Thursday, January 28, 2010

Topps Cards That Never Were - 1991 Jerry Reuss

As many of you are aware, the card blogosphere has been abuzz from Jerry Reuss' interaction on Night Owl's post about one of his childhood heroes, Jerry Reuss!  To me, it was extremely exciting to see a great former big league pitcher actually acknowledge that someone, anyone, besides us reads what we are doing.  I immediately felt like a 12 year old boy again, saving my lawn mowing money to buy some 1989 Topps wax packs at the local pharmacy.  It brought back a lot of good memories, so thank you Night Owl and Mr. Reuss.

Those who have followed this blog know that I like to make Topps cards of players that for some inexplicable reason were never made.  After yesterday's activity, I thought it would be a nice homage to feature Mr. Reuss on a 1991 Topps card in a Pirates uniform.  His actual last Topps card is a 1990 Brewers, but to me it didn't feel right letting him go out into the cardboard sunset in a Brewers uni.  It has to be a Pirate!

Mr. Reuss was nice enough to post his website and his flickr photostream for us to enjoy.  Using one of his flickr pictures, which is from his last major league appearance, I created the following.

This card may not be reproduced for sale, and shall only be used for online enjoyment.

Thank you for all the excitement you've created, and your great career, Mr. Reuss.

Here are Reuss' stats from 1990 at the age of 41:


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Fellers

A Tale of Two Fellers
Doc T

    In the spring of 1953, identical twins were born in the New York borough of Brooklyn.  Immediately they were separated at birth and sent to different orphanages, one in Paris, Tennessee and the other to Cleveland, Ohio.  I will tell you now that this is a tragic story.  One of these twins lived a short life, and the other, through the aid of good luck, fortune, science and technology may quite well live forever.

    The first twin did not stay long in the Cleveland orphanage.  One summer day, he and five of his friends were adopted.  His new home was warm, inviting, and full of laughter and love.  His new father played with him constantly, and took the young lad wherever he went.  His father took him to baseball games, the zoo, his new great-grandparents house, and they even slept in the same room because his father could not bear to have him out of his sight.  His father even taught him the proper way to ride a bike, and how to play the “flip” game.  He was loved, loved so much that even his father’s friends wanted to adopt him, but his father would never part with him.

    Eventually, all the activity began to wear down the young child.  The bike rides and games began to take their toll on him causing breaks and tears, but the father seemed to love him more because of these flaws.  His father even took great lengths to ensure that every scratch on his body was quickly mended using whatever household item the father could find.  The child was despondent over how quickly his body was failing him, but his father’s love reassured him that everything was fine.

    All was perfect in this young boy’s world until August of 1956 during a fishing trip with his father and grandpa on Beyer’s Pond.  While on the pond, the canoe capsized and all three fell into the murky water.  The father tried frantically to hold onto his son, but lost his grip.  The father dived underwater, feeling, searching, clawing in vain to find his son, but the water was too murky.  Heartbroken, the father had to give up his search and help the grandfather.  For a long time the father mourned the loss of his son, but knew his son was loved more than any other during his brief life.


    The other twin was not as fortunate to be immediately adopted.  He spent countless years in a cramped sickly sweet smelling room within a drafty and cold orphanage.  For all he knew, he was trapped in what felt like a barn or basement, deprived of love and contact.  For ages he never saw the sun, or any adults, only his peers.

    Then after what seemed like eons, he saw the light of day.  Someone had finally come to adopt him.  His new father was old, much older than he thought he would be and seemed very cold, calculating.  He was balding and had a permanent smirk.

    His father did not play with him, and treated him as if he were sick.  The father even went as far to wear gloves when touching him.  There were no sports, no bike rides, no trips.  The child was again locked away; in order to protect his body from the world is what his adoptive father said.

    After witnessing his father’s odd behavior, the child began to think that he was ill, stricken with some contagious disease.  His fears were soon realized when one day he was quarantined to an acid free polypropylene containment unit.  Hopeless, the child submitted to his fate and began waiting for a cure that surely would come.
    And came it did.  His father was sending him to a doctor in Dallas, Texas.  The child was ecstatic to finally have a chance at a real life.  Upon arrival at the clinic, the child was examined under a microscope and put through all the requisite tests.  The doctor exclaimed that he was a wonderful specimen and in top grade condition.  The child was relieved and ready to play, but then the unthinkable happened.  He was permanently encased in a rigid, air-free cell, and sent back to his father in Montvale, New Jersey.  His disease must be incurable the child thought.

