Sunday, March 26, 2017

I love the 80s - 1981 Detroit Tigers

Last time in this Series, we looked at the Philadelphia Phillies, the 1980 World Series champs. The Tigers were in a very different place that season, but there was reason to be optimistic that the decade would be kind to them. In 1980, the team posted a winning record and outscored their opponents, but ultimately finished in the middle of the pack in the AL East. They made further progress in 1981, as their young talent continued to develop. The climbed one more rung on the ladder, finishing in 3rd place in the division. 

Here are the cards!
. . . and the backs:

Donruss #5 Alan Trammell - Trammell led the Tigers in Hits, Runs, and batting average in 1980, winning a Gold Glove at Shortstop and making the AL All-Star squad. His 1981 numbers fell off a bit, with his average dropping nearly 50 points, but he remained a cornerstone of the franchise and would be a key member of the 1984 World Series squad. His defense earned him another Gold Glove in 1981 the second of four he would win in his career.

Fleer #470 Rick Peters - Switch hitting Rookie Center Fielder Rick Peters led the Tigers in Stolen Bases in 1980, and accrued  2.1 WAR. The following year the CF job was handed to Al Cowens, who moved over from Right Field to make room for Kirk Gibson. Peters would appear sporadically after 1980, shuttling between the minors and the big league club, playing his last game in 1986 for the Oakland A's. His Fleer card shows his crouched batting stance. 

The Detroit News Boys of Summer #62 Ernie Harwell - The only announcer to be traded for a player, Ernie Harwell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, receiving the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence. Harwell was acquired from the Atlanta Crackers by Branch Rickey in 1948 to call games for the Dodgers while Red Barber was recovering from an ulcer. Harwell began calling radio play by play for the Tigers in 1960, coming to Detroit with the assistance of George Kell, the former player that was calling games the year before. The Detroit News issued a set in 1981 to commemorate 100 years of the paper and celebrate the Detroit Tigers, including Harwell was a no-brainer. 

Fleer #473 Tom Brookens - Brookens burst onto the scene in 1980, his first full season in Detroit. He took the Third Base job early on in the season, and didn't look back. Mixing a little power and a little speed, Brookens tied fellow rookie Rick Peters with stolen bases and hit ten homers for the Tigers. Brookens would settle in as a kind of utility man in the 80s, playing all around the infield and even in Right Field from time to time. Towards the end of his career, he was a valuable bat in the DH spot or off the bench. While not a star by any means, Brookens was nonetheless a valuable role player.

Donruss #370 Sparky Anderson - Getting the most out of his players and putting them in a position to succeed was the hallmark of Sparky Anderson's tenure in Detroit. Coming over from The Big Red Machine in 1979, Sparky was never much for subtleties - in the press conference announcing his hiring, Anderson beamed about his young talented club saying that they would win a world series within 5 years. He earned the nickname "Captain Hook" in Cincinnati, but with Jack Morris, Dan Petry, and later Frank Tanana in his starting rotation it didn't come up as often as it did with the Reds. His prophecy would come true for the Tigers as (spoiler alert!)  won the 1984 World Series, and Sparky became the first manager to win in both the AL and NL. 

Fleer #481 Kirk Gibson - Another 1980 Rookie, Gibson was still a raw talent for the Tigers. His manager's focus on fundamentals and routine would grind on Gibson's instincts, though he would later credit Sparky Anderson's influence on making Gibson an effective major leaguer. A local boy from Pontiac, MI, Gibson had high expectations, but it would take a few seasons for him to deliver on the potential he promised. He blossomed at just the right time for the Tigers and had his first of five straight 25+ homer seasons in 1984. He was the MVP of the 1984 ALCS hitting .417 for the Tigers. Early flashes of the player he would become came in 1981, when he hit a career high .328 and racked up 2.4 WAR in the strike shortened season. 

