Saturday, October 31, 2009

Baseball card stories from Rob Murphy

Rob Murphy pitched eleven seasons in the major leagues for the Reds, Red Sox, Mariners, Astros, Cardinals, Yankees, Dodgers and Marlins. He now runs a horse-racing business, M375 Thoroughbreds. He kindly replied to my request for some baseball card stories.

"My favorite card story involves the 1992 Astros Bullpen Coach, Stretch Suba. Someone had altered about 10 cards of other players to make them Stretch's. My 1989 Upper Deck card was changed to Rob Suba. It got a lot of laughs in our clubhouse.

My favorite card of myself is my 1990 Upper Deck card. It is a picture of me using a laptop computer in the dugout. The picture was taken by the Upper Deck photographer while I was doing a shoot for PC Laptop Magazine. The computer was sent to me by NEC so that it would appear in the magazine. Notice the size of the laptop...it was a luggable at best."


Thanks! Astute baseball card blog readers will remember that this card used to be the masthead for Dinged Corners - now we know the backstory!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sweep averted

The Yankees squeaked through, beating Pedro without even having to get Enrique Wilson out of retirement. The Phillies still have home field advantage which is huge, but maybe the Yankees can make it competitive.

What a fantastic game by A.J. He came up with the biggest performance of his career in the biggest game of his career. Hope this inspires the Yankees.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sigh...

No hitting + no bullpen = no chance. Burnett vs. Pedro means the Yankees will be down 2-0 heading into Philadelphia. This is 1996, and these Phillies are far tougher than the Braves team that choked against the Yankees that year. It would appear that Jimmy Rollins's prediction of Phillies in 5 was, if anything, overly pessimistic.

Well, this wouldn't be the first time the Yankees opened a new Yankee Stadium by getting swept in the World Series by the defending champions. (Of course, when they opened the original, they beat the defending champions. I wonder if there's a lesson there.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baseball card stories from Clay Snellgrove

Clay Snellgrove played six years of professional baseball, mostly in the Padres organization. He is now an Emergency Medical Technician and runs a baseball school called Bases Loaded in Tennessee. He has written a novel called The Ball Player, about a professional baseball player burdened by his responsibility for his best friend’s death, and confused by a love for the same friend’s fiance, while trying to make it in the major leagues. You can read more about the novel and purchase it here. His excellent writing style can be seen in the great baseball card stories he shared with me.

"I grew up a huge baseball fan. My neighbor and I both collected cards. We competed to see who's collection would be bigger and better. This was back in the late eighties, so needless to say many of the cards we purchased are not worth much on the market now. At 12 years old, we battled to save lawn mowing money to purchase the coveted wax-box of Topps, Fleer, or Donruss (then making ourselves sick on cheap gum as we shredded through 36 brand new packs in minutes). During this ongoing contest of collecting, one of his mom's friends heard he liked baseball cards. The family friend said he had some cards that he was trying to part with. He brought a shoebox full of unsorted cards over for my buddy to inspect and to see if he would like to buy them. We both reviewed the box and found near complete sets of 1970-73 Topps (he would complete these sets card by card in the years following). A few random cards from the 60's were included for good measure. We leafed through the Beckett Pricing guide and stopped looking after 5 cards by themselves topped $20 in value. The next day the family friend asked if he wanted the cards. My buddy said, "yes." Without any conversation the friend said he would part with them for $50 dollars. To my buddy's credit he informed the man that they were probably worth much more than he could afford. He shrugged and said, "Fifty is fine." With that transaction I lost the competition.


I never made it to the major leagues during my pro career, but did get a $10 check from Topps, as all players do, for the right to make one. The minor league cards of me were really cool. The day I autographed my own card for a fan, I really felt like I had made it.



I don't collect anymore but do have my collection in boxes waiting to share it with my son when he's old enough. His grandfather has started giving him baseball cards for special occasions. He got a Mickey Mantle for his 1st birthday and his collection is now officially better than mine.


As far as my only regret from my collecting days, it would be passing, on my parents instruction, on purchasing a Dale Murphy rookie card for $2.75 when I was 7yrs old. I had saved several weeks of allowance and was given the offer by the teenage boy down the street. My parents were sure he was suckering me so forbid me from doing business with him. I managed to collect nearly every Dale Murphy card over the following years, but as his career soared, so did the price of his card. I could never afford it. When I stopped collecting in the early nineties that card was selling for $50."


Thanks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ken Smith on baseball cards

Ken Smith played eleven years of professional baseball, including three years in the majors with the Atlanta Braves. For the last eighteen years he has had a career in the automotive industry, and is currently a sales consultant at Bluff City Jaguar/Land Rover in Memphis. He kindly replied to my questions about baseball cards.

