Sunday, February 28, 2010

Play at the Plate 6: Javier Lopez vs. Dante Powell

1998 Upper Deck Javier Lopez

April 23, 1997 Atlanta Braves @ San Francisco Giants 12:36 PM Start Time
We come to the bottom of the 9th inning. Tom Glavine has just pitched 8 strong innings, but the game is tied 3-3. Alan Embree comes on in relief and gives up a walk to the first batter, Marcus Jensen. Dante Powell pinch runs for Jensen. JT Snow lays down a successful sacrifice bunt to first and Powell stops at 2nd base. Bill Mueller pinch hits for the pitcher and slaps a single to right field. Andruw Jones comes up firing and this is what happens:

Powell just beats the throw and the Giants win 4-3!

This card shows one of just 19 runs Powell would score in his 4 year career. I hope he has a copy to remind him of his glory days.

Give a Hoot...or a Rangers card or two

I recently received an unexpected package from the one and only Night Owl. Usually when I get something from him it is a wonderful little mix of things. This was no exception and I stopped counting when I reached 10 as the number of different sets/years/manufacturers that he included. Here is just a small sample of the Rangers he sent over.

Here are a couple of 2009 Goodwin and Champions minis. I don't know why, but I love the minis. A&G, Goodwin, 206...I really do. I DO realize Joe Mauer isn't a Ranger, but he is #1 on my list of current non-Rangers to collect.

It is still refreshing to get a card I've never seen from a product I never bought. I like the vintage look of this 2006 Heritage Then and Now Ted Williams/Michael Young card. I like the back too.

On the left, we have the AL Batting Leaders from 1957. The list includes 4 Hall of Famers. Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Nellie Fox and Al Kaline. On the right, we have the 2005 AL Batting Leaders. This list include 4 former or current Rangers. Michael Young (current), Alex Rodriguez (former), Vladimir Guerrero (current) and Travis Hafner (former).

This 1992 Stadium Club Ivan Rodriguez All-Star card didn't scan right for some reason. You'll be seeing this in a special post soon so I'll just leave it at that.
Now we're talking! It looks like the photographer called Jim Sundberg's name on this 1984 Donruss card. I like the '84 Donruss set and it's one of the few complete sets I have from my childhood.

I had no idea Denny McLain ever played for the Rangers. There is a good reason for that.
He didn't.
He did pitch for the Washington Senators in 1971, the season before they moved to Arlington to become the Texas Rangers. In 1972, he pitched for the A's and Braves. McLain was a like a super nova, he burned bright, but not for very long. Between 1965 and 1969, he won 16, 20, 17, 31 and 24 games respectively. He won a total of 17 games over the last 4 seasons of his 10 year career and was done with baseball after 1972. He is the last pitcher to win 30+ games in a season.

He won the Cy Young and MVP award after his 31-6 season in 1968 and followed that up with another Cy Young the following year. For whatever reason, McLain has a Rangers card, it's vintage, and now I have a copy.

Thank you Night Owl. I really do appreciate it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cards from the Old Man: Part 7

This is the seventh 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.
Next up on the list is a guy I had definitely heard of and one that I picked out as soon as I ran across it in the drawer. It didn't hurt that my 12 year old mind thought that "Braves" at the top actually said "BRAWES"...hey, I was 12 and not sure how to spell bra, but I did know funny. Well, I thought I did.
"It (Phil Niekro's knuckleball) actually giggles at you as it goes by." - Rick Monday
Thanks to that knuckleball, Phil Niekro had a long and remarkable career. Phil pitched for 24 seasons, 20 with Atlanta. He had 18 seasons of 30 or more starts, including 13 consecutive years. Between 1974-1980 (seven seasons), he never had less than 37 starts and had 3 years with 42 or more starts.
In case you can't read the cartoon, it says that until 1950
the hometeam had the choice of whether to bat last or not.
His career numbers are amazing. 864 games, 716 starts and a 318-274 record. Phil won 20 or more 3 times and lost 20 games twice. His 3.35 career ERA is very nice. He had 245 complete games, including 13 years with double digit complete games and 4 years of 20 or more complete games. He had 45 shutouts and pitched a whopping 5,401.1 innings. His 3,342 strikeouts earn him 11th place on the all-time list.
He didn't just pitch well, but could play his position. He won 5 Gold Gloves. He also managed to hit 7 homers and drive in 109 rbis. Ok, so he only hit .169...he was a pitcher.
Phil made two All-Star teams and unfortunately, never got the chance to pitch in the World Series. He was elected by the BBWAA to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 with 80.34% of the vote.
If anyone is actually reading these will see Phil make another appearance down the road.

