Friday, November 29, 2019

More Lowes, But Just Brandon

There have been two players with the last name Lowe in the Rays, and Durham Bulls, lineups for the past year.  One is first baseman Nate Lowe, and the other is second baseman Brandon Lowe.  The names are not pronounced the same. 

I have posted cards of both players on here, but I am a bigger fan of Brandon.  He had a great year with the Rays last year finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.  I get him finishing behind Yordan Alvarez, but I am still not sure how John Means snuck in front of him,  perhaps some sort of gesture of sympathy towards Orioles fans for having to watch their team. 

It seemed like collectors were really into Brandon Lowe for awhile, but his cards have slid back in price a little bit this year.  With all of the time I have spent on Blake Snell cards, I feel like some of the other former Durham Bulls players who are currently in the Majors have been less of a priority.

Sort of accidental, but we can get more into the positives and negatives of the Blake Snell autographs in an end of year post. 

Two new Lowe cards. 

The first one is from the bulky Gold Label set.   I think Topps has improved these cards over the past two or three years so that the frames no longer pop off the cards.  They are still really heavy and feel a little clumsy.  The design feels a little stagnant too. 

I actually picked up this card with a Snell autograph since I cannot pass up combined shipping. 

Next up. 

This card is so much better than the Blake Snell autographed card I posted yesterday.  The art work is better.  The sticker is straight.  Feel like that sort of covers it.  

This was a pretty fun five-ten minutes of my morning.  Next month, I am going to try more cards that are not Blake Snell.  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 26

Yes, there are more Snell autographs to post.  More in the mail, but I am really running out.  It would take a small miracle, or some Ebay seller dumping their inventory, to get to 30 with a month left in the year.  So, here is the latest Snell, which is out of the Wal-Mart exclusive product Topps Gallery.  

Front of the card.  

I used to love these cards back in the 1990s.  Now, that quite as much.  Still, it's not exactly their worst effort either.  I like the design of the card, the art work is pretty mediocre.  Can we put the autograph stickers on straight?  Look at the words "Topps Certified Autograph Issue" and then the bottom of the sticker.  Not so good.  

I like that there are stats on the back of the card and not just some form letter stating the obvious that I have an autographed card.  While the stats are nice, it also means that Topps tried to squeeze a bunch of other stuff onto the back of the card that makes it seem a little cluttered.  Beyond the stats, personal information, and "Gallery Notes", Topps also managed to sneak in the name of the artist and a disclaimer about the autograph signing being witnessed.  

Also a serial number, a card number, small print, and a trio of little logos at the bottom.  

That's a lot of stuff for the back of the card.  Overall, this is a decent card, nothing great.  It's solidly in the bottom half of the Snell autographs that Topps has put out this year.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 28 - 1984 Fleer Floyd Rayford

Two days later than normal, but the beginning of the week was busy.  I am going with one of the real cult favorite Cardinal players of the 1980s this week in the person of Floyd Rayford.  He played for the majority of the 1980s, mostly with the Orioles, but he was briefly traded to the Cardinals in 1983 for outfielder Tito Landrum. 

The Orioles were in a pennant run.  Landrum ended up hitting the series clinching home run in the American League Championship Series to beat Tony LaRussa's White Sox. 


The Orioles ended up beating the Phillies to win the World Series. 

Rayford ended up getting a few baseball cards in a Cardinals uniform for his 56 games with the team.  All of them, from what I know, are in 1984 sets.  He has one card int he Fleer set, one in the Topps set.  The Topps card is an action shot, the Fleer card....... 

This card accurately portrays Floyd best in my opinion.  You at least get the vibe that he is a short round guy with a lot of hair.  Love the 1980s satin jacket, and if you look closely he is wearing some really sweet batting glove.  

Floyd has a lot of Rochester on the back of his card.  I know he worked there as a coach for awhile too, a legendary player for the die hards of that Minor League team.  Not really an impressive stat line there outside of those seasons at (elevation) El Paso and Salt Lake City.  

