Saturday, September 19, 2020

From The Company That Brought You The Oreo Cookie, Comes Canadian Baseball Cards

Nabisco makes some really good stuff.  

There is the Oreo Cookie, Ritz Crackers, Chips Ahoy!, and Fig Newtons just to name a few.  

Nabisco also made baseball cards.  I know a lot of collectors don't like the off-brand food cards from the 1990s for the same reasons that they do not like the current run of Panini cards.  The logos are airbrushed out on the players uniforms.  

I generally agree, but it's Nabisco.  I put them ahead of Panini because of their delicious snack foods, but they also they also make a much better baseball card.  Nabisco has come up with some quality cards in the past.  Logos or not, the 1993 All-Star Legends autograph set has a really strong checklist.  Honestly, I don't care that Don Drysdale doesn't have a Dodgers logo.  I don't care that they made the Dodger blue a little darker.  This is a great card.  

Well, in my quest to find some cards of former Durham Bulls players this summer, I ran across several who appeared in a Nabisco set from Canada.   The set is called Nabisco Tradition.  No word on whether Fleer ripped off the name from Nabisco later in the 1990s when they rebranded their base set.  I am a little unclear on all the details behind the product, but there are a total of 36 cards in the set that is divided evenly between Expos  and Blue Jays players.  All of the cards featured players from previous Expos and Blue Jays teams, no current members of the teams were included.  

As far as the Durham Bulls cards that I picked up, there were three cards in all.  Each a name the average baseball fan from the 1970s and 1980s would recognize.  The two appeared for the Bulls in the 1960s, the other in 1970. 

Let's look at the cards.  

The lone Blue Jay in my trio will be first.  

Not always a fan of "cartoon" cards, but these are really well done.  I am impressed that the card designer was able to squeeze the notable accomplishment of Cliff Johnson onto the front of the card in both English and French.  A little busy, but not too bad.  

Back of the card, also in French and English.  

Cliff Johnson was on the Blue Jays at the end of his career, which was in the mid 1980s.  I remember getting his cards as a kid.  Always on the Blue Jays, maybe a Rangers card or two in there too.  He appeared on the Durham Bulls while the team was in their weird late 1960s/early 1970s phase.  By weird, I mean Cliff Johnson actually played for the Raleigh-Durham Triangles.  

If you are unfimiliar with this area, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up the Triangle.  Raleigh-Durham is actually an airport that is halfway between Raleigh and Durham.  Renaming the Durham Bulls the Raleigh-Durham Triangles would be like renaming the Yankees the LaGuardia Big Apples.  


Anyway, since moving to North Carolina, I have learned a little more about Cliff Johnson's baseball career.  I always assumed he was some bench player who occasionally hit home runs based on the baseball cards of my childhood.  It turns out Cliff Johnson was a catcher, first baseman, and DH who won two World Series with the Yankees in the late 1970s before he became a pinch hitting home run hitter.  

By the way, Matt Stairs passed Cliff Johnson as the all-time pinch-hit home run leader, but it took him almost an extra 200 plate appearances to get there.  


Favorite thing on this card is that the artist has Rusty Staub choking up on the bat.  Small detail, but something I learned about him when he passed away a few years back.  Not really surprising that he is in this set focused on older Expos players.  He had some great seasons during the 1960s and 1970s, several in Montreal, also really popular with Expos fans.  

Back of the card.  

I like that there is an explanation of the Expos logo. 

Staub appeared for the Durham Bulls in 1962 after the Houston Astros drafted him out of high school.  He was the Carolina League MVP that season.  The Bulls had Joe Morgan pass through town the following season, and the team retired his jersey.  Wish the team would do something similar for Staub.  At least give him a bobblehead.  

Last card.  

This is the part of the post where I advertise something.  

Do you like podcasts?  

I like baseball podcasts, started listening to them about two years ago.  One of my favorites is Baseball Beyond Batting Average.  Basically, it's two knowledgable baseball fans talking about all things baseball with a heavy lean on numbers.  If you don't like statistics, you're a big fan of the game-winning RBI, it's probably not going to be your cup of tea.  

Even if you don't decide to listen to the podcast, the two guys who make the Podcast have great baseball card related accounts on Twitter.  One is Baseball Card Backs and the other is IDrawBaseballCards.  

