08 December 2010

Walkin' In A Winnie Wonderland

     An eclectic trio of Winfield goodies showed up today, spoils of the almighty eBay. The first was yet another silk cachet/first day cover/postmarked envelope with a picture on it, this time, Colorano's contribution commemorating Dave Winfield's 3000th hit on September 16, 1993.


     This is another that I didn't even know existed until I happened to catch the auction. I am still hunting for the Gateway version, but  I suspect the combination of lack of awareness/interest in silk cachets in general, and the somewhat suspect autograph on the front are what won me this beauty for just $0.99 + $2.50 S&H, but even for a potentially defaced silk cachet, I'm not complaining. It adds yet another piece of color and distinction to my otherwise card-heavy Dave Winfield collection.

     Lending more weight to the current card quotient are these two magazine inserts.  I picked these up in one of those auction lots that makes a player collector groan.  Already having one of the cards (the Cartwright's card from 1993), but only just learning about the second (the Pocket Pages card from 1991) because of the auction, I'm now the proud owner of 124 copies of that Cartwright's card and 6 copies of the Pocket Pages card.




     The top card is from Cartwright's Journal of Baseball Collectibles (which would later be broadened to "Sports Collectibles"). The bottom was from another magazine called Pocket Pages. I was an avid and active collector in the early 1990s and I'd never heard of either of these publications. At the moment, you can find a few highly priced ($20-$40) issues of Pocket Pages on eBay, and you can read a bit about the cards on my new favorite blog, Uncataloged Baseball Cards.

I also found an article on the Baltimore Sun's website mentioning the magazine back in 1995:
Collectors find out about card shows in lots of places -- magazines, newspapers, fliers at shows and word of mouth.

When Merrye Atkinson got hooked on autograph collecting, she knew there had to be a better way to find out where the players she wanted would be.

"It was hard keeping track," says the veteran magazine worker. "I thought, 'Maybe this should be a magazine.' "
Advertisement

Three years ago, she started Pocket Pages, a monthly magazine devoted to show listings. At first it covered only California shows; now it is national.

Atkinson, the publisher, says the format has remained the same: show listings, an alphabetical listing of athletes and the shows they'll be doing, hobby news, news on freebies and six trading cards. An issue focusing on POGs included bottle tops instead of cards. In keeping with collectibility, each issue is printed with two covers. Subscribers can opt to receive both.
SOURCE: Baltimore Sun, January 15, 1995|By Ruth Sadler

     Long story short, I've got a TON of these Cartwright's Winfield cards available for trade (or free with SASE), and a handful of the Pocket Pages cards left over for any needy Winfield collectors.

     It seems in the early 1990s, everyone and their brother (and sister and uncle and landlord and dentist) thought there was a market for just one more sports collectible magazine. And in that climate, if you were going to publish a sports collectible magazine, how could you not include some "promotional" cards to "help sell the magazine"? Most of these magazines claimed whatever exception from licensing laws that other journalistic outlets such as newspapers and regular magazines employed to be able to publish photos of MLB properties without having to pay for the privilege. At some point, it became obvious that these magazines were selling baseball cards in a magazine-wrapper and Major League Baseball put a stop to the free-for-all.

     JS Sports Cards Plus and Memorabilia has several of these various magazines for sale on their site. You can have a look here for some cover shots of several of the various publications:

Cartwright Journal of Baseball Collectibles

Diamond Sports Memorabilia

Allan Kaye's Sports Cards

Legends Sports Memorabilia  (This is the only one I know of that printed a Winfield card I'm still missing.)

      Also publishing cards with their magazines around the same time were the more mainstream Baseball Cards Magazine, SCD's Price Guide Magazine, Topps Magazine, Sports Illustrated for Kids and Tuff Stuff.  Of the lot, only Sports Illustrated for Kids, which is a magazine about sports, written for kids, not a sports card magazine, is still issuing cards with each issue some 20 years later.  Considering I remember when they began publishing that back in 1989 or so, I was surprised to learn they're still going (and actually just paid for a subscription for it with some Delta Sky Miles points that were about to expire).

