Thursday, June 29, 2017

I Wish You Were A Cardinal...Part 3

More Archives.  I have really spent a lot of time trying to pick up the Cardinals autographs out of this year's set, but many of the former Redbirds in the set are actually wearing some other uniform on their card besides the birds on the bat.  A quick review.

There was Joe McEwing, pictured as a Met, but started out his career as a Cardinal.

and there was also an Edgar Renteria card.  Edgar started out with the Marlins, but spent some of his better years in St. Louis.  One of the really good postseason performers of the past twenty years with essentially two World Series clinching hits.

While he wasn't on the Marlins for long, I get that he had a World Series walk off for them.  That seems pretty important.

On to another Archives card of a former Cardinals player, not pictured as a Cardinals player on their baseball card.  Although it was really awesome to see Topps put a card of this guy into a new product.  He was one of my favorite Cardinals players from the 1990s.  Here's a glance at one of his most important hits as a Cardinal....

Bo Jackson's best years as a baseball player were better than Jordan's best years, but Jordan had a better overall career than both Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders.  I really enjoyed Jordan as a Cardinals even though he played on some bad teams during the 1990s and ended up being overshadowed by Mark McGwire during his prime years as a Cardinal.  

Here's a look at the Archives card of BJ as a member of the Atlanta Braves.  

Jordan was still a pretty solid player as a Brave and he had played in Atlanta as a member of the Falcons during his football career.  He also ended up playing with the Braves in four different Postseasons.  His best moments playing in Atlanta probably came in 1999 when he hit 3 home runs and drove in 12 runs in 10 postseason games against the Astros and Mets.  

Back of the card. 

That's a pretty nice career right there.  I am happy that Jordan was a signer in this year's Archives set. He has not really done a lot of certified autographs with the last one coming in the 1999 UD Hologrfx World Series Relics which were limited to just 33 copies.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #17: Wes Helms

1996 Durham Bulls 

Wes Helms is a North Carolina native, from Gastonia which is near Charlotte, and ended up on the Durham Bulls two years after being drafted out of high school by the Atlanta Braves.  Helms had a pretty good year in 1995 while playing for the Macon Braves in the South Atlantic League, but his real breakout year in the Minors took place in Durham during 1996.  He started the year with the Bulls in the Carolina League and only stayed for a total of 67 games.  He posted a .322/.367/.562 slash line with 13 home runs, 19 doubles, and 54 RBIs.  Pretty impressive line over basically half of a season.  Helms reached the Majors for the first time in 1998, but only stayed for 7 games.  He returned again for 6 games in 2000 before he stuck with Atlanta for good in 2001.  Helms ended up playing a total of 13 seasons in the Majors with most of his time coming with the Braves and Marlins.    He also had stops with the Brewers and Phillies.  

This is the second Best autograph that I have posted in my Project Durham Bulls posts.  The first being a Randall Simon autograph a few weeks ago.  While there are a bunch of these 1990s Minor League sets with a lot of no frills autographs, that are kind of dumpster dives at this point, they are great if you are trying to find cards of a particular team.  I am spreading out my Durham Bulls posts a bit, I am not going to do one everyday and miss out on talking about other cards, but in trying to assemble cards for my collection, these have been really helpful sets.  While you can find these cards in the fifty-cent bin at card shows, there are actually a surprising number of players who are in these sets who actually made it the Majors and were there for awhile.  Wes Helms was never an All-Star or anything, but he stuck around for 13 years and played in more than 1200 games.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Volunteer Baseball Player

I have been able to seen a lot of really good college baseball players by attending USA Baseball games in the summer to watch the College National Team.  Lots of first round draft picks, a few number one overall draft picks, and plenty of players who have gone on to become solid Major League Baseball players.

There have also been a few duds along the way too, but that is for a different day.

For the last few months I have been on the lookout for a card of former Tennessee Volunteer, and current Detroit Tigers prospect, Christian Stewart.  He has a few Tigers cards in Bowman, Topps Pro Debut, and a few different USA Baseball and Tennessee issues with Panini.  I kind of dig the Tigers, my wife is from northern Michigan, and my in-laws are Tigers fans.

Still, I saw Stewart play with USA Baseball, so I was really holding out for a card of him in the red, white, and blue.  I succeeded.

It's obviously a sticker autograph which is a bit of a negative, but overall I really like the appearance of this card.  Yes, I know the jersey is wrinkled or something too.  Is that one of those crease lines you get on your dress shirts/pants when you first buy them?  

Stewart has faired well in his Minor League career so far with 30 home runs last season split between A Ball and Double A, with another 15 dingers 50 games into this season.  Might have to pick a Stewart autograph in a Tigers uni sooner than later.....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 57

This past week saw the NBA Draft come and go.  There were several NC State in the draft, but the only one who had a legitimate shot at getting drafted was Dennis Smith Jr.  In a normal year, where there are not half a dozen point guards amongst the top players in the draft, it's likely that he would have gone higher in the draft than 9th to the Mavericks.

I like the idea of Smith going to the Mavs.  The Mavs have been down the last year or two, but I figure that Mark Cuban is the type of owner who isn't going to let his team slip too far down the NBA food chain.  While I am not an huge basketball card collector, I have started adding cards of former NC State players the last year or two.  I am excited to add to my Dennis Smith collection which currently stands at just one.  

This is the one, it appeared in a post two weeks ago.  

The whole Dennis Smith draft excitement got me thinking a few weeks ago about other high NC State draft picks.  There is the obvious David Thompson pick from the 1970s who was the first overall pick in both the ABA and NBA drafts.  He was not on the Flint Tropics.  So, besides that the highest NBA draft pick out of NC State was this guy.....

Googs was drafted sixth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1992 NBA Draft after averaging more than 22 points a game with 10 rebounds during his senior year in Raleigh.  He wasn't a great pro by any means, but a 16 season career with 13 points per game, including two over 20, has to be at least deemed as solid.  

So, I didn't have a Gugliotta autograph until a week or so ago when I found this gem for next to nothing.  

Seems like a pretty cool card, makes me miss Upper Deck baseball cards a little bit.  I used to love the SP Authentic sets and the autographs.  I have picked up a ton of them over the years.  The basketball versions look pretty nice too.  On card autographs, nice spaces for the players to sign, and classic Upper Deck design.  

I also looked around to see if he had any NC State autographs, but I could not find any.  Considering that card companies have gone back to make autographed cards of Vinny Del Negro and Spud Webb in Wolfpack uniforms I was hoping I could find a Gugliotta.  Besides, I am not sure I have seen Spud or Vinny at a State game recently, Googs still goes and he had that one run in with Karl Hess......

North Carolina is a basketball crazy state, and there is much that fans of the big 4 ACC schools can find to argue about, we are all in agreement that Karl Hess is/was a horrible referee.  The ACC actually canned him a year or two ago for a rather nasty incident at a Wake Forest game.  

More basketball cards later in the week.  

I Wish You Were A Cardinal....Part 2

I have already spent a little bit of time on Joe McEwing this week, so I am not going to rehash the whole thing with Cardinals and and the former utility player.  There is a little history with Cardinals utility players popping up in Archives sets.  One of the coolest autographs that Topps has put into this product in recent years were the Jose Oquendo cards which were in the 2012 set.

Oquendo was dubbed "The Secret Weapon" because he was always somewhere in the lineup, but Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog played him all over the place.

So when Oquendo signed for the 2012 set they included nine different variations for his autograph, one for each of the positions that he played during his career.  That's all of them.

McEwing's entry into the Archives set isn't quite as cool as Oquendo's entry into the Archives set for two reasons.  First, there are not nine different variations of the McEwing card.  "Super Joe" also never really played all nine positions though, so I can live with that one.  Second, the McEwing Archives autograph features him as a Met.

and the back of the card too.  

While a McEwing card with him in a Cardinals uniform would have fit my collection better, he actually spent the majority of his career with the Mets.  Still happy to have this card and also really surprised that Topps even made a McEwing autograph.  Very cool card.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

I Wish You Were A Cardinal....Part 1

Edgar Renteria spent almost half of his playing career wearing the birds on the bat.  He was in St. Louis for a total of six season which included the best season of his career in 2003 when he hit .330/.394.480 with 13 home runs, 100 RBIs, 47 doubles, and 34 stolen bases.  Yet, the average baseball fan, when asked about Renteria would probably bring up two things.

This from the 1997 World Series.....

and then at the other end of his career in 2010 he had this home run for the Giants in the 2010 World Series.....

Both were great moments in Renteria's career, but I obviously prefer his time in St. Louis.  He did not have the postseason heroics with the Cardinals that he had in other places, but he was still a really good player on some of the best Tony LaRussa managed teams.

One of my favorite moments of his time in St. Louis was this grand slam off of Mark Prior.  

When I heard that Edgar Renteria was going to be in Topps products this year I was naturally excited.  My heart sank a little bit when I saw he was going to be a Marlin on his Topps Archives card, but I was still more than happy to go out and try to find a copy of his autograph.  He was never a great signer and has a really limited number of certified autographs.  

