Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fightin' Archives

Long ago I often tried to put together team sets of Cardinals cards from those per pack autograph sets.  I think it probably started with the 1999 SP Signature set which had a Musial autograph and also featured the hot rookie prospect of the day, J.D. Drew........

with those two crossed off the list, I was left with tracking down Fernando Tatis and the memorable Chris Haas.  Not much of challenge.  

I went on collecting Cardinals autographs like this for a long time, but at some point I started to loop back around and pick up the players' autographs who ended up on the Cardinals.  I kind of think it was probably some point around 2005 or 2006 when I was really into players like Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds.  Initially it didn't really seem like it was that hard of a challenge.  Aaron Miles, David Eckstein, Juan Encarnacion.....

They all seemed to be fairly inexpensive and easy to track down.  Then I started digging deep.  Have you ever seen a 1999 SP Signature Ron Gant?  I have seen one too, they are expensive.  They also don't pop up that often.  Do I have one?  Nope.  There are other sets where I have expanded out my collection to include players who were not in a Cardinals uniform on their card, but appeared with the team at some point during their career.  

One of my longer running efforts has been tracking down the former Cardinals players in the 2001 Topps Archives set.  Like always, some were easy to find, but others have been really hard.  

Earlier this summer I finally managed to track down a George Hendrick card from the Archives set.  I had been looking for a copy of that card for several years now, but could never find one at a price that I really wanted to pay.  It took time, but it was worth the wait.....

While I was crossing George off of my Cardinals list I also spotted a card that had inadvertently been crossed off my list of cards needed from the 2001 Archives set.  As I recall I had found this particular card at one point, bought it and crossed it off my list, and then was stiffed by the Ebay seller.  I had to double check to make sure it hadn't ended up in one of my autograph boxes in the wrong spot, but after that was ruled out, I went back and looked for another copy of the Curt Simmons autograph.

I found one.  

Now, of course I would always prefer to find cards of a former Cardinals in a uniform with the birds on the bat.  Not always possible though.  In Simmons case, there are actually Cardinals certified autographs of him, but this is a great looking card.  I know the P on his hat looks goofy and out of proportion, but everything else about this card is outstanding.  

You've got the 1951 Topps design, the cool old fashion Phillies uniform (hat doesn't bother me that much, and that cool painted/art card look that appeared on many early 1950s Topps cards.  I am not sure how many times Topps has reprinted different players 1951 Topps cards, but I like that in the 2001 Archives set they used the actual same design, but just left the facsimile signature out of the box in favor of the autograph.  

Most of all I like the Fightin' Phils logo down at the top of the player name plate.  I know that there are people who think that some of the older logos look ridiculous, but I wish teams would bring them back every once in awhile.  Sure the Fightin' Phils logo looks like it might have been designed by a high school kid....

Which brings me to Simmons and the Cardinals.  He was traded over the Cardinals during the 1960 season and had some very good seasons with the Cardinals culminating in helping the 1964 team comeback to overtake the Phillies and defeat the Yankees in the World Series.  Pretty nice player on a very nice piece of cardboard.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Jose DeLeon? Have We Met Before?

Many of the Cardinals teams from my early teen and high school years were fairly hard to watch.  Yet, I still really enjoy collecting many of the players from those teams.  My favorite Cardinals player to collect, Ray Lankford, played the majority of his career during that time.  The talent level on those teams was generally lean, but every once in awhile someone would stop by for a season. Danny Jackson, Andres Galarraga, Gregg Jefferies, and Tom Henke were just a few All-Star caliber player who were subject to the cheapness of August Busch III.

No post of Gregg Jefferies to link to?  I'm on it.

While there were a few good players here and there on those early 1990s Cardinals teams, the vast majority of the roster was filled with all sorts of cast offs.  Who remembers Denny Walling or Dave Collins on the Cardinals?  Darnell Coles?  All bad.

There were some cast offs who faired well with those Cardinals teams.  Bob Tewksbury would probably be the best of the bunch.  He had some rough years with the Cubs and Yankees before landing with the Cardinals.  His 1992 season was downright Maddux-like.  Not joking.  One of the other somewhat successful cast offs was former Pirate and White Sox Jose DeLeon.  

The Cardinals acutally got Jose during the late 80s, his time in St. Louis just spilled over into the early 90s.  

