Monday, February 25, 2013

Mike Sadek, Michael Haynes, Sid Bream, Derek Loville

Hi everyone,
I received some great returns recently.

Mike Sadek was a catcher for the San Francisco Giants when I was growing up.  I liked him.  He was a hard nosed player who gave it his all.  He worked hard to make it to the major leagues and that was one of his favorite memories.  He said that just finally making it to the big leagues after 6 years in the minors - calling my dad to let him know - playing against and with some of the best player playofs in the world!  I asked what made him want to be a catcher--his dad loved the position and my older brother was a catcher (a much bigger catcher!!).  I asked if he could rewatch any game, what game would it be.  He siad he would rewatch the game in Chicago where he broke his jaw in a collision with Ivan Dejesus.  He never saw it on the field or on a replay.  His brother said that it was the worst collision he ever saw.  He also said that Ivan Dejesus played the next day.

Michael Haynes was an excellent receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.  He had a great career and was part of the first Atlanta playoff team in a long time.  He had a great game in the win over the Saints.  He had over 100 yards and two touchdowns.  He had over 1100 in 1991 and two straight seasons of double digit touchdowns.

Sid Bream was a good player who was part of one of the most famous plays in baseball playoff history.  Who can forget the slide? Outside of the slide, his favorite memory was returning to Pittsburgh from going to the Braves and hitting a HR in his first at bat.  His favorite stadium to play in was San Diego before football played on it. 

Derek Loville was a great running back for the Oregon Ducks and I was shocked that he went undrafted.  He was part of the last San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl championship team as well as the back to back Denver Broncos Super Bowl championship teams.  He was a starter for the 49ers for one season and played excellent.  It was too bad he didn't get more opportunity.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Photo update

The past month has been very good to me.  I have loved going to the mailbox.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Catch up Time!!

Hello everyone.  It has been awhile.  I always take December off because of Christmas and that makes for a little bit of a slow January at the start.  I really didn't write any letters over my Christmas break so the beginning of January I tried to get some new letters out.  It has resulted in a good end of the month.  I actually received six returns in one day :)  Those are always great days.  I also participated in a private signing on and went to the Oakland A's Fan Fest.

Here is how January has turned out for me:

Eddie Brown - the excellent wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Hurricanes
Tony Carey - the All American defensive back for the 1964 Notre Dame Figting Irish
Phil Carter - a great running back for the Fighting Irish
Ralph Guglielmi - another excellent Irish alum
John Kuhn - one of my favorites - love the fullbacks :)
Bobby Jones - wide receiver for the New York Jets
Joe Lavender - cornerback for the Washington Redskins

Private Signing:
Bobby Jones - pitcher for the Texas Rangers
Jim Sundberg - one of the best defensive catchers in baseball
Bobby Bundy - Orioles minor league pitcher - was in Modesto for last year's single A all star game
Dylan Bundy - hot pitcher for the Orioles who made his major league debut last year (total surprise - had accidently sent an extra card to a signing that he was also a part of and he signed it for me)
George Wright - former Texas Rangers outfielder

A's Fan Fest: Evan Scribner, Sal Bando, Eric Sogard, Dan Strailey, Michael Taylor, Seth Smith, Bill North

John Wathan- one of my favorite Royals from my youth
Broderick Perkins - first baseman for the Padres and Indians
Don Mosebar - great center for the Los Angeles Raiders
Jeff Reardon - an awesome closer
William White - loved him especially when he was paired with Bennie Blades on the Lions
Ray Webster - an ex-Sacramento Solon
Patrick Lennon - ex Oakland A's and Seattle Mariner
Tom Gatewood - an All American and Academic All American for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish- formed a great pair with Joe Theismann
Bobby Bryant - a great defensive back with the Minnesota Vikins
Jerry Mumphrey - a very good outfielder for a couple of teams like Padres, Cubs, Astros, Yankees
Adam Melhuse - one of my favorites  - backup catcher
Leon Roberts - outfielder for the Rangers and Mariners during my youth

I will post pictures and post the answers to some of the questions that I asked later

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ara Parseghian, Neil Worden, Tom Clements, Tom Schoen, Dick Ambrose

I have been lucky recently in my returns and my Notre Dame run continues.  The first return I got was from the great Coach Parseghian.  I told in my last post about Nick Rassas and his gift of the book called Resurrection.  It was about Coach Parseghian's first season at Notre Dame.  He brought Notre Dame back to prominence and won two National Championships during his time there.  I am grateful to receive his autograph for my collection.

