Monday, May 28, 2018

Bob Gibson in My Collection

It's been almost three weeks since I've posted.  I did say a while ago that, being slammed at work until mid-July, I'd have trouble posting until then.  It's more true than I thought it would be, and hence the long absence.  Anyway, with the long Memorial Day weekend, I do have a bit of time, and thought I would finish up this long-planned post on Bob Gibson.
1969 Topps Bob Gibson.
1972 Topps Bob Gibson.
This beat-up 1969 Bob Gibson card has long had a place of pride in my binder.  I feel certain that I bought this at Stale Gum in Newark, DE in the 80s.  Stale Gum was a card shop on Main Street in the 80s, and it closed around the time that about a dozen other shops opened.  So, going to Stale Gum was a feature of my early collecting days, and I remember getting some of my first-ever pre-1978 cards there, like my 1974 Carlton Fisk and Billy Williams cards, and this Bob Gibson.   The 1972 Gibson is a recent addition to my collection, as part of my project to assemble a 1972 Topps set.  (Current status on the 1972 set: just over 300 cards, for just over 38% of the total.)
1973 Topps Bob Gibson.
1974 Topps Bob Gibson.
The 1969 card is special to me for more than just my memories of going to Stale Gum, but also for baseball reasons: it reflects his monster 1968 year with his 1.12 ERA.  They say that the three best pitchers of the 60s are Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, and Juan Marichal.  A natural strategy for me to get Gibson into my collection, when I was a kid in the late 80s/early 90s, was to go for cards in bad condition like the 1969, and for cards at the end of his career.  Being a great pitcher of the 60s, these  1973 and 1974 cards are some of his last, and I've always been happy to have them since I like both designs so much.
1975 Topps Bob Gibson.
Pacific Legends Bob Gibson.
I also got his 1975 card back in the day.  The 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1975 made my Bob Gibson collection deeper than what I had for most other 1960s Hall-of-Famers.  I also pulled this Pacific Legends card of him from a wax pack.  I guess I have a couple of other nostalgia cards of him, like from the K-Mart sets, but as far as things like that go, I think I like the Pacific cards best.

Thanks for reading!  Like I said, through mid-July, posting will be spotty, but I'll do what I can here and there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #14: Gary Pettis

In our look through the whole 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set, we're now in Detroit with Gary Pettis.  The cards are in order by team, starting with the AL, and we've already done Baltimore, Boston, California, Chicago (AL), and Cleveland.  Pettis is the only Detroit card, so the next post will take us to Kansas City.
#14, Gary Pettis.
I'm sorry to say that I don't really remember Gary Pettis.  The name is familiar to me, but upon looking up his major league record, none of the details are familiar to me.  He debuted in 1982 with the Angels, playing in 10 games, and similarly was in 22 games in 1983.  He started playing regularly, still with the Angels, in 1984.  He remained there through the 1987 season, then was traded to the Tigers for pitcher Dan Petry.  From 1990 through 1992, he went to the Rangers, the Padres, and back to the Tigers.  The two main highlights of Pettis' career are his 5 Gold Gloves, as he was a great defensive center fielder, and his record as a base stealer, with 354 career steals.
Card back.
Pettis made his way into the league leaders set with his speed, which was his trademark, as discussed above.  He tied for fourth in the AL in steals in 1989, with 43.  The card back also notes that he placed ninth in walks with 84.

Up next is pitcher Tom Gordon of the Royals.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Recent Acquisition: 1990 Score Rookie & Traded Set

I've had the 1988, 1989, and 1990 Score sets and the 1988, 1989, and 1991 Score Rookie & Traded sets in my collection for many years, more or less since they were released (I got the 1989 base set around 1991 or 1992 or so, but otherwise picked them up when they were brand new).  There's an odd mismatch there, though -- while I have both for 1988 and 1989, somehow I missed the 1990 update set, and I never went for the 1991 base set.  I've decided to fill in the gap, especially since these junk-era sets don't cost anything.  I picked up the 1991 update set for about $5 shipped from eBay a few days ago.

