Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Wil Myers Trade

One of my favorite Minor League players I have watched in person is former uber prospect Wil Myers.  He appeared for the Durham Bulls for about half of the 2013 season, and then again on an injury rehab during the 2014 season.  Myers was a highly rated prospect who came over in the James Shields/Wade Davis/tons of prospects to the Rays trade.  

Myers was a fun player to watch in person.  The ball had a lot of pop off of his bat and he seemed to have that "it" factor.  I know that's not really a statistic, or number, but you could just watch him and tell that he was something special.  I was disappointed that the Rays ended up trading him to the Padres and I really slowed down this year on collecting his cards.  I still did not own a single Padres card of the former Durham Bull.  While he is still not with the Rays, that usually does not stop me from still collecting the players I see roll through the Bull City.  

Well, I decided to make a Wil Myers trade of my own.  I did not give up Wade Davis and James Shields.  I also did not get any Rene Rivera or Steven Souza cards back in some sort of three person trade.  Just a nice Triple Threads autograph....

I really like the looks of this card with the green background, brown bat pieces, and blue Padres jersey.  It has a really nice look.  I also like the fact that I found an on-card Triple Threads autograph.  The set can have a lot of sticker autographs.  Myers still has kind of a sloppy signature, but overall this is a great card.  

I am not really surprised that the price, in both money and trade return, of Myers cards has dropped dramatically over the last two to three years given the fact that he is three years into his Major League career and has yet to play a full season in the Majors.  Obviously, the first season was split between Durham and Tampa.  The rest have been the result of injuries.  Let's hope Wil stays on the field for a full season in 2016.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bowman's Best Durham Bull

Topps has just released the Bowman's Best product, taking the place of the former sticker autograph set known as Bowman Sterling. I have always really enjoyed the Bowman's Best sets and can tell you right now that I have several of the latest version en route to my house.

While the Bowman's Best name has not been it's own set in recent years, Topps has still used the name on a nice looking die-cut insert the last several years in the end of year Bowman Draft product. I know I give Bowman Draft a lot of grief about the airbrushing in the base set, but the Bowman's Best inserts have always been a plus.

Here is my latest card......>

I have also picked up the Michael Wacha card in this set.  I have had my eye on this Shaffer for most of the summer after he was promoted from the Montgomery Biscuits up to the Durham Bulls.  In half a year he almost hit 20 home runs in Triple A earning a promotion up to the Rays.  I would imagine he will be in the mix at first base next year in Tampa.  Here's the back of the card....

The card is numbered to 99.  There is another version of this card, the X-fractor version, but those are pretty hard to find.  Also slightly pricey.  It's been awhile since I have added a Shaffer card to my collection and I plan on trying to keep up with his cards even if he is not in Durham next year.  Still fun to collect the Durham Bulls players even when they have moved on to other places...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Triumvirate Cardinals. Well, mostly Cardinals

Stadium Club was one of my favorite products during the past year.  I loved the base set and could literally spend hours flipping through the cards looking at the photographs.  I am not sure who designed the product this year at Topps, but the set felt like the Stadium Club cards from back in the early 1990s when it was known for it's great photography.  After putting together the base set, and a few autographs, I have turned my attention to find a few of the inserts.

One of the first insert sets I worked on was the Triumvirate cards.  This year's version featured three star players from one team that fit together like a puzzle.  Long ago I picked up the first piece of the Cardinals set with this Yadier Molina in a trade with another collector.  Small piece in a bigger trade.

Which meant that I was two pieces short.  I picked up the two other pieces from COMC, but did not really feel like posting it after the whole Jason Hayward thing last month.  Well, I am over Jason Hayward (have fun in Chicago) and I went ahead and scanned the card along with the Adam Wainwright.  Here's look at the Hayward and Wainwright by themselves....

and the best part of picking up the cards in this set is to put them all together and put them under the scanner.  The end result always looks nice, even when some Cubs player gets in the way....

2015 Snorting Bull Awards Newcomer of the Year

Pretty easy choice for this award this year.  I should really come up with some eligibility rule like MLB has with players qualifying for the Rookie of Year.  My choice for this award this year had a few cards in 2014, but not too many.  This year the player had a ton of cards and collectors seemed to love each and every one of them.  Easy choice.....

2015 Newcomer of the Year

Kris Bryant

Bryant spent the first few weeks of the season with the Iowa Cubs, but made a big impact after being called up to the Cubs.  26 home runs, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an NLCS appearance later Bryant is a known commodity to baseball fans across the country.  Bryant was huge in the world of baseball cards too.  I pulled a bunch of Bryant cards this year and would get trade offers galore on all of them.  Even if I was keeping them I would get a "well if you change your mind".... Bryant was huge this year and should be a popular get for collectors for the foreseeable future.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Venerable Old Card Part 4

A few weeks back I was doing a little bit of research on an article I was writing for my other gig when I ran into a cool old Tom Glavine card from his time with the Richmond Braves.  The card was a giveaway sponsored by local camera store Bob's Camera.  I have spent a lot more time on Minor League cards this year, so I decided I would try to track down a copy of one Bob's Camera card.  That was several months ago.

