A peek inside my autograph collection, part 3

I noticed that, in the titles of the first two posts in this series, I initially spelled peek as peak.

I went to college for journalism, I swear.

Anyway, moving on.

Today we have Russ Springer, Bill Schroeder and Cris Carpenter.

I sent to Springer in late November 2021 and he responded in 32 days, signing 1/1.

I never understood how Springer managed to forge such a long career—18 seasons—or why teams kept signing him. From 1992 to 1998, his ERA was 5.18 and he had not posted a mark under 4.10 to that point. Then in 1999, he had a solid year with Atlanta—a 3.42 mark in 49 appearances—but he followed that with ERAs of 5.08, 7.13 and 8.31, missing a year in-between.

Granted, from 2004 to 2008, he had a solid run with the Astros and Cardinals, posting ERAs of 2.18 and 2.32 in 2007 and 2008, respectively. But in 2004, he was already 35. That was his 13th season. How does a guy with a career 5.18 ERA and 86 ERA+ through 2003 forge a 13-year career without being a LOOGY?

Whatever magic teams thought he had kept him around long enough to appear in 740 games, which is 84th all-time—tied with Ryan Madson and one spot behind Steve Carlton … a starting pitcher.

Schroeder was a catcher for the Brewers and Angels, playing mostly in the ’80s. He wasn’t quite a slugger like Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk or Lance Parrish, but he held his own, averaging 26 home runs per 162 games. And though that sounds impressive, he never actually hit more than 14 in a single campaign, as he was mostly a backup throughout his eight-year career.

His 1987 season was rather anomalous. Before that year, he was a .197 career hitter and after that year, he batted .189. But something clicked in ’87, as he hit .332 with 14 home runs, 42 RBI and 83 hits in 75 games (all career highs). Not too shabby.

I’ve sent to him three times in my life. The first request, sent in late June 2018, is still floating around out there—he hasn’t responded. When I mailed to him in August 2021, he signed a card in 42 days. A few months later, in December, I sent him another card, and he signed it in 21 days.

Chris Carpenter is a former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher for the 2000s and 2010s Cardinals who had Hall of Fame potential but not Hall of Fame health or consistency in the early going, when he was a Blue Jay. Cris Carpenter also pitched for the Cardinals … and that’s basically where the similarities end.

That Cris Carpenter pitched for St. Louis from 1988 to 1992 before moving on. He was a reliever of minor consequence, though his 1992 season was pretty solid—73 games, 2.97 ERA.

And unlike the more modern Carpenter, Cris has always been amenable to autograph seekers, signing for me twice. I’ve written to Chris six times over the years and he has yet to respond … and he barely responds to anyone else, either.

I first sent a card to Cris (no ‘h’) in August 2020 and received it back signed 27 days later. I sent to him again in November 2021 and received that card back in 46 days.

A peek inside my autograph collection, part 2

Let’s dive right in.

Mike Madsen, not to be confused with the similarly named actor, was once a fairly well-regarded prospect in the Athletics system. He was 6-1 with a 1.69 ERA his first professional campaign, 2005, and by his third, he was in Triple-A. He even made the 2007 Futures Game. Unfortunately, he never advanced beyond Triple-A, as it appears injuries took their toll.

I wrote to him in late November 2021 through his home address and received his autograph 24 days later, on December 17.

Pitcher Rafael Novoa spent parts of two seasons in the majors, playing for the Giants in 1990 and the Brewers in 1993. He wasn’t particularly successful either year, though he did manage a save in seven appearances for San Francisco—despite a 6.75 ERA—and he completed two of his seven starts with Milwaukee, despite going 0-3.

I sent to him in mid-November 2021 and he responded in just 25 days. I sent to him again last November, but he has yet to reply.

I used to collect Royal Rookies cards religiously as a kid—one free autograph per pack!—so, despite the company releasing sets only twice, in 2000 and 2001, I accumulated a lot of their cards.

That’s why, though Jon Tucker never reached the major leagues—he peaked at Double-A—I had enough cards to write to him three times. He’s signed each time.

I first sent him a letter in mid-November 2009 and he signed 3/3 in just 8 days. I wrote to him again in July 2019 and he signed 1/1 in 10 days. I most recently wrote to him in December 2021 and he signed one card in 11 days. He also included a signed note.

