25 May 2016

Ralston Purina 1987 Collectors' Edition

     1987 saw a ramping up by a variety of companies using baseball cards as an enticement for purchasing their product.  Popcorn, breakfast cereal, iced tea and even the big mac & cheese lobby would get into the baseball card printing act.  Three years after their "First Annual" card set, the Ralston Purina Company produced a new set of 15 cards, in packs of three, buried in specially marked boxes of regular and vanilla Cookie-Crisp, and the less well known test run of Honey Graham Chex.

     Along with the cards was an instant win card for a "Win A Hero For A Day" contest.  There were apparently separate contest for Cookie Crisp and for Honey Graham Chex as the prize enumerations are different on each box.  From the Cookie Crisp rules, the grand prize being a visit from "a baseball hero" to your school or a Little League game.  Other prizes were 500 Rawlings gloves; 1,000 personalized Louisville Slugger bats; 10,000 Rawlings baseballs and 100,000  complete uncut sheets of the card set.  From the Honey Graham Chex rules, the grand prize being a visit from "a baseball hero" to your school or a Little League game (meaning there were actually two chances at this). The other prizes were 100 Rawlings gloves; 200 personalized Louisville Slugger bats; 500 Rawlings baseballs and 25,000 complete uncut sheets of the card set.

     As mentioned in an earlier post, lots of sets produced by Michael Schechter Associates (MSA) for various companies were also available in poster or sheet form as a mail-in offer.  If you weren't lucky enough to win one of the 125,000 posters, you could purchase one by sending in two non-winning game cards and $1 to Ralston Purina.  One has to wonder if the posters available for purchase came from the 125,000 instant win stash, or if there was a separate run of posters just for that.  I have to think it was all the same print run as I can't imagine Ralston Purina really thinking they would have to redeem 125,000 posters and still have people ordering more.

1987 Cookie Crisp Limited Edition Collectors' Sheet
1987 Honey Graham Chex Limited Edition Collectors' Sheet
     As with all of the previous MSA uncut sheets, a variation of the card set was introduced as collectors began to chop up the sheets into individual cards.  The actual cards were printed on gray cardstock, similar to that used for the cereal boxes.  The posters were printed on a lighter, beige cardstock and were missing the "1987 COLLECTORS' EDITION" wording on the left side of the crossed bats on front.  So, again, not a "RARE VARIATION", just a piece of a chopped-up poster.

     An interesting bit of text on the side of the box partially reveals the print run for this set.  The official rules for the promotion says of the prizes, "A total of 111,501 instant win prizes are available to be won in 3 million boxes of Cookie Crisp brand cereal."  It then goes on to list the prizes, totals and odds of winning.  As the cards were issued three per box, that means at least 9,000,000 cards were issued.  Assuming all cards were issued in equal numbers, that puts each card at a print run of no less than 600,000 cards.  The rules also mention that any unclaimed prizes would never be awarded, which invites the assumption that the unredeemed card sheets were eventually destroyed (assuming they didn't make it out the back door of the warehouse), so there are likely far fewer than the mentioned 100,000 sheets in circulation.  And that's just including the cards issued with Cookie Crisp.

[UPDATE - 25 May 2016]

     I finally found a Honey Graham Chex box and, as suspected, it had a smaller run than Cookie Crisp. The official rules for the promotion says of the prizes, "A total of 25,801  instant win prizes are available to be won in 1 million boxes of Honey Graham Chex brand cereal."  It then goes on to list the prizes, totals and odds of winning.  As the cards were issued three per box, that means at least 3,000,000 more cards were issued to cover the Chex production run.  Assuming all cards were issued in equal numbers, that puts each card at a print run of no less than 200,000 cards each.

    Combining the two products therefore gives us a total print run of actual cards as 800,000 per card and 125,000 posters.

     Both sets and uncut sheets are still readily available for cheap on eBay, usually under $10.  The checklist is as follows:

Card # Player Team
1 Nolan Ryan Houston Astros
2 Steve Garvey San Diego Padres
3 Wade Boggs Boston Red Sox
4 Dave Winfield New York Yankees
5 Don Mattingly New York Yankees
6 Don Sutton California Angels
7 Dave Parker Cincinnati Reds
8 Eddie Murray Baltimore Orioles
9 Gary Carter New York Mets
10 Roger Clemens Boston Red Sox
11 Fernando Valenzuela Los Angeles Dodgers
12 Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Orioles
13 Ozzie Smith St. Louis Cardinals
14 Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies
15 Ryne Sandberg Chicago Cubs

20 May 2016

More Team Issue Photo Card Goodness

     As I haven't really posted about these in while, I thought it was time to catch up with what the various MLB teams have been providing at the autograph lines at their annual fan fest events and in fan packs.  The lists here will be works in progress as I am able to find more to add.

Houston Astros

     For 2015, the Astros produced a very nice, clean design for their photo cards featuring a mix of current and former players.  Some cards have uniform numbers, some don't.  The back is mostly black with a phone number to call for Astros game tickets.
From The Quest for 660 blog
0 L.J. Hoes
6 Jake Marsnick
9 Marwin Gonzalez
11 Evan Gattis
12 Max Stassi
19 Robbie Grossman
21 John Singleton
27 Jose Altuve
28 John Singleton
37 Pat Neshek
66 Kevin Chapman
NNO Mark Appel
NNO A.J. Hinch
NNO Art Howe
NNO John Hudek
NNO Colin Moran
NNO J.R. Richard
NNO Asher Wojciechowski

      The Astros marketing folks spiced up the cards a bit for 2016, putting the players' names in an orange banner across the bottom of the card.

6 Jake Marsnick
12 Max Stassi
27 Jose Altuve
31 Colin McHugh
43 Lance McCullers
53 Ken Giles

Philadelphia Phillies

     The Phillies have been producing these 4"x 6" cards for years, usually as complete sets as stadium giveaways or for purchase at the merchandise stand.  As with most years, this set is fairly comprehensive, weighing in at 40 cards, including coaches.

2 Tyler Goeddel
3 David Lough
4 Andres Blanco
5 Steve Henderson (coach)
6 Ryan Howard
7 Maikel Franco
8 Juan Samuel (coach)
9 John McLaren (coach)
10 Larry Bowa (coach)
12 Mickey Morandini (coach)
13 Freddy Galvis
15 Emmanuel Burriss
16 Cesar Hernandez
17 Peter Bourjos
18 Darin Ruff
22 Bob McClure (coach)
24 Darnell Sweeney
25 Cody Asche
27 Aaron Nola
28 Vince Velasquez
29 Cameron Rupp
30 David Hernandez
33 Rick Kranitz (coach)
34 Brett Oberholtzer
37 Odubel Herrera
38 Andrew Bailey
39 Adam Morgan
40 James Russell
44 Edward Mujica
45 Pete Mackanin (manager)
46 Jeanmar Gomez
47 Charlie Morton
48 Jerad Eickhoff
51 Carlos Ruiz
53 Daniel Stumpf
57 Luis Garcia
58 Jeremy Hellickson
62 Bobby LaFramboise
94 Dalier Hinojosa
NNO Phillie Phanatic

16 May 2016

1984 Greensboro Hornets Team Photo

   Once again, a chance eBay search strikes gold for one of my player collections.  I had no idea this existed, but I am now the proud owner of a 1984 Greensboro Hornets team photo, likely a stadium giveaway, sponsored by Goodys, makers of what are purported to be fine headache powders.  It measures 8"x 10" and is printed in color on thin, glossy paper.

    In 1984, Greensboro was a Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees in the South Atlantic League.  Of course, I picked this beauty up because a very young Roberto Kelly is featured in the second row, but as it happens, he is sitting right next to a young Cuban pitching prospect, one Osvaldo Canseco.

     There are a handful of other players in the photo that managed to reach the majors, to include Mitch Lyden, Brad Arnsberg, Bill Fulton and Mike Armstrong, and coach Bob Veale.  Also pictured, in the fourth row is current, beleaguered manager of the Atlanta Braves, Fredi Gonzalez, and in the second row, peaking over Ozzie cap is none other than Steve George.

"Steve who," you say?

Steve George!

This guy, masquerading as Al Leiter on a 1988 Topps card:

03 April 2016

Checklist Translations: 2008 TSC Sinon Bulls [In Progress]

      In 2008, for the second year TSC (Taiwan Sports Cards) issued a pack-based set for the Sinon Bulls.  The set featured 108 base cards, facsimile autographed parallels, and the usual smattering of autographs, photo cards (and memorabilia cards.  A subset, as card number 109, featured 200 different cards, each limited to 24 copies, dedicated to Tai-Shan Chang's 200 career home runs.

More details to come.

The set is described in this blog post:

The base set, parallels and examples of most of the inserts can be see here:

The standard base card front and back:

15 March 2016

1987 Smokey Bear 38th Annual Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner

     Returning to the "I've never heard of that set" department, I present this set from 1987, apparently sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and presumably handed out at the 38th Annual Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner.  The Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner, now officially the Hot Stove Gala, began in 1948, started by a gentleman by the name of Al Radka, as a fundraiser for local charities.  1990 was the first interruption after 41 years, when the function was cancelled on account of the expense of bringing in big name players (who had donated their time in years past).

     In 2003, the Fresno Grizzlies brought it back and established the Al Radka Award to bestowe on individuals who have made important contributions to local Fresno sports.  The 55th Annual event was just held this past February, with Tony DeFrancesco, manager of the 2015 Triple-A National Champion Fresno Grizzlies as the guest speaker.

     These cards are 4"x 6", feature black and white photos and fire prevention tips (or cheesy slogans) on the back in the form of cartoons.  The design is very similar to the 1987 Fire Prevention Team set which featured a much more prominent line-up of contemporary All-Stars.  For this set, it appears some, if not all, of the photos have been recycled from other cards or publicity photos.  The Rudy May photo was clearly copied from the 1983 Yankees Photo Album.

