Sunday, May 31, 2015

A PC Item ... One Year in the Making

Hanging out with Jose brought a happy ending and closure to many story lines in my collection. Among them was something that I had been searching for a very, very long time.

The greatest moment for me in baseball was the 1989 World Series, when the A's crushed the Giants, sweeping them in devastating fashion. This of course, was the year the earth quake hit as well.

I was living in California at the time, and remember being glued to the television for game three at Candlestick park. The introductions were playing, and they showed Willie Mays waving to the crowd.

Then, everything started to shake.

Not just on television, but even where we lived. We lived quite a ways away, but still felt it a bit. It was quite terrifying. So much destruction was caused due to the Loma Prieta earthquake that year. I still remember seeing a bridge collapsing and a car driving off the edge.

In what had seemed to be an eternity, the World Series resumed, and my A's finished the job. Something that went a long ways for me to silence the resident dodgers fan / my best friend at the time. (IN YOUR FACE, DAVID!)

A while back, I picked up a 1989 World Series program, along with some ticket stubs from the '89 ALCS & World Series. I didn't even notice this came with them, but it also had a ticket for BART.

Ehhh...wrong Bart.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit - if you listen to an A's game on the radio, you will hear commercials for them, even today.

This one is special because it notates the World Series.

As a matter of fact, the '89 World Series was named the Bay Bridge Series, since the A's and Giants were so close to each other. On the back of this, you had a place to sign to show that it was yours. Well, here is the back of mine now!

I didn't even know that I had this piece until a few days before the signing. Once I saw it, along with the signature section on the back, I just had to have Jose sign.

So many cool / wacky pictures came out of this series.

One of the crazy hats from the series:

Last year, I was searching for something to add to my collection for my birthday, and I met someone who was very close to the man of steal, Rickey Henderson. This person had what looked to be a gallery full of Rickey gamers. Among these things were some game used baseballs from the 1989 World Series autographed by several members of the A's. These had all come from Rickey.

After doing my due diligence to make sure everything was legitimate, I decided to purchase most all of them. I figured I could re-sell some to get my money back, and (gasp!) even end up having the one I decided to keep for free!

The first few I picked up didn't have all the members; just the "main guys". Then after a while, she decided to let go of 2 that had virtually everyone on them. (YESSS!!!) I spent too much time hemming and hawing about it, and the one I really wanted (with all the signatures) was bought by someone else.

The last one that was available had everyone except for 2 players.

Lance Blankenship and ... you guessed it ... Jose Canseco.

The ball had Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Dave Stewart ... all of the big name, small names and in between names that actually played in that World Series, as well as a few that didn't, such as Bob Welch who passed away last year.

But not Blankenship or Canseco!

I figured I was going to be able to get Canseco, since he makes several appearances. Heck, about 3-4 years ago he was here in Houston and ended up signing for a bunch of people for 3 hours or so for free ... (AND I MISSED IT!!!) Lance, on the other hand, I thought was going to be an issue.

As it turns out, he has a website, so I reached out to the webmaster to see how I could end up getting Lance's signature on the ball. A day later, Lance Blankenship himself wrote me back personally!

Hi Tanner, Give me a call tomorrow.
- Lance B.

This in and of itself was absolutely thrilling! A member of the 89 World Series Athletics just wrote me personally! This was very cool to me. I called, and emailed, and ... no response. That was a major bummer. Oh well, I'm sure he was busy.

As the 25th anniversary of the 1989 World Series Champion A's was coming, I heard some players were going to be signing. As it turns out, Lance was going to be there. I reached out to the A's head office folks, and spoke with a very nice lady who worked there.

This lady ended up telling me to ship her the baseball, and she will get Lance to sign. No need to pay for the autograph or shipping. Just send the ball.

This could potentially be my only opportunity to get Lance to sign, so I did...which much trembling, might I add! This baseball had the potential to be my most prized possession, and here I was shipping it off to someone without knowing anything about it.

Thankfully, the ball came back to me ... and Lance had signed it!

So, here I had a 1989 World Series baseball signed by every single member of the A's, except for my favorite player. How does that happen???

As it turns out, it couldn't have happened any better. I'm sure you can figure out the rest of the story - I went to the signing, and had Jose sign it, to finally complete the piece, after over a year trek. Here it is now - it rests on my desk next to my 89 world series personalized baseball "To my Bash Brother 'Tanner'" (which I had him sign at a show a few years back):

I was able to have him sign just underneath the 89 World Series mentioning so that way I could have that part of it displayed. I handed him the baseball, telling him it came from Rickey's collection and was game used. As he signed it, Jose said "This is worth a lot of money." I told him I agreed, but could never sell it. "Yeah, but still..." he said.

I ended up getting what was the inferior baseball initially, but in the end, it was the best choice. I don't think it could have been scripted any better! How on earth did I run into a baseball that had everyone EXCEPT for him and Lance? How was it that I was in need of Lance's autograph and this had happened just in time for the 25th anniversary of the 89 World Series, where he was going to be signing? The whole thing is positively bizarre ... in a good way, of course!

There is a bit more to this story. I still speak to the lady who is close to Rickey. She was kind enough to offer me a few other autographed items of Rickey for free. I asked if I could send some customs to have him sign, and she was fine with that.

Unfortunately, he was not. He wasn't comfortable with signing the customs, so she sent them back, but sent back a card and a flyer with his signature on it. This was incredibly nice of her. To go along with the signed pieces.

