Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The best Dodger cards ever made countdown: 70-61

Happy trick-or-treatings, all. At this present time I am hoping that someone else answers the door.

It's nonstop around here between 5:30-8 p.m.

But I realize there are some of you whose neighborhood isn't prime trick-or-treating territory. Where you live is not so desirable that they bus in tiny sugar addicts from the country to ring your doorbell. You're sitting there with your three Snickers bars wondering when someone is going to entertain you.

I'm here to help. It's time for another segment of "The Best Dodger Cards Ever Made" Countdown.

So take off that mask and those bunny ears, pour yourself some apple cider, and feast your eyes not on caramel apples (blech), but on some pretty terrific Dodgers cards.

Enter at your own risk:

70. Don Sutton, 1978 Topps

I have gone on record as not particularly liking this card, which is still true. However, it remains a momentous card in the life of a Dodger fan who grew up in the 1970s. Sutton was the first Dodger pitcher to start an All-Star Game during my baseball consciousness (I just missed the Andy Messersmith start in 1974). Seeing Sutton on the mound to begin the 1977 All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium was so exciting to me, mostly because I knew that because Sutton was the starting pitcher Topps would give him an All-Star card in the 1978 set. So, that's what I think of when I see this card. And I try not to think about how he looks like Big Bird.

69. Orel Hershiser, 2004 Topps jersey relic

One of the few relics to make the countdown. This one is special because it's a jersey card of Orel Hershiser, one of my all-time favorite players. And since it took me so long to find a relic card of Mr. Hershiser, it deserves to be here.

68. Wally Moon, 1963 Topps

There is no question that a card of Wally Moon's needs to be here. But which Moon? I went back and forth about this before settling on the '63 card. It displays his unibrow with such prominence and pride that I'm confident I made the right pick. Then you add the insert photo of mini Moon and the unibrow is no less apparent. It simply cracks me up.

67. Billy Ashley, 1993 Upper Deck

No, Ashley never turned out to be a star. But his card did. One of the most-often cited cards of the mid-1990s because of Eric Karros' scene-stealing cameo. This item is Upper Deck at its strangely amusing best. And I'm just now noticing that Karros has sunglasses propped up on his head. With all that magnificent hair, it's hard to tell.

66. Rickey Henderson, 2003 Topps Traded

Anytime a superstar arrives on my team, my next thought is "what's his first card going to look like?" Sure Henderson was at the end of the line by this point (while in full-on denial). But I get a kick out of every "Rickey Henderson card as a Dodger" that I have. This one is my favorite.

65. Maury Wills, 1970 Topps

Dodger fans waited a long, long time for Wills to show up as a Dodger in a Topps set. Sure, you could find him in 1963 Fleer, if you could find 1963 Fleer. But the only Topps cards of Wills showed him as a Pirate. Who wanted that? Wills spent the first eight years of his career with the Dodgers, and because of a dispute with Topps, the company didn't issue a single card of him. Until 1970. This had to be a big moment for Dodger collectors.

64. Maury Wills, 1993 Ted Williams Company, Memories

My favorite Wills card. Seeing a color action photo from this time period is exciting. You don't see it much. And the picture captures what Wills did best. Run the basepaths.

63. Ron Cey, 1976 Topps

My favorite player appears a few times in this countdown. Here is the first one. Normally, photos of hatless baseball players on cards are evil. But this card is so ingrained in my childhood memory that all I can think of is the appreciation I felt for this card back in '76. Cey looks so tough -- angry even -- that there was no doubt in my mind that he was about to crush the ball, helmet or not. And that bright yellow star just confirmed it for me.

62. Clayton Kershaw, 2006 Bowman Heritage Prospects

Clayton Kershaw's rookie card must appear somewhere on this countdown. By this time, which card was a player's rookie card was a muddled mess that continues today. There are other, earlier cards of Kershaw, some where he's wearing a Dodger cap. But I'm saying this is Kershaw's rookie card. And that it's the 62nd greatest Dodger card ever made.

61. Hideo Nomo, 1996 Upper Deck V.J. Lovero Showcase insert

The V.J. Lovero insert series is one of my favorite insert series of all-time. This card captures Hideo Nomo's unique pitching motion in a way that no one had before. It's true photo art, and probably deserves to be higher on this list. In fact, if I keep staring at it, it'll end up in the Top 10.

So there you are. 40 cards down. 60 cards to go.

But you better go now.

I hear the doorbell ringing.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I was adding a few of my recent card acquisitions to their respective binders the other day. Once I receive cards, they go in a stack to be cataloged. Then the older cards go in another stack to wait to be added to a binder during one of my binder binge sessions (there's one coming up very soon). The new cards -- 2012 cards -- I add instantly to the binder because it's easy to do. Just plug them in at the end.

