Sunday, April 23, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #17- Card from First Hand Collated Set

Today's prompt is very similar to day #3, which called for a card from the first set you tried to complete. Well, the first set I tried to complete also happens to be the first set I completed by hand-collation, so we're going back to 1991 Fleer Ultra.

While not my favorite card from the set, I do appreciate early cards of Omar. It still amazes me that should he make the Hall of Fame (which I believe he will), you will have had two HOFers make their MLB debut on the same day, in the same game. The other being The Kid, whose debut came in the same game as Omar's (April 3, 1989).

There's a little trivia to stick in your back pocket.

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #16: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Today's choice wasn't all that difficult- "a player whom you appreciate but don't like."

I can only guess that my dislike of George Brett came from the sense of arrogance that he projected. Although I wasn't a Royals fan, I did find myself rooting for them against those Yankees teams of the late '70s and early '80s. I found it much easier to root for players such as Amos Otis, Frank White, Willie Wilson and Al Cowens.

But I will say this: I found myself really learning to appreciate Brett, the player, after his playing days were over. I found myself feeling the same way about Joe Montana after he hung up his cleats (although I think my dislike of Montana was more about getting tired of hearing about him, not that he came across as a jerk).

I got this Brett oddball from Tony at Off Hiatus a couple of years ago-- I think he had featured some stuff and asked if anyone was interested. I was picking up a lot of oddballs at the time, requested it, and Tony was kind enough to ship it to me.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #15: Card from the 2010s

No matter what Bill Gates says, context -not content- is king. The late American artist Kenneth Nowland was correct when he said that it (context) "is the key- from that comes the understanding of everything."

To illustrate this point, we will be looking at a short-print photo variation from 2012 Topps baseball.

When I first saw this card of King Felix, I didn't know what to think. Sure, it was humorous, but what was going on? Why is Felix wearing glasses? Why is he wearing a wig? I didn't understand because I had no context from which to interpret the photo. Had we not gone without cable or satellite for close to ten years, I would have probably seen the commercial that provided the context for this picture.

I don't know about the team in your market, but each season Root Sports (formerly Fox Sports Northwest) air a few Mariners commercials to promote the team. One of the commercials the team aired for the 2011 season featured Larry Bernandez, the alter-ego of ace Felix Hernandez. The schtick centers around Felix's competitive nature, with the ace going to extreme lengths to pitch on his off-days. "Felix, I know you love to compete, but you just pitched yesterday" says manager Eric Wedge, after going out to the mound. "I'm Larry," deadpans Felix, who's sporting a mullet, sideburns and glasses. Wedge then looks at the name on the back of the jersey and sees it says "Bernandez," with the F having been changed to a B with the help of electricians tape. It gets even better after skip takes the ball from Larry, as the commercial ends with pitching coach Carl Willis asking (who I believe to be) bullpen coach Jaime Navarro "who's the new lefty?" to which Navarro replies, "Some guy named Jerry."

Back to today's card... the photo comes from the night of August 27, 2011, when Felix once again donned the Larry outfit to throw out the first pitch on Larry Bernandez bobblehead night.

It's too bad that Topps didn't have a chance to do a SSP card of Felix's other alter-ego, Jerry.

The original commerical:

First Pitch:

and finally, Brad Adams and Dave Valle interviewing Larry on Felix.

Friday, April 21, 2017

30-Day Baseball Challenge #14: Card from the 2000s

My interest in oddball cards dates back to my childhood, when I would often accompany my mother during her grocery shopping and would pick out some of my staples based upon whether or not a product included baseball (or football) cards in the box. I was fortunate in that my parents, though not wealthy, made enough money that we were able to buy the name-brand cereals (Kellogg's), snacks (Hostess) and bread (Wonder Bread-for football). Contrast this situation with the one that many families faced during the mid-late '70s fiscal crisis, where they were trying to maximize their dollar and avoided the name-brands for the generic ones.

As far as this particular card set (2002 Seattle Mariners Knothole Gang)- I can't find much information on its distribution. I recently bought the entire set, which includes this 2nd year Ichiro.

