Saturday, January 30, 2021

1970's represent!

sometime around the year 2000, i began putting together "sampler" sets of topps sets from 1952 through 1969. i had no intention of ever completing any of those sets, and i figured it would be a fun idea to pick up a card from each team and each subset for those older sets.

i finished the task in a few years (it was a low priority), but then decided to scrap the collection as i began putting together the 1965 and 1957 sets.  now, i've decided to put together a "representative card" mini collection that will make it easier for me to see a great card from each topps flagship set from 1952 on.

i'll show off the cards occasionally, along with a reason for choosing that particular card. i won't use a card that is in my dodger collection, or any other collection for that matter, so i should wind up with a good variety.

i was alive when all of these cards were considered current year releases, although i was born after the 1970 world series. i have completed all of these sets, but am happy to have extras of a few favorites that i can put in to this collection. bring on the 70's!

1970 - bob locker
the 1970 topps set was the first set that i completed that dated back to before i began collecting. i enjoyed finding cards of players sporting the one-and-done pilots uniforms like locker above. locker's 1971 topps card was one of the first of those i obtained as a young collector, and it is the image that comes to mind when i hear his name, but his 1970 card with the pilot uniform, green team text, and yankee stadium facade makes for a great card to represent this set.

1971 - ken mcmullen
so many great cards in the 1971 topps set, but the mcmullen card might be the most interesting. the photo, of course, comes from a game played in old yankee stadium, with some of the monuments and plaques erected to former yankees in the background and in the field of play! i just recently realized that the pole to mcmullen's left is not the flagpole, but rather a speaker pole.  the flagpole is actually just cut off from the left border of the photo. the partial monument along that border belongs to former manager miller huggins, and it was the first monument to be placed with it being installed right in front of the flagpole. the other monument that is visible is babe ruth's, and the plaque on the wall is that of former owner jacob ruppert.  there is another monument on the other side of huggins' that belongs to lou gehrig, and at the time of this photo there would have been three more plaques - one for general manager ed barrow, one for joe dimaggio and the other for mickey mantle.

i got a kick out of billy crystal's interview in ken burns' "baseball" when he said that he thought huggins, ruth, and gehrig were buried out there - the monuments do look like headstones. i've never made it to a yankee home game, but when i do, i will spend some time in monument park.

1972 - jim hunter
other than dodger cards, a's cards were the first ones i went searching for from seasons prior to the start of my collecting days in 1978. the interest in those cards were spurred on by billyball, rickey henderson, and hunter, who had just retired after some successful seasons with the yankees. 1972 marked the start of the a's world series winning streak (although it was the second season in their run of five straight al west titles), so i figured it was a good card to use in this collection. it's also the last of hunter's cards to show him without a mustache.

1973 - willie mays
say hey! unfortunately, the 1973 topps set included this, the final regular card of mays. i'm still waiting on a 1974 design card of his that i can put in my final tribute collection - the 1974 topps world series card is not the same thing. i first obtained the all-time home run leaders card featuring mays, hank aaron, and babe ruth from the 1973 set sometime back in the 1980s, but i didn't own this card until the mid-2000s - maybe even later than that. i thought about putting it in my memorials collection due to the black armband that is on display honoring the late gil hodges, but opted for ken boswell instead. so, this willie gets to represent the 1973 set in this collection, even though it lacks the general weirdness of the set.

1974 - juan marichal
the first 1974 topps card i owned was either marichal's, harmon killebrew's, or steve braun's. i considered killebrew for this spot, but decided on marichal since his card is a bit more dynamic than killebrew's. in fact, i was amazed by marichal's leg kick! i soured on marichal once i found out about his brawl with john roseboro, but i do consider the lack of a 1976 topps card for him to be a terrible if understandable miss. i considered adding marichal to my hall of famer collection, but i think i would only do so if a signed buyback version of this card were available.

