Friday, August 16, 2019

Page Four - At the Bat Rack Frankenset

The Legend Continues! Page Four 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 Four!

The Backs:

28- Placido Polanco 2012 Topps
29- Sherman Obando 1993 Bowman
30 - Hank Greenberg 1980 Cramer Sports Legends
31- Fred McGriff 1990 Topps K-Mart A.L. Superstars
32- Stan Musial 1953 Bowman Color (1983 reprint)
33- Andruw Jones 2003 Fleer Platinum
34- Al Oliver 1977 Topps Cloth Sticker
35- Jimmie Foxx 2001 Upper Deck Cooperstown Collection
36- Mario Soto 1985 Fleer Limited Edition Baseball Superstars

I was able to follow the team rule this time, but I may have fudged a bit on the bat rack rule with the Fred McGriff card. I have no doubt that he is standing "bat rack adjacent," and I thought that there was a bat in the background leaning against the wall... looking closer I think that's a broom or mop handle.
No matter! I hope to get the Stan Musial card in its original form at some point, but the reprint actually fits in the 9 pocket page, so I almost prefer to have it instead of the genuine article. 

Tell me about your mini-collections - would you start your own Franken-set?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Before landing on the IL, Willians Astudillo became a fan favorite and one of Topps' preferred rookies for new sets in 2019. I picked up a blaster of Topps Chrome, and adding this card was one of the highlights of the whole package!

I haven't opened any packs of Topps Finest or Bowman Chrome, but that's ok, I only would have wanted the Astudillo cards anyway. It's probably safe to say that Astudillo is no longer a rookie of the year favorite, and has been passed by his similarly strikeout averse teammate, Luis Arraez. However, Astudillo still is on the minds of Twins fans and he's going to see live game action soon, as he's headed to the team's single A affiliate in Fort Myers (also home to their massive Spring Training facilities).

No packs of Bowman Platinum were opened in the making of this post, either, I found this one online.

Online is the only place one could find this card - part of set #10 of this year's On Demand Series. The set is called Rookie Progression, and has a an early 90s Skybox basketball vibe to me. Astudillo should be back soon, and in the meantime I will keep hunting for more of his cards in the next offerings from Topps and Panini.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

1993 Topps Traded Set

Found a nice deal on a sealed 1993 Topps Traded Set, so today I am sharing some of the highlights with you! Mike Piazza was already an established star when this set was issued, even though he was still a rookie.

The 1993 Topps Set featured a 2nd player photo on the back, a flourish they hadn't tried in a long long time. But the pressure was on to keep up with Johnny Fleer and Joey Donruss and uh, Janey Upper Deck, so that means photos on both sides! I don't know if this a common issue with the traded set, or a symptom of being in a sealed box for so many years, but the ink on the backs looks a little runny to me.

Also - what's the deal? For the first time, the traded set was no longer in alphabetical order. Also ALSO, " IT - 132T ?" I? Weird.

Piazza was one of 6 Hall of Fame players in the set (with 2 or 3 more possibly to add later?). Boggs defected from Boston to the Yankees, where he would finally win a World Series, and get to ride a NYC Police horse after the clinching game. Andre Dawson went from the Cubs to Beantown, now towards the end of his magnificent career. Greg Maddux and Paul Molitor were thinking championship as well, and both would be rewarded by the end of their tenures with their new teams.

Now that Bowman has returned and the Prospect Machine was in full motion, finding quality rookies in the traded set was becoming more rare. The Team USA issue provided opportunities to add more young players to the set, and like Nomar in 1992, another Freshman made a splash in the new traded set.

The Team USA backs are a little different, so I figured I'd share those, too. Todd was quite the athlete!

The Twins representatives had nearly 20 seasons combined in the big leagues by the time the set came out - granted, they were all from Hall of Fame OF/1B/DH Dave Winfield. Todd Walker technically wasn't with the Twins organization yet, but he'd be drafted in the first round in 1994 by the Twins. David McCarty and Pat Meares were expected to take the reigns in the infield for Greg Gagne and Kent Hrbek. Meares ultimately did become the team's everyday SS, and McCarty had flashes of brilliance, but never really became the player to match the potential.

This group of guys might have a Hall of Famer or 3 in it, you can argue about which 3 they might be. Bonds had card #1T honors, all of these guys became key pieces of their team's success for the rest of the 1990s.

Lastly, here are a couple of my favorite photos from the set, and two guys that were appearing in familiar uniforms. The traded sets can be light on action and personality, but Boomer Wells listening to the national anthem and Erik Pappas sporting some gnarly hat hair. The Big Cat had a miserable 1993 in Saint Louis, playing in fewer than 100 games, and hitting just 10 homers. But Colorado would prove that he still had a few of those 9 lives remaining, and in fact would have the best years of his career. Kirk Gibson was returning to Detroit where he found his early post season success.

Monday, August 12, 2019

1994 Topps All-Star Rookie RHP Joey Hamilton

They're Back! It's the 1994 Topps All-Star Rookie Squad. I'm going to cover the whole team in card number order. First up is the Padres' Right Handed phenom, Starting Pitcher Joey Hamilton.

