Monday, August 28, 2017

From Bo to Matt: 1988 Donruss "The Rookies"

I have yet to post on the MASSIVE trade I pulled off last month with Bo at Baseball Cards Come to Life. This really isn't about the trade, either, but it's about something that came in the same box. Bo did a Little-Big Fun Game just before the trade-a-thon, and I happened to win a set of 1988 Donruss The Rookies. Not just Rookies, THE ROOKIES. Take the baseball out of that logo and it's the perfect word mark for a puss-rock band from the 1980s.
Unabashed junk wax weirdness! Just my style. Let's take a look at some the more choice items from the set, shall we?

Dave Stapleton is one of two Brewers in the set. Stapleton was coming off a short-but-awesome 1987 season in which he pitched 14 innings and allowed just three runs. He threw 13 more in 1988, but couldn't stick around, posting a 5.93 ERA. He played one more season professionally, but never appeared in the majors again. 

Estelle (crying): I can't believe it, he was so young. How could this
have happened?

Steinbrenner: Well, he'd been logging some pretty heavy hours, first
one in in the morning, last one to leave at night. That kid was a human

Estelle: Are you sure you're talking about George?

Steinbrenner: You are Mr. and Mrs. Costanza?

Frank (yelling): What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?!? He had
30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year, he's got a rocket for an arm, you
don't know what the hell you're doin'!!

Steinbrenner: Well, Buener was a good prospect, no question about it.
But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps' bat. They kept saying 'Ken
Phelps, Ken Phelps'.

I was kind of stunned to learn that Pat Borders played 17 years in the majors. He never made an All Star team or led the league in anything, but he did win two World Series, a gold medal with the 2000 USA Olympic baseball team, and appeared in five different postseasons. In the 1992 Series with the Blue Jays, he batted .450 and won MVP honors. Not a bad career at all. 

Doug Jennings. What a depressing photo on this card. It looks like its about 150 degrees out. Anyway, he played for a while in the majors and didn't do much. Next.

Roberto Kelly was actually one of the first TTM autos I ever got from a non-Brewer. He was a pretty decent player, too. He made two all-star teams and finished with a .280 career batting average.

Walt Weiss was a punch-n-Judy hitter wit a slick glove who was a part of the A's juggernaut of the late 1980s. He played in 46 postseason games with the A's, Rockies, and Braves. 

Jeri-curl enthusiast Melido Perez lasted ten seasons in the majors. Perez was a member of the no-hit club for a few months in 1990 when he tossed a rain-shortened seven-inning no-hitter, only to lose the feat after the season when MLB changed its definition of an official no-hitter. He also gave up Manny Ramirez's first career homer.

I don't even feel like looking up Steve Peters' career numbers. He just looks so dopey on this card. 

This guy, either. Although he does have an awesome name. Also, two guys in a row with the snuff can in their pocket. 

Randy Milligan played for eight years and a regular with the O's in the early 1990s. He is seen here very, very sweaty. Did they take these pictures on the face of the sun? 

Hey! A Hall of Famer! The only one in the set.

Personally, I don't think this guy belongs anywhere near the Hall of Fame. Seriously, not even close. I'm talking, of course, about Edwin Nunez... who is mistakenly pictured on Edgar Martinez's card in this set. 'Gar is a clear HOFer in my mind and its a shame that he has only this thing and his 1988 Fleer for rookie cards. 

Joey Meyer is the other Brewer in the set. According to (probably incorrect) lore, Meyer once hit a 582-foot homer with the Denver Zephyrs in old Mile-High Stadium in 1987. This ranks unofficially as the longest homer in professional baseball history. He hit only 18 homers in the Bigs, but is the only player to ever his a walk-off homer against Roger Clemens. 

I have nothing to say about Mike Capel. I just like that you can see a house in the background of this card. 

Someone get Dubs! It's Ronnie Gant! As a second baseman, no less. 

We'll wind things up with Mackey Sasser. I won't recount his story here, but look it up. It's an interesting tale.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

New Trade Partners Wanted!

One of my favorite parts about being involved in the card blogosphere is the TRADING. I've done some swapping on the Blowoutcards forums as well and, while it has been pretty helpful, it's more regimented and less fun and creative than blog swapping. I had a burst of trades when I first got into blogging and it really helped me to make some connections and get hip to some great writing. But since then, things have mellowed a bit. So, I want to make some new connections! Open new doors! Sleep around (metaphorically)! 

If you've got some spare Topps base card laying around, I might need some of them! And if you've got some particular baseball stuff you collect, I can probably dig some of it up. I have just updated my Topps want lists, which can be viewed here. I am trying to build complete sets all the way back to 1974.

