Monday, May 31, 2010

Dinner with a Hall of Famer Follow-Up

I put up a post Friday about having dinner with a Hall of Famer...sort of. It wasn't me serving dinner, which would still be cool. I really did think it was going to happen. I took the family. I had some cards ready to go. He didn't show up.

It wasn't really his fault I suppose. There was some confusion on my part on the date. That wasn't really my fault. They date I was given was wrong.

I'm not going to say yet who it was because there is a chance I might still get to meet the guy. I will say there's a chance the 20 and under crowd hasn't heard of him.

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day and taking a moment to reflect on the meaning of the day.

A humble Thank You on Memorial Day

"The 1,000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan had already fallen once to a hidden explosive, driving his Humvee over a bomb in Iraq in 2007. The blast punched the dashboard radio into his face and broke his leg in two places.

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht didn't survive his second encounter with a bomb this week. The death of the 24-year-old Texan born on the Fourth of July marks a grim milestone in the Afghanistan war.

Leicht, who spent two painful years recovering from the Iraq blast, was killed Thursday when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm. He had written letters from his hospital bed begging to be put back on the front lines, and died less than a month into that desperately sought second tour.

An Associated Press tally shows Leicht is the 1,000th U.S. serviceman killed in the Afghan conflict. The first death — nearly nine years ago — was also a soldier from the San Antonio area." By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press Writer

In the 230+ year history of our country, over 1 million military servicemen and women have given their lives to further the cause of freedom and democracy. Marine Corporal Jacob C. Leicht was the 1000th soldier to die in a far off place called Afghanistan. A place most of us will never visit and many couldn't find on a map. Over 4,400 have died in Iraq. All current members of the military know the situation they face and everyone who has ever served in the military, said the oath knowing the danger they may find themselves facing.

I want to say thank you to all those who have ever served and are alive to spend this day with their loved ones. I also want to send out a prayer for everyone who made the ultimate sacrifice and one for their families as well.

Regardless of your political leanings, whether you think we should have our troops in harm's way around the world, they are there and need to know we haven't forgotten them. There is an old saying that if you can read this, you should thank a teacher (and you should). I say, if you have access to the internet in the luxury of your own home or on your phone or at work, and have the freedom to be expressing your own opinions, no matter the subject, thank a veteran.

So, even though those who have died can't read this, I'm thinking of you today. Especially you Brian R., my former shipmate who died in 1992.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Play at the Plate 19: Willie Randolph vs. Carlton Fisk

1977 Topps Carlton Fisk

July 24, 1976 Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

It's the bottom of the second inning and the Sox and Yanks are tied 0-0. Rick Jones is on the hill and Thurman Munson leads off with a double. Chris Chambliss follows up with a walk. Craig..I mean Graig Nettles flies out to left. Jones gets Juan Bernhardt to strike out. Willie Randolph reaches on an E5 to load the bases. Fred Stanley singles, scoring Munson and Chambliss and leaving Randolph at third. Mickey Rivers lays down a bunt and this is what happens next:

Randolph is SAFE! The Yanks finish the inning with 3 runs and go on to win 4-1.

NOTE: The above scenario was the only one I could find from a 1976 game that fit the picture. However, as the Night Owl pointed out recently, sometimes the photo used could be years older than the card.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Things you didn't know: Tony Gwynn is white!

I'm not joking about that. I've been writing about the greatness of Fleer Ultra lately. The 1999 version came with these Diamond Mine inserts. I should have scanned the back of one because they are funny. They were written as if Mr. Ultra was speaking to the player on the card.

Here we have regular Mark McGwire. You'll be so kind as to notice the shiny, silvery foil background.

Here we have a post-Dodger Mike Piazza with the same shiny background.

Let me introduce you to white Tony Gwynn. Over 10 years ago, this card came out of the pack without the foil background. You can see a couple of spotches just to the left of the Fleer Ultra logo. I don't know the story behind this other than to assume it was a printing error.

Have you ever seen/heard of this before with these cards?

Cards from the Old Man Part 20: Warren Spahn

This is the twentieth in a series of posts about cards I received from the old collector in our town who had library card catalogs full of cards from the 1950's-1970's. You can see those original posts here and here if you missed them.

I don't have any pre-1953 cards in my collection. Yet. If I did, one of those might be my favorite card. As it stands right now, this gem from 1962 is one of my favorite cards that doesn't fit into any of my specific collections.