This is the front of his Topps Archives autograph.......

It's a 2001 design, Edgar was a Cardinal that year, but we get a Marlins picture.  Hmm.  Renteria's signature has also regressed a little bit over the last decade plus since he last signed some baseball cards.  Still, I am happy with the card regardless of the signature quality.  

Back of the card.....

which shows all of Edgar's playing stats.  Some pretty nice numbers there at different points in his career.  He really bounced around a lot after leaving the Cardinals for the Red Sox.  Card wise, Topps did a really good job of getting the small details right on the backs of these cards.  The stock is a little different, but the rest of the back is a perfect recreation.  They even got the Topps 50th Anniversary logo up at the top of the card in between the player name and picture.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Wish You Were An Expo

I am not going to put together an Archives set for this year, but I am on the look out for a few of the autographs.  I picked up a few the other week from my favorite case breaker and will be sharing them over the next few days.  A whole bunch of Cardinal types, but I am going to start out by sharing a non-Cardinal.

Most people who were around for the 90s probably best remember Mark Langston as a member of the Angels.  If you were around for the 80s you probably also remember him as a Mariner.  Langston had a few other stops in his career outside of Seattle and Anaheim, many of which happened at the end of his career, but there was also one year with the Expos in the middle of his time in the Majors.  He traded from the Mariners to the Expos for some prospect named Randy Johnson.  Fair prospect.

I saw Mark Langston as an Expo.  I also saw him as a Padre, but that's for another day, if not a completely missable post topic.  I never saw him in person as an Angel, but here I am with a Mark Langston Angels card out of this year's Topps Archives set.....

I didn't really have a choice in teams, but I wish this was an Expos card.  Sure, the 1990s Angels had those three cool left handed starters: Langston, Chuck Finley, and Jim Abbott.  Still, who doesn't want more Expos cards?  I have never heard anyone say, "I am so tired of all these Expos cards" 

At least the back of the card mentions the Expos in his career stats.....

There it is near the top of the yearly stats.  That Padres year is also in there.  Pretty sure I saw one of the 4 wins against the Cardinals on my 21st birthday.  Topps should get some kudos here for making a nice 1992 Topps card.  I like the 1992 set, but you know what else was around in 1992?  The Expos.  I wish this was an Expos card.  I will wish some other card was some other team tomorrow night, or maybe Friday.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #16: Ken Singleton

1968 Raleigh-Durham Mets 

I always place Ken Singleton as an Orioles player or as a commentator on the Yankees YES Network.   However, Ken Singleton actually started his career with the Mets which took him through Durham in 1968.  He actually spent most of the year with the Visalia Mets in the California League, but spent the last part of the season, just 26 games, with the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  The Mets renamed the team "Mets" and actually originated the crazy idea to have the team split their home games between Durham Athletic Park in Durham and Devereaux Meadows in Raleigh.  Singleton posted a .257/.466/.419 line with just three home runs.  A year later Singleton was in Double A and by 1970 he was on the Mets.  At the beginning of his career Singleton was involved in two pretty high profile trades.  First, he went from the Mets to the Expos in exchange for Rusty Staub, also a former Durham Bulls player.  He was then traded with Mike Torrez to the Orioles for Dave McNally and Rich Coggins.  Singleton ended up spending the next 10 years with the Orioles playing more than 1,500 games with a .284/.388/.445 line with 182 home runs, 235 doubles, and an OPS+ of 135.  He was a key player on the 1983 World Series Championship team and ended his career in the top 20 Orioles players in terms of WAR ranking just behind Frank Robinson.  

The 2004 Upper Deck Yankees Signature Series set has a ton of different players who had something to do with the Bronx Bombers.  While I would love to have an Orioles Ken Singleton autograph, this card cost me next to nothing.  Perhaps this will be a card that I do a little upgrade on in the future.  Anyway, it still a nice card with a great on-card signature.  It's also cool to add my first Raleigh-Durham Mets card to my Project Durham Bulls cards.  There were actually some really good players on the two Bulls...err...Mets....teams that were here in the late 1960s.  I believe that might also be my first announcer card too.  I have a Jack Buck autograph floating around somewhere in a box in my card collection, but he never had an autographed baseball card.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 56

Joe McEwing might be the most popular Cardinals player who only spent a season with the team.  He was actually on the team for a few games in 1998 and then played the entire 1999 season in St. Louis.    His overall career numbers as a Cardinals player don't look all that impressive for a player as popular as "Super Joe".  Over 162 games with the birds on the bat McEwing his .272/.330/.392 with 9 home runs, 29 doubles, and 45 RBIs.   If you think of his time with the Cardinals being equal to roughly one season's worth of games, that stat line is kind of very ho hum.  

