17 December 2016

1981 Baseball Cards Magazine Index [in-progress]

Baseball Cards, Spring 1981, Issue #1, Volume 1, No. 1

Cover: Honus Wagner, 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, 1974 Topps Dave Winfield
Articles:
"Errors Discovered in '81 Fleer"by Larry Fritsch, p14. Detailing the errors/corrections in the 1981 Fleer set.
"In'the Beginning..." by Vivian Barning, p18.  Collecting strategies to fit a budget.
"Is PVC Destroying Your Cards?" by Bob Lemke, pp28-30, 79.  A detailed explanation about the dangers of storing cards in PVC pages.
"Players in Plastic" by Bob Parker, pp32, 64.  Hartland Statues from the 1940s-1960s.
"An Investor's View of Baseball Cards" by Tony Galovich, pp37-40, 80-83.  An in-depth look at the finer points of various factors to account for when viewing baseball cards as investments.
"Collecting Your Favorite Team" by Doug Watson, pp42-48, 84-85.  St. Louis Cardinals collectibles.
"Before the Surgeon General's Report" by Lew Lipset, pp52-57, 78.  19th Century tobacco cards.
"The Cards That Go 'Clink' " by Jim Nicewander, pp58-63.  Baseball coins by Armour, Salada, Topps, Old London and Citgo.




Baseball Cards, Autumn 1981, Issue #2, Volume 1, No. 2
Cover: 1953 Topps Andy Pafko, tobacco cards
Articles:


06 December 2016

Clyde's Stale News II


     For the first time ever, Panini is FINALLY issuing a baseball sticker set for a country other than the US or Venezuela.  Panini will be producing a sticker set and album for Liga de Beisbol Dominicano (LIDOM) this season.

18 November 2016

More Team Photos (with Bernie!)

     In a major score, a seller on eBay recently posted a ton of old team photos, and luckily for me, those included four previously unknown (to me) that included one Bernardo Brito!  The 1981 and 1983 photos are all folded three ways which leads me to believe they were mailed out on request, rather than handed out out at the ball park, the 1983 photo even having a Batavia business card attached.
     Bernie played the better part of four seasons in Batavia, New York, with the Trojans, who were the low A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians at the time. In this first picture, we have Bernie in his first professional season, standing on the left end of the back row.  Bernie didn't have a very structured introduction to baseball in the Dominican Republic, so 1981 would have been a major adjustment for him, speaking little to no English and really only knowing how to crush a baseball against teenage pitching.  That he is even in this photo at all is something of a surprise as he only played 12 games for Batavia in 1981.


     Despite his unimpressive initial showing, Bernardo returned to Batavia for the 1982 season, this time appearing in 41 of the team's 75 games that season.  He improved a bit, showed some of that pop he was signed for with four home runs, and actually stole a base, which is impressive as he only stole 24 in his entire minor league career.  Here, Bernie is in the third row, four down from the man in the suit.  I had to adjust the exposure on the scan as a black & white photo of all of those dark jerseys didn't make for a very good photo.  In any case, looks like Mr. Brito blinked at exactly the wrong time.


     1983 saw Bernardo Brito returning for his third season in Batavia.  This time around, he appeared in 60 games, and had improved enough that he was promoted to High A Waterloo for part of the season.  He didn't stick, though, his batting average dropping 40 points with the change of scenery and he was back in Batavia for the 1984 season.  Another case of the photographer apparently not using a fill light.  Had to adjust the levels again just to make out Bernardo's face.  This time he's on the back row, third from the right.

     The sellers that listed these apparently did not have a 1984 photo of either Waterloo or Batavia, but I did land this 1985 Waterloo Indians photo.  In 1984, Brito finally started to put the pieces together in his hitting game and finished with 19 home runs and a .300 batting average.  That was enough to earn him a promotion (again) to Waterloo for the '85 season.  This time around he did not disappoint and racked up  29 home runs, to lead the Midwest League.  Accordingly, Bernie would not spend another season in A ball and would be play the 1986 season with the Indians AA affiliate Waterbury Indians.


    After five years in A ball, Bernie finally made the jump to AA, in 1986, to play with the Waterbury Indians, and it took a bit of adjustment.  I've heard it said that the jump from A to AA is almost the same difference in level of competition as the jump from AA to the majors.  His average and power numbers dropped a bit, but not an alarming amount.  He would recover all of that when the team moved to Williamsport in 1987.



