Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cards of 2020

In 2020, I acquired a lot of baseball cards for my PCs of Darryl Strawberry, John Kruk, and my side piece, the last Topps card of all MLB Hall of Famers. Most of these came from Sportlots and eBay, but some also from friends. Thanks to all! I got, respectively: 

Strawberry: 105 new cards;

Kruk: 106 new cards; and

HOF: 85 new cards.

Total: 296 new cards

All in all I was accidentally consistent in what I got in terms of numbers. For my player PCs I hit biggest milestones: more than 900 unique Strawberrys (current count 949) and more than 300 unique Kruks (current count 310). And I think what I spent was still a couple of hundred less than what I'd've spent on gas if I hadn't worked from home for about five months. 

Anyway, so this blog post will highlight my favorite acquisitions from this year.  My hope was to only show off cards that I've featured on the blog but after working on this post, I realized I had to select a number of cards not yet featured. But, maybe that's all good?

First up, Darryl Strawberry:

Favorite 2020 issue is his 2020 Stadium Club card. Forget about the card back; I'm not sure why I'm showing it. It's about the card front: It's dramatic. It's intense. 

Hot damn! This might be his best Stadium Club card ever. Not a fan of lower case (what was it... sponsored by the Estate of e.e. cummings?), but what can you do. 

My favorite non-2020 issued Strawberry that I acquired has to be these two Tidewater Tides cards from 1983 and 1984. White whales that I got for pretty reasonable prices.

Moving on to Kruk. He had three Leaf cards issued this year but they are SN1's and, well, I like Kruk but I'm not buying into that mania. It's harder to pick a favorite card that I got. Two very high up on the list are these minor league issues that were my Krukkian White Whales: 

But that feels too similar to the Strawberrys above, so for my absolute favorite 2020 Kruk acquisition, I've decided to go with this 2006 SP Legendary Cuts bat relic from P-Town Tom. It was my first Kruk relic card and remains as such. 

His hair cascading out the back of the helmet kind of makes me think of Bryce Harper's look this last season. Thanks again, Tom!

Second place is 1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier. I love the in action running shot on the front with the third base coach in there. Is he holding him up? Is Kruk blowing through the sign? I like that you can see his whole body, both arms, and both feet and there is a symmetry to his position with that of the third base coaches' left arm. 

In the spring I got a lot of .18 cents  HOF cards. I got a few other guys, too, that were a few dollars or maybe up to $10? And for Christmas, I got about 16 new cards, all vintage, which I'll be highlighting eventually. To summarize what I have... I have all MLB players' last Topps card that are in the HOF from the Class of 1978 to the Class of 2020.

But for my favorite I'm going with Ryne Sandberg's 1997 Topps card. He was my second favorite player growing up. Again, like the action fielding here on the front a lot. He hadn't won a Gold Glove since 1991, but I like think this play didn't end in an error and that the runner was out thanks to a lightning quick tag. I haven't yet shown off the card on this blog, which is I'm sure something y'all have been unknowingly itching for. 

But I feel like I need to pick a vintage guy, too. So that's what's up next. I was going to go with Mazeroski, but I'm not a fan of 1972 Topps. Don't @ me. Blasphemy, to some, I'm sure. So I'll go with a set I do like, 1974, and the late, great Al Kaline. 

Another card I've yet to show off! Hey, that's keeping things spicy. Kaline admirably played his entire 22-year career with the Tigers. He was an 18 time All-Star, was a part of the 1968 World Series winning team, was awarded 10 Gold Gloves, and won a batting title (in 1955, the year in which he finished second in the MVP voting to Yogi Berra in a close contest. Revisionist history people---aka Advanced Stats guys---would likely strip Berra of his title because of his pathetic 4.5 WAR and giving to Kaline for his 8.3 WAR; but just giving it to him based on the high number is the exact same thing as giving the MVP to a guy that his a lot of HRs and a bajillion RBIs. Even still, Mantle has a 9.5 WAR so Berra and Kaline can pound sand.).

What about you? What are your favorite card acquisitions this year?

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Monday, December 28, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1997 Fleer

A long time ago--ok, maybe like a year or two?--I got the 1997 Fleer Tiffany card for Darryl Strawberry. But it completely escaped me to get the base. Until 2020. Hindsight and all that. I love the 1997 Fleer set. I think it's stunningly gorgeous. 

The black armband on the sleeve was worn in the 1996 season to commemorate the passing of Mel Allen, the late broadcaster. 

This particular card is listed in TCDB as WS, which stands for World Series to those new to baseball. All New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves have this info printed on the front of the card. If a player was an All-Star or a League Leader they had addition stuff on the card front. An interesting way to do it. 

How do you feel about 1997 Fleer? It's pretty similar to 1996 which I also rather like. 

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

John Kruk: 1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond

This is the 1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond card for John Kruk. 

The picture-in-picture on the card front is, um, pointless. Right? Not totally keen on the vertical name, position and team name on the front, and similarly the vertical states are just a bad idea with the portrait-like photograph. And with nine different Upper Deck Kruk's to chase (not including SP, an Upper Deck brand), it joins the 10 Topps, 13 Stadium Clubs and 16 Ultras as being rather obnoxious and leads me to simply conclude that 1994 was kind of a hot mess, it seems. 

However, the pictures are fine and clear. Far nicer and better quality than what Topps put on its base cards that year.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve.  

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1997 Donruss Team Sets

Donruss put out a "Team" set in 1997 and this is Darryl Strawberry's card in that set. The "Teams" totaled to only 17, but there are many teams not represented. Like, pretty sure San Diego fielded a team that year! 

The design of the card isn't offensive at all. Though the text two-ways on the back is not the best, I love seeing Strawberry's full MLB stats on the back, which is different from the way Donruss had presented stats in the 1980s. 

