Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Topps Nestle Chipper Jones

The copyright on the back of this card shows 2001, but the statistic bars show Chipper's 2001 lines, so it was released either in late 2001 or 2002. I actually pulled this out of a box of Nestle Ice Cream bars, and was thrilled to get it (even with the creases).
Remember all the talk about how to get kids back into the hobby (which I believe is critical to the future of the hobby)? Well, one way to do that is by getting cards back into cereal, ice cream, frozen pizza, etc. Are you listening, Topps?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cards I'm Thankful For, Pt. 3

Card #3
1987 Topps #170 Bo Jackson

1987- the year that I graduated from high school. I was a horny seventeen year old kid with a car and a guitar, and I had lost interest in baseball cards by then (although I was still a sports nut). That doesn't take away from the coolness of this throwback type of athlete, appearing on the card that is reminiscent of the 1962 Topps. Vincent Edward Jackson was arguably the most exciting .250 hitter in the history of the game, and if you are ever going to do a "what if..." list, you know Bo has got to be high on it! By the way, Bo should have landed at number nine on my list- it was an oversight.

Card #2

1961 Topps #484 Hank Aaron

My wife bought this '61 Aaron card for my birthday this year. I'm not old enough to have had the pleasure of watching Aaron play in his prime, but the Braves great still ranks up high on my list of favorite athletes. Topps commemorated Aaron's MVP award from 1957 on this card. 1957 also happened to be the year the Braves won their only World Series (upsetting the Yankees!) while in Milwaukee. Thankfully, Topps included some of the Hammer's shoulders on this card- preventing it from being one of those goofy "floating head" shots they used at various times throughout the years. I really like the colors in the MVP subset- for some reason card companies (and advertisers) can not duplicate the beauty of colors from the past.

Card #1

1996 Topps World Series Champions #177 Chipper Jones

Could the top card be anything other than this one? Topps produced a special Braves team set commemorating their 1995 World Championship and it was distributed at Wal-Mart. I must have picked this up at a card show (?) because I don't have the rest of the team set. Add the Topps All-Star Rookie Cup logo to it, and you have a winner! Oh yeah-it doesn't hurt that this is my favorite Brave player.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cards I'm Thankful For, Pt. 2

In picking 9 cards that I'm thankful for, I didn't make the choices based upon monetary value-rather, each card has its own story.

Card #6
1964 Topps #9 N.L. Home Run Leaders
It's been nearly one year since I re-entered the hobby and this was my first purchase. I picked this one up primarily because of Hammerin' Hank, but I think it's a good investment anytime you can get a card with four Hall of Famers on it. What's interesting about the back of this card is that it features not only a list of the home run leaders, but it also contains a column with the leaders in grand slams for the '63 season.

Card #5
1989 Topps #382 John Smoltz (RC) autographed

Picking a favorite from the vaunted Braves staff of the 90s is no easy task. Each of the big three brings something different to the table (or, mound), and I really don't have a favorite among them (although a young Steve Avery might have been #1). So- my choice of Smoltz here is based upon it being an autographed rookie card that I purchased off of one of the home-shopping network type programs back in 1992. This one came in a really thick lucite holder, and was put out by the Score Board, Inc. Unfortunately, the signature has faded over the years-but it still has a place at #5.

Card #4

1989 Topps Traded #41T Ken Griffey Jr.
Okay, so it's not THE Rookie Card of the Kid. I sold mine long ago, when it was pulling in three figures. This one, however, is still an undervalued card, in my opinion, and no player better represents this generation of ball players. The Upper Deck card may be more iconic, but this shot of Junior is a classic pose; it's a throwback, and would look good on, say, a 1965 Topps card.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cards I'm Thankful For, Pt.1

One of the things my wife and I have sought to instill in our children is an "attitude of gratitude." All we have been blessed with is a gift of God, and therefore we ought to give thanks for even the smallest of things. And so, with our nation celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of 9 cards that I'm particularly thankful for. In the grand scope of things, collecting sports cards is pretty insignificant-but it has been, and continues to be, a hobby that one can enjoy and escape the more significant things in life-even if it is only for a little while. Why 9? Well, I'm borrowing it from MLB Networks Prime 9 show: It's a baseball number- 9 Players, 9 Innings.

~Honorable Mention~
1953 Bowman color #99 Warren Spahn
Forgive me for adding a tenth card- let's just say we're going extra innings. I added this as an "Honorable Mention" because I no longer own a '53 Spahn. I did at one time-back when I was a bachelor (although it wasn't this copy- I found this card on the PSA Website). The '53 Bowman colors are hands down the most beautiful set ever produced, in my opinion, and the Spahn was the jewel of my collection. However, when my wife and I got engaged, I sold off my collection of vintage Braves to help finance the wedding. Sigh.

