Tuesday, June 18, 2019

so now i have officially begun to formalize my hall of fame collection

when i was a kid, i could not get enough baseball. i played baseball. i collected baseball cards. i pored over baseball box scores. i watched baseball. i listened to baseball. i talked about baseball. and, i read about baseball.  a lot.

i read a lot of books about players (my fifth grade classroom had quite a few) and the history of the game. it wasn't just dodgers that piqued my interest - i wrote a report about roberto clemente in elementary school - and it wasn't just about current or recent players. steve garvey's consecutive game streak had me learning about lou gehrig, and as older cards somehow entered my collection, i began to learn about players like tris speaker. when 1979 topps cards were released, i was amazed that i owned a card featuring hank aaron and another with ty cobb.  pete rose's record breaker card from that set had me asking my dad about who stan musial was. he wound up giving me lawrence ritter and donald honig's "the image of their greatness", and i spent hours reading it and studying the pictures.  there was always more to learn about the history of the game and the players who played it.

as a young collector, i quickly moved from set collector to team collector and then added player collections as well. i chose to collect my favorite players of the day (including dodger killer reggie jackson), as well as cards of some retired stars and hall of famers. one of the events i looked forward to each year was the announcement of hall of fame inductees. duke snider's induction in 1980 is the first one i recall, probably because i was absorbing all things dodgers at the time. ultimately, i had way too many pc's going for it to be sustainable, and eventually i returned to my focus on sets and dodgers, with just a handful of player collections remaining.  however, my appreciation for those other players didn't disappear.

last year when zippy zappy challenged us to post our all-autograph lineup, i was able to dig through some of the autographed cards of players that i used to collect or that i had kept in my collection even though they weren't dodgers.  then i started to pay closer attention to fuji's autograph collection. and then p-town tom started posting about his hall of famer card collection. i decided to formalize and refine my collection of these players that i enjoyed learning about and following and collecting.  and so here we are.

tl;dr i am a fan of baseball and i have begun a formal hall of famer collection.

this collection consists of certified, on-card autographs and relics of certain hall of famers that i have a connection to through my formative fandom years, or whose careers i enjoyed following.  i really wanted it to include the first class of hall of famers, however, there just don't seem to be any options for walter johnson.  so, my collection will settle for four of the first class:

ty cobb
christy mathewson
babe ruth
honus wagner

it will also include four of the other seven hall of famers who were present at the first hall of fame induction ceremony in 1939:

nap lajoie
tris speaker
eddie collins
george sisler

connie mack, cy young, and grover cleveland alexander were also in attendance that day, but like the big train, they don't have any cards that fit my criteria to chase.  i have a copy of the 1939 photo of the ten of the eleven living hall of famers (christy mathewson had passed and for whatever reason, ty cobb wasn't in the photo) on a shelf in my office. i like to think it inspires me to greatness, but mostly it reminds me to not wear droopy socks like babe ruth did.

the collection also includes some players whose careers ended before i was born, but that i enjoyed learning about as a young fan:

lou gehrig
rogers hornsby
jimmie foxx
mel ott
dizzy dean
joe dimaggio
hank greenberg
bob feller
jackie robinson
ted williams
roy campanella
stan musial
yogi berra
sandy koufax
roberto clemente
warren spahn
mickey mantle

the rest of the players in the collection includes a mix of players that i learned about from either my card collecting or my avid fandom.  this list includes 36 of the 44 hall of famers included in the 1978 topps set (thanks to night owl for counting them for me). the eight i've decided to omit are the managers, including tommy lasorda. players only on this list!  anyway, here's the list of that group of hall of famers:

