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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Just Some Old Basketball Players

I have been on this big kick lately with finding older baseball cards of players who appeared on the Durham Bulls several decades ago.  Since I dabble in basketball cards, I decided to do a similar thing with that part of my collection.  A little bit smaller scale, maybe slightly more recent cards, but these weree all enjoyable finds.  There are a few NC State cards, but also a few of the players that I watched while I was living in St. Louis.  

Let's start with the NC State players first.  I have added two good State cards, both are household names in there parts that many are likely to recognize.  First up, is the greatest of the greats in Raleigh. 

 
This is actually my second copy of this card.  I picked this up while I was working on baseball cards.  Found a guy who was unloading some Rays/Durham Bulls in a Facebook group.  My Facebook profile is an NC State logo, so he asked if I would be interested in this David Thompson card.  I cannot say no to a good deal, plus I love getting combined shipping on cards.  
 
Next.  From the promotions table at NC State, to someone's house, and eventually into my collection.  
 

 
I am usually pretty good about checking out the promotional tables when I go to NC State games, but for some reason I missed out on this T.J. Warren card.  Serious, it's T.J. Warren.  He slimmed down a bit in college.  There is not much evidence of this version of T.J. Warren ever existed outside of this basketball card and 90 second clip of him getting a lay-in and a dunk against UNC. 


On to other schools.  The rest of the cards are players from Mizzou or SLU.  I will go in order working from newest to oldest.  

First up is Keyon Dooling.  He had a fairly long career in the NBA as a back-up guard.   Pretty versatile, could play both the point and shooting guard positions. 

 

Keyon has worked in the front office for the Utah Jazz since retiring a few years back, but recently got added to the coaching staff as an assistant last month. While Keyon may not have it listed on his resume or LinkedIn page, I have been employing him as a gif in PowerPoint and Google Slides in my classroom for five or six years now.  

This incredible gem is from a charge call against Kansas.  He didn't quite jump over the KU player while dunking the ball over him, but came really close.  

If you are a teacher, this gif is great for 

"The schedule changed because of an assembly"

"Someone thawed our freezer pops by moving them to the refrigerator" 

or the classic:

"It's picture day and the cafeteria is serving spaghetti. Don't do anything that results in your mom emailing me after school because you are doing picture retake day next month"  

Let's move on.  

 

 

Larry Hughes is from St. Louis.  He's a little younger than me.  I saw him play in a high school Christmas tournament his senior year while I was a freshman in college.  He actually played with Jayson Tatum's father, Justin Tatum, at a small parochial school.  Hughes and Tatum both committed to stay home and play at Saint Louis University.  Hughes played one year and left college for financial reasons connected to his younger brother's health.  Tatum sat out at least one year, might have been more, because he had a diagnosed learning disability that allowed him to take the ACT without a time limit.  The NCAA was even ridiculous in the 1990s.  

Rest of the players are from when I was in high school and middle school.  A little nostalgic for the old Big 8 Conference here.  

 

Another long-time NBA player, Peeler had a good career as a offensive spark plug coming off the bench for the Lakers and Timberwolves.  A few other teams mixed in there too.  He was a great college player.  I believe he was an All-American and the Big 8 Player of the Year his senior season.  I liked this card because it shows Peeler in his college uniform.  There are not too many Anthony Peeler cards in a Missouri uniform floating around out there.  

It's a little odd that they have Peeler in his college uniform, logos and all, but they airbrushed out the defender.  You can still make out the T from the Texas A&M logo on the shorts.  I know the Big 12 was not around in the early 1990s, but Mizzou played them Peeler's senior season.  The Tigers won by 30.  I would try to find Peeler's stats for the game, but I am guessing he sat on the bench in his warmups for a large portion of the second half. 

Next up is a Mizzou player that is new to my basketball card collection.  I was surprised that I did not have a card of this guy.  Great college player, not so great in the NBA.  Let me say it again, great college player.  

Two Doug Smith cards.  

Smith was this huge guy, with a huge frame, but he was really quick.  He played before Greg Ostertag and Bryant Reeves were in the Big 8, but there were a lot of other lumbering centers and power forwards that Smith would just blow past on his way to the basket.  He also had a nice mid-range jumper, so when defenses started sagging off of him, he could knock down some shots.  Only player in the school's history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. 

