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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Set Appreciation Post #9 - 2000 Pacific Paramount Update

There was a 2000 Pacific Paramount Update set?  

Yes.  

Seems pretty random, right? 

Yes.  

Well, there was a lot of really weird stuff going on with this set. Let's check out a base card, which kicks off the weirdness of this set. Right off the bat, the first card seems a little bit off, if you collected Pacific cards around this time.  

Paramount Weird Fact #1- No Garrett Anderson?  What about Darin Erstad? 

 
Pacific sets were always set up with the teams arranged alphabetically by the city/state name of the team, with the players organized alphabetically by last name within the team set.  The Anaheim Angels were always the first team.  How many late 1990s or early 2000s Pacific sets had either Garrett Anderson or Darin Erstad as card #1?  
 
The answer is almost all of them.  

Pacific put out 12 different baseball card products in 2000.  Nine of the sets had either Anderson or Erstad as card #1.  Pacific Prism had Erstad, no Garrett Anderson card, but they included Jeff DeVanon (you may not know him for good reason) who had the first card.  I rolled my eyes too.  Vanguard had Troy Glaus as the first card, but only two Angels cards in the set.  
 
Same with the 1998 and 1999 Pacific cards, only Jim Edmonds was still on the team, and before Erstad alphabetically.  

Beyond Jeff DeVanon and Troy Glaus, there was also this Adam Kennedy card in the 2000 Pacific Paramount Update set, which was the first card in the Paramount Update set. 


Weird Paramount Fact #2 - The set was sold through the J.C. Penny Christmas catalog and limited to a print run of just 12,500.  I certainly did not get this set from the J.C. Penny Christmas catalog.  Instead, I got it from a local card shop in St. Louis whose owner ordered the sets for his store out of the J.C. Penny Christmas catalog, because it was loaded with Cardinals players.  

Here are a few.  

Here are three of them.  There is another Cardinals card later in the post.  

Gene Stechschulte is actually a pretty interesting player.  He did not have a very long career, playing three seasons all with the Cardinals in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a middle reliever.  I believe he had some arm or shoulder injuries.  What he is really famous for was hitting a home run in his first at-bat on the first pitch he saw. 

 
 
The Diamondbacks were winning this game 15-1 when Stechschulte hit the home run.  LaRussa put him into the game to pinch hit for the pitcher Mike James.  Stechschulte never threw a pitch in this game, but the Cardinals did use Bobby Bonilla for the ninth.
 
Weird Paramount Fact #3 - I own two copies of this set.  I bought one back in 2000, but also ended up with one a few years ago when a co-worker gave me some of his old baseball cards.   Pacific was a solid card manufacturer.  I cannot remember them ever have major issues with quality control.  However, for some reason there are odd sticker pieces that are attached to random cards in both my copies of the set.  

Again, weird for Pacific to have quality control issues.  


What is even going on here?  

The green striped piece on the Bret Boone card actually looks the same/similar to the bottom border of the card.  Only it's clearly a sticker if you could be here to touch it yourself.  Why is there a giant white sticker over Mike Lamb's head?  We will never know.  
 
If there were actually any rookie cards worth owning in this set, there were would likely be tons of annoying "Ebay 1/1" listing with random stickers all over the cards.  
 
Weird Paramount Fact #4- There are 100 cards on the checklist, but I swear at least 50 of the players in this set were not traded or signed as free agents during the year.  Lots of cards like......



.....Chipper Jones on the Braves.  
 
There is also a Derek Jeter on the Yankees, Tony Gwynn on the Padres, Cal Ripken on the Orioles, Barry Bonds on the Giants (free agent signing in 1993), Scott Rolen on the Phillies (traded in the future), Mark McGwire on the Cardinals (traded 3 years earlier), and Mike Piazza on the Mets (traded two years earlier).  

It feels like someone at Pacific said. "Lets make an Update set!".  A bunch of people sat down and started making a checklist. 
 
"Who got traded or signed as a free agent in 2000?  Ken Griffey, Jim Edmonds, and Juan Gonzalez."
 
They probably wrote down a few players who were rookies, a few free agent signings, and they were still 70 cards short of a set.  

