Friday, July 23, 2021

3 if by shortstop

i remember from world history class in high school that julius caeser was part of the first triumvirate. i don't recall the names of the other two guys because history favors the bold, i guess; or at least the guy who gets murdered and becomes the title character in a shakespeare play. anyway, back in the late 1990's and early 2000's, there were a trio of superstar shortstops playing in the american league - nomar garciaparra, alex rodriguez, and derek jeter. they were shown together on this 2001 fleer premium card:
this triumvirate came to an end in 2004 when rodriguez was traded to the yankees and agreed to move to third base so that jeter could remain at short. rodriguez was the better shortstop, not to mention the reigning mvp and gold glove winner at the position, but jeter was the captain. and then there was nomar, who had two batting titles to his name but had the misfortune to be sitting on the bench during a game in which jeter went head first in to the stands and showed tremendous grit and leadership in doing so.

yes, i am being sarcastic, because while i was a fan of this tremendous trio of shortstops, jeter was my least favorite. i liked a-rod, but not as much as i liked nomar. i am glad that i got to see all three play in person during their primes, but nomar is the only one of the three that ever threw me a ball.  more on that in a bit.

today is nomar's 48th birthday, and it is hard to believe that he's been retired since the end of the 2009 season. i figured that now was a good time to share the cards of him that i have in my favorite non-dodger of the year, and favorite dodger of the year mini-collections. when shawn green joined the dodgers for the 2000 season, i switched my favorite non-dodger allegiance to nomar. part of the reason for that was that i had been in boston the weekend before the 1999 all-star game, and there was a buzz. a lot of people talking about nomar and his batting average which was around .360. i saw him play in person for the first time later that season at the metrodome, and choosing him as my new favorite player was easy.

2000: upper deck legends
i was a fan of upper deck's follow up to their fantastic 1999 century legends release, so this choice was easy.

2001: donruss classics
i also really liked the donruss classics sets. they seemed fancy.

2002: upper deck vintage
a total ripoff of topps/o-pee-chee but i loved it.

2003: upper deck first pitch
i almost used this card to represent the ted williams memorial patch/armband in my memorials collection, but didn't. i'm glad it's in this mini-collection.

2004: topps traded
i really like seeing the exxon cars from pac bell/at&t/whatever park on cards. i thought about having a mini-collection of them at one time, but decided against it. i am glad that this card has made its way into one of my mini-collections after all.

2005: topps heritage new age performers
i don't know what the criteria for being a "new age performer" was, but nomar was definitely not performing at his best after the trade from the red sox. he missed over three months of the 2005 season due to a terrible hamstring injury, but came back to hit .318 over the last two months of the campaign.

and then the dodgers signed nomar as a free agent and traded away milton bradley who had been my favorite dodger during the 2005 season. sliding nomar into that slot was a no(mar)-brainer.

2006: upper deck national baseball card day
his first half of the 2006 season was so great. he was hitting around .360 at the all-star break (just like '99!) and i got to see him play in person in four different ballparks in june and july. in those games i saw at coors field, the metrodome, angel stadium, and dodger stadium, he was 9 for 23 with five doubles and a home run. my favorite memory, however, is from the june 30 game in anaheim. we were sitting behind the dodger dugout and after the end of one of the innings that ended with a putout at first base, nomar threw the ball to me. i, of course, handed it over to a kid in my row and received nice applause from the crowd around us.

unfortunately for nomar, the dodgers called up matt kemp in 2006 and he became my favorite dodger the following year. still, nomar remains one of my favorite players to have followed and root for. happy birthday to him! 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

my favorite cards of the year - 2010 edition

i recently introduced my mini collection focusing on my favorite cards from each year that i've been a collector. the basic gist is that i wanted to create a space for the cards that i most appreciated having in my collection in the year that they were released. these were cards that i acquired in the year that they were issued, and that i considered to be my favorites at the time. i have disallowed (most) cards that are already in other mini collections in order to avoid having a mini collection consisting of more steve garvey, double plays, and dodger stadium cards.

in 2010, the twins moved in to their new ballpark and were defending central division champs after having missed the playoffs for a couple of years. there was a lot of optimism and buzz around the team and the stadium. similarly, the dodgers were coming off of back-to-back nlcs visits for the first time since 1977 and 1978. i was all in on both teams, and i think my favorite cards from those years reflects that.

favorite non-dodger card: upper deck biography alexi casilla
after being disappointed with upper deck's 2008 documentary release, i was pleasantly surprised with their biography inserts in their final baseball release. it was certainly less ambitious than documentary, but ultimately more successful. it was more of a highlights insert set along the lines of the topps year in review inserts from 2008 (which was a sort of pre-cursor to "topps now"). 

