2016 TSR: Naaaaah, We’re Outta Bear Claws!

Once again, we rip into a wax pack of 2016 TSR. One of these days, I’ll need to do a rack pack.
2016 TSR Series Three wrapper thumb
Hmmmm… Rack pack….

OK, so Friday night I was driving around and listening to the Mets and Marlins, and the Marlins announcer was talking about how ‘Bear Claw’ was pitching.

…And I said ” ‘Bear Claw’? Is that his name?”

I started wondering if he were of First Nation descent, like Jay Silverheels or Ashley Callingbull.

Then I thought of the pastry called a bear claw, which in turn made me think of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s sprawling epic track, “Albuquerque”, which is where the subject line comes from.

Then I started to wonder… is he talking about this guy?
2016 TSR #266 - Kyle Barraclough
When I got home, I looked him up on baseball-reference.com, and they list the pronunciation of Barraclough as \ bear-claw \. Okey dokes.

For those not familiar with Barraclough, he’s a reliever who’s 6-2, 2.90 this year with 27 walks and 66 K’s in 40.1 innings pitched.

I’m still rolling out the all-star cards, here’s Manny Machado… who I just remembered was featured in Friday’s post, so I hope I’m not achieving a level of Machado saturation.
2016 TSR #354 - Manny Machado All-Star

Next up is a “First Pitch” card… I’ve developed something of a backlog of “Celebrity First Pitch” cards, so I think you can expect one in every pack for the near future.

Today’s first pitch card features Elena Delle Donne of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
2016 TSR CFP-4 Elena Delle Donne
(Don’t tell the Cubs fans that she threw out the first pitch at a White Sox game last September).

…But she’s got a dog named “Wrigley”, so maybe the Chisox just asked first.

As is the rule for any athletes who show up on one of my First Pitch customs, they also get a custom showing them in their “day job”. Because I only have the one basketball template, Delle Donne gets a custom in the style of 1957-58 Topps Basketball.
2016 TSRchives 57BK-1 Elena Delle Donne
Delle Donne is the reigning WNBA MVP and was recently named the WNBA Eastern Division player of the week for the 11th time in her 4 year career.

Next up is a custom of Jumbo Diaz… Just because I felt that Jumbo Diaz should have a custom.
2016 TSR #302 - Jumbo Diaz

Wrapping up, we’ve got Mets prospect Dominic Smith, who played in the Futures Game two weeks ago. Smith is currently playing for the AA Binghamton Mets, where he already has 70 RBI.
2016 TSR #341 - Dominic Smith Futures Game
Last year, Smith was the Florida State League MVP, and before this season he was ranked by Baseball America as the 79th best prospect in all of baseball.

…and, of course, he was named to the USA team in the 2016 Futures Game.

So that’s it until next Sunday… in the meantime I’ll be thinking about how I can do that rack pack.

Quality Assortment: Sucked In By The Changing Of The Guard

On Wednesday evening I was at Target looking for a couple of items which were on sale. The card aisle was not explicitly part of my plans, but I checked to see if there’s anything new out that I’d missed.

There was something new… sort of. They had hanging packs of Topps Series 2 which came with a bonus “Changing Of The Guard” cards on the front. After poking through the different packs they had, I found one that would fit in my collection.
2016 Topps Changing Of The Guard Manny Machado
It’s not a particularly attractive card, but as impulse buys go, I’ve done a lot worse.

By the way, the Topps logo and the Oriole bird logo is in gold foil which scans dark.  The gold foil bird against a dark background looks kind of odd, to be honest.

Other players in this set are Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Bryce Haper, Buster Posey, Carlos Correa, Kyle Schwarber, Giancarlo Stanton, Madison Bumgarner and Jose Fernandez.

As a Mets fan, I wish to complain… No deGrom, Syndergaard or Harvey? Topps missed out on an opportunity to sell me more Series 2 packs (and dudes, I seriously don’t know whether I’ll buy more 2016 Topps, unless it comes out of a dime box).

I also wish to complain about the inclusion of Buster Posey. He’s 29, was the Rookie of the Year 6 years ago, the MVP 4 years ago, how is that “Changing Of The Guard”? He already is ‘The Guard’.

