Monday, December 31, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #33: Alvin Davis

We're back today for this New Year's Eve with another card from the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set.  Today we have Alvin Davis of the Mariners.
#33, Alvin Davis.
The Mariners had some talent back then but never managed to put it all together.  In 1989 they finished 6th in the AL West with a 73-89 record, and they followed this up with 5th place in 1990 and a 77-85 record.  Alvin Davis was in the majors from 1984 through 1992, all but the final season of which was with the Mariners.  He won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1984, a season in which he had his career-best RBI total of 116.
Alvin Davis card back.
To make his way into this league leaders set, Davis finished second in the AL in on-base percentage with .424, and 5th in walks with 101.  He got some votes for AL MVP, finishing 23rd.

Thanks for reading!  Next up is fellow Mariner Harold Reynolds.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

1982 Slurpee Cups Checklist

I just bought this sheet of paper on eBay.  It's supposed to be from 1982 but the seller could, if they wanted to, just be running off copies of it.  I think it really is from 1982, based on what it's like in hand.
1982 7-Eleven Slurpee Cups Checklist.
It's a list of all of the 1982 series of 7-Eleven baseball player Slurpee cups.  I thought about ordering some of the actual cups, but I don't want to store a bunch of cups.  The seller shipped this in a 3-ring page protector, which I can slip into a binder.  Cups would be much harder to store.

This serves a specific purpose of bringing back a small part of my childhood.  There was a 7-Eleven down the street from my house when I was little.  I would have been 6 years old for most of 1982, and I know that I had a Nolan Ryan Slurpee cup at some point.  I had a couple more, too, but I don't remember which players.  But I remember Nolan Ryan specifically because that's how I first heard of Nolan Ryan.  Whoever the other players were, if they were the local heroes Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose, or if they were players I had cards of or had seen play, I had heard of them.  But I remember thinking, who is this Nolan Ryan guy, and why is he on my Slurpee cup?  Later I found out that Nolan Ryan was a big deal, at least as far as strikeouts and no hitters were concerned.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

My 1993 Post cards

I've posted the 1990, 1991, and 1994 Post Cereal cards that I pulled from cereal boxes when I was a teenager in the 90s.  That just leaves 1993 (I guess we didn't buy any of the right cereals in 1992).  These came three cards to a pack, and for 1991, 1992, and 1994, I have three cards each, so we must have had one box of Post cereal each of those years, during the baseball card promotion at least.  For 1993, I have six cards -- three opened, and one unopened pack.  So we bought twice as much Post cereal that year.
1993 Post Bobby Bonilla.
Bobby Bonilla was a favorite of mine with the Pirates, as one-third of the offensive core of the 1990 and 1991 division winners, along with Andy Van Slyke and Barry Bonds.  Bonilla didn't stick around for the third consecutive division win by the Bucs, and signed as a free agent with the Mets in December 1991.  Of course in his time with the Mets, he's most famous for his contract buy-out, for which he's still getting paid.
1993 Post Juan Gonzalez.
1993 Post Dave Fleming.
Juan Gonzalez had a long career, from 1989 through 2005, with the Rangers, Tigers, Indians, and Royals, racking up 434 home runs and 1404 RBI.  Despite being a prominent player of the day, I barely remember him, which I can attribute to the fact that he played in the AL for teams that didn't make the postseason during the years I was watching baseball.  Gonzalez is in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.  Dave Fleming, listed here as a Rookie Star with the Mariners, is someone I don't remember at all.  Like most Rookie Stars, his career didn't go all that far, as he was out of the majors after the 1995 season.  Fleming put up a career 38-32 record with a 4.67 ERA.  Wikipedia says that Fleming currently teaches 5th grade.
Unopened 1993 Post Roger Clemens.
Unopened 1993 Post Don Mattingly card back.
Then I have an unopened pack.  There are three cards, with the front card and back card showing.  I've got Roger Clemens and Don Mattingly from this pack, two players who appeared in absolutely every small set of this era.  I have some curiosity as to who is on the card between these two, but I would rather allow the pack to remain in its unopened state than find out the contents.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Story of Bobby Shantz

Today's a bit of a special post; today is the 6th anniversary of my dad's death.  Dad died on his and Mom's wedding anniversary, and today would have been their 50th, if he had lived.  This post is about Bobby Shantz, but we'll get there by starting with some background on my dad.

