Monday, May 22, 2017

Just Cat

Venturing outside of baseball cards tonight to pay homage to college basketball.  Easily my second favorite sport outside of baseball.  Like 80% of people who live in the Triangle (figurative statistic, not actual) I am not actually from Raleigh, Durham, nor Chapel Hill, so I picked my ACC school of choice later in life after going through grad school.  If you are not a regular reader, I graduated from the red North Carolina school.  

This one....



We are not Duke, nor Carolina (insert snarky comment about attending class), but State is still a decent basketball program.  In the past few years the Wolfpack have been a regular in the NCAA Tournament and made it into the Sweet Sixteen twice.  One of those appearances resulted in the infamous crying piccolo girl at Villanova.....


The past two years have been disappointing though.  The team has regressed back to their form from when I was in school there.  Bottom half of the league in the standings, poor play from highly recruited players, etc.  I thought we were past things like this.......


which was easily the worst thing I have ever seen at a basketball game.  State hasn't even really had the chance to lose games that dramatically the past two years.  They have just been bad.  Still, there have been some really good players on the team the past two years.  Last year the Wolfpack were led by super freshman Dennis Smith Jr.  The previous year the team had sensational point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.  

Barber is from Newport News and draws a lot of comparisons to Allen Iverson.  They are from the same area, both are small undersized guards with a lot of speed.  


Cat ended up leaving State after his junior year of college and spent a chunk of last season in the D-League.  I still have hope that he will crack an NBA roster at some point.  He's a great player, hard worker, no doubt he will have a chance.  

In the meantime, I have ventured out looking for a few nice basketball cards of the shifty guard.  I love that you can find cards of players in their college basketball uniforms.  He actually has three or four cards out there, but I liked this Panini card the best....



Just a beautiful card, made way better by the fact that Cat Barber autographed the card with just the word Cat.  The gold pen looks nice on the black background.  The card actually has a fairly glossy finish, but it looks a little bit on the matte side after the scan.....the back of the card.....


The back does seem to have some sort of weird two sided thing going on, if you look at the middle of Cat's face.  Not sure what effect Panini was going for here.  Still I like the black and white picture with the NC State logo down at the bottom of the card.  Happy to start off the Cat Barber collection and hope to add a few more nice autographs in the near future.  Hopefully a few of them will be of Cat in an NBA uniform....

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 52

I am completely fascinated by the 1970s Kelloggs and Hostess cards.  I don't post many of the ones that come into my collection, but I always look for them in the cheapy bins at card shows, or if I am buying a card on Ebay and see one I can get with combined shipping I will go for it.  I recently made a non-Kelloggs card trade and ended up with a cool 1975 card as a freebie.  

Silent George.  




George is pretty cool in my book.  Played on the Cardinals in the early 1980s and was a big part of the 1982 Cardinals World Series team.  He was also traded for John Tudor who became one of my favorite mid-late 1980s Cardinals players.  I also went to college with one of George's kids who had the second most fumble recoveries in a season while playing at Southeast Missouri.  



I don't have many 1970s Hendrick cards, maybe something on the A's or Padres, but nothing on the Indians.  Not really one of my favorite teams, so they get skipped over often.  Anyway, I really like the 1975 Kelloggs cards, not sure if they are my favorite all-time design from that company, but they are high up there.  Which brings me to a throw-in to the throw-in.  

It started out as a quick thank you message for the cards I had originally traded for along with the Hendrick.  I made note to say something nice about the Kelloggs Hendrick card since I really enjoy those cards.  That prompted my trading partner to mention the fact that they had a cool Kelloggs oddball, also a 1975, which I would really enjoy.  

A few days later in the mail I received a white envelope with this card inside......


What is it?  It's another 1975 Kellogg's card.  This one is from the American Presidents sets.  I did not know such a thing even existed.  Kind of good timing considering that my son has been really into Presidents for the last few months.  We have books, pictures, look at coins to see what President is on them, etc, etc....


Anything with Presidents is cool, so I will have to stash away Franklin Pierce and see if he wants to put this card in with all of his other stuff.  Although, if you know anything about Franklin Pierce he was arguably one of the worst Presidents........


ever.  He had a sad start to his Presidency and then lived the rest of his life in sort of an alcohol induced stupor.  