Topps #150 Mark Fidrych - This is a sunset card for Fidrych, whose final appearance in a major league game came in 1980. Fidrych was the 1976 Rookie of the Year and his story was among the most compelling of the late 70s. Following a sterling rookie campaign, Fidrych experienced various injury problems that prevented him from surpassing 100 innings in a season again. A knee injury in Spring Training of 1977 was followed by a rotator cuff tear. His control and velocity would diminish, but his star continued to burn bright.

Drake's Big Hitters #27 Steve Kemp - Like Fidrych. Kemp's career ended far too soon as a result of injury. He was the Tiger's #1 pick in 1976. Kemp was coming off an 1979 All-Star appearance and duplicated a 20+ Homer and 100+ RBI campaign. Kemp was a big bat in the Tigers lineup through 1982, when he was traded to the White Sox for Chet Lemon. Kemp would have a solid season for the Pale Hose, but was on the move again for 1984. He was hit by a pitch in the eye and would attempt a comeback in 1988 for the Rangers. He played in 13 more games before retiring at the age of 33.

Topps #392 Lance Parrish - The Tigers had anchors up the middle at Shortstop with Alan Trammell, at second base with Lou Whitaker, and behind the plate with Lance Parrish. Parrish also provided some serious damage at the plate, leading the Tigers in homers in 1980 and 81. He was an All-Star in 1980 and won the Silver Slugger award as well. His defense wasn't bad either, winning 3 Gold Gloves in the 80s. For his career he averaged over 25 homers 25 doubles and 85 Runs Batted In per season. 

  

   

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Everything Seems to be in Order Here

Tom from The Angels, In Order sent over a jam packed mailer this week. Tom collects a lot of the more overlooked cards in the hobby - the checklists, the special offers, the contest cards. He sent over a very cool contest card from a 1983 box of Super Sugar Crisp (now known as Golden Crisp to hide the evil killer sugar inside) The text mentions the architectural marvel just completed the prior season, The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome!
A Few stickers 1982 Fleer Stamps and a tiny Kent Hrbek! Can you name the three players on the stamps? Answers at the end of the post.
Tom included these awesome blue parallels
Inserts and GOLD
Checking off some 1993 Fleer. Randy Bush put his initials on his wristband and his uni number on his bat - gotta keep an eye on your stuff in spring training!
Some more horizontal heroes - with Jack Morris giving Danny Gladden a big bear hug after scoring the Game and Series winning run to finish the 1991 World Series.
These are all from the "1992" Skydome Set. I put the year in quotes because this is the 1991 Stadium Club design, so to me it's more like a 1991 Stadium Club Update set.
Even more parallels and now that I'm finally organized I know for a fact that I didn't have the Oswaldo Arcia Red Foil Parallel. Pretty exciting to be sure!
That's quite the wad of chaw in Carew's cheek. Awesome well-loved vintage!
Another parallel this is the "gold signature" variation of the Upper Deck card
And finally, a 1986 Fleer Star Sticker of Kirby!

Very cool stuff, thanks Tom! I'm putting together some #supertrader packages this weekend, hope to send them out early next week!


The guys on the stamps - 228 - Roy Smalley, Jr. ; 227 - Doug Corbett ; 229 - Gary Ward

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the Clubhouse, A Studio.

Adam from Cardboard Clubhouse peppered the blogosphere with mailings, and I found a nice PWE in my mailbox the other day when I got home. Jack Morris is showing the grip of his split fingered fastball, a pitch that served him well in his single season in Minnesota.
Two more Studios and a pair of 84 Topps to add.
Showing the backs of these 93 Donruss, as I think I've shown the fronts before. I remember being impressed with Donruss in 1993 (and 1992) when they added a full color photo to the back of the card.
Upper Deck, of course, had been rocking the full color photo since their beginning. I do appreciate when Hrbie gets on the horn - "OK, two XL with extra Cheese and all the meats - oh, hey do you guys want anything?" I kid, I kid.
There were a few recent ones as well - Danny Santana's the only man standing as Parm, Swarzie, and Ozzie have all moved on to new clubs.

Thanks for the cards, Adam!

