Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets From 1992

I am way behind on blogging this week, so I am getting around to my Friday Five post for this week a little bit later than I really wanted.  Better late than never.  This week I am looking at my favorite five baseball card sets from 1992.  There are some good ones here, so if you have not dabbled in these card sets they are all easy to find and pretty affordable.  

In no particular order, here are the 1992 sets......

1992 Fleer Ultra- I put the Ultra Update set on my Friday Five last week and stated that it was intended to be the Fleer answer to Upper Deck and Stadium Club.  I am not really sure that most collectors considered the 1991 set a "premium" product, but the 1992 set definitely had the feel and look of those two established products.  While the rookie cards are not that great, think Rod Beck, there are some other really cool cards in this set to chase down outside of picking up a copy of the base set.  Fleer also put in an insert set of Tony Gwynn cards, Award Winners, Ultra All-Stars, and All-Rookies.  Note Cardinals fans: The All-Rookies set includes Donovan Osborne.  

The other highlight of this set is the 2000 Tony Gwynn autographs that were inserted into packs.  The cards are not obviously too hard to find, due to the number of cards signed, but the cards can be quite pricy.  There are ten different versions of the autograph (they used the Tony Gwynn insert set cards), but I am not sure if there is a premium on any of the versions....

1992 Topps- The 1992 Topps set was kind of the end of an era for Topps.  First, the cards were printed on white cardstock.  The cards had cleaner edges and corners, but something seems a little bit off with these cards when compared to the Topps sets from the 1980s and early 1990s.  The 1992 set was also the last Topps made with a single series.  Topps also introduced the Topps Gold card in the 1992 season.  

1992 Pinnacle- Every card company made the leap into "premium" cardboard at some point in the early 1990s.  The Pinnacle brand was Score's feature into that card market.  If I had to rank these sets this week this could easily end up near the top of the list.  The set has rookie cards of Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent, and Snorting Bull favorite Brian Jordan.  Pinnacle also had even more anti-fraud gizmos than Upper Deck.  Bar codes on the card could be unscrambled to spell out Pinnacle...I am not sure why someone would want to counterfeit these cards......Seriously, the black edges of the cards make finding nice copies of these cards really difficult.  The high grades on these cards have a low population, so nice raw copies can sell well depending on the card.  See Manny Ramirez.

1992 Bowman- Rivera, Manny, Piazza, Trevor Hoffman, and Carlos Delgado all have rookie cards in this product.  What do most people think of when they hear the brand name of Bowman?  Rookie Cards.  While the 1992 Topps set started moving the flagship brand away from their traditional base set, the Bowman cards were coming into their own.  Over time the size and design of the Bowman set has changed, but this was the first year that the product really focused in on young players.  On top of having the set focus on young players, which worked well in 1991, the 1992 set was printed on the same card stock as the Stadium Club set and also featured the popular foil short prints.  If you had to own one 1992 set it should be this one.  However, this set is the one product on this list that is not necessarily a cheap buy.  

1992 Stadium Club Dome- This set is worth buying just for all of the cool pictures of Major League Baseball players wearing high school uniforms or paisley shorts.  All sorts of good early 90s fashion statements in here.  Originally packaged as a 1991 product, the set is generally recognized as a 1992 product by collectors.  Probably because the set was released in March of 1992 after the 1992 Stadium Club set had been released.  This product was sold as a set and packaged in a thin plastic model of the SkyDome.  This set is really inexpensive and totally worth it.  See Manny Ramirez in front of Duke Chapel.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bulls Opening Day- Rain Delay

After a two and a half hour break we are getting ready to play.  Had fun talking to a couple of friends and eating some dinner.  

I had a chance to go check out the Bull Durham Brewery during the break.  I am not sure how many teams make their own craft beer setup in the stadium, but this is cool.  

I got to check out part of the Rays games while I was waiting.  The grounds crew is working on the field and the game is going to start in about ten minutes. 

Go Bulls!

Durham Bulls Opening Day

The Durham Bulls return home to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park after starting their 2015 season with six games on the road.  So far the Bulls are 3-3 on the new season under brand new manager Jared Sandberg.  Considering they have already had a few roster moves made this season, Mikie Mahtook and Allan Dykstra have been called up to Tampa, I am really happy with the early results.  

Tonight's Home Opener at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park should be fun.  The Bulls have made some great changes around the stadium off the field, along with some new players on the field, and I will share a few of the changes when I get to the stadium in a few hours.   The lineup is set, the tickets are printed, should be a fun summer.  Go Bulls!

The Bulls 2015 Opening Day lineup features four players who appeared for the Bulls prior to this season.  Vince Belnome returns for his third season in the Durham lineup and has been a fixture in the early going in the second spot in the lineup.  Curt Casali and Luke Maile, two catchers, also return.  Sandberg has been doing well at getting both players at bats and chances to catch as well.  Tonight Casali starts at catcher and Maile gets the nod at DH a night after hitting his first Triple A home run.  Ha Ju Lee also returns to the Bulls lineup.  The slick fielding short stop is hoping to find his touch at the plate.  He's had a slow start, but had a pair of hits against Charlotte last night.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Marp Triple Threads

It's been a slow start to the 2015 card year, but I will have some Gypsy Queen to post later this week. I am hoping that it's as cool as it was last year.  In the meantime, I went ahead and found a card from last year's Triple Threads to fill in a hole in my collection.  Here's a look at the new card....

