07 December 2014

1987 ProCards Williamsport Bills #1401 Bernardo Brito


    1987 arrived to find Bernardo Brito still in double-A ball, still in the Eastern League, but now in the uniform of the Williamsport Bills (the Indians having relocated their Eastern League affiliate from Waterbury during the offseason).  Brito's initial contract with the Indians had lapsed after the '86 season, but the March 1987 transaction sheets show the Indians signing him to a new one-year contract.  Given that this would be his seventh season in the organization, and he had shown a bit of pop, I suspect this was something of a "one last look" signing to see if Bernie would do something the Indians just couldn't live without.

15 November 2014

Winfield in the Round with Corners (Part 4)

     When perusing the offerings on eBay while hunting for these various circular issues, one will encounter any number of "uncut", "proof" or just plain "square" versions of almost every MSA-produced disc.  In most cases these are not, in fact, proofs, they are simply pieces cut from a larger poster.  From about 1985-1990, a great many of these MSA discs were accompanied by a mail-in offer to order the complete set as a poster.  The posters were intended to exist as just that, a poster.  They were almost always without borders or perforations and not intended to be chopped into pieces anymore than was the cover of a Red Foley's Best Baseball Book Ever was intended to be hacked to to bits and sold as "cuts".

12 November 2014

Winfield in the Round (Part 3)

1989 Cadaco Ellis

     This is one of those issues I used to see in the big price guides and had no idea what it was.  Then I happened across a copy of the Cadaco Ellis All-Star Baseball game in a Walden Books in the mall (yes, this was years ago).  Sadly, I was an extremely brainwashed mainstream soul in those days, so concept of playing a board game that wasn't produced by Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley was somehow foreign to me and I didn't give this game a second thought.  For most of the years the game was produced, these were just blank discs with players names on them and no pictures like this one:

     But by 1989, everyone was getting a license from MLBPA, so Cadaco Ellis added player photos to the discs, courtesy of Mike Schechter & Associates.  Here is a good website that explains the game, and apparently still creates new discs for players, even though the actual game is no longer produced.  I imagine it has a following similar to the various statistics based games like APBA.

07 November 2014

Winfield in the Round (Part 2) - More MSA Madness

    All throughout the mid 1980s, Mike Schechter & Associates continued to churn out promotional tie-ins for the MLBPA.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the item), Dave Winfield figured into most of them.

1985 MSA Thom McAn / JOX

02 November 2014

Checklist Translations: 1998 C&C 1997 Chinese Pro-Baseball (CPBL) [COMPLETE]

    In 1998, Golden International Corp. (國堡國際股份有限公司), was enlisted to produce the yearly cards for CPBL.  The company produced two different sets, C&C and Diamond, that represented different price points in the hobby, similar to how Score issued both Select and Pinnacle or how Fleer issued Ultra and Flair.  Neither set was big on presenting statistics or biographical information, instead focusing on the photography, offering quality color photos on both sides of the card.  The C&C set was the pricier of the two offerings, selling in 1998 for 50 yuan (Taiwan New Dollars), which was roughly $1.60 U.S.  Production was reported at 8,000 boxes of 36 packs each.  Not sure exactly how many cards came per pack, and I have been unable to find any images of the packaging.

     The C&C set consisted of 221 base cards, organized by team in the order of the standings for the 1997 season.  In a move that I'm surprised I've never seen with an American card company, the base checklists for both the C&C and Diamond sets are identical.  The insert sets in the C&C set covered the more standard subjects seen in most CPBL sets, Best 9, Gold Gloves, Monthly MVPs and seasonal Award Winners.  Being the "high-end" set, the C&C inserts all feature some manner of die-cutting.
  • All-League Best 9 (9 cards) limited to 5555 cards
  • Gold Gloves (9 cards) limited to 5555 cards
  • Monthly MVP (8 cards) limited to 3200
  • Award Winner (14 cards) limited to 1200
The set is described in this blog post, from which almost all of the information in this post was derived:

The Award Winner set is shown here:

