Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What's in the (Baseball Card) Box, Part 11, Cal Ripken, Jr.

It's funny, maybe to me only...but growing up I hated Cal Ripken Jr. I met him at an event and didn't think he was nice. I was between 10-13 so, really, what did I know. I must've walked away without an autograph which is why my feelings were the way they were. But,  in spite of this, I apparently collected him anyway.  I've always trended to the contradictory (I also did not like either Carl Lewis or Michael Jordan). So in this case, even though I didn't like Ripken I guess I couldn't help but collect him. At the time, he was on my 'home town' team. Had Washington had a team back when I moved, I might have thought harder about it.

The following cards are the Cal Ripken, Jr. cards that I have. Numbers in parentheses after each card indicates the quantity I have.

1988, Card #171 (8)
1988 Diamond Kings, Card #26 (6)
1988, The Ripken Family, Card #625 (2)
1988, MVP, Card #BC-1
1988 All-Stars Pop-ups, No Number (2)
1989, Card #51 (3)
1989, MVP, Card #BC-15
1989 All-Stars, Card #5 (3)
1989, All-Stars Pop-ups, No number (2)

1985, Card #187
1985, Super Star Special Ripken-in-Action, Card #626
1986 Limited Edition, Card #36
1987 Award Winner, Card #33 (3)
1988 Super Star Specials, Card #635, featuring Tony Fernandez, Cal Ripken Jr., Alan Trammell (3)
1988 Super Star Specials, Card #640, Billy Ripken and Cal Ripken Jr. (2)
1988 Star Stickers, Card #3
1989, Card #617 (3)

1983, Card #163
1984, Card #490
1984, Orioles Batting & Pitching Leaders, with Mike Boddicker, Card #426
1985, Card #30
1985 All Star, Card #704
1985 Glossy All Star, Card #16
1986, Card #340
1986, All Star, Card #715
1986 Mini Leaders, Card #2
1987, Card #784
1987, All Star, Card #609
1987 Mini Leaders, Card #40 (2)
1987 Glossy All Star, Card #16
1988, Card #650 (4)
1988 Baltimore Orioles Team Leaders, with Eddie Murray, Card #51
1988 Topps Sticker Backs, Card #44 (note: stickers removed from other side)
1989 Glossy All Star, Card #5 (4)

Other cards:
1986 Leaf, Card #142
1987 Leaf, Card #98
1988 Leaf Diamond Kings, Card #26
1988 Bazooka, Card #17 Traded
1988 Panini Stickers, Card #13
1988 Score, Card #550
1988 Score Super Shortstops, with Tony Fernandez and Alan Trammell, Card #651 (3)
1989 Panini Stickers, Card #241
1989 Score, Card #15 (2)
1989 Sports Illustrated for Kids, Card #69 Traded

If any of these cards are desired for anyone's collection, please contact me. Most are in near mint condition; a few are in good to very good (the early Topps).

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What's in the (Baseball Card) Box, Part 10

The contents of the box continues, this time with players with last names starting with R, S, W, and Z.

A nice random selection of cards here: Brooks Robinson (Baltimore Orioles), Pete Rose (Cincinnati Reds), Nolan Ryan (Texas Rangers), Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies), Willie Stargell (Pittsburgh Pirates), Jerome Walton (Chicago Cubs), Mark Williamson (Baltimore Orioles), Carl Yastrezemski (Boston Red Sox) and Todd Zeile (St. Louis Cardinals). I guess I'm west coast phobic...

Brooks Robinson:
1969 Topps, Card #421
1978 Topps Record Breaker, Card #4

Pete Rose:
1978 Topps, Card #20

Nolan Ryan:
1989 Upper Deck, Card #774

1986, Sportflics, Card #178: Future Stars (Jose Canseco, Mark Funderburk, Mike Greenwell, Steve Lombardozzi, Billy Joe Robidoux, and Danny Tartabull) - TRADED This card has been sent of to flourish in another collection, but I wanted to list it anyway.

