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.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
This 1991 UpperDeck of Dave Smith #704, depicts him sitting casually on a folding chair doing an interview for WBBM NewsRadio. He has a half smile, his shoes are untied, has a cup of water (I am guessing) and just seems to be his normal "likable" self.
The interviewer has his finger pointing at Smith, as if he might have just said "good answer", is wearing argyle socks and what look like velcro shoes (or slippers).
The back of this card can be deemed fair at best. Only five of his eleven years of stats appear and the horizontal photo of his almost release shows a good two finger grip and grimace on his face but UD 1991 was not known for their card backs (nor the fronts for that matter either).
This card intrigued me because I remember Smith as a "bust-out" for the Cubs in 1991 and 1992 (going 0 - 6 with 17 saves while earning over $ 2 million a year) and was amused at the "interview" being portrayed on the card.
Smith did have several "great" years as a member of the Houston Astro's from 1980 - 1990. A two-time All-Star ('86 and '90) Smith is number two on the Astro all-time save list with 199 career saves. His change-up was once unhittable and he was voted onto the All Astro Dome team in 1999 upon the closing of that stadium. Smith had then gone on to coach for the San Diego Padres for several years.
The sad part about this is that Dave Smith passed away from a sudden heart attack in December 2008 at the very young age of 53. I still like this unique card and wonder what questions would have been asked if one only knew how short his life would be.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
An immediate qualifier is needed. I was at the book store looking for a high school graduation present for my most favorite teenager (other than my own daughter) and prior to checking out I stumbled by a bargain bin. As any baseball card show goer knows, we stop at all bargain bins anywhere and everywhere and lo and behold I found this most interesting book.
This book is NOT a novel of any sort, it has more space allocated to the photos than words and is filled with little appreciated "facts" describing more than 150 of baseball firsts. My kind of book.
A historical presentation as many of baseball's first were prior to the turn of the 20th century but author Lloyd Johnson does a very nice job of bringing in many "modern" day firsts as well.
There are only three chapters: 1 - Players; 2 - Leagues and Teams; 3 - The Game.
A couple of interesting (at least to me) firsts are:
The first Manager to endorse a nutrient drink ? answer: Charles Comisky in the 1880's as he led the St Louis Browns to four straight pennants with this unknown secret clubhouse drink.
The first player to wear his birthday on his back ? answer: Carlos May in 1968 wore uniform # 17 (his birthday is May 17).
The first player to wear a batting helmet ? answer: Willie Wells, a Negro League Hall of Fame shortstop, put on a miners helmet in 1905 to protect himself as he was known to lean his upper body (and head) directly over the plate in the strike zone.
This book has so many tidbits of baseball lore (firsts) that I just could not pass it up as I headed to the check out line. A bargain bin book purchase find at $ 1.99 was a baseball first for me.
It all started last Sunday, May 25 when my daughter returned to the USA from her almost one year in Finland. She left August 2, 2008 participating in the Rotary Youth Exchange program for high school students and after ten months of emails, IM's, Skype and old fashioned letter writing the HUGS we got at the airport at 6:25 pm last Sunday will be cherished forever. As our only child, we missed her terribly.
Jennifer, endured the cold and dark yet remarkable country of Finland. She attend the local University in Kuopio, stayed with four different families, traveled to Amsterdam, Paris, Sweden, Lapland and the Canary Islands and you all can read about her adventure if you so choose Jenny's Journal from Finland If any of you have children in high school, I highly recommend contacting your local Rotary club to get more information about this extraordinary program for your teenager.
This week has been a wonderful "reunion" with family and friends who all want to see Jennifer and more importantly for my wife and I getting to know our worldly and beautiful daughter all over again.
Monday was Memorial Day. We "celebrated and honored" our veterans which culminated with a red, white and blue food fest at our home with friends.
On Tuesday, after a day of rest and unpacking I gave my daughter her binder of 1991 baseball cards (thank you to the many bloggers who sent cards) and she was quite impressed. Her favorite color is yellow so naturally the 1991 Fleer is her "favorite" and she wants the complete set now. Though I acquired only about 100 cards, I may just have to spend $5 (or less) to buy the complete set for her. She also loves the "inappropriate" 1991 Score Dream Team and the 1991 Studio cards. She will never really be into collecting or really interested in baseball but she does like the color yellow and "cute guys".
Wednesday and Thursday were your non-descript regular weekdays though we are continuing to learn all about Jennifers year in Kuopio (the small town she lived in for ten months, five hours north of Helsinki).
