Friday, April 30, 2010

Sandwich pick

For some people, their sandwich pick is cold cuts, for others a meatball hero. For the Mets in 1991, their "sandwich pick" was a pitcher who made goofy faces at the camera.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Number of the Beast

Steve at Greatest 21 Days has a post today about Paul Noce's 1990 CMC card, which shows the Cubs infielder pretending to get hit in the butt by a baseball. That may be the most obvious clowning around on a card in that set, but it's not the only one. My favorite is this Scott Lusader card that is devilishly subtle.

I'm so sick of all these ballplayers like Scott Lusader and Albert Belle with all their satanic rituals and the dismemberment and everything.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This card doesn't make a lick of sense

There's a silly commercial on TV a lot these days for Starburst or something where a Korean in a kilt says to his son, "You're Scotch-Korean - you don't make a lick of sense!" This card is close - there are probably not many Irish-Koreans either, but here is Chan Ho Park wearing a green hat on St. Patrick's Day, 1994. I wrote about this game a few days ago, but forgot I had this card as well.

How did Park do? According to the LA Times:
"Thursday, in the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the New York Mets at Vero Beach, Fla., he started his third game and pitched well, giving up a run, three hits and striking out three in three innings. He mixed up his pitches, kept his composure after the umpires had called his second balk of the day, and got his first major league hit, waving to the crowd as he stood on first base.

"When I got to first base, (first baseman) Glenn Davis said hello to me in Korean, and that made me feel good, too." Park said."

I don't know which is more surprising to me, that Glenn Davis speaks Korean, or that he was ever a Met.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great sunglasses

Who needs flip-top shades when you can wear this masterpiece?

Monday, April 26, 2010

What is going on in this picture?

Since when do players from both teams share infield practice? It looks like San Diego's Archi Cianfrocco is cutting in front of an Astros infielder to field a ground ball. This is not an All-Star Game - so why are both teams doing fielding practice at the same time? Weird picture.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sacrifice bunt

On August 15, 1985, Andy McGaffigan pitched a gem against the San Diego Padres, allowing just two runs on four hits over eight innings. So what did Fleer photographers take from that game?

His sacrifice bunt in an uneventful fifth inning. Actually, the game was pretty boring until the ninth, when Ted Power blew a four run lead to tie the game. Cincinnati came back and won in the tenth with an RBI single by Tony Perez.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

1987 Topps Carl Willis - airbrush missed a spot

The idea beyond airbrushing was presumably to make it look like the player was really with that team. That is why this 1987 Topps Carl Willis is so funny - they left the mustache, even though the Reds had a policy banning facial hair!

It's kind of odd that they didn't have a photo of Willis with the Reds, as he had pitched with them for 7 games in 1984, 11 games in 1985, and 29 games in 1986. However, what I did not know until looking at his baseball-reference page was that the was actually a Rule V draft pick by the Angels and did not get returned to the Reds until after spring training, so this was probably a picture in an Angels uniform taken in March of 1986.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Green Hats and a Little Strawberry

The green hats on the Met players on the background of Brett Butler's 1995 Bazooka card make identifying the date easy - St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1994.

So what happened this day? I don't have a box score, but according to the NY Times, the Dodgers won 4-3. Chan Ho Park started for the Dodgers; Dave Telgheder started for the Mets in place of Anthony Young who was sidelined by a pulled right groin muscle. This annoyed Angel scouts in attendance; they were interested in a potential Young-for-JT Snow trade. Considering the diverging careers of Young and Snow, this has to go down as another in a long history of bad breaks for the Mets.

The biggest news of the day came earlier in the morning, however, when Dodgers outfielder Darryl Strawberry found out his son Jordan Shay was born while Strawberry was working out on the field before the game. According to the LA Times, he was named after basketball star Michael Jordan. Sixteen years later, he is following in his namesake's footsteps; he is currently playing basketball for Mater Dei High School in Anaheim.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bat knobs

I got a lot of 1990 Topps Traded in the Dollar Tree packs, and two of them had some interesting (and G-rated!) bat knobs.

Here's Matt Nokes wielding a #33 bat. Nokes wore #38 in his Yankee tenure; pitcher Eric Plunk wore #33. So was Nokes using an Eric Plunk bat? No! He wore #33 with the Tigers, so this bat must go back to his Detroit time. That's one of the things you don't think about when a trade happens - will a player have to change the number on his bat? I guess because he was traded to a team whose pitcher wore #33, Nokes didn't have to.