anyway, game 163 of the 2009 season was a big deal here in the twin cities. the twins had tied the tigers for the american central division lead with a couple of games to go in the season, and they wound up remaining tied through 162 games. game 163 had the potential to be the final baseball game in the metrodome, but the twins made sure that wasn't the case. despite giving up a run in the top of the 10th, they tied the score in the bottom of the inning and then won the game in the bottom of the 12th on a base hit by alexi casilla. given the fact that the game was won by non-star players and the twins went on to get swept in the playoffs (as is their wont to do), i was both surprised and excited to find this card in a pack the following year.

favorite dodger card: upper deck biography orlando hudson
same set! prior to orlando hudson completing the cycle at the dodgers' home opener in 2009, no dodger had ever completed the feat in my lifetime. the last dodger to do it before hudson was wes parker during the 1970 season, and parker was the only los angeles dodger to complete the feat as well. i was watching the game and was pretty excited when hudson doubled to make it three-fourths of the way to the cycle in the bottom of the fourth inning. all three of those hits came against randy johnson, too. hudson tripled in the sixth against a reliever to complete the feat and another thing that i had never seen came to pass. i was excited to find this card in a pack a year later, even though the text is wrong and hudson got a fifth (his final) at bat in which he struck out.

i guess what you are learning is that i like cards that i can tie to specific games or events.

next up, 1984 - stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

350 is a magic number - lucky 7s

a few weeks ago i noted that i was pondering the idea of adding a number type mini-collection to my collection. of the options i considered - 190, 272, 350, or none at all - i decided to go with 350. i kicked the posts of the collection off last week with the 8s. this time i'll feature the 7s.

1957 topps #350
eddie miksis received the inaugural number 350 as far as standard card sized topps sets go, and in no way represents this spot on the checklist as a "hero number". back then, topps was still putting the major stars up front in the set - ted williams was card number 1 in the 1957 set for example - and guys like miksis filled in the set later on. not that he was a bad ballplayer. miksis made his big league debut before his 18th birthday and backed up the likes of pee wee reese and jackie robinson while with the dodgers prior to a late-1951 trade to the cubs. for the 1957 season, miksis joined the cardinals, but didn't play for them much. he ended the season in baltimore.

1967 topps #350
joe torre was most definitely a star when this card was issued. in the team's first year in atlanta, torre maintained his status as an all-star for the fourth consecutive season. the future mvp saw his production dip in 1967, and he was dealt to the cardinals prior to the 1969 season after another similar season for the braves in 1968.

1977 topps #350 
larry dierker was past his prime in 1976, and i have to believe that if topps was fully subscribing to the idea of hero numbers, they gave this one to dierker based on his no-hitter that he threw in july of '76 against the expos. otherwise, dierker was just another starter on a bad team. he spent 1977 with the cardinals after being traded for joe ferguson before the season began, and didn't pitch in the majors after that season ended.

1987 topps #350
kieth hernandez was a reigning world champion when this card was issued, having helped the mets beat the red sox in seven games in the unforgettable 1986 fall classic. hernandez also supplanted steve garvey as the national league's starting first baseman that year, just as he had ended garvey's run of gold gloves almost a decade earlier. this card also had me thinking about #350 back when it came out. i used to look at the checklists that i pulled from packs to see who the hero numbers were each year, and seeing hernandez in this spot after jack clark was featured there in 1986 made me think that maybe there was a method to topps' checklist madness. 

1997 topps #350
kenny lofton was at the peak of his game in 1996, as he set career highs in hits, runs, doubles, and stolen bases for cleveland. unfortunately, cleveland fell in the first round of the playoffs and lofton was traded to atlanta for the 1997 season. his former teammates wound up falling to the marlins in the 1997 fall classic, with his replacement in center field (marquis grissom) was the mvp of the alcs and hit .360 in the world series. lofton was back in cleveland, replacing grissom, for the 1998 season. it is worth mentioning here that lofton's card photo is very similar to the image on chuck carr's 1998 card that also held the 350 slot.

2007 topps #350
chase utley put up a career year in 2006 to earn number 350 in the 2007 set. in addition to the 35-game hitting streak mentioned on the back of his card, he had over 100 runs, 200 hits, 30 homers, 100 rbi, and a batting average over .300. that is professional hitting at its best. he was an all-star for the first time, although the phillies finished out of the playoff picture. in 2007, utley had another strong year and helped the phillies return to october baseball for the first time since the 1993 world series.

