Recent Royals: 1996 Leaf Signature Jeff Montgomery Bronze

I have very few card collections given my limited resources and space, but I did decide some time ago to begin collecting on-card Royals autographs. It’s been a blast so far trying to track these things down and this is the latest addition to my collection. To view the cards currently in the collection, take a look at the Gallery. If you have any on-card Royals autos- especially one you don’t see in that gallery there- chances are I need them so don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

Check for sandpaper, ump!

I’m not sure when it became normal for pitchers to spend their entire careers as closers, but Jeff Montgomery was probably right there at the beginning of the trend. His first two major league seasons included one start and a bunch of random relief appearances before settling in as the Royals’ closer for many many years. After peaking with a league-leading 45 saves in 1993, his stats suffered a steady decline until his retirement in 1999. He currently sits at 19th on the all-time saves list with 304 but with the number of pitchers spending entire careers racking up saves these days, he’s bound to be off the top 20 within a couple of years. In fact, F-Rod and/or F-Cord may knock him down a peg this year if he stays healthy and effective.

And that’s a shame because Montgomery was pretty dominant in his day. Unfortunately, he played for a team that didn’t give him as many save opportunities as, say, Dennis Eckersley who saved 51 games in a year during which Montgomery only got 51 opportunities. Even if he was perfect he could barely have kept up with Eck. I’m not comparing the careers of those two, of course, just the 1992 seasons when both were at their closing prime. At any rate, Montgomery is no longer eligible for the Hall of Fame as he didn’t receive enough votes in his one appearance on the ballot, but he does belong in the Hall of Very Good. Who knows what he could have accomplished had he been on a team that was winning in the ’90s. As their best pitcher in the 1990s (shared honor with Kevin Appier?), he couldn’t be expected to compete with the numbers of big market teams that consistently won. Still, I’m glad to add one of his few official autos to my collection.

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