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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Big Leagues



The scan is really crooked, but I found the last Tim Beckham autograph I needed from last year.  He was in a few different Topps products last year, but somehow I missed this card from Big Leagues.  It's a sticker autograph, but I still like the card.  There have been a few up on Ebay with "Buy It Now" listings, but I thought I could get it at a better price.  A little patience paid off. 

Which brings me to this year's Big League set.  I ended up picking up a few packs the other week at Target, the blaster boxes are dirt cheap.  I got something good out of the box too.  First off, the base set is a disaster. 



Not sure you could squeeze much more onto a card.  My ADD is kicked into overtime here.  There is a crooked photo, a wood grain background, a bar with the player name, a pennant, a ticket stub looking box with SEC, ROW, and SEAT, and the brand logo in the top right.  

It looks like the car that Homer Simpson designs in that one episode where he finds out he has a brother who runs a car company.......



Terrible.  I won't even find the single Cardinals or former Durham Bulls players in this set. 

My good card....



This design is a little better, but after a week in my collection I still do not know what is a "Rookie Republic"???? What is it?  Anyone at Topps?  

Seriously, I really like that I got a Willians Astudillo autographed card out of a box of cards from Target.  The picture on the card makes him look slender, and you cannot see the true volume of his hair on this card.  





Definitely one of the better personalities in baseball at the moment. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 3 - 1987 Topps Mike Laga



There are two things that I remember about Mike Laga.

First, he's the only player to have ever hit a ball out of Busch Stadium II.  That was the 1960s-early 2000s cookie cutter bowl.  The ball that was hit out of the stadium was a foul ball.





Laga was a terrific Minor League power hitter when the Cardinals picked him up in a trade for catcher Mike Heath.  While playing for the Tigers in the Minors Laga had posted home run totals of 31, 34, 16, 30, and 20.  Every year the Tigers seemed to bring him up for a few at bats, but the power never followed him to the Majors.  

The back of his baseball card shows that Mike Laga hit some home runs, and he struck out when the ball did not go over the fence.  



Luckily, the Cardinals also got Ken Hill in the Mike Heath trade.  He ended up being a decent starting pitcher.  

Second thing I remember Mike Laga for is this baseball card.  Yes, it's airbrushed.  Yes, it's airbrushed pink.  My wife says it's actually old lady pink.  



There is a player wearing a blue jacket over Laga's right shoulder, so I assume that this was a picture of him on the Tigers, rather than him in a Cardinals Minor League uniform.  Topps managed to get a blue Tigers hat airbrushed to red, but a white or gray Tigers jersey got turned pink?  Sometimes I wish there were documentaries on how baseball cards like this one were made.   There has to be a good story, right?   

A movie I like from 1987 is The Princess Bride.  Inconceivable.  



Sunday, May 26, 2019

Weekend Countdown: My Top 10 College Baseball Cards

The NCAA Baseball tournament will be starting up this week, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at some college baseball cards this weekend.  Of course, the cards are going to be from predictable schools if you have followed along here for any length of time. 

Here are this week's rules:  

  • Cards have to show the player in their college uniform, no airbrushed out logos from Leaf, or other non-licensed products

  • No USA Baseball cards, or Perfect Game cards.

  • No Tar Heels or Jayhawks. Both have had cards on my blog, not on this post.  

  • The cards have to be currently in my collection.  Sorry, not sorry Buster Posey.  




Honorable Mention: The other dozen Donruss Elite Collegiate Patch cards that are in my collection, but not in this post.  

Let's Go.


10. 2008 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches Sean Doolittle Autograph - My favorite relief pitcher who used to play first base at an ACC school, and also at USA Baseball.  I don't even remember him looking like that while he was at UVA.  Convinced the card designer went to Virginia Tech.  





9.  2008 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches Alan Dykstra Autograph - He won the home run derby when the Durham Bulls hosted the Triple A All-Star Game.  He would later play for the Durham Bulls.  I like Alan Dykstra, but the Deacon is a tad bit creepy.  




9. 2015 Panini Contenders Michael Matuella Autograph - My favorite Duke player not named Marcus Stroman.  Matuella was a first round, pick one type of talent, but he had a bunch of injuries.  Still got drafted by the Rangers, and is currently playing for the Down East (Kinston, NC) Wood Ducks.  That's the Carolina League for those inquiring where a team named the Wood Ducks could be found.   




8. 2009 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches Brad Boxberger Autograph - I saw him pitch the last two outs of a no hitter for the Durham Bulls.  Also attended my least favorite Pac 12 school, which is a two way tie if I am sitting next to a UCLA fan talking about basketball banners their school won fifty years ago.  




7. 2016 Panini Black Gold Trea Turner Autograph - It seems like Panini made a bunch of cards of Trea Turner that look really similar to this one.  Considered making this one the sixth best card.  



6. 2016 Panini Black Gold Trea Turner Autograph - because they did.  Considered making this one the seventh best card, but I will leave it at number six.  



5. 2010 Donruss Elite Jordan Swagerty/Magic Johnson Autograph - How did a Magic Johnson autograph get onto a Jordan Swagerty card?  I have seen some funny stories over the years, not sure if any of them are true.  Before you say, "but the stickers are just switched", remember that there is a patch version of this card with a Sun Devil on it. 



4. 2017 Panini National Treasures Max Scherzer Autograph - Pretty nice card of a pretty good pitcher.  I got this Mizzou card because there was not a Parkway Central card of him.  




3. 2007 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches David Price Autograph - One of my favorite former Durham Bulls players.  This cards used to be a bigger deal than it is now.  Still a pretty nice card.  



2. 2007 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches Max Scherzer Autograph - Last card from this set.  Promise.  



1. 2015 Panini Contenders Collegiate Connections Russell Wilson/Trea Turner Autograph - There are some really not great things about this card, but it is Russell Wilson and Trea Turner.  One of them is a starting NFL quarterback with a Super Bowl ring, the other is a starting shortstop on the Washington Nationals.  Awesome players.  What is wrong with the card?  See below.  




1. Turner and Wilson never played on the same team.  Wilson's final season in Raleigh was 2010, Turner was a freshman in 2011.  Russell Wilson did play baseball in 2011, but he was in the Rockies Minor League system.  

2. Russell Wilson appeared in 106 baseball games at NC State in three years.  He pitched in 10 games for a total of 12 innings, all during his junior season.  Somehow Panini has at least two cards of him playing for NC State and pitching.  

That's all I got.  

Buckets!!!

It has been almost two years since I have found a decent card of one of my favorite former NC State players, and current Phoenix Sun, T.J. Warren.  He was a lottery pick a few years ago, after scoring a ton of points while playing in Raleigh.  He scored at the rim, on jumpers, 3 pointers, and all sorts of runners and floaters.





All of which earned him the nickname Tony Buckets.  

I do not do much with basketball cards, I dabble here and there, but I have a nice little stack of T.J. Warren cards going.  I do not know much about basketball cards, but there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of T.J. Warren cards the past few years.  The last card I picked up was some sort of knight/castle inspired autographed card....



Since that time, averaging almost 20 points per game somehow gets you less cards made.  Go figure.  Maybe it's because the Suns are really bad.  Maybe it's because T.J. Warren has been injured a few times and missed some games.  Honestly, I do not know.  

So, magically it appears that there are some nice new cards of T.J. Warren that have popped up in the last year.  They are suddenly really cheap too.  I picked up one of them, and will likely add a few more in the coming weeks.  Here is my new card....





Pretty excited for a few more too.  

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Bulls Card I Missed

Topps does not make many Durham Bulls cards.  There are only two products that show Minor League players in their Minor League uniforms.  There is Pro Debut.....



and Heritage Minors......



and that is seemingly the end of the list.  Almost.  

There is actually another Topps card, outside of Pro Debut and Heritage, with a Durham Bulls card on the checklist.  I have seen the card several times over the years, but just never taken the time to buy the card.  Just kind of floating around out there, not in my collection, but I finally ended up with the card last week.....

The scan does not do the card justice....



This is out of eTopps.  It was Topps first attempt at selling single cards directly to collectors.  I do not buy any of them from Topps, but I have picked up a few over the years from Ebay and card shows.  I have long been a fan of Desmond Jennings.  Not the best Major Leaguer, but he was a great player in the Minors for the Bulls.

Back of the card.....



Slugging percentage of almost .500 out of the leadoff spot.  Pretty impressive.  You can also see the eTopps Minor League Prospectus label under the Bulls logo.  This card was from 2010, same time Topps was rolling out with Pro Debut.  Actually a really good set, if you're into Minor League cards.  



