Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Whole Pack of Sox

We are now three years into the White Sox career of Carlos Rodon.  I really like Carlos, so I am not going to sit here and waive the white flag on his career, or suggest that he's going to be remembered as some huge draft flop.  There are a lot of positives about him in spite of whatever his win-loss record has been with the White Sox.  

Besides, I just think back to his time pitching at NC State and enjoy every card of his that I can get my hands on.  Locally he will always be remember as a great college pitcher who helped, along with Trea Turner, get the Wolfpack to the College World Series.  

He's only been out of college a few years and he already has a bunch of items in the NC State Hall of Fame.....




Which brings me to a few new baseball cards.  I picked up one new 2017 autograph of Rodon along with two 2016 cards that I did not own before last week.  Brand new card first....




This is out of the Gallery set.  I don't think there are as nice as the late 1990s/early 2000s version of this set, but I hold those sets on a pretty lofty pedestal, so perhaps I am setting the bar too high for these cards.  I haven't picked up any packs of these cards, my local Wal-Mart is a complete disaster for baseball cards.  It was a retail exclusive to that store.  It's a nice enough looking card though, even if the autograph is a sticker, it's not immediately noticeable on this card.  




I feel like I am getting picky about these colored parallel cards as I get older.  A green White Sox card?  I feel like this card is some sort of commemoration of the St. Patty's Day Spring Training Games where the teams don green uniforms.  


I am okay with this for the moment, but I am seriously considering just buying/trading for parallel colors that actually look good.  Purple Cardinals cards?  No.  Green Rays cards?  No.  I could go on, you get the point.  




Last one.  The Topps base set autographs usually have enormous print runs, and if you can hold out ten minutes after they are released, you can usually find many of them for next to nothing.  Honestly, I actually really like the looks of these autographs out of the 2016 Topps base set.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Finally A Fowler

It's been just over a year since the Cardinals signed free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler away from the Chicago Cubs.  The entire 2017 season has been played and I have written exactly zero posts about last seasons biggest offseason addition for the Cardinals.  Yes, I opened some packs of cards and there were Fowler cards in a Cardinals uniform in some of those packs.  I posted none of them.

In fact, I haven't even posted the good Cubs cards I have of Fowler.  Here's a quick rundown....



and that's everything.  It's a single card, but it's a really nice.  Most of the autographed cards out of Triple Threads are nice and collection worthy in my book.  I really like the 'Take A Walk" on this card.  While many baseball fans might best remember Fowler for his leadoff home run in the first inning of the seventh game in the 2016 World Series




 he is actually best known for working the count and getting on base.  Great card.

So naturally I needed to find something similar, but in a Cardinals uniform.  I had several different options and I honestly did not end up with my first choice.  So, here is my first nice Dexter Fowler card in a Cardinals uniform.....




Like the Cubs card at the top of the post, this Cardinals card is out of the Triple Threads set.  No cool message about Fowler's style of play, but just an oval shaped piece of jersey.  That gold background is a little bit over the top, but there are other versions of this card with green backgrounds.  I felt like I was choosing between a card with a Christmas themed background or opulent mansion of a dictator.  I guess I went with dictator's mansion.  I promise that I will do better with a follow up Fowler post with a little bit better, less gaudy, baseball card.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

High Tek Minor Leaguers

A really quick post about some Minor League cards.  I was initially worried earlier this year when I saw that there was a Bowman TEK product on the card release calendar, but no Topps TEK.  Luckily, Topps still managed to put out the regular set, which meant that after taking care of finding a couple cards out of it, I could move on and check out the Minor League version of one of my favorites.  

There are some Rays/Durham Bulls and Cardinals players in the set, some of them even have a few autographs.  I decided to go a little bit different route for my first Bowman TEK cards, but still knocked a card out from one of my favorite teams.

The first card I picked up is actually a player I saw while he was in college.  




A.J. Puk was one of the better college pitchers a few years ago while he was at the University of Florida.  He spent a summer pitching locally in central North Carolina with the USA Baseball team.  I managed to see him pitch a combined no hitter with Tanner Houck (Missouri/Red Sox) and Ryan Hendrix (Texas A&M/Reds).  Makes him an automatic favorite.  

