Monday, December 31, 2012

An End of the Year Message

'Al' Lang Syne

I just wanted to take a second to be all mushy and emotive.  Bear with me.

To all who read this, many thanks for sharing in my blogging experience in 2012.  I appreciate all of you who follow the page regularly or who may have just checked in once or twice over the past six months.

This year marked my entry into the game, and I've enjoyed it immensely.  I've learned a lot about myself as a collector and about the hobby in general.  It's been a fun journey to say the least!

But, most importantly, I've made a lot of wonderful acquaintances throughout the sports card blogging community.  It's nice to read blogs of others who love this hobby as much as I do.  And it's even better to correspond with so many of you, either through commentary or via trades.

I absolutely look forward to what 2013 may bring to me both as a blogger and a collector.

I hope everyone out there has a safe and happy New Year's celebration, and a healthy and prosperous 2013!


Sunday Card Show: The Rest

Everybody Hurts...sometimes

Aside from the vintage cards shown in my previous post, I picked up some dime box cards to fill some holes in my player collections or team collections.

The very pensive Frank Thomas above is among my favorite ten-cent additions.  Even though I don't like how he looks in an A's uniform, this is a pretty neat card.

Speaking of not liking how a fella looks in a certain uniform, Tom Seaver should have never been made to slip on anything but the blue and orange of the Mets.  But, I digress. As for the card, Seaver's 14 wins in 1981 were the most in baseball, though four others also notched 14  (including Jack Morris and Denny Martinez).  His .875 winning percentage, however, was the best in the business in '81.  Seaver finished a close second to Fernando in NL Cy Young voting that year.

Oh, and speaking of speaking of, I found a Dennis Martinez that my collection lacked:

This is the first card I have of Denny in Orioles garb.  A neat-o fact on the back of this one informs us that El Presidente won the pitching triple crown at Triple-A Rochester in 1976.

I love Carl Yastrzemski cards because, well, I really like Carl Yastrzemski.  So I was happy to find this 1982 Donruss issue of Yaz:

Hard to fathom that a guy who entered the 1981 season with 419 round-trippers would ever square to bunt, but there it is!  I also was pleased to learn that Yaz signed with Sox in 1958 as a shortstop out of... Notre Dame!  Go Irish!  [Ed. Note:  Yes, I am stupid enough to think that they will beat 'Bama next Monday.  Sue me.]

2001 UD "Legends of New York"

Ol' Casey was a beloved figure in New York sports in 'nem days.  His managerial acumen didn't do much to lift the Mets' winning percentage in the infancy of the club, but his persona did wonders at the turnstiles.  Per the back of this card, the 40-win Mets still drew over 900,000 to the ancient Polo Grounds in 1962.

A Clayton Kershaw rookie for a dime?  Sure, why not!?

I also ventured into a little football at the show.  I really couldn't avoid it; there were lots of football dime boxes to indulge in.  So, I was on the lookout for Buffalo Bills cards and any neat Topps cards from the '80s.

I found both.

Does this not look like a pro linebacker?  I'm sick of today's football stars -- especially defensive players -- being so handsome or trendy and friendly.  In my book, linebackers should be nasty and lacking teeth.

And, in a perfect world more superstar athletes would wear rec specs.  Rest easy, Mr. Dickerson, your single-season rushing record is safe for yet another year.

Finally, I found a few basketball cards for my Celtics collection.  I vowed recently to buy no further hoops cards unless they were Boston Celtics, but I couldn't resist this Topp Chrome gem:

Won't be receiving a birthday card from Avery Johnson

Oh, and I also scooped up an unopened 2009 Topps Baseball factory set.  This was a set that I did not have in my Topps set collection, thus jumped at the chance to pick it up for less than $30.  I know set collecting purists out there will frown upon this -- and I can't say I completely disagree -- but this is the cheapest and easiest way to plug the gaps in my set collection.  Plus, it comes with those wonderful "Rookie Variation Cards"!

So that's my card show experience in a nutshell.  A few nice vintage pickups; some cheap odds and ends; and a Topps factory set.

That qualifies as a satisfying morning's work!


Sunday Card Show: The Vintage

Another great card show took place at my local fire hall on Sunday.  The last monthly show of 2012.  I've been able to gain a lot of great pieces for my collection over the past calendar year, and yesterday's show was a pretty good way to cap it off.

