Saturday, May 29, 2021

Not Quite As Easy As 123

The Diamond King has kicked off another A→Z Challenge. The original was created by The Collector last month when he asked his readers to make a list of favorite musicians from A to Z. The Diamond King is looking for bloggers to step into the batter's box and list their favorite baseball players based the first letter in their last name.

Although half of the letters were "no brainers" for me... I spent over an hour sifting through scans and binders coming up with my responses for the other letters.

Here are my favorites...

A - Jose Altuve

2011 Topps Update #US132

Before the trash can incident... Altuve was one of my favorite players in baseball.  I don't think I've purchased a single card of his since... but I am rooting for him to prove his doubters that he can win batting titles without buzzers.

B - Barry Bonds

1987 Topps #320

I refuse to apologize for being a fan of Barry.  He was one of the most entertaining players in the game for well over a decade.

Nothing like kicking off a Blog Bat-Around with back to back controversial picks.

C - Steve Carlton

1965 Topps #477

One of my favorite pitchers of all-time.

D - Yu Darvish

2012 Archives Fan Favorites Autographs #YD

The D's were challengingDoug DeCinces, Ron Darling, Dave Dravecky, and Josh Donaldson were all players I considered... but if I were going to build a PC around any of these guys... it'd be Darvish.

E - Dennis Eckersley

2007 UD Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #SPS-EC

Eck was an obvious pick... but only because there just weren't many options to choose from.

F - Freddie Freeman

2007 Bowman Chrome #BDPP12

I came close to choosing Mark Fidrych... but decided to go with Freeman.  There are only about ten MLB players outside of Oakland and San Diego that I actively root for and he's one of them.

G - Tony Gwynn

1982 TCMA Hawaii Islanders #10

The biggest no-brainer in this challenge.

H - Rickey Henderson

1979 TCMA Ogden A's #9

The second biggest no-brainer in this challenge.

I - Travis Ishikawa

2003 Bowman Chrome #341

One thing I learned from this challenge is that there are a lot of Japanese guys with last names that begin with IIwakuma, Ishii, Igawa, IrabuIwamura, and IshikawaIshikawa is sort of a fan favorite in the Bay Area, so I went with him.

J - Derek Jeter

1997 Topps Rookie of the Year Autograph #NNO

Reggie Jackson was the first guy who popped into my head... but then I remembered Jeter.  And even though Reggie played ten seasons in Oakland... and Jeter broke the hearts of A's fans... I like the latter more.   He's just more of a likable guy.

K - Clayton Kershaw

2015 Strata Clearly Authentic Autographed Relic #CAAR-CKW

Yup.  I'm one of those fans who root for players even when they play on teams I'm not a fan of. 

L - Ramon Laureano

2019 Topps Chrome Rookie Autograph Refractor #RA-RL

Laureano has the honor of being my current favorite player on my favorite team.

M - Greg Maddux

1997 Leaf #36

The third biggest no-brainer in this challenge.

N - Hideo Nomo

1995 SP Die-cut #14

C'mon... admit it.  Nomo-mania was awesome!  If you were a baseball fan in the mid 90's...  there's a pretty good chance you were a fan of Nomo

O - Shohei Ohtani

2018 Topps Chrome Sepia Refractor #150

I originally had David Ortiz in this spot, but at this moment in time... it's hard not to enjoy Ohtani's game.

P - Kirby Puckett

1984 Fleer Update #U-93

Puckett was one of my favorite players not named Gwynn, Henderson, or Maddux during the 80's and 90's.

Q - Dan Quisenberry

1981 Fleer #31

The only other guy whose last name begins with a Q that comes to mind is Jamie Quirk.  But that's not the only reason Quisenberry made this list.  I was a huge fan of his submarine delivery back in the day.

R - Jackie Robinson

1956 Topps #30

I tried my best to limit my selections to players I watched during their career... but I just couldn't ignore Jackie Robinson's legacy and contributions to the game of baseball.  Plus... this is my favorite card in my collection and I love showing it off.

S - Ichiro Suzuki

1993 BBM #239

This was the hardest decision of this challenge, because there are two Suzuki's I love, love, love collecting.  I ended up choosing Ichiro... because of his legacySorry Kurt.

T - Fernando Tatis Jr.

2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP17

Tatis is one of the most exciting players in baseball... and he happens to be on my second favorite team.  Had I attempted this challenge two years ago, The Big Hurt would represent the T's.

U - Bob Uecker

1963 Topps #126

Never saw Uecker play... but always enjoyed his Miller Lite commercials.  Plus Julio Urias, Jose Uribe, and Willie Upshaw were the only other guys who came to mind, so his competition was limited.

V - Fernando Valenzuela

2005 Sweet Spot Classic Signatures #FV

There's just something about the Dodgers and foreign pitchers who have the ability to entertain an entire sports' fans.  I'm glad I witnessed first-hand Fernando-mania.

W - Ted Williams

1956 Topps #5

I've always admired guys who could hit for average.  Rumor has it that Teddy fits the bill.