"Meh, let's throw in an ARod card." 

This has to be the all-time record holder for traded/update set with the most players who were never traded, nor signed as a free agent during the calendar year.  
 
Weird, But It's Just The Uniform 
 
One of the best parts of getting out an old update set is looking through the cards to find players you know, on teams you don't remember they were on.  Like all old update sets, I found two players who were in unusual places in 2000.   
 

Rickey Henderson started to the 2000 season with the Mets, but was released and signed with the Mariners in the middle of the season.  He was 41, played 92 games, and managed to steal 31 bases.  Not bad.  I actually kind of remember him being on the Mariners, but it's not like I stayed up and watched a lot of Mariners games.  He was there, I did not watch very often. 

Nomo on the Tigers looks a little strange too.  I always think of him as a Dodger, but he played a lot of other places in between his two stints in LA.  I remembered the Mets and Brewers, but I went and looked him up on Baseball Reference.  The Dodgers traded him to the Mets in 1998, and he went back to the Dodgers in 2001.  In between he appeared, or was on the roster of the Mets, Cubs, Brewers, Phillies, Tigers, and Red Sox.  

Nomo threw a no-hitter on the Red Sox?  



Best Cardinals Player Who Deserved To Be In A Traded Set  
 
Jim Edmonds.  
 

Edmonds was traded to the Cardinals during Spring Training of 2000.  He was scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season.  The late 1990s/early 2000s Cardinals were good at trading for pending free agents and getting them to sign before they hit the market.  They did this same thing with McGwire and Scott Rolen. 

Best Durham Bulls Player Who Deserved To Be In A Traded Set  

I am going to put two different Bulls players in this section.  I will go with one Minor Leaguer who was promoted to the Majors, along with one Major League who changed teams.  I will do the Major Leaguer first.  
 

 

Klesko appeared for the 1990 Durham Bulls.  After a long run with the Braves, Klesko was traded to the Padres for Reggie Sanders and Wally Joyner.  Love the facial hair.  I believe this was a homecoming of sorts for Klesko, who spent almost all of the second half of his career with the Padres.  Not a Hall of Famer, but a very good hitter. 
 
The former Durham Bulls player who appeared in the set as a Minor League call up was Jeff Sparks.  

 
He did not have a really long Major League career.  He only pitched in 23 games between the 1999 and 2000 seasons.  According to his Wikipedia page, his career highlight was a save against the Yankees at the end of the 1999 season.  His Wikipedia page says that he makes YouTube videos with former Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall. 
 
It's true.  




The Bulls get a mention on the back of the Jeff Sparks card.  

Best Player(s) Who Deserved To Be In A Traded Set 

I decided to balance this section with a traded/free agent player and a young player who got called up during the 2000 season.  Veteran player first.  
 

 Seemed like an easy answer.  
 
The rookie card.  Perhaps the only decent rookie card in the entire set.  
 

 Two time Cy Young Award winner in the American League.  His career was really shortened by injuries, but he was Hall of Fame quality when he wasn't hanging out on the disabled list.  He almost had that no-hitter the one time.  
 

 

How Does It Compare?  
 
The design isn't great.  I am not sure all of the weird and quirky aspects of the set are really all that positive.  While I love many things about Pacific Baseball Cards from this era, this is not one of their better efforts.  Where are the parallels?  Where are the interesting die-cut cards?  Paramount Update will occupy the 9th spot for the moment.  
 
Better set next week.  I will go with something a little older too. 
 
9. 2000 Pacific Paramount Update 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Just Some Old Basketball Players

I have been on this big kick lately with finding older baseball cards of players who appeared on the Durham Bulls several decades ago.  Since I dabble in basketball cards, I decided to do a similar thing with that part of my collection.  A little bit smaller scale, maybe slightly more recent cards, but these weree all enjoyable finds.  There are a few NC State cards, but also a few of the players that I watched while I was living in St. Louis.  

Let's start with the NC State players first.  I have added two good State cards, both are household names in there parts that many are likely to recognize.  First up, is the greatest of the greats in Raleigh. 