Jose's Cardinals career started out well.  During his first two seasons he won 30 games, finished third in strikeouts in the National League behind and David Cone and Nolan Ryam, and then led the league in Ks the following season in 1989.  DeLeon played three more seasons with the Cardinals and he won 14 games.  That included a 19 loss season, the second of his career, and a season where he won 5 games in 32 starts with an 2.71, or basically Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, or Jose Rijo minus about ten runs.  

Always felt kind of bad for Jose, better teams would have definitely landed him a few more career wins, a little bit better legacy too.  Perhaps if the White Sox could have traded him elsewhere....then I would have missed out on having Jose in my stacks of Cardinals cards.  

Speaking of trades and Jose DeLeon, a brand new player named Jose DeLeon has entered my life, and card collection via a trade.  This new Jose DeLeon came over to the Rays from the Dodgers this past off season.  He's spent some time in Durham, but has really spent most of this season sitting on the disabled list.  Still hasn't stopped me from picking up a few of his cards recently.  

First up is a 2016 Bowman Inception autograph.  I always really loved the Inception brand and have picked up a ton of these cards over the years.  I like the coloring and background on this card, love that it's an on card signature too.  Pretty popular card last year since DeLeon was a Top 100 prospect in most of those publications with top prospect lists.....

I really wanted a Rays autograph of the new Jose DeLeon, but Topps is still putting him in Dodgers uniforms.  In fact, I am pretty sure that he has about twenty Dodgers autographs this year and one Rays autograph.  I ended up with another Dodgers autograph because it looked like this......

Inception was actually switched over from Topps from Bowman this year, they are the same company, but the cards still look really nice.  I kind of dig the lighter backgrounds on this year's set.  I will have to get a Rays Jose DeLeon card sooner than later, in the meantime I hope to see him back on the field sooner than later.  Hope this Jose DeLeon can fair a little better than the other Jose DeLeon in my collection.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Fine Player From The Bull City

Most of my college basketball cards are NC State players, but I picked up an autograph of a local legend this past weekend.  I am not sure quite where John Lucas would rate as a high school player statewide in North Carolina against the likes of Michael Jordan and David Thompson, but I would guess he's got to be pretty high up there.

Lucas starred at Hillside High School in Durham and his jersey is retired there along with former Wake Forest star Rodney Rogers.

Thanks to the internet for the picture.  What in the world is on the display case?  Sigh.  High school kids.  Lucas went on to star at Maryland in college and made the All-American team three teams, first team his junior and senior years, second team during his sophomore year.  His great college career earned him a spot in one of Fleer's Greats sets which featured college basketball players.

Here is the Lucas card featuring the Bull City native in his Terps uniform.

One interesting thing I learned about Lucas while doing a little research for this post is that he was actually the ACC Men's Singles Tennis Champion twice during his college career and made an All-American team along the way too.  He even played a little professional tennis in his spare time on top of his NBA career.  

Lucas had a fourteen year NBA career and has also spent time coaching.  He averaged 10 points per game for his career.  Not really a huge NBA guy, which is why I chose to get a copy of Lucas in his NBA jersey.  Really I would have loved to have found a card of Lucas wearing a Hillside High School jersey, but apparently there is no such card.  Maryland it is.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 61

I have been looking for a card for a Project Durham Bulls post the last few weeks.  It's a little different set of cards for me, more in the vintage football card department.  Not my usual.  I ended up finding the card, but along the way I found a few other cards of the former Durham Bulls player and manager.  Kind of excited about the whole thing and I learned something new along the way.

Let me introduce you to Clarence "Ace" Parker.  He was the star athlete at Duke University in the mid 1930s.  He played football, basketball, and baseball for the Blue Devils.  Football was his best sport.  In 1935 he was second team All-American.  In 1936 he was a consensus All-American and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.  

In 1937 Parker ended up playing baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics and football for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  His career in professional baseball was extremely short lived.  In two seasons, 1937 and 1938, he played roughly 100 games and batted just .179 with 2 home runs.  While his professional baseball career was less than notable, his professional football career landed him in the Professional Football Hall of Fame.  He played a total of 7 seasons in the NFL, missing 1941-1944 to serve in the Army, and was one of the best passers, runners, and punters in the league.  In 1940 he was the NFL MVP.  

So how does he get to the Durham Bulls?  

