Sunday, December 31, 2017

Collecting In 2018

I am not going to make collecting goal per se, but I am going to go ahead and sketch out a few things that I hope to do with my collection during the next year.  I'd like to think of it as more a change in direction than anything else.  Goals have numbers and quantity, at least in my world view they do, and I do not want to commit myself to those sorts of things.

1.  Fewer Sets 

I made exactly one post on the Topps base set this year and that was back in February.  I did not even open a box of Series 2 or Update.  Pack or two for fun, yes, but that was it for the Topps base set.  I haven't gone out and tried to piece together lots to assemble the set.  I am really not sure I am going to ever finish this year's Topps set.

In fact, I feel like I barely touched current year sets during 2017.  I dabbled with Allen & Ginter, a little Topps Heritage, and Stadium Club, but the majority of my efforts, that was spent on sets, went into Minor League products.  Those are also the players that I get to watch in person.

Next year I am not going to touch the Topps set.  I will end up with the Cardinals and Durham Bulls players who have cards in the set, but that's it.  Single cards.  If at some point down the road I end up regretting the decision, it's not like it's really all that hard to find Topps sets, nor are they really expensive to buy as a complete set on Ebay.

I started collecting cards when I was 6 and have put together a Topps set every year for the past 33 years.  It feels a little weird to skip by this set, but times have changed.  My card closet is full, my desire is low, and it's just simply time to move on to other things. 

2.  More Single Cards 

I had a great time this year trying to pick up single cards of different players that I follow, or followed if they are retired.  Opening boxes can be a pricey proposition, especially when my interest in assembling sets has really declined, so I spent a lot of time this year chasing down single cards.  I had a good time doing it and I felt like it was a better use of the time and money that I spent on baseball cards.

Topps had some really nice former Cardinals players in some of their products, not to mention the usually assortment of current players.  I was really happy with some of the single cards I was able to pick up this year.......

I feel like I did better this year with finding meaningful, nice looking, that were good additions to my collection while I was focused on single cards over trying to assemble sets.  It was a good trade off this year and I see it continuing to be that way into the future.  It's not just autographed cards either, I found plenty of non-autographed cards too.  This was one of my latest....

single cards that I added.  While I am not collecting sets, it's still nice to look at the single base Rays/Durham Bulls and Cardinals cards.  Plus, buying/trading for the base single cards off of a Facebook group, Sports Cards lot, and COMC is really cheap and the cards are fun to look at once they show up in the mail.   I have essentially already done the whole single cards thing for the past year, but just never made any sort of announcement or post about the fact that I was bailing on sets.  

3.  More Projects 

In the past year and a half I posted very few projects.  I started out really strong, but I sort of fizzled out on that tab at the top of the page.  I recently gave a little update on the state of the projects that are currently up on that page.  One of my completed projects......

This is actually what I want to do instead of putting together new sets.  I have 30 some years worth of cards, and while there are many sets within that time frame that are complete, there are also many sets in my card closet which are not finished.  I just need to find a good way to make sure that they get updated in posts every once in awhile.  During the past year I have halved my posts from 300 something to 150 something, or three posts a week.  I like that number moving forward, I can probably go a little higher since I have some longer breaks from work at times, but I am never going back to 300 again.  My goal is to do at least two project posts a month.  I know that's a low bar, but it's where I am going at this point. 

I have the first project post drafted and ready to roll out next week.  

4.  Durham Bulls and Cardinals Cards 

I have been writing a 1990s Cardinals card almost every Monday for the majority of 2016 in my "I Love The 1990s Cardinals" posts.  I believe that I started the posts in the spring.  It narrowed my focus down a little bit, I was just writing 1980s and 1990s cards before in my "Venerable Old Card" posts, but half of those just ended up being Cardinals cards anyway.

There are literally hundreds of these posts I could do about the 1990s Cardinals players, so I should be set for awhile on writing materials.  Plus, it's fun to look back through some of the 1990s sets to pick out the cards.  One of my favorites was finding the Topps TV set which was featured on the Whitey Herzog post.....

I have some other really nice 1990s Cardinals cards from this set which are going to be coming up in the next few weeks.  This is one of my favorite products that I have revisited with my 1990s Cardinals posts.