Neil Worden was another excellent Notre Dame player.  He was a fullback who helped lead the way for Heisman trophy winner Johnny Lattner.  He was on the No. 2 ranked team in 1953 as a senior.  His nickname was Bull.  He scored 29 touchdowns and left school as its third leading rusher. 

Tom Clements was the starting quarterback for the 1973 National Championship team for Notre Dame.  He was the MVP of the Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama.  Mr. Clement went on to a Hall of Fame career in the CFL.  He is now the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers.

Tom Schoen was a member of the 1966 National Championship team under Coach Parseghian.  He came to Notre Dame as a quarterback and would leave as an All-American safety.  He intercepted 7 touchdowns (2 returned for TDs) in the championship year.  He also was an excellent punt returner. 

The last return was from Dick Ambrose.  He was an excellent linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and played in the first game that I ever saw in person.  His nickname was Bam Bam.  After his career he became a judge. 

I am grateful for all of these returns and want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cade McNown, Bruce Armstrong, Jacob Tamme, Tim Biakabutuka, Neil Parry, Nick Rassas

I have had some fantastic returns this past week!! 

The first return was from Cade McNown.  I loved watching him play for the UCLA Bruins and rooted for him during his NFL career.  His junior and senior years were awesome.  He led the Bruins to identical 10-2 record and Top 10 finishes.  Over two seasons the Bruins won 20 straight games.  They were undefeated his senior year before the great game against Miami where they were ROBBED! LOL  The wide receiver's knee was down before he fumbled.  Where was instant replay when you needed it.  I would have loved to see them win the National Championship.  I rooted for Mr. McNown throughout his NFL and was sorry that it didn't work out better for him.  I asked him what his favorite memory was and it was the pursuit of perfection along with his teammates.  I asked if he could rewatch one game he played in, what would it be and he said the Miami game that I mentioned earlier.  I asked what was he most proud of outside of football and he said his family...including his football family.  I had him sign a football photo and the cover of a Playstation video game manual that I had saved purposely to try and have him sign it. 

The second return comes from one of the best offensive lineman in Patriots history-- Bruce Armstrong.  He had an incredible career with multiple awards and an awesome stretch of games started in a row, especially for a lineman.  He ranks right with John Hannah as the best Pats linemen.  Even after he was hurt and missed a chunk of time, he came back and was as good as ever.  He signed a Patriots helmet photo for me.

Jacob Tamme is an excellent tight end for Peyton Manning-both with the Colts and now with the Broncos.  I became a fan of his while he was at the University of Kentucky.  That offense was so fun to watch with him, Keenan Burton, Stevie Johnson, and Dicky Lyons Jr.  They seemed to be on the cusp of being an excellent team but they couldn't quite get over that hump that separates a very good team and a great team.  Mr. Tamme is an excellent blocker and has great hands.  He signed a football photo for me.

Tim Biakabutuka was a star at Michigan and had some great seasons with the Carolina Panthers.  I remember watching him with Tyrone Wheatley at the University of Michigan.  Talk about a talented backfield.  He had an unbelievable career at Michigan.  It was highlighted by his 300 yard performance against Ohio State (could that have happened in a bigger game) and setting the single season rushing mark.  If he could have stayed healthy in the NFL I think he would have been stellar.  He scored two 60 yard touchdown runs in the same game.  He signed a Carolina Panthers helmet photo for me. 

The next two returns were so awesome and the fact that they came the same night makes it even better.  The first return was from former San Jose State player Neil Parry.  Mr. Parry was hurt in a game and ended up having to have his foot amputated.  He never gave up and would return to the San Jose State football team two years later.  He played special teams with a prosthetic leg.  What an unbelievable example of the human spirit.  He is back at SJSU as a graduate assistant and when I saw that I knew I had to send a request to him.  He signed a football photo for me.  He answered my questions and said that he didn't think he was back until he made a tackle in the East West Shrine game.  I asked if he had any advice for my second graders and I loved his response so much I typed it out and made a poster of it to go above my whiteboard.  He said:
          Never Give Up!  Don't ever let anyone else tell you what can or can not be done.  If you want something, work for it and don't let anything stop you from accomplishing your goal.  There will always be setbacks and obstacles; it's how you deal with them and move on that makes you who you are or who you want to be.

