Saturday, February 29, 2020

Cards I Love Part 28 - 1983 Fleer Jim Smith

We have reached the end of the month.  How did I ever make a blog post per day a few years back?  No idea at this point, but we are down to the last card for February.  The last card for the month is my first card. 

This 1983 Fleer Jim Smith was the first card in my first pack.  The six year old me loved this card.  Look at those creases and rounded corners.  If I ever sell my baseball cards, I am selling them all except this one.  It's still one of my favorites to this day. 

Back to normal blogging stuff tomorrow. 

Cards I Love Part 27 - 1998 SP Authentic Chirography Ray Lankford

There were a bunch of Cardinals autographs in Leaf Signature and Donruss Signature, but I bought all of them as single cards, either from card shops or off of Ebay.  The first Cardinals autograph that I ever pulled out of a pack? 

Just my favorite 1990s Cardinals player.  

I bought a box of Upper Deck SP Authentic from 1,000,000 Baseball Cards in Ballwin, Missouri.  Upper Deck had rebranded the product that year, it had just been SP for years, so I was not sure quite what I was going to get.  The base cards are nice.  

Pretty standard Upper Deck baseball card product.  

Now, the autograph checklist in the 1998 set is really deep, lots of really good names.  It's 1990s Upper Deck, so there is a Griffey.  There is also a Tony Gwynn, ARod, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Scott Rolen, Vlad, Nomar, Roberto Alomar, Mike Mussina, and others.  

Those all would have been great cards to pull out of a pack, but there is no better feeling than opening a pack of cards, and seeing a great card of a player you collect.  Like many autographed cards, my first view of my first pack pulled Ray Lankford autographed card was the back.  

That Richard McWilliam signature on the back of the card brought a lot of joy back in the day.  I had to pause for a moment when I saw that the autograph was a Ray Lankford.  Best feeling while opening a pack of baseball cards.  

The front.  

Really sweet card.  Lankford does not have many autographed cards, but this has long been my favorite simply because I pulled it out of a pack of cards myself.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cards I Love Part 26 - 1915 Cracker Jacks Possum Whitted

I have always wanted to own a Cracker Jacks card.  They are an iconic set, but the majority of players that fit my collection would likely force me to take a second mortgage on my house.  I have had my eye on a few of these cards for awhile, and finally stumbled onto one this year at a reasonable price.  Less than $100.  

George Whitted is pictured as a member of the Phillies on this card, but he did play one season with the Cardinals.  More importantly, Whitted was a player and manager for the Durham Bulls during the late 1920s and into the early 1930s.  

I never thought I would own a Cracker Jacks card.  This is currently my favorite vintage card in my collection, and it's not really all that close.  

Back of the card.  

What is not to love here?  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cards I Love Part 24 & 25 - Cards That I Owned For A Week.

These cards are not even in my collection anymore.  I am not sure they was in my collection for more than a week.  I do not regret getting rid of them for a second, but they were a pair of cards that I will always remember owning.  Even if it was just for a few days.

I bought a box of 2001 Topps Heritage cards from the Sports Card Dugout in Webster Groves right after it was released.  I took the box home, opened the packs of cards, and landed a copy of the Classic Renditions Barry Bonds autograph.

There are only 25 copies of the card.

Even crazier is the fact that I landed a Nomar Garciaparra red autograph in the same box. 

I do not own this card either.  Owned it for less than a week just like Bonds.  

The odds for the Bonds are 1:19,710

The odds for the Nomar are 1:545

Getting one of the cards is phenomenal, especially the Bonds.  Both in the same box is ridiculous.  I listed them both on Ebay.  I got almost $1,100 for the Bonds and $200-$300 for the Nomar.  I don't remember the exact amount.  The same guy bought both.  

Are there cards not in my collection that I love? 

Yes, even if they were only there for just a week.  These are the best combination of cards that I have ever pulled from the same box.  Every once in awhile I search these two cards out on Ebay.  I am not going to buy copies of them.  I'd be sleeping on the porch.  Just kind of an ongoing curiosity.  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Cards I Love Part 23 - 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.

Upper Deck came out in 1989 with foil packaging and glossy cards.  I was still on Topps, Donruss, and Fleer.  I dabbled with Upper Deck during the early 1990s, but really did not appreciate the brand until the mid 1990s.  Maybe even later than that.  At a $1 per pack, it cut down on the quantity of cards that I could buy if I stuck with my usual brands.

