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Saturday, June 29, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 8



Finest came out a few weeks back and there is a Blake Snell autograph in the set, which is on a rehash of a subset from the 1997 Finest set.  I was not really a huge fan of the mid to late 1990s Finest sets.  If you are unfamiliar, they are the ones with the "protector" labels over the cards.  Like this one.....




No fun at all.  


If I may say so, the Snell autograph is a huge improvement from the original design.  It's not that the whole "Blue Chips" idea was bad, they were all young players, but the peel protectors completely ruined the card.  

The autograph is also directly on the card.  No sticker autograph here.  

The back of the Snell autograph.  




Again, borrowed from the 1996 Finest set, but Topps did a good job of fitting the "You have just received" into the existing design of the card.  I also like the picture on the back.  Looks like a photo that would be good on the front of a card. 

Overall, a good card. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

But Bad Trades Are Part of Baseball

"But bad trades are part of baseball - now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake?" -Annie Savoy 

Has Doyle Alexander had any cards on the Tigers recently?  



Not since 1990.  


Does Topps make Cubs cards of Lou Brock?  




No.  

Any recent Reds cards of Milt Pappas?  




Not really, looks like 1968 was the last one.  

Jeff Bagwell on the Red Sox.  



Doubtful.  

So, I opened a few packs of Finest the other day.  I pulled a Cardinals autograph.  



Ouch.  



At least there is no mention of Rick Wise on the back of the card.

A 1980s Card Part 7 - 1980 Kellogg's Keith Hernandez



I love the old Kellogg's cards.  I have put a few of these Kellogg's sets together, but for most of them I at least own the majority of the Cardinals cards.  There are a few Cardinals Kellogg's cards I am missing from the 1970s, but not many.  The 1980s are complete. Two of my favorite Kellogg's sets are the blue bordered ones that were put out in 1980 and 1982.   

Some things I like about this card.  

First, this has to be the latest card that shows Hernandez without facial hair.  He always had that goofy mustache, minus a few cards towards the beginning of his career with the Cardinals.  Maybe I am wrong, but I cannot think of a single 1981, 1982, or 1983 Hernandez card without a mustache.  Also cannot think of a single Mets card without a mustache.  

Second, the backgrounds on these cards are blurry, and it's hard to tell exactly where the pictures are taken, but I would bet money that this picture was in Three Rivers.  The seats in the upper deck were colored yellow and orange.  


While I am sure it was not intended to add to the cards overall appearance, I think the blur of orange and yellow behind Hernandez definitely give the card an extra something.  Fits in well with the yellow bands that have his last name and position running across the card.  

Lastly, this is the busiest set design that I actually enjoy looking at.  The front of the card has polka dots, a white border, two yellow diagonal boxes, a player picture, a facsimile autograph, and a Kellogg's logo.  

Oh, and it's not a full sized baseball card.

The back of the card.  




In reality this print is tiny.  Love the Raisin Bran logo in the top left corner, and that they put every single MLB related logo they could think of in the opposite corner of the card.  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Let's Just Get Through This Week

Five more days during this school year and I am on vacation.  I am going to spend my vacation sleeping, traveling, and catching up on some baseball.  I have seriously neglected the Durham Bulls this year.  Have I been to a game?  No.  Have I collected any Durham Bulls cards? Well, not really many from this year's team. 

They are the best team in the International League at the moment. Seems like you can say that at some point every year.  They have some great names on the roster.  My favorite player on the current roster has to be two way player Brendan McKay.  I got to watch him a few times in college while he was playing for Louisville, and in summer baseball for the USA Baseball college national team. 

I picked up a few of his cards.  They have been sitting on my coffee table, but I have not taken the time to post them in my space here.  Waiting to go to a Bulls game.  Let me go ahead and post them ahead of time. 

Two from 2019.





I really like the 1989 Bowman style cards that are an insert in this year's Bowman set.  The cards are obviously not as big as the original set, which were the same size as the 1950s Bowman cards, but I love the simple design.  They have that Chrome finish, but I kind of wish that Topps would use some old stock on these cards. 





