Sunday, January 31, 2010

2009 Topps Soria Error

That or he now plays for the Dodgers and bats left. Check it out:
I know, it's a bit like the Zapruder film when scanned, but here's a close-up of the name plate:

Is this a Soria card or an Ethier card? Anyone know anything about errors like this in '09 Topps?

Anyone know anything...

about a 2009 Topps Black card of Joakim Soria (#635) that has Andre Ethier's picture on the front? I'll get a scan up later tonight, but just thought I'd run this out there.

Catchers Finding Jesus: Dutch Dotterer

Henry John "Dutch" Dotterer had a five year career catching for the Reds (57-60) and Senators (61). He was a light-hitting back up who, lifetime, racked up 1 SB attempt, for which he was caught stealing.
He we have him on his '59 Topps card, captured in a moment of religious fervor. I know, "he's obviously going after a pop up." Really? The stands are EMPTY, so there's no game. And the photo is taken from directly in front of Dutch, so the photographer would have to be standing between him and the pitcher's mound. So we can conjecture there's NO BALL in the air Dutch is tracking, either. Legitimate conclusion: the heavens have opened up and Dutch is rapt by the choir of descending angels. Sadly, and unlike Ivan Dejesus, who used his encounter with the divine to be traded for Larry Bowa and Ryan Sandberg, get out of Chicago, and get a career as a starter, Dutch had no suck, only appearing in seven games for the Senators in '61.
And Dutch couldn't even catch a break on the back of the '59, as the cartoon basically underscores he's a light-hitting catcher who'd be surprised he'd ever drive one out. For shame Topps, for shame!

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

CC HIghlights: 2005 UD Origins Old Judge Auto

I don't ever recall seeing these one sale (not that I was looking) but this a really awesome card, auto or no. The green background may throw you a bit because at first it looks like a relic from the original set of gunsmoke, but Daddy D sent over the Jeff Niemann (non-auto) from this set and I really dug it.

The card is on fairly hefty stock, so it feels like a card should. The auto is on card, and is really well incorporated into the overall design. The sepia-toned photo is a little on the small side, but it a) fits in with the overall feel of the design and the card and b) the pared-down size is a legitimate gesture towards   "real" tobacco cards.

Like any other player collector, I wouldn't mind acquiring some of the higher end autos of the player I collect, but frankly I find a lot of them to be garish products whose prices reflect contrived scarcity. When I can get a card like this for MUCH cheaper and still have money left over to eat, my choice is pretty much made for me.

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ebay Dilemma

Quick question:

You get a solid deal on 'bay ($2, s/h included) and then the card arrives in a pwe with a few massive creases.

I'm figuring on just writing it off because getting into an email tiff with the seller over $2 will be more time than it's worth and sending it back will cost me at least $1. Do I even leave bad feedback for the guy?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The David Price Collection: The Jerseys

One of the things I wanted to do before leaving NC was get a Durham Bulls jersey. I actually got this one the year before we left, but when leaving was already and inevitability and compa and I were making active preparations for me to find a job and, well, leave. Sniff, sniff.

This is the jersey I got. It's a leftover from one from a charity game where they wear special jerseys that the players then sign and the team auctions off. This one was a couple of years old when I bought it because, well, the non-autoed, non-standard leftovers just don't sell. And I got it for about $25. For another $20 I got it personalized. I didn't get CC because I never caught him as a Bull. Instead, since compa and I had schlepped to Durham to catch his AAA debut (which, coincidentally, was also his first pro-loss), I elected to get David Price.

His number is 14 but when he got to the Bulls Calvin Medlock had that one wrapped up. So, Price went with 41. Oddly enough, later that year comp and I had a "dissertation escape day" when we went to Baltimore to see a Rays/O's day-night double header (best day ever!!!!!), and that's when I got Price's attention before the game and he signed it for me. The pic is bad, but he even put his old Bulls uni number, 41, below the auto. Really nice guy.

Than my in-laws (non-Daddy D category) gave me a Rays jersey for Christmas that year because I had been so stoked about the Bulls auto and, although I followed the Rays, HAD NO JERSEY. They got me Price instead of CC, which was cool because I'm a fan of both. Then Price started the year at Durham and, just as I was about to leave for my current job in ND, I had a mission: get the second jersey signed. 

It was a cold, rainy day in April at the Bulls Fan Fest, and I sat quietly there for about an hour while players exercised. Price was throwing on the side for a while (literally right next to the fans at the DBAP), and the hounds were out in force. He kept telling them to let him do his job, then he'd sign, but that didn't stop them from asking over and over. After being told to wait individual hounds would then retreat, seeking out a player who was willing to sign right then. I mean, I'm a Bulls fans and I'd love to score a million autos or something, but if the choice is between getting an auto of a guy I'm a big fan of on a jersey and peppering the rest of the team, I'll just take the one I'm a big fan of and be done with it.