30 November 2010

1985 Chong Modesto A's #16 Steve Howard


    If there could possibly be a "white whale" of my Steve Howard collection, this would be it.  As mentioned in the post on the 1986 Chong Modesto card, singles in this set are extremely hard to find due to the presence of the Mark McGwire cards and the very low (relative to other contemporary sets) print run.  The 2006 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards puts the original print run at 500 sets with the six naming errors, 500 more corrected sets and another 700 set corrected run with slightly different cropping on the McGwire.  So out of a possible 1700 Steve Howards that should exist, I've seen only this one in the last 5 years.

    So, now The Total Steve Howard Experience is complete, here it is in technicolor (where available):



All I left out was the 1990 Topps Traded Tiffany since it doesn't exactly show up on a scan. Yeah, I included both the CMC Pre-Rookie and the CMC Tacoma Tigers cards and they look the same, but they had different backs (you just have to look at it from the other side of the screen).

Congratulations, Mr. Howard, for surviving 9 years of minor league baseball!

02 November 2010

Baseball of Winters Past

     Now that the Giants have wrapped up their season, while some get to go home, others just get to go back to work, albeit in warmer climes.  While Burrell and Rowland rest their creaky bones, and Renteria goes home to stare at his new trophy, coaches Hensley Meulens and Roberto Kelly will both have to pack their bags and board a plane to Venezuela to pick up their winter jobs, already in progress.  Meulens and Kelly both signed on as coaches of the Bravos de Margarita.  Last year, Meulens just barely had enough time to report to the team and put on his uniform before being hired away by the Giants and sent to Arizona to monitor the progress of their talents in the Arizona Fall League. 

     For a couple of years now, I've been attempting to reconstruct a complete record of Hensley Meulens playing days, to include his time in affiliated and independent minor league baseball, MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball, Liga Mexicana de Béisbol, the Korea Baseball Organization and even the winter leagues.  All of that has been rolled into a neat (if less than aesthetically pleasing) GoogleDocs spreadsheet:

Hensley Meulens (Mostly) Complete Professional Career Statistics

     At one point, according to the biographical page of his Dutch Antilles Baseball Academy website, Meulens held the distinction of being the only player to have played in all four of the Caribbean's winter leagues, Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico, Liga Mexicana del Pacifico and Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional.  It's a real shame no one is making baseball cards for winter league teams anymore.  But while I may not be able to hold a card of Bam Bam in driving one over the fence in Estadio Gral Ángel Flores, I have been able to dig out most of his numbers from those seasons.

     During his playing days, Meulens spent his winters touring the Caribbean.  He spend the 1988-89 through 1991-92 seasons (and probably the 92-93 season) in the Dominican, playing for the Azucareros del Este.  This is the only stop that provided a baseball card, thanks to Lime Rock's one-off series of Dominican Winter Baseball from 1993.
     After returning from Japan (incidentally, with the Giants winning the World Series this year, Hensley Meulens joins what is likely a very small club to have championship rings in both the U.S. and Japan, having helped the Tokyo Yakult Swallows to a Nippon Series victory in 1995.  I'll have to see if I can construct that list), there was a brief stop for part of the 1997-98 season with the Pastora de Los Llanos in Venezuela.  Following the expiration of his contract with the Expos and pick up by the Diamondbacks (and subsequent trade to the White Sox), the 1998-99 winter season was spent in Puerto Rico, playing for the Cangrejeros de Santurce  (I've not found any stats for that season, yet).

     Getting no bites from the Majors after the 1999 winter, Meulens took a stab at independent baseball with the Newark Bears, and while having a decent year, he wasn't ready to hang it up.  The 1999-00 winter was spent in Mexico, splitting time between the Algodoneros de Guasave and the Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican Pacific League.  Mexico is where he would spend most of the remainder of his professional playing career (after a brief stab at Korea, where he hit a meager .196 in 14 games for the SK Wyverns...and in Korea, foreigners don't get a chance to adjust, they either perform, or they hit the road).