 
Smith and Peeler's time in college had some overlap, but Smith was older.  He was also an All-American player, won the Big 8 Conference Player of the Year award twice.  He got selected as the sixth overall pick in the NBA Draft, but never panned out.  I read this interesting take on a Celtics website about Smith in the NBA.  He ended his career in Boston after they tried to turn him back into the Doug Smith at Mizzou.  

To summarize, Smith was a big man (6'10), but his quickness and athleticism were what made him a great scorer in college.  The Mavericks drafted him, thought they were going to put muscle on his large frame, but that just made him slow and he couldn't score anymore.  How many good college players did the Dallas Mavericks wreck in the early 1990s?  Apparently it was a long list.  The Mavs were thinking Karl Malone when they should have been thinking about Julius Erving. 

This Mavericks card is alright, but I really like this Kellogg's card below. 

College Basketball Greats.  This seems like the perfect Doug Smith card.  Look at that positioning under the basket.  This is the Doug Smith that I remember.  He's got the big guy sealed behind him and some little guard trying to come down on a double team.  At least that what I think is happening.  Is this against Nebraska?  Doug probably scored a ton of points in this game.  Save for Eric Piatkowski, the Huskers were terrible at basketball when I was younger.

Last card.  


Anthony Bonner was in the NBA for awhile with the Knicks and Kings. Really good rebounder and defender in the NBA.  The talent level at Saint Louis University was not very good until the mid 1990s when Charlie Spoonhour got hired.  Bonner was sort of the lone bright spot during the 1980s  I have no idea about this brand "Star Pics".  I feel like I might have bought one of those novelty sports cards that you can buy at Walgreens photo. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Set Appreciation Post #8 - 2010 Topps USA Baseball

 I enjoyed making these Set Appreciation posts this summer, so I am going to try to get back into looking at the old sets hanging out in my closet. USA Baseball sets are always pretty small, so it seemed like it might be a good place to start back. I have been going to USA Baseball teams since 2006, so I got to see the college players in this set in person. Pretty good team, a few of the players worked out, a few flamed out. The usual with watching amateur players.  

Before we get into the set, here was the roster for the College National Team during the summer of 2010.  Players from the 18U and 16U teams were also included in the set, but I mainly buy these cards for the college kids.  


Again, a good mix of players here.   

Basic Design 

There are never any really well designed USA Baseball sets.  Most people just collect these cards for the autographs, right?  Maybe there is a good design out there, but I am just not thinking of it at the moment.  They always just seem bland with very little effort.  This one might be a little worse than some of the others.  

Here is the front of the card.  


What do you want me to say?  

Looks like it could be the design for the 2022 Topps base set.  Some squiggly lines around the border with a red, white, and blue color scheme.  I spent time looking for something that was good about the card.  I like that they identify the level of the team on the front of the card.  

That's it.  

Back of the card.  


None of the players have stats on the back of the cards, just a short write up about their playing career.  Some of the "this player reminds scouts of....", or "this player is just like........", or "this player models their game after......" tend to not age very well.  

ARod.  Albert Amora.  No.  

This was originally a boxed set.  If I remember correctly, you got the complete set along with one autograph per box.  Everyone bought these for the one autograph.  At least, I hope they did.  

I Bought This For An Autograph 

Do people buy USA Baseball cards for the base cards?  

No.  

Do people buy USA Baseball cards for the autographs? 

Yes.  

I keep repeating it.  Keep telling yourself the same thing if you are buying these cards for any other reason.   

I watch the games at USA Baseball.  I try to pick out some players that I think are going to be good, buy their autographs, and store them away for a few years.  I pulled an autograph of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. out of my set.  



Solid Major League player and the 2018 American League Championship Series MVP.  Jackie Bradley Jr. was a great college player.  If he's not in the University of South Carolina's Hall of Fame, he will be before long.  Bradley helped South Carolina win the College World Series and took home the College World Series MVP.  He was awesome in college.  Bradley ended up being a first round selection by the Red Sox, so this was a pretty good pull at the time this set was released.  




