Your Weekly Pack Of “2021 TSR Daily”

By now, many of you are familiar with my set of custom cards I call 2021 TSR Daily (because I Tweet out a custom each day #2021TSRDaily ), I decided to compile the “checklist” as if I were creating a real set which would represent the best eight-or-so players from each team.

I’ll admit, I’m rushing through this post a bit because I don’t have a lot of time to to do it…

Mark Canha lead the 2020 Athletics in Runs (32), Hits (47), Doubles (12), Triples (2), Walks (37) and Average (.246).

During his monster 2017 Rookie-of-the-Year season Aaron Judge lead the league in home runs, RBI, runs, walks… and strikeouts.

By the way, it’s a darn shame that (as of the morning of April 19th) the Yankees have the worst record in the American League. Yep, a real shame.

(I’m a fan of the Mets and Orioles, I have to get my jollies where I can… no matter how short-lived it might be)

Ke’Bryan Hayes, one of the top prospects in baseball, finished 6th in last year’s ROY voting and is still eligible this year.

Oh, look, it’s an insert! This is from the “Shlabotnik’s Picks” insert set. Since the “base set” is being done as if this were a real, commercial set which fairly represents each of the 30 teams, I wanted to have another set where I could feature whomever I wanted to feature. For this one, I’m giving a custom to Jay Bruce, who announced his retirement over the weekend. Even though I still think of him as a Red, I gained an appreciation for him during his time with the Mets, and I wish him well in the next phase of his career.

Former 1st round pick, Rookie of the Year and MVP Buster Posey is back behind the plate after sitting out the 2020 season.

Another insert… if you want to call it that… or a variation… or a subset… or whatever.  There will be probably end up being a number of customs of this mysterious player named Joe Shlabotnik, who seems to be with a different team every time we see him.

Last year Trea Turner lead the Majors with 78 hits and lead the NL with 4 triples. He also got some MVP votes, finishing 7th.

Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart won a Gold Glove in 2020 (At the time I Tweeted this, he lead Cincinnati in slugging percentage, but that’s no longer the case… as if any of that matters in mid-April)

Former 1st round draft pick Evan White won a Gold Glove in 2020

And I’ll wrap up with on more insert. Infielder Sean Kazmar (who often got confused for pitcher Scott Kazmir) made his Major League debut with the Padres in August of 2008. After spending the rest of that season with the Padres, he spent 11 seasons in Triple-A, including 7 seasons with the Braves Triple-A team in Gwinnett, GA, before making it back to the Majors and pinch-hitting this past Saturday. I love to see that kind of perseverance get rewarded.

And that’s the pack for this week.  I hope some of you are having better luck than I’ve had in finding reasonably-priced wax packs.

Cards From My “I Just Like It” Binder

I’ve been pulling out some of my binders to see whether or not the cards in it “spark any joy”… if they’re worth keeping in binders or keeping at all.  Well, today’s cards most definitely spark joy in me.  All of today’s cards are ones which fall into a binder that doesn’t really have a name, but you could call it my “I just like it” binder or probably more accurately, my “I love this card but I don’t know what else to do with it so I’ll just stick it in this binder” binder.

This first card comes from a 1992 Score insert set called “The Franchise”.  The inserts featured Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski and Mickey Mantle.  Now I have been completely over the Mickey Mantle hype for many a year, but I’ve always liked this card.

I think what I like about it is that it’s a nice picture, but it’s also a picture of a ballplayer who happens to be Mickey Mantle.  There’s not the usual sun-shining-out-of-his-you-know glorification of Mickey Mantle… Just a nice-looking card of a player who’s just hit the ball.

This next card is interesting especially given that Topps and Sports Illustrated have gotten together to make an on-demand card set featuring SI covers.  This particular card is also of interest to me because I had – or possibly still have? – this 1974 issue of SI… which was fairly unusual for me because I’ve never been a huge SI guy.

This cover is from the 1974 World Series, which pitted the A’s and the Dodgers and was the first time that two California teams faced each other in the Fall Classic.

I was going to say that I’d expect Topps to feature this cover, but I don’t know if they’d want to pay royalties to the 5 players depicted… or 6, if you need to pay to show that one player’s butt.

This 1991 Stadium Club card of Shane Mack is just a beautiful card.  That’s all I have to say about this one.

Kids, back in the early 1990’s when you bought a box of Ultra-Pro 9-pocket sheets, you got a promo card!  This one features Reds’ 1st baseman Hal Morris ready for a game of tennis!

