They say "Idle hands are the Devil's work." The same can be said when you are not quite tired to go to sleep. This often leads me to sit and surf eBay. This gave me the idea of coming up with a game/project. I will try to find the best deal of the night and not spend more than $1. I will do this once a week for an annual budget not to exceed $52. So right out of the gate I break my first rule and have to spend a whole 4 cents more for this beauty. 2001 Fleer Showcase "Sweet Sigs" autograph of Mike Sweeney.
The Sweet Sig Collection is a 69 card set of 23 players with 3 variants to their card. (A "leather" a "lumber" and a piece of the "wall") Now the actual surface that is signed is not actual a game used item, but was material to simulate the texture of the item. Not that it mattered to me. I rather like having the wood piece signed by the player rather than the standard sticker autograph.
I categorize my views of the hobby and baseball into 3 periods The 60s and earlier are the "Legends Era" It makes up primarily guys I never had the pleasure to see play, or to see them during their prime years. These guys are the ones I only see highlight footage, or read about in books and magazines. Then there is the 70s & 80s which I will term "The Idol Era" These were players I saw growing up, and into my teen age young adult era. There are players that I love that most people do not realize how good they were as time has faded. Then there is the 90s and beyond, "The Statistics Era" No longer looking at it with childhood admiration, but with a eye towards statistics as I had become a huge Fantasy baseball owner. The time when I care more of of the player will help my team more than their own. I will even hold onto cards of guys who stunk it up on my team just to remind me of some of the awful players I have latched onto.
Mike Sweeney is one of those guys I always liked. He came up as a Catcher, but was no better than average when playing that position. He did not flourish until he was moved to 1B/DH in 1999. The funny thing is the Royals were pretty much done with him after proving to not be a very good catcher. They tried to trade him during spring training and found no takers. So they decided to give him ABs at DH since they really didn't have much of an option. Then they lost Jeff King to retirement and had a hole at first base. They wanted outfield prospect Jeremy Giambi to move to first base but he wasn't keen on the idea so they put Sweeney there and what happened? Sweeney became a natural and not only put up some great numbers leading the league in batting and 20+ homers, he also had the best fielding percentage in the past twenty years!!
I had numerous tenures with Mr Sweeney on my team. Probably the most memorable was in 2002 when I paid up big in our draft for Sweeney and he went on to hit .340 with 24 long balls. He also had a clean steal of home plate against the dread Yankees!!!! This was also the first time he went on the Dl, an event that would become a staple the rest of his career. He finished his career as a journeyman and it seems odd seeing him in a Oakland, Seattle, or Phillies uniform. He signed a ceremonial one day contract with the Royals to retire in March 2011. Sweeney has been inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame, but his first year on the National ballot will also prove to be his only appearance as he yielded just 3 votes. Sweeney was also a guy that did a lot of community work. A simple internet search will yield data of various awards Sweeney has received for his work, as well as events Sweeney would run for the disadvantaged. One other cool thing is he is the nephew-in-law to this guy....
I don't need a huge binder of Mike Sweeney cards, but this one is a nice reminder of a guy that found his opportunity and turned it into a admirable MLB career and even greater, his legacy in Kansas City.