Here's Junior Ortiz, one of the first players to wear #0. The bat clearly says #55! Paul Sorrento wore #55 for Minnesota in both 1989 and 1990, so Ortiz must have borrowed a Sorrento bat.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baseball card stories from John Boles

John Boles has had a long career in professional baseball. He served two terms as manager of the Florida Marlins (1996; 1999-2001) and was Vice President, Player Development for the 1997 World Champs. Now with the Seattle Mariners as Special Assistant to the GM for Player Procurement, he kindly shared with me his stories about baseball cards.

"I collected baseball cards as a kid and saved them in the attic. When I went away to college, my dear mother threw them out in the trash...literally...and I had hundreds. Since Mickey Mantle was my favorite player and his rookie card was my favorite, I would trade with others for that card. I had quite a few. I know it's kind of cliche but it personally happened to me.

My favorite card of myself was from the Appleton Foxes in the Midwest League. We were Midwest Champions in 1983.
[He is at lower left]
Another card has an somewhat interesting story: that of the 1986 Omaha Royals. I was the manager and we were in a losing streak so everyone decided to grow a mustache. It is the only card I have with a mustache."

[He is at lower right]

Thanks! Here is a card of him from my collection.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bipped by Dollar Tree

I had been reading on several blogs about the packs of old cards at Dollar Tree, and decided to pick some up.

I bought five packs of "Bringing Back The Oldies," which advertised itself as being all 1980s cards, with one guaranteed 80s star. That one guaranteed 80s star was Tom Seaver, 1984 Topps. Each time!

Each pack was about evenly split among 1984 and 1989 Topps and 1986 and 1988 Donruss. Fortunately I need a few of the 1984 Topps and most of the 1986 Donruss.

The five "Pieces of History" packs were more diverse, but also guaranteed one star. That one star was Jim Rice, 1984 Topps. Each time!

Still, of the 200 cards I got, 40 were cards I needed. So that's 160 more cards to trade, especially in 1984 and 1989 Topps and 1988 Donruss. So check your wantlists! Anyone need an 1984 Topps Tom Seaver or Jim Rice?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Baseball card story from Gil Patterson

Gil Patterson made his major league debut for the World Champion 1977 New York Yankees. Despite a great start, drawing raves from Carl Yastrzemski among others, a series of injuries derailed his career and he never returned to the major leagues as a player. He has since become a successful pitching coach, developing Roy Halladay as Toronto's pitching coach. Currently Pitching Coordinator for the Oakland A's, he is also a pitching specialist at Worldwide Baseball Prospects and also does private pitching instruction. He kindly shared with me this story about his baseball cards.

"I do have one sad baseball card story. 1977 was my first and only season as a major league pitcher with the Yankees. (I was 21 years old.) My Topps baseball card had the wrong picture on it and when I went to them and told them about the mistake, they said, "Don"t worry, you are 21, you will have 15 baseball cards with the correct picture." I never got that other baseball card. It's too bad; I would have liked to show my 11 year old son."

Thanks! While the 1977 Topps card mistakenly shows Sheldon Gill, here is his 1992 Wiz Yankees card featuring a correct photo.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jeff DeWillis on baseball cards

Jeff DeWillis played five years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, reaching the major leagues for thirteen games in 1987. For the past ten years he had been a social studies teacher, baseball coach and football coach at C.E. King Middle School in Houston. He kindly responded to my request for his thoughts on baseball cards.

"I only collected a few in my youth....The only card that was made of myself was the 1988 Score Card. That would be my"

Thanks! This really does seem to be his only card - I don't see any indication that he ever had a minor league card. It must be pretty unusual for a player from the 1980s to have a major league card but no minor league one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Interview with Mike Stenhouse

Mike Stenhouse played five years in the major leagues, from 1982 to 1986, for Montreal, Minnesota, and Boston, following in the footsteps of his father Dave, who pitched for the Washington Senators. After his baseball career, Stenhouse, who was one of the best players in Harvard University history, has become a successful businessman, owning the greater Providence franchise of CMIT Solutions, which provides small business IT solutions. Recently, he has turned to politics, forming an organization called Refound RI which aims to lower property, auto, income and corporate taxes in Rhode Island. He has been joined by several former teammates in this endeavor, including Oil Can Boyd and Steve Rogers. 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?

I think it was my '84 Donruss 'rated rookie' card: in the original distribution of the card only my card and that of fellow Ivy Leaguer, Ron Darling, were "error" cards in that they neglected to put a card number on the back. When they printed the team sets later on, i guess they added the number. Conspiracy that the only 2 Ivy League guys had their numbers left off?

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

The father-son card with my dad is easily my favorite.

My wife thinks my Twins '86 Topps card is the sexiest of me (lol).

- do you collect baseball cards?

No, not since i was 15.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Baseball card stories from Jason Baker

Jason Baker played seven seasons of professional baseball, mostly in the Minnesota Twins organization. Now a Senior Professional Representative at Astellas Pharma, he kindly shared with me his baseball card stories.

