Monday, May 31, 2021

A-Z player challenge - my picks to click

I stumbled upon this blog post started by The Diamond King - maybe the idea of having a favorite player has been done before but to narrow it to one player per letter is a challenge that gets my mind working and maybe more importantly, participating in a 'community' exercise.

I didn't want to spend too much time going over my choices because they should be spontaneous no brainers - but to cheat a little, I'll mention at least one other player considered and in some cases, probably interchangeable with the ones featured.

In some cases, I may have players in mind I'm not going to bother mentioning - though I do considered them favorites regardless and have prominent spots as far my memory banks go.

As a little wrinkle, I'm going from Z-A

Z - Ryan Zimmerman - it was either the longtime Washington Nationals star or Barry Zito, who became the next big thing in Oakland as part of the Big 3 in the early 2000s.

Y - Michael Young - I saw him as a self-made ballplayer who might have profiled to be a more of a utility guy, but emerged as a hard hitting infielder who strung up some metronomic offensive numbers.

X - NA

W - Ted Williams - there are some legendary icons in the game I had to learn about as a fan and as a card collector, regardless of when they actually played.

V - Joey Votto - despite being on a late career swoon, I see him as having comparable numbers to Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez, except Votto spent his career in the National League where he had to play the field instead of primarily being a DH, even through his mid 30s.
U - Justin Upton - he's put together a solid career, though he's playing through his decline years as an Angel.
T - Mike Trout - the gold standard of big league ballplayers, he's probably an Angel for life, but are the injuries starting to pile up and will he ever star for a Halos team that gets into the playoffs?

If Trout didn't turn out to be the player he is, on my home team - I would have probably gone with Frank Thomas, because The Big Hurt was a prominent superstar when I was really immersing myself in collecting baseball cards in the early 1990s.

S - Tim Salmon - it's been 15 years since he was last a player, but there is still nostalgia for Angels legend.

I'll go with my home team guy, but Ichiro is probably interchangeable as far as 'S' goes - though if he is known as just 'Ichiro,' shouldn't he count for 'I' as well, rather than 'Ichiro Suzuki?'

R - Cal Ripken Jr. - Alex Rodriguez would have likely been the pick but Ripken Jr. had icon status through the time he broke the all-time consecutive games played record and no one was a bigger deal in the mid 1990s era than he was.

Nolan Ryan and Babe Ruth were also considered - Ryan actually had his prime years with the Angels, though I knew him mostly as a longtime Houston Astros player and a Texas Rangers icon.

Q - Robb Quinlan - I had to dig hard for a 'Q' and may have gone Carlos Quentin, but I'll go with the home team guy who managed to stick in the big leagues for 8 seasons.

I like the idea Quinlan looked like an ordinary guy who seemed like he was plucked off the street and was asked to suit up - he was mostly a fill-in player who put modest hitting numbers, but had some decent contact skills with the ability to put the bat to the ball.

P - Albert Pujols - regardless of decade of decline and his release in the final year of his contract as Angel, you can't ever take away his accomplishments at his peak or erase the numbers he has put up in his storied playing career.

O - Shohei Ohtani - I'm wondering what combination of pitching and hitting numbers is going to get him to the Hall of Fame one day, even if it's unrealistic to see him actually get there.

I hope there isn't something a major injury that derails his ascenscion to whatever numbers he is going to end up with - either as a pitcher, DH or even as a position player.

N - Pat Neshek - the former big league reliever has been a friend of the collector ever since he was in the minor leagues and while his MLB playing career has given him opportunities to more than just another guy, he has always kept things real as a card collector or autograph collector himself.

M - Pedro Martinez - if nothing else, his confidence and fire made him an alluring, if infuriating pitcher to watch work [if you weren't a Pedro fan or a fan of the teams he pitched for], where he had a reputation as a head hunter.
L - Tim Lincecum - a decade ago, maybe he was on top of the world, but things can come down so fast.

Maybe the wear and tear took it's toll on his delivery and his arm - he couldn't finish out the second half of his big league career on his terms.

K - Howie Kendrick - despite doing it with another team, it was fun for me to see his personality come out late in his career where he had some clutch hits during the postseason to help the Washington Nationals win the 2019 World Series.
J - Derek Jeter - he's on this list because he was a national player to follow, where he wasn't just some randomly good MLB player, but a Core Four guy who starred for a New York Yankees dynasty through the early 2000s.

