Tuesday, July 31, 2018

1988 Pittsburgh Pirates Negro League Stars (Part 3 of 4)

Before I got overwhelmed with work, in April I had been posting a set of cards of Negro Leagues players; this is a team-issued set by the Pirates, in celebration of the Pittsburgh-area Negro Leagues teams and players.  It's a 20-card set, and to try to do a fair job of highlighting each card, I'm showing the set over four posts of five cards each.  I had managed to get the first two posts out in April, and now finally have the third post ready.

Previous posts in this series:
  • Part 1 (Cards 1-5) (Rube Foster, 1913 Homestead Grays, Cum Posey, 1926 Pittsburgh Crawfords, and Gus Greenlee).
  • Part 2 (Cards 6-10) (John Henry "Pop" Lloyd, Oscar Charleston, Smokey Joe Williams, Judy Johnson, and Martin Dihigo).

#11. Satchel Paige.
Leading off the post with card #11, we have the immortal Satchel Paige.  Paige's 1953 Topps card, with the St. Louis Browns, is on my PSA-graded subcollection wantlist, and I'll be thrilled to get it, if I ever do.  Not much needs to be said about Paige, I think: he may well have been the greatest of all time.
#12. Josh Gibson.
Next we have another candidate for greatest of all time, but as a slugger: Josh Gibson.  I once saw a made-for-TV movie about Jackie Robinson, which I think must have been Soul of the Game, starring Blair Underwood as Robinson and Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson.  According to the TV movie, Gibson would have been the first black MLB player if not for concerns for his health.  Sure enough, he died in January 1947, just before Jackie Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
#13. Sam Streeter.
Sam Streeter was a pitcher with several of the Negro Leagues teams, including stints with the Homestead Grays in 1928 and 1929, and the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1931 through 1936.  Statistics are incomplete, but Baseball Reference records him with a 86-63 record.  There are some whole seasons without stats, though.  The card back says that he was the top vote-getter and starting pitcher at the first black All-Star game.  This is the only card of him listed in the Trading Card Database, and there are no cards of him for sale on COMC.
#14. James "Cool Papa" Bell.
Cool Papa Bell was known for being fast, and was a great center fielder and hitter.  He played in the Negro Leagues from 1922-1946, for a number of teams, including both the Grays and the Crawfords.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976.
#15. Ted Page.
Like many players in the Negro Leagues, Ted Page played for many teams over the years, including the Buffalo Giants, the Newark Eagles, the Brooklyn Royal Giants, the New York Black Yankees, the Philadelphia Stars, and both the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.  Page is in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.  He was murdered in 1984, at age 81.

That's it for this installment.  I'll feature the final 5 cards from the set sometime next week.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 30, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #15: Tom Gordon

Before I went on my two-month hiatus, I had a couple of regular features, including showing the entire 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set.  I had gotten through card #14, Gary Pettis, before taking my break.  So now we pick up in Kansas City; the cards are organized by team, alphabetically by place name, starting with the AL.  So, we've already been through Baltimore, Boston, California, Chicago (AL), Cleveland, and Detroit.  There are several Royals in the set, and the plan is to post two of these minis per week, so we'll be in Kansas City for a couple of weeks.
Tom Gordon.
I have some vague memory of Tom Gordon hitting the scene when I was watching baseball so closely.  But he was in the AL and in the Midwest, which meant he was a significant distance away, both figuratively and literally.  Of course what sticks in mind is that he was nicknamed Flash, because of course he was, with his last name being Gordon.  Gordon pitched with the Royals the whole time I was watching (which was until the 1994 strike), being with them 1988-1995, and then played with the Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, White Sox, Yankees, Phillies, and Diamondbacks before retiring in 2009, for quite a long career.  He was a starter through 1997 and then a reliever after that, leading the AL in saves and winning Rolaids Relief Man of the Year in 1998.
Tom Gordon card back.
To get into this League Leaders series, you should be among the league leaders in some significant category.  I didn't realize that Topps used Batting Average Against as one of their categories, but Gordon did quite well in that in 1989, finishing second in the AL by only allowing a .210 batting average against him.  The card goes on to note that he tied for #6 in the AL with 17 wins and placed tenth in strikeouts with 153.

