Monday, April 29, 2019

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 75 - Omar Oliveras

Omar Oliveras was a second generation Cardinal.  His father Ed played briefly for the Cardinals in the early 1960s, appearing in games for both the 1960 and 1961 teams.  In all, the elder Oliveras had 35 at bats in his Cardinals career, and picked up exactly 5 hits.  Omar did a little better.  

Ed Oliveras does not have a Cardinals card, but does appear in the 1962 Topps set as a Colts prospect.  

Omar Oliveras made his debut in August of 1990 after the Cardinals season was more or less over.  He would spend two seasons as a starter, and then two more as a spot starter and long reliever.  I don't want to talk too much about Omar's numbers.  I should point out that he spent 12 years as a middle reliever and made $13 million.  

Really, let's talk about Omar's cards.  If the 1990s Cardinals cards had a superlatives list, Omar Oliveras would easily win "Worst Photography" and "Best Card Back".  The vote would not be all that close.  

Let's go positive first.  

Upper Deck might have started putting pictures on the back of cards, but these 1993 Leaf cards took it to another level.  Throwing a pitch centered in between the legs of the Arch.  This should probably be the picture on the front, only it's not.  

Here is the front of the card.  

I feel let down.  

Now, the worst photograph on a 1990s Cardinals card.  Surprisingly it's on an Upper Deck card.  

The batting helmet is airbrushed.  The bat is flying out of his hands.  No idea where the ball is headed.  The bat and ball are blurred.  I know there are worse looking cards, but this takes the cake for 1990s Cardinals cards.  

Shall we look at a few more?  

I like that he wore 00 for part of his time as a Cardinal.  Pretty catchy.  If only they had shirseys in the early 1990s.  I would buy a 00 Oliveras shirt.  

Last one for Omar.  He is a long reliever after all.  

I like this landscape style card with the catcher and umpire out of focus in the background, and Oliveras throwing in the center of the picture.  Well played Topps.  

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Weekend Countdown: Top 10 Fernando Tatis Cardinals Cards

This past week was the twentieth anniversary of Fernando Tatis hitting two grand slams in one inning.  It does not feel like it has been that long, but here we are.....

Tatis has also gotten a few mentions recently too with the play of his son Fernando Tatis Jr..  Kid is off to a really good start.  

Here are this week's rules:

  • This post is only of cards of Fernando Tatis on the Cardinals both in picture and in label.  No "now with Expos" or "now with Cardinals" cards.

  • My actual favorite Fernando Tatis card is his 1998 Skybox EX Essential Credentials card. 

  • The ten cards are ranked in order of how much I love them.  

10.  1999 Fleer Tradition - I like the St. Louis Stars uniform on the card. 

9. 1998 Fleer Update - I like the St. Louis Stars uniform on the card.  This is also the first card that Fernando Tatis had in a Cardinals uniform.  In fact, this is the only 1998 Cardinals card of Fernando Tatis.  There were not many update sets that year, no Topps or Upper Deck.  This was it.  Picture looks familiar.  

8. 2001 Topps - One of his last Cardinals cards.  Always liked this picture with the dark background and the white home Cardinals uniform.  Also like that the card is landscape.  

7. 1999 SP Signature Autograph - This was a good set for Cardinals autographs.  Love Fernando's signature.  You can clearly read the "F. Tatis", but it has a really unique.  

6. 2001 Fleer Autographics - One of Fernando's last autographs as a Cardinal.  I had a ton of these cards, always sort of liked these.  

5. 2016 Bowman - Remember when Fernando Tatis Jr. was a White Sox prospect.  Hard to believe that the Padres got him for James Shields.  

4. 2016 Topps Archives - The first year I collected was 1983.  Big fan of the design.  I am not sure how exactly it is connected to Fernando, but this is a great card.  

3. 2000 Fleer Tradition - Great looking card.  Complete rip off of the 1954 Topps set.  

2.  2000 Pacific Revolution - My favorite Cardinals autograph of Fernando.  I like the green background on this card.  Nice look.  

1. 2001 Topps Heritage - Glad that Topps found a way to squeeze Fernando into this set.  This had been released after he was traded to the Expos, obviously could have easily not been a Cardinal here.  Also has to be about his final Cardinals card.  

Saturday, April 27, 2019

This Isn't The Card You're Looking For....

Bowman has been out for a few weeks, and I have barely touched any of the cards.  I am cutting back on sets, but since this is more or less a Minor League product, I am all over it.  I saw the checklist a few weeks back and was really excited to see some of the names from the Cardinals system, plus a few Durham Bulls/future Durham Bulls.

