Pinstripe Passion show

31 01 2011

This weekend I went to the Pinstripe Passion show in Secaucus, NJ. I got four autographs at this show – Lou Piniella, Wade Boggs, Yogi Berra and Don Larsen. I’ll discuss below in a little more detail. One thing about moving to the Northeast, and in the NJ/NYC area in particular, there seem to be many more autograph shows than what was in Ohio. Every now and then you had one in Cincinnati or Cleveland, particularly something for the Reds, which was cool. But there are way more here. That said, aside from getting to meet the 4 players and get their autos, this show wasn’t particularly well run. More on that below, I’d rather start with the 4 guys.

Saturday I got Lou Piniella’s autograph on a 1990 World Series pennant I have. This was to me the highlight of the four because it’s on an item that I really care about. There was an event in Cincinnati a few years ago in honor of the 1990 Reds, and I got my pennant signed by everyone who was there – Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Tom Browning, Billy Hatcher, Ron Oester, Joe Oliver and Mariano Duncan (who was also at the Pinstripe Passion event this weekend). I also got Joe Nuxhall to sign it, because he called the games with Marty on WLW that year. I still had a lot of 90 Reds missing – manager Piniella, Paul O’Neill Jose Rijo and Chris Sabo stick out most notably, but there are quite a few more – all 3 Nasty Boys (from what I hear, Randy Myers will be next to impossible), Hal Morris, Todd Benzinger and Danny Jackson. But, either way, I got one of those knocked off this weekend, and I think I can get Paul O’Neill sometime in the future since I live in the NY area. “Sweet Lou” was very nice, and he said it was cool to see a Reds fan in that area.

Wade Boggs signed a baseball because they had a reduced price and a free inscription for his auto, which I wanted to get “3,010 Hits”. I sort of have a collection of 500 HR and 3,000 Hit guys going. Unfortunately, due to the hurriedness of the show, I completely forgot to ask for the inscription. Not Wade’s fault – he was very friendly and I have no complaints toward him. I just wish the organizers didn’t treat the paying customers like herded cattle – scratch that, I don’t even mind being herded cattle, just do better organizing the herd!

On Sunday, I got autos of Don Larsen and Yogi Berra on the ball. Larsen signed his name on the sweet spot with a perfect game inscription, and Yogi signed his name in the area above that. Both were friendly and smiled and said “thank you” in response to my “thank you”. I don’t have quite as much to say to them as I could to someone like Lou, since I never saw them play and they don’t have an association with my favorite team, but it was cool to meet them and get this item all the same. Yogi was upstairs in a different room, and I heard rumors that he may not sign much, if at all, after this event. He’s had some health issues the past few years. Anyways, it actually worked better having him in his own room – it didn’t seem like the chaos in the rest of the show. It felt similar to when I got Willie Mays autograph in Cooperstown a couple of years ago – you knew you were getting something autographed by an all-time great.

So all 4 guys were very friendly. Overall, though, as far as the show goes, I was a little disappointed in what was there. It was basically an autograph signing event with a bunch of tables with other autographed items. There were hardly any cards there, just a few tables, and I didn’t find any baseball card items past the point I’m at in my project (1986). Not a big deal; I was going to get the autographs. But I was hoping that maybe I could pick up some junk wax era Topps to avoid ordering them later and paying the shipping. However, the autograph part wasn’t that great, either. This had nothing to do with the players – they were all very friendly. But it just seemed very disorganized. The autograph area was in the back, with the players lined up on tables against the wall. There was one guy calling out numbers, and he was standing in the lone entrance to the autograph area. So he’d call “numbers 1-70 for Moose Skowron and #’s 1-35 for Rick Cerone. There were one or two other guys as helping him organize. The problem was, everyone would crowd around that one entrance, and it just made for a bit of chaos. I got the feeling that they weren’t sticking completely to the numbers; I saw a couple times where somebody clearly had a later ticket and they just let that person pass because they were causing more clutter. I’m not an event organizer, but there’s a better system to this and it would start with more space between the auto area and the dealer area, and keeping the area where people whose tickets aren’t up yet further away from the auto area.





