Monday, December 3, 2018

let's bat around with the reminiscence bump

night owl's recent post hit on a topic that i would imagine is common among adult card collectors. i know that it was a familiar topic for me.

for the record, i also enjoy the musical stylings of maria mckee and lone justice, and i saw them in concert in los angeles in 1987.  good show.

i also enjoyed the style of night owl's writing in that post. it reminded me of dr. manhattan's reminiscing in alan moore's "watchmen". i'll write this post the same way.

on to the cards.

1977: i am six years old. i am sitting in the back seat of our light blue volvo station wagon. i can tell you the license plate number if you'd like. my uncle, for reasons unknown, hands me a pack of baseball cards.  i get my first look at cards, and mike schmidt's is one of them.
that same year, my mom takes my brother and i to a barbershop for haircuts. the barber is telling me a story about a boy who squirmed and had his ear cut. i do not squirm. my mom sends my restless brother, who had his hair cut first, to the store next door. it is a comic book and baseball card store. when my mom and i walk in after my haircut, i am awestruck. it smells like old paper and there are comics and cards on display everywhere, along with still photos from movie shoots (not sure why, but our lcs had a ton of these set photos).  i look at my brother and his eyes are as big as saucers.  we see a 1971 topps brooks robinson card
in the display case, and we note that it looks like the guy is looking for droids on tatooine.

1978: i am seven years old and baseball card collecting has captured the attention of the six neighborhood boys, myself included, along with some other nearby kids.  we spend hours trading and discussing cards, and make frequent weekend runs to the 7-11 to buy packs. one day, while waiting for the oldest of the group to return from a pack run, i ask the question of one of the other kids: "what if i get a steve yeager card?!"
the answer to that question is that i would then have a steve yeager card, which is exactly what happened when i opened my packs later that day.  i have also morphed in to a set collector after initially storing my cards by team in a card locker my dad gave me.

that same summer, we are visiting family in canada and i am discovering the bright backs and variations of o-pee-chee cards.  i get home and pin ron cey's o-pee-chee card
on my wall.  it is one of the first cards that i scanned for my first blog.

1979: i am eight years old, standing on the doorstep of a man's house on the other side of my block.  one of my friends at school found out that he was a giants fan and that he had some cards. i ask his wife if he wants to trade with me, and she smiles and calls him over.  he looks at what i have, and takes my gary lavelle card and a couple of others.
one of the cards he gives to me in exchange is a 1955 bowman don hoak card.
true story.

1980: i am nine years old in the fall of 1980, and my dad has taken my brother and i to los angeles. we had a day off from school, and he has a business meeting. my brother and i sit in the lobby of an office building waiting for his meeting to end.  we note that we are not far from the westin bonaventure hotel, which my brother recognized from his buck rogers card collection (he had switched to non-sports cards when our local card store started carrying star wars cards).  during a break in the meeting, my dad walks my brother and i around a couple of blocks of downtown la. we go in to a convenience store to get something to drink, and i notice packs of cards at the register. my dad buys me a pack and i am excited to find reggie smith's card inside.
later that day, we meet up with my uncle, and the four of us go to a japanese restaurant. i order a hamburger.

1981: i am now eleven years old (just barely), and my dad has given to me for christmas the 1981 topps traded set.  i make him take my picture holding cards of fernando valenzuela, ken landreaux, and fred lynn.
this was the year that i really started to collect dodger team sets back to 1970, and began adding fleer and donruss to my set completing ways - although we bought a 1981 donruss set through the mail.

