Monday, April 30, 2018

Blog Bat Around: The All-Autograph Rockies

I haven't participated in every Blog Bat Around (I didn't touch the 30-day challenge, for example), but about two months after my What I Collect post, I'm keeping the trend going with Zippy Zappy's latest topic, the All-Autograph team.

I'm not a huge autograph collector, and I've never played the TTM game like William R so often does. But I did manage to scrape together enough autographs to put a fantasy team together, although you're not going to see as many Rockies stars as you might expect.

SP: Jason Jennings

1999 Topps Traded Autographs #T70 Jason Jennings (AU)
Autographed cards are usually enough of a highlight for me to include them in a trade post. So not only will you be seeing some repeats, I'll probably be able to thank the original senders all over again. This particular example came from Julie of A Cracked Bat, way back on #2 in The Trading Post series. It's easier to just scan it again than to dig within Google Photos for the original, plus I changed my scanning defaults a while back to make images look less contrasty and more realistic.

I keep my autographs, relics, and low serial numbers in toploaders in a two-row box, so I didn't have to dig too deep to start filling out my roster. I doubt this would have sold for $60,000 $75,000 when new, which is the offer for one of Shohei Ohtani's Bowman cards. That would be a lofty valuation for anyone else, even for the only Rockie to win the Rookie of the Year award.

RP #1: Darren Holmes

1994 Topps #562 Darren Holmes (AU)
Out of the bullpen is Darren Holmes, currently the bullpen coach for Colorado. Holmes earned 46 saves during his career as a Rockie, including 25 in their inaugural year. You'll notice that this isn't a Topps Certified Autograph, but it is an Adam Certified Autograph. Mr. Holmes himself signed this card for me in the 1994-1995 offseason, part of a family outing we took to the defunct Northglenn Mall near Denver for an autograph signing.

I mentioned this story a few months ago as part of another trade post from Julie, and I still remember it quite vividly. I remember my dad asking him about the Strike as he signed a couple cards, two 8x10s, a ball, and my hat. Perhaps I was a bit greedy with that haul, but I was also just 10 and he was the first big-league ballplayer I ever met in person.

I have few autographs, and even fewer that I obtained in person. I'll try to use most of them in this post, but my autograph collection doesn't hold a candle to Paul's, one of my buddies from the local card show, who is perpetually getting stuff signed at every opportunity.

RP #2: Rex Brothers

2014 Topps Update Trajectory Autographs #TA-RB Rex Brothers (AU)
Now, more than ever, relief pitchers are a key part of the game. The Complete Game has vanished from baseball even more than the stolen base, so relievers are getting more and more playing time, and managers are getting more and more steps in. The rules of this BBA topic call for a second relief pitcher, so this Rex Brothers sticker autograph is making its second appearance on Infield Fly Rule, courtesy of Matt at Bob Walk The Plank, whose blog was born just a couple weeks after mine.

Rex Brothers was a Rockie for five seasons, but didn't play in 2016. He's been a Brave for the past two years, and as of this writing, has the dreaded "infinite" ERA, one earned run allowed without retiring a batter. One's ERA tends to drop after leaving Coors Field, but the brand-new SunTrust Park has not been friendly to Brothers.

The rules also call for a closer, but I'm tapped out of relief pitcher autographs. Holmes and Brothers will have to get the final outs.

C: Joe Girardi

1994 Leaf Limited #103 Joe Girardi (AU)
Julie recently sent me a non-autographed version of Joe Girardi's 1994 Leaf Limited card, which I showed on that same trade post as Darren Holmes. But here's the real deal, the card that the former Yankees skipper signed in Boulder at the Rockies Dugout Store for me, while sitting next to Eric Young. I believe they just limited you to two items, so I didn't get every bit of memorabilia signed like I did with Darren Holmes. In fact, I recall being pretty far back in line when they announced the closure of the session, and my dad rapidly shepherded my sister and I to the front of the line where he signed this Leaf card and a 5x7. I congratulated him on his previous-night's home run, he did a quick radio interview, and then he was off to Denver for another night game.

