Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Custom Cards: Your Newest Atlanta Brave

  Atlanta's bench has been a weakness this season, so I was very excited to hear that the team picked up Reed Johnson from the Cubs Monday night. Not only will he be valuable in giving the outfielders a rest as a spot-starter, but will provide the team a great right handed bat off the bench.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Custom Cards: Rookie Team Pinnacle Trout/Harper

  Score first offered the Team Pinnacle insert set in Pinnacle's 1992 debut set. Rookie Team Pinnacle made its first appearance in 1993, and then followed with another issue in 1994-the last season that the Rookies had their own insert set. Seeded one per ninety packs of hobby foil packs, the popular set included nine cards (and eighteen players-one player on each side), each featuring the top prospect at each position.

  I recently picked up one of these awesome cards featuring the top shortstop prospects for 1994: Chipper Jones and  Kurt Abbott of the A's. It was a card that has eluded me for years, so I was thrilled to find it on COMC for only $2.

   I thought that this would be a fun set to feature with a custom card-so what better rookies to feature than two players whom collectors can't get enough of: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Known for their offensive prowess, these two players are no slouches in the field-as evidenced by in particular Trout's great over the wall catch. So instead of the typical at-bat photo, I offer up these two 'web-gems'

Friday, July 27, 2012

Yicketty! Georgia Taters #2: Chipper Jones

  Blockbuster trades? The 2012 Summer Olympics? I heard something about both this week- but the biggest news came from the cyber world. Shocking even his teammates, Braves 3B Chipper Jones 'finally got the twitta!'

  Chippa's twitta account blew it up after Wednesday's throttling of the deconstructed Marlins. In what has to be one of the better baseball tweets this season, Chippa had this to say: "Mike b and jhey go yicketty! The roadrunner went mammo! And the Bravos have a winning road trip. My kind of day off, no action!!!"

  Yicketty? Mammo? Somebody get me a southern lexicon. Or perhaps it's a baseball one? Never mind, Chip translated it for us: "yicketty means homer! mammo means big bomb."

 I can just imagine next time Chippa goes yard. #Yicketty!

Food-Issue Friday: 1970 Kellogg's Blue Moon Odom

"dip-te-dip-te-dip...bop-tede-bop...Blue Moon"~ Sha na na

  I probably didn't get that lyric right- it's kind of tough to transcribe the cultural icon that is Bowzer of Sha-Na-Na fame.


The first "Blue Moon" memory I have dates back to the movie Grease. My sister had the soundtrack, so between it and the movie, I became quite familiar with the song. Who can forget  the mooning scene during National Bandstand.

One Blue Moon I am becoming familiar with is of the adult beverage kind. Suggested to me by a friend, I am growing a fondness for the wheat ale. Please, just don't give me an orange slice to go along with the drink. I woke up recently with a tummy ache. As one who has to pop a Prilosec daily, I should have known better.

Oh-yes, cards. I don't really have any memories of Johnny "Blue Moon" Odom. I didn't even think of  him being the same guy pictured on a familiar piece of cardboard: a 1976 Topps #651 with "John" in a Braves uniform.
  Well, here he is on a 1970 Kellogg's issue from his days in Oakland. What really caught my eye about this set was the similarity to the '64 Topps Giant Set. Moon was coming off two pretty solid years, and '70 would be another decent season for the veteran, but it was yet aonther year where his walk totals rivaled his strikeout totals. That's great if you're a hitter-but not a good sign for a pitcher. By the time he arrived in the ATL during the '75 season, he was just plain horrible. Unlike Bowzer's singing, Odom's numbers during that time are not difficult to transcribe.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chopps Custom Card: Georgia Taters #1 Juan Francisco

  All of us have heard of Georgia peaches, but on today's Braves radio broadcast Jim Powell referenced something new: "Georgia Taters." Coming from Idaho, I've heard "Idaho Potatoes" plenty of times (insert Idaho Potato Bowl joke here), but never "Georgia Taters." So I thought, "what a great idea for a custom 'insert' set."

