Friday, September 29, 2017

A Very Special Future's So Bright Fridays

The Future's So Bright - Darell Porter's Gotta Wear Shades.

These guys know what's up - the sun. From which we need eye protection!

But Big Bart knows that even the Moon can be too bright, if the timing is juuust right.

Topps NOW, you so crazy.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Underappreciated But Not Forgotten

I don't have many from this set, but I feel like 1951 Topps gets overlooked. They don't fit the usual profile for Topps, they are a pretty small set, and they lack the comprehensive stats that would become a signature of Topps' later offerings. But they have a certain elegance, and the simple bold colors just look good. The cards have a real heft to them, and they were obviously built to play.

Twig looks like a baby compared to the coach I remember with the Twins in the 80s and the Saint Paul Saints after that.

Kluszewski was still quite young here, but already a force of nature.

Probably my favorite of the red backs, Monte Irvin hasn't gotten nearly the coverage of Jackie or Larry Doby. He was a bit older when he made it to the big leagues, losing out because of baseball's color line. He may have been every bit as good as his teammate Willie Mays, but he was born too soon to be able to prove it.

If you look closely you can see how the cards came in packs of two, joined on one edge. The perforations are still barely visible, even this long after they were torn apart.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Going Out on a High Note

It took a couple weeks, but I finally found some of the Heritage High Numbers. The Force is strong with Hector.

Two current and two former Twins. Turner was a Rule V draftee, and Danny Santana was traded over to Atlanta back in May.

Found both of these Now and Then inserts, and they look almost identical. Fernando Rodney is the king of cool and Zimmer is rocking the shades.

Despite the rivalry with the Twins, I can honestly say that Cleveland had some of the better cards this time around. I am a big fan of the Reds mascot, Mr. Redlegs. He looks psychotic.

The "best" pull in the packs - a Cody Bellinger insert. I think I'll hold onto this one for a little while.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

NOW With Clever Nicknames

Players Weekend was quite some time ago now - it feels even longer given the exciting finish to the 2017 season. The Twins were north of the border in Toronto, and they were struggling to keep pace with the Blue Jays bats. They did manage to have some impressive highlights.

But the appeal of Player's Weekend was the customization and flair that the players were allowed for once. Too bad the photo of Rosario crops out his socks, they were something else.

That certainly stands out! 

Joe Mauer disappointed by opting for the nickname "Mauer," so I won't bother showing the back of that one. Next year, maybe Joe could consider "Well Played" for his jersey. "Baudido" roughly translates to Bandit. The curious can read about the rest of the Twins nicknames here. My favorite was Miguel Sano's "Boqueton" which means Big Mouth. Bartolo Colon opted for a tribute to his late mother instead of "Big Sexy," I think he made the right choice.

The Players' Weekend (ok, I think I've covered all the possible iteration Players, Player's, and Players') was also a big series for Byron Buxton, who's absolutely crushed Blue Jay pitching in his young career. The ball was jumping off his bat on the Saturday game, when he hit 3 homers.

Around the same time as these cards, another Topps NOW gem arrived. Byron's been busy! I can't tell you how long it would take me to circle the bases, but I can pretty much promise you that 14 seconds would not be enough. Buxton absolutely burns up the basepaths, I don't think I've ever seen a baseball player run so fast before.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Lifetime Supply

Charlie from Lifetime Topps Project sent over a salvo of junk wax that hit all the corners of my modern wantlists.

Collector's Choice was extremely well-represented, and hey, check out the DH getting some reps on the mound! Steady Eddie only threw right, though he batted lefty and righty. Not a lot of switching hitting pitcher/DH types out there.

Just a tremendous set, the 90s had some really high peaks for all the crazy stuff that came to life in the card world.

There were several Pucketts included, I've got to work my way through my want lists to check these all off.

1996 Score is another set that just seems to get better each time I look at it.

See? I go back and forth on the Kenny Rogers card - it's definitely a bold way to highlight his no-hitter.

This is just a small sample of all the greatness that Charlie sent over, I will be scouring my collection to find some good stuff to send back. Thanks again!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Foldout (selected cuts)

the scanner cut this off at the bottom a bit

Mark Hoyle sent out a message on Twitter that he had an extra set of 1983 Topps Foldouts that he was making into individual players. I jumped at the chance to add some Twins, but unfortunately, Topps did not. There were no current Twins in the set.

Here's Bert's 1983 Topps card for reference- The foldouts are roughly the size of a postcard.

Hall of Famer and former Twin Rod Carew. Love the background of various people milling around during batting practice. I wonder if this show was taken at an All-Star Game?