The last episode of Baseball Beyond Batting Average was all about underrated players from the 1970s.  They did a great job of picking out two players at each position who need a little more appreciation for their career numbers.  They won me over at Gene Tenace, but Ken Singleton also came up as one of those players.  I completely agree, more people should pay attention to Ken Singleton.  Not sure you could convince me he's a Hall of Famer, but he's at worst in the Hall of Very Good Players.  Maybe if he were playing today, with the heavier slant on advanced stats, more people would appreciate him.  

Singleton briefly played for the Durham Bulls.  (Checks notes)  

Singleton briefly played for the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  

He also had three great years playing with the Expos in the early 1970s.  Singleton was originally on the Mets, but was traded to Montreal for Rusty Staub early in his career.  Apparently he set the team RBI record in 1973.  You learn something new everyday.  

The artist did a good job with the details on this card.  The old 1970s Expos uniform has a lot of good and accurate detail, along with Singleton have the giant sideburns.  

The back would be better if they had included a fact that had something to do with Ken Singleton.  He was not on the Expos in 1978, so he did not hit one of the 8 home runs against the Braves during that game.  If Nabisco can come up with a Cliff Johnson specific highlight, they can come up with something for Ken Singleton.  

More 1970s Durham Bulls next week.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

4th Post In A Week

I am on a roll.  

When I last left you, I was telling all about all the cheap Durham Bulls cards that I found over the summer.  Lots of old players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but there were also a few more recent players mixed in as well.  Tonight, I thought I'd share a few cards of two players who were on the Bulls roughly 10-15 years ago.  

First, one quick card from 2020.  Also a former Durham Bulls player, which is why I am putting this card in the post.  

Another Kirby Yates card.  I believe he was in another one of the four posts that I made in the past week.  Some of these Topps brands are really running together these days in terms of appearance and design.  Card from an expensive box with a sticker autograph.  

Someone was probably really irked that they spent $300 and they walked away with a Kirby Yates card that I bought for $7.99 on Ebay.   

Onto some older players from the Durham Bulls.  

First up is Elijah Dukes.  Don't go look him up.  There is nothing there that you want to see.  I was excited to find these cards this summer.  Here is my quick run down on Elijah.  

The first year I lived in Durham for baseball season was 2006.  I actually moved to North Carolina in 2005, but missed out on baseball season.  The 2006 Bulls team was loaded was talent.  You might know Delmon Young, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, and James Shields.  The International League MVP Kevin Witt was also on the team.  Elijah Dukes was just as good as anyone else in that group.  Baseball America considered him a Top 100 Prospect.  

He was fast and could hit for power.  A star football player in high school who was learning to play baseball, and did some pretty incredible stuff at times.  

Elijah had some off the field issues and was eventually traded to the Nationals.  In Washington, he ran himself out of the league with a bunch of other off the field incidents.  Sadly, Elijah is still fighting the war so to speak.  

I still remember him as a tremendous talent.  I loved collecting his cards the first year or two he was in the league, and found two this summer that I did not own.  

This is a Finest Rookie Redemption card.  Always a nice group of prospects included in these cards, sometimes they do not pan out though.   The 2007 was hit or miss.  Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, and Tim Lincecum are in there.  So are Elijah Dukes and Akinori Iwamura.  

Last Elijah Dukes card is from the 10th Anniversary set of Allen & Ginter that came out in 2015.  There were buybacks of old cards that were stamped with the words "10th Anniversary Issue".  Nice looking cards.  I found a copy of Elijah's 2007 rookie.  

Final Durham Bulls player for this post.  

Desmond Jennings was a Top 20 prospect.  He was a great Triple A player, solid Major League player.  In the Minors he walked almost as much as he struck out, and never more than 80 Ks in a Minor League season.  While he was playing on the Rays, he struck out more than 100 times every full season in the Majors, and only walked more than 50 times once.  

Sometimes players don't work out they way you think.  Injuries finished off his career.  

I enjoyed his time in Durham, collecting his cards, and was missing this card from the 2011 Triple A All-Star Game.  It took place in Salt Lake City.  Probably why I did not get the set.  

I love the back of this card.  You don't get many Minor League cards with colored backs.  

Last card, same picture as the previous one.  

This is from the International League Top Prospects set.  Same card manufacturer as the card above.  Guess they saved some money on pictures.  That red striped shirt in the background makes it really obvious.  

Nice little write up on the back of the card about Desmond Jennings.  

Maybe the Durham Bulls players from the 1960s and 1970s in my next post.  

