Saturday, January 31, 2009

100 Posts and Yogi!

This is my 101st post on this blog. I have missed a day here and there, but for the most part I have been able to post every day. I use Google Analytics to see how many visitors I receive and where they are from. I have had visitors from 22 countries including India, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Iceland and the Faroe Islands (look it up!). I've had visitors from every state except Alaska, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexio.

I plan to continue this blog and would appreciate any feedback from fellow collectors on what they'd like to see or information they'd like provided.

Yesterday I received Yogi Berra who signed his 1965 Topps for his fee, sent in care of the Yogi Berra Museum. I think I have all the Yogi autographs I need now which includes three cards, a magazine and a ball, as well as a picture signed along with Don Larsen.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get back to posting some TwinsFest items. Today, I'm posting a picture of just how crowded it got on Saturday there.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

TwinsFest Mini Helmets

Tonight I finished assembling the wardrobe in the basement. Now I can really start arranging the basement and hopefully start hanging some pictures and especially my MetroDome banners.

I took a few pictures of some more items that my younger son, David, got signed at TwinsFest last weekend. He got two mini helmets signed. One by Denard Span and one by Mike Redmond.

I was able to get a picture of Denard Span handing the helmet back to David, but I don't have a picture of Mike Redmond signing his. Redmond's line was the one we darted into at the absolute last minute and barely had time to get our items out of our backpacks and ready for the players to sign.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Whitey Ford Return

After previously receiving my Whitey Ford card back only to find that he signed the penny sleeve, I sent it to him again explaining the situation and hoping he'd sign the card. I mailed that on December 6th. Today I received it back. I nearly had a heart attack when I opened it, as it looked like it had been signed several times. I then realized that this time he did sign the card, and he also signed the rigid holder the card was in! Maybe it was another close call? Anyway, now I know not to use any type of card holder when sending to Mr. Ford. I still have a 2008 Goudey I'd like to send. I haven't made any progress cataloging the TwinsFest autographs. Yesterday my wife bought me another wardrobe from Ikea for the basement. I spent last evening assembling it and got it all done except for the doors. The rest of the week is busy so I don't know when I'll get back to either the wardrobe assembly or the TwinsFest items.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Items From TwinsFest

Tonight I started the long process of cataloging all the items we got signed at TwinsFest. This involves scanning the flat items such as cards, magazines and pictures, and taking photos of the larger items like mini helmets and bats.

I then update the web site of the owner (me or one of my two sons) with the items. For my sons' web sites, I also include a picture of them getting the item signed, if I was able to get one.

I have photos of them getting most of their items signed, but occasionally there isn't enough time. For example, on the first night of TwinsFest, David and I decided not to go to the station containing Scott Baker, Mike Redmond, Alexi Casilla and Matt Guerrier because the line was too long. We went up to see Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva instead. after getting through that line, we went back to the Dome floor to meet my wife and other son. We walked by the Baker/Redmond/Casilla/Guerrier station again, and there was nobody in line and only 5 minutes or less left. We ducked under the ropes and got right to the front of the line, struggling to get a mini helmet, photo and cards ready for David, and my items ready as well. We were a little slow, but got our items signed. In this situation, I had no time to take any photos, unfortunately.

Tonight I got a David's cards and photos scanned in. I had a lot of photos of him getting these signed, including Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Denard Span, which I have included here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

TwinsFest Comes to an End

I had a very successful day today at TwinsFest. I went alone since my boys had a hockey game (which they won).

I arrived about 5 minutes before the doors opened and the line outside was not too long. In fact, there were far fewer people there today than yesterday, which was nice. First, I got Ron Gardenhire to start off my 2009 team ball by signing on the sweet spot. At the same station, Tom Kelly signed a bobblehead from my 1987 Twins set. In all, I got three of these signed this TwinsFest (also signing were Roy Smalley and Kent Hrbek). I got through this first line very quickly, probably 15 minutes into the first seesion.