After he retired from professional football Parker joined the Chicago Cubs Piedmont League entry in Portsmouth, Virginia as a player.  He spent three years with the Baby Bears Minor League team before returning to Durham to become a player-manager for the Bulls, who were the Tigers Piedmont League team at that time.  He ended up spending 4 seasons with the Bulls before he got the head baseball coaching job at Duke.  

Now, the only baseball item I have really found of Parker are a few random baseballs and a Durham Bulls matchbook from the early 1950s.  I am not really sure how authentic the baseballs are and I am not really digging the whole match book thing.  Which has brought me to track down a football card of the former Durham Bulls manager.  

I found my autograph of Parker for my Durham Bulls post, but I actually ended up picking up an extra card through the whole thing.  I ended up trading with a life long Duke fan who lives locally, loves some of the older college athletes who played nearby, and has a pretty cool collection of some of these players. 

I ended up with this 1975 Fleer Immortal Roll Call card of Ace Parker as an extra.  

The card has a crease, but cannot really complain about free cards ever.   Since I am not really much of football card guy, I am not sure how much I can really tell you about this card outside of the year and manufacturer.   I am pretty sure that the picture is from his days in the NFL, but I am not certain as to what NFL team this would have been back in the 1930s or 1940s.  I have seen a few Duke things with him wearing number 7, but I think they are pictures that people just colored in blue.  Most of the Duke athletics pictures show him with a 34 jersey.  

Definitely a different type of card for my collection that made me step out of my comfort zone a bit to find and track down.  I cannot wait to share the Ace Parker autograph with everyone in the next week or two.  

Darryl Porter. I Mean Darrell Porter.

I like to glance through the Topps Vault page over on Ebay every once in awhile to see if I can find a cool Cardinals or Durham Bulls card.  I have kind of moved on from some of the blank back cards that come out of current releases that I used to pick up the last few years.  No regrets in many cases about owning some cool one of a kind cards of players I really like, especially some of the ones that do not get a ton of cards made.  My blank back Taylor Motter might be one of my favorites....

Pretty sure I never even made a post about this card.  Motter is one of the universally beloved players amongst Durham Bulls fans.  I was so happy to pick up this card.  More recently I have really turned my focus on finding 1980s and 1990s Cardinals stuff on the Topps Vault.  Recently I came across one of the great Postseason actors in Cardinals history.  

1982 World Series MVP Darrell Porter.  

I have bought a few of the photo proof card in the past and really enjoyed go through the different Topps products from that year to match them up to a specific card in a specific set.  For example, I ended up with a Willie McGee photo proof card a few years back.....

which was listed on the Topps Vault Ebay Store as being from 1990.  The photo does not match his 1990 Topps base card....

but it might have been used for his Topps Big card.  Maybe.  

In any case, it was definitely used for his Topps Fan Favorites card in 2003.  

I was looking forward to taking in the same sort of trek with the Darrell Porter card.  Based on the photo posted on the Ebay Store I already had a good idea of where the search was going to take me.  It's not like there were a ton of 1984 Darrell Porter cards.  Here was the listing picture....

It looks a lot like the small corner picture on Porter's 1984 Topps card....

I started collecting in 1983, but 1984 was the first year that I collected the entire year with a realistic chance at assembling an entire set of cards.  I love the design of these cards and they still rank as one of my favorite sets of all-time.  

Well, the package arrived and the photo proof was actually a little disappointing.   It's a teeny tiny little photo of the former catcher.  Maybe because it's a small picture on the card?  I've never tried to mass produce my own baseball card set, so I am not entirely sure why the picture is so small.....

Your guess is as good as mine.  The best part of the card actually ended up being a Topps Company envelope that was stuffed into the package.  

I am not sure what the 1 23/32 number in the corner is exactly, but the 285 is Darrell/Darryl/Daryl's card number in the 1984 Topps set.  I guess this could also be the O-Pee-Chee proof since the top of the envelope has the OPC letter at the top, but the O Pee Chee card is just the same as the Topps card with the exception of the logo?

