Monday, April 30, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 30 - Darren Oliver

Darren Oliver was traded to the Cardinals, from the Rangers, in the middle of the 1998 season.  The real return in the trade for the Cardinals was third base prospect Fernando Tatis, but Oliver was advertised as a solid Major League starter.  Todd Stottlemyre was also involved in the trade, so a spot was opened in the rotation, but most of what ailed the late 1990s Cardinals was pitching related.

While he was in St. Louis, Oliver was used as a starting pitcher and managed a 13-13 record in just about a year and a half with the Cardinals.  He had an ERA of 4.26 with the team during both the 1998 and 1999 seasons, and he managed almost 200 innings during his lone full season with the team.  Oliver managed to redefine himself as a relief pitcher the second half of his career, he is left handed, and ended up pitching for twenty years in the Majors.

His final season was spent with the Blue Jays in 2013 at 42 years old.

While he was with the Cardinals, again it was not a really long time, Oliver managed to appear on a very limited number of baseball cards.  Not quite sure how that happened since the late 1990s baseball card scene was bloated with all sorts of different manufacturers who cranked out endless products.  

Two of the Darren Oliver cards are team issued.  One was a stadium giveaway in 1999, which I do not have, but he also appeared in a McDonald's set.  The cards were sold at the different Mickey D's restaurants around metro St. Louis.  

They were really just a knock off of the 1999 Upper Deck MVP set.  In fact, the front of the card appears as an Upper Deck card.  The back of card is the only place where the McDonald's logo appears......

Bottom right corner.  There are not many cards in this set, but this has to be the most under the radar corporate sponsorship for a baseball card set ever.  As a Cardinals fan, it was actually a nice little product since it featured a few different players who did not appear on cards often after joining the team.  Oliver was one, Shawon Dunston was another.  

Outside of the two team issued cards, Oliver only had two other mainstream baseball cards with the Cardinals.  One was in the 1999 Stadium Club set, the other was in MLB Showdown.  Not really into games, so I have a few of these sitting around, just not a substantial number.  Mainly, I have the Cardinals cards since Ray Lankford was in the set.  

Oliver and the Cardinals ran into each other a decade after he left St. Louis.  The Cardinals played the Rangers in the 2011 World Series, Oliver was a relief pitcher for Texas.  Most notable was his role in Game 6 of the Series, when after a Josh Hamilton home run put the Rangers up in the 10th inning, Oliver allowed two runners on to start the inning.  Both runs would end up scoring on a Lance Berkman single after Oliver was pulled from the game. 

A few days before, Oliver had also played a part in the Albert Pujols three home run game in Game 4 of the Series.  He gave up the third and final home run....

It appears that Darren Oliver's biggest role in the history of the Cardinals was giving up a bunch of runs in the World Series years after leaving the team.  He made 40 starts for the Cardinals, which were average at best, but he still help the team win a World Series.  

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Evan Longoria's Tiny Head

I got a really nice card last weekend of former Durham Bulls star Evan Longoria.  It pains me a little bit to say former Ray, or Giants third baseman.  Still in denial.  He will always be a favorite player and I still intend on collecting his cards no matter where he is playing baseball.  My more recent Longoria cards have been more towards the high end of the spectrum, although Longoria cards are not really all that expensive at this point.

This was my last Longoria card......

which was from last year's Five Star set.  

The new Longoria card also comes from a high end product, but it's a set that Topps retired a few years back.  I liked these cards....

out of Topps Sterling.  

These were always attractive looking cards, although I never really liked that they had sticker autographs.  Sterling was always a product that I never actually opened myself, just bought the single cards off of Ebay.  I like the appearance of this Longoria Sterling card, there is just one thing that seems off about this card.  

The autograph is nice, though it's on a sticker, the relic pieces look fine too.  Card design is decent.  However, the picture of Longoria on the top of the card is somewhat ridiculous.  He's tiny.  I almost wonder why Topps even included a picture on this card.  

Was this standard on Sterling cards?  I consulted my card collection for answers.  I found a few.  

Bernie Williams?  Normal.  