Monday, May 20, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 5

I had this bad feeling that there were not going to be many Blake Snell autographs in this year's Topps products after I started this series of posts.  The feeling lingered for a few weeks, but then I went out and did some work on adding some new cards last week.  It appears that Topps is still making Blake Snell autographs. 

The new autograph.....



is from Tier One.

The design of the card feels like some sort of wallpaper pattern.  What are the little patterns on the side supposed to be, and how do they fit onto a baseball card?  I am not sure, but I like that there is a picture of Snell centered on the card, and an autograph in a clear space.  The usual Snell autograph, and the card has a print run of 299 copies. 

Back of the card. 



CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That's not very interesting.  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 2 - 1981 Topps Traded Joaquin Andujar



I complain a lot about bad airbrushing on modern baseball cards.  Really, it has not improved very much since 1981.  The Cardinals hat looks too small, or the STL logo is somehow not proportionate, not really sure which is the case.  The red, white, and blue striping around the neckline is decent though. 

This is a really underrated card, and underrated player with the 1980s Cardinals.  Andujar was an important player with the Cardinals for five or six years.  He started a bunch of important playoff games during his time in St. Louis.

Some went well, like the seventh game of the 1982 World Series....





Some did not go so well, like the seventh game of the 1985 World Series....



In the regular season, Andujar won 68 games in 5 season, including two 20 win seasons.  Good player on some really good Cardinals teams.  Still, I do not see this card pop up too often considering the role he played on some of the better Cardinals teams.  For years, I think the earliest Andujar card I had of him on the Cardinals was his 1982 Topps.  Another nice card with a side profile of Andujar, I will give it a post at some point.  

This 1981 Topps Traded card is not one that I owned as a kid, but as I an adult I found it at some point and have liked it ever since.  Even with the bad airbrushing, at least it's not pixelated.  

A song or movie I like from 1981....

The Specials.  Any song with an organ solo is solid.  



Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Card From The Pack

The prices on Bowman have continued to drop off, so I decided that last week was the right time to add a few more cards from the set.  This time I went with two Cardinals.  I do not know too much about the first player outside the fact that his father is former Rangers shortstop Benji Gil. 



The Cardinals took the infielder in the third round of last year's draft, but at 17 he has a long way to go to reach the Majors.  This was a really cheap card, so really no risk here in picking up this card.  The weird airbrushing reminds me of Bowman Draft.  Hopefully, he turns out to be a good player. 

Next up, a card I have wanted for awhile. 




Knizner went to NC State and was a good player in college.  He was a freshman All-American, but lost a little traction during his time playing for the Pack while transitioning from third base to catching.  My Cardinals drafted him 2016, and he has ascended to Triple A.  Good prospect, but has not had many cards for some reason.  This is my second of 2019, let's hope there are a few more at some point.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Elite Cards

I took a little time last week to go look for a few 70s, 80s, and 90s cards that I have wanted to add to my collection.  A bunch of the cards were on COMC, a post at some point next week, a few came from a trade, and also a couple off of Ebay.  One of my quests in collecting single cards is to fill in some holes with older Cardinals and Durham Bulls cards.  

There are some really nice cards out there of players who started their careers other places, but ended up on the Cardinals at some point.  I am missing cards from the other places more so than the Cardinals.  The Durham Bulls situation is a little different, but that is for a different post.  

My two Cardinals for tonight both appeared in the 1993 Donruss Elite set, but not as Cardinals.  

First up, Mark McGwire.  



Not sure when the Donruss cards were put out during the 1993 calendar year, but it was a lost year for McGwire.  He only played a 150 games between 1993 and 1995.  I am not saying that he was totally cut out of products, but he definitely has fewer cards from those three years.  

Check out the card counts on COMC.  




When I flip through my McGwire cards from his time with the A's I feel like they are all either from his first few years in the league, or they are from his time leading up to the trade to the Cardinals.  Overall, I think this was one of his better non-Cardinals McGwire cards that I missing from my collection.  The Elite cards only had 10,000 copies, seriously tough number in 1993, but they are really popular.  Happy to add this card.  

Next and last.  




Larry Walker was not a Cardinal for long, but I feel bad that I do not have more of his cards.  He was a great player for the Rockies and Expos, and I really did not mind him as an opponent of the Cardinals.  Definitely a Hall of Famer too.  At least in my opinion.  I really need to work on adding a few more of his older cards.  This seems like a good start.  