I have a few other nice Puk cards that I have picked up the last two years.  This TEK card was something a little different.  Puk has always had a really simple signature and I like that he signed his cards in a spot away from the pattern.  

I know that there are a bunch of different patterns on the TEK cards, but I didn't even worry about that when I bought this card.  Just picked one I liked and went with it.  The overall design of the set is nice.  My only complaint would be the card backs.....


Seriously, why even bother with a stat line?  It is barely readable.  

Next card is a Cardinals player.....




just not on this card.  

The team picked up Tyler O'Neill last summer in a trade with the Mariners for pitcher Marco Gonzales.  The Cardinals do have a ton of outfielders, but they do not have a ton of power hitters which is what O'Neill should bring them.  



I posted a few O'Neill cards this summer after the trade.  Still waiting for a Cardinals card of this prospect, maybe soon, but until then I am willing to take on some more Mariners cards.  I kind of dig the picture of him on the card.  These don't have the standard backgrounds, but he looks like he's taking a big swing.  

The back of the card is the same as Puk's with the tiny stat line....


but the background silhouette is a little bit clearer on this card.  It's a common design element on the TEK cards, but it does not show up very well on the Puk card.  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Half An N, Sliver of An O

Five Star is one of those products that I won't touch while it is sitting in a pack on a shelf in a card store.  I would likely spend the $125-$140 for a one box, with two autographs, and pull something along the lines of a Terry Pendleton autograph.



I paid something like $10 for this card and I love it.  I would just be irked if I spent that much on a box of cards and pulled something like this fabulous card of the former Cardinals and Braves third baseman.  So, I let other people go ahead and open the packs of Five Star.  I just sit here in my office and watch the listings on Ebay.


I am willing to spend for some nice autographs out of this product.  I still really like the original set from 2012.  This is one of my favorite cards that I picked up that year......


So much to love about this card.

I know that the Cabrera card is a relic/autograph card, but I have really gone away from the relic cards in the past two years.  I just really care about the autographs.  I usually try to pick up two-three Five Star cards every year:  one Cardinals player, one Durham Bulls, and one just generic good player.

I have already picked up a Mark McGwire Five Star card this year, so that might count as my Cardinals card for this year.  It was not a current year card, put out in 2014.  I am not sure I really feel the need to pick up another Matt Carpenter or Aledmys Diaz autograph.  Diaz was actually just traded to the Blue Jays

So this is likely it.....




unless I can find a cool Alex Reyes.  I have no desire to touch another Grichuk Cardinals card, let alone spend time money, or trade other cards to get one of his autographs.

So, that really left me with a Durham Bulls player to track down.  In the past I have found some nice cards of Blake Snell, Andruw Jones, and Evan Longoria.  Again, I usually avoid relic cards, but my favorite Durham Bulls Five Star card that I own is a Longoria booklet that I picked up out of the original 2012 set.



I hate scanning booklets.

There are usually some nice relic cards in the Five Star product, but they often carry some exorbitant premium that goes beyond the point of making them a worthwhile purchase when compared to the price of a base autograph card.

With that being said, I am not against the idea of still collecting relic cards.  Which brings me to my Durham Bulls card out of Five Star for this year.....


I actually found someone who had pulled this card on Twitter and was going to post it on Ebay.  Always a good way to find cards.  The seller doesn't have to mess with listing fees, I don't have to mess with sitting there at the end of the auction hoping not to get sniped.  

Not sure that I love the green tint on the outside edges of the bottom portion of the card, but the top half with Longoria's picture and signature is solid.  I know the 50/50 serial number is one of those Ebay 1/1 things, but I am rather in different to that.  Sometimes a player's jersey number can be cool.  


The patch piece on the right side is from the N on his name plate, with the left-side relic being the bottom portion of the O.  After scanning the completed auctions on Ebay it looks like Topps only used the name plates off of Longoria's jersey for the relics in Five Star.  Some of the relics are blue with white letters, the rest are white with blue letters.  The premium patch pieces, low serial numbers, are the MLB logo from the neck line.  