  If there's one thing Juan Francisco is known for, it's for hitting long home runs. Very long home runs. Okay, I guess he's got somewhat of a reputation for admiring them after they've left his bat. Perhaps that's a custom set for a different day.

  In creating this, I wanted something reminiscent of  Fleer Ultra inserts from the 90s. Hope I was able to capture the essence of their creative designs. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2011 Leaf Limited Gear-Phil Niekro

I suppose I'm a little late featuring this card, since the Hall of Fame Induction Day was Sunday. No matter- I still think this is a great card. Relic cards have become a little redundant (okay-more than a little), but I had not seen many of these around at card shows, so I was happy to pick it up for a couple bucks on eBay recently. Just imagine the win totals Phil could have had-if only the Braves weren't so awful for so much of his tenure in Atlanta. 

My favorite Niekro season: 1979
21-20  3.39 ERA, 44 starts, 23 complete games, 342 IP, 311 Hits allowed, 41 Home runs allowed, 113BB. He led the lead in every one of those categories-save ERA- and yet despite the last three categories, he still finished 6th in the Cy Young balloting. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

F-Bombs and Fudge Bars

"I'm your ice-cream man, stop me when I'm passin' by... All my favors are guaranteed to satisfy."

  Well, all but one.

 I was out in my back yard yesterday evening, irrigating, when all of a sudden I could hear that noise that is music to a child's ear: you know- the music of an ice-cream truck. And there's nothing like an ice cream bar or popsicle on a hot summer day. Something to cool oneself off with.

  So, anyway-as it was passing by our property, I could hear the wife (or girlfiriend-who knows) just going off on the husband , and the F-Bombs were flying. Now keep in mind, during her tirade there was no music blaring- only the acerbic words of an angry woman. My wife and I could only look at each other in shock. About the time I said, "am I hearing things?", the music started back up. The happy sounds of the ice cream truck. Can I have an f-bomb with that fudge bar, ma'am?

   Topps produced a 23 card set in 1982 for Brigham's Ice Cream stores and Coca-Cola, and featured members of the Boston Red Sox (Brigham's Ice Cream is a New England company)-including Hall of Fame members Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, Carl Yazstremski, and Tony Perez. But since I prefer a Boston team with a politically-incorrect name (or at least viewed as such by some), I'll offer up another Hall of Famer: Eddie Mathews.
The Brigham Ice Cream company dates back to the early part of the twentieth century, so their ice-cream parlors would have been around during the height of the popularity of the malt shop/ice cream parlor. That would have also coincided when young Eddie Mathews was breaking into the majors with the Boston Braves. 

I wonder if they served up any profanities with their parfaits?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Food-Issue Friday- Double Header!

  "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame; let's play two!"~ Ernie Banks

  We're having 100 degree weather, so I wouldn't call it a beautiful day-as Ernie was so fond of saying- but it is Friday, so let's play two!  A Food-Issue Friday Double Header, so to speak.

  Earlier this week, I checked the Sports Collectors Daily website and saw an article heading which caught my attention: Five Underrated Baseball Products of the 1990s. With a title like that you've got to be thinking investment, and so my initial reaction was, "the 90s- are you kidding me?!" However, the number 1 item on the list was quite a shocker to me.

  The 1990 Score McDonalds baseball product was a 25 card set which was released in Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho (where I have lived my entire life). It is said to have only been available in 11 different stores over the course of a three week period in the Spring of 1990. The cards came four to a pack and were given away with an order of french fries and a soft drink. While quite similar to the 1990 Score baseball product,  it is unique in its own way. The regular issued Score set had the solid colors on its borders-which I didn't care for; but this McDonalds set is really something to behold, with its blue/purple borders.
 That the author would put it at the top of his list surprised me at first, for the fact that back in the day, these things were not difficult to find here locally. Prices for superstars might have fetched $5-10, unlike the $39 being asked for a George Brett similar to this one on eBay. The more I think about it, however, I can see why these things are fetching a premium price on the market.

Forgive me if the title of the post is a little misleading. I'm not going to feature a second food issue today, but a Score McD's/Allen and Ginter-type of hybrid.