Friday, my daughters bestest girlfriends threw her a party and all these teenagers had a wonderful get together; swimming, hot tub, food galore, silly string and laughter. A real nice reunion for my daughter who got to see so many she had missed.
Today is Saturday and my favorite teenager (besides my daughter) is graduating high school. She is a cancer survivor and my hero. I am so proud of her and is my motivation to continue participating in the ACS's Relay for Life for the rest of my life. Kimberly is a Harry Potter and now Twilight groupie, a lego, rubik cube and jigsaw puzzle genius, a superb photographer and has graduated with honors. Kimmy you are my hero !
and finally tomorrow, Sunday, will be here soon and I just heard that the re-broadcast of Ken Burns' Baseball will be on tv again. I remember watching this 18 1/2 hour historical and emotional mini-series in 1994 when it first premiered and highly recommend to any and all of you. It is not a highlight film of all the greatest moments in baseball; however it is the story of how our favorite game became our national pastime and is all about the personalities and "life" of baseball from the beginning.
So, for me, what a week it is: from my daughters return to the return of a Baseball classic . . .
Friday, May 29, 2009
A surprise package arrived in my mailbox a few days back (actually on May 16 my birthday, though Greg did not know that). I was extremely pleased to find this bubble mailer / surprise birthday present filled with Cubs cards galore.
Some of my favorites include the Sammy Sosa Christmas 2000 card (second from left in top row with red bow), the 2008 Goudey Kosuke Fukudome Rookie card (fourth card in top row) and two 1992 BCM cards depicting the 1970 style of Matt Williams and the Astro Rookie Stars; Bowen and Juden (fifth and sixth cards second row) .
I have to admit that since my scanner has not been working recently and my camera skills are less than adequate the above does not reflect the true appreciation of what was sent. Over 25 cards from 2008 Heritage to 1988 mini to to 1997 Pinnacle to 2009 UD. A great selection.
As birthday surprises go, it was the best. Thank you Night Owl !
Thursday, May 28, 2009
My luck and a most generous award was sent to me; the entire base set of the 2008 Allen & Ginter's includng SP's (350 cards) as well as the 50 state cards. Naturally I was and still am shocked yet very pleased.
This first picture showcases 11 inches of A & G (I was going to title this post "the 11 inch gift" but opted not to). These cards for those who are not familiar are an extra thick off-white card stock depicting artwork of every player.
A few of my favorite horizontal cards are the "Babe Ruth HR point" of Jim Thome, "leading off" of Ryan Braun, the "bat behind the back stretch" of Justin Morneau and the "airborne catch" of Eric Byrnes.
Most of the cards are actually the vertical style like "why are my eyes glancing to the left" from Greg Maddux, "in full gear" Jason Varitek and a nice "look over my shoulder" Edwin Encarnacion.
This set is extra special for a number of reasons and one of those are the non-baseball cards within the set. Such as top row of: Pablo Picaso, Jeff King (of Iditarod fame), Benjamin Franklin
and the bottom row of Billy Mitchell (Pac-Man champion), Joey Chestnut (hot dog eating champ) and Frank Morris (Rubik Cube fame).
A & G also had several sub-sets and one of the most popular are the state cards of which BadWax included. These cards are of even a heavier card stock than the base set and boast of a player from each state.
Three of special note are: Illinois - Curtis Granderson (I lived in Illinois for 42 years); Florida - Lastings Milledge (currently live in Florida) and Alaska - Curt Shilling (I never knew Alaska even had baseball).
This set is now going into a special binder, centered in my binder shelf and will be forever treasured as a most special set from a most generous "quarter million" blogger. Thank you BadWax !
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
That being said, two cards came to me from Jim at GCRL that are worthy of a "special" designation. First of all they came from a very generous blogger and that always makes a card special - thank you again, Jim.
Secondly, both of these cards are Dodgers; ok true, not my favorite team by a long shot but coming from a Dodger fan makes them special as well. Many of us get flooded with cards of our favorite team's so when cards come from the senders favorite team, it should be noted as "special".
Probably not as important as the two reasons above but both of these cards are what I have termed as a "Clemente-ism" (look at some previous posts under my irregular special feature onthe right, if you need a explanation of what I mean).
And this 1986 Steve Yeager # 32 after fourteen years as a Dodger has his total career homeruns at exactly 100 !
You will have to believe me because I purposely did not show the backs of these cards in hopes that some of you might look at your own collections and see if you can find any other "Clemente-isms", just to designate them "special" too.
