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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tewks

Do you ever look through a bunch of baseball cards and find something that you not only don't have in your collection, but you're just really surprised that the card even exists?  The 1990s were a dark time to be a Cardinals fan, particularly the first half of the decade when the team was thin on talent thanks to the stinginess of August Busch III, who refused to spend money on veteran players.  The later 1990s weren't great either, but at least they scored a ton of runs and came close to making the World Series in 1996.  

Many of the team's free agents and trade acquisitions were low priced dumpster dives.  Most didn't work out, but one of the few that stood out was signing former Yankees and Cubs pitcher Bob Tewksbury.  He was a great control pitcher and had some outstanding seasons in St. Louis.  The Cardinals were just too busy being mediocre for most to notice.  I don't want to go too far into the weeds on Tewksbury's great control, but if I could sum up his ability to throw strikes in one sentence it would be this: 

During the 1992, 1993, and 1994 seasons Tewksbury made almost 90 starts for the Cardinals covering 600 innings, and limited batters to just 60 walks.  The majority of starting pitchers in the Major have that many in a single season. 

Two sentences.  

As a baseball card collector, there were slim pickings on really interesting Cardinals cards during the early 1990s.  Occasionally there would be one of Lee Smith, Ray Lankford, or Bernard Gilkey, but that was it.  Last week, I stumbled on a really nice insert card of Bob Tewksbury.  I was really surprised by the find.  

How did I miss this card?



I probably was not even looking for it.  

This is from the 1993 Score Select set.  Every card company around this time was coming up with some sort of high-end brand.  While the 1993 me would probably give you some serious side-eye at the combination of the words "Score" and "High-End", these are actually nice cards.  The Aces insert has a foil front.  The card is from 1993, but it looks like something that could have come up in the last few years.  

Back of the card.  



Nice little write up on the back of the card, but the photo is horrible.  Does he not have a chin?  His hat is just sitting on the top of his head?  


Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Heard of Bulls, A College of Cardinals, And Carter Kieboom

I picked up a bunch of 2020 Topps cards a few weeks back on Twitter.  I do not buy or trade a ton of cards there, but I saw a good deal on a Mike Brosseau Stadium Club autograph and ended up with a few other good cards in the process.  

A Heard of Bulls.  

Here is the Brosseau autograph.  


I'm not sure what to think of this year's Stadium Club.  I usually like this product, but I also usually buy a few packs at some point during the year.  I am convinced that there are zero packs of baseball cards at retail stores in all of the Raleigh area.  For the moment, I have a Mike Brosseau autograph.  That's a good start.  

I am a big fan of combined shipping, so I always ask about Rays who were on the Durham Bulls and Cardinals when I buy an inexpensive card.  Here are my other former Bulls players:  


I already have one of the Lowe autographs, but these are really great cards.  I couldn't pass one of these up for a low price.  Lowe is having a great season too.  



I also received a pair of Brendan McKay 1985 Topps cards.  He's out for the season with an arm injury, but I am hoping that he can make it back at some point in 2021.  McKay is a two way player, not sure that will last long, but it is fun for the moment.  

Last former Durham Bulls card....


Meadows is a pretty good young player.  He's having a bad year, but I am still hopeful.  I really like these sepia parallels.  I know they are not serial numbered or tough pulls, but they always are pretty eye appealing to me.  

A College of Cardinals 

All three of these cards are pretty simple, but I like the looks of each of them.  I got two sepia cards and a base of Miles Mikolas.  I don't really collect these three players, but they might some of the few 2020 Cardinals cards in my collection.  





The last card in the group was Carter Kieboom.  Always love a throw-in card.  





Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I Will Just Make Up My Own Set

There was no Minor League Baseball season this year, which means there was no post on this year's Durham Bulls team set.  It's an annual rite of fall.  Lining the cards up as straight as possible on scanner, hoping that they don't all shift when I close the lid.  I need to start running those posts with a five year delay.  They are actually more fun to look at now then at the time the cards were produced.  

Look at this group from 2014.  


