Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ray Wersching and Jayson Langfels

I received two returns recently- Ray Wersching (San Francisco 49ers) and Jayson Langfels (Modesto Nuts).  Ray Wersching was the kicker for the 49ers for most of the 80s.  He was very good from less than 50 yards.  He was the hero of the 49ers first Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals as he kicked 4 field goals.  I loved the fact that he would never look up until after the kick.  He would run in from the sideline and never look at the uprights.  He had to have some faith in his holder.  :)  He signed a photo of a 49ers helmet for me.

The second return was from Jayson Langfels who plays for the Modesto Nuts. I saw him play for the Nuts and he had a good game.  It was for my 40th so I thought I would try and get some autographs from players that played that night.  The Nuts are right in the thick of the pennant race and I hope they make the playoffs.  His goal is to make the big leagues.  He is from Kentucky so I of course asked about Kentucky basketball and he said he was a fan and was upset that he missed the celebration in Lexington.  I asked him what he liked about Modesto and he said very that Mexican food was his top choice.  He seems like a nice guy and I hope he reaches the majors when all is said and done. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pete Banaszak, Steve Sylvester, Autry Denson

I received three more returns recently.  The first one was from Pete Banaszak who was an excellent player for the Raiders.  He played 13 years with the Raiders and played in two Super Bowls.  He scored two touchdowns in the Super Bowl victory over the Vikings.  He scored 52 regular season touchdowns.  He was an excellent short yardage back.  His favorite memory is winning Super Bowl XI- he called it the greatest!  I asked him what it was like to play in so many big/name games (holy roller, immaculate reception, Super Bowls) and he said it seems like a dream.  "You don't see games like that anymore!"  The person that had the biggest impact on him was George Blanda who he called the greatest competitor he ever had seen.  He signed a Raider helmet photo for me.

Steve Sylvester was an offensive lineman with the Oakland Raiders and was a starter for the Raiders when I saw my very first NFL game.  That season was the only season where he was a full time starter.  The Raiders had such a great offensive line back then that it was tough to break into.  He attended Notre Dame and was part of the 1973 National Championship team which he called his favorite Notre Dame memory.  His favorite Raiders memory was the Super Bowl victory over the Eagles.  The person that had the biggest impact on him was Gerry Faust, his high school coach.  I asked him if he missed the game and he said that he missed the guys/teammates.  

The last return was an awesome return from Autry Denson. In addition to signing my photo he wrote me a page long letter.  He was glad to know that people appreciated his love for the game and the hard work he put in.  I never understood why he didn't get a better chance in the NFL.  The man is the all time leading rusher in Notre Dame history!!  His favorite ND memories are breaking the rushing record and graduating from the best university in the world.  He thought that graduating was a great way to honor his mother.  I asked if he had any NFL regrets and he said no.  He is coaching at Bethune Cookman and I asked what his coaching goals are.  He said his main goal is to be a positive influence on his players.  He also feels that he will be a head coach at a major college or NFL team.  His response to my character question was a quote: character is what we do when no one else is watching plus reputation is what other think about us, Character is what God and the angels knows us to be.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Daryle Lamonica and pics of recent returns

Hello again,

The Raiders alumni continue to be very good to me.  Today I received the Mad Bomber back on a photo of a Raiders helmet.  I found it interesting that he chose to go to the AFL and the Buffalo Bills rather than go to the NFL and the Green Bay Packers.  He played well for the Bills but really had his best days with the Raiders.  He was named to 5 Pro Bowls and named Player of the Year.  He threw for over 3000 yards three times which was great back then. He twice led the AFL in touchdown passes thrown.  He also had an awesome win loss record with the Raiders.  In response to my character counts question, he wrote that honesty is the most important. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Odis McKinney

I received another Raider in the mail today.  It was Odis McKinney who played for the two Raiders Super Bowl winning teams in the 1980s.  He was a very good cornerback.  He also played for the New York Giants before the Raiders.  He was part of the Miracle at the Meadowlands.  He got his first NFL interception off of Ron Jaworski to "seal" the game or so everyone thought.  If you don't remember, the Giants fumbled trying to run out the clock and Herman Edwards picked it up and ran it back for the game winning touchdown.  I asked Mr. McKinney about how he felt at the end of the game and he said he went from being a hero to a zero.  What a crazy game.  He also said he preferred playing in Oakland than in Los Angeles.  He also loved playing against Kellen Winslow twice a year.  He signed a Raiders helmet photo with the Super Bowl years.

