Thursday, May 30, 2019

5 from 1955 Bowman

My COMC spring cleaning box was almost entirely made up of cards for my two set-building projects, 1955 Bowman and 1972 Topps.  Here I'll show a few highlights of the 1955 Bowman cards.  I'm currently just over one-third complete with the 1955 Bowman, with 107 out of 320 cards.
Gil Hodges.
I'll start off with Night Owl's nominee for someone who should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago, the Dodgers legend Gil Hodges.  I would say that this is my first good card of Hodges.  That's because this is my first card of him produced while he was playing.  I do have a good managerial card of Hodges, from the 1972 set I'm building.  And then I have a couple of cards from later, the Hygrade All-Time greats, and the 1985 Circle K Home Run Kings.  When the Circle K set was produced, Hodges was 29th on the all-time home run list with his career total of 370.
Enos Slaughter.
This is my first good card of Hall-of-Famer Enos Slaughter, too.  I have the Hygrade of him, and also a Pacific Legends and a Swell Baseball Greats.  Slaughter was from Roxboro, NC, a place I visited at least once when I was in grad school in Durham, NC.  Roxboro has a prominent "Home of Enos Slaughter" sign when you enter town.
Mickey Vernon.
Then we have Mickey Vernon, pictured with the Washington Senators.  It's slightly jarring going through the 1955 set to see how different the teams are then as compared to today.  In about 65 years, a lot has changed.  To be precise, there were only 16 teams back then, and 5 of them have undergone major changes since -- the A's, Giants, Dodgers, and Braves all later moved while retaining their team name, while the Senators later moved and became the Twins.  So, there are only 11 teams from the set that still exist in the same form.  One of those, the Orioles, was brand new at the time.
Lew Burdette.
Here we have Lew Burdette of those Milwaukee Braves.  I showed another card of Burdette before, in the TCMA set of the 1957 Braves.
Bill Jackowski.
Finally, we have NL umpire Bill Jackowski.  It goes without saying that the umpire cards are a highlight of the set.  Jackowski was the home plate umpire in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the game with Mazeroski's famous home run.

That's all for today; thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Some COMC odds and ends

I recently got my COMC Spring Cleaning box, and almost all of the cards were for either my 1955 Bowman set or my 1972 Topps set.  There were just a few odds and ends otherwise, which I'm mainly showing here.  It's been an incredibly hectic two weeks of work and of family life, so this post is a nice way to start to return to normalcy.
Dick Allen.
First up we have the best player not in the Hall of Fame, Dick Allen.  I don't know all of Allen's cards, but I like his 1974 Topps a bit more than this, except that this has him back with the Phillies.  I work in Philadelphia, and I think I'm going to tack this card to the wall of my office.  Then, since my collection is about 98% pre-1994, I don't think I had any cards of Ichiro, so I wanted to pick up a couple.  And I figured, why not with snowflakes?  Makes as much sense to me as most modern cards.
Francisco Cervelli.
Here's the other Ichiro I picked up, and also a Bucco, Francisco Cervelli, on this year's Heritage.  This Ichiro is the only Archives card I own, as far as I know.  I have a couple other Heritage that I picked up that I've shown before (Chad Kuhl and Josh Harrison).  I'm not sure I understand what's supposed to be different between Heritage and Archives, but this Archives card looks and feels more like a baseball card to me, with the people in the background, and also with the look/texture of the card back (not pictured!).  I don't expect to buy many of either Archives or Heritage in the future, but I guess I prefer Archives, even if I can't really tell what the difference is supposed to be.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

1990 Topps Minis #45: Checklist

We have another installment of the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set today, marking the halfway point with card #45, the checklist.
#45, Checklist.
Not sure how much there is to say about this checklist.  But of the 88 cards, you see they fit the first 42 on the front.  The first 44 were the AL cards, so the NL mainly makes up the back.
Checklist card back.
And here's the back.  We'll pick up in our next installment with the Atlanta Braves, starting with Lonnie Smith.  Smith is a personal favorite since he was part of those 1980 Phillies that won the World Series when I was just about to turn 5 years old.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I bought some modern cards: 2019 Topps Series 1