OK, enough about the Changing Of The Guard.  The rest of my assortment is made up of recent acquisitions from COMC.

First we shall cleanse the pallet with a fine 1965 vintage…
1965 Topps Bill McCool
The official reason I got this card was to further my collection of cards featuring the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy.  The unofficial reason was CHEAP 1965!  …And honestly, what else do you need?

As a 19-year-old in 1964, McCool pitched mostly in relief, had 7 saves, a 2.42 ERA and a 1.063 WHIP. He was also named by The Sporting News as the N.L. Rookie Pitcher of the Year.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Billy McCool is related to 1960’s cartoon secret agent Cool McCool.

Speaking of cartoons, here’s the back of McCool’s card:
1965 Topps Bill McCool back

Moving about 40 years into the future, here’s a lovely 2004 MLB Showdown card of Bartolo Colon. This card reflects Colon’s one year with the White Sox (take note, anyone working on a “Short-Term White Sox” post), but in 2004 he would win 18 games for the Angels, and then the Cy Young in 2005.
2004 MLB Showdown Bartolo Colon

Wrapping things up, I got a cheap Mets signature, but one of special interest to Mets fans. Collin Cowgill only appeared in 23 games for the Mets and batted below the Mendoza Line. So what makes this card of special interest?
2013 Topps Chasing History Autographs Collin Cowgill
It’s special because this appears to be one of only two cards which pictures Cowgill with the Mets… and the other one is another 2013 Topps “Chasing History” autograph card.  This one commemorates Cowgill not making an error in his first 60+ games as a Major Leaguer… The other one commemorates his becoming the first Met to hit a grand slam on opening day in his first day with the team.

I feel like I should have some sort of ending to wrap things up, but I’m only coming up with one….

The End.

I Get All Of My Dinosaurs From COMC!

…Well, I get my 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs from COMC… because I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else.

Like a lot of kids, I was fascinated by dinosaurs… I’m not sure how many other kids were like me and wanted to be an archaeologist when they grew up, though.  So when I read the series of posts on Nachos Grande where he opened a box of 2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs, I was excited.  I would’ve freaked out about this set if it came out when I was a kid.

I wanted some of my own… but could not find packs or boxes anywhere.  It didn’t get sold in retail stores.  I didn’t see it in the couple of hobby stores I went into.  I even tried a science museum… Yes, a SCIENCE MUSEUM.  No luck at all.

Since I don’t feel the need to collect the whole set, I figured I’d get my fix by buying a couple of cards from COMC, and I focused on some of the dinosaurs I knew from childhood (as opposed to some of the one’s I’d not heard of like Spinophorosaurus or Compsognathus).

…Although even if I wasn’t familiar with Allosaurus, I would’ve gotten this card. This is easily my favorite of all the cards I’ve seen so far.
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Allosaurus

The back of the cards features the same image, with some write-up text.
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Allosaurus back

I also got the Stegosaurus card…
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Stegosaurus

…as well as the Ankylosaurus. All three of these are dinosaurs that I used to have as small, brightly-colored figures when I was a kid.
2015 Upper Deck Dinosaurs Ankylosaurus

Because it’s a 21st century card set, there are short prints, sketch cards, minis, 3-D cards and other inserts, but right now all I have is these three base cards.

Does anyone else enjoy these cards? Has anyone found individual packs for sale anywhere, even if it was a card store?

Short-Term Orioles: Reviving (Kinda) A “Dime Box” Favorite

It’s been nearly a year since Nick over at “Dime Boxes” did one of his “Short-Term Stop” posts. I enjoyed the series, and I suppose Nick might get back to it someday, but right now he’s in semi-retirement so I felt inspired to take up the cause, at least this one time.

There’s one significant difference between this post and Nick’s posts… He made up a lineup of short-term players, while I’m just making a list of notable players who spent one season or a part of one season with the Orioles. The following players are ranked from the most games to the fewest games.

Nelson Cruz, 2014, 159 games
Came: Free agent (from Texas), February, 2014
Went: Free agent (to Seattle), December, 2014
Featured card: 2014 Topps Chrome
2014 Topps Chrome Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz is one of two players on this list to have been an All-Star while with the Orioles. He also lead the Majors with 40 homers. Cruz was signed to a one-year contract just as Spring Training was gearing up, but played himself out of the Orioles’ price range for the following season.

