I’m Overwhelmed… So Here’s A Completely Ridiculous Cal Ripken Oddball Set

Hobby-wise, it feels like everything is caving in on me…


…Blogging, organizing, scanning, customs… there’s never the time to give the kind of attention I want to give to my various hobby tasks. On top of that, I’ve lost focus, have gone in too many directions at once, and lately I feel like everything’s getting away from me.

It’s also got me rethinking my collecting goals and priorities. I started to write about that… but I haven’t even had a chance to get that done.

The funny thing is that, right now, work is the one place where I don’t feel like everything’s getting away from me… Clearly I’m spending too much time there.

In search of a quick post i could do, I remembered this weird little set I got… or if my research is correct, “insert set” is the proper terminology for this 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn Cal Ripken set I found out about from Too Many Verlanders last March.

Holiday Inn apparently gave out packs of cards to Priority Club members… Each pack had three major leaguers (a 60-card set) and one goofy Cal Ripken insert.

If it’s not clear from the scan of this next card, Cal his cradling a laptop on a card that proclaims “Free high-speed internet”.  Now remember this was 10 years ago, so such access wasn’t necessarily a given… and it’s “internet” and not “Wi-Fi”.  If Cal were really staying on top of things, there probably should be a network cable dangling from the back of his laptop.

Holiday Inn also offered free MLB.com Gameday Audio… again, through your laptop which likely needed to be hardwired to that data port.

Finally, Holiday Inn has – or had – a pillow menu.  You can choose from different types of pillows for your stay!  I wonder if this was a Priority Club perk, I don’t remember anybody giving me a pillow option.

Each of these cards has a code on the back which you can enter in to a long-dead website and win tickets to a World Series game which took place 10 years ago!  Woo hoo!  (Spoiler Alert: The Red Sox swept the Rockies)

Just in case those cards don’t do it for you, I included a few more Cals from my scanner folder.

My wife’s two all-time favorite players are Cal Ripken and Brian Roberts, so imagine my excitement to find both on the same card!

This is a 2002 Fleer Ultra insert, and while she likes the card very much, in the end I think I was more excited than she was.

Going back 10 years earlier for a 1992 Donruss Triple Play Gallery Of Stars Insert…

Also from 1992 is this Studio card. It’s funny how Studio ended up being such a hit or miss proposition. I really like 1991 Studio and have the entire set (thanks largely to a cheap wax box I bought a number of years ago). 1992 is, in my book, just OK. But hey, it’s Cal!

Well, that wasn’t such a bad post after all. It’s funny how often you say something like “I’m going to mail this in”, and then things fall into place after you’ve relaxed.

Maybe I should stay overwhelmed for a little while.

Ya Get Whatcha Get: Triple Play Chicken And Other Delicacies

A couple of months ago I did a post about the three “Famous Chicken” cards I picked up on COMC. Shortly afterwards, I rediscovered another Chicken card that was already in my collection.
1992 Donruss Triple Play Famous Chicken
This card is from the 1992 Donruss Triple Play set, and I don’t really have much to say about it…

…So let’s move two years later to 1994. That year, O-Pee-Chee was in their second (and final) year of producing a flagship baseball sets that wasn’t just Topps cards with French on the back. Not long ago, I picked up a Cal from the set.
1994 O-Pee-Chee Cal Ripken
…und hier ist der back… (Don’t ask me why I suddenly slipped into pidgin German).
1994 O-Pee-Chee Cal Ripken back
These really are very nice cards, and have been the subject of some internal debate. “I should get more of this set!” is followed by “Oh, yeah, because we don’t have enough cards from 1994…”

I’m going to say something that may seem heretical to some Mets fans, and I don’t want anybody to think I don’t appreciate everything David Wright has done for the Mets and everything he brings to the team…
2011 Heritage David Wright
…but with the emergence of young Mets pitchers like Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, I am beyond happy that there are more and more inserts that feature Mets other than David Wright.

And finally I’m going to finish up with a career retrospective on Sonny Siebert that I will be sort of “live blogging”… writing it as I’m researching it. The main impetus behind this is my buying this cheap 1972 Kellogg’s card and then wondering “What did Sonny do to warrant a Kellogg’s card?” Prior to finding this card, Sonny Siebert was (to me) just another guy in the 1974 and 1975 sets.
1972 Kelloggs Sonny Siebert
OK, well the first thing I found out about Sonny Siebert’s 1971 season was that he as an All-Star, which goes a long way to explain this Kellogg’s card. He went 16-10, 2.19 that season. He was also an All-Star in 1966, while with the Indians.

