Tuesday, April 7, 2020

ted williams is in my hall of famer collection

i had a different card lined up for today's hall of famer collection entry, but decided to go with a big gun since i know i can use a bit of a pick-me-up in the midst of the pandemic.  ted williams is in my hall of famer collection with this card as his entry:
that's a 1992 upper deck baseball heroes ted williams auto, numbered 1067/2500.  here's the back:
note the tell-tale diamond hologram that certifies the autographed version of the card.

so, yeah. i have a card autographed by teddy ballgame. this card is instantly one of the stars of my entire collection - not just that of hall of famers. 

my earliest recollection of ted williams comes from the 1979 season. the all-time record holder cards included in the topps set that year made me aware of his status of being the player to have most recently hit over .400, as well as being one of the top all-time home run hitters and rbi producers.  in addition, one of my neighbors had his 1971 topps card and i was smitten.
later that same year, i received the image of their greatness by lawrence ritter and donald honig, and i was able to read about williams in a little more detail. that book had a profound effect on my opinion of williams, as this is what i read:
"no hitter ever had more confidence at the plate than ted williams, every bit of it fully justified. no player ever had better eyesight, better judgment of a pitched ball, a purer swing, more power, more intense concentration."

that is heavy and high praise, and it made quite an impression on me as a 9-year old. later on in the book, i learned more about williams' .400 season in that he refused to sit out the last day of the 1941 season with a batting average that rounded up to .400 and instead played both games of a double header, going 6 for 8 to finish at the historic .406.

over the next few years, i continued to learn about williams, and even added a couple of his cards to my collection - that aforementioned 1971 card and his 1976 topps sporting news subset card. while i was in high school, his sports illustrated interview with wade boggs and don mattingly was deemed mandatory reading by our baseball coach. as a result, i've spent the last 30+ years nodding my head in understanding when i see a player on tv smell his bat after fouling off a pitch straight back.

in 1999, i happened to be in boston the weekend leading up to the all-star game. i was unfortunately unable to attend the fanfest activities (and missed out on a steve garvey appearance), but i did walk past fenway and thought of williams and babe ruth and other legends of the game who had played there. it turned out that many of baseball's greatest living players were in town as the nominees for the all-century team were being introduced at the all-star game, including williams. i recall watching the all-star game a few days later from somewhere in new hampshire and thoroughly enjoying the respect paid to williams during the pregame ceremonies. he revisited the discussion he had with boggs and mattingly regarding the smell of burning wood with mark mcgwire, and i would have enjoyed watching williams interact with the players for the next three hours more than the game itself.

had williams not lost essentially five seasons while he served two stints in the military during world war ii and the korean conflict, his career baseball numbers would have been greater, but they are still among the best ever. his .344 career batting average is tied for 7th all-time, and is the highest of any modern era player. the number that really impresses me, however, is his lifetime on-base percentage of .482. that is the greatest obp of all-time.

over the years, my respect and admiration for the splendid splinter has grown, and if you were to ask me who has lived the greatest american life, i would likely answer with ted williams. he was a top tier hall of fame baseball player, a decorated naval aviator and marine fighter pilot, and a hall of fame fisherman, to boot. that is not a bad life to have lived.

here's my hall of famer collection as its been documented so far:

babe ruth - 2003 topps tribute world series edition world series tribute relic 351/425