Then I went into Harmon Killebrew's line, even though he wasn't signing until the second session at 11:00. I didn't want to miss the chance to get him to sign my 2008 Goudey (pictured). I waited an hour and a half until that line started moving, and was done in about 20 minutes. Then I went through a line containing Corey Koskie and Phillip Humber. Twice. Jim Grant was also supposed to be in that session but he was a no-show.

After Koskie and Humber, I got in a line for Jason Kubel and Delmon Young. Young hadn't been there the previous two days so I thought the line might be pretty bad. It wasn't. I got through that line twice as well.

Even after going through the Kubel/Young line twice, I still was able to get down to the Dome floor to go through a line with Nick Blackburn, Craig Breslow and Brendan Harris. When I got through that line, I went immediately back to the end of it for the next session, which was Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey and Jesse Crain. After that line, I went back upstairs (there are a lot of stairs to go from the Dome floor to the concourse, my legs are going to be sore tomorrow) and got in line for Joe Nathan. After Nathan, I was going to leave, but noticed that the Perkins/Slowey/Crain line was almost empty again so I headed back down and got all three of them on my team ball.

Whew. We have a tradition (okay, it's this was only our third year, but we've done it every year) to lay out all the items we got autographed for the three days on our kitchen table and take a picture. This is no small task. Between the four of us, we got over 100 autographs.

Today's highlight was getting Harmon Killebrew to sign my 2008 Goudey card. He hadn't seen it before and took a look at it and we talked about it a little bit. Maybe I'll send him one. I ended up getting a really nice picture of him signing it.

Over the next few days or weeks I'll highlight some of the items we got and the pictures I took of my kids with the players.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

TwinsFest - Day Two

Day two of TwinsFest went much better for us than day one. First off, we arrived right as the doors opened, and had to wait about 10-15 minutes while the line outside filtered into the Dome. We immediately went to Harmon Killebrew's line. Mr. Killebrew is my older son's favorite player of all time. To make up for yesterday's Mauer/Morneau debacle, my younger son and I joined Johnny and my wife in line. My younger son has no interest in anyone that isn't currently playing and that he hasn't watched play himself. So of the four autographs we got, three were for Johnny. Johnny and I each got our 1955 Topps rookie cards signed (mine is pictured), and Johnny also got a magazine and a mini helmet signed.

Johnny and my wife also got Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, Brian Buscher and Craig Breslow. Meanwhile, David and I got Nick Blackburn, Mike Redmond, Denard Span, Brian Buscher and Craig Breslow.

Later we switched and I went with Johnny to wait in a very long line for Joe Nathan, which we got through surprisingly quickly, while my wife took David to go play some games on the Dome floor. Johnny and I then went to a line with Matt Guerrier, Brendan Harris, and Nick Punto. At the last minute, David decided he wanted to go through that line too, and just made it.

During the morning, I was able to get Johnny a signed ball by Bob Feller, who was on hand, and told me that the weather was almost as cold as the time he spent on a particular trip in the Navy during World War Two somewhere near Russia. Also, Ferguson Jenkins was there, signing at a booth so I got Johnny a ball from him as well. Again, David had no interest, and preferred to pay five dollars to spin a wheel for a 1:40 chance to win a prize that he didn't even really want. But he really loves it. Hopefully it doesn't turn into a gambling problem.

All in all, an exhausting day. The place was more crowded than I have ever seen it. The busiest time appears to be Saturday from 11:00 - 2:00. During this time, you might as well be standing in a line somewhere because it's just too crowded to move.

A few no-shows were disappointing. Michael Cuddyer is sick. Alexi Casilla didn't show today, although he was there yesterday, and Delmon Young has not been there either.

I'm going back again tomorrow. So far I have gotten two more bobbleheads signed from my 1987 Twins set, including Roy Smalley and Kent Hrbek. Tomorrow I hope to add Tom Kelly as well. Other targets include Cory Koskie and Harmon Killebrew.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Night of TwinsFest

My wife and older son (pictured) arrived at the Metrodome at 3:30 this afternoon and survived sub-zero wind chills for two hours until the doors opened. There were about 50 people in line in front of them, and there were two gates at the Dome that had lines. Once the doors opened at 5:30, they ran to the line where Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were going to be signing at 7:00.

