Saturday, September 23, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 9-23-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending September 23, 2017:

Ron Cey

Ricky Nolasco

Doug Crossman

Floyd Bannister

Friday, September 22, 2017

TTM Returns from the Last Few Weeks

Well, I haven't posted too many TTM successes the past few weeks, mostly because I haven't gotten many at all, which may have to do with the fact that I haven't sent out hardly any at all. Either way, here's what I've gotten in the mail during the time since my last TTM post:

Tony La Russa

Hampus Lindholm

Ken Williams

Austin Brice

Nick Ritchie

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Phil Kessel Autographed Puck

Right alongside my Mike Lange puck is a brand new addition that I am super excited about, an autographed puck of Penguins superstar Phil Kessel from a private signing at Total Sports Enterprises.

The item was actually purchased back in May. TSE had announced that Kessel had agreed to a signing, but it all depended on the Penguins' playoff run, as to when the event would take place. Well, the Penguins went the distance, and it ended up being August before the signing happened, but I now finally have this great puck to add to my expanding Penguins puck collection.

I should probably write more about Kessel, but this video says it all:

"Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion." - Barack Obama

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mike Lange Autographed Puck

While most of my autographed pucks are from players, this one is of a broadcaster. While perusing through items on Total Sports Enterprises' website, equipped with my coupon code, I came across this autographed puck from long-time Pittsburgh Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange, and just had to have it.

Lange began calling Penguins games for both radio and television in 1974, but left the team after just one season due to the organization's financial instability. He would return for the 1976-77 season and called all televised games until the team went in a different direction in 2006, not renewing his contract. Many Penguins fans were not happy at all with the decision, but he would soon sign on to do the team's radio broadcasts alongside former Penguin and two-time Stanley Cup Champ, Phil Bourque. 2016-17 was his 40th consecutive year calling Penguins games.

Lange is most known for many of his trademark expressions, such as "He doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch," "He beat him like a rented mule," "Buy Sam a drink, and get his dog one, too," and "Scratch my back with a hacksaw," among others. I honestly have no idea what many of them mean, but his two most famous ones are more clear, "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building (Penguins win the game)" and the one I got inscribed of the puck, "HEEEEEEEE SHOTS AND SCORES!!! (Penguins goal.)"

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Some Great Music and Some Great Ink (Hellyeah & Kyng)

I got a great chance to see a great band a couple weeks ago, when Hellyeah came to the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo. The group consists of Chad Gray (Mudvayne) on vocals, Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Damageplan) on drums, Tom Maxwell (Nothingface) on guitar, Christian Brady on guitar, and Kyle Sanders on bass. While the line-up might read as a super-group side project, Hellyeah is the full-time band of all five members, having released five albums in the last 10 years.

Having  released their fifth album, "Unden!able" just last year, Hellyeah kicked off the show with its opening track "X," and that set the stage for what was to come. With the style of vocals that they do, it can sometimes be tough to replicate on the stage, especially when done repeatedly on tour, but Gray really brought his very best to this show.  He is able to really scream on the songs that need it, and he is also able to tone it down when other songs of theirs, like "Love Falls" call for him to sing. As a lifelong Pantera fan, it was also great for me to see Vinnie Paul in person, as that is the main reason that brought me there. Despite being at it for so long, and all he has had to deal with during his career, the dude lives heavy metal, and was absolutely amazing to see live.

I also stopped by the merch stand after the show, as any good fan would, to further support the band, and walked away with a really cool item to go right on my wall. I've noticed that one item bands have begun to really use a lot is decorated drum heads. It allows them to print an image of the band on something that looks music-related, and makes a really cool collectible. They had two different options, but featuring Vinnie Paul, and I picked this one up, that is autographed by him, along with the year, and an "X," which may be in reference to the song that they opened the show with.

Opening the show was Cane Hill, a metal band out of New Orleans, and they were followed by Kyng, who I became a HUGE fan of by the end of the night. Kyng is a three piece metal band from Los Angeles, and is on the verge of a major breakthrough in the genre. I would describe them as what you would get if you took Mastodon and had Brad Delp from Boston singing for them. The vocals from singer/guitarist Eddie Veliz were amazing, bassist Tony Castaneda contributed to some amazing two-part harmionies, and drummer Pepe Clarke was an absolute animal from start to finish. They are a phenomenal band, and you all should check them out, if you have not already.