The term 'knothole gang' has its origins in the early part of the 20th century, but the practice dates earlier, when ballparks were being built with wooden fences. Children who weren't able to afford the price of a ticket would gather around the areas where the knotholes were, giving them a view to the game. Over time, teams (as well as individuals & businesses) began offering tickets to children in the community who otherwise might not be able to attend a professional baseball game. Some of these were offered through incentive programs (good grades, get into a game) at local schools, or given away to kids for good behavior. One individual, former Mariners manager and then later bench coach Rene Lachemann, started Lach's Kids, a program to help low-income children and urban youth groups attend major league games. You can read about his story here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trade with The Collective Mind

 I've been so preoccupied with the 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge lately that I am gettting behind on a few trade posts. This is never a good thing because if I don't begin a draft, odds are that it will slip my mind. Thankfully, I scanned some of the cards I received a couple of weeks ago in a trade with Greg from The Collective Mind- and then uploaded them into a draft. And while the draft got buried in my list of posts, I was able to somehow remember to sneak this into the middle of Tony's challenge.

Most of the cards that Greg sent were of the 2014 Topps Update variety- and were very much needed. Thanks to Greg, I was able to do something I thought would never be done: eliminate a large chunk of my wantlist for a set that no one seemed to open.

Next up were a couple of 1983 Topps cards, which is usually enough to get a collector excited. But when those cards are Expos... yeehaw. It sounds inevitable that baseball will be back in Montreal one day, and in my opinion it can't come soon enough.

Moving on... a Mike Fetters error card (incorrect card number on the back- I forget what the card number read), leaving me just one card away from completing this set. While I'm not crazy about the way the player's name were stamped on the bottom (and no position), I do like the photography found in the 1997 set. 

I was a fan of the design found on the 1995 Topps set when it was first released, but I've got to say... it hasn't aged very well. I guess its one saving grace is it's a little more challenging to put together due to a relatively low(er) production run due to the strike. Other than that, there's not too much to get excited about.

Thanks again for the trade, Greg- and yes, I, too, look forward to Round 2.

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #13: Card from the 1990s

A friend tagged me in a post on Facebook the other day, sharing with me a picture that Dale Murphy had tweeted prior to the opening of the Braves new Sun Trust Park. I had already seen the selfie, taken with fellow Atlanta legends Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, but thanked him for sharing it with me. His next comment elicited a laugh from me: "I know they're not totally dead to you." "I think of it like a divorce," I said. "You can't stand your ex, but there are kids involved."

Now, I've never been divorced, but I know how messy some can get. Likewise, there are marriages that end with both sides still being on friendly terms and where each still care for the other. My split with the Braves, a marriage consummated in 1981, is like the one where you can't stand your ex, but have kids involved. In this case, one of the kids involved happens to be Andruw Jones.

It's easy to look at today's card and automatically think of Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, where the 19 year-old Jones homered in his very first two at-bats. But a closer look at the card reveals a different moment: homering in the bottom of the 6th during Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS. Cardinals fans will undoubtedly have bad flashbacks to this game, in which the Braves routed the Cards 15-0 to pull off an improbably comeback to advance to the World Series. One thing of note regarding Jones' homer- the home run came in the sixth inning and the young budding star would walk in his next (and final) at-bat. Thus, when you consider  his first two WS plate appearances, he would homer in three straight post-season (official) at-bats.

Monday, April 17, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #12: Card from the 1980s

I had a specific card in mind for today's post but changed my mind after discovering the one I settled on.

The card I was going to feature is an oddball card (1981 Seattle Mariners Police card) of a player who provided us with a humorous on-the-field moment in May of 1981. Instead, I found something even better while searching to see how many cards were made of Lenny Randle while a member of the Mariners.

I don't own the '87 ProCards that depicts Randle reenacting his bizarre moment, but I would probably pick it up if I were able to locate one. I searched eBay and COMC, with no success- so maybe I'll have to go to my eBay search settings and make it so that I will be notified should one come up for sale.

If you don't know the context for the photo on the card, here ya go...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #11: Card from the 1970s

The '70s is probably my second least favorite decade (post-War era) for baseball cards. Having been born in 1969, I wasn't around to enjoy the 50s or 60s, but I still prefer the cards from those two decades over the ones from the 70s. I do have to note, however, that I very much enjoy cards from the latter part of the 70s (1976-1979), as that was the time period where I began cutting my teeth on collecting.

