RIP Jim Bunning, 1931-2017

30 05 2017

I haven’t been much for posting lately, but I try to always post a little “in memoriam” when a Hall of Famer passes away.  It was especially weird this week.  I’m in Cooperstown right now.  My wife and I brought the kids to their first Cooperstown trip for the Memorial Weekend festivities they put on.  I may (will?) post about it later.  The whole thing was awesome, and on Saturday night we walked through the museum and then went to the Hall of Fame part (where the plaques are).  That’s when I saw the poster above.  With twitter and all of today’s social media, I’m often up to the minute on baseball news.  But being in Cooperstown has a way of removing you from that.  So I was a bit floored to see this.

First off, Jim Bunning is from Cincinnati like I am.  He graduated from St. Xavier high school – I know plenty of people who did.  He went to Xavier, which was always my favorite local college when I was a kid.  Being both a Cincinnatian and a big baseball fan, I always kind of knew more about him than the average Cincinnatian or baseball fan.  Needless to say, I was sad to hear of his passing.

I can always use a refresher, however.  Reading up a bit, I didn’t realize that he retired as the second leading strikeout pitcher of all-time.  That’s right.  Before Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry and Tom Seaver could flag down the Big Train – they all had to pass Jim Bunning.  He was the first guy with a no-hitter in both leagues, one of which was a perfect game in 1964 for the Phillies.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996 by the Veterans Committee.  His plaque was adorned with flowers on Saturday when I was there.

The way he spent his time after baseball is the more notable part of his life, however.  Representing Bunning spent 12 years as a member of Congress, representing the state of Kentucky.  After his time in the House, he went on to 12 more years as a member of the Senate.

Bunning is the 13th HOF-er to pass away since I started this blog.  The baseball world will miss a man who spent a career in baseball and then another career representing our country.





Completed insert set – 1996 Topps Masters of the Game

4 05 2017

I did the “elusive eight” post yesterday for getting the Kirby Puckett card from this set.  This is the completed set post.  I’m actually getting pretty close to finishing up the 1990’s!

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This hobby only insert highlights the best players in the game at the time.  The horizontal cards have a picture of the player on the front with a view of his home field in the background – all with a bit of the spectralight effect.  The back has particular accomplishments that I guess qualify this player as a “Master of the Game”.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:18 odds (1996 Topps series 1 hobby)

Hall of Famers:  12.  Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas

How I put the set together:

  • 15 cards from COMC
  • 4 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s Marketplace

Card that completed my set:  #15 – Kirby Puckett

I just got this card to knock it off my Elusive 8 list last week.

Thoughts on the set:  I like the thicker card stock, and the background foil technology is great.  Topps could do something like this today and I would like it.  It would have been nice if they did a foil version of the Mantle tribute (card #7).

Best card (my opinion):  #7 – Tim Raines

I’ll go with the recently inducted HOF member.  It took too long for Rock to make it to Cooperstown.  By this point he was a grizzled vet.  The Mattingly card was a close 2nd – it was released right after he retired.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.  Barry Larkin would have seemed appropriate here – coming right off his MVP season after a decade in the league.

Here’s the scan of the full set.

Any other tidbits:  As mentioned, this card came out after Mattingly retired.

12 out of 20 HOF-ers is pretty impressive, plus you’ve got Bonds and Clemens who are probably the best 2 (or at least 2 of the best 3) historical players in this group.





Updating the Elusive Eight for an 8th time

3 05 2017

This is the 8th time I’ve crossed something off this elusive card list.  I got a new card from COMC, amongst some other purchases:

1996 Topps Master of the Game #15 – Kirby Puckett

This was a legitimately elusive card.  I got the first card toward this set in 2012.  I got the 2nd-to-last card of this set 2 years ago.  I’ve been on the lookout for this Puckett card ever since and didn’t find it until a COMC search a few weeks ago.  It finishes the set, which is always a great thing!

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Here’s the updated Elusive Eight, just in case anyone has these cards available!  Remember – the pictures are the photos I have of other cards in the set.  Since I don’t have them, I don’t have actual photos yet!

1995 Topps Pre-Production Spectralite #PP5 – Travis Fryman

1995 Topps Pre-Production Spectralite Sandy Alomar

This was one of 4 cards on the original Elusive Eight that has stayed on the whole time and I’m still yet to obtain, and to me is the one that might prove the toughest.  I’m guessing that whenever I turn over the full original list – it will be this card that gets me there.

