Sign Here Please

Anybody?  Bueller?

Anybody? Bueller?

Welcome to another Picture Day Wednesday post… and I’m going to warn you right away, if you have little to no interest in Major League Baseball, and in particular obscure players from circa 1998… then you might want to just go ahead and skip this post since you’ll likely find it confusing and/or boring…

As if I really need a disclaimer for that...

As if I really need a disclaimer for that…

I am not one to play hooky from school or work, and have never really done so before in picture daymy life.  Well…. kinda.  On this date 18 years ago, I concocted a lameass story to get out of the first two hours of work so I could attend a ballgame… a Monday night game I had gotten tickets for before I became employed at Mecca six weeks prior and was given the Wed/Thu nights off schedule I still enjoy today.  The game, an early interleague affair between the Detroit Tigers and the hometown Cardinals, was over long before midnight…. but you see, I had a postgame ritual back then of hanging out to get autographs on my scorecard.  I wasn’t about to give that up just to stock some damn dog food bags, and it turned out to be my most successful night with the Sharpie ever.  Here’s the back of my June 22, 1998 scorecard…

No, the players were not in kindergarten...

No, the players were not in kindergarten…

There are 25 signatures on that scorecard, most of whom belong to Tigers players who me and the rest of the autograph hounds caught walking back to the team hotel across the street.  I’ve identified, with some degree of certainty, who wrote 18 of the 25 squiggles…

kimera bartee

Kimera Bartee did not have the most illustrious of careers, but he was smart enough to sign the top left corner of my scorecard so he’d get to go first…

joe randa

Joe Randa had some pretty good offensive seasons that will always be forgotten about since this was the Steroids Era.  But he’s probably best known for the Chris Berman nickname Joe “Help Me” Randa…

buddy bell

Buddy Bell was the Tigers manager at the time of this game, though he’d be fired before the season was over.  He’d go on to manage two more lousy teams in Colorado and Kansas City, making him one of the most prolific managers of mediocrity in modern baseball.

ernie harwell

Legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell is the John Hancock of my scorecard.  A very prominent and easy to read signature… not bad for an 80 year old.

luis gonzalez

Before he became a pumped up superfreak in Arizona, Luis Gonzalez spent one season toiling for a crappy team in Detroit.  I am pretty sure he is the only player with a World Series ending walkoff hit to ever sign one of my scorecards…

denny harringer

Occasionally, a player would help the casual fan to identify who they were by including their uniform number as part of their autograph.  Such a man was pitcher Denny Harringer, who lasted all of four games in the Major Leagues.  I knew everything about baseball in 1998, and yet I had no recollection this player ever existed, let alone that he signed my scorecard, until I undertook this cryptography exercise this morning…

gabe alvarez

Gabe Alvarez was a semi-hyped third base prospect Detroit acquired from San Diego prior to the season, and he made his Major League debut on this night in question.  It would be the first of just 92 games he would play in his career, as he proved to not be the second coming of George Brett…

shawn gilbert

Shawn Gilbert was one of two Cardinals players who I encountered that night.. not that he had much of a Cardinals career, or any kind of a career for that matter.  In parts of three seasons, he collected a whopping 9 hits in 47 at bats.  Amazingly, I would see him play for the Dodgers two years later and witness the last of his two career homeruns.

sean runyan

Way to keep it short but sweet, Sean Runyan.  Lefty relievers are a weird lot…

brian moehler

Brian Moehler, ladies and gentlemen.  Shockingly, he was still active as recently as 2010… who knew?

trey beamon

The Tigers were the last of three teams to give Trey Beamon a chance to cash in on his prospect status in MLB, and of course, he failed.  Are you sensing a trend that this is a scorecard full of nobodies and never-wases?

justin thompson

Justin Thompson was actually a pretty good starting pitcher for Detroit in 1997 and 1998, only to peter out in ’99.  He’d take the next five seasons off before resurfacing with the Texas Rangers in 2005 and lasting all of two games…

deivi cruz

Deivi Cruz was one of the rare Rule 5 picks who actually became a pretty good regular player.  While he didn’t quite make Tigers fans forget Alan Trammell, he got regular shortstop duty for much of the late 90’s and early 00’s… though maybe it was just the cool spelling of “Davey” that got him a pass…

brian hunter

There were two Brian Hunters in the game of baseball in the 90’s… this one is Brian L. Hunter, who rather famously once went 0 for 13 in a doubleheader….