Not to say that I have not tried to find a copy of a card, I have, but they are really hard to find.  Add in the fact that the cards are a little bit pricey when you run into them.  Who wants to spend a ton of money on a card of a 4A player?  Sure, if it was Justin Ruggiano I would be all in, but he was never a Brave.  I am also not really into spending a few hundred dollars for a player like Glavine.  So, I went for the middle ground, here's my Bob's Camera card....

This is from the 1991 set, which is one of the easier sets of Bob's Camera cards to find.  The set doesn't have any hide names it, but they are still decent Major Leaguers.  The cards are also an odd shape.  When my trading partner first sent me a scan I thought the card was going to be the size of a Topps Giant card.  However, they are eight inches tall.  More of a large ticket stub.  

Anyway, I was happy to pick up a copy of Deion Sanders.  Not one of my favorite players, but he wasn't a career Minor Leaguer either.  I was also curious as to whether Deion actually played for the Richmond Braves, or he was sent down on injury rehab.  I have Minor League sets capitalize on Major League players rehabbing and include them in their team sets.  That was not the case here.  Deion spent almost a full month in the International League during the 1991 season and did not exactly set the world on fire with a .262/.312/.469 line.  

Definitely a great find and neat addition to the collection.  

College Memories for a Dollar

My alma mater NC State has a pretty good college basketball program.  The neighborhood is pretty tough with Duke playing a few miles away in Durham and UNC playing in Chapel Hill.  Still, the team and their games are usually pretty entertaining.  In more recent years they have been to four NCAA tournaments in a row and done a little bit of damage while they were there.  Last year they took out the East Region first seed Villanova and advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Louisville.

However, when I was going to NC State times were a little bleaker.  There were a lot more bad moments with Sidney Lowe coaching the team than good.  State often started the season slow, made a run late in the conference schedule, chased a few teams out of the ACC tournament, and qualified for the NIT.  There were still some talented players on the teams, more a matter of coaching than anything else.  One of my favorites was forward Courtney Fells.  He was a great athlete who could do a lot on the court to help a team win.  Favorite Courtney Fells play.....

Fells never made it into the NBA, but has been a successful player in the D-League.  He also managed to have an Upper Deck autograph made because he was, at one point, a pretty good NBA prospect.

I found this card on COMC while I was trying to find a few cards to fill in some holes in sets from the last two years.  While I am not a huge basketball card collector I have been more and more into finding some of the cards of players I have enjoyed watching over the last decade since I moved to North Carolina.  I am surprised at how many of them have cards, often they do not cost much of anything.  

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Five Star Kluber

I have a few more Five Stars on the way to my mailbox and onto this blog space.  One of my favorite cards I found was an autograph of Indians pitcher Corey Kluber.  I have seen him pitch a few times over the past few years and I am always amazed that he flies under the radar with baseball card collectors.  I know, it's really about the fact that he plays in Cleveland, not New York or Los Angeles.  One of the best games I have seen him pitch was against the Cardinals last May when he struck out 18 batters.  Yes, Mark Reynolds was in the lineup for the Cardinals along with the awesomeness that is Matt Adams and Pete Kozma.......

Pretty good stuff.  If baseball cards value and popularity were actually based on what happened on the field then I wouldn't be able to find an awesome high end autograph of a really good pitcher like this for $5.  I am not necessarily complaining that Kluber's autographs are that cheap, but he has not signed much of anything before this year.  

Great player, a great signature, and cool card design make this card one that I had to add to my collection.  I have a few more Five Star autographs to post, nothing too high end, but still nice players on a really great looking product.  Kluber also has an autograph in the Topps Tek set, might have to find that one too.  

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Snorting Bull Awards Best Parallel Set

This award was a little bit tougher for me this year.  The two previous winners were slam dunks in my opinion.  I really didn't have to think about either choice.  This year, I wouldn't say that the field was weak, but I felt like I didn't have a favorite that really stood out from the rest of the parallel sets.  So, after spending an afternoon flipping back through my 2015 cards I narrowed my three of four possibilities down to one winner.....

2015 Best Parallel Set

Topps Allen & Ginter Red Minis

I really enjoyed these minis out of Ginter this year.  I like the minis in Ginter every year, but the red parallels really stood out for me.  I pulled a bunch of them in my small pack when I opened up one of of my boxes earlier this summer, but went through and added several different Cardinals and Rays cards over the summer.  In years past, Topps has put a black border around some of the minis.  Always liked the look, but the red design around the edges popped for me this year.  Is it because I really really like the color red?  Probably, but they are still cool cards.  

Friday Five: 5 Durham Bulls Highlights from 2015

This week's Friday Five looks back at 5 cool things that happened last year for the Durham Bulls.  While the team did not make the playoffs, I know Bulls fans are spoiled, there were plenty of things to love about the past season.  Here are my five highlights from 2015 from my favorite Minor League baseball team:

Honorable Mention- Corey Brown Hits Bull, Wins Steak
Every loves the Bull in left field of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Growing up as a Cardinals fan in St. Louis we always had the Stan Musial statue in front of the stadium.  The Bull is slightly larger than Stan and he is in the stadium.  Every once in awhile you can see a player hit a home run off the landmark.  This year outfielder Corey Brown got the job done.  Not sure how many lefties have pulled off this feat......

5. Boog Powell and his Baseball Glove 
The Bulls had Boog Powell for roughly half the season.  He came over in the Ben Zobrist trade with the A's last season and provided a spark at the top of the lineup for the Bulls.  Besides working his OBP magic the speedy spark plug also played one incredible outfield.  Over summer break I took my son to a Sunday game against the Gwinnett Braves for run the bases day.  The Bulls ended up losing the game in extra innings, but we got to enjoy one of the better catches I have ever seen in person....

4. Mahtook's First Hit Home Run 
One of the best parts of watching Minor League baseball is seeing the players you watch end up in the Majors.  It's even better when they get to the Majors and make a positive impact for their team.  Mikie Mahtook spent the 2015 season traveling back and forth between Durham and Tampa.  He struggled to find consistent playing time with the Bulls, but shined off the bench with the Rays putting up a .295/.351/.619 line with 5 homers, 1 triple, and 9 doubles in just over 100 at bats.  Mahtook even picked up his first career hit with a home run against the Blue Jays.

3. Shaffer's Debut Home Run 
Richie Shaffer started the season in Double A Montgomery, spent 70 games in Durham, and then got promoted to the Rays.  Somewhere in there he hit 19 home runs for the Bulls, 7 for Montgomery, and played in the MLB Futures Game.  The highlight of Shaffer's year thought had to be his first Major League hit after being called up for the Bulls.  Self-High-Five.  

2. Motter Everywhere 
The MVP of the 2015 Durham Bulls was a no brainer.  Every night Taylor Motter was in the line-up.  Sometimes he played in the outfield, sometimes he played in the infield, but he was always somewhere.  By the end of the season Motter posted a .292/.366/.471 line with 14 home runs and 43 doubles.  As a fan of the game Motter was a joy to watch and I cannot wait to see him in Tampa.  Remember the name. 

1. Snell Wins Minor League Pitcher of the Year 
Rays prospect Blake Snell spent the end of his 2015 season with the Durham Bulls making 9 starts.  The left handed pitcher had an ERA of 1.83 and struck out 57 batters in just 44.1 innings.  He was pretty special in Double-A too.  All of this great pitching helped Blake Snell pick up Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors from both Baseball America and USA Today.  I am guessing he will start the season in Durham next year.  Go watch him pitch before he's in Tampa.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Snorting Bull Awards: Best Autograph Set

I was talking with a fellow collector about a week and half ago about our autograph sets of the year.  We each shared our opinions, but he also was really excited about the upcoming Strata release from Topps.  I checked out a few pictures and I was excited too.  In fact, I already landed my first Strata autograph in a trade earlier today.  The problem is that I am trying to wrap up my awards posts, note they are 2015, by the end of 2015.  That leaves me with a week to make several more posts about cards.  Perhaps I will get the Strata card in the mail and I will change my mind.  Maybe I won't.  Until then this product wins......

2015 Best Autograph Product 

Five Star 


 Yes, I am using the same Matt Carpenter card in back to back posts.  This year the Five Star set was easily the best autograph set in my opinion.  Let's down a few of the reasons.  First, it's a high end product with on-card autographs.  There are plenty of nice looking autographs put out every year, but it slays me how many of them feature sticker autographs.  Five Star is all on-card.  Second, the product has improved over time.  When Topps debut this product I know a lot of collectors loved these cards.  I was one of them.  They had dark backgrounds, thick card stock, and the edges chipped.  Now, they have lighter backgrounds, thick card stock, and they don't chip.  Great product, I have several more of these cards I need to share out, but you will not be disappointed if you end up with a Five Star. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hugs and Marp Five Star

Five Star is always one of the better Topps autograph products every year.  I will never open the boxes myself, but after they have been floating around for awhile I am always willing to add a few of the premium autograph cards into my collection.  So, I went out looking for the usual assortment of Cardinals, Rays, and former Durham Bulls (see Rays).  There are a few Rays, a few former Durham Bulls, but I went with the Cardinals cards first and ended up with another card too.