Yet, during the summer of 1999 some of the most popular baseball cards around St. Louis were anything with the Cardinals second baseman.  He might have even been on a few of those ridiculous Beckett Hot List things.  So hot right now, or back then....

One of my favorites was McEwing's 1999 Upper Deck Ultimate Victory card.  While many Cardinals fans were trying to chase down the baseball card of Rick Ankiel from the same set, McEwing came close to catching up to the hard throwing pitching prospect in terms of popularity during the first half of the summer.  That's saying a lot considering Ankiel was long regarded as a high ceiling prospect while McEwing was more of an organizational depth kind of player.  Here is a look at the Super Joe Ultimate Victory card.....

That shiny surface on the scanner though.  

Anyway, what made McEwing popular?  How did he end up as a utility player on the Mets?  So, first half of the 1999 season McEwing hit .305/.350/.418 with 4 home runs, 3 triples, and 19 doubles.  Second half of the year McEwing his .223/.303/.363 with 5 home runs, 1 triple, and 9 doubles.  Kind of a steep drop off.  At the end of the season, McEwing ended up getting traded to the Mets for Jesse Orosco. Orosco's Cardinals career lasted all of 6 games in 2000.  

McEwing ended up on the Mets for a few years and a stop over with the Royals.  While McEwing was a bench player for almost his entire career, his half a season made a lasting impression in St. Louis that has never quite gone away.   

While this card is no longer on any sort of published hot list, it's still kind of a cool old card to take out and look at every once in awhile.  More McEwing later this week.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jumbo World Series Hero

It seems like every Postseason there is some sort of player who unexpectedly comes out of nowhere and has a huge impact on the outcome of the World Series.  Last season Cubs fans watched Kyle Schwarber come back from what was supposed to be a season ending knee injury to bat .412 in the World Series.  His presence in the line-up seemed to give the Cubs a little extra.

Pretty good hitting there for a guy who was supposed to not even appear in the Series.  

As a Cardinals fan I have seen players make similar contributions to the team's postseason runs in recent years.  Matt Adams hitting a three run home run off of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Carpenter battling through long at at-bats, Michael Wacha pitching shut outs, the entire line-up in the 2012 NLDS against the Nationals including light hitting Pete Kozma getting the series clinching hit....

and every Cardinals fans favorite hometown hero from the 2011 World Championship winning team, third baseman, David Freese.  He actually had an incredible playoff run throughout that postseason including the series against the Phillies and the Brewers.  Everyone just remembers the 9th inning on in Game 6....

and what of the Cardinals playoff run in 2006?  Many remember the Tigers throwing the ball all over the field littering the box scores with tons of errors and cold bats after clinching the AL Pennant and sitting around for a week.  Many also remember the final out of the series being recorded by long-time Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright when the normal closer Jason Isringhausen went down with an injury.....

I often feel like the player from that 2006 squad who often flies under the radar is pitcher Jeff Weaver, who was picked up by the Cardinals in a trade with the Angels after he lost his job to his brother Jared.  Weaver's regular season with the Cardinals was not much to write home about, but he excelled on the postseason stage that fall for the Redbirds.  He saved his best performance for the World Series clincher in Game 5 when he pitched 8 innings with one run, 4 hits, and 9 strikeouts.  

One of the better single season turn arounds in the history of the franchise.  There aren't many baseball cards to remember Weaver's brief stint with the Cardinals by, but a few of them are really sweet cards.  My favorite up to this point has been his 2007 Topps World Series Relic card.  

This Weaver card was put out at a time when Topps did not make a Postseason relic card for every single team that made the playoffs.  They have done that the last few years and they have made them pretty common cards.  The older versions, starting with the White Sox in 2005, are really tough finds.  
Which brings me to my latest Jeff Weaver card.  I still like the World Series better, but this is a nice card too.....

This card is from the 2009 Topps Unique set, which had a terrible base set, but a great set of relic cards.  I picked up a Anthony Reyes jumbo relic card from this set early this year, but I did not have a Weaver card.  A very nice patch piece too which is the top of the L......

the top of the s and the tail feathers of the Cardinal sitting on the bat.  I am sure there are probably better patch pieces out there, but I am also sure that most of those have made there way into collections and they are not coming back out.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Net Gain For The Collection

I do a lot with Minor League cards and have always been a big fan of the Pro Debut sets.  It's cool to see some of the players that I see in the local Minor League parks in their Minor League uniforms.  The product has always had a design that followed the Topps base set, a few autographs, and some different types of relic cards.