Anyway, I guess I have a tiny picture of Darrell Porter and a cool Topps envelope where someone could not spell his first name the correct way.  Glad there was someone editing something at Topps back then.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #19 - Jerry Sands

2014 Durham Bulls 

Sands is actually a local player from Smithfield, North Carolina.  He played his high school baseball at Smithfield-Selma and then played for Catawba College afterwards.  The Dodgers drafted Sands in the 25th Round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.  He made his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2011 playing in 61 games and posting .253/.338/.389 with 4 home runs, 15 doubles, and 26 RBIS.  He split time between the Dodgers and Triple A in 2012.  After the season he was shipped to the Red Sox in the James Loney for Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez trade.  The Red Sox turned him around to the Pirates a few months later.  At the end of the 2013 season Sands was claimed by the Rays and ended up in Durham playing for the Bulls.  His tenure in Durham lasted just 54 games with the local favorite hitting .268/.352/.474 with 9 home runs, 12 doubles, and 36 RBIs.  He did eventually end up in Tampa for a few weeks, but was claimed by the Indians coming back through waivers.  Sands has bounced around since, but did get back to the Majors last year with the White Sox.  His 2017 has been split between the Giants Double A team in Richmond and Somerset in the Atlantic League.

I feel like half of the baseball card related posts that I read over the summer were of collectors driving around to Wal Marts looking for boxes of Bowman Platinum.  They look like they are probably nice cards, I do see some sticker autographs in there, but I am a huge fan of the original 2010 release.  There were stickers in the 2010 version of Platinum too, but I really like the design of these cards.  Like any Bowman product, at the time it was released bunches of people went gaga over a bunch of the autographs, but over time many have wained.  I don't remember Sands ever really being that huge of a prospect at the time this set released.  Certainly is not at this point, but it's cool to add another autograph to my Durham Bulls collection.  Especially one of a local player.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Still A Really Good College Player.....

I live twenty minutes from NC State, thirty minutes from Duke and UNC, ninety minutes from Wake Forest and East Carolina.  There are a few other Division I school within that radius like Campbell, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte, Elon, and probably some other school that I am not thinking of at the moment.  

There are plenty of great college athletes around these parts who end up playing professional sports.  In the past few months residents of the Triangle, that's the North Carolina nickname for Raleigh-Durham, have seen high end draft picks in the NFL in the person of Mitch Trubisky......

or in the NBA draft with Jayson Tatum.....

and Dennis Smith Jr.......

or in the Major League Draft with J.B. Bukauskas.....

There are also plenty of other local players who were fun to watch while they were in college, but they never really experience much notoriety at the professional level.  One of my favorite NC State basketball players who was there while I was in college was Courtney Fells.  He had some injury problems that made him miss some time, but overall he was a great athlete and really fun to watch.  He made tons of really cool plays like this defensive stop against Duke.....

and Courtney could always dunk.  He was fun to watch in the open court.....

Yes, that was off of a Steph Curry airball.  

Beyond all of the local North Carolina schools having some great talent come through the area, it's also fun to watch all of the other schools in the ACC, or other power five conference, come into town to play their games.  Just like the North Carolina schools, there are plenty of superstar caliber players who go on to enjoy success in professional sports and others who were fun to watch in college, but just don't really go anyway afterwards......

One of my favorite baseball players who fits into the later category, great college player/shaky professional, is actually playing locally this summer for the Brewers A Ball team in the Carolina League.  I first saw former Louisville outfielder Corey Ray while he was playing summer ball with the USA Baseball College team a few summers back.  Seemed like a nice player.  He also appeared locally while playing against NC State, Duke, UNC, and for the ACC Tournament.  The tournament is held at the Durham Bulls stadium.  

The Brewers drafted Ray high in the first round in 2016.  In almost 150 games, Ray has hit .241/.315/.376 with 11 home runs, 5 triples, and 37 doubles.  The extra base hits aren't actually that bad, but that slash line is ugly.  Anyway, all of it has caused some slippage in the price of Corey Ray cards which were a little pricy after he drafted.  

I recently actually picked one of his autographed cards out of last year's Bowman's Best.....

There are several things that I really like about this card.  First, I like the Bowman's Best cards.  Pretty nice design, clean spaces for the players to sign, and a nice on-card signature from the Brewers outfield prospect.  I also the fact that he included his number 2 on the card.  He's wearing that number in the Minors this season, but there is no guarantee that he will have that number once he gets to Milwaukee.  

There is still time for Ray to pull it together, get the Majors, and be a good player.  If he never gets there though, he was still a really good college player.