Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Two Years. 56 Starts Later. I'm Happy To Only Have A Card

There are times when you hear the news of your team signing or trading for a player and you just know that it is going to turn out really bad.  As a Cardinals fan I have seen it a few times over the years.  Players like.....

Tino Martinez not being able to hit outside of Yankee Stadium.  Lots of double plays and he always got subbed out at the end of games so that Pujols could play first base. Kerry Robinson, or So Taguchi, would come in and play left field.  I always took it as having Kerry Robinson or Taguchi in the field was worth more than Tino batting.  Let's not forget that he cried a bunch about St. Louis not being New York.  Pretty sure Tony LaRussa was not amused.  Tino was traded to the Devil Rays, Cardinals fans rejoiced.

Wiggy.  First, he went to the light blue Carolina school.  Sure, he ended up transferring.  In many cases I can live with people once they leave Chapel Hill, like Diamond DeShields, but I have a hard time viewing Wiggy as a UNC-Asheville grad.  He signed a two year contract, but only last half a year.  Wiggy managed to play in every tiny, or thin aired stadium, in the years leading up to playing in St. Louis.  Orioles, Rockies, and Phillies. Bandbox, altitude, and bandbox.  Wiggy was eventually released.  Cardinals fans rejoiced.

Actually in the case of Wiggy I was surprised he never showed up in the International League in the role of crafty old guy on a Triple A team.

Which leads to Mike Leake.  During the 2015 Playoffs the Cardinals lost to the Cubs in the first round.  You knew there was going to be some sort of turnover.  David Price?  Nope.  Johnny Cueto?  Never in St. Louis.  I remember the day clearly.  My wife and I had just worked our last day at school before Winter Break.  We loaded up the car with the little man and started driving towards my in-laws house in Northern Michigan.

Little guy was craving some lunch.....

so we stopped at the Wendy's in Princeton, West Virginia.  The backseat was less crowded in those days.  I looked at my phone at the restaurant and I saw the Mike Leake signing all over Twitter and Facebook.  There were a lot of "he's an innings eater, we need Mike Leake" sorts of conversations taking place.  I was hoping that this was going to be one of those deals where it never quite gets finalized and the player just leverages the Cardinals to get paid somewhere else.  Happens all the time, don't laugh non-Cardinals readers.  

The Cardinals actually signed him.  So disappointed to see this.....

With all bad vibes signings/trades I always have to ask myself how far I want to go on finding cards of that player.  There have been other times in where I have had a bad vibe about players and they have turned out to be fine.  Troy Glaus comes to mind.  I was pretty sure he was going to break at some point, but he did have one good season before it happened.

He's got some pretty sweet baseball cards, but I waited to actually watch him play before taking that dive.  This was my favorite.  It's like a signed trash bag or something.....

which is what I imagined the fences at Anaheim Stadium would have been made out of prior to it being renovated.  The remodel happened after Fleer made this card.

So how deep did I go on Mike Leake?  This deep.....

that's it.  The only reason I got this card was because it was really cheap on COMC and I figured I had to get one autograph since he was on the Cardinals.  Luckily after 56 starts all of us Cardinals fans are free of Mike Leake and his incredibly hittable pitches.  I don't even care if they only got back an A Ball player who is hitting .220.  As a Cardinals fan it was hard to be at work and see the Mike Leake trade flash across my phone during my break.  I contemplated having a five minute celebration in the middle of my class, but my students this year are all college basketball people.  Surprise.  I rejoiced internally at the thought of Mike Leake not starting anymore games for the Cardinals.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Love The 90s Cardinals #1 - Milt Thompson

Why I am making this post?  

I have always tried to do themed posts on Mondays.  I think it started out two or three years ago when I did posts about a recently purchased/traded for card, but I quit doing those since I make those types of posts all of the time.  I still do, they just aren't forced into a theme.  Plus, I borrowed the idea from a group of local Raleigh-Durham collectors on Facebook who would make a similar post on Mondays.  I scratched that idea at some point a year and a half ago and went to the Venerable Old Card posts about cards pre-2000s.  These were fun posts, but the vast majority of them ended up being about Cardinals players from the 1980s and 1990s whom I grew up watching. 

