Thursday, June 28, 2018

i collect any and all don sutton cards

i've been spending some time with my long neglected post-dodger career player collections. these are the cards that i collect of the primary starters from the team of my youth that left the dodgers to play or coach or announce elsewhere.  aside from the infield, this includes dusty baker, rick monday, reggie smith, steve yeager, tommy lasorda, and don sutton.  don sutton was the first to leave. 

the fact that sutton began his career as a dodger means that i collect all of his cards (as opposed to someone like reggie smith who played for the red sox and cardinals before he entered my radar and collection).  sutton has some pretty decent cards from his travels, including some nice looks as an astro:

2005 upper deck hall of fame cooperstown calling green /25
1982 kellogg's
1982 o-pee-chee in action
those are just some of the recent additions to my don sutton post-dodger collection.  i think that, as cool as the tequila sunrise uniforms are, sutton's variety of cards as a brewer is a bigger highlight of the collection.  here are some brewers gardner's cards from 1983
and 1984
pretty sure gardner's was a bread company.  food issues are great, just like the 1985 mother's cookies a's card of sutton shown below

after oakland, sutton went to the angels, who (like the dodgers) had a deal with smokey bear to promote wildfire prevention. here's a 1986 smokey's angels don sutton card
that features his post-300th victory press conference.

still, it is tough to beat the brewers for oddball suttons.  this is a 1992 brewers carlson travel oddball
that celebrated the 10th anniversary of the brew crew winning the american league pennant.  you'll notice that united airlines is also a sponsor.  more suttoning, by the way.

here's the back:
yet another sponsor! tv-6 witi wanted in on the action.  that's great stuff.

here's yet another sutton brewer oddball - a 1994 miller genuine draft brewers 25th anniversary card
truly, the appropriate sponsor for a brewers card.

you may have noticed that there are 9 cards featured in this post, which means i am using it to qualify for daniel's contest at it's like having my own card shop.

you can see which sutton cards i still "need" here - any help is appreciated!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

a marlins memorial patch for the pride of bayamo

from their inception in 1993 up until april of 2017, the marlins' spanish broadcasts had been handled by rafael 'felo' ramirez, a cuban born announcer who had been calling sports since 1945.  he passed away in august of 2017, prompting the marlins to add a memorial patch to their right sleeve.

the marlins were already wearing a patch on their chests for teammate jose fernandez who passed away near the end of the 2016 season, so the felo patch - a microphone with 'felo' superimposed upon it - went on their sleeve above the all-star game patch.

i picked up a 2017 topps now card of jt realmuto that shows both memorial patches
and then pulled this giancarlo stanton card from 2018 topps that shows the felo patch as well.
i also pulled this dillon peters card from 2018 topps gypsy queen that shows the patch.
i think i'll keep the peters card in my memorials binder.

ramirez, also known as 'the pride of bayamo', announced games in puerto rico and venezuela for decades, to go along with his years of all-star game and world series work for latin american stations.  he received the ford c. frick award from the baseball hall of fame in 2001.  he was 94 years old when he passed.

Monday, June 25, 2018

don baylor's 1979 season was a year too late for me

two of the first memories i have surrounding major league baseball are the pack of 1977 topps cards that my uncle gave me and the 1977 world series.  the 1978 season was the one during which i really took notice of cards and the game itself.  living where i did, we had the dodgers on kttv and the radio, as well as the angels on ktla and the radio.  as a burgeoning baseball fan, i watched a fair amount of angels baseball that year, with don drysdale and ron fairly (two former dodgers, my dad would point out) doing the halos' tv broadcasts.  still, ours was a dodger-first household, and i listened to a high number of games while sitting at the table with my dad and his transistor radio.  my dodger fandom was certainly secured by those moments, and it didn't hurt to have vin scully calling games, nor to have the dodgers en route to another world series.

1979 came along and the dodgers were seemingly out of contention by the beginning of summer.  meanwhile, the angels were in first place by then, working towards their first playoff berth in franchise history.  as i mentioned above, my dodger fandom was secure, but i did find myself pulling for the angels and their left fielder, don baylor.

baylor's 1978 topps card was one of my favorites, and he became my first favorite non-dodger player as he tore up the american league in 1979.  my family went to an angels game that year while on a disneyland visit, and i created a don baylor t-shirt for the occasion (i'm sure my dad has a picture of me in it somewhere, but i don't have access to it at the moment).  baylor's final line - 36 home runs, 139 rbi, .296 batting average, 120 runs scored - netted him the league mvp.  

i was truly saddened to learn that baylor had cancer after he suffered a broken leg on opening day, 2014 - he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003, but i guess i had missed that news. at the time of the injury, baylor was the angels' hitting coach, and had tried to catch the ceremonial first pitch thrown by the only other angels' mvp (up to that point), vladimir guerrero.

