Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Broder and Other Unlicensed Cards in My Collection

In the spring of 1987, my friends in my neighborhood and I started seriously collecting baseball cards.  My family moved houses in the fall of 1988.  In the time between, baseball cards brought me together with even more people in the neighborhood, mostly kids, but also one adult (a classmate's dad) who were into baseball and cards.  With us kids being about 10-12 years old, the adult had more resources available, and thus had access to more kinds of cards.  It was from him that I first heard about Broder cards.  These unlicensed, rogue cards, had a certain appeal, and as a kid in the 80s, they were a real mystery -- information about them, let alone the cards themselves, were hard to come by.
1988 Broder Roger Clemens.
Roger Clemens card back.
When we moved away, my collecting community evaporated.  This was pre-internet, pre-social media, so there wasn't any contact with any of those people anymore.  Dad and I started going to shows, though, so although I didn't know many fellow collectors, with Dad's support, I did have access to cards and dealers.
1988 Broder Barry Bonds.
Barry Bonds card back.
My collection contains a total of three Broders, all from 1988.  I probably bought them in the ensuing years from dealers at shows, although there were many local card shops I visited back then, too.  I do remember having a conversation at a show with a dealer once, where he told me a card was a Broder, and I said, "those are unlicensed, right?," and he acted like he didn't know anything about that.
1988 Broder Jose Canseco.
Jose Canseco card back.
Looking back, it's hard for me to imagine why anyone would be excited about these.  I mean, we're not talking great production values here.  The backs say nothing really, and so little thought was put into details like printing the names on the front that Canseco's name is barely visible against the photo here.
1990 Blue Sox Sports Promotions Jerome Walton.
Jerome Walton card back.
Then, other than Broder, I have a few more unlicensed cards.  I've said many times, I don't know where I got some of these.  I think I wouldn't have bought the rest of these on purpose.  I always assumed that this Jerome Walton was a Broder card, and I thought maybe Blue Sox Sports Promotions is just a name affiliated with Broder.  But I guess not, I guess they were just another player in the unlicensed cards game.  They did make some improvements over the Broders, I guess, like putting a line of stats on the back.
Unlicensed Bo Jackson card.
Bo Jackson card back.
For all of the above, I found them in the Trading Card Database.  This Bo Jackson, though, remains a mystery.  I did find a picture of it at one website, but it just called it "Broder Type," meaning unlicensed, I guess.
1988 Pacific Cards and Comics Will Clark.
I'll wrap up this post with the front of this Will Clark card, which I showed once before, in the early days of this blog.  I found this in Trading Card Database as a Pacific Cards and Comics card.  I still don't know anything more about who they were, but I appreciate even having the name of the maker.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Recent Acquisitions: Three from 1967 Topps

I posted recently about my 1972 Topps set project.  I have another goal after I complete that, to work on a 1959 Topps set, which is probably inspired by the Baseball Cards magazine cut-outs that I cut out as a kid.  For now, I'm going to occasionally pick up a couple of 1959 cards (like the Robin Roberts I showed recently) while I focus on the 1972 set.

When I was deciding on these goals, I thought a lot about also wanting to put together a 1967 set.  Until now, I only had two 1967 Topps cards in my collection, Bill Mazeroski and Eddie Mathews.  From what I've gleaned, the 1967 set is popular and especially difficult to assemble.  I've decided not to go for the whole set, and to let 1972 and 1959 satisfy my need to collect vintage sets.  But I wanted a few cards, still, so I now have three more 1967 Topps cards.
Bob Uecker.
Bob Uecker is of course known to my generation as the dad from Mr. Belvedere, for the Major League movies, and for numerous beer commercials.  To Brewers fans I'm sure he's known as the voice of the Brewers.  To an earlier generation than mine, he is probably known for his approximately 100 Johnny Carson appearances.