My two main collecting interest at this point in my life are Durham Bulls and Cardinals cards.  I have been making some themed Durham Bulls posts for awhile now, I figured it would be fun to make a series of posts about some Cardinals cards.  More specifically I am going to go with the Cardinals players from the 1990s.  I know it was a really rough decade for the team, but those years in my life were the end of middle school through my college graduation.  I cannot even tell you how many Cardinals game I went to during that time, but it was a large number.  Excited to share out a few cards of the players I grew up watching, at least until I run out of players.  

For the first post I am going to kind of combine the whole Durham Bulls thing with the 1990s Cardinals.  There aren't too many players who have appeared for both teams, but this guy is one of them.  

Milt Thompson was sort of the prototypical 1990s Cardinals player.  He had spent a few years with the Braves and Phillies before the Cardinals traded Steve Lake for him.  I'm not sure the Cardinals had intended to use him as starter since they also had Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, and Tom Brunansky.  However, Willie McGee ended up only playing 58 games in 1989 which meant that Milt Thompson ended up with almost 600 plate appearances.

The 1990 Cardinals were just terrible, not Milt's fault at all, but he ended up getting a little more than 450 plate appearances that summer.  The team had gone cheap around this time when Gussie Busch died and his son August IV took over.  So, they traded away Tom Brunansky in April and Willie McGee towards the end of the summer.

Willie McGee gave us Cardinals fans a batting title that year, which was something.  Except McGee was playing in Oakland when we won it.  Still kind of an odd little moment in baseball history.  Eddie Murray was leading the NL in batting when McGee got traded and then went cold at the end of the season.

I am pretty sure that Milt would have made the 600 number on plate appearances if he had not found the bench for chunks of time during August and September.  Remember cheap.  The Cardinals had three young outfielders, all making the Major League minimum, start games at the end of the season.  Cheap yes, but the trio of Ray Lankford, Bernard Gilkey, and Felix Jose were at least talented.

I always post Ray Lankford cards, so you get Bernard.  Plus Bernard was an all around talent since he was in Men In Black for all of 30 seconds getting hit in the head with a baseball.

Back to Milt.  He actually became a bat off the bench his last two years with the Cardinals.  Pretty sure that was supposed to be his original role on the team when they traded for him.  Maybe not, I was in seventh grade when this happened. What do I know?  He was basically between 200 and 300 plate appearances during those years.

Milt left after 1992 just in time to rejoin the Phillies in 1993.  Again, bat off the bench, but he helped that team a lot.  Like this.....

He also batted .294 in the World Series that year against the Blue Jays.  He hit a home run in Game 3 off of Duane Ward and ended the Series with 6 RBIs.  Not his fault that Joe Carter walked off Mitch Williams.  

A Milt Thompson card, or two, for my post.  I am going to go with my most recent card of him first.  You might be thinking, "Who knows their most recent Milt Thompson card?" Well, at some point back in April I made some posts about finishing off my 1990 Upper Deck set.  I was successful, at finishing the set, but opening 1990s wax (foil since it was Upper Deck) means lots of doubles.  In my doubles pile....

Typical Upper Deck from the time.  Nice picture on the front of the card, kind of looks like it was taken in Wrigley Field prior to a game.  The red pullovers were the Cardinals batting practice jerseys during the 1980s and 1990s.  The background looks like it's the ivy wall with the brick top.  Can't see the basket, but the back of the card confirms what the front of the card hints at in terms of location....

with the brick wall behind him in the picture.  

Surprisingly, Milt actually had some nice cards with the Cardinals.  At least I think so, especially a pair of his 1991 Topps issued cards.  His base Topps card, great photography that year, has a cool action shot of him ducking on inside pitch during a Spring Training game.....