    Skipping ahead to 1987, Bernardo made what at first glance appears to be a lateral move, but in fact was just him repeating a grade.  After the 1986 season, Cleveland moved their AA Eastern League affiliate from Waterbury to re-establish baseball in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (which had been without baseball since the Williamsport Tomahawks closed up shop in 1976) with the creation of the Williamsport Bills.  Bernie put up another good year at AA, batting .277 and clobbering 24 home runs, tops in the Eastern League.  1987 would be the final year for Brito in the Indians organization as he would be released the following spring, to be signed as a free agent by the Twins the following week.



17 September 2016

1988 Best Orlando Twins #28 Bernardo Brito


    Following a 1987 design that resembled 1986 Donruss, Best Cards patterned the fronts of their 1988 team sets after the 1986 Topps set.  I think I actually like Best's approach a little better, though the "Orlando '88" is perhaps a bit reduntant, due to the inclusion of the team logo.  Best Cards' back designs didn't change much for the entire 1987-1990 length of their existence, and were always a bit spartan.

     After seven seasons in the Indians organization, 1988 found Bernardo Brito still murdering the ball, but also still stuck at the AA level.  In early March, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a good feature on Brito that helped explain his seeming lack of progress.  Bernardo was from the hills of San Cristobal, not the bigger cities of Santo Domingo or San Pedro de Macoris, and didn't grow up in quite the same baseball saturated environment as most young Dominican prospects.

     "He's still got a long way to go," [Luis] Isaac said. "He never had any coaching when he was a kid.  He never heard of a cutoff man or a bunt play until he got here.  Usually it takes Latin players about three or four years longer to reach their maximum."

     Isaac was the scout who heard about Brito and drove into the mountains of the Dominican Republic to find and, ultimately, sign him.  The article goes on to say that Brito  would most likely only succeed as a designated hitter, but then explained how most such players were usually experienced veterans, and that it would be difficult for a rookie to break into the majors in the DH role.  To me that was, perhaps, a perfect description of Major League baseball's perpetual resistance to the entire concept of the DH.  Basically until Edgar Martinez came along, it was somehow foreign to just put a good hitter with limited fielding ability in the DH role and take full advantage of that.  Most designated hitters were either aging veterans who no longer had the mobility to play in the field, or utility-type guys who were perhaps too good to leave in the minors, but little more than average bats in the Majors.

    Despite the praise and high hopes by March 25th the Indians decided he was a no longer a prospect and released Bernardo Brito.  Five days later, Brito was signed by the Minnesota Twins and sent to Orlando, their AA affiliate in the Southern League.  By June 15th, Brito was leading the Southern League in home runs for the Twins with 15.  By July 5th, Brito had been named to the Southern League All-Star team and was leading the league with 19 HR and 57 RBI.  Not bad for a non-prospect!

03 September 2016

Player Collection Bobble Heads

     I was excited when some of the players I collect started having bobble heads issued, and couldn't wait to add them to my collection.  I try to stay under $25 if at all possible, and have been fairly successful with that approach, but at least one will likely remain out of reach.  Dave Henderson was issued a bobble head by the Yakima Bears in 2009.  No clue why they did it, as Hendu never played for Yakima, and they were not an Oakland afilliate, but when they surface, they usually sell for over $250.  It is, however, one of the better likenesses I've seen on a bobble head.

     Prior to becoming a coach for the Giants, Roberto Kelly managed their Single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League from 2005-2007.  He led the Greenjackets to 1st place finishes in 2006 and 2007, and won SAL Manager of the Year honors in 2006.  Kelly's very first bobble head was given away by the Augusta Greenjackets on July 30, 2016.



     Dave Winfield is now represented in bobble head form by 4 of the 6 teams for which he played over his 20+ years in the Majors.  The Padres have now issued three bobble heads for Big Dave.  The one shown here was given away at Petco Park on June 15th, 2003.  There is also a more rare version featuring Dave in a brown jersey.  It tends to be much pricier than the more common white jersey version.  Winfield got one more bobble head from the Padres, a mini, that was limited to 2000 and given away at the 2016 All-Star Fan Fest.  It looks to be 4-5" tall.  I'll probably pick one up after the prices settle down a bit.

