Friday, September 4, 2020

TTM Returns from Joe Pavelski

When things started shutting down with Covid-19, it also took down pretty much any opportunity for in-person signings. It didn't seem to affect the TTM part of the hobby too badly, though, and may have even helped, as some current players now had some extra time to catch up on old mail. One of those players, apparently, was Joe Pavelski, who signed and returned two TTM requests from me that I had long given up on. These were sent out in December of 2015 and October of 2016 when he played for the San Jose Sharks, and made it back to my mailbox two weeks apart in April 2020, when he is now playing for the Dallas Stars.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Cubs Spring Training - 2019

Well, I have a lot of catching up to do here, as my blogs have been severely neglected, but I figured I should share with you my Spring Training autographs from last year.

We make the trip every year, as my family has a vacation house in Chandler, AZ, and we try our best to claim a time during Spring Training. Of course, with work and the kids in school, the scheduling can be pretty tricky, but with a couple exceptions, we make it every year. We actually made it this year, and got to one game before Covid shut the whole operation down.

I made it to two Chicago Cubs games in 2019, though. Of course, I absolutely love the sun, the warm beer, and the outfield grass seats at Mesa's Sloan Park. The other draw for me is the autographs from former MLB players. Cubs legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins hosts autograph signings behind the left field grass area to benefit his foundation, and I am always sure to grab a few when I attend games there.

The one I had already gotten in the past, but HAD to get that year, was Lee Smith. 2019 was a special one for him in particular, because we would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame For many people, including me, the honor was a long time coming. He mastered the role of the closer in an era where that role was starting to develop, and was seen as the best one-inning pitcher in the game. I had gotten photos and a ball signed by him previously, but this time around, I had to get one with a Hall of Fame inscription.

Another guy I had to get a signature from was Bill Buckner. I got a ball signed by him in 2018, but decided to grab a photo from him last year. I know everyone remembers him for 1986, but that one mistake overshadows the fact that in his prime, he was one of the best hitters in the game, winning the National League batting title in 1980.  In the couple of interactions that I had with him, Buckner was always a super friendly guy. Unfortunately, he would pass away just two months later after a battle with Lewy body dementia. It serves as a reminder, if you have the chance to meet somebody, take advantage of those opportunities, because you never know what will be your last chance.

There are a lot of regular guests there, who you will see at every game, every season, but there are also a few who make an appearance far less frequently. Oakland A's great Bert Campaneris is one of those. Campaneris is mostly known for playing for the A's for 12 years, winning three World Series from 1972-74. I had him inscribe the ball with one of his most unique accomplishments, when he played all nine positions in a game in 1965, and even pitched ambidextrously.

Another player who isn't one of the more frequent guests is former Kansas City Royal Willie Wilson. Wilson did play for the Cubs for two seasons in the 90s, but was mostly known for his accomplishments with the Royals, where he won the American League Batting Title in 1982 and a World Series with the team in 1985. I had him sign a 1989 Topps card for the set I'm working on.

Lastly were three balls I got signed by three regulars. Gary Matthews, Bob Dernier, and Pete LaCock are there almost as often as Fergie, but I figured I might as well get some ink from them. I also had them add some inscriptions, recognizing Matthews' Rookie Of the Year award and Dernier's Golg Glove Award.

Well, I'm a year and a half late posting these, but I finally got to it. My autograph seeking hasn't been too fruitful this year, apart from a few private signings, and I've been kind of slow getting some TTM requests out. I'm trying to get myself motivated to work on all of this some more, as it is a wonderful hobby. I hope to have plenty more to show off in the near future.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Autographs after 3/7/19 Arizona Coyotes Game

My family and I made our annual trip to Arizona at the beginning of March, and as usual, we had to go to a few games. Of course, March in Arizona means Spring Training, and I'll post on that later, but it is also during hockey season.

My wife and I made it to two Arizona Coyotes game, and after the second one, we stayed afterward to get a few autographs. The Coyotes beat the Calgary Flames 2-0, with both Jakob Chychrun and Clayton Keller scoring and Darcy Kuemper posting the shutout. Coyotes fans were also happy to see Flames goaltender Mike Smith get scored on, as they still haven't forgotten some of the comments he made about the team after being traded from the Coyotes in 2017.

We waited at the normal graphing spot right outside the exit of the underground parking garage, hoping that a good game would put the players in a good enough mood to stop and sign autographs on their way out of the arena. It would indeed be a good night, as five of them stopped and I was able to add a few great items to my collection.

Most of what I got were pucks. There were maybe 10 of us fans waiting, so there wasn't a whole lot of time to find out who a player is and dig out specific cards or photos, so pucks are always an easy way to go. The one exception would be for Alex Galchenyuk, who has a card each in two of the sets I am working on (2013-14 Score and 2014-15 Ultra), so I made sure to get those cards ready along with the puck. He was happy to sign all three items, and even asked if I wanted him to put his Canadiens number on the cards instead of his Coyotes number, since that is the team he is depicted on.

