men did, fought in World War II. He served four years in the military and started his career up again in 1946. He was a fan favorite in Detroit, enjoying the best seasons of his career there. His later years saw his numbers decline while in Boston, New York, Cleveland, Detroit again and ending his career in Baltimore. In an odd twist, he became the starting left fielder for the Red Sox in 1952 when Ted Williams was off fighting Hitler.

Hoot died in early 1991, making a Crown signature impossible and his only other Orioles card is valued at $200. I had never heard of the 1955 Orioles Zip black and white set, that's probably why they are so expensive.

Joe Frazier

Frazier ended his major league career as an Oriole in 1956, as a platoon outfielder. he didn't do much as a player, but is more well known as a manager. His only full season managing in the bigs was an 86-76 campaign with the 1976 Mets. He must have set the bar too high, a poor beginning to the 1977 campaign ended his major league managing career. He was replaced as manager by player Joe Torre. He also paved the way for Jim Fregosi as a manager of the Louisville Redbirds. Frazier passed away on February 15th of this year.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

42 Minutes...

Was all it took for Beardy to figure it out. My mystery purchase was of World Champion Brian Holton.

Brian Holton 1991 Orioles Crown #200

And for his efforts, this will be heading his way.
Brian Holton 1987 Donruss #598

Just email me your address and it will mail this week. Thanks again for reading.

A Waste of Money?

I got a little click happy the other day on "The Bay" and feel like I over paid for an Orioles Crown autograph. Let me know what you think?

Here are his on field stats:
20 Career wins (7 as an Oriole)
3.62 ERA lifetime
210 K's
3 Saves
1 World Series ring

Signing stats:
0 recorded TTM autographs
21 years since his last makor league appearance

Combined cost over $30

This is the most I have spent on any single Orioles autograph since starting my project. And since many people have no idea who this player is I will have an impromptu contest. First person to correctly identify my new addition in the comments gets his autograph (not as an Oriole)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sittin' In My Chair, On eBay

I hope you read the title thinking of Otis Redding and "Dock of the Bay", that was intended. But eBay has taken up a good amount of my time recently. I have been looking for autograph gems to add to my collection and have found out a few things.

Orioles are really collectible. There are a ton of graphs out there for the guys I need and none are being sold on the cheap. I haven't been able to procure as many as I would like cause the price tag is just too high.

Index cards are everywhere. Many of the deceased players I need have Index cards available with little else. These have been more in my price range than anything else and I have gobbled a few up.

There's a lot of work to do. I have nearly 250 players left on the list and nearly half of those are deceased. eBay will have to become a good friend of mine to knock some tough names off my need list.

The first guy I brought home has eluded me for a while and has absolutely no TTM successes. A Crown card will have to wait for now.

Mike Young 1984 Donruss #621

Young was the 11th overall draft pick in the 1980 secondary amateur draft by the Orioles as an outfielder. He made his debut in 1982, appearing only six games as a defensive substitution or pinch hitter. His first chance to start in the bigs came in 1984 when he finished 5th in the A.L. ROY voting. And then he got better in 1985. He found his power stroke, launching 28 Home runs and 81 RBI's as a full time member of the outfield. 1986 and 87 were down years for Young and he was traded during Spring Training to the Phillies for Rick Schu and Jeff Stone.

Mike spent the next season in Philly before being dealt to the Brewers. A stint with the Indians in 1989 was his last in the States, playing in Japan during the 1990 season. He's been unreachable since 2008 in any way, so I am holding on to my Crown card, waiting for him to reappear somewhere. Hopefully soon;.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Checking Out the Bay

I had abandoned eBay for quite some time and only recently made my way back to the site. Wifey got me started up again. Not intentionally though. She was looking for a bow-tie for my tux and some swanky work events she has this month and then I got to thinking. And that can be dangerous.

You know what else is dangerous? Browsing. There are so many cool things out there and so little time. And money.

