New Autographs Added To The Yankees Collection

A few weeks ago, the Yankees held their annual Fan Fest at the Intrepid Air And Space Museum in Manhattan. It’s a day where former and sometimes current Yankees meet and greet with fans, sign an autograph and talk about the Yankees. To me, it’s more of a Fest where business set up booths and give out free samples of whatever they are hawking. This time around, I got a major sugar rush by drinking free samples for Colombian soda pop and ate a whole bunch of cherry licorice while waiting on line for autographs.

This year, Rich Gossage, Willie Randolph and Doc Gooden were the players that appeared. Cecil Fielder and Reggie Jackson cancelled out, which was a bummer as I really was looking forward to meeting Reggie for the first time, but getting to cross the former Yankee second baseman and Captain off my Yankee bucket list worked just fine for me also.

Willie wasn’t scheduled to start signing until 1 pm and I was already on his line at 11 am, so I killed time by chatting up my fellow Yankee fans, eating a lot of candy, looking out over the Hudson River and talking to my girlfriend on the phone. Soon, Willie Randolph arrived and started to get to work signing autographs for the fans who waited patiently for him.

I had heard stories about Randolph. Fans had told me that he wasn’t the nicest guy to meet so I was watching him to get an idea of what his mood was. There was a few fans ahead of me so I watched as they met up with him. He seemed to be in a pretty good mood. It really didn’t matter as I was going to wow him with my charm and get a smile out of him as he signed my baseball.

I didn’t have to worry. Willie was so nice to me. He greeted me with a hearty hello as I walked up to his table. I told him I had been following his career since he was traded to the Yankees from Pittsburgh and he thanked me for supporting him from the beginning. I asked him about his thoughts on Derek Jeter and he said it was an honor to have known him and coached him during his time with the Yankees. He signed my ball, shook my hand and I was off.

Willie makes ball number 46 in my Yankees signed baseball collection. I’m 4 away from my goal of 50 signed baseballs from former Yankees by the end of the year. I’m very pleased with how this came out.

As I was walking away from Randolph’s tent, I snapped a quick shot of Goose’s tent. I didn’t get a Gossage autograph on this day as I had nothing for him. He signed baseball number 44 over the summer and my Yankee poster over the summer, so I’m good for now on Gossage.

After, I was able to get in to meet Doc Gooden. I had the pleasure of meeting him on several different occasions and each time he was so very nice. This time was no different. He looked at the picture of him after he pitched is no hitter and I asked him what was he thinking at that moment. He told me he was glad the pop up was hit to Jeter because Boggs had a problem with pop ups. As he signed it, I asked him if he would have rather had done it as a Met and he said as long as it was done in New York, he was happy.

The picture that I printed out isn’t the clearest. I like that he added the no no date on the photo. I may print out a clearer picture and try to get him to resign at a later date though.

Afterward, I walked around and checked out the festivities. There was a few things you could do. You could take batting practice, throw pitches, listen to a live remote from WFAN, New York’s Sports Radio Talk Station, watch someone from Ringling Brothers play with a rope, get some free stuff from local businesses and grab some grub (which wasn’t free. Oh well,)

Overall, I had a fun time at this year’s Yankees Fan Fest. My main concern really is getting autographs. I got the ones I wanted so I consider my day to be a success. Anything else is just icing on the cake. The icing this year was being able to walk away with a box of those cherry licorice, which I ate in a few weeks. Now, I have a sugar rush and I can’t wait until next years Fan Fest for more autographs and free candy.

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My Derek Jeter Bobblehead Collection

It’s been a pretty emotional season in the sports room. I got to watch Derek Jeter’s final games as a Yankee and watching his final game in Yankee Stadium was exciting and sad at the same time. It was a game that had it’s highs and lows and everything in between. At the end of the evening, it was the Captain who took matters into his own hands and drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th to win the game for the Yankees. Watching the team mob Jeter after and then watching him embrace members of the Core Four, Tino Martinez, Joe Torre and Gerald Williams then walk to shortstop one last time had this geek pretty choked up.

