Monday, March 27, 2017

here's to you, mr. robinson

so, i've sent out a few ttm requests over the past couple of months - mostly having to do with my attempt to get 1978 topps team cards and set checklists signed - and i've had some good success.  i'll show more signed cards i've received lately in a future post, but there was one success that i had to showcase sooner rather than later:
i had noticed some successes popping up with brooks robinson, and so i gave it a shot.  it took only about a week with no fee! simply awesome.

sadly, this is the only card brooks robinson had in the 1978 topps set, and it doesn't come close to qualifying as a final tribute, but it's been an important card for me as a fan of the game.  i've liked robinson for a few reasons, even though he retired just as i began following the game.  first, there is the name.  i think that a 'plural' first name is unique and cool, and one of the reasons that i also have an affinity for rogers hornsby. second, it was his 1971 topps world series card that launched my tatooine mini collection in 1978 when my brother and i saw it in our local card and comic shop.  third, buying packs in 1978, i saw this card and immediately wanted to know more about robinson's career, and as an extension, baseball's past.

this card helped me understand that there was history to be appreciated with the game of baseball.  of course, when i asked my dad about robinson, he started with the 1966 world series which made me like brooks a little less.

this was an awesome success, and i am very happy to have this card signed in my collection.  thanks brooks!

Friday, March 24, 2017

a pared down 2016 topps flagship vs. dodger team set comparison

i used to do a post each year comparing dodger cards from the topps flagship and team factory sets. i didn't do that last year, and in fact, just recently picked up the 2016 topps dodger 17 card set.

the factory sets had lost their luster for me after a couple of years without a stadium card or manager card, and just one or two photo variants.  however, the price i paid for the 2016 set was low enought where i figured it made sense to pick it up and have another corey seager rookie card in my collection.

i decided not to compare every card as most are the same between the two sets.  instead, i'll just show the ones that are different.  i will list the full checklist, however, starting with

lad-1 clayton kershaw
lad-2 carl crawford
lad-3 joc pederson

flagship (on the left) identified joc as a 'future star', while the team set just lets him be.  the result is a differently cropped photo.

lad-4 yasmani grandal
see what i wrote about joc? ditto for grandal.

lad-5 adrian gonzalez
lad-6 frankie montas
so here's a decent variation. for flagship, topps photoshopped montas from white sox duds (in detroit, i believe) into the dodger, um, home grays? at least they got the red number in there.  for the factory set, topps used a photo from the same game, but correctly photoshopped 'los angeles' text onto the gray jersey and added the pant piping. but then forgot about the red number.  as it turns out, montas never pitched in the bigs for the dodgers due to injury and then on account of his being traded to the a's in the rich hill deal.

lad-7 chase utley
lad-8 corey seager
lad-9 justin turner
lad-10 andre ethier
lad-11 yasiel puig
lad-12 hyun-jin ryu
lad-13 kenley jansen
lad-14 brett anderson
lad-15 scott kazmir
kazmir's flagship card came along in series 2, with a photo of him from spring training wearing the 'd' hat.  topps couldn't wait for that photo for the factory set, so they photoshopped him into the away uniform, but without the red number.

lad-16 alex wood
lad-17 scott van slyke

and that's it.  four variations, but really only two.  it would be great if topps went back to adding a unique player or subject to the factory set, like dodger stadium or dave roberts or even farmer john.  unfortunately, i took a look at the checklist for the 2017 factory set, and it's similar to this one.  and, with no free agent additions as part of the checklist, i'm guessing there won't be any variations.  i'm not sure that will be enough to keep me away, however, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

they called him mr. clean

the last time panini did a nicknames based set, they went with 'senator' for steve garvey.  that was in 2012, and in 2016, they decided to go with another of his nicknames, 'mr. clean'.
i'm not sure if proctor & gamble is aware of this, but i do know that garvey bears no resemblance to their mr. clean.   their guy has more of a mike holmes from 'holmes on holmes' look,
and he's got his magic eraser ready.

garvey has signed cards as 'popeye' - a nickname he received due to his forearms, the aforementioned 'senator', and now 'mr. clean', although he did not inscribe the card with that last one as he did with the first two.  i'm guessing it is not his favorite nickname due to the fact that it is often cited in order to juxtapose his image with the reality of his post-career relationships. despite all that, it's another 2016 panini product that i am happy to have in my collection.