I knew I wanted to get a vintage card or two at the show, but I wasn't really sure what I was looking for.  Usually, I just wait for something to really hit me.

And the above Gil Hodges card did just that.  I can't say for sure the reason, but I just like the way Dodgers cards look on the 1960 Topps design.  And, well, Hodges is not only a Dodger legend, but also a man of Met greatness (See: 1969).

At the same table, I was able to parlay a deal for the Hodges card plus this sharp number:

This one is in fine condition.  Four very good corners and nice, bright colors.  I knew I had to have this once I set eyes on it.  Firstly, it's Frank Robinson as an Oriole -- something my vintage collection is lacking.  Along the same lines, I don't have much in the way of 1967 Topps.  So this killed two birds with one stone.

Frank had just wrapped up the AL Triple Crown plus his second MVP award, thus becoming the first man to win the MVP in both leagues.  So that made owning his '67 issue even more important.

I was going to call it a day in the vintage department with these two until I came across a nicely maintained table with boxes of 1970 and '71 Topps commons for half-a-buck each.

I came across this Ray Fosse card after a minute or so of digging.  The only thing I really knew about Fosse is that he was the guy who Pete Rose barreled into during the 1970 All-Star game.  But what I didn't know is that Fosse finished fifth in the AL in batting (.307) during that '70 season and also won his first Gold Glove award. Fosse would reach the All-Star Game and win another Gold Glove in 1971, but his career had basically reached its zenith at that point.  After swatting a combined 30 homers over a two-year span, he only totaled 35 over the final six years of his big league time.

Since I wanted to spend a whole dollar at this one table, I searched onward after securing the Fosse.  And once I transitioned into the 1970 Topps section, I thankfully came across this awesome card of a true Mets hero:

The camera angle coupled with his swinging motion (not to mention the stoic, focused look on his face) makes Agee look appear as a larger-than-life figure.  And, for the Mets during the 1969 Series, he truly was thanks to a pair of incredible catches in Game 3.  Tommie smashed 26 homers for the Amazins during that magical '69 season, just two years after coming over from the White Sox via trade.

A man who accompanied Agee to New York in that 1967 trade was Al Weis:

I only learned this because it said so on the back of this 2001 Upper Deck "Legends of New York" card, which I just so happened to coincidentally snag in a dime box at the same show.  Funny, right?

But, I'll save the rest of my dime box finds for my next post...


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stocking Stuffers

I nearly forgot to share the four separately wrapped baseball cards that Santa put in my stocking this year. Each was encased in a nice screw-down holder for safekeeping.  And, the best part, each was a David Wright card...

I don't know how he did it, but Santa took special care to get me cards that were missing from my player collection "have" list.  He must read this blog!  And perhaps he has a COMC account??

I could've sworn I already had this 2007 Topps Chrome issue, but I was wrong.  Who am I to second-guess Santa anyhow?

I really like the mirror effect on the "floor" of this card.  Upper Deck made some pretty, um, funky cards in the mid-'00s, but I think this one works.

Allen & Ginter makes a nice insert.  I just wish they would stop referring to Virginia as a "state" though.

Thanks again, Santa!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Binder Day

Series 1, #90

Today is an especially exciting day for your's truly.  And it has nothing to do with the $400+ dollars I sank on a new set of tires this morning (not to mention the three hours of waiting in the Pep Boys holding pen).

Rather, today is Binder Day in the ol' Kaz house.  You read right, Binder Day.  Not to be confused with Boxing Day, which was just yesterday.  But today is the day that I begin loading my 2012 Topps baseball set into Ultra Pro pages which will then be stowed in the snazzy binder that Mrs. K bought me for Christmas.

For some this may seem like an arduous process, but there is nothing that I enjoy more than the mindless job of systematically and carefully sliding the cards into their final resting place.  What can I say, I love mindless tasks like this.  But it also gives me a chance to relive the set, which I have not given a lot of attention over the past few months.

Series 1, #136

I kinda forgot how much I love this set.  From the design to the photography, I think it's a real winner for Topps.  I like it much better than last year's "baseball comet" design, and it probably also tops 2010's effort, which is another that I really enjoyed.  I don't know what it is, but this year's set just had its hooks into me from the moment I first saw the sell sheets.

