2012 & 1888 Goodwin Champions – Boxing, MMA & Wrestling

30 08 2012

You can draw an interesting line through the early history of boxing using the 1888 Goodwin Champions set and the one that 2011 Upper Deck Goodwin set.  In addition to the 5 guys from the original set (of whom, I used 4 to do my post), there were 4 guys I utilized from the 2011 set. Take a look here if you’re interested in reading about old school pugilism (bare knuckle boxing).  Here’s those 4 cards just for viewing sake.

That was last year; there aren’t really any old school boxing cards in this year’s set.  But there is one boxer.  He’s a former champion, and he’s pretty well-known – Iron Mike Tyson!

There are also two wrestlers in the 1888 Goodwin set – William Muldoon, who was the Greco-Roman wrestling champion in the early 1880’s.  He wrestled in a famous 7-hour match against Clarence Whistler, when neither wrestler could gain a fall.  He also trained boxer John Sullivan (pictured above), for his famous 1889 match against Jake Kilrain that went 75 rounds.  He was never defeated as a wrestler, and he also served as the first head of the NY State Athletic Commission, which regulates boxing in New York.

The other wrestler was Joe Acton – who was better known for what was called “Catch” wrestling.  Acton was regarded as the best Catch wrestler, though by 1888 he had lost his title to Evan Lewis, who actually unified the American Greco-Roman and Catch championships when he beat a protege of William Muldoon himself.

There’s one wrestler in the 2012 set – he’s of a completely different ilk, though.  This is probably my favorite card in this set.  I’m a very casual WWE fan, but I’ve always been a big fan of the Hulkster.  It would have been cool if they could have gotten Ultimate Warrior in the set while they were at it!

Today there’s a newer more popular form of unarmed combat that is beginning to take the place of boxing and wrestling – MMA.  And they have a few MMA stars in this set, too.  Anderson Silva is regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA history, and Randy Couture is one of the two guys who really popularized the sport.

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2012 & 1888 Goodwin Champions – track athletes

29 08 2012

Another sport that had different athletes in both the 2012 and original Goodwin Champions sets was track and field.  Both sets had a sprinter and an athlete from the “field” part of track and field.  Since the Olympics just ended recently, this seemed like a good post to do again this year.

The original Goodwin set had a high jumper by the name of William Byrd Page, a competitor for the University of Pennsylvania.  Page was the best high jumper in the world for a time – in his senior season he set the world record, becoming the first athlete to clear 6′ 4″.  This was done at a time when they didn’t have the pads to create the “soft landing”, and the modern jumping techniques like the Fosbury Flop had not yet been established.

The field athlete in the 2012 set got a silver medal in this year’s games.  It’s actually pretty amazing – Trey Hardee was the best in the world a year ago, but Ashton Eaton passed him up on the way to the decathlon world record in the US Trials in Oregon, then to Olympic Gold in London.  Hardee got second in both meets.  It’s the first time in a long time that the United States claimed the Gold and Silver medals in the decathlon since 1956.

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Lon Myers was featured in the 1888 set.  Myers was known as possibly the best sprinter / middle-distance runner from 19th century track and field.  At various times, he held world records in the 100, the 440 and 880 yard dashes.  This is an incredible width of talent that would be unthinkable today.  In the 1880 American Championships, he won all four races from 100 to 880 yards, an incredible display of versatility and durability.  He was the first man to run under 50 seconds in the 440.

Jeremy Wariner is an appropriate name here – he was the dominant force in the 400-meter dash for nearly 5 years.  He won gold in Athens, then got silver to fellow American LaShawn Merritt in Beijing in 2008.  He tore a hamstring this year, and didn’t compete in the Olympics. Wariner is the 3rd-fastest 400-meter runner in history – behind Butch Reynolds and World Record holder Michael Johnson.





