Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cardinals Winter Warm Up Day 1

After the disappointing news that the Cardinals cancelled their Caravan stops on Friday and Saturday and day 1 of the Winter Warm Up (WWU), my son and I had our hopes up that Sunday and Monday would still happen.  The Cardinals sent an email out late Saturday afternoon confirming both days will go as planned.  I almost left right away because there was another round of freezing rain moving through the area early Sunday morning, but decided to take my chances with leaving on Sunday morning.  Doors opened at 9, but we did not have to be there until 2:00 for our first paid autograph signing so I left at 8:00 in the morning.  The trip took the usual 2 hours 15 minutes as we only rain into some light rain. 

We picked up our autograph tickets from will call upon arrival, then had to buy an admission pass for my son.  Adult passes were $40, children under 15 are $10.  I bought my pass off EBAY for $28, but did not have any luck finding a cheaper child's pass.  Our first stop was the kid's game room.  I let my son play some games for about 45 minutes where he won some decent prizes including 2 tshirts, a Matt Carpenter kids jersey, a Fredbird metal lunchbox, and a green Cardinals hat.  From there it was off to the vendor's area.  I was very disappointed with the lack of cards this year.  One vendor had boxes and supplies, and maybe 4 or 5 had single cards that were not sorted very well or extremely overpriced.  I have a hard time paying $1 for 2016 Topps base cards.  I did purchase one baseball that I will show in a bit and a few things for Brady, but otherwise did not see anything that jumped out at me.  A lot of vendors were very upset about not being able to open on Saturday afternoon for all the people staying at the hotel who wanted to shop.  Saturday is usually the busiest day of the three at WWU, so I am sure they lost quite a few sales.

Our next stop was the free autograph line.  Tickets for players signing for free were handed out 1 hour before the signing time in the hotel lobby.  It is a strict 1 ticket per person, but you could go back through the line.  My son and I each got one ticket.

Horton was scheduled to be at the Caravan we were going to on Friday, so I had these 2 cards already to go.  He has been a free signer for the last 5 plus years.  I do prefer him as the announcer for Cardinals games on Fox Sports Midwest over Al Hrabosky.  He also does road games on the radio because Mike Shannon does not travel anymore. 

After going through Horton's line, we grabbed some lunch and headed back to the lobby for another free auto ticket.  Again we score 1 ticket each.

McClellan was a serviceable reliever from 2008-2010 for the Cardinals.  He became a starter in 2011 due to injuries to other pitchers.  Early in the season he was very good and would go on to win 12 games that year, but he wore down in the second half and was left off the postseason roster.  He would pitch parts of 2012 and 2013, but was never the same because of the strain of becoming a starter.  He remains very active in charity work in the St. Louis area.  He was our last auto of the day.

Before we got McClellan, we had 2 paid autographs to get.  Topps ran a 50% off Black Friday sale for some of their 2016 10"x14"wall art.  Knowing I would be attending the WWU, I bought my 2 favorite pictures from 2016 Stadium Club with the intent to have them signed.  I will give Topps credit for shipping them very securely.
I was too lazy to remove the Piscotty from the cardboard backing, but it is numbered 51/99 in the bottome left corner.  So close to his uniform number, but still a nice piece regardless.  I felt a little disappointed after the signing because I forgot to have him use my own blue sharpie.  Sharpies and pens are provided, but since this was a signing starting at 2:00 the sharpie was well used and streaked some.  I may still have this framed later.

Our other paid signing was also at 2:00, but we had a higher number in line so we sat in on Cardinals trivia during the wait.  I won a Cardinals hat by knowing the only Cardinals pitcher to throw 2 no hittters  (Bob Forsch).  I thought is was a regular red Cardinals hat, but it does have the fold down winter flap to cover your ears.  I see older people wearing these, so it may sit on my shelf for a few years.  A little after 3:30 we got our other paid autograph for the day. 

For some reason my camera hates baseballs.  I bought this 2016 All Star baseball in the vendor area earlier in the day.  Aledmys Diaz was named to the team as an injury replacement for Matt Carpenter.  He inscribed it First All Star Game.  I talked to quite a few people who said Diaz was around town on Saturday at the Arch, Ballpark Village, and the hotel lobby signing for fans.  In past years some players would avoid fans, but all reports said Diaz was very gracious with his time.  It will be interesting to see how he performs in 2017.  I am not sure he is a .300 hitter who will hit 20 home runs, but I would be happy with .280, 15 home runs, and better defense.

That was a wrap for day one.  There were 3 other free signers that day.  Triple A manager and former player Stubby Clapp signed before we arrived, while the tickets for 1967 pitcher Larry Jaster were gone before we made it through the line.  Todd Worrell also signed, but we were waiting for Piscotty when his tickets were handed out.  I was satisfied for the day's work knowing Monday was going to be a longer day.  More on that in the next post.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mother Nature is Not a Cardinals Fan

Martin Luther King weekend is always a big 3 days for Cardinals fans around the St. Louis region.  The Winter Warm Up (WWU for short) is the Cardinals version of a fan fest.  Starting in 1996, the Cardinals host a 3 day gathering where fans can get autographs from players, bid on various memorabilia in silent and live auctions, or browse the many vendors with baseball cards.  The Cardinals also have traveling Caravans during this weekend where a handful of current and former players travel to different cities for a short presentation followed up by an autograph session for kids. 