You've got the reigning National League leader in saves, a guy with three gold gloves, and the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.  I think Enny Romero might have been the highest rated prospect in this group in 2014 and he's not even playing anymore.  

Crazy stuff.  

With no Durham Bulls team set coming out in 2020, I decided I would just work on putting together another team set from a different year.  After checking out what was available on Ebay, I decided that was actually not much of a challenge.  So, I am making up my own Durham Bulls set to collect.  

Something I don't already own.  

Something with interesting players.  

Something with a decent quantity of cards.  

Something that will require me to work harder than placing one Ebay or COMC order.  

After a lot of thought, I am putting together a 1975 Topps Mini Set of the Durham Bulls.  There were a ton of Durham Bulls players who were in the Majors at the time.  The cards are fun to collect.  While they are easy to find, it's such an odd combination of players that I cannot just click a few Ebay listings and have all the cards. 

In fact, I am still making the checklist.  I think the answer is between 15 and 20 cards.  I will let you know for sure with the next post.  So, for tonight, I have my first group of cards fresh out of the mailbox.  

Scans are jumbo, cards are minis.  



#476 - Ed Figueroa - 1968 Raleigh-Durham Mets 


It makes me cringe when I see the "Raleigh-Durham" one the back of a baseball card sometimes.  What person thought it was a good idea to change the name of the Durham Bulls?  Obviously someone in the Mets front office, but the Phillies kept it later on.  Figueroa was on the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  He's a player I learned about after moving to North Carolina.  Ed had two Top 10 Cy Young finishes and pitched for two World Series winners with the Yankees.  

He actually hurt his arm while pitching here, hence the 7 games, and quit baseball to join the Marines.  After a stint in Vietnam, he ended up in the Minors with the Giants, but was traded to the Angels.  Ed Figueroa made his Major League debut pitching in long relief for Nolan Ryan who had given up 3 runs in the first inning and had walked the bases loaded in the second.

 


#245 - Mickey Lolich - 1959-1961 Durham Bulls 


Lolich is best know for winning Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.  He also retired as the all-time left-handed strikeout leader before being passed by Steve Carlton.  Randy Johnson and C.C. Sabathia have also passed him, making him fourth.  Lolich ranks 20th overall, roughly 150 strikeouts away from 3,000.  I don't think Mickey is a Hall of Famer, but he's better than Jack Morris.  Maybe he is? 



#351 - Bob Boone - 1969 Raleigh-Durham Phillies 


Another Raleigh-Durham card.  Bob Boone played 19 years for the Phillies, Angels, and Royals.  He also managed the Royals and Reds for awhile in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Boone was on the 1980 Phillies World Series winner.  He didn't win the MVP in that series, but he did hit .412.  While Boone did not win the World Series MVP, he did win 7 Gold Gloves.  

Is the jacket he is wearing under his uniform from an Army surplus store?  


#630 - Greg Luzinski - 1969 Raleigh-Durham Phillies 


I am a little disappointed that Luzinski's Minor League stats were not included on the back of his card considering that he and Boone were in Durham the same season.  Luzinski was shuffled between the Minors and Majors several times during his first few seasons, so maybe with the multiple teams over multiple seasons it would not have fit on the card.  He hit 31 home runs that season with the Raleigh-Durham Phillies, which would look nice on a baseball card.  

Luzinski was an old guy on the White Sox by the time I started watching baseball.  "The Bull" is not a Hall of Famer, more a great of his era.  He and Schmidt were a pretty scary tandem in the middle of the Phillies lineup.  

Last night.  


#44 Pat Dobson - 1960 Durham Bulls 


This card was made near the end of Dobson's career.  He played with the Durham Bulls while he was coming through the Minors with the Tigers.  The 1960 Bulls were 20 games under .500 and had a starting rotation with both Pat Dobson and Mickey Lolich, who were both on the 1968 Tigers World Series team.  Dobson also pitched for the 1971 Orioles, who made it to the World Series, but lost to the Pirates.  

More 1975 Topps Minis and a checklist next week.  

