30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge

Oh man.  Getting old sucks.  I just spent the last thirty minutes scouring my blog reading list for a post I read about a month ago.

Somewhere out there... there's a card post that talks about Bartolo Colon getting released from the Atlanta Braves and within the reader comments, someone mentioned something about him being the last remaining former Montreal Expos player in the MLB.

That single comment planted a seed in the back of my mind that has slowly blossomed into this post.

As most of you know, I have been an avid Oakland A's fan since I was a wee little boy... and a San Diego Padres fan since the mid 80's.  But deep down inside, I've always had a soft spot for the Montreal Expos and their rich team history, bright team colors, and iconic logo.

A few years ago, I started a small Montreal Expos collection and over the years with the help of fellow bloggers, COMC, and eBay... it's grown exponentially.  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to organize my team binder, but in the meantime... I thought I'd show off my all-time Montreal Expos roster and some of my favorite cards of those players.

Catcher: Gary Carter

Expos Highlights:  7x MLB All-Star, 3x Gold Glove Awards, 3x Silver Slugger Awards, Expos All-Time WAR Leader, and one of three players wearing an Expos hat at Cooperstown.

First Base: Andres Gallaraga

Expos Highlights:  1x MLB All-Star, 2x Gold Glove Awards, and the owner of a Silver Slugger Award.

Second Base: Jose Vidro

Expos Highlights:  3x MLB All-Star, 1x Silver Slugger Awards, and 2nd highest career batting average in franchise history (tied with Tim Raines).

Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera

Expos Highlights:  2x Montreal Expos Player of the Year, 1x Gold Glove Awards, and most games played at shortstop in Expos franchise history.

Third Base: Tim Wallach

Expos Highlights:  5x MLB All-Star, 3x Gold Glove Awards, 2x Silver Slugger Awards, and the Expos franchise leader for games played, RBI's, total bases, and hits.

Left Field: Tim Raines

Expos Highlights:  7x MLB All-Star, 4x NL stolen base leader, 1x Silver Slugger Awards, 1x NL batting champion, Expos All-Time Offensive WAR Leader, and one of three players wearing an Expos hat at Cooperstown.

Center Field: Andre Dawson

Expos Highlights:  1977 NL Rookie of the Year, 3x MLB All-Star, 6x Gold Glove Awards, 3x Silver Slugger Awards, and one of three players wearing an Expos hat at Cooperstown.

Right Field:  Vladimir Guerrero

Expos Highlights:  4x MLB All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger Awards, and the Expos franchise leader for batting average, home runs, and slugging percentage.

Starting Pitcher:  Steve Rogers

Expos Highlights:  5x MLB All-Star, 1982 NL ERA leader, and the Expos franchise leader for wins, strikeouts, and shutouts.

Closer:  Jeff Reardon

Expos Highlights:  2x MLB All-Star, 1985 NL saves leader, and the Expos franchise leader for saves.

In the Dugout:

In the Bullpen:

I realize that there might be some players who I've left off my all-time roster.  Unfortunately, I based this post on the cards I currently have sitting in my collection.  Although I do enjoy collecting Montreal Expos, I have to admit that sometimes this collection gets lost in the shuffle which means that I don't add to it nearly as often as other team collections.

However there is one card I'm hoping to add sooner than later.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime...

Who are some of your favorite Montreal Expos of all-time?

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Baseball Reference is one of my favorite websites to hang out and kill time.  I can spend hours looking up statistics and finding pieces of trivia about both players and teams.  Yesterday, I read a cool article in the January/February 2012 issue of Baseball Digest that talked about a few hall of fame pitchers and some lesser known guys who had their number.

This reminded me of a feature I discovered on Baseball Reference a while back that allows you to see batters' statistics against specific pitchers and vice versa.  If you're ever bored and want to kill time, I highly recommend you check it out.

2001 SP Game Used Authentic Fabric #GM and #TGw

I used this tool for my Six Degrees of Separation post and discovered that Greg Maddux was owned by Tony Gwynn.  Gwynn faced him 107 times, had a career .415 batting average against the Professor, and struck out zero times.  Zero times.  Maddux had 3,371 strikeouts during his 23 year career, but none of them came against #19. 

1985 Nike Poster #NNO

So who was Gwynn's kryptonite?  Well, I could say Frank DiPino, who only allowed him to reach base twice in twenty-three plate appearances.  But I prefer a larger sample size... so I decided to pick Dwight Gooden instead.  Doc is the only pitcher to face Mr. Padre fifty or more times and hold him to less than a .260 batting average.  In 77 plate appearances, Gwynn collected only 17 hits (.243 batting average).

1999 Calbee #269

So who was Gooden's kryptonite?  I'm going with Tuffy Rhodes, who faced Doc three times and each time he launched a solo home run.  I know it's a small sample size.  But who says that (sample) size matters?  Before you say it does... let me give you one more interesting fact.  All three of these home runs were hit on Opening Day back in 1994.

1995 Stadium Club Virtual Reality #16

So who was Rhodes' kryptonite?  Tuffy had a lot less MLB at bats compared to Gwynn, but two pitchers really stand out.  He only faced two pitchers fourteen or more times during his MLB career.  One of them was Orel Hershiser who had a lot of success against him.  But Ken Hill was the other pitcher... and he had even more success.  Hill didn't give up any hits, walks, or RBI's against Tuffy... which makes him his kryptonite.