1996 Topps Masters of the Game #15 – Kirby Puckett

96 Masters of Game

Another EE original – I am surprised I haven’t found this guy yet.  The hunt continues…

2012 Topps Archives In Action #82IA-JE – Jacoby Ellsbury

Trade Night Owl June 2012 Archives

This is another original list card that I just can’t seem to find.  As a retail-only set, these aren’t common by any means, but I’ve seen the other cards in this set so much more frequently.

2013 Gypsy Queen #218 – Adam Wainwright

2013 Gypsy Queen Gwynn

This was on the original list, but unlike the others this is a card I could go out and buy now if I wanted to.  I just haven’t had the burning need to complete the Gypsy Queen set from 2013.  It’s not something I need to pounce on, but hopefully I get this by end of 2016.

2012 Topps Archives Combos – #58-YE – Yaz/Ellsbury

2012 Archives Combos Bench Votto

So this card was on the 2nd list, and has been on there ever since.  I had 2 needs for this set, so couldn’t fit it into the original, so once I got one of the originals, this card and its counterpart replaced…

2012 Allen & Ginter Giants of the Deep #14 – Bottlenose Whale

2012 Ginter mini Giants Deep Bottlenose Whale

So technically this was on the original list, but not continuously on.  I think I’ve bumped it off two times.

1998 Hall Bound #1 – Paul Molitor

1998 Topps s1 box HallBound Bonds

Ugh, I actually thought I bought this card on COMC in the same purchase as the Puckett Master of the Game.  It showed up and I realized it was the Chrome version.  D’0h!

2002 Topps Traded #1 – Jeff Weaver

2002 Topps Traded Tim Raines

This is the card I’m adding to replace the Cabrera/Kaline card above.  I’m going to do this going forward – keep 1 of these 2002 Topps Traded cards on my list.  See, it’s going to be the hardest base set of this Lifetime Topps Project for me to complete.  Topps short printed the first 110 cards and they now go for $3-$5 a pop.  I’m hoping this helps me focus on these.

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Here are some other cards that would be knocking on the door to make the list.

1998 Milestones  cards #3 (Dennis Eckersley) & #4 (Juan Gonzalez)

2001 Topps MVP redemption set – a very expensive set, I have about 10 of the 25 cards

2003 Topps Nolan Ryan Record Breaker – 3 very difficult cards to go

2003 Topps Traded – 5 cards to go

2004 Topps – 5 cards to go

2012 Topps – the Bryce Harper 661 card





Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Roberto Clemente Finest

1 05 2017

I got caught up on all of my completed insert set posts last year.  Then I started posting at a far lesser clip, and I’ve finished off a few more sets.  The Clemente insert set is one of them.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Clemente was the 3rd historic player honored with a reprint set (after Mickey Mantle in ’96 and Willie Mays in ’97).  Clemente was a good choice, as 1998 marked 25 years since his tragic death.  This set had reprints of the full run of his base Topps cards during his career.  Reprints of his 19 regular cards from 1955-1973 were issued across both series.  The 10 odd years come in series 1, while the 9 even years come in series 2.  There is a gold Clemente logo, created just for this set.  There was a chrome version and a regular – this is the finest version, which came one every other box.

Set composition:  19 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 1, 2)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Clemente.  None of his multi-player cards are included.

How I put the set together:

I got none from the boxes I bought.  I did actually get one refractor – just no regular finest versions.

  • 17 cards from COMC
  • 1 card from Beckett Marketplace
  • 1 card from Sportlots

Card that completed my set:  #13 – 1967 Topps

I bought the last cards I needed from Sportlots a few weeks ago.

Thoughts on the set:  Retro sets are everywhere you look these days, but in 1998 there weren’t that many, and they were almost all reprints.  I like the Finest versions of these cards.  And, to be honest, I kind of wish Topps would abandon the shotgun approach and go back to individual players.  They do something similar with jumbo cards available online.  I think they could do some stuff like all the Griffey Topps cards, or even all the Willie McCovey Topps cards.  With the finest versions, it would do well.

Best card (my opinion):  #19 – 1973 Topps

I have to go with the same thing I did for the regular set.  The 1972 card is probably my favorite photo, but the 1973 card is great as well.  And there’s something awesome about seeing exactly 3,000 hits on the back of the card.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none (obviously).

Here’s the scans of the whole set.





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #78 – Goose Island Goatbusters

29 04 2017

More Chicago baseball beers.  I kind of forgot about this beer, but Goose Island came out with a beer when the Cubs officially “broke the curse”.  If you know anything about the curse of the Billy Goat – it wasn’t exorcised when the Cubs won the World Series.  That happened when the team made it to the Series.  This beer came out at that point – when the Cubs were playing the Indians.

