Thursday, April 29, 2021

Mark Prior Private Signing

I got a nice surprise a couple months ago, when a good friend of mine who puts together private signings with former pro athletes announced he would be doing one with former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior. 

Being as big of a Cubs fan as I am, I had to take part in this one, as Prior was a huge part of am incredible starting rotation for the team in the early/mid 2000s. He came into the league as one of the most prized prospects of the time period. Unfortunately, elbow problems would derail his career, and he would never live up to the potential that he came into the league with. He did make the All-Star team in 2003, and pitched seven scoreless innings in the ill-fated Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS before things started to unravel in an epic fashion one out into the 8th. He never made it to the World Series as a plyer, but did get a championship ring in 2020 as the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While I usually don't go too overboard with these, I made an exception with Prior and went all-in. Part of it was supporting a friend's business, and part of it was just that I wanted all this stuff anyway.

The main item the I wanted was a jersey. if nothing else, I was going to get that much at least. I found a good deal on Ebay, and had him sign the second 2 with a bold silver paint pen. The signature takes up almost the entire width of the number, which is great, and really stands out. The signature can be seen well from a distance, which is what you want with something like this. I really needed a Cubs jersey to add to my jersey wall, and this is a perfect addition 

Of course, to go along with the jersey, I had to get a ball done. I thought about an inscription, but couldn't come up with a good one. Considering how much potential he had, notating just one All Star appearance, I felt, would understate how big of a deal he was at the time. I went with just the signature, which still looks great.

I also picked up a couple signed photos. There were three to pick from. I really liked a posed studio picture that was available, but I also wanted an action shot of him pitching. I couldn't decide between the two, so I got both.

Lastly, I also got a couple cards done. I really like getting the artistic, painted cards done, and there have been a few great-looking releases recently. I probably should have gotten one of his 2006 Allen & Ginter cards, but by the time I decided to get a couple cards done, there wasn't enough time to order one that I could receive, and then ship off for the signing. Still the Topps 206 and Diamond Kings cards I got done look great!

Well, that's it. I decided to stop at 6, because, you know, moderation. It's really great to add so many items of his to my collection, and here's a look at my updated jersey wall.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Private Signings for my 1989 Topps Set

While TTM has been the way to go for me in my set collecting goals, every now and then, I get an opportunity to get some cards signed from some tough-to-get signers. Of course, a lot of these instances happen through private signings. A good friend of mine put a couple together recently, that I was able to utilize for my 1989 Topps set, so I was sure to take advantage of it.

For Dave Magadan, I got my Topps card done, as well as one for my 1987 Donruss set. Also, since he spent a short time (1 season) with the Cubs, I had to also get a photo of him signed from that time period.

I also got a Topps card signed by former Mariners pitcher Mike Jackson. 

The Topps set is a long one, and one I will likely never complete, but it has so far been a fun project to work on.

Monday, April 26, 2021

TTM Returns: Week Ending 4-24-21

Here's a quick look at my TTM returns for the Week Ending April 24, 2021:

Dave Goltz: 6 days, home address

Rick Cerone: 8 days, home address

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Pretty Much the Coolest Bobblehead Ever

I'm not much of a bobblehead collector, at all. Of the three I had up until today, all three were acquired as a free giveaway at a baseball or a hockey game. I understand the appeal of them, but it was just never a route that I ever took in pursuing a collection. However, the fine folks at FanHQ ended up convincing me to open my wallet for a bobblehead for the first time ever. 

This past winter, they decided to immortalize, in bobblehead form, an iconic image of former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly that depicts him using a pitching machine in the Metrodome, also while wearing Zubaz, and also while smoking a cigar. 

The image was incredibly popular for FanHQ whenever Kelly did a signing with them, as the novelty of the elements contained combined with the absurdity of it, when being looked at through the lense of 2021, drew the attention of collectors. Of course, I had to pick up an 8x10 (pictured above), but, man, the idea of such a novelty being transformed in to a bobblehead was too good to pass up.

