Saturday, May 31, 2008
On an unrelated note, I moved in to ToppsTown last night. Had a late start, but I'm getting settled in. If you're looking for me in ToppsTown, my name is "The Omelet Injector." Instead of using a normal screen name (like bdj610 is not normal), they have this random name generator, and The Omelet Injector seemed to make the most sense. When I move in, I'll send a postcard. Time to go rip open some packs!!!
Friday, May 30, 2008
Those gray borders, the Topps 2000 logo above the player's name, the team colored bands that went across the bottom of the cards. The cards had a futuristic look to them. At 478 cards, this was one of smaller sets Topps created since the big baseball strike of 1994. Players depicted on the cards had to be either superstars or at least recognizable names in the game because there was hardly any room for that third string catcher or the mop up reliever in this set.
Rookie cards of Barry Zito and Ben Sheets (they shared the same card #451) were big in 2000. Stars like Mike McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez dominated the headlines, as players such as Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken were beginning to wind their careers down. 2000 was also the year Topps honored Hank Aaron by including not only including him in the packaging, but also giving him a card within the set (appropriately #44 in the set), a reprint insert set of all 23 of his Topps cards from 1954 to 1976, and five different cards of him in the Magic Moments subset.
The Magic Moments subset actually consisted of five different event cards per player (for Sammy Sosa, for example, his 20 HR June, 66 HR 1998, 62 HR 1999, 1998 MVP, and HR 61/62), and you only needed one of each subset to complete your set (althouh it was relatively easy to find those extra cards). The players chosen for this honor, besides Hank Aaron, include the already mentioned Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez.
The backs of the players' cards were vertically oriented (the first time since 1993), with another full-color picture of the player above his statistics. Other highlights include the dominant New York Yankees, winning their third World Series in four years over the Atlanta Braves. League Leader cards were found in series II, as well as Draft Picks and Prospect cards. One card that was missing from this set was the #7 card, which was "retired" in honor of Mickey Mantle.
Factory sets of 2000 Topps are not abundant, but can easily be found, whether you buy at the hobby shop, at a show, or online. The future was looking bright, a new decade of baseball would bring out new stars, new events, new records to be broken. And this was the set that would introduce us to them all. Here's to you, 2000 Topps.
One lucky person could win:
All right, so I have not bought any yet, and already I'm worried. As a set collector, it's cool to see the different cards that are out there, but when eBay case sellers advertise these as short prints, I begin to worry about my chances of getting them. To wit:
Okay, at least they didn't photoshop Arnold in with the Angels or something. And unless Congress passes that 61st Amendment (Demolition Man reference), the Governator won't be running or become President of the US anytime soon (although there have been talks to fix that...really!!!) But now there are more cards to look for that didn't appear on the checklist. If there are more, you know I'll post them here.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Inserted in 2001 Topps Series I baseball (1:25 regular hobby/retail packs) was a set called 2001 Topps A Look Ahead. In 2001, the Topps company celebrated their 50th anniversary of entering the baseball card business. Many of the insert sets created that year took a look back through their long history of being involved in the game (Golden Anniversary, Noteworthy, Through the Years). Topps was not only celebrating their past, but looking forward to its future, striving to continue the traditions it set back in 1951. The cards themselves had the player in front of a blue shaded background, where the years (2001, 2002, 2003, et.al.) circled around the player (as if entering a time warp).
The futures of 10 players were pondered in this set (with the predictions from Topps):
- Vladimir Guerrero (owns the instincts to win a Triple Crown)
- Derek Jeter (his greatest days may be ahead)
- Todd Helton (could very well approach .400)
- Alex Rodriguez (seems destined to challenge for MVP honors throughout the decade)
- Ken Griffey, Jr. (Hank Aaron's record is well within his grasp)
- Nomar Garciaparra (seems to be more [batting titles] ahead)
- Chipper Jones (the 00's could be his golden road to Cooperstown)
- Ivan Rodriguez (on the verge of the greatest season ever by a catcher)
- Pedro Martinez (Roger Clemens' record of five Cys may one day fall)
- Rick Ankiel (should live up to his All-Star potential)
Some hefty predictions by the writers. While some of them have come to fruition (A-Rod has been in the running for AL MVP throughout the decade, winning three times for example), others were a little too lofty (see Rick Ankiel, then again, not even Topps could have predicted that he'd come back to the Cardinals as a slugging outfielder later in the decade).
At ten cards, it was a really easy set to complete, whether by opening packs or going to shows. I remember going to a card show and finding nine of the ten cards from this set. The one that the guy didn't have wound up being the card I already had (Nomar). So I offered to pay the value of a complete set instead of paying for each card seperately (which came to about $20.00 for nine cards, compared to $35 if I chose to pay for the nine cards alone). One of many insert sets that Topps put out that year, it was not one of the most talked about as others (compared to the 50-card sets like the aforementioned Topps Through the Years, Golden Anniversary, and 30 card A Tradition Continues from Series I). The insert theme has not been used since. Maybe Topps will bring it back when it celebrates it's 60th.
