Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Last Year's Bulls

I did not get many cards of the Durham Bulls players last year.  I am not sure why exactly, there were plenty of older players on the team who had cards and certified autographs before joining the team.  I ended up with a few of them over the last two weeks since I have been at home.  Most of them are pretty inexpensive. 

All autographs.  

First up is former Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens.  He was only on the Bulls for two games, and I managed to be at one of those two appearances.  I had seen him before while he was playing for the Lehigh Valley, which is the Phillies Triple A team.  

This autograph is from last year's Gypsy Queen set.  It's an on card autograph, and a really inexpensive card.  Maybe waiting a year to collect these cards might be the way to go.  


Jalen Beeks was another player who was barely in Durham.  A grand total of three games, but he pitched over 100 innings last year in Tampa.  Not the best player on the Rays, so I would not be surprised if he ends up back in Durham again at some point.  Beeks is another player I saw a few times playing for another team.  He was on Pawtucket for two seasons prior to joining the Rays last year.  

I like the Chrome autographs.  I think he actually has two of these, but one of them has a sticker autograph.  I like this card.  


I saw Nick Solak while he was at Louisville.  He played half a year with the Bulls last season, and then got traded away to the Rangers.  They brought him up to the Majors at some point, and he ended up hitting.  I think Solak has a chance to be a decent player in the future.  I really like the 1985 Topps design on this card.  

Last one for tonight.  

I love when the Bulls have players like this on there roster.  Emilio Bonifacio has played 11 years in the Majors, and made more than enough money to retire.  Yet, he spent time as a 30 something year old playing baseball in Triple A.  I think you really have to like the game to stick around and ride the bus around in the Minors in that situation.  

This is an older autograph from the 2010 Upper Deck set.  Bonifacio actually has a bunch of autographs from earlier in his career.  Some are pretty nice.  

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 37 - 1988 Smokey Bear John Tudor

I think that I have mentioned my love for the Cardinals Smokey Bear giveaway sets on these 1980s Cardinals posts before.  They were the baseball card set giveaway during the mid to late 1980s.  I know that I have done a few of these before, just not from the 1988 set.  I like all the Smokey Bear sets, but this is my absolute favorite. There are some great photographs in the set, plenty of action shots, and the simple design really works for me.  

John Tudor had a really good 1988, so I thought I would use his card from this set.  Plus, I like this action shot of him pitching.  

He started out 1988 with the Cardinals, only managed to win 6 games, but that was more about a lack of run support than the quality of his pitching.  The Cardinals did not have a great offense in 1988, in part because they decided to sign Bob Horner to play first base.  He did not hit.  So, the Cardinals traded John Tudor to the Dodgers for Pedro Guerrero.  

How did Tudor's year turn out?  

He started Game 3 of the World Series, and the Dodgers closed out the A's in 5 games.  Shout out to the A's for playing the Golden Girls theme in the background when the Dodgers win.  It starts at 0:23 on the video.  

Pedro had some good years with the Cardinals, and managed to get a Smokey Bear Cardinals card the following year.  So, that was a good thing.  

If you collect Cardinals cards, and do not own some of these Smokey Bear cards, the sets and the singles are both pretty cheap to buy on places like Ebay.  The 1988 is seriously incredible.  As I said before, so many great pictures.  Just picking out a random card to scan as an example......

Saturday, March 28, 2020

This Card Is Terrible.

Long before getting stuck at home, I had found another copy of a 2012 Topps Archives Jose Oquendo autograph.  For those not familiar with the player, or the cards, here is a little background.

Oquendo played for the Cardinals during the 1980s and 1990s.  Whitey Herzog, the Cardinals manager nicknamed him "The Secret Weapon".  He played almost every game, but you just did not always know where he was going to play.  Players got double switched out of games, and you could almost bet that part of the substitution would be Oquendo playing somewhere else.  

Topps decided as a part of their 2012 Archives set to include Jose in their autograph set.  They also added a little wrinkle, by making 9 different versions of the card, one for each position.  I have a bunch of the cards, but not all of the cards.  They are all on a 1988 Topps style card.  

One already in the collection......

The late 1980s were the prime years for Jose Oquendo, so I really like that they used this 1988 style card for the autograph set.  

My newest card from the set arrived a few weeks back, and has been sitting on desk.  I took a little time to catch up on life yesterday, which included a little time cleaning.  I took the card out of the envelope, scanned it, and filed it away in its box.  Scanning and filing is kind of non-thinking activity at times, my brain flies on automatic.  

At some point, I came back and looked at the scan.  This card is terrible.  

Why is Jose Oquendo all blurry?  

Why is the catcher in the background blurred out?  

Why did I not notice this before I bought the card?  

So, I did a little digging.  Maybe there is a reason why the card is made this way.  