It was a happy time, and then people started opening packs. 

I understand that there will always be some level of prospecting, but this year seems to be ridiculous.  Three and four digit prices for guys who are playing in the Florida State League?  The Cardinals prospects are not that bad, but they are not great either.  I am being patient, and the prices seem to be coming down a bit. 

In the meantime, I was not really looking for any NC State players, but I found one that was inexpensive. 

Deatherage was a tenth round pick by the Tigers last summer, and played Rookie League, and two different A Ball stops.  He hit really well last summer, and I was actually guessing that this would be a card that would be out of my reach to start.  Deatherage hit over .320, had almost 20 steals, and more than 20 extra base hits, in 60 games. 

He's off to a slow start this year, but I am still happy to get a copy of this card. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 74 - Edgar Renteria

Ozzie Smith was the Cardinals shortstop for much of the 1990s, and was eventually replaced by Royce Clayton after he retired.  In 1998, the Cardinals traded Clayton away to the Texas Rangers, in the middle of the season, for third baseman Fernando Tatis.  The Cardinals played all sorts of different players at shortstop during the second half of the 1998, none of them were good.  

Prior to the 1999 season, the Cardinals traded Braden Looper, Armando Almanza, and Pablo Ozuna to the Marlins in exchange for Edgar Renteria. 

He's wearing teal on his rookie card.  You should buy this card.  

Renteria was only 19 when he reached the Majors, and 22 when he was traded to the Cardinals.  He was a work in progress at this point in his career, but he had also made a name for himself as one of the few Major Leaguers to have a walk off hit in the deciding game of the World Series.  

Only one year of 1990s baseball cards for Edgar Renteria in a Cardinals uni.  It was not actually really all that great for two reasons.  Kind of makes this a short post.  

Reason One- Topps used the same picture in all of their products.  All of their products.

Here's his 1999 Topps card.  


and his 1999 Topps Finest card.  

I think the smile is slightly different.  

I could scan his Bowman card and put it on here, but you will never believe the picture that Topps used for the card.  He's actually not holding the bat, but everything else is the same.  The photographer from Topps spent a whole two minutes taking pictures of Edgar Renteria in Spring Training.  

and I am spent.  

Reason 2- He has a bunch of cards that have a Cardinals logo, but the picture shows him as a Marlin.  

Like this one....

or this one.....

Of course, there are a few different Edgar Renteria cards from 1999 that get it right.  

and they are pretty nice.  

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Weekend Countdown: Top 10 Bowman Cardinals Cards

It's Bowman season.  People spending hundreds of dollars for cards of players in the Florida State League.  Here are the rules for this week:

  • Bowman cards include the old Bowman cards too, not just the ones from the 1990s and 2000s

  • There are only Bowman cards in this post.  Not Bowman Chrome, Heritage, Draft, or even autographs.  

  • The cards in the list have to show the player in a Cardinals uniform. The Scott Rolen Bowman rookie is a sweet card, but he's in a Phillies uniform.  

  • These are my favorite Bowman cards based on baseball cards, not playing career.  

Count it down.  

10. 1994 Bowman Dmitri Young 

Bowman was a prospect heavy set at this point, and Dmitri Young was the prospect of all Cardinals prospects back in the day.  I guess if I touched the Oscar Taveras card, he probably surpassed the hype of Dmitri Young.  Maybe.  

9. 2012 Bowman Carlos Martinez 

Carlos was a big deal as a Minor Leaguer, but also a perfect example of how out of hand people get with the Bowman comparisons.  I believe that Pedro Martinez was the name that was frequently thrown around when C-Mart was coming up through the Minors.  He's not Pedro Martinez, just a really good pitcher.  Who spent more than $100 on a Carlos Martinez Bowman card?  (I know people did).  

8. 1951 Bowman Marty Marion 

Remember when I used to get the Bowman Draft sets and pick on all the airbrushing?  This Marty Marion card is from a great set, but the picture on my copy has always bothered me.  It looks grainy and pixelated, sort of like a Bowman Draft card.  I know cleaner copies have better pictures, but I got this dirt cheap at a card show complete with staple holes at the top.  Still love the card.  

7. 2009 Bowman David Freese 

If we put David Freese's first Bowman card on a different design, I would probably rank it higher, but I really am not a fan of the 2009 Bowman set.  The giant box with the facsimile signature on it is way too big.  

6. 1990 Bowman Ray Lankford 

Personal bias, plus the rainbow borders on these look sweet.  