I said in my last post that I had bought some 2019 Topps and some 2019 Donruss, which is a big departure for me as I hardly own any modern cards.  I showed some of the more interesting Donruss cards last time, so today I'll show a selection of the Topps cards.  I bought two blasters at Target, for about 200 cards.
Hank Aaron and Mike Trout.
Greatness has returned, according to Topps.  I really like the picture of Hank Aaron batting here.  I don't know if Mike Trout is a new Hank Aaron, but he's certainly also great.
Nick Ahmed and Cesar Hernandez.
I got two numbered parallels.  This stars-and-stripes Nick Ahmed is numbered 20/76, and the gold Cesar Hernandez is 1932/2019.  I heard a lot about Ahmed in the offseason as a possible shortstop for the Pirates to pick up.  They didn't, and they do have some trouble at shortstop.  As I write this, Ahmed and the Diamondbacks are pummeling the Buccos.
Willie Calhoun.
Rich Hill.
I guess you'd call these two rainbow foil parallels.  We have a Future Stars, Willie Calhoun of the Rangers, and also Rich Hill, pitcher for the Dodgers.  Just like when I was a kid in 1987, it is nice to pull Future Stars and All-Star Rookies from packs of Topps.

Then we have a selection of stadiums I've been to.
I have a friend and longtime research collaborator at Boston University, so I visit there often.  BU is just a short walk from Fenway, so I've availed myself of the opportunity to catch a game a few times.
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Another good friend and research collaborator is at University of California at Berkeley.  So when I was visiting him once, I asked him to take me to an A's game.  We met up with a couple of friends, one from high school and one from college, who both moved to San Francisco.
Citizens Bank Park.
In the 80s and 90s, I would say that Dad and I went to about 50-75 Phillies games at the Vet.  Then when I wasn't living in the area anymore, they tore down the Vet and built Citizens Bank Park.  I moved back to the area at some point, and Dad got sick.  I wanted to take him to see the new park before he died, so me, my wife, Mom, and Dad all went to a game together.  The game started but then got rained out.  We got a rain check and came back for the completion of the game.  I'm so glad Dad and I got there before he died; he's been gone over six years now.
Mike Piazza.
Randy Johnson.
Finally, I'll close with these commemorative patch cards, which are guaranteed at one per blaster.  The back proclaims "Congratulations!" for receiving the card, which strikes me as odd since you're definitely getting one per blaster.  I'm not quite sure what the point of these is, but I do like both Randy Johnson and Mike Piazza, so it's good to have more cards of them, at least.

Overall, despite the lack of logos, I think I actually prefer the Donruss.  I would describe the design of the Topps cards as overwrought, while the Donruss cards seem to capture more fun to me.  Anyway, thanks for reading!

Monday, May 13, 2019

I bought some modern cards: 2019 Donruss

For the first time I bought a significant number of modern cards, with some 2019 Topps Series 1 and some 2019 Panini Donruss, all at the local Target.  Here are some of the more unusual Donruss cards I got.
Two shiny pink Aaron Judge cards.
One of the boxes I bought had "pink fireworks" as a selling point, and every pack had at least two shiny pink cards inside.  These two are of Aaron Judge.  The first is in a "nicknames" subset, and the second recalls the old oversized Donruss All-Star cards that I've posted about several times.
Dustin Fowler autograph.
I pulled two autographs, this one in the "Bleachers Inc." series, of A's player Dustin Fowler.  Fowler was with the Yankees for one game in 2017 and played in 69 games with the A's in 2018.  So far in 2019 he's in the minors, at Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League.
Patrick Wisdom autograph.
My second auto is of the pink fireworks kind, in the "Signature Series" subset, of then-Cardinals player Patrick Wisdom.  Wisdom is with the Rangers this year, but has also been at Nashville of the Pacific Coast League.
Mike Trout and Chris Archer.
Here are a couple more pink shiny cards; Mike Trout in the "Elite Series" and Bucco Chris Archer.  I bought three varieties of Donruss; I don't know all the terminology, but I think one was a hanger pack, one was what you call a Blaster, and one called itself a "Mega Box."  All but the Mega Box had a fair number of Pirates.  Archer here is one of the only Pirates from the Mega Box.
Albert Pujols and Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Here are two very shiny silver cards, both in versions that recall those classic 80s Donruss Highlights and All-Star sets.  These throwback designs are absolutely a reason to buy the cards for me. 
Patriotic variations for Gerrit Cole and Nick Markakis.
Here are some American flag-themed parallels for former Pirate Gerrit Cole and Nick Markakis of Atlanta.
David Bote and Rated Rookie Kyle Tucker.
Here we have some blue shiny parallels, David Bote of Chicago and Kyle Tucker, Rated Rookie of Houston.  Like the Highlights and Action All-Stars, it's good to see that Rated Rookie logo coming out of a pack of cards.
Hunter Renfroe.
Patrick Corbin.
Finally, here is a red shiny parallel of Hunter Renfroe of the Padres.  And I pulled one stamped numbered card, this 1985 retro of Arizona's Patrick Corbin.  I would say that of the regular cards I got, about 1/3 were the 1985 retro design and about 2/3 were the 2019 design.  This one among the 1985-ish cards was numbered.  The front looks just like the others except for the 70/99, but the back is shiny.  I scanned the back but the effect didn't come through, so it's not worth showing I think.

