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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Exactly Zero Packs.

Whatever day Topps released their Series 1 cards, I ran by Target before work at 7 A.M. when the store opened.  There were no baseball cards.  I went back later in the afternoon.  There were a few display boxes, but the cards were all gone.  I have been to Target since, but I have spent zero minutes looking for baseball cards while I was in the store.  

I am feeling completely done with packs.  

I opened my first pack of cards in 1983 when I was in 1st Grade.  I have been collecting for 38 years and feel like I have better things to do in life than to chase down packs of cards at retail stores. A wife, two kids, a Betta fish, and a teaching job for starters. While we are here, I am definitely not buying any from the people who are cleaning out Target and Wally World, marking the packs of cards, and reselling them online.  

I am going to buy zero packs of cards this year.  

There are still some nice looking 2021 Topps cards that are worth owning, so during the three weeks since my last blog post I managed to track down a few.  All the players have some sort of connection to the Cardinals or Durham Bulls.  

Non-autographs are up first.  



I like that there are still Blake Snell cards in a Rays uniform.  He does not have any autographs in Series 1, but he has plenty of other cards in there.  Probably work on adding those in the coming weeks.  Not sure how I will feel about his Padres cards.  I will cross that bridge when they start rolling out.  



Next up is Dylan Carlson.  I am still not sure how good of a player he is going to be, but he's at least going to be a starter for the Cardinals this season.  People were crazy about his cards while he was in the Minors.  Settled down a bit last year, but seems like they are picking up in popularity again.  



Patino seems like a good bet for the Durham Bulls this year.  He was part of the Blake Snell trade with the Padres.  Maybe he will start in the Majors, but that would be surprising given the Rays can probably save money in the long run by keeping him in the Minors for a short time.  

I like his signature too, which brings me to my final card.  



Why isn't this a Cardinals card?  

I still like it.  

Until next time.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #4

I have slowed down a bit this month with my 1964 Topps Giants project.  I am nearing the half way point with the set, but still need a few more cards to get there.  This past week, I managed to track down two more cards for my set.  One Hall of Famer, the other would be considered a great player of the era. 

The Hall of Famer is up first.  




The small cost of these cards amazes me, but I was surprised to land a clean card of Harmon Killebrew from the prime of his career for less than $5.  It's not Billy Ripken, but the number 29 caught my attention when I saw this card.  Killebrew wore 3 with the Twins.  After digging into the 1963 Minnesota Twins roster, this bat likely belongs to long-time Reds outfielder Wally Post, who ended his career with the Twins.  



The write-up on this back of this card is actually incorrect.  In 1963, Killebrew did win his second consecutive home run crown, but it was his third overall.  He led the American League in home runs during the 1959 season, but missed out in 1960 and 1961 to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.  Killebrew won the home run crowns in 1962 and 1963.  Unless, they are not counting the 1959, because he tied with Rocky Colavito.  

Last card.  



I always think of Frank Howard as a Washington Senator.  It's easy to forget about him on the Dodgers during the first half of the 1960s.  Those teams had so much pitching, but Frank Howard was the Dodgers  best offensive player.  He won the 1960 National League Rookie of the Year and hit more than 20 home runs in every full season he played with the Dodgers.  That does not sound that impressive, but the National League was loaded with pitching at this point in time.  



The back of this card is another where half of the space is spent on his Minor League career, but I still found it interesting.  The fact that Howard was in the Minors for a season, hit .333 with almost 40 home runs, and the Dodgers let him play a whole season there would never happen today.  Topps mentions the high batting averages in his second season, but he got up to 43 home runs.  Crazy to think about those sorts of numbers in a single Minor League stop these days.  


Updated checklist.  21 out of the 60 cards.  


1 Gary Peters
2 Ken Johnson
3 Sandy Koufax SP
4 Bob Bailey
5 Milt Pappas
6 Ron Hunt
7 Whitey Ford
8 Roy McMillan
9 Rocky Colavito
10 Jim Bunning
11 Roberto Clemente
12 Al Kaline
13 Nellie Fox
14 Tony Gonzalez
15 Jim Gentile
16 Dean Chance
17 Dick Ellsworth
18 Jim Fregosi
19 Dick Groat
20 Chuck Hinton
21 Elston Howard
22 Dick Farrell
23 Albie Pearson
24 Frank Howard
25 Mickey Mantle
26 Joe Torre
27 Ed Brinkman
28 Bob Friend SP
29 Frank Robinson
30 Bill Freehan
31 Warren Spahn
32 Camilo Pascual
33 Pete Ward
34 Jim Maloney
35 Dave Wickersham
36 Johnny Callison
37 Juan Marichal
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
41 Bob Gibson
42 Dick Stuart SP
43 Tommy Davis
44 Tony Oliva
45 Wayne Causey SP
46 Max Alvis
47 Galen Cisco SP
48 Carl Yastrzemski
49 Hank Aaron
50 Brooks Robinson
51 Willie Mays SP
52 Billy Williams
53 Juan Pizarro
54 Leon Wagner
55 Orlando Cepeda
56 Vada Pinson
57 Ken Boyer
58 Ron Santo
59 Johnny Romano
60 Bill Skowron SP









Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Series Of Infrequent Posts

This has been a busy last few weeks.  I have been transitioning from being a virtual school teacher to being a hybrid school teacher.  That means that I am teaching half a class online while also teaching half a class in-person.  There were a lot of rules to follow to set up my classroom and a lot of logistical work to make it so that I can teach both simultaneously, but I think I have it set up well.  

Let's hope.  

After a two week break from this space, I have dedicated a small portion of my Sunday to writing a post about a few of the cards that have shown up during that time.  There are others.  Hopefully, I will get there during the next week.  

My first two cards are from fellow collectors that I have met online.  First up is a Ray Lankford from the 1999 Pacific Private Stick set.  The card is a mini, but the scan is not. 



This card was from Jon at A Penny Sleeve For Your Thoughts.  You can also follow him on Twitter at @pennysleeves.  Great blog, one of my favorite reads.  He found this on the Trading Card Database and thought of me.  Very generous and another reminder that I don't do anything on Trading Card Database, but I should.  

This is a parallel to the base version of the mini.  



The base version had blue backs, the parallels had red backs.  Really nice card that I did not have in my collection.  I will have to send Jon a few cards in return.  Man, I really miss Pacific.  I am 100% positive I write that every time I post one of their cards.  

Next, a few cards that I picked up from a long-time Facebook trading/buying/selling partner.  He always holds onto his Cardinals cards for me.  These cards included an autograph of Cardinals catching prospect Ivan Herrera.  



Sometime last month, I posted an Ivan Herrera autograph out of last year's Bowman's Best.  I always like when non-licensed card manufacturers make cards of catchers with their equipment on.  You can't tell that they have to airbrush all the logos off the card.  

I also picked up two Tink Hence autographs.  He was a two-way player in high school who was committed to play baseball at the University of Arkansas.  The Cardinals drafted him in the second round and offered him enough money to get him to turn pro.  I am not sure its been decided whether the Cardinals are going to develop him as a pitcher or position player.  




A draft card from Panini's Extra Elite.  Nice looking card.  


I also ended up with a copy of his purple Bowman Chrome autograph.  The border looks a little ridiculous with the red Cardinals stuff on the card.  I am excited to see what the Cardinals end up doing with this guy. 

Last card.  A Cardinals player on a non-Cardinals card.  Still a really nice item though.  




Edmonds signs baseball cards as infrequently as I post on this page.  I cannot pass up his cards when I see them at a good price.  

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #3

I worked hard on my 1964 Topps Giants set during the past two weeks.  I am posting five new cards tonight, which includes three Hall of Famers and a great of the era.  Really happy with how well this project is going.  

Here are the new cards, saving the better cards for later in the post.  




I did not know much about Max Alvis outside of seeing the occasional card of him in common boxes at card shows.  First, he went to the University of Texas and was a two sport star at the school with the football and baseball teams.  More impressive was the fact that he played both fullback and linebacker on the football team.  A two-way player and he started at both positions.  Alvis choose to play baseball.  He was a good young player with the Indians, but ended up getting spinal meningitis during the 1964 season.  



He stuck around for a few more seasons, but was never the same player.  Alvis made the 1967 American League All-Star team.  He was not having a particularly good season, but the Indians traded Rocky Colavito and Alvis was the most popular player remaining on the team.  

Next.  


Boyer is not a Hall of Famer, but is definitely a great from the 1960s.  Boyer probably has a much better case than most people would think.  Boyer's uniform number, 14, is the retired by the Cardinals.  The only non-Hall of Famer with a retired number with the Cardinals.  Boyer was the National League MVP in 1964 and helped the Cardinals get to the World Series against the Yankees.  Boyer hit a Game 4 Grand Slam, which was the turning point in the Series, and added another in Game 7 that put the game out of reach.  


