Thursday, November 30, 2017

Unopened in My Collection: 1990 Topps Traded Wax Packs

I have a number of unopened wax packs in my collection; one or two items are a full box, but usually not.  I know sometimes I would buy a box, get bored with the set while opening the box, and decide to keep the rest unopened.  Other times I think I might have bought a handful of packs specifically for my unopened pack collection.  For 1990 Topps Traded, though, it looks like I bought a few packs, opened about half, and put the rest away.
A stack of unopened 1990 Topps Traded wax packs.
I have nine unopened 1990 Topps Traded wax packs, each containing seven cards.  When I first saw these, I really liked the idea of putting Traded into wax packs instead of the only option being to buy the whole set.  But then, maybe it wasn't such a good idea.  Most of the players in the Traded set aren't that interesting, probably.  I liked buying Traded and Update sets for completeness, but opening packs implies two things -- you need to open many packs to get a set, and you get a lot of doubles.

I just looked through both the Traded cards in my plastic storage boxes, and also at my 1990 Topps.  It turns out that I had a bunch of 1990 Topps Traded mixed in with my 1990 Topps, because they're really quite similar.  Now that they're separated out, I found a total of 43 cards of the 1990 Topps Traded set -- suggesting I opened 6 packs of 7 cards each, and maybe 1 pack had an extra card, or maybe I picked up a single card somewhere else over the years.  I also have the complete factory set of 1990 Topps Traded.

Looking on eBay, I see that Topps tried Traded wax packs in 1985, then there were these in 1990, and they did it again in 1991.  I can see why they tried, but in the end, I think the Traded sets aren't interesting enough to want to go through packs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Some gifts for my friend the Mets fan

A good friend at work grew up in Queens in the 70s and 80s.  He was a Mets fan, and I thought I would give him a couple of odd cards that I had doubles of.
Cracker Jack Dwight Gooden.
Cracker Jack Dwight Gooden back.
To start, I have a bunch of Cracker Jack cards.  These are 1991 Topps Micro cards, more or less, but they have a specific Cracker Jack back.  We bought Cracker Jacks at BJ's, the local warehouse club, a few times in the 80s, and I got the cards (Costco didn't come to us in the Delaware/Pennsylvania region until much later).  In getting my collection together when we moved, I came across some unopened Cracker Jack cards -- although they were only wrapped in paper you could see through, and some of the paper wrappers were coming apart, so they were only sort of unopened.  I gave my friend an unopened Gooden.  We talked about whether he should open it, and both decided independently that he should, and then he did.
1988 Drake's Darryl Strawberry.
1988 Drake's Darryl Strawberry back.
Next, I decided to give him a Drake's Darryl Strawberry card.  I had three of these in my main binder, and I can't be sure, but I think I paid 10 cents each for them.  I think I got them at the consignment shop I mentioned a few times previously (such as in my 1972 Topps Frank Robinson Traded post and in my 1969 Nabisco Team Flakes post).  I decided that I didn't need three of these, so my friend got one.  It's also good because he appreciates Drake's Cakes, which I think of as a New York thing.  Seinfeld had an episode featuring Drake's Coffee Cake, but the back of the card is pushing Fruit Pies and Donut Delites.

1977 Topps Cloth Sticker Dave Kingman.
Dave Kingman back.
Most recently, I ordered this 1977 Topps Cloth Sticker Dave Kingman for him, for about $2.  I don't think I was ever aware of cloth stickers as a phenomenon, or of Topps having made any.  I only found out about them a couple of months ago when I joined the internet-age collecting world.  I asked my friend, who is a few years older than me, and he said that he did indeed have some cloth stickers when he was in school, maybe stuck to his binders or something.  He was interested to receive this, then, and proceeded to check it out by sticking it to something.  It didn't feel very tacky, but it did stick very well.  A few threads at the edge came off right away.  Having seen one now, I still really don't remember cloth stickers at all, and I don't mean just the Topps ones.  Maybe I'm just too young -- if these were a thing kids were into in the 70s, since I was born in 1975, maybe their day had passed by the time I started remembering things.  I am going to order another for him, so that he can keep one intact, and I'm going to get one for me, too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

1986 Sportflics in My Collection

I have exactly 4 cards from the 1986 Sportflics set; here they are!  I have a handful of 1987 Sportflics, maybe about 10 or so, and  I have many, many 1988 Sportflics, including the factory set and a bunch more.  Then I didn't have any 1989 Sportflics at all -- none -- until I picked up a couple recently (John Candelaria, George Brett, and Rickey Henderson) for my expanding player collections.  I must have bought a box of 1990 Sportflics back in the day, because I have a bunch opened and a bunch unopened.