I am fine with my Half an N and a sliver of an O.  Makes for a nice card and I didn't pay an arm and a leg for it.  



Monday, December 4, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #25 - Ace Parker


1949-1952 Durham Bulls 


Background-
Parker appeared for the Durham Bulls as a player/manager starting in 1949.  His work with the Durham Bulls was sort of a second career, or maybe a third depending on how you are counting his previous work.  Parker's athletic career at Duke University was a huge success.  He played football, baseball, and basketball while he was in college.  Ace Parker's best sport was football.  In 1935 he was an All-American running back and was a consensus winner for that prestigious award in 1936.  Parker also finished 6th that year in the Heisman voting.  


Parker ended up playing two sports professionally.  In 1937 he signed with the Philadelphia A's who literally played him all over the field.  He played all of the infield spots, save for 1B, and also played in the outfield.  He last appeared in the Majors in 1938, but played in the Minors until 1941 before taking a break.  Ace had a .179 batting average after playing parts of two seasons with the A's.  

Meanwhile, Parker also started playing in the NFL in 1937 after he was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The only other quarterback drafted ahead of Parker was Sammy Baugh.  In 1938, he was an All-Pro selection and lead the NFL in passing.  By 1940, he was one of the premier players in the league and was awarded the MVP Award.  Parker left the NFL in 1942 for the war.  He did play when he returned, but never attained the same level of performance as he did pre-World War 2.  

Parker started his managing career with his hometown team, the Portsmouth Cubs, in 1948.  The following season he took over for the Bulls.  He occasionally appeared in games as a player, but mostly managed the team.  Parker's overall record as the manager of the Bulls 303-266 and he took home the Piedmont League Manager of the Year award in 1949 and 1951.  Following the 1952 season he was hired by Duke to coach their baseball team, a job he held until 1966.  Parker's teams won 1 Southern Conference title, 3 ACC titles, and finished 5th in the College World Series in 1961.

Parker is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. 

Card-
I actually ended up with two Ace Parker autographs.  Not a bad thing, I will give the other card a post of its own at some point.  I have never been big into the "cut signature" cards, but I really liked the look of this card.  Parker not only has a nice signature, he tended to write large.  I am almost sure that this is cut from an autographed football photo of some sort, but I like that the signature takes up the entire card.  The navy blue, or Duke blue color signature is a nice bonus, although the card identifies him as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  

I'd give more insight into the Panini Certified brand, but I don't know a thing about football cards and I am not going to pretend that I do.  I generally do not like Panini's baseball products, the whole no-logos thing, but this looks solid.  







Sunday, December 3, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 15- Lonnie Maclin

Lonnie Maclin played twelve games for the Cardinals in 1993.  That's it.  When I started these posts about the 1990s Cardinals a few months ago I mapped out about a dozen posts and I pulled a handful of other random cards of different players for future posts.  I wanted a mixture of known names and unknown names.  The known names are nice, good reminders of past favorites, but sometimes the unknowns have some cool stories.

I actually picked out a Maclin card from a stack when I first started this set of posts as part of my random stack for the future.  Maclin is a St. Louis native, so I thought there might be something interesting about his career.  The card happens to be his only major brand baseball card, which is out of the 1994 Pinnacle set.




That's it.

So, I started back tracking a bit on Maclin's career.  First, he attended Ritenour High School in St. Louis County.  It's in the northern part of the county and actually has a pretty good baseball history.  The school has produced three Major League players outside of Lonnie Maclin.  Long time Dodgers pitcher Jerry Reuss, Mets/Giants/Expos infielder Ron Hunt, and Cubs catcher Bob Scheffing.

Maclin played college baseball at Meramec Community College which is in Kirkwood.  It's a few miles southwest of St. Louis and also has a pretty successful track record with its baseball team.  Notable alumni include David Freese, T.J. Mathews, Brian Boehringer, and Donnie Wall.