2001 Topps Heritage #52 Chipper Jones
Mr Brave. I picked this card because it reminds me-in some esoteric way- of the 1952 Topps card of Chipper's hero, Mickey Mantle. Let's connect the dots: Chipper is featured on card #52, which happens to be the year Topps produced the most sought after post-war card (of a player who, again, was Chippers idol). Topps also portrays Chipper with a glance in the distance, somewhat similar to Mantle's (although Jones' is more to the horizon, rather than to the heavens). Coincidence? I think not. #conspiracytheory

Card #8
2001 Topps Traded #T247 Albert Pujols

It may not be his most sought-after card from his rookie season; but never-the-less, it's his Topps Rookie Card. And that makes it something special, because Phat Albert is a once in a generation talent.

Card #7
1970 Topps #189 Thurman Munson/David McDonald

The Captain. I know, it's the Yankees- but Munson was something special. What so many fans loved about Munson was his blue collar work ethic, as well as his gruff-but lovable- disposition. I still remember where I was when I heard of his death: at an Angels/A's game on August 6-the day of Munson's funeral.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

1967 Topps #307 Jim Beauchamp

1967 Topps #307 Jim Beauchamp

Born in Venita, Oklahoma, Beach was a legend in his home state. After turning pro in 1958, Beauchamp spent the 1959, 1960, and the first eleven games of the 1961 season at AA Tulsa (Cardinals). During that time, Beauchamp put up some pretty good numbers, but it wasn't until his sixth minor league season that Beauchamp really broke out the bat. Moving back down from AAA Atlanta to AA Tulsa for the '63 season, Jim absolutely raked- hitting .337 with 31 homers, 105 RBI, 95 runs, 35 2B, 10 3B, 21 SB, a .625 SLG, and a 1.019 OPS. Beauchamp finished the '63 season in St Louis, going 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. Beauchump was then traded that offseason to the Houston Colt 45s and from there on spent the rest of his playing career bouncing back and forth between the Braves, Reds, Astros, Cardinals, and Mets. Despite spending ten years in the majors, Beach only collected 730 plate appearances. After his playing days were over, Jim went on to manage in the minors for 15 years, five of those being in the Braves organization. Atlanta then brought Jim up to the major league team to serve as bench coach from 1991-2001. Beauchamp in 2002 began serving as the Braves' minor league outfield coordinator, a position he kept until his death in 2007.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There's A New Kid in Town

Everybody's talkin' about the new kid in town.
I hate to see Infante and Dunn gone, but we picked up that right-handed pop we desperately needed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday: 1978 Topps

In my quest to finish the '78 Topps Baseball set, I decided to pick some up from a new source- Check Out My Cards. If you haven't used COMC, I recommend them-especially if you're looking at picking up multiple cards. After todays addition, I'm down to 15 cards need to complete the set. Here's a few of the 10 cards added to my set:

1978 Topps #655 Lyman Bostock
Bostock became one of the majors first high priced free-agents when he signed with the Angels in November of 1977. His first three seasons were spent in Minnesota, where he hit a total of .318 with 78 doubles, 26 triples, and 18 homers, appearantly on his way to becoming a star. After a slow start to the 1978 season, Bostock caught fire for his new team and by late September he had posted some respectable numbers. Sadly, his season-nay, his life- was cut short on September 23. Following a road game against the Chicago White Sox, Bostock found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Having visited a friends house, Bostock and his uncle gave the woman and her sister a ride to their cousins house. Little did they know, the sisters estranged husband was in his car-waiting outside of his sister-in-laws house. Witnessing Bostock and his wife sitting next to one another in the back seat, the man (Leonard Smith) assumed the two were having an affair- and proceded to follow them until they came to a stop light. At that time, Smith pulled up next to the car, pulled out a shotgun and fired the trigger-aiming it at his wife. Unfortunately, Bostock was sitting to the right of the estranged wife, and took the bullet in his temple.

1978 Topps #670 Jim Rice
I guess much has been made about the controversy surrounding Rice's election to the Hall of Fame, and I can understand the arguments made against his induction, but still-I was glad to see him elected. One of the A.L.'s most dominating players from '75 to '86, Rice followed up his great 1977 season (in which the first-time All Star led the league in slugging and homers) with an MVP during his monstrous 1978 season. Although Rice won his only MVP that season, he did finish in the top 5 six times in his career.