Crooked scan, apologies.  His Stadium Club card from that same year also had an action shot of him.  On this card he's running in to catch a fly ball in Wrigley.  The ivy always makes for a nice background on baseball cards.  I approve of card photos there.  

Overall, Milt was a much better player for the Cardinals than I remembered.  He also played for the team during a real point in the franchise's history.  His final Cardinals line, in a little more than 500 games, was .274/.334/.387 with 20 home runs, 21 triples, and 67 doubles.  Milt also stole 86 bases and ended three of his four seasons with an OPS+ over 100 (average player is 100) with marks of 107 in 1989, 127 in 1991, and 116 in 1992.  His 1990 was a little rough with an OPS+ of 71, or a little bit lower than Jason Heyward. 

A random 1990 song from my Ipod.  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #20 - Ben Zobrist

2006-2008 Durham Bulls 

Zobrist started off his professional career with the Astros after they selected him in the 6th round of the 2004 Amateur Draft out of Dallas Baptist University.  After two years in the Astros organization he was traded to the Rays in exchange for Aubrey Huff.  Zobrist was very much the same type of player offensively in the Minors as he is in the Majors.  He had a little bit of pop in his bat, but his main offensive skill was getting on base.  During his first two go arounds in Durham, 2006 and 2007, he managed to draw more walks than strikeouts over almost 80 games.  His OBP for the Bulls was above .400 during each of the 3 seasons that he played in Durham.  Zobrist is probably best known as a player who can show up anywhere on the field, but that skill did not show up until he reached the Majors for good in 2008.  The Astros played him exclusively at shortstop, while the Rays Minor League teams used him at second, short, and third.  However, the majority of his time with the Rays Minor League teams was still spent at short.  So much that I could say about Zobrist, I will keep it short and simple.  He has appeared at every position in the Majors except pitcher.  He's played more than 100 career games at second, short, and the two corner outfield spots.  Zobrist has now been in the Majors for 12 seasons, made three All-Star games, won two World Series rings, and a World Series MVP.  He has a solid .263/.356/.428 slash line with more than 150 home runs and 300 doubles.  

I actually already had a copy of this card that I picked up way back in 2007 from one of my favorite card shops in St. Louis.  I had seen Zobrist on the 2006 Durham Bulls, so I knew of him at the time.  I went home for Thanksgiving with my then girlfriend, now wife, and I took her to the card shop.  She was a great sport about the whole baseball card shop thing.  Anyway, the guy who ran the store always used to open a pack out of the boxes that he was using to sell single packs.  Sitting there in the open pack of the Topps 52 box was a Zobrist autograph.  I asked the guy about the card, he had no idea who Zobrist was, and I ended up getting the card for a few dollars.  Always liked this card a lot, saw a cheap one the other week.  Thought it would look nice is this space.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Archives of Jimmy Ballgame

I started this blog in the spring of 2012, which was well after one of my favorite Cardinals, centerfielder Jim Edmonds, had walked away from baseball.  I feel like I miss out on posting his cards since he does not really pop up in current products and I do not pick up too many of his cards anymore.  My Jim Edmonds card collection is not anything close to my Ray Lankford cards, but I have definitely spent a lot of time and money on assembling some nice cards of Jimmy Ballgame.

Initially I did not really touch his stuff with the Angels when he was first traded to the Cardinals during Spring Training in 2000.  I picked up my first Cardinals card of Edmonds out of the second series of 2000 Upper Deck and it was on from there.  Here is that first Cardinals Edmonds card......

So many good Edmonds cards over the years, I did eventually loop back and work on the Angels cards.  If I had to say that there are holes in my Edmonds collection it would definitely fall into those early years with the Angels.  Not sure that there were too many tough cards of Edmonds made during that time, but it just takes time to find them all.

My best early Edmonds card has to be this cool Minor League card I found earlier in the spring from his time in the Texas League with the Midland Angels.  Really sweet card.

