Friday, June 24, 2016

TTM Success: Travis Hissong

I’m on vacation! But I did set this up as a scheduled post, so let’s see if it actually works.
Yankees prospect Travis Hissong signed and returned my Rookies App custom card in 23 days c/o the High-A Tampa Yankees. At the time of writing this, Hissong, a reliever, has pitched in 18 games, striking out 44 batters in 34 innings while walking just four. His ERA is a tidy 1.32, and WHIP is a microscopic .74. He’s definitely putting himself on the map as a legit relief prospect.

In a very cool gesture, he also sent a nice hand-written note, which doesn’t happen frequently, but is always awesome when it does.
Travis, you are the man. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

(Re)packing for vacation

By the time all three of you read this post, I'll be on the road, heading to New Hampshire with my wife and kids on a week-long vacation. I need it. Between a busy last few weeks at work, and closing on the new house (which we just did on Monday!), life has been chaotic. On second thought, going on vacation with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old isn't exactly relaxing.

Three years ago, I found a great local card shop in Laconia, NH. I went to go there last year, but timed it poorly and arrived before the store was open. I didn't have enough time to go back, so I missed out. CLICK HERE to read about my experience at the card shop last time. I'm hoping they still have those $1 grab bags. If they do, I'm going to snag a bunch, and maybe hold a contest for one or two.

Anyhow, over the weekend I swung by Walgreen's to grab some items for the trip, and of course had to check out the toy aisle for some new repacks. I found one, and decided to grab it.

While I didn't snag an autograph like last time, I did come away with a few decent cards.
And this re-packer was clearly a Javy Lopez fan. I've never seen this Topps Stars set.
Overall, not the best $5 I've spent, but I've also had worse re-packs/

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Q&A with Tim Lynch, Yankees 9th Round Draft Pick & Autograph Collector

Source: Southern Mississippi Athletics
Last week, I read a great piece by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports about Tim Lynch, the Yankees 9th round pick out of Southern Mississippi in the 2016 MLB Draft. To be fair, I first came across this in the NY Post, and eventually was led to Rosenthal’s larger piece. In short, Tim is a huge autograph collector, spending a lot of time growing up chasing down pro players for their signatures.  Now, a few years later, Tim, a first baseman, is part of the select few who get to play pro baseball for a living. Read the Fox Sports piece HERE after you finish reading this blog entry, of course.

In a cool twist of fate, Tim actually met his eventual agent, Joshua Kusnick, by collecting autographs years ago. Josh is a big collector in his own right. You can follow them both on Twitter here: @TimLynch26 and @JoshuaKusnick.

After reading the story and seeing Tim and Josh interact with fans and collectors on Twitter, I thought it would be cool to do a Q&A on here. It’s not frequent that one of our own makes it to pro ball, so I wanted to get Tim’s story in front of a core group of collectors in our little blogging community, as I know we'll all appreciate it more than most.

Tim and Josh were great to work with, and they’ve both certainly made a fan in me. Keep in mind I’m not a professional journalist and won’t pretend to be, but hopefully you enjoy Tim’s answers to my JV questions. I realized after the fact that a lot of these questions would be better served for after the season, once Tim has a few months of Minor League ball under his belt. So, Tim and Josh, perhaps we can do a follow-up after the season. Regardless, enjoy!

The Lost Collector: Tim, first off, congrats on being drafted by the Yankees! How are you feeling right now?
Tim Lynch: It feels great! It’s everyone’s dream to play professional baseball, growing up around the game made me want to play that much more, so this is the first step. Also, pretty cool being a part of one of the best franchises in sports.

TLC: Now that you're a pro, do you expect your autograph collecting to increase due to access and exposure to players? Is there an etiquette for asking a fellow player for his signature?
Tim: I don’t really know yet, not sure about guys my own age, but as far as guys I really look up to,  I might not be able to hold back. I’m sure I’d casually bring up a story about how I saw someone at a game signing, at a hotel, or something like that. But I guess I’ll have a better answer for you once I start coming into contact with more and more guys.

TLC: You've got a lot in-person autograph experience from your time growing up. Do you have any tips for those who graph in-person to increase their chances?
Tim: Always have the sharpie uncapped and ready to go and try to be respectful to the players, have seen fans get into arguments with players, and to be honest, a player is going to sign or not sign, I think all you can do is be as polite as possible and make them want to sign for you. Or you can always bribe the player with “hey do you want one of these cards?” usually will do the trick for a tough player.