The back of the card proclaims that this card is part of a limited edition of 250,000.  Yep, those were the days.

ProCards minor league cards were on think stock and often cheesy, but you had to love it when they had unusual shots like this one of Joel McKeon with a TV camera

When people discuss baseball cards featuring players holding baseball cards, you don’t often see this 1999 Upper Deck card of Brewers pitcher Scott Karl about to sign his 1998 UD Collector’s Choice card.

OK, I need to move on with my day. I’ll be back with more cards from this binder at some point.

State Of The Streamlining? Purge? De-cluttering? (Weigh-In #69)

I’ve actively collected baseball cards every year since 1974 when I was a wee Shlabotnik.  There have been years I went nuts buying cards, there have been years where I cut way back on my acquisitions, but needless to say there’s never been a year like the one just passed.

For me it was sometimes hard but it wasn’t completely bad.  The sudden downturn in incoming cards allowed for the opportunity to look around my cluttered mess of a mancave and think about what I’m trying to do and where I’m going.

For the nine year’s I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve stated that I want to reduce the size of my collection.  Thing is, I’ve never had a straightforward plan for how to do that.  I’ll admit I envy those people who can make wholesale changes along the lines of “I’m going to get rid of everything but ________” or maybe “I’m ditching anything that was issued after I hit puberty”.

I do have some bits of strategy, though.

One thing I’ve decided on is that I’m sticking with the amount of shelf space that I currently have, and I’m not going to get any more binders than won’t fit in that space.  I can upgrade bindes or change binder size, but I can’t go on just adding binders.  There are binders I haven’t pulled out in years, and what’s the point of having binders if you never look at them?

I’ve also been pulling out some of those binders and realizing that “Hey, I haven’t looked at these binders in years and I didn’t miss a lot of these cards”.

I’ve also started using a variation on a decluttering technique.  They say that instead of going through your clothes in your closet and then going through the clothes in each drawer that you should instead pull all of your clothes out and then put them back, because that’s the only way you’ll realize that you have 527 concert t-shirts (or whatever).

I’ve discovered the same is true for card sets.  I might look at my 1991 Upper Deck cards and say “Well, I don’t collect Wade Boggs but the dude’s a HOFer so I’ll keep the card where it is”, and then later I look at 1991 Bowman and 1991 Leaf and 1991 Stadium Club and say the same thing each time.  It’s only when I pull out all of my 1991 cards and go through them as a whole that I realize “Holy crap, I’ve got seventeen 1991 cards of a guy I don’t collect!”

I’m doing this with a couple of years so far, most recently with 1991 (341 cards removed so far) and 2005 (721 after the first pass).  Not earth-shattering, but it does help me get rid of cards where I wouldn’t otherwise realize the redundancy in my collection.

So that’s what I’ve been doing… As for *how* I’ve been doing, let’s get into the “Weigh-In” numbers for the 4th quarter of 2020.  To visually spice things up I’ve added in some random cards I got at my last card show which, sadly, was a year ago this month.

So let’s kick things off as usual with my mission statement:  Posting updates on the organizing and streamlining of my collection gives me a look at the big picture, keeps me honest and helps with motivation and/or guilt.

Changes since the last weigh-in (from 10/11/2020 to 1/5/2021):
Net change in the collection: -11 (779 added, 790 removed)
Net change to the # of cards in the house: +684 (777 in, 93 out)

Having my collection reduced by 11 cards might not seem like much to you, but this was exciting to me. It’s the first time this number has gone down in a while.

Year-end numbers for 2020:
Net change in the collection: +279 (1,905 added, 1,626 removed)
Net change to the # of cards in the house: +2,113 (2475 in, 362 out)

My “In/out of the house” numbers are stunted because it’s only showing cards sent out in trades and junk wax cards which have gone into the recycling. I normally give away cards at Halloween, but that didn’t happen this year. I didn’t send any cards to COMC because they suspended the cheap procesing option I normally use (I don’t sell many big $$$ cards). I also haven’t dropped any cards off at Goodwill because I just haven’t.

Totals since I started tracking on 10/16/2011:
Total # of cards purged from the collection, to date: 14,929
Net change to the collection, to date: +6,357

Total # of cards which have left the house, to date: 52,946
Net change to the number of cards in the house, to date: -13,161

Size of the collection:
Number of individual cards tracked in my Access database: 71,003
Number of cards that make up the sets flagged as completed in my Access database: 12,491

…which means I’ve got at least 83,494 cards in my collection

Money spent on cards:
This quarter (does not count money spent on show admission, shipping, supplies, etc): $66.54

This quarter’s spending consisted of a 2020 Topps Factory set and a handful of retail packs. Almost all of my hobby time has been spent organizing.