Like many of the older cards I got from the old man, I didn't know who this was at first. I remember taking this card home and holding it up to the wood paneling in my bedroom. It almost matched. When I got a bit older and read a little about Warren Spahn, I was amazed at the numbers he put up.

Spahn played for 21 years, 19 of them for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. He pitched in 750 games, compiling a record of 363-245 with a 3.09 ERA. His other career numbers are just as gaudy.

We'll start with the 5,243.2 innings pitched and the 2,583 strikeouts. Oh, how about the 382 complete gamess, 63 shutouts and let's tack on 29 saves for good measure. He won 20+ games 13 times. He threw 20+ complete games 12 times! He won 16+ games 17 times. In a row. A ROW people. Mind boggling.

To put those numbers in perspective, you have to look at them from the All-Time standpoint. He had the 2nd most complete games by a southpaw. He ranks 5th on the All-Time win list and holds the top spot in wins for lefties.

The back of the card mentions the second of Spahn's 2 no-hitters. He was a 7 time All-Star. He pitched in 3 World Series for the Braves, winning one title with the 1957 squad. He was the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year 4 times and unbelievably, only managed one Cy Young Award (1957).

Spahn was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973 by the BBWAA. He died November 24, 2003.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dinner with a Hall of Famer

I'm supposed to have dinner tonight with a Hall of Famer. Sort of.

If I can score some autos I may use one as a prize for next months contest.

Have a great weekend.

Looking for an epic 400th post?

Well, you came to the wrong place.

This IS my 400th post, which is a remarkable and nearly unbelievable thing. I didn't post anything yesterday because I didn't want to mark the milestone with my normal post. Each of the previous times I've reached a century mark, I was sure it would be the last, but this hobby offers so many cards/topics worthy of an in depth look. You've got the new stuff, if you can find it. Still no Chicle or Topps Series 2 in my house. You've got amazing vintage cards that are little cardboard links to the past. You can write about teams, players, companies, sets, inserts, relics, autos...the list goes on and on.

I've made many new aquaintances, bunches of trade partners and some real friends through this blog. I've rediscovered a childhood hobby that started out as fun, became an addiction and ended up a fun way to pass on something to my boys.

I've learned more about cards and players in the last 8 months than I did in the previous 30 years. I've added more cards to my collection than I have since the great buying spree at the turn of the millenium. I've quadrupled the number of vintage cards in my collection. At least.

This weekend you'll see one of my favorite cards. At least from my collection. The week after next, I'll be on vacation and I'm going to try to schedule a few of my favorite pulls--cards that were the hottest cards of their time.

I'll leave you today with many thanks for reading, commenting and trading. I get much more from your blogs than you get from mine! I'll also leave you with one of my best and most favorite cards.

1966 Topps Sandy Koufax

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cyber Stats...or You've Got to Know When to Hold 'Em

I'm not talking about Cyber Space.

I'm talking about 1995 Topps and the treatment of the 1994 Baseball Strike.
I received these two cards in a package recently. I believe they came from BA Benny along with my winnings from a contest.

That is the base 1995 Topps Kenny Rogers. You may recall, Kenny pitched a perfect game in 1994 at the new Ballpark in Arlington. I was supposed to be at that game, but opted to go to Arkansas with my parents on a little vacation. Really, I chose Arkansas over a perfect game. Go ahead and hate...I deserve it.

Here is the Cyber Stats version of the 1995 Topps Kenny Rogers. I don't know if you can see it, but they cut off the end of Kenny's nose just a bit.
The backs of these cards is where it gets interesting.

The back of the base card mentions Kenny's perfect game on July 28, 1994.

The back of the Cyber Stats card includes "computer simulated data for games of August 12, 1994 througth the scheduled conclusion of the 1994 season." I wonder what computer they used to get these simulated stats. For those too young to remember, the baseball strike started on August 12, 1994 so Topps took the liberty to "simulate" the remainder of the season and give us the results on the Cyber Stats parallel cards.

If you can read the back of the base card, Kenny pitched in 24 games, going 11-8. That means he had 5 no decisions. According to Topps simulated stats, Kenny would get 10 more starts, going 7-3 to give him an 18-11 record for 1994. I think that's pretty optimistic of Topps.

I don't have any other Cyber Stats cards from 1995 so I wonder how Topps' simulated stats look for other pitchers and some of the big hitters of the day.

