Monday, October 29, 2018

An Impromptu Card Show

The weekend before last I made my way up to the Nutter Center for the monthly card show. It was an impromptu trip as the family and I had planned on visiting my aunt in Akron and my uncle and I had planned on going to a show up there. However, the kids were sick and as consolation for us not going to Akron, my wife suggested I go to the Nutter Center for the show there.

It was a terribly windy, gloomy, and overcast day but the 45 minute drive up wasn't bad thanks to the new car we purchased in September. When I got there, I found that the show wasn't being held in its usual environs, the gym, but instead in a conference room in the back of the arena. I made my way down the hall, past trophies and pictures of Wright State University teams past and finally to the conference room. It was a little cramped inside, not the best set up, but still, there were a few deals to be had.

I'll start with this 1955 Bowman Preacher Roe that set me back a whole $2. I like the card but every time I look at it, I can't help but think something is off. Maybe the top got trimmed a little? I'm not sure. But regardless, it hits a couple boxes on the collecting checklist for me as it's both a vintage card and a zero year card since Preach never pitched a single game for Baltimore.

Here's one of two relic cards I picked up. The guy I got this from had random scattered cards in top loaders on his table. I didn't see much I was interested in but there was this Dale Murphy card. It's not every day you see a card with a blue patch. We settled on five dollars for it.

I'm not building the 1971 set, too expensive for me, but when I come across singles at a good price I definitely grab them up. Such as these for about 50 cents each.

And also, I got this Al Kaline card from the same vendor for the paltry sum of $3. So, adding some quality 1971s to my collection? I'd call that a fair deal.

One guy had loose 2018 Stadium Club singles for a dime each. I managed to find 10 I liked from the stack but it had been pretty well picked through already. Look close, the Dansby Swanson is a black parallel.

Next came my favorite part, bargain bin digging. There were a ton of bargain boxes of all types ... dollar boxes, quarter boxes, and of course who doesn't love a good dime box. I'm going to hit most of these rapid fire style as there's a lot to cover.

First up, two food issue oddballs. I remember having the Jose Canseco card as a kid in my childhood collection so it's nice to have it again. I never knew Cap'n Crunch had cards but apparently they did. Obviously, they're unlicensed otherwise why would the Braves logo been airbrushed off the hat.

Early 80s randomness including Rusty Staub and "King Kong" Kingman? Sure. Why not.

I couldn't help but grab the Carlos Beltran cards, especially considering they're early cards of him with the Royals. My favorite here has to be the Angels/Senators card talking about the MLB expansion.

I didn't grab as many Reds cards as I though I did. It turns out these were the only three I managed to gather the whole day. The Griffey Jr. Impact card is one of the first cards I remember being issued of him as a Red.

All the Jim Thome cards above came from the same dime box. I just couldn't resist, especially since they mostly cover the gamut of teams he played for such as the Twins, Phillies (who I forgot he was with), and White Sox.

More dime card Indians and hey, look at that! It's a 2001 Upper Deck Vintage C.C. Sabathia in the wild. That will eventually go towards my set build for that.

Another old school style set I like is the Upper Deck Decades set with the funky colors and cool design. It just screams the 70s and I always try to find cards from that set. These came from the same box at the Thome cards above.

Hall of Famers on mid-90s Upper Deck? Sure! As many times I've seen cards from 1992 Upper Deck, that's the first time I've ever seen the Dave Winfield card from that set.

Lots of complete randomness here, including cards from 1994 Topps, one of my favorite sets as kid.

How about some horizontals? And yes, that's a Topps Total Robinson Cano rookie card found in a dime box. That Frank Robinson card though is just a beauty.

When I say these were the dime boxes that kept on giving, I mean it. These came from the very first dime box I came across. Honestly, how anyone could pass this batch up at a dime a piece amazes me.

When I see 1987 Donruss cards, especially the star cards from the set, I just have to nab those.

Now I'm getting into some of my favorite types of cards, unfamiliar teams and short-term stops. Here we have Larry Walker with the Cardinals, Randy Myers with the Orioles, Randy Johnson in a Expos uniform, and then Pedro at a member of the Mets.

This quartet features Andre Dawson with the Marlins, the well-traveled Reggie Sanders as part of the Royals, Omar Vizquel in a White Sox uniform from what looks like a spring training game, and Rickey with the Angels. Rickey may love Rickey but Rickey don't love that Angels uniform.

I'm a sucker for these Topps Flashbacks cards and while they didn't come out of a dime box (it was a quarter box instead), they're still super cool, especially the Batman card.

Ok, so that was the baseball portion. But wait ... there's more!