Now, I know for the rest of the collecting universe -- or at least much of it -- this set's design is/was met with lukewarm regard.  The "surfboard" design, as it known to many.  However, I truly think that in time those who focus a critical eye on 2012 Topps will come to a more favorable feeling for it somewhere down the road.  I can't say why for sure, I guess we can just call it a gut feeling.

Series 2, #333

But let's say that the design elements do nothing for you and you can't foresee yourself ever getting excited for it in the future.  That's fine.  But can you deny the amazing, in-your-face photography?  The above Roger Bernadina card is a perfect illustration of how Topps was able to capture such a wide array of play making throughout this year's product.  Ditto for the McGehee card above that.  And, I'm not sure what Adron Chambers is doing or who he's cheerleading for in the very first card I scanned, but that's a great shot that captures the energy of the game during a big moment.

And if you like celebration shots, 2012 Topps is the set that beats all.

Series 2, #480

I'm someone who has come to love portraits or posed photos on cards -- maybe even more so than action shots -- but cards like this J.J. Putz masterpiece kinda sway me in the other direction.  Moments like this which are captured on cardboard are among the chief reasons we love this hobby so much.

Anyhow, I'm on a brief timeout from binder stuffing, and it's time to get back to it.  After all, the daylight hours are waning and I've gotta lot of cards to still attend to.

If you're like me and you've stowed your completed 2012 Topps flagship set aside in a neglected box or binder, give 'er another whirl to see if it moves you the way that it does for me.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Have You Met...?

1981 Fleer, #318

A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Alex Trevino was signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1974.  His major league debut came in 1978, thus beginning a modest 13-year MLB career.  Alex spent his first four seasons in Flushing, appearing in 247 games.  His best season as a Met occurred in 1980, when he and John Stearns split primary catching duties.  That season Trevino caught a team-high 86 games and batted .256 with a career-best 37 RBIs.

But, Trevino's notoriety in Mets annals has more to do with who he was traded for, rather than what he did in Queens.  On February 10, 1982, New York shipped a package that included Trevino, Greg Harris and Jim Kern to Cincinnati for high profile slugger George Foster.  A rather underwhelming package for a past MVP it would seem, though Foster never lived up to his name or contract as a Met and was a mostly cantankerous presence in the clubhouse and beyond.  In other words, a typical Mets transaction!

Trevino would only play two-plus seasons in Cincy before bouncing around the league, making stops in Atlanta, San Francisco, L.A., and Houston.  Late season 1990, Alex came full circle and signed with the Mets.  But, he only appeared in nine games and contributed just three hits and an RBI during that particular cup of coffee.  He would make one more cameo in as a Red that same season before calling it a career.

Alex Trevino hit 23 big league home runs over his 13 seasons, yet none of them occurred in a Mets uniform. This is in spite of the fact that he played more games (256) and had more ABs (733) as a Met than he did with any of his other four teams.  Weird.

Trevino, I'm told, works as the analyst for the Houston Astros' Spanish radio broadcasts.


Happy Boxing Day!

I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas!  I know Mrs. K and I absolutely did.  Quality time with family; great food; and some very thoughtful gifts received.  Doesn't get any better than that.  Heck, even my beloved Celtics won.

So today in some parts of the world Boxing Day is celebrated.  I used to think the day got it's name from the propensity for folks to rush to the malls and return all the ugly sweaters, socks and neckties they got on Christmas.  Y'know, they would throw those items back in the box and run 'em back to Sears or wherever.

Silly me.

Anyhow, for me, Boxing Day serves as an occasion to bust open some boxes that I received on Santa's big day.

For instance, I got a 2012 Topps Football factory set from Dad K.  I always put one of those on my Christmas list, especially in recent years, because of the little extras that come packaged within.  Last year it was a patch card of Cam Newton.  This year, certain factory sets either had an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III patch card.

My set had the Luck card.  Hey, either way I wasn't gonna be able to complain.  Both QBs are blazing their way towards record seasons and playoff appearances, to boot.  While we are an RG3 household (due to Mrs. K and her Redskins fandom), I'll happily add Mr. Luck to my collection.

Another great perk of the factory set is the five-pack of rookie variation cards.  Included were Luck, Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and -- oh yeah -- RG3!

I definitely dig these cards, and I think there are some factory sets that feature rare variations of each player. I know some collectors out there aren't huge fans of factory sets, but for someone who doesn't buy a lot of football cards anymore -- like me -- these are the way to go.  And the little bonuses make it even better.

