# Friday, February 26, 2010
I made the drive down to Ft. Myers last night, and checked into the Holiday Inn Express on Forum Blvd.  I'll be there for 3 nights while I hang out at Twins camp trying to get some Jim Thome stuff done.

The place was a zoo, and as such I didn't do all that well.  Just about everybody signed at some point, but you had to pick and choose who to go for.  Of course, I followed Jim Thome around.  Here is what I got:

Jim Thome - 1/1
Joe Nathan - 1/2, 1/1
Denard Span - 2/2
Carl Pavano - 1/2
Alexei Casilla - 2/2
Jesse Crain - 1/4, 2/2
Ron Gardenhire - 2/2
Mike Maroth - 2/2
Juan Portes - 2/2
Wilson Ramos - 3/3
Danny Rams - 4/4
Jon Rauch - 4/4
Matt Tolbert - 1/1, 1/1
Loek Van Mil - 1/1

Joe Mauer signed around 40-50 autographs, for a group of 300 or so.  Unfortunately, I just missed getting him.

Morneau signed a couple of times, and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Denard Span is a great guy.  He signed everything, and he was very personable.  Jon Rauch was pretty cool too.  When I handed him my book, I told him I was a huge White Sox fan and that I was very happy to be getting him.  With a hard look on his face, he handed my book right back to me without signing anything... then he cracked a smile and took it back.

Thome was very friendly, but he didn't sign a whole lot.  I only got him because I shadowed him the entire time he was working out.  At one point, he walked across a field to a building with some gym equipment.  A little kid chased him across the field and asked him to sign.  Thome obliged.  When Thome came back a few minutes later, I said "I bet you were shocked when you turned around and saw that little kid", to which he replied "I know!".

Pictures will be posted when I get back home.

2010 Spring Training Totals - 122 cards, 1 8x10, 1 mini helmet, 1 16x20

posted on Friday, February 26, 2010 2:57:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Thursday, February 25, 2010
I went back to Astros camp today.  My main objective was getting my Carlos Lee 16x20 done.  It ended up being a very good day!

Carlos Lee - 3/3, 1/1 (16x20 w/ El Caballo inscription, White Sox mini helmet, 2 cards)
Lance Berkman - 1/1
Jeff Bagwell - 1/1, 1/1 (help)
Alberto Arias - 2/2
Brad Arnsberg - 4/4
Jason Bourgeois - 4/4
Michael Bourne - 2/4
Britt Burns - 2/8
Roy Corcoran - 3/3
Brian Esposito - 1/1
Pedro Feliz - 1/1
Jeff Keppinger - 1/1
Gary Majewski - 4/4
Bobby Meacham - 1/1
Brian Moehler - 3/3
Bud Norris - 1/1
Humberto Quintero - 1/2, 1/1
Jamie Quirk - 2/2
Polin Trinidad - 4/4

I went the extra mile to get Lee a few times today.  I arrived at the players parking lot at 6:45am.  I made a 16x20 inch sign that simply said "Please Carlos".  It's a good thing I got there early, because Lee pulled up at 7am sharp.  I was the only person there.  He began to give me his customary wave, and it was obvious he was not going to stop.  I held up the sign, and Carlos slammed on his brakes.  He rolled down his window, and I handed him the 16x20.  I started blabbing about how I'm a huge White Sox fan, and told him the sole reason that I was at Astros camp was to get his autograph.  He was nice enough to add an "El Caballo" inscription upon request.  I then asked if he would mind signing a couple of cards, and he did.  Great guy!

Unfortunately, Geoff Blum was not as accomodating.  I made an 8x10 inch sign that said "Please Geoff".  When he pulled up, he told me he would sign in the parking lot after the workout.  When he came out after the workout, he completely ignored me and drove off.  Not cool.  =(

I got an inside tip that Jeff Bagwell would be arriving today, and it turned out to be true.  He arrived in the players lot after the workout had ended.  After about an hour or so inside, he came out.  He was nice enough to pull over and sign one per for the 8 or so of us that were still there.  I asked if he would mind signing a baseball too, and he said "Just one today".  In any case, a great success.

The surprise of the day was Lance Berkman.  He did not sign inside, and I was sure he wouldn't be one to pull over.  Lo and behold, that is exactly what he did!  There were quite a few people there at that point too. 

I will post pictures later!

2010 Spring Training Totals - 91 cards, 1 8x10, 1 mini helmet, 1 16x20

posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 8:08:46 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
Carlos Lee signed 3 items for me at 7am this morning, including a 16x20 with "El Caballo" inscription! I'm a very happy guy! Details and pictures will be posted when I get to my hotel in Fort Myers tonight.
posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010 8:05:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I went to Kissimmee today for the Houston Astros Full Workout.  I got there really early to graph the parking lot... which was a mistake as nobody at all signed.  To make matters worse, it started pouring at around 8am.  I decided to head to Denny's for some breakfast, and debated calling it a day.  Once I finished breakfast, the rain had stopped, so I headed back to the Astros facility.  I got there just before they opened the gates to the public.  I'm glad I went back, as it ended up being a pretty good day.