A belated Valentine's Day Goodie Bag

Really this isn't a goodie bag. More like a goodie package. And it wasn't really that belated as it arrived only a couple of days after Valentine's Day. The only thing belated about it is me giving credit where credit is due.

I can't even do that properly because for the life of me I can't remember which blog belongs to Matthew. But I'm hoping he'll leave a comment and remind me so I can give him proper thanks for sending this Valentine's Day package.

He sent over 40 Rangers, but for the sake of you, the much appreciated reader, I'm going to highlight only three of the cards. Don't think that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the other 38 cards. Because if you do, I'll have to post all 41 cards.....I'll do it too.

We'll kick this off with this fine 2007 Upper Deck Nelson Cruz. I just like the fact that Nelson is holding about 12" of his bat and I have to wonder if he's watching the ball or the barrell of the bat as it heads toward some defenseless pitcher.

I bought a discounted blaster of these 2007 UD Future Stars and I seem to recall there being way too many veterans in a Future Stars product. I always appreciate an early Ian Kinsler card.

If one 2007 UD Future Stars Ian Kinsler is good, a serial-numbered MVP Prospects Ian Kinsler from the same set is even better. This one is #362/500.

Matt, thanks for the generous package.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Where were you on the evening of June 12, 1997?

I know where I was that night. I was one of 46,507 people enjoying this:

2010 Topps History of the Game #24 commemorates the night Interleague Play was introduced. By virtue of being located in the Central Time Zone, the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers played in the first Interleague game. I'm not sure which player is featured on the card, but it is definitely a Ranger.

Here are a few firsts from the game:

First Pitcher: Darren Oliver

First Batter: Darryl Hamilton

First Hit: Darryl Hamilton, single in the top of the 1st.

First RBI: Billy Ripken, bottom of the 2nd

First Homerun: Stan Javier, top of the 3rd.

First Win: Giants

Mark Gardner earned the win and Rod Beck got his 20th save while Darren Oliver took the loss. There were three other Interleague games that day. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they were the only AL team to lose as the Angels beat the Padres, Oakland beat the Dodgers and Seattle took down Colorado.

I still have the program, ticket stuf and a few other souvenirs from that first Interleage game. Now I have a card to round out the collection.

Props for Topps

I need to issue a big thank you to several people who sent stuff to get me closer to the completion of 2010 Topps Series One.

Mark over at Stats On The Back sent over a bunch of inserts, including 6 Turkey Reds like this one:

Mark is trying to complete the set for his son Parker so give him a hand if you can.

Marvin over at Trade Bait sent me a stack of 2010 Topps Rangers, mixed with a few other things. One of them that wasn't from this year was this one:

A nice 2008 Goudey Johnny Bench. He also sent one of my favorite cards of the year so far.

I wish the Rangers would have re-signed Omar to stay and mentor the young guys as well as be the utility infielder. The Rangers voided Khalil Greene's contract yesterday and now will be giving a couple of guys a shot at that role.

Last, but not least is Greg. I don't know if Greg has a blog, but he does have a Darren Daulton Master Wantlist here. He sent a whole stack of inserts from the 2010 Topps set including a card from one of my favorite insert sets.

This is the 2010 Topps 1951 Blue Back Tim Lincecum. I'm really close on both the red and blue sets.

I also got a couple of cards from Wax Wombat...but didn't have them with me to scan. One was the Brian Roberts, When They Were Young.

Thanks to these guys for all your help finishing up this set. I've got a couple of other deals in the works and I hope to finish up the whole thing before Series 2 comes out.

New Kid on the Block

Keith is the guy who sent me the email about the very brief run of '50s cards on Topps Giveaway a couple of days ago. I'm sure you read the post, but I can't see it enough....thanks to Keith I got this:

Keith has a new blog up and running called Back in Packs. Go check it out and give him some encouragement to jump in feet first. Thanks again Keith!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Topps Million Card Jackpot...Sort Of

I know the other day I posted what I said was my "Last" Million Card Giveaway post. Of course, if you noticed, that post had an asterisk by it and I gave myself an out. Yesterday at about 6:40 PM, I checked my email and saw this....