Born in Georgia, schooled in Georgia. Hamilton set school records at Georgia Southern in games, complete games, shutouts, wins, innings pitched and strikeouts - and that was with just a little over 2 seasons. Early in his Junior year, Hamilton had to undergo elbow surgery that effectively ended his college career. The injury did little to scare off major league teams in the 1991 Draft, however. He was selected ahead of pitchers like Aaron Sele, Justin Thompson, Scott Ruffcorn, and Bobby Jones. In his 2 minor league seasons, he would be promoted 5 times, finishing in AAA by the end of 1993. Padres' scouts were pleased with the big righthander's fastball / change-up combo, going from mid 90s to low 80s.

His MLB debut came the following season in May of 1994, facing off against the Giants. He was unfazed, however, hurling a quality start (6 innings, 3 ER, 3 Ks, 3 walks) and earning his first win. His first loss was another quality start, this time against Marlins knuckleballer Charlie Hough. Topps helpfully pointed out that Hough was pitching in the big leagues before Hamilton was born. More on Charlie later. Joey would make 16 starts as a rookie, 14 of which were quality starts. The highlight was a shutout in late June against the Reds, though he only struck out 1 batter. 

Hamilton was a solid mid-rotation starter for the Padres throughout the 90s, including starts in the postseason in 1996 and 1998. During the '98 World Series he'd appear in one inning of scoreless relief. Had the Padres not been in an 0-3 hole, he may have been the Game 4 starter instead of Kevin Brown. He topped 200 innings 3 times, leading the Padres' staff in victories twice. After his tenure in San Diego, he'd spend 3 seasons with the Blue Jays, and 3 seasons with the Reds, but struggled to stay healthy. He'd finish his career with 74-73 career record and a 4.44 ERA, which is roughly a full career of quality starts. (6 innings and 3 ER gives you a 4.50 ERA.) Solid production for a pitcher in the thick of the steroid era.

For no reason, here is Charlie Hough teaching Smokey the Bear how to throw the knuckle ball. Real reason - I didn't have any Hamilton Blue Jays or Reds cards, so this is the consolation prize...

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Arbitrary Acquisitions

Summer keeps on rolling - I haven't been to a card show in a few months now, both for financial and for scheduling reasons. Missed out on the National, as well. But that doesn't mean I was completely shut out of new cards.

"Twinkletoes!" I only have a pair of 1940 Play Ball cards, after adding this George Selkirk over the summer in a COMC bundle.

I don't think I will chase the set, but I couldn't pass up the awesome nickname. The other Play Ball in my collection? Stormy Weatherly, of course.

On to a set I am building, I added a short stack of 1959 Topps. Wally Post and Sherm Lollar were probably the biggest names of the bunch. The 1958 NL shutout leader, Johnny Antonelli is also in the group.

When I saw this Ted Williams  / Paul Bunyan mashup, I assumed that it was a photo taken in Minnesota, but Bunyan gets around. This was taken in Maine, where Ted was given an 8 foot long baseball bat.

Once you fall down a COMC rabbit hole, there's no telling where you'll end up, like fence leaning rebels, Robbie Alomar on the horn, Nolan Ryan selling out for Classic, and even a Felipe Alou photobomb on Tim "my moustache is the 11th Canadian Province" Blackwell's card.

I did actually buy some new retail - including a blaster of Allen & Ginter, which yielded a couple big rookies and a couple even bigger egos. No problem though, Reggie and Rickey proved they could back up the talk.

Saw this one on eBay and made the decision to buy it right away - several of these SPs have dropped in price since they were released, I may have jumped the gun on this one. But this may even count as a bat rack card - there are shipping boxes of Louisville Sluggers in the background!

This card, however, I waited a few decades before snapping up in an eBay auction. I was the only bidder for this well-loved card.

Bob Bonner didn't pan out as the Orioles' shortstop of the future. Good thing they had a backup plan.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

NOW, to be On Demand is to be In Demand

We've just passed the July 31st Trade deadline, and with no waiver deadline this year, that means that teams are now fairly set. The Minnesota Twins have an historic campaign, with franchise highs in Homers and Wins through the first half of the season.

While the bullpen hasn't been a Total disappointment, regression by Trevor Hildenberger (and his subsequent injury) has thinned an already light corps of relievers. Jake Odorizzi has had one of the best seasons of his career, and Max Kepler has taken off this year.

Serving as the Twins' lead-off hitter, Kepler has also found success at the end of games, providing fireworks at the end of this mid-June Marathon against the Red Sox.

Can't forget the bat flip!

It won't always be Twins On Demand in my collection - I do make room for signature / iconic moments throughout the season. Scherzer smashed his face while taking batting practice, but still made his scheduled start with a broken nose and a nasty shiner that made for some extra spice to the legend of his toughness.

This view is a pretty common progression for the 2019 Twins - see ball, hit ball, see ball go. Wave #3 of Topps Total featured a trio of Twins that can all crush the baseball.