I was in middle school when the Upper Deck card craze kicked in.  The two most important things in my life at the time were baseball cards, and pick up basketball games.  There were plenty of neighborhood kids with Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck cards, and all it would cost me was a large stack of all the other rookie cards that I cared about.  Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Tony Gwynn, Barry Larkin, Ryne Sandberg, Eric Davis, Darryl Strawberry, and Greg Maddux all probably would have left my collection if I had traded for a Griffey rookie.

To me, at the point in my life, Ken Griffey Jr. was a flashy player on SportsCenter.


All of those players listed above, I actually got to watch them in person.  They played against the Cardinals.  They had some sort of meaning outside of being a player with highlights on television.  Although, truth be told, I was the only kid in my neighborhood who had actually seen Ken Griffey Jr. in person.

The full box score is here.  This was on vacation.  The bottom of the box score says the weather conditions at the time of the game were unknown.  It was hotter than hot, and the Rangers had metal bleachers in their stadium.  Back to the card.  

I did not trade for an Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  

For years, the most important Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card in my collection was his 1990 Topps card.  I still love this card, and was more than happy with this being best Griffey card.  

Fast forward about 15 years into the future.  There was a brief window during my life when I did not teach.  It was something along the lines of six months.  I left St. Louis, moved to a small town in southeast Missouri, worked a job or two including managing meeting and convention space for a hotel and restaurant holding company.  I took some historical preservation classes on the side.  More into old buildings than old paintings.

So, one of the buildings I managed meeting and convention space was recently demolished, so this is  the only picture of the building that I can find on the internet.

This had really large rooms inside.  Large weddings, large corporate meetings, things with multiple hundreds of people showing up at an event.  I also had an office inside of the building, along with the office staff that actually worked on selling the dates for the meeting rooms.  There were really busy days with lots of meetings and things to set up, and other days where you were just hanging out.  You know, managing stuff.

One of the slower days, the office staff decided to clean out a box of random items that had been left behind at weddings and meetings.  All sorts of odds and ends.  Umbrellas, flasks, clipboards, mini bottles of liquor, notebooks, fountain pens, keys, centerpieces, candles, and one baseball card complete with a massive screw down holder.

The card was a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.  It was in great condition.

Front of the card.  So iconic.

Back of the card.  

Man, I loved that job.  It took me 15 years to find a copy of this card, but I landed one for nothing.  Actually, I was not really looking for it when I found it.  

I ended up getting a teach job that I was not really looking for a few weeks later.  There is a good parallel to the card.  I packed up my stuff and moved to North Carolina.  Long story how that happened.   Anyway, I love this card, because it reminds me of the brief time I was not a teacher.  Not for long, but I had a good time working in the business world.  

Cards I Love Part 22 - 1990 Upper Deck Ray Lankford

I have never tried to total up the number of Cardinals games I attended during high school and college, but at a minimum I probably went to a game nearly every weekend they were home between late May and August for eight years.  During that entire time, the Cardinals were good for exactly one year, which was 1996.  They went to the NLCS that season, and came within one game of the World Series.  


Name a Hall of Famer or good player from the 1990s who played in the National League, and there is a really good chance that I got to see them play a few times.  

The Cardinals had some name players, but the teams always had some sort of flaw.  The years McGwire was there were exciting, but the team did not have any pitching.  Early in the decade, the team was an odd group of cheap older players, young prospects that were always supposedly going to be the next big thing, and Ozzie Smith.  

Out of the group of young players, several went on to have decent careers, but Ray Lankford was the best of the group.  He hit for power, stole bases, and ran down balls in center.  Complete player.  He once ran over Darren Daulton to score the winning run in a game....


He also hit for the cycle, but I have already mentioned that in the last two weeks.  Moving on.  

I have shared several different Ray Lankford cards over the past for weeks on my thread of Cards That I Love.  Just like yesterday's Pujols post, my Ray Lankford collection had a starting point.  The first Lankford card that I remember in my collection was his 1990 Upper Deck.  

He was in a few other sets that year too, and those cards are in my collection, but I am betting this was the first.  I have a box in my card closet that has all sorts of serial numbered, short printed, and autographed Ray Lankford cards that I have found over the years.  The first card in the box is this 1990 Upper Deck.  It has been there for years.  I cannot remember when it was not the first Ray Lankford card in the box of Ray Lankford cards.  

Here is the back.  

I am never quite sure which way to turn these 1990 Upper Deck card backs.  The stats and blurb go one way, the picture goes another direction.  My favorite Upper Deck rookie card from this era (Griffey who?), and a card that I love having in my collection.  

