|Anyone know you made this? I'd like to give proper credit for it.|
Alright, I want in! The latest Blog Bat Around comes courtesy of Zippy Zappy from the blog Torren' Up Cards. He challenged his fellow bloggers to come up with a starting lineup of autographs in your possession. If this had been a card only challenge, I probably would have passed. Most of my autographs are on baseballs, not cardboard. With the autograph on anything stipulation, it was an easy lineup to make.
Catcher: Mitch Garver
Disclaimer: I intended this spot for former Red Sox/current Yankee broadcaster John Flaherty, but I couldn't find the ball with his autograph on it! (Whoops!) Garver is currently a backup catcher for the Twins. When I went to Spring Training last March, they were one of the teams I got to see play. I stood along the 3rd base line to try and get autographs as players were getting ready for the game. Garver was the only player to sign for me then (although I did get quite a few more on the other side of the diamond and again after the game.)
1st Base: Adam LaRoche
Adam LaRoche's signature is the bottom one in this photo. He was with the Washington Nationals at the time, and was very pleasant. He can't help but respect the man for how he left the game.
2nd Base: Bobby Doerr
The first baseball card in my lineup, and the first Hall of Famer! I picked this card up off of eBay about 15 years ago.
Shortstop: Carlos Correa
Here's a instance of getting in on a player/team before they get hot. I snagged multiple signatures of players from the Houston Astros in 2015. Among the names was top prospect Carlos Correa, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year that season!
3rd Base: Manny Machado
Not only did I get
Outfielder: Mickey Mantle
This is the second time I've shared this card on this blog. I was lucky enough to attend a card show in Niagara Falls where he was signing. I was so awestruck meeting him that I think I barely squeaked out a "thank you" as I moved along the line.
Outfielder: Jim Rice
Another Disclaimer: I don't know if this is authentic, and the child in me doesn't care. This helmet was rescued by one of my uncles. The shop it was from was getting rid of inventory, by which I mean this hat had a date with a dumpster. I apologize for the poor photo quality, but you should be able to see Jim Rice's signature on the brim of the helmet.
Outfielder: Adam Jones
Usually, I'll take as many autographs on one ball as I can get, but every now and then I score a big name as my first sign, and I'll stash it away and start a new ball for anyone else I may get. Adam Jones was one of those times.
Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez
I almost missed out on this one. The ushers in Sarasota are some of the best around - stern, but polite. After hanging around the 3rd base line and trying to get any Red Sox player, the ushers told us we had 10 minutes before we had to clear the area for those who bought seats. I got a 4th string catcher (Dan Butler) before being asked to leave. I still hung out around the main pathway, and when JD started signing, I got the usher's attention and got permission to come back down. I just beat a mad rush of people, and my ball was one of the last he signed.
Starting Pitcher: Luis Tiant
The only player I have autographs on both a card and a ball, Tiant was one of my very first Spring Training successes.
Starting Pitcher: Ron Guidry
Another score from this past spring, I was amazed to get this, as I had heard he didn't sign often. Even us Red Sox fans can appreciate the career of "Louisiana Lightning!"
Starting Pitcher: Ron Darling
On one trip to Florida, we traveled to the Nationals Space Coast stadium. Just after we found a parking spot, we noticed an ESPN van with a guy setting up for a broadcast. We asked the guy who would be doing the spot, and learned it was Mr. Darling. He also informed us he was pretty good about doing autographs, so we hung around until he came out of the van. He was very gracious, signed a ball and even took a picture with us. (He actually requested we didn't share any photos online, so no blog exclusive this time!)
Closer: Andrew Miller
This is one of only 3 autographs I've pulled from a pack of cards I've bought retail. Miller is one of the top relievers in the game today, and I'm glad he's no longer a Yankee. Converting him to a bullpen specialist was the one good thing Bobby Valentine did as red Sox manager.
Manager: Terry Francona
Speaking of Red Sox managers, my wife gave me an awesome Christmas gift in 2007. Terry Francona was a guest speaker at the nearby University of Virginia, and I got to spend an evening listening to him tell antidotes about the reigning World Champions. Afterwards, I made my way up to him, where he was kind enough to take a picture with me and sign a few things. I thought this ticket stub would be more interesting than the card
So there's my lineup! Definitely not the most powerful lineup among the Bat Arounds, but one that would win its fair share of games. I'm proud of the fact that all but 3 of these autographs were obtained in person. Thanks for the blog post idea Zippy Zappy!