When they got there, they found that there were already at least 200 people in line. How could that be? They waited, and waited and waited, as people let their friends get in line too. The staff didn't appear to do too much to prevent this, deferring to the people in line to try to police the "budgers". Well, they never did get the autographs as they ran out of time.

Rumor has it, that the vendors that sell cards and memorabilia on TwinsFest, get there early to set up, and their "helpers" go up and get in these lines before the doors to the Dome even open. I overheard one person who said he was first in line outside the Dome, and when he got to the line inside, there were already 100 people there! This sure doesn't seem fair, and definitely doesn't make us want to spend any money with the vendors there, so we won't! Sure, the vendors are all selling Mauer and Morneau autographs because they got to get in line early.

So, a very disappointed, cold little boy missed the first two sessions of autographs without getting a single one. And an angry, cold mother of a cold little boy is not happy at all!

My younger son and I had pretty good luck however. There were three autograph sessions tonight. He and I made it to five different stations in the first two sessions. We got autographs from Nick Blackburn, Jesse Crain, Brendan Harris, Ron Coomer, Denard Span, Bobby Korecky, Brian Buscher, Philip Humber, Matt Macri, Jose Morales, Tony Oliva and Kent Hrbek.

During the last session, my older son and I went through a line with Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Joe Vavra, and Jason Pirdie. This line went very slowly as Mr. Grant signed very neatly and included his nickname on every item. We barely made it through the line before the event closed for the evening. I was starting to get worried that my son might get skunked the whole evening!

Off to bed quickly to get up early for a another full day of TwinsFest. We're not planning on waiting outside tomorrow since the temperature will be below zero when we get there. Hopefully that doesn't prevent my older son from getting Harmon Killebrew who is signing in the first session.

Purchases Received and off to TwinsFest

Today in the mail I received a couple of cards I bought through a contact on He has some relationship with Jaime Cocanower who is a very tough signer through the mail. I purchased a 1985 and 1987 Topps since I work on these sets a little here and there and thought this might be my only chance to get these.

I also received a PSA/DNA authenticated Carlton Fisk signed baseball that I bought on eBay. Another HOF'er to add to my collection!

My wife and older son are off to TwinsFest (they left about 2:45 pm). It's about 15 degrees here, but pretty windy, with wind chill values well below zero. They are pretty bundled up and hopefully they can find a spot in line that is shielded from the wind.

My younger son and I will leave at about 4:30, and hopefully we won't wait outside long, if at all.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Final Preparations fpr TwinsFest - Plus, Stan Musial

I think we're all ready for TwinsFest tomorrow. The binders are all prepared, backpacks are loaded and schedules set and reviewed. It will be cold tomorrow, but not quite as cold as I thought earlier in the week. The high will be about 16 degrees tomorrow. Unfortunately, Saturday's high is only going to be 2 degrees, so that means waiting in line Saturday morning will probably be in sub-zero temperatures.

I may not have time to post tomorrow, at least not with any detail, but maybe I'll at least mention if my wife and son are able to get through the Joe Mauer/Justin Morneau line.

Today in the mail, I received a 2008 Goudey signed by Stan Musial from a mail-in signing that I learned about on This is a really nice one to add to my collection and I'm happy to have it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another Mussina Return and TwinsFest Prep

My son got a return today from Mike Mussina. After I got my cards back in early December, Johnny decided to send some out too. He sent a 1992 Donruss and a 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings. He really likes the Diamond Kings set, which we gave him for his birthday. He has a few signed, and plans on getting a couple more signed at TwinsFest.

Speaking of TwinsFest, the schedule is out. We have been planning on which sessions to go to and making sure we have all the items to get signed organized. This involves a three-ring binder for each of us which contains the schedule on which we write what we plan to get signed. The binder also contains plastic pages full of cards, magazines and pictures. We'll carry these binders in a backpack or bookbag, along with mini helmets, mini bats and bobbleheads. For full-size bats, we bought plastic bat tubes with straps that can be carried over your shoulder.