My family has been going to caravans since 2010 and the WWU since 2011.  We usually go the the caravan held in Champaign, IL.  It is a 2 hour drive, but it is held on a Friday afternoon when the crowd is small.  It is a free event and the kids can usually take a picture with the players.  We have met Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, and Carlos Martinez at the caravans over the years.  This year Kolten Wong is scheduled to be at the Champaign stop starting at noon today.

If you are following the weather around St. Louis, there is a major ice storm expected this weekend.  With that in mind, the Cardinals cancelled all caravan stops for today and tomorrow.  I cannot blame them.  Snow is not bad to drive in, but ice is so unpredictable.  Needless to say my 8 year old son was not too thrilled to be going to school today instead of meeting Wong.  It was also announced this morning that day 1 of the WWU on Saturday is cancelled.  We had not planned on going until Sunday and Monday, so there is still some hope.  The ice/rain is expected to stop Sunday morning with temperatures rising during the day.  I have 2 autograph tickets for signings from 2-4, so my son's weekend may not be completely ruined. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Brady Hits Me Again

Last week I finished up my posts highlighting a large flat rate priority box full of Cardinals that Brady from St. Louis Cardinals Cardboard sent me around Thanksgiving.  It was the largest amount of cards I have ever received at one time.  While it was a time consuming venture, I had a lot of fun sorting the cards and finding out a lot about 1950s and 1960s cards. 

About the second week in December I received another box from Brady.  This one was about a 300-400 count box, but once again stuffed full of Cardinals.  This one did not take me near as long to go through, but it was just as fun.

This box had a large stack of McGwire base cards.  I think he must of had 2 or 3 cards in every set from 1998-2002.  The 1998 Topps Gold Label Class 1 is my favorite, but the 2001 Leaf Limited is a close second. 

Albert Pujols was also well represented.  I was glad to cross off the 2004 Topps card with Ichiro from my wantlist.  I have a habit of overlooking multi player cards on my checklists. 

There was also a nice handful of inserts of both former Cardinals first basemen.  I love the cartoon look of the 2002 Fleer Tradition Heads Up McGwire.  Look at the size of that bat.

There was a huge stack of minis from 2013-2015.  The Jay and Motte cards have the Allen & Ginter back.  The regular Slaughter is my favorite of this bunch.  I am a sucker for retro uniforms.

This is a good start to a 2014 Ginter mini set.  I received 2 Shelby Millers, the regular and the A&G back.  A lot of pitchers here to go along with the Man.

I am not sure why Topps feels the need to include minis in Allen & Ginter and Gypsy Queen.  I guess they can produce more cards without changing the photos.  The Ozzie Smith is my favorite of these 2014 cards.  If you look closely you can see the lack of batting gloves.

Matt Carpenter has been called a throwback player for his lack of batting gloves.  I have read he uses super glue to keep his hands together during the long season.  Gloves make more sense to me.  These 3 minis are from 2015. 

The big hits from the box include these 2 autos.  Jordan Swagerty was a reliever who looked to be on the fast track to the Cardinals bullpen before Tommy John surgery in 2014.  The Cardinals released him in early 2015.  I am uncertain if he signed with another team or is out of baseball now.   Marco Gonzales is a former first round pick who had his own TJ surgery last year.  I hope he can come back and at least be a serviceable reliever this year.  He is still young and left handed so he should be able to stick somewhere if the Cardinals let him go.  I see Piscotty making his first All Star team in the near future.  Soon he will overtake Matt Carpenter as the Cardinals best position player.

Thanks again to Brady for some wonderful Card.  I hope I can start to repay him this month.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Snow is Finished Here

If you have followed the weather in the East the last few days, you know it has snowed a lot out there.  It did snow about 3 inches here on Thursday, but it did not change much in my daily routine.  All schools ran on a normal schedule.  My job in the concrete business was slow on Friday, but that happens this time of year.  My house did receive another dusting of snow on Saturday.

I received a trade package from a Bench member that finished my 2016 Topps Holiday team set.  I almost had to look twice to see the snow on the Martinez card. 

These 2013 Topps Update Wal Mart blue cards remind me of how cold it has been.  The temp has been below 20 degrees for 4 straight days.  Of course it is going to be 50 degrees later this week for 2 or 3 days.  Got to love the winter weather in Illinois.

Panini has done well the last few years with sets that highlight retired players.  The 2012 Cooperstown set notes the year each player was elected to the Hall of Fame.  It would look a little better if the year was not separated at the top, but they are still nice cards.

I was surprised I did not have this 2016 Topps Ozzie insert.  I do not do a good job of keeping track of inserts that I need.  Maybe that should be a goal for 2017.