I turned around traded the 2 customs to a Rickey Henderson collector in exchange for a jersey and bat card of Rickey's. Now, I have 2 signatures, a jersey piece and a bat piece to make something down the road with. (STAY TUNED!)

For now though, it was nice to finally finish up my 1989 World Series A's baseball, and exchange words with Jose about it! This is a truly priceless piece to me with a fantastic story to go along with it.

P.S. - Don't worry, folks - I'm not going to be cutting this up!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bash Brothers Custom Card that Isn't Supposed to Exist

Ladies and Gentlemen,
It has been a long time in the making, and is really hard for me not to build this up too much, only to have you be seriously let down in the end.  Just understand that at the end of this, you will think to yourself "pfffbt...that was all?"  (This is me trying to bring your expectations back down.)

Okay, I'll stop going around in circles and get to it.  This might just be one of the most important pieces I have made ever.  Technically speaking, there isn't necessarily a WOW factor.  It doesn't have a player's tooth embedded in it, nor will it make you breakfast or sing to you.

The thing that makes this special, is that this card simply should not exist.

I know, you are thinking to yourself ... none of the cards I make should exist, but this one is different.

Here it is:

What is so special about this?

If you have been a reader of my blog for a while, you know that this is actually a newer rendition of the first booklet I ever put together using a 25 cent A's hat from a garage sale, pizza cutter, exacto knife and elmer's glue stick.  You do remember, don't you?  Here is a refresher if you didn't click the link:

This was before I had access to anything I use now, as well as any game used material.  I was so proud of it.  I started thinking how cool would it be to have this as a higher quality booklet ... but instead of game used pieces, have their autographs.

The problem?

Mark McGwire.

He will flat out not sign ANYTHING with Jose on it.  But don't take it from me ...

See folks?  I wasn't kidding!  He sounds serious, too.  I mean, look at the look on his face and the gratuitous usage of exclamation marks in his word bubble!

This is the face of a man who will not be signing anything anytime soon next to Canseco.

Panini came close to fulfilling the dreams of bash brother fans by producing this card:

But I think they missed the mark ... as in Mark McGwire ... being in a FREAKING CARDINALS UNIFORM!  C'mon!!!!  Bash brothers ... both need to be wearing the green and gold.  If this is the closest we are going to get, I knew I had to take action.

You may remember a few months ago I showed off my McGwire refractor that was autographed thanks to a connection Bluejet66 had.

While I was mega pumped with how this turned out, I confess I didn't tell you the whole story.

You see, while I did have him sign the above card I also had him sign another.  A card that he almost did NOT sign, likely due to suspicion of some sort.

After Big Mac's hesitation, he went ahead and signed!

One can only speculate why he hesitated to sign this, and what was going through his head as to why someone wanted him to sign a baseball card that was of his back.

With as excited as I was about the USA refractor getting autographed, I was MUCH more excited for this, because all I had to do was to get Jose to sign the other piece.  Since I had all the pieces ready, I carefully (without too much sweat) assembled the only on-card dual auto booklet of the bash brothers known to man-kind ... or at least known to me-kind.

Here is what working on it until 3:00 AM last night got me.

I present to you:  The Book of Bash -

I still cannot believe it is done!  Over the past several months, it looked like Mark wasn't going to sign.   Then it looked like Jose might not sign.  Here we are though!  I have it proudly displayed on my desk in a one-touch booklet holder.

This is just another reason why I love creating custom cards so much - a card like this may never exist ... ever, and yet here it is shining on my desk in all of its on-card auto, bash brotherly goodness.

Friday, May 29, 2015

I'm on the Front Page of Beckett Online!

Earlier today, I got an email from Chris Olds, editor at Beckett.   "Check the front page on the site."

Sure enough, front and center, a big picture of the 'stache doing the bash with Canseco!

<insert girly squeal here>

I'm sure it'll be gone in the next day or two, but for now, this screenshot shall live forever!  BWAHAHHAAHAHA!

Okay, that is all.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Story Made it to Beckett Online!

So, it looks like my story was picked up by Beckett! I hope to be in the hard copy magazine as well.

Since they posted a few pics of some customs I had signed, I guess I'll continue on with telling about them!

In typical unorthodox mouschi form, I destroyed $20 worth of Canseco rookies to make a booklet.

At long last, here it is ... autographed! If you don't read the above link, it probably won't make sense, but for cliff's notes, a few people were nice enough to send me some of their beat up Canseco rookies for free so I could hack them up, and make a booklet which included a piece of each major rookie card from Canseco.

Hmmmm, I seem to recall Topps cutting up some weird things too for their latest minor league release.

Anyway, here she is!

Next up, is a card I took cuts from Canseco's 2 books. Here is what it looked like:

When I was done, my wife said "that looks great, but you named it ATHLETES to authors ... where is the baseball stuff?"


So I re-did it and came up with this.

What I used is ALL legit Canseco stuff ... except for the ball. I got that from the game my family and I went to for my birthday. The memories were great enough that I decided to forego using a game used ball I picked up from a game Canseco was in.

So, here it is signed!

It is one of my wife's favorites. It is inscribed 6x All-Star and 2x Author. When he was done with that, he asked "Do you want me to write in Juiced and Vindicated also?"


So he did :)

Oh, and for those of you interested in checking out the beckett writeup, here you go.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Madonna's got nothing on Mrs. Krabappel!