So today, I wanted to celebrate the career of one the greatest Yankees to ever don the pinstripes by doing something that just screams out Sexy Geek.

I’m going to show off some bobbleheads. And not just any bobbleheads.

I’m going to show off my Derek Jeter bobblehead collection.

Now, I know my collection is not as large as most Derek Jeter fans. I have been concentrating on adding other Yankees to the bobblehead collection. I will say this though, Jeter is the player I have the most bobbles of in my collection. A big fat 3 bobbles.

This was my first Jeter bobble I picked up, which was one one of my very first bobbleheads I bought. This is a Forver bobblehead and in an odd way looks more like Derek than any of the other bobbles I own.

I picked it up at one of the Westchester Sports Card Shows along with Whitey Ford and Phil Rizzuto Forever bobblehead figures, none of which look anything like either one of them. This one is a fairly decent likeness.

The back has Jeter wearing his # 2 in his glorious Yankee pinstriped on a base that has a baseball and what I guess is a ribbon, It’s not one of my favorite Jeter bobblehead figures, but I am glad to own it. Being that it is one of my first ones it has special meaning to me.

This one was my first Jeter bobblehead that I bought off eBay. It’s a 2001 Staten Island Yankees SGA. As much of a fan of the SI Yankees that I am now, I didn’t get to a game until 2007, so I missed out on this giveaway. When I found out that the SI Yankees gave out a Jeter, I had to have one and hunted one down that was in my price range.

I have always preferred Alexander Global bobbleheads to Forever. Not because I think that their better bobbles. I just love the squatty bodies and almost there likeness that these bobbleheads possess. Unfortunately, their latest attempts at realistic bobbleheads are falling short of the mark. If you don’t believe me, take a look at my review of the Mark Teixeira Yankees bobblehead giveaway from this season, Yeesh.

Probably my favorite Jeter bobblehead in my collection. This is a Bobble Dobble Jeter, which is also put out by Alexander Global. I really like the action pose that Derek is captured in. Maybe the face doesn’t look too much like Jeter, but I don’t really don’t mind.

The back is one of the more streamlined figures you will find from Alexander Global. I also have a Jason Giambi Bobble Dobble. There are a couple other I want including the Hideki Matsui fielding, Reggie Jackson and Lou Gehrig Bobble Dobbles.

Although my Jeter collection may not be as large as other collections I am proud to own the ones I do have. I do plan to add some more Jeter bobbleheads soon like the Yankees Universe bobble, the Yankees SGA and a couple of the Jeter Last Season bobbles. I just also saw that there was a September Bobblehead Of The Month, which is a Jeter as well. So, I won’t be without choices of quite a few different bobbleheads. With this many choices, I know the Jeter part of my bobblehead will grow and grow fast.

I may never own a game worn Derek Jeter jersey, a game used bat or even a baseball signed by The Captain, but I would like to think that I do celebrate the career of one of the all time great Yankees in my own, unconventional way. Jeter has always been one of my favorites and I am very proud to have seen him play his entire career in New York. I know people who have seen Dimaggio, Ford and Mantle play. One day, I can tell a young whippersnapper I got to see Derek Jeter play and he was as awesome as you’ve heard.

My First Derek Jeter Pick Up

When I first got back into collecting cards back in 2003, one of the players I wanted to collect was Derek Jeter. At that point, Jeter was already an all time great. He had won 4 World Championships, was a World Series and an All Star Game MVP. He was at the top of his popularity, Which was why collecting Jeter was, and still is quite difficult.

Want an autographed baseball? Prepare to shell out over $300.00. His autographed cardboard routinely goes for anywhere from $100.00 to $300.00. Even his game used cards are priced at a premium these days. 

Back in 2003, I went to the Hofstra Sports Card show on Long Island. I was looking for anything Yankees, like I still do. I just went in without a game plan and dove into boxes and looked until I found something I wanted and bought it.

