Monday, October 25, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #8

I promised an updated checklist before the end of October and here I am, following through. I am actually making this post because I am procrastinating on things that I should be doing to get ready for my return to work tomorrow.  As a year-round teacher, I have enjoyed being tracked-out the past few weeks.  Definitely needed the break.  On to baseball cards.  

I have three more 1964 Topps Giants cards to post today.  This has not been too difficult of a set to pull together so far, but there are a few short-prints.  I have them labeled on the checklist.  I have picked up two of them so far and added another a few weeks back.  The short-prints in the Topps Giants set aren't too hard to find in most cases, they just cost more than what you'd think.   

Here is my latest short-printed card.  

I know Galen Cisco more for being a pitching coach for the Blue Jays and Phillies than as a player. He had a short career that was most spent with the expansion Mets.  He played 7 seasons in the Majors with a career win-loss record of 25-56.  Thanks, Mets.  In 1964, Cisco had an ERA of 3.62 and lost 19 games.  Ray Sadecki, a pitcher for the Cardinals, had an ERA of 3.68 and won 20 games.  Sadly, Galen Cisco's career ended when he ended up on the expansion Royals team in 1969.  Should probably be a rule that you can't end up on two first-year expansion teams during your career.  

Nice photo on the front of the card.  

I really like this card back.  I have complained about the heavy focus on the Minors on other posts, while that is still mentioned on the back of the Galen Cisco card, I like that they gave an interesting story about a memorable game.  Pitching 8 innings of relief in a 23 inning loss is way better than hearing about what Cisco did in Double A.  I even went and found the box score.  Willie Mays went 1-10 in the game.  

As a short-print, it was not hard to find this Galen Cisco card, just cost more than the average Galen Cisco card would normally cost.  

Up next is White Sox pitcher Juan Pizarro.  

I already have a bunch of Juan Pizarro card floating around my house.  Hardly any of the them are with the same team.  He was Edwin Jackson before Edwin Jackson.  Pizarro pitched 18 years in the Majors and played for 8 different teams. He appeared on the Pirates twice with seven year gap in between. Pizarro was traded to the Reds during the 1960 off-season, but the Reds traded him to the White Sox later on the same day.  In 1970, he went to Spring Training with the Angels, did not make the team, and was traded to the Cubs.  Does that count as 11 teams?  Considering his career started with the Braves in the 1950s when there were no expansion teams, also no free agency, that's a long list.  

Juan Pizarro reached the Majors as a 20 year-old long reliever/spot starter for the good Braves teams of the late 1950s. He appeared in both the 1957 and 1958 World Series against the Yankees.  The early to mid 1960s were his best years.  Pizarro won 16 and 19 games for the White Sox in 1963 and 1964.  He made the All-Star team both seasons.  

Nice picture of him on the back of the card mid wind-up.  Nice write up about him too.  

Last card for this post.  One of my favorite player nicknames from the 1960s.  

Tony Gonzalez was an outfielder, primarily for the Phillies, and had the nickname "Little Dynamite".  He was small in stature, but had a lot of power and a great outfield arm.  Gonzalez was from Cuba and his parents worked on a sugar cane farm.  As a teenager he was able to lift 250 pound bags of sugar.  A teammate once described grabbing his arm as "touching concrete".  

Another nice write-up on the back of the card.  I like the photograph of him running down a fly ball.  The snow cone catch action-shot is not something you see often on older baseball cards.  Is this photo from Spring Training or was there a team in the 1960s with a chain link fence in their outfield?  

Maybe the Dodgers when they played in the Coliseum?  

It's the only stadium that comes to mind. 

Here is my updated checklist.  I am now up to 28 out 60 cards in the set.  

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

Random Ray - 1999 Stadium Club

Second 1999 Ray Lankford card in a row, but this 1999 Stadium Club card has a connection to last week's Fleer Brilliants card.  The back of the Fleer card used a picture of Lankford wearing a St. Louis Stars uniform from a "Throwback Game" that the Cardinals and Braves played against each other during the 1998 season.  

I really liked the Cardinals and Braves wore throwbacks belonging to Negro League teams.  As a fan, it's something different than the usual polyester 1970s or 1980s throwback.  I like the 1980s Cardinals, but how many times do we need blue polyester pull-overs?  I was also really happy to see several different card brands use pictures of the Cardinals (Braves too) from this game in their 1999 sets.  