Anyway, back to my exactly 4 1986 Sportflics, featuring a total of 6 players.  To start, we have two stars of the Mets, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter.
Gary Carter.
Keith Hernandez.
These two cards make some sense as two to have if you only have a few cards from a 1986 set.  The Mets were terrible, but great.
Charlie Leibrandt.
Then I have this Charlie Leibrandt.  The Royals won the 1985 World Series, with Leibrandt going 0-1 in the World Series and 1-2 in the ALCS.  While he had mixed results in the postseason, he had a good regular season in 1985, going 17-9 with a 2.69 ERA, finishing 5th in the AL Cy Young voting.
Tri-Stars, picturing Steve Carlton.
Steve Carlton, Rick Sutcliffe, and Tom Seaver card back.
My fourth and final 1986 Sporflics card is this Tri-Stars card, featuring "three players with similar outstanding performances," Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Carlton, and Tom Seaver.  They all won the Cy Young award, but they're not really all in the same league.  Carlton was the only four-time Cy Young award winner at the time that he retired.  I don't really have anything against Sutcliffe, or especially Seaver.  But Carlton, being one of the pillars of the 1980 Phillies championship team, holds a special place in my childhood memories.

Monday, November 27, 2017

From My Collection: Bill Mazeroski

I have two Topps cards of longtime Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski, known as a defensive wizard, and famous for his home run to end the 1960 World Series.
1967 Topps Bill Mazeroski.
Mazeroski eventually made the Hall of Fame, and people had been discussing his candidacy for years, asking whether defensive skill was enough to get someone into the Hall of Fame.  I think that's a canard, though -- I think it's clear that the one home run is the real reason he's in the Hall of Fame.  I love the Pirates and I love how they won the 1960 World Series.  But without that home run, there's no amount of defensive skill in the world that will get you to Cooperstown.
1971 Topps Bill Mazeroski.
Mazeroski stayed around long enough to be part of the 1971 Pirates championship team as well.  In 1971, in the regular season, he played in 70 games with 213 at bats, hitting .254. 

I also have this Hygrade All-Time Greats card of Mazeroski.
Hygrade Bill Mazeroski.
He retired after the 1972 season, ending with career offensive numbers of 853 RBI and a .260 average, with 2016 hits.
Statue outside PNC Park.
Plaque outside PNC park.
My family took a vacation this past summer which included a couple of days in Pittsburgh.  The Pirates weren't in town, but we stayed near PNC Park, and took a walk around.  There are statues of Mazeroski, Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, and Roberto Clemente.  The lighting isn't good, but you can see here that the statue of Mazeroski is of him rounding the bases after hitting that legendary home run.  The old home plate of Forbes Field is inside an academic building at University of Pittsburgh, and there is a bit of the old outfield wall outside.  Years ago, there was also a marker in the parking lot outside the building to show where the famous home run landed.  That parking lot is no more, though -- it's now a park instead.  I've looked just a little but haven't found a current marker for where the home run landed.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sets in My Collection: 1988 Topps K-Mart Memorable Moments