Like with Hellyeah, I made a stop to their merch table, which wasn't even staffed until after their set. The reason is, Kyng is a three-piece outfit in every aspect. From travel, to sound check, to management, to merch, the band members do it all. So, when I was able to purchase something from them, it was Veliz who was selling their wares, not some hired hand. I got to tell him straight to his face how great I thought they were, and purchased a cd and a shirt. The shirt, by the way, was perfect, as it is a take-off of the L.A. Kings silver and black logo, which is perfect for me as a hockey fan.

I also got to meet all three band members, which was really cool, and had them sign my cd cover. Each one of them ended up having a different colored Sharpie, which made the cd cover look even cooler. I also got pictures take with Veliz and Castaneda. I could have gotten a picture with Clarke, as well, but most everyone had already left, and I was just happy to have all three sign my cd cover.

What a great show! I got to see some great bands, listen to some great music, and get some great ink! The next concert on the horizon is Reverend Horton Heat on Sept. 4. Not sure what the autograph or memorabilia possibilities will be there, but either way, it'll be a blast!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Photos signed by Brandon Saad & Gregory Campbell

A few weeks ago, when free agency began in the NHL, and players began signing with their new teams, it was a great time for autograph collectors, as many memorabilia companies were discounting items of players on their now-former teams.

I actually managed to get a signed photo that actually fits the criteria of both a current and former team from Your Sports Memorabilia Store, with this Brandon Saad 8x10 of him raising the Stanley Cup. He won two Cups in Chicago (2013 & 2015) before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets The summer following his second Stanley cup win. Two years later, they shipped him back to Chicago in a deal that brought 2016 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin to Columbus. This photo is perfect, as it is a great addition to my Stanley Cup photo collection, and it once again shows him on his current team.

I was also able to get my hands on an item I had been wanting for a long time, with this signed 8x10 of former Boston Bruin Gregory Campbell. While he did put in a few years in the NHL, he is fondly remembered for one moment in particular, when he finished his shift during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals after an Evgeni Malkin slapshot broke his leg. The Bruins were on the penalty kill, and Campbell ended up skating on his broken leg for over a minute, successfully killing the penalty before he was able to make it to the bench. He was never a big-name player, but to me, that moment epitomizes the toughness and dedication of a hockey player. This photo is of the moment when he is picking himself up off the ice right after blocking Malkin's shot, and is the perfect image to capture this moment.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Nick Bonino Autographed Puck & Photo

So, a few weeks ago, Nick Bonino left the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign with the Nashville Predators. Upon his departure, TSE, which has hosted signings with him in the past, had a 60% sale on all Nick Bonino signed items from when they hosted him during his time with the Penguins. Of course, I had to buy in, and picked up two items for my collection.

First of all, I needed a puck, and this is my first one from this season, which features their special 50th anniversary logo. Of course, I also had to get one of the official game pucks, as I think, they look so much better than the "autograph" style pucks.

O then grabbed up a signed photo of Bonino lifting up the Stanley cup after they won it this past season. A part of my collection is a binder designated only for autographed photos of players lifting the Stanley Cup, and of course, this fits right in there.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Shane Robinson Autographed Baseball

I did pick up one more item when I was at the Mark Johnson/John Harrington/Jimmy Hart signings. This is a "Mystery Ball" from FanHQ. Basically, you can purchase a sealed box that FanHQ put together, featuring a Rawlings Official Major League Baseball, autographed by a current or former member of the Minnesota Twins.

The ball I pulled is signed by Shane Robinson, who played for the Twins for just one season in 2015. Robinson has spent most of his MLB career as an outfielder, but that year, he also made an appearance on the mound, pitching an inning against the Cleveland Indians. Robinson is now a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and has spent most of the season in AAA.

The cool thing about this ball, though, is that in addition to being signed, it is also game used. When you consider that the Twins sell there gamers for $35 minimum, getting a signed version for $10 cheaper ended up being quite a deal!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Art of Anarchy Signed CD

While concerts are a great place to see your favorite musicians in person, they are also great for discovering new music. I got a great chance to do just that this past weekend, when my wife got free concert tickets.

While she was attending the Goo Goo Dolls concert at Scheels Arena in Fargo with a few friends, and they were handing out free tickets for an upcoming concert featuring Art of Anarchy. My wife, seeing free tickets, picked up a few, not knowing anything about the band. When she told me about it, I figured it would be a great chance to spend some time together and enjoy a free show.

For those unfamiliar with the band, it is sort of a supergroup consisting of Scott Stapp (Creed) on vocals, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns-N-Roses) on guitar, John Moyer (Disturbed) on bass, Jon Votta on guitar and Vince Votta on drums. They just released their second album last fall, but it was the first with Stapp on vocals. Scott Weiland sang on the group's debut, but never did any live performances with them.