I am not sure where Topps got the 10 number from on the back of the card.  Boyer appeared in seven All-Star games at this point in his career.  I guess they could be including Minor League All-Star games too, although Boyer was not in the Minors very long.  He rose quickly and also spent time with the Army during the Korean War.  



This is the part of the post that I am most excited about.  There are a lot of Hall Famers on the 1964 Topps Giants checklist and I have quite a few of them left to find.  Some are going to be harder than others.   Bunning was an easy Hall of Famer to find and not very expensive.  The right corner, near his forearm, has a slight scratch, but it's only on the surface.  


I like the back of Bunning's card.  Some of the newspaper headlines on the back of the cards feel like a bit of a stretch.  Max Alvis has a fancy headline about leading a last place team in home runs and then meanders into him playing in the Pacific Coast League.  Bunning has a perfect game on the back of his card.  If I recall the details correctly, the perfect game was thrown on Father's Day and Jim Bunning had a Philip Rivers amount of children.  

They also mention the fact that Bunning threw a no-hitter for the Tigers.  Solid work here pairing an accomplishment with another good accomplishment.  Nice that Topps stayed on topic here.  Sometimes they drift.....




Another Hall of Famer, a little bit better than Jim Bunning.  Just my opinion.  This is a nice portrait style photo on the front of the card, but I really like the back of Marichal's card.  


The super-high leg kick was Marichal's claim to fame while he was playing.   The Topps Giants cards do not have action photographs on the fronts of the cards.  They really missed out here.  If I ran a card company in the 1960s, every Juan Marichal card would have a picture of his leg kick.  I also like that Topps gives him a headline for his no-hitter against the Astros in 1963, but it goes downhill after the picture and headline.  

Remember at the bottom of Jim Bunning when I mentioned drifting card backs?  

I am a little puzzled why they spent half of the back talking about where he played in the Minor Leagues. It's Juan Marichal.  Won a lot of games, struck out a lot of batters, crazy leg kick?   Do we need to know about how he pitched in Tacoma or the Eastern League?  Could we have squeezed another sentence out of 25 wins or 248 strikeouts? Talk about the leg kick.    

Last card of the post.  

This is a big one off the checklist.

I will let the card do the talking.  




A little wear along the left edge on the front of the card, but otherwise this is in really good shape.  Not nearly as painful as I had imagined it was going to be.  

Updated checklist.  19 out of the 60 cards.  


1 Gary Peters
2 Ken Johnson
3 Sandy Koufax SP
4 Bob Bailey
5 Milt Pappas
6 Ron Hunt
7 Whitey Ford
8 Roy McMillan
9 Rocky Colavito
10 Jim Bunning
11 Roberto Clemente
12 Al Kaline
13 Nellie Fox
14 Tony Gonzalez
15 Jim Gentile
16 Dean Chance
17 Dick Ellsworth
18 Jim Fregosi
19 Dick Groat
20 Chuck Hinton
21 Elston Howard
22 Dick Farrell
23 Albie Pearson
24 Frank Howard
25 Mickey Mantle
26 Joe Torre
27 Ed Brinkman
28 Bob Friend SP
29 Frank Robinson
30 Bill Freehan
31 Warren Spahn
32 Camilo Pascual
33 Pete Ward
34 Jim Maloney
35 Dave Wickersham
36 Johnny Callison
37 Juan Marichal
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
41 Bob Gibson
42 Dick Stuart SP
43 Tommy Davis
44 Tony Oliva
45 Wayne Causey SP
46 Max Alvis
47 Galen Cisco SP
48 Carl Yastrzemski
49 Hank Aaron
50 Brooks Robinson
51 Willie Mays SP
52 Billy Williams
53 Juan Pizarro
54 Leon Wagner
55 Orlando Cepeda
56 Vada Pinson
57 Ken Boyer
58 Ron Santo
59 Johnny Romano
60 Bill Skowron SP











Sunday, January 31, 2021

Prospect Cliches

One of my favorite scenes in Bull Durham takes places on the bus while the team is return home after a successful road trip.  Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh climbs over the seats on the bus to the front and sits down next to Crash Davis.  Nuke asks Crash to teach him something.  Davis is reading (seriously) a newspaper article about Blue Jays A Ball outfielder Mark Whiten.   

Davis tell LaLoosh they can work on his interviews.  The diolouge goes something like this:  


You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: "We gotta play it one day at a time."



After a minute, LaLoosh notices that the cliches are boring.  Maybe a little tired and stale.  Crash Davis closes out the scene by telling LaLoosh: 


"Of course they're boring, that's the whole point" 


Baseball card collectors have cliches too.  I notice them all the time, esepcially when people are talking about prospects.  They are somewhat ridiculous, but at the same time entertaining.  I recently bought four autographed cards of some Minor Leaguers that I am going to try to collect during the 2021 season.  I thought I would try out some of the cliches while posting their cards.  I bet you've heard a few of these.  

