Wait til Next Year . . . is making a come back.

I am going to mix a bit of the philosophy of my life into this blog as I continue to highlight some of my baseball card collection. (hoping the card collectors of this world welcome me back)

Its been a tough 18 months for me . . . the Chicago Cubs have had it rough as well.

This site will be devoted to all those who need to define what "wait til next year" means.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1970 Topps: card # 10 Yaz

Carl Michaal Yastrzemski, card # 10 in the 1970 set; the first Hall of Famer and true "super star" of this set.

The son of polish immigrants, bi-lingual, raised on a potato farm, star basketball player (yes basketball, attending Notre Dame for a short while on a basketball scholarship), then signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1959 to embark on his historic baseball career.

Historic it was as pressure mounted for Yaz to supplant the great Ted Williams in left field and have to deal with the famed "Green Monster" at Fenway. After a mediocre rookie campaign, batting only .266 in 1961, Yaz made it his mission to improve and improve he did.

(this is one of the first cards that I will upgrade after I complete the set, note the crease bottom right)

From winning he batting title in 1963 with a .321 average, leading the league in doubles and finishing sixth in the MVP voting that year to his Triple Crown {.326 BA, 44 HR, 121 RBIS} and MVP year of 1967, to his first ballot hall of fame induction in 1989 appearing on 94.6 % of ballots, Yaz certainly did not disappoint any.

With so many remarkable moments in his career and career numbers in the top ten in many offensive categories (except homeruns) Yaz spent his entire 23 year career in a Boston uniform (his #8 was retired in 1989 as well). That feat deserves repeating; Yaztrzemski played twenty-three years in the same city, no other player (besides Brooks Robinson of the Orioles) has had a longer career with one team - ever. A record I do not foresee being challenged in today's marketplace.

Yaz was the first player in the AL ever to be a member of the 3000 hit and 400 homerun club, eighteen (18) times an all-star, seven (7) gold gloves and receiving votes for the MVP in 14 different years.
As noted on the back of his 1970's card, Yaz was the only "regular" player to hit .300 or higher in "the year of the pitcher" 1968, winning his third batting title.

Known for holding his unique batting stance, keeping his bat unusually high, giving him a long and powerful arc with added power at the plate, Yaz was able to hit 452 career HR's, with 1844 RBI's, 1157 extra base hits (including 646 doubles) to go along with 1845 walks (ranking 6th all time).

Carl Yastrzemski . . . Topps 1970 card # 10 . . . Boston Red Sock . . . Hall of Famer . . .

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ted Lilly . . . the next Greg Maddux ?

Don't even get me started . . . the answer is a resounding NO !

To be be fair, there may never be another Greg Maddux (355 wins, 8x all-star, better than a 3 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, 4 Cy Young awards, 18 x gold glove and 17 consecutive years with 15 + wins, future first ballot HOF'er) but . . . I just read an article, published by a "reputable" resource (to remain un-named for their safety) that compared Lilly to Maddux in this regard.

Yesterday's spring training game against the Indians (Cubs lost 7-5) where Lilly gave up two home runs to DeRosa (almost had a third if not for that tall wall) it was mentioned that Lilly was "setting up" DeRosa for later on in the season as Maddux had done throughout his career to perfection.

May I just suggest that Lilly is NO GREG MADDUX. Lilly might have been rusty, having pitched only 3 + innings in the WBC and DeRosa is a solid power hitter but Greg Maddux, is one of the greatest students of the game and in the top tier of smartest pitchers of this or any generation.

So to those "reputable" journalists out there . . . Dont insult Maddux . . . and don't put unrealistic expectations on any pitcher.

For the record, Ted Lilly is a solid pitcher; has three consecutive years of 15 + wins, hopefully will win # 100 this year, has a $ 10,000,000 contract and wears uniform # 30 (close to Maddux's #31) . . . but is NO GREG MADDUX !

Sunday, March 29, 2009

1970 Topps: # 9 Checklist

Can you say boring ? Yes that is exactly what the 1970 checklists are . . . simply boring.

There are seven (7) of these boring cards, in this set, each having the same drawing of a batter in the upper left corner, each listing upwards of 132 player names.

The only one interesting note is the red/yellow header on the front with the players names printed in black ink whereas the backs are the "normal" blue ink and yellow background.
A traditional checklist with tiny tiny printing, minuscule boxes . . . the best thing you can say about the Checklists of 1970 is . . . well . . . maybe nothing. And growing up in the generation of "if you can't say something nice, just dont say anything" . . . enough said . . .

Onward to tomorrow and card # 10 . . . the first HOF'er (of this set) and true superstar of the Boston Red Sox . . .

