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!

TTM Success 12/12/2014: Rob Picciolo

Last Friday, I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics shortstop Rob Picciolo. Rob played 9 season in the majors with the Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers and California Angels. He was a coach in the San Diego Padres organization from 1990-2005 and with the Angels from 2006-13.

Rob signed 4 cards for me: 1981 Fleer, 1979, 80 & 81 Topps.

TTM Autographs of Rob Picciolo

TTM Autographs of Rob Picciolo

Showoff Sunday: California League Coaches – North Division

In this edition of Showoff Sunday I will be displaying autographed cards of former Major League Players turned California League Coaches. At this time there are 15 coaches in the California League who have had Major League experience. The range of experience is anywhere from 1 or 2 seasons to more than 10 years.

For this post I will focus on the North Division of the California League which includes the Stockton Ports, Modesto Nuts, San Jose Giants, Visalia Rawhide and the Bakersfield Blaze. I will begin with the coaching staff of the Stockton Ports. Manager Ryan Christenson played with 4 teams including the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers. I have had 12 cards singed by Ryan so far this season.

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #1

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #1

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #2

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #2

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #3

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #3

The pitching coach for the Stockton Ports is John Wasdin. John has MLB experience with 7 different team, but most notably the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. To date, I have been able to get 6 cards autographed by John this season.

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #1

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #1

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #2

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #2

Next up is the pitching coach for the Visalia Rawhide, Gil Heredia. Gil came up in the San Francisco Giants organization and played with 3 other teams the Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos and Oakland Athletics. I got 3 cards signed by Gil during Visala’s first series in Stockton (April 10-13, 2014).

Gil Heredia Autographed Cards

Gil Heredia Autographed Cards

The last cards I will feature on this post is the current San Jose Giants manager Lenn Sakata. Lenn is best known for his time with the Baltimore Orioles. He also played for the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics. I got these 3 cards signed during the recent series against the Ports in Stockton (May 13-15, 2014).

Lenn Sakata Autographed Cards

Lenn Sakata Autographed Cards

There are a few other coaches in the Northern Division that I have yet to get autographs from this season. Those former players include Dave Burba (San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians), Tom Browning (Cincinnati Reds), Pat Kelly (Toronto Blue Jays) and Robby Hammond (Arizona Diamondbacks).

Next week I will feature the coaches in the California League South Division.