It's obviously a game at Busch Stadium.  Oquendo has a patch on his sleeve.  The Cardinals wore sleeves patches three times during Oquendo's career:

  • The 1992 season, which was the team's 100th Anniversary.

  • In 1990, in memory of long-time owner Gussie Busch

  •  During the 1987 World Series against the Twins.  

The blue catchers gear pointed me towards the 1987 World Series.  

Google search "Jose Oquendo" and "1987 World Series" and what turns up?  

Clearly the same play.  I just don't get the reason behind blurring out the Twins catcher and using a grainy photo of Jose Oquendo.  Is Tim Launder not allowed on baseball cards anymore?  

This is the center fielder variation of the Jose Oquendo cards.  Isn't there a photo somewhere of Oquendo playing the outfield?  

This photograph is easily one of the worst I have seen on a baseball card, and I just do not understand why the card has to look this way.  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Break For Cards

I am taking a break for cards.

It is going to take a few minutes to scan the cards that were in my mailbox this afternoon.

I am taking a break, because it has been a busy day.  

I spent my morning teaching my own third grader reading and math.  

This afternoon, I spent time making rules for a Google Meet that I am having with the group of third graders that I teach for my day job.  Here are the rules.  

No, you cannot show up for the meeting, but please continue reading.

My third graders were actually supposed to be reading with a kindergarten class today.  Reading buddies.  Everyone loves reading buddies.  Since we are not in school, I found my own reading buddy.

I could not find a kindergartener, so I settled for a student from the 3 year old Preschool room that is currently meeting everyday in my living room.  

We made a grainy video reading the book "Dragons Love Tacos 2".  Earlier in the week, I read "Dragons Love Tacos".  Great books, if you are currently teaching kids I highly recommend both.  My reading buddy enjoyed these books.  

The three year old room is generally a pretty good class, unless it's nap time.  

I am going to call that kid's parents later tonight.  

The scanner has stopped.  I hope these cards were worth the wait.  

First up is a Brandon Lowe card.  This is from last year's Topps Tek set.  Nice card.  His cards have become a little more affordable over the last few months, so I am starting to loop back and pick up a few of the ones I missed out on.  

Similar story with this Ryan Helsley autograph.  I like the design too.  That's a huge draw to this card.  I wish the airbrushing on the front of his jersey was a little better, but overall still a really good card.  

Last two are 2020 Topps cards.  I am not putting together the complete set of these, but I am trying to pick up a bunch of the Cardinals and former Durham Bulls players.  I have picked up a few from the few packs that I have opened.  I also picked up a Snell from COMC before it all but closed down.  

Love the detail with the team's keep the same color schemes as they had in the 1985 set.  Wish they would have used the 1985 logos though.  That would have been a nice touch.  

Picked up a Pujols too, so I guess I am also collecting former Cardinals players.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 36 - 1986 Donruss Tito Landrum

It has been really hard to find the motivation to write during the last week.  I do not have a job where I normally sit very much, nor do I spend much time looking at screens. After a long normal day of not sitting in front of a computer screen, ten to fifteen minutes to talk about baseball cards is the perfect way to unwind.  With my school going to distance learning, I am spending a lot of time on my computer, and often just want to walk away by the middle of the afternoon.

I hope everyone is healthy, and finding plenty to do while they are at home.  On with the baseball cards.  I really like this one. 

Tito Landrum was not really that good of a player, but he was still a favorite with Cardinals fans during the 1980s.  He was mainly a right handed bat off the bench, and the Cardinals started him against left handed pitchers during the early parts of Andy Van Slyke's career.  He did not have any power, only 13 career home runs over 9 years in the Majors, and did not have much speed either.  Tito only stole 17 bases in his entire career.  That's a really low number for a 1980s Cardinals player. 

Tito's claim to fame actually came after he was traded away to the Orioles in 1983.  He hit the series clinching home run in the American League Championship Series against the White Sox. 

He was later traded back to the Cardinals.  

Why do I love this card?  It's pretty cool to see a regular position power doing a little catching.  Always makes for a good card.  Fleer made a really good card of Brian Jordan wearing catcher gear for the Ultra set in 1998.  

I like the Jordan card better than the Landrum card for obvious reasons.  Still, it's kind of neat to see Tito out behind the plate catching warm-up pitches in between innings.  

Back of the card.  

Terry Lee Landrum.  I love how the old Donruss cards used to have the players full name on the back of the card.  You can also see his blah stat line on the back, and mention of the home run for the Orioles against the White Sox during the ALCS in 1983.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

There Is Still Mail

I have not worked this week, and probably have several more weeks at home ahead of me between cancelled school days and "track out" time.  I work on a year round schedule, so the "track out" time is three to five weeks in between the quarters.  I do not mind doing work at home, but it feels odd not being able to go far away from my house.  My son was sick last month with an autoimmune virus he developed after having strep, so we are really trying to stay home. 