My wife has decided to go with my older son this year. My older son is going for quality over quantity. His first target is Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. This will involved Johnny and my wife getting in line at the Metrodome at about 3:30 on Friday. The high temperature on Friday is expected to be 6. Ouch. David and I will go later, after the doors are open. David is going to get the more common players, for which we aren't expecting long lines. The part that was appealing to my wife was that these lines are typically for only one or two players, so getting the item(s) signed is relatively simple. On the other hand, David and I will be in lines for four or players, so it can be challenging to juggle the cards, pictures and bobbleheads needed to get signed at a single station. Last year my wife ended up getting a team ball signed mutliple times by a couple of players, after which she swore never to attend the event again. But, here we go...

The great part is my wife will get items signed for me, and I won't have to stand in those ling lines in the cold. Unfortunately, this is very close to my wife's birthday, so we'll have to make it up to her somehow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Joe Mauer Hitting Clinic

Today my sons attended the 2009 Joe Mauer Hitting Clinic at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. They had a lot of fun and learned a lot from Joe and his brothers Jake and Bill, sister Stephanie, and many other college and minor league players and coaches. The Mauers run Mauer's Baseball and Softball School and offer this clinic every year.

After the clinic, they had the opportunity to ask Joe questions and each got one item signed. We were prepared for this, of course. Johnny got a bat signed and David got a 2008 All-Star baseball signed.

It was a great opportunity to start playing some baseball even though it's been so cold here lately and to get some top notch instruction from some people who really know what they're talking about.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cracking Open a Graded Card - Beckett Vintage Grading

On several occasions I have purchased a graded card with the intent of getting it autographed. The cards I purchase are usually lower grade cards that are less expensive, so if they get a corner bent in the mail, the value won't plummet like it would with a nicer card. I'm not sure why people grade cards that obviously aren't in great shape, but I like it because at least I know the card hasn't been trimmed, touched up, or altered in some other way.

My 11 year old son has a 1955 Topps Harmon Killebrew rookie card that he intends to get signed at TwinsFest next weekend. The card was graded a "2" by Beckett Vintage Grading. Tonight he cracked it open and I documented the process to share.

First, he put the card in a vise, laying it on its side.

Next, he placed a narrow chisel on the seam of the plastic case in the section above the card where the label is. This way, if the chisle slips, it will go into the label, not the card.

Hitting the chisel increasingly harder with the hammer, the plastic starts to split on the seam and evenutally the chisle is in far enough that you can pry a section of the plastic case off, breaking it into pieces. You should be very careful though, because small bits of plastic go flying, so wear some safety glasses.

He then turned the card over and continued chipping away along the seam until the top of the cased was removed to the point that the inner plastic sleeve with the card in it could be removed.

The Beckett holder is different than the PSA holder, mostly due to the presence of this inner plastic sleeve, but also because it is thicker and more brittle. I"ll document cracking open a PSA holder later this weekend, which I feel is much easier.

The inner sleeve is flexible, and feels as if it's a section of a 9-pocket page used in card storage albums, except that it is sealed on all four sides. To free the card, my son carefully cut the sleeve on one end, being very careful not to cut the card.

The end product is a card, free from its plastic prison, and ready for a Hall of Famer to sign!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Progress On The Basement

No returns in the mail today. I did receive a whole bunch of 8x10 pictures I bought on eBay for TwinsFest though.

Tonight I assembled the TV stand and the TV in the basement. I didn't pick up the HD converter box from Comcast, but I'll do that in the morning. It was too cold today. -34 on my way to work, and a blamy 4 degrees above zero in the way home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yep, It's Cold - And Some TTM Returns

It was so cold here today that my kids' school was closed. Luckily, that freed them and my wife up to go to Target and buy the new TV stand. I was barely able to carry the old 32" CRT TV upstairs to the guest bedroom where it will probably rot. Tomorrow night I'll put the stand together and hopefully get the new TV up and running.