Read your comments this weekend on the blogs about the 60=70 run. right now they're running 1950's...posted a comment on your blog, but wanted to email you since you were so kinnd to alert everyone this weekend...cheers!

Well, it just so happens I had ONE and only one code card left for redeeming. When I looked at the site and saw the whole screen of recently unlocked cards was from the '50s. I literally ran and got my code. I logged in and by that time it was mixed '50s and '70s cards. I took a chance and redeemed my card and this is what turned up:

That my friend is a 1952 Topps Bruce Edwards card. That is also my FIRST and only 1952 Topps card. Just in case you were wondering, I will be redeeming this one, along with most of the other vintage cards I've unlocked. I can't wait to hold this beauty in my hands.

If you don't know who Bruce Edwards is, here is just a little info.

He played 10 years, 5+ with the Dodgers, 2+ with the Cubs, 1 with the Senators and 1 (7 games) with the Cincinnati Redlegs. He had a total of 429 hits, 39 homeruns and 241 rbis. His career average is 256. He was a catcher on the 1947 NL All-Star team. He was the starting catcher for the Dodgers in the 1947 World Series and was Roy Campanella's backup for the Dodgers in the 1949 World Series. Unfortunately, he didn't win a ring as the Yankees won both those Series.

I have to give a big thanks to Keith for the email. I don't know if Keith has a blog or that we've ever emailed before. I do know that I appreciate him taking the time to email me about the '50s cards. You really made my day. I don't believe in Karma, but if I did, I'd say I've been paid back for the thanks I got for letting people know about the '60s and '70s run last weekend.

Get Well Soon!

I guess it shouldn't come as a big shock to Rangers fans that Josh Hamilton got slightly injured Wednesday during workouts in Surprise, Arizona. He bruised his left shoulder when he "took a tumble" during morning workout drills.

Last year, Hamilton missed time with a bruised rib cage muscle, a torn abdominal muscle and a pinched nerve in his lower back. I like Josh Hamilton. I really do. I like his comback story, and despite the party pics last year, I think he genuinely wants to stay clean and sober and be the best player he can be. I hope this shoulder thing is minor and heals quickly. Of course the Rangers fan in me wants Josh to have a monster year, but part of me wants him to be successful just for himself. Get well soon Josh.

Last Saturday, a player the Rangers are hoping can make a major contribution this year sprained his right knee. Doing agility exercises. That is not a good sign.

The MRI on Derek Holland's knee confirmed the knee was only sprained. He was supposed to start pitching again on Wednesday. Again, I hope this is just a tweak and Derek is able to meet his, and everyone else's, expectations. Get well soon Derek.

Marcus Lemon

Last, but not least, the Rangers added Marcus Lemon to the Spring Roster to replace Khalil Greene who suffered a relapse of Social Anxiety Disorder. SAD put Greene on the disabled list twice last season and it appears the Rangers are preparing to move forward without Greene's services this season. Lemon just happens to be the son of former major leaguer Chet Lemon. Get well soon Khalil.

It's a long Spring Training and an even longer season. I'm already worried about all the money the Rangers are going to spending on get well cards.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From the PC: A Pudge Double Dip

These are two of my favorite Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez cards from my personal collection. I pulled both of these cards out of packs years ago.

2001 UD Gold Glove Ivan Rodriguez Batting Glove

This is one of my favorite "relic" cards. The picture on the card and the swatch of batting glove match up nicely, which is unusual for any relic card. It's not just a boring old one color swatch and has plenty of stitching.
As of the end of 2009, Pudge has appeared in 2,388 games, 2,288 of them at catcher. His career numbers look like this: 1,308 runs, 2711 hits, 547 doubles, 305 homers, 1,264 rbis, a .299 batting average, and 125 steals.
2000 SP Authentic Ivan Rodriguez Chirography
Nothing beats on-card when it comes to autos. The design of this card isn't great, but having Pudge's auto on-card and in blue ink makes it a nice card.
Pudge signed a two year deal with the Washington Nationals in the off-season. I was disappointed to see him go after his brief return to Texas. He should be able to get close to 3,000 career hits if he can stay healthy and play in a decent number of games. I know I appreciated being able to see him play in person so many times over the years.