Totally underrated, fairly inexpensive, not easy to find. Find one and get it to add to your 2001 set when you see it. It's always fun to look back and see what the future held for some of baseball's best players.
The new Baseball Beckett (the now bi-monthly magazine) is out, and the article on my White Whale was printed in the magazine. If you recall, I'm looking for the 2005 Topps Barry Bonds MVP Spokesman Card #BBI1, and it was my second ever post on this blog. Now the story is in Beckett. Maybe this will help speed up the search.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
As you know, every year since 1959, Topps has honored those players, voted by the MLB managers, to be named as members of that year's All-Star Rookie Team. As of 2007, 494 players have been named to this team. The reason for the extras:
- Four ties in position voting (1967, 1985, 1986, and 2003)
- Cal Ripken was voted onto the team twice in 1981 AND 1982
- Eddie Murray received enough votes to be named to the ASRT, but the votes were split between two positions, first base and the outfield. Because he didn't have enough votes to win either position outright, Topps named him as their DH in 1977.
Now in it's 50th year, Topps is allowing us, the fans, the opportunity to vote on the players who will be named to the Golden Anniversary All-Time Rookie Team.
Here are the nominees (and years each player was named to the team)
- Eddie Murray (1977, remember he was the "designated hitter.")
- Jeff Bagwell (1991)
- Kent Hrbek (1982)
- Mark Grace (1988)
- Mark McGwire (1987)
- Prince Fielder (2006)
- Todd Helton (1998)
- Tony Perez (1965)
- Willie McCovey (1959)
- Wally Joyner (1986)
- Alfonso Soriano (2001)
- Dave Lopes (1973)
- Jeff Kent (1992)
- Joe Morgan (1965)
- Juan Samuel (1984)
- Paul Molitor (1978)
- Pete Rose (1963)
- Rod Carew (1967)
- Steve Sax (1982)
- Willie Randolph (1976)
- Albert Pujols (2001)
- Bill Madlock (1974)
- Chipper Jones (1995)
- Chris Sabo (1988)
- Rickie Allen (1964)
- Robin Ventura (1990)
- Ron Santo (1960)
- Ryan Braun (2007)
- Ryne Sandberg (1982)
- Scott Rolen (1998)
- Cal Ripken (1981, 1982)
- Derek Jeter (1996)
- Gary Sheffield (1989)
- Hanley Ramirez (2006)
- Jimmy Rollins (2001)
- Julio Franco (1983)
- Nomar Garciaparra (1997)
- Ozzie Smith (1978)
- Ozzie Guillen (1985)
- Troy Tulowitzki (2007)
- Andre Dawson (1977)
- Andruw Jones (1997)
- Billy Williams (1961)
- Bobby Bonds (1968)
- Boog Powell (1962)
- Buddy Bell (1972)
- Cory Snyder (1986)
- Darryl Strawberry (1983)
- Dave Justice (1990)
- Don Baylor (1972)
- Ellis Burks (1987)
- Fred Lynn (1975)
- Ichiro Suzuki (2001)
- Jim Rice (1975)
- Joe Charboneau (1980)
- José Canseco (1986)
- Ken Griffey, Jr. (1989)
- Larry Walker (1990)
- Magglio Ordoñez (1998)
- Manny Ramirez (1994)
- Matt Holliday (2004)
- Moises Alou (1992)
- Pete Incaviglia (1986)
- Reggie Smith (1967)
- Ron Kittle (1983)
- Tim Raines (1981)
- Tony Conigliaro (1964)
- Tony Oliva (1984)
- Willie McGee (1982)
- Vince Coleman (1985)
- Bob Boone (1973)
- Carlton Fisk (1972)
- Charles Johnson (1995)
- Gary Carter (1975)
- Ivan Rodriguez (1991)
- Johnny Bench (1968)
- Kirby Puckett (1984, this is totally wrong. He was voted in as an outfielder. Why is he in with the catchers??!)
- Mike Piazza (1993)
- Sandy Alomar (1990)
- Thurman Munson (1970)
- Billy Wagner (1996)
- C. C. Sabathia (2001)
- Dontrelle Willis (2003)
- Fernando Valenzuela (1981)
- Frank Tanana (1974)
- Jerry Koosman (1968)
- Jim Abbott (1989)
- Mark Langston (1984)
- Brandon Webb (2003)
- Dwight Gooden (1984)
- Hideo Nomo (1995)
- John Montefusco (1975)
- Justin Verlander (2006)
- Kerry Wood (1998)
- Mark Fidrych (1976)
- Roger McDowell (1985)
- Roy Oswalt (2001)
- Todd Worrell (1986)
- Tom Gordon (1989)
- Tom Seaver (1967)
So there you are. Barring the mistakes (Puckett a catcher???), it's a good lineup with stars from the past five decades. I question why they put Rose on the ballot though. Topps can't even put him on a card. A nitpicky complaint would be the fact that they did not seperate the pitchers (you could easily vote for two righties or two lefties instead of one of each).
