Monday, August 31, 2020

You can't beat memories from a PWE

Much of my earliest baseball card knowledge came directly from a single friend, Gary, who I met in 3rd grade.  Gary way far more worldly and experienced than I was.  My parents cared about me very much, but didn't encourage me to have experiences outside of our little family world. 

Gary helped me break out of that mindset, in a lot of ways, but the first was to introduce me to both professional sports and then baseball cards.  My family never watched sports, either in person or on TV, so I was unaware of them.

In comments on some other blogs, I have mentioned that my first card memory was of a friend giving me a 1980 Topps Frank White.  That friend was Gary.

I was impressed by this card as an 8 year old boy, mostly because he was an 'A.L. All-Star'.  I didn't know exactly what that meant, but it sounded good.  Gary noticed that I had more interest in that card than his others and kindly gifted it to me along with a mini-lesson on how to get more of these cool cardboard treasures.  I don't even think I have a copy of that card anymore, maybe I should add it to my wantlist.

As my interest in cards and sports quickly rose, Gary was always there to show me new things to add spice to my life.  The one I want to talk about today is simulated baseball games.  Here's how we did it, and I am sure many of you did similar things:

Step 1. Make lineups for two teams.  We did this by choosing the teams and copying the players from the box scores in the local newspaper.  Then we determined for each player whether they were right handed, left handed or switch hitters.  That matters later!

Step 2. Set up the 'field'.  Ours was usually at the end of the road that Gary lived on.  It was a dead end into a grassy field.  At the end of the dead end, a short barrier separated the field from the road.  That was the home run fence.  About 5 feet short of that we drew a chalk line that marked the triple line, and further in, a double line and single line.  You see how this works?

Here is basically what the 'field' looked like. 
Step 3. Then we played the game with a wiffle ball and bat.  You had to throw and hit for each player, and use the correct hand to throw or hit with.  We rarely started lefty pitchers, but we used all the batters regardless of which side of the plate they were on.

We kept statistics religiously, so the games went pretty slow, since we stopped to record the results every plate appearance.  But all that work made it so we actually knew what Mike Schmidt's batting average (and everyone else's) was in our little league.  That fed into my life long love of statistics.  And when a power hitter was up, we swung extra hard.  Gotta make it as true to life as possible, I guess.

Anyway, that is a lot of background to what I actually want to talk about.  As time went on, we each gravitated to certain teams for certain reasons.  Gary loved the Cardinals, and I liked the Mets, and for a short time, the Padres.  The main reason for my infatuation with the Padres was Kevin McReynolds.  It started with us both having the same first name, and him looking like he might become a star.  But what really made the connection for me was that in our simulated games, I could always hit better when I was being McReynolds.  I was a small kid, and it took time for my athletic skills to blossom.  Gary always won our games.  But when I was channeling Kevin McReynolds, I hit more home runs than for any other player.  Was it real?  Or did I just see the world through little kid glasses?  Really, I don't care!  It is a beloved childhood memory, and I will remember it how I want.

Now let's take another turn...

Recently, I was working on my wantlists, as they are a challenge for me.  I was trying to think of cards I loved as a kid, but didn't have anymore.  (Like the Frank White above!)  One that came to mind was the 1984 Fleer and Donruss Kevin McReynolds RC's.  I added them to the wantlist.  But nothing came of it.

A week or so later, Daniel of the cool blog It's Like Having My Own Card Shop posted an offer to those who had commented on his blog recently to send them some cards for free if we would give him a few reasonable options.  I told him a couple of cards I needed to complete some sets, and since it was fresh in my mind, the McReynolds RC's.  You probably can tell where this is going...

A week or so later, a PWE showed up at my house.  As always, I was excited, but when I opened it, I was blown away.  Here is the card that Daniel sent, along with a note:

I don't know why this affected me as much as it did, but all the memories came flooding back.  I collect cards for a lot of reasons, but the feeling I had when I opened that envelope has got to be the biggest one.  Thank you Daniel!!!!!  And even though you aren't reading this, thank you Gary for getting me into a world I might have never found on my own.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Recent fun pickups - keepers

In my last post, I showed off the trade bait from a recent lot I picked up.  Today I will show the cards I am keeping from that lot! 

First are some relics from 'old timers'.

I kind of love these kinds of relics, players from the past that weren't necessarily the best players on their teams but pretty good guys that had solid careers.  These National Treasures cards do a good job on the backs of talking about the quirkiness that made these three memorable.  Just awesome!

