30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Mount Rushmore of Unsung Heroes

Mount Rushmore and sports go together like peanut butter and jellyFans and analysts are always putting together their Mount Rushmores of specific eras, positions, franchises, or just about any category you can think of.

Last month... Collecting Cutch asked his readers who would make their Mount Rushmores of non-hall of famers for their favorite team.  I responded to his question in the comment section, but figured I might as well document it on my blog as well.

Oakland A's fans might not have a lot to look forward to this season... but we've had a rich history filled with plenty of fan favorites who will never have a plaque in Cooperstown.  It took a few minutes, but I settled on two fan favorites from The Swingin' A's era and two guys from my youth.

Let's kick things off with my favorite of the fourBert Campaneris.

2002 Topps Archives Autographs #TAA-BC

Campy was quick, versatile, and scored a lot of runs.  Speaking of being versatile, back in 1965... he was the first MLB player to play all 9 positions in a single game.  He's also the franchise leader in games played, hits, and dWAR.  Had I been born a decade earlier, there's a chance he'd be my all-time favorite player.

I'd put Joe Rudi into Thomas Jefferson's position...

2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Autographs #FFA-JRU

A quick look at his career reveals that he played for the Oakland A's for over a decade and was part of all three World Series titles in the 70's.  He was a 3x AL All-Star, a 3x Gold Glove Award winner, and came very close to winning two AL MVP Awards.  

1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #52

But his catch at the wall in the 1972 World Series was the deciding factor in adding him to this Mt. Rushmore over guys like Gene Tenace and Sal Bando.

Sliding into Teddy Roosevelt's spot is Dave Stewart...

2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Autographs #FFA-DS

My favorite era of Oakland A's baseball is the late 80's... when the A's were one of the best teams in baseballStew was their staff ace going 64-32 with a 3.04 ERA and 33 complete games from 1988 to 1990.  He was also the 1989 World Series MVP the year the A's won it all.  He was the only no-brainer for this post.

And rounding out my Mount Rushmore of Oakland's A's (non hall of famers) is gonna be Carney Lansford.

2012 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autographs #FFA-CL

Playing with guys like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Rickey Henderson... it's easy to fly under card collectors' radar.  But A's fans appreciated his consistency at the plate and at the hot corner... as well as his ability to lead his teammates by example.

Speaking of flying under card collectors' radar... one of my favorite things to collect these days are the Topps Archives autographs, because their checklist is focused on fan favorites that aren't necessarily Cooperstown bound.

Thank you Collecting Cutch for inspiring this post and allowing me to share a few of my favorite Archives autographs and my Mount Rushmore of Unsung Heroes.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A Pretty Elite Club

Thirty-three players have collected 3,000 or more hits in their careerTwenty-eight guys have hit 500 or more home runs.  Only seven have done both.

Two of them are featured on one of my favorite autographed cards:

2005 Sweet Spot Signatures Dual Red Stitch #PC (#'d 25/25)

When Cabrera joined this elite club last week, I was shocked that Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds weren't on the list.  Ruth fell 127 hits short.  Bonds needed only 65.  When two of the greatest hitters of all-time aren't a part of this club, it makes it a little cooler.

Here are the other five members of the 3,000/500 Club:

2015 Topps Museum Collection Premium Prints #PP-HA (#'d 25/25)

1995 Upper Deck Autographs #AC2

1978 Topps #36

1997 Donruss Signature Series Autograph #NNO

2001 Upper Deck Signed Game Jersey #H-AR

As for who will become the eighth member of this club, I'm not sure.  Mike Trout could potentially do it, but he'll need over 1,500 hits and 186 home runs (as of Monday morning).  It's possible, but he'll be turning 31 in August.  I looked at a few other guys like Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman, but they're even more of a stretch.  And I didn't even consider anyone under the age of 30.  I'll consider them in a few years when they enter the 1,500/250 Club.

