Monday, June 26, 2017

Back Packs: 1986 Donruss

It's been a little over a month since I've dipped into the well of 50 cent packs from the spring card show. So let's rip a pack of 1986 Donruss. Who knows, maybe there will be a Canseco rookie staring back at me?

#288 Lee Mazzilli
#155 Pat Sheridan
#659 Checklist

There's no mistaking these cards for anything else besides cards from 1986, the design makes sure of that with the dark blue background and the pinstripes, the slanted nameplate, and the team logo in the bottom left. I'd forgotten Lee Mazzilli was a Pirate. I dig the white shirt with the yellow helmet and black pants though. Also, that old Pirates logo is fantastic. 

#498 U.L. Washington
#365 Tom Hume
#232 Craig Reynolds

I've never heard of the two guys on the end but in between is Tom Hume, a pretty decent reliever for the Reds throughout the 80s and spot starter on the 1979 NL West championship team.

#221 Tommy Dunbar
#88 Eddie Murray
#575 Bret Roberge

Eddie Murray is the first "star" card you could say from the pack. These other guys I've never heard of but I'll be honest, seeing Bret Roberge (probably the first and last time I'll type that name) wearing 42 on his jacket just seems strange.

#441 Rick Aguilera RC
#308 Sam Khalifa RC
#175 Willie Wilson

A couple decent stars in Aguilera and Wilson, both of whom won the World Series with the respective teams they are pictured with (Wilson in 85 with the Royals, Aguilera in 86 with the Mets). As for Sam Khalifa, he only appeared in 164 career games and only swatted two lifetime homers.

#287 Claudell Washington
#154 Brook Jacoby
#630 Mark Funderburk

The last batch here features former Reds hitting coach Brook Jacoby in a decidedly old school Indians get-up, Claudell Washington sporting a power blue Braves uni, and the well travelled Mark Funderburk. Don't believe me that he made the rounds? Just check the back of his card.

He showed up in 8 games with the Twins in 1981 then literally traversed the world from the minor leagues to the Mexican league to the Italian league and then back to the Twins for 23 games in 1985. I've seen the Mexican league show up on card backs occasionally but this may be the first time I've seen the Italian league show up. It just goes to show, always check the back, you just might find something interesting.

This was definitely a fun pack to rip into as 1986 Donruss is scant in my collection. While I only got one "star card" so to speak (Eddie Murray), I did get a guy who played in Italy, a rookie card of one of the best relievers of the 1980s and early 90s, and few other neat cards. I doubt I'll be able to find any more 1986 Donruss packs on the cheap like this but, you never know.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blog Bat-Around: Player Collection Origins

A week or so ago, P-Town Tom of the Eamus Catuli blog (formerly Waiting Til Next Year) suggested a fresh topic for a blog bat-around, that topic being the origin of your player collections. I know I'm a bit late to the party here but as I was doing some sorting (as shown by the picture above), I came across a few cards of some players I collect. So here are five random picks from my player collection list and the reasons I collect them.

Barry Larkin

I'm a bit too young to remember Dave Concepcion but when I was growing up, Barry Larkin was the first shortstop I remember playing for the Reds. By the time I was old enough to finally get memories of baseball, Concepcion had retired and the shortstop spot was taken over by Larkin, who would hold it down until 2003. After Larkin retired, the Reds went through a revolving door of shortstops but now seem to have settled in with Zack Cozart. When I got back into collecting, Larkin was the first guy who's cards I went after.

Dennis Eckersley

The only non-Red on this list, I've had an affinity for Eckersley cards going back to my original collection. The first card that drew me into him was his 1991 Fleer which featured the craziest picture of any pitcher I've ever seen. Since then, I've been collecting his cards, all of which seem to have some sort of crazy picture of him in mid-delivery.

Sean Casey

Casey was acquired on the eve of the 1998 season for Dave Burba and my, how that trade worked out for the Reds. In eight seasons of manning first base for the Reds, he hit .305/.371/.463 and amassed over 1000 games. Not long after Casey was traded away after the 2005 season, Joey Votto came along and has continued the chain of long serving first basemen.