Speaking of quirkiness, next up are a quirky trio!

The top 2 go in my Cuts & Colors special collection.  The 2017 topps chrome negative refractor of Carlos Gonzalez in the Colors section, and the Campanella from 2019 Panini Leather and Lumber in the Cuts section.  That Gonzalez sure scanned well.  More blue in the scan than in real life.  The Campy is just a cool card, the pic of him really adds to the sandlot feel of the card.

And the bottom card is one many of you are probably familiar with, but that I hadn't seen in years.  It's a broder, totally unlicensed.  I'm not sure what the 86 Fleer connection for these two is, but then, I don't really care!  A beautiful card that brings back the memories.

Now, a mostly shiny hodgepodge...

On top, I got the Guerrero boys, father and son on two beautiful cards.  I don't have a lot of Vlad Jr., so I was glad to add that one.  Vlad Sr is featured on another Knothole Gang card, like the Campanella above, but this one is from 2003 Fleer Splendid Splinters.  Still works for me!!

And the two Hendersons just look too awesome for me to pass up, though I wish it were an A's uniform.  They are both the 'nickname' variation, and pink one is a Career Stat Line.  Go Rickey!

More hodgepodge...

A numbered Trout?  Yes please, and shiny to boot!  The 'Presidential emoji' Strasburg was the only 'Emoji' parallel I decided to keep from the lot. I absolutely love the Vizquel bat/jersey card.  I love amazing defenders!  And last in this group, that Yaz kid!  This in my first Mike Yastrzemski, and it's a beaut.

And the last card I am keeping...

An Earl Weaver 'Colossal' from National Treasures!  Similar to the three cards at the top of the post, I really like this card.  Half of the reason I like it so much is that there are not a ton of Manager Jersey cards, and Weaver caught my imagination as a kid with his philosophy of "The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers". And the huge orange patch (probably from his pajamas) is the other half of the reason!

Hope you enjoyed them!  Hopefully soon I will get back to writing about cards a little more rather than just showing off what I got.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Trade starters

Big long picture post here.  I was able to grab a decent lot of cards recently.  Some of it I will be keeping, and some of it, once I got it in hand, I knew it would be trade fodder.  Lots of shiny and serial numbered. Some brand new stuff, some older stuff too, even some vintagey stuff. 

I'll be showing off the cards I will be keeping soon, but today's post are cards I would rather turn into keepers.  You know, trade??  I don't really know that any of this is anything anyone wants, but if you do, let me know!  Leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I am probably open to all sizes of trades, single card, larger PWE or if we get that far, larger packages.

Adam Dunn - 2005 Donruss Throwback Threads - Polo Grounds #/25
Mike Zunino - 2016 Topps Triple Threads - Triple Threads Unity Single Jumbo Relics - Emerald #/18
Carlos Zambrano - 2005 Finest Green Refractor #/199

I have always kind of liked those Polo Grounds cards.  Low numbered, all of them.  The Zunino and Zambrano (double Z's!) both look great, just don't really fit my collection.

Trevor Bauer - 2013 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor #/199
Anthony Rendon - 2014 Bowman Chrome Refractor #/500
Mark Trumbo - 2013 Finest Orange Refractor #/99
Nolan Arenado - 2020 Donruss Elite Series #/999
Kris Bryant - 2020 Donruss Season Stat Line #/650
Kris Bryant - 2020 Donruss Season Stat Line #/650 (Yes, 2 of the exact same card)

My new scanner sure seems to like the refractors.  It scans them quite nicely.  Plainer cards don't show quite as well.

Corey Kluber - 2020 Donruss Fire Emoji #/75
Yandy Diaz - 2020 Donruss Fire Emoji #/75
Jorge Soler - 2020 Donruss Fire Emoji #/75
Paul Goldschmidt - 2020 Donruss Elite Series Pink Fireworks
Trey Mancini - 2020 Donruss Presidential Emoji #/50
Jean Segura - 2020 Donruss '100' Emoji #/100

A bunch of 2020 Donruss!  The Goldschmidt is nice looking.  The others, which are 'emoji' parallels, I might be too old and crotchety for.  That didn't stop me from keeping a couple as you will see in a later post.

The '100' emoji's are #/100 (duh)
The 'Fire' emoji's are #/75
The 'Presidential' emoji's are #/50  They are supposed to be silhouettes of past US presidents.

