Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Whole Pack of Sox

We are now three years into the White Sox career of Carlos Rodon.  I really like Carlos, so I am not going to sit here and waive the white flag on his career, or suggest that he's going to be remembered as some huge draft flop.  There are a lot of positives about him in spite of whatever his win-loss record has been with the White Sox.  

Besides, I just think back to his time pitching at NC State and enjoy every card of his that I can get my hands on.  Locally he will always be remember as a great college pitcher who helped, along with Trea Turner, get the Wolfpack to the College World Series.  

He's only been out of college a few years and he already has a bunch of items in the NC State Hall of Fame.....

Which brings me to a few new baseball cards.  I picked up one new 2017 autograph of Rodon along with two 2016 cards that I did not own before last week.  Brand new card first....

This is out of the Gallery set.  I don't think there are as nice as the late 1990s/early 2000s version of this set, but I hold those sets on a pretty lofty pedestal, so perhaps I am setting the bar too high for these cards.  I haven't picked up any packs of these cards, my local Wal-Mart is a complete disaster for baseball cards.  It was a retail exclusive to that store.  It's a nice enough looking card though, even if the autograph is a sticker, it's not immediately noticeable on this card.  

I feel like I am getting picky about these colored parallel cards as I get older.  A green White Sox card?  I feel like this card is some sort of commemoration of the St. Patty's Day Spring Training Games where the teams don green uniforms.  

I am okay with this for the moment, but I am seriously considering just buying/trading for parallel colors that actually look good.  Purple Cardinals cards?  No.  Green Rays cards?  No.  I could go on, you get the point.  

Last one.  The Topps base set autographs usually have enormous print runs, and if you can hold out ten minutes after they are released, you can usually find many of them for next to nothing.  Honestly, I actually really like the looks of these autographs out of the 2016 Topps base set.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Finally A Fowler

It's been just over a year since the Cardinals signed free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler away from the Chicago Cubs.  The entire 2017 season has been played and I have written exactly zero posts about last seasons biggest offseason addition for the Cardinals.  Yes, I opened some packs of cards and there were Fowler cards in a Cardinals uniform in some of those packs.  I posted none of them.

In fact, I haven't even posted the good Cubs cards I have of Fowler.  Here's a quick rundown....

and that's everything.  It's a single card, but it's a really nice.  Most of the autographed cards out of Triple Threads are nice and collection worthy in my book.  I really like the 'Take A Walk" on this card.  While many baseball fans might best remember Fowler for his leadoff home run in the first inning of the seventh game in the 2016 World Series

 he is actually best known for working the count and getting on base.  Great card.

So naturally I needed to find something similar, but in a Cardinals uniform.  I had several different options and I honestly did not end up with my first choice.  So, here is my first nice Dexter Fowler card in a Cardinals uniform.....

Like the Cubs card at the top of the post, this Cardinals card is out of the Triple Threads set.  No cool message about Fowler's style of play, but just an oval shaped piece of jersey.  That gold background is a little bit over the top, but there are other versions of this card with green backgrounds.  I felt like I was choosing between a card with a Christmas themed background or opulent mansion of a dictator.  I guess I went with dictator's mansion.  I promise that I will do better with a follow up Fowler post with a little bit better, less gaudy, baseball card.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

High Tek Minor Leaguers

A really quick post about some Minor League cards.  I was initially worried earlier this year when I saw that there was a Bowman TEK product on the card release calendar, but no Topps TEK.  Luckily, Topps still managed to put out the regular set, which meant that after taking care of finding a couple cards out of it, I could move on and check out the Minor League version of one of my favorites.  

There are some Rays/Durham Bulls and Cardinals players in the set, some of them even have a few autographs.  I decided to go a little bit different route for my first Bowman TEK cards, but still knocked a card out from one of my favorite teams.

The first card I picked up is actually a player I saw while he was in college.  

A.J. Puk was one of the better college pitchers a few years ago while he was at the University of Florida.  He spent a summer pitching locally in central North Carolina with the USA Baseball team.  I managed to see him pitch a combined no hitter with Tanner Houck (Missouri/Red Sox) and Ryan Hendrix (Texas A&M/Reds).  Makes him an automatic favorite.  