Also decided to pick up an autograph of a UCLA pitcher who seemed to be a pretty good college pitcher.  Heard that this guy turned out to be fair pitcher.  Picked this up a few years ago while he was pitching for the Pirates. 

Special Guest Appearance By....The Durham Bulls Athletic Park 

The USA Baseball teams regularly use the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for their home games.  Yes, USA Baseball has their own complex a short distance away in Cary, North Carolina, but there are always a few appearances by the DBAP in every USA Baseball card set.  

In fact, most USA Baseball cards are either taken at either the USA Baseball complex or in Durham.  Here is the USA Baseball complex field.  Note the tall green screen in center field and pine trees behind the outfield wall.  


This card has a photograph taken at the USA Baseball complex.  


Green screen with trees in the background.  

Here is the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  



Dark blue walls and dugouts.  The seats are also dark blue.   Green manual scoreboard.  Ads on the outfield walls.  

A few cards from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.....


and a few more cards from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  


It's nice that Topps put all these cards with pictures from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in this set.  

This might be the best part of this set.  

Best Cardinals Card(s) 

Not sure there are many great options here, so I went with the only two Major League Cardinals players who appeared in this set.  Neither player spent much time with the team.  

First up is Clemson shortstop Brad Miller.  He appeared for the Cardinals last season, and was about the only person outside of Paul Goldschmidt who hit at all last year.  




Miller was on the USA Baseball College team multiple years, including one where he was backed-up by Hawaii infielder Kolten Wong.  Miller has been a solid Major Leaguer, but very good college baseball player.  

Carson Kelly also appears in the set as a member of the 16 U team.  



Kelly was one of the catchers was supposed to take over the catching job from Yadier Molina before he was traded away for Paul Goldschmidt.  I believe the Cardinals originally drafted him as a third baseman and moved him to catcher after a few years in the Minors.  The picture on this card is a little odd.  He is listed as a pitcher and an outfielder, but it looks like he is playing 2nd Base.  

Not the best pair, but it's not like Topps has any control of where amateur players end up during their professional careers.  

Best Durham Bulls Player 

Mikie Mahtook was a great player at LSU.  He was an All-American and helped the Tigers win the 2009 College World Series Championship.  He ended up getting drafted by the Rays and was on the Durham Bulls a few years after that.  

Here's the card.  



This might be my favorite card. Mahtook is a player who ended up on the Durham Bulls for a few seasons, and the photograph on this card appears to have been taken at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Mahtook made the 2014 International League All-Star team, held in Durham, and is a bit of a fan favorite locally.  Mikie has played a few years in the Majors, but he's never really been a regular player outside part of a year for the Tigers.  

In fact, I think he's most memorable play in the Majors was getting a home run taken away by Alex Gordon, but not before he gave the first base coach a high five. 


 It was a spectacular catch, but we have other things to talk about here.  

The Best Non-Cardinal Card 

There were a few different choices here, but I went with Francisco Lindor.  



Seemed like a pretty easy choice.  

How Does It Compare?  

Welp.  I have done a really good job of poker facing my way through this post.  I am really glad that Topps no longer makes the USA Baseball products.  Between the three major manufacturers that have held the license over the past twenty years, Topps did the worst job.  This set has a really boring design and packaging the cards as a set with a single autograph just feels a bit lazy.  

It's easily the worst set that I have posted this year.  


8. 2010 Topps USA Baseball  
4. 2001 Fleer EX 


Monday, November 16, 2020

Upper Management Type

It's truly amazing how many former Durham Bulls players and managers have gone on to work as a managers in the Major Leagues.  Last season, there were two former managers, Charlie Montoyo and Brian Snitker, along with two former players, Kevin Cash and Rocco Baldelli, who were all managers with Major League teams.  All four led their teams to the playoffs.  

This is not a new trend with the Durham Bulls.  

Just in the past week, I have posted cards of Doug Rader and Mayo Smith.  Both were Durham Bulls players and both had stints working as managers in the Majors.  For today, I am going to focus on a different player/manager, spending a little time on Gene Mauch.  I have picked up a few cards of this well-known manager over the past few weeks.  