Hockey card were scarce, as a matter of fact there was only one guy with a halfway decent selection. Anything that was marked at five dollars or below in the hockey box was a dollar so I nabbed these plus another card that was probably my favorite find of the day. You'll see it shortly. Of these though, it's tough to pick a favorite.

Two sports I don't really collect, that being golf and basketball. As a matter of fact, the Jack Nicklaus card is my only golf card I now hard. These came from the same quarter box as the Topps Flashback cards I showed earlier.

I couldn't help but grab a few football cards while I was there too. I'm a big fan of the Panini Classics line I felt these would be great additions to my football binder.

Speaking of great additions, an Ickey Woods Starting Lineup rookie card for a mere two bucks? Yes please!

There was one guy that had a small two-row Bengals dime box that I couldn't help but dig through. Between these and the haul from his baseball dime box, I spent a mere $4 at his table for 45 cards.

A couple cool UFC cards for my UFC and WWE binder, aka my "combat sports" binder. I've mentioned this before but Jessamyn Duke is my fourth cousin. She also made her WWE TV debut last night as part of the NXT Women's Title match at the Evolution pay-per-view.

But here, here's the best find of the show. A card that was my most expensive purchase at $10 and features three really good players in Aaron Ekblad, Jaromir Jagr, and Roberto Luongo, who I'm pretty sure has been playing in the NHL since it was founded. I figured the guy would've wanted a pretty penny for it but I was wrong. To be honest, I'm a little stingy when it comes to paying for cards like this so if he would've said anything north of ten bucks for this card alone, I would've put it back. Along with the other hockey cards I showed earlier, that total was twelve dollars and I was happy to pay that.

So that's my card show run a couple weekends ago. I've got another card show run planned for Thanksgiving weekend down in Cincinnati and hopefully nothing crazy happens and I'm able to make it down there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Helpful PWE

Before I begin, October has been a crappy month so far. We had a giant clog in the drain pipe leading from our washer which ended up costing a few hundred dollars to get fixed, both kids had an ear infection at the same time, and my oldest is still having ongoing medical issues stemming from it. My wife is really stressed out from having to deal with all the kids stuff (sickness and otherwise) while I'm at work. Speaking of which, my work schedule has been all over the place (and they shut off the public wi-fi at work so now I can't write on my lunch break, bummer) this month so I'm home at different times each week. So yeah ... welcome to my month of October.

However, to help lift my spirits, I came home from work last week and much to my surprise there was a PWE laying on the counter from AJ over at the Lost Collector blog. It was a nice orange and black package full of Bengals and perfect for the Halloween season.

I really like the Jon Kitna and Andy Dalton cards here. Kitna is best remembered as a Bengal being behind center for the playoff game in which Carson Palmer's knee was injured on the second play. I really, really like the design on the Topps Valor card. Kind of makes me wish Topps still made football cards.

Some nice looking Donruss Classics cards here. The lighting I had wasn't the best so unfortunately the names on the cards can't really be made out.

And then finally a few rookie cards including Jordan Shipley and Bernard Scott. 

I appreciate A.J. sending these over and for helping put a smile on my face with a nice, surprise PWE after a rough month. I'm hoping that our fortunes for rest of the month (the whole week or so left) will turn around and things will get much better.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Reds Managerial Candidates

The news came out yesterday that Joe Girardi, David Bell, and Brad Ausmus are the three finalists for the vacant Reds job from the initial group of 12 that were interviewed. I'm not really surprised that those three are the finalists as they are probably the most high profile names of the group (aside from John Farrell). I also needed an idea for a blog post so I thought it'd be a fun exercise to explore the group of 12 the Reds interviewed to be manager.

Jim Riggleman
MLB Managerial Experience: 13 years (San Diego 1992-1994, Chicago Cubs 1995-1999, Seattle 2008, Washington 2009-2011, Cincinnati 2018)

I'll start off with the incumbent, Jim Riggleman. He took over in April when Bryan Price was canned after a miserable 3-15 start and did fairly well. The Reds played very well over the summer but by August faded off and had a lousy finish. At one point when the Reds were doing well, he seemed like a lock to get the job but the bad finish seemed to have scuttled his chances.

Joe Girardi
2012 Topps Heritage - [Base] #382 - Joe Girardi - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: 11 years (Florida 2006, New York Yankees 2008-2017)

Girardi is by far the biggest name of the group and was actually a finalist for the job in 2008 when the Reds decided to go with Dusty Baker instead. He won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009. Me personally, he be my pick as I think having a "big name" manager would lend some credibility to the team, much like it did with Dusty Baker in 2008.

Brad Ausmus
2015 Topps Heritage - [Base] #187 - Brad Ausmus - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: 4 years (Detroit 2014-2017)

If the Reds can't get Girardi, the other finalist with experience is Brad Ausmus. He won the AL Central in his first year with the Tigers but lost to Baltimore in the ALDS that season. The Tigers went up and down during Ausmus' tenure going from 1st to 5th to 2nd and back to 5th.

