21 March 2015

Checklist Translations: 1990-1992 Chiclets Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL)

     The inaugural season of the CPBL was accompanied by several different sets of baseball cards in various forms.  For the first three years of it's existence, the American Chicle Company (or their Adams subsidiary) produced sets of baseball cards for the CPBL under the Chiclets brand (芝蘭口香糖).  Technically this is a single set, spread across the first three seasons of the CPBL, and is numbered contiguously from 1-400.

     Slight digression - As with most CPBL sets, the cards were actually issued the year following the year they represent, so the 1990 was actually released in 1991  After all, there was no 1989 season, so it would have been very difficult for anyone to acquire all the photos necessary to produce a decent sized 1990 set during the 1990 season and still have it in stores before the year was out.  Today it could probably be done, but remember this was in the days before digital photography.  Aside from some small, team-based sets, this tradition has continued to the present.  Now the official CPBL sets tend to include a reference to the season number in the set names with 1990 being the first.  So the set that will be issued in 2015 will cover then 2014 season and probably have a "CPBL 25th" referenced somewhere.

     Chiclets cards were issued with the well-known candy-coated gum.  The first series of cards had a colorful design that was coordinated with each teams' colors and, as with almost all cards from the region, prominently featured the player's uniform number along with name, team and position.  Foreign players also had their names printed in English on both front and back.  The backs have the card number in the upper left corner, the usual player biographical details and a summary of their 1990 statistics.  The first series includes cards 1-118.  The first 17 cards feature a coloring variation on the back and can be found with both a much lighter border than the rest of the set, being more of a blue-gray as well as the richer blue of the remaining 101 cards.

26 February 2015

1977 Chicago Tribune Cubs & Sox Scrapbook

     From June 12th to July 9th of the 1977 season, the Chicago Tribune produced a series of "cards" in the sports section of the newspaper for a Cub and White Sox player, intended to be cut from the paper and saved.  The feature was titled Cubs & Sox Scrapbook and presented over-sized portraits of a player from each team, along with several years of statistics below the photo. I was somewhat surprised to see one of these had been submitted to COMC, but not surprised to see that it had not been identified.
2015 [???] [???] #N/A - [Missing] - Courtesy of COMC.com
2015 [???] [???] #N/A - [Missing]
     Previously, Beckett had listed these photos as two separate sets; 1977 Cubs Tribune and 1977 White Sox Tribune.  Neither checklist was complete, listing only 14 Cubs and 27 White Sox, and they really should not have been listed separately.  The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards doesn't list the set at all, but then they don't usually seem to recognize newspaper sets.  Fortunately the Chicago Tribune has placed their archives online, so this set can now be properly documented.   The set ran for 28 days and includes 54 players and both teams' managers.  Below is what should be the complete set with links to the Chicago Tribune archive pages.

June 12, Cubs-Sox Scrapbook Announcement

June 12, Bobby Murcer (Cubs) & Richie Zisk (White Sox)

June 13, Manny Trillo (Cubs) & Chet Lemon (White Sox)

June 14, Ray Burris (Cubs) & Steve Stone (White Sox)

June 15, Greg Gross (Cubs) & Jim Spencer (White Sox)

June 16, Jerry Morales (Cubs) & Tim Nordbrook (White Sox)

June 17, Donnie Moore (Cubs) & Lerrin LaGrow (White Sox)

June 18, Mick Kelleher (Cubs) & Eric Soderholm (White Sox)

June 19, Ivan DeJesus (Cubs) & Alan Bannister (White Sox)

June 20, Bill Bonham (Cubs) & Chris Knapp (White Sox)

June 21, Jim Todd (Cubs) & Dave Hamilton (White Sox)

June 22, Joe Wallis (Cubs) & Oscar Gamble (White Sox)

June 23, Steve Ontiveros (Cubs) & Jack Brohamer (White Sox)

June 24, Mike Krukow (Cubs) & Bart Johnson (White Sox)

June 25, Willie Hernandez (Cubs) & Bruce Dal Canton (White Sox)

June 26, Bruce Sutter (Cubs) & Wilbur Wood (White Sox)

June 27, Steve Swisher (Cubs) & Brian Downing (White Sox)