Another Wicked Good Package

If you follow My Past Time...I Love It! by the infamous Wicked Ortega, you are familiar with his frequent trade bait posts. I love the trade bait posts. Too much. I always want some of what he puts up, but at this point, I have just about run out of Marlins stuff to send back. Fortunately, Wicked Ortega has quite a few players in his player collection so I should be able to find something to send him since he was nice enough to send these items with only the promise of getting something in return.

I'll save the two trade bait cards for the end. He also sent these.

I know a 1993 Score Select Tom Henke isn't your idea of greatness. What I love about this card is that throwback uniform. That uniform shows up on a number of different player cards from that year.

I really like these 1993 Flair cards. This is the front of the Dean Palmer and here is the back...

These are printed on nice, thick card stock. It has not one, not two, but three different pics and is really sharp. The package also had a Jose Canseco and David Hulse from this set.

Here is one for the player collection. This is the 2006 SP Authentic Baseball Heroes Joe Mauer. According to the back of the card, Joe is a Minnesota native who was the first player in state history to be taken with the #1 pick in the Baseball Draft.

This 1995 Topps MB Ivan Rodriguez did not scan well. It has tons of gold foil and came out much darker than it really looks. The back of the card asks the following questions:

Did you know....
Ivan signed with the Rangers at age 16? Yes
His family home in Puerto Rico was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989? Yes
He married his wife Maribel on the morning of the day he made his major league debut? No
The wedding had originally been scheduled for the night before at home plate prior to a Tulsa Driller game? No

Those last two questions are also covered on this next card.

I like these All-Star Fanfest cards. This one and the next one are from the 1992 All-Star Game in San Diego. I have a number of these from the 1995 All-Star Game that was in Arlington, Tx.

The Nolan Ryan Fan Fest card.

Here we have a couple of 2008 Bowman Elvis Andrus Rookie Cards that I believe are new to me. I don't buy much Bowman (none since the early 2000's). I do like getting the Rangers from the sets.

I definitely didn't have this card until now. It's a 2006 Just Minors Ian Kinsler. I think that big open space on the right would look very nice with Ian's auto on it.

Now for the cards that caught my eye in the first place.

This is a very nice, certified ON-CARD 2008 Bowman Chrome auto of Derek Holland. I'm hoping the knee he tweaked at camp a couple days ago isn't an issue.

This an equally nice, certified ON-CARD 2009 Topps Chrome Auto of Derek Holland. I swear I thought that was a sticker looks like it has a place for a sticker, but I took it out and looked at it very closely and there is NO sticker.
Wicked, you outdid yourself this time. I've already found a couple of Marlins autos to send and will be looking for some other stuff as well. Thanks brother!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three from Joe Collector's Break

I was fortunate enough to get the Rangers in I am Joe Collector's 2nd Box Break for February. I got an assortment of Heritage Rangers and some base cards from 2009 Unique. I didn't get any "hits", but I got these parallels that make a nice addition to the Rangers binder.

Hank Blalock #908/1199

Nelson Cruz #175/1199

Derek Holland #595/1199
I like the idea of participating in the box breaks for a shot at a product I wouldn't buy myself.
The March breaks include:
2 boxes 2009 Ultimate baseball
1 boxes 2010 Topps Jumbo Series 1
1 boxes 2007 Exquisite
I can't wait for "Joe" to pull one of those Rangers Hat Logos for me.

Outgoing Mail

I've fallen seriously behind in getting my packages out. With a sick wife and one sick kid, the post office has dropped in priority behind the doctor, the pharmacy and walking the dog. I should get packages out today to the following patient (I hope) people.

No One is Going to Read this Blog

BA Benny's Baseball Card Buffett


Long Fly Ball to Because

Thoughts and Sox

Drinking the Orange Kool-Aid

Hey, That's Mine

The Collective Troll


Chris Thomas

I also need to round up some goodies for Wicked Ortega who sent me a very nice package which you'll see tomorrow.

Then there's John and ebman who are offering cards.