David Bell
2006 Fleer - [Base] #260 - David Bell - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: None

The third finalist is David Bell, a former player who now works in the Giants front office and had some coaching experience with the Cardinals. His dad, Buddy Bell, works in the Reds front office as a senior adviser to the General Manager. Bell would be the hometown pick as he's from Cincinnati but has no managerial experience. I think if he were to be the pick, some would see it as a favor to his dad.

John Farrell
2017 Topps - Rediscover Topps Buybacks - Bronze #1988-533 - John Farrell - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: 7 years (Toronto 2011-2012, Boston 2013-2017)

I'm surprised that John Farrell wasn't one of the finalists but I could see him being a backup plan should any or all of them fall through since all three finalists are also candidates for other managerial openings as well. The rumor is that Farrell is good with young pitching and the Reds definitely need someone to help in that department. For 2018, he worked as a scout for the club and when Price was given the boot was seen by many as the next manager in waiting.

Hensley Meulens
1992 Upper Deck - [Base] #606 - Hensley Meulens - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Meulens is currently the Giants bench coach and was a finalist for the Yankees job last year that ultimately went to Aaron Boone.

Charlie Montoyo
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Charlie Montoyo is currently the Rays bench coach but also managed Durham in Triple-A, as seen here by this card. The Rays experimented with "the opener" in terms of pitching this year so I'm curious as to if any of that came into play.

Tom Prince
1992 Score - [Base] #618 - Tom Prince - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Tom Prince is another bench coach the Reds interviewed and probably had the longest active playing career of anyone in the batch (aside from Girardi and Ausmus). Prince played 17 years in the majors with the Pirates, Dodgers, Phillies, Twins, and Royals. Even though he doesn't have any major league managing experience, he did manage in the minors.

Pat Kelly
2017 Grandstand Pensacola Blue Wahoos - [Base] #PAKE - Pat Kelly - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: None

No, this is not the Pat Kelly that played for the Yankees in the early to mid 90s. This Pat Kelly has been managing in the minors for a good number of years, including in the Reds system with Pensacola and Louisville. He was the bench coach for the Reds this season (what is it with the Reds and interviewing bench coaches). It was a formality that the Reds would interview him since he was on the staff and had managed previously within the system.

Rocco Baldelli
2008 Topps - [Base] #464 - Rocco Baldelli - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Perhaps the most interesting name on this list is that of Rocco Baldelli. Remember him? He was supposed to be the mega-star of the future for the Rays but unfortunately injuries constantly derailed him. 

Billy Hatcher
1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice - [Base] #128 - Billy Hatcher - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of
MLB Managerial Experience: None

Another formality here is current Reds third base coach Billy Hatcher. Hatcher is probably the longest serving coach on the team, having been on Dusty Baker's staff as well.

Freddie Benavides
1993 Pinnacle - [Base] #548 - Freddie Benavides - Courtesy of
Scan courtesy of

MLB Managerial Experience: None

The final name on this list is former Reds and Rockies reserve infielder Freddie Benavides. While him, Hatcher, and Kelly were definitely considered long shots to get the managerial post. I don't think Benavides has any managerial experience under his belt.

That's the dozen who the Reds interviewed for the vacant managerial post. Personally, I'd like to see them go with Joe Girardi as I think having a "big name" manager could really help the club. The front office has said repeatedly that there will be a new manager in place by the end of the month. Who do you think they'll pick?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Around the Horn: Cleveland Indians

My "Around the Horn" series returns (finally) and this time I'm heading up to the shores of Lake Erie and exploring one of my team collections ... the Cleveland Indians!

The Indians have been around since the founding of the American League in 1901 and had many different names in their formative years until settling on "Indians" in 1915.

League Park
The team played in League Park (aka Dunn Field) from 1901-1932 and a lighter schedule of games from 1934-1946 when they split home games at both League Park and Cleveland Stadium. League Park also hosted the two predecessors to the Indians, the Cleveland Spiders of the National League and the Cleveland Lake Shores of the Western League.

These Conlon cards represent players from the early years of the Tribe. I love the Colon cards because not only are the usual players featured but you also get forgotten players of the era like Neal Ball, Sarge Connally, and Ab Wright. The Neal Ball card I'm particularly fond of as it just shows how primitive major league baseball was back then. The outfield wall is littered with advertising and beyond that there are houses in the background. As for Ball himself, he was a journeyman infielder who played 7 seasons with Cleveland, New York, and Boston. The back of the card tells how he turned an unassisted triple play on July 19, 1909. 

