Monday, September 30, 2013

Alberto Gonzalez

Alberto Gonzalez signed with the Cubs as a free agent this past off season. What seems like an eternity ago, the Cubs began the season with Gonzalez as one of their rotating second basemen. Why, you might ask? Didn't Darwin Barney win a Gold Glove last year at that position?

Yep. But in a meaningless, final Spring Training game, Barney was chasing a foul ball and ran into the stands/fence/wall, putting a gash in his leg that required 5 stitches. And sent him to the 15-day DL.

Gonzalez played in 11 of the first 13 games of the season, splitting the time between starting and coming in off the bench. Unofrtunately for Gonzalez, once Barney came back from the DL, he was waived and ultimately sent to Triple-A Iowa.

Just a few weeks later, the Yankees came a calling and a deal was worked out for a player to be named later and some cash money. I looked (quickly) but still don't see what the Cubs ended up getting, if anything yet.

The ATCRCS card above and the 2013 Team set card below were signed by Gonzalez with a little help from an SCN member when the Yankees visited his local team back in July. He helped me knock out a couple of former Cubs on the Mets and Yankees so I'll have a few more to show off in the coming days/weeks.

This guy gets really pumped for his double plays! Ah, the optimism of playing for the Cubs in April...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Where Are They Now? 2010 Pro Debut Part 7

This is part seven (of eight planned) of this running series where I take a look back at the future Cubs represented in the 2010 Pro Debut. You can view previous posts here:

Part One - Ryan Flaherty and Brett Jackson 

Part Two - DJ LeMahieu and Brooks Raley

Part Three - Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee

Part Four - Rebel Ridling and Trey McNutt

Part Five - Welington Castillo and Jay Jackson

Part Six - David Cales and Casey Coleman

The Cubs selected Josh Vitters with the third overall pick in the 2007 draft and he was a top 100 Baseball America Prosect from 2008-2010. He's been gradually making his way up the chain and made his Major League Debut last August in a late season call up.

He's had a rough year in 2013, working through some injuries and playing in only 28 games in Triple-A Iowa. He was shut down early and it was announced in late August/early September that he would not be part of September call ups despite being on the Cubs 40 man roster. Hopefully the extra rest has him ready for 2014.

James Leverton was drafted in the 8th round by the Cubs in the 2008 draft. He went a combined 10-14 in 2008-09 in low and high Single-A before turning it around in 2010. Between three teams, Leverton went 10-1 with a 2.75 ERA. So of course the Cubs released him for 2011.

He started that season with the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association (an independent league) before signing a minor league contract with the Florida Marlins. Yeah, they were still the Florida Marlins back then. He's been rising through the ranks since, spending most of this season out of the bullpen with their Triple-A affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs.

The card above was signed during Spring Training prior to the 2012 season with a little help from someone who 'graphed the Marlins. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

PWE from 2x3 Heroes

I dropped the ball this week for showcasing a One Game Wonder, but I think I'm out of photos to use for the remaining guys. Somehow, some way I'll find one to use for an ATCRCS card but until I might have to post without showing a card.

Luckily, Jeff from 2x3 Heroes saved the day by dropping an unexpected PWE on me this week.

With my handy new scanning and tagging system, I was able to determine I needed one of the cards he sent but another couple were definite upgrades! Score! Speaking of which, one of the upgrades was a 1992 Score Ryne Sandberg:

I think Score kind of gets a bum rap and was overshadowed by Upper Deck but in hindsight, they were a pretty good brand. Full color photos on both sides, bright colors, clean lines, no foil. My original card was a little rough along one edge so this one is a keeper. It is one of those cards that you see a million times and keep meaning to upgrade but never get around to it.

Another upgrade was this Play Hard insert from 2013 Opening Day. The one I pulled from a pack was miscut along the back. I thought it might have been my scan/crop job but after going to rescan it, I determined the card itself was bad.

I didn't do a breakdown of this card but the play featured was during a Cubs-White Sox game on June 18, 2012. As you can probably see, Castro was safe on the pickoff attempt. The back of the card is a testament to the fact that Starlin Castro plays hard. Topps says so, so it must be true. 