 I was originally going to do a custom card of new Braves shortstop Paul Janish-until I read an article about Steve Mann,  professor of computer engineering at the University of Toronto.

  Mr. Mann  invented the pictured computerized eyeglasses and wore them on a recent trip to France. When he entered a McDonalds, it appears that three restaurant employees felt Mann would be violating the privacy of customers by recording or photographing them. Despite presenting a note from his physician and other documents, the three employees knocked the glasses off his head and grabbed the strange looking things-supposedly damaging the lenses in the process.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

June 2012 Card Show Purchases #3

  Earlier this year (or was it late last year?), I decided I wanted to try to get at least one card for every home run on the back of Chipper Jones' final baseball card. He has 461 thus far in his MLB career (and 499 in his professional career). My Chipper Collection (not counting cards in the Braves Topps' team sets) is not even close to 300, let alone 461-so one of my goals going into the June card show was to pick up some cheap Chippers. Mission accomplished.

10 of 10 for 10 cents each.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

June 2012 Card Show Purchases #2

  Before I post the second installment of my Card Show Purchases, I've got something I've got to disclose. My wife thinks I'm a nerd. And it probably means that she thinks you're a nerd, too. Please don't hate her- pity her, for she doesn't like sports. And because of that, she can't grasp the awesomeness that comes with our cardboard collections.

  This dirty little secret was revealed to me on Father's Day. When the conversations about what to do for the day came up, my eleven year-old daughter suggested (over and over and over again) that we go to the Renaissance Faire after the morning worship service. Having never been to one, we decided to pack a lunch and head over to the park where it was being held. So there we were, enjoying our picnic in 90+ degree weather, surrounded by folks who were dressed in costumes (roasting, I'm sure)-taking the whole thing a little too seriously, in my opinion. So, being the loose cannon that I am, I referenced the "nerds in the park." Well, there was a time when she was younger that my wife would have been one of those "nerds"- and so her retort ran along the lines of, "you're the one going to a card show next week." You can imagine my ego as it was being deflated. Perhaps I would have esteemed the Faire more had there been jousting, be-headings from a guillotine, and/or actual hangings. Heck, even some fencing would have caught my attention. And while tempting, walking around while eating a giant turkey leg isn't nearly as exciting as a good old fashion burning at the stake. But I digress.

  Have you ever walked into a show (or card shop), see something that caught your eye, and swear that you already have it- only to see that it hasn't been checked off your want list? Four of the eight cards shown here were ones that I nearly didn't buy- as I was certain that I already had them (especially the '71 Rookie Stars). Thankfully, I always take a notebook with me to card shows. This 'little black book' contains a checklist of all Braves Topps teams sets dating back to '52. One card I already have is the '78 Niekro/Ryan leaders card, but it's part of a complete set-and that's where it is going to stay. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Tell-Tale Signs of a Card Addict

This time of year is always an exciting one for collectors-what with the recent release of the wildly popular Allen & Ginter. Add to it the other highly popular release Topps Archives, and there's undoubtedly some folks out there who just can't get enough-going to extra lengths just to open wax.

  As I was on the couch the other night, reading, my daughter sat next to me and asked if she could watching something. Knowing very well what she would want to watch, I nevertheless answered in the affirmative. So, she fires up Netflix on the Roku box, and so begins the familiar sounds of an annoying cartoon called Rug Rats: All Grown Up. While I'm not a fan of the series, it didn't take long for it to catch my attention.

  The episode was called "Yu-Gotta-Go"- and it was parodying the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game. In this episode, the young protagonist named Chuckie feels left out at school because he seems to be the only kid who doesn't have any Yu-Gotta-Go cards or any of its merchandise. So, the kid hits up the old man for an advancement on his allowance. Though denied, Chuckie discovers that his friend Angela's mother is somehow involved in the distribution of the cards. To make a long story short, the kid becomes an addict. So, instead of trying to describe the funnier parts of the show-which very closely resembles some adults I've seen in the hobby- I recorded and edited a few of the clips, which I am going to present here.

Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

I give to you...