5 . 2004 Bowman Yadier Molina 

Flies under the radar a bit as a good Bowman card.  Obviously a card that may not touch some of the other cards on the list in terms of style, but Yadi turned out to be a good player.  What 70 something number do you think he is wearing in this picture?  Got to be Spring Training.  

4. 1951 Bowman Enos Slaughter 

Love the picture on the card, even if it is crinkled on my copy.  The dark background looks good, sort of like an Olan Mills photo.  

3. 1955 Bowman Tommy Alston 

Alston was the first African-American player on the Cardinals.  Always felt like this was sort of an iconic Cardinals card.  The 1955 Bowman set has always been distinct with the television design, like that Alston got a baseball card right away too.  Also a North Carolina guy from Greensboro.  

2. 2001 Bowman Albert Pujols 

The best modern Bowman Cardinals card, and the best right handed player in the history of the team.  

1. 1948 Bowman Stan Musial 

The best vintage Bowman Cardinals card, and the best left handed player in the history of the team.  

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Better With Time

When did the Devil Rays uniforms start to look good?  When the team was first announced as an expansion team back in the 1990s, I was not a big fan of their uniforms.  These looked ridiculous. 

The Rays brought them back last year as part of their 20th Anniversary.  Suddenly they looked half way decent.  Nice enough that I went out and got a card of Blake Snell with the old Rays logo. 

What has changed over the last twenty years that has made these more appealing?  Maybe it is the players.  Twenty years ago the Rays were overcrowded with old guys who were past their prime.  Wade Boggs, Wilson Alvarez, and Vinny Castilla.  

Not a big fan. 

Most of the current Rays were on the Durham Bulls at some point. It is hard to go against players you spend time watching.  I draw the line at Blake Snell wearing a Cubs or Yankees uniform, but that might have some influence.   

The hats are also different.  The bottom card has a TB over the ray, the Snell card just has the Ray.  Little cleaner look.  

Back to the Snell card for a second.  I know that the manu-patch card is tired and old, almost as much as relic cards, but there are still nice ones every once in awhile.  The Topps manu-patch cards in this year's Series 1 cards are supposed to be old "retro" hat logos.  

It works well on the Snell card.  I also got the Yadier Molina card from the set.  

Yeah.  The Cardinals really do not change much.  At least the picture came from a game where the Cardinals were wearing their old 1970s/1980s polyester road uniforms. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Project Durham Bulls Part 51 - Bubba Morton

1957 Durham Bulls 

Morton was primarily a fourth outfielder for the Tigers, Braves, and Angels during his seven year Major League career. His final three years were easily his best, where he earned the reputation as one of the best pinch hitters in baseball. While Morton's Major League career seems ordinary, he is an important figure in the history of the Durham Bulls.  

Morton, along with pitcher Ted Radcliffe, became the first African-American players for the Bulls in 1957, appearing in an April 18th game against the Greensboro Hornets. Bubba Morton went on to become a Carolina League All-Star that season hitting .310 with 18 home runs. The Bulls ended the season in first place capturing the Carolina League title.  

After retiring, Morton moved to Seattle where he became one of the first African-American college baseball coaches.  He coached the Washington Huskies for five seasons before the university ended their baseball program due to financials problems in the athletic department.  

Morton cards are obviously not very expensive, so I went more on style and team than anything else. I decided that I would rather own a Tigers card of the former outfielder, that was the team the Bulls were affiliated with at the time Morton playing, than an Angels card.  It came down to a decision between the 1963 and the 1962 Topps cards.  Is there really a wrong choice?  

I actually ended up with both, but I put the 1962 card at the top of the post.  Here is the 1963 card.  

The 1962 Topps card is obviously in better shape, although the centering is a little bit off.  The 1962 Topps card is also Morton's rookie and one of the short printed cards in the set.  Again, both great cards, happy to have both in my collection.  

Monday, April 15, 2019

I Love The 1990s Cardinals Part 73 - Jose Oliva

Since it is Jackie Robinson Day, I thought I would do the last Cardinals player who wore 42 prior to Major League Baseball retiring the number across the game. The Cardinals would later retire 42 a second time for Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter.  

The last player to wear 42 prior to Jackie Robinson Day in 1997 was Jose Oliva, who has no relationship to Tony Oliva.  He played for the Braves in 1994 and 1995, before he was traded to the Cardinals in August of 1995.  The Cardinals stuck him at third base for a few games the last few weeks of the season.  Oliva hit .122 with 2 home runs in almost 100 at bats during his time with the Cardinals.  

The brief stint earned Oliva a few cards in 1996.  I have three of them, I know I am missing one or two.  My favorite is his 1996 Collector's Choice.  