A Top 100 Prospects insert card.  Speaks for itself.  Very industrial looking on the bottom, with honeycomb pattern on the top.  What is even happening here?

Final card.  



I have always dabbled with the TEK brand cards from Topps.  This was from last year when Topps put out both a Topps TEK set, along with a Bowman TEK set.  I like these cards, but I only buy them as singles, and I try to stay away from trying to buy all the pattern variations.  That's ridiculous.  McKay has always had that tiny signature.  







Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 7

This is my new favorite Snell autograph for 2019. 




There are a bunch of different blogs that have done countdowns about the best Topps designs.  I could never do that, I would just stare at the cards and end up with a ten way tie for first place, and a ten way tie for second to last.  Everyone knows 2005 is terrible.  The 1984 Topps set would definitely be one of the card sets that would be in a ten way tie for first place. 

Is this design really that good, or do I just like it because it was the first full year that I collect? 

I like this card a lot. 

It's my second Snell autograph on a 1984 style Topps card.  This was the first, which was also my first of 2019.....



I like the All-Star style card though, so I am going to give my newest Snell a slight edge.  

Let's look at the back really quick.   




I thought the stars across the top were odd at first.  I guess I did not remember those being on the back of the original 1984 Topps All-Star cards, but I went and found an original.....



They were just covered by a red box labeled "Personal Data".  I can live with the slight change given the fact that Topps has to put that little disclaimer on the back of the card.  Well done.  



Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Fine Wizard

My eight year old has been stuck on Harry Potter the last two months.  He's a good reader, but the books are beyond his reach, so my wife and I have been reading them with him at night.  I teach fifth graders.  I am very familiar with the books.  I read the first two books the first year I taught because the students in my class were completely enamored with them.  At different points I felt the need to read the other books to keep up with my students.  I am big on rapport.  

Wizarding has now extended past the book, I cannot tell you how many times I have been sorted during the past few months.  



Actually, I am not really big into reading fantasy books.  The C.S. Lewis Narnia books?  Yawn.  Lord of the Rings?  It was painful, but I had to read them in high school.  Terrible.  

More of a dark humor person, but fifth graders cannot read Vonnegut.  I recommend.....




While I am doing my best to make it through the Harry Potter books, but I will admit that there is one wizard that I really enjoy.  

He was a shortstop for the Cardinals.  

He is in the Hall of Fame.  

You already know who it is....



Topps always manages to squeeze Ozzie Smith into their autograph line-up a few times a year.  One of the cards that was recently rolled out was from the Finest set.  A little different looking Ozzie card, thought this might be a good add to the collection.....




I know there are Padres autographs of Ozzie Smith out there, but I just have never owned one of them.  It's not like it's a Cubs card.  The Padres are a friendly team that the Cardinals run into every once in awhile in the playoffs, but they never lose to them.  The brown 1970s uniform is an added bonus.  Ozzie has such a great signature too.  

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 6- 1983 Donruss Willie McGee

Willie McGee was not necessarily my favorite player at any point during his two stints with the Cardinals, but he was high on the list.  Even when the Cardinals traded him away to the A's during the 1990 season, it was still fun to follow his career.

One of my favorite non-1980s Willie McGee cards has always been his 1991 Donruss Highlights card.....



which shows him as the 1990 National League Batting Champion, but he is playing for the A's.  Only player in Major League history to win a batting title for a league while not playing in the league.  Willie McGee would go on to play for his hometown Giants, and the Red Sox, before returning to St. Louis to play out the last few years of his career as the Cardinals fourth outfielder. 

The 1980s Willie McGee cards are something I had to revisit a bit later on in life.  I had a lot of his cards, but there were definitely some holes in my collection of McGee cards.  No matter the holes, I flip back through my 1980s Cardinals cards, and the McGee card that always stands out to me is his 1983 Donruss rookie card. 




I like the design of McGee's other two major brand rookie cards better than the Donruss, but I am willing to over look a weaker card designer for a far superior player photo. 