Monday, March 20, 2017

1964 Topps Venezuelan - Tough to Find! (A Blog Bat Around Post)

Nachos Grande put out a topic for a Blog Bat Around, and I love having something to write about! The question is - What's the Hardest Set You've Ever Collected (or Tried to Collect)?

Above you'll find some of the sets I've built so far - 1965 O-Pee-Chee, 2014 Topps Heritage, 2014 Topps Heritage Minor Leagues, A Twins Frankenset, and a few partial sets I'm working on now. Second from the left is 1964 Topps Venezuelan.
The answer to this Blog Bat Around is pretty easy for me - I've been chasing the 1964 Topps Venezuelan set for a couple years now, and it is extremely rare to find even one card in the wild. I have been slowly picking away at the set, and I finally put them into pages. Still no completed pages, though the page above is the closest.
It's hard to tell here, but this is the page with the fewest cards -  just the Vic Power. This is close to the end of the set, I'm not sure if these are more or less rare than the earlier series. Online sales make up most of the set for me. I got started with a nearly complete Twins team set, then found some more at the 2015 National Convention. Oh, and see Luis Aparicio?
This is the last page of the set-just one card needed. But I decided to include the two Venezuelans in the league, too, even though they aren't in the official Topps Venezuelan set.
A bummer for Venezuelan fans, their two hometown heroes were nowhere to be found in the set released in their country. I may never be able to finish this set, as there are multiple Mantles, and the other Hall of Famers go for big prices online. If I ever manage to complete this set, it will be quite the accomplishment!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"A," It's the Minnesota Twins!

After a long and painful ordeal hunched over some monster boxes, I've finally arranged all my Twins cards by letter.

Here's a sampling of the more notable "A" named Twins.
The best pitcher by far in Twins history with the last name "A" is Rick Aguilera. He came to the Twins from the Mets in the Frank Viola trade, and was converted to be the Twins' closer. He's second all-time on the team in saves with 254 (behind Joe Nathan) and was the closer for the Twins' 1991 World Series championship team. "Aggie" was a three-time All-Star - making the team in 1991, '92, and '93.
The best position player with the last name "A" was Bob Allison. Allison was the 1959 Rookie of the Year for the Washington Senators, and moved to Minnesota along with the rest of the Senators to become the Minnesota Twins. He played his entire 13 year career for the franchise, finishing with 256 career homers.
Was hoping to list some of the promising prospects for the Twins with the letter "A," A.J. Achter has moved on to Detroit, and Oswaldo Arcia is now a Padre. 19 year old Luis Arraez swung a hot bat in single A Cedar Rapids last season, but I don't have his card yet.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Playing with House Money

Still have a tiny shop left at COMC, and recently was gently reminded that negative balances are not permitted if you want to sell your cards on the site.

I was surprised to find that I actually had a small surplus, so thanks to anyone that picked through the junk to find something they could use!

Being the responsible salesman that I am, I immediately re-invested those precious credits on new cardboard for myself.

The biggest (literally) purchase was this Minnie Minoso Exhibit postcard - it is the blank tan back version. If I remember correctly "Made in U.S.A." vs. All Caps or "Printed in" means this was from 1951 - 1953. The card is listed as 1947-1966 Exhibit, but I think early 50s is probably a fair guess. Assuming this isn't a reprint!

Rickey is leaping into the ivy, and a Trio of Mannys!
Always looking to add a few new to me Twins, too.
Some sweet Dave Winfield cards that were on my list.
This Kennys Vargas card is numbered to 25 - I'm running out of Kennys to collect!
Couldn't leave without some horizontal heroes - The relic is Moises Alou.
Found this very affordable auto from "Twig" - rounding out a pretty nice haul from the site. I would never call myself a serious card seller. I've only sent one shipment to COMC to date, and I don't know that I'll be sending more - I don't really go for the big dollar sets, so I usually don't have premium, top dollar cards to sell. In fact, I'd much rather trade those cards than sell them anyway!


