Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Breaking the pattern

Did you practically jump when you saw this image on your blog roll? I did when I first pulled the card out of a PWE from Dime Box Nick.

It wasn't just the '70s white man's afro, or the wispy stache, or Larry Bowa staring unblinkingly back at me. It was that this card broke a pattern.

Once you've been collecting for awhile, you get to know cards so well that various sets follow patterns that become familiar to you. The dugout shots in 1981 Topps. The wacky cropping in 1982 Fleer. The distant players in 2004 Topps. The patterns become ingrained in your brain and you don't even think about them anymore. It's just a basic truth: There are a crap-load of players with no hats in 1970 Topps.

Kellogg's 3-D cards' basic truth is that images are torso shots. Batters posed in a stance or placed a bat on their shoulder. Pitchers propped a glove in front of their chest or faked a throw. Sometimes you saw a leg or two because another common pose was kneeling on one leg with bat leaned against it.

Card after Kellogg's card looks like this. The pattern lulled me into complacency.

And then I pulled that Kellogg's card of Larry Bowa's big head. AHHHHHHHH!!!!

It's made even more prominent because the size of 1981 Kellogg's cards amped up to regulation 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 cardboard size for the first time. And Kellogg's used bright yellow as a border for the first time. Please allow me to take a step back so I can view my cards.

I've always considered Kellogg's 3-D cards a phenomenon of the '70s, best kept in the '70s. But I'm not beyond collecting early '80s Kellogg's cards, too (particularly 1980, which I consider part of the '70s).

Nick sent me a few other bright yellows:

Tug, Davey and Al kept a proper distance, unlike Larry.

The majority of the PWE contained oddball cards, which is definitely a preference, particularly when it comes to '70s cards.

Here is an oddball from a set I am collecting (expect to see a want list for 1976 Hostess sometime this year). Cesar Cedeno doesn't appear to be bothered in the least by the crease mark crossing his cranium. And neither am I.

Another star of the '70s rainbow warriors, this time from the 1978 Hostess set. In actuality, I am collecting all the Hostess sets, just like I'm collecting all the Kellogg's sets, just like I'm collecting every card ever made in the '70s. There it's out now. I'm collecting every last thing from the '70s.

Whatever the kid was trying to accomplish here didn't work out. My guess is he was feverishly attempting a full bleed card years before Stadium Club arrived and things went haywire.

This is not from the '70s (nor the '50s). It's from a reprint set from 1983, commemorating the 30th anniversary of 1953 Bowman Color. I happen to have the actual '53 Bowman Charlie Dressen, so the thrill is gone here, but nice to see it in a slightly smaller size.

One of my favorite oddballs from the 1980s. As you know, Starting Lineup cards aren't the easiest to track. It took me awhile to discover that. But I'm very happy now whenever one shows up at my door. This one is from 1988, Guerrero's final year with the Dodgers.

Woooooooo! Another 1975 buyback! The back of this card is unchecked, meaning it's a shame they stamped this sucker. It's best it stays with someone like me, who has already completed the '75 set.

Here a couple of modern-card needs that don't really fit with the rest of this post, but I must show cards gifted to me, even if the scanner cropped off the bottom of the Pederson card.

As you know, today's modern-card patterns are full bleed, zoomed-in action shots with computer-graphic designs and sometimes hazy or blurred backgrounds. I'm hoping that pattern is broken someday soon.

(P.S.: The 1970 Kellogg's 3-D baseball set did feature some head shots, Rod Carew, Don Wilson, Joe Morgan, Wally Bunker among them).

Monday, January 16, 2017

One last look back, I promise

We are living in that no-man's land between last year's cards and the first Topps release of the 2017 season. There are two full weeks left in new cardboard purgatory.

I'm eager to put 2016 and its cards behind, but when you can't get your hands on 2017 cards yet, there is nothing more new than cards from 2016. Plus I need to clear out some cards from the scanned folder.

So here is one last look back on cards I scanned in 2016 but didn't feel like showing you when it would have been more appropriate.

I believe this card came from Cards On Cards. It's a numbered item from 2016 Chrome. I think I didn't show this because I was so devastated by the fact that blue chrome cards used to be my all-time favorite "fancy" cards back when THERE WERE BORDERS.

This card makes me sad. But it's too rare not to show, so here you go, after the fact.

I pulled this card out of the only Bowman pack purchase I made last year. I admit I was stunned to see a card of Bret Boone looking back at me. "Bret Boone? Did he make a comeback that I didn't know about?" It turns out that Boone is from a "rookie flashback" insert set, because rookies are so underplayed in the card world. They really need more exposure. Especially in Bowman.

Let's count all the logos on this card:

Topps logo - 1
Future Stars "logo" - 2
Rookie cup logo - 3
Opening Day logo - 4
Houston Astros logo - 5

Too bad we couldn't get the rookie card logo on there, too.

I scanned this card when I wrote the post on World Series Game 7's and Topps' recognition of them. Joaquin Andujar's Game 7 performance in 1982 was ignored by Topps, even years after it happened. But shame on me for not recognizing Andujar's looping signature.

