Monday, October 31, 2011

Regular Programming: Brien Taylor

I've written about Brien Taylor before. He was "the next big thing." A true "can't miss prospect" from NC.

For a time, the biggest card after the 1989 UD Griffey was this 1991 Topps Gold auto:
If I remember correctly it was included in "special" complete sets and at one point booked for well over $100. I got this copy for about $7 shipped. 

Some folks have used contemporary stats to argue he wouldn't have made it anyway, but that's all part of the mystique of this story, of guys like him and Prior and countless others. Baseball America had him as a top-20 prospect from 1992-4, #1 in '92 and #2 in '93. 

Who knows what would have been? There's only what was.

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


General strike Wednesday, November 2 in Oakland, CA.

Poster by Eric Drooker.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2009 Topps Ethier/Soria Walmart black error

Has a Soria back. Weird, huh?

When you were young: Chris Richard

I found this card in a dime box at the local a while back:

For a dime you can't do any better. Chris Richard was a hard hitting OF prospect with the Cardinals who homered in his first MLB at-bat in 2000. Twelve days after his debut he was quickly shipped off to the O's for Mike Timlin, whose rubber arm would keep him in the majors until 2008 and through 2 Red Sox WS. At the moment you would have thought it was a case of two guys crossing paths, one going up, the other down, the kind you frequently see around the trading deadline.

Drafted in the 19th round, Richard is one of those guys who aren't supposed to make the majors. I was thinking about this the other day when the Rays released 14 minor league prospects recently. Several of those guys were drafted THIS year. If drafting guys you'll soon release is a scouting failure, it's also a scouting failure that a guy who stays on the draft board for 18 rounds goes on to make the majors. 

I've written about this before, but I arrived in Baltimore in 2001, right after Chris Richard did. I remember the commercials, the excitement, the expectation surrounding the youngster from San Diego. The O's weren't supposed to contend, but a young core of guys like Richard and Jay Gibbons who were coming into their primes, the O's were on the cusp of contention. Richard responded with 15 HRs and a 127 OPS+ in 2001. I was finishing my MA at Johns Hopkins and contemplating going on for my PhD. The future was now and it was bright. 

It was a little strange, then, when many years later I found myself at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) with Chris Richard starting at 1B. At that point expectations of the future were somewhat murky if not tarnished, and I had learned several difficult lessons about what people in my racket euphemistically call "the life of the mind." Once again, Chris Richard was playing a major role for my local 9, only it wasn't the 9 Richard had envisioned back in 2001. 

I never met the guy or shook his hand, but like EJ he's one of the Bulls who looms large in my pantheon.    In 2009, all the way up where I live now, the compa and I were stoked to see Richard get called up at the end of the Rays' season. Dude had MASHED at Durham for 4-straight years, and here he was in the majors again. Things did not go as planned as he hit .222 with a .300 OBP in 27 AB. He also made an error at 1B which I remember vividly because both compa and I sat in silence for a few minutes afterward, the game moving on without us. 

Richard retired this past March from the Rays organization, the all-time franchise leader in HR. Cue up the Crash Davis references, which are wholly appropriate given he played for the Bulls, but I'll say Richard taught me a lot (again, I never met the guy).

Things change. We might come up short of the ideal. But we all owe it to ourselves and to those to whom we are responsible to grind it out everyday, to do our best, to shine wherever we find ourselves. Not bad for a 10 cent card.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Has someone brought home the bacon!?!

Just for kicks I went to check out the EJ black printing plate and saw this.

Who bought it? GCRL? Moose? Someone else? Maybe a completely different ebayer that'll keep me from completing the rainbow? It sold for almost 3X what the other two went for, so I almost can't imagine it's the last of these. Guess I'll know soon enough.

That said, if this was successful it'll be the first of many CCC headhunting expeditions to come, and with much more difficult to find cards.

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

Friday, October 21, 2011

Headhunting Part I: Who Wants This Card?

OK, so here's the deal. I'm working on EJ rainbows. 2005 Bowman Chrome will take a while, but should be fun.

