Sunday, May 31, 2009

Finally

It had been far too long since I had bought baseball cards. Today I finally had a chance to go up to Tri-County Flea Market and purchase some. I got this awesome box o' commons for $30.

There were some cards from cool sets I didn't have any of, like 1981 Fleer Star Stickers. Here's YES announcer Ken Singleton.

1997 Upper Deck is one of my favorite sets and I don't have a lot of them. I got a few, including a couple of cards of ballplayers in bondage.


I think I got about a thousand 1989 Upper Deck cards, including a couple of McGwires. (Nope, no Griffeys!) If you have a wantlist for that set, let me know and I can probably hit a good section of it in a trade. Ditto 1989 Bowman, 1991 Score and 1991 Upper Deck.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Baseball's Best

"Pucker up, Ron. We're taking your picture for Fleer's Baseball's Best Kissers subset."

That is the most uneven mustache I've ever seen.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Interview with Mike Hargrove

Mike Hargrove is one of the few men to play over 1500 major league games and then manage over 1500 major league games. He won two pennants as a manager and is in the top 75 all time in on-base percentage. Currently the manager of the Liberal Beejays of the Jayhawk league, he kindly took time from his busy schedule to answer my questions about baseball cards.

Bo Rosny: Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
Mike Hargrove: Billy Ripken had a photo with him swinging his bat and on the knob of the bat he had written with Magic Marker a curse word to be able to identify his bat in the bat rack. It was subsequently erased.

BR: Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
MH: My favorite card is the Billy Ripken card.

BR: Do you collect baseball cards?
MH: No, I don't collect cards. I do have some here somewhere but not in a collection.


I think one card really sticks in his memory! This is the third time a former player has talked about the Billy Ripken card, after Chris Haney and Chuck Cary.

He didn't mention any of his own cards so here is one from my collection. 1983 Fleer is one of my favorite sets.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where's Robby?

Here is an interesting card of Robby Alomar, 1996 Collectors Choice. Alomar was signed by the Orioles before the 1996 season. It would appear that Collectors Choice got a photo of him in spring training of 1996.

However, as you can see, the signs behind him are in Spanish, not English, so this is not US spring training. What seems to have happened is that they got him to put on an Orioles uniform while in winter ball in Puerto Rico and staged this photo.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Encore

I can't say I really understand the appeal of parallel cards. Still, if a company has to create a parellel, a shiny card like 1999 Upper Deck Encore is a lot more appealing than just a different color border.

In addition to the shininess, this card is great for the shot of Jeff Cirillo, glove on head, adding sugar to his coffee in the empty Brewers dugout.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A telepathic card

It's not often a card will give you a clue as to what the player was thinking when the photo was snapped. However, on this card of Mo Vaughn trying to stay interested in a pre-game interview, it seems Collector's Choice inserted a thought bubble of what he was really thinking about.

Mmm . . . donuts.
(You may have to click on the picture to see it in full size)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eccentricities

Turk Wendell was easily one of the most eccentric players of the last twenty years. His 1994 Collectors Choice card managed to capture two of them.
Jumping over the foul line:

Drawing crosses on the pitchers mound:

Some of his other eccentricities included brushing his teeth between innings and waving to this center fielder at the start of each inning.

Too bad players like Mark Fidrych and Kevin Rhomberg retired before sets like Collectors Choice came around. Early 80s Topps would never post a picture of Fidrych talking to the ball or Rhomberg chasing someone who touched him.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The ultimate thrill?

According to his 1995 Collector's Choice, Michael Jordan's "ultimate thrill" was hitting a home run in a AA baseball game. Really?

This photo seems to be the double he hit in a 4-4 exhibition tie at Wrigley Field.

The front of this card features a nice picture of Jordan getting a nice picture taken.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Clash of the Golden Flashes


In 1994, Classic used similar photos of newly-drafted Kent State baseball stars Dustin Hermanson and Travis Miller. It looks like the photographer told them "OK, look as tough as you can while tossing a baseball lightly in the air." Those are some angry-looking baseball levitators.

Though their college numbers are quite similar, they went on to differing major league careers; Hermanson won 73 big league games, ten times as many as Miller.

And yes, Kent State really does call their team the Golden Flashes. Isn't that something women get at menopause?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Interview with Paul Hartzell

Paul Hartzell won 27 games over 6 big league seasons in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He then went on to a successful career in the financial services technology industry, developing some of the first online programs to allow the simultaneous purchase of convertible securities and options on multiple exchanges. He kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions about baseball cards, and had some great stories to share.

Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players? My least favorite card is the one in a Twins jersey. It was taken in Yankee Stadium by a free lance photographer who often worked for Topps when players were traded. So, since I had been traded in February from the Angels to the Twins, they needed a new shot. However, that photographer was not popular with the players because we felt he was selling pictures of us. So, when I came out of the dugout, he yelled to me, I turn towards him and said "What the %$#*&% do you want?" And he snapped the picture!! I am not a happy looking guy.

- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player? My favorite card is my 1978 Angels card where you can actually see my moustache. In those days, it would take me about 8 months to grow on! I do have a wonderful coffee table book with many years of Topps cards. It's great fun to look at them and remember the people I played against. 700 innings gave me a chance to face some of them many times.