The back side also has a photo, as the foldouts came with 17 images on each "card" folded accordion-style. Mark will know why it was an odd number, there must have been a checklist or title card at one end of the accordion. 3 former Twins and an Iorg! Thanks to Mark for mailing these to me, I should have a PWE to send you this week.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

1972 Topps All-Star Rookie Team

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1972 season and featured in the 1973 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2017 Series One, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

This was the start of a terrible phenomenon - Topps no longer cared about recognizing the Topps Rookie All-Star squad in a consistent manner. Missing trophies this year are 1B Tom Hutton of Philadelphia, OF Don Baylor of Baltimore, OF Garry Maddox of San Francisco, and Right Handed Pitcher Dick Tidrow.  

Outfield - Buddy Bell 
Rookie Card
David Gus "Buddy" Bell is the meat of the Bell Baseball Family sandwich. His father, Gus, was a 4-time All-Star outfielder for 14 years in the majors, playing for Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, the Mets, and the Braves. Buddy's sons, David and Mike, also played in the majors. David and Gus are the only Grandpa/Grandson combo to both hit for the cycle in MLB history. But back to the man of the hour, Buddy Bell. A recent article in The Sporting News compares him to Adrian Beltre. While Bell can't match Beltre's longevity and counting stats, he did make a case for himself as one of the most underrated third basemen in Baseball history. He had over 2500 career hits, 6 Gold Gloves, and 5 All-Star selections. Bell never played a single postseason game, which certainly counted against his Hall of Fame credentials.  
His rookie season in Cleveland was the only year he played the outfield, and he was a little below league average (an OPS+ of 97), hitting 21 doubles and 9 homers. He moved to third in his sophomore season, and really took off. His best season was in 1979 with the Texas Rangers, hitting a career high 200 hits, 42 of them two-baggers. After his playing days, he managed several clubs. He was tasked with replacing Sparky Anderson in Detroit, and Jim Leyland in Colorado. His teams only had a winning record once in 9 seasons, finishing with a career winning percentage of .418. He is currently the VP and Assistant General Manager of the Chicago White Sox.

Left Handed Pitcher - Jon Matlack
Speaking of underrated players, Jon Matlack's SABR biography starts with the statement that he is the most underappreciated hurler in New York Mets' history. When surrounded by Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, it's easy to overlook Matlack, even though he was the tallest of the 3. His career pitching record of 125 wins and 126 losses doesn't thrill anyone, but looking closer his record obscured his talent. Take the 1974 season. He finished with a 13-15 record, but led the league with 7 shutouts. His ERA+ was 149, his ERA was 2.41, his FIP was a league leading 2.42 and he fanned 195 batters. The 1974 NL Cy Young Winner was super reliever Mike Marshall of the Dodgers. Marshall was slightly behind Matlack in ERA, FIP, Strikeouts, and was well behind in ERA+. Marshall did appear in over 100 games, and led the league in saves while have a tremendous season. The point is that Matlack did not receive a single Cy Young vote, largely due to the ugly 13-15 record. Even though it was the highest of all National League pitchers, Matlack's 9.1 WAR for the season was not considered (why would it, though, in 1974?). Matlack could have become a household name if he had a little bit more run support. 
In 1972 he was the Rookie of the Year in the National League, maybe he used up all his media attention in his first year. He won 15 games including 4 shutouts, striking out 169 batters with a low ERA of 2.32.   
Jon's Rookie Card is in the 1971 Topps set - he shares card #648 with Ted Martinez and Rich Folkers 

Third Baseman - Dave Roberts
Rookie Card
After a pair of underrated players, we come to one that never lived up to the hype placed upon him. Dave Roberts, not to be confused with 70's Pirates outfielder Dave Roberts, 70's Padres/Astros Pitcher Dave Roberts, or current Dodger Manager and former MLB outfielder Dave Roberts - THIS Dave Roberts was the first overall draft pick in June of 1972. Just days after being drafted, Roberts was in uniform for San Diego. Inserted into the game against the Pirates in the 12th inning of a scoreless tie, he managed to go 0-3 with a pair of strikeouts in an 18 inning marathon. A few days later he got his first start and fared better, going 2-4 with a double. He would become the everyday third baseman for the Friars, appearing in 100 games his rookie season. He was just the 6th major leaguer to jump directly to the big leagues with no minor league experience. He would eventually get 5 years worth of minor league games, including the entire 1976 season. The Padres definitely rushed him to the majors, and his game never really developed. 
His rookie year was relatively underwhelming, but the promise of the future was more than enough for the youth of America to select him as the 3B for the Topps Rookie All-Star squad.

Second Baseman - Jack Brohamer
Rookie Card
Brohamer's rookie season was the high point of his career, playing the most games, getting the most hits, etc. The "short" point of his career came in August of 1976 as a member of the Chicago White Sox. Facing off against lefty Rudy May of Baltimore, Brohamer cracked a two-run homer to right. It was his 7th and final homer of the 1976 season, but it was the only MLB homer ever - by anyone - hit while wearing shorts. The story of the game can be read here, it's a great article.
The backs! Jack builds engines for Oil Well pumps.