I voted a long time ago (Grace, Soriano, Sandberg, Ripken, Dawson, Ichiro, Strawberry, Fisk, Nomo, and Abbott...I think). Now is your chance to do the same. Voting will end when the season does. And there may be an insert set next year to commemorate those who win the voting.
(If you would like to see a complete list of all 494 players as of 2007 to be named to Topps' All-Star Rookie Team, please click here. Take a look and see who wrote it. Name ring a bell?)
- 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter to include hair samples from Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Jackie O, Beethoven, and an actual dinosaur bone!!!
- Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds is announced as card #2 in the Topps Finest Rookie Redemption Promotion!!!
- Topps Series II is officially live on Thursday, May 29!!!
Wait a minute. That's tomorrow!!! That means (UPS willing) that my store will have new product that I will actually want (hopefully, these things are known to delay by a day or three).
That means insert sets to buy:
- Topps Stars
- Topps Year in Review (continuation)
- Topps Trading Card History (continuation)
- Topps All-Star Rookie Team (continuation)
- Topps Mantle Story (continuation)
- Topps Presidential Match-Ups
Along with the possible continuation of hobby exclusives:
- Topps 205 inserts (Target)
- Topps Dick Perez inserts (Wal-Mart)
- Topps Rookie Variation (K-Mart)
Well, I guess I know what will keep me busy for the next couple of months. And now that I have a blog, I can do box breaks and reviews of the cards. Can't wait.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
One of these weeks, I'll find a good quote from a hitter from outside the east coast. This is the third week in a row where not only did the quote come from a pitcher, but one also with ties to New York.
On July 31, 1989, which is traditionally the trading deadline in Major League Baseball, the New York Mets traded five players (Rick Aguilera, David West, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, and player to be named later Jack Savage) to the Minnesota Twins for All-Star pitcher Frank Viola. Viola was in the middle of a sub-par year for him, 8-12 with an ERA of 3.79. As a Twin, his uniform number was 16. But now, he was with the Mets. As an 8 year veteran, you'd think he would have bargaining power to get that number from the player currently wearing it. Guess again.
You see, Dwight Gooden, "Dr. K" himself had uniform number 16. And when asked if he would give it up for Viola:
Viola eventually settled for number 26 (which belonged to Kevin Tapani) for the remainder of the year. In 1991, switched to number 29. Only after he left for the Red Sox in time for the 1992 season did he get his number 16 back.
Uniform numbers, among a million other things, are important to athletes. They may have chosen the number in honor of another player they idolized who also had the number. It may be a lucky number. It may be the number given to them when they first played little league. And when a new player comes to another team, if he wants a certain number, and another person has it, he will do anything to get it. Transactions in the past have involved cash, watches, jewelry, dinner tabs, you name it. But in this one instance, the good Doctor was not about to let it go. And being a superstar in New York, who could blame him.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Tommy Lasorda was a pitcher in the major leagues for three seasons, two with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and one with the Kansas City Athletics. He was used sparingly, only getting into 26 games in his three year Major League career. He did, however, eventually become manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was voted into the Baseball's Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee.
So what did the poor guy do to deserve this abomination of a card??!
The concept of the All-Time Fan Favorites series (2003-2005) was simple. First, it was an offshoot of the wildly popular Topps Archives set, which reprinted the first and last cards of very popular players from the last five decades (2001), reprinted cards from each player's best year (2002, this is an issue to deal with at another time). The ATFF sets incorporated Topps' vast photo library with its catalog of baseball card designs, thus creating cards with pictures never used before. Some of the cards in these sets look better than the original cards they intended to honor. However, there were some questionable choices that the editors of Topps baseball made. One that comes to mind was the 1995 Topps Kirk Gibson card (with a picture from the early 80's, not the early 90's, it just looked way too ridiculous). But this, THIS, this, I don't know how to describe it, card was included in the set as well.
Now Lasorda did have a card in the 1954 Topps set, with a picture of a rosy-cheeked headshot of Tommy along with a black & white "action" shot. That looked good. Couldn't any one find other pictures of him in his playing days buried in their archives (look, heh heh, he said archives)??? The pictures themselves would have been better used with an 80's or early 90's Topps design. But for 1954??? And to keep it consistant with the '54 design, they labeled him as a pitcher.
