Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chip Chip, Hooray!

I've been neglecting my team sets for quite some time now. Sure, I've bought the current team sets as they have come out, but as far as the older ones I'm still working towards...forget it. With the exception of two from the 1996 Topps set, everything else has been going towards my player collections. Gotta feed the monster, I guess.

My most favoritest cards of all-time may be Topps, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate, or even enjoy, Upper Deck releases. Lord knows there were plenty to choose from during the nineties and through the first decade of the new millennium.  A recent Chipper binge included close to a dozen cards from various Upper Deck brands. Some, like those shown above, are shiny; others, not so much.

I'll probably be spending the rest of my life chasing down cards of #10- considering the number of Chipper Jones cards that have been produced. I have yet to get an accurate count of those in my collection, but there's no doubt that it's just a drop in the bucket. 

Everybody loves retro designs- well, maybe not everybody- and one of my favorites was the 2002 Donruss Originals set. All I needed to finish the Chipper run from that set was card #288, based on the 1986 design. I really miss all those pre-'93 Donruss products.

Speaking of retro/vintage designs... I picked up these two: one from the 2004 Upper Deck Vintage (#48) and 2000 U.D. Vintage (#M4).

Had to grab my magnifying glass to tell what year (1998) this Mystery Finest card is from:

And last, but not least, a few Collector's Choice cards. Yet another set that is sorely missed.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: If I Could Be Lyke (Mini) Mike

I didn't catch it on the air (I don't watch much live tv), and only found out about it while googling "be like Mike," but apparently Gatorade brought back an updated version of the 'Be like Mike' campaign earlier this year.

It's been a while since I've rolled out a Braves Lykes card on Food-Issue Friday and I have had this 1994 Lykes Mike Kelly mini in my 'Scan and Post' basket for months, so I think it's time to air it out.

Like Michael Jordan, Mike Kelly possessed great athletic abilities and when Atlanta drafted him #2 overall in the 1991 MLB draft, I thought it was a slam dunk pick (see what I did there?!). I've touched on this many times before, so I won't rehash it- I'll just note that things didn't turn out quite like we had hoped.

As with their previous sets, Lykes (the Braves hot dog concessionaire) issued the 1994 Atlanta Braves cards in two formats- one being standard-sized cards, issued three per Tuesday home game- and the other being a fold-out team photo set featuring smaller (2-1/8" x 3-1/8"), perforated cards. The team photo cards, though smaller than their counterparts, are identical in all other aspects (a change from previous years). The team photo cards were supposed to be issued during an August 14 home game, but didn't get handed out due to the players strike. Thus, they are far more difficult to find.

Whenever I find new Lykes- especially the mini '94s- I'm all like...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #36: From The Cradle to the Grave

Rare is the athlete whose entire career is spent in the same city. Rarer still is the athlete whose career is bookended by two events in the same city- but while with different teams. Andruw Jones is one such player.

2004 Sports Illustrated for Kids #388

At one end is Andruw Jones the kid. Nineteen years old, fresh off a minor league stint in which he hit .339/.421/.652 with 34 homers and 92 RBI over 116 games at 3 stops (including 5 homers in only 45 at-bats at AAA Richmond). The kid hits another 5 homers in 106 at-bats after getting the call to the Show.

The kid then finds himself at Yankee Stadium, New York City- a World Series debutant who homers in his first two at-bats. His youthful enthusiasm, perpetual smile and otherworldly talent helps us to forgive his occasional transgressions (lackadaisicalness, lack of strike-zone judgement). He is a kid, after all.

2006 Sports Illustrated for Kids

Fifteen years later the kid is now a man. His skills have diminished greatly, leading you to believe he's forty-four, not thirty-four. He's still a year away from his final major league game, but he has once again found himself in the City- not in Shea, but back at Yankee Stadium, this time wearing pin-stripes. He homers off of the Twins' Brian Duensing in his first at-bat of the season. And then later, this:

Quite honestly, this is the last moment I remember in Andruw Jones' major league career. I'm really glad that Sports Illustrated didn't create a card of Andruw towards the end of his career. Long gone were the days of his taking away home runs or extra-base hits. Instead, he looks like an old man, slipping as he's taking out the trash.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

From One Madduxfan to Another

A couple of weeks ago I happened across the Madduxfan31 website and contacted Mike, the proprietor, about a couple of Greg Maddux cards that I thought he would like to add to his collection. He was interested and mentioned that he had looked at my want list and found a card I was needing. Perfect! It's always nice to knock off a much needed card!

Thirteen or so years later, Clubhouse Collection remains one of the best relic cards around, IMO. No, they don't have eye-popping bits of patches- just plain, single color swatches- but the vintage look still leaves me wanting more.

Flipping it over, Topps doesn't hesitate to let us know that Fookie can do it all: extra-base machine, All-Star, defender. And I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that vintage (or retro) cards are one of the few things on earth where red and green go well together.

Thanks again, Mike, for the trade. As I mentioned in the email, when I get a little more time I want to try to find more stuff to send you. You have a nice selection of Andruw Jones cards that have caught my eye.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Copyright Line

I recently purchased a Baseball Cards magazine from December of 1987 for one of the three cards included in the publication but little did I know I would find inspiration from the rest of magazine's contents.

One feature, called 'New Stuff,' looked at changes to the 1987 Topps baseball stickers and how a number of collectors had noticed the "Made in Italy" legend was gone from the front and backs of the sticker packages, replaced by "Made in the U.S.A." The author then went on to say that "a Topps spokesman... would not even confirm that Panini had been printing Topps baseball stickers." That comment left me scrambling to my Dale Murphy binder to check the back of his Topps stickers. And there it was- as plain as the nose on my face: Made in Italy.

To be honest, it was quite a humbling experience. After all these years I had never noticed those three small words. If the packs showed Made in the USA, then I don't know what happened, because it was clear that the 1987 stickers were Made in Italy. At least that's what the sticker backs show.

We didn't see this in 1981...

Nor 1982...

It did show up in 1983...


Nothing different in 1984...

Much larger than their previous years, 1985 was Made in Italy, too...

Things didn't change in 1986- larger stickers, still Made in Italy...

We already looked at the 1987 stickers, so moving onto the 1988 set, we see....

not only are the stickers from '88 on a thicker stock, but we also see it indicated that they were printed in the U.S.A.