You may or may not remember buried in this post that I had created a Jose Canseco Simpsons card from the episode "Homer at the Bat". I had to re-draw the entire thing to make sure it was nice and clear.

I just had to get this autographed, after I thought up an epic inscription, but I wanted to give a bit of back story on it all.

Remember this lovely lady?

The one and only Mrs. Krabappel.

In the episode "Homer at the Bat", starring Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry and tons of other players, the script called for Jose and Mrs. Krabappel to have a torrid love affair. Jose's wife Esther at the time did not like this one bit, and insisted it be pulled. This put the writers of the Simpsons in a scramble to come up with something else last minute. They instead had Jose go into a woman's house that was on fire to save various objects from the fire.

The whole thing gave me the idea ... what if I had Jose inscribe it "To: Mrs. Krabappel" ??? I would absolutely love that, and think Simpsons / Canseco fans would go nuts over that, given the back story.

So, I handed him the card to sign:

He said "Mrs. Krabappel...that is a strange name." I said "that is the name of the teach..." and he finished my sentence "OH OH OH yeah ... the teacher on the Simpsons, ok!"

Here it is!

To Mrs. Krabappel, Jose Canseco

Step aside, Madonna! It looks like Mrs. Krabappel had his heart back then.

After it was done, I wished it had been signed perfectly in the white area, but what can I say? The man signed 170 or so items ... some are bound to not be perfect.

But then I started to think about it.

What if I redrew Steve Sax's face behind the Isotopes logo (shown at the top of this post), invert it all, erase 80% of the card and print on acetate, then overlay it on the card?

It is worth a try, right?

Here is the final product ... and might I say BAM!!!

It looks just slightly faded in the middle on purpose to have him sign there. I'm really happy how well it turned out. As a matter of fact, it is one of my three favorite inscriptions from that day, next to "Faster than Rickey" and his inscription personalized to me.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chasing Canseco - Best Day Ever

Last thursday morning marked the start of our 4,000 mile / 10 day family road trip.  The plan was to go to hoover dam, the beach in California, LEGOLAND, carlsbad caverns, visit a friend in the mountains, roswell (yes, I am an alien nerd!), the grand canyon and several other things.  The most important one for me, however, was to go to Las Vegas and have my customs signed by my childhood hero, Jose Canseco.

As you may know, the flip quests I do are inspired by the red paper clip story - where one person goes from trading a red paper clip and ends up getting a house.  I didn't want to just flip for a card or cards.  I wanted something different ... something special.  During my last Flip Quest, I thought it would be cool to raise the money to have Jose sign all my customs.

As I was returning from last year's baseball card show, when the thought came in my head driving down the road, I couldn't shake the idea.  Could all these customs I had poured my heart and soul into actually get signed ... in person?  The first customs I had made, I brought to him to be signed at a show here in Houston, and it was cheap, but still cost me $150 total to get 6 items signed, if I recall correctly.

When I got home, I decided to reach out to his manager, and he promptly gave me pricing, terms, etc.  It was way over my budget, so I asked for a "lite" version ... which was more doable.  He mentioned that he would be in the Houston area in a month or so, but for me - that would not work, as I wouldn't have nearly enough items ready to have signed.  Plus, I still had to get my head around the lunacy of having a private signing for ... me.  Whenever you hear of someone doing a private signing, you hear about others coming in and paying for autographs, etc.

Over the next few months, I slowly made a number of other customs, which was very enjoyable.  Sharing my work with everyone online, and hearing all of the compliments has more than made this all worth it ... signed or not.

The next several months were full of uncertainty.  After some things fell through, I began to lose hope that this was going to happen.  There were rumblings that there was a chance he may never do public signings again (which, as far as I know now, are completely baseless.) 

During this time, Jose had shot himself in the finger.  When I first heard of it, all I had heard what that Canseco got shot.  My first worry was that my childhood hero was dead.  Then I heard it was his finger, and was completely relieved, but did wonder how this would affect the signing.  That may sound selfish, but that is where my brain went after I heard that he was okay.  I should probably mention the 30+ suggestions that I received from others about making a card out of his finger - yuck!  I've heard of (and had) some twisted ideas for cards, but that takes the cake.

I made the decision to send the customs to a signing he was having up North.  It would be a tragedy to make all these customs, and not be able to have them signed!  It would have been much better to have been able to show him my art pieces in person, but I didn't want to run the risk of holding out for something that may never happen. 

I figured I'd check with his manager again to see if there was any chance of a private signing to happen, and he simply said something along the lines of "don't send the cards to the signing - wait until in person."  This information came *right* in the nick of time just before I was about to send them out.

Could this signing really happen???

During Jose's home run tour last year, it looked like he was going to be making it to Texas (albeit a long ways away from us).  The plan was to meet up with him there.  His manager called me (the first and only time I spoke to him on the phone, though there are countless emails between us) and told me the details of the event.  He said my son and I could shag fly balls in the outfield during his home run tour!  Yeah, I know there were probably going to be tons of others that would be out there too, and I may not be able to say much to Jose, but how cool would that be!!!  Who gets a chance to shag fly balls being hit by Jose?

I got mega hyped up for this, and as the date drew closer & closer, I grew a little anxious, because I hadn't heard anything.  About a week before we were about to leave, I emailed to ask for the details so we could wrap up our plans.  He wrote and said the promoter cancelled. 