    When he returned to his father, he exclaimed “What have you done to me?”  To which the father replied that the child had been given a chance at immortality thanks to his financial resources and that he should be grateful for this opportunity.  The child was skeptical and wanted to be freed to play.  Damn the disease, he didn’t care if he died outside of his bubble, but the father would not budge.  The child began to resent his father, and the father must have known this, for one day he gave up on his son, selling him to another man.

    Hopeful of a brighter future, the child was not saddened to have his original adoptive father out of his life.  The child was overjoyed to go to his new home, and was ready to play.  Yet, he remained in his cell, urging to play, yet he waited, and waited, and waited…

Now, you tell me who had the more tragic life?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Trip to the Local Brick and Mortar

I was on my way to the post office this morning to mail yesterday’s Amazon sales, when I realized that I needed some 600 count boxes for the mailing the trades I am preparing.  Luckily, just around the corner from the post office is my local card shop, which is enticingly only two blocks from my office.  Having not been to a card shop in eight years, and having scoured the internet for deals, which usually mean mass bulk, I thought I’d check out their prices.

Now, my last trip to a card shop in 2002 was a complete disaster.  The shop was located in a mall (bad sign), and since we were already cruising the mall, I stopped in for a peek.  The first thing that caught my eye were three 3,200 count boxes full of the easily recognizable ’90 Donruss.  I had just finished hand collated sets from ’73 through ’85 over the previous two years, so I thought it might be fun to do a cheapo set (I already had about 50%) before I began tackling 1971 Topps.

Before I went home and dusted off the want lists, I asked the owner how much the ’90 Donruss commons were and he coolly replied 25 cents each.  I couldn’t believe it.  Maybe 25 cards for 25 cents, but surely not a quarter of a dollar per.  I laughed at him, turned around and walked out.  That was my last visit to a card store, until today.

As I walked to store front, I looked at the door and saw the posted hours as 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.  Not exactly the best window timeframe, as I’m sure the dreaded Out to Lunch sign gets posted quite often, but thankfully it was 11:05, so I was in luck.  As soon as I walked in, the door chimed and the owner looked up at not the door, but the chimer, as if he thought is was malfunctioning.  I reckon business is slow.

I said “hello” and then he finally looked at me standing in the doorway.  I expected a “Holy cow, a customer” greeting, but only got a muted “Hey,” thus setting the mood perfectly.  The owner went back to the computer (probably eBay, as I cannot fathom how he manages to keep the store open with such short hours), and I began my search for supplies. 

While looking, I noticed the place was lined on three sides with display cases, had a massive 5-shelf double sided storage/book case in the middle of the room, offshoot tables with old wax, and the obligatory wobbly book shelves behind the display cases.  Immediately I knew this dude was a lifer, so maybe there was something worth finding in there besides supplies. 

Eventually I found the boxes and noticed they were all $1.25 from the 100 count to the 800 count.  Go figure that one out.  So I picked up 8 of them, and then began perusing the cases.  My eyes focused on the vintage and then the prices, which were surprisingly low, until I realized it was ALL Heritage crap.  Frustrated, I looked through all the cases and found nothing prior to ’70.

Keep in mind, the entire time I was talking to the owner, trying to engage him and get a feel.  I was trying to establish that long lost dealer/collector bond I had from when I was a kid.  Nothing there, he was too busy watching The View now.

However, I still kept on.  As he checked me out, I noticed some nice vintage early 80s wax.  Most of it was Donruss, but still nice to see the pre-87 wax.  He even had some late 70s, early 80s Hockey wax, but the prices were outrageous for those ($15 to $20 per pack, prior to the Gretzky era).  Anyways, I remarked on how nice it was to see the older wax, and got a blank stare in return.

