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

     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.

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
50 Chad Qualls
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

      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

     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

    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: