Sunday, March 31, 2013

New (To Me) Gypsy Queen

Wow- there's been a lot of retail 2013 Gypsy Queen making its way onto eBay. And as I have said before, I'm not a big fan of the regular-sized GQ base cards. I do, however, like the minis and the inserts.

That being said, my collection doesn't have but maybe two or three cards from GQ. Well, make that five now. I received these three inserts from 2011 GQ in the mail today.

There's the Future Stars cards:

The awesomeness that is called Wall Climbers:

and of course Home Run Heroes

Anyone else having 90s flashbacks- perhaps of Fleer Ultra? Obviously these are not all foil and flash, but I'm speaking in terms of insert titles. I only hope that Topps doesn't go to the well too many times on these things.

Hope everyone has a nice day this Easter day!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Food-Issue Friday: 2001 Armour Stars Greg Maddux

2001 Armour Stars #5 Greg Maddux

2001 Armour Stars #5 - Greg Maddux - Courtesy of

Released as a seven-card set by Playoff, the 2001 Armour Stars set has a color scheme which resembles, if even just a little, the 1995 Tombstone Pizza cards. These cards, however, seem to be much more difficult to obtain- a search on eBay will net very few hits. Perhaps one of them will one day be mine!

While many sets contain personal info about the player, this set features a trivia question on the back of the card about which condiments the player prefers on his hot dogs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

64/13 Counterparts: Mutts

This Counterparts post isn't going to be a numerical one; no, Topps screwed that up for me. Instead, I'll just do a comparison of two cards whose 1964/2013 counterparts are mutts. 

Number 65
1964 Topps #65 Felipe Alou
( counterpart: 2013 Heritage #65 Carlos Quentin- Padres)

Number 95
2013 Heritage #95 B.J. Upton
(Counterpart: 1964 Topps #95 George Altman)

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, it's too bad that Topps couldn't have included Bossman Jr.'s big  little brother in his D-Backs uni, but with the Braves name on top, ala the Felipe Alou.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

64/13 Counterparts: #53 Menke & The Rev

1964 Topps #53 Denis Menke

  The back of Denis Menke's card calls him a 'jack of all trades'- and it certainly held true over the course of his thirteen seasons in the bigs. Menke appeared in at least 100 games at four different positions (third base-841 games, shortstop-420, second base-233, and first base-162 games) during his career. As one who played so many positions, you would think Menke was strictly a back-up, but that's not the case; he was often a starter at the four different positions.

  Denis had his best season in the majors in 1964, when he set career highs in homers (20), slugging percentage (.479), and doubles (29). His finest moment during that season: September 7th, at Chicago, in the first game of a double header. He torched the Cubs that day going 3-4 with a double, 2 Homers, 3 RBI, 4 runs scored, and 1 walk.

2013 Topps Heritage #53 Tyler Pastornicky

  The Rev, as Pastornicky is often called, may never have as long of a career as Menke did, but he should get more service time in the majors down the road. Whether or not it's with the Braves remains to be determined. He won't give you much defense, but could provide some speed and a right-handed bat off the bench.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy 47th for #47

Happy 47th birthday to #47, Tom Glavine

1993 Donruss Elite Dominator #14 of 20

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Friggin' Know-It-Alls

Player's Ink: 2012 Leaf Draft Alex Wood

One of my favorite things about spring training is to see which players are creating a buzz in their camps. While the main noise seems to be over the Dodgers uber-prospect Yasiel Puig, the Braves have had a few players of their own who seem to be the center of conversation: Julio Teheran, Evan Gattis, and last year's second round pick Alex Wood. I recently picked up this card of the former UGA Bulldog for $1.99

Signature Delivery:
Despite being a lefty with a plus fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a really good change-up, it's Wood's delivery-described as everything from funky to downright unorthodox- that has people talking early in his professional career. During his delivery, Alex lifts his right (lead) leg and angles it toward second base before uncoiling from what is a bit of a crouch, just prior to his stride towards home plate-showing the batter a lot of leg and elbow, making it difficult for the hitter to pick up the ball. As he lands on his right foot, Alex does a little hop backwards- which he believes adds deception to his pitches.

Signature Stuff: 
Plus fastball (which he can run up to 95-96) with lots of movement; good change-up.While his breaking stuff has improved this spring (he credits an improved curveball to tips from Kimbrel and Venters), he still needs to add a good third pitch to his repertoire. It will determine whether he remains a starter or ends up a reliever.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Card Show- Five and Sid & Sam

One last post featuring a few out of the quarter bin and two from the purdyest set you'll eva see...

Sid and Sam
While Sid Gordon made the move to Milwaukee with the Braves in 1953, Sam Jethroe found himself playing in Toledo for the Braves' AAA team. The two players would be included with three others and $100,000 in a deal for Pittsburgh's Danny O'Connell.

1994 Sportsflics #160 Chipper Jones
I know I had this at one time- must have gotten rid of it in one of my earlier card purges. Although I never was really that ga-ga over the Sportsflics, I was happy to pick this one up for my Chipper collection. Awesome picture from Spring Training.

2000 Topps Stars #47, 165 Chipper Jones and Mad Dog
Again, not a fan of this set, but I'll pick these two up for my pc of each player.

  2000 Topps Gallery #16 Chipper Jones
Along with Stadium Club, this is one set I'd like to see brought back. Instead, we get A & G and overkill on 5-Star, Triple Threads, etc.

1975 Hostess #3 Darrell Evans
Ugly cut and a nice crease through Darrell's face and forehead. What the heck- I'll take it I took it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Counterparts That Make No Sense

I'm really trying to figure out why Topps chose the subject they did for card #35 in this year's Heritage set. After all, they included B.J. Upton in the set as a Brave- and so there's no reason for them to believe that free-agent Michael Bourn would resign with the team. Oh, yes- there's one more thing. He's a speedy center fielder and the man who graces card #35 in the 1964 set is a slugging third baseman. I can see how easy it would be to confuse the two type of players. My bad.

In regards to the '64 Mathews, I recently did a post on it, which you can read here in case you missed it.
Needless to say, it would have made more sense for Topps to put Juan Francisco in the set at card number 35- but I guess that's not how they roll. So instead of featuring Juan Bomb there, we've got the new Indian's lead-off man. Or, taking a cue from yesteryear...

The Way it Was:

The Way it Is:

The Way it Should Be:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

64/13 Counterparts- Or Is It?

I got lazy last year and didn't do much with the counterparts series I began back in 2010. In fact, I went back through the archives and found that I did one whopping Counterparts post- not exactly what I had in mind when I started that series. Having just received my 2013 Heritage Braves team set, and vowing not to let that happen again, let's get back to business...

2013 Heritage #22 Andrelton Simmons
 I was disappointed to learn that Andrelton was assigned card number twenty-two in this year's Heritage set. After all, there's no Braves player with that card number in the '64 set- giving me no former Brave to compare him to. Which, when you think about it, pretty much says it all-because I can't think of any former Brave shortstop who can even compare defensively to Andrelton. Perhaps Rafael Furcal, or Alex Gonzalez, but that's a big maybe.

While folks have been raving about his defense (and rightfully so), I think it was be his offense that will surprise a lot of people this season. Atlanta will reportedly use him out of the lead-off position, and with the firepower that the Braves boast, it will give Andrelton an opportunity to score a lot of runs. 

Custom 1964 #22b Mike De La Hoz
De La Hoz certainly wasn't the defensive player that Simmons is. The utility infielder was below-average in the field, but, like Simmons, he did have a decent bat. 

While July 8 is a day that Andrelton Simmons will remember (he broke his right pinkie on that date last year as he slid into second), it's also a day that Mike De La Hoz will always remember. On that day in 1965, the Cuban native hit an eighth-inning pinch-hit home run against the Astros. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, he tied the game with an RBI single. In the bottom of the twelfth, Mike singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on Felipe Alou's sacrifice bunt, and then scored the winning run on Frank Bolling's single off of Ron Taylor.

De La Hoz did have three cards as a Brave- 1964 not being one of them. He did, however, appear in the set as a member of the Indians (card #372).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Be Prepared! Boy Scouts Braves

For a few years now I've been on the lookout for a small set of Braves cards put out by the Atlanta-area Boys Scouts of America. The thirteen card set is unique in that only one card was issued per year from 1992 until 2004- with a variety of card designs on the front of the cards. The backs are red, white, and blue and includes personal information, career records (including post-season), and career highlights.

Well, my search had been fruitless until recently. If you've been following my posts here recently, you might recall that I've been 'in the zone'- picking up many items that have eluded me over the years (either due to scarcity or funds). Surprisingly, these two cards were from different sellers- so I guess they are actually some of these out there. Another shocker: the price. I paid the same amount for the Blauser ($1.99) as I did for Maddux.

At the bottom of the back side of the cards is the following statement: Only boys that are members of the Boy Scouts of America and in good standing are eligible for this commemorative BSA World Series Championship Baseball Card. It is not to be sold. One printing only.

It then goes on to include a checklist- with another name being added each year.

The complete checklist is as follows:
1992 Jeff Treadway
1993 Dale Murphy
1994 Deion Sanders
1995 Greg McMichael
1996 Ryan Klesko
1997 Jeff Blauser
1998 Greg Maddux
1999 John Rocker ~ I wonder if they didn't regret this one!
2000 John Smoltz
2001 Tom Glavine
2002 Kevin Millwood
2003 Marcus Giles
2004 Russ Ortiz

Unfortunately, this series didn't feature a Chipper card.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Food-Issue Friday: 1982 Burger King Collector Lid- Dale Murphy

1982 Burger King Braves
Issued by Burger King in 1982, these plastic lids measured 3-5/8" in diameter and were placed on special Coca-Cola cups which listed the scores of the Braves' 13 game win streak to star off the beginning of the 1982 baseball season.
The set itself contains 27 different lids- most notably this Murphy that I just picked up for $2.26. The set also contains Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, as well as two rookies from that season: Steve Bedrosian and Brett Butler- both of which are on my want list.

As you might expect, having been used on a cup of soda, the lid does contain a few light stains. Other than that, though, it's in pretty good shape.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Card Show #3- The Big One!

If you enjoy vintage cards and are, like me, on a limited budget, then I'm sure you have had to fight off the temptation to add a reprint to your collection. Perhaps it's an Aaron, Mantle or Mays rookie for your team or player collection. As a Braves team set collector (not only Atlanta, but Boston and Milwaukee as well), I know I will probably never finish certain sets due to the costs of certain cards- so the reprints are a nice alternative to 'finishing' that '52 Topps team set.

Well, after this past weekend's card show, there's still hope-for the time being, anyway.

After working a deal with the guy I buy some of my vintage stuff from, I noticed he had that elusive '58 Topps #418 World Series Batting Foes card featuring The Mick and The Hammer. It's one of those cards that I've been eyeing the reprint, yet have never pulled the trigger on. But I've been in the zone lately, as far as finding stuff that have been eluding me for years- and I've been able to pick a lot of them up for peanuts. And while $40, to me, ain't peanuts- it is affordable for a card of this 'magnitude' And so, yes, I broke out the wallet and snagged this card in all its glory. Ain't she a beauty?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Sucker Born Every Minute

 Earlier this week, I started watching an auction on eBay- not because I was interested in buying it, but to see how foolish some folks are. And judging by what the 'card' sold for, some folks are just plain stupid.

To the guy who sold this card, all I can say is good for you for getting what you could out of it.

Hell, I'd have just bought the original coin on eBay for $6

Player's Ink: David Justice

"By any definition, David Justice is a natural... his swing is a Sunday morning hymn."~ journalist Gary Pomerantz

2013 Topps Chasing History David Justice

Signature At-Bat: Hitter talking to himself, upright stance, bat waving high above head, left elbow high, high leg kick, hands kept back late-then exploding through the zone.