So, what happened to Floyd and the Cardinals?  

Oddly enough, Rayford was traded back to the Orioles towards the end of the Spring Training in 1984, which is where he spent the rest of his career.  A few days later the teams made another trade where Landrum ended up back with the Cardinals.  It was not a duplication of the Rayford for Landrum trade, but it sure felt that way.  

This is how they are supposed to look right?  Rayford did not do much once he got back in Baltimore.  Tito Landrum was a platoon player with Andy Van Slyke in right field, ended up playing a significant amount of games for the 1985 National League Championship team.  

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Two More Guys In My Wolfpack

I took a bit of a break from baseball cards last week to pick up a pair of basketball cards.  I had not even really thought about finding any new basketball cards, but I ran across a social media post with a picture of a former NC State basketball player.

I think Cody Martin might be more famous for his time playing at Nevada, but he spent the first two years of his college basketball career at NC State.  He is actually from North Carolina.  If you do not know anything about Cody Martin, he also has a twin brother who played at both NC State and Nevada.

Caleb is not in the NBA, but once did not sit down after fouling out of a game at Duke.

This is what they do when someone fouls out.....

Not sitting down at Duke three or four years ago has not earned Caleb a card, but Cody has several as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, and as a Nevada Wolfpack.  No NC State Wolfpack, so I went with the Hornets.  He was really good in college, both at NC State and Nevada, but I am not sure he is doing very much with the Hornets.  

What is this card?  

I don't know.  No idea.  It did not cost much.  I am not sure that I like the fact that Cody now has a man bun.  The NC State people used to ride Kyle Guy, he went to Virginia, pretty hard over his man bun back in the day. 

Kyle Guy is on the Sacramento Kings now.  Not sure he plays at all.  

I also picked up another copy of Dennis Smith's rookie card from Contenders a few years back.  

Smith has not really lived up hype, but he was a fun player to watch while he was at NC State.  

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cholly Jolly

Cholly Jolly is one of the great yesteryear nicknames that I have run across collecting older baseball cards.  It belonged to long-time Pirate and Cub first baseman Charlie Grimm.  I have posted a card of his before, a quick refresher....

He was a St. Louis native, but he also played on the Durham Bulls for one season early in his career.  Grimm had a solid 20 year career as a player, known as a great fielding first baseman.  Bill James has long considered him to be the greatest defensive player at the position.  He also had a pretty good run as a manager after he retired. 

Grimm was the manager of the Cubs for much of the 1930s and 1940s, and prior to 2016, had coached the last three Cubs teams to reach the World Series.  He ended his managerial career by working a few years for the Milwaukee Braves.  He helped turn over the roster as the team moved from Boston to Milwaukee, he leaned heavily on a few young players who he thought were superior to the veterans on the roster.  He swapped out guys like Earl Torgeson and Bob Elliot for Eddie Matthews and Joe Adcock, and sat Andy Pafko for Hank Aaron.  The Braves fired him before 1957, they did not give him a ring obviously, but he set up the team to win the World Series. 

Here the first Cholly Jolly card I added to my collection way back at the beginning of this year. 

I believe that this 1934 Goudey card is considered Grimm's official rookie card, but he had other cards long before this was printed during his playing days.  My second card of the longtime Cub is from the early 1920s.  Here is the card.....

This is a 1922 American Caramel card.  The card has some discolorations in different places, and the corners look only slightly rounded.  If only I could compare this to another card from this set, I'd be curious how the size of the borders are on this copy compare to others.  I am not saying that the card is altered, but I kind of suspect this has been trimmed a bit.  I traded for this card, and the person who traded it felt that the person they bought it from had some reputation with that sort of thing. 

I am not chasing anyone down, nor pointing any fingers.  Happy to take an old card with a bit of a discount due to it's "condition", which I will admit looks a little too good to be true. 

Back of the card. 