Victor Martinez 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects - Refractor #/300.  Kind of a sweet card, but it's not for me.
Jose Bautista 2002 Topps Chrome Traded & Rookies.  I never got on the Joey Bats train.  Don't know why.
Gerrit Cole 2012 Bowman Platinum - Top Prospects.  This one scanned really bright!
Gerrit Cole 2010 Bowman Platinum - Prospects - Purple Refractor
Monte Irvin Auto W/ COA 1992 Front Row.  Interesting card.
Paul Goldschmidt 2011 Topps Update.  Duplicate, so it's up for trade.
Thurman Munson 1972 Topps In Action.  Another dupe.  Off center to the left.
Joe Foy 1969 Topps - Deckle Edge #22a.  These are pretty tough to find.  This one has a crease near Joe's eye, and some surface damage that can't be seen in the scan.  However, if you are one of those folks who has been trying to track one of these down, it's available!

Jimmy Wynn 1969 Topps - Deckle Edge #11a.  This one is in better condition.  Pretty nice!!

Like I said, if you want to trade, comment or email!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Some 'Take him or leave him' additions

My 'Take him or leave him' series has been a low key success.  I have had 3 brave souls step up and help me appreciate the merits of a player that they love.  All three were successful in their attempts too.  To prove it, I am showing recent additions of each 'Take him or leave him' player to my collections. 

First up, Ferguson Jenkins!  Reader Gary wrote about him here.  And the card I recently added to my growing Fergie collection is this 2005 Upper Deck Reflections 'Legendary Reflections', numbered /99!

The photo is of a younger Fergie with the first team he had success with, the Cubbies.  It basically captures how I have always thought of Jenkins, as a thoughtful but focused pitcher.  I was happy to add this to my collection!

Next up is Chris Sale!  Jeremy from the Topps Cards that Never Were wrote passionately about him here.  And the card, again numbered /99, is a 2017 Topps Gallery green parallel!

Sale seems to be a little pensive on this card.  Maybe wishing he could get back on the field!! 

And last but not least, Don Sutton!  Grcl of Cards as I See Them was kind enough to do a great writeup about Sutton here.  Alas, this card is 'only' numbered out of 125.  What a bummer!!  Though unlicensed, it is a good looking card of Don doin work.  It is a 2013 Panini America's Pastime.

The card didn't scan well, it looks like there is surface wear.  But in person, the card is much nicer.

Anyone else feel like talking me in to appreciating any of the following players (or another player you are passionate about, if you like!).  If so, write up your post and send it to me and I will throw it up on the blog!

Jose Altuve
James Shields
David Price
Manny Machado
Fergie Jenkins - taken
Cole Hamels
Alan Trammel
Don Sutton - taken
Roy Halladay
Andrew McCutchen
Chris Sale - taken
Carlos Beltran
Barry Larkin
Mike Mussina
Matt Holliday
George Springer
Gary Sanchez
Freddie Freeman
Nolan Arenado
Charlie Blackmon

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Guess the rookie - 2002

 My new scanner arrived!!!  No more awful pics, when I can now do awful scans. You are welcome.

OK, I recently came into a bunch of cards, many of which I will be showing off here in future posts.  Today's card is a custom sketch card by Jonathan D. Gordon. I had not heard of Gordon, but apparently he does lots of this kind of stuff.  There are quite a few of his cards on Ebay, check it out if you are so inclined.

The card is just a print of his artwork on heavy-ish printer paper, then apparently hand signed and numbered.

I like it!  Pretty stylized, and features what appear to be some of the rookies from the 2002 draft class.  Mike Dunleavy Jr. is easy for me to pick out, and the other guy in the middle looks like Jay Williams to me.  The guy on the right looks like Drew Gooden.  Am I right on those three?

It's the guy on the left that is giving me trouble.  I'm sure that once one of you fine readers tells me who it is, I will feel silly, but I can't figure it out.  Who is he????

Cool card.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

2020 isn't all bad

2020 isn't all bad.  No, not the year 2020, that has been pretty bad, but Topps Project 2020.  

OK, it's got plenty of bad, what with the massive prospecting, severe shipping problems, and to me, not a lot of great artwork.

But there are bright spots!!  Here are the 2 McGwire's I have, and I got them in very different ways.  

The one on the left, I bought on Ebay a couple of weeks ago for the whopping price of $8.63 shipped.  And I might have overpaid!!  So silly.  But it is a good looking card, and I am happy to have it in my collection.