I have also enjoyed making my Durham Bulls posts, which are more random in occurrence, but are a nice mix of cards that are currently in my collection and cards that I find looking around on COMC and Ebay.  My favorite card that I have found so far has been my Ace Parker autograph.....

which was one of the bigger names that has appeared for the Durham Bulls.  Since he's not really known for his time playing and managing in professional baseball, he's in the NFL Hall of Fame, it was hard to figure out which football card to add to my collection.  Some of the other cards that are already in my collection are fun to go back and look back on, remember that they are there, and how it ended up in my collection.

 In conclusion....

  • I hope that 2018 is another fun year for collecting.  Above meeting any goals, or setting out to achieve different improvements to my collection, I want to continue to enjoy this hobby.  
  • I have had a great time collecting single cards during the past year and am looking forward to spending a second year focusing on cards of players that I love/loved to watch play, and picking up some cards from my favorite teams.   
  • I thank everyone who stops by here and reads my thoughts on cards and collecting.  I'm glad there are people around who also enjoy collecting cards. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Friday Five: My Five Favorite Autographed Longoria Cards

I was sort of expecting the Rays might trade away long-time third baseman Evan Longoria this offseason, but it was still rough actually seeing it happen last Wednesday.  I started following his career after he made an appearance with the Durham Bulls towards the end of the 2007 season.  Longoria is easily the best player to have ever donned the Rays uniform and provided some of the best moments in franchise history.  

He helped the Rays make their only World Series appearance in 2008 by hitting 6 home runs during the American League Division and Championship Series against the White Sox and Red Sox.  My personal favorite moment was his walk off home run on the last day of the 2011 season which put the Rays into the playoffs that year

I have had a good time collecting Longoria's baseball cards over years.  There are plenty of nice ones out there, so for this post I am going to stick with a few autographed cards which I have enjoyed having in my collection.  Maybe next week I can do another post with the great non-autographed Longoria cards in my collection.  

Honorable Mention:  2013 Topps Tier One Autograph/Patch

I have a few Tier One autographs from a few different years.  Longoria has appeared in the product in some way every year that Topps has put out the product since 2011.  Most years the autographs are on-card, which is one reason why I usually like to pick up an autograph or two out of that product every year.  I really like the design of the 2013 Tier One autograph below, but I cannot put it in my top 5 based on the fact that the card is a sticker autograph.  I love the patch piece, I love the picture, I love the design, but I am bothered by the sticker.  Small thing, but this was a tough list to get down to five.  If I made a list of my favorite sticker autographs of Longoria, this card would be first.  

5.  2014 Topps Tribute 

Tribute is another product that has been a mix of sticker and on-card autographs over the years, sometimes even within a year.  Most of the relic cards from this set that have autographs are stickers.  I have a few different autographs out of Tribute, but this simple autographed card is my favorite of the group.  I like the finishes and design of the card.  It has a nice glossy front and a little bit thicker card stock.  Tribute is also one of those products that has all sorts of different colored parallels, some of them can look a little goofy at times.  I like that this card is low key in background color.

4.  2016 Topps The Mint 

The Mint was one of those ridiculously priced products that was something along the lines of a four digit number for a box.  There were several autographs that I looked into picking up from The Mint, but I was happy that the cards ended up being reasonable in price after a few weeks of the cards sitting on Ebay.  I love the darker background and the on-card autograph.  I sort of wish that the autograph was signed in a different color ink, gold or silver would have been a good look, but the blue still is nice on this card. 

3.  2017 Topps Five Star Autograph/Patch 

This is a recent addition and there is a recent blog post about this card.  Bascially, I have really slowed down on the whole relic card scene.  I don't go after them, I don't trade for them, I don't spend money on them.  I even feel sort of in different when I land one in a pack of cards.  However, this card is something a little different.  I like the jumbo patch which is from the nameplate of Longoria's jersey.  Very nice card that filled a void in my collection of Longoria cards. 

2.  2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Evan Longoria Autograph 

Not the flashiest card.  There is no foil or fancy card stock.  Allen & Ginter is one of my favorite products every year and I really like the framed autographed cards.  Longoria has other Allen & Ginter autograph that are fancy with jersey pieces.  He also has another framed Ginter autograph, but this is my favorite one in my collection.  

