Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A Deuce of Nine Spots

I found an old 800 count box of 80s cards in a corner of my garage, where they had probably been sitting for 10 years or more.  Jackpot!!  Of course they were all commons or close to it, but that only meant that there were some cool cards that I hadn't seen in years!  I pulled 18 that made me smile, giggle or reminisce!

The top three cards are box bottoms!  I love the feel of the thicker stock.  Oddibe sighting #1!

For Oddibe sighting #2, we only have to go as far as the second row, where McDowell is joined by his 84 USA teammate Cory Snyder.  Obviously, the most famous card from this subset is the McGwire RC, but back in 85, these two were right up there on the Hot List.

Then we have a sad record breaker card.  Sad you say?  Well, the record that Samuel broke only lasted one year.  The next year the great-ish Vince Coleman swiped 110 bags to demolish the record.  Might be why Juan looks a little befuddled.

LaMarr Hoyt!  Lots could be said about Hoyt, something of a sad story.  But he was a pretty impressive pitcher for his 8 year, drug ended career.  Ended up with a career .590 winning percentage despite a couple of horrible years at he end, the same as Bob Gibson.  He captured my attention as a kid when he was traded to the Padres in 1985.  I always wondered how someone so obviously out of shape and grungy looking could pitch so well.  And an O-Pee-Chee to boot!

The Eric Show just screams MUSTACHE at me.  His perm isn't bad either.  USA Network and Budweiser ads in the background too.  Cool card.

The Maury Wills card is just jarring to my senses.  Maury a Mariner??  So strange, but cool to have any Maury Wills card.

1978 Topps Billy Martin - I'm thinking about starting to collect Martin.  He actually has a lot of great cards out there.  And the 'As Player/As Manager' subset was a good one!

1981 Topps Berenguer, Brooks, Wilson RC - Three decent players on one RC.  Not bad.

1982 Topps Kent Hrbek RC - I was intrigued by Hrbek.  He seemed to have some talent, but on most of his cards, he always looked like he had just come back from a party and wasn't quite ready to play ball to me.

1981 Topps Joe Charboneau RC - There are a lot of great stories about "Super Joe", but you will have to go google those yourself.  Tough career with the injuries, he holds the record for fewest career games played by a Rookie of the Year, with just 201.

1981 Fleer Harold Baines RC - RC of a HOFer!!  OK, in the real universe, he is not a Hall of Famer.  I was just reading about that on someone's blog recently.  And I agree, he isn't, but he was a quality player.  

1983 Donruss Julio Franco RC - Franco is a guy I respect.  He loved the game.  Wasn't a star for the last 10 years or so of his career, but stuck around and contributed everywhere he went.  23 year career is nothing to scoff at!

Three Tony Penas - You gotta sing that to the tune of The Macarena.  Threeeeee Tony Penas!  The Topps RC is a good card, but those Fleers are just sweet!  Love the way he carries his catchers gear on his bats in the 84, and the grungy, minor league feel of the 82 is great too.

Go find a box of old cards to look through!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Some fun cards

Big bunch of diverse cards to look at today, from a lot of different places!  Something for everyone?  Could be!

I won a contest over at The View from the Third Floor, and Elliptical Man sent me not only my winnings, but this great set of shiny and die cuts!!

He sent a not that said he hoped these qualify for my Cuts and Colors collection.  What do you think???  Very nice, my favorites are the Landry Die cut and the Smith Record Breakers.

And of course, my winnings:
Some really great Draft cards.  And my first DK Metcalf RC!  My daughter was as excited as me, she has taken a shine to the beast.  Thanks a lot Brenden!

gcrl of Cards as I See Them decided that I didn't have enough McGwires.  And he was right!  Out of nowhere, this needed Big Mac showed up.

Thanks Jim!!

Jon at Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts was another 'out of the kindness of his heart' card sender.  This time it was for my Steroids Project.  
Both of these will definitely make it in to the Project!  And both are serial numbered.  I've always quite liked the 98 UD3 die cut shape.  Very unusual and cool.

And the rest of the cards in this post are from a lot of cards I recently stumbled into.  It was quite a diverse bunch of cards, and there were surprises everywhere, as I bought it blind.  I was extremely happy with the purchase though!  Here are a few of the highlights.

1969 Topps Don Drysdale - I'll take 60s cards of stars any time, any place.  The last card of Drysdale's playing career.

1977-84 TCMA Renata Galasso Roberto Clemente - I guess I don't really know the history of this set, specifically why it is listed as an 8 year set, from 77-84.  I assume that Galasso just kept pumping out cards.  Regardless, a 'vintage' Clemente!