So, of approximately 200 of the 2019 Donruss cards that I now own, these are the ones I wanted to show.  I think I don't fully "get" modern cards, with all the things shining and sparkling, and with photo parallels and name parallels and all that, but this was still fun.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 10, 2019

1990 Donruss Best of the NL: Giants Team Set

Quite some time ago I started to show the whole 1990 Donruss Best of the National League set, going team by team.  I've done 8 of the 12 teams so far, so I'll pick up today with the ninth.  We're doing the teams in no particular order, and today we have the San Francisco Giants.
Steve Bedrosian.
Gary Carter.
First up we have two players who were better known with other teams.  Steve Bedrosian won the Cy Young with the Phillies in 1987, saving 40 games with them.  He wasn't with the Giants long, and went on to win the World Series with the 1991 Twins.  Gary Carter was at the end of his career, spending one year with the Giants before one year with the Dodgers and ending back home with the Expos.
Brett Butler.
Jose Uribe.
These 1989 Giants won the NL pennant, and lost to their cross-bay rivals, the A's, 4-0 in the earthquake-interrupted World Series.  Starting center fielder Brett Butler was their leader in steals with 31.  Jose Uribe was the starting shortstop; he died in a car accident at age 47 in 2006.
Scott Garrelts.
Terry Kennedy.
Starter Scott Garrelts went 14-5 with the team, leading the NL with a 2.28 ERA.  He finished 6th in the Cy Young voting.  This was Terry Kennedy's second loss in the World Series, as he was also the starting catcher for the 1984 Padres.  Kennedy was a four-time All-Star, representing the Orioles in addition to the Padres and Giants.
Will Clark.
Matt Williams.
Then we get to some of the big hitters!  Will Clark and Matt Williams were second and third on the team in home runs, with 23 and 18, respectively.  Williams only played in 84 games, at that.  Clark was also second on the team in RBI with 111, and finished second in NL MVP voting.
Robby Thompson.
Kevin Mitchell.
The team's home run leader with 47, and the NL MVP, was Kevin Mitchell.  Mitchell of course was one of the 1986 champion Mets.  After 1989 his production slowed down, and he only hit as many as 30 home runs in a season twice more.  Robby Thompson was the starting second baseman, and was familiar to me back then as a 1987 Topps All-Star Rookie.
Kevin Bass.
John Burkett.
And we end with two players I don't much remember, Kevin Bass and John Burkett.  Bass was an All-Star in 1986 with Houston, and played 1982 through 1995, mostly with the Astros.  Burkett had a long career too, pitching from 1987 through 2003, putting together a 166-136 record with a 4.31 ERA and 1 save.  Burkett was a two-time All-Star, in 1993 and 2001.