The Cardinals drafted him in 1987 out of junior college.  He played well in the lower Minors.  Maclin didn't move as fast up the Minor League ladder as Ray Lankford and Bernard Gilkey, but he was in that batch of prospects.  He played alongside future Cardinals like Luis Alicea, Brian Jordan, Geronimo Pena, and Rheal Cormier.

Which is how I found a second card of Maclin.




I had actually picked up a bunch of these early 1990s Minor League sets trying to find some extra cards of some of the 1990s Cardinals players.  Maclin actually has a few Minor League cards, just kind of liked this one.

Maclin made his Major League debut with the Cardinals on the night of September 7, 1993.  What happened that night?  Just Mark Whiten hitting four home runs.




Maclin was on base for the first home run.  If you watch the highlight until Whiten gets to home plate Maclin is at home wearing jersey number 55.  After that September, Maclin became a Minor League free agent signed with the Padres, but never actually played for the team.  He never played in their Minor League system either.  

Instead Maclin ended up playing in either the Mexican League or the Texas-Louisiana (Independent) every year between 1994 and 2001.  His primary team was the Amarillo Dillas where he is considered one of the greatest players in the franchise's history.  In 9 seasons in independent ball, Maclin hit .300 in 7 of them with on-base percentages hovering over .400.  

Amarillo.com still has a few articles and photos of him floating around on their website.  Here he is playing first base......




and according to an interview he gave in 2001 Joe Torre is not a very good manager and Lonnie Maclin also does stand up comedy.  




There is a joke in there somewhere.  Lonnie also tried his hand at managing with Amarillo.  




I too consider Felipe Alou a great manager.   

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Back To The High Tek.....

I remember when Topps Tek first came out in 1998.  The set idea was somewhat simple.  If you collect baseball cards sets there are only 90 cards in this product.  The set idea was also somewhat complex.  If you collect cards of an individual player there are 90 variations of each of the 90 cards.  I like sets and have a copy of each of the 90 cards in the 1998 Topps Tek set.  I player collection Ray Lankford, but I do not own all 90 variations of his card in the set.  Maybe one day.



I like that Topps has brought this product back the last few years.  It's been fun to see newer collectors trying to track down all of the different variations.  Topps has made the product a little bit better the second time around by adding in autographs.  I have picked up quite a few the past few years and posted them here in this space.

This year there is a Bowman Tek, prospects, and Topps Tek, which is veterans and retired players.  I have picked up a few the past few weeks the cards have been out, but the first card I want to share from this year's set has been one of my favorite cards that I have had sitting on my office desk in awhile.

It's player who appeared in the original Topps Tek set.




I wish I could tell you it was Ray Lankford, but I can't do that.  It is a Cardinals player though.  Well, he was a Marlin in the original.  




The checklist was chopped down after 1998, so while Tek ran for a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Renteria did not make the cut when the set shrunk to 45 cards.  So, 19 years later after appearing the original I finally have another Renteria Topps Tek card.  

It's autographed too.  



I am not sure that I like all of the new background patterns on the cards.  A nice picture of the former Cardinals shortstop with an autograph can make me overlook the fact that the design of this card looks like a kid took either a basketball or Death Star stamp to it.  




The patterns run consistent onto the back of the baseball card.  Although for an acetate style card, I think that Topps does a lot better job on the backs of the base set than these Tek cards.  


This is my second Renteria card of the year behind his Topps Archives autograph which I picked up earlier this summer.  Topps has included him in several other products this year too.  Edgar has signed a lot of cards this year.  I will have to spend a little time trying to pick some of them up.

I am happy to see Topps pick up a player like Edgar and put him back into some card sets.  He's not a Hall of Famer, but he had some important moments over the years as a player.  Most baseball fans remember his walk off hit in the 1997 World Series while he was playing for the Marlins, or his decisive home run in the 2010 World Series which gave the Giants the title that season, but he was always a clutch player for the Cardinals too....




but the Cardinals only made one World Series appearance while Edgar was their shortstop.  Unfortunately, the Series did not end well since the team did not hit outside of Renteria who hit .333 with a .945 OPS.  He ended up making the final out, which makes him the only player in Major League history to end a World Series 


Sunday, November 26, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 14 - Eli Marrero

Eli Marrero was one of the Cardinals best prospect in the late 1990s.  Baseball America had him as the fourth best Cardinals prospect in 1997 behind pitchers Matt Morris and Braden Looper, as well as infield prospect Dmitri Young.  The overall list that year was deep at the top with Andruw Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood, and Paul Konerko all appearing in the Top 20.  Marrero ranked 37th which made him the top catching prospect in the game that season.