Mauch played with the Durham Bulls in 1943 as a 17 year old infielder.  He would play in the Majors for 9 seasons with the Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Cardinals, and Red Sox.  He was a light hitting utility player, who only once played in more than 70 games in a season.  

Mauch has a few cards as a player.  



I haven't been too successful with collecting his player cards.  This 1957 Topps might be about it.  Really, we are here today for his manager cards.  So, these are the latest additions to my collection: 


Mauch's first managerial job in the Majors was with the Phillies starting in 1960.  He took over a perennial loser and turned them into a winning team.  It just took a few years.  In 1961, the Phillies lost 107 games, which included a 23 games losing streak.  Mauch has this sort of dubious reputation as a manager in some circles.  The long losing streak in 1961 is apart of that reputation.  

The back of the card has his player stats, with his managerial stats squeezed onto the bottom.  


I thought it was interesting that his Minor League managing record was included here.  

Next up is Mauch's burlap sack card from the 1968 Topps set.  


This was Mauch's final season with the Phillies.  In fact, he did not make it the whole season.  The team fired him after a 28-27 start to the season.  In learning more about Mauch in recent years, it somewhat surprises me that he last another three and a half years after the 1964 collapse.  I am not going to rehash the last two weeks of the season, but he made a few mistakes.  At the same time, his six winning seasons with the Phillies during the 1960s were one more than the team had during the 1950s, 1940s, 1930s, and 1920s combined.  

The first three quarters of the 20th Century were not kind to the Phillies.  Mauch was the team's winningest manager until Charlie Manuel passed him 2011.  

The back of this card actually mentions that he played for the Durham Bulls in 1943.  


Next.  

A pair of Expos cards.  I already have a few Mauch Expos cards from the fake pizza franchise promotional set I worked on last year.  Still a little upset that there is not really a La Pizza Royale restaurant in Canada.  


If I ever flee to Canada to start a pizza place, that's going to be the name of the restaurant.  Still really cool cards.  Yes, I still have them.

These are not fake.  


First up is Mauch's 1970 Topps card.  He was in the 1969 Topps set as the Expos manager, so this is his second as their manager.  It looks like Mauch is signaling for a new pitcher, but given that he was managing an expansion team, it is just as likely that he was hailing a beer vendor.  



The back of the card is slightly off-center.  


 I like the manager's cards where Topps went with the managerial records much more than the player records.  I also like that they included his Minor League experience as a manager, which was a surprising feature on the 1961 Topps towards the top of the post.  Topps also makes mention of his Minor League playing career at the top of this card, but nothing specific about the Durham Bulls. 



Love the design on the 1972 Topps cards.  Mauch was 47 when this card was made, but managing the Phillies and expansion Expos aged him horribly.  There is also something not quite right about the front of his jersey in this picture.  It looks like Topps airbrushed it, but I am not sure why they would do such a thing.  

Back of the card has a cool fun fact about catchers and foul pop outs.  


Last card for this post.  



I like these 1978 Topps cards with the player and manager picture on the front of the card.  Currently, there are a ton of catchers who are managing teams.  They have slowly taken over from utility and bench players who were frequently managers during the 1970s and 1980s.  At least, that's how it seemed at times.  



And we are back to this odd mix of player stats on the back of a manager card.  We get it, Gene Mauch was not much of a player.  There are a lot of people who don't think he was much a manager either, but I he stuck around a long time, even if he did not manage to the win a World Series.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Mayor of Kings Mountain Has Relocated

While Will Wilson was playing on the NC State baseball team, one of the school's fan websites dubbed him "The Mayor of King's Mountain", which his small hometown located in the western part of the state.  



The nickname is still popular with the local college baseball crowd, but has not really caught on with people outside of the area.  Regardless, I am enjoying the fact that Wilson appeared in several different 2020 products.  I recently picked up two of those cards, including one with his new team.  

Old team first.  


This is Wilson's card out of this year's Topps Heritage Minors.  The Orem Owlz (Z is for stupid) are an Angels Minor League team.  The Halos picked him out of NC State in the first round of the 2019 Draft.  For whatever reason, the Angels traded him last off-season to the Giants for Zack Cozart.  

I am sure that this photo would have probably been different if there had been Minor League Baseball this season.  The back of the card gives mention of his time in Raleigh.  