      The Yankees bobble head was not a stadium give away (the Yankees still don't seem to care much for Winfield, even all these years later), but rather is an exclusive from Man of Action Figures, a Miami, Florida based action figure store.  They have a large presence online and on eBay.  I am grateful for them as they produced Winfield's only Yankees figure of the man since his retirement.  According to the eBay listing, it is limited to 288 pieces, but can be had for a very reasonable $14.99 + $13.99 shipping (which might seem steep, but it arrived quickly and fully intact).  The Yankees bobble actually reminds me more of Walt "No Neck" Williams than Dave Winfield.

     Toronto honored Winfield with a Blue Jay bobble head on April 7th, 2002.

     Two bobble heads have been issued by the Minnesota Twins for the home town favorite.  The one with the green base was issued on July 22, 2001, in honor of Winfield's Hall of Fame induction.  Given the serial numbers on the laminated card that came with the statue, I suspect upwards of 10,000 of these were given out at the stadium.  The second, with the red base, was given out to Twins season ticket holders for the 2002 season, and is supposedly limited to about 2500 pieces.  As he played for the Angels for a season and a half, I'm hoping to one day see an Angels bobble head issued for Winfield, but I'm not holding my breath for anything from Cleveland.



     Tuffy Rhodes received three bobble heads, all in fairly quick succession, during his time playing with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.  I previously posted about the double bobble with Nakamura.  Each of the individual bobble heads was supposed to come with a Buffaloes lanyard (typically for carrying your game tickets), but all I received was the figures.  I haven't been able to track the exact release information, but I suspect these were released (from left to right) in 2001, 2002 and 2003.  I have seen a small figure of Tuffy in his Orix uniform, but I think it is just a statue and not a bobble head.



     I have yet to post anything about my collections of players who share my last name (or derivations thereof), but thus far it seems only one of them has a bobble head to his name.  That would be Josh Pressley.  He was a decent hitting first baseman who bounced around a lot from 1998-2006 before finally hitting the independent circuit where he would spend the rest of his career.  His one statue comes from the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League, where he played for 5 seasons.


10 June 2016

Hobby Archaeology: 1978 Sports Photo Assoc(iates) 3-inch Pins

     Another area that is perhaps a bit neglected in the sports memorabilia hobby would be the various round, pin-backed badges produced by a variety of parties and issued though a multitude of avenues.  While some sets are very well documented, others just seem to coast along in an odd state of limbo.  One such set that is both very well known, yet very poorly documented would be the "1978" Sports Photo Associates pins.  I put 1978 in quotes because, while almost all of the pins issued feature a 1978 copyright notice along the outer edge, the set clearly extended well beyond 1978.

     In addition to the set being extended across several years, there are also multiple sets that seem to overlap in that time period.  I will try to break them down as well as I can, with the relatively limited information I have, and try to put some order to the chaos.

    In 1978, "Sports Photo Associates" began issuing two sets of numbered pins, three inches in diameter, full color, and based on uncut sheets found on eBay, they two sets were printed together for at least part of the run.  One set featured contemporary players and managers, mostly featuring the individuals name, a facsimile signature and a small number.  The other set had "Baseball Hall of Fame" arching across the top, in a sort of gothic calligraphy, and featured the players name and a number beginning with 'HF' and showed a copyright of either 1978 or 1981.  The Hall of Fame set seems to have included 40 players as follows:

HF1Babe Ruth (1978)
HF2Lou Gehrig (1978)
HF3Jackie Robinson (1978)
HF4Hank Greenberg (1978)
HF5Lou Bourdeau (1978)
HF6Al Kaline (1978)
HF7Hank Aaron (1978)
HF8Yogi Berra (1978)
HF9Ernie Banks (1978)
HF10Eddie Mathews (1978)
HF11Whitey Ford (1978)
HF12Bob Feller (1978)
HF13Monte Irvin (1978)
HF14Roy Campanella (1978)
HF15Roberto Clemente (1978)
HF16Bob Lemon (1978)
HF17Sandy Koufax (1978)
HF18Willie Mays
HF19Bob Gibson (1981)
HF20Duke Snider
HF21Robin Roberts
HF22Joe DiMaggio (1981)
HF23Ted Williams
HF24Mickey Mantle (1981)
HF25Brooks Robinson
HF26Frank Robinson
HF27Hank Aaron
HF28Juan Marichal
HF29George Kell
HF30Walter Alston
HF31Jack Brickhouse
HF32Harmon Killebrew
HF33Pee Wee Reese
HF34Luis Aparicio
HF35Don Drysdale
HF36?
HF37Enos Slaughter
HF38John Mize
HF39Hoyt Wilhelm
HF40Lou Brock