Marrero popped up on numerous baseball cards that summer.  Of course, as a top prospect, the most logical land spot for him was the Bowman set.  The 1997 Bowman had those great black borders.




This is actually Marrero's second Bowman card.  He had previously appeared in the 1995 set.  I like that card, just happen to like this one a little bit better.  Marrero also had an autographed card in the 1997 Bowman set.  Not sure why Topps listed his name as Elieser on all of his cards, while every other card company had Eli on his cards.

Marrero got a cup of coffee from the Cardinals in 1997 and should have been the team's starting catcher entering 1998, but he ended up missing time due to a cancerous mass being found in his thyroid gland.

From the August 17th, 1998 Sports Illustrated:



Marrero did play a few more seasons for the Cardinals, only appearing in more than 100 games twice.  It is noted several places that following his bout with thyroid cancer, Marrero had difficulty with maintaining his stamina throughout the season.  He never really stuck as a starting catcher with the Cardinals.  Tony LaRussa almost always used him as a utility player bouncing back and forth between the catching, first base, and the outfield.  

Utility player means that the best Eli Marrero cards are all from his early years as a player.  The vast majority are from 1997, 1998, or 1999.  Two of my favorites are from the Fleer sets from 97 and 98.  Fleer had borderless card designs both years.  

We'll go in order by year. 



I like catchers cards with their pictures in their equipment.  No hockey style masks in 1997.  Fleer was really good about things like that during the late 1990s before the went bankrupt and disappeared.  The 1998 Eli Marrero card is even better.....



Obviously an older picture on the 1998 card.  If you look at the patch on the jerseys on both cards they match.  The Cardinals wore that patch during Spring Training in 1997 to mark their last year in St. Petersburg, Florida.  The team had gone halfsies with the Marlins on a new Spring Training site after the Devil Rays were announced as an expansion team.  I know that some people don't like when card companies recycle old pictures, but the catchers mask action shot more than makes up for it.  

Plus the card backs were nice......




Full color.  Edge to Edge.  I like that the team logo was incorporated into the background too.  Overall, these were really nice baseball cards.  

The Cardinals traded Marrero to the Braves after the 2002 season along with J.D. Drew.  They got back Jason Marquis and Ray King.  Also some throw in A-Ball pitcher.  Throw in pitcher couldn't even crack the rotation at the start of his career, sat in the bullpen his rookie year.....





Marrero spent time with the Braves, Royals, Orioles, Rockies, and Mets before retiring in 2006.  He worked as a Minor League coach in the Reds organization for a few years.  His son Elih plays, or played - not sure, at Mississippi State.  Seems like a pretty highly regarded prospect, but he only played 4 games last year for "off the field issues" which precluded him being arrested for a DUI.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Second Best Yankees Catcher From St. Louis

If you polled a group of well informed baseball fans from the St. Louis area about some of the great amateur players to come out of the area many would quickly give you the name of Yogi Berra.  Pretty important player, and while he's not Babe Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, or Mantle, he is the best catcher in the history of the Yankees.



10 World Series Championships, 14 American League pennants, 3 MVPs, and a Hall of Famer.

There is another well known Yankees catcher from St. Louis besides Yogi Berra.  In fact, there careers intersected a bit.  By the late 1950s the Yankees actually played Yogi in the outfield.  I think few realize that the left fielder in the 7th Game of the 1960 World Series, the one that drifts back towards the wall on Bill Mazeroski's walk off home run, was Yogi Berra.


I will spare Yankees fans the video, but he's to the right of the scoreboard in this picture of Mazeroski's swing on the home run.