First, the Cardinals autograph.  Topps has been really repetitive with the Cardinals the past two years.  The same players over and over again.  Makes it hard to get too excited about finding new cards.  While I have added a bunch of Matt Carpenter cards over the past two years, I really like Marp.  I am not sure if he is quite in the category of "there can never be too many cards", but he's really close to that level.  Here is his Five Star autograph.....

Some of the early Five Star designs had dark backgrounds.  I really like the lighter background and team logo in the background.  This card looks nice with the signature on the front.  In fact, I liked the looks of it enough to add a second Five Star autograph from the same seller.  I like saving money on shipping.  

I have had a bunch of different Freddie Freeman cards over the years and I always seem to end up trading them to people.  So many Braves fans, or one Braves fan I always trade with?  I go with the latter.  Anyway, maybe I will hold onto this one.  I think in the back of my mind I was hoping the Cardinals would trade for him when I bought this card.  Perhaps Freeman and Marp could hug at the end of every Cardinals win.  I would like to see that.

The Great Mustachio

One of the better pitchers on the Cardinals this year was Carlos Villanueva dubbed "Mustachio" by his teammates on social media.  I know that first statement might have drawn a few chuckles out of some of you, but it's true.  Serving as the team's long reliever Villanueva posted an ERA+ of 135 and beat his career marks in K/9, BB/9, and FIP.  I know the long reliever usually comes into those games that are a blow out one way, or the other, but it is still a fairly important role for team to fill.  

I did not do a ton with Cardinals cards this year, there were a lot of repetitive players from the Cardinals who appeared over and over, but I feel like I also missed the chance to add a easy autographs of some of the role players on the team.  Ultimately my goal is to have at least one autograph of every player to appear in a Cardinals uniform.   Not a shocker here, but Villanueva autographs are really inexpensive, plentiful, and the only reason I did not add one sooner is simply because I did not look.  However, I did find one recently.  Here is the one that I added to my Cardinals autograph collection:

Can I complain about Carlos Villanueva autographs?  They are all sticker autographs, but he did most of his signing in 2009 and 2010 products, so I guess it fits the years.  I really like his signature and I paid about $2 for this card.  Add in the fact that I threw this in the cart of a COMC order, which charges a flat $3 for shipping, and I feel like I did well picking up this card. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Venerable Old Card Part 3 (Take 2)

I have been working on a few Durham Bulls players during my down time recently, doing a little bit of reading, and picking up a few of there cards.  The older minor league cards can be a little bit tricky to track down at times, but I have found a lot of the Braves affiliates in the early 1980s are not too tricky.  

Well, for the most part.  One player, who I am convinced never had a Bulls baseball cards, was long-time Major League outfielder Brett Butler.  The speedy outfielder appeared for the Bulls during the second half of the 1980 season after being promoted from the Braves team in Anderson, South Carolina.  The Herald-Sun, Durham's local newspaper, sponsored many of the card sets for the Bulls back then, but as far as I can tell there is no card of Butler.  

These days there would have been a league all-star set, or an additional few cards printed up if a big prospect came through a team and did not have a card in the team set.  At worst, the team would probably print one up the following season. 

With no Durham Bulls card of Brett Butler I have turned to track down some of his other Minor League cards from a few other Braves affiliates.  I currently have found two, but I am going to just post my favorite of the pair this afternoon:

This is Butler's card from the Braves Anderson affiliate.  I like the red border around the edge of the card.  I have actually found a bunch of the minor league sets from this era often featured this sort of border.  It had made some of the imperfections on some of these cards stand out a little bit, but it's not like mint copies of these cards break the bank.  I haven't found a set of these cards together, but there are some other good players included from this team such as Brook Jacoby and Brad Komminsk (I am going to count him as an awesome Minor Leaguer - just ignore his Major League stats).

Sunday, December 20, 2015

0% Cardinals, 0% Braves

Last fall I decided to go out and get a nice looking Bowman Shelby Miller autograph.  It was a nice looking card and you are missing out if you have never seen Shelby Miller's autograph.  Very nice.  Here is the card....

Somewhere in between trading for this card and my mailbox the Cardinals traded Shelby Miller to the Braves for Jason Heyward.  I still followed Shelby Miller this past season.  There are a few Braves fans around in my circles and it was nice to see Shelby have a great season.  That being said I was hoping to add a nice copy of a Braves Shelby Miller card to my collection.

I found one, it came in the mail, and it sat in a pile of cards on the coffee table in my baseball card room.  There have been several of those stacks of cards floating around my house during the past few weeks....

There was this one.....

and this one........

and somewhere in one of those two pictures is this card of Shelby Miller......