honus wagner - 2001 topps tribute relic

tris speaker - 2011 topps tribute dual relic green parallel 53/75

george sisler - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute relic

dizzy dean - 2001 topps tribute relic

bob feller - 2001 topps archives certified autograph

jackie robinson - 2004 topps clubhouse collection clubhouse relic

ted williams - 1992 upper deck baseball heroes autograph 1067/2000

yogi berra - 1998 donruss signatures significant signatures 1640/2000

roberto clemente - 2005 donruss greats hall of fame souvenirs relic

warren spahn - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

mickey mantle - 2000 upper deck legends legendary game jerseys relic

willie mays - 1997 topps willie mays reprints certified autograph

al kaline - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

duke snider - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 144/250

bob gibson - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

hank aaron - 2004 topps originals 1979 topps all-time record holders rbi 03/32

frank robinson - 1995 upper deck autograph

harmon killebrew - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures

pee wee reese - 2001 topps tribute relic

jim hunter - 1998 donruss signature series significant signatures 0736/2000

willie stargell - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures 

gaylord perry - 2003 topps finest finest moments autograph

rollie fingers - 2018 topps archives signature series 1978 topps buyback 1/3

reggie jackson - 2018 topps tier one tier one talent autograph 19/60

steve carlton - 2018 topps five star career year autograph 43/45

mike schmidt - 2002 topps archives autoproof 1980 topps buyback 048/147

don sutton - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

tony perez - 2004 fleer national pastime 2002 fleer greats authentic autograph buyback 30/59

dave winfield - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 121/350

ozzie smith - 2019 topps finest finest origins autograph

gary carter - 1999 fleer sports illustrated greats of the game autograph collection

dennis eckersley - 2017 topps archives signature series 1984 topps buyback 47/99

paul molitor - 2016 topps museum collection archival autographs 021/125

bruce sutter - 2003 topps all-time fan favorites certified autograph

jim rice - 2005 upper deck past time pennants past time signatures

andre dawson - 2000 fleer greats of the game autograph

pedro martinez - 2018 topps high tek portraitek autograph 09/60

tim raines - 2018 topps tribute tribute autograph green parallel 26/95

alan trammell - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

roy halladay - 2017 topps archives signature series 2004 topps buyback 15/23

pete rose* - 2018 panini flawless legendary signatures 15/25

barry bonds* - 2001 bowman heritage autographs
you can find the full list of hall of famers (and some not - yet) that i aim to include in this collection at my want list site.

*not currently a member of the hall of fame

Sunday, April 5, 2020

o brother, who art thou?

sometime after he announced his retirement, i went looking for a certified joe mauer autographed card.  i have his autograph on a few items already, thanks to several in person sessions that i was able to attend throughout his career, as well as one private signing that netted me a couple of pretty cool items for free (it's a long story).

i wound up grabbing a 2004 upper deck sweet spot signatures card for a song.
the card itself has issues - edge chipping and surface marks on the foil - but the signature is solid.  however, the photo is all wrong.  that's not joe mauer.

mauer - the first overall pick of the 2001 draft - made his big league debut on opening day 2004 (a game that i attended at the metrodome sixteen years ago today!) but he got hurt a couple of games later and missed a significant amount of time that year.  meanwhile, his brother jake (also drafted by the twins in 2001) was playing in double-a in 2004.  both brothers were at spring training in fort myers, and here is joe's official team photo from that year:
now here's jake's:
look familiar?

this is probably old news to collectors, but i was surprised to see the mix up when the card arrived (i hadn't looked closely enough to see it when my bid was placed), and it reminds me of a previous instance in which i found an autographed card that confused a couple of brothers.  i still have that andy/adam laroche card, and while i have since obtained another joe mauer certified auto that has been added to my hall of famer collection (i am confident he will make it once he is eligible), i'm keeping this one, too. maybe a new mini-collection? anyone know of some molina brothers autographed card hijinks?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

2019 memorial patches

there were some passings of prominent baseball people prior to and during the 2019 season which resulted in memorial patches (and an armband) to be worn by various teams and umpires.  i've been tracking down cards to represent these memorials for my collection (if you are wondering why i do such a thing, here's a post that explains it).

first off, dodger legend don newcombe died on february 10, 2019.  he had been with the organization for a total of 61 years, first as a player and later as an executive. he overcame addiction to become a force within the organization for player relations and community outreach.  i saw him in the dodger stadium lot after a game in the early 1990's, but unfortunately chose not to approach him. i would have liked to have said hello and maybe ask him for a story from his brooklyn days.

in newcombe's honor, the dodgers wore a "newk 36" patch on their right sleeves all season, as seen on this 2019 topps triple threads cody bellinger card:
they moved it to the left sleeve on jackie robinson day, as i showed on a 2019 topps now joc pederson card earlier in the year.

hall of famer frank robinson passed away three days before newcombe's death, and most of the teams that he was affiliated with paid tribute. first, the reds, for whom robinson played from 1956 to 1965 (winning a triple crown along the way), wore a patch with his number 20 displayed on their chests.  this 2019 topps now nick senzel card shows the patch nicely.
i believe the reds wore this patch only on their home whites, which excluded their litany of throwback unis worn during the season.