A peek inside my autograph collection, part 1

I’ve been collecting autographs through-the-mail for over 20 years now, but it was in 2003 that I really got into the hobby. That’s when it became a passion.

I used to run a website called Alex’s Autographs, where I posted my daily successes, which you can still visit—though I haven’t updated it since July 2020. I’m not sure how much longer it will be around, as Webs.com, the host, began to shift all their content to another host and I have a hunch that if I log in, the old content will disappear completely. So, I’ll leave it be, untouched, for now.

It was a fun project, that website. I started it in 2004 and updated it regularly for about 10-15 years, but as I got older, went off to college and started working updates became fewer and farther between. Before I started updating again in March 2020, I had gone about a year-and-a-half between posts. Then I did a lot of work with it for a few months. Then I stopped altogether, again.

Life’s busy, man.

The site used to have all sorts of features. I used to run a monthly contest where folks could win free autographs. I had a featured website, where I would tout fellow collectors’ little corners of the Internet. I had a bunch of lists and pages—players who charged to sign, archives of all my past successes, hints and tips. It developed into quite the helpful resource, if I do say so myself.

I pared it down over the years as it became too unwieldy and too time consuming to update. But at its peak, it was pretty popular, even earning a write up in Tuff Stuff magazine.

Anyway, my passion for collecting autographs hasn’t waned. I still send out hundreds of requests each year. So, why not post a little about the successes I’ve received over the years? I have binders full of autographs and I’ll go through them, one page at a time. That should give me plenty of material.

Let’s start on Page One, of Binder Six. Or maybe Seven. I lose track.

Here we have Michael Tucker, Scott Garrelts and Brian Johnson.

I’ve written to Tucker three times in my day, and he’s responded twice … and they both came back on the same day. The first request I sent was in December 2016. It arrived 1,851 days later—that’s more than five years, for those counting—in mid-January 2022. I sent him another request in September 2019, but he never responded. Then in late December of that year, I sent him a third request, which came back on the same day as the first one. That took 750 days, or a little more than two years. He signed 3/3 and 1/1 cards, respectively.

Tucker is an easily forgotten outfielder, but he clobbered 125 home runs in his career and stole as many as 23 bases in a campaign.

Garrelts is a highly underrated pitcher from the 1980s and early 1990s. He earned an All-Star selection as a reliever in 1985 (74 G, 2.30 ERA, 13 SV, 9.0 K/9), then Cy Young votes as a starter in 1989 (14-5 W-L, league-leading 2.28 ERA). And just like that, he fell off, and was out of the majors after a decade in it.

I sent him an autograph request in November 2021 and received 4/4 cards signed back in mid-January 2022. He signed in 68 days.

Two Brian Johnsons have made the major leagues—one was a catcher mostly for the Padres and Giants in the 1990s and early 2000s. The other was a pitcher for Boston in the mid-to-late 2010s. This Brian Johnson is neither of those—rather, he was a catcher in the Indians chain who spent a couple seasons at Triple-A, 1991 and 1992, but never reached the majors. He was Cleveland’s second round pick in 1988 (Mark Lewis was their #1 pick that year), but never panned out.

I wrote to him twice. I initially tried him in late November 2021, but it came back return to sender—bad address. I found a new one and not a couple weeks later sent to him again. He signed that time in 32 days.

What happened to Alex’s Baseball Blog?

Howdy, it’s been a while.

This website started as a little side project and time-waster after I moved to the fine state of Tennessee from my previous home, just outside of Rochester, New York.

When I first came down here, I didn’t have a job lined up, so I needed something to do to pass the time. This was it. But eventually, writing a handful of pieces each day became far too time consuming (researching, writing and editing even a short article could take a couple hours) and I just got burnt out. The final death knell sounded when I actually did start working and ran out of spare time.

This site was here and gone in just a couple months.

It’s all quite a shame, really, because it did receive a fair amount of views, and still does to this day, despite almost no advertising of it on my end.

Anywho, Alex’s Baseball Blog is not completely dead. I’m not going to take it down, nor will I say I’ll never return. I have a bunch of stuff written from years past that I might start posting here, and enough autographs in my collection to for years’ worth of “Random Autograph of the Day”-type posts.

I can’t guarantee daily posts, but a return might be forthcoming.

Stay tuned.