Pujols?  Normal.

A-Rod?  Normal.  

Sterling cards from other years?

Normal and......


I understand that the Longoria card has a whole bunch of relics, and an autograph on the card.  The space around all of that stuff is pretty small, but the Sterling Longoria card has to have the smallest head shot of any card that I can remember.

While I was looking through my for my Sterling cards, I actually found another Longoria card with a limited amount of space for the picture....

even a card with a giant letter smacked in the middle of the card has a bigger picture of Longoria than the Sterling card.  

Sure, it's a card with a tiny picture, but in the end a Longoria autograph with a print run of ten is nice no matter how goofy someone at Topps went with the design.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Wolfpack are red. Blue Devils are blue. Tar Heels wear blue too.

Picked up a few new cards of some local players in the past week.  It just so happens that I managed to add one card from each of the local ACC baseball squads.  It was not my original intention to add a card of a player from each of these schools, it just worked out that way.  So, let's start with my beloved Wolfpack.....

This is the best card in this post for obvious reason.  First, it's an NC State player.  Second, it's an NC State player in an NC State uniform.  Third, it's a really nice looking card.

I have added a few Trea Turner Panini cards over the years.  A few of them have been from the USA Baseball sets, while the more recent ones have featured him in the red and white digs from his time in playing for the Wolfpack.  He was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Padres, behind teammate Carlos Rodon, who was viewed as the better at the time.  Turner was an excellent player during his college career.

The Padres traded him to the Nationals while he was a Minor Leaguer.  Still a little confused by that trade in so many ways.

My cool Trea Turner story: Five years ago, while Trea Turner was still in college, he actually favorited one of my tweets where I posted his average and slugging percentage from his summer play with USA Baseball.....

Hopefully, that tweet was liked out of some sort of motivation.  

Let's move on to the Duke card.  I am actually looking to add a few more cards of some of the players who are currently playing for the Blue Devils.  Griffin Conine is probably the biggest name, Jeff's son, but his cards are a little difficult to find.  Currently, Duke is a top ten team, and they have some really talented players on their roster.  That means that they have baseball cards from their days in high school.  

I recently posted about high school kids having their own baseball cards.  I do not get it, but here is the card......

I have seen Herron a few times over the past few years.  I usually make it to at least one Duke baseball game every year, so I have now seen Herron play a few times.  Pretty impressive player who should probably go in the first few rounds of the Major League Draft.  Not an exciting video, but......


he's got a nice swing, just a little short in the power department.  Herron has only hit 2 home runs this year, but he also had an on base percentage of .424 entering this weekend's series against NC State.  That has some value to someone, somewhere.  Hello, Billy Beane.  He also is an outstanding defender in the outfield.  

which brings me to the Tar Heel in my post.  There are few redeeming qualities about the school in Chapel Hill.  Fake classes, tailgating at football games with preppy clothes and martinis, that fake folksy vibe that Roy Williams tries to give off......

How do you feel about UNC, Roy?  

There is no wiggle room for UNC basketball players after they leave school, but there is one former Tar Heel baseball player that I have made some peace with since he entered the pros.  He's a good player, whom I enjoy watching, and has a little personality too.  

Tar Heels card.....

is of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.  While Seager is not quite as popular as his brother, Corey from the Dodgers, he still has had a good career so for in Seattle.  He's entering his eighth season, seventh full, and has hit more than 20 home runs in 6 of those seasons.  In 2014, Seager made the All-Star team and won the American League Gold Glove at third base.  

Again, overlooked all of the time.  I liked his Player's Weekend jersey last year, which made fun of the fact that......

his brother is very popular with baseball fans.  I would agree with Corey being a better player, plus he was never on the UNC baseball team, but Corey is still a very good player in his own right.  I have a few other Kyle Seager autographs in my collection already, so I did not necessarily have to have this card, but when something is a really good deal, and it from a set that I really like, it's hard to pass up.  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Quick By My Standards

I have let some of the different set projects that I have posted in this space linger for a long time, either because I did not complete them quickly, or I just never updated the project to show my progress.  Back at the beginning of February, I made a post about putting together a set of the 1983 style cards in that are included in packs of this year's Topps base set.