Cleveland Stadium
The Indians abandoned League Park for good after 1946 and moved into the massive Cleveland Stadium on the shores of Lake Erie. During their time there, the Tribe had some pretty lean years but it hosted two World Series (1948 and 1954) and the All-Star Game four times (1935, 1954, 1963, and 1981).

My actual Indians card collection begins with this 1957 Topps Don Mossi. It's the oldest Indians card I have in my collection. 

Jumping ahead to the 1970s now and some of my favorite Indians cards from the 70s, including two players who played for both the Reds and the Indians, Vada Pinson and Buddy Bell. The most interesting thing here is the Ken Aspromonte manager card, not because of the manager himself, but because of the coaches, especially the pitching coach, Warren Spahn. I find it terribly hard to imagine Warren Spahn in an Indians uniform.

The 1980s were pretty thin on good teams for the majority of the 1980s and had only two winning seasons (1981 and 1986) but still never rose above 5th place during the decade. They had some good players though like Len Barker, who threw a perfect game in 1981, Toby Harrah, Andre Thornton, and Brook Jacoby. Speaking of Jacoby, checkout the dark blue uniform top on him. I don't remember that uniform at all.

To anyone else, this would be just another 1989 Topps card. However, to me, it's one of the most interesting cards of the set. The Indians drafted Mark Lewis out of high school in 1988 and it was out of Hamilton High School, which is only about 15 minutes from me. While I never went to school there, I hung out with a bunch out people there years ago and got to know the area quite well. Hamilton itself is quite the neat little city with a really awesome downtown area and a branch campus of Miami University. The neat thing about this card is that I know exactly where those baseball fields are where that picture was taken and it's of a local guy proudly representing Hamilton on a Topps baseball card. As for his career, he carved out a nice 11-year career as a journeyman infielder with two different stops in Cincinnati.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that the Indians gained prominence being featured in the movie "Major League" which was released in 1989. When I first saw it, I didn't think much of it but over time it's definitely grown on me and is one of my favorite baseball movies now. It spawned a successful 1994 sequel "Major League II" and a third, not so successful entry "Major League: Back to the Minors" in 1998 which bombed at the box office.

Progressive Field (aka Jacobs Field)
The Indians began the 90s the same way they ended the 80s, near the bottom of the standings. However, Mike Hargrove took over as manager in 1992 and the team moved out of tired old Cleveland Stadium after the 1993 season and into shiny new Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) and had brand new uniforms to match. I've seen a couple games at the stadium and it's a wonderful place to see a ballgame.

The Indians dominated the American League pretty much from 1994 to 2001 with players like Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, and Kenny Lofton mixed along side older stars like Bip Roberts, Eddie Murray, Dennis Martinez, and Orel Hershiser.  The early 90s weren't without some interesting players too like Keith Hernandez, Eddie Taubensee, and Jeff Shaw, both of who were part of some of the better Reds teams of the 90s as well. I've still yet to figure out where that Kenny Lofton card in the first photo came from. If I had to guess, it was probably from a giveaway to commemorate the final season of Cleveland Stadium.

Here's a bunch of IP autographs I've acquired through various trades. I've mentioned this in a previous post but my favorite of the batch has got to be Dave Burba, with Charles Nagy a close second.

These cards from the 2000s are just awesome. I never bough any Upper Deck Sweet Spot as my collecting had pretty much fizzled out by then but it's nice to have them now.

I don't even remember Doc Gooden's stint in Cleveland but he pitched there in 1998 and 1999 amassing an 11-10 record and a 4.92 ERA over 45 starts in those two seasons.

Some modern cards now celebrating the rich past of the team from early stars like Nap Lajoie to more modern stars like Jay Bruce who spent the the latter part of the 2017 season with the Indians to help them in the playoffs.

I've talked a lot about the team itself but haven't really talked about my player collections. There are really only a handful of Indians players I focus on with Jim Thome being at the top.

Of course, I can't talk about the Indians and not mention Dennis Eckersley. I picked up that 1976 Topps card for five bucks at the flea market probably about five or six years ago.

Bert Blyleven is another pitcher from the Indians I tend to collect. Not so much a lot of his other stuff but definitely his Indians cards for sure.

I can't talk about the current Indians without talking about one of their top players, Francisco Lindor. These are my five favorite Lindor cards I have. 

I wanted to close this out with this card, my absolute favorite card I have in my Indians collection. I acquired this card in a trade with P-Town Tom and it's absolutely stunning. As a matter of fact, it's one card I actually keep in a penny sleeve and top loaded because I like it so much and I don't want anything to ruin it. 

So there it is, a look at some of the Indians cards in my collection. I know this was rather lengthy but I dug through two binders worth of Indians cards, hence the length. The next installment should be a bit shorter. Speaking of which ...

On deck for the next entry ... the Seattle Mariners