- Do you collect baseball cards? No, I don't. I have very few autographs of any kind but I do have a few signed things from people who I played against or admired. I guess my favorite is a ball autographed by Carl "King Carl" Hubbell and another ball autographed by Jim "Catfish" Hunter. But perhaps my favorite is a team ball from the Angels with Nolan Ryan, Joe Rudi, Don Baylor and Bobby Grich from 1978. Great players all and I was proud to play with them.

Thanks, Paul! That really is a great story about his 1980 Topps card - explains some of the less-than-flattering photos from Topps cards of that era.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baseball card stories from Chris Haney

Chris Haney, who pitched eleven years in the major leagues and is the son of former major league catcher and coach Larry Haney, kindly answered my request to share some baseball card stories.

"I guess my favorite card would be one of my rookie cards that Topps put out. There is nothing really unusual about it. My dad was still on the field coaching in Milwaukee and I was in the National league at the time. We had a day off in Chicago and dad had a night game in Milwaukee so I went up to see my parents. Dad had set up for their team photographer to take some father son photos in uni together. One of those shots ended up being one of my first cards. I have on my uni with Dan Plesac's glove and shoes."

"As far as other cards. I definitely collected as a kid, prolly have 10,000 cards. Never understood how the card company let that Billy Ripken card slip in that first run with the obscenity on the end of his bat. Always got a kick out of that. So I guess that would be the one I find most interesting."


Thanks, Chris!
In all the years I had this card I didn't realize it was of a National League player in an American League park - that must have been very rare in the pre-interleague era.
He is also the second player to tell me his favorite card was the Bill Ripken obscenity card - the first was Chuck Cary.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Andre Dawson Takes One in the Face

It's not too often a baseball card will feature a player getting beaned - but that's exactly what Classic did in it's 1988 card of Andre Dawson.

This was a big deal at the time - seven Cubs were ejected and a very similar photo, maybe the same one, made the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The back of this card is interesting too. Dawson's college statistics at Florida A&M seem lost to history - the only thing I can find on the internet is that he was considered a "skinny center fielder" when Montreal drafted him.

And that last question - does anyone call home runs "gophers" anymore? I remember in 1987, that original year of the home run, they were often called "taters" by the media. That expression seems gone as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hall of Fame Fail

Here, Fleer presents Mike Schmidt, one of the greatest third basemen of all time, taking a mighty cut, looking out to the upper deck . . .

. . . and there's the ball landing right at his feet. Oops!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Random questions

Whose house is on the Cardinals spring training property? You see it on a lot of Cardinals cards in the mid-1980s.

Why is Greg Mathews using his batting helmet as a glove holder? (Hey, I'm a pitcher, what else am I going to do with it?)

Why is the guy behind Greg Mathews wearing a rain hat when there isn't a cloud in the sky?

Is he supposed to be the guy in this crowd on the left below? And is this a record for rain hats on one card?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Integral?

According to this Upper Deck Subway Series card, Mike Bordick was "integral in the team's run through the playoffs."

Really? According to the front of the card, Bordick hit just .167 in the Division Series and .077 in the LCS.

Ah, but maybe the card doesn't reflect a blistering World Series for Bordick. Nope - .125, one hit, no runs. Real integral, Mike. I'm sure he was thrilled to have those stats plastered on the front of his card.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1993 Donruss and Edgar Martinez's thigh

For the back of Jaime Navarro's 1993 card, Donruss used this picture of him sitting on Edgar Martinez, apparently caressing his inner thigh.

(Actually, he's failing to tag out Edgar on a wild pitch in the first inning of a 4-2 Brewers win; Navarro got the win giving up just one earned run over 7.1.)

Edgar was embarrassed that Donruss was going to have a card where someone else was caressing his inner thigh. Donruss agreed to give him equal time, and on the back of Martinez's card showed him caressing his own inner thigh, with no help from any Brewers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Donruss Lie

Here is 1992 Donruss Triple Play "Awesome Action" card. The action may be awesome but the caption is incorrect.

Matt Merullo played only one game at first base in Toronto in 1991 (and none in 1992). That game was a 5-2 Toronto victory on May 11. Dave Stieb outdueled Charlie Hough as Glenallen Hill's home run gave Toronto the lead for good in the fourth. However, as you can see from Retrosheet's boxscore, no Toronto runner was picked off.

While it looks like the ball beat the runner, you don't have any depth perspective in this shot. Merullo is probably on the inside part of the bag and the baserunner is darting to the outside part, forcing Merullo to sweep around to make the tag, which would be too late. I guess Donruss thought they could get away with a little white lie to make the card more exciting - a routine throw to first is probably not an action exciting enough to qualify as awesome. They failed to anticipate the creation of retrosheet and of people weird enough to actually check this stuff there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kevin Gross's favorite card

Kevin Gross won 142 games over fifteen major league seasons. He now hosts the TV show Hunting with the Pros" on the Sportsman channel, where he travels the world in search of trophy big game. He took time from his busy schedule to answer my question about his favorite card.