rick croushore

If you attend a smattering of games like I do, and if you happen to compile the stats of those games like I did (please don’t be like me), you will find there will undoubtedly be a lesser known player or two who will always play like a superstar when you are in attendance.  One of those players for me was Cardinals reliever Rich Croushore.  I saw him pitch 9 2/3 innings before giving up a hit, and over 18 innings of relief before finally allowing a run.  Too bad he didn’t buy me season tickets, he might still be playing…

tony clark

Hey, wait a minute!  Here’s somebody who was and still is somebody!  Tony Clark not only carved himself out a nice playing career, but he’s also now runs the MLB Players Union!

damion easley

It don’t come Easley, you know it don’t come Easley.  Damion Easley!  I caught a batting practice homer from him before this game, which was my first American League baseball I added to my BP collection, and one of only two I’d get before the leagues consolidated operations in 2000.

billy ripken

And finally, because I know he’s somewhere among the squiggles on that scorecard, we have what I think is Bill Ripken… who was in the final days of his playing career.  Billy was basically famous for being the brother of Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken, though at least Bill is still in the limelight as an analyst for MLB Network.  Oh, and Bill Ripken will also go down in history for having the greatest baseball card of all time…

No, there wasn't a player named Rick Face...

No, there wasn’t a player named Rick Face…

I’ll really try to do better next week…. thanks for bearing with me!

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About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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43 Responses to Sign Here Please

  1. T. Wayne says:

    As an Oriole fan, I have to like this post for the Bill Ripken mention alone… 🙂

    • I had a sister who was a big Cal Ripken fan for a while (and Bill by extension)… I think she got her picture taken with Bill once (My sisters coulda became baseball groupies if they wanted to). I patiently await next year’s schedule to see if Baltimore comes here for the first time since 2003… they’re the only AL team that has not had a chance to check out the new Busch Stadium.

      • T. Wayne says:

        That is a fact I didn’t know…seemingly they have been all over, or so I thought. I know they definitely went to Wrigley last season (and were promptly swept out of Chicago). Then there’s the whole Jake Arrieta thing…

      • Garry Armstrong says:

        Squirrel, this is WONDERFUL stuff, especially for a beisbol maven like me!!
        I’ll be re-reading, trying to cipher the autographs. It’s very, very impressive.
        It’s also a breath of fresh air during a putrid period right now in Red Sox Nation.
        Thanks so very much!!!

  2. Ally Bean says:

    18 squiggles identified is pretty good considering what you’re working with here. Probably more impressive is that you knew where you put this treasure, so that you could pull it out when needed. Good job, evil.

    • I have all of my old scorecards somewhere…. most of them are in a big box in the junk room. I would love to watch the episode of Hoarders I finally end up appearing on….

  3. ody & biskit…..we due knot troo lee noe a thing bout base ball but itz awesum
    yur dad getted all theez auto graffs !!! sa~wheat !! ♥♥

  4. HAHAHA on Bill Ripken’s “bat graffiti” ! Made my day……I’m not a big baseball fan but I do enjoy a good giggle.

    Pam

    • That card was a huge deal back when the baseball card market was first starting to heat up. The original is rare because the company (Fleer) did catch the profanity and censored it in future production runs. I’m not sure it is known whether Bill did that intentionally or he was set up by a prankster teammate…

  5. Holly says:

    Nice collection there! I like seeing if there’s any rhyme or reason to some of the patterns of letters compared to signatures and…nope…

    • For most of them I had to go by the player initials, and even some of them were pretty sketchy. I guess if I were trying to scribble my name on the back of a flimsy piece of cardboard at 11 PM under orange sodium lighting, my signature wouldn’t look very readable either…

  6. You freaking ROCK! Great story… I am a HUGE Cardinals fan. Lived near enough to St Louis to have season tix for 10 years. We were there the night they won the series in 2006 and hubby went to Series games in 2004 (we won’t talk about who won THAT one!) Live in Tx now, but I still follow my boys! Anyway! Very cool… 😀

    • I was more into baseball back then, and I seem to have a particular fondness for the very bad teams. That, of course, was the Year of McGwire… and maybe the reason I was able to catch so many Tigers (by the tail) was because everyone else was on the other side of the stadium hoping for a chance to get Big Mac’s autograph!

