Saturday, October 31, 2020

2020 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 5

This is my second draft of this post.  The first one descended into a rant about Game 6 of the World Series.  As a long time fan of Blake Snell, it's going to take awhile to get over him getting pulled in the sixth inning with a two-hit shutout.  

I had the same reaction.  

I picked up my fifth Blake Snell autograph of the year last week.  Last year, at the end of October, I was up to 23 different Blake Snell autographs.  Running slightly behind, and I am perfectly fine with it.  

Here is the new card.  

This is from Tier One.  I feel like this is one of those products that Topps makes, and there are five other baseball card products that look really similar.  Isn't this the same thing as Museum Collection?  Does Topps still make Topps Marquee?  They are all the same thing, right?  

Back of the card.  

The standard "Congratulations!" and blurb.  

Sunday, October 25, 2020

We Don't See Each Other Much Anymore

It is really hard to find a direction with blogging when you do not do it on a regular basis.  I used to have regular posts with themes and everything.  There were Monday posts about 1980s Cardinals players.  I still get to those sometimes.  Those ones with the early 1990s Skybox basketball cards that were made by a tobacco company in Durham.  More recently, I had posts rating baseball card sets, and a bunch of Durham Bulls projects.  

I do not write enough to make those posts anymore.  

My desk is covered, to the annoyance of my wife, with a large stack of baseball cards that I do not have the time or energy to write about at the moment.  I know that I have taken a break from my blog before, but I am not going to do that at the moment.  I still enjoy coming here, but I am going to give up on having the sort of order or established schedule that I have had in the past.  

The pandemic has stressed people in many different ways.  For me, I have gone from being a teacher who relied heavily on low social interaction and building rapport with my students.  There was some screen time, but it was limited.  Now, I am sitting in front of a computer from 9:45 until 4:00 everyday.  That does not include prep time or grading.  After sitting in front of a screen for 8 hours hours at work, I find it hard to get back in front of computer when I get home.  

I know I have touched on this topic several times over the past few months.  Some of you are probably tired of reading about it.  From this point forward, until I feel better about my quantity of screen time, I am just posting cards that catch my eye.  They are going to be random.  

Today, I am posting three new cards and two cards in my collection that I am thinking about selling for a small fortune.  There is also a plug for a podcast.  

First up is a Bob Gibson card that was recently released as part of Topps Living Set, or the set that never ever ends.  This is a great card.  

Might be one of my favorite cards that I have added to my collection this year.  I have a bunch of new Gibson cards this year with him being one of the twenty players in the Project 2020 set.  This is better than every single one of those cards.  I still love them, just not as much as this card.  

Anyone watching the World Series?  

This card has a connection.  Not really a good one for me as a Cardinals fan.  I am not sure how I feel about it's recent arrival after watching the first two rounds of the playoffs and the first four games of the World Series.  This is one of those coin cards from Topps Heritage Minors.  

Love that the nickel is upside down.  

Liberatore is a Top 50 prospect with every publication that puts out a set of rankings.  The Cardinals picked him up from the Rays last year in exchange for two outfielders.  One was Jose Martinez.  Yes, he can hit, but he does not really have a defensive position.  Strictly a DH.  

Here is the back of the card.  

Always like that you can see the back of the coin on these cards.  So, I was telling a story about the Cardinals trading for Matthew Libertore.  I think he's going to be a solid pitcher at a minimum.  Maybe possibly a front line starter.  Pitching is never really the problem for the Cardinals though.  They can't hit.  So, the other player they gave up for Liberatore was Randy Arozarena.  

The Cardinals likely would have found a way to screw up his swing, or they would give him the same role as Lane Thomas and let him pinch hit once a week.  I have never posted any Randy Arozarena cards on here, but there are several floating around in my collection.  He was a really inexpensive Cardinals autograph about two months ago.  

Not anymore.  Here are two that I scanned the other week.  

Love the top Stadium Club card with him sliding into second base in Wrigley Field.  That's a quality baseball card.  These are selling for a small fortune on Ebay at the moment.  Thinking of maybe putting one of these up.  

Last card.  

I have written about Gene Tenace several times on my blog.  