So, after all the waiting, I was right there when Price walked over. There was an immediate crush (initially of kids, the older adults) but since I'd been waiting right there for forever I was right at the front. Dude hooked me up and moved on.

I'd also taken a 2009 Topps Heritage for him to sign, just in case the weather kept a lot of folks away (it did, but not enough), so I kept that in my pocket. On the way out I ran into a kid I'd been talking to about Price who had also gotten his signature (well before me). He was pretty stoked, looking forward to the season, etc. and since I had a spare I gave him the Price Heritage. He was dumbstruck a stranger would just give away such a valuable card (haha) but that was that. Gotta keep paying the little things forward.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

March to 300: CCs from Field of Cards

Quick edit to the last post: compa called me at work to remind me, "You forgot to say that Tony grazed my thumb. He grazed me thumb!" If I had that kind of attraction just by grazing their thumbs...anyway, I promised the compa I'd set the record straight.

Now on to just a few of the AWESOME cards I got from Field of Cards in a trade.

This one might be my favorite, CC playing for USA baseball back in the day.  It's not the WBC but the national team based out of Durham that plays in the Olympics, etc. The ONLY jersey I have of CC is one from the WBC I got on the mega cheap a few years ago (guess not too many folks dig some WBC jerseys), so it's pretty cool to have a card where CC is wearing a team USA jersey.

Anybody know what this is? An insert? A pog? I have no idea, but it's wild. The seams are raised and the card itself is textured, and the thing is cut round like a baseball. The photo has been used on about 15 different CCs (yeah recycling!), but as a design this is different. It may be a little high concept (for example, I can't imagine there are ANY action shots that would go with this design) but since I only have one of these I'll say it works!

Now, it was really cool of FOC to toss this one in. I'd asked about it when he first pulled it but since it was a) an Ichiro and b) numbered it wasn't up for trade. No harm asking, right? Well, it made its way into the awesome CCs FOC sent over, and I have to say it really kicks ass. Ichiro is over there doing his thing on the left, with CC looking over with this kind of "WTF?" expression on his face. And it is a strange pairing for a card that says they are "Cut from the Same Cloth." They both steal some bases (CC more so than Ichiro), but Ichiro is a skinny guy (5' 9," 160) and a contact hitter with a high lifetime OBP .378, while CC is a larger dude (6' 2," 219) whose OBP is on the rise (.365 last year), but lifetime about .040 below Ichiro's. Hopefully CC can keep the OBP in Ichiro territory and Ichiro can start stealing some CC-quantity bases.

Dude also tossed in a '75 Seaver for my set (!) so I'm motoring forward on that one as well.

Thanks again FOC!

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twins Caravan: Tony Strikes Again

The original plan was to hit the Twins Fest in Minneapolis next week to get out of town, relax, and see if we could get a few more autos.

Well, when we moved from NC we ended up renting out our place because we couldn't sell it. No big deal, but the heating and air unit crapped out in mid-December. A lot of cash, all on credit. Then, maybe two weeks ago, one of our dogs got sick. I'll spare you the details, but by sick I mean "sick as a dog." Getting her taken care of (she's fine now) took the last of the cash on hand.

So no Twins Fest. Which kind of stunk because Daddy D had taken it upon himself to find me this card, Tony Oliva's first where he's by himself:

But that card is signed. Well, since the Twins are after a regional presence they have a Winter Caravan with different circuits from here to Montana. And, believe it or not, Tony was on our leg, as were Nick Blackburn, Matt Guerrier, and TC Bear. (No offense to TC or the Twins, but "TC" is begging to have an "H" put in the middle, at which point hippies start following the Twins around all summer and having drum circles and selling grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot before games)

Compa got her Tony fix and got him to put a great sign on this '65. I even got a picture of her giving it to him. No offer of mini donuts this time, so hopefully things are settling down on that front.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Catchers Finding Jesus: Dave Nilsson

Oh man, what's not to love about this Hallelujah?

Is he turning to the crowd, asking for an "Amen"? Is he about to start speaking in tongues? A vision while chasing a pop foul? Whatever it is, Dave Nilsson is a more than appropriate addition to Catchers Finding Jesus.

