Monday, November 30, 2009

When '71s collide

As you may know, I have been the recent recipient of several delightful 1971 Topps-themed packages (yes, I said it. I said "delightful." It's a word. I said it. Move on).

The package from reader Doug was supposed to be the last of the '71s for now. He sent me a few 1971 wants in exchange for some early "aughts" cards that I really didn't need. But then, out of the blue, our beloved Collective Troll sent me a package that also included some '71 Topps.

And, naturally, that meant that many of the cards that I received from Doug suddenly had a twin!

The Jim Wynn card up top became this:

Zounds! My Wynn has a twin! It's a Wynn-Wynn situation! ... OK, I'll stop now.

Unfortunately, I don't know who sent me which Wynn. They're all mixed up now. I also don't know who sent me which Walt Williams:

But I do know both have "No Neck."

Here are two Black Barts. Or, if you're going to be formal, Bob Bartons. Black Bart's real first name was "Bartholomew." Bob Barton's middle name is "Wilbur." Just thought you should know.

And lastly, two Jerry Kenneys. He's the second guy I think of, after Horace Clarke, when I pine for the days when the Yankees sucked. That was before my time, and I feel robbed of the experience. At least I had the late 1980s.

I'm pleased to own duplicates of these cards and a couple of others. And that's because I know a few folks who are collecting the '71 set, and I'm hoping these can fill a hole or two in their collections.
Meanwhile, both Doug and Marck found cards that were unique to each package. Doug sent me this card of Rob Gardner, who was born in the town where I first came to love baseball. Unfortunately, Gardner didn't have anything to do with that.

Doug also sent a couple cards for team/set needs. Howe's destined for a Dodger binder. Hernandez is an upgrade for the 1976 Topps set.

I have wanted this card for decades. My 1977 Dodger team card is a decrepit, poor excuse for cardboard. This makes me much happier.

Doug also sent some minty 1974 Traded cards for my upgrading pleasure. Look at all that yellow. It drowns out the airbrushing, but not Bob Johnson's mustache.

Not to be outdone, Troll tackled a couple of 1971 Dodgers needs:
These two fine cards mean I need just Don Sutton and Richie Allen to complete the '71 Dodger set. I figured Allen would be last. It took me forever to find him the first time.

Marck also found the last Dodger card I needed for the Updates & Highlights set, except in gold form. I believe the regular version is being sent to me. When that arrives I will have two cards featuring Broxton in his biggie-sized pants. Those pants would keep some card companies stocked in plain-white relic cards for decades.

I also received a couple Dodger coins from Marck. I have no idea where folks get/got these coins. They are so foreign to me.

And finally, an invitation to be a Derby Girl! I am honored, Troll, but I don't think I'm the type they have in mind.

As always, thanks a bunch. I'll be working on a stack of cards for Troll this week. Meanwhile, check out his contest. He's a generous guy. In fact, all of you folks rock. Always.

More trade stuff coming!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brush with greatness: John Doherty

Reporters notice certain ballplayers immediately. They are the players who are friendly, personable and always available. They are often articulate and can be counted on for a quote in good times and bad.

I have been lucky enough to find several players like that during my journalism career, in pro baseball and otherwise. Sean Casey was one of those players. And so was John Doherty.

These are the players that end up with jobs in the broadcasting industry. You see them on Baseball Tonight or some similar gig. Curtis Granderson is destined for that kind of role. I figured the same for John Doherty. But he went in a different direction after his major league baseball career ended.

Doherty's career lasted just four years. He had a solid 1993 season with the Tigers, but was finished after three games with the Red Sox in 1996. I came across him during his first year in professional baseball, with the Tigers' Single A team in Niagara Falls.

Doherty was the closer for that team in 1989, and he was one of the best players. He was the only player from that team to last in the majors for more than a couple of years. It's easy to see the weak points of players at that level. They show themselves on almost a daily basis. But there were few weaknesses apparent in Doherty. He was consistent throughout the season.

Through it all, he was always friendly and seemed to look forward to my conversations with him. He had only one complaint with me: once I referred to a home run that he allowed as "towering." It was a stupid, cliched word and probably not accurate. Doherty called me on it, but in a joking manner.