The final upgrade was this 1987 Topps Glossy All-Star card. The one I have is yellowing but this one looks as good as I'm sure it did 25 years ago.

A new addition to the collection is this 2007 Bowman Heritage Prospects card of Ryan Norwood. This came out during a hiatus from the hobby so I don't have many others from this set. The Cubs drafted Norwood in the 9th round of the 2004 draft but he topped out at High Single-A in 2007.

Thanks Jeff, you'll have some White Sox coming your way soon.

Friday, September 27, 2013

First Pitch Friday - Golden Tate

So here I am, getting a start on yesterday's post by branching out and featuring somebody from a different team. If you missed yesterday's post, check it out as I'd like to hear your opinion!

I've mentioned previously that a fellow collector from the Seattle area has been helping me get a few ATCRCS signed for my collection and I have been making him some Mariners cards for some of their new guys. With football underway, I have also been sending him some Seahawks cards for guys that have been appearing at the team Pro Shop for free autograph signings.

Just this past week, Golden Tate was the scheduled guest so I sent a pair of cards (plus extras for him & Tate). Rumor has it Tate really liked them and asked for a business card to have more made. Score! Of the two I sent, one is the first pitch card below:

Tate was drafted out of high school to play baseball by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft. He chose to attend the University of Notre Dame instead and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL draft. Not only that, but Tate was also re-drafted in baseball as well, this time by the San Francisco Giants in the 50th round in 2010.

The other card I sent is part of a very basic design that I've been using for the other free Seahawks signings. It's just a matter of changing out the name, position and photo.

I also created a "PASS" custom from his Notre Dame days but I did not send this one in for the signing.

And last but not least, I ran this latest design by the message board on SCN and have come down to these two "finalists" for something new. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Sorry this is so late but the length got away from me. Hope you packed a snack!

I feel like I've been beating this organization thing into the ground but even with my self-diagnosed OCD, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. After deciding I was going to binder all of my Cubs cards by brand and year, I realized that wasn't really the way I utilized my collection.

While I enjoy flipping through my complete set, autograph and customs binders from time to time, my Cubs cards are a different animal. I tend to focus on one player at time, whether I'm getting autographs or making a custom or doing a blurb here on the blog, so it would be nice to have all the cards of that one player together. Plus, I'm more likely to clean up after myself if I pull a stack of cards out of a box than if I had to replace that same stack back into binder pages.

Space is another concern. Obviously, as my collection grows, I'm running out of space. There are a lot of "team sets" that only consist of one or two or three Cubs. While I don't mind using the fronts and backs of binder pages for a bigger team set, I don't like to mix brands/years so I end up wasting quite a bit of space on a page which uses more pages, which then snowballs into more binders.

So going forward my cards will be alphabetized by the player's last name, oldest to newest, in monster boxes. I'm still on the hunt for brand spanking new boxes which I hope to pick up at the big card show next month. Right now, they're spread out among smaller boxes (although organized) and divided between scanned and unscanned. Can't wait to condense the two and be done! Until there's more...

Since I started this blog almost 18 months ago, scanning any new Cubs cards as they come into my collection has been part of the blogging process. I've also been working on scanning the thousands of Cubs cards I already owned. Scanning both sides of the card, cropping, renaming and copying the card into my photo frame template.

And now tagging. In addition to naming the photo file with the name and year of the set and the players name (1989 Fleer Andre Dawson, for example), I've been adding tags to each file too. If I want to do a post on "double plays" or "Topps All-Star Rookies" or "Ivy" or "League Leader in Italics" etc, I can do a search on my computer to pull up all of the cards that fit that criteria. I can locate all of my relics (jersey, bat or otherwise), autographs, parallels, serial numbered cards in as long as it takes my computer to do the search. Time consuming right now for sure but hopefully when I'm done, it'll be much more practical than thumbing through the binder.

So what is this "inspiration" I mentioned in the title? Like I said, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. So while Night Owl may be streamlining some of his web presence, I may be looking at expanding mine. I've come up with a couple of things that could probably fill my time.

First, I'll focus on making customs. More customs. Better (hopefully) customs. And even branch out into other teams. I may even start taking requests if there's interest.