Chris Sabo

As I mentioned before, Barry Larkin was the first shortstop I remember playing for the Reds, so to go along with that Chris Sabo was the first third baseman I remember hanging around the hot corner for the Reds. "Spuds" played the majority of his career for the Reds, with only the 1994 and 1995 seasons being the ones where he was away from Cincinnati. He returned for a final season in 1996 for 54 games before retiring. I've got two cards of him not in a Reds uniform (Orioles and White Sox) and I'm always looking for more non-Reds cards of him.

1990 Kahn's Cincinnati Reds - [Base] #23 - Hal Morris - Courtesy of

Hal Morris

I didn't have any Hal Morris cards in the box I was sorting so I took this image from COMC. Morris was always someone I found interesting, mainly because of his wacky batting stances but he could hit like crazy. Like most of the other Reds on this list, he's the first person I remember playing at a certain position, first base in this particular case. I haven't really found many cards of his post 1994 for my collection so those are the ones I'm definitely trying to find currently.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Going Through the Archives

This past weekend was Father's Day weekend and, despite the underlying current of a rather expensive car repair and bad customer service at the dealership doing the repair, it was still a fun weekend. The threat of rain kept the family and I indoors for much of Father's Day proper but the day before my mom took us out to eat at Chili's. As a gift to myself, I was on the lookout for Archives. We stopped at Target before lunch but no luck as it looked like their shelf hadn't been updated in over a month. On the way home, we stopped at Walmart and behold ... there were only a few blasters left on the shelf. I nabbed two of them. 

Last year Archives really stepped up their game I thought and it was going to be hard to top it. Wouldn't you know it though, Topps nearly succeeded. I say nearly because the 1982 design was used just a few short years ago in the 2013 set. If they were going to use an early 80s design, how about 1981? Regardless, they are still fun cards. 

The other years that Archives celebrated are 1960 and 1992. The 1992 set I have fond memories of as it was one of the first Topps sets I remember collecting from my youth. Some of the pictures they chose are just great, especially the horizontal ones, such as the Astros cards above. Also, much like the 1960 set, every card in that design in a horizontal one as well.

I got one Bazooka insert in each blaster. They're neat little cards and I was pretty happy to get a Kris Bryant one. The Moncada "rookie star" card and the Verlander are ok. I was sort of hoping for something like last year's Topps Supers in the insert department but these are fine.

One of my favorite things about Archives is that you get cards of players on teams that they aren't normally associated with (the lone exception in this batch being Hank Aaron). The Ozzie Padres card is just absolute gold. Unfortunately, I didn't get a Reggie Jackson Orioles card in either blaster.

The one thing I could've done without is the Jeter reprints. These are the only thing out of the Archives box heading for the trade bin. If they were reprints of older Jeter cards, say from the 90s, then I probably would have kept them. As is, I honestly have no use for reprints of cards from just a few years ago.

Moving on from the negativity, this was the only parallel that came from either blaster, and it's of Juan Marichal. No complaints there. This is the second neat Marichal pull I've had recently as a few years ago, I bought some Heritage packs and pulled out a Juan Marichal jersey card numbered to 49. Maybe the hobby gods are trying to tell me something?

Another great thing about Archives is you get cards of players from way back in the day. I've found that Honus Wagner cards are usually found in the higher end products, at least from Topps, so getting his card from the very first pack was really neat. I also like that they kept them to the old 1960 design instead of trying to put them on a newer design.

Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby? I'm good with that.

And a two more cards that I found to be pretty neat. I can't say I've seen too many cards recently of Blyleven in a Tribe uniform, especially the old late 70s/early 80s design. Also, Eddie Murray has a striking resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. I'll have a royale with cheese, please.