1.  2008 Topps Chrome Red Hot Rookies Autograph

I really love the 2008 Topps set.  The little circles at the top are a neat design element that make these cards unique and easy to recognize.   There are always autographed rookie cards in the Topps Chrome set, but the Red Hot Rookies set was actually a redemption in this product.  Not sure when Topps started these cards, or if/when they stopped.  I really hate redemption cards, so this was an early Longoria rookie that was a more recent addition to my collection.   Well worth the wait though, this is my favorite Evan Longoria card.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Iron Wolf

There are not many reasons that I stray from baseball cards, but most have to do with collecting cards of some of my favorite athletes from NC State.  I have posted roughly a dozen different basketball cards of former Wolfpack players over the last few years, but I have barely touched football.  I like the football team, but I just haven't found a lot of reasons to spend the time or money to find a card that I want in my collection.
If there is one former NC State player I would want a football card of, it would have to be.....

Unfortunately, Brissett was drafted by the Patriots, who are apparently to football cards what the Yankees are to baseball cards.  When Brissett got drafted, he was the third string quarterback, his card prices were a little bit more than what I was willing to spend on a non-baseball card.  
Brady got suspended, Garoppolo got hurt, Brissett played in games.  Card prices didn't come down.  Brissett was on television a bunch before the Super Bowl with Brady's Wolfpack Instagram post and Brissett's Wolfpack shirt.  

Card prices.  Nope. 

Hope finally arrived at the beginning of the season when the Patriots traded Brissett to the Colts.  Jacoby has played well with the Colts, but apparently they are more in line with the Reds or Brewers comparing NFL and MLB teams.  The prices of Brissett cards, now a starting quarterback, some how became a lot more affordable and........

I picked up a Brissett autograph.  I am not a huge fan of Panini, but I do love the fact that they have a license to make NCAA sports cards.  Really nice to see Jacoby in an NC State uniform, instead of a Patriots or Colts.  If I could change one thing about this card it would have to be the jersey swatch. 

My Wolfpack usually dabble with alternate uniforms once a year.  I have to admit that many of them have not been very good.  Most Adidas schools fit into that category though. One of the more egregious alternate uniforms were State's "Iron Wolf" entry.  

Here's the uniform.  The patch piece on the Brissett card matches this uniform. 

We've got a camouflage helmet with some sort of barbed wire design around the top of the jersey.  I think there are some tear marks or something on the side of the sleeve.  So let's start off with the obvious:  They are really busy uniforms.  There are about three to four different style and design elements happening.  Let's also throw in the fact that NC State is the ag school in the North Carolina and the perceived fan base of the school is, how shall we say, rural. 

At least the Pack won the game, while Brissett was in school, when they wore the "Iron Wolf" uniforms. 

Yes, they wore them again in 2016.  Sigh. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 17- Royce Clayton

It's pretty hard to be a professional baseball player.  It's really hard when you have to replace a legendary player.  It's even tougher when you have to replace a legendary player because they are retiring after they had a fight with the team's manager.  The Cardinals traded for Royce Clayton from the Giants before the 1996 season.  Ozzie Smith was at the end of his career and newly hired Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa was unwilling to keep Ozzie as a starter.  By the end of his career Ozzie could barely throw the ball across the infield and did not hit much at all. 

Ozzie announced his intention to retire early in the 1996 season.  It turned the 1996 into a big farewell tour of sorts for The Wizard.  

Meanwhile, Clayton got the majority of playing time for the Cardinals at shortstop.  The team won its first division title since 1987 and the shortstop contributed solid defense and batted lead off for the Cardinals.  Clayton also played well for the team in the Postseason against the Padres and Braves.  He batted over .300 in both the National League Division and Championship Series with 9 hits and scored 5 runs.  

Clayton had a decent 1997 season with the Cardinals, played part of the 1998 season for the team, but he was traded halfway through the season to the Rangers, along with Todd Stottlemyre, for Darren Oliver and Fernando Tatis.  Clayton was a free agent to be and the Cardinals seemed ready to move on.  They would end up trading for Edgar Renteria that offseason. 

Clayton would play a total of 17 years making appearances for the Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Reds, Blue Jays, and Red Sox.  

His most important baseball role was actually played after his retirement in the movie Moneyball.  Clayton played the role of A's shortstop Miguel Tejada.  

