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.

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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 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.

TTM Batch: September 28, 2015

Now that baseball season is over, I can turn my attention to one of my favorite hobbies, collecting TTM autographs. As much as I try, it is too difficult to regularly send out TTM requests during the season. Quite often I am going to games to collect autographs in person or I am listening to or watching games. So here is my final batch of the regular season.

Jim Robertson – Philadelphia Athletics – 2 cards
Jose Lind – Pittsburgh Pirates – 2 cards
Ernie Broglio – St. Louis Cardinals – 3 cards
George Altman – Chicago Cubs – 2 cards
Davey Lopes – Houston Astros – 1 card
Fred Stanley – Oakland Athletics – 3 cards
Bobby Meacham – New York Yankees – 3 cards
Craig Paquette – Oakland Athletics – 3 cards
Ben Zobrist – Oakland Athletics – 1 card
Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers – 1 card

This batch was sent out September 28th (7 requests) and 30th (3 requests). Note: The team listed is the team on the card, or on the majority of the cards I sent out. I will post updates as requests come back.

Top 20 Prospects – Updated July 2014

Following the blockbuster trade that sent the Oakland Athletics top 2 prospects, Addison Russell and Billy McKinney (along with Dan Straily) to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel the Top 20 Prospect list needed to be updated. Here is the updated list as compiled by MLB.com.

New to the list is Tucker Healy at No. 18 who is having a breakout year pitching at three levels with the Stockton Ports (High A), Midland RockHounds (AA) and currently with the Sacramento River Cats (AAA). Arnold Leon returns to the list at No. 19 as he is hiving a strong year posting a 9-2 record with a 4.47 ERA in 17 games for the River Cats.

This list will be changing over the next few months as Draft Pick from the 2014 June Draft are evaluated and other prospects have their seasons re-evalutaed.

1. Daniel Robertson
2. Raul Alcantara
3. Matthew Olson
4. Renato Nunez
5. Bobby Wahl
6. Dillon Overton
7. Billy Burns
8. Nolan Sanburn
9. Michael Ynoa
10. B.J. Boyd
11. Dylan Covey
12. Chris Kohler
13. Max Muncy
14. Bruce Maxwell
15. Chad Pinder
16. Seth Streich
17. Miles Head
18. Tucker Healy
19. Arnold Leon
20. Dustin Driver

To be eligible for the list the player must have rookie eligibility.  Players cannot exceed 130 at bats or 50 innings pitches with a Major League club.  Also the player cannot be on the active roster for more than 45 days during the 25 player limit period.

Athletics Farmhand Boog Powell Suspended for 50 Games

On Wednesday MLB announced that Oakland Athletics prospect Herschel “Boog” Powell was suspended for 50 games for violating MLB’s policy on banned substances.

Powell was recently promoted to the High A Stockton Ports after an amazing first half where he batted .335 with 7 doubles and 17 RBIs in 69 games for the Beloit Snappers. He was selected to the 2014 Midwest League All-Star game where he earned MVP honors.

In just 11 games with the Ports, Powell was tearing up the California League batting .396 and 10 RBIs. He was slated to take over the full-time center field role with the Ports after the recent blockbuster trade that sent Billy McKinney along with Addison Russell and Dan Straily to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

“Boog” Powell is not related to former Baltimore Oriole outfielder Boog Powell. However, the former Oriole was a favorite of the young Powell’s father.

 

Athletics Top 20 Prospects to be Updated soon

In the wake of the blockbuster trade sending Addison Russel, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel there will be a new Top 20 Prospects list on MLB.com. As soon as this list is posted, I will publish it here. There are may changes forthcoming on the list as Addison and Billy were the Nos. 1 & 2 (respectively) Prospects in the Athletics organization.

Athletics Acquire Samardzija and Hammel from Cubs

On the 4th of July the Oakland Athletics set off not one, but two sets of fireworks. The first came in the bottom of the 12th inning when Nick Punto drove a ball to left field that ultimately allowed Derek Norris to score all the way from first base for a 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The second set of fireworks came around 7:50 p.m. when the Athletics traded No. 1 and No. 2 prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney with Dan Straily and a player-to-be-named later to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. This is a bold move that highlights the front office’s commitment to the major league team to win.

This season Samardzija is 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 108 innings. Don’t let the win/loss record fool you, Samardzija is coming from the Cubs who own a record of 38-46 and have a team batting average of .236.

Jason Hammel is currently 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA. He has thrown 108.2 innings and has struck out 104 batters. Both pitchers help to bolster one of the best starting rotations in the Majors.

