Sunday, January 29, 2023

harold baines is in my hall of famer collection

continuing a theme here at cards as i see them this week with another post welcoming someone to my hall of famer collection. this time, it's harold baines with this card as his entry:
that card comes from 2003 topps retired signature. here's the back:
not a lot of italicized red on the back there, which indicates what many (most?) baseball fans believed for a long time - harold baines was just very good.

it was certainly a surprise to me when baines was elected by one of the era committees, but he does have some big numbers that fell just short of typical milestones needed for induction. he had just 384 home runs - fewer than his contemporary joe carter - but his 2,866 hits and rbi total of 1,628 show well against other hall of famers classified as right fielders. baines, of course, was a designated hitter for the last two-thirds or so of his career, so that's not necessarily the best comparison.

the only time i saw baines play in person was on july 6, 1999. it was my first (and so far only) visit to camden yards, and the blue jays were playing the orioles. baines had one hit - a double - but it resulted in a game tying rbi. the jays wound up winning the game, and the highlight for me was seeing cal ripken play during his streak and shawn green hitting a home run.

i decided to add baines to my collection sometime last year. he is an official hall of famer, after all, and i saw him play in person. couple those facts with an inexpensive autograph and in to the collection he went. a reminder - you can see all of the players and their cards that comprise my hall of famer collection here

with baines' induction, the door seems wide open to a litany of other "hall of very good" players such as al oliver, dale murphy, dave parker, bobby grich, dwight evans, and dare i dream, steve garvey. i hope it happens!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

scott rolen is in my hall of famer collection

scott rolen was elected to the baseball hall of fame on yesterday, and i've been holding on to this card to mark the occasion. he is now officially a part of my hall of famer collection with this card as his entry:
that is a 2021 topps clearly authentic red parallel autograph, numbered 39 of 50. here's the back:
not much to the backs of these cards, admittedly.

i only saw rolen play in person once, and it was the start of his rookie of the year campaign. on april 1, 1997, the phillies opened the season in dodger stadium. they shut out the dodgers behind curt schilling 3-0 with rolen playing third and going 1 for 5 with an rbi.

once i began playing fantasy baseball in the early 2000's (i had first played in 1988 and 1989 but who wanted to comb the newspaper box scores every morning to track the scoring), rolen was a guy i targeted. he wasn't flashy but put up decent numbers. i was successful with him on my squad a couple of those years, so i paid fairly close attention to his career. by this time, he was a cardinal which was kind of weird as i had started a pc of him in '97.

as i mentioned up top, rolen was the national league's rookie of the year in 1997, the first non-dodger to win the award since jeff bagwell in 1991. rolen was the unanimous selection for the award, by the way. the dodgers had no real rookie to celebrate that year, so i was happy with rolen's win.

even though he falls a bit short of one of my personal checks for hall of fame status for guys who may just be worthy of the hall of very good (hits+bb >3000), his defensive prowess adds to his record, and he is deserving of the honor according to those who vote. i am sure you can find many articles explaining why he was elected (and some as to why he shouldn't have been) so i won't go in to that. i will just say i am happy to have him in my hall of famer collection.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

fred mcgriff is in my hall of famer collection

we will find out in a couple of days if anyone was voted in to the baseball hall of fame as part of the class of 2023. there is already one member who will be inducted later this year, and that is fred mcgriff. i've added him to my hall of famer collection with this card:
that's a 2016 panini pantheon milestone scripts autograph card, numbered 37/99 (here's the back)
and it is a whole lot of blue!

i bought the card just before the announcement of his election in an attempt to avoid a spike in prices, although i am not sure if that is actually happening. i chose a card of mcgriff as a blue jay because it was during his tenure in toronto that i became a fan of his.

my american league allegiances were originally for the angels, and then i bought in to billyball and the oakland a's teams of the early 1980's. by the time 1987 came along, i had sort of gone back to the angels but also had an affinity for the blue jays. with my canadian roots and their success in 1985, i was ready to fully back them once the '87 pennant chase got going.