My eyes are always bigger than my wallet, yet never my stomach. I am expecting a few packages next week and will surely post my winnings. I may have even started a new collecting avenue, I'm not sure yet.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Spring Training Success, Just in Time

Sitting just behind Mr. Cabell's success from yesterday was a perfectly timed success from Boston. Yah I know it's Boston, but I needed the guy.

With the woes of the big club in Boston, Rich Hill may find his way back to the majors this year. Maybe this month. He has been stellar in his three appearances, only allowing four hits and no runs in his six innings of work.

The perfectly timed success part comes as I was about to purchase an autograph from eBay. No I wasn't going to pay $10 for the card; the auction I was following was only $4 but has ended.

Instead I spent $.88 on stamps for this baby:

Rich Hill 2009 Topps Update #UH-29

To say he struggled as an Oriole is putting it nicely. He surrendered nearly as many runs as innings and had a WHIP of almost 2.0. Following his stint with us in 2009 he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the season. He never made it up for the Cards, then signed with the Red Sox and made six relief appearances.

I wish him well, just not that well. It's always nice to see Boston at the bottom of the A.L. East. Now let's see the Yankees down there with 'em.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Spring Training Success

It took me 90 days to get back my first success from Spring Training, but it was well worth it. I used some resources on to track down Enos Cabell. He had been a streaky signer from his home address over the last few years so I decided to switch it up.

I sent to Enos through the Houston Astros where he is listed as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. I am not sure what this position entails but he is in good company, listed alongside Craig Biggio, Doug Brocail and Jose Cruz. Regardless of what he does for the Astros, he signs TTM at work.

Enos Cabell 1991 Orioles Crown #68

Enos was drafted by the Birds in 1968 and started tearing up the minors. His big league debut came in mid-September, 1972. During the 1973 and 1974 campaigns he was used sparingly by the Orioles and was traded to the Astros following the '74 season. The change of scenery did him well. His best years were in Houston during the late 70's. He bounced around during the 80's, spending time with Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston again, before retiring in 1986.

The Astros must hold a lot of good memories for Cabell as he has stayed close to the team since his retirement. He was an analyst for the Astros televised home games from 91-94 andn even hosted a Sports Talk Radio program until 1996. He has been in his current role since 2004.

I appreciate the time he took from talent evaluation and everything else he does to help grow my collection.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Opening Day Mystery Signer...

is going to have wait just a few more minutes.

I left the player lot with 3 signatures in the books and was actually ready to get home. When we walked away from the player lot wifey ridiculed me for making her stand alone for hours. It was more like one. I didn't know there was a drunk guy near her making life miserable. Whoops again.

We had to park in a lot a mile from the stadium so we knew we had a good walk ahead of us. It was a great evening, 80 degrees with a slight breeze. Couldn't ask for more. We walked alongside the warehouse and at the light-rail station I decided to continue toward the Orioles retired numbers. That was a good decision.

In the employee lot right near Will-Call, there was a group of people talking. A 13 year old kid was decked out in a full suit, Orioles baseball hat and bright orange Oriole tie. His outfit gained our attention. I looked over saw him and then stopped in my tracks. I swung the backpack around grabbed my case of cards and pulled off the top card in one fluid motion. Wifey pulled out her phone and I assume she started Facebooking as I walked toward the group.

I waited for the conversation to die down and I could step in in the least intrusive way. I was noticed by a few members of the group and conversation soon stalled and I stepped up.

"Mr. Anderson, could I trouble you for an autograph"?

"Sure" he said, reaching for my sharpie and card.

I asked if in his new role he would be around more this year and he said "absolutely". He looked at the card I handed him, flipped it over and asked "front or back"?

"Front", I blurted. "You can turn it sideways so you don't have to sign right across your face". And he did just that. I thanked him again and told him it was nice to have him back in town.

As I was putting his autograph into my case I was grinning from ear to ear. My night was made and I had my wife to thank for it. Her lonliness was a dagger in my heart so we left the player lot and I can add this to my collection:

Brady Anderson 1991 Orioles Crown #9

I now have a Brady Anderson 1996 Bowman, Jake Arrieta 2010 Topps Orioles and Mike Gonzalez 2007 Topps Heritage (smeared) and 2003 Leaf available for trade if anyone is interested.