Dad was born in 1945 in Wilmington, Delaware, which is quite close to Philadelphia.  His father died in 1951 when he was five years old, almost six.  He went to live in Philadelphia at a boarding school for "orphans," which in practice at the time meant fatherless boys.  His mother had a home near Wilmington and he only saw her occasionally, until she died when he was 13, making him a true orphan.  Her home passed on to one of Dad's aunts.  That aunt lived there for about thirty years, until she got sick and moved in with her daughter circa 1990.  When that happened, Dad was invited over to go through some of the things in the basement.  He brought home some stuff, I think including an old model train set, but mainly a few boxes of his father's books.  He bought some bookshelves and put his father's books in the living room.  They stayed there, largely untouched I think, for a couple of decades, I would say.

Now that Dad is gone, Mom is staying in the house but has in mind that she might sell eventually.  She wants to be ready if she does sell, and has been getting rid of some old things.  She gave most of Dad's father's books away, but saved one for me: The Story of Bobby Shantz.  But it couldn't have been his father's book since his father died in 1951 and the book was published in 1953.  I think this must have actually been Dad's book when he was little, and even though he lived at the orphanage/boarding school, maybe his mother gave it to him when he was home sometime.  Anyway, so much is lost to history.  But for sure Bobby Shantz was a Philadelphia star, Dad was a little kid in and near Philadelphia back then, and this book came out of his mother's house and eventually made its way to me many years later.
Front cover.
Back cover.
Night Owl had a great post on Bobby Shantz earlier this month.  He featured the 1956 Topps card, which I've since gone and picked up in my COMC account.  This book, the Story of Bobby Shantz, was published just a bit earlier, in 1953, coming off Shantz's big 1952 year for the A's.  In 1952 Shantz was the AL MVP (there was no Cy Young award yet) and the AL wins leader with a record of 24-7, with a 2.48 ERA and 152 strikeouts.  The back cover summarizes the chapters, my favorite of which is Chapter 12, about the FBI investigating when he was threatened not to pitch against Boston.
Title page, and stats table.
Some pictures including being weighed.
Opposite the title page there's a table of Bobby Shantz's stats.  Of course everyone's always interested in his size; in Chapter 1, he says that's a big reason to write the book, to tell his story of how the little guy can be successful.  The stats table lists him as 5 feet, 6 and 1/4 inches, and 139 pounds, 12 ounces.  Night Owl went through the weights listed on his Topps cards, and found that they were either 138 pounds or 150+.  So the book comes in on the side of the sub-140 weights.  There are many pictures in the book, and I've shown one page here.  The picture in the upper left is of him weighing in on Bobby Shantz night at the ballpark -- everyone was always interested in his weight, it seems.  Then the top right is of him meeting with FBI agents after receiving those threats about pitching against Boston.  In the bottom picture, a trainer checks him out after being hit by a pitch.
1975 Topps Mini 1952 MVPs, Bobby Shantz and Hank Sauer.
Then, since this is a baseball card blog, I will feature some baseball cards.  I picked up this 1975 Topps Mini of the 1952 MVPs for two reasons: to have Bobby Shantz in my main binder, and to have another 1975 Topps mini in my main binder.  I don't remember ever knowing about the 1975 minis when I was collecting in the 80s and 90s, but now that I know about them, I wanted a couple.  I didn't really realize before, but I think the card serves a third purpose in that binder: I think it's the only representation of the Philadelphia Athletics there.  That won't be true for long -- last night I picked up 4 old Philadelphia Athletics cards on COMC, and when they arrive I'll make room for them.
Hygrade All-Time Greats Bobby Shantz.
Pacific Legends Bobby Shantz.
Then I have these other two nostalgia cards of Shantz, the Hygrade All-Time Greats, and the Pacific Legends.  The Pacific card features him with the Yankees, with whom he won the 1958 World Series.  Shantz also pitched in three games in the wild 1960 World Series against the Pirates, who famously pulled it out in the end.

