Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wallet Card at some landmark lampposts on Fifth Avenue

New York may be the only city in the world that has lampposts with landmark status. There are over 60 throughout the five boroughs. These include four beautiful "Classic Twins" on Fifth Avenue in and around Madison Square Park. These posts were installed in the 1910s, meaning they have lasted for about a century and still work to this day.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Player Profile: Karl Allaire

I have one card of Karl Allaire, from 1990 CMC.

Playing career: Shortstop Karl Allaire played nine seasons in the minor leagues, mostly in the Astros organization. In 975 games he hit .251 with 12 HR and 279 RBI. A fuller account of his career can be found at The Greatest 21 Days.

Where he is now: After his career he became business manager for a check cashing/pawn shop establishment owned by Daniel “Rocky” Baldelli of Woonsocket, RI. He helped mentor Baldelli’s son, Rocco, who became a star major leaguer. In 2014, Allaire was one of thirteen people arrested in conjunction with a gambling ring run out of Baldelli’s business (Baldelli was not charged). Allaire was indicted on charges of organized criminal gambling and conspiracy.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is first when you type Karl Alla, ahead of Karl Allard, a Canadian stock car racer. There do not appear to be any other prominent Karl Allaires.

Coming up next: The next profile will be James Barthmaier.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Don August on baseball cards

Don August pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1988 to 1991. In his rookie season he was excellent, going 13-7 with a 3.09 ERA. Overall in his career he went 34-30 with a 4.64 ERA. Now a teacher and youth baseball coach in Wisconsin, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"It was very exciting to me and my family when I saw my first baseball card, it was my USA Baseball card from the 1984 Olympic Baseball team that was part of the Topps series in 1985. Someone I knew told me they got my card, my mom and brothers went to the local baseball card store and bought many packs until they got one of my cards. When I got this card I showed it to my friends and past coaches. 
I looked forward to seeing my new baseball cards every year when I was in the Majors, there were about four card companies then. I liked them all, I liked the action pictures better. 

I haven't had a new baseball card of me in 23 years, but I get at least one letter in the mail every day from people asking me to sign the enclosed cards and return them. These cards are 23-30 years old and people find my address and send them to me. They also get sent to my brother's house, my mom's house, my mother in law's house, and to the school district where I coach baseball, they just keep coming every day, so I see these cards continuously. The people that send them to be signed come from all over the world. Some come from prisons, some come from soldiers stationed every where. 

I also had baseball cards made of me when I played for 5 years in Taiwan. Very few people in the U.S. have sent me these, but I have had people from Asia send them to me to get signed. I have autographed those in Chinese. 

I started collecting baseball cards when I was about 7 years old. I went to the Little League field to watch some games and when I went to the concession stand I saw that they were selling these cards, so I bought a couple of packs. I thought it was so cool to get these cards of pro baseball players who you see playing on TV. So from that first year I collected I ended up getting some good players, probably at the time I didn't realize how good these players and cards were. Some of those early cards that I got, and I still have, were Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and some more that I can't think of right now. I was hooked and the next year I bought a lot more. I had a lot, but not like 1000's. 

Baseball cards are great memories, that's why it isn't surprising to me that people collect them. In the letters that come to me with the cards to be signed people tell me that they started collecting cards as kids and now they collect cards with their kids and even grandkids. They say how they are going to pass their collections to their kids. They tell how they share this hobby with their kids in collecting cards and getting them autographed. It is a good clean thing to do, it has good memories for everyone, it's about the great sport of baseball, it keeps it alive. I am happy to have been a part of it in many ways: as a kid collecting them, getting my own cards as a player, having the privilege of signing my cards for strangers around the world, watching my son collect cards."


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Player Profile: BJ Barns

I have one card of BJ Barns, from 2003 Bowman.

Playing career: Outfielder BJ Barns played in the Pirates organization from 1999 to 2003. In 530 games he hit .251 with 39 HR and 249 RBI.

Where he is now: A pharmacist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is fiourth when you type BJ Barns, between BJ Barnes Robbed, referring to a North Carolina sheriff whose house was robbed, and BJ Barnes Trucking, referring to a shipping company in Idaho. There do not appear to be any other prominent BJ Barnses.

Coming up next: The next profile will be James Barthmaier.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wallet Card in Chicago: The Weather Bell

Bell Federal Savings & Loan was a Chicago financial institution founded in 1925 by employees of Bell Telephone. In the 1950s the company began installing "weather bells" at its branch locations. They would turn yellow if the weather was getting colder, red if warmer, and green if no change. At it's peak in the 1960s there were at least nine of these bells throughout the city. A victim of the S&L crisis, Bell Federal was eventually acquired by Bank of America in 1996. Though most of the bells are long gone, this one at Clark and Monroe still exists (and still works!).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Player Profile: Brian Baisley

I have one card of Brian Baisley, from 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects.