The Best Nine set is shown here:

The Gold Glove set is shown here:

The standard base card front and back:

Chao-Huang Lin

01 November 2014

Checklist Translations: 1998 Diamond 1997 Chinese Pro-Baseball (CPBL) [COMPLETE]

    For 1998, yet another company, Golden International Corp. (國堡國際股份有限公司), was enlisted to produce the yearly cards for CPBL.  Looking at the company's website today, I get the impression that the CPBL was basically price shopping each year, looking for the best deal from whichever printing company they could get, similar to how minor league teams tend to switch between Grandstand, MultiAd/Brandt and Choice Marketing or just printing the sets locally.  As such, until TSC came along, it doesn't seem like there were actually any real "sports card companies" in Taiwan, just marketing companies contracted to produce the sets.

    The company produced two different sets, C&C and Diamond, that represented different price points in the hobby, similar to how Score issued both Select and Pinnacle or how Fleer issued Ultra and Flair.  Neither set was big on presenting statistics or biographical information, instead focusing on the photography, offering quality color photos on both sides of the card.  The Diamond set was the cheaper of the two offerings, selling in 1998 for 30 yuan (Taiwan New Dollars), which was roughly $1 U.S.  Production was reported at 8,000 boxes of 24 packs each.  Not sure exactly how many cards came per pack, and I have been unable to find any images of the packaging.

     The Diamond set consisted of 228 base cards, organized by team in the order of the standings for the 1997 season.  There were two unnumbered checklists covering all of the base and insert cards. The insert sets were all serial numbered and covered the usual subjects:

Hot Rookies (11 cards) limited to 4500 cards
HR Hitters (11 cards) limited to 4500 cards
Power Pitcher (7 cards) limited to 3500 cards
Record Breaker (7 cards) limited to 3500 cards
The Franchise (7 cards) limited to 2400 cards
Career 100 HRs (3 cards) limited to 3200 cards
Autographs (3 cards) limited to 100 cards

The set is described in this blog post, from which almost all of the information in this post was derived:

The base cards can be seen in this album:

The standard base card front and back:

Ted WoodFeng-An Tsai

31 October 2014

Quirks of the modern "certified" autograph

     Autographs are a funny thing in the modern hobby.  There are various schools of thought regarding them, how to collect them, how to buy and sell them.  Some fans are all about the chase, picking up as many "In-Person" (IP) and "Through-The-Mail" (TTM) autos as they can get, while not really caring too much about actually buying an autograph second-hand.  Then there are those who won't touch an autograph unless it came in a pack as part of an official product issued by a fully (or partially) licensed card company.

    These different perspectives make for some interesting dynamics in the pricing of autographs of the non-prospect and less than Hall of Fame caliber players.  Many collectors consider an auto of John Tudor or Paul Assenmacher to be filler, and complain loudly when pulling one of these instead of a Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols or [insert overpriced, hot prospect of the week].  Other collectors get excited about those infrequent autographs of Bill Madlock or Carlos Baerga in something like Topps' Fan Favorites sets.  But in the U.S. market, rarely does that more obscure player's signature command much, if any, premium even when they do turn up.  There are numerous Bill Madlock autos, both certified and not, that failed to clear the $5 mark recently on eBay, and that is including shipping and handling.

    Throw in the Japanese market, and suddenly the whole market is turned on its head.  In 2013, BBM issued two sets dedicated to foreign (basically any non-Japanese) players to appear in Japan over the past 35 years or so.  In some cases, these resulted in the only pack-issued, certified autographed cards for some of these players.  Many of these players were so completely off the radar of the U.S. card manufactures that they would likely never even get an honorable mention to be included in a Fan Favorites type set.  These are players whose non-certified (IP or TTM) autographs regularly fail to get even a minimum bid on eBay.

    Yet have that player sign a limited quantity of cards in a set in Japan, and in some cases, you get what you see at the top of the page.  That is a screen capture from a completed Yahoo! Auction from Japan of Hensley Meulens' only certified auto.  The card was limited to only 48 copies.  That card sold for 10,500 yen, which at the time of the auction was about $100 U.S. dollars.  A cool Benjamin.  For an autograph of Sir Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulens.