Monday, March 20, 2017

check your 6

i was pretty excited back in 2001 when i first read about topps tribute.  knowing that the set would focus on retired numbers, and knowing that the padres had only two numbers that qualified, i thought it was a pretty good bet that steve garvey would be included in the set.  spoiler alert: he was not. dave winfield (whose number 31 had just been retired in april of 2001) beat out garvey and randy jones to represent the padres, while most of the dodgers with retired numbers were included (no jim gilliam or sandy koufax, unfortunately).

still, there were some number 6 cards in the set, including stan the man musial

it's been a fifteen year journey for me, but i am down to needing only two cards from the set - ernie banks and willie mays.  i would appreciate any help in finishing off this set.

for a long time (21 years to be exact), garvey's number 6 was unofficially retired by the dodgers, waiting for his enshrinement in cooperstown so that it could be officially retired as is the team's tradition.  a funny thing happened on the way to immortality, and when it became apparent that garvey would not be elected by the writers to cooperstown, number 6 fell back into rotation.  jolbert cabrera, in 2003, was the first to wear it post-garvey, and many have followed - brent mayne, jason grabowski, kenny lofton, tony abreu, aaron miles, joe torre, jerry hairston, darwin barney, and now, charlie culberson.
there's culberson on a 2016 topps now card celebrating his division-clinching, walk-off home run last september, with his 6 fully visible.

fernando's number 34 still sits in mothballs, and i wish the franchise would pull the trigger on retiring it officially even though fernando isn't a hall of famer.  other than that, and barring some revelation (that should occur, in my opinion) about manny mota's number 11, i would guess that the next number to be retired by the dodgers will be 22.  clayton kershaw should pass 2000 strikeouts this season (and then some), and he is certainly on track to get at least a thousand more.  while it doesn't show his number very well, here is the 'bonus' topps now card
i received last fall after buying the postseason team set. as a bonus, i thought at the time that it would likely be the only card to feature carlos ruiz as a dodger, but he's in flaghsip as a dodger,
even though he was traded to the mariners last november leaving what i consider to be terry forster's number up for grabs.

Friday, March 17, 2017

23 is a magic number

matt at bob walk the plank sent his half of our most recent trade a few weeks back, and the cards he sent reduced my want list for the 2016 topps allen & ginter numbers game insert set to just 23 cards.  (i was trying to fold in some modified schoolhouse rock lyrics here, but am giving up).  coincidentally, one of the cards he sent me was don mattingly's, which celebrates his number which happened to be 23.
so, how many cards did matt eliminate from my quest?  eric hosmer knows the number.
yes, 35 cards put quite a dent in my want list, but there are still opportunities to help me out!

thanks to matt, i also own 2 2016 topps framed cards, and they have both come from him.  first was a yasiel puig card, and now this j.p. howell card
these are thick and heavy and ultimately have no reason to exist, but such is our lot as team collectors.

matt has also sent a few panini cards my way recently, and the two that were part of this package were pretty nice.  first, a ross stripling auto from 2016 panini national treasure
and a mike piazza bat relic from the same set.
the absence of logos is obvious on stripling's card, but panini could and should put out a set of catchers in their gear and the lamentations about no logos would be minimal.

thanks matt! i'll kick off our next round of trading very shortly...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

so disappointed in topps, and it's not even opening day. well, it is, actually.

i was reminded today that topps is living in the past, and on the east coast.

yes, clayton kershaw and corey seager and mike trout are topps darlings, but how do you explain the 2017 opening day incredible eats insert set that includes three foods from fenway park, but does not include the world famous farmer john eastern corn fed pork dodger dog?!?!?!

the rockies "foot long hot dog" is featured (covered in a bunch of crap), but no dodger dog.  no cool-a-coo either.  no roger owens throwing peanut bags around. no food west of denver, as far as i can tell, and i know from experience that the mariners serve some tasty fare.  the braves' new stadium that has not yet served any food is represented by a box of popcorn that i could buy at the grocery store.  what group of uneducated hacks decides on these insert checklists?

