Monday, March 19, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #3: Wade Boggs

Today we feature card #3 from the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set, Hall-of-Famer and frequent AL batting champ Wade Boggs, who was still with the Red Sox at the time.
Wade Boggs.
Boggs was with the Red Sox for 11 seasons, 1982-1992, before signing as a free agent with the Yankees.  In five seasons in New York, Boggs added four more All-Star appearances and two more Silver Sluggers to those he had in Boston, and won his only two Gold Gloves and his only World Series.  He then played his last two years for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Wade Boggs card back.
To get into this set, a player should have been at the top of the league in at least one category in 1989.  Boggs led the AL in doubles and on-base percentage, tied for first in runs, tied for second in hits,  placed third in batting average, and third in walks.  While he did still have several good years ahead of him at this point, he actually didn't lead the league again in any significant category after 1989.

Up next (on Wednesday): Roger Clemens, also of the Red Sox.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Recent Acquisitions: Candelaria and McCutchen Autographs

I'm from before the time when card companies got the cards autographed for you.  I was perhaps still collecting when Upper Deck did "find the Reggie," which I guess started the autographs-in-packs phenomenon, but no one really expected to get an autographed card from a pack.
2014 Leaf Memories Buy Back Autograph 1987 John Candelaria.
So, now that I'm collecting again, I thought I'd take advantage of the new reality to get an autograph of an old favorite.  There are a handful of Candelaria autographs available on eBay or COMC, and I chose this 1987 Leaf/2014 Buy Back since it's actually a card from my time.  I might go after another Candelaria auto, since it would be nice to have one where he's pictured with the Pirates.
McCutchen Auto.
Card back.
I posted about this other one once before, when Andrew McCutchen was traded.  It's a 2014 Panini Classics Significant Signatures Materials Silver card.  When I showed it before, I used a COMC image of another card because I had bought but hadn't received mine yet.  I'm not into modern cards -- this makes just 20 cards that I own from post-1994, and one buyback -- but I'm glad to have this one card to commemorate McCutchen's time with the Bucs.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blog Bat-Around: My Current Projects