Finally, I'll mention connections to another player I've featured recently, Curt Simmons.  I've shown the 1955 Bowman and the 1956 Topps cards of Simmons recently.  Simmons was one of the 1950 Phillies Whiz Kids.  Shantz and Simmons were both important pitchers of the 1950s, both in Philadelphia and further afield, both won World Series with other teams, both were multiple-time All-Stars, and both are on the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame.  Both are also from the Philadelphia region originally.  And both are also still alive.  They did an interview together a few years ago and it's available on YouTube.  I'll close out this post with that YouTube video; thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Eight from 1956 Topps

I showed a few 1956 Topps I picked up a while ago.  Then I went and bought some more.  I'm definitely not collecting the set, so I'm not entirely sure why I keep buying them.  But it is a really beautiful set, so they're hard to resist, I guess.
Gus Bell, Cincinnati Redlegs.
Elmer Valo, Kansas City A's.
Of these eight cards, which arrived in my COMC Black Friday box, I mostly bought them to feature teams that no longer exist, at least in their configurations back then.  So we start off with the Cincinnati Redlegs, who called themselved that briefly, rather than Reds, at the height of the Red Scare; I showed another Redlegs card just recently.  I'm also glad to have a nice card of Buddy's dad Gus.  Then we have Elmer Valo of the Kansas City A's.  When I was growing up I knew the A's were in Oakland but had been in Philadelphia (Connie Mack still loomed large enough in Philadelphia baseball history for me to know about those old A's teams as a little kid in the 80s), but it came as something of a shock to me to learn that they made a stopover in Kansas City for a few years.  So now I have a couple of Kansas City A's cards, which in a way are a part of Philadelphia baseball history, in my collection.

Elmer Valo was born in what is now Slovakia in 1921.  He had a long career from 1940 through 1961, with the Philadelphia Athletics for many years but then with the Kansas City A's, Phillies, Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Indians, Yankees, Senators, and Twins.  So he was with three different teams that moved cities during his tenure with them.  Valo was a career .282 hitter with 1420 total hits and 601 RBI.  Valo is on the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame.
Curt Simmons.
Vic Power, Kansas City A's.
I showed another card, the 1955 Bowman, of Curt Simmons recently.  He was a solid pitcher for many years who is of interest to me as part of the 1950 Whiz Kids; he had other career highlights including winning the World Series with the 1964 Cardinals.  Vic Power is another of the Kansas City A's, who also started with them in Philadelphia and made the move.  Power was a six-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner in his career from 1954 through 1965.  He is considered to be one of the greatest Puerto Rican baseball players.  Comparing the two A's cards, you see that Topps spelled out "Athletics" on the Valo card but abbreviated "A's" on the Power card.
Ruben Gomez, New York Giants.
Hank Thompson, New York Giants.
Then I picked up two New York Giants, Ruben Gomez and Hank Thompson.  Their hats look different colors, with the Gomez hat looking black and the Thompson hat looking blue.  I've read that the Mets took the blue hat from the Dodgers and the orange "NY" logo from the Giants, so I wouldn't have thought the New York Giants had a blue hat.  Gomez and Thompson were both part of the 1954 champion Giants team.  For Thompson, 1956 was his last year in the majors.  Thompson was the first black player to play for the St. Louis Browns, playing with them on July 17, 1947.  On July 20, he and Willard Brown both played with the Browns, making the first MLB game to have more than one black player in a lineup.  Later that season in a game against Cleveland, he and Larry Doby became the first black players to play in the same game on opposing teams on the field at the same time.