1978 Topps #721 Billy Martin
Controversial. That's one of many adjectives that can be used to describe the late manager. Who doesn't remember the soap opera in New York between he and George Steinbrenner back in the day? Martin served as Yankee manager 5 different times-I guess you could have called it a love-hate relationship? I had the pleasure(?) of meeting Billy during his tenure in Oakland-yes, when he notoriously overworked his pitching staff- in 1981. I only wish I still had the baseball he had signed.

1978 Topps #703 Jack Morris (RC)
Money. That's the word I would use to describe this four-time world champion. Say what you want to about his 3.90 career ERA, Morris turned it up a notch in the World Serie. His 10 inning shutout against John Smoltz and the Braves in game 7 to clinch the 1991 World Series was one for the ages, and made this Atlanta fan stand up and applaud him.

Also on this card: Mickey Mahler. The former Braves pitcher has a name that is almost as poetic as Mickey Mantle. Almost.

1978 Topps #704 Lou Whitaker (RC)

Another great rookie from this set- Sweet Lou won the AL ROY in '78 and went on to star in the Motor City for the next nineteen years. Surprisingly, Lou failed to receive 5 percent of the Hall of Fame votes in his first year of eligibility. Thus, he is ineligible for induction until 2015. I really think those with a vote need to look closer at what Whitaker did offensively and defensively, and then compare him to other HOF second basemen because he compares quite nicely!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My, Oh My!-RIP Dave Niehaus

Baseball lost one of a kind today, as long-time Seattle Mariner play-by-play man Dave Niehaus passed away today after suffering a heart attack. I have lived my entire life in the northwest, and one of my fondest childhood memories was discovering the beauty of listening to baseball on the radio, tuning in to the Mariners games their first six or so years. Niehaus was such a colorful character, you couldn't help but like him. It's been a tough year for Mariner fans: a disappointing season, watching Griffey's career come to an end, and now the loss of Dave. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

50 Year Counterparts: Bob Hartman/James Parr

One of my favorite sets from the 60s is the 1960 Topps baseball. With the 2009 release of the Heritage set, I think that Topps really got it right that year and turned out a great set. So-let's take a look at some counterparts from those two releases.

1960 Topps #129 Bob Hartman
Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Hartman is only one of four Kenosha natives to have pitched in the Big Leagues. The lefty was signed by the Braves as a free-agent in 1955-five years after he began throwing batting practice to major leaguers at the young age of 13. By 1958, Hartman looked like he was going to be a middle of the rotation starter for Milwaukee, as he went 20-10 with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP for Double-A Atlanta. Hartman was lucky to have had the opportunity to still be pitching at that point: while at AAA Witchita in Spring Training 1956, he was diagnosed with diabetes after he saw his health plummet, dropping 50 pounds in two months. He eventually came back that July, although he then battled an arm injury. Bob spent most of the 1959 season in AA Louisville, although he did appear in three games for Milwaukee that April and June. As it turns out, those would be the only games he would play for the Braves. In 1962, Milwaukee traded Hartman to Cleveland, where he would pitch in 8 games for the Indians that season-his last in the majors. After his playing days ended in 1963, Hartman was heavily involved in youth baseball and softball in his hometown. Bob died this past June at the age of 72.

2009 Topps Heritage #129- James Parr
Being a pitcher in today's Atlanta organization isn't an easy task. Loaded with great starting pitching at all levels, one can find himself buried behind more heralded prospects. Every once in a while, though, a pitcher will make his way to Atlanta-even if it is for just a cup of coffee. One such prospect is James Parr, a fourth round pick in the 2004 draft. Despite an unspectacular minor league career up to that point, the Braves brought Parr up in September of 2008 to make a start against the Washington Nationals on Sept. 4. Parr threw six shut-out innings that day to pick up the victory in a 2-0 Braves win. The next week, against Colorado, Parr would make his second start, and once again threw six shut-out innings. This time, however, he would not pick up the victory. In fact, Parr would go onto to pitch in three more games that season-as well as eight in 2009- without another decision. Perhaps James' greatest claim to fame was combining with Angelo Burrows to throw the first no-hitter in Rome history, as they did on June 8, 2005. Or, perhaps, it is his being featured in Sports Illustrated's "Pop Culture Grid" in the 3/11/09 issue. In it, the featured athletes were asked, "I'm really sick of hearing about...", in which Parr replied, "President Obama". Good call.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday: 2009 Allen & Ginter Casey Kotchman Relic

Rejoice Braves fans, this is what Atlanta netted in trading Neftali Feliz & Elvis Andrus to Texas...

Let's see if this post will get more hits than Kotch did during his time in the Atl.