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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Project Durham Bulls #41 - Mike Mordecai



1990-1991 Durham Bulls 


Background
Mordecai was a collegiate standout at South Alabama and was drafted in the 6th Round of the MLB Draft by the Braves in 1989.  His first season in the Minors was split between the Braves low A team and Double A team, but ended up being sent to Durham for his first full season in 1990.  I am not quite sure why he repeated Durham again in 1991.  He had a .280/.379/.406 slash line with the Bulls in 1990, but he did only appear in 72 games.  Perhaps an injury.  His 1991 season with the Bulls was not nearly as good as his first, but the Braves promoted Mordecai to Double A the following season.  Mordecai played a few games for the Braves in 1994 and became a full time utility player for the team starting in 1995.  He was released by the Braves during the 1997 off season and ended up signing with the Expos.  Eventually, Mordecai was traded from the Expos to the Marlins with Carl Pavano for Cliff Floyd.  Mordecai appeared in Major League games through the 2005 season.  He dabbled with coaching in the Minors and at the high school level for a few years before taking a coaching job with the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Card- 
Mid 1990s player.  What sets are you going to find their autograph in?  Leaf Signature is one of the best bets.  The Bulls had quite a few players from their early 1990s and late 1980s teams appear in this set, along with the Donruss Signature set.  There are a decent amount of former Braves players from this era who went through Durham, but a fair number of those players do not have an autograph available.  I am actually sort of surprised that someone had made an autographed card of Mike Mordeacai.  It's not like there are a lot of Mike Mordecai autographs in general.  With all of that said, this is a great set of cards.  The design is fairly simple, lots of clear space at the bottom of the card with an autograph, and we were in an era of cards with sticker autographs.  

Monday, October 29, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 50- 1992 Pacifc Cardinals 100th Anniversary Set

I am actually going to split this 1992 Cardinals 100th Anniversary set and make it two different posts.  Just a little primer.  The Cardinals issued a set of cards with Pacific that were sold at area McDonald's restaurants during that summer.  I believe the packs might have been a dollar, roughly in line with the cost of Upper Deck at the time, and can still be found around today.  The entire set is only 55 cards with a definite slant towards the modern players.

Just flipping through the cards is a little like the scene in The Wizard of Oz after the house lands in Oz and Dorthy walks out the front door into a world of color.


The first twenty cards are black and white.  The twenty-first card is Red Schoendienst, every card after with the exception of Enos Slaughter is in color.  Not sure why Pacific did not find a color photograph of Slaughter, or just move his card up in the set.  Small things.  

This is the front design of the card.  




and the back of the card.....




I like how the stats are split between the Cardinals and their career numbers.  Gives you a good idea about how much they actually played with the team.  There are players in the set who are truly great players from their time with the Cardinals, like Musial who played his entire career with the Cardinals.  Other players are in for short term contributions to really good teams.  

For example.....

 


Grover Cleveland Alexander appears in the set, but he only played on the Cardinals during the last four years of his career.  He spent 9 years with the Cubs and 8 years with the Phillies.  During his 8 years with the Phillies he won 190 games.  Do the math.  He won 30 games three years in row. No, he didn't start every other game, more like a four man rotation.  

Alexander's Cardinal heroics took place in the 1926 World Series where he helped the team win its first World Series title against a heavily favored Yankees team.  He led the Cardinals get back to the World Series again in 1928, although the Yankees got the better of things that year and took home the pennant.  

I wasn't around for the 1926 World Series, but his pitching must have been pretty impressive since it's half of his Hall of Fame plaque.  



I guess all of that is a good reason to give him a card in this set too.  

So, I am going to file the Alexander and Bottomley cards as background on the set and post a few other cards from the black and white section of the Cardinals 100th Anniversary set.  Next week, a few of the modern players.  




First, I am going with Dizzy Dean.  He was the pitching star of the Gashouse Gang teams in the 1930s, which won the 1934 World Series against the Tigers.  Dean is in the Hall of Fame, his number is retired by the Cardinals, and won the 1934 National League MVP.  He seems like he should be a big deal, but his career was actually really short.  In all, he pitched in 12 different season, but only six of them were full seasons.  

Still better than Jack Morris.  