Not to mention Texas Rangers Cards who wanted to initiate a Rangers trade back in NOVEMBER!!! I'm trying to organize the collection so I can really hit his wantlist.

Fun times.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Last Topps Million Card Giveaway Post*

I have to admit I drank the Kool-Aid on this whole Million Card Giveaway Topps is doing. When I realized early during the weekend that the only cards I saw being redeemed were '60s and '70s, with the occasional '50s card mixed in, I was a little amazed. I was even more amazed that fact wasn't being broadcast across the blogosphere. I posted comments on a couple of blogs and then made a couple of different posts from my phone. I'm not set up for mobile blogging so it would let me post, but only a title and a text in the "post" box. I'm glad to see that a couple of people were able to take advantage of that information. David from Long Fly Ball to Because and Greg from Night Owl fame, were able to get some cards "unlocked". Hopefully a few others who were holding their codes were able to get in on the action as well.

I got a few cards unlocked on "vintage" weekend too.

This 1954 Frank Baumholtz is the first '50s card I've unlocked. I love the old Cubbies logo.

This 1969 Tony Gonzalez is my second '69 to go along with Tony Oliva.

One last code card revealed this nice 1961 Bill Henry.

That makes 7/22 cards from 1972 or earlier so I can't complain.

I've seen some comments and commentary about how it would be cheaper and easier to just go on-line and buy the vintage cards you want. I can't argue that point. I do know that redeeming those code cards is FUN. Isn't that what this hobby is supposed to be about? I think so...and I think the number of people redeeming codes supports that idea.

Over the weekend, while checking in to see if the site was still putting out only vintage cards, I saw a number of star players cards getting redeemed. Just from 1971, I saw Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson and Bob Gibson. I also saw a 1969 Brooks Robinson on the list and my favorite was a 1974 Carlton Fisk.

I want more codes to redeem, but I want them to be from Series 2. I just don't know if I'm willing to wait that long.

*Or not.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Play at the Plate 5: Mike Redmond vs. Jason Bay

2007 Upper Deck Mike Redmond

June 18, 2006 Minnesota Twins @ Pittsburgh Pirates 1:35 PM Start Time

A little Interleague action today.

It's the bottom of the second inning with the score still 0-0. Jason Bay doubles to left to lead off the inning. Johan Santana then faces Freddie Sanchez who singles to right field, with Bay stopping at third. One out later, Jose Castillo steps to the plate. During Castillo's at bat, Minnesota Twin back-up catcher Mike Redmond tried to pick Sanchez off first. Sanchez gets into brief rundown between Twins 1B Justin Morneau and 2B Luis Castillo. After one throw from Morneau to Castillo and back, Morneau sees Bay take off for home. He throws home and this is what happens:

Jason Bay is OUT at the plate!
Sanchez ended up safe back on first and Santana got out of the inning without giving up any runs. The Twins would go on to win the game 8-2.
The winner of this battle is Mike Redmond....and it's about time a catcher won one of these "plays at the plate" battles.

GSNHOF knows the name of my blog

I got a package from Tim of Great Sports Name Hall of Fame (GSNHOF) fame. He sent along a few Rangers that will find a good home. Some of those will be featured here. He also sent a LOAD of plays at the plate. Many of those will be featured in the Play at the Plate series that is currently running on Sundays around these parts. For now, you'll have to be live with these Rangers. The Rangers have always been enamored of the power hitter....small ball isn't normally in their game plan. So what is up with these guys?

Tom Goodwin bunting on this 1999 Fleer Tradition card? That might be a good use of speed.
He did have 38 steals in 1998 for Texas.

More bunting on this 1999 Topps card my Mark McLemore. Mark had 12 steals in 1998.

Now this is more like it! Rangers fans are used to this...Goin' Yard. This 1997 Score Dean Palmer celebrates Palmer's 38 long balls in 1996.

Scott Fletcher never hit many homeruns, but I still like this 1987 Sportflics card. I had a complete set of these in a previous life.

"Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!" If only Raffy would have known.....this 1994 Score card was very prophetic. Raffy is still trying to get up.

That's more like it. My all-time favorite, Will "The Thrill" Clark on a 1995 Score Hitter's Inc. card. I should have scanned the back. Will has a nice bubble going. Does anybody collect cards that show players blowing bubbles with gum?