17 October 2015

2015 Seattle Mariners 5" x 8" Photo Cards

Behold the latest addition to my Hendu collection!

     The Mariners have been pretty good about producing these over-sized photos for their yearly fanfest events, much like the Orioles, Rangers and Astros still do.  And as most teams do, the checklist is a mixture of current and former players and announcers, which is great for collectors of players who aren't getting any love from the big trading card companies.  This is the only way I ever see new cards of Dave Henderson, Roberto Kelly and Hensley Meulens, so I'm grateful.  I'd been watching this one for while, hoping the price would drop, but finally just snagged it to be done with the waiting.  As is often the case, it is very difficult to find clean copies of these cards without autographs.

     Below are the cards I have seen cross eBay this year, organized by uniform number where available.  This list almost matches the 2015 Mariners FanFest autograh appearance lineup exactly, so it is possible only individuals who were scheduled to appear had cards produced.

10 Dave Valle
16 Austin Jackson
32 Taijuan Walker
33 J.A. Happ
42 Dave Henderson
54 Tom Wilhelmsen
65 James Paxton
NNO John Hicks
NNO Alex Jackson
NNO Patrick Kivlehan
NNO DJ Peterson
NNO Stefan Romero
NNO Dave Sims (broadcaster)
NNO Carson Smith
NNO Chris Taylor

    Here is the list of those scheduled to appear back on 24 & 25 January 2015 for FanFest:

Current Stars
Nelson Cruz
Charlie Furbush
J.A. Happ
Austin Jackson
James Paxton
Fernando Rodney
Taijuan Walker
Tom Wilhelmson
Mike Zunino

Mariners Legends
Jay Buhner
Julio Cruz
Dave Henderson
Dave Valle
Dan Wilson
Mariner Moose

Future Stars
John Hicks
Alex Jackson
Patrick Kivlehan
D.J. Peterson

Other Special Guests
Lloyd McClendon
Jack Zduriencik

Mariners Broadcasters
Mike Blowers
Aaron Goldsmith
Rick Rizzs
Dave Sims

The following cards are similar in design, but lack the position at the bottom of the card, there is just a thin blue stripe.  I'm not sure of these are also 2015 issues.

Aaron Goldsmith (broadcaster)
James Jones
Dominic Leone

15 August 2015

Hobby Archaeology: 1991 O-Pee-Chee/Topps Pre-Production Sample Sheets

     I've covered this ground before, but it is not often that I'm able to add another item to my Hensley Meulens collection.  This post originates in yet another undocumented item that I just happened across on eBay.

     From 1971-1976, the O-Pee-Chee Company (often abbreviated to "OPC"), the Canadian firm that licensed with Topps to produce baseball cards for the Canadian market, issued sets that were nearly identical to Topps in design and card count. From 1977-1989, O-Pee-Chee issued sets that were usually half the card total of the Topps equivilent.  In 1990-1992, O-Pee-Chee briefly returned to issuing yearly sets that paralleled the entire Topps base set.  1992 would be the last Topps parallel set O-Pee-Chee would issue.

     As a preview of the 1991 sets, both Topps and O-Pee-Chee issued pre-production sample sheets showing off the design of the new Topps 40th anniversary set.  The sheets measure 7.5 inches by 10.5 inches, feature the full front representation of 9 cards from the upcoming set and a large advertisement for the set on the back.  Beckett does not recognize either set of pre-production samples and the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards only recognizes a single sheet for for O-Pee-Chee.  The single Topps sheet is different in that each has a separate back, and are often seen cut into individual cards.   Below are the sheets I have identified.  I do not know how many different sheets were issued.

1991 O-Pee-Chee Pre-Production Sample Sheets

NNO Sammy Sosa / Tommy Greene / Jeff Innis / Juan Samuel / Julio Valera / John McNamara / Darryl Strawberry AS / Pat Tabler / Chris Nabholz

NNO Barry Larkin / John Patterson / Jeff Kaiser / Rickey Henderson AS / Todd Hundley / Jeff Robinson / Rob Ducey / Steve Searcy / Juan Gonzalez

NNO Greg Colbrunn / Russ Swan / Ken Griffey Sr. / Matt Williams AS / Rex Hudler / Eric Davis / Jim Lefebvre / Alex Fernandez / Hensley Meulens

NNO Bill Bathe / Jeff Blauser / Jose Canseco AS / Wes Chamberlain / Norm Charlton / Mike Dunne / Craig Grebeck / Carmelo Martinez / Mike Scioscia AS