2017 topps #350
david ortiz ended his career with the 2016 season, and his remarkable final performance earned him number 350 in the 2017 set. although the red sox were swept in the alds by cleveland in the postseason. ortiz held his own during the regular season and went out with a bang with one of the best seasons of his career.

i am tracking a few things in an effort to find any consistency with number 350, although there really isn't any. still, i am keeping track of the following occurrences, now through two posts:

number of reigning mvps: 0

number of reigning cy young winners: 0

number of reigning world series champions: 1 (keith hernandez)

number of reigning pennant winners: 3 (steve garvey, keith hernandez, clayton kershaw)

number of reigning league leaders: 5 (keith hernandez - walks; kenny lofton - sb; chase utley - runs; david ortiz - doubles, rbi; clayton kershaw - wins, era)

number of repeat players: 0

number of dodgers: 2 (steve garvey, clayton kershaw)

frequency of teams: dodgers (2), cardinals (2), astros (2), braves (2), white sox, giants, mets, indians, phillies, red sox 

i will have another post with another run of cards soon - stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

larry doby is in my hall of famer collection

larry doby, the first player to break the color barrier in the american league, is in my hall of famer collection with this card as his entry:
that's a 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph.  here's the back:
i just love that set.

i first learned about doby as being jackie robinson's counterpart in the american league, but later came to understand that thinking of him that way was a disservice to doby's own individual merits. yes, he was the second black player and first american leaguer to enter the majors in 1947, making his debut on july 5 for the indians which was just under two weeks before the st. louis browns added hank thompson to their roster, but he was also a hall of fame player in his own right.

doby's career began in 1942 with the newark eagles of the negro leagues when he was just 18, and in 1946 he helped them defeat the kansas city monarchs to claim the league championship. bill veeck signed him and arranged for him to join the indians during the 1947 season. while doby struggled that year, he went on to help the indians win the world series the following year, becoming the first african-american to hit a home run in the fall classic along the way.

doby was an all-star for seven consecutive seasons with the indians, from 1949 to 1955. he twice led the league in home runs, including in 1954 when he also led the league in rbi and finished second in the mvp voting as the indians once again took the pennant while winning a then-record 111 regular season games. he also played for the white sox and tigers during his 13-year major league career, and amassed over 1,500 hits and 250 home runs. he was voted in to the hall of fame by the veterans' committee in 1998.

here's my hall of famer collection as its been documented so far:

babe ruth - 2003 topps tribute world series edition world series tribute relic 351/425

honus wagner - 2001 topps tribute relic

nap lajoie - 2002 topps tribute milestone materials relic

tris speaker - 2011 topps tribute dual relic green parallel 53/75

eddie collins - 2002 topps tribute milestone materials relic

george sisler - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute relic

lou gehrig - 2010 topps tribute relic 96/99

rogers hornsby - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute relic

jimmie foxx - 2013 topps tribute retired remnants relic 91/99

mel ott - 2011 topps tribute quad relic 15/99

paul waner - 2002 topps tribute milestone materials relic

dizzy dean - 2001 topps tribute relic

hank greenberg - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute relic

zack wheat - 2002 topps tribute milestone materials relic 

bob feller - 2001 topps archives certified autograph

jackie robinson - 2004 topps clubhouse collection clubhouse relic

ted williams - 1992 upper deck baseball heroes autograph 1067/2000

roy campanella - 2001 topps tribute relic

stan musial - 2002 topps team topps legends autograph

yogi berra - 1998 donruss signatures significant signatures 1640/2000

sandy koufax - 1998 donruss signatures significant signatures 1707/2000

roberto clemente - 2005 donruss greats hall of fame souvenirs relic

warren spahn - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

mickey mantle - 2000 upper deck legends legendary game jerseys relic

ralph kiner - 2000 fleer greats of the game autograph

ernie banks - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

eddie mathews - 1999 fleer sports illustrated greats of the game autograph

willie mays - 1997 topps willie mays reprints certified autograph

al kaline - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

duke snider - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 144/250

bob gibson - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

hank aaron - 2004 topps originals 1979 topps all-time record holders rbi 03/32

frank robinson - 1995 upper deck autograph

juan marichal - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

brooks robinson - 2001 topps golden anniversary great autograph

don drysdale - 1993 nabisco all-star autographs

harmon killebrew - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures

pee wee reese - 2001 topps tribute relic

lou brock - 2018 topps archives signature series 1989 buyback 53/61

willie mccovey - 
2004 upper deck sp legendary cuts legendary sigs 46/50

ray dandridge - 2006 upper deck sp legendary cuts a place in history cut autograph 31/43

