Monday, July 13, 2020

HOF Johnny Bench

The fact that Johnny Bench's last Topps card, for the 1983 set, has a wax stain on it makes this card very much more awesome than it would otherwise be. It show Bench at bat, in his visitor's grays, with fun colors of pink and yellow (ish). Maybe they aren't pink and yellow but that's what they look like to me. I ain't no colorologist. 

Johnny Bench was elected into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1989, receiving 96.4% of votes. That's, for all intents and purposes, a unanimous selection. He was a Rookie of the Year, 2-time MVP (1970 and 1972), 14-time All-Star, 2-time World Series winner, a World Series MVP, and a 10-time Gold Glover.

Bench led the league three times in Sacrifice Flies. He led the once in intentional walks and that was in the same year he won an MVP (1972). It's probably the only reason why he won the MVP that year. Or maybe his 40 home runs and 125 RBI had a little something to do with it.

I normally think of him as a catcher, but he got around. Like a lot. He played seven different positions in his career: Catcher, First Base, Third Base, Left/Right/Centerfield, and, generically, Outfield. The majority of his games, 1742, came as catcher. In 1972, he played 2 games in Centerfield and then they realized that even though he had three chances and 3 putouts, Bench shouldn't play Centerfield. 

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Friday, July 10, 2020

P-Town Tom Does It Again

Waitin' Til Next Year blogger P-Town Tom sent me another surprise PWE in the mail and again, basing his kind act on my Google sheets list of cards. Thank you Tom! This one consisted of four John Kruk cards.

2013 Allen and Ginter (which you will undoubtedly remember was featured in last Friday's blog post as being a card that Mark sent me)

2013 Gypsy Queen Mini

2012 Goodwin Champions Mini

A far better rendition of of Kruk than of Strawberry, which was discussed also in last weeks post about cards from Mark.

1995 Collector's Choice

What's kind of funny is that within a week, two different hobby-collector-friends both sent me Allen and Ginter and Goodwin Champions cards of one of my favorite players. Has that ever happened to you?

Thanks Tom!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1992 7-Eleven Coins

Nothing says Summer like Baseball. Even during a pandemic, I still think this season and baseball are synonymous. In addition, nothing brings back really awesome fond memories of summer than 7-Eleven Slurpee coins. We collected these like madmen and would walk, run, or bike from our house the .8 miles to the closest one. So many happy memories. But by the time this 1992 Darryl Strawberry coin was issued I wasn't in the hobby anymore. I was just graduated from high school and more focused on other things. 

Did you go in for Slurpee coins when you were a kid? Did you mix flavors to concoct weird-ass combinations?

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Monday, July 6, 2020

HOF Gaylord Perry

I do not remember much about the Boy Scouts. I remember we met in the basement of a church located next to my elementary school. I remember doing those wooden car races. I remember scoffing at the idea of camping. But what I remember most was trading baseball cards and one of them being Gaylord Perry's 1983 Topps card.

Perry had a 22 year career. Are any starting pitchers these days going to have that kind of endurance? To pitch 22 years and amass a total of 5,350 innings? That's an average of 243.18 innings per year. No league leader in Innings Pitched has exceeded 243 since 2014 when Johnny Cueto and David Price both did it. And he pitched more than 300 innings six times. There hasn't been a 300 Innings Pitched guy since Steve Carlton in 1980. I would like to see someone pitch 1 inning exactly in every game of the year. 

Perry won two Cy Young awards (1972 and 1978), was a five time All-Star, and pitched for eight teams in the AL and NL. He won a total of 314 games. Wins matter. Do you think they do?

In 1983, he was released mid-season by the Mariners and signed in early July with the Royals with whom his career ended after going 4-4 with them. Gaylord Perry appeared in the postseason just once! In 1971.

How about a quiz?  This is from a school in Massachusetts from April 1946.

Answers next Monday!

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Cards from Fuji

Mark, bka San Jose Fuji, sent me two PWE's recently. The first contained a single card of 1987 Fleer All-Star Kirby Puckett. A very happy looking card.

The second envelope had 16 cards in it. All of John Kruk and Darryl Strawberry. Although I am grateful for all of them, 14 of them will be passed along to fellow collectors eventually as they are dupes. But two were new.

First up is the 2013 Allen and Ginter John Kruk. A decent likeness to the guy.