Signature Auto: Mercedes-Benz featuring the vanity plates that read: SWEET SWING

Signature Cost: $4

When I think of David Justice, the first word that comes to mind is swing. With a swing of the bat, Justice made fans forget the comments he made about them prior to game 6 of the 1995 World Series- and winning the Series, as it would be, on the very same swing- and his Braves career would end with a separated shoulder while swinging at a Denny Neagle change-up in May of 1996. It was a swing that Lou Pinella once compared to Ted Williams, and one that would have spoken about more if he wasn't a contemporary of Griffey Jr.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2013 Chops #3: Juan Francisco

It's amazing how much a job opening and competition can do to motivate someone. With the third base job up in the air and stiff competition from recently acquired Chris Johnson, Juan Francisco is having himself a pretty good spring thus far. Of course, IT IS ONLY SPRING TRAINING! 

Monday's Marvelous Mail Day: Book Ends!

Rumors and speculation never die an easy death. Baseball fans, and especially Braves fans, began hearing it last summer: even though he announced that 2012 would be his final MLB season, Chipper Jones will come back and play for another team. Probably an A.L. team. You know, what with the DH and all.

While the rumors were fairly quiet during the off-season, they started back up when Chipper showed up at Braves camp earlier this spring. He can't remain retired. He's getting itchy. It's Brett Favre all over again.

And then it started all over again yesterday. The New York Times reported that Brian Cashman would love to have Larry on the team. Others took the story and ran- ESPN had something on their site, leading a co-worker of mine (Yankee fan) to try and convince me it was a done deal. I heard elsewhere that Texas was going to sign him. Okay, whatever.

Well- Larry took to the 'twitta to set the story straight:

After wiping the sweat off my brow, I headed home for lunch- where there there four packages waiting for me. One of the pieces is something I'll feature this Friday on the Food-Issue feature. Another is one I'll post on an upcoming Ink post, but the other two contained new Chipper inserts.

2013 Topps Commemorative Patch Chipper Jones #RCP-20
Of all the different manu-patch concepts, this one is, by far, my favorite. Nothing I'd try to put together as a set, but for a team or player collector...cha-ching!

2013 Topps Commemorative Patch Chipper Jones #CP-20

Okay- I'll admit I love this card. I love the player. I love the patch- so much so that I mocked up a manu-patch featuring the Chipper retirement patch for my 2013 Chops set. And then I saw this-way to go Topps, way to steal my thunder!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2 Large for $4

No, it's not an advertisement for Little Caesar's Pizza- it's my second group of cards from this weekend's card show.

 Since this year's Heritage set is modeled after the '64 design, I am trying to make sure I finish not only the team set, but pick up some of the odd-balls from this year as well: coins, tattoos, and Giants. And so to begin the adventure, I recently started watching a couple of Giant Warren Spahn's on eBay. The cheaper of the two had a BIN price of $4.95 plus shipping. Not bad, but I held out and found out it certainly pays to be patient sometimes (which for me is often difficult). Especially considering  I picked up two Braves this weekend  for less than the price of that one Spahn.

As much as I like these cards, I don't know what to do for storing them. I like to keep all of my Topps cards in binders- does anyone know if Ultra-Pro makes anything for cards like these?

1964 Topps Giants #26 Joe Torre,  #31 Warren Spahn

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Card Show Pick-Ups #1

Okay, so spring hasn't officially arrived- although with the warmer temperatures and the wind that accompanies March in southwest Idaho, it does feel like it. And since the quarterly card show falls in December (the winter show), I consider this the spring one.

Anyway, I left the house this morning with something I normally don't take with me to card shows- trade bait. I recently went through some stuff and found about twenty doubles of vintage Braves and figured it might be worth trying to trade them towards other vintage stuff I need. My favorite dealer at these shows was there, as usual, with his awesome selection of older baseball- and he was happy to take a few off my hands and apply the credit towards my final purchase. It wasn't much, but it did allow me to get some that I otherwise wouldn't have.