By this time, I could not figure this dude out.  He was my age or a little older, so he has to have to some sort of feeling about The Cards, but I still got little feedback.  Again, I turned to the massive bookcases in the middle of the room lined with tons of 3,200 count boxes jammed pack.  I grimaced, then asked him “Don’t mind me asking, but what sort of system do you have for your boxes?”  He replied “Oh, those? Those are common cards I buy off of people when they bring them in, and there not in any type of order, but you may find a brick of one year in there.”  Not likely, I thought.

The commons were completely mixed up and therefore useless.  I saw some 25 to 50 card bricks of 88 Fleer, 92 Donruss, etc., but nothing worth searching through.  My stance is if the cards are not organized by year and maker, how in the world can you expect someone to search your common boxes to fill want lists? 

So, I paid my $10 for the boxes, gave him my unrequited thanks and left.  And no, I did not ask him how much the commons were for fear of the “25-cent reply.”

I hope it isn’t another 8 years before I enter a brick and mortar.

Topps Cards That Never Were Gallery

Hey Topps! If for some bizarre reason you see this, insert set...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Topps Cards That Never Were: 1981 Willie McCovey

The third and final Willie to get his just due on a final Topps cards is here.  It is none other than the great Willie McCovey.

Willie broke into The Show back in 1959, and went 4 for 4 against fellow Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts, in his debut.  Amazingly, Willie won the ROY in '59 while only playing in 52 games.  Willie Mac continued to be an amazing power hitting 1B for the Giants and made a great tandem with Willie Mays.

For a two year stretch from '64 to '65, McCovey was part of a little unknown historical fact.  Those Giants were one of 3 teams to field five BBWAA HOFers at the same time.  Those Giants teams included: Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Duke Snider (64) / Warren Spahn (65).  If you throw in Orlando "Baby Bull" Cepeda from the Veterans Committee, that makes six hall of famers on one field for one team.  Awesome.

McCovey went on to hit 521 home runs and is tied with Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.  McCovey also had a two and half season stop over in San Diego (yay!) and a brief stint with the Oakland A's.

Willie also wore number 44 in honor of Hank Aaron, who is a fellow Mobile native.

The Original Big Mac

Here are Stretch's stats from 1980:










Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who's the Next Mr. 300?

Since Randy Johnson’s recent retirement announcement that he is leaving the game second on the strikeout list and the most recent pitcher to crack the 300 win barrier, I have been wondering who will be the next Mr. 300?  At first, no one came to mind, and then I wonder if 250 would be the new 300, but after some research at, I saw that there are a handful of pitchers who may one day surpass the mystical 300 wins threshold.

I pulled the active wins leaders and ended up with a mess of 100 starters and relievers.  Having whittled out the bullpen warriors, I was left with an even uglier bunch of starters that included way too many 3, 4, 5 men, and the likes of Dontrelle “The New Bird” Willis.  I quickly reduced that list by figuring how many wins a pitcher needed to average per season to reach 300 wins by the ripe old, yet reasonable, age of 42.  All those needing to average more than 17 wins per year were dismissed, as the league high hasn’t cracked 20 that often this decade, which left us with a respectable 24 pitchers out of the original 100.

A quick analysis of this bunch weeded out even more pitchers who are fading into twilight (Pedro!), have been bedeviled by injuries (Hudson, Myers, Bonderman, Willis), just don’t have enough gas (E. Santana, Lackey, Beckett, Haren) or cannot reasonably win enough games pitching from the 3, 4, 5 spots (O. Perez, , Vazquez).  That left me with 13 pitchers who have a reasonable, if not long shot, to reach the 300 plateau.  Allow me to rank them how I see it playing out…

13.  Barry Zito (133 Wins) – I couldn’t believe his numbers made the cut, but he had an awesome early career that has seemingly nosedived.  Using the 42 year cutoff, Barry has 11 years to win 167 games, but that makes an average of 15.2 wins a season.  Not likely, but doable if healthy, regains his composure and the Giants get some dang offense other than Aubrey Huff in the 4-hole.

12.    Jake Peavy (95 Wins) – Being a Friar Fanatic since my first game in 1977, I watched Jake play with awe.  Even caught him at a Double-A game when he was with the Mobile Bay Bears. I knew he was special then, but arm troubles could be his downfall.  He’ll do great in Chicago under Guillen and K. Williams awesome GM powers, but an average of 14.6 wins over 14 seasons may be a stretch.
11.    Carlos Zambrano (105 Wins) – My initial reaction to the Z-man is if he’s going to reach 300 wins, he better leave the Northside and have an attitude readjustment.  He needs an average of 13.9 wins over 14 seasons, and it is doable, but I feel that fiery temper and competitive edge will wreck his arm.  Sorry Cubs fans.