     The 2000-01 winter season proved to be the last for Meulens, splitting time, back in Mexico, between the Aguilas de Mexicali and the Tomateros de Culiacan.  After hanging up the cleats and throwing his towel in the coaching arena, Meulens went on to participate in two more winter leagues, in 2005 with the Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, and then in 2006 with the Honolulu Sharks of Hawaii Winter Baseball.

     That vest he's wearing has turned up on eBay a couple of times, but unfortunately for a lowly Hensley Meulens collector, #31 was also worn by Austin Jackson when he played for Honolulu, effectively doubling the sale price.

31 October 2010

Lots of Press for Bam Bam

    With the Giants in the World Series, not to mention unleashing 20 runs in the first two games, there is are a new crop of articles about the man that helped make that happen, the San Francisco Giants hitting coach, Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens.  Here he is in his 2010 Topps Emerald Nuts card along with coaches Tim Flannery and Roberto Kelly, his first card since becoming a Major League coach.  I might actually consider collecting modern cards again if they'd eliminate several of the annoying reprint insert sets and go back to including coaches in the sets.

 
The Big Five with … Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens (NBC Sports)

Former Yankees prospect Hensley 'Bam Bam' Meulens is now a Giant hit in San Francisco (NY Daily News)

As Giants make a World Series run, hitting coach Meulens is gratified by success (The Canadian Press)

Pregame interview with Hensley Meulens (MLB.com) 

Muelens logró la fórmula (El Universal, Venezuela)

Meulens recuperó el poder bateador de los Gigantes (Terra, Argentina)

And of course, this one:

Bonds says he wants to be the Giants' hitting coach (Washington Post)

Yeah, how 'bout you start in the Arizona Fall League with the Arizona Giants, first, Mr. Bonds.  I think Mr. Meulens has the job pretty well in hand.  

1993 Topps / R&N China porcelain baseball cards

     In the very early 1990s, R&N China acquired a license with Topps to produce porcelain versions of many of Topps' iconic cards from the previous 50 years.  These were marketed by The Hamilton Collection, makers of endless "collectible" nick-nacks as "Baseball's Dream Team".

     They ran a prospective enthusiast $19.50 per card (+ $1.50 shipping & handling) each month, and included the nifty wooden wall display.  Today, the most common cards can be picked up on eBay for $10 or less even though many sellers list them for more.  I've yet to see any of the porcelain cards sell for more than $15.

     The original Dream Team collection included reproductions (basically a printed decal of a baseball card image on the "World's Thinnest Porcelain", front & back) of the following:

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
1952 Topps Jackie Robinson
1952 Topps Willie Mays
1952 Topps Duke Snider
1952 Topps Yogi Berra
1953 Topps Satchel Paige
1953 Topps Whitey Ford
1954 Topps Ernie Banks
1954 Topps Gil Hodges
1957 Topps Brooks Robinson
1958 Topps Roberto Clemente
1959 Topps Casey Stengel

     Once has to assume this offering was at least moderately successful (as was pretty much anything related to baseball cards in 1990), as Hamilton went on to produce a 12-card sets of Nolan Ryan (1993) and Mickey Mantle (1995), and at some point there was also a series of Topps rookie cards of key players, to include this Dave Winfield that I recently pulled the trigger on:


       The above card seems to have been part of the Danbury Mint's "Tomorrow Hall of Famers" collection, which consisted of the following:

1974 Topps Dave Winfield
1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley
1979 Topps Ozzie Smith
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson
1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken, Jr.
1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg
1985 Topps Kirby Puckett
1985 Topps Roger Clemens
1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds
1989 Topps Traded Ken Griffey, Jr. 
1990 Topps Frank Thomas
1993 Topps Traded Mike Piazza

      There was another set released as "The Heirloom Collection" that featured the following cards:

1974 Topps Mike Schmidt
1984 Topps Traded Dwight Gooden
1985 Topps Orel Hershiser
1986 Topps Traded Jose Canseco
1986 Topps Traded Bo Jackson
1989 Topps Carlton Fisk

       There were later sets from R&N China that came in wooden cases (Griffey's Donruss, Fleer, Upper Deck and Topps rookie cards, various cards of Harmon Killebrew and Willie Mays, and even a complete run of Nolan Ryan's Topps cards from 1968-1994, as well as the 1990 Topps highlight cards that started the set that year).  The Danbury Mint also distributed sets of Ted Williams (18 cards) and Cal Ripken, Jr. (16 cards).

