Monday, March 18, 2019

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 69- Todd Burns

Todd Burns has been on my list of 1990s Cardinals players to get a post in this series for awhile.  He does not actually have a card as a Cardinal, which may actually be a good thing.  Burns appeared in 24 games for the 1993 Cardinals.  If you ask Cardinals fans who watched the team in the 1990s to name some of the worst players to appear for the team during the decade, there is a decent chance that Burns would make the list. 

I would have put him on mine too at one point.  

Rewind a little bit.  I actually had this post drafted awhile ago and then decided to rewrite it a bit after thinking a little bit more about the situation.  Let's start out with the good Tood Burns.  I have a bunch of different Todd Burns cards in my collection from his days in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the Tony LaRussa A's teams.  

In 1988, Burns went 8-2 in 14 starts with the A's en route to the team winning the American League West and playing the Dodgers in the World Series.  The next season, Burns moved to the bullpen as a long reliever.  He went 6-5 with an ERA+ of 166, which was second in the A's bullpen to Dennis Eckersley.  The A's won the World Series, Burns pitched in two games, and did not allow a run to the Dodgers.  Similar story in 1990, except he did not pitch very well in the World Series.  

Although, the A's got swept by the Reds, so really nobody on the A's played very well that Postseason.  

In 1991, Burns spent two different stints on the disabled list with the A's missing almost the entire season, save for nine games in the middle of the season.  The A's let Burns walk after the season, he signed with the Rangers for 1992, and was never quite right.  His career ERA with the A's was 2.81, with the Rangers it was always higher.  In the half a season he played with the Rangers in 1993 it was 4.57.  

In the middle of the 1993 season, the Rangers managed to dump Burns off on the Cardinals.  On the day the Cardinals traded for Burns, they were 6 games behind the first place Phillies, and they needed relief help.  Burns was the only reinforcement that August Busch's thrifty ways allowed the team to acquire.  

A Burns card with the Rangers.  

It would be easy to sit here and spend a few paragraphs telling you how terrible Burns was during the second half of the season for the Cardinals,.  I am going to say it now, he was bad.  However, I have decided that it was not really his fault that the situation turned out the way it did with the Cardinals.  All things considered, fans in St. Louis should probably lay off the guy a little.  

First, he had been racking up the injuries in the year and a half prior to the trade.  Clearly something was not right physically with Burns.  Second, he was a really good pitcher for a championship level team while he was in Oakland.  If the Cardinals had traded for another relief pitcher, added Burns as a player who they were taking a chance on down the stretch based on previous success, I think he might have been remembered a little bit differently.  

Took a chance and did not work out is a lot different than did not work out and we had everything riding on this one player.  

Another Todd Burns card from 1993.  

In the end, the Cardinals released Burns at the end of September of 1993.  He pitched the 1994 season with the Mariners Triple A team in Calgary and did not fair well.  That was pretty much the end of Todd Burns career.   Moving forward, if you are going to speak ill of Burns, please place all the blame squarely at the feet of August Busch instead.  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Project Durham Bulls #49 - Mark Lemke

1987 Durham Bulls 

The Braves selected Mark Lemke out of high school in Utica, New York during the 1983 MLB Draft.  He spent the first five seasons of his professional baseball career toiling in A and Rookie Ball.  The summers of 1986, spent with the Sumter Braves in the South Atlantic League, and the Bulls were breakthrough years for Lemke.  During his 1987 season with the Bulls, Lemke hit 20 home runs, hit almost 30 doubles, and had batting average of .292 with an on-base percentage of .364.  The second baseman would appear in Atlanta the next summer, and would nail down the starting job with the Braves by time 1990 started. 

Lemke spent his career almost entirely with the Braves, he played 31 games with the Red Sox in 1998, and ended up being a light hitting middle infielder.  However, he had a few stretches during the Postseason that became his legacy as a Major League player.  Lemke hit .417 with 4 RBIs in the 1991 World Series against the Twins, .333 against the Pirates in the 1992 NLCS against the Pirates, and .444 against the Cardinals in the 1996 NLCS. 

There are several different Lemke autograph cards out there.  One of the easier ones to find is one of those Panini Hometown Heroes cards, with no logos, and no soul.  If that were the only Lemke card out there, I probably would have picked one up at some point.  However, there are also a few different Topps Archives and Fan Favorites autographs.  This is a 2005 Fan Favorites autograph.  Lemke has been on my list of players to find for awhile, finally found a card I like at a price I like.  As an added bonus, I like that it is on a 1995 Topps design, which is the year that the Braves and Lemke won the World Series.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 2

This new Blake Snell autographed card feels really highfalutin.  It's one of those "exclusive" cards that was given out at a special event hosted by Topps back in the middle of February.  It's exactly the sort of thing that some fifth grade teacher would not get invited to, but here I am with one of their Industry Conference cards. 

According to the internet, the Topps Industry Conference cost $199, non-refundable, to attend.  So, buying this card off the internet saved me $200, plus the airfare.....

That's almost $800.  Well, I did buy the card, so actually $770.  Plus I walked to the Post Office to pick up the card, and got baited into buying some Goldfish Crackers on the way.  So, bottom line savings was $768. 