Note: The quotes under the cliches are things that people have actually written on the internet about these players.  I am not going to attribute the quote to the author.  They all come from Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.  

Let's try it out with the new cards.  

Cliche #1 - Comparing A Minor Leaguer To A Major Leaguer 

"Vidal Brujan is the next Ozzie Albies"




Why does every Minor Leaguer need to have a Major Leaguer comparable?  Ozzie Albies is 24 and has played two whole seasons with the Braves.  We don't even get a Major Leaguer who has been around for ahwile?  Vidal Brujan last played in 2019 with the Double Montgomery Biscuits as a 21 year old.  He hit .266 while he was there.  

Ryan Brett once hit .303 for the Montgomery.  Who is Ryan Brett?  He was the next Dustin Pedroia, or someone like that.  Ryan Brett got 3 Major League at-bats.  

Vidal Burjan will likely be on the Durham Bulls in 2021.  


Cliche #2 -Minor Leaguer Is Going To Help The Team Win The World Series

"Mackenzie Gore is going to be the Padres third starter in the World Series" 

or 

"Can't Wait Until Mackenzie Gore starts the 7th Game of the World Series 



I think the Padres are good enough to make the World Series, but they have to play 162 regular season games to qualify for the playoffs so that they can play a few other good National League teams in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  Maybe then they will get to play a good American League team and maybe win the World Series.  

Mackenzie Gore's highest level in the Minors was Double A.  He pitched 5 games there.  

Not sure he's going to have a chance to pull an Anthony Reyes.  


Cliche #3 - This player is going to replace a long-time Major Leaguer

"Herrera is the heir apparent to the catching throne in St. Louis"  




Ivan Herrera had a good year in 2019 playing for the Peoria Chiefs.  That's an A-Ball team.  As a Cardinals fan, I am excited about Herrera.  I was also excited about Carson Kelly and Andrew Knizner.  Yadi is still starting.  This phenomena is not just something that happens with Cardinals fans.  


Cliche #4 - This draft pick is going to be in the Majors really soon.  

"He (Jordan Walker) should have no trouble getting to it in the pro ranks."


 
I am not going to share the statistics of Major League draft picks that make it to the Majors, but it's not great.  How many make it to the Majors quickly?  How many make it to the Majors and are actually really good players?  I hope Jordan Walker makes the Majors and is a very good player with the Cardinals, but there is a good chance they may not happen.  

The "May the odds be ever in your favor" women from Hunger Games pops in my head whenever I hear someone talking about high school kids being in the Majors.  



There are plenty of other cliches that people use with prospects, but I am out of cards.  


Monday, January 25, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #2

 Picked up a few new Topps Giants cards for my set project.  There are a total of four cards in this post, they were all pretty easy to find and inexpensive.  My next update is going to have some really good names.  Thought about waiting a week, but I think the next group of cards deserve their own post. 

First up for this post is Reds pitcher Jim Maloney.  

Here is the back of the card.  


Solid player.  Made a few All-Star games, struck out a ton of batters.  

Next up is Bob Bailey.  I know him mainly as an Expo in the 1970s, but he started out with the Pirates in the early 60s.  Kind of an interesting career path.  Here is the front of the card.  


He was much more of a fielder at the beginning of his career who hit the occasional home run.  Then he got sold to the Expos before the start of their first season.  He started hitting home runs in bundles and was one of their offensive stars.  


The back of the card focuses on his defense.  The second sentence was generous in describing his offensive talents at this point in his career.  Love that action picture on the back.  Very nice.  

Next.  


I was a little disappointed in the top to bottom centering on this card.  I bought it from an Ebay seller who had multiple copies.  I paid for one copy, got another copy.  Tried to return this copy, got my money back, and the guy told me to keep the card.  I might replace this one at some point, but for the moment it's staying.  

Back of the card.  


Another great action shot here with the pitch almost over his head.  I also like that the mention his basketball career at Duke on this card.  Groat's career with the Pirates was far more notable than his time with the Cardinals, but he did win a World Series with them in 1964.  

Last card.  



I did not know too much about Gary Peters before writing this post.  He had a really good beginning of his career, but was out of baseball by his mid 30s.  He won the 1963 American League Rookie of the Year, two ERA titles, and once won 20 games.  

Back of the card.  


Looks like he had a really odd motion.  


