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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Real? Or Fake?

Not going to give any information that could sway, just want to see what y'all think.

Sammy Sosa 1991 Fleer #136
I will weigh in later with specifics.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Subtraction By Addition, or Something Like That

My opportunities to get in front of the coming wave of Orioles happens rally only at FanFest.  I haven't graphed at a minor league game since the AA All-Star Game in Trenton NJ, 1999.  I also haven't picked up minor league team sets online.  About once a year I snag a lot full of new "Oriole prospects" and send some TTM requests.

Last week marked the second time this year a player debuted, then was summarily crossed from my needs list.

Thanks Zach Clark.

I wish he would have signed a little larger, but overall a nice legible autograph. 
Hopefully this week will mark another autograph I can take off my list by adding it to the collection.
Fellow Oriole Blogger Ryan has discussed Clark's current pitching project here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Freed Up Some eBay Funds

I have been spending more time on eBay recently, just got the app for my phone, and have been looking to cross some tough names from my list.  The majority of the players I need from the past have passed. 

Most autograph traders don't have cards from the 60's and 70's laying around for me to scoop up.  If they do, they are looking for a deceased player in return, which I only have a few.  So I pull some scratch together and buy a few of the cheaper ones out there.
Roger Freed 1972 Topps #69

It's not the best autograph, the best pen or even the best card, but it was the one within my price range.  He has two cards as an Oriole, both dual players cards with other rookies that I hadn't seen available.  I had the choice between a multitude of '72 Topps and some Index cards and settled on this one.  I am happy with it.
I have tried to save the index cards for players from the 50's and 60's, but have been known to make an exception as needed.
Roger would definitely be classified as a journeyman.  He spent parts of eight seasons in the major leagues, over 10 seasons, with six different clubs.  He was signed by the Orioles in 1966, making his debut four years later in 1970.  He was traded in 1971 to the Phillies for Grant Jackson, Tim Hutto and Sam Parrilla.
He got a shot to play everyday in 1971 and 72 but couldn't hold on.  He was dealt a few more times, bouncing between franchises and all levels of the minor leagues.  Following the 1980 season he extended his career playing in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues.
Roger passed away on January 9, 1996 at the age of 49, from heart related issues. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wifey Has A New Favorite Oriole

Move over Matt Wieters, Wifey has a new Bird in her life. 

OK, not a new Bird, a seasoned one.

Bill Swaggerty

He doesn't look familiar? 
 Maybe this guy does?
Bill Swaggerty 1991 Orioles Crown #448
It wasn't statistics or relevance that made Wifeys loyalty wane, it was personality and a little bit of resemblance.
When we fist met Bill as our manager at the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation softball tournament, Wifey thought she knew him.  He looked so familiar, she kept bugging me as to who it was?  It turns out it was actor Bruce McGill from one of her favorite T.V. shows.  Pretty close.

Bill was extremely personable and mirrored our team very well, just have fun.  We spent the day with Bill sharing a glimpse into what it was like to be a pro athlete.  He shared stories of being drafted in the 27th round, coming through the minors with Cal Jr., his pro debut, being a World Champion and life after baseball.  Our team hung on every word and every story, spun with ease by a talented storyteller.

He even had Wifey paying attention.  To sports stories.  That never happens.  Ever.

Stories wasn't all Bill shared with us.

Those are the chubby nubs I call fingers with the most expensive piece of jewelry I will ever don.  I'm not a ring guy, but would have never relinquished it had it been mine.  Bill took delight in sharing his piece of history with us.
Wifey gladly asked Bill for his autograph, for her collection, not mine.  It now sits next to her personalized Wally Westlake postcard from nearly five years ago.  I crossed Bill off my Orioles Crown list years ago TTM.  He is a great signer, getting at least two letters a week. 
Thanks again Bill.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Face to Face With Ripken

During my blogging "career" I have remained faceless during my ranting and raving.  It sort of just happened.  It was never my intention but just worked out that way.  I am not fearful of people knowing who I am and have actually met a dozen or more followers of my blog. 

I always felt like the players, the cards, the autographs and the stories were most important, and they are.  But today, I make my first appearance on my own blog.

Friday, May 3rd was a great day for many reasons. 