Playing career: C-1B Brian Baisley played four seasons in the Yankees organization. In 201 games he hit .299 with 17 HR and 116 RBI.

Where he is now: Territory Manager at Horizon Pharma in Florida.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Brian Bais, between Brian Baisch, a blogger, and Brian Baister, former chair of the Rugby Football Union. Another prominent Brian Baisley works for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in Wading River, NY.

Coming up next: The next profile will be BJ Barns.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wallet Card in Chicago: Route 66

The signs marking the beginning and end of Route 66 are only a block away from each other.

That is not because the route is only one block long, just that the streets are one-way in that area.

Though it hasn't been an official route for many years, there are still lots of "Historic Route 66" signs marking the famous highway.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Player Profile: Will Atwood

I have one card of Will Atwood, from 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects.

Playing career: Will Atwood pitched in the Nationals organization in 2008 and 2009. In 38 games, all starts, he went 10-9 with a 4.00 ERA.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Where he is now: Anyone know where Will Atwood is now?

Google Autocomplete results: He is first when you type Will Atw, ahead of Will Atwell, Regional Operations Manager at DISH. Another prominent Will Atwood is a product designer in California.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Brian Baisley.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wallet Card in Chicago

I rarely have to travel for my job, but every couple of years they send me somewhere. Earlier this week I was in Chicago for three days. (I was supposed to have posts automatically popping up, but for some reason the "schedule post" thing didn't work.) It was my first time in Chicago and I was really impressed. Lots of nice architecture (they seem to do a better job preserving their older buildings than New York does), and a lot less pedestrian and street traffic than NY.

Every time a local asked me where I was from and I said New York, they looked annoyed until I told them "It's OK, I'm a Yankee fan". A rare chance to actually not be hated for being one!

Unfortunately I spent most of my time in conference rooms and long dinners, so I didn't have a chance to fully explore as much as I wanted. Still, I'll have a couple of posts of quirky things I managed to find in my brief stay.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Player Profile: Luis Atilano

I have one card of Luis Atilano, from 2010 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects.

Playing career: Luis Atilano made sixteen starts for the Washington Nationals in 2010. He went 6-7 with a 5.15 ERA.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Where he is now: Anyone know where Luis Atilano is now?

Google Autocomplete results: He is first when you type Luis At, ahead of Luis Atencio, Staff Software Engineer at Cirix Systems. Another prominent Luis Atilano is a singer.

 Coming up next: The next profile will be Will Atwood.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wallet Card at the most beautiful McDonald's in America

Going to start sprinkling a few Long Island ones along with the NYC ones...
The Denton House in New Hyde Park, NY, was originally built in 1795, and expanded into a Georgian mansion in 1860. In 1986, with the mansion abandoned and in disrepair, the property was bought by McDonald's with the intention of tearing down the mansion. However landmark status was pushed through immediately after the land purchase, leaving McDonald's the unintending owner of a landmark. As a result, McDonald's could only refurbish the mansion and convert it into what some have called "the most beautiful McDonald's in America."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Player Profile: Carmen Angelini

I have one card of Carmen Angelini, from 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects.

Playing career: Shortstop Carmen Angelini played in the Yankees organization from 2007 to 2014. In 444 games he hit .225 with 21 HR and 154 RBI.

Where he is now: Works at Mighty Auto Parts of South Florida.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is first when you type Carmen Ang, ahead of Carmen Angelo, a newsman for WTAM in Cleveland. Another prominent Carmen Angelini died in California in 2011.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Luis Atilano.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Matt LaPorta on baseball cards

First baseman Matt LaPorta played four seasons for the Cleveland Indians. His best season was 2011, when he hit .247 with 11 HR and 53 RBI. Now a Loan Officer at SunTrust Mortgage in Tampa, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?  I am on a couple of USA cards with some pretty great players. David Price, Max Scherzer, Matt Wieters, JP Arencibia. We all played together on the college USA team. I am pretty proud of those cards. 

- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player? I wouldn’t say that I have one particular card that is my favorite. I would say that my first ever baseball card ever would be the most special to me because growing up I always wanted to be on a baseball card.

- Do you collect baseball cards?
The only cards that I collected were my own. My good friend Chad help me collect all my cards, had them all PSA graded and put into cases. We then put them into a Pelican water/fireproof case to protect them. I wanted to preserve them so my kids can see and be able to pass them along to their kids. It was an honor to be on a baseball card. 