I choose to use Lankford's 1999 Stadium Club this week due to the fact that it features an action picture of Lankford in his St. Louis Stars throwback uniform on the front of the card.  Stadium Club is a brand that was built on great photography and I feel like this Ray Lankford card fits that branding well.  

Love this action shot of Ray leading off of second base.  These are amongst my favorite throwback uniforms the Cardinals have worn.  The jerseys have a very simple design, but I like the color blue used for the socks and writing, the font used on the "St. Lous", and the red star on the side of the sleeve.  Throwbacks can sometimes look goofy with modern shoes, wristbands and batting gloves, along with the batting helmets.  None of those really look bad with this uniform.  

Bonus St. Louis Stars cards factoid before I post the back of the Stadium Club card.  I want to talk about late 1990s Fernando Tatis cards that use his picture from this game.  Here are two examples:  

The card on the left is from the 1998 Fleer Update set and on the right is a 1999 Fleer set.  

The Cardinals traded for Fernando Tatis from the Texas Rangers on July 31st, 1998.  The Braves and Cardinals game with these St. Louis Stars uniform took place on August 1st, 1998.  In other words, the cards showing Fernando Tatis in the St. Louis Stars uniform are from his very first game as a Cardinal.  I am not flipping through all my Fernando Tatis cards from 1998 and 1999, but I believe there are several other cards showing him in a St. Louis Stars uniform.  

Back to Ray Lankford.  

Stadium Club cards did not have a consistent back design.  Some are better than others.  The 1999 set actually ranks pretty high on my list.  I like the larger color photo of the player on the back, which is also used as the background on the player stats box.  The photo is slightly muted in that area of the card, but you can still see the Cardinals logo on the front of the jersey.  

I like the split stats on the back showing home vs. road, left vs right, etc.  Feels like a card back would appear on a more recent set of baseball cards.  A baseball card with OBP before the book MoneyBall was published?  

I am surprised.  

Ray Lankford could draw a walk.

This Stadium Club is one of my favorite Ray Lankford cards from the late 1990s.  Two 1999 cards in a row, I will use a different year next week when I post another Random Ray.    

Thursday, October 14, 2021

A Giant Project: Where Are We?

It has been 4 months since I last updated my progress towards completing a set of 1964 Topps Giants cards.  Way back in July, during my last 1964 Topps Giants post, this was the last card I shared....

I could feel the positive momentum after posting this Mickey Mantle card.  Nothing was going to stop me from finishing this set off by the end of the summer.  After all, this set has a small checklist and the Mantle card is one of really challenging cards in the 1964 Topps Giants set.  

A few more tough cards and thirty easy to find commons?  

Slam dunk.   

I will be kind to Duke later in the post. 

Well, I went on vacation to Michigan and I did not post any new Topps Giants cards.

School started and I did not post any new Topps Giants cards.  

Several have come in the mail.  I have not scanned the majority of the cards and I have not updated the checklist from the previous posts.  I am going to divide the Topps Giants cards that have arrived in the past two months into a few posts during the second half of October.  I will update the checklist on the last post.  

So, for this post I have two new 1964 Topps Giants cards.

First, is a card of long-time Reds outfielder Vada Pinson.  

Great photo on the front of the card.  I love the sleeveless Reds uniforms from this era.  I also noticed that Pinson is holding a bat with the number 18 on the knob, rather than his number 28.  I went to look up the player with that uniform number, which belonged to Gordy Coleman.  He's a well-known player in these parts.

Quick side story and interesting ACC sports factoid about Gordy Coleman.    

Gordy was the Reds first baseman for most of the 1960s, before being replaced by Tony Perez.  Prior to playing with the Reds, Coleman played both baseball and football at Duke University in 1953.  That was the first season that the ACC played football and Coleman helped the Blue Devils to a perfect conference record.  Duke was the first team to win a conference title in the ACC in football.  Shocking.  Gordy Coleman dropped out of school the next year to play for the Cleveland Indians, who later traded him to the Reds.  

Back to Vada Pinson.  

The picture of Pinson flying into home is incredible.  

However, this is another card back that spends time talking about a good Major League player's career in the Minor Leagues.  Why?  Yes, they gave some highlights from the Majors mixed in there, but Vada Pinson was a really good player in the early 1960s.  There was nothing better to talk about than his stats in A Ball?  