My one sentence summation: 

As a child Gene Tenace was the backup catcher on the Cardinals, so I naturally thought he was a complete bum until I got older and learned more about him.  

This is from the Upper Deck Timeless Teams set that was released in 2005.  Solid product with a lot of good on-card autographs.  This is my second Tenace autograph out of the set.  The other one is a different card from the 1973 A's team.  

Back of the card.  

I was looking at some Tenace cards last month after listening to the Beyond Batting Average Podcast, which had an episode about underrated baseball players from the 1970s.  Some good names on there, even if they left Rusty Staub off the list.  Tenace is one of those players who has really been helped out by some of the advanced statistics.  I am not going to rehash the argument, but there is one to be made for someone who has a .241 career batting average. Both hosts, Mark and Andy, who have a really cool baseball card related accounts if you are on the Twitter.    

Saturday, October 17, 2020

2020 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 4

One year ago, I was at 21 Blake Snell autographs for the year in the middle of October.  I ended the month at 22, and ended the year at 30.  I am not going to come close to touching those numbers this year, and I am fine with having a smaller quantity this year.  

Here is my latest Snell autographed card.  

It feels like Snell has been in Allen & Ginter quite a few times over the years.  This card is the first Ginter card that I have added to my collection this year, might be the last one I buy too.  Not much interest outside of this card. The frame seems a little more ornate than in previous years.  Really busy look.  Maybe a little much with the slanted picture. 

I do like that Snell has maybe cleaned up his autograph a bit.  I know it doesn't look that much different, but it has been cleaned up a bit.  

He also separated out his first and last names.  The E on the end of Blake is a little clearer.  I guess the Snell is still the same.  Small steps, right?  

Back of the card.  

I always like the wording on the back of the Ginter autographs.  Not the standard autograph/signature disclaimer.  Sounds a little bit more old-fashioned. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A 1980s Card Part 55 - 1980 Cardinals Future Stars

This 1980 Topps Cardinals Future Stars card has three pretty good baseball players.  There is a recently elected Cardinals Hall of Famer and a long time Major League reliever.  The majority of readers can look at this card, and probably pick out those two players with little trouble.  However, the third player on the card was a success in his own right, even if he did not have a long career in the Majors.  

This post is half baseball card, half where are they now.  

Here is the card.  

Tom (Tommy) Herr is the obvious star of this card as a Cardinals fan.  He played on a World Series winning team with the Cardinals in 1982, and a National League Champion with the Cardinals in 1985.  Herr never won any important awards, although he did make the National League All-Star team in 1985.  He was always a steady player on the WhiteyBall Era Cardinals teams.  This past summer, the Cardinals fans and some sort of panel (I don't know the exact formula breakdown) elected Tommy Herr to be in the team's Hall of Fame.  

While a walk-off grand slam on seat cushion night was a cool moment for the 1980s Cardinals, I am not sure it's a good argument to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  


Next player.  

George Frazier had a much bigger impact on baseball than I remembered.  I don't want to spend too much time here, but he played for 10 years in the Majors as a relief pitcher.  I remember him on the 1980s Yankees and Cubs as sort of a middle innings guy.  However, I didn't realize he won a World Series ring against the Cardinals as a member of the Twins in 1987.  

Frazier pitched two scoreless innings against the Cardinals in that World Series.  He also had a 1.17 career ERA against the Cardinals.  Pretty solid.  Frazier went on to work as a Rockies broadcaster for 20 years.  

Which brings me to the last player on the card.  Dave O'Brien did not have much of a Major League career, but he still has a pretty cool story, and he had a big impact on amateur baseball.  As a player at Florida State, he was one of the star players that led the Seminoles to the 1975 College World Series.  

I always like players who were college greats, but maybe not great pros.

Thank you to Bob Perrone and Andrew Brady at NoleFan.Org for the picture of Danny O'Brien.  It's an incredible website and archive of Florida State sports teams.  You can check out their profile of O'Brien here.  

The Cardinals drafted O'Brien in 1976, by the end of the 1978 season he was pitching in the Majors.  His time in the Majors was short, but he ended up finding a spot with the Richmond Braves for a few seasons in the early 1980s, which prolonged his professional career.  