I'm glad this guy is on my (favorite) team

The Rangers are 26-20 and have a three game lead over Oakland in the A.L. West. I'm a long suffering Rangers fan so I've been here before. I'll enjoy it while it lasts and if, by some miracle, it lasts until the end of the season...well, I'll just enjoy it it while I can. Of course I'm hopeful that the playoffs are in the picture this season. If the Rangers make the playoffs this year, they'll owe it partly to this guy.

No, that's not a custom. It's from the 2010 Topps Rangers Team Set.

Vlad has been amazing this season.

Last night, the Rangers beat the Royals 8-7. Vlad was 3-5 with a double, 2 homers, 2 runs scored and 5 RBIs. The 5 RBIs gave him the Major League lead in that category (according to

His numbers for this year are just amazing. He is batting .347 (2nd in the A.L), with 29 runs scored, 8 doubles, 12 homers (4th in the A.L.), 42 RBIs and even has 4 steals. He has 8 walks and only 18 strikeouts. I don't know how long he can keep this up, but I'm going to enjoy every minute of it. He was often referred to as a Ranger killer in his time with the Angels, so it's nice to have him on our side this season.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Little League Season Is Over

My son finished his first season of Little League baseball over the weekend. I wish I could say his first experience was great, but he spent a great deal of the season frustrated and disappointed. (Wait until he's been a Rangers fan for a few years.)

His team ended up 1-11-1. Coming off an undefeated basketball season, it was really rough on him. Stats wise, he ended up rather Mendoza like. He went 3-15 for a .200 average. He had 12 strikeouts and 7 walks so maybe he'll be a power hitter. He had 5 RBIs and scored 2 runs. He stole 4 bases (Little League steals) and was caught stealing once. In the field, he made one great play at first and one great play in center. Three balls got by him in the outfield and he backed up a number of plays well.

Overall, I thought he did OK considering it was his first year. He really started getting nervous as the season went on and didn't want to swing the bat. EVER. Most of his walks and all of his strikeouts except one took place without him swinging the bat even once. That's the one thing I need to work on with him most before the Fall season comes around.

Mom does not want me to post his picture online so I'll leave you with one of his favorite player.

I know I just showed this Michael Young yesterday, but I really, really like. And so does my son!

A letter from Nolan Ryan

The Texas Rangers are filing for bankruptcy. Nolan Ryan issued a "letter" to fans. I know I should care about the finances of the team. It WILL affect any chance at making a trade later in the year if the Rangers are still in the position they currently hold.

I just want the current ownership OUT and the new owners to take over. I hope it works out so this guy:

is part of the new ownership group and keeps his current job.

It wouldn't hurt my feelings if the Rangers current ownership got out of the hockey business either.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What is wrong with this card?

First the card.

Do you notice anything that isn't right about this card?

First off, it's Albert Pujols, 1st Baseman for the Cardinals. Second, it says he's an outfielder, but he's apparently playing 3rd Base.

This is a 2003 Fleer Ultra Albert Pujols. A quick check of the wonderful shows Albert played a variety of positions in 2002. He had 21 games at first, 41 games at third, 118 games in the outfield, primarily left, and 1 game at shortstop. Can you imagine Albert Pujols at short? That seems crazy.

Albert didn't become the Cardinals primary first baseman until 2004.

I would like some Cardinals fan to tell me why Albert played one game at second base in 2008? What happened...did LaRussa lose a bet?

By the way, here is the back of the 2003 Fleer Ultra cards.

These cards had great colors on the front and the back. The only negative to this design is on the front. The space below the red and yellow colored border is wasted. They should have dropped that border down to the bottom of the card, leaving a little more room for the great photos they used.

Here is another example of a great Fleer Ultra card from 2003.

I'm not an A's fan or a Miguel Tejada fan, but that is a great picture. That's what I like about Ultra and what a certain company should think about as they put out more products...great photos and great designs make a product hold up long after people tire of the gimmicks.

Group Break Bonus From Carl Crawford Cards

A little over a week ago, I received a package from Carl Crawford Cards. It contained my Rangers from CCC and Sewing Machine Guys May Break of Icons. The break only yielded a short stack of Rangers base cards, but CCC included a bonus card that made it all worth while.

This is the back of the 2009 Topps Finest Michael Young BLUE Refractor #260/399.

I showed the back first because the front is so perfect I had to save the best for last.

Some people think blue refractors are great for Dodgers...and they are, but this is pretty nice too with Michael in his Ranger blue uni. This card looks amazing in person and is really appreciated. Thanks so much CCC!

