Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What do .240 lifetime hitters dream of?

Answer: Being allowed to use an aluminum bat.

"If they let me use one of these aluminum jobs, I could be the next Stan Musial," thinks Ramsey.

I wonder how an aluminum bat made its way onto a major league batting practice anyway. Maybe that's what they should do for the next Home Run Derby - imagine Josh Hamilton with an aluminum bat. You could have a 700-foot home run.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Will we be seeing this jacket around this year?

I think it would be pretty awesome if the Phillies wore these jackets throughout the season, as they apparently did last time they were defending champs in 1981.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Early 1980s Fleer

The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much I enjoy early 80s Fleer. I started collecting cards in 1987, and throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Fleer sets tended to be pretty conventional and boring, although 1988 and 1991 did have some cool borders, at least. 1990 Fleer in particular may be the most boring major card set ever.

The era from 1981 to 1985, and particularly 1982, 1983, and 1984, really had a lot of goofy and interesting pictures.

Glenn Hubbard with the snake - the goofiest card of all time! I got this in the 10 boxes for 10 dollars I wrote about for the blog bat-around. I had been wanting this card for years - it did not disappoint when I got it. I had no idea there would be all those cartoon characters hanging around behind him! Is that Barney Rubble over there behind him?

A lot of the time, the goofiness is more subtle. In his article about the weird cards in 1983 Fleer, Sully makes fun of this picture of Gaylord Perry, sitting around looking like an old man.

Well, it turns out Fleer did that the year before as well! If anything, Perry looks even older and more worn out in this picture.

Interestingly, they show the pitcher holding a bat, and in 1981 Perry actually had by far his best year with the lumber, setting career highs for both on-base and slugging percentage.

Those early 80's Fleer cards really are great. If anyone has some available to trade and could use something on my trade list, let me know. I have very few cards from these sets and would love to get some more.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another goofy 1983 Fleer card

Like many, I greatly enjoy the 1983 Fleer set. There is of course the famous 1983 Fleer autograph project. Sully Baseball also had a cool retrospective of cards from that set, as it turns out - check it out here. He makes fun of the set for its weird pictures, but that's exactly why I like the set so much. That and the steel-gray border and the Arial font.

Here's a picture that wasn't in Sully's retrospective that I find very interesting.

It's not just interesting for Dennis Leonard's awesome mustache and sideburns or the sunflower seed stuck in his teeth. No, it is the fact that Fleer took a picture of him fraternizing with the umpires. Fraternizing? Heck, one of them is practically giving him a massage! "Here, Dennis, let me rub that big strong shoulder of yours!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

What's in the box, Mario?

Here we have a somewhat unusual 1983 Fleer card featuring Reds hurler Mario Soto, looking after a large, heavily scratched crate. What could be inside? Tom Seaver's hair gel? Treats for Schottzie? Schottzie? As the box is labeled #30, perhaps it is where they stored #30, Clint Hurdle, when they weren't using him (which would have been often - he only played 19 games that year).
Or perhaps Mario is keeping locked shut the demons that caused him to frequently lose his temper and get into brawls, causing him to get ejected twice in 1982.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

RangerAid is Thirst Aid

Powerade will not suffice for John "Don't Call me Johnny" Grubb. Nor will Gatorade, and certainly not the Hatorade. No, only a nice refreshing glass, er, paper cup of the drink that powered the Texas Rangers to a 64-98 record in 1982, a mere 29 games behind first place California.

Does any Ranger fan or anyone else remember this drink? I can't find a mention of it online. I love the early 80s font on the cup, it reminds me of a Roy Rogers restaurant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Interesting background items

What is a more interesting background object?
The ferris wheel behind Tom Bolton (was his picture taken at an amusement park)?

Or the buzzards circling around Rudy Seanez?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is going on here?

Here is another odd picture from 1994 Pinnacle.

Why is David Hulse giving the Red Sox shortstop John Valentin the ball? Was there a pickoff play at second and the ball ended up on the ground in front of Hulse? If so, why not give it back to the pitcher, or to the umpire? And why is not even looking at Valentin? Does he hate him so intently he can't even look at him, or is there something so fascinating in front of him that he can't turn his eyes away?