The second is Upper Deck's Goodwin Champion of Darryl Strawberry, also from 2013.

This card is not a decent likeness of Strawberry. In fact, I'm going to go so far as to sound ungrateful enough by saying it's a hideous, heinous representation of the player. Now, I'm not a jerk--I may sound like one often, but I am not one--so please don't think me one, Mark! I am grateful to have this card. I didn't even know about it until I saw it.

Thanks Mark!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1990 Panini Stickers

This it the 1990 Panini Darryl Strawberry sticker. It's a sharp, bright, clear photograph and the team name and player name are nicely rendered. The baseball is very nice, and I really like the color bar on the team name. I guess since this is a blog in which I complain regularly, I think I wished the color bar matched the team colors. But, that's grasping because I think the yellow to teal(?) has a really nice and fresh look to it.

Goodness those Mets uniforms were gorgeous.

I'm not really sure what "double stickers" are. Do you? And do you or did you agree that "Trading double stickers with your friends is fun"?

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Monday, June 29, 2020

HOF Fergie Jenkins

Fergie Jenkins had a 19-year baseball career. Strange, because the back of his 1984 Topps card doesn't really look to contain so many lines. He pitched his last game in 1983 in his second stint with the Cubs. That's how I think of him: as a Cubs. Which is probably how most of us do? He had ten years with them and the also pitched for the Phillies, Rangers (also two stints), and Red Sox. 

Jenkins won a Cy Young, was a three time All-Star, and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 earning 75.4% of the vote in his third year of eligibility. Squeaking in.

He pitched 4500.2 innings and faced exactly 18,400 batters. His Cy Young came in 1971 with the Cubs. He had 30 complete games and pitcher 325 innings. His team that year finished 3rd with a record of 83-79 in the NL East behind the juggernaut, World Series winning Pirates and persistent Cardinals. 

Jenkins played with four teams but who do you most associate him with? Me, it's these Cubs.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Two Kruks from P-Town Tom

P-Town Tom hoodwinked me. I got a surprise envelope from him one day and so naturally I was really excited. I opened it up and saw John Kruk. I was excited. But the cards looked really familiar and I ran to check my collection and sure enough. Both of these cards were in there. So I was a little disappointed.

But Tom does something awesome. He sends a note with the cards. Which is a nice touch and is something I like to do too; though Tom's notes are more thoughtful than mind. And it was upon reading Tom's note that the extent of his thoughtfulness came through because he explained two things to me. First, that these weren't the cards that I had in my checklist: he had checked it. Second, that these were the Gold Hologram parallels for 1992 Upper Deck. A ha! Two new cards for my collection. Nice.

Thanks Tom!!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1990 Fleer Canadian

What a beautiful card. I wish Strawberry's bat pierce the blue border like his helmet did. And the back of this card is crisp and bright and delicious: like a ripe, big apple. (See what I did there?)

This joins the American printed one from "Phila." that I got from Tom/Angels in Order back in 2017. If you're curious, then please go to that post and just look at the difference in the colors on the verso.

Strawberry was coming off a down year in 1989, which, from his 134 games we can deduce was hindered by some injuries. And in 1990, he rebounded many of his offensive numbers, finishing 3rd in the MVP race, finishing distantly behind Pirates teammates Barry Bonds (1st) and Bobby Bonilla (2nd).

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Monday, June 22, 2020

HOF Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer is the kind of player I like best. Long career and all with one team. He played 19 seasons from 1965 to 1984 all with the Baltimore Orioles. He missed the 1968 season...missed being the wrong word for it as he was in the Minors the whole year trying to figure things out. Though the stats for his first three years don't look too bad, it's clear the year down had an effect on his final 16 years.

Palmer won 3 Cy Young awards, was on 3 World Series winning teams, won 2 ERA titles, was voted to 6 All-Star games, and won 4 Gold Gloves. His 268 wins was impressive and it's a shame he wasn't a 300 game winner; his career ERA is a sting 2.86. Imagine that. He had 211 complete games. Imagine THAT!

Palmer was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 which was his first year of eligibility. He went in that year with last weeks guy, Joe Morgan. Palmer secured 92.6% of the vote. A no-doubter. I knew him as a pitcher as I grew up in the Baltimore market. I probably saw him live at least once, I imagine. But I did know him as an underwear model. I guess we probably found it funny.