So to pick a card from the 1970s, I've got to go with something from that time period and the card I've chosen is...

1979 Topps #30 Dave Winfield

There's so much to like about this card- so much that screams "'70s". The razor-sharp sideburns, the flapless helmet, that brown and gold uniform (second to only the Astros tequila sunrise for '70s greatness).

Thanks for taking time to read this Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

70th Anniversary

Let me make this clear: I'm not a fan of manufactured relics. That doesn't mean I haven't bought them, or traded for them, but they're not something I would go after other than to add to a player collection or team set. And please, don't tell me that the Adams Jones 500 HR Futures Club manu-relic counts as one of the 'hits' from my hobby box. Just don't.

All that to say that the purchase of today's card was perfectly timed, as it showed up two days ago. I wasn't even aware that the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut was imminent . I know, go ahead and say it... 'you call yourself a baseball fan and did not know when Jackie Robinson Day is?' Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

It's really too bad that there is some sort of manu-relic on this card, because it is a really nice looking design. But for $1 plus $1 for shipping, I can overlook the inauthenticity and just rejoice that it's one more card for my team set.

You know what I'd like to see Topps do for Jackie Robinson Day? Purchase some game-used jerseys and use the numbers for the swatches. Actual game-used #42 jersey swatches. Now, for all I know it could have already been done.

Friday, April 14, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #10: Card from 60s

I don't have many cards from the 60s in my collection. In fact everything I have is from a Braves team set collection, from which today's card is pulled from.


There are some really cool cards from the decade and one of my favorites is the Hank Aaron MVP subset card (#484) from the 1961 set. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Burning. Er, Trading.

It's National Library Week (April 9-15), but instead of celebrating and picking up some new titles for my library, I decided to get rid of some books. That might border on sacrilege for a bibliophile like my wife, but there are very few books that I consider as 'must keeps'. And when I have an opportunity to wipe out a large number of cards off of my want lists... you can bet your first edition that I'll choose cardboard over hard cover (especially paperbacks).

This book burning trading began a couple of weeks ago, when I emailed a guy who sets of up most of the local card shows. He's a Braves fan and I thought he might be interested in some books I have about the history of the team, bio's and autobio's of various Braves players. Mike was interested and I told him I'd bring them to the card show (which just took place this past weekend). What he gave me in trade was a 300-ct box full of cards from 1976-1983, with a couple of '84s in there, too.

I won't be scanning many of the cards from this group, but will feature a smattering of the overall haul.

Two of the books that I have and consider off-limit, as far as getting rid of, are penned by Dan Epstein: Big Hair and Plastic Grass, which looks back at baseball during our favorite decade, and Stars and Strikes, a fun read that revisits Major League Baseball during the Bicentennial year.

Another book on 70s baseball is in the works, but this one from the outrageous mind of Ricky Cobb, aka Super 70s Sports. This should be another keeper and I'm very much looking forward to it.

One title that covered the 80s that was very well written was The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven, which chronicled the drug culture of the sport during the 80s and the ensuing trials.

How about you readers. What's a must-have book for your baseball library?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #9: Favorite Cards from the 1950s

Day 9: One of your favorite cards from the 1950s.

I featured this 1951 Bowman card of Cliff Chambers a little over a year ago, along with the story of how I came to know the retired big leaguer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #8: Family Member

Of all the prompts thus far on Tony's 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge, this one proved itself to be the most, ahem, challenging. But then it dawned on me and I had to laugh at myself because it was so obvious.

The year was August, 1978 and it was the first of many family vacations spent in the Emerald City. A few months earlier my dad had announced that we would be traveling to Seattle to attend a Seahawk exhibition game against the Rams and then two Mariners games against the defending champion New York Yankees. I can still remember the moment when the tickets arrived in the mail and how excited I was to be holding tickets to an actual major league game!

It wasn't long after we entered into the city that I heard my dad declare, "there it is, the Kingdome!" I turned my head from looking at my sister (goofing off, more than likely) and stared straight ahead, out the front windshield. Sure enough, there it was in all its glory!

I'm still not exactly sure how it happened- it's been nearly 40 years- but all of a sudden there was a lot of chaos: honking, yelling, cars coming directly at us. It turns out that I wasn't the only one in awe of the Eighth Wonder of the World. My dad had somehow ended up driving down a one-way road (which was, I might add, very busy)- the. wrong. way.

