Card of the Week: Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star

The Card of the Week for January 10-16, 2016 is the 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph of Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley was one of my 2 favorite pitchers to watch as a kid. The other being Dave Stewart. I began watching baseball in the mid-1980s, this was after Eckersley came to the Oakland Athletics and converted into one of the most dominant closers in the game.

Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph

Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph

Eckersley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. He is one of two pitchers with 20-win (1978) and 50-save (1992) seasons. Eckersely was selected to the All-Star game 6 times, 2 as a starter and 4 as a closer. He was also named MVP of the 1988 American League Championship Series, saving all 4 of Oakland’s victories against the Boston Red Sox.

His best season came in 1992 when he posted a 7-1 record, struck out 93 batters in 80 innings and saved a major league leading 51 games. That year Eckersley won the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards.

Fun Fact: In his 24 year career, Eckersley only pitched in the National League for 5 years, 3 as a starter and 2 as a reliever. As a starter for the Chicago Cubs (1984-86), Eckersley hit 3 home runs. 1 in 1985 and 2 in 1986. Not bad for a guy with only 181 career at bats.

Eckersley was clearly one of the most dominant pitchers in the game during the 1980s and 1990s. He was instrumental in the success of the Oakland Athletics in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Eckersley will always be one of my favorite pitchers.

Autographed Set Update

I wanted to give a brief update on my quest to get as many cards autographed in 3 different sets as I can. My primary focus are the 1987 Fleer and 1988 Topps sets. These are 2 of my favorite sets from the 1980s as they were some of the first that I collected and completed. The other set is the 1981 Fleer set. This set is a nostalgic throwback to when the baseball card business was starting to grow.

Here are the stats for each set as of 12/04/2015:

1987 Fleer – 84/660 cards signed – 12.73% complete
1987 Fleer Update – 18/132 cards signed – 13.64% complete

1988 Topps – 98/792 cards signed – 12.37% complete
1988 Topps Traded – 18/132 cards signed – 9.09% complete

1981 Fleer – 52/660 cards signed – 7.88% complete

MLB Pitcher Tommy Hanson Passes Away

On Monday, November 9, 2015 Major League pitcher, Tommy Hanson passed away. He was 29. On Sunday Tommy was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He passed away from catastrophic organ failure. The exact reason that led to the failure is unknown at this time.

Tommy pitched for 5 years in the majors. From 2009-12 with the Atlanta Braves and with the LA Angels of Anaheim in 2013. In 121 starts he posted a 49-35 record with a 3.80 ERA.

After being granted free agency by the Angels, Tommy tried to latch on with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox in 2014, but did not make either club. In May 2015 Tommy signed with the San Francisco Giants. In 15 starts with the San Jose Giants and the Sacramento River Cats, Tommy went 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA.

I was fortunate enough to see Tommy pitch for the San Jose Giants in Stockton back on June 30, 2015. That night he pitched well, striking out 5 in 5 innings. The only blemish was giving up a solo home run to Branden Cogswell.

After he was done pitching Tommy was nice enough to stop on the ramp leading to the clubhouse and sign some autographs for a couple fans. That night he signed the 2 cards I brought with me. Thank you Tommy.

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

 

TTM Success 10/26/2015: Ben Zobrist

On October 26th I received a TTM success from Kansas City Royal Ben Zobrist. I had sent a 2015 Topps Opening Day card out to Zobrist during the last week of the season. He is one of the few position players who usually has a quick turnaround time during the season.

Zobrist began the 2015 season with the Oakalnd Athletics. He came to the A’s with Yunel Escobar by way of a trade that sent catcher John Jaso along with minor leaguers Daniel Robertson, Boog Powell to the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist was later traded at the deadline to the Royals for Aaron Brooks and minor league pitcher Sean Manaea.

Zobrist signed 2 cards for me: 2015 Topps Opening Day (one I sent) and 2015 Testimony card (Bonus)

TTM Autographs from Ben Zobrist

TTM Autographs from Ben Zobrist

With every request Zobrist included an additional signed testimony card. The back side has a description of his relationship with God. I received this success in 28 days. Thank you Ben!

Zobrist is one of those player I have liked since he came up in the Rays organization. I just wish he could have stuck with the Athletics for more than just 67 games. I was fortunate enough to see Zobrist rehab with the Nashville Sounds when they came to the West Coast in late May. He signed a MLB Ball for me before the game I went to in Fresno.

Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.

Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.

Card of the Week: Tony LaRussa 1988 Topps Autographed

The Card of the Week for November 1st-7th is an autographed 1988 Topps Tony LaRussa. This is one of my best TTM successes I have received to date. Growing up as an Oakland Athletics fan, I witnessed first hand the dominant teams of the late-1980s, early-1990s.

Sure those teams and many others in that era are accused of cheating by using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs; however, that is all in hindsight. These accusations do not take away from the pure talent that those players had.

TTM Autograph from Tony LaRusaa - 01/08/2015

TTM Autograph from Tony LaRusaa – 01/08/2015

Tony LaRussa is one of my favorite managers of all time. Even after he left Oakland to manage the St. Louis Cardinals I never lost respect for the man and his abilities. The 1988 Topps set is one of my favorite sets. Not because it has a beautiful design, but rather for nostalgic reasons. This came out during a time where my brother and I really got into collecting baseball cards.

This card is the first of two I have received signed via TTM from Tony LaRussa. The other is a 1987 Topps card.