Finally, there are two of these coins in every blaster. In case you can't see by the scan, I got David Dahl, Giancarlo Stanton, Mookie Betts, and Anthony Rizzo. I'm not sure how exactly these will fit in pages so for now I put them in the box that has just miscellaneous stuff in it.

Overall, I definitely dig Archives this year and these definitely made up for the stress and otherwise awfulness I had to deal with from the car repair shop. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

You've Got Mail #72: Summer of '74

I received a package in the mail the other day from someone I like to call "The Man Who Made Milwaukee Famous."

No, I'm not talking about "The Crusher".

I'm talking about Matt from the somewhat new Summer of '74 blog. He's a Brewers collector and is also building some of the Topps base sets. I shipped a few late 70s extras his way along with a few from 2016 recently. In return, I received some cool stuff back last week.

First were these really cool TTM autographs. I haven't really dabbled into the TTM thing yet but I might give it a try at some point. Since Matt is working on an all-time Brewers signature project, I think it's safe to assume that these are extras. I especially like the Joe Oliver card as he was the Reds primary catcher when I first started getting into baseball.

There were also a decent batch of Indians, both old and new. I know there's a ton of 1991 Donruss out there so if anyone wants to dump their cards from Series 1 on me, let me know.

There were also Reds cards both old and new and even old players (Johnny Bench) on new cards. I swear on every Johnny Bench card Topps puts out, that same picture is on there. The Chris Sabo Upper Deck card I strangely didn't have before somehow.

This was the real star of the package though ... card #599 from the 1974 Topps set and it just happens to be the "Washington" variation of the card. One of my collecting goals is to finish the complete set of the Washington error cards and this definitely puts me one step closer. I only need 10 more cards to complete the set and if you have any of the cards on my want list that I still need, feel free to let me know.

Thanks for the great cards Matt. I've got a more Topps base cards I'm piling up to send to you later this summer in the hopes that you can put them to some good use.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Going Platinum

The family and I stopped by Meijer, a local grocery chain, a couple weeks ago to grab some odds and ends. Them being the only other retailer around here that stocks cards, I made a gander through the card section as usual. Normally, their prices are a few dollars more than everyone else but I found this jumbo pack of last year's Bowman Platinum on the rack for a mere $3.49. It's not something I would normally get but at that price, I couldn't pass it up. After we got home and got the groceries put away, I ripped into it.

The pack proclaims there will be five "top prospects insert cards" per pack. Obviously, these are not them. These are the main base cards and are pretty sharp looking to be honest.

Two more base cards and a Victor Robles "Platinum Presence" insert card.

Gleyber Torres is another insert card, this time from the "Next Generation Prospects" insert set. The top prospect cards the pack promised starts off with two Braves prospects in Toussaint and Dansby Swanson, who I guess at this rate can't really be categorized as a prospect anymore. Sorry Braves collectors, I'm holding on to these.

The final three cards and the only player from this batch I've heard of is Billy McKinney.

Only 12 cards in the pack but the design and overall quality of the cards definitely made up for the lack of quantity. For the price, this was a pretty fun quick rip. Would I have bought this at regular price? More than likely not. However, it definitely pays to look at the bargain rack in the card aisle, just proves to show you never know what you'll find.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Topps NOW Temptation

Last night I was watching the Reds game and saw Scooter Gennett become the first Reds player in history to hit 4 home runs in a game. Immediately, I hoped there would be a Topps NOW card of ol' Scooter's historic feat and sure enough, late this afternoon, this popped up on Topps' website:

There have been times before that I've considered purchasing a Topps NOW card, even as recently as this year when they issued some NOW cards of the Hardy Boys returning and the Undertaker retiring at WrestleMania. However, I ended up not pulling the plug and buying either one.

This one I'm really tempted to get. However the back of it is just a simple picture of Scooter doing a curtain call and makes no mention of him becoming the first Reds player ever to accomplish the rare four-homer feat. See below:

I kind of wish that it had a sentence or two on the back about the historic feat but alas, that's not to be. I'm still considering if I should drop the $10 on the card as, to me at least, that's a lot for just one card. At least the shipping is free. Now, I just need to figure out if my card budget will allow it.

