I have my first new autographs of 2016… and it only took until February 1st.
Blake Swihart was the 26th overall selection in the 2011 draft and rose through the Boston Red Sox farm system as one of their top prospects.
In 2014, my friend Bart and I got to see him play with the Portland Sea Dogs in Trenton a few times, but I never managed to get his autograph before he got promoted to Triple-A.
I tried writing to him care of the Pawtucket Red Sox towards the end of that season, but so far, anyway, nothing has come back.
But Bart was more persistent. He sent cards to Swihart on more than one occasion, and had better luck getting them back… though there was a bit of a wait involved with some of them. Bart was kind enough to pass along his duplicates to me, so I now have Swihart’s autograph as well.
In 2015, Swihart made his major league debut with the Red Sox in a game against the Yankees on May 2nd. He went 1-for-3. In 288 at bats, Swihart hit .274 with 17 doubles, one triple and five home runs –not bad for a 23-year-old rookie catcher. He goes into the 2016 season as the Red Sox’ number one catcher.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll still get my own signed photo back someday.
In the meantime, next week I can think about sending out my first autograph request letters of 2016.