You can see more discoloration on the back of the card.  The front and back of the card has a similar orientation as the Cracker Jack cards.  I wish there was something more to the back, but this is from the 1920s, so no love lost because the American Caramel Company slapped some advertising on their baseball cards. 

Overall, I am really happy to add a second card of Grimm to my collection.  The former Durham Bull had a good playing career, and had some solid contributions as a manager.  I need to find a few of his manager cards, which will be a project for next year. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 27- 1982 O-Pee-Chee Lonnie Smith

The Topps Traded sets in the 1980s were great, but you had to wait all the way until the end of the year to get new cards of new players on your teams.  If you did not get the Traded sets, then you had to wait all the way until the following year to get the new players in their new uniform.  Then there were the O-Pee-Chee cards.  You know, the Canadian version of Topps. 

They were sort of a halfway point between the traded set and the regular Topps cards.  I am not sure when they came out during the year, but they often included traded players, so later than the base Topps set.  They also did not show the players in their new uniforms, just merely restyled their Topps card to fit the design of their new team. 

I have already covered a bunch of this in a post a few months back with a John Tudor card from the 1985 O-Pee-Chee set.  Great card.  

I know there are likely some who would put out that John Tudor is wearing a Pirates uniform, but the card clearly says, "Traded To Cardinals 12-12-84" and the logos and word marks also all belong to the Cardinals.  This is his first Cardinals card.  I feel like I could make a whole post of "Traded To..." posts of Cardinals O-Pee-Chee cards, but for today I am just going to stick with Lonnie Smith.  

Here is the card.  

Lonnie was a really important player on the 1982 Cardinals.  He finished second in the National League MVP voting in 1982 with almost 70 stolen bases, an average over .300, and an on-base percentage just a tad over .380.  The team won the World Series, so that's always a good thing.  

Prior to playing on the Cardinals, Lonnie played a few years for the Phillies.  It was the only team he played for prior to getting traded to the Cardinals.  Here is the back of the card.....

The coloring on the back is a little different than the standard Topps card, which were a little darker shade of green.  The information is obviously different since it is written in French and English.  Also love that Lonnie was a young enough player that you can see all of his Minor League stats, as well as his Major League numbers.  

Lonnie played on the Cardinals until the beginning of the 1985 when he was traded to the Royals to make room for Vince Coleman.  He was apart of the Pittsburgh cocaine trial along with Keith Hernandez and Joaquin Andujar.  That was where the guy who was inside Pirates parrot mascot was selling drugs to players.

Whitey Herzog ditched all the Cardinals players involved with the Pirates drug scandal.  Lonnie did get a 1985 O-Pee-Chee card, but it did not have a "Traded" stamp anywhere on the front of the card.

I have been saving the greatest 1980s Cardinals O-Pee-Chee card, might need to post it sooner than later.  Anyone have any ideas of player who might have a card like the Lonnie Smith or John Tudor card above?  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 25

Well, I have reached my goal of 25 Blake Snell autographed cards for the year.  

I couldn't have done it without all of you.  

Thank you for stopping by to read about all the autographs I have found over the past eleven and a half months.  

Also my wife for putting up with my baseball card collection, and my son for bringing in the mail most of the time.  

Here is the card.  

This is my third autographed card of Snell out of the Topps Clearly set.  I have the base autograph, the red parallel, and now the black parallel.  I like this better than the red parallel, but it's still not as good as the base autograph.  

Here is the back of the card.  

I really like the back of the Acetate cards.  The flipped image and the black and white player photo always look nice together.  I feel like black border on the front of the card does not offer the usual contrast with the design of the back, but I still like the overall appearance and design of this card.  

Now that I have reached my goal, that does not mean that I am done with Snell autographs for the year.  If there are quality cards at the right price I will consider adding them to my collection.  I also know that there is almost no way that I will get to 30 Snell autographs for the year unless someone goes crazy with cheap Buy It Nows on Ebay. 

