Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ol' Ninety-Six

Custom 2005 Upper Deck Classics Bill Voiselle #96B

On this date in 2005, former Boston Braves pitcher Bill Voiselle passed away- two days after his 86th birthday.

Raised in the community of Ninety-Six, South Carolina, Voiselle sought permission from MLB Commissioner A.B. "Happy" Chandler to wear the number 96 on his uniform to honor the town he grew up in. The uniform number would be the highest in MLB history until Mitch Williams and Turk Wendell wore number 99 during the late 80s/90s.

As a rookie for the NY Giants in 1944, Voiselle went 21-16 with a .302 ERA, while leading the NL with 116 strikeouts and 312.2 innings. Besides being named to the NL All-Star team that season, Voiselle also finished 5th in the MVP voting and was named the NL Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News.

Bill's three-year career with the Boston Braves ran from 1947-1949. During the Braves pennant-winning 1948 season, the righty started off pitching very well, with his record sitting at 10-6 in early July. Unfortunately for Boston, Voiselle could not maintain his early season success, and managed to lose seven of his next ten starts before manager Billy Southworth pulled him from the starting rotation. Bill may have lost his job as a starter, but he was far from being an important contributor to the Braves success.

As the Braves faced Cleveland in the World Series that year, Southworth found himself calling upon Voiselle in a crucial moment of Game 3. With the Series tied 1 game to 1, and the Braves trailing the Indians 2-0, starter Vern Bickford loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Bill came in and got the next two Cleveland batters out-keeping Boston in the game. He then went on to pitch three more scoreless innings, while allowing only one Indian to reach base

Three days later, as Boston faced elimination in Game 6, Voiselle took the bump, for the biggest start of his career. For five innings, the Indians could manage only one run off of the Braves starter. The sixth inning, however, proved to be a difficult one for Bill, as Joe Gordon led off the Indians sixth with a home run. Cleveland followed that with a walk, a single, and a ground out to produce the Indians' third run. Voiselle would go on to shut Cleveland down in the seventh before being relieved by Braves ace Warren Spahn- who had pitched the previous game. Spahn would allow one more Cleveland run, and the Braves would come up short, losing the game (4-3) and the Series.

After his playing career, Voiselle returned to Ninety-Six and played (along with his two brothers) on the town's mill club in the semi-pro Central Carolina Textile League. In 2001, the South Carolina House of Representatives honored the former star for bringing "honor and glory to the state of South Carolina" through his athletic and many charitable contributions.

Though baseball fans may have forgotten the contributions of Bill Voiselle (all one must do is sing the refrain of Spahn and Sain, and then pray for rain), it's nice to know that the people in his home state remembered him. More importantly, Bill Voiselle never forget them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Chops Original: Braves Caravan- Dan Uggla

The Braves caravan made a stop at the City of Refuge on Wednesday, January 23, helping to prepare meals for the residents and students of the Atlanta non-profit group. City of Refuge offers individuals and families a refuge from crisis, as well as many resources to "restore their health and self respect and transition into lives of personal responsibility, value, and independence."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

One Score and Zero Years Ago: The 1993 Baseball Card Magazine Braves

Although I've subscribed to a few magazines on my iPad for over a year now, the jury is still out on whether or not I'm a fan of the digital format. The obvious advantage is the ability to have it immediately available for download- as opposed to having to wait up to a week later to have it show up torn, wet, or worse- to not even receive it. I also like the fact that, as someone whose house isn't a mac-mansion, I don't have to worry about storage space for older issues.

For all of the pros, there's still this: I just like having a hard copy to hold, or to keep as a collectible should it have an article on a Braves player. You can't frame that iPad SI cover.

Imagine if the hobby still had that great publication, Baseball Card Magazine. Were I to subscribe to it, there would be no opportunity to collect the cards they inserted into the magazine. Perhaps they would include them as a digital bonus, but I don't want to collect digital cards. I know, it sounds odd that I say that- as someone who enjoys making digital cards to publish on my blog. Still, I prefer my cards to be something material, something I can hold, flip, drop (accidentally, of course), put in a binder, put in a holder.