Mike Schmidt:
1978 Topps, Card #360

Willie Stargell:
1972 Topss, Card #447

Jerome Walton:
1989 Bowman, Card #295 (2)

Matt Williams:
1987 Topps Traded, Card #129T

Mark Williamson:
1989 Topps, Card #546, signed

Carl Yastrezemski:
1976 Topps, Card #230

Todd Zeile:
1990 Fleer, Card #265

If any cards listed here will fill in a collection, or just simply, greedily add to it, please contact me.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Straw: Finding My Way by Darryl Strawberry

I recently borrowed from my local library and read Straw: Finding My Way by Darryl Strawberry (New York: Ecco, 2009). As if I hadn't said it enough already, he was my favorite player growing up. He was a lefty; I was a righty. I played right field and bench. I wished I was a lefty. Then I could have gotten an outfielders baseball glove with this signature in it (as it was I had and still have a Rawlings Dale Murphy). I guess they made them for righties, but I never saw one (until I just googled it).  While I did bat right-handed, I taught myself his stance, too, and have to say in our driveway I could regularly make decent contact on the tennis ball with which we were forced to play. But I wasn't dumb, then. I knew that I would never play professional baseball. Something about not cracking five feet tall until around 10th grade solidified my fate to try to excel in other sports... And, to beat a dead horse, my interest in baseball waned severely after about the 1989 season -- at least I can hardly say that I collected baseball cards after that point (though I have now an odd 1990 card, I have nothing after that).

What a life. A full spectrum of experiences with massive highs and frightening lows. The book is written almost as if it was being spoken. Like it was a series of interviews, even. The cover indicates authorship is "Darryl Strawberry with John Strausbaugh" so I can only presume that Strausbaugh did most of the writing with input from Strawberry. The book is quite candid. Strawberry owns up to his transgressions, successes, failures, and everything in-between.

As a Strawberry fan and a baseball fan, I lament that his career wasn't as long, healthy, and productive as it might have been had not all the troubles happened with drugs and injuries. Strawberry is 12 years older than me, but in 1984 when I first got on the Strawberry fan boat, he seemed so much older. He brought so much energy and excitement to my baseball watching. He was as dynamic aND grace full a hutter as there every was. Whenever he was on This Week In Baseball, I tuned in. On the cover of a magazine? I had to have it. Baseball cards? Posters? Wanted it. Willing to have a breakdown in the card store over it. Almost nothing I wouldn't give up, money or cards-wise, for something I didn't have. (That being said, I always wanted but never got his 1983 Topps Traded.)

Knock knock.
What's there?

I look at Strawberry with infinitely more respect and admiration than I previously did. I am still a fan and have restarted collecting his baseball cards because I think it will be fun. It'll serve two purposes: get me in touch with the feeling I had as a 10-15 year old but also get me familiar with the period of card collecting I missed while in college, overseas, and then two freakin' decades in the professional world.

I recommend Straw to any and every baseball fan. I am positive others will benefit from reading this book whether they are struggling with their own addictions or just want to read about a person who came from nothing, made it big, lost everything and still wound up on his feet a better man than he might otherwise have been. Strawling can be a frustrating read because we now how his career went, but it is still a worthwhile one because the journey was so difficult.   And reaching the conclusion really kind of joyous because in the end it turned out well.  He found success and meaning and a life and a wife to be very proud of.

If you were a fan of Darryl Strawberry and/or Dwight Gooden, you'll want to pay attention to ESPN's 30 for 30 which has a program in the works for 14 July. This will, of course, inextricably link forever Bastille Day, Strawberry, and Gooden.

For more information about Pastor Darryl Strawberry, visit his website.

Thanks for stopping by.

All links accessed 22 May 2016.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What's in the Box, Part 9

Random cards for players with a last name of H-M from the box today. A nice mixture of players old and older.