But apart from all that, there are two other pieces of his work that made me want to get his baseball card.  First, his book, Catcher in the Wry, is one of my favorite things I've read about baseball.  He wasn't a star player with his .200 career batting average -- I think he calls the players like him the scrubs.  It was a different time, and hearing it from his point of view was great and hilarious.  The second thing I like is his Hall of Fame speech, when he won the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting.  If you have time, it's fun to watch.

Ok, on to some star players.
Willie Stargell.
I picked up this 1967 Stargell for my player collection.  I already had the 1965, 1968, and then all of his Topps cards starting with 1971.  I decided to fill in a few of the gaps.  I don't really like the 1966 set, so I skipped that, but I wanted the 1967, 1969, and 1970.  I haven't picked up the 1969 yet, but I did get the 1970 in addition to this one.  Another baseball book I like is Pops: The Willie Stargell Story; it isn't a complete biography, but instead focuses on his time in baseball.
1966 NL Victory Leaders.
Finally, my third 1967 Topps card pickup is this NL Victory Leaders card.  I think I understand why the "batting leader" is the leader in batting average, but I don't really get why the "pitching leader" is the leader in wins.  Sandy Koufax led the NL with 27 wins in 1966, Juan Marichal was second with 25, and Bob Gibson and Gaylord Perry were tied for third with 21. 

I love this card for so many reasons.  First, it's my first good card of Sandy Koufax.  Until now, all I had of him were things like Baseball Immortals.  Second, you could say that the three great pitchers of the 60s were Koufax, Marichal, and Gibson, and here they are all together.  Third, add in Gaylord Perry, and you have four Hall-of-Famers in one card. 

As much as I like them, I don't have big plans to get more 1967 cards, but we'll see what I come across.  Like I said, 1972 and 1959 will be my focus for some time.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Oversized in My Collection: 1987 Donruss Pop-Ups + Some Unopened '86, '87

I've spent the past several Saturdays highlighting the oversized 1986 Donruss All-Stars and Pop-Ups.  Before that, I showed all I had of the 1984, 1985, and 1987 All-Stars, which were similarly oversized.  As one final post in this vein, today I'm showing the only three Pop-Ups I have from 1987.  After 1987, Donruss kept making All-Stars and Pop-Ups, but they were no longer oversized.
Darryl Strawberry.
These 1987 Pop-Ups commemorate the starting lineup of the 1986 All-Star Game, which was held at the Astrodome in Houston.  The previous year's Pop-Ups showed a similar background, since the 1985 All-Star Game was held at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Darryl Strawberry was the starting right-fielder for the NL.  He got two at-bats, striking out off Roger Clemens in the second, and hitting a single off Teddy Higuera in the fifth.  He and Mike Schmidt were left on base.
Dale Murphy.
Dale Murphy was the starting center fielder for the NL.  He went 0-for-2 in the game.  This was his 6th of 7 career All-Star appearances.  In the 1986 season, Murphy hit 29 home runs and had 87 RBI, which was a bit off his usual pace at the time.
Wally Joyner.
For the AL, rookie Wally Joyner of the Angels started at first base.  Joyner had one of the best years of his career in his first season, 1986, with a .290 batting average, 22 home runs, and 100 RBI.  It was his only All-Star appearance.  He went 0-for-1 in the game, as the AL went on to win 3-2.
5 unopened packs of 1987 Donruss All-Stars and Pop-Ups.
In addition to the 1987 All-Stars I showed before, and these 1987 Pop-Ups, I have 5 unopened packs.  Each pack contains 1 Pop-Up and 3 of the All-Star cards.  Since I posted 9 of the All-Stars and I have 3 of the Pop-Ups, it looks like I opened 3 of the packs, so I must have bought 8 originally.  I would sometimes leave some packs unopened, to be part of my unopened pack collection.
5 unopened packs of 1986 Donruss All-Stars and Pop-Ups.
Similarly, I have 5 unopened packs from the 1986 All-Stars and Pop-Ups.  For these, I am sure I bought a whole box.  For one, I have 31 of the Pop-Ups, so with these 5 packs, that makes 36, which is probably how many were in a box.  For another, as I showed with my Cecil Cooper, I have some 1986 Donruss box bottom cut-outs.  I certainly didn't buy a box of the regular 1986 Donruss cards, so the box bottoms must have been from this.  I must have stopped opening them once I got a complete set.