A PITCHER!!!Does he look like he's doing any pitching on this card??? NO!!! These pictures were taken way long after his pitching career ended. For those of you who actually have this card, please note the fantastic crop job on the "action" photo. Is it my imagination, or does he only have four fingers on his left hand? Where's his thumb??? Who in the Topps company thought this was a great way to honor one of the all-time greats?
He's one of the best managers I watched growing up and, being in LA, was a celebrity (remember those Slim Fast commercials???) in his own right. But Topps dropped the ball on this card, and could have done a whole lot better when thinking to include the man in the set.
Now, the 2004 and 2005 ATFF's were much better as they incorporated the right pictures with designs from the right decade. And this is not to say that the first set was poorly designed. By no means was it a bad looking set overall. But Topps, please tell me..."What were you thinking??!"
Ahhhh. That's better.
Looking at the list of baseball players who served and died for their country, it includes those not only from the US, but from other countries too (many of them are Japanese). I obviously don't have any cards of any of these men, but I thought it would be appropriate to list them here. (If you would like to learn more about the baseball players who gave their lives for their country, you may find the list of links attached to their names (thanks to baseball-reference.com's bullpen wiki):
Joe F. McCarthy
Larry Smith (minor league umpire)
Billy Southworth Jr.
Kerry Lamont Taylor
More information about these players may be found at the following websites:
The Deadball Era, Society for American Baseball Research, Veterans Affairs Gravesite Locator, The Encyclopedia of Catchers, Soldiers & Sailors System, The Baseball Necrology, Stars & Stripes.
(In honor of Sgt. Clinton H. Nichols, husband of my grandmother Gloria Y. Nichols, who survived the Bataan Death March, but died in a camp not long afterwards.)
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Thanks to John at oldschoolbreaks for pointing out that Gary Sheffield is still an active player from the 1997 Topps Sweet Strokes post (I only pointed out Ken Griffey Jr, Chipper Jones, and Frank Thomas as still active in 2008).
And thank you to mr. schwartz for his comment on the 1984 Topps Set review. I really am not a fan of the little head shots on the corner, but that, along with the vertical team name going along the side, makes the 1984 Topps design unique. It kind of deviates from the 20 year pattern for these little headshots however (1963 had that large circle, 1983 had the same large circle, 2003 had the infield shaped headshot picture. I'm pretty sure we'll see it again in 2023 Topps).
My little blog is getting exposure on the internet. And I thank those who have linked my humble blog on their sites (dayf, Mario, John). Again, I am new to the blogosphere, and I will get better. Thank you for welcoming me into the neighborhood.
Friday, May 23, 2008
After looking over my sets, it was a tough choice to come up with one to use as my first set of the week. Should I use a favorite set (like 1988 or 1989 Topps?) Should I just focus on a traded set? What to do, what to do. So I closed my eyes, and picked a binder. This is the result.
This week's set of the week brings us back to 1984. Punky Brewster and Silver Spoons were popular shows, and somehow each had a show devoted to baseball or baseball cards. You remember Punky sneaking her way into the Cubs dugout after finding out that the tickets that she and her "father" won were fake. Or how Ricky Stratton was able to get Tommy Lasorda into the Hall of Fame??? What a year...let's get back to the point.
The 1984 Topps set utilized a simple design. For the third year in a row, the set reached 792 cards, a large number of cards at the time. For the players, the team name was inserted vertically along the left side of the card. There were two pictures of the player, the main one that took up residence on the right side of the card, and a small square headshot cropped in front of a single colored background. The name and position of the player were included below the picture. The backs had blue borders and a pink field where the stats were printed in the same shade of blue. The team logo found a place on the back of the card on the top right corner on the opposite side of the card number.
Rookie cards of Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry are among the key cards of this set. And if anything, this set is significant because 1984 was the year that Topps tested a special send in offer where people could actually choose what cards they wanted. This was a good idea if someone was short a couple of cards to finish his or her set. But there were some people who took advantage of this little offer. Guess which cards people wanted? Needless to say, Topps has not done this offer since. This was also around the time that collecting sports cards became part of the mainstream. Many people were going after cards of the aformentioned "Donnie Baseball" and Darryl, many hedging their bets that these cards would somehow pay for college one day.
Young stars like Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg, and Tony Gwynn were just starting to come into their own as players and would eventually supplant Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Pete Rose, and Joe Morgan as the stars of the time. Players like Fernando Valenzuela (Fernando-mania baby), Mike Schmidt, George Brett, and Robin Yount were among the superstars. But the biggest story in baseball in 1984, without a doubt, were the Detroit Tigers. Leading the American League East from pillar to post in the regular season, to beating the tar out of the San Diego Padres in the World Series, the Tigers were a team of destiny. With stars like Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Jack Morris, Kirk Gibson, and some guy name Willie Hernandez closing, and Sparky Anderson leading the way, these guys were unstoppable.