FanHQ stared taking preorders back in December, and as soon as I could. Since it was a preorder, so I knew there would be a wait for these to first, be produced, and second, arranged for them to be signed, but sure enough, they made their way to Kelly to sign earlier this month, and made its way to my doorstep today!

What I was really impressed with here was the sheer attention to detail. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into recreating the multi-colored crazy-striped look of the Zubaz pants that were popularized in the early 90s. The giant-sized head has the typical spring-loaded, bobble, complete with cigar, plus a light, cottony material to resemble the smoke. They also recreated the pitching machine in true-to-form detail, and included movable parts, with rotating wheels. Lastly, is the addition of the "bobblehand." Not only does his head move, but his right hand holding the baseball in the air has a small spring attached to it, giving it just a little extra movement.

The nice thing about when these items are designed by fellow collectors, is not only that extra attention to detail that I mentioned, but the available space for ink. While many people enjoy getting a signed bobblehead, many of them have to be signed in a less-than-optimal spot, like my Matt Cullen that had to be signed on its back. FanHQ was smart with this one, in that they created a placard for the front with the Zubaz logo that could be reversed to a blank white surface that would prominently and boldly display a signature. Tom Kelly has a great-looking signature, and I'm happy that this was done in blue, to make it stand out even more.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

TTM Returns: Week Ending 4-17-21

Now that I've gotten back into the TTM game, my mailbox has been filling up again! Here's a qyuck look at the cards I got back in the mail this week:

Ryan Wing - 9 days, home address

(2005 Donruss Champions is a set that almost looks like it was designed to be signed. There is all that open space on the right side of the card, and as you can see, it looks phenomenal when signed in blue. I might have to look for a set of these, and start sending them out. A great-looking TTM set, for sure.)

Matt Downs - 9 days, home address

Stu Cliburn - 11 days, home address

Sherman Corbett - 22 days, home address

Mark Wagner - 10 days, home address

George Canale - 23 days, c/o Canale's Ham & BBQ

Pat Combs - 20 days, home address

Don Hood - 14 days, home address

Friday, April 16, 2021

Diamondbacks Team-Issued Jersey

 My family and I made our annual Spring Break trip to Arizona last month, and got there just in time for the close of Spring training. Usually, we are sure to hit a couple Cubs games, but with Covid protocols and limited seating, Cubs tickets were through the roof. Every game was sold out, and on the secondary market, tickets were going for around $200 a piece. So, that was out of the question, but we were able to get tickets to the Spring Training finale for the Arizona Diamondbacks for a much more reasonable price.

The Diamondbacks usually play their Spring games at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, but for this game, they went to their regular season home of Chase Field! Now, being short on D-Backs gear, I made the stop to the team shop, but then I struck gold when I visited D-Backs Authentics. That store in Chase Field deals exclusively in game-used memorabilia, including jersey, balls, helmets, hats, and all sorts of other authentic souvenirs. 

Most of the jerseys were being sold for a hefty price tag, but there were a few that were beyond reasonable. These, for some reason, included a player's name on the back, but no number. I asked the store attendant what the story was with these, and he said usually this is a result of a jersey being made ahead of time for a player they anticipate calling up, but that person never gets the call, and therefore, never selects a number. 

The best part about these jerseys, though is the price. $50. Seriously. FIFTY DOLLARS!!! It is still a 100% authentic jersey, with the fully-sewn on patches for the logo, as well as the shoulder patches that don't get included on the replica models. These normally retail for somewhere in the $300 range, but since a name has already been sewn on the back and they don't want to reuse it, $50.

I ended up selecting my jersey purely based on what size would fit me and went with a home jersey originally made for pitcher Joey Krehbiel in the 2019 season. He made his MLB debut the year before, pitching a combined 3 innings over a span of two games. The Diamondbacks had high hopes for him the following season, but he struggled in the minors, and never made it back to the Major League team. He spent the 2020 season with the Minnesota Twins' organization, and signed a Minor-League deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2021 season.

Anyway, here's a few photos of the jersey, I tried to get a close look at all of the patches, showing the intricacy of some of these. I love the snake logo on the left shoulder, and the MLB 150 patch on the right shoulder is a unique touch exclusive to 2019.