1997 Bowman RA Dickey RC - Not his most desirable RC, not Chrome, not a refractor.  But I recently watched Knuckleball on Netflix which featured Dickey, and it made me appreciate this card and the struggles of knuckleballers.

2020 Panini Prizm - Brilliance - Red White & Blue Prizm Jacob Degrom - If you don't know I like colorful and shiny, then you haven't been payin attention.

2017 Topps Fire - Monikers Jacob Degrom - Back to back DeGrominators!!  All kinds of color and mess going on here, right? I very much need the McGwire from this set!

1996 Topps Finest - Landmark Series - Promos Eddie Murray - My favorite Murray cards are definitely Orioles cards.  However, this one is pretty sweet!  Good color, shine and design.  The card is a little smaller than a standard card.  Strange.

1997 SP - Inside Info - This is the first card of this subset I have ever held.  I wasn't collecting at the time.  As you can see, you can pull on the little tab and get some extra info on ol' Roger.  Kind of cool.

2002 Upper Deck Minor League Joe Mauer - I always liked Mauer, so when a 'pre' RC popped out, I was happy to see it.  I wish guys like Mauer were more appreciated.  I also wish he had been able to play longer/sustain his peak.  Classy guy with skills.

And my favorite card in the bunch....

2020 Panini Absolute - Absolute Legends Blue Billy Martin!! - This card just makes me laugh!  Martin looks like a mobster or janitor or bum on the street, I am not sure which.  Totally sums up Billy Martin for me!  And of course, the card is nice and shiny which is just icing on the cake.  Great card.

Some basketball cards were in the batch too!  I ran into this Green Prizm of Bill Russell.  Celtics look good in green, who woulda guessed?

Right after the Russell was this Green Prizm of Kareem!  Back to back Green Greats!  Any guesses on who was next??
Yup, the trifecta!  Wilt rounds out the trio of big men cloaked in green.
Here they are all together:
These may not quite make my keepers as singles, but I would love to think of something to do with them, they are so nice as a group.  Maybe I'll take them to work and look at them every day.

Last up are these sweet ceramic cards from the Hamilton Collection, whatever that is.  They are about 1/8 inch thick, and have a good heft to them.
Here is the back of the Clemente.  Don't know what the writing on the Limited Edition line is, I'm guessing #60051.  Seems like a lot of work to manually write in 60000+ serial numbers though.  And it looks more like C0051 to me.  What do you think?
Looking at these on COMC, it looks like I was right, it is a C.  I see some out there starting with C, some with B, and others with nothing written there at all.  A Mystery to me.

And the other ceramic I got is the Brooks Robinson!
These don't seem to be worth much, but they are an awesome addition to my collection!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Henry Aaron

Wow.  Just wow.  I know everyone has lost someone, a hero from MLB, in the last year or so.  I felt for people who I knew had strong connections to some of those players.  Dodgers fans lost Tommy LaSorda and Don Sutton.  Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver were big ones for a lot of us.  Joe Morgan, Whitey Ford, Lou Brock, Al Kaline, Phil Niekro and Dick Allen affected a lot of people.  There were many, many more.  Here is a list of MLB players who died in 2020.  I don't even know some of them, but a lot of them trigger memories:

Dick Allen, Johnny Antonelli, Derek Aucoin, Ramon Aviles, Rick Baldwin, Kim Batiste, Glenn Beckert, Julio Becquer, Jim Bolger, Frank Bolling, Lou Brock, Oscar Brown, Tyson Brummett, Foster Castleman, Horace Clarke, Gil Coan, Ramon Conde, Ted Cox, Ray Daviault, Billy DeMars, Jim Derrington, Adrian Devine, Paul Doyle, Hal Dues, Angel Echevarria, Narciso Elvira, Ed Farmer, Chico Fernandez, Tony Fernandez, Ed Fitz Gerald, Whitey Ford, Damaso Garcia, Bob Gibson, Bill Gilbreth, Larry Gowell, Dave Gray, Rich Hacker, Charlie Haeger, Jay Hankins, Carroll Hardy, Billy Harris, Don Hasenmayer, Remy Hermoso, Jim Hicks, Dick Hyde, Ray Jarvis, Bart Johnson, Ben Johnson, Lou Johnson, Jay Johnstone, Howie Judson, Al Kaline, Eddie Kasko, Matt Keough, Dick Koecher, Keith Lampard, Don Larsen, Bob Lee, Phil Linz, Bobby Locke, Jim Manning, Hank Mason, John Matias, Mike McCormick, Lindy McDaniel, Jack McMahan, Denis Menke, Bob Miller, John Miller, Roger Moret, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Bob Oliver, Bill Oster, Jim Owens, Johnny Paredes, Jarrod Patterson, Don Pavletich, Ron Perranoski, Paul Pettit, Dan Pfister, Biff Pocoroba, Jay Porter, Bobby Prescott, Hal Raether, Ken Retzer, Les Rohr, Jorge Rubio, Mike Ryan, Tommy Sandt, Dick Scott, Tom Seaver, Bob Sebra, Hal Smith, Bill Spanswick, Ed Sprague, George Spriggs, Bob Stephenson, Tony Taylor, Bert Thiel, Arnold Umbach, Dan Walters, Claudell Washington, Bob Watson, Ray Webster, Fred Wenz, Wally Wolf, Hank Workman, Jimmy Wynn, George Yankowski, Tom Yewcic

Rest in peace, all of you.