I have a few other nice Puk cards that I have picked up the last two years.  This TEK card was something a little different.  Puk has always had a really simple signature and I like that he signed his cards in a spot away from the pattern.  

I know that there are a bunch of different patterns on the TEK cards, but I didn't even worry about that when I bought this card.  Just picked one I liked and went with it.  The overall design of the set is nice.  My only complaint would be the card backs.....

Seriously, why even bother with a stat line?  It is barely readable.  

Next card is a Cardinals player.....

just not on this card.  

The team picked up Tyler O'Neill last summer in a trade with the Mariners for pitcher Marco Gonzales.  The Cardinals do have a ton of outfielders, but they do not have a ton of power hitters which is what O'Neill should bring them.  

I posted a few O'Neill cards this summer after the trade.  Still waiting for a Cardinals card of this prospect, maybe soon, but until then I am willing to take on some more Mariners cards.  I kind of dig the picture of him on the card.  These don't have the standard backgrounds, but he looks like he's taking a big swing.  

The back of the card is the same as Puk's with the tiny stat line....

but the background silhouette is a little bit clearer on this card.  It's a common design element on the TEK cards, but it does not show up very well on the Puk card.  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Half An N, Sliver of An O

Five Star is one of those products that I won't touch while it is sitting in a pack on a shelf in a card store.  I would likely spend the $125-$140 for a one box, with two autographs, and pull something along the lines of a Terry Pendleton autograph.

I paid something like $10 for this card and I love it.  I would just be irked if I spent that much on a box of cards and pulled something like this fabulous card of the former Cardinals and Braves third baseman.  So, I let other people go ahead and open the packs of Five Star.  I just sit here in my office and watch the listings on Ebay.

I am willing to spend for some nice autographs out of this product.  I still really like the original set from 2012.  This is one of my favorite cards that I picked up that year......

So much to love about this card.

I know that the Cabrera card is a relic/autograph card, but I have really gone away from the relic cards in the past two years.  I just really care about the autographs.  I usually try to pick up two-three Five Star cards every year:  one Cardinals player, one Durham Bulls, and one just generic good player.

I have already picked up a Mark McGwire Five Star card this year, so that might count as my Cardinals card for this year.  It was not a current year card, put out in 2014.  I am not sure I really feel the need to pick up another Matt Carpenter or Aledmys Diaz autograph.  Diaz was actually just traded to the Blue Jays

So this is likely it.....

unless I can find a cool Alex Reyes.  I have no desire to touch another Grichuk Cardinals card, let alone spend time money, or trade other cards to get one of his autographs.

So, that really left me with a Durham Bulls player to track down.  In the past I have found some nice cards of Blake Snell, Andruw Jones, and Evan Longoria.  Again, I usually avoid relic cards, but my favorite Durham Bulls Five Star card that I own is a Longoria booklet that I picked up out of the original 2012 set.

I hate scanning booklets.

There are usually some nice relic cards in the Five Star product, but they often carry some exorbitant premium that goes beyond the point of making them a worthwhile purchase when compared to the price of a base autograph card.

With that being said, I am not against the idea of still collecting relic cards.  Which brings me to my Durham Bulls card out of Five Star for this year.....

I actually found someone who had pulled this card on Twitter and was going to post it on Ebay.  Always a good way to find cards.  The seller doesn't have to mess with listing fees, I don't have to mess with sitting there at the end of the auction hoping not to get sniped.  

Not sure that I love the green tint on the outside edges of the bottom portion of the card, but the top half with Longoria's picture and signature is solid.  I know the 50/50 serial number is one of those Ebay 1/1 things, but I am rather in different to that.  Sometimes a player's jersey number can be cool.  

The patch piece on the right side is from the N on his name plate, with the left-side relic being the bottom portion of the O.  After scanning the completed auctions on Ebay it looks like Topps only used the name plates off of Longoria's jersey for the relics in Five Star.  Some of the relics are blue with white letters, the rest are white with blue letters.  The premium patch pieces, low serial numbers, are the MLB logo from the neck line.  

