Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Vintage Bo-nanza

Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life! and I completed a trade recently, and Bo came through with a life affirming cavalcade of cardboard excellence. I am thinking about how I'd like to build my copycat Hall of Fame binder (stolen from P-Town Tom via Red Cardboard), and this Lou Brock is probably the #1 contender from his playing days to make the cut.

Luis Tiant is one of those guys on the outside looking in to the Hall - he had a brief but brilliant peak to his career, which came after some lean years.

The trade that brought Tiant to Minnesota sent Nettles to Cleveland. He'd get recognition for his superb defense once he made his way further East to New York.

As you can see, Bo shredded my vintage 70s wantlists, working from year to year.

Maybe I've been too tough on the 1973 set? There are some great cards to be found in it.

An upgraded Alou!

Tiant and Vida Blue were in the middle of some serious dominance of opposing hitters. Dick Allen had a fantastic season on the South Side, and Ken Griffey was about to be a World Champion 2X running for the Reds.

Speaking of the Big Red Machine, a fantastic Johnny Bench card coming through the dusty trail. I really love the shot of the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard for the Royals. Pretty good action shots in the 1976 set.

Seriously, this is just scratching the surface of the haul from Bo - a ton of vintage.

Without overloading the servers, there was also a big stack of 90s cards as well.

and Hockey! Believe it or not, this was actually the spark that prompted the trade. Bo emailed me and said he had some Stanley Cup cards, and tossed in a huge lot of Minnesota North Stars / Wild to beef up my NHL collection.

And there you have (again just a sample) the reason for the trade in the first place, The Stanley Cup is getting some serious love from the various card companies.

Thanks again for the trade, Bo! The cards you sent were fantastic and much appreciated!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Page Six - At the Bat Rack Frankenset

The Legend Continues! Page Six of the "At The Bat Rack" Frankenset is here. 

Rules -
9 different players
9 different card sets
9 different teams
player is at the bat rack (or bat pile) in or near the dugout
Have fun (most important)

Page Six!

And the backs:

46 - David Green 1985 Fleer Update
47 - Jeff Bagwell 2005 Bowman
48 - Gorman Thomas 1986 Topps All-Star Collector's Edition
49 - Pat Meares 1998 Topps
50 - Edgar Renteria 2003 Upper Deck Vintage
51 - Robin Yount 1983 Fleer
52 - Bobby Thomson 1992 Action Packed
53 - Greg Gross 1985 Fleer Baseball Star Stickers
54 - Elmer Valo 1957 Topps

OK, so I know I need to replace Robin Yount at card #51 - he's standing outside the batting cage, but not at the bat rack. I really scoured all of the #51's I could find, and so far this is the closest one. The consolation on this page is the grandaddy of them all, Elmer Valo's 1957 Topps Card! This card is the reason the Frankenset exists.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Total Stud-illo

Topps Total is starting to get more than a little repetitive, so I figured I would just focus on one guy for this post - the versatile and dynamic Catcher Willians Astudillo.

Minimum effort on the back - Topps is now selling wave 7 of 9 waves of 100 cards. There are parallels, and even some autographs floating out there -  I might chase some of the parallel Twins if I am comfy with the price. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Print It Again, Sam

Yes, yes, I know Bogie (nor Ingrid) never said "Play it again, Sam" - just like I know these 2 reprint sets I purchased weren't actually made in 1933. I had some interest in these two sets for a long time, and this seemed like the most economical way to add the 1933 DeLong Gum and 1933 Tattoo Orbit sets to my collection.

The back of each DeLong card has a tip about playing baseball, provided by Austen Lake, Baseball Editor of the Boston Transcript newspaper. The 24 card set has 15 Hall of Famers in it!

Here you can see how the cards line up against a modern card; they are a little bigger than the 1951 / 1952 Bowman cards.

There were even a pair of Horizontal Heroes! Compared to some other issues from the pre-war era, these cards are relatively affordable, but you're still looking at hundreds of dollars per card for even passable condition.

Aren't they pretty? Backgrounds were solid yellow, blue, or red. The nameplate came in a contrasting color.

The Tattoo Orbit set is harder to find in the wild than the big set from 1933, Goudey, and even harder to find than the underdog, DeLong. The cards were distributed with gum called Tattoo Gum, from the Orbit gum company.