If not Jeter, a pick here with would Randy Johnson - he wasn't too friendly, but once he figured it out, he was the most intimidating pitcher over the past 30 years based on his reputation alone.

I - Jason Isringhausen - maybe a case where I'm digging for a player whose last name starts with an 'I,' but Isringhausen was a guy who may have been ill-fitted to be the top flight starter, but was able to rejigger his career, where he emerged as a weapon out of the bullpen.

He spent his last big league season with the Angels - I don't even know why that happened, but it did.

H - Torii Hunter - maybe Rickey Henderson would be my choice otherwise and Todd Helton would be in the discussion, but I'm good with Hunter as my A-Z player challenge favorite for the letter 'H.'

G - Ken Griffey Jr. - the second half of his dominant, majestic big league career was derailed by injuries, but The Kid stands tall as the iconic MLB player of the 1990s.

Vladimir Guerrero and Tony Gwynn are probably up there as 1A and/or 1B - would pick Guerrero because he was the one who starred for the Angels, but Junior may have started me that rookie card craze.

F - Chuck Finley - he was a solid lefthanded starting pitcher for the longest time, but may have been a little more low-key, so he was more than a little underrated.

In some of the junk wax era cards [around 1988] where Finley was pictured with facial hair - I always thought he looked a little like actor Anthony Edwards in Top Gun.

E - Jim Edmonds - I remember him as a first base / outfield type who could handle the bat, but hit for marginal power nearly 30 years ago.

He turned into a great, power hitting centerfielder who had his best years as a St. Louis Cardinal - Edmonds is a bit like Damon where they might be knuckleheads at heart but they were able to accomplish a bunch of things between the lines.

D - Johnny Damon - from his clean cut all-American days in Kansas City to his Boston Red Sox Idiots years, I thought he was a high energy, fun player to watch.

He seemed to be a down to earth personality and mostly a nice guy when I got his autograph in-person - even if he was mostly a meathead who was arrested for DUI in 2021, along with his wife who was getting in the way.

C - Roger Clemens - maybe Rod Carew was the initial, ideal choice, but Clemens was more of a contemporary favorite [even if we are talking about mostly the past 20-25 years rather than 'here and now'].
B - Barry Bonds - you can't tell the story of the all-time MLB home run leader without the substantial PED suspicions and generally boorish attitude, but he was just a force of nature in his late career peak.
A - Garret Anderson - I've got to get the trio of Angels outfielders [Anderson, Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon] whose stadium giveaway poster I put up on the wall nearly 30 years ago on this list.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

1984 Donruss Ryne Sandberg #311

I don't know if it's worth what I paid for it, but I relented to pick up a second year Sandberg card for my 1984 Donruss pseudo set build - where I'm basically trying to see if I can as many cards in-hand, to get inked up at some point.

I got the card in the mail and the first thing that struck me was the irriated toploader used from Chernobyl - I cringed and chuckled at the same time, as I freed the card and tried to take some pictures.
I was relieved that the card itself hadn't yellowed out, like the toploader - if it wasn't such a 'safety hazard,' I would be inclined to keep the top loader as a memento.

Friday, May 21, 2021

TTM autograph received: Ralph Terry

Off this card show trip, I found a 1963 Topps World Series subset card and sent it off to Terry - I got a response within a week with my card signed in blue ballpoint pen for his fee of $20.

When I stumbled upon the card, I don't think my intention to get the card signed as TTM ammo - when I'm going through loose cards that I say, 'oh I can send to that guy or that guy,' I worry about having more money into my a loose, scrap card, when there are fees involved to actually get the card inked up through the mail [besides an actual, paid signing].

However, I got inspired when I saw Terry's fee wasn't as much as I'd first assumed, notably for someone who has a lifetime of experiences at 85 - I put together a request, paid up and eventually got a vintage return to tally in my book, no complaints here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Card show recap #2 - more minutia, more commentary

I spent $10 for 16 quarter cards and a trio of individually priced singles digging through boxes off one guy who may have been sharing the table space with his buddy - I think of all the loose 'here and now' i.e. 2021 cards I could have picked up instead of these and for $10 total, I just hope I don't lose sleep over the choices I made.
I don't know why I picked up random Chan Ho Park and J.T. Snow cards from the mid 1990s - but the Action Packed minor league cards were unique with rounded corners and raised, embossed surfaces.