Y - Carl Yastrzemski

2001 Topps Team Legends Autographs #550

I've never claimed to be a Yastrzemski fan... but the Y's are limited.  Originally... I was going to make this a multi-sport post and use Kristi Yamaguchi as my athlete.  But after re-reading The Diamond King's challenge... I stuck to baseball and Yaz is my Y pick.  He narrowly beat out Jordan Yamamoto, Michael Young, and Christian Yelich.

Z - Barry Zito

2000 Topps Chrome #451

I almost copied The Diamond King's selection of Gus Zernial... because I love his 1952 Topps card.  However I never saw him play... but I did watch Zito play several times in Oakland and across the bay in San Francisco.

I'm sure as soon as I start reading some of your posts and picks... I'll make some revisions to my selections.  For now... I'm happy with my choices... even if it meant leaving off favorites like Dwight Gooden, Masanori Murakami, Kurt Suzuki, and Frank Thomas.

Feel free to comment down below people you like or dislike from my list.  And thank you Kevin and Chris for inspiring these challenges.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!

Extra Innings

Here's my response to The Collector's A→Z Music Challenge:

Alan Parsons Project
Beastie Boys
The Cure
Def Leppard
The Eagles
Fleetwood Mac
Peter Gabriel/Genesis
Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Ice Cube
Cyndi Lauper
Notorious BIG
The Outfield
The Police
Tupac Shakur
They Might Be Giants/Tribe Called Quest
Van Halen
Stevie Wonder
ZZ Top

***Don't actually own CD's or albums of these artists

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Lunch Time Treats and Cool Cardboard Collectibles from the 70's

Memories are precious.  Sadly... mine just isn't what it used to be.  The good news is that certain ones stand out like a painting in my mind.

The late 70's were the primary years of elementary school for me... and one of the most vibrant memories is getting excited about hanging out with my friends at lunch.  We'd sit down either in the cafeteria or out on the blacktop, open our lunches, and check out what our moms packed.

Every now and then, I'd talk my mom into buying me a box of Zingers or Ding Dongs and she'd toss one into my Star Wars lunch pail.  The details on this part of the story are a little fuzzy... but I feel like it happened a few times a month.

Another fuzzy memory are the trading cards found on Hostess boxes from 1975 to 1979.  I'm pretty sure I remember seeing them when I was a kid.  But  since I didn't really start collecting baseball cards until 1981... if I did cut them out... I didn't bother saving any from my childhood.

These days... they're highly treasured oddballs in my collection.

And in honor of today being National Brown-Bag-It Day, I figured I'd get off my butt and write a post about my five favorite Hostess cards in my collection.  However before I share my list... here's a quick year by year look at the Hostess baseball card designs of the 70's:

1975 Hostess #43

With the exception of the 1976 design, the other four years sort of blend together in my mind.  White borders with red and blue text.

1976 Hostess #19

The 1976 design is hands down my favorite, because the red, white, and blue stripes stand out and separate themselves from any of the other designs.

1977 Hostess #2

The 1977 design uses a non-rectangular photograph which makes it a little more distinguishable from the other designs.

1978 Hostess #120

While the 1978 and 1979 designs are very similar with larger red text for the names, smaller blue text for the teams, and smaller black text for the positions.

1979 Hostess #13

In 1979, Hostess decided to try something new and put the information at the top.  As for the backs, there are slight differences between each of the five releases... but looks pretty much the same to me.

Honestly before writing this post, 1976 was the only design I would have been able to point out in a lineup.  I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to recognize 1977 Hostess cards from this point moving forward.

Okay... let's move along to my five favorite 70's Hostess collectibles from my collection...

#51975 Hostess Strip #61, 62, & 63

I own five or six different strips from this set... but this one stands out the most because it features three solid and popular players from the era.  Cey looks fantastic with the posed swingPorter is wearing the spectacles I associate him with.  And Carlton is rocking the killer 'stache.  

#41975 Hostess #80

Next up is a graded rookie card of a hall of famer and by now you probably know I have a deep appreciation for rookie cards of hall of famers... and don't have any problems with slabbed cards.

#31977 Hostess #46

Fidrych might not be a hall of famer, but I'd take this graded card over the YountThe Bird is just one of those players that brings a smile to my face whenever I hear his name or stories about him.

#21979 Hostess #102

I've never associated Ozzie with the Padres.  He'll always be a St. Louis Cardinal to me... but that's why I enjoy seeing cards featuring him wearing the Brown & Gold.  The fact that this is another hall of fame rookie card puts this one at the #2 spot.

Honorary MentionJose Altuve Custom

I couldn't put this on my official list, because it's not an official Hostess card from the 70's... but it's really cool and I had to show off Gavin's awesome custom.

Okay.  Sitting at the top of my list...

#11976 Hostess Strip #145, 146, & 147

As I mentioned earlier, the 1976 design is hands down my favorite Hostess design... but my favorite thing about this panel is the Reggie in the middle:

Just like the Cey above... there's just something I love about the posed swing.  Toss in the cool shades, mustache, and the Oakland Coliseum in the background... and this card is truly a work of art.

I can't imagine another Hostess card out there capable of knocking Mr. October from his throne.  But if you have any suggestions... leave them down below in the comment section and I'll check them out.

Happy National Brown-Bag-It Day and sayonara!