Here is his Fleer rookie. 




This photograph makes McGee seem like a bit of an after thought.  The best you can do is a side photo of him swinging a metal bar at the on-deck circle?  At least the picture feels like it has focus, which is more than what Topps can say about their 1983 McGee card. 


This card has a lot of potential, but not the best execution.  The action shot is decent, but it feels out of focus, and really off center.  The head shot at the bottom feels even more out of focus than the action shot.  It's hard to get portrait style pictures wrong, but here we are....

Back to the 1983 Donruss card.  Here is the card back.  



Typical 1980s Donruss card back.  I love that they put the "How Acquired" section on the card.  Not sure that many talk about the lopsidedness of the Willie McGee trade anymore, but long ago it was a thing.  Sykes never played a game for the Yankees.  McGee won two batting titles, a National League MVP, and is a huge reason the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series. 




Willie will never be a Hall of Famer, although he is in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, just a popular player who had some great years.  

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Championship Grand Slam

It was quite a week for me as a St. Louis sports fan.  I never thought that I would actually ever get to see the Blues win the Stanley Cup.  They have had their fair share of good players and teams, but they always seem to come up short.  Welp, not this year. 





The Stanley Cup makes St. Louis just the eighth city in the U.S. to win a championship in all four major sports leagues.  

The Cardinals have obviously won several with the last one coming in 2011.  




The Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000 on "The Tackle" 




St. Louis had the Hawks for awhile, and they managed to beat the Boston Celtics in the 1959 Finals behind Bob Pettit.  The team eventually left for Atlanta in the late 1960s.  Always seems to be the forgotten title that St. Louis has won.  

Are there are actually Hawks fans?  Were there any Hawks fans when they played in St. Louis?  The answers to these questions are cloudy, but the Hawks have been sort of a fun side project of mine for awhile.  There are three primary sets of basketball cards where you can find St. Louis Hawks cards including a Busch Beer set, the 1957 Topps set, and the 1961 Fleer set.  

I have dabbled over the years, and never spent a serious amount of time, nor money on this set.  Not to give away how many Hawks cards I have from the three sets, I am going to celebrate the Championship Grand Slam by sharing out my 1961 Fleer cards. 




Best St. Louis Hawks player?  I vote yes.  



Hagan was also a Hall of Famer.  



Another Hall of Famer.  



I actually did not know anything about Si Green until I got this card.  In 1956 the Hawks drafted Bill Russell with their 1st Round pick and traded him to the Celtics for Cliff Hagen and Ed Macauley.  The player picked in front of Russell was Si Green.  He ended up scoring right around 10 points per game during his NBA career.  Looks like he was a good reserve off the bench.  

I will have to share a few more another day.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Project Durham Bulls Part 54 - Duane Ward



Background- Duane Ward had a short career, flew under the radar of many fans, but was an important player on the great Blue Jays teams of the early 1990s.  The Braves drafted him out of high school in New Mexico with the ninth overall pick in 1982, but he flamed out in their system as a starting pitcher.  That included a season with the Durham Bulls in 1983, where he had a losing record and an ERA over 4.  The Braves traded Ward to the Blue Jays in 1986 who gave him a chance to pitch out of the bullpen.  He would have a six year run with more than 10 saves.  Ward worked primarily as the setup man for Tom Henke, but would take over the closers role in 1993.  He led the American League in saves that season, and helped the Blue Jays win their second World Series title. 




Card- The 1980s Durham Bulls teams have some challenges.  There are some really good players from the Bulls run as a Braves affiliate, but many do not have a certified autograph.  The players are also all from the junk wax era, so it's also really hard to find a card that is unique, or offers a challenge to track down.  Ward was a good player on a good team, yet I really only had two choices if I was not going to use a really ordinary base card.  I went with a Desert Storm edition of his 1991 Topps card.  I paid more in shipping than I did for the card.  Maybe Topps will get Duane Ward to sign some Archives cards at some point, until then I am going with this card for my Durham Bulls collection.  