The Tell-Tale Signs of a Card Addict
Chuckie Ripping a Pack
sorry for the bad audio in this first clip

Needing a Fix
notice the withdrawl symptoms?

Dad Doesn't Know about Allen & Ginter!

Chuckie's Dilema

Cardboard Madman!

Conflict at the Card Shop

Have you ever seen this? Have you been guilty of this???

The Confession
the truth shall set you free, Chuckie!

Givin' Up Cardboard!

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait/ Red Mirrored Dragon
way to go, dad, your kid has  had a problem and now you want to enable him. Father of the Year...Not!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ben Sheets is Back!

  It's only one game, but if this guy can return to what he was in 2004, the year he struck 18 Braves in a game, then Frank Wren will look like a genius.

  Okay, so returning to his former self might be stretching it-still, he looked awfully good today. If big Ben can continue pitching like that, it will be a great shot in the arm for a team whose pitching has been way too inconsistent this season.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Least of These

 "My two favorite players were Henry Aaron and Sandy Koufax, but I always seemed to follow hitters more than pitchers. How I loved those old Braves with those beautiful uniforms- Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Wes Covington, Jim Pendleton-that's right, even little known guys like Covington and Pendleton were heroes to me."~ Tom Seaver

  I didn't grow up with the Milwaukee-era Braves, though I do have a certain fondness for them that has been fueled by baseball cards, books, and old magazine articles. And while I never saw Covington nor Pendleton play, I can certainly identify with Tom Terrific's choice of lesser known players as some of his favorites.

 As a boy in the 80s, it was guys like Glenn Hubbard and Rafael Ramirez for me-along with the likes of more well known players like Dale Murphy and  Bob Horner. Once the 90s rolled around, we had the likes of David Justice and the exalted pitching staff. As exciting as those guys were, I still count the double play duo of Mark Lemke and Rafael Belliard as two of my favorites. They were throwbacks to days gone by, when a shortstop or second-baseman could hit .220 but still have a job because of their defensive skills.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 Rodeo Meats Wil Myers


  To celebrate the inaugural season of the Kansas City Athletics, the Rodeo Meat Company of Kansas City, Missouri released a forty-seven card set, featuring thirty eighty different players and nine variation cards. The set, issued in 1955, was a regional release and inserted in wiener and Vac-Pak lunch meats. Being packaged with the meats, the cards are often found with stains-making them difficult to find in top condition. In addition to problems with stains and miscuts, the scarcity of the set has caused the cards to command a premium price, whether it be common players such as Lou Sleater or Hall of Fame members Enos Slaughter and Lou Boudreau.

The company followed the initial set with another, albeit smaller (12 cards) one, in 1956.

  With this year's All-Star game being hosted in Kansas City, I thought it would be fun to make the '55 Rodeo Meats set the object of a custom card. The obvious choices would be youngsters Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, or Mike Moustakas. My first thought, however, was George Brett-whom I couldn't stand as a kid, but have grown to appreciate as time has gone by. I settled for Wil Myers, the power hitting catcher-turned-outfielder. Surprisingly, Myers hasn't gotten the call to K.C., but it's only a matter of time before the kid is cranking them out of Kauffman Stadium. He got his first taste this past weekend during the Futures Game-going 2-4 with 3 RBI.

Monday, July 9, 2012

8 for #10

You can argue that he's not deserving of being in KC (based upon stats), but there's no denying that he's still a very popular player who's an integral piece to his team's success.

  I wanted to use the '73 Topps design, since it was the last time Kansas City hosted the All-Star game-but settled on the first card in the '74 set.  Aaron's card has the crown above his name, and I thought the AS logo fit nicely on this design.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

2012 Rookie Stars: A.L. Edition

"I saw rock and roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen."~ Music critic Jon Landau, writing in The Real Paper after seeing the young musician opening for Bonnie Raitt in Cambridge, MA 1974

  I guess the same thing could be said about Mike Trout and the future of baseball. Some have compared him to Ricky Henderson, while baseball columnist Jon Morosi has stated that MLB is much more entertaining now (with Harper and Trout) than during the steroids era-to which I would say, amen.