The Chicago Cubs get  3 players who will be a big part of their future. Addison Russell is one of the top prospects in the MLB. Eventhough he has spent most of the season on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury he is on track to be Major League ready by late-2015. With the Midland RockHounds Addison is batting .333 with 3 doubles and a home run in 13 games.

Billy McKinney was the Athletics first round draft choice in the 2013 June draft. He has spent all season with the Stockton Ports where he was batting .241 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 75 games. Over his past 10 games Billy was starting to put it together as he was batting .314 with 3 doubles and a home run.

Dan Straily struggled with the Athletics early this season going 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 7 starts. Since joining the AAA Sacramento River Cats, Straily has turned his season around posting a record of  4-3 with a 4.71 ERA and striking out 67 in 63 innings pitched. Straily earned PCL Pitcher of the Week honors on May 26, 2014.

Good luck to all the players on their new teams!

Showoff Sunday: California League Coaches – South Division

I’m a couple of days late with this, so we will call this the Wednesday Edition of Showoff Sunday. This week I will continue with the autograph collection I have amassed this season of the coaches in the California League. The focus of this post will be on the coaches in the South Division.

The teams in the South Division include Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Inland Empire 66ers, Lancaster JetHawks, High Desert Mavericks and the Lake Elsinore Storm. At this point in the season only the Quakes, Mavericks and Storm have made the trip up north to Stockton.

During the first weekend of May, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes made their one and only trip to Stockton. On the coaching staff is former MLB pitcher Matt Herges. He has been the pitching coach with the Quakes for a couple of years now. I have already had a few cards signed by Matt, so this year I only found one card of his that I did not have autographed.

Matt Herges Autographed Card: 2002 Bowman Chrome

Matt Herges Autographed Card: 2002 Bowman Chrome

From April 25-27th the High Desert Mavericks made their first of 2 trips to Banner Island Ballpark. The coaching staff consists of 2 former Major Leaguers: Max Venable (hitting) and Andrew Lorraine (pitching).

I was able to get these 4 cards signed by Max Venable.

Max Venable Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1986, 1987 Topps

Max Venable Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1986, 1987 Topps

At the time I only had one card for Andrew Lorraine to sign. I will be better prepared when the Mavericks come back to town this coming weekend.

Andrew Lorraine Autographed Card: 1996 Upper Deck Collector's Choice

Andrew Lorraine Autographed Card: 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice

The other South Division team that has made the trip to Stockton is the Lake Elsinore Storm. The Storm made their annual pilgrimage to Banner Island Ballpark from April 21-24. To me the Storm has 2 of the bigger names in the California League coaching staff: Jamie Quirk (manager) and Jody Davis (hitting coach).

I was able to get 6 cards (5 Chicago Cubs and 1 Atlanta Braves) signed by Jody Davis.

Jody Davis Autographed Cards: 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score

Jody Davis Autographed Cards: 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score

I was also lucky enough to get 6 cards (3 Kansas City Royals and 3 Oakland Athletics) signed by Jamie Quirk.

Jamie Quirk Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1990, 1992 Mother's Cookies, 1991 Donruss

Jamie Quirk Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1990, 1992 Mother’s Cookies, 1991 Donruss

I will be posting updates as the 66ers and JetHawks come to town for the first time and the Mavericks come back to Stockton.

I will also be posting an update (really soon) on the California League North coaches as I have added more cards to that autograph collection.

Hall of Fame Class of 2014

On January 8, 2014 Major League Baseball announced the results of the Hall of Fame voting for the Class of 2014. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014 are: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. These three All-Stars will be joined by Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox as the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. It is a good year for the Atlanta Braves as 3 key people of their dominant years during the 1990s will be enshrined.

Frank Thomas played the first 16 years of his career in the southside of Chicago with the White Sox. After being sidelined with injury-plagued seasons in 2004 and 2005, Frank made a huge comeback with the Oakland Athletics in 2006. He hit .270 with 39 HR and 114 RBI.

Here is a quick glance at the stats for the 3 new inductees.

Greg Maddux: 355-227, 3.16 ERA, 3371 SO, 999BB, 1.143 WHIP

Tom Glavine: 305-203, 3.54 ERA, 2607 SO, 1500BB, 1.314 WHIP

Frank Thomas: .301 BA, 2468 H, 495 2B, 521 HR, 1704 RBI, .974 OPS

One interesting question remains: Will Greg Maddux be enshrined as a Chicago Cub or an Atlanta Brave? No official announcement has been made.