Thanks for reading!  I'll see if I can get another installment of this set done for next week.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

1990 Topps Minis #44: Dave Stieb

We have another of the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders today, #44 Dave Stieb of Toronto.
#44, Dave Stieb.
Stieb was a premier pitcher of the day and one of many excellent Blue Jays of the late 80s and early 90s.  Wikipedia tells me that Stieb is second only to Jack Morris in wins during the 1980s.  He was with the Jays in 1992 but unfortunately didn't appear in the postseason, and was released in October.
Dave Stieb card back.
The reason Stieb is in the set appears to be just placing 4th in the AL in batting average against.  I'm surprised they used this as a stat for this set, since I don't recall this being something that people talked about back in the day.  Of course people talk about way more stats, and whole new categories of stats, today. 

That is it for the first half of this 88-card set!  We have shown all the AL players.  Up next is the checklist, and then we have the NL players, starting with Atlanta.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 6, 2019

1990 Topps Minis #43: Fred McGriff

We continue to march through the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set, almost through the first half, with #43 Fred McGriff of the Blue Jays today.  This is the next-to-last AL card, and then will be the checklist, and then on to the NL players.
#43, Fred McGriff.
McGriff is known today for his near-miss at the 500-home run club, and for his frequently discussed but ultimately unsuccessful (so far at least) Hall of Fame candidacy.  I remember McGriff on the Blue Jays and the Padres, and he led the league in home runs once with each of them.  Of course his career went on long after I stopped watching baseball at the time of the 1994 strike, and he played for a number of other teams, winning the World Series in 1995 with the Braves.
Fred McGriff card back.
To get into this league leaders set, McGriff led the AL in homers with 36, and placed second in walks, fourth in on-base percentage, and fifth in runs.

Thanks for reading!  Next up is the last AL player in the set, McGriff's teammate Dave Stieb.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Four 1950's Topps cards

I'm continuing to post some cards I've picked up from various COMC shipments in the past year.  This time, two 1957 Topps and two 1958 Topps.
1957 Topps Larry Doby.
1957 Topps Roy Campanella.
I'm very excited to get my first good cards of both Larry Doby and Roy Campanella.  I want at least one more of both, especially one of Doby with the Indians, with whom he became the second black player in MLB just months after Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers.  Back when I was watching baseball in the late 80s and early 90s, Doby had thus far been excluded from the Hall.  When I rejoined the baseball-watching world a couple of years ago, I was delighted to see that this oversight had been corrected in the interim.
1958 Topps Bill Mazeroski.
1958 Topps Richie Ashburn.
I posted a while ago that I had picked up a 1957 Robin Roberts; usually I try to get cards of Roberts and Richie Ashburn in pairs, since they were the greats of the 1950s Phillies that my dad grew up with.  I decided to slightly split the pair, by matching it with a 1958 Ashburn instead of 1957, just so that I have another 1958.  I posted my first 1958 card before, too; it was of John Roseboro.  And to add a Bucco to the mix, I picked up this 1958 Maz as well.

At first I thought I didn't like the 1957 design so much because it's so plain, and the 1958's with their bright colorful backgrounds seem fun.  But seeing all of these together, I think I do prefer the full photos on the 1957's.  They're all great, though.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dawn of the Blue Rocks

A simple one-card post today.  When I was graduating high school, we got a local minor-league team.  I'm from Newark, Delaware, just a few short miles from Delaware's largest city, Wilmington, with its population of about 70,000.  And in spring of 1993, the Wilmington Blue Rocks debuted as a Class-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
1993 Classic Jon Lieber.
Jon Lieber card back.
I wanted to get a Blue Rocks card into my binder to recognize them; I actually did have two Blue Rocks cards among the very few minor league cards I already had, but they were players I hadn't heard of otherwise, so this Classic Jon Lieber makes a better addition to my binder, I think.

This was a big deal for us, having a team in town, albeit right before many of us were leaving town to start college.  I picked Jon Lieber as the Blue Rock to go in my binder because I think he was the first Blue Rock I remember making the majors.  One nice tidbit on the card back is the old, original logo just below his picture -- it's a picture of a player (who might also be a kind of miner?) against the outline of Delaware, with Wilmington Blue Rocks written around it.  It's nice that it's the logo I remember from 1993, but it's funny because the artwork is so amateurish.  In the 25+ intervening years, they've upped their marketing game and now have professional-looking logos and mascots.

Thanks for reading!