An Incredible Experience at Banner Island Ballpark

I’ve been collecting in person autographs for about the past five years. It is something that I am very passionate about. I do not sell my autographs, occasionally I’ll trade for players/teams I can’t get on the West Coast.  I just do this for fun and to meet ball players. I don’t expect players to sign everything I have. If they only sign one, then that’s fine with me.

Every once in a while I have an experience that is truly incredible and beyond words. Last night I had one of those experiences! May 6th was the Stockton Ports Annual Alumni Night. Unfortunately the way it works they never really know who is going to come to the event until they actually show up. Some alumni will RSVP the week of the game, but some just happen to show up.

So a good friend of mine, Jesse, and I were graphing that night and the Ports were introducing the Alumni that were there and they announced a very familiar name: Dion James.

I know Dion still lives in the Sacramento area. I sent a TTM request in October 2015. I received the cards back signed in just 2 weeks. I just had no idea he would be there.

Dion was a first round draft pick in 1980, 25th overall, by the Milwaukee Brewers. He was drafted out of McClatchy High School in Sacramento. Dion played 11 seasons in the Majors with the Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees.  Dion played 124 games for the Stockton Ports in 1981 batting .304 with 43 stolen bases.

Stockton Ports MLB Wall

Stockton Ports in the MLB graphic at Banner island Ballpark. Dion James: Year Played in Stockton 1981, MLB Debut 1983

I’ve learned to always carry a ROMLB with me because you never know who is going to show up at the ballpark. We found Dion on the concourse looking at some of the graphics and banners the Ports have posted around the ballpark. We approached him and asked for his autograph. He was more than happy to do it for us.

Dion James Ball

ROMLB Signed by Dion James

He signed a ball for me and an autograph card for Jesse. Then he said “I have something special for you guys. Hold on a moment.” He pulled out a stack of his own cards and proceeded to give 3 cards to the 2 of us and signed them all. I took the one I wanted and Jesse got the other two. Dion shook our hands thanked us for asking him to sign and being a fan. He also commented to us, “you made my day.” I said to him, ” Mr. James, you made my day!”

Dion James Card

1985 Fleer given to me by Dion James

Interactions like this will always make me a fan of a person for life! He was really nice when we asked him to sign and I would have been happy with the ball. The fact that he give us some of his own cards and signed them for us is above and beyond anything I could have expected. Thank you so much Dion for the experience! I will always remember it!

Autographs from Nashville’s West Coast Road Trip

From May 21 through May 28th the Nashville Sounds went on a West Coast road trip that took them through Fresno and Sacramento.  Being in Stockton I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the Oakland Athletics AAA club play. My family and I went to 2 games: Sunday, May 24th in Fresno and Tuesday, May 26th in Sacramento. Between the 2 games I took 60 cards of current players (at the time) on the Nashville Sounds roster. In total I was able to get 30 cards, 4 8×10 photos and 1 MLB Baseball autographed. This was a huge success!

Anthony Aliotti was one of the best signers he signed for me a total of 9 cards, 6 on May 24th and 3 on May 26th. Of these cards only 2 were duplicates.

Anthony Aliotti Autographed Cards - May 24 & 26, 2015 (1 of 3)

Anthony Aliotti Autographed Cards – May 24 & 26, 2015 (1 of 3)

Anthony Aliotti Autographed Cards - May 24 & 26, 2015 (2 of 3)

Anthony Aliotti Autographed Cards – May 24 & 26, 2015 (2 of 3)

Anthony Aliotti Autographed Cards - May 24 & 26, 2015 (3 of 3)

Anthony Aliotti Autographed Cards – May 24 & 26, 2015 (3 of 3)

Joe Wendle the Athletics #13 Top Prospect signed 3 cards for me (May 24th) including a 2014 Bowman Chrome Black Refractor.

Joe Wendle Autographed Cards - May 24, 2015

Joe Wendle Autographed Cards – May 24, 2015

Ryan Roberts, an MLB journeyman, signed 4 cards for me on May 26th.

