Spring Training is here!
If anyone is interested, I have designed a generic signature card for the Cactus League. $2 for the digital file. Contact me at email@example.com and we can do PayPal.
Spring Training is here!
If anyone is interested, I have designed a generic signature card for the Cactus League. $2 for the digital file. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can do PayPal.
In the dark cold of Minnesota winter there’s always a fun event I look forward to each year. The Twins Caravan. It’s almost always a gaureenteed day for frigid temps, howling winds, deep snows, or a combination. It’d be easy for the Twins to do nothing. But they don’t. Instead of staying huddled on they get on the road in buses and travel Minnesota. It’s really quite remarkable. Arguably our two top players spent the afternoon ice fishing and then drove to Mankato for a wonderful evening of baseball talk and dreaming about warm weather.
I got to the Caravan at 5:30 right as the doors opened. I’m glad I did. The crowd looked bigger than in years past and that was confirmed when they announced that over 700 tickets were sold. Quite a turnout on a cold Monday night!
This also meant that the hot dog line got long fast, so I went and got mine early and settled in until the festivities started at 6:30. The hour went by quickly and soon enough after a highlight film the players were getting introduced. They ended up walking right by my table. Unfortunately the iPhone didn’t cooperate and my photos ended up blurry. This was the best one of Eddie Rosario sauntering in (he never just walks in according to Kris Atteberry).
Too many home runs
The question and answers started out tough from a woman who asked Berrios point blank how many home runs are you going to give up this year? Berrios handled the question well and ended up apologizing for giving up too many last year, and saying he knows it’s a bit of an issue. It was well handled with good humor.
Joy in cultural differences and bring down walls
Another question that stood out to everyone was one that brought up the fact that it was indeed MLK day and it shouldn’t be ignored. The question ended up being incredibly thoughtful – the person asked about cultural differences and what that was like in the clubhouse. They just wanted to know how that worked. There was nothing malicious in the question at all. I’m bungling how it was phrased. Eddie Rosario was the one who answered and said, essentially, that that was the best part. He got to experience different cultures – and enjoyed learning about Germany from Max Kepler – and that differences were something to be celebrated and enjoyed. A sentiment I completely agree with. It was a phenomenal question and answer from Eddie. A great reminder of an aspect about this game that I love. It bridges barriers and knocks down walls. Players from Germany, Puerto Rico, and many other locations share a close knit clubhouse and enjoy each other. This is something to aspire to and remember. Just enjoy learning from each other!
Eddie also talked about how he approached each game and his mindset. He approaches each day with joy and as a blessing, getting up and going. I’m missing some of the details of his answer but what I remember is his comments about joy and meeting each day with energy. I wish I’d written down exactly what he said. It was along the lines of take each day as a new opportunity. Something I can struggle with so it was great to hear this again. Eddie Rosario is quickly becoming my favorite Twin. I’m going to enjoy watching him this year for sure.
Time for the autographs and a nickname for Rocco?
I got lucky this year and ended up sitting at the table which was called first for autographs, so I didn’t end up waiting very long. Maybe fifteen minutes or so. I always like to get photographs signed, my own when I can, or at least custom edits as I learn Photoshop. I had a Jose Berrios edit I was particularly happy about, an Eddie Rosario photo from the Puerto Rico Series, and a custom edit of Rocco Baldelli.
I also like to get nickname inscriptions when I can and asked Rocco for his. He told me he didn’t really have one. So that’s something we as Twins fans need to remedy. Rocco the Rocketeer? Maybe? There’s got to be a better one out there!
Berrios was generous and gave me a great “La Makina” inscription when I asked and really took care not to smudge the auto as he added it. He did seem to like the photo as well, and was very gracious. I admire that a lot especially after a long day including ice fishing and answering questions from fans.
Eddie told me he really liked the Puerto Rico photo I brought. He mentioned it a few times and gave me a great signature with a smile on his face. Both Berrios and Rosario have great attitudes. There’s a lot of joy with them.
Let them play
A theme of the night to me among the answers was that Rocco Baldelli’s goal is to just let his players play. With joy. I think this is wonderful to hear and could be very important. Making a random connection here – when I watched this year’s National Championship, Clemson vs Alabama, it quickly became apparent that the Clemson players were having the time of their life. They were enjoying every moment and fed off of it, giving them even more energy and drive. That’s the power of joy. I struggle to reach it but when I do I feel it. It’s pretty amazing, really.
I am very optimistic now going into Spring Training for the Twins. I want to see them embrace joy in the game. If they do they’ll take off.
It’s baseball. It’s January. The time to dream. And remember joy to get through the cold.
In December I’ve decided to write to a few of our World War II veterans and just let them know we remember them and their sacrifices and what they did for our country and every one of us. Today I got back Mr. Clement Leone. You can find out more about what he did here. I asked what advice he had for us, and his replay is priceless in my honest opinion. Something to live up to.
