Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Favorite Players A-Z

 I decided to take on The Diamond King's challenge to do an A-Z list of my favorite players. I already have my favorite players alphabetized in a few binders, so it was pretty easy finding cards, although a few letters were missing.

A- Brady Anderson

Since high school, I grew my sideburns long like Brady's. That was about the time when he hit 50 Homers, and although people say he did steroids, I liked his sideburns and that '97 season where he joined the 50 HR club.  Of course, I had to include his rookie, as well as a 1992 Topps card I got signed at a show, a 1994 Finest Refractor and 1998 Topps Chrome Flashback Refractor that I found in 50 cent boxes at my LCS in Lakeland about 15 years ago, and a jersey card.

B-Rafael Bournigal

I don't know how many times I've written about it, but I'm sure on at least 10 posts in this blog's history I have mentioned that Rafael Bourigal drove me home from the YMCA in his car, waited while I got some cards and a pen, signed the cards for me, and took a picture. Years later, he would come through my register when I was a cashier at a grocery store. An all-around great guy, and a great fielding shortstop who always had stars in front of him (Tony Batista, Miguel Tejada, A-Rod to name a few).
The first 2 cards are the ones he signed at my front door, the next 4 are just some snazzy parallels I got signed in the mail a few years back.

C-Phil Clark

I picked Phil because he had the most personal story with me. In the 4th grade, my friend Nathan was on a little league team, and I wasn't. Both of us were into baseball and cards, and I saw him a few times a week, since we went to the same church and both lived about a block away from each other. One night, Nathan and his family were over, and his dad mentioned that Phil Clark's kid played on Nathan's little league team or something like that. I had 2 cards of Phil at the time ('93 Topps Gold and '94 Score), and I gave them to Nathan to get signed. He got them signed, and I let him have the '94 Score card and kept the '93 Topps Gold. Nathan later traded me a '92 Kellogs Jim Palmer to even us out. Phil never caught on with the Tigers, hit decent for the Padres but never got playing time, played a little for the Red Sox, and then did pretty decent in Japan. He is now a coach for Detroit, and I can't wait for Spring Training in 2022 so I can try to meet him. His cards are the '93 Topps Gold, and an UD Ovation Japan card. 

D-Dave Dravecky

This was a tough choice between him and deGrom, but I've followed Dave since 93 or so when my parents got me his first book. I had the chance to meet Dave when he spoke at my mom's church, and he is the only ballplayer I knew who kind of referenced that Topps is king. I was in line to get his autograph, and had his '83 Fleer card. Another guy ahead of me had his '83 Topps card, and when Dave signed it he said "Oh, the rookie!". He didn't mention anything when he signed the '83 Fleer. Even baseball players know that Topps is king. Now I have both rookies, as well as his sunset card.

E-Scott Elarton

I remember in '00 it seemed like Scott would never lose, and I imagined him being an ace in the Astros rotation for years to come. It didn't pan out, but I always enjoyed getting some of Scott's cards. 
When I started doing autographs through the mail in 2004, I sent like 10 out at first, a few to Hall of Famers, retired guys, and I ended up sending a letter to Scott, who was with the Indians. His was the first one I got back, and I will always remember that. The 2 cards ('01 Topps Opening Day and '01 Upper Deck Victory) are the ones I sent and got back from him. 

F-Cecil Fielder

How can you not vote for the loveable big guy who hit 51 Homers in 1990? I could've went with Super Sam Fuld, but I've just rooted for Cecil for so long, and remember how devastated I was when the Tigers traded him to the Yankee$. I was lucky enough to meet him at a Pro Free Agent Showcase that Rob Ducey organized in 2010, and Cecil was awesome. He was talking with someone, so I was patiently waiting with some cards, and he stopped talking, signed for me, and shook my hand. If I had a smart phone back then, I would've totally had a picture taken with him. Of course, I had to show Cecil's rookie, a card he signed for me at the showcase, and a bat card.