Monday, September 21, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 53 - 1987 K-Mart Lou Brock 25th Anniversary

I already used one of these K-Mart cards in a 1980s Card Post, but this is my favorite 1980s Lou Brock baseball card.  Such a great looking card, felt like it would be a good to post after Lou passed away recently.  There are not too many 1980s cards of the Cardinals Hall of Famer, with most being oddballs from TCMA or similar companies.   

Here is the front of the card.  




Great portrait photo on the front of the card.

The palm trees in background, really high probability that this was a Spring Training card from the 1960s. The Cardinals were still wearing button up jerseys.  There are not perfectly white either.  I am going to guess this is from the late 1960s.

Going beyond the 1980 Lou Brock cards, looking through a few stacks of my modern cards of the Cardinals great, this is one of the better overall portrait photos of him out there.  

Card back.  




The little bulleted lists at the top of this card save it from complete disaster.  Feels weird to make a card of a player like Lou Brock and not include stolen bases as one of the stats displayed on the card.  Whatever person designed this card really did a good job with that list to save the card from the stats listed below.  

Saturday, September 19, 2020

From The Company That Brought You The Oreo Cookie, Comes Canadian Baseball Cards

Nabisco makes some really good stuff.  

There is the Oreo Cookie, Ritz Crackers, Chips Ahoy!, and Fig Newtons just to name a few.  

Nabisco also made baseball cards.  I know a lot of collectors don't like the off-brand food cards from the 1990s for the same reasons that they do not like the current run of Panini cards.  The logos are airbrushed out on the players uniforms.  

I generally agree, but it's Nabisco.  I put them ahead of Panini because of their delicious snack foods, but they also they also make a much better baseball card.  Nabisco has come up with some quality cards in the past.  Logos or not, the 1993 All-Star Legends autograph set has a really strong checklist.  Honestly, I don't care that Don Drysdale doesn't have a Dodgers logo.  I don't care that they made the Dodger blue a little darker.  This is a great card.  



Well, in my quest to find some cards of former Durham Bulls players this summer, I ran across several who appeared in a Nabisco set from Canada.   The set is called Nabisco Tradition.  No word on whether Fleer ripped off the name from Nabisco later in the 1990s when they rebranded their base set.  I am a little unclear on all the details behind the product, but there are a total of 36 cards in the set that is divided evenly between Expos  and Blue Jays players.  All of the cards featured players from previous Expos and Blue Jays teams, no current members of the teams were included.  

As far as the Durham Bulls cards that I picked up, there were three cards in all.  Each a name the average baseball fan from the 1970s and 1980s would recognize.  The two appeared for the Bulls in the 1960s, the other in 1970. 

Let's look at the cards.  

The lone Blue Jay in my trio will be first.  



Not always a fan of "cartoon" cards, but these are really well done.  I am impressed that the card designer was able to squeeze the notable accomplishment of Cliff Johnson onto the front of the card in both English and French.  A little busy, but not too bad.  

Back of the card, also in French and English.  


Cliff Johnson was on the Blue Jays at the end of his career, which was in the mid 1980s.  I remember getting his cards as a kid.  Always on the Blue Jays, maybe a Rangers card or two in there too.  He appeared on the Durham Bulls while the team was in their weird late 1960s/early 1970s phase.  By weird, I mean Cliff Johnson actually played for the Raleigh-Durham Triangles.  


If you are unfimiliar with this area, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up the Triangle.  Raleigh-Durham is actually an airport that is halfway between Raleigh and Durham.  Renaming the Durham Bulls the Raleigh-Durham Triangles would be like renaming the Yankees the LaGuardia Big Apples.  

Dumb.  

Anyway, since moving to North Carolina, I have learned a little more about Cliff Johnson's baseball career.  I always assumed he was some bench player who occasionally hit home runs based on the baseball cards of my childhood.  It turns out Cliff Johnson was a catcher, first baseman, and DH who won two World Series with the Yankees in the late 1970s before he became a pinch hitting home run hitter.  

By the way, Matt Stairs passed Cliff Johnson as the all-time pinch-hit home run leader, but it took him almost an extra 200 plate appearances to get there.  

