Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Regal Triple Break from a Super Trader

Matthew from Bob Walk the Plank recently did a Transatlantic Triple Break of 2016 Diamond Kings. Here's the good stuff that came my way:

 The Artist's Proof cards are numbered to 99
 Speaking of Royal-ty, here's Big Brett and Baby Brett - 2 of the 3 George Brett Cards in the stack
 "Memorable Feats" is a good looking insert.
 Matt always tosses in a couple extra hits - here's a really fancy parallel from 2015 Topps. The Silver Frame is serial numbered to 20.
Wow! A Pair of Hall of Famers! Bert is the Twins' T.V. Analyst, and Paul is the Twins current manager. He's technically on a winning streak, as the Twins have won 2 games in a row for just the 2nd time this season.... Yikes! Both of these are numbered to 25 and feature a pretty slick gold ink autograph.

Thanks as always Matt - another great triple break in the books!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I Love the 80s : 1981 Montreal Expos

It's gonna be sad to talk about the Expos during this series on 1980s cardboard - I really hope that the Expos can come back some day. In 1980, the Expos finished second in the NL East with a 90-72 record. They were led by a very fleet of foot outfield, a Hall of Fame Catcher in his prime, and a rotation that blended youth and experience. 
 In 1981, the Expos made the postseason and defeated the defending champion Phillies in the Divisional series, but lost to eventual 1981 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers in a very hard fought NLCS. Here are my favorite cards of Expos in 1981. Quick story on Ron LeFlore - I realize that is a White Sox card, but I wanted to include another card with the Expos' home uniform, and this was one of the better examples.

The Cards:

Donruss # 89 Larry Parrish - Parrish was the regular 3rd Baseman for the Expos in 1980 and 1981, missing significant time after being hit by a pitch on his wrist.

Fleer #148 Ellis Valentine - Valentine's 22 homers in 1980 marked the third straight season of 20+ homers, and he was just 26 years old. He ended up being traded to the Mets during the first half of the 1981 season for pitching help.

Fleer Star Stickers #123 Andre Dawson -  The Hawk had a bit of a down year in 1980 compared to his 1978 Rookie of the Year campaign, but he still won his first silver slugger award and first Gold Glove. They would be the first of many for the Hall of Famer. 1981 would mark his first All-Star appearance.

O-Pee-Chee #6 Gary Carter - The Kid pretty much killed it in 1980 and 81. He won his first of 3 straight Gold Gloves behind the plate, finished 2nd the MVP balloting (his highest finish), and enjoyed a pair of All-Star appearances. The Hall of Famer was the on field leader of the team.

Topps Traded #816 Tim Raines - I decided to use this Topps card instead the O-P-C card with three Expos rookies on it.

O-Pee-Chee #244 Ellis Valentine - The modified facemask that Ellis wore on his helmet makes this one of my favorite cards of the decade.

Fleer #143 Steve Rogers - Rogers was the Expos Ace in 1980 and 1981, and was a life-long Montreal Expo. He led the National League in complete games in 1980 and finished 5th in the Cy Young voting. He would go on to lead the league in ERA in 1982, and finished his 13 year career in 1985.

Donruss # 538 Tim Raines -  Rock. His career was just getting started in 80/81 - playing in just 15 games for the Expos in 1980, but he was the Minor League Player of the Year. In 1981, he took over Left Field for the Expos and stole 71 bases in just 88 games. He would go on to steal at least 70 in his first 6 full seasons. He should be in the Hall of Fame, hopefully that will be fixed next year.

Donruss # 576 Ron LeFlore - It would be hard to imagine it, but Raines' stolen base totals were actually a drastic reduction from the totals of the 1980 Expos Left Fielder, Ron LeFlore. He stole 97 bases in 1980 for Montreal. He came to the majors with Detroit and then Tigers Manager Billy Martin gave the 26 year old a chance at redemption. LeFlore had a checkered past, but his talent on the field was never in doubt. LeFlore took the opportunity and despite a late start he ran with it. By the time he stole 97 bases for the Expos, he was already 32 years old. With the speedy Raines coming up and seemingly no place for LeFlore in the Expos Outfield, he was allowed to test free agency. He returned to the AL and played his final two seasons for the White Sox.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

1967 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Get Your Heart Checked!