G-Todd Greene

I always thought Todd was going to jack 40 HRs in the Majors. Alas, he just never had a good chance, but played from 1995-2007, and got a few years coaching as well. He has always been a great signer ttm, and I have got a ton of shiny cards of him for the collection that just happened to be signed by him as well. 1996 Bowman's Best Preview Atomic Refractor, 1996 Bowman's Best Refractor, 1996 Topps Chrome Refractor, 1996 Topps Gallery Players Private Issue, 1997 Pinnacle Totally Certified Mirror Blue, and 1997 Score Select Company. If you think that's a ton of shiny, I have about that many non-signed refractor/shiny cards as well in his spot in my favorite player notebook. 

H-Orel Hershiser

I got Orel's Out of the Blue book in 3rd Grade in 1993. He became probably my favorite player ever. I remember in 2004, I was working at a grocery store and my friend wanted to go see the Rangers play the Rays in Tampa. I was game since Hershiser was their pitching coach, and I longed to get his autograph. I ended up being placed on the schedule at work for the game day, but was able to trade my shift to another employee. Something happened, and I guess because she was a minor and her working my shift would end up giving her too many days in a row that she couldn't do it, but never got in contact with me. Me and my friend were about to go to the game, and we stopped at work to pick up some snacks, and one of my managers spotted me, and told me I needed to come in to work at 5 because the girl I had traded with couldn't work my shift. I looked at him, looked at my friend, and told my manager "See you tomorrow". One of the best decisions I have made. When we got to the game, I made it to the front rows by the Rangers bullpen to try to meet Orel. Orel never really came close, so I never got him, but A-Rod did, and I got his autograph, I think only because I had a 1998 Topps Super Chrome card, and it was pretty big, and I think it caught his eye. I went back to my seats, and showed my friend the autographs I got. He was freaking out because of the A-Rod, but I was pretty pissed, because I would've rather got Hershiser. I did finally get Hershiser a few years later, when I sent an '05 Topps Clubhouse Collection jersey card to ESPN where he worked, and got it back signed. What made it even better was that I got the card back on my birthday. His rookie card, along with the one he signed are my 2 favorites of Orel. 

I-Brandon Inge

Brandon was the ultimate weapon for the Tigers in the '00's. He could play multiple positions (SS, 3B, C, 1B, OF), he could hit for power, and he got robbed of winning a few Gold Gloves. He was always fan-friendly and would always sign during Spring Traning. I came so close to at least completing the Tigers side of this card, just missing on Ivan Rodriguez. Had I had the card a year earlier, I would've got it, but I only went to 1 game in the spring of '09, and he was traded that year. As for the back of the card, it had Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Mark Mulder, and Chris Duncan, so this card is probably as complete as it will get for now. It still looks good to me with Magglio Ordonez, Joel Zumaya, and Brandon signing it.

J-Jason Johnson

Jason is a Type 1 Diabetic like me, and made history by being the first professional athlete to be able to wear an insulin pump while playing. I met Jason a few times when he was with Detroit, and he was always nice. I never had cards of him back then, but was able to get some signed ttm a year or so ago. 
The first card shows his pump (a rectangle hanging from his belt on the right side of the card) and the other one talks of his diabetes on the back. 

K-Brody Koerner

I'm sure none of you have heard of Brody. I wouldn't have either, but I am distantly related to him. His Uncle John is married to my wife's Aunt Charla. We will actually be seeing John and Charla in about a month. Brody got drafted by the Yankee$ in 2015, and was lights out as a closer in A ball. He moved to AA, and injuries and inconsistencies had troubled him a little, but he made it to AAA in 2018 at the end of the year, spent 2019 between AA and AAA, you know what happened in 2020, and has been in AAA with Scranton this season, going 1-1 with an ERA around 2.50 as a starter. I'm really hoping the Yankee$ call him up this year, because I don't know if he plans on retiring after this year or not. If he gets to the Majors, he might actually get on some more cardboard. He is on a few minor league issues, and is in the 2016 Elite Extra Edition set. I am 1 card away from completing his rainbow of the un-autographed card in the EEE set (just missing the Aspirations Gold 1/1 card). When he was pitching in Tampa, he drove up to Orlando and met John and Charla, their 2 daughters, Karen's mom, Karen, and myself (and Kyler in Karen's tummy) at a Dave & Busters, and I got to talk with him a little bit, and play a few games with him. He just seemed so knowledgeable about pitching, even though he was just in A ball at the time. He was talking about charting low-A games and wondering why a pitcher would throw a pitch in a certain count and how he wasn't surprised when the pitch got jacked. I got a picture with him and got him to sign a card before he left. I haven't seen him pitch live yet, but perhaps I will just have to settle seeing him on TV with the Yankees in August or September. 
Those are some of the lower-numbered parallels of his EEE card (including a 1/1 at the top right), an autographed card #d to 5, and the minor league issue I got signed in the Dave & Buster's parking lot.