Today we had several returns. I say "we", because my older son got back the 1960 Sport Magazine he sent to Duke Snider. He was pretty excited to get it.

I had a few returns too. Billy Pierce signed the 1959 Topps "Ace Hurlers" that Robin Roberts signed a little while ago.

Ron Locke signed his 1965 Topps for me and wrote me a very nice note answering the question I asked in my letter regarding his career after his playing days. He also thanked me for remembering him!

Finally, Jim Rittwage signed his 1965 Topps that he shares with Ralph Gagliano. I'll send it off to Mr. Gagliano next week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

-35 Windchill

It's freezing here. The wind chill is supposed to get down to -35 degrees tonight. I was going to go to Target with my wife to look at TV stands and show her the one I was thinking of getting, but I don't want to be out in this weather any more than I have to be. Maybe tomorrow night.

The new TV was delivered today. Pretty fast. I ordered it on Friday and it arrived on Wednesday. It will stay in the box until I get the old one moved, the new TV stand purchased and assembled, and exchange my existing cable box for an HD cable box at Comcast. It will be too cold to do that tomorrow too, so I"ll shoot for Friday.

No returns today. I did get a few more cards in the mail that I purchased on in preparation for TwinsFest. I'm hopeful that the weather will be warmer for TwinsFest so we don't have to stand outside in line in these conditions. Here's a picture of a crowded Metrodome floor at TwinsFest last year:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Preparing For TwinsFest

No returns today. I don't have many out. I'll have to find some time this weekend to send out a few more requests.

Tonight my sons and I went through the current list of players scheduled to appear at TwinsFest and decided what we'll want to have them sign. We found cards for many of the players, a few 8x10s, and decided which players we'll have sign balls, bats and mini helmets. This helps us "pack" for the event.

When the Twins publish the actual groupings and times where players will be signing, we put all of the items we want to get signed in our own backpacks. My wife usually takes one son, and I take another because they want different players to sign. My older son likes the retired guys like Carew, Molitor and especially Killebrew. My younger son likes the current players like Cuddyer, Gomez and Young.

This works well for me as my wife could care less about autographs, so while she's taking my younger son through the lines, she also gets items signed for me, as long as I provide her with a very specific list of what to get signed by which player and make it as easy as possible.

It's actually a lot of work to make sure we have items for all the players to sign, and I think I stress out my wife and kids in the process, as well as myself, but we've had a lot of success in the past. Below is a picture of our "haul" from last year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blyleven Falls Short in Hall Voting Again

Another year, and no Bert Blyleven in the Hall of Fame. I was mostly right in my post back in December, predicting that Jim Rice would get in and that Bert wouldn't. I thought Andre Dawson and Bert would make a bigger jump, but they didn't really. Ricky Henderson was elected, of course. No surprise there.

Well, since I have Jim Rice's autograph on a baseball (pictured), that increases my Hall of Fame collection by one. I was hoping Bert's autograph would increase it by two, but I'll have to wait.

One return in the mail today. Bill Davis signed his 1965 Topps rookie card for my collection.

I also ordered a new TV for the basement. A 40-inch Toshiba LCD. Now I need a new TV stand that matches the basement and can fit the TV and hopefully hold a bunch of games and dvds.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finished The Basement

No news today on returns or requests. I forgot to mention that yesterday I finally sent off my 1965 Topps to Yogi Berra. But, we did put the final coat of paint on the basement today, so soon we can get the furniture back in order. I still have to decide where things will go.

I was watching the prices of LCD TVs, waiting for the big "sales" for the Super Bowl. Since I've already been watching the prices, I'll have a pretty good idea of how good the deals are. Well, so far I've looked at Amazon and Best Buy, and the prices are higher than they were last week! Looks like rather than try to entice people to buy a new TV, they're assuming people will anyway and don't feel they need to motivate us.

I'll wait. Maybe the real deals will come after the Super Bowl is over and they try to get rid of the current models.