Braves 1993 Baseball Cards Magazine 1968 Topps Replicas:
#9 Deion Sanders 14 Javy Lopez/Mike Kelly 52 Tom Glavine 53 Steve Avery 59 Terry Pendleton
66 Chipper Jones 68 Ryan Klesko 75 Greg Maddux

That Knee to the Nuts Moment:
Looking for the cards I do have (see above photo) for a scan, and realizing I couldn't find my Chipper anywhere. Searched high and low for it, but it's nowhere to be found.

Who They Didn't Include:

Jeff Blauser- The shortstop had (up to that point) the best season of his career in 1993, earning his first All-Star appearance while setting career highs in at-bats, hits, runs scored, RBI, stolen bases, and walks. He also had a very good WAR that season- registering a 5.6 (Baseball Reference).      
What the Investment Advisor on the Back of the Card Would Say: While a solid major league player, Jeff hasn't lived up to the expectations of being the fifth overall draft pick (1984). Not a player in invest in.

David Justice- DJ seemed to be the ideal Braves representative in a set such as this one: star player, good looking guy, married to Halle Berry, charismatic. The stuff made for magazines- not only sports, but People, Star, and other tabloids available at the supermarket.

What the Investment Advisor on the Back of the Card Would Say: With his handsome looks, a Hollywood Wife, and charismatic character, superstar David Justice only needs a World Series ring to lift him into the stratosphere.

Otis Nixon- Singles hitters aren't very sexy among collectors, so it's doubtful that Otis would have even been considered for a card in this set. But this is my creation, so I'll put whomever I wish in it.

What the Investment Advisor on the Back of the Card Would Say: Nixon is the catalyst of the Braves offense, but is a singles hitter. Collectors prefer power over speed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Chops Original: Braves Caravan #72 Ricky Mast

"The caravan thunders onward, to the distant dream of the city. The caravan carries me onward, on my way at last- on my way at last."~  Rush's "Caravan"

With the first stop on the Braves Caravan taking place yesterday, I thought it was time to roll out the first of the 2013 Chops original "Braves Caravan" set. Of course, I was in need of newer photos, and thanks to the magic of the internet- presto!

Up first, a non-roster invitee... everybody's favorite former fan cave resident and singing extraordinaire, Number 72- Riiiiicky Mast!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1947 Bonds Bread Tommy Holmes

As a child, we would sometimes visit my dad's parents house. I never enjoyed going out there- wasn't much to do (unless the cousins were out there, in which case we might run around the large back yard), and I never had much of a relationship with either of them. It was an old, small farmhouse that always had a cold feel to it- even in the summertime.

The one thing I came away with from those visits was an appreciation for history- for things that were old. You see, my grandmother collected antiques (an interest she passed on down to my dad) and was also a local historian of sorts. So there was a great sense of history of the community I grew up in, as well as family history, all around me.

And though I claim to have an appreciation for that history- I still have never been particularly compelled to thoroughly research either the history of our community, nor of our family.

Despite my ignorance, I do know that accused axe-murderer Lizzie Borden is in our family tree. She was tried in the death of her father and stepmother, but was acquitted by a jury. You know, they say that every family has that crazy aunt or uncle...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Braves in Upcoming 2013 Topps I

Today at lunch I stumbled across the complete checklist for the upcoming 2013 Topps Series I set. Thanks to the folks at Cardboard Connection, who supplied the list in its entirety, I was able to copy down a list of the Braves cards included in 'The Chase' this year. While their base cards in Series I are few, there's plenty of insert cards for Braves fans to chase. In fact, it seems like there's too many insert sets listed- leaving me to wonder if they didn't include Series I and Series II?  Hopefully, I didn't overlook any...
Custom 2013 Topps

Base Set:

  • 46 Craig Kimbrel
  • 105 Freedie Freeman
  • 115 Tim Hudson
  • 116 Brian McCann
  • 126 Dan Uggla
  • 201 Jonny Venters
  • 222 Jason Heyward