The one on the right, just arrived for my birthday about a week ago.  No, my birthday wasn't a week ago, that's when the card arrived.  My wonderful daughter bought it for my birthday, back at the very beginning of June.  And 2 months later, here it is.  Again, so silly!  But I like this one too and am happy to have it.

So far, these are my two favorites as far as the artwork goes on the McGwire 2020 cards.  Some of the others are, frankly, awful.  But I am not an art aficionado, so what do I know.

I'm not likely to add any more any time soon, but if the price is right, I just might someday.

Friday, August 14, 2020

A trickle turns into a waterfall

When I returned to blogging some months ago, it didn't take long for trades and PWE's to start coming in.  And then I found Free Card Friday's and such, and even more cards flowed through my mailbox!!  Wonderful times.  But nothing lasts forever, right?

So in the last month or so, things have slowed down.  And then slowed down some more.  And for a bit there, I wasn't receiving and cards in the mail.  So sad!!

But just like I said before, nothing lasts forever, and I have recently been finding more treasure in the mailbox.  It started slow, but always good!!  Unfortunately, with my scanner out of commission, I missed posting pics of some of that stuff.  I apologize if I sorted your package away before I took some pics of it, but know that it was still much appreciated!

Here is a small part of what Madding from Cards on Cards hit me with from his Free Card Friday exploits:

That huge McGwire thingy is awesome!!  It's basically a SportsFlic, except huge and with lots more angles, so the action is much smoother.  It commemorates McGwire's 1st career home run.  I wonder if I could track down the x others that he hit?  Also pictured here is my winnings from Nachos Grande's sweet Allen & Ginter contest.  I got to pick from a ton of prizes, and I lucked out with the 2nd pick.  I knew I had to pick a Ginter based prize, and this cool mini-buyback/repack thing was it.  Awesome!

Thanks Madding and Nacho's!

So that was the trickle.  A few sweet cards flowing my way.  And then the waterfall fell on my head!!

I won another contest, this time it was Johnny's monthly Bingo game.  Which is a blast if you haven't tried it.  There were 5 winners, and I was the grand prize winner due to my getting Blackout on my Bingo card.  The prize showed up in a huge, flat rate box!

These are 5 boxes packed with one set, Heritage!!  Heritage from all sorts of years, I haven't even cataloged it all yet.  Johnny probably knows I don't have much recent stuff, and he delivered big time.  Curiously, I didn't find any Braves in the whole lot!!

But that's not all, Johnny also sent this complete** set of 95 SportFlix!

I put the ** by 'complete', because as I looked through it, there turned out to be one card missing.  No, not one of the big stars, but card #112, Reggie Sanders.  So now I'm on the lookout for that one card!!  If you have it sitting around, hit me up!

I never thought much of this set, but looking through it, I appreciate it more.  Not only are the cards pretty good quality, but there are a TON of HOFer's in this set. I counted 22 HOFers in the 165 players in the set.  And that's not counting major stars like Alex Rodriguez, Bo Jackson, Larry Walker, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Deion Sanders, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Bernie Williams, Fred McGriff and Don Mattingly!!

Thanks a bunch Johnny!!

And for those of you who only come here for the free stuff, a new scanner is on the way, which means the Diamond Nine will be returning shortly!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Take him or leave him - Don Sutton

A few weeks ago, I put up a post here talking about players that I didn't really have strong feelings about.  I invited anyone who wanted to write up a guest post about any of the players and help me get a better feel for why that player is great and deserves my collecting attention.  Well, I am happy to announce that the third response is in!!  

Previous 'Take him or leave him' posts:
Ferguson Jenkins
Chris Sale/Rafael Bournigal

Today's player appreciation post is from the great grcl of cards as i see them. And the player that he will be lauding is Don Sutton!  Needless to say, since he was on my list, Sutton has never caught my imagination.  I didn't dislike him, but there was no spark either.  Let's see how grcl helps me out!


do you sutton?

let me tell you a tale of two pitchers, one of whom is don sutton.

both pitched in the majors for 23 years. sutton, over the course of his career, completed 5282 and one-third innings over 774 appearances, while pitcher b threw 5008 and one-third innings in 744 games pitched.  sutton spent six seasons pitching in the american league, while pitcher b was a career national leaguer.