I signed up for a Twitter account last year but very rarely log in. I follow a bunch of athletes and fellow collectors but find myself only logging in when I get a spam/reminder email from Twitter saying "So and so retweeted this guy! Check it out!" I don't really care about all that. But after getting a few compliments about the cards from the athletes signing them, I may "tweet" a daily custom and include the athlete if they have a Twitter account. Who I make will depend on what images I can find and I'll check the SCN database to see if they are good about signing their mail or make a lot of public appearances. Not that an autograph is the be all, end all, but I don't want to waste my time making a card that won't ever get signed. This isn't necessarily worth a new blog and I'd like to keep this one fairly Cubs related, so Twitter sounds like an interesting venue for that.

My next adventure won't actually start until January/February. I like the idea of these Frankensets some of you other bloggers are working on and I will pursue one of my own in the form of 2014 Topps...with a twist. Rather than building the set with parallels though, I will complete the 990 card base set (Series 1, Series 2 and Update) plus any cards from the Factory Team sets that are not included in the base sets. That will make the task quite a bit more expensive but could be worth it for a truly complete 2014 Topps set. I'm on the fence right now about the SPs. They would also add to the expense considerably...but complete is complete, right?

And this ties into my last idea. One of my favorites types of posts is where I find the original Getty photo used by Topps for their cards and dissect the card a bit. They seem to get above average views (for my blog anyway) and even *gasp* the occasional comment. There are several set specific blogs that I follow and am thinking about doing one for my 2014 Topps Frankenset when it comes out. I'll probably do the same as I have been with the Cubs cards from this year with pertinent game information, as well as a link to the original Getty image, the boxscore on Baseball Reference and maybe some witty commentary if the mood strikes. With a template, it shouldn't take up too much of my time, although with 1000+ cards it could! What do you think, one a day for a couple of years or several a day and squeeze them all in from February to December?

I would love to hear any feedback on these ideas, either encouraging, discouraging, requests for customs or offers for help tracking down the local Factory Team sets when they are released!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Anthony Recker

Back again with another ATCRCS card and another former #20, Anthony Recker. The Cubs picked up Recker from the A's last year in their playoff hunt August in exchange for a different catcher Blake Lalli (who has since been granted free agency and signed by the Milwaukee Brewers). I'm sure this isn't a record (although who knows with their record sized rosters) but Recker was one of six catchers used last year along with Geovany Soto, Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Koyie Hill and Lalli. No wonder the Cubs have pitching issues too...

He played in 9 games, almost a half and half split between pinch hitting and starting at catcher before being placed on waivers after the season. The New York Mets signed him and he's played 47 games so far this season with them and a handful with their Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas 51s.

The ATCRCS card above was signed with a little help from SCN member nomarfan when the Mets were in his neck of the woods. He also got me a 2012 team set card signed too! I changed the photo from the original (where it looked like he was popping out) to a much more appealing catcher action shot and love the way it came out.

The old version:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Couple of Card Show Pickups

A few weeks ago I was thumbing through a Beckett and decided to see if there were any card shows in the area besides the big CSA one that comes around a couple times of year. I needed a couple of storage boxes that I don't want to pay shipping on to buy online and thought a card show would be a good place to start.

Determined not to buy much of anything except for supplies until I finished reorganizing, I took $40 in cash and left the rest of my wallet in the car. I have no idea how much boxes and sleeves and toploaders run these days so I wanted to be safe.

The show turned out to be about 20-30 tables and after my first loop, discovered no one selling boxes. Well now what am I supposed to do a little cash in my pocket and a banquet hall in the local Best Western full of cards? Well, if you read the title of this post, you know I picked up a few things!

Everything below came from the same dealer who had a $0.50-$1 insert box and a $3 or 4 for $10 relics/autograph box. With all of the cards sorted by team, my money was spent within minutes. I pulled out a bunch of Cubs and casually sorted through some other teams looking for some trade bait. Knowing I was quite a bit off, I handed the guy my stack and said, "How close am I to getting these for $20?"