1988 Topps K-Mart Memorable Moments
This Sunday, we feature the 1988 Topps K-Mart Memorable Moments boxed set.  It clocks in at 33 cards, since it is a standard Topps boxed set.  The 1982 and 1987 K-Mart offerings were of a nostalgic variety, and this one is too to a certain extent, but focuses on current players at the time.  The reason I say it is still a bit nostalgic is that instead of treating memorable moments only from the past year, it digs back into all of the 80s, as the card backs make clear.
Dave Righetti.
Dave Righetti card back.
Since the 1987 Topps set was so influential to me, I of course remember the record breaker card of Righetti.  In 1986, he had 46 saves to set the record.  Of course, that has long since been surpassed, with the current mark at 62.  I have also come to see the save as a terrible statistic, one which drives how managers choose their relief pitchers -- rather than putting in the best pitcher for the game situation, managers are guided by whether it's a save situation or not.  In any case, Righetti was a good relief pitcher for a while.
Pedro Guerrero.
Pedro Guerrero card back.
Pedro Guerrero is not very well represented in my collection, probably because his best years were on the other coast, before I started paying serious attention to baseball.  This card commemorates his spectacular June, 1985, in which he set an NL record with 15 home runs that month.
Paul Molitor.
Paul Molitor card back.
They say the past is another country.  I remember during Paul Molitor's hitting streak in 1987 we would watch the news on TV every night, waiting for the sports reporter to tell us if Molitor's streak was still going.  He was in the AL and in the midwest, so I didn't really know about him before the hitting streak.  Molitor's 39-game streak is the 7th longest all time, and is still the longest since Pete Rose's 44-game streak in 1978.  Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies came close in 2005-06, with a 38-game streak.
Fernando Valenzuela.
Fernando Valenzuela card back.
Fernando Valenzuela surely had many memorable moments in the 80s.  This card recalls a streak of 41.1 consecutive innings at the beginning of the season without allowing an earned run, in 1985.
Mike Schmidt.
Mike Schmidt card back.
I'll close this post out with this card of Mike Schmidt in a batting stance.  Like Valenzuela, I'm sure Schmidt had many memorable moments in the 80s that Topps and K-Mart could have picked.  They chose to write about becoming the all-time HR leader for third basemen in 1987, surpassing Eddie Matthews.

I've done posts on about 15 of these 1980s boxed sets (it depends what you count as being one of these sets).  I am starting to run out -- I think I have 6 left (again, depending what sets you count).  When I run out, I'll need to find something else to write about on Sundays.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Oversized in My Collection: 1985 Donruss All-Stars

A few weeks ago, I started my Saturday series on oversized cards with the 1984 Donruss All-Stars.  Today I will continue with the 1985 Donruss All-Stars; just as with the 1984 set, I have exactly 5 of them from 1985, and I'll show them all here.
Tony Gwynn.
I love the design of these.  They eliminated the red stripes at the bottom of the 1985 Donruss cards in favor of a grid design.  It couldn't be more 80s.  The geometric design reminds me of Max Headroom, Tron, and the original Cherry Coke cans.

In 1984, Tony Gwynn led the NL in hits with 213 and in batting average with .354, the first time of many he led in these categories.  It was also his first of many All-Star appearances.
Jim Rice.
In 1984, Jim Rice made his 6th (out of 8) All-Star appearance.  He had 122 RBI, which was second in the majors behind teammate Tony Armas, who had 123.
Nolan Ryan.
Nolan Ryan was not an All-Star in 1984, but had 6 All-Star appearances prior to 1984, and 2 after.  In 1984, Ryan went 12-11 with a 3.04 ERA.  I think I had a Slurpee cup of Nolan Ryan in the 80s (looking on eBay, there are some such things from 1982).  I didn't know who he was at the time, but when I looked him up, I don't think I was very impressed.  That was on the basis of things like these numbers -- a 12-11 record doesn't sound that impressive.  But later I found out about the strikeout record, for which he was in competition with Steve Carlton, and all his no-hitters, and his ridiculous longevity in the majors.
Rich "Goose" Gossage.
I have a bunch of Gossage cards, including two 1981 Topps Supers I posted earlier.  I don't have much to say about Gossage, except that it's odd to me that he, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter are in the Hall of Fame but Lee Smith isn't.
Ron Kittle.
Ron Kittle was, apparently, the 1983 AL Rookie of the Year, and an All-Star in 1983.  He never made the All-Star team again.  He never topped 100 RBI again (he had exactly 100 in 1983).  His career ended after the 1991 season, with a total of 176 HR, 460 RBI, and 648 hits.

