Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CC and Prince Headed to Plus-Size Baseball Hall of Fame?

The Milwaukee Brewers have two players on the ballot for entering baseball's plus-size Hall of Fame.

A few more fried Twinkies, cans of mayonnaise, and some post-season success should guarantee them double-wide places on the reinforced hallowed floors of the HOF.

The Babe is the king of this club. Not many players have had as much baseball success while busting buttons on 5X Size Jerseys more than these "athletes":

- John Kruk

- Cecil Fielder

- Mo Vaugh

- Rick Reuschel

- Sid Fernandez

- Bartolo Colon

- Boog Powell

- Kirby Puckett

Good luck to CC and Prince this post-season. They'll do fine if they just keep their eye on the ball and little debbie snack cake in their back pocket.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Willie Mays "The Catch" 54 Years Later

Fifty four years ago today (Sept. 29, 1954), Wille Mays made the greatest catch in World Series History and maybe baseball history.

In the 8th inning of Game 1 in the 1954 World Series, Willie Mays made the unbelievable over-the-shoulder catch to rob Cleveland's Vic Wertz of an extra base hit and potential game winning RBIs. The Giants later won the game in the 10th inning and went on to sweep the Cleveland Indians to win the '54 World Series.

Willie Mays was part of Shea Stadium's closing ceremonies on Sunday was at an MAB autograph show over the weekend. This would be a great photo to have Mays' signature!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Umpire Dale Ford TTM Success

This spring I picked up my greatest through-the-mail success: Umpire Dale Ford. Dale was the umpire behind the plate during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Currently, Dale Ford is out of baseball and is a member of the Tennessee State Legislature. I contacted his assistant who gave my information to Dale. A few days later I had a voice mail from Dale Ford! We talked on the phone for a few minutes and he told me how great it was to umpire and to be a small part in that historic play. It was really a great experience talking to him.

Dale Ford has a long history in baseball including historic clashes against Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, and Earl Weaver.

This project I'm working on is a 16"x20" photo of the Mookie Wilson ground ball through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. So far I have Dale Ford, Bob Stanley and Bill Robinson's autograph on it (not seen on this image). I saw Stanley and Robinson at an MAB show last year. Bob Stanley was very cool about signing it and just laughed when he saw the picture. I was lucky to get Bill Robinson's autograph, sadly he passed away a few months later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

$869 for the Shea Seats that Watched the Mets Collapse (Again)

The NY Mets are selling the last of their Shea Stadium seats. For $869 you can buy two seats (in red and green, orange and blue are sold out).

Perhaps Omar and his fat new 4 year contract can also throw in a tryout for the bullpen if you buy the seats. Just think of the history those seats have seen . . . in the last two years! They've been the best seats for watching some of the best choke jobs in the history of the game. Unbelievable - and I'm a Mets fan!

Why $869? The price is a combination of the World Series years for the Mets (1986 and 1969). After this season's September failure, maybe they price them for the last two years the Mets fell apart $07.08 (2007 and 2008).

The Mets web site adds: The Mets will donate their portion of the net proceeds to the Mets Foundation. The Mets Foundation funds and promotes a variety of charitable causes, including educational, social and athletic programs for young people in the community.

If the Mets can get that money for a stadium with 2 championships, what will the Yankee Stadium seats go for?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fred Merkle Day

Is it irony or destiny that 100 years after the Fred Merkle play the Chicago Cub are in New York playing against the team that used to call the Polo Grounds home?

Last month I blogged about the upcoming 100 year anniversary of the Fred Merkle play. I reached out to someone who said she's the granddaughter of Fred Merkle, but I didn't get a response.

If you're watching the game tonight, keep an eye on Louis Castillo (2B of the Mets) to see if he makes bone-head play too.

If you're in Chicago, watch the game at Merkle's Bar & Grill.

Or is this the night Mets fans get to see their first no-hitter with Johan Santana pitching?

Shea Baseball Autograph Project

I'm starting another a mini autograph project later this month. I bought a few of the "Final Season at Shea Stadium" baseballs.