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Joshua LeBlanc on baseball cards

Outfielder Joshua LeBlanc played four seasons in the Angels organization. In 290 games he hit .250 with 10 HR, 125 RBI and 68 SB. Now a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Scottsdale, AZ, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"When I was younger I collected cards. I had a large binder that was filled with cards. Mainly football cards. I loved the Action Packed cards and my prized card was an Emmitt Smith rookie card.

My favorite baseball card that I had was a Jose Cruz card. I was and still am an Astros fan.
I will say my fondest memory was in 2006 I was in Rancho playing and a gentleman came to me to sign cards. He showed me the new Topps Bowman card and I said, “I have not seen this one.” He asked if I wanted some and I said yes. It was an unexplainable feeling to actually have a card and people wanting you to sign them."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Player Profile: John Anderson

I have one card of John Anderson, from 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects.

Playing career: John Anderson was Toronto’s 28th-round pick in 2008 and has slowly worked his way through their system. Overall in 127 minor league games he is 19-23 with a 4.42 ERA.

Where he is now: In 28 games (20 starts) at AA New Hampshire he went 6-6 with a 4.62 ERA. He also made two appearances for AAA Buffalo.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type John An, between John Aniston, an actor, John Andre, who assisted Benedict Arnold and was hanged by the Continental Army. There are no references to the ballplayer on the first page of Google results; the first is for the 1980 Presidential candidate.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Carmen Angelini.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Shawn Hare points out a baseball card error

Outfielder Shawn Hare played four seasons in the major leagues for the Tigers, Mets and Rangers. His best season was 1995, when he hit .250 in eighteen games for Texas. Now a financial advisor at Wells Fargo in Woodland Hills, CA, he kindly responded to my questions about baseball cards by pointing out an error on one of his.

"I have a baseball card that is a misprint.  Rico Brogna’s picture is on my card.  I don’t think people know that."

Looking at Hare's cards on the fantastic, it appears that the 1992 Donruss Rookies card is probably the one with Brogna on it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Player Profile: Abraham Almonte

I have one card of Abraham Almonte, from 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects.

Playing career: Outfielder Abraham Almonte came up with the Mariners in 2013, was traded to the Padres in 2014, and traded to the Indians in 2015. In 166 major league games, he is hitting .244 with 10 HR and 48 RBI.

Where he is now: Split 2015 between San Diego and Cleveland. In 82 games he hit .250 with 5 HR and 24 RBI.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Abraham A, between Abraham and Sarah, referring to the biblical couple, and Abraham and Strauss, the defunct department store. Another prominent Abraham Almonte pitches for Philadelphia University.

Coming up next: The next profile will be John Anderson.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

PWE from 2x3 Heroes

A couple of highlights from a recent PWE by 2x3 Heroes:

How is Jorge Posada a New York Hometown Hero? The card does mention on the back that he and Bernie Williams were both Yankee stars from Puerto Rico. Don't know if "Puerto Rico" counts as a hometown. 
 Can the Yankees squeeze another productive year out of this guy? I sure hope so.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Brandon Puffer on baseball cards

Brandon Puffer pitched for the Astros, Padres and Giants from 2002 to 2005. In 85 games he went 3-4 with a 5.09 ERA. Now an Insurance Agent at ICH Financial in Austin, TX, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I did collect cards as a kid and really enjoyed it.

I would say the funniest card I had was a Topps card that paired me with Jung Bong of the Braves at that time..... Bong/Puffer.. Pretty obvious why they paired us! Apparently it got publicity in Playboy, High Times and Letterman. Not my proudest card but pretty funny...Probably a popular card in Colorado lol!
I would say my favorite card is one where I'm on the mound at Wrigley. To see the ivy in the background is very special. Such a historic ball park! I really appreciate that card. Thanks for loving the game!!"


Friday, October 9, 2015

Player Profile: Michael Almanzar

I have one card of Michael Almanzar, from 2009 Bowman Prospects.

Playing career: Third baseman Michael Almanzar began his career in the Red Sox organization as a 17-year old in 2008. Traded to the Orioles in 2014, in eight minor league seasons he has hit .246 with 59 HR and 383 RBI.

Where he is now: Still only 24, at AAA Norfolk he hit .225 with 4 HR and 50 RBI.