"My first baseball card was in "Rookie" ball with the Elizabethton Twins. I remember the photographer taking several poses of all of us swinging, running, and catching, but he made me take my cap off on one particular pose. My hair was all matted down on my head, and I told him not to use that photo, and what did he do, he used that as my first baseball card. It was awful!

My favorite card would have to be when I made the 1994 Midwest League All-Star game, in which they created a card deck for that year's team. There were a lot of special players in that deck. Guys like, A-Rod, Billy Wagner, Mike Sweeney, Sal Fasano, Antonio Alfonseca, Kevin Millar and Ryan Radmanovich just to name a few. I still have great memories of a lot of those guys."

Thanks! I couldn't find a picture of either of his 1992 cards (Classic Best or ProCards), but here are Baker and A-Rod in the 1994 ProCards set.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jack Howell on baseball cards

Jack Howell played eleven years in the major leagues, hitting 108 home runs. He also played four years in Japan, leading the league with 38 home runs in 1992. He is now passing on his home run swing as hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who currently lead the major leagues in home runs with 15. He kindly took the time from his busy schedule to share his thoughts on baseball cards.

"One of my cards shows me running and I have my batting gloves in my hand and the picture makes it look like I am holding a wad of cash in my hands and I have a big smile. It's a funny card.

I did collect cards and now I am waiting for the value to go back up. I don't have anything later (think 1960s) but I saved a lot of sets of baseball,football and basketball. I also saved a lot of hall of famers and super stars during the 70s,80s."


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blog bat-around: $50,000 challenge

The current "blog bat-around" features this challenge: What would you buy if you had 15 minutes to spend $50,000 on ebay? Being an omnivorous collector, I would go for quality over quanitity, and what I could do for that kind of cash would net thousands and thousands of cards and keep me busy for months, if not years:

Entire Baseball Card Collection $17,500
Collection Baseball Sports Cards and Collectibles $1,100
Sports Card Collection - Baseball, Football, Basketball $600
HUGE trading card collection. OVER 5000 CARDS!!!! $300
A to Z (1400+) Card Collection MLB (4) Binders w/ Vint. $160
Thousands of Never Touched Baseball/Basketball Cards $30
7,361 BASEBALL CARD COLLECTION.....1986-1993 $11,000
HUGE Game Used Jersey Autograph Auto RC Card Lot 2,180 $2,035
Lot of 80,000+ Baseball cards & autographs Ships FREE $2,600
Huge Lot of Sports Memoribilia Baseball Football Cards+ $900
AMAZING Sports Card Lot - 8000+ Cards - Mint Condition $800
Huge Lot of over 250,000 Sports Cards Baseball FB BKB $700
Total: $48,146

Sigh. . . I wish I was rich. Even one collection like this would much more than double mine.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A corny card

It looks like Score was getting a little punchy in its later years. The company which used such conservative action shots for its first few years started coming up with some weird shots, I guess to try to revive interest in the flagging brand. Here is a 1996 card featuring rookie Dustin Hermanson in a corn field. I guess because he came from the farm team?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fleer Flags of the Eighties

Yesterday I posted about how a bunch of card companies used patriotic designs post-9/11. Fleer may have been the most patriotic of all, with a US flag-themed base set. That should not be surprising; back in the 1980s, no card company was more patriotic than Fleer in its set design.

Other than the famous 1988 set, this tendency didn't show up in the base sets.

Rather, it was the bonus sets that featured this flag predilection. World Series sets uniformly had a red-white-and-blue design.

But so did most other "special sets" that Fleer came out with in the mid- to late-eighties.

Even if they used a design with a green border, Fleer still found a way to get plenty of flag in!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The flags of 2002

Yesterday Dayf made an interesting comment that every baseball card from 2002 had an American flag on it. Not actively collecting new cards at that time, I didn't realize that, but looking back at the cards I have from that year, that seems to be only a slight exaggeration.

Topps's ugly tan 2002 base design was probably already set by September 11, but they made sure to put plenty of flag photographs.

However, other sets that came out later that year either had a red-white-and-blue design,

or were celebrations of America. Courage!

And they made sure to use a red-white-and-blue design for 2003.

Upper Deck didn't really use the US flag in their designs, except for "World Series Heroes."

They did seem to reach out to the international community with their "World Stage" design.

Donruss Studio may have been the single most patriotic design.

Leaf also had a red-white-and-blue design.

Fleer had the most patriotic design of any base set.

Their Tradition set had the most random American flag of 2002, just kind of stuck in at the bottom of the design.

Even minor league cards got into the act in 2002.