But I also have some other stuff that you might be interested in! Digging through some boxes, I found this signed photo of Bob Feller that I have no room on my walls for...

I also have a small collection of political autographs - senators and governors mostly, even a couple of world leaders. I got these all via TTM and am very willing to part with them, since I've come to the conclusion that all politicians are beneath contempt. It's a bi-partisan group (although the GOP replied at a far better rate than Dems for some reason), and I can come up with a grand list if anyone is interested.

I don't want any of this crap anymore. If you're down for it, and maybe have some stuff you're sick of that you think I might dig, let's make a deal! 

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Couple-Three New Autos to Show Off

None of these would have cracked my top 30, but the past week has seen a few TTM returns turn up in my ol' mailbox. 

I picked up a book of stamps at the local pharmacy a couple weeks back with the intention of trying to catch some Brewers before the season ended. About 10 days ago, I sent off a bundle of requests and, in short order, I had an envelope with a Milwaukee postmark on it. 

Hurrah! Lefty Brent Suter has become one of my favorite Brewers. First off, when I went to a Cubs-Brewers game at Wrigley last year, he spotted my Brewers shirt and tossed me a ball during BP. And just last month, he and his wife took one of my boat tours. It was a minor thrill to get to do a tour with a big leaguer on board... I'd talk about a building or a landmark and damn if he didn't look right at it. Beyond that, I love how fast he works and his crafty approach. He's on the DL right now, but should be back in the mix soon. The Brewers will need him dealing if they want to catch the Cubs. 

What a Mench this fellow is! This one came from Texas, where two-year Brewer Kevin Mench now lives. Mench was a big part of a big trade the Crew made in the summer of 2006 - shipping Carlos Lee and a fringe outfield prospect (dude named Nelson Cruz who had about 300 homers ahead of him) to the Rangers for a package headlined by Mench and closer Francisco Cordero. Mench was coming off a pair of 25+ homer seasons and was billed as a cheaper alternative to the soon-to-depart Lee. Mench ended up playing just 141 games with the Crew, hitting just nine homers and posting a sub-.300 OBP. He walked after the 2007 season and played partial seasons in Toronto and Washington before retiring. 

Not a Brewer, but this card - arriving yesterday from Boston - is another addition to my Hall of Famer auto collection. Jim Ed was a beast for the Red Sox for 16 years, winning an MVP and leading the league in a variety of offensive categories. Rice signs card for $10 each and, having a bit of cash burning a hole in my pocket, I pulled the trigger. It's a beautiful sign on icon card (to me, anyway).

Sunday, August 20, 2017


Thanks for following along with the countdown, everyone. Here is my top five...

5. Mike Mussina, 1993 Topps

Another guy who should be in the Hall of Fame, Moose was one of my favorites growing up. I rooted for the Orioles quite a bit back then. I didn’t really keep up the fandom after Mussina jumped to the hated Yankees, but he certainly put together a great run in New York. This is another card that gets a big boost because of how plain gorgeous it is.

4. Joe Morgan, 1974 Topps

I already had a Joe Morgan TTM in my collection (the famous white index card) when I saw some scuttlebutt on SCF about Morgan actually signing the cards he was getting in the mail. Morgan was always generous with the signed index cards, but was notoriously tough to get on anything else. I jumped at the chance and managed to score this beauty before he started straight-up refusing fan mail.

3. Paul Molitor, 1987 Donruss Opening Day

Molly has been a periodic TTM signer for years now, but I’ve only managed to snag him once. And there is an odd story behind this one. I got this one back in 2009, when I was kinda-sorta getting back into collecting. I sent it out with a handful of other requests to former Brewers (including the Cooper on this list). But when I got it back, I for some reason decided that it was a stamp. It is signed in a very thin blue pen, so the “swoosh lines” and pressure points are not that apparent in the ink. But other than that, I had no reason to think that it was not real. Still, I mostly disregarded it after I got it back. I put in a Cardsaver and threw it in a box of junk that ended up in the basement. It wasn’t until years later that I actually examined the card and realized that it was indeed hand-signed. You can even see that the card has a little bit of warping from its years in the basement. I can be pretty thick sometimes. Anyway, it is now safely held in my Brewers binder and reigns as one of my best HOF gets TTM.

2. Clayton Kershaw, 2012 Topps

Kershaw has been a pretty steady signer for some time now, using the old Josh Hamilton method of letting mail build up all year long and then sending out a mass of replies during the offseason. He has gotten more hit-and-miss in recent years, but I managed to get one a few years ago on a great-looking 2012 Topps. I think Kershaw has already had a Hall of Fame career and, if he stays healthy, he has a chance to become a generational great. This is a card that I just take out sometimes and stare at.