My goal is to get autographs of the players who had the last of some Shea Stadium accomplishments:

  • - Win
  • - Save
  • - Hit
  • - RBI
  • - HR

I'd like to get them all on one of the Shea baseballs. That way, the baseball would tell a story of the last game at Shea. Of course, the Mets have to win to for this project to be relevant, but they only have to play a weak Florida Marlins team. I'm pretty sure the McDonald's near my work has a higher payroll than the Marlins.

My other final season at Shea baseballs will probably go to Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson, and Tom Seaver for autographs.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why are the Yankees Leaving Yankee Stadium?

How do you answer that question?

Do they need more seats for more fans to watch the games?
No, the new stadium actually has fewer seats for the fans.

Do they need a new stadium because the old one is falling apart?
Not really. It seems to always hold capacity crowds to huge events that range from World Series games to visits from the Pope.

Is the stadium one of those old cookie-cutter ugly stadiums?
No, it's not like Veteran's, Riverfront, or Three Rivers Stadiums. It's a one of a kind design.

Clouded by all of the YES Network's, I mean ESPN's coverage is the real reason the Yankees are tearing this one down and moving to a new baseball park. MONEY. MONEY. MONEY.

Everyone on TV talked about how great Yankee Stadium is, the history it holds, but few mentioned the reason they are moving... MONEY. The team with the most expensive payroll, the most luxury tax violations, and the most revenue is tearing down a piece of American History so they can make even more money.

So before we get all nostalgic, teary eyed, and stroll through memory lane, we should recognize the reason the Yankees are moving across the street - so the richest team in professional sports can become even richer.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with wanting more money, all I'm saying is that we shouldn't forget the reason the Yankees are leaving Yankee Stadium.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yankee Stadium - This Week's Sports Illustrated Cover

Sports Illustrated has a cool cover and story on the closing of Yankee Stadium. I'm not a Yankees fan, but the last game at the stadium is the closing of a baseball history chapter.

You can still get seats on StubHub if you want to be a part of the last game. The cheapest seats I found were bleacher seats in the no alcohol section for $151 a piece. The most expensive seats were in the Field Championship level for $5,400 a piece.

For a price, you can be a part of baseball history. Or for the same amount of money you could run payroll for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins!
Earlier this week the Awful Announcing Blog provided information about ESPN's all day coverage of the last game at Yankee Stadium.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Yankee Stadium Souvenir

Dirt! Yes, dirt. I haven't been to Yankee Stadium too often, but in 2002 I took one of the stadium tours.

The tour took the group in the dugout and on the warning track on the field. I was able to sit in Joe Torre's dugout seat, run into the outfield wall, and stroll through monument park. It wasn't a baseball experience... it was a history lesson.

During my walk around the outfield I scooped up some warning track dirt in right field, center field, and left field. I used a film container (yes, I was late to enter the digital camera age) to hold the dirt.

Once I got home, I poured the dirt into this jar (see picture). I know, it may not be as cool as a stadium seat or a foul pole (see Shea Stadium entry), but it's my piece of Yankee Stadium and my piece of history.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Yankee Stadium Game on Sunday

All eyes are focused on Yankee Stadium for the last game at the House that Ruth built. The last game is Sunday, 9/21 - aired on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

A quick check on Stub Hub Tuesday morning had the cheapest tickets in the bleachers selling for $140 a piece. The most expensive tickets on the site were the Main Reserved MVP seats that are selling for $65,000 a seat!

Monday, September 15, 2008

First to 6 Wins? Detroit Lions or Michigan Wolverines

You can't feel good about the world if you are a football fan living in Michigan today. Maybe CMU or Western Michigan will have good years in the MAC?

So which team will be the first to get 6 wins this season? (I assuming one will get there by Feb. 2009.)

  • University of Michigan
  • The Detroit Lions

Shea Stadium Last Season Items

I received an Excel spreadsheet of items that will be highlighted on the Shea Stadium /MeiGray group tour. MeiGray sent me the list after I asked for more information.

The amazing part is what's NOT on the list - I can't find anything (except for bathroom items and who wants that anyway).

This includes the giant S-H-E-A Stadium letters on the outside of the stadium, banners, and other signs. Lockers are selling for $1,500 to $41,000 a piece. The prices range between who is using them now and who used them in the past.