I did a little research and it turns out it must be this game, May 29, 1993, when the Rangers got clobbered by the Scarlet Hose 15-1. This was the only day game in Fenway that Hulse reached second. He did so by reaching on an error by Mo Vaughn - then Valentin made an error on a ball hit by Jose Canseco, allowing Hulse to score Texas's only run.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another injury-related card

Here is Randy Tomlin's 1994 Pinnacle card, which shows him having his elbow examined by the Pirates' trainer.

That would appear to be this game, May 29, 1993, when Tomlin came out of a game due to injury. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, this was the second straight game he had to come out of due to inflammation in his left elbow. (The first game he was taken out of was at Shea Stadium, so wouldn't be this picture. The Pirates lost the game 7-2, and Tomlin was never the same pitcher after off-season elbow surgery.

It seems a little insensitive of Pinnacle to use this picture for Tomlin's card.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A bloody good card

I've had this 1999 Fleer Ultra Corey Koskie card for a while, but just noticed something weird about it today. It's not the Mac OS 8 file folder or the infinited progression of Corey Koskies streching out behind.

Don't see it yet? Here, let me zoom for you:

Yep, the Fleer ultra photographer took Koskie's picture right after he got an injection! What was it? He's never been linked to steroids and besides, they usually get stuck in the butt. Being that it is his elbow the most likely scenario is that he just got a blood test. Is that a spring training thing? Get a blood test to make sure you're healthy enough to play?

I remembered that he had some medical problems and I was looking him up, but it was post-concussion system, so this injection would have had nothing to do with that. However, it turns out Koskie actually aborted his comeback and retired this weekend. Although his career ended prematurely, he did hit 124 home runs over nine seasons, a fine career worth getting spring training injections for.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Interview with Chuck Cary

Chuck Cary, who pitched eight years in the major leagues, graciously responded to my baseball card questions. He had his most success with the Yankees, winning ten games for some terrible teams in 1989 and 1990, but his baseball card story comes from when he broke in with the Tigers.

Bo Rosny: Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?

Chuck Cary: I guess the only stories I may have about baseball cards would be the time I saw my first card. I was in the clubhouse in old Comiskey Park, and Kirk Gibson had my card and was going to flush it down the toilet because it looked so ugly he said. He was joking, and then showed it to me. That was cool finally getting to see your face on a baseball card. It was something you dream about all your life.
Besides watching my kids putting them in the spokes of their bikes, I can't think of many other baseball card stories.

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

CC: Billy Ripken F*&# Face card

BR: Do you collect baseball cards?

CC: I do not."

Thanks for the great story, Chuck! The card that Kirk Gibson thought was so ugly must have been his 1986 Fleer Update card; it was the only major league card to come out when Cary was still with Detroit.

As I am a Yankee fan, I couldn't resist posting at least one card of Cary in pinstripes.

Here he is on a 1991 leaf, in a day game at Yankee Stadium. He made four day appearances at Yankee Stadium in 1990, three of them starts, and pitched well in all of them, giving up just six runs in 16.2 innings.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My first baseball card

All of this reminiscing about baseball card experiences brought about by the blog bat-around brings to mind another baseball card memory - my first card. When I started following baseball in 1986 I collected the Topps stickers, but did not collect baseball cards. One day in summer camp, I found this on the ground in two pieces, and decided to add it to my collection.

Who knows why it was ripped and stomped on? Maybe because Dickie Thon was not a star? Or perhaps his name sounded like a bad word and the kid who pulled it didn't want to get in trouble? Whatever reason, even in this condition I could tell there was a lot more to baseball cards than baseball stickers, what with the bigger picture and all the information on the back. I was hooked on baseball cards.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interview with Jim Campanis

Jim Campanis, who played six years of pro ball, mainly in the Mariners organization, and who now runs a successful ad agency, graciously responded to my questions with some great stories, including one about a rare Ken Griffey collectible.

Bo Rosny: Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
Jim Campanis: 1. My first card was when I was in the 1988 TEAM USA set from Topps. We had a 6am photo shoot and I look like I just woke up! They gave us a $5 check for the use of our photos but we could not cash it or it would have ruined our amateur status.
2. I played with the Mariners during the 1992 Spring Training when the Griffeys were on the team. Ken Sr. showed me a prototype card Upper Deck was to make with a "Father and Son" theme. Ken Jr. didn't like his picture and wouldn't allow it to be mass produced. I asked if I could have it and had both of them sign it. I wonder if it has any value?

[Note: here is the card that ended up being in the regular set]

BR: Do you collect baseball cards?
JC: No, but have some cool memories from my travels like my jersey from Mexican Winter Ball, bats, jackets...etc."