Atlee Hammaker, 1985 Topps, Card #674, signed
Orel Hershiser, 1985 Topps, Card #493

Bo Jackson, 1987 Donruss Rated Rookie, Card #35

Gregg Jefferies:
1988 Donruss, Card #657 (3)
1988 Fleer, Card #137
1988 Score, Card #645
1990 Fleer, Card #207

Gregg Jefferies represents something I find very interesting. The Rated Rookie and Hot Prospect. Growing up, this kid was THE KID. Projected for infinite potential. And then...what. Faded into anonymity. I wonder how many of the players that get labelled "Rated Rookies" or "Future Stars" actually turn out to be something: and by something I mean Hall of Fame. Has a study ever been done of those players who get hyped and then fizzle? I'm willing to guess that 75% have average to below average careers. Perhaps I am being too critical? I don't mean to be. It seems he had a decent career. Maybe even respectable. I just remember the hype surrounding his first years and the relative difficulty it was getting his early cards. I guess I hold grudges. I do have to say I love the 1988 Fleer design.

Howard Johnson, 1985 Topps, Card #192 (2)

Ralph Kiner
1977 Topps Turn Back the Clock, Card #437
1987 Hygrade All-Time Greats, No card number

Don Mattingly, 1986 Leaf, Card #103 (2).  I'm not sure if this was an error card or not, but his mustache is missing. If you happen to find it, please let me know.

1978 Topps, Card #34

Fred McGriff
1987 Topps Traded, Card #74T

Mark McGwire
1985 Topps United States Baseball Team, Card #401

Kevin McReynolds
1984 Donruss Rated Rookie, Card #34
1984 Fleer, Card #307

Kevin Mitchell
1987 Fleer, Card #17
1987 Fleer Update, Card #U-82
1987 Topps Traded, Card #81T (2)

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Andrew McCutchen: Topps NOW #39

As Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates is my current favorite baseball player, when Topps produced a ToppsNOW card for his 3 home run performance on 26 April 2016 in Colorado, I decided I had to buy the card to see how it all looked.

The card is handsome. It feels thinner, and so therefore less sturdy, than the base series of 2016 Topps cards. Somewhere I read that Topps wasn't going to be printing serial numbers on these 24-hour cards. I wish they would. It's fine and dandy to list the print run on their website, but I can't help but feel that by not printing them on the physical card -- and there is a ton of space for this on the back -- that they are going to be issuing a complete set at some point after the season. They are in the business of making money, so I understand if they do that. But the experience of buying something available for a brief period of time would be cheapened. It's probably a style-sheet inclusion, but on their website you do have the option to "Sign up to get notified when this product is back in stock."

524 of these babies were printed. I'm thrilled to own one of them. Possibly I could have found a copy on eBay or via a trade somewhere down the road but I did want to try out the service. I think in the future I'll only buy one if it commemorates a performance I witnessed in person.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What's in the Box, Part 8: Mike Greenwell

Going through the box I discovered that for a couple of years apparently I collected Mike Greenwell, who played his entire professional career with the Boston Red Sox. I do remember his 1987 rookie year and remember in particular seeing him play the Baltimore Orioles at some point at ye old Memorial Stadium. Oh, the long gone darlings....

This lead me to collect, apparently, his baseball cards. Below are a list of the cards, followed by a photograph. Numbers in parentheses indicate the number dupes that I have. If any one out there wants one, some, or all, just ask!