He flipped through them and said I was at about $50, which if I did the math in my head right, was around his "sticker" price. Hmmm, getting the feeling he's not going to be fun to negotiate with. I put a few things back, reshuffled the deck, handed it back and offered $30, which to my surprise, he accepted. He even gave me a 400 ct box and a couple of unused team bags because I had been asking for supplies.

I don't think I got the steal of the century, but I picked up a few cards I needed/wanted at a decent price. And it was probably still cheaper than eBay when you factor in the shipping I would have had to pay from multiple sellers to get the same stuff.

Let's start with the Cubs autographs...

2011 Tier One Tyler Colvin Autograph 336/999

Tyler Colvin isn't with the Cubs anymore but this is my first and only Tier One anything. Solid looking autograph too. Bold blue, almost every letter. Can't go wrong. 

2011 Topps Chrome Darwin Barney Autograph

I still haven't figured out how to scan Chrome cards but I promise that is what it is. This card looked so familiar to me that I couldn't decide whether I had it or it has just been sitting in one of my saved eBay searches. Remember, I was just going for supplies so I didn't bring anything resembling a list. 

2012 Bowman Prospect Mike Olt Autograph
So technically this is not a Cubs card but I couldn't pass on it. Funny how his 7-letter autograph looks longer than guys with 12+ letters. And that it looks like Matt and not Mike.

And now a bunch of Cubs inserts. I have frugally avoided 2013 cards thus far as a punishment for being unorganized/incentive to get organized but with them right in front of me I couldn't pass them up. Below you'll see a couple of Archives inserts with a Ryne Sandberg All-Star and an Anthony Rizzo tallboy? Is that what they're calling these? I don't even know the lingo, I feel like a fraud! Below those are a couple of the Home Town Heroes from this year's Bowman. I guess I should figure out which ones I still need now.

I also picked up a couple of older inserts too.

This Presidential Pastime Ronald Reagan card from 2004 Topps is now my second Cubs affiliated Reagan card to go along with my 2011 Opening Day Presidential First Pitch card.

2012 Topps Black Border Jairo Asencio /61
I picked up a couple of these black bordered cards last year so I figured I might as well keep trying to passively complete the team set.

These Welington Castillo rookie parallels were in my stack because the dealer also had one of the printing plates for this card. I thought it would be nice to pick up an instant starter rainbow but the plate was one of the ones I put back. Still good additions, and ones I needed/wanted more than the printing plate.

I also picked up this 2012 Bowman Jedd Gyorko autograph for Marcus over at all the way to the backstop, but the day after the show, he posted that he picked one up himself. Any other Padres/Gyorko fans out there want this?

So you may be thinking I got ripped off so far for $30. But keep in mind there are several more other team autographs I'm not showing off (I'll let those bloggers show off the goodies when they get them). And as usual, I saved the best (I think) for last. I've avoided a lot of Darwin Barney stuff on eBay so as to not get in to a bidding war with Paul from Wrigley Wax on something. But I didn't see him at this small card show hundreds of miles away from where he lives so I didn't feel so bad about picking this one up:

The dealer wanted $20 for this one outright because it is from the mini set, a more "in demand" set. But I successfully downplayed the horrible Cubs, Darwin Barney and the fact that he may have missed the boat on getting a high price so far away from the product release date. So either I overpaid for this and got the rest of the cards for $10 (I'm ok with that) or I talked him down on this and everything above (plus a few not shown) averages out to less than $2 per card (great for some, meh for others).

And I still had $10 in my pocket when I walked out the door...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Julio Borbon

So this was bound to happen eventually with the more of these cards that I get signed but I swear this is completely random that these are all coming back at once. And what am I talking about? Last week I showed two former Cubs, Howard Johnson and Mick Kelleher who both signed their jersey #20 along with their autograph.

As you can see on the card above, Julio Borbon did not, however, he is clearly wearing the number 20. And after taking a look at Cubs by the Numbers, I realized that Borbon was my 7th former Cub in my signed ATCRCS collection to have worn number 20. Along with Ho-Jo and Kelleher, I also already have Jerome Walton, Oscar Gamble, Al Spangler, Adolfo Phillips. Not only that, but there are still two more that I have in my possession but haven't showcased yet. I guess I know which two will be next...