He refused to talk to me only once. Niagara Falls played a game in Welland, Ontario, on the final day of the season for the right to advance to the playoffs. Niagara Falls lost in extra innings on an error by the shortstop, and Doherty -- almost perfect through the season -- was the losing pitcher. Almost in tears, he shook off my interview request. It was very strange to see him that way.

Years later, after Doherty made the majors, I noted how Detroit reporters always seemed to quote him. Mitch Albom featured Doherty at least a couple of times. Sometimes it makes me cringe how reporters gravitate to the quote machine. It's too easy. Seeing Derek Jeter receive constant air time simply because he almost always makes himself available is annoying. It cheats the reader/viewer. Unless I was in a desperate situation, I would always make sure to try to get quotes from players who had an impact on the game.

But I do know that lots of players make that difficult. The players don't talk, or if they do, they're short or hostile. Some players just can't string sentences together, and others speak only in cliches. So, when you see a guy like Doherty, that's a keeper.

I knew when Doherty left Niagara Falls, that other sportswriters along the way would appreciate him. Just like I knew when Casey left Niagara Falls that he'd be popular in whatever city that came to know him.

I also figured Doherty would land on TV after his career. A native of New York City, he seemed destined to be in lights even after baseball. That didn't happen. He seems to have gone the teaching route. He has worked in camps and clinics near where he grew up.

I hope part of what he teaches the young baseball players is the proper way to deal with the media. Because he had that part down.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Almost as overwhelming as going through my email after a week away from work ...

Take it easy. I said "almost." I would never bring you folks down to the level of drudgery I currently experience with my present employer.

It's just that "catching up" has been on my mind, seeing as I have been on vacation all week. On Monday, I'll take the first hour-and-a-half of my shift to wade through the ridiculousness of the past week while I was away (I know what you're thinking. But I absolutely refuse to check my work email when I am on vacation. I would much rather go through the "Monday after" ritual than do that).

Plus, I returned home from three days away and couldn't believe the number of card blog posts logged since early Wednesday. Wow. How'd you guys fit in time to eat Thanksgiving dinner? I threw in a couple of pre-written posts, but aside from that, I was basically a long way from blogville.

It took me a few hours, but I think I'm officially caught up, although I'm sure I've missed a few.

One thing I'm not caught up on are trade posts. I came home to three more card packages, which means I'm about 7 or 8 posts behind. You know what that means. I'm going to have to start double-bagging some of these.

But I won't with this one here. I figure he's waited the longest, so he gets a post all to himself. Besides, Max, always produces some terrific cards.

Unlike the last time, when he showered me with about two-thirds of the 1984 Donruss set, this was a package filled with Dodger goodies. So, as we enter the Christmas season, let's see what the good jacob mrley dropped down the chimney:

Max is always good for a sample card. I love sample cards. Not as much as oddballs and blue refractors, but they're somewhere on the list of my favorite kinds of cards. Yes, that's a future post. Sure, you can steal it if you want.

More from the "favorite kind of cards" list. O-Pee-Chee! OPC is much better if the photo is different from the main set. But these aren't.

Oh, this definitely is not a favorite kind of card. I received a few of these. Press proof parallels was a disease of the '90s. The die-cut look and the wacky repetitious Donruss symbols in the background add to the craziness that was card collecting in the '90s. (I did note that each card on the back says "1 of 1500." Not sure what that means).

I enjoy the Ted Williams Card Company cards. Max sent a couple of Roy Campanella. You have to appreciate a card that features someone in an Elite Giants uniform on the front and the phrase "one heck of a bat" on the back.

This is a cool card. I believe these 1991 Ballstreet cards came from a magazine. There was card investment information on the back as well as a colossal failure of a prediction: "Look for Strawberry to head the Dodgers to a World Series, as he will undoubtedly have a great season in L.A." It also says that Strawberry's '84 Donruss card could hit $100 by the end of the year.

Chew on that while you wonder why Strawberry is sitting in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Some Timeless Teams Steve Garvey. I love those cards.