L-Terry Leach

Terry went to Auburn, and there weren't too many L guys to choose from. I went with Terry, since I sent him some cards to sign and mentioned I was an Auburn fan in my letter. He sent a picture back with the cards that he inscribed "War Damn Eagle". 

M-Quinton McCracken

One of the guys the Rays picked in the '97 Expansion Draft, Quinton had a nice '99 season, was injured in '00, and never really got a chance to start after that. He has since coached, and been in some front office roles. He is very intelligent (graduated in 4 years with a double major at Duke while playing football and baseball), and I could see him becoming a GM in the next 10 years. Quinton has signed a few cards for me ttm, including the '93 Topps (also signed by Brent Gates), a '98 Topps Chrome, and a '99 UD Choice Preview card. I purchased the '96 Bowman autograph from eBay, and the other 2 are some shiny cards, a 1998 Topps Gallery Player's Private Issue, and some kind of parallel from '99 Pacific Prism.

N-Pat Neshek

Pat has always been a class act with the fans, signing ttm, at the ballpark, and just being a great approachable guy. He is part of the reason I can't stand Zack Grienke. Pat was trying to get a complete Topps set autographed (maybe the 2010 one?). Zack is a notoriously horrible signer. Pat approached him during the season at some point and asked Zack if he would sign his 2 cards. Zack surprisingly said sure. When they met at the All-Star game, Pat handed Zack the cards and asked him to sign them, and Zack flipped out on him, saying "I won't sign for an F-ing scrub like you! You never said anything about me signing a card" or something like that. Pat took to social media, and everyone got on his case saying that he shouldn't have asked Zack for an autograph and comparing him to a kid for collecting autographs. Whatever. Pat is a class act, and Grienke is a tool who needs to stay on his meds. During 2006, and 2008, I pulled 2 cards (a 2006 Topps Update playoff highlight card of Mark Kotsay, and a 2008 Upper Deck Documentary card) without Pat's picture, but with his name on them (as the losing pitcher). I sent them to him asking if he could sign them and jot something down about the game. He kindly did. For the '06 Topps he put '(Dennys) Reyes was pitching, liner to center & it went by Torii (Hunter), we lose'. For the '08 UD, he put 'Plain and simple, an awful game'. Those are 2 of my most unique cards. His 2006 Topps '52 card has his facsimile autograph on it, but for anyone who knows Pat, he incorporated baseball stitches into the 'P' in his signature, and on the '52 card, Topps airbrushed it out, so Pat draws the seams on the facsimile autograph.

O-David Ortiz

Big Papi has been a guy I’ve liked ever since he was with a Minnesota. I caught a ball that he hit on a hop over the wall during batting practice one time at the Trop while was a Twin, and then another time when they were there he signed his 1998 Topps card for me. And then he went to Boston and helped the Sox come back from 3 games to 0 in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankee$. I have a number of cool cards of his in my collection, including a 1997 Fleer, 1997 Fleer Ultra, 1998 Bowman’s Best, 1998 Score Rookie/Traded, the 1998 Topps autographed card, his 1998 Topps Chrome rookie, and 3 different relic cards, the National Chicle one numbered to 150 and pulled from a pack. 

P-Steve Pearce

Steve was a classmate of mine in my Chemistry class at Lakeland Senior High School in Lakeland, Florida. It would’ve been 1999, and I knew he played baseball, but having been homeschooled for 5 years prior, I didn’t know how good he was, and I really thought he was more interested in going out on his family’s boat. 
In 2008 I pulled some of his cards and saw he was from Lakeland, but I was a little confused at first because in high school he always went by Stephen, so I didn’t recognize him as being a classmate until looking him up on Wikipedia and realizing that we went to LHS the same years and remembering that he went by Stephen. 
In 2009, I sent those 2 rookie cards to him in Spring Training, and he signed them and sent them back. As soon as he had a jersey card, I purchased it, and I rooted for him like crazy in the ‘18 World Series, ordering the highlight cards as soon as I could. I should’ve talked to him more during class. 