Monday, June 5, 2017

You've Got Mail #71: All Trade Bait, All the Time

I always get excited when I get a USPS notification text that a package is on the way, especially when I know that cards are involved. A week or so ago, I received notification that a package was on the way from California. Judging by where it departed from, I surmised (correctly I might add) that the package was from Oscar at ATTBATT. A package from him never fails to disappoint and there were some really fun things to be had.

I'm a big fan of cards featuring players from unfamiliar teams. I guess these would fall in the "short term stops" category but Tom Seaver pitched six years for the Reds so that wouldn't really fit. However, the Valenzuela card certainly does. I had no recollection of Valenzuela as an Oriole. Apparently he bounced around a lot once he left LA. For the Orioles in 1993, he went 8-10 with a 4.94 ERA in 32 games. He would bounce around the majors for three more seasons before finally hanging up the cleats after stints with San Diego and St. Louis during the 1997 season.

The Roger Clemens card is another one that falls into that category of "short term stops". Every one remembers him as a member of the Red Sox and Yankees and some of his stint in Houston but everyone seems to forget when he played two seasons north of the border for Toronto. To say it was a shocker when he signed with Toronto was a bit of an understatement but it two seasons in the Great White North, he was an astonishing 41-13 with a 2.33 ERA. He also had his last 20-win season (1998) as a member of the Blue Jays. 

These guys definitely aren't short term stops either but they are cards from my favorite sets of 1991, Donruss and Topps. If I had to rank them (hey, there's an idea for a post!) I'd say that Donruss would be number 2 and Topps number 1. I enjoy both designs equally but Topps gets the edge just because Donruss turns to an ugly green color in series 2. But I digress. I've made the Lee Smith argument for the Hall in this space before (478 career saves, 3.03 lifetime ERA among other things) but now I think is a good time to make the argument for Fred McGriff.

During the 90s, McGriff was as good of a hitter as anyone, finishing off home runs and singles all the same with his trademark "helicopter" follow through. Over 19 seasons with Toronto, San Diego, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Chicago (NL), and Los Angeles, he amassed 493 HRs, 1,550 RBIs, 2,490 hits, with a career slash line of .284/.377/.509 in 2,460 career games. In the awards category, he was a five time All-Star, won three Silver Slugger awards, finished in the top 10 of MVP voting six times, and won a World Series with Atlanta in 1995. With those kinds of stats, I honestly don't see how he's only getting 20-25% of the vote during the Hall of Fame voting season.

More cards for the Eckersley collection. Even though I never got to see him pitch on a regular basis, there's just something about his cards that make me want to collect them. I think it's probably the fact that most every one of his cards (at least his Oakland cards) see to catch him in some sort of weird pitching position, save for the 1994 Upper Deck card pictured above. 

Player collections and team collections weren't the only thing that the envelope covered. There was a decent amount of stuff for my team collections too. First up, this smattering of Expos. I always kind of liked the 1997 Upper Deck design with the caption on the photo and the faux wood grain-ish border on the bottom. Also, how cool is Marquis Grissom in the powder blue uniform on the 91 Donruss card?

The other team well represented was the Indians, both old and new. The Winfield on the top can fall into the category of "sunset card" and it's probably the trippiest sunset card of all time. Winfield only appeared in 46 games for the Tribe in 1995 after infamously being traded for dinner. If you've never heard the story, Winfield was traded to the Indians by the Twins two weeks after the 1994 strike started for a player to be named later. Since the season got cancelled, Cleveland and Minnesota executives went to dinner with the Indians picking up the bill.

The newer cards are 2016 and 2017 releases. Seeing the 2017 Heritage and 2017 Series 1 gives me the urge to pickup more Heritage packs along with some Archives and Series 2. 

Thanks for the great cards Oscar! I'll be sure to load up a PWE for you soon.