Average per month for 2020: $76.66
Average per month for 2019: $80.38
Average per month for 2018: $79.03
Average per month for 2017: $43.63
Average per month for 2016: $36.11

I didn’t track my spending before 2016.  The spending for the first two years is lower because there weren’t any card shows local to me at that time.

One thing that’s very telling about my spending this year… I spent more in the first quarter ($271.71 spent at two card shows and on still-available retail) than I did the whole rest of the year ($188.23)

Size of my MS Access card database:
I track my collection in a Microsoft Access database of my own creation. There’s quite a bit of work involved in keeping it up-to-date, so I like to satisfy my own curiosity by finding out how much information is currently in my database.

My database currently contains 981 set definitions (up 14 from the last weigh-in) and 244,564 card definitions (up 3,316 from the last weigh-in).

It’s important to point out that this is merely the number of sets and cards which are represented within my database; for example, although I have no cards from 1949 Bowman, that set represents 1 set definition and 240 card definitions.

Getting It Together: Cards from Dimebox Nick

I’m reaching the point where I have so many sins against me that I can only go so far in blaming them all on 2020.  Yes, my tendency to compartmentalize things has helped this year when taking it one day at a time is a positive trait, but in my case that’s also morphed into a bad case of “out of sight, out of mind”.

While organizing some scans in an attempt to get my ducks in a row,  I ran across a number of scans I’d meant to write about months ago, including a bunch of cards that were sent to me by Nick of the legendary Dime Boxes blog.

I don’t want to spend too much time on my mea culpa, so I’ll get right into the cards.

I thought that Nick sent me two of the same card by mistake, but instead it’s a Gypsy Queen card of Chance Sisco and its parallel.  I don’t pretend to understand Gypsy Queen.

Even though I got this card in 2020, this Jonathan Villar card was my first glimpse at 2019 Topps Gallery.  I enjoy getting Gallery cards, but I rarely see them anywhere but in trade packages.  I didn’t even bother looking at the shelves of the nearby Walmart this year… in fact, I’m not sure I’ve even seen an image of 2020 Gallery at this point… but anyway…

The art on this particular card is by Dan Bergren, BTW

Sega Card-Gen cards are near the pinnacle of 21st Century Oddballs for me.  This Josh Thole card is just the second one in my collection, and I’m a little insulted that Thole got just one star… not that I know what the star ratings really mean.

For those unfamiliar with these cards, they’re actually Japanese cards made from 2009 to 2013 and I believe they are meant to be used with an arcade game.

I go to far more minor league games than Major League games, and I’ve got a long track record of doing a poor job of scouting players I’ve seen.  Among those I had tabbed for greatness is Tommy Joseph, a one-time Giants catching prospect who was one of the players sent to the Phillies when the Giants acquired Hunter Pence.

Tommy has not played in the Majors since 2017 and is now a minor league free agent first baseman, but I still collect him and still hope he gets back to The Show.

Back in 2008 there was an Indian reality show called “Million Dollar Arm” based on an attempt to find Indian athletes (many of whom grew up playing Cricket) who could be taught to play baseball.  Afterwards, two of these athletes got a professional contract with the Pirates and also ended up on 2009 TriStar Prospect cards.

Dinesh Patel pitched 13.2 innings over two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, but Rinku Singh was able to stick around a while, playing 5 seasons and getting as high as A ball.  More interesting than that, Rinku Singh is currently a wrestler in WWE NXT.

There was a 2014 movie starring John Hamm, also called “Million Dollar Arm”, which is about these efforts to find Indians who can play baseball.

This card of Mike Boddicker is from the 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set…  I’ve got a post or two in the works about some of the cards I have from these Fan Favorites sets, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Years ago when I bought a box of SSPC cards from a dealer at a show, I hadn’t realized that most of the Yankees, Phillies and Orioles had been picked out… so this 1976 SSPC Don Baylor card was welcomed as one I hadn’t picked up yet.  Here’s your bit of useless trivia for the day:  Don is not short for Donald, his legal name is “Don”.

This last card I’m featuring today came with a note from Nick… I can’t find it right now because there have been 5-6 months of disorganization in between, but it said something along the lines of “I thought you might appreciate this card”.  Indeed, it was one of the highlights of the package.

