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Monday, November 18, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 27- 1982 O-Pee-Chee Lonnie Smith

The Topps Traded sets in the 1980s were great, but you had to wait all the way until the end of the year to get new cards of new players on your teams.  If you did not get the Traded sets, then you had to wait all the way until the following year to get the new players in their new uniform.  Then there were the O-Pee-Chee cards.  You know, the Canadian version of Topps. 

They were sort of a halfway point between the traded set and the regular Topps cards.  I am not sure when they came out during the year, but they often included traded players, so later than the base Topps set.  They also did not show the players in their new uniforms, just merely restyled their Topps card to fit the design of their new team. 

I have already covered a bunch of this in a post a few months back with a John Tudor card from the 1985 O-Pee-Chee set.  Great card.  



I know there are likely some who would put out that John Tudor is wearing a Pirates uniform, but the card clearly says, "Traded To Cardinals 12-12-84" and the logos and word marks also all belong to the Cardinals.  This is his first Cardinals card.  I feel like I could make a whole post of "Traded To..." posts of Cardinals O-Pee-Chee cards, but for today I am just going to stick with Lonnie Smith.  

Here is the card.  



Lonnie was a really important player on the 1982 Cardinals.  He finished second in the National League MVP voting in 1982 with almost 70 stolen bases, an average over .300, and an on-base percentage just a tad over .380.  The team won the World Series, so that's always a good thing.  




Prior to playing on the Cardinals, Lonnie played a few years for the Phillies.  It was the only team he played for prior to getting traded to the Cardinals.  Here is the back of the card.....



The coloring on the back is a little different than the standard Topps card, which were a little darker shade of green.  The information is obviously different since it is written in French and English.  Also love that Lonnie was a young enough player that you can see all of his Minor League stats, as well as his Major League numbers.  

Lonnie played on the Cardinals until the beginning of the 1985 when he was traded to the Royals to make room for Vince Coleman.  He was apart of the Pittsburgh cocaine trial along with Keith Hernandez and Joaquin Andujar.  That was where the guy who was inside Pirates parrot mascot was selling drugs to players.



Whitey Herzog ditched all the Cardinals players involved with the Pirates drug scandal.  Lonnie did get a 1985 O-Pee-Chee card, but it did not have a "Traded" stamp anywhere on the front of the card.




I have been saving the greatest 1980s Cardinals O-Pee-Chee card, might need to post it sooner than later.  Anyone have any ideas of player who might have a card like the Lonnie Smith or John Tudor card above?  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 25

Well, I have reached my goal of 25 Blake Snell autographed cards for the year.  

I couldn't have done it without all of you.  


Thank you for stopping by to read about all the autographs I have found over the past eleven and a half months.  

Also my wife for putting up with my baseball card collection, and my son for bringing in the mail most of the time.  

Here is the card.  




This is my third autographed card of Snell out of the Topps Clearly set.  I have the base autograph, the red parallel, and now the black parallel.  I like this better than the red parallel, but it's still not as good as the base autograph.  

Here is the back of the card.  




I really like the back of the Acetate cards.  The flipped image and the black and white player photo always look nice together.  I feel like black border on the front of the card does not offer the usual contrast with the design of the back, but I still like the overall appearance and design of this card.  

Now that I have reached my goal, that does not mean that I am done with Snell autographs for the year.  If there are quality cards at the right price I will consider adding them to my collection.  I also know that there is almost no way that I will get to 30 Snell autographs for the year unless someone goes crazy with cheap Buy It Nows on Ebay. 

I need to do this again next year.  Maybe with a different player.  



Saturday, November 16, 2019

Revisiting An Old Favorite

Long ago, when I first started writing in this space, I am pretty sure that Triple Threads was my favorite product to collect.  I sort of held back all summer on new card releases, and then went crazy buying Triple Threads single cards.  Whatever was leftover was my budget for all the other cards that I was going to collect for the year. 