As far as baseball cards go there are some limitations to the number of Clayton cards in a Cardinals uniform.  First, he was only on the team for two and a half years.  Limited time, limited cards.  Second, Clayton was not a star player, and while he replaced a legendary player, card companies did not rush to throw him into a bunch of extra sets. 

My favorite Clayton card is his 1997 Topps card.  It's got a nice action shot of him jumping over Giants outfielder Mark Carreon in Candlestick Park.  Over the years, I am only posting my favorite Cardinals Topps card of Clayton, he's actually had some really nice base cards.  Does Topps even put action shots like this in their sets anymore?  Doubtful. 

The 1997 Topps set is not their best effort, but as a Cardinals fan the set gets some high marks for player selection.  The Cardinals turned over a lot of their roster in 1996, but since Topps did not have a Traded/Update set that year, most of the new players did not make their base set debut until the 1997 set.  That included Clayton, Ron Gant, Dennis Eckersley, and Andy Benes.  While it's not quite Clayton's first Cardinals card, it's his first in a major base set. 

Clayton did make a few really good sets too. 

One of my favorites is his 1997 Flair Showcase card.  Definitely a nice product from that era with nice card stock and good finishes on the card.  I like the contrast of the black and white background picture with the color action shot in the front.  I like the white Cardinals uniforms, but I also really enjoyed the blue batting practice jerseys from the late 1990s.  The Cardinals no longer wear them.  In some ways I sort of wish the color and black and white pictures were switched around.

A song from 1997 off my IPod.

Friday, December 22, 2017

About Those Projects....

Yeah, I made some promise about finding specific cards from specific sets.  I made a tab at the top of my blog where I was supposed to track the projects and report on my progress.  That hasn't happened for a few reasons.

1.  I am writing about half of the posts that I have made in previous years

2.  A limited amount of posts means that I really have to think about which cards are deserving of a post versus what cards are not deserving of a post.

3.  Picking up a single card from a set I am trying to finish is not always exciting.

I know there are very good ways to solve these problems and I am planning on addressing them in a post sometime next week.  So, here is a quick update on where my set projects are versus what the little tab up at the top of my blog says......

1.  1999 Molten Metal Xplosion 

It's done.  It took forever to get a copy of the Pedro Martinez card that was ridiculously expensive because that card is ridiculously difficult to find.

The box that this set is in weighs more than any other set in my collection.  At least it seems that way.  I should take it to the Post Office and stick it on the scale.  It would be fun.  

2.  1999 Topps Gallery Heritage 

Done too.  These cards deserve their own post.  It doesn't even have to have words, these are just really nice cards.  

3.  2002 Bowman Futures Game Autographs 

I have had the opportunity to finish this set, but I am being a bit picky about the cards.  The surfaces of the card are glossy and the autographs tend to smudge off.  For example, I already had a copy of the Ryan Ludwick autograph.  I bought it long ago when he was on the Cardinals.  The autograph is basically gone.

I found a fairly clean copy for my set....

There are a couple of imperfections there.  If I find a really clean version I might trade up again, but I am not really sure I am going to do much better than this copy.  Mint seems to be a pipe dream with this set.

My latest card from this set is a Dennis Tankersley.....

He is a St. Louis native who never quite turned out the way he was supposed to turn out.  Again, I have seen a lot of copies of this card, they are not expensive, but I waited until I was able to find a decent copy.  I went with this card.

In conclusion, I have not finished the Bowman Futures Autograph set.  It has nothing to do with time or effort and everything to do with being picky.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Project Durahm Bulls #26- Carl Crawford

2002 Durham Bulls 

The Durham Bulls have been successful throughout their tenure as the Triple A team for the Tampa Bay Rays/Devil Rays.  The 2002 squad was the second Bulls team to win a division championship in Triple A, but the first team to take home the league crown.  The team's star players included Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Aubrey Huff, current manager Jared Sandberg, and Toby Hall.  Carl Crawford only appeared in 87 games that season for the Bulls before he was promoted to Tampa where he closed out the season.  He had 7 home runs, 9 triples, and 17 doubles during that half season stint with a .297/.335/.456 line.  Crawford would go on to play 15 seasons in the Majors with the Rays, Red Sox, and Dodgers.

While playing for the Rays, Crawford led the American League in triples and stolen bases four times, made the American League All-Star team four times, won the All-Star Game MVP in 2009 after making a game saving catch....

on what would have been a home run by Rockies first baseman Todd Helton.  