i dutifully have been using my topps coupons that were in my series 1 blaster, and so i picked up two packs of opening day today.  i saw this card
in the first pack, and was super excited to find the dodger dog insert.  a quick trip to cardboard connection told me that i was sol.  i was already disappointed that the dodgers weren't featured in one of the other opening day insert sets (opening day at the ballpark) since they opened last season on the road in san diego.  i was hoping for a nice dodger stadium shot on one of those cards, but no dice.  the only redeeming thing i've seen so far is that the oakland a's were featured with their memorials to tony phillips and dave henderson showing, so i'll be tracking down one of those cards.

anyway, is that even food that is celebrated on that card up there? i am not sure.

one of the other inserts i pulled was this russell martin superstar celebration card
i thought this was pretty cool, actually, as i recalled a martin walk-off winner last year.  i was not at the game (i went the next day), but i was in toronto that day. or so i thought.  i turned the card over to confirm my recollection of that weekend in the yyz, and i was off by a millenia.
yes, that game was played, according to topps, in the year 1016.

i suppose that this could be a super short print date error variation, but even if that's the case it's ridiculous.  i've never been more embarrassed to be buying this stuff than i am today.  anybody want a series 2 coupon?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

a penny sleeve is a card earned

ben franklin was a wise man, but even he could not foretell the simple joy of trading baseball cards with a fellow collector.  jon at a penny sleeve for your thoughts and i have traded a few times now, and the latest package he sent was something special. however, before i get too deep into this post, head over to jon's blog and enter his (premature) 200th post contest!

on to the cards!  jon was kind enough to find three 1957 topps cards for my slow-going set build
the color on these is fantastic - especially the stone card.  and, is it just me or do others feel like the kansas city a's cards in this set are the most readily available? kind of like rays cards today, i suppose.

jon also sent over some yasiel puig inserts, like this 2014 topps gypsy queen n174 card
this 2015 panini prizm fireworks card
and this 2015 topps heritage chrome card
jon also found and sent this 2016 topps stadium club zach lee gold parallel auto card
which is awesome (au-some?).  unfortunately, topps has had a penchant in recent years for choosing the prospect(s) that the dodgers trade away for inclusion in their sets. lee is now with the padres after the dodgers traded him to the mariners last season, and based on that correlation between cards and trades, i don't expect ross stripling to be a dodger for much longer.

thanks jon, and congrats on approaching 200 posts!

Monday, March 13, 2017

a local card show with european flair

i am guessing that there are no baseball card shows in slovakia, but there are monthly (and it looks like there are now, once again, two and sometimes three) card shows in the twin cities.  i went to the more established show in early february for two reasons.  one, i wanted to look for some cards for a couple of folks out there, and two, i wanted former twin tom johnson to sign a 1978 topps card for me.  and he did!
i had been aware that johnson was going to be signing at the show for a while, but i had thought that he had already signed for me through the mail.  after talking with another collector at twins fest in late january, however, i realized that it was likely not the case.  so, when i got home from twins fest, i checked my binder and sure enough, there was no tom johnson.

so, what was the reason that had me doubting a ttm success? well, the other collector told me that johnson travels a lot doing ministry type work.  so, after he signed my card, i asked johnson about his work.  he said that he has established a boys and girls club type facility in slovakia, giving youngsters there a chance to hang out and play sports.  he handed me a business card, too.
bratislava is the country's capital, near the austrian border. i didn't think to ask what his connection to slovakia was, but it's a pretty cool thing regardless.

i picked up a number of other cards at the show, including a big stack of 2017 rediscover topps buybacks for a great price and some other stuff to send to some frequent trading partners, but the only other cards i've scanned are for me.  like this 2010 bowman erick aybar orange parallel card,
and these 2017 topps cards - addison russell,
ben zobrist,
and dustin pedroia (1987 30th anniversary insert),
all for the double play binder.

i was disappointed to not find the 2017 topps salute sandy koufax card which had been added to my nefarious nine, but it was otherwise a good show with a lot of dealers.