Trade with reader Rob

29 01 2011

I recently completed a trade with Rob, who contacted me via comments on this blog. So, yes, I have some readers out there (I think)!

Anyways, Rob sent me a very good chunk of 1982, 1983, and 1984 Topps, and a few 1986 cards to boot. I’m getting close to completing that ’86 set – not much more to go! In return, I sent Rob some similar stuff on Monday – so Rob – your cards should be arriving shortly. I’ve now made trades with 8 different collectors from 8 different states! The blog is paying dividends for this project – an opportunity to get closer to completing my sets and send some of my doubles to a better home. See below for some scans of the highlights:

Thanks Rob!





Madison Square Garden – Beating LeTraitor

28 01 2011

I originally hail from Ohio, and most recently lived in Columbus for 7 years. I’m originally from Cincinnati, and as I’m a Bengals and Reds fan, I generally dislike teams from Cleveland, particularly the Browns (“Mistake by the Lake”) and also the Indians. But I never really had a basketball team, so when the Cavs won the NBA lottery and drafted LeBron James, I tended to root for the basketball team.

When LeBron left Cleveland last year, it felt sort of like he kind of shunned Ohio as well. Cleveland much more than the rest of the state, but it’s easy not to root for the guy right now. I think the world has overreacted to this – but part of that is that he was on such a high pedestal. I think fans (at least those outside of Cleveland) are currently confusing disappointment with dislike for LeBron – for 2 reasons.

  • My generation revered Michael Jordan, but unlike Kobe, LeBron was the first guy I actually hoped could equal Jordan. I rooted for him to be the best ever. I think many felt this way as well, regardless of where you’re from. An average sports fan in St. Louis (or insert any city without an NBA team) probably felt the same way. But when he joined the Heat, he was joining forces with another top-5 player, and another max contract free agent. Add to it that he did this to the team Wade was drafted to and had already won a Finals MVP for en route tot a title. It just felt, well, un-Jordan like, as if he was now Robin to D-Wade’s Batman. It felt like “I can’t beat them, join them”. But this is disappointment not dislike.
  • He shouldn’t have done “The Decision”. If I was going to leave my company for another job, I’d let them know professionally, not on a nationally televised 1-hour melodrama. It just made the Cavaliers and Cleveland fans look bad. It was a mistake that LeBron has sort of acknowledged, and, again, most fans are likely disappointed as opposed to hating LeBron.
I definitely can’t hate someone for making a career move from Ohio to a bigger city – I just did the same myself. But I won’t root for the guy, and we’ve kind of adopted the Knicks after moving here. Last night, my wife and I went to Madison Square Garden for the first time. It was cool to see what’s a pretty historic arena. It’s not historic like old Yankee Stadium was or Fenway is, but you could tell it had a middle-aged character about it. And when the Knicks came back to grab a lead in the 4th quarter last night – the place was rocking! It was a great game for the Knicks, and a great comeback win. Amare Stoudemire kept them in it early, and Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields pulled them through in the 4th quarter. This is a good Knicks team that will finally make the playoffs and could at least compete for a first-round series win.
Amare guarding the Boy Wonder
Spike Lee watching Danilo guard Robin

Danilo taking it to the Heat

Magic Johnson was sitting court side – that’s him in the Light Blue sweater. Two seats to the left of him is Tracy Morgan. Seems like there are quite a few celebs in the Garden.
By the way, my wife pointed this out to me last night. The Knicks and Rangers home venue is called “Madison Square Garden”. But it is not on Madison Avenue, it is not a square, and it has no vegetation on site. Also – Carrie Underwood, who was in attendance and shown on the big screen, is married to a hockey player – most likely from the Rangers. The things you learn when you bring your significant other to a sporting event.