On this day, I found this card at a table that had a bunch of other patch cards. I was pretty uneducated about cards, especially patch cards and paid what the lady asked without negotiating. These days, I would have tried to haggle her down from the 30.00 I paid. 

Still, regardless of what I paid, it’s my very first Jeter pick up as well as my first patch card and it remains in my collection. It’s one of my favorite cards in my Jeter collection and I don’t see myself parting with it anytime soon. I have since added cards to my Jeter collection, but this one is my favorite.

Great, I Will Now Have The Fox Sports Theme In My Head Whenever I Watch The Yankees

Ahhhhh, nothing gets me excited about Baseball and my New York Yankees like……Cleatus, The Fox Football Robot??

Bear with me folks. I have not been sipping on the funky wine. Yes, Cleatus is synonymous with football on Fox, but the good folks at Fox allowed a company named ActionHeads to produce figures of Cleatus in different NFL team colors. I do like the Jets figure and have been meaning to pick it up.

So, when I was in California visiting my girlfriend, Gina, we went into Fanzz, a sports shop in Westminster Mall. We were going to the Dodgers game later that night and I wanted to get a Dodger player t shirt to wear to the game. I was able to get a very nice Matt Kemp Brooklyn Dodgers t shirt and Gina bought me a Jackie Robinson Dodgers player t shirt. While we were walking to the register, I saw a boxed figure that warranted a closer inspection.

When I picked it up, I noticed it was a Cleatus figure, but it wasn’t painted in any football team colors. It was a Cleatus painted in Yankees colors. I had never seen one before. Figures, I would find this 3,000 miles away from home. It was pretty cool, but after much debate, I decided to put the figure back and save the money for the trip.

So, when I get back to New York, Gina tells me I have a package coming my way. I was wondering what she could have possibly sent my way. Maybe a memento from our trip to Dodger Stadium? A Spider-Man Lucha Libre mask I saw on Olvera Street? When I got the package, it was none of the above. It was the Cleatus Yankees figure I wanted. Does this woman know me or what?

Now, after a year of it sitting on my shelf by my autographed baseballs and being oh so lazy, I finally break him out and review him.

The robot comes in a pretty generic box. Would have been nice if it was at least in team colors.

Side of the box has a picture of Cleatus. At least he’s in team colors here.

The back of the box has the supposed specs of Cleatus. Looks like he would be on the Mitchell Report in no time.

I’ll tell you what, Cleatus looks pretty bad ass out of the box. I love the colors on him. Perfect combination of Yankee blue and white.

Close up of Cletus. Had that interlocking NY on his chest, which I think is awesome. With the red sunglasses, he kinda looks like Optimus Prime.

Cleatus is wearing a special Fox Sports patch on his right shoulder. Wonder if this will sell for the hundreds of dollars that the Lou Gehrig patch did on eBay.

One of the unfortunate things about the figure is that the fingers don’t open or close. Would help holding the bat on both hands if you wanted to pose him that way.

Cleatus has ball joints on the shoulders and a bend at the elbows. There is no bend on the wrists, although they do spin around.

There is a bend at the knees, ankles and at the toes. Unfortunately, since the figure is pretty top heavy, Cleatus is prone to falling over like I am after a few too many adult beverages. Like the wall does for me, I had to hold Cleatus up to show the bends.

Cleatus has a hip swivel and ball joints on top of the legs.

The head can go side to side, but barely goes back and forth. Not going to get a whole lot of movement in the neck area.

The figure has some decent articulation. Once you get the joints loose you will be able to pose Cleatus just about anyway you want to. You will have some limitations, but a collection with a better imagination that I do will be able to get some decent poses out of this figure. Just remember that he is top heavy and is prone to falling over. I will just keep him in the box until I can get a display case and I will put him with my other Yankees statues, bobbleheads and figurines. I really like having this figure and think Cleatus will make a great addition to any baseball collection.

Thank you to my sweet baby for the great addition.