I really liked the looks of this card.  I know that the Triple Threads cards are always different colors depending on the print run and other factors.  I really liked this bronze color that Topps used on the set this year.  Really great looking card with the usual Shelby Milller signature.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

2015 Snorting Bull Awards: Worst Baseball Card

Some days the Gods of Quality Control frown on the card markers.  Other times certain card companies make alarmingly terrible decisions.  I never really have to think too hard on this one.  Two years ago Topps put two players on a baseball cards in their Topps Update product that did not make it to the All-Star game.  Bard was in Triple A by the end of April and Wigginton was released at the beginning of July.  

Last year we had the Ron Gant Cardinals autograph and the Wade Boggs softball jersey from the All-Star game.  Softball jersey is a pretty self explanatory terrible card especially in a high end product like Dynasty.  Making a Ron Gant autograph in a Cardinals uniform, for those not familiar with their history together, would be akin to making a Jonathan Papelbon card in a Nationals jersey.  Maybe not quite that bad, but not far away.  

The winner this year?  I knew it the second I saw the card....

This card is just too terrible not to win.  This Craig Biggio 1/1 autograph comes out of the Topps Archives Signature product.  It's a per pack autograph of a Topps buyback card.  Some of the cards are really cool, most have a low serial number, and there are plenty of 1/1s.  I pulled one last weekend.  The set is actually a pretty cool concept.  Old Topps brand cards, not just Topps base set cards, signed and serial numbered.  Why on Earth is there a Donruss card in this product?

I guess there could have been a shortage of Biggio cards in the nickel bin at the card shows Topps bought back their cards.  It's possible it just got mixed into a stack somewhere along the line, or Craig Biggio thought it would be awesome to see if Topps was actually paying attention.  Whatever, it's just bad quality control.  Not cool Topps.

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Snorting Bull Awards: Worst Set of the Year

2015 Worst Set of the Year


I am not sure what exactly Panini did with Donruss this year, but it was an absolute train wreck.  So many places to start with this product.  The first thing the 2015 Donruss set had going against it was the 2014 Donruss Factory set.  Definitely negative momentum for this product heading into this year.... I know many collectors who worked on this product last year, but they were irked that Panini issued a factory set at the end of summer.  More than a few felt that their efforts in assembling the base set were tossed aside the moment that last year's Donruss factory set hit the shelves at stores.  Strike one.  

Second factor is that the design is horrendous.  The top and bottom baseball print is from the side of the 1987 Donruss set, but the lines on the side make the border really busy.  I have heard several collectors complain that Panini made the Donruss logo way too big in the top corner and I would probably have to agree with this point.  The early 1980s Donruss sets had a logo in the top corner, but it did not take up the entire corner.  

Lastly, there is the whole no license thing.  I have picked on this topic before, but I cannot stand airbrushing.  I do not like the airbrushing in products like Bowman Draft, which is used to add logos, nor the airbrushing in Panini products to remove logos.  Don't get wrong, some of Panini's designs would be great if they had logos, but with a poor product like Donruss the lack of logos really sets the product far below the bar.

I cannot really say that congratulations are in order for winning this award, but if you missed the Donruss set this year you did not miss much of anything.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It's Was Good Hak Ju

Taking a few minutes this evening for a quick post featuring one of my favorite Durham Bulls players.  Hak Ju Lee came over to the Rays organization in the Matt Garza trade.  Same trade that landed the Rays Chris Archer.  At the time of the trade Hak Ju Lee was a well regarded prospect, especially for his defense.  His run with the Durham Bulls started in 2013 when he started off the season batting .422.  I was an excited fan and rushed out trying to find as many of his card as possible.

He ended up blowing out his knee a month into the 2013 season and never seemed to find his offensive touch again in Durham.  I still spent the last three years enjoying his defensive play which is quite good.  Of course, I also still collected his cards.  They are just a little cheaper and more plentiful.  In fact, I recently picked up this gem from the 2013 Topps Heritage Minor League set.  It's a mini Bazooka card scanned huge.

Towards the end of the season the Rays outrighted Hak Ju Lee, but he cleared waivers and stayed with the Bulls.  However, this off season he became a Minor League free agent and signed with the San Francisco Giants.  I am sure that he's not going to replace Brandon Crawford, but I would love to see him get up to the Majors at some point.  Even if it's just for a cup of coffee.  Kudos to the SF Giants Update on Twitter for finding this cool picture announcing his signing......