Sadness.  Frustration.  Pure, all out bummed-outness.

Just like that, I was a week away, and yet again - my dreams were dashed.  I reached out to his manager again to see when Jose would be in the area.   Over the next several months, several things fell through.

My wife mentioned to me "why don't we see about driving to him?"  (She is a road-tripaholic).  His manager said that would work, and after about a month, we figured out the day.  The whole thing was nerve-wracking due to what had happened in the past. 

A week out, I emailed to confirm, and his manager said yes Saturday is a "go".  I didn't know where I was to "go", but I knew that we were going.  He said he would let me know where the signing would happen later.  I need to explain a bit of how this felt.  It was like I was playing a video game, and got to a really hard part where I always die (a week away from leaving).  Once he said yes, I felt like I had beat another level. 

During this week, I felt an urgency to get everything ready, and to almost have a "script" ready of what to sign, how, what pen, etc.  Knowing that all that would be out the window, and out of my head anyway, once I was with Canseco, if it truly was happening.

Here are a few pictures of some prep work I did involving the game used bat I cut up.

I decided to lacquer up some pieces so the signature would look better on them.

I also LOVE how black bat barrel pieces look, so I figured, why not? I inked some of them!

From there, I wanted to make sure Jose would sign only in areas of the bat pieces that would work well for creating a card, so I mocked up some blanks and mounted the pieces in them ...

I see lots of jumbo bat barrel cards in my future!

I also decided to do some instructions on some to make sure I didn't forget.  Some of these inscriptions are what you have seen before, while others are inscriptions that have not been seen by Canseco before.

If you recall last year on my flip quest, I showed several teaser pictures of my purchases, but did not reveal what was in them

These boxes had memorabilia for me to have Jose sign.  There it is - the big mystery is revealed!

When all was prepared, I took all the customs and memorabilia to be signed, and loaded it all up in a green tub

The time finally came for us to leave.  As the start of our road trip began, I couldn't fathom that we were on our way to have Jose Canseco sign several things of mine.  Don't stop reading yet, because this does get a little bumpy.  I had a hard time swallowing the fact that I was driving halfway across the United States without a definite meeting place and time. 

Yes, that's right - we had no idea where we were going, or what time - but when this opportunity pops up, you don't dilly-dally - you GO FOR IT!

Still, there was a lot of doubt and concern.  What if, when we get there, (after 20+ hours of driving) he cancels?  What if I just never hear from his manager?  What if Jose has to make some sort of trip out of state for a more pressing obligation? 

And then more thoughts came to mind - what if Jose was in a bad mood and just signed everything then walked off?  What if he signed with shades on and ear buds in?  What if he was just a cold jerk that would not be willing to do any inscriptions I had requested?  What if the private signing takes place in public, and he spends the entire time talking and signing for others who come up to him?  I had no reason to believe any of these things, but I always do end up painting various worst case scenarios in my head. 

After driving for 20+ hours, you have a lot of time to think about these things (not to mention the year leading up to this!)  As you can see, there are a billion things that could go wrong here.  Would I be having a fire sale of my beloved Canseco collection if he is horribly rude to me and my family?  What would happen then?  How would that affect the rest of the trip for me?  How would I feel about the incoming cards that would await for me at home?

(Actual picture of incoming cards I had waiting for me.)

Day 1 meant 13+ hours of driving to Albuquerque, and in the middle of this, we were met with a massive hailstorm that you would swear shattered our windows if you could listed to how hard we were being hit, but thankfully that wasn't the case.  My wife thought a tornado was coming, because the rain and hail were going sideways.

We got to a gas station at night, where someone was walking their horses.  I've never seen 3 horses at a shell station before.

Oh yeah, this wasn't a shell station though ....

We all got a little snicker out of that.  We made it to our five star hotel which was $500/night (or was it 2 star for $50 a night?  I forget...) and were able to sleep pretty well.  I'm still concerned that we are now nearly 900 miles away from home, and no word from where, when or how we will be meeting up with Jose.  This whole thing still seems like a pipe dream.  While we had a bunch of fun things planned, it surely would put a damper on the whole trip if the signing doesn't go through.

After a long first leg of the trip, I emailed his manager and said that I would be booking a las vegas hotel in the morning, and will send him the address so Jose can either meet us there or we can meet him wherever he wants. 

At this point, I really just wanted to hear something ... anything from him. 

We went to bed, and I woke up - an email from his manager! 

"I will let you know where Jose wants to meet."

Talk about a HUGE sigh of relief!  This is huge for me.  I am still on his radar.  At least I had heard something, so it sounded like it was still on.   Another level in this video game complete!

We continued driving to a much more doable 570 miles to Las Vegas.  This leg of the trip (day 2) was not nearly as scary as day 1, but we did have some very interesting things happen.  Small victories continued to be proclaimed each time we crossed a state line, and our son's illustrated map of the United States continued to be checked off with every passing different license plate.  (We checked off all but Rhode Island.)

As we went through Arizona, my wife was asleep in the passenger seat.  I looked over to the left and saw some white sand  .... but it wasn't sand.  It was snow!  How the heck was snow here when we are a mere few weeks away from Summer?  If you are from down south, you can probably imagine our shock.  Otherwise, not so much.  I woke up my wife and told our son to look out the window - it was only a few patches but this was unfathomable to us all. We expect near-unbearable heat awaits us in Houston within a matter of weeks after we return...and here we are seeing snow. 