TLC Note: Great advice. Seems like a page from Zippy Zappy's playbook.

TLC: One area I need improvement on is storing and organizing my collection. With such a huge collection of your own, how do you store them?
Tim: HA, I don’t think there has been a revolutionary invention to this problem. Just like all collectors, most of my items are stored in binders and boxes in my closet, aside from my favorite ones that are around my bedroom.

TLC: Through the mail (TTM) autograph collecting is my main focus for obtaining autographs. Did you dabble in that at all, or were most of your signatures obtained in-person at the ballpark?
Tim: My mom used to get mad at me for stealing all of the stamps around the house and she had trouble finding them when she had to pay bills or use them herself. I loved sending in the mail, especially when I knew a player would send back. Added autographs to my collection that I never could have obtained without the mail.

TLC note: That used to happen to me too! Once my mom caught me going through her purse, but was relieved to find I was actually just looking for stamps and not trying to steal cash.

TLC: This might be a better question for the end of the season, but how does a pro mail room work? How is your mail delivered to you? How do you send it back to fans? Give us all a look behind the curtain if you can.
Tim: To be honest, I have just been here in Pulaski for a day and I don’t even think rosters have been released, so not much fan mail has been here, but I can get back to you on that. If it is the same as equipment that comes in the mail, then it will just be put in front of your locker, but I am not too sure about that just yet. 

TLC: What is one autograph you wish you had but currently don't own?
Tim: A-ROD, he signs a lot of autographs, but the crowds are just tough to battle, sometimes 2-300 people all trying to get 1 of 30 autographs. Would love to get an A-ROD, maybe I’ll get one in Spring Training if it doesn’t interfere with work.

TLC note: I'm an idiot and this was basically in the Rosenthal article. #Fail.
TLC: Lastly, any cool items you'd like to show off? Anything you've gotten since you got to Pulaski? 
Tim: Haven’t gotten anything yet, but I’m sure by the time Spring Training rolls around I’ll have a lot more stories. I wish I could send in some pictures but my collection is at home. I’ll have to ask my mom to take a few pictures and get back to you.

Tim will be starting his career with the Pulaski Yankees in the Appalachian League. If you’d like to send him fan mail, please use the address below:

Tim Lynch
c/o Pulaski Yankees
700 South Washington Ave.
Pulaski VA, 24301

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Tim and Josh for their willingness to give a few minutes of their time to a fellow collector!

Monday, June 20, 2016

TTM Failure: Chris Young

I don't like posting a TTM failure, but it's a reminder that it's all part of the game when sending cards away to be autographed. Sometimes, you never get anything back at all and your card is lost forever (which is why you shouldn't ever send anything you'd be too bummed to lose). Other times, you get something like this:
I'm not going to badmouth Young, despite this happening from a Red Sox player. It's his call whether or not he signs mail. I know he used to. The weirdest part was that Boston didn't use my SASE, they sent it back in a very ugly Red Sox envelope. Where the hell is my SASE? My wife goes, "Ew, you got mail from the Red Sox." Ew is right.

The photo has a pre-printed autograph on it. I don't really want it, so it'll go to one of my Red Sox collector friends.

I would have liked Young's autograph on this card, but that's how it goes sometimes. Let's hope there is a success in today's mailbox to get me back on track.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Playing some Jenga in the Burbs

I'm sure the horrid post title as been used. If not, no one use it ever again.

Jenga is a great game. I haven’t played in a long time, but I always enjoyed it. I’ve been to a couple bars in NYC that have board games, and it’s always fun to hear a Jenga tower falling over every five minutes.

Tony Burbs of Wrigley Roster Jenga sent me some great Yanks last week. It was our first deal, and I’m glad to have had the honor of being the first Yankees collector he has traded with. He mentioned that in the note, and also said he hopes I find these cards to be productive. He also used some sweet orange tape on his mailers.
The very first card behind his note was a James Kaprielian, so yeah, off to a great start, Tony Burbs. 
Now before I get too far and show some other cards, I needed to get to this card while I hopefully (maybe?) have your attention. Feast your eyes on this:
Holy smokes. This Pinnacle Clear Vision of Ichiro is truly awesome and one of the coolest cards I've gotten in a long time. From its refractory shine to the clearcut portion of the card, this is so pretty it makes me forget there are no team logos on there. It’s just a very special feeling card. At first, I scanned it against a dark background, but then decided to put some white against it, and the results were even more stunning, with a hidden sky type of effect. Ichiro is awesome (and a ninja), so I gotta say this is my favorite card of the package. I know that Tony agreed as well.