Friday, November 24, 2017

1991 and 1992 Cracker Jack Cards in My Collection

Cracker Jack toy surprise package, containing a baseball card!
The other day, I posted a Cracker Jack Dwight Gooden card, which was a version of the 1991 Topps Micro cards with a Cracker Jack back.  Today I'm showing more of my 1991 and 1992 Cracker Jack cards, some of which are still in their packages, like the one pictured above.
Back of a Cracker Jack toy surprise package, showing a Benny Santiago card.
The unopened cards I have  don't hold much mystery, as you can see here with this Benny Santiago card.  For all of the unopened packs I have, you can see clearly which card is inside.
Back of a Cracker Jack toy surprise package, showing a Sandy Alomar card.
In 1992, Cracker Jack switched to Donruss cards.  You can still clearly see through the package, in this case to see that the card is of Sandy Alomar.
Ken Griffey, Jr. and Bo Jackson.
The 1990 Topps set is perhaps my least favorite design of all the sets I can think of.  After that, with the gaudy, multi-colored borders, I found the 1991 Topps design to be refreshing.  I liked the 40th anniversary logo in the corner, and the cleaner border than the previous year.
Wes Chamberlain and Chuck Knoblauch.
I think 1992 Donruss is a nice design, too.  The 1990 and 1991 Donruss are pretty forgettable, I think.  To the extent that I'm fond of 1988 and 1989 Donruss, it's really just nostalgia for my childhood, not because they're well-designed cards.  But the bright, light blue on the top and bottom is nice here, I think.
Kirby Puckett.
Kirby Puckett card back.
While the fronts look just like the regular-sized card, there's no way that the regular amount of information would fit on the card backs.  The stats are cut down to just one line plus career totals, and the number of different statistics shown is also fewer.
Ryne Sandberg.
Ryne Sandberg card back (scanned crooked).
The same goes for the Donruss card backs -- there's one year of stats with career totals, for a smaller-than-usual assortment of statistics.  Like with the Topps, the Donruss cards include a Cracker Jack logo on the back.
Will Clark.
Unfortunately, not all of mine arrived in pristine shape.  As you can see in this Will Clark card, a few of my 1991 Topps Cracker Jack cards have some crimping on one edge; I guess it's a production defect.  I don't know if this was common among Topps micro cards, but I got a few like this.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Eddie Mathews in My Collection

In the late 80s and early 90s, my budget was limited and card prices were high.  I've said before what my strategies for getting older Hall-of-Famers into my collection were: some must have been less popular and were cheap (like Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and Don Sutton), I could buy cards in poor condition (like my 1969 Harmon Killebrew which I'll post sometime), or I could get the players at the end of their careers, perhaps after they left their original team.  An example of this last strategy showed up in my cards of Robin Roberts with the Yankees and Orioles.  Here we have another instance of it, Eddie Mathews with the Astros.
1967 Topps Eddie Mathews.
That looks to me to be a Braves uniform he's wearing.  He was traded to the Astros before the 1967 season started, and then in August, 1967 he was traded to the Tigers.  He played with the Tigers the rest of 1967 and 1968.  In his time with the Astros and Tigers, for 1967 and 1968 combined, he played 168 games and hit 19 home runs with 65 RBI.  He hit his 500th home run while with the Astros, off Juan Marichal.
Baseball Immortals card of Eddie Mathews.
Superstar card of Eddie Mathews.
Otherwise, all I have of Mathews is these nostalgia cards, Baseball Immortals and Superstar.  I posted the story of how I acquired the two sets before -- I got a prize for a cub scout fundraiser, which Dad did all the work for.