Born in 1960: Mike Marshall

for some of you (probably those over 40) I am speaking of the "other" Mike Marshall; not the 1974 Cy Young award winning relief pitcher for the Dodgers. This "other" Mike Marshall, born in 1960, was also a Dodger but throughout the eighties.

This Marshall spent the majority of his playing days in LA (1981-1989), was a one time all-star (1984) as well as earning a world series ring with the 1988 club.

Being born in 1960 is one thing he and I have in common. He was born in Libertyville Illinois and went to the local high school in Buffalo Grove, a town I moved to in 1987. No I never met him nor have anything else in common with him (kind of).

A career .270 hitter with 148 HR's, Marshall "greatest" accomplishment might have been in 1981 as a minor leaguer. He actually won the triple crown for the Albuquerque Dukes, the triple A team in the PCL; hitting .373, blasting 34 HR's and 137 RBI's. From there his promising career turned into a respectable utility role and 11 year MLB career.

A couple of footnotes to his career were:

a) he gained much unwanted "fame" for dating then rock-star Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go's (most currently of Dancing with the Stars)

b) when Harry Caray said that Marshall needed to get "back to LA to get some cocaine for his foot" . . . quickly corrected by booth partner Steve Stone saying "Harry, that's Novocaine"

c) and, in his very first at bat in September of 1981, he hit a rocket towards (over) the right field wall at Dodger Stadium. Being hit so hard, it bounced off the stairwell and right back onto the playing field where Jack Clark (of the S F Giants) scooped it up, threw it towards the infield and Marshall had a double. Not sure if it was days or years later but Clark did admit to Marshall that his first hit should have been called a homerun !

d) he also is included in my "duplicate initial" archive: M M

So there you have it . . . born in the same year as I, lived in the same town, dated a rock star (my wife was in high school and college theatre !) and hit a "homerun" in his first major league at bat. Not so bad for being the "other" Mike Marshall.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Somewhat new blog worthy of a look

I have recently come across a blog that I think is most interesting. While the primary theme may not be about cards, it does have a "vintage" feel to it and will certainly capture your sense of imagination (at least it has mine).

If you have ever thought about what baseball was like "way back when", like in 1924, I encourage you to take a look at 1924 and you are there

The blog started on February 5, 2009, this is the opening photo and the first sentence reads: "Welcome to a most unusual website. It is for lovers of pure baseball . . . "

I, for one, am a "lover of pure baseball" and this blog is now a daily read of mine.

1970 Topps: #8 Jose Martinez

Martinez had a short (ok short may be an over-statement, more like a blip) of a major league career. Born in 1942 in Cuba, being a speedy and reliable defensive infielder was not enough to keep his senior circuit membership.
While Martinez did have a reasonably sound year in 1969, helping out at second base for the injured Bill Mazeroski; hitting .268 in 77 games. He played in only 19 games in 1970 batting .050 and then baseball was in his past.

Jose Martinez, card # 8 from 1970; a Pittsburgh Pirate, a blip on the radar.

Friday, March 27, 2009

1970 Topps: #7 Indians Rookie Stars

The first Rookie Stars card from the 1970 set highlights two players who never really "made it". Sorry to those Indian bloggers out there but there will be "better" tribe cards to come later on in the set.
Gary Boyd played only in 1969, appearing in 8 games; giving up 11 earned runs in 11 innings pitched (that would be an era of 9.00). He also walked 14 batters and struck out 9. To make matters worse, Boyd actually played in his first game on August 1st and his last on September 26 - giving him a total of 57 days in the majors.

His card partner, Russ Nagelson did somewhat better. As a 14th round draft pick (the 272nd overall pick) out of Ohio State University in 1966, Nagelson enjoyed a three year (partial as it my have been) major league career. Appearing in 62 games (34 with Cleveland in 1968 thru 1970 and 28 with Detroit in 1970); he had 78 career at bats, 16 hits including 1 (yes one) homerun ! One positive though, his fielding percentage was 1.000 ! (committed zero errors in 13 games, 24 put outs - playing all three outfield positions and first base)

So the first Rookie Stars of 1970 are far from stars but each did have a "sip of coffee" as it is said and are card # 7 !

"I dont know" plays third

In that famous Abbott and Costello routine called "Who's on first", a guy named "what" is at second and "I dont know" plays third.

This 1974 Gary Matthews card # 386 has Matthews sliding into third with Coach McNamara either clapping his hands or has a look of disbelief and questioning Matthews' slide - I don't know.
I also don't know that guy standing at third. At first glance it looked like Ron Cey, floppy hair over the collar and a bit stocky, but in the seventies with the Dodgers, Cey wore uniform # 10 ! (though he did wear # 11 as a Cub, but not until the early eighties). So at second glance it might be a Chicago Cub, but Don Kessinger wore # 11 during those days and that is not Kessinger (he is tall and thin).