     The other main set was numbered from '1' to at least '363'.  The last two pins I've seen were of Pete Rose, and the second highest numbered was '344' and featured him in his Montreal Expos uniform  (these can be seen over at 4192cards.com).  Several players were included multiple times.  In some cases, as with Dave Winfield and Pete Rose, with different teams.  In other cases, players were included on multiple pins for the same team, including Reggie Jackson, Fred Lynn, George Brett and Johnny Bench.  The Fleer Sticker Project features an interesting post about this set as the pins were available as part of a promotion on 1981 Fleer wax wrappers.  The Sports Photo Associates also seems to have beena resource for photos for Fleer for their inaugural sets.

1981 Fleer and Sports Photo Associates Buttons

     Below is the checklist I have assembled so far (which will be updated as new pins are uncovered). Thus far, it covers 242 of the known 400+ pins in the set:


1Ron Guidry (Yankees)
1Ron Guidry (ASCCA advertisement)
2Jim "Catfish" Hunter (Yankees)
3Rich Gossage (Yankees)
4Thurman Munson (Yankees)
5Ed Figueroa (Yankees)
6Willie Randolph (Yankees)
7
8Billy Martin (Yankees)
9Reggie Jackson (Yankees)
10Lou Piniella (Yankees)
11Graig Nettles (Yankees)
12
13
14
15
16Bucky Dent (Yankees)
17
18Greg Luzinski (Phillies)
19
20
21Larry Christianson (Phillies)
22Larry Bowa (Phillies)
23
24Ron Reed (Phillies)
25Steve Carlton (Phillies)
26Tug McGraw (Phillies)
27
28
29
30
31Mike Schmidt (Phillies)
32
33
34
35
36Jim Rice (Red Sox)
37
38
39Carlton Fisk (Red Sox)
44
45Fred Lynn (Red Sox)
47Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox)
69Dave Parker (Pirates)
71Willie Stargell (Pirates)
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81Rich Gossage (Yankees)
82
83George Brett (Royals)
84Bob Lemon (Yankees)
85Mike Flanagan (Orioles)
86Jim Palmer (Orioles)
87Eddie Murray (Orioles)
88Ken Singleton (Orioles)
89Frank Robinson (Orioles)
90Andre Thornton (Indians)
91Toby Harrah (Indians)
92Rick Manning (Indians)
93Rick Waits (Indians)
94Duane Kuiper (Indians)
96Dennis Leonard (Royals)
97Paul Splittorff (UER, Last Name Misspelled)
98Darrell Porter (Royals)
99Fred Patek (Royals)
100Amos Otis (Royals)
101Al Cowens (Royals0
102Al Hrabosky (Royals)
103Clint Hurdle (Royals)
104Sparky Lyle (Rangers)
105Jim Sundberg (Rangers)
106Bert Campaneris (Rangers)
107Richie Zisk (Rangers)
108Al Oliver (Rangers)
109Jim Kern (Rangers)
110Buddy Bell (Rangers)
111Chet Lemon (White Sox)
112Don Kessinger (White Sox)
113Lamar Johnson (White Sox)
114Jorge Orta (White Sox)
115
116Dwight Evans (Red Sox)
117Dennis Eckersley (Red Sox)
118Larry Hisle (Brewers)
119Mike Caldwell (Brewers)
120Robin Yount (Brewers)
121Gorman Thomas (Brewers)
122Sixto Lezcano (Brewers)
123Ron LeFlore (Tigers)
124Mark Fidrych (Tigers)
125Jason Thompson (Tigers)
126Dave Rozema (Tigers)
127Rusty Staub (Tigers)
128
129
130Rick Cerone (Blue Jays)
131
132Nolan Ryan (Angels)
133Frank Tanana (Angels)
134Bobby Grich (Angels)
135Don Baylor (Angels)
136Joe Rudi (Angels)
137Rod Carew (Angels)
138Matt Keough (Athletics)
139
140Dave Revering (Athletics)
141John Henry Johnson (Athletics)
142Butch Wynegar (Twins)
143Dave Goltz (Twins)
144Roy Smalley (Twins)
145Ruppert Jones UER (misspelled Ryppert, Mariners)
146Leon Roberts (Mariners)
147Bruce Bochte (Mariners)
148Dan Meyer (Mariners)
149Pete Rose (Phillies)
150Dave Kingman (Cubs)
151Bobby Murcer (Cubs)
152
153Bruce Sutter (Cubs)
154Ivan DeJesus (Cubs)
155Ted Simmons (Cardinals)
156Gary Templeton (Cardinals, no signature)
157Lou Brock (Cardinals)
158Bob Forsch (Cardinals)
159Ron Cey (Dodgers)
160Tom Lasorda (Dodgers)
161Davey Lopes (Dodgers)
162Reggie Smith (Dodgers)
163Don Sutton (Dodgers)
164Tom Seaver (Reds)
165Johnny Bench (Reds)
166Joe Morgan (Reds)
167Dave Concepcion (Reds)
168George Foster (Reds)
169Ken Griffey (Reds)
170Phil Niekro (Braves)
171Jeff Burroughs (Braves)
172Gary Matthews (Braves)
173Biff Pocoroba (Braves)
174Bob Horner (Braves)
175Ross Grimsley (Expos)