I always felt like Crawford took a lot of unnecessary criticism during the second half of his career.  He left the Rays for the Red Sox after the 2010 season for a 7 years and 142 million dollars.  He played what amounts to a season and a half in Boston.  One season was definitely subpar, the second was filled with injuries.  The Red Sox eventually dumped him on the Dodgers where he played a few more partial seasons before he was released.  Can't really blame Crawford for taking a large contract offer, or slowing down because of injuries.  

The Traded/Update set disappeared for awhile in the mid to late 1990s.  Topps skipped the set in 1996, 1997, and 1998.  After a three year hiatus we got the 1999 Topps Traded set which was sold as a complete set with one autographed card per box.  There were some nice names in the product including Carl Crawford, C.C. Cabathia, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, and Mark Mulder.  The autographs on these cards weren't Crawford's best signature, but he was just removed from high school when he signed these cards.  He actually ended up with a pretty decent signature by the time his career wound down.  

At the time of the sets release, and throughout the early 2000s, the autographs of the successful players in this set had good value.  Most of the autographs of the players listed above, including Crawford, are very affordable at this point.  If you are not a huge autograph collector, but like these cards there was also a Chrome version of this set.  There were no autographs in that version of the 1999 Topps Traded set.  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 16- Tracy Woodson

I get to write about two of my favorite teams in one post.  Tracy Woodson appeared in about 90 games for the Cardinals during the 1992 and 1993 seasons.  In his Major League career, he actually only played in about 200 games over parts of 5 seasons with the Dodgers and Cardinals.  Woodson's best season as a professional player came in 1992 with the Cardinals when he posted a .307/.331/.404 slash line with 1 home run, and 22 RBIs in 31 games.  More importantly, Woodson was on the 1988 Dodgers team that won the World Series.  He took four at bats during the Fall Classic against the A's.
He has a prominent place in the final out dog pile.

While Woodson's season ended with him being on a World Series winning team, he was also the final out in a perfect game that season against the Reds and pitcher Tom Browning.  He struck out to become the 27th out.  

Before Woodson played with the Dodgers and Cardinals he was actually a very good college baseball player at NC State.  In fact, he's in the school's Hall of Fame and was the ACC Player of the Year in 1984.  He's got a plaque and everything.......

Since retiring from professional baseball Woodson has worked as a Minor League manager and a college baseball coach at Richmond and Valparaiso.  He last worked at Richmond in 2015 and has not coached since.

On to the baseball card portion of our post.  There are not many Woodson cards in a Cardinals uniform, so you are just getting two.  That's all I have.

First up....

We've got a 1993 Topps card.  Tracy is looking a little out of shape in this picture and he's got a mullet going too.  It's an interesting look.  I got nothing else here.

A 1993 Upper Deck, but the card was released late in the year, so the picture is probably from Spring Training that year.  First, the green St. Patty's Day hat is always an awesome look.  Tracy's mullet is looking a little bit longer in this photo too.  The Cardinals had several first base-third base types on their team in 1993 including: Todd Zeile, Rod Brewer, Stan Royer, and Gerald Perry.  The list doesn't include Gregg Jefferies who started at 1B that year for the Cardinals and hit /342/.408/.485.

Woodson is also wearing number 54.  The Dodgers gave him 7 and 21.  Never a great sign that you are sticking around for long when you're a position player with an offensive lineman's uniform number.

Woodson did make it to the end of the year with the Cardinals before they released him.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Whole Pack of Sox

We are now three years into the White Sox career of Carlos Rodon.  I really like Carlos, so I am not going to sit here and waive the white flag on his career, or suggest that he's going to be remembered as some huge draft flop.  There are a lot of positives about him in spite of whatever his win-loss record has been with the White Sox.  

Besides, I just think back to his time pitching at NC State and enjoy every card of his that I can get my hands on.  Locally he will always be remember as a great college pitcher who helped, along with Trea Turner, get the Wolfpack to the College World Series.  

He's only been out of college a few years and he already has a bunch of items in the NC State Hall of Fame.....

Which brings me to a few new baseball cards.  I picked up one new 2017 autograph of Rodon along with two 2016 cards that I did not own before last week.  Brand new card first....