As I can in December I’ll be writing more letters to our veterans just to let them know we remember. This is always important, but especially this time of year.
Thank you Mr. Clement Leone for taking the time to sign and give us some wonderful advice to follow.
This is why we collect and why we love this hobby. There are certain players out there who go the extra mile and clearly enjoy signing. Mr. Brian Propp is one of those. I sent him the two custom photos which came back with great inscriptions and the extra cards. Including the Daniel Malgin Rookie.
This is why I love this hobby – I can still find kindness and good people in the world out there even when things can seem dark and negative. We really need to focus on that in all days and all things.
To send a little bit of kindness back to the world I will giveaway the Jamie Benn oversized card, and add something to it. Retweet the pinned Tweet to enter by the end of November.
Thank you and happy collecting everything!
I got asked a question online that made me decide to write this post. Who would you start with for through the mail autographs?
Looking back, these are good, sure names to begin collecting autographs through the mail. If there’s a cost to their signature, I’ll list it. When you see a fee it just means including that amount as cash. These are all guys I’ve sent to with success. I have some addresses listed here but others can be found easily at SportsCardForum and/or SportsCollectors.net.
For addresses, there are two sites I use. SportsCardForum is a free site, though you do need to register. They have a handy “Top 25 TTM signers” feature for each sport. SportsCollectors.net is $15/year and worth it in my opinion. It has a nice feature where you can sort by Hall of Famers for each sport.
Hopefully this list can help you get started!
This is one of my all time favorite returns. Bob Kuechenberg. He was part of the Miami Dolphins 17-0 team, a lineman, and key member of the team, close to getting into the Hall of Fame (see Wikipedia). When I got the envelope it was heavily water damaged and I thought for it was a goner. But Mr. Kuechenberg had folded my letter around the index cards and signed cards, and they survived. A bit warped but that adds character, especially when the autographs themselves look great!
When I send I like to ask a question or two, and one of mine is usually “What advice do you have for when things get tough?” I have gotten some interesting responses before. This one is actually true – all of it. Sometimes it really is better to say as little as possible.
I can tell he meant this in the best way possible, with how he wrote it down on the card. I love it, especially the “yer new pal” inscription. This will be a good reminder for those times when doing less is more. Not showing that frustrated or angry reaction. That is extremely tough for me. I don’t have a good filter for it, with some of what I’ve got going on. So sometimes simple advice like shut your mouth sticks. It’s also just fun to get an answer and reply like this. This is why I send through the mail. For these genuine moments that show true heart and emotions that we all feel and go through. There are times indeed for using the brain, the heart, and as little mouth as possible.
Thank you Mr. Bob Kuechenberg for taking the time for an autograph.
This week featured some great returns. It started with an epic Monday. Four returns. The most I’ve had in one day. This one was particularly fun because it was the Home Run Derby and meant I had mail to open while watching the best slug some homers! I for one love the derby and everything about the All Star Game. Even the mid-action interviews. I especially love these as it lets us glimpse the players’ actual personality and I think baseball needs more of this. Is there a way this could be done to this extent during regular season games? Not sure. It was done during Spring Training, and I loved it there also. This is coming from an old-school baseball fan who wants nothing to do with clocks in baseball.
Back to the returns. Trevor Hildenberger singed two 4 x 6 photos nicely in about 2 weeks. Fast for an active player. For those who don’t know him he has taken hold of the setup/8th inning role that is so important to teams. They’ve been comparing him to some good names, I just can’t remember who as I write this. He’s a sidearm guy who’s fun to watch. Doesn’t have the high-90s heat but can pitch and get guys to swing and miss. He doesn’t seem to get much mail right now so if you want a guy with a good signature and a quick return, I recommend sending. I have the photos available (digital file) that I sent if you want to use them. Contact me and I’ll send the file. They should work for 8 x 10s as well. In the future I’ll be posting my sports photographs on my site, Mindflare Photography.
The one on the left are all photos I took at a game of Hildenberger – and edited in Photoshop. Walgreens didn’t believe I’d taken the photos (likely because of logo usage, and I know I can’t sell those) but I did. I have similar customs out to Logan Morrison, who seemed to be signing some recently. I sent at the same time as Hildenberger or close so will see if I get them back.