ernie banks
willie mays
al kaline
duke snider
bob gibson
hank aaron
frank robinson
brooks robinson
don drysdale
harmon killebrew
pee wee reese
lou brock
willie mccovey
catfish hunter
willie stargell
johnny bench
carl yastrzemski
joe morgan
jim palmer
rod carew
ferguson jenkins
gaylord perry
rollie fingers
tom seaver
reggie jackson
steve carlton
mike schmidt
phil niekro
don sutton
george brett
nolan ryan
robin yount
carlton fisk
tony pérez
kirby puckett
dave winfield
ozzie smith
gary carter
eddie murray
dennis eckersley
paul molitor
wade boggs
ryne sandberg
bruce sutter
tony gwynn
cal ripken jr.
rich gossage
rickey henderson
jim rice
andre dawson
roberto alomar
bert blyleven
greg maddux
pedro martinez
ken griffey jr.
mike piazza
tim raines
vladimir guerrero
jim thome
jack morris
alan trammell
roy halladay

the collection also includes some that are banned or otherwise assumedly ostracized from the hall of fame but that i appreciate nonetheless:

pete rose
barry bonds
joe jackson
roger clemens
alex rodriguez

also included are five sure-fire hall of famers that i enjoyed/enjoy following:

adrian beltre
albert pujols
clayton kershaw
mike trout

and it features a player that i considered one of my favorites to watch that i hope will make it to cooperstown one day:

joe mauer

that gets the collection to 98 hall of famers, but i reserve the right to add folks as time goes on.  furthermore, this collection gets tricky with the dodgers (and vladimir guerrero), as i am the type of collector that needs doubles to count cards in more than one collection. oh well, it's my collection and i make the rules.  i won't be able to avoid non-licensed cards, but i will try to keep that to a minimum.

my plan is to have this post build on itself, so that ultimately my entire collection will be shown in one post.  for now, i want to start things off with a positive jam, so here's my 2004 topps originals 1979 topps hank aaron autographed card:
as i mentioned up above, i was thrilled to find this card (and cards like it) in packs of 1979 topps cards. i knew about hank aaron, but not much about hack wilson.  and then there were the names on the back:
i will admit that i have forgotten anything that i learned about hal trosky.

the first baseball game i attended was a dodgers/braves game in 1974 at dodger stadium. i was three, so i don't remember seeing aaron play or really anything about it. however, i do remember seeing aaron play in an old-timer's game at dodger stadium in 1980 or so. we were sitting in the field level seats down the right field line, so i had a good view of him when he was in the field. i was starstruck. i have a photo i took of him that day somewhere. if i find it, i'll add it to this post.

this collection will be a long time in the making, although i do have quite a few cards already. i have felt my collecting focus start to shift away from being a team collector over the past couple of years, so this makes sense to me. wish me luck!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

2019 topps series 2 obligatory post

i picked up some series 2 this weekend. i bought a blaster and one of those other hanger boxes. 166 cards in all, i believe.  3 of those cards were dodgers, which continues the lack of pack success i have had this year as far as the boys in blue are concerned.  i did find a different boy in blue in the last pack of my blaster though:
that's the no-number vladimir guerrero jr rookie card. cardboard connection notes that it is a short print, but not by much.  i was happy to find it, but it wasn't a card i was necessarily hoping for.

here are two of the dodgers i found - walker buehler and hyun-jin ryu
who form a sort of pitching bookend with their cards.  of course, both have photo variations in series 2.  i didn't stumble upon any of the variation short prints, but i did get a dodger insert - cody bellinger's home run challenge card:
i am a bit tempted to enter this contest since the prize is a trip to the 2020 all-star game, or at least the home-run derby. i missed out the last time the dodgers hosted the midsummer classic, although we did have some family friends who went and regaled me later with their tales of ken griffey vs. tommy john.  i didn't notice any cards from other teams with dodger stadium in the background, although there is an insert card that has, of all places, the los angeles coliseum where the dodgers played immediately following their move to southern california.  i'll be chasing that card down, for sure.

there are a few other cards i've seen that will fit in to my mini-collections, and i was fortunate enough to pull a couple of them.  first, this chance sisco tatooine card
jake cave is out, i believe.

next there is this kolten wong card
i toyed with the idea of creating a mini-collection of cards that show retired numbers in the background, but figured that the collection would mostly feature st. louis cardinal cards as they have admirably left the retired number murals on their left field wall.  instead, i focused on cards that show the retired number 42 and as a result, there are only three cards in that collection, including this one.  of course, in st. louis, that number is retired not just for jackie robinson, but for bruce sutter as well.