baylor coached through the 2015 season before retiring, and he passed away in august of 2017 at the age of 68.  the angels quickly added a 'baylor 25' patch to their jerseys in his memory.  here's a 2017 topps now albert pujols card that shows the patch
although it is partially obscured by the medallion pujols is wearing.  here's a better look at pujols with the patch, courtesy of topps series 2:

thanks to his being acquired by the angels at the end of august, justin upton's 2018 cards show the patch pretty well.  here's his 2018 topps card
and his 2018 topps gypsy queen card
it's the latter that i have in my official memorials collection.

along with my fandom of the game, my card collecting hobby holds a strong connection with baylor.  yes, i was a big fan of his 1978 card, but i also have 3 of his 1971 rookie card - one for my dodger team set (tom paciorek is also on the card), one for my evolution of the 1978 topps dodgers collection (dusty baker is also on the card), and one for my 1971 complete set.  and who knows - if i had not started following baseball until 1979, perhaps i would have had a blog named 'baylor carew ryan grich'.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

a short printed dodger stadium card falls short

i had my eye out from the get go last year for david ortiz final tribute cards.  in addition to looking out for my mini-collection, he and i arrived in minnesota at about the same time, and so i had followed his career with a fair amount of interest.  i soon discovered, as did all collectors, that topps was up to its variation shenanigans with ortiz's final card.  most were easily ignored by me, but i did want the card that showed ortiz in dodger stadium.

over a year later, i was able to procure one for a decent price.
unfortunately, the photo selection is underwhelming.  still, it is dodger stadium in the background, and the card will go in the dodger stadium binder rather than the final tribute one.

i did add a different final tribute for big papi to the collection, however - his 2017 topps chrome card
complete with truncated year-by-year stats on the back
ortiz was 0 for 6 lifetime at chavez ravine, with a walk and a strikeout. i would count this card as a swing and a miss for both ortiz and dodger stadium.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

silver scribble superstar success

los angeles dodgers in the hall of fame are not as plentiful as you might think.  pee wee reese (one season only!), duke snider, sandy koufax, don drysdale, walter alston, don sutton, and tom lasorda.  that's it, obviously discounting the likes of rickey henderson, frank robinson, jim bunning, greg maddux, juan marichal, gary carter, eddie murray, and hoyt wilhelm who did suit up for the dodgers in la, but were not really associated with the club in the grander scheme of things.

my collection includes cards signed by all seven of the dodger hall of famers listed above - some certified, some not - plus half of the other guys.  and then there is mike piazza.

i would put piazza in the first category of dodger hall of famers, but the actual hall of fame doesn't see it that way, and so he is a met for all of eternity.  still, when i was putting together my all-autograph team for the recent blog bat around, i realized that there was a hole in my collection.  i did not own a piazza autographed card.  i set out to find one, and settled on a 2015 topps tier one parallel.
the card had to show piazza as a dodger, and boast an on-card signature.  this one, numbered out of 10, checks both of those boxes.

piazza's number 31 was sort of unofficially retired by the dodgers (steve garvey's 6 was given the same treatment for 21 years, and fernando valenzuela's number 34 still hasn't been worn since he was released by the club in 1991) until brad penny came along in 2005.  it is currently being worn by joc pederson, and the dodgers have shown no inclination to officially retire it in piazza's honor.  it would be a completely different story had he entered the hall as a dodger.  at any rate, i am happy to have a piazza auto in my collection even as scribbly as it is.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

are you not embarrassed, topps?

last year i noted that i was embarassed to be buying topps product that seemed to lack basic quality control when it came to the copy on the cards.  then there was the legal battle over an erroneous topps now card that was corrected between the purchase and the shipping of the card, not to mention a number of textual errors that have been identified on other topps now cards.  wrigley wax recently pointed out the crappy job topps did with the back of brandon morrow's living set card, and then i found this in a pack of 2018 topps series 2:
that's the back of scott kazmir's card.  i don't mind that he has a card even though he hasn't thrown a pitch since 2016, but i just wish topps would review their writing. i don't know exactly how card backs are created, but i would imagine that should be a standard text cell for when a player misses a season. what exactly does "did not player - injured" mean, anyway?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

that escalated quickly

i have always liked the cards that link the past to the present like the donruss passing the torch cards from the 90s, and so i was interested in seeing the 'past and present' cards offered up by panini in their 2018 diamond kings set.