Next on the day was 4 / 4 from Ricky Bones. It took probably about 2-3 months or a bit more. I normally don’t send that many but I was experimenting a bit with that Fleer Ultra set and then the 1996 Upper Deck set. I like both but they are mixed results I think for TTM purposes. 1996 has some great photography. The surface seems odd for autographs though. Not super glossy but slick somehow. It might work, though, and I might try a few more from 96. The Fleer actually has the strongest auto until it disappears completely into the dark uniform. The 93 UD didn’t turn out as well as it usually does. 93 UD I’ve found is perfect for sharpies – never had a problem with bleeding or anything like that. They don’t seem to require prep either. But they clearly don’t work well with ball point. I was a little surprised to see ball point for Ricky Bones, he usually seems to sign in sharpie based on his history. I am still grateful for these – he was a good pitcher back in the day. And I love that they are photos of him signing autographs. It’s always fun to get those signed. I wonder where those kids are now in that 93 photo, and if they still have the card signed by Bones(?). Or if they know they are on the 93 photo at all. Has anyone appeared on a baseball card in the stands like that?
There were still two more returns for Monday! In the meantime I was enjoying the derby and thought Hoskins could win it at first, but that shifted fairly quickly. I was able to go to the Derby in 2001 and I still remember Jason Giambi putting on a show in the first round. We all know about the PEDs but that was a fun time that day.
Back to the mail. The next one is basketball, a sport I actually loved back then, but can’t watch now. It’s just too different and I still hold a grudge over my Sonics leaving Seattle. Until Seattle gets a new NBA team I probably won’t be a fan of the current game. It’s just too different. I have strong memories of my dad and I going to KeyArena and seeing Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, and the rest, play. They were so entertaining.
Back then I actually watched other games on TV as well and saw Tyrone Mugsey Boughes play a few times. He was so much fun to watch as well, high intensity, and a good player. I’m really happy to get these two back – a blank signature card and then one I’ve had for the longest time ever. Pulled from a pack way back. The signatures turned out great. Probably about 2-3 months as well. I love the shot – little guy pulling up his huge team mate.
Last but certainly not least was All Star Blake Snell! I am so glad he got to pitch in the game. He signed a Topps Heritage in about two weeks. One of the faster turn around times for current guys. He only seems to sign 1, though, so be sure to just send the card you want signed. This one turns out quite nicely and is one reason I invest in Heritage each year. They are perfect for autographs. Though I do wish Topps would release a lower-end cost wise set just for autographs. Similar to 1996/97 Fleer. A set that has all the rookies, a long player check list, the works. One could even include coaches and GMs. Feature relics instead of autograph inserts. Relic cards always look great signed.
Here is the Snell.
That was just on Monday.
There was nothing else until Thursday, which is pretty typical for my mail weeks. On Thursday I got John Offerdahl. This was a super fast return of about 10 days. Maybe less. He must have gotten it in the mail, signed it same day, and sent it back. Impressive. The signature turned out great. He’ll only sign one and I’ve heard he won’t sign his rookie card either. He’ll just keep it. This card came from a $5 box from Walgreens. I consider TTM guys my hits from those. They’re a perfect way to acquire some new TTM cards.
On Friday I ended up getting two more returns. I’d gone through about a two week cold stretch (just 2) so this week ended up being pretty amazing. Friday I got 2 signed back from John Olerud, a favorite player of mine from the Mariners and of course Blue Jays. I played 1B in little league and through middle school and often imagined my game would be like Olerud’s. Both turned out great as always. Strong, bold signatures. He personalized some for my sons last year and I sent this time for the 1993 UD, for my set building. I won’t bother him again for a couple years at least.
After Olerud, I got a success I’m super happy about. Edgardo Alfonso signed 2/2! He has an amazing signature and they both turned out great. He was at a 34% return rate on SportsCollectors.net until very recently he’d signed a couple. I remember seeing him play (on TV) and loving how he went about the game, and his defense. He currently manages the Brooklyn Cyclones and that is where I sent. For more on Mr. Alfonso, see his Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgardo_Alfonzo.
I love these signatures – there is so much personality to them. The 2001 Fleer Tradition set is one I’m going to take another look at autographs for. I’m a bit mixed on the design. It seems a little too busy but the surface is good. The Topps Reserve was a bit of a risk. I sent because of the light-white background and felt the autograph would look great, but it’s highly glossy or it felt that way. It turned out just amazing. These are two of my favorite signatures now. I love the #13 on there as well.
Finally a HUGE shout out to my friend @waxpack916 on Twitter. He sent me a surprise care package with some amazing PC Mariner cards and some actual packs to rip. I’m waiting until Topps Archives comes out so I’m not buying much right now, and it’s been a busy time at work. So it was great to have these packs to rip. I’ve decided I like the 17 Allen and Ginter design more than this years. It’s cleaner in my opinion. But they are both nice. Still, I won’t spend too much on it. The oddball cards are growing on me – from the 2017 set, I’ve decided I have to somehow use the fishing lure cards in TTM. Perhaps for players who like to fish?
I loved the Mariners cards. He got it for my PC. It was just fun opening those packs and a great way to end the week. It also helped that I got a Gary Sanchez relic. He needs to choose the rest of my packs from now on!
So thank you very much for the surprise package. It capped off a great week of returns for this hobby. Hopefully this post has helped encourage someone to jump into the hobby of through the mail autographs.