i don't believe that the giants, for whom robinson managed, wore a patch in his honor, but they did wear a patch in honor of another hall of famer - willie mccovey - who passed away on october 31, 2018.  they also wore a patch for former owner peter mcgowan who died on january 27, 2019.  the mcgowan patch was rectangular and simply said "peter", while mccovey's patch was circular and said "stretch 44".  the patches were worn stacked on the right sleeve, as shown in this 2019 topps total mike yastrzemski card:
during the all-star game, the patches were relocated to the left chest, as shown on this 2019 topps update will smith card:
the orioles also wore patches for frank robinson.  his number 20 adorned their right sleeves during the season as seen on this 2020 topps heritage hanser alberto card:
but was also present on their left chest during some spring training games as evidenced by this 2019 topps fire jonathan villar card:
the patch also showed up on the left chest for the all-star game, and i'll show a card that proves this a little later on.

finally, the indians, for whom robinson became player-manager in 1974 (the first african-american manager to boot), also wore a number 20 patch to honor him.  they wore the patch only on opening day, and so far i've not found a card showing the patch.  here's a photo that will suffice until i do:

mel stottlemyre was a yankee player, scout, coach, and executive. after he died on january 13, 2019, the yankees announced that they would wear a black armband in his honor.  the black armband has become the standard yankee memorial in recent years, but it remains to be seen if they will go back to the number memorials for any of their more prominent alumni in the future.  anyway, here's a 2019 topps total troy tulowitzki card
that features the armband prominently. i went with tulo because there is no doubt that this card features the 2019 armband that way.

later in the season, the rays wore a patch for their inagural owner vince naimoli, who died on august 25, 2019.  these late season patches are not necessarily guaranteed to show up on cardboard, but tommy pham's heroics on september 2nd netted this 2019 topps now card that just happens to show the patch:

the phillies also added a patch to their right sleeves during the season, as seen on this 2019 topps update bryce harper perennial all-star insert
the "dpm" patch is in honor of david p. montgomery, a former president and minority owner of the club who died on may 8, 2019.

mlb umpires also mourned the passing of one of their own.  jim mckean, a 30-year veteran, died on january 24, 2019.  as a result, all umpires wore a square "jm" patch on their left sleeves all season (they later added an "ec" patch during the world series for eric cooper who passed away on october 20, 2019).  you can see the "jm" patch on aaron judge's 2020 topps heritage card:
and (barely) on this 2019 topps update charlie blackmon card:

it's there on the left sleeve below the all-star game patch. more noticeable, however, is the "45" patch on the right chest of umpire mark wegner.  that patch was worn in honor of angel pitcher tyler skaggs who died on july 1, 2019 as a result of an accidental overdose.

pretty much everyone at the all-star game honored skaggs.  while it's not a true memorial, mike trout wore skaggs' number 45 during the game as seen on his 2019 topps update card:

most teams added the patch to their right chests.  take a look:

atlanta braves:

colorado rockies:
miami marlins:
milwaukee brewers:
new york mets:

philadelphia phillies:
pittsburgh pirates:
baltimore orioles:
(there's the orioles' robinson patch moved to the left chest)

boston red sox:
chicago white sox:

cleveland indians:

francisco lindor chose to add the patch to his hat.

houston astros:
minnesota twins:
new york yankees:
i'll keep an eye out for other examples, as well as for cards featuring the same patch that was worn by all teams during "players' weekend" with those all-black and all-white uniforms, like this 2020 topps buster posey photo variation card.
finally, the angels added a different patch to their uniforms for skaggs.  you can see it on this 2019 bowman's best griffin canning card
the "skaggs 45" patch is similar to others that the angels have worn in recent years, and it replaced the black "45" patch that they wore on july 2nd, the day after skaggs' passing
baseball reference recorded approximately 100 former players and managers who passed away in 2019, and (as i type this in early march of 2020) 16 so far in 2020. i know the royals will be wearing a patch for former owner david glass, but it remains to be seen if don larsen or ron fairly or tony fernandez or some other player, manager, announcer, or executive will receive a memorial in 2020.