Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shiny Things

At the last hotel card show I hardly bought anything for my collection (outside of the big ol' lot of '70 Topps). But I did do something I hadn't done there in a long time. I ventured around the meeting room scrounging through tables looking for 'stuff'. No specific goal, just 'stuff'. Normally I camp out at the promoter's table where he has some great cheap vintage or in the hallway where he sets up his dime and dollar boxes.

In a box of new and relatively new '25 cents or 5 for a buck' cards I found these two which caught my eye. They are 2004 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic base cards. I've discovered that UD loved to make neat stuff using old photos that didn't show up in every other set, put a bunch of foil on them and then give the sets unwieldy names.

I don't have anything to say about these except that I found the checklist and the apparently numbered them using the players' first names in alphabetical order which is unusual. There are 161 of them including 71 which are given a FF notation that stands for Famous Firsts.

Here is a look at the back of the Campy card.

I might go find the Elston Howard card. I'm adding him to my list of player collections. More about that in another post.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Memorial Day Salute

Memorial Day is when we pay tribute to fallen heroes but on this one I'm saluting a living one who has dedicated his adult life to the service of his country. 

This Memorial Day is special because today at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina my cousin and friend Lt. Col. Drew Straley is retiring after a remarkable 30 year career serving his country in the United States Marines. He made numerous tours of duty in the Middle East during that time defending the freedoms we sometimes take for granted. Here's wishing him a happy retirement with many years to enjoy his wife and three daughters.

Lt. Col. Drew Straley

NOTE: Again on Memorial Day I thought I would reprint the post I made in each of the previous couple of years showing Eddie Grant, the first major league player to die in combat in the service of the United States.

The first major league player to die in the service of his country was Eddie Grant. With a law degree from Harvard he was quite unlike most of his contemporaries. It was said that instead of the usual "I got it!" called out when a player has a bead on a pop-up, Grant would shout "I have it!"

A native of Franklin, Massachusetts, he played 9 seasons of baseball with four different clubs, most notably the Phillies for whom he held down the regular third base job for most of four seasons, 1907 through 1910. Although only a .249 career hitter Grant nonetheless was able to lead the NL in singles in 1909 and 1910 and in hits overall in '09. A better fielder than hitter he finished near the top of several defensive categories when he was a regular.

Grant appeared in the 1913 World Series with the New York Giants as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. He left the game after the 1915 season to open a law practice in Boston.

He enlisted when his country called as we entered World War I in 1917. Wikipedia summarizes his Army service and the details of his death on the battlefield in France in 1918:

Grant was one of the first men to enlist when the United States entered World War I in April 1917, and he served as a Captain in the 77th Infantry Division. During the fierce battle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, all of Grant's superior officers were killed or wounded, and he took command of his troops on a four-day search for the "Lost Battalion." During the search, an exploding shell killed Grant on October 5, 1918. He was the first Major League Baseball player killed in action in World War I. He was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Lorraine, France.

This New York Times article (opens as a .pdf file) from October 22, 1918 relates the story in full.

I have the Eddie Grant T205 Gold Border (shown above) as well as his T206. The Gold Border cards are just a wonderful set and Grant's is a great portrait I think. Here are a few more pics and details from the life of Captain Eddie Grant found around the 'Net:

Here is the plaque that was installed in the Polo Grounds by the New York Giants to honor him.

It's position in the stadium is visible in this famous shot of Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series. It's on the left under the 483 distance marker.

And finally, Eddie Grant's grave marker in Lorraine, France. R.I.P. and Thanks for making the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, Capt. Grant.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Art of Gary Cieradkowski

I've brought up sports art a few times in the past. There is a lot of great stuff out there, and some (IMHO) not-so-great as well. One of my favorite sports artists is Gary Cieradkowski. I've referred to him before and one of his cards made my 30 Day Baseball Challenge on Twitter.

He is a card blogger (he draws his own of course) and has authored/illustrated a great book. He recently made available his latest project, the Spring 2017 edition of 21: Illustrated Journal of Outsider Baseball. I received my copy a week or two ago and am enjoying it very much. I scanned the cover....