Harold Reynolds, 1993, 145 games
Came: Free agent (from Seattle), December, 1992
Went: Free agent (to San Diego), January, 1994
Featured card: 1993 Topps Stadium Club
1993 Stadium Club Harold Reynolds
Most people know Reynolds as a broadcaster, but he played 12 seasons as a second baseman. In 1993, he formed a double-play combo with Cal Ripken (turning 110 over the course of the season) and played in 141 games at second. Although he signed with the Padres for 1994, he was traded to the Angels during Spring Training and spent his last MLB season there.

Vladimir Guerrero, 2011, 145 games
Came: Free agent (from Texas), February, 2011
Went: Free agent (to Toronto), May 2012 (but he never played for them)
Featured card: 2012 Topps Heritage
2012 Topps Heritage Vladimir Guerrero
Guerrero was like Nelson Cruz, a “He’s still out of work, let’s see if he’ll take our offer” free agent. Vlad was coming off an All-Star season where he hit 29 homers, 115 RBI, batted .300 and won a Silver Slugger. Although his average with the O’s didn’t fall off much, his hit only 13 homers (while playing home games in Camden Yards, I may remind you). Toronto gave him a chance the following season, but he never played another MLB game after the Orioles.

Reggie Jackson, 1976, 134 games
Came: Trade with Oakland, April, 1976
Went: Free agent (to N.Y. Yankees), November, 1976
Featured card: 1988 Score
1988 Score Reggie Jackson 1976
I’m sure that many of you thought of Reggie as soon as you saw the subject line. The two principals in the April trade were players in their walk years… Reggie and Don Baylor. The Orioles also got Ken Holtzman – another short-term Oriole who would pitch 13 games before being involved in a 10-payer trade that June – and a minor leaguer, while the A’s got Baylor, Paul Mitchell and Mike Torrez.

Reggie was NOT an All-Star with the Orioles. It was the only season from 1971 to 1984 where he was not so honored. He did lead the league in slugging percentage (.502) and finished 16th in A.L. MVP voting.

Sammy Sosa, 2005, 102 games
Came: Traded with Cubs, February, 2005
Went: Unemployment
Featured card: 2005 Topps Total
2005 Topps Total Sammy Sosa

One of these days I’m going to write about all the players I regard with disdain, and Sosa will be on that list. Not high on the list, but he’s there. The best I can say about him is that the Orioles didn’t give up much for him (Jerry Hairston, Mike Fontenot and Dave Crouthers). With the Orioles he batted .221 and hit 14 homers, had a -1.0 WAR and earned a special place with Orioles fans.

After the season he got some offers, but he refused to take a minor league contract so he went unsigned. He made a comeback with the Rangers in 2007, hit 21 homers and made it past 600 career homers. Yay.

Dwight Evans, 1991, 101 games
Came: Signed as free agent after his release by the Red Sox, December, 1990
Went: Released, March, 1992
Featured card: 1991 Bowman
1991 Bowman Dwight Evans
Dwight Evans looks freakin’ WEIRD in an Orioles uniform.

After 19 seasons, 8 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, 3 All-Star teams and two World Series with the Red Sox, he was released after the 1990 season. The Orioles picked him up and he played right field and DH in 1991, batting .270 but only 35 runs and 38 RBI. He was back with the team the following spring, but was released halfway through Spring Training and would not play with another team.

Joe Carter, 1998, 85 games
Came: Free agent (from Toronto), December, 1997
Went: Traded to San Francisco, July, 1998
Featured card: 1998 Score Rookie and Traded
1998 Score Rookie & Traded Joe Carter
I don’t mean to diss Joe Carter, but this is getting repetitive. Slugger in his late thirties with declining power numbers. He was traded to the Giants mid-season for Darin Blood, a pitcher who got derailed by injuries and peaked in AAA (but made it on a few Bowman cards).

After his stint with the Giants, Joe Carter retired.