June 28, Dave Rosello (Cubs) & Jorge Orta (White Sox)

June 29, Rick Reuschel (Cubs) & Don Kirkwood (White Sox)

June 30, Bill Buckner (Cubs) & Lamar Johnson (White Sox)

July 1, Jose Cardenal (Cubs) & Wayne Nordhagen (White Sox)

July 2, Paul Reuschel (Cubs) & Ken Kravec (White Sox)

July 3, Larry Biitner (Cubs) & Ralph Garr (White Sox)

July 4, Bobby Darwin (Cubs), Francisco Barrios (White Sox)

July 5, Gene Clines (Cubs) & Royle Stillman (White Sox)

July 6, George Mitterwald (Cubs) & Jim Essian (White Sox)

July 7, Steve Renko (Cubs) & Kevin Bell (White Sox)

July 8, Pete Broberg (Cubs) & Jack Kucek (White Sox)

July 9, Herman Franks (Cubs) & Bob Lemon (White Sox)

25 February 2015

Inconsequential Variations (Part the Fourth): TCMA Collector's Kit Reprints

   In the late 1980s, it was fairly common to see a variety of "Baseball Card Collecting Kits" being sold in all manner of retail outlets.  I recall seeing them in bookstores, grocery stores, hobby shops as well as Wal Mart and KMart.  I believe the main three early companies to produce them were Hygrade, Treat and Collector's Marketing Corp. (CMC).  The typical kit would include a 3-ring binder (usually a 1-inch for cheaper kits, and 2-inch for "deluxe" kits), 20 or so 9-pocket plastic sheets, some penny sleeves, an guide on card collecting (usually containing a brief history of the hobby, glossary and a rough grading-guide) as well as a fairly random assortment of baseball cards to get you started.   These were usually some old Topps, Donruss and O-Pee-Chee cards, some reprints of well known candy and tobacco cards, some of the orange or green bordered Hygrade All-Time Greats cards and occasionally a small stack of cards from TCMA.

    The TCMA cards were themselves a wide assortment of various All-Time team cards and minor league issues from about 1978-1986.  While most of the cards in these kits were either obvious reprints or genuine commons from recent sets, the TCMA cards were almost entirely reprints produced specifically for this type of product.

     In most cases, the reprint TCMA cards might be virtually indistinguishable from the originally issued cards, but most of the minor league cards stand out. The main differences between TCMA's original minor league cards and the collecting kit reprints are in the card stock, presence of the MLB logo on the back and/or white borders on the front.

     In most cases, though, the hobby doesn't seem to take any notice of these reprints as something different from the original cards.  However, when picking up card lots containing TCMA cards, you can almost always tell where they originally came from due to the specific assortment of cards, as well as how much more common these cards are than the rest of their respective sets.  You can look up all of these cards on COMC.com and see the differences, but I have included links to COMC images in several cases.

    The following minor league cards are known TCMA reprints, and can easily be distinguished from the originals.  Most of the reprints feature an MLB logo on the back, but some reprints can be found without the logo indicating more than one print run of the overall reprint sheet.

1979 TCMA Tacoma Tugs Ron Hassey
1979 TCMA Tidewater Tides Kelvin Chapman

Reprints feature an MLB logo by the copyright line on the back.
1979 TCMA Minor League #361 - Ron Hassey - Courtesy of COMC.com 1979 TCMA Minor League #361 - Ron Hassey - Courtesy of COMC.com    

1980 Waterbury Reds Tom Foley
1980 Columbus Astros Matt Galante

    Originals feature red border on front and blue ink on the back.  Reprints have a thin white border around the red on the front, and black ink on the back.

1980 TCMA Minor League #745 - Tom Foley - Courtesy of COMC.com

1981 TCMA Wisconsin Rapids Twins #15/0576 Michael Cole
1981 TCMA Wausau Timbers #26/0558 Ivan Calderon

     Reprints feature an MLB logo by the copyright line on the back.

1983 TCMA Redwood Pioneers Kirk McCaskill
1983 TCMA Salt Lake City Gulls Spike Owen

     Many of the original 1983 minor league sets were printed on brown/gray card stock.  The reprints are printed on white card stock and feature an MLB logo on the back.