Not a bad start to the 2011 season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Opening Day Haul Part 1

To say that wifey has no interest in autographs would be a severe understatement. She doesn't understand my habit and passion but she tolerates it. The Orioles player lot after Opening Day was her at her finest. She just waited for me to finish, but she has Facebook on her phone so she wasn't completely alone.

All the autograph seekers were looking toward the player lots, waiting for our new heroes to emerge and a legend passed us by. Jim Palmer snuck out of the press box early and walked right past us. We didn't stand a chance. Jim is a pro at dodging the fans and all I could muster was a "Mr. Palmer" to the back of his head at 40 feet.

That wasn't the start that I wanted and my disappointment continued. Adam Jones drove by without even a wave. Vlad Guerrero did him one better, not even looking out of the passenger side of his Land Rover as he was being chauffeured home. And not to be out-done, Derrek Lee had to stop his car because Jim Johnson was actually signing for fans and he was stone faced. He was stopped, we were all right next to him and he didn't even acknowledge us. I was thinking of going back to wifey and calling it a day. But I didn't.

Mike Gonzalez pulled out a few moments later and drove right past our first group. Then he stopped at the end of the driveway for the kiddies down by the corner. I didn't sprint toward him but I did hustle and got to his car window with 15 little ones in front of me. He signed every baseball without question but cards he was wary of. He made a movement toward my card 4 separate times, then looked to me before moving to the next child. He finally lamented and gave me this:

Mike Gonzalez 2010 Topps Update #256

I was extremely careful not to smear this card and have a redo of last year.

After about five minutes winning pitcher Jake Arrieta pulled out with a SUV filled with family, no way he was gonna stop. Incorrect. He stopped and signed, for every single fan. He signed for almost 15 minutes. I ran over and assumed my position arms length away from his window, blue sharpie and baseball card in hand. Then I realized, wrong card. But I realized this only as he decided to sign for me. Oh well.

Jake Arrieta 2011 Topps Orioles #BAL-1

There is nothing wrong with the card, except it is all black. My blue sharpie didn't stand a chance. Jake even noticed this as he pondered the card for a moment, looking for a light spot. Finding none he signed right through the center. Whoops. Should have given him another on of these, or the gold version. Maybe next time.

Arrieta's SUV was blocking the way for others and it made Kevin Gregg stop. He rolled down his window, hung up his phone and started reaching for memorabilia. Like Gonzalez he kept signing ball after ball letting the cards dangle. I stood my ground and waited. Then the security guard started yelling for him to move, another car was coming out. He looked back and said "I don't see anyone" and kept signing. Five signatures later a car did appear and he said he had to go. I asked for "one more" and he begrudgingly took my card, signed it, then took off.

Kevin Gregg 2010 Topps Orioles # BAL-13

I was jacked about the whole situation and wifey had even taken a few pics of me in the action. Little did I know she posted them on Facebook to poke fun at her autograph loving hubby. I could tell she was tired and even more bored than ever so we headed out. Then the fun happened.

Stay Tuned.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Opening Day Quick Recap

Today was my fourth Orioles home opener, and their fourth victory. I think I must be a good luck charm or something. Oh wait, I was there for the 30-3 shellacking by the Texas Rangers four seasons ago. I am officially NOT a good luck charm. But I digress, back to the Birds.

Jake Arrieta pitched a great game and a three run jack from Brian Roberts paved the way for a 5-1 win. The Orioles are alone in first place, having started the season 4-0, a better start then I could have imagined. The start of my opening day wasn't nearly as good.

Wifey got our tickets from a co-worker who couldn't go and how did I repay her, a lot of complaining and a little graphing. I hate standing in line. I mean, hate it. And opening day lines were ridiculous as expected, but service didn't help things. We spent 35 minutes in line outside the stadium for overcooked sausages, chips and a water, and I was salty. Unfortunately the standing in line, people watching and enjoying a great day was wifey's favorite part. This didn't help to comfort me and immediately regretted my pouting.