1991 Topps Pre-Production Sample Sheets

NNO Jose Canseco / Wade Boggs / Kirk Manwaring / Bo Jackson / Benito Santiago / Willie Randolph / Walt Weiss / Roger Clemens / Rickey Henderson

25 June 2015

1992 or 1993 New York Yankees postcard set (update)

UPDATE - 25 June 2015

     I'm now thinking this is actually two or three separate sets, or the set was issued continuously over two or three years.  This morning on eBay I caught an auction with previously unseen cards of Danny Tartabull in a portrait shot, another Kevin Maas with a different photo and a Roberto Kelly.  Kelly wasn't even on my radar for some reason, even though he was an All-Star for the Yankees in 1992, so I don't know why I was surprised.  Checking the same seller's completed auctions turned up another lot that included Buck Showalter, Mark Conner and new-to-me cards of Clete Boyer and Yankee Stadium.

UPDATE - 15 January 2013

I saw the Maas postcard on eBay, so the set is now up to 26.  I'm going to start posting images of each postcard as I find them so collectors might have a slightly better chance of recognizing them.  I suspect the black & white cards are copies of the originals, but until I find color versions, these are all I have to work with.
UPDATE - 09 December 2011

     A couple more of these showed up on eBay recently, but they are no help in narrowing the set down to a single year as all six individuals were with the team from 1992-93.

UPDATE - 04 December 2012

A much larger assortment of these has hit eBay, bring the checklist up to 25.  I finally have verification of most of the starters of the team.


     The postcard arrived today, all the way from Los Angeles. It was interesting to see that as soon as I got my shipping notice, the seller immediately had a second one posted for sale. Considering he said he was given these as a gift, and he only had the Meulens, Showalter and Howe, he probably has a stack of them from an in-person signing from way back when. I have to revise my date estimate to either 1992 or 1993 as those were the only years Meulens and Howe were on the team together with Showalter at the helm. By 1994, Meulens would be playing in Japan and out of the Yankees system altogether.

Here are the front and back together:

     No joy on Googling SPORTSPRINT/ATLANTA aside from more references to that 1994 Greenville Braves set. Ditto for the photographers and what was presumably the outfit that provided the photos.

03 June 2015

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.  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.

     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 100,000 posters, you could purchase one by sending in two non-winning game cards and $1 to Ralston Purina.  I have to assume there were separately identified contest cards for Cookie Crisp and Honey Graham Chex as there were uncut sheets branded for each.

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 also 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.  I'll update the numbers if I can find a good scan of the side of a Chex box.

     Both sets and uncut sheets are still readily available for cheap on eBay, usually under $10.

25 May 2015

Hobby Archaeology: 1979-1983 Coral-Lee Postcards

     The semi-recognized nature of the 1979-83 Coral-Lee Postcard set has bugged me for awhile. Mainly what bothered me was the seemingly random ordering of the checklist by Beckett. Oddly, Beckett no longer includes this set in their database at Beckett.com.

Here is what the checklist looked like as of the 2004 Beckett Almanac:

1 Dave Lopes
2 Billy Martin MG
3 Willie Mays / Ronald Reagan PRES / Ed Stack
4 Pete Rose /issued in 1979
5 George Steinbrenner OWN / Billy Margin MG / Reggie Jackson / Thurman Munson
6 Fernando Valenzuela / Jose Lopes Portillo PRES / Nancy Reagan
7 Dave Winfield /UER Name spelled Windfield
8 Carl Yastrzemski / Jimmy Carter PRES
9 Bobby Grich /Card numbered as number 8 on back
10 Reggie Jackson
11 Joe Morgan /Phillies
17 Lou Piniella /Batting

     According to Beckett, they just listed the cards alphabetically, which is clearly not the case. After browsing around eBay for about 5 minutes, it also becomes clear that this is not a single set, but a mish-mash of multiple sets stuffed under a single heading. Coral-Lee Postcards were issued for a very wide variety of subjects, sports just being a minor component of that. However, judging from the backs of the cards above, all but three of them were part of a specific C/L Sports set that had their own numbering, while those three in question were from two other sets entirely. And it's odd that they actually numbered Piniella as #17 (the actual number on the card) instead of 12.

     The first Standard Catalog edition I own that recognizes the set is from 2005 and didn't make quite the hash of it as did Beckett. According to SCD, cards 14 and higher are all larger format 4"x 6" while all the rest measure 3.5"x 5.5". It could be the 'C' indicates the larger cards. The SCD checklist is missing cards 13 & 17, but still includes the two 'Reagan set' cards as #69 (Mays) and #81 (Valenzuela).