1984 TCMA Richmond Braves #2 Rufino Linares
1984 TCMA Cedar Rapids Reds #17 Kurt Stillwell

     Originals feature a green border and use both blue and black ink on the back.  Reprints have a thin white border around the green on the front and use only black on the back.
1984 TCMA Minor League #2 - Rufino Linares - Courtesy of COMC.com 1984 TCMA Minor League #2 - Rufino Linares - Courtesy of COMC.com
1984 TCMA Minor League #2 - Rufino Linares - Courtesy of COMC.com 1984 TCMA Minor League #2 - Rufino Linares - Courtesy of COMC.com

1985 TCMA Durham Bulls Paul Assenmacher
1985 TCMA Syracuse Chiefs  Tom Filer

     Originals feature an almost turquoise blue border on front and the TCMA block on the reverse is white on blue background.  Reprints have a thin white border around the front and use a much lighter blue, and use only black ink on the back.

1985 TCMA Minor League #282 - Paul Assenmacher - Courtesy of COMC.com 1985 TCMA Minor League #282 - Paul Assenmacher - Courtesy of COMC.com
1985 TCMA Minor League #282 - Paul Assenmacher - Courtesy of COMC.com 1985 TCMA Minor League #282 - Paul Assenmacher - Courtesy of COMC.com

1986 TCMA Albany-Colonie Yankees Darren Reed
1986 TCMA Jackson Mets Mike Santiago
1986 TCMA Omaha Royals Dave Schuler

   Originals feature the TCMA block on the reverse with white letters on green background.  Reprints use only black ink on the reverse.

1986 TCMA Minor League #50 - Darren Reed - Courtesy of COMC.com 1986 TCMA Minor League #50 - Darren Reed - Courtesy of COMC.com

The other more commonly reprinted cards that turn up in these collections are the following from earlier TCMA team sets:

1979 TCMA 1927 New York Yankees Miller Huggins
1979 TCMA 1927 New York Yankees Bob Meusel

     The original has a black border design and a sepia tone photo.  The reprint card features a gold border design and a black & white photo and exist both with and without an MLB logo by the copyright line.
1979 TCMA 1927 New York Yankees #28 - Miller Huggins - Courtesy of COMC.com 1979 TCMA 1927 New York Yankees #28 - Miller Huggins - Courtesy of COMC.com
1979 TCMA 1927 New York Yankees #28 - Miller Huggins - Courtesy of COMC.com 1979 TCMA 1927 New York Yankees #28 - Miller Huggins - Courtesy of COMC.com

1978 TCMA The 1960's #0011 Roger Maris
1978 TCMA The 1960's #0022 Ron Santo

     This set apparently had at least two original print runs, one using green ink on the reverse, and one using black.  The reprints feature black ink and an MLB logo by the copyright line on the back.

1979 TCMA The 1950's #43 Dodger Power
1979 TCMA The 1950's #63 Chuck Tanner
1979 TCMA The 1950's #134 Herb Score
1979 TCMA The 1950's #173 Marv Throneberry
1979 TCMA The 1950's #216 Rocky Colavito
1979 TCMA The 1950's #228 Don Zimmer

     Reprints feature an MLB logo by the copyright line on the back.

1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball Dave Hilton
1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball Vernon Law

    Reprints feature an MLB logo on the back under the league flag emblem.

1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball #17 - Vern Law - Courtesy of COMC.com 1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball #17 - Vern Law - Courtesy of COMC.com

1980 TCMA 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers World Champions #029 Johnny Podres

    On this particular, the original version has a color photo on front.  The reprint has a black & white photo.  There may be two reprint versions, as COMC also has a color copy, but with the MLB logo on the back.

1981 TCMA The 1960's #363 Duke Snider
1981 TCMA The 1960's #402 Billy Williams

     Reprints feature an MLB logo on the back.

1981 TCMA 1959 Go-Go White Sox #2 Nellie Fox (reprints feature the color photo)
1981 TCMA 1959 Go-Go White Sox #3 Luis Aparicio

     There are at least three different versions of the Aparicio (different photos, different borders), but the reprints feature an MLB logo on the back.

1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Hitters #12 Mickey Vernon
1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Sluggers #10 Frank Howard
1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Sluggers #12 Frank Robinson

     Reprints feature an MLB logo on the back.  It is possible this whole set was reprinted, but these seem to turn up the most.