  I guess it's pretty safe to say that at this point, Trout would have to fall flat on his face- or suffer a season ending injury- to not win AL ROY. Heck, even a season ending injury might not prevent him from winning the award. Should he continue his torrid play, he might not only win the ROY, but the MVP as well- a claim to which only Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki can make.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bourn to Run

"...baby we were born to run." ~ Bruce Springsteen

  News came out today that Braves centerfielder and lead-off man Michael Bourn was named to the N.L. All-Star team, replacing injured shortstop Ian Desmond. Apparently Arizona Diamondback starter Daniel Hudson didn't think it was quite right that an outfielder would replace an infielder, as per a tweet from earlier today. Never mind that an infielder (Chipper) replaced an outfielder earlier this week, which kind of cancels out his complaints. I understand that he thought teammate Aaron Hill was deserving, but still...

  Congratulations to Michael, who is third in the N.L. in hits, second in runs, fourth in triples, third in stolen bases, fifth in WAR, ninth in runs created, and has played stellar defense in center.

  Now, if only Liberty Media will sign the soon-to-be free-agent to a five-year deal before he hits the open market. #wonthappen

Friday, July 6, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: Custom 1978 Burger King Braves Bob Horner

After releasing a New York Yankees team set in 1977, Burger King released four more team sets in 1978: Detroit, Houston, Texas, and another Yankees set. Most of the cards were identical to the regular issued Topps cards that year, although there were some players with different photos. Some whose rookie cards were featured on the multi-prospect cards, such as Detroit's Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, and Lou Whitaker, had their own cards in the team sets.

While the Braves didn't have a Burger King set until 1982 (and it was a 'lid' set), I was inspired to make this Bob Horner card. Horner's rookie card came out in 1979, but the slugger won NL Rookie of the Year in '78-coming straight out of Arizona State as the #1 overall pick and into the majors without playing a day in the minors. 

Twenty six years ago today, Bob Horner provided baseball fans with a late fireworks display as he became the eleventh MLB player to hit four home runs in a game. Horner's feat came against the Expos in Atlanta's old Fulton County Stadium-one year and one/two days after another improbable game at the "Launching Pad."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gee...That's a Swell Card

  The title of the post might lead one to believe that it is a quote of young Theodore Cleaver on the classic television show, Leave It to Beaver- and perhaps he might have said that on one of the 234 episodes. No- what we've got here is an autographed Swell card of former Braves catcher Del Crandall.

  Released by the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp in 1989, the Swell Baseball Greats set is one that I wasn't even aware of existing until I came across this beauty on eBay. Perhaps I saw some of them back in the early 90s, but it really didn't look very familiar. One thing that does look familiar about the design is the ribbon/flag on top- it's kind of reminiscent of the 1977 Topps Football set, which I always thought was a great design.

  While I have been skeptical of many autographs out there, this card has been authenticated by James Spence-which helped make the decision to buy it a little easier. Of course, the price didn't hurt, either.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Custom Cards: Yasmani Grandal Record Breaker

  Recalled from AAA Tuscan earlier in the day, Padres rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal set a Major League record by homering from both sides of the plate for his first two major league hits. It was also the young backstop's first major league start.

  Prior to the game, the switch-hitting Grandal had only one plate appearnce in the majors (a flyout, coming against the D-Backs on June 2). In Yasmani's first at-bat on Saturday, the prospect led off the top of the second by flying out to Rockies rightfielder Michael Cuddyer. Yamani's first big fly came from the right side of the plate in the top of the fourth off of Rockies starter Christian Friedrich. In his next plate appearance, Grandal set the record by taking Rockies righty Jeremy Guthrie to deep left field with one out in the sixth.

  Grandal was one of the key pieces in the Padres-Reds off season deal in which pitcher Matt Latos was sent to Cincinnati. The Reds had two premier catching prospects in Grandal and twenty-four year old Devin Mesoraco, whom the Reds decided to keep. While scouts rate Mesoraco as the better of the two defensively, Grandal's bat is more advanced at this stage. It will be interesting to see which of the two turns out to be the better player at the major league level.