This is a 1969-70 Footballers card put out by a company called A&BC which operated in England under a license from Topps (which is why the design is very similar to 1968 Topps Football). Although I wouldn’t exactly claim to collect British soccer cards, I always enjoy picking up new ones… This one is my 2nd card from this particular set, my 42nd English or Scottish soccer card and the 101st card in my overall soccer collection.

Here’s the back of the card… David Sadler played 11 years for Manchester United, made 4 international appearances for England and made one appearance with the Miami Toros of the old North American Soccer League.

Thank you, once again, Nick! I apologize that it took so long to thank you for these particular cards, but just because I’m late in publicly acknowledging these cards doesn’t mean that they haven’t been enjoyed in the meantime.

 

There Is A Mountain

(I can’t put emojis in a blog, but just imagine that I’m putting a little “musical notes” emoji here… or, if you’re vinyl-y inclined, imagine the sound of the needle being placed on the record)

First there is a mountain…

Then there is no mountain…

Then there is.

So I’m not going to get into details about this because I don’t know what to say other than this:  For thirty years the Angels trained in Palm Springs, California.  Palm Springs is east of Los Angeles, located in the Coachella Valley.  To the west of the Coachella Valley there are mountains.  These mountains make a lovely background for photographs.

Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there!


So I’m packin’ my bags for the Misty Mountains where the spirits go, now… over the hills where the spirits fly…

Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough…

And it wasn’t just Angels who got the mountainous treatment.  (Update:  These cards feature the butte in Tempe, AZ… not Palm Springs, not a mountain.)

MUSICAL REFERENCES FOR THIS POST:

An Attempt At An Overview Of “Sports Illustrated for Kids” Cards

Over the weekend I decided to bring some order to the Sports Illustrated For Kids cards sitting in my “inbox”.  I’ve been on a general drive to organize my horrendous mess of a collection, plus a potential custom card project had me looking at SI Kids cards as a sort of “visual research”, and that made me want to focus on those sets in particular.

I tried Googling for some sort of overview of these cards… what designs went with what years, how the numbering worked, the meaning of the “SERIES” listed on the back of some of the cards.  I came up empty, so I started compiling data in Trading Card Database in order to upload it into my personal database… and after putting a number of hours into this and discovering patterns and finding stumbling blocks, I decided to share what I have.

Now I’ll point out that I am really not the person to be writing a post like this.  I was several years out of college when SI4K (as I’m going to abbreviate it) debuted, so I was never a kid – chronologically, anyway – during the magazine’s 32-years-and-counting run.  I have never bought nor read an issue, at best I’ve flipped through a magazine in a store before putting it back on the shelf… that’s when I could remember whether the store I’m in files this magazine under “Sports Magazines” or “Children’s Magazines”.

Fortunately I got some help on this from @ElCaminoBilly of the Cardboard History blog.  Billy told me he’s been intending to write an overview on these cards but has never had time… but he was gracious enough to share some information.  Thank you, Billy!

So one thing I discovered is that nothing is clear-cut with this long-running line of cards.  Over the 32 years there are a number of designs and borders, a number of “Series”, a number of times that the card numbering started over at 1… but if you break down the nearly 3300 cards by year and those three categories, you’ll get four different breakdowns.

I put the word “Series” in quotes when talking about these cards, because that will get confusing for reasons you’ll see. Instead I’m going to refer to the different designs and to the different “runs” of card numbers (from #1 to… whatever).

When the magazine debuted in January, 1989 it started out with what I think of as “The Very Nineties Design” even though it technically preceded the decade.

They seemed to have this green border for all of 1989 and most of 1990.

Late in 1990 they switched to this red and blue border  and used it for most of the rest of the first run of 324 cards (ending in 1991).

The second run of card numbers started in 1992 with the same basic design but with a different border design.

These are labeled as “SERIES 2” on the back, which make sense because they restarted the numbering without significantly changing the design.

For 1993 the kept the basic design and switched to a pink and blue “lava lamp” border.

Although the borders and some of the “flair” changed over the run of the sets, and there were some special “subsets”, the basic design stayed the same for over 4 years.

Starting with the second issue of 1994 the cards shifted to a brand new design, but the numbering didn’t change and it’s still “SERIES 2”.

Any reason why the design changed at this point is not clear to me, maybe it has something to do with a redesign of the magazine itself… That’s just a guess, though.

In 1995, the design shifted to a gold and silver themed design which was very similar to the previous year’s cards but is a little cleaner, and sort of evoked Olympic medals with the silver and gold fake metallic borders.

Unlike the previous designs, these alternated between silver and gold within the same sheet.

