Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 57

This past week saw the NBA Draft come and go.  There were several NC State in the draft, but the only one who had a legitimate shot at getting drafted was Dennis Smith Jr.  In a normal year, where there are not half a dozen point guards amongst the top players in the draft, it's likely that he would have gone higher in the draft than 9th to the Mavericks.

I like the idea of Smith going to the Mavs.  The Mavs have been down the last year or two, but I figure that Mark Cuban is the type of owner who isn't going to let his team slip too far down the NBA food chain.  While I am not an huge basketball card collector, I have started adding cards of former NC State players the last year or two.  I am excited to add to my Dennis Smith collection which currently stands at just one.  

This is the one, it appeared in a post two weeks ago.  

The whole Dennis Smith draft excitement got me thinking a few weeks ago about other high NC State draft picks.  There is the obvious David Thompson pick from the 1970s who was the first overall pick in both the ABA and NBA drafts.  He was not on the Flint Tropics.  So, besides that the highest NBA draft pick out of NC State was this guy.....

Googs was drafted sixth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1992 NBA Draft after averaging more than 22 points a game with 10 rebounds during his senior year in Raleigh.  He wasn't a great pro by any means, but a 16 season career with 13 points per game, including two over 20, has to be at least deemed as solid.  

So, I didn't have a Gugliotta autograph until a week or so ago when I found this gem for next to nothing.  

Seems like a pretty cool card, makes me miss Upper Deck baseball cards a little bit.  I used to love the SP Authentic sets and the autographs.  I have picked up a ton of them over the years.  The basketball versions look pretty nice too.  On card autographs, nice spaces for the players to sign, and classic Upper Deck design.  

I also looked around to see if he had any NC State autographs, but I could not find any.  Considering that card companies have gone back to make autographed cards of Vinny Del Negro and Spud Webb in Wolfpack uniforms I was hoping I could find a Gugliotta.  Besides, I am not sure I have seen Spud or Vinny at a State game recently, Googs still goes and he had that one run in with Karl Hess......

North Carolina is a basketball crazy state, and there is much that fans of the big 4 ACC schools can find to argue about, we are all in agreement that Karl Hess is/was a horrible referee.  The ACC actually canned him a year or two ago for a rather nasty incident at a Wake Forest game.  

More basketball cards later in the week.  

I Wish You Were A Cardinal....Part 2

I have already spent a little bit of time on Joe McEwing this week, so I am not going to rehash the whole thing with Cardinals and and the former utility player.  There is a little history with Cardinals utility players popping up in Archives sets.  One of the coolest autographs that Topps has put into this product in recent years were the Jose Oquendo cards which were in the 2012 set.

Oquendo was dubbed "The Secret Weapon" because he was always somewhere in the lineup, but Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog played him all over the place.

So when Oquendo signed for the 2012 set they included nine different variations for his autograph, one for each of the positions that he played during his career.  That's all of them.

McEwing's entry into the Archives set isn't quite as cool as Oquendo's entry into the Archives set for two reasons.  First, there are not nine different variations of the McEwing card.  "Super Joe" also never really played all nine positions though, so I can live with that one.  Second, the McEwing Archives autograph features him as a Met.

and the back of the card too.  

While a McEwing card with him in a Cardinals uniform would have fit my collection better, he actually spent the majority of his career with the Mets.  Still happy to have this card and also really surprised that Topps even made a McEwing autograph.  Very cool card.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

I Wish You Were A Cardinal....Part 1

Edgar Renteria spent almost half of his playing career wearing the birds on the bat.  He was in St. Louis for a total of six season which included the best season of his career in 2003 when he hit .330/.394.480 with 13 home runs, 100 RBIs, 47 doubles, and 34 stolen bases.  Yet, the average baseball fan, when asked about Renteria would probably bring up two things.

This from the 1997 World Series.....

and then at the other end of his career in 2010 he had this home run for the Giants in the 2010 World Series.....

Both were great moments in Renteria's career, but I obviously prefer his time in St. Louis.  He did not have the postseason heroics with the Cardinals that he had in other places, but he was still a really good player on some of the best Tony LaRussa managed teams.

One of my favorite moments of his time in St. Louis was this grand slam off of Mark Prior.  

When I heard that Edgar Renteria was going to be in Topps products this year I was naturally excited.  My heart sank a little bit when I saw he was going to be a Marlin on his Topps Archives card, but I was still more than happy to go out and try to find a copy of his autograph.  He was never a great signer and has a really limited number of certified autographs.  