Ryan Roberts Autographed Cards - May 26, 2015

Ryan Roberts Autographed Cards – May 26, 2015

The very tall Nate Freiman was on the disabled list during this road trip, but still traveled with the team. Nate signed 3 cards on May 26th. Kent Matthes, former Colorado Rockies farmhand, stopped to sign 1 card for me on May 24th.

Nate Freiman and Kent Matthes Autographed Cards - May 24 & 26, 2015

Nate Freiman and Kent Matthes Autographed Cards – May 24 & 26, 2015

Catcher, Bryan Anderson, signed a total of 6 cards for me. 3 of them on May 24th and 3 on May 26th.

Bryan Anderson Autographed Cards - May 24 & 26, 2015

Bryan Anderson Autographed Cards – May 24 & 26, 2015

Reliever Ryan Cook was nice enough to autograph 2 cards for me. Former Cleveland Indians pitcher and current Sounds pitching coach Don Schulze signed 2 cards as well.

Ryan Cook and Don Schulze Autographed Cards - May 24, 2015

Ryan Cook and Don Schulze Autographed Cards – May 24, 2015

In a previous post I talked about rehab autographs. May 24th I was able to get Ben Zobrist, who was on rehab or the Athletics to sign a MLB Baseball.

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.

All in all the 2 games I attended were a lot of fun. I did get to see switch pitcher Pat Venditte pitch against the Fresno Grizzlies, one of the better highlights for me. I did get Venditte to autograph 2 8×10 photos for me and 1 for a friend. I also got reliever Seth Frankoff’s auto on an 8×10. Both of these player’s autos were acquired on May 24th. I will post photos of these 8x10s at a later date.

Hopefully it will not be too long before Nashville comes back around.

Athletics Trade Brandon Moss for Joey Wendle

The Oakland Athletics have a track record for making a splash at the Winter Meetings and this year is no exception. The Athletics traded 2014 All-Star Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians for their No. 9 Prospect, second baseman, Joey Wendle. This move comes nearly 2 weeks after All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and a couple of top pitching prospects.

Brandon Moss is a power bat who hit .231 with 25 home runs in 2014 for the Athletics. The 2014 season was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type season for Moss. Before the All-Star break Moss was batting .261 with 21 home runs in 89 games. After the break Moss retreated batting .173 with only 4 home runs in his final 58 games. Moss regained his confidence just in time for the Wild Card game, where he provided most of the Athletics offense in that game blasting 2 home runs and driving in 5 run. However it wasn’t enough for the playoff run to continue.

Joey Wendle will likely start the season with Triple A, Nashville Sounds and could easily make the 25-man roster by mid-season. Wendle hit .253 with 8 home runs in 87 games for the Arkon RubberDucks (AA) in 2014 before being sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist. In 2013 Wendle was named a Post Season All-Star with the Carolina Mudcats as well as a MiLB Organization All-Star for the Indians.

Joey Wendle appears to be the long term answer for the second base needs of the Oakland Athletics.

Scoreboard: May 16, 2014

Friday night was an organizational sweep for the Oakland Athletics. The Oakland Athletics decisively won 11-1 against the Cleveland Indians. In the farm system the Sacramento River Cats dominated the Tacoma Raniers. The Midland RockHounds and Stockton Ports both scored the go ahead run late in the game to secure the victory. The Beloit Snappers were the biggest winners of the night as they swept a double header against the Clinton LumberKings. On Saturday each team will continue their respective series.

Elephant Farm Scoreboard
AAA
Tacoma Rainiers 5
Sacramento River Cats 11

AA
Midland RockHounds 9
Corpus Christi Hooks 7

A Advanced
Bakersfield Blaze 7
Stockton Ports 9

A Full
Beloit Snappers 1
Clinton LumberKings 0
Game 1

Beloit Snappers 5
Clinton LumberKings 2
Game 2

Baseball Season is in Full Swing

The beginning of April brings the beginning of the baseball season. The season actually started, in full, on March 31st, but that’s close enough. The Oakland Athletics dropped the season opener by a score of 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians. The 2 runs came in the top of the 9th inning off the new closer Jim Johnson.

