Thursday, August 25, 2016

Buster Posey's Good Friend

Last month, I entered a contest at Red Cardboard, where four others and I came out as winners, giving us the opportunity to draft for about 115 cards. It was an interesting and thoughtful process, once I was kindly informed by the blog owner that I had actually won. Sorry for the delay on that. Anyway, I obviously didn't end up with all my top choices, but still got a nice little stack of cards, mostly of the Reds, but with a few other teams mixed in.

2011 Topps Update Gold #US207 Jay Bruce /2011
I've always liked Topps Gold, and I jumped at the chance for a few serial-numbered Topps cards, including this one from 2011 Update. There are always lots of All Star game cards to be found in Update, and that often means cameos. Behind Jay Bruce, who was recently traded to the Mets, Andrew McCutchen can be seen celebrating with Buster Posey's Good Friend Hunter Pence.

Why would I say it like that? This was from a broadcast blunder by Jon Miller earlier this year, when he misattributed a home run call and then changed it at the last second. It's quite amusing. Pence was on the Astros when this card was printed, but now is palling around with the Giants catcher, who didn't miss a beat on his Instagram.

2014 Topps Opening Day Blue #211 Mat Latos /2014
I miss Opening Day blue parallels that include serial numbers, so I picked one from 2014, the last time Topps did that. I've seen this card a lot, but I never really looked very closely at his tattoos. The first thing that jumps out at me is the baseball stitching on his left wrist. He's pitched with four different teams since then. No word on whether he's added to his tattoo collection.

2014 Topps Gold #277 Mike Leake /2014
Another serial numbered Reds pitcher (now on St. Louis) from 2014, only this one is at the plate! He may have actually put this one in play, judging from his reaction. The back has a fun fact that Leake skipped the minor leagues entirely before reaching the big leagues, and he's in the rare company of Jim Abbott and John Olerud on that count.

2010 Bowman Draft Gold #BDP59 Drew Stubbs
One more gold card, only this one doesn't have a serial number. Drew Stubbs was on the Rockies for about a season and a half, but originally came up with the Reds. He's actually had a few playoff appearances; and he might get another this year if the Rangers keep it up. Bowman Gold cards are always nice and thick, and this has a nice green border signifying it's one of the prospect cards.

1995 Ultra Gold Medallion #367 Hal Morris
In the card draft, I ended up with a few Reds that were contemporaries of the Blake Street Bombers. First baseman Hal Morris played in only 112 games in 1994, according to the back. That might not seem like much, but he only missed two games all season, as the rest got cancelled due to the strike. Fleer Ultra dialed back the gold foil for 1995, although the Gold Medallion seal does clash a little bit with the silver foil on the rest of the card. This parallel set has been popping up a lot lately, and there were two more I chose not to scan.

1997 Score Premium Stock #242 Barry Larkin
Mid-'90s parallels actually made up a significant portion of this contest win, and Score didn't miss out on the fun. It's a bit hard to read, but that seal says it's "Premium Stock", and this card does indeed feel thicker than a regular Score '97 card. I know I say this about a lot of sets, but I am pretty sure that 1997 Score was the last product I added to my collection before stepping away from the hobby. They sold it in a tin that my parents bought for me at an outlet mall, and even though it did have some neat team dividers, it was not a complete set as I had expected, and a dozen or so cards were damaged with that same ruffled pattern I found on the bottom of that miscut Tulo card.

This Score card seems to be a tiny bit off-center, which is more apparent when looking at the back. Not a big deal though, as a Hall of Famer on a premium insert card is nothing to sneeze at.

1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection #322 Jose Rijo 
Jose Rijo often gave the young Rockies fits, and he was sort of an antithesis to Barry Bonds. Rijo was always up to some antics of some kind, and this is reflected on his baseball cards, where he's often found with stethoscopes and Super Soakers (child of the '90s here). It depends on whom you ask, but Rijo underwent Tommy John surgery anywhere between two and five times. Looking at the stress a pitcher's elbow experiences during a game, its a wonder they don't all need it every other year. There's even a growing trend of preemptive TJ surgery, which sounds radical, but makes sense in a twisted way. Better to do it in college or the minors than when it can potentially affect a Major League pennant race or a multi-million dollar contract.