I only have a couple more posts on oversized cards coming up -- a couple more Saturdays will do it.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 23, 2018

My 1972 Topps Set Project, again

I made a blog mistake yesterday, accidentally pushing the "publish" button as I was drafting my post about my project to determine how close I am to having a complete set of 1988 Topps.  This bumped down my post about my 1972 Topps set project, so I thought I'd post some more 1972 Topps cards today, some recently acquired, and some which have been in my collection for many years.

To recap, I started working towards a complete 1972 Topps set this past October.  I'm hoping to finish in 2019, although I understand the high numbers are difficult.  I'm currently at 240/787 cards, or 30.50%.  So far, so good.

Now, some more cards.
Skip Lockwood.
Don Baylor, Roric Harrison, and Johnny Oates.
Brewers pitcher Skip Lockwood is the only non-star from 1972 that I had in my collection before I started trying to collect the whole set.  The card is a little beat up and a little off-center.  That's fine.  Lockwood pitched in the majors between 1965 and 1980, including with the Kansas City A's and the Seattle Pilots.  His career record was 57-97 with 68 saves.

This Don Baylor/Orioles Rookies card has also been in my collection since circa 1990, and it would be even better if it were Don Baylor's rookie card.  But, alas, he was also featured in the 1971 set.  No problem, though, it's always good to have a Don Baylor card.  I've posted about Johnny Oates a few times, since I remember him as Orioles manager back when I was in school.  Roric Harrison pitched to a career 30-35 record for the Orioles, Braves, Indians, and Twins between 1972 and 1978.
Greg Luzinski.
Ron Reed.
Then we have these guys, Greg Luzinski and Ron Reed, two members of the 1980 World Champion Phillies.  Luzinski was a second slugger for the team, whose career numbers are 307 home runs and 1128 RBI (the main slugger, of course, being Mike Schmidt).  Pitcher Ron Reed was in the Phillies' bullpen, pitching in 55 games in the 1980 regular season, finishing 29 of them.  Reed was a two-sport guy, also playing in the NBA at the start of his MLB career.
1971 NL Victory Leaders.
Tom Seaver, In Action.
In 1971, Fergie Jenkins led the NL with 24 wins, and Steve Carlton, Al Downing, and Tom Seaver all tied for second with 20.  Carlton was frequently compared to Nolan Ryan because of all the strikeouts the two produced, but Carlton insisted that Tom Seaver was his real competition.  Downing is the only one of these four not enshrined in Cooperstown; 1971 was his best year by far.  I think that this Tom Seaver In Action card has been in my collection for these past 25 years; the pitching leaders card is new to me.
Billy Martin, In Action.
Jim Fregosi.
Then we have Billy Martin on a managerial In Action card.  I showed a selection of Martin cards once before, including his famous "middle finger" 1972 Topps card.  Jim Fregosi of course was a long-time player, but I remember him better as manager of the Phillies, winning the 1993 pennant with the Phils, and on a 1987 Topps card with the White Sox.  I've posted some Fregosi cards before, too.  This Martin and this Fregosi are both recent acquisitions, while the "middle finger" card has been in my collection for many years.

So, that's it for showing some 1972 cards, again, for now.  I'll post updates on my progress towards the set every now and then.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My 1988 Topps Project (Part 1 -- Cards 1-200)

I have about 1600 cards from the 1988 Topps set; I guess this means that I opened the equivalent of about 3 wax boxes.  That sounds about right.  I've started trying to put them in order and trying to see if I have a complete set, something I never tried before on the cards that I pulled from wax packs back in the day.  Even though I have approximately twice as many cards as would be necessary for a complete set, my hopes were quickly dashed.  I don't even have all of the first ten cards in the set, let alone all of the cards.  Instead of having a complete set, my work so far (I'm only done with cards 1-200) shows that I'm missing 24 of the first 200, while there are some of those first 200 that I have 5 or 6 each.  I'm not making a wantlist for the missing cards, because I'm not sure that I'm going to try to get them.  Instead, the cards I have from 1988 are a kind of monument to my childhood, and don't necessarily need to be completed.