As I was adding those 2012 cards, it struck me how many Matt Kemp cards I have from 2012. And then it amused me that I often complain about not being able to obtain Kemp cards because other collectors hang on to his cards a lot more than they did a couple of years ago.

It amused me because I have no right to complain when I've already accumulated 43 cards of Kemp from 2012.

That's right. 43. From this year alone. And there are many, many, many, many, many more that I have not obtained.

This is not a surprise to anyone I'm sure. With the multiple sets issued by Topps and the parallel madness that's gone on for years, producing multiple cards of every player is a fact of life. Topps needs to keep the player collectors throwing money at its products, and this how it ensures that it happens.

But I started to think about how different life was in collecting years ago. I began to wonder that if Matt Kemp was a major star in baseball 10, 20, 30 years ago, how many cards would he have in a given year?

So I looked into it -- in the vague, slipshod way I do things around here. I promise, when I'm getting paid for research, I'm much more thorough.

I looked at the card sets for 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, etc. and guess-timated how many cards Kemp might have for each of those years, if all things were equal, namely that he was a star player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and among the league leaders.

This is how it might go:


Sets where you would probably find a Matt Kemp card:

Topps base, Topps base insert, Topps Limited Edition, Topps HTA, Topps Chrome, Topps gold Chrome parallel, Topps Finest, Topps Gallery, Topps Gold Label, Topps Heritage, Topps Heritage Chrome, Topps Opening Day, Topps Pristine, Topps Reserve, Topps Stadium Club, Topps Stadium Club gold, Topps Top 10, Topps Total, Topps Total insert, Topps 206, Bowman, Bowman gold, Bowman's Best, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Heritage, Fleer, Fleer Authentix, Fleer Authentix insert, Fleer Boxscore, Fleer EX, Fleer Focus, Fleer Genuine, Fleer Maximum, Fleer Platinum, Fleer Premium, Fleer Showcase, Fleer Tradition, Fleer Tradition insert, Fleer Tradition all-star, Fleer Triple Crown, Fleer Ultra, Flair, Donruss, Donruss Classics, Donruss Diamond King, Donruss Diamond King parallel, Donruss Elite, Donruss Fan Club, Donruss Originals, Donruss Studio, Donruss Estrellas, Donruss Estrellas insert, Etopps, Leaf, Leaf Press Proof, Leaf Certified, Leaf Rookies and Stars, Playoff Absolute Memorabilia, Upper Deck, Upper Deck insert, Upper Deck Authentics, Upper Deck 40man, Upper Deck MVP, Upper Deck Ovation, Upper Deck Piece of History, Upper Deck Plus, Upper Deck Plus gold, Upper Deck Vintage, Upper Deck SP-Authentic, Upper Deck SP-X, Upper Deck Sweet Spot, Upper Deck Victory, Upper Deck Victory gold, MLB Showdown

Total Kemp cards: 73

Comment: It was a crazy time in the card world 10 years ago, eh? I'm sure there are a number of inserts or parallels I missed. And I'm not even including any potential relic cards Kemp could have had at this time. But this gives you a good idea of what was available.

Even with all that, I'm still saying that there is the potential for me to exceed the mythical 2002 total with my 2012 Kemps just because there are so many parallels. It's a little crazy that there are much fewer companies producing cards but just as many cards available for a particular player.


Sets where you would probably find a Kemp card:

Topps base, Topps base gold, Topps base award winner, Topps micro, Topps Kids, Topps Stadium Club, Topps Stadium Club Members Only, Bowman, Fleer, Fleer superstar special, Fleer all-stars, Fleer performers, Fleer team leaders, Fleer Ultra, Fleer Ultra all-star, Donruss, Donruss Diamond King, Donruss McDonald's MVP, Donruss Triple Play, Leaf, Leaf black gold parallel, Leaf Studio, Score, Score all-star, Score impact player, Pinnacle, Pinnacle shades, Pinnacle team 2000, Upper Deck, Upper Deck all-star heroes, Classic, Denny's All-Stars, OPC, OPC Premier, Post, Playing Cards, Starting Lineup, MooTown Snackers

Total Kemp cards: 38

Comment: Again, I'm probably missing some regional or food issues in which Kemp would make an appearance. But it's pretty safe to say that there wasn't nearly as many cards available of a particular player 20 years ago. And relics or autographs? Forget it.


Sets where you would probably find a Kemp card:

Topps base, Topps all-star, Topps in action, Topps HR leaders, Topps RBI leaders, OPC, OPC all-star, OPC in action, Fleer, Donruss, Donruss diamond king, Drake's, Kellogg's, Perma-Graphics, Squirt, Topps stickers

Total Kemp cards: 16

Comment: The early 1980s is really the genesis of "multiple cards of the same player in the same set" concept. In 1981, Fleer and Donruss issued two different cards of certain star players in their debut sets and -- take it from me -- it was mind-blowing. Forget about 43 different cards of the same player. You're telling me there are TWO cards of Steve Garvey in the SAME set?