BR: Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
JC: Upper Deck caught me in an action shot throwing a runner out from my knees. They even used it in their print ads to push the set...of course I didn't get a nickel from it!

I couldn't find a picture of an Upper Deck card with that pose, but here he is doing the same thing on his 1993 Classic Best card.

Thanks for the great stories, Jim! I bet a lot of Griffey fans would love to get their hands on that prototype card. And now we know why players don't always look their best in baseball card pictures. If taken at 6am your picture was, look as good you would not.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bataround 5

What is my best baseball card experience? This has proven a difficult question to answer. Card collecting when I was a kid was a pretty simple matter of going to the stationery store once a week or so and picking up some cards. While that was certainly enjoyable, I can't think of one specific memory from that time.

I stopped actively collecting cards when I was in high school, and didn't start again until after college. My favorite place to get cards is the perpetual card show at the Tri County Flea Market in Levittown, Long Island. I've been going there pretty regularly for the past several years and can spend hours going through box after box of ten cent cards. There is not one particular stand-out experience, but it is just about my favorite way to get baseball cards.

My other favorite way to get cards is trading cards on the internet. I discovered it when I came across this trading site, and was amazed that this was a possibility. I had long since outgrown having friends who were interested in trading, and thought I was stuck with all of my doubles. Now I knew that there was an opening after all. I traded with her and many others, including several in the blogging community. Each trade was great and I can't really pick a favorite.

Another internet site that used to be great for getting cheap cards was craigslist. I have gotten several great deals from people getting rid of their collections, although for some reason, not in the last two years. The best was this haul I got from a dentist on Long Island's North Shore: ten boxes of cards for ten bucks. This was the most excited I ever was getting cards - for just ten bucks, hundreds of cards, in both set boxes as well as assorted cards in a variety of dental product boxes. It took me weeks to assimilate it all in my collection!

This haul even finished, nineteen years after I started, my 1987 Topps set. Ron Roenicke ended up being the last one to finish the set for me. Completing my first major set (I have since been able to put to bed 1988 and 1989 Topps as well) just added to the thrill.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The back pictures of 1991 Upper Deck cards show some examples of teammates having fun before the game.

Jose Lind displays his vertical jump at the expense of teammate 5'9" Mike Lavalliere.

Pitchers Pete Harnisch and Ben McDonald find out what it's like to be a catcher and a batter.

Scott Ruskin gives bunny-ears to a teammate (Drew Hall?)

Monday, March 16, 2009

One more great Boggs card

One more great Wade Boggs card - his 1997 Upper Deck. I have said before how I love that Upper Deck put the date the picture was taken on the front of the card. This picture comes from June 1, 1996 - the same day as the Paul O'Neill card I posted earlier. Boggs was two for four with a run scored and two RBI that day.

And of course, I love the picture on the back, which because of the angle appears to show Boggs signing a cup of Coca-Cola.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wade Boggs: Better than Pie

In my stack of Yankee cards from David of TribeCards, Wade Boggs was definitely the most well represented; there were probably fifteen or twenty different Boggs cards. One of the weirdest was his 1994 Stadium Club, which proclaimed him "Better than Pie." Did Margo Adams write that headline?

Oh, Pie Traynor. Still, what's up with that giant hand in the background?

Here is a card from a set I never heard of - Pinnacle Aficionado. I love it, though - I have a weakness for shiny cards.

Circa was one of those bizarre mid-nineties sets like Metal that depicted players in comic-book like situations. I guess Boggs feels like Neil Armstrong because he seems to be walking on some kind of red planetary landscape - perhaps Wade was the first man on Mars?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Baseball card stories from former Brave Tony Brizzolara, some funny, some sad

Got some very interesting stories today from Tony Brizzolara, who won 74 games in a 10-year professional career, including eight with the Atlanta Braves from 1979 to 1984. He shared with me some stories about his own collection as well as from his playing days.