Here is my updated checklist.  I have 14 out of the 60 cards, roughly a quarter of the set.  A few new cards will be posted next week, a good name or two is included in the next group of cards.  


1 Gary Peters
2 Ken Johnson
3 Sandy Koufax SP
4 Bob Bailey
5 Milt Pappas
6 Ron Hunt
7 Whitey Ford
8 Roy McMillan
9 Rocky Colavito
10 Jim Bunning
11 Roberto Clemente
12 Al Kaline
13 Nellie Fox
14 Tony Gonzalez
15 Jim Gentile
1
6 Dean Chance
17 Dick Ellsworth
18 Jim Fregosi
19 Dick Groat
20 Chuck Hinton
21 Elston Howard
22 Dick Farrell
23 Albie Pearson
24 Frank Howard
25 Mickey Mantle
26 Joe Torre
27 Ed Brinkman
28 Bob Friend SP
29 Frank Robinson
30 Bill Freehan
31 Warren Spahn
32 Camilo Pascual
33 Pete Ward
34 Jim Maloney
35 Dave Wickersham
36 Johnny Callison
37 Juan Marichal
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
41 Bob Gibson
42 Dick Stuart SP
43 Tommy Davis
44 Tony Oliva
45 Wayne Causey SP
46 Max Alvis
47 Galen Cisco SP
48 Carl Yastrzemski
49 Hank Aaron
50 Brooks Robinson
51 Willie Mays SP
52 Billy Williams
53 Juan Pizarro
54 Leon Wagner
55 Orlando Cepeda
56 Vada Pinson
57 Ken Boyer
58 Ron Santo
59 Johnny Romano
60 Bill Skowron SP





Saturday, January 23, 2021

Not Giving Up

As a Minor League baseball fan, inevitably all of your favorite players are going to leave. Minor Leaguers get promoted to the Majors, get traded, and get released all the time.  Sometimes it is easier to maintain a connection with the player after they have moved onto a different team.  Other times it is a little bit more challenging.  

I have spent a lot of time lately trying to process the Blake Snell trade from the Rays to the Padres.  I was expecting him to leave at some point, not exactly the type of player that they can afford to re-sign, but this off-season felt a little soon.  I thought I would get at least half a season more of Snell with the Rays.  

I guess not.  

Snell is one of my all-time favorite former Durham Bulls.  How many autographs of Snell have I posted on here over the past four or five years?  Fifty or sixty something?  



The number is large.  

I don't mind the Padres.  There are far worse places he could have ended up.  Do you know how many former Durham Bulls have been on the Cubs the last few years?  I know there was a strong connection with Joe Maddon managing the team.  A little hard to think good thoughts about players like Mike Montgomery and Ben Zobrist while they are beating the Cardinals.  

For the moment, I am going to press on with my Blake Snell cards.  I picked up a few inexpensive singles over the past two weeks.  There are still a few Snell autographs from 2020 that I am still missing from my collection, but not going to buy them at their current prices.  

Here are the new cards:  




Is there a baseball card product that Topps won't turn into a Chrome product?  You already know the answer.  I really like the coloring on these cards and I am not sure if I own any/many Chrome minis?  Maybe none?  Allen & Ginter always has the white borders and card stock.  The Chrome version has all sorts of colored cards, not sure if I am going to pursue the other Snells.  Probably all depends on their cost.  I am not sure the colored versions of Ginter would looks as good on standard card stock.  



The back of the card is same old Ginter design.  



This is a little different card for me.  I know it looks like a regular Topps Heritage card from 2019, but it is actually  one of those gimmicky variations that I am not really into collecting.  Well, sometimes you stumble across one that is not very expensive.  




The card is in both English and French.  Did these even appear in the 1970 Topps set?  Feels like it's some sort of salute to O-Pee-Chee.  This is actually one of those variations that I would have noticed if I pulled it out of a pack.  Topps should have put his height and weight in Metric.  

Next.  

How many times can Topps remake the 1993 Finest set?  It seems like an annual event at this point.  Maybe it's not that often, it just feels that way.  Not scanning the back of the card.  

Last card.  



How many different products can Topps make with a Chrome finish?  The answer will eventually be all of them.  This is some Chrome parallel of Snell's card from this year's Heritage set.  I prefer the black borders on the regular base set, but still not a bad looking card.  


The card is serial numbered to 571 copies.  

This is going to be the first of many Blake Snell posts I make in 2021.  Even if I get annoyed with the Padres, still more preferable than the Dodgers, I will just go back and collect all the Rays cards I am missing.