I always appreciate players taking the time to stop for us, as they have spent a full day at the arena and are probably eager to get home. There are always a few regular players who will stop after almost every game, but there is still enough variety each day, combined with a little bit of turnover every year, and I have managed to put together a good variety of players, with Jakob Chychrun being the only one of the five that night who had signed for me before. In addition to him, I was also able to get pucks signed by Christian Dvorak, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, and Jason Demers

Even without the autographs, I always have a great time at Coyotes games. The only drawback this time was that it seems like the ushers are more stringent about checking tickets for the lower-level seats. Our previous strategy about moving down from the cheap seats to the lower level may have to be revised before next year's games.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Recent TTM Returns

I hadn't sent out any TTM returns for months before getting back into the swing of things last week, but I did get a couple back that I had sent out over two years ago, that coincidentally, arrived in my mailbox just one day apart:

Kevin Fiala

Jeff Francoeur

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Autographs After 3-31-18 Arizona Coyotes Game

Well, it's been almost a year, so I suppose I should get around posting this one.

Anyway, my family and I made our annual trip to Arizona last Spring, and as luck would have it, there was time for one Arizona Coyotes game, when they hosted the St. Louis Blues. It ended up being quite the fun game as well, as the coyotes trounced the Blues 6-1. Six different Coyotes ended up each getting a goal that night, and afterward I hung around at the usual spot to get some autographs from the players as they left the arena.

Three players ended up stopping to sign, and here's a quick look at what I got

Jakob Chychrun

Jordan Martinook

Darcy Kuemper

Monday, January 14, 2019


Well, it was a great weekend for live music a few months ago in North Dakota. On a Saturday, I went to Grand Forks to see Metallica, and the very next day, I had the opportunity to see Fozzy right here in Fargo.

Fozzy was formed in 1999 as a cover band, where guitarist Rich Ward of Stuck Mojo would get together with whichever musician friends of his were available to perform cover songs under the moniker "Fozzy Ozzbourne." Eventually, WWE wrestler Chris Jericho would become a frequent guest as a vocalist, and a friendship, and permanent band, were formed soon after. They shortened the name to just Fozzy, and here we are, 19 years and 7 albums later.

This was actually Fozzy's first visit to Fargo, and they packed the Sanctuary Events Center with a pretty good line up. The Stir kicked things off, who reminded me of a less thrashy, more bluesy version of Overkill. Stone Broken came on next, who are a hard rock band out of the U.K. who reminded me a lot of Sixx A.M. Adelita's Way came on next, and had a pretty good following here in Fargo. I thought there were some technical problems with the vocals, which were overpowered by the instruments, but they do have some good music.

Fozzy was the headliner and kicked things off in a big way with the title track from their most recent album, "Judas." Each song was sure to a be a high energy track with the purpose of getting the crowd moving throughout the set. No dull moments, no ballads. Just heavy music from start to finish.
The interesting thing, for me, was seeing Jericho perform as a frontman. As a huge wrestling fan, I have been a fan of his since his early days in WCW in the late 90s, and was curious to see how his talents would transfer from that world into this one.

The truth is, there are a lot of things that can transfer over, and you can see a lot of his in-ring character influence the way he leads the band. as a wrestler, the number one thing you need to do, is get the crowd involved. Whether they are cheering you or booing you, the most important thing is that they care about whatever it is you are placing in front of them. Most bands, go from song to song, play their music, and leave. Jericho never rushes anything. Before, during, and after, he always make sure that the crowd is involved with the show, whether by chants, hand motions, or a call and response. It looks like the band is having a great time on stage, and that helps the fans have a great time, as well.

The band itself is also really good at keeping up with Jericho's enthusiasm. Ward was all over the place, even playing one of their songs in the crowd!

Fozzy's music is really good on its own, but what the group really excels at is the live experience. Jericho isn't shy about naming Kiss's Paul Stanley as his biggest influence as a frontman and even recalled travelling down from Winnipeg as a teenager to see Kiss at a race track in Fargo, specifically how Stanley would yodel the name of the city (FARGOWOWOWOHOOO!!!).

Of course, I had to make a stop at the merch table, and ended up getting a signed copy of Judas on vinyl. I had originally planned on getting one of their VIP meet-and-greet packages, but the funds weren't there at the time, so this was a pretty good compromise in still getting some ink.

Fozzy was great that night. The music is good, of course, but when you see a band live, you want just that little bit extra, and Fozzy makes sure that not only is it a good show, but it is a great experience.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ryan Bischel Signed Line-Up Card and Puck

My wife and I attended our first Fargo Force game of the season back in October, when they hosted the Sioux Falls Stampede. We actually won four tickets to the game from a local business, so the money we save on admission meant more beer money!

The Force ended up losing 5-4 that game, but we had a great time. The game was close, and the Force ended up grabbing a 4-3 lead going into the third, but just couldn't hole on to it this time around. The Force are currently putting together a winning season at 16-10-1, but are sitting at sixth in a highly competitive Western Conference.

As always, the Force had one of their players signing autographs for fans after the game. This one, ended up being goaltender Ryan Bischel. I had him sign a line-up cards and a 2018 Clark Cup Champions puck.

The hockey season always makes the winters up here just a little more bearable. I'm looking forward to getting a few more in this season, and grab a few autographs while I'm at it.