One week, I'll target 80's rookie cards. The next week I'll be focusing on vintage oddballs. It just depends on my mood. But there is one thing that I'm consistently trying to track down for my collection: pack pulled/on-card autographs.
Last week, Kenny over at Torren' Up Cards kicked off the latest round of Blog Bat Arounds, when he featured his All Autograph Team.
It started with some friends of his in Japan showing off the best autographs in their collection at each position. He decided to go with his favorite players, instead of the best players and added a pair of relievers, a closer, and a DH/PH to his team.
I'll go ahead and follow his lead, except I'll be eliminating the closer (one of my relievers can handle the 9th inning). In their place, I have decided to add four more starting pitchers and a manager.
Since I have a bunch of autographs floating around in my collection, I'll be creating a few different teams that will each adhere to these two guidelines:
#1: All autographs will be on-card.
#2: All autographs will either be pack-pulled or PSA/DNA certified.
Volume #1 will feature my favorite baseball players who have actually played during my lifetime. To reduce any redundancy in future volumes, any autograph you see today will not be used on any future All Autograph Teams. However you might see a player like Greg Maddux show up on another All Autograph Team. If that happens, I'll be sure to use a different autograph.
Now that you've seen the personal guidelines I've established for myself... let's check out my All-Autograph Team:
Manager: Billy Martin
1981 Topps #671
If I had to create a list of favorite memories from my childhood, watching Billy's epic meltdowns would be one of them.
Catcher: Kurt Suzuki
2007 Topps '56 Signatures #52S-KS
Kurt Suzuki is a combination of two of my favorite things: the Oakland Athletics and my Japanese heritage. I realize that it's been five years since he's suited up for my beloved Athletics, but I still quietly root for him.
First Baseman: Frank Thomas
1990 Leaf #300
Back in the 90's, it seemed like Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas were constantly battling to be atop Beckett's Hot Chart. Collectors chose sides and a hobby rift was formed. Okay... maybe I'm being a little dramatic... but that's how I remember it. I was always more of a Big Hurt kind of guy.
Second Baseman: Jose Altuve
2016 Topps Museum Collection Archival Autographs #AA-JA
This guy is straight up The Little Engine That Could and is an inspiration to vertically challenged people across the world. The fact that he's one of the best contact hitters in the game, the reigning American League MVP, and a two-time MLB Player of the Year is all gravy.
Shortstop: Ozzie Smith
1979 Topps #116
Pregame flips, diving grabs, and leaping stabs. Those were the things that stood out from my childhood... and those are the things that make him my favorite shortstop of all-time.
Third Baseman: Carney Lansford
2012 Archives Fan Favorites Autographs #FFA-CL
Out of all of the positions, choosing my favorite third baseman was the toughest... which is surprising since I grew up in an era watching George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Wade Boggs, and Paul Molitor. I can't really say any of these guys were my favorites though, so it came down to two guys: Bill Madlock and Carney Lansford.
I decided to go with Lansford, because he was a key member of the successful A's teams of the late 80's.
Left Fielder: Rickey Henderson
1980 Topps #482
Rickey is my all-time favorite Oakland Athletic... and my second favorite player of all-time. There's no way he doesn't make this roster.
Center Fielder: Kirby Puckett
2003 Sweet Spot Classic Autographs #CG-KP
I've always thought of Kirby Puckett as the American League's version of Tony Gwynn. He was an overweight contact hitter who was loyal to one franchise. It's a shame that he wasn't drafted by the Oakland Athletics.
Right Fielder: Tony Gwynn
1999 Century Legends Epic Signatures #TG
Another no-brainer. I've probably referred to Mr. Gwynn as my favorite player of all-time 30 to 50 times on this blog. That's more than I've mentioned my 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson.
Designated Hitter/Pinch Hitter: Ichiro Suzuki
1993 BBM #239
This card is one of the cornerstones of my collection. It's an iconic card that was once held by the man himself. I honestly can't think of another Ichiro card I'd rather have.
Starting Pitcher #1: Steve Carlton
1965 Topps #477
I had a lot of things going against me as a kid. I was short. Chubby. Asian. And if that wasn't enough... I was also left-handed! Papa Fuji showed me that you could be a short, chubby, Asian and still be successful. Carlton was my left-handed role model.
Starting Pitcher #2: Greg Maddux
Throughout middle school, high school, and college, I'd come home and watch that Atlanta Braves play on TBS. Outside of the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants, I don't think there's any other sports team I've watched more on the television. That's where I developed an appreciation for the guy know as The Professor.
Starting Pitcher #3: Clayton Kershaw
2014 Topps High Tek Autographs #HT-CK
I know he's a Dodger... and as a Padres fan I'm suppose to hate him. But I can't help but admire greatness. I've said it before... and I'll say it again. This guy is a once in a generation kind of pitcher and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm constantly checking the Dodger's game cast when he's on the mound.
Starting Pitcher #4: Fernando Valenzuela
2014 Topps High Tek Autographs #HT-FV
Fernandomania stormed the country right about the same time I started collecting cards. Plus he was a lefty, so how could I not support the guy.
Starting Pitcher #5: Dwight Gooden
1985 Topps #620
Rounding out my starting rotation is Dr. K. Back in the mid 80's, the Oakland A's kinda sucked... and I was just starting to like the San Diego Padres... which explains why I was so fascinated with Gooden. Like Maddux, Kershaw, and Valenzuela... he was one of those guys you watch in awe and in my case one of those guys I enjoy collecting.
I grew up a huge Rollie Fingers fan, but it had nothing to do with his tenure with the Athletics or the Padres. I was too young to remember him pitching for the Athletics and I didn't become a Padres fan until the mid 80's. By that time he was wrapping up his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
That's the team he played for when I discovered he was my buddy's uncle. When you're a ten year old kid... it's pretty cool that your buddy is related to an MLB all-star.
Relief Pitcher #2: Kent Tekulve
2001 Topps Golden Anniversary Autograph #GAA-KTWell there you have my All Autograph Team. Thank you Kenny for creating and inspiring this latest Blog Bat Around. I really enjoyed sifting through my scans and putting together my team.
I'm sure you've all imitated your favorite athletes at some point. Well... my buddies and I loved to goof around and throw like Tekulve and catch like Tony Pena. Good times that will never be forgotten. And that's why Teke has secured the final roster spot.
The next team I'll be building in this series will be my All-time Greats roster, which I hope to have up in the next few days.
Until then, I look forward to reading other bloggers' responses to this very creative Blog Bat Around.
Happy Tuesday and sayonara!