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cards I Love Part 21 - 2001 Fleer Premium Albert Pujols

During the 2000 season, Albert Pujols had played the majority of the season with the Cardinals A-Ball team in Peoria.  He hit well enough to get a Spring Training invite, where he hit well enough to catch the attention of the other players, media members, and fans.  He seemed likely to go back down to the Minors though.  

From a February 15th interview with Tony LaRussa during Spring Training:

"Pujols shouldn't make the club," He paused. "But," La Russa added, "I didn't think McGwire was going to make the club in 1987."

Many thought that Pujols would be sent somewhere in the Minors to start the season, but then Bobby Bonilla pulled a hamstring at the end of Spring Training.  It was Bobby Bonilla's last season in the Majors, and he ended up doing almost nothing with the team.  He ended the year with a .213/.308/.339 slash line that included 5 home runs.  Yet, Bobby Bonilla getting hurt during Spring Training is one of the most important events in Cardinals history over the past two decades.  

The Cardinals response to Bonilla getting hurt: Call up Pujols.  

There were no 2000 baseball cards of Pujols, because I do not think he was on anyone's radar.  The Cardinals picked him in the 13th Round out of a junior college in Kansas City.  So, no Bowman cards of any sort.  He was not on a Major League roster of any sort, not on the 40 man, so Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, and whatever Donruss was at this point, could also not touch him.  

His first card?  At least the first I remember getting, was out of Fleer Premium.  It was not even clear that it was a Pujols card at the time.  Just a bland looking exchange card that simply promised you a rookie card.  No names attached.  Sort of a mystery redemption.  I wish I could find a copy of the redemption card somewhere, but I cannot.  

I ended up with two of them.  The first was a Wilson Betimet, who was a good prospect at the time.  He would later go on to disappoint me by a failing a drug test while playing for the Durham Bulls.  In 2001, that was a cool card, and Betimet was a very highly regarded prospect.   

My second exchange was the Albert Pujols rookie card:  

This card was the first Pujols card in my collection.  There are half a dozen other Pujols rookies that are roughly the same thing as this card, but being first counts for something.  In this case, I have always had a soft spot for this card.  Even if it is a pretty emblematic baseball card of the 2000s, and there is very little that is unique or special about this card.  I love this card, and it will always be in my collection. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Cards I Love Part 20 - 2001 Topps Update Chrome Albert Pujols

I have never really loved the design of the 2001 Topps set.  Green borders?  There are other years with worse designs, but it is definitely in the bottom half of my favorite Topps sets of all-time.  I am willing to overlook the green border in the case of an Albert Pujols card that was included in the Topps Update set in 2001. That would be the Chrome parallel card.  The Chrome cards were two or three per pack, not sure about the exact ratio, but I pulled this card in 2001.  

Shout out to the Sports Card Dugout in Webster Groves, Missouri for selling me the box. 

The green on the Chrome cards looks a little different, and the shine on the finish of the cards makes the gold printing pop a little more.  Here is the regular Topps Update Pujols rookie card.  

You can see the differences in the green and gold coloring on the card.  I know a lot of people who like the regular Topps Update card, but for me the darker green and gold looks a little sharper.  

The Topps Update Chrome is a pretty easy choice as my favorite Topps rookie card of Pujols, and my second favorite overall behind his Bowman Heritage card.  I know they are really the same company, different brands though.  I also really like the picture showing Pujols batting.  His stance is really easy to recognize, and Topps did a good job of capturing it on his rookie card.  

The coloring on the regular Update card bothers me enough that I actually put his eTopps card ahead of it as my second favorite Topps Pujols rookie card.  

More Pujols cards this weekend.  

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Cards I Love Part 19 - 2001 Bowman Heritage(s) Albert Pujols

We have now reached the Albert Pujols portion of these posts.  I am not saying that the final 10 cards are all Albert cards, but there are several left.  I wanted to hold these cards off towards the end of the month, so that I would have a little bit more time to write and add on to the rough outline of the posts.  I started writing about baseball cards in 2012, the same year that Pujols left the Cardinals for the Angels. 

I was not really thrilled about it at the time, and I have probably not spent enough time on his cards during the past 7 plus years.  I had a huge collection of Albert Pujols cards while he was a Cardinal, many of them are still here.  I cut down on the volume when he went to Anaheim.  I would really like the chance to sit down and type out some thoughts on some of these cards. 

First up, my favorite Albert Pujols rookie card(s). 

The 2001 Bowman Heritage is one of the simplest Pujols rookies, which is what makes it so great.  The card has a black and white photo, a plain white border, and old school card stock.  Simple is better in this case.  Much better. 

