Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #44 – Ommegang Scythe & Sickle

30 11 2013

Like I did last winter, I’m going to do some beer posts of offerings from the Ommegang Brewery.  I did quite a few last winter, and the first new one is  called Scythe and Sickle.


DSC00654Brewery:  Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown, NY

(Now owned by the Duvel Belgian Brewery, though still operated out of Cooperstown)

Beer:  Ommegang Scythe and Sickle

Description:  Per the website – “Scythe and Sickle is Ommegang’s foray into honoring the harvest season. Using barley, oats, wheat, and rye, we’ve brought the mood of fall to life with vibrant and flavorful passion.

Farming is about precision, timing and care. At Ommegang we place the same emphasis a farmer has for his crops into the creation of our beers. Scythe and Sickle is a testament to the craft and care of farming, from which our farmstead-brewed beers benefit greatly.

Brewed with balance in mind, Scythe & Sickle reveals a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with light toastiness and gentle sweetness. Bright amber in color from the mixed malts, the beer is balanced with delicate hopping to counter rather than overpower the malt profile.”

This doesn’t taste quite like Oktoberfest or anything – which is what I think of as a fall beer.  Their description is pretty good – it’s a good medium colored beer with some hops but still a very smooth taste.

Medium:  I got a 4-pack of 12 ounce bottles.

How it’s related to baseball:  The beer and the brewery itself aren’t really related at all.  The Ommegang Brewery is a Belgian-style brewery that has been around for 25 years.  But the bottom line?  It’s in Cooperstown – home of the baseball Hall of Fame.  I went to Cooperstown with my dad last year, and we didn’t stop here, but I’d had a couple of these beers when I went to Cooperstown for Rickey Henderson’s induction.  The brewing tradition in Cooperstown actually goes back much further than the baseball tradition does – so I’ve been featuring these beers whenever I try one!


A Thanksgiving Day white whale – Goodwin Champions, Yale Football and Harry Beecher

28 11 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

2012 Goodwin Originals Art Yale Beecher

I recently found a card that I’ve been searching for on eBay for a long time.  If you follow my blog, you know that aside from the Topps project that occupies most of the posts on this blog, I also have an affinity for retro sets.  And I like the Goodwin Champions product that Upper Deck puts out each year.  I may be in the minority on that.  But I particularly like the super-rare set they came out with in 2012, which were hand-painted reproductions of the original 1888 Goodwin Champions cards.  There are only 10 of each card made.  If I had more means and fewer other card collecting aspirations, I’d have loved to try to put that full set together.  As it is, I am going for the 5 boxing cards, the card of Buffalo Bill, and the card I just got this week in the mail – the remake of the first ever football card.  Here’s a picture of the original:


The 1888 Goodwin Champions contained the first football card, that of Yale captain Harry Beecher.  In 2011 I looked into this card a little bit at first, then found some things worth digging further on.  First, I typed in “Yale” and “Beecher” in a couple of search engines and came up with Edward Beecher, who graduated from Yale in 1822 and was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe – the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Harriet, Edward and their many other siblings were born much earlier, but it seemed likely that the Beecher on this card who played football at Yale was related to the Beecher family of the pre-Civil War era who haled from Connecticut. I found a number of different websites, but the one with the best summary of what I found is linked here.  Apparently Beecher Stowe was this Beecher’s great Aunt, as Henry Beecher’s Grandfather was her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, who was probably the second most famous priest from that era.

I found an even better write-up about Harry Beecher (the football player) himself here.  He still holds the Yale record for the most career touchdowns (66) – and he once scored 11 TDs in one game.

I’ve been on the lookout for the