176Gary Carter (Expos)
177
178Ellis Valentine (Expos)
179Tony Perez (Expos)
180Vida Blue (Giants)
181Willie McCovey (Giants)
182Jack Clark (Giants)
183Gary Lavelle (Giants)
184Bill Madlock (Giants)
185Dave Winfield (Padres)
186Gaylord Perry (Padres)
187Rollie Fingers (Padres)
188
189J.R. Richard (Astros)
190Cesar Cedeno (Astros)
191Bob Watson (Astros)
192Enos Cabell (Astros)
193Yogi Berra (Yankees)
194Bill Buckner (Cubs)
195
196Doug DeCinces (Orioles)
197Tommy John (Yankees)
198Steve Kemp (Tigers)
199Darrell Evans (Giants)
200Thurman Munson (Yankees)
200Thurman Munson (Yankees)
"The Captain 1947-1979"
201Craig Reynolds (Astros)
202Joe Niekro (Astros)
203Paul Molitor (Brewers)
204Scott Thompson (Cubs)
205Jerry Martin (Cubs)
206Ray Knight (Reds)
207
208
209Keith Hernandez (Cardinals)
210Earl Weaver (Orioles)
211Brian Downing (Angels)
212Alan Bannister (White Sox)
213Ken Kravec (White Sox)
214Lance Parrish (Tigers)
215Willie Wilson (Royals)
216
217Jerry Koosman (Twins)
218Rick Bosetti (Blue Jays)
219
220Joe Sambito (Astros)
221Lee Mazzilli (Mets)
222Fred Lynn (Red Sox)
223Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox)
224Bucky Dent (Yankees)
225Rick Cerone (Yankees)
226Bobby Murcer (Yankees)
227Oscar Gamble (Yankees)
228
229Dale Berra (Pirates)
229Phil Garner (Pirates)
230Bill Madlock (Pirates)
231Omar Moreno (Pirates)
232Dave Collins (Reds)
233Johnny Bench (Reds)
234Junior Kennedy (Reds)
235Billy Martin (Athletics)
236Nolan Ryan (Astros)
237
238Cecil Cooper Brewers)
239Ben Oglivie (Brewers)
240George Brett (Royals)
241Joe Lefebvre (Yankees)
242Ruppert Jones (Yankees)
243Bobby Brown (Yankees)
244Jim Spencer (Yankees)
245Bob Watson (Yankees)
246Rudy May (Yankees)
247Steve Stone (Orioles)
248Kiko Garcia (Orioles)
249Al Bumbry (Orioles)
250Rick Dempsey (Orioles)
251Maury Wills (Mariners)
252Bump Wills (Rangers)
253Mike Norris (A's)
254Rickey Henderson (A's)
255
256Steve Trout (White Sox)
257Jose Cruz (Astros)
258Jeff Reardon (Mets)
259Neil Allen (Mets)
260Alex Trevino (Mets)
261Len Barker (Indians)
262Lonnie Smith (Phillies)
263Joe Charboneau (Indians)?
264
265Bob Stanley (Red Sox)
266Dennis Eckersley (Red Sox)
267Jim Rice (Red Sox)
268Glenn Hoffman (Red Sox)
269Carlton Fisk (Red Sox)
270Manny Trillo (Phillies)
271Tug McGraw (Phillies)
272
273Bob Boone (Phillies)
274Larry Bowa (Phillies)
275Bake McBride (Phillies)
276Garry Maddox (Phillies)
277Dave Winfield (Yankees)
278Jerry Mumphrey (Yankees)
279Dave Kingman (Mets)
280Rusty Staub (Mets)
281Mookie Wilson (Mets)
282Hubie Brooks (Mets)
283
284Steve Balboni (Yankees)
285Joel Youngblood (Mets)
286
287Reggie Jackson (Yankees)
288
289Dale Murphy (Braves)
290
291Reggie Jackson (Angels)
292Steve Sax (Dodgers)
293
294
295Fernando Valenzuela (Dodgers)
295Dave Righetti (Yankees)
296Dave Winfield (Yankees)
297Steve Kemp (Yankees)?
298Tony Armas (Red Sox)
299
300
301Charlie Moore (Brewers)
302
303
304Cal Ripken Jr. (Orioles)
305
306Darryl Strawberry (Mets)
307Jody Davis (Cubs)
307Leon Durham (Cubs)
307Wade Boggs (Red Sox)
308Mel Hall (Cubs)
308Hal McRae (Royals)
309Ryne Sandberg (Cubs)
310Fergie Jenkins (Cubs)
311Ron Kittle (White Sox)
312Ted Simmons (Brewers)
313
314Greg Luzinski (White Sox)
315Keith Moreland (Cubs)
316Don Sutton (Brewers)
317
318Jerry Remy (Red Sox)
319
324Bo Diaz (Phillies)
327Gary Matthews (Phillies)
330John Denny (Phillies)
331
332
333
334
335
336
337
338
339
340Dan Quisenberry (Royals)
341Steve Bedrosian (Braves)
342
343Glenn Hubbard (Braves)
344Pete Rose (Expos)
345Tom Seaver (White Sox)
346
347Julio Cruz (White Sox)
348Doug DeCinces (Angels)
349Fred Lynn (Angels)
350Bob Boone (Angels)
351Mike Boddicker (Orioles)
352
355Bob Dernier (Cub)
356Scott Sanderson (Cubs)
357Gary Matthews (Cubs)
359Jack Morris (Tigers)
360Alan Trammell (Tigers)
361Kirk Gibson (Tigers)
362Lee Smith (Cubs)
363Pete Rose (Reds)
400Ron Cey (Cubs)
795Jody Davis (Cubs)
802Rick Sutcliffe (Cubs)
808Keith Moreland (Cubs)
818Davey Lopes (Cubs)
824Dennis Eckersley (Cubs)
868Ryne Sandberg (Cubs)
870Ryne Sandberg (Cubs)