By 1983, he was out of professional baseball, returning to the college game with a coaching job at SIU-Carbondale.  Now, they are a D1 school in the Missouri Valley Conference, but they were a D2 school while O'Brien was there.  The Salukis made the D2 College World Series While he was there, and the program produced 9 MLB Draft Picks, including long-time Major Leaguer Steve Finley.  

He eventually moved on and worked at Michigan State starting in the early 1990s, before moving on to work at the University of Michigan.  Obviously both schools produced Major League talent while he was on staff.  I am not typing up a huge list.  

Not my card, but I always see these Michigan State cards at antique and flea market stores when I go see my in-laws in North Michigan.  Maybe someone will sell me a single Dan O'Brien card.  

Dan O'Brien is now in his mid 60s.  While he has stepped away from his work at the University of Michigan, he has spent the last year or two working in college baseball as a volunteer coach at Eastern Michigan.  While they may not be a powerhouse NCAA team, EMU has produced a few draft picks and Minor League free agents the last few years.

Sorry, no more Van Halen pictures.  

I am glad that I spent the majority of the post on Dan O'Brien. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

These Are All Devil Rays Cards, But....

I am still working on some Durham Bulls sets.  The last two weeks, I have been working on putting together a group of cards from the 1975 Topps Mini set featuring the players who appeared for the Durham Bulls.  I am going to walk and chew gum at the same time, and work a little bit on another group of Durham Bulls cards from a little bit newer set.  

All the cards in this post come from the 2006 Topps 52 set.  I know, Topps overuses old card designs, but this set has a good group of players from the 2006 Bulls team, which was the first one that I got to watch after moving to Durham.  All of the players in this post are pictured in a Devil Rays uniform, but all of them played the majority of the season with the Bulls.  

I think Delmon Young was in Durham the shortest time in 2006, but that was mainly because he was suspended for a huge chunk of the season.  

Since this is a modern set, there are some different challenges from the 1975 Topps Mini set.  The base cards are easy to find, but several of the cards have a red and black backs, along with one card that has an action shot variation.  Each card also has three Chrome parallels with one numbered to 1952, another numbered to 552, and the final numbered to 52.  

There is also an insert card of Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young, along with an autograph of pitcher Brian Stokes, so I am adding those to my checklist, which I broken into pieces throughout the post.  There are roughly 30 cards here, but I am treating the base cards and parallels like they are smaller sets.  I have not really touched the 2007 Topps 52 product, outside of a few Cardinals autographs, so I am starting from 0.  

Here is my first group of cards, starting with the base cards with red backs.  These are the most common cards in the set.  

There are seven total red backs, so this groups gets me about half way through this checklist. 

Base Set Cards - Red Card Backs

#53 - Shawn Riggans 

#65 - Elijah Dukes 

#70 - Delmon Young 

#80 - Andy Sonnanstine 

#81 - Brian Stokes 

#95 - Elijah Dukes 

#114 - Juan Salas 

The black backs are the most common parallel.  There are a bunch of these that are cheap on COMC, but I am a little reluctant to buy them at the moment.  I love cheap, but I have heard from several people that waiting times on COMC orders are currently several months.  

I will find them somewhere else.  In the meantime, I found Elijah Dukes.  

Only 5 cards in the black back parallels.  

Base Set Cards - Black Card Backs

#53 - Shawn Riggans 

#70 - Delmon Young 

#73 - Andy Sonnanstine 

#81 - Brian Stokes 

#95 - Elijah Dukes 

Last up are the Chrome parallels.  I feel like I actually got off to a good start with these. Of the 30 cards mentioned at the top of the post to finish all of the 2006 Durham Bulls players, half are Chrome parallels.  I picked up a pair of cards serial numbered to 1952 a pair to 552, and one card numbered to 52.  

The 1952 serial numbers first.  

The cards numbered to 552.  

Finally, one last card that is numbered to 52.  

These five cards get me roughly through one-third of the Chrome cards.  I was most worried about finding the Delmon Young serial numbered to 52, but that is one card that I have on the way.  He was high on the prospect list when this set was released, and I was worried they may all have disappeared into people's collections.  