I need to do this again next year.  Maybe with a different player.  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Revisiting An Old Favorite

Long ago, when I first started writing in this space, I am pretty sure that Triple Threads was my favorite product to collect.  I sort of held back all summer on new card releases, and then went crazy buying Triple Threads single cards.  Whatever was leftover was my budget for all the other cards that I was going to collect for the year. 

I flipped through some of my old boxes and checked out some of the old scans the other night while trying to wind down after work.  Fun to do. 

Here are a few things I found......

I don't even remember owning this Howie Kendrick autograph. 

Love how the signature is vertical on the card rather than horizontal.  Seemed like a nice find given his performance in the Postseason this year. 

I don't really collect relic cards anymore, but I have a bunch of Triple Threads that are just patches and jersey pieces.  This Miggy patch card with just a print run of 3 is probably my best one.  The smudges are on the case, not on the card. 

My favorite Triple Threads cards by far were the Triple Threads cards with the player nicknames.  Here are three good ones....

It did not matter whether it was autographed or not.  I am not a huge Ryan Braun fan, as a player, but the Hebrew Hammer card might be my favorite nickname card that is in my collection on a Triple Threads card. 

The more recent Triple Threads sets have always just been about names for me.  I am not really sure that Topps does a lot with the nicknames anymore, so I just go for the player.  So, really I end up with a few Cardinals and whatever former Durham Bulls players I can find. 

Probably my favorite Triple Threads card in recent years us this Jim Edmonds. 

Would love a "Jimmy Ballgame" card, but the 2004 NLCS is cool too.  

So, this year I have already added a Blake Snell autograph from Triple Threads, but there were a few more cards from the set that I decided to pick up in addition.  As much as I used to love this set, and enjoy the quick revisit for a week, these feel a little disappointing.  

First up is a Cardinals card.  

It used to be that the cards above at the top of the post were sort of the standard design for Triple Threads, but it feels like those types of cards are now secondary.  This Hicks card feels like the majority of cards that I run across in this set.  It's the usual generic autograph and relic piece that could be found in half a dozen other Topps products. 

Not the best autograph either from Hicks.  Yes, it's just this card.  Yes, it sold for cheap. 

Next up is a former Durham Bull. 

Again, same style as the Hicks card.  Adames had a good year for the Rays, if you do not know anything about him, or own any of his cards I would highly recommend you check him out.

Last card, another Durham Bull.  

I am not exactly sure how to describe this card.  It's not quite the cards at the top of the post, and it's not the same as the Hicks and Adames.  Sort of it's own thing.  I'd like to think of this as almost a generic version of the standard Triple Threads autograph/relic that Topps uses on players it has no clue about. 

Ryan Yarbrough? 

He's won a bunch of games.  What else does Topps know about him?  I'd guess nothing. 

I am excited about finding an autograph of the Rays starting pitcher.  He was in Durham a few years back, and seems like a decent starting pitcher.  He had another autographed card or two early in the year, but nothing I was overly excited about. 

Maybe another Triple Threads card or two next week, maybe not. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

2019 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 24

I am going to meet my goal of 25 Blake Snell autographs.  They are already all here sitting on my desk.  I got a little behind the past few weeks on Blake Snell cards though, so I am going to post them a little bit out of the order in which they arrived into my collection.  For today, I am going to go with an autograph out of Triple Threads.  This is usually a favorite product.

Here is the card.  

I am feeling like these cards are getting a little stale.  I have never minded that these cards were sticker autographs, but I feel like they are lost a little bit of creativity with the different phrases and sayings that are on the fronts of the cards.  Low IP 21 Wins?  That's not that great.  There is also a "RISP Stopper" card and a "Swings & Misses" card.  Both are better than the card I bought, but five or six years ago Topps would have slapped "Snellzilla" on his cards, which is better than all of them.  

Simple is better, just use his nickname.  

Someone slapped this card up with a low Buy It Now.  The card was cheaper than any other copy of this card that had sold up to that point.  The price of Snell Triple Threads cards has slid back a little more over the past week, so maybe I will find a second copy of this card with a different phrase on the front. 

Back of the card.  