...but I wasn't about to subject it to breaking the spine in my scanner so I took some photos of the inside pages to post here. Not as satisfying as a scan but they will give you an idea of how nice it really is. You can click to enlarge. Enjoy:

This Steve Bilko article is my favorite. Such a neat story. Great portrait as well.

I hope you get the idea from these pics.

And along with my copy came a card of a young, Baltimore Oriole-era Babe Ruth. That's it up top. The reverse is scan worthy.

Outside of commenting on major brand card releases as we all do I don't often write a post 'promoting' anything. But I've enjoyed Cieradowski's work so much I felt the need to put this up for everyone's enjoyment.

Great stuff!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dollar Tree packs..Part 2

Second round of the Dollar Tree '30 for $1' packs. Like before it's a mix of stars on nice designs, nobodies on bad designs, stars on dull designs and nobodies on nice designs. You Follow?*

Hey, how cool is that? The first Oriole I pull is Cal Jr. on a really nice Donruss card! OK, so someone just sent me this card not long ago. That's fine. I have a couple of Orioles binders it fits into.

This pack didn't have many really sharp cards. But we got some stars and guys that interested me. The meteoric Tim Lincecum for example. The days of the Giants being 'my' NL team are long past. So I never had a reason to root for him but I did. He was fun to watch for those four years he was at the top of his game. I watched him pitch last year against the Astros in a game my son attended out in Anaheim. It was hard see him struggle.

And there was an '88 Donruss Canseco. I was OK with that year's Donruss design.

From that same set comes Paul Molitor. He's paired with an '87 John Kruk.The same Kruk card came in another pack.

I'd forgotten that Molitor is currently managing the Twins. After we got home from the Astros game on Sunday the weather turned lousy so I found the Royals and Twins on MLB.tv and was able to catch an incredible sequence involving a Royals dinger, a flubbed catch of that homer by a fan and epic trolling by Torii Hunter and the Twins broadcasting network.

Check it out here. I can't find a better video although I'm still trying. What that vid doesn't show is that the broadcasters (Hunter in particular) and camera guys never let up on the kid. They showed him taking a selfie and Hunter cackled something like "Hashtag it 'I suck!' The guy walked around the outfield stands after his 'error' and the broadcast followed his every step. They even sent the roaming reporter to interview him as they replayed his flub endlessly. I found it funny but at the same time you had to feel for the kid. Hunter later sent him down a signed ball and the Twins Network gave him $100 in lottery tickets.

Next up is Craig Lefferts and Dwight Evans on mid-80s Donruss and Topps. I know I had a reason to scan these but I can't recall it now.

Below on the Score card is the guy who probably gets a lot of requests to sign cards of recent Cardinals star pitcher C-H-R-I-S Carpenter. This guy was a reliever and came along just prior to the Cardinals' star and had no 'h' in his first name. I also got another card from this Donruss design that I found I liked. This one is Jimmy Rollins.

Finishing up with a couple of Reds..KGJ and Pete Rose.

So all-in-all a decent enough pack. Worth a buck for sure.

And now on to the next pack. #4 of the six I bought.....

Two nice looking cards to start off with. A Panini Classics from 2014. This Lloyd Waner is the only Panini I pulled I believe. He's paired with another card of Carlos Delgado. This from the SP set that produced the Alomar card in the first group of packs.

There were a bunch of Mets in this pack. I was never a fan of those unis with 'racing stripes' down the shoulders. That Livan Hernandez card from 2007 reminds me that the '07 cards are all mysteries to me. It's one of the few sets that I didn't even buy one pack of at Wal Mart or target as I usually did. I wasn't collecting then, or even following the game, but I was always curious as to what the cards looked like in hand.

Pet peeve of mine is cards like that Finest of Chuck Finley that have the cello across the front. His scanning partner is a Mets prospect Satoru Komiyami who went 0-2 in 25 games in 2002. That's a nice Fleer from that season though.

