Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Six Pack of Stadium Club Part 2

I am doing Stadium Club cards from the base set all week.  If you missed Part 1 I would encourage you to go back and check out six cool base cards from this year's Stadium Club release.  In the meantime, here's a look at six more cards that I enjoyed......




#143 Mickey Tettleton - Tigers

One of my frustrations with Topps, at times, can be their player choice.  They tend to use the same players over and over and over.  It's nice to see some cool names, especially when they are cool players from a past era.  Tettleton is not a Hall of Famer, not even close, but he did have a nice career.  He spent a lot of time with the Tigers, but also appeared for the A's, Orioles, and Rangers.  This card would be a little bit cooler if they included a picture of Tettleton in his batting stance, but he just someone different to look at, which is a good thing.  Here's a peak at his batting stance.  


Overall, Tettleton hit almost 250 home runs and collected over 1,100 hits in 14 seasons.  His career WAR is just about the same as Javy Lopez and he ranks just outside of the top 10, 11th overall, for home runs hit as a catcher.  Here's the stance in action....




#123 Lenny Harris - Reds 

Another cool player from back in the day who does not get much hobby love.  Harris played 18 years for the Reds, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins, and a few others for parts of season.  He never really played full time, but was one of the best bats off the bench for almost two decades.  Harris has entered the coach realm since retiring from baseball and is currently working for the Marlins as their third base coach.  


#164 Carlton Fisk - White Sox 

Tom Seaver and Carlton Fisk both on the same card is pretty cool, but the card is improved by the fact that they are both wearing those 1980s White Sox softball uniforms.  When I first started collecting cards this is how I remember the White Sox unis.  I know the Sox wear these as alternate uni now, but it's nice to see the originals with players who were around when I first started collecting.  



#185 Willie Stargell - Pirates

It would be cool to see this card in color.  I really liked the colors and stylings of the 1970s Pirates uniforms.  This card still stood out to me though as I flipped through the Stadium Club set.  My enjoyment of baseball and Stargell's career just missed each other, but I am very familiar with the Pirates slugger.  I am not sure if it's just I how I see him, but he always appeared to be one of those players who played the game with a smile.  Kind of a Ken Griffey Jr. smile.  Happy to be playing baseball and I imagine that this card is from a good year for the Pirates.  Is the guy in the background running on the field?  Perhaps a World Series winner.  



#168 Carlos Baerga - Indians 

This is a card that kind of grew on me.  At first glance I just noticed Carlos Baerga hanging out parallel to the ground.  I flipped past through this card a few times before coming back.  I did not really pay attention to the fact that the Indians are playing the Braves in the picture.  Check out the patch on Baerga's right sleeve and the patch on Klesko's left sleeve.  The Baerga patch is the 1995 World Series patch and the Braves patch is one they wore for the 1995 season celebrating their 30th year in Atlanta.  Klesko had a rough series, but did reach base on a hit in Cleveland and also reached twice on walks in the clinching Game 6 for the Braves.  Since the Braves are the home team, this is obviously the final game of the Series.  That picture is really cool by the way.  



#112 Paul Konerko - White Sox 

I do some farewell posts sometimes.  I did one for Lance Berkman and Juan Pierre.  Gave serious consideration to giving Paul Konerko a little love, but I passed.  If I had to do it all over I probably would have written one.  First base is a tough position and I do not think that Konerko has enough to be a Hall of Famer, but he was still a really good player for a long time.  He helped the White Sox end their World Series drought in 2005 and ranks high in several important offensive categories in the team's franchise history.  He won the MVP Award in the 2005 American League Championship Series.  White Sox fans gave Konerko a good send off, but it seemed to get completely overshadowed by all of the Jeter stuff last year.  Really cool to see a long time fan favorite get a good send off.  Really cool to see it captured a piece of cardboard.  



Monday, July 27, 2015

Six Pack of Stadium Club Part 1

I am focusing on Stadium Club this week.  The Topps brand was successfully relaunched last year which made the product a highly regarded release on this year's card calendar.  There are autographs and die cuts in the set, but my favorite part of this product is the base cards.  How many products can you say that about during a calendar year?  Not many.  As a long time collector a great base set harkens me back to my early days as a collector when there was little more to a baseball card product outside of the base set.

At some point I will post an autograph, or two, that I have picked up from the set.  However, for this week I am going to pick out the base cards that I love from the set.  Some of the cards are going to have a simple explanation, such as, the card features a cool or unique picture.  Other cards will have other reasons for making my list.  Six per night all week long.  Here are six for tonight:



#64 Brett Gardner - New York Yankees

Brett Gardner has been know to make some nice defensive plays.  I like that this card has a cool picture of Gardner scaling the wall to make a catch.  I like the faces on the people in the crowd even better.  There is a wide range of emotions in that front row.  I also like that the ball is in the picture, but we do not know if Gardner actually makes the catch.  Or do we?  