This is Jim Palmer's final Topps card for the 1983 season. He appeared in five games in 1984 going 0-3 with a 9.17 era.

The text on the back of the card is a bit lame, but I guess Topps had to put something there.

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Friday, June 19, 2020

John Kruk: 1988 Topps Stickers

Some people might be more interested in the back of this sticker showing Jeffrey Leonard of the San Francisco Giants. They would be hugely wrong because of the late twilight photograph of John Kruk gracing the front. 

By 1988, stickers were fully ensconced in the baseball card and collecting world. What a great way to get boys and men to partake in something that might have been more marketed towards girls. I got the stickers and I got the sticker books but those books, which may more may not have been filled, no longer are a part of my collection and I suspect I tossed them in college. 

When you were a kid did you collect stickers? Scratch and sniffs, and otherwise? I did. Hated the one that smelled like diesel!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1989 Red Foley

Who was Red Foley? Why did he want to make stickers? There was a singer called Red Foley. But I'm not sure that was him. There was also a sportswriter and official baseball scorer by that name. That seems more likely. I was going to do some original research for this blog post, but Wrigley Wax did such a nice job and included everything and more than I could have come up with. Read that blog post here.

This is Darryl Strawberry's 1989 Red Foley sticker. These bad boys are actually sneaky expensive on the market. Which is fine, I guess, as they likely were printed in smaller quantities than Panini? Maybe? Nice photograph showing a strong right biceps. But the back is a bit bland but that's ok because they were meant to be thrown away. Which is funny that some companies put the sticker number on the back. Duh. These suckers are small. 

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Monday, June 15, 2020

HOF Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan. I was only a baseball fan for the later part of Joe Morgan's career. So I think I mostly remember him as a broadcaster. His smile is radiant. And I always enjoyed his game. He has a great literal voice for that kind of thing.

He won two MVP awards (back-to-back in 1975 and 1976), was a 10 time All-Star, won two World Series (also back-to-back in 1975 and 1976), five Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and was an All-Star Game MVP. 

His career started with ye old Colt .45s. He finished second in the 1965 Rookie of the Year race finishing a distant second behind the winner Jim Lefebvre of the Dodgers. Those interested in WAR will shit their pants and become revisionist to know that Morgan should have won the Rookie of the Year in 1965 because his WAR was 5.7 and Mr The February's was 4.6.

He led the league in a number of categories through the years, the peak period being 1971 to 1976. His 1982 Silver Slugger award was more deserving than Ozzie Smith's lone award in that category! It was a newish category then and maybe 

This 1985 Topps card was his last printed in a base set my the now monopoly-holding card company. In a feat of inconsistency, they did issue a card for Morgan whose last game was in the 1984 season. 

Who else now is in the mood for a donut?

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Friday, June 12, 2020

John Kruk: Pimping is easy

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PS: Like, honestly. Why would you even need to put words in a post with a photograph on a sticker like that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1990 Fleer Baseball All Stars

Are you a Topps person. Or you a Donruss person? Or are you a Fleer person? Something else. Do you like red wine over white wine? Cats or dogs? These are things that are more divisive than politics and religion.

I'm largely a Topps person. Always have been. Though I obviously dabbled in packs of everything in the 1980s and early 1990s. But one thing I was "pro-" was all the little 44 card or so sets that Fleer was putting out back then. I was a little surprised this card was missing from my collection but it was. So from Sportlots it let someones house and came to mine. The "strawberry" toned color & shading on the card back tickles me senseless. 

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Monday, June 8, 2020

HOF Tony Perez

Do you like 1986 Topps? I do. More and more. I liked it as a 12 year old and I really like it now. I think it's a fun design; the player name and position are in crystal clear font as if to juxtapose against the full bold and blockish team name in strong color against a black ground. The diamond in the corners on the card back are symmetrical and the layout is very beautiful.

This is Tony Perez's final Topps card, photo-bombed by 1985 Rookie star Eric Davis. Perez play for four team in his 23 year career: 16 with the Reds, three with Boston and Montreal, and 1 with Philadelphia. He was a two time World Series champion and a seven time All-Star, winning the MVP in one of those All-Star appearances. He averaged just over 2 stolen bases a year for his career. But I'm not sure how much that weighed on his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Perez was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2000. This was his 9th year of eligibility. His standard batting stats are largely bereft of the expected league leading italics (on the baseball card) and bold (on Baseball Reference). Although in 1980 he lead the league in ground into double-plays.