"Scrappy Jack" managed 123 hits for Cleveland in 1972, splitting time between 2nd and Short. He played in the majors until 1980, spending 9 seasons with Cleveland and both Sox, White and Red.

Catcher - Carlton Fisk
Hall of Famer
One of those things you might not have guessed about Carlton Fisk, if you weren't around to see him play as a rookie - he won the 1972 AL Rookie of the Year award while leading the league in triplesHis home run in the 1975 World Series was a watershed moment in Boston sports history, as well as in the history of televised sports. My own memories of Fisk skew towards the end of his career, shouting at Deion Sanders or just looking like a film version of "aging veteran catcher" for the Chicago White Sox. He retired with the most runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs and most games played by a catcher in Major League history. Fisk played with broken ribs, recovered from major injuries to his knees and a broken forearm early in his career, and served as an example to many of the "right way to play the game." His critics saw his deliberate, slow home run trot as more arrogant than regal, but regardless of anyone's opinion, his numbers ultimately did the talking for him.
As a rookie, in addition to leading the AL in triples, he clubbed 22 homers, made the All-Star team, and won his first -and only- Gold Glove award. 
Carlton's Rookie Card is in the 1972 Topps set - he shares card #79 with Cecil Cooper and Mike Garman

Short Stop - Dwain Anderson
This should be Bobby Grich, not Dwain Anderson... Anderson has 62 career hits over 4 seasons as utility infielder. In 1972, Anderson only played in 60 games (for two different teams... ) and managed just 36 hits. Grich on the other hand, was an All-Star with 123 hits, 12 homers, and a .278 average... What gives, Topps? No offense intended to Mr. Anderson, the Oakland native was considered a top prospect in the A's system and was known for solid defense at short. I just don't see what was remarkable about his 1972 season that made him stand out compared to other rookies that year. Grich, Derrel Thomas, Steve Brye.... Any of those guys would've made more sense to me!
Dwain's Rookie Card is in the 1972 Topps set - he shares card #268 with Chris Floethe

Friday, September 15, 2017

It's Like Trading With a Card Shop

Daniel from It's Like Having My Own Card Shop posted on Twitter that he had just busted a box 1991 Topps Archives (the 1953 set reprinted), but the collation was predictably terrible. I had a bunch of doubles myself from a similar attempt I made on that set a few years back, so I reached out to him and sent over what I had, along with some Diamondbacks. Here's the return package!

A bevy of Beltres!

An even bigger bombardment of Bondses!

Some horizontal heroes!

This card is numbered to 75 - it's amazing to me that all three guys are still in the league, 10 seasons later. Mauer's the only guy still with his original team, but all three are still contributing at the highest level.

Thanks Daniel, this was a really fun blind trade!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Face to Face

I've been buying some cards regularly (about once a month or so) from a seller on Facebook, and it's been working out pretty well for me. I was skeptical at first, but now I've purchased cards from this same seller 5 or 6 times now and the cards have always arrived, and the prices are competitive with what I find for Twins at my local card shops and card shows. I can probably get better deals if I hustled for these same cards on eBay, but to be honest, I'm paying as much for the leg work as anything else.

This seller will contact me and send a bunch of photos. I pick out the cards that I like, we negotiate a fair price, and that's all. By finding a short stack of Twins for me, I generally can get a good deal by buying several at once. No drama if a card is not for me, I just politely decline and we move on.

This Pinto card was tossed in as an extra this time around, even though he was up front about when he was shipping, he still felt that it took longer than usual to get the cards to me.

I also asked about Ichiro and Beltre cards, as I was looking to add a few more to my collection.

A game used base!

I think it is right to be a little wary of these. Playoff went so far as to show a photo of the actual base, as well as a blurb about the game in which the base appeared. The game was at Dodger Stadium, Ichiro went 1-4 with his 20th double of his rookie season. He was hit by a pitch as well, and scored a run. That means he spent a little time at every base in the game. The Mariners won 9-2.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Honus Bonus PWE

Jim from cards as i see them aka gcrl slapped a stamp on an envelope and shipped it across town to me this week. A welcome addition to my Twins collection was this Jorge Polanco from Series 2

My first taste of Honus Bonus - these cards are high quality - thick cardstock with a glossy finish on the front - halfway between a standard card and heritage would be my guess.

In addition to Mighty Mouse (Escobar) there was Mighty Mauer, who's finally climbing above the .300 mark in hitting - it's a welcome return to form for the former MVP.

Jim also tossed in this Chrome Mauer. Thanks Jim!