As an aside, this card arrived last week from Paul at Wrigley Wax, and is part of the 1973 Topps All-Star Rookie Team (cards of 1974) where Topps "accidentally" did not print that gold trophy on the cards in the 1974 set.

Can someone help me ? "I don't know" plays third !

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Package from Michigan

Last week I received a mailer from Paul at Wrigley Wax, a fellow Cubs fan, great contributor to the blogsophere and reader of many blogs. With the usual generosity of bloggers Paul sent me many cards from my "want list" and I am extremely happy to share this with all of you.

Paul helped out in two of my current conquests; the Topps 1970's set and the Topps All-Star Rookie cards (those with gold trophies) from the sixties and seventies.

He actually sent me nine (9) Topps 1970 cards, all of which I needed/wanted (you just have to really appreciate bloggers who actually look at ones "want lists") including the always hard to find Seattle Pilots team card # 713. I will be highlighting this card as I chronicle the entire set but as a teaser to say I really like the back of this card with the team leaders for the Pilots (alot of unknown players) along with the total team batting and pitching stats.

I dont want to share too many of these but I had to mention this Cubbie, Al Spangler # 714 (a member of the much cherished Cubs of 1969). While Paul knew I had this card, he also knows I am trying to put together a second set of the 1970 Cubs team as my first set is framed behind glass (note my first post and center piece of my collection).

Paul also sent eleven (11) different Topps All-star Rookie cards, 10 of which I needed (the only one I had was the 1972 Bill Buckner ad having an extra Buckner even though he is wearing Dodge blue is never a bad thing).
Here are a few:
1969 Gary Holman # 361: after his .294 BA in 1968 he deserved this gold trophy, however it must have gone to his head as Holman appeared in just 41 games in 1969 and called it a career.
1969 Dave Nelson # 579: a 10 year 4 team "journey man" and one-time all-star (1973 in Texas)
1969 Ken Boswell # 402: a "hated" Met ! That's all !

1975 Arnold Ray "Bake" McBride # 174: the NL ROY in 1974 did not disappoint; a career .299 BA, one time all-star (1976) and one World Series ring (1980 Phillie). Love those sideburns !

1975 Frank Tanana # 16: as Chris Berman dubbed him Frank Tanana "Daiquiri", had a 21 year career, 3X All-star (1976, 77, 78) and a 100+ mph fastball. His career numbers are impressive, 240-236 WL, 2773 strikeouts and over 4000 innings pitched.

Thank you Paul . . . for inching me closer to completing my 1970 set (currently at 675 / 720 or almost 94 %) and these Topps All-Star Rookies (some who made it !)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1970 Topps: #6 Grant Jackson

one of the most accepted definitions of a "journey man" in baseball would be someone who plays for several years (usually over 10), for a few different teams (usually over 3) and is deemed "valuable". I think it is important to add that any and every player on the 25 man roster is valuable and one who spends several years on a teams roster must be valuable.

Having said that, I present card #6 from the 1970 Topps set; Grant Jackson.

An 18 year veteran who played for six different teams (Phillies 1965-70, Orioles 71-76, NYY 76, Pirates 77-81 and 82, Expos 81 and Royals 82). A one-time all-star (1969), where in that year he had career high in wins (14), losses (18), innings pitched (253) and strikeouts (180).

Jackson played in 13 post season games, including three world series' (having won one ring in 1979 with Pittsburgh). His post season record of 3 - 0 in 17 2/3 innings is highlighted by being the winning pitching of record for game 7 in 1979. Jackson ended his career with a 86-75 W-L record to go aong with his 79 saves.

Grant Jackson, card #6 . . . a true valuable journeyman.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something is just not "right"

While I am not disappointed at all that Team USA lost in the semi-finals to Japan last night in the WBC, it just seems not "right" that this most North-American of games is now being "perfected" by countries that "we" taught. {It is like the French with their wines, the Irish with their Beer, Scotland with golf, Belgium chocolate, Russian Vodka, English soccer, China Gymnasts and Canadian Hockey.} It is just not "right" that the country who created and taught the world can now be considered second fiddle. Not being "right" does not make it "bad" . . .

I was happy that Team USA lost. Now lets get all those MLB players back in their regular team uniform, training with their "real" team and getting ready for the long 162 game season that will capture our attention for the next six months.