Now it's pretty hard to embarrass a nine year-old boy, but a twelve year-old girl... not difficult at all. My sister, mortified that these people were honking and yelling, suddenly dove towards the floor of our Mustang, as if these fine folks would recognize her at the next middle school sock-hop. Apparently I thought that was the proper response for such a situation and I, too, was diving like I was Greg Louganis.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Seahawks got blown out that night by the Los Angeles Rams and then the very next night the Mariners lost to those damn Yankees.

There was a silver lining to all of this, though. Reggie got booed by the hometown fans.

Oh, yeah- the Seattle 9 beat the Yankees our third night there at that magnificent mausoleum.

Monday, April 10, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #7: Sentimental Street

Day 7: A card you bought in person and the story behind it.

The card show I attended this past Saturday was held at a plaza that's across the street from Memorial Stadium, home of the Class-A short season Boise Hawks baseball club (Northwest League). I've driven past that area countless times over the past twenty-two years- whether attending a game or just going past it for whatever reason- and every time I do I can't help but get a little sentimental. It was there, at Memorial Stadium (and at a nearby restaurant) in June of 1995, where my wife and I had our first date.

Sentimentalism must explain the reason I chose today's card; heck, I think it's the reason I bought the card this past weekend. You see, when my wife and I started dating, Arod was one of about a half-dozen players whose cards I collected. It was a time of new romance (and we know how exciting that can be) and I often think of it as my 'golden age' for collecting- we still had plenty of good LCS', I was not only collecting but doing a lot of shows, and my best friend (and card collecting buddy) was still here on earth. By the time Arod moved on to Texas I was just about out of the hobby, my daughter was about to be born and said best friend would soon pass away. Rodriguez would go from hobby darling to all-around villain in the ensuing years.

Despite the controversy surrounding the man known as 'A-fraud', I've found myself become a little more forgiving of his past transgressions. Perhaps some of that comes from watching him as an analyst for Fox last fall- he's truly a baseball junkie, with a nice mixture of insight and humor, and I found him somewhat likeable. 

That's still not enough to compel me to buy this card of his. 

No, that's driven strictly by sentimentalism.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #6: The Wizard

There seems to be a number of collectors out there who will not spend more than ten bucks on a card. Or, at the very least, they won't spend more than a few bucks on a modern card. I happen to be one of those who don't mind spending money on something I want. I'm on a limited budget, so I tend to try to spend as little as possible on a given piece of cardboard and I'll often save the more expensive cards for Christmas or birthday wish lists. That's a great way to get those $50+ cards.

Today's card in the baseball card challenge- one that 'you spent more than $10 to get'- wasn't one of those high-dollar Christmas gifts. As a matter of fact, I don't remember what I spent on it, but I know it was more than ten bucks. Fifteen dollars, maybe. After buying a 1979 Topps starter set, this rookie card of The Wizard was the only 'money' card that I needed to buy; all others on my want list are relatively cheap.

Friday, April 7, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #5: 4 Bucks for a Bone

There were a number of players for me to choose from for today's prompt, including a couple of more recent additions to the collection. Most of the ones that came to mind, however, have already been featured on the blog; and while there's nothing that states I can't post a previously featured card, I would rather not.

Following a trade that saw him go from New York to Seattle, Jay Buhner established himself as an everyday player- and became one of the most popular figures in franchise history. If his powerful bat and rocket arm weren't enough to win over the fans, surely his unassuming nature and blue-collar ethic was. In Buhner, fans saw a man who was approachable, charitable and wasn't afraid to tell it like it is.

Speaking of telling it like it is... remember that Seinfeld episode ("The Caddy") when Frank Costanza told George Steinbrenner what he thought of the Buhner for Ken Phelps trade?

I was able to get the autographed Archives card of the Bone for only four bucks- making me feel quite Dick Balderson-esque.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #4: Rookie Card

Although the prompt for Day 4 calls for a rookie card of one of your favorite players, I'm going to go outside the box a little and feature the 'rookie card' of my favorite baseball broadcaster, the late Dave Niehaus.

One note: this postcard is not mine- I found it on eBay and used the photo from the listing.