1988, Card #339 (6)
1989 Diamond King, Card #1, (6)
1989, Card #186
1989 MVP, Card #BC-10 (4)
1989 All-Stars, Card #15

1988, Card #354
1988, "Changing of the Guard in Boston", Card #630, featuring also Ellis Burks and Todd Benzinger (no relation to Lemon Zinger)
1988 Star Stickers, Card #9
1989, Card # 90
1989 All-Star Team, Card #6

1987, Card #259
1988 All-Star Rookie, Card #493
1989, Card #630 (12)
1989 All Star, Card #402 (8)
1989 Mini Leaders, Card #48 (3)

Other Cards:
1988 Leaf, Card #153
1988 Boston Red Sox (unlicensed), Card #8
1988 Score, Card #175
1988 Toys'R'Us Rookies, Card #12
1989 Score, Card #66 (2)
1989 Score Highlight, Card #659 (2)
1989 Upper Deck, Card #432 (2)

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dwight Gooden: Doctor K (aka What's in the Box, Part 7)

Growing up in the mid 1980s a Mets fan was fun and frustrating, both. The build up from 1983 to 1986 was wonderful. The 1986 season itself probably goes without saying. What came after in 1987, 1988, and 1989 was a failure of potential. The team teetered between first and second place in the NL East in those years, and failed to advance all the way to the World Series. By 1991 it was over, done. Darryl Strawberry changed coasts. Over, done. So was my interest, largely, in baseball. Girls, cross country, track, girls and then college in 1992 changed everything. But, fortunately I saw the light and got back into baseball & baseball cards.

I love looking at these cards. Even the cases. I pulled out my 1985 Topps Dwight Gooden rookie card and it is encased in a plastic holder where the back slides down and out. This kind of case, for my young 1985, 11-year-old self, was pretty expensive and that is why this card, once a very valuable one, is in it. I bought a Beckett Baseball magazine last year (July 2015, with a goober-smiling Mike Trout on the cover holding the bat like a lefty) and was kind of bummed to see that now it's worth about $2.00 in mint condition. I remember going through the cards as a kind regularly to find commons that became hits, and to remove star players that were reduced to the status of commons. Even rainy days back then were fine because I could stay in my room with my brother and just look at the cards. Maybe we traded from time to time, too.

Dwight Gooden was exciting to watch pitch. We visited family in New York a couple of summers during that time and saw some Mets and Yankees games. I'm not sure if we ever saw Gooden pitch. But I remember having my father take photographs of Howard Johnson and when they got developed he was smaller than pea-size.

But this post is about the Dwight Gooden cards that I have. They are listed below. I have one card of each unless after it appears a number in parentheses. At the bottom I'll insert photographs of the cards.

1985, Card #190
1986, Card #75
1986 Diamond Kings, Card #26
1986 Highlights, Card #8
1987, Card #199
1988, Card #69 (13)
1988 Baseball's Best, Card #96
1989, Card #270 (3)
1989 All-Stars, Card #40 (4)
1989 All-Stars, Pop-Ups, No number

1985, Card #82
1985 Fleer Star Stickers, Card #87
1986, Card #81
1986 Gooden in Action, Card #626
1986 All-Stars, Card #10
1986 Limited Edition, Card #30
1987 Hottest Stars, Card #18
1987 Headliners, Card #3
1987 Award Winners, Card #15 (3)
1987 Limited Edition, Card #18 (2)
1988, Card #135
1988 Headliners, Card #5
1988 Star Stickers, Card #102 (4)
1988 Mini, Card #92
1989, Super Star Specials, Card #635 Mark Davis/Dwight Gooden, "Dual Heat" (2)

1985, Card #620
1985 Record Breaker, Card #3
1986 Record Breaker, Card #202
1985 Glossy Send-Ins, Card #38
1986, Card #250
1986 All Star, Card #709 (4)
1986 Mini, Card #52
1987, Card #130 (2)
1987 All Star, Card #603 (2)
1987 Mini, Card #23 (3)
1987 Glossy All-Stars, Card #10
1988, Card #480 (4)
1988 All Star, Card #405 (4)
1988 Mini Leaders, Card #60
1988 Sticker Backs #25 (Gary Gaetti on back)
1989, Card #30 (12)
1989 Turn Back the Clock, Card #661 (8)
1989 All-Stars Card #21 (4)
1989 Mini Leaders, Card #26 (4)
1989 Topps Stickers, Card #99 (Frank Viola, #30 on back)
1989 Topps Stickers, Card #59, Backs (John Shelby, Los Angeles Dodgers, Card #63 & Brook Jacoby, Cleveland Indians, Card #212, on other side) Traded