Nilsson was a guy who played according to his own values and rules. For starters he is Australian and, when he was playing in Japan, had his name listed as "Dingo." He also retired from the majors at age 28 after his career year, 1999, when he had a career high OPS+ of 140 (versus a lifetime average of 110) and made the AS team. Why? Because he wanted to represent Australia in baseball in the 2000 Olympics. Praise the Lord good people, oh praise him!

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Ball Player's Ball Player: TTM from Rocky Bridges

Shortly after I did a post about Rocky Bridges, I did a little reading up on him. Apparently he's not only got a great sense of humor about some of the pitfalls of managing in the minors, but he's every bit the badass you think he'd be. I found a 1960 Topps to pair with the '61 Daddy D gave me.

Then they went in the mail. Rocky got them back to me almost immediately.

This is pretty cool. I've done a few TTMs at this point, but one of the things I'm starting to enjoy more and more is how different players take a lot of pride and care in signing for fans. Take this card for example. Mr Bridges signed between the lettering and the neckline on the jersey so that nothing got garbled by the sig. Everything is legible.

As for the other card straight up, I had thought about the fact that the 1960s are not ideal cards to get signed. They are great, but the horizontal orientation of the card and the predominance of the close-up portraits means they there's just not a great place for a sig. Check out this Julio Becquer card for comparison. He went with a BIG sig over the name, etc., but his portrait is also stepped back a bit which allows for a bit more space. It's a great sig, but there's a certain tension between the sig and the design.

Mr. Bridges went with a tiny sig on the posed action shot. Really, really interesting, and I think it turned out great!

Thanks Mr. Bridges.

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

CC Collection hits 300: Thanks Field of Cards!

FOC and I worked out a trade starting innocuously enough with this card.

I know: who the Hell is Sean Henn? Well, he's a guy with decent success in the minors that just hasn't translated to the majors. Yet. Several teams have given him a shot (Yankis, Padres, Twins, O's), but he hasn't set the world on fire. 2-9 career record, ERA of 7.56 and ERA+ of 58. But he's a lefty, so he'll be getting another shot with the Blue Jays this spring, continuing his journey through the AL East.

So we did "who," so now "why." Back at the Twins auto thing last summer there were two players NO ONE selling cards around there had cardboards of, one of which was Sean Henn.

(As an aside, while I was running around trying to find a Sean Henn card, I caught a dealer kind of being a prick to a kid about which Joe Crede the kid was going to buy, basically saying "Make up your mind and fork over $2 for my overpriced cardboard." The kid was kinda distraught and walked away, so I tapped him on the shoulder. "Here are 3 different Credes, kid, take your pick." He was pretty stoked, and when I turned around that guy was giving me a classic "$#%&%" look. Whatever, it's a hobby, man. I know adults should have been better to ME when I was a young collector, so hopefully that kid will pass it on.)

As for Henn, I had purchased a Twins hat the night before, just in case I didn't have cards of different dudes. Which now I didn't. So, I got in line to get Nathan's auto, and both Henn and Luis Ayala were signing with him. It was still about 10 minutes before the thing started, and I got to talking with the usher, an older grandmotherly type who had an obvious affection for the players. She asked me what I was going to get signed and I showed her the Nathan.

"Do you have anything for Sean or Luis?" she asked. I showed her the hat. "That's good," she responded, "you'd be surprised how many people just walk by the guys who aren't All Stars. I always feel bad for those boys." (She said boys).

It's not that I feel bad for any dude who's a ML ballplayer, something that I once aspired to be (who among us didn't?), but I'll tell you this: Sean Henn's no AS, but he's made it further than I ever did. He may be having a rough time of it, but he's also living out a dream few people ever realize and #$^& it that's worth something. Still, dude had to sign my hat because NONE of the dealers bothered to bring his cards.

So, when I saw this card posted over at Field of Cards I figured I'd try for a trade. Also were included were a number of CCs (post to come!) that put me over the 300 mark. Thanks again, FOC!

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stitch n' Bip: Sewingmachine Guy Gets Me Between the Eyes

Been a rough couple of weeks here. I've done a trade here and there, but wasn't expecting one of the packages that made its way to the door.

"Cool," I thought.

I cracked it open, and the note said I'd been Bipped. To the tune of 10 (!) of these bad boys.

Honestly it's not the CCs that get me, it's the ##%#%%$ Capt'n Intangibles discursively taking credit for what's on the back:

If I wanted a card with $%^$%#'s mug on it I'd buy one, darn it!!!!! Why's he on here!? This card for that very reason is the stuff of nightmares. And now I have ten of them.

Being philosophical about things, however, the coolest part of the package was that the bipper had his own calling card:

That's some serious Mafia-style bipping right there. Like the ace of spades over some dude's eyelids. If a sewing machine turns up in package you receive, you know what's coming.