Back to the subject at hand, Julio Borbon joined the Cubs back in April after the selected him off of waivers from the Texas Rangers. Some of you may remember I had a fun interaction with him when the Cubs came to play the Nats back in May when trying to get autographs. When he came over to the crowd, he asked why nobody had any Cubs cards of him yet (he had been with the team all of about 3 weeks at the time). I whipped out my brand spanking new 2013 Team Set card, which he signed:

But the ATCRCS at the top of the page was signed with a little help from an SCN member before Borbon got overly agressive on the basepaths and was thrown out trying to take third on a passed ball that didn't get as far away from the catcher as he would have liked. He was DFA'd after the game to set an example by the management for sloppy play. This took him off of the 40-Man roster and nobody else took a flyer on him, so Borbon spent the rest of the season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. I didn't see Borbon on any of the prelimnary 2013 Topps Update checklists so I'm not sure Borbon will even get any "official" Cubs cards.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Where Are They Now? 2010 Pro Debut Part 6

This is part six (of eight planned) of this running series where I take a look back at the future Cubs represented in the 2010 Pro Debut. You can view previous posts here:

Part One - Ryan Flaherty and Brett Jackson 

Part Two - DJ LeMahieu and Brooks Raley

Part Three - Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee

Part Four - Rebel Ridling and Trey McNutt

Part Five - Welington Castillo and Jay Jackson

Here's a feel good, hometown boy makes good story I'm still waiting to play out. David Cales was born in Chicago, went to a Chicago high school and St. Xavier University in Orland Park, Illinois. So when he was drafted by the local Chicago Cubs in the 24th round of the 2008 draft, most people would consider that a pretty good story. And it is. But in your early twenties, you still have your whole career ahead of you so the story isn't over. The down side isthat he grew up in the south side of Chicago and in fact, his mom worked (still works?) for the White Sox.

He played in three different levels in 2009, including one game at Triple-A Iowa, where he is shown on the card above. He split 2010 between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and even earned a spot on the Southern League midseason All-Star team.

He ran into some shoulder problems so after surgery in 2011, Cales spent most of 2012 rehabbing. He began 2013 with the high Single-A Daytona Cubs but was released in May. But to keep the feel good aspect of this story, Cales was signed by the White Sox shortly after and is currently with their Double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons. 

Next up is another potential feel good story waiting to be played out, Casey Coleman. Along with his former Cubs pitcher father, Joe Coleman and former Major League pitcher grandfather (also) Joe Coleman, they are the fourth three generation baseball family. 

Casey has been shuttling back and forth between the Iowa Cubs and the Chicago Cubs since 2010, although he has yet to make a big league appearance this season. And unless something changes, he is not currently on the 40-man roster so he probably won't.

He began his career as a starter but this season was primarily used out of the bullpen. The verdict is still out on whether this will further his career with the organization. Everybody knows the Cubs can use help in all aspects of the pitching game!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

One Game Wonders - Roe Skidmore

Unlike previous One Game Wonder subjects who also played for other teams, Roe Skidmore truly only played one Major League game.

Originally drafted by the Braves in the 1966 amateur draft, Skidmore was then sent to the San Francisco Giants in what, according to, is an "unkown transaction" in 1967. The Cubs then selected him away from the Giants in 1968 minor league draft. After spending time in just Single-A with the Braves and Giants, Skidmore made the jump to Triple-A within the Cubs organization in 1969. 

Skidmore made his one and only Major League appearance the following year on September 17, 1970 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Already down 8-1, he pinch hit for pitcher Joe Decker in the 7th inning.

You know how I makes jokes about Jerry Reuss usually being the oldest looking guy in my repacks on his 1980s cards? Well, Reuss happened to be the starting pitcher that day for the Cardinals in his sophomore season. Funny tie-in. To me anyway.

So with two outs (Ernie Banks flew out, Randy Hundley grounded out), Skidmore singled to left field. The next batter, Don Kessinger, grounded to second baseman, Julian Javier, who stepped on second base to force out Skidmore and end the inning. Jim Dunegan came on to pitch in the 8th, ending Skidmore's 1/3 of an inning consecutive innings streak.