For today's post I am going to stick with the relics that have appeared in Pro Debut including my latest card from this product.  I first got hooked on the Pro Debut relics back in 2010 when Topps put out some large game used relics from the 2009 Futures Game which was held in my hometown of St. Louis.  So many cool patches and the ordinary/common relics were generous in size.

This Brett Wallace card has always been a favorite......

Topps has moved away from these nice looking relics, while I really like them, they did a good job of replacing these with other cool cards.  The best part about the change is that the relic cards have become more focused on the Minor League teams and not Minor Leaguers in Major League teams.  Too similar to Bowman, so I am glad in someways that the Futures Game relics have migrated back to those products.

The best part of the Minor League specific relic cards is that the Durham Bulls have been regularly featured in the set.  While they are not game worn relics, definitely in line with the whole manufactured relic cards, it's one of the only chances during the year to find actual Durham Bulls cards.

Some of the previous entries in Pro Debut with the Bulls have included manufactured patches of the players.....

and also the mascot....

The original checklist of 2017 Pro Debut offered a few Durham Bulls cards.  One of the cards was a base card of Rays prospect Casey Gillaspie with two other cards being relics that were apart of the Fragments of the Farm set.  Initially when I saw that there were Bulls cards in Fragments of the Farm I was a little bit scared.  I pulled one of these cards awhile ago, just a weird card.....

I still am not sure what the heck is going on here with the green fur.  What is the Lake County Captains mascot exactly?  Probably for another blog post on a completely different blog.  Anyway, the Bulls cards were supposed to be a piece of the original Snorting Bull sign from the old Durham Athletic Park.....

which, as far as I can tell, was never made.  I have looked high and low for this card for obvious reasons and have not been able to find a single copy of it anywhere.  Guessing it does not exist.  

The other Durham Bulls relic card was a piece of the backstop netting which was replaced and extended two years ago.  I have looked through tons of pictures of Durham Bulls games I have attended over the years, this might be the best picture I have of the net on the Pro Debut card...

Justin Christian is in the background behind the net.  Here is a better comparison of how the netting changed in the stadium....

The old net, which is on the card.....

ends before the dugouts on both sides of the field.  The new net extends past the dugouts on both sides of the field....

There is a small cut out next to each dugout which is a gate leading onto the field.  It's primarily used by Wool E. Bull and kids getting onto the field to run the bases after Sunday afternoon games.  I am sure that it has some other function.  I just can't think of it at the moment.

Now that we have had a breakdown on the Pro Debut relic cards and the backstop net in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park how about we finally look at the card that is supposed to be the topic of the post...

What is else is left to say about this card?  Just a great looking card featuring a cool piece of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Obviously very happy to add this card to the collection.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dunks That Do Not Count For $500 Alex

Last season was a painful year for college basketball in Raleigh.  At the beginning of the season my Wolfpack were predicted to be competitive in the ACC with several talented returning veterans along with two super freshman.  One of the freshman was an international recruit from Turkey, Omer Yurtseven, while the other was Dennis Smith Jr., a point guard from Fayetteville.

I got to see Smith's first regular season college game last fall against Georgia Southern in Raleigh.  Not Dennis Smith Jr.'s best game, but still enjoyable to see him play in person.  Yurtseven was ineligible because of something for the first seven game of the year and never really got going last season.  He will be back with NC State next season.  

Smith got a lot better as the season went along.  It started out with a few dunks during the non-conference schedule against a few cupcakes......

and then there was a triple-double against Virginia Tech at the beginning of conference play.....

The highlight of State's season though had to be a win against Duke at Cameron Indoor.  It's hard to imagine that the Wolfpack went from a win against a local rival, in one of the most hostile road environments in all of college basketball, to being a team that lost to Wake Forest by 30 something a few weeks later.  The coach, Mark Gottfried, was fired.  

Let's stick to the Duke game for a second.  The game featured Smith's most iconic shot in his single season at NC State.  It didn't even count, but it put an exclamation point on a great win.  I post a lot of videos in my posts, but I have to go with a picture of the dunk first.....

It is a thing of beauty to see that many Duke students with their hands on their heads in the background.  I don't mind Duke as much as I mind the Tar Heels, but still it's a great thing to see a State player get that sort of reaction.  Here is the video.....

Again, the dunk was after the buzzer.  