This is the front of his Topps Archives autograph.......

It's a 2001 design, Edgar was a Cardinal that year, but we get a Marlins picture.  Hmm.  Renteria's signature has also regressed a little bit over the last decade plus since he last signed some baseball cards.  Still, I am happy with the card regardless of the signature quality.  

Back of the card.....

which shows all of Edgar's playing stats.  Some pretty nice numbers there at different points in his career.  He really bounced around a lot after leaving the Cardinals for the Red Sox.  Card wise, Topps did a really good job of getting the small details right on the backs of these cards.  The stock is a little different, but the rest of the back is a perfect recreation.  They even got the Topps 50th Anniversary logo up at the top of the card in between the player name and picture.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Wish You Were An Expo

I am not going to put together an Archives set for this year, but I am on the look out for a few of the autographs.  I picked up a few the other week from my favorite case breaker and will be sharing them over the next few days.  A whole bunch of Cardinal types, but I am going to start out by sharing a non-Cardinal.

Most people who were around for the 90s probably best remember Mark Langston as a member of the Angels.  If you were around for the 80s you probably also remember him as a Mariner.  Langston had a few other stops in his career outside of Seattle and Anaheim, many of which happened at the end of his career, but there was also one year with the Expos in the middle of his time in the Majors.  He traded from the Mariners to the Expos for some prospect named Randy Johnson.  Fair prospect.

I saw Mark Langston as an Expo.  I also saw him as a Padre, but that's for another day, if not a completely missable post topic.  I never saw him in person as an Angel, but here I am with a Mark Langston Angels card out of this year's Topps Archives set.....

I didn't really have a choice in teams, but I wish this was an Expos card.  Sure, the 1990s Angels had those three cool left handed starters: Langston, Chuck Finley, and Jim Abbott.  Still, who doesn't want more Expos cards?  I have never heard anyone say, "I am so tired of all these Expos cards" 

At least the back of the card mentions the Expos in his career stats.....

There it is near the top of the yearly stats.  That Padres year is also in there.  Pretty sure I saw one of the 4 wins against the Cardinals on my 21st birthday.  Topps should get some kudos here for making a nice 1992 Topps card.  I like the 1992 set, but you know what else was around in 1992?  The Expos.  I wish this was an Expos card.  I will wish some other card was some other team tomorrow night, or maybe Friday.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #16: Ken Singleton

1968 Raleigh-Durham Mets 

I always place Ken Singleton as an Orioles player or as a commentator on the Yankees YES Network.   However, Ken Singleton actually started his career with the Mets which took him through Durham in 1968.  He actually spent most of the year with the Visalia Mets in the California League, but spent the last part of the season, just 26 games, with the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  The Mets renamed the team "Mets" and actually originated the crazy idea to have the team split their home games between Durham Athletic Park in Durham and Devereaux Meadows in Raleigh.  Singleton posted a .257/.466/.419 line with just three home runs.  A year later Singleton was in Double A and by 1970 he was on the Mets.  At the beginning of his career Singleton was involved in two pretty high profile trades.  First, he went from the Mets to the Expos in exchange for Rusty Staub, also a former Durham Bulls player.  He was then traded with Mike Torrez to the Orioles for Dave McNally and Rich Coggins.  Singleton ended up spending the next 10 years with the Orioles playing more than 1,500 games with a .284/.388/.445 line with 182 home runs, 235 doubles, and an OPS+ of 135.  He was a key player on the 1983 World Series Championship team and ended his career in the top 20 Orioles players in terms of WAR ranking just behind Frank Robinson.  

The 2004 Upper Deck Yankees Signature Series set has a ton of different players who had something to do with the Bronx Bombers.  While I would love to have an Orioles Ken Singleton autograph, this card cost me next to nothing.  Perhaps this will be a card that I do a little upgrade on in the future.  Anyway, it still a nice card with a great on-card signature.  It's also cool to add my first Raleigh-Durham Mets card to my Project Durham Bulls cards.  There were actually some really good players on the two Bulls...err...Mets....teams that were here in the late 1960s.  I believe that might also be my first announcer card too.  I have a Jack Buck autograph floating around somewhere in a box in my card collection, but he never had an autographed baseball card.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 56

Joe McEwing might be the most popular Cardinals player who only spent a season with the team.  He was actually on the team for a few games in 1998 and then played the entire 1999 season in St. Louis.    His overall career numbers as a Cardinals player don't look all that impressive for a player as popular as "Super Joe".  Over 162 games with the birds on the bat McEwing his .272/.330/.392 with 9 home runs, 29 doubles, and 45 RBIs.   If you think of his time with the Cardinals being equal to roughly one season's worth of games, that stat line is kind of very ho hum.  