He ended up going into broadcasting.  He was on the air for awhile, but he butchered the English language while speaking.  Poet Ogden Nash once included Dean in a poem about his favorite baseball players and gave a nod to his poor grammar:

From "Line-Up For Yesterday"

D is for Dean
The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who's the tops?
Said correctly, I is


Next.  



Hornsby was the first superstar player for the Cardinals.  He led the National League in batting seven different times and took home the 1925 MVP Award.  He played on the 1926 Cardinals team which captured the franchise's first World Series pennant.  It just so happened that he also was the manager of the 1926 Cardinals.  

I am almost certain that the picture on this card is some sort of arranged photo.  It's at least really odd that he is catching a baseball in front of another baseball game in the background if it's not a staged photgraph.  I am not sure about the photo stylings of the 1920s and 1930s though. 




The Big Cat played his first few season with the Cardinals, but ended up on the Giants and Yankees after returning home from World War 2.  When I was a kid my parents bought us a VCR when we moved to St. Louis, somewhere in the 1984 or 1985 range.  One of the movies we owned was a history of the Cardinals, which briefly mentioned Mize as the holder of the Cardinals single season home run record with 43.  Seemed pretty important and stuck out in my mind, because in the mid 1980s it was unimaginable that any Cardinals player was ever going to hit that many again.  

Interestingly, he's still in the top 10, sixth, on the single season home run leaders for the franchise.  The five seasons that have past his 43 home runs all belong to either Mark McGwire or Albert Pujols.  

Big Mac passed the Big Cat in July of 1998 to break the franchise record.  



McGwire's 1998 season is now obviously the new record.  Doubtful that anyone breaks it.  




I like this card because of the picture.  Choking up quite a bit there.  Huggins played in the aughts and teens for the Cardinals and Reds.  Love the Cardinals logo on the sleeve of his jersey too.  Jon Hamm, actor and Cardinals fan, frequently gets on television while wearing Cardinals hats.  This older Cardinals logo frequently appears.....




Much more important as a manager.  He worked as the Cardinals skipper for a few seasons before moving on to the Yankees where he won three pennants and coached some guys named Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.  

Two more.  




Another Gashouse Gang player.  He spent most of his career with the Giants, but ended up on the Cardinals at the end of his career as a player/manager.  Later, he became a member of the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee where he elected a bunch of his friends to the Hall of Fame.  Bill James has written a few different pieces on the damage that Frisch did to the Hall.  Many of the friends do not belong.  For example, Chick Hafey long time Cardinals and Reds outfielder was put into the Hall by the Veterans Committee under Frisch, but his WAR and Peak7 WAR are in line with Greg Vaughn and B.J. Surhoff.  

Last one.  



Marty Marion was a defensive whiz in the 1940s.  He played on three different World Series teams with the Cardinals in 1942, 1944, and 1946.  He actually won the 1944 National League MVP in 1944.  His offensive numbers were not that great, not to mention that Stan Musial hit .347 that season.  Kind of cool that a defense first player won an MVP award.  Sure people today would flip out.  If there had been Gold Gloves in the 1940s, he likely would have had a few.  

Looking at the stadium in the background, this has to be a Spring Training photo.  Maybe the 1940s version of photo day.  More of these cards next week.  



Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Lazy Morning

It was a really busy week.  No time for baseball cards.  I slept in the last two days, my wife made a good breakfast, and I spent time time with the littles this morning.  I am sitting in my office watching episodes of Tiny Desk Concerts and looking at some the new cards that showed up in my mail recently.  

If only there were more time for baseball cards.  

There is always time for cards on a lazy morning.  

First up, I picked up another Anthony Banda card about two weeks back.  Weird thing is that I got it off of Ebay, half asleep, I did not realize that I bought it from my local card shop.  Probably could have saved myself a little shipping and them an EBay fee.  Not my finest moment.  




Banda has been my Durham Bulls player of choice this season.  He was not on the team long before the Rays called him up to the Majors, but tore up his elbow and ended up missing the rest of the season.  Last season, Anthony Banda pitched for the Diamondbacks and was traded to the Rays for Steven Souza.  A huge chunk of his Topps cards have still had him a Diamondbacks uni.  Better than some bad airbrushing.  

The coloring of the card feels really off.....


It's in the colorized movie neighborhood.  

I also added a few more Kellogg's cards from 1983 to help out with my set.  I will have more of these later in the week......