Cha Cha Graph

During my high school years I used to regularly go to Cardinals games on Sunday afternoons with my father.  We'd drive downtown to Busch and check out the early-mid 1990s Cardinals which were some of the worst teams in the history of the franchise.  Gussie Busch died at the end of the 1989 season leaving his son, August IV, in charge of the team.  The Cardinals became cheap and indifferent to the product on the field.

The pitching staff was led by such notables as Bob Tewksbury, Omar Oliveras, and Rene Arocha, and while I love Ray Lankford and will argue you non-stop about him deserving to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, he had very little help.  Mark Whiten was decent, Pagnozzi was a nice defensive catcher, but there were too many players like Tripp Cromer and Scott Cooper on the roster.  

In the end my father and I often spent time watching players on the team shine against the Cardinals and I also got a fair share of stories about the Cardinals teams of the 1950s and 1960s that my father grew up watching.  That included lots of stories about Musial, Gibson, and Brock.  Other notable names got tossed in there too like Roger Maris, Julian Javier, Mike Shannon, and Ken Boyer.  

Then there was Orlando Cepeda.  There was only one Cha Cha story that my father ever told and it came out every time someone hit a long home run.  I think I first heard the story at some point in late elementary school after Jack Clark launched a ball to the back of the bleachers.  Basically, the first game my father went to in Busch Stadium II, the cookie cutter one, was a pitchers dual that was decided on a Cepeda home run.  

Supposedly the home run landed in the home deck of Busch, straight down the left field line, near the top of the second deck.  There is no video of the dinger, but there are news stories....


While I have spent time and money chasing down autographs of a lot of the players from those Cardinals teams of the 1950s and 1960s, there have been a few players who have escaped me.  I actually have a Cepeda autograph, but it is with the Giants.  I am sure that most people who saw Cha Cha in person probably remember him better as a member of the Giants, still he won a World Series with the Cardinals in 1967 and won a National League Championship with the team the following year in 1968.  Pretty good stretch before he was traded to the Braves for Joe Torre.  

There have been a few Cepeda autographs in a Cardinals uni over the years, but I have never tracked one down until last week.......


The 1968 Topps are not my favorites, I am a fan of the burlap sack comparisons, but that was a good year for the Cardinals.  Very happy to add this nice Cepeda autograph to the collection.  Maybe I need to find the other Cardinals autographs in this year's Heritage set....there are a few more nice ones....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Temptations of the Target Card Aisle

I really can't stand shopping and try to avoid it at all costs.  I can do the grocery store, hardware stores, and definitely the baseball card shop.  However, other places like Target, Wal-Mart, and big box malls are low on my list.  Why should I rummage through stacks of khakis at Macys or The Gap when I can just simply go click a few buttons and have pants sitting on my front porch a few days laters....

As much as I try to avoid these types of stores, sometimes they are a necessary evil.   Lord knows I cannot stand that Target dog, but seeing him means that I can always stop by the card aisle at Target.


Most of the time I glance through the cards, but I often pass up the chance to buy cards.  I don't like spending money on retail blasters and packs when I am just going to end up buying a Hobby box at some point.  The one time where I feel weak around the retail card aisles is when I have not had a chance to buy a hobby box of a product that I want to collect....

Sometimes in the past my local card shop has been a day or two late in receiving shipments and I have dabbled with a hobby pack or two, but in the case of this year's Bowman set I am skipping the Hobby Box altogether.  I have picked up a few autographs, which I have already posted, and I have also picked up a copy of a set.  It's just that I got one of those awesome Ebay messages about my seller being out of town and the shipment being delayed by 10 days.  Annoying, but I liked the price, so worth the wait.

In the meantime, I ventured into Target and I found myself grabbing a few packs of Bowman....



So a few quick thoughts on this year's set.  First, the design reminds me a little bit of the 1994 Bowman set.  I think it has a lot to do with the border in the top right hand corner with the Bowman logo.....


It sort of the reverse of the 1994 set which had a border, the line is a little thicker and extends the full length of the card, with the Bowman logo in the opposite corner.......


There are some obvious differences between the two card designs...94 was just the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the cards.  

The rest of the set seems typical of what Bowman puts out each year.  As a minor league baseball guy this is a staple set in my collection and I love seeing a lot of the players I get to check out in the Minors, or will check out, in a card set.  

So, let's start with my minor league team of choice the Durham Bulls.  I was able to find a few former Durham players in my few packs of Bowman along with a current player....


although Schultz is currently on the DL with the Bulls.  The guy produces a serious amount of misses, good under the radar player if you are into that sort of thing.  