Monday, June 10, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 5- 1988 Smokey Bear Tony Pena

Best Cardinals stadium giveaway team set?  It's the 1988 Smokey Bear Cardinals team giveaway set.  Don't talk to me about player selection, flimsy card stock, or the team's terrible season.  The design and photography in this set make it better than anything else out there.  I even like these cards better than the 1992 McDonald's Cardinals set.



Stan is great, but they were also sold at McDonald's restaurants, not a stadium giveaway.  

On with this week's card.  



The cards are oversized in length, but look at that photograph.  The majority of cards in the set are from photographers who were at field level.  When do we get photographs like this on baseball cards?  Let me answer my own question.  The answer is never.  

I know there are people who don't like the corporate logos on giveaway cards, but the card designer did a good job here.  Smokey Bear is small, he's in a corner, and the overall design is simple with the white border.  The Cardinals gave away these cards in other years, and there is no comparison between the set designs. 




This was the design from 1987.  Pretty bad.  I think Topps ended up using this one year for Allen and  Ginter.  




You just switch Wildfire Prevention with Allen & Ginter and you've got a new baseball card.  

Back to the 1988 card.  Here is the card back.....




This is a great space for the giveaway sponsor to shine.  Love the way the majority of the back is fire safety tips with Smokey the Bear, because that just means they are not on the front of the card.  I will have to post more cards from this set in the future.  

A movie I like from 1988.....

The second best Christmas movie of all-time.  Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis.  




Andres Wisniewski had previously been thrown out of an airplane in a James Bond movie and appeared in an Elton John video.  

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Silver Signatures

One of my favorite Cardinals autographs in my collection belongs to former third baseman David Freese.  It's a Five Star card from a few years back.  I love the combination of the red background with the silver pen used to sign the card.  The red does not like quite right when the card is scanned, so I prefer this picture of the card instead.  



There are other silver signatures in my collection beyond the Freese autograph.  They all look nice for the most part, I just think the Freese stands out a little more than the others I have with a silver signature.  

This Terry Pendleton autograph is a step down from Freese, but it is still a nice card.   




The Pendleton card does not have a strong contrast with the background.  I am not sure that color you would call that background, sort of a brownish/greenish, but no matter it does not allow the silver signature to pop as much.  

Another good one with contrast.....



If only Alex Reyes could stay healthy.  One day, maybe.  

That brings me to my latest card with a silver signature.  The contrast stands out, but there are some design elements I am unsure about with this card......




Mainly the different colors that are around the player picture of Jack Flaherty.  I like the orange over his left shoulder, usually a color that does not look good on Cardinals cards, but less sure about the purple semi-circle around his pitching hand.

I guess the important thing here is that the card is signed with a silver pen on a dark background.  Of all the different colored and patterned variations that Topps creates for all their different sets, the silver ink cards always seem to be my favorites.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 6

The last Blake Snell autograph that I posted here came from this year's Tier One product.  My latest Snell autograph is also from Tier One, but is a different style card and also has a relic.  Here is a look at the new card....




Yes, it is a sticker autograph.  I know that scans can make stickers stand out more, but this one is really not blended very well.  The sticker is also not even, it sinks slightly going left to right.  The card also has a small swatch of jersey.  Meh. 

Back of the card. 



This is not a very interesting card back. 

Overall, this is my least favorite Blake Snell autograph that I have added this year.  The design is not great, especially the poor blend in with the sticker autograph.  It can still go in my giant box of autographs, but this is one of my least favorite Snell autographs in my collection.  

Let's do better next time.  

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 4 - 1982 Topps Keith Hernandez

For the majority of my childhood Keith Hernandez was a bad man.  The first full summer that I lived in St. Louis was 1985.  Keith Hernandez was the starting first baseman for the Cardinals principle rival the New York Mets.  I was not alone in my dislike of Hernandez.  He was really unpopular with the Cardinals fans.  It was bad enough that he was playing for the Mets, but he had drug problems away from the field that prompted the trade away from the team.  Plus, the Cardinals also got next to nothing in return for him in the trade to the Mets. 

