Monday, May 10, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #5

I am behind on the updates for my 1964 Topps Giants set.  I need to catch up a bit over the next few weeks.  For tonight, I am just going to post one of the cards from the set that I have added to my collection in the two months since I last updated this project.  

It's a pretty important card.  

Needless to say, I was pretty excited about adding the Mickey Mantle card from the set.  There are 60 cards in the Topps Giants set and a handful of the cards are going to take up the majority of time and money to track down.  This Mantle was one of those cards.  

There are so many Topps Giants cards that talk about players' Minor League careers on the back of the card.  Even the players who had been around for a while in 1964.  Mantle just gets a long write-up about all his Postseason accomplishments.  Wish a few more of the card backs in this set had followed this formula.  Pick something the player did well and talk about it on the card.  

I did alright here.  

Now, about that Koufax.  

Updated checklist.  22 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, May 9, 2021

Now, More Arenado Cards

Yesterday, I posted my first Nolan Arenado card in a Cardinals uniform.  

What should I do for a follow-up post?  

How about my second Nolan Arenado card in a Cardinals uniform.  

I dabble in the Topps Now cards, but I am not out to buy them all or even all the Cardinals cards.  Every once in a while I see one that I really like, or that marks an occasion that is worth remembering.  Topps put out a card last month for Nolan Arenado's home run in the Cardinals Home Opening Day win.  

It was a cool moment, so I bought the card.  

The Cardinals started the season on the road and Arenado hit a home run during that trip, so this was not his first dinger with the team, but just a nice feel-good moment.  It was worthy of a Topps Now card and I thought it was one that would look nice in my collection.  

Front of the card.  

The back of the card......

A nice little write-up by Topps on the back of the card.  Rather than mentioning that the win gave the team a four-game winning streak, it would have been cool to see Topps connect the dinger to other memorable Cardinals opening day home runs.  There have been some good ones within the last 20-25 years, with the two best being Albert Pujols hitting one on his first Opening Day as a rookie and Mark McGwire's grand slam in 1998.  

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The First Of Many

Not an expensive card or anything rare, but I feel like this card deserves its own post.  As a Cardinals fan, I know that this is going to be the first of many cards that I add to my collection with Nolan Arenado wearing the birds on the bat.  

This is from the Topps Living Set or the set that never ends while flooding the market with even more baseball cards that borrow the design of the 1953 Topps set.  

Front of the card.  

The art on the front of the card is excellent.  I would have been a little worried that this might not have been the best effort given that it seemed to come up quickly after the trade between the Cardinals and Rockies.  

Of course, Topps could have had this card in the works with a Rockies uniform and simply reworked the hat and the color of the undershirt.  Not difficult to change.  

Back of the card.  

The back of the 1953 Topps cards has always felt a little busy for me.  A lot is going on here.  In the write-up, the phrase "and has claimed a defensive award for his stellar glovework in each of his eight big league seasons" is weird.  Couldn't you just say that he's won the National League Gold Glove Award for third baseman?  

Still a great card.  

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Not Just Any Team Set

I have been on a roll with finding some tough Durham Bulls team sets and cards during the past year.  My best find up to this point was the first half of the 1997 BellSouth Bulls to Braves set, which celebrated the team's long-running affiliation with the Atlanta Braves.  The cards have proved nearly impossible to find over the years as single cards, and I had never seen them together in any sort of a set before them last fall.  


I was able to find another really tough team set two weeks ago.  I had been looking for a team-issued Durham Bulls from 2001, but could not even find evidence that such a set existed until 2015 when the set was finally added to the Trading Card Database.  To this day, there are only pictures of a few cards from the set. 

First edit date on Trading Card Database was May of 2015.  

Even though the set first appeared on TCDB in 2015, it has not shown up on Ebay until this year.  

There are always a lot of Major League players who appear in Triple-A baseball card sets, but this set feels like it's above average in terms of quantity.  Here are the cards, starting with the team checklist.  

The front of the card has the team logo.  The back of the card has the team checklist.  

Out of the players with cards in the set, only Norm Hutchins did not appears in the Majors.  The set has a few players with World Series rings, including a World Series MVP.  Also included is a guy who is now a pharmacist, a one-time billionaire who is now bankrupt, a future Durham Bulls manager, and an International League Hall of Famer.  

Here is the basic design of the cards using Brent Abernathy.  

I like that the team put the "Acquired" information on the back of the card.  Feels a little bit like the old Donruss cards.  Plus with Minor Leaguers, you know half of them were traded for Major Leaguers.  Always fun to see some of those names, like Steve Trachsel.  

Here are the rest of the player, coach, and manager cards.  Also Wool E. Bull, the mascot.  

I am not going to talk about every player.  

Two notable names in this group of cards.  

Pat Borders was at the end of his career at this point.  He was nearly 40 years old.  Borders was on the two Blue Jays World Series winners in the early 1990s and won the World Series MVP in 1992 against the Braves.  He played until 2005, retiring at the age of 42.  

Lee Gardner was in Triple-A for 8 years, 5 of those seasons were with the Durham Bulls.  He is in the International League Hall of Fame and I believe he is the Durham Bulls all-time saves leader.  

Two more notable players in this group.  Huff won two World Series with the Giants.  Toby Hall was in the Majors for a few years but was a really good Minor League player.  He was in Durham for roughly 3 years and is considered one of the best catchers to have come through town.  Strictly talking about Minor League numbers with Hall.  

Jared Sandberg is Ryne's nephew and he managed the Bulls for four years.  In his last two years as the manager of the Bulls the team won the International League Championship.  

Now, this is a good group.  