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, IL

The brewery has been 100% owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev since 2011.

Beer:  Goatbusters

Description:  This stout was brewed at the brewpub on Clybourn, which is actually closed right now.  It’s described as having an onyx color, pine and coffee aroma, chocolate and hop resin flavor, toasty finish.  From what I remember, that’s about right.  My wife and I brought the kids down to Wrigley on the Saturday morning before game 4 to get some nice pictures.  We hit the brewpub up for lunch, and I tried this beer.

Medium:  This was only available on draft at the Clybourn brewpub.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s brewed in honor of the Cubs ending the “Curse of the Billy Goat” when they beat the Dodgers to make the club’s first World Series in 72 years.  It’s also a reference to celebrity fan Billy Murray, who was one of the stars of Ghostbusters.





1999 Topps parallels – Ken Griffey Jr. – no more hunting left to do! (sort of)

27 04 2017

So I picked up a white whale about 2 months ago.  For the parallel cards in 1999, I picked Ken Griffey Jr.  I’m considering this parallel project done for 1999, though I’m having a different player fill in for Mr. Griffey for that MVP promotion.  Yeah, if I find his MVP promotion card someday, I’ll try for it.  But I’m doubtful, and even if I do, it may be more than I’m willing to pay.

But the big find here was the Refractor from Topps SuperChrome.  I’ve been on the lookout for this card for over a year, and I jumped on a $30 price tag (best offer – I think $40 was the initial ask) as soon as I saw it!

Here’s the updated post.

1999 Topps

Card I selected:  #100 – Ken Griffey Jr.

I picked a 2nd straight Hall of Famer in 1999.  It was also my 2nd straight Moeller High School graduate – Ken Griffey Jr. followed Barry Larkin.  This was my favorite card of the entire 1999 set; Griffey connecting with a pitch on a horizontal card is great.

I don’t have every one of these cards yet.  There’s 2 hold-ups.  First – like the 1998 Larkin, I’m missing the Super Chrome Refractor which is just a card that doesn’t show up on eBay or anywhere else very often.  Second is the MVP promotional card.  There were only 100 of these, and Griffey was a winner so most of them were probably redeemed.  So I’m not holding my breath on ever getting that one and have picked a replacement.

# of cards (including the Topps card):  10

The parallel sets in 1999 include:

  • MVP promotion
  • Oversize
  • Opening Day
  • Opening Day Oversize
  • Chrome
  • Chrome Refractors
  • SuperChrome
  • SuperChrome Refractors
  • Action Flats

Scans:

1999 Topps #100

1999 Topps Griffey best card

1999 Topps Griffey back

1998 Topps MVP Promotion #NNO

The only parallel in the 1999 Topps product was the MVP promotion.  Inserted only into hobby packs, were cards with a Topps MVP stamp.  If the player depicted won MVP of the week (as selected by Topps) in 1999, you could send that card in for a set of cards honoring each of the 25 winners.  The set paralleled the first 198 cards in series 1, and cards #243-444 in series 2.  Basically all of the regular cards but no subsets.  The backs of the cards have information on the promotion (no statistics).

As I mentioned, I’m not too optimistic that I’ll ever run down the ’99 MVP Promotion card of Griffey.  I hope to, but these are just really hard to find.  So I bought this card of Roberto Kelly a while ago to stand in as a semi-permanent placeholder.

1999 Topps Oversize #7

1999 Topps Griffey best card

1999 Topps Oversize Griffey back

Each hobby box or HTA jumbo box contained a 3-¼” x 4-½” jumbo card as a box topper.  There were 16 cards that are exact replicas of the player’s base cards, except for the size and the numbering.

1999 Topps Opening Day #58

1999 Topps Opening Day Griffey

1999 Topps Opening Day Griffey back

Opening Day was back for the 2nd time in 1999.  This 165 card set was retail only, and features the same photos from the base Topps set.  The border is silver instead of the gold on flagship Topps, and there is a foil Opening Day logo instead of the Topps logo.  Naturally, the back has a different number and it has a silver background unlike the gold in the regular Topps set.

1999 Topps Opening Day Oversize#3

1999 Topps Opening Day Griffey

1999 Topps Opening Day Oversize Griffey back

Just like the flagship Topps, Opening Day contained a jumbo box topper.  They were the same size – 3-¼” x 4-½” – but only had 3 players.  Naturally, Junior is one of them, along with Home Run champs McGwire and Sosa.  The only difference from this card and the base Opening Day is the size and the numbering.  I tracked this down recently as part of this parallel project.