This is my first Blog Bat-Around.  What am I working on?  Here's a look at most of my current collecting projects.
    1972 Topps Bob Gibson.
  1. Collecting a 1972 Topps Set.
  2. I've posted about this a few times now. I have never, thus far, collected a vintage set, but I always wanted to. This past October, I started on the 1972 Topps set. This is partially in honor of the 1971 Pirates championship team. I already had a handful of the Pirates (including Clemente and Stargell) and a couple of the World Series subset cards, plus a few more players. I am currently at about 33% complete.
    1959 Topps Curt Flood.
  3. Collecting a 1959 Topps Set.
  4. This project is in its infancy. When I got my collection out of storage this past summer, where it had been since 1994, I had exactly one 1959 Topps card: a young Harmon Killebrew. I then decided I wanted a good card of Curt Flood, and chose his 1959 card. Next, I thought of 1959 when adding another pair of Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn cards. I decided that I kept choosing 1959 for these things because I really like the set and would like to have the whole thing. So, my current goal is to pick up three 1959 Topps cards per month, until the 1972 set is complete, and then really work on the 1959. I've added a few more in addition to those I just listed, but I'm still at about 1.5% or so of the complete set right now.
    My recently purchased complete 1979 Topps set.
  5. Purchasing some complete sets.
  6. I don't think that I need to personally assemble all the complete sets I get.  As a teenager, I got a Christmas gift one year of a 1981 Fleer set, and another year of a 1984 Topps set.  I've written several times recently about my recent purchase of a 1979 Topps set. I plan to buy a handful more: 1978 Topps are the oldest cards I saw before I started going to card shops; a neighbor across the street was a year older than my brother, so he had some from 1978. The oldest we had in my house were from 1979. So, I'll look to get a 1978 set to go with my 1979. Then, 1981 Topps made a big impression on me, too; I love the design with the caps. I actually think that reading the team names off those caps is how I started to learn to read. While I started seriously collecting in 1987, and have several thousand 1987 cards, my collection is spottier before that. I'd like to fill the gap a bit with a 1986 Fleer set. I'm also considering adding 1986 Sportflics to my list, and I may add a couple of Score sets that I'm missing, too. I expect I'll get these complete sets from my list this year, just getting one at a time here and there off eBay, with 1978 Topps being next on my list.
    1940 Play Ball Jimmie Foxx.
  7. A small PSA-graded collection.
  8. When I was collecting 1987-1994, there was no card grading that I was aware of. For many of the oldest cards I've been buying, I like the idea that someone has authenticated the cards, so there's less risk of getting a counterfeit of something valuable. I bought a storage box from PSA that they say holds about 60 graded cards. So my goal is to get 60 graded cards, either by buying them already graded (with a goal of PSA 7 for most of them), or by sending a few cards that I already had in to be graded. I think of the cards in this sub-collection as representing who I am as a collector in one box. So far, I have 22 PSA-graded cards, and I have two set aside that I plan to send in for grading.
    Recently acquired 1981 Topps Fernando Valenzuela.
  9. Filling in the front of my main binder.
  10. When I started seriously collecting in 1987, I was 11 years old, and there were other kids in my neighborhood who started seriously collecting at the same time. We each got a binder that we put our best cards in.  The contents of that one binder are still central to my collection. When I resumed collecting this past summer, I did buy a few more binder pages, and I've been buying cards to fill them in. The front of the binder features my favorite Topps (flagship) cards from various years, then similar for Donruss, and then for Fleer, and a few Score, Sportflics, and Upper Deck. With the pages I added, there are about a dozen openings still in the front.  The Fernando Valenzuela rookie card above took one of the new spots.
    Recently acquired 1975 Topps Mini Gorman Thomas.
    Recently acquired oddball: 1962 Post Roberto Clemente.
  11. Filling in the back of my main binder.
  12. The back of the binder is mainly for oddballs, but also for players that I find interesting but who lack the star power of players in the front of the binder (example: Gorman Thomas is in the back). I have about 20 spots left in the back, and I'm working on filling them with cards from sets that were unrepresented in my collection previously. For example, I recently showed some 1962 Post cards, the above Gorman Thomas is my first 1975 Topps mini, I just bought some Ziploc cards I'll be showing soon, and I have some Rawlings/Yoo-Hoo cards in my COMC account.
    1983 Milton Bradley Mike Schmidt.
  13. Some small player collections.  The collectors I knew in the 80s/90s didn't organize their cards by player collections.  Purchasing cards on the internet makes it much easier to pursue a lot of different cards of one player than it was in the 80s.  So, I decided to put together small player collections for some of my favorites: Willie Stargell, Mike Schmidt, John Candelaria, Tony Pena, Lee May, Rickey Henderson, Eddie Murray, George Brett, Dave Parker, Manny Sanguillen, Harold Baines, and George Foster.  I'm not trying to get every card of any of these, or a certain number of cards, or anything.  I'm satisfied that my Candelaria, Pena, and May collections are big enough at present, for example, and for the rest I just want a few more cards to fill out my pages at this point.  
So, that's what I'm doing, more or less.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 16, 2018