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Just 10,000 COPIES!!!!

You haven't had to waste time going to a retail store over the summer to know that the card aisle is completely picked over at the moment.  Maybe you have been and seen the empty shelves and stacks of unsold MLB Sticker Albums with your own eyes.  Maybe you've seen photos of the empty card aisle on Twitter or in card groups on Facebook.  Maybe you've seen people selling their $20 Topps Series 2 blasters online for $50.  

It's pretty crazy out there.  

Meanwhile, I have been sitting here collecting other things besides 2020 Topps cards over the summer.  I just haven't made good time or progress with posting the cards that I have added, which stinks because I am doing a really good job with one of my beginning of the year goals.  

My three collecting goals were:

1. No New Sets From Packs  
2. More Cardinals and Durham Bulls single cards 
3. More Posts About Sorting Cards 

I will save my full performance review for the end of the year, but I am doing incredible on the Durham Bulls part of goal 2.  I know, if you read my blog you're probably thinking that you've seen plenty of Rays players on this page who used to play in Durham a year or two ago.  That's every other post.  


I have not only done well with find the Michael Brosseau and Kirby Yates cards this summer, I have also loaded up on all sorts of fifty-cent and quarter cards of older Durham Bulls players.  The kind of players you don't have to go look up on Baseball Reference or ESPN because they're not weird three outcome super utility players on the Rays.  

I have a few new cards to share today that mostly fit my title, "ONLY 10,000 COPIES".  

Be excited.   

Do you remember the first serial numbered cards in your collection?  I am not exactly sure which was my first, but I do remember the 1994 Leaf Limited cards being amongst the first in my collection.  They were so exclusive that even the boxes the packs were in had a serial numbered.  I bought a pack or two of these, but you weren't guaranteed a serial numbered card in each pack. 

I ended up with a few of them, almost all Cardinals.  Not pulled from a pack.  

Just 10,000 copies!  

The Cardinals were terrible in 1994.  I could wait until someone else pulled one and get the Cardinals cards when they ended up in the $0.50 box at my local card shop.

So, one of my summer Durham Bulls pick-ups was a copy of the 1994 Leaf Limited David Justice card.  He played for the Bulls during the 1986 season.  Good looking card.  

The back of the card.  

Just 10,000 copies.  

Serious, these were awesome cards in 1994.  Way cooler than any Luis Robert card that you could pull out of Topps Series 2.  Although, Luis Robert is a really good player.  David Justice was too.  Luis Robert is just 294 home runs behind him.  

What's better than one card numbered to 10,000?  

If you were thinking, "Two cards numbered to 10,000", you are correct.  I will even stick with David Justice.  

Look at the top of the card.  It says 23 KT.  This card quite possibly cost me my entire paycheck, or the equivalent of two hot dogs on dollar hot dog night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  This card is from the 1992 Bleachers David Justice set, which featured three cards of Justice each numbered to 10,000.  One Justice card showed him in a Braves uniform, another as a member of the Greensville Braves, and this one on the Durham Bulls.  

That jersey is pretty sweet.  That's got to be a throwback jersey of some kind.  

Back of the card.  

Just 10,000 copies.  

Three things stand out on the back of this card.

1. That dog next to the word "BATS".  Why is that there?  

2. "World's Largest Manufacturer of Genuine 23 Kt Gold Border Cards".  Sounds so fancy.  Wonder why this company did not make more of a splash.  I bet these sets sold fast on QVC or Home Shopping Network.  

3. Love the faux signature at the bottom of the card with the inscription "Durham".  The other cards in the set have something similar.  If you are going to make cards that feel exclusive, they should get an inscription that feels more exclusive.  Give me "Bull City" or "City of Medicine" or "Research Triangle Park" or "Vinegar > Tomato".  

We've made it through two David Justice cards and a Gregg Jefferies that I barely acknowledged.  Can we get a third David Justice card?  

Last card of the post.  

Just 10,000 copies.  Make that 6,000 copies.  

This is from the 1999 Flair Showcase set.  Really nice looking set, which has a bunch of serial numbered parallels.  I believe that this was one of the easier ones to find.  Not sure of the exact odds, but I think you got two or three of these in a box.  Also not hard to find, and not very pricy either.  I am sure are there are some other good former Durham Bulls in this set that deserve a spot in the collection.  

That's it for today.  Hope everyone has had a great weekend.  