1982: the first year that we (my dad is now a co-collector) bought boxes of cards. we open packs together, and he makes me put the cards in numerical order as we go which irritates me. we are somewhat repulsed at 1982 fleer and the blurry photos, although i am excited that the dodgers are at the front of the set with dusty baker
sitting at number 1.

moving forward, we continued to buy cards and put together sets through 1987.  none of my friends kept up with collecting past 1983 or so, but i persevered. in 1988, i bought mainly packs (exclusively topps) before heading to college in the fall.  i did buy a box of topps in 1989, but again ignored other card manufacturers.  in 1990 i began buying hockey cards as well as baseball (still just topps) as it seemed like every strip mall had a card shop.

my dad had taken me to a few card shows in la and anaheim earlier in the decade (including the first national in 1980 where i sold my 1978 and 1979 dupes - including multiple eddie murray rookies - for $10), but now i was able to go on my own.  i went to a bunch of different shows during the late 80's and into the 90's, including the national in anaheim in 1991. that year, i bought some upper deck and thought that i would retire on my chipper jones cards. i was also all-in on topps that year, buying a ridiculous amount of cards.

1993: i have graduated from college and secured a real job. a liquor store near my office sells cards at the register. it is the first time i see something called "flair". i can't believe i am spending $3.99 on a pack of cards.  one of the cards i get is a jim edmonds wave of the future insert.
i would have preferred the mike piazza card.

this post is getting way too long, but there are so many memories.  i know i am falling short of the intent of the topic, having skipped a bunch of years within that 10-30 year-old period, but i'll finish up by saying that since 1977, there has never been a year when i did not buy cards, nor a year in which i did not follow the game, and i could point out specific cards that hold specific memories for me from each year.

as for my post-bump years, i started reading and commenting on jon weisman's 'dodger thoughts' site in 2005, which gave me a sense of an online baseball community.  then in 2006, i was made aware of ben henry's baseball card blog, and after that found more and more card blogs to read. with all of the excitement going on surrounding the second half of the dodgers' 2008 season, i decided to add my voice to the blogs. in my second post, i showed off this card
it takes me back to the summer of 1978, a candy store in southern saskatchewan that sold cards, a transistor radio on the table at home, and a collection just beginning.

Saturday, December 1, 2018


for quite a few years i had a print of paul klee's 'farbtafel' hanging in my loft space.  i also had a mark rothko print in my bedroom, and a couple of other klee cubism works elsewhere in my house.  i am drawn to the colors and the geometric shapes of those and similar abstract works.

the other day i opened a few packs of 2018 topps gallery and found this ian kinsler card
i was immediately drawn to the background. this card is going in my collection as part of my 'cards i like but don't otherwise fit' category.

it's art. and it's my favorite card of the year - from the "other" team in "los angeles", no less.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

they are iron men

steve garvey is featured on only one card in the 2018 panini national treasures release, and i added it to my garvey collection last month.
however, he was not alone on the card, as it is a "triple-legend trios" booklet card!
here's a list of the folks featured
the common link among them is, of course, their respective consecutive games played streaks.

cal ripken jr. is the all-time leader with 2,632 consecutive games.  here's his part of the card:
good to see some oriole orange!

the guy who made the streak famous was lou gehrig, the iron horse. he played in 2,130 straight, much to the chagrin of wally pipp.  here's his part of the card:
glad to see pinstripes!

garvey played in 1,207 consecutive games, and is the national league's all-time leader.  somewhat screwed out of this card is everett scott who appeared in 1,307 consecutive games from 1916-1925 (his streak ended a month or so before gehrig's began).  unfortunately for scott, he did it all while in the american league and so he is typically never a part of iron man discussions.

here's the whole booklet all laid out - front and back:

this card reminded me that i really dug into gehrig's career and life back in the early 1980's as garvey's streak became more of a thing. i read all that i could find about him, and learned of the 1961 topps baseball thrills card hailing his streak.
i guess the card doesn't actually hail his streak. it's more about him benching himself.
it took me a long time to finally own that card, and even longer to show it on one of my blogs. ripken's streak was ended in a similar fashion to gehrig's, while garvey's came to an end by injury.

back to the present day, i was very happy to see that panini didn't make this just a two-man card, and gave the national league leader in consecutive games played some attention.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

it takes a community (and more) to build a collection

i've enjoyed the generosity of several bloggers in the past few months.  all have helped build my collection in their own way, and the trades are appreciated!