The world would never be the same.


Sets where you would probably find a Kemp card:

Topps base, Topps in action, Topps HR leaders, Topps RBI leaders, Topps average leaders, Kellogg's, Milton Bradley, OPC

Total Kemp cards: 8

Comment: 1972 is a different animal from some of the sets immediately before it. The Topps set was so large that year that it was forced to throw in cards with players that had already appeared in the set. In-action cards debuted. There was also Boyhood Photos of the Stars. (But I didn't include Kemp there). This was also when the Topps monopoly was in major effect. Very few off-brands at this time.


Sets where you would probably find a Kemp card:

Topps base, Topps NL All-Star, Topps HR leaders, Topps batting leaders, Bazooka, Jello, Post

Total Kemp cards: 7

Comment: Seven whole cards. I'm sure kids were thrilled with it, too.


Sets where you would probably find a Kemp card:

Topps base, Bowman, Berk Ross, Red Man, Tip Top Bread

Total Kemp cards: 5

Comment: There were a lot more regional/odd ball issues back in the '50s, many of which I can't speculate as to whether they would have had a Kemp card or not. But even with those sets, there just wasn't a lot of opportunity to get multiple versions of your favorite player.

So what you're looking at over the last 60 years, really, is a line graph that travels directly uphill without any indication of hitting a down slope in the future (I fully realize that if I had picked a year in which Topps Tek entered the equation than the last sentence would no longer be true). Ten years from now, you may be able to own a million different cards of the same player in a single year.

But take it from me, as a kid who grew up in the '70s, even in these days of 40, 70, 100, 200 versions of the same player in a single year, even as I squawk about not receiving as many Kemp cards as I used to, there is a part of me that still thinks:

"WOW, you're telling me there are two different cards of Kemp in the SAME set?"

Monday, October 29, 2012

An anniversary ... with cards, of course

Twenty-five years ago this very night, I started going out with a college girl. We were in St. Louis, on a four-day college journalism seminar. We traveled halfway across the country to get there with 10 fellow compatriots. Many fun activities were achieved. Needless to say, it was the time of our life.

That college girl would become my wife, and here we are, 25 years later.

All of this is irrelevant for a card blog, but I thought I'd do something to recognize that anniversary in a card sort of way.

Namely ...

A rack pack of 1987 Topps!!!

Yeah, I know. Who cares? 1987 Topps will be available when we're flying around in spaceships like the Jetsons.

But I care.

First, these are the cards that were out when we took that junket to St. Louis. The Twins had just beaten the Cardinals in the World Series (I took a tour of the old Busch Stadium that weekend. It looked even more desolete in the wake of a Series loss).

Second, this is how I bought cards in 1987. I didn't buy many, but when I did, they were rack packs of '87 Topps from a couple of different drug stores near my grandmother's house.

Third, I still actually need cards from the 1987 set. A lot of them. I have no plans to complete this set. It's one of the few from the '80s that doesn't hold my interest from a purely card standpoint. But I think it would be interesting if I could complete the set without actually attempting to complete the set.

That means not intentionally buying '87 Topps or trading for '87 Topps. And outside of the cards I bought in 1987, I have been able to do that for 25 years (by the way, this rack pack came out of that $4.99 box I bought from Five Below. I had no idea an '87 rack pack would be in it).

So, let's see what's in this rack pack and how many cards it produces that I need.

Oh, and here's the back of the rack pack:

Pretty cool, eh? Already we know that I've got a Mike Greenwell, George Brett and Gary Carter glossy.

OK, here we go.

This is for you, dear:

Compartment 1

#9 - Gary Carter, All-Star glossy

Not bad, considering this was a year after the 1986 World Series.

#396 - Tim Lollar, Red Sox

#527 - Jim Wohlford, Expos

#173 - Alex Trevino, Dodgers

#630 - John Candelaria, Angels

#565 - Dusty Baker, A's

#30 - Tim Raines, Expos

#89 - Ozzie Guillen, White Sox

#587 - Eric Plunk, A's
#342 - Bob James, White Sox

#360 - Pedro Guerrero, Dodgers

#308 - Don Slaught, Rangers
#470 - Dave Dravecky, Padres
#237 - Jim Morrison, Pirates

#625 - Mookie Wilson, Mets

#230 - Don Baylor, Red Sox
#189 - Joe Hesketh, Expos
#148 - Dave Collins, Tigers

#400 - George Brett, Royals

Total cards: 19
Cards I needed: 10

Already, this rack pack is kicking butt.

