I hate trying to call a particular trade my favorite. It’s similar to choosing between Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford as my favorite Ray, or saying I like my dog more than my cat, it just doesn’t seem right. That said this trade that I made with Jeff from Closet Full of Cardboard is a damn great trade. Jeff is a Rays fan, just like me. He is a regular at the Trop and that makes him pretty damn cool in my eyes. The player he collects is Carl Crawford. This can make trading rough. I found this out trying to trade with Paul of Carl Crawford Cards. He and I chase the same cards and we have never hit a point where both of us have doubles that the other one needs. Jeff hasn’t been chasing Crawford for quite as long as Paul has, so I was able to find a few cards he needed, plus he collects another base stealing legend named Rickey Henderson. I had a Henderson relic and bam, we had ourselves a trade. I am going to make this one a two-parter as I am going to have a separate post for ALL of the Jonny Gomes cards that I have received this month. Jeff sent me some nice and shiny Gomes cardboard and so have many of you, so those will warrant their own post. I have mentioned before that I am starting a journey to collect an autograph of every single (Devil) Rays player ever, on-card, in a Rays uniform. Since Jeff has been a Rays fan just as long as I have-we’ve been down since ’98 baby! He had quite a few ballpark autos that he was willing to share. At the time he sent these, I only had 30 Rays autos, now I am over 50! I dedicated a site to my Rays auto quest; the link is on the side-bar. Anyway, Jeff sent me THIRTEEN autos as part of our trade. Every single one of these was brand new to me and suddenly my collection looks a whole lot better. Not every one is in a Rays uniform, but those are technicalities that can be fixed later…
Here we go!
We’ll start off with Aubrey Huff. This one was huge for me because Huff had some pretty big offensive years with the Devil Rays. I’ve heard that he is a pretty good TTM signer, but whenever I write to him, he gets traded, so…
Now we have another guy who got traded this year just weeks after I wrote to him. He will always be famous for striking out to end the 2008 World Series, but he was really a fav of mine. I need to upgrade this into a Rays uniform, but its pretty cool like this for now…
Randy Winn was an original Devil Ray and one of my favs back then. He was an All-Star and is one of the only, if not the only original D-Ray still in the big leagues.
Dewon Brazelton took a no-hitter further into a game than anyone in a D-Rays uniform. He’s still only 29 years old, and he’s still pitching in an Independent League.
Nick Bierbrodt has had an unusual baseball career to say the least. He spent parts of three seasons with the Devil Rays, he was shot in the arm (twice), played baseball in China and is now is also playing Independent League ball. He owns a career 6.66 ERA.
Robert Fick played one season with the Devil Rays in 2004, hitting .201 with 6 homeruns. Before that, he was an All Star in 2002 with the Tigers. He is also playing Independent League ball.
Danys Baez was an All Star for the Devil Rays in 2005 when he saved 30 games. Now he is on the Baltimore Orioles and must have an amazing agent because he makes 7 million a year to pitch middle relief and serve up home runs. This is another great auto, but needs to be upgraded to a D-Rays card.
Toby Hall spent 7 seasons with the Devil Rays and is still in the team’s career record books in a few categories. He was a tough catcher with a creepy moustache. I think he is semi-retired right now. I have a bunch of cool cards of Hall, but I couldn’t find a TTM address for him, now I don’t need to.
Chris Gomez has had an amazingly long MLB career that included a couple of years with the Rays. I remember seeing him at Orioles spring training camp this year, but that was long before I decided to start this quest. I think he got cut and I don’t know what he is up to right now. He signed this card in red sharpie, I think it is the only Rays card I have signed in red…
Tanyon Sturtze was the Devil Rays opening day starter in 2002 after he won 11 games for them in 2001. 2002 was not such a great year for Sturtze though. He was 4-18 for the Devil Rays and led the league in every thing a pitcher DOESN’T want to lead the league in-losses, walks and runs. He does have a very signature though… As an end note, as a sub-collection, I am seeking to get an autograph of every Devil Rays starting pitcher, too. Sadly, Joe Kennedy is no longer with us. I would really like to include him in this collection though. He was a great player and a fine person. If anyone has an auto of Joe that they would share, I would GREATLY appreciate it.
Brent Abernathy looks terrified in this picture. As a card photographer, I’ve had a few shots that look like this. The photographer has Brent cornered in the dugout with no way out! He manned second base for the Devil Rays for 3 years and his claim to fame is that he earned a walk to ruin Derek Lowe’s perfect game against the D-Rays in 2002! He earned Gold with the US Baseball Team in 2000 and is another guy hanging on in an indy league. I think he plays for the Long Island Ducks who have quite a few talented ex-big leaguers on their roster.
Next up is Jason Tyner. He is one of those guys that I thought would be huge. The guy could fly! He stole 31 bases for the D-Rays in 2001. He never did hit a homer for them; in fact he had only one home run in 8 big league seasons.
The final card out this amazing bunch of cards is of another former Devil Rays second baseman, this one being Damian Rolls. Rolls spent 5 years with the Devil Rays batting .248, hitting 9 home runs and driving in 73 runs. He is another one play indy league ball, he is a member of the Kansas City T-Bones.
Well, there ya have it folks. Thirteen new Rays autos and that doesn’t even cover everything Jeff sent. A huge thank you to you sir, I hope everyone checks out his blog, Closet Full of Cardboard, follows it and reads it. I have many more cards to scan if I am ever gonna catch up on trades. Thanks again! If anyone out there has any extra Devil Rays autos, certified, in-person or TTM that they can share, I promise to give them a good home! Go Rays! Troll out.