The Perfect Statue

I don’t have a lot of Don Larsen in my Yankees collection. Aside from a few cards (nothing vintage) and an autographed ball, there isn’t much in the way of Larsen collectibles out there. I don’t think he every had anything specifically made for him, like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra or Roger Maris had. There isn’t a Yankee Larsen bobblehead, which I find amazing.

So, about a year ago, my buddy and I were at the MLB All Star Fan Fest and came across a table that the Yogi Berra Museum had. I looked at their table, hoping for some really cool Yogi Berra merch for my Yankee collection, but really didn’t see anything that jumped out at me until I saw they were selling Don Larsen statues. I was interested, but wanted to save my money in case I found the Wow factor (Darrel Sheets representing). My buddy, knowing I collect the Yankees, bought the statue for me.

And it took me a year to post a review. Shame on me.

I had never seen this statue before. I think this was a Brockton Rox SGA. it actually looks like the bronze statues the Yankees gave away a few years back. I don’t think the Yankees gave away a Don Larsen statue in that set, so this one is a pretty cool piece to have.

On one side of the box, we get the box score from the Perfect Game from Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

A little write up about said Perfect Game.

And a write up about the Brockton Rox. The Rox are a summer collegiate team who used to be members of the Cam-Am independent league.

And here’s the statue. I am pretty impressed with it. I wasn’t expecting much when I opened the box up, but it looks like I could display this with the Yankee statues and it would look like it belongs in the set. The statue also looks like the statue that is currently in the Yankees Museum.

A front view of the statue with the date of the Perfect Game on the front of the base.

 

A shot of the back of the statue. I just love the detail on this statue. Despite the bronze color, you can clearly see the pinstripes and the number 18 on his back clear as day.

Bottom of the back of the statue with the 1956 World Series, Game 5 inscription in gold paint.

Close up of the statue.

The bottom of the statue with the scoreboard of the game painted on in gold.

I think this a well done statue. I love the detail of it as well as the inscriptions on the base. I wonder why the Yankees didn’t give these away. The fans would have loved this instead of the seeds and $2.00 Dunkin Donut cards. But I’m glad I have one and I thank my buddy for picking this up for me. It’s a perfect (no pun intended…ok, maybe a little) addition to my Yankees collection and I cannot wait to be able to display it among the other statues, McFarlanes and bobbleheads in my collection.

Now I think I have to start picking up those Yankee statues to go with this Larsen.

A Partial Look At My Tino Martinez Collection

 

Today, The Yankees honored a player who was instrumental in winning 4 world championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 with a plaque out in the famed Monument Park. That player is Tino Martinez, who also just happens to be my favorite Yankee.

 

My earliest memories of Tino Martinez was watching him kill the Yankees as a member of the Mariners during the 1995 American League Division Series, batting .409 with a homer and 5 RBI’s. When I heard Don Mattingly was taking a year off to decide his future, I wondered if the Yankees could get their hands on the guy from Seattle. Sure enough, the Yankees traded Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis for Jim Mecir, Jeff Nelson and Contantino Martinez. Highway robbery if it ever was. Jeff Nelson was a huge part of the championship teams as well as Tino was.

 

Over the years, I got to watch Tino launch home runs over the right field wall at the old Yankee Stadium and make some beautiful plays over at first base. I always felt Tino was robbed of a Gold Glove or two, but because the AL also had JT Snow, Rafael Palmero and John Olerud, Tino never won a Gold Glove and I think that’s a shame. He was a tremendous fielding first baseman.

 

Tino’s best season was in 1997, when he hit 44 home runs and had 141 RBI’s. He finished second in the voting for Most Valuable Player, losing out to Ken Griffey Jr. He also participated and won the Home Run Derby during that season’s All Star Game festivities, which was a joy for me.

 

My two most memorable Tino moments were in 1996 and 1998 respectively. First, during the early part of the 1996 season, Tino had started off slow and was being booed by Yankee fans. The Yankees were in Baltimore and one of the games wen late into extra innings. Tino belted a game winning home run and was cheered loudly when the team came back to NY. The second, was obviously during Game 1 of the 1998 World Series when he hit a grand slam into the upper deck off Mark Langston giving the Yankees a 4 run lead. I will always remember seeing a shower of beer pop up in the air after the ball landed into the upper deck.