1. Bob Uecker, 1963 Topps

How could it be anyone but Mr. Baseball in the top spot? Ueck has recently stopping signing TTM, but for several years was a pretty reliable – but rather picky – signer. This was actually the third attempt I had made on Uecker. At first, I sent him a team-issued card, which he mailed back with no explanation. Thank God, as it was butt-ugly. Next, I sent him a reprint of the card above, a promotional issue from 1988 that promoted “Uecker’s Ride for Arts,” a charity bicycle event. That time, I got a letter from his assistant, explaining that Uecker would only sign officially licensed items. I’ve read since online that, even in person, Ueck insists on signing Topps-issued cards that he – either as player or afterwards – had received some kind of compensation for. Which is understandable, I suppose. He signs out of generosity and doesn’t wish to endorse anything that used his image without compensation (although I assume he had approved of both of the cards I had mailed him before). So finally, I ponied up a few bucks for this ’63 beaut and mailed it off. A few weeks later, it came back signed in pen. Bob Uecker is one of Milwaukee baseball’s all-time greatest assets. And this card is one my collection’s all-time greatest assets.

Friday, August 18, 2017

My 30 Greatest TTM Auto, 10-6

We've moved into the top ten now, as we continue with my Greatest TTM count-down list...

10. Bert Blyleven, 1988 Fleer

It was quite an unexpected surprise to get this one back, as Blyleven is not known for signing TTM – and with a nice inscription to boot! If you are unfamiliar with Blyleven’s greatness, you’ve missed out on the most interesting part of baseball over the past decade, so my recapping it here won’t help much.

9. Dave Parker, 1990 Score Traded

The Corba doesn’t have many Brewers cards, but damn if they don’t all look fantastic. I really dig this Score Traded look with the orange borders and Parker looks great mid-swing in the classic early-90s Brewers uni. Parker also has one of the nicest sigs around. I paid $10 for this one and it was well worth it.

8. Brooks Robinson, 1974 Topps

Earlier this year, Brooksie began signing TTM again pretty much out of nowhere. I got in pretty early, sending him this card for my currently-on-hold 1974 Topps project. I got a note back with the card this note:

I felt kind of bad for him, honoring a few autograph requests and then getting a deluge of others. I saw on the sportscardfourm autograph tracker that many other people got the same note around the same time I did. But people kept mailing him and getting replies. It seems now that he is telling people to go through his website, where he charges $60 per card.

7. Lou Whitaker, 1993 Upper Deck

It is an absolute crime that Sweet Lou is not in the Hall of Fame. I’ve been a big fan of his for a while now, coming to appreciate his career via his stats and highlights of the 1984 Tigers juggernaut. He has signed on and off for a while, charging a small fee most of the time. I think I got this one for five or ten bucks. Lou’s sig goes great on this card and the cameo appearance by Jimmy Gantner doesn’t hurt, either.

6. Nolan Ryan, 1989 Upper Deck

At $35, this is the most I’ve ever paid for a TTM auto. And I’m really glad I got when I did, as shortly after I got this back, he raised his flat fees to $60. This was a kind of iconic card for while, I remember it even being listed in price books as “Ryan, Nolan (football)…” I picked his card specifically to send to him and, due to the autograph kinda getting lost in the blue of his jersey, I regret it just a little bit. I wish he would have at least signed in the white area at the top. Anyway, it’s still a legendary card signed by a legendary pitcher.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Treat Yo' Self! I have Added my Dream Card to my Collection

I mentioned a while back that I would be starting a new job (well, an expanded role in my current job) at the beginning of next month. This is still true, but thanks to a change-up in the staff (someone quitting with no goddamn notice), my hours are going to take a huge jump immediately. And this is mostly fine. I have the time and I can use the money.

The promise of a few real big paydays to come put me in “treat yo’self” mode. I started making fantasy searches on eBay, looking at big-money cards that I never before seriously considered buying. After some pie-in-the-sky thoughts about getting a 2011 Update Mike Trout, I settled on its cheaper cousin, the 2012 Bryce Harper #661 rookie.

Topps was stricken with full-blown gimmickitus for this one, super-short printing one version, putting another (the one I bought) into factory sets, and including a third variation as a part of a special rookie set in factory sets. By the strictest definition, none of these can really be his rookie card – that designation falls to his 2012 Update “rookie debut” card – but I wanted one of these as a nice bookend to my 2012 set. I dropped $20 on it, which is about a third of what the Update card seems to be going for right now.

I rarely spend so much on a single card. I can’t honestly remember the most I’ve EVER paid for a single card. The most expensive card in my collection presently is the autographed 1987 Topps Barry Bonds that I picked up a few years ago for about $30.