As we climbed higher and higher in elevation, the snow got thicker and thicker, until it looked like we were driving through a winter wonderland.  Years from now, if we looked on these pictures, we may mistake them for Christmas time. 

We decided to pull over and throw snowballs at each other & make a small snowman ... in our shorts and flip flops.  This all lasted for about 10 minutes, and about 10 minutes after that, our hands & feet thawed out.  After a while, it started snowing!  That was very cool, because as you drive through the snow, it looks very "matrixey" - it looks like rain is hitting you in slow motion.  I was worried we were going to be stuck in some nasty weather, but our trek took us to lower elevation, and the snow had subsided. 

My wife had organized a get together with some other mom's and their kids to put together things that are called "blessing bags" - these are bags that are filled with items to give out to homeless people.  She decided it was a good idea to bring some on our trip - it was a very good call! 

In Arizona, as we were passing a bus stop, we saw a woman who was holding up a sign so we decided to turn around into the parking lot and pull one out for her.  Just like that ... our car SHUT DOWN.  It was driving fine, and then it just ... stopped.  WAS THIS IT?  Was this all for the trip?  Was the signing not going to happen thanks to our car?
Nope.  It cranked right up again (Thank you, Lord!)

After a few more hours of mundane driving (my wife had taken the wheel for a while) I received an email from Jose's manager ... GULP ... was he going to cancel?  What was going to happen?  Here is basically what it said:

"Jose wants you to come to his house at 12 for the signing.  Here is the address..."


I just started laughing.  My wife asked me what I was laughing about and I just told her his address. 



Together:  "AAAHHHH!!!!!"

This trip just got significantly better ... for all of us.  My wife and son went from excited for me to excited for all of us.

What the heck is happening here?  Did my favorite baseball player ... the person who was previously the FACE of the best sport on the planet ... just invite my family over to his house?!

That one email took this whole trip from a mission to get autographs, to a potential life experience that could far eclipse getting my customs signed.  A lottery winning.  I had spent this whole past year so focused on getting my customs signed and "finished", I hadn't really thought about how amazing it could be to actually get to hang out with him for a bit. 

During the drive, I modified all my fears to match a potential reality.  What if this had happened:  I meet him in his garage ... shades on ... ear buds in ... sign things quickly and barks get off my lawn!

Either way though, going to his house - regardless of how cranky he may be or how rushed it might feel - is still beyond cool.  Needless to say, I don't remember much of driving after that.   

After proclaiming that day two was a much, much better drive, (even without that news!) we made it to our hotel. 

This one was awful. 

The hotel was attached to a casino, so the music was easily heard from inside our room, you could easily hear one of the many ... "professional women" in the area earning her keep from the next room over, and there was a good sized gap from the bottom of our door to the ground. 

It was so bad, it was laughable.  What idiot decided to pick a hotel attached to a casino anyway?  Oh yeah...I better not answer that.  (Me.  It was me.) 

It was such a strange atmosphere - no matter where you were in this area of Vegas, it was like you would breathe in cigarette smoke - whether you were in a hotel room, outside on the sidewalk or, at a gas station or even in a non-smoking area of a restaurant ... there was always a distinct smell & taste of smoke. 

I can't begin to say how odd it was that this put me in a bad mood even though I had gotten the best news ever.  I knew we had pre-paid for 2 days to stay there, and I just couldn't go through with it.  Thankfully, we were able to get a refund for night two.  The crazy-loud a/c in our room was a God send, as it drowned out all of the horrendous night life and allowed our sub consciousness to focus on the loud, repetitious droning. 

After eating, we decided to drive and look for a place to purchase ear plugs from.  The lights of Vegas are absolutely beautiful - it is an incredible sight to behold.  I would like to think of Vegas, for my taste anyway, to be awesome in the sense of how a Tyrannosaurus Rex is awesome.  I love seeing it, but wouldn't want to live in it, though I know I am probably in the minority of people!  (About the Vegas thing, not the T-Rex thing.) 

I went to bed in a much better mood because I knew the next day, I was going to Jose's house!  I woke up staring at the over-sized clock showing 5:00 AM in big red characters.  Immediately, my math kicked in.  7 hours.  7 hours until I am at his house!  Surely my stomach would be in 1,000 knots and I'll likely not be able to speak English while I'm there, but in 7 hours I'm to be at his house!

We went to eat breakfast, and I told my family that though we are 30 minutes away, I'd like to get an hour start to just make sure that we get there on time.  Even if we have to park down the street for 30 minutes like creeps. 

About 10:30, an hour and a half from the signing, I got a text. 

From the manager.


"Can u make it at 11 instead of 12?"

This really got me all knotted up.  Is this an ultimatum?  If I couldn't make it then, would it not happen?

I told him we hadn't even checked out yet and are a half hour away (that was being generous as I don't know where to go even ... what if I were to get lost?)  I said I think I can make it at 11:30, so he writes back:

"Okay, I'll tell him you are on your way and will be there at 11:30.  Please hurry!" 

That one text turned my morning from one of fairly peaceful preparation to that of total chaos.  We hastily packed up everything, checked out, got directions and started driving. 

Was this whole "get there ASAP!!!" text foreshadowing of how hurried/rushed/cranky Jose may be?  Head down, shades on, ear buds in, sign, sign, sign, and get out. 

After a mere single wrong turn, we finally got there (with a few minutes to spare).  It was a beautiful house, but I don't think I was paying much attention.  The garage door was ....