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1967 season and featured in the 1968 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2016 Series one, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

Dick Hughes RHP, Rich Nye LHP, and Rick Monday OF were members of the team in 1967, but their 1968 Topps cards did not feature the trophy.
  Right Handed Pitcher - Tom Seaver
Hall of Famer
The Franchise is probably the greatest pitcher to be named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967, and quickly became the Ace of the young Mets rotation that blossomed in 1969, winning the World Series. He began to assault the record books of the Mets immediately upon making the team:
 Seaver's career continued to deliver in the 70s and into the 80s, including a no-hitter in 1978, 5 strikeout titles, 3 Cy Young Awards, and 12 All-Star Appearances. He was the Opening Day starter 16 times, striking out over 3,600 batters in his career. He recorded 61 Career Shutouts - for comparison, the active leader in the majors is Clayton Kershaw with 14 (ahem, 15 after last night) . "Tom Terrific" was about as close to a unanimous Hall of Fame Selection as a player can get, named on 98.8% of all ballots. Until this year's election of Ken Griffey, Jr., no player had a higher percentage of votes. Seaver also has the rare distinction of winning two games in the same day. He finished a game suspended the previous night, then started the regularly scheduled game on May 9th, 1984. His 300th win came in New York, as a member of the Chicago White Sox, in August of 1985.
Tom's Rookie Card is the last one Mark Hoyle needs to complete his 1967 Topps Set.
 Outfield - Reggie Smith
Reggie was not a Hall of Famer like the guys before and after him on this list, but his career was still a productive one. He compiled over 2,000 career hits and was a doubles machine - racking up 363 two baggers in 17 major league seasons. He also belted 314 career home runs, scored over 1,000 runs, and drove in over 1,000 more. He made 7 All-Star teams between the Red Sox, Cardinals, and the Dodgers, and even picked up a Gold Glove in 1968. Hey- do you like advanced stats? Reggie's career OPS+ was 137, meaning that he hit 37% better than the league average over his career. The only switch hitter with a higher career OPS+ ? Why, that would be Mickey Mantle. You prefer anecdotes? Hall of Famer Don Sutton said that Smith was a more valuable player for the 1978 Dodgers than Steve Garvey, which may have contributed to a heated wrestling match between Garvey and Sutton in the clubhouse in L.A. Reggie would be quoted as saying his least favorite word was "potential" - a word the media used to describe heights that he did not reach in his career. His overall body of work was solid, and he contributed to some the strongest teams in the 60s and 70s. He was a member of the World Champion Dodgers in 1981, albeit as a bit player at this point, appearing in just two World Series games, and just 41 regular season games. The championship was icing on the cake for a great career.
Reggie's Rookie is #314 in the 1967 Topps set.

 Second Baseman - Rod Carew
Hall of Famer
Rod Carew didn't play baseball much as a teenager - he was born in Panama, and played sparingly with neighborhood kids. The family moved to New York and it wasn't until Rod was in high school that he once again picked up a bat. It turned out that he had a knack for hitting a baseball. Carew won 7 batting titles, won the AL MVP award in 1977, and was the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year. He never hit many home runs, but Carew managed to lead the league in Triples three times, averaged 200 hits and 29 doubles per year, and went to the All-Star game in all but one of his 19 seasons. The Hall of Famer reached the 3,000 hit plateau against his former team, the Twins, in 1985, his final major league season. This offseason, while taking in a round of golf, Rod suffered a heart attack. He has been making slow progress recovering, and likely will need a heart transplant to extend his life. He appeared at TwinsFest and urged everyone to talk to their doctor about their heart health. Carew was one of the game's greatest pure hitters.
Rod's rookie card is pesky high number #569 in the 1967 Topps Set

