Saturday, December 15, 2018

Justin Morneau Winter Warm-Up Coat Drive (Part 1)

Every year, FanHQ, a memorabilia store in the Minneapolis area, hosts a coat drive, featuring 2006 AL MVP and former Minnesota Twin, Justin Morneau. Shawn, the owner of FanHQ and Morneau have become good friends over the years, and the two get together for a coat drive to benefit the Salvation Army every fall.

In past years, you were able to donate three winter jackets, and in return, get an in-person autograph on the item of your choosing. Those who couldn't get three together, or couldn't attend the event, could donate one coat in exchange for an 8x10 of Morneau that he signed ahead of time. This would be the ninth year of the annual coat drive, and this year, they really stepped things up. The number was moved up to five, but in return, you would not only get an autograph from Morneau, but also fellow retired Twins, Joe Mauer and Corey Koskie!

I was getting super excited for the event, and began to get my coats together, ready to bring them up for the Dec. 1 event, but three weeks ahead of time, FanHQ posted on their Facebook page, that all 200 of their autograph tickets had been claimed. I was a little down, as I was really looking forward to such a great opportunity. My luck would change, though, as the very next day, they announced, that all three parties had agreed to do 22 more, and that they would be made available the next day when the store opened. I knew what I had to do.

I told my wife that I would be driving to Minneapolis and back the next morning (7 hours round trip), and surprisingly, she didn't give me any pushback on it. It would be a big trip to have to essentially make twice, but getting those players on some premium items at a great price was too good an opportunity to pass up.

I left my house at 6 a.m. and got there at 9:30. I was the sixth person in-line, so I was definitely getting a ticket. I had six coats in total, which gave me the autograph ticket for the event, as well as a signed Morneau 8x10.

Now, I never like to leave without spending a little money, so I picked up two of their mystery packages. I got one baseball and one hockey puck. Basically, each sealed box comes with one signed item, which is a mystery until it is opened. My baseball was of former Twins pitcher Brandon Kintzler, who is now playing for my Chicago Cubs! The puck was of Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. I already have a Suter puck, but it's on an official game puck, so even though I already have this player, at least it's on a different design.

Lastly, I also put in for a new concept they are doing with some of their surplus items: a multi-sport jersey draft. Essentially, 15 spots are open for a set price. When all of those spots are filled, names are drawn for the order, and then each person picks which one they want. There were four that I really wanted, and as luck would have it, I was selected to pick fourth. I ended up with an authentic model Twins jersey signed my 1987 World Series Champ Gary Gaetti. I was already home when the draft took place, so I would have to pick it up on the day of the coat drive signing. I'll share pictures of it when I post on that, but it looks amazing!

Well, my next post will be on the event itself. It ended up being a lot of fun, and I really came back with some spectacular additions to my collection.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Recent TTM Returns

Well, I haven't really posted any TTM returns in a while, but then again, I haven't really sent out too many in a while. Anyway, here's the few I have gotten recently, most of which, had been out for quite a while before a surprise return:

Keith Tkachuk

Jamie Moyer

Mikw Capel

Peter Lappin

Jordan Weal

Anthony Stolarz

Monday, May 14, 2018

TTM Returns from the Past Few Weeks

Here's a quick look at a few TTM returns I've gotten over the past few weeks:

Rob Manfred

Rod Langway

Adam Henrique

Terry Adams

Brad Mills

Devin Shore

Petr Mrazek

Peter Ing

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Ross Mitton Signed Line-Up Card and Puck

I haven't been to NEARLY enough Fargo Force games this season as I have in the past, mostly because the weekends I am on the schedule to work are also the weekends they happen to be playing their home games. I was finally able to attend one a couple weeks ago, and brought my three girls along for a fun evening of hockey action.

There was something for everyone. I got to watch a great game, and since it was "Character Night," and the special guest was Moana, there was something for my girls, too. The game was a great one, as the Force won 3-1. After each home game, they have one featured player signing autographs for the fans, and I'm always sure to stay for that.