     According to the 2003 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, the entire 1993 Topps set was reproduced in porcelain versions with pricing in 2003 listed as commons for $3 and stars at 15x their base set value.  The SCBC had the following to say:
     Each card in Topps' 825-card set for 1993 was reproduced in a porcelain version.  The thin, round-cornered porcelain cards are in the same size as the regular cards and exactly reproduce both front and back.  Each card was sold shrinkwrapped on a 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" cardboard backing with a wooden display stand and numbered certificate of authenticity.  The first five cards in the set, and every card with a number divisible by five, were produced in an edition of 5,000; all other cards were issued in an edition of 1,000.
     I've posted queries here and there trying to ascertain the validity of that entry, and I find my self agreeing with those who have thought it highly doubtful that R&N China actually produced every card.  I can find no evidence of any of the prospect, manager or checklist cards, and precious few commons.  I've decided to compile a checklist here of every card I've actually seen on the web in the hopes that it helps someone track down a card they might not have known about for their player collection.  I'll update this post as I find more.  So far I've found evidence of 113 of 825.

1993 Topps/R&N China

1 Robin Yount
3 Ryne Sandberg
4 Roger Clemens
5 Tony Gwynn
10 Will Clark
11 Eric Karros
17 Dave Hollins
18 Terry Steinbach
32 Don Mattingly
40 Ozzie Smith
41 Alex Fernandez
47 Bob Scanlan
52 Bobby Bonilla
58 Jose Melendez
60 Roberto Kelly
66 John Burkett
75 Juan Guzman
76 Kevin Appier
80 Cecil Fielder
87 Kevin Reimer
93 Sandy Alomar, Jr.
98 Derek Jeter #1 Draft Pick
100 Mark McGwire
116 Mark Lemke
138 Joe Oliver
140 Gary Sheffield
150 Frank Thomas
154 Wes Chamberlain
156 Sammy Sosa
163 Tim Wakefield
168 Kevin Maas
170 David Justice
178 Jeff Fassero
179 Ken Griffey, Jr.
180 Darren Daulton
183 Greg Maddux
200 Kirby Puckett
207 Paul Molitor
211 Doug Dascenzo
220 Benny Santiago
224 Sid Bream
227 Jeff Bagwell
230 Carlton Fisk
237 Jose Vizcaino
240 John Olerud
265 Andre Dawson
270 Frank Viola
275 Andy Van Slyke
280 Tom Glavine
281 Butch Henry
291 Tommy Greene
300 Cal Ripken, Jr.
304 Melido Perez
311 Jay Howell
319 Paul Assenmacher
322 Pat Borders
340 John Kruk
344 Jack McDowell
350 Joe Carter
362 Luis Gonzalez
371 Mariano Duncan
392 Travis Fryman
393 Ron Gant
397 George Brett
399 Daryl Boston
400 Bo Jackson
404 Barry Larkin / Travis Fryman AS
406 Larry Walker / Kirby Puckett AS
407 Barry Bonds / Joe Carter AS
412 Jamie McAndrew
413 Pete Smith
421 Curt Schilling
426 Nigel Wilson
439 Bryan Harvey
440 Ruben Sierra
447 Keith Shepherd
461 Steve Reed
463 Scott Aldred
473 Dave Henderson
478 Jessie Hollins
480 Pat Listach
486 Eric Wedge
500 Jose Canseco
522 Shane Reynolds
530 Sterling Hitchcock
552 Jeff Blauser
565 Jerald Clark
572 Trevor Hoffman
591 Alex Cole
595 Shawon Dunston
606 J Owens
615 Steve Avery
630 Mark Grace
635 Albert Belle
640 Doc Gooden
650 Terry Pendleton
652 Dave West
676 Rudy Seanez
680 Craig Biggio
691 Jim Tatum
700 Nolan Ryan
709 Jeff Juden
719 Butch Henry
721 Rick Wilkins
722 Chuck Carr
740 Len Dykstra
741 Mike Devereaux
750 Rickey Henderson
759 Charlie Hayes
760 Luis Polonia
789 Jeff Conine
794 Andy Ashby
795 Deion Sanders

