Well, if it’s late December then I must be making a mad dash to get some posts up on this ol’ blog. I’m going to try and finish off the TTM Reports for 2022, and if I get one a day then I just might get caught up. Oh, sure, there’s plenty more things worth posting which have basically been left undocumented around here, and if I can get myself back in the rhythm then some of that will see the light of day as well. Maybe I can find a few things to highlight as my “best pickups” of the year. At any rate, here’s the TTM Report for March. It’s going to start off with a bang, I can promise that much.
Warren Moon: 2/2, 33 days with fee.
SEE? I TOLD YOU SO. This is just an insanely cool return here. I used to lay on my parents’ living room floor and watch Warren Moon sling bombs on Sundays, and it was incredible. It’s just insane to think that he spent his first 6 seasons in the CFL – winning five Grey Cups! – before he was able to sniff the NFL. His daughter was in my second grade class, and I can still recall the time in 1992 when he came to speak at our elementary school. Somewhere at my parents’ house there is a surely faded signed football which they bought at a silent auction fundraiser. When I caught wind that Warren was signing for just ten bucks per card, I immediately grabbed the coolest pair of cards I could find and dropped a $20 in the envelope along with my request. This was just way too cool of a nostalgia hit to let it pass by.
Lance Pendleton: 1/1, 6 days.
Lance here is a short-term ‘Stro who finished out his career with Houston. He’s also a Houston native, who grew up in Kingwood and went on to play college ball at Rice. He helped lead the Owls to a College World Series, as they defeated Stanford in the final in 2005 (my apologies to Nick). This is a new Astro-graph!
Garth Iorg: 5/5, 10 days.
I dropped requests in the mail to both Iorg brothers on the same day in February. Garth won the race, with his cards making it back to me in just 10 days. There’s a lot to love here: a baseball family, 1981 Fleer, a Senior League card! The other sets here are fun as well: 1981, 1983, and 1987 Topps. I’m tired of seeing Topps beat that 1987 design into the ground, with all of its throwback/Archives/anniversary appearances, but there’s just something about the set that lends itself to looking good all inked up.
B.J. Armstrong: 2/2, 41 days.
Yes, I watched The Last Dance. I’m fairly certain that you probably did as well, because it felt like everyone and their grandma had watched it. B.J. Armstrong was one of my favorite role players from the first three-peat. This return features two of my favorite basketball sets of all-time: 1990-91 Hoops – just a pure and clean classic – and 1991-92 Skybox, the complete antithesis of that. It is such a wild and wonderful set, and if I were more of a basketball fan, I would lend some serious consideration to building it.
Rob Friedman: 1/1, 10 days.
Pitching Ninja! If and when Twitter finally tanks, I may miss Rob here the most – enough so that I’ll make sure to go track down his YouTube channel and actually subscribe. Rob has been instrumental to my understanding of just how complex pitching is, how much more complex hitting is as a result of that, and one hell of a fun follow. Hell, Rob’s the reason that I’ve been working on a changeup lately, thanks to a clip he shared of Greg Maddux demonstrating how he threw his changeup. I even got it to work for me this past weekend. Rob’s love for baseball is abundant, and he’s seemingly always got time for anyone, which is remarkable. This is a really fun autograph to add to my collection.
Kyle Farnsworth: 4/3, 14 days.
I’ll admit: I went back to the well on this one when I saw some returns rolling in from Kyle. That Astros custom is one of the very first cards I made with that design, which I based on the 1954 Wilson Franks cards. Those are, in turn, a modification of the 1954 Topps cards, stripped of the extra picture. These have since become my go-to “oh, he doesn’t have an Astros card, it’s time to make a custom” design, complete with a back. Kyle signed one of these for me ages ago, way before I had the back design down and certainly before I’d found my nice lovely paper stock. I offered the extra for him to keep, but he opted to sign it, as well as the 2010 Upper Deck and 2012 Heritage cards which I’d sent. This is an Astro-graph upgrade!
Dane Iorg: 4/4, 18 days
As I mentioned in Garth’s return, I sent these out to Dane on the same day. He may have lost the race to his brother, but Dane won where it counts – the World Series. Garth can’t say that. Dane also has the nicer signature, by far. This is another fun slate of cards: a 1981 Fleer, and the 1982 Topps is a championship year autograph. That’s something for which I’ve been meaning to put together a little page. I better start actually doing some maintenance around here.
Brad Mills: 2/2, 18 days
Brad made it into 21 games with Montreal in 1980 and another 17 in 1981, but he missed out on getting a glorious 1981 Fleer card. I’ll just have to settle for the fact that his 1982 Fleer is a stupendous piece of cardboard – one that I knew I wanted to get signed the second I dug it out of a dime box. Brad’s tenure in Houston coincided with our descent into the darkest days, as the team was stripped and anything remotely valuable was flipped for fresh scrap on the heap. I’m happy to finally add his signature to the Astro-graph binder, though!