I bought this still factory sealed, and part of me wanted to keep it that way.  The set has existed for close to 30 years without anyone unwrapping it, and in a way it's a shame to disturb it.  But, especially since the set isn't really worth anything, I decided to go ahead and unwrap it, and enjoy the cards themselves.  Of the 110 cards in the set, I picked out 10 to feature below.
Matt Nokes.
Eric Lindros?!
Matt Nokes had a lot of promise around 1988, but his rookie year with the Tigers was his best of his career.  After just a couple of years, he was off to the Yankees.  I was rather surprised to see this Eric Lindros card with the Blue Jays.  I remember it being a huge deal when Lindros joined the Flyers, and didn't remember him being in baseball at all.  According to Wikipedia, this card exists because Score had a deal with Lindros and was promoting him; he only took batting practice with the Jays once.  I'm surprised they couldn't even manage a more flattering photo.
Dave Parker.
Dave Winfield.
Then we have two of my favorites, Dave Parker and Dave Winfield.  After winning his second World Series, Parker left the A's and went briefly to the Brewers.  He didn't stay long, and had brief stints with Toronto and California afterwards.  Winfield and Parker both debuted in 1973 (I'm glad to have both of their 1974 Topps rookie cards), but Winfield had a few more years left in him at this point.  This card marks Winfield's move from the Yankees to the Angels, and he still had Toronto, Cleveland, and Minnesota ahead of him, before retiring in 1995.
Tony Pena.
Cecil Fielder.
Tony Pena is another favorite; it's a shame the Pirates traded him, their All-Star catcher, but it did work great for the Bucs, as they gained several pieces of their 1990-1992 NL East champion teams in the deal.  Pena was with the Cards a few years before this move to Boston, and he then played with the Indians, White Sox, and Astros before retiring in 1997.

Cecil Fielder took me a bit by surprise, back in the day.  I was at my cousin's house one day, and he asked me if I had any Cecil Fielder cards.  He showed me at least one he had, I think in a screw-down case.  I hadn't even heard of Fielder.  I said I probably did -- I had bought a few wax boxes of the current year cards for a few years in a row, so I probably had a card of anyone.  I guess I hadn't been paying attention for a few weeks or something, and Fielder had returned from Japan and started hitting home runs.
Frank Thomas.
John Candelaria.
This Frank Thomas is considered a rookie card (or a rookie-year card, perhaps), and is often advertised on eBay as a reason to buy the set.  I like Thomas well enough, but he wasn't much of a factor in my time watching baseball in the 80s and 90s (playing in the AL for a team which wasn't local and which didn't make the playoffs).  John Candelaria is basically my favorite player, and he wasn't what he once was at this point, but he had some good years here and there.  This card marks his move from Minnesota to Toronto, in a sense -- he actually wasn't included in the base set, so perhaps the card actually marks his move from the Yankees to the Twins to the Blue Jays (he was shown with the Yankees in 1989 Score).  He did well with Minnesota, going 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA, but not so well with Toronto, being 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA.  He then spent two good years with the Dodgers as a solid middle reliever, before ending where he started, with the Pirates, in 1993.
Willie Randolph.
Juan Samuel.
I'll close this out with two sentimental favorites, Willie Randolph and Juan Samuel.  I'm glad to have acquired and posted Willie Randolph's 1976 Topps Traded card, which again, is a rookie-year card.  Randolph was traded from the Dodgers to the A's in May of 1990, bolstering the A's lineup as they sought to repeat as champions.  He batted .375 in the ALCS and .267 in the World Series as the A's got swept by the Reds.  Juan Samuel was one of the staples of the Phillies from my youth, after the end of their 1976-1983 postseason run had ended.  Those mid-to-late 80s Phillies teams weren't great, but Samuel's play was solid, as he made two All-Star teams and won a Silver Slugger in his years in Philly.  Then he moved to the Mets and then to the Dodgers, and then a succession of other teams.  His career ended after the 1998 season with 1,578 hits and 161 home runs.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Recent Acquisitions: Dick Groat and Roger Maris MVP Cards