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Nice Players. Wrong Uniforms?

As a Cardinals fan, I really liked the autograph checklist for Archives.

Not everyone that I was excited to see on checklist showed up in a Cardinals uniform, which is to be expected.  In the case of these three cards, they each have a strong connection to the Cardinals.  Should they have been a Cardinal on their card?  

First, I picked up a Lonnie Smith autograph.  This is my second Lonnie autograph, but neither of them is with the Cardinals.  His best moment as a Cardinal was being the starting left-fielder on the 1982 World Series winner.  Lonnie finished second in the National League MVP voting that season and had some great stats.  

Lonnie also had some crazy good years at the end of his career with the Braves.  In fact, it's not a stretch to say that they were better than his time with the Cardinals and Phillies.  He led the National League in on-base percentage in 1989 and had an OPS of .948.  He did not do that while playing with the Cardinals.  While I would love to see Lonnie Smith on a card in a Cardinals uniform, Topps actually did a good job of making him a card as a Brave.  

I really liked Placido.  Even after the Cardinals traded him to the Phillies, I still followed his career.  While he was on the Cardinals, he was a super utility type during the 2000 and 2001 season.  The Cardinals played him at third base in 2002, but traded him to the Phillies for Scott Rolen in the middle of the season.  Turned out pretty good for the Cardinals.  

Polanco spent most of his career on the Phillies, so I am fine with the team choice here.  I could have also seen him as a member of the Tigers since he helped get them to the 2006 World Series.  Placido was the American League Championship Series MVP that season.  

Last one.  

Preston Wilson was on the 2006 World Series team.  He only played on the Cardinals for a few weeks during that season after the Astros released him.  Wilson also played for the 2007 Cardinals, but was on the disabled list the majority of the season.  I feel like my opinion of Preston Wilson has really changed over the past few years after following him on social media and watching him on MLB Network.  I am just happy he signed some new cards.  

Friday, September 11, 2020

Can You Spare 10 Minutes For A Blog Post?

It won't actually take you 10 minutes to read this blog post.  

The question in the title is actually directed at myself.  

We are 11 days into September and this is my second post of the month.  I meant to make a few other posts somewhere along the way, but virtual learning feels a lot like my first year of teaching.  Everything takes a little longer.  There are plenty of things that I start, stop, and re-do throughout the week.  It's very time consuming.  

Throw in a wife who is also virtual teaching and two kids, and there have not been much time for me to sit down and crank out a blog post.  Honestly, there have been nights where I have had a free fifteen minutes to type something up, but would you want to sit in front of a computer at your house after spending eight hours doing that at work?  

Not me.  

I have decided to spare 10 minutes of my evening to type up a post.  My wife and daughter are watching Aladdin and my son is talking my ear off about the Cincinnati Reds in anticipation of watching tonight's Cardinals game.  So far, I have learned that Freddy Galvis has the best hair-do in the National League Central.  

Since it's been awhile, I am doing three cards that I was excited about adding to my collection. 

First up, is a Brandon Lowe autograph out of Topps Big League.  

Brandon Lowe is having a pretty good season for the Rays.  Getting a little more attention with baseball card folk, but his cards have stayed reasonable.  I have barely touched any 2020 cards over the summer, so it's nice to go back and get some of these sets that came out awhile ago.  

The same seller also had a pretty inexpensive Lowe jersey card.  That's so 2004.  

I love these cards with the MLB Authentication stickers.  Always willing to jump down that rabbit hole, halfway expecting it to be from a game where the player sat on the bench.  The answer with Brandon Lowe?  

Brandon Lowe left the bench.  Even had a hit.  


Last card for this post.  

I have been waiting for this moment for awhile.  

Kirby Yates was on the Durham Bulls for three years from 2013 to 2015.  He was a decent Triple A player, but definitely fell into that category of being more of a fan favorite than a serious prospect.  He did make the International League All-Star Game, but had an ERA of nearly 8 when the Rays called him up to the Majors.  Yates bounced around a bit with the Yankees and Angels before he ended up the Padres.  

He's been incredible in San Diego.  

Last year he had an ERA of 1.19 with 109 strikeouts in 60 innings.  Made the All-Star team too.  I heard he was getting a few certified autographs this year.  Happy to finally have on in the collection.  

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Great Art. Well, Mostly Great.