#57 Marcus Stroman - Blue Jays 

I first saw Stroman while he was pitching at Duke.  I was a big fan then and I am a big fan now.  He's pretty fun, and interactive, follow on Twitter too.  He's a positive, energetic, and emotional player.  I collect Stroman cards and have plenty of the Blue Jays pitcher in games, but I feel like this card does a great job of capturing his personality.  Great card and a little something different for my stack of Stroman cards.  



#24 Dale Murphy - Braves 

The first year I collected cards was 1983.  It was the height of Dale Murphy's career.  I am not of the opinion that Murphy belongs in the Hall, but the peak of his career was spectacular.  The picture on this card looks like the great version of Dale Murphy who won back to back MVP awards.  I am not sure what's going on with all of the bats and balls on the floor.  Maybe one of those pictures someone took on photo day during spring training.  Anyways, really cool card of The Murph.  



#22 Ivan Rodriguez - Rangers 

Do you remember when stadiums used to have foul ground?  There are still a few, but I feel like most stadiums have a really limited amount of foul ground.  Plenty of cool plays happened because of foul territory.  I can think of dozens of times I watched Ozzie Smith chase down long foul balls behind third base, near the visitors bullpen, in old Busch Stadium.  While I grew up watching Ozzie, this card shows another great defensive player tracking down a foul ball near the railing of the dugout in Arlington.  It looks like the ball is in Rodriguez's glove, so I am going to go ahead and say that he made this play.  Really like that Rodriguez has a card showing him as playing defense.  



#34 Mariano Rivera - Yankees 

I watch the World Series without fail every fall.  There are some that are anti-climactic, but still turn out to be memorable.  I watched the Giants and Tigers a few years back.  The Giants swept the series, but not too memorable.  I also remember when the Yankees battled the Padres in the 1998 Series.  I was happy to see Tony Gwynn make the World Series and I was hoping to see him get a ring.  Honestly though, the Yankees were in complete control of the series.  They were a great team and you knew, watching them in the playoffs, they were going to win it all.  As much as people complain about the Yankees "buying" a team to win the World Series, those late 90s teams were heavy on the word "team".  I think the 1998 Yankees might have been one of the best teams of my lifetime.  Love this picture of Rivera.  



#36 Frank Robinson - Reds 

Rain delay or was this the pre-game routine?  No videos, no video games, no Beats by Dre.  Just a Hall of Fame player wearing his uniform reading a newspaper.  Something really different and really cool from Topps on this card.  


Sunday, July 26, 2015

#MyCardMonday

I am going to be doing a whole bunch of stuff with Stadium Club this week.  I have spent a lot of time this month on Minor League Baseball games and Minor League card sets which has limited the amount of time I spent on new cards coming into my collection.  How many different products were released in the last few weeks that I did not get to touch on yet?  A bunch, and I plan on slowly catching up over the next few weeks.  So, for this week's version of #MyCardMonday I am choosing to go with an older Stadium Club card.

Two weeks ago I picked a Stadium Club card of Matt Holliday because I loved the fact that the card told a story.  There are many Stadium Club cards that fit into this category and make them one of my favorite products.  This Mark McGwire card definitely tells a story, so here it is......


The Stadium Club Scenes cards were a pretty popular insert back in the 2000 Stadium Club product.  I pulled one of these out of a box and ended up picking up a few more out of the dollar box at my local card shop back in the day.  I love the panoramic view of Busch Stadium II in the card and dig the view of Big Mac on deck.  If you ever saw McGwire in person he had a really unique on deck routine.  I always liked watching him stretch the bat behind his back, squint his eyes, do head rolls, and just stand there like he is in the card.

The scan does not really do this card justice, but there is a lot of information on the scoreboard in the background.  Edgar Renteria is batting for the Cardinals, the game is in the first inning, and the Cardinals are losing to the Dodgers 1-0.  So much here to work on, so it was not hard to track this game down to a single game....

The picture in this card was taken on May 16th, 1999.  The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-4, and while Mark McGwire did not hit a home run during this game, my 90s favorite Cardinals player Ray Lankford hit two home runs including a walk off in the ninth against Dodgers closer Jeff Shaw.  Sorry, MLB has not published a video of this awesome highlight yet.  More Stadium Club tomorrow..... 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

KK Off the List

I feel like I have crossed a pretty big item off of my Most Wanted List.  Yes, I know I need to throw a few more cards up on the list and plan to do so at some point this week.  More importantly, I feel like I have done a really good job in recent months of moving some of the cards off of my list.  After not publishing a Want List for a long time, I have seen the addition of my list help in two way as a collector:

  • I am focused on specific cards that fit into my collection
  • Other collectors seeking to make trades have a great starting point

Which brings me to my list card which I picked up in a Facebook group page.  There are so many cards posted in some of the pages it is hard to sift through them all some days, but a copy of a Kevin Kiermaier autograph caught my eye last week.  I had to ask and a few minutes later I was the proud owner of this card:  



I gave up a sharp looking Yoenis Cepedes autograph in exchange for this card, but in my opinion it was well worth it.  Kiermaier, currently the Rays center fielder, spent parts of three seasons as a Durham Bull.  While those three appearances only totaled up to 77 games, it's was a long enough time to make a lasting impression on baseball fans in North Carolina.  Kiermaier hustled, played great defense, and sparked the Bulls offense.  All the same things he is now doing at The Trop.  