R-Wade Rowdon

Wade actually lives in the same city as me, DeLand, FL. I have never really went to dinner with someone who played in MLB (unless Brody Koerner gets called up), but Wade holds a few distinctions for me. 
He spoke at a men’s retreat at our church about 4 years ago, and before he spoke everyone ate breakfast. I didn’t sit at his table, but technically I’ve had breakfast with him. Between breakfast and when he spoke, the worship band (which I play piano/keyboard for) did 2 songs, so Wade has actually heard me on the piano. He was nice enough to sign some cards for me after the retreat, including custom rookie and sunset cards that I made. He thought they were really cool and asked about if I could make more and got my phone number (he never called), and also signed his real 1987 Topps card. He eluded to the fact that the only reason he got on the card was that he played in enough games. I wish I would’ve asked him if he knew the number it was. 

S-Mike Simms

Mike was just a simple ttm autograph request. He hit like 39 HRs one season in the minors and I thought it would be cool to get his autograph. He should’ve got more chances in the Majors. He had decent power. I sent the cards and he signed them and sent a cool note back thanking me. I later drew a picture of his ‘92 Topps card in colored pencil and sent it to him and he again wrote back asking if I ever needed anything to let him know. The first 2 cards are the ones he signed and the last is a parallel of one of his few cards. 

T-Bubba Trammell

Not only was Bubba a member of the Rays first team in 1998, but he was a Detroit Tiger, a fierce power hitter,, and was born on the same day as my son (Nov. 6). I always liked Bubba. He could’ve hit 30 bombs a year, but just never got the chance to until late in his career, and by then he was just a shell of his former self. I was able to get his autograph ones when he was with the Rays on a ‘97 Collectors Choice card (which I forgot to include with these). Later I purchased an autographed card and got him to sign his ‘98 Topps and ‘98 Collectors Choice card (in my sons album) ttm. The jersey card is from 1999 Upper Deck, and it includes a jersey from what would have to be the 1998 season, which means I have part of a jersey worn by an inaugural Devil Ray. 

V-Pat Venditte

I saw Pat pitch in a game. I heard of a switch pitcher but never thought more about it. I was at a Lakeland Flying Tigers game on August 7, 2009, and it started out as a normal game. The Yankees brought in a reliever and he pitched from the right side and finished the inning. The next inning a lefty was in, but I noticed that there wasn’t a pitching change. I looked up the guys name on the roster, and sure enough, it was the same guy, and he pitched with both hands. After the game, he signed my ticket and he was letting guys in the stands hold his unique glove. I think I have a picture of him pitching on one of my old phones. Either in the same year or the next, I went to a Tampa Yankees game and was able to purchase the team set and got Pat to sign his card before the game. He was a super nice guy and I was stoked to see him pitch for Miami last year. That’s the minor league card he signed and the ticket he signed. 

W-Bob Wolcott

Most of you (except for Mariners fans) have probably never heard of Bob Wolcott. He pitched well for them in ‘95 as a rookie and was big for them in the playoffs. I had a few cards of him that I pulled in ‘96 packs, but the thing that kind of got me collecting him, strangely enough, was a little simulation baseball game I created. Bob was a pitcher in it, and it was only a 13 game season, but he won all 3 of his starts for the Mariners. I figured he was going to be a stud with the way he pitched in real life in 1995 and with how he did with my sim game, but he was out of baseball by 2001. I have some fun cards of him, a 1996 Finest Refractor, a 1996 Leaf Signature Series certified autograph, a 1996 Topps Laser Bright Spots card, a 1997 Topps card that I’m pretty sure is a legit autograph which I got from eBay, and a 1997 Upper Deck Pepsi Mariners team set card (in the 1996 UD design, strangely enough). 