I am fine with my Half an N and a sliver of an O.  Makes for a nice card and I didn't pay an arm and a leg for it.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #25 - Ace Parker

1949-1952 Durham Bulls 

Parker appeared for the Durham Bulls as a player/manager starting in 1949.  His work with the Durham Bulls was sort of a second career, or maybe a third depending on how you are counting his previous work.  Parker's athletic career at Duke University was a huge success.  He played football, baseball, and basketball while he was in college.  Ace Parker's best sport was football.  In 1935 he was an All-American running back and was a consensus winner for that prestigious award in 1936.  Parker also finished 6th that year in the Heisman voting.  

Parker ended up playing two sports professionally.  In 1937 he signed with the Philadelphia A's who literally played him all over the field.  He played all of the infield spots, save for 1B, and also played in the outfield.  He last appeared in the Majors in 1938, but played in the Minors until 1941 before taking a break.  Ace had a .179 batting average after playing parts of two seasons with the A's.  

Meanwhile, Parker also started playing in the NFL in 1937 after he was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The only other quarterback drafted ahead of Parker was Sammy Baugh.  In 1938, he was an All-Pro selection and lead the NFL in passing.  By 1940, he was one of the premier players in the league and was awarded the MVP Award.  Parker left the NFL in 1942 for the war.  He did play when he returned, but never attained the same level of performance as he did pre-World War 2.  

Parker started his managing career with his hometown team, the Portsmouth Cubs, in 1948.  The following season he took over for the Bulls.  He occasionally appeared in games as a player, but mostly managed the team.  Parker's overall record as the manager of the Bulls 303-266 and he took home the Piedmont League Manager of the Year award in 1949 and 1951.  Following the 1952 season he was hired by Duke to coach their baseball team, a job he held until 1966.  Parker's teams won 1 Southern Conference title, 3 ACC titles, and finished 5th in the College World Series in 1961.

Parker is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. 

I actually ended up with two Ace Parker autographs.  Not a bad thing, I will give the other card a post of its own at some point.  I have never been big into the "cut signature" cards, but I really liked the look of this card.  Parker not only has a nice signature, he tended to write large.  I am almost sure that this is cut from an autographed football photo of some sort, but I like that the signature takes up the entire card.  The navy blue, or Duke blue color signature is a nice bonus, although the card identifies him as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  

I'd give more insight into the Panini Certified brand, but I don't know a thing about football cards and I am not going to pretend that I do.  I generally do not like Panini's baseball products, the whole no-logos thing, but this looks solid.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 15- Lonnie Maclin

Lonnie Maclin played twelve games for the Cardinals in 1993.  That's it.  When I started these posts about the 1990s Cardinals a few months ago I mapped out about a dozen posts and I pulled a handful of other random cards of different players for future posts.  I wanted a mixture of known names and unknown names.  The known names are nice, good reminders of past favorites, but sometimes the unknowns have some cool stories.

I actually picked out a Maclin card from a stack when I first started this set of posts as part of my random stack for the future.  Maclin is a St. Louis native, so I thought there might be something interesting about his career.  The card happens to be his only major brand baseball card, which is out of the 1994 Pinnacle set.

That's it.

So, I started back tracking a bit on Maclin's career.  First, he attended Ritenour High School in St. Louis County.  It's in the northern part of the county and actually has a pretty good baseball history.  The school has produced three Major League players outside of Lonnie Maclin.  Long time Dodgers pitcher Jerry Reuss, Mets/Giants/Expos infielder Ron Hunt, and Cubs catcher Bob Scheffing.

Maclin played college baseball at Meramec Community College which is in Kirkwood.  It's a few miles southwest of St. Louis and also has a pretty successful track record with its baseball team.  Notable alumni include David Freese, T.J. Mathews, Brian Boehringer, and Donnie Wall.