Seen this mentioned Enough Already...a contest

Enough Already is having a doozy of a contest. Check it out here. Good luck...but not too much! I want to win.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Play at the Plate 18: Brad Ausmus vs. Omar Vizquel

2001 Topps Stadium Club Brad Ausmus

June 18, 2000 Cleveland Indians vs Detroit Tigers

It's the top of the 8th inning, with the Indians leading 6-4. There are 2 outs in th innings and Omar Vizquel draws a walk off Tiger pitcher Allen McDill. Roberto Alomar follows that up with a double that sends Vizquel around third and this is what happened:

Vizquel is SAFE!! He slides in just under the tag and the Indians go on to win the game 9-4.

Did someone order a couple Piazzas

I couldn't wait until next week to post these two cards. I started appreciating Fleer Ultra yesterday and wanted to continue today with a couple more 2002 Ultra cards I found.

See if you can see what these two cards have in common.

I wouldn't normally feature a Yankees card AND a Giants card, but these two have a common feature that I liked. I choose to believe Tino's ball is headed foul.

I'm sure you guessed the common theme is a cameo by Mike Piazza. One against an American League team and one against a National League team. Unfortunately Mike is in a Mets uni, but I'm going to call this "post-Dodger" Mike.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cards from the Old Man Part 19: Don Drysdale

This is the nineteenth in a series of posts about cards I received from the old collector in our town who had library catalogs full of cards from the 1950's-1970's. You can see those original posts here and here if you missed them.

Only 3 of these left.

This was another guy I had not heard of and it may amaze the Night Owl and GCRL, but I didn't know anything about him for years after I got the card., which I use to get my stats for these posts, had this great quote.

"The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid, and if the hitter IS timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid." - Don Drysdale

Don Drysdale played 14 years for the Dodgers. Big D--Drysdale, not the custom card maker from Hey, That's Mine, appeared in 516 games, compiling a 209-166 record, a 2.95 ERA and 2,486 strikeouts. He threw 167 complete games and 49 shutouts. He was a two time 20 game winner and posted 17+ wins six times.

Drysdale made 7 All-Star teams and 5 trips to the World Series. He was 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA in World Series Play. This included his complete game shutout of the Yankees in the 1963 Series. The Dodgers won 3 of the 5 World Series during Drysdales era.

Drysdale's best year was 1962 when he went 25-9 with a 2.83 ERA, 19 complete games and 2 shutouts. He just happened to win the Cy Young that year as well.
He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 1984.

Appreciating Fleer Ultra

I found a healthy stack of Fleer Ultra cards the other day when I was looking for some trade package filler. It's easy to forget how great some of the photography was in Fleer Ultra. I'm a sucker for crisp, clean photographs on cards and Fleer Ultra delivered.

Catchin' on...

I had to start with a player favorite....2002 Fleer Ultra Rusty Greer. That's trademark Rusty right there. He's going into a slide or dive after a ball. The design is simple and unobtrusive. The names can be a little difficult to read on some of these.

What a great shot of Gary Sheffield. The intense concentration is so clear and the ball is right there.

Maggs doesn't have the greatest facial expression, but like Sheffield, you get a real feel for how intense he is.

I'll end this first post with one of the more humorous cards I found.

"When I started playing my head was small and now, after years of being "Balconized", my head is this big."

Here is the back of the 2002 card. It's quite busy and has a variety of colors, but it works. It gives a fair amount of stats and a little highlight of something that happened that season.

I'll be back with more of these 2002s and some 2003s next week.

***NOTE: The spots on the cards ARE on the cards. That's a lesson to you youngsters...don't store your cards out in the garage. They can and will stick together eventually. ***

Friday, May 21, 2010

How do you store your card scans?

I seem to recall one of the bigger blog guys reported he lost something like several thousand scans when his computer crashed.

That got me thinking. How do you bloggers/collectors store your card scans? Just on your PC/Mac? Do you have a backup?

I have an external hard drive (1TB) and two flash drives. I use the external hard drive for storing family photos and videos mostly, but also for backing up my PC. I use the flash drives for the times when I can post from the J. O. B.

Now that you've all answered (or at least thought about) that question, I have another.

How do you title your card scans when you save them?

Do you use brand/year/player name? Maybe it's player name/brand/year. Are all your scans in one big file or broken down into brands, years, sets, players or some other system?

I'm curious because I'm to the point where I have enough pictures scanned that I need to organize them better. I was saving scans in files with the names of the people who traded them to me. That makes it a little difficult to find one when you want to post it for some reason other than the original trade post.

Here is the obligatory pic because we all like pictures in our posts!
Thanks for any input!

Grand Prize Goodies from BA Benny

BA Benny recently held a contest. The idea was to create words using the letters on some Letterman type cards. Fortunately for me, the winners were randomized, so I stood a chance of winning top prize which included a choice of three of the letter cards. AND I did win. The First place package included a few random Rangers plus my choices.

Here are just a few of the cards:

I had to show this one because of the HUGE glasses.

I rarely buy Finest because of the cost and I like these even though they are not may favorite players.

These are the three Letter cards I chose from the prize pool.

2009 UD Icons James Shields Letterman #25/35.

2008 Razor Letterman Bobbie Ross-auto'd

2009 SP Authentic By the Letters Rookie Signatures Chris Stewart #65/75.

And my favorite card of the bunch was this one...

I'll be the first to admit bat cards have lost their appeal for the most part. However, this 2004 Upper Deck Etchings Hank Blalock is great. The bat sliver has been etched with the Rangers logo and looks really sharp.

BA Benny, thanks for the contest and the great extras as well!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How did Will Clark end up in the Great White North?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know things have been set right with the world because Brian from Waxaholic sent me a package in the mail. An unexpected package! Who doesn't love an unexpected package?

He fooled me by putting a 2010 Heritage Jarrod Saltalamacchia on top of the stack. He followed that up with 14 Will "The Thrill" cards.

This 2000 Pacific Aurora Will Clark goes first. It was the most recent card in the pack, but it still pains me to see him in an Orioles uni. He even has a pained expression on his face as if he knows I didn't want him to leave the Rangers.

Go back 8 years to 1992 Topps for this Will Clark "pre-Rangers" card. That's right, I didn't say Giants, I said "pre-Rangers".

Here is Will showing off his speed (ahem...) on a 1996 Bowman card.

I'm guessing this wasn't a homer judging from Will's reaction on this 1996 Select Certified card.

Brian, you can never go wrong sending me Will Clark cards so THANKS!

Oh, did I forget the UNOPENED wax from the Waxaholic. I would imagine it is normally a tough thing to get an addict to share with you. So for a Waxaholic to share unopened wax...well, that's something.

The ultra rare 1990 Fleer pack.

How about the even more rare 1990 Fleer Basketball pack! I think he sent this one because you can actually see the Mavericks Adrian Dantley through the front of the pack.

These were great packs to get and open because it took me back to a time when I bought a ton of product. When I say ton, I mean a literal ton of product. I was stationed on a boat in the Navy Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington in 1990 and there was a baseball card shop 5 minutes from the front gate. We would walk there and buy box after box after box.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Brian!

Ballpark Giveaways

At the Rangers game last week, my kids played some of the games they have in the centerfield area. One of the games was like Plinko on the Price is Right. The first time through, the "prize" was a Rangers poster celebrating Latin players. My youngest son won a poster so my oldest wanted to try. Unfortunately, they were out of posters. The new prize was a couple of Rangers baseball cards.

These are "Limited Edition" DAV (Disabled American Veterans) cards. On the back it tells the purpose of the DAV organization and gives a website and contact number. I thought they were pretty neat little oddball cards of my kids two favorite players.

My youngest son played again so he could get the cards. I also saw an Ian Kinsler in the bucket, but they both got these same two cards.

I'm curious now about other oddball Rangers cards that may have been given away through the years. I remember getting Mother's Cookies Mariners team sets at the Kingdome when I lived near Seattle back in '89-91. I've never seen any Mother's Cookies Ranger sets.

Have you gotten any oddball cards from your team at the ballpark?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The best "blaster" ever!

I'm sure most, if not all, of you have bought a retail blaster at some point. They normally cost $20, give a take a few cents, plus tax. This "blaster" came with 44 cards. It had one card I'll call an insert. I'm not going to be too wordy about the cards, I'm just going to show them.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this "blaster" I'm talking about isn't really a blaster. It was $20 though. A while back Jim from Garvey Cey Russell Lopes (GCRL) posted that he was at a card show looking at the bargain vintage cards. He asked if anyone wanted anything and I said I would reimburse him for $20 worth of vintage Washington Senators.

Let's just say Jim went above and beyond! I'll take $20 of this over a regular blaster any day.

That 1969 Deckle Edge Frank Howard is my first from that small set.

As if this wasn't enough, Jim included 84 different Rangers cards.

Jim, your money and a few Dodgers went out in the mail today!

Thanks again.
**The scanner was acting up. None of these cards is mis-cut.**