Which gave me an idea. And notice, although I said I was Bipped with 10 Goudey CCs I only posted 8. The first one has already hit its mark. The second, he's out there. And I've got a foot tall stack of late 80's duplicates waiting to hit the mail.

Coming Back Online

I been in the weeds, people. Beginning of the semester is full of more drama than your average Law and Order episode, and I've been running around putting out fires left and right. Or, to avoid over mixing metaphors, I've been busily preoccupied with helping New York's finest sort through their dead.

At any rate, I've made some trades, received some great packages, been Bipped, Bipped some others in turn, and in general have been keeping my head about water. Er, above the rising tides of dead.

First post back will be about the awesome Bipping I received, later tonight/tomorrow morning, depending on a) if the ice storm doesn't knock out the power and b) the borboun holds out.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Portrait of Pedro as a Young Butt-Kicker: Another NO Joint

The final card I'll showcase from that massive NO package: the '93 Fleer Ultra Pedro.

Despite being "Carl Crawford Cards," I LOVE pitching. Dwight Gooden was my first idol as a kid, and I've followed fire-ballers ever since. 1993 is well beyond my collecting days for all the reasons the rest of you are familiar with (teenage years, etc.), so I never had this card. It's awesome.

Let's be honest: Pedro doesn't so much look like he's unloading a fast ball as he looks like he's opening up a can of whup a@@ with his teeth. It always bothered me that Pedro was a notorious "head hunter" while Clemens was a "gamer" who played hard nosed ball the right way and wasn't afraid to throw inside. Make of that what you will, but this card captures all the ferocity of the early Pedro. Before the Cy Youngs, before the rings, just pure fire.

And then you've got the back. He's gotta be warming up in the action shot if only because he looks like he's playing in a church league softball game with that expression. And then in the portrait he was this quizzical "who, me?" kinda look to him, a nod to the later flamboyant, little person toting, Yankis are his daddy Pedro.

Thanks again NO. Have a great one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shortstops Finding Jesus: Ivan De Jesus

OK---Ivan's epiphany isn't quite as dramatic as those experienced by most catchers, but check him out.

Ivan goes over to the bat rack and reaches in for a bat when he hears a voice. He looks up. "This is the bat I'm supposed to use today?" And who in Ivan's position wouldn't be asking for divine intervention? 1981 was his WORST year as a professional. He finished the year batting .194 in 403 ABs, an OPS+ of 44. Things were tough. He rebounded nicely the following year after a trade to the Phillies (OPS+ of 77) when his BA spiked by about 40 points. And as we all know, batting average on balls in play is all about luck, so who's to say that between getting traded out of Chicago and getting another 40 points on the old BA, Ivan wasn't the beneficiary of a little divine intervention?

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Longo goes Little League

This card came over from the Night Owl. I bought exactly 2 packs of OPC, sent off the black border cards in trade to someone for the CC OPC base, and haven't looked back. As an aside, I never got my end of the trade (ahem) so I still need the CC base.

Anyway, the *Moments* subset was entirely new to me. The text at the bottom was puzzling (helps out at the plate and in the dugout?), so I was hooked.

You turn the card over...

and there's more text about Longo grabbing someone's cap and glove from the dugout than there is about his offensive output for the day. Weird. That sort of thing is standard beginning in little league, and makes a really odd subject for a card, but I think it's kinda neat. Not that I'd like to see a whole series of cards detailing "guys taking other players' equipment out to the field," but this is the only shot like this I've EVER seen and it really connects the game's highest level with its lowest. I mean, we've all done what Longo was doing. Not many of us ever played a stellar 3B or hit towering HRs, but we've ALL taken stuff to our friends in the field. It's a strange but really nice card.

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mad Dog 3D

I'm sure there are more cards of Maddux batting (like the 1990 UD) or at least brandishing a bat in a manner that would qualify for felony menacing were he out in public, but I'm not aware of them. Not sure the year/manufacturer of this card, but I can double check if anyone's wondering.

I know that piling on TBS's coverage of last year's playoff was a popular topic, but what all that mess was really about was the decline of regional sports broadcasting and the rise of sports networks that all report back to the same corporate headquarters (hello Fox). For years the Braves were America's team and their announcers did a pretty amazing job covering the Braves, even Chip Caray. They travelled with and knew the guys from the team, were dedicated to their job, and generally did an awesome job announcing. It was no surprise to me why TBS and Turner Sports basically axed their old schoolers when they switched over to a "more inclusive" format that focused on non-Braves games. Those dudes were Braves announcers. So was Caray. To put it another way, I have a PhD (surprising, right?) but if I had to spend the next 3 hours laying out the history of the 17th century British novel I'd sound like an idiot. I know just even about the topic to get WAY out of my depth.

