Saturday, February 27, 2021

1990'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.  here are the cards that represent the 1990's in this mini collection:

1990 - bob welch
the 1990 set has grown on me over the last 30 years. when it was the current set, i couldn't stand it and i purchased very little of it - a box maybe. i eventually collected the full dodger team set and bought a complete set just to appease my inner collector. it has since grown on me, and this bob welch card is actually pretty nice.  1990 was a big year for old friend bob welch, who won 27 games for the american league champion a's while losing 6 - he only had 2 no decisions! he also took home the cy young award which perhaps offered him some consolation for being swept by the reds in the world series.

1991 - ken griffey jr
as much as i disliked the 1990 topps design, i loved 1991. ken griffey jr's card is a decent one to represent the set (i already have the carlton fisk card in my 'favorite cards of the year' mini-collection). jr was just 21 during the 1991 season, but he hit 22 homers, drove in 100 runs, and had a batting average of .327, all while making for must see tv on sportscenter.

1992 - barry bonds
i didn't mind the 1992 topps design, and it had some great looking photos in the set. tommy lasorda's card was a standout for me, but with the initial release of the gold parallels, barry bonds' card was the one i was looking for. one of the local card shops had asked me if i had pulled that particular card, as they were on the lookout and promised a decent sum for it. i never did find one, but bonds' regular card is worthy of representing the set here. he won his second mvp award that year, which was his last in a pirate uniform.

1993 - tony gwynn
i was out of college by the time the 1993 season began, and working full-time in my chosen field which wasn't a guarantee back then. i didn't make it to many games that season, but it began to dawn on me that i could get to padres games almost as easily as i could get to dodger games. i began testing that theory in 1994. meanwhile, gwynn was doing gwynn things - hitting over .300 for the 11th year in a row - and he posted the third highest batting average of his career up to that point. unfortunately for him, his .358 mark wasn't enough to win his fifth batting crown - baseball had come to colorado, and andres galarraga hit .370  (.402 at mile high stadium) on the season.

1994 - frank thomas
the strike year. many things come to mind when i recall 1994 - tony gwynn (would he have hit .400?), matt williams (would he have hit 62 homers?), the expos (would they have won the world series?), jody reed (did he regret turning down the dodgers' offer which put the wheels in motion for the pedro martinez trade as much as dodger fans came to regret it?), and so on and so forth. one of the other players who comes to mind is frank thomas. the big hurt had a big 1994 season with a 1.217 ops fueled by an obscene .487 on base percentage. it was his second straight mvp award, and his 1994 numbers weren't too far off from his 1993 stats even though he had played in 40 fewer games.

1995 - dave winfield
one of the things that gave me hope that the 1994 season would be salvaged was the indians' purchase of dave winfield's ontract from the twins in august of 1994. i figured that the move wouldn't have been made if the season weren't going to resume, given that winfield's contract was up at the end of the season. unfortunately, the season was cancelled. however, i was happy that winfield signed with the indians for the 1995 season and so got to be a part of the team that brought a pennant back to cleveland for the first time since 1954! i don't think winfield was on the postseason roster, but i was definitely rooting for his teammates, including orel hershiser, that fall.

1996 - cal ripken jr
aside from the dodgers winning the nl west for the first time since 1988 and the indians returning to the fall classic for the first time in my lifetime, the highlight of the 1995 season was cal ripken and consecutive game number 2,131. as a steve garvey fan, i learned all about lou gehrig early on, and paid close attention to ripken's streak. 1996 topps has a highlight card that focuses on that event specifically, but i keep that in my "meaningful and just because" mini-collection so i chose this card to represent 1996 instead. ripken reaching game 2,131 was a feat that really had me paying attention to baseball after the strike and loss of the 1994 postseason. i never thought about giving up on the sport, but i don't think it was hyperbole for many to believe that ripken and his streak saved baseball for a lot of people.

1997 - paul molitor
1997 was the year that i moved to minnesota. too late to see kirby puckett play, but in time to catch my one-time favorite non-dodger paul molitor. molitor had signed with his hometown twins for the 1996 season, and he had a fantastic year. in addition to batting .341, he recorded his 3,000th hit towards the end of the season. while his 1997 season was not quite as eventful, he did hit over .300 and drove in 89 runs as a 40/41 year-old. i made sure to catch some games at dodger stadium and the big a before i made my move, but only managed to catch the twins on tv over the last month or so of the season. still, 1997 will always mean minnesota to me.