I'm sure that Yogi's knees were worn down or something.  The usual types of things that happen to catchers at the end of their career, but the Yankees had a legitimately talented replacement in the form of St. Louis native Elston Howard.

Beyond replacing Berra as the everyday catcher for the Yankees, which became official at the start of the 1960 season, Howard also broke the color barrier for the team.  The Yankees were actually one of the last teams in the Majors to place an African-American player on their roster.  The two National League New York franchises had both fielded integrated teams since the late 1940s.  Dodgers obviously starting in 1947 with Jackie Robinson and the Giants in 1948 with Monte Irvin.

Elston Howard had a pretty big impact early in his Yankee career, including a few big World Series home runs.




All tolled Howard helped the Yankees win four World Series.  He's not a Hall of Famer, but the Yankees did retire his number 32.  Seems like a pretty good player to add to the old baseball card collection.  For whatever reason, up until I picked up these two cards, I actually did not own any Elston Howard cards.  

Zero.  Pretty rare for me to be missing baseball cards of St. Louis players, whether they were Cardinals players or not.




First up is a 1959 Topps card.  I have seen this card before, always a little curious about the blue coloring on the frame around the card.  The cards in the set have all sorts of different coloring on frames, but the blues are all darker than this card.  I would not consider myself to be a 1959 Topps expert, so I am not sure if the Elston Howard card's border is different for a reason?  I know most of the other Yankees cards in the set have a red or orange border.  

This card did not cost me a ton for a name player in the 1959 Topps set.  The surface conditions on the card are nice, but the centering on the card is off both left to right and top to bottom.  I am not going to spend the money on a high grade card of a Yankees player, so I am good with nice condition over centering.  

Last one.  




This is a 1956 Topps.  It's Elston Howard's first Topps card, but Bowman made a card of him in 1955.  The television set.  I like the action photos on these cards and Howard's is no different.  Looks like an overthrow on a play at the plate against the Tigers...maybe?  The picture on the right kind of bothers me.  The lips, the hat, just so much that looks like it's artificially touched up.  

This is two vintage posts in a row.  Don't worry, I will go back modern on Monday.  

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Original Bow Wow

I traded for a few cards a week or two back, trying to close out a few sets, and my trading partner threw in a few a pair of 1950s cards.  One of the cards was a 1956 Topps Roy Sievers.  



Kind of a cool action shot with the long time outfielder leaning backwards over a fence to catch a ball.  Sievers is actually from St. Louis and spent the first few years of his career on the Browns.  Welcome addition to the card collection.  The other throw in card just seemed like a random St. Louis Browns card.  Here is the front.....


At first glance I thought this was just going to be a nice 1951 Bowman common.  Definitely generous for a throw in when you put it together with the Sievers card.  Then I flipped the card over to the back and a few things stood out....


First, Arft's nickname is Bow Wow.  That's a pretty incredible nickname.  He should probably get some royalties from the "Like Mike" movies or some of the albums that the other Bow Wow has put out.....




since Arft appears to be the original namesake.  Curious as to how Arft gained that nickname, here is a quick explaination from his biography on the SABR site....

"On July 27 at Sportsman’s Park, the seventh-place Browns took the field with a record of 32-53, 19½ games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics. Arft made his major-league debut, playing first and batting seventh. He recalled, “We were playing the Yankees and the first time up I flied out to Joe DiMaggio. The next time up I struck out, but my third time at bat I hit a triple to drive in two runs off Tommy Byrne. My last time up I hit a home run off Frank Hiller! We shut out New York 4-0. That was a great feeling.” The next day “cheers of ‘Arft, Arft’ were bestowed upon Hank the nickname he will embrace forever – that of ‘Bow Wow.’


Beyond the nickname, Arft is also from Manchester, Missouri.  He is the only Major League player to list that town as his place of birth, which is also the town where I lived while I was growing up outside of St. Louis.  Since there is not a hospital in that town anymore, just a shopping mall with a giant dove in the parking lot.....


he will likely remain the only player with that distinction for the foreseeable future.   In fact, I was trying to find players who have Manchester listed on a baseball card as a hometown.  There are several who are from bordering towns like Ryan Howard, Max Scherzer, and David Freese. 