Anyway, the concert was great. Of course, comparisons will be made to Creed due to having the same vocalist, but this group is a little bit faster, and with a lot more energy than we saw Creed go in some of their later albums. They pretty much played all of their songs from the new album, plus one from the old one. They didn't play any songs from anyone's former band, but that's ok. These stood well enough on their own. As an avid watcher of "That Metal Show" during its run on the former VH1 Classic, I became a fan of Bumblefoot's work, and it was also great to see him live, as well, and due to it being a smaller venue, we were able to get really close to the band, which was great.

After the show was over, I stopped by the merch table. They had the traditional shirts and cds, but they also had a few other really cool signed items there. They had a signed drum head with the band's logo, signed setlists from previous shows, and signed drumsticks used by Jon Votta. The item I pulled the trigger on was a signed cd. A regular cd was $15, and the signed version was $25. Only an extra $10 got me autographs from some very well-known musicians, so of course I did!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

TTM Return from Matt Cullen

I got just one TTM return this week, but it was a great one. Matt Cullen signed and returned the four card that I sent to him in April of 2017. In that time, they went from my house in Moorhead, MN, to Pittsburgh, PA, to his off-season home in West Fargo, ND. From West Fargo, they made the long 10 mile trip from West Fargo to Moorhead, and I now have these great cards for my collection.

Living in the Fargo/Moorhead area, I have gotten the chance to meet Cullen in-person a couple of times. Most recently was around this time last year. I got a photo taken with me, Cullen, my wife, and our mutual friend, "Stanley."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

TTM Return from Peter Budaj

Well, I haven't gotten too many TTM returns back recently, mostly because I haven't really sent a whole lot out the last couple of months. Still, I did manage to get one this week, from Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Peter Budaj.

Budaj is with the Lightning now, but this was actually sent to him in January of 2016, when he was playing for the AHL's Ontario Reign as a member of the Los Angeles Kings organization.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

"The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart

While I had a great time meeting two members of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team last month, I also got the great chance to meet a pro wrestling legend that very same day.

"The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart was in the Minneapolis area for an independent wrestling event, so he made a stop by FanHQ in Eden Prairie for a free public signing. Well, seeing as though I was not only already there for the "Miracle On Ice" event, but also a HUGE pro wrestling fan, I just had to stick around for this one.

Each person was allowed one free autograph, but there were other for-purchase options as well. I ended up putting a little extra money into it, and came away with a posed photo, as well as an 8x10 with a few inscriptions.

It's always been said that the best wrestling characters are their actual personalities with the volume turned up to 11, and with Hart, that is absolutely the case. He came fully equipped with his megaphone, jacket, sunglasses, and the same hairstyle he has had since the '80s, which for him, has never gone out of style.

I will also say that he is one of the nicest, most engaging autograph guests I have ever met. As I was getting up to the table, which he was standing next to, instead of sitting, Shaun, who runs FanHQ, said that he is the very first "stand-up" guest he has had. Hart told him that he prefers it, since it allows him to get closer to the fans, and give them a more personable experience, since they are the reason he is able to do what he does for a living.

It was an absolutely amazing experience overall. Hart is one of the greatest heel managers of all time, and just an absolute pleasure to meet in person.

Friday, July 7, 2017

2 Names Added to My Miracle on Ice Photo

A few weeks ago, I had the great chance to meet a couple of guys from the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team. Dubbed the "Miracle on Ice" due to their unlikely defeat of a dominant Russian team and eventual Gold Medal, the event has been named in many places as he greatest moment in American sports history.

I had previously gotten 11 signatures on my 16x20 photo of the post-game celebration, in large part due to an event that FanHQ hosted in March, featuring 11 members of the team.

The event was supposed to feature all 12 Minnesota guys, but unfortunately, John Harrington was unable to appear due to a flight cancellation. His signing was postponed, but now that it had been rescheduled, I made the trip back to the Minneapolis area. Joining him was Wisconsin boy Mark Johsnon, which would bring my total up to a "lucky 13."

The Harrington ticket I had purchased from the previous event would still be honored, but I decided to go ahead and buy one more ticket for each guy, figuring I'd also get an 8x10 signed by each of them. Considering the early star time, and the long drive my wife and I had to make, plus the fact that neither of us are morning people, I arrived at the event a little late.