1986 Season – statistics

26 01 2011

All-Star Game: AL over NL, 3-2 at the Astrodome in Houston, TX     (Roger Clemens, MVP)

Home Run Derby: Wally Joyner / Darryl Strawberry, 4     (NL over AL, 8-7)

ALCS: Boston Red Sox over California Angels, 4-3

NLCS: New York Mets over Houston Astros, 4-2

World Series: Mets over Red Sox, 4-3     (Ray Knight, MVP)

**********

MVP: AL – Roger Clemens, SP, Boston Red Sox (24-4/2.48/238)

NL – Mike Schmidt, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (.290/37/119, .547 SLG)

Cy Young: AL – Clemens, SP, Boston

NL – Mike Scott, SP, Houston Astros (18-10/2.33/306, 275.1 IP, 5 SHO)

RoY: AL – Jose Canseco, OF, Oakland A’s (.240/33/117)

NL – Todd Worrell, RP, St. Louis Cardinals (9-10/2.08/73, 36 SV)

**********

MLB Amateur Draft:

Jeff King, SS, PIT (1st overall pick)

Matt Williams, 3B, SFG (1st #3) – 5x All-Star, 4x Gold Glove, 40 HR, 378 career HR

Kevin Brown, P, TEX (1st #4) – 6x All-Star, 1997 No-hitter, 200+ wins, 2000+ career K’s

Gary Sheffield, OF, MIL (1st #6) – 500-HR club, 1600+ career R, 1600+ career RBI, 2600+ H, 1992 NL Comeback POY, 9x All-Star

Roberto Hernandez, P, CAL (1st #16) – 300+ career saves, 2x All-Star

Bo Jackson, SS, CAL (4th #105) – MLB All-Star and NFL pro-bowler, 1993 Comeback PoY

Joe Girardi, C, CHC (5th #119) – 3x WS Champ, 1x All-Star, Manager of 2009 WS Champion Yankees

Pat Hentgen, P, TOR (5th #133) – 1995 AL Cy Young, 1x All-Star

Tom Gordon, P, KCR (6th #157) – 3x All-Star, 890 career G, 100+ wins / 100+ SV

Rod Beck, P, OAK (13th #327) – 3x All-Star, 51 SV in 1998

**********

Hall of Fame: Willie McCovey, 1B, San Francisco Giants (1st ballot)

Ernie Lombardi, C, Cincinnati Reds (VC)

Bobby Doerr, 2B, Boston Red Sox (VC)

**********

Batting Leaders:

Avg. (AL) Wade Boggs BOS .357, (NL) Tim Raines MON .334

HR (AL) Jesse Barfield TOR 40, (NL) Schmidt PHI 37

RBI (AL) Joe Carter CLE 121, (NL) Schmidt PHI 119

R (AL) Rickey Henderson NYY 130, (NL) Von Hayes PHI 118

SB (AL) Henderson NYY 87, (NL) Vince Coleman STL 107

H (AL) Don Mattingly NYY 238, (NL) Tony Gwynn SDP 211

Pitching Leaders:

W (AL) Clemens BOS 24, (NL) Valenzuela LAD 21

K (AL) Mark Langston SEA 245, (NL) Scott HOU 306

ERA (AL) Clemens BOS 2.48, (NL) Scott HOU 2.22

SV (AL) Dave Righetti NYY 46  – MLB Record, (NL) Todd Worrell STL 36

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1986 Cincinnati Reds season

24 01 2011

The year started off with some good pub for the Reds, as former MVP catcher Ernie Lombardi was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee. At the time, Lombardi was only the 4th Reds Hall-of-Famer (3rd player) after Edd Roush, Eppa Rixey, and manager Bill McKechnie.

On the diamond, the Reds built on their improvement under Manager Pete Rose from the year before, winning 86 games and again finishing 2nd in the NL West (this time to the Houston Astros). They had a combination of hitting depth and excellent relievers. Dave Parker and closer John Franco were the team’s All-Star representatives. Parker smashed 31 homers with 116 RBI, while Franco saved 29 games in leading the National League’s best bullpen.

Two late 1985 acquisitions turned out well for the Reds. Catcher Bo Diaz (.272) scored and knocked in over 50 runs while providing a stable presence behind of the plate. Third Baseman Buddy Bell had returned to his father’s team through a trade with the Rangers, and was a third offensive standout (along with Parker and Eric Davis) for the Reds, hitting .275 with 20 homers, 75 RBI and 89 runs.