I did have a card collection from my childhood. I had many cards from the 1963 through 1968 seasons, but I had a lot of cards from earlier. The older cards were amassed by flipping cards. I was very good at it and had a number of cards from the 50's including some Mantle, Musial, Aaron and may others. They were not in perfect shape considering how I acquired them, but they were good cards. I had some great football cards also.
That is not the interesting part of my story. Sometime around 1990 - 91 when the card collecting scene was big I was talked into showing my cards to a "friend" - a guy I knew from playing basketball. He was a collector and a dealer. He wanted to take a look at my collection. My most valuable cards at the time were two Nolan Ryan rookie cards which could pull close to $1,000 each in mint condition back then. He told me he would take them to a show and see what he could get. When he came back after that weekend he said he had bad news for me. Someone had stolen one of my Nolan Ryan cards. He was very apologetic and said he sold my other one for $400. What could I do? Then without my permission he decided to sell all my cards to try and get me some money to cover the value of the stolen card. So the bottom line was I got by $700 - $800 and lost my entire collection. I was very upset since the collection had great sentimental value to me. I grew up with the cards. I try not to think about it. That is just about as bad as if my mother had thrown them out.

My only other interesting story about baseball cards is though I had only one major league card I did have a number of minor league cards. I knew the photographer and one year I posed squatting with a catcher's mitt (I was a pitcher). They ended up taking another picture, but they did print the catcher card. Eventually the set of cards for that season in the International League has one value if it has my regular card but an increased value for the card with the catcher's pose."

Here is Brizzolara's only major league card, from 1980 Topps. Does anyone have a picture of this minor league card where he poses as a catcher?

Thanks, Tony!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Yankees from TribeCards

I got a great box of about 300 Yankees from David of TribeCards. About 100 of these were cards I did not have before (which means I have plenty of Yankees for trading if any other Yankee fans out there are interested).

Some of the highlights include:
Another shot from Pink Hat Day at Yankee Stadium. This 1992 Fleer Jesse Barfield picture seems to be the same moment as the picture on his 1992 Stadium Club I posted about then.

Speaking of interesting Jesse Barfield card backs, check out his 1990 Upper Deck - catching the ball with his eyes closed.

Here is a great night shot of Jason Giambi:

And check out Chili Davis and his bat-dagger!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scott Brosius's favorite card

My project to contact former players to ask them about their cards got a reply from it's biggest name yet - Scott Brosius, hero of the 1998 World Series and one of the classiest men to put on the Yankee uniform.
" To be honest is was never a collector of cards and didn’t pay much attention to them. I had one favorite card though, as it featured me holding my daughter. I only autographed one of those cards, and it was the one I gave to her. "
How sweet! The card he refers to is his 1997 Pinnacle card.

There is a very similar photo in the book called "Baseball's Best Shots," so the picture may not have originally been Pinnacle's. Or were there a bunch of photographers standing around watching him play with his daughter?

Of course, Brosius is best remembered by Yankee fans for his game winning home run off of Trevor Hoffman in the 1998 World Series, so here is a card featuring that memorable blast.

Thanks, Scott!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Simon says

In 1984, American League umpires loved playing "Simon Says." Oakland's Bruce Bochte was happy to take the role of Simon.

Simon says bend forward. Simon says put your hands on your knees. Now look up.

Can't trick this ump.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trade with Topps Baseball Cards

I got my first 2009 Topps cards yesterday in a trade with Topps Baseball Cards, in exchange for some of my early 80s Topps's.

I got several Yankees, headed by card #1, A-Rod. Others included Xavier Nady, Juan Miranda, Carl Pavano (who is now with Cleveland) and CC Sabathia, still in Milwaukee uniform.

Other highlights include:
Tim Lincecum - my wife likes the video game commercial he is in where he teaches his video doppleganger how to be more like him.

Jose Guillen - boy, that powder blue Royals jersey looks nothing like the one they used to wear.

Reggie Abercrombie, in a great action shot.

Must be this game - thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning. Still, he went three for four and the Astros won the game.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sure-handed, four-handed Scott Bradley

Is this a record for most gloves on one card? Scott Bradley is posing with no less than four gloves on this 1986 Donruss card. He is listed at three positions, catcher, third base, and outfield. In fact, in nine of the twelve games he appeared in in 1985, he was the DH, and the other three, he was the catcher. So most of these gloves either weren't his or didn't get much use.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fan appreciation day

Sometimes the coolest thing about a card can be the fans in the background.

Mark Eichhorn supports our troops.

It must have been Ladies Day at Fenway Park - there are six women in a row sitting behind home plate.

The woman in the black tanktop in that picture has always reminded me of Barbara Feldon of Get Smart:

Speaking of women, check out the look on the face of this damsel in distress, as she prays for Leo Gomez to save her from a foul ball.