On Wednesday we'll have Gordon's teammate and card #16 from the set, Bo Jackson.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Recent Acquisition: 1988 Chef Boyardee Set

I have a couple of Chef Boyardee cards from their 1988 set, and I posted them before; I'm not sure where I ever got them.  I also don't remember the Chef Boyardee set being offered at the time; I don't think I ate much of it as a kid, since we instead tended to buy the competing Franco-American products, i.e., Spaghetti-O's.  Based on what I can find online, it seems that the set was offered as an uncut, perforated sheet.

When I decided to buy a few of these sets recently, like the 1987 M&M's set I posted the other day, the 1988 Chef Boyardee set was on my list.  I ordered quite a few such things, which will all be posted in the next week or so.  When I get these, I struggle with the question of whether to keep them as-is or not.  For example, when I ordered the 1990 Score Rookie & Traded set a couple of months ago, I strongly considered keeping it sealed.  When I received this Chef Boyardee set as an intact sheet, I thought about not separating the cards.  These cards have made it for the past 30 years in the same condition they left the factory in, and it seems a shame to disturb them now.  But, I did unwrap that 1990 Score update set because I wanted to see the cards, and I did separate the Chef Boyardee set because an uncut sheet is a really awkward size.  So they made it intact for 30 years, but that's the end of the line.
Boggs, Clemens, Valenzuela.
The uncut sheet was set up as an array of 6 cards across, 4 cards down.  To scan them all, I first separated them into strips of 3.  After scanning, I then continued separating them, and they're now all individual cards, with the set stored in a team bag.
Mattingly, Murphy, Dawson.
The 24-card set features all the usual players.  Since I own a number of the ubiquitous late-80s retailer-sponsored box sets, the cast of characters here is pretty familiar.
Ripken, Worrell, Parrish.
One of the less obvious inclusions in the set is Rangers DH Larry Parrish.  Parrish played in the majors 1974-1988, then a couple of seasons in Japan.  He hit 256 homers in his career, and was a two-time All-Star, in 1979 and 1987.  While he wasn't always in these sets, he was sometimes, such as in the 1988 Fleer Kay-Bee Team Leaders set I once featured.
Carter, Sandberg, Hernandez.
There were 26 teams back then, and it's a 24-card set, so clearly not every team gets represented.  That's even more true since some teams have multiple players, like Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez here, of the Mets.  We saw Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens above, and joining them in the next picture is fellow Boston player Jim Rice.  These multiply represented teams were of course recent winners at the time, with the Red Sox and Mets having just recently faced each other in the 1986 World Series.  The Twins and Cardinals have multiple players as well, and of course they faced each other in the 1987 World Series.  My Pirates, sadly, are shut out, but the Pirates weren't yet so great back then.
Scott, Henderson, Rice.
The uncut sheet came in decent condition, but one corner was dinged.  You can see that in the bottom left corner of Mike Scott's card here.  Only a couple of my player collection guys are represented in this set, Rickey Henderson and Mike Schmidt.
Puckett, Schmidt, Viola.
I think I prefer the Mike Schmidt approach here -- better to be hatless than to have your team logo airbrushed off your cap.  He's the only one in the whole set without a blank cap.
Bell, Smith, Gwynn.
George Bell had recently won the 1987 AL MVP.  Tony Gwynn was in the middle of racking up batting championships.  Ozzie Smith was in the middle of his long run of Gold Glove wins and All-Star appearances.
McGwire, Davis, Morris.
Finally, our last three include Mark McGwire, who still had so much promise and hadn't yet disgraced himself and come to personify an entire era of tainted play.  Eric Davis was amazing at his best, but his production went downhill after 1990 or so, dealing with a number of injuries and a bout with cancer.  And it seems fitting to end with Jack Morris, who was just inducted today into the Hall of Fame.

Thanks for reading!  It's good to be back to the blog.

Edit: I meant to include a picture of the whole sheet, before separating it.

