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, February 28, 2012

Step Inside The Way Back Machine

October 6, 2001
Baltimore Maryland

Camden Yards was crazy. An electric atmosphere with an intensity I had only been a part of once before. The hottest ticket since September 6, 1995. Crowds of people surged around the stadium just happy to be a part of the event unfolding. Scalpers were more brazen then ever, trying to coax a ticket from fans at the gates. Any ticket. Supply and demand were in a brutal wrestling match, demand being the ultimate victor.

As I entered the stadium at Eutaw Street, I remember having a weird feeling. I wasn't anxious, or excited, or even saddened by the end of an era. I felt ...lucky, and that felt out of place entering the Yard.

I was lucky to be at the game, many of us were. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 changed everything in our country--least of all the MLB schedule. A full week had been shuffled and all previously devised plans to watch Cal end his career in New York were thwarted. I was not planning on being one of the 48,807 fans to click the turnstile.

I was lucky to have an Uncle willing to spoil me and my brother (21 and 23 years old at the time). My experience at each of Cal's milestones is directly related to his generosity. His love.

I was lucky to have grown up in the Washington D.C. suburbs after the Senators left, twice, and before the Nationals arrived. The Orioles were all I had for a home baseball team and, as I grew, so did my devotion to the Orange and Black.

But we were all lucky. Lucky to tune in, show up, or listen to one of the greats every day.

This day wasn't about a baseball game--the outcome was of zero consequence. It was about a city, a state and its fans showing their appreciation. This game marked the end of Cal's career but I felt more joy saying "thank you" on this day, than I did saying "congratulations" in 1995.

I didn't pay much attention to where our seats were when I looked at my ticket. All I knew was there would be no elevators and escalators for this guy--I was on the lower level. The walk from Eutaw Street was mobbed and it seemed to take forever to get to our section. We stopped just under the press box, section 38. When we stopped, I finally looked at the seat number on my ticket.

Holy. Shit.

Four rows off the field, directly behind home plate. One of three seats in our entire row due to the access tunnel to the belly of the stadium that was in the way. I have never inquired as to how my Uncle obtained the tickets and I probably never will. I am quite positive the answer would involve having sold something to a demon or such.

My seat allowed me to talk with Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Tim Kurkjian, and even Kelly Ripken. We were smack dab in the middle of the VIP seating and I was no VIP. But I faked it. I didn't ask for a single autograph, nor did anyone else. The day wasn't about getting autographs (gasp).

When the game started, my brother pointed across the tunnel to the gentleman sitting in the mirror version of my seat. Ed Norton, my favorite actor at the time. After realizing I had the same seats as Ed Norton, the game became a blur. I remember only slivers of the game itself. Strikeouts. Pop-ups. Brady Anderson. On-deck circle. Why did you swing?

After the final pitch my brain woke back up and vivid details remain. The cacophony of sobbing, cheering, clapping, and disbelief. Stunned fans couldn't believe they were cheering as one of their own struck out to end the season. To end his own career with Cal waiting for one last chance. His body language said it all: "Sorry". We cheered even though our team won 63 games, lost 98 and had a dreadful tie. We cheered despite our team having gone 17 years without a World Series appearance.

We cheered for Cal. We cheered for 2131. We cheered for 19 All-Star appearances and two All-Star MVP Awards. We cheered two Gold Gloves, eight Silver Slugger Awards and two American League MVP Awards. We cheered for 3,184 hits, 1,695 RBI and 431 homers. We cheered because of how he played the game. The right way.

Just another in the crowd, I rose from my seat, cheered on my sports hero and snapped a few pictures.

Little did I know, someone was snapping back.

I am the circled gentleman on the lower right, taking pictures. My face is brilliantly shielded by my camera so as to conceal my identity. And yes, this awesome photo and autograph were given to me by my Uncle. He spotted me in the background of the image on Ironclad's website. Cal personalized the autograph, "Kirk, Quick Take the pic!" and it was framed for me. My Uncle never ceases to amaze me.

Hanging this picture in my man cave made me realize I had never posted about it before. Sorry about the lengthy read, but I just had to celebrate Cal a little.

Actual Camden Yards flag pole banner from 2001

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Without Further Ado

My earlier post was met with a few requests for pictures. So when Wifey came home from work, I nabbed her camera and snapped a few. Let's see how long it stays this way when the season gets in full swing.