With the shift to a new design, the numbering remained the same but the Series on the back changed to Series 3… for one issue.  They switched back to Series 2 (by mistake?) for another issue, and then shifted permanently to Series 3.

Here’s a image to show that there are many different designs and borders used for cards labeled as “SERIES 2”.

At the beginning of 1998 the card numbering which began in 1992 continued but the design changed and the notation on the back changed to “SERIES 4”.

FYI, this card is part of an April Fools theme for one issue, that’s why Mike Piazza has goaltending equipment.

This design ran through then end of 2000 and finished up this second run of card #’s at 963.

The third run of card numbers started at the beginning of 2001.  The cards also have a new design and a new SI4K logo… I would guess that this is all related.

Starting with these cards, they also seemed to drop any mention of “Series” from the back of the cards, as well as the month and date (i.e. 9/98) of the issue the cards came from.  This makes things a bit of a pain when trying to figure out what year a card is from.

In the middle of 2004 the card numbering continued but the design changed to this:

This design lasted for a year and a half and closed out the 2001 – 2005 run of card numbers (with #540 being the final in this run).

With the last issue of 2005, the fourth run of numbering started and a new card design came in.  Note that the SI4K logo remains the same… for now.

This design lasted just 6 issues which makes it the shortest-lived design of the whole bunch, even when you factor in that the original design changed the border design each year.

In the middle of 2006 this similar white-bordered design started.  Note that the “transparent” SI4K logo is now missing from the front of the card.

You can see in the lower right-hand corner of the back that the magazine’s logo has changed with this design… At this point it appears that the magazine name dropped the word “for” and is just “Sports Illustrated Kids” from this point forward.

With some color variations for the themes of particular issues, this design remained until the end of 2010.  I believe it’s the second most used design

With the start of 2011 came the start of the 5th (and current) run of card numbers, as well as a new design.

Near the end of 2014 they introduced another design without changing the card numbering.  When I started working on this post, I thought this was still the current design:

This design picks up with – I think – Card # 388 and runs through # 898.  This design had the longest run out of any of them, but I can’t say for sure that there are more cards in this design than any others because SI4K has been known to change the design for special issues (i.e. Olympics, Super Bowl) without changing the numbering.

In the final twist of researching this set I was reminded of something I’d discovered a few months ago and had forgotten about:  A new design was introduced early this year… but not with the first issue of this year.  This is another case where they redesigned the magazine logo (and probably the magazine’s layout) and changed the card design as well.  It looks like the magazine also shifted from monthly to bi-monthly (which means fewer cards per year… bummer).

This design looks like something I would make as a custom, and that is, of course, very much a compliment.

AND SO, TO SUMMARIZE MY FINDINGS:

  • There are eleven different primary designs at play, some didn’t last a full year, others ran through a number of years.
  • There are five different runs of card numbers:  1989 – 1991 (324 cards and one design), 1992 – 2000 (963 cards and four designs), 2001 – 2005 (540 cards and two designs), 2006 – 2010 (531 cards and two similar designs) and 2011 – present (currently at 934 cards and three designs).
  • From the perspective of someone currently collecting these cards, the “Series” printed on the back seems to matter only when it comes to distinguishing the first 225 cards of the first numerical run from the first 225 cards of the second numerical run (those cards are largely done with “The Very Nineties design”).  Of course, you can also differentiate them based on the border design.

Looking back on my research, it’s no wonder I couldn’t find an overview of these cards… I spent a number of hours on this researching and refining my post, and I feel like I’m still missing significant parts of the set’s history.

But anyway, there you are.  I hope someone finds this useful.

...AND PLEASE… if you find any mistakes or omissions in this post, let me know.  I will gladly correct any flubs I’ve made.

Gloriously Inept: The 1986 ProCards Tidewater Tides Set

[Behind the scenes during the creation of a 1986 Minor League set]

So, Kyle… What minor league team set are we working on next?

Oh, hey, Greg.  We’re working on… [shuffles papers] Tidewater.  Looks like they’re a Mets farm team.

OK, let’s get the template ready… Where’s the team logo?  I had it here just a minute ago, where did I put that damn thing?  Mets farm team, you said?  Ah, here we are.

Is that Tidewater?

Sure.  It says “Mets”, right?

Yeah, but I thought they were the Tidewater Tides.  Are those palm trees at the bottom?

Ummm…. I guess so.  Well they *are* in Tidewater, so there’s gonna be palm trees.

Where is Tidewater?