This past week I had a wonderful vacation in Door County, Wisconsin. Sister Bay. Lake life. Nearly every morning I got up and took advantage of the perfect coffee spot. A screen porch where I could listen to the waves and watch the birds. It proved to be a productive space in time as well, and I dove into figuring out more about Photoshop. My goal was to create a generic custom photograph or card that I could use to send to players through the mail. That turned out to be more difficult than I thought. In the process I ended up making customs for Logan Morrison and Eddie Rosario.
I don’t really have the right photograph for it yet. The one I found works well enough but it’s lacking something still. I added the MLB logo to it and for now I’ll use it – and will NOT sell it (or any signatures obtained on the photos) of course, since I am using the MLB logo. This was more just for fun and experimentation. Please feel free to use any of these custom designs for yourself – but just know the logos are copyrighted, of course. Apologies, but I just had to use them and try it out. Please contact me if you want a digital file of these.
Flash – Mike Trout
One image I’m really proud of though is Mike Trout. These photos are all ones I took during the rain delayed Angels vs Twins game. My boys and I almost got Mike Trout that day on a photo, but he didn’t stop where we were. That really made me want to come up with something special on the off chance that we have another opportunity to try and get his signature.
As I worked on this I kept thinking about who he is as a player and one moniker keeps sticking in my head to describe him. “Flash.” Simply Flash. Not “The Flash”, though that works, but takes too long to say. It’s the title of this photograph because it works as a title, but just a tad too much for him. One word can describe him, and to me that is Flash. He’s so fast and quick and confident with everything he does. He’ll be standing still one moment and then pure motion the next. I hope this image reveals some of that. That’s the goal for it. So please enjoy the use of my photograph. My next chance at getting Mike Trout to sign it might be next year when the Angels visit the Twins. I’ll have an 8 x 10 of this ready for him. If I do get lucky, it’ll be a piece my boys (ages 6 and 3) and I can enjoy for a long time.
I’ll be posting more photographs as I edit them. And as always, unless otherwise stated, please feel free to use for your own graphing needs. All photos and edits are mine. Camera of choice is a Canon Rebel t4I and I am learning Photoshop CC 2018 for the edits.
I have loved taking photos my entire life. Doing so calms my mind and helps me stay in the present, holding off the negative thoughts that can push me toward depression and anger. It’s been a safe place and a sanctuary for me throughout the years. For a long time I also wrote and while I enjoyed that, it always seemed to make me cranky and angry and not a person I really liked to be. For ten years I focused on the writing and wrote four bad books. I’ve at last decided to switch to what is becoming my true passion: Photography. I want so search for those moments of joy, of grit, of raw emotion that all of us feel. I want to show those kids out there, and adults, that we all feel the same rawness. You aren’t alone. You don’t have to be angry and isolated all the time. I felt that way often growing up as a bullied kid. I didn’t know how to handle the negative thoughts, and I still don’t really, but I am starting to learn. I’m determined to learn how. For my family and my kids. I want to show them and everyone out there that it isn’t dark all the time. You can punch through to the light and the goodness. It’s a battle. I know it is. I face it every day. I coped with the writing, but the photography will help me grow and push through it and enjoy life. Deliberately seeking grit and joy and staying in the moment will do that.
Eddie Rosario (taken this year, 2018)
So as part of that this past week or so I’ve finally dived into learning Photoshop. I love it. I easily lose track of time while editing a photo or searching for that perfect shot that goes with a background. There’s so much I want to show through this – and can show – that I am finally feeling that creative vibe and energy that’s been missing for a while. It’s back. I’m embracing it with my photography.
Torri Hunter (photos of Hunter taken during last year playing at Target Field)
I posted a few pictures this week online and got a lot of positive feedback on them. So for those who have asked for a photo of a Twin, I’ll be posting them here on the blog over the next few weeks. I love doing this. This is going to be fun and a learning experience for me. So these photographs are all going to be free. Just contact me or download them from here. To me these photographs – these moments – are ones that I think captures some grit or joy in life. Each photo I choose will, I hope, have some aspect of this. They’ll capture joy and grit – moments of it, or show someone enjoying life or experiencing the trials and joys that get you through the worst times. The raw emotion. And compassion. These are what I’ll be searching for and sharing on this blog (along with my own joyful hobby of baseball card collecting).
Brian Dozier (taken during Fernando Romero’s debut)
The images in this post are some of the first ever I’ve done in photoshop. Please keep in mind that I’ve only been doing Photoshop for a week!
Thank you for reading and I’ll keep sharing pictures and thoughts and searching for those mindflares. Those moments in sports and daily life that show there is good and joy in this world, and that you are not alone.
Kyle Gibson (series of photos taken after the 3 1/2 hour long rain delay at Target Field)