First, we got Jason Tyner.  Jason Tyner was a fan favorite in Tampa.  Scrappy player.  He ended up getting his own bobblehead day with the Rays.  The problem is that he was demoted back down to the Bulls before it was given out.  

Is it too late to get your money back? 

Matt White owned a couple billion dollars worth of Goshen Stone at one point.  Goshen stone is used for swimming pools, kitchen counters, and landscaping.  It currently costs $75 to $150 per ton.  

How did this happen?  

White had an elderly aunt who lived in Massachusetts and needed $50,000 to get into a nursing home.  She sold White some land she owned in a rural part of the state.  White wanted to build a house on the property, but after checking with a builder, the land was too hard.  He called a surveyor who found 24 million tons of Goshen rock on the property.  Rather than settling for part of 2 billion dollars by selling the land to a company that could process the rock, Matt White tried to start his own company.  The company went bankrupt.  He was forced to sell the land for a fraction of its value.  

Ron Wright played in one Major League for the Seattle Mariners in 2005.  He retired and went back to college.  Wright studied pharmacology and now works as a pharmacist in Portacello, Idaho.  

Bill Evers is the second-winningest manager in team history.  For a long time, he held the record but was passed by current Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.  

I have wanted to write about Mako Oliveras for a while.  I have several of his cards, low-key really important player and coach.  

Last group of cards.  

Joe Coleman was a pitching coach forever, including for the Cardinals while Joe Torre was managing the team.  Mickey Callaway was the Mets manager and the pitching coach for the Indians and Angels.  He is currently unemployed for good reason. 

Wool E. Bull.  What would he say about this card?  

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Fan Of Game-Used Dirt

Twenty years ago relic cards were pretty popular.  Half-inch swatches of swatches of bats and jerseys that may or may not have been worn or used by a player during a game.  At some point there was a huge scandal with these cards, which I am not going to rehash in this space, and they have slowly disappeared over the last few years. 

I have boxes full of these bat and jersey cards.  I am not sure what to do with the relic cards at this point, other than to pull them out and look through them.  I don't think they are worth anything and I do not know anyone who collects them at this point. 

Still, there are some of these relic cards that are still really fun and unique. 

One of my favorite all-time relic sets was the Stadium Club game-used dirt inserts, which were in the 2000 set.  Still pretty popular cards, so I understand why Topps has recreated these cards and put them into Opening Day the past two or three years.  

I don't do much with Opening Day, but I really like the dirt relics.  

The player choice was a no doubter, although Jack Flaherty also has a game-used dirt card.  That might be a card that I had to my watch list.  

I am 100% that this game-used dirt was likely never touched by Blake Snell or even his cleats.  I am basing that statement on the disclaimer on the back of the card.  

I am just going to ignore that statement.  I am a fan of the game-used dirt.  

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Old Bulls On New Cards

I am always on the lookout for new cards of Durham Bulls players.  There are plenty of easy and obvious targets out there, but every once in a while there is a name on a checklist that surprises me.  When the 2021 Topps Heritage set was released, I was really happy to see Jake Cronenworth had an autograph in the set.  Unfortunately, that card is also selling for a ton of money at the moment.  Luckily, there was also a surprising name in the mix on the Topps Heritage checklist.  

This guy.  

Phil Regan was a starting pitcher for the 1957 Durham Bulls.  It was a great year for the team.  Future Tigers outfielder Bubba Morton broke the color barrier for the Bulls franchise, and the team won the Carolina League championship defeating the High Point Hi-Toms led by Dallas Green.  It's hard to believe 64 years later, players on the team are still appearing on baseball cards. 

Sure, Regan played on some good teams with the Tigers, Dodgers, and Cubs, but look at the second line of the stats.....

This card is exactly the same as the actual 1972 Topps Phil Regan card.  I never realized that this set had Minor League playing stats for veteran players.  A bit of a rarity, but I checked out a few other former Durham Bulls players and they also had their Minor League stats listed.  Might have to go find the former Durham Bulls in this set at some point.  

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Wizard of Art

Topps has a new art set this year.  I saw the promotional stuff for the Project 70 cards and swore that I was not going to buy a single one.  There are several early cards in the set, which reaffirmed my decision not to spend much time or money of art cards this year.  However, there are a few that have caught my eye along the way.  

You know how these things usually go, so I am going back down this path again this year.  Here is my first card out of the Project 70 set.  

The packaging is similar to the Project 2020 cards.  

This Ozzie Smith was really hard to pass up, great looking card based on the 1990 Topps set.  I love that the picture shows Ozzie doing a flip, which is one of his trademarks, but I do not think it has appeared on many cards.  He had a Stadium Club card a few years back that showed him doing a flip in front of the Hall of Fame.  Is that it?  Maybe.  

Back of the card.  

Same set up as the Project 2020 cards.  Efdot, the artist on this card, was also involved in the Project 2020 cards and I am glad to see him back.  He made several of my favorite cards in that set, probably my favorite artist overall.  I started following him last year on social media and really enjoy his artwork, not just the work he does with baseball cards.  

His work last year had a lot of "Easter Eggs" within the design.  The Jackie Robinson card might be the best example with the Army uniform collar, the sports he played at UCLA in the bottom right corner,  the date he played his first game on the bottom left border, and the Kansas City Monarchs logo on the name plate.  

I am probably missed one or two.  

The Ozzie card does not have the small details included in many of the Efdot cards, like the Jackie Robinson card, but I do love the fact that you can flip the card either direction and it looks right side up.  

Really well done.  

I am sure that there will be a few more Cardinals included in the Project 70 set, so maybe a few more will show up here during the summer.