Lee Smith, 1994, 41 games
Came: Free Agent (from N.Y. Yankees), January, 1994
Went: Free Agent (to California), December, 1994
Featured card: 1994 Topps Traded
1994 Topps Lee Smith
Finally, a break from aging sluggers! Lee Smith is the other Short-term Oriole All-Star. He lead the Majors with 33 saves while only pitching 38.1 innings and had a 1.174 WHIP. Smith had been the career saves leader until he was passed by Trevor Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Lee Smith blew a save in the All-Star game, giving up 2 runs in the 9th as the National League tied up the game and then won in the 10th.

David Wells, 1996, 34 games
Came: Trade with Reds, December, 1995
Went: Free agent (to N.Y. Yankees), December, 1996
Featured card: 1996 Fleer Baltimore Orioles “Team Set”
1996 Fleer Orioles Team Set David Wells
This card is from a glossy Orioles team set issued by Fleer in 1996, so it’s sort of a glossy parallel. Sort of.

Wells went 11-14 with a 5.14 ERA. His 2.046 walks per 9 innings was the second-best in the league, and he finished 8th in the league in WHIP. His 20 win season and perfect game were still a couple of years away.

Fernando Valenzuela, 1993, 32 games
Came: Free Agent (from Mexico), February, 1993
Went: Free Agent (eventually signing with Phillies), October, 1993
Featured card: 1993 Upper Deck
1993 Upper Deck Fernando Valenzuela
Fernandomania did not sweep Baltimore. The former Cy Young winner went 8-10 with a 4.94 ERA, but pitched 5 complete games and was the July pitcher of the month after going 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA and 2 CG’s.

Jim Thome, 2012, 28 games
Came: Trade with Phillies, June, 2012
Went: Free Agency leading to retirement, October, 2012
Featured card: 2012 TSR Custom in the style of 1979 Topps
1979 Jim Thome
I don’t think there were any cards that showed Jim Thome with the O’s, other than customs (like mine from 4 years ago). Thome hit his final 3 homers with the O’s, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say he was a good influence in the clubhouse. I’m frankly surprised he’s not a coach somewhere. Thome will be inducted into the Indians Hall Of Fame later this month.

Andrew Miller, 2014, 23 games
Came: Trade with Red Sox, July, 2014
Went: Free Agent (to N.Y. Yankees), October, 2014
Featured card: 2014 TSR
Miller’s time with the Birds fell towards the end of his four-year absence from Topps products (2011 – 2014). Fortunately, an enterprising custom card maker was there to fill in the slack:
2014 TSR #559 Andrew Miller
You know how many saves Miller had with the Orioles? Just one… He wasn’t the closer. He did have a 1.35 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and pitched 7.1 scoreless innings in the postseason. I was sorry to see him go, but I can’t blame him for going for the big bucks.

Jose Bautista, 2004, 16 games
Came: Rule V Draft from Pittsburgh, December, 2003
Went: Waivers to Tampa Bay, June 2004
(I don’t have a card of Bautista with the O’s)
During the 2004 season, Bautista went from the O’s to the Rays to the Royals to the Mets and then back to the Pirates. It would be a few years before he’d become a regular, and a few more years before he became a feared slugger.

“Joey Bats” wasn’t the first Jose Bautista to play for the Orioles; there was a pitcher in the  late1980’s and 1990’s.

Lou Piniella, 1964, 4 games
Came: Trade with Washington, August, 1964
Went: Trade with Indians, March 1966
Lou Piniella didn’t appear on cardboard with the Orioles, which is not surprising since he was a 20-year-old who had just one at-bat and never played in the field. In his one at-bat, he pinch-hit for pitcher Robin Roberts, grounded out, and was replaced in the lineup by the relief pitcher Chuck Estrada. His other three games had him inserted as a pinch runner, but he never scored and was quickly replaced in each game. He would not get another cup of coffee until 1968. That fall, he was taken by the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft, the Pilots traded him to Kansas City on April 1st… and Piniella was the Rookie of the Year with the Royals.

Tim Raines, 2001, 4 games
Came: Sold by Expos, October 3, 2001
Went: Free Agent, November, 2001
There is a card or two of Raines with the Orioles, but I don’t have one. Raines was with the O’s for one reason: To finish out the few games left in the season playing with his son, Tim Raines Jr., something he did get to do.