He shares his 1964 rookie card with fringe-y Indians pitcher Tom Kelley, who should not be confused with Tom Kelly who managed the Twins for 16 years.

His 1965 card says that he was originally an outfielder, but switched to pitching in the minors. On May 10, 1964, he pitched 6 innings of mop-up relief during a Yankees blowout in the first game of a double-header, and he struck out 11 Yankees, including Jim Bouton, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard and Clete Boyer. All four of those notable Yankees struck out twice against Sonny.

Moving along, his 1966 card says he was among the 1965 A.L. leaders in wins, K’s and ERA. Oh, look! There’s his picture on some 1966 League Leader cards. The photo used on his 1966 League Leader card was used on his 1967 base card.

Let’s see… he no-hit the Senators on 5/10/1966… He’s on a 1968 Topps ERA Leaders card… Traded to the Red Sox in April of 1969… Oh, he was also on a 1971 Kellogg’s card…

On June 19, 1970, Sonny Siebert was no-hitting the Yankees after 8 innings and had a 7-0 lead. Horace Clarke lead off the 9th with a single, which was followed by a double, a two-run single and a two-run homer… at which point Sparky Lyle came in for the save.

Sonny likes to go bowling! …That’s according to his 1973 and 1974 cards. He was traded to the Rangers early in 1973, but never appeared on a card in a Rangers uniform – A call to action for one of you “Cards That Never Were” guys (and if you’ve already done one, please leave the URL in the comments).

His real name is Wilfred… He was traded to the Cardinals after the 1973 season, traded to the Padres after the 1974 season (a fact noted on the back of his 1975 card), made six starts for San Diego before being traded to the A’s in May, 1975. He ended his career after 17 appearances with Oakland. 1975 Topps was his last baseball card, so he never appeared on cardboard with the Padres or A’s, either. Two more opportunities for custom card makers.

To wrap things up, baseball-reference.com says that Sonny is the last A.L. pitcher to hit two homers in the same game (9/2/71 against Baltimore).

OK, well sorry about the rambling but as the subject line says, “Ya get whatcha get”.

“Don’t Confuse Effort With Results”

I’ve had the boss from an old summer job in my head this week, chastising me for letting several days go by without a post.  I can hear him asking what’s taking so long, and I explain to him that on top of organizing my 1994 cards and entering 2015 sets into my card database, I’ve been coming up with posting ideas, researching, writing, scanning, feverishly working on customs… but he just tells me that I shouldn’t confuse effort with results.

It’s at this point that my mentally-conjured boss turns to walk away and I make a rude gesture at his back.

This is all a form of mea culpa for my meager output of this past week…  I guess I have to “work smarter, not harder”.

For now, at least, I’m  going to take “work smarter, not harder” to mean that I should post four somewhat unusual cards that had been scanned for post ideas that didn’t work out. When life gives you lemons, post oddballs.

1992 UD Cal & Billy Ripken

1999 Best Baseball America Bronson Arroyo

1975 Hostess Gene Tenace

1980 Kellogg's Lee Mazzilli

Getting back to bosses, it’s been a while since I’ve had a boss that spouted aphorisms.  Most of my recent bosses tend towards buzzwords, many of which involve incorrectly turning nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns:  “We’ve got to do some decisioning on the spend”.

What are your favorite boss-isms or buzzwords?

Ya Get Whatcha Get: 3 Vintage, 1 Faux Vintage, 1 Blogger Playing For Time

I’ll admit it;  I’ve got so many irons in the fire right now that I haven’t the time to write a cohesive post….  That’s why ya get whatcha get.

I suppose I may as well admit that I’m trying to collect the 1968 Topps Game Insert set, although it’s more of a casual pursuit than an active one.  I enjoy this oddball insert because it’s fun, small (33 cards) and affordable.  This Frank Howard card is one of my Black Friday additions.
1968 Topps Game Frank Howard
2015 Topps Archives will have an insert set that pays homage to this oddball… I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, Archives has a way of building my hopes and then dashing them on the rocks.  As it is, they’ve already pissed me off with the preview images that feature the 1976 design… They use the city & team name (“COLORADO ROCKIES”) when it should be just the team name, and they used the wrong colors for the Red Sox.  I suppose it wouldn’t be Archives if it didn’t piss off the people who love the originals.

