2017 Spring Training TTMs Batch #1

So I sent out my first batch of Spring Training TTMs yesterday. For this batch I sent a total of 20 requests. 13 to Oakland Athletics, 2 to Houston Astros, 2 to Philadelphia Phillies, 1 to San Diego Padres, 1 to Minnesota Twins and 1 to Atlanta Braves. Quite a few of these players have a good track record for responses. A couple have no track record, so who knows if they’ll sign. Unlike last year, I’m not sending out a super long shot, like Mark McGwire. I took a chance and it didn’t work, but I only lost 1 card that I have a lot of so it’s not really a loss.

Here’s the breakdown:

Oakland Athletics
Sean Doolittle
Kendall Graveman
Jesse Hahn
Liam Hendriks
Ryan Dull
Jharel Cotton
Sean Manaea
Marcus Semien
Jaycob Brugman
Mark Canha
Jake Smolinski
Bruce Maxwell
Ryon Healy

Houston Astros
A.J. Reed
Kyle Tucker

Philadelphia Phillies
Pat Neshek
Matt Stairs

San Diego Padres
Travis Jankowski

Minnesota Twins
Hector Santiago

Atlanta Braves
Sean Newcomb

Sean Doolittle and Marcus Semien are very good at signing. I have received successes from Doolittle in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Semien in 2015 and 2016. 6 of the others on the list I have received successes from in the past. I hope to get a better success rate than what I had last year. 50 percent is a great return rate from active players, but I always hope for better.

Right now, I am planning a second Spring Training batch. I’m not sure how many I’ll send with this one. I’m always open to suggestions. So, if you know of some players with good track records, please comment below. I’m especially interested in guys who were in either the 2016 Topps Pro Debut or 2017 Topps, but I’m not limited to those.

2016 Spring Training TTM Returns

With the 2017 Spring Training getting under way (combined with my absence from this blog), I thought it would be a good time to recap my 2016 Spring Training TTM successes. Last year I sent 2 batches of TTMs to Spring Training camps. The first was on February 16th and included the following players:

Mark McGwire
Sean Doolittle
Stephen Vogt
Billy Burns
Mark Canha
Jed Lowrie
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez
Jesse Hahn

The second batch was mailed on March 1st and included the following players:

Marcus Semien
Jesse Chavez
A.J. Reed
Eric Sogard
Joe Wendle
Chris Bassitt
Max Muncy
Ron Washington
Juan Samuel

In total I sent out 20 requests. To date, I have received back 10 successes. A 50% success rate. Not quite what I hoped. Here is the list again with the date I have received the success.

Mark McGwire (long shot, I know)
Sean Doolittle – March 7, 2016
Stephen Vogt
Billy Burns
Mark Canha – March 1, 2016
Jed Lowrie
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez – March 18, 2016
Jesse Hahn – April 1, 2016
Marcus Semien – March 10, 2016
Jesse Chavez
A.J. Reed – April 4, 2016
Eric Sogard
Joe Wendle – June 24, 2016
Chris Bassitt – March 25, 2016
Max Muncy – March 10, 2016
Ron Washington
Juan Samuel – March 10, 2016

I will update this list should I receive any more returns.

In spite of only a 50% return rate (so far) I still plan to send out a bunch of Spring Training TTMs this year. I currently have a batch of 20 ready to go. This batch contains 13 A’s players, 2 Phillies, 2 Astros, 1 Padres, 1 Twins, 1 Braves, but those details are for another post.

Coming Back

For a while I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to continue this blog. It’s been almost a year since my last post. In that time I have met a lot of great people, mostly online through Twitter and Instagram, I’ve seen A LOT of baseball and I’ve had many amazing experiences.

I have decided that instead of using this blog for posting A’s and A’s related news, I am going to use it as a forum for my baseball experience, along with some life experiences thrown in.

I don’t know how often I’ll post. It will likely be inconsistent at best. I will try to write something at least once a week. A lot depends on my mood and if I have something to write about… who am I kidding, I have a lot to write about. It really depends on my mood, do I really feel like typing.

Here are a couple of pics from recent events and TTM returns that will serve as a prelude for some of my future posts. I hope you will enjoy!

Oakland A’s FanFest and a Curt Young game worn jersey I picked up at FanFest.