Florida, isn’t it?  Maybe near Clearwater?

Maybe.

OK, so who’s the first guy?  Um…. Ronald Gardenhire.

Gardenhire?  That name sounds familiar.  I think I saw a guy named Ron Gardenhire play in the Majors a year or two ago.  I wonder if he’s related to Ronald.

Whatever.  Next guy is David Madigan… no, wait, Magadan.

Man, they like that outfield wall.  Don’t they have anything more interesting than that in their ballpark?

Never mind that.  Who’s next?

Doug Sisk.  Hey, don’t you think we should crop these photos?

This is what the team sent us.  Maybe they wanted it that way.  If they wanted to have a closeup, the photographer would’ve stood closer.  Who’s next?

Terry Blocker.

Now, ya see?  He’s making like he’s catching a ball at the wall.  They *do* want it this way.

I guess…

OK, next up is Sam Perlozzo.

Geez, Greg… I think we should rotate…

KYLE?  What have I told you about thinking?

“We don’t get paid to think”.

THAT’S RIGHT.  OK, what’s this next guy’s name?  Terry Leash?

“Leash”?  I thought it was Leech, like the thing you can get on your legs when you wade into the river.

Naaaaaaah, pretty sure the guy said “Leash” on the phone.

OK, if that’s what he told you, then we’ll go with Terry Leash.

Where’s his info for the back of the card?

I thought you had it.

Aw, crap… Didn’t they send that.  Screw it, just leave the back blank.

OK, c’mon, c’mon, we’re almost done.  Next card is John Gibbons.  See, they moved closer to show the guy crouching

Is that the last card?

Nope, one more… Barry Lyons.

Hey, they do have a ballpark… but why doesn’t the outfield wall here match the other photos?

Let it go, Kyle… let it go.  It’s lunchtime…. You wanna do Mexican?

Yeah, OK.


This minor league set reminded me of the care and effort that went into making the film “Attack of the Eye Creatures” (as riffed on by Mystery Science Theater 3000). I put it to you, dear readers, that when it comes to the creators of this minor league team set:

THEY JUST DIDN’T CARE

Japanese Wax: 2006 BBM Record Makers

This pack (from a set where I believe the full name is 2006 BBM Historic Collection Record Makers) is from a number of packs I bought at The National years ago… this is the next-to-last pack I have from that batch. I’ve been complimented before for my restraint on opening these, but a large part of it has been “out of sight, out of mind”. I’ve bought very few packs in 2020, so the rate of dipping into my reserve has picked up a bit.

Here’s the wrapper…

And the back, which doesn’t have a lot information that your average American can read.

This set is clearly about players who set – or, I suppose, at least tied – records, but as the text of the cards aren’t in English, I can only guess at their records.

This was the first card out of the pack, and I instantly liked the card so much that I knew that whatever I spent on this pack was money well spent. (My memory is crap, I don’t remember how much these packs cost).

Shinichi Etoh (or Eto, depending on how you transliterate) was an 11-time All-Star and a 3-time batting champion who played from 1959 to 1976. He hit 367 career homers and according to Baseball Reference, was the only 20th Century player to win a batting title in the Pacific and Central leagues. At the time this card came out, Eto held a Chunichi Dragons record for hits by a rookie (139, broken in 2017 by Yota Kyoda)

Here’s the back of that card.

Next up is Takeshi Yasuda who went 81 innings without walking a batter… this happened from July 17, 1973 to September 9, 1973.

This next card appears to be from an “Active Stars” insert set, judging by the different design and the card numbering. Koichi Isobe was an All-Star during the Rakuten Golden Eagles’ first season (2005).

It doesn’t show in the scan, but the background is matte while Isobe’s image is glossy… like they do with recent Topps Pro Debut sets. Also, the words “ACTIVE STARS” on the left side and along the bottom are done in silver foil.

Here’s the back:

Mitsuhiro Adachi played in 21 seasons for the Hankyu Braves (1959 – 1979), won an MVP award and appearing in 9 Japan Series. He struck out 17 batters in a game in 1962, which was a NPB record (and has since been broken)

Shigeo Nagashima is one of the greatest and most popular players in Japanese baseball history. He had a record for most homers by a rookie (28), won six batting titles (a Central League record), and lead the league in hits 10 times (also a record)

And that’s the end of this pack.

I’ve got one more Japanese pack to open, and given how little I’ve been able to satisfying my pack-busting itch, that will happen sooner rather than later.

