Alright, next verse same as the first: we’ve got a double-duty TTM Report on deck today, which will finally bring me into the current year. There were three and four returns in the respective months, with a few private signings mixed in here and a handful of customs scattered throughout. Let’s have a look at what arrived at the end of last year.
Craig McMurtry: 1/1, private signing
The first one up was a cheap private signing. Wendy had spotted it, and she reached out to see if I had made a Craig McMurtry custom. I had indeed, and he’d signed a copy. However, when I went to pull the file to print one, I realized that it was an early, rough design of mine, and that the aspect ratio was wrong. I took this opportunity to redo my file, cleaning it up and getting a new, properly sized copy signed. This is based on the 1988 Topps football design, substituting the logo circle for the team helmet. I tried putting a position silhouette in the circle, but came away liking the logo more.
Drew Butera: 1/1, 45 days.
Return two of November was an end of season hail mary, dashed out in the final week of the minor league season. It didn’t have to travel far, however, as it was only headed down the road to Sugar Land where Drew Butera had grabbed a roster spot as a reserve catcher in AAA. He didn’t end up getting time at the big league level, but this crosses off another baseball kid for my families collection.
Dennis Martinez: 2/2, private signing
The last return in November was private signing number two: a great and affordable signing with El Presidente. In addition to being a fine pitcher with a lengthy major league career and a Perfect Game to his name, Dennis Martinez spent the 2013 season as the Astros bullpen coach, under Bo Porter. Billy (Astros A to Z) went in on this one as well, so I had a pair of customs signed in addition to another beautiful 1981 Fleer. Mr. Martinez has a really nice looking signature, and I appreciate that he used a silver marker on one of the customs, it pops nicely.
Sal Butera: 2/2, 18 days
The first return of December was not only a baseball dad, but also completed a baseball family just three weeks after I got the first signature. Sal Butera inked up a great 1981 Fleer and a swell 1983 Topps card. I find it interesting how many baseball families involved catchers. There are some dual catcher combos (the Kendalls and Hundleys also come to mind), but I feel like a lot of baseball kids are catchers.
Nivaldo Rodriguez: 1/1, 76 days
Return two of December was another AAA hail mary, this time sent out a few days earlier to the Toledo Mud Hens. Nivaldo was the odd man out in the post-trade deadline roster crunch, and didn’t clear waivers. That put him in the Tigers organization. He’s spent this year back in AAA, putting up 10 starts and two more appearances. It’s unclear whether they will try to keep him as a starter or move him to the bullpen. This is a 2020 Starchives card, and I enjoy the fact that he kept the extra custom I sent his way.
Ed Crosby: 1/1, 24 days
We’ve got another baseball dad! If you read the last TTM Report you’ll know that I got Ed’s son Bobby Crosby just 8 weeks prior to this return, so this completes the family. Ed was an infielder who spent parts of 6 seasons in the majors from 1970 to 1976, with the Cardinals, Reds, and Indians. This is his career capper, and his finest card in my opinion, though his 1973 is certainly nice as well.
Phil Plantier: 1/1, private signing
The final return of 2021 was also from a private signing, and it finally netted me a Phil Plantier autograph for the Astro-graph binder. I’d tried writing him a few times care of teams where he was coaching, to no avail. I’d sent in to another private signing back in 2019, only to have my card missed in the pile. To his credit, the signing organizer had reached out when he discovered my card wasn’t signed, but Mr. Plantier said he wasn’t signing more at the moment. I did get my money back on that one, though. When another signing popped up, I dashed off this beautiful 1995 Leaf card at once, lest I miss out yet again. This set is wildly underrated, and I’m low-key building it (not an autographed version, though). Phil was acquired in the trade that broke my heart, the massive 12-player swap with San Diego, and got into 22 games with Houston, mostly in the outfield, hitting .250 but smacking 4 homers in his 68 at-bats. San Diego decided they wanted him back, though, and he was dealt at the deadline for Rich Loiselle and Jeff Tabaka, the latter of which would pitch in 42 games for Houston across 1995-1996. Loiselle never made it up to the Astros, and was later shipped to Pittsburgh in a 1996 deal that brought Danny Darwin back to Houston.
Time to do a little scorekeeping. That’s three new Astro-graphs and one upgrade (McMurtry), three baseball family men (the Buteras and Ed Crosby), one perfect game pitcher, and two delightful 1981 Fleer cards added to the binder. Not a bad way to finish out the year.
I’ve got 5 more recaps before I can hopefully file a June report on time – or at least during the first week of July. It won’t all be TTM Reports around here, though. There are some trade recaps, some other fun items, and I even made it out to a card show last weekend – my first in two and a half years. I’m getting four posts a week out of this place at the moment, which I have to say is a much nicer clip than my prior posting habits. We’ll see if I can start pushing that number up, but I’m at least making some headway on the backlog around here.