jon from community gum posted a series of trade bait posts, and i found a few cards for my collection, like this 2013 topps gypsy queen ozzie smith card
that will find a home in my dodger stadium collection.

jon supplemented this and my other trade bait requests with a bevy of other cards - all dodgers now - including this 2017 bowman chrome national convention sandy koufax card 
it's shiny and prismy and refractory!

david from tribe cards hosted an allen & ginter case break, and i took the dodgers.  the break netted me quite a few cards in addition to a couple of team sets.  here's postseason ace walker buehler's card

i hope to see many more big game starts for buehler in the years to come!

julie from a cracked bat completed a trade with me.  she sent lots of good dodger cardboard, including a team set of 1996 pacific crown collection estrellas latinas
that raul mondesi is half of the team set.  ismael valdes (not shown) is the other dodger in the set.

jeff from 2x3 heroes sent a pwe that included a former nefarious 9 need

that tommy lasorda card from 2018 topps archives is great! it's strange to see a full sized manager card in the 1977 design, but in a good way. shameless plug - check out my top 9 needs/wants on the sidebar - you will be rewarded for sending any of them to me!

bru from remember the astrodome spoke up and took a ken giles card off my hands! he even sent cards in return! one of them was this 2018 panini chronicles cody bellinger select card
2018 chronicles looks like a better product than the 2017 version, and i'm happy to have this card in the collection!

andy from stadium fantasium contacted me with an offer to pick up the last two dodger 60th anniversary stadium giveaway sets! that was a great email to receive.  unfortunately, due to some work conflicts, he was only able to get the 2000's set (which featured clayton kershaw in the "hof/legends" card slot)
but he also sent a couple of earlier sets which is very much appreciated.  i had speculated that vin scully would be the one to get a card in the last set - the 2010's - but it turned out to be yasiel puig.  i like puig (puig my friend) but that was kind of a let down.

night owl sent a bunch of needs (thanks for checking my want lists!) including this 2009 topps allen & ginter hiroki kuroda national pride insert
i completed that particular insert set, but never picked up a kuroda for the team set.

fuji from chronicles of fuji sent me a don sutton card that was missing from my post-dodger sutton pc
it is odd that i would be missing a card for a pc that from a set that i enjoy so much, but c'est la vie.

speaking of sets that i enjoy, gavin at baseball card breakdown sent along a card for my 1957 topps set build
61-year old cardboard right there.

thanks to one and all for the trades!

Monday, November 19, 2018

meoli envy

i spent a lot of time studying the backs of baseball cards in 1978. one of those card backs belonged to rudy meoli's card
 what struck me back then (and still does today) is that meoli hadn't appeared in the majors since 1975, but was given a card in the 1978 set.  this confounded me as a youth, and made me a wee bit annoyed with topps that such players as ron washington, joe simpson, boog powell, dennis lewallyn - guys who had all suited up in 1977 - were left out of the set.  heck, even rick sutcliffe had appeared in a game more recently than meoli (he pitched in one game in 1976), and he had to wait until 1980 to get into a topps set.  i was jealous that cubs fans had a card of this guy and that i did not have a another dodger card instead.

i am guessing that topps was trying to even out cards distributed by team, and needed another cub.  meoli had just been acquired by the northsiders from the reds in september of 1977, so he may have been fresh in the news when the checklist was being compiled.  however, the cubs had more single player cards than the dodgers in the set, so i really don't know why meoli made the cut and others didn't. 