Despite all these offensive contributions, Eric Davis was undoubtedly the team’s best player. Davis hammered 27 home runs and stole 80 bases. As I mentioned in my last post, no player had ever hit 25+ homers and stole 80+ bases, and to date Davis and Rickey Henderson are the only 2 players who have ever done this.

Rose’s historic career came to an end in 1986. He went 3-for-4 against San Francisco on August 14th, the last of the 4,256 hits of his career. His final base knock was a single off Greg Minton. His final at bat was a pinch-hit strikeout 3 days later against Goose Gossage.

Team MVP: Eric Davis (.277/27/71, 80 SB)

 

Best Pitcher: John Franco (6-6/2.94/84, 29 SV)

 

Award Winners:

Dave Parker, Silver Slugger

All-Stars:

Parker

Franco





1986 baseball season in review

23 01 2011

I was 6 years old in 1986, so I still don’t have much recollection of this baseball season. I remember the late 80’s being a lot of 2nd places for my hometown Reds. Looking it up – I was right – the reds finished in 2nd every single full season Pete Rose managed (1985-1988). This was the year Eric Davis started becoming a star; Davis was one of many young “future stars” at the time.

Highlights and Events:

The offseason leading up to the 1986 season was relatively negative for baseball’s image. The fallout from the 1985 Pittsburgh drug trials lingered into the 1986 season; Commissioner Ueberroth suspended 11 players for the season, though the suspensions were “probated” if the players met certain stipulations. The offseason seemed quiet, and only 4 free agents moved teams. In February, MLBPA president Don Fehr filed a grievance against the owners that they had violated the “anti-collusion” stipulation of their collective bargaining agreement.

The story of the season was another young pitcher following Dwight Gooden’s historic 1985 season. Roger Clemens matched Gooden’s 24-4 record and missed the AL pitching triple crown by 7 strikeouts. Unlike Gooden, Clemens would win the MVP award on top of his Cy Young hardware. Clemens had the most incredible starts to a season ever seen by a pitcher in the modern era. On April 29th, Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners, breaking the major league record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game, previously held by 5 pitchers (including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Steve Cartlon). Like Gooden, Clemens also won 14 games in a row – though Clemens did it to start the season! “The Rocket” went undefeated in the first three months of the season – finally losing a game in his first start of July. He kept up his fast start in the All-Star game – as the AL starter, he pitched 3 perfect innings to take the win and pace the AL to a 3-2 victory – coincidentally beating Doc Gooden. It was only the AL’s 2nd win in the past 15 games, and it wasn’t the only time Clemens and Gooden would face off this season.

The Red Sox posted the best AL record, but the New York Mets were by far the best team in baseball in the regular season. The Mets had a deep team mixed with veterans like Gary Carter (.255/24/105), Ray Knight (.298/11/76), and Keith Hernandez (.310/13/83)  and young stars like Darryl Strawberry (.259/27/93), Len Dykstra (.295/31 SB/77 R), Wally Backman (.320) and even a young Kevin Mitchell. Along with the deep hitting, the Mets had even deeper pitching. Four pitchers (Doc Gooden, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, Sid Fernandez) won 15+ games and all but Fernandez posted an ERA below 3.00. Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco split the bullpen duties with 22 and 21 saves respectively (McDowell won 14 games in relief). The Mets would ride these performances to 108 wins and outpaced the Phillies by 21.5 games, even though Philadelphia’s Mike Schmidt won league MVP honors for the 3rd time with NL-best 37 HR and 119 RBI.

Mike Scott went 18-10 with a ML-best 2.22 ERA and 306 K’s, taking home the AL Cy Young. Scott threw a no-hitter on September 25th to clinch the NL West crown for the Astros. Houston did it with pitching – Scott, Bob Knepper, Nolan Ryan and Jim DeShaies combined for a 59-35 and a 2.90 ERA.