A couple of my favorite recent TTM successes. Storm Davis and Juan Gonzalez!

Spring Training TTM Batch No. 1 Ready

It’s that time of the year. Pitchers and Catchers start reporting this week and soon Spring Training will be in full swing. It is also the time where I send a couple of TTM batches to current Major and Minor Leaguers in hopes of getting their autographs on some cards.

This year my first batch is almost exclusively Oakland Athletics. Honestly this is no different than in years past. There is only one non-Athletics player and that is Daniel Robertson of the Tampa Bay Rays. As many know he was drafted by and played for the Athletics’ minor league system until he was traded prior to the 2015 season.

In the first batch there are 11 players/coaches that I am sending requests to. Usually my batches are in groups of 10, but I had a couple of extra stamps so I decided to add one more. 4 of these players are ones I have received TTM successes from in the past. 7 I have not sent to before. 1 of those 7 can be classified as “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” (i.e. Long Shot)

Here is the list of players in the first batch:

Sean Doolittle*
Stephen Vogt*
Billy Burns*
Mark Canha
Jed Lowrie*
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez
Jesse Hahn

The Long Shot:
Mark McGwire

From time to time I see successes from Mark McGwire so I figured why not? What’s the worst that is going to happen? I lose 1 card. The potential reward far out weighs the risk.

*Received prior successes.

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.

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!

TTM Success 12/24/2014: Danny Tartabull

On Christmas Eve I received another good success. This time I received 5 cards autographed by Danny Tartabull. Danny was a 14-year Major-League veteran who was selected for the 1991 All-Star game as a member of the Kansas City Royals. In 1995, Danny was traded to the Oakland Athletics. He played in only 24 games for the Athletics. Danny retired after the 1997 season. He holds a career batting average of .273 and totaled 262 home runs.

Danny signed 5 cards for me: 1987 Fleer, 1987 Fleer Update, 1988 Topps, 1996 Fleer, 1996 Topps Stadium Club

TTM Autographs of Danny Tartabull

TTM Autographs of Danny Tartabull

I received this success in 20 days. Thank you Danny!

TTM Batch Contents

Over the past couple of weeks I have revised my approach to sending out TTM requests. Typically one batch consists of 1 book of stamps. This allows for between 5 and 10 requests to be sent. This is dependent on how many cards I send to each player. The batches will be broken down into the following minimum requirements.

2 Oakland Athletics players
2 from any of the following set:
-1981 Fleer
-1987 Fleer
-1988 Topps
1 Pre-1976 player

If there are more stamps available, then requests can be from any category. I selected the year 1976 since that is my birth year.

I have organized my batches in this way because I have been wanting to have more vintage cards signed. Also this help me to maintain my focus within the TTMs.

One of my big-picture goals is to get at least on card signed from every Major League Team including ones that have moved or no longer exist. This is a tough goal when considering some teams have not been around since the early-1950s. The Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City after the 1954 season. The St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles after the 1953 season.

However, doing some research I found that there are some players who are still alive and are willing to sign cards and other items through the mail.

In my latest batch that I sent out I wrote to former Kansas City Athletics pitcher Bud Daley who was an All-Star in the 1959 and 1960 seasons. I included 2 cards a 1959 and 1960 Topps for him to sign. (I will post photos when I get these back)

My next batch (and last for 2014) will include 2 players from the 1950s and 1960s. The first is former Kansas City Athletics outfielder Russ Snyder. Here are the 1960 and 1961 Topps cards I will be sending out.

Russ Snyder 1960 and 1961 Topps

Russ Snyder 1960 and 1961 Topps

The second is exciting to me. If successful it will be my first Philadelphia Athletics card signed. The player is former shortstop, Joe DeMaestri. Joe played with the Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics from 1953-1959. He was an All-Star in 1957. Here are the 1954 Bowman and 1960 Topps cards I will be sending.

Joe DeMaestri 1954 Bowman and 1960 Topps

Joe DeMaestri 1954 Bowman and 1960 Topps

The only reason I am sending a New York Yankees cards is because I am trying to get 1960 Topps cards signed when ever I can. It is one of my favorites of the vintage designs. Joe did also play for the St. Louis Browns in 1952, but I have not yet found a card in the condition I want that I can afford.

These goals will be a challenge, but it is exciting to find players from these organizations that are still around that are willing to sign.