Mom K got me a '12 Topps Baseball factory set, which features card No. 661 of Bryce Harper, plus a five-card rookie variation pack.  From some very quick research, I think this pack includes Harper, Darvish, Cespedes, Lawrie and Matt Moore.

I haven't opened this box yet, and I'm kinda on the fence about doing so.  On the one hand, I already have amassed all 660 cards from this set and I would feel bad busting the box just to get the Harper.  On the other hand, I would love to see the five rookie variation cards.  Plus, as a completist, I'd like to add card No. 661 to my 2012 Topps binder.

Decisions, decisions!

Staying with the baseball theme, Mrs. K got me a couple of 72-card hanger packs of Topps cards: one Series 2 and one Update.  Now, as stated already, I have all of Series 2.  And I also finished Update.  But, because these boxes each have inserts, parallels and code cards, this wasn't a bummer in the least.  So, I dove into those two boxes earlier today, likewise.

From the Series 2 box, the true highlight was an SP variation of Andrew McCutchen!

This is the first time I've ever come across one of these, save for the All-Star SPs from this year's Update.  I'm not sure how rare these are, but I was pretty excited to get this one.  McCutchen is one of the game's best young stars.  And, well, can you beat this action sequence??

I also got a Seaver '87 mini and an extra Darvish rookie card.

Not too shabby!

As for the Update hanger box, I got a Mike Trout "insert"...

And, since these were purchased from Target...I mean...the North Pole, they came with a pair of red-bordered parallels.  Included in my Update box were Carlos Ruiz and...

...Justin Verlander.  Hey, that works for me!

Oh, and the code card in my Update box was a winner, as it netted me a Derek Jeter die-cut card.  A real card, not a Super Mario World coin with Jeter's face or whathaveyou.  Not sure if I"ll be keeping it or looking to swap it out for another player.

So, my Boxing Day was a good one, I must say.  And I nearly forgot the other important box I tore into this afternoon.  My sister bought me a new scanner!  Of course, because I'm something of a tech dummy, it took me a few hours to work out all the installation quirks.  But, now that it's up and running I really love it!  It's way quicker and easier than my old scanner and it produces images that are much sharper and brighter.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday seasons, gang!  I know I will...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Christmastime!

Season's Greetings, folks!

We're definitely in the Christmas spirit here at the Kaz house.  Trees is up and decorated; the stockings are hung on the mantle; and all the presents are wrapped.  And tonight Christmas cookies will be baking in the oven. Your's truly has volunteered to be the official taste tester.  It's what I'm best at, after all!

And, a little piece of Christmas arrived in the mail just yesterday as I received a package from Marcus, the jolly soul behind All the Way to the Backstop.

Yes, yes, it was baseball cards.  But, the assortment of cards had a Christmas theme to it.

For instance, we've got Deck the Halls with boughs of Foli...

Cool fact about Randy Bobb featured on the card back: "With the Cubs in '68, Randy threw out Pete Rose trying to steal on 1st major league pitch he handled."  That's almost as cool as hitting a home run off Nolan Ryan in your first ML at-bat.  Almost.

Moving along, Sleigh Bells ring, are you listening?

In my humble opinion, Jay Bell is one of the most under-appreciated players of his time.  He may have sacrificed more substantial numbers while playing third or fourth banana on those Pirates teams from the early '90s.  I was very happy when he won a ring with Arizona in 2001 and was nearly giddy when he latched on with the Mets in 2003.  Nothing significant came of his time in Queens (his final season), but it's still pretty cool that he donned the blue and orange.

And, in honor of the great Bing Crosby, we're Dreaming of a White Christmas... Or a lineup featuring Albert Pujols and Ryan Bruan.  Either one will do!

I'd say Angels fans are living the dream these days, as Josh Hamilton joins an already robust lineup feature King Albert and Mike Trout.  But, you don't win divisions on paper, right?

Okay, well, sadly that's the extent of my Christmas creativity.  But, there were still some cool cards from the package that I'd like to share.  Including a bunch of Mets representatives...

An awesome mix here.  Not to toot my own horn, but I'm kinda proud of this page here -- even if it was just made for the purposes of displaying some of the cards Marcus sent.  The Alfonzo card is pretty exciting because it comes from a set called Leaf Preferred.  Now that's a Donruss product I've not heard of previously.  And, yes, I'm naturally happy for a Cap'n Crunch card.  Marcus seems to always come through with one or two of those in every mailing.  Well played, sir!