2012 vs. 1888 Goodwin Champions – baseball players #2

28 08 2012

On Thursday I did a post looking at 5 baseball players from the 1888 set and some guys from the current set who had an interesting comparison.  Here’s the last 3 baseball players from the original set – all of whom are Hall of Famers.  Interestingly, all 3 of these guys were in both the 1888 & 2011 set, but not in the 2011 set.

King Kelly

King Kelly was the first baseball player (he’s card #1 in the 2011 set).  I’ve covered him before in some of my Gypsy Queen set reviews.  Kelly was still one of the better players in the game, but his very best years were already behind him by the 1888 season.  He was still one of the most popular players in the game, but had already been sold by Albert Spalding to the Boston Braves in an effort to purge the Chicago ball club of all the drinkers on the team.  Known for his chicanery on the diamond and his “lack of discipline” off it, he also is the subject of what is known as the first pop song, “Slide Kelly Slide”.  Kelly would have 2 more good years in the National League.  In Boston, he did pick up a second career as an actor, but his career and life began going downhill.  He died of pneumonia in 1894 one year after being relegated to the Minor Leagues.  Kelly was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.

I like the Joe Jackson card from this year’s set – and while Kelly was essentially kicked off of a couple of teams, Shoeless Joe was kicked out of the game for life.  As was another guy who you can find further down in this post…

Dan Brouthers

These three baseball players represented 75% of the 4 best players in the game in the 1880’s.  Next up was another Hall of Fame player, Dan Brouthers.  I also featured Brouthers in a Gypsy Queen review I did – he or Roger Connor were really the best argument for top player at the time this set came out.  In 1888, Brouthers played for the defending champion Detroit Wolverines, who had bested St. Louis, the class of the American Association.  Unfortunately, it would be St. Louis that lasted, as they would later move to the National League. Meanwhile, the Detroit club did not fare as well in 1888 and disbanded for financial reasons.  Brouthers actually joined Kelly in Boston in 1889 and solidified his status as the game’s best a year later; like Kelly, he was also elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

At the time the original Goodwin set came out, Dan Brouthers was the career home run leader in MLB history – with 65 at the end of the 1887 season and 74 when the 1888 season concluded.  The single-season record holder is not in the original set – but Ned Williamson of Chicago, who had hit a whopping 27 home runs in the 1884 season.  This was due to the tiny dimensions of Chicago’s Lake Shore Park – which was less than 200 feet down the lines.  The park was the White Stockings’ home park from 1878 until they moved to West Side Park (the area where they would their home games until the team moved to Wrigley Field in 1916).  But in every season through 1883, hitting the ball over the fence was counted as a double.  In 1884, Chicago manager Cap Anson (see below) changed the ground rules to count these balls as home runs.  Four players hit over 20 homers that year, smashing the previous record of 14.  Williamson, who had set the doubles record of 49 the year before when the old rules were in place, never reached double digits in any other season.

Cap Anson

Finally, the last of the three baseball players is probably the most famous.  The previously mentioned Cap Anson certainly had the longest career of any player in the 19th century; counting his tenure in the National Association, he played for 27 seasons, from 1871 to 1897.  Even in his final season, at the age of 45, he played in 114 games and hit .285.  This was only his third season out of those 27 where he hit under .300.  He was the first member of the 3,000 hit club, and depending on whether or not you count the National Association statistics, Anson retired with around 2,000 RBI (give or take) and around 1,900 runs scored (give or take).  He was a player-manager for Chicago for 20 of those 27 seasons, winning over 1200 games and 5 NL pennants – the Colts (now the Cubs) were baseball’s first dynasty.  Anson truly was baseball’s first immortal.

That said, he had one of the biggest impacts of any figure in keeping baseball segregated; he famously refused to take the field against Moses “Fleetwood” Walker on multiple occasions.  Walker was the last African-American to play in a major league until Jackie Robinson did so in 1947.  8 years before that, Anson was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

I wanted to include two players for this one.  In the history of Major League Baseball, there have been a total of 5 players who have held the career record for hits.  Three of them are accounted for here.

1871: Cal McVey 66.

1872-77: Ross Barnes – up to 694.