I think he's going to be at minimum a solid Major League Baseball player.  

Now, for a card with his new team.  


I used to really hate Bowman Sterling.  It supposed to be some sort of high end Bowman brand product, but for a long time it had sticker autographs.  This is actually a really nice card, and I love that the signature is signed on the card, not on a sticker.

These were the last two Wilson autographed cards that were on my list to find for this year, so I will give his cards a break until next summer.  

Friday, November 13, 2020

Another Raleigh-Durham Post

Second 1975 Topps Mini post of the week.  I feel like I have been regaining some momentum in my writing life over the past two weeks.  So, when I last left you earlier in the week, I had a total of 11 out of the 23 players in the 75 Mini set who appeared on the Durham Bulls at some point during their career.  I have a few more cards to post today, plus a few more this weekend or early next week. 

Four new cards for today.  First up is a former Raleigh-Durham Triangle.  There weren't any Minor League teams named the Sod Poodles or Trash Pandas during the 1970s, but the Triangles team name was some attempt to make the Durham Bulls sound like one of those odd nicknamed teams.  

Just a quick review, but Durham is a city in North Carolina.  Raleigh is another city in North Carolina.  Raleigh-Durham is an airport located in between Raleigh and Durham.  


This is quality picture of Raleigh-Durham. 

The words Raleigh-Durham also appear on the back of Cliff Johnson's 1975 Topps Mini card, but he never played a game at the airport.  Only a few different stadiums around the Carolina League.  



The top of the card is not bent, or creased, it just has some weird discoloration along the top.  We will make it a place holder for the moment and consider a replacement at a later date.  It's not like this is a very expensive card.  Cliff's career is usually remembered for all of his pinch-hit home runs, but he was an everyday player for the Astros early in his career.



Here is the Raleigh-Durham stat line.  Cliff did very well playing for the "Bulls", or Triangles.  The .332 batting average was the best in the Carolina League of anyone you might have heard of, 6 points ahead of Rennie Stennet.  The 27 home runs and 91 RBIs were more than anyone else in the league.  

Moving along.  


Ken Singleton is up next.  He was on the 1968 Raleigh-Durham Mets, which had a solid group of future Major Leaguers including Jim Bibby, Jon Matlack, and Ed Figueroa.  I like the powder blue Expos uniform on this card, and Singleton's big hard and sideburns.  

The edge of the card is cut a little weird.  Whatever card was printed next to this one is missing a little bit of paper.  Considering making this a place holder too, but for the moment I am happy to be filling in the checklist.  

Next.  



The "Red Rooster" was towards the end of his career at this point.  His first year in professional baseball was spent with the Bulls in 1965, but he was not in the Minors for very long.  Good career, think he would have been a bigger name if he hadn't spent his career with the Astros and Padres  I had cards of him as a kid since he managed the Rangers and Angels, but had no idea about him as a player.  

It's too bad the Astros weren't wearing the rainbow uniforms at this point, they would have been quite the combo with the colorful borders on these cards.  

Last one. 

You don't get much cross over between the Cardinals and Durham Bulls during the 1960s and 1970s, but here is one of the few players who appeared for both: 


Folkers appeared on the 1967 Durham Bulls while he was in the Mets organization.  It was the last year before the team name was changed to Raleigh-Durham Mets.  Folkers Minor League career was interrupted after he did a stint with the Army in Vietnam.  When he reached the Majors, Folkers was a spot starter and long reliever for most of his career.  His final season with the Cardinals in 1974 was the best of his career, with a 6-2 record and an ERA of 3.  

He would end up on the Padres later in his career where announcer Jerry Coleman was told his audience one evening that Folkers was "throwing up in the bullpen", rather than warming up.  Given his numbers for the Padres, it's always been debatable whether or not this was on purpose.  


Alright.  Let's check out the updated checklist.  