Here's a neat foursome...

On the top left, we have Ray Katt from something called the Baseball History Series.  There doesn't seem to be anything remarkable about Katt, other than the fact that he was the starting catcher for the world champion N.Y. Giants in 1954.  His lifetime batting record is nothing to boast about, as he hit .232 with 32 homers over the course of 417 big league games.  Yet, I really like this card.  Probably because I think it's a wonderful sentiment that somebody took the time to produce a card for such an unremarkable player from baseball's golden era.  We need more of these.

I'm a sucker for the glossy "Rookies" that Topps inserted into their Jumbo Paks from the late '80s and early '90s. Plus, I'm an Olerud junkie.  So the card on the top right is a grand slam.

Moving clockwise still, this Michael Young card will go towards my 2011 Cognac pursuit.  While, the 1990 Donruss Yaz puzzle card is, well, Yaz and needs no other reason to appreciated.  Neat fact on the back: "Carl is the only player in AL history to get at least 3,000 hits and 400 home runs."  I may be wrong, but I think that is still the case.  Though I think A-Rod is closing in on 3,000 hits and will probably eclipse that mark in 2013 (assuming health).

Merry Christmas, Marcus!  Thanks for sending some cardboard Christmas joy my way...


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fun with Heritage, 4th Edition

I've now done three "Fun with Heritage" features, and all three emanated from the 1963/2012 pipeline.  This mostly has to do with the fact that 2012 Heritage has become one of my favorite card sets of all time.  That plus I had enough good vintage '63s in my collection.  Thus making the feature easy to whip together.

Well, this time I decided to branch out a bit.  I have very few cards from the 1962 Topps set.  But, luckily I have a good number of specimens from 2011 Heritage, which honors the '62 design.  Thus, I was able to find a numerical match between the sets.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't give a nod to Robert from $30 A Week Habit, who recently featured 2011 Heritage in his "Top 25 Sets" feature.  That got me in a 1962/2011 kind of mood.

So, here we go!

Card No. 208 is the subject.  In this feature, the vintage card always gets first treatment.  So let's now travel back to 1962...

1962 Topps, #208

Before he landed the starring role as George Steinbrenner's managerial whipping boy, Billy Martin spent 11 seasons as a big leaguer moonlighting for seven clubs.  Most notably, Billy played seven seasons in the Bronx and won four World Series rings as a Yankee.

This happens to be Martin's final card as a player. He reappeared in the 1969 Topps set (card No. 547) as Minnesota's manager.  Pictured here in a Twins uni, Martin played 108 games for Minnesota in 1961.  As the back of the card notes, Billy was "sold to the Twins" after beginning the '61 season as a member of the Milwaukee Braves.  Martin's final big league campaign resulted in a .242 BA with 26 XBH and 36 RBIs over 360 ABs.

Great info on the back of this card.  We're informed that Martin set a Fall Classic record by "rapping out 12 hits in 6 games" in the '53 Subway Series versus Brooklyn.  If that weren't impressive enough, the cartoon caption states that Billy compiled a .333 average in 28 career World Series contests.  Talk about a Mr. October, right?!

Okay, so what does card No. 208 in the 2011 Heritage set bring us?

2011 Heritage, #208

Wellp, they're both second basemen and they both hit right-handed.  Otherwise, I can't see an obvious connection between Rickie Weeks and Billy Martin.  (If I'm missing something obvious, feel free to chime in!)  I can definitely appreciate how Topps captured Weeks in the follow through of his practice swing, reminiscent of Martin's vintage '62 card.

But, whereas Martin's career was at its end, here we find Weeks still very much in the prime of his.  The Florida native had just completed a career season in 2010, bashing 29 homers in a league-leading 651 ABs as Milwaukee's leadoff man.  The backside cartoon highlights Weeks' propensity for leading off games with a bang: "Rickie has led off 10 games with a home run in his career."  By contrast, Billy Martin totaled but 64 homers for his career, including a career-high 15 for the Yanks in 1953.

The Final Say:  A little bit let down by my first foray outside the 1963/2012 universe.  Don't get me wrong; both of these cards a great-looking pieces of cardboard.  But I guess I was hoping for a more impactful parallel between vintage and current.  Anyhow, Billy gets the upper hand here.  Weeks has the power, but Martin has the hardware.