Out of Bounds-SP Variations

  • 105 Freddie Freeman

Silk Collection (#'d to 50)
  • SC20 Brian McCann
  • SC32 Jason Heyward
  • SC47 Craig Kimbrel
  • SC54 Tim Hudson
  • SC73 Freddie Freeman
  • SC76 Dan Uggla

'72 Minis
  • 7 Craig Kimbrel
  • 8 Dan Uggla

'72 Mini Relics (#'d to 25)
  • TMR-CK Craig Kimbrel

'72 Mini Autos (#'d to 10)
  • TMA-DU Dan Uggla

Chasing History
  • CH26 Chipper Jones
  • CH31 Warren Spahn
  • CG35 Hank Aaron

Chasing History Relics
  • CHR-JAH Jason Heyward

Chasing History Autos
  • CHA-DJ David Justice (hopefully pictured with Atlanta!)
  • CHA-HA Hank Aaron
  • **Gary Sheffield is also included, although unlikely to be pictured in an Atlanta uni

Chasing the Dream Relics
  • CDR-BRB Brandon Beachy

Chasing History Cut Signatures (1 of 1)- **no confirmation on which teams they are shown with; all are former Braves
  • CHCS-HW Hoyt Wilhelm
  • CHCS-RSC Red Schoendienst
  • CHCS-WC Walker Cooper

Cy Young Award Winner Commemorative Relics
  • CY-JSM John Smoltz
  • CY-WS Warren Spahn

In the Name Relics (Letters from 2012 All Star Workout Jerseys)- #'d to 1
  • ITN-CJ Chipper Jones
  • ITN-CKl Craig Kimbrel
  • ITN-DU Dan Uggla
  • ITN-MB Michael Bourn

MVP Award Winner Commemorative Relics
  • MVP-CJ Chipper Jones
  • MVP-DM Dale Murphy

Pennant Chase Code Cards
  • PC-2 Atlanta Braves

Proven Mettle Copper Coins 
  • PMC-HA Hank Aaron

Silver Slugger Award Winners
  • SS-DM Dale Murphy

The Greats
  • TG-11 John Smoltz
  • TG-17 Chipper Jones
  • TG-20 Tom Glavine
  • TG-22 Hank Aaron

The Greats Relics (#'d to 25)
  • TGR-JS John Smoltz

The Greats Autos (#'d to 10)
  • TGA-HA Hank Aaron

Manufactured Commemorative Patches
  • CP-8 Jason Heyward
  • CP-20 Chipper Jones

Manufactured Rookie Patches
  • RCP-20 Chipper Jones

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One Score and Zero Years Ago: The 1993 Topps 1 Braves

The year 1993 marked a big change in the way that Topps distributed its baseball cards. For the first time in twenty years, the popular flagship brand was now released in multiple series (update or traded sets not included), combining 825 cards between Series I & II- making it the largest Topps set ever. It also marked the beginning of full color-player photos on the card backs. Times, they were a changin'.

1993 Topps Series I Atlanta Braves
#8 Mark Wohlers, 35 John Smoltz, 62 Rafael Belliard, 88 Mike Stanton, 102 Brian Hunter, 116 Mark Lemke, 144 Kent Mercker, 170 Dave Justice, 198 Alejandro Pena, 224 Sid Bream, 251 Mike Bielecki, 280 Tom Glavine, 306 Damon Berryhill, 333 Otis Nixon, 393 Ron Gant

Black Gold Braves
This insert set consisted of forty-four cards, with cards #1-22 available in Series I and #23-44 in Series II.
The Braves representatives in the Black Gold set were #6 Tom Glavine and #15 Terry Pendleton. The set also included a card of Greg Maddux (#12) and one of Fred McGriff (#13)-although both players are featured as members of their previous teams.

The Could Have Beens:
Good ol' Topps- they always seem to find a way to include players in Series I who are no longer on the team they're pictured with. Despite no longer being with Atlanta, Pena and Bielecki were shown as Braves in Series I. Others who could have been included in Series I:

Lonnie Smith- Signed as a free-agent by the Pirates on January 4, 1993, Smith spent five seasons in Atlanta-three of which he was a starter. And while he played the role of fifth outfielder in '92, he still managed to get 158 at-bats in 84 games. With a healthy outfield in 1993 (Gant 157 games, Nixon 134 games, Justice 157 games), and the fourth guy (Deion Sanders) getting 272 at-bats there wouldn't have been much of an opportunity for Skates, had he still been with the team.