sutton won 324 games over his career. pitcher b, 355. wins are somewhat arbitrary though, right? so how about this – sutton struck out 3574 batters in his career, while pitcher b k’d 3371. sutton accumulated those strikeout totals even though his season high was 217 in 1969. pitcher b’s season high for strikeouts was 204. what about one of the other true outcomes of the game? well, sutton did surrender 1343 walks while pitcher b gave up only 999 bases on balls.  however, in terms of baserunners allowed, sutton’s career whip is 1.1425, and pitcher b’s is just behind at 1.1431. sutton’s career era is 3.26, putting him just behind bob feller and catfish hunter on the all-time list, while pitcher b’s is 3.16.

sutton was on teams that won 5 pennants, although he only pitched in four world series. pitcher b appeared in 3 world series. both had won-loss records of 2-3 in the fall classic. sutton finished in the top 5 in cy young award voting five years in a row, while pitcher b did the same seven straight seasons, with a couple more top 5 finishes to boot.

now, i am not suggesting that sutton was better than or even equal to pitcher b, as their careers overlapped by just a couple of seasons and the game was different in many ways over the course of their respective careers. however, i was trying to demonstrate that longevity in the game is not a thing to be used as an excuse for dismissing a player’s counting stats. such was the case with sutton, a hall of fame pitcher who, over the course of his career, struck out more major league hitters than all but three men who had ever played the game up to that point. and, even now, some 30 years after his retirement, there are only six men who have more strikeouts to their name than sutton.

but what if sutton had retired after the 1983 season, the year in which he surpassed the magical 3000 strikeout mark?

he only had 266 wins, but the 3065 k’s should have been enough to get him in to cooperstown. at that point, he had 18 seasons under his belt, and his whip was 1.119. that would have been good for about 27th place all-time back then, and would even today have him ahead of the likes of tom seaver.

however, sutton did continue to pitch for five more seasons, and some of his stats suffered for it – for example, his era over those five years was 3.99. of course, some stats, like wins and strikeouts, benefitted from it. big deal. nobody was complaining when greg maddux kept pitching into his 40’s with a 4.16 era over his last five seasons.

yes, greg maddux is pitcher b. the greatest pitcher of his generation has career stats that aren’t that different from sutton’s. sutton was certainly never as dominant as maddux, and pitching in different eras does mean something, but there have been over 19,000 people who have appeared in the major leagues, and only a handful have better career numbers than don sutton, regardless of era.

sutton was the only hall of fame player on the team of my youth and because of that, he is prominent in my collection. i would suggest that you consider making him at least a small part of yours.

however, if stats aren’t your thing, consider putting together a ‘don sutton suttons’ mini collection. he has championed a few standard pitching poses on baseball cards, but none more often than what i call his “suttoning” pose.

besides, sutton played for a few different teams with some cool uniforms as evidenced by the cards scattered through this post. any number of these cards would bring a colorful boost to your collection.

plus, if you can appreciate guys who kind of dress like disco stu

you’ve got to give sutton a chance.

(more on that photo and others like it in a future post at cards as i see them).


Wow, awesome!  Thanks grcl.  My love of baseball is very tied to either statistics or cool stories.  That's true for pretty much all players.  This writeup hit the stats angle hard, and I loved the comparison to a mystery player!  For a while, I thought it was Warren Spahn, but then I remembered that Spahn won 363 games, not 355.  Pretty impressive when you compare Sutton so closely to Maddux!!

I looked through my keepers box and the only Sutton cards I currently have are the 1969 and 1970 topps issues.  I'll have to remedy that!!  All of the cards grcl used in this posts are definitely candidates too.  I especially like the O-Pee-Chee traded card, but they are all great!  And I will be looking for when some card company makes the disco stu card!!

Thanks again grcl!

And if anyone out there reading would like to do one of these writeups and help me appreciate a player you love, feel free.  Below are the players I thought of, but if you want to do one that is not on the list, let me know!!

Jose Altuve
James Shields
David Price
Manny Machado
Fergie Jenkins - taken
Cole Hamels
Alan Trammel
Don Sutton - taken
Roy Halladay
Andrew McCutchen
Chris Sale - taken
Carlos Beltran
Barry Larkin
Mike Mussina
Matt Holliday
George Springer
Gary Sanchez
Freddie Freeman
Nolan Arenado
Charlie Blackmon

Friday, August 7, 2020

Take him or leave him - Chris Sale

A few weeks ago, I put up a post here talking about players that I didn't really have strong feelings about.  I invited anyone who wanted to write up a guest post about any of the players and help me get a better feel for why that player is great and deserves my collecting attention.  Well, I am happy to announce that after the first response, for Ferguson Jenkins, the second response is in!!  