I got my tickets, picked up an 8x10 for each of them to sign, and got in line. Harrington's line was shorter, so I got into that one, and got his signature on both the large group photo, and the 8x10 of him celebrating a goal.

I got into the Mark Johnson line next, and as I was waiting, I bean looking over my group photo, just curious as to where his signature already was on that one. After not being able to find #10, I asked one of the FanHQ employees if Johnson had been there for the big event, or if he was a new one. I was told he was a new guest, and had him sign the group photo instead of the 8x10. I guess, for some reason, when I saw his name on the event announcement, I assumed he was one I already had, and didn't give it another thought. Had I done my research ahead of time, I probably would have skipped the Harrington 8x10, and had Johnson sign a copy of his 1990-91 Upper Deck card for the set that I'm working on. At least I finally asked at the last minute, instead of missing out on him on the celebration photo. I'd really be kicking myself if that had happened. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Brandon Mann Game Used Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks Jersey

I went to my first baseball game of the season yesterday, as I saw our Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks take on the Gary-Southshore Railcats in American Association action. I took my three girls with (ages 8, 6, & 2), and while time was split between watching the game at our seats and watching them play at Newman Outdoor Field's playground, we all had a great time on a windy Sunday afternoon.

While I ALWAYS love being out at the ballpark, the game turned out to not be the best quality action, as the Redhawks lost 5-1. They were hitless through five innings, and finally picked up some hits late in the game, but it proved to be too late. Redhawks pitcher Tyler Herron, who had only allowed six runs in his previous eight starts, let all five by in this one.

After the game, my girls wanted to stop by the team shop, and truth be told, I did, too. They have all sorts of game-used goodies there, and I was curious to see what they had. As luck would have it, my timing was perfect, as I found an item that I had been waiting two year to get: A game-used home jersey from their 2015 season.

This one is of pitcher Brandon Mann, who played for the Redhawks that season. He went 7-10 with a 4.07 ERA. While those stats may not be too impressive on their own, he did have one that is. In 2015, Mann set an American Association single-season record with 157 strikeouts, and this is the very jersey that he set part of that record in!

Of course, Mann's record-setting season is impressive, but what really drove me to this jersey was a patch. 2015 was the Redhawks' 20th anniversary, and throughout the season, players wore a special patch on the left shoulder to commemorate that achievement. While these kinds of patches can vary in their intricacy, this one is very detailed, and I remember thinking back then, that I had to eventually get one of these when they made it to the team store.

This year, the Redhawks made a change to their home jersey, and dropped the pinstripes, which I always love on a baseball uniform. Luckily for me, I was able to find this one-of-a-kind collectible with the pinstripes and a special patch, and from a record-breaking season. The stars don't always align in my favor, but in this case they did, and everything worked out just right

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Eric Fehr Autographed Stanley Cup Photo

One of the very first things I did after the Pittsburgh Penguins won the 2017 Stanley Cup was go on-line and place my order for all sorts of championship gear. I ended up finding a hat, two t-shirts, and a beer bottle koozie before heading to NHL Shop's Clearance section and finding an item for my autograph collection.

Unlike the other items I picked up, this one is from their 2016 Stanley Cup victory and is a Cup celepration 8x10 of Eric Fehr. The photo is signed in silver and looks amazing, as the signature really pops out. His time in Pittsburgh may have only been a season and a half long, but his role in a Stanley Cup victory makes him a Penguin for life, as far as I am concerned.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Some Father's Day Ink From My Girls

I had a GREAT Father's Day yesterday.

I spent the early part of the afternoon with my dad, as my wife, my girls, and I went to my parents' house for lunch. My brother, my cousin, my aunt, and my grandmother were there, as well, and it was great to have some family time (and to watch the Twins game on TV). Afterwards, we came back home and my girls gave me some gifts.

Now, I'm not one who feels an absolute need for surprise gifts. For my birthday, for example, I'd rather my wife just let me order the Center Ice package on DirecTV than to gift me with something that I may or may not like as much. I like the simplicity of it.

This Father's Day, though, they did surprise me with a gift that was just perfect for this autograph collector: a Fargo Force hockey jersey signed by the entire 2016-17 team!

(Some pictures showed the autographs better than others, but you get the idea.)

The jersey was  purchased at a silent auction held at my oldest daughter's school, and my wife got a GREAT deal on it. I guess there wasn't a whole lot of other bidding, as she ended up winning it for, basically, half of what an unsigned jersey would cost at the team store.  Now the only question is if I wear it to a game next season, or just leave it proudly displayed on the wall of my man cave.