So why the digression? One of the things the announcers always went on and on about was how proud Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux were of their hitting. Placing bets on who'd hit more in a given weak, who'd finish the season with a better average, taking extra swings in the cage. The announcers were always talking about the big three and their HITTING. So as much as this is a Maddux card I feel like it's also an announcer card. Without what I got from Sutton, the Carays, etc. I'd have thought there was something weird or out of place, but there's not.

I'd like to think the photographer caught Maddux down at the cage getting ready to take some hacks and said, "Man, I gotta get this." If he followed his Braves he'd have known there was nothing unusual going on, just Maddux getting down to business.

Have a good one and good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cards I'll Acquire Update: Thanks to Cardshop and Barrell

With the New Year I posted this, 7 cards on my "must get" list for 2010. Thanks to Daniel over at It's Like Having My Own Cardshop and Ed over at Roll Out the Barrel I'm down to 5. Words fail to say how much a@@ these cards kick. I've posted about Elliot and these cards more than once, and I'm really stoked to have these in my possession.

First, the EJ auto from Cardshop. We were already working on a trade for some Topps Co-signers Ed had posted for trade, so that conversation segued into including a copy of the Johnson Daniel picked up at his local. Thanks!

Next, the base from the Barrel. Apparently there are not only multiple versions of this card, but there's also a version that has Elliot taking infield practice, a card Ed included among a bunch of other awesome Rays. Personally, I don't think this card can possibly be topped.

Many thanks to both of you! You really got my year off to a great start.

McLovin's Dad: Bill McCool

With a last name like McCool, you know Billy was a smooth customer.

He's the guy who convinced Mr. Red Legs to ditch the 'stache. True story.

Billy, AKA MC Cool or Mr. McCool, had a seven year career for Cincy, the Pads, and St. Louis. He was a career reliever, with his best year coming in 1965 when he saved 21 game with a 4.27 ERA. Lifetime ERA+ of 103 which, by way of comparison, is a scant 2 point below that of Jack Morris. Make of that what you will.

Beyond the great design, I really like the large Topps Rookie AS trophies on these cards. I mean, it incorporates a top hat. Getting one of those as a rookie must have been absolutely boss. Too lazy to look up when Topps replaced that monster of recognition with the cup, but I imagine the first rookie AS class to come in under the new regime was a bit crestfallen.

The photo is really interesting, if only because the "player in the shadow of the corner of the left field foul territory stands"seems to have been something of a cultivated art of Topps photographers in the '60s.  I noticed it while thumbing through Daddy D's commons, and was planning to do a post on it, but I pulled 40+ cards. Of Yanki stadium alone.

As for McCool...the name says it all.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Glavine as an ABC: THIS is a Brave in a Throwback Uni

Yep, this is how we do it. With all the uproar of Nat'l Chicle, I thought I'd throw out a card with a Brave in a throwback uni to remind those folks not just how it's done, but how THEY have done it in the past.

OK---the 1999 Topps Chrome doesn't scan well, but you get the point. Great card, great execution, NO fooling around.

The Anti-Intimidator: Mel Queen

Mel Queen is the son of Mel Queen. Two different guys, two different careers. Same name, though. Not even a "junior" to tell them apart.

He had a solid career bouncing between the majors and minors with the Reds and Angels as both an OF and a pitcher. As a pitcher he had a career ERA+ of 114. Just sayin'. What I love is just the name, "Mel Queen." GSNHOF, I believe this man needs to be on the next ballot. It may not be the flashiest name in the world, but it's gotta be the least intimidating.

I really dig the back of this card.

We get pitching and hitting totals. Bonus! Mel was a "strong-armed but light-hitting out-fielder." Man, those Topps guys from the vintage era could be a little brutal, couldn't they? Interestingly enough, Mel was not only a pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays from '96-'99, but he was also interim manager after Cito Gaston was fired in '97.

Money quote from his wiki page: "I just went to the mound and threw as hard as I could." Not sure if he was being serious, but it might provide some insight into the Jays approach to pitching in the late '90s. Clemens DID win back-to-back Cy Youngs under Queen's watch.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Trade Post: Thanks Wicked

These cards come courtesy of Traded of the Year Wicked Ortega. This Gomes Pristine is actually a sweet bonus card Wicked threw in. I'm not a big fan of cards where the design overtakes the photography but I have to give it up. 2003 Topps Pristine is pretty nice. Gotta keep a look out for the CC.