Virtual school is wearing me down.  I didn't think I was that tired on Friday night, but I spent all of yesterday sitting around resting.  Maybe it was the combination of virtual school and the fact that my own children required a trip to the emergency room (dislocated elbow) and we had a pet pass away (Rita The Betta Fish) this week.  

Elbow is back in place.  We now own Alexander (Hamilton) the Betta Fish.  

Anyway, I am well-rested and ready to do more school work today.  Also write about some baseball cards.  

This is my second Project 2020 post in a row.  These cards have gotten to be pretty inexpensive.  I spent a little time the other week circling back and trying to pick up a few more cards that weren't Mark McGwire or Bob Gibson.  I think I did pretty well here, until you get to the McGwire card.  

First, is a Roberto Clemente card from Sophia Chang.  

She definitely has a similar pattern on her cards with the bubble letters, quotes, and backgrounds made up of small baseball/player related items.  I like that she keeps some of the elements from the original card, like the player photo of Clemente.  

The home run quote at the bottom is a little suspect, but I like the overall appearance of the card.  Clemente was not really a home run hitter, more of a line drive/slash hitter with speed.  Great defender.  Maybe a quote about those skills would fit better.  

"I Was Born To Play Baseball" is a good, but I would have considered using the quote that the Pirates have hanging in the tunnel in between their locker room and dugout.  I like this one better..... 

That's a little thing.  I am being picky.  

Overall, really good looking card.  

This is the back of the card, which has the artist bio on Sophia Chang.  I really like her baseball cards, I would put her second behind Efdot with the artist on the Project 2020 cards.  

Speaking of Efdot, here is my second card for the post.  This is really good art work.  

The small circle in the corner and border are trademarks of all his cards.  I like that he blended in the football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf ball on the lower right side of the border.  Those were the other sports he played at different points.  You've also got a Kansas City Monarchs logo in his name, which is done in UCLA colors.  There is also a faint Army color pin on the right side of jersey. 

There is a lot here.  It feels like one of those Highlights magazines hidden picture pages, but you can step back and appreciate the entire picture if you don't want to find all the little hidden things inside.  Those Highlights pages are garbage if you ignore the small pictures hidden inside.  

Back of the card.  Overall, this is very well done.  

Which brings me to my last card. Mr. Cartoon's recreation of the 1987 Topps Mark McGwire rookie card.  How did we get here?  I was buying two cards, and the seller told me he'd throw in a McGwire card for next to nothing.  I said sure without even searching the card.  I appreciate the generosity, but I am here for the art this morning.  So, I will just say that I see why this was practically a give-away.    

If you don't know what the 1987 Topps McGwire rookie card looks like, this isn't it.  

I see there is an A's logo, kind of.  You've also got a picture of McGwire.  Those are the two similarities between the two cards.  

How bad is this card?

My 10 year old has a small collection of cards.  He's picky about who he puts into his box of cards.  I was recently given an Andrew Knizner card because he's a back-up catcher.   I was also given an Edwin Diaz card because everyone knows he's terrible.  Tyler Chatwood.  Nobody says anything nice about him.  

I offered him this McGwire card.  His first reaction?  "Is this a team checklist?  I don't collect those"  

Vernon Wells has better artwork, but seems fair.  

Artist bio.  Sigh.  I see.  

Monday, August 31, 2020

Mr. Padre

 It's been a few weeks since I have posted a Project 2020 card.  Nothing has caught my eye recently, but I got a card in the mail that I ordered earlier in the summer.  Just took a little while for it to show up in the mail.  I think some of the Project 2020 "investment" guys are dragging their feet on mailing at cards from razor thin profit.  Still thousandaires.  

Big fan of the art of this card though.  

Mr. Padre.  

I am not sure that this scan even does the card justice.  It pains me to scan cards in one-touch cases sometimes.  Looks really scratchy.  Love the art work combined with the two pictures off of the original Topps Tony Gwynn rookie card. 

A picture of the original card.  

The color scheme with the dark brown and orange is probably the most eye-catching and appealing aspect of my newest Project 2020 card.  I also like the palm trees and the border design.   The patterned border seems to be a feature on a lot of the cards from this artist.  More on him in a minute.  The "Mr. Padre" title at the top is also nice, I just wish the color of the font matched the rest of the card a little better.  

Back of the card.  

Love that old Padres logo in the corner.  Feels like that might be older than the 1983 Topps card.  There is also a biography for the artist, who has a background in painting murals.  He's got some nice looking art up in a few different places online.