We get the top 100 prospects set back again.  I have often thought about trying to assemble one of these sets, but that seems like it would be a rather tough task.  I pulled two cards from this insert set....



I like the Maitan card.  I know several Braves fans who really like him.  I will file this one away and check in on it in a few years.  Even though I will probably not come close to finishing this inset set, I will at least go find the Cardinals and Rays cards in this set.  

We also have some international cards in the set this year because of the World Baseball Classic.  Not really a fan of these, but in the past some of them have turned out to be a big deal after players have joined MLB from other places.  

I pulled a Korean pitcher.......


kind of wish it was Seung Hwan Oh.  Not sure about Yang Hyeon-Jong. 

Last card is a Buyback.  Topps seems to have gone all in on these sorts of things of late.  I pulled a Freddy Garcia card.  


I like seeing some of the older cards and enjoy revisiting them, but it's Freddy Garcia.  It's Bowman.  If I am going to get a Buyback I was hoping for a prospect that didn't make it....

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 51

I am not a Yankees fan.  I am not going to make some post claiming that Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop of all-time, nor the greatest modern shortstop.  Still he has been really important to the baseball card hobby and I felt I could take a few minutes to give him a little love on the night the Yankees retire his number 2.  Specifically I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about my favorite Derek Jeter rookie card.



I really liked the Stadium Club cards back in the early 1990s.  Upper Deck was probably my favorite of the glossy "premium" cards from that era, but Stadium Club was not far behind.  At the time the Stadium Club Murphy and Stadium Club Dome sets were released they were some what of an oddity.  A boxed set in a plastic stadium.  The guy at my local card shop at the time thought that they were pretty ridiculous.  I don't remember the conversation when I picked up the Murphy set, but I got a long talk about how the Dome set was "gimmicky" with filled with "senior photos in their mom's backyard" when I bought a copy during college.

I somewhat agreed with him.  I actually don't have my box for either one of the sets.  I broke them both and at some point tossed the box.  Given the number of singles from the set floating around I don't feel too bad being without the boxes.

This is what it looked like....thank you Ebay.....



The Jeter card didn't feature him wearing a cool high school or American Legion uniform like Shawn Green.....


or making an fashion statement straight out of a Bell Biv DeVoe video like Ozzie Timmons.....


It's still easily my favorite Jeter rookie card and probably my top overall Jeter card in my collection.  Not that I go out of my way for his baseball cards, but I feel like this card is one of the most iconic 1990s baseball cards.  It's not the Griffey rookie card, but if I made a list I would have it in my top 10.  


In Search of Mags

I try to make Mother's Day an easy day for my wife.  I wake early with the little ones, make breakfast, and do a bunch of chores.  This morning I emptied out the dishwasher, filled it with a few things that did not fit in at the end of the night yesterday and then I put away laundry.  Wrangling a six year old who likes to read books is not a difficult task, but keeping an eye on a nine month old who furniture surfs, climbs stairs, and get her hands on anything she is not supposed to is a little bit more difficult.

Luckily I combined the laundry and care of the nine month old....


Littlest one was amused by being in a laundry basket and I had a few minutes to sit down to type a blog post after the house looked good.  I needed the extra time because I need to dig out a card for today's post.

A few years back, when I used to write a blog post almost everyday, I used to not even try to post all of the cards that came into my collection.  I stuck with the ones that were the most interesting at the time, so plenty of cards went straight into boxes without touching my scanner.

As it turns out, what was not interesting a few years back has suddenly become interesting during the past week all thanks to a bunch of Cardinals outfielders getting hurt and the team having to call up a speedy little outfielder all the way from A-Ball by the name of Magneuris Sierra.  Here is Mags in action last weekend against the Braves.....


The 2017 Cardinals are slow and sloppy on the bases.  Their defense causes fans to check their supply of antacids or alcohol or both.   Mags is the opposite of those things.  He can catch a fly ball and then the ball back into the infield.  He can run to a base without doing something really really stupid.  Although he got picked off right after he got his first hit.....Otherwise he hasn't done anything stupid on the bases.  