And then we've got the object of the trade, a Justin Ruggiano auto.

Ruggiano was one of my favorite Bulls. I've posted a lot about him elsewhere, but I'll add this. Having been to a number of minor league games, I don't have much of an idealized picture of the minor leagues or the interaction between the players and the fans. Things today might be a lot more "fan friendly" with in between inning activities designed to keep everyone amused in every down moment, but I remember a lot more interaction when I was a kid on all levels. I remember sitting down next to the dugout talking baseball with the players. Nelson Liriano even signed a ball and tossed it to me in the middle of a game once. Who knows why? He just did it.

Ruggiano might not do stuff like that, but he's that kind of player. A few years ago I was in the RF stands in Durham and the guys in the first row kept trying to make conversation with him while he kept loose throwing while the pitcher warmed up. Not talking trash, just talking baseball. After an inning or so Ruggi warmed up and they spent the rest of the afternoon hamming it up. I wasn't in on it, but every baseball outing should be that awesome: summer afternoon, full beers, a bunch of guys chatting up the RF about a double he'd hit the night before, the RF responding with the typical baseball answers that belie his sh!t-eating grin. He had a down year last year, but he's a major-league player. If not for the Rays then for someone, and soon.

Catchers Finding Jesus: Jerry Narron

Not quite as classic as the Bob Rodgers, but another convert nonetheless. Jerry Narron hears the celestial choirs, he's going down the aisle, we have another believer in the ranks of the saved tonight.

As an aside, I noticed someone "unfollowed" the blog after the Bob Rodgers post, so I figured I'd just get this out there. The CCC series "Catchers Finding Jesus" is definitely a tongue in cheek look at spirituality and catching. It's not a knock on spirituality, religion, or Christianity. It's a look at some great cards. For the record I grew up in one of the more repressive/oppressive Protestant denominations imaginable and yet have managed to cobble together some semblance of a fulfilling spiritual life, which has taken years to accomplish. As often as players pray to do things like catch fly balls (see Sunday, Billy) or credit a high power for their success (see most any post-game interview), I think that catchers finding Jesus happens a lot more than Topps photographers or this blog will ever capture. Just my two cents.

Have a great weekend! (And yep, I was working on this post and it got published out of turn by accident. D'oh! Ken MacKenzie will NEVER get his day in the sun)

Ken knew his career had gotten off to a bad start...

when they told him to go have his baseball card photo taken during drills. Later, they just had him run water back and forth while everyone else worked on their curve balls.

OK---that's not true. Ken had a 6-year career from 1960-5, playing for the Braves, Mets, Giants, and Colt .45s. He was primarily a reliever, starting 1 game in 1962. That was the ONLY game he started. He had a few saves here and there, a lifetime 8-10 record. Classic journeyman stuff.

When Daddy D told me to go through an old common box from the vault this card really jumped out at me. The Rookie having his picture taken, the rest of the hopefuls in the background with their backs turned to the action. I haven't been able to identify the two complete numbers in the photo (61 and 69) but I'm guessing the guy on the far right is Joey Jay, #47, who was baseball's first bonus baby and the first Little League World Series alum to make the Majors. For the record, MacKenzie wore #36.

And man, we've all be Ken MacKenzie at one point or another: had that sinking feeling someone is letting us down easy, telling us to go clean up in the back while the real business is conducted out front. This card captures that profoundly human moment of nervous energy and worry, not knowing what's REALLY going on behind your back while guessing all the same. Awesome card.

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Unexpected Package: Jack Brohamer (The Nail in My '76 set!)

I sent Night Owl a few random Dodgers a while back. It wasn't a trade, just some cards I had laying around that needed a better home.

Not only did he send something back, he sent an entire stack of really great stuff. And in the middle:

Oh yes, people, it is:

In all it's airbrushed, radioactive-looking glory, the 1976 Jack Brohamer traded. The VERY last card I needed to complete this set. That makes TWO sets ('76 and '86) I've completed since I started the blog. Major shout out to the NO, as well as everyone who's helped me along with those. Many, many thanks. to all of you. Contest to celebrate coming soon (as soon as I think of something)

CC Highlights: 2009 Topps Unique Insert

Topps Unique has taken a lot of heat from folks around, and deservedly so. The CC base card is a bit on the ridiculous side. However, this insert subset card is great.