1983 TCMA 1942 Play Ball #2 Joe DiMaggio
1983 TCMA 1942 Play Ball #32 Mel Ott
1983 TCMA 1942 Play Ball #42 Casey Stengel
1983 TCMA 1943 Play Ball #30 Whitlow Wyatt
1983 TCMA 1945 Play Ball #17 Ed Lopat
1983 TCMA All-Time Pirates #11 Elroy Face
1983 TCMA All-Time Cardinals #8 Bob Gibson
1983 TCMA 1942-46 St. Louis Cardinals #17 Enos Slaughter

     Reprints feature an MLB logo on the back.

1984 TCMA 1946 Play Ball #7 Phil Rizzuto

     Reprints feature an MLB logo on the back.

1985 TCMA Most Valuable Player National League Roberto Clemente
1985 TCMA Rookie of the Year Thurman Munson

     Original sets came on a perforated sheet with a blue back.  Reprints have a red back with MLB logo and sharp edges.

1985 TCMA Most Valuable Player National League #N/A - Roberto Clemente - Courtesy of COMC.com 1985 TCMA Most Valuable Player National League #N/A - Roberto Clemente - Courtesy of COMC.com

1986 TCMA All-Time Indians Joe Jackson
1986 TCMA All-Time Jimmie Foxx 
1986 TCMA All-Time Twins Jim Kaat
1986 TCMA All-Time Brewers Harvey Kuenn
1986 TCMA All-Time Pirates Ralph Kiner
1986 TCMA All-Time A's Jim "Catfish" Hunter
1986 TCMA All-Time Rangers Jon Matlack
1986 TCMA All-Time Expos Rusty Staub
1986 TCMA All-Time Expos Jim Fanning
1986 TCMA All-Time Angels Rick Reichardt
1986 TCMA All-Time Orioles Jim Palmer
1986 TCMA All-Time Braves Tommy Holmes
1986 TCMA All-Time Mariners Dan Meyer
1986 TCMA All-Time Astros Bill Virdon
1986 TCMA All-Time Mets Bud Harrelson
1986 TCMA All-Time Reds Johnny Bench (black & white photo)
1986 TCMA All-Time Phillies Chuck Klein

     These are tough to call "reprints" as the set was practically new when it was reprinted.  In any case all of the above cards can be found with and without the MLB logo on the back.

1987 TCMA 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers Pee Wee Reese / Jim Gilliam
1987 TCMA 1950 Philadelphia Phillies Del Ennis
1987 TCMA 1969 New York Mets Cleon Jones / Tommie Agee / Ron Swoboda

     Similar to the All-Time team cards, the only difference on these three cards is the presence or absence of the MLB logo on the back.

20 February 2015

Clyde's Stale News

     Because I'm slacking on getting a new post out here, I'm posting this reminder/news reel.  Yes, I am aware there are a multitude of broken images in my various Dave Winfield posts.  I recently hit the 2500 image limit in the old Picasa Web Album I was using for my collection scans, and had to split the collection into separate albums.  As a result, I broke a lot of links to Winfield cards on my blog, and across several message boards where I've previously posted images.  I've already started fixing the blog images, but it will take awhile, as it is not a fun task. I am lazyand just don't feel like fixing more than a few images at a time.

     Ntreev/Duael Entertainment and Gametree are releasing one final baseball card set covering the 2014 KBO season.  Labeled 14-15 슈퍼스타 베이스볼 카드 Blue Edition, this set covers 2014 season highlights, the post season and the various award winners and promises to include a lot more game-used memorabilia cards.  I'll dig into the checklist when it is finally posted to the Duael Entertainment website.  Currently you can find details on the set's Facebook page.