Anyway, I know I picked up a Mags auto a few years back and decided to wade through the autograph box to see if my memory served me right.  I broke out one of the autograph boxes.....


and started wading through a few hundred autographs of players with S last names.  There were plenty of scrubby Cardinals along the way....


like Kevin Siegrist.  I know people like him, I don't.  I also found a cool Kyle Skipworth card too.....


who is a former Greensboro Grasshopper and guy who was drafted way too high (6th overall) considering he's playing in Double A this year almost ten years after being picked.  Then I found it.....


I know I am not really big on the Panini cards, and it's a sticker autograph, but it's not like there is another Sierra autograph out there at the moment.  I was just happy that my memory was correct and I had one of these in the collection.  Especially since these have had one of those "This guy got called up and had a few hits, so I am going to pay a whole bunch of money for one" weeks since the Cardinals called him up.  There are a few other Mags cards in my collection beyond this autograph, but that's for another day.....


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #13: Zane Smith


1983 Durham Bulls 


Background- 
Zane Smith was drafted out of Indiana State by the Braves in the third round of the 1982 MLB Draft. That summer he pitched half of a season with the Anderson Braves which was the team's Low A Ball team in the South Atlantic League.  For his first full season in professional baseball in 1983 the Braves sent Smith to Durham.  While playing for the Bulls he posted a 9-15 record in 27 games, all starts, with 126 strikeouts in 170.2 innings.  Not his best season, but the Braves bumped Smith up to Double A for the start of the 1984 season, and by the end of the year, he was pitching in Atlanta.  Smith went on the have a nice 13 year career pitching for the Braves, Pirates, Expos, and Red Sox.  His best season was probably 1990 which was split between the Expos and Pirates.  While Smith's record was only 12-9, but his ERA was just 2.55.  Smith also had a great NLCS in 1991 with the Pirates allowing just 1 run in 14 inning during the series against the Braves.  

Card-
The Durham Bulls became the Devil Rays Triple A in 1998.  Many of the players on the Bulls teams for the past 20 years are relatively easy to find.  Prior to becoming a Rays affiliate, the Bulls had spent almost 20 years as the Braves entry in the Carolina League.  The Braves cards are a little bit harder to find, especially the players from the 1980s Bulls teams, but several of the mid/late 1990s mega autograph sets have a few of the players in them.  I'm glad that Zane Smith was in a Pirates uniform for this set and not a Red Sox card since he had spent 1995 in Boston.  Nothing wrong with the Red Sox, but this is the way I remember Zane Smith.  (Would have also been fine with an Expos card).   




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Two-Thirds Of A Jumbo

I have taken a pass on buying any boxes of Bowman this year.  Not changing my mind for anything, but I will still end up with the set at some point in the near future.  While I am collecting a few less sets this year Bowman is still a staple set for me.  It someways I feel like I am missing out on the fun by just skipping ahead and buying a set from someone.  At the same time I can spend more time and money finding single cards from the set, or other sets later this year.

Or the cards that I am missing from sets I am putting together on the top tab.

I have already picked up two autographs from this year's Bowman set that I picked up in a trade last week.  One Rays/Durham Bulls card and one Cardinals card.  The jumbo boxes that I am skipping out on come with three autographs, but they seem to be a little pricey for whatever reason this year....


That says $199.95 if you cannot squint your eyes to read the price.  I can get some pretty nice cards for $200 even if I set aside something like $40 to buy a set.  Well, I have two-thirds of that jumbo box, I haven't spent $40 for a set yet, but I do have two cool autographs to show for my efforts....

Let's start with the Cardinals autograph.



Alcantara signed as a teenager with the Cardinals.  He has been around for a few years, and if you just look at the numbers on the stat sheet, you'd probably not think too much about him as a prospect.  Except Alcantara is one of those really raw players who is becoming more polished with time and throws in the high 90s.  His best stat is that he strikes out slightly more than a batter per inning.  I will file this card away and check back in two years or so....

Next is my Durham Bulls card.  



Honeywell started out the year in Double A Montgomery, but has been promoted to Durham a few weeks back.  He's had a bit of a rough start in Triple A, but I like Honeywell regardless....

He's a bit of a throwback player in that he is the first pitcher I can remember since Fernando Valenzuela to throw a screwball.  The screwgy.  



Pretty hard to not like this guy based on that one pitch in his arsenal.  I have still not seen Honeywell in person, but I intend to do so sometime during the next home stand.  Assuming Honeywell has not been called up, sent down, or something else.  

Meanwhile, I need to go out and find another autograph.  Still a few more Durham Bulls and Cardinals players with autographs in Bowman for me to track down.