Every year at this time, I receive the autograph details for the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up. The fan event is always held over Martin Luther King weekend, this time from Saturday, January 14 through Monday, January 16.
In my annual just-for-fun endeavor, I look at rising and falling autograph prices from year to year. These are set by someone within the Cardinals hierarchy, and offer at least some estimation of the expected supply and demand for the autographs.
In addition, the list of those signing for free includes over 40 names of former, current and aspiring Cardinals. Also included for the second consecutive year are a trio of former Negro Leagues players, DeMorris Smith, Jesse Rogers and Sam Taylor.
As always, the proceeds go to charity, Cardinals Care, so the needy are the true winners. Autograph tickets will go on sale online at cardinals.com at 9 A.M. on Wednesday, December 21. There is a limit of three tickets per player except for Lance Berkman and David Freese at one each.
Those two vaulted up to the top prices, replacing Albert Pujols. Also at the top of the pecking order are Matt Holliday at $75, down from last year and Yadier Molina, returned to his $75 from two years ago.
|Lance Berkman||$100||$40||The new top dog – at least in autograph pricing.|
|David Freese||$75||$5||free||A 15-fold jump. What did he do last year, again?|
|Matt Holliday||$75||$100||$100||I wonder if he can be motivated by signature prices?|
|Yadier Molina||$75||$90||$75||$100||$90||One-year price increase rollback. How about a new contract?|
The signatures of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are considered equals as Tony La Russa’s price is up following his retirement. His replacement, Mike Matheny, sees an expected increase, but still seems a good bargain. Allen Craig and Jason Motte move right on up.
|Middle of the pack||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||Commentary|
|Adam Wainwright||$50||$45||$50||$60||$80||A big test for his right elbow coming up.|
|Chris Carpenter||$50||$40||$50||$60||$75||He was a real bargain last year. Won’t sign for Nyjer.|
|Tony La Russa||$40||$30||$30||$30||$30||Retiring increases his price? It’ll be worse in five years, then.|
|Mike Matheny||$30||$10||$10||New responsibilities are more than three times greater.|
|Allen Craig||$30||$5||free||No word on whether or not Torty can hold a Sharpie.|
|Rafael Furcal||$30||Let’s keep him healthy at all costs. Bubble wrap is cheap.|
|Jaime Garcia||$25||$15||free||Financial security and a price bump.|
|Jason Motte||$25||$5||$5||$10||Not officially named most expensive reliever autograph.|
|Jon Jay||$20||$10||Put him on the left end of the table, please.|
Shelby Miller and Matt Adams make their first for-fee appearances, with the prospects being shown as much love as several long-time starting pitchers.
|Skip Schumaker||$15||$10||$25||$30||$5||No confirmation he will also be the utility signer for others.|
|Lance Lynn||$15||For $15, he had better make the team!|
|Daniel Descalso||$10||free||free||Least expensive projected starting position player by far.|
|Shelby Miller||$10||free||Same price as Westbrook and double Lohse? Hmmm.|
|Jake Westbrook||$10||$10||Heard his slot is up for trade, but requires $5 up front.|
|Marc Rzepczynski||$10||Fewer tickets sold due to longer signing time per customer.|
|Fernando Salas||$10||Hoping he won’t be bumped from the program.|
|Kyle McClellan||$5||$5||$5||$10||Consistency is good.|
|Kyle Lohse||$5||$5||$15||$25||So what? He still has his $41 million and we don’t.|
|Mitchell Boggs||$5||$5||free||Only signing if not sent to Memphis between now and then.|
|Matt Adams||$5||May as well start taking it all in – except the buffet.|
|Tony Cruz||$5||Quiet guy seems on verge of a major league job.|
|Tyler Greene||$5||free||free||It’s now or never…|
|J.C. Romero||$5||Laps the rest of the pen in sheer veteranness.|
The ranks of the Cardinals Hall of Famers are halved, down two this year, with Bruce Sutter and Lou Brock apparently not signing. Bob Gibson is again staying away and those hoping for an Ozzie Smith return look to be disappointed.
|Hall of Famers||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||Commentary|
|Red Schoendienst||$75||$75||$75||$75||$60||Still one of the greatest.|
|Whitey Herzog||$75||$60||$60||$40||$50||Hall election and retired number.|
The roster of past Cardinals heroes signing for a small fee is down quite a bit, though Mike Shannon is a nice addition.
|Mike Shannon||$10||Working and signing both.|
|Jack Clark||$5||$5||$5||$10||Should have talked to Albert about not leaving.|
|Ray Lankford||$5||$10||$10||Many have fond memories of the ’90s.|
The article would not be complete without noting those former Cardinals who signed in past years, but are not a part of the 2012 event – for a couple of different reasons, no doubt.
|Bruce Sutter||$75||$100||Engine #42 parked this year.|
|Lou Brock||$75||$100||Announced as appearing, but apparently not signing.|
|Bob Gibson||$125||3nd consecutive year away for the Hall of Famer.|
|Vince Coleman||$25||$10||Maybe he was swiping peoples’ Sharpies?|
|Brian Jordan||$15||Appears on Hall of Fame ballot for first time.|
|Fernando Vina||$10||Came and went quickly.|
|Steve Kline||$5||Was in rare form at TLR roast last year. Very rare.|
|Albert Pujols||$175||$175||$175||$175||Just imagine the lines if Dee Dee would sign…|
|Colby Rasmus||$30||$25||$30||$30||Luhnow autographs will not be passed out instead.|
|Ryan Theriot||$10||Rumor that he kept dropping pen last year untrue.|
|Ryan Franklin||$5||$10||$10||$10||The prices predicted the end was coming.|
|Trever Miller||$5||$5||$5||It was past Miller Time.|
|Brian Tallet||$5||We hardly knew ye, but knew ye too well.|
Finally, here are those who will be signing for free. There are some nice names, so don’t think you have to drop big money to snare good autographs. For example, signatures of past stars like John Tudor, the Benes brothers and Wally Moon plus future Cardinals like Zack Cox can be had at no charge.
|Matt Carpenter||Andy Benes||Jim Donohue||Tom Lawless||Kerry Robinson||Sam Taylor|
|Zack Cox||Glenn Brummer||Chris Duncan||John Mabry||Jesse Rogers||John Tudor|
|Brandon Dickson||Danny Cox||Cal Eldred||T.J. Mathews||Ray Sadecki||Lee Thomas|
|Mark Hamilton||Mike Crudale||Neil Fiala||Ed Mickelson||Ted Savage||Mike Tyson|
|Pete Kozma||Boots Day||Phil Gagliano||Wally Moon||Jason Simontacchi||Bill Virdon|
|Shane Robinson||Ken Dayley||Rex Hudler||Tom Pagnozzi||DeMorris Smith||Ray Washburn|
|Alan Benes||Chuck Diering||Mike Jorgensen||Ken Reitz||Bob Sykes|
The 16th Annual Winter Warm-Up, a three-day event, will take place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend; Saturday, Sunday and Monday, January 14-16, 2012. Three-day event passes are $40 for adults and $10 for children 5-15 years of age, same prices as last year.
For full WWU information, including signing schedules and ticket ordering, follow this link.
January 5 update: Three late additions have been made to the autograph group – Lou Brock and Carlos Beltran at $75 each and Brian Jordan at $5.