     The set is almost entirely comprised of players from West Coast teams or those simply from the West Coast, namely Rex Hudler, who wouldn't play in California until joining the Angels in 1994, but had been a local Fresno high school standout and Ron Robinson, who would never play on the West Coast, but was drafted out of Woodlake High School in Woodlake, California (about an hour southeast of Fresno).  This set caught my eye because it included a previously unknown (to me) card of Dave Henderson.  While Hendu is shown in a Boston cap, at the time of the Dinner, he had already been traded from Boston to San Francisco, granted free agency, and signed by Oakland.

     As of this posting, copies of the set are still available on eBay.  The checklist is currently assumed to be complete.  Scans of all cards are available at the Trading Card Database.

Smokey Bear
Mike Aldrete
Chris Codiroli
Dave Henderson
Rick Honeycutt
Rex Hudler
Reggie Jackson
Wally Joyner
Bill Krueger
Don Larsen
Rudy May
Bob Melvin
Tom Niedenfuer
Ron Robinson
Steve Sax
Dave Stewart
Franklin Stubbs
Jim Wohlford

20 February 2016

Bam-Bam & Tuffy Mailday: This Card Is Cool Edition

     I'd been out of town all week for work and was anticipating some exciting mail when I got home.  In what has become one of my favorite online trading experiences, with RyanG of This Card Is Cool, I send him semi-random junk for his type-card collection, and he sends me stacks of pure Japanese awesomeness!  He included a brief note:

     Very eager: check!  Update want lists: check!

     It is increasingly difficult to find new cards to add to my Sir Hensley Meulens collection.  Before these new additions, my Meulens want list was down to just seven cards (of which, one may not exist).  Now it is down to five (or maybe four for existential reasons).

2013 BBM Legendary Foreigners 2 Deep Impact Silver Signature #42 /100

2013 BBM Legendary Foreigners 2 Deep Impact Red Signature #42 /30

     Feels kind of awesome to own a Hensley Meulens card numbered to just 30.  If I can track down the gold signature (numbered to 50), I'll have the whole rainbow for this set.  Then it's just back to waiting for an affordable copy of his autographed card (numbered to 48) to show up to have the clean sweep of all of Sir Bam-Bam's Japanese cards.

    Ryan also sent some major additions to my Tuffy Rhodes collection, which has been a touch stagnant in the past year.  Well this is quite the revival.

2002 Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes Team Issue
     I had discovered something like a half dozen team issued cards of Tuffy with the Buffaloes, but this beauty was not one of them.  I love how these keep turning up and I super love that Ryan found one for me!  2002 is a guess on my part, but all of the 2003 cards I have seen actually say 2003 on them.  Could be 2000 or 2001, but I'm sticking with 2002 until proven wrong.

2003 DyDo Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes Team Issue w/Norihiro Nakamura
    Yet another team/sponsor issued card of which I was completely unaware.  Tuffy shares the card with fellow B's slugger Norihiro Nakamura.  It would appear this was given out during a two game series vs. Hanshin on 22-23 March 2003.

2008 Lotte Bikkuriman Pro Baseball Seals #17

    I've been trying to pick up this little foil beauty since it was issued.  Each year, Lotte issues their Bikkuriman Seals (stickers) with little chocolate wafers.  Usually they are anime-type characters, but a few times they issued baseball sets.  I think 2008 was actually the last time they issued a baseball-themed set featuring actual players. These are 2" x 2" squares.  I find it curious that while Japan, like most of the rest of the civilized world, uses the metric system, cards and stickers are still created using firmly standard measurements.

2013 BBM Legendary Foreigners 2 Deep Impact Title Holder Pink TH8 #/100

     Looks more purple in the scan, but the decorative trim is actually pink.  In the typical modern parallel overkill, there are four versions of this card, an unnumbered version with ugly gold(?) trim and parallels with trim in pink (/100), green (/50) and blue (/30).  I still need the green and blue.

2015 BBM 25th Anniversary #087

     It is something of a mixed blessing to collect such a big star in Japan.  On the one hand, it means he keeps getting new cards almost every year (but in no where near the quantities of, say, Dave Winfield), but it also means a lot of his cards can be pricy and out of reach for someone as cheap as me.  BBM is very big on anniversaries, and they seem to issue a set for every single anniversary that rolls around, be it league anniversaries, team anniversaries, event anniversaries or even its own company anniversaries.  This set commemorate's BBM's 25th anniversary issuing baseball cards.  Similar to the early Stadium Club sets from Topps, each card features the players' first BBM card on the reverse.

    Now on to the two new highlights of my entire Tuffy Rhodes collection:

2008 BBM Orix Buffaloes Memorabilia #BsM4 /300

2009 BBM Touch The Game Memorabilia #M02 /200

      Yes, indeed, these are my first two actual Tuffy memorabilia cards featuring actual pieces of bat in the actual card!  No non-game used shenanigans here, I can practically smell the home runs hit with these tiny chips of wood.  It's not that Tuffy's game used cards are really all that expensive, but I can just never find a single seller on Yahoo! Auctions Japan that is selling more than one at a time.  Pile on Kuboten fees, and I'd be paying an extra $12-15 per card on top of the actual sale price.  I just can't justify $25-50 for a single card.  But thanks to Ryan, I didn't have to.   Many, many thanks, Ryan!  These cards are not just cool, these cards are awesome!