I listened to a lot of games on the radio, and I remember hearing about this signing far in advance. I thought it would be a little secret, but the night before, right during the first few innings of the telecast, they announced it to the whole TV audience and the secret was out. I still lucked out, and got an extremely legible signature on the shiniest Girardi card I could find.

1B: Jordan Pacheco

2012 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractors #161 Jordan Pacheco /499 (AU)
You probably expected to see Todd Helton here. Well, I don't have a Todd Helton autograph, so utilityman Jordan Pacheco gets the first base slot. He also spent some time catching, and is currently in the Twins farm system. Thanks to Brad, of Brad's Blog, I have a shiny refractor to bat for the team. I would have selected the "base version" of this card otherwise, but right behind it in the box is this one, and you can see both copies on a long ago trade post.

I prefer the actual autograph from the base card, but this one gets the nod thanks to its serial number and refractor finish.

2B: DJ LeMahieu

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Autographs #GQA-DL DJ LeMahieu (AU)
Significantly (infinitely?) less shiny is a DJ LeMahieu auto from 2013 Gypsy Queen, sent by Keith of The Home Run Apple. DJ just hit the disabled list to open the Rockies' series at Wrigley Field, so Pat Valaika is starting in his place.

I have a special appreciation for second basemen, since it's where I played in little league, at least when I wasn't out in right field. The rule in my league was that each kid had to play an infield position at least two innings a game, and I didn't quite have the arm strength to play at the hot corner, at least not until the occasional middle school gym class when I had a bit more experience than my fellow students.

It's nice to see that all the blogs I've looked back on so far are still active participants in the Cardsphere, even if I only traded once with some.

3B: Vinny Castilla

2015 Topps Tier One Acclaimed Autographs #AA-VC Vinny Castilla /399 (AU)
I'd like to be able to slot Nolan Arenado in here, but I haven't had the chance to find one yet. Instead, one of the original Blake Street Bombers will make an appearance, showing up on a thick premium card from Topps Tier One. This one came from Bob Walk The Plank again, whose trade packages are dominated by cards like these. It's a gorgeous card, with an on-card autograph, light-colored gold foil, and a nice shot of Castilla in his home uniform, wearing the uniform number that DJ LeMahieu would eventually wear.

This is the ammunition the big boys are using in their trades, as we can see in the regular volleys between Matt and his trading arch-nemesis Wes.

I'll let them dig themselves into their respective trenches, and enjoy the gold-colored shrapnel that ends up landing near me.

SS: Brendan Rodgers

2015 Bowman's Best Best of '15 Autographs #B15-BR Brendan Rodgers (AU)
Speaking of Wes, he sent me an on-card autograph of his own in The Trading Post #66 before he renamed his blog. Top prospect Brendan Rodgers got a shiny, simple, yet bold design in this Bowman's Best autograph set, and that giant star is repeated on the back, congratulating me for receiving an autograph of Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has yet to receive the call to the big leagues, but he may end up taking over at second base if the Rockies decide not to pursue DJ LeMahieu in free agency.

Even on my blog, Matt and Wes are battling for trade supremacy. There's no hiding from it.

LF: Matt Holliday

2007 Topps Highlights Autographs #HA-MH Matt Holliday (AU)
Some players start hot, others finish hot. Joey Votto took a few weeks to wake up this season, but the Braves' Ozzie Albies has been making a mark for himself very quickly. The Rockies have always performed similarly, starting off the season strong, usually finishing up strong, but that often bookends a subpar summer. Matt Holliday leaned more toward late-season strength, as this 2007 highlights card tells us. His September of 2006 found him batting in 34 runs, slightly up from 32 the years before and after. Yes, Matt Holliday helped the Rockies out plenty in their historic 2007 playoff run, making up for the fact that he was a not-so-great left fielder (or plate-toucher, if you're a Padres fan).