Card of the Week: Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor

This week’s featured card is the 2015 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Autograph of Carlos Rodon. This card is numbered 69/250. I pulled this card out of a hobby box of Bowman Jumbo that I picked up from my local card store.

Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #69/250 - Front

Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #69/250 – Front

Carlos was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as the 3rd overall pick in the June 2014 Draft. He shot up though the Minor Leagues and made his Major League Debut on April 21, 2015, just over 10 months after being drafted. In his first full season Carlos went 9-5 with a 3.75 in 26 games, 23 of which were starts. It looks like Carlos will be a mainstay in the White Sox rotation for years to come.

Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #69/250 - Back

Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #69/250 – Back

 

Card Serial Number

Card Serial Number

TTM Success 10/09/15: Dave McKay

A couple of weeks ago I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics infielder and coach Dave McKay. Dave played in the majors from 1975 to 1982. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1971. Dave made his MLB debut on August 22, 1975. In April of 1980 the Athletics signed Dave as a free agent. In his 8 year career he was a .229 hitter. Dave also played for the Toronto Blue Jays.

After his retirement as a player in 1982, Dave came back to the Athletics as a coach where he served from 1984 to 1995. He has also coached for the St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011) and the Chicago Cubs (2012-2013). Since 2014, Dave has served as the first base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dave signed 3 cards for me: 1981 Fleer, 1983 Topps and 1983 Donruss.

TTM autographs from Dave McKay

TTM autographs from Dave McKay

I received this success in 189 days. Thank you Dave!

 

TTM Success 10/09/2015: Craig Paquette

On Friday, October 9th I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics 3rd baseman Craig Paquette. Craig was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 8th round of the June 1989 draft. He made his Major League Debut on June 1, 1993. Craig played in the majors from 1993-2003. His first 3 years in the MLB was with the Oakland Athletics. He also played for the Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers.

Craig signed 3 cards for me: 1994 Donruss, 1994 Fleer Ultra and 1994 Upper Deck.

TTM Autographs from Craig Paquette

TTM Autographs from Craig Paquette

I received this success in 9 days. Thank you Craig!

Card of the Week: Kendall Graveman 2015 Panini Immaculate Shadowbox

The card of the week for October 18, 2015 is the 2015 Panini Immaculate Kendall Graveman Shadowbox. This card is numbered 08/49. Kendall was one of the players the Oakland Athletics received in return, along with Brett Lawrie, Franklin Barreto and Sean Nolin, for Josh Donaldson. Kendall is shaping up to be a quality starter in the Athletics rotation.

Panini does a great job in offering interesting designs on their higher end autograph and relic cards. The autograph on this card looks like it is done on a clear acetate with the photo printed on it. The card is thick like a relic card with a white background to make a shadowbox effect.

Kendall Graveman 2015 Panini Immaculate Shadowbox #08/49 - Front

Kendall Graveman 2015 Panini Immaculate Shadowbox #08/49 – Front

The only thing missing from the card is the MLB license. However, with this type of quality and the way the photography is presented I personally don’t miss it too much.

Kendall Graveman 2015 Panini Immaculate Shadowbox #08/49 - Back

Kendall Graveman 2015 Panini Immaculate Shadowbox #08/49 – Back

Card Serial Number

Card Serial Number

 

TTM Update: 6 successes

In the past 8 days I have received six TTM successes. Five successes were from the batch sent out the week of September 28th. Four of these successes will be featured in this post.

The first was from Ernie Broglio. Ernie is best known for being the key piece the Chicago Cubs received in the trade that sent Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals. This is arguably the worst trade in MLB history. Lou would go on to have a Hall of Fame career. Meanwhile Ernie, who was a good pitcher with the Cardinals, did not improve upon his success and eventually faded out. Ernie signed 3 of 3 cards in just 5 days. Thank you Ernie!

1959, 1960, 1966 Topps cards autographed by Ernie Broglio

1959, 1960, 1966 Topps cards autographed by Ernie Broglio

My next success was from former Negro League player and Chicago Cub George Altman. George started his professional career in the Negro Leagues in 1955 with the Kansas City Monarchs. He would make his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs on April 11, 1959. He would go on to play 9 season in the Majors with the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets. George was an All-Star in 1961 and 1962. He signed a 1960 Topps, 1 penny sleeve (which should have been 1967 Topps) and included a signed business card in 8 days. Thank you George!

Signed items from George Altman

Signed items from George Altman

Bobby Meacham was my next success. Bobby played parts of 6 season (1983-88) with the New York Yankees. His career never really took off the way the Yankees had anticipated. He wound up often injured and he finished his career with a .236 batting average. Bobby signed 3 of 3 cards in 9 days. Thank you Bobby!

1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score cards signed by Bobby Meacham

1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score cards signed by Bobby Meacham

The final success featured in this post was received from Davey Lopes. Davey is currently a coach in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He was a 4 time All-Star and played 16 seasons with the Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. Davey signed 1 of 1 in 10 days. Thank you Davey!

1987 Fleer card signed by Davey Lopes

1987 Fleer card signed by Davey Lopes

Now I know some of you may be thinking: If Davey Lopes played for the Athletics, then why did you send an Athletics card? Quite simply, one of the primary sets I am trying to get autographed is the 1987 Fleer. I will be sending more requests to him as he really only signs 1 per request. So eventually I will have an Athletics card (or two) signed by Davey.

The other 2 successes with be featured in their own separate posts.