But now Hank Aaron has died.  I don't know how to communicate how much that is affecting me.  I knew it would hit me hard when it eventually happened, but the emotions are even stronger than I expected them to be.

If it sounds like I am being a bit of a baby, that could be valid.  I never met the man. I never saw him play. I have no actual connection to him.  

But he and Willie Mays were really my gateway to baseball and its history.  And that history has been a major part of my life and interests over the years.  As a kid, I read at least 5 different Hank Aaron biographies, and countless other literature that talked about his experiences and accomplishments.  His life was very real to me. I learned about growing up from his youth.  I learned about leaving home and the struggles that I would later face.  I learned about the game of baseball.  I learned about the rivalries of the 50s.  I learned about struggles between players and managers.  I learned about perseverance.  I learned about the struggles of race, which were new to me, having been sheltered in my homogeneous little neighborhood.  I learned about strength and how to show it.  I learned about weakness and how to shore it up. I learned about hate and love.  I learned about respect.  I learned about history.

His baseball career is impressive.  He is rarely talked about as one of the top 2 or 3 players of all time.  But he isn't too far down the list.  He played 23 years and had 3771 hits, only 755 of which were home runs.  So 3016 hits that were not home runs.  Not a way that I have looked at it for a while, but impressive.  He still holds the record for RBI with 2297 and total bases with 6856.  That total bases one is underappreciated.  Aaron is first by 722 total bases over second place Stan Musial.  The only active player within 1000 of him is Albert Pujols.  The only other active player within 2000 of him is Miguel Cabrera.  An incredible career.

Many of you probably know this story, but it is one of my favorites from Aarons biographies.  It humanizes him, and as a child, made an icon seem like someone who I could understand and emulate.  I wish I could find the book, so I could put the story in his words, but I can't, so I will do my best.  As a kid, and into his teens, Aaron's family was very poor, and to help out with money, he took a job delivering ice around town.  When he got to each stop, he would uncover the large blocks of ice on the back of the card and use ice tongs to pick one up with each hand and walk them over for delivery.  The ice tongs were like the picture below, and most delivery boys used both hands, taking one block at a time.  

Aaron used one hand per block.  He later credited this with helping to strengthen his wrists.  And according to Hank, strong wrists were the key to both his power and longevity.  

I loved the story.  There were many times in my childhood, when I was trying to improve my low level athletic skills, that I tried to use daily chores to improve my strength because of this story.  And just the concrete idea that a strong work ethic would benefit you all your life was an excellent lesson.

Home run king.  I still think of him that way.  I don't harbor ill will to Barry Bonds passing him with the help of performance enhancers.  When the recent announcement was made that MLB would be considering the Negro Leagues as Major Leagues, and that might affect statistics and records, I immediately thought of Henry.  You see, most don't remember, but he played a short time in the Negro Leagues for the Indianapolis Clowns.  But it was short lived, as he was scooped up by the Braves.  According the the sources I found, he hit 5 home runs in 26 games in the Negro Leagues.  That would bring his total to 760, still 2 short of Bonds.  Would have been nice, but in the end, it doesn't make any real difference to me. 

Another interesting thing is that when Aaron was being recruited by the Braves, he also received an offer from the Giants.  The Braves offered $100 per month more, so he went that direction.  But imagine what could have been if he had gone with the Giants.  Willie Mays in center field and Hank Aaron in left.   

I greatly wish I had more Hank Aaron cards.  In fact, my all time top white whale would be his rookie card.  But I am afraid that will never happen.  Here are the Hank Aaron cards in my collection:

So I guess you've figured out the Aaron meant a lot to me.  He still does! My favorite baseball player of all time.

An icon of strength, consistency and respectability.  Henry Louis Aaron.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Sutton redux

Yet another gone.  I'm not breaking any news when I tell you that Don Sutton passed away.  And I am not the best one to write a post telling you what he meant to me.  So instead, I am reposting a guest post from gcrl about his affections for Don Sutton.  Please enjoy...

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.


Rest in Peace Mr Sutton.