jim hunter - 1998 donruss signature series significant signatures 0736/2000

billy williams - 2013 topps museum collection autograph 054/199

willie stargell - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures 

johnny bench - 2019 topps definitive collection legendary autograph 09/25

red schoendienst - 2012 panini cooperstown signatures 038/549

carl yastrzemski - 2000 fleer greats of the game autograph

joe morgan - 2001 upper deck hall of famers cooperstown collection signature jersey

jim palmer - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

rod carew - 2004 topps retired signature autograph

fergie jenkins - 2013 topps five star baseball autograph 154/333

gaylord perry - 2003 topps finest finest moments autograph

rollie fingers - 2018 topps archives signature series 1978 topps buyback 1/3

hal newhouser - 1993 front row premium all-time greats autograph

tom seaver - 2013 topps five star baseball autograph 44/50

reggie jackson - 2018 topps tier one tier one talent autograph 19/60

steve carlton - 2018 topps five star career year autograph 43/45

mike schmidt - 2002 topps archives autoproof 1980 topps buyback 048/147

nellie fox - 2002 topps tribute milestone materials relic

phil niekro - 2017 panini donruss recollection collection 1983 donruss buyback autograph 13/33

larry doby - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

don sutton - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

george brett - 2001 topps finest finest moments autograph

nolan ryan - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

robin yount - 2001 upper deck ultimate collection ultimate signatures 112/150

carlton fisk - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

tony perez - 2004 fleer national pastime 2002 fleer greats authentic autograph buyback 30/59

kirby puckett - 1998 upper deck retro sign of the times autograph

dave winfield - 2003 upper deck sp authentic chirography hall of famers 121/350

ozzie smith - 2019 topps finest finest origins autograph

gary carter - 1999 fleer sports illustrated greats of the game autograph collection

eddie murray - 2004 upper deck sp legendary cuts legendary sigs 45/50 

dennis eckersley - 2017 topps archives signature series 1984 topps buyback 47/99

paul molitor - 2016 topps museum collection archival autographs 021/125

wade boggs - 2005 upper deck baseball heroes autograph red parallel 30/49

ryne sandberg - 2016 topps five star autographs gold parallel 17/50

bruce sutter - 2003 topps all-time fan favorites certified autograph

tony gwynn - 1997 donruss signature series millennium marks autograph 0702/1000

cal ripken jr - 2018 topps high tek portraitek autograph 32/75

goose gossage - 2003 topps finest finest moments autograph

rickey henderson - 2016 topps tribute certified foundations of greatness autograph 49/50

jim rice - 2005 upper deck past time pennants past time signatures

andre dawson - 2000 fleer greats of the game autograph

roberto alomar - 2015 topps high tek pattern 1 grass/waves gold rainbow autograph 50/50

bert blyleven - 2004 upper deck legends timeless teams autograph

ron santo - 2004 topps retired signature autograph

tom glavine - 2019 topps tribute autograph 18/90

greg maddux - 2018 topps luminaries masters of the mound autograph 13/15

frank thomas - 2019 topps tier one autographs 42/70

craig biggio - 2013 topps five star baseball autograph 019/333

randy johnson - 2019 topps tek high tek autograph

pedro martinez - 2018 topps high tek portraitek autograph 09/60

ken griffey jr - 2003 upper deck game face autograph

mike piazza - 2014 topps five star autograph 35/50

tim raines - 2018 topps tribute tribute autograph green parallel 26/95

vladimir guerrero - 2000 upper deck legends legendary signatures

chipper jones - 2018 topps tier one tier one talent autograph 11/60

jim thome - 2020 topps archives signature series 2012 topps mini 1/1

jack morris - 2004 donruss timelines recollection collection 1986 buyback autograph 23/45

alan trammell - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

roy halladay - 2017 topps archives signature series 2004 topps buyback 15/23

edgar martinez - 2017 topps tribute walk off autograph 17/50

ted simmons - 2013 panini golden age historic signatures

larry walker - 1997 donruss signature series authentic signature

joe jackson* - 2001 upper deck sp legendary cuts sp legendary debut bat card

pete rose* - 2018 panini flawless legendary signatures 15/25

barry bonds* - 2001 bowman heritage autographs

roger clemens* - 1995 upper deck autograph

alex rodriguez* - 1998 upper deck sp authentic chirography autograph

*not currently in the national baseball hall of fame

you can find the full list of hall of famers (and some not - yet) that i aim to include in this collection at my want list site.