Next. 




Favorite thing on this card is that the artist has Rusty Staub choking up on the bat.  Small detail, but something I learned about him when he passed away a few years back.  Not really surprising that he is in this set focused on older Expos players.  He had some great seasons during the 1960s and 1970s, several in Montreal, also really popular with Expos fans.  

Back of the card.  


I like that there is an explanation of the Expos logo. 

Staub appeared for the Durham Bulls in 1962 after the Houston Astros drafted him out of high school.  He was the Carolina League MVP that season.  The Bulls had Joe Morgan pass through town the following season, and the team retired his jersey.  Wish the team would do something similar for Staub.  At least give him a bobblehead.  

Last card.  

This is the part of the post where I advertise something.  

Do you like podcasts?  

I like baseball podcasts, started listening to them about two years ago.  One of my favorites is Baseball Beyond Batting Average.  Basically, it's two knowledgable baseball fans talking about all things baseball with a heavy lean on numbers.  If you don't like statistics, you're a big fan of the game-winning RBI, it's probably not going to be your cup of tea.  

Even if you don't decide to listen to the podcast, the two guys who make the Podcast have great baseball card related accounts on Twitter.  One is Baseball Card Backs and the other is IDrawBaseballCards.  

The last episode of Baseball Beyond Batting Average was all about underrated players from the 1970s.  They did a great job of picking out two players at each position who need a little more appreciation for their career numbers.  They won me over at Gene Tenace, but Ken Singleton also came up as one of those players.  I completely agree, more people should pay attention to Ken Singleton.  Not sure you could convince me he's a Hall of Famer, but he's at worst in the Hall of Very Good Players.  Maybe if he were playing today, with the heavier slant on advanced stats, more people would appreciate him.  

Singleton briefly played for the Durham Bulls.  (Checks notes)  

Singleton briefly played for the Raleigh-Durham Mets.  

He also had three great years playing with the Expos in the early 1970s.  Singleton was originally on the Mets, but was traded to Montreal for Rusty Staub early in his career.  Apparently he set the team RBI record in 1973.  You learn something new everyday.  



The artist did a good job with the details on this card.  The old 1970s Expos uniform has a lot of good and accurate detail, along with Singleton have the giant sideburns.  


The back would be better if they had included a fact that had something to do with Ken Singleton.  He was not on the Expos in 1978, so he did not hit one of the 8 home runs against the Braves during that game.  If Nabisco can come up with a Cliff Johnson specific highlight, they can come up with something for Ken Singleton.  

More 1970s Durham Bulls next week.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

4th Post In A Week

I am on a roll.  

When I last left you, I was telling all about all the cheap Durham Bulls cards that I found over the summer.  Lots of old players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but there were also a few more recent players mixed in as well.  Tonight, I thought I'd share a few cards of two players who were on the Bulls roughly 10-15 years ago.  

First, one quick card from 2020.  Also a former Durham Bulls player, which is why I am putting this card in the post.  




Another Kirby Yates card.  I believe he was in another one of the four posts that I made in the past week.  Some of these Topps brands are really running together these days in terms of appearance and design.  Card from an expensive box with a sticker autograph.  



Someone was probably really irked that they spent $300 and they walked away with a Kirby Yates card that I bought for $7.99 on Ebay.   

Onto some older players from the Durham Bulls.  

First up is Elijah Dukes.  Don't go look him up.  There is nothing there that you want to see.  I was excited to find these cards this summer.  Here is my quick run down on Elijah.  

The first year I lived in Durham for baseball season was 2006.  I actually moved to North Carolina in 2005, but missed out on baseball season.  The 2006 Bulls team was loaded was talent.  You might know Delmon Young, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, and James Shields.  The International League MVP Kevin Witt was also on the team.  Elijah Dukes was just as good as anyone else in that group.  Baseball America considered him a Top 100 Prospect.  

He was fast and could hit for power.  A star football player in high school who was learning to play baseball, and did some pretty incredible stuff at times.  