During the end of 2014 I waxed poetic about 1970 Topps Super Football and Baseball.  Here’s another 1970 Super I got from COMC… this one features phenom-of-the-day Andy Messersmith.  I don’t know that you can see it in my scan, but in the original oversized card you can see the weave in Andy’s flannel jersey.  Most excellent!
1970 Topps Super Andy Messersmith
In 1969, the year before this card was issued, Messersmith was a 23-year-old who went 16-11 for a team that lost 91 games.  All too often people mention his role in establishing free agency or the time that Ted Turner tried to advertise his TV station by putting CHANNEL on Messersmith’s back so that it read “CHANNEL 17″… But Andy Messersmith was a fine ballplayer.  Four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove, lead the NL with 20 wins in 1974, lead in shotouts in 1975.  There was a reason the Braves signed him to a $1M contract.

I started buying Cal Ripken cards as a way to help my wife understand my hobby – she’s a huge fan of Cal’s.  Although she doesn’t enjoy baseball cards the way I do, she likes to look at cards of her favorite players, and she does appreciate what makes one card nicer than another.
2013 Topps Archives Cal Ripken
Even though there’s really no hope of converting her any further, I still buy Ripkens.  Force of habit, I guess.  This card is from the 2013 Archives set  (and nit-pick, nit-pick, nit-pick, the action shot shows a completely different Orioles uniform than is in the portrait)

One made-up subset of 1969 Topps that I’m collecting is high-#ed cards of guys in the brand-spanking-new uniforms of that year’s expansion teams.  Here Moe Drabowsky shows off his new KC Royals uni – which is pretty much like the Royals uni from any point in the last 40+ years, but still…
1969 Topps Moe Drabowsky
Moe was the answer to a number of trivia questions… Who gave up Stan Musial’s 3,000th hit? Who was the losing pitcher for Early Wynn’s 300th victory? Who was the first pitcher to get a win for the Royals? Moe, Moe, Moe. He also was born in Poland and played for both the K.C. Athletics and the K.C. Royals.

Black Friday: Cards I’ve Wanted Since The 1990’s

These two cards were 1997 Score inserts that I’ve always wanted, because they’re fun and they combine baseball cards and comic books, two of my long-time passions — although I haven’t read Superman since I was a kid.
1997 Score Pitcher Perfect Cal Ripken

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “Pitcher Perfect” insert set, they all feature photos by soon-to-be-Hall-Of-Fame pitcher Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson, who majored in photojournalism at USC. You can check out his photography website here.
1997 Score Pitcher Perfect Cal Ripken Alex Rodriguez
There’s a third card in this ‘subset within an insert set’, but I’ve had that A-Rod card since 1997 and the punk doesn’t deserve to be featured without Cal there to counteract his negative aura.

Next up is a card that I have, in theory, been desiring since 1991.
1991 Studio Lance Parrish

…Not so much Lance Parrish, but what this Lance Parrish card represents:  This is the last card I needed to complete my 1991 Studio set.

I know ’91 Studio isn’t a universally-loved set, but I’ve always liked it, and a cheap waxbox from a few years ago put me close to a complete set.  I got to the point where I was one card away and I decided to get the card off of COMC just so I can finally put this set to bed.

This last one is a bit of a cheat… Yes, I’ve wanted it since the 1990’s, but in the sense that it’s Keith Hernandez and I always want any Met from a Topps base set.
1990 Topps Keith Hernandez

Right, Soooooooo… Where Was I?

Those of you who do all their blog surfing through blogrolls might’ve wondered where I’ve been.  Truth is, I’ve been here but the proverbial “technical difficulties” have kept me from appearing on blogrolls.  I’ve been posting at least once a day for all of November, so if you thought I fell off the face of the earth, you might want to go back and check out what you’ve missed.

I’d like to thank the esteemed Mr. Nachos Grande for his help on the matter.  It looks like pasting documents straight from Word into the post was causing problems.  Why it hadn’t caused similar problems in the previous 2 years I’d been doing the exact same thing is beyond me… I guess things reached critical mass or something.  For now I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the problem’s been sorted out.

