Saturday, February 28, 2009

Relaxing on the weekend

Upper Deck likes to show players relaxing. Perhaps no one was more relaxed than Cecil Fielder.

He did get up once in a while to play a round of golf.

Dion James likes to relax on the beach. In full baseball uniform.

Steve Finley's jaw is so relaxed he can't keep the gum in it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Photoshop Phriday

One of the weirdest sets from the late 1990s is something called Metal or Metal Universe. I don't have a lot of these cards, but the ones I have are, well, interesting. The purpose of the set seems to be to mix photos of ballplayers with comic-book like situations. Now, with the advent of Photoshop, any idiot with a computer can make images like that. Of course, the title of my post is the name of one of the better places to find such images (note, not really for kids). My personal favorite is the one they did for the Giants when they won the Super Bowl.

These Metal cards don't seem to have a theme or make much sense, however. The background images seem pretty random and not connected to the player at all. For example, here is Jeromy Burnitz, running from a train. Why? He is not a speedster, in fact was probably one of the slower players of his time. If he's running for his life he's not going to make it.

Here is an even weirder one. I haven't the foggiest idea of why the dragon is licking Andy Ashby's nipple. I don't think I want to know, either.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Play ball with the king

In 1979, the Burger King got such a case of baseball fever from appearing in the store's Yankee baseball card set . . .

. . . that he decided to become a baseball player himself, shaving his beard and joining the Astros under the pseudonym "Frank Riccelli."

OK, not really, but each time I see that card I think Riccelli looks just like The King.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taking a knee

Usually the most interesting pictures of ballplayers are the action shots. However, occasionally a common pose, like the one knee on the ground shot, can still generate an unusual picture.

For example, here is Tim Belcher, changing from black shoes to white shoes, while kneeling next to the Tigers yellow traffic cone collection. What are they for? In case they run out of bases?

Meanwhile, Mike York shows that some players are afraid to get their uniform dirty. Before agreeing to pose for the Fleer Ultra photographer, he put a piece of cardboard down on the ground so he wouldn't get a grass stain on his uniform.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baseball card memories from Mike Bacsik

Yesterday I got some great stories from Mike Bacsik, who pitched for the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins for five years between 1975 and 1980. Mike also talks about the collection of his son Mike, who has pitched for the Indians, Mets, Rangers, and most recently, the Nationals. "I am a small card collector, but growing up I spent all my extra money on cards (3 packs for 13 cents) and comic books (10 cents). I had all the Spiderman and Dare Devil ~ first 25 books. I bet you've heard this one before. Unfortunately my mom threw them all away when I was at college. Mostly because my 5 year older brother Joe still "played" with them on a regular basis. That was the end of a great collection, lots of Mantles and 50's and early 60's cards.
My son, Michael, was brought up with cards. We regularly went to card shows and he has a nice collection. He still collects at age 31. Michael is best known for giving up Barry Bonds record breaking home run. Michael has a son Jake, aged 9 months, who already has some cards. Michael has also bought some 86 and 87 boxes at discount prices that they will open on those rainy days when Jacob gets older. That is great fun with a kid! We did it many times in the past (great memories)." 

"My favorite player was a pitcher for the Tigers, Frank Lary. I think I have all his Tiger cards, mostly PSA 6's. My favorite cards would be of my son. After that My favorite that I own is the Mickey Mantle card with the stars behind it, Topps 1958 # 487 in a PSA 6. I also collect my hero's cards, Dr. Bobby Brown, who is the most accomplished person (that was a baseball player) of all time. Dr Brown was Yogi's roommate, great in the World Series, multiple WS championship rings, Marilyn Monroe's personal doctor in Japan, a heart doctor, American League president, and a great guy."
"Best card collection I've seen is Demetri Young's of the Washington Nationals. He has Rookie card PSA 10's of all the greats.
My son gets mad at me for buying PSA 6's but that's all I can afford and I just like the cards for what they are and not an investment because I won't ever sell them, I'll just give them to my son or grandson. I guess that's why he wants me to buy higher graded cards. ha ha!"
Thanks, Mike!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Baseball card memories from Joe Ausanio

I corresponded with former Yankee Joe Ausanio, who won two games and saved one for the AL Wild Card 1995 New York Yankees. He is now the sales manager for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the Rays minor league system. Joe graciously answered some questions I sent him about cards:
On whether he collects:
"I collected cards as a kid and I wish to this day I know who the heck I put in the spokes of my bicycle tires. We thought that was the coolest thing to hear the noise our baseball cards made. I have a modest collection. No big dollar items but some sentimental cards."
On his favorite card:
"My favorite card is my 1994 Leaf Limited Rookies card. It was a platinum looking card that had a great action pose of me pitching."Thanks!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kids on cards

Sometimes a player's kids will show up on their dad's cards. Cuteness ensues.

Jose Melendez's son is a little shy.

I get the feeling that a minute before this picture was taken, Rob Murphy spit on his hand and straightened his son's hair so it would be just so.

Upper Deck needed no less than four cute toddlers to offset the ugliness of Gary Gaetti, known as "The Rat" for his appearance.

These kids are too young to be Gary's kid Joe, now a minor leaguer known as "Little Rat." Looks like he has a good sense of humor about it.

Here's Bob Welch with another shy kid, probably son Dillon:

Judging by their cards, no team was more kid-friendly than the early 1990s Mariners.
Here's Shigetoshi Hasegawa with son Kohto:

Mike Cameron with Dazmon:

And Aaron Sele with daughter Katherine, sporting Seattle Mariner baby socks:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Six Angry Men

Baseball cards are supposed to be happy, joyful objects. That is why it can be funny to see players that are steaming mad.