The right field and left field foul poles can yours for $25,000 a piece. Be sure to check to your home owner's association before planting them in the backyard!

The Mets dugout (sans players & coaches) can be bought for $100,000!

Prices do NOT include shipping. So you'll need to find a way to move the dugout and foul poles to your house.

Send me an email or post a comment if you'd like me to send you the list.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Shea Stadium is Warming Up the Wrecking Ball

For a price, Mets fans get a private tour of Shea Stadium to begin calling "Dibbs" on pieces of the old park. Thanks to Amazin' Stories for posting this on their blog.

This Dibbs process is just like the scenario that plays out when a coworker is leaving the company. After the initial shock, people slowly start to look at that person's desk for things they'd like to take. Soon, post-it notes start popping up on staplers, tape dispensers, calendars, and other useless work items!

If you join the MeiGray Group Premier Club for a $2,500 minimum purchase deposit, you can have a private tour of Shea next week to view thousands of items that will be for sale (lockers, signs, etc.). Of course, you have to be at Shea Stadium next week to be a part of the dibbs process.

I called MeiGray Group today and their customer service was great. After the Premier Club tour, the remainder of the Shea Stadium items will be go to a public sale on Mets.com or the MeiGroup web site.

I guess this MeiGray Group deal would explain why Steiner never returned my call. MeiGray is going to send me a catalog of items that do not sell when the tour is over. If you're interested, call 888-463-4472.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ryan Braun Autograph Session

Chris at the Gavel Chat went to a Ryan Braun autograph session recently has a great video about it. I really enjoy going to autograph shows, meeting the players, and seeing the collections that other people are working on. It's a great place to get ideas and meet people.

Is Ryan Braun worth $99 for the autograph?
It's a tough question to answer, unless you are a huge Ryan Braun fan. He is a Rookie of the Year winner, plays on a winning team with a good, young future, and is headed for his first trip to the playoffs. However, he has less than 100 career home runs, is playing his 2nd position in less than 2 years of MLB service, and is a crash into the wall away from missing significant time on the field.

I typically don't get current player autographs. I think they are priced to high and you're exposing your collecting budget to a lot of risk... especially players who haven't solidified their legacy. For example, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson are current players, but a legendary resume. I like getting my favorite players once they've retired or entered the Hall of Fame. I'm going to an MAB show this fall where Gary Carter is signing baseballs for $55.

I know the market place drives the autograph fees, but do you think Ryan Braun's autograph is worth $99 on a baseball?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Minor League Ball Parks Leave Their Mark Too

Our stadium focus is primarily centered on professional stadiums closing, but there are plenty of minor league parks in the last 10 years that have also closed for good. While most of the public seem to act like barracuda going after the next shiny object that catches their eyes, I think we lose a little bit of our baseball soul when we close some minor league stadiums.

Last week the Columbus Clippers played their last game in Cooper Stadium. Next year they will be moving a shiny new downtown ball park with a spectacular corporate sponsor name (Huntington Park)!

I went to the Sunday afternoon (9/7) game which was the stadium's second to last game.
To me, there isn't necessarily anything wrong with their current home. No, it's not fancy, downtown, or loaded with new baseball marketing events. It's a normal field, 5 minutes from downtown, with decent seats for a good price. But that isn't good enough anymore I suppose.

I emailed the Columbus Clippers - they said the old Cooper Stadium was in the process of being sold to a developer who is looking to change the stadium to a short race track site. The Clippers official then referred me to the local paper for more information. (Feel free to insert your own joke here about a team official referring me to a media outlet for information on the team.)

Jim Massie of the Columbus Dispatch wrote a great column about the closing of Cooper Stadium. This is a must read for baseball fan.

Holding my breath for Triumph Sports

This is the greeting you receiveing when logging in to Triumph Sports.

Based on the March '09 dates, it seems they will only be doing an Edison, NJ show this year. Last year I went to the Dallas show and got a ton of autographs.

Their web site said to check Sept. 1 for guests and pricing. Hopefully I'll get an email with some good news about guests later this week.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gene Upshaw Patch - Is this the best the NFL can do?

Haven't we seen the "GU63" patch before? Oh yes, the Washington Redskins did basically the same thing last year when Sean Taylor was killed.