Max sent what I believe was the entire team set of 1985 Fleer, plus at least one of the Update cards that I needed. I think I only needed 4 or 5 of the cards from the regular set. But he knocked them all out.

Speaking of a set completion, I needed 3 of the 4 Dodgers to complete the 1982 Topps Traded set for the team binder. Max took care of that, too.

And, he apparently is paying attention to the blog, because he sent the last Dodger 2009 O-Pee-Chee card that I was lacking. Yay! Completion from the weirdest set of 2009!

Last card. It is a completely awesome card from 1996 Fleer Ultra of Hideo Nomo. It's transparent and looks great on a black background. I'm almost hesitant to put it in a binder.

Max sent a bunch of other cool cards: Score traded needs, Ticket to Stardom and X needs, a Fleer Ultra '91 update card. Wonderful.

He also sent a couple of cards of Ron Cey in a Cubs uniform. I'm going to ignore those. They just look wrong.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The worst card of 2009, contestant #12

Here is another card that I have waited to obtain before making it a Worst Card of 2009 candidate.

The Upper Deck Retrospective card orgy is a terrific example of quantity over quality. More is better. Might makes right. All you can eat. Consume, consume, consume. It is Black Friday isn't it?

Some might ask: what's wrong with that? After all, we are throwing money down to buy something frivolous. Pieces of cardboard with pictures on them. And in many cases, the more cards a collector has, the happier he is. Upper Deck is giving you more cards, right?

Well, it's the kind of cards, we're getting.

Actually, I don't have that much of a problem with the restrospective set. I don't even have a problem with pulling retrospective cards in my packs, as long as they are baseball players. Because even if I'm not interested in that player, I probably can find someone who is.

Now, basketball, hockey or college football players present more of a challenge. I'm not interested in the cards and the group of people I know who are interested shrinks significantly.

But stuff like the "I Love You Virus" I'm guessing appeals to virtually no one. There is no connection to baseball or sports whatsoever. And it's even less appealing than pulling a political or historical figure, who might have some significance or is at least human.

To me, this card is a complete waste of everyone's time. I also don't subscribe to the idea that at least you're learning something from the card, and your brain might be the better for it.

I didn't sign up for a non-baseball history lesson when I bought the cards. The pack advertises baseball cards, not "great moments in computer hacking." I would not be happy if I went to the grocery store to get peanut butter and the woman behind the check-out unexpectedly threw in some brussel sprouts, charged me for them, and excused it by saying, "they're good for you." I DON'T CARE. I WANTED PEANUT BUTTER, NOT VEGETABLES THAT MAKE ME GAG.

And I wanted baseball cards, not a flippant review of cyber criminal behavior.

This is candidate #12 for the worst card of 2009. And I might dislike it most of all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Awesome night card, pt. 61

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. For me that means the same thing that it means to most people: turkey, stuffing (my favorite part), pies, football, family and lots and lots and lots of kids.

But it also means the likelihood of posing for a family photo. My mother is a camera fiend.

I actually admire her tenacity, because she does not have willing subjects. My brother is notoriously uncooperative. I am more cooperative but am a lousy camera subject. There are many, many horrendous photos of myself in mid-blink or mid-grimace.

It is my hope that I can at least manage to look like Dave Parker or Ryne Sandberg when the flash dazzled this pair of all-stars as Keith Hernandez walked past.

And if that's my goal, then you know I'm in deep trouble.

Have a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving.

My Matt Kemp card pipeline

It's strange to me that some folks seem to have a limitless supply of Dodgers. Especially Dodgers of the "hit" persuasion.

I've mentioned recently how often I pull hits of my favorite team. It's happened three times. Fortunately, other people have much better luck. And "the bearded one" is one of those other people. Beardy has sent me not one, but two Dodger hits of the SAME PLAYER.

The first one was the Matt Kemp '08 A&G autograph card, which has become one of my favorite autograph cards.

Then he sent me this Matt Kemp jersey card. It's tremendous, too.

Now, other generous folks have sent me Kemp au/gu cards as well, but I think Beardy has some direct line to Kemp hits. And, thankfully, I have a direct line to Beardy.