The AL's Starting Short Stop was bumped from the Topps NOW All-Star set in favor of home town rep Francisco Lindor, but he did find his way into this Throwback Thursday set.

Are you keeping up with your team's On Demand offerings? Have you picked up any Topps NOW cards recently?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Transatlantic Triple Break Joins the Club

Stadium Club has been out for some time now, I picked up a hobby box to share as my contribution to the Transatlantic Triple Break with Kevin of The Card Papoy and Matthew of Bob Walk the Plank.

Each of us get 2 divisions. We each chose our home town team divisions this time, so I had these parallels from the AL Central, Fulmer on the left is a holofoil card numbered to just 25 copies.

I also picked the NL West, which afforded me this sweet Trevor Story insert.

Just a pair of Twins in the box, Buxton and Sano. The biggest name rookie pulled was Eloy Jimenez. We were robbed of a Vlad Jr card! Sorry Kevin.

Before I forget, here are the backs. The sooner I forget Buxton's 2018 season, the better. Yikes! He's doing much much better this year.

Stadium Club went hard after horizontal shots this year. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, but they appeared to be more than half of the base cards. At that point, I think they could have just gone all in with the horizontal shots. Happy to a new bat rack card with Justin Turner!

I didn't pull this one from the box - both autographs and the box topper will be going out in the mail, just the way I prefer it on the breaks. But I saw that La Tortuga was on the auto checklist, so I made a special addition off of eBay of this card, and since the autos I pulled are going elsewhere, I figured I would share this one now.

Overall, the base cards still bring home the bacon, and like years past I feel like the parallels / inserts are unnecessary - I'd rather have more variety of base card images, as they are the best part of the set! Have you picked up any Stadium Club yet this year? What are some of your favorite cards in the checklist?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

1992 Topps Traded Set

The single solid color bricks that served as a calling card for Topps Traded Sets was gone for good in 1992. The longer, thinner boxes that started in 1990 were now the "standard" format, though Topps still had the brick version. Now both versions featured photo reproductions of the cards inside, featuring the big name free agents, rookies, and traded players.

Another change for trade was the back. For the first time since 1981, the traded set backs were the same color as the flagship set - no bright neon traded variation this time. Just like the regular set, a panoramic image of the player's new home was squeezed in whenever possible. There were 3 horizontal cards in the 1992 traded set, the rest are the more familiar portrait format.

Canada was stockpiling Hall of Fame players. Toronto grabbed a pair of Saint Paul, MN heroes, Jack Morris and Dave Winfield. The Expos reclaimed their prodigal son, Gary Carter was no longer the "The Kid," but still a fan favorite. Steady Eddie Murray would be one of several new faces in New York, hoping to power the Mets to the post season again.

The traded set rarely had the biggest of the big name rookies. 1992 would feature the future Rookie of the Year Pat Listach, Team USA standout Jason Varitek, 2-sport star Brian Jordan, and a very young Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar was just a college Freshman, earning his spot as the only walk-on for Team USA. It would be a few years before he'd return to the national spotlight with the Boston Red Sox.

Although 1992 was a big USA Olympic year, the baseball team was on the outside looking in. After losing to Cuba and Japan in the tournament, the US team missed out on all medals.

Canada would not field an Olympic baseball team, but they had the last laugh with the Blue Jays winning the first of two World Series championships. The "other" Canadian team was just showing early signs of the team they would become by the mid 90s.

The Minnesota Twins may have been overconfident following their 1991 World Series victory - they did little to improve their team following the season. They would replace Jack Morris with another 20 game winner, John Smiley. They also added veteran arm Bill Krueger. While the team actually had a better record in 1992, they would fall short of the post season behind the still dangerous Oakland A's.

I tossed in Taubensee and Valera as some of my favorite images from the set.

The Hot Stove may have been cool in the Midwest, but the fires were burning on the coasts. The big free agents flocked to New York, with the Yankees scoring Danny Tartabull and the Mets adding Bobby Bonilla. A pair of trades sent Gary Sheffield and Eric Davis out West. Davis would reunite with his childhood friend Darryl Strawberry, and Sheffield would team up with San Diego legend Tony Gwynn.

Some off-season moves don't work out the way they were planned...

And others work out even better than you had hoped!

Last but not least, here's Kevin Campbell. You may be asking... why? What? Why? Well, to tell you the truth, if I had made this post last week, I would have skipped right past this card. Over the weekend, the Twins were playing the Chicago White Sox and LaTroy Hawkins was doing the commentary alongside play-by-play man Dick Bremer. They were talking about pitch selection and Bremer asked about the 4-seam vs. the 2-seam fastball. According to Hawkins, he never threw a 4-seamer in his entire MLB career - and he owed it all to Kevin Campbell. During Spring Training in his rookie year, Hawkins was warming up in the bullpen and Campbell noticed some fastball command issues from the young righty. He showed Hawkins his grip for his 2-seam fastball and Hawkins found it to be much more comfortable than any pitch he'd thrown before. The rest of his 21 year major league career, that 2-seamer would be LaTroy's bread and butter. So there you go - Kevin Campbell!