In an hour or so, I've reconstructed the C/L Sports checklist as follows:

1 Pete Rose (Phillies)
2 Davey Lopes (Dodgers)
3 Dave Winfield (Yankees)
4 Billy Martin (Oakland)
5 Billy Martin / George Steinbrenner / Thurman Munson / Reggie Jackson
6 Reggie Jackson (Angels)
7 Bruce Kison (Angels)
8 Bobby Grich (Angels)
9 Rod Carew (Angels)
10 Tommy John (Angels)
11 Dick Howser
12 George Brett
13 Brooks Robinson
14-C Cal Ripken Jr.
15-C Carl Yastrzemski
16-C Joe Morgan (Phillies)
17-C Lou Piniella (Yankees)
18-C Graig Nettles (Yankees)
19-C Lyle Alzado (Raiders)
20-C Dan Marino (Dolphins)
21-C Cliff Branch (Raiders)
22-C Don Shula / Dan Marino (Dolphins)
23-C Joe Theismann (Redskins)
24-C John Riggins (49ers)
25-C Jim Plunkett (Raiders)
26-C Marcus Allen (Raiders)
27-C Joe Montana (49ers)
28-C Joe Namath (Jets)

     I'm not sure if this is complete, but I have completely re-worked the baseball checklist in the Inventory Manager over at SportsCardForum.com. The presence of the later football cards makes it clear this was intended as a multi-sport set and not just baseball.

     Of the three oddball cards, the Willie Mays and Fernando Valenzuela cards actually belong to a larger set about Ronald Reagan. The Carl Yastrzemski postcard is listed as "CL-LTD. SER#100/57" and seems to come from a Jimmy Carter postcard set.

22 May 2015

Hobby Archaeology: 1980 Chicago Tribune Sox & Cubs Scrapbook

     As they did in 1977, in 1980 the Chicago Tribune again issued series of quarter-page sized photos of  players, along with a limited set of statistics for the players' entire career.  The series kicked off on 22 June and was set to run until 17 July, concluding with the teams' managers, but it actually didn't finish until 18 July.  Maybe they missed someone and inserted a new pair of players or simply miscounted the number of days.  In any case, the series ran for 27 days and covered 52 players and both managers.  The complete checklist is below.

22 June - Edward Farmer (Sox) / Bruce Sutter (Cubs)

23 June - Chet Lemon (Sox) / Jerry Martin (Cubs)

24 June - Michael Squires (Sox) / Bill Buckner (Cubs)

25 June - Bruce Kimm (Sox) / Barry Foote (Cubs)

26 June - Thad Bosley (Sox) / Scot Thompson (Cubs)

27 June - Lamar Johnson (Sox) / Dave Kingman (Cubs)

28 June - Robert Molinaro (Sox) / Mike Vail (Cubs)

29 June - Richard Dotson (Sox) / Dennis Lamp (Cubs)

30 June - Ken Kravec (Sox) / Doug Capilla (Cubs)

01 July - Kevin Bell (Sox) / Clifford Johnson (Cubs)

02 July - Wayne Nordhagen (Sox) / Ken Henderson (Cubs)

03 July - Richard Wortham (Sox) / Bill Caudill (Cubs)

04 July - Britt Burns (Sox) / Rick Reuschel (Cubs)

05 July - Steve Trout (Sox) / Mike Krukow (Cubs)

06 July - Greg Pryor (Sox) / Mike Tyson (Cubs)

07 July - Harold Baines (Sox) / Larry Biittner (Cubs)

08 July - Todd Cruz (Sox) / Mick Kelleher (Cubs)

09 July - Ross Baumgarten (Sox) / Lynn McGlothlen (Cubs)

10 July - Mike Proly (Sox) / Willie Hernandez (Cubs)

11 July - Lamarr Hoyt (Sox) / Steve Dillard (Cubs)

12 July - Ron Pruitt (Sox) / George Riley (Cubs)

13 July - Jim Morrison (Sox) / Ivan DeJesus (Cubs)

14 July - Guy Hoffman (Sox) / Dick Tidrow (Cubs)

15 July - Randy Johnson (Sox) / Tim Blackwell (Cubs)

16 July - Ricky Seilheimer (Sox) / Lenny Randle (Cubs)

17 July - Jesus Figueroa (Sox) / Preston (Mike) O'Berry (Cubs)

18 July - Tony LaRussa MGR (Sox) / Preston Gomez MGR (Cubs)