The uncut sheet.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Return from Hiatus and Recent Acquisition: 1987 M&M's set

I've been away from the blog for some time now, but plan to get back to it (starting now!).  My June and July at work were incredibly busy, with 3 weeks spent in the Los Angeles area and one week in Taiwan.  I had hoped to be able to keep blogging every now then during this busy period, but that didn't work out.  But now, I'm back home in Pennsylvania and have gotten settled back in.  Work is still busy, but I have some time for cards again.  So, here we go, with a post about a set that arrived in the mail yesterday.
An add from the December, 1991 issue of Baseball Cards magazine.
Back in the late 80s/early 90s, I loved having a subscription to Baseball Cards magazine.  The articles and price guide were fine, but I really enjoyed ads like this, offering all sorts of odd sets.  Of course I bought my fair share of base set cards at the time, either factory sets or wax or cello boxes of the current products.  But I was always fascinated with all the odd little sets, and ads like this, offering Bazooka, Smokey the Bear, World Series, Topps UK, Long John Silvers, 5x7 Diamond Kings, and all sorts of other things I couldn't find anywhere else. 

At the time, I didn't buy it all of course (I was a teenager with a limited budget), but now I can find many of these same things on the internet, interestingly for about the same nominal price as back then.  The above ad lists the 1987 M&M's set for $9.95, and I paid just $6.35 for it, including shipping, on eBay just now.  Since I've restarted my collection I've struggled with the question of how much of this stuff I want to purchase now; it's obviously not worth anything to anyone, and I have a lot of 80s cards already, so how many more do I need?  But in the boxes I'm storing my collection I do have a little more room, so I've decided to pick up a few of the sets advertised in those old ads.  This M&M's set is one of 8 small sets from the late 70s through early 90s that I recently ordered off eBay, all for not very much money, like I said, and I'll be showing them all as they arrive.
Joyner, Pena, Schmidt, and Sandberg.
The cards came in two-card panels, all still attached.  I had some thought of separating them, but I think it won't be a problem to store them the way they were shipped to me, in a kind of large team bag taped up to fit the panels.  The first two panels/four cards feature two all-time favorites of mine, Tony Pena and Mike Schmidt.  I actually already have the Pena and Schmidt cards, separated rather than in panel form, in my player collections for them in my binder.
Boggs, Morris, Clemens, and Baines.
Another personal favorite is Harold Baines, and I did not yet have this card of him.  It won't join the binder because like I said, these will be stored as panels and as a set, but it's still good to have this card of him.  I'm glad that Jack Morris is making the Hall of Fame (this weekend!), although I do understand the case against him as well.  Still, being the winningest pitcher of the 80s and a four-time World Series champ counts for me, since that era coincided so much with the time that I watched baseball intensely.
Murphy, Canseco, Mattingly, and Carter.
It was inconceivable at the time that Don Mattingly wouldn't make the Hall of Fame, but looking back at his stats now, it turns out that he had a window of great performance that also coincided exactly with my period of intense interest in the game.  I always like Dale Murphy and was glad when the Phils picked him up, but it turns out by then his best days were already behind him.
Ripken, Brett, Puckett, and Carter.
George Brett was another favorite, because he was the opposing counterpart to Mike Schmidt in the 1980 World Series, forming the basis of my earliest baseball memories.  Another early memory was the first World Series I watched in my main period of collecting, seeing Kirby Puckett and the Twins take down the Cardinals in seven games.
Witt, Scott, Valenzuela, and Garvey.
I had a few baseball cards from the early 80s but didn't really start collecting in earnest until 1987, so I missed much of Fernando Valenzuela's greatness.  I do have some memories of Fernandomania, though.  Steve Garvey was just retiring as I was starting to watch closely.
Sax, Ryan, Gwynn, and Smith.
Tony Gwynn and Ozzie Smith were also favorites, although I can't say I followed them closely.  Had a lot of respect for them.  I was never someone who cared much for Nolan Ryan, but he was a huge deal with his 5000+ strikeouts in the early 90s.

So, that's it for now.  It's good to be back.  I'll be planning to pick up some of the regular features I let drop, and will be trying to post a few times a week.  Thanks for reading!