the end result, for whatever reason, is that meoli is in the set, and, thanks to his generosity in signing cards through the mail, i have one more card signed for my partial autographed set.
meoli played in 47 games for the cubs in 1978, and in 30 games for the phillies in 1979, but never appeared in a topps set after 1978. go figure.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

mauer pauers down

a friend and i thought about heading out to target field on september 30 just in case it turned out to be joe mauer's final game.  we didn't, and it did, but i'm ok with that.  i had the joy of watching mauer play for fifteen years (most of that time was joyful, anyway), and i couldn't help but buy one of the topps now cards that was released on october 1.
i will always remember being at the metrodome for the dodgers series in 2006. i attended all three games, watching the twins sweep the dodgers behind a 11 for 13, two-double, triple, 6 rbi performance by mauer. it was something i hadn't seen in person since watching tony gwynn carve up the dodgers in a late 90's series. i've stood in autograph lines for mauer, watched him interact with fans (including my son) at spring training, and caught up with him at a glen perkins charity run a couple of years ago. i readily believe all of the 'good guy' stories.

topps best not screw this up and leave him out of 2019 flagship - this will be one of the final tributes i want most in my collection.

Monday, November 12, 2018

more 2018 memorials, in case you were wondering

one of the reasons, the main one in fact, that i have a mini-collection of armbands and memorial patches stems from my curiosity regarding the examples i saw in the 1978 topps set.  the rangers, cubs, and brewers each wore black armbands (the rangers added a black number 4) during the 1977 season, and so there were many cards in the '78 set that displayed the memorials.  i didn't know why these elements were added to their uniforms, and my dad suggested that they were recognizing the passing of someone.  

then, when jim gilliam died late in the 1978 season and the dodgers wore a patch in his honor, i was hoping that a 1979 topps card might show the memorial.  of course, topps did not issue postseason cards in 1979, and so i was out of luck as far as the gilliam patch was concerned until the 2000's when a few images made it on to cardboard.  i did, however, look for cards showing other memorials, and my curiosity remains. i regularly take notice of these things when watching a game or flipping through cards.  now, thanks to the internet, it is a lot easier to determine why teams are wearing certain patches, for which i am grateful.

during the 2018 season, there were a few teams that wore memorial patches.  i've already shown the cubs and marlins with their opening day patch honoring the victims of the school shooting at marjory stoneman douglas, as well as the umpire memorials, but i'll document the others here, hopefully with examples of the memorials on cardboard. 

the padres honored both kevin towers and rob picciolo with a patch on their right sleeves during their game on may 12.  i watched this game and was pleased when eric hosmer ended the game with a walk-off hit because i knew that topps would produce a 'now' card the next day.  i was in luck when they chose an image that showed the patch clearly
so i bought the card for my collection.  towers was their general manager, and picciolo was a long-time coach with the organization.

the diamondbacks also wore a patch in kevin towers' honor during their game on august 2.  so far, i only have photographic evidence
but we will see what 2019 brings.

the brewers wore a patch during a single home series in june for former player, coach, and broadcaster dave nelson. there's a topps now card that shows the patch a bit (it's on the right sleeve - mostly visible on number 14's jersey)
but i didn't bother to buy a copy of the card.  maybe 2019 will bring a card or two that shows it.

the blue jays have worn a '32' patch on their jerseys all year in honor of roy halladay.
josh donaldson's 2018 topps chrome prism refractor shows the patch on the left sleeve, while j.a. happ's 2018 topps update card shows the patch on his left chest

as it got the bump from the sleeve at the all-star game due to the all-star patch players wore.

the mets wore a patch with rusty staub's facsimile signature (the 'rusty' part, anyway) following his passing at the end of march. you can see the patch on todd frazier's sleeve on this 2018 topps big league card
the patch moved to the chest for the little league classic game (there's another topps now card that i did not bother with) and the all-star game, as seen on jacob degrom's 2018 topps update card
finally, the cardinals added a patch for red schoendienst following his death in june.  there is a topps now card that shows the patch pretty well, but i think i'll wait until 2019 to add a card or two showing that particular memorial.

sadly, it looks like there will be a willie mccovey patch on the giants' unis next season, so i'll be on the lookout for a card to represent 'stretch' in my collection as well.  i saw mccovey and the giants play the dodgers a couple of times during mccovey's final seasons.  we always got there early for batting practice, and i can still remember how hard he hit the ball.