Ruben Gomez pitched in the majors from 1953 through 1967, but with some gaps.  He wasn't in the majors in 1961 or 1963, and played in Mexico from 1964 through 1966.  In the 1954 championship season, he went 17-9 with a 2.88 ERA.  Other than the New York and San Francisco Giants, he played with the Phillies, Indians, and Twins in his MLB career.  He also had a lot of success continuing to play in Puerto Rico afterwards.
Gus Triandos, Baltimore Orioles.
Sherm Lollar.
Closing this post out, we have Gus Triandos of the Baltimore Orioles and Sherm Lollar of the White Sox.  These two, like the Curt Simmons above, don't fit the "teams that no longer are" paradigm.  But the Orioles are the flipside of that, with the Orioles only having recently come into existence in 1956, when the Browns moved from St. Louis to Baltimore for the 1954 season.  And the White Sox have nothing to do with the moving of teams, of course, but I liked the old White Sox hat on Lollar in his picture.  Lollar was a 9-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, and was on the 1947 champion Yankees team.  Triandos was a four-time All-Star.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #32: Dave Stewart

Here we are again, on our march through the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set.  Today we're at #32, the last of the champion Oakland A's to be featured, pitcher Dave Stewart.
#32, Dave Stewart.
Dave Stewart emerged to be the ace of the near-dynasty A's teams of the late 80s/early 90s.  Before leading the AL in wins with 20 in 1987, he had a fairly unremarkable career, having played with the Dodgers, Rangers and Phillies starting in 1978.  Stewart ended up winning three World Series, with the Dodgers in 1981, the A's in 1989, and the Blue Jays in 1993, being the World Series MVP once, and the ALCS MVP twice.  After finishing his playing career, Stewart held a variety of front-office and pitching coach jobs and wanted to be a general manager, which he finally achieved with the Diamondbacks for two years, 2014-2016.
Dave Stewart card back.
To earn his way into this league leaders set, Stewart placed second in wins in the AL in 1989 with 21.  He also tied for first in games started with 36, placed second in innings pitched, tied for fourth in complete games with 8, and placed ninth in strikeouts.

Thanks for reading!  Next up in the series is card #33, Alvin Davis of Seattle.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas to you! And, some autograph pickups

Merry Christmas, to all who celebrate Christmas.  And if you don't celebrate Christmas, then happy Tuesday to you!  Today I'll show some nice presents I gave myself, you could say.  They weren't really Christmas presents, but they had been in my COMC account and arrived in my Black Friday box. 
Timeless Treasures Mike Schmidt.
Card back, numbered 35/50.
I restarted my collecting when I had the epiphany that as a grown man, I could afford the Mike Schmidt rookie card that was impossible when I was a kid.  And there are other things possible, too, like a Schmidt autographed card.  I don't have a great concept of what all of the early-2000s sets were, but this appears to be from Donruss Timeless Treasures, and Donruss back then must have still had a license to show team logos.  Schmidt and Carlton were the two huge Phillies stars of my day and I did manage to get Carlton's autograph at a show with Dad back in the early 90s.  A Schmidt auto is something that I think my collection really needed, and now I've got it.
Donruss Optic Rated Rookie Josh Bell.
Card back, numbered 29/150.
I've been enjoying watching Josh Bell play for the Bucs, so I wanted to get an autograph of his, too.  There are a bunch to choose from, and I picked a Rated Rookie.
Triple Threads Gregory Polanco 41/50.
I've been enjoying watching Gregory Polanco, too, at least when he's healthy enough to play.  So I got this Triple Threads of him, marking him as a Future Phenom.  I like the emerald color.
2016 Topps Archives Signature Buyback Kent Tekulve, numbered 38/134.
Finally there's this Topps Archives Signature Buyback (or something like that) of Kent Tekulve.  Back when they won the World Series in 1979, Teke was a premier reliever.  He may have never led the league in saves, but he put up solid numbers and did lead the league in games pitched and games finished several times.  He spent a few years with the Phillies and Dad and I got to see him pitch at the Vet a few times.

Happy holidays, and thanks for reading!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Recently Acquired Set: 1986 Burger King All-Pro

I've posted a bunch of 1980s small sets I picked up in the past couple months: 1984 Milton Bradley, 1987 M&M's, 1988 Fantastic Sam's, 1988 Chef Boyardee.  I also bought and posted the 1978 Topps Phillies team set.  I have a few more like this to go, and today we have the 1986 Burger King All-Pro set.  Burger King ditched its prior partner, Topps, and moved on to logo-less MSA cards. 
Glenn Wilson.
Juan Samuel.
The checklist was rather Phillies-centric.  Not sure why.  Were these available nationally?  Or was this a regional issue?  There were only 20 cards, and 4 of them featured the Phillies, with superstars Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, as well as these two, outfielder Glenn Wilson and second baseman Juan Samuel.  Samuel made a number of smaller sets, but Wilson didn't typically merit such an inclusion.