Back to the cards. The 1984 Topps cards just ooze with simplicity. Compared to the competition (the supposedly short-printed Donruss set and the very blah Fleer set), this was one set that you know was made for the '84 season. Easy to sort by team due to the large letters on the left side of the card. The set also included league leader cards, record breakers, and one very special tribute card honoring three players who were retiring after the 1983 season, Johnny Bench, Phil Niekro, and Carl Yastrzemski.
A clean set, inexpensive, yet classy. This is one set that you won't find laying around often. So here's to you, 1984 Topps set. (And I'm sure the writing will improve as I do more of these kinds of posts).
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Inserted in 1997 Topps Series I baseball (1:12 regular retail packs) were these very shiny cards called 1997 Topps Sweet Strokes. Highligting 15 of the best hitters of the period, these cards included players who ranged from homer-mashing sluggers to scientifically pure hitters. Each player is pictured either in the beginning or towards the end of their hitting motion (hence the name "Sweet Strokes") in front of green triangles (perspective...art class...sixth grade) with the words Sweet Strokes repeated going into the focal point at the top and bottom of the card. Shining in the light, there tends to be many shades of green that jump out of the rainbow foilboard (that's what Beckett calls it) although thanks to my scanner, a lot of pinks, purples, and grays do too.
There were fifteen players chosen to appear in this set:
- Roberto Alomar
- Jeff Bagwell
- Albert Belle
- Barry Bonds
- Mark Grace
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Tony Gwynn
- Chipper Jones
- Edgar Martinez
- Mark McGwire
- Rafael Palmeiro
- Mike Piazza
- Gary Sheffield
- Frank Thomas
- Mo Vaughn
What's really cool about this set is that it not only includes Hobby-popular players like Griffey, Gwynn, Thomas, and McGwire, but it also featured players who otherwise would never appear on an insert card (Grace, Martinez, Alomar). And for those who collected the latter, these cards were important.
The backs of each card included a little summary and a breakdown of his batting statistics (home vs. away, day vs. night, etc.) For those who are stat geeks or roto players going into the 1997 season, these may have been helpful when filling out your draft board (I'm saying may have been...you never know).
Of course, only Griffey, Jones, Thomas and Sheffield (thanks to oldschoolbreaks for letting me know that Gary was still around and kicking for the Tigers) are still active. And while Junior and the Big Hurt look like they are winding their Hall of Fame careers down, Chipper has just been hitting the ball like never before. He's like a new man out there, hitting an insane .410 with 12 homers as of 05/22/2008. Of course, he's already said, "Hitting's not a concern for me...When you're a .310 career hitter, you usually hit .310."
It's a nice set, and is one of the easier to obtain sets to be found online. It's an inexpensive set to boot, due to the fact that some of the players don't have that much of a demand in the hobby. And before someone says, "Last week, you said 'it gets harder and harder to find cards like these, and full sets are not easy to find'." Well, that's true. However, the 1997 Topps insert sets show up a lot more often online than the 1998 sets. I speak from experience. When starting my quest to collect complete sets, I found the 1997 sets easier to find (except the Awesome Impact set) than those from 98. In fact, other than the Clemente Reprints and the five card tribute set, all the others (HallBound, Focal Point, etc) rarely ever appeared. Only when a seller put all his '98 insert sets online was I able to get them.
But regardless, and I'll say it again, if you do see this one on sale (online or at a store), get it.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
So this is how the game works:
- There are 20 cards (inserted into 1:24 packs of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter)
- Each card has a specific code on the top and bottom (see scan)
- First person to crack the code that appears on all 20 cards will actually be part of the set in 2009!!!
Now this is going to be a big deal because I don't think there is a serious collector ANYWHERE that would not want to be a part of this set. Imagine winning it, walking around a card show (yes, they still exist), and overhearing some guy saying, "I need to find that (insert your name here) mini black-bordered card to complete my set!!! It's not a, 'just for you and your family and friends' kind of card. It's the real thing!!! Your name in the Big Beckett book forever, with prices next to the cards that will bear your name, all because of some contest.
The only thing that concerns me is that they are looking for the FIRST person to solve this puzzle. Topps is not going to pull some lucky person's name out of a hat. It's THE FIRST PERSON TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE!!! How will Topps determine whose answer came in first? Do you send an e-mail? Do you mail it in? Call them?
Maybe Topps will want proof that you have all 20 cards if you solve the puzzle. That would make the most sense. I mean, unless you have the money to buy two or three cases of the product, (and there are), you are not going to get all 20 cards together. And to get them all together may take some time. But thanks to the internet, and a certain online auction company called eBay, one may not necessarily need to have the cards in hand to solve the puzzle.
I want in on this contest. I want to be the first to crack the code. I mean how hard can it be? As soon as the cards go live, I am taking the day off from work, spending my day on the Bay, looking for auctions for these babies, scanning pictures, and then (with any luck) solve and be first to respond. I want my picture on a card.