I'll feature here the cards I have most of.  Winning the prize so far are Rick Rhoden and Eric Plunk -- I have six copies each of these.
Rick Rhoden.
Eric Plunk.
Rick Rhoden had been on the Pirates, but was traded in part for Doug Drabek.  As Drabek went on the be the ace of three division-winning teams and won a Cy Young, I think it worked out for the Pirates.  Rhoden went on to be a two-sport guy, having a professional golf career after baseball.  Plunk didn't hang around with the A's long enough to be part of their World Series-winning 1989 team, as he was traded (to the Yankees) in part for Rickey Henderson.  That worked out for the A's, too.

As runners-up, we have Dave Engle, Brian Dayett, Steve Lyons, Lance Parrish, Frank Tanana, and Bruce Sutter, with five copies each.
Dave Engle.
Brian Dayett.
Dave Engle was in the majors 1981-1989, with the Twins, Tigers, Expos, and Brewers.  It looks like his best season was 1983 with the Twins, batting .305 with 43 RBI; the next year, he made his only All-Star appearance.  Brian Dayett played 1983-1987 with the Yankees and Cubs, so by the time this card was issued, his time in the majors had ended.  In October 1987, his contract was purchased from the Cubs by the Nippon Ham Fighters, and he played with them until 1991.
Steve Lyons.
Lance Parrish.
Steve Lyons played in the majors from 1985-1993, with the Red Sox (on three non-consecutive occassions), White Sox, Braves, and Expos.  He had a career .252 average with 196 RBI.  Lance Parrish has appeared many times in this blog, and was a star with the Tigers who never quite fit in during his two years in Philadelphia.  He was happier after departing for the Angels, and then for the Phillies, Darren Daulton developed into a homegrown All-Star catcher.
Frank Tanana.
Bruce Sutter.
Frank Tanana had one of those solid but clearly sub-Hall-of-Fame careers, going 240-236 with 2773 strikeouts and a 3.66 ERA.  Bruce Sutter was a premier reliever, and while people argue about what the Hall of Fame standards should be for a reliever, they took him and his 300 saves.

That's it for this installment.  In due time, I'll get the next batch, cards 201-400, processed.

My 1972 Topps Set Project

I've never put together a vintage set.  I've described before how I made a slight effort at this in my original period of collecting, trying to work on a 1979 Topps set.  Before I quit collecting, I had put together about 100 cards for it, or a bit less than 15% of the whole thing.  When I resumed collecting last summer, I did have an urge to finish that set.  But I decided it's not really worth the effort, as it's much easier just to buy the whole thing since the 1979 set isn't that valuable (I ended up getting a complete set for only $75).  I still had an urge to put together a set by myself, for the first time, though.  So, this past October, I started a project to collect a complete set of 1972 Topps.  I chose 1972 both because of the iconic design, and since I was already collecting the 1972 Topps Pirates, in honor of Clemente, Stargell, and company's World Series win in 1971.

So, I started out with about a dozen or so 1972 cards of some of the stars, and have been buying some more every month.  I have a rough goal to finish within about two years of starting, let's say by the end of December, 2019.  I'll post updates on how I'm doing every now and then, along with some of the more interesting cards.  Here's where we stand today:

Status as of February 22, 2018: 240/787 cards, or 30.50%.
High numbers (cards 657-787): 15/131 cards, or 11.45%.