The card backs had a very clean and succinct tale of the tape of each player, including their given name rather than their nickname.

The cards were nearly square - smaller than DeLong, about the size of a 1948 Bowman card. There are 16 Hall of Fame players (and 1 Hall of Fame Manager, Connie Mack) in the 60 Card set. The set curiously omits the Yankees, Giants, Tigers, and Senators, but makes it possible to find more obscure players not featured elsewhere in the 1933 issues.

The cards are very subtly tinted, to give the faces more of a flesh tone, contrasted with bright vibrant red and yellow backgrounds. Speaking of the backgrounds, you can even line some of them up to make a panorama of the outfield. Some of them are mirror images. I was a big fan of the artistic flourishes in clouds as well.

Are you a fan of reprint sets? Do you have any reprints in your collection?

Monday, September 9, 2019

1994 Topps All-Star Rookie Outfielder Ryan Klesko

With Bob Hamelin occupying the 1st Base spot already, Topps had to scramble to find a place for the National League's best rookie 1st Baseman, Ryan Klesko. Fortunately for everyone, Klesko was athletic enough to also dabble in the outfield from time to time, and was named to the 1994 Topps All-Star Rookie Team as one of the three outfielders.

He was a 6th Round selection in 1989, and by the time he reached the majors for good, he had built quite an impressive resume and was riding high on the hype train. His Rookie season included plenty of power (slugging .563) and a decent average (.278) for a rookie. He finished 3rd in the NL in the Rookie of the Year voting.

His professional debut came in 1989 with the rookie league Bradenton Braves, playing out the last half of the year after the June draft and even earning a promotion to the Class A Sumter Braves. He'd get a full season in 199, hitting 10 homers in 63 games with Sumter before being called up to High-A Durham and adding 7 more long balls. His power was his big calling card, but he did show flashes of speed and general athleticism, swiping 23 bases across the 2 levels.

1991 was spent in AA Greenville, where Klesko was not only showing power and speed.  He developed patience at the plate, walking 75 times while striking out only 60. His fine season earned another promotion, and 1992 was spent in AAA Richmond. He'd earn a September call-up in '92 and again in 1993, just as the Braves were kicking their dynasty into high gear. A lesser team might have had a need for Klesko sooner, but it was worth the wait to develop his game.

Klesko had a solid Sophomore season in the bigs in 1995, with career highs in Slugging and batting average. 23 homers and 70 RBI were just the appetizer for the post-season. He had a notoriously bad NLCS going 0 for the series, but he hit .467 in the NLDS against Colorado, and in the World Series he hit homers in 3 straight games, all on the road in Cleveland, helping the Braves capture their crown. The feat of 3 straight games with a road homer in the World Series had never been done before, and it would be a lasting legacy for the young slugger. He'd spend the rest of the 90s with Atlanta, and despite not winning another ring, he was a key part of their offense and helped the team reach the post-season every year of his Braves tenure.

He would return to the West Coast in the 2000s, his college days at Arizona State and his high school in Westminster, CA made San Diego a nice destination when he was traded along with Bret Boone in exchange for Reggie Sanders and Wally Joyner. Klesko would have a successful second half of his career with the Padres, including a return of that early speed (stealing 23 bases each in 2000 and 2001). He would make his first All-Star team in 2001, belting 30 homers to go along with those 23 steals, and slugging .539.

Klesko briefly tried to innovate a new game, Basebat, but it didn't catch on. Just kidding, it was extremely popular. Just kidding, it didn't exist. But what a fun card, yeah? Klesko had a couple more trips to post-season play with the Padres, losing to the Cardinals in the '05 and '06 NLDS. His 7 seasons in San Diego had a nearly identical stat line to his 8 Atlanta campaigns. He had more RBI and stolen bases in SoCal, but more Homers and Triples in Atlanta. Klesko also became very involved in community outreach in San Diego, heading up the team's Make-A-Wish partnership, and being the face behind Klesko's Korner, which provided tickets to families with children battling cancer.

Following a major shoulder injury that cost him much of the 2006 season, Klesko signed as a free agent for 2007 with the Giants. In his final MLB season, he'd get into 116 games as a first baseman, right fielder, and pinch hitter.

There you have his final career stats - 1564 hits, 343 doubles, 278 homers and a nice even .500 slugging percentage.  Share your favorite Ryan Klesko memories below!