Sunday, June 26, 2011

1967 Topps. Roberto Clemente, the transcendent All-Star.

July 11, 1967
This game featured twenty future Hall Of Famers and Pete Rose. One of the twenty was batting second and playing Right Field for the National League. Number 21, Roberto Clemente, appearing in his eight consecutive All-Star game.

Inexplicably, Clemente struck out four times in this exhibition game. How improbable was that? Headed into the All-Star game Clemente had played 1,749 games and only ONCE had he struck out four times in a game! And it was none other than Don Drysdale who struck him out all four times.

Compared to Don Drysdale let's look at the four different pitchers who struck out Clemente four times.  Dean Chance, Gary Peters, Al Downing & Jim 'Catfish' Hunter. 

Aside from Catfish Hunter the other three pitchers combined played in five All-Star games. Even when having a bad day with a national audience watching Clemente managed to do something special.

About the Card

Roberto Clemente was blessed to play baseball at the highest level. And he played it at a level so seldom seen that they built a museum for these men long before called the Hall of Fame but had that museum not been built, it surely would have been, after watching Clemente play and live his life.

This BVG 9 slab sold for $641.78 at auction on eBay from mandlcards on May 16, 2011.
Worth every penny.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

1955 Tigers, 79-75, 17 games back, 3 Hall of Famers.

Led by HOF Manager Bucky Harris this team's Pythagorean record was nine wins better. The offense featured perennial All-Star Harvey Kuenn, Ray Boone & the phenomenal right fielder Al Kaline. Al led the American League in hits (200), batting average (.340) & total bases (321). 1955 starts a string of 13 consecutive All-Star games for Kaline. The other future HOF Jim Bunning made 15 appearances for the team as a late July call up. On August 7, Detroit was 5.5 behind the Yankees for first place. They lose the second game of the double header in the Bronx which starts a five-game losing streak leaving them 9.5 games back and their season effectually over.

About The Card
Al Kaline's 2nd year card graded NM-MT 8 by PSA went for $316 at auction at American Memorabilia on September 20, 2007

1955 Topps improved on the prior year by making the action shot color as well. This set marks the first time a horizontal design was used.

This simple design is quite wonderful. A monochromic color in back surrounded by a small white border. The bottom line gave you all the relevant information.
Player name was in all capital letters, position followed by Team Name.

Topps again used the official primary team logo. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

1985 Fleer. Hall Of Fame Teammates.

August 26, 1985 Cal Ripken & Eddie Murray destroy the Angels. Eddie hits 3 HR and 9 RBI. He had 2 chances to hit a 4th HR but in the 7th he flies out to centerfield & in the 9th he walked. Ripken contributed with 1b, 2b, 3 runs, 2 rbi, 1 bb. 

About The Cards
This design is basically their 1983 design flipped up. I'm positive there was no one with the title 'Art Director' employed at the three major baseball card companies in the 1980s. 

1981 Topps and Johnny Damon's attempt to learn the secret password.

June 18, 2011 Johnny Damon becomes the 11th player to amass 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers and 2,500 hits in a career. The other ten players that have met this criteria reside in Cooperstown. Does this incredible accomplishment automatically make Johnny Damon a Hall of Fame player? The answer is NO. 
In short, he will need at least two more above average seasons to accumulate enough stats to make all points moot. 

Does Elias Sports Bureau generate these lists? If so, a closer look reveals the threshold of 2,500 hits can be upped to 2,600 plus. 

Damon didn't hit home runs in the 'steroid era' but it's not like his game is made up of subtleties either. For a non power hitting outfielder he didn't make up for it with defensive prowess.

Regardless, Damon currently doesn't belong in these guys company in any other circumstance. For all his fame he only made two all-star appearances. Considering he played for the Red Sox and Yankees (plus brought championships to both teams) that's your tell-tale sign that his game does not resonate with fans. 

It's not just the fans who kept quiet during the prime of his 17-year career. He never managed a top ten MVP vote although he was a media darling. 

About The Card
1981 Topps is Classic Topps. There are no earth shattering rookies in this set so it doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I love the design. Colorful and simplistic with nothing jarring about it. I love that Topps made their own bootleg team hats. This is the last time they used the ALL-STAR banner. Here's Paul sitting on the bench most likely loaded on cocaine. His position is listed as 2B-SS but he was moved to Centerfield in 1981 because manager Buck Rodgers felt that Jim Ganter was ready to be the everyday second basemen.