It was issued by The Scoreboard a while back, long before authenticating holograms became a must-have. Doing a little detective work, I became almost totally certain the thing was legit and took advantage of the situation to snag an auto of one of the three or four greatest players of all-time.

But even after picking up the Harper, I didn’t feel entirely treated. I wanted something BIG. And, after a little digging, I found something big. It set me back almost $90 – FAR more than I’d ever paid for a single card before.

(takes a breath)

So here it is…

An AUTOGRAPHED 1976 SSPC Henry Aaron. My dear God…

A signed Hammerin’ Henry Brewers card has been at the top of my list for YEARS. When I started my all-time Brewers project, I realized that Bad Henry would be among the toughest of all-time roster to find signed and I had kinda resigned myself to never owning one. But then I stumbled upon this little beauty. It is, oddly enough, another card certified by the Score Board. Poking around again, I found some similar cards online and – with the certificate of authenticity included, the serial number of the back and the big clunky case (the Bonds I mentioned above came in a case just like it) I felt good enough in moving forward with the purchase. 

Because this card came from the early days of certified autograph cards and features Aaron as a Brewer (most collectors would prefer him as a Milwaukee or Atlanta Brave), the price was far more reasonable than most of the newer certified autos, more in line with those god-awful ugly Front Row auto’ed Aaron cards from the early 1990s. But for me, this card is as close to perfection as I can imagine. It is a mile better-looking than most of the recent Topps cert autos, which tend to be a bit garish with the foil and many of which feature sticker autos (which Aaron often signs outside the lines). It shows a tired man smiling politely, an aged legend on a young team preparing for an early-season tilt with the Yankees at Shea Stadium. The Schaefer Beer sign, the American flag, the overcast sky… the picture tells a story all on its own and doesn’t need any real design to make it iconic. Add a bold, blue signature and it becomes the greatest card in my collection.

On the backside, we learn that Aaron was once destined for the Brewers front office. He indeed did get a promise of a post-career job after he was traded to the Brewers, but a feud with Bud Selig during the 1976 season drove him back to Atlanta. In fact, Aaron was actually offered the job of managing the Brewers part-way through the 1975 season, which he turned down. The reasons for the beef with Selig were never made public and were eventually settled.

I haven’t put the card into Aaron’s spot in my all-time Brewers binder just yet. And probably I won’t Aaron occupies the 9th spot in the page, which feels vulnerable to damage for some reason (even though I’ve damaged maybe one or two cards while in a binder in my whole life). I’m even a bit hesitant to have it out on my desk for fear of something happening to it.

What do you think I should do, blog pals? Sleeve it up where it belongs or lock it down in heavy Lucite?

Monday, August 14, 2017

My 30 Greatest TTM Autos, 15-11

Back to the count-down!

15. Whitey Ford, oddball

Whitey was a pretty good signer for a while, usually charging $25 plus for cards while occasionally giving out a freebee. I had this weird fake-’69 laying around, so I took a flyer that paid off big. Whitey anchored a Yankee staff that won six World Series and won a Cy Young Award in 1961.

14. Warren Spahn, 1962 Topps

Warren Spahn’s career spanned 24 years. He broke in with FDR in the White House and pitched his final game at Candlestick Park. Had he not missed three seasons to serve in WWII, he would have won over 400 games and struck out over 3,000 men. A 17-time All Star, Spahn is one of just 14 pitchers with a career WAR of 90 or higher. I paid him $5 to sign his card about 20 years ago.

13. Adrian Beltre, 2010 Topps

The newest Mr. 3,000 has been considered a sure-fire Hall of Famer for a few years now. He has a nice, if choppy, sig. He has been a very good signer, but has trailed off in recent years. I feel like, by the time he comes to be elected to the Hall, many people will forget about his time in Seattle. Anyway, I’ve always loved this card. He’s an all-timer and a great guy.

12. Monte Irvin,1951 Topps

I picked this card up at a show many, many year ago. I got this and a 1949 Bowman Stan Musial (with a big scrape on the front) for $7 total. Both would be classified as poor by any grader (this Irvin has a big, black stain on the reverse), but $7 for an Irvin RC and a second-year Musial is a crazy good deal. I sold the Musial some time ago, but hung onto the Irvin and ended up mailing it to him back around 2010. I only have one signed rookie card of a hall of famer from the 1950s in my collection. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be able to afford another.

11. Nyjer Moran, 2012 Topps

From a very pricey antique to a card most people wouldn’t pay more than a buck or two for… that’s how I roll. “Tony Plush” was the shit-starting spark plug for the greatest Brewers team of my adult life. He talked mad shit, got Cardinals fans to hate his guts, and came up with big hit after big hit for the 2011 division champ Brewers. He was also a great TTM signer, and added his squiggle to this card that honors his game-winning hit in the 2011 NLDS.