With work to be done with some of the Angels years, I was happy to get a little bit of a respite to pursue a Jimmy Ballgame card that was issued this year in Topps Archives.  The best part is the fact that he is pictured in a Cardinals uniform on the card and the design in from one of his prime years with the Cardinals.

Here is a look at the card.....

Love the 2001 Topps card design and that was a pretty good year for Edmonds on the field.  It's also nice to see him back as a signer in a card set.  Edmonds has a really nice and very distinct autograph.  I am pretty sure Edmonds has not signed anything since 2004 or thereabouts.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Where Have You Gone Aledmys Diaz?

Not even a year ago I was in my local card shop buying a box of Topps Update.  I had actually thought about skipping the purchase in favor of just buying the base set and using the savings to buy an autograph of Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz.  How often do you walk into a card shop, think about the most ideal pull you could make out of a box, and then pull it off?  Next to never.

Yet, it happened to me last year.  

I love this card and I was so incredibly happy to pull this autograph out of a pack.  However, I have done almost nothing with any Aledmys cards this year.  Topps and Panini are still making Aledmys Diaz cards, it's just that he's disappeared.  First, Aledmys was in St. Louis and didn't really look anything like the guy who was one of the best rookies in all of baseball last year.  

Since Mike Matheny and John Mabry can't actually fix any young players on the Cardinals, Aledmys disappeared completely from the Cardinals.  It's happened before with Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty.  Usually the second they get away from John Mabry the young Cardinals learn how to hit again.  However, Aledmys has disappeared in Memphis too.  He's been out homered by Wilfredo Tovar, although he does have a slightly better OBP with a .306 mark.  Still pretty terrible.  

Aledmys disappearing from the baseball field has actually helped out my collection of Aledmys baseball cards.  Before, last fall, his cards were at least $30 or so.  Now they are $5 on Buy It Now on Ebay.  I'm a little hesitant to even pay that much because I have gotten his cards for less than that just bidding on auctions.  

Not going to weight down a post with too many Aledmys cards, but I have two cards that I have enjoyed more than the others.  Both were steals, compared to last year's prices, not this year's prices....

First up.....

an Allen & Ginter card.  I always love a good Allen & Ginter card.  I especially loved the framed cards out of this set.  I'd always like to have nice autographs, but I will be autographs from the dollar bin if it's on a framed Ginter card.  

Last one.  

Really cool picture on this Stadium Club card which came from the video clip above.  Always a really big fan of these cards too.  On-card autograph, everything about this card is quality.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fightin' Archives

Long ago I often tried to put together team sets of Cardinals cards from those per pack autograph sets.  I think it probably started with the 1999 SP Signature set which had a Musial autograph and also featured the hot rookie prospect of the day, J.D. Drew........

with those two crossed off the list, I was left with tracking down Fernando Tatis and the memorable Chris Haas.  Not much of challenge.  

I went on collecting Cardinals autographs like this for a long time, but at some point I started to loop back around and pick up the players' autographs who ended up on the Cardinals.  I kind of think it was probably some point around 2005 or 2006 when I was really into players like Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds.  Initially it didn't really seem like it was that hard of a challenge.  Aaron Miles, David Eckstein, Juan Encarnacion.....

They all seemed to be fairly inexpensive and easy to track down.  Then I started digging deep.  Have you ever seen a 1999 SP Signature Ron Gant?  I have seen one too, they are expensive.  They also don't pop up that often.  Do I have one?  Nope.  There are other sets where I have expanded out my collection to include players who were not in a Cardinals uniform on their card, but appeared with the team at some point during their career.  

One of my longer running efforts has been tracking down the former Cardinals players in the 2001 Topps Archives set.  Like always, some were easy to find, but others have been really hard.  

Earlier this summer I finally managed to track down a George Hendrick card from the Archives set.  I had been looking for a copy of that card for several years now, but could never find one at a price that I really wanted to pay.  It took time, but it was worth the wait.....