Friday, March 10, 2017

supporting north american free trade

jim gilliam spent two years playing for the dodger triple-a affiliate in montreal.  that's in canada, or quebec, at least (those crazy separatists!).  i recently received a fantastically conditioned 1960 topps jim gilliam card
from captain canuck, defender of  baseball card collecting in the prairie provinces.  there were four cards in the pwe that i received from the self-proclaimed waxaholic, but they were four glorious cards that tell a story of our fine continent.

in addition to the gilliam card, there were two 1977 o-pee-chee cards.  now, everyone knows all about o-pee-chee cards (thanks in some part to my blog, i hope), and the brighter backs associated with our northern neighbors' cards are an increasingly welcome sight for my aging eyes.  here's ron cey's 1977 o-pee-chee card back:
with a native american on it!

the other o-pee-chee card was the dave lopes/bill north league leaders card, and here is its back:
it's slightly miscut, with some of the grass that should be on the bottom of the card leaking onto the top of the card, but otherwise very clean.  and yes, don baylor once stole 52 bases.

the last card of the trade was this 2014 topps 75th anniversary buyback of vic davalillo
davalillo was famously (at least to us dodger fans) plucked from the mexican league during the 1977 season, and wound up getting one of most memorable pinch-hits in dodger history (but not the most, obviously). davalillo came up to bat for lance rautzhan with two outs and nobody on base in game 3 of the 1977 nlcs. the dodgers were trailing 5-3, and were on the verge of falling behind in the series two games to one.  davalillo bunted for a hit, and the game winning rally was on. and then reggie jackson destroyed my dreams.

so there you have it - a great trade between canada and the us, featuring cards with ties to both countries plus mexico.  as long as there are adam laroche cards to be uncovered (along with various other braves and hockey folks), i will support free trades like this one.  thanks captain!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

singing a song of six swatch signatures

i've been very pleased with panini's higher end offerings of late. this one comes from 2016 national treasures
that would be pieces of glove, jersey, glove, glove, glove, glove.  and an on-card auto.  very happy to add this one to my steve garvey collection!

and while we are on the subject of panini, the daily dimwit is back at it, lured out of his blogging hiatus to write about some awesome panini gets.  go take a look for the hits, stay for his wits.

Monday, March 6, 2017

100 words a post habit

robert at $30 a week habit sent me five cards from my want list in exchange for one hundred words.

here's one that would be much better without a cub in the middle.
here's one that is shiny and sparkly and frankly rather distracting in its design.
here's one that would be much better if it were able to show the dodger logos.
here's another one that suffers from not allowing logos.
and yet another that is also of a strange size.
but they are all cards that i want and/or "need" and so they are very much appreciated.

Friday, March 3, 2017

updating the topps dodger autograph project

last week i received a few ttm request returns, one of which i'll show here.  new cub brett anderson signed and returned the 2015 topps update card that i had sent him just over a year ago.  
this also allows me to fill a spot in my topps dodger autograph project for 2015 topps update.  as you might recall, i tried to secure at least one signed dodger card (ideally freely obtained through the mail) for each topps flagship set, starting with the 1951 red/blue backs, without repeating a player.  i don't officially consider update sets to be a part of the project, but i note them if i have them.  

speaking of update, i received a 2014 topps update scott van slyke card signed by mr. svs himself
sometime last year, so i've added that to the collection as well.

here's the updated tally of the project:

1951 topps - preacher roe (purchased)
1952 topps - rocky bridges
1953 topps - bobby morgan
1954 topps - billy herman (purchased)
1955 topps - don zimmer (purchased)
1956 topps - randy jackson
1957 topps - carl erskine
1958 topps - joe pignatano
1959 topps - fred kipp
1960 topps - chuck essegian
1961 topps - bob aspromonte
1962 topps - norm sherry
1963 topps - ed roebuck
1964 topps - ken mcmullen
1965 topps - dick tracewski
1966 topps - john kennedy
1967 topps - phil regan
1968 topps - jim campanis
1969 topps - jeff torborg
1970 topps - al mcbean
1971 topps - sandy vance
1972 topps - manny mota
1973 topps - wes parker
1974 topps - claude osteen
1974 topps traded - jim wynn
1975 topps - ron cey
1975 topps mini - joe ferguson
1976 topps - bill russell
1976 topps traded - dusty baker
1977 topps - steve garvey
1978 topps - dave lopes
1979 topps - charlie hough
1980 topps - jerry reuss
1981 topps - doug rau
1981 topps traded - ken landreaux
1982 topps - dave goltz
1982 topps traded - jose morales
1983 topps - ron roenicke
1983 topps traded - rafael landestoy
1984 topps - fernando valenzuela
1984 topps traded - mike vail
1985 topps - burt hooton
1985 topps traded - mariano duncan
1986 topps - enos cabell
1986 topps traded - franklin stubbs
1987 topps - steve sax
1987 topps traded - matt young
1988 topps - len matuszek
1988 topps traded - jay howell
1989 topps - mickey hatcher
1990 topps - kal daniels
1990 topps traded - juan samuel
1991 topps - tim belcher
1992 topps - roger mcdowell
1993 topps - dave hansen
1993 topps traded - tim wallach
1994 topps - jody reed
1995 topps - chris gwynn
1996 topps - todd hollandsworth
1997 topps - brett butler
1998 topps - greg gagne
1999 topps - jose vizcaino
2000 topps - jeff shaw
2001 topps - chan ho park
2002 topps - andy ashby
2002 topps traded - joel hanrahan
2003 topps - jim tracy
2003 topps traded - ron coomer
2004 topps - edwin jackson
2004 topps traded - milton bradley
2005 topps - chad billingsley
2005 topps update & highlights - jason phillips
2006 topps - bill mueller
2007 topps - james loney
2007 topps update & highlights - andy laroche
2008 topps - delwyn young
2008 topps update & highlights - casey blake
2009 topps - matt kemp
2009 topps update & highlights - brad ausmus
2010 topps - juan pierre
2010 topps update & highlights - ronnie belliard
2011 topps - hong-chih kuo
2011 topps update & highlights - matt guerrier
2012 topps - nathan eovaldi
2012 topps update & highlights - matt treanor
2013 topps - randy choate
2013 topps update - clayton kershaw
2014 topps - ricky nolasco
2014 topps update - scott van slyke
2015 topps - 
2015 topps update - brett anderson

i'm holding out hope for one of the few 2015 flagship cards i've sent out to be returned.  we'll see.

thanks brett and scott!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

catching up on memorials

there were a number of memorials worn by a variety of teams in 2015 that i did not write about, even after finding cardboard representations to include in my memorials binder.  here are a few

sara l. buck was a minority owner of the philadelphia phillies who passed away in august of 2014 at the age of 83.  the phillies were already wearing a patch for another minority owner who had died in february of that year (claire betz), so they waited until 2015 to wear a patch for buck.  here's a 2015 topps update card of jeff francoeur showing the "slb" patch:
buck was part of the ownership group that bought the phillies in 1981.  the phillies previously wore a memorial patch for both her husband and her brother-in-law during the 2011 season.

the cardinals wore a memorial patch during the 2015 season for their teammate oscar taveras who died shortly after the 2014 season ended.  here's matt holliday's 2015 topps update card that shows the  "ot" patch:
taveras had a blood alcohol content much higher than the legal limit when he crashed his car into a tree in his native dominican republic, killing himself and his girlfriend. he had made his major league debut earlier that year, and was one of baseball's most highly touted prospects.  he was only 22 years old.

the former san francisco giants (and 49ers) and oakland a's broadcaster lon simmons died in april of 2015 at the age of 91.  the giants honored him with a "lon" patch on their left sleeves worn during the regular season.  here's ryan vogelsong's 2015 topps update card with the patch visible:
simmons broadcast giant games from 1958 through 1973.  he returned to the booth in 1976 and stayed for three years before joining the oakland a's broadcast team in 1981.  his tenure with the a's lasted through 1995, and so simmons was in the booth during the 1989 world series when the a's beat the giants.  he returned to the giants' booth in 1996 and retired following the 2002 season, although he returned to work a few games during the 2006 season.  simmons received the ford c. frick award from the hall of fame in 2004, and he was inducted into the bay area radio hall of fame two years later.

