Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sweet Mail Stories

I haven't wrote an entry about some cool mail that I've gotten in a long time, so here it is. If you are interested, StarTiger is the website that I get all the addresses and find out who is a good signer. I highly recommend it. It costs an annual rate, but it is worth every penny in my opinion. I'll get right into the fun stuff, hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment with any questions.

Former UNC Tar Heels great and current Golden State Warrior Harrison Barnes did something that I haven't seen before with athletes that are currently playing. Soon after his season ended, Barnes posted THIS on his Facebook page. The day after I saw that post, I sent a 4x6 photo on it's way to California. About two weeks later, I came back to my mailbox to find the photo on the right inside. All I could say after getting that back was, "Wow." The fact that Barnes got a PO Box for the summer just so he could sign for his fans makes him one of the classiest players in the NBA today. If you want his autograph, make sure you follow the rules specifically, including a photo of you holding the item you want signed, but hurry, summer won't last forever and he easily has hundreds of requests.

Switching sports, I sent a request in spring training to Washington Nationals pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. After almost two months of waiting, I got the card returned signed. This card was very glossy when I got it, so I had to prepare it to get signed, and as you can see, it was worth it. Want to know how to prepare a card like this? Click HERE. This trick usually works for glossy and/or chrome cards and it is very helpful.

One of the great managers of all time, Jim Leyland, retired after the 2013 season. Since he is living in Pennsylvania, I figured I'd send him a card and see what happens. Over four months later, I was delighted to come back and find that he had signed my card beautifully. I rarely get Allen & Ginter cards signed, and getting this one back was extra gratifying. He will be in Cooperstown one day, but it's just a matter of when. With some mail successes, like this one, it takes a very long time, but in the end it is worth it. This is one of the longest waits I've ever had for an autograph that actually came back signed, not a return to sender or unsigned stuff.

A man more known for his nickname than playing ability, Bill Lee, signed two card for me from his home in Vermont. He has the nickname 'Spaceman' and was famous for throwing an eephus pitch, which is nothing more than an overhand lob pitch. I'm pretty sure I sent him three cards, but he only signed two of them. That's fine by me. He wrote 'Earth 2014' on one of the cards, which is an interesting inscription and one that I will likely never see again. He has been at the center of controversy for his opinions on many subjects. If you have time and want to learn a little more about him, click HERE or HERE.

Another former Red Sox, 1986 American League Championship Series MVP Marty Barrett signed four cards for me. Three of them are 1987 Topps. My dad collected a lot of those when he was a kid, and now I'm getting some of them signed.

That's it for this entry. I'll be attending one of the Mets games against Oakland this week. Thanks for reading and good luck graphing!

Monday, June 2, 2014

New York Rangers Hockey House 6/1/14

This entry was supposed to be about some recent mail successes I've had, but alas, you never know what is going to happen. I was in New York City for the Celebrate Israel Parade, and a little detour occurred on the way back.

After the parade, I took a taxi back to Penn Station. With no timetable for when I needed to get on the train, I decided to look around the Penn Station/Madison Square Garden area. After looking around for about 30 seconds, I saw the Rangerstown Hockey House, a playoff fan-fest type area for New York Rangers fans to get hyped for their Stanley Cup Playoffs run. It was a Sunday afternoon, there was no Rangers game happening that day, but the fun was still happening.

As you probably know, I am not a New York Rangers fan by any stretch of the imagination. The name of my other website should give you enough of a hint about that. However, as a hockey fan, I felt like I should check out what was happening inside. The line to get in was about 20 people deep and moving slowly because everyone entering had to sign a waiver. It pretty much said that if you hurt yourself inside, whether it be shooting a puck, tripping, or whatever, you couldn't sue the Rangers. Also, people had to go through security with a guard patting people down and using a metal detector. After all of that, you were given a Rangerstown necklace and led inside.

Once inside, there were many options of what you could do. Walking around, I noticed an older gentleman in a Rangers shirt standing around and taking photos with people. After asking a few people near me, I discovered it was Ron Greschner, a defenseman who played his entire 16 year NHL career with the Rangers. Since I wasn't really prepared with anything for him to sign, I handed him the necklace that I was given on the way in, and he signed it for me. You can see it toward the bottom of this entry. He was walking toward the door to leave as he was signing for people.

After Greschner signed for me, I saw a line for a signing with a former Ranger had been roped off. I then walked over the rope, making me last in line for the signing. After convincing the security guard I was in line the whole time, she let me wait in line for Pete Stemkowski. After about 5 minutes of waiting, I approached Stemkowski. He was signing photos that were free and given to pretty much anybody. I asked if I could get two of the photos signed, and he didn't even think before signing two and handing them to me. I asked the person next to me in line if he could take a photo of Stemkowski and I, and he said he would. You can see that on the right as well as the photos below. He also signed the necklace that Greschner had just signed. I thanked him, then went on my way

Stemkowski left later on, and I went to explore the rest of the house. I walked around for about five minutes, then saw the Prince of Wales Trophy on a table. People were taking pictures with it. The Rangers had just won the trophy a few days earlier, and the fans were able to be a part of the celebration. Click HERE to see what the Rangers did when they received the trophy. That's right, none of them laid a finger on it, as Doc Emrick mentioned. After a surprisingly short wait in line, I handed my camera to the woman who was taking all the photos and stood next to the trophy. After taking one picture not touching the trophy, she was about to take another one. I figured I might as well touch the trophy and see if anyone notices for the second picture. Nobody cared, and I might have just jinxed the Stanley Cup Finals for the New York Rangers. Only time will prove the superstition right or wrong.

Walking around the house some more, I saw another former Ranger was sitting at the table Stemkowski was at minutes earlier. It turned out to be former All-Star, Brian Mullen, who played for both the Islanders and Rangers, among other teams, in his career. After another short wait in line, I approached him. He mentioned something about my New York Mets shirt, and I said that they have been stinking pretty badly lately. I was actually wearing the shirt I had caught at the game eight days prior. I asked for two photos again, and he personalized one for my friend who is a big Rangers fan. He added his signature to the necklace. I also took a picture with him. Then, I shook his hand, thanked him, and went to look around again.  Here is the photo he signed that I kept for myself, and the necklace that Greschner, Stemkowski, and Mullen signed. If you were wondering, the signed photos are about 6x9 inches, an unusual size, but a good one.

That was all I got on the necklace, but it wan't all I got on the day. While I was exploring the back of the hockey house, I saw a face that I actually recognized. MSG network's Ron Duguay, a former Ranger known for his awesome hair. He was doing a question and answer session when I first entered, and now he was sitting in the corner, eating lunch and getting ready to leave. When he emerged, he stopped to sign autographs for a couple other people. He signed an autograph card for me. After that, I took a picture with him, took a picture of him with other fans, and he left. I always keep an autograph card with me, and this is exactly why. I guess I could have gotten him to sign the necklace, but the card was more accessible. He's still got the hair.

I left soon after Duguay, as I had to get on the LIRR. I didn't plan on getting a single autograph, and I ended up having a fun time. Even though it's the Rangers, I respect them. The event was very well organized, and enjoyable for all, even an Islander fan like me.