I've posted a few times about my collection goal of building a small PSA-graded subcollection, of about 50-60 cards total.  I have a few sub-subcollections within that group, such as early black MLB players (Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, and Sam Jethroe are already represented, with several more to come), the 500-home run club of my youth (I have Jimmie Foxx, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, and Ernie Banks in there so far), and the subject of the present post, the 1960 World Series, won by my Pirates over the Yankees.
1961 Topps Roger Maris (1960 AL MVP).
The Yankees and the Pirates in that World Series both had their respective leagues' MVPs playing, in Roger Maris and Dick Groat.  The 1961 Topps set included a subset on the AL and NL MVPs from 1950 through 1960, and I thought the Maris and Groat cards would make good (and really quite affordable at the grade of PSA 6) additions to my commemoration of that 1960 World Series.
1961 Topps Dick Groat (1960 NL MVP).
I'm fond of players who are sub-Hall of Fame, who have a few great years but weren't very seriously candidates for Cooperstown.  Groat was an 8-time All-Star, won the World Series twice, in 1960 with the Bucs and then in 1964 with the Cardinals, and in addition to being 1960 MVP, finished second in the balloting in 1963.  Maris is of course most famous for holding for many years the single-season home run record with 61 (in 162 games, of course!, and presumably also without the use of steroids!).  His accomplishments are similar to Groat's, being a two-time MVP, a three-time World Series champ, and a 7-time All-Star.  Groat had more hits and Maris had more home runs, but overall they're not that different, I would say.  Maris, being a Yankee, surely has the more devoted advocates, who would likely disagree with my assessment, I suppose.
Roger Maris card back.
Dick Groat card back.
The card backs briefly detail their 1960 stats which led to their MVP awards.  Maris was the AL RBI leader with 112, and was second in home runs with 39.  Groat was the NL batting champ with a .325 average.

I still have quite a few cards to get in my quest to commemorate the 1960 World Series in my PSA subcollection, but these plus the Whitey Ford from the World Series subset of 1961 Topps, give me a solid start.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 4, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #13: Joe Carter

Today we're back looking at the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set; so far, we've worked through the Baltimore, Boston, California, and Chicago (AL) players in the set.  That puts us in Cleveland, with card #13, a young Joe Carter.
#13, Joe Carter.
I've said this a few times on this blog, but my 8th-grade history teacher, Mr. Kennedy, talked a lot about Larry Doby.  This was the 1988-1989 school year, and the Pacific Legends cards were out.  I gave Mr. Kennedy a Larry Doby card, and he tacked it up above his chalkboard.  The folders I used for school that year were by Topps, and I used my Joe Carter folder (same design as the 1988 Topps card) for Mr. Kennedy's class.  So, that's how I first heard of both Larry Doby and Joe Carter.  My teams back then were the Phillies and Pirates, and so I never followed Carter too closely.  But then in 1993, the Phillies actually made the World Series with a strategy of relying heavily on their hitting.  Joe Carter ended the World Series with a walkoff home run (we didn't call it that back then, but still) off Mitch Williams, turning Williams into a villain in Philly (kind of the anti-Tug McGraw).
Card back.
He was quite the slugger in his prime, and he made his way into this league leaders set by finishing second in the AL in home runs with 35, and tying for fourth in RBI with 105.  He also tied for first in games played (all 162) and at-bats, and placed ninth in slugging.