Over the past few days I've acquired the lion's share of the versions of the 2011 Topps Update Elliot Johnson Cards. I'm still missing the regular issue (go figure!), the gold (emailed someone who posted one), the Diamond sparkle edition, the Target Red Border, and two printing plates, one of which is here.

Here's where this card comes in.
It's probably a Topps furniture leg, but still, it's a Jackie Robinson relic. If you can get the plate away from that guy, I'll flip you the Robinson for that plate and some assorted Rays (your choice, just assorted fun cards). 

Why am I doing this? Well, for starters I'm on a budget, a budget which is tapped until December. I made this dude several offers, but he took none of them and ignored the last one. Keep in mind the BIN on that plate is $20 plus s/h, and I scored my two other plates for about $16 TOTAL. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did and talk him down to a fair price, meaning JR will be a steal. I made solid offers based on market value, but whatever. 

So there is it. The link. The card for trade. The first edition of Headhunters around here.

Any takers?

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thor as a 5'10" White Guy: Lemmer

This is the other card I pulled when going down memory lane the other night:
This is Mark Lemke circa 1990. In case anyone forgot, the Braves at this point are something of an abomination. They haven't been relevant since 1982 when they lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS. Sure, in they finished second in the old NL West in '83 and '84, but starting in '85 they'd go on an EPIC losing jag in which they'd lose 90+ games in 5 of the next 6 seasons. The exception was '86 when they lost 89. They were bad. This cat here was bad. They were ALL bad, in fact. So bad in '87 they traded they lone effective pitcher to the Tigers for some minor leaguer. Things sucked.

Then this happened. And this guy, this guy who even in the season had an OPS of .617 went NUTS to the tune of 1.170
This, I'd like to think, is one if the things that makes baseball great. It's not just the one guy who comes through in a big way and his team wins. There's also the career-OPS .641 2B who blows up over a period of days, a guy who had 63 hits all season who has 10 in a few days, and 4 of those were XBH. He had one of the greatest WS ever. And yet his team still lost. Now that I'm older, I think we're all there at some point. 

Any who, when I was a kid this wasn't quite an auto of Christ himself, but it was pretty darn close. 

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Old School Auto: Francisco Cabrera

My grandmother passed away about 2 years ago. She'd been living with my folks for several years, and they're just now getting around to going through her stuff. Understandable, I guess. On Sunday my dad told me he and my mom had found two autos I got in the late-80s at a Braves game: Vida Blue and Atlee Hammaker. Apparently they were in an envelop my grandmother had kept for years.

Anyway, that got me kind of sentimental. After my granddad passed away in the mid-1990s my grandmother always came over for dinner. In the summer and into the fall, she stayed for the Braves. In honor of gramma, I pulled out this card:
I got this card "the year before," but that doesn't make it any less awesome. If I remember correctly, I obtained the card and the auto at a Braves Caravan back when the Braves had a rabid regional following. Like my Glavine and Smoltz autos, when I got this Francisco Cabrera was nobody. 

But he'd very quickly become a somebody, one of the greatest somebodies in Braves history.
This video is here. I many ways, it's kind of a "shot heard round the world." Cabrera's BB reference page is even sponsored by a Pirates fan who says, "He ruined my childhood and destroyed a franchise. The only thing I can do now is make sure a Braves fan can never sponsor this page again." Dark stuff they talk over at Where have you gone Andy Van Slyke.

Anyway, get your EJ's out, trade bait coming out soon!

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The EJ Collection Goes to 11: The 2005 Bowman Chrome Superfractor


I sold a few things on the 'bay recently and decided it was time to step out of my normal purchasing range. WAY out.

I'd been following the card for a while and the BIN on it was more than I wanted to pay. I was looking to get one of several cards and even though this buyer didn't have an OBO on it, I thought I'd drop him a  line. I offered, he countered, we agreed on a price. 

Give it a few days and here it is:
I'd never seen, much less held a superfractor in person before, and let me say that they are sweet. REALLY sweet. 

I've stated before that I'm a HUGE EJ fan. This was only increased this past 4th of July, but that story will have to wait. Suffice it to say that he's a cool, down-to-earth guy and one of my favorite players of all-time. Hence the superfractor purchase.
A 1/1, but look at that story. How many undrafted free agents make it so far as to have their own card, much less all the way to the show? He's a hell of a guy and a hell of a ballplayer. This is also a hell of a card.