Anyway, I know the Rays have a glut of shortstops and we will have someone good manning the position next summer in Durham.  It won't be Hak Ju Lee, but I hope he has a great year out west.  Maybe I can find a few Giants cards of him this summer.  It was good Hak Ju Lee, best of luck with the Giants.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Raleigh Card Show

I took a little bit of time out of my Sunday morning to walk around the card show at the State Fairground in Raleigh.  I've only made one other post on my blog about attending a card and that was a few months back.  So let's run through the card show rules one more time:

1. We always eat lunch/dinner before attending the card show
2. We have a cash budget and we stick to the budget
3. We never buy cards of the home team

Let's break down how I did on my rules:

1. We always eat lunch/dinner before attending the card show

Not this time.  I actually made my appearance at the card show on Sunday morning.  It's pretty hard to eat lunch/dinner before 10am on a weekend.  I guess we could have found a diner or something, but my son is a stickler for rule following and food.  In my son's mind decisions are broken down into two categories:  Red Choices and Green Choices.   Drink a smoothie for dinner, eat a slice of pizza for breakfast...all food fouls, and a clear red choice, in the eyes of my son.  We ate cereal and then went out to lunch after the card show.  Green choice.

We went to the Players Retreat in Raleigh across from the NC State Belltower.  It's a huge NC State hang out and they have some tasty burgers.  Although my assistant prefers the hot dog on the kids menu.  Green choice.  The PBR is cheap.  Red choice.

2. We have a cash budget and we stick to the budget

Are we being honest?  No.  See below.  Red Choice.  

3. We never buy cards of the home team

Here's where I ran off the tracks at this card show.  I came to the show planning on buying a nice card or two, perhaps a small box of something like Topps Tek or Topps Archives Signature.  I walked one row with my son when I ran across the parent of a former student.  I've run into him at other card shows, nice guy, and he had bought out a booth the day before.  Long story short, he had some really nice looking cards of local guys.  

First card I bought.....

Chris Archer is from Clayton, near Raleigh, and he played for the Durham Bulls.  The 3rd rule of card shows was shattered, but I ended up with a cool Tier One Black autograph serial numbered out of 10.  It's pretty hard to say no to a card like this.  Which brings me to the second card.....

Carlos Rodon is from Holly Springs, near Raleigh, and he pitched at NC State and for USA Baseball.  The 3rd rule of card shows was shattered again, but I ended up with this cool Carlos Rodon Bowman Inception card serial numbered out of 25.  Is that orange?  Leaning towards yes. 

Now that it's been established that the rules were completely broken for this card show I might as well show you the last card I ended up picking up.  I bought a box of Topps Archives Signatures.  Which is a per pack autograph box.  That's a huge no-no in my world.   More rules.  Here's the card....

It's an Andruw Jones (Local Connection: He played for the Durham Bulls), but it's also a 1/1.  It's also a Ginter.  On the negative it's Andruw Jones on the Dodgers.  

All in all I picked up three nice cards and shattered all of my card show rules and pack buying rules.  I am going to go find the video clip from the end of Cider House rules when Heavy D and Spiderman burn the workplace rules because they are stupid and watch it a few dozen times.  Perhaps the card show rules should be burned.....

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Venerable Old Card Part 2

I was working a little bit with my early 1980s cards earlier this week and ran across a cool card I thought I would use for this week's Venerable Old Card Post.  This would fit into the Cardinals part of my collection, but the card was taken pre-Cardinals.  Here's this week's card....

It was one of the first cards that I ran into while I was flipping through my stack of 1981 Donruss cards, which I know make up a complete set, but they still aren't quite sorted out.  For whatever reason, I do not really associate manager cards with Donruss.  However, the first year I really got into the Donruss cards was 1988 with the blue plaid set.  Before then, I would get a pack or two a summer.  Of course, I have filled in the earlier Donruss sets in more recent years.  I wasn't even collecting yet in 1981.  

Few things I like about the LaRussa card:

  • Is that a White Sox batting jersey from the early eighties?  

  • Tony retired in 2011 and I am not sure that his hair style changed at all in 30 years of managing.  Just a little bit of grey.  

  • Like almost every 1981 Donruss card the picture in this card was taken in Comiskey.  You can sort of make out the pinwheel fireworks things on the scoreboard. 

  • LaRussa is in the 1981 Topps set as the White Sox manager, but the managers in that set were in a tiny box on the top of the team card.  Makes me want to give this card the unofficial title of being the first manager card of the Hall of Famer.  

Finally Matuella

A quick post for your Sunday morning.  Hoping to post a little more this week than I did last week. 

Two years ago I had the opportunity to see Micahel Mattuella pitch a game for the Duke Blue Devils.  He was easily the best player on the field and I was excited to follow his college career.  Heading into his junior year, last year, many thought of him as a candidate to be the first overall pick by the Diamondbacks.  However, early in the year he was shut down and ended up having Tommy John surgery.  His stock dropped, but the Rangers ended up picking him in 3rd round of the draft last summer. 

Matuella will be making his first appearance in a Minor League game at some point this summer.  I am hopefully that he can bounce back from the Tommy John and be a serious prospect for the Rangers.  In the meantime, the talented former Blue Devil has started to pop up on some baseball cards.  One of the best parts of going to college baseball games is watching players, seeing them drafted, and then finding their cards a few years later. 

