Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Paul Wagner on baseball cards

Paul Wagner pitched eight years in the major leagues mostly for the Pirates. His best season was 1993, when he went 8-8 with 2 saves and a 4.27 ERA. Overall he was 29-45 with a 4.83 ERA. Now the owner of Paul Wagner Power Pitching in Wisconsin, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"Nothing unusual about one particular card or others, but as a collector of sorts growing up and chewing gum and putting sets together with the Beckett books, all of my cards are special to me and my family."

Monday, October 30, 2017

Wallet Card with a propeller from the SS United States

That strange object in the back of a West Side parking lot is a propeller from the SS United States. Built in 1951, the SS United States is the largest ocean liner constructed in the US and the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic. A luxury liner that could have been converted to a troopship had the need arisen, the ship operated until 1969. Since its retirement many of its parts have been auctioned off. Four of its propellers, each weighing over 60,000 pounds and reaching 18 feet in diameter, have been preserved, including this one which used to be on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum but now sits forgotten in a parking lot across the street.

1993 Studio Scott Cooper

Hobbies are hunting and golf: These appear to be the two most popular hobbies so far.

Favorite sports announcer is Jack Buck: Cooper grew up a Cardinals fan in Missouri; Buck was a long time announcer for the team.

Favorite player as a kid was Mike Schmidt: No one better for a young third baseman to emulate.

Might have been a salesperson if he hadn’t been an athlete: He does not appear to have gone into sales after his baseball career.

Pet peeve is taking the easy way out: Good answer.

Where he is now: Owner of the St. Louis Gamers youth team. He shared his thoughts on baseball cards with this blog in 2012.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ross Wicks on baseball cards

Ross Wicks pitched in the Mets organization in 1994 and 1995. In 24 games for the GCL Mets he went 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA. He came across my blog and wrote this nice note:

"I enjoy seeing your blog periodically and I have to admit it makes me jealous because even after producing great statistics as a 17 year old in the toughest league, Gulf coast league rookie ball in '94 against amazing talent, I was never able to get a card of my own! I think I was partly steered to sign simply for a real card of my own! Someone made me one out of the blue and I almost shed a tear! Keep up the great work!
Ross Wicks NY METS farmhand '94-'96"


Friday, October 27, 2017

Norm Charlton on baseball cards

Norm Charlton pitched thirteen seasons in the major leagues, mostly for the Reds and the Mariners. He was one of the "Nasty Boys" of the World Champion 1990 Reds, one of the first dominant bullpens. In 605 major league games he went 51-54 with 97 saves and a 3.71 ERA. In 17 postseason games he 3-1 with 2 saves and a 1.08 ERA. Now a fishing guide, owner of Norm Charlton's Big League Adventures in Rockport, TX, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"I do not really collect cards, although I do have quite a few.  I think there is a Tom Browning card with my photo on it.  I enjoy cards, think they are great for baseball history as well as kids and collectors."

Thursday, October 26, 2017

1993 Studio John Burkett

Hobby is bowling: Burkett is now a professional bowler. He has 12 perfect games and finished 15th in the 2015 Senior US Open.
Favorite sports announcer is Lanny Frattare: Burkett grew up a Pirates fan in Pennsylvania; Frattare was a long time announcer for the team.
Favorite player as a kid was Willie Stargell: Stargell was one of the top players on those great Pirates teams.
Might have been a pro bowler if he hadn’t been an athlete: I guess he’s saying bowlers aren’t athletes?
Where he is now: Burkett also works for bowling equipment company Storm Products.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Baseball cards stories from Derek Rodriguez.

Derek Rodriguez pitched in the White Sox organization from 2005 to 2009. In 158 games he went 29-25 with 6 saves and a 3.87 ERA. He kindly answered my questions on baseball cards.

"Favorite card- I have a signed Greg Maddux Rookie card, with the certificate of authenticity. It was a Christmas gift from my grandfather. The story actually extends beyond a Christmas gift. My grandfather worked with his father-in-law and my mom was his wife’s babysitter. That’s what made me follow Greg. Later when I was drafted, I had the opportunity to speak with him and hear his advice, incredible guy. Once my career was over, I decided to coach high school baseball and Greg helped me (his son was on the team). So that card has stayed with me for almost 30 years and it’s amazing how mine and Greg’s paths have crossed over those years. Never did I think at 4 or 5 years old that I’d have a rookie card of one the best pitchers to ever play but also know him personally 30 years later. 

Cards on myself- I don’t have a unique story but simply the feeling you get when someone has your card or asks for you to sign one. It never got old and was always humbling. The feeling of being thankful always stayed with me. I was probably just as excited as the kids when they asked. The only time I was shocked about a card was seeing my Bowman card one random day at Target. I saw the box of cards and opened up a couple to which I actually found mine. I was cracking up. People probably thought I was crazy opening these near the cash registers without paying. So I ended up buying the whole box and still have them today. They’re all still unopened except for the ones at the register that day."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

1982 Fleer Stamps

I am a big fan of early 80s fleer - it is my favorite baseball card photography because of the interesting, often quirky photos. I have all of the base sets but there were a lot of oddballs out there from that time that I have yet to get my hands on. So I was excited to get a whole bunch of these in my trade with The Angels, In Order. Some highlights:

Pete Rose being interviewed by ESPN.
 Rookie Fernando Valenzuela with Warren Spahn in a Milwaukee Braves uniform. Such an awesome cards. (By the way, there were dupes of several of the stamps that Bru sent me so I have a some to trade, including both the Rose and the Valenzuela/Spahn.)
 Another great Fernando combo card, this time with Tommy Lasorda.
 I don't get to pick up a new "card" of Willie Randolph as a Yankee very often. Another great shot.
 So many awesome things going on in this great photo of Carl Yastrzemski.
 Just so many different types of photos that you would never see on Topps or Donruss products at this time. The one drawback is that the players names don't appear on the stamps. This is Toby Harrah.
 The occasional centering issues may not pass a photography exam but they add to the quirky charm.
 Closing out with Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams. Like the Fernando/Spahn card, just an awesome, awesome photo at a time when such combos were rare on cards. Had these photos been on cards in the base set they would be highly sought after by collectors and would be regularly seen on the blogs. But they are on stamps instead so unfortunately have been largely forgotten.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cards from The Angels, In Order

Edited to reflect that these cards came from Tom of The Angels, In Order. I had mistakenly attributed them to another blogger originally. More to come in another post.

Tom whittled down my wantlists from several Upper Deck sets, 2006 . ..
 . . . 2007 . . .
 . . . 2008 . . .
 . . . and 2009.
 He also knocked off a few of those elusive 2014 Topps cards, like this nice Ben Revere photo.
 And a few more from another surprisingly difficult-to-complete set, 1986 Topps Traded.

Shairon Martis on baseball cards

Shairon Martis has pitched professionally since 2005. He pitched in the major leagues for Washington in 2008 and 2009 and Minnesota in 2013, going 6-7 with a 5.35 ERA in 26 games. This year, for the Orioles' AAA team in Norfolk, he went 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in 8 games. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"My favorite card is the one from the WBC when I threw the no hitter because that was before I made it to the MLB. 

I really don’t collect cards but if I see one that I like I always ask for one.


Sunday, October 22, 2017


When Andy Pettitte shocked the Yankees by signing with the Astros after the 2003 season, the headline in the New York Post (or was it the Daily News?) said DISASTRO. For some reason that headline always stuck with me when I thought about the Astros. Since that time the Yankees were no-hit by the Astros, lost the Wild Card Game to them in 2015 and now were defeated by them in the 2017 ALCS. Still, it was a good season, as the Yankees really overachieved to get this far. Hopefully the good seasons the young players had this  year are building-blocks for the future and not one-time flukes. Good luck to the Astros - those Dodgers sure look tough to beat.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Gil Velazquez on baseball cards

Infielder Gil Velazquez played parts of five seasons in the major leagues for the Red Sox, Angels and Marlins. In 33 games he hit .233 with 0 HR and 4 RBI. Now the minor league infield coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"My favorite card of mine is my very first one. I was in the Appalachian League as an 18 year old and had no idea they made baseball cards of us. I never had one of the big leagues even though I had parts of 5 seasons or else I feel that would have been my favorite. I used to collect baseball card as a kid growing up. We would play marbles to win each other’s cards. I still remember losing a Jose Canseco rookie card and went home crying. Not because he was a favorite player of mine but because it was valuable at the time. My favorite card of another player was my Cal Ripken Jr. card. He was my favorite player. The Iron man!! I never kept my cards due to us moving around so much and I never knew what happened to them. But I still cherish those memories of getting out of school walking home with 50 cents to purchase a pack of cards. I’d buy my cards and walk home crushing the bubble gum in the pack. Great memories."

Thanks! I couldn't find a picture of that card (1999 Multi-Ad Appalachian League All Stars), but here is one from later in his career.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Baby Bombers do it again

Wow, I did not expect that kind of success against Keuchel. It seems like these young Yankees may not have the experience to know when they are supposed to be overmatched. Now they go back to Houston in prime position to win this series, needing to just win one out of two. Sitting pretty . . . just like in Seattle in 1995, or Arizona in 2001. Good reminders not to get overconfident.

Could easily highlight Judge and Sanchez again but there are some many good young players on the team right now.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Baby Bombers growing up

It's amazing the Yankees had gotten as far as they had with very little from their two biggest bats, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Fortunately that changed in a big way yesterday, as they came back from being down 4-0 in the seventh and 4-2 in the eight with some big clutch hits from both of them. The Yankees still have a lot of work ahead of them if they want a pennant but this was a great game.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A lucky package

Yesterday was a great day for the Yankees. Some serious two-out thunder - all eight runs scored with two outs. And CC continues to be ageless, pitching six shutout innings, looking like the Cy Young CC pictured on this card, which arrived in the mail yesterday as part of a trade package from an Astros fan. Talk about timing!
(More to come on the awesome package in a future post)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Caught a Trout

A few weeks ago I won a contest from Collecting Cutch, winning this awesome jersey card of one of the best players in baseball.
 He also threw in some extras which are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

1993 Studio Barry Larkin

Hobby is hunting: Larkin has a reputation as one of the most avid hunters in sports.

Favorite sports announcer is Al Michaels: Larkin is from Cincinnati; Michaels was originally a Reds announcer.

Favorite players as a kid were Dave Concepcion and Ozzie Smith: Larkin ended up playing with his idol, Concepcion, with the Reds.

Most prized possessions are his ’90 World Series ring and his ’88 Olympic medal: It must be a pretty select group that has won both a World Series and an Olympics, I know Tino Martinez was on that team as well.

Might have been a financial advisor if he hadn’t been an athlete: Larkin has now done just that, starting a firm called Dugout Ventures with Torii Hunter, David Ortiz, Nolan Ryan and Vernon Wells.

Where he is now: In addition to Dugout Ventures Larkin also does work for the Reds.