Speaking of cards that are just not "right" . . . I found this 1973 Frank Robinson.
No offense to my blogger friends who like the Dodgers, but Robinson does not look "right" in Dodger Blue - he looked much more "perfect" in Cincinnati Red or Oriole Orange. And another thing, his uniform # ! The only year in Robinson's HOF career he wore a number other than 20 - in LA with this # 36 (I know Don Sutton had uniform # 20 in 1972, but still - Frank Robinson had hit 500 HR's by this time in his career, 11 times an all-star, twice the MVP, ROY and Triple Crown winner in addition to being on his way to having # 20 retired by both the Reds and Orioles).

Another thing not "right" on this card, has the team of the California Angels listed below his name while he is wearing Dodger blue.

The world may not be "right" or perfect all of the time but that does not make it "bad".

Sunday, March 22, 2009

1970 Topps: card # 5

Maurice Wesley Parker; the first legitimate "star" that appears in this set as card number 5. Playing first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers for nine years, six consecutive gold gloves (1967 thru 1972 and one World Series ring (1965) is only part of his story.

Parker had a career batting average of .267 had 1110 hits, 64 HR's while driving in 470 runs. His best offensive year was in 1970 playing in a league leading 161 games, batting .319 with 111 RBI's and 47 doubles; coming in 5th in MVP voting that year as well. Defensively, Parker was phenomenal; not only those six gold gloves but he had a career fielding percentage of .996 ! In 2007, Parker was named to the Major League Baseball All-Time Gold Glove Team, being the only eligible member of the team who is not in the Hall of Fame.

Parker was part of a string of outstanding first baseman for the Dodgers, being sandwiched between Gil Hodges and Steve Garvey.

In typical Topps fashion for 1970 , the back of his card notes a non-baseball factoid stating that Parker "is an excellent bridge player".

Interesting to note is that after his life in baseball, Parker had a successful stint as an actor, about 12 years worth. He might be most known (in the crowd aged under 30) as "that ballplayer" that appeared in a Brady Bunch episode promising Greg Brady "two tickets to a game if he gets an A in math". He also had appearances in several other show including being the "star" in All that Glitters a show that ran in 1977.

A star on and off the field . . . . Wes Parker the first "star"card of 1970.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More from David

I have a long day (Saturday) ahead of me away from home - I am dealing in a (non-cash) poker tournament (yes I am a qualified texas hold'em and blackjack dealer) and there is this "big" event today in Sarasota. I know what you are saying, what is a guy in Florida dealing cards for (being indoors all day) when every day is sunshine . . . truth be told, beacuse everyday is sunshine it is ok . . . I still prefer cardboard to plastic.

So, I wanted to share a few more cards that came in the "goliath" of a package from David of Indian Baseball Cards and then some . . .

So generous was he that along with the many Cubs cards he sent he also sent about 20 Tampa Rays (Devil Rays) cards. Living in Sarasota gives me a "close" AL team to cheer for at times.

I like the 2007 A & G !

Is this a homerun swing or . . . is that ball speeding right over Crawford bat for strike three ? Nice Devil Ray card, 2006 Fleer Ultra # 50.

Two more favorites are:

a swell Rogers Hornsby(#137)

and a sliding Mickey Morandini (1999 Fleer Tradition)

Thank you again David !

Friday, March 20, 2009

MLB vs WGN ? !

Somewhere, somehow, someway I got very confused early this evening. Maybe a fellow Cubs fan or anyone else with WGN can help me.

In my early Friday evening remote control scanning I ended up on the MLB Network and the Cub vs Padres game was on. I thought to myself good for the MLB Network, broadcasting a a Cub game !

The game was in the top of the third inning with the Padres leading 2 to 1. At the end of the inning I went remote control scanning again and after about 50 channels and finding news, news, stock market, history, drama, infomercials, more news and more financial stuff to bore me greatly (it was a Friday night just waiting to go out), I came across WGN.

The Cubs / Padres game was on and it was in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Cubs were leading 4 to 2. Had I really spent three innings of channel surfing ? It seemed to be only 45 seconds or so !

Both WGN and the MLB Network were broadcasting the game but about 30 minutes delayed. I have heard of a seven second delay on tv but not three innings worth !

Does anyone have a rational answer to why this has happened or am I going to just chalk it up to an odd programming thing that confused the heck out of me. By the way the Cubs did win 5 - 3 an if I was a betting man I could have made some money on those only watching the MLB Network.

Thanks to WGN and MLB I got to watch an unofficial doubleheader.

A Goliath package from David

Yes it has taken me a little bit (too long and I apologize for that) to THANK YOU David from Indian Baseball Cards and then some . . . for the most generous of shipments I received last week.

Somehow he heard of my "want" of Cubs cards and satisfied that "want" with a load (over 100 cards spanning 47 years !)