 
This is actually my second copy of this card.  I picked this up while I was working on baseball cards.  Found a guy who was unloading some Rays/Durham Bulls in a Facebook group.  My Facebook profile is an NC State logo, so he asked if I would be interested in this David Thompson card.  I cannot say no to a good deal, plus I love getting combined shipping on cards.  
 
Next.  From the promotions table at NC State, to someone's house, and eventually into my collection.  
 

 
I am usually pretty good about checking out the promotional tables when I go to NC State games, but for some reason I missed out on this T.J. Warren card.  Serious, it's T.J. Warren.  He slimmed down a bit in college.  There is not much evidence of this version of T.J. Warren ever existed outside of this basketball card and 90 second clip of him getting a lay-in and a dunk against UNC. 


On to other schools.  The rest of the cards are players from Mizzou or SLU.  I will go in order working from newest to oldest.  

First up is Keyon Dooling.  He had a fairly long career in the NBA as a back-up guard.   Pretty versatile, could play both the point and shooting guard positions. 

 

Keyon has worked in the front office for the Utah Jazz since retiring a few years back, but recently got added to the coaching staff as an assistant last month. While Keyon may not have it listed on his resume or LinkedIn page, I have been employing him as a gif in PowerPoint and Google Slides in my classroom for five or six years now.  

This incredible gem is from a charge call against Kansas.  He didn't quite jump over the KU player while dunking the ball over him, but came really close.  

If you are a teacher, this gif is great for 

"The schedule changed because of an assembly"

"Someone thawed our freezer pops by moving them to the refrigerator" 

or the classic:

"It's picture day and the cafeteria is serving spaghetti. Don't do anything that results in your mom emailing me after school because you are doing picture retake day next month"  

Let's move on.  

 

 

Larry Hughes is from St. Louis.  He's a little younger than me.  I saw him play in a high school Christmas tournament his senior year while I was a freshman in college.  He actually played with Jayson Tatum's father, Justin Tatum, at a small parochial school.  Hughes and Tatum both committed to stay home and play at Saint Louis University.  Hughes played one year and left college for financial reasons connected to his younger brother's health.  Tatum sat out at least one year, might have been more, because he had a diagnosed learning disability that allowed him to take the ACT without a time limit.  The NCAA was even ridiculous in the 1990s.  

Rest of the players are from when I was in high school and middle school.  A little nostalgic for the old Big 8 Conference here.  

 

Another long-time NBA player, Peeler had a good career as a offensive spark plug coming off the bench for the Lakers and Timberwolves.  A few other teams mixed in there too.  He was a great college player.  I believe he was an All-American and the Big 8 Player of the Year his senior season.  I liked this card because it shows Peeler in his college uniform.  There are not too many Anthony Peeler cards in a Missouri uniform floating around out there.  

It's a little odd that they have Peeler in his college uniform, logos and all, but they airbrushed out the defender.  You can still make out the T from the Texas A&M logo on the shorts.  I know the Big 12 was not around in the early 1990s, but Mizzou played them Peeler's senior season.  The Tigers won by 30.  I would try to find Peeler's stats for the game, but I am guessing he sat on the bench in his warmups for a large portion of the second half. 

Next up is a Mizzou player that is new to my basketball card collection.  I was surprised that I did not have a card of this guy.  Great college player, not so great in the NBA.  Let me say it again, great college player.  

Two Doug Smith cards.  

Smith was this huge guy, with a huge frame, but he was really quick.  He played before Greg Ostertag and Bryant Reeves were in the Big 8, but there were a lot of other lumbering centers and power forwards that Smith would just blow past on his way to the basket.  He also had a nice mid-range jumper, so when defenses started sagging off of him, he could knock down some shots.  Only player in the school's history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. 

 
Smith and Peeler's time in college had some overlap, but Smith was older.  He was also an All-American player, won the Big 8 Conference Player of the Year award twice.  He got selected as the sixth overall pick in the NBA Draft, but never panned out.  I read this interesting take on a Celtics website about Smith in the NBA.  He ended his career in Boston after they tried to turn him back into the Doug Smith at Mizzou.  