Today's player appreciation post is from Jeremy from the great blog Topps Cards that Never Were and he was awesome enough to do a writeup for 2 different players.  He makes great cases for both!!  I'm looking forward to having an increased appreciation for them.  Anyway, let's see what Jeremy has to say!!


This is Jeremy from the Topps Cards that Never Were blog writing. I am trying to convince Kevin from The Diamond King to collect Chris Sale. I am also going to pitch another guy I collect, Rafael Bournigal. Up first is Sale.

Sure, Sale is your stereotypical power throwing lefty, who notches up a ton of strikeouts, but there's more to him than that.

One of the main reasons I collect him is that he attended my high school, Lakeland Senior High School, located in Lakeland, Florida. I graduated in 2001, Chris graduated in 2007, but I still feel like I can kind of say that I knew him since he played basketball on the same courts that I did, walked around the same campus I did, and we actually had a mutual friend, Pamela, in common. Chris wasn't the first standout athlete to play at LHS, as his teammate and 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce was one of my classmates in chemistry and drafting class, and guys like Keon Broxton, Alec Asher, Carson Fulmer, and Jameson Taillon were on the baseball teams, and Rod Smart (He Hate me of XFL fame) was one of many guys to play at LHS and professional football. So you could collect Sale because he went to the same high school as one of your favorite bloggers (and probably had a higher GPA).

When healthy, Sale is one of the best pitchers in the game. Sale has had 2 different 9 pitch, 3 strikeout innings, less than a month apart in 2019. He led the AL in K's in 2015 and 2017. He came out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series to finish out the game and become a World Champion. While it feels that Sale has been pitching for a long time and that he is old, he will be 32 on Opening Day in 2021, and it will only be his 12th season. He is already at 2,007 career K's. He has a halfway decent shot at 3,000 career K's if he is healthy. He twice tied MLB records of 8 straight starts with 10 or more K's. He is one of the few players in MLB history to have a 300 K season. He was the fastest player in terms of IP to 1,500 and 2,000 K's. He was an all-star from 2012 to 2018. He holds the career K/BB ratio record at 5.12. He just has so many strikeout records and if he is healthy for 2021, he could add on more numbers. It almost feels like he is Randy Johnson 2.0. If Randy was a 100, Sale has to be a 90.

Chris is tall (6'6"), and he is known as "The Condor" because of his delivery and how it looks with his height. His slider is almost unhittable. Most people forget he started his career as a reliever. Can you imagine having to face Chris in the 9th with his height, delivery, and his fastball/slider combo? I still think the White Sox and Red Sox are happy he is a starter.

Lastly, a few card-related reasons to collect Chris. Right now, he is recovering from surgery, so his card prices are low. He is well known enough that he has a good amount of cards out, and isn't some no-name with cards in only a few sets or hard-to-find cards. He also has a number of bloggers out there who collect him (Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown and myself, for a few), so you already know 2 people who probably have some dupes of Sale to sent you.

If that doesn't convince you to collect sale, then maybe seeing some of his cards will. Here are all of my Chris Sale cards in my Favorite Player binder (and yes, that is a Keytar in the background. I used to jam out on that thing with an old band I was in.)

Back to the cards....


Hopefully this did the trick, and you are now a Chris Sale collector. Be sure to hit me up for Sale dupes.

Next up is a player who is probably one of the top players who I am trying to collect, Rafael Bournigal. You may not remember Raffy, as he was just a utility infielder for the Dodgers, A's, and Mariners in the '90's. He had a chance to break through with the Dodgers, but Jose Offerman and Juan Castro were given the chance over him, and with Oakland, he had Tony Batista ahead of him. When Batista got selected by the Diamondbacks in the expansion draft, suddenly Miguel Tejada stepped up, and Raffy just settled in as a backup SS. 