Mathews was the best home run hitter for the Braves until/other than Hank Aaron (he hit 47 home runs in 1953, the year before Aaron joined the team).  Aaron and Mathews together led the Braves offense when winning the 1957 World Series.  He was also probably the best third baseman of all time before Brooks Robinson, George Brett, and Mike Schmidt (an ESPN article ranking third basemen still ranks him third all-time, only behind Brett and Schmidt).  He may be a bit overshadowed these days.
Eddie Mathews on Baseball's Greatest Teams.
Baseball's Greatest Teams card back.
I have about 5-10 of these "Baseball's Greatest Teams" cards, and Eddie Mathews is on one of them.  I really wonder where I got some of these things -- I don't think I would have bought this on purpose.  I know the first card shop I went to, Stale Gum, would have "grab bags" that you could get for $1, that had a random assortment of things in them, with some good cards (I think I got a 1974 Carlton Fisk from one).  But Stale Gum closed, and I frequented other card shops after that, so that can't explain all the things like this I have.  I don't think other shops had the same kind of grab bag, and I don't know that I would have kept buying it after I got more serious about my collection.  Was there something like a grab bag you might get for attending card shows?  I think I did buy the occasional repack (a box of 100 cards for a couple of dollars, or something like that), but I don't know if that could be the source of a bunch of cards from the same set -- I feel like the repacks were more random than that.  Some things are lost to time, I guess.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Some Cards from the Conlon Collection (Part 1 of 2)

I was excited to when The Sporting News released a set of cards based on the Conlon Collection, starting in 1991.  I hadn't heard of Conlon, but the idea of classic photos being turned into cards sounded good to me.  I bought a few packs and was disappointed, unfortunately.  I hadn't heard of many of the players, and there were hundreds of cards (330 in the first series).  It was going to be too difficult to collect the whole set, with too little payoff since I didn't have many players of interest to look out for while collecting.  I am glad I have a few dozen of the cards, though, and I'll show a handful of them here, and a few more in a future post.
Jimmy Wilson (I suspect it is supposed to say Jimmie Wilson).
Jimmie Wilson was a catcher with the Phillies 1923-1928 and 1934-1938, playing with the Cardinals inbetween these two stints, and with the Reds for 1939-1940.  He was a two-time All-Star, including being the NL starting catcher in the first All-Star game in 1933.  He won the World Series twice, once with the Cardinals and once with the Reds (it couldn't have been with the Phillies, since it took the Phils until 1980 to win their first World Series!), and was manager of the Phils and Cubs for a while.
Burleigh Grimes.
Burleigh Grimes.
Here we have two cards of Burleigh Grimes.  The second commemorates his election to the Hall of Fame in 1964, and shows him with the Pirates in 1928.  The first shows him with Brooklyn; for some reason I think of him as a Cub, and he did indeed play with the Cubs.  But Brooklyn is really who he played with the most; other than Brooklyn, he only spent a couple of years with any one team.  The card on the right tells the story of his spitball, that "the foreign substance" resulted from him chewing a particular kind of tree bark.
Specs Toporcer.
Bill Deitrich.
Here we have two similar-looking fellows, Specs Toporcer and Bill Deitrich.  The "great story" on the Specs Toporcer card is that he worked at a saloon as a kid, reading game scores off a tape and writing them on a board, for 50 cents a week and some food.  Toporcer played eight years in the majors, 1921-1928, all with the Cardinals.  Dietrich pitched in the majors 1933-1948, achieving a career record of 108-128, pitching a no-hitter in 1937.
Home Run Baker.
Jim Bottomley.
Jim Bottomley won the 1928 NL MVP award.  It's not the same award exactly as the modern MVP award, which started in 1931.  Bottomley made the Hall of Fame in 1974.  This is a great photo on his card -- if you're going to take a photo of a fake swing, you might as well look like a goofball doing it.  The card on the left here is Home Run Baker of the Philadelphia A's.  The Phillies make sure to acknowledge they weren't the only MLB team in Philadelphia history, and their wall of fame is the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame, including a number of A's, including Baker.
Johnny Burnett.
Johnny Vander Meer.
Johnny Burnett played 1927-1935, for the Indians and the Browns.  He was a career .284 hitter, and as the card notes, he is famous for making 9 hits in an 18-inning game.  The record still stands -- no one else has even had eight, to this day.  The record for hits in a 9-inning game is 7, by Wilbert Robinson and Rennie Stennett.  Johnny Vander Meer is commemorated here for pitching a no-hitter in 1938, for the Reds against the Braves.  It was the first of two consective no-hitters.  Vander Meer pitched in the majors 1937-1951, finishing with a record of 119-121.