Previous "Fun with Heritage" features:
3rd Edition
2nd Edition

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Brick in the Wall(ach)

You see what I did there with the title?  The whole Pink Floyd meets under-appreciated Expos third baseman from the '80s, and....

Okay, sorry.

Anyhow, it's been a few days since my last post.  My apologies, but it's been pretty busy here at Clubhouse HQ in beautiful New Castle County, Del.  Oh, you know, Christmas preparations and such.  Mother K came down for a visit Saturday, etc etc.

But, you didn't ask, did you?

Oh, so back to my clever title.  At the last local card show, I came across a dime-box Tim Wallach reprint.  It's funny how the blog universe changes things, because before blogging I would've tossed that fish back into the water.  But, that is an unthinkable act now that I know of the Tim Wallach blog.  So, it came home with me and then got stuffed in an envelope marked for New Mexico and the law offices of Mr. Stackhouse.

In return, I got a handsome five-card lot of N.Y. Mets.

Including a glittery and glitzy David Wright...

I'm glad the Flushing brain trust inked David to a lucrative extension.  Is he really worth the dollar amount he will receive?  Especially for a team that will likely finish fourth again?  Probably not, but in a day and age where players change teams more than they change their toothbrushes, I'm glad David -- a true homegrown star -- will be in the Mets lineup for a long time to come.  He's a top notch person and a pretty darn good ballplayer to boot.

I kinda wish Jose Reyes was still in the Queens equation, too.  I figured he and David would be partners in crime for a lot longer than they were.  But, after a year in Miami, he'll now be taking his talents north of the border this spring.  Hey, at least he's out of the NL East.

Anyways, Jose is still one of my all-time favorites.  And thanks to Mr. Stackhouse I have two more cards of Reyes to add to the collection...

Really dig both of these.  Can't go wrong with the retro Topps inserts, right?

And to top off the very generous return from Wallach blog, are a pair of 2009 OPC black parallels...

Ya know, I really like the cards from this set.  A lot.  In fact, I've considered attacking this set on numerous occasions.  Great retro design, super photography.  A real winner, in my opinion.  My local card shop has had hobby boxes of O-Pee-Chee on "special" for months now.  And every time I'm in there I stare at the boxes for a few moments before going "meh" and moving on.  I guess I just don't want to commit myself to another set pursuit.  I'd rather put my monetary resources into furthering my Heritage quest.

Thanks for the great cards, Mr. Stackhouse!  And you folks out there remember to send your Tim Wallach cards and other tchotchkes to the good lawyer out there in the desert.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Public Service Announcement

Attention, attention!

In case none of your wonderful, well-intentioned coworkers or gazillions of Facebook friends told you already, today's date is December 12, 2012.

Otherwise known as...

If you got married today, congrats.

We may now all return to our normal lives, which were otherwise occupied by the Mayan calendar countdown to destruction.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Have You Met...?

[Ed. Note: Hiya gang.  I figured a good way to show some love to the non-superstar players in my Mets collection would be to occasionally feature a card at random.  So, I'll just blindly pluck a card from one of my Mets boxes and let 'er rip.  Hopefully I can be consistent and make this a semi-regular feature.  You know, just for laughs...]

Today's Have You Met...? comes courtesy of a 2004 Donruss set called "Team Heroes."  Not familiar in the least with this product, but I checked it out via The Trading Card Database.  Looks like each team's checklist features an assortment of established players, up-and-comers, and one or more retired representatives.  In the Mets' case, Keith Hernandez and Nolan Ryan fill the bill in the latter designation.

Anyhow, here we have second baseman Danny Garcia, card No. 267.  On the back of the card, we are informed that Danny singled twice and scored a run in his ML debut, a 3-1 Mets victory over Atlanta on September 2, 2003.  Garcia appeared in 19 games for the Mets in '03, totaling 12 hits in 56 ABs (.214) and stroking a pair of homers.

For a brief second, some Mets fans felt that Garcia could be an answer on the infield for the Amazins.  At the very least in a utility capacity.  Then those fans -- myself included -- woke up, I guess.  Garcia batted .232 in 58 games for N.Y. in 2004, his final year in the Majors.  He has the distinction of being one of the seven human beings who played at least three games at the second sack for the Mets in '04.  Garcia's 44 nods were tops on a list that also included the likes of Joe McEwing, Jeff Keppinger and Ricky Gutierrez.

