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.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Biscuits and Biscuits

Working on finding my favorite Durham Bulls players every summer inevitably leads to me having to buy or trade for a few Montgomery Biscuits baseball cards.  The Bulls, being the Triple A team of the Rays, and the Montgomery Biscuits playing in the Double A Southern League, I'm sure that most of the players like getting to make that move.  As a card collector,  I really don't mind anything having to do with the Biscuits.  It's easily one of the coolest logos in all of Minor League baseball.

Better than the Baby Cakes or Railriders or whatever other goofy names have popped up in the Minors over the last few summers.  I have never actually been to Montgomery, so I am not exactly sure why the team is named the Biscuits.  As a Midwest transplant living in a Southern state, or is North Carolina a mid-Atlantic, I can attest to the fact that Southerns love eating biscuits.  Non-southerners like them too.  

We've got places like.....

They've got okra on their menu.  That's only cool in the south.  More well known.......

Bojangles.  A must stop for biscuits and Bojangles also in a Raekwon song.  

Back to baseball cards.  

So, over the year's I have dabbled in the world of Biscuits cards.  They have less butter than a Biscuitville biscuit and less blueberries than a BoBerry Biscuit, but they are nice all the same.  All of my Biscuits cards feature that cool logo along with a player who almost certainly appeared for the Durham Bulls.  My all-time favorite Biscuits/Durham Bulls cards is a Hak Ju Lee logo card from the 2013 Pro Debut card....

There have been others along the way too, including one that came out earlier this summer in the latest Pro Debut release.  The player on the card is even on the Durham Bulls this year.  Here's the latest Biscuits card featuring Durham Bulls infielder Willy Adames.  

I really like Adames as a player, he's fun to watch, and I was excited that this card was on the checklist this year.  However, I wish the Biscuits logo were a little but clearer.  The past two years Topps has used the pennant shape on these logo cards in Pro Debut.  The problem, in my eyes, is that it shrinks down the size of the logo, blurs what is there, and minimizes the minor league aspect on the card.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Same School, Same Card, But.....

It's story time y'all.

Once upon a time there was a quarterback at NC State who also played on the school's baseball team.  We will call him Russell.  Now, while he played both sports in college, most people knew him for his football talents.

Russell had some pretty good wheels and was a really accurate passer.  The NC State football team had some pretty good years with Russell under center.  Most importantly they did not lose to the dreaded light blue team from Chapel Hill.  Best play was the two yard Hail Mary in 2010.

As I mentioned before Russell also played baseball for three years while he was in Raleigh.  He was mainly an infielder, although he pitched a little here and there too.  His best year on the diamond came in 2010 when he hit .306/.439/.490 in 47 games.  ACC is no slouchy baseball league, so those are solid numbers.  

Russell was drafted in the summer of 2010, but returned to State to play football in the fall.  The spring of 2011 was spent with the Rockies who eventually sent him to play with the Asheville Tourists.  He had an alright summer, but quit the Rockies towards the end of the Minor League season.  

Big Russ picked up his telephone and called Tom O'Brien, the NC State football coach, but was told that the school had another quarterback who was ready to start.  Mike Glennon was tall and looked a little bit awkward at times, but he also had some really good moments playing at State.  My favorite....

Russell Wilson transferred to some B1G school and won some games there.  Since the whole relationship was Russell has been weird.  People in Raleigh really want to still love Russell.  He got invited back to the spring football game have his jersey retired by the school.....

and Russell has come up with clever ways at times to merge the two schools together.....

Whole Pack of Badgers is pretty good, but Russell hasn't really dropped the whole thing about not getting his quarterback job back at NC State.  For whatever reason Wisconsin invited him as a graduation speaker a year or so ago and Russ rehashed the whole story about NC State not giving him his starting job back after he quit the team. 

Boo Hoo.  

Which leads to a baseball card.  If you go and look at a list of current baseball players who went to school at NC State you'd end up with Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner as the two most recognizable names.  Pretty good talent there.  

In fact that team was good enough to make a trip to the College World Series in 2013.  It was a pretty cool thing to see as a Wolfpack fan.  

You know who wasn't on that team?  Russell.  Russell Wilson never made a College World Series appearance.  In fact, he was never even on the same team as Trea Turner or Carlos Rodon.  The best Major League player that State had while Russ played with in Raleigh was Jake Buchanan.  

