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.