Hernandez won the 1979 National League MVP, batting champion, heir to Lou Brock as the best player on the team, and played an important role on the 1982 World Series winner.



It didn't matter.  Cardinals fans hated him for a long time.  

The first year I collected baseball cards was 1983.  Keith Hernandez was still in favor with Cardinals fans.  At the time I had two sources of baseball cards.  I picked up packs from a connivence store in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and I also got some single cards from a flea market in town.  Not sure of all the details of the flea market, just simply that we would walk around it every few weeks on Sunday afternoons.  

At some point my parents bought my the 1982 Topps Cardinals team set.  Pretty sure it was the pride of my collection for a few years.  I enjoyed owning many of the cards in this set, even after the players were traded away, or left as free agents.  George Hendrick, Joaquin Andujar, Darrell Porter, and Tom Herr were just a few of the good names.  

It took me about twenty-five years to do much with Keith Hernandez.  



I didn't have many of his Cardinals cards outside of what I pulled from packs in 1983, so this 1982 Topps card was the best Hernandez card in my collection for a long time.  Nice action shot of Hernandez playing in a game against the Mets.  I have always liked the design of these cards too, although I think the color scheme on the Cardinals cards is not the best. 

Back of the card. 



The centering is brutal.  The facts are randomly about a Royals catcher and Blue Jays pitcher.  So few stats on the back of this card, but you can read them. 

I have tried to have a little better appreciation for Hernandez's place in Cardinals history. I think many Cardinals fans have moved in this direction over the years.  Yes, it stinks that his career with the Cardinals ended because of drug problems, but it's not like it destroyed the team.  The Cardinals made two more World Series in the 1980s without Hernandez, and made due with Jack Clark and Pedro Guerrero getting most of the at bats at first base after the trade. 

Both Clark and Guerrero were All-Star caliber players for the Cardinals, and hit for a lot more power than Hernandez.  

I have even moved on a bit on Hernandez with baseball cards.  No, the 1982 Topps card is not the best Keith Hernandez card in my collection anymore.....



but it is still my favorite.  

A song I like from 1982.  


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Project Durham Bulls Part 53 - Monte Weaver


1928 - 1929 Durham Bulls 


Background- One of the more interesting characters in the history of the Durham Bulls.  The "Prof" played for the team in the late 1920s on his way up to the Washington Senators for 8 seasons, along with one year with the Red Sox. In 1932, he enjoyed his best Major League season with 22 wins.  The rest of his career was fairly average, ending with a total of 71 wins and an ERA of 4.36.  Now, on to the interesting stuff.  

While he was playing in the Minors, he also was attending the University of Virginia as a grad student.  He taught class there, as a grad assistant, and earned the nickname "Prof" by the other players.  Weaver was supposedly in line to become a Rhodes Scholar, but a paperwork snafu prevented him from earning a spot.  

A few other oddities.  The Sporting News did a profile on him in 1933 after his best season where he pointed out that he liked spending time alone on beaches, or hanging out in his hotel room rather than being around other baseball players.  Weaver was also a hypochondriac and a vegetarian.  In another profile, the Sporting News made mention of his addiction to spinach.  The Washington Post noted that he ate too many peas and carrots. Weaver eventually started eating meat, and the D.C. press was apparently thrilled when he gained ten pounds during Spring Training.  

In the end, his baseball career did not last past the late 1930s, and he ended up in the Navy for World War II.  Eventually he would settle down in Florida and bought a bunch of orange groves.  

Card- How could you not want a card out of the 1933 Goudey set?  My copy of this Weaver card is a little rough, but these are pretty pricey cards.  Even the ones with creases and rounded corners.  The background colors are usually a lot brighter than this powder blue.  Yes, this copy has some fading, but it is still not as bright as many of the other cards in this set.  Happy to add this Pre-World War II card, tricky to track down the Durham Bulls players from this era.  Always a plus when you can find one in a great set like this one.