Special Bonus Player
This last guy gets a special mention, even though he never actually played for the Orioles… But he had been the team’s #1 draft pick in 1997, was a top catching prospect and has athletic bloodlines. Here’s the photo from the back of his 1998 Bowman card.
1998 Bowman Jayson Werth back detail
Can you guess who this clean-cut, bespectacled young catcher is?

Believe it or not, it’s “Captain Caveman”.

2015 Topps Heritage Jayson Werth

Here’s the front of that Bowman card.
1998 Bowman Jayson Werth
Yep, Jayson Werth was supposed to be the Orioles’ next big thing behind the plate. When it didn’t work out that way, the O’s sent him to Toronto for middle reliever John Bale. The Blue Jays had read the back of his Bowman card — “Could handle outfield if Orioles choose to move him” — and the rest is history. To be fair, he really didn’t become a standout player until much later.

I could’ve mentioned a few other players, but this post is already longer than I’d intended.

I’m not sure I’ll do another one of these “Short-term” posts, but if you like the idea, it’s pretty easy to do one for your own team.  If you go to baseball-reference.com, pull up your team, go to the “franchise encyclopedia” and then go to each of the links in the “Players:  batting / pitching” heading.   One of the columns on the left is “Yrs.”, which is the number of years with the team.  Click on the header to sort, and you’ll have all of your one-year players grouped together.

2016 TSR: Series Three Already? Where Has The Time Gone?

Yesterday morning, before I got out of bed, I was wondering if I should make the next “pack” of custom cards be for Series Three, given that it will have All-Stars and such.  I was thinking it was too early, but then I realized that it’s halfway through the season and we should be halfway through the four series.  My half-awake brain wasn’t convinced, so I worked out the six-week periods that each series should be out in virtual stores….  Series One is opening day to mid-May, Series Two is mid-May to….the beginning of July.  I’m actually a little late.  Then again, Series Two was a little late,so I guess I’m OK.

Anyway, welcome to Series Three.
2016 TSR Series Three wrapper
Let’s tear in.

The Rockies are 6 games under .500 and 6 games out of a wild card spot. I’ve heard rumors that Walt Weiss is on the hot seat.
2016 TSR MC-4 Walt Weiss
Walt’s expression seems to have an element of “I’m too old for this crap” to it.  As I’ve said before, I like photos of managers that involve more than just standing in the dugout, even if involves “I’m too old for this crap”.

Walt’s first name reminds me of something I’ve been pondering lately:  All of the names that I grew up with and which have fallen out of favor. Walter is one. I had a couple of Walt’s in my class. How many kids do you know named Walter? Karen? Gary? Linda? Bruce? Nancy? I know a bunch of women named Nancy, the youngest is in her early 40’s.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just a thing… An observation of how things change.


For those of you who missed it… Drew Pomeranz had a great first half with the Padres, he made the All-Star team, he was cheered by the hometown fans… and what nobody realized at the time is that the All-Star game was his swan song with the Padres; He was traded to Boston before the All-Star break ended. Something about that story made me think that a 1976 Topps Traded custom was in order.
2016 TSRchives 76T-7 Drew Pomeranz
I’m almost positive I’ve heard this kind of story before, where a player’s last (or maybe first) appearance with a team was at the All-Star game. Can anybody think of another player like that?  I have a feeling that the answer is going to be facepalmingly obvious.

Just to add a little element of… something… to the Drew Pomeranz thing:  Since the AL was the home team in an NL park (because the NL is hosting the game several years in a row), the Padres were wearing a one-off grey version of their home uniform.  So Pomeranz’ last appearance in a Padres uniform had him wearing a Padres uniform he’d never worn before.  Fun stuff, right?

While watching the player introductions at the All-Star game, I was mildly surprised to see Ian Desmond included.
2016 TSR #301 - Ian Desmond
…Not that he doesn’t deserve it, he’s batting .316 and on a pace to set career highs in a couple of categories. It just surprised me because I hadn’t been aware that he was playing so well. I guess adjusting to playing the outfield and playing in a different league didn’t take a huge toll on his offense.