1993 Topps Traded/R&N China
1T Barry Bonds
24T Mike Piazza
31T Andres Galarraga
44T Benny Santiago
48T Paul Molitor
54T Greg Maddux
94T Doug Drabek

     There were also porcelain magnets produced, in a smaller size and square configuration.
So far, I've seen these:

1993 Topps/R&N China Magnets

2 Barry Bonds
26 Skeeter Barnes
30 Fred McGriff
34 Juan Gonzalez
35 John Smoltz
40 Ozzie Smith
75 Juan Guzman
107 John Kiely
135 Mickey Tettleton
154 Wes Chamberlain
179 Ken Griffey Jr.
240 John Olerud
280 Tom Glavine
298 Scott Livingston
300 Cal Ripken, Jr.
306 Damon Berryhill
333 Otis Nixon
353 Buddy Groom
392 Travis Fryman
700 Nolan Ryan
795 Deion Sanders

Other magnets I've seen include (but are not limited to):

1978 Topps Dale Murphy
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson
1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg
1984 Topps Traded Darryl Strawberry
1984 Topps Traded Dwight Gooden
1986 Topps Traded Bo Jackson
1989 Topps Mark Grace
1989 Topps Nolan Ryan

This ebay seller has a lot of both the cards and the magnets: http://myworld.ebay.com/1crybaby/.  His listing for a 1998 Topps Chan Ho Park is the most recent porcelain card I've found evidence of so far.

A few other collectors are also chasing down the porcelain cards of their interests:

Rickey Henderson Collectibles
Porcelain 1980 Topps Rookie Card

Collecting The Cubs
Porcelain Topps Cards made by R&N China

20 October 2010

1986 ProCards Waterbury Indians Bernardo Brito


     Unfortunately for all of us Brito collectors (read: me) Bernie had no baseball cards in 1984 & 1985.  No team sets for Batavia or Waterloo those years.  But young Senor Brito was a busy man.  In 1984, he must have found his stroke as he went from a .228, 11 home run hitter in 95 games split between Batavia and Waterloo to a .300 hitter with 19 long balls in just 79 games with Batavia in 1984.  Then back to Waterloo again for 1985, where, while his average dipped back to .257 he went deep 29 times, earning a spot on Cleveland's 40-Man roster (though no actual playing time).
 
     By the end of 1985, Brito had spent five years in A ball.  That winter, he headed home to play his first official winter league season for the Licey Tigres.  A great season with Waterloo was followed by a great season with Licey, where Bernie, with 7 homers and 35 runs batten in, earned an All Star selection as well as Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the Caribbean World Series roster of the Dominican League champs, Águilas Cibaeñas.

     In 1986, he'd long past earned his promotion to AA and a spot with the Waterbury Indians.  While his numbers were slightly down from the previous year, hitting only 18 home runs on the season against the tougher Eastern League pitching, he still managed to put on a show, such as his three dinger performance on July 22nd.  But in a glimpse of what might have been, from a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer from 24 October 1986, he beat out the boss, Indians president Peter Bavasi with a fishing pole:
Bavasi attended the Indians' organizational meetings in Florida earlier this month and received a fishing lesson from Bernardo Brito, one of the Tribe's minor-league prospects on their Instructional League team.

"When they're finished playing the games, a lot of the players go fishing," said Bavasi, an avid fisherman. "I've got hundreds of dollars worth of equipment and poles, but Brito said all he needed was a line, a hook and a sinker."

Bavasi supplied Brito with those basic tools and the outfielder sat down at the end of a dock.

"Here I am with a back pack, poles, waders and everything else," Bavasi said.  "All Brito did was bait the hook with a piece of banana, throw the line in, and catch a red snapper.  I didn't catch anything."