Some of my favorites are:

Top Row: a 1962 Topps Jim Brewer # 191 (upper left corner); a great pose by Mitch Williams (top center) and my first Razor: Andrew Cashner.

Middle Row: three Alfonso Soriano's; 2007 Turkey Red, 2008 UD in black and white and 2008 UD Timeline. I hope you can notice the great eyeliner Soriano has.

Bottom Row: a 1991 Fleer Greg Maddux bunting and the 1993 Fleer League Leader with the Maddux powerful face pre-release, to my first O-Pee-Chee, 1991, of George Bell watching a lazy fly ball reach the Wrigley basket (or at least I think so).

Also included in the package were several Studio 1992's, Donruss 1992's, Donruss 1987's, several Topps Stadium cards of various years and many other cards including this 1985 Father-Son card of Dizzy and Steve Trout (got to love that hair !)

I will be posting another entry with more of my favorites from David, including some Tampa Bay Rays (Devil Rays) he sent along (living in Sarasota one must cheer for the Rays, sometimes).

Thank you David !

Thursday, March 19, 2009

my "31" cents worth

For us Chicago Cubs fans, May 3rd, 2009, will be a day for the history books. The Cubs are finally retiring uniform # 31. Though worn by several in Cubs lore, two pitchers who will now be forever remembered with this uniform are HOF'er Ferguson Jenkins and (soon to be HOF) 300 game winner Greg Maddux. Both boast over 3000 K's and fewer than 1000 walks !

This has been a long time waiting for Jenkins but having these two super stars in Cubs history share this honor is fitting. The # 31 will now fly proudly on the outfield pole along side; #10, #14, # 23 and # 26 !

Most would only pay a penny for my thoughts but I just gave you my "$ .31 cents worth".

1970 Topps: card # 4

Tom Egan, California Angels backup catcher. Egan had a ten year major league career, all but two with the Angels (1971 - 72 with the Chicago White Sox) and played in total of 373 games; yes only 373 games in 10 years. The epitome of a backup - playing only when the regular needed a rest or as a late inning substitute.
Egan had a career BA of only .200, hit 22 HR's (ten of which were in 1971, when he appeared in the most games of his career in one year at 85). Egan struck out 336 times in his career, almost one per game (not a very impressive statistic at all). At 6'4" and around 220 pounds, he was a "giant" in those days. Maybe he should have stayed with football as he was a high school all-american running back.
The back of his 1970 card highlights his defensive ability with the cartoon in the upper right; at the end of the 1969 campaign he had only made four errors in his five year career - playing in only 88 games though. He would conclude his career with only 27 errors, 1861 putouts and a .987 fielding percentage (not so great by any standards for a "defensive star" or backup).

So that is card # 4 for this 1970 set . . . slowly but surely . . . and at this pace, I should be done chronicling this set by March of 2011 !

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Action cards from 1971

Back in the "old" days, action cards were rare. Most photographs of players were posed or portrait style (aside from the few playoff game or world series cards that were featured in many sets).

So, in looking at my 1971 cards (inspired by a fellow blogger Dinged Corners and their "best text found on cards" post), I present the following "action cards from 1971.

There is the solo action card: B. Robinson commits Robbery! # 331

There are two player action cards: Chris Short # 511 (yes that is Pete Rose leading off at second base) and Cookie Rojas # 118 (with Yankee Ron Wood sliding into 2nd too late) and Lee May # 40 guarding first base with an unknown Phillie leading of.

Then there is a three person card: F Robinson shows Muscle #329 (congratulated by an unknown Oriole and the Umpire making sure he steps on home plate.

And a four person action card: Tommie Agee # 310 (looks like he is being called out at second) with two players and an umpire all "in action".

Now with the five person action card: Bud Harrelson # 355; tagging out a runner at second with the close eye of the umpire looking close and Nolan Ryan seems to be signaling him out.

And then the famous group shot of a "celebration" that really is not an "action shot.

So there you have it . . . a few action shots from 1971 . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"The Heater"

That was the nickname for Neal Heaton during his days at the University of Miami (1979-1981). Heaton was drafted 2nd by the Cleveland Indians (39th overall) in the 1981 draft and played for seven teams from 1982 until 1993. While his major league career record of 80-96, 4.37 era and 699 strikeouts do not accurately reflect his "heat" or potential; Heaton was actually the first UM player ever to be selected to a Major League All-Star game, 1990 (though did not play).
It was in college that Heaton was known to throw fire. The two-time All American won 42 games as a Hurricane and had 23 strikeouts in one game against Indiana State on March 10, 1981. He has had his #26 retired by the UM baseball team and elected to the UM Hall of Fame in 1992. With Coach Ron Fraser running the team like a "minor league show", attendance at Mark Light Stadium on the campus of UM was packed every night, especially when "the Heater" was on the mound.