1975 - hank aaron
the hank aaron card to have in our neighborhood in the late 1970s was his 1974 topps card #1. this one seemed generic to me, but it was still hank aaron! aaron was on card #1 in the 1975 set, too, and so he bookended the set as this is card #660. anyway, seeing aaron as a brewer is strange to me, but it happened. i think the runnerup to this card for this collection was the herb washington card, but aaron wins out.

1976 - lou brock
brock was a big deal to me because he was featured on card #1 of the 1978 topps set for setting the all-time stolen base record. as a fan of davey lopes, i appreciated the stolen base, and so i appreciated brock. while his 1976 card was not the first to enter my collection - that would be jerry reuss' card that a kid from one street over had and traded to me - i did acquire it fairly early on. it's strange, but i always assumed brock was leading off of first, but was confused by the player behind brock as the uniform number didn't match up to the pirates' roster as i knew it from the back of their team cards. then at some point i realized he was probably leading off of second base, but the uniform number still confused me.  once i learned about baseball reference in 2000 or 2001, i looked more closely and realized that the player behind him was jackie hernandez, who had most recently played shortstop for the pirates in 1973 while wearing number 2. by then, i recognized that the photo was from 1973 because of the roberto clemente patch on hernandez' left sleeve. that would make the outfielder either gene clines or dave parker. can't tell which, but clines if it's the left fielder as it likely is.

you can tell that this brock card was a card that i looked at often, right?

1977 - reggie jackson
this card is well-loved and well traveled. i've owned it for as long as i can remember, although it was not one of the cards in the first pack of cards i ever opened, which was a pack of 1977 topps given to me by my uncle. actually, the only two cards i really remember from that pack were mike schmidt and bill travers. the travers card is in similar shape to reggie here, and is in my 'meaningful and just because' mini collection. i took better care of the schmidt card, and may actually have given it to my dad when he established a player collection of schmidt in 1980. anyway, my dad did not collect cards of reggie, but there were a couple of yankee fans in the neighborhood who did. i am pretty sure that this card came from the kid across the street in a trade.  reggie was a big deal to me even though he helped the yankees beat the dodgers in 1977 and 1978 because he performed at such a high level at the plate - at least in the eyes of a burgeoning fan. there was no denying that he thrived in the spotlight, and the majority of times i saw him on tv were in the playoffs.  speaking of which, i do recall trading with the kid across the street in 1981 just as the collecting season began. he had a bob welch fleer card that i wanted, and i was able to get it from him for free just by reminding him of reggie's strikeout in the 1978 fall classic at the hand of welch.

1978 - pete rose
now we are in to cards that were obtained during my real-time collecting days. don baylor was my first favorite non-dodger, but i also liked pete rose. i heard about rose a lot thanks to dodger tv and radio broadcasts, as well as magazines, books, and cards. i liked watching him play, and saw him in person a few times at an annual hot stove dinner held in my hometown. one year, i followed him in to the bar area of the elks lodge that hosted the event, and he wasn't too happy about it. i am sure he needed a break from the crowd, but i was a kid and just wanted his autograph. he did sign for me, and i still have that autograph, along with another one from a different year's dinner. i also traded an autograph i got from him at yet another of those dinners for some cards - i remember my dad thinking i got a bad deal. to me, i just figured i would see pete again next year and get another autograph.

1979 - willie stargell
pops had a big year in 1979. he led the pirates to a world series championship, and shared the national league mvp with keith hernandez. at the time, i thought stargell should have won it outright, as i subscribed (and still do) to the idea that the mvp is not necessarily the player with the best stats, but could be the one who makes the greatest impact. even so, i didn't see an issue with andre dawson winning in 1987 while playing for a last place club, and i do think kirk gibson deserved the award in 1988. looking back on it now, i think maybe dave winfield (who received as many first place votes as hernandez that year) should have won the 1979 award. still, stargell gets credit from me for bringing the world series trophy back to the national league, and for having an awesome batting stance routine that i enjoyed mimicking during wiffle ball games in the neighborhood.

up next, the 1980's represent! stay tuned...