2014 Topps High Tek Autographs #HT-JC

So who was Hill's kryptonite?  Jose Canseco owned Mr. Hill.  In 36 plate appearances, Canseco cranked out 15 hits, 4 of which were home runs.  When you throw in his 3 walks, he reached base 50% of the time.

1985 OPC #273

So who was Canseco's kryptonite?  Hershiser didn't just dominate Rhodes, he also had Canseco's number.  Bulldog struck out Canseco 11 times in only 30 plate appearances and only allowed him to reach base four times (2 singles and 2 walks).

1988 Topps Big #91 and #161

This post could literally go on forever... so I figured I would wrap things up by seeing how Tony Gwynn fared against Hershiser.  They faced each other 88 times.  Gwynn collected 25 hits (9 of them were doubles) and walked 8 times, had a career batting average of .321, while only striking out twice.   I'd say he had the upper hand against him... although I've got to admit, Hershiser played the role of kryptonite against plenty MLB hitters.

Okay guys... it's your turn.

Do you remember any of your favorite players owning specific players?

If not... head over to Baseball Reference and find out.  Just type in your player's name and look under the advanced stats tab for either "vs. batter" or "vs. pitcher".  Just be warned.  You could end up spending hours on there.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Unparalleled Parallel

In 1992... Topps and Leaf paved the road for card companies when each company produced and inserted the industry's first pack pulled parallels into their products.  Topps had their Topps Gold parallels, while Leaf had their Black Gold parallels.

A year later, Topps introduced the "refractor" to collectors, which is a parallel that essentially refracts light and produces a "rainbow" like reflection when you look at them at the right angle.

Twenty-four years later, the refractor's popularity is still going strong and is now used to produced a variety of colored parallels in most Topps products.  Personally, I wish they'd take it down a notch, reduce the number of refractor variations, and make them a little tougher to pull... like in the 90's.  

Back then... if you pulled a refractor from a pack, it felt like a "hit".

For example... check out this Nolan Ryan I stumbled across last week while digging through my insert box:

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #34

This card is seriously amazing and I was truly blown away by its beauty.  The simple card design focuses the attention of the collector on the "shine".  Obviously the scan doesn't do the refraction of light justice, but even without it you can still see the perfectly cropped picture of Ryan's high kick windup.

The card back contains his entire MLB statistics, along with photos of him from his days with the New York Mets, California Angels, and Houston Astros.  If you look at the card number in the upper left corner, you'll also see that it states that this is the refractor parallel.

Although I appreciate "greatness", I've never thought about starting a Nolan Ryan collection.  In fact, growing up I was much more into Steve Carlton.  That's why I felt that this card was the perfect card for the 20th Challenge in Tony's 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge, which is to show off your favorite parallel card based on the parallel, not the player.

What about you...

What are some of your favorite parallels?

Since the beginning of this challenge, I had intended to use one of the UD Masterpieces or Gypsy Queen framed parallels for this post.  They're the only parallels out there (in my humble opinion) that give refractors a run for their money.  But I didn't even bother digging through my framed parallels after seeing this Ryan.  It would have been a waste of time... and free time remaining during my summer break is just too valuable.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Not Quite Mickey

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is one of the most iconic and recognizable cards in our hobby, which has made the 1952 Topps design itself popular.  As a public school teacher living in one of the most expensive areas in the United States, it's not really realistic or sensible for me to even think about owning a copy.  But I thought it'd be cool to own at least one card from that set and as luck would have it... there are over 400 cards outside of Mickey to choose from.

Back in the 80's, when I first started collecting, my aunt took me to a sports memorabilia store and allowed me to pick a card for my collection.  I decided to go with the Andy Pafko on the recommendation of the store employee.  It was the first and until recently the only 1952 Topps baseball card to grace my collection.  I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I traded it for a 1987 Fleer tin set and some rookie cards.  It's obviously one of the worst trades I've ever made, but it is what it is.

Three decades later, Tony over at Off Hiatus Baseball presented all of us with his 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge.  The 18th challenge is to show off a card of a player who became manager of your favorite team.

This motivated me to look for a Billy Martin card from his playing years, which led me to his 1952 Topps rookie card.  Unfortunately... that card isn't exactly cheap.  So I turned to another guy who managed a favorite team of mine and ended up purchasing this card on COMC:

1952 Topps #237

The card itself is pretty beat up.  It's creased all over and has a small tear.  Normally this would really bother me, especially since I've really been interested in buying graded vintage cards as of late.  However it was very affordable ($2.65) and I fell in love with this card as soon as I saw it.  This card has character.  It looks and feels like what I envision a 1952 Topps baseball card to be like.

Best of all... it features a true San Diego Padres legend.

Most people know Coleman for his days in the Padres broadcasting booth.  But back in 1980 he managed the team for a single season.  His team won five of the first six games of the season,  but by the end of May they never reached the .500 mark again.

Coleman returned to the broadcasting booth the following season.  According to this article, he believed that managing the ball club for that single season was the best thing that ever happened to him.  His managing experience helped him understand a different side of the game, which enabled him to be a better broadcaster.

In 2005, Coleman received the Ford C. Frick Award which is given annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for their contributions to the game.  Sadly he passed away in 2014 at the age of 89.

As of right now, I don't really have any immediate plans to add more 1952 Topps baseball cards to my collection.  But that's okay.  I'm content with owning this amazing piece of cardboard.

Happy Friday and sayonara!