2013 Topps Five Star Autographs #FSBA-MMA

Manny Machado (1,445/254) is the only guy under 30 with over 250 home runs and his 30th birthday is in early July.  And there isn't anyone in their 20's with over 1,500 hitsThe closest?  Machado.  I guess he has a shot too, but I'm not sure I'd put money on it.

What about you?

Any predictions on who will become the 8th member of the 1,500 Hits/500 Home Run Club?

Let's put them down in the comment section below and check back in a decade.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Celebrating Another First

As a fan of Major League Baseball, I'm happy to see them honor Jackie Robinson every year as he broke the color barrier and paved the way for other black baseball players.  One of those gentleman was Bob Trice who is most famous for being the first black player in Philadelphia Athletics history.  If you're interested in reading more about Mr. Trice... head over to SABR where you will find a comprehensive biography.

I'm writing this post to celebrate two things.  First, I finally added his rookie card to my collection:

1954 Topps #148

I picked this card up on COMC for $2 last summer.  Due to poor packaging, the card arrived damaged.  There's a giant crease that runs along the top.  But other than that, this card is gorgeous.  I've always liked the 1954 Topps design, but after holding this card in my hand, it moved up a few spots in my all-time rankings.

The card back is fantastic too:

Bo over at Baseball Cards Come to Life! has singlehandedly gotten me to have a deeper appreciation for card back cartoons over the years.  And this post by Night Owl reminded me of just how cool card numbers look when they're housed within baseballs.

Getting back to Mr. Trice, you can see that Topps talks about his time with the U.S. Navy and the Homestead Grays.  And although his card back features his minor league statistics, Trice actually played his first game with the Philadelphia A's on September 13th, 1953 at Connie Mack Stadium.

But that's not the game I wanted to focus on in this postSixty-eight years ago, on April 24th, 1954... Bob Trice pitched the best game of his MLB career.  That day he pitched the only complete game shutout against the mighty New York Yankees.  He held both Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle hitless... and even struck out The Commerce Comet twice.

Offensively, he reached base twice that day.  Harry Byrd hit him with a pitch in the 5th and in the 7th, Trice hit an infield single.  Neither ended up producing any runs.  Luckily Joe DeMaestri got the Athletics on the scoreboard with a leadoff home run in the 5th to help secure Trice's 1-0 shutout victory.  This wasn't the only time DeMaestri helped Trice.  He also hit a home run in Trice's first MLB game.

2015 Topps Tek Signers #102
"I like firsts.  Good or bad, they're always memorable." -Ahsoka Tano

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed researching for it.  As a sports fan, I always like examining "firsts".  Today's post honors Mr. Trice as being the first black baseball player in A's history... as well as the first and only complete game shutout of his MLB career.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Picture Perfect

When it comes to well-cropped action shots on vintage cardboard, the 1978 Topps New York Yankees team set immediately comes to mind.  Roy White, Sparky Lyle, Thurman Munson, Don Gullett, Bucky Dent, Jim Hunter, Chris Chambliss, Fran Healy, and Mickey Rivers all have fantastic looking cards in the set.

But my two favorites are the Ron Guidry and Reggie Jackson cards:

1978 Topps #135

As much as I can't stand the New York Yankees, I've actually been a fan of Guidry since I was a kid.  Back in the early 80's, my family had an Apple IIe with an awesome baseball simulation game.  Seeing his 1978 stats instantly made me a fan.  Plus it doesn't hurt that he's a fellow lefty.

As for Reggie...

1978 Topps #200

The timing of this photo is absolutely perfect.  Look at that swing!  His knee is nearly scraping the ground.  Then there's the pinstripes, stirrups, 'stache, and shades.  It's gorgeous!

Both of these cards set me back about the price of a blaster.  I picked up the Reggie back in December of 2017 on eBay for $14 (free shipping).  Ahh... the good old days when I didn't have to pay tax on purchases.  The Guidry was a pandemic purchase (December 2020).  Surprisingly, I won the auction with a $3.50 bid (+ $4 shipping & 32¢ tax).  I'm pretty sure the ST qualifier turned off any other interested parties, but I don't even notice the stain in the scan:

The stain might be on the front of the card, but I didn't see it there either.