    I've been spending a lot of time lately adding sets to TradingCardDB.com.  It is still not up to date with everything added to SportsCardForum.com's Inventory Manager, but in many ways, it is a lot more versatile.  For instance, there is no requirement at TCDB for each card to have a unique card number, so unnumbered sets can just be listed with all the cards as NNO, or in those rare occasions where multiple cards in a set share a number, both can be listed without any conflict.  TCDB has also recently updated their checklist import system, making it much easier to include all a set's detail.  This is especially helpful for minor league sets as you can now import the checklist with the team's MLB affiliate and both Note fields.  Typically on TCDB, the Note field is used for things like whether a card has an ERR or UER, or is an SP, or if the player is a CO; and the Note2 field was used for more elaborate information like "player pictured is Lynn Pettis" or "reverse negative".  I have also begun adding checklists for other Japanese sets, in addition to just baseball.  I've added a few Sumo and pro-wrestling sets, and plan to add more as time and resources permit.
    When I finally get TCDB caught up with all the minor league and international releases that I have posted to SCF, I will try to update both sites in tandem, but the underlying database system SCF is using is very outdated, and aside from additions to the catalog, is not expected to be improved any time soon.  TCDB has an active developer who really knows his stuff and has been adding all kinds of features in the past year whereas SCF can't even be bothered to clean up the bogus set entries in their Manufacturer list, or clean up the teams.  Overall, I see no real future for the SCF system, as it will just continue to get older and older as other sites like Trading Card Database and Zistle quickly eclipse it and leave it in their dust.  I will continue to support SCF, but my enthusiasm has faded.

     I may have only mentioned it in passing, but for oddball collectors, be sure to check out the tremendous work Tim Peichel has been doing over at SuperCollectorCatalog.com.  Tim basically took what I started years ago when attempting to document unlicensed "broder" cards on my old website, and has expanded it beyond anything I would have attempted.  His database now includes unlicensed cards, obscure oddball issues and variations.  It is a great resource and saw a lot of additions over the course of 2014.

     I have listed most of the cards from my second box of BBM's 2013 Legendary Foreigners 2: Deep Impact set in my eCrater store.  All the base cards are listed at $0.50 each.  It was an underwhelming break, resulting in no autographs, and no facsimile signature cards of Hensley Meulens.  Thanks to RyanG for helping me procure it and avoiding extra fees I would have otherwise paid through KuboTEN.  The entire contents of the first box was submitted to COMC a few weeks ago, and I saw the first couple of cards from that batch show up in the Full Card # Challenge yesterday, so some of them are close to being listed there.  Over the course of two boxes, I still ended up 4 cards shy of a complete base set.

     Speaking of COMC (formerly CheckOutMyCards.com), I recently submitted a batch of 157 cards, almost entirely oddball, minor league and international issues.  12 cards have already hit my COMC inventory, as they were the most easily identifiable cards I sent.  Included in the batch were cards from Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Venezuela, as well as a handful of recent minor league cards.  I had intended to include some Mexican cards, but had the batch all packed up and labeled before I remembered.  This entire submission will be funded by COMC credit earned by doing the Challenges they use to help crowd-source the development of their new catalog system.  So basically the only thing I was out of pocket on was the shipping to get the cards to Redmond.

     If you're still with me after all of that, thanks for visiting and reading my ramblings.  I hope to get into a more consistent schedule of output, but can't promise anything.  I've got about a dozen posts in draft form that need to be finished, and there are more updates and additions to make to my series of Checklist Translations in the pipeline.

24 January 2015

2013 BBM 最強外国人伝説2 DEEP IMPACT (Legendary Foreigners 2 Deep Impact) Box Break [image heavy]

     I finally broke down and picked up a box of BBM's 2013 Strongest Foreign Legends 2 Deep Impact set, or given the checkist, it could have simply been titled 2013 BBM Even More Foreigners, since very few of them were very successful, much less "strong legends".  This is the first set to include a certified autograph card of Sir Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulens.  He signed only 48 cards, and so far two have sold for well over $100 on Yahoo! Auctions Japan.  The only one I can find for sale presently is listed for ¥25,000 at Mint Mall's website (which currently translates to around $212US).  I find that to be entirely ridiculous.  The highest selling autos from this set have been Meulens, Bill Madlock, Seung-Yuop Lee and Randy Bass.  Bass makes sense, as he was truly a legend is Japan.  Madlock has had autos in multiple products, so I don't understand the prices for his cards.  Lee has lots of autos in Japan, but almost any Korean player tends to sell well in Japanese products, star players especially so.
     It has been quite some time since I did one of these, mainly because I just don't like to buy boxes of cards.  In the last few years, I've stopped buying unopened product at all unless the set contains a player I collect, and is afforable.  "Affordable" to me is somewhat out of touch with the mainstream of the hobby (as is just about everything about my collecting habits and blog) as I can't let go of the days when boxes of the latest cards rarely exceeded $30, and you got well over 500 cards for your trouble.  These days, so many collectors don't blink at dropping $80+ on boxes that net them less than 100 cards; and that is on the low end of the spectrum.   So the only reason I decided to pick up this box (and might buy a second one if I can snag it for a low enough price) is that someone gave me a Visa gift card for Christmas (so, free money) and I was able to siphon some of that into my KuboTEN account.  The result was this:

     This set was released with the MSRP of ¥8400, but faded quickly.  I didn't quite understand what I was reading when I saw this auction, so I didn't get quite the deal I initially thought.  At first, I thought it was an auction for two boxes, with a starting bid of ¥3000.  Turns out the seller just had two boxes for sale, either BIN for ¥3000 each, or a starting bid of ¥3000 per box.  Had I realized it had a BIN, I would have had this about a week sooner.  After fees and shipping, I ended up dropping ¥5696 on this box, or just under $50, which is still more than I would like to have paid, but if it landed me the Meulens card (or at least one of the facsimile autograph cards of him), I think I could probably unload the rest and come out fairly even.  It's definitely better than dropping over $200 for the card all by itself.  I'd rather drop the $200 on a stack of boxes and take my chances.

    In any case, the fact that boxes are now selling for a mere 35% of their initial price is very telling as to how unpopular this set is in Japan.  The main issue is that the first series had autos of 52 different players seeded throughout the product.  This series only has 37 possible autographs, and in general, despite many of them being the first certified autos for some of these players, there are several repeats from the first series and the rest are a fairly weak bunch.

     I was actually intending to do this break as a video and post it to my channel on YouTube, where all those 1989 Topps/LJN Baseball Talk cards live, but as it turns out, I absolutely detest the sound of my own voice and, after a few quick video tests, couldn't stomach the thought of editing the video after the fact.  In fact, I apologize to anyone who has ever had to have a conversation with me over the phone or in person.  It was moderately more tolerable if I affected an accent or put on a character, but that just seemed like way too much effort.  I did record the break, though, but I did it without audio.  Originally I thought I would dub in some audio, but finally just decided I would simply grab screen captures from the video and post it all here.  So instead of a video, you get a photo story.

The scene:

     The weather had been really damp and drizzly here, so the box arrived a bit damp.  As it turned out, that was a benefit because it made opening the box from the bottom a lot easier than trying to cut through all the labeling on top.  Packing consideration made possible by the Yomiuri Shimbun:

     Gentleman...BEHOLD!   One box, 20 packs, 5 cards per pack.  What was I saying earlier about overpaying for a box of 100 cards?

     Something you never see with American product, this actually has a full checklist on the back of the box.  It even includes the details for the parallels and inserts, BBM doesn't actually list how many autographs are possible.

     Something else that is unique to BBM boxes is the inclusion of product placeholders for hangars.  I suppose since space is always at such a premium in Japan, it makes more sense for packs to hang on racks, rather than trying to make shelf or counter top space for open display boxes.   As a result most Japanese card packs are hanger packs.

On to the packs, and be quick about it!

Pack 1

Chan-Ho Park

Trey Moore

Willie Upshaw Off Shot

Mike Diaz

Shane Mack

Pack 2

Boomer Wells

Seung-Yuop Lee

Dave Hilton

Derrick May

Tuffy Rhodes

      Had I not already received a copy of the Tuffy Rhodes card from RyanG, I might have been more excited about this pack.  As it is, OFF TO COMC WITH YOU!

Pack 3

Cecil Fielder

Chang-Yong Lim

Roy White Autograph #/100

Joe Pepitone

Don Money

     Well, three packs in, and I already hit the one possible auto in the box.  Unfortunately for all my hopes and dreams about this box, it was not Hensley Meulens, but in fact was Roy White, a career Yankee from 1965-1979, who took his services to the Yomiuri Giants when he could no longer hit major league pitching.  He had a pretty good first year in Japan, and tailed off a bit the following two seasons before retiring.  White was a two time All-Star during one of the Yankees worst periods.  He and Joe Pepitone were both on the 1969 Yankees.  While White held his own in the Giants lineup, Pepitone could only manage a .163 batting average in 14 games for the Yakult Atoms in 1973.

