A Massive TTM Update: Four Months of Returns

In my dearth of blogging and my lack of updates, I’ve completely neglected to keep you updated on my TTM progress. It started because I had a little bit of a dry spell and was waiting on a few more to accumulate for a post, and then I just got too busy to make updates.
Thanks to that, I’ve got an absolute boatload of signatures to share with you, including some really neat ones. Dean Hartgraves here probably isn’t the best one to start with, but I want to tease it up a bit and leave the heavy hitters for later on in the post.
This one came back super quick, showing up in my mailbox on 11/24 and taking just 10 days to make the round-trip.
For as inactive as I was over the past several months, I made some nice progress on my Astros autograph list. If you’ve taken a look at that page anytime lately, much of this post will be familiar. But there are some nice non-Astro returns that came in as well, so keep reading!
Remember this card? I told you that it would be showing up again really soon. I wrote to Denny at the beginning of the year, and received it back on 1/26/15 after just 24 days.
Denny also signed the two index cards that I’d included, but I didn’t scan those. That’s why I always include a pair of index cards as protection for whatever I send, because every now and then I get a few signed ones.

Lefty Joe Sambito anchored the Astros bullpen in the late 70s and early 80s before running into elbow problems in 1982. I sent him a trio of cards at the end of November, and they showed back up signed in just ten days.

Dwayne Henry put in a short stay with the Houston pitching staff in 1991 before being placed on waivers in the offseason and being claimed by the Reds. He went on to pitch in Japan in 1994. He signed three cards for me, and they came back in 10 days as well.

I checked off several names from the 89-92 teams, including Mark Davidson. I sent him four cards at the end of November, including this ’88 Fleer and the ’91 Leaf up above which came back in 27 days. He hung onto the other two, but that’s fine by me.
Gerald Young was another one of the Astros from my early days of following the team, and he sent back these two cards signed in just eleven days. My only regret with these is that I’d sent an ’88 Score rookie that he kept. If you know me, I love that ’88 Score set, and Gerald’s card features him taking a huge cut. It would’ve looked really nice, especially with its yellow border and a blue signature.
I sent these to Dan Schatzeder right around the same time, and they came back in just 13 days. You’ve just got to love that ’81 Fleer, right?

My latest success was from Gary Cooper, who signed and returned this pair of rookie cards in 72 days. Cooper is a true cup of coffee sort of guy, who got his only major league time in September of 1991. He was blocked at third by Ken Caminiti, and an outfield conversion didn’t help his chances either with Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley and a host of other bodies filling up the ranks.
Speaking of cups of coffee, I received another return from a guy who got one at the same time, Andy Mota. While he fared better than his brother Jose, neither of them came anywhere close to the achievements of their father, Manny Mota. Jose didn’t make the majors, but he has become a broadcaster for the Angels.
Andy, however, has made himself a nice career as an agent, and he represents Hanley Ramirez among others. He sent these three back to me in 24 days, and signed a pair of index cards as well.
Ok guys, bear with me. I’ve got one more semi-generic Astro before I start getting into the really good stuff. It’s none other than Todd Jones, who pitched in the mid-90s for the Astros and whose ‘stache is easily 80 grade.

Todd signed a total of five cards for me – more than I expected for sure, and sent them back in just 17 days.

I really dug watching Jones, and he had a nice career beyond the Astros as well after being moved in the massive trade that brought back Brad Ausmus and Jose Lima, among others. He hung around the game until 2008, and has one of the best quotes about being totally fine with not being in the Hall of Fame.
Ok, you’ve slogged through enough Astros autographs about which you could probably care less. It’s time to show off some other cool stuff.
If you’re like me, you have a thing for baseball families. This return comes from pitcher Diego Segui, father to the probably much more familiar David Segui.
In addition to two index cards (they were pretty similar, so I only posted the one), Diego signed a pair of cards for me. The 1963 is his rookie, and the 1974 is his sunset card, of sorts – he also has a 1974 Traded card, but he looks much happier on this one. This return came in on 12/1/14 after 52 days.
I got another piece of vintage goodness back just a week later, when knuckleballer Wilbur Wood returned these two cards. This one made me super excited. I love the seemingly random powder blue White Sox uniforms. I don’t know how they came about, but they are wonderful in their randomness. This duo came back in just 27 days.
Ok, I’m going to dip back into my Houston autographs for a moment, but we’ll stay in the vintage territory.

Carroll Hardy is probably most famous for being the only person to ever pinch-hit for the Splendid Splinter himself, Ted Williams. He’s one of those old players who is noted for being a fantastic signer, like Bobby Shantz and Bobby Doerr. These came back in just 8 days.

Bob Lillis was one of the original Colt .45s, and made a name for himself as one of the young stars on the team at the time. He signed a trio of cards for me that came in the day before Christmas, a wonderful present. These took six months to come back, but it was totally worth it.

Lillis returned to Houston in the 80s as manager, succeeding Bill Virdon and leading some very successful campaigns in ’84 and ’86, before having a dreadful start to ’87 and being replaced by Hal Lanier.

This next one was a big gamble that I dashed off at the beginning of the offseason when I saw a success posted. I’d say it paid off in a big way, wouldn’t you?

Yup! That’s not one, but two signatures from Crush Davis. These two came back after 61 days, and I was totally pumped to find them in my mailbox. It’s always nice to see some of the stars in the game signing.

If you’ve made it this far, I truly salute you. Trust me when I say there’s a super-special one waiting at the end of this post. First I’m going to show off the coolest Astros return that I got back: Jimmy Wynn, The Toy Cannon.

Check these out! The 1964 is his rookie, and the ’68 Topps Game is just too cool. For this one I sent along a donation to the Astros In Action fund, which was absolutely worth it.
Alright, as cool as the returns from Wilbur Wood, Chris Davis, and Jimmy Wynn are, I still think this is the one that just takes the cake.
Are you ready?
That’s right, Bill “Spaceman” Lee! He even inscribed them “Earth 2014” – how freaking cool is that? This pair came back in 142 days, and it’s easily among my top returns from last year.
Last week I started prepping some letters to send to Spring Training, so we’ll see how those go.
Until next time,
 – Bru

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