I flipped through some of my old boxes and checked out some of the old scans the other night while trying to wind down after work.  Fun to do. 

Here are a few things I found......

I don't even remember owning this Howie Kendrick autograph. 



Love how the signature is vertical on the card rather than horizontal.  Seemed like a nice find given his performance in the Postseason this year. 

I don't really collect relic cards anymore, but I have a bunch of Triple Threads that are just patches and jersey pieces.  This Miggy patch card with just a print run of 3 is probably my best one.  The smudges are on the case, not on the card. 



My favorite Triple Threads cards by far were the Triple Threads cards with the player nicknames.  Here are three good ones....








It did not matter whether it was autographed or not.  I am not a huge Ryan Braun fan, as a player, but the Hebrew Hammer card might be my favorite nickname card that is in my collection on a Triple Threads card. 

The more recent Triple Threads sets have always just been about names for me.  I am not really sure that Topps does a lot with the nicknames anymore, so I just go for the player.  So, really I end up with a few Cardinals and whatever former Durham Bulls players I can find. 

Probably my favorite Triple Threads card in recent years us this Jim Edmonds. 



Would love a "Jimmy Ballgame" card, but the 2004 NLCS is cool too.  




So, this year I have already added a Blake Snell autograph from Triple Threads, but there were a few more cards from the set that I decided to pick up in addition.  As much as I used to love this set, and enjoy the quick revisit for a week, these feel a little disappointing.  

First up is a Cardinals card.  



It used to be that the cards above at the top of the post were sort of the standard design for Triple Threads, but it feels like those types of cards are now secondary.  This Hicks card feels like the majority of cards that I run across in this set.  It's the usual generic autograph and relic piece that could be found in half a dozen other Topps products. 

Not the best autograph either from Hicks.  Yes, it's just this card.  Yes, it sold for cheap. 

Next up is a former Durham Bull. 




Again, same style as the Hicks card.  Adames had a good year for the Rays, if you do not know anything about him, or own any of his cards I would highly recommend you check him out.

Last card, another Durham Bull.  



I am not exactly sure how to describe this card.  It's not quite the cards at the top of the post, and it's not the same as the Hicks and Adames.  Sort of it's own thing.  I'd like to think of this as almost a generic version of the standard Triple Threads autograph/relic that Topps uses on players it has no clue about. 

Ryan Yarbrough? 

He's won a bunch of games.  What else does Topps know about him?  I'd guess nothing. 

I am excited about finding an autograph of the Rays starting pitcher.  He was in Durham a few years back, and seems like a decent starting pitcher.  He had another autographed card or two early in the year, but nothing I was overly excited about. 

Maybe another Triple Threads card or two next week, maybe not. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 24

I am going to meet my goal of 25 Blake Snell autographs.  They are already all here sitting on my desk.  I got a little behind the past few weeks on Blake Snell cards though, so I am going to post them a little bit out of the order in which they arrived into my collection.  For today, I am going to go with an autograph out of Triple Threads.  This is usually a favorite product.

Here is the card.  




I am feeling like these cards are getting a little stale.  I have never minded that these cards were sticker autographs, but I feel like they are lost a little bit of creativity with the different phrases and sayings that are on the fronts of the cards.  Low IP 21 Wins?  That's not that great.  There is also a "RISP Stopper" card and a "Swings & Misses" card.  Both are better than the card I bought, but five or six years ago Topps would have slapped "Snellzilla" on his cards, which is better than all of them.  

Simple is better, just use his nickname.  

Someone slapped this card up with a low Buy It Now.  The card was cheaper than any other copy of this card that had sold up to that point.  The price of Snell Triple Threads cards has slid back a little more over the past week, so maybe I will find a second copy of this card with a different phrase on the front. 

Back of the card.  




The phrase "Low IP 21 Wins" is explained.  We get the usual disclaimer about the card being signed in front of someone from Topps.  Also the usually disappointing disclaimer about the relics on the cards, which means that they are likely from a jersey that Blake Snell once put on, walked around the clubhouse in, and then took it off.  