I didn't have to work.

I spent the day outside.

I was with Wifey all day.

I played softball to help less fortunate kids.

I rubbed elbows with bonafide big-leaguers.

Wifey's company has had a long standing relationship with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation in Aberdeen Md.  Donations and sponsorships of charity events to help build youth baseball fields across the country are part of their contributions.  They also built the replica Camden Yards at the facility, the crown jewel of the Aberdeen complex.

Camera Phone View
 Each year, the Foundation organizes a charity softball tournament played in Aberdeen, on their most iconic fields.  Camden Yards, Fenway Park, Memorial Stadium, Wrigley Field and National's Park are where 10 teams vie for the championship.  Wifey's company sponsored a team and I was invited to play.

Actually, Wifey was the first to sign up, so I could play.  She isn't a team sports person, but tolerates my passion for playing the game and being a part of baseball softball.  She is a runner and understands competition, but only against personal records and the course.  She doesn't run to win the race.  She also hadn't played softball or organized sports since 5th grade, so the sacrifice to put herself out there was not lost on me.  I owe her.  Big time.
We got to the facility around 9:30am, games started around noon, so we had time to warm up and mingle.  We got loose on the turf warm up field and even took a few practice swings, in one of 12 batting cages.  The facility is amazing and I can only imagine how the kids felt, as I was in awe as an adult.  Playing slow pitch softball.  When I was a kid, the high end facilities had snack bars, not batting cages, bullpens and electronic scoreboards.

Before the first game we met with our celebrity manager, Bill Swaggerty.  He was a member of the 1983 World Series Championship Team and played for four seasons with the Orioles.  More on this Bill later.  We posed for a team photo with our manager Bill and Foundation Vice Chairman Billy Ripken.
My Debut

Billy Ripken spoke about the success of the foundation, their work and the contributions each donor had made, as only Billy can.  He kept it light and fun as was the tenor of the day.

A random draw selected the three opponents for the day, we had a rough one.  First was defending champion Kelly and Associates, followed by Wal-Mart, finishing up with 2012 runner-up Under Armour.  Ouch.

No, literally ouch.  While warming up the pitcher for our first game, Wifey took a ball off the knee that kept her out an inning.  She toughed it out though.  Kelly and Associates led by Tippy Martinez bombed us in the first game.  We didn't do ourselves any favors booting the ball all over the field.  We found a few runs at the end of the game, jacking two home runs out of replica Wrigley Field, Ivy and all.

Walking to National's park, we ran into Billy Ripken holding court.  I made sure to bring a bunch of cards of anyone who may have been in attendance, just in case.  This was a good case.  Billy knew a project mamager with the company, who asked for an autograph for me.
Billy Ripken 1991 Orioles Crown #382
Throughout the day, I saw a lot of posed shots with the former players, but didn't see any other autographs. It made me a little awkward, but Billy was gracious. I needed to upgrade to the Crown card from a 1988 Topps version.
Wal-mart was next and we left all the jitters with the first game.  We came out hot and played some inspired defense.  We won by more than 10 and the game was stopped in the fifth inning.  All was not good though.  We had a pulled hamstring take out our lone sub and I busted up my right heel beating out an infield single.  For the remainder of the game and the final game, I was limping around the field.  The pain was intense but I believe now that it is just a deep bone bruise on my heel, not anything broken.  So, that's a plus.

And yes, the field was turf except for the mound and home plate.  It took some getting used to but all the hops were true.

Our final game was a loss to Under Armour that we kept close.  No expectations of a championship with our team, but an unbelievable day.

Under Armour led by Chris Hoiles lost in the finals to a B.J. Surhoff managed team.  Ten former big leaugers in all came out in support of the foundation including Steve Rogers of Expos lore, Mike Bielecki and former Orioles Dickie Noles and Scott McGregor.

I am that ultra-competitive guy that tends to take things too seriously, but not on this day.  I was able to relax and have fun, something I rarely do when losing.  The event, the day, the people and the cause were too good for me to ruin it by being that guy.  Hopefully, I get asked back if they sponsor a team next year. 

Oh, any guesses as to which guy I am in the team photo?  If you know me, don't ruin it.