Thanks for reading!  That's it for Cleveland, and next up is Gary Pettis, of Detroit.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Some Gorman Thomas Cards

When I was a kid, one thing I remember reading was a list (I think it was in a book) of each team's all-time home run leader.  Some of them were obvious, like Hank Aaron for the Braves, Willie Mays for the Giants, Willie Stargell for the Pirates, and Mike Schmidt for the Phillies.  But there were two that I remember taking in interest in, that I had never heard of before: Harold Baines of the White Sox, and Gorman Thomas of the Brewers.  Harold Baines became one of my favorite players, but Thomas had retired by the time I was reading about him.  I'll add that I'm surprised that I didn't similarly take an interest in Nate Colbert of the Padres, who is to this day still their all-time home run leader.
1974 Topps Gorman Thomas.
For most of my posts, I title them either as "From My Collection" or "Recent Acquisitions," and I don't usually mix the two.  This post is an exception, but only the final card I'm showing has been in my collection since my original period of collecting (1987-1994).  The first four cards you'll see are recent acquisitions.  We start with Thomas' 1974 Topps card, his rookie card.  Thomas played 60 games with the Brewers in 1973, batting .187 in 172 plate appearances.
1975 Topps Mini Gorman Thomas.
This is Thomas' 1975 Topps mini, my first 1975 mini.  Information was harder to come by in the 80s, and I don't recall ever knowing about the 1975 Topps mini set.  I feel like if I knew about it, I would have wanted to get at least a couple of the cards.  When I rejoined the collecting world last summer, and learned of the existence of the 1975 minis, that was certainly my reaction -- I'd like to have a couple.  Gorman Thomas is a good choice for me for such a set, since he's a player I'm interested in and the card only costs a few cents, really.  I've ordered one more 1975 mini (it's in my COMC account), which I'll be posting after I eventually get it shipped.
1976 SSPC Gorman Thomas.
I also have no memory of knowing about the 1976 SSPC set in the 80s or 90s.  Again, I naturally wanted to pick up a few after having heard about it.  I've actually picked up several for my player collections -- Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, George Brett.  But those players aren't in my main binder, and to have one SSPC card in my main binder, I again went with Gorman Thomas.
1979 Topps Gorman Thomas.
This 1979 Topps card is from my recently acquired 1979 Topps complete set.  Thomas didn't do well his first few years with the Brewers, and was sent back to the minors for the entire 1977 season.  When he resurfaced with the big league club in 1978, he was a changed hitter.  In 1978, he hit 32 home runs, placing 5th in the AL.  In his heyday, Thomas was a high-strikeout/low-average power hitter, and so he also finished second in the AL in strikeouts with 133 in 1978.
1982 Donruss Gorman Thomas.
Thomas' position as all-time Brewers home run king has long since been eclipsed, and he's currently fifth on their list, behind Ryan Braun in first place, and then Robin Yount, Prince Fielder, and Geoff Jenkins.  Thomas took the lead based primarily on six strong seasons, 1978-1983, which including leading the AL in home runs twice, in 1979 with a career-high 45, and in 1982 with 39.  Thomas also played briefly with Cleveland, and a couple of years with the Mariners, before returning to finish his career with the Brewers in 1986.  His career total is 268 home runs.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 30, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #12: Bobby Thigpen

Resuming our series of detailing the entire 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set, today we have Chicago (AL) closer Bobby Thigpen.
#12, Bobby Thigpen.
Thigpen was a premier closer of the time, winning the 1990 AL Rolaids Relief Man award, leading the AL in saves with 57 and compiling a 4-6 record (the Rolaids award was based on both the number of saves and the win-loss record).  If you're familiar with the 1987 Topps set, you know that Dave Righetti set the major league saves record in 1986 with 46, so those 57 saves by Thigpen in 1990 set a new record, which stood for a while but was eclipsed in 2008 by Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels.  His last good season seems to be 1992, when he put up 22 saves with a 1-2 record.  He reportedly was having back problems after 1990.
Card back.
This set chronicles the players' successes in 1989, and in 1989, Thigpen placed second in the AL in saves with 34.  The card back also mentions, in smaller type because (I think) this kind of stat wouldn't get you into the set on its own, that he finished tied for fourth in games finished with 56.

Next, we move on to Cleveland, with card #13 Joe Carter.  Thanks for reading!