1990 Donruss Best of the NL: Astros Team Set

This is our fourth team set from the 1990 Donruss Best of the National League set; we've already looked at the Pirates, Dodgers, and Padres.  I'm not traversing the map in any particular order, and have chosen the Astros for this week.
Craig Biggio.
Ken Caminiti.
We start off with Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio.  Catchers take great pictures for baseball cards, and this is no exception.  By 1989, Biggio was the Astros' starting catcher, and batted .257 with 60 RBI, winning a Silver Slugger.  It was just the start of a long and productive career.  Ken Caminiti was another young Astro, who went on to have a long career with solid numbers, and several awards, including NL MVP in 1996.  Like Biggio, 1989 was his first full season, and he had similar productivity, batting .255 with 72 RBI.
Eric Anthony.
Glenn Davis.
Eric Anthony was another rookie in 1989, but he didn't start playing everyday until 1992.  In 1989 he hit .180 in 25 games, and in 1990 he hit .192 in 84 games.  In 1992, he hit over .200 for the first time, with .239.  Glenn Davis was a big star back then, a power-hitting first baseman.  In 1989 he hit a career-high 34 home runs, and then in 1990, his last year with the Astros, his slugging declined, hitting 22 home runs.  He played with Baltimore for a few years after that.
Jim Deshaies.
Dave Smith.
I'll always remember Jim Deshaies for his 1987 Topps Record Breaker card, since that set really got me into baseball cards.  In 1989 he went 15-10 with a 2.91 ERA, and that was his last winning season in his career.  In 1990 he went 7-12 with a 3.78 ERA.  He stayed in the majors until 1995, playing with the Padres, Twins, Giants, and Phillies after leaving Houston.  Dave Smith was a long-time Astros relief pitcher, having taken part in their losing postseason efforts in 1980, 1981, and 1986.  He made his second and final All-Star appearance in 1990.
Rafael Ramirez.
Franklin Stubbs.
Rafael Ramirez played for the Braves and Astros from 1980-1992.  He hit .261 in 132 games, mainly as the starting shortstop, in 1990, and after that his playing time declined for his final two seasons.  Franklin Stubbs only spent the one year, 1990, with the Astros, splitting his time between first base and the outfield as he hit .261 in 146 games.
Mike Scott.
Danny Darwin.
Mike Scott was a big deal for a few years, including winning the 1986 NL Cy Young award.  He was accused, at least by the 1986 Mets, of doctoring the ball.  He denied it at the time, but years later admitted to cheating via scuffing.  Veteran pitcher Danny Darwin won the 1990 NL ERA title with a 2.21.  Darwin pitched 1978 through 1998 in the majors for many teams, compiling a career record of 171-182 with a 3.84 ERA and 1942 strikeouts.
Eric Yelding.
Bill Doran.
Finally, we have Eric Yelding and Bill Doran.  Yelding played with the Astros from 1989 through 1992, and then with the Cubs in 1993 before retiring.  He had 64 steals in 1990, and led the NL by being caught stealing 25 times.  Bill Doran also led the NL in being caught stealing, but in 1986 with 19, on his way to 42 successful steals.  Doran played with the Astros from 1982 through mid-1990, before being traded to the Reds for players to be named later.  He played with the Reds through 1992, and played with the Brewers in 1993 before retiring with a career .266 batting average, 1366 hits, and 497 RBI.

That's it for this week.  Thanks for reading!  Next Friday, we'll take a look at the Cubs.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Recent Acquisition: Maury Wills

I've said many times that I started seriously collecting with the 1987 Topps set.  I was finishing 6th grade that spring, and my friends and I would ride our bikes (or walk) to the local 7-Eleven and buy wax packs.  I have about 3,000 1987 Topps cards, give or take, with a large proportion of them purchased that summer.  Much about that set is burned into my memory, including all the subsets, like Turn Back the Clock.

This past summer, two things happened to get me to start collecting again.  My wife and I have moved about every three years for the past 15 years, but we finally have settled into what we think is our permanent home.  On buying this house, I reclaimed my collections from my parents' house, and put them in order.  Second, I realized that being an adult with an income, unlike in the 80s and early 90s, I could buy things I always wanted.  I immediately went after a Jackie Robinson card from his playing days, and a Mike Schmidt rookie card.  
1963 Fleer Maury Wills, graded PSA 7.
Another card I thought I'd pick up, then, was a 1962 Topps Maury Wills card, like on that 1987 Topps Turn Back the Clock card.  Now, everyone reading this surely knows the story about that 1962 Topps card not actually existing.  But it came as something of a shock to me this past summer when I looked into getting one.  Information like that wasn't readily available to a kid in 1987.  It raised the question, then, what card of Maury Wills could I get?  And 1963 Fleer is the clear answer.  So I put this on my wantlist, and just got one.  I decided to put this in the PSA-graded portion of my wantlist.  I'm getting a small selection of older cards that are protected in slabs, and my typical goal for condition is PSA 7.
Card back.
I really like the card back, too.  I like the green border, the life story, and the two columns of stats.  Perhaps the card number, 43 here, takes up too much real estate.  But it's not like there's anything that's especially missing that should go in that space.

