All Autograph Team

So Zippy Zappy over at Torren’ Up Cards has ofered up a fun blog bat aorund idea in that he’s challenged everyone to put together their all-time autograph lineup. I’ve gone ahead and changed my side a little so instead of the suggested pitching choices of one starter, 2 relievers, and a closer, I’m going with a left-handed starter, right-handed starter, and closer. I’ve also decided to restrict this to in-person autographs only.

Oh, and the honorable mention lists aren’t comprehensive and only reflect other players who I seriously considered putting in that slot.


Bob Boone 1976 Topps

Bob Boone

Honorable mention: Rick Dempsey

Given my collecting interests, it’s no surprise that most of this lineup is Giants-related. Boone however is an exception. Yes he’s part of my Stanford collection but I got this card signed when my family took a trip to Seattle in 1993* and he was coaching the Tacoma Tigers.

*A trip which I’ve blogged about on here before.

Looking through my signatures, I have a lot of catchers. This is partially because the Giants went through a ton of them when I was a kid* but there are also a decent number of them who became minor league coaches too.**

*Bob Brenly, Terry Kennedy, Kirt Manwaring, and Jim McNamara among the ones whose signatures I got.

**Dick Dietz, Boone, and Dempsey were all minor league coaches.

Of the bunch Boone and Dempsey stand out as roughly-comparable long career, good-player guys but I went with Boone for personal reasons.

1st Base

Will Clark 1987 Topps

Will Clark

I’ve blogged about this card before. First base is a remarkable comparison to my catchers collection. I have very few first basemen represented in my autograph collection. The main reason of course is that Will Clark meant the Giants were very stable at first base when I was a kid—though yes I do have backups like Mike Aldrete and Todd Benzinger in my collection as well.

No honorable mentions here since the only real competition in my collection for this spot I’ve moved to the DH/PH position.

2nd base

Robby Thompson 1987 Topps

Robby Thompson

Honorable mention: Tito Fuentes

Second base is another position at which I have very few signatures. Robby Thompson was the main guy for most of my autograph-collecting years and the nature of the position is such that backups are general utility players. That Robby’s one of four 10+ year players who only played for the Giants will alway make me happy to have his autograph.


Royce Clayton

Honorable mention: José Uribe

I’m also pretty thin at shortstop. Of my in-person guys Clayton’s my best sample and I have fond memories of both him and Uribe. Both of them were fan favorites in their own way though I think Uribe’s legacy lives on through the chant that resurfaced in 2010 with Juan Uribe. Clayton meanwhile was one of the first rookies who I felt like I was truly investing in. I’d seen him play in San José and he looked like such the promising new star when he broke into majors. As usual things didn’t pan out that way but he still had a decent career.

Shortstop though is really the only position where I want to include a purchased signature and slide Ernie Banks in here instead.

3rd Base

Jeff Brantley, Al Rosen, Dusty Baker, Tito Fuentes

Al Rosen

Honorable mention: Jim Ray Hart, Ken Oberkfell, Matt Williams

Okay third base meanwhile is pretty loaded. I probably should’ve gone with Matt Williams but there’s something about Al Rosen that I’ve always liked. I got his signature as the Giants General Manager* and had only a vague sense of him having been a good ball player in the past. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gained a better appreciation and need to pick up a few of his cards.

*More about this ball here.

Left field

Barry Bonds

Honorable mention: Billy Williams

No real contest here but the Hall of Famer or not question did come into play. I don’t need to say anything about Barry but I should mention that this is a photo my mom took so I’m happy to have this specific item signed.

Center Field

Willie Mays

Another obvious choice which needs no explanation. The best player and signature in my collection. Period.

Right Field

Bobby Bonds

Honorable mention: Willie McGee

It’s kind of funny. I’ve a bunch of left and centerfielders in my collection—none of which are close to being considered here. Right field meanwhile is much more wide open yet I have only a few contenders. Bonds is a choice I’m perfectly happy with though as he’s a player I’ve always liked and it was a joy to see him coaching his son as well.

Left-handed pitcher

Vida Blue

Honorable mention: Bud Black, Atlee Hammaker, Bobby Shantz, Trevor Wilson

Going a bit longer on the honorable mentions for the starting pitchers since I was playing with doing a full rotation. Vida Blue though is really the only choice for me here.

Right-handed pitcher

Bob Feller

Honorable mention: Mike Mussina, Gaylord Perry, Luis Tiant, Bob Veale

Another loaded position. Almost, almost went with Moose. Also considered going with a full rotation so as to get Perry and Tiant onto the list as well. In the end though Feller wins out. I’ll do a full blogpost about this ball and his appearance at San José at some point.


Rod Beck

Honorable mention: Mike Jackson

Loved Beck as a personality. And he was great as a closer since he was one of the few I’ve seen who aren’t just strikeout guys. By having such a dominant splitter you knew he could coax key double plays and work out of jams in ways that many closers just can’t.


Orlando Cepeda

Orlando Cepeda

Probably should’ve slotted him in as First Base. Yes it’s entirely appropriate to try and get him into the lineup in a non-ideal position. But there was no way I was going to leave him off this list. Anyway I’ve already written more about him on this blog.

And that’s about it. I’m pretty happy with the lineup as it is. If I were to open up the field to non-in-person autographs, aside from the obvious Ernie Banks inclusion I’d have to figure out how to get Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Hank Aaron, and Wille Stargell into the mix. Let’s just say that I’ve have a stacked outfield.

Thanks for the blog prompt Zippy (or is it Zappy). This was fun!

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at, and the web at

5 thoughts on “All Autograph Team”

  1. Royce! I had a girlfriend back in college who was obsessed with that guy. I gave her an autographed baseball for either her birthday or Christmas. She dumped me decades ago… but if I had to guess… she kept that ball.

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