Prior to 1964, Pinson had already hit over .300 three different times, led the league in hits twice, led the league in double twice, led the league in runs once, made two All-Star teams, and also appeared in the 1961 World Series.  Yes, some of this did end up on the card, but there is no reason to talk about his career in the Minors.  He's not quite a Hall of Famer in my opinion, but I have heard some good arguments over the years for including him.  


Picked up another Hall of Famer from the set, Nellie Fox.  This is a really odd card for me.  Nellie Fox is one of those players who only looks right in one uniform.  I know he played for the early Colt 45s/Astros teams, but to me, Nellie is always a White Sox player.  He is still got a big wad of tobacco in his mouth, which seemed to be a frequent feature on his cards during the 1950s. 

Back of the card.  

This is one of the better cards of the set.  No Minor Leagues and a solid write-up on what made Nellie Fox a good player.  For a guy at the end of his career, I dare say this is a good career summary if you did not know anything about Nellie Fox.  I even like the picture of him throwing the ball over the runner sliding into second base. The only way to improve this card back would be to squeeze Luis Aparicio into the picture.  

Monday, October 11, 2021

Random Ray - 1999 Fleer Brilliants

This is a shiny card that scanned poorly.  Just imagine the surface to be shiny rather than covered in little bits of whatever is on my scanner or the sleeve on the card.  

Out of the sleeve and off the scanner......

Much better look at the card.  I always like looking at the backgrounds of cards to see other players, the stadium they are playing in, fans, etc.  Typically, I am not a fan of card designs where the background is completely removed from behind the player.  However, I really like this card with the reflective material and the swirl pattern behind the player.  I like the gold font color on the bottom, but the font itself is not my cup of tea.  

It looks like it was borrowed from a map insert of Narnia book.

I am not a big fan of C.S. Lewis.  When other teachers tell me they are reading their class one of the Narnia books, I usually feel sad for the students in that class.  Maybe my dislike of C.S. Lewis is influencing my dislike of the font.  

It's a small thing.  

The back of the card scanned much better than the front.   

Yes, I read the small write-up about Ray Lankford's career above the stat line on this card.  I am going to bring that Justin Timberlake deep stare gif back down to this section of the post.  Google was not really popular yet in the late 1990s, but there were several other popular search engines.  

Where did Ray Lankford bat in the line-up in relationship to Mark McGwire?  Every Cardinals fan who watched the team in the late 1990s does not even need a search engine to answer the question.  Let's look at a few pictures with Mark McGwire and Ray Lankford.  

They are both in this picture.  Where is Ray?  

He's on-deck.  

Here is another picture of Ray Lankford and Mark McGwire.  Where is Ray?  

He's on-deck again.  

Remember, the internet can be your friend.  I really do not like when card companies miss facts that are really easy to find on the internet.  Someone wrote it, apparently no editor actually checked it.  McGwire batted third, Ray Lankford hit fourth, and some combination of Brian Jordan, Ron Gant, or Fernando Tatis batted fifth.  

On to the best part of the back, which is the small picture on the side of the card.  

This picture is from a game between the Cardinals and Braves played in 1999 where they celebrated the former Negro League teams from Atlanta and St. Louis.  The Cardinals wore the uniforms of the St. Louis Stars.  To Fleer's credit, they actually used pictures from this game on a lot of the Cardinals cards in their 1999 products.  Ray Lankford has several cards with pictures from the game, including two where it is the primary photograph used on the front.  

I will use one of them on the next Random Ray card.  

Saturday, October 9, 2021

A Pause For College Football

It's hard to believe that we are already a month into the college football season.  I have still not made it to a game, but I plan on fixing that over the next few weeks.  The season has been pretty good for my Wolfpack.  One loss on the road to Mississippi State, but we also upset Clemson a few weeks back 

I am a big fan of Clemson losing.  

The game reminded me that I picked up a pair of NC State football cards towards the beginning of the football season that I never got around to posting.  I figured I would do it one of these weeks.  There is no NC State game this week, so here we are with a post.  

Both cards are of the same player, who happens to be one of my NC State favorites from the past five years.  

If you follow the NFL, you are probably aware of the fact that there are a really high percentage of former NC State quarterbacks in the league.  A few years back, they became only the second school to have four different former quarterbacks all start for NFL teams on the same weekend.  

Phillips Rivers has since retired, but the Bengals drafted Ryan Finley.  

