Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Autographed 8x10s of Damian Jackson and Eric Plunk

It's amazing how sometimes you don't realize that some of your college buddies are into the same stuff as you until long after you both have graduated and moved on to completely different parts of the county. My friend Darrell, apparently is also an autograph collector, and even runs a small business called Halkman Sports, setting up private autograph signings with athletes and celebrities. A couple weeks ago, he traveled to San Diego for private signings with former MLB-ers Damian Jackson and Eric Plunk, and sent an 8x10 of each of them my way at a very reasonable price.

Damian Jackson had an 11-year career in the majors, with eight different teams. His longest stay with any franchise was with the San Diego Padres, where he played from 1999-2001, and then again in 2004. I was very fortunate that a photo was available of him in a Chicago Cubs uniform, as he played only seven games for them in the 2004 season, before being traded to the Kansas City Royals.

Eric Plunk spent 14 years in the majors, with the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Milwaukee Brewers. One thing Plunk is notable for is being traded for Rickey Henderson...twice. The first time came in 1984 as a minor leaguer when he and four others were sent from the Yankees to the A's, and the second time came in 1989, when he was sent back to the Yankees with two others for Henderson. He also pitched in two World Series games, in 1988 with Oakland and 1997 with Cleveland.

I'm very happy to be adding these to my collection. I know they aren't the biggest names, but for $15 shipped, I just couldn't resist a deal! If anyone else is interested in checking out what else is coming up for private signings, visit

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jason Zucker Autographed Puck

Now that I'm starting to get more into the autographed memorabilia game, my radar has become more finely tuned to pick up on various opportunities in my area. One such opportunity came last Saturday, when Jason Zucker was doing a signing at AME Sports in Roseville, MN.  There were two problems, though. For one, Roseville is a suburb of Minneapolis, and about a four-hour drive, and not only that, but I had to work that day anyway. Luckily, they were willing to process orders through the mail, provided that you sent your item in, and included the $10 autograph fee, as well as return shipping. I had a Wild puck in my possession already, so I sent it in, along with the required fees & return postage, and today, I received it in the mail.

The puck is one of the official game ones (not game-used, though), which gives is a decent amount of black space. Zucker used either a silver paint pen or a silver Sharpie, which stands out great on top of the background. Also, he may not have a legible signature, but it is distinctive, and he did manage to fill the space with it.

I first visited AME Sports last spring, when my wife & I were on our way back home from the Wild/Penguins game. I purchased a few puck cases then, but this is my first autograph purchase from them. Their customer service was great. I did most of my correspondence through their Facebook page, and all of my questions were answered promptly. I also liked the fact that the price you pay by sending your stuff through the mail is the exact same as you would pay if you were there in person.

I'll be heading up to AME on the 20th of this month for their 1st Annual Minnesota Sports Holiday Show, where they have Minnesota athletes from hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and boxing. There will definitely be a major haul for me to show of at the end of that day, and I will certainly be posting the photos as soon as I am able to.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Brandon Tripp Game Used Bat

The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks had their annual Christmas Sale Thursday, where they began selling tickets for the season opener, so naturally, I had to stop by and see if anything caught my eye. I did end up buying two tickets, and was even able to get them right on the front row, which should be really cool.

In addition to the typical souvenir shop goods, the Redhawks also sell certain game used items at a pretty decent price. The most common items are bats, balls, and jerseys, but for the first time yesterday, I actually saw a game used batting helmet for sale. I was very tempted to purchase it and get it autographed this season, but the problem was, it was smothered in pine tar and dirt, to the point where you couldn't really see the logo, and there wasn't any clear space on the brim for the signature. If it's still there when the season begins, maybe I'll end up picking it up, but I decided to pass on it for now.

What I did end up purchasing, though, was a bat. Last year, I ended up purchasing a cracked bat of Nic Jackson at the season opener and set out on a mission to get it signed, which I did. This year, my goal will be for outfielder Brandon Tripp, of whom I picked up a cracked, yet very much intact, bat. Tripp came to the Redhawks during the 2014 season in a trade with the St. Paul Saints, hitting .263, with 42 hits, 5 home runs and 25 RBIs.

The autograph will actually be a pretty easy task. The Redhawks usually have some sort of gimmick every game, corresponding to the particular day that a game is played. One of those days has post-game autograph signings, so I'll have the perfect opportunity, along with plenty of photos to share.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hockey IPs

As a follow-up to my last post about my in-person baseball autographs, here's a quick look at the various in-person autographs I have been able to get my hands on, either on my own or through trades. I have already posted on a few of these, but seeing as how I'm still getting my new blog caught up to where I am now, I'm just going to list them all.

Matt Cullen

Matt Cooke

Wes Walz

All of the following have been acquired through trades:

Marc-Andre Fleury

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jordan Staal

Jordan Staal

Chris Kunitz

James Neal

Ben Lovejoy

Jeremy Roenick

Dion Phaneuf

Glenn Healy
Corey Hirsch

I think that pretty much gets me caught up. Now I can finally put together some real-time posts, and I'm going to be having quite a few at the end of the month, so you all have that to look forward to you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Autographed Baseballs & Cards from Various Baseball Games

I went to quite a few baseball games growing up, mostly in Houston at the Astrodome/Enron Field/Minute Maid Park, with a few games in a couple other cities. One of my favorite things to do, in fact, something I insisted on doing when we went to a game, was to arrive at the stadium as the gates open and do some autograph hunting.

