Monday, August 31, 2020

HOF Jim Rice

Check out Jim Rice's final Topps card, 1990. What a classy smile in this clearly-taken-in-spring-training photograph. His final game was August 3, 1989. (A night game at Fenwak Park. A 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Rice played DH and went 0-3) 

Rice played in 16 major league seasons---all with the Red Sox---and it took him all 15 years of eligible ballots to get voted into the Hall of Fame in the class of 2009. And he just squeaked in at 76.4% of the vote. Rice won the MVP in 1978, played and lost in a few World Series, received MVP votes in eight total years, and was voted into 8 All-Star games. 

He lead the leagues in some stats a few times, per the back of his Topps card. He's perfectly deservedly enshrined in the Red Sox Hall of Fame and justifiably had his number retired by the team. He's a solid member of the Hall of Very Good. 

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Friday, August 28, 2020

John Kruk 1990 Donruss Best NL

Donruss in 1990 was all about solid colors. The base set is red. Practically ketchup red. And when I got back into collecting baseball cards I was astounded to see blue cards. I thought they might be most of those crappy customs some make? But, no, they did issue a blue card in a set called Donruss Best. They have AL and NL versions (as well as The Rookies). And this is, obviously, the NL version. They came issued as boxed sets.

The blue is so much softer than the red; and I think easier on the eyes. I think the AL, NL, and Rookies should have all had different colors, but that's just me and it's probably impractical. Though the Rookies were green (and a heinous green at that). 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

My 900th Darryl Strawberry card

I have been showing off a lot of single Darryl Strawberry cards that I've bought or received since March. But I hit a milestone the other day and it warrants, I think, skipping forward--if you will--to celebrate what is the 900th unique Darryl Strawberry card in my collection. It's kind of fun that I'm hitting this milestone at that same time as Tom hit 1,000 Ryne Sandbergs, AJ hit 1,000 Tino Martinezs, and Brian hit 3,000 Andrew McCutchens.

Topps is milking us in new ways now by doing Topps Now Turn Back the Clock. I was dismayed by the sale price on their website, but a Twitter friend let me know that they are often on sale on eBay for about half price. Still somewhat exorbitant for a print on demand card, but something I could swallow.

The card was released on 7/20/2020 and commemorates Strawberry's performance on 7/20/1985. The printed card looks like this:

I get they wanted a unifying design for these cards that hearkens back to their most famous set ever (1987) as well as something that matches contemporary layouts. However, it would have been better to have the card design be for the year commemorated.

The back of the card is pathetic. Not only is there a heinous editing error ("16 runs on the its division rivals") but there is a factual error, too: the Braves and Mets were not in the same division in 1985.

Interestingly enough, the card was edited from when it was released on Topps' website and not necessarily for the better as it corrected one typo and added the one mentioned above. Below you can see the Mets logo is different on the front Here you can see that it reads, on the bottom line,"the Mets coast toa 16-4 win". Should be "to a". And the original web version doesn't have the Topps watermark on the card back.

Thanks to OAC Cards for the ebay auction and for getting me the card so swiftly.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

HOF Rich Gossage

Rich Gossage is the kind of player I sometimes really like because he's old school and probably thinks most players today are wusses. Then again, sometimes I think (if memory serves) he probably goes too far. I suspect he's a "Get off my lawn" kind of guy and that's what I aspire to be. 

"Goose" was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2008 on his 9th year on the ballot with 85.8% of the vote. That year it seems to have been slim pickings; Jim Rice finished 2nd with 72.2%. Just missing. #SpoilerAlert Rice eventually got in the following year, most likely due to peer pressure.

Gossage had a 22 year career and played for 9 teams. I largely remember him as a Yankees and he had one year each with the Giants, Pirates, Rangers, Cubs, and Mariners. He was a nine time all-star, representing the White Sox, Yankees, and Padres. And he was on the 1978 World Series winning team, and he had a badge for "Rolaids Relief". I'm glad of that. 

In 1975, he lead the league with 26 save for the White Sox. So, what did they do? In 1976 they made him a starter and he started 29 games (had 15 complete games) and earned only 1 save. For the rest of his MLB career he didn't start another game. 

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Friday, August 21, 2020

P-Town Tom Kruks me again

P-Town Tom Krukked me again.

And I liked it. One needs a Krukking every once in a while. And this is the third time in about a month or so that Tom's sent me Kruk cards.

This one came with a note that admitted this card was in his collection because he found it, liked it, and bought it. But he said he thought it would look better in my collection. I can only half believe this is true because while it's a stunning card and fits nicely in with my other 279 John Kruk baseball cards, I feel kind of badly that he parted with it. Even though it was totally his decision and a complete surprise to me.

It's the 2006 SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Materials Memorabilia card. This one is SN 186 of 225 and features a game used Kruk bat. Start drooling:

I mean holy cow, Tom! Thank you so much. I've gotten a couple (a few?) autographed Kruk cards but this is my first Kruk relic card. And it's bat. He was a .300 lifetime hitter. That's special. Thank you, Tom!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Darryl Strawberry 1992 Topps Micro

So small. So cute. Scans so badly. This is the 1992 Topps Micro card of Darryl Strawberry, which I showed in full gold last week. So if you want to see the card, go back in time to that one. Or to the Gold Winners. Or to the base...  (don't really, those posts are just as boring as this one)

I think I have, now, all iterations of this card. Maybe. 

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Monday, August 17, 2020

HOF Bert Blyleven

Bertolomew Blyleven was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2011 in his 14th year of eligibility with 79.7%. That's squeaking in to it in my books. He was one year shy of being removed.