In fact, looking into his stats he seems largely a very average player who played for a long time.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

John Kruk: 1987 Topps Stickers

John Kruk. The man, the myth, the slap-hitting first baseman and outfielder for the San Diego Padres here. This is the 1987 Topps Sticker. Or, half of it. For .18 cents. Not bad, but I wouldn't have paid .36 cents for the whole thing. Naturally I thought I was getting the whole thing from Sportlots, but I guess that's a minor set back to ordering without photographic evidence.

Kruk's sticker-mate on this was the Minnesota Twins Mickey Hatcher who played third, first, and outfield in his 12 year career with the Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles, California. 

Not sure I ever noticed it before but the sticker was Made in Italy. 

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Monday, June 1, 2020

HOF Rod Carew

Rod Carew had a long 19 year career in the major leagues playing for the Minnesota Twins and the then California Angels. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1967, an MVP ten years later in 1977, and a seven-time AL Batting Champion, winning his first title in 1969 and then being selfish and dominating in the 1970s, winning it from 1972-1975, and then again in 1977 and 1978. He finished third in 1976 with a .331 average behind young upstart George Brett (.333) and Hal McRae (.332). Very close! He was also an 18-time All-Star, missing only 1985, his final season.

This is his last Topps card from 1986. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in the Class of 1991 on his first year of eligibility earning 90.5% of the vote. Way to go! If he had more career GW-RBI he would have gotten more votes. That's a scientific fact.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

HOF Class of 1999: Ryan Brett Yount Cepeda

If ever a player was a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Fame candidate, Nolan Ryan was that player. There have been many others, obviously, but he was probably the most famous pitcher of my youth who yielded the torch, after several seasons of overlap, to Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens. 

Like Tom Seaver in 1992, Nolan Ryan received 98.8% of the vote in 1999, his first year of eligibility. They were to that date the only players to earn that many votes, percentage-wise. George Bell (1.2%) was responsible for Ryan not being unanimous. 

Ryan went in with two other players that retired in 1993: George Brett and Robin Yount. Orlando Cepeda also went in this year. Carlton Fisk retired in 1993, too, but would (spoiler alert) have to wait a year for induction. Fisk wasn't issued a 1994 Topps card, unlike most of the players featured in this blog post. 

So here is Nolan Ryan's final Topps card. The pitching-action shot frankly isn't that flattering. He looks old, bow-legged.

Now the card back. Holy smokes. The text behind his tipping the cap photograph is perfect. The card back showing his stats for his 27 year career is mind boggling.

Is Ryan the best power pitcher of all time?

George Brett earned 98.2% of the vote which by 1999 standards, like Nolan Ryan, was practically unanimous because there were a few jerks in the voting pool. When I was growing up Brett was The Man. Most famous for the pine tar incident, he had a solid reputation what with an MVP, a 13-time All-Star, a World Series in 1985, Silver Sluggers, Gold Glove, etc. But the thing I remember him for most are those batting titles. That .390 in 1980 was slightly before I was fully ensconced of baseball  but it was a number we knew by heart once fandom took hold. He was admirably with the Royals his whole career.

Robin Yount was another player who was a single-team player. For 20 years he was a Brewers and was beloved by his fan base and like many others involved in the game of baseball.  He was MVP of the AL twice, was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner three times, and won a Gold Glove. It's a shame he only played in one World Series, and lost.

In 1999 Orlando Cepeda was elected by the Veterans Committee in 1999. An MVP and Rookie of the Year winner, he was part of the 1967 World Series winning Cardinals and was an 11-time All-Star. Like many veterans he played for a number of teams in his final years (four teams in last three years). This is is final Topps card, from the very attractive 1974 set. It looks like he missed a lot of time in 1964 and 1965 which definitely drove down his otherwise decent stats. Cepeda played 33 games in 1974 for the Kansas City Royals but was not issued a 1975 Topps card.

Cepeda's first Hall of Fame ballot was in 1980 and he garnered only 12.5% of the vote. In his fifteen and final year of eligibility, 1994, he was up to 73.5%. So close.

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