This is my first Matuella baseball card, but certainly will not be my last.  I am usually not into the Leaf cards, but some of their draft cards look nice in spite of the fact that the logos are airbrushed off of the uniforms.  I like this card with the giant North Carolina flag in the background.  Really nice card.  Hopefully I will have a few more Matuella autographs soon.  I have two other autographs of his on my radar, one with Duke, another with the Rangers. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015 Snorting Bull Awards: Best Prospect Set

I have already made one post for my annual Snorting Bull Baseball Card Awards which I have given out the last two years.  Aside from using categories I have already used in past years, I am also going to be presenting a few new awards this year.  This post, and the attached award for Best Prospect Set, were not given away last year.  As a fan of Minor League baseball I am excited to present this award.  

2015 Best Prospect Set 

Pro Debut 

There were a few different sets that I considered for this award, but I had to give this first time award to the Pro Debut product.  First, it showcases the players in their Minor League uniforms.  I like Bowman and always go out and put the set together, but it neat to see some of the prospects the way I, as a Minor League baseball enthusiast, see them.  Uniforms aren't the sole decider though.  I also like that the Pro Debut product uses action shots of the players and not action shots.  It's cool to see some of the Minor League parks as backdrops for the cards.  Lastly, I like that there is a diverse checklist in Pro Debut.  Some of the players in this set are just good average Minor League players.  Pretty cool to see some of them still get a baseball card.  The set also has autographs and parallels and all of those other things.   

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Venerable Old Card Part 1

Switching up the format on some of my posts starting this week.  I had been using #MyCardMonday to feature a card that was already in my collection.  I generally collect modern cards, but sometimes I like to get away from that just a little bit.  Those posts tended to focus on players from the last twenty years.   Have I ever really put anything older on here?  Not really.  So, I am going to change my Monday posts up to feature some older cards.  I am going to try to stick with cards that are at least 25 years old.  Here's the first edition.......

I became a Durham Bulls fan 10 years ago.  Over time I have evolved as a collector of the team.  At first, I collected the Durham Bulls players I saw in person.  I generally found their cards in Bowman products, but also could find them in Topps and Upper Deck sets the longer they stayed in the Majors.  I also collected the team sets that the team sold in the store.  Every year I would buy one.  I have even found older Bulls teams sets for sale in the team's store.  My latest undertaking is to find cards of the team from the 1980s and 1990s.  

Sometimes I can find the older sets, but other times I have to settle for the single cards.  Recently I ended up with a 1981 TCMA Brad Komminsk card.  Some collectors may remember Komminsk as a fourth outfielder type who bounced around the Majors in the 1980s.  He mainly played for the Braves, but made appearance with a few other teams as well.  

So, what's the deal the Komminsk card?  He actually put together one of the better seasons in the history of the Durham Bulls in 1981.  His .322/.458/.606 line with 33 homers, 27 doubles, and 35 steals made Komminsk the easy choice for the Carolina League MVP that year.  I am not sure there have been many seasons, in the long history of the Durham Bulls, that have been as good as Komminsk's 1981 year.  While the card was cheap, and many might not associate the words Brad Komminsk and good player together, he was a great player for one summer in the minors.   

Saturday, December 5, 2015

High Tek Gar

I always like the Topps Tek cards.  The older sets in the late 1990s and early 2000s were fun products.  It relaunched last year, but the format changed a little bit.  There are still acetate cards and all kinds of patterns, but there are also autographs in the product now.  My main problem with the new version of Topps Tek is the fact that the cards are a per pack autograph product now.  

I am not usually into the autograph per pack products.  Especially when there are loads of $5 autographs in the product.  Not that there is anything wrong with some of the $5 autographs.  Last year I just picked up a lot of singles.  This year, same thing.  There is a nice little stack of autographs from this set that has popped up on my office desk.  Here's my first.....

This was a pretty inexpensive autograph considering the guy should probably be in the Hall of Fame.  I have an Edgar Martinez autograph or two, but I liked the looks of this card.  Good 1990s design with a great player on the front.  More Topps Tek cards to come....

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

2015 Snorting Bull Awards: Best Base Set

2015 Base Set of the Year

Stadium Club 

I dedicated several posts this summer to just the base cards in this set.  There were so many great photographs in this product.  When Stadium Club first dropped in the early 1990s it was noted for its great pictures.  Topps had tried to relaunch this product in 2008 and then again last year.  Stadium Club was a tremendous product last year and the staff at Topps did a great job again this year.  I have reluctantly boxed this set up and put it in my closet of cards, but there are still days when I break it out and flip through the cards.  There are Hall of Famers, fan favorites, and just really unique photographs.  It's just a great set and an easy choice as the repeat winner for my Base Set of the Year.. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Crazy Tier One

I have a lot of catching up to do on my 2015 autograph posts.  As the summer ended, and we are just a few weeks away from officially starting winter, I really need to catch up on my cards.  Here's part of the stack that I found this last week which still needs to be posted......