To summarize, Smith was a big man (6'10), but his quickness and athleticism were what made him a great scorer in college.  The Mavericks drafted him, thought they were going to put muscle on his large frame, but that just made him slow and he couldn't score anymore.  How many good college players did the Dallas Mavericks wreck in the early 1990s?  Apparently it was a long list.  The Mavs were thinking Karl Malone when they should have been thinking about Julius Erving. 

This Mavericks card is alright, but I really like this Kellogg's card below. 

College Basketball Greats.  This seems like the perfect Doug Smith card.  Look at that positioning under the basket.  This is the Doug Smith that I remember.  He's got the big guy sealed behind him and some little guard trying to come down on a double team.  At least that what I think is happening.  Is this against Nebraska?  Doug probably scored a ton of points in this game.  Save for Eric Piatkowski, the Huskers were terrible at basketball when I was younger.

Last card.  


Anthony Bonner was in the NBA for awhile with the Knicks and Kings. Really good rebounder and defender in the NBA.  The talent level at Saint Louis University was not very good until the mid 1990s when Charlie Spoonhour got hired.  Bonner was sort of the lone bright spot during the 1980s  I have no idea about this brand "Star Pics".  I feel like I might have bought one of those novelty sports cards that you can buy at Walgreens photo. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Set Appreciation Post #8 - 2010 Topps USA Baseball

 I enjoyed making these Set Appreciation posts this summer, so I am going to try to get back into looking at the old sets hanging out in my closet. USA Baseball sets are always pretty small, so it seemed like it might be a good place to start back. I have been going to USA Baseball teams since 2006, so I got to see the college players in this set in person. Pretty good team, a few of the players worked out, a few flamed out. The usual with watching amateur players.  

Before we get into the set, here was the roster for the College National Team during the summer of 2010.  Players from the 18U and 16U teams were also included in the set, but I mainly buy these cards for the college kids.  


Again, a good mix of players here.   

Basic Design 

There are never any really well designed USA Baseball sets.  Most people just collect these cards for the autographs, right?  Maybe there is a good design out there, but I am just not thinking of it at the moment.  They always just seem bland with very little effort.  This one might be a little worse than some of the others.  

Here is the front of the card.  


What do you want me to say?  

Looks like it could be the design for the 2022 Topps base set.  Some squiggly lines around the border with a red, white, and blue color scheme.  I spent time looking for something that was good about the card.  I like that they identify the level of the team on the front of the card.  

That's it.  

Back of the card.  


None of the players have stats on the back of the cards, just a short write up about their playing career.  Some of the "this player reminds scouts of....", or "this player is just like........", or "this player models their game after......" tend to not age very well.  

ARod.  Albert Amora.  No.  

This was originally a boxed set.  If I remember correctly, you got the complete set along with one autograph per box.  Everyone bought these for the one autograph.  At least, I hope they did.  

I Bought This For An Autograph 

Do people buy USA Baseball cards for the base cards?  

No.  

Do people buy USA Baseball cards for the autographs? 

Yes.  

I keep repeating it.  Keep telling yourself the same thing if you are buying these cards for any other reason.   

I watch the games at USA Baseball.  I try to pick out some players that I think are going to be good, buy their autographs, and store them away for a few years.  I pulled an autograph of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. out of my set.  



Solid Major League player and the 2018 American League Championship Series MVP.  Jackie Bradley Jr. was a great college player.  If he's not in the University of South Carolina's Hall of Fame, he will be before long.  Bradley helped South Carolina win the College World Series and took home the College World Series MVP.  He was awesome in college.  Bradley ended up being a first round selection by the Red Sox, so this was a pretty good pull at the time this set was released.  




Also decided to pick up an autograph of a UCLA pitcher who seemed to be a pretty good college pitcher.  Heard that this guy turned out to be fair pitcher.  Picked this up a few years ago while he was pitching for the Pirates. 

Special Guest Appearance By....The Durham Bulls Athletic Park 

The USA Baseball teams regularly use the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for their home games.  Yes, USA Baseball has their own complex a short distance away in Cary, North Carolina, but there are always a few appearances by the DBAP in every USA Baseball card set.  