(Just a tiny portion of his house (and color changed) shown below of what we saw when we pulled up - not sure if he'd want an actual picture of his house online!)

This means that I was going to be going to the door of Jose Canseco's house!!!

I brought my huge tub of items to be signed to come inside, and after I rang the doorbell, I heard dogs barking inside.  There was a massive elephant tusk piece of art on the porch.  It seemed like it took forever for the door to be answered.  I looked back at my wife with a "I just rang Jose Canseco's doorbell!" look while she was grinning from ear to ear.

After a while, the door opened.  Leila answered the door! 

I admit, I had often thought about this scenario would play out.  Would Leila be there?  How would she act?  A lot of times, you can think of models as possibly being rude, cold, self-absorbed, etc.  I knew nothing about her, or even if she would be there, and here she is opening the door to let us into their home.  I don't know much about her at all, but it was beyond surreal to see her in person, opening the door.

As we walked  inside, there he was.  The incredible Cuban hulk - the man who I invited to my 9th birthday 26 years ago, and didn't come.  The guy who was the best player in baseball when I was growing up just invited me over to his kitchen table. 

He cleared off some space on the table and I lugged my huge tote onto the table.  I started off by giving him a deck of cards I made for him.

You remember this picture from a recent posting, right?  I didn't say anything about it, but here!

"I know you like poker, so I made these for" 

I gave them to him and as he shuffled through them.

"Are you serious?  Whoa!  These are cool!  Leila!  Come here and take a look at these!" 

Leila came over and looked through them.  "Wow, these are really cool!  They came out very nice!" 

Jose told me he has friends come over every week or two to play poker, and they will be using the deck I made for him.  Later on, I told him to look at the back of the playing cards.

"Ha!  Tanner!" 

Yes, folks - he said my name...AND he will be using them with his friends to play poker!

I'm very glad I made these for him because he was incredibly happy with them.  As I got out some things to sign, the whole situation was nerve-wracking for a while.  I knew that, thanks to the text I got earlier, he was in a BIG hurry, and I did NOT want to put my favorite baseball player in a position where he had to throw me out. 

Every piece I had for him to sign had a note stating what type of pen to use, what to say, etc.  The first piece I had him sign was a Triple Threads type of card that was to be signed in silver.  I gave him the WRONG pen to use and the signature came off horribly. 

NOOOOO!!!  I asked if I could use his sink to see if I could quickly clear off the bad signature from my poor choice in pens.  He said sure, and he went to put on a baseball game to watch while we were doing the signing. 

All that time spent making the card, and all that pressure to get done fast, and here I was - at his sink, carefully, yet feverishly rinsing off the card.  It ended up coming off and he was able to put a better signature on it.  It didn't come out perfect, (as is the case with a few pieces) but that is to be expected - there were about 165 pieces to be signed!

After this, things went more smoothly.  My wife and son were talking with Leila the whole time, and she even brought them outside in the back yard to see their tortoises (not to mention their dogs who were already inside.) 

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Leila - not that I had any reason to think otherwise, but I always seem to have a "worst case scenario" view of situations like this.  She was so sweet to us all, offered us drinks, chatted with my wife the whole time - they hit it off very well, and even fed the tortoises - which, by the way - are awesome!

Some of you already knew I was trying to get a signing with Canseco.  What you didn't know though is that I brought over several jerseys, hats, batting gloves, fielding gloves and cleats not to just sign, but to wear.  This was half of the excitement for me.

If you know me, you know that the important part of a game used card is that it is worn by the player mentioned - not necessarily that it was in a game.  If you have a problem with this, then you probably should not be collecting any card put out by any company with a piece of jersey or relic in it.

As I look at the back of a 2015 Gypsy Queen jersey card of Ian Kinsler on my desk, what I see on the back is this:  "The relic contained in this card is not from any specific game, event or season."

Was this even used in a game?  Did Kinsler even wear it?  Topps never claims it in writing on the back, so we will likely never know.  It is still a cool card though, but we have no guarantee it was game used or player worn.

Even with more specific writing, many card companies have been caught saying game used when it was not, as well as not even worn by the player.

- Stories have been told where teams would tell players to put on and take off jerseys then sell to companies as game used.

- Pictures have surfaced where players were putting on tons of jerseys on top of each other in front of what I believe were the card company representatives.

- Worn jerseys from photo shoots / draft events have been routinely used in cards.

The list goes on.  If you haven't heard of these sorts of things before, google it and prepare to not believe in santa clause or the easter bunny anymore, either.

As long as card companies are honest, then I'm perfectly fine with the photo shoot or training worn jersey/relic cards.  For me, my goal is to be 100% sure that my jersey/relic cards of Canseco were in fact worn by Canseco, and that is truly what made the whole thought of this trip special for me.

To get to how I came up with having him wear items, you have to go back to last year, when I started making custom cards.  Let's face it:  Canseco patch cards are pricey, and I don't know if any exist outside of A's and Devil Rays patch cards.  I know Upper Deck used a Devil Rays jersey for a few cards, (one of them showing him on the White Sox) but the rest are A's patches ... if you can find them.  Jose was signed by 7 other teams.  The Rangers, Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels and Expos.  He never played for the last 2, but was signed by them. 