So far in this young season the Athletics have had 2 games postponed. 1 due to rain and the other due to unplayable infield conditions. The rain out was made up the next day as a part of a split double header. No make up date for the second postponement has been announced at this time. It has been quite an interesting first week for the green and gold.

The first week wraps up tomorrow as the Athletics take on the Seattle Mariners. Sonny Gray (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will face off against Erasmo Ramirez (1-0, 2.57 ERA). Sony was the Opening Night starter and pitched 6 strong innings striking out 7 receiving a no decision.

TTM Success 03/12/2014: Chris Codiroli

On Wednesday March 12th I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics pitcher Chris Codiroli. He pitched for the Athletics from 1982-87. During his tenure he amassed a 38-42 record, posted a 4.66 ERA and struck out 292 batters in 124 games. Chris’s best year was in 1985 when he went 14-14 with a 4.46 ERA in 37 games (all starts) while striking out 111 batters. Chris also pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 1988 (14 games) and the Kansas City Royals in 1990 (6 games).

Chris signed 4 cards for me: 1983 Topps Traded, 1984 Donruss, 1985 Fleer and 1987 Fleer.

TTM Autographs of Chris Codiroli

TTM Autographs of Chris Codiroli

Spring Training Prospect Update 03/19/2014

So I’m a couple of days late for this update, but that’s okay. In Spring Training the Oakland Athletics are 10-8-5 heading into play today. Dan Straily will take the mound as the Athletics take on Danny Salazar and the Cleveland Indians at 1:05 at Goodyear Ballpark, the Indians’s Spring Training home. Here is how the Athletics prospects are progressing this Spring.

Position Players
Anthony Aliotti, 1st base: 0-3 in 3 games
Billy Burns, outfield: 14-52, 10 runs scored, 8 stolen bases in 18 games
Chris Giminez, catcher: 4-23, 3 walks in 19 games
Jose Martinez, 2nd base: 6-25, 3 RBI, 3 runs scored in 16 games
*Bruce Maxwell, catcher: 1-4, 1 2B in 4 games
Billy McKinney, outfield: 4-10, 1 2B, 2 RBI in 9 games
Luke Montz, catcher: 7-24, 2 HR, 5 RBI in 13 games
*Max Muncy, 1st base: 1-1, 1 run scored, 1 RBI in 1 game
Ryan Ortiz: 1-2 in 2 games
Shane Peterson, outfield/1st base: 2-12, 4 walks, 1 RBI in 10 games
Daniel Robertson, shortstop: 4-17, 1 RBI in 13 games
*Addison Russell, shortstop: 7-25, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 stolen base in 12 games
Michael Taylor, outfield: 14-48, 3 5B, 3 HR, 9 RBIs in 20 games

Pitchers
*Raul Alcantara: 4 IP, 2 SO
*Ryan Dull: 67.50 ERA, 5 ER, 0.2 IP, 1 SO
*Seth Frankoff: 1 IP, 1 SO
Arnold Leon: 2.79 ERA, 9.2 IP, 7 SO
Zach Neal: 1 W, 3.2 IP, 6 SO
Drew Pomeranz: 0-1, 4.26 ERA, 6.1 IP, 11 SO
Paul Smyth: 3 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1 SO
*Jeff Urlaub: 1 W, 1.1 IP
*Michael Ynoa: 3 IP,9.00 ERA, 3 SO

*Reassigned to Minor League Camp.

New in Oakland, Part 1: Pitchers

This is the first installment of a 3 part series introducing the newest members of the Oakland Athletics. These players were either signed as a free agent or traded for during the off season.  This first installment will introduce the new pitchers on Oakland’s 40-man roster.  These players may or may not make the opening day lineup, but figure prominently in Oakland’s future.

Scott Kazmir, starting pitcher – Scott was signed as a free agent to a 2 year contract in December. The 30 year old missed the entire 2012 season and made a comeback with the Cleveland Indians last year. In 2013 he went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA, 162 strikeouts and 1.32 WHIP in 29 games.  Scott figures to be the Athletics’ No. 2 started behind Jarrod Parker.

Jim Johnson, closer – Jim was acquired by the Athletics in exchange for the struggling Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas. Jim was a league leader in saves last year as he earned 50 in 59 opportunities. Jim has a 2.94 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. Jim will take over the closer role previously occupied by Grant Balfour.