I mean if that Wendy Guey kid could get a card, why can't I??? Ha ha ha ha ha. (Okay ego, take a break).
I better lie down now.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Mondays = Cards that make you go...WHAT??! where the spotlight is put on a card that for one reason or another make me wonder, "What was Topps thinking??!"
Tuesdays = Quote of the week. It could be a current quote, it could be one from many years ago. But somehow, I'll put a card to the quote.
Wednesdays = Anything goes. Could be talking about cards, could be talking about players, could be rambling about the state of the Hobby, could be anything. Or nothing at all.
Thursdays = Insert set of the week. Highlighting insert sets from Topps' past and how (or if) it has impacted the hobby.
Fridays = Set of the week. Spotlighting a baseball set from Topps long history of products.
Saturdays and Sundays = Anything goes. See Wednesdays.
Above is a card of David Ortiz from the 2006 Topps Wal-Mart insert set. In what was the first year of retailer exclusive insert sets (this card could only be found in packs and blaster boxes of 2006 Topps Series II sold at Wal-Mart stores), this set consisted of 54 cards utilizing Topps' catalog of designs (from 1952-2005) with pictures of current and former players.
Take a good look at this card. The design used was from 1997 Topps. It pictures "Big Papi" in a Red Sox uniform. The Red Sox logo is on the bottom left, and the Topps logo and Ortiz's is printed in gold foil. But there is something wrong with this card. What is it?
No, it's not because there is a space missing between his first and last name (that's how the player's names were printed on all regular player's cards).
No, it's not because Ortiz is pictured in a Red Sox uniform (he was with the Twins minor league system in 1997).
No, it's not because the entire card was covered in gloss (the 1997 cards had glossy pictures, but the "frame" had a dry matte finish to it).
It's because in 1997 Topps, all American League player cards had red "frames" surrounding the and all National League players had green "frames."
Now there are other cards from this set that make me wonder, "what was Topps thinking when they put this together?" like the Tom Seaver card that used the 1995 Topps design (why that picture) or the Ryne Sandberg card that did a horrible job of finding the right font for the team name from the 1984 design (that's another matter for another day). Unless you know your Topps designs, you wouldn't even notice it. But for those who do know, "WHAT WAS TOPPS THINKING??!"
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Inserted in packs of 1998 Topps Series I baseball (1:36 regular packs) were these beautifully designed insert cards called 1998 Topps HallBound. This was Topps first attempt at including cards that were die-cut, meaning cut in a different shape. In the case of this set, the top left and right corners were cut at an angle inwards, and, because the name of the player was placed inside of a long ribbon, the cut also went around the ribbon, leaving a sharp, albeit fragile, edge on either side of the card. Rays of gold shine from the words Hall Bound onto the Baseball Hall of Fame building in Cooperstown. The backs of each card explains why, in Topps' opinion, these players should be inducted into the Hall.
There were fifteen players chosen for this set, all established veterans prior to 1998:
- Paul Molitor
- Tony Gwynn
- Wade Boggs
- Roger Clemens
- Dennis Eckersley
- Cal Ripken
- Greg Maddux
- Rickey Henderson
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Frank Thomas
- Mark McGwire
- Barry Bonds
- Mike Piazza
- Juan Gonzalez
- Randy Johnson
Ten years later, Topps did a fantastic job predicting who would be going into the Hall. Five of the first six players on the checklist are now in the Hall (Molitor, Gwynn, Boggs, Eckersley, and Ripken). As of 05/15/2008, Maddux, Griffey, Thomas, and Johnson are still active players and should be shoo-ins for induction five years after they retire.
So what about the other six? Well, drug scandals aside, players like Bonds, and Clemens have the numbers to be inducted, but only time will tell if they are elected by the BBWAA. McGwire has been on the ballot for two years now, and should be elected soon (weak fields for the next five years should get him in eventually). With Rickey FINALLY retired, and up for induction in 2009, who WOULDN'T vote him in (and can you imagine the ceremony when he gets up there to give his induction speech, "Rickey would like to thank...") Piazza was the best hitting catcher of his era, but it might take a few years before he gets voted in.
Which leaves us with Juan "Igor" Gonzalez. Prior to 1998, he was THE man for the Texas Rangers. He led the team in almost every hitting statistic. Was the AL MVP in 1996 (would be named again in 1998). But somehow, after leaving the Rangers (traded to the Tigers prior to the 2000 season), injuries began to plague him. He still has the numbers (.295 BA, 434 HR, 1404 RBI), but he's going to be a longshot at best to get in.
I love looking at these older sets, just to see whether or not these players did pan out as promised. As the years go by, it gets harder and harder to find cards like these, and full sets are not easy to find. But the 1998 Topps HallBound is a beautiful set and if you do see one on sale (whether online or at a store), get it.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
(Quote taken from article written by Barry M. Bloom of mlb.com. You may see the full article by clicking here.)