Kirk Gibson.
Tony Pena.
Then we have a couple of Rust Belt stars, Kirk Gibson, then of the Tigers, and Tony Pena, then of the Bucs.  Gibson was of course just a few years away from being known as a World Series hero.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Eddie Murray.
Baltimore's awfully close to Philadelphia, so we have a couple more from the Northeast corridor here, with then-future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. and Eddie Murray.
Don Mattingly.
Reggie Jackson.
All such sets at the time had to include Don Mattingly.  Then we have an end-of-career Reggie Jackson in batting pose. 
The other 12 cards in the set.
Here we have the rest of the set; in addition to Schmidt and Carlton, there was former Phillie Pete Rose and then-future Phillie Dale Murphy.  The set was rounded out with Dave Winfield, Fernando Valenzuela, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Willie McGee, Dwight Gooden, Steve Garvey, and George Brett.

In a sense, that's all of the sets like this that I bought.  Others that I got and will show are of a different character: Burger King team sets and Fleer World Series sets, for instance.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Progress on my 1972 set

I've posted before that I'm working on a 1972 Topps set.  I've always wanted to put together a set like this.  I started in October, 2017, with a goal of being finished in about two years.  My progress so far is that I'm at 62.13%: 489 out of 787 cards, including all of Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3.  For the hardest part, Series 6, I have 50 out of 131.  I hardly have any of Series 4 and 5, and I guess that will be the main focus of the coming year.  I'm pretty happy that there are fewer than 300 cards to go at this point.

Now, let me show a few favorites from 1972 which appeared in my COMC Black Friday box.
Roberto Clemente In Action.
Bucs win the series.
That's a great Clemente card, whatever just happened to induce that expression.  Maybe he had just struck out?  And that's a great shot of Manny Sanguillen's joy upon winning the 1971 World Series.
Gene Mauch.
Johnny Callison.
Here we have two former Phillies, since scattered to other teams.  The one thing that I heard about Gene Mauch in the 80s was that he had never won a pennant.  That was partially because of the Phold, the epic collapse of his 1964 Phillies, who ended up finishing second in the NL.  Johnny Callison was the starting right fielder, playing in all 162 games.
Jim Fregosi and his accordion.
Earl Weaver.
Then we have two managers who did win a pennant.  Jim Fregosi was still in the middle of his playing career, and this card caught him when he was briefly with the Mets.  Of course, it's not just any Fregosi card, but a Boyhood Photos card, with him holding an accordian that's almost as big as he is.  Fregosi led the 1993 Phillies -- Dykstra, Kruk, Mitch Williams, and the like -- to the World Series and a loss to the Blue Jays.  And Earl Weaver was in a number of World Series, winning one and losing three (two of those losses to the Bucs!).
Del Unser.
Art Shamsky.
There are a bunch of cards in this same pose, featuring the underside of the bill of the player's cap.  And I chose Del Unser and Art Shamsky to feature in the close-up pose.  Unser won the World Series with the 1980 Phils, and was one of two pinch-hitting specialists on the team, along with Greg Gross.  And Art Shamsky is well known to fans of the show Everybody Loves Raymond, as the favorite player of Robert Barone, who named his dog Shamsky.  Shamsky of course was on the Miracle Mets who beat Earl Weaver's Orioles in the 1969 World Series.
Frank Howard.
Cardinals rookies, including Jim Bibby.
Finally, we have these two, including Frank Howard, also featured in the underside-of-the-cap close-up pose.  I've posted a few times about my Frank Howard cards.  I'm always impressed by how the slugger manages to look like an old man.  Then we have the rookie card of Jim Bibby and two other Cardinals.  Bibby of course was part of the We Are Family 1979 champion Pirates.

Thanks for reading!