Park was a rising star who peaked in Los Angeles, went to Texas 20 years ago as coveted free agent and promptly bombed - ended up as a journeyman who was kind of decent, but never really was able to replicate the success he had pitching his home games at Dodger Stadium.

Snow was a fan favorite as Angel for a little bit when he might have formed a 1-2 punch with Tim Salmon as rookies in 1993 - he was a bit inconsistent with the bat during his time as an Angel and while he broke out past his early struggles, I want to say he was eventually exiled to the San Francisco Giants, where he generally became a more dependable all-around player.

I grabbed a Bronson Arroyo rookie card to squirrel away somewhere - while he was more of a rank-and-file guy in my book, I'll give him his due as a Boston Red Sox cult favorite back in the day and a pitcher who continued to be a solid innings eater for the Cincinnati Reds until all the mileage took its toll on his right arm.

A random pack pulled minor league card of Ryan Klesko takes me back just a bit - where I remember him being hyped as a prospect all the way back in 1991.

I grabbed the Matt Stairs just to have a random card of a fan favorite - who had a significant 19-year playing career.

I guess I'll look it up but I didn't know what the Todd Helton card was so I grabbed it - since I collect him on the down low.

The Walker is a rookie card reprint and while it looks better in hand - the 'registration' on the back is really bad quality.

I don't like grabbing cards of players labeled as part of a rookie subset, when the actual card is not - however the image of a young Scott Rolen juggling makes the 1997 Collector's Choice #15 a keeper for my 'fun' collection.

I figured to grab another copy of Hugh Quattlebaum's rookie card after the other I've had for the past 20 years is loose somewhere I cannot recall - I guess the dual player card is more notable for one-time Texas Rangers prospect Edwin Encarnacion, but Quattlebaum was hired just 3 weeks ago as the New York Mets' hitting coach after Chili Davis was fired.
I'm at a blank as to why I picked up a Skal Labissière card - looking closer, I think this is the Prizm cougar parallel.
I don't know if I consider these unique finds, but I grabbed them anyway - a 1988 Topps Mark McGwire Record Breakers subset #3 stamped buyback, a pack pulled minor league card of Austin Romine serial #'d / 25 and a Billy Hamilton refractor for my awesome outfield collection.
Some more cards I found that may not mean much, but may serve their purpose somewhere - a David Fletcher prospect card and a pair of 2019 Bowman Platinum cards of Corbin Burnes, who has turned into a dominant starting pitcher.

Even though it isn't the rookie card, I like the Burnes insert better - it pops a bit more that just the base card.

I don't know if this Randy Johnson is considered a true oddball, but maybe it is classified as such - I grabbed it for $2 because I think rookie year cards from junk wax era boxed sets may have a little novelty compared to the actual rookie cards that were released the same year or rookie year cards that were released in traded / extended sets.
I grabbed these poverty Jordans cards for the prices listed in the back - maybe I paid too much but the hologram caught my eye and I can make believe these are a little different because they are international versions of their U.S. counterparts.
The text on the back of the hologram card is translated in German and the text on the back of the base card is translated in Spanish - I wonder if these were distributed by language / country.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Card show recap #1 - mission incomplete

I want to normalize being able to go to card shows and inspired by some other bloggers, I was hoping to make a card show stop and end up with glut of cards that was both overwhelming and intriguing to eventually break down - I'd even set things up where I brought at least a 330-count box to store my goodies and some other bags in case there was an opportunities to buy up miscellaneous cards in quantity for cheap.

I was kind of ‘gung-ho’ about jumping into things, but maybe I needed a Snickers as I hadn’t eaten through the morning - it actually made me less patient, where I didn’t really want to nickel and dime myself picking out scrap cards at random tables.

At this card show, the tables start to get redundant after going meandering through the rows a few times without seeing an obvious spot to camp out at - this was the same show, where I discovered the seller with the 'vintage treasures’ guy, but it looked like he didn’t have as much stuff like last time, certainly nothing scattered and loose to rummage through.

To lead off, I spent $5 for 22 cards at the table of a father and his teenage son - the boxes that had baseball were nice and neat, one box loosely organized by set, but sharing space with other sports and the other box, strictly baseball separated by with player labeled tabs / dividers; however, maybe it was only a couple of 3,200 count boxes hanging off to the side of the table.

I probably should have stuck here because I probably could have found 50 cards for $10, even if it was less 'quirky' and mostly basic star cards and strictly commons from the early 1990s - the goal was to find a table that was more comprehensive but that never quite came to fruition and what I was looking at may have been as good as it got.