The phrase "Low IP 21 Wins" is explained.  We get the usual disclaimer about the card being signed in front of someone from Topps.  Also the usually disappointing disclaimer about the relics on the cards, which means that they are likely from a jersey that Blake Snell once put on, walked around the clubhouse in, and then took it off.  

One more until I reach my goal.  

A 1980s Card Part 26- 1987 Topps Todd Worrell Record Breaker

Everyone loves the 1987 Topps set.  I think I would put it in the middle of the pack if I had to rank all of the 1980s Topps sets.  I guess the appeal is that the wood frame of the cards is similar to the 1962 Topps set, or something like that. 

Give me the 1962 Topps card all day. 

The first Cardinals card in the 1987 Topps set is a Record Breaker card for relief pitcher Todd Worrell, who set the Major League record for saves in a season by a rookie pitcher during the 1986 season.  Seems a little odd given that the most memorable moment of his career came before his rookie season while pitching in the Postseason for the 1985 Cardinals. 

He was a September call-up who stuck on the Postseason roster. 

Whitey Herzog used all sorts of pitchers in the closers role during the 1985 season, but Todd Worrell was used almost exclusively as the stopper during the playoffs.  He also did a pretty good job of covering first base during Game 6 of the World Series no matter what Don Denkinger called. 

The 1986 Cardinals were not very good, but Worrell still managed to save 36 games and set the Major League record.  Here is his 1987 Topps Record Breaker card......

Beyond the wood border, this Worrell card has another trademark of the 1987 Topps set, which is poor centering.  Possible on any Topps set, even today, but look at that top border.  That's pretty bad.  I actually like the action photo of Worrell and his high leg kick with the green background.  I am farily certain that every 1980s pitcher who threw hard had a giant leg kick and was incredibly slow to the plate.  Looks like the beautiful green concrete from Riverfront Stadium.  

Love those multi-purpose concrete bowls stadiums.  Surprised you cannot see the lines from the football field going across the diamond.  

Here is the back of the card.  


I would not have guessed that Doug Corbett had previously held the rookie saves record prior to Worrell.  I would have gone Lee Smith, or Jeff Reardon.  Worrell's record was broken by Kaz Sasaki in 2001 with the Mariners, but is currently held by former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.  It's probably only a matter of time before we get a rookie closer who saves 50 games.  They will likely pitch 50 innings or less too.  

Worrell ended up pitching until 1998, accumulating more than 250 saves with the Cardinals and Dodgers.  Pretty remarkable that he got that many saves though.  

While he was hardly a bust, Worrell had an injury shortened career, and his opportunities to close out games were limited at several points.  He missed almost two whole seasons in the prime of his career with arm injuries, and he spent one season with the Cardinals as a setup man for Lee Smith trying to rebuild his value for a run at free agency. 

Worrell lost his job closing out games for the Dodgers during his first season with the team, and only managed 11 his second season in Los Angeles.  He was terrible both years.  The 1994 baseball strike was terrible for the game, but the time off seemed to help Worrell.  He saved 112 games during his final 3 seasons in the Majors.  When you do the math, Worrell was really only the primary closer for his team during 7 seasons, so the 250 number is pretty impressive when given a little more context.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

No, The Pizza Was Not Good

I have been working on my La Pizza Royale set the last few weeks, chasing down all the color variation cards of two former Durham Bulls players that appeared in the 1970 Expos team set. 

Mauch played for the Bulls during the early 1940s, Staub during the early 1960s.  

So, last week something happened in my pursuit of collecting these cards.  I revisited the old Google website to see if I could dig out anymore information about the cards.  Anything.  When you type in "Montreal Expos La Pizza Royale" the first hit is a Trading Card Database page with the checklist.  

You can click on the 1970 sets link on the page and find checklists for all four color variations of these Expos cards.  Look, it's right next to Jack In Box.  

I really do not need the checklist though.  There are blue, green, red, and yellow cards of Staub and Mauch.  I need eight total cards to complete this little project.  So, at this point I typed in "La Pizza Royale" and I started to get suspicious.  