Nothing wrong with Jake.  It's just that he's not Trea Turner, nor Carlos Rodon.  So, here is the card....

Okay.  First, I was in school while Russell Wilson was the quarterback at State.  I really liked watching him play football and have great memories of sitting in the student section watching him do his thing.  Probably my favorite game I saw him play in was his freshman year against Miami.  Really did a lot of damage with his feet.  Great game to watch.  

I also understand why State did not give him his scholarship back.  You quit a team, they moved on.  End of story.  Back to the card.  

I have been looking for a Russell Wilson autographed card for awhile now.  I have some non-autographed cards of him with in a Wolfpack uni......

The problem with the Russell Wilson baseball autographs has always been price.  There are always a bunch up on Ebay, but they are way too expensive for what I would spend on a Russell Wilson baseball card.  

That's $299.99.  I did not pay that much for my copy of this card, or anything close to that price.  This is not just one of those jacked up prices on Ebay either.  The Russell Wilson NC State autographs are always priced like this by almost everyone who sells one.  Luckily I was able to trade for a copy of this card.  Hurt a lot less.  

Overall, there is something a little odd about this baseball card.  I know that Panini put them together on a card because they went to the same school, but.....

  • They never played together
  • I am not sure you could really argue that Russell Wilson was ever a great baseball player 
  • I am not sure that Russell Wilson wants to have much to do with NC State at the moment
  • Russell Wilson was not really a pitcher 
  • Carlos Rodon makes a lot more sense for this card..or give me Dan Plesac.  Someone.  Anyone.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 60

I was first introduced to the Mothers Cookies baseball cards sometime back in the late 1990s after the Cardinals traded for Mark McGwire.  I spent a lot of time trying to track down his cards which included a whole bunch of different cards from Mother's Cookies.  Sort of seemed like a bottomless pit of sorts....

I cannot tell you how many different McGwire cards that they put out while he was on the A's, but I felt like every time I found one another one would pop up that I didn't have yet.  Eventually I moved on from tracking down all of the Mothers Cookies McGwire cards and generally ignored these cards for the most part.  Although, after searching through my closet of cards for a few minutes I found a copy of a Mother's Cookies Willie McGee from a Giants team set.  

Now, both of the McGwire and McGee Mother's Cookies cards are really cool and I like the simplicity of the design.  Edge to edge pictures on baseball cards always look nice.  Plus, if you ever read these posts, there have now been 60 of them, most of them are actually cards from the 1990s.  Not sure that actually qualifies them as really being all that old.  However, I have an actual old card for this weeks old card post with an old former Major League player.  


These look like Famous Amos cookies.  

Being a Minor League card guy I was surprised to find out awhile back that Mother's Cookies had actually dabbled in Minor League baseball cards back in 1952.  The set featured players from the Pacific Coast League.  The eight team league featured teams that were not affiliated with a particular Major League team, yet there were dozens of players who made the jump from the PCL to the Majors.  

I actually ended up picking up a manager card of former Giants slugger Mel Ott.  After looking through the cards in the set there was no obvious connection to the Cardinals or Durham Bulls starting me down, so I picked out a copy of a card on Ebay and went for it.  

Here's what I ended up with.......

The background coloring on the card seems very 1950s.  The cards all have something in the pastel family.  I also like all of the uniforms on the cards.  Minor League teams have gone to absurd names like the Baby Cakes, and the whatnot, but the PCL had good names with good uniforms.  I know that some would consider the simple blue and white jersey boring, but I like it.

Overall, I really love this card.  It's not a hard task to find Minor League cards of players from the 1980s and even into the 1970s.  However, once you start getting into the mid 1970s it gets harder and harder.  This Mother's Cookies set seems to be one of the best looking vintage Minor League sets, but it's also something that isn't too hard to find.  It also doesn't cost an arm and a leg to buy the cards.