There was some other prospects too - past and present, which is always appreciated since I shelp these off for TTMs and often forget to replace them.
By the way, Nick Johnson was a beast in the minors. I can't even imagine the type of hype he would create now. In A+ ball he hit .317/.456/.538 and followed it up in AA with a line of .345/.525/.548 and 123 walks! 

This is my first look at 2016 Pro Debut, which is always a favorite set of mine. I like Degano, although I’m surprised he hasn’t pitched yet this season. I also like the light blue color.
So this card is exceptionally cool and I had ZERO clue it existed. I’m a little mad at myself because I actually made a Billy Crystal custom to send to him TTM (request is pending), but I would have much rather sent this card. Maybe I still will. I love this Tristar set. The cards look beautiful signed.
A new Yankees Jose Canseco! I didn’t have this one. I am definitely starting a mini Canseco Yankees PC.
Holograms need to come back. Where the hell did they go? Denny’s needs to have cards again too.
These are originals. Tony, you shouldn’t have!
There was plenty of shiny to go around as well.
I like this Jorge Posada card commemorating the first HR at new Yankee Stadium. I was at the game and remember the homer. They lost 10-2, so kind of a damper, but still cool to know I was there.
I’ll end this with a card of the Mick. I wasn’t collecting back in the late 2000s when Topps was putting out those massive Mantle sets, so I frequently receive them in trade packages. However, I haven’t seen this one. It’s a refreshing image of his. I don’t recognize it, so nice change-up there.
Tony Burbs, thanks my friend!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Draft night fun

The last few years, I've had fun snatching up a card of the Yankees top draft pick as soon as the pick is announced. This year was no different.

I was half-watching the MLB Draft, not paying a ton of attention, but started to hone in on the TV when the Yanks were almost up. The MLB Draft is the worst of the pro sports drafts to watch (although I can't say I've seen an NHL Draft). In the NBA, you know a lot of the top picks from their runs in the NCAA Tournament, plus there are a hundred trades. It's exciting and can be a major whirlwind trying to keep up, but in a fun way. The NFL Draft is a spectacle, and the first few picks are fun, then it gets boring. However, again there is star power in the form of Heisman Trophy winners and other well-known college stars throughout the seven rounds.

In baseball, no one has seen these guys, unless they are making a College World Series run at the same time, or unless they are a guy like Bryce Harper. Most of the time, it's a high schooler that no one has seen, yet everyone wants because what they read on the internet is true and this guy is going to be the next Mike Trout.

As I anticipated the Yankees pick, I couldn't help but notice that Blake Rutherford was the "best available player" scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Most experts had him going in the top 10, yet here he was, on the board at #18. The Yankees putting a stop to that, gobbling up one of their most exciting Draft picks in ages. The pick was pretty much universally praised, as some analysts actually preferred Rutherford to some of the other top picks. The major knocks on him were "Prospect fatigue" and that he was old. He's 19. So old.

The big question is: can the Yankees sign him away from his UCLA commitment? Most seem to think it's going to happen.

Anyhow, right when his name flashed on screen, I raced to eBay, found a relic and a Crusade, and quickly purchased them. I checked back an hour or two later, and these same cards were going for a lot more. Many auctions had been revised to say "Yankees" in the title.
Here's to hoping Blake signs! Otherwise, I have cards of some college player for UCLA. No thanks.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Does "Old Timer's Day" game = "game worn"?

A few weeks back, I picked up this card:

It's a Moose Skowron jersey card from 2015 Panini National Treasures.

The back of the card simply states that it is guaranteed authentic by Panini. I'm not sure what that means exactly.

However, Skowron played for the Yankees from 1952-1962, and I think we can all agree that this jersey piece is too modern looking to be from his playing days. He did participate in Old Timer's Day many times, the last of which was in June, 2011. He passed away in April, 2012.

I actually think a set of "game-used" jersey set from Old Timer's Day would be a cool set, but as long as you call it that and are transparent where the relics are from. With today being Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium, I would be all over a set celebrating the day. I know it's not that fun for non-Yankee fans, so perhaps it would be some sort of boxed set sold separately. Or maybe Topps NOW will make a card to celebrate today's festivities. I might consider buying that. Let's hope Bubba Crosby goes deep and Topps immortalizes the moment.

The Moose is still a cool card, it's just kind of an odd fit, knowing that it is a relic from long, long after his playing days.