     A month earlier, the Bill Madlock from the same set, limited to 39 copies, sold for 12,650 yen or about $120 U.S.  Those two mark the high end of the spectrum, but other players hit similarly surprising numbers; Roy White ($30), Ralph Bryant ($52), Benny Agbayani ($30), Gene Bacque ($85), Darryl Spencer ($40), Don Buford ($25), Jim Paciorek ($50).  Even the likes of Mike Easler, Juan Eichelberger, Lee Stevens and Willie Fraser clear $10-$15.  Even Tuffy Rhodes autos still clear $25-$40 in Japan and he's got dozens of certified issues there.

    My apologies to anyone who has read this far expecting a payoff.  There's not really a moral to this story, so much as a pile of frustration for someone who collects lesser known players who happened to spend time in Japan.  Out of a print run of 48 cards from a set issued in another country, of which there are still plenty of unopened boxes on the market, it is unlikely I will ever be able to track down that Meulens card at anything like a price I'd actually be willing to pay.  I love this hobby, but sometimes it drives me crazy!

27 October 2014

Checklist Translations: 1993 Chinese Professional Baseball League [COMPLETE]

     For the 1993 season, with the league expanded by two teams, the official CPBL set expanded to 205 cards, comprised of 161 base cards and the rest dedicated to various special events and player awards and holograms.  The holograms (cards 186-194 &196-205) represent the annual award winners, limited to 5000 copies, and monthly MVPs from the season, limited to 3000 copies. The color scheme for this issue is on the team names (in English) along the bottom edge on the front, and as a bar containing the team, player name and uniform number on the back. After three years of plastic cards, the 1993 set was issued on the more traditional paper cardstock.  With the larger set came larger packs.  For 1993, the cards were issued in packs of 10 cards.

The set is described in this blog post:

The annual award and league leader subsets can be seen here:

The Gold Glove subset can be seen here:

The cards can be seen in this album:

The base card front and back:

Chien-Fa ChangChung-Yi Huang
The monthly MVP card front and back:
Milton Harper

16 October 2014

2007 Israel Baseball League Inaugural Season

    Begun in 2007,  the Israel Baseball League only survived a single season due to various (mostly financial) reasons.  However, the league still managed to produce a set of baseball cards.  Martin Abramowitz, the gentleman behind the Jewish Major Leaguers sets of baseball cards issued in the last 10 year or so, produced a 19-card set for the league to be sold at the ballparks.  The production was limited to 3,000 sets.

23 September 2014

Die 2012 Diving Ducks Limited Edition Baseballkartensammlung

    GO DUCKS GO!!!  Behold, my latest international acquisition, all the way from Austria!  No, not the place with the wombats and wallabies.  Austria; the place by Germany and Switzerland.  In Europe?  The place with the history.  Das land von baseball!

    Celebrating 25 years of Diving Ducks baseball, the team from Weiner Neustadt of the Austrian Baseball League issued a set of 18 cards.  The set documents the players from the team's anniversary season.  I learned about this set entirely by accident as I was compiling my International Baseball Keyword Cheat Sheet.  Sadly, of the six teams in the Austrian Baseball League, only the Ducks had baseball cards, and them only this one set.

     The cards could either be bought from the team's webstore as a complete set for €10 or in packs of 5 cards for €1,50 each.  Since shipping TO the United States is a lot cheaper than shipping FROM the United States, when I finally figured out how to register, I had to pick up a set and some packs.  About a week after my order, the following arrived in the mail:

    The "card stock" is really more of a highly glossy paper.  These are about as thick as your average Wired magazine cover.   Aside from the high gloss coating on front and back, they have about the same weight as the Alaska Goldpanners cards from the mid-1990s.  The fronts feature an assortment of action and closeup shots (no studio portraits/mugshot-style photos), the player name and number.  Faintly against the photo is the "GO DUCKS GO!!!" text.  Along the very bottom of the front, in tiny stylized text is printed "diving ducks baseball cards - limited edition 2012".  On the top 40% of the backs is another action photo along with the players' 2012 batting and pitching stats, as well as a "25 YEARS DIVING DUCKS BASEBALL WR. NEUSTADT" vertically along the either the right or left side.