This game featured forward Ross Mitton, who has scored two goals and six assists in 26 games this season. I had him sign a line-up card and puck. The lime-up card came out great, but unfortunately, they didn't provide him with a silver marker, so he had to use a black Sharpie on the puck. Lesson learned for next time.

It's always a great day for hockey, especially when I can enjoy the game with my girls. (Well, at least as much of the game as I can see when we aren't taking bathroom breaks, picking up snacks, or playing at the playground area.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Recent TTM Successes

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns over the last month or so:

Matt Clement

Jack Swagger

Jared Spurgeon

Manny Trillo

Doug Bird

Tim Blackwell

Ray Whitney

Roosevelt Brown

Jim Bullinger

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Felipe Lopez Signed Game-Worn Jersey

In my previous post about a few private signings that I got baseballs from, I made reference to one more item that I got from Felipe Lopez. Well, here it is.

This jersey is game-worn and is from his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. He had two short stints with the team, playing 66 games for them in 2006, and finished his career with them in 2011 with 16 games. His partial season in '06 was actually pretty good, as he batted .320 with 20 doubles and 32 RBIs before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in the off-season.

There were actually a few Lopez jerseys up for sale. In addition to this one, there was also Cardinals away, Puerto Rico WBC away, and Boston Red Sox home & red, plus a Puerto Rico WBC game-used batting helmet. I'm not a huge fan of any of the teams in particular, so I simply made my decision on what I thought would look cooler. Milwaukee home it is!

Being an owner of a couple replica MLB jerseys and a couple gamers from our local independent league team, these MLB gamers are (no pun intended) in a league of their own. Right away, from the first time I picked the jersey up, I could tell a difference. It's a thicker, stronger fabric, that feels soft, but is built for durability. There is also a separate, more ventilated fabric beneath the armpits for added comfort.

Of course, the most noticeable part of an authentic jersey is the intricate patches that are the name and numbers. The Brewers have their lettering using an off-set design of blue, on top of a white border, on top of a gold backing. The letters look great, but you can really see the colors with the larger type of the jersey number. The font they use also work out perfectly in this case. The solid block in the middle of the "3" is perfect for Lopez, whose signature is as tall as it is long.

The other patches look great, too. There is a lot of intricacy in the "Brewers" script on the front of the jersey and the number on the bottom right is a nice touch. One of the other pieces that drew me to this particular jersey was the sleeve patch of their secondary logo on the left arm. Not all teams have them, so it's definitely nice to get that little extra, especially when it looks as nice as this one does.

Lastly, are the few extra element the certify this as a top-of-the-line collectible. The first is the patch on all authentic jerseys, usually toward the bottom of the front, that certifies it as authentic. That is on the gamers, as well, as store-bought jerseys. What makes this one stand out as a game-used item, is the patch on the collar reading "09 LOPEZ 48 2022." From what I can tell the "09" is from the year he wore this and the "48" is the size, but I'm not sure what the "2022" is for.

I was very happy to have this item added to my collection, as the Brewers make some great looking jerseys. Not sure if I'll be adding any more any time soon, but I will say, my curiosity has definitely been peaked.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

TTM Returns: Week Ending 2-10-18

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending February 10, 2018:

Dan Plesac

Joe Borowski

Shawn Boskie

Mitch Haniger

Saturday, February 3, 2018

TTM Returns: Week Ending 2-3-18

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the week ending February 3, 2018:

Donnie Dewees

Greg Adams

John Tudor

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Baseballs from a Few Private Signings

I just added a few more baseballs to my collection courtesy of my good friend Darrell, who runs a number of private signings throughout the year, at Halkman Sports.