Entering the Cave

Close Up

Where the Magic Happens

Display Case 1

Display Case 2

The Pit


Workout Area

Basement Accomplished

It took nearly three months, but my basement remodel is finally complete. My office and former baseball card lair is now a nursery. My basement is my new man cave and can properly display my collection. What does that mean for my hobby?

A return to normalcy, hopefully. I have a trade working and hopefully much more to come. Thanks for sticking with me.

The co-worker responsible for my first work trade just started a blog. Its a good read so far. Check it out.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Big Pimpin, Graphing O's

Anyone who has graphed the Baltimore Orioles has undoubtedly ran into Austin at the stadium. He has helped me on multiple occasions at the stadium and it is my turn to return the favor.

He has just started posting again on his blog, . Go check him out.

You can tell pretty early a big difference between our blogs. Austin is a huge fan of the pic with, and I am a faceless autograph hound. It makes meeting bloggers difficult in the real world, but gives me plausible deniability if I go all ranty in the blog-o-sphere. Also, work can't pin anything on me without a picture and they scour the Internet for dirt. Good luck.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Prediction

Patriots 34 Giants 31

The reasoning: $$$$$$

If the Patriots win, my fantasy football league pays me. I am a huge Patriot fan today. That, and as a Redskins fan, I hate the Giants.

Come on Brady.

A Record Setting Performance

My last trade bait post struck a chord with Spiegel from Nomo's Sushi Platter. It took a while to finalize with all my FanFest prep, but we eventually got a deal done. And apparently I set a record. I sent 63 different Hideo Nomo cards to him in the trade, check here if you don't believe me.

I love the video footage, but still have never used a web cam. Oh well, scans and my typed words will have to do. Here is a bit of what I received.

Two down, three more to go.
This is only a small representation of the Orioles cards he sent my way. He took a great deal of time picking out cards that will look good signed. It is much appreciated and any Topps Heritage cards are always welcome. Gotta love any card you don't have to prep.

Thanks for a great trade Spiegel.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Has Two Thumbs and Just Bought a 2012 Topps Hobby Box?

That's right, this guy?

Who will reluctantly put together a base set to trade away or sell for cheap? This guy.

Who loves the photography featured in the set? Same guy.

Who hates practically every insert set included in the product? Me again.
(The 87 Minis are pretty sweet.)

Who is having buyers remorse? You guessed it, this guy.

This would have been a great box for me when I was collecting Cal Ripken, 6 years ago. I am tired of all the retired players that appear in every insert set, year after year. At first it was cool, not it's obnoxious. Speaking of obnoxious, Yankee inserts. At least people want them.

1987 Mini's
Howie Kendrick TM-5
Dustin Ackley TM-6
Ubaldo Jimenez TM-11
Jayson Werth TM-13
Ichiro Suzuki TM-14
Brett Gardner TM-22
Buster Posey TM-28
Zack Greinke TM-35
Chase Utley TM-38

Starting with the best. Like most people in the world these are my favorite. Just enough nostalgia to make me smile, then cringe thinking of the 200 million originals made. I won't put the set together, I think. Not sure yet. Who knows.

Classic Walk-Offs
David Ortiz CW-4
Jayson Bruce CW-5
Mark Teixeira CW-6
Mickey Mantle CW-7
Alex Rodriguez CW-8

With all the amazing photography in the base set, Topps truly missed the mark in this set. Way too much empty space and just fading out the same image again is stupid. Putting a celebration picture as the faded image would have worked much better. It also would have tied in with the SP's this year.

Gold Parallel
Desmond Jennings 16
Dee Gordon 69
Craig Kimbrel 87
Scott Downs 123
Stephen Lombardozzi 134
Wilin Rosario 184
Matt Dominguez 198
Joe Benson 235

Strong, but I still have a Cognac hangover from 2011.

Golden Greats
Lou Gehrig GG-4
Nolan Ryan GG-9
Ty Cobb GG-18
Mickey Mantle GG-35
Cal Ripken GG-42
Sandy Koufax GG-47
Hank Aaron GG-54
Tom Seaver GG-57
Babe Ruth GG-72


Golden Moments
Jose Bautista GM-2
Andrew McCutcheon GM-12
Andy Pettitte GM-19
Albert Belle GM-21
Dennis Eckersley GM-23
Troy Tulowitzki GM-35
John Smoltz GM-36
Jim Thome GM-44
Carlton Fisk GM-47

Awful and faded.