Andrew Walter and Dave Browning

I received two more returns yesterday-both from former Oakland Raiders.  I have spent most of my life living about 30 minutes from the Oakland Coliseum so I am a Raiders fan though they are not my number 1 favorite team--that will always be the Cowboys!

The first return was from Dave Browning.  He was with the Raiders for 5 years.  One of the reasons that I wrote to him was because he was a starter for the Raiders at my first in person NFL game.  It was December 9, 1979 against the Browns.  I am going to try and get autographs from players from that game.  I also wrote to him because he was part of the 1980 Raiders Super Bowl winning team.  I still remember watching that game.  It was exciting for my local team to be in it and win it.  He said a photo of a Raiders helmet for me.

The next return was from Andrew Walter.  I wrote to Andrew Walter for a couple of reasons.  First, I am a fellow ASU alum.  I just missed watching him play at ASU as I graduated right before he got there.  I thought he was an excellent quarterback for the Sun Devils.  I was excited that he was drafted by the Raiders.  I thought it would be a good fit for him but it just didn't work out.  He was thrown in during a bad season and didn't play up to his potential.  But the Raiders were not very good - they ended up with the number one pick.  Instead of giving Mr. Walter another chance, they drafted JaMarcus Russell and we all know how well that turned out.  I wish it would have turned out better for him but he seems to be in a good place.  He said that he just finished his MBA at ASU and is working in Arizona.  His favorite memory was in 2002, the victory at Oregon where they came back from 21 points down to win.  His favorite Raiders memory is throwing Randy Moss's 100th TD reception.  The person that has helped him the most is Jesus Christ.  He signed an ASU Topps Magic card and a Raiders card.

On a side note, a thing that always blows me away is when players will thank me for writing or for the kind things I said.  Here I am sending them unsolicitated mail and they are thanking me.  One of my favorite things in this hobby is when they answer my questions or write something back.  It makes the autograph even a little better.  I am always thankful for any response!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Character Counts

Our school district is doing a program called Character Counts.  I decided to include an index card in my requests and ask what character trait they thought was most important.  Then I turned their responses into a bulletin board.  I have been doing it for about a year.  I touched on this idea briefly in my earlier discussion about Shane Nelson and how his response affected my classroom.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gerald McNeil, Akili Smith, and Adam Eaton

I am going to discuss a return that I got yesterday as well as one that I got back early in the baseball season.  The first return is from Gerald McNeil.  He went to Baylor University and then went to play in the USFL with the Houston Gamblers.  I loved watching the Houston Gamblers with their run and shoot offense.  Of course having one of the best QBs didn't hurt-Jim Kelly.  Mr. McNeil surpassed the 1000 yard receiving mark with the Gamblers.  When the USFL folded, he went to the Cleveland Browns.  He was an excellent return man and made the Pro Bowl.  I had him sign a 1987 Topps card and a picture that I found online.  I really love the picture-it is him returning a kick for a touchdown (was called back) in Cleveland and there is a police officer in the background that is jumping with his arms up.  It is awesome.  He signed both cards with his name and nickname (ice cube).  

The second return was from Akili Smith.  I got him through a private signing on I was born in Astoria, Oregon and as a kid I always thought I would attend the University of Oregon. I love the Ducks and really enjoyed watching Mr. Smith play there.  I rooted for him with the Bengals and was sad to see it not work out.  I don't think he necessarily got a great chance or a second chance (like some seem to always get) but what do I know. LOL  A few years ago I got an extra card from Dan Fouts that he signed.  It is a two sided card with Fouts on one side and Smith on the other.  I sent it in and it came out looking great.  