This is both my first Maury Wills card (other than Turn Back the Clock) and my first 1963 Fleer card.  I'm happy to have them both represented in my collection.  In addition to representing 1963 Fleer, this card also is a good addition because I'm fond of the base stealers; I have an old card of Bill Bruton in my collection, and recently have picked up a few of Richie Ashburn, and one of Jackie Robinson.  I also have one old card of Pee Wee Reese, and I have some old and new of Willie Mays, and several of Lou Brock.  With this, a good card of Maury Wills in my collection, the NL base stealing champs from 1947 through 1969 are all represented in my collection now, with one exception, Sam Jethroe.  I'll work on getting a good card of Jethroe.

PS: This is my 200th post!  It's a coincidence, but it happens to be similar to my 100th post, in that's it's a post of a single vintage PSA-graded card that I just bought.  For the 100th post, it was my 1951 Bowman Richie Ashburn.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #2: Phil Bradley

We're continuing our look at the 1990 Topps Mini League Leader set.  I'll be showing the whole set, one card at a time, on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Today's card is #2, Phil Bradley, then of the Baltimore Orioles.
Phil Bradley.
Bradley played in the majors between 1983 and 1990.  I remember him mainly with the Mariners, but also briefly with the Phillies.  He was with the Mariners 1983 through 1987, then was traded to the Phillies in part for pitcher Michael Jackson and Glenn Wilson.  He played with the Phillies all of 1988, then was traded to the Orioles in part for Ken Howell.  He was with the Orioles all of 1989 and part of 1990, and was traded mid-season in 1990 to the White Sox for Ron Kittle.  He then played briefly in Japan.
Phil Bradley card back.
Bradley made his way into this 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set by hitting 10 triples in 1989, which was enough for third place in the AL.  He batted .277 on the season, with 20 stolen bases and 55 RBI.  His best season looks like it was 1985, when he hit .300, had a career-high 26 home runs and 88 RBI, stole 22 bases, and was an All-Star.

Up next (on Monday): Wade Boggs, of the Red Sox.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Whitey Ford in My Collection

I don't have many cards of the legendary 1950s Yankees teams; I've shown what I have of Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel before.  For them, I have one good card each, a 1950s Red Man card; I've discussed those a few times.  I don't have as old a card of Whitey Ford, but I do also have one "good" card of him.  I define a good card to be from his playing days, rather than things issued afterwards, like Baseball Immortals.  I do have a Baseball Immortals and two Seckeli Superstar cards of Ford, but I won't focus on those here.
1966 Topps Whitey Ford.
1966 Topps Whitey Ford card back.
This "good" card of Ford is only so good, being from the end of his career and being in somewhat rough condition.  His last season in the majors was 1967, so this 1966 Topps shows almost his whole career stats.  The record shown is 232-97, and his career record turned out to be 236-106, so his last couple of seasons he went 4-9.  Until I bought Lee May's rookie card a few months ago, this was the only 1966 Topps card in my collection.
1961 Topps World Series Game 6 card, graded PSA 7.
This 1961 card of the 1960 World Series commemorates Game 6, in which, as the card says, Ford pitched a second shutout. I recently acquired this card for the PSA-graded portion of my collection.  I have a goal of commemorating the 1960 Pirates and their victory over the Yankees with a number of PSA-graded cards: the entire World Series subset, as well as a few key Yankees and a few key Pirates.  For the whole project, this is the only card I've got so far. 

Like the card says, this was Ford's second shutout of the series.  He pitched them to a 10-0 win in Game 3, and then to a 12-0 win in Game 6.  In the seven games, the Yankee wins over the Pirates were all blowouts, and the Pirate wins over the Yankees were all close.  It's not clear that the Pirates were the better team, but they did just enough to win.
Whitey Ford autographed picture.
Dad and I attended a number of card shows where we could get autographs.  Whitey Ford was at one.  I didn't have any Whitey Ford cards, and they probably commanded a hefty premium at the show, so we bought this picture to get signed.  I can still hear my Dad saying, "Could you sign it to David, Mr. Ford?"  Dad didn't ask me about that, he just asked Whitey Ford to do it.  I think he wanted to have a reason to say something to him.