and, while i was disappointed that the blue jays blew their lead in the al east during the final weekend of the season , i stuck with them as my american league team in 1988, which is when mcgriff really broke out. over the next three seasons, mcgriff played at a superstar level for the blue jays, hitting 34, 36, and 35 home runs, with his 36 bombs in 1989 leading the league and serving as the focal point of the card above. i was definitely a fan, and was shocked when he was traded to the padres prior to the 1990 season.

i still followed mcgriff as a national leaguer, but certainly wasn't rooting for his teams to win. i got to see him play in person finally during the 1991 season on april 12 (dodgers' home opener) and august 19. mcgriff had hits in each of those games - 3 in the latter - but the most memorable thing to me from those games was tommy lasorda coming out of the dugout and instigating the home crowd toward the end of the august 19 game. the crowd responded and the dodgers rallied thanks to mitch webster of all people and won the game in extra innings.

i saw mcgriff play in person a couple more times during his tenure with the braves, and then a couple of times during his first stint as a devil ray. he didn't do anything memorable in those games, unfortunately. the lone dodger game i attended in 2003, his only season with the club, came late in the season after he had played his final game that year.

when mcgriff joined the dodgers, i was excited because i thought for sure he would hit his 500th career home run wearing dodger blue as he was only 22 shy of the milestone, and he had hit 30 in 2002. i remember telling a friend of mine at the time that i figured mcgriff would play a couple of seasons in la and hopefully hand the reins over to james loney when he left. as it turned out, mcgriff only hit 13 with the dodgers and they did not re-sign him following the season, instead moving shawn green to first base. mcgriff closed out his career with a partial season in tampa bay, 7 homers shy of 500.

i have to believe had mcgriff reached 500 home runs, the writers would have voted him in to the hall early on in his candidacy, but who the heck knows. i am glad he is finally getting his due while he is still around to enjoy the accolades.

you can see all of the players and their cards that comprise my hall of famer collection here. i am looking forward to the announcement on tuesday - maybe there will be another player for me to add to the collection - stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

frankly i wasn't sure this was going to happen

even though it's not perfect, i am a big fan of the 2004 upper deck legends timeless teams release. heck, i even dedicated a blog to it - my only set blog (so far). i completed the base set and a separate dodger team set long ago, and i have no real inclination to complete any of the parallel sets. however, i keep picking at them when the opportunity arises.

i am hoping to complete the dodger autograph team set someday - i am currently needing these five:

#97 ron cey (print run of 25)
#98 steve garvey 
(print run of 25)
#99 tommy john
#143 steve garvey 
(print run of 35)
#183 steve garvey (print run of 50)

the first three are all from the dodgers' 1974 subset, and the last two are from 1977 and 1980, respectively. of course, i need two of that #98 garvey as his is the only pc of mine that gets fed before the team collection. i already have one each of #143 and #183 in the garvey collection, but those don't count towards the team collection. more on the dodger needs in a bit.

even though i don't plan on pursuing a full autographed set, i did set a goal of having at least one autograph from each year/team subset, and for a long time, i was missing only the 1966 orioles. there are only four subjects included in that subset - boog powell, brooks robinson, frank robinson, and jim palmer. of those four, only frank robinson and jim palmer are short prints (print runs of 35 and 50, respectively) but i did not see any of them offered for sale on ebay, beckett marketplace, or sportlots over the course of the last few years that i have been actively looking. i have autographs from other subsets from brooks and boog, and i had the gold version of palmer's 1966 auto already, but none of the 1966 base. i set up a number of ebay alerts and waited, as i said, for years. finally, someone listed one of frank robinson's cards for sale
at first, i thought that this was likely a card signed after market because of the psa/dna certification. there's been a version of boog powell's card on ebay for awhile that tricked me for a minute before i realized it was signed at a show. however, i diligently investigated and found that the frank was, in fact, pack pulled.

here's the back:
now, it is one of life's great mysteries as to why someone would send this in to psa for autograph certification when it is already certified on the back. especially since they didn't ask for the card itself to be graded. the mind boggles.  

i couldn't get the card out of the slab quick enough. it looks great in its natural state, i think
so, with this card in hand, i crossed off the goal of having representation in my collection from every year and team subset. this includes complete team sets of the 1972 tigers (al kaline, bill freehan, dick mcauliffe, jim northrup, john hiller, mickey lolich, mickey stanley, and willie horton), 1979 pirates (bert blyleven, bill madlock, dave parker, and phil garner) and the 1986 angels (bob boone, bobby grich, brian downing, don sutton, terry forster, rick burleson, and wally joyner). i also have complete dodger sets in my dodger collection of the 1981 and 1988 dodgers, and my 1977 and 1980 dodger team sets are technically complete although the garveys from those two are housed in the pc.

anyway, you would think that would be enough and i would stop with the autograph pursuit, right? well, accomplishing that goal did get me to delete a few saved searches, but i kept the more generic ones. and i am glad that i did because i have added some nice cards to the collection since picking up the frank robinson auto.

exhibit a:
my second al kaline auto in the set which means i have both of his solo autos from the set. awesome!

exhibit b:
this hall of famer autograph was way cheaper than it should have been. this is my second hard signed carlton fisk card and first (his only solo) card from this set.

i also added a card of fisk's red sox teammate cecil cooper
i first knew of cooper as a brewer thanks to his 1978 topps card. that card, incidentally, was the very first card i ever found out in the wild. it was water damaged and sitting by a chair near a motel pool that we went to that summer for swimming lessons. i wish i still had that thing. i don't still have it, unfortunately, but i did add another cooper auto from the set
featuring him as a brewer. he has another auto in the set as part of the 1981 brew crew, but that one is a short print.

the first post-frank robinson autograph that i purchased was this one
it is awesome to have a certified chet lemon autograph. i've since added his 1984 subset auto, too. now if only i had a larry herndon auto (unfortunately he was not included in this set).

i alluded to the fact that i have 3 of the 4 garvey autos from the set, and here is the most recent one i obtained:
lots of red, white, and dodger blue there. as there is on the back:
i am down to needing just one ron cey auto - he also has four in the set - as i picked up this card just before new year's
this one is limited to 50, but the seller didn't note it as a short print. i got it for a decent price as a result, or maybe nobody else is looking for the card. who knows.

i still need a non-sp tommy john auto, but snapped up one of his two yankee autos from the set
this one is a short print, limited to 50.

finally, the card that completed my 1988 dodgers team auto set was this one:
steve sax has two autographs in the set, neither of which is short printed. however, i saw one of these go for over $80 a year or two ago. i got this one as part of a lot which kept the cost way, way, way down. i love it when sellers hide the goods.

so that's it for autos. i currently have 143 of the 300 in the set, and that doesn't include the ones that are in my dodger collection. 143 means i need one more to get to 16 full sheets of autos in the set binder, so i will add at least one more for that reason alone. it might be nice to shoot for half of the set, though. we will see.

one decision i have made is to try to obtain at least one bronze parallel from each year and team subset. this dan ford card
fills the gap for the 1979 halos.

i have a long way to go with this endeavor, as i need representatives from the 1965 twins, 1967 red sox, 1968 cardinals, 1974 dodgers, 1975 a's, 1979 reds, 1980 phillies, 1981 brewers, 1981 yankees, 1983 orioles, 1987 twins, 1988 dodgers, and 1991 twins. some of those may be tough. i am one bronze card short of having 7 full pages of the parallels (outside of my dodger collection), so adding one more will be a start.