When I had thought about doing this, I had a hard time sleeping - when I watched a baseball game, all I could see are players running around wearing all of this beautiful patch material.  How unfortunate that my favorite player is no longer playing, and I could not physically witness if a jersey was truly worn by him or not, since the last time he played was 13 years ago.  Plus, all you really can find are A's jerseys. 

Don't get me wrong!  I LOVE the A's - but as a big Canseco fan, the other 8 teams he signed with are very important to me.  How can my collection be complete when there are little to no patch cards of the other teams he played for?  I'm sure there are some out there...I mean, how can there not?  But I have not seen any. 

At the end of last year's flip quest, I started researching and hunting down properly sized and branded official jerseys, hats, batting gloves, fielding gloves and cleats.  It took a LOT ... and I mean a LOT of work tracking down them all.  I was able to get a proper jersey and hat for every single team he signed with - some had multiples just so I could utilize different patches to use as well. 

Here is a pic of many of the jerseys:

Jose wearing these items was a very, very big deal to me, because this does 2 things:  1) It legitimately (just as other card companies have done) gives me an amazing amount of player-worn material to work with from all teams he played on, and 2) I would be able to see him wearing these jerseys first hand, so I would know for sure that Canseco wore them.

I had a good bit of anxiety on this part of the deal - what if he said no?  What if he didn't want to play dress up?  The whole reasoning behind me collecting these jerseys and getting them signed was to be able to create a large amount of custom cards primarily for my collection.  I don't want to just cut up a jersey that he merely signed!  I want to use jerseys that have been worn by him.  Yes, I know that sounds creepy, but if you are a player collector, I'm sure you understand :)  Relax, people - I did not ask for him to try on any pants, underwear, etc.  My wife wouldn't let me. 

I first pulled out the fielding gloves.  I brought 3 of them - one being a lefty, because I had no idea if his finger was in good enough shape to wear one.  The good news was - his finger looks great, so he put on one, and started banging the middle of it with his fist. 

"Man, this is a really good glove!" 

He kept saying how he liked it, and then the unthinkable happened...

"I might have to trade you one of my game used gloves that I use in baseball games nowadays for this." 

WHAT?!?!?!?  Jose Canseco just asked if he wanted to trade me MY baseball glove for one of his game used gloves?!?!?!?  You have got to be kidding me!!!

I told him I'd love to trade, but if he wanted it, he could just have it ... yet, I added again that I would love to trade!  Later on, he mentioned he had hoped that it was a bit bigger in size, so I prepared myself for the deal not happened.  But then, he hops up, grabs a glove and trades me, saying he knows he can make it work. 

Here we are enjoying our new gloves ...

To make things even better, he asked for a specific marker I had, and laid down the most perfect inscription, inking it up really well.  He said he used it to pitch with and play third base as well.  I promised him this is one glove I would not be cutting up.  He said "Yeah, do not cut this one up!"  Are you kidding, Jose?  I'm taking this to my grave!  (I didn't say that, but that is what I was thinking.)

Contemplating what to inscribe for me ...

Aha!  I've got it...


After this, Jose started to educate us all on how to properly break in a glove - he even put his new glove from me in the microwave, talking to us about how to break it in properly, telling me he will probably work on the glove for about an hour, and it will be ready for his next game. 

As awesome it is that he traded me, it is also awesome that he will be using my glove to play with in his future games!

He put on his cleats, but they did not fit well at all, but in his chair starting doing a funny tap dance with them on.  It was great - we all got a kick out of that!  He said his feet have grown, and apparently after looking it up on google - that is a common occurrence!  I called my son over and showed Jose his feet. 

"Wow, you are going to be tall!"  Jose said.  My son answered "That or I'm going to be a hobbit!" 

LOL!  My son. 

Later on, I had him sign one of the cleats in a few different spots that were masked off so they would fit in cards.  The other, I wanted a special inscription which I will not cut up (especially since Jose insisted to put it in a spot bigger than it could be cut!)

Jose Canseco
Faster Than Rickey

How classic is that?  In his book, he mentioned that he could beat Rickey Henderson in a race, and when I asked him again, he confirmed by saying that when they would race for (I don't recall the length) he would win, every time.  It might as well say Faster than a Speeding Bullet.  I am a big fan of Rickey as well, so it is a cool piece to have.  I had actually thought of the "Faster than Rickey" inscription the night before in the hotel.  I'm glad I thought of it! 

He tried on all the hats while my wife and Leila were talking, so she wasn't taking any pictures of these, but as it was time for the jerseys to be put on, Jose said we should go in the backyard for this, and I believe he said something about taking pictures of them.   My wife got to take pics of him wearing each one.  He was great and posed for each picture.  I can't believe the man is 50 and in such great shape.  He looks like he could still play on the major league level! Here are just a few pics ...

I had him put on the last one (the A's jersey) so I could pose with him as I was wearing an A's jersey as well.  After we were done, I was a bit worried about taking too much of their time, but he was very leisurely and was talking to us about all the neat animals they have coming in their backyard.  His backyard and home, by the way - absolutely gorgeous.  The view from the backyard was phenomenal, but what else would you expect, right? 

I then had him sign each and every letter on each and every jersey for teams he played for.  I have ALWAYS loved "By the Letter" cards, but was disappointed that they were not worn by the player, but rather manufactured.  I loved that Topps came out with "Own the Name" cards, but was disappointed they weren't signed.  Well, now I have both!  I have player worn AND signed letters for EACH letter ... for EACH team he played on.  This was something that was a big, big, big driving force for me to get this whole thing done.