I have been across the street for a carton of milk.  My kids have been to the end of the street on their bikes.  So far, we are doing well.  A little stir crazy, but not too bad. 

Luckily there was mail today. 

I am seriously not going to collect every Blake Snell autograph under the sun this year.  I am going to collect more of his parallels and inserts.  I also plan on trying to add a few more Jack Flaherty cards, as my current Cardinal of choice.  I have also decided to narrow my former Durham Bull focus on Brandon Lowe. 

He plays second base, and sometimes the outfield if you are not familiar with the Rays.  I think they have also played him at first base too, but he's not the same thing as a player like Ben Zobrist. 

In the grand scheme of things, his cards were probably a little high when he was first called up in 2018, but that did not really stop my from adding a few of his cards.  My favorite card of the Rays second baseman in my collection before my mail this afternoon was probably his Stadium Club autograph from last year. 

My newest Brandon Lowe might be better.  Ask me next week.  I don't want to rush to judgement. 

I did not take the card out of the top loader to scan the card.  All the little scratches and marks are on the plastic, not on the card.  Outstanding card.  Really like the look of this card a lot.  

Back of the card.  

Great looking card. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 35 - 1982 Fleer Silvio Martinez

I had a really good collection of 1982 Cardinals cards as a kid.  The first team set I ever owned was a 1982 Topps Cardinals set that my father bought me from a flea market in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  I had other 1982 Cardinals beyond that Topps set.  I also had a handful of cards from the Fleer and Donruss sets. 

The 1982 Fleer Cardinals team set had roughly half the card photos taken in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, with the other half being taken in Dodger Stadium.  Most of the cards are halfway decent.  A pretty good mixture of portrait and action shots.  Then there is Silvio Martinez who card is not halfway decent. 

Silvio's card photo was taken in Dodger Stadium, but it looks more like a bad Olan Mills backdrop of Dodger Stadium.  It's rather blurry in the background, but then so is the picture of Silvio in the foreground. 

This is easily one of the most out of focus portrait style cards around.

Was his hat photoshopped onto his head?  There is something off with this hat and hair on the left side of the card.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few portrait style cards of Silvio Martinez from his four years with the Cardinals.  They are pretty good looking cards.

This is a nice looking card.  I like the shadows on the card, adds a little something to the card.  

Not bad either on the 1980s Topps card.  

It feels like Fleer did not even make an attempt to give us a good Silvio Martinez card in their 1982 set.  It feels similar to pictures I sometimes get when I try to take pictures of my own kids when they are running around on holidays.  This is an adult who is agreeing to sit in front of your camera.  Mind boggling that the quality could be this low.    

Back of the card.  

Silvio was a decent pitcher.  He had a really good year in 1979 with the 15 wins, and an ERA of 3.26.  Most importantly, the Cardinals were able to trade him to the Indians as part of a three team trade which landed them left fielder Lonnie Smith from the Phillies.  

Who ended up being a pretty important player on the 1982 World Series winner.  

Thursday, March 12, 2020

2020 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 1

I went back to see how many Snell autographs I had at this point in 2019.  The answer was surprisingly only 1.  I picked up my second Snell autograph on the 14th, and ended the month at 3.  

 How did I get to 30 again?  

Seriously, I am not even making an attempt.  I picked this up on the cheap off of Ebay.  The Postseason cards used to be pretty tough pulls, but not anymore.  The are also pretty cheap.  The card stock on this card is really thin, and the autograph is on a sticker.  

I like the design of the card.  Something about the photo feels off.  The blue on the Rays jersey looks too dark.  The purple border and rainbowed Postseason logo look nice together.  

Back of the card.  

Serial numbered out of 50 copies.  Nice card overall.  My first of very few Blake Snell autographs.  

Monday, March 9, 2020

A Missing Ray

I have a nice collection of Ray Lankford cards.  I do not have printing plates, but I have a healthy number of low print run cards.  Over the last few years, I have tried to add new Lankford cards, but the cards I do not own rarely come up on Ebay or COMC.  Unfortunately, there are also times when I do see Ray Lankford cards come up to auction, but they are way past what I am willing to spend for the card. 

This one still kind of hurts. 

Although, I would have been in hot water with my other half for spending $172.50 on a Ray Lankford baseball card.  Probably good I did not go after this card. 

Last week, I found a Ray Lankford card that I did not have in my collection.  I put it on my watchlist on Ebay half expecting it to be $100, or more, after the first day. 

Nobody bid on it. 

In fact, it had a pretty high starting price, and I ended up being the only person who bid on the card.  I am sure that I probably could have let it relist to try and get it cheaper.  There are just so few though, so I was not going to let it pass me by.  It's a great looking card. 