Rocky Bleier: 2/2, 10 days
I missed the big card show in early 2022 – what with the spike in cases and a literal brand new baby at the time, I knew that was going to happen well ahead of the show. As such I decided in December to have my own virtual card show via Sportlots. One of the things I focused on was picking up some vintage TTM fodder, and part of that included branching out beyond baseball. Rocky’s was a name I knew from browsing around SCN trying to figure out whom I might write, but I had never read up on his story. I just knew that he was a mainstay of those legendary ’70s Pittsburgh Steeler teams. Well, Rocky’s story is a truly inspiring one – drafted by the Steelers, then drafted into the Vietnam War, where he sustained an injury to his foot. The doctor’s told him he’d never play again, and then ol’ Mr. Rooney himself sent Rocky a postcard which read, “Rock – the team’s not doing well. We need you. Art Rooney” Rocky took that to heart, and would go on to be a pivotal force out of the backfield for Pittsburgh, the secondary back to the legendary Franco Harris, winning four Super Bowls and putting up his own 1000-yard season in 1976. All that after shrapnel from a grenade tore up his right leg and foot. It’s just an incredible story. In my digital card show hunting, I had primarily focused on basketball and football HOFers, but I made an exception for Bleier, especially when this great 1977 with the 1,000 YARDER shield showed itself as available.
Chris Hanburger: 1/1, 9 days
Now here’s a great pickup from that string of Sportlots orders which was a football HOFer! I dig the 1971 Topps set a lot, especially the two-tone cards. The cartoon figure on the front is just stupendous. Nicknamed “The Hangman” thanks to his penchant for clothesline tackles, Chris spent all 14 of his NFL seasons with Washington, earning Pro Bowl honors in 9 of them. He was widely regarded as one of the smartest players in the game during his time, and from 1973-77 he called the team’s defensive signals. As his inscription here belies, he was finally selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Ducky Schofield: 3/3, 27 days
I am a bit ashamed to say just how long I had cards of Dick “Ducky” Schofield sitting in my pile, just waiting for a request to get dashed off. Thankfully, I didn’t leave them there overly long, as we lost Ducky this year. He was a critical piece of the 1960 Pirates championship, slotting in for an injured Dick Groat late in the season and doing an admirable job, hitting .403 during the month of September. Without his performance, it’s hard to see the Pirates pulling through in the pennant race and going on to the championship. I mentioned with Dane Iorg’s return that I’ve been meaning to see which championship year autographs I have – well this b-e-a-utiful 1960 Topps certainly qualifies! Ducky comes from a baseball family as well, with a dad who spent 10 seasons in the minors and a son (Dick Schofield) who played in 14 major-league seasons – as well as a grandson, Jayson Werth – his daughter’s son. This was a hell of a return.
Tripp Cromer: 6/4, 88 days.
The top trio of cards in this return has been sitting among my Astros TTM stack for years, just waiting for me to make a custom. Well, I finally got one made of Roy Bunyan Cromer III, aka Tripp, and tossed in a pair of extras for him to keep. He declined to do so, signing them as well. This is a nice Astro-graph upgrade over the 1994 Topps card he signed for me while with Houston’s AAA club in 1999 or 2000, and it’s another baseball family autograph to boot! Tripp’s younger brother D.T. spent some time with the Reds, and his other brothers Brandon and Burke were minor league ballplayers.
Gail Goodrich: 1/1, 11 days.
Mr. Goodrich is a basketball legend who was an instrumental part of the first two NCAA championship teams led by John Wooden and would go on to a great NBA career as well. He was a key piece of the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 games in a row – a record that still stands – en route to their NBA title. Gail was a five-time All-Star selection and one of the leading scorers in the NBA during his day. When he retired in 1979 he ranked 11th on the all-time scoring list and held the 10th spot in assists. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Tom Mack: 3/3, 16 days.
Alright, here’s the last non-baseball return of March, and it’s another football HOFer. All three of these cards were picked up in that Sportlots order I’ve referenced a couple times. We’ve got some great sets here, including another 1971 Topps, a 1973 Topps, and a 1974 Wonder Bread on the far right – which itself is a lift of the 1971 Topps design but drops the cartoon. Tom Mack was an incredible left guard, spending all 13 of his seasons in the NFL with the Rams and playing an astounding 184 consecutive games. He was the second overall pick in the draft in 1966, and during his career he was selected to 11 Pro Bowls. There is so much to love about these cards – from the great designs to the great uniforms and really, some fabulous hair. I love that Mack added the HOF 99 inscription as well.
Pat Borders: 1/1
Robb Nen: 1/1
We’ll put a pin in March with this pair of private signing returns which came in via the same promoter. Pat Borders is mostly remembered for his heroics with the Toronto Blue Jays and their championships, but in 1995 the Astros picked him up from Kansas City at the deadline and he got into 11 games with Houston. He lacks an Astros card, so I whipped up a custom for the occasion. The other signing I sent in for was Robb Nen, whom I recall as a bang-up closer for the Giants. He’s a baseball son to boot, with his father Dick spending several seasons with the Washington Senators – a team that would then move to Texas, become the Rangers, and eventually sign his son Robb.
Phew, it’s time for the recap. That’s 16 returns, including two private signings, 3 new Astro-graphs, two Astro-graph upgrades, 3 football HOFers, a basketball HOFer, 5 baseball family men (including two from the same family), a childhood hero, a 1960 Pirate, a legendary running back with 4 Super Bowl rings, and a 3-point sharpshooter with 3 NBA championships among the bunch. That’s quite a month!