Chrome Parallels 

#47 - Delmon Young - 1952

#47 - Delmon Young - 552 

#47 - Delmon Young - 52

#59 - Shawn Riggans - 1952

#59 - Shawn Riggans - 552 

#59 - Shawn Riggans - 52

#65 - Elijah Dukes - 1952

#65 - Elijah Dukes - 552 

#65 - Elijah Dukes - 52

#80 - Andy Sonnanstine - 1952

#80 - Andy Sonnanstine - 552 

#80 - Andy Sonnanstine - 52

#86 - Brian Stokes - 1952

#86 - Brian Stokes - 552 

#86 - Brian Stokes - 52

I also picked up one of the two insert cards from the set.   The other being an autograph, more on that in a minute.   

Dynamic Duos 

DD5 - Delmon Young/Elijah Dukes 

Base Set Cards - Action Variations

#70 - Delmon Young 

Topps 52 Signatures 

#BS - Brian Stokes 

After one post, I am at 10 out of 30 cards.  I do not think this is going to be very difficult to put together, but I am worried about whether the Brian Stokes autograph exists.  It's why I said there were roughly 30 cards in the set.  The Stokes was an exchange card, but it's not clear that he ever actually signed them.  I cannot find a single copy of the card anywhere on the internet.  However, Stokes was generally a really good signer during the mid 2000s.  He appeared in tons of different baseball card sets.  It's also hard for me to imagine he didn't sign them, since he autographed everything else around this time.  

Friday, October 9, 2020

They're Here.

I shared a Kent Merker card from an old Durham Bulls set earlier in the week.  It was from the 1997 BellSouth Bulls to Braves set, which I have been trying to track down forever with little luck.  For whatever reason, someone listed half the set on Ebay earlier in the week.  I made an offer, it got accepted, and now the cards are here.  Definitely some positive feedback for shipping.  

I am pretty excited.  

There are a few cards here that are duplicates, but there are also cards here that I have never even seen before the Ebay listing, like Chipper Jones.  

Here is a look at the set. 

The checklist has the 9 players included in this half of the set, but also a brief description about the player selection.  One thing that I really like about the Bulls to Braves set was that they included players who great while they were in Durham.  It would be really easy, especially with a long running Minor League team, to just throw together 10 players who were good in the Majors.  Love that we get cards of Dennis Burlingame and Melvin Nieves who made their mark with the Bulls for various reasons.   

Player cards.  

Good career with the Braves and Padres.  Ryan Klesko had cool sideburns and liked surfing.  

Avery was toast as a Major League player when this set was released.  The Braves had let him walk as a free agent where he ended up signed with the Red Sox.  If you talk to people who watched the Bulls in the 1980s and 1990s, he was apparently absolutely incredible in the Minors.  Scary that he was 18, fresh out of high school, and was that dominate right away.  How do you lose 4 games with an ERA of 1.45?  I know the answer, I am just saying. 

Burlingame is sort of a local legend with the Opening Day perfect game.  He was on the same team as Steve Avery, only his ERA was even lower at 0.50 in 11 starts.  He was a top 50 prospect as a teenager, but as the card says, his career was ruined by injuries.  

Turned out to be a pretty good player.  

Hit 300 home runs, and was not happy that the Oakland A's had a soda machine that changed players $1 for can of Coke.  

Maybe skip this one if you're a Padres fan.  

Melvin had a career year in 1992, which included time with the Bulls.  I have run into the occasional Padres fan who will use unkind words about Melvin, but I have met more Braves fans who are really grateful that he played so well in A Ball.  As the card states, Melvin was traded for Fred McGriff.  Melvin made it to the Majors, played a few years with the Padres, Tigers, and Reds.  

Another really good Major League player.  He killed my Cardinals during the 1996 NLCS.  They could not get him out.  He hit .542 with 7 extra base hits (2 home runs, 5 doubles) in 7 games.  

Second time this week I have posted a copy of this card.  Great Minor Leaguer, solid Major Leaguer.  

Good Minor Leaguer.  Decent outfielder for the Pirates during the 1990s.  Although, Harry Carey once compared an Al Martin home run against the Cubs to Babe Ruth hitting home runs.  There is even video.