Following the season, the Cubs traded Skidmore across town to the White Sox. After that he bounced around the minor leagues in the Reds, Cardinals, Astros and Red Sox organizations but never made it back to the Major League level.

Roe Skidmore shares a Rookie Card with Jim Dunegan on a 1971 Topps Rookies Stars card, the only Skidmore card that I have and know of.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

James Russell

I 'm trying not to overload you on ATCRCS posts and have been doing at least every other post but that is all I seem to have going on right now. Luckily we're heading into the weekend when I'll do First Pitch Friday, One Game Wonder and a Where Are They Now Pro Debut posts so bear with me. Hopefully the extras in this post will cure any boredom.

This may be a first for me but I'll have to double check to be sure. Not only did I recently get back a James Russell ATCRCS card signed...

...but I also got back the 2013 team set card...

...and an upgraded 2012 team set card!

There are a couple of players I have three or more autographs from but I'm pretty sure this is my first trifecta that includes all three team sets I am working on. Despite a record setting 53 different players last year and another record setting 56 (so far) this year, there are only 21 players that can claim to be in all three sets.

Six of those 21 have already been traded away or released (Soriano, Garza, DeJesus, Camp, Clevenger & Marmol) so the chances they make an appearance in 2014 are pretty slim.

It will be interesting to see which of the remaining 15 will be the last man standing. Will it be one of the big name money guys like Anthony Rizzo or Starlin Castro or Jeff Samardzija? A middle of the road guy like Darwin Barney or Welington Castillo? Or one of the young pitchers like Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley or Blake Parker?

That reminds me, I have another bunch of 2013 cards to still make...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Howard Johnson

On Monday I showed off one of my newer ATCRCS cards, Mick Kelleher and noted that I liked how he added #20, his jersey number that he only wore while with the Cubs.

Yesterday, I put up some cards of miscellaneous Mariners that I obtained with a little help from justgreg over on SCN.

Today, I am tying those both together (completely randomly) with a post about the Tacoma Rainiers hitting coach, Howard Johnson. He is currently the Assistant Hitting Coach for the Seattle Mariners which I think is just temporary since the Triple-A season is over.

To tie Ho-Jo to Kelleher, you'll note that Johnson also added his jersey number 20 to his autograph. The difference though is that Johnson wore #20, at least part of the time, with all four of the teams from his playing days (Tigers, Mets, Rockies & Cubs). He even wears #20 with the Rainiers. Unfortunately for him, Nick Franklin wears the number for the Mariners so he is currently sporting #10.

And the cards above and below were both obtained with help from justgreg. I even sent in a few extras of the ATCRCS card after Greg mentioned that Ho-Jo really liked them.

As a big Ryne Sandberg fan, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to get this card signed as well by co-super star, Johnson. The signature is a little more abbreviated on this one which is understandable due to getting only half the card. This goes into a ridiculously sized pile of stuff that I eventually would like to get signed by Ryno.

For a little more cheesy fun that I noticed while writing this post, what's 20x20? 400, you say? Well, this also happens to be my 400th post. Not exactly a milestone number, but everybody likes a nice round number, right?

Also, since it is Sandberg's birthday today, I thought it appropriate he makes a cameo in today's post!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Miscellaneous Mariners

In an effort to avoid ATCRCS overload for you readers, I'm going to change things up a bit here and show off a few things I didn't think I'd add to my collection.

I've been working with a great member from over on SCN, justgreg, getting some of my various Cubs customs signed. He was full of positive feedback and always passes along any comments from the players themselves, which I enjoy. It keeps me motivated, especially when I get into a creative slump.

Since he lives outside of Seattle and pretty regularly gets autographs from the Seattle Mariners and their Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, I decided to send him a couple cards for those teams. I sent him a few extras to give to the players, just in case too.