This is out of the Gallery set.  I don't think there are as nice as the late 1990s/early 2000s version of this set, but I hold those sets on a pretty lofty pedestal, so perhaps I am setting the bar too high for these cards.  I haven't picked up any packs of these cards, my local Wal-Mart is a complete disaster for baseball cards.  It was a retail exclusive to that store.  It's a nice enough looking card though, even if the autograph is a sticker, it's not immediately noticeable on this card.  

I feel like I am getting picky about these colored parallel cards as I get older.  A green White Sox card?  I feel like this card is some sort of commemoration of the St. Patty's Day Spring Training Games where the teams don green uniforms.  

I am okay with this for the moment, but I am seriously considering just buying/trading for parallel colors that actually look good.  Purple Cardinals cards?  No.  Green Rays cards?  No.  I could go on, you get the point.  

Last one.  The Topps base set autographs usually have enormous print runs, and if you can hold out ten minutes after they are released, you can usually find many of them for next to nothing.  Honestly, I actually really like the looks of these autographs out of the 2016 Topps base set.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Finally A Fowler

It's been just over a year since the Cardinals signed free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler away from the Chicago Cubs.  The entire 2017 season has been played and I have written exactly zero posts about last seasons biggest offseason addition for the Cardinals.  Yes, I opened some packs of cards and there were Fowler cards in a Cardinals uniform in some of those packs.  I posted none of them.

In fact, I haven't even posted the good Cubs cards I have of Fowler.  Here's a quick rundown....

and that's everything.  It's a single card, but it's a really nice.  Most of the autographed cards out of Triple Threads are nice and collection worthy in my book.  I really like the 'Take A Walk" on this card.  While many baseball fans might best remember Fowler for his leadoff home run in the first inning of the seventh game in the 2016 World Series

 he is actually best known for working the count and getting on base.  Great card.

So naturally I needed to find something similar, but in a Cardinals uniform.  I had several different options and I honestly did not end up with my first choice.  So, here is my first nice Dexter Fowler card in a Cardinals uniform.....

Like the Cubs card at the top of the post, this Cardinals card is out of the Triple Threads set.  No cool message about Fowler's style of play, but just an oval shaped piece of jersey.  That gold background is a little bit over the top, but there are other versions of this card with green backgrounds.  I felt like I was choosing between a card with a Christmas themed background or opulent mansion of a dictator.  I guess I went with dictator's mansion.  I promise that I will do better with a follow up Fowler post with a little bit better, less gaudy, baseball card.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

High Tek Minor Leaguers

A really quick post about some Minor League cards.  I was initially worried earlier this year when I saw that there was a Bowman TEK product on the card release calendar, but no Topps TEK.  Luckily, Topps still managed to put out the regular set, which meant that after taking care of finding a couple cards out of it, I could move on and check out the Minor League version of one of my favorites.  

There are some Rays/Durham Bulls and Cardinals players in the set, some of them even have a few autographs.  I decided to go a little bit different route for my first Bowman TEK cards, but still knocked a card out from one of my favorite teams.

The first card I picked up is actually a player I saw while he was in college.  

A.J. Puk was one of the better college pitchers a few years ago while he was at the University of Florida.  He spent a summer pitching locally in central North Carolina with the USA Baseball team.  I managed to see him pitch a combined no hitter with Tanner Houck (Missouri/Red Sox) and Ryan Hendrix (Texas A&M/Reds).  Makes him an automatic favorite.  

I have a few other nice Puk cards that I have picked up the last two years.  This TEK card was something a little different.  Puk has always had a really simple signature and I like that he signed his cards in a spot away from the pattern.  

I know that there are a bunch of different patterns on the TEK cards, but I didn't even worry about that when I bought this card.  Just picked one I liked and went with it.  The overall design of the set is nice.  My only complaint would be the card backs.....

Seriously, why even bother with a stat line?  It is barely readable.  

Next card is a Cardinals player.....

just not on this card.  

The team picked up Tyler O'Neill last summer in a trade with the Mariners for pitcher Marco Gonzales.  The Cardinals do have a ton of outfielders, but they do not have a ton of power hitters which is what O'Neill should bring them.  

I posted a few O'Neill cards this summer after the trade.  Still waiting for a Cardinals card of this prospect, maybe soon, but until then I am willing to take on some more Mariners cards.  I kind of dig the picture of him on the card.  These don't have the standard backgrounds, but he looks like he's taking a big swing.  