Mike Piazza and Alan Trammell. Piazza, of course, made the Hall of Fame in '16 in his fourth year on the ballot. Trammell missed in his last shot on the writer's ballot last year. He got 40% and will have to wait for some of the other committees to consider him. Looking at the bottom of his Baseball Reference page it says he is higher in WAR than the average HOF shortstop and is over 100 on Bill James HoF Monitor (100 meaning he's a likely Hall member). Read into that what you will.

This Eric Munson 2001 Stadium Club combines a player I don't know with a set I've never seen. It's a terrific card though. The Vince Coleman Diamond King is one of Dick Perez' better efforts i think. To me he's either very good or outright awful on his DKs. Then again I am far from an art expert.

I decided to peel the cello from the Finley card. I was able to do it without dinging the card with my Exacto blade. MUCH better! It's a real beauty in hand. The scan doesn't do it justice.

So four packs in I'm happy with what I got for my money. Two packs left. I'll hold off on those for a few days. I have some other posts I'm working on that are overdue for publishing.

*Tip of the cap to Robert Shaw as Doyle Lonnegan.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

First of the Dollar Tree packs

Trips to a couple of different Dollar Tree stores yielded a total of six of their '30 Cards for $1' repacks. I'm not going to post every card and I'm sure not going to cram all 6 packs into one post.

I'll do a couple at a time and I only scanned the cards that interested me. That varied wildly from pack to pack. This first pack brought me two shiny cards of current big leaguers. Up top you see Ryan Braun and Corey Kluber. Right off the bat I had two cards that I could use in my fantasy baseball binder. Both guys had cards there already but I value variety and these chrome-ish cards easily boot Braun's Topps base card from a couple of years ago and Kluber's '17 Heritage.

Roy Oswalt and his rather awkward follow through grace this Fleer card. I scanned the Pacific card of  Roberto Hernandez simply because it's an attractive card.

It;s the Crime Dog and Kirby Puckett. I think each pack I opened had at least one 1990 Donruss.

Josh Hamilton in his pre-tattoo days on a '01 Stadium Club. Fuji's pal Jose Canseco on a Donruss Gland Slammers which I take to be some sort of oddball. A boxed set maybe?

Lee Smith and Chili Davis because Lee Smith was a bad ass and 'Chili' may be the best first name ever printed on a baseball card.

Carlos Delgado hit almost 500 homers in the bigs during a career I missed almost completely. I wasn't watching baseball from '96 through about 2010. Until I flipped over this card you could have told me he had 8 career homers and I'd have believed you.

I appreciate the art of photographing baseball team pics. And I love the traditional team card. But this one with the Angels behind a cloth covered railing or whatever the hell that is is just stupid.

Chris Bosio pitched a no-hitter in 1993 and is currently the Cubs' pitching coach. He got into hot water with his comments about Eric Thames in April.

I like this Donruss Gabe Kapler card. Never seen this design before.

I think I got a minor leaguer or two in each pack. I remember when Star was pumping out minor league sets like Pez.

Upper Deck makes an appearance, as does Frank White.

This Stadium Club card of Kerry Wood is the only card I came across that could be labeled as having a defect. It's impossible to see in the scan but the shiny coating is dulled on about the right 2/3 of this one.

For the curious here is the 'header' card that comes in each sealed cello pack. I'd never heard of PressTine before. .

Oddly Dollar Tree also has the 5 for $1 repacks available. Go figure. And...and this will whet your appetite for a Dollar Tree run...they sell ONE DOLLAR STEAKS!!!! Check it out:

The stores I visited didn't have this banner but both had window posters advertising the $1 ribeyes. I was too shy to snap a photo but I found this picture online. I likewise couldn't find a frozen foods section in either store and there was no way I was going to ask about the steaks. Luckily for all of us a gutsy reporter in Buffalo threw himself on the sword and actually tried one. His funny report can be found here.

Now, on to the 2nd pack...

