Okay, we’re back to making some progress here! After some strong numbers in the several months prior, the returns dipped last April. That’s what happens when you stop filling the hopper, though. I still had things come back from five people, though – and all of them Astros! Let’s take a quick look at what arrived.
Jesus Alou: 1/1
I’ll lead off with my favorite of the bunch: a lovely little upgrade to my Jesus Alou autograph with this signed 1970 Topps card. This was via a private signing – someone on SCN has a couple people who make the rounds in Latin America. They’ll field items for a dozen signings at once and after a month of traveling around they’ll get shipped back. I was very happy to see Jesus Alou in this batch – my only autograph from him was ballpoint pen on a 73 O-Pee-Chee which I’d found at one of the TriStar shows.
Francisco Cordero: 1/1
I was able to finally check off Francisco Cordero in that same batch of players as well. The fourteen-year big league veteran wrapped up his career with Houston, back in the dark dismal days of our three-straight 100 loss seasons. It did not fare well for him, as he went 0-3 with a 19.80 ERA in 6 games, surrendering 11 runs in just 5 innings pitched.
A.J. Reed: 3/3, 69 days.
This very nice return just happened to arrive on my birthday! I already had Reed’s autograph, having gotten him on a Winter Caravan stop prior to the 2016 season. Those were unlicensed Panini cards, however, so this return made for a beautiful upgrade to his spot in the binder. The 2018 Starchives card is of course my favorite of the batch, but I’m quite fond of the other two as well.
Bill Spiers: 2/2, 89 days.
Just a few days later I received this rather nice return from a childhood favorite: super-utility man Bill Spiers. He was the Marwin Gonzalez of the late 90s / early 00s teams, a man with a fine bat who was deft at several infield positions. I remember him as a clutch pinch hitter as well. I love how these two turned out!
Brent Strom: 3/3, 208 days.
The fifth and final return of last April was another which I was very excited to see show back up in my mailbox: pitching guru Brent Strom. I’d sent this out in September of 2020 as part of a mad dash of “the season’s almost over” requests. Several of those did come back, and most were coaches. Brent’s took a bit more time to arrive, and I’d just about written it off when it showed up. In addition to his rather fetching 1974 Topps card, Brent signed copies of his 2018 and 2019 Starchives cards, keeping the spare copies I’d sent along.
So while it wasn’t as big of a batch of returns, April still brought in five players, including two new Astros (Cordero & Strom) and three lovely upgrades! I’d call that a pretty decent month, by my standards.