April 4, 2020

My expanding Mike Fiers autograph collection

Before the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the breaks on my eBay purchasing, I was building a nice Mike Fiers autograph collection from 2019's Topps Archives Signature Series set. It's a product I would never rip on my own but I do enjoy finding some oddball cards to pick up each year it is released. 

Before Mike became one of the best pitchers in baseball, he spent five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers where he was 21-28 record. The Brewers lost confidence and traded him to the Astros and he then signed with the Tigers in free agency. The Tigers then traded him to the A's where he has been 20-6 over a season and a half with the team.

Mike's autograph is great and he clearly spends some time signing each of his cards which I really appreciate. I also love the blue ink vertical autograph on his 2013 Topps Heritage card as a horizontal one would have been very difficult to read with the Brewers jersey.

 Logically, with the sign stealing scandal, Fiers autographs from his Astros days are a little more in demand and I've only been able to pick up the Opening Day version of his 2016 Topps card so far but I keep an eye out for cheap eBay auctions.

 Now, I'm still waiting for the legendary Fiers beard to make its way onto a card.

April 3, 2020

My NFL SuperPro Club Membership Card

During my parents recent visit down to the Heartbreaking Cards central office in Illinois, they brought several boxes of my stuff down and in one of the them was an old wallet with Mickey Mouse on it. My grandparents had given it to me following a trip to Disneyland decades ago and what I found inside was much better than some stray cash I had forgotten about. 

Inside I found my membership card to the Official Member NFL SuperPro Club. Not only that but the Green Bay Packers Chapter! That is my Dad's handwriting in place of my signature right above a facsimile of legendary NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. 

I'm No. 734 of the Packers Chapter which I believe is a fairly low number. Auctions on eBay have membership cards numbered into the tens of thousands so I got in pretty close to the ground level. 

I really enjoy the back as it gives you incredible power to "all rights and privileges" and yet the NFL can yank all that power away at a moment's notice without notice.

The card originally came with a big packet of promotional materials based on your chapter team but I'm afraid most of those have been lost to history. This card will sit nicely with my Packers season ticket postcards and I'm glad I (and my parents) saved this amazing momento of when my Packers fandom was in its infancy. 

April 1, 2020

Marvelous Miscuts No. 1: 1971 Topps Frank Baker

I love misprinted cards and here are some of my favorites.

I'm starting to work on completing my 2020 Topps Heritage set in the 1971 Topps style. The 1971 Topps set is my all-time favorite and I finished the set in 2014 but I'm always on the look out for those so unique 1-of-1 cards that were misprinted. 

Frank Baker is card No. 213 in the 1971 set and the uncut sheet of cards was not only shifted left-to-right- it was off top-to-bottom as the New York Yankees team name was completely trimmed off the top of the card. The top of card No. 200 which describes Game 2 of the 1970 National League Championship series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds takes up the bottom quarter of the card. 

Here's the reverse. Baker played 43 more games with the Yankees in 1971 and then spent two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles in 1973 and 1974.

March 31, 2020

Joy of the Completed Insert Set: 2012 Bowman Platinum Cutting Edge Stars

I'm always a sucker for shiny die cut cards and so the 2012 Bowman Platinum Cutting Edge Stars is right up my alley. Well, that would have been the case and had I known about them at the time. 

Bowman Platinum has not been a product that I have seen in the wild very often and when I do find the random blaster box, there is typically something I would chose over it like Heritage or Allen and Ginter. These came to me all at once this Christmas in a box of ebay finds my Dad has come upon. 

Each card has blue foil in the middle and the only design difference is the middle color near the players head. It could be pink (what?), a weird brown (more what?), green (everyone thinks of green with the Pittsburgh Pirates players) and several different blue shades. It leads to some odd looking cards. 

Back are sort of how-hum but interestingly, the colors on the back don't go with the colors on the front. No pink on Allen Craig's card, just the standard Cardinal red.

Here's the rest of the insert set which includes some interesting player choices. I totally forgot Ivan Nova was 16-4 for the Yankees in 2011. Heath Bell led the league in saves (42) in 2009. I really thought Matt Moore was going to be another David Price for the Rays (he was 17-4 in 2013) but he hasn't been the same since Tommy John surgery. Zach Greinke was 25-9 for the Brewers over his year and half with the team in 2011-12.