There is also Jakobi Meyers.  He's a wide receiver on the Patriots, but he was originally a quarterback at NC State.  Meyers switched to being a receiver because he was blocked by Jakobi Brissett and Ryan Finley.  He is a good receiver.  Although, his passing skills have not suffered too much in the years spent catching the ball.  


Meyers had a few football cards produced with him in an NC State uniform, but I just never got around to buying them.  I have checked a few times in the past, but they ran a little high in price for my tastes.  It's really hard for me to justify spending much money on football cards.  If it's over $10, I usually pass.

Notice there are not any Russell Wilson cards on this blog.  

Here are the two Jakobi Meyers autographs.

I like the picture on these two cards with the all red home jersey.  This is by far my favorite uniform combination for the Wolfpack.  Please notice the signature on the top card.  It's not the world's best autograph by any means, but it is definitely a Jakobi Meyers autograph based on all the other autographs that are on Ebay and COMC.  

So, here is the second autograph card from Jakobi....


This is clearly not Jakobi's signature.  

Whose signature is it?  

No idea.  

Any football card collectors have a guess?  

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Farewell, Marp

One of the best parts of teaching at a year-round school is the fall break.  Three weeks off work at the beginning of October are good for so many reasons.  The weather cools down, baseball usually reaches the Postseason, and I get to take in a college football game along at some point.  I also enjoy working on my cards during fall break.  

I have sorted a few cards this week.  

Along the way, I ran into a stack of Matt Carpenter autographs in one of my boxes during the past weekend.  I ended up taking a decent amount of time to flip through the cards.  There is not a post where I officially declare myself a collector of Matt Carpenter cards, but I have ended up with quite a few during the last decade he has played for the Cardinals.  It was an impressive stack.  

I also looked back through the cards of Matt Carpenter I posted here too.  

If you are not aware, this year is Matt Carpenter's (Marp) last year with the Cardinals.  I guess he could end up playing somewhere else next year, but I doubt that will happen.  At one point, Carpenter was an All-Star caliber player.  The last three years, he has been an overpaid, under-performing member of the team.  It's not really Marp's fault he is overpaid, I wouldn't turn down $20 million dollars either.  I can't be too upset at the decline in his play either.  He's in his mid-to-late 30s.  

It happens.  

Anyway, while I frequently complain about Carpenter's large quantity of strikeouts and questionable ability to throw the ball across the infield on social media, I really have enjoyed collecting his cards over the years.  I would not say that I am a Matt Carpenter collector, but it seems that I have ended up with a large number of his cards.  I thought it would be fun to take a few minutes to reminisce about a few from the stack (and old blog posts) that have a good story.  

First, the Matt Carpenter autograph from the 2013 Gypsy Queen set.  

Have you read any of the posts the past two years where I complained about the lack of Jake Cronenworth cards, but then they transitioned over to complaining about the cost of Jake Cronenworth cards?  Similar to Jake Cronenworth, Marp played college baseball and spent a fair amount of time in the Minors.  He first appeared for the Cardinals in 2011, just a cup of coffee, but was heavily used as a utility player during the 2012 season.  

Did anyone make a Matt Carpenter card?

Just like Jake Cronenworth, the answer is no.  

In 2013, Topps finally got around to putting Marp in a few sets.  Emphasis on few.  The best card they produced was an autograph in the Gypsy Queen set.  Pictured above.  Unlike the Cronenworth cards, I caved to the pressure and bought one of these overpriced Marp cards.  However, Cronenworth, a 27 year-old second-year player has $50 autographs, Marp was a 27 year-old second year player who had $30 autographs.  

I regret nothing.  

Next is a Prizm autograph that is no longer in my collection for good reason. 

I do not talk specifics of my job on here, so I will be slightly vague.  If you have have taught, you will probably understand this better.  I had a student a few years back who was "that kid" in terms of behavior.  Definitely a challenge for me at times, but we both loved baseball.  He used to bring his glove to school and we'd play catch at recess, somedays wiffleball or kickball.  Anything to build rapport.  

After teaching this student for a year, I got moved up a grade level.  He ended up in my class for a second year.  Due to circumstance outside of school, he had a tougher time during the second year.  I used to let him pick out a few friends and let them eat lunch in my classroom as an incentive every week.  At the end of the school year, he struggled with the idea of transitioning to a new school and some changes that were going on elsewhere.  In an effort to make the end of the year positive, he agreed to work towards a Matt Carpenter autograph.  The end of the year was good.  

I hope he still has it.  

Two more.  