 If you want to see what's left at my COMC store, you can find it here - still a couple interesting things, and I am open to lower offers most of the time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What's On Your Mind?

For the first time, I've made a card purchase via Facebook. I joined a few Facebook groups for trading / selling / etc. - my ultimate goal is to find that elusive Kennys Vargas Clear parallel, but in the meantime I will scope out other deals and opportunities as they come up.

 So, here's what I bought - small to start, it's a Kirby Puckett Don't-Call-It-A-Refractor "Prizm"
 Seller tossed in the base card too - Prizm on the left, base on the right.
And here's the card that got me interested in the first place, a Miguel Sano auto from 2014 Bowman Sterling. Pre-rookie, post "1st Bowman," but a nice pick up nonetheless. I had to check to see if I already had this one before buying, but it turns out it's new to me! Local MN sellers at the shows want top dollar for Sano autos, which is understandable.

Pretty easy sale, the seller used PayPal, so I felt o.k. if I lost the money or the cards on this first deal, both were small enough investments to be worth taking a tiny risk.

Do you buy or trade over Facebook? Wanna invite me to your super cool trading group? Let me know in comments or send me an e-mail.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Andy Warhol's Kennys Vargas

OK, here's a brain teaser - which of these cards is not like the others?

Not so tough, right - the blue one? Yes.... and no. None of these cards are the same.

A tougher question might be - which is the one I shared last week?

Maybe if I flip them over?

So, top left is the base card - top right is the blue card. Bottom left is the bright yellow back variation, bottom right is the "Grey" back, but it's more of a woodgrain / brown. I guess the good news is that this wasn't a high number, or there'd be even more variations to chase. There is one not shown here - the "flip" variation, which has a glossy back and a rough front. I saw one on eBay for $25, but I am ok with missing out on it, at least for now....  

Oh, and Andy Warhol did team up with Topps back in the 80s:

Andy Warhol (United States, 1928-1987) Pete Rose, 1985 Acrylic on canvas with screen-printed image Cincinnati Art Museum, Museum Purchase: Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Wichgar, 1985.208 © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
PHOTO PROVIDED BY CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Just the 'fax, Ma'am

I'm usually not one to make a one card only post, however....
 I just landed this milestone card for my 1956 Set build, and I'm super pumped. At the card shows locally, there are a couple vendors that have a copy of this card, all in great condition. The lowest asking price - $125. That's too rich for my blood, especially when I'm trying to scrimp and save for the Mantle.
This card was foound on eBay, and it was pure chance as I was specifically trying to win a Kennys Vargas card. once that auction ended, I decided to peek at 1956 Topps auctions and this one was almost over. The card was graded (2)  and I noticed that no one had placed a bid on it yet. I put in an opening bid and ended up winning it 10 minutes later as the only bidder!

I'm now down to the final 25 or so cards in the set. Mickey Mantle looms large, but I can see the end of the road!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Saturday Was Card Show Day


 And everyone wants to talk about Heritage! I swear I overheard a ton of talk about the newly released set, just about every dealer had some.
 I'm still trying to catch up with the 60s!
Like seriously, give a guy a chance to catch up before you put out all these new cards!
I'm way behind! Walt Moryn is a local kid from Saint Paul - all these cards were fifty cents to a dollar.

 Took care of 3 needs on my 1956 Topps Set, and I could not say no to another Don Mossi.
 Al Kaline, looking fairly sharp
 And one Pete Rose, extra gritty. I actually am going to leave this on my want list, this card was too cheap to pass up, but I think I'd still like an upgrade.
 Then I found a table of dime boxes. This guy had come to the show many times before, but somehow I missed that these existed.
 I hope that this was just the first time he brought these, that must be why I never stopped before...
 A handful more Stanley Cups for the mini  collection!
 This was from a box of 76, 77, and 78 Topps - all five cents a card.
 can you believe there are only 10,000 of these? Talk about RARE
 BOOF!
Ok. I did get one new card. More on this card coming up later in the week (I know you're excited).