So, keep an eye out in the next few days for some headhunting trade offers I'll be putting out. I'm obviously going after the 2005 Bowman EJ rainbow, as well as this year's 2011 Topps Update EJs. If you have any put them aside, it'll be worth your while!

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

Have a good 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Enough of the CC Hating: Or John Henry is Killing the Red Sox

So here we go.

Red Sox owner John Henry goes on a radio show and says that he was "against signing CC." Now, there's no denying CC had a down year, but why is the Red Sox owner going on the record and throwing players under the bus? Usually Henry and the Sox brass waits until a guy is gone or on his way out, so what on earth is he trying to accomplish here? This is the type of stuff that drove the Yankis into the ground in the 80s and kept them there until the mid-90s.

Now, I know a good bit of CC hate has been unleashed by a lot of Rays fans, but remember this: CC is a consummate pro. When Pat "The Bat" was stinking it up and pouting around for the Rays, CC was the clubhouse enforcer. According to at least one source, CC was so shocked by the lackadaisical clubhouse culture in Beantown he kind of kept to himself for most of the season. That said, he manned-up and gave an "impassioned speech" to his teammates as the Sox season went from bad to worse.

Let's be clear: in a clubhouse where Beckett, Lester, and Lackey supposedly drank and played video games between starts, CC is the guy Henry has publicly decided to name as a disappointment.

If that's the case JH, then by all means please, PLEASE send him back to the Rays.

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Card Show Purchase #6: The One that Sent Me Back to the ATM

When I was a kid anything older than 1984 Topps was positively ancient. An older friend of a friend had a TON of ancient cards (pre-1984) and his 1977 Thurman Munson ruled them all. I guess it's because I was so young, but I never understood the big deal about the tragedy surrounding Munson until I was much older. That said, he's always held a special place in my collecting heart.

So: having made all my other purchases, I just happened to be perusing this other dealer's special "half-off original price, nothing over $5, everything comes in a screw-down case" box. I still can't believe it, but this was at the back of the box:
It's got more than a crease or two and the guy who sold it to me lamented that it was a "$100 card that was hardly worth anything" (whatever that means!), but I politely asked him to put the Munson aside while I ran to the ATM for reinforcements.

"Good arm, great desire." No truer words were ever written about Munson.

So, there you have it. If you are a condition guy my haul from the show is pretty substandard. Seeing as how I'm not a condition guy, this was the type of show I've been dreaming about since I got back into cards. Serendipity, great prices, great cards, pure awesome!

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Card Show Purchase #5: 1956 Ernie Banks

This card is the last one from the guy with the junk vintage box.

He was sharing a table with the guy next to him (the guy who sold me Eddie Moore) and, after I'd already made my original purchase, this dude points out the 1959 Banks to me. 
In fairness, I had NO intention of buying this. I a) already own a 1950s Banks, and b) didn't have near enough money left to purchase it. Anyway, just being polite, I asked how much. He asked his friend, the guy with the vintage junk box. Response: $7.

For $7 I could go over budget on a 1959 Banks. 
I really like the 1959s, cartoon, insightful text, and all. I know he'll always be Mr. Cub, but if he'd played in NY we'd talk about Banks being THE greatest shortstop of all-time. Imagine: a SS who with a high SLG % than Willie Mays!

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Card Show Purchase #4: Stan the Man

The last card from the vintage junk box from the Fargo show last weekend. But can you call this card junk?
OK, so my Stan the Man has the structural consistency of tissue paper. However, it was about 95% off book (as if book means anything these days!). 

When I first came across this card and thought to myself, "A Musial I might be able to afford!" As with the other cards from the vintage junk box, this one was marked a TON more than I would have paid for it ($10) but the guy selling it brought it down into my range. 
I'd never taken a hard look at any Musial cards or even looked much at hit stats. The first thing I thought when I got this home was, "That's a lot of years and a lot of excellence."

So that's number 4, two more to go!