 

Like I mentioned previously, I started collecting Tino Martinez cards back in 2002. Because I have other player collections, my Tino collection may not be as large as others, but I am proud of it. Here are my favorite Tino cards, starting with the base and inserts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are my favorite Game Used cards. Mind you, these were taken before I got a scanner and I never got around to scanning them. The scanner is now broken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also have this printing plate

 

 

And probably my favorite Tino piece

 

 

This was a gift from a friend who used to sell cards. He accidentally sent an order late for a secret santa I was participating in. Knowing that Tino is my favorite, he sent this to me as a gift to make up for the lateness of the order. I never met Tino and I hope to at some point.

 

There are other cards I need to pick up. I also have eyes on some other Tino items like bobbleheads, his Starting Lineup figures, a Danbury Mint statue and some programs with him on the cover. My ultimate would be a Tino game used bat and jersey. Maybe when I win lotto.

 

Congratulations, Tino.  You had a great career and you were a wonderful Yankee. I think the plaque in Monument Park is rightfully deserved. You sit with the greats now.

I Love To Get My Balls Signed…Baseballs, That Is.

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One of my hobby goals for 2014 is to get more autographed baseballs in my Yankees collection. In fact, I have made an ambitious goal for myself and that is to get as close to 100 signed baseballs from Yankee players, former and present, for the collection. I say it’s pretty ambitious because I’m not what you would call an autograph hound. I don’t go chasing players or wait at their hotels or hang out the ballparks before players arrive. Of course that’s because I don’t know where the player hotels are and it’s difficult to graph at Yankee Stadium.

So, how do I add signed baseballs to my collection? Player appearances is one way. That’s how I was able to get players like Hideki Matsui, Darryl Strawberry, Bucky Dent and David Cone to sign baseballs for me. Another way is card shows. The card show I go to usually will have 1 free player and if that person is what I deem “ball worthy”, I will get them to sign or I will pay for the player if he’s not too expensive. Some of the players I have gotten this way is Ruben Sierra, Bobby Richardson and Gaylord Perry. Then there is the TTM route. To be honest, I have lost more baseballs than gotten back, but a couple of the players I have gotten back were Mike Mussina and Jimmy Key.

So, here is the signed baseball collection right now:

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I have them on a shelf right over my bobblehead collection. I kind of think I’m running out of room. I probably have just that row to finish and that would be it. Another row might be pushing it.

 

So, which players do I want to add to the collection? Well, I have more than a few players in mind.

 

The Core Four

 

Derek Jeter

Mariano Rivera

Andy Pettitte

Jorge Posada

 

The Champions

 

Paul O’Neill

Tino Martinez

Scott Brosius

Orlando Hernandez

Ron Guidry

Sparky Lyle

Cecil Fielder

A.J. Burnett

Mike Stanton

Brett Gardner

Willie Randolph

Tim Raines

Bernie Williams

 

The Hall Of Fame Players

 

Dave Winfield

Rickey Henderson

Joe Torre

Reggie Jackson

Rich Gossage

Phil Niekro

Phil Rizzuto (I know he’s passed on, but his autograph are still out there)

 

The Managers

 

Lou Pinellia

Buck Showalter

Ralph Houk (See Phil Rizzuto)

 

There are other players I want as well like Aaron Boone, Dave Righetti and Bobby Murcer. Players who may not have had hall of fame careers or won a championship here, but still made a difference in Pinstripes.

 

So, as you can see, I have some players to chase around if I want to get to my goal of 100 signed baseballs by the end of 2014. Right now, I’m at 42 baseballs, so if I’m going to get to 100, I better get my butt in gear. I consider myself rather fortunate that I am lucky enough to have the autographs that I do own. Hopefully by the end of the year, I will be wondering where am I going to display all the autographs. Then I will know that I reached my goal and can set my next goal. 200, here I come.