Clemente Lists joins to talk about hockey: it’s All-Star Game weekend, that incredible 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee find, and he got a few TTMs of his own in. Plus guest co-host Lee Alexander and I talk about the week in collectibles news and share what came in our mailboxes.
My goal of mailing off ten requests per week has fallen off a little unless I crank out 13 today– which I might manage to do. Fortunately, my first batch is still rolling back steadily, and even one older one found its way back to me this week.
The former Patriots and Broncos tight end signed a couple cards and even wrote back a short note about growing up in Detroit and how his old high school is no longer around.
Bob just turned 96 a month ago. It would have been easy for him to give up on his career after four consecutive seasons in the minors following his Senators debut in the 50s. But he stuck it out and was rewarded with a World Series championship in 1960 (and three more MLB seasons after that). He signed my 1961 Topps card and added a signed note about winning it all in ’60. Did you know he wrote a book?
Carl’s sig is looking pretty shaky; but being 87 years old I’m certainly grateful that the former Cleveland pitcher is still with us and able to respond quickly.
This would be the running back, not the kicker, though he did kick these signed cards back to me in about two weeks.
It’s crazy to call a four-time Pro Bowler underrated, but Harvey deserved so much more recognition as one of the few bright spots on some bad Cardinals teams.
I mailed out to Tom in February of last year. I had expected these to be goners, but a year later they came back to me. Such is the life of a TTMer. The mailbox often holds unexpected surprises.
I wish I’d had an Indians card or two of him, but I made do with what I had, and Steve signed this trio of Brewers cards in about three weeks.
The Tao of Graphing Roadtrip Planning
Every so often it’s nice to get out on the road and visit a new ballpark and get autographs at it. I’ve been to 200 pro baseball games in my life– 10 leagues, 21 states, 38 ballparks. And I’ve gotten autographs in almost all of them.
In about two weeks I’ll be doing it again, heading over to Arizona’s Spring Training where fifteen teams will begin their push toward winning a World Series. One just did it in October. One other was the last one standing in their way. Four others have done it in the past decade.
Pitchers and catchers report by the 15th. I’ll report a week later, taking the red-eye out of Dallas on the 21st before flying home on the 28th. Fifteen teams, eight days, and the first of those days has no games. Time was on Mick Jagger’s side. It is not on mine.
There is a certain tao to planning autograph trips. In 2018 and 2022 my friend Arron Litteton and I made road trips to minor league parks all over the country around the National Sports Collectors Convention. You want to see as many different teams as you can while working within the confines of moving in the right direction, getting to certain places on time, and not overexerting yourself with hundreds of miles of driving in a single day. We did pretty well. Across eleven games in 2018 we only doubled up one team and that was because we were so close to Lake County that it was worth seeing them twice. In 2022’s seventeen games, we had to see Jersey Shore twice on the road and Durham and Harrisburg each once at home and once on the road.
In a way, the week in Arizona is easier: everything is within an hour’s drive and several facilities house two teams. But the schedule is much more limited, at least one facility is terrible for graphing, and there are split-squad games to contend with. So how do you strike that balance and figure out how to see every team?
For the long trips, it involves a lot of crazy spreadsheets of schedules, working the front side and the back side and filling in the middle. For this Arizona trip, I can’t explain it, but somehow, my schedule works:
21st and 22nd: open to whatever teams I can get to– probably whichever complexes have players I need for certain sets
2/23: Padres-Dodgers, and hopefully catch the White Sox too
2/24: Brewers-Padres, and hopefully catch the Mariners too
2/25: Giants-Rangers, and maybe catch the Royals too
2/26: Cubs-Royals, and hopefully catch the Rangers again too
2/27: A’s-Guardians, and try to catch the Reds too
2/28: Angels-Rockies, and potentially catch the Diamondbacks too
I’ve pulled out 3000 cards to take with me. I know I won’t come back with all of them signed. I might not even reach 10% of that total. But ‘graphers have to be prepared for anything. I don’t harbor any expectations of getting Shohei Ohtani or Mike Trout, but I have to be ready for them because there’s nothing worse than seeing them stop to sign right by me while I’m not carrying anything for them. I have a few generic signature cards in case someone signs that I have nothing for. Pens, extra photo corners, baby powder for prepping glossy cards to be si… I’m absolutely ecstatic that Southwest Airlines allows me to have two free checked bags. I’ll need one just for all the ibuprofen that my nearly 40-year-old knees will be demanding.
I’ll have a recap of the trip on TTMCast, and perhaps updates during it on YouTube as well.