Y-Ryan Yarbrough

Ryan is a guy who was born in Lakeland, Florida, which was where I lived from 1990-2006, and again from 2009-2012. I hope Ryan can be another young arm for the Rays who turns into a stud. The Bowman rookie refractor (I can never tell Bowman designs from the last 10 years apart, so I hardly try anymore) was a card from my latest COMC purchase, and the Big League autograph was kindly sent to my by Dime Box Nick. 

Z-Ben Zobrist

Ben has just always been a nice guy with the fans. Every game he would sign autographs for every fan who wanted one after the game, even while his own kids were wanting to get home. I’ve got his autograph on numerous cards up through 2011. Many cards that I got signed were parallels. The 2006 was probably one of the last ones he signed for me. Not only do I have the 2011 Diamond Sparkle card signed, but I have the base, gold, Opening Day, and a number of the 2010 set/parallels as well. The last card is a bat card from one of those high end Topps sets that I will never open a pack of unless I win the lottery. 

Well, those are my favorite players from A-Z. Some random obscure guys, but I hope my explanations make sense as to why I like them over other guys in the sport.

My wife happened to go to Big Lots the other day, and was able to stumble upon an end cap that had baseball cards and picked me up some Topps Heritage fat packs (that was all they had).  She went to the one near my work, and the next day we decided to go to the one near our house, and sure enough, they had more. They were only 6 bucks, which I think is right there at market value. I don’t know if Heritage is your thing or if your local Big Lots will have any, but I figured I’d throw that out there (if you are a flipper brah, you can go ;$:@/ yourself). I’ll probably post what I got from the packs next time (save for the rookies and a few Tigers and Rays and playoff highlight cards). I got some cards which I thought might be dupes so I had to look through my Rays/Tigers stack and my rookies/highlight binders and I just ended up putting those cards in spots. Just one spoiler, I pulled 4 SPs out of like 12 packs (don’t worry, there were like 30 packs and we left some), one of Zach Godly, one of some Rangers rookies, and then the 2 Detroit Tigers SPs I needed for the set (I somehow pulled the other one in Michigan). So now I have the Tyler Alexander, Joe Jimenez, and JaCoby Jones SPs and just need like 6 base cards to finish the Tigers set. I’ve never tried to finish a Heritage set, but I’m so close now that I might as well. I think I’m a Randy Arozarena postseason highlight card away from finishing the Rays postseason highlight sunset. Makes me want to go back to Big Lots, except for the horrible collation that Topps is famous for. 
Thanks for checking out my latest post, and thanks Kevin for coming up with the idea. 


  1. Very cool list. I am impressed with how many personal experiences you have had with these guys!! You are the first person to do this challenge that didn't agree with any of my picks. That's a good thing!

  2. You have way more personal connections with ballplayers than I do! Big Pat Neshek fan as well - he'd be in competition for the "N" slot on my list.

  3. A. Great list. Lots of names I haven't seen on any other lists.

    B. Figured I'd see Trammell eventually... just not Bubba.

    C. Big Lots has cards? Haven't shopped there in over a decade... but I might have to check it out.

  4. I think that you've produced the most unique list so far!

  5. Awesome Steve Pearce connection - his time in Boston was short, but he made it count!

  6. This shows: A) If you live in Florida, you get to see ballplayers like every day; B) A personal connection with a player will always be important then how good a player is when choosing a favorite.

    About the Neshek story, it's amazing how often Twitter commenters come up with the wrong take. It happens all the time.

    Also, I don't know what your store manager was thinking. He had some balls asking you to go back to work.

    1. Lol, some of those meetings were events that I already knew about, some were spring training/minor league/Rays games, and I think that some were just being in the right place at the right time.
      I’m not totally sure of the facts of the Neshek story, but after re-reading the post that Neshek made when it had happened, I think it was pretty close to what I recalled, where Neshek asked if he would sign the cards in the future at the All-Star game where they were teammates, when Arizona played Colorado, Grienke said that he wouldn’t sign and that Neshek had gotten him tons before. Apparently later it turned out that Zack confused Pat with someone else and Pat moved on. Seems like both were a little in the wrong as Pat kind of pushed his buttons after he refused.
      Yeah, my manager was a jerk. How dare him try to stop me from meeting Hershiser. Looking back now, I should’ve went to work and was probably immature for being 22, but on the other hand, I’ve never regretted going to a ballgame.