This black-bordered set looks a little cleaner to me than the base cards, without the filmstrip squares on each corner. The silver banner at the bottom gives it a bold look, and reminds me of the 1979 Topps set.

This one's also from Bob Walk The Plank, by the way.

CF: Charlie Blackmon

2014 Stadium Club Autographs #SCA-CBL Charlie Blackmon (AU)
Charlie Blackmon has spent many years patrolling the enormous center field at Coors Field, and he'll be around for a good while longer, thanks to a recent contract extension. We have another repeat trader, this time A Cracked Bat once again, and from the now-legendary resurgence of 2014 Stadium Club.

Not bad for a Coors Field card. And unlike 2007 Topps, Stadium Club is premium enough to give collectors an on-card autograph. The beard has grown to wizardly lengths by now, but several years ago it was just a beard.

RF: Dante Bichette

1995 Leaf #135 Dante Bichette (AU)
This card that's clearly from Wrigley Field is especially appropriate, as the Rockies are in the midst of their annual trip to the Windy City. Rookie Noel Cuevas started in right field this evening, but that space was once occupied by Dante Bichette, a card sent my way by Jeff of Wish They Still Came With Bubblegum.

Dante used all of this borderless card to sign his John Hancock in a thick blue Sharpie, without detracting from the rainbow foil on the left that's used for the team name.

I wonder how often players are surprised by the cards they sign. It's one thing if Topps prints up a set specifically for them to sign, but with all the inserts and parallels out there, surely they can't know about every card with their likeness.

Well, maybe Pat Neshek does.

Bench: Eric Young, Jr.

2010 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs #171 Eric Young Jr. (AU)
Just like his dad, who was sitting right next to Joe Girardi when that Leaf card was inked, Eric Young, Jr. signed a few cards himself. He has a small but legible signature, and he added a little flair with a "3" next to it, his uniform number at the time.

I need a bench player, and since LeMahieu will be missing a few games, it's just as well that E.Y. can come to the rescue. He's more of an outfielder, and is listed as such on this card, but he did play second base on occasion.

I couldn't find a post with this card, so it may have come from a card show. But if you sent it to me, thank you. I've enjoyed looking back at all these trade posts, and it's nice to see that everyone is still putting posts out into the world. These Blog Bat Arounds are a great idea, and I have lots of fun mixing things up a bit from the usual subject matter (i.e. all the awesome trades).

But something's missing.

To properly cheer on a team like this, you need a mascot.

Mascot: Dinger

1995 Rockies Promo #NNO Dinger (AU)
Love him or hate him, Dinger has been a fixture at Rockies home games ever since their second home opener on April 16th, 1994, a date noted on this card as when he "hatched". There was a giant dinosaur egg and everything.

You'll notice that he's a left-handed hitter, liked to wear his hat backwards in the style of Ken Griffey, Jr., and his uniform number used to be #94, the year of his hatching. Dinger wears #00 now, not to be confused with #0, Adam Ottavino.

He signed this card (one each for me and my sister) while we were waiting in line for that Girardi/Young signing back in 1995, which has a border representing the green girders that are so noticeable in Coors Field's construction.

I'm not sure if this post will make me more of an autograph collector, and I'm a little surprised that I managed to fill an entire roster, though I did have to reach in a couple spots. This was a good topic, and the Blog Bat Arounds make me feel like I'm part of this community more than just about anything else.


  1. Dinger! Love me some mascot autos! Well done!

  2. I do a fair amount of in person autographing. Players are occasionally surprised when presented with a card to sign that they haven't seen before.

  3. Vinny Castilla! Growing up, I used to love the powerful lineup the Rockies had. I didn't get to see them play much, but always remember checking box scores to see what gaudy numbers Castilla, Galaragga, and Walker were putting up.

  4. That Dinger autograph is sweet!