   The cards are unnumbered, but do feature the players' uniform numbers on then front, so I've checklisted them accordingly.
3  Martin Cuperus
4  Armin Alteneder
5  Jan Alteneder
6  Krisztian Völgyes
7  Matthias Scheicher
12 Victor Torres
13 Clemens Seiser
14 Christian Scherz
15 Ferdinand Obed
16 Sebastian Scheicher
20 Ryan Kroko
21 Julio Diaz
22 Clemens Cichocki
23 Manfred Heisler (Coach)
27 José Ortiz
31 Jayson Wall
46 Claus Seiser
75 Elias Perez

11 September 2014

Checklist Translations: 1999 T-Point 1998 Chinese Pro-Baseball [COMPLETE]

    The license for producing the official CPBL set changed hands for the league's 9th season.  The new set was produced as "T-Point 1998 CPBL Traditional Card" and came in foil packs of 8 cards.  The base set contains 188 cards, distributed unevenly between the six teams present in the 1998 season.  There were seven limited print run insert sets.  These sets covered 1998's crop of rookies, monthly MVPs, yearly award winners and league leaders, Best Nine, Golden Gloves, game used jersey cards and autograph cards.  There was also a redemption set for autographed versions of the jersey cards.

The set is described, with examples of the packs, all card types and much more detail, in this blog post:

The base cards can be seen in the accompanying album:

The Award Winner set is shown here:

The Gold Glove set is shown here:

The standard base card:

024 front166 back
     Below is the complete checklist as I've managed to construct with much assistance from jackli7751.  The scans in the album cover only the base cards through #001-188. I'm updating the insert sets as I find them. Thanks to Mr. Westbay over at JapaneseBaseball.com, I have been able to complete the base set checklist with player data from one KT Chiu of the mostly defunct TWBaseball.info to translate the names.

07 September 2014

Catching Up With Bam-Bam's SGA Team Set Cards

    As I seem to have missed the last few of his newer cards, this should clear the to-do list on recent acquisitions for my Meulens collection.  Sponsorship for the yearly San Francisco Giants stadium giveaway team set has changed hands multiple times since 2012.

    The set had been sponsored by Emerald Nuts for several years, but that ended in 2012 with this set (which is a glaring example of why foil text on card fronts is a bad idea):

05 September 2014

Dave Winfield - Traveling Man (Part 4)

    As aging All-Stars get to the point in their career where their long-term contract prospects have dried up, but they're still producing respectable numbers, their opportunities lend more toward the short-term, hired gun variety.  In Dave Winfield's case, it was also an opportunity to play in front of his hometown. Dave was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was a star baseball and basketball player for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, so it was an easy decision for him to sign with the Twins, joining a roster that included another future Hall of Famer, Kirby Puckett.

     Winfield signed with the Minnesota Twins in mid-December 1992.  By that time, the first series of all the main 1993 sets had already been printed and were already being shipped.  As a result, Winfield would appear as a Blue Jay for the first couple months of the baseball season.  However, given the move to multiple series and the expansion of sets issued around the start of the season, there were a lot of non-update type cards to feature Dave in his new duds.  I'll just take these alphabetically.

03 September 2014

Inconsequential Variations (Part the Third): 1991 Line Drive AAA team sets vs pack-issue

     In 1991, the "pre-rookie" fad was still in full swing, and still no one really cared.  Despite all the marketing of minor league cards as the best way to get in on the ground floor of future Hall of Famers, the cards just didn't sell.  The only minor league cards anyone was remotely interested were those issued in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Cramer, Chong and TCMA.  By the time Impel had joined the party, there had already been two years of mass produced, pack-issued minor league sets from ProCards, Star and Best Cards, and they still weren't generating much excitement.