1999 Topps Chrome #100

1999 Topps Chrome Griffey

1999 Topps Chrome Griffey back

Topps Chrome was back for the 4th year.  For the 2nd time it was a full reproduction of the regular Topps set, released in 2 series.  The front of the card reproduces the base set using Topps chromium technology and of course the logo is the Topps Chrome logo.  The back of the card is the same as the regular set except for the Topps Chrome logo and slightly different copyright wording.

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #100

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor Griffey

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor Griffey back

Inserted every 12 packs of Topps Chrome were refractors.  A plastic diffraction effect that gives refractors a colorful, reflective shine.  The word refractor is written just below the number on the back – otherwise the back is the same as the regular Chrome card.  Of all the cards I got specifically for this project – this one was the most expensive – I paid $30 for it.

1999 Topps SuperChrome #18

1999 Topps SuperChrome Griffey

1999 Topps SuperChrome Griffey back

1999 Topps SuperChrome Refractor #18

For the 2nd and last time, Topps came out with giant jumbo cards that were their own product called SuperChrome.  These cards came in 3-card packs that retailed for $4.99.  The front is the same as Topps Chrome except there’s a SuperChrome logo and the cards are 4-⅛” by 5-¾”.  The number on the back is different since it’s a smaller set, and it also has a SuperChrome logo.  There’s also a refractor version, which came 1 in 12 packs just like regular-sized ones, with refractor wording just below the card number.

YAY!  NOW I HAVE THIS CARD!

1999 Topps Action Flats #S1-8

1999 Topps Action Flats Griffey

1999 Topps Action Flats Griffey back

This was probably one I could have not counted as a parallel – it’s a totally different picture.  But since Griffey has one of these, I decided to include it.  The set has the exact same design as Topps, with an action logo on the front in foil and on the back in color.  Aside from the logo and the numbering – the back is exactly the same as the Topps back.

The “Rainbow”:

Like I said, if I see a Griffey someday I’ll try to get it, but I’m not holding my breath.

Any sets I didn’t get:  That’s all you could possibly get from 1999.

Other cards I would have liked to do:  Griffey is the best (in my opinion) card in the set.  And the only 3 players that have all of the cards above are the ones in the Opening Day jumbo set – Griffey, McGwire, Sosa.





Pearl Jam 1991 Topps Style – Wrigley Field

25 04 2017

1 month and 1 day since my last post.  This may be the new norm, though I hope to have a few posts this week.  4 for the 4th month?  Possible.

I meant to post this about 2 months ago, but when I bought the set on eBay it was one card short.  I honestly didn’t feel like calling out the seller for one card (though this is unlikely – I’m not entirely convinced I didn’t somehow throw away the package with a card still in it).  So I had to find the one card I still needed before I could call this “finito”.

I posted a while ago about a pack of cards that were handed out for Pearl Jam’s concert in Fenway Park.  I bought the whole set for Wrigley Field.  Unlike playing in Fenway, this one hits home for PJ – lead singer Eddie Vedder is a huge Cubs fan and became their associated celebrity fan along with Bill Murray over the past decade-plus.  I still remember when I lived in Wrigleyville in 2013, Pearl Jam had their first concert back there.  I didn’t get tickets (a number of friends did), but I listened to them from my porch.

Each band member has 10 cards total.  9 cards of them playing on a set, and one card in a Cubbie uniform.

There’s also a card for Rob Skinner (who I think is/was a manager for band).  Showing off the palm ball.

On the back of his card, it has the full picture of the puzzle you can put together using the backs of the band member’s cards.

Yeah, like I said, there’s a huge puzzle if you put the backs of the cards together.  It took me two nights to accomplish this.

Now I had issues in part because of my own stupidity, but also because it’s tough to put together a puzzle when all of the cards are the same shape and a few of them are exactly the same on the back (all black).  But I also left the 6 cards above on the scanner, so that made it more confusing.  They constitute the cards on the right side of the puzzle.

So on night 1, I got annoyed, put the 54 cards away, and started over the next night.  Not the best way to get back in to baseball card posting!

The second night, I did figure it out.  Here it is in all its glory.

There are also 6 stickers for each band member – so this “set” ends up taking up a 67 cards in my binders for this type of thing.

I think these stickers are the same across both the Wrigley and Fenway sets.