One of my fondest childhood memories was discovering the joy that comes in listening to baseball on the radio, and I have the late Dave Niehaus to thank. As I posted years ago on the evening of his death, I was introduced to Mr. Niehaus in the Mariners infancy- they were the local team and their broadcasts were picked up by a local radio station. I spent many evenings during my childhood listening to games on the radio, often times going to sleep before the seventh-inning stretch. But the excitement that Dave brought to his play-by-play was second to none and the only word I can use to describe it was contagious. His best-known expression (see the inscription on above photo) was "My, oh, my!", but he also had two other beloved calls: "Get out the rye bread and and mustard, Grandma, it's grand salami time!" (for a grand slam), and, "Fly away!" (for home runs).

I don't know if I'll ever acquire this postcard or not- my heart says 'yes', but the pocket book says 'no'. The asking price on eBay is $199.99 and this collector has to put food on the table. And two hundred bucks can put a lot of rye bread and salami on the table.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

30-Day Baseball Card Challenge #3: Card from First Set

My interest in cards has gone in cycles: the very first cards I bought were 1976 Topps (only a few packs), and I continued collecting through the 1983 baseball season. My second go-around began in 1991 and would continue until 2002. That first return to collecting was at the tail end of the junk-wax era and Lord knows there were plenty of sets to choose from; things had sure changed since I was a kid collecting all four sports and non-sports stuff. One of my favorites that first year back was the debut of Fleer Ultra, a release that would become the first set I ever put together.

If you collected in 1991 then you probably remember the 'Big 3' that summer: Ken Griffey, Jr., David Justice and Frank Thomas. At least those were the three who seemed to be highly sought after in my neck of the woods. All three were part of my first 'PCs'. And while the Kid and DJ were included in this set, the Thomas card, for some reason, was always my favorite. The setting, the silver borders with the black and white uniform, and of course, the Big Hurt's smile all make this one a classic.

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Opening Day

We all know that the MLB season kicked off with three games yesterday, but I still have a hard time referring to it as 'Opening Day.' Do I have a hard time referring to the first NFL game of the year (Thursday nights) as the official NFL Kickoff? No, I don't. And if the NBA has an opening night with just one game scheduled (it probably does, I just haven't noticed), I wouldn't have a problem with it being referred to as the NBA tipoff. But baseball is different- it's a game steeped in tradition, and, while I'm fine with altering some tradition, Opening Day should not be messed with. We'll just pretend yesterday didn't happen.

Today marks Felix's 9th consecutive Opening Day start (and the 10th of his career). The next longest streak belongs to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, who will be pitching his seventh straight opener. For his career, King Felix has a record of 6-1 with a 1.49 ERA on Opening Day, with his only loss coming in Texas last year. Hernandez allowed only one hit in that loss, so he could easily be undefeated for his career.

Making Ten Opening Day starts for one team is a pretty rare thing, as per the Mariner's Podcast. Since 1913, only 9 pitchers have done so: Walter Johnson (12), Warren Spahn (10), Jack Morris (11), Tom Seaver (11), Steve Carlton (14), Juan Marichal (10), Bob Gibson (10), Robin Roberts (12) and of course, Felix.

Here's hoping that the new season brings you plenty of hope and optimism that your team will be playing come late October. Unless they're one of the other 29 teams that I'll be rooting against.

Enjoy Opening Day 2017!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Phantastic Haul!

 Brad from Brad's (Phillies) Blog posted the question Who Wants 1990 Topps?! a couple of weeks ago and I was one of the collectors who responded in the affirmative. I was expecting the package to include a few cards from that ugly looking set, but what I received was much more than I could imagine.

Brad sent a nice variety of years and card manufacturers- many of which I won't be posting today. These just happen to be the 'highlights' of the Phantastic Haul.

2002 Upper Deck Vintage. Just call it Eye Candy. If the original '72 Topps doesn't wet your appetite for 2021 Heritage, then maybe these will.

Plenty of Junk Wax M's. A couple from one of my favorite 90s sets (1994 Topps) were included. And who doesn't love 1993 Upper Deck?

The irony of this post is that I'm not going to post any photos of the 1990 Topps cards I requested because, well, it's 1990 Topps. Trust me, Brad sent them.

Thanks again, Brad, for the trade.