Monday, May 13, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 1- 1986 Topps Vince Coleman



I am out of 1990s Cardinals players that I am interested in writing about.  On to the 1980s.  

My favorite 1980s Cardinals card has to be the first post.  The first full year that I lived in St. Louis was 1985.  Vince Coleman stole 100 some bases that season.  Yes, there is a 1985 Topps Traded card of Vince, but I did not own that card until I was an adult.  The 1986 Topps card was the first card of Coleman that I actually had a chance to own.  Every week during the summer, two packs of cards from the Manchester Dierbergs.  



The store has been remodeled at least ten times since I was kid, probably too conservative an estimate, but this cool brown and orange sign is supposedly still out in front of the shopping center.  I spent a summer pushing in carts at this store.

At some point during the summer of 1986 I finally pulled a copy of the card.  I don't remember the exact moment, but I am sure that I was excited.

Something else I love from 1986:  Ferris Bueller's Day Off



Sunday, May 12, 2019

Project Durham Bulls #52 - Merrill "Pinky" May


1933 Durham Bulls 


Background- Merrill May was originally a Yankees farmhand after graduating from Indiana University.  At some point in the lower Minors he picked up the nickname "Pinky", but he still has a few baseball cards that refer to him as Merrill.  He played for the Durham Bulls in 1933, who were a Yankees affiliate for just that season, and hit .309 with 3 home runs, and 31 doubles. The Phillies picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft at the end of the 1938 season.  May was the Phillies starting third baseman from 1939 until 1943.  He was best known for his strong defense at the hot corner, and posted a slash line of .275/.354/.337 for his career.  May was drafted into the Navy after the 1943 season.    

After returning from the war, May spent two years playing in the Pirates Minor League system before he was given the opportunity to take over the team's managerial job.  May would spend the the next twenty-five years managing in the Minors for the Pirates, Indians, Yankees, and Reds.  He had some great years mixed in there though, including a 90 win season with Keokuk Kernels, which is a rarity in the Minors.

One of May's other notable moments in his Minor League managing career came in 1967 while managing the Indians Class A Ball team in Statesville, North Carolina.  The league also featured a Pirates affiliate with his son Milt as the starting catcher.  Milt May ended the season with 10 home runs hit against his father's team.  Those ten included an inside the park home run where Pinky was ejected for arguing that the ball got stuck in a net and should only be a double. In another game, Milt hit two home runs in consecutive at-bats, Pinky ordered him to be hit. 

Milt ended up playing 15 years, primarily for the Pirates, Giants, and Tigers.  



Card- Pinky May has several different cards floating around out there, most of them come from the late 1930s and 1940s Play Ball sets.  I did not want to pay a ton of money for some slabbed card, so I watched a few that were in decent shape, and ended up with the one pictured above.  It's off center, the corners are worn, there are some surface issues, but overall I really like this card.  Obviously there are not a ton of 1930s baseball cards in my collection, so it's nice to end up with another one at a reasonable price.  

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Weekend Countdown: Top 10 Albert Pujols Rookie Cards

It's hard to believe that it has been 18 years since Albert Pujols started his career with the Cardinals.  I went to the Cardinals home opener in 2001, but the team started the season on the road, so this was not his first game in the Majors.  First time I saw him, he hit a home run. 





I need to find the ticket stub. 


Nowadays, it seems like Albert is on the highlights every few weeks for passing up some Hall of Famer in an important category, or he is reaching some sort of plateau number.  I know on a day to day basis Albert is not the same player, but it's still amazing to see him pass up some of the all-time greats.  I think my favorite most recent milestone was his 3,000th hit last year against the Mariners.  




A few years back when he first signed with the Angels, I narrowed down my collection of his cards a bit.  A little bit of a knee jerk reaction to him being signed away from the Cardinals, but I have added a few cards back over the last year or two.  I would really like to spend some more time showing off my Albert cards at some point.  I started writing in this space in 2012, the year he left St. Louis, so naturally I have not written much about him.  I have thought about loop back and doing a few posts.   

Let me start out by showing off a few cards today.   

Here are this week's rules.  

  • I am only using Pujols rookie cards, no other years outside of 2001

  • I am only using rookie cards in my collection.  There might be Pujols rookie cards that are considered better than the ones on the list, but I do not own them.  