I love modern cards as much as the next person. There are tons of Pujols rookie cards with serial numbers, autographs, die-cuts, foil, relics, and all sorts of other attributes that belong on a card made in 2001.  Many great cards, and a few really bad ones.  Yep, there are bad Pujols rookies. 

Donruss Class of 2001. 


I do have one other Bowman Heritage Pujols rookie card, only this one has never made an appearance on the blog.  The Bowman Heritage card pictured above has appeared in a couple of other posts.  The other one is a bit of a hard card to find these days.  The card below was a promotional item that Topps gave out at the National Convention in 2001. 

Same basic concept with a different picture.  I don't know how many of these cards are around, I just know they have become rarer and rarer.  I find it to believe that a card given out a convention is somehow hard to find.  I could see Topps giving these out by the truckload.  Maybe not.  

The back of the card has a Topps advertisement at the bottom of the blurb.  Love the 888 customer service number on the back.  

The regular card is my favorite, but the promo feels a lot like it would be ranked 1A if I were making a list of all my Albert Pujols rookie cards.  There are so many good ones though, a few more of them this weekend.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Cards I Love Part 18- 1999 Topps Mark McGwire #220

This is the Mark McGwire card with the 70 different variations.  The 70 variations are for each of the 70 home runs that he hit during the 1998 season.  I pulled my first copy of this card from my box of 1999 Topps Series 1 that I picked up the day after Thanksgiving that year.  

It was a pretty good variation to pull.  

I never really made a serious attempt to put together all of the 70 different variations.  Some are tough to find, some are expensive.  I think the steroid stuff probably was a bit of a wet blanket on taking on that project as well.  Instead of taking on the whole set, I actually went through all my ticket stubs, programs, and scorecards to figure out which of the 70 McGwire home runs from 1998 I saw in person.  

The most I have spent on one of these cards was for a #70.  I do not remember the exact number, but I want to say it was between $15-$20.  My favorite one though has to be the #3 variation, which was the first McGwire home run that I saw that year.  

This game took place on my 21st birthday.  I drove up to see the game with some college friends.  The card back has some good information about the home run, including the date, the pitcher, and the location in the stadium.  

In video form.  

I love these cards because they are a game specific variations.  They are attached to an actual game that I saw in person.  I think that if I had put together the whole set of variations together, they might have actually lost a little bit of meaning.  I pulled a few out of packs, and have roughly a dozen other variation cards.  Topps did something similar for Sosa in this same set, and again with Bonds when he broke McGwire's record in 2001.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Cards I Love Part 17 - 2016 Pro Debut Blake Snell Autograph

I collect Durham Bulls cards.  Old players, modern players, former players, or current players.  Really does not matter.  They have been a fun team to collect the past decade plus that I have been following the team.  I definitely have a favorite Durham Bulls player, and a favorite card of that Durham Bulls player. 

This is a pretty self-explanatory post.

There were 30 Blake Snell autographs post on here last year.  He's my favorite former Durham Bulls player.  My favorite Snell autograph is his Durham Bulls autograph from the 2016 Pro Debut set. 

There are not many recent cards on my list of 28 cards that I am posting this month, but this is one of a handful.  It is also the only card on my list that has a player in a Bulls uniform.  Kind of surprising. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Cards I Love Part 16 - 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith

In my last post, I showed off my 1986 Topps Vince Coleman card.  It was my dream card in 1986, and I worked hard to track down a copy of the card.  Actually, I just opened a bunch of packs throughout the summer until I got one. 

I did have one card I wanted badly as a kid, but never managed to track one down.  In fact, at some point it became sort of an after thought.  I skipped over getting a copy year after year.  I am not sure how this happened, but I did not own a copy of an Ozzie Smith card until 2006. 

It's true. 

I was living and working in Durham at the time I picked up the card.  The school I worked at was not too far from a card shop in Durham that was on Duke Street.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the shop, but when you went inside, it was mainly filled with Magic and Pokemon card players.  Still, they had a decent number of single cards and baseball boxes. 

I had gone into the store with the intention of purchasing a 2006 Topps Heritage box one day after school, but my plans quickly changed when the employee running the store noted that I was wearing a Cardinals jacket, and they had some Cardinals singles they were looking to "unload".  That was the term he used.  When I think "unload", I take it to mean you are going to give me some sort of discount or deal.  I still listened to his pitch, flipped through the cards.  Base Topps and Upper Deck Pujols rookie cards for $100 is not really following through on "unload" though, so I passed. 