1878-79: McVey – up to 869.

1880-1922: Cap Anson – up to 3,435.

1923-1984: Ty Cobb – up to 4,191.

1985-now: Pete Rose – up to 4,256.

Cap Anson was the first player to reach the milestones of 1, 2, and 3 thousand hits.

Ross Barnes was the best player in the National Association, which was the precursor to the National League.  And for Chicago in 1876, he was the clear best player in the NL when it was founded, when he hit .429.  If you list the chronological progression of all-time career leaders, the first name for most statistics usually starts with  Ross Barnes.  After becoming ill in 1877, he was never the same, but I believe he should be a member of the Hall of Fame for his early contributions.

Pete Rose has the worst-looking card in the entire Goodwin 2012 set.





2012 vs. 1888 Goodwin Champions – baseball players #1

27 08 2012

OK – get ready for a bunch of Goodwin.  I’ve read a decent amount of bashing about this product, and I’ve got to say I fall in the camp of someone who does likes the product.  Is it perfect?  Heck, no.  The Military insert set is a reach, as is much of the product – that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  The idea of the hand-painted Goodwin Originals is very cool – I’ll get into those more later.  Some of the “paintings” for the base cards look pretty far off from the subject (the Pete Rose is a borderline abomination).  But some are very nicely done – and I don’t mind seeing guys out of their uniforms for one set a year.  In fact, it’s kind of neat to figure out where they are.  The design is really nice, the minis look nice, and it’s an interesting set to collect.

Last year, my first post about Goodwin Champions covered athletes that had cards in both the original 1888 Goodwin Champions set and the 2011 set released by Upper Deck.  There were 6 guys who fit the bill last year; 3 baseball players (King Kelly, Dan Brouthers, Cap Anson), 1 boxer (John L. Sullivan), 1 horse jockey (Isaac Murphy), and 1 Cowboy / Wild West Showman (Buffalo Bill Cody).

Unfortunately, I can’t do a similar post this year – there are no figures from the 1888 set who are also in the 2012 set.  There is a super-rare (#/10) insert set where Upper Deck commissioned hand painted artist renditions of the original cards – so every single card has a hand-painted “reprint” inserted into this product.  I wonder if that set had something to do with Upper Deck choosing not to put any of those 50 guys into this year’s set (though, I’m unsure exactly why it might).  Regardless, what I’ll do is move on to some other posts about the product – which is compare people from the same sport across the two years.  There were 8 baseball players in the 1888 set – here’s the first 5; I’ll cover the other 3 a couple of days from now.  I did this last year, so I’m using similar write-ups, though the current year card (and maybe the player) will be different.

Jack Glasscock

Jack Glasscock was the best defensive shortstop of the 1880’s.  During the 1888 season, he was in his second of 3 years with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the National League.  It’s crazy  to me that Indianapolis had a baseball team back in the day.  Glasscock followed the franchise through many of its changes.  He was with the franchise when it was the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association, which only existed in 1884.  When the Union Association folded, the Maroons moved to the National League.  It was tough to gain a foothold in St. Louis, though, because the American Association’s most successful franchise (the Browns) was already located in St. Louis.  In 1887, the club moved to Indy, but then folded after the 1889 season.

Glasscock was actually an underrated hitter, and should have received more Hall of Fame consideration than he’s gotten.  He led the NL in fielding percentage 7 times and assists 6 times.  These were both records until another St. Louis defensive wizard came along at shortstop 100 years later.  The wizard himself, Ozzie Smith, was included in the 2011 set – and as an SP card in the 2012 set.  This is obviously a picture from when he was much younger. It’s hard to tell, but I’m guessing this may have been from wonder if this is from his days at Cal Poly.

Tim Keefe

Tim Keefe of the New York Giants was the best pitcher in the game in the mid-1880’s and he remained one of the best for a number of years.