While I was crossing George off of my Cardinals list I also spotted a card that had inadvertently been crossed off my list of cards needed from the 2001 Archives set.  As I recall I had found this particular card at one point, bought it and crossed it off my list, and then was stiffed by the Ebay seller.  I had to double check to make sure it hadn't ended up in one of my autograph boxes in the wrong spot, but after that was ruled out, I went back and looked for another copy of the Curt Simmons autograph.

I found one.  

Now, of course I would always prefer to find cards of a former Cardinals in a uniform with the birds on the bat.  Not always possible though.  In Simmons case, there are actually Cardinals certified autographs of him, but this is a great looking card.  I know the P on his hat looks goofy and out of proportion, but everything else about this card is outstanding.  

You've got the 1951 Topps design, the cool old fashion Phillies uniform (hat doesn't bother me that much, and that cool painted/art card look that appeared on many early 1950s Topps cards.  I am not sure how many times Topps has reprinted different players 1951 Topps cards, but I like that in the 2001 Archives set they used the actual same design, but just left the facsimile signature out of the box in favor of the autograph.  

Most of all I like the Fightin' Phils logo down at the top of the player name plate.  I know that there are people who think that some of the older logos look ridiculous, but I wish teams would bring them back every once in awhile.  Sure the Fightin' Phils logo looks like it might have been designed by a high school kid....

Which brings me to Simmons and the Cardinals.  He was traded over the Cardinals during the 1960 season and had some very good seasons with the Cardinals culminating in helping the 1964 team comeback to overtake the Phillies and defeat the Yankees in the World Series.  Pretty nice player on a very nice piece of cardboard.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Jose DeLeon? Have We Met Before?

Many of the Cardinals teams from my early teen and high school years were fairly hard to watch.  Yet, I still really enjoy collecting many of the players from those teams.  My favorite Cardinals player to collect, Ray Lankford, played the majority of his career during that time.  The talent level on those teams was generally lean, but every once in awhile someone would stop by for a season. Danny Jackson, Andres Galarraga, Gregg Jefferies, and Tom Henke were just a few All-Star caliber player who were subject to the cheapness of August Busch III.

No post of Gregg Jefferies to link to?  I'm on it.

While there were a few good players here and there on those early 1990s Cardinals teams, the vast majority of the roster was filled with all sorts of cast offs.  Who remembers Denny Walling or Dave Collins on the Cardinals?  Darnell Coles?  All bad.

There were some cast offs who faired well with those Cardinals teams.  Bob Tewksbury would probably be the best of the bunch.  He had some rough years with the Cubs and Yankees before landing with the Cardinals.  His 1992 season was downright Maddux-like.  Not joking.  One of the other somewhat successful cast offs was former Pirate and White Sox Jose DeLeon.  

The Cardinals acutally got Jose during the late 80s, his time in St. Louis just spilled over into the early 90s.  

Jose's Cardinals career started out well.  During his first two seasons he won 30 games, finished third in strikeouts in the National League behind and David Cone and Nolan Ryam, and then led the league in Ks the following season in 1989.  DeLeon played three more seasons with the Cardinals and he won 14 games.  That included a 19 loss season, the second of his career, and a season where he won 5 games in 32 starts with an 2.71, or basically Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, or Jose Rijo minus about ten runs.  

Always felt kind of bad for Jose, better teams would have definitely landed him a few more career wins, a little bit better legacy too.  Perhaps if the White Sox could have traded him elsewhere....then I would have missed out on having Jose in my stacks of Cardinals cards.  

Speaking of trades and Jose DeLeon, a brand new player named Jose DeLeon has entered my life, and card collection via a trade.  This new Jose DeLeon came over to the Rays from the Dodgers this past off season.  He's spent some time in Durham, but has really spent most of this season sitting on the disabled list.  Still hasn't stopped me from picking up a few of his cards recently.  

First up is a 2016 Bowman Inception autograph.  I always really loved the Inception brand and have picked up a ton of these cards over the years.  I like the coloring and background on this card, love that it's an on card signature too.  Pretty popular card last year since DeLeon was a Top 100 prospect in most of those publications with top prospect lists.....