Except, there was one card that had a price that interested me. 

There was an Ozzie rookie with a sticker that originally read $80 in black ink, but there were several red lines marked through the price.  The new price was $25.  It was in really good shape.  I bought it. 

A little off center, but not too bad.  Great price for a great card, but my budget for the 2006 Topps Heritage box was obviously blown.  The shop did have several older boxes of cards that were marked 50% off, and some of them were decent products.  One of them was a 1999 Topps HD box marked all the way down to $35.  That's $60.   

I have pulled one Derek Jeter autograph in my life, which is somewhat incredible given the number of autographs he has signed, versus the number of packs of cards that I have opened during that time frame.  The one autograph?  

It was in the box of 1999 Topps HD.  

Pretty good day.  

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Cards I Love Part 15 - 1986 Topps Vince Coleman

I have written a lot about this card over the years, so I am going to keep this post short.  There are only so many times that you can write about a card.  A brief summary for your Sunday morning. 

There are a lot of people who have pointed out the lack of important rookie cards in the 1986 Topps set over the years.  The nine year old me strongly disagrees with that assessment of this set.  The Vince Coleman card is the best rookie in the 1986 Topps set.  It's important.  You should own one.  If you don't your in luck.  A lot of people do think there is a good rookie card in the 1986 Topps set, and this card is cheap. 

I spent my entire spring, summer, and fall in 1986 trying to pull a copy of this card out of a pack of cards.  My parents bought me two packs per week at the grocery store.  Plus there were trips to Ben Franklin during the week too.  Eventually, I landed one. 

Who wouldn't want the rookie card of the last player who stole 100 bases? 

We are at 32 years and counting since Coleman stole his 100th base of the 1987 season against the Mets in mid September. 

He ended the year with 109 steals. 

For some, the trio of Willie McGee rookies are their favorite first year Cardinal cards from the 1980s, but I gave Coleman the nod at the time.  I still like the 1986 Topps Vince Coleman rookie card more.  Nothing against Willie.  He's one of my favorite Cardinals, and I do really like his rookie cards.   This was I card I loved as a kid, and as an adult.  I still love it. 

I actually own the photo negative from the Topps Super version of this card. 

Same thing as the regular Topps card, just on a larger scale.  

Friday, February 14, 2020

Cards I Love Part 14 - 2003 Topps Chrome Record Breakers Stan Musial Jersey Relic

Did you read Part 13? 

No?  Read here. 


This is the second single card that my wife bought me at the card shop in St. Louis.  It was my Christmas present in 2006, along with the Yadier Molina autograph.  It's a Topps Chrome Record Breakers relic card.  The relic actually looks old, not just something from an old timers game, but who knows at this point. 

I really like this set.  I do not own the set, but I own a lot of the cards.  This is a good mix of a modern design with an older player.   

Can we talk about the record listed on the front of the card for a minute?  

I like math.  I teach math.  When I saw the number 86 extra base hits in a season, I thought that there was something wrong with that number.  That's a large number, but I know Pujols had several seasons near 100 extra base hits, and they were short of Musial's best seasons.  

So, entering the 1946 season the Cardinals Top 5 extra base hits leaders in a single season were:

1. Rogers Hornsby 102
2. Joe Medwick 97 
3. Joe Medwick 95
4. Jim Bottomley 93
5. Rogers Hornsby 90 

Johnny Mize actually had 86 during the 1939 season, which he later topped during the 1940 season.  The "record" total on the Musial card was actually good for only 8th best on the Cardinals all-time single season extra base hit list in 1946.  I say that as if it's a bad thing, the players on this list are all great names.  Also, the 1946 season was also early in Stan Musial's career.  Two seasons later in 1948, Musial had 103 extra base hits in a season, which is the actual franchise record.   

Stan hit 39 home runs, and managed to lead the National League in both doubles (46) and triples (18) during his record breaking season. All the time, pitchers only struck out Musial 34 times that season.  

Perhaps Topps should hire someone to do some better research on their baseball cards.  

Great card, and a great Christmas present. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Cards I Love Part 13 - 2005 Donruss Yadier Molina Autograph

I have known my wife since the Spring of 2006.  We played on a kickball team together that was made up of teachers called "The Playground Bullies".  We worked at different schools, but had common friends.  In all of the years we have been together, my wife has bought me exactly two single baseball cards.  She doesn't even try to keep track of what cards I have, or do not have in my collection.  It's just easier for her to buy me packs. 

She bought both of the single cards for me while we were in St. Louis for Thanksgiving in 2006. 