These first two, Bobby LaFromboise and Brandon Bantz started the year in Tacoma and made their Major League debuts later in the season. I thought these would be good to start with since at any given time they could be in Tacoma or Seattle so he would have a pretty good chance to get them signed. And I don't think either of them have any cards aside from Minor League team sets. No Bowman or Pro Debut or Heritage Minors that I know of anyway. You may recognize the template as my 2012 Cubs team set, with a few tweaks to make it more Mariners friendly.

I also made a Michael Morse because at the time it was one of the first Mariners images that showed up in a Google search that met the size and layout requirements I need in a photo for this custom template. It didn't hurt that he was one of my son's favorites during his time with the Nationals.

And finally, I have one of the newest Seattle Mariners with Taijuan Walker. He recently started 3 games for the Mariners before being shut down for the season. In his MLB debut, he pitched 5 innings of 2-hit baseball. Not too shabby. At the time I made these, he hadn't made his debut yet so I didn't have a horizontal photo to use for the design above. With a Spring Training Photo Day picture I found, I put together one of my PASS customs. It didn't quite get signed in the right spot but that's ok. Maybe he didn't want to sign over the Mariners logo.

As I mentioned, when I made these, the intention wasn't for me to get any signed for myself. I was just trying to extend a courtesy to a fellow collector who has helped me out a lot. Once I got a couple of positive reviews from the players themselves, I became more interested in getting one to keep for myself as a souvenir. I mean, hey, if they're a fan of my work, I can be a fan of theirs too, right? If there are any Seahawks fans out there, be on the lookout for a couple of football cards to show up in a post in the future.

I made a few football customs last year but only printed out a couple and I don't think I ever sent out any TTM like I had planned. I have very few non-Cubs items left in my collection but I think a new binder is about to be started...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mick Kelleher

More than a year ago, I had a little help getting a couple of Topps cards signed by Mick Kelleher. He played for the Cubs from 1976-1980 but is currently the first base coach for the New York Yankees. I had sent an ATCRCS card with the Topps cards but it wasn't able to be signed. I wasn't sure if it was an unlicensed card or if maybe three was too many.

I guess I have my answer because this time around, it came back signed. Like last time, I really like that he signed it with the #20, his number with the Cubs. He didn't wear that number during his stints with other teams as a player and currently wears #50 with the Yankees. Always a nice touch.

I have recently crossed the 100 mark on my ATCRCS collection although this is only #76 that I've shown off. I will be making a serious TTM push in October to meet my resolution from the beginning of the year to hit 200. I believe I have enough of the cards made in Photoshop, I just have to actually print them out, assemble them, write the letters and get them in the mail. That's all, huh?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Where Are They Now? 2010 Pro Debut Part 5

This is part five (of eight planned) of this running series where I take a look back at the future Cubs represented in the 2010 Pro Debut. You can view previous posts here:

Part One - Ryan Flaherty and Brett Jackson 

Part Two - DJ LeMahieu and Brooks Raley

Part Three - Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee

Part Four - Rebel Ridling and Trey McNutt

Looking back at who I've shown off so far and ahead to those yet to come, I'd have to say that Welington Castillo has been the most successful so far. It helps that he's been with the Cubs organization since 2006 and on the card he is shown on the Iowa Cubs, the Cubs Triple-A affiliate. That kind of gave him a head-start over some of the other guys featured.

In fact, shortly after this card was released, Castillo made his MLB debut. A third catcher behind Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill, Castillo played in 7 games in 2010 and 4 in 2011. But with the release of Hill after 2011 and the trade of Soto to the Rangers in 2012, Castillo saw his playing time increase and has been the starting catcher for most of the past season and a half.

This season, his .271 batting average and .350 on base percentage (unfortunately) leads the team.

Also shown with the Iowa Cubs is pitcher Jay Jackson. Even though he'd been with the Cubs organization since 2008 and with the Iowa Cubs from 2009-2012, he never got the call to the bigs. He performed well in the low levels but struggle in Triple-A. A Top 100 prospect just a few years ago, the Cubs released him prior to Opening Day this year.

The Miami Marlins signed him shortly after and he's spent time with both their Double-A (Jacksonville Suns) and Triple-A (New Orleans Zephyrs) affiliates. 

Both of these cards were signed with a little help from an SCN member with access to the Iowa Cubs a couple of years ago.