Jeff Treadway- Released by the Braves on November 20, 1992 and signed by the Indians on December 17, 1992. It's easy to forget about Treadway. Beginning in their worst-to-first year, the infielders most of us fans remember are Belliard, Blauser, and Lemke. And so it seems strange to look back on the '91 season and wonder how did Bobby Cox get over 300 plate appearances for each of four different players out of the shortstop/second base position. Lemke, of course, was one of the stars in the 1991 World Series, and Treadway saw his plate appearances drop to only 136 during the '92 campaign. The Braves added Bill Pecota prior to the '93 season as their utility guy, while Treadway hit .303 in 221 at-bats for the Indians.

Tommy Gregg- Yet another player who had experienced the horrible teams of the late eighties-through 1990, Gregg saw his playing time/at-bats diminish as the team turned it around in '91. Tommy actually got 19 starts in during the Cinderella season, but started only one game in the '92-being used pretty much exclusively as a left-handed bat off the bench. Gregg was waived after the 1992 season, and was selected off the wire on December 1st by the Reds. While the '93 Braves team was right-handed heavy on the bench, Sid Bream became the new Tommy Gregg once the Crime Dog was acquired.

Vinny Castilla- Signed out of Mexico as a 24 year-old shortstop, Castilla made his major league debut in 1991, when a September call-up netted him 5 at-bats. Another call-up in '92 brought 16 more ABs. After the season,  Atlanta left Castilla unprotected for the expansion draft. Colorado drafted him with the 40th overall pick, and the rest, they say, is history.

David Nied-
Nied made his major league debut on September 1, 1992. Starting on the road, and against the Mets, the Braves' top pitching prospect appeared in six games during the stretch (starting two of them), and finished with a 3-0 record, 19 strikeouts in 23 innings, 1.17 ERA, and 0.652 WHIP. After the season, the righty was left unprotected for the expansion draft, where Colorado drafted him number one overall. As the new face of the franchise, Nied instantly became the team's ace, and will forever be linked to the Rocks- not only by being their first big league player, but also starting their first game (April 5, 1993 at Shea Stadium), pitching its first complete game,  and its first complete-game shutout.

Armando Reynoso-
Another '93 expansion draft pick (taken by Colorado with the 58th overall pick), Reynoso had two brief stints in Atlanta during the '91 and '92 seasons. With the expansion Rockies, however, Armando would find a place to call home for the next four seasons. He was clearly the team's best starter that inaugural season, going 12-11 with a 4.00 ERA in 30 starts.

Randy St. Claire-
St. Claire spent most of the '91 and '92 seasons in AAA Richmond, although he did log 44 innings in the majors those two years for the Braves. The reliever began the 1993 season Richmond, again, but was released on May 3rd after pitching 9.2 innings (6 games) with a 2.79 ERA. Signed by Seattle on May 14th, St. Claire would pitch appear in 27 games for Seattle's AAA Calgary team before getting released on August 5th. The Blue Jays signed him and assigned him to AAA Syracuse, where he would finish out the season by appearing in 14 games.

The Unique Item- Tom Glavine Blank Back Proof 
A quick search on eBay today netted this unique item, which I had never seen previously. It comes from the Topps Vault.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Faux Food-Issue Friday: Antico Steve Lyons

Steve Lyons' Braves career lasted an entire 11 games during the 1992 season. And, believe it or not, he never had a card issued of him with the team. Well, I think it's time that 'Psycho' had one-and so I've created this Antico Pizza old-school card.

Here's one of Psycho's Finest Moments:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vindicated! That Hallmark Moment

I already mentioned an awesome Christmas gift given to me by my pastor and friend, Rick. Another gift that I have yet to post on is this little beauty. It came with an ornament of the Hammer (which has been since put away with the other ornaments), and was produced by Scoreboard in 1997.