Well there you have it... two more well cropped action shots and two more additions to my Classic Cards Collection.

Happy Throwback Thursday and sayonara!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Six Pack of SLUs

Yesterday I received an email from Hasbro announcing Starting Lineup figures are returning on September 22, 2022.  I don't picture myself collecting them.  Storage space is the biggest obstacle.  Plus my hobby budget is much better spent on dime boxes, flea market finds, and the occasional blaster box.

That being said, I was very excited about the news.  Hopefully a new generation of SLU collectors will emerge and bring more attention to the figures of yesteryear.

There's a huge part of my hobby timeline that was dedicated to collecting Kenner Starting Lineups from the 80's and 90's.  Like my old card collection, a large percentage of those figures were sold off in the early 2000's.  But when I returned to the hobby later in the decade, I loved picking up dollar SLU's at the flea market and card shows.

A few years ago, I opened up most of them to conserve space which inspired me to start collecting the trading cards that accompanied the figures.  These days I have two binders dedicated to Kenner SLU cards and several banker's boxes filled with unopened figures.  I also have several Ziploc bags filled with opened figures and a few on display in my office.

Today, I figured I'd show off six of these figures (and their cards) in celebration of the big news.

#11988 Tony Gwynn

This is Gwynn's rookie piece which was released in the inaugural year of Kenner SLU's.  Although the face sculpt isn't perfect, it did feature him with that late 80's 'stache.

The 1988 Kenner baseball card design was used for football and basketball too.  The only difference is that the red border was replaced with white in football and blue for basketball.  After all of these years, it's still my favorite Kenner SLU card design.

#2: 1989 Curt Warner

This is one of the few figures I actually kept from my original collection.  I'm pretty sure this is the first SLU I ever purchased and it's been sitting on a shelf (albeit different locations) for over 30 years.  

As you may have noticed, the 1989 design is similar to the 1988 design.

#31991 Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson has a ton of Kenner SLU's.  Not sure how many he has in all, but he had at least one figure each year from 1988 to 1992.

The first two featured him with the New York Yankees, while the next three were with the Oakland A's.  I really like this particular figure as he's doing what he did best: running.  As for the card, I know some people aren't a fan of bright yellow borders, but I like it.  And the action photo paired with the portrait is reminiscent of 1983 Topps... which happens to be one of my all-time favorite designs.

#41998 Muhammad Ali

I'm not a huge boxing fan, but I do love this figure.  By the time 1998 rolled around, Kenner was starting to produce higher quality sculpts where you could actually recognize the athlete.

However the Timeless Legends card design that year was a little boring.  Plus I'm not a fan of the zoomed in crop job.

#51998 Kobe Bryant

Yikes.  I spoke too soon.  No idea whose head sculpt this is, but this isn't Kobe.  The face is wrong... and at the very least they could have given him his afro.

On the other hand, the card is pretty cool.  It utilizes a variation of Kobe's 1997-98 Upper Deck card with the players in the background blurred out.

Here's what his pack pulled base card looks like:

Sorry about the COMC image, but I was surprised to see that I don't have this card in my Kobe binder.

#61999 Brett Favre

Like Rickey, Favre has a ton of Kenner SLU's to collect.  I'm 99% positive he has at least one regular issue figure from 1994 to 2000, plus a bunch of special releases like Classic Doubles and Gridiron Greats.

The 1999 design features a simple yet attractive borderless design, but the highlight for me is the well-cropped action shot of Favre rolling out and getting ready to sling the ball to someone.  Although the figure didn't capture the white towel, it did feature his white wristbands which is pretty cool.

So there you have it... a decade's worth of plastic figurines and the cards that accompanied them.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the 2022 collaboration between Hasbro and Fanatics is a success.  At the very least, they better make sure the figures include trading cards.

Okay... it's time for today's question of the day.  I'm sure I've asked this question before, but...

Did you ever collect Kenner SLU's?


Are you excited they're coming back?

Looking forward to reading and responding to your comments... especially since they'll be SLU related.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!