Rich "Goose" Gossage, who will be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame this summer, was interviewed after touring the Hall earlier in the week. Among topics discussed were his opinions about showboating in baseball (ie. Joba Chamberlain), and how the game has changed giving advantages to the hitters (can't back a hitter off the plate without getting into trouble).
Finally, he admitted that in all his years of playing in the majors that he intentionally HIT three batters: Ron Gant, Andrés Galarraga, and Al Bumbry. Why them?
Now, I did some research (thanks to baseballreference.com). Gossage hit 47 batters in his long career. While Gant and Galarraga do appear on the list of players he hit, Bumbry was not one of them. Both Gant and Galarraga were hit in 1988 (Gant on 08/28/1988, Galarraga on 07/27/1988). Al Bumbry faced Gossage 33 times, and not once was he ever hit by a Gosssage pitch.
Here is the list of players who have been hit by a Rich Gossage pitch:
Don Baylor (2 times)
Steve Braun (2 times)
Maybe it happened in a spring training game. I couldn't find any info beyond that. Regardless of the research, you can't argue with his reasoning.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I was born in Manila, a city in the Philippines. My grandmother married an American soldier and lived in the US for a few years. She apparently watched some baseball, but was more of a boxing fan (she even welcomed Muhammad Ali when he came into the country for that Thrilla in Manila thing). Anyway, when I arrived in Chicago, one of the few things she would watch on TV would be WGN and the Chicago Cubs. This was 1987, the first year of the Andre Dawson era. She would watch the games, and be happy when the Cubs won (they didn't win that many games if I remember, they ended up in last place). She didn't really know the players, but she did know the game. And there I was, watching the games along with her. Thanks to her, I was introduced to Dawson, a second baseman named Ryne Sandberg, a shortstop named Shawon Dunston, and a pitching staff that consisted of Rick Sutcliffe, and some young guy named Greg Maddux. In 1989, she took me to my first game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs beat the Expos that night. I will never forget climbing those steps to get to our seats and just staring wide-eyed at the field. The grass could not be any greener. And just watching the game live was better than anything I had seen on the television. I think from that point on, I was hooked. She is 92 years old now, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't remember taking me to a ball game, but I thank her very much for introducing me to baseball.
When I arrived here, my mom was working at a bakery called Let Them Eat Cake in downtown Chicago. It was a very busy place. And although it was primarily a bakery, I had never seen more gummy candies in my life. Gummy Bears, Worms, bottles, bottle caps, apples, life savers. They had it all. They also, it seemed, to have an account with a certain baseball card company that coincidentally was a candy/confectionary company as well. Along with Ring Pops, and Blow Pops, this bakery also sold baseball cards. On my second day in the US, she gave me a couple packs of 1987 Topps Baseball Cards. I opened them, ate this pink slab of gum that was in the pack, and looked at the cards. The first thing I noticed was the wood borders, but what I was really interested in were the team logos that were inside this circle on the top left corner of every card. Now, I was a sucker for logos and brands, even in the Philippines, so I thought those logos were cool. I even had this idea of cutting the cards just for the logos and throwing out the rest. It didn't really matter who was on the card because, quite frankly, I didn't know who the players wereere, nor did I care (this was BEFORE the Cubs games). I just wanted the logos. After about 30 minutes, I put the cards down, and went out to play. I don't think I ever so those cards again. It was not until 1988 until I was formally introduced to the art of baseball card collecting by a bunch of the neighborhood kids, but I will always thank (or blame) my mom for introducing me to the concept. In 1990, I found out that one of her childhood friends worked for the Topps Company. My mom told her how I was collecting baseball cards and really liked the Topps cards. Imagine my surprise when a box came addressed to me, and inside was a complete set of 1991 Topps Baseball Cards. This was even before the cards went live. After going over the cards, I noticed there were tons of mistakes on them, the biggest one being the Keith Comstock Cubs card (he was with the Mariners at the time). I was ecstatic. I didn't even have to buy any cards that year. They came all at once!!! I couldn't get that thank you card out in the mail fast enough. And I still have those cards in my collection.
So Happy Mother's Day Mom and Lola. Thank you for introducing me to baseball and baseball card collecting.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Before 2005 Topps Series II hit the shelves, I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the sell sheet. Included was a section regarding Barry Bonds and to commemorate his seven MVP awards, they were issuing cards with the original Topps designs based on the years he won (1990, 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004). But instead of simply reprinting his original cards from those years, they pulled an "All-Time Fan Favorites" and issued new pictures for each year's design. You can't call them reprints. I think we can call them retroprints (if anyone can come up with a better name, please by all means be my guest to suggest one).