I’m going with the same guy I went with last year – the best analogy I could find for Keefe was Phillies and Cardinals great Steve Cartlon.  These two pitchers sit right next to each other on the career Wins list.  Carlton’s 329 wins places him 11th all-time, while Keefe’s 342 wins ranks him 10th (and 3rd in the 1880’s).  Both pitchers maintained dominance deep into their careers.  Keefe almost always found himself on pennant contenders, while Carlton is often thought of as having been a dominant pitcher on poor teams.  That said, both pitchers were on two teams that won World Championships.

I didn’t pull a base card of Cartlon, but I did get a mini – so that’s what I’m going with here!  I wonder who he’s on the phone with?

Bob Caruthers

Bob Caruthers was a good hitting pitcher who also played the field.  He started off with the St. Louis Browns in the American Association, and was an important part of 3 of their 4 consecutive American Association titles.  In 1885 and 1886, he became one of the team’s two primary pitchers, winning 40 games to lead the league the first year.  He got the nickname Parisian Bob for negotiating his contract from Paris in 1886.  That year, he began playing the outfield when he wasn’t pitching, and he actually became one of the better hitters in the league, leading St. Louis to the only win by an American Association team over an NL squad in the World’s Series.  He placed in the top 5 in batting, slugging and OBP in both 1886 and 1887, including leading the league in OBP and OPS in 1886.  But when St. Louis lost the World’s Series in 1887, owner Chris von der Ahe blamed Caruthers, and sold his contract to Brooklyn.  The team’s other pitcher/hitter/fielder, Dave Foutz, was also sold to Brooklyn.

Bob’s hitting suffered over the next few years, but he was still a great pitcher.  He again led the league in wins, yet again reaching 40 victories in 1889 and getting back to the World’s Series for his 4th time after leading Brooklyn to the American Association title.  The next year, Brooklyn defected to the National League, and Caruthers helped them to the NL pennant.  He was the third pitcher that year, and as the team primarily went with 2 pitchers, he only played the field in the World’s Series.  However, he and Foutz are the only 2 players to make it to 5 of the World’s Series.  They won 1, tied 2 and lost 2 of those attempts.  Caruthers finished his career with an incredible winning percentage and a record of 218-99.

I went with Jose Canseco last year, because he’s viewed as a malcontent and because he threw an inning in the Majors.  For this comparison, I went with Kid Gleason, who is most notable for being the manager of the 1919 team that threw the World Series – the “Black Sox”.  But what’s not well-known about Gleason – he was a good pitcher in the early 1890’s, winning 38 games in 1890 and 20+ for 4 straight years.  But when his pitching declined, he became a solid 2nd baseman, playing for the Baltimore Orioles who won the pennant but lost the Temple Cup in 1895.  He played the next decade for the New York Giants, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies before retiring to coach and manage.

Fred Dunlap

Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap is never going to be confused with a Hall of Famer, but he was an excellent second baseman for a number of years in the 1880’s.  He had one truly great season leading the St. Louis Maroons to the pennant in Union Association’s ony year of existence.  He led the league in batting, runs scored and home runs, and most certainly would have been the league’s MVP if they had such an award.  St. Louis moved to the National League the next year, and their performance is the best evidence that the decision to acknowledge the Union Association as a Major League is not a great one – they finished in last place in their first year in the senior circuit.  Dunlap never had nearly the year he’d had in 1884, but he was still a solid defender and the best player on a bad team.  Later in his career, he was a grizzled veteran on a World Champion Detroit ballclub.

Ryne Sandberg again seems the best choice, as he was last year.  He’s a second baseman who was always great defensively and at times had some great offensive seasons.  Unlike Dunlap, he’s certainly deserving of the Hall of Fame, and was inducted in 2005.

Ed Andrews

The 1888 and 2011 sets both had a baseball player who just didn’t seem to belong.  Ed Andrews was a lifetime .257 hitter who never played on a pennant winner.  He might be most famous just for the fact that he has a card in the Goodwin Champions set.  This was an easy choice in the 2011 set, too.  Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd fit that bill in 2011 – but there isn’t really a comparable guy in 2012.  So I’m just going to go with the Greg Maddux card because it just doesn’t look right to see him throwing a wiffle ball, and it really doesn’t look right for wiffle ball to be spelled “whiffle”.  But this is a legit picture from a celebrity golf invitational he did with Butch Harmon.