I received several random packs of old cards from Angus of Dawg Day Cards last year. I showed each of them except for a pack of 1979 O-Pee-Chee Moonraker cards. (Yes, O-Pee-Chee Moonrakers). I've been saving them up for when the next James Bond movie comes out. Supposedly there are rumors out there now that there is a new James Bond actor. That's good enough to show you one OPC Moonraker card from the pack.

Speaking of Angus, here is one of the cards I picked up during that card show that he and I attended back in September. It's the Reggie from the 1978 Burger King issue.

The card is in spectacular shape, while my actual 1978 Topps issue Reggie is not. The thought has occurred to me that I could swap this Jackson card into the Topps set and replace the beat-up Reggie and no one would know.

But that wouldn't work because I'm the only one who looks at that binder and I WOULD KNOW. Stupid collecting conscious.

This card is from the 2016 Archives '69 Supers subset. I received this from gcrl at cards as I see them. It's nice that we have Archives and Heritage to mimic the photos from decades ago. I miss posed shots like this on flagship.

One of the best parts of retro sets is receiving another card of a player in a certain uniform that may not have gotten his due the first time around. Tommie Agee is best known as a Met and he does show up as a Met in a few Topps flagship cards (1970-72). But there is too much airbrushing going on with some of his cards during his Mets period, and a true shot aimed at Agee as a Met In Action was a rarity until the Ted Williams Company issued some cards.

(Agee's 1971 Topps card, of course, is famous for its action, but Agee's back is to the camera!).

I wrote that "One-Card Wonder" post last week, but I didn't show the one One-Card Wonder that I have pulled more than any other OCW. Jose Baez's card was one of those dastardly double-printed cards in 1978 Topps. I swear this card was in every third pack. So Baez really got his money's worth for having just one card.

I started with a catcher and I'll end with a catcher. I received this 1953 Topps card of Mike Sandlock from noted Pirates fan, David.

A '53 card and I didn't show it.

I have no explanation for that. 2016 was a weird year, I guess.

We just have to hold on two more weeks and the new cards will be out.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

C.A.: the review 4 (part 8)

I thought yesterday's post of a player being pictured in two different uniforms on the same card was pretty cool.

Apparently I was one of the few.

But that's why Night Owl Cards is close to a daily operation. You don't like one post, I got another one for you. That's why they play a baseball game every day. You have a bad game, you can redeem yourself the next day (not that I think yesterday's post was bad. If I might say so, I think it was stellar).

Today is the last segment of the first round of Cardboard Appreciation The Review 4. After this segment, we head into the semifinal round with two segments of four cards each.

But, as the local weather guy says, "I'm getting ahead of myself." Let's see which card advanced from the seventh segment of the first round:

The 1972 Steve Carlton Traded card grabbed the honors. I kind of figured he would. There wasn't a lot of competition.

Here are the vote totals:

1. 1972 Topps Steve Carlton Traded, 19 votes
2. 1954 Bowman George Shuba, 12 votes
3. 1975 Topps Maximino Leon, 8 votes
4. 2016 Topps Heritage Mets checklist, 7 votes
5. 1990 Donruss Joey Cora, 6 votes
6. 2010 Topps More Tales Of The Game Ruth Laps The League, 4 votes
7. 1990 Kmart Superstars Jeff Ballard, 2 votes
8. 2009 Upper Deck X Jack Cust, 1 vote

And here are the candidates for the eighth and final segment. There is a little more to choose from here:

1. 1998 Pacific Omega Mike Piazza: OK, OK, you need a player wearing THREE different uniforms on one card to be impressed. I get ya. It's a very impressive card.

2. 1983 Topps Dan Ford: There are also very few cards in which a player's inset photo is admiring the blast of the player's action photo.

3. 1976 SSPC Luis Tiant: If this card doesn't win the whole shootin' match, I'm gonna need you to explain it to Luis Tiant here. This particular version of Luis Tiant.

4. 2014 Stadium Club Sandy Koufax: Wooooooo! Great card of Koufax displaying a ball representing his four no-hitters. There's no way Nolan Ryan could have done that with the amount of no-hitters he threw.

5. 1977-84 TCMA Galasso Greats Larry Lajoie: Lajoie's more commonly known name was "Nap" Lajoie. And Lajoie appears to want to take a nap right here.

6. 1998 Skybox E-X 2001 Cheap Seat Treats Mike Piazza: More card craziness of Mike Piazza from 1998. How are you going to choose between this one and the three-team Piazza? And when you do, how are you going to explain it to Luis Tiant?

7. 1987 Topps Turn Back The Clock Maury Wills: This card pays tribute to a card that doesn't exist. And it's not the only card that pays tribute to this card that doesn't exist. So, for the last time, Topps, make that '62 Topps Wills card exist!

8. 1965 Topps Sam Bowens: Someone didn't want you to know that Sam Bowens was an outfielder. I still don't know what the "extra, extra" business was all about.

And there you go. That is the selection of cards that is receiving your vote this week. The poll is on the sidebar (ignore that it says "Part 7" on it, someone already voted and I can't change it). Vote whenever you like before next Sunday.