Rafael Bournigal wasn't really on my collecting radar in 1993. I was really big in getting the 1993 Topps set, and while I did pull his 1993 Topps card from a pack, I more remember it being card #651 (the card after Terry Pendleton's card) that for who was on it. I actually thought he looked kind of dorky with the glasses. Well, fast forward a few years after that, and Rafael is with Oakland, and I find out that he is living in Lakeland, Florida (where I was living at the time), when I saw his picture in this little 'Polk County residents in the Majors' thing every Sunday in our paper (also frequently appearing were Lou Whitaker, Alan Mills, and Pat Borders). I started following Bournigal, and tried to catch any A's games on TV (mostly on WGN when they played the White Sox). I was about 14 or 15, and was playing basketball alot at the YMCA in Lakeland, and somehow, I found out that Raffy worked out at the Y. His brother Sean frequented the basketball courts, so maybe it was from hearing Sean's last name around the courts. I lived maybe a block from the Y (it was on the same street that I lived on, just on the other side of the road), and I usually walked over there to shoot hoops, or play a game in their middle school league. One day, I had just finished practicing a little, and I spotted this guy getting a drink by the door water fountain. Something told me that it was Raffy. I asked if it was him, and he said yeah. I then told him that I had 2 baseball cards of him and asked if he could sign them. He told me he was about to leave, and I mentioned that I lived right across the street. Then, him and Sean invite me into their fancy sports car, and drove me home, and I ran inside. I start yelling "Mom, Dad! Rafael Bourigal drove me home and I need a pen so he can sign his card!" They just looked at me and someone found me a pen as I dug out his cards, and he signed his 1993 Score and 1993 Topps card, and posed for a picture with me. 

This was around 1998 or so. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was kind of a big deal. He could've just blew me off, or said meet him later, but he took a sweaty stranger in his car, drove him home (probably a little out of the way), wasted probably 10 minutes, signed 2 cards, and took a picture. It was an effort for him, and it was a big deal for me. The older I get, the more I realize, it's not the big power hitters and flame throwers who tend to be in my collection, it's more the guys who were nice to me during in-person experiences. I can't stand talking to people or waiting on them at my job, but things like this make me realize that sometimes it's good to not shut people out and that I can do something that they will remember if I just take the time and be nice. 

I saw Raffy a few more times at the Y in the next few years. I remember asking him what Mark McGwire was like in 1997 (he said nice), and wishing him Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve. If my memory serves me correctly, I think I even played catch with him one time. 

I got a job at a local grocery store as a cashier, and one of the baggers was from Puerto Rico, and he was a big baseball fan who knew Roberto Clemente. He also knew Raffy, so he got him to come through my line most of the time, and we talked baseball and stuff. He would always get Presidente beer, and I don't remember much else of what he would purchase. 

After that, I didn't see him, but the story doesn't end. COMC kind of took off, and I started slowly getting more cards of Raffy from the site. I've amassed a pretty nice collection of Raffy, and added some customs to it to fill in some of the holes that Topps missed. 

Some time in 2017, I decided to write Raffy a letter and try to get some of my newer pickups signed by him. He not only signed some cards for me, but wrote a nice response back to me on the top of my original letter to him. Here is my Rafael Bournigal collection, and the note he sent back with my letter.

About a year ago, I also found an official signed contract from the Topps company. The contract was to produce Topps cards for him for  through the 2003 set if I read it correctly. I think he was signed through the 2002 set, and this extended it 1 year, so if he had played in 2002, Topps could've put him in the '03 set. Well, anyways, I won an auction on eBay (I was the only bidder), and now have an official signed Topps contract in my Rafael Bournigal collection.

So there you have it. If you want to collect cards of a great guy, a ballplayer who could've been the next Rafael Belliard but was blocked by bigger named stars, a guy who has a decent amount of cards but not hundreds, who has some nice looking cards due to playing during the '90's with Pinnacle and Score hitting the height of their printing technology, Rafael Bournigal is your guy. But beware. You will have some competition, the main source being myself.

Thanks, Kevin, for letting me try to sway you and for letting me write this post.



Wow!  Great stuff Jeremy!  And I love the pic of you with the Keytar!!  

I think you got me going on Sale.  The comparisons to Randy Johnson, one of my all time faves, helped a lot.  And the sheer impressiveness of Sale's records is hard to ignore, even in these strikeout happy times.  Beautiful cards you shared too.  I'm impressed with the athletic talent at your high school.  I think only future mascots attended my high school.

And the Bournigal stuff is even better!!  This is what I want collecting to be about!  Great personal experiences and a human side to our heroes.  Sure, I can obsess over Mark McGwire, the bigger than life persona, but you have a personal connection to Raffy.  And not just a single quick brush by, but some real, interesting stories.  Lucky you!!  Nice collection of him as well, I love the unsigned versions of the cards next to the signed versions.  And a personal note and topps contract??  What a collection!

Thanks again Jeremy, it was a pleasure!

And if anyone out there reading would like to do one of these writeups and help me appreciate a player you love, feel free.  Below are the players I thought of, but if you want to do one that is not on the list, let me know!!