As a Wolfpack alumni and fan I feel like the basketball program really squandered Smith's talents during his single season in school.  I am sure that he is going to be a great NBA player and is currently projected to be a top 10 draft pick.  In some of the mock drafts he's even been projected as a top five pick.  

Luckily I found a keepsake of Dennis Smith Jr. in cardboard form.  One of the best parts of attending an NC State game is visiting the promotional table which is usually filled with all sorts of pocket schedules and team posters.  Last few years the school has also been giving out basketball cards. 

Its provided a great opportunity to find cards of players who will likely end up in Europe, D-League, or just becoming a normal person and not in the NBA.  Players like Cat Barber, Ralston Turner, Scott Wood, and BeeJay Anya have all been happy additions to my collection......

and while Dennis Smith will definitely be in the NBA, and definitely have plenty of basketball cards, I am not sure that I am going to go crazy tracking down cards of a basketball player who is a top draft pick.  I am just imagining his cards as being pricy.  So, for the moment my NC State basketball card of Dennis Smith Jr. will have to live with this one sweet Wolfpack card for awhile.....

I have actually considered making some of these cards that have been given away at games into a set project.  The team gives away one per game, and while the bigger names that have played at State like Dennis Smith and T.J. Warren are fairly easy to find, there are other players who are tougher to find.  I am about to knock out a few of the set projects I have listed up at the top, this idea is getting some serious consideration....

State also has given out cards at other sporting events too, most importantly baseball.  However.....

Unfortunately people who have the baseball cards for sale online are asking incredibly ridiculous prices.  I mean, I am a big fan of Trea Turner, but not for $365.  Welp, I guess I am sticking with the basketball card sets for the moment.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 55

Back in 1993 Topps came up with the idea of inserting Black Gold cards into packs of cards.  There were also winner cards which could earn collectors a set of 11, 22, or 44 cards from the set.  The Black Gold set was a total of 44 cards, so that 44 card redemption card was really popular.  I never pulled a redemption card, but I did pick up several of the single cards.  Especially the single Cardinals cards in the set.

The best Cardinals card in the set, in my opinion, belongs to one of my 90s favorite players Ray Lankford.  It's a really great looking card at the time and I feel like the set has aged fairly well over the last twenty some years.

I am not sure that the scan really does the gold foil along the top and bottom of the card much justice, but it looks nice contrasted with the black background in the middle of the card behind the picture of Lankford.  The Topps Black Gold logo up at the top of the card looks nice too.  

Back of the card.....

and here is the real reason that I really like this card.  It's nice that Ray Lankford was a Topps Rookie All-Star and that he played college football a junior college in California.  The most important thing back here is mention of Lankford's 1991 cycle against the Mets.  If you are a long time reader you've probably seen a post mentioning this game before, but I attended the game.  It's probably one of the coolest things that I have seen in person at a baseball game.

I still have my scorecard and I also have the ticket stub from the game.  One thing that I have tried to do since I saw this game is to find baseball cards that mention the cycle game.  I have found several over the years including this 1993 Topps Gold card.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Almost Irrelevant

The 253rd pick in the NFL Draft is the very last selection in the draft.  The player picked in that slot is given the dubious title of "Mr. Irrelevant".  Not sure that really happens in any other sport, but it seems to be a big deal amongst the football crowd.  As a St. Louis native, I have given up on the NFL in so many ways.  The Cardinals moved to Phoenix when I was a kid.  The Rams moved to St. Louis while I was in high school, but moved back to Los Angeles for a truck load of money.

I can't really get into the Panthers.  For the most part I just kind of follow the former NC State players that are in the league.  Phillip Rivers and Russell Wilson are probably the most prominent.  Although, maybe Russell Wilson is a Wisconsin guy?  Kind of depends on the temperature, stock market, and direction of the wind whether he's an NC State or Wisconsin guy......

Best answer is "A Whole Pack of Badgers"

This year's draft crop out of NC State really seemed to consist of defensive back Josh Jones, who went in the second round to the Packers, and running back Matt Dayes.  I am a big fan of Dayes from his time in Raleigh.  He has spent a lot of time on the field and is near the top of the offensive leader boards in the football program's history.  

and what's not to love?  He's got speed to out run people.....

and the ability to run inside.  During the "Hurricane Matthew Game" against Notre Dame Dayes had 126 rushing yards compared to Notre Dame's 110 total yards....

However, running backs are not quite valued the same way in modern football as they were 20 years ago.  If Dayes had played in the 1980s, or 1990s, he would have been picked at some point during the top half of the draft.  Still not a first round pick, but definitely a guy who is going to have a productive career somewhere.  So, in the modern world of the NFL where does a solid college running back get picked?