31 August 2014

Album Oficial Acereros de Monclova 1974-2011

     In 2011, marking the 37th anniversary of the team, the Acereros de Monclova, a team in the northern division of the Mexican League, produced a 26 page album and 196 sticker set spanning their entire history.  The Album Oficial Acereros de Monclova 1974-2011 was arranged by decade, and featured team photo puzzles and stickers for several prominent players for each era of the team.

30 August 2014

Inconsequential Variations (Part the Second): 1989 ProCards AAA team set vs pack-issue

    Flying well under the radar is this variation of the 1989 ProCards AAA set, or sets.  It is that last bit that is significant for in 1989, ProCards issued it's blue Triple-A cards in two different formats.  The primary method of distribution, as they had been using since 1986, was to issue team sets to be sold or given away at minor league ballparks.  This version of the cards was made available sometime in mid-1989, and as such featured the players' statistics through the end of the 1988 season.  This version of the card sometimes featured local sponsors logos on the back.

14 August 2014

International Baseball Card Keyword Cheat Sheet

      Below are various terms one might find useful when attempting to search for information about baseball cards in languages other than English.  Within some languages there are regional variations, This is especially true of Spanish.  I am no linguist, so these are all very much a layman's guide to these terms as I have encountered them in my web surfing.

09 August 2014

Community Project: Help validate the 1985 MSA Subway Discs checklist

     I began this project on the Freedom Cardboard and Net54Baseball forums, but thought I should also post it here in hope of attracting a wider audience as I know there are many collectors who do not frequent the hobby message boards.  This post will be updated and re-published as new information is uncovered.

     1985 saw the release of two nearly identical sets of MSA discs (which unfortunately looked almost exactly like most of the previous years MSA discs sets). There was the Thom McAn/JOX set, issued as a promotion for Thom McAn's JOX tennis shoes, and the completely anonymous Subway set, that looked exactly the same, but was blank on the back. 

08 August 2014

CPBL Sets For an Ever-Shifting League

       Late last year (2013), I got excited by a posting on the official CPBL blog on what I thought would be the first real set to contain a card of Manny Ramirez in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.  Manny played for the EDA Rhinos for the first half or so of the 2013 CPBL season, and as the league usually issued sets after the end of the season, I thought it reasonable to expect to see a card with Manny in a Rhinos uniform by early 2014.

18 June 2014

Player Collecting: Team photos, remember those?

     On the rare occasion that a player collector gets to the end of the line when it comes to traditional baseball cards, having picked up a copy of every different card (documented or not) that exists for a particular player, the yearning to pick up something else persists.  In that situation, the mind wanders to other items featuring player photographs, be they magazines, game programs, pocket schedules or what have you.  Quite possibly the oldest, yet frequently neglected item available to the dedicated player collector is the team photo or team picture.
1869 Peck & Snyder Red Stockings
1869 Peck & Snyder Red Stockings

     Some of the earliest documented baseball cards are actually just team photos, usually tied to a sponsor or business of some sort.  While technology has improved in photography and printing, the same arrangement that existed between teams and sponsors in the 1880s is still alive and well today in the form of team pictures as stadium giveaways and newspaper premiums.  In fact, this is usually the only way team pictures are made available in the present.  And don't think it's just a baseball thing, pretty much every pro and college team sport issues team pictures in some format.

     As a collectible, they are often overlooked for reasons of storage.  In most cases over the last 30 years, team pictures are large.  Usually 11" x 14" or bigger.  In some cases, they are more posters than what one might think of a simply a "photo".  My collection of team photos is only about two years old, but quickly grew to include 20 or so items, ranging from large postcards to posters.  Below are what I have and what I'm hunting for each of my player collections.

Dave Winfield

    Naturally, having played the longest, Winfield has the most team pictures available, especially given that the San Diego Padres started issuing team photos, sponsored by the San Diego Union-Evening Tribube, back in their minor league days as far back as 1964, and continuing with various sponsors through 1995.  As a result, Winfield's entire time as a Padre is covered.  These were generally large photos, measuring 14"x11".

1973 San Diego Padres
(this should have the blue banner at the bottom, but it was trimmed off my copy)

1974 San Diego Padres

1975 San Diego Padres

1976 San Diego Padres

1977 San Diego Padres

1978 San Diego Padres
(I have this one, but it is in pieces, so I'm looking for an intact copy)

1979 San Diego Padres

1980 San Diego Padres
(pretty sure this was taken in front of the Hilton out on Harbor Island Dr.)

The only form I can find the 1980's & early 1990's New York Yankees team photos are in the form of these stadium giveaway mugs.  You can see several of them here:

New York Yankees Fan Day mug SGA Collection 1977 - 1995

1990 California Angels

1991 California Angels

1992 Toronto Blue Jays - sponsored by MCI

1992 Toronto Blue Jays - issued by The Postcard Factory

1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays /  Maxwell House 5" x 7"

1992 Norman James 1992 World Champions Toronto Blue Jays Poster

1995 Cleveland Indians Photo File
I don't know whether or not there was any kind of official team picture issued for the '95 Indians, but I did finally land this Photo File collage of the team.  I suppose it will have to do.

Hensley Meulens

    Given the Yankees lack of traditionally issued team pictures, most of what I've found for Bam Bam have been minor league team pictures.  These are typically stadium giveaway items from the first couple of months into a season.

1987 Prince William Yankees

In the case of the 1990 Columbus Clippers, the team photo was combined with one of their yearly baseball card sets.

In 1992, the Columbus Clippers issued several posters featuring the team in the throwback uniforms of previous teams to play in Columbus.  Each poster contained a photo of the 1992 team along with a few historical photos of players from the earlier team.

1992 Columbus Buckeyes poster

1992 Columbus Senators poster

1992 Columbus Red Birds poster

1992 Columbus Jets poster

1992 Columbus Clippers poster

1993 Columbus Clippers - sponsored by Nickles Bakery and Jolly Rancher
  Unfortunately, Hensley Meulens face is semi-obscured by a printing/ink issue.

2005 Indianapolis Indians - Team Picture Night, 29 April 2005

2006 Indianapolis Indians - Team Picture Night, 21 April 2006, sponsored by Pepsi & BAND-AID, first 4,000 fans.

2007 Indianapolis Indians - Team Picture Night, 20 April 2007, first 4,000 fans.

2008 Indianapolis Indians

2012 San Francisco Giants - 18" x 12"

Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes

   Despite playing pretty much the whole season with the Tucson Toros in 1990, Rhodes did not make the team picture that season.

1991 Tucson Toros - Sponsored by Hinckley & Schmitt.

1993 Omaha Royals

Roberto Kelly

1993 Cincinnati Reds - The Reds issued these team photos consistently (and with the same basic design) from at least 1967-1998.  The photos were usually given away with a sponsor's coupon attached.  The design changed in 2000.

1997 Seattle Mariners - Two posters were produced, one measured 11"x14" and  was sponsored by the Seattle Times & J.C. Penney.  The other was 9.5"x14" and was given away at Safeco Caravan stops in the offseason.

1999 Texas Rangers - This poster was sponsored by AT&T.

Dave Henderson

1982 Seattle Mariners - 8" x 10"

1983 Seattle Mariners - sponsored by Showbiz Pizza

1984 Seattle Mariners - 14" x 8.5" poster

1991 Oakland Athletics - poster sponsored by Kodak

2014 Oakland Athletics 1989 World Champions 25th Anniversary

Bernardo Brito

1990 Portland Beavers

1991 Portland Beavers

1992 Portland Beavers?

1993 Portland Beavers (Smoky Bear 50th)

Dann Howitt

1987 Modesto A's - 10.75" x 8.25"

Steve Howard

1985 Modesto A's

1987 Huntsville Stars
       The highlight is that Walt Weiss is making a face at the camera dead center in the second row.