Ryan Hancock pitched seven years of professional baseball, making the major leagues with the Angels in 1996. A two-sport star at BYU, he quarterbacked the football team to a 7-1 record in 1992. Currently, he works full-time in medical sales and is also a private pitching instructor. He kindly shared some great stories about baseball cards.
"As far as collecting cards, I have held on to a few select cards from my childhood, but I am far from an active collector. One interesting fact you may not have realized: income from card deals is often one of the few sources of income for minor league prospects if they didn't get large signing bonuses. So if a player wasn't an early round pick, and they can become a prospect, the card deals can be a big help to support a minor league career, especially because of the ridiculously low minor league salaries. I was lucky enough to be an early rounder and got some card deals that my agent helped set up. Agents can play a key role in finding good card deals as well. I remember signing about 10 thousand of my "Best" brand card if I remember right. At least I was allowed to do it on my own rather than fly to some location and do it over a couple days with someone watching you sign them like many players had to.
My best story would be getting Nolan Ryan to sign one of his cards for me. I played with his son Reid in the Alaska Summer College league and had my mom send me the card when I heard he was going to visit. Great family of course.
My favorite card is a toss up between my Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (Sadaharu Oh was my manager) Japan League card or the Upper Deck with me tossing an orange. I really wish I would've tracked down one of his cards and gotten his signature on it. A lot of collectors send the Upper Deck to sign and say it's one they like a lot for it's uniqueness. Cards almost always are done during spring training and that one was taken at the Angels' minor league spring camp in Mesa, AZ.
I took a peek at your blog and couldn't turn away. It's always amazing to me how many players you cross paths with when you play for a few years. In that first page I've played with or against: Juan Gonzalez, Chili Davis, Phil Leftwich, Doug Jennings, Rick Greene, I was traded for Rickey in '97(one of my favorites, he signed his rookie card for me at a show as a kid and we got him to do his stance in his suit for us), Earl Cunningham, (he was still wearing that necklace in '94 with me in the Cal league, but his money was long gone, probably gave half of it away he was so nice), Mark McGwire, A-Rod, Mike DeJean, etc.... And I only played 7 years with 2 months in the bigs."