Next to last.  

Dayes was almost irrelevant.  

Despite being taken that low in the draft Panini still managed to put a Dayes card into their Elite Draft Picks set.  It's a sticker autograph and dirt cheap, but it's really fun to see find cards of your favorite college players in their college uniform.  Here's a look at the card......

I am really surprised that Dayes actually had a card of any kind in an NC State uniform.  Especially considering that Josh Jones, second round Packers pick, was not given an NC State card.  He just has some unlicensed stuff with him wearing a white football uniform.  I am pretty sure that the Dayes card was put out before the NFL Draft, so I am guessing Panini thought he was going to get picked much higher than where he went.  

Dayes was almost irrelevant, but I am hoping that a lot of football fans will be taking about him at some point in the near future.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Best Ryan Howard Around

I found this really sweet Ryan Howard card last week.  Being a St. Louis native, having a few St. Louis collectors left in my circle within the hobby, that's always been a pretty popular name.  There is that one Ryan Howard who is from the western part of St. Louis County, went to Layfette High School, and then played at Missouri State until the Phillies drafted him.  Yes, that Ryan Howard is a pretty popular player, lots of baseball cards of that guy.

A few summers ago I ran into Ryan Howard.  He was playing at USA Baseball.  Always good to see a player from back home in person.  Here he is......

the other Ryan Howard.  

The other Ryan Howard is also from the metro St. Louis area hailing from St. Charles County, which is just across the Missouri River from St. Louis County.  He played his college baseball at Mizzou and also appeared on the USA Baseball Collegiate team. 

Playing for Team USA means baseball cards.  Howard has several, but I went for an autographed version.....

There are actually several different Ryan Howard USA Baseball autographs, but this is the only one that has an on-card autograph.  Although he does have a nice looking one with a signed acetate slab.  I know it's a short cut around a sticker, but they look nice....

Maybe if I can find one that is a little bit less expensive I will go for it.  In the meantime, he became a former college player last summer when he drafted by the Giants and made his debut playing in the short season Northwest League.  He even had a card in Bowman Chrome last year.....

I am hoping that he will get a few more cards at some point this summer.  Maybe even an autograph in something?  Even if the other Ryan Howard gets shut out of baseball card sets for the first half of the summer, he is currently hitting .317 with the Giants High A team in San Jose.  That's worth a few baseball cards, right? 

Looking forward to more of this Ryan Howard, who just happens to be at the moment, the best Ryan Howard around.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A D-Day Card

Every once in awhile my schedule allows me a little bit of time on Monday nights to take in the weekly card chat on Twitter.  @Sooz who is a Topps employee comes up with a topic every week, posts a few questions about the topic, and off goes the conversation.  Last night's topic was all about oddball cards.  I have a few favorites oddballs hanging around the old card closet with my Topps Marble Shooters Ray Lankford card, err marble, being my favorite at the moment.  

There were all kinds of cool oddball cards brought up by different collectors.  It's really worth your time if you have never participated or you do not have a Twitter account.  Which brings me to an oddball that I had to go find and dig out of a box this evening.  

I was at work today and remembered that it was D-Day.  I work at a school and one of the subjects I teach, I teach fifth grade so I really teach them all, is Social Studies.  Fifth Grade Social Studies is American History, Government, and Economy.  So, back to my story of an oddball card.....

Long ago there was a cool card shop in south St. Louis County near Jefferson Barracks if you are familiar with the St. Louis metro area.  The card shop is now gone which has made my trips back to the Lou a little less interesting.  The shop was named Southtown Sluggers.  I discovered it one summer while helping someone track down a copy of a 1997 Topps Stars Adam Kennedy rookie as a part of my college summer job....that's for a different post.  

Anyway, I was putting together a few 1960s Cardinals cards.  As I recall I was working on the 1964 Topps cards at the time......

The guy who owned the store was always super cool.  I believe his name was Dave, always gave some good deals, or threw stuff in for little extra cost.  So, after picking out a bunch of 1964 Cardinals he pulled a few oddballs out of the vintage card box I was looking through, put them in sleeves, and in the team bag with the rest of the cards I bought.  

The cards were from the 1965 Topps Battle set.  I don't know a lot about the cards, but I do know that I have a Dwight Eisenhower card from the set.  Always been a pretty interesting card in my collection.....

All of the cards in the Battle set are all persons associated with World War II or some sort of action shot of something that happened during the fighting.  I thought it would be a cool card to share on D-Day.  Definitely an important day in US history and one of the decisive battles in World War II.  Also one cool oddball if you are a fan of history....