And finally these two cards are special because they are Steve's . . . and anyone with the first name Steve in my book is "special".
Monday, May 18, 2009
So, I sent out a handful of Tiger cards from the years 1966, 68, 71 and a Rusty Staub from 1979 any Tiger fan should appreciate (vintage or otherwise). In return I got a bunch of Cubs cards ranging in year from 1961 to 1975 including 5 cards from 1970 which is helping me put together another team set.
This mystery reader also looked at my want list and included three Topps All-Star cards I needed; a 1966 Marcelino Lopez of the Angels # 155, a 1972 Chris Chambliss of the Indians # 142 and the 1973 Jon Matlack of the Mets # 55.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Action shots are nice when players are turning double plays, sliding into home with a dust cloud or swinging for the fences but when I saw this "action card" (2004 Topps Kyle Farnsworth # 232) it made me think this is "way too busy" for my liking.
The 84 Lumber ad is larger than the Cubs logo and the red shirted bleacher "security guy" in the back row draws my eyes to the packed outfield (it is a nice left field stadium shot).
I realize the Farnsworths' pitching career is rather un-remarkable and should go unnoticed (career wins 30, career saves 27 with a 4.47 era) so maybe it is appropriate that he is a second thought and goes unnoticed on this card as well.
I think I am going back to my "vintage" binder to appreciate some old posed / air brushed photos.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
A 3X all-star (1977, 87 and 89) Reuschel played for nineteen season and is most remembered for being a Chicago Cub (more than half his career was in Chicago). His only 20 win season came in 1977 as a Cub and was 3rd in Cy Young voting that year.
His career numbers of 214 - 191 with 102 complete games, 26 shutouts tell just a small part of his story. Reuschel pitched over 3500 innings; and in a eight year span form 1973 to 1980 he had more than 230 IP each year. His strikeout to walk ratio of 2.15 (2015 K's to 935 walks) and his career era of 3.37 are both very respectable. He did have two World Series appearances; 1981 with the Yankees and 1989 for the S F Giants.
Happy Birthday "Big Daddy" Reuschel . . . today I celebrate with you . . . oh did I mention that today May 16 is also my birthday and I got myself a new set of wheels.
What I am alluding to is that I can not believe that the baseball season is already 20 % complete (most teams have played 32 games, give or take) and it is already over one month into this young season. It does seem like just a few days from opening day.
Being a numbers guy as I am (that is the former math teacher coming out in me) I was looking at some statistics and am interested to know how some players and teams might perform, such as:
a) Evan Longoria has 44 RBI's . . . projected to 220 . . . will he break Hack Wilson's record of 191 ?
b) Aaron Hill has 54 hits . . .projected to 270 . . . can he break Ichiro's 262 hits ?
c) Zack Greinke . . . 6 wins . . . projected at 30 . . . will he be the first since McClain to see 30 Wins ?
d) Juan Pierre hitting .426 . . . Youkilis is at .393 . . . will either of them stay the course and threaten a year long average of .400 ?
e) Blue Jays and Dodgers . . . 22 wins . . . will they be able to flirt with the Mariners 2001 "record" of 116 ?
f) will either the Nationals or Indians continue with their losing ways and challenge the 1962 Mets futility of 120 losses ?
I am fairly confident the records mentioned above will stand pat though if I was a betting man I might put some money on Longoria to break Wilson's RBI record. The season is only 20 % done . . . lots of games to go . . .
P.S. I thought this had posted to my blog a few days ago but in error I guess I never clicked on the "publish post" button . . . this all might be old news by now, but because I wrote it I am now posting it . . . this season has a long way to go . . .
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Bright would also go on to play for the Senators in 1961 and 1962, appeared in one game only for the Reds in 1963, then being purchased by the Yankees in 1963 (appeared in four games in 1964) before signing on as a free agent for the Chicago Cubs in 1965.
His best and only year as a regular was in 1962, playing in 113 games and hitting 17 homeruns for the Senators. Bright also appeared twice as a Yankee, in the 1963 World Series, as a pinch hitter, striking out both times. In game one of the 1963 series, Bright was actually Sandy Koufax's 15th strikeout, a record strikeout at the time.
So this card, # 227 Topps 1960 stating his team as the Chicago Cubs was quite a mystery to me at first. When I was reviewing the team roster and stats for the 1959 (and 1960) Chicago Cubs, there was no mention of Harry Bight anywhere. So you may be asking yourself, how did Bright get on a 1960 Chicago Cub card if he never appeared as a Cub until 1965 ?