Thinking I might need to find a few more of these early Mother's Cookies cards in the near future to sort of balance out all of the McGwire junk wax era cards I picked up back in the day.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Five: My Favorite Players Who Have Played For Both The Cardinals and Cubs

We've got the Cubs and Cardinals playing this weekend, so for this week's Friday Five I am doing a quick countdown of my favorite players who played in both St. Louis and Chicago.  Not arguing the importance of this rivalry, but it's pretty darn important around the Midwest.  Like any good rivalry there have been players who have been on both sides of the fence.  These are my favorite five starting with an honorable mention:

Honorable Mention- Lee Smith RP

More people probably remember Lee Smith for his time with the Cubs over his brief stint with the Cardinals.  However, some of Smith's better seasons took place during his time in St. Louis.  In 1991 Smith recorded a total of 47 saves which set the National League record at the time.  I first got to watch Smith pitch with the Cubs during the mid 1980s when the Cubs games were on WGN every afternoon.  Whether they were playing the Cardinals or not, the daytime Cubs games were always a good way to pass sometime during the summers.  I would be more inclined to rank Lee Smith on this list if it weren't for his partial 1993 with the Cardinals.  It was brutal and there were a lot of blown saves/leads.

5.  Bob Tewksbury SP 

Tewksbury may not be a name that some know, or remember, but he did play for both teams during his career.  His Cubs career was all of 8 games after the right-handed starting pitcher joined the baby bears in a trade with the Yankees for pitcher Steve Trout.  Most of Tewksbury's Cubs career actually took place in Triple A.  The Cardinals signed Bob Tewksbury during December of 1988.  He spent some time in Triple A with the Cardinals too before he landed a gig in the team's starting rotation during the 1990 season.  Playing for the early/mid 1990s Cardinals meant a whole lot of losing, but Tewksbury was a good pitcher.  Not just compared to the rest of the rotation, but actual good pitchers like Greg Maddux.  His best season with the Cardinals, and his career, took place in 1992 when he went 16-5, had an ERA+ of 158, and a WAR of 6.5.  Tewks finished 3rd in the National League Cy Young voting that season.  He bounced around to a few teams after he left the Cardinals, always a fan even if he wasn't always the best pitcher.

4. So Taguchi OF

Taguchi played in St. Louis for a total of 6 years and in Chicago for a single season.  He was not a regular starter for either team, but he was a really easy player to cheer on.  Taguchi's main contribution during his eight year career in the U.S. was as a defense first fourth outfielder.  The highlight of his Cardinals career came in 2006 when he helped the Cardinals advance to the World Series with a key home run off of Billy Wagner during Game 2 of the NLCS.  So Taguchi ended up on the Cubs in 2009 after winning a second World Series with the Phillies in 2008.  He actually spent the majority of the year with the Triple A Iowa Cubs, but was called up for a few games at the end of the season.  

3.  Shawon Dunston SS 

Another 1980s Cubs player who I first saw on WGN watching baseball during summer break.  Everyone who watched a Cubs game in the 1980s knew about the Shawon-O-Meter, a sign which showed the shortstop's batting average.  It always made an appearance at some point during every telecast.  Dunston was a very good shortstop for the Cubs for a dozen years, but spent the latter part of his career bouncing around the league as a bench player.  He appeared for the Cardinals for two seasons in 1999 and 2000.  Dunston was most noted for having a rifle arm, but too me, was just an overall exciting player who had a little bit of everything in his game.  

2. Jon Jay OF 

Jay was a long time start for the Cardinals.  Never a star player, Jay just went out and played everyday the best he could.  Much of his time with the Cardinals was overshadowed by players like Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, but he still spent the better part of 6 seasons patrolling center field in Busch Stadium and getting on base at the top of the line-up.  He's the only active player on this last, and is in his first season with the Cubs, but Jay is one of the former Cardinals player I always check out in the box scores every morning.  His role has been a little bit more limited with the Cubs, but he's still been a positive contributor for the Baby Bears.  

1. Jim Edmonds OF 

There were so many great moments that Edmonds had with the Cardinals during his eight years with the team.  It's hard to remember him as a Cub, but he spent one season on the north side of Chicago.  After the Cardinals traded their center fielder to the Padres for David Freese, he fizzled and was released.  He signed with the Cubs and actually had a good year for the team in 2008 posting an OPS of .937 and 19 home runs in just 85 games.  The Cardinals were not very good that year and the Cubs ended up in the playoffs, so this one hurt a little bit more than the others.  Still really like Jim Edmonds even if he spent some time with the Cubs.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Expos Sweetness

There is something I really miss about having the Expos around baseball.  The Nationals are not really the same thing.  For most of my childhood, the Expos were in the same division as my Cardinals, and while they had some really great players, they were never dreaded or hated the same way as the Mets and Cubs.