the other parallels are gold, and i added a couple of those lately, including the gold parallel of the frank robinson card that kicked off the post
these are numbered to 5, so i have no goals in mind when it comes to adding them. either the price or the subject (preferably both) have to be right for me to take a shot at them. that was the case with robinson and with this one
i will look past the fact that this is not kirk gibson's 1988 card and celebrate it anyway. i now have 9 of these parallels outside of my dodger collection and the full page looks nice.

lastly, i've added a gold parallel autograph in the last few weeks:
this had an insanely low buy it now price that i would suspect the seller had meant to have as the opening bid. they honored my purchase either way and i am very happy to have this card in the collection. i am probably happier to have this bill buckner gold auto parallel than i would be to have his 1974 subset dodger autograph gold parallel. that's how much i like this card.

i have 7 gold autographs outside of my dodger collection and would love to complete a sheet, so i will be keeping my eye out. after that, there are probably more milestones i will aim for even though they will likely never be reached.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

more of my favorite stadium on stadium club

a week ago i showed vladimir guerrero's 2022 topps stadium club card and wrote about the photo used being from a game at dodger stadium. it wasn't the only card in this year's stadium club release to catch my eye for that reason, however.

i touted this andruw jones card
as a possibility for my favorite card of 2022 (it wasn't, but it was close). i am always pumped to see the old dodger murals show up on cards (this is the second 2022 card i am aware of to feature these turn of the century murals) and even though eric gagne has been getting a bit of attention from topps in recent years, it's nice to see his oversized image on a card. 

the image used comes from the 2004 season, which is when the mural on the outfield wall showcased dodger cy young award winners. gagne was the newest dodger in the club, having won the award in 2003. thanks to topps' relationship with getty images, the photo was easy to find. cropped out of the image on the card is jones' teammate (and fellow future dodger) j.d. drew, 
along with gagne's portrait.
jones held on to the ball, by the way, which was hit by jayson werth - one of jim tracy's collection of ja(y)sons back then.

another dodger stadium background is provided on darryl strawberry's card
another future dodger. and, we get one more thanks to will clark's card
thankfully, clark did not go on to join the dodgers, although another giant clark (jack) somehow became their hitting coach at one point.

another giant card i picked up for a mini-collection is brandon crawford's
thanks to the double play turn.

stadium club is usually good for some lurkers, and they didn't disappoint this year. willie mays gets an uncredited appearance on hank aaron's card
as does cal ripken jr on eddie murray's
along with rod carew on jose berrios' card
there's a johan santana sighting there, too, if you are interested.

the first cards i targeted were, of course, the steve garvey autographs. this is the second year in a row topps has included the garv on the autograph checklist, but it is going to be very tough for him to ever crack the base checklist as we will see in a moment. anyway, here's the base auto:
the black foil parallel auto
and the red foil parallel auto
the red on the dodger logo didn't scan as well as the other red foil parallel i picked up
but that's ok. i do appreciate the additional design elements that the foil is applied to. it makes these parallels look a little better in my opinion.

on to the base dodgers!

freddie freeman:
pensive at the bat rack.

trea turner
i wonder who the next dodger to wear number 6 will be?

julio urias and cody bellinger
looks like brusdar wants to kick the old soccer ball around. and, this may be the last cody bellinger dodger card i pick up. he signed with the cubs early enough for all the photoshopping to occur before the 2023 stuff comes out, although i guess there are still a few remaining 2022 releases scheduled.

jackie robinson, chris taylor, will smith, and justin turner
robinson is the lone retired dodger in the set, which means topps cut sandy koufax and roy campanella in favor of others, like chris taylor who got left out of flagship (aside from a combo type card). garvey is never getting in if it means having to leapfrog over dodger hall of famers and higher profile players like mike piazza.

craig kimbrel and max muncy
here's hoping there are no more kimbrel dodger cards.

mookie betts, clayton kershaw, andre jackson, and walker buehler
when i first saw the mookie betts card on the sell sheet, i thought it was maury wills. a closer look, of course, revealed that it was not. however, it is very similar to the photo of wills that was used on his 1999 fleer sports illustrated card. i feel like i have seen a wider cropped version of that image, but i can't find it now. maybe someday topps will give us a stadium club card of wills playing the banjo next to milton berle. that's the beauty of stadium club - there are always photos that stand out, like andruw jones jumping in to eric gagne.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

this collector is on sapphire!