Simply put, the Cubs drafted him in November of 1959 in the "rule 5" draft and returned him to the Pirates in April of 1960. Obviously too late for correcting this Topps had his "right" team at the time, though his uniform is clearly that of a Pirate (note the banding around the collar and vest).
It was probably only a strange coincidence that Bright ended up in a Chicago Cub uniform in 1965, though he only appeared in 27 games with 25 at -bats getting seven hits and striking out eight times.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Anyways, today's bubble mailer was a rather pleasant surprise from "Baseball Dad" Jack of All Tribe Baseball a long time Cleveland Indian fan. In this package was a CD, yes a CD. He had mentioned a contest of sorts in a post a few weeks back and to be perfectly honest, I totally forgot about it, but am glad he did not.
This is now playing in my computer and I really like this selection of music and baseball lore on a CD. Jack also included a few Cubs cards; and I especially like the larger than life bat in your face Julio Zuleta 2002 Topps Total and the Kenny Lofton 2003 Fleer depicting the 1963 Fleer design.
Jack, thank you very much for remembering me . . . and for sharing Baseball's Greatest Hits !
Sunday, May 10, 2009
In honor of Mom's Day I thought I would write a post about children (more specifically two daughters) because without these two girls today would be very different.
To begin with, I present my own daughter, who for those of you who read my blog may remember that my Jennifer, graduated high school in May of 2008 and was accepted into the long-term Rotary Youth Exchange of Florida program that has sent her to Finland for this past year. If you want to read about her adventures please go here: Jenny's Journal from Finland Thankfully she gets her writing skills from her Mother.
"an american in Paris"
Jennifer will be returning to the USA on May 24th, it has been a looooong year without her and I do miss her terribly. She will be attending Flagler college (St Augustine Florida) in the fall to begin her "new" life as a college student. As Jenny has reminded me in many emails and IM's "Daddy, I am so much more grown up and independent now and so ready for college . . . but I will always be your little girl".
While my daughter went off to Finland last summer, my wife and I "adopted" an exchange student as a replacement (that is one of the unwritten rules of the program) . We were blessed to be able to call Vivian our daughter this past fall. Vivian is from Taiwan and we now have two new countries we "must" visit. Today, I thank her Mom for allowing us to be "parents" to Vivian this past year. Of course I had to take her to a Rays game !
Today is a day to thank some very special Moms; especially Jennifers and Vivians.
Happy Mothers Day to all !
Saturday, May 9, 2009
So the show I have attended each month since January will be taking a six month hiatus . . . my opportunity to "indulge" myself as fellow blogger Mark of Marks Ephemera likes to put it. I did just that and stayed away from the bargain bins and only bought a few "pricier" cards I really "needed" and stayed "vintage". My scanner is not working (which only compounds some other issues I have been having these past few weeks) but I did find a camera to take a photo of my finds.
top row: 1960 Chicago Cubs: Dick Gernert, Richie Ashburn and Dale Long (I now have 25 of 33 to complete my team set)
second row: ToppsAll-Star Rookie Cards: 1964 Gary Peters and Al Weis of the Chicago White Sox; 1966 Ron Swoboda N Y Mets, 1967 Dave(y) Johnson Baltimore Orioles and 1978 Gary Alexander of the S F Giants
third row: 1970 California Angels team card # 522 (being my 685th card of the set, missing only 35 now); 1972 Chicago Cub Glenn Beckert "in action" and a 1963 Fleer Clay Dalrymple (my real only big $$ card and I am still a long way from completing this set but getting closer by one is always nice)
bottom row: 1974 Chicago Cubs Pina, Mitterwald, Aker and Hiser . . . just because I they were there.
All in all I kept to my "want" list (mostly) and am very happy. Now I am off to a pre-Mom's Day celebration which gives me the opportunity to say Happy Mothers Day to all you Mom's out there !
While today was my last "traditional" card show for the season, I shall still search out for cards I like or need via more modern methods (ie blogger generosity and ebay). Now I hope to get my life in order and my scanner working again !
Friday, May 8, 2009
Coach Banks had to act as manager for one day, today May 8, 1973, when then manager Whitey Lockman was ejected in the 11th inning against the San Diego Padres.
No other coach was available on the bench so "Mr Cub" Ernie Banks stepped in for the final two innings as the Cubs outlasted the Padres 3 -2 in 12 innings. Banks never again "played" manager and left coaching a few years later with a 1 - 0 won/loss record.