The Expos were the lovable team in the National League.  If you team didn't win, but the Expos won it was really hard to be upset.  As a Cardinals fan, they didn't beat the Redbirds in the standings often, but when they did there was really nothing to be upset about.  Add in the fact that the Expos had really awesome uniforms and some really great players and you've got some great cards to chase down as a collector.

I specifically look out for a few players who appeared for both the Expos and Cardinals, as well as a few former Montreal players who were just fun to watch.  One of my favorites was a fairly memorable Expo who had a forgettable year as a Cardinal.  I am talking about the Big Cat....

Andres Galarraga has a bunch of Cardinals base cards from his time on the Cardinals and nothing else since that time.  Cannot say that I blame the different card companies for skipping him with the birds on the bat.  His 1992 season, spent with the Cardinals, was easily one of his worst year's of his professional career.  Luckily, card companies have celebrated his time with the Expos.  

My latest Galarraga comes out of this year's Topps Tribute set.  This is a great looking baseball card....

As usual, the Big Cat has a great signature.  The card stock and finish on these cards is really nice this year too.  I like the Expos pictures too with both a still shot and action shot in the background make the card pop.  The other feature I kind of like on the card is the years of his career in the lower right hand corner.  Pretty cool feature to help out younger collectors who may not necessarily remember Galarraga as a player, or weren't around for his time as a player.  

Another sweet Expos card makes me a very happy collector.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #18 - Ryan Klesko

1990 Durham Bulls 

The Atlanta Braves picked Klesko in the fifth round of the 1989 MLB Draft out of high school in California.  It took him one year to reach the Bulls who were an A Ball team in the Carolina League at the time.  In 77 games for the 1990 Durham Bulls Klesko posted a .274/.343/.408 line with 7 home runs, 16 doubles, and 47 RBIs.  Klesko reached the Majors in 1992, sticking with the Braves for good in 1994 when he played more than 90 games.  He ended up playing a total of 16 seasons, mainly for the Braves and Padres, before retiring after spending the 2007 season with the Giants.  Klesko ended his career with 278 home runs, 343 doubles, and a slash line of .279/.370/.500.  Klesko was a member of the 1995 Braves World Series winning team.  

This is my second Topps Archives Snapshot in my Project Durham Bulls series.  I don't have any particular connection to this set, nor am I trying to put together the set or something.  They just happen to be pretty easy to find, plus the two cards I have featured were pretty easy cards to find.  This Klesko card has to be one of the easier cards to pull out of this product......

350 seems like a pretty large number for a recent set.  No?  Overall the Archives Snapshot cards are pretty simple and clean in terms of design.  They also have on-card signatures.  His more recent autographs are generally on card signatures, but he has a bunch of cards from his playing days that are stickers.  My only regret with this card is the fact that he is a Padre.  Still, Klesko is one of the better former Durham Bulls players from the 1990s, seemed like a player I'd like to include in these posts sooner than later.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Short Little Post of Appreciation For A Short Little Player

There are a few modern players whom I have missed out on over the years.  There are very few players that I will actively skip over.  Does Josh Lueke have an autograph?  No, we are good.  Most of those good players that have been skipped over, or do not appear regularly in this space, are absent for many reasons.  None of them involve a lack of effort, nor active avoidance.  Save for Josh Lueke.
One of the players I have missed out on over the years has been Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.  The infielder is noted for his ability to hit for a high average and his short stature.  Most recently there was this picture of him standing next to Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.  Judge is quiet tall.  

One of my favorite Altuve height related things on the internet is the Twitter account for How Many Altuves.  It takes measurements of home runs, all sorts of other things too, and converts them into the measure known as Altuves.  Each Altuve is approximately 5 and a half feet tall.  

Which leads me to this: I have never ever put a Jose Altuve card on my site.  Like nothing, ever.  So, I was recently trading a few cards, looking through a photo gallery that a trading partner had posted, when I saw an Altuve card.  Normally I would have kept scanning the cards and passed it by, but the price listed on the card seemed a little too good.  It actually was perfectly in-line with what his cards sell for on Ebay.  

The point is, the Altuve card was cheaper than what I had honestly expected the card to fetch.  I took the dive and put the card into the trade.  Now, it is in my collection....

This is actually a lot nicer card than I thought it was going to be when I saw it online.  Tribute is always a nice product, but this year's cards have a nice smooth finish and seem to have a thicker card stock too.  Seeing this Altuve card, holding it my hand, may have led me to find a few other autographs from this set.  Maybe.