The last return was from Adam Eaton.  I am not talking about the former major league pitcher but the minor league (hopefully soon major leaguer) outfielder in the Diamondbacks organization.  I really like Adam Eaton and hope that he gets a real shot in the majors.  The only reason that he hasn't already been brought up (in my opinion) is that he is only 5 foot 8 inches.  He is hitting over 380 for the Reno Aces and has stolen a bunch of bases (over 30).  He was an all star last year in single A and this year in triple A.  He has been successful everywhere he has played.  I told him that he was in the perfect place this year because of his coach-Brett Butler.  If anyone can talk to him about the challenges and how to succeed as a smaller ballplayer it is Brett Butler.  One of the reasons I chose to write him was an interview I saw with him online.  He was talking about a bus ride home in the middle of the night and what happened when they came upon construction.  It was funny.  I also found a great picture of him online where he is acting silly in the dugout.  I loved the fact that he is enjoying himself while playing a game.  Mr. Eaton wrote me a note back where he said: He loved Missoula and that it was a great town and team.  His career goals are to be the best player/person that he can be.  The biggest influence on him are his dad and brother Dale.  He plays for them everyday.  
Everyone should root for him to be successful :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fair Hooker and Terrell Buckley

I decided to write my fellow ASU alum Fair Hooker to have him autograph an ASU collection card.  He signed it with a great clean signature.  Mr. Hooker was an excellent wide receiver for ASU.  He had 42 catches for over 660 yards in 1968 and six touchdowns.  He caught 25 passes for 322 yards in 1966.  You have to remember that ASU was not a big passing offense during this time.  In 1968 he amassed half of the passing yards.  He played in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns.  He had some good seasons for the Browns. He caught almost 30 passes or more in three straight seasons and had over 400 yards receiving in each of those seasons.

I also received a return from Terrell Buckley who I loved watching him first at Florida State and then in the NFL.  He was during that great run of cornerbacks that FSU.  In the NFL he had 3 or more interceptions in all but 2 of his seasons.  He returned 6 interceptions for touchdowns plus a punt return as a rookie.  When he intercepted a pass you thought that he might take it back.  I will always remember him with the Dolphins but I am sure that he loved going to the Patriots and winning the Super Bowl.  He signed a Florida State pocket pro for me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Birthday Presents

On my birthday my wife was extremely generous to me.  I received a few autographed items from her plus a box of 1987 Fleer Baseball cards which I will use in my hobby.  One of the autographed items was a Washington Huskies mini helmet signed by Warren Moon with the inscription of Rose Bowl MVP.  I have always wanted to add an autographed piece from Mr. Moon.  I loved watching him play and he was an incredible quarterback.  I loved watching him in Houston and the run and shoot.  It is amazing to think that no one wanted him out of college because of the black quarterback stigma back then.  The helmet really looks great!!  Another item was an autographed 8x10 of Fred Jackson, the excellent running back for the Buffalo Bills.  I love Fred Jackson!  He is a great runner as well as receiver.  He was having such a great year last year before he got hurt.  I find it truly hard to believe that the Bills want to reduce his use so that they can use Spiller more.  No offense to C J Spiller but I think they are CRAZY!  I also got a tristar Dallas Cowboys hidden treasure photo.  The Cowboys are my favorite team so I was very excited about that.  I received Robert Newhouse which was very cool.  I remember watching him play while growing up.  Who can forget his touchdown pass in the Super Bowl victory over the Broncos.  I hope that he is still doing well after the stroke he had last year.   