i had good fortune with my blaster-guaranteed commemorative patch card:
big daddy vladdy is one of the few player collections i have going.  he's also wearing the nick adenhart memorial patch in the photo used, but i have that covered in the mini-collection already.

series 2 is just what it is expected to be, so there's no room for disappointment or real excitement, either.  although, it is pretty exciting for me to know that there are some new, licensed gil hodges cards to chase.  i'll be tracking down those and some of the other inserts and singles that i want and will otherwise be waiting for update.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

collecting k's

i don't usually write about this stuff, but work has been really great the last couple of years, and i decided to direct some of my rewards towards expanding my collection in a very specific way.

i started following searches for sandy koufax autographs.

since he rejoined the hobby in 2000, there have been a significant number of releases that have featured koufax in the checklist.  however, the only koufax signed card i owned before this year was his 1998 donruss signature series card.

i waited and watched for a while to get a sense as to what koufax autos were selling for, and then made a move on a couple of cards.  first, a 2002 upper deck sweet spot legendary signatures card

and then a 2001 upper deck ultimate collection ultimate signatures card

people seem to avoid graded cards sometimes, which means they sell for less than they should. i don't mind, as i can either free the card or keep it slabbed (which is how this card remains).  i will say i passed over some slightly cheaper koufax autographed cards due to either a poor design (in my opinion) or a shaky/smudged autograph.  these two cards are pretty good in that regard.  i think i did well, and i will likely try to pick up at least one more card signed by the left hand of god.

while i was at it, i decided to do the same for another dodger lefty, clayton kershaw.

over the past few months, i've picked up a few different on-card autos of the future hall of famer, but i'll only show two of those cards here.  first up is a 2015 topps museum collection archival autograph card
not sure if it's a blue parallel or if that is the base design, but it looks good.

i wasn't quite sure about the next one as it looked a little gaudy at first, but i did wind up buying this 2017 topps five star card
in the hopes that it looked better in person.  it did.

this foray into specifically targeting these sorts of cards is not necessarily new to me, but it has led to a more widely scoped angle to my collection. i'll get in to that in my next post.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

that there's a big league stadium

there's nothing quite like an october sunset at dodger stadium on a baseball card.
usually when a new release is issued, i'll do searches on ebay for certain team sets in order to see the card images. that way, i can target cards for my various mini-collections.  i always search for the dodgers, but also for teams that wore memorial patches the previous season and for teams that played meaningful games at dodger stadium.  when 2019 topps big league was released, i ran those searches and saw max muncy's card right away. it is similar to the topps stadium club yasiel puig card from 2015, and it is fantastic.  however, there were a couple of other cards that caught my eye during these team set searches.

both the red sox and brewers played meaningful games at dodger stadium in 2018, and a search of their cards from this year's big league release netted these two award winner cards of jd martinez

and christian yelich

both cards, of course, also feature hank aaron at home plate in dodger stadium prior to a world series game.  you can also see yelich up on the right field scoreboard on martinez's card.  i am very thankful to topps for the landscape orientation on yelich's card. it's great to see both pavilions on a card!

i found a couple of other mini-collection cards through my searching, such as this chris taylor "tatooine" card
and this jorge polanco double play card
i've also updated my 2018 memorials post with yadier molina's card from this year's big league set.

i still bought a couple of blasters, and was pleased to find a few more cards with dodger stadium in the background.

here's mike trout:

and jack flaherty:

and sean newcomb:

i am looking forward to stadium club's release so i can search for more dodger stadium (and other mini-collection) cards!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

a five barrel salute to my steve garvey collection

steve garvey is officially being inducted in to the 'legends of dodger baseball' club tonight at dodger stadium. this is a way for the dodger organization to recognize 'hall of very good' players, as their uniform number retirement criteria has long required hall of fame induction (except for lifelong dodger jim gilliam). it's not perfect, but i know that the twins do a similar thing - they have a 'twins hall of fame' which includes the likes of joe nathan, jim perry, frank viola, etc, while they have a different criteria for retired numbers.  alas, i'm unable to attend the game, but it seems like a good reason to show off some big garvey additions to my collection.

just over a year ago, i added a 2017 topps museum collection steve garvey bat barrel 1/1 card to my collection.
this is the second bat barrel card of the garv in my collection, although it is the lone solo barrel card.

the other one, also a 1/1, is from 2006 upper deck epic and features not just garvey, but manny mota
and a couple of other steves - sax and yeager.
pedro guerrero's left arm makes an appearance around yeager's neck for good measure.

this is the good stuff.