     ProCards was making their debut in the minor league team set arena in 1986, as evidenced by the complete lack of information about the players on the backs of most of the cards that year.   While ProCards was just getting warmed up, 1986 would be the least season for affiliated minor league baseball in Waterbury, Connecticut.  Cleveland would move their AA affiliation to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the 1987 season, and Waterbury wouldn't see another pro ball team until the independent Northeast League arrived in 1997 in the form of the Waterbury Spirit.  It would be short-lived as the Spirit would leave for Lynn, Massachusetts after the 2000 season.

09 October 2010

2000 Future Bee Power League UL box break (pack 7)

After the Mid-Season hiatus, we now return to the Power League UL box break.


Takeshi Hidaka  - still catching for Orix, only now for the Buffaloes and on a part-time basis.  Hit .279 in  79 games this past season and earned free agency for the second time in his career.
Takeshi Hidaka @ NPB Official Website


Hiroshi Gondoh - in 2000, the manager of the Yokohama BayStars.  In 1961, Gondoh was the recipient of the Eiji Sawamura Award, the NPB equivilent of the Cy Young Award.  While it's well established that Major League pitchers used to throw a lot more innings than they do today, they couldn't hold a candle to the mileage of Japanese pitchers.  Gondoh, a starter, appeared in 69 games in 1961, winning 35, completing 32.  Across those 69 games, Gondoh pitched 429.1 innings with an extremely stingy 1.70 ERA.  That's FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE.  The Major League leader in innings pitched in 1961 was Whitey Ford with 283.  This season's leader, was naturally iron man Roy Halladay with 250.2 IP.  The last time anyone threw over 400 innings in the Major Leagues was in 1908 when Ed Walsh pitched in an insane 464 innings (with a ridiculous 1.42 ERA), but that was also the dead ball era and the spitball was still legal.


Jun Inoue - part time outfielder with the Yokohama BayStars.  Over the course of his career, he never played more than 83 games in a season.  Granted I'm not doing any research here, but he seemed worth more than that, hitting over .300 several times. Unless he was just injury prone, he seems to have been given the short end of the stick in his career.


Makoto Shiozaki - another Orix mainstay, playing with the BlueWave since 1997, and stuck with the Buffaloes after the team merger.  Only played a handful of full seasons, so he looks to be a utility infielder. 
Makoto Shiozaki @ NPB Official Website


Nobuhiko Matsunaka - One of NPB's heavy hitters, seen here with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.  He would stay with the Hawks as the team changed ownership and became the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2005.  This is his card from the Super Rare insert set.  Matsunaka's power output peaked at 46 homeruns in 2005, but has dimmed somewhat over the past five seasons.  He missed a chunk of the 2010 season to a wrist injury.
Nobuhiko Matsunaka @ NPB Official Website


Hiroshi Shibahara - outfielder with the Hawks since 1997.

Hiroshi Shibahara @ NPB Official Website

02 October 2010

15 Years of Winfield Oddballs

A very eclectic mélange of goodies in the post today.

1989 Phoenix Collect the Stars Baseball Magnetables


I'm not sure why, but Beckett only lists 47 magnets in this set, while the Standard Catalog lists 156. For the 1990 set, Beckett only lists about 17 of a set of at least 115 and the Standard Catalog doesn't list the 1990 set at all.

1994 Minnesota Twins pocket schedule

There were at least three different pocket schedules in 1994 with this photo on the front. In addition to the SuperAmerica (a local convenience store chain in Minnesota and the Midwest) back, there were two others with different ads for WCCO TV on the back.

August 22, 2004 Be a Good Sport at the Dome Day


A stadium giveaway featuring a Minnesota legend and a Minnesota legend in the making, encouraging good sportsmanship by all. Respect the game, but have fun. And that's one to grown on!

30 September 2010

"Tickets...please." (Player photos on game tickets)

      One of the lesser known rarities that the middling player collector must pursue is the mostly uncatalogued season ticket depicting the player with whom the collector is obsessed.  While a few of these have made their way into the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, most of them are still just floating out there, sitting in junk drawers, shoe boxes or the pockets of coats and jackets sitting in the back of closets.  The lucky stubs turn up on eBay and end up in the collection of some loving family.


       Yeah.  Even minor league teams issued season tickets featuring players.  Good luck in the hunt!