One more until I reach my goal.  

A 1980s Card Part 26- 1987 Topps Todd Worrell Record Breaker

Everyone loves the 1987 Topps set.  I think I would put it in the middle of the pack if I had to rank all of the 1980s Topps sets.  I guess the appeal is that the wood frame of the cards is similar to the 1962 Topps set, or something like that. 



Give me the 1962 Topps card all day. 

The first Cardinals card in the 1987 Topps set is a Record Breaker card for relief pitcher Todd Worrell, who set the Major League record for saves in a season by a rookie pitcher during the 1986 season.  Seems a little odd given that the most memorable moment of his career came before his rookie season while pitching in the Postseason for the 1985 Cardinals. 

He was a September call-up who stuck on the Postseason roster. 



Whitey Herzog used all sorts of pitchers in the closers role during the 1985 season, but Todd Worrell was used almost exclusively as the stopper during the playoffs.  He also did a pretty good job of covering first base during Game 6 of the World Series no matter what Don Denkinger called. 

The 1986 Cardinals were not very good, but Worrell still managed to save 36 games and set the Major League record.  Here is his 1987 Topps Record Breaker card......



Beyond the wood border, this Worrell card has another trademark of the 1987 Topps set, which is poor centering.  Possible on any Topps set, even today, but look at that top border.  That's pretty bad.  I actually like the action photo of Worrell and his high leg kick with the green background.  I am farily certain that every 1980s pitcher who threw hard had a giant leg kick and was incredibly slow to the plate.  Looks like the beautiful green concrete from Riverfront Stadium.  


Love those multi-purpose concrete bowls stadiums.  Surprised you cannot see the lines from the football field going across the diamond.  

Here is the back of the card.  


  

I would not have guessed that Doug Corbett had previously held the rookie saves record prior to Worrell.  I would have gone Lee Smith, or Jeff Reardon.  Worrell's record was broken by Kaz Sasaki in 2001 with the Mariners, but is currently held by former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.  It's probably only a matter of time before we get a rookie closer who saves 50 games.  They will likely pitch 50 innings or less too.  

Worrell ended up pitching until 1998, accumulating more than 250 saves with the Cardinals and Dodgers.  Pretty remarkable that he got that many saves though.  




While he was hardly a bust, Worrell had an injury shortened career, and his opportunities to close out games were limited at several points.  He missed almost two whole seasons in the prime of his career with arm injuries, and he spent one season with the Cardinals as a setup man for Lee Smith trying to rebuild his value for a run at free agency. 

Worrell lost his job closing out games for the Dodgers during his first season with the team, and only managed 11 his second season in Los Angeles.  He was terrible both years.  The 1994 baseball strike was terrible for the game, but the time off seemed to help Worrell.  He saved 112 games during his final 3 seasons in the Majors.  When you do the math, Worrell was really only the primary closer for his team during 7 seasons, so the 250 number is pretty impressive when given a little more context.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

No, The Pizza Was Not Good

I have been working on my La Pizza Royale set the last few weeks, chasing down all the color variation cards of two former Durham Bulls players that appeared in the 1970 Expos team set. 



Mauch played for the Bulls during the early 1940s, Staub during the early 1960s.  

So, last week something happened in my pursuit of collecting these cards.  I revisited the old Google website to see if I could dig out anymore information about the cards.  Anything.  When you type in "Montreal Expos La Pizza Royale" the first hit is a Trading Card Database page with the checklist.  



You can click on the 1970 sets link on the page and find checklists for all four color variations of these Expos cards.  Look, it's right next to Jack In Box.  


I really do not need the checklist though.  There are blue, green, red, and yellow cards of Staub and Mauch.  I need eight total cards to complete this little project.  So, at this point I typed in "La Pizza Royale" and I started to get suspicious.  