Carlos Lee - 1/2
Lance Berkman - 1/2
Roy Oswalt - 1/2
Hunter Pence - 1/2
Pedro Feliz - 2/2
Jason Castro - 2/2
Matt Lindstrom - 2/2
Sean Berry - 2/2
Brian Bogusevic - 2/2
Chris Johnson - 3/3
Jeff Keppinger - 3/4
Brandon Lyon - 1/2
Tommy Manzella - 1/1
Edwin Maysonet - 1/1
Bobby Meacham - 3/3
Oswaldo Navarro - 2/2
Al Pedrique - 3/3
Chris Sampson - 2/4
Wladimir Sutil - 1/1
J.R. Towles - 1/1
Jose Valdez - 3/3

Not bad at all.  I was disappointed that I didn't get any of the former White Sox that were there, with the exception of El Caballo.  Hopefully I'll be able to get Britt Burns, Jason Bourgeois, Geoff Blum, and Gary Majewski tomorrow.

Some guys that seemed especially nice:  Bobby Meacham, Hunter Pence, Matt Lindstrom, Tommy Manzella.  When I asked Manzella if he would sign, his response was "of course".  I liked that!

Someone that didn't seem very nice:  Roy Oswalt.  He did line everybody up and sign 1 per for the whole line, so I can't complain too much.  But he never responded to anybody's thank you's or praise.  He could definitely have been a lot more personable. 

The Astros big names all seemed to do the same thing.  Line everybody up and do one per.  From what I hear, Oswalt and Berkman are pretty tough, so I was glad to get both in the same day.  We'll see if I'm so lucky tomorrow.

2010 Spring Training Totals - 49 cards, 1 8x10

posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 4:56:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Next up in "Project Rookie Card" is one of my very favorite White Sox players of the 1950's, Jim Landis.  Jim beautifully signed this card for me in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago during Soxfest 2009. 

posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:01:28 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Monday, February 22, 2010
Added another baseball to my growing "South Side Hitmen" collection.  Today's mail brought an Eric Soderholm baseball, complete with inscription and jersey number.

posted on Monday, February 22, 2010 6:06:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Sunday, February 21, 2010
I have officially come out of retirement!  I did some Spring Training graphing for the first time since 2004.  I'm taking some time off to attend some Twins spring training workouts in Fort Myers, as well as some Astros workouts in Kissimmee.  My main objectives for those two camps are Jim Thome, Carlos Lee, and Britt Burns.  Other former Sox in camp for those teams include Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Geoff Blum, and Jason Bourgeois. 

At the last minute, I decided to do some graphing today.  I went to the Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, FL to catch an Atlanta Braves pitchers and catchers workout.  I was hoping to see an early Chipper Jones appearance.  To that end, I was disappointed.

The Braves are still the only team that I'm aware of that charges admission for workouts.  I'm sure that is more of a Disney thing than a Braves thing, but it is still pretty annoying.  Let's see what I got for my $13.50.

Derek Lowe - 1/2
Nate McClouth - 2/2
Billy Wagner - 1/2
Takashi Saito - 2/2
Tommy Hanson - 1/1
Jordan Schafer - 2/2
Eddie Perez - 2/2
Roger McDowell - 1/1

I'm not sure why older Fleer cards always scan like that.  The McDowell looks perfectly normal, nothing like the picture above shows.

Nothing too exciting, though getting Derek Lowe was a pleasant surprise.  I was disappointed to see LOTS of people handing Takashi Saito Kenshin Kawakami items.  THEY LOOK NOTHING ALIKE.  To his credit, Saito took it well, always with a smile on his face.  At one point, he turned his back to the crowd, pointed at the name on the back of his jersey and said "I'm Saito!".

Brian McCann and Jair Jurrjens both signed, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Lots of other guys signed, but I didn't have anything for them.

Next up on my spring training agenda will be Astros camp on Wednesday and Thursday.  If you are going to be there, please let me know and we can meet up!

2010 Spring Training Totals - 12 cards

posted on Sunday, February 21, 2010 3:55:38 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Saturday, February 20, 2010
I received a very nice baseball from Ralph Garr yesterday.  I sent baseballs to Ralph, Alan Bannister, and Eric Soderholm, asking for the same inscription.  For Mr. Garr, I included a $10 fee.  The baseball looks amazing:

My collection now includes baseballs with this same inscription from Garr, Chet Lemon, Jorge Orta, and Oscar Gamble.  My goal is to get all of the main offensive players from the 1977 White Sox.  Jim Spencer will most likely be impossible, as I doubt there are many baseballs floating around out there with this exact inscription.  Richie Zisk may prove tough as well, as he has apparently stopped signing autographs.

posted on Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:21:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Friday, February 19, 2010
Next in the "Project Rookie Card" series will be Ray Durham.  Ray-Ray signed this card for me during a series against the Angels during his rookie season, 1995.  He was the most energetic, enthusiastic player I have ever met... with the possible exception of Rex Hudler.

posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 10:57:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #   
# Thursday, February 18, 2010
In honor of The Big Hurt's recent retirement announcement, the next entry in "Project Rookie Card" will be none other than Frank Thomas.  I've mentioned this before, but to this day this is my favorite autographed card in my entire collection.

Some day I hope to add a signed 1990 Leaf Thomas RC as well.
posted on Thursday, February 18, 2010 10:48:45 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #