Saturday, June 24, 2017

Introducing: The Fun-At-A-Time Book Chain!

Here it is, ladies and gents, the very first step in what I am sure will become a card blogosphere-wide phenomenon. The rules again for those might have missed my last post: to play, all you need to do is leave a comment below. If you mention the contest on your blog or via twitter, leave a link below and you will get an extra entry. The cut-off will be Wednesday, June 28 at 10 pm central time. I'll do a randomizer list and the person in the first spot wins their choice of the three books below. I'll mail you the book and all you need to do in return is to set up the same type of give-away on your blog. You can vary the method of picking a winner or the number of books offered however you please, but you gotta offer up a sports or hobby-related book you adore. Then, the winner of that book will do the same and so on and so on and so on. 

UPDATE: So, it occurred to me just after posting this, but it might be a de-facto requirement of any winner to have their own card blog. I imagine you could also do a book give-away on twitter, as well. Just so long as you have a means of doing your own give-away that is open to the card collecting community, that'll work.

Easy enough, eh? 

THE BOOKS: 

Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession, by Dave Jamieson.


A thorough and lively history of trading cards from the earliest tobacco issues to the modern-day obsession with grading, this is a book I got for Christmas and absolutely tore through. I think I finished it in less than two days. With Pete Williams' Card Sharks and O'Keefe & Thompson's The Card, it is one of the three indispensable books on the history of the hobby.

Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, by Jane Leavy


One of the better baseball bios I've read in some time (the Ben Cramer book on DiMaggio and Leerhsen's Ty Cobb might be the two best), this book does a great job to get inside one of the game's most illusive characters. 

The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball's Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy, by Filip Bondy


And in-depth and very entertaining look at the famous George Brett pine tar game, tracing the many fascinating people involved in the incident and the sorta-now-forgotten rivalry of the Royals and Yankees. It's another quick read, but very worth while. 

So there you have it. Go crazy, folks.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Whole New Game...

So I've had it in my head lately to try some kind of BIG FUN type game here at the Summer of '74. But, to be honest, I don't really have the card backstock (or the money for postage) to put on anything that would be worthwhile to the participant. I also the idea to do something involving baseball books - as I have quite a backstock of those. But again, shipping costs made me a bit wary.  So I put some brain on coming up with a new kind of contest and - behold and lo - it came to me while walking back home from Goodwill, where I had just scored FIVE awesome binders.


So here's the idea - I will post a sports or hobby-related book tomorrow and give it away via some kind of to-be-determined contest. The only requirement of the winner will be to post a favorite sports/hobby book from their own shelves and give it away in a similar manner... the winner of that required to do the same thing. And on and on and on this will (hopefully) go, with bloggers getting to check out great books for nothing more than the cost of a media mail stamp. And hey, if you wanna throw in a few cards appropriate to the topic of the book or the nature of the winner, go right ahead, you crazy SOB! If you wanna hijack this idea and start your own give-away, go ahead and do that, too. The more balls in play, the better.

I've decided to call it the "FUN-AT-TIME BOOK CHAIN!" I immediately apologize for coming up with such a stupid name.

So, check back tomorrow when I'll post something that I really enjoyed and get the whole thing started! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Back in the Saddle Again

Hola Amigos. I know it's a been a long time since I rapped at ya, but your old buddy Matt's been a busy fellow lately. My wife and I just returned from New York. We went out to see her old hometown of Hampton Bays (among the lesser Hamptons of Long Island, she tells me) and visit her sister. Just before leaving, I got a few nice trade packages in the mail and had a few more waiting for me when I got home. Unfortunately, and because I am stupid, I deleted all the pics of my trade goodies just before before I left without first uploading them to dropbox. Yikes. I get a bit frazzled traveling, I guess. 

So, I'm going to try to cobble together all the trades into one post, and share a bit about my trip in the process. I just hope I can recall who sent me what. 

The first leg of of the trip was without incident. We flew into Philadelphia and had a two-hour layover before the flight to MacArthur Airport in Islip, LI. The Phillies were also in town that night, currently one of the worst teams in baseball. And hey, back in 2003, the Brewers were one of the worst teams in baseball. And Mark Smith was briefly a member of that team.


I had been missing him from my all-time Brewers collection. Bo, himself a resident of Long Island who blogs at Baseball Cards Come to Life, hooked me up with a '95 Donruss Rated Rookie card of Smith. He appeared in 33 games for the '03 Brewers, batting .238 and a .275 OBP. He never appeared in the bigs again. 

But all was not Sunny in Philadelphia that afternoon. Our plane was broken and the flight was canceled. With the only other way into NY going through Laguardia (which is about four days travel from Hampton Bays in bad traffic), we were stuck in Philly for the night. 

I wasn't really mad, shit happens. And it gave us a chance to see Philly... except it didn't. They stuck us at a weird hotel in some little suburb. It was nice enough, and we got real drunk at the bar and watched SVU all night long. But we didn't buy our tickets to see some Philly-area hotel. Just like someone who bought Brewers tickets this year to see Ryan Braun. He's on the DL right now, just as our plane was. And also, the "Asian-inspired cuisine" the hotel restaurant promised was a bit of an over-sell (it was your basic low-end takeout stuff). Just like calling Braun a "Five Tool" player. Anyway, this is a pretty cool looking card, from AJ at The Lost Collector.


The next morning, I woke to a text from American Airlines saying our re-booked Islip flight was ONCE AGAIN canceled and we were ONCE AGAIN put on a flight into Laguardia. Fuck that shit. We got on a train. 

So-long Philly
If nothing else went awry, we'd be at our destination in three hours. However, this trip involved the Long Island Railroad which (I'm sure Bo can back me up here) is what the locals call a "shit show." Out connecting train broke down and we were stuck in some damn place called Babylon. 


BROKEN! Like Bo Jackson breaking his bat on this mega-cool 1991 Score BO BREAKER card. This beauty arrived in a very nice package from Tom at Angles in Order. It was a follow-up to the wildly popular 1990 Score shoulder pads card, which I actually wrote an entire post about for the SABR card blog. It didn't have quite the same effect as the original, but is still a very boss card in my eyes and I'm glad to add it to my Bo collection.

We arrived a day late, but had a great time none the less. We saw the Icelandic band Sigur Ros at Forest Hills Stadium, which ended up being the place where Richie Tennebaum melted down in The Royal Tennenbaums. 



I got to see the ocean for the very first time.



And we had a great time going through old photos. Childhood photos of the wife! Not unlike this bad-ass 1972 childhood photo card of Willie Stargell that came in an eclectic package of stuff from Adam Sanders at The Cardboard Clubhouse

 
And, for what it's worth, this also happened to be among my sister-in-law's photos... 


Yeah, that's a young Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith with his grandmother. Hence the title of this post. 

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but we had to do it anyway. Thank heck our trip back was much less adventurous than the trip out. I also had to part with a pretty awesome part of my collection last week, when I mailed out that Highland Mint Brooks Robinson that I won in Johnny's Big Fun game to Trevor P at Bump and Run. But just as our troubles were well worth it in the end, the return on that trade was terrific. 


Here she is...  the bronze 1975 Rockin' Robin Yount. Just like the Brooksie, it's heavy and shiny and beautiful. 

So, that's been the last week or so of my life. I'll have plenty more in days to come. I've got a couple of rando Target breaks to yak about and a big lot of 2017 series 2 Topps Jumbos that should arrive today. I am also thinking of doing some kind of contest... maybe involving baseball books.

Anyway, I'll do a mini-mini contest right now. First one to leave a comment that correctly identifies what the first two sentences of this post refer to will get a fun little package in the mail.  

Adios.
 

Monday, June 12, 2017

An Autograph Milestone

A big delivery from eBay this past weekend and a little help from a TTH return has put me at 200 different signed Brewers cards. Hoo-ray!

This also means I am just under having 25% of the all-time roster. This only considers the roster up through the end of last season, so those numbers will adjust by the end of this year. Anyway, it's a fine achievement in my mind. So how's about taking a look at some of that new ink?


Luis Sardinas was supposed to be the centerpiece of the trade that send long-time Brewer Yovanni Gallardo to Texas. As it turned out, he was the most expendable piece of the deal, with Corey Knebel now a big part of the bullpen and Marcos Diplan a possible future prospect (he's still just 20). Sardinas struggled as a part-timer before being traded to the Mariners. This is the only auto/relic card in my Brewers auto set and one of only a handful of relics that I own.


Kind of an uggo card, but at least it's an on-card auto. Wagner threw 13 unremarkable innings for the Brewers in 2015. He went to Arizona in the Jean Segura trade, but is now in the Texas system. 


Not much to say about this one. He pitched 8.1 innings for the Crew in 2006. Great photo selection, Topps.


Luis Martinez was one of those guys during the rookie-crazy early 2000s that saw dozens of guys in base sets that would never even sniff the majors. Martinez got a sniff, but not a great one. STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE... he was a Brewers pitcher who threw a handful of innings and gave up a bunch of runs and never played in the majors again. He was later part of the trade that sent Larry Walker to the Cardinals. 



Chris Mabeus is another guy who has a million cards and only a handful of MLB games. Oh, wait, actually just one. He pitched 1.2 innings against the Pirates on May 29, 2006, gave up four hits, three walks, and fours runs. He finished that season at AA and never pitched professionally again. 



Jose Capellan was actually something of a big prospect when the Brewers got him from the Braves in 2004 for all star closer Dan Kolb. He put up pretty good numbers as a reliever for two seasons before struggling in 2007 and getting traded to the Tigers. Capellan was still pitching as late as 2013. He died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 34.



Carlos Villanueva spent five years with the Brewers as a long-reliever and spot starter. He was a part of the 2008 Wild Card team and also pitched for the Cardinals in the 2015 NLDS, totaling 5.2 scoreless post-season innings.



This Jason Rogers Chrome auto is so damn shiny, your blogmaster himself makes an appearance in the pic! HELLO WORLD! Rogers raked in '15 for the Crew, batting .296 with power in 152 ABs. The team sold high on him and flipped him to the Pirates for Keon Broxton and Trey Supak.



I've got to give Signature Rookies credit for being a half-decade ahead of the retro curve when they issued these mock tobacco (tomocko?) cards way back in 1995. Sure, they look like they were made in MS Paint, but this was well before Topps Heritage or UD Goudy or anything like that. As for Boze and Hughes? They had short MLB careers and unremarkable numbers. In fact, the most remarkable numbers might be those serial numbers... damn, they signed a lot of these things back in the day. 



I have a half-dozen or so of these Leaf Signature Series cards in my Brewers auto collection and DAMN do I like them. Great design, deep checklists, and a nice and unobtrusive way to present an on-card auto. And then you get badasses like Wickander here, who don't want to be confined to any box when signing their name. No one is gonna hold him back! ... Ok, so after goggling Wickander just now, I learned that he has actually had a lot of trouble since his playing career ended. He got hooked on amphetamines as a player and later developed an addiction to meth. In 2002, he was sentenced to four years in prison for theft. I wasn't able to find much about him since his release, but here's to hoping he's gotten healthy. 



This one came TTM the same day as the big package. It got a bit smudged on the way, but still checks in as the 200th sig in my Brewers collection. McIntosh was up and down with the Brewers for four seasons, playing in a total of 48 games. He also appeared with the Yankees and Expos in the bigs.



This one doesn't technically count toward my running tally yet, as it is a 2017 debut, but I picked up this nice Josh Hader auto at a show in West Allis the day after Hader made his first MLB appearance. I was going to do a whole post on the show, but it kept it kind of low-key, picking up only this card and a stack of '75s for my set. Still, a nice haul.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Chipping Away on the All-Time Brewers

A few days ago, I posted a list of the all-time Brewers cards I still needed. It was mostly for my own reference, but Bo over at Baseball Cards Come to Life was nice enough to track down a few of them from his collection that are headed my way. Yesterday, I got TWO orders I had placed for the collection - a sportlots order of regular cards and an ebay lot of signed cards. I'll start with the regulars and do a post on the sigs tomorrow. Get ready for some guys you barely remember!!!


This is the GOLD edition of Chris Jones's '94 Topps. Jones was a reserve outfielder who bounced around the NL for a decade before landing in Milwaukee for all of 16 ABs in 2000. He got three hits and his MLB career was over with. I honestly never remembered him as a Brewer and realized upon getting this card that the memories I did have of him were actually of Chris James. Nice foil, tho.


Brandon Kolb appeared in ten games in 2001, the last ten of his 21 game MLB career. He did not fare well with that awful Brewers club, allowing 16 runs in just over nine innings. In his short time with the Crew, he manged to give up five homers to the Reds. 


This was the first time I actually got to see one of the old UD 40 Man cards (or "Fourtyman" as they put it, like it's a weird last name). They are very sharp, much higher quality than Topps Total. I really wish there would be another huge-checklist set like this. Where else will I find future John Fosters and Jason Contis in Brewers colors? 


Corey Patterson is probably the most accomplished player of this lot. He hung around for 12 years and had pretty decent power and speed numbers. The Brewers picked him up in the last part of the 2009 season after he was cut by the Nationals. He appeared in 11 games and got one hit. One hit? That's all we got is one goddamn hit?



Nevin Ashley is still active, currently in the Mariners system. He debuted with the Brewers as a 30-year-old rookie in 2015. This is another guy I either have forgotten about or never noticed in the first place. He got two hits in 21 plate appearances. "Rookie Star" is probably a bit of a stretch.


David Goforth.. hey! He's still with the organization! He even pitched an inning with the big club this season. He's currently in Colorado Springs and, like most pitchers there, not doing very well. He did, however, have a very good season in the thin air in 2015 and pitched pretty well in brief stint with the Brewers. Here's to hoping he can find that groove again.


Now... this is the backside of the Goforth card. What the hell is this?  Do they literally need to tell me that this is a David Goforth baseball card? Where the name and photo on the front not enough? It reminds of this old Far Side gem...



Jhan Marinez was a very effective reliever in 2016. He struggled out of the gate in '17 and the Brewers tried to send him down, but the Pirates nabbed him on waivers. I didn't think much of it at the time, but he had been very sharp since the move and, with the Brewers 'pen sucking big-time ass, it seems as though they should have given him a bit longer leash.


George Brunet is one of the handful of former Seattle Pilots of which I am missing cards. He threw over 60 innings for the team in their only year of existence, but got shutout by Topps as well as in the handful of retrospective Pilots issues. He was traded just after the franchise moved in Milwaukee and later went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the Mexican League.

This haul now brings me to a total of 789 of the 841 All-time Brewers.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Uniformity, Uniformity, Uniformity, Uni...

When I got back in card collecting with vigor earlier this year, I decided to make set-building a priority and vowed not to fall back into the bad habits that had hampered previous attempts to do so. Part of this was to make sure I kept things neat and orderly. I am a very... let's say "particular"... person by nature. I'm not a neat freak by any means, but I definitely have an "a place for everything and everything in its place" kinda thing that I feel compelled to abide by. For example, the first thing I do when I sit down at a restaurant is to rearrange everything on the table - salt and pepper, sugar tray, etc - into an order that I find unobtrusive and calming. Yeah, and I never even realized I was doing this until someone pointed it out to me. I have a feeling that a lot of collectors, card and otherwise, have some mild form of OCD. The fact that I spent several hours last week reordering the cards in my all-time Brewers binders (now arranged by year the player debuted with the Brewers and within each year by the total number of games in which they appeared as a Brewer!) and the fact that it BOTHERED me when they only arranged by year and had no ordering system within each year rings pretty clearly as an at least mildly-obsessive behavior. But I doubt anyone in the collecting community would think twice about doing something that. After all, if they aren't in a specific order for a specific reason, why not just keep them loose in a trash bag?

Which brings me ... maybe? ... to my point of this post. To keep myself motivated in set-building, I need to make the process orderly. I want to keep my sets bindered in 9-pocket pages. Pages are a big expense, but I've found that you can routinely find cheap (and almost new) binders at Goodwill. In previous attempts at set-building, I had no system to displaying the binders themselves. But I think I've solved this...



BEHOLD! My organization is organized! White 2.5 inch binders (the '75 binder might be 3) with the clear plastic coating that allows for the display of a sample card from the enclosed set! Having four binders done up like this have given me a weird sense of pride. I just stare at it sometimes as I walk past and imagine how cool it's gonna look when I add a fifth and a sixth and even more. I've purposely kept the end cards a pretty random assortment. For the '10 and '14 sets, they were the only extra cards I could find, so I didn't have much of a choice. For '74 and '75, I just grabbed a couple of cards with cool pictures. I'll keep this standard up for the rest, I think. Maybe the end cards will give me fodder for some future post. But for now, I'm just happy to be able to walk past my binders without feeling that twinge I get when I first sit down at a restaurant.

How do you label your binders? What kind of organizational obsessions do you have? And - OH MY GOD - What am I going to do about the update binders that are too skinny for an end card????? (sits in corner of room, rocking with legs pulled to chest)
 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

52 Card Pick-Up(s That I need to Make)

I had to drive to the north part of Brookfield this morning. For those of you who do not know my area, the north part of Brookfield is about as near to the east side of Milwaukee as the moon. I kid, of course, but its a long drive on city streets or a stinking long grind on the interstate. My wife had to take her Praxis exam out there which meant, as she has very low eyesight and cannot drive, that I got to make the round-trip TWICE. Wee!

Who cares, right? No one. Anyway, the point of this story is that it gave me a very rare chance to stop at a Target and check out the card aisle (we don't have a car, so I use Zipcar when I do drive). Or so I thought. I stopped after dropping her off only to find out that the damn place hadn't opened yet. Then on the way to pick her up, I was too pressed for time to stop. Again, no one would care or should care about this. But this posted needed a lede. 

I spent the money I didn't spend at Target on some needs for my All-time Brewers project. Last night, I used my incredible subscription to the game finder at baseball-reference.com to finalize my master checklist for the project and - after today's purchases - I have 52 empty spots in my binders. Thanks to the trading card database, I was able to get a good idea of what is available for each of these players. Most never had a Brewers card, some never even had a major league card, but ALL are available in some degree on cardboard. 

This is not exactly a list of legends here, so finding these will require more patience than cash. But I am VERY interested in trades for anyone on this list. If there is a Brewers card available (as noted), then that is the item I am looking for. If they do not have a Brewers card, I am open to anything, with a preference for Big League sets. Thanks for reading!


Name Notes
Billy Williams 1989 ProCards Akron-Canton Indians Coach - Only known card
Dick Simpson No Pilots Cards, 67-69 Topps other teams
Dooley Womack No Pilots Cards, 67-69 Topps other teams
Garry Roggenburk No Pilots Cards, 64-68 Topps other teams
Gordy Lund No Pilots Cards, 1970 Topps #642, 1979/80/82 TCMA Minor League manager cards
Mike Thomas No MLB Cards, 92 Classic Best/ Procards, 93 Procards, 94 Procards
Ron Rightnowar No MLB Cards, 87-94 Procards
Danny Perez No MLB Cards, 92-94 Procards/ Classic Best, 94-95 Fleer Excel
Kelly Stinnett 1996 Leaf Sig Series - Only Brewers card
Tim Van Egmond 1997 Pacific Prisms Gems of the Diamond #GD 59
Bob Hamelin 1998 Police, 1998 Pacific Online #395, 1998 Ultra #438
Eric Plunk 1999 Police
Greg Martinez No MLB Cards, 93-94 Classic Best, 94 Procards, 96-97 Best
Greg Mullins No MLB Cards, 96-97 Classic Best
Joe Hudson No MLB Cards, 92-94 Classic Best/Procards
Lou Collier 1999 Police
Rich Becker 1999 Police
Steve Falteisek 1999 Police
Kane Davis 00 Pacific Omega w Del Los Santos #187, 01 Ultra w Paul Rigdon #248
David Manning 2003 Fleer Tradition Update #367
Enrique Cruz 03 Police, 03 UD 40 Man #426
Mark Smith No Brewers cards, other team - 1992 UD #66, 1995 Score #284, 1996 Score #236
Peter Zoccolillo 03 UD Finite #292, 03 UD Ultimate #145
Travis Phelps No Brewers cards, many issues w/Rays, 2001-03
Julio Mosquera No Brewers cards, 97 Bowman #112
Allan Simpson No Brewers cards, many issues 2002-05
Chris Spurling No Brewers cards, others 2003-04
Chris Smith No Brewers cards, 02 Bowman Draft #BDP53, 08 UD Authentic, Documentary, Timeline Autos
Mike Burns No Brewers cards, 01 Bowman Chrome #315
Gregg Zaun 2010 Topps Team set #MIL3
Daniel Ray Herrera No Brewers Cards, 08 Stadium Club Auto, 10 Heritage #66
Frankie De La Cruz No MLB cards, 2012 Iowa Cubs - perhaps others
Edwin Maysonet No Brewers cards, 07 Bowman Prospects #BP33, 09 Bowman #219, 09 Topps Update #12
Blake Lalli No Brewers cards, 10 Bowman Chrome #145
Donovan Hand 13 Panini Pasttime #179, 13 Panini Select #168
Matt Pagnozzi No MLB cards, MiLB issues 03-13
Juan Centeno 15 Panini Prizm Auto
Preston Guilmet No MLB Cards, MiLB issues, 11 - 15
Tyler Cravy No MLB Cards, MiLB issues 11-16
Yhonathan Barrios No MLB Cards, 12, 15 MiLB cards
Andrew Susac No Brewers cards, 12 Bowman prospects #BP97, 15 Topps #232
Carlos Torres No Brewers cards, 15 Topps #173
Colin Walsh No Brewers cards, 12 Bowman Pros #BCP 137
Damien Magnifico 12 Panini Auto
Jacob Barnes No MLB Cards, MiLB cards 11-16
Jake Elmore No Brewers cards, 13 Topps Update #186
Manny Pina No MLB cards
Michael Kirkman No Brewers cards, 10 Bowman Pros #BCP 143


Ramon Flores 17 Heritage team #397
Rob Scahill No Brewers cards, 11 Bowman Chrome Pros #BCP204, 13 Topps #185,