I really wanted a Rays autograph of the new Jose DeLeon, but Topps is still putting him in Dodgers uniforms.  In fact, I am pretty sure that he has about twenty Dodgers autographs this year and one Rays autograph.  I ended up with another Dodgers autograph because it looked like this......

Inception was actually switched over from Topps from Bowman this year, they are the same company, but the cards still look really nice.  I kind of dig the lighter backgrounds on this year's set.  I will have to get a Rays Jose DeLeon card sooner than later, in the meantime I hope to see him back on the field sooner than later.  Hope this Jose DeLeon can fair a little better than the other Jose DeLeon in my collection.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Fine Player From The Bull City

Most of my college basketball cards are NC State players, but I picked up an autograph of a local legend this past weekend.  I am not sure quite where John Lucas would rate as a high school player statewide in North Carolina against the likes of Michael Jordan and David Thompson, but I would guess he's got to be pretty high up there.

Lucas starred at Hillside High School in Durham and his jersey is retired there along with former Wake Forest star Rodney Rogers.

Thanks to the internet for the picture.  What in the world is on the display case?  Sigh.  High school kids.  Lucas went on to star at Maryland in college and made the All-American team three teams, first team his junior and senior years, second team during his sophomore year.  His great college career earned him a spot in one of Fleer's Greats sets which featured college basketball players.

Here is the Lucas card featuring the Bull City native in his Terps uniform.

One interesting thing I learned about Lucas while doing a little research for this post is that he was actually the ACC Men's Singles Tennis Champion twice during his college career and made an All-American team along the way too.  He even played a little professional tennis in his spare time on top of his NBA career.  

Lucas had a fourteen year NBA career and has also spent time coaching.  He averaged 10 points per game for his career.  Not really a huge NBA guy, which is why I chose to get a copy of Lucas in his NBA jersey.  Really I would have loved to have found a card of Lucas wearing a Hillside High School jersey, but apparently there is no such card.  Maryland it is.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Venerable Old Card Part 61

I have been looking for a card for a Project Durham Bulls post the last few weeks.  It's a little different set of cards for me, more in the vintage football card department.  Not my usual.  I ended up finding the card, but along the way I found a few other cards of the former Durham Bulls player and manager.  Kind of excited about the whole thing and I learned something new along the way.

Let me introduce you to Clarence "Ace" Parker.  He was the star athlete at Duke University in the mid 1930s.  He played football, basketball, and baseball for the Blue Devils.  Football was his best sport.  In 1935 he was second team All-American.  In 1936 he was a consensus All-American and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.  

In 1937 Parker ended up playing baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics and football for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  His career in professional baseball was extremely short lived.  In two seasons, 1937 and 1938, he played roughly 100 games and batted just .179 with 2 home runs.  While his professional baseball career was less than notable, his professional football career landed him in the Professional Football Hall of Fame.  He played a total of 7 seasons in the NFL, missing 1941-1944 to serve in the Army, and was one of the best passers, runners, and punters in the league.  In 1940 he was the NFL MVP.  

So how does he get to the Durham Bulls?  

After he retired from professional football Parker joined the Chicago Cubs Piedmont League entry in Portsmouth, Virginia as a player.  He spent three years with the Baby Bears Minor League team before returning to Durham to become a player-manager for the Bulls, who were the Tigers Piedmont League team at that time.  He ended up spending 4 seasons with the Bulls before he got the head baseball coaching job at Duke.  

Now, the only baseball item I have really found of Parker are a few random baseballs and a Durham Bulls matchbook from the early 1950s.  I am not really sure how authentic the baseballs are and I am not really digging the whole match book thing.  Which has brought me to track down a football card of the former Durham Bulls manager.  

I found my autograph of Parker for my Durham Bulls post, but I actually ended up picking up an extra card through the whole thing.  I ended up trading with a life long Duke fan who lives locally, loves some of the older college athletes who played nearby, and has a pretty cool collection of some of these players. 

