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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bringing Home Belle

Albert Belle has been elusive for autograph seekers, dating back to his playing days. He was known to be standoffish rarely taking the time to sign. He has even gone so far as to request his address not be listed in autograph publications. That is determination from a man who just will not sign. That is unless he was paid to do so by the major card companies during his playing career. I had to revert to the old eBay for one. He only has two major issue autographs as an Oriole and the Sweet Spot Auto was just too pricey.

Albert Belle 2001 Fleer Autographics Silver #'d 88/250

For someone as reluctant to sign as Belle I am shocked at how good his signature is. He is one of the few guys to sign a legible version of his name and directly on the card no less. I know there are purists out there that will only collect on the card autographs and pass on sticker signatures, I am not one of those guys. Sure it is cooler to know Belle had this card in his hand instead of a sheet of stickers, but the man with the pen is more important to me.

Albert grew up a fan of the Orioles, citing Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer as his two favorite players as a kid. When he signed with the Orioles I am sure he was as excited as the fans. However, the highest paid player in the game suffered from osteoarthritis in his hip and retired after finishing two of the five seasons on his contract. Even injured and splitting time between the outfield and DH he still led the team in Home runs during both the 1999 and 2000 seasons. He remained on the Orioles 40-man roster after 2000 for insurance purposes but October 1, 2000 was the end of Albert Belle the baseball player. He ended it in the only way he knew how, homering in his final at-bat.

He was boorish, mean and unwavering in his approach to the game of baseball but all was forgiven because he could swing a bat. Many people chastise him for the way he acted, but it was allowed and tolerated by management and fans as long as it came with wins. When he was unable to perform he was caught under an avalanche of sour grapes. I think that was unfair. We can't expect to like every player personality and Belle pulled no punches. He is who he is and I respect him for that, and his crushing of a baseball.

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