Do you ever have a bad parenting moment?  

Well, let me tell you about this Five Star Matt Carpenter autograph.  The gold ink on top of the black card is beautiful.  However, there is a better story here outside of aesthetics.  I was off-school for half-a-day to take my very small daughter to a check-up.  She was under a year old.  My wife and I, she is also a teacher, alternate off days for kids appointments and sick days.  The pediatrician we use is literally 5 minutes from my house.  I could walk there on a nice day.  

Did I take a diaper bag?  No, it's 5 minutes from my house.  

Did I bring a bottle or any food?  No, it's 5 minutes from my house.  

Here is where I went wrong.  The appointment ended and little one has completed dozed off while I was talking to the doctor and paying the bill at the front desk.  Afternoon nap.  I put her in the car.  I am a big fan of trying to squeeze as much into days off as possible.  My children slept great in cars, so I put her in the backseat and decided to go pick up a box of cards from the one of the many card stores we've had in Raleigh.  

I get to the store and take my daughter into the store.  She is still sleeping in her car seat.  I buy the box.  I also bought this single Matt Carpenter autographed card.  I am talking to the guy in the store when my daughter starts to stir.  She wasn't too happy.  That's when the gas started and I realized I did not have her bag.  Gassy babies don't stay gassy long.  I picked her up, the cards too, and ran out to my car.  About half-way home, from both the sounds and odor coming from the back seat, she had filled her diaper.  Every light was red on the way home and she screamed for the last 10 minutes of the drive.    

We got home.  

I changed her.  

I think it took me almost an hour to get her back to sleep for her nap.  

I never forgot her diaper bag again.  

Last one.  

I have lived in Durham or Raleigh (Raleigh-Durham is an airport) since the fall of 2005.  There have been some long stretches of time where the area has not had a card shop or not had a quality card shop.  We actually just got a new card shop recently.  I am reserving judgement for the moment.  By far, the best card shop we had was open during 2013 through 2015.  It was called Big D's Card shop.  I got so many great cards for my collection from that store.  

The last card I got at the store?  

This Matt Carpenter Postseason relic/autograph.  

I miss that place.  

I am sure that I will also miss Matt Carpenter at some point too.  Maybe not right now, while all those strikeouts are fresh in my memory, but there were some good games and great moments during Marp's time with the Cardinals.  Those at-bats in the Postseason against Clayton Kershaw are going to be at the top of the list.  

It was a good ride.  

Farewell, Marp.  

Monday, October 4, 2021

Random Ray - 1998 Sports Illustrated Then & Now

Sports Illustrated made baseball cards in the late 1990s.  

Actually, Fleer made the cards, but they were branded as Sports Illustrated cards.  Yes, there were several Sports Illustrated card products.  I don't know the difference between the "Then and Now" set and the regular base Sports Illustrated cards.  Honestly, I am not sure exactly sure what Fleer and Sports Illustrated were trying to do here.  I think the cards were supposed to be a Stadium Club type of set.  After all, Sports Illustrated was always all about the photography, so was Stadium Club.  

Anyway, Sports Illustrated flopped as a baseball card brand.  

I am not really sure I would say that the photography in this set was great.  I think I would describe them as more unique than anything else.  Is this a great photograph of Ray Lankford?  He is wearing Ron Gant's batting helmet backwards and he's bunting the ball.  There is grass behind him, so it's not like he's in a batting cage or anything.  I am guessing he was just messing around during Spring Training.  

I am not going to post all of Ray's Stadium Club cards to prove a point on a post about a Sports Illustrated card, but let's just say those pictures are a lot better.  

Ray Lankford was never much of a personality while he was playing for the Cardinals.  He just showed up and played baseball.  As for the bunting, young Ray Lankford might have dropped one down from time to time, but he was hitting behind Mark McGwire by this point in his career.  

Just an odd picture on the card.  

The back is weird.  

The stats are tiny and the majority of the back some sort of Sports Illustrated rating system where Harmon Killebrew, Lou Brock, and Brooks Robinson evaluate the players based on speed, power, and defense.  The ratings for Ray seem pretty fair.  Only in the steroid era could you hit 30 home runs and 35 doubles and get an "average" power rating.  There are other cards in this set that are a little bit off.  I applaud the effort by Fleer to come up with an original card back, but this does not really do anything for me.  

In conclusion, the Sports Illustrated brand did not last long in the baseball card world and that's not a bad thing.