The Cardinals drafted him in 1987 out of junior college.  He played well in the lower Minors.  Maclin didn't move as fast up the Minor League ladder as Ray Lankford and Bernard Gilkey, but he was in that batch of prospects.  He played alongside future Cardinals like Luis Alicea, Brian Jordan, Geronimo Pena, and Rheal Cormier.

Which is how I found a second card of Maclin.

I had actually picked up a bunch of these early 1990s Minor League sets trying to find some extra cards of some of the 1990s Cardinals players.  Maclin actually has a few Minor League cards, just kind of liked this one.

Maclin made his Major League debut with the Cardinals on the night of September 7, 1993.  What happened that night?  Just Mark Whiten hitting four home runs.

Maclin was on base for the first home run.  If you watch the highlight until Whiten gets to home plate Maclin is at home wearing jersey number 55.  After that September, Maclin became a Minor League free agent signed with the Padres, but never actually played for the team.  He never played in their Minor League system either.  

Instead Maclin ended up playing in either the Mexican League or the Texas-Louisiana (Independent) every year between 1994 and 2001.  His primary team was the Amarillo Dillas where he is considered one of the greatest players in the franchise's history.  In 9 seasons in independent ball, Maclin hit .300 in 7 of them with on-base percentages hovering over .400. still has a few articles and photos of him floating around on their website.  Here he is playing first base......

and according to an interview he gave in 2001 Joe Torre is not a very good manager and Lonnie Maclin also does stand up comedy.  

There is a joke in there somewhere.  Lonnie also tried his hand at managing with Amarillo.  

I too consider Felipe Alou a great manager.   

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Back To The High Tek.....

I remember when Topps Tek first came out in 1998.  The set idea was somewhat simple.  If you collect baseball cards sets there are only 90 cards in this product.  The set idea was also somewhat complex.  If you collect cards of an individual player there are 90 variations of each of the 90 cards.  I like sets and have a copy of each of the 90 cards in the 1998 Topps Tek set.  I player collection Ray Lankford, but I do not own all 90 variations of his card in the set.  Maybe one day.

I like that Topps has brought this product back the last few years.  It's been fun to see newer collectors trying to track down all of the different variations.  Topps has made the product a little bit better the second time around by adding in autographs.  I have picked up quite a few the past few years and posted them here in this space.

This year there is a Bowman Tek, prospects, and Topps Tek, which is veterans and retired players.  I have picked up a few the past few weeks the cards have been out, but the first card I want to share from this year's set has been one of my favorite cards that I have had sitting on my office desk in awhile.

It's player who appeared in the original Topps Tek set.

I wish I could tell you it was Ray Lankford, but I can't do that.  It is a Cardinals player though.  Well, he was a Marlin in the original.  

The checklist was chopped down after 1998, so while Tek ran for a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Renteria did not make the cut when the set shrunk to 45 cards.  So, 19 years later after appearing the original I finally have another Renteria Topps Tek card.  

It's autographed too.  

I am not sure that I like all of the new background patterns on the cards.  A nice picture of the former Cardinals shortstop with an autograph can make me overlook the fact that the design of this card looks like a kid took either a basketball or Death Star stamp to it.  

The patterns run consistent onto the back of the baseball card.  Although for an acetate style card, I think that Topps does a lot better job on the backs of the base set than these Tek cards.  

This is my second Renteria card of the year behind his Topps Archives autograph which I picked up earlier this summer.  Topps has included him in several other products this year too.  Edgar has signed a lot of cards this year.  I will have to spend a little time trying to pick some of them up.

I am happy to see Topps pick up a player like Edgar and put him back into some card sets.  He's not a Hall of Famer, but he had some important moments over the years as a player.  Most baseball fans remember his walk off hit in the 1997 World Series while he was playing for the Marlins, or his decisive home run in the 2010 World Series which gave the Giants the title that season, but he was always a clutch player for the Cardinals too....

but the Cardinals only made one World Series appearance while Edgar was their shortstop.  Unfortunately, the Series did not end well since the team did not hit outside of Renteria who hit .333 with a .945 OPS.  He ended up making the final out, which makes him the only player in Major League history to end a World Series