Elijah had some off the field issues and was eventually traded to the Nationals.  In Washington, he ran himself out of the league with a bunch of other off the field incidents.  Sadly, Elijah is still fighting the war so to speak.  

I still remember him as a tremendous talent.  I loved collecting his cards the first year or two he was in the league, and found two this summer that I did not own.  




This is a Finest Rookie Redemption card.  Always a nice group of prospects included in these cards, sometimes they do not pan out though.   The 2007 was hit or miss.  Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, and Tim Lincecum are in there.  So are Elijah Dukes and Akinori Iwamura.  



Last Elijah Dukes card is from the 10th Anniversary set of Allen & Ginter that came out in 2015.  There were buybacks of old cards that were stamped with the words "10th Anniversary Issue".  Nice looking cards.  I found a copy of Elijah's 2007 rookie.  

Final Durham Bulls player for this post.  



Desmond Jennings was a Top 20 prospect.  He was a great Triple A player, solid Major League player.  In the Minors he walked almost as much as he struck out, and never more than 80 Ks in a Minor League season.  While he was playing on the Rays, he struck out more than 100 times every full season in the Majors, and only walked more than 50 times once.  

Sometimes players don't work out they way you think.  Injuries finished off his career.  

I enjoyed his time in Durham, collecting his cards, and was missing this card from the 2011 Triple A All-Star Game.  It took place in Salt Lake City.  Probably why I did not get the set.  




I love the back of this card.  You don't get many Minor League cards with colored backs.  

Last card, same picture as the previous one.  



This is from the International League Top Prospects set.  Same card manufacturer as the card above.  Guess they saved some money on pictures.  That red striped shirt in the background makes it really obvious.  




Nice little write up on the back of the card about Desmond Jennings.  

Maybe the Durham Bulls players from the 1960s and 1970s in my next post.  

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Just 10,000 COPIES!!!!

You haven't had to waste time going to a retail store over the summer to know that the card aisle is completely picked over at the moment.  Maybe you have been and seen the empty shelves and stacks of unsold MLB Sticker Albums with your own eyes.  Maybe you've seen photos of the empty card aisle on Twitter or in card groups on Facebook.  Maybe you've seen people selling their $20 Topps Series 2 blasters online for $50.  

It's pretty crazy out there.  

Meanwhile, I have been sitting here collecting other things besides 2020 Topps cards over the summer.  I just haven't made good time or progress with posting the cards that I have added, which stinks because I am doing a really good job with one of my beginning of the year goals.  

My three collecting goals were:

1. No New Sets From Packs  
2. More Cardinals and Durham Bulls single cards 
3. More Posts About Sorting Cards 

I will save my full performance review for the end of the year, but I am doing incredible on the Durham Bulls part of goal 2.  I know, if you read my blog you're probably thinking that you've seen plenty of Rays players on this page who used to play in Durham a year or two ago.  That's every other post.  

Right?  

I have not only done well with find the Michael Brosseau and Kirby Yates cards this summer, I have also loaded up on all sorts of fifty-cent and quarter cards of older Durham Bulls players.  The kind of players you don't have to go look up on Baseball Reference or ESPN because they're not weird three outcome super utility players on the Rays.  

I have a few new cards to share today that mostly fit my title, "ONLY 10,000 COPIES".  

Be excited.   

Do you remember the first serial numbered cards in your collection?  I am not exactly sure which was my first, but I do remember the 1994 Leaf Limited cards being amongst the first in my collection.  They were so exclusive that even the boxes the packs were in had a serial numbered.  I bought a pack or two of these, but you weren't guaranteed a serial numbered card in each pack. 

I ended up with a few of them, almost all Cardinals.  Not pulled from a pack.  




Just 10,000 copies!  

The Cardinals were terrible in 1994.  I could wait until someone else pulled one and get the Cardinals cards when they ended up in the $0.50 box at my local card shop.

So, one of my summer Durham Bulls pick-ups was a copy of the 1994 Leaf Limited David Justice card.  He played for the Bulls during the 1986 season.  Good looking card.  