It all started with a Roy Oswalt signing that took place last Summer. I was excited to find out that Darrell was putting together a signing with him. I grew up in the Houston area, and he was one of my favorite Astros of the 2000s. He was a big part of the Astros' run to the World Series in 2005, and was named the NLCS MVP. I sent in a 2011 Heritage card to be signed and ordered a baseball, as well. The card came back soon after the signing, but due to the confusion of different orders being submitted at different times, the ball did not arrive with it. I'm good friends with Darrel, and trust him completely, so I knew it would make it's way eventually. After a few messages back and forth, I finally got the ball in the mail to go with the card I got earlier.

It took longer then expected, but like I said, that was ok. I knew it would be on the way before too long, so I was patient. Still, Darrell felt bad for the wait, and sent me another ball to go along with it, free of charge! This one is from a signing he did last year with former Major League outfielder Jacque Jones. It is absolutely perfect for me, as I am a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, and live in Minnesota, and Jones played all but one season on his MLB career with either of those two teams.

Lastly, is another throw-in from Darrell's most recent signing, with former Major League shortstop Felip Lopez. He was quite the journeyman, playing for eight different teams (including two stops in St. Louis and Milwaukee) during his 11-year career. His longest tenure with a team is three years with the Cincinnati Reds, which included his best season, when he made the 2005 All-Star Team. Of course, I had to get a ball with that inscription, which always makes it look better.

Speaking of Felipe Lopez. there is one more item of his that I have to show off. In fact, it was the item that actually sparked the initial exchange that resulted in this delivery, but that will have to wait for another day.

Monday, January 29, 2018

2018 Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan

It seems like every year in the past, my work schedule has gotten in the way, but I finally made it this year to the 2018 Twins Winter Caravan when it made its stop in Fargo last week. The caravan travels around the state of Minnesota (and a few places in neighboring state), visiting schools, hospitals and businesses, finishing off each day with an open-to-the-public program that night.

Our night began with a "traditional ballpark meal," consisting of a hot dog, some chips, and a soda. There was also beer that could be purchased, which I did, since that it MY "traditional ballpark meal." After that, the event began with some local introductions, and some announcements centered around the event's $5,000 donations each to the Moorhead Crush Softball organization to help with field maintenance, and Fargo Park Service to be used for their baseball programs.

Then came the guests of honor. There are a few different groups, usually consisting of one or two current Twins players and one retired player. Our event was with Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven and current relief pitchers Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers. There was a Q&A session with the audience, followed by some door prizes (I didn't with anything), and when the event reached its conclusion, the guests headed over to some tables for an autograph session.

Bert Blyleven was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, in his 14th year of elligibility. He finishhed his career with 3,701 strikeouts, and until his long-overdue induction, was the only ember of the 3,000 strikeout club at that time who was not in the Hall of Fame. He has somewhat of a reputation for being difficult at free signings, so when I saw that he was actually signing the sweet spot on my ball, and not side-panelling it, I was thrilled, as it would fit right in with my other signed balls from Hall-of-Famers.

Trevor Hildenberger is a side-arm relief pitcher who spent half of the 2017 season in the Majors. He told the story of developing into a side-arm pitcher, when he had trouble with his speed in college and had trouble seeing any in-game action. His coach suggested a side-arm style, and he was able to change up his game, give his team something unique, and eventually made it all the way to the show. He signed a ball and an 8x10 for me, and I must say, he has one of the best autographs of anu current player. Despite having one of the longest names in the majors, you can practically read every single letter.

Taylor Rogers is getting ready to enter his third season in the Twins' bullpen. He has the ability to turn things around for the team, as he has compiled a 10-4 record, despite typically only making short appearances. He signed a ball and an 8x10 photo for me. His autograph might not be quite as nice as Hildenberger's but it still looks great on the sweet spot of a baseball.

I was so happy that I was able to make it to one of these events. I was able to add another signed baseball of a Hall of Famer to my collection (I am up to 10 now), plus I got to meet a couple of up-and-comers who can continue to make a big difference for a really good Minnesota Twins team.