Monday, May 20, 2019

lurking historically

i am sure that it is not fun in the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, i think giving up a historic hit wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. for al downing, it means that you get to show up on new baseball cards from time to time.  case in point, this 2019 topps online 150 years of baseball card commemorating hank aaron's record breaking 715th career home run.

there's downing on the mound, with joe ferguson behind the plate. bill russell and davey lopes are there in the background, too, but steve garvey and ron cey are just outside of the image, unfortunately.  the dodgers also happen to be wearing black armbands in honor of ken mcmullen's wife who had recently passed away, but this card goes in my lurker collection as there is a different version of this card in the memorials collection.

i met downing once when i was a kid. it was at a benefit thing, and he was really nice to me. i knew that he had served up this historic home run, but i was more impressed that he had worn the dodger uniform. i didn't ask him about how he feels about being remembered primarily for allowing a historic home run, so i don't really know if it bothers him or not.

i am guessing that pete rose won't be part of this set, so there is little chance of a card with eric show sitting on the mound after surrendering hit number 4192, or, for that matter, of pete and steve garvey at first base in the aftermath.  speaking of which, it's pretty cool that the garv was on the field for 715 and 4192, as well as nolan ryan's record breaking 5th career no-hitter.  and, since he wasn't the pitcher, maybe the memories aren't quite as bittersweet.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

topps now done correctly

i settled in to watch the dodgers take on the reds on april 15, 2019 which was jackie robinson day. i knew that there would likely be a generic "players wear 42" card issued by topps the following day, and i knew that i would likely ignore that card as i had done the past couple of years.  not too far in to the game, i knew that there would be another topps now card offered on april 16th as yasiel puig took clayton kershaw deep in the top of the 1st inning in his first at bat at dodger stadium as a visiting player.  it's just the type of backstoried event that fuels a large part of the topps now engine.

sure enough, topps posted the following image on their website the next day.
except they referred to dodger stadium as "dodgers stadium".  that's poor copy.  still, the puig fit in to my '42' collection, as well as my dodger (not dodgers) stadium collection, so i bought 2 of the card from a secondary seller.

you may recall that the very first year topps now was issued, there was a lawsuit filed by a guy who had bought a card because the prototype version on the website showed an error of some sort, but the card he received did not, as the error was corrected prior to printing. in this case, i was very pleased to see that the text had been corrected on the printed version of the card:
so, one card for my dodger stadium collection, and one card for my 42 collection. i will admit that i considered at one point a few years ago of starting a 'bat flip' collection (i wound up not going that route), and this card would have fit nicely into that one as well.

there was another moment from that game worthy of a topps now card thanks to joc pederson's heroics in the bottom of the 9th:
i purchased two copies of this card as well, although it would fit in four of my collections.  the first copy goes to my dodger collection, and the second could go in my dodger stadium collection, my 42 collection, or my memorial patch collection.  heck, the card could even go in the lurker collection as tommy lasorda is sitting there in the background.  anyway, since the photo shows the don newcombe memorial patch on joc's left sleeve instead of the right sleeve where it normally is displayed (it was displaced for this game by the jackie robinson patch on the right sleeve), i'll probably put the second copy in my memorial patch binder.

i did find a duplicate of a different card of joc to put in the dodger stadium binder from a pack of 2019 topps big league
i mentioned in my last post that there are a few really nice cards that feature dodger stadium in this release, but this is not one of them.  still, in to the collection it goes.  i also found a card for my double play collection in one of the packs i opened
too bad it's a shot taken in miller park.