I also received some money from family and used it to order some other items.  My first was from the Insider Deals from Tristar.  I bought the package that had 3 autographed 8x10s: Ray Guy (best punter I have ever seen!), Jim Otto (met him once when I was a boy and his hands were HUGE), and Ben Davidson (wanted to send to him before his passing but never did).  I have lived most of my life in the Bay Area so it was great to get this deal.  Ray Guy should be in the Hall of Fame and I can't believe that he isn't.  Hopefully this wrong will be one day righted.  I have wanted a photo of Jim Otto for while.  I had thought about buying an unsigned one and sending it to him with his fee.  I still may down the road.  The toll that his playing career took on his body is just amazing.  It definitely demonstrates the dark side of the NFL.  One of the things that I liked about Ben Davidson was that he was on two of my all time favorite shows: CHiPs and Dukes of Hazzard.  I hope he is in peace in heaven. 

The other money was spent at mainlineautographs and Claremont Shows and I will talk about those items when I receive them. 

More Recent returns

Hello again,
     Since we are having our carpets cleaned I have some free time so I figured I would update my recent returns. 
     The first one I will talk about is the great Virgil Trucks.  I have to first send my best wishes to Mr. Trucks as I have read that he took a fall and is in the hospital.  I received my items from him a couple of days prior this.  I really hope he is ok.  He truly seems like a really nice man and I am not saying that just because he signed for me.  I have sent to him before but I had to send to him again because I found this cool artwork greeting card of him.  It is on  It is an artist rendition of him on the mound and you can put whatever you want on the inside.  I put his name and major accomplishments.  He signed it on the inside.  I thought it was an unique item to get signed and included an extra copy for him.  I also had him sign a Ronnie Joyner bio-illustration.  Mr. Trucks wrote me a letter back and in it stated how much he enjoys peoples interest in his career.  I included a donation to his church. 
     Another return was from Bill Stein.  I remember watching him play for the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers.  I always liked his baseball cards because in a lot of them he is smiling.  He just seemed to be a nice guy and that he enjoyed playing baseball.  One of the best is his 83 donruss where he is in the process of fielding a grounder (or it could have been posed) and he is smiling.  I asked him what his favorite memory is and he said playing against Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.  His favorite place to play was Fenway Park.  His former head coach at Southern Illinois Joe Lutz had the biggest impact on his career.  I also asked if he collected baseball cards growing up and he said that he did. 
     I also received a return from Jack Faszholz a former pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals and Rochestor Red Wings.  I read about Mr. Faszholz on the blog baseball interactions.  He is a great story.  He had a great career in the minor leagues and due to the time period and circumstances never really got a great chance in the majors.  I think he would have had multiple chances if he played in today's game.  He set the record for all-time wins for the Red Wings.  The fact that I thought was so cool was that he struck out both Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.  There are probably not too many people who can say that.  Ultimately he had to make a choice between staying in baseball and pursuing his other passion-the church.  During his playing days he was also studying to become a minister.  He chose to leave baseball and work for the church.  He said that although his career was basically in the minor leagues-it's great to look back to competing with players who later ended up in the Hall of Fame.  He also played a season with his brother Gene and he said that it was the most enjoyable season of any he played.  They both had good seasons.  Brother Gene played every inning of every game in 154 game season.  He thinks his brothers numbers would have been better if he had been given some days off.  His favorite biblical passage is Ephesians 2:8-9:  "For by the grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of your own doing, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD - not because of works lest any man should boast."  In addition to signing for me, he sent along copies of newspaper articles for the games he struck out Foxx and Mantle. 
      I turned 40 last week so I have started to do a collection of autographs of players from 1972.  I was looking for players that had done something on the day of my birth or during that year.  One player I sent to was Denis Menke.  (Side Note: one of my peeves with today's game is all the strikeouts!!) On my birthday he walked 4 times in a nine inning game and this was the second time he had done that in a month (no intentional walks in either game).  The high for the year was 5 and those were in extra inning games and included at least one intentional walk.  I thought that was cool and then I come to find out while researching his career that he was born the same day as me (July 21st).  He signed a custom photo for me.  Another player that I received was Bill Stoneman who threw a no hitter in 1972 (also had one earlier in his career).  He signed the same custom photo card for me.  Mr. Stoneman also was the general manager for the Angels and helped build the team that won the World Series over the San Francisco Giants.