There are no La Pizza Royale stores.  

That's really not all that suspicious by itself considering that these cards came out in the early 1970s, but do you know how much people love pizza?  Type in the name of a pizza place that closed in your hometown and there is likely something about it floating around on the internet.  

Anyone in St. Louis remember Pantera's?  I know there is still one in O'Fallon, but there are people selling their old menus online, as well as several sites that have stories about the old anti-St. Louis style pizza.  

So, after a deep dig here is what I know:

1. The only "La Pizza Royale" restaurant is located in France.  I do not know if the pizza is good, but it looks a little weird.  Perhaps the French are as talented at pizza as southerners are at pasta.  Not a compliment. 

2. The "La Pizza Royale" set was actually created by Bob Solon.  Here is a snippet from a write up about the man who just went ahead and printed his own baseball cards.  

"Bob developed an affinity, or perhaps more accurately an affliction, for going after regional and team issues in quantity. Anyone could go to a store and buy the one annual issue of Topps cards, but Cardinal postcards, Seattle Rainiers issues, KahnsKelloggs and other regionals were a challenge................ The 1970 La Pizza Royale Expos was a set that I had been looking for to add to my type card collection. I finally found one card a few years ago. It is amazing that I found a single card. I should have asked Bob for a set. Bob and friends made up the name La Pizza Royale as well as about 800 sets and issued them to collectors for a few dollars a set. The photography, write-ups and sales were quite an accomplishment and a lot of work".

Fairly certain Bob would get slapped with a cease and desist order faster than you could order a real pizza from a real restaurant if he just printed a bunch of cards of Major League Baseball teams today.  

3.  The "La Pizza Royale" cards are still a neat little set, and I will just go ahead and finish off the set since I have already started.  In fact, I just picked up the red copy of the Gene Mauch card last week.  

4.  Yes, I am a little disappointed, but it is a three day weekend and there are several local sports teams in action.  I am off to watch a few games.  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Extraordinarily Ordinary

Who is the most average player who played for your rooting interest?  

As a Cardinals fan, I would vote for Todd Zeile.  

Todd Zeile was a really average player.  He was extraordinary at being ordinary.  

He was supposed to be a really good player, rated as high as the number 7 overall prospect by Baseball America prior to the 1990 season.  The team thought so much of Zeile that they let their starting catcher Tony Pena walk at the end of his contract so that he could have the starting job.  

Zeile would go on to play for 11 different teams over 16 seasons, but for seven of those years he appeared in a Cardinals uniform.  As a Cardinal, he never hit 20 home runs, drove in 100 runs only one time, and only twice had a slugging percentage over .450 and an OPS over .800.  The Cardinals moved Zeile's position on two different occasions to make room for other players who were considered better than him.  

Still, he was a Cardinal, and one of the few who played a significant number of games during the 1990s who did not have a certified autograph.  Welp, he finally signed a few cards for Topps, and I bought one last week.  

Not a new product, but the Buy It Nows for some of the Zeile cards on Ebay were upwards of $30.  For Todd Zeile?  No thank you.  I also whiffed on a few auctions, but finally ended up with one for less than $10 shipped.  

It's an above average effort on the part of Topps too.  

I specifically targeted this card since this is an autographed rookie card.  This card is from the 1990 Topps Major League Debut set.  This was actually a small box set.  Zeile had a short shelf life as an interesting player in my card collection in the early 1990s.  He quickly went from can't miss prospect to scapegoat in a short time.  I collected his 1989 and 1990 cards, but I was done at some point in 1991 or 1992.  

I also love that Topps, or perhaps it was Todd Zeile, used the gold colored ink on the card.  The dark colored dugout in the background would not hidden a blue or black ink signature.  Well done.  

Nothing great about the back of the cards.  I always thought that the fake newspaper clippings on this card were not the best way to share out information about the players in this set.  What is "The Register" exactly?  At least give me a real newspaper.