It's a simple card with him looking at the third base coach, or something like that.  You can see the 42 on the front of his jersey.  By the far the best picture on any of his Cardinals cards.  


This is my least favorite card of Oliva.  Who puts a check swing on a baseball card?  Donruss.  Did I mention they went bankrupt?  It feels a little lazy to make a card of a player with this type of action shot.  I'd rather take the Collector's Choice card above where he is just looking at the coach.  


This card has a lot of potential.  I want to like it more than the Collectors Choice.  The photo is clearly taken in Wrigley Field, but I don't love that the ivy walls in the background are blurry.  I thought the picture of Oliva might actually be airbrushed.  He did play a game with the Cardinals against the Cubs in Wrigley, but his hat looks off.  Still think this might be a Braves picture that was airbrushed.  

Oliva played in the Cardinals Minor League system during the 1996 season, and was out of professional baseball in 1997.  He was killed in a car accident in December of 1997.  

Here is the 42 on the outfield wall of Busch Stadium.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Weekend Countdown: Topps Total Cardinals

Long ago, two years ago, I used to do a countdown on this blog space every Friday.  That's kind of a busy day of the week in my world, which is why the "Friday Five" has slowly disappeared over that time.  I still like the idea of having a countdown post, so I am going to try something a little different, and see if it sticks a little better.

Here's what I am shooting for:  

  • One countdown post per weekend 
  • The countdown is not going to be defined by a number, not 5, not 10.  I choose it when I get there 
  • Sticking with cards, not stats and numbers.  Maybe an occasional pop culture type of post.  

Here is my first Weekend Countdown: 

So earlier this week, Topps tweeted out.....

which made everyone correctly speculate that Topps was bring back their early 2000s behemoth Topps Total.  It was 990 cards with roughly 30 cards per 30 Major League teams.  The product was affordable, and the ultimate challenge for set collectors.  I am not sure if I have ever actually finished a Topps Total set, but I at least have the Cardinals cards completed.

The boxes are still really cheap, so.....

There are actually some interesting Cardinals cards in the Topps Total sets, so I thought I would pick out a few of my favorites for this week as my first Countdown subject.

5. Eli Marrero - 2003 Topps Total Signatures 

Marrero appeared in all three Topps Total sets, all with different teams.  The Cardinals in 2003, the Braves in 2004, and the Royals in 2005.  This was one of Marrero's last Cardinals cards, as he was traded away to the Braves for Adam Wainwright. He is also the "best" Cardinals autograph that you can find in a Topps Total set.  His competition is Jimmy Journell. 

4.  Jason Motte - 2005 Topps Total 

I like Jason Motte rookies.  He is one of those players who started out doing one thing, and ended up somewhere else.  The Cardinals drafted him as a catcher, he could not hit anything, but he had an incredible arm.  You probably best remember Jason Motte for this......

It was a successful position change.  If you have not followed his career, Motte had some arm troubles with the Cardinals and has bounced around since.  Still, you pitch the last out of a World Series, you tend to get remembered.  

3. Rick Ankiel - 2005 Topps Total 

Another prospect type card from the 2005 Topps Total set.  I initially thought that this card was some sort of terrible way to help Topps fit players into the set, while maintaining the desired number of cards in the set.  There are a few cards like this in the set that stray from the prospect/prospect format and have a prospect/old guy.  Like there is an Adam Wainwright card like this with Cal Eldred.  This is Topps, so cutting corners is totally fair game.  


This is actually a prospect card.  Ankiel is listed as an outfielder on the card, and this is actually after he went back to the Minors and quit pitching.  Hard to keep track of all the dates with Ankiel, but he last pitched in 2004.  We can argue whether or not a 25 year old in A Ball is a legit prospect some other time, but Lambert was also an A Ball player.  They seem like they might fit together.  

2. Chris Carpenter - 2003 Topps Total 

Chris Carpenter was on the Blue Jays for a few years at the beginning of his career.  He had some arm troubles, got released, and the Cardinals signed him.  Carpenter hung out in the Minors for awhile, made his way back to the Majors, and by 2004 was in the Cardinals rotation. Between 2003 and 2004 Topps made two cards of Chris Carpenter.  Yes, the airbrushing is terrible, but this card is the first Carpenter in a Cardinals uniform.  Sort of an important recent player.  Ask a Phillies fan.  

1.  Yadier Molina -2004 Topps Total 

There are better Yadier Molina rookies, but this one still counts.  I like that he is catching on this card, as opposed to his Bowman rookie card where he is batting, and wearing a jersey with a 70 something number on the back.