Interesting facts: Son of former major leaguer Carlos Almanzar.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Google Autocomplete results: He is second when you type Michael Alm, between Michael Almereyda, a screenwriter, and Michael Almonacy, who plays basketball at Stony Brook. There do not appear to be any other prominent Michael Almanzars.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Abraham Almonte.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jarred Holloway on baseball cards

Jarred Holloway was the Astros' tenth-round draft pick in 2008. Unfortunately he only appeared in thirteen minor league games as his career was cut short due to injuries. He now co-owns his family business, a machine shop specializing in parts for nuclear plants and motorcycles (see more below). He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I think I have a handful of my own cards tucked in a drawer somewhere. I used to collect them as a child, with my father. He had an expansive enough collection that he sold them and purchased his first home when I was a small child.
I, along with my father, own a machine shop that specializes in the nuclear industry. We design and build parts for nuclear plants all over the world. Predominately in nuclear security and radiation shielding. Along with that, we have a line of aftermarket custom motorcycle parts that we manufacture.

It was a shame that my arm broke down on me, but that's all a part of the game. I'm thankful I had the chance to play the game that I love professionally, and that it afforded me the opportunity to open a business."


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oh well...

Well, that was quick. It's kind of a shame that the game proceeded exactly as everyone in the world thought it would. I was hoping the Yankees would have shown a little more fight - maybe try to bunt or something to get runners on. Probably wouldn't have happened. At least the Astros didn't no-hit them like they did in '03. Still, considering the amount of talent on this team (or lack thereof), just making the playoffs should be considered a success. And despite being just one game, it did feel like the playoffs. I wasn't sure it would.

Oh well, at least there is some hope for the future with guys like Bird and Severino. Still a lot of holes on this team to fill, though....

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Playoff" Preview?

In the early days of this blog when the Yankees made the playoffs each year I used to do a Playoff Preview post before the start of the playoffs. It's been a couple of years but the Yankees are back in the playoffs, sort of. I'm not sure how I feel about the Wild Card Game - will it still feel like the Yankees are in the playoffs if they only win one game?

As a fan I can't help but be pessimistic - the Yankees have lost six of their last seven, they have no hitting outside of Beltran and Bird and they are going up against the best pitcher in the American League.

Still, considering that talent-wise this team is really not very good, certainly not championship-quality, it is fun that they were able to be as successful as they were this regular season. And who knows, maybe somehow they will sneak by tonight...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Player Profile: Wes Bankston

I have one card of Wes Bankston, from 2002 Bowman Chrome Prospects.

Playing career: First baseman Wes Bankston played for the A’s in 2008. In seventeen games he hit .203 with 1 HR and 4 RBI.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Where he is now: Anyone know where Wes Bankston is now?

Google Autocomplete results: He is second when you type Wes Ban, between Wesbanco, a bank holding company based in West Virginia, and Wesbanco Arena, home of a minor league hockey team in Wheeling, WV. There do not appear to be any other prominent Wes Bankstons.

Coming up next: The next profile will be BJ Barns.

Wallet Card at Live Bait

I originally took this photo because of the faux-vintage privilege sign on the bar called Live Bait on 23rd street. However when I looked the place up afterward it turns out the building has a bit of music history to it as well. Back in 1972, Ace Frehley answered a "guitarist wanted" ad in the Village Voice and successfully auditioned for KISS in the space above Live Bait.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Player Profile: Steven Baker

I have one card of Steven Baker, from 2006 Bowman Prospects.

Playing career: Outfielder Steven Baker played in the Padres organization from 2002 to 2006. In 419 games he hit .265 with 34 HR and 207 RBI.

My memories: Only know him from his card.

Where he is now: Anyone know where Steven Baker is now?

Google Autocomplete results: He is fourth when you type Steven Bak, between Stephen Baker, the former Giants star wide receiver (Stephen Baker the Touchdown Maker!) and Steven Baker ABC, referring to a broadcast news producer. There are no entries for the ballplayer on the first page of google results; the first is a British politician.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Wes Bankston.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mike Wlodarczyk on baseball cards

Mike Wlodarczyk pitched five seasons in the Rays organization. In 153 games he went 26-31 with a 3.84 ERA. Now Senior Technical Recruiter at Randstad Technologies in Boston, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I used to collect cards as a kid but I don't anymore.  Not sure where they are at this point.  I have some of my own cards in a drawer at home from fans that requested autographs but didn't include a return address."


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Jay Gibbons on baseball cards

Outfielder Jay Gibbons played nine seasons for the Orioles and Dodgers. His best season was 2003, when he hit .277 with 23 HR and 100 RBI for Baltimore. Overall in 840 major league games he hit .260 with 127 HR and 427 RBI. Now a minor league hitting coach for the Dodgers, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I know my favorite card of myself is one of Cal Ripken and me. Obviously very honored to be on the same card with Cal.

I collected baseball cards as a kid. My wife one Christmas had all of my cards at the time framed for me."

Thanks! I don't have that card, but here is one from my collection.