"Yes I do collect baseball cards, favorite cards are the whole set of the 1982 Atlanta Braves 13 game win streak to start the season."

Thanks! I believe the set he is referring to is the 1982 Braves Burger King Lids, but I couldn't find any pictures of it online. Perhaps Dayf or another Braves fan can confirm?
**UPDATE: Ken saw what I wrote and clarified:"What I have is a card of each player that played in the 13 game win streak."

Here is the one card of him I have in my collection, from 1983 Fleer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

40!

Forty pennants. Wow! To put that in perspective, the Yankees have as many pennants as the Milwaukee Brewers have seasons.

Andy was dandy last night. The starting pitching has been darned impressive, and bailed out some shaky offense. His post-season career numbers - 38 starts, 16-9, 3.83 ERA, would be the numbers of a Cy Young contender if they were a season line, and these were all compiled against the best teams in baseball, no Royals or Brewers softies to pad the stats.


I loved Mariano's low-key celebration, just this fist-pump and an embrace of Jorge Posada. No jumping up and down like a maniac for this closer, who acts like he's been there before - which he has, six times. This photo would make a great baseball card.


Up now are the Phillies. Damn, they look like a tough team, a mirror image of the Yankees in many ways with their power, pitching, and ballpark. At least the Yankees will be familiar with some of their starters, like Lee, Pedro and Blanton, so they won't have the excuse that they don't do well against pitchers they haven't seen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Interview with Gerald Smiley

Gerald Smiley pitched four years of professional baseball, mostly in the Rangers organization. He is now an associate scout for the St. Louis Cardinals. In addition, he runs Smiley's Baseball Institute where he is always on the lookout for any good high school baseball prospects, and is also a scout at Perfect Game Showcase. He kindly took the time from his busy schedule to answer my questions about baseball cards.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?

1.Every city I go to coach or scout in, it seems like people find me and have a card handy. And I gladly sign them. It's the fans who support all of our paychecks. Without them there would be no baseball.

- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?

2. My favorite card of myself is the T264 Topps Platinum Rookie Card.


My favorite card of someone else is the Topps Rookie Card of Mark Teixeira.



- Do you collect baseball cards?

3. I used to as a kid. I stopped collecting cards in High School. I'm going to start back up though. That's a good hobby. My grandfather used to buy my boxes of Topps cards as a kid.

Thanks! Any high school baseball prospects interested in playing in Oklahoma should look him up.

Though I don't have the platinum card, I do have the base card of that 2001 Topps Traded.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Don Slaught answers my baseball card questions

Don Slaught played sixteen years in the major leagues, mostly for the Royals, Rangers, Yankees and Pirates, catching over a thousand major league games. He is now the President of RightView Pro, a baseball instruction technology company that is the only analysis system licensed to use video of Major League Baseball players. He kindly replied to my questions about baseball cards.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
I was listed as a pitcher one time.




- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
The 3D card from Texas Rangers.



- Do you collect baseball cards?
No.


Thanks!

I had to include a Yankee card of Slaught, so here he is making his Yankee debut on April 9, 1988, going 2-3 with an RBI in the Yankees 4-1 win at Milwaukee.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Burger time

Looks like the Yankees are gearing up to blow another one against the Angels. What can they do to stop the Angels momentum?

As you can see from his 2006 Topps card, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is not a small man. He loves junk food so much that he proposed to his wife at an In-N-Out Burger. Maybe the Yankees should make sure he gets a constant supply of burgers in the dugout to distract him from the game.

Benching Swisher for Gardner and making Robertson the eight-inning guy might help too. Just some suggestions, Joe.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nikco Riesgo on baseball cards

Nikco Riesgo played six years of professional baseball. The 1990 Florida State League MVP with the St. Lucie Mets, he made his major league debut in 1991 with the Montreal Expos. Now the president of Major League Players Organization, which promotes youth baseball around the world, he kindly replied to my request for his thoughts about baseball cards.

"I used to collect cards as a youngster. I knew everything about everybody. When I first saw my own MLB card, I was like a kid in a candy store. My dreams actually came true."

Thanks! Here is that first major league card, from 1991 Bowman.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Stopper

What a magnificent performance by CC Sabathia last night, in what was really a must-win game for the Yankees.

It's funny, the announcers always talk about how he has such an outsize personality to match his outsize frame, but he has actually had a really low profile for such a major acquisition - which is a very smart thing to do in New York. There's nothing better than a player who quietly goes out there and just gets the job done.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Most Valuable Angel


Is Joe Girardi secretly in the employ of the Angels? That is the only explanation for his bizarre managerial moves last night.

Also, would it kill the supposed best offense in baseball to get a hit with runners in scoring position in this series? If not for A-Rod and the Angels defense the Yankees would be down 3-0 instead of up 2-1.