I think the NFL is creating a bad pattern here. When a player, former player, or official in the league or NFLPA passes, the NFL reaches for their Krylon Spray Paint and Avery Label Maker. Is this the best the NFL can do?

Thanks to the Real Sports Bloggers for bringing up the subject.

If the NFL wants to do something significant to mark the accomplishments of Gene Upshaw's life, then they should do more than run to Home Depot for spray paint and a stop at a scrap booking store for stickers.

I think it would have been better to set up a Gene Upshaw fund to help the research of pancreatic cancer and set up some kind of "for every TD scored the NFL donates $." Or at least do something with Upshaw's associated charity, Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland. This way, the NFL could use its muscle to actually make a difference, instead of making a new jersey patch.
Maybe they are doing more, but after searching the web, I couldn't find anything.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Collecting Stadium Memorabilia

Sports Collectors Digest has an interesting article for collector's waiting to collect a piece of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.

The Yankees and Mets are in negotiations with the city to sell as much of the stadiums as possible before hitting them with the wrecking ball.

I would think Steiner Sports will have some involvement. Steiner sells everything Mets and Yankees on their site from used jerseys to locker room chairs. I sent an email to Steiner Sports today and asked if they would be involved in this effort. I'll post a response as soon as I hear.

I talked to Steiner Sports representatives at an MAB show last year. At the time, they told me they hoped they would be involved and they were also in negotiations with the city and the teams. Rumors on the message boards last year said that NY Mets season ticket holders were offered their season ticket seats for $800 a piece!

I have a jar of Yankee Stadium outfield dirt that I'll blog about later this month. I picked it up during a tour of the stadium in April, 2002.

Steiner also has a deal with the Dallas Cowboys, but so far, Dallas has been selling the seats to Texas Stadium through the team.

If you want real memorabilia from Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, or other stadiums that get demolished, don't purchase the "last season" marketing branded t-shits, coins, and plaques. That's not memorabilia or a collectible, it's probably not worth the material its made out of. However, I think it would look great if you get some the last season branded baseballs signed by Mets or Yankees legends.

There's a great article about the new Yankee Stadium in the current SportingNews magazine. It's still on book store shelves if you want to read more about the revenue and how new stadiums have changed the way baseball teams make money.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

NY Islanders Blog Box

Congratulations to the NY Islanders for embracing a new(er) medium!

The NY Islanders are welcoming some of the blogs that follow the team them by issuing press credentials to some of their home games. I first read about this story on the WebInkNow site.

Some NY Islander bloggers will receive treatment like anyone else from the press. They'll receive:

  • Game notes
  • Access to team practices
  • Player and coach interviews

This is a great move for the NY Islanders. It proves they want to push their brand to all of the fans, have confidence in their product, and realize that web 2.0 brings them closer to their customer base.

And when I say "confidence" I don't mean they think they'll win every game. I mean they are confident in how they are performing their job, that they are committed to creating a quality organization and are committed to growing their fan base (their customers).

The NY Islanders Blog Box is entering its second season. The team page links to blogs that discuss the team. Last year, they invited and provided press access for the NHL Draft in Ottawa for some of the bloggers in their blog box.

Its easy for all us to say, "why doesn't my team do this?" We should also ask the question, "why doesn't my employer do this?"

In the sports card and memorabilia world, maybe we should ask for this kind of access from the card companies, grading companies, and memorabilia companies?

The NY Islanders Blog Box is a case study for sports organizations and the corporate world.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Koyie Hill Returns to Cubs After Battle With Saw

Baseball's September call-ups can bring stories normally reserved for the for small paragraphs in the sports section to the front page of the paper. Koyie Hill's return to the majors is inspiring front page news.

Ten months ago Hill nearly lost three fingers and his right thumb in a fight with a table saw! I joke, but the accident could have done more than ruin his baseball career. It could have altered his way of life if not for the miraculous work of his doctors.

Doctor's were able to reattach all four fingers after they were taken off by the table saw.

Hill had a cup of coffee with the team last September and after a long road of recovery, he's back with the team this year too.

Hill's an inspiration to anyone that deals or has dealt with adversity in life.