Speaking of first half performance and All-Stars, here’s a guy I fully realized was an All-Star going in…
2016 TSR #351 - Daniel Murphy All-Star
Any Mets fan will tell you how much Murphy is killing his old team. He’s hit more homers against the Mets this year than he hit against the Nats in his 7 years with the Mets. In 13 games aainst the Mets, Murphy is batting .423 with 7 homers, 21 RBI and an .885 slugging percentage. To help drive home how crazy that is, if you extrapolate that over 162 games he’d have 87 homers, 261 RBI, 137 runs, 274 hits, and 37 doubles. On the plus side, he’d also have no stolen bases and be caught stealing 12 times.

Oh, I should mention that the reason that Ian Desmond’s card didn’t say “2016 All-Star” on it is because the photo wasn’t from the All-Star game.  That was the ground rules I set going into this.  If TSR were a real card company I couldn’t get away with a rule like that just for sheer logistical reasons, but since I won’t be making an All-Star card for EVERYBODY, then that’s the way it goes.

This photo doesn’t capture the shininess, but Matt Wieters was wearing chrome-y shinguards… Shinguards that were so shiny they were like mirrors.
2016 TSR #352 - Matt Wieters All-Star
I wonder if they were refractors…

The Mets had three representatives at the game… and none of them played. Noah Syndergaard wasn’t going to pitch anyway because of concerns about his arm. Terry Collins said he was holding Colon back for a potential extra-innings long-relief session, and Jeurys Familia in hopes of getting a save. Didn’t quite work out that way.
2016 TSR #357 - Familia Syndergaard Colon All-Star
But I wanted to get them on a card, even if it was all three of them.  This image reminds us that “Thor” has a full 7 inches on “Big Sexy”.

The first pitch was thrown by Randy Jones, which I thought was cool. In 1975 and 1976, Jones was a dominant pitcher, winning 20 and 22 games, leading the league in K’s in 1975, winning the Cy Young in 1976 and finishing second to Tom Seaver in 1975 Cy Young voting.
2016 TSR CFP-9 Randy Jones
…And I just realized that when I swapped out the border on this card (going to the “First Pitch” border with more white space at the top), I inadvertently cropped out the baseball… You can just barely see it under the word “GAME”.


The Angels are in the middle of a “1970’s Weekend”, which means late 1970’s throwbacks for them… but sadly, no late 1970’s throwbacks for the visiting White Sox. Well, maybe it’s not “sadly”, I’ve always hated that “leisure suit” uniform they wore, no matter how iconic they’ve become. I set out to make a series of customs out of the two games so far, but I won’t use any photos that involve batting, because the Angels are wearing their red helmets with their throwbacks and it ruins the effect.  That limits me to photos of the Angels either in the dugout or out on the field, and for now, we’ll get a candid shot of Ji-Man Choi, done up 1978 style.
2016 TSRchives 78T-3 Ji-Man Choi
For some reason, when Majestic does throwback pullovers, they ALWAYS get the collar wrong. This collar is too wide, and the red stripe is WAY too wide. Other than that, it’s a pretty good job.

This is a fun time of year to make customs… All of the All-Star festivities, plus players getting traded before the July 31’s deadline. I’ll be back with more next Sunday!

Four Vintage All-Star Rookies

Brian over at Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary has had a series of posts about the Topps All-Star Rookie Team as highligted on cards from 1960 to 1970 (so far). So inspired was I by these posts that I went out and bought a bunch of 1960’s All-Star Rookie cards during my recent COMC binge.

Rather than get into their rookie seasons and general career trajectory, I’ll just list some interesting facts about each player.

1961 Topps Tony Curry
Tony Curry was the second-ever Major Leaguer from the Bahamas (there have been six to date, with Antoan Richardson being the most recent). He played 95 games for the Phillies in 1960, but only 15 in 1961 and 19 in 1966 with Cleveland.

1962 Topps Charlie Smith
Charley Smith was already something of a journeyman by the time this card came out.  He broke in with the Dodgers in 1960, was traded to the Phillies in May, 1961 and, as the front of his card indicates, was traded in late 1961 to the White Sox.  This is his rookie card.

Here’s a notable fact for you:  Smith was traded to the Yankees straight-up for Roger Maris.  This happened late in 1966.  Yankee fans were not happy about the trade.  Smith also played with the Cardinals (who got Maris) and the Mets.