#44 - Pat Dobson

#89 - Jim Ray 

#90 - Rusty Staub 

#98 - Rich Folkers 

#125 - Ken Singleton 

#143 - Cliff Johnson 

#155 - Jim Bibby 

#165 - Doug Rader 

#180 - Joe Morgan 

#245 - Mickey Lolich 

#282 - Jerry Morales 

#286 - Mike Jorgensen 

#290 - Jon Matlack 

#342 - Leroy Stanton 

#343 - Danny Frisella 

#351 - Bob Boone 

#371 - Gates Brown 

#441 - Bob Heise 

#476 - Ed Figueroa 

#615 - Pat Darcy 

#621 - Rawley Eastwick 

#630 - Greg Luzinski 

#637 - Ted Martinez 


One more groups of cards to post this weekend, or early next week, but I am now down to just 8 cards to complete the set.  Feels pretty good.  


Thursday, November 12, 2020

2020 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 7

I am a little disappointed in the direction that Topps has taken the Triple Threads product over the past few years, but they are still some solid autographs on the checklist, right?  At least there is Blake Snell.  The design on the front of the Triple Threads cards was always enjoyed the cards with the attribute or a phrase describing the player featured on the front of the card.  

For example, this was one of the Snell autographs from the 2018 Triple Threads set.  



I miss this design.  

Low innings pitched?  Like pulled in the 6th inning of a 2 hitter in an elimination game during the World Series? 

It's actually a reference to the fact that Rays limited his innings early in his career.  Not that uncommon.  I saw a few games where they used Dylan Floro, Dodgers World Series winner and non-innings restricted pitcher, piggy back behind Snell on starts in the Minors.  21 wins also seems pretty good.  

Somewhere around here, Topps dropped the number of cards in Triple Threads that had messages on the front of the card.  I am not saying the don't exist, but they used to be the norm rather than the exception.  

Here is my newest Snell autograph.  



Again, I like the card, but it feels a lot like the Museum Collection and Tribute cards.  Topps has sort of merged all these different products together in style and design over the last few years.  The is a huge departure in design from the card up top.  Generic blue jersey swatch, sticker autograph, and a blasé gray background. 

I swear, I like the card, even if the post is coming across as hypercritical.   

Back of the card.  



CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!

JUMBO RELIC CARD!!!!!!!!!!

I guess there is only so much you can do with a card back.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Old Style

As sure as the sun rises this morning, we can always count on Topps rehashing a bunch of previously used styles of cards from its past, or sometimes borrowed from other companies.  They love their old styles and designs a little too much at times.  I spent part of last week looking for a few non-autographed Snell's, and came up with a few cards with designs that were borrowed from long ago.

Three cards in all, here is the first.  



This is from the Living Set, or the set that just won't end.  Topps has been making these cards for a few years now.  Roughly two cards per week, so I am not sure how many different cards are now in the set.  The never-ending set borrows its design from 1953 Topps.  I have a bunch of the Cardinals and former Durham Bulls, including a Bob Gibson card that I posed in the last two weeks. 

The hat logo on the side of the cap puts a date on the card, even if the set transcends years.  It's the Rays 20th Anniversary, which was in 2018.  



It's a good thing that Topps noted Snell pitched 6 2/3 innings in the game mentioned on the highlight, otherwise I would have assumed that those 11 strikeouts would have gotten him pulled in the fifth inning.  I will let it go one of those days/years.  

Next up are two different Snell cards from the latest Topps re-hash of the T206 tobacco cards.  They brought these back again this summer.  I liked these last decade, or whenever they last appeared.  I have two different variations of this Snell card.  The first is the base variation, which does not have a tobacco advertisement on the back.  




The other card is the Polar Bear back.  




The Polar Bear backs have a print run of 83 copies, although they are not serial numbered for some reason.  There are a few other different back variations that I might try to add over the next few months.  These are not only great cards because they feature Snell, but the tobacco ads on the back are all products from the American Tobacco Company, which was in Durham.   

In fact, there old factory is across the street from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  



The giant Lucky Strikes Water tower and smoke stack are still at the factory, but all the space is now taken up by various businesses.

The Bulls actually produced a series of videos a few years back showing how the different players prepared before the game.  Blake Snell actually walked to the ballpark before his starts.  Starting at the water fountain, until he reaches the ballpark, are all apart of the American Tobacco Factory.  


The Arrival-Blake Snell from Walmer Medina on Vimeo.


More Blake Snell cards later in the week.