In fact, most USA Baseball cards are either taken at either the USA Baseball complex or in Durham.  Here is the USA Baseball complex field.  Note the tall green screen in center field and pine trees behind the outfield wall.  


This card has a photograph taken at the USA Baseball complex.  


Green screen with trees in the background.  

Here is the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  



Dark blue walls and dugouts.  The seats are also dark blue.   Green manual scoreboard.  Ads on the outfield walls.  

A few cards from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.....


and a few more cards from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  


It's nice that Topps put all these cards with pictures from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in this set.  

This might be the best part of this set.  

Best Cardinals Card(s) 

Not sure there are many great options here, so I went with the only two Major League Cardinals players who appeared in this set.  Neither player spent much time with the team.  

First up is Clemson shortstop Brad Miller.  He appeared for the Cardinals last season, and was about the only person outside of Paul Goldschmidt who hit at all last year.  




Miller was on the USA Baseball College team multiple years, including one where he was backed-up by Hawaii infielder Kolten Wong.  Miller has been a solid Major Leaguer, but very good college baseball player.  

Carson Kelly also appears in the set as a member of the 16 U team.  



Kelly was one of the catchers was supposed to take over the catching job from Yadier Molina before he was traded away for Paul Goldschmidt.  I believe the Cardinals originally drafted him as a third baseman and moved him to catcher after a few years in the Minors.  The picture on this card is a little odd.  He is listed as a pitcher and an outfielder, but it looks like he is playing 2nd Base.  

Not the best pair, but it's not like Topps has any control of where amateur players end up during their professional careers.  

Best Durham Bulls Player 

Mikie Mahtook was a great player at LSU.  He was an All-American and helped the Tigers win the 2009 College World Series Championship.  He ended up getting drafted by the Rays and was on the Durham Bulls a few years after that.  

Here's the card.  



This might be my favorite card. Mahtook is a player who ended up on the Durham Bulls for a few seasons, and the photograph on this card appears to have been taken at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Mahtook made the 2014 International League All-Star team, held in Durham, and is a bit of a fan favorite locally.  Mikie has played a few years in the Majors, but he's never really been a regular player outside part of a year for the Tigers.  

In fact, I think he's most memorable play in the Majors was getting a home run taken away by Alex Gordon, but not before he gave the first base coach a high five. 


 It was a spectacular catch, but we have other things to talk about here.  

The Best Non-Cardinal Card 

There were a few different choices here, but I went with Francisco Lindor.  



Seemed like a pretty easy choice.  

How Does It Compare?  

Welp.  I have done a really good job of poker facing my way through this post.  I am really glad that Topps no longer makes the USA Baseball products.  Between the three major manufacturers that have held the license over the past twenty years, Topps did the worst job.  This set has a really boring design and packaging the cards as a set with a single autograph just feels a bit lazy.  

It's easily the worst set that I have posted this year.  


8. 2010 Topps USA Baseball  
4. 2001 Fleer EX 


Monday, November 16, 2020

Upper Management Type

It's truly amazing how many former Durham Bulls players and managers have gone on to work as a managers in the Major Leagues.  Last season, there were two former managers, Charlie Montoyo and Brian Snitker, along with two former players, Kevin Cash and Rocco Baldelli, who were all managers with Major League teams.  All four led their teams to the playoffs.  

This is not a new trend with the Durham Bulls.  

Just in the past week, I have posted cards of Doug Rader and Mayo Smith.  Both were Durham Bulls players and both had stints working as managers in the Majors.  For today, I am going to focus on a different player/manager, spending a little time on Gene Mauch.  I have picked up a few cards of this well-known manager over the past few weeks.  

Mauch played with the Durham Bulls in 1943 as a 17 year old infielder.  He would play in the Majors for 9 seasons with the Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Cardinals, and Red Sox.  He was a light hitting utility player, who only once played in more than 70 games in a season.  

Mauch has a few cards as a player.  



I haven't been too successful with collecting his player cards.  This 1957 Topps might be about it.  Really, we are here today for his manager cards.  So, these are the latest additions to my collection: 


Mauch's first managerial job in the Majors was with the Phillies starting in 1960.  He took over a perennial loser and turned them into a winning team.  It just took a few years.  In 1961, the Phillies lost 107 games, which included a 23 games losing streak.  Mauch has this sort of dubious reputation as a manager in some circles.  The long losing streak in 1961 is apart of that reputation.  