"I do not collect much on the B.B. cards I wish I would have though. My favorite card is my No-hitter card 92."

The card he is referring to must be the 1993 Donruss Spirit of the Game card - Night Owl's Awesome Night Card #10! Here it is:

I don't have this card myself, so here's one from my collection, his Donruss base card from that year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not a summer holiday

Here is one of the most unusual things to find on a baseball card - a Christmas wreath. The World Series may have dipped into November occasionally but we're not at the point of a Winter Classic yet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The card that got "a lot of fluids going"

The 2002 Mets were one of the biggest disappointments of recent years; just two years removed from winning the NL pennant, they finished in last place. One of their few highlights that year was a fight caused by this baseball card.

As Sports Illustrated explained at the time:
"Until June 25 neither Roberto Alomar nor Roger Cedeno had done much for the Mets this year. The inability of the two off-season free-agent acquisitions to set the table was a large part of the reason that New York's offense had gone hungry. Then, before a division showdown with the Braves, they made what could turn out to be their biggest contribution to the Mets' cause all year: They got into a fight in the clubhouse.

The spat started with Cedeno's teasing Alomar about the picture on his 1988 rookie baseball card: Alomar is sporting a pencil-thin mustache that makes him look rather like '80s pop star El DeBarge. Alomar took exception, and the pair had to be separated by Mo Vaughn. Alomar then went out and homered in the first inning, and Cedeno sparked a Mets rally in the second with a single and a stolen base. Clearly pleased, manager Bobby Valentine dismissed the imbroglio that preceded the 7-4 win as "a little Latin yelling." He added, "We were up for the game. There was a lot of fluids going.""

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cards so healthy they shine

I am a sucker for shiny cards - the kind that make rainbows when held up to the light (or when their picture is taken). In the mid-1990s, Score/Pinnacle put out a set called "Summit" for a couple of years, and made a parallel set that is just about the shiniest I have seen.

Here is Big Ben McDonald in a pose you probably won't see anymore on cards, for fear of the steroid police.

And here is Yankee slugger Ruben Sierra getting attacked by rainbow-colored force lightning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wally Joyner got dissed

When Studio first came out, they had all kinds of personal information about the baseball players. One of the less well-thought out questions they asked was "Who is your closest friend in baseball?" Sure enough, they didn't always check to make sure the answers synced up. So in 1992 Wally Joyner answers, "Kirk McCaskill."

But McCaskill lists two best friends, and neither one is Joyner.

Wally can't have been too happy when he found out that his best friend Kirk didn't consider him his best friend, or even his second-best friend. Probably confronted him in the Angels clubhouse and said, "DeNiro sucks! He's no Kevin Costner or Mark Harmon!"

You may have gotten over stuff like this in junior high, but the Joyner-McCaskill "closest friend" fued soured the Angels clubhouse atmosphere to such an extent that they never made the playoffs in the 1990s. And Studio never again asked the loaded "friend question."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What's more embarrassing?

Getting your baseball card photo taken the day you cut yourself shaving?

Or having your photo be a crotch shot in a uniform that looks like mauve onesie pajamas?


"I've seen too much of life to be optimistic about a man who wears mauve pajamas." - P.G. Wodehouse

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mike Stanley's Punch Out!!

Here we look at Mike Stanley's 1993 Leaf card, on the front of which he punches Lance Johnson in the face . . .

and on the back of with he beats up a building on West 42nd Street (I think) with his bat.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Doug Glanville reveals his favorite card - and his mom's favorite

Doug Glanville, renaissance man (among other things, a rare New York Times writer without a credibility problem) and veteran of over a thousand major league games, kindly responded to my inquiry about his favorite baseball cards.

"There is an Upper Deck card from my year in Winston-Salem that I would only want to see as a coaster. Of course, my Mom had a different take on it. Since it was this super zoomed headshot with my helmet half off of my head and where you could see my one filling, my Mom was happy because she could "see my face and my expression." But like any competitive son, I wanted the action shot of me crashing against the wall as I barehanded a fly ball against the wind. Not the picture that should be used at a modeling agency (one that shoots models to promote bad razors at that)."

"My favorite card is a Fleer Ultra card. Shiny silvery backdrop with the Phillies. Action shot of me running back for a ball. Big number 6 in the backdrop. I didn't pay that much attention to other players cards since we spent enough time looking through our own cards while we were sifting through fan mail.

I don't really collect baseball cards. Although I probably have all of my own cards from the grace of fans over the years. But I think baseball cards are wonderful and a lost art."

Thanks, Doug!

I could not figure out what Fleer Ultra card he refers to here. It is not his 1999 Ultra card, which I have, nor his three other cards from his Phillies years (1998, 2000, and 2001), which I found pictures of online. Does anyone have any ideas?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Metal wanted the Pirates to die in a fire

The Metal baseball card company must have had something against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Why else would they show Jay Bell exploding into flames?

And in what could be the most inappropriate baseball card image of all time, they have Orlando Merced surrounded by a nuclear mushroom cloud. Nothing goes together like baseball and atomic destruction, right?