At 6'1" and 200 lbs, Heaton was the "stud", "the sure thing", "a can't miss", a left handed fireballer who threw 93 mph. Originally drafted by the N Y Mets in 1979, they offered him a insultingly low signing bonus of only $ 35,000, and after rejecting it flat out, Heaton opted to attend Oklahoma State University in Stillwater OK. It was not very long until Ron Fraser (UM Coach) picked up the phone and coaxed Heaton into coming to Coral Gables.

Just one year prior to that unrelated event, in March 1978, I had visited the U and decided that is where I was going to spend "the best four years of my life". Living on fraternity row, which was right across the street from Mark Light Stadium, home games were "party time" in and out of the stadium. Many times we would sneak in during the between inning commotions (orchestrated by head coach Fraser, termed the P T Barnum of college baseball by Sports Illustrated in 1977) and watch our Hurricanes win day in and day out.

Back then . . . baseball was king in Coral Gables, Heaton was the stud on the mound and I did my best to survive the "best four years of my life".

1970 Topps: card # 3

Darrel Chaney, primarily a backup shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds (1969 - 1975) and the Atlanta Braves (1976-1979), was a solid defensive glove man and posted a career BA of .217.

This 1970 card # 3 is his official rookie card and Chaney did earn a World Series ring with the "Big Red " Machine of 1975 as he was the functional off the bench utility guy for Dave Concepcion. Interesting to note is that Chaney had more career triples (17) than homeruns (14). That is about the most "exciting" thing I could find about Chaney.

The top row of my first page of my 1970's binder is now posted. It really amazes me how "random" Topps was after card # 1 (World Champions) and then no rhyme or reason for the next cards, until the subsets of League Leaders (#61-72), League Playoffs (#195-202), WS (305-310)and All-Star cards 450-469). In some years to follow Topps used the first few cards for an exciting subset; (ie 1974 Aaron Special card, 1976 Record Breakers etc).

My journey continues on to my second row with guys like; Tom Egan, Wes Parker, and Grant Jackson and some "humorous" backs to follow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Topps 1970: card # 2

Diego Pablo Segui (pronounced say-gee) Gonzalez; played in the majors for 16 years, six different teams (ok seven if you count the KC and Oakland Athletics as two).

I am sure that 99 % of you have never heard of Diego Segui and would only recognize the last name attached to a guy named David, his son who played from 1990 to 2004. But the father (Diego) had a very interesting career.

As a right handed pitcher, his career numbers are: 92-111 with 1298 strikeouts and a 3.81 era. Nothing to brag about but he did lead the entire AL in 1970 with a 2.56 era.

Diego Segui is also the only major leaguer ever to play for both the Seattle teams; the one-year wonder Seattle Pilots in 1969 (having his most productive year going 12 - 6) AND the then new expansion team Seattle Mariners in 1977. He actually was the starting pitcher in their inaugural game in 1977 but retired at the end of the season going 0 - 7. { an interesting foonote: the Pilots and Mariners had identical records in their first year going 64 - 98 }

Here is a good example of the backs of the 1970 cards: as I said in my pre-view post, I like the color combination of blue and yellow - reminds me of outdoor day basball (the sky and sunshine). The cartoon image in the upper right was sometimes "humorous" (haha fork in the ball) and sometimes hobby related as we will see in some later posts.

Diego Segui; card # 2 for 1970 . . . the first Pilot . . . and then the first Mariner . . .

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Squat, Watch and Wave

In my typical Sunday afternoon attempt to organize and put some cards away these three words were the best I could come up with to describe the following:

SQUAT: 1958 Topps Chuck Tanner

WATCH: 2009 Topps Geovanny Soto

WAVE: 2009 Topps Kosuke Fukudome

Did I mention these three cards were part of the great package of CUBS cards, spanning 51 years, I received last week from Night Owl ? Well now I did - Thanks Night Owl for this squat, watch and wave !

1970 Topps: card # 1

In the first official card post for my project of exposing the entire 1970 Topps basic set (all 720 cards I hope) is card numbered 1: World Champions.
I know, in a previous post I put this as one of my least favorite cards but that was strictly personal - it is the #1 card in this set so I must. Interesting to note that in 1970, 71 and 72 Topps decided to put the Team card of the World Series winner as the first card. (they also did this in 1967). I like that tradition rather than a random card placed first - though I dont like having the Mets as the World Champions for 1969 it is a nice honor to have for the team.
The back of the card is interesting as well, listing all the "all-time" Met leaders in several categories (their first year as a franchise was in 1962, just a mere 8 years of history). Tom Seaver litters the pitching record list, go figure. Also on the back gives a year by year record of the team since 1962; tenth, tenth, tenth, tenth, ninth, tenth, ninth and . . . . first.