With Barry Bonds receiving only 36.2% of the vote today, I can't help but wonder if the true home run champ feels somewhat justified?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Rare Find for a Friend

1952 Ventura Braves George Owen

When one thinks of baseball cards from the year 1952, I doubt that a minor-league card produced by Globe Printing Company of  Fresno, California would come to mind. For Bill Harp of Austin, Tx., that was exactly the case.

Mr. Harp is a long time family friend of former Braves minor-leaguer George Owen, who played in the Braves system from 1950-1952. And so when the time came to begin looking for a birthday gift for the 86 year-old Owen, Harp wanted to get his friend a piece of history- a link to his past- and it proved to be a labor intensive project. You can read the Fort-Worth Star Telegram article here. It's a great read, and I encourage you to do so.

Although he only played four professional seasons, none of which were spent in the majors, Owen did have a card produced featuring him with the class C Ventura Braves of the California league, where he spent the 1950 and 1952 seasons.

Measuring 2-1/4" x 3-3/8", the cards feature black and white photos, are unnumbered, and have blank backs. According to the SCD Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards (2010 edition), the minor league cards were usually given away at the ballpark, either one-per-week or on a one-per-homestand basis-which accounts for the rarity of complete sets. This is quite common, obviously, but the Star Telegram piece also reveals that players had been given a team set and 10 to 50 of their own cards to hand out to family, friends, or anyone else they may encounter.

Thanks to Bob Lemke, former editor and publisher for Krause Publications, we have an idea of the print run for the Ventura set. As posted on his blog in 2009, Lemke mentioned a six-card sheet of the 1952 Ventura Braves owned by former California League statistician and (unofficial) league historian Bill Weiss. This sheet contains marginal notes stating that 3,000 sheets were to be delivered before April 14. With Globe having printed their cards six to a sheet, and with fourteen Ventura Braves cards cataloged, we are left with four other unknown Braves players cards that were issued.

1952 Ventura Braves Team Issue:

  • Al Aguilar
  • Bud Belardi
  • Frank Followell
  • Glenn Hittner
  • Lee Kast
  • Richie Morse
  • Frank Nubin
  • George Owen
  • Manny Perez
  • Jose Perez
  • Harley Resh
  • Jack Schlarb
  • Bob Sturgeon
  • Billy Wells

Unfortunately, a flood in the basement of Globe's San Jose plant years ago destroyed boxes of cards and other materials.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Yet Another Felipe Alou Item

1994 Topps Legends #1 Felipe Alou
In a recent post, I featured the autobiography of Felipe Alou-which I received as a Christmas gift this year.  While I have had a few Alou cards in my Braves collection, one card that had eluded me until recently is this 1994 Topps Leyendas (Legends) card. 

Topps released a special factory set of bilingual cards in 1994, each card almost identical to the regular issued card -with the exception of the backs being printed in both English and Spanish. The set, said be be limited to 5,000 sets, was released as a test issue in areas with a higher Hispanic population and included ten special Topps Leyendas (Legends) cards which featured retired Latin stars. 

Others in set: 
#2 Ruben Amaro #3 Luis Aparico #4 Rod Carew #5 Chico Carrasquel #6 Orlando Cepeda #7 Juan Marichal, #8 Minnie Minoso #9 Cookie Rojas #10 Luis Tiant

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I recently discovered that the 1992 O-Pee-Chee set included two Braves players left off its American counterpart.

#392 Mark Grant

#405 Nick Esasky

Why the Canadian confectionery company decided to include these two players is a mystery. Granted, both were veterans who had had moderate amounts of success, but each player missed the 1991 season due to injuries. In fact, Esasky would never play in the majors again, with the 1990 season being his final MLB season.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Second Blog

I've recently decided to begin a second blog which will be dedicated to things other than Braves cards and collectibles. By 'things', I'm referring to baseball and the hobby. In other words, it's just an attempt to expand my horizons, as the old cliche goes.

Here's a link to the blog and my first entry, which begins a 31 Days Until 2013 Topps countdown. Thirty-One cards-each with a unique number from 1-31.