Some players interperet "smile for the camera" to mean, "make your angriest face."

Rick Krivda is so mad he's biting the bat.

Donruss didn't do manager cards very long, but they sure got Billy Martin right.

Finally, there's this amazing card of Lance Parrish throwing a Gatorade jug onto the field after an argument with the ump. (At least that's what I've always assumed was going on here. Does any Angel fan remember an incident like this?)

Friday, February 20, 2009

The write stuff?

I am not an autograph collector, so I am not really up on all the rules of the trade. However, aren't you supposed to get the player to sign a picture of their self, not someone else? If so, then why are these Cardinal fans asking Andy Benes to sign a picture of Tony LaRussa, as not one, but two fans are doing on this card?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interview with Pat Ahearne

I was fortunate enough to come into contact with Pat Ahearne, who won 115 games over sixteen professional seasons, and pitched in four games for the Detroit Tigers in 1995.

I asked Pat if he would share some stories about his cards and cards he collects, and he graciously responded with some interesting anecdotes.

"I have a few stories about my own baseball cards. Let me start with the sore spot. I have one major league card which is the 1995 Bowman’s best from the Detroit Tigers. It’s a cool glossy looking card and I look about 12 years old (actually was 25), but on the back it is quick to point out that I’m a “relatively soft thrower”. Thanks a lot! They couldn’t find anything nice to say other than he’s a “soft” pitcher. I wonder if Sparky Anderson read that one before he sent me back to Toledo. Sparky’s first words ever to me were in the clubhouse after my Major League Debut – 1 inning, 5 earned runs – “the sun’ll come up tomorrow, kid”. To be sure, I was facing a Yankee lineup with Bernie Williams hitting 8th, but the sun did come up the next day."

"One of my cards I’m really proud of is the card made of me in the Venezuelan Winter League. I have one playing for los eternos campeones, los Leones del Caracas. Venezuela is one of my favorite places in the world and I’m proud of my performance and enjoyed my time there too."

Some of my favorite cards of other players include my 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly. That whole set is cool anyway and that was his rookie card too. Now let me say that I’m a Dodger fan all the way and that Donnie Baseball is 0-2 career against me."

"My favorite Dodger cards are my 1980 Steve Garvey (met him in spring training 1997), an Orel Hershiser card from the Albuquerque Dukes (I grew up in Albuquerque and went to the games all the time), I also like the Hershiser 1989 Upper Deck as that shot was right as the 3rd out of the 59th scoreless inning was recorded."

"My personal baseball card collection stretches from about 1982 through 1990. It became impractical and expensive for a college student/minor league baseball player to keep up the collection. Some of my other cool cards are the 1983 Cal Ripken Card, my 1981 Fleer “Fernand” Valenzuela card, and the 1991 Studio Set – I’m into photography as well."

Speaking of that, I took up photography about 10 years ago and from 2003-2006, my managers were nice enough to let me shoot from the dugout when I wasn’t starting. In 2006, I played for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League. All the guys had seen my work and I had sold some prints of the players in the souvenir shop as well. So when the baseball card set came out, all my team mates asked why they didn’t use my photos for the set as they liked them better. I said as a pitcher, I can be had for cheap, but behind the camera, they couldn’t afford me. "

Thanks, Pat!

Check out his site - he really is a good photographer. Readers in the SoCal area may want to consider him if they have a wedding or something.

I only have one card of him myself, from 1995 Topps Traded:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Cones, One Flavor

In one of the all-Yankee assorted card packs I picked up the other day, I got these two David Cone cards, 1996 Leaf and 1996 Leaf Studio, almost back to back. Notice anything similar?

It's not exactly the same picture, but it's darn close. The pictures feature Coney at Milwaukee County Stadium. The game must be September 27, 1995, his last start of the regular seasons. Cone won the game, pitching eight innings and only giving up one run, as the Yankees continued their amazing September on their way to wrap up the AL Wild Card and their first post-season appearance in fourteen years. Cone allowed one run on six hits in eight innings, before turning the ball over to Rick Honeycutt (bet you forgot he was a Yankee for a stint) for the ninth.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lazy Monday

I had the day off from work on Monday, and with surprisingly little to do, I made a trip to Modells and picked up five 35- card packs of assorted cards for two dollars each. These are always fun for me - I enjoy these much more than I would the more expensive boxes of new stuff.

These are always an assortments of sets and teams - I was quite surprised to find four packs with all Yankees. I added one mixed pack for variety. Interestingly, each pack, even the non-Yankee specific one, had exactly one 1990 Donruss Hal Morris.

I got cards of two of my favorite Yankees of all time, Ruben Sierra and Mickey Rivers. (My dad actually wanted to name me after Rivers, but my mom wouldn't allow it.) His 1979 O-Pee-Chee is now the oldest Canadian card in my collection.

This Upper Deck card of Raul Mondesi's unique style of catching a baseball is my favorite picture of the group.

I got exactly two 1991 Leaf cards - the Giants "Black & Decker" battery - how is that for a coincidence.

My tradelist has been updated with the dupes in this set and can be found at the top of the right column on this page - let me know if you want to trade!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Celebrity look-a-likes

Ever look at a baseball card and think, hey, that guy looks like someone famous?

Terry Kennedy . . .

. . . always reminds me of Gary Sinise, Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump.

Jeff McKnight . . .

. . . looks like Garth from Wayne's World, at least on this card.

Rich Ireland of the Marlins (how does he pitch in jeans? Hope he doesn't have a high leg kick). . .

. . . reminds me of Chandler from Friends.

Mike Walkden, in this pose . .

. . . seems to be doing his best Paul Bunyan.

What other players look like celebs?