For this pack I just took the top 12 cards and scanned them in pairs. here are Jack 'Best Pitcher Not In The Hall' Morris and Ian Kennedy. I scanned Kennedy because his card will go into my FBB binder.

Adam Everett and medical miracle Tommy John. I'm curious...what did they call the procedure he had before he had it?

Dusty Baker and Roberto Alomar. Probably the best cards in the pack. We need more cards of managers pointing, don't we? And the Alomar card is really, really nice looking.

I dunno what this NL East Origins card is, I forgot to look at the back when I scanned it. The Matt Lawton card is just here because I like this Fleer design.

I still mix up Jack and Will Clark.

Darren Daulton and another young, tat-free Josh Hamilton. Daulton wrote a book a decade ago. Here is the Amazon description:

“If They Only Knew” is about the interesting world of the metaphysical and the author’s beliefs and personal experiences with it. Daulton delves into issues of ascension, such as dimensions and levels of consciousness, the Mayan Calendar and December 21, 2012, creating one's own reality and a lot more. The book's message is clear - Open your mind to new ideas and know that there is more to our life than only what we can see, feel and touch!
Well alrighty then!

There they are, the first two $1 card pack and a steak buying tip. Would I recommend the card packs? Yes!! Despite no Orioles I thought the packs were well worth a buck if only for the rip action.

Would I recommend the steaks? Hell NO!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Beach Boys and Lea Michele at Dollar Tree???

I made a stop at a Dollar Tree store not long ago and hit their card rack. I grabbed a handful of their '30 cards for a dollar' repacks and had fun opening them. But maybe just as much fun were the off-the-wall things they had kicking around in small plastic tubs off to the side. For a buck I had to pick up a few. I may or may not post the soccer and hoops packs but I for sure wanted to scan and post these.

First up...the Beach Boys? Yes America's 60s era surfing, singing stars. I was a big fan back in the day. I'm not much on listening to nostalgic music now but every once in awhile I'll flip my Sirius radio over to '60s on 6 for a day of  these guys, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Dave Clark Five, etc.

These cards were about what you'd expect...an uneven mix of solo 'action' pictures, group shots and publicity stills turned into cards.

I wish I'd have gotten a card of the enigmatic BB founder and leader Brian Wilson. Growing up he always appeared to be a bit 'odd' from a distance. We never were aware of the issues he faced in his life. He was the driving force behind 'Pet Sounds', one of the great albums of all time.

Not much to say about these. I didn't scan the backs (the print is tiny!) but they generally described the front picture. This one below is a shot from their early days as The Pendletones.

Without looking for a checklist I'm guessing there are cards for their hits and albums.

Kind of fun stuff for me as I'm familiar with the group but I'd bet the packs sit there at Dollar Tree for quite awhile. I don't see the patrons as a target market for these. 

Another Panini product on the shelf was one that was more familiar to me...Americana. I'm pretty sure I have a few cards from prior releases but this is the first time I've come across the 2015 version. 

First card out of the pack and we have a winner!

My wife always wondered why I'd sit and watch Glee with her from time to time. She probably thought it was an attempt to be a good husband. Let's let her keep believing that, shall we?

I also got cards of these two guys.

I'll plead guilty to the charge of being Hip Hop ignorant and admit I knew Run-DMC was a big deal but knew zip about them. I had no idea that the named was tied to these guys.

Back to the ladies....

Dorothy Lamour...pretty hot movie starlet from the 30s and 40s.

The rest of the pack contained Erkel (Jaleel White...who knew?) and three other superfluous folks.

My new policy is that cheap stuff like this that I don't want goes in the trash. So Lea and Dorothy, welcome to the non-sports binder. The rest of you...Adios!

Speaking of adios...I also bought a pack of 2017 Score football. Turned out to be one of the worst packs of sports cards I ever remember opening. I couldn't be bothered scanning these individually. They are presented here for your disdain.

All in all I spent about $10 on the baseball repacks and assorted odds and ends in the Dollar Tree card display. I'm working on a post about the baseball cards. those were more fun than these.