A number of young hitters made news in 1986. Eric Davis hammered 27 home runs and stole 80 bases. Before this season, no player had hit 25+ homers and stole 80 bases. Though Davis was not the only player to accomplish this feat; Rickey Henderson hit 28 homers and stole 87 bases for the Yankees. To this day, these are the only 2 players to accomplish this feat in the history of baseball. Davis didn’t lead the league in steals, though. That honor went to Vince Coleman, who swiped 107 bags and became the second player (after Henderson from 1982-1983) to steal 100 bases two years in a row. Coleman’s achievement is notable in that he did it to start his career.

Barry Bonds, already a known name because of his all-star father and his standout play for Arizona St, hit the first home run of his career that would eventually see him pass Hank Aaron as the all-time Home Run King. Bonds led all NL rookies with 16 homers, 48 RBI and 36 SB, but finished 6th in the RoY voting due to his .223 Batting Average.

That display of power was outdone by an American League rookie. The A’s had begun the nucleus for their late 80’s dynasty, and Jose Canseco bashed 33 home runs while driving in 117. He took home AL Rookie of the Year honors over Wally Joyner of California, who hit 22 dingers and knocked in 100.

Another former collegiate star made headlines in the summer of 1986. Bo Jackson, the Heisman Trophy running back out of Auburn, was selected with the 1st overall pick of that year’s NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But when the franchise demanded he choose between baseball and football, he signed a contract with the MLB team that had drafted him, the Kansas City Royals. A year later, the Raiders drafted Bo in the 7th round. Al Davis was willing to pay him like 1st rounder and let him finish the baseball season before reporting. Thus “Bo Knows” became, along with “Prime Time”, one of the two most recognizable two-star athletes.

On July 6th, the Braves’ Bob Horner became the 11th player to hit 4 home runs in one game.  Horner famously quipped “I had a good week today” after the performance.

Though the American League took the All-Star game, the National League took home the prize in the 2nd Home Run Derby, out-slugging the junior circuit 8-7. Strawberry and Joyner tied for the individual lead with 4 each.

As the Reds battled to another 2nd place finish, Pete Rose’s historic career came to an end in 1986. On August 14th, Rose went 3-for-4, his last hit a single off Greg Minton. This would prove to be the 4,256th and last hit of his career – Rose’s final at bat was a strikeout 3 days later against Goose Gossage.

On the 2nd to last game of the season, Greg Gagne hit two inside-the-park home runs in the Metrodome to help Bert Blyleven to a 7-3 complete game victory. The last time a player had two inside-the-parkers in a game, Blyleven was the one giving them up to Dick Allen in the Metrodome’s predecessor – old Metropolitan Stadium.

More milestones reached in 1986 included:

  • On April 25th, Reggie Jackson passed Jimmie Foxx with his 535th home run to take 7th place on the all-time home run list. 2 dingers later, on May 14th, he passed Mickey Mantle for 6th place all-time. He would end his career there a year later, with 563 career home runs.
  • In June, Don Sutton, pitched a 1-run complete game to earn his 300th career win over the first place Texas Rangers. Sutton was now pitching for the California Angels, just miles from where his major league career had started with the LA Dodgers.
  • On August 1st, Bert Blyleven K’d Mike Davis of the Oakland A’s for his 3,000th career strikeout.
  • On August 5th, Steve Carlton struck out Eric Davis, following Ryan as the 2nd player to record 4,000 career K’s.
  • Don Baylor established a new AL mark by getting hit by a pitch 35 times in 1986; this mark is still 2nd all-time behind Ron Hunt’s modern record of 50 (1971).
  • Fernando Valenzuela became the first Mexican-born pitcher to win 20 games, going 21-11 and finishing 2nd behind Scott for the NL Cy Young voting.

Tim Raines and Wade Boggs were catching up with Rickey Henderson and Mike Schmidt as the best players in baseball; I’d give Raines the nod over the other 3; he won the NL batting title, OBP title, slugged an excellent .476 and stole 70 bases (only caught 9 times). Raines only continued his incredible 6-to-7 year stretch the next year, though Boggs was up there as the best in baseball as well.