To make the set even more challenging, they serial numbered each of the cards:
- Card #1-1990 limited to 25 copies
- Card #2-1992 limited to 50 copies
- Card #3-1993 limited to 100 copies
- Card #4-2001 limited to 200 copies
- Card #5-2002 limited to 300 copies
- Card #6-2003 limited to 400 copies
- Card #7-2004 limited to 500 copies
Now, there are also autograph versions of each card (numbered 1 of 1), and relic versions (with the same numbers as the base cards...why I don't know).
I was fortunate enough that when the cards first started appearing on eBay to win auctions for the last five cards in order (7, 6, 5, 4, and even 3). I was able to get card #2 for a steal only because the seller was relatively new, had low feedback (his number has since gone up), and had no scan. I took a chance, won the auction, paid for it and got the card. (So for all of those eBayers who don't buy from sellers with low feedback...hey we all had to start somewhere right???)
So anyway, it has been two full years plus since I won card #2, and I have been online almost every day looking for card #1. Believe it or not, I have seen two auctions for the relic version of this card (#'d to 25), but have yet to see one for the base card.
Here is a picture of the other six cards.
If by chance you have this card, I am willing to buy or trade for it. I want to put this set to bed once and for all. I want to be the possible first person to get all seven cards together, making my set the only one of possibly 25 in existence. Thank you very much.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
My name is James B. Anama (I go by JayBee, much more original than writing my name with two letters a la J. B.). I love the game of baseball, and its long and storied history. I guess collecting baseball cards came naturally to me.
I have been a baseball card collector for more than 21 years now, mainly Topps products. I have every basic and traded Topps set from 1976-2008 Topps Series I. As of the time I created this blog, I have over 38,749 cards and many more not included in this tally. This total includes assorted reprint and insert sets from 1995-2008 base sets.
Along with the eponymous Topps set, I am also the proud owner of the following Topps sets:
- 2001 Topps Archives, 2002 Topps Archives: Best Years;
- 2003-2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites;
- 2003 Topps Shoebox Collection;
- 2002-2003 Topps T206 series I, II, and III;
- 2003-2004 Topps T205 series I and II;
- 2004-2005 Topps Cracker Jack;
- 2005-2006 Topps Turkey Red;
- 2006-2007 Topps Allen & Ginter;
- 1986-1990 Topps Mini Leader Cards;
- 1984-1986 Topps Super;
- 1988-1990 Topps Big;
- 1983-1990 Topps All-Star Glossy Send-In Sets;
- 1984-1991 Topps All-Star Glossy Sets;
- 1987-1991 Topps All-Star Glossy Rookie Sets;
- 1990-1992 Major League Debut;
- 2005 Topps Rookie Cup;
- 2006-2007 Topps 14-Card Team Sets, all 30 of them;
- 2005 Topps Hot Button;
I prefer collecting complete sets than single cards (like rookie cards or of just one player) because singles can be too expensive and I think grading is terribly over-rated.
Now comes the more interesting part...why did I create a blog on baseball cards when there are so many good ones out there?
Earlier this week, I was reading posts on a sports card message board, and I stumbled upon one where the guy who started it was talking about how he feels that he was losing his passion for the Hobby (whenever I refer to the hobby of sports card and memorabilia collecting, I will capitalize the word Hobby) and how it's no longer fun anymore . And it made me think. I have been collecting for a very long time now. Am I still passionate about my Hobby? Has it gotten to the point where I'm just going through the motions of buying my one or two hobby boxes, looking online for the insert sets, putting them in their binders and sheets, and then putting the binder away as the new year comes? And then I realized, "yes I am."
For the last ten years or so, I really have not taken the time to relax and look at my cards the way I did when I first started out. While I know the years of each Topps card based on what the design was, I stopped looking at the actual pictures (I mean really looking), reading the card backs, digesting the statistics, learning about the players. What happened to me??? It's simple. I grew up. That's what happens when you collect anything, and then still make time for family, work, and other obligations. The collection takes a back seat. Now that doesn't mean I've ignored the Hobby. I still read the magazines, I read what is posted on message boards. I still buy products. But something was still missing. And it wasn't until I read that post that I discovered what it was. It was taking the time to enjoy what I have.
So I decided to create this blog to allow me the time to enjoy my collection. And I want to share what I have with the collecting public. The baseball cards are and will be the stars of this blog. My job will be to talk about them as best I can. Now I'm no expert. I'm not a hobby insider, nor am I claiming to be fully knowledgable about the Hobby I love. But in 21 years, I think I've gained a little bit of knowledge about cards and card collecting. I fancy myself as a student of the Hobby, always striving to learn about the past, while looking forward to the future. While I don't have the literary skill of a Ben Henry, nor do I have the hobby insights of a Chris Harris, I feel I have some knowledge to pass on to the card collecting world, and it is my hope to share that with you as I finally make the attempts to take time and enjoy my baseball card collection.