I thought it was a pretty cool find, so I actually ended up picking up another Hank Arft card for under $5.  It's a 1952 Topps card with an out of focus picture......



and the centering is really off, but I might have to pick up the few other cards that Arft had during the late 1940s and early 1950s.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #24 - Rich Thompson


2012-2013 Durham Bulls 


Background- 
Rich Thompson appeared in a Triple A baseball game during twelve different seasons starting in 2001 and stretching out until 2013.  However, if you talk to people who follow Minor League Baseball, the most important stop on Rich Thompson's journey was actually with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, which is the Phillies Triple A team.  He first appeared for that team in 2008 and managed to stay there until he was picked up by the Rays in a trade during the 2012 season.  It's hard to really associate a Minor League player with a Minor League team, but if I could name one player who fits that mold it's got to be Thompson and Lehigh Valley.  Or if you are a Rays fan who stops by to read this blog: Thompson is to Phillies Minor League fans what Justin Ruggiano is to Rays Minor League fans.  Although I would argue that Thompson is more popular with that fan base than Ruggiano is with the Rays.  Thompson played two partial season in Durham.  His 2012 season was pretty good.  His 2013 season was not so good.  




The most important part about Thompson's time in Durham was that it provided him with his longest chance to play in the Majors during his long professional baseball career.  He played a few games with the Royals in 2004, but the Rays gave Thompson a full 23 games.  Those games included 23 at-bats and just two hits.  His career ended when he broke his foot fielding a ball in the outfield.  

Card-
Thompson was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2000 out of James Madison University.  He did not have any baseball cards his first two years as a professional baseball player, but started appearing in 2002 sets after a strong 2001 season with the Blue Jays High A and Triple A teams.  Quite a jump in a season.  A batting average over .300 and almost 50 steals lead way for Thompson to appear in all of the Bowman products in 2002, along with the Topps Traded set and the Topps 206 set.  They're all nice cards, but we are going autographs first on these posts and this 2002 Bowman's Best card is all that is out there.  Not the best year for Bowman, but the cards all feature on-card signatures and the design is decent.  Although decidedly early 2000s.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 13 - Kerry Robinson

Kerry Robinson had two different stints with the Cardinals.  The first came with the Cardinals during the mid to late 1990s.  Robinson played high school baseball in St. Louis County at Hazelwood East High School and in college at Southeast Missouri State.  The Cardinals used their 34th Round Draft Pick to select the speedy outfielder in June of 1995.

In 1995 Robinson posted a .296/.336/.420 slash line with 21 extra base hits and 14 stolen bases in just 60 games.  The following summer Robinson spent the entire season with the Peoria Chiefs in A Ball.  He managed a .359/.422/.475 line with 50 steals, and 33 extra base hits.  By the end of 1997 the Cardinals had promoted Robinson all the way up to Triple A Louisville for a few games.

This is where Kerry Robinson leaves the Cardinals.

At the end of the 1997 Major League Baseball held an expansion draft to stock the rosters of the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays.  Each team lost a few players.  The Cardinals ended up losing Kerry Robinson to Tampa.  The next summer, after spending time with the Devil Rays Double A and Triple A teams, Robinson made his Major League debut in Tampa.  He played in two games, one against the Red Sox and one against the Yankees, both in the last week of the season.  He did not get a hit in either game.

After bouncing around from the Devil Rays to the Mariners to the Reds to Yankees, Robinson ended back with the Cardinals in 2001 where he made the roster as a fourth outfielder.  He had some good moments with the Cardinals during his second stint with the club, most notable was his 2003 walk off home run against the Cubs.




Robinson ended up staying with the Cardinals for three years, until the end of 2003, before he was traded to the Padres.  He also made a stop over with the Royals in 2006, which was his last appearance in the Majors.  

Baseball card wise, Robinson had a lot of cards during his second run with the Cardinals, not so many his first time around.  While there are few in quantity, good choices still exist.  I am going to show off three choices.  

First up are two Bowman products.  