The final return was probably the most fantastic and one of my best ever.  I have been working on a Notre Dame project since earlier this year and I wrote to Nick Rassas.  He was a player for the Irish in the 1960s.  He was an excellent defensive back and punt returner who would play for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.  He was an All American in his final season after starting his career as a walk-on.  He was drafted by both the Falcons in the NFL and the Chargers in the AFL.  I asked what his favorite memory and he said tons of them including asking Ara Parseghian for a scholarship.  I asked why he chose the Falcons (inaugral season) over the Chargers and he said money and the AFL was just starting and that he wanted to play for Green Bay (didn't happen).  I asked what he was most proud of outside of football and he said his 4 college degrees and his last job was as Senior VP of U.B.S. (swiss bank that is the 2nd largest in the world).  He signed a Notre Dame helmet photo for me.  This return would have been great by itself but what else was in the envelope made it unbelievable!  He sent along a copy of the book Resurrection written by Jim Dent and signed it to me.  He said: Thank you for including me in your collection.  Thought you might enjoy a good Notre Dame football story.  Best wishes, Nick Rassas #27 The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Atlanta Falcons.  The book is about the 1964 season- Ara Parseghian's first with Notre Dame.  The previous season the Irish went 2-7.  It is a GREAT book and I loved it. It was awesome to read the back story of some of the players and what they had to go through before getting to have this great season.  I started reading it Sunday (read 20 chapters) and finished it on Monday!  This return will always be one of my favorites. 

It was such an enjoyable read that I have already sent to a couple of the players from it this week to hopefully be able to add them to my collection. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

William Floyd, Dallas Clark, Jim Fahnhorst, Keith Fahnhorst, Gene Mingo, Kirk Cousins, Ron Powlus, Gino Cappelletti

It has been awhile.  I was planning on updating this week with my last returns and then today I got a 4 return day!  It was a nice walk back from the mailbox.

I really was happy to get the return from William "Bar None" Floyd.  I became a big fan of his while he was at Florida State.  He looked like a monster in his Seminoles uniform.  I was lucky enough to get to watch him play a lot (on tv) while he was with the 49ers, living in the Bay Area.  He was a great fullback and I still remember a card that I had that was his jersey on one side and Moose Johnston's on the other to depict the top two fullbacks.  He had excellent hands out of the backfield.  I wish he could have stayed with the 49ers but he did well with the Panthers.  He signed a 49ers photo helmet for me.

I was lucky to get back a return from Dallas Clark, a great tight end that is extremely kind to collectors.  I remember watching him when he was playing at the University of Iowa.  He had a great career there and man did he do well with Peyton Manning and the Colts.  He had an amazing 2009 season where he caught 100 passes.  He went to Tampa Bay this season and it has started to look up for him and the Bucs. 

I had a very cool/coincidental thing happen to me this past week.  I grew up in the Bay Area and watched a lot of 49ers games.  I decided to write to both Keith and Jim Fahnhorst.  They played together on the 49ers and I thought it would be cool to get their autographs.  The coincidental thing is that I got their returns on the same exact day.  Keith was a fixture on the offensive line from 1977 to 1986.  He won two Super Bowls.  His favorite memory was "The Catch".  He said it was great fun to play with his brother on the 49ers.  The toughest player for him to block was Jack Youngblood.  His favorite part of the game was "kill the clock".  It meant that they were won.  He answered my character question-honesty.  Jim was a backup linebacker for the 49ers and won 3 Super Bowls.  He had his best season in 1986 when he was given the opportunity to start and had 4 interceptions.  He was surprised to hear that the USA Today had named him as one of the Top 55 players since 1953 at the University of Minnesota.  I am sending a copy of the page to him.  His favorite memory was Dec 11, 1988 where he played great against the Saints to lock up the division.  He said that it was great just having my brother in the same locker room.  His favorite non football memory is watching his children grow up. 

Gene Mingo was the first African American placekicker.  He twice led the league in scoring.  With the Denver Broncos he ran the ball, caught passes, and kicked.  He also played for the Oakland Raiders which is the helmet photo that I had him sign.  He has written a book that is available on Amazon. 