Negro League throwback uniform from the Jacksonville Redcaps. For me, what makes the card great is the shot of the other player (second baseman?) in the background. Topps seems to be going for some kind of "baseball cards from the future" feel for this set, but including a bit more context for the image of CC in the foreground solidifies the nostalgic impulse of the throwback unis. The contrast between CC (full color) and the anonymous player (b & w) is really nice, and the fuzziness of the other guy recalls older photos of ball players we've all seen.

For comparison's sake, here's the base card:

It's funny and has its charm, but the photo is overrun by the design. Moreover, for a guy best known for making a game-saving catch in the 2009 AS game who should have won a Gold Glove this year, this card makes CC look like, to borrow a phrase used to criticize Yogi Berra's play in the OF, "a man putting up a pup tent in a high wind." Not good.

Have a good one and good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stupid Bar Debates: The HOF and Don Larsen

Many years ago a good friend of mine and I were somewhere, doing things we shouldn't have been doing. And we were faced.

At some point he turns to me and says, "Dude, it's an absolute crime Don Larsen's not in the Hall of Fame."

I responded with something like, "Right on! Him and Mark Lemke!" It didn't even occur to me that my friend was serious. Being that we both continue to be obstinate southerners to this day (long story), and that we were both completely faced, the entire conversation quickly devolved into two idiots yelling at each other over a completely moronic topic.

Seeing a few paroxysms of grief over the non-induction of Jack Morris and the potential future induction of Curt Schilling, however, I'd like to pay tribute to my friend by revisiting his argument. And I'm serious.

It begins and ends with this: on the biggest stage and in the biggest situation Don Larsen threw a perfect game. Given that Larsen threw what is arguably the greatest baseball game ever pitched (biggest stage, biggest situation, perfect game), he deserves to be in the HOF. Period.

That, friends, was the argument. Brutal in its simplicity, airtight in its logic, jaw-dropping in its conclusion. None of this means any disrespect to Mr. Larsen, who was a heck of a ballplayer. His overall stats, however, would not make him a prototypical HOFer.

I only bring this up because most of the arguments for the inclusion of Morris and Schilling center on their credentials from particular games, Morris's being game 7 of the 1991 WS and Schilling's being the "Bloody Sock" game 2 of the 2004 WS. While both men have a better body of work, career-wise, than Larsen, their masterpiece games are often used, quite consciously, to gloss over the fact neither reached any of the typical HOF benchmarks in terms of traditional stats.

Non-traditional stats cloud the matter even further for Morris, whose lifetime ERA+ of 105 portrays him as a few shades better than league average. However, ERA+ also places Schilling (127) ahead of Bob Feller (122), which clearly points to the fact that ERA+ isn't a perfect measure.

My argument is not necessarily for/against either Morris or Schilling, but to point to an unsettling lynchpin in most arguments for both men's inclusion. In other words, most of their advocates are advocating for them based not on their overall careers (which were fine), but based on their performances in specific great games. This line of argumentation is fine, but it leads us back to my friend's position: where is all the love for Don Larsen? In the words of my friend, "Dude pitched the greatest game EVER (said at the top of one's lungs). Isn't that enough?"

Have a good one!

Card I've Always Coveted: 1961 HR Leaders

I found this while digging through a common box Daddy D told me to go through. Technically it's a loaner, so it isn't mine, but it's one of those cards most kids dream about holding at some point. Adults too, I guess, if I qualify for the title.

I did one of my first posts on Maris and ND, and I've done a lot more reading about Maris since I found out that the Roger Maris Museum is not only in Fargo, but in a mall. Apparently Roger wanted it to be free and in a place that was easily accessible to anyone who wanted to go. Still, despite that everyman inclination, most of the folks I've told about the museum think the concept is pretty gauche. "It's in a mall." Yep, being in my line of work definitely has its social downsides. I've been to the museum twice, and it's pretty cool. Moreover, it's just how Roger wanted it.

As for the card, the disembodied heads from this set have always bugged me a bit. I first saw these when I was in 3rd grade and a kid brought in a binder with a few of these in it. I mean, it's weird but really weird. The grouping of league leaders also underscores how random stats can be from year to year. On this card we have 2 HOFers, the guy who should still hold the record for HRs in a season and...Jim Gentile. No disrespect to Mr. Gentile, but '61 was his best season, and the only time he topped 40 HRs. In '62 he hit 33. Those were the ONLY two seasons he topped 30. And there he is being mentioned with Maris, Mantle, and Killebrew.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but Topps really had a problem with Maris topping the Babe, didn't they? The year the HR record gets topped (by someone OTHER than Mantle, I'll add) they come out with all these Babe tribute subsets. Huh?