     To help confuse matters, unnumbered pins were issued for the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Pirates and Phillies.  These often feature the same photograph, but merely lack the small number on the front.  There were also a set of 4-inch pins issued for teams featuring multiple players.  Also pins 795 and up may not actually be part of the larger set.


SPA-1New York Yankees (1979)
SPA-2Los Angeles Dodgers (1979)
SPA-3Philadelphia Phillies (1979)
SPA-4Boston Red Sox (1979)
SPA-12Philadelphia Phillies (1982)
SPA-20Chicago White Sox (1983)
SPA-22Philadelphia Phillies (1983)
SPA-23Chicago Cubs (1984)

---UPDATE---
 Thanks to Cliff Bowman, from the Net54Baseball.com forum for the addition of the most recent 25 pins.

08 June 2016

Hensley Meulens International League Hall of Fame Induction

     Hensley Meulens spent parts of six seasons in the International League as a player, most notably 1988-1993 with the Columbus Clippers, and 1997 with the Ottawa Lynx.  Once his playing days were over, he returned as a hitting coach for the Indianapolis Indians from 2005-2008.   I don't take much time off work, but this week I made an exception and drove up to Columbus, Ohio, to witness the induction of Sir Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens into the International League Hall of Fame.  Below is my shaky cell phone video of the ceremony.