If It Weren’t For PWEs, I’d Get No 2020 Cards At All

OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but I definitely get the bulk of my first looks at 2020 cards from cards sent to me by Dime Boxes Nick.

…but I’ll get to the other stuff first, because he sent me plenty of oddballs as well.

I was well into my 20’s when Starting Lineup figures came out and I never liked the figures much.  The only one I’ve ever owned was a Gregg Jefferies I found cheap (and which still works its way into my rotation of ‘display toys’ at work).  I do like the cards which came with them, though, and this 1988 Starting Lineups card of Howard Johnson is new to me.

It seems to me like HoJo is a largely-forgotten figure of late 1980s / early 1990s baseball, so I will point out that he was an All-Star twice, scored 100+ runs twice, had 100+ RBI twice, won a World Championship twice, won a Silver Slugger twice… And yeah, we’re generally talking about 1989 and 1991 here, but not always.

This next card was indirectly involved in my learning something about a useful feature of Trading Card Database….

Junk Wax Twins clued me into the fact that TCDB has a “FILTERS” feature, so if I don’t know what this card is – and I didn’t…

I can look up Gregg Jefferies and filter on team and card # to find out that this is an unlicensed 1989 card put out by Pacific Cards And Comics… if there even was a Pacific Cards And Comics in Los Angeles (FYI, the “Pacific” we are familiar with is Pacific Trading Cards out of Washington state).

I saw this 1990 Swell Baseball Greats card and said “Well, that’s cool… but why did Nick send me a card of Jimmy Piersall?”

Then I realized that Piersall’s left arm is covering some Mets script… I’d forgotten that Jimmy played 40 games for the Mets in the middle of 1963, even though I’m very familiar with the story of Piersall’s 100th home run when he backpedaled around the bases.  The Mets acquired him from the Senators that May (in exchange for future Mets manager Gil Hodges) and then released him in July (and he was quickly scooped up by the Angels).  The only Mets cards of Piersall are from sets like this one and Pacific Legends.

So yes, Nick sent me one of his Short Term Stops!  (trademark patent pending)

Shifting from “cards issued after a career was over” to “cards issued before a career got started”, there’s this 2002 Justifiable minor league card of David Wright.  The cap logo has been removed, but I believe he’s shown with the Capital City Bombers, an A-Ball team based out of Columbia, SC.  (but not the same franchise as the Columbia Fireflies, the current Mets affiliate in the South Atlantic League)

Even though Just Minors didn’t put out the greatest cards, I kinda miss them…. Or maybe it’s more that I miss being able to buy packs of minor leaguers. (I realize that Topps Pro Debut comes in packs, but even though I own more than 500 Pro Debut cards, I don’t think I’ve ever opened a pack)

This card is simultaneously pre- and post-career… a 2009 TriStar Obak card which shows Tom Seaver with the 1966 Jacksonville Suns (his one and only minor league season).

I was going to make a comment about how this photo of Seaver with the Jacksonville Suns had a sun in the background, but then I realized that this was one of a number of backgrounds used by TriStar in the Obak set.

Jump forward ten years and we’ve got another card of Tom Seaver, this time in a  more recognizable uniform.

For those who enjoy somewhat obscure Beatles movies references, I saw the old-timey ballpark background substituting for Shea Stadium, and I said to myself “Not a bit like Cagney”.

Believe it or not, I had not as much as seen a 2020 Bowman card in person before receiving this Adley Rutschman card. Normally I’d buy a pack or two and then fill in wants at shows, but…

BTW, now that I’ve seen 2020 Bowman in person, I can confirm that it’s a better design than 2020 Topps… and if Bowman were Topps and Topps were Bowman, nobody would’ve said boo.

I bought very few packs of 2020 Topps Series 1 or 2, so this Cal Ripken insert is also new to me. I think I have a couple of other “1985” inserts around here somewhere.

By the way, this is starting to come across as very “woe is me”, but it’s really not. I miss opening packs and checking out new product in a more timely manner, but if we’re being honest here… by the time many of these cards make it to me, the bloom is off the rose and I find I’m not as interested as I would’ve normally been. That’s not a bad place to be in, as it turns out.

OK… Moving on to the next 2020 product I hadn’t seen before, and it’s 2020 Topps Archives. I’ve been disappointed in Archives the past year or two, so I wasn’t sure how much I cared about 2020 Archives. I have to admit, they did a pretty decent job with the 2002 design.

This design haunts me a bit because someone, somewhere – I think I know who, but I’d rather not guess than guess wrong – made a custom version where he replaced the burnt caramel color with traditional white, and it looked REALLY GOOD… Bit of a missed opportunity there.