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Card Show Purchase #3: From the Way Back Machine

Second card from the random vintage box is the oldest one I grabbed at the show. It's also the cheapest.
A 1920 W516-1 Hank Gowdy Strip card. Who knows if it's authentic, but who counterfeit a Hank Gowdy? The paper feels right, the colors look right, good enough for me. At any rate it wasn't even $2. AND it's the oldest Braves card I own, which is awesome.

Hank Gowdy had a 17-year career playing catcher and 1B for the NY Giants and Boston Braves. In 1920 he's coming off of a decent year in which he batted .278. That said, he's more of a clutch performer. For example, in the 1914 WS he set the series record for catcher BA, hitting at an amazing .545 clip against the Philadelphia A's.

Also according to Baseball Almanac, he was the first American ballplayer to enlist in WWI. He also later enlisted in WWII, and the ball field at Fort Benning bears his name.

Great stuff about a ballplayer I had never heard of before Saturday. And I got a great card CHEAP!

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Card Show Purchase #2: 1959 Fence Busters

Overall the dealers at the Fargo show weren't terribly organized. Not that that's a bad thing, it's just once you've seen some of the guys who frequent the Raleigh, NC shows you kind of expect to show up to a card show, ask for what you want, and have it handed right to you. There's plenty of room for serendipity, but not quite as much.

So, I was rummaging through what looked like a Braves-heavy section of this guys vintage box and this card popped out:

It's not mint but with Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthew it doesn't need to be. And man do they look young here!

But what it that supposed to be in the background? It that a busted fence or an odd fractal threatening to swallow up Matthews?

Pretty sweet that a card about "Fence Busters" has a guys sliding and stealing bases on the back.

Even so, the original price on the card had it WAY out of my price range. There was a lot of great vintage there, vintage I hadn't budgeted to run into, so I was already over budget. Long story short, after bargaining I landed this 50s classic for $6. 

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Card Show Purchase #1: Eddie Moore

Looking at vintage make me feel better about going down 1-2 to the Rangers. OK, not really, but still.

At the card show this weekend there were about 8 guys selling cards. Of the 8 maybe 3 were serious dealers and the remaining 5 were just guys selling cards.

I noticed Eddie Moore at the table of one of the guys selling cards. It was the only thing near that old he had and he seemed relaxed so I asked to take a look.

Eddie himself looks a bit wistful. He's at the end of his career and just staring off into the distance, like he knows that when you go from the Browns and Giants to playing with the New Orleans Pelicans the end is pretty much near. That said, as their starting 2B in 1933 Eddie led them to a Southern Association Championship. That and, with those blue eyes, I imagine he was quite the lady killer no matter where he was. 

The back of the card is full of Goudey goofiness. His name isn't really "Eddie"? Was that just made up? BBReference lists him as "Edward Charles Moore," while Wikipedia agrees with the Goudey here. (The Wikipedia entry, btw, is pretty nice!) Gotta do more research on that and figure out what the deal is. 

Anyway, it turns out Eddie was an insert in UD Goudey a few years ago and was one of the big hits this guy pulled from his case. After some more discussion I put Eddie back down and walked away, because I wasn't there to spend my limited budget on a single but awesome vintage card. 

Fast forward to when I'm buying cards at the adjacent table about 1/2 hour later. When I'm finished there the guy simply stands up, hands me the Eddie, and says, "I'll give it to you for $5." I still can't believe that! 

Judging by the show, my hypothesis is that local guys are now selling vintage at even lower than ebay prices---is that the same where everyone else lives?

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rays-style crazy

Things have been wild for the past 7 or so months.

I got my book to the publisher (yay!), spent a month in Mexico (yay!), and started the new semester back in August. Good God, it's now October!

Anyway, I'm getting my act together. I've you been in touch about a trade, I'll email you this week.

New goals: I'll be posting at least once a week. At least one trade a week.

I finally got to a card show this weekend down in Fargo. I'll put up the haul later this week, but it'll center around one question: do people sell vintage at these prices all over the country? I was shocked.

Also, a neighbor who's moving dropped off his collection yesterday. This is AWESOME, and I'll be passing a lot of that goodness along by Friday.

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