Nick at For Card's Sake has got a contest going on about what is the greatest rookie card ever. Of course, the answer is easy - the 1989 Rated Rookie of Pete Harshnish. This card is probably laced with gold! You could melt it down and sell it! Get the details on this "Steal of the Century" in this awesomely hilarious parody of baseball card infomercials.
It must have been tough for a second-tier card company like Classic to get pictures for all the players in their sets. In 1990, they seem to have used a picture of Erik Hanson from the same photoshoot that Donruss used the year earlier.
Check out the wall behind Bruce Fields in this picture - there is an ad for Playboy in the background (bottom left). Odd for a family friendly ballpark, right? I figured this must be Las Vegas. But Las Vegas's Carlos Baerga is in a road uniform in the same stadium, so it's not there. Any ideas where this is?
His nickname is "The Natural." "Do I look anything like Robert Redford?" If this "Robert Redford" guy has giant shoulders with a head way off to one side of them then yes, Will, you are the spitting image of Mr. Redford.
A while back I highlighted some home games from the 1977 Padres after getting a pocket schedule autographed by catcher Bob Davis with some funny promotional games in a trade with SpastikMooss. Recently I got a card that actually shows a Padres game from that year. The game was August 29, 1977, when Lou Brock broke Ty Cobb's career stolen base record. There was no promotion that night, which may be why less than 20,000 fans showed up. I suppose that total is not too bad for a Monday night game in late August between two teams who were out of the pennant race. Also San Diego had just gone through a fairly serious hurricane the week before. Many of them may have come to see if Brock, who stole two bases that day, would tie or break the record.
Here is an interesting picture from 1992 Stadium Club. Jim Gantner is getting back to the bag on a pickoff throw to Detroit's Cecil Fielder. But who is that guy in the background? He's clearly not a Tiger. With the full stands I don't think this is pregame activity, and the person is clearly in fair territory. It would seem to be an umpire, but since when do umps wear white hats?
My guess is that this is Memorial Day, 1991, and the umpires were wearing special gimmick hats like the players wear nowadays on holidays.
Prime Nine is the name of a show on the MLB Network. However, it was apparently also the name of an Upper Deck insert set in the mid-1990s. Upper Deck should sue MLB for copyright infringement. The irony would be great.
Mark Mangum, the Rockies number one draft choice in 1997, pitched six years in the Rockies and Expos organizations. He now runs Mangum Insurance, a leading Texas independent insurance agency, and is a coach for the Houston Heat travel baseball team. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.
- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players? My 1997 Bowman has been great material for my friends. The picturewas taken when the Rockies flew me up to Denver for a press conference. Ilook like I'm 12 years old. I think the 97 on the jersey was actually myweight at the time. Roger Bailey gave me his extra pants since it appearedthat his size would fit me better than anyone else's in the clubhouse...theystill swallowed me. Compared to pants worn now, they may not lookridiculous in that picture, but those pants were huge. Also, take notice of my left arm...I'm still not sure what's goingon there. I didn't pick up a baseball for about a month after the highschool season ended. I tend to think that at 18 years old, one month off isenough to get mechanics out of whack. I definitely catch flack for thatpart of the picture.
I also changed my autograph after seeing the chicken scratch on my1998 Bowman.
- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player? Not specifically. I am fascinated by the height, weight, hometown, and birthdates of players with cards pre-1990. I am amazed by the physical giants of the game, I always root for the little guy and I always hope to find players from places like Old Dime Box, TX or Goat Town, GA.
- Do you collect baseball cards? I used to collect cards, but not anymore. I still have them around somewhere. I traded a Barry Sanders rookie in return for a Roger Clemens rookie at one point (my first business deal; I think I broke even). My best friend also gave me a Bonds rookie right before the steroid stuff came out...oh well.
Thanks! Here is the one card I have of him, from 1998 Topps.
Chris Hammond pitched fourteen years in the major leagues for the Reds, Marlins, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees, A's, Padres and Reds. His best season was 2002, when he went 7-2 with a 0.95 ERA in 63 games for Atlanta. The following year he was a key member of the AL Pennant winning Yankees bullpen, pitching two scoreless innings in the World Series. Today he runs the Chris Hammond Youth Foundation, which builds and maintains recreation and athletic facilities in rural communities. He kindly shared with me his thoughts on baseball cards.
"I really don't have favorite card. I'm just grateful to have as many cards as I do. I don't collect cards but encourage kids to collect cards because its a great hobby to keep kids out of trouble."
"In a baseball world of juiced-up sportscars and ultra-cool convertibles, Jimmy Key is your basic, American-made, four-door sedan." Odd analogy. I guess you couldn't say the same about, say, Orlando Hernandez. Are there any Cuban made cars?
I guess the juiced-up sportscar would be Roger Clemens?
That's just one of the highlights of a great bunch of Yankee cards I got today from Garvey Cey Russell Lopes in exchange for some Dodgers and double-plays. Sure glad that that is no longer the most recent lineup to win a championship for the Yankees.
Other highlights include my first Yankee cards of Jim Kaat and Mark Teixeira. Also this great airbrush card of Rick Reuschel. Perhaps the coolest are two Sports Illustrated cards with World Series covers. While this one is of course a favorite because it was the first championship I remember . . . . . . this cover from 1958 is a great graphic, and I think is even cooler. Too bad you don't see magazine covers like that anymore.
Jeff Gardner was a middle infielder for the Mets in 1991, the Padres in 1992 and 1993, and the Astros in 1994. When I asked him about his baseball card experiences, he wrote back:
"I have two cards that are not my picture. One is Chris Donnels and another is Brad Ausmus."
Interesting - neither one is mentioned by Beckett. That means it is time for some detective work.
Gardner was teammates with Ausmus on the 1993 Padres. Here are cards of both of them in Padres uniform.
I think the Ausmus picture is this one, 1994 Score. It looks more like Ausmus, I think. Plus Gardner is a lefty and Ausmus is a righty, and the person in this picture is batting righty. The number on the bat knob is 15, which was actually Kurt Stillwell's number.
Donnels is tougher. He and Gardner were teammates on the Mets in 1991, but also in the Mets minor league system. Assuming he is not referring to an obscure minor league card,my guess is it might be this 1992 Fleer card, already an error because it lists him as a pitcher. You can't see much of the batters face here, making it difficult.
However, Gardner only played one game at Wrigley Field as a Met, September 11, 1991. Donnels was also in that game. Fortunately, there was a picture of Gardner in that game in the next day's New York Times. Gardner in that picture appears to be wearing a batting glove, or at least a wristband, while the player on the card clearly is not wearing batting gloves, though you can't really see his left wrist. Also, Gardner's stirrups are higher in the Times picture than the stirrups of the player on the card. Not definitive evidence, but circumstantial. Unfortunately there wasn't a picture of Donnels also.
For reference, here are pictures of Gardner and Donnels in Mets uniforms.
"Like father, like son, Reid Ryan is following in his fathers [sic] footsteps. Reid will be attending the University of Texas on a full athletic scholarship."
This card intrigued me, so I looked up Reid Ryan. He was drafted by the Rangers in 1994 and his career was done by 1995, when he went 0-10 with a 9.34 ERA. He has done well for himself, though, and is now CEO of a group that owns to minor league teams.
Q - What does "lay one down" mean? To bunt the ball
I was going to make a joke about that but I decided after reading the urban dictionary definition to go the high road and not bother.