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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 6-17-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending June 17, 2017

Josh Tomlin

Tommy Kahnle

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 5-20-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending May 20, 2017:

Mike Napoli

Martin Biron

Saturday, May 13, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 5-13-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending May 14, 2017:

Vincent Lecavalier

Frank Corrado

Scottie Upshall

Saturday, May 6, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 5-6-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending May 6, 2017:

Mikkel Boedker

Brian Gionta

Sunday, April 30, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 4-29-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending April 29, 2017:

Tyson Barrie

Jannik Hansen

Saturday, April 22, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 4-22-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending April 22, 2017:

Mike Harkey

Jeff Pico

Zbynek Michalek

Cory Luebke

Saturday, April 15, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 4-15-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending April 15, 2017:

Zemgus Girgensons

Aaron Altherr

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Minnesota Miracle" Autograph Signing

There are plenty of autograph signings that I really "want" to go to, but there are few that I really "HAVE" to go to.

This was one of those.

The staff at FanHQ were hosting an incredibly rare signing with all 12 of the Minnesota-based members of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Each of these players either grew up in, or played college hockey in, the "State of Hockey." The signing was announced a couple months ago, I immediately checked my work schedule to determine that I was off of work, and then the waiting game began. Finally, it came, and my wife and I made the trip to Minneapolis.

The signing was part of FanHQ's annual "Rock & Jock Expo," which combines sports memorabilia with a music sale, which includes TONS of classic vinyl. I went to the event two years ago, when six former Minnesota North Stars goaltenders were signing, but didn't make is last year when former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper was the featured guest.

There were plenty of items for sale to be signed, including a few custom canvas prints and pucks made specifically for this event. I came with my own, though, as I was able to add some names to my Miracle On Ice Celebration 16x20. I already had Neal Broten and Buzz Schneider from previous signings, so I was able to add 9 names to the project. For those of you doing the math, and noticing 2+9 does not equal 12, you're right. Unfortunately, Delta Airlines cancelled John Harrington's flight, and he was unable to make the signing, turning this into an 11-person event. In addition to Broten and Schneider, I was able to add Bill Baker, Dave Christian, Steve Christoff, Steve Janaszak, Rob McClanahan, Mark Pavelich, Mike Ramsey, Eric Strobel, and Phil Verchota. Harrington's appearance will be rescheduled, which means I will hopefully be making a trip back at some point soon to add one more.

I bought the "super ticket," which includes one autograph of each at a discounted rate, which meant that I had tickets for Broten and Schneider that I didn't need. I traded in my Schneider for an extra Dave Christian. My dad said Christian was his favorite from the team, being the only University of North Dakota guy on Team USA, and he was thrilled when I surprised him with an autographed 8x10 from the former Sioux winger. I kept the Broten, though, upgraded it to a "deluxe" and got this jersey signed by him. I had wanted this item ever since I first saw him back in 2014. When I arrived at that one, they had already sold out of his USA jerseys, so I am happy to finally be adding this one to my collection, at long last.

Lastly, I purchased an extra ticket for Mark Pavelich and had him sign an 8x10. The former center has become quite elusive, and is the toughest autograph to get from the team. In fact, there were quite a few people with items containing 19 signatures on it that just needed his. He is a very private guy, who turns away from any kind of spotlight, so I had to get an extra item of his, since there is a good chance I will never have another chance to do so.

The weekend was definitely a fun one. the wife and I were able to spend the day with just the two of us, she got some shopping done, and I got some ink done (of the blue Sharpie variety). Of course, I love getting autographs whenever I can, but when I can get some from some people who were a part of the greatest moment in American sports history, it's always a great day.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 4-8-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending April 8, 2017:

Brooks Robinson

Greg Zanon

Jeanmar Gomez

Sunday, April 2, 2017

TTM Return from Eric Staal

This one was a bit of a longshot, but I decided to take it and it paid off.

Eric Staal signed with the Minnesota Wild in the off-season, and has become a big part of one of the best seasons in franchise history. He is also in two of the autographed sets I am collecting: 2012-13 Score and 2014-15 Ultra. He actually did a public signing earlier this year, but unfortunately, I was working that night and had to miss it. Despite him not having a return recorded on since 2012 (apart from one success to a Canadian residential address), I decided to try my chances and send to him c/o the Wild.

Well, my luck was good, and I received all three cards back from him, signed in black, in just 63 days.

It just goes to show, sometimes it pays to just take a chance.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mikko Koivu & Mikael Granlund Autograph Signing

I'm not able to make most of the autograph signings taking place in the Minneapolis area, but I do like to make a few. I usually am able to make a couple of year, but there had to be a good enough guest for me to justify to my wife that it is worth making the three-and-a-half-hour trip from Moorhead. Either that, or we are coincidentally in the area for another reason, and I am able to convince her that the mall hosting the signing is the one we need to be shopping at.

The most recent signing took place last week with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. The plan was for my wife & I to travel together, and our three daughters to stay at my parents' house. Unfortunately, our youngest got an ear infection and was sick all weekend, and when my dad watched her Friday night, he ended up getting sick, too. I had already bought the tickets, so I was going, which meant that I'd be traveling alone, and my wife would stay home with our three girls.

Still, I don't mind a nice, solo long-distance drive, so off I went!

Mikko Koivu is the longest-tenured player on the Minnesota Wild, and has been with the organization since being drafted sixth overall in 2001. He also became the team's first permanent captain in 2009, and has held the distinction ever since. While this is the first time I have met him in person, this is the second signing I have participated in, as I got a puck and an 8x10 through mail order at a signing he did with FanHQ last year.

Originally, I was planning on getting a jersey signed, but the funds just weren't there for me, so the plan was to get a mini helmet signed. However, when I got to the store to pick up my autograph tickets, a photo caught my eye, and I just couldn't walk away from it. It's a bird's-eye view of him taking a shot, and it works perfectly. There's action, you get a clear view of his name & number, and there's plenty of clear ice surface on the bottom for him to sign. It's a 16x20 print, and the blue ink really pops off of the ice surface.

Koivu's fellow Finnish countyman, Mikael Granlund, was also there. Like Koivu, he was an early draft pick (9th overall in 2010), and has spent his entire NHL career with the Wild organization. This season is by far his best, as her has already scored 25 goals and 41 assists, and has already demolished his previous best points total (44 last season).

With no autographs of his already, apart from a few cards that were released during his rookie sesaon. So, step 1 was getting his signature on an official game puck. For me, autographed pucks don't look any better than silver ink on an official game puck. I also got a couple of cards signed by him, for my 2013-14 Score and 2014-15 Ultra sets.

This was a fun signing, and definitely worth the trip. I even splurged on the VIP package, which not only got me a signature and a photograph from each players, but also got me in the first group through the line. Considering I had a three-and-a-half-hour drive back home. being able to head home at 7:15 from a signing that was scheduled to start at 7:00 was well worth a few extra bucks.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

TTM Returns: Week Ending 3-25-17

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending March 25, 2017:

Joe Musgrove

Silvino Bracho