Gold Futures
Eric Hosmer GF-5
Dustin Ackley GF-6
Anthony Rizzo GF-13
Mike Stanton GF-14
Arodys Vizcaino GF-21
Ryan Lavarnway GF-22
Ivan Nova GF-23

I just don't like 'em.

Gold Standard
Cal Ripken GS-4
Bob Gibson GS-5
Willie McCovey GS-9
Alex Rodriguez GS-13
Chipper Jones GS-21
Joe DiMaggio GS-18

The gold doubloon draws all the attention, not the actual player on the card. I get the "Gold" gimmick, just don't like it.

Timeless Talents
Chase Utley Dustin Ackley TT-2
Andre Dawson Justin Upton TT-16
Stan Musial Lance Berkman TT-19
Roger Maris Curtis Granderson TT-24
Cal Ripken Derek Jeter TT-25

My least favorite insert of them all. I despise the multiple player inserts, especially when there seems to be no connection, again. Yuck.

The Hit
Carlos Gonzalez Topps Golden Memories Relic #GMR-CGO

Golden Giveaway and Home Run Legends

Everything is available for trade. I am looking for minor league Oriole prospects, current roster Orioles and Autographs I need. Please check out my master list to see what I have and what I need for autographs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Orioles Collectors Unite

With the teams ineptitude over the last 25 years, I am always amazed at how many Orioles collectors there are. We haven't sniffed the playoffs since 1997. No World Series appearances since 1983. I thought most of the die-hard fans would have grown too old for collecting or died. I am proven wrong each day I am in the blog-o-sphere.

Billy is one of those collectors. I have been eying up a bunch of his cards on SCN over the years but it was my blog that caught his attention. His exploits can be found here. I sent a bunch of my duplicate birds to him and I received a bunch of upgrades and additions.

Don Baylor 1991 Orioles Crown #24

Keith Moreland 1991 Orioles Crown #315

Jim Northrup 1991 Orioles Crown #335

Both Baylor and Northrup are upgrades to the Crown card. I was about to ship a TTM request to spring training. I didn't have to. The Northrup upgrade is pretty sweet. He passed away in June of 2011 so any Crown card would have needed to be traded for or bought. Another name was able to be crossed from the list. Moreland is a visible figure in Texas, but I hadn't bebeen able to sign for me. Another check.

Javy Lopez 2005 Topps Heritage #101

Jesse Orosco 2000 MLB Showdown #58

Heathcliff Slocumb 1996 Fleer Update #U-17

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Didn't Know It Existed

Greg Aquino Orioles Postcard

Beckett, my go to in these situations, never listed Aquino as appearing on a card as an Oriole. Liars. This is a card, a postcard, and he is clearly pictured as an Oriole. It's not even a staged photo op or doctored photo shop picture. This is a real deal pitch thrown by Greg Aquino on the postcard. How do I know? The blurry umpire, that's how.

This postcard came over from Austin, the hardest working, or at least earliest rising Orioles grapher around. He was in line at 5am for FanFest. Craziness. If you don't believe me, look here. He got there before security.

All I had to do was release my Ryan Flaherty 2011 Topps Heritage Minor league card. Easy.

The Aquino is an upgrade for me. If anyone needs a signed 2003 Donruss The Rookies card of Aquino as a Diamond Back, let me know. Card #14.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

California Dreaming

I scored a little West Coast love from an East Coast guy Nick on SCN.

Kevin Brown 1998 Score Rookie/Traded #RT208

I never liked Kevin Brown. Not as a Ranger. Not as a Marlin. Not as a Padre apparently. Not as a Dodger. Certainly not as a Yankee. I can't even give you a good reason. I just never liked him.

What I do like is autographs, and this one is now chilling Jarvis and Larry in the collection. He hasn't been the best signer over the years so Oriole versions of his cards are toughr to find. There are a bunch of his early cards out there, but I guess he stopped signing as much as he became a star. There it is, my reason. Perfect.

Brad Havens 1988 Fleer #517

I harbor no ill will toward Brad Havens. He was part of the Orioles when I was a young impressionable fan, when the Orioles could do no wrong. So Brad can do no wrong either.

Brad never really lit up the box scores but he was a servicable reliever from 1981-1989. You have to be pretty damn good to have an eight year major league career. I need to upgrade to his Orioles Crown card, or any Oriole card for that matter. But he isn't a reliable TTM signer. Anyone sitting on a stack of signed Brad Havens Orioles cards that wants to give one up? I will make it worth your while. I have this sweet 1988 Fleer card?