Barry Larkin day

26 08 2012

I don’t have a whole lot today – I’m coming back from a wedding in southern Indiana.  A soon-to-be move to Chicago dictated me flying in and out of Chicago to look at places, then renting a car to make the drive.  Driving from Southern Indiana to Midway airport with a hangover and 4 hours of sleep was admittedly not the most fun thing.  But I did get to see an old friend get married and meet his wife for the first time.  They live in Paris.  She’s from there – and her family and friends taught this single language American how to order a beer in French last night.  I seemed to have a good handle on it at 4 AM last night.  12 hours later – not so much.  It was tough to make the wedding, with a 3-week old kid at home, but my folks are up helping my wife with that.  Since my friend lives overseas, I rarely get a chance to see him anymore, so it was great to make it.

The timing also granted me the opportunity to watch the festivities on TV for Barry Larkin’s uniform retirement.  The main ceremony was held before yesterday’s game.  If I’d been home in Jersey this weekend, that wouldn’t have been an option.  I stayed at my parents’ house (which is in a Cincy suburb) Friday night and really was thinking about buying tickets to the game Saturday just to see the ceremony – then leaving after the first inning and driving up to the wedding.  Meeting my sister for lunch was in the opposite direction and took precedent, but I did appreciate getting to see it live on TV.  Larkin was never my absolute favorite Red – that was reserved for Eric Davis and Ken Griffey Jr. – but as a hometown hero, he’s always been right up there.

His speech was nice, and it was cool to see that a bunch of his former teammates came as well.  The Reds had an “11 days of Larkin” promotion – I actually wish I could have gone to the meet and greet Thursday more than anything.  It sounds like everything was really well done.  Larkin wanted this to be something very accessible to the fans – a way for them to enjoy it as much as him.  Barry talked about the pride he had in wanting to represent his hometown of Cincinnati and the Reds organization.  For someone born and raised in Cincinnati – that tugs at my heart a little bit!  I don’t live there any more and I don’t know if I ever will want to move back.  But I’m still very proud to be from there and will probably always think of it as “home”.  To hear the best player from your favorite team have that same kind of pride – well, it’s pretty cool.  This is particularly true after I’ve lived in the greater New York City area for 2+ years.  I don’t know how to say this in a nice way, but I’ve become fairly bitter about the whole Yankee fandom going on there.  I noticed this in Columbus for Ohio State fans, too – but that incredible level of success makes the fans spoiled.  There are a lot of great Yankee fans – I’ve met quite a few at games I’ve been to.  But there are an incredible amount of obnoxious fans who act as if it’s their birthright to make the postseason every year.  As a Reds fan, being mediocre for 15 years really teaches you to appreciate this window when the team is a contender again.

The Reds came through with a win, too, on Barry Larkin Day – so pushing the Cardinals back to a 7-game deficit was a pretty good thing.  They weren’t so lucky today, but avoiding a sweep was the biggest thing this weekend.  And you always want the home team to win on something like a team hall of fame or a retirement ceremony!  Congrats again to Barry Larkin!

A couple of cool tidbits about Barry:

  • He mentioned during the speech he was proud to be the first Cincinnati-born player to go into the Hall of Fame.  That kind of surprised me – I figured somebody would have made it.  Turns out he is in fact the first player born in Cincinnati, though Miller Huggins was inducted as a manager.  Huggins was born and raised in Cincinnati, and in fact played in undergrad at the University of Cincinnati (and later got a law degree).
  • Barry is one of 4 Hall of Famers to play their entire career for their hometown team (born and raised in that city).  He is the first non-Yankee.  The other three are Whitey Ford (born and raised in Queens), Phil Rizzuto (born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens) and Lou Gehrig (born and raised in Manhattan).  I’m not sure how many players have the cap of their hometown team on their HOF plaque – that would be an interesting thing to research.  Hal Newhouser (Detroit) and Willie Keeler (Brooklyn) are two others I know of who meet that criteria.