i suppose it will be a pack of 2023 topps that i will purchase at some point later this year that will make things official, but with the calendar turning i can say that 2023 marks the 45th anniversary of my first card pack purchase, and is therefore my 46th year as a baseball card collector. you could even say 47th year as i was given a pack of 1977 topps cards back in the summer of sam and star wars.

of course, the first packs that i bought with my allowance were from the 1978 topps set, and i have held that set near and dear to my heart ever since. i am always on the lookout for cards featuring the design as i try to assemble some sort of "master set". one of the first custom card efforts i undertook after purchasing photoshop was to complete my 1978 topps dodger set with cards that i thought were missing from the actual set, along with a couple other cards that would never have been but i appreciated seeing.

although topps seemed to ignore the 1978 set for a long time, they couldn't hide from it in 2011 when they celebrated 60 years of topps.  here's what they had to say about the set then:
i don't know if it is truly one of the "most adored issues of the '70s" for a lot of collectors, but it certainly is for me.

the front of that card is a reprint of gary carter's card from the 1978 set
which features a candid - not posed - photo of the kid. there are quite a few of each type of photo in the set, and i hope in 2027 that heritage gets it right.

as for that "master set" i mentioned up top, i figured i would go through the checklist of cards that i have compiled and completed. the checklist itself is not complete in terms of all non-1978 topps cards that feature the 1978 design, and it only focuses on cards that are different from the actual 1978 set - different teams or photos. so, for instance, there are only a few cards from the 1978 topps burger king sets represented, and i do not include any direct reprints (other than the carter card above which i include more as a header). so, here is what i have in my "master" 1978 topps set:

1978 topps zest #5 willie montanez
1978 topps burger king astros # dave bergman
1978 topps burger king astros # jesus alou
1978 topps burger king rangers #5 jon matlack
1978 topps burger king rangers #8 fergie jenkins
1978 topps burger king rangers #10 reggie cleveland
1978 topps burger king rangers #17 al oliver
1978 topps burger king rangers #21 john lowenstein
1978 topps burger king rangers #22 bobby thompson
1978 topps burger king tigers #7 jim slaton
1978 topps burger king tigers #13 lou whitaker
1978 topps burger king tigers #15 alan trammell
1978 topps burger king tigers #16 steve dillard
1978 topps burger king tigers #6 jack billingham
1978 topps burger king tigers #8 jack morris
1978 topps burger king yankees #10 rich gossage
1978 topps burger king yankees #11 rawly eastwick
1978 topps burger king yankees #16 jim spencer
2001 topps archives #305 lou whitaker
2001 topps archives #80 jack morris
2003 topps all-time fan favorites #78 jim rice
2003 topps all-time fan favorites #99 jack clark
2003 topps all-time fan favorites #118 ron guidry
2003 topps all-time fan favorites #123 mark fidrych
2003 topps all-time fan favorites #ffa-dde doug decinces autograph (no base card)
2004 topps all-time fan favorites #33 keith hernandez
2004 topps all-time fan favorites #97 eric gregg
2005 topps all-time fan favorites #44 dusty baker
2005 topps all-time fan favorites #110 rick monday
2005 topps all-time fan favorites #132 bob boone
2006 topps walmart blaster insert #wm47 carlos delgado
2012 topps archives fan favorites autograph #ffa-gf george foster
2012 topps archives fan favorites autograph #ffa-gl greg luzinski
2013 topps archives #226 larry bowa
2013 topps archives #239 dave parker
2014 topps future stars that never were #fs-3 eddie murray
2017 topps throwback thursday 1978 topps record breaker design #122 cody bellinger
2017 topps throwback thursday 1978 topps record breaker design #123 giancarlo stanton
2017 topps throwback thursday 1978 topps record breaker design #124 aaron judge
2017 topps throwback thursday 1978 topps record breaker design #125 edwin encarnacion
2017 topps throwback thursday 1978 topps record breaker design #126 j.d. martinez
2017 topps throwback thursday 1978 topps record breaker design #127 joey gallo
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #1 mike trout
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #2 bryce harper
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #3 mookie betts
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #4 kris bryant
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #5 francisco lindor
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #6 aaron judge
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #7 jose altuve
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #8 clayton kershaw
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #9 carlos correa
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #10 manny machado
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #11 buster posey
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #12 chris sale
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #13 adrian beltre
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #14 gary sanchez
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #15 charlie blackmon
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #16 jacob degrom
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #17 corey kluber
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #18 george springer
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #19 luis severino
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #20 noah syndergaard
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #21 andrew mccutchen
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #22 paul goldschmidt
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #23 shohei ohtani 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #24 rhys hoskins 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #25 christian villanueva 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #26 walker buehler 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #27 ronald acuna 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #28 gleyber torres 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #29 ozzie albies 
2018 topps on demand inspired by 1978 #30 juan soto 
2021 topps 70 years of topps #70yt-28 shohei ohtani
2021 topps 70 years of topps #70yt-28 cal ripken jr
2021 topps update 70 years of topps #70yt-28 carlos correa
2022 topps archives #101-200
that last group is card number 200 (vladimir guerrero) along with the design variation card of spencer torkelson and a numbered parallel of trevor rogers.