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tim Stoddard Had a Way With the Ladies

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a card of a guy doing NOTHING, not goofing off with other players or signing autos, but talking to someone in the stands.

And check out Tim Stoddard: he's got the perfectly coiffed hair of a nineteenth-century English school boy and the mustache of a sheriff from a spaghetti Western. For all I know that's a guy he's talking to, but these are clearly the signs of an NC State attendee getting his groove on. Somehow, someway, why is it that this dude was always hitting on your girlfriend in high school? And how did a shot of him "in action" make it into the 1982 Topps set?

Tim had a solid career as a reliever from '75-'89, bouncing around a good bit as middle relievers are wont to do. He has a lifetime ERA+ of 100, which makes him one of the kings of league average production. Not that that's something to turn up your nose at. After all, without pointing fingers, there are plenty of dudes out there who have played for longer with bigger contracts and been BELOW average.
He saved 26 games for the O's in 1980, which was probably his best year. Be interesting to know how those translated into his game in the stands.

Finally, according to his wiki page, Stoddard is one of two guys whose teams have been in both an NCAA Final Four game and the World Series. The other is Kenny Lofton.

Have a good one and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

As to why HOF voting should not be in the hands of the BBWAA

I submit for your reading pleasure this masterpiece by Tim Brown over at Yahoo, who has a vote. This is, I'm afraid, what we are left with in a post-FJM world: piles of garbage.

I'll resist the urge to go through this paragraph by paragraph, but will pose to you these questions: what are Brown's criteria for getting his vote for the Hall? Answer: iconic greatness. Now, the definition of "iconic greatness" is...the names of individual HOF players with "great" staple gunned to their names, "Babe great" or "Rickey great."

He gives us a side-story with, urp, a few stats (!) about why he hasn't/won't vote for Jack Morris, but no sustained definition of "iconic great." He ends by saying his vote is "just [his] opinion," but the information gathering behind said opinion seems so feeble and unconcerned that Brown should lose his BBWAA card, his driver's license, and be supervised when putting together sandwiches. A man who bails  on an article like this is every bit as likely to burn down your house while claiming that, although it's just his opinion, gasoline and an open flame are integral parts of iconic PBJs, he's just saying.

This is a man who gets PAID to write about baseball FOR A LIVING, who gets to vote on who is/isn't a baseball immortal. "Iconic great" is the discursive equivalent of "because I told you so now go to bed and let the pros handle this." Right.

Does this bother anybody else?

Catchers Finding Jesus: Bob Rodgers

Catching is tough. Between calling pitches, getting punched in the face by Carlos Zambrano, run over by Elliot Johnson, and being the closest guy to the taunts of the fans, it makes sense that catchers are also the most likely to have a religious experience during a game. I know that Boog Powell finding Jesus in 1975 is one of the all-time highlights of cardboard collecting, but we can't forget the catchers.

Funny Topps lists him as "Bob" instead of "Buck" if only, as others have recently pointed out, Topps had no qualms about listed other guys as Zorro. Certainly, as "Buck Rodgers" he would have kept up the intersection between baseball and ass-kicking fictional TV heroes from that era. As "Bob" he's more likely to drive a Schwann's truck.

Not only did Bob, or Buck, finish 24th in the '62 MVP voting, he also finished 2nd on the '62 AL ROY voting to the immortal Tom Tresh. As his '62 Topps makes clear, this was due primarily to his in-game visions of the Virgin Mary, who not only told him what pitches to call but also what pitches were coming when he was at the plate. If only we were all so lucky. Not only would we have all been better ball players (as opposed to people who blog about cards of ball players), but existential questions would have been moot, thus making life less uncertain albeit also less interesting.

Have a good one everybody and goodnight Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What do you do? The $5 dilemma

Here's the situation: you're in the hobby shop. You have $5 to spend. There are no cards of the frontline guys you collect in sight (for me CC, etc.) You can buy a pack of t206 or something like this:

Or maybe something like this:

Do you go with a pack or one of these? Why?

Obviously these are what I picked up instead of packs, but I'm interested in hearing what everyone else does/would do. And cards like this at $5 a pop are pretty much why I've quit ripping wax. I mean Pedro and Maddux on the same card for $5!??!

Have a good one, looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Trade Bait: Reds Edition

First, the Nolan Reimolds are still available of that's how you roll.

Second, same rules apply. I'm mostly looking for Crawfords, Gomes, Price, or Niemann cards I don't have, but if you have something else on my collecting list you'll part with for one/all of these, leave a comment and then drop me a line.

2004 Leaf Certified Materials, /200

2006 Fleer Greats of the Game

2004 UD SP Legendary Cuts