10.    Justin Verlander (65 Wins) – Two advantages for the Cav-man are he pitches in a cavernous ballpark and has averaged 13 wins per season for his first 5 years.  He needs an average of 14.7 wins over 16 years (gasp!), however, I imagine a powerhouse will swoop him up when his contract ends.

9.    Jamie Moyer (258 Wins) – He is closet to the 300 mark and probably the biggest dark horse.  Jamie needs 42 wins, but is already 46 and is coming off a groin injury.  I could see him squeaking out an average of 11 wins over the next 4 years with the powerhouse Phillies, but he’d be 50!  I fear Jamie will be this era’s Tommy John.

8.    Roy Halladay (148 Wins) – Roy is an absolute workhorse with few injury problems, who is now on a 2 time NL Championship team.  He needs an average of 15.2 wins over the next 10 seasons, but I see Roy pitching way past the age of 42, which would bump that 15.2 down to around 10 or 11.  Should be much higher on the list, but he hasn’t proven himself in the Senior Circuit, yet.

7.    Johan Santana (122 Wins) – Johan has had no problem making the switch from the AL to the NL, but the problem is he is on the Mets.  If he has a healthy defense/offense on the field and perhaps a new GM, he should have no difficulties averaging 14.8 wins over the next 12 seasons. 

6.    Jon Garland (117 Wins) – At first I didn’t know who this guy was, and then realized he was a Southsider that cut his teeth with Buerhle (what a combo).  An average of 14 wins over 13 years is plausible if he remains on a contending team.

5.  Felix Hernandez (58 Wins) – Felix has the fewest wins on the list, thus is not as high as he maybe should be.  Seattle’s ace with Cliff Lee behind him, a huge amount of potential and a resurging Mariner’s club gives Felix the chance to average 12.7 wins over the next 19 seasons!  I doubt Felix will be wearing Gold and Blue forever.  I foresee pinstripes, which increases his odds.

4.    Andy Pettitte (229 Wins) – Mr. HGH himself has a shot at 300, but that will likely not help his HOFer chances (ahem, McGwire).  Andy needs only 71 wins and could easily get the required average of 14.2 wins if he remains the 4 spot pitcher in the Bombers rotation.  Pettitte versus any other teams #4 starter is a scary matchup.

3.    Mark Buerhle (135 Wins) – What can be said about a man who has averaged 13.5 wins per season, and needs to average 13.75 wins over the next 12 seasons to reach 300?  Good manager, great GM and a waffling AL Central Division means he has a great shot.  I do not foresee Chicago ever letting him go, not after the perfect game…

2.    Roy Oswalt (137 Wins) – Does that name strike fear into you?  Maybe it should considering he has averaged 15.2 wins per season pitching in the Juice Box.  His accomplishments are truly amazing, and just imagine if he ends up in a pitcher friendly ballpark.  I think he will surpass Early Wynn.

1.  C.C. Sabathia (136 Wins) – C.C. or Carsten Charles is by far the biggest stud on this list, literally and statistically.  His first season in the Bronx netted him a league leading 19 wins last season, and I remember at one point they were saying he was having a down year.  With the Yankee payroll and his already average of 15.1 wins per season, he should easily average 11.7 wins over the next 14 summers.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Trading Block – Change of Tactics

Over my vacation, I did some thinking about the way I was making cards available for trade to others.  When I started this reverse trade posting venture, I thought it would be a good way to get more trading partners and quickly reduce my inventory.  While it has opened up a few new traders, it definitely has not been a quick way to reduce what I have.

For starters, I had no idea how much time it would take to catalog and then list the cards I have available for trade.  I’ve been collecting for 30 years, and save for when my cards were organized by team, wrapped in a rubber band and kept in a Pumas shoebox; I have never been able to organize my collection.  Now, as I am purging my collection for trades and donations, it seems idiotic to actually “organize” my cards just as they are moving on to new homes.  I mean, it takes a lot of time to list cards out by number, team, player, etc., so I’m shaking it up so I can get back to actually posting about cards, cards that never were and baseball.  For goodness sakes, I have about 60 posts planned out, but have been lost in a spreadsheet cataloging process.