Saturday Suds: Baseball & Beer #7 – Spuds MacKenzie (Bud Light)

25 08 2012

For my next “Saturday Suds” I’m going with a different look at what I’d guess is the most common beer in American.  Or at least the most common light beer in America.  Today is a special day in Cincinnati – it’s Barry Larkin Day at Great American Ballpark!  Much like the Hall of Fame induction – I will be tantalizingly close to this event, but unable to attend.  I live 3 hours from Cooperstown – and couldn’t make the ceremony a few weeks ago due to the pending birth of our son, Brayden Larkin Stephen.  Just kidding on the middle name – that was in play, though – if he had been born on the induction date!  Tonight during game time, I’m actually back in the Cincinnati area, though I’ll be attending a wedding for a buddy from high school.  As I drive to Brookville, Indiana, though, I am excited to listen to 700 WLW to hear a little bit about Barry’s ceremony just before my buddy’s wedding ceremony!

So while I can’t think of any association with Barry Larkin and beer – I can think of an association with a well-known former teammate of his!  Chris Sabo played 3rd base with Larkin for the 1983 Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverines (who made the semifinals of the CWS) and for the 1990 World Series Champion Reds.  In fact, 3 of the 4 infield spots were the same for those two teams – as Hal Morris was manning first base for U of M and the Redlegs!

Anyways, when Sabo busted out a surprise Rookie of the Year campaign in 1988, he was pretty much the most popular dude in Cincinnati.  Kids wanted to wear sport goggles just to be like him.  Because of the glasses and his personality, manager Pete Rose gave him the nickname Spuds MacKenzie – after the party dog from the Bud Light commercials.

Brewery:  Anheuser Busch Companies, Inc. in St, Louis, Mo (plus ~30 other breweries worldwide)

Currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, NV (Belgium).

Beer:  Bud Light

Description:  Developed in 1982, originally as Budweiser Light.  According to the company sight, it’s “Light-bodied brew with a fresh, clean and subtle hop aroma, delicate malt sweetness and crisp finish for ultimate refreshment.”  Now, I’ve got nothing against Bud Light.  It does taste fairly refreshing.  On a warm summer day, a cold Bud Light goes down easy.  But there’s a reason for that.  You’ve probably heard of Natural Light, a cheaper Anheuser Busch product.  Well, in college, I worked at a bar.  And when the kegs of Bud Light my boss had ordered ran out…  we were told to fill the Bud Light tank up with the far more abundant (and $10 cheaper) Natty Light kegs.  And… no one ever knew the difference!

Point being, Bud Light is watered down as all get out.  Like Miller Lite, Coors Light and other light beers – it’s drinkable but doesn’t have much taste.  I think it has even less taste than the other two – and it falls right in the middle for me.  I like the taste of Miller Lite better, I don’t like the taste of Coors Light at all.

Medium:  Anything you can think of.  From a keg, in a can, in a bottle.

How it’s related to baseball: Many ways, but for the purpose of this, I already noted it.  Chris Sabo’s nickname is Spuds.  It’s true – Wikipedia and Baseball-Reference confirm it!

Congrats again to Barry Larkin!!!!





Swapping cards in the Clubhouse

23 08 2012

I recently completed a trade with Mark from This Way to the Clubhouse.  Trade #32 in 2012!  I sent Mark some base cards of some current sets he was collecting (Heritage, Archives), and a bunch of Diamond Cognac parallels from last year’s set – which is a long-term collection goal he’s got if any of you have some “liquor-fractors” to send his way!  Mark sent me some base Topps cards – getting me closer toward the ’92-’97 sets:

He also sent me quite a few inserts from sets over the past three years.  All of it is much appreciated!  Between these and the card show I went to last weekend – I’ve put some dents into these pesky inserts :).  Thanks again for the trade, Mark!