I started with 8 of the 100 cards, last check in I was down to just 27 cards.  Last week that number was all the way down to 2 cards.  A few days ago in the mail I got a bubble mailer with......

the two cards that I was still missing.  I am crossing this card set off after just two and a half months.  Really pretty good considering that I did not open a box, or significant number of packs.  Almost all 92 cards that I was missing when I started were picked up in trades, or from buying small lots, no singles, off of EBay.

Yes, the set is finished, but I am also going to leave the door open to find more of these cards when Topps releases Series 2 at some point this summer.  There were some things that I really enjoyed about this project.  First, the 1983 sets were the first cards in my collection.  I started opening packs of cards at some point that summer.  I have always loved these cards.  Second, there were plenty of players that I enjoy collecting on the checklist.....

a few Cardinals, a few former Durham Bulls, and also a few players I saw while they were in college.  The Carlos Martinez card is probably my favorite Cardinal.   Also plenty of older players in the set too, which is my lone, small criticism of this set.  It would be nice if the cards of the retired players included on the checklist had a connection to the actual year of the card design.  Might have said this in another post.  My three favorite older cards in the set.....

probably have to be the three shown above since they were actually around and playing in 1983. 

All three were younger players at this point, but they still were pretty impactful that season.  Especially Ripken, considering the final play of the 1983 season was a soft line out to him, which ended the World Series.  

 There were plenty of good players who were active during the 1983 season, eager to see what Topps comes up with in the next batch of cards in Series 2.  I'd be excited to see a Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, or a Willie McGee.  Doubtful I will see a McGee, but a Gwynn in some brown, orange, and yellow Padres digs would be sweet.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

I Love The 1990 Cardinals Part 29 - Mark Whiten

The title of the post says that I am writing about Mark Whiten.  If you watched baseball during the 1990s, Mark Whiten's entire legacy is remembered by one game against the Reds in 1993.  He hit four home runs, drove in 12 runs, and earned the nickname "Hard Hittin Mark Whiten".  Let's just get this out of the way......

The Cardinals during the first half of the 1990s were able to bring two pretty good outfield prospects, in the persons of Bernard Gilkey and Ray Lankford, up from the Minors to replace the Vince Coleman and Willie McGee.  The pair were pretty exciting to watch and were branded as the future of the franchise.  

However, the team did not have a long-term third outfielder.  The team had Felix Jose for a few years, he was traded to the Cardinals from the A's for Willie McGee, but he was not a very consistent player.  Jose also had some unique antics, conversations with the Gatorade come to mind.  The Cardinals shipped Felix to the Royals prior to the 1993 in exchange for Gregg Jefferies, and then picked up Mark Whiten from Cleveland for Mark Clark.  

Whiten spent two seasons with the Cardinals.  If you look at his back of the baseball card stats from 1993 you could easily get the impression that the guy was a good hitter.  That season he hit 25 home runs, drove in 99 runs, stole 15 bases, and scored more than 80 runs.  Not bad numbers considering the early part of the 1990s were not the most talented Cardinals teams.  

In 1994, Whiten hit some more.  If you look at his splits though, month to month, he was rather streaky and inconsistent, which is sort of how I remember him.  Sure, he could get into one every once in awhile, but ask any Cardinals fan from the 1990s about him, and once they get past the four home run game they will probably tell you all about his defense.  More specifically, he limited base runners to one base at a time.  There were not a lot of first to third base runners on balls hit to right field the two years he was on the Cardinals.  

A pair of former Pirates coaches and a former Cardinals manager spent time raving about Mark Whiten's throwing arm back in a 1994 Los Angeles Times article about the former right fielder.  Two of them compared his arm to a certain strong armed outfielder.  

Pirates coach Rich Donnelly:

"We were in St. Petersburg in spring training, and he went into the corner for a ball and made a 300-foot throw, no hops, and nailed Carlos Garcia at third.  He eggs you on. He'll lope after a ball to see if he can get you to run, picks it up . . . and bam, you're dead."