I found this card in a Cardinals trade room on Facebook and was happy to take it off of another collectors hands.  I picked up a few Matt Carpenter cards last summer, but missed out on one of these cards.  Carpenter is one of my favorite Cardinals players at the moment.

Monday, April 13, 2015


While baseball has started up this week my two favorite teams, the Cardinals and Durham Bulls, are actually celebrating their Opening Day games this week.  Living 13 hours from St. Louis makes attending a Cardinals game a little bit tricky, but I am definitely going to the Bulls game Wednesday night.  Which got me thinking about my favorite Opening Day moment involving the Bulls.

There is a clear winner involving B.J. Upton.  Umm...Melvin.  Which makes this cool card this week's #MyCardMonday

The Opening Day involving Upton took place in 2006.  The Bulls were taking on the Toledo Mud Hens and were losing 4-1 in the 9th inning.  The team loaded the bases for B.J. and the rest is history.  I found the video clip on the Bulls MySpace page.  It still exists.  Sorry it's grainy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Secret Weapon Bobblehead

I have a few things that I am going to work on catching up on with blogging this week.  There are times when things come in the mail and I just do not get around to scanning, or taking pictures, of the item.  A few weeks, or in this case, months later I remember that I have not put an item up on my blog.  I have had the last two weeks off of school and spent a little bit of time working on putting a new shelf up in my baseball card room.  I keep autographed balls and bobbleheads on my shelves.  This set of shelves was more a necessity than plans for future purchases.  After sanding and painting I hung the shelf up and started taking the bobbles out of the boxes.  First up was this one.....

The Cardinals gave away this bobble last September.  Oquendo currently works as the Cardinals third base coach where he has worked since 1999.   Jose also spent the vast majority of his playing career with the Cardinals and was dubbed "The Secret Weapon".  Basically he was always in the line up, but 1980s Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog played him all over the place.  Hence the shin guards on the bobble.

This is a pretty easy bobble to find on Ebay and not very expensive either.  There are dozens of them for sale for around $20, but if you are patient it's not hard to win the bidding on one for less.  I like looks of this bobble and love that they put the catchers stuff on him....

The back base of the bobble has the "Secret Weapon" nickname in black, kind of hard to see, and pictures Jose in his trademark number 11 jersey.  Here's a look at the sides of the Jose Oquendo bobble...

Overall this is a really cool bobblehead to add to the collection.  While Oquendo was not the best player on the 1980s/1990s Cardinals teams he was a unique talent and had some great moments wearing the birds on the bat.  Probably my favorite of all, when it comes to Jose, is his Game 7 three run home run against the Giants in the 1987 National League Championship Series which put the Cardinals in the World Series against the Twins.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Scott Diamond

The Rays signed Scott Diamond to a contract just last week and sent him down to Durham.  Bulls fans might have seen Diamond previously with the Rochester Red Wings, Louisville Bats, or the Gwinnett Braves.  Diamond originally made it up to the Majors when the Twins made him a Rule 5 Draft Pick back in 2010.  After spending time with Rochester Diamond got 7 starts with the Twins in 2011.  He went 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA.  Not too great, but he bounced back strong in 2012.  He started 27 games that season and posted a 12-9 record with a 3.54 ERA.  His ERA+ was 116 and his walks per nine led the American League.

2013 was a step back for Diamond at 6-13 with a 5.43 ERA, 21 home runs allowed in 131 innings, and an ERA+ of 75.  He did end up back in the International League that year and had a fine 4-0 record with a 2.93 ERA.  Still the Twins ended up releasing the left handed starter who was then signed by the Reds making 2014 a split season between the Louisville Bats and Rochester.  Diamond went a combined 5-12 with a 6.57 ERA.  Not a great season.

The Rays are hoping that Diamond can regain his 2012 form with the Bulls.  Given the injuries that have struck the Rays pitching staff early this season, and some of the struggles that some of the young pitchers on the team have had, it wouldn't be surprising to see Diamond get a spot start for the Rays at some point in the year.

Cardwise Diamond has a lot of cardboard.  His rookie cards were in 2012 releases and can be found in Topps Update and Panini Prism.  The Panini card has an autographed variation to go along with all of the normal colors and different number parallels that can be found in that same.  Same for his rookie Topps Update card minus the autographed parallel.  Almost all of Diamond's rookie cards, including the Panini autograph, can be found for less than $5 shipped.

2013 is the prime year for Scott Diamond cards.  Diamond basically had an autograph in almost every major Topps product that year.  He was in the base Topps set, Gypsy Queen, Heritage, Tribute, Tier One, Turkey Red, and Allen & Ginter.  I picked up a Diamond autograph on the cheap awhile back, but the price has not really changed over the past few years.  Almost all of his signatures, brand does not matter, are all under $5.  You might have to pay some shipping that would bump some of those cards over $5, but still.....

I like the idea of having players like Diamond around.  He's got Major League experience and has won big in some of his previous Minor League stops.