The home run trot on the card back is particularly nice. 

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Friday, December 18, 2020

John Kruk: 1994 Stadium Club Team

1994 was nuts, man. There were like 63 trillion Stadium Club issues that year, including this one from the "Team" issues. There was the base, the Quick Start, Dugout Dirt, First Day Issue, First Day Issue Quick Star, Golden Rainbow, Dugout Dirt Golden Rainbow, Quick Start Golden Rainbow, Members Only, Members Only Quick Start, Dugout Dirt Members Only, Team and Team First Day Issue. Did you get all that?  Here's a fuller list of the "inserts and related" sets.  It certainly was a harbinger of the obnoxiousness of things to come. 

But Kruk is looking quite Krukkian on the card back. 

The card looks much nicer in person than in this scan and if you don't have a representative in your collection you'll have to take my word for it. Do you dare?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1996 Leaf Signature Series

This is Darryl Strawberry's 1996 Leaf Signature Series cards. There's an awful lot of design elements going on here as well as a relatively minimalist card back so far as stats and information is concerned. I adore the card back photograph: it's super. 

Leaf Signature Series is a 150 card set. They put out four main sets that year. The three others are base, Preferred, and Limited. Some guys are featured in more than one of the releases, but this is the only one that Strawberry is in. I feel like anything called "Signature" should have the players' autograph on it, but signature in this instance like means something like High Class. 

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Juan Kruk: 1994 Topps Spanish

This is a companion post to last Friday's showing off of the Darryl Strawberry Spanish card. I don't know much Spanish, so I presume that the English is fairly represented. I'm not completely crazy about the 1994 design; and as well the quality of the photograph isn't really that good. I didn't comment on this in the Strawberry post, but I'm not keen on his photo either. They appear darkish and not sharp. Almost dirty? No wonder there was a strike! I might have to look at more 1994 cards to see if it might have been systemic. But maybe you, the readers, have thoughts? 

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Friday, December 11, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1994 Topps Spanish

In 1994, Topps issued a Spanish language parallel set. This is pretty cool. Is it because Pacific did it in 1993? And why just the one year? Did the strike kill it?

1994 is a demotion of a set after what I think were brilliant 1992 and pretty sweet 1993 sets. Photos on the back were en vogue but it really scrunches up the stats. I'm trying to determine the visiting ball park here. He played just 32 games in 1993. Pretty sure its Shea Stadium and Strawberry appeared there in one game on April 27th. He went 0-3 with a walk and reached on an error. 

Strawberry's wearing a 52 arm patch. This is to commemorate the then recent passing of Tim Crews. But I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before. 

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

John Kruk: 1994 Stadium Club Golden Rainbow

So apparently this is John Kruk's 1994 Topps Stadium Club Golden Rainbow. I got this card early in the year and now no longer remember what the hell is golden or rainbow-y about it. He looks pretty svelte in the image on the front of the card. And you can discern a knee brace on his right leg.

I've heard a story, maybe from Kruk himself or maybe from Mitch Williams on WIP, about how he showed up one year having lost weight and was terribly and the coaches or managers told him to put the weight back on.  

Kruk was an OBP machine for the Phillies, twice exceeding .400. And the card back reveals he passed Phillies legend Richie Ashburn for the all-time team leader in that stat, setting a career high of .430 in 1993. 

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 2020 Topps 1985 35th All-Stars

35 years ago an All-Star game would not have been an All-Star game without Darryl Strawberry patrolling right field for the summer classic exhibition game for the National League. 

Topps issued this 35th Anniversary All-Star card as an insert to there 2020 set. I'm not a mathmetician, but 2020 minus 35 is... 1985. However, confusingly, Topps shows the 1988 Home Run Leaders on the card back. 

This is a make-up card as Strawberry wasn't issued a card in the subset in the 1985 checklist, despite being an All-Star that year. They gave it to Murphy, Gwynn, and ... Jeffrey Leonard. Leonard wasn't even on the flipping All-Star team. So I'm like WTF.

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Friday, December 4, 2020

John Kruk: 1994 Pacific Crown Silver Prisms Circular

Pacific Crown Collection issued this "Silver Prisms Circular" insert card for John Kruk in 1994. It joins the "Silver Prisms" insert and, the plain old boring base card (which is the nicest of the three!). The inserts are showing advances in technology at the time, I suppose? Wait wait there's more: there's a gold prisms, too. These inserts have some Spanish on the back, too. 

Not a lot above, so how about some baseball history? I was reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey this summer and stumbled across this passage early in the novel:

She uses the term "base ball". Northanger Abbey was written in 1803 but not published until December 1817, after Austen's death. A note in the back of the book indicates that this is the "first appearance of the term in English". 

Did you know this? Would you have guessed that the first time the term "base ball" appeared in English would have been by Jane Austen? I'm guessing not. 

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Darryl Strawberry: 1994 Stadium Club Members Only

Around 1993 or 1994 Baseball card companies, I think, started issuing parallels with foil stamps. This is one such example of a "Members Only" card for Topps' Stadium Club.  I missed the start of Stadium Club as I was out of the hobby at the time, so that means I also missed the parallel-mania. When I came back to collecting I found it confusing and, frankly, still do. But it's obviously a model that works because they seem to still be hot items that are "chased". 

Strawberry was listed on the card back as a "Met masher". Shouldn't it be "Mets"? Anyway, not the first and not the last player to annihilate his former team. Mike Napoli did that to the Angels. 

What I do kind of like about the card is the typewriter font for the first name (though the English major in me wishes it was Capital D Darryl). And the Kroy label last name. Who didn't love labeling things with that label maker back in the day? 

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