I can't make it any easier than that. I'll probably even have another post for you tomorrow.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

'56 of the Month: Wally Westlake

Two things jumped out at me when I first viewed this card sent by Cardboard Catastrophes. One is on the front and one is on the back.

Since we're looking at the front, I'll address that first. The wonderfully alliterative Wally Westlake is wearing a Phillies hat and is indeed listed with the Phillies. He was signed by Philadelphia in November, 1955.

But look closely at the illustrated image of Westlake swinging a bat and what do you see? Yes, you see a man wearing a Cardinals uniform.

What the heck?

Westlake did play for the Cardinals -- he played for a lot of teams -- but that was back in 1951 and 1952, four years prior to this card being issued. Since the '56 Topps cards often feature illustrated versions of black-and-white photographs, I'm wondering why the artist didn't merely sketch in Phillies colors and Phillies notation instead of picturing him with two different teams on the same card (although, I admit that phenomenon is all too rare and quite fun).

Now, let's turn the card over to the back, which isn't nearly as odd, but quite informative.

In the middle cartoon, we are told that Westlake "with Pitts in '48 ... hit a single, double, triple and home run in 1 game." That is otherwise known as a "cycle," and the illustrator could have spelled out "Pitts" if he merely wrote "cycle." But then illustrators aren't known for their way with words.

But the interesting part to me is this was only the first time that Westlake hit a cycle in a major league game. He also hit for the cycle in 1949 (the first was against the Dodgers and the second against the Braves, and both times were when he played for the Pirates).

According to Wikipedia, Westlake is one of only three players to hit for cycles in back-to-back seasons. George Sisler and Mickey Cochrane are the other two (there are several showoffs who have hit two cycles in one season, Aaron Hill being the most recent). Westlake is also one of only 29 major leaguers to hit for at least two cycles (John Reilly, Bob Meusel and Adrian Beltre have each cycled three times).

That is certainly some excitement that Westlake executed within his first three seasons in the majors. And Westlake's career was pretty bright his first five years with the Pirates. He drove in more than 80 runs three times and hit in double figures in homers all five years. Branch Rickey liked him so much that he reportedly tried to swindle Westlake for the Dodgers, but the Pirates wouldn't bite.

Then in the middle of Westlake's best season in 1951, Rickey -- now with the Pirates -- traded Westlake to the Cardinals. Westlake admitted to being shook up by the deal and he never hit like he did with Pittsburgh. He became a journeyman, playing for three teams in 1952 and six teams overall during his 10-year career. It makes you think how famous he would have been if he had hit the way he did in Pittsburgh for his entire career.

Westlake, whose final season was his five games with the Phillies in 1956, is now 96 and ranks as one of the 10 oldest living former major league players.

The oldest living major league player is Bobby Doerr at age 98. Doerr also hit for the cycle twice in his career.

So now you know that two cycles per major league career is the secret to a long life.

Friday, January 13, 2017

13% on Friday the 13th

Those of you who have been hard-core team collectors for a decade or so, on average how many cards do you figure you need when you land a random lot of your team's cards?

I've never really kept track. But it's something I'd like to figure out. So I'm using a bunch of Dodgers that I received from Johnny's Trading Spot as kind of the guinea pig test case. John and I are trying to work out a deal for that John Smoltz autograph card I pulled, but in the meantime he landed about 300 random Dodgers on me.

Out of those 300 cards, I counted 40 that I needed. That comes to 13 percent.

You may have winced at that number. But I can tell you're not a veteran team collector. I am actually thrilled that I need that many. You may think that there are very few Dodger cards that I need. I don't see it that way at all. I see Dodger cards that I need every day. And they're not super fancy or old Dodger cards. They're random base cards from like 2 years ago that I need.

So 40 Dodgers I have now that I didn't have yesterday? That is success.

And it's the reason you will see all of them here tonight.

Some of these were nowhere near my radar. A late '90s promo card and players from two '90s prospect sets? They weren't even on my want lists.

Also not on my radar. A 1989 Score World Series card that I probably should have grabbed for my collection 28 years ago.

Players long forgotten and cards that don't scan well. That can only mean one thing: cards from the turn of the century!

Players shown with one team and listed with another. That's a good way to avoid my want list, no matter how hard I try to get them on there.

I have no idea what's going on with my '95 Archives want list. It claims I have all the '55 Topps-style cards already. Clearly I do not.

Parallels and inserts!!! Moss has covered the bullpen gate at Dodger Stadium!!!

This card completes the '96 Leaf Preferred Dodger set. At last something I can cross off completely. Thirteen percent AND a team set completed.

This is probably not a Dodger card, but it's too cool to leave out. Pepsi apparently produced a set in 1995 recognizing all the sports events and leagues it sponsored. This card pays tribute to the Los Angeles Pacific Coast League team in 1941.

Did you know there was a 5-by-7 card of Smokey the Bear congratulating Steve Sax on his ability to throw to first base again? The things you discover in this hobby.

Finally, these are some cards from the 1979 TCMA Stars of the '50s Dodgers set.

OK, now you've seen all of the ones John sent.

And now you've seen all 40 cards.

Or all 13 percent.

I couldn't have asked for any more than that.