Last Friday I found a package in the mailbox from none other than the follically blessed and wondered if the Kemp pipeline was still flowing.

Here is some of what I found:

A 1996 Fleer Ultra card of Greg Gagne. This was the Dodgers' shortstop of the future in 1996. He lasted two seasons as a starter for L.A., which then decided that was enough. Do you realize the Dodgers' top shortstop of the 1990s was probably Jose Offerman? Ugh.

A 2001 Upper Deck Pros & Prospects card Kevin Brown. "Pros & Prospects" -- well, that's a catch-all phrase. It's like "Bed, Bath and Beyond." With a name like that, you had better sell everything.

A 2009 Topps Chrome refractor card of James McDonald. I have the regular, refractor and xrefractor recipes. Just need that beautiful blue refractor (yeah, I know there's gold and red, etc., etc., but I'm not a high roller).

Oooh, a 1997 Donruss Limited card of Hideo Nomo, with a baseball in the background that looks like it was designed by Liberace. Sparkly! The back features a photo of the Indians' Charles Nagy (the reason for, the Counterparts heading). The ball behind Nagy is a dull, lifeless gray. So we know whose card this is.

OK, here we go with the Kemp card. Beardy knows how to find that gap in the collection. I've got the Bowman Chrome version of this 2007 card, but somehow hadn't obtained the regular Bowman card yet. Sweet.

There was not a single moment of doubt, was there? Beardy comes through again! I'm hesitant to ask how many packs of Icons he bought to get this. Icons gets insanely boring after just a couple of packs. But I know Beardy likes eBay shopping, so maybe that's where it originated.

All I know is, I'm woefully behind in finding an Oriole relic to send. I'm starting to think they just don't make them. There must be a ban in place somewhere. Have I mentioned pulling four Angels relics this year? I even came up short of finding O's at the recent card show.

That will be rectified soon. I can feel it. I probably have a better chance of landing a Markakis auto than winning Beady's holiday custom card contest. I have marginal artistic ability, but my lack of computer knowledge combined with laziness most likely will sabotage anything I attempt. I do have a cool idea. Will I actually get off my lazy ass? That IS the question, isn't it?
At least I can answer one question. According to the poll, this is the best Don Sutton card of the 1970s. I have to say, I agree. Thanks for the input.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Color me hopeless

Don't ask me why I was going through my 1991 Fleer cards the other day, but I was. And I came across this card.

Being the hopeless color freak that I am, I read the name, looked at the border, and chuckled.

That prompted me to track down these other cards:

The Bud Black card may not be as obvious as the other ones, but it works for me.

I didn't spend a lot of time searching, so I don't know if there are similar cards for Pete Rose or Frank/Roy/Bill/Gabe White or Kevin/Bobby/Chris/Emil/Gates/Jackie Brown. But I'll search again some other time.

If you found this as fascinating as I did, or even vaguely eventful, then you may be a color freak, too. If you didn't, well, that's OK. I now return you to your colorless, barren, despair-filled lives.

Joking. I'm joking.

Cardboard appreciation: quarterfinal #2

(Ah, Thanksgiving. A holiday devoted to appreciation. But when I sit down with a virtual multitude of family members and bow my head before the giant turkey at mid-table, I will not say "I am thankful for baseball cards," for fear of getting several piercing looks. So, I'll say it here: I am thankful for baseball cards! Time for Cardboard Appreciation):

The J.R. Richard 1980 Kellogg's card is officially a juggernaut (I really hate that word, by the way). It has pasted two straight opponents to become the first card to advance out of the quarterfinals.

Here are the vote totals for the first quarterfinal:

J.R. Richard, 1980 Kellogg's: 31
Kent Tekulve, 1981 Topps: 18

After that demonstration of domination, Richard has earned himself a break. He'll watch from the sidelines as the other quarterfinalists duke it out. And we have an intriguing battle for quarterfinal #2.

The first card is one of the most-loved cards of the 1970s. A true rarity and conversation-starter:

The 1975 Topps Herb Washington card is a wonderful gaudy creation, a mix of pink and purple and green and gold. But the fact that Washington was a pinch-runner, and only a pinch-runner, and Topps thought that important enough to issue a card of him, is what makes this a truly iconic card. It will be tough to beat.

