Jimmy Rollins has been the Phillies regular shortstop since the last month of the 2000 season. And with his re-signing this weekend, he is guaranteed to continue in that role for at least another three seasons. Since breaking out during the surprising 2001 season, J-Roll has always been one of my favorite players. So much so, one of my dogs, Rollie, got her name as a tribute to him! His return sparked a lot of conversation over the past few weeks, and while some were OK with him signing elsewhere, collector's send a resounding message: "Stay in Philly, Jimmy!" After all, we've spent a lot of time (and money) collecting him over the years!
The Phillies have always been quick to capitalize on J-Roll's popularity and fed us collectors a steady diet of t-shirts, posters, pennants, bobble heads and figurines. His image has been plastered on everything from season ticket publications to pocket schedules. For the past 10+ years, this guy has been immortalized in memorabilia! Early on, from 2001-2003, Jimmy was a regular guest during the Phillies' "Winter Caravan" through the Delaware Valley. Often he was joined by other notable Phillies like Mike Lieberthal and Scott Rolen promoting the team in various area malls. During those years I must have seen Jimmy eight or nine times, and eventually got to a point where I had nothing new for him to sign! Ah, if only I could have gotten requests from "Future Me" - I have not had an opportunity to get anything signed by him since 2006!
I took a couple minutes this morning to reflect on those interactions, and the went through some of the Jimmy Rollins pieces I have collected over the past 10 years. Here are a couple of the autographed items with some fond memories that are attached to them:
Replica Phillies Jersey -
I got this signed in 2002 at a Winter Caravan Stop at some mall in Lancaster, PA. It is a "cheap" replica jersey with inaccurate name lettering on the back - but, fit my minute budget at the time. This was at a time when replica jerseys were not as common as they are today, and I remember thinking it was pretty good for $20. Jimmy was in a great mood and chatted with each of us as we milled through the line.
Signed Jimmy Rollins mini-bat and 8"x10" player photo -
These items were probably signed at another Winter Caravan appearance (at the Big Kahuna in Wilmington, DE) during the offseason between 2001 and 2002. J-Roll was still really young and had just started to catch on with the fan base. This was probably the strangest of the times I saw him. For anyone who had never been to the Big Kahuna, it was a huge bar/restaurant/arcade set inside an old warehouse. Unlike the standard mall appearances, this was chaos! There were no lines and no tables. Unfortunate players like Brandon Duckworth just set up shop standing in a mob of people at the Skee-Ball machines. Jimmy was the main attraction, and was positioned behind the main bar where people bellied up to order autographs. He walked around and around for two hours. Best memory of the night was when my mom noticed the autograph on my brother's mini bat had smeared. She wiped it off with a napkin and asked him to re-sign (and he did)! Those were the days...
Phillies, Riddell mini-helmet -
Is it just me, or are these great items to get signed? I love them, and have used them to get many guys ranging from Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton to Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell. This was the last item I got signed from Jimmy. It was signed during the 2006 ALS Autograph Party. He had at this point signed many balls, bats and jerseys for me and it was time for the helmet. I remember him commenting on the autograph looking good on the helmet. Thanks, Jimmy...I agree!
There are a lot of general "Jimmy Rollins" themed items that I've collected, too. I'll cover them in a "Top 5 (or 10)" format in next week's "Collectible of the Week" post. Stay tuned...
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