Thursday, January 28, 2021

my favorite cards of the year - 2009 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. today it's 2009's turn...

favorite non-dodger card: upper deck o-pee-chee alex rodriguez
even though i was disappointed with this set from an o-pee-chee standpoint, it was a breath of fresh air from upper deck among the glossy issues of the late 2000s. there were no text or team variations (although i made one of my own), and they had to change the design to avoid legal consequences, but i still collected the set. it took me a while to complete it thanks to some short prints, but complete it i did.  of course, my set includes some black border parallels in place of regular base cards because i didn't care to chase more cards.

anyway, this alex rodriguez card was one of the first that caught my eye, as a-rod gets a hero shot as he warms up in angel stadium under a clear blue orange county sky. it's also the second 2009 o-pee-chee rodriguez card i have in a mini-collection, sort of. my memorials collection includes his "preview" card which also shows the black armband he is sporting for bobby murcer, albeit with a different photo. 

rodriguez and the yankees would go on to win the world series in 2009, and i was actually happy for a-rod - of course, some of that was because they beat the phillies who had dispatched the dodgers in the nlcs. as with pete rose, i make no apologies for rodriguez, but i really did enjoy watching him play, most of the time.

favorite dodger card: topps unique jim thome
the dodgers picked up thome from the white sox at the end of august, 2009. it was a weird acquisition as he was pretty adamant that his fielding days were behind him, and of course there was no designated hitter in the national league. i figured i wouldn't see a thome card until update (if then, due to the late season trade), but then i am joe collector announced that something called topps unique would be included in one of his group breaks. i bought in and was rewarded with a bunch of great looking cards from this one-off release, including this card of thome.

there was no thome card in the update set that year, although he did make it in to a couple other late-year sets (heritage high numbers and upper deck signature stars). while thome's tenure as a dodger was forgettable (4 for 17 as a pinch hitter with 3 rbi, plus a small number of at bats in the postseason), this card was an immediate favorite and remains such today.

both a-rod and thome will appear again in future editions of  'my favorite cards of the year' posts, but next up is 1995 - stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

george brett is in my hall of famer collection

george brett is in my hall of famer collection with this card as his entry:
that is a 2001 topps finest finest moments autograph card.  here's the back:
the back of the card serves as a reminder to me that i did not go to the big a on september 30, 1992 to see brett reach the 3,000 hit milestone despite living in orange county at the time. he didn't play in the first two games of the series due to injury, and i really didn't consider that he would play in the last two games of the series.  a few seasons later, i would again miss out on seeing a player reach 3,000 hits as i was in toronto at a blue jays game the day that cal ripken achieved the milestone in my adopted hometowns of the twin cities. you can bet i'll be watching miguel cabrera's progress next season with an eye towards the tigers' late season series in minneapolis!

back to brett - i never did see him play in person, as the only time i saw the royals during his career coincided with a disabled list stint for him (that was in 1989). i did root for him from the beginning of my fandom, however, as his 1978 topps card was a favorite of mine, and his assault on .400 in 1980 had me checking the royals' box scores daily.  

i desperately wanted him to lead the royals to victory over the yankees in the 1978 alcs, but i was still a national league loyalist in 1980 when the royals met the phillies in the world series. as a result, i was happy with the phillies win. it was a different story in 1985 when brett led the royals back to the world series, this time against the cardinals. i was completely behind the royals in that series, and with some help from don denkinger, the royals prevailed.

brett received 98.2% of the vote when he first appeared on the hall of fame ballot in 1999, which was the highest percentage for a position player since ty cobb in the original class of 1936. there was no doubt that he would be part of my hall of famer collection as well.

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

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

mel ott - 2011 topps tribute quad relic 15/99

dizzy dean - 2001 topps tribute relic

hank greenberg - 2004 topps tribute hall of fame tribute 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

ernie banks - 1999 upper deck century legends epic signatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

don sutton - 2001 fleer greats of the game autograph

george brett - 2001 topps finest finest moments 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

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

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

andre dawson - 2000 fleer greats of the game autograph

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

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

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

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

barry bonds* - 2001 bowman heritage autographs

roger clemens* - 1995 upper deck autograph
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.