1998 - mark mcgwire
who else but mark mcgwire would be best to represent 1998? sammy sosa, maybe, but it was big mac who set the season record for home runs that year. as luck would have it, the cardinals returned to minnesota in late june for the first time since the 1987 world series, and i was there for one of the games. we were sitting in left field hoping for a mcgwire home run, but the closest he came was a warning track fly ball off of bob tewksbury. i recorded the game in which mcgwire hit 62 and also the game in which he hit number 70 - i was fully on board the home run train at the time. the next year, some friends and i roadtripped to st. louis to see the dodgers play the cardinals for a weekend series, and big mac failed to homer in those games, too. just my luck, i guess.

1999 - nomar garciaparra
here's another former favorite non-dodger in the collection. the american league shortstop triumvirate of nomar, derek jeter, and alex rodriguez was dominating in the late 90's, and nomar was my favorite of the group. he won his first batting title in 1999 and helped the red sox advance to the alcs for the first time since 1990, although they lost (for the first, but not the last time) to the yankees in a postseason series.  i found myself in boston the weekend before the all-star game somewhat by chance. the red sox weren't in town, so going to a game was not an option, but i did walk past fenway for the first time and bought an all-star game t-shirt. i didn't suggest going to fanfest (we were there to visit extended family), but i was disappointed later to learn that steve garvey had been there. another opportunity lost!
up next, the 2000's represent! stay tuned...

Friday, February 26, 2021

it's getting to be that time again...

the 2021 baseball season is just (hopefully) a month away, and that means daily doses of topps now cards. like many of you, i received my 2021 topps now mike trout coupon card in the mail the other day.
i haven't purchased any of the spring training sets before, although i did pick up at least one single a couple of years ago.

it's also getting to be time for another round of "almost free stuff friday". i'll have a post up at this same time next friday with a bunch of cards looking for a new home. stay tuned!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

my favorite cards of the year - 2018 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.

this one is pretty easy given that i had previously identified my favorite card of 2018 as part of p-town tom's annual contest.

favorite non-dodger card: topps gallery ian kinsler
you can read why i chose this card here, but basically, it's art!

favorite dodger card: topps archives tommy lasorda
i also posted (briefly) about this card before, too - saying "it's great". i can expand on that a bit here. to me, the norm was for managers to have their own card. this was because i began collecting with packs of 1978 topps which featured the fantastic then and now photos of (almost) every manager in the league. so, when i saw cards from 1979 lump the manager in with the team photo, i was bummed. i later discovered that 1978 was somewhat of an anomaly, as topps had combined the manager and team photo card in 1975, 1976, and 1977.

1977 was the first full year that lasorda managed the dodgers - he had taken over at the tail end of the 1976 season following walter alston's retirement, but all the 1977 topps set had to offer was a tiny photo of tommy on the team card. so, i was happy to see him get a solo card in the 1977 design in 2018. so what if the photo is from 1992.

up next, 2007 - stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

larry walker is in my hall of famer collection

larry walker is another player who was a late addition to my hall of famer collection. he is represented by this card:
that is a 1997 donruss signature series authentic signature card, signed by walker sideways, as is his typical approach to autographed cards.  here's the back:
i added walker to the collection following his induction in to the real hall of fame in 2020 - his final year of eligibility for the writers' vote. as the second canadian so honored, i decided to bring him in to the fold. 

i followed walker's career with a lot of interest. i didn't collect every canadian player, but i did collect walker, along with fergie jenkins (the first canadian inducted in to cooperstown), terry puhl, and later, eric gagne before abandoning most of my player collections in 2003. today, i do have cards of vladimir guerrero jr (yes, he's canadian) set aside in what, i suppose, could be called a player collection.  anyway, walker made the hall after much hand-wringing about his having played for nine-plus seasons with the rockies in the thin air of coors field.

i never saw walker play in coors field (i didn't make it there until 2006), but i did see him play once in san diego at jack murphy stadium against the padres. it was may 27, 2002, and walker was 1 for 4. i recall wandering around the stadium with my dad as we weren't too terribly interested in either team. we did stop to watch walker bat, however, and somewhere i have a photo that i took of him at the plate. 

statistically, walker's hall of fame status benefitted from the recent focus placed on stats like ops+ and war, as opposed to the traditional "counting" stats like hits and home runs. his 72.7 war and 141 ops+ are high, while his hit total of 2,160 and 383 home runs are "low".  i do understand the critics - his batting average at coors field was .383, and in other stadiums, he hit only .281 in almost the exact same number of plate appearances. i certainly discounted his performance in 1997 when i really wanted mike piazza to win the national league mvp instead of walker (he didn't), but i've since recognized walker's career as hall of fame worthy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

larry walker - 1997 donruss signature series authentic signature

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.