Garcia was last seen playing independent ball for the Somerset (N.J.) Patriots of the Atlantic League in 2007.

The Mets' second base position, meanwhile, continues to be a mash-up of mediocrity.

Well, not a very uplifting way to begin this feature, but certainly fitting for a franchise bejeweled with a proud history of lovable losers.

See ya next time!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Picture Speaks Volumes

One of the great things about baseball cards -- and there are many to list -- is that they can transmit a multitude of thoughts and feelings and emotions just via the image they contain.

The above card is a prime example.  I wouldn't need to pen you a 1,000 word essay to convey the meaning behind Pete Rose's nickname.  I'd simply have to produce a copy of this '77 Topps card and suddenly the "Charlie Hustle" alias comes to life in more vivid reality than any grouping of words could ever hope to accomplish.

It's pretty cool to come across a card like this, one that encapsulates the soul of a ballplayer.  And maybe there are other Rose cards out there that do an even better job of capturing the essence of the man between the lines. I dunno.  But, I was recently going through some of my vintage cards, and I was really struck by this one.  I guess I forgot how great a card it is.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cognac and Gold

With apologies to Mr. Burl Ives, a recent trade package I received got me thinking about one of my favorite childhood Christmas specials.  Of course, that would be none other than whimsical Rankin/Bass production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I'm sure you all recall Ives' "Sam the Snowman" character from the holiday special, as he narrates and sings his way through Rudolph's passion play.  A pretty trippy experience to say the least.  Well, one of the ol' snowman's tunes was "Silver and Gold".  Not the biggest hit in the Ives repertoire, but it kinda sticks with you whether you like it or not.  And worse, it tends to pop up when you're definitely not in the mood for it.  For instance, when you're trying to unravel a very long and uncooperative strand of lights and your blood pressure is on the rise and beads of sweat are building on your brow...  Boom!  There goes Burl crooning about Silver and Gold.

Or is that just me?

Anyhow, back to the trade package.  It comes from one of the best baseball card bloggers God ever graced us with, Nick from Dime Boxes.

And in this was package was, well, not exactly Silver and Gold.  And no snowman with a 'stache and goatee, either.  Fine by me, my blood pressure doesn't need the spike.

On the contrary, this particular trade package was pure pleasure, and it was rife with the next best thing to Silver and Gold.

Cognac and Gold.

As in 2011 Topps Update Cognac...

...and 2012 Topps Update Gold.

I may be in the minority with the Cognac cards.  I've had a thing for them the moment I saw them.  I'm hoarding as many of them as I can get my mitts on.  This year's Gold parallels are fine, too.  Especially if they happen to be Mets.  Or Los Mets, in Manny Acosta's case.

But, perhaps more precious than Silver, Cognac or Gold is a short print hidden in a dime box.  And, Nick did right by me in this regard, too.

A nice addition to my 2011 Topps Heritage SP collection is this Clayton Richard card.  True to his blog's name, Nick informed me he plucked this from a ten-center.  And now he's passed the joy onto me.  Outstanding!

Some big help for my player collections came in this package, also.

Next to Keith Hernandez, John Olerud is my favorite first baseman from the annals of Mets baseball.  Unfortunately he didn't stick around Queens long enough for my liking.  Just three short seasons, all of which he wielded the bat and the glove like a true pro.  Then it was onto Seattle and eventually the (gag) Yankees. No matter the uniform he's sporting, I love getting new cards of Johnny O.

Speaking of love...

I love Butch Huskey and Butch Huskey cards.  That's pretty much all I have to say on this topic.

And, you know who else I love?

This guy.  Great shot of Todd launching one during Spring Training with the Cubbies.  This was most likely a 490-foot foul ball.  Still an awesome shot.

Oh, back to Mets first basemen for a sec.  Another guy who is certainly up there on my list is Carlos Delgado...

This is from the 2004 Donruss set, which features a pretty boring design but lots of  neat photography.  Like this.

And, I can never ignore a great Vladimir Guerrero card...

Nick, a fellow Vlad collector, made sure to include a host of great cards of this future HOFer.

I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to swap cards with Nick on two occasions now.  And I'll definitely look forward to the next time.

Silver, Gold, Cognac or otherwise.