  7. Trisha says:

    I am quite impressed that you could decipher any of those squiggly lines! And that you had the courage to ask for autographs. I’ve never asked anyone for an autograph. I’m wondering: What sort of lameass story did you come up with to get out of work? It must be hard to think of excuses that would keep you busy until midnight!

    • To be fair, I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually asked someone for an autograph before… hell, I wouldn’t even recognize the President if he walked down my street. I followed the other hounds to the people they flocked around, and if you just hold up your marker and something to write on, they known what to do. I did always thank them afterwards so they didn’t think I was a mute!

      The excuse somehow involved a family visit to see my nephews in Kentucky for a birthday party (They did live in Ft. Campbell at the time, but their birthdays were in August and September), and that I’d be a few hours late getting back. I can’t believe how scared I was to just call the whole night off… nobody else seems to have that problem given the long list of people we’ve fired over the years due to the very liberal attendance policy we have!

  8. Green Embers says:

    I like stories like this, even though I don’t care about baseball, I love when people talk about their interests and the fun things they do. That’s really cool you got all those signatures and as Trisha said, that you could even decipher any of those squiggly lines! 🙂

    • Baseball, I learned, is one of the topics that I have much more passion about than my readers… and while I’ll still talk about it occasionally since it’s impossible for me not to, I do keep it in moderation and try to spice it up with other interesting tidbits to keep the audience happy. Since I consider my blog more “for entertainment purposes” than as a personal outlet, I gotta mind what the people want…

      • Green Embers says:

        Yup, totally understand. I agree that we should appeal to our readers, but feel free to let the passion through more if you’d like. I don’t mind. 🙂

        (Granted I might not understand anything, so I’ll probably not leave a comment but I will still read it! 🙂 )

  9. Garry has a baseball. I think it’s from the 1970s and it has everyone who was on the Red Sox for that year … I think even the groundskeeper signed. It’s his treasure, his precious. I don’t know how much these things are worth, but I suspect a lot more than we think. But more to us! Garry’s gonna love this post.

    • Unauthenticated autographs aren’t going to fetch much on the Antiques Roadshow, but their real value is to those who have them and who know themselves that they were really signed by their heroes. Not that I consider any of the people I mentioned above heroes, but they’re a part of my past as a huge baseball fan in the 90’s, and seeing all that chickenscratch still makes me smile today…

  10. Note: As far as doing better goes? As far as WE are concerned, this is as good as it gets!!

  11. 1jaded1 says:

    Ernie Harwell? NFW. So cool. The rest of the collection is too.

    • Yes! I scored a few announcer autographs over the years… I have Jack Buck’s somewhere. Milo Hamilton (Former Astros announcer, and famous for the Hank Aaron 715 call) used to pass out personalized trading cards with his signature on them rather than sign for the masses. While smart, I always thought that was a bit snobbish!

      • Garry Armstrong says:

        Squirrel, I’d LOVE to get Vin Scully’s autograph. It seems a mission impossible in this, his last hurrah. I’m pulling strings but everyone wants a piece of Scully right now.
        He’s my beisbol/sportscaster hero.
        I began listening to him back in ’50 when the Boys of Summer in Brooklyn were alive and very well.

  12. I know what sports cards are and I think Mr Ripken’s card would have induced many a gigglesnort! 😀

    • Especially among the boys who collected baseball cards at the time! Unfortunately, the card industry was eventually taken over by the greedy adults who saw how much the baseball cards their mothers threw out when they were kids were worth now, and of course they ruined it!

  13. we sadly never saw a baseball game :o( think I should write that on my bucket list…

  14. Piglove says:

    See I think that’s cool that you hung out and got everyone’s autograph. Tapping my hooves though… you never asked for mine yet. Snorts with piggy laughter. XOXO – Bacon

  15. draliman says:

    That’s the game like rounders, right? 🙂

  16. Kat says:

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there who doesn’t have an MD but does have a completely unrecognizable signature.

  17. Garry Armstrong says:

    Squirrel, I re-posted this on my Facebook page with your credit. You’ve made my day!!

  18. Thom says:

    I wonder how many of these guys whose careers didn’t last so long wound up going into med school to become doctors. They’ve already got the prescription writing down cold.

    • I wonder if doctors even write up prescriptions anymore… most of them are called or faxed to the pharmacy, and their staff always fills out and forges the doctor’s name to the orders I get. Prescription handwriting is becoming a lost art…

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