i actually opened a few packs and found a mickey mantle/mike trout card, as well as a craig biggio/jose altuve card.  i had assumed that any dodger card would be gil hodges (a diamond kings favorite) or perhaps eric karros (from one roy to another) and cody bellinger, but was holding out hope that steve garvey would get the call.  instead, panini went with adrian gonzalez.
this is akin to a wally pipp/lou gehrig card as bellinger took the first base position directly from gonzalez in 2017 when the latter went on the disabled list.  through last friday, both of these guys were batting .239 on the season, but bellinger seemed to be breaking out with a surge in power.  and then at the end of the week, the mets released gonzalez.

gonzalez was the dodgers' first baseman for about 5 years, replacing james loney who had served for about the same time.  loney's reign had ended a patchwork group of first basemen that followed the departure of the aforementioned karros.  they may not share a card, but bellinger may be able to give karros a run for his money, both in terms of longevity as a dodger first baseman and in career los angeles dodger home runs.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

more 2018 dodger stadium card giveaways!

the dodger stadium baseball card giveaways continued in may with the 1970s and 1980s being featured.  the header card of the '70s set is as close as i will get to a card of the infield, unfortunately.
don sutton was the known dodger legend to be featured in the '70s set
but it was a surprise to me that the same six current players who were featured in the '50s/'60s set were again featured in the '70s set
i had guessed that the '80s set would include tommy lasorda or fernando valenzuela or orel hershiser.  tommy got a shout out on the '70s header card, and fernando and the bulldog were mentioned on the header for the '80s set
but in the end, it was tommy who got the legends card
along with the same current players
topps is making up for lost time with the chris taylor cards.

i found it interesting that topps used the 1985 design for this set for a couple of reasons.  first, they used the 1965 design for the first giveaway. 1965 was a big year for the dodgers as they beat the twins in the world series.  the dodgers didn't win any of the three fall classics they were in during the 1970s, but the use of the 1977 design coincided with one of their nl championships, so it seemed to make sense that way.  1985 was an odd choice given that the dodgers won world championships in both 1981 and 1988, never mind the fact that they lost the nlcs to the cardinals in '85 after being up two games to none.

the '90s set is issued tonight, and i understand that the 1994 design is being used.  the dodgers were in first when the strike hit that year, so who knows what might have happened.  as far as the legend in this set, i will guess mike piazza, but the dodgers haven't really embraced his hall of fame-ness since he was inducted as a met.  we'll see...

Monday, June 11, 2018

the joy and ease (and repetition) of completing a couple of team sets

when team sets are individually packaged, it makes completing them nice and easy.

case in point, the topps factory sealed team sets that have been around for over a decade now.  i used to do a yearly comparison between the flagship team set and that truncated team set, but haven't done one since the truncated 2016 post, and have again decided to forego it this year.  instead, here are four cards from the factory team set - cody bellinger, clayton kershaw, corey seager, and justin turner.
we've seen three of these four images before - the bellinger and kershaw in series 1, and the turner in opening day.  we haven't seen seager's flagship card yet, but he was in opening day with a different photo.  i like the seager card quite a bit, even though he is in pnc park and not dodger stadium.  

i chose those four cards because those four players are also included in the topps national league standout factory set.  here are the cards from that set - also a complete team set as it were.
here, the kershaw and seager cards are different, although they both use the same image as was used in opening day. now that topps is using different photos for some base opening day cards, maybe they will get back to more variety in the factory team sets.

series 2 comes out this week, and with my series 1 team set already complete, i'll be looking forward to knocking that one out as well even though i've likely seen many of the images already.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

a double dipping i did not expect to see

here is a card of matt kemp from 2014.
and here is a card of matt kemp from 2015.
kemp was my favorite player during his dodger tenure.  i was disappointed when he was traded to the padres, and i kept track of his performance even though we both moved on.  things bottomed out for kemp last season in atlanta with a negative war, and it seemed that he was destined for a dh job in oakland or tampa bay.

so, i was as surprised as anyone when the dodgers re-acquired kemp in a salary swap with the braves.  they tried to flip him and found no takers.  to kemp's credit, he saw the writing on the wall and did what he could to earn a roster spot.  now, thanks to his resurgence, i get to root for him in dodger blue and acquire cards like this 2018 topps gypsy queen issue.
kemp is the reigning nl player of the week, and is currently leading the league with a .344 average to go along with a 1.7 war.  he's on track for his highest war since 2011 - the year he posted an 8.0 war and finished second in the mvp voting to ryan braun.  as fate would have it, braun's name was thrown about as a possible dodger acquisition in the last year or so, but he's hitting .229 and playing at replacement level for the brew crew right now which makes the return of matt kemp all the more enjoyable.

here's to many more matt kemp dodger cards, hopefully with gaudy stats on the back!