The back of the card has his player stats, with his managerial stats squeezed onto the bottom.  


I thought it was interesting that his Minor League managing record was included here.  

Next up is Mauch's burlap sack card from the 1968 Topps set.  


This was Mauch's final season with the Phillies.  In fact, he did not make it the whole season.  The team fired him after a 28-27 start to the season.  In learning more about Mauch in recent years, it somewhat surprises me that he last another three and a half years after the 1964 collapse.  I am not going to rehash the last two weeks of the season, but he made a few mistakes.  At the same time, his six winning seasons with the Phillies during the 1960s were one more than the team had during the 1950s, 1940s, 1930s, and 1920s combined.  

The first three quarters of the 20th Century were not kind to the Phillies.  Mauch was the team's winningest manager until Charlie Manuel passed him 2011.  

The back of this card actually mentions that he played for the Durham Bulls in 1943.  


Next.  

A pair of Expos cards.  I already have a few Mauch Expos cards from the fake pizza franchise promotional set I worked on last year.  Still a little upset that there is not really a La Pizza Royale restaurant in Canada.  


If I ever flee to Canada to start a pizza place, that's going to be the name of the restaurant.  Still really cool cards.  Yes, I still have them.

These are not fake.  


First up is Mauch's 1970 Topps card.  He was in the 1969 Topps set as the Expos manager, so this is his second as their manager.  It looks like Mauch is signaling for a new pitcher, but given that he was managing an expansion team, it is just as likely that he was hailing a beer vendor.  



The back of the card is slightly off-center.  


 I like the manager's cards where Topps went with the managerial records much more than the player records.  I also like that they included his Minor League experience as a manager, which was a surprising feature on the 1961 Topps towards the top of the post.  Topps also makes mention of his Minor League playing career at the top of this card, but nothing specific about the Durham Bulls. 



Love the design on the 1972 Topps cards.  Mauch was 47 when this card was made, but managing the Phillies and expansion Expos aged him horribly.  There is also something not quite right about the front of his jersey in this picture.  It looks like Topps airbrushed it, but I am not sure why they would do such a thing.  

Back of the card has a cool fun fact about catchers and foul pop outs.  


Last card for this post.  



I like these 1978 Topps cards with the player and manager picture on the front of the card.  Currently, there are a ton of catchers who are managing teams.  They have slowly taken over from utility and bench players who were frequently managers during the 1970s and 1980s.  At least, that's how it seemed at times.  



And we are back to this odd mix of player stats on the back of a manager card.  We get it, Gene Mauch was not much of a player.  There are a lot of people who don't think he was much a manager either, but I he stuck around a long time, even if he did not manage to the win a World Series.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Mayor of Kings Mountain Has Relocated

While Will Wilson was playing on the NC State baseball team, one of the school's fan websites dubbed him "The Mayor of King's Mountain", which his small hometown located in the western part of the state.  



The nickname is still popular with the local college baseball crowd, but has not really caught on with people outside of the area.  Regardless, I am enjoying the fact that Wilson appeared in several different 2020 products.  I recently picked up two of those cards, including one with his new team.  

Old team first.  


This is Wilson's card out of this year's Topps Heritage Minors.  The Orem Owlz (Z is for stupid) are an Angels Minor League team.  The Halos picked him out of NC State in the first round of the 2019 Draft.  For whatever reason, the Angels traded him last off-season to the Giants for Zack Cozart.  

I am sure that this photo would have probably been different if there had been Minor League Baseball this season.  The back of the card gives mention of his time in Raleigh.  


I think he's going to be at minimum a solid Major League Baseball player.  

Now, for a card with his new team.  


I used to really hate Bowman Sterling.  It supposed to be some sort of high end Bowman brand product, but for a long time it had sticker autographs.  This is actually a really nice card, and I love that the signature is signed on the card, not on a sticker.

These were the last two Wilson autographed cards that were on my list to find for this year, so I will give his cards a break until next summer.