I am fearing that the collapse is beginning...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Greg Sheppard on baseball cards

Greg Shepard played four years in the White Sox organization. His best year was 1997, when he hit .307 with 12 HR and 62 RBI for Hickory of the South Atlantic League. He is now a hitting instructor who runs the site www.hithardernow.com. He kindly responded to my request to his thoughts about cards.

"I stopped collecting after 2000 which was my last professional minor league season.

My favorite card is posted on my blogsite."


Thanks!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The best offense is your opponent's bad defense

Once again, an error by the Angels gave the Yankees a win. Thanks, Maicer!

Jerry Hairston's clutch single leading off the thirteenth put him in position to score when Izturis threw the ball away, making him the latest Yankee to get a pie in the face.


On an unrelated note, the announcers were talking about the Angel coaches, and I noticed that their hitting and pitching coaches were Hatcher and Butcher. That's pretty funny, I thought, their names rhyme. So then I thought what the equivalent for the Yankees would be.

Long Eiland. Nice.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CC! CC!


CC was spectacular for the Yankees last night, which was key considering that the Yankees best offensive contributors were the Angels' gloves. This is quite a performance for AJ and Andy to live up to. I can't get too excited yet as the last two times the Yankees played Anaheim in the playoffs they won Game 1 then completely fell apart. Still, better to win Game 1 then lose it, right?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Baseball card stories from Reed Secrist

Reed Secrist played twelve years of professional baseball, hitting over 100 home runs for teams in the Pirates, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rangers, Reds and Indians organizations, as well as Hanshin in Japan, between 1992 and 2003. He is currently a PE/health teacher and head baseball coach at Snow Canyon High School in Utah and runs MVP Showcases, which spotlights Utah high school baseball stars. He kindly responded to my request about his baseball card stories.

"I remember in 1995 being told I was going to be in the 1996 Fleer Excel series I was excited because I really hadn't had a decent card yet and it was my first big step into a card that you could actually purchase at a store. I remember waiting to see it, I received a phone call from a friend in Virginia that had seen it and he said I don't think that is you, he was right! On the front of the card was Rob Leary it makes me laugh now but I was mad back then so that basically sums up my career the rest of the way! My favorite card of myself is the 1997 Japanese card, the only thing is I can't read the back. My favorite card of someone else is George Brett's rookie card. I've been a collector since I was young. I remember getting .25 cents and running to the local drug store to get a pack. As I got older I got away from it for awhile and then decided to start collecting certain players which I ended up just collecting George Brett cards. I remember going to the park as a player and fans knew I collected George Brett and they would bring me cards of him all the time so my collection of him grew."

Thanks, Reed!

Oddly, considering that he played twelve years of pro baseball and, according to Beckett.com, was on 16 different baseball cards, I couldn't find a picture of one of his cards, and found only this picture from his playing days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shane Rawley on baseball cards

Shane Rawley won 111 big league games over 12 seasons for the Mariners, Yankees, Phillies and Twins. He now runs Shaner's Restaurant, a pizzeria in Sarasota, FL. He kindly answered my inquiry about his thoughts on baseball cards.

" I don't collect cards or have a favorite one. The only thing of any consequence is a mistake card of me. The picture is of Jimmy Anderson, but my name and stats are on the card."

Thanks! Here's the correct version, with the left-handed Rawley.

And here's the error, with the right-handed Anderson.

For good measure, here's Rawley in his Yankee days, preparing to do battle against the dreaded Angels.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Allan Anderson on baseball cards

Allan Anderson pitched for the Minnesota Twins from 1986 to 1991. He was the American League ERA champ in 1988, with a 2.45 ERA to go with his 16-9 record. The next year he led the team in wins, going 17-10. He now runs AA Sports, an indoor sports facility and baseball/softball clinic in Ohio. He kindly took the time to reply to my request for his thoughts about baseball cards.

"I didn't collect cards when I was a kid, I used them in my bike spokes. I like my rookie card the best, Topps. I have some cards during the time that I played."


Thanks!

Yankee fans remember that after his Twins career, he attempted a comeback with the Yankees that was ended by injury before he could pitch for the Bombers. Here is the only card of him in a Yankee uniform, from 1992 Stadium Club.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interview with Andre Robertson

Andre Robertson, known as a defensive wizard and great all-around shortstop, played five years for the New York Yankees (1981-1985). He is now a shift supervisor at DuPont's Sabine River Works, and kindly took the time to answer my questions about baseball cards.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
New workmates liked to say check out the famous "One-Legged" player Andre Robertson rounding the base paths on the 84 Topps card.


-Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
Favorite cards are the 84 Donruss and 86 Topps.

-Do you collect baseball cards?
Don't collect cards.

Thanks!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sweep!