1966 Topps Marcelino Lopez

It’s a little hard to read the white letters against lavender, but this is Marcelino Lopez.  Lopez was a Cuban who debuted with the Phillies in 1963, at the tender young age of 19… but he didn’t establish himself until 1965 with the Angels.  That year Lopez went 14-13 with a 2.93 ERA and finished second to Curt Blefary in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.  He’d stick around with the Orioles, Brewers and Indians until 1972.

1968 Topps Tim Cullen

Tim Cullen was involved in an interesting pair of transactions in 1968.  That February, he was involved in a six-player trade that sent him from the Senators to the White Sox.  That August, he was traded back to the Senators for Ron Hansen, another player involved in that same February trade.  Aside from the Senators and White Sox, he also played for the A’s at the end of his MLB career.

Now that the initial wave of enthusiasm has subsided, I’m not quite as gung ho about collecting all of these All-Star-Rookie-trophy-bearing cards, but I would like to get more.  I’d currently rate this level of want as “An excuse to get more vintage commons”.

…and I do have more of these to share, but they’ll wait for another day.


On Wednesday, I featured an “April Fools” Mike Piazza card from Sports Illustrated For Kids. Here it is again:

1999 SI for Kids Series 4 Mike Piazza

There was enough interest in knowing what other cards were featured in that April, 1999 issue that I did a little digging and found all 9 cards April Fools’ Day cards on that issue’s sheet:

784 – Piazza wearing goalie equipment
785 – David Robinson dunking a soccer ball
786 – Michelle Kwan with inline skates
787 – Sheryl Swoopes in Wonderland (giant ball)
788 – John Elway throwing Cream Pies
789 – Pete Sampras playing with a ping pong paddle
790 – Mark McGwire playing for the Cubs
791 – Jerry Rice juggling footballs
792 – Paul Kariya with real ducks

“Piazzas A’Plenty” …or… “There’s Something Fishy Here”

I suppose “Plenty” isn’t quite the right word, since I’m only showcasing three cards…but dammit, man! There’s alliteration at stake here!

For those who didn’t know, Hall-Of-Famer Mike Piazza was a Florida Marlin for about a week. In a trade designed to help the Marlins in their 1998 Fire Sale – and how sad is it that just saying “Marlins Fire Sale” isn’t specific enough? – the fish traded Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios (who’s MLB career ended up being 6.2 innings pitched) to the Dodgers for Piazza and Todd Zeile. Piazza was in his walk year, so the Marlins figured on either flipping Piazza for prospects or letting him walk.

Piazza’s days with the Marlins did get immortalized on cardboard, and I recently realized that I didn’t have any of those cards, so I took steps to rectify that situation.

First up is a 1998 Upper Deck card; this one is a variation that’s actually numbered as card #681a.
1998 Upper Deck 681a Mike Piazza
Card #681 without the “a” showed Piazza with the Mets. He also had a card in Series 1 which showed him with the Dodgers.

Here’s the back of the UD card:
1998 Upper Deck 681a Mike Piazza back

Like Upper Deck, Fleer Tradition also featured Piazza with all three teams he played for that season. Unlike UD, all three were base cards.
1998 Fleer Mike Piazza
There are other cards featuring Piazza with the Marlins, but I think I’m good with these two.
1998 Fleer Mike Piazza back

After his week with the Marlins, Piazza did get traded for prospects… The Mets gave up their #1 pick (6th overall) from 1977 (Geoff Goetz), an outfield prospect (and Mookie Wilson’s stepson) in Preston Wilson, and pitcher Ed Yarnall. Preston Wilson easily had the best career of the three, playing 10 years and leading the NL in RBI in 2003 (while with the Rockies).  Goetz, possibly the best prospect of the three, never made it past AA.

I recently got another card of Piazza, and while it doesn’t show him with the Marlins, there is something fishy about it… It might help to know that this came from the April, 1999 issue of Sports Illustrated For Kids.
1999 SI for Kids Series 4 Mike Piazza

The back of the card comes clean about April Fools Day, and explains that in all his flying between L.A., Miami and New York the previous year, Piazza’s luggage got mixed up with that of hockey goalie Dominik Hasek.
1999 SI for Kids Series 4 Mike Piazza back
…But there’s no mention of how Hasek did wearing Piazza’s catcher gear, not did Hasek appear to get his own card.