Jose Altuve

James Shields

David Price

Manny Machado

Fergie Jenkins - taken

Cole Hamels

Alan Trammel

Don Sutton - taken

Roy Halladay

Andrew McCutchen

Chris Sale - taken

Carlos Beltran

Barry Larkin

Mike Mussina

Matt Holliday

George Springer

Gary Sanchez

Freddie Freeman

Nolan Arenado

Charlie Blackmon

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Take him or leave him - Ferguson Jenkins

A few weeks ago, I put up a post here talking about players that I didn't really have strong feelings about.  I invited anyone who wanted to write up a guest post about any of the players and help me get a better feel for why that player is great and deserves my collecting attention.  Well, I am happy to announce that the first response is in!!  

Today's player appreciation post is from reader Gary (no blog) and the player is Ferguson Jenkins.  Prior to reading Gary's post, I always thought of Fergie as a dependable but not spectacular, borderline HOFer.  He rarely had an expression on his face and that might have influenced my opinion of him.  Anyway, let's see what Gary has to say!!

Ferguson Jenkins was a boss.  You may not have known that, but he was!!  First, the basics of his career, then some stories that will convince you!

Born in Canada of all places, Jenkins was a born athlete.  He excelled in Hockey and Basketball especially, but his mom consistently pushed him toward baseball.  Super interesting, his mom was blind!  I wonder what it was about baseball that caught her attention.  Maybe Hockey was too cold.  And maybe basketball was too loud.  All I know is if I was blind, baseball might be one of the sports I would enjoy most too.  Outside, in good weather and the game is slow enough paced that the folks you are with would probably be good company.  The game is slow paced too, so might be easier to keep up with.  Whatever the reason, baseball should thank Mrs. Jenkins, because she gifted the sport with a great one!!

Fergie was signed first by the Phillies in 1962, but not much happened until they traded him to the Cubs in 1966.  Then he took off!  From 1967-1974, Jenkins won at least 20 games every year but one.  He was the Cy Young winner in 1971 and got votes lots of years.

Jenkins was the first player to record 3,000 strikeouts with less than 1,000 walks.  And he threw 267 complete games, which is unthinkable now, only 40 years later.

After pitching in the U.S. for so long, Jenkins finally got the chance to pitch in his own country as a member of the Texas Rangers twice.  He lost 5-4 in June of 1980, and threw a complete-game 6-1 win on Aug. 26, 1981, both at Toronto's old Exhibition Stadium.  Must have been a great experience for him.

Jenkins also played two years with the Harlem Globetrotters. Told you he was an athlete!!!  He played offseasons with them from 1967-1969.

And he loved the game enough that he played in veterans leagues until at least 1990.

There were some extreme lows along the way as well.  Jenkins lost an ex wife in a car accident 4 days after he joined the Hall of Fame.  A few years later, his fiance killed herself and Jenkins' daughter a few years later.  But he kept his head up and maintained a positive attitude through the tough times.

My 2 favorite Jenkins quotes, because he seemed to hate managers:
“Well, in 1966 I met the devil and his name was Leo Durocher,” in reference to the longtime Cubs manager.
“When I landed in Texas, I got to meet the devil’s sidekick, and his name was Billy Martin."

So, Diamond King, have I convinced you to have an appreciation for the great Ferguson Jenkins??  He never did grace one of the old Diamond Kings cards in early Donruss, his career was winding down about then.  But he should have been!!

Anyway, there are probably a lot of other things that could be said about Ferguson Jenkins, but I will leave you with my favorite Fergie from my collection (too lazy to scan, I have this card, but not this exact one):

Thanks a ton Gary!!  I definitely got a bunch of info about Jenkins that I did not know.  I dimly remember that he had played for the globetrotters (cool pic, bo knows before bo?) and of course that he was from Canada.  Loved the story about his mother and that he hated (or at least liked to make fun of) managers.  I'll let it percolate a little, but I think it is fair to say that knowing more will lead me to collect Ferguson Jenkins more in the future.

And if anyone out there reading would like to do one of these writeups and help me appreciate a player you love, feel free.  Below are the players I thought of, but if you want to do one that is not on the list, let me know!!

Jose Altuve
James Shields
David Price
Manny Machado
Fergie Jenkins - taken
Cole Hamels
Alan Trammel
Don Sutton - taken
Roy Halladay
Andrew McCutchen
Chris Sale - taken
Carlos Beltran
Barry Larkin
Mike Mussina
Matt Holliday
George Springer
Gary Sanchez
Freddie Freeman
Nolan Arenado
Charlie Blackmon