Sorry, that is the only Andruw Jones card in this blog post.

One of the things that I have been looking for in the cards that I have been buying and trading for this year is a few new names.  I seems as if some of the card manufacturers have been in a rut with the same players appearing time and time again in autograph sets.  Well, there are a few new signers here and there, just need to find them.  I thought that this card was a pretty cool add to the collection....

Not very expensive either, but Rob Dibble was one of the great personalities in baseball during the early part of the 1990s with the Cincinnati Reds.  Dibble combined with Norm Charlton and Randy Myers to form "The Nasty Boys".  The three players were great at closing out games for the Reds, but they also caused a few melees around baseball.  Dibble was kind of the ring leader of the crazy with the three relief pitchers.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Cheap Call Up

I generally avoid shopping at the Topps Online store, but collectors can buy boxes and single cards there.  One of their "online exclusives" featured a set of 5x7 cards of players who were recently called up to the Majors.  The set is called the "Call Up Series".  The basic cards, which are serial numbered out of 99, cost collectors a mere $29.99 each through the store.  I did not buy one.  

However, I have been after the Stephen Piscotty card in the set, but I did not really feel like paying almost $30 for the card.  I watched and watched, finally one came up on Ebay that cost me just over $5.  Here's a look at the card......

The cards in the Call Up Series are based on the design of the 1952 Topps set.  The serial number on the card is in the lower left hand corner of the card.  Kind of small and hard to read.  Here's a look at the back of the card.....

Not a great back, nothing special happening on the backs of the cards.  Overall, I like the cards.  Topps already had one product this year that was based on the 1951 set, so it seems like a little repetitive to make another set off of the 1952 set.  Hmm.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015


I had the opportunity to do a little bit of volunteer work over the Thanksgiving holiday by helping out an older friend from my days in Durham.  The friend helps out around a community thrift store that donates its profits to charity.  The shop had a big lot of sports cards, programs and score cards, and memorabilia that was donated and they needed a little help making heads and tails out of what they had in their store.  

They had a few cool things that will help out the Thrift Store after they auction off the items, but they also had a few things that were inexpensive and cool for me as a baseball card collector.  I ended up with a few junk wax era boxes.  I will do a post on a few of them over the next few weeks, but for this week's #MyCardMonday I wanted to share out one cool card that I pulled out of a 1993 Flair box I bought from the store.

Here's my new card......

I was excited to pull this out of my box of cards.  Edmonds has several rookie cards in 1993 products, but I always really liked this card.  Way back in 1993 I did not open any packs, or boxes, of this product.  Years later I ran into one somewhere because I have a ton of these cards floating around in my boxes.  I also have a single copy of this Edmonds, but I bought that from a card shop in St. Louis after he was traded to the Cardinals.

I have never had the joy of pulling a cool Jim Edmonds rookie and being excited about the card.  Yes, back in 1993 I pulled a few Edmonds rookie cards, but he was just some guy on the Angels.  Very nice card and I am happy to give it a good home.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

End of the Weekend Post

Way back last Tuesday I had a stack of cards I needed to scan in order to start planning out some posts for the next few weeks.  There have been way too many 2015 cards enter my collection and sit on my desk.  Not really go anywhere or doing anything.  After thinking a nice long holiday weekend would help resolve the matter I am sitting here on Saturday night and I am feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fact that I have done almost nothing.

I posted a cool new Mark McGwire card from a Panini USA Baseball set last night, so I am going to stick with that same theme this evening.  I picked these three USA Baseball cards up awhile back, so this help clear a little bit of the backlog.  First up.....

Lucas Sims is pitching in the Braves organization.  I saw him pitch last summer for the Carolina Mudcats during my baseball tour and was really impressed.  Not a really great outcome for the Mudcats considering they lost badly to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, but it was not really Sims fault that the team lost the game.  He has a few other autographs out there, but I really liked the looks of this jersey/autograph combo from the Stars & Stripes product.

How many times has Chris Okey played for USA Baseball?  I feel like I run into him every summer, or perhaps it's just the fact that I also see him when he plays for Clemson.  Either way, I like Okey and enjoy watching him play.  Is he a senior this year?  I think so which means he will likely be drafted by a team that I watch locally.  Okey appears frequently in games I watch now, I expect little will change once he is drafted.

and Thomas Echelman is here because I saw him pitch a few times over the years too.  Not in the same games as Chris Okey.  Okey goes to Clemson, Eshelman went to Cal-State Fullerton.  Nevertheless, he always seemed to pitch every time I watched a USA Baseball game two summers ago.  He is in the lower levels of the Astros Minor League system at the moment.