One down . . . 719 to go . . .

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Topps 1970 set preview

For those of you who read my blog regularly (or semi-regularly) you probably know the following (or not):
a) my favorite team are the Chicago Cubs
b) my favorite baseball year is 1969 (from my youth of course, which makes me "old"er than most)
c) am working (using the slow and low budget method) on completing the 1970 Topps basic set (currently at 667 / 720 or 92.6 %)
d) the centerpiece of my collection are the 1970 cards (of the 1969 Cubs) framed alongside the pennant that never came true (please note my very first post in December of 2008)
e) am constantly in awe of the "modern" collectors and the number of sets, subsets, variations, short prints, manufacturers, parallels, abbreviations, redemption's, autographs, reprints, black, gold, chrome, platinum and etc etc
f) prefer the simple days of yester-year and collecting being a "fun" hobby and not discussions of value or the "investment"

Having said all of this, I do love this new forum termed the blogsophere and learning (and sharing) so much about a game and hobby I do enjoy.

So in another attempt at stealing an idea, I will be highlighting the Topps 1970 set, card by card (in order). This will give me more of a focus on my "vintage" posts and hopefully persoanl motivation to complete this set.

A few comments about the 1970 set. I like it ! It will not be known as the favorite set design of all-time but the large photo outlined with a white border (yes mostly posed and portrait style, which was the norm from that day) to the gray border is appealing. The team name is bold, capitalized and clean looking, the players name in script (adds a touch of class) with their position spelled out. Nothing fancy, nothing unique, nothing spectacular - just nice, clean and grey.

The backs are the very "day baseball" colors of the sky and sun; bright yellow and blue. Day baseball as in outdoor baseball. Most cards also feature a cartoon / comic about the player, the basic nine statistics of the game and the players entire career (sometimes even with minor league and gaps described). I will scan several backs (of selected players) to give you a good sample of these as well.

The set also boasts Rookie Cards of Vida Blue/Gene Tenace (#21), Thurman Munson (#189), Bill Buckner (#286), Larry Bowa (#539), and Darrel Evans (#621) with HOF's galore in the League Leader and All-Star cards.

So this is my preview of a new "irregular special feature" of mine, highlighting card by card the "grey flannel" set of 1970.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jim Abbott: still an inspiration to many

I have been meaning to do a post on Jim Abbott for some time now and so here goes . . .

For those of you too young to remember, Jim Abbott was born without a right hand yet became a two sport high school star athlete in Flint Michigan; excelling in both American football (yes he played quarterback and led his team to two state championships) and baseball of course. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 36th round of the draft in 1985 but opted to enter the University of Michigan instead.

1989 Topps # 573: I like this card showcasing the Michigan uniform and the Angels logo
as Abbott is indeed a solid # 1 draft pick

He led Michigan to two Big Ten Championships and in 1987 won the James E Sullivan Award for being the nations best amateur athlete. He was the first baseball player and remains the only baseball player to have ever won this award. In 1988, the California Angels made Abboott the 8th player chosen in first round. 1988 was also the year Abbott led the USA to a Gold Medal in the summer Olympics held in Seoul South Korea.

1989 Topps Traded # 11: a USA Olympian

Never pitching in the minors, Abbott went straight to the majors and his rookie season went 12-12 for the Angels, coming in fifth in the ROY award. After four seasons in California, Abbott was traded to the New York Yankees in December of 1992 and on September 4th, 1993 had his "day to remember forever" as he pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.

1990 Score # 330: a good shot of how Abbott uses his right arm to cradle his glove as he pitches

His last year in the majors was with the Milwaukee Brewers, the only NL team he played for and had to actually stand in the batters box. While he was able to hit the ball over the fence during BP, during the 1999 campaign he did get 2 hits in 21 at bats (coincidentally both off Jon Leiber of the N Y Yankees).

Throughout Abbotts career, teams tried to take advantage of his unusual situation (that of only having one hand) and it proved to be unsuccessful. Abbott defense was as solid as his pitching and actually had a lifetime .976 fielding percentage (having four years of perfect fielding).

Abbotts professional career was not spectacular, going 87-108 with a 4.25 career ERA. However, Jim Abbott will always be remembered for his courage and inspiration to all who saw him play. Today, he continues to be that as he has turned to motivational speaking. Thank you Jim Abbott for what you did for baseball in the late eighties - I know many have been and will continue to be inspired by you.

Friday the 13th

I am being superstitious today and jumping on the bandwagon along with 25 million other Americans that will change ones behaviour today.

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina, many people will stay away from shopping malls and wont set foot on an airplane today. Many others wont leave their home in "fear" of bad luck and in their avoidance of black cats and ladders. The overall cost (loss of business) is estimated to be close to $ 800 million.

This only means that the roads will be quieter, the mall might be empty and the airport less crowded. Maybe I will take my car to the mall, buy a black cat and head towards the airport . . . or not.

Maybe I will just not scan any baseball cards today . . . that will be the extent of "my change of behaviour".

Happy Friday the 13th to everyone . . . Happy weekend (coming soon) . . .

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ripped-off Post continued: the All-Steve team

As many of you have been reading about the All-"state your name" pots the last few days I thought I would give it a try myself. It was not as easy as one would think with a common name like Steve but here goes: my All-Steve team.

I must start with my pitchers; this will be the team strength boasting a starting rotation of four, two righties and two lefties with 671 career wins and 7623 strikeouts !
LHP: Steve Carlton (HOF, 329 career wins, 4136 K's and the key to this team)
LHP: Steve Avery (career 96 wins and 980 K's)
RHP: Steve Trachsel (former Cub and career 143 wins / 1591 K's)
RHP: Steve Blass (103 wins and 896 K's)

In the bullpen will be:
Steve Howe
Steve Reed (every team needs a submarine pitcher)
Steve Searcy
Steve Trout (former Cub)
Steve Ontiveros (same name as bench player but different person)
Steve Busby
Steve Bedrosian

As far as the defense goes:
the outfield
Steve Kemp
Steve Henderson
Steve Hosey (1st round draft pick that never made it - I am giving him a second chance)
the infield
3B: Steve Buechele
SS: Vern Stephens (please allow this last name liberty; he was an 8x all-star with 247 HR's during his career 1941-55)
2B: Steve Sax
1B: Steve Garvey
C: Steve Yeager

off the bench:
Steve Ontiveros (former Cub and the more well known of the two same name players)
Steve Lake (former Cub)
Steve Swisher (former Cub)

So as you can imagine we wont score many runs, have limited power, little speed, short resources on the bench but . . . we do have starting pitching ! We also have too many Cubs and Dodgers represented but . . . did I mention we do have starting pitching !

If we ever do make it to the All-"state your name" Team playoffs, rest assured we will be "cursed" with our favorite fan rooting us on in the front row . . . Steve Bartman. And in the booth announcing the games will be former Cub, Cy Young award winner Steve Stone (he will have his uniform ready in case of injuries)

Have mentioned our starting pitching . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Born in 1960: Mel Hall

. . . such promise never attained . . . not fast (only 31 career stolen bases and 25 career triples), limited power (134 homeruns in over 11 years) and now under investigation for sexual assault.

Mel Hall made some spectacular catches in the outfield, mostly because of his slow start at the ball, playing out of position or his desire to be flashy. Talk about someone who played baseball for all the wrong reasons . . .

This 1984 Topps card # 508 shows Hall running . . . probably from the law . . . take the cap off and his mugshot is right there too.

Hall did have a solid minor league career; hitting 32 HR's, driving in 125 runs and batting .325 in 1981 for the Cubs minor league affiliate in Iowa . . . that was his career highlight . . .

Played for the Cubs (1981 - 84), the Indians (1984-86), Yankees (1989-1992), two teams in Japan and retired in a San Fransisco Giant uniform in 1996.

Not much else to say except; he was a disappointing Cub and born in 1960 (being that is a "special irregular feature of mine). Next player presented will be of more notable worthiness.

Cubs Leaders from 1986 ?

An unexpected benefit of collecting baseball cards and this new world of blogging, one gets the opportunity to look back and report on history. Though most of my collection is "stuck in the sixties and seventies" I have recently discovered a new appreciation for the "modern" cards as well.

So I was looking at my Cubs cards from that overproduced wood grain border set of 1987 (I know that set does not constitute "vintage" or "modern" but nonetheless it is "history").

One card popped out like a sore thumb to me: the Cubs Leaders card # 581. For the record the Cubs were lousy in 1986, posting a 70-90 record and coming in fifth in the NL East.
While this card displays the back of Ron Cey and Steve Trout (two nice guys), makes me stop ad wonder what they were actually talking about but in either case neither of them were team leaders in any major category. The back of this card lists all the leaders in various categories and no mention of Cey or Trout anywhere.
In doing some extra research I did find this:
Cey led the team in games played at third base with 77
Trout led the team in "intentional base on balls" with 13
So that's it . . . two players who contributed nicely for the 1984 NL East Division Championship team; with Cey leading the team in HR's and RBI's and Trout going 13-7 (yes that 1984 team)but team leaders from 1986 . . . not !