1967 Topps #350 Joe Torre
Not only did I acquire this Torre, but there was also a package awaiting me when I got home, containing a copy of Joe's 1997 autobiography, Chasing the Dream.

1958 Topps #289 Series Hurling Rivals Burdette/Shantz
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the Yankees? Although it's only spring training, I did enjoy watching Atlanta beat New York this morning. Nothing like going to a card show, then coming home and watching baseball. If you ever hear older players comment on how they would never be friendly with opposing players-don't believe them.

1958 Topps #377 Milwaukee Braves Team Card
This is actually a checklist card for the 1958 Topps set. One thing I've never seen on another checklist: the cards being listed alphabetically, with the card number after the players last name.

I did pick up one other card from the '58 set, but it's a glorious one which deserves its own post.

1971 Topps #8 Mike McQueen, 346 Lum Harris, 463 Tom Kelley, 507 George Stone
After picking up these '71s, I'm left needing 8 to finish the team set- which, apart from the '52, '53, and '54 sets, is the most on any one season's wantlist.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Food-Issue Friday: 1977 Kellogg's Andy Messersmith

"...and give us these days, our daily bread. Only you we praise, almighty dollar. Money- my personal savior. Money- a material lust. Money- life's only treasure. Money- in God we trust." ~ Money (In God We Trust) by Extreme

Bread. Dough. Munayyy.

Andy Messersmith became the poster boy for free agency after arbitrator Peter Seitz issued a ruling that declared that he and fellow pitcher Dave McNally were free to negotiate with any team they like, nullifying baseball's reserve clause in the process.

Prior to his declared free-agency, Messersmith was one of the best pitchers in baseball. After signing a three-year, $1 million contract, he struggled mightily- which didn't help with the public's perception of him. Prior to the ruling, Messersmith had what he called a "good rapport with fans", but those same fans soon turned on him. Fan mail turned to 'hate mail'- of which he estimated ninety-eight percent to be negative. Even his peers took the opportunity to rip him in the media. The game no longer was fun for the pitcher, and he later admited that the whole process was a heavier burden than he could bear. "It broke my back," he would say.

And while Messersmith wasn't horrible with his new team, he certainly didn't live up to the expectations that came with his large contract. After starting 28 games in 1976 and then 1977 being cut short at 16 games due to an injury, Messersmith's career with the Braves was over. He would be traded to the Yankees in the off-season.

Andy's time in New York lasted one year- all of six games (five starts). Injuries had again robbed him of the ability to pitch, to prove that he was worth the large contract he had signed. The Yankees then granted him his release in November of 1978, and in February of '79 he would sign with the team he never wanted to leave (the Dodgers). What started out as a desire to stay put (in LA) became a bitter irony.

 "All I wanted was a no-trade clause in my contract with the Dodgers. I told Peter O' Malley at the time I didn't want to do this. It had nothing to do with money."

It never does, of course.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Attention Aspiring Card Dealers

I recently purchased a 1993 Donruss Triple Play Gallery of Stars Greg Maddux card for the low, low price of 99 cents. It certainly sounded like a great price, but when I received the package today, I was in for a big disappointment. It wasn't that it was dinged, off-cut, scratched, or any other problem with the physical condition of the card. No, this problem had to do with another of my senses: the odor of the card.

You see- the seller is a smoker.

I could tell immediately upon opening the envelope. That pungent smell that is particularly offensive to former smokers.

At least he didn't charge extra for the film left behind on the card.

Look- I'm not here to campaign against smoking. But what I am saying is this: if you're selling cards- whether it be in a brick and mortar store or online (or both), please, please DO NOT SMOKE IN YOUR SHOP/HOME OFFICE!

