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The Oddball Insider E-Zine

November, 2006 - Vol. 7, No. 11  Issue #128

  • Knuckleballs by Dave Clark
  • Autograph Hound by Marc Schoder

  • Read previous issue

    KNUCKLEBALLS, By Dave Clark - Knuckleball HQ

    Stats Just Wrong

    I'll give a co-worker credit for one thing: he keeps track of his gambling wins and losses as well as how much he's ahead or behind. That beats most gamblers. Despite his dab of wisdom, there is no sports gambler out there who gets far, consistently out-foxing the handicappers and experts. Still, this doesn't stop most people from making predictions. No harm in living in anticipation of a home-team win, but how many cling to stats in addictive faith is often as fun to examine as a game post-game. To attempt to have a gambling livelihood based upon stats, though, is a sure thing only if you're a bookie.

    Know anyone who would have taken the Arizona State-Texas Tech women's basketball game being called on account of rain?

    Know anyone who would have guessed that the Red Sox would have bid so much to talk to the Dice-Man that Scott Boras would realize there wasn't a lot left in the deal for him?

    How about Jacksonville running up huge lopsided stats against Tennessee and still losing?

    Sure, many numbers can support a safe assumption that things wind up in a particular way, but the game is played because human interaction and other unpredictables can defy those stats. And that's how and why games get fun.

    There are Vegas odds on just about everything, based largely on numbers. It's safe to say that those numbers just don't support Mark McGwire's election to the HOF, however, despite what a few may plead.

    I've been asked to take over a fantasy baseball team, but I'll pass, thank you. There's no way to get an edge. The draft was level, the operation of each team is pretty level, and the commissioner won't allow me to tap the Cuban National team for an under-the-radar free agent lefty starter. I'd rather take my chances on operating a real team, because there is more room for creativity and brainpower to find an advantage and exploit it.

    Games, seasons, and HOF elections are all determined by human interaction (and if the game's played without a roof, Mother Nature). That's the unpredictable side, but if you get human effort on your side, you'll always win more than you'll lose.

    With that, let me not say "Merry Christmas". Instead, let me say, "make it a Merry Christmas"

    And, let me tell ya about parking.

    eTopps - Are You Fan Enough?

    AUTOGRAPH HOUND, By Marc Schoder - Autograph Dog

    Autographs and Art, Part 1

    In 1995, when 37-year-old David Shorey of Derry, New Hampshire learned one of his favorite players, former Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice, was appearing at a local sports memorabilia show he began a fruitless pursuit for the perfect item for the player to sign. "I had only baseball cards of him at that time, and I scoured the local area for better items that I could buy to have signed," said Shorey, who is a father of three.

    Shorey said that after a couple of weeks of fruitless searching in vain, thelife long Red Sox fan convinced himself that the only way he could have something substantial was to make it. "I had recently graduated from art school; I figured the easiest way was to create a drawing."

    The autograph collector said that he developed several contacts with collectors from around the country who would attend shows with autograph guests on a regular basis after that experience. "After a few initial projects where I would trade a piece of artwork to the collector in exchange for a piece of art for myself signed at the show by a particular athlete, the process took off like wildfire," said Shorey.

    Shorey said when he first started doing the drawings to send to players he was making 2-3 pieces per week to send out. "My works caught the attention of several of the athletes themselves. In 1997, Bill Freehan was the first to contact me in regards to making a trade directly with him: artwork for signatures," said the artist.

    "Consequently, I began writing to players directly with the help of a published book of addresses, either to ask for a signature on a piece of artwork from lesser-known players from the past, or to offer a signatures-for-artwork trade from the better-known players or ones that may charge a fee for autographs." He added that, surprisingly, most of the players he had written initially accepted his offer. "For 3 years starting in 2000 I was completely swamped with fulfilling these requests," said Shorey. "Since then, I have limited my requests to an amount that I can complete in a timely manner, because the percentage of positive responses is still very high."

    He admits that in the time he has been collecting autographs he usually pursues the more obscure players to get a better return rate. "There is rarely a charge for getting my work signed. I would say that I have accumulated nearly 300 works of art with signatures, and have paid for a signature for 10-15 percent of those," he said.

    Shorey said most of the signatures that he has paid for in his collection have been of Hall of Fame players. "In 1999 I started the daunting task of trying to acquire the signature of every living Hall-of-Famer, each on his own painting, and to date I have completed 38 of 60, plus several now-deceased Hall-of-Famers," said Shorey.

    He added that for several years his focus was mainly on getting the drawings and paintings signed; however, due to lack of wall space to display them, he had to switch to painted portraits on baseballs. "At any given time, I have 5-10 baseballs started with paintings on them to be sent out. The whole process is really fun, and I donít know of many other collectors doing this," he said.

    Shorey reflected on the years he has spent thus far collecting autographs and one, in particular, stood out in his mind. "The most poignant autograph experience to me involved former Cubs pitcher Claude Passeau," said Shorey. "I sent a couple of cards requesting a signature along with a short note asking permission to send a drawing to be signed." Shorey added that the former Chicago Cubs pitcher obliged, and within a couple of weeks, he received his drawing back signed. "When I opened the package I found, accompanying the drawing, a request to speak with me about the possibility of doing another drawing for him in exchange for memorabilia," he said. Shorey began to correspond with the Passeau family by both mail and phone to finalize the trade. Shorey said the virtually unknown Cubs pitcher passed away shortly after the drawing was received. "I was contacted by the family again, informing me that the drawing I had done for him had been displayed at his funeral," he said.

    Marc Schoder is a freelance writer and computer consultant in New Mexico. He can be contacted at or or by e-mail at

    The contents of the respective articles represent the opinions of the individual writers and not necessarily those of the editor/owner of The Oddball Mall Sports Cards.

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