Now, on to a few of the cards.
Willie Mays and Willie Mays In Action.
The only good card I had of Willie Mays until now was the 1969 Nabisco Team Flakes card I showed once before.  I'm glad to have this pair now, even if they're from the end of his career.  I will try to get at least one from the first half of his career at some point.
Tommy Davis.
Tommy Davis In Action.
As you can see, I bought several pairs of regular and in-action cards.  Here we have Tommy Davis of the A's, who played in the majors with many teams from 1959 through 1976.  It really was many teams: Dodgers, Mets, White Sox, Pilots, Astros, A's, Cubs, A's again, Cubs again, Orioles, Angels, and Royals.  Early in his career, he was a two-time NL batting champion and one-time NL RBI leader with the Dodgers, with whom he won the World Series in 1963. 
Cleon Jones.
Cleon Jones In Action.
Cleon Jones was a member of the Miracle Mets, leading the team in hitting at .340, and in hits, doubles, and steals.  He played almost his whole career with the Mets, except a brief stint in his last year with the White Sox.  He's in the Mets Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.  Cleon Jones was also one of the guest stars in the Everybody Loves Raymond episode where Raymond and Robert went to a special event at Cooperstown honoring the '69 Mets.
Angel Mangual and Ross Grimsley.
Who doesn't love seeing the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy, especially in its large incarnation, like it is here?  Outfielder Angel Mangual finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1971, behind Chris Chambliss of Cleveland and Bill Parsons of Milwaukee.  Pitcher Ross Grimsley was 10-7 in 26 starts with the Reds in 1971, with a 3.57 ERA.  His best year was 1978 with Montreal, making the All-Star team and finishing 7th in Cy Young balloting on a record of 20-11 and a 3.05 ERA.
Grant Jackson and Jim Rooker.
The final three cards I've picked out are of interest to me because they're members of the 1979 Pirates championship team.  Grant Jackson was the winning pitcher in Game 7, and was one of the main relievers, along with Kent Tekulve.  Of course, he's pictured here with the Orioles, and pitched with them in the World Series in 1971, losing to the Pirates.  Jim Rooker was one of the starters for the 1979 Pirates; he didn't get a decision, but he pitched a great 5 innings in Game 5 to keep the Pirates alive.  Before joining the Pirates, Rooker pitched in two games with the Tigers in 1968, and then with the Royals from 1969-1972.
Chuck Tanner.
And then we have Chuck Tanner, manager of those Bucs, pictured here as manager of the White Sox.  He amassed a record of 401-414 managing them from 1970-1975.  Tanner won The Sporting News Manager of the Year for 1972, guiding his White Sox to an 87-67 second-place finish behind the eventual champion Oakland.  He then managed the A's for 1976, before becoming one of the only managers ever to be traded, as the Pirates acquired him for the 1977 season in exchange for Manny Sanguillen.  The Pirates got Manny Sanguillen back soon enough.

So, that's it for now.  Thanks for reading.  As I put together this 1972 set, I'll occassionally have more posts like this showing some of the highlights of the set.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Recent Acquisitions: 1976 Topps Traded Yankees Team Set