That's one way to piss off the buyer and to ensure that you won't get repeat business. At least from this collector.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bowman Busts: Ardley Jansen

You've got to love this time of year. Not only do we have spring training games- with plenty of non-roster invitees in addition to guys on the forty-man rosters- but we also have the World Baseball Classic going on, with major leaguers, minor leaguers, and has-beens filling out global rosters. In other words, it's like a Bowman baseball set come to life.

2003 Bowman #238 Ardley Jansen
Signed by the Braves out of Wilemstad, Curacao at the age of 16, Ardley Jansen and fellow countryman Andruw Jones had more in common than just their initials, homeland, and organizational ties. Jansen, like Jones, was known for his power, defense, arm, and playing the game in the same effortless way as the former gold-glove winner. Likewise, he was known to have a contagious grin and charisma that compared to Andruw's.

   "When I talked to Andruw in spring training, that is one of the things he said to me- that I should try to be better than he is, and that's what I'm going to try to do."~ Jansen, while at Class A Rome, 2003

 Despite showing flashes of promise, Jansen could never find consistency- nor could he develop good pitch recognition. In eight minor league seasons in the Atlanta organization, Jansen appeared in 488 games- with all but 5 of them coming in Rookie, A, and High-A ball. His lone time spent at AA came in 2004 for Greenville, going 5-10 with a home run. His best season came in 2002, at Rookie-level Danville- where his slash line was .295/.341/.507 and he collected 10 homers and 44 RBI. He would later play for the Netherlands Antilles National team in the 2008 Americas Baseball Cup, as well as in the 2010 South America Games.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Custom 2013 Heritage: Justin Upton

While his brother appears in the 2013 Heritage set as a Brave, Justin Upton can be found in the high number SPs as a D-Back. That alone causes me to look forward to a possible update set.
 In the meantime, I'll settle for a custom card of him, ala the Felipe Alou card from the '64 set. In it, Alou is shown in his Giants cap and uniform, but with the Braves name on top.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2013 Chops #2 David Ross

One of the biggest disappointments this off season was seeing Ross sign with Boston. Braves fans, as well as the media, assumed that Rossy would re-sign with the Braves- but that wasn't the case. Often viewed as the best backup back-stop in the game, one can't really blame Ross for taking the gig with the Red Sox-where he gets not only a bigger payday, but should also get more playing time. He should also provide great leadership in the clubhouse- something the Braves will surely miss, as well.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Food-Issue Friday: 1954 Dan-Dee Potato Chips Max Surkont, Sid Gordon

Pitcher Max Surkont and outfielder Sid Gordon were two of the five players Milwaukee sent to Pirates in exchange for second baseman Danny O'Connell. Others included in the December 26, 1953 trade: Sam Jethroe, Curt Raydon, Fred Waters, and minor leaguer Larry Lasalle.

 Surkont's best years were behind him by the time he arrived in Pittsburgh. In 2.5 years in the Steel City, he produced a record of 16-32 and an ERA of 4.92, while allowing almost as many walks as strikeouts (159/163). Many attribute the pitcher's downfall to his affinity for food- the fans in Milwaukee often showered the portly pitcher with gifts, particularly Polish sausage. Max was happy to oblige, while watching his already large frame grow even bigger. A few years after retiring from the game, Surkont opened a restaurant, Surkont's Cafe, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where he had spent most of his life. He owned the cafe for twenty-one years before retiring in 1984, just two years before his death at age 64.

Pirates fans, players, and management surely knew who Sid Gordon was prior to acquiring the veteran outfielder. After all, it was Sid who hit the Braves' twelfth home run off of Pirates pitching during an August 30, 1953 doubleheader. Not only did Sid's homer give Milwaukee the league record for home runs by a team in a doubleheader, but it also gave the Braves another record: total bases for the two games (71). Gordon may not have been the player he once was, but he certainly was no slouch for the Pirates. The outfielder still displayed a keen eye at the plate- walking twice as often as he struck out, which was right on par for his career.
 He would appear in 131 games for the Bucs during the '54 season, and then another sixteen games for them in '55 before being traded back to the New York Giants, where he played his first seven years.