There are no La Pizza Royale stores.  

That's really not all that suspicious by itself considering that these cards came out in the early 1970s, but do you know how much people love pizza?  Type in the name of a pizza place that closed in your hometown and there is likely something about it floating around on the internet.  

Anyone in St. Louis remember Pantera's?  I know there is still one in O'Fallon, but there are people selling their old menus online, as well as several sites that have stories about the old anti-St. Louis style pizza.  



So, after a deep dig here is what I know:

1. The only "La Pizza Royale" restaurant is located in France.  I do not know if the pizza is good, but it looks a little weird.  Perhaps the French are as talented at pizza as southerners are at pasta.  Not a compliment. 




2. The "La Pizza Royale" set was actually created by Bob Solon.  Here is a snippet from a write up about the man who just went ahead and printed his own baseball cards.  


"Bob developed an affinity, or perhaps more accurately an affliction, for going after regional and team issues in quantity. Anyone could go to a store and buy the one annual issue of Topps cards, but Cardinal postcards, Seattle Rainiers issues, KahnsKelloggs and other regionals were a challenge................ The 1970 La Pizza Royale Expos was a set that I had been looking for to add to my type card collection. I finally found one card a few years ago. It is amazing that I found a single card. I should have asked Bob for a set. Bob and friends made up the name La Pizza Royale as well as about 800 sets and issued them to collectors for a few dollars a set. The photography, write-ups and sales were quite an accomplishment and a lot of work".


Fairly certain Bob would get slapped with a cease and desist order faster than you could order a real pizza from a real restaurant if he just printed a bunch of cards of Major League Baseball teams today.  


3.  The "La Pizza Royale" cards are still a neat little set, and I will just go ahead and finish off the set since I have already started.  In fact, I just picked up the red copy of the Gene Mauch card last week.  



4.  Yes, I am a little disappointed, but it is a three day weekend and there are several local sports teams in action.  I am off to watch a few games.  



Thursday, November 7, 2019

Extraordinarily Ordinary

Who is the most average player who played for your rooting interest?  

As a Cardinals fan, I would vote for Todd Zeile.  

Todd Zeile was a really average player.  He was extraordinary at being ordinary.  

He was supposed to be a really good player, rated as high as the number 7 overall prospect by Baseball America prior to the 1990 season.  The team thought so much of Zeile that they let their starting catcher Tony Pena walk at the end of his contract so that he could have the starting job.  

Zeile would go on to play for 11 different teams over 16 seasons, but for seven of those years he appeared in a Cardinals uniform.  As a Cardinal, he never hit 20 home runs, drove in 100 runs only one time, and only twice had a slugging percentage over .450 and an OPS over .800.  The Cardinals moved Zeile's position on two different occasions to make room for other players who were considered better than him.  

Still, he was a Cardinal, and one of the few who played a significant number of games during the 1990s who did not have a certified autograph.  Welp, he finally signed a few cards for Topps, and I bought one last week.  

Not a new product, but the Buy It Nows for some of the Zeile cards on Ebay were upwards of $30.  For Todd Zeile?  No thank you.  I also whiffed on a few auctions, but finally ended up with one for less than $10 shipped.  

It's an above average effort on the part of Topps too.  



I specifically targeted this card since this is an autographed rookie card.  This card is from the 1990 Topps Major League Debut set.  This was actually a small box set.  Zeile had a short shelf life as an interesting player in my card collection in the early 1990s.  He quickly went from can't miss prospect to scapegoat in a short time.  I collected his 1989 and 1990 cards, but I was done at some point in 1991 or 1992.  

I also love that Topps, or perhaps it was Todd Zeile, used the gold colored ink on the card.  The dark colored dugout in the background would not hidden a blue or black ink signature.  Well done.  




Nothing great about the back of the cards.  I always thought that the fake newspaper clippings on this card were not the best way to share out information about the players in this set.  What is "The Register" exactly?  At least give me a real newspaper.