Eric O’Flaherty, relief pitcher – Eric was signed as a free agent to a 2 year contract in January. You can see our post about it here: A’s sign O’Flaherty. While Eric is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not be available until mid-season, Eric was an anchor of the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves over the past 5 years. In his MLB career Eric is 20-9 with a 2.85 ERA, 245 strikeouts in 343 games with the Braves and the Seattle Mariners.

Fernando Abad, relief pitcher – Fernando was dealt by the Washington Nationals to the Athletics for Minor League outfielder John Wooten. In 2013 Fernando was 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 39 relief appearances

Luke Gregerson, relief pitcher – Luke was dealt to the Athletics by the San Diego Padres for outfielder Seth Smith. In 2013 Luke was a workhorse on the Padres staff compiling a 6-8 record with a 2.71 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 73 relief appearances.

Josh Lindblom, relief pitcher – Josh was a part of the trade that brought Chris Gentry from the Texas Rangers to the Athletics for Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. It is likely that Josh will start the season with the Sacramento River Cats, but he could figure prominently in the bullpen later in the season. In limited duty with the Rangers Josh went 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in 8 games, 5 of which were starts.

Drew Pomeranz, starting pitcher – Drew was acquired by the Athletics along with minor leaguer Chris Jensen in the trade that sent Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies. Drew will begin the year with the Sacramento River Cats and figures to be a starter with the Athletics some time in the next year or two. Drew pitched in 8 games, 4 starts, last season for the Rockies and compiled an 0-4 record, 6.23 ERA in 21.2 innings.

TTM Success 01/21/2014: Alvin Dark

Yesterday I received my latest TTM success.  This time it was from former Oakland Athletics manager Alvin Dark.  He autographed a 1987 Oakland Athletics Mother’s Cookies card.  He also included a religious pamphlet talking about his story and how he found Christ.  Unfortunately the pamphlet is not autographed.  The autograph seen is pre-printed.

Alvin began his baseball career as a shortstop for the Boston Braves and was named the 1948 National League Rookie of the Year. His playing career lasted until 1960. In addition to the Braves, Alvin played for the New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.

In 1961 Alvin made the switch to the dugout when he became the manager for the San Francisco Giants.  Alvin also managed for the Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres.  His managerial career lasted until 1977 when he managed the second half of the season for the San Diego Padres.

Alvin is currently 92 years old and as of January 2014 he is the oldest living manager of a World Series winning, Pennant winning or Post-Season team.

TTM Autograph of Alvin Dark

TTM Autograph of Alvin Dark

Athletics exercise club options for Crisp and Anderson

Two highly expected moves were formally announced on Friday.  The Oakland Athletics exercise the club options for outfielder, Coco Crisp and left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson.

Coco was the main spark plug for the Athletics’s return to the postseason.  He batted .267 with an on base percentage of .335 in 131 games this season.  Coco also set a new career high for home runs with 22, doubling his total from 2012.  His previous best was 16 back in 2005 when he played for the Cleveland Indians.

Brett Anderson struggled once again with the injury bug in 2013.  He did get into 16 games, his highest total since 2010, but only 5 were starts.  Brett proved valuable for the Athletics in the stretch drive as he came out of the bullpen.  On the season he went 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA.  Brett did tally 46 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.  Brett’s future role with the Athletics is dependent on whether or not they can resign the 40 year old Bartolo Colon.  Colon returned to his All-Star for this year collecting an 18-6 record.

2 Club Options Declined
Not surprisingly the Oakland Athletics declined the club options for veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki and struggling outfielder Chris Young.

Kurt filled in at catcher quite nicely when John Jaso and Derek Norris were banged up late in the season.  However, with the emergence of Stephen Vogt and a healthy Derek Norris the is simply no room for Kurt.

Chris has one of his worst seasons as he played in 107 games and batted a measly .200.  The only upside for the outfielder was the 12 home runs he hit this season.  Barring any off season acquisitions this move makes room for No. 2 Prospect Michael Choice to get extended playing time at the Major League level.