Once the game started I was much better company, I think. She enjoyed the game but got goose bumps during the fly over during the National Anthem. She couldn't stop smiling and that decreased my gruff demeanor. Work schedules didn't allow for time to graph pre-game so we tried the players lot. And after what seemed like a year I finally got some graphs.

I will go into details on later posts but here is the low-down: 1 duplicate, 1 upgrade, 1 new addition and 1 Orioles Crown card. Sorry for the suspense but I gotta leave you wanting more.

Today was the day of 4's. 4 autographs. 4 Opening Day wins. A 4 run victory. 4-0 start. All on the 4th of April. Kind of interesting.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bad Orioles Fan

I have not been the devotee that I typically am this time of year. I can usually be found glued to the television or listening to a broadcast of my beloved Birds, but not yet. I missed Friday and Saturday's wins while spending time with my sick wife and the Orioles were not on my patients watch list.

Today I tried to make amends for my transgressions, catching the second half of their third victory in a bar. I was chastised by my friends and almost had my opening day privileges revoked. But, because the Orioles pulled out a win while I was watching, I will be allowed into Camden Yards tomorrow to watch the home opener.

Hopefully wifey will be well enough to go with me. I have a bunch of new players to try and get signed.

I ask the blogosphere for forgivemess.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Training Successes

Of course they aren't TTM successes, that would be too easy. I had to get some help for my Spring training autographs. That's where Derrick comes in. Anyone who gets autographs in person on the East Coast has probably rubbed elbows with Derrick. He seems to be everywhere, and this month he was in Florida, helping me, amongst countless other I am sure. He is like me, only cards, and being on the East Coast he's helped me a ton. Thanks again D.

Tommy Harper 1991 Orioles Crown #181

No, I didn't get jipped, Harper smeared all the cards he signed. It wasn't purposeful but apparently he was just moving too quick. This will have to do until I can grab a couple more Crown cards to try again.

Frank Mata 2005 Bowman #513

This card is both an upgrade and downgrade at the same time. My previous autograph was on an Orioles Orioles team checklist. At least this card features the player signing it, even if he is a Twin. The signature looks great and this will have to do. After 15 games last year, he is now with the Marlins organization, no chance to appear as a bird.

Carlos Mendez 2003 Fleer Mystique #108

Please forgive the first appearance of my fingerprints in my blog. When powdering this card I somehow managed to hold it wrong and this is what I have to show for it. Even with multiple powder efforts it never worked. For all the hard work and how bad the card looks in person, the autograph truly pops.

Tony Tarasco 1996 Ultra Gold Medallion #310

It didn't take long for my fingerprints to make another appearance. I am all over this card. Hopefully some forensic fingerprint analyst psychopath won't be able to take this scan and frame me for a grisly murder. Man I have been watching too many movies. I have Tarasco already on the regular version of this card if anyone is looking.

The Tarasco card has got me thinking, when did they start marking cards that need to be prepped? I have powdered a bunch of cards from the 90's that didn't need it and have yielded poor results. I would like to avoid that going forward if possible.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Importance of Little Things

The most important thing in my autograph collection isn't actually the graphs, it's the cards. The all too often overlooked canvas for the scribbles of the stars. And for me and my specific needs, not just any cardboard will do.

I dealt some base cards over on The Bench and got a few cards I need for upgrades and possible additions.

Take a look.

I have Chad Bradford and Kurt Ainsworth as Orioles on postcards which count, but throw off the flow of the collection. I am hoping these will go out in my next TTM batch, and come back signed of course. The Bradford truly captures him as a pitcher with his submarine style. I didn't know what it looked like prior to the trade but am quite happy.

The Rhyne Hughes, Jose Leon and Omar Daal cards become surplus. Hughes should be easy to get TTM, through 50/50 or in person, so I am stockpiling to get him crossed off my list. Leon and Daal are proving to be tough to track down but the more I have the more chances I can take. Anyone know where Omar Daal or Jose Leon are these days?