Rounding out the trade package is this 2016 Bowman Platinum Top Prospects Alex Reyes card.  He should be a front runner for 2016 Rookie of the Year.  The Cardinals must have had a close watch on his innings count in 2016.  He is still classified as a rookie by 4 innings.  If he limit his walks, he should be a solid starter.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Did You Know Today is a National Holiday?

My son can home from school yesterday with a folder he received in class that was full of birthday wishes.  His birthday is not until July 7th, so I asked him to explain why he was celebrating.  I was informed anyone who has a birthday during summer break gets to celebrate their 1/2 birthday.  In my son's case, he is 8 and 1/2 today. 

This got me thinking of all the  so called holidays that are made up to celebrate something.  I am sure you have heard of Boss's Day or Secretaries Day.  Most card collectors have heard of National Card Trading Day, although I am not for sure if it is always celebrated on a formal date.  There is another holiday celebrated today that some collectors may also be interested in:  National Bobblehead Day.  Not one to miss a celebration, I thought I would show off a few of mine.

This is the first bobblehead I ever received.  It was a Cardinals stadium give away in 2002 to celebrate Albert Pujols winning the Rookie of the Year in 2001.  I believe this was the third year the Cardinals gave away bobbleheads at games.  During the first few years, they would give away 2 per year to the first 20,000 fans of any age.  Now they have 4-5 bobblehead days each year for 25,000 fans 16 years and older.

This Bob Gibson was a Busch Stadium give away in 2004.  It was the first retired player the Cardinals featured on a SGA bobblehead. 

Minor league teams also give away their fair share of bobbleheads.  The Springfield Cardinals gave away 2,500 of these Matt Adams bobbleheads in 2012 to celebrate his 2011 Texas League Player of the Year award.  I drove almost 6 hours to attend the game to receive this and snag some in person autos.  I have a very understanding wife who is also a baseball fan.

I have a very soft spot for the members of the 1985 Cardinals.  Ozzie Smith was a big part of that club.  This was a SGA bobblehead in 2013 to celebrate Smith winning 13 Gold Gloves from 1980-1992.  It is hard to see but all the gloves are dates.  Hard to beat the vintage baby blue uniform.

I showed this one before, but it is a dual bobblehead of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright celebrating the last out of the 2006 World Series.  It was given away in June 2016, but I bought it at a card show.  I am eager to see what this year's dual bobblehead of Matt Carpenter and Carlos Martinez will look like.  My guess it will have something to do with Martinez throwing a cup of water on Carpenter after he hits a home run. 

I have 22 full sized bobbleheads, and another 10 mini bobbleheads.  I need to get another shelf or cabinet to display them.  11 of them are shown in my blog's title bar.  I have another shelf with 7 of them, while the last 4 and all the minis are still in boxes.  I guess that is a good problem to have.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I Spent $8 on a Milt Thompson Card

You be reading the title of this post and be thinking who is Milt Thompson and why would someone who is not related to him spend $8 for his baseball card. Thompson was drafted in the 1979 second round by the Braves and go on to play in the Majors from 1984-1996.  He was more of a pitch hitter/fourth outfielder type of player, but during the late 80s and early 90s he was somewhat of a regular for the Phillies and Cardinals.  He played for the Cardinals from 1989-1992 on some very bad teams, thus the increase in playing time. 

Just like every other player during that time period, Thompson had plenty of cards being overproduced by the 5 major companies.  Leaf entered into the mix in 1990 with a brand that was somewhat of a premium.

 Wow, look how sweet is that.  But did I really spend $8 for this card?  Of course not.  I spent $8 for this card.

This is a 2012 Leaf Memories Gold Buyback card numbered 3/5.  A nicer card than the first one, but still really $8 ?  Lets turn the card over.

In case you do not recognize him, that is Ray Lankford pictured on the back.  The same Ray Lankford I player collect.  I know this may seem like a stretch for a player card or it may even be considered a cameo, but both Becket and Trading Card Database list it as a Lankford card so I had no problem overpaying for it.  This was the 3rd Lankford I crossed off my wanlist in 2016 when it arrived last week from EBAY.  I think I will set my 2017 goal to the same number of new Lankford cards this year unless he happens to be in a new release.  I would be shocked if that happens since he had an autograph in 2012 Topps Archives, but I can always dream.   

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Two for Tuesday EBAY win

December was a busy month card wise for me.  In addition to the 2 boxes Brady sent, a few trades, and a Secret Santa package I also managed to win a handful of EBAY auctions. 

I won the auction for these 2 autos for $6.  If I can find a nice licensed Cardinals auto for less than $5 delivered I usually jump on it.  I already have a Hazelbaker auto from 2016 Chrome, but Carlson is new to me.  Carlson was the 33rd pick in last year's draft.  He is an 18 year old switch hitting outfielder who may develop some power as he grows older.  H will most likely play rookie ball this year.  Best wishes to Hazelbaker as he tries to crack the Diamondbacks outfield rotation in 2017.