It would be two years later that Robinson would become the first full-time manager in 1975 for Cleveland. The Sporting News Official Baseball Guide for 1974 states that on May 8, 1973 "Ernie Banks became the major leagues first black manager, yet only for a day".
Some of you may remember that several months ago at a local card show I grabbed a bunch of Cubs cards from a bargain bin (20 cards for $ 1.00) and two cards (the 1995 Flair Mark Grace #332 and Sammy Sosa #334) made a unique impression on me. Being a vintage kind of guy, this set intrigued me for some odd reason. I was able to pick up a few other cards a month later in another bargain bin find (12 to be exact) and that just fueled my fire.
Last week I broke down and found the complete set (432 cards) for sale on ebay, went ahead and put in a bid. After a few days of increasing in $ .50 increments the set was mine for under $ 12.00 (not including shipping). I am not sure if that s a good price or fair price - I dont really care . . . I like this set and am glad I "won".
Now a bit about this set: the 1995 Flair has 432 cards in the basic set; series I and series II with seven subsets (now my real hunt begins). The fronts feature a horizontal border less design with a dual photograph and the backs are the traditional vertical alignment and showcase a third mostly full body, though cropped at the knees, photo.
The Cubs have fifteen (15) cards, part in series I and part in series II. For those who remember, 1995 was the year Ryne Sandberg "retired" and is not included in this set. A disappointment for this Cubs fan but . . .
I dont breakdown very often and am still not sure why I have taken a liking to this "modern" set but . . . I did . . . break down that is.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Longoria is the first repeat winner this year and needless to say, Longoria is becoming the heart and soul of the young Rays and just might make a run for AL MVP (if the Rays can put together few more wins and make 2009 a repeat performance of last years AL Championship team).
Early in the week, Longoria collected his 100th RBI of his career, in only his 135th game. That ranks him third behind Ryan Braun (118 games) and Albert Pujols (131 games) as the fastest to reach that plateau amongst active players.
As an aside, being a Cubs fan living in Sarasota, the Tampa Bay Rays are the AL team I root for. I actually attended the game this past Saturday against the BoSox - being the only game the Rays lost as they took three out of four over the weekend. I probably will stay away from now on, maybe.
I still have a hard time grasping indoor/domed baseball, although Tropicana is very family friendly, being indoors is just not "right" (that is just the traditionalist coming out in me). I did have a great time though . . . (sorry no pictures).
Congratualtions to Longoria . . . Lets Go Rays !
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Jenkins, already a HOF'r (1991 inductee) will be joined by Maddux in a few years (probably a first ballot inductee in 2013). A look at their careers provides us some insight into two of the greatest pitchers of their, or any, era.
Maddux: 23 year career, 5008 innings pitched, 3371 strikeouts / 999 walks, 355 wins, 109 complete games won 15 or more games in seventeen consecutive years. Won his first Cy Young in 1992 as a Chicago Cub !
Some other noteworthy milestones / dates:
Ferguson Jenkins: hit 13 career homeruns; on May 7, 1969 pitched a 12 inning complete game (finally losing 4 -2 to the L.A. Dodgers); on June 4, 1971 earned his 100th win (an 11 - 0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves); threw 24 complete games in a 28 game stretch from July 21, 1970 to May 23 1971 and on May 25, 1982 became the seventh pitcher to record 3000 strikeouts; striking out Gerry Templeton.
Greg Maddux: hit five career homeruns; on Sept 13, 1988 became the first Chicago Cub pitcher since Jenkins in 1971 to beat every NL team in one season, beating the Phillies 9 - 2; on Aug 7, 2004 notched his 300th victory, leading the Cubs to a 8 - 4 win over the San Fransisco Giants; and on July 26, 2005: became the 13th pitcher to record 3000 strikeouts fanning Omar Vizquel.
So, today, Congratulations are in order for Jenkins and Maddux, the Chicago Cub organization for finally getting # 31 to hang from the foul pole, all Cubs fans and any other basbeall fan of solid control style pitching.
Today also marks my first post in over a week. I have just been rather busy with "life" and have had a lack of time to write "intelligently" (though I have read many many, and transacted a few trades). I will try to get back to my normal writing groove this week - I am sure I was not missed. In a future post I will explain in more detail what I have been up to instead.
Today is also a birthday of a friend of mine who is turning 49. We were college roommates and share many memories. He is "celebrating" his last year of his first half centrury . . . Happy Birthday Steve (yes we also share first names).
Today is a special day . . .