  • The cards are in order of how I view them, which has a large sentimental factor, don't bother me about where I put his Bowman autograph.  

Go team.  


10. 2001 Donruss The Rookies - This was a mail in card that I got out of a box.  I lost the redemption coupon for awhile, but luckily I found it.  I like that he is a third baseman on this card, and not a utility player.  If you have never heard the story of Pujols making the Cardinals in 2001, it's out there somewhere.  Short version. The Cardinals signed Bobby Bonilla to be a utility player off the bench, he got injured at the end of Spring Training, and so Pujols made the team.  Third was his natural position at this point, although LaRussa did play him all over the place.  





9. 2001 Fleer Platinum - I always liked this set, which was to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1981 Fleer set, but there is something unappealing about this photo.  It's like Pujols had to get a picture taken by someone, and is trying really hard to seem happy to be there.  Reminds me of school picture day.  Not as a kid, but now as an adult.  The photographers don't distinguish the teachers from the kids, "Say school lunch!!!".  No, and I'd rather go hungry.  





8. 2001 Fleer Tradition - Always liked the Fleer base sets from the late 1990s and early 2000s.  I actually think this is one of the worst designs they had, it's still above average.  This was only sold in the factory set, which I did not want to buy, so I picked this one up at a local card shop in St. Louis.  Maybe the only low end Pujols rookie that I did not pull out of a pack.  





7. 2001 Upper Deck - Pulled this out of a pack back in the day.  Love the action shot of him hitting the ball.  The looks like it's in Coors, which is where the Cardinals started out the 2001 season, got to figure it likely from one of his first games.  





6. 2001 Bowman Autograph - It has always bother me that Bowman used the same Pujols picture on tons of cards in 2001.  I think it just felt that way.  It's a Spring Training photo, but you think they could have gotten a more updated picture at some point for their later products.  Considering where Pujols was at his career entering Spring Training in 2001, not supposed to make the roster, I suppose it's nice the Cardinals gave him a decent uniform number.  He could be wearing 72 or 89.  This autograph is terrible for Pujols. 




5. 2001 Topps Traded- Really nice card.  I always liked this update set.  There are some cool parallels where they played with the card stock, chrome parallels, etc.  It's well done.  Good clean card of Pujols.  




4. 2001 Topps Gallery - I liked this brand during the 1990s and early 2000s.  Of course, it's not nearly as good anymore.  The art was a lot better back in the day.  Love this Spring Training picture.  I would love to know if the Cardinals actually have a Coke machine on their Spring Training field, or if that's some sort of artist's addition?  I also miss the birds on the bat hats.  The Cardinals do not wear them enough.  





3. 2001 Bowman's Best- Pretty random choice here, but I have always liked this set.  Yes, it's really modern.  Yes, this is a batting practice photo.  Just something about the photo with Pujols following through on a swing.  Good looking picture.  




2. 2001 Fleer Premium - This was the first Pujols card that I pulled out of a pack.  It was actually a redemption card.  Always been in my top 2, ever since 2001.




1. 2001 Bowman Heritage - Just a great looking card.  It's been my favorite since it came out.  





Friday, May 10, 2019

So Little Time

Over the past three years I have settled into a routine with my blog posts.  I usually make three posts a week: one on Sunday night/Monday morning, one in the middle of the week, and one on Friday or Saturday.  It all averages out to about 15 posts per month.

This month?

No.  

So many other things to do.  However, this morning I made a few minutes to sit down and write about a few of the new cards that have made it into my collection during the past two weeks.  I believe the last new card that I posted was a 2019 Bowman, but I have not shown off any Cardinals or Durham Bulls players.  

Honestly, I have not done much to acquire many cards either, but I found two cards from the 2019 Bowman set that I was excited to add.

First, a Durham Bulls player.  




Lowe played for the Bulls last season, start this year in Durham, but has been called up to the Rays. He probably needs a little more time in Triple A, but still seems like at least a solid Major League player.  

Next.  



This is a Nolan Gorman insert on the 1989 Bowman design.  Not the same size as the 1989 Bowman, which were the size of the 1950s Bowman cards, but I have always liked the simplicity of these cards.  This is a nice card, I am not going to put together the whole insert set, but I will at least go out and get a few more of these.  

It was a good few minutes.