Other Cards, Coins, and Stickers:
1985 Seven-Eleven Coins, #E9
1986 Seven-Eleven Coins, #E1
1986 Quaker Granola, Card #2
1988 Bazooka, Card #8
1988 Broder Action Superstars (unlicensed), Card #5
1988 Score, Card #350 (4)
1988 Score, Card #200
1989 Upper Deck, Card #565

The 1985s
1986 Donruss
1988-1989 Donruss
Other cards, stickers and coins
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thoughts on 2016 Topps Series One

Who is card 7?  What happened? What was it left out? I was baffled when I read that Series One would contain 350 cards but landed Chase Utley's 351 in the early packs I opened. I'm still confused. I don't get it. They seem to skip 7 every year. I am sure there is a reason. I see Mickey Mantle was card 7 from at least 2009 through 2012. Did they retire his number? I'm sorry but I find this weird...anyway...

I should state from the beginning that this is the first set I've assembled contemporary to the cards being released since the spring and summer of 1990. I use that as my date because I have no recollection or familiarity with the 1991 design. Last summer I assembled two sets of 1987 Topps, which was great fun. It feels, working with the 2016 edition, like I just awoke from a coma. The differences are so vast. I can safely say that baseball cards have come a very long way since then, and another disclosure: before last summer I hadn't so much as looked at a card in perhaps 20 or so years. Then, back in 1990, Topps baseball cards looked like the below left. The design bore a quasi-homage /take-off/resemblance to the 1988 Donruss (below right).

I prefer cards with borders, so the 2016 Topps was a little disappointing in that regard. It always made me feel like I  had something to hold on to on the card. That being said, obvious cutting errors might now be harder to spot. However, that's a personal preference and doesn't detract from how amazing I find the photography to be. It must be nearly impossible to determine a photograph to use. Digital photography must enable several hundred to choose from for each player for each game. I guess there is no excuse, with so many potential images to choose from, for a player like poor Edwin/Ed Nunez to have cards as awful as his was in 1985 or as confused as Willie McGee looked in 1986. (Although I realize this was just Willie's permanent face.)

Poor Ed/Edwin. Poor Willie.

Being 'new' again to baseball cards, I also find the horizontal cards hard to adjust to, but I very much like the idea.

Below are the cards in roughly 50 card stacks showing also a Mike Trout base card and camo jersey variation. The Posey card is a rainbow foil parallel. The smokey stuff on the card is one of those things that fall under the category "just because you can, doesn't mean you should'.  Kind of like screwing with the color and/or flavor Oreo's (Cinnamon bun Oreo's, really??) . Just don't. It doesn't do anything for me.

There are a number of cards, 4 in the first 30 alone, for rookies with some major league stats (or none, even) but for which there are no major league stats on the verso of the card.

Alec Asher, above, had an abominable 0-6 record with an ERA over 9 for the Philadelphia Phillies last year. Was not putting that on his card an act of kindness? I disagree with this.

John Hicks, above, played in 17 games last year for the Mariners. I'd like to see his full stats on the CARD and not have to go to Baseball-Reference.com to see them. Though I love having the website at my finger tips wherever I go.

Richie Shaffer hasn't played a major league game yet. He should not have a card. Much less be the third bloody one in the entire set. Certainly there were enough qualifying players that do or did warrant receiving a card? Jerad Eickhoff appeared in 8 games last year for the Phillies, he does and should have a card. Again, having his full stats for minor league and major league play would be handy. Some players even have something like 10 years (or ten teams worth) of minor league service on the backs of the cards. I guess I'd like some consistency.