One of my regular stops in St. Louis used to be a small card shop in south St. Louis County called Southtown Sluggers.  It was a great little shop.  I worked in that part of St. Louis for awhile, and used to stop by the store from time to time after work.  Tons of interesting items, and lots of great cards to flip through.  I never took pictures of the store, but there are a few attached to a Patch article from 7 years ago. 

The article can be found here. 

A few St. Louis people have told me that Dave, the owner of Southtown Sluggers, still shows up at some of the bigger shows like the Cardinals Winter Warm-Up.  Not sure if that's true or not, but needless to say I do not get to any shows anymore in St. Louis. 

At the end of my visit to the card shop over Thanksgiving weekend in 2006, I went and sat in my car by myself for a few minutes while my wife picked out some cards to give me for Christmas that year.  One of the cards was a 2005 Donruss Yadier Molina Autograph. 

I have a whole stack of Yadier Molina autographs, but this one is at the top of my list.  Definitely a keeper, and a card I love. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Cards I Love Part 12 - 2003 Bowman Chrome Delmon Young

Thanksgiving weekend of 2005, I packed up my Toyota Camry, and moved myself to Durham, North Carolina.  I was in my late 20s, was in need of a change of scenery, and had a chance to take on a new teaching job in a new place.  The move also gave me a new baseball team to watch.

The first few months living in North Carolina were filled with basketball season, which is serious business in these parts.  It was rather eventful too, but luckily I was just a neutral observer at this point. 

Baseball season started in April, and my first Durham Bulls game ended in a walk-off grand slam by shortstop prospect B.J. Upton.  It was an incredible game, and I was immediately a fan of the Rays Triple A team. 

The Bulls were loaded with talent, and the games were fun to watch. B.J. Upton, Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes, Darnell McDonald, Sean Burroughs, Ben Zobrist, Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, J.P. Howell, and James Shields all played for the Bulls the first year I followed the team.  There were at least another dozen players who appeared in the Majors beyond my list of names above.  Kevin Witt, the team's first baseman, added to the season by winning the International League MVP with 36 home runs and 99 RBIs in just 128 games. 

Somehow that much talent ended the season 14 games under .500.  The Bulls were one of the worst teams in the league.  Beyond all the talent, the Bulls were filled with all sorts of characters and disfunction.  B.J. Upton got a DUI hanging out in Chapel Hill, Elijah Dukes was Elijah Dukes, and Delmon Young threw a bat at an umpire after striking out and arguing the call. 


As a baseball card collector, I was determined to collect a few of these players.  They were not really that bad, right?  Surely, they would figure it out at some point.  I decided that I was going to collect Delmon Young cards.  He was the top rated prospect in all of baseball, and he looked the part while watching him.  Delmon was not going to let me down, so I picked up a copy of his 2003 Bowman Chrome autograph.  

It was my first great Durham Bulls card in my collection.  I loved this card, and was determined to make it work out.  Delmon Young was going to be a great player.  He was called up to the Majors at the end of the 2006 season, and made his Major League debut against the White Sox.  

Freddy Garcia promptly drilled him in the ribs during his first at-bat, but that was fine since Delmon took him yard later in the game.  Delmon Young was going to be a great player, it was going to work out.  

Delmon spent a decade in the Majors shuffling from team to team.  He said a lot of stupid stuff, burned a lot of bridges, and he hit like he was a Hall of Famer during the playoffs.  Delmon won the 2012 ALCS MVP Award, and had several other playoffs series with video game like numbers.  He was clutch.  

That was Delmon's career.  Every October he hit, but between April and September a lot of other stuff happened that was cringe worthy.  

I do love my 2003 Bowman Chrome Delmon Young autograph, but I think of the card as the beginning of my Durham Bulls card collection, rather than a card I own because of the player pictured on the front.  After all, even after he retired Delmon is still doing a lot of interesting stuff.

I should also point out that while the Bulls teams I have watched since the first year have not always had the same caliber, nor quantity of talent as that first team I watched, the nine division titles, four International League titles, and two Triple A Championships have more than made up for the disfunction.  Good thing I got this Delmon Young card, and started my Bulls collection.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Cards I Love Part 11 - 1998 Skybox EX 2001 Essential Credentials Ray Lankford

There are writers who have those blogs that are only about one set.  I do not think I could do that.  It's hard enough for me to stick to a consistent theme, like Cards That I Love, for month let alone do it for a longer period of time.  The Night Owl 1985 Topps Blog is a masterpiece.  If you have not read it, you are missing out.  Went all out and even did the Traded set too.