1974 Topps was the first set I collected and I know those cards backwards and forward and inside-out. When I saw the first images of Archives’ 1974 design I went on a bit of a rant about incorrect details. I won’t rehash these here, but I’ll just point out that the most vocal complainers are the ones who want to be happy with something but aren’t.

This is also my first look at Stadium Club. I do like this year’s minimalist design… it’s different, but has a definite Stadium Club-ness about it. (Doesn’t scan all that well, though)

I mistakenly scanned the wrong side of that Syndergaard, so I figured I’d just post it here for anyone who also hasn’t been able to find Stadium Club. I really like how they reprised the colored stripes for the card number

As always, I’m amazed at what Nick can pack into a literal Plain White Envelope, and I’m very appreciative that he takes the time to pack cards into a PWE for me.

Thank you very much, Nick!

The Folder On My Laptop Said “Next Post”. Who Am I To Argue?

I’ve been struggling a bit lately to find topics to write about, but I also know that I’ve got a bunch of post ideas that got to a certain point and then I (most likely) got distracted from them and ultimately forgot about them.  Sometimes I only get as far as scanning cards before I end up inadvertently going in another direction.

In looking for images like that, I stumbled on a folder called “Next Post” from March 29th and it had five images in it.  I think these might’ve been just a random selection of “Cards I got in the past year”, but six months later, I’m not sure.  I guess it doesn’t matter.

I’m in a weird place when it comes to collecting the Steelers, my NFL team of choice… But before I get into that, since I was a kid there’s a part of me that wants to write “Jack Sprat” verses about Jack Ham… Stuff like “Jack Ham would eat no Spam, his wife would eat Sizzlean…” (For those who don’t remember Sizzlean, it was a supposedly healthier – or less unhealthy – bacon substitute)

I didn’t grow up a Steelers fan but became one in the 1980s when I roomed with a die-hard fan of the Black and Gold (and who owned the TV we shared). With the exception of 1975 when I went nuts with that year’s football cards… which was just as much about “I’ve already finished the 1975 baseball set” as it was about the NFL… I’ve never been a huge football collector. However I did have a general, open-ended plan to collect all of the Topps base cards for the Steeler teams I watched, from the 1980s forward.

A funny thing happened over the past few years, though… The desire to chase vintage has dominated what little football I buy, so while I have few football cards since 2015, I’ve been buying vintage Steelers who came before I followed the team. Jack Ham, at the very least, was a player I remember from when I was a kid, even if the Steelers were just another NFL team to me at the time. The Steelers cards I’ve been buying from the 1950s and 1960s, however mean little to me in terms of nostalgia, but serve more as a case of “I want vintage football, so I might as well chase the Steelers… except when I’m looking at AFL or CFL cards, then all bets are off”.

Anyway… I’m not really going anywhere with that, it’s just that the card made me stop and reflect on how readily and unwittingly I abandoned what had been an established plan. To be honest, I think the current card market took a lot of wind out of my sales. When Topps stopped making NFL cards, it wasn’t really clear which “flagship” set to focus on, and I ended up mentally wandering off.

Wow, that turned out to be more of a topic that I’d had in mind.

I think I got this 1977 Hostess Johnny Bench card from a bin of loose $1 cards at a show last fall. Can’t go wrong with Johnny B!

“Johnny B., how much there is to see… Just open your eyes and listen to me”. Do you think The Hooters were singing about Johnny Bench when they recorded that song that you probably don’t know even though it reached #61 on the Billboard Hot 10 in 1987? I have the single around here somewhere because the B-side was a live version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”.’

But I digress.

I have nebulous plans to complete all five Hostess sets, but I think I need some kind of game plan if I’m going to get serious about it.

Al “Rube” Walker was a Mets coach when I was a kid, and because of that he’s someone I collect… But even without that reason, how could I resist this 1957 Topps card?

The card only looks miscut… my scanner’s software didn’t like the left edge.

Bill Virdon was the Yankees manager during the fairly brief period when I liked the Yankees as well as the Mets. This 1960 Leaf is one of 7 cards I have of Virdon from his playing days.

1960 Leaf is a set I didn’t look at twice for much of my collecting life, but it’s grown on me over the past 5-10 years. (Again, miscut by the scanner, not in real life)

Wrapping up, appropriately enough, with Tom Terrific from 1974 Kellogg’s. Remember, these cards were selected by me in March, before Seaver’s passing.

TOM SEAVER
1944 – 2020