I ended up with this 1975 Fleer Immortal Roll Call card of Ace Parker as an extra.  

The card has a crease, but cannot really complain about free cards ever.   Since I am not really much of football card guy, I am not sure how much I can really tell you about this card outside of the year and manufacturer.   I am pretty sure that the picture is from his days in the NFL, but I am not certain as to what NFL team this would have been back in the 1930s or 1940s.  I have seen a few Duke things with him wearing number 7, but I think they are pictures that people just colored in blue.  Most of the Duke athletics pictures show him with a 34 jersey.  

Definitely a different type of card for my collection that made me step out of my comfort zone a bit to find and track down.  I cannot wait to share the Ace Parker autograph with everyone in the next week or two.  

Darryl Porter. I Mean Darrell Porter.

I like to glance through the Topps Vault page over on Ebay every once in awhile to see if I can find a cool Cardinals or Durham Bulls card.  I have kind of moved on from some of the blank back cards that come out of current releases that I used to pick up the last few years.  No regrets in many cases about owning some cool one of a kind cards of players I really like, especially some of the ones that do not get a ton of cards made.  My blank back Taylor Motter might be one of my favorites....

Pretty sure I never even made a post about this card.  Motter is one of the universally beloved players amongst Durham Bulls fans.  I was so happy to pick up this card.  More recently I have really turned my focus on finding 1980s and 1990s Cardinals stuff on the Topps Vault.  Recently I came across one of the great Postseason actors in Cardinals history.  

1982 World Series MVP Darrell Porter.  

I have bought a few of the photo proof card in the past and really enjoyed go through the different Topps products from that year to match them up to a specific card in a specific set.  For example, I ended up with a Willie McGee photo proof card a few years back.....

which was listed on the Topps Vault Ebay Store as being from 1990.  The photo does not match his 1990 Topps base card....

but it might have been used for his Topps Big card.  Maybe.  

In any case, it was definitely used for his Topps Fan Favorites card in 2003.  

I was looking forward to taking in the same sort of trek with the Darrell Porter card.  Based on the photo posted on the Ebay Store I already had a good idea of where the search was going to take me.  It's not like there were a ton of 1984 Darrell Porter cards.  Here was the listing picture....

It looks a lot like the small corner picture on Porter's 1984 Topps card....

I started collecting in 1983, but 1984 was the first year that I collected the entire year with a realistic chance at assembling an entire set of cards.  I love the design of these cards and they still rank as one of my favorite sets of all-time.  

Well, the package arrived and the photo proof was actually a little disappointing.   It's a teeny tiny little photo of the former catcher.  Maybe because it's a small picture on the card?  I've never tried to mass produce my own baseball card set, so I am not entirely sure why the picture is so small.....

Your guess is as good as mine.  The best part of the card actually ended up being a Topps Company envelope that was stuffed into the package.  

I am not sure what the 1 23/32 number in the corner is exactly, but the 285 is Darrell/Darryl/Daryl's card number in the 1984 Topps set.  I guess this could also be the O-Pee-Chee proof since the top of the envelope has the OPC letter at the top, but the O Pee Chee card is just the same as the Topps card with the exception of the logo?

Anyway, I guess I have a tiny picture of Darrell Porter and a cool Topps envelope where someone could not spell his first name the correct way.  Glad there was someone editing something at Topps back then.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Project Durham Bulls #19 - Jerry Sands