These were three that I needed for my set.  Love the Greg Minton card with the orange Giants jersey and cool mustache.  Moves me a little closer to finishing off my set.  No time for checklists this morning, but I am in good shape with finishing this off soon.  

I also got a big envelope of random cards.  A thank you for helping out another collector with some cards for a set.  It's hard to post all the cards from a big random envelope, but two stood out to me.  With the 1983 Kellogg's set being close to completion, both are candidates to be projects over the last two months of the year.  




There were actually four of these in the package, but I have enjoyed the 1983 Kellogg's set, so the 1982 version would probably be fun too.  I am actually a lot further along, starting point wise, then I would have imagined before I went to look.  The time spent looking is also part of the reason you're only getting two cards out of a big envelope.   Roughly 50% is already here.  

I don't love this scan, but these cards are hard.  




The last few Denny's sets were actually pretty nice.  This is from the 1997 set, which has a SportsFlix kind of design.  Not a very big set, not hard to find the cards, and most are inexpensive.  Again, this is a set that own a good chunk of already, might be fun to finish off.  

Monday, October 22, 2018

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 49 - Stan Musial

I know Musial's last season was in 1963.  If you had asked me that question after 1988, I for sure would have known the answer since Topps gave him a Turn Back The Clock card in that year's set.  Pretty sure that this was my first Musial card.

 


Not many cheap Musial cards hanging out at the baseball card shops in St. Louis during the late 1980s.  So, this Topps card was as good as it got until the 1990s.  

There are many things that the 1990s got right on baseball cards.  One of the most important in my opinion is the reappearance of retired players.  How many brand new cards did Stan Musial get during the 1980s?  Not many.  In making this post, I had to narrow down a huge long list of different sets he appeared in during the 1990s just to get it down to a few favorites.  Even more Musial cards have been released over the nearly twenty years since the 1990s ended.  

I know there are modern collectors who get a little annoyed with the older players popping up, but it's a great way to introduce younger collectors to the older players and Hall of Famers.  Also a great way to create some inexpensive cards of players who have outrageously priced vintage cards.  Some of them are really nice looking, well designed cards too.  

Here are a few of my favorite Musial cards from the 1990s.  




First up is a card from the Cardinals 100th Anniversary set.  I am actually going to do a 1990s Cardinals post on this set, not to give away too much, but it was a small set that Pacific put together for the team.  The cards came in packs and were sold at McDonalds.  I managed to put together a set during the summer of 1992.  You can still find the packs floating around, not expensive.  Fun times.  

I like this Pacific Musial card.  Love the batting stance, one of the most identifiable things about Musial.  



If you have never been to a Cardinals game, he's got a giant statue outside of Busch Stadium with his distinct stance.  Not sure if people still do this at the new Busch Stadium, but back in the day at the previous Busch Stadium everyone used to make the Musial statue a meeting place before the game.  Sort of a zoo.  I preferred the Gas House Gang flag behind Stan, off to the left with the red and green flags.  

Old picture.  The card is seriously great, so is the set.  Check them out.  




Musial also appeared in more mainstream sets.  This Score card was one of the first that I remember seeing, which was in the 1992 product.  The card was part of a small little insert set that Score stuck into packs that featured Musial, Yaz, and Mantle.  There were autographed versions of these cards, but the fifteen year old me just got the regular base card.  I wish the picture had the classic Musial batting stance, obviously getting ready to hit here, or he's taking a pitch.

The adult version of me should track down a copy of the autograph.  One of the few older Musial certified autographs missing from my collection.

Twoish more.



In 1999, Fleer decided to use Stan Musial on the packaging for their flagship base set.  It was during those years it was called Fleer Tradition instead of just Fleer.   I was surprised at the time.  Although, the packing also featured J.D. Drew.  In 1999, baseball people were pretty sure that J.D. Drew was going to be the next Mickey Mantle/Stan Musial/Great Generational Hall of Fame player.  He ended up being a good player, but I am not sure he could have ever lived up to the hype.  

The boxes of Fleer cards.  Not my picture.  


Fleer placed Musial into the base set, plus they made a really nice insert set that highlighted different parts of Musial's life and career.  I believe it was only 10 cards.  Nice looking set though....




There are also autographed versions of the insert cards.  Not too difficult to find, but the base cards are great looking without the signature.  Highly recommended.

Musial also signed a lot of cards during the late 1990s.  They could be there own post, so I am going to limit myself to one autograph for this evening.  I have a favorite......