He won 287 games which is great (27th all time!). He lost 250 (10th most all time!!). He amassed 4970 innings pitched in his 22 year career with five teams (Twins (two stints), Indians, Pirates, Angels, and Rangers). That's incredible. He missed the 1991 season but came back for a swansong in 1992 with the Angels and earned himself a 1993 Topps base card. The card front is close to sublime for me; but the card back is a mess.

In his career he was a two-time World Series winner (1979 and 1987) and two time All-Star (1973 and 1985). He earned Cy Young votes four times, finishing third in back-to-back years (1984 and 1985). He's a classic Hall of Pretty Good player.

Fun Fact: Bertolo was born in The Netherlands (AKA Holland). Which name of that country do you usually use? His birth name was Rik Aalbert Blijleven.  Not Bertolomew. Not Bertolo.

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Friday, August 14, 2020

John Kruk: 1989 Topps Stickers

Topps Stickers for 1989 showed John Kruk in his brown Padres warm-up jacket and nachos helmet. He was featured with Mike Henneman of the Tigers, whose cleft chin predicts Justin Verlander's. 

Had to do a double-take there on Kruk to determine the type of ball his left hand is holding. 

Henneman played for 10 years with the Tigers, mostly, and also the two teams in Texas. Primarily a closer, his best year with 31 saves came in 1996 when he was on the first-place in the AL West Texas Rangers. Though, his ERA was nearly 6.00 and he finished the season with 0 wins and 7 losses... so maybe not his best year. He's second all time in Tigers saves with 154. 

On the sticker back is Twins Super Star Gary Gaetti. Gaetti swatted 360 home runs in his 20 year career which is a righteous total. He hit 201 dingers for the Twins and puts him 8th all time in their franchise. 

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1992 Topps Gold

1992 Topps is an all time classic set. The cards with the stadium on the back are, I think, better than the cards without the image. That being said, I do like the cards for long-in-the-tooth players like George Brett, Nolan Ryan, and Ricardo Henderson, to name a few. 

This is the 1992 Topps Gold card. I believe it's the first year this was a thing and it lasted for a few years. It replaced, in some ways, the Glossy All-Stars, which went away after the 1991 issue. I frankly prefer the Glossy All-Stars because of the relative selectivity of it. Whereas the Gold cards is a parallel set which means, of course, there are a lot of them... There was also something called a Gold Winner in this set, which is something else. 

Pretty sure I've said this about the base, the Micro, or whatever else, but I like the photograph on card this card even though he's not in a Mets uniform. Darryl Strawberry, rounding third in his road grays, back in Shea Stadium... 

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Monday, August 10, 2020

HOF Gary Carter

This is a great card for Expos catcher Gary Carter. He ended his career with the team he started, the Expos, after forays with the New York Mets and two California-based teams. 

Carter was voted into the Hall of Fame on his sixth ballot of eligibility in 2003. He earned 78% of the vote, so, in the scheme of things just enough to squeeze in. He was close, but no cigar, the previous year, gaining 72.7%.

I remember him a bit as a player as he was on the Mets at a time that I was really following the Mets. I never liked his hair.

Carter played in 95 games in 1992 and was given a 1993 card that does show his complete stats. I still do not understand Topps' criteria for this. There are plenty of better players that weren't given a final Topps card reflecting the final year, or partial year, of his career. 

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Friday, August 7, 2020

John Kruk: 1989 Red Foley

Yo! It was not intentional to post two Red Foley stickers this week, but the world works in mysterious ways. This is John Kruk's 1989 Red Foley sticker, issued in the year that he changed coasts going from West to East. 

For some reason this photograph makes me chuckle!  

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1992 Red Foley

You can always spot a Red Foley sticker. They are pretty small and they have blank backs. These were stickers meant to be put into books. No frills. 

This particular photograph I really like as it's more or less a close-up of the third base side dugout view. Normally you get pitcher, shortstop, or third basemen's view.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

HOF Carlton Fisk

This is the first post I'm writing with the new Blogger interface. I'm not sure I like it, but I suspect it's because I was so used to it being the other way. For, like, longer than a decade. How are you other Blogger users liking it?

This post isn't, though, about Blogger. It's about Carlton Fisk. I recently read The Wax Pack by Brad Balukjian (no relation to Tim Kurkjian). Fisk is, apparently, a dick. But he was a good enough baseball player, it seems. Good enough, in fact, to have been elected in to the Hall of Fame in the class of 2000. He got a relatively squeaky 79.6% of the vote in his second year of eligibility. I'm collecting the last Topps cards of MLB players who are in the Hall of Fame. But sometimes I wish I was doing it for just first year guys. Why? Because I sometimes feel that getting in in your 2nd to 10th or 15th year of eligibility is invalidating. Like, you weren't good enough to have been voted in by your peers in your first year of what changed? This is especially relevant for guys getting elected in the 10th or formerly 15th year. 

Being a schmenzer notwithstanding, Fisk played a long time for a catcher: 24 years. That's awesome. I wonder how many other player have played their entire year for both teams that represent the garments that go on our feet? 

This is Fiske's 1993 Topps card. While he did play some in 1993, Topps didn't issue him a 1994 Topps card. Which is fine, as I think the design of '93 is way better than '94. The back is nauseatingly busy; it can't make up it's mind what direction it wants to go. But the front of the design I feel is a classic, clean, beautiful one. One gleans from the image his position; but I prefer the position to be on both the front and the back of the card. What about you?

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