December 30, 2019

My players from Decatur (and Central Illinois) baseball card frame

For years I laughed at these baseball card frames, mainly because they are typically pretty expensive ($40 without a discount) and always had such garbage junk wax cards inside demonstrating how the frame worked. I wonder if they left the plastic cases blank if more people would be interested. Or better yet, get reprints of some of the most famous cards ever issued to inspire the collector inside everyone.

Also, you might notice that I have ditched the plastic cases that came with the frame because the cards have a tendency to slip around. As an alternative I have substituted vintage-size toploaders instead and although they move around a little more in the frame, the cards are much easier to switch out which I plan to do often. This isn't a finished piece but will change over time.

A 50 percent Michael's coupon brought this frame into my life this Christmas as a present to myself and I decided to make it a Decatur, Illinois-area focused piece of art.

Top row is Bill Madlock who graduated from Eisenhower High School here in the Soy City. It features his 1974 Topps rookie and some other favorites including a 1977 Topps cloth and his shared 1977 batting leaders card with George Brett.

Row two is St. Teresa graduate Del Unser who has a great rookie card in 1969 Topps and has some fun Canadian issued cards from his days with the Expos from 1976-1978.

Row three is Chuck Dressen who probably had the most memorable career of any athlete from Decatur. Dressen was a member of the Chicago Bears when they were still located in Decatur before the team moved to Chicago and he went on to manage the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1951-1953.

Row four includes Decatur-area players Walter Beck, Hobie Landrith, Roe Skidmore, and Brett Robinson, who didn't make it to the majors but had some great minor league cards while in the Cubs organization. Roe Skidmore is one of 10 players that has a perfect 1.000 career batting average after recording a hit in his one at-bat in a game during the 1970 season. 

October 30, 2019

1974 San Diego Padres/Washington Senators Needs List

Like my 1962 Topps green tint project, I've also always loved the San Diego Padres/Washington Senators errors included in the 1974 Topps set. As a sports writer, I know the temptation to print something you are sure is going to happen as a fact but can't be 100 percent sure about. If you take the chance, it could come back and bite you just as it did to Topps.

Here's the back story:

Original Padres owner C. Arnholt Smith conditionally sold the team to Joseph Danzansky who wanted to move the team to Washington D.C. One of the conditions of the sale was that the new owners had to figure out the stadium situation which meant breaking the 20-year lease the Padres had with San Diego Stadium.

Lawsuits ensued and as Padres fans were up in arms about the sale, McDonald's tycoon Ray Kroc was able to purchase the team our from under Danzansky for $12 million dollars instead (the Marlins were purchased for $1.3 billion dollars in 2018 by comparison).

In the middle of all this, Topps was producing its 1974 Topps set and went ahead and used "Washington" and "Nat'l Lea." for the team and city for the Padres' players, most famously with Willie McCovey's card.  It made for another memorable set of Topps' error cards that reminds us that nobody's perfect.

1974 San Diego Padres/Washington Senators Needs List

Updated: 3-11-20

32a Johnny Grubb VAR: San Diego
32b Johnny Grubb VAR: Washington

53a Fred Kendall VAR: San Diego
53b Fred Kendall VAR: Washington

77a Rich Troedson VAR: San Diego
77b Rich Troedson VAR: Washington

102a Bill Greif VAR: San Diego
102b Bill Greif VAR: Washington

125a Nate Colbert VAR: San Diego
125b Nate Colbert VAR: Washington

148a Dave Hilton VAR: San Diego
148b Dave Hilton VAR: Washington

173a Randy Jones VAR: San Diego
173b Randy Jones VAR: Washington

197a Vicente Romo VAR: San Diego
197b Vicente Romo VAR: Washington

226a San Diego Padres VAR: San Diego
226b Washington "Nat'l Lea." VAR: Washington

241a Glenn Beckert VAR: San Diego
241b Glenn Beckert VAR: Washington

250a Willie McCovey VAR: San Diego
250b Willie McCovey VAR: Washington

309a Dave Roberts VAR: San Diego
309b Dave Roberts VAR: Washington

364a Clarence Gaston VAR: San Diego
364b Clarence Gaston VAR: Washington

387a Rich Morales VAR: San Diego
387b Rich Morales VAR: Washington

599a Rookie Pitchers - Ron Diorio / Dave Freisleben / Frank Riccelli / Greg Shanahan VAR: Washington
599b Rookie Pitchers - Ron Diorio / Dave Freisleben / Frank Riccelli / Greg Shanahan VAR: Large print
599c Rookie Pitchers - Ron Diorio / Dave Freisleben / Frank Riccelli / Greg Shanahan VAR: Small print