Here's the front of the card. 

It's encased and has a cool sticker on the top letting you know that it is from the Industry Conference.  I mean, the card says it's from the Industry Conference too, but just in case.  The scans with the cases never turn out well.  Just a picture....

The autograph is on a sticker, never my first choice, but I probably won't have a lot of chances to find this card.  There are just 15 copies.  

A look at the back of the card..... 

and a short love note from Topps thanking participants for their $199.99*.  


Monday, March 11, 2019

One Simple 1990s Card

For the past year and a half Monday has been my day to pick out some cards of a Cardinals player from the 1990s.  I am going to skip my 1990s Cardinals post about a player this week.  I am not a person who keeps a schedule, so much as I keep a routine.  Certain things happen on certain days, and everything works out fine.  At the moment, my routine has been skewed.

Next week I will bounce back. 

For this week, I am just going to show off a really nice 1990s Cardinals that found its way into my mailbox this past weekend.  One of my favorite Cardinals players from that era.....

I know, the scan is not great. 

This is from the 2018 Topps Archives Signature Series, which is a set of cards that Topps recollected and then had players sign them.  This is from the Postseason edition.  I have been looking for a Brian Jordan card out of this set for awhile, but I was looking for the right card. A card from either 1996 or 1997 was preferred over the other options. 

Jordan only appeared in the Postseason with the Cardinals during the 1996 season, hence the reason why I was looking for cards from those two seasons.  I ended up with a 1997 Topps, which has a picture of Jordan from 1996.  Kudos to Topps for remembering his Postseason performance that year, or is he in here because of his years with the Braves? 

Let's pretend someone knew what they were doing. 

During that Postseason, Jordan hit a series clinching home run against the Padres in the National League Division Series off of Trevor Hoffman. 

Later in the Postseason hit a game winning home run against the Braves in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.....

The Cardinals were up 3-1 in the NLCS after that game, but then lost three straight games to Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz.  

Back of the card.  

Again, a little fuzzy on the scan.  I am tired.  Hope your Monday has been good. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Mailday From The Mitten

I received a nice envelope of cards a week and a half ago from Julie over at A Cracked Bat.   I will run through the cards in a minute, but I really need to get a business card or something catchy to stick into packages.  This is nice.....

My eight year old son was initially really excited about this package of cards.  He checks our mail as part of chores around the house.  If it is mail for me then it is a baseball card, and there is not much excitement over the mail for the day.  However, this package threw him off because the return address was from Michigan.  He was jumping up and down. 

My wife is from Michigan, so there are grandparents, aunts and uncles who live there are mail him stuff.  

Her hometown is actually on this map.  It's right there, next to one of the lakes.  It's a nice place.

So naturally, he opened the envelope and was a little disappointed to see that it was baseball cards, but I was pretty excited.  So, here's what I got:

First off, this was a card from a set that Julie had posted on Twitter, and we had spent some time talking about it one day.  I had never seen anything out of this Church's Chicken card set before.  Are there Church's Chickens in Missouri?  According to Google there are a dozen of them around St. Louis.  I just missed out on these back in the day.  There are even Cardinals players in the set. 

Love the design on these cards, they look like something from the mid 1990s too.  I am going to have to find more of these.  I appreciate that Julie introduced me to these cards.

More cards.

These three Cardinals are out of the 2003 EX set.  Always one of my favorite products from the late 1990s and early 2000s.  These are from the 2003.  Great looking cards.  


I know that the Action Packed cards were an oddball set from the early 1990s that featured older players, but I do not know much about them.  I actually have two other Action Packed cards in my collection, a Bob Gibson and a Jerome Bettis, but I am a little fuzzy on how they got here.  Never really got into collecting Rams cards.  I love the photograph on the card.  Nice action shot of Lou Brock running the bases is always a winner. 

 I do not do much with Furcal, but he was on the 2011 Cardinals World Series winner.  Kind of easy to forget he was there.  This is a gold sparkle variation of his 2012 Topps base card.  Not sure the scan really did it justice, sometimes shiny and bright does not scan well, but it's a sharp card. 

This is a really sharp looking card of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong.  Love the die cut.  


There are not many Ray Lankford cards in this world that I do not own.  However, he is one of the few players whom I actively welcome duplicates of in my collection.  This is a 1998 Donruss Preferred card, which was not only a great set, but also a card from Lankford's prime years as a player.  The years where card companies sort of paid interest in him. 

A great package of cards.  Thank you Julie, I will get you a return package at some point in the near future. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Got One Of Them Hot Boxes

I bought baseball cards at Target.  Not a real common occurrence, but I am usually at least willing to walk past the card aisle and see what is there.  I think about it for a few minutes. 

There is the "Remember you pulled an Al Kaline autograph out of a $20 box here once"

There is also the "Isn't this the store where some jerk slit the top of a pack of cards we bought?"

If I do decided to buy cards, I now make sure the packs are sealed, or the box is not wrapped in Glad Food Wrap or something.  

On with the story.  

Now, if you have never heard of a hot box, they are sort of a mythological creature in the world of baseball cards.  I liken the hot box to things like....