Rijo literally shines on one of Pinnacle's parallels with a Dufex pattern, the beacon of the Pinnacle pyramid illuminating the entire scene. If baseball cards existed during the Renaissance, they'd probably look something like that.

Munnatawket Custom #100 Ichiro Suzuki
One of the items I put pretty high in my draft selection was a small stack of custom Munnatawket Minis. I've received a few of these before, and Nachos Grande is typically involved, another Reds fan.

Card #100 is obviously a recent creation, as Ichiro has only been a Marlin since 2015. There's really no player-specific information on the back, but I continue to be impressed at the quality of these custom minis.

Munnatawket Custom #20 Mr. Met
This set even has mascots. Dinger's probably too obscure to appear in this small set, but Mr. Met gives it two thumbs up. By the way, you've heard the song, right? It's a little surprising he isn't an apple, but I'm sure that decision was made long ago.

Munnatawket Custom #32 Hunter Pence
Buster Posey's Good Friend (tm) even makes an appearance on a custom card, and this time it's as a Giant. That looks like the 2012 Champions patch on his sleeve, so I'm guessing this card came before Ichiro's. But Pence was probably buddies with Posey by then.

Serial numbered cards, 1990s parallels, and custom minis. What could be left?

1962 Topps #46 Jack Baldschun (RC)

The older cards I got weren't of players pictured on the Reds (or even the Redlegs, as old as one of these was), but still some great additions. I must admit that I've never heard of Jack Baldschun. The back of the card says plenty about his performance as a relief pitcher, and his cartoon mentions that he appeared in eight straight games out of the bullpen in 1961. The centering isn't great, but it's in really good shape otherwise, and will go well with my other 1962 cards, which remains my most complete vintage set at about seven cards. So I have a long way to go if I want to get that one out of the way.

At least the Mantle is off the list.

1958 Topps #409 Frank Thomas
Even older is this 1958 card of Frank Thomas. No, not the Hall of Famer that appeared in almost every insert set of the 1990s, but rather the third baseman that played for teams all over the National League, including the inaugural New York Mets. I believe this is my sixth-oldest card, and though it's in pretty rough shape, the thing is almost sixty years old. I might even stick it in a binder, since there's not much point in putting it in a toploader at this point.

In looking this card up on Beckett, the more recent Frank Thomas, aka The Big Hurt, was also given card #409 in the related 2007 Topps Heritage set. Obviously not a coincidence, but a nice nod back to the past set (unlike those infuriating short prints).

1975 Topps #204 Frank Robinson / Roberto Clemente MVP
Finally this is the card I spent my highest draft pick on that I ended up getting. That two-color design is a dead giveaway for the epic 1975 Topps set, and it features each league's MVPs from 1966, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente, both Hall-of-Famers.

We've all seen Topps push their Anniversary cards on us pretty strongly, 40 years in 1991, 50 years in 2001, and the ubiquitous Diamond Anniversary celebration in 2011. 1975 marked Topps' 25th anniversary, and while I never really thought of that before since this was long before my collecting career began, Topps has clearly always been pretty big on their anniversaries. They're really celebrating their 25th set rather than 25th anniversary (depends how you count it, I guess).

This was just a couple years after Clemente's tragic death in 1972, so Topps saw fit to honor his and Robinson's accomplishments with this dual-player card. 1966 marked Robinson's second MVP award, who remains the only player to win it in both leagues. He won the Triple Crown, something only Carl Yastrzemski and Miguel Cabrera have done since. And the Orioles were World Series champs that year.

Clemente had a pretty good year himself, ranking near the top of the leaderboard in RBIs, hits, triples, and average. There is a very slight error on this card, saying that Clemente played in "all" 154 Pirates games. Clemente did indeed play in 154 games in 1966, but MLB moved to a 162-game schedule in the early 1960s as part of expansion. So while the game count is correct, he must have sat out eight games. The 162-game season was still a new development in 1975, about as new as our concept of the All-Star Game winner having home field advantage in the World Series. Especially when viewed through the lens of 1966, it's an understandable mistake.

It's fun to win contests! Especially when there are five winners and you're not shut out when you're randomized to #4. Thanks to Reds Cardboard for running the contest!

1 comment:

  1. Man - some nice cardboard in that draft, especially the vintage.

    And yes - the Munnatawket customs are some of the nicest around. Jealous of that Ichiro. But no - I will not trade it for my Kate Upton.