1953 american league mvp al rosen spent his entire 10-year career with the indians, and after he died in march of 2015, the club added a patch with his number 7 to their jerseys.  you can see the patch on francisco lindor's 2015 topps update rookie debut card:
rosen came within one hit of winning the triple crown in 1953 (he hit .336 to mickey vernon's .337), and led the league with 43 homers and 145 rbi.  he was a late season call-up for cleveland and had one at bat in the world series in 1948, but he still won a ring that year.  he was a big part of the team that won the pennant in 1954, but played for only two more seasons after that. rosen also served as the president of the yankees from 1978-1979, and as general manager of the astros from 1980-1985 and of the giants from 1986-1992. he was named the sporting news executive of the year in 1987 as he helped guide the giants to the nlcs for the first time since 1971.  two years later, under rosen's watch, the giants won the pennant for only the second time since moving to san francisco.  rosen was 91 years old when he died.

billy pierce died at the age of 88 on july 31, 2015, and the white sox soon thereafter added a patch to their uniforms featuring his number 19.  the patch was placed below the minnie minoso "9" patch (although mike olt's jersey had it above the minoso patch
at least once) already being worn to honor minoso, who had passed away in march.  tyler saladino's 2016 topps card shows both patches nicely:
pierce spent 13 years with the white sox (1949-1961), and led the league in each triple crown category once during his tenure with the club.  he was a member of the 1959 pennant winning team, having started 33 games during the regular season, but was used only as a reliever during the world series as chicago lost to the dodgers. pierce ranks highly on the white sox franchise leaderboard in many categories, and his 1,796 career strikeouts are most in team history.  his number 19 was retired by the club in 1987, and he is featured on the outfield mural (i hope it is still in place) at whatever the new comiskey ballpark is called these days.

milo hamilton was a broadcaster who worked for a number of teams, beginning with the st. louis browns in 1953. he also broadcast games for the st. louis cardinals, chicago cubs, chicago white sox, atlanta braves, pittsburgh pirates, chicago cubs (again), and finally, the houston astros.  while he may be best known for his call of hank aaron's 715th home run during his time as the braves' broadcaster, hamilton spent 26 years calling astros games, from 1987 through his retirement after the 2012 season. so, when he died on september 27, 2015, it was fitting that the astros added a memorial patch to their jerseys for the remainder of the season.  here's mike fiers' 2016 topps opening day card with the "mh" patch:
hamilton received the ford c. frick award in 1992 from the hall of fame, and was inducted into the national radio hall of fame in 2000.

there were also a couple of memorials in 2016 that i doubt will make their way to cardboard, although i will keep an eye out as new sets roll out this year.  just in case, however, i'll mention them here.

first up, the oakland a's honored former players tony phillips and dave henderson on opening day of the 2016 season.  in the getty images photo below, billy burns is wearing the "tp" patch above the "hendu" patch on his left chest
phillips, who played for the a's from 1982 through 1989 and again in his final season of 1999, died in february, 2015 at the age of 56.  he had a pretty good career with 1300 runs scored, over 2000 hits, and over 1300 walks while playing for six different franchises.  henderson is best remembered for his home run in game 6 of the 1986 alcs while with the red sox, but he played for the a's from 1988 through 1993, and was a big part of their dynasty that won three straight pennants from 1988 through 1990.  henderson was 57 when he died in december of 2015.

the last memorial i'll mention was somewhat of a makeshift one.  there was no patch, but rather an armband of sorts.  on april 22, 2016, the twins wore purple wristbands (and other accessories) while in washington d.c. to honor musician and minnesota native prince, who died at his home in chanhassen, minnesota the previous day.  here's a getty images photo of another minnesota native, joe mauer, wearing one of the wristbands on his left arm:
the twins wore the purple again when they returned to target field on april 25, and some of the visiting indian players did likewise, as shown in this getty images photo of brian dozier and marlon byrd
i was sure that topps now would have a card from this game, as oswaldo arcia hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the bottom of the 9th, but as we all know, topps did not apply their "now" criteria evenly across teams last year.  at any rate, it was a nice tribute to prince, who was a fan of his hometown's teams.

so far this year, there are two memorials that i am aware of. the marlins will wear a patch for jose fernandez (continuing the tribute that began during the last week of the 2016 season), and the royals will wear a patch to honor yordano ventura.  i would also guess that the tigers will wear a patch for mike ilitch, similar to the one that the red wings have added to their jerseys.