If there were ever going to be a set that I could turn into its own blog, it would probably be some modern small set like the 1998 Skybox EX 2001 set.  That was one of my favorite sets from the late 1990s.  Twenty some years later, it is still one of my favorite sets from that era.

Not the Ray Lankford card mentioned in the title, but this is the base card.  Half acetate, half foil.  It is the quintessential modern baseball card.  If you do not own any of these cards, I suggest you find a few for your collection.

Now for Ray.

I did not do parallel sets in the late 1990s.  If I pulled one from a pack that was fine, otherwise I was not going to go chase down a bunch of serial numbered cards with different colored foil or the whatnot.  However, I really liked the 1998 Skybox EX set, and I decided to venture out on a limb with this set by finding a few Essential Credentials cards.

There are not many Cardinals in the set, and a hard to find McGwire parallel in the late 1990s has outrageous written all over it.  So, instead I went after the Ray Lankford cards.  There are two parallel sets in the 1998 Skybox EX set.  There is a Essential Credentials Now and Essential Credentials Future.  There is some formula to how they are serial numbered, but that's a long story.  I like to think of them as a pinkish serial numbered set, and a gold colored parallel set.

I ended up with the Essential Credentials Future card, which is the pink parallel, as my big find from this product. 

I have the Essential Credentials Now card too, but I am sticking with the Futures card for this post.  

This is a card that I love for several reasons.  

First, it is just a great looking card.  Who collected in the late 1990s, and wouldn't want to own a card like this of their favorite player?  I ended up with several of these cards that are not Lankfords, and I love those too.  Maybe not as much.  I also own the 1999 Skybox EX Lankfords, which look a little different.  

Second, I had always collected Ray Lankford cards, but this card tilted me into doing more with finding some of his good cards.  It is tough to collect cards of some of the late 1990s players, their parallels are expensive and hard to track down.  By no means do I have a great Lankford collection, but I do consider it very nice.  This is my favorite of his tough parallel cards that I own.  

Monday, February 10, 2020

Cards I Love Part 10 - 2010 Triple Threads Brian Fuentes All-Star Game Patches

This is actually a post about I how started blogging. 

It all started at some point during the early weeks of 2012 on a Facebook trading group.  I was really big into trading and selling cards at that point, and one of my trading partners at the time suggested that I give writing about cards a shot.  He had a blog with some cards, but it was actually heavy on bobbleheads.  Unfortunately, he stopped writing awhile ago, and his page is not even up anymore. 

Josh from DodgerBobble is still on Instagram.  He still has a great collection of bobbles and autographs up on that page. 

I started off writing for a few minutes each day.  It was a good outlet after work.  It provided me a space to talk about the baseball cards that I was collecting.  It also provided me a chance to connect with other people interested in this hobby.  I really enjoyed spending time writing in this space. 

When I first started writing, I spent a lot of time on cards that I got in the mail from either trades, or buying them off of Ebay or Facebook.  The first card that appeared on my blog was a mail day, and rather random at that. 

This was the card. 

Brian Fuentes had not been a Cardinal yet.  My main reason for buy or trading for this card, I cannot remember how it got here, was that it was from the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis.  I do not have the complete set of these Triple Threads cards, but I have a lot of them.  I like writing, I still enjoy this space, so this card is a pretty important one in my collection simply for the fact that it was the first one here. 

In a strange twist, while I do not collect Brian Fuentes cards, his only other appearance on my blog is one of my most read posts of the past almost eight years.  The post is a rant about really bad airbrushing on Brian Fuentes and Mark Mulder cards. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Cards I Love Part 9 - 1948 Leaf Stan Musial

I do not know if anyone has ever done a list of the greatest Cardinals baseball cards, but the 1948 Leaf Stan Musial would be near the top of the list.  I also really like his 1948 Bowman card, I just don't own one, so this Leaf card is the best Musial card in my collection.  It's one of the best cards of the best Cardinals player of all-time. 

I picked up a copy of this card about five or six years ago after having a good month selling off some cards from my collection.  It felt like a bit of an accomplishment to pick up this card.  There is not a really cool story, other than the fact that I found a pretty clean copy, and went for it.

This is my copy.  

The centering is way off, and I am fine with that.  The surface has a few little dings, and I am fine with that too.  The edges and corners pretty are clean.  

I had a dream card as a kid, and it's got a post coming up in a few days.  As an adult, I am not sure that I have had a singular dream card, but this has been one of my favorite cards I have picked up over the past couple of years.  If I had to rank all the vintage cards that I have added to my collection since I have been blogging, this would be at the top of the list.  