Before I move on, let’s pause for a brief image…

1992 Post Cal Ripken

For the past few days, I’ve been spending a heck of a lot of time on card-related activities that didn’t involve touching any cards or writing about them.  Aside from obsessing over my blogroll issues, I’ve also been getting ready for COMC’s Black Friday.  I’ve been updating my wantlists for a day of shopping, and I’ve also been pricing the nearly 500 cards that just entered my inventory.

COMC is encouraging all of it’s sellers to have a sale for this weekend, and I’ll be participating.  They’ll also have shipping without paying the handling charge, give store credit for buying and shipping a minimum amount of purchases, and be giving away Cyber Monday shopping sprees.

Among the cards I’ve just added to my inventory are oddballs like the Cal pictured above, plus vintage cards, parallels and inserts (many from 2013), manupatches, vintage, rookies and pre-rookies, oddballs, 1970′s O-Pee-Chee baseball, 1976 SSPC, hockey, basketball, football, even Donruss Truckin’ cards.  Check it out here, but you might want to wait until Friday to actually start  your shopping.

…and don’t hesitate to make me an offer;  I’ve got 490 cards I priced based on half of book value;  I don’t know if I’ll have a chance before Friday to check for entry mistakes or whether 50% book is reasonable, so… like I said, make an offer.  I’m going to be shopping on Friday, and checking my account regularly over the weekend.

If anybody else is selling on COMC, feel free to leave your seller ID in the comments;  when I can, I always like to buy from people I know.

Pause for a breath and another image…

1971 Topps Gary Gentry

Yesterday at lunch I bought a 100-card repack and went through the cards while sitting in my car, but the cards are sitting on my kitchen table, still in the torn-open plastic shell case.  That’s the kind of week it’s been — I didn’t even get around to pulling out the 1988 Donruss cards and throwing them in the recycling!

I plan to be back to business as usual tomorrow… Maybe I’ll get a chance to make the Ian Kinsler custom to go with the Prince Fielder I posted on Monday.

I hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving and a happy Hannukah.  Drive safe if you’re driving.

Cal Repack, Jr.

During my recent obsession with Fairfield 100 card repacks, I’ve had pretty good luck adding to my wife’s Cal Ripken binder, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Joe Shlabotnik Collection, Inc.

Mrs. S has been a Cal fan since 1983 and enjoys checking out new (to her) cards of Cal, so I seek out inexpensive additions to the collection, plus keep anything that comes my way.

This card was on the front of one of the repacks, and I thought this was the 1992 Leaf card which is missing from the binder, but then I looked at the number on the back and it was “13 of 26”.
1992 Leaf Cal Ripken
I had to do a search to find out that it was a Leaf preview card, and it has a different photo of Cal and Carlos Quintana… check it out:

1992 Leaf #52 - Cal Ripken - Courtesy of COMC.com

1992 Leaf #52 – Cal Ripken – Courtesy of COMC.com

I’m going to have to get a copy of the “real” Leaf card; these two will look great together.

Also in that repack, I ran across this 1993 Studio Cal Ripken card. 1993 Studio Cal Ripken
SWEEEEEEEEEEET!!! I love this set, and I really need to get more cards from it. For me, this card was worth a good chunk of the $4 I spent on the repack.

Here’s the back of that card… Ladies and gentlemen, the piercing eye of Cal Ripken, Jr.
1993 Studio Ripken Back

These next two were from different repacks… I added to my 1980’s Topps Glossy insert collection…
1989 All-Star Glossy Cal Ripken

…and got a 1990 Topps Sticker with Cal on the back.  I never bought these stickers the first time around, but one thing that I like about getting them in repacks is that you sometimes get two shots at a player you want with each sticker. I couldn’t tell you without looking what sticker was on the front, but the backing card is Cal, so it’s AAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL good.
1990 Topps Stickers Ripken Back

The Last Time The Orioles…? Probably 1997

Some of you who aren’t Orioles fans might be looking on the team’s unexpected success and wondering “Hey, when was the last time the Orioles…?”

Doesn’t matter how the question ends, the answer is probably 1997.

The last time the Orioles ended the season with a winning record?  1997.

…were 20 games above .500 in September?  1997.

…Made the playoffs?  1997.

…Won the division?  1997.

Had a closer with 40+ saves? 1997.

Had a winning record at Yankee Stadium?  1997.