 Catcher - Dick Dietz
Dietz appeared in just 56 games in 1967. He, like many of other Topps All-Star Rookie Catchers, was the most promising of a thin group. It's rare for a catcher to excel in their rookie season, and they usually take some time to come into their own. For Dietz, that was 1970. Dietz crushed 22 homers and made his first and only All-Star appearance. In that game, Dietz was a reserve, and came into the game in the 7th inning replacing Johnny Bench. Dietz hit a home run that started a rally for the Senior Circuit. The comeback culminated in the unforgettable play at the plate with Pete Rose steamrolling Dietz's opposite number Ray Fosse. Dietz was the batter on deck when Rose scored the run. Dietz had another solid campaign in 1971, hitting 19 homers as the primary catcher for the playoff bound Giants. Dietz was released by the Giants following the 71 season (and the 72 players' Strike; Dietz was the Giants player Rep). The Dodgers picked him up, but he suffered a broken wrist which effectively ended his regular playing time. He appeared in his final major league game in 1973 as a member of the Atlanta Braves.
Dick's Rookie card was #341 in the 1967 Topps Set

 Third Baseman - Bobby Etheridge
Rookie Card
Bobby Etheridge played in just 40 games in 1967, and just 96 Major league games in his career. He managed 26 hits, with 1 home run. He spent most of the season behind Jim Ray Hart on the depth chart. He bounced around the minor leagues until 1973 and was out of baseball. Maybe Sal Bando would have been a better bet, but hindsight is 20/20...

 Outfield - Walt Williams
"No Neck" was short in stature, but he played big on the field. Built like he was hastily crammed into a suitcase*, Williams played the game like he was late for a flight. The reckless abandon on the field made him an instant fan favorite. While he hit for just a .240 average his rookie year, he rebounded and managed a career mark of .270, with a career high average of .304 in 1969. He had his best seasons in terms of average and on base percentage when given the chance to play regularly, which was a rare occurrence for Williams. Defensively, Williams was very very good, making just 19 errors in his career. He did not get the opportunity to play regularly in the States, finishing his career with stints in Venezuela, Mexico, and Japan. He also played in the short lived Senior Baseball League in 1989. Williams passed away in January of this year after a heart attack.
*(quote paraphrased from an unnamed scout, quoted in Williams' NY Times Obit)
Walt's Rookie Card was #598 in the 1967 Topps Set.

 Shortstop - Tim Cullen
Cullen had a career year in his first full season with the Senators in 1967. He had 95 hits, and a career high OBP of .306. His greatest success came as a bench player on the 1972 World Champion Oakland A's. Cullen has the dubious distinction of being traded back to his original team in one season - going from the Senators to the White Sox, then being traded back to Washington (for the same player, Ron Hansen). Both teams decided to have a do over on that one.
Tim's Rookie Card is #167 in the 1967 Topps Set

First Baseman - Lee May
Lee had a great rookie season with the Reds, and it was the start of a career that saw May playing for several teams in both leagues. May was prodigious slugger, though he hit only 12 homers in his first full season, he would go on to hit over 350 for his career. May, in addition to hitting a lot of homers, struck out at a high rate as well. May averaged 123 strikeouts per season - along with Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, and others, May ushered in a new era of  home run hitter in the 1970s. Striking out 100+ times in a season would be almost unheard of, but these players were also hitting more home runs on a consistent basis compared to the players of the previous generation. May was definitely consistent - he had 11 consecutive seasons of greater than 20 homers and 80 runs batted in. "The Big Bopper" had his highest total in 1971, hitting 39 big flies. May was a perfect fit in Baltimore, often providing the "3 Run Homer" that Orioles Manager Earl Weaver liked to wait for. His brother Carlos also played pro ball, and between the two of them they have hit the 6th most homers for a pair of brothers (even though most of those came from Lee).
Lee's Rookie Card is #424 in the 1966 Topps Set.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Now I Get It

 I caved and decided that I really wanted this card - and I wanted it NOW. I am fully aware that Topps is probably going to make cards with this exact photo twice a year for the next twenty years, but hey, sometimes it is fun to ride the hype wave.
Colon is a national treasure. I know the Twins aren't getting a Topps Now card anytime soon, so this was a fun thing to do. I (almost) feel bad for the Cubs and Mets and Red Sox fans that have so many of these cards to try to collect, but I then I remember that the Twins have only won 11 games this year and I feel bad about that instead. The best chance the Twins have had to get one of these was when the Target Field ball boy dove for a line drive a week ago and made a leaping catch:

Yeah. So this was the Topps Now card for me!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Super ├ęchanger transatlantique

 This card came to me direct from an eBay seller, but I didn't order it myself. It's my first Joe Mauer Autograph! A very cool and very generous gesture.
 A follow up package came on Friday - you can probably guess from this card that it came from The Card Papoy
 This Kirby Puckett card is heat activated! The background is full of cartoon baseballs going crazy because Puck is beating the crap out of them with a baseball bat...
 The Slideshow insert is so cool. The back has a quote from Frank Thomas, because it's not a true 90s Leaf card without the Big Hurt!
 Some more fun variations and inserts. The Headline Stars card folds out and features a hologram style image of the pair of 90s sluggers.
I probably appreciate this card more than most people would. Kurt is not repeating the production of his lone All-Star season, but he's doing the best he can, you guys. This card is a highlight for me not only for the autograph, but it also features the Target Field All-Star Game patch on Suzuki's sleeve.

Thanks Kevin! As always, these are great cards!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I Stand Corrected

Ok, so my last post (a week ago, I know) Jeff from 2X3 Heroes commented about heading back to Kmart at some point to find some older packs. I scored a pair of KMart exclusive 2008 Topps Gold Rookie Variations in a trade with Mark Kaz. My response to Jeff's comment? I scoffed. 2008 Topps? No way. They aren't going to  have anything nearly that old, are they?

 Ok - I stand corrected! I found these at KMart in my neck of the woods and while it wasn't 2008 Topps, it was still very surprising to me!
 If you recall, O-Pee-Chee (now run by Upper Deck) was doing a tribute of sorts to the Vintage designs of the 1970s in the late 2000s. This time around they were riffing on the 1976 Topps cards (with the horizontal shots being a nod to '71, '73 and '74.
These were a ton of fun to bust open! Hat tip to Jeff for the idea to return to my local KMart.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Parallel-O-Gram (in a PWE)

 Mark Kaz of This Way to the Clubhouse . . . fame e-mailed me to tell me he pulled the Max Kepler card above and wanted to know if I would like to trade. I did! Mark included several more Twins in the PWE that found its way to me.
 Little Joe!
 This mini parallel is serial numbered to just 100.
 The envelope was full of parallels, including the black O-P-C - and those Gold 2008 Topps? K-Mart Gold Rookie Variations (took me about 20 minutes to figure that out!)
 A Pair of Tony Os from the Fan Favorites - hadn't seen these before, very cool!
We end with Torii on Tatooine. Thanks Mark! I should have a return package in the mail on Monday!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Transatlantic Triple Break! 2016 Bowman Hobby

Hey everyone, it's time for another triple break! This time I picked up one hobby box of 2016 Bowman. We're guaranteed one auto and we'll be splitting the cards up by division. Matt takes home NL East and NL Central, Kevin takes AL East and NL West, and I take AL Central and AL West.
Here's a quick peek at the base cards, featuring Major league players from the AL West.
Here are some of the Twins, including the "turn two" insert. Minor leaguers have their names listed on the bottom, major leaguers on the side of the card, easy to quickly sort..
Here's the back of the insert. Each one features two minor league prospects.
The serial numbered hits! /250, /150, /99, and /25.
When I pulled this card, I momentarily thought Trevor Story would be on the back...
Oh well, still a cool card - and it's serial numbered to /50!
Whoa! What's this? Instead of just one auto, this box had 3! Super excited about pulling this card. My luck is improving.
Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I Love the 80's : 1983 Topps Cello

 Another cello pack found for a song online - let's see what was inside...
 Marc Hill did o.k. Stuck to the back of the cellophane wrapper.
Mr. Sarmiento had a sticky situation of his own. 

 Hall of famer Rickey Henderson!
A few fun cards in the stack 
 the backs...

The highlights of the pack were these 4.