Another Pirates coach in the mid 1990s, Tommy Sandt, said:

"If (Roberto) Clemente had a better arm than his, I'd like to have seen it. I mean, how good can you throw it?"

and former Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst, who worked as a part-time coach with the Cardinals throughout the 1990s, agreed with Sandt's evaluation of Whiten's throwing arm:  

"As far as arm strength goes . . . it's a tough call between Clemente and Whiten."

Onto the baseball cards.  

Since I got the 4 home run game out of the way at the top of the post, mentioned it again somewhere under the first baseball card, I will visit the topic once more with the first of my favorite Whiten Cardinals cards.  

Whiten was on the Red Sox during the 1995 season, but Upper Deck gave him a Cardinals card in their Collectors Choice set.  If you weren't around for the 1990s, it was the company's inexpensive card brand, generally sold at retail stores.  Surprisingly, Whiten does not have a ton of cards that celebrate his four home run game against the Reds.  

The highlight type cards in this Collector's Choice set celebrated the big moments and achievements from the first half of the decade, which included Whiten's 4 home run game.  Did Topps ever make a highlight card for Whiten?  Can't remember every seeing one, but I know that as soon as I typed that and hit publish, I would probably be proven wrong.  


There are dozens of non-descript Mark Whiten cards from the mid 1990s.  Many of them do little to distinguish themselves from the rest.  Whiten's one well known feat was not enough to push him into many of the nice premium products, but Topps did put him into the 1994 Finest set.  While he was not an All-Star, more like the third best outfielder on the team, he was still a better option for Topps than Todd Zeile or Luis Alicea.  

Not into the Christmas look either, but the green border actually looks good on this card with the red border, and the red on Whiten's Cardinals uniform.  

Last one.  

Finally a card with a picture of Mark Whiten playing defense.  The best part of this card is the fact that it not only shows Whiten making a nice catch in front of an outfield wall, but flip the card over to the back and.....

we've got some base runner who is about to get thrown out.  I specifically tried to find a card of Whiten playing in the field, it took awhile to find, should have just gone straight to the Upper Deck cards.  I knew I was going to find one there.  

I leave you some homework:

Repeat after me: Mark Whiten had a great arm.  One of the best ever.  

The next time some baseball fan mentions the fact that he hit four home runs in a game, cut them off, and start talking about him holding base runners to single bases.  

A song from 1995 on my IPod, it's not a Kurt Cobain cover, other way around....

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Prospect and A Hall Of Famer

I recently had a chance to pick up a really nice looking card of Cardinals pitching prospect Alex Reyes.  Two years ago he was one of the better pitching prospects in the game, but had an elbow injury and missed last season.  Reyes is going to miss the first month or two of the 2018 season, but he should be back at some point late in May, or early in June.  

Alex Reyes is one of those prospects that has tons and tons of baseball cards.  There were a lot of cards made of him last year, this year has been a little slower.  Card companies have moved on to other prospects, but their are still some nice cards of Reyes floating around.  I recently was able to pick up a really sharp looking Reyes card from a regular trading partner.  

A look at the card......


Five Star is a really high end product with some really nice features, but luckily the prospect cards in the set are really affordable.  This card from the 2017 edition has an excellent design.  I like the dark grey in the background combined with the bright color picture of Reyes, and the signature in silver pen.  I know that this card does not have the lowest serial number of the colored cards that are in Five Star, but in my opinion this is probably the best looking looking of those parallels.  

Nothing like an orange Cardinals card.  

Reyes was a tremendous talent before he injured his elbow.  Hopefully he can bounce back and regain his form from the end of the 2016 season when the Cardinals used him down the stretch.  

I also managed to pick up another Cardinals card while I was trading for the Reyes card.  Not quite who you would think of when I say Hall of Famer and Cardinal in the same sentence.  It was still an attractive, nice looking card, and it was a really affordable card.  

This is from the Postseason version of the Topps Archives Signature product.  I am not quite sure why Topps made a regular season and a Postseason version of this product last year.  Although, if you were going to pick a good moment in Dennis Eckersley's brief career as a Cardinal, the 1996 Postseason is a good place to look.  