Compartment 2

#259 - Mike Greenwell, Red Sox

#69 - Lonnie Smith, Royals

#174 - Henry Cotto, Yankees
#171 - Chuck Cary, Tigers
#339 - Donnie Hill, A's
#695 - Chico Walker, Cubs
#244 - Dickie Noles, Indians
#421 - Jose DeLeon, White Sox

#593 - Chuck Tanner, Braves

#406 - Yankees Team Leaders
#700 - Dave Bergman, Tigers
#357 - Steve Fireovid, Mariners
#88 - Ed Wojna, Padres
#343 - Hal Lanier, Astros manager

#581 - Cubs Leaders

#299 - Joel Davis, White Sox

#275 - LaMarr Hoyt, Padres

Total cards: 17
Cards needed: 9

Not the most exciting group, but, hey, cards I needed.

Compartment 3

#2 - Jim Deshaies, Astros, Record Breaker

#599 - Tony Gwynn, Padres, All-Star

#499 - Bruce Ruffin, Phillies

#454 - Luis Salazar, White Sox
#752 - Dan Petry, Tigers
#374 - Glenn Hoffman, Red Sox

#615 - Teddy Higuera, Brewers, All-Star

#429 - Tim Pyznarski, Padres

#54 - Bill Dawley, White Sox
#306 - Red Sox Leaders

#184 - Bobby Bonilla, Pirates

#597 - Mike Schmidt, Phillies, All-Star

#648 - Barry Larkin, Reds

#407 - Jim Acker, Braves
#448 - Chris Bosio, Brewers
#561 - Rey Quinones, Mariners

#693 - Terry Puhl, Astros

All right, now that group totally kicked ass. Three All-Star cards, a rookie cup, a Barry Larkin rookie card and an early Bobby Bo.

Is it my imagination or are today's cards less fun to open?

Total cards: 17
Cards needed: 10

Total cards needed out of the rack pack: 29

Now, some of you math majors may have noticed that the package declared that there were "48 Picture Cards Plus One Special" and that it "contains 49 cards," but I ended up with 53 cards.

They're really trying to get rid of '87 Topps aren't they?

At any rate, that was what I was opening 25 years ago when I stumbled across my future wife.

Tonight, the two of us will be wondering when Hurricane Sandy is going to knock the power out. If it hasn't knocked it out already.

Good times. Every 25th Oct. 29th. Like clockwork.

In light of what just transpired ... Dodgers, Dodgers, Dodgers

OK, I know how you feel.

You're bummed about how the baseball season ended. That horrible team with the awful taste in clothing attire won the World Series again. It was one of the dullest Series since you started watching baseball, and you know the TV ratings are going to be at historic lows.

You went through a lot for seven months to have it turn out like this.

Well, I'm here to help.

I don't have a lot of energy to put into this because I went through my own personal hell of declaring for everyone in the north country readership that some team that nobody cares about won a World Series (yes, there are still people around here that actually read type printed on paper. Are we backward or what?)

But I thought it would be imperative -- the least I could do really -- to show some Dodger cards in light of what just transpired.

If only as a reminder as to who will win the World Series at this time next year.

That's right, folks. Marco Scutaro is about to turn into a pumpkin in five, four, three, two, one ...

And, presto! The Dodgers -- or anybody really (Please, somebody ELSE) -- will be there to make things right.

So here are some Dodgers from another person who I'll bet doesn't like this year's World Series winner any more than I do. He's the operator of Home Of The Toddfather, which means he's a Rockies fan -- the team who let Scutaro go.

Yikes, I wouldn't want that on my head.

Anyway, Dodgers ...

A terrific 1994 Finest Rookie card of Raul Mondesi. This looks so much better than this dull, dusty thing that showed up here.

This is a parallel type card. Something called "Standing Room Only" from Fleer Authentix with a red foil thing going. I know that's a lot of vagueness, but if you want information, go to

More shiny parallelness -- although you can't tell it here. This is the "Pennant Edition" of a 1997 Donruss card. And I'm happy once again that I wasn't collecting in 1997.

Shawn Green once refused to play against the Dodgers' hated rivals. No, it had nothing to do with their putridness. It was because it was Yom Kippur and Green is Jewish.

But I tell myself it was because of the putridness.

In Pee Wee Reese's rookie season in 1940, he hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the precursors to the current orange uglies. Reese wasn't the captain for nothing.

So there you go. A few Dodgers to get your mind off of the end of baseball season. And the start of winter. And counting the weeks and weeks until spring training camps open.

But at least there's one good thing about all of this.

The Giants officially go back to being the football team from New York.

I can handle that a lot better than that other team.