     After watching a few other breaks of this product, it seems the autographs were usually within the first 3-4 packs in the front section of the box, the box being divided into three sections to hold the packs in place.  It is sort of an anti-climax to find the "hit" so soon in the box.

Pack 4

Hiram Bocachica

Randy Bass

Dong Yul Sun

Robert Rose

Mike Easler

     Randy Bass, the pride of Lawton, OK and two time Triple Crown winner with the Hanshin Tigers.  Probably the most popular player in this set by a fairly significant margin.

Pack 5

Derrick May (double)

Tuffy Rhodes (double)

Reggie Smith Off Shot

Bobby Thigpen

Rick Lancelotti

     Bobby Thigpen was one of those pitchers that had a few average seasons, then had an OMG! type 1990 where he obliterated Dave Righetti's then single season record of 46 saves (which he held for all of 4 seasons) by notching a then staggering 57 saves in 65 save opportunities, while posting a 1.83 ERA.  Thigpen's record would stand for 18 years.  He followed that stellar 1990 with another very average 1991, and then proceeded to tank for the next two years.  He seemed to find his form in Japan for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, with two seasons of sub 2.00 ERA, though nowhere near the save opportunities (largely due to the nature of the Japanese approach to starting pitchers throwing longer when in trouble, where as MLB managers seem to throw a closer out there in every possible save situation, whether it's necessary or not).  That success in Japan did not translate to a successful return to the US, as Thigpen had apparently forgotten how to pitch to big league hitters.

Pack 6

Matt Stairs

Matt Winters Off Shot

Lee Stevens

Jeff Manto

Boomer Wells Title Holder insert

     The first appearance of a Title Holder insert.  There are four versions of this set.  All feature the mirror-like foil background, but the others have different colored trim and are serial numbered.  Pink #/100, Green #/50 and Blue #/30.  The gold version is the most common and is not serial numbered.  The set recognizes various foreigners who led the league in some statistical category.

Pack 7

Marc Kroon

R.J. Reynolds

Roy White / Gary Thomasson Off Shot

Reggie Smith

Frank Ootenzio

Pack 8

Jose Fernandez

Frank Howard

Rob Deer

Glenn Braggs

Gary Thomasson

     I suspect there was some sort of secret society of pitchers who somehow influenced the signing of players like Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia and Jack Cust purely to pad their strikeout statistics.  Rob Deer distinguished himself by managing to lead the league in strikeouts four times in his first eight seasons in his MLB playing days, two of those seasons coming in second.  In Deer's case, his major league "talents" translated perfectly to Japan where he also managed to generate a cooling breeze for the pitchers' benefit, while failing to reach the Mendoza line.

Pack 9

Marty Brown

Bill Madlock Off Shot

Davey Johnson

Kip Gross

Terry Bross Title Holder insert

     Better known by most for his managing career, Davey Johnson was another of those players with that one insane season that made little sense in the context of his overall playing career.  In 1973, despite never having hit more than 19 home runs in a season his entire professional career to that point, he managed to rack up 43 home runs for the Braves.  Despite finishing 5th that year, the Braves fans got to see lots of fireworks as that 1973 team had three players all hit 40+ home runs that season; Johnson, Darrell Evans and Hank Aaron.  It wasn't even a situation where he was seeing better pitches because of Evans and Aaron, as Johnson was usually in the #6 or #7 slot in the lineup.  It was his first season in the NL, though, so maybe the opposing pitchers just had terrible scouting reports on him and just kept throwing big, fat pitches right into his wheelhouse.

Pack 10

Benny Agbayani

Roy White

Ralphy Bryant Off Shot

Hiram Bocachica (double)

Willie Upshaw

Pack 11

Brian Traxler

Jeremy Powell

Bill Madlock Off Shot (double)

Davey Johnson (double)

Jim Traber

Pack 12

Leon Lee

Marc Kroon (double)

Jeremy Powell Silver Signature parallel #/100

Reggie Smith (double)

Rich Schu

     Twelve packs and the first facsimile signature parallel shows up.  According to the box, there are 27 of these, but I have not been able to find a complete checklist, so I'm slowly compiling it for later addition to SCF and TCDB.  Silver are numbered to 100, gold numbered to 50 and red numbered to 30.