But, never fear, all claimed cards are going to their intended destinations, and having identified several trade partners (which is probably about all I can truly handle), you lucky few are going to bear the fruits of my lack of organization and limited time.  While you have been claiming cards on the trading block posts, I have been secretly squirreling cards into your pile that never made it on the blog.  I actually found this quite enjoyable, and you know what?  It made it really easy and quick to thin the cards out.

So, here’s a rundown on what I’m putting aside for you…

GCRL – Dodgers*, Plays at 2nd base, and Dodger Stadium cards.
Night Owl – Dodgers* and night games.
Cpt. Canuck – Braves, Football and Hockey.
WSC – White Sox and Baines.
Dan – stickers, stickers and more stickers.
Wicked Ortega – Marlins
Troll – Rays and Tarta-trolls
MattR – Giants
EDS – Assorted Brew Crews

*Note on GCRL and NO, I will try and keep you guys even and not favor the other.  Such nicety to Dodger fans from a Padres fan.

I will keep the cards available for trade up on the right navbar until the time expires, and maybe I will find time to post some more if I think they are worthy candidates.  One day it should list all the 60s, 70s and 80s goodies I have available for trade (but no expiration date).

If you want me to check out your want-lists, leave a comment, and I will go through yours every time I drop cards in the donation box.

Doc T

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trading Block - 1993 Flair

My Take: Never actively purchased or collected these cards, so I must have obtained them in a 3,200 count box buy.  Of all the "high-end" cards of the 90s, I must say I do like these.  Super thick cardstock, a nice glossy finish and they do not stick to each other, unlike the Emotion cards.

HOFers: None

Notables: E. Martinez, Vizquel and Danny Tarta-Troll

Closes: February 2, 2010

For Trade:
9, 17, 25, 28, 35, 36, 45, 47, 56, 78, 79, 80, 92, 99, 103, 112, 114, 117, 122, 123, 130, 131, 139, 141, 149, 153, 155 (2), 156, 158, 167, 175, 185, 205, 229, 239, 241, 247, 250, 252, 253, 262, 265, 267, 273, 276, 288, 290 and 299
Special Requests:
Braves - 9
Cubs - 17
Dodgers - None
Giants - 139, 141
Marlins - 45, 47
Mets - 92
Rangers - None
Red Sox - 167
White Sox - 185

As always, all unclaimed cards are going to my 1,000,000 Cards for Kids side project, and I can hold your claims until you get enough ammo for a trade.

Remember, first come, first served in the comment box.

For more info on trades, read this.

General Malaise

I'm back from vacation, and feeling just like the title suggests.  No, not like a long lost ancient Mongolian warrior, but just blah.  The time away from work was nice, but after blowing out my back on Christmas Eve (thank you Oxycontin) and having both kids get sick, one really bad with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, I'm just not feeling the cards right now.

I had plans to finish my card closet, but with a bad back and sick kids, that dream vanished.  Best laid plans of mice and men.

So, I'm back at work with an office full of cards to trade and donate, and I'm just not that into it right now.  Could it be the 18 degree 4:30 a.m. drive to work?  Could it be the looming local media ripping apart my work program because of an ex-Governor's trespasses?  Could it be that I'm acting supervisor while my boss is at home with his newborn twins (congrats by the way!)?  Who knows.

What I do know is that I will get back in my saddle and start posting trades, cards that never were and random card rants (ahem, Mr. Mint) soon.  I toiled with the H word, but I know that is not the answer.  I am amazed at the amount of content my fellow bloggers are able to post continuously day in and day out.  Do you guys ever sleep?

Anyways, some of the posted trades ended, and another 270+ cards have been added to the donation pile.  I was hoping for a little more participation on the trades, but I am very grateful for those who have chimed in for some of the cards.  I also decided that for those who are my Followers, that I'd search their want lists before putting cards away in the donation box.  So, if you miss a few trade posts (WSC!), I'll still try and search your wants.

Blah.  Meh.  Blech.
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