This is a 1998 Topps Gold Label Class 2 Red Ray Lankford.  The different Class cards in the original Gold Label were based on the background picture and the color of print on the front of the card.  The Class 2 cards had players running in the background and the player's name in silver print. 

The back of the card has the serial number, which is out of 50.  I have the Class 1 red card, which is out of 100.  I was missing this card, along with the Class 3 Red, which has just 25 copies.

It has been a long time since I have found a new Ray Lankford card.  It feels like I am only able to find one or two of these a year.  Wish there were a few more to find.  

2020 Blake Snell Count: 1-7

Last year I posted 30 different Blake Snell autographs on here.  That was a lot of autographs of one player.  I pledged not to buy 30 Blake Snell autographs this year.  I am not saying that the number of Blake Snell autographs is going to be 0 this year, but it will likely not cross more than 5. 

I still really like collecting Blake Snell cards, but I am just keeping things simple this year.  In finding those 30 Blake Snell autographs last year, there were a lot of base cards and inserts that I missed out on adding to my collection.  So, last month while I was making posts about cards that were already in my collection, I was also out looking for some new Blake Snell cards. 

I found seven.  Here they are:

Two 2020 Topps cards.  The first is the 1985 Topps insert.  The second is the black frame parallel, which is serial numbered out of 199. 

The Rays were not around in 1985, but I like the faux color scheme that Topps created for the team. 

The rest of the cards are all 2019 Topps cards from various brands.  

Two Gold Labels.  I still like the looks of these cards, even if Topps has gone really cheap with the card stock they are now using with this brand.  

A 1984 Topps style card from a Silver Pack from last year's Topps.  You get the silver packs from stores when you buy a boxes of Topps products.  Nice looking card. 

Last two cards.  One of these is a Topps TEK white card, the other is a Topps TEK base card that was scanned with a white background.  Which is which?  

No idea. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

and now for some 2020 cards.

There have been 2020 baseball cards out for roughly a month.  I have not touched them on my blog, but if you follow my Twitter I have done a little posting about both the Topps base set and the Topps Heritage set.  Here's what you missed: I went to Target and bought a few packs of each product.  I got some decent cards out of each set, but don't get too worked up.  I am not going to finish either set. 

I am all in on single cards this year. 

Not really feeling the sets.  I think I said that I would do a Heritage set.  Not feeling it.  Maybe I will change my mind.  I do really like the design of the Heritage cards, so there is that. 

My first three single cards of 2020 are all from the base set, and are all somehow connected to the Cardinals.  That's two Cardinals cards, with players pictured as Cardinals.  One non-Cardinal card with a former Cardinal player pictured. 

Here we go. 

Who remembers last year when I posted 30 different Blake Snell autographs?  If I repeated that same activity, it would be with Jack Flaherty.  I am not going to do that though.  That was a lot of effort for one player.  I am not a set collector at the moment, but I also do not think I can narrow my collection down to just a few players.  Thirty different Blake Snell autographs felt like I was just collecting one player.  Flaherty is a great young player.  His cards are starting to get pricy, but they are not bad yet. 


Junior Fernandez has some cheap autographs, and there are seemingly a ton of them.  Hopefully Topps will not turn him into the next Henry Owens, who was seemingly in every Topps product at a rate of one autograph per box a few years back.  Junior has a good arm.  I am going to file this card away and revisit it in a few years.  Let's hope I am happy.   

I like the 1985 style cards.  That's part of the reason I went after the Fernandez.  Same with the McGwire below.  

Seems wrong that he is not in his USA Baseball uniform for a 1985 style card, but still very nice.  I am not going to put together this insert set this year, but I am going to work on the Cardinals and Rays players, along with maybe trying to find an autograph or two of players who were actually around the league in 1985. 

I have seen a Strawberry and a Dawson, but neither really piqued my interest. 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 35 - 1982 Donruss "Phil" Roof

Phil Roof was a catcher for the Twins and A's during the 1960s and 1970s.  Almost his entire career was spent as a backup catcher, and had the sweet nickname of the "Duke of Paducah".  Phil also had a younger brother who played baseball.  There were almost 17 years difference between the two brothers.  Gene was born in 1958, and Phil made his Major League debut in 1960. 

I did not think I had a Phil Roof card, but after some digging I found him on a 1967 Topps card with the Kansas City A's.  Great card.  The catchers glove and Kansas City A's uniform are the main highlights in my book.  Likely the reason the card is in my collection. 

By the time Gene made his debut with the Cardinals in 1981, Phil was 40 and out of baseball.  Donruss managed to turn Gene's rookie card in their 1982 set, into a Phil Roof card. 

Remarkable considering that Donruss was not around while Phil Roof was playing.  There have been plenty of brother combos in the majors, along with fathers and sons, but I am not sure if I can think of any other cards where their names or pictures are switch around. 

Unless Juan LeBron and Carlos Beltran were brothers. 

Seems unlikely.