Phew: that was close. The (then) Cubs' outfielder Chris Coghlan made it safely away from the fiery explosion at Citifield taking place during filming of the MLB Network's new baseball, Hard Out, inspired by Die Hard. Bruce Willis is set to play former Nationals manager Matt Williams.

I heard a rumor Adam LaRoche actually walked away from baseball because Topps airbrushed out his kid from the photograph on his card (above right) for wearing the wrong uniform.

The card for Andrew McCutchen, my current favorite player. This is his first first card without dreads, I think, for a long time and am surprised this isn't recognized with a label. This is the first card of his I got and it seems preposterous that according to The Trading Card Database he has, already, more than 2,700 cards, which is 400 more than my childhood favorite player.

Over and above any of this, I have really enjoyed building this set. I loved almost every minute of it, even getting five Trayce Thompson's in my first seven packs. I do miss the wax wrapping. With so many throwbacks in play these days, is there a wax pack or a rack pack out there to be had that I don't know about? I think for Series Two I might venture into the Hobby Box arena to try it out.

I would be remiss if I didn't talk about all the many inserts. Too many is an understatement.

I have another page on this blog that lists the 2016 Topps Series One duplicate cards that I have. If anyone wants some or all, please do not hesitate to contact me. Not listed there yet are many of the many inserts that I've pulled out of packs. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What's in the Box, Part 6: Basketball, Football, and Hockey Cards

A little break from baseball cards today, lamentably, to list some basketball, football, and hockey cards I found tucked in the back of the box. Photographs of all the cards are below.

1979-1980 Topps, Reggie Theus, Chicago Bulls, Card #44
1988-1989 Fleer Stickers, Dominique Wilkins, Card #11
1989-1990 Fleer, Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks, Card #7
1989-1990 Fleer, Larry Bird, Boston Celtics, Card #8
1989-1990 Fleer, Rex Chapman, Charlotte Hornets, Card #15
1989-1990 Fleer, Akeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets, Card #61
1989-1990 Fleer, Hersey Hawkins, Philadelphia 76ers, Card #117
1989-1990 Hoops, Dominique Wilkins, Card #130

1980 Topps, Phil Simms, New York Giants, Card #225
1980 Topps, Doug Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Card #312
1980 Topps, Don Warren, Washington Redskins, Card #371
1980 Topps, Joe Theismann, Wasington Redskins, Card #475
1981 Topps, Walter Payton All Pro, Chicago Bears, Card #400
1989 Topps, Cornelius Bennett, Buffalo Bills, Card #43
1989 Topps, Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills, Card #45
1989 Topps, Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles, Card #115
1989 Topps, Earnest Byner, Cleveland Browns, Card #147
1989 Topps, Dave Krieg, Seattle Seahawks, Card #188
1989 Topps, Denver Broncos checklist, Card #238
1989 Topps, Karl Mecklenburg, Denver Broncos, Card #247
1989 Topps, Doug Williams, Washington Redskins, Card #259
1989 Topps, Los Angeles Raiders checklist, Card #264
1989 Topps, Bo Jackson, Los Angeles Raiders, Card #269
1989 Topps, Willi Gault, Los Angeles Raiders, Card #272
1989 Topps, Mike Wise, Los Angeles Raiders, Card #275
1989 Topps, Neil Lomas, Phoenix Cardinals, Card #283
1989 Topps, Vinny Testaverde, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Card #327
1989 Topps, Aundray Bruce, Atlanta Falcons, Card #337
1989 Topps, Michael Irvin, Dallas Cowboys, Card #383
1989 Topps, 1000 Yard Club, Drew Hill, Card #11

1974-1975 Topps, Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins, Card #100 TRADED
1988-1989 Topps, Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins, Card #1 TRADED
1988-1989 Topps, Dave Christian, Washington Capitals, Card #14, signed TRADED

If there are any cards listed here you want, just contact me. Thanks for stopping by.