Pack 13

Orestes Destrade

Aaron Guiel

Matt Stairs

Mike Greenwell

Lloyd Moseby

     Orestes Destrade was a Cuban born player, originally signed by the Yankees, who seemed to just give up on him despite some good numbers in the minors.  The Yankees dealt him to the Pirates, where he did poorly, and so he took his bag to Japan and signed with the Seibu Lions.  Over the next four seasons with the Lions, Destrade averaged 38 home runs.  After Cecil Fielder's much ballyhoo'd success with Detroit, after a season with Hanshin, The expansion Florida Marlins, a Miami-based team, thought the couldn't lose by signing a Cuban slugger who has tearing it up in Japan, so they made him their cleanup hitter for their inaugural 1993 season.  While Destrade did not have a Cecil Fielder level of success, he did manage to lead the Marlins in HR (20) and RBI (87).  But overall, it was a disappointing performance, given such lofty expectations, and after starting off a truly miserable 1994 (not reaching .200 in the first 13 games, and only 5 home runs through 39 games) he was released...or rather as the transaction line puts it "Granted Free Agency" in May.

Pack 14

Leon Lee (double)

Bobby Valentine

Matt Winters

Trey Hillman

Rich Schu (double)

     Bobby Valentine's quick success and huge popularity in Japan perhaps gave the other teams there a somewhat inflated notion of what more former MLB managers might accomplish in NPB.  Despite his success, which instantly led to exaggerated expectations by team management, Bobby was basically run out of Chiba by the teams ownership because he was apparently making ownership look bad by being American and making the team so much money.  Sad to say, but after his return to the US, and terrible year in Boston, I would be surprised to see Valentine manage again in MLB.   With the inclusion of Trey Hillman, this pack contains both of the American managers who won championships for NPB teams as Valentine won in 2005 with the Marines and Hillman in 2006 with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Pack 15

Mike Greenwell (double)

Lloyd Moseby (double)

Matt Winters Off Shot (double)

Rex Hudler

Lee Stevens

Pack 16

Dave Hilton (double)

Reggie Smith Off Shot (double)

Bobby Thigpen (double)

Jesse Barfield

Ralph Bryant Title Holder insert

     Jesse Barfield was often considered to have the strongest arm in the game during his days with the Blue Jays and Yankees, leading the league in outfield assists five times between 1982-1990, coming in second twice.  He showed plenty of power in his one season with Yomiuri, hitting 27 home runs in 104 games, but his hitting was not up to Giants standards, managing only a meager .215 average.

Pack 17

Jose Fernandez (double)

Bill Madlock

Frank Ortenzio Off Shot

Melbin Bunch

Terry Bross

     Bill Madlock was the rare Hall of Fame caliber player who spent a final active season in Japan.  While he did show the same power that occasionally surfaced in his MLB career, he no longer hit for the average he was known for.  Had he been just a bit more durable (never playing more than 154 games in a season, and only averaging 120 per season across his career), it would have garnered much more consideration for the Hall, after all he did win four National League batting titles and end his 15 year career with a lifetime .305 batting average.

Pack 18

Carlos Ponce

Alex Ochoa

Rob Ducey

Dan Gladden

Ralph Bryant Off Shot (double)

Pack 19

Shane Mack (double)

Frank Ortenzio

Luis Sanchez

Nigel Wilson

Willie Fraser

Pack 20

Ralph Bryant

Fernando Seguignol

Marty Brown (double)

Brian Traxler (double)

Jeremy Powell (double)

     And that's the box.   If not for the Roy White auto (and from my perspective, even with it), this seems to have been a fairly disappointing box.  20 packs, 100 total cards.  That breaks down as:

95 base cards
71 unique (of 81 possible)
24 doubles

5 inserts
3 Title Holder inserts
1 Silver Signature parallel
1 autograph

     I hope to take another stab at landing that Meulens auto, but it will have to be for a good $10 less than this one cost.