Not to say that his Greats of the Game, or SP Signature autographs are not worthy of a spot in your collection, they are, but I love these Century Legends cards.  I love the black and white picture with the blue autograph, great look.  Musial continued to sign as his health declined later in life, if you are going to take the time and money to buy one of his autographs, the 1990s era cards are definitely your best bet.  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Living Set Cards That Are Still Alive

Topps sells cards on their website.  They have a store with packs and boxes.  There are Topps Now cards, Throwback Thursdays, The Living Set, and probably a few others that I am missing on my list.  I see collectors get these different types of direct to consumer cards, post them, and many of them look like really nice cards.  I did that once.  It's been two years since I have touched the Topps website.  

Not going back.  




The last card I bought off of the Topps website was an Aledmys Diaz rookie card.  It did not arrive in mint condition.  The customer service people at Topps kind of shrugged their shoulders.  I did end up with another copy of the card, but I got it from another collector.  No more cards directly from Topps.  
I have been checking out some of the cards out of the Living Set, also known as the set that is supposedly never going to end.  Until enough people get bored.  Seems like a nice product with some nice looking cards.  I was curious.  I bought a few of the cards.  

Not from Topps.  

There are a few different Cardinals players that have appeared in the set, along with a few different Durham Bulls players.  I decided to start off with one of each, checking things out. 

My Durham Bulls player is Willy Adames.....



The art work on the front of the card is nice.  Adames has been a pretty prime prospect for a few years now and has a ton of cards.  Not sure he has an "art" style card.  Kind of something different after years of Minor League and Bowman products.  



Back of the card.  Would have been cool if Topps had put his Triple A stats in the past year column on the stat box on the bottom of the card.  

My Cardinals card is Jack Flaherty.  



This picture feels a little bit more like a sketch book drawing than a baseball card.   A few of the students in my class this year are really into art and do a lot with sketchbooks.  This feels like something in a sketch book.  I should get one of them to make a Jack Flaherty picture and see how close it is to this card......




Back of the card.  It would not shock me that 100% of the Dugout Quiz cartoons on the Living Set cards are about only four or five players.  

One more for today.  Besides the two cards from the Living Set, I also ended up with a Topps Now card from 2016.  I actually have a few cards from this set, which I bought before the whole Aledmys Diaz debacle.  Mainly, just a mix of Cardinals and Durham Bulls players.  I think I might have a Bryce Harper card too.  

My new Topps Now card is a former Durham Bull.  



I have a few other Upton cards out of the Topps Now set.  I was surprised that one of them is actually a pretty tough find, definitely on the expensive side for a B.J. Upton, I mean Melvin, card.  This one seems to be fairly ordinary.  


The back of the card has a quick description of the event that got the player the Topps Now card.  

Overall, some nice cards that I am happy to add to the collection and they arrived safely at my house without any bends, folds, or the need to call Topps customer service.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Set Project Update Take #2: 1983 Kelloggs

Two more weeks to finish off this set.  I know my last update was just a few days ago, but I am actually putting together a set in a timely fashion.  It has rarely happened in this space.  The cards are not very hard to find, nor are they very expensive.  When I made my post at the end of last week I was still roughly 40 cards short from completing the set.  I had already worked out two trades and have a COMC order coming through in the next day which will drastically cut down on the 40 cards needed.

First up.



Ran into a trading partner, who is a huge Angels fan, who sent me three Angels cards that were on my list.  Return package will be along shortly, but I am always happy when other collectors are generous with help on projects.  One of the great things about collecting baseball cards.

I picked up seven other cards from my checklist from another trade.  I got a few of the Kelloggs cards that I needed and they got a little bit of help with an older Topps Heritage set.





I was actually surprised when I started out on this project that I did not already have the Neil Allen and Quisenberry cards.  Both players were Cardinals at one point during their careers, and on most of these 1980s sets that I have started to work on, those are the cards that I usually already have in my collection.  Plus, Neil Allen coached with the Durham Bulls for a long time.  