Dwight Gooden was still the best pitcher in baseball; his 1986 season was not comparable to his historic campaign the year before, but he still was 17-6 with an ERA under 3.

Read on for the playoff summary…

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1986 Topps Traded

21 01 2011

Topps again issued a 132-card “Traded” set in 1986 in the same fashion as previous years; cards were numbered in alphabetical order, separately from the base set with a “T” suffix as #1-132. The set again contains XRC’s of players who didn’t have a card in the base set, players who signed with or were traded to new teams, and new managers. The design was the same as the base set, and the cards were again printed in Ireland on white cardstock.

Topps only issued the set in factory form this year; in 1985 Topps ran a test issue of releasing the Traded cards in wax packs as well as the factory set. Apparently, this test didn’t convince Topps to keep up with this idea.

Dealers who ordered cases of the Topps Traded set also received a miniature Bronze Card – though this time the bronze card was not a replica of a current year base card. Instead, dealers received a bronze replica of the iconic 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps card. For the 3rd year, Topps also issued a Tiffany set that had a glossy picture on the front.

Ken Griffey is the lone Big Red Machiner in this set; in June of 1986, he was traded from the Yankees to the Braves for Claudell Washington. As a result, he got this airbrushed card in the 86 Topps Traded set.

There are 2 members of the 1990 Reds World Champion team in the set. Billy Hatcher was traded by the Cubs to the Astros after the 1985 season, and Lou Piniella was hired as Yankees manager, replacing Billy Martin. Piniella would be promoted to general manager before the 1988 season, and Martin would in turn replace Piniella. BUT!!! Then Martin would again be fired less than halfway through the 1988 season, and Piniella would then replace Martin for the remainder of that season. It’s all quite confusing.

There are three Hall of Famers in the set:

  • Tom Seaver traded his White Sox for some Red ones in June when Chicago traded him to Boston for Steve Lyons. Because of this, he got one of the worst airbrushed jobs I’ve ever seen. This one has to take the cake.
  • 47-year old Phil Niekro signed as a free agent with the Indians in April
  • After a winning record but a 3rd place finish, Dick Williams was let go by the Padres just before the 1986 season commenced. He was hired by the Mariners to manage their ballclub after a Chuck Cottier was fired 28 games in.

The MLB owners were found to be colluding during the 85/86 offseason, so there aren’t a lot of big name veterans who left via free agency. Niekro may have been the biggest free agent name to switch teams, and though he’d won 16 games the year before, he left because the Yankees didn’t want to re-sign him. Most of the veterans in this set switched teams via trades, and unlike the year before, this set has quite a few high-profile Rookie Cards. 

The biggest is the all-time Home Roid King, Barry Bonds – Bonds wasn’t in any 86 base sets, but was included in all 3 manufacturers Update sets. Also joining Bonds was his “Killer B” compatriot, Bobby Bonilla, who was still in the White Sox minor league organization. At the time this set was released and through the early 90’s, Jose Canseco’s card was even more recognizable than the Bonds card. That’s 2 of the 4 members of the 40-40 club (the other 2 were traded for each other at one point – can you name them?). Canseco bashed over 30 homers and was the Rookie of the Year in 1986, and his cards were the hottest in the hobby. Now it can be had for a few bucks, though it’s still the 2nd most valuable card in this set.

On top of that, you had future Giants great Will “the Thrill” Clark, who probably should have been the 1989 NL MVP, and at one point was arguably the best player in baseball. And “The Big Cat”, who hit 399 career homers, and along with Bonds is one of the few hitters in baseball history who has won all 3 jewels of the triple crown without ever winning the triple crown (so is one of those mystery 40-40 men, and so is Babe Ruth). And finally, the Heisman Trophy winning, NFL first overall draft pick. On top of these 6, there’s still a few more good RC’s in this set:

Bonds and Bonilla’s soon-to-be manager. Will Clark’s future teammate – who beat him out for that 1989 MVP award. And future Phillies All-Star / ESPN analyst John “I’m not an athlete” Kruk. All in all, this is a very solid set!