My main stakeout point was always right next to the visitors dugout, since the crowd was about 25% of the crowd surrounding the home team's dugout. With the occasional exception, you could usually depend on at least a few players stopping by after they finished warming up. Now, it ended up being a crapshoot as far as if your position was in the player's path down the line, but the odds were in your favor of usually getting at least one.

I tried my best to bring one card of each player on the visiting team, but just in case I either didn't have a card of the player, or I couldn't identify the player in time to access his card, I brought a few baseballs along. Here's a quick look at the autographed baseballs I obtained in person at baseball games over the years.

Billy Wagner

Jose Cruz

Brandon Puffer

Luis Gonzalez & Scott Servais (front)

 Luis Gonzalez & Scott Servais (back)

 John Hudek

Bobby Hill

Shane Andrews & Darren Fletcher

It is kind of funny how as a kid, I always thought it was much cooler to get a card autographed than a baseball. I guess being able to pull autographs out of packs and being able to purchase them so cheaply on-line has dampened that a little bit, as 20 years later, I am now MUCH more interested in getting a baseball signed in person than a card. That being said, here are the cards I was able to get signed before various games.

Mark Grace

Sammy Sosa

Luis Gonzalez

Cliff Floyd

Darrin Fletcher

Moises Alou

Bob Tewksbury

Sawyer Carroll

Justin Erasmus

C.J. Retherford

Petey Paramore

Nic Jackson

These are some IP cards that I didn't get signed myself, but obtained through trades:

Mark Grace

Jerome Walton

Greg Maddux

Dick Tidrow

That's it as far as what I have so far, but trust me, though, there will be a lot more to come.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mark Eaton Autographed Card

This is a card that actually comes from my very first in-person autograph signing. My family was living in Billings, Montana back in 1991, and as far as sports go, we were pretty isolated.  The closest anything came to it in the year we lived there, was when Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton came to a local sporting goods store for an autograph signing.

All I had was a 1990 Fleer card of Eaton's, so we made the short trip to the signing, where I got to meet him. I don't remember a whole lot about the experience, but it is one of the items that really kicked off my going-on-20-years hobby.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Craig Biggio Autographed Card

Here's an in-person card I've had for quite a long time. In the early '90s, when I was living in Houston, my dad took me every year to this big card show in Houston. It wasn't quite as large-scale as "The National," but it was pretty close. A massive convention hall was filled with dealers, and there were plenty of autograph guests, and there I was at 12 or 13, with a very limited budget. 

I did have a local card shop that my dad would drive me to every now and then, so I didn't want to spend it all on packs. What I did decide to throw down some money one, however, was an autograph. I was pretty young at the time & didn't really understand too many of the nuances of the game, but there was one player from the Astros there, who I understood to be a good player: Craig Biggio.

While I know that I did get the card signed in person, and I do remember specifically purchasing this 1992 Topps Gold card specifically for this purpose, I don't remember a single thing about my interaction with Biggio. I'm sure me, being a shy, awkward pre-teen walked up to the table and said "Hello," asked him to please sign my card, and then thanked him before walking off. I'm sure he was extremely nice and had a big smile on his face, because that's who he is, and that's what he does. I just can't remember it for sure.

I also ended up purchasing a small plaque to hold the card. Even back then, I wanted to proudly display my unique piece of athlete interaction. I guess there are some things that don't even change 20 years down the line.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Matt Cullen Autographed Card and Bobblehead

In the Fargo-Moorhead area, we don't have a whole lot of professional athletes to come out of the region, but we do have a few. The most famous, of course, is Roger Maris, who broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record in 1961.We also have Matt Cullen of the Nashville Predators, who was raised in Moorhead, MN. While he may not carry the legendary credentials of Maris, Cullen has put together an impressive NHL career, he has scored 212 goals and 389 assists over his 16 years in the league, along with a Stanley Cup victory in 2006, with the Carolina Hurricanes.

He tends to stay out of the spotlight when at home during the off-season, but there are occasional autograph opportunities that I have been able to take advantage of in years past. My first encounter was at a celebrity golf tournament in the late 90s. I knew he would be there, and at the time, being the only hockey player attending, he was really the only one I went after. We were living in Texas at the time, and I didn't bring anything up with me, but I was able to get my hands on a team set of hockey cards, which would give me a card of Cullen's.

The second occurrence actually took place at a baseball game. Back in 2007, again, when we were visiting family up here, the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the Northern Baseball League had a themed "Hockey Night." Cullen was there to throw out the first pitch, which he did by shooting it into a net with a hockey stick, a goal horn was sounded for every Redhawks run, and all sorts of fans came to the game wearing hockey sweaters. After the pre-game ceremonies, which had Cullen and his wife talk to the fans about Cully's Kids, their charity which provides financial resources to children's health care organizations, primarily those dealing with cancer, Cullen made himself available to sign autographs in the concession area. Like before, I hadn't brought any Matt Cullen items with me on my trip, but luckily, they were giving out bobbleheads at the gate, which gave me a great item for him to sign. The bobblehead features Cullen in his Moorhead Spuds hockey gear, where he played high school hockey.

Cullen still resides in Moorhead during the off-season, so I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities in the future. I just need to get my hands on a Cullen Minnesota Wild jersey, so that I will finally be prepared for when another opportunity comes my way.