One autograph-related item of note: I signed my sons up for a Mauer Hitting Clinic next Sunday. It's a two hour clinic that Joe and his family (Jake, Billy and Stephanie) put on each year. The description said each participant will be able to get one autograph. Hopefully next week I'll have pictures of my sons and Joe Mauer.

We have gotten Joe's autograph a couple of times at Dick's Sporting Goods. One time, both he and Morneau were signing. This was in May of 2006, before they were the big names they are today. As I recall, the line wasn't really that long.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Progress on the Basement and Some TTM Returns

My wife and I worked on the basement quite a bit today. The boys even helped out some. We sanded down all the patches we made to the holes in the walls, washed the walls a couple of times, and put the first coat of paint on. Tomorrow we'll put the second coat of paint on and this will leave me with just two very small walls to paint and the painting will be complete.

I also bought some short, black curtain rods to hang the Metrodome banners on. Unfortunately, they only had two of the type I wanted so I'll have to drive to the next town over to another Target to get the third rod.

I'm still watching the prices of lcd TVs and am hoping for a nice Super Bowl sale this week so I can replace the gigantic 32" CRT that is currently in the basement.

I also got back three requests today:

Woody Woodward signed a 1965, 1966 and 1970 Topps for me.

Rollie Fingers signed his 2008 Goudey for his $10 fee.

Phil Niekro also charges $10 to sign cards, and signed his 2008 Goudey for my set.

I mailed the 1959 Topps I got back from Robin Roberts yesterday to Billy Pierce. That will be a nice card when it's complete.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Big Day Today - Kaline, Larsen and Roberts and more

I received six successes today, for a total of 11 cards, including two 2008 Goudeys.

Al Kaline signed his 2008 Goudey. I sent his request to the Detroit Tigers' address and included $5 cash.

Don Larsen signed his 2008 Goudey for his $7 fee.

Robin Roberts signed a 1959 Topps "Ace Hurlers" picturing him and Billy Pierce, for a $10 donation to B.A.T. (Baseball Assistance Team). I will get this in the mail to Mr. Pierce tomorrow.

Joe Gaines signed his 1963, 1964 and 1965 Topps cards for me.

Gene Stephens signed his 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1964 Topps.

And John Herrnstein signed his 1965 Topps for my set.

That's the most returns I've had in one day in a long time. Still no Whitey Ford though. I also want to get Whitey on his 2008 Goudey but I want to make sure I get back my 1965 Topps first.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Leo "Chico" Cardenas

Today I received a 1965 Topps signed by Leo "Chico" Cardenas. I included $5 with my request and he signed it in a very quick 6 days. His brings my 1965 Topps collection up to about 307. I need to take the time to go over the 1965 Topps checklist and mark off which ones I have and make an effort to send out to those remaining.

I've decided to really go after the retired players in the 2008 Goudey set. I purchased a few more for some upcoming signings including Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson and Whitey Ford. Speaking of Whitey, I'm still waiting for my 1965 Topps back from him.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another TTM Return

Today I received one return in the mail. Dave Giusti signed a 1963 (pictured), 1965 and 1968 Topps for my collection.

This evening I packaged up my son's Sport Magazine to send off to Duke Snider. Johnny wrote a short note and we included $10. Hopefully he'll get that back before the end of the month.

I also received a bunch of cards I purchased from in preparation for TwinsFest. Sportlots is a great site for buying inexpensive and common cards and reasonable prices. Many of the cards I bought were less than 20 cents each and the postage is reasonable. The site allows anyone to be a seller and list all their cards. The trick is to try to select cards from as few sellers as possible to minimize postage costs which can be tricky sometimes.

Last night I also ordered a bunch of 8x10s from a seller on eBay. He is also going to get a few more Twins pictures in early next week so I'll get some more then too. I should end up with over 10 more signed 8x10s after TwinsFest is over.

Finally, I received two more full sized bats I ordered from Anderson. I ordered the black Rawlings bats. I like to get bats signed that are similar to what the players use. I'll use one of these for Denard Span if I get the chance.