I ended up with a quartet of Shohei Ohtani cards, that probably made me stick around the table - I found some Panini branded Mookie Betts cards from a few years ago, which has him listed as a Boston [Red Sox] player, but I'll relent to picking up any non-MLB licensed Panini stuff of superstars as misfit cards out of the 'cheapo' bins.

Gary Carter really starred through a time when baseball wasn't even a thing for me - but I acknowledge the Hall of Famer as a legend in his position and two late career keepers in my book is a 1993 Score Select #55 and a 1992 Bowman #385.

I like the Select because it captures him blocking the plate against an incoming baserunner [Mike Scioscia] - with the reputation for being a tough minded catcher who was involved in his fair share of collisions.

I like the Bowman because it shows him in a photo op moment, signing autographs - from what I've read and assumed, he was always a guy who was concerned about his image.

The 1995 Score Jose Canseco #4 is a fun card, showing on the mound - the write up on the back is more like a eulogy however, talking about how his career might have come to an end because he hurt his arm while trying to pitch and needed surgery.

The 1997 Topps Stadium Club Stadium Sluggers Chipper Jones #376 - is apparently a short printed subset card.

2016 Topps Now Highlights & Happy Holidays promo features Kris Bryant, Gary Sanchez, Ichiro and David Ortiz - I was hoping it was a 'real' Topps Now card, but I assume these were mailed out as a bonus for people who bought Topps Now cards that year.

Don Mattingly may have symbolized 1980s baseball and a guy who I heard about when I was getting into collecting - even though he isn't a Hall of Famer, his cards will always be considered keepers in my book.

I've seen his 1989 Upper Deck #200 for the longest time and I wanted ownership of the card. - maybe it's just another base star card, but it came from a premium set that ushered in a new era of trading cards.

I was going through other loose Mattingly cards and found the 1994 Upper Deck #90 - the front shows a horizontal image of Mattingly diving to field a ball, which may be a unique enough action on its own merit.

However, the back really made the card a keeper, where the Yankees great is pictured as batting righty - maybe playing in a game of pepper with his teammates.

I'm the most casual fan of the NBA and I don't really bother collecting the cards, notably when 'here and now' unopened hard to find out in the wild - however I might be open to seeing if I can grab a few loose cards of notable players when I can, probably to add some diversity to some mini-collections topics as needed.
I don't know why I picked up the Richmond card - he was a pretty good player, but not a 'here and now' guy.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

TTM autograph received: Bill Virdon

Off this card show trip, I found a 1961 Topps World Series subset card and sent it off to Virdon - I got a response within a week with my card signed.

I like the idea of 'salvaging' a lesser condition vintage card to a still living signer - though I saw the card itself as a mini-collection add featuring guys making plays in the outfield.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

2002 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Alex Rios #252

I was searching for some random cards on eBay and this popped up - if nothing else I bought this card for some early 2000s nostalgia and the idea it's still a pretty card, regardless of player.

I want to say the card stood out in one of those late season releases as Rios’ only rookie card when he was breaking out as a toolsy top prospect - this may have been in-demand for just a little bit, something that maybe pictured on a hot list of cards.

As is, while Rios never became that all-around superstar, he was a 2-time All-Star - who was part of a World Series championship team with the Kansas City Royals in 2015.

Maybe it’s odd but I can probably point to a little run of Toronto Blue Jays purchases over the past year - I've picked up a Bo Bichette rookie card parallel, a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rookie SP, a Tom Henke uncertified autograph card, a Derek Bell uncertified autograph card, a Duane Ward uncertified autograph card [for the set], a Dave Stieb uncertified autographed rookie card and now this card.

There was also a Joe Carter TTM success but that was for the set - on a 1984 Donruss rookie card that pictured him with the Chicago Cubs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

TTM autographs received: Johnny Edwards

Off this card show trip, I found a 1962 Topps World Series subset card and while the players were not identified - I did some research and saw that it was Johnny Blanchard of the New York Yankees sliding in with Johnny Edwards of the Cincinnati Reds catching for a little play at the plate action.

Of the two players, Edwards was still living and I thought to take a chance and send him the card to be signed - it took about a week for Edwards to respond with my card signed.

He also added three smaller photo prints and returned my letter with a couple of responses to what I'd written him - when I can do it and have success, I like when I am able to send to old school players on their vintage cards.