It doesn’t apply just to the Orioles.  When was the last time the Red Sox had a losing record?  …The Indians were in the World Series?  …The Brewers were an American League team?  1997.

Back in 1997, the three division winners were the Orioles, Indians and Mariners.  Damn, that WAS a long time ago.  The Orioles beat the Mariners in the Division Series, but lost to the Indians in the ALCS.  The Indians would lose to the wild card Marlins.

It’s very exciting – and admittedly very odd – for the Orioles to be back in the thick of things, especially since I began the season preparing for a very long season for both my teams. I have no idea how things will shake out, but for now I’m hoping they manage to pass the Yankees, and we’ll see what happens from there.

Let’s go, O’s!!!

Well, I Feel Stupid (Not That This Is Anything Unusual…)

So I spent Tuesday’s post talking about the Cal Ripken statue which was to be unveiled at Camden Yards yesterday. The whole basis of my post was that there’s a wide pedestal and a small pedestal for the two remaining bronze statues, and trying to figure out what they would do with Cal on the small pedestal, given that the wide one would undoubtedly be for the horizontal statue of Brooks “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” Robinson diving for a ball, like this:

1993 Ted Williams Brooks Robinson #8 - Brooks Robinson/All-Star Games - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1993 Ted Williams Brooks Robinson #8 – Brooks Robinson/All-Star Games – Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

So you can imagine my chagrin to find out that the statue of Cal was not on the smaller pedestal, but on the larger one…  (And of course, I have to make a custom of it)

I made the wrong assumption, but I was not alone in that;  I know several Orioles fans who’d assumed the same thing.

…but if the small, square pedestal is for Brooks, then what will his statue look like?  Will it be him standing on deck, or talking on a big phone, or  — No!  No!  I’m not going there.  Not again.

1975 Topps #50 - Brooks Robinson - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1975 Topps #50 – Brooks Robinson – Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

I’m old enough to remember – just barely – Brooks’ final years… but to me, he wasn’t a 16-time Gold Glove winner or a future Hall of Famer. Brooks was the guy with the goofy batting helmet. The 10-year-old in me hopes that the Brooks statue will include the goofy batting helmet.  Beyond that, I’m hanging up my Conjecture Hat.

…until I need another idea for a post.

The Statue Got Me High (That’s What I’m Hoping For, Anyway)

The Orioles will be unveiling the new Cal Ripken statue on Thursday, and I’ve been very impressed with the statues the Orioles have unveiled so far.  Jim Palmer pitching with his big leg kick. Earl Weaver surveying the troops. Eddie Murray waiting for a pitch – when you see the statue in person, it seems like he’s looking right at you. Great stuff.

I’ve gotta say, I’m apprehensive about what Cal’s statue will be like.  There are two remaining pedestals; Assuming that the Brooks Robinson statue will have him diving for a ball – and I think that’s a safe assumption – then that leaves the relatively small pedestal for Cal.  A small pedestal implies an upright statue.

What concerns me is this: when they honor the man who revolutionized the way people think about shortstop as a position, the 1982 AL Rookie Of the Year, the 2-time MVP, the 19-time All-Star, the man who won 2 Gold Gloves and 8 Silver Slugger awards, the guy who hit 431 home runs, the man who’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame for – GASP! – playing baseball… will they honor that man with a statue which looks like this?

I know this has become an iconic image, and a lot of people feel that it symbolizes what Cal’s all about… but to me it’s just so DAMN BORING. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you I’ve been mocking this logo for 11 years. This is not an image of a baseball player. It’s not the image of an athlete. This is the image of the Queen waving to her loyal subjects from a balcony. Hulloooooooooooo!

I understand that Cal means so much more to the Orioles, Baltimore and Maryland that just as a baseball player. I just hope they can capture that in a way that’s a little more interesting. Given that we’ know that Cal will be vertical in some way, maybe we can hope that he’ll be turning two…

…or standing on deck…

…or signing an autograph…

…or with a bat on his shoulder…

…or talking on an amusingly outdated phone…

…or even tipping his cap to a crowd.

I just hope they came up with something more interesting, more appropriate, than this…

I’ll admit, I became an Orioles fan towards the end of Cal’s career, so he doesn’t have the same emotional connection to him that life-long Orioles fans have. So, tell me…

What do you think the perfect statue of Cal would be?