When the news came that Oscar Gamble died, I was not alone in thinking that I would try to pick up his iconic 1976 Topps Traded card: they disappeared quickly from COMC and eBay.  When you're having trouble solving a problem, one piece of advice is to "make the problem bigger."  I searched eBay instead for the 1976 Topps Traded set.  I found an intermediate solution -- the 1976 Topps Traded Yankees Team Set.  It turns out that 6 of the 44 cards in 1976 Topps Traded were newly Yankees, and in addition to Gamble, Willie Randolph's card is also notable, as it can be considered to be a rookie card (it's his first solo Topps card, and from his rookie season).  I paid a little more than I would have for just the Gamble, but it wasn't too much in absolute terms, so it's fine -- and I even got some nice additional cards out of the deal.
Oscar Gamble.
Here he is, in his iconic glory.  Gamble was traded by the Indians to the Yankees at the end of the 1975 season for Pat Dobson.  Gamble didn't stay with the Yankees for long, as they soon traded him to the White Sox, with LaMarr Hoyt and a minor leaguer, for Bucky Dent.  Having Bucky Dent famously worked out for the Yankees.
Ed Figueroa, Traded.
1976 Topps Ed Figueroa.
Next we have Ed Figueroa, and it turns out that I already had his regular 1976 Topps card in my collection.  Figueroa and Mickey Rivers were traded to the Yankees from the Angels, for Bobby Bonds.  Unlike Oscar Gamble, who didn't stay with the Yankees long enough to win the World Series, Figueroa pitched in the 1977 ALCS (getting no decision in one start), and in the 1978 ALCS and World Series (going 0-1 in the ALCS in one start and 0-1 in the World Series in two starts).  He did much better in the regular season, going 20-9 with a 2.99 ERA in 1978.  Overall, his career wasn't too long, spanning 1974 through 1981, playing briefly with the Rangers and A's in addition to the Angels and Yankees.
Dock Ellis.
1977 Topps Dock Ellis.
Dock Ellis, Ken Brett, and Willie Randolph were traded from the Pirates to the Yankees for pitcher Doc Medich in December, 1975.  Medich went 8-11 with a 3.51 ERA with the Bucs in 1976, his only season there; he played with the A's, Mariners, and Mets in 1977.  Ellis was similarly well-traveled -- while he played 1976 and part of 1977 with the Yankees, he was traded again, and also played with the A's and the Rangers in 1977.  He pitched well in 1976, going 17-8 with a 3.19 ERA.  It turns out I already had the 1977 Topps card of Ellis, showing him in a real, non-airbrushed Yankees cap and uniform, although the card is in rough shape with multiple creases.
1977 Topps Dock Ellis card back.
The card back says that his 1976 performance earned Ellis the AL Comeback Player of the Year award.  I was unclear on who gives this award, so I just looked it up.  Each league had a Comeback Player award given by The Sporting News from 1965 through 2006.  In 2005, MLB decided to give its own award, so after they coexisted for two seasons, TSN discontinued its version.
Willie Randolph.
I never knew that Willie Randolph started out as a Pirate, playing just 30 games with them in 1975.  I really identify him as a Yankee, but even in my day, at the end of his career, he did play briefly with the Dodgers, A's, Brewers, and Mets.  I remember at one point he interviewed to be manager of the Phillies; I don't know which time that was, maybe when they hired Larry Bowa instead.  He then managed the Mets for a few years, ending with a solid 302-253 record.
Ken Brett.
Ken Brett will always be most famous for being George Brett's brother, but he had his own career as a pitcher spanning 14 MLB seasons.  He was an All-Star with the Pirates in 1974, going 13-9 with 10 complete games and a 3.30 ERA.  In 1975, he sometimes started and was sometimes used in relief, still going 9-5 with a 3.36 ERA.  While he was traded to the Yankees in December, 1975, he didn't stay long at all, being traded again in May, 1976 to the White Sox.
Mickey Rivers.
Mickey Rivers came to the Yankees from the Angels along with Figueroa, and like Figueroa and Randolph, stayed to win the 1977 and 1978 World Series.  Rivers had a career batting average of .295 over his 15 seasons, and performed consistently well in the postseason, batting .308 combined (37-for-120) in the ALCS and World Series each year from 1976 through 1978.  In the regular season, he had a career record of 267 steals (leading the AL with 70 in 1975), being caught 90 times; this didn't translate as well to the postseason, where he stole 4 bases and was caught 3 times.
1974 Topps Doug Rader.
1979 Topps Joe Wallis.
The seller threw two additional cards into the envelope, this 1974 Topps Doug Rader, and this 1979 Topps Joe Wallis.  Other than this, I have cards of Rader as manager of the Rangers in the early 80s, and as manager of the Angels in the late 80s/early 90s.  Joe Wallis played for a few years for the Cubs and the A's, and appeared on Topps cards from 1976-1980.