On May 3, 1981 Paul tore ligaments in his left ankle trying to beat out an infield hit. He missed 40 games due to surgery and recovery. Unfortunately, Paul would be plagued with injuries his entire career. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

1986 Fleer: Condition Sensitive

August 1, 1986 Bert Blyleven torched the A’s by striking out 15 and becoming the 10th pitcher in major league history to record 3,000 strikeouts. The other nine pitchers were either already in the hall or headed there. Bert would retire 3rd on the all-time strikeouts list. He currently stands 5th.

Fellow Hall Of Famer Kirby Puckett hit for the cycle in the game as the Twins routed
Oakland 10 to 1.

It was Bert’s 10th win for the team, which were 14 games under .500 at that point.  Pitching for bad teams was Bert's forte.

About The Card

It’s 1986 and no one is taking baseball photography too seriously.

The remarkable thing here is the condition of this card. 

Beckett's Price Guide defines this set as "extremely condition sensitive commonly found with chipped edges" Beckett lays the blame on the blue borders but the fact is these cards were printed on toilet paper and the edges literally crumble apart in your hand. Centering from top to bottom also plagued this set.

For that reason plus the utterly boring design not one was particularly interested in this set. To this day, no one has completed this set in the PSA registry.

Not even Jose Canseco’s rookie card could have saved this set.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

1985 Topps. The Slanted Stamp of Approval.

A friend of mine once remarked succinctly “I collect players, not reputations.”

Although these sell for one-third of what they sold for years ago they're still a decent investment to continue to submit your own copies to BGS. Their careers are unparalleled and they have the popularity to match. 

About The Cards

Although Fleer’s update set beat Topps to the punch in 1984 with their Rocket & Puckett card their 1985 Topps’ counterparts are still considered Rookie cards.

Topps' real coup was having Big Mac appear in the 1985 set due to a great subset for the 1984 Summer Olympics Baseball Team (which was only a demonstration sport).

There is a segment of collectors’ who still regard McGwire’s 1987 Topps as his “True” rookie card but that logic doesn’t make much sense.

A Gem Mint slab of Big Mac's 1985 Topps card graded by BGS just recently sold for $280.99 at auction from Pristine Paper on eBay on June 6, 2011.

As far as the design I’m not sure what the thinking was putting the extra
TEAM NAME on the front. It’s kinda just slapped on there for no reason.

Topps returned to this design for their 2007 eTopps brand.

A Quad Gem Mint slab of Kirby Puckett's 1985 Topps rookie card sold for $78.00
at auction on eBay from Maple Leaf Sports on June 17, 2011.

Friday, June 10, 2011

1989 Topps

Unfortunately, this is Bruce Sutter’s final Topps card during his playing days.
Sutter tore his twice-repaired rotator cuff again during Spring Training in 1989 forcing an early retirement.

In terms of bookkeeping, Sutter’s contract with the Braves has to be one of the all time bust signings.

In December 1984 after a season where he saved 45 games, pitched 122.2 innings and had an outstanding ERA+ of 229  with the Cardinals, billionaire Ted Turner signed the premier closer on the market to a record six-year $10 million contract. 

Return on investment: 152.1 innings, 40 saves, a disastrous ERA+ 85 across three years. Colossal Bust. 

About The Card
Bruce Sutter is a rare hall of famer to have a true final year card. What I mean by that is when you flip over the card to read the statistics you can see his entire career.

It’s 1989. Upper Deck’s pioneering product is on the block. Score is relatively new and somewhat innovating. Topps has now officially fallen asleep at the art direction table.

The design is utterly boring pennant style team logo with the name is all capitals. What else is there to say? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yeshua, The Ignitor & 1988 Topps

At his Hall of Fame induction ceremony Paul Molitor said "I'd like to thank God for his many, many blessings in my life, including my salvation that he's allowed me through his son, Jesus."

After his 1987 campaign, Paul was headed to heaven but he didn't look like he was headed to Cooperstown. Milwaukee's star player had already missed 439 of a possible 1,569 games to various injuries.  

He retired ninth on the career list with 3,319 hits.  Remarkably, he got dramatically better in his 30's (which is the calling card for steroid use) during the "steroid era", however, there was never any suspicion on Molitor.

About The Card
And you wonder why Upper Deck took the baseball card world by storm the following year?

Bland is the best word for the design. The color scheme for the Brewers was particularly bad. 

1988 Topps features Tom Glavine's rookie card but even that can't help this set from being an all time junk wax product.

Completely uninspired.