The back of the card is the same as Puk's with the tiny stat line....

but the background silhouette is a little bit clearer on this card.  It's a common design element on the TEK cards, but it does not show up very well on the Puk card.  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Half An N, Sliver of An O

Five Star is one of those products that I won't touch while it is sitting in a pack on a shelf in a card store.  I would likely spend the $125-$140 for a one box, with two autographs, and pull something along the lines of a Terry Pendleton autograph.

I paid something like $10 for this card and I love it.  I would just be irked if I spent that much on a box of cards and pulled something like this fabulous card of the former Cardinals and Braves third baseman.  So, I let other people go ahead and open the packs of Five Star.  I just sit here in my office and watch the listings on Ebay.

I am willing to spend for some nice autographs out of this product.  I still really like the original set from 2012.  This is one of my favorite cards that I picked up that year......

So much to love about this card.

I know that the Cabrera card is a relic/autograph card, but I have really gone away from the relic cards in the past two years.  I just really care about the autographs.  I usually try to pick up two-three Five Star cards every year:  one Cardinals player, one Durham Bulls, and one just generic good player.

I have already picked up a Mark McGwire Five Star card this year, so that might count as my Cardinals card for this year.  It was not a current year card, put out in 2014.  I am not sure I really feel the need to pick up another Matt Carpenter or Aledmys Diaz autograph.  Diaz was actually just traded to the Blue Jays

So this is likely it.....

unless I can find a cool Alex Reyes.  I have no desire to touch another Grichuk Cardinals card, let alone spend time money, or trade other cards to get one of his autographs.

So, that really left me with a Durham Bulls player to track down.  In the past I have found some nice cards of Blake Snell, Andruw Jones, and Evan Longoria.  Again, I usually avoid relic cards, but my favorite Durham Bulls Five Star card that I own is a Longoria booklet that I picked up out of the original 2012 set.

I hate scanning booklets.

There are usually some nice relic cards in the Five Star product, but they often carry some exorbitant premium that goes beyond the point of making them a worthwhile purchase when compared to the price of a base autograph card.

With that being said, I am not against the idea of still collecting relic cards.  Which brings me to my Durham Bulls card out of Five Star for this year.....

I actually found someone who had pulled this card on Twitter and was going to post it on Ebay.  Always a good way to find cards.  The seller doesn't have to mess with listing fees, I don't have to mess with sitting there at the end of the auction hoping not to get sniped.  

Not sure that I love the green tint on the outside edges of the bottom portion of the card, but the top half with Longoria's picture and signature is solid.  I know the 50/50 serial number is one of those Ebay 1/1 things, but I am rather in different to that.  Sometimes a player's jersey number can be cool.  

The patch piece on the right side is from the N on his name plate, with the left-side relic being the bottom portion of the O.  After scanning the completed auctions on Ebay it looks like Topps only used the name plates off of Longoria's jersey for the relics in Five Star.  Some of the relics are blue with white letters, the rest are white with blue letters.  The premium patch pieces, low serial numbers, are the MLB logo from the neck line.  

I am fine with my Half an N and a sliver of an O.  Makes for a nice card and I didn't pay an arm and a leg for it.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #25 - Ace Parker

1949-1952 Durham Bulls 

Parker appeared for the Durham Bulls as a player/manager starting in 1949.  His work with the Durham Bulls was sort of a second career, or maybe a third depending on how you are counting his previous work.  Parker's athletic career at Duke University was a huge success.  He played football, baseball, and basketball while he was in college.  Ace Parker's best sport was football.  In 1935 he was an All-American running back and was a consensus winner for that prestigious award in 1936.  Parker also finished 6th that year in the Heisman voting.  

Parker ended up playing two sports professionally.  In 1937 he signed with the Philadelphia A's who literally played him all over the field.  He played all of the infield spots, save for 1B, and also played in the outfield.  He last appeared in the Majors in 1938, but played in the Minors until 1941 before taking a break.  Ace had a .179 batting average after playing parts of two seasons with the A's.  