Yet, during the summer of 1999 some of the most popular baseball cards around St. Louis were anything with the Cardinals second baseman.  He might have even been on a few of those ridiculous Beckett Hot List things.  So hot right now, or back then....

One of my favorites was McEwing's 1999 Upper Deck Ultimate Victory card.  While many Cardinals fans were trying to chase down the baseball card of Rick Ankiel from the same set, McEwing came close to catching up to the hard throwing pitching prospect in terms of popularity during the first half of the summer.  That's saying a lot considering Ankiel was long regarded as a high ceiling prospect while McEwing was more of an organizational depth kind of player.  Here is a look at the Super Joe Ultimate Victory card.....

That shiny surface on the scanner though.  

Anyway, what made McEwing popular?  How did he end up as a utility player on the Mets?  So, first half of the 1999 season McEwing hit .305/.350/.418 with 4 home runs, 3 triples, and 19 doubles.  Second half of the year McEwing his .223/.303/.363 with 5 home runs, 1 triple, and 9 doubles.  Kind of a steep drop off.  At the end of the season, McEwing ended up getting traded to the Mets for Jesse Orosco. Orosco's Cardinals career lasted all of 6 games in 2000.  

McEwing ended up on the Mets for a few years and a stop over with the Royals.  While McEwing was a bench player for almost his entire career, his half a season made a lasting impression in St. Louis that has never quite gone away.   

While this card is no longer on any sort of published hot list, it's still kind of a cool old card to take out and look at every once in awhile.  More McEwing later this week.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jumbo World Series Hero

It seems like every Postseason there is some sort of player who unexpectedly comes out of nowhere and has a huge impact on the outcome of the World Series.  Last season Cubs fans watched Kyle Schwarber come back from what was supposed to be a season ending knee injury to bat .412 in the World Series.  His presence in the line-up seemed to give the Cubs a little extra.

Pretty good hitting there for a guy who was supposed to not even appear in the Series.  

As a Cardinals fan I have seen players make similar contributions to the team's postseason runs in recent years.  Matt Adams hitting a three run home run off of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Carpenter battling through long at at-bats, Michael Wacha pitching shut outs, the entire line-up in the 2012 NLDS against the Nationals including light hitting Pete Kozma getting the series clinching hit....

and every Cardinals fans favorite hometown hero from the 2011 World Championship winning team, third baseman, David Freese.  He actually had an incredible playoff run throughout that postseason including the series against the Phillies and the Brewers.  Everyone just remembers the 9th inning on in Game 6....

and what of the Cardinals playoff run in 2006?  Many remember the Tigers throwing the ball all over the field littering the box scores with tons of errors and cold bats after clinching the AL Pennant and sitting around for a week.  Many also remember the final out of the series being recorded by long-time Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright when the normal closer Jason Isringhausen went down with an injury.....

I often feel like the player from that 2006 squad who often flies under the radar is pitcher Jeff Weaver, who was picked up by the Cardinals in a trade with the Angels after he lost his job to his brother Jared.  Weaver's regular season with the Cardinals was not much to write home about, but he excelled on the postseason stage that fall for the Redbirds.  He saved his best performance for the World Series clincher in Game 5 when he pitched 8 innings with one run, 4 hits, and 9 strikeouts.  

One of the better single season turn arounds in the history of the franchise.  There aren't many baseball cards to remember Weaver's brief stint with the Cardinals by, but a few of them are really sweet cards.  My favorite up to this point has been his 2007 Topps World Series Relic card.  

This Weaver card was put out at a time when Topps did not make a Postseason relic card for every single team that made the playoffs.  They have done that the last few years and they have made them pretty common cards.  The older versions, starting with the White Sox in 2005, are really tough finds.  
Which brings me to my latest Jeff Weaver card.  I still like the World Series better, but this is a nice card too.....

This card is from the 2009 Topps Unique set, which had a terrible base set, but a great set of relic cards.  I picked up a Anthony Reyes jumbo relic card from this set early this year, but I did not have a Weaver card.  A very nice patch piece too which is the top of the L......

the top of the s and the tail feathers of the Cardinal sitting on the bat.  I am sure there are probably better patch pieces out there, but I am also sure that most of those have made there way into collections and they are not coming back out.