Kirk Cousins is an excellent young quaterback that is in a tough position (in my opinion).  I really enjoyed watching him play at Michigan State.  I thought he was a very good quarterback and I was looking forward to seeing who would draft him.  I was SHOCKED that the Redskins drafted him in the fourth round.  I feel bad for him that he is basically going to be stuck on the bench and used as trade bait in a year or two.  That is a tough situation.  I hope it works out for him like it did for Matt Schaub.  I will be rooting for him.  He said his favorite Michigan State memory was the Hail Mary game against Wisconsin.  His goals for the NFL is to become a starter and win.  The person that has helped him the most is his dad.  He answered my character question with integrity. 

The next return was from Ron Powlus.  I think he is a guy that was put into a tough position and handled it very well.  He was proclaimed to be a multiple Heisman trophy winner by Beano Cook before he ever played a game at Notre Dame.  That is tough.  He got better every year at Notre Dame.  I was hoping that he would get a chance in the NFL but it never happened.  He has become a very good coach.  He is a coach at the University of Kansas.  He thanked me for my letter which always makes me feel good.  His favorite memory is beating undefeated #5 ranked USC at home in 1995. He said it was a great day for the Irish.  Hopefully tomorrow will be another great day for the Irish!  I asked if he had any regrets about attending Notre Dame and he said no.  The best part of coaching for him is helping young people develop into better people on and off the field.  The person that had the biggest impact on him was Rocky Balboa :)  Love that response!  He answered my character question with character, confidence, and conviction.  I like it.

The final return was from one of the greatest Patriot players of all time---Gino Cappelletti.  He was an amazing player.  He played wide receiver and kicker for the Pats.  He is on every All-time Patriots team that ever existed.  He was a five time Pro Bowler and AFL MVP.  He led the AFL in scoring 5 times and one season ranks as the 11th most points in NFL history.  Outside of a bias against AFL and kickers I have to wonder why he hasn't earned a place in the Hall of Fame.  He signed a Patriots helmet photo for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pat Fitzgerald, Don Blackmon, Steve Nelson, Milt Plum, Perry Williams

I have had some great returns recently.  I received a signed photo from Pat Fitzgerald who is the great coach of the Northwestern Wildcats and one of the best players I have ever seen play for the Wildcats.  I loved him and the 95 team and really enjoy rooting for Northwestern now.  He was an awesome linebacker who won many awards.  I feel very lucky to have gotten his autograph.  He also answered my questions- he said the 95 season was the best time of his life as an athlete.  He never wonders what would have happened if he hadn't been hurt for the Rose Bowl.  He says the best part of coaching is player development.  He will soon be Northwestern's all time wins leader.  He said that character is defined as who you are when no one is watching. 

Another return was from Don Blackmon.  He was an excellent linebacker for the New England Patriots and was part of their 1985 Super Bowl team.  He was named to the Patriots All 80s team.  He tied the NFL record for safeties in a season.  He could sack the quarterback as well as a sure tackler.  He said his favorite memory is being a career Patriot.  He said being named to the All 80s team was an unbelievable honor.  He spent time as a coach and his favorite part was strategizing.  He signed a photo for me.

The next return was from another awesome linebacker for the New England Patriots--Steve Nelson.  He started pretty much every game he played in.  He was a three time Pro Bowler and had a nose for the football.  He was also a member of the Pats 85 Super Bowl team.  He has been named to multiple Patriots all time teams and has had his number retired.  Unfortunately he didn't sign my photo (or maybe I forgot to send it LOL) but he was generous to answer my questions.  He said his favorite memory was winning the AFC championship versus the Dolphins.  His favorite part of playing for the Pats was the fans.  The toughest player for him to tackle was Earl Campbell.  He said never giving up was his most important character trait.

Milt Plum was a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.  He performed well for both but his best years were probably with the Browns.  He had one of the best passer rating seasons EVER for a quarterback in 1960.  I mean ever ---in 1960 ---crazy.  He said the most important character trait was honesty.  He signed a Lions helmet photo for me. 

The final return was from Perry Williams, a cornerback for the New York Giants.  He played his entire career with the Giants and had 18 career interceptions with 4 seasons of 3 or more.  He was part of two Super Bowl winning teams.  His favorite memory was being drafted.  His second favorite memory was winning Super Bowl in 1986 with his third favorite memory is winning the Super Bowl over the Bills.  He signed a Giants helmet photo.

Photos to follow later.