I'm still terribly behind on scanning new additions, but yesterday and today's post should be the first of about a dozen new additions to my Pirate autograph project.
This 2000 Topps Todd Ritchie is an upgrade over a Classic Rookies auto which featured him in a airbrushed Twins minor league jersey. The 2000 Topps set is one of, if not my absolute favorite Topps sets. I love the design, and it brings back fond memories, since it was the set that reinvigorated my interest in collecting. I only have a few cards from the Pirates team set signed, but hopefully I'll be able to complete the relatively small signed team set at some point.
Ritchie repeats a common theme in recent Pirate history - a player who puts up a couple strong seasons during their peak years before quickly slipping out of the game. A former first round pick by Minnesota, he largely faltered for the Twins in limited big league action before signing with the Pirates for the 1999 season. I recall Ritchie pitching better than his stats reflect, though that may largely be because he was the only starter from the injury-riddled 2001 pitching staff to survive the season unscathed.
His greatest contribution may perhaps be the return on his trade o the White Sox, netting starters Josh Fogg and Kip Wells, the latter of whom would pick up the torch as a fading flash of promise in the rotation.
After leaving Pittsburgh, Ritchie's career quickly bottomed out, after a 5-15, 6 ERA season for the Sox in 2002, he picked up a handful of starts for Milwaukee and Tampa Bay in 2003 and '04 before retiring. He apparently did attempt a comeback in 2008, though he only appeared in 5 games, culminating in one start at AA Tulsa.
Still, he was one of my favorite Pirates during the transition from Three Rivers Stadium to PNC Park.