The chupacabra. 

The Loch Ness monster.  


So, I start opening up my packs of Topps Heritage cards and I get a Chromium looking card of Aaron Judge.  I flip the card over, no serial number.  

Weird, but I am in the middle of opening up packs, so I just set it aside and open the pack.  I get another Chromium looking card of Jose Ramirez.  No serial number.  

At this point I am intrigued, but I am still not going to stop for two of these cards in two packs.  

Then the next pack started out with this card......

and ended with this card......

I knew something was up with the box of cards that I was opening.  I checked out a few different checklist type sites, you should read Cardboard Connections, and I found the answer was indeed something called a "Hot Box".  These aren't just Chromium cards, or Chrome, or whatever you want to call them.  They are some form of purple Chrome.  

I was stunned, so what did I end up?  This is great stuff for a retail box.  I mean, it's not Al Kaline, but for $20 at Target.....

All a very good haul, but I got one other card, which is going to go along way towards putting together this set.  

Hot Box!!!! 

Monday, March 4, 2019

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 68 - Chuck Carr

The 1980s Cardinals "Whiteyball" teams were known for their speed and aggressive base running.  There were few players on those teams who were not capable of swiping a base when the team needed to manufacture a run.  The height of the "Running Redbirds" was the 1985 National League Championship team, which featured Vince Coleman's 100 stolen bases, Willie McGee with 56 stolen bases, and then more than 30 steals out of Tom Herr, Andy Van Slyke, and Ozzie Smith.

They were fun to watch.

With the success of the running game at the Major League level, the Cardinals filled their Minor League system with players who were capable of pressuring defenses and pitchers with the threat of stolen bases.  Several popped up with the team in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.  

The one you may know best is long time White Sox outfielder Lance Johnson.  

The "One Dog" only played 33 games in St. Louis before he was traded for starting pitcher Jose DeLeon.  He went on to play 14 years, stole more than 300 bases, and collecting 1,500 hits.  Pretty nice career.   

Alex Cole was another speedster who was drafted by the Cardinals in the 1980s.  While Cole never played for the Cardinals, he stole more than 50 stolen bases in 4 different seasons in their Minor League system.  

He was also traded away for starting pitching, going to the Padres for Omar Olivares.  Cole did not have the success that Lance Johnson enjoyed, but still managed a 7 year career as an outfielder off the bench primarily for the Twins and Indians.  

Which brings us to Chuck Carr.  

The Cardinals did not actually draft Chuck Carr, his career started with the Reds.  He bounced around a bit and eventually ended up with the Mets.  However, he was blocked in the Mets outfield due to the fact that the team signed Vince Coleman away from the Cardinals.  

The Mets traded him to the Cardinals.  The Cardinals used him in 22 games towards the end of 1992, which got him 64 at bats, and he managed to steal 10 bases.  This was after Carr stole 61 bases in Triple A and Double A during the 1992 season.  

Card companies pounced on the Cardinals new speedy outfielder.  We got two pure Cardinals cards.  

Always liked these 1993 Score cards.  Decent design, the Cardinals cards have some nice photography.  Carr is by no means a "favorite player", but this is a great picture of him running down the line at Wrigley.  The Cardinals went away from their polyester pullovers in 1992, so it was nice to see cards like this that showed off the classic Cardinals uniforms.  That 100th Anniversary patch on the sleeve was sharp too.  Quality card. 

Carr also had a 1993 Donruss card with the Cardinals, but he was fielding the ball in Wrigley Field instead of running.  Same company, same game.  He played in one game in Wrigley as a Cardinal, and he went 0-5.  

Guess that Score card is showing a ground out.  

and then there are two cards with a Cardinals picture, but with Marlins logos.  

There is a Donruss Update card with the Expansion Draft logo on the bottom of the card, which is where Carr went after the Cardinals left him unprotected.  Say, that picture looks familiar.  

His Fleer card is a little odd.  Check out his grey pants and white jersey.  This looks like Spring Training Photo Day.  I like the border with Marlins update.  Subtle, but better than "NOW WITH MARLINS"   

Let's talk about the rest of Carr's career.  He spent a few years on the Marlins, and then ended up on the Brewers.  This is the important and memorable part of his career.  He did not last long in Milwaukee, apparently he did not agree with all of Phil Garner's strategy decisions.  Luckily, James Nelson from the Milwaukee Sentinel celebrated the 20th Anniversary of one of the great moments in 1990s baseball a few summers back and offered a retell of the incident.   

From his May 16th, 2017 article:

"In the 8th inning of a game in Anaheim, the Brewers were trailing 4-1 against Angels' ace Chuck Finley. Leading off the inning, Carr had a 2-0 count and was given the signal to take a pitch. He ignored the sign, swung and popped out.
Brewers manager Phil Garner who had already had two dustups with Carr in the still-young season confronted the player at his locker about the at-bat, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Carr responded in the third person: "That ain't Chuckie's game. Chuckie hacks on 2-0."
And that was the end for Carr in Milwaukee. He was sent to the minors the following day, refused the assignment and was cut, forfeiting his $325,000 salary."

and that was the end of Chuck Carr.