If you had to pick out a rookie card of a player from the 1990s it's hard to pass up something from one of the Bowman sets.  While the 1997 set is not the best, it still has a solid group of rookie cards, plus that great looking black frame.  Since Robinson was in the Bowman base set, that means he was also in the Bowman Chrome set.....




There is no black border on the 1997 Bowman Chrome set, which has always disappointed me in a lot of ways, but it's still a nice set.  The alternating stripes are a little different, but are still a solid border.  

Last card.  




Robinson appeared in a few Minor League sets along the way.  Probably his best looking card is his 1997 Best Autograph which featured him in an Arkansas Travelers uniform.  It's a nice looking card without the signature, and while it looks a little busy, Robinson has a really nice autograph.  Just a little hard to tell on this card.  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Minor League Goodness

How long has it been since I have done a write up on a new, current year, set that I have written up in blog post form?  I am actually not entirely sure, but I know its probably been five to six months.  I love putting together sets, but I have been a little bit lost/uninterested in a lot of the base sets this year.  The topic deserves its own post, maybe over Thanksgiving break next week I will find the time.

I have a hard time passing up Minor League baseball cards.  About a month ago Topps put out one of their two products which feature players from their Minor League uniforms.  Obviously there are Durham Bulls cards, but I can also find cards of the other players I see at Minor League games, as well as a few younger players who previously appeared at USA Baseball.

Heritage Minors has the same borrowed 1968 Topps design as the Major League version of the Heritage set.  I like the commonly held opinion that this set design looks like a burlap sack.  I still have a few favorite base cards.  Really, it's just a pair of Durham Bulls cards and a player with a connection to the Cardinals.

First up the two Durham Bulls.



Adames is widely considered the Rays best prospect.  The middle infield is crowded in Tampa, but young cheap talent always wins out there, so Adames is going to get a chance in the Majors sooner than later.  He was originally signed by the Tigers, but the Rays picked him up in the David Price trade.  Topps has only started putting him in their Minor League products the last two years, even though he was been a highly regarded prospect for a several years now.


Honeywell is the other Durham Bulls card I am going to give a little love.  First, I like the alternate jersey on the card.  The Bulls have now been a Rays affiliate for 20 years.  This season they wore a Rays inspired Bulls jersey several times.  Kind of a cool mash-up of the two uniforms.



I am intrigued by Honeywell.  He's another top Rays prospect, probably their best Minor League pitcher for the moment.  He throws a screwball.  I am kind of skeptical about how that will work out in the long term.  Is it just me, or has there been a serious lack of screwball pitchers since Fernando Valenzuela?  



My last base card is Padres infield prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.  If you weren't sure about his relationship to the Cardinals, long time baseball writer Jon Heyman had a gem of a tweet about this in the middle of the summer.


Just in case you had any lingering doubts.  He's only 18 and in A Ball, but the numbers have been impressive for such a young player.  Last year he hit 21 home runs, 26 doubles, stole 29 bases, and had an on base percentage near .400.  


Fort Wayne Tincaps.  Hilarious.

I also pulled out a base card variation.  You know Topps always has to make these things and make them nearly impossible to find.  This one is actually pretty clear.....


that the first name is missing from the front of the card.  Zack Collins is a pretty well thought of catching prospect for the White Sox, plus one time he dropped a ball on a tag play that let NC State get into the ACC Baseball Championship Game.




A few other things that come in boxes of baseball cards.  Two jersey cards.  



Alex Verdugo is kind of a meh card.  I really like Christin Stewart though.  He hits for powers and draws a lot of walks.  Like the brown jersey swatch from the Futures Game last year.  

Moving along.  


I like these disc inserts which are based on a 1968 Topps test issue.  The set is half mascots and half players.  Just something different.  My favorite mascot, Wool E. Bull, did not make the cut for this insert set, but does make an appearance elsewhere.  

Last two cards for today. 


P.J. Conlon is a Mets prospect.  Not a huge fan.  Bobby Dalbec was drafted by the Red Sox out of the University of Arizona.  I saw him play with USA Baseball a few years back.  The power is impressive, I think he can be an everyday Major League player.