What a great pitching performance by Andy Pettitte, outdueling Carl Pavano (!) in a tight game to win his record-tying 15th postseason game, as the Yanks won their first playoff series in five years. I thought he was washed up last year; I'm glad to be proven wrong.

Here's Pettitte in 1995 Stadium Club. I wouldn't say he's old, but he pitched in the same starting rotation as Melido Perez!

The Twinkies proved to be cream puffs, but the Angels are probably the team the Yankees match up worst against. They're going to need everything to go right to win this one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baseball card story from Bob Scanlan

Bob Scanlan pitched nine years in the major leagues. His best season was 1992, when he saved 14 games with a 2.89 ERA for the Cubs. He now hosts the pre-game and post-game shows for the Padres. He kindly replied to my request for stories about baseball cards.

"The only one I can think of off the top of my head is that when I was with the Phillies I used to get requests every day to sign Von Hayes' card. Also had a request to sign Paul Assenmacher's card once - I never wore a beard!

I haven't been a collector since my mom sold my good size collection at a garage sale when I was a kid...geez!"

Thanks, Scan! I can see the resemblance between him and Hayes:

Assenmacher is a tougher one to figure out. Maybe the fan thought he had shaved his beard?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Two out of three ain't bad, but it's not enough

What a great game last night. The two big guys really came through. The Yankees better not get cocky against Pavano tomorrow.

A-Rod with the game-tying single in the sixth and a big game tying homer in the ninth. He's clutch against the Twins at least.

Teixiera with the rally-starting single in the ninth and the game-winning walk-off home run in the eleventh!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Interview with Dick Perez

Dick Perez is undoubtedly the most well-known baseball card artist in the industry. He painted the famous Donruss Diamond King cards and does the Topps Allen & Ginter and Turkey Red as well. He kindly took the time to answer my questions about his baseball card experiences.

1) Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories about cards you created (or cards of yourself)?
Most of stories about cards I created have to do with the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Art Post Cards. Here is just one of them. There were a few Hall of Famers who refused to autograph these cards because they thought we were ripping them off, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio among them, even though they knew that we were in partnership with the Hall of Fame and they had signed waivers before they were produced. In fact, Joe DiMaggio had seen one of his HOF cards in a Cooperstown store window that was autographed by him and was selling for $350.00. He thought we were getting that money and called my partner Frank Steele to complain and to tell him that he was not going to sign anymore of those cards. Frank told him that all we got was .50 cents for the sale of his card, just like any other member of the Hall, which outraged him even more to find out that his card was selling for the same money that lesser than him Hall of Famers like Burleigh Grimes, Charlie Gehringer, Billy Herman, etc., were selling for. I read in the Richard Ben Cramer biography of DiMaggio that at hobby shows he would put up a list of things he would not sign, such as gloves, caps, jerseys and a bunch of other stuff, near the top of the list were Perez-Steele Cards. Eventually, players began to sign the cards when they found out that they could get more for an autograph on a Perez-Steele card due to their rarity. I don't know if Joe D ever did, though.


2) Do you have favorite card?
If you mean cards that I have created, my favorite year for Diamond Kings was the 1995 collection, so my favorite card from that entire body of work is the '95 Chili Davis DK. By then Donruss let me do anything I wanted to do. I was tired of painting realistic watercolors year after year so in '94 and '95 I decided to get more stylistic and experimental. At the time I got no feedback from collectors about the new style, it is only in later years that I have received numerous comments and emails from grown up kids from those years telling me how much they appreciated the style.


3) Do you collect baseball cards?
Not anymore. I collected when I was a kid in the '50s. My favorite set was the 1952 Bowmans and 1953 Topps. These were art cards, so to speak, and it was what inspired me to seek a way to bring art back to baseball cards. My favorite cards of all time, though I wasn't around to collect them, were the popular T-3s, better known as Turkey Reds produced in 1911. If you visit my web site and click on Topps and then Turkey Red Statement you will know why.

Thanks! Everybody seems to like Diamond King cards with the Angels - Luis Polonia's favorite was also a Diamond King in a Halo uniform.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One and hopefully not done

Well, at least the Yankees won't get swept out of the playoffs this year. Now let's see if they can avoid losing their fourth straight four-game ALDS.

Nick Swisher had the biggest hit of the night, giving the Yankees the lead for good.

Derek Jeter's two run homer tied it up after CC struggled a bit.

After that CC settled down and had his best playoff game ever.

With two RBI-singles hopefully A-Rod is over his playoff jitters as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My new least favorite team

I guess all the small-minded baseball fans everywhere will be rooting for this "underdog" because their jealous that the Yankees care more about winning than their team does.

Interesting (if irrelevant) fact: the Twins are the only MLB team whose location was picked because their owner was racist:
"I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here."

Let's hope the Yankees have a "Good Ol' Time" in Minnesota like they did in '03 and '04.