a couple of notes on the 2006 delgado above. as far as i am aware, that is the first card to be issued after 1978 using the design that didn't fall under the archives/fan favorites umbrella as well as the first card using the design to feature a player who was not active in 1978. heck, even eric gregg was umping back then. with all of that, the first thought i had back when i first obtained the card was that the topps logo certainly seems out of place! 

i know that topps used elements of the 1978 design on the backs of the super home team release in 1981 as well as the squirt cards from 1981 and the cracker jack cards in 1982. i have the dodgers from those sets, but don't count them as part of this "master" set endeavor. the 2018 online set is pretty much where i draw the line.

to be clear, the cards listed and shown above are the cards that i currently have in this "master" collection, in addition to the complete 1978 topps and o-pee-chee sets themselves.  i am ignoring the 1978 burger king cards that were identical to the flagship topps versions and the 4-in-1 rookie cards that were short printed as part of the 2018 on demand set along with the parallels and inserts from that set. same goes for the refractor inserts and autograph parallels from fan favorites (aside from a couple of dodgers and a mark fidrych auto that i pulled from a pack) and all the parallels and variations from 2022 archives (other than the two shown). just too much to try to track down. i also don't include my 1978 topps burger king dodgers that should have been custom cards (or those of others) in the "master" set - just official topps releases - although thanks to gavin and gio i have many 1978 customs printed and in sheets as well.

i know that other more recent uses of the design exist - in 2019 topps issued some autographed cards featuring the 1978 record breaker design as an insert to their archives release, but i don't think i will ever land any of those - the subjects included the likes of juan soto, ohtani, mike trout, and sandy koufax. there was also a 2016 throwback thursday set that featured the managerial design from 1978 in a "then and now" theme, and in 2019 topps again produced a throwback thursday set using the 4-in-1 rookie design. i don't have any of those cards, either.

i am fully aware that my tenure in the hobby is not as long or as fervent as others and i am not trying to make it seem as though i am in any way special or unique as a collector. this has truly been as close to a lifelong hobby as i will have, and i am glad that i stuck with it when others typically abandoned it. i do plan to scale back in 2023, although i have had those thoughts before. i anticipate good things from 2023 topps heritage and i will, as always, be on the lookout for new steve garvey cards, along with dodgers - primarily clayton kershaw - and cards that fit in to my mini-collections.

best of luck to all with your collections in 2023!