I have had my eye on a Kiermaier autograph for awhile now, and while they are not too difficult to find, I could never settle on a copy and find it at a price I was willing to pay.  All of his certified autographs are Panini, which means no logos, but they sell for more than you would think.  When his signature first started to appear in Panini products many of his cards would end between $25-$30 at auction.  Cards with nicer patch pieces would push closer to $50.  I would have loved to have owned some of those, but not at that price.  

The last month, or maybe two, I have seen a few pop up on both Ebay and COMC, but they were rather ordinary.  Given the amount of cards I have seen with big pieces of patch I decided to wait it out.  I think I finally landed a winner with this National Treasures card featuring an on-card signature with a nice big blue patch piece.  All number out of just 10 copies.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

#MyCardMonday

I always try to post my weekly #MyCardMonday on Sunday evening, but sometimes I feel like I do better with the player when I wait the extra time and make my post on Monday evening.  I like the player in the post to be someone who is in the news and sometimes an extra few hours can change my mind on the player and card that I select.  Sunday evening I had a player already to go and post and then I waited.  In the middle of the day I checked Twitter and I found....


I was excited to see the news.  Piscotty has been regarded as one of the Cardinals top hitting prospects.  I was actually surprised the Cardinals have taken this long to try Piscotty out at the big league level given the fact that the team has lost Matt Adams for the rest of the season and they were without Matt Holliday for a good chunk of time.  It's been hard to wait, but I am excited to see what Piscotty will do with the Cardinals.

Since Piscotty is debuting this week in Chicago I am going with one of my favorite Piscotty cards from the first Bowman Inception set.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Minor League Set Week: 2015 Eastern League Top Prospects

This is a hard set to really break down the way I had been with the other minor league sets I have scanned and posted this week.  I also think of Double A as being sort of a cut off point between players who will reach the Majors and players who will not.  Meaning, most of the players who make it to Triple A have a really good shot at making it to the Majors in some capacity.  Some might be good players, some might be solid, and others might only end up being a utility player or someone who gets one cup of coffee.

I think that many of the players in this set will be in the Majors at some point, but it's just a matter of when and what their role will be when they get there.  For example, in my last post I talked about Kyle Crick, Giants prospect, who has spent his minor league career starting, but projects as a shut down relief pitcher by many.  Lots of high draft picks and prospects here, I am eager to revisit this set in a few years to see where everyone is.






Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Five: Top 5 Sets from 2004




5. 2004 Fleer Showcase- I bought this box for my birthday during spring of 2004.  I remember rolling into 1,000,000 Baseball Cards in Ballwin, Missouri and picking up a box of this product.  It was National Trading Card Day and I was up for some free baseball cards, but while I was there I was not going to walk out empty handed.  This product had a cool looking design, decent autographs, and some cool insert sets like the Hot Gloves.  I got in on this product towards the end of its run, but unfortunately this was the end of line for this product.  Really cool product and my favorite fleer product from their later years (I am not counting the Upper Deck rehash).  





4. 2004 Topps Cracker Jacks- I love this set.  Is it the red backgrounds?  The minis?  Autographs?  Not sure, but I put together this whole set and have a bunch of the autographs and relics out of the product too.  The design is based on the 1914 Cracker Jacks set and has a lot of little quirks that were in the original: Writing on the back of the card upside down, old time players like Nap Lajoie, and Surprise Packs inside the boxes.  Not the most expensive set, and not the nice throwback set that Topps has ever put out, but still a very good product worth checking out.  





3.  2004 Diamond Kings- I like the Diamond Kings sets.  Donruss ran them several years in the early 2000s until the company came to an end in 2005.  The boxes are fun to open and there are a lot of cool serial numbered cards in this product.  Relics, autographs, lots of possibilities for player and teams collectors.  How many parallels made up this set?  It's huge and I am not sure that I have ever seen a collector put them altogether on a player.   The autographs are sticker autographs, which is a bummer, but many are inexpensive and pretty easy to find.  




2.  2004 Topps Heritage- This one is an easy one.  Hard to believe it only came in second on my list.  The Heritage set in 2004 was based on the 1955 Topps set.  One of my favorite old time sets.  Topps threw in a handful of short prints and some old logo variations.  Like all Heritage sets there are the usual autographs, relics, and serial numbered parallels.  Really great looking set.  



1.  2004 Bowman Heritage- 1955 was a great year for baseball cards.  The Bowman Heritage set was a redo of the 1955 Bowman set.  The television framed cards are a classic.  There are also some cool variations with black and white pictures.  Again, there are autographs, but one of my favorite aspects of this set was the fact that Topps added umpire autographs.  There have been a few umpires included in sets here and there, but this set had a really good run of umps.