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Cards I Love Part 8 - 1961 Topps Bob Gibson

I had several 1960s Cardinals cards as a kid.  All of them were lesser known players, and most of them had some wear and tear.  If they did not have wear and tear, they did after the eight year old me was done handling them a bunch of times. 

This feels like a good example. 

At some point in late elementary school, one of the strip malls that was a few miles from my house was remodeled to include a Vic Tanny, some sort of castle shaped sporting goods store, and a baseball card shop.  I believe the shop was St. Louis Sports Collectables.  The store later moved down Manchester Road and was near the Wal-Mart and Post Office in Manchester.  Don't quote me on the name, but I am fairly certain. 

From time to time I would get a nice card from the shop, which included my first good vintage Cardinals card. This 1961 Topps Bob Gibson card is one of my favorite cards in my collection. 

This was my first good Cardinals vintage card, and the second vintage Hall of Famer in my collection after the Don Drysdale card that appeared in the first post of this series.  I am pretty sure that I added both cards within a few months of each other.  I added other good Cardinals vintage cards over the years, but this being the first has long been my favorite.  

This is the back of the card.  

Love that they mention that Gibby played for the Harlem Globetrotters on the back of the card.  The cartoons on the back of the old Topps cards are great. 

A few years back, I was out and about at a card show when I ran into a really clean copy of this card.  I am all about finding cleaner, better copies of vintage cards in my collection.  I sell the poor copies, I lose a little bit of money in the process, but I am usually happy with the upgrade. 

Here is the second Gibson card I ended up with. 

The card is much cleaner, but it has always bothered me that I actually thought about upgrading this card.  I never ended up selling either copy of the card, but I can definitely tell the two apart and keep the original in front of the other in the box where they are stored.  Easily one of my favorite baseball cards.  

Friday, February 7, 2020

Cards I Love Part 7- 1998 Fleer Tradition Update J.D. Drew

I was positive that J.D. Drew was going to be a great baseball player.  He was incredible in college, and I thought that would carry over to professional baseball.  When the Cardinals drafted him out of Florida State in 1998, I got really excited to see him on a baseball card.  Drew got through the Cardinals Minor League system in half of a season, and made his Major League debut the same night Mark McGwire hit his 62 home run.  

He pinch hit for Kent Merker in the 6th inning, and then stayed in the game in place of Ron Gant in left field.  

There were three early J.D. Drew cards that I loved at the time, and that I thought would be a good start to a collection of his cards.  I still love all three of them to this day.  Obviously my favorite is the 1998 Fleer Update, which I will talk more about in a minute.  The other two were 1999 cards.  

One is the 1999 Pacific Private Stock card.  

I like the design of these cards.  They were released early in the 1999 card calendar, so probably one of my first J.D. Drew cards after his 1998 Fleer Update.  I think it was pretty highly sought after at the time, but you can find it for little to nothing now.  A dollar might be too much for this card.  

I also liked his SPx card, which was autographed.  

Lastly, there was the 1998 Fleer Update card.  You could only get the card in a box set, and I went to college in a town without a real baseball card store.  Technically, there was one there, but the guy who ran it was a jerk.  I did not really like to go in there if at all possible.  So, I had to acquaint myself with a little website known as Ebay.  

It looked awesome in those days.  

I don't remember what the boxed update sets cost at that time, maybe $20 or so.  PayPal was not a thing at that point that I was aware of, so I had to find a place to buy a money order in the little town I was living, and send off to get my Fleer Update set.  It was my first ever Ebay transaction, so it was kind of a big deal.  

The closet place to campus to get a money order was a hole in the wall store front that also offered notary service, P.O. boxes, and all sorts of odds and ends.  Basically a ma and pa UPS store with an old guy smoking cigars.  I put my money order in the mail, and a week or two later I had a package slip in my mailbox at college.   

(Glowing sound) 

You can find these sets for so little now.  A couple of bucks max.  

There are other good players in the set, but all I really cared about was the J.D. Drew rookie card.  It was a thing of beauty in my opinion.  

Here is the front of the card.  

and the back of the card.  

Drew never lived up to his hype, but at the same time he was not really as big of a bust as people some times make him out to be.  He was an above average for the majority of his career and had some healthy career numbers by the time he retired at the end of the 2011 season.  

If nothing else, he was the reason the Cardinals ended up with Adam Wainwright.  

The 1998 Fleer Update card is still sorted in with all of my really good rookie cards.  Plenty of reason to still love this card.