The back of the card.  





Just 10,000 copies.  

Serious, these were awesome cards in 1994.  Way cooler than any Luis Robert card that you could pull out of Topps Series 2.  Although, Luis Robert is a really good player.  David Justice was too.  Luis Robert is just 294 home runs behind him.  

What's better than one card numbered to 10,000?  

If you were thinking, "Two cards numbered to 10,000", you are correct.  I will even stick with David Justice.  




Look at the top of the card.  It says 23 KT.  This card quite possibly cost me my entire paycheck, or the equivalent of two hot dogs on dollar hot dog night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  This card is from the 1992 Bleachers David Justice set, which featured three cards of Justice each numbered to 10,000.  One Justice card showed him in a Braves uniform, another as a member of the Greensville Braves, and this one on the Durham Bulls.  

That jersey is pretty sweet.  That's got to be a throwback jersey of some kind.  

Back of the card.  




Just 10,000 copies.  

Three things stand out on the back of this card.

1. That dog next to the word "BATS".  Why is that there?  

2. "World's Largest Manufacturer of Genuine 23 Kt Gold Border Cards".  Sounds so fancy.  Wonder why this company did not make more of a splash.  I bet these sets sold fast on QVC or Home Shopping Network.  

3. Love the faux signature at the bottom of the card with the inscription "Durham".  The other cards in the set have something similar.  If you are going to make cards that feel exclusive, they should get an inscription that feels more exclusive.  Give me "Bull City" or "City of Medicine" or "Research Triangle Park" or "Vinegar > Tomato".  

We've made it through two David Justice cards and a Gregg Jefferies that I barely acknowledged.  Can we get a third David Justice card?  

Last card of the post.  



Just 10,000 copies.  Make that 6,000 copies.  

This is from the 1999 Flair Showcase set.  Really nice looking set, which has a bunch of serial numbered parallels.  I believe that this was one of the easier ones to find.  Not sure of the exact odds, but I think you got two or three of these in a box.  Also not hard to find, and not very pricy either.  I am sure are there are some other good former Durham Bulls in this set that deserve a spot in the collection.  

That's it for today.  Hope everyone has had a great weekend.  

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Nice Players. Wrong Uniforms?

As a Cardinals fan, I really liked the autograph checklist for Archives.

Not everyone that I was excited to see on checklist showed up in a Cardinals uniform, which is to be expected.  In the case of these three cards, they each have a strong connection to the Cardinals.  Should they have been a Cardinal on their card?  




First, I picked up a Lonnie Smith autograph.  This is my second Lonnie autograph, but neither of them is with the Cardinals.  His best moment as a Cardinal was being the starting left-fielder on the 1982 World Series winner.  Lonnie finished second in the National League MVP voting that season and had some great stats.  

Lonnie also had some crazy good years at the end of his career with the Braves.  In fact, it's not a stretch to say that they were better than his time with the Cardinals and Phillies.  He led the National League in on-base percentage in 1989 and had an OPS of .948.  He did not do that while playing with the Cardinals.  While I would love to see Lonnie Smith on a card in a Cardinals uniform, Topps actually did a good job of making him a card as a Brave.  




I really liked Placido.  Even after the Cardinals traded him to the Phillies, I still followed his career.  While he was on the Cardinals, he was a super utility type during the 2000 and 2001 season.  The Cardinals played him at third base in 2002, but traded him to the Phillies for Scott Rolen in the middle of the season.  Turned out pretty good for the Cardinals.  

Polanco spent most of his career on the Phillies, so I am fine with the team choice here.  I could have also seen him as a member of the Tigers since he helped get them to the 2006 World Series.  Placido was the American League Championship Series MVP that season.  

Last one.  



Preston Wilson was on the 2006 World Series team.  He only played on the Cardinals for a few weeks during that season after the Astros released him.  Wilson also played for the 2007 Cardinals, but was on the disabled list the majority of the season.  I feel like my opinion of Preston Wilson has really changed over the past few years after following him on social media and watching him on MLB Network.  I am just happy he signed some new cards.