Let's see what card is daring enough to challenge the Washington card:

Yes, that's right. I am pitting two teammates and two fantastic 1975 Topps cards against each other. Is that fair? Well, in the immortal words of the semi-psychotic and definitely strange father of a childhood friend of mine: "Who said anything about fair?" Ah, treasured words for children to cherish.

But this pairing is a necessity. With five 1975 Topps cards in the quarterfinals, it's inevitable that they should meet.

The Fingers card is one of my favorites from when I was a kid. Fingers looks like the Lone Ranger, albeit a mustachioed one, and he is the rare action card in the set.

So, it's up to you. Do you pick the fastest man in 1974 or a guy who looks like they dressed an Old West gunslinger in a wild '70s baseball uniform?

Poll is upon on the sidebar. Put the fork/TV remote down for a minute this week and vote.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hearing the siren call

If you are a card blogger, then this has happened to you: you have purchased a blaster, reviewed its contents, and concluded that the blaster would have made another blogger much happier.

That happened to me a couple of weeks ago. The blaster contained two "hits." And both hits -- actually one "hit" and one very nice parallel -- made me think of Bud from First Day Issue. "Damn," I thought, "this is his blaster."

Well, less than a week later, I received a card package from Bud. Somehow, all the way across the country, he heard the blaster siren call. He sniffed it out. And he must have thought, "I better send Night Owl some cards." Which he did.

So, Bud, never fear. Those cards are yours. I'll be sending them out in a week or two. Meanwhile, I need to show everybody the cards you sent me. Because it's a wild-and-crazy bunch.

A '98 Donruss of Paul Konerko. A number of months ago, I celebrated my first Konerko Dodger card. I didn't think there could be all that many. Today, I think I have about a dozen Konerko Dodger cards. Maybe more. Silly me. I forgot Konerko's major league debut came in the late '90s.

An x-refractored-up 2009 Topps Chrome of Rafael Furcal. This is still one of my favorite 2009 cards. I'm not sure if it will make the end-of-the-year countdown though.

A 2009 Upper Deck Orlando Hudson. That leaves #716 - Hiroki Kuroda - as the last Upper Deck base Dodger I need for the set. I can't believe it's taking me so long. It probably has something to do with the fact that I have had zero interest in the base set all year.

2006 Upper Deck Andre Ethier. This may or may not be the last Dodger I need for this set. I really need to update my want lists.

Retro Garvey! I enjoy cards where you can see what time the photo was taken.

Uh-oh. Here is something for my Dodger collection that I never even considered. This is one of those inserts from 2004 Topps, where they featured every World Series program. The Dodgers have been in a few World Series. That's a lot of insert cards to chase.

Bud always likes to throw in some random non-Dodgers with his package. And I get to guess why he sent them. This is an easy one. Thome had a short-lived stint with the Dodgers this past season. I'm hoping there is a Thome Dodger card next season.

I think I can guess this one, too: this is Bud's entry into the "I'm Badass and You're Not" club. Sierra has a definite "look" on this card. But Sierra had some issues, too. So I'll have to think about that one.

Here we have a certified member of the bad-ass club. But this is where Gorman steps over the line from "bad-ass" into "psychotic freak who lives in the woods."

This one has me stumped. No one who wears a scarf is bad-ass. And GQ-like photos on cards annoy the heck out of me. So I'm going to say Bud sent me this card for the insanity of it all.

I know why I have this card. It was on my want list! Love the Timeline. Wish it was returning.

And with the Billingsley card from Timelines' variety-filled set, I need just nine more Dodgers to finish off the set! Weeee! Every time I visit the card aisle I'm tempted to buy every Timeline pack in the feeder box. Ending up with 14 Randy Johnson base cards is worth it, right?

The grand finale. The Don Newcombe short-print card from Goodwin Champions. I knew this card was coming. It means I have all the Dodgers from the set. And I can quit buying Goodwin packs -- unless I want to chase variations, which is highly unlikely.

Bud, I don't know how you knew I found some cards for you, but they'll be on their way.