     It was a beautiful evening for baseball at Huntington Park, with a season-high crowd of 11,373 turning out for the event.  I guess some of them also showed up to see the Clippers face the Indians (not a good night for Ross Detwiler and the Clippers) or maybe for Sugardale Dime-A-Dog night (10 cent hot dogs!).  In any event, in honor of Sir Bam Bam, the team was giving away these canvas printed plaques covering his career with the Clippers:


     I had really hoped to get a chance to finally meet the man himself, but it just never happened, mostly because I got wrapped up in the game and didn't think to go hang out by the Hall of Fame plaque after the ceremony.  However, he did notice me!  I was sitting in the front row behind the plate, right by the Clippers dugout, wearing my Hensley Meulens San Francisco Giants 2010 World Series away jersey, and he saw me from the second level box where he was sitting with his family and sent this down to me:
     He did smile and wave to me when he came through the dugout onto the field.

     The I.L. Hall of Fame now occupies two of these plaques, so next year they will need to start on a third.  Out front of the stadium is a bronze statue of Harold Cooper, the business man who brought baseball back to Columbus after the Cardinals had moved the previous affiliate (the Columbus Red Birds) to Omaha following the 1954 season.  Cooper bought the International League team in Ottawa and relocated them to Columbus, establishing the Columbus Jets.  Fast Forward to 1970, and unable to work out a deal for improvements to their existing stadium the team was again sold and was moved to Charleston, West Virginia, and became the Charleston Charlies.  The Clippers began in Columbus in 1977, in the same stadium, and in 1984 it was officially renamed "Cooper Stadium".  Harold Cooper is in the upper left corner of the plaque below.  Hensley Meulens is in the lower right.
  



  Here is a closeup of 2016's inductees:
    



25 May 2016

Ralston Purina 1987 Collectors' Edition


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


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



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

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


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

[UPDATE - 25 May 2016]

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

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

     Both sets and uncut sheets are still readily available for cheap on eBay, usually under $10, though the Honey Graham Chex poster seems to be far less available than the Cookie Crisp, which stands to reason as only 1/4th as many were printed.  The checklist is as follows:

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

20 May 2016

More Team Issue Photo Card Goodness

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

Houston Astros

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


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

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

Philadelphia Phillies

2016
     The Phillies have been producing these 4"x 6" cards for years, usually as complete sets as stadium giveaways or for purchase at the merchandise stand.  As with most years, this set is fairly comprehensive, weighing in at 40 cards, including coaches.

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

Baltimore Orioles

2016
    The Orioles also continue to issue a set of oversized 3.5"x 5" photo cards. The cards look nearly identical to the previous few years.


Pedro Alvarez
Brad Brach
Zack Britton
Dylan Bundy
Don Chiti
Scott Coolbaugh
Chris Davis
Bobby Dickerson
Ryan Flaherty
Yovani Gallardo
Kevin Gausman
Mychel Givens
J. J. Hardy
Ubaldo Jimenez
Adam Jones
Caleb Joseph
Hyun Soo Kim
Wayne Kirby
Manny Machado
Brian Matusz
T. J. McFarland
Darren O'Day
Jimmy Paredes
Nolan Reimold
Joey Rickard
John Russell
Jonathan Schoop
Buck Showalter
Chris Tillman
Mark Trumbo
Matt Wieters
Tyler Wilson
Vance Worley
Mike Wright

16 May 2016

1984 Greensboro Hornets Team Photo

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


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

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

"Steve who," you say?

Steve George!

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


03 April 2016

Checklist Translations: 2008 TSC Sinon Bulls [In Progress]


      In 2008, for the second year TSC (Taiwan Sports Cards) issued a pack-based set for the Sinon Bulls.  The set featured 108 base cards, facsimile autographed parallels, and the usual smattering of autographs, photo cards and memorabilia cards.  A subset, as card number 109, featured 200 different cards, each limited to 24 copies, dedicated to Tai-Shan Chang's 200 career home runs.  At this point, I think I have everything listed except the photo cards.
   
The set is described in this blog post:
http://jackli7751.pixnet.net/blog/post/35643421

The base set, parallels and examples of most of the inserts can be see here:
http://photo.pchome.com.tw/super0825/032/

The standard base card front and back:


15 March 2016

1987 Smokey Bear 38th Annual Fresno Hot Stove League Dinner


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

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

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


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

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

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