Meanwhile, Parker also started playing in the NFL in 1937 after he was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The only other quarterback drafted ahead of Parker was Sammy Baugh.  In 1938, he was an All-Pro selection and lead the NFL in passing.  By 1940, he was one of the premier players in the league and was awarded the MVP Award.  Parker left the NFL in 1942 for the war.  He did play when he returned, but never attained the same level of performance as he did pre-World War 2.  

Parker started his managing career with his hometown team, the Portsmouth Cubs, in 1948.  The following season he took over for the Bulls.  He occasionally appeared in games as a player, but mostly managed the team.  Parker's overall record as the manager of the Bulls 303-266 and he took home the Piedmont League Manager of the Year award in 1949 and 1951.  Following the 1952 season he was hired by Duke to coach their baseball team, a job he held until 1966.  Parker's teams won 1 Southern Conference title, 3 ACC titles, and finished 5th in the College World Series in 1961.

Parker is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. 

I actually ended up with two Ace Parker autographs.  Not a bad thing, I will give the other card a post of its own at some point.  I have never been big into the "cut signature" cards, but I really liked the look of this card.  Parker not only has a nice signature, he tended to write large.  I am almost sure that this is cut from an autographed football photo of some sort, but I like that the signature takes up the entire card.  The navy blue, or Duke blue color signature is a nice bonus, although the card identifies him as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  

I'd give more insight into the Panini Certified brand, but I don't know a thing about football cards and I am not going to pretend that I do.  I generally do not like Panini's baseball products, the whole no-logos thing, but this looks solid.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 15- Lonnie Maclin

Lonnie Maclin played twelve games for the Cardinals in 1993.  That's it.  When I started these posts about the 1990s Cardinals a few months ago I mapped out about a dozen posts and I pulled a handful of other random cards of different players for future posts.  I wanted a mixture of known names and unknown names.  The known names are nice, good reminders of past favorites, but sometimes the unknowns have some cool stories.

I actually picked out a Maclin card from a stack when I first started this set of posts as part of my random stack for the future.  Maclin is a St. Louis native, so I thought there might be something interesting about his career.  The card happens to be his only major brand baseball card, which is out of the 1994 Pinnacle set.

That's it.

So, I started back tracking a bit on Maclin's career.  First, he attended Ritenour High School in St. Louis County.  It's in the northern part of the county and actually has a pretty good baseball history.  The school has produced three Major League players outside of Lonnie Maclin.  Long time Dodgers pitcher Jerry Reuss, Mets/Giants/Expos infielder Ron Hunt, and Cubs catcher Bob Scheffing.

Maclin played college baseball at Meramec Community College which is in Kirkwood.  It's a few miles southwest of St. Louis and also has a pretty successful track record with its baseball team.  Notable alumni include David Freese, T.J. Mathews, Brian Boehringer, and Donnie Wall.

The Cardinals drafted him in 1987 out of junior college.  He played well in the lower Minors.  Maclin didn't move as fast up the Minor League ladder as Ray Lankford and Bernard Gilkey, but he was in that batch of prospects.  He played alongside future Cardinals like Luis Alicea, Brian Jordan, Geronimo Pena, and Rheal Cormier.

Which is how I found a second card of Maclin.

I had actually picked up a bunch of these early 1990s Minor League sets trying to find some extra cards of some of the 1990s Cardinals players.  Maclin actually has a few Minor League cards, just kind of liked this one.

Maclin made his Major League debut with the Cardinals on the night of September 7, 1993.  What happened that night?  Just Mark Whiten hitting four home runs.

Maclin was on base for the first home run.  If you watch the highlight until Whiten gets to home plate Maclin is at home wearing jersey number 55.  After that September, Maclin became a Minor League free agent signed with the Padres, but never actually played for the team.  He never played in their Minor League system either.  

Instead Maclin ended up playing in either the Mexican League or the Texas-Louisiana (Independent) every year between 1994 and 2001.  His primary team was the Amarillo Dillas where he is considered one of the greatest players in the franchise's history.  In 9 seasons in independent ball, Maclin hit .300 in 7 of them with on-base percentages hovering over .400. still has a few articles and photos of him floating around on their website.  Here he is playing first base......

and according to an interview he gave in 2001 Joe Torre is not a very good manager and Lonnie Maclin also does stand up comedy.  

There is a joke in there somewhere.  Lonnie also tried his hand at managing with Amarillo.  

I too consider Felipe Alou a great manager.