Eck pitched in a total of 6 games that year in the NLDS and NLCS for a Cardinals team that came within a game of the World Series.  He totaled 7 innings in those 6 games, did not give up a run, and struck out 6 batters.  Easily his best moment, since the back of the baseball card stats for the regular season with the Cardinals were not up to the standards he set while he was pitching with the A's and others.  

Considering these cards come one to a box, which cost somewhere between $40 and $50, I was more than happy to find a Cardinals card from the set for a fraction of the cost.  The scratches on the scan are all on the case and the card is serial numbered, but the numbering is in a weird spot next to Eck's cleat on the right side of the card.  

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Legend Of Bud "Chuck" Norris

I do not care about Chuck Norris.  I do not care about Chuck Norris jokes.  I do not care about Chuck Norris movies.  I do not care about Chuck Norris anything.  I have never had much use for anything Chuck Norris outside of his brief cameo at the end of Dodgeball.

I guess the general consensus is that Chuck Norris is some sort of bad ass.....

which is why Cardinals fans gave the nickname "Chuck" to pitcher Bud Norris while he was pitching for the Houston Astros earlier in his career.  He was a bad ass, at least when he played against the Cardinals.  

The overall numbers for Norris against the Cardinals have come down a bit over the years since he left the Astros and spent time with an array of other teams, but here is a sampling.  In 2009, his rookie year, he pitched one game against the Cardinals and two hit them over seven innings.  

In 2010, Bud "Chuck" went 3-1 against the Cardinals.  It seemed to continue on for awhile, but eventually he left the Astros and started wandering around to a bunch of different teams.  I had actually completely lost track of him until he ended up on the Angels last year.  I watch for Albert Pujols at times.

I was surprised to see Bud "Chuck" Norris closing out games for the Halos.  Even more surprised to see that he was actually good at closing games.  

Even more surprised when the Cardinals signed him this offseason to close games.  


So, I guess that Bud Norris being a Cardinal means that I need some sort of cool baseball cards of him for my collection. I flipped through some boxes of cards and found a few Bud Norris cards, but nothing that was really special....


I was actually half way expecting there to be zero cool Bud Norris cards.  Just a bunch of base cards from Topps products from the past decades.  This is 95% true, but there are a few exceptions.  I was able to find one of those recently......

Should have guessed that he would have a Bowman autograph.  This card is from the 2008.  I generally like these Bowman autographs, but this one is a little bit shaky for a few reasons.  

First, the yellowing on the bottom is not just from the scan.  It's actually on the copy of the card that I own.  I have never seen this sort of yellowing on a Bowman Chrome card.  I went back and looked at some of my 2008 Bowman cards, cannot find another card with the yellowing at the bottom.  

I thought that the yellowing might be from being in a smoker's house, I do not smoke myself, but a previous owner might have done so.  The card really does not smell smoky though.  My second problem with this card is a design feature.  

That cheesy Certified Autograph Issue graphic in the background.  I get why it's there, but there are many places that Topps could have placed that on this card besides smack dab in the middle of the picture.  Should be off on the side somewhere.  

The card is slightly imperfect, but I am guessing that Bud Norris will likely only be on the Cardinals for a year.  In the long run, I will probably remember him best for his Bud "Chuck" Norris performances against the Cardinals from earlier in his career.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Project Durham Bulls #33 - Casey Gillaspie

2016-2017 Durham Bulls 

Gillaspie was selected by the Rays in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Wichita State.  While in college, he excelled as a hitter in several wood bat summer leagues, as well as having a great junior season with the Shockers.  Gillaspie reached Triple A with the Bulls in the middle of the 2016 season after starting the season with Montgomery in the Southern League.  In 85 games with the Rays Double A team he hit .270/.387/.454 with 11 home runs and 21 doubles earning him a promotion up to the Bulls.  Gillaspie continued to hit well during the second half of 2016 in Durham.  He had 22 extra base hits with a .307/389/.520 slash line in just 47 games in Triple A.  Gillaspie returned to the Bulls in 2017, but struggled at the plate, as his average sunk below .230 and his on base dipped below .300.  The Rays traded Casey Gillaspie at the end of July for White Sox relief pitcher Dan Jennings.  The White Sox stuck him with their Triple A team in Charlotte, where he has remained since the trade.  

Gillaspie first appeared in the 2014 Bowman Draft set, but did not sign anything in the set.  This 2015 Bowman Chrome card was his first licensed autograph card.  There are a bunch of Leaf products from 2014 with Gillaspie autographs, but they have the logos airbrushed off of the card.  A couple of the Leaf cards have cool patch pieces or inscriptions, but outside of that there is little to make them desirable cards.  Considering that the card market has not yet adjusted to the fact that Gillaspie seems like a AAAA player, many of his autographed cards still sell for upwards of $10, I went with this Bowman Chrome card simply based on the fact that it was the nicest card I could find for less than $5.  He actually has some sweet Panini cards which have him in his college Wichita State uniform, but those are in the group of cards that are north of $10.   

Saturday, April 7, 2018

How Do High School Kids Have Baseball Cards?

A few years back I started collecting USA Baseball autographs.  The first set of exclusive USA Baseball products that I added to my collection were in the 2004 Upper Deck USA Baseball product.  The cards featured professional players who had played with the USA Baseball program at some point, either on a college team, or an Olympic team.  The boxes and packs were cheap, the autographs were a little bit cheaper than some of the products with the same players.  I have a big stack of these cards and enjoyed finding these cards many years ago....

Since 2004, I have been surprised at the places that baseball cards of amateur players have gone.  For example, I started following the USA Baseball College Team shortly after the 2004 Upper Deck set came out, and I had moved to North Carolina, and was surprised to see some of these players start to show up in baseball card products with autographs.  

I saw Tanner Houck throw a no-hitter against the Cuban National Team a few summers ago.  He has spent the last few years pitching for the University of Missouri.  You know, as an amateur, non-paid student athlete.  Yet, he's had dozens of baseball cards made over the years.  I know that the players likely do not get paid, and that's what makes it an okay thing to do, but still I am just surprised.  

Which brings me to the high school kids with baseball cards.  I enjoy following the college baseball scene here in North Carolina and I am always appreciative of the fact that I get to see a fair number of Major League players before I see them for a second time as Minor Leaguers, or when they eventually reach a Major League team.  

I first found the whole high school card thing a few years back with NC State pitcher Tommy DeJuneas.  He was a nice college pitcher, got drafted by the Cleveland Indians, but also had a baseball card as a high school in the Leaf Perfect Game set.  

The first time I saw these cards a few years back I had to sort of do a double take.  College cards, I kind of see it for players in the USA Baseball program.  High School kids?  I know they are really good high school kids, but still we are talking about high school kids.  

So, here we are in 2018, and my alma mater NC State is having a great year on the baseball diamond.  They are ranked in the top 10 in every major poll and have a ton of talent on the roster.  So, I am out here trying to find baseball cards of college kids from back when they were in high school.  One of my favorite current Wolfpack players, and leading home run hitters in the NCAA, is Brett Kinneman.  He's not super high on draft lists like Clemson's Seth Beer, but he's got some serious pop in his bat.  


So, I checked Ebay, and sure enough, Brett Kinneman is a high school kid with a baseball card.  

Pride of West York High School in York, Pennsylvania.  Something still feels really weird about buying cards of players who are not being paid, and who were 17-18 at the time that their cards were produced.  Weird enough, I have actually found a few other NC State players with cards in these Perfect Game sets, as well as a few different Duke and UNC players too.  While I would prefer to own a nice Minor League, or Major League card of these players, they are not at that level yet.  Further, these Perfect Game cards are also fairly cheap.  

Friday, April 6, 2018

When Prospects Become Utility Players....

I had made a run on some Daniel Robertson cards a few years back in anticipation of his arrival with the Durham Bulls.  The A's traded the middle infielder to the Rays for Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist.  At the time, Robertson had just completed A Ball in the A's organization and was considered a top 100 prospect across the board by, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus.  While he was in A Ball Robertson hit .310/.402/.471 with 15 home runs, 37 doubles, and drove in 60 runs.  Sounds worthy of some notoriety, especially given that he was just 20 at the time.

I went out and started putting together a little collection of Robertson cards.  He had several in various different Bowman products while he was in Oakland.  My two favorite Robertson cards at that time were his 2015 Bowman Inception card.....

because I really like looks of this set.  I am not sure about that face he is making on the card, but it's still a well designed set with nice card stock.  I also own a copy of his Bowman Chrome rookie card....

which is not quite as nice to look at as the Inception card, but these always seem like good cards to hang on to when you are doing a little prospecting.  

Three years later Robertson has spent a season with the Durham Bulls in 2016 and played most of the 2017 season in Tampa on the Rays roster.  He's been through all of those hoops players jump through when they get to the Majors...first game, first hit, first home run...

and all of this time I have been fairly quiet about Robertson baseball cards.  They are out there, it's not like he's disappeared from sets.  It's more about the fact that Robertson has gone from being a Top 100 prospect who was traded for a player like Ben Zobrist, to a player who is on the Rays roster just because he is versatile.  

Daniel Robertson is a utility player.  His .200 batting average and 5 career home runs suggest that this is likely going to be his role as long as he is employed as a Major League baseball player.  That's not always a bad thing, every team needs these types of players and they can be fun players to collect.  

I have several utility types that have been favorite players to collect at different points of my times.  Since I am a Cardinals fan who grew up in the 1980s/1990s you should probably be able to guess my original utility player without reading any further, because every 1980s Cardinals fan loves Jose Oquendo..... 

who was dubbed "The Secret Weapon" by former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog.  If you watched the Cardinals in the late 1980s, you knew Jose Oquendo was showing up at some point, you just did not always know where and when he was getting into the game.  He had some big moments for the team too, like his Game 7 home run against the Giants in the 1987 National League Championship Series.....

was the probably the most memorable.  Topps made a complete set of Oquendo cards in their Archives set a few years back with him playing each of the nine different positions.  Some of the pictures do not really fit, the card above is a first base card even though he's either playing short or second, but it was still a really nice collection of cards to assemble.  

Jose had some nice years, but he was truly a light hitting infielder.  Still a fun player to collect and very popular with Cardinals fans.  

As far as the Durham Bulls go, I do have a pretty good collection of Ben Zobrist cards, but I think he is in a different category of "utility" player then the other players I am using in this post.  He does play all over the place, but when you're making multiple All-Star teams and winning taking home World Series MVP Awards, you are probably your own category of utility player.  

Prior to blogging, my interest had started to wain a bit by the time I had starting writing in this space, I did collect Sean Rodriguez cards.  He played for the Rays for a few years after being traded there from the Angels in exchange for Scott Kazmir.  The time with the Rays included a stop over or two in Durham.  

I even saw him hit the Bull, win steak, with a home run a few years ago..... 

Sean Rodriguez does not have a ton of cards for a current day player, which includes a very limited number of appearances as an autograph signer.  Not that they are expensive when you find them....

or anything that would make him difficult to collect.  

Which brings me back to Robertson.  For whatever reason, there are companies that are still making nice baseball cards of the former Durham Bulls middle infielder.  I guess I could look into collecting a Cardinals utility player, but it appears that there are not many Greg Garcia baseball cards....

and I really do not like him anyway.  He's like the second coming of Daniel Descalso, which is not a very lovable player, nor fun to collect.  I actually enjoy watching Daniel Robertson play for the Rays.....

and I am going to go ahead and pick up a few of his cards this year.  So far the past two months, I have added two of his cards and spent a grand total of $5.  $3 of the $5 was for shipping the cards.  

Here's what I picked up.

This card is actually from last year's Topps Update set.  It seems that I skipped over that product.  Not sure about all of the stuff that is going on around the border of the card, but since I bascially paid a dollar for this card I am just going to focus on the fact that it is autographed and has a picture of Daniel Robertson.  Sterile card design be damned.  

Again, I am focused on the autograph and the fact that Robertson is on the card.  I do not even know where to start with that Promising Pros script up at the top of the card.  Looks like some sort of 1980s television graphic.....

of some kind.  The word "Promising" makes me lean more game show.  

Anyway, more Robertson cards to come as the summer goes along regardless of whether he is hitting .220, or not.  So far, five games into the season, he's actually hitting .250 with 5 walks in 13 plate appearances.  Hopefully the rash of walks won't push his cards up too high.  

Sunday, April 1, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 28 - Mike Gallego

There are tons of players who made brief appearances with the Cardinals during the 1990s.  Several of the those players came over with Tony LaRussa from the A's when he took over the manager's position before the 1996 season.  When I look at the Cardinals rosters from 1996 and 1997 there are literally a dozen different players who could fit into that category.  I have covered a few of them in previous 1990s Cardinals posts, the most prominent of them being Dennis Eckersley.  

Others are a little less well known.  

This week's 1990s Cardinals is probably a little bit more well known by A's fans than by those in St. Louis.  Mike Gallego only played 78 games for the Cardinals over two seasons, but LaRussa used him frequently during the team's National League Championship Series run during 1996.  His career slash line for the Cardinals stands at just .199/.254/.220 with only 4 doubles.  No triples and no home runs.  

Prior to his time with the Cardinals he played for three of LaRussa's World Series teams in Oakland.  He appeared on the 1988, 1989, and 1990 World Series teams.  Gallego's best postseason performance took place in 1990 when the A's swept past the Red Sox and into the World Series. 

Gallego spent a few years with the Yankees before he rejoined the A's for one more season in 1995.  The Cardinals signed in January of 1996.  LaRussa loves his utility players and Gallego seemed to fit the bill for the Cardinals.

For a player who barely appeared for the Cardinals, the card manufacturers got the number of Gallego cards with the Cardinals just right.  There are three of them in a Cardinals uniform, but I only have two of them.  If you really want a good Gallego card consider one from earlier in his career.  While most of his early cards are after thoughts to other A's players like Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, his 1989 Upper Deck card is somewhat legendary.....

Mainly because it is one of the cards with a reversed photo.  Gallego's photo reversal is more difficult to spot than some of the other ones in the set since you cannot see the writing on the front of his jersey, or his uniform number, but he is a left handed thrower on the card.  

On to his Cardinals cards.  Up first, is his first Cardinals card.  

This is a Spring Training photo with the red jersey on during a game.  This is a Leaf Signature card, which makes it somewhat cool, but it's also one of the cards from that set that you can find for $1.50 on Ebay or COMC.  Gallego has a nice signature, so there is that.  Really, if I had to make a Mike Gallego autograph I would put it in one of those Topps Archives sets and package it around some other 1990s A's players.  I'm sure someone in the Bay Area would love to have a certified autograph of him.  At least more than Cardinals fans love this autographed card of him.

Last Gallego card.  

The old Spanish-English Pacific sets.  This is from the 1997 Crown Collection set.  If I had taken a few seconds to scan the back of the card you would find it written in Spanish.  I like this card because it feels like Gallego is really short here.  He's listed at 5'8 on the back of his baseball card and on his profile over at Baseball Reference, but I am guessing that they might have measured him with his hat on while he was also wearing his cleats.  

I searched for photo evidence of his true height by comparing him to a larger Oakland Athletic player from the late 1980s, or the early 1990s.  My first thought was McGwire, but this picture does not really offer any help....

but he is clearly a lot shorter than McGwire.  My second thought was Canseco, although he's shorter than McGwire, he is still a large individual.  This is what I found.....

George Bush, Barbara Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Mike Gallego, Rick Honeycutt, and Jose Canseco all in front of an Orioles banner.  Why was this not a baseball card?  I feel like someone really missed a golden opportunity here.

That last photo is actually better than any of the Cardinals cards of Mike Gallego.  I am missing a card stadium giveaway of Gallego from 1996.  I have single cards from that set, but not the whole thing.  Not going out of my way to find it either.