Monday, February 13, 2017

This Gal Has Balls


I spent some time Sunday afternoon working on organization, sorting through the last of the first and smallest stack of boxes.  The box tackled contained a few items which no longer fit my collection.   There were some miscellaneous sets to be completed, a sealed 91 Topps Traded set and several slabbed cards.  Graded cards never really caught on for me. I'm a touchy-feely person. I want to hold the cards, enjoy the texture of the many papers used to create them.  New cards smell good!  Plastic robs me of these small pleasures.

My prospecting days are well behind me.  A good thing because I didn't choose too wisely.


Ruben Mateo tore up the minor leagues.  Between 1999 and 2004, he was with four different MLB teams - Rangers,  Reds, Pirates and Royals.  In 2005, Ruben spent a year in South Korea with the LG Twins.  Coming back to the States in 2007, he joined the Brewer's AA team the Huntsville Stars and the Atlantic League's Newark Bears.  2009 sent him to Mexico with the Broncos de Reynosa.  He was once the top prospect in the Rangers system.

Junior Spivey is from Oklahoma City, my hometown.  He was on the World Series winning D'back team in 2001.  The D'backs, Brewers and Nationals all gave him playing time between 2001-2005. The Cardinals signed him for 2006 but he spent the whole season with the Redbirds, Triple A.  Junior gave the Atlantic League a whirl too, playing with the Bluefish in 2007 and the Riversharks in 2009, moving onto the Golden Baseball League in California for the last part of 2009.  Junior retired with a .270 BA, 48 HR and 201 RBI.

Then there's this guy:


Carlos made a career bouncing between the minors and MLB.  In 2001, I caught a AAA Redhawks game in OKC.  Carlos was playing first base.  I had seats in the front row near the bag.  He missed a play because he was too busy flirting with girls on my row.  By then, I already owned these cards. Apparently I can pick sports anchors.  Pena is now with the MLB Network.  So too, is Sean Casey.


Sean had a good MLB career: .302 AVG; 130 HR; 735 RBI.  He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2012. The best slabbed card of the bunch!  Then there's Raffy, a member of the 3000 hit/500 home run club and once a shoo-in for the HOF - now a  victim of the steroid era.  When I began collecting, Rafael was a fave PC. This is the last Raffy in my collection.  These are all the slabbed cards in my collection, minus one old tobacco card which I'll share another time.

I found this odd little item from 1999.  It had to have been the last one on the shelf.  I wouldn't have chosen McGwire over Jeter, Maddux or Ripken.




And now we've come to the balls portion of the post. I got 'em - five to be exact.  Five balls that must go.  I obtained these autographs at minor league games.  The PCL ball was a foul I caught at a game in OKC in 2000.  The Redhawks were playing the Iowa Cubs.  Julio Zuleta was a Cubs first base prospect whose MLB career never really happened.  He played 13 seasons in the minors, majors, Japan and Mexico.



I attended the 2002 Triple A All-Star weekend and game in OKC and picked up autos of Jack Cust and Todd Sears.  Drafted out of high school in 1997 by the D'backs, Cust was the All-Star game MVP.  Cust was signed by no less than six MLB teams but spent most of that time in the minors.  While with the A's in 2008, he broke the AL record for most strikeouts in a season with 187! He last signed with the Rays in 2013 but was released in Spring Training.  Cust was named in the Mitchell Report in 2007.

Sears spent 11 years in baseball, mostly the minors.  He was drafted by the Rockies in 1997, played briefly [40 games] with the Twins and Padres then back to the minors until he retired.

Ryan Minor is most famous for taking Ripken's place on the field to end the consecutive games played streak. Between 1998-2001, he played for the O's and Expos.  He played in the minors through 2004.  I obtained his signature at a Rangers game. Lesson: never have someone named Minor sign your major league baseball.

A Rangers prospect, Ramon Nivar was once the Minor League Player of the year, another AAA wonder who couldn't make the majors.  He spent nearly all of his 11 year career in the minors.  After 2010, he seems to have disappeared.  He signed two balls for me in OKC.


Now I turn to you for advice.  What should I do with these items?  None are worth selling on Ebay.  Perhaps you have some ideas?  I was tempted to keep Zuleta simply because it was a caught foul ball but I actually have a few of these.  I did well in the minors too.


18 comments:

  1. Not that it makes you feel any better, but I whiffed on Pena too. After also fanning on the Mets group of Paul Wilson, Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, Jay Payton and Rey Ordonez...I too stopped prospecting in the early 2000s.

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    1. Pena showed promise for a while there. Looks like you had string of bad luck!!

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  2. I never know what to do with autographed balls, that's why I have only one (a ball from my dad signed by Bob Feller).

    Always tempted to start a Sean Casey collection because we covered him in the minors and I've interviewed him, and as everyone knows, he's a good guy.

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    1. I know you're a big fan of slabbed cards. I may need to send Casey on a trip to NY! ;)

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  3. I was really big on Ruben Mateo, as well. Guys like him are why I no longer prospect. The Action Flats card set is one I'm going to finish one of these days. Picked up Mac, Jeter and a couple others for cheap a while back.

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    1. I so would have sent Mac your way. Darn the luck!

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  4. Boy, prospects will your break heart.
    I about a half-dozen baseballs signed by minor leaguers who didn't make it. If you figure out what to do with yours, please let me know!

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    1. How about I double your collection? Ha!

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  5. I think you can find homes for the failed prospect cards amongst bloggers. The baseballs are going to be tough. You may have to look up arts and crafts projects using baseballs.....

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    1. Maybe make a coat rack out of them -- you know, screw the ball into a 2x4 that has been stained and varnished already?

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    2. Guys, you're breaking my heart! No one is offering to the balls off my hands! Slabs for grabs though - definitely!

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  6. I could never figure out what to do with larger pieces of memorabilia -- like baseballs, graded cards, signed photos, etc. They take up too much room for my taste. (Also, I love the Carlos Pena story.)

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    1. I downsized when I moved. losing 1000 sq ft. I have a lot of stuff to move - and nothing worth selling. Pena had a lot of potential. Now's he's charming millions on MLB Net.

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  7. If it were me, I'd throw those balls on my desk at work and use them as a conversation piece. Or maybe toss them around with friends or students.

    Super jealous of those boxes. It's gonna be so much fun digging through them in search of hidden treasures. Have fun!

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    1. Fuji, the baseballs could easily make their way to your door. I have uninterested friends and no students. It's been exciting to see the contents of these boxes. I stumbled upon all the great cards I'd set a side for trading.

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    2. Thanks for the generous offer, but you're better off buying a blaster or two with the money you'd drop on shipping charges. By the way... I like the intentional fading idea ;)

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  8. I was never a prospector. I wonder if there's a trick to removing the signature from the ball and then you can get them signed by other people?

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    1. I could display them in a window until the signatures fade...there's a thought!

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