2014 Durham Bulls 

Sands is actually a local player from Smithfield, North Carolina.  He played his high school baseball at Smithfield-Selma and then played for Catawba College afterwards.  The Dodgers drafted Sands in the 25th Round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft.  He made his MLB debut with the Dodgers in 2011 playing in 61 games and posting .253/.338/.389 with 4 home runs, 15 doubles, and 26 RBIS.  He split time between the Dodgers and Triple A in 2012.  After the season he was shipped to the Red Sox in the James Loney for Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez trade.  The Red Sox turned him around to the Pirates a few months later.  At the end of the 2013 season Sands was claimed by the Rays and ended up in Durham playing for the Bulls.  His tenure in Durham lasted just 54 games with the local favorite hitting .268/.352/.474 with 9 home runs, 12 doubles, and 36 RBIs.  He did eventually end up in Tampa for a few weeks, but was claimed by the Indians coming back through waivers.  Sands has bounced around since, but did get back to the Majors last year with the White Sox.  His 2017 has been split between the Giants Double A team in Richmond and Somerset in the Atlantic League.

I feel like half of the baseball card related posts that I read over the summer were of collectors driving around to Wal Marts looking for boxes of Bowman Platinum.  They look like they are probably nice cards, I do see some sticker autographs in there, but I am a huge fan of the original 2010 release.  There were stickers in the 2010 version of Platinum too, but I really like the design of these cards.  Like any Bowman product, at the time it was released bunches of people went gaga over a bunch of the autographs, but over time many have wained.  I don't remember Sands ever really being that huge of a prospect at the time this set released.  Certainly is not at this point, but it's cool to add another autograph to my Durham Bulls collection.  Especially one of a local player.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Still A Really Good College Player.....

I live twenty minutes from NC State, thirty minutes from Duke and UNC, ninety minutes from Wake Forest and East Carolina.  There are a few other Division I school within that radius like Campbell, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte, Elon, and probably some other school that I am not thinking of at the moment.  

There are plenty of great college athletes around these parts who end up playing professional sports.  In the past few months residents of the Triangle, that's the North Carolina nickname for Raleigh-Durham, have seen high end draft picks in the NFL in the person of Mitch Trubisky......

or in the NBA draft with Jayson Tatum.....

and Dennis Smith Jr.......

or in the Major League Draft with J.B. Bukauskas.....

There are also plenty of other local players who were fun to watch while they were in college, but they never really experience much notoriety at the professional level.  One of my favorite NC State basketball players who was there while I was in college was Courtney Fells.  He had some injury problems that made him miss some time, but overall he was a great athlete and really fun to watch.  He made tons of really cool plays like this defensive stop against Duke.....

and Courtney could always dunk.  He was fun to watch in the open court.....

Yes, that was off of a Steph Curry airball.  

Beyond all of the local North Carolina schools having some great talent come through the area, it's also fun to watch all of the other schools in the ACC, or other power five conference, come into town to play their games.  Just like the North Carolina schools, there are plenty of superstar caliber players who go on to enjoy success in professional sports and others who were fun to watch in college, but just don't really go anyway afterwards......

One of my favorite baseball players who fits into the later category, great college player/shaky professional, is actually playing locally this summer for the Brewers A Ball team in the Carolina League.  I first saw former Louisville outfielder Corey Ray while he was playing summer ball with the USA Baseball College team a few summers back.  Seemed like a nice player.  He also appeared locally while playing against NC State, Duke, UNC, and for the ACC Tournament.  The tournament is held at the Durham Bulls stadium.  

The Brewers drafted Ray high in the first round in 2016.  In almost 150 games, Ray has hit .241/.315/.376 with 11 home runs, 5 triples, and 37 doubles.  The extra base hits aren't actually that bad, but that slash line is ugly.  Anyway, all of it has caused some slippage in the price of Corey Ray cards which were a little pricy after he drafted.  

I recently actually picked one of his autographed cards out of last year's Bowman's Best.....

There are several things that I really like about this card.  First, I like the Bowman's Best cards.  Pretty nice design, clean spaces for the players to sign, and a nice on-card signature from the Brewers outfield prospect.  I also the fact that he included his number 2 on the card.  He's wearing that number in the Minors this season, but there is no guarantee that he will have that number once he gets to Milwaukee.  

There is still time for Ray to pull it together, get the Majors, and be a good player.  If he never gets there though, he was still a really good college player.