My allotment for autographs that I had purchased in this deal was coming to a close.  I didn't want to overdo it at all, and Jose certainly was not keeping track.  He was basically just doing everything I requested.  I did tell him though that I did not pay for 2 of the jerseys to be signed on the letters and asked if he had time, if I could pay him more to sign them as well. 

"Pshhh please ... don't worry about that!  I'll sign them all for you, no problem.  Heck, you made me a really awesome playing card deck."  Contrary to what others may seem to think about him, to me, his response to this did not make him sound like a jerk or someone who was hard up for cash.  He could have easily said sure I'll sell you more autographs for a few hundred extra, but he didn't - he just did it for free, and happily so. 

Some of the cards caused him to ask questions.  Like my request to have him inscribe H.R. #500 5/9/03 - I told him this was a "what if" card and told him that date coincides with my birthday.   He then understood and signed it while tell me if he had one more year in baseball, he would have gotten to 500.  I agree with him!

Having him sign all of the cards from my custom collection became a bit of a nightmare at the time - he was great, but I had cards outside of their holders so they could dry - they were all over his counter, kitchen table, etc.  Holders were mismatched, and at this point, virtually impossible to put back together within a reasonable amount of time.

During the signing, he mentioned something about showing us some home runs of his that he guarantees we have never seen before - monster shots.  This was something I was very much so looking forward to, but was still concerned about time.  When the signing was done, he went to get a disc his father had made him of some interviews and some of the home runs he had hit.  It didn't work because he only had a blue ray player, so I suggested that I bring inside my laptop to play it, and he said okay. 

We popped in the disc and watched the whole thing together while he was narrating.  One part of the dvd that we watched, there was a piece of interview that Jose was wearing the game used batting practice jersey I had gotten a few months ago.  You know - the one with the pills in the pocket.  My wife said to me "Hey, isn't that the jersey you have?"  And Jose said "Yup, that is the same one!"

Prior to this, I had him sign 1994 Batting Practice Jersey or something similar, if I recall correctly.  As I was putting it up, I said "yeah, here is that Rangers jersey" and he said "yup, that is the one!"  The home runs he showed us were even more incredible than that 89 ALCS 5th deck home run at the skydome.

Before we started watching, Leila had just made cupcakes, and she & Jose offered us some.  When Jose Canseco offers you cupcakes, you do NOT say no.  BTW, they were DELICIOUS. 

After the watching the home runs, he had talked to us about home run length, bat speed, size, etc.

Then, he had us come upstairs.

Yeah - this was totally not what I was thinking.  Remember when I thought he was going to have us in his garage?  Not only is he allowing us in his home, he is bringing us upstairs!  While we are following him upstairs, he still has the glove on that I traded him, and shows us his poker room.  Two AMAZING poker tables were in there - one of which had some incredible artwork done of him.  He said he loved the cards I made him again, and put them on the table for my wife to take a pic.  He fanned them out and said "Here is a better shot for you."

We had a seat at his card table, and he kept talking about the glove, then we ended up playing cards!  That was a blast - I played several hands of blackjack with Jose Canseco. 

My wife asked for another picture of us, and I was reminded about ... THE BASH.  How can I leave without a picture of doing the bash?!?!

I put my arm in the wrong place and Jose re-positioned my arm a few times.  It was a rookie mistake on my behalf, not having ever bashed with Canseco before.

When we were done, we went downstairs for me to pack everything up an go.  He insisted we take several of the cupcakes with us on our trip, and I had asked for him to autograph one for me.  I was kidding, and thankfully he knew that because I wouldn't have been able to have brought myself to eat it!  The cupcakes he sent with us lasted a total of 30 minutes or so between my son and I.

As we walked out the door, I thanked him for having us over, and we walked out to our car to leave. 

But my wife left our keys and her phone on the poker table upstairs.  YIKES!!!!

I rang the doorbell again, and Jose answered with Leila this time. 

"I'm so sorry - my wife left our keys and her phone upstairs." 

"Oh, no problem, come on in!" 

So, I scurried up the stairs to retrieve them while they were still in the kitchen.  I shook both their hands and thanked them again while we left. 

I STILL am in shock that this is how everything went.  All jersey letters got signed, all jerseys, hats, gloves and cleats were worn.  I traded with him, ate his cupcakes, played cards with him and watched his home runs with him narrating for us. 

The entire signing and such probably would have taken 30 minutes, but he had us over for over 2 hours!  For me, the verdict is in - both he and Leila are very hospitable, warm people who went above and beyond what my expectations were.  Even though I hadn't really factored Leila into this whole signing thing much, I am very grateful to her with how friendly she was with my wife, son and I. 

Initially, getting my customs signed and having him wear everything was something I had considered to be the pinnacle of my collecting "career".  Something that could never be topped.  But in the end, the intangible experience of hanging out with him for over two hours at his house far eclipsed that.

Still in shock. 

I don't think I'll be riding off into the sunset anytime soon though, never to be heard from again - among the several items he signed were "blanks" and game used bat pieces.  Many with inscriptions that you won't find anywhere else.  These items will be used to create more customs.  I am ecstatic that I have so much material to create lots of NASTY patch cards and nameplate sets.

While I was a big collector and fan of Jose (and still am), I am also now very happy to call him friend. 

If you are reading this on a forum, I'll be sure and post pictures of the cards I had signed periodically, so stay tuned!