Monday, June 5, 2017

Missing Silent George

The 1982 Cardinals team was the first time I had some interest in watching baseball as a kid.  I was five, my family lived in Richmond, Virginia at the time, and I believe that we watched the final game of the World Series at Chuck E. Cheese.  I guess Ski Ball kept me entertained in between innings.  The Series ended well for the Cardinals.

My first baseball cards of the 1982 Cardinals came two years later when my father bought me a team set of the team at a flea market in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  I lived there for a year, but the flea market was a regular stop for baseball cards.  I also dabbled in football cards at that time, but the Cardinals (football version) were painful.  

The cards are sort of in rough shape.  The six year old me handled my cards a lot....

Over the last twenty years, or thereabouts, I have also managed to assemble the a sort of "FrankenSet" of autographs of the different Cardinals World Series and National League Championship teams.  Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Jack Clark, Bruce Sutter, Scott Rolen, Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter, John Tudor....I could make a huge long list.  There is only really one significant player missing from my collection of certified autographs.  

and there was also this guy.......

who was a pretty important player on the 1982 squad.  He was one of the better offensive players on that team during the regular season and hit over .300 in both the NLCS against the Braves and in the World Series against the Brewers.

"Silent" George Hendrick was traded to the Cardinals in 1978 from the Padres.  He was always a pretty good player up to that point in his career, but George bounced around from the A's to the Indians to the Padres, but found a home for awhile in St. Louis.  He played with the Cardinals through the 1984 season and was then traded to the Pirates for John Tudor.

Cardwise there are plenty of George Hendrick cards out there, but there is only one certified autograph of him.  I have known about his 2001 Topps Archives autograph since it first appeared in 2001.  For many reasons it is just appearing in collection now.

First, it is possible to find copies of this card, but no I am not willing to spend $20 to $30 on a George Hendrick autograph.  As far as I can tell this card is not a short print, but there always seems to be just a single copy, sometimes two, floating around on Ebay and COMC.  I know that I could have actually had this card long ago, but I was patient and stuck it out....probably should have just caved long ago.

In terms of the card, of course I wish he was a Cardinals player on the autograph, but I understand the concept behind the 2001 Archives set was that it featured every player's first and last card.  George Hendrick was not on the A's for very long, but he did win a World Series with the 1972 team.  Conversely, he ended his career as a part time player on the late 1980s Angels teams.  A's it is.....

A Venerable Old Card Part 54

A little non-baseball post for your Monday morning flashing back to my high school years growing up in St. Louis.  I was a college basketball fan back in those days even though Missouri isn't necessarily the hoops hotbed that is North Carolina.  St. Louis has had some really talented players over the last twenty years, but the basketball program at Mizzou has done almost nothing to keep any of that skill in state.  Larry Hughes, David Lee, Jayson Tatum, and Bradley Bealare just a few of the examples.... The program has even struggled to keep players from other parts of the state around like Tyler Hansbrough and Otto Porter.

Not to say every year over the past two decades has been terrible, but there haven't been many bright spots.  When I was a kid it was sort of the opposite situation.  The school employed Norm Stewart as their coach, he's in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and he generally had competitive teams.  The best Mizzou team that I got to watch was the 1993-1994 team, which was one of the last years that the Big 8 existed.

A brief summary of the season:  The Tigers lost their opening game to Arkansas by 52 points.  The previous season's Most Valuable Player from the National Junior College Athletic Association's Championship game, one Paul O'Liney, watched the game and decided that he should go to Mizzou and help out their basketball team.  The senior heavy team then rolls off the rest of the regular season with only one more loss, which took place against Notre Dame, in January.  They ran the table in the Big 8 becoming the first team to do it since the 1971 Kansas Jayhawks.  Since the conference does not exist anymore, it's safe to say that they will be the last to do it.

The team was led by senior guard Melvin Booker who ended the year as the Big 8 Player of the Year and a first team All-America selection.  Previous to the 1993-1994 season he had also earned All-Big 8 honors during the 1992-1993 season.  While Booker was a great college player, he only managed a total of 32 games in the NBA with the Rockets, Nuggets, and Warriors.  

Still, the great college guard ended up with a few basketball cards.  I ended up with a copy of one just the other day.  It's even signed.....

I don't really know much of anything about this product, but it seems like there are tons of cool college basketball players in here.  I ended up with a couple of these cards, but I really liked this Booker card the best out of the lot of cards I picked up from this set.  Happy to have a card of one of my favorite college basketball players from my past.  

I hear his son is a fairly good basketball player too. 


Back to baseball tomorrow.