Updated Checklist:

2 Rollie Fingers 
4 George Brett 
6 Pete Rose 
7 Fernando Valenzuela 
8 Rickey Henderson 
9 Carl Yastrzemski 
10 Rich Gossage 
11 Eddie Murray 
13 Jim Rice 
14 Robin Yount 
15 Dave Winfield  
17 Garry Templeton 
19 Pete Vuckovich 
26 Andre Thornton 
27 Leon Durham 
31 Nolan Ryan 
33 Len Barker 
35 Jack Morris 
39 Jim Palmer 
40 Lance Parrish 
41 Floyd Bannister 
42 Larry Gura 
44 Toby Harrah 
45 Steve Carlton 
46 Greg Minton 
52 Dale Murphy 
53 Kent Hrbek 
54 Bob Horner 
55 Gary Carter 
56 Carlton Fisk 
57 Dave Concepcion 
58 Mike Schmidt 
59 Bill Buckner 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Set Project: 1983-1990 Topps Glossy Send Ins

If you opened packs of Topps cards during the 1980s, you probably remember the contest cards that used to pop up every couple of packs.  They usually involved winning a trip to the All-Star game or Spring Training.  I think in the later 1980s Topps also offered collectors the chance to buy sweatshirts, or a chance to subscribe to Topps Magazine.  Cannot believe I passed up those opportunities.

I actually did save up my contest cards though, and at some point towards the end of each summer, I could usually convince my parents to get a money order to send in for a sweet stack of 10 glossy cards.  I actually think based on the number of cards in my collection, plus the fact that I probably split the cards my brother, I likely got a $4 dollar money order.



In retrospect as an adult, the fact that the money order probably cost $1 to buy, I am surprised my parents just didn't take me and my brother to the card shop to just buy the set of glossy send in cards. 

Four to six weeks later in the mail, we would have a stack of the glossy send-in cards.  They were really the same card design every year with a different colored border.  Still pretty exciting for the time when there were not many choices of sets to collect in the baseball card world.   

I have a few from 1983, but there are too many that are in too good of condition for them to be something that I actually got that year.  Plus, that was the first year I collected.  The first year where I actually have a somewhat significant amount of the glossy mail-ins cards is from 1984.  

Again, same design every year.  





I know that some of these cards that are in my collection have been with me since 1984.  They have rounded corners, or for some reason, the fronts of the cards are different colors than the backs of the cards.  A little weird considering my house was definitely smoke free.....




and I kept my cards in boxes and pages.  You can see the edges of this Quisenberry cards are a little bit yellowed, as is the Carew card above, especially when compared to the back of the card.  I'm actually guessing that I probably put these cards in sheets at some point.  I recall having a notebook for my cards later elementary school years that were filled with the best cards in my collection.  

In other words, my glossy mail-ins and Vince Coleman rookie cards.  

Other copies of these cards in my collection have clean white borders and no rounded edges.  Likely because I bought them as an older collector.  



The Raines card above is not well centered, but is a much better card than the Quisenberry.  There used to be a card shop in south St. Louis County off of Telegraph Road where I actually think I ended up with a lot of these cards.  The guy who owned the store had a lot of sets like these and the cards usually ended up in dime and quarter boxes.



Surprisingly, I have large amounts of most of these sets, but none of them are complete.  Of the sets that I have, I am actually missing a lot of the Cardinals out of the them.  Maybe they were not in the dime and quarter boxes at that store, or some other reason that I cannot think of at the moment.  

I am not going to post the checklists of all the Glossy Mail-In sets, but I will break down each of them and give a percentage that I am starting out at.  Some are going to be easy to finish, perhaps a COMC order, others I am going to spend a little time digging around for the cards.  I have a few road trips coming up in the next few months, plus there are a few card shows around here.   

1983 - 31 out of 40 78%  
1984 - 28 out of 40 70% 

There are several 1984 cards that I will likely replace since my only copies were clearly from my actually collection in 1984.  The seven year old me was not good with corners.  Really lower than 70%

1985- 35 out of 40 88%

These are all pristine, not sure I actually ordered any as a kid in 1985.  Maybe my brother ended up with all of them.  

1986- 42 out of 60 70%
1987-  22 out of 60 37%
1988- 42 out of 60 70%
1989- 58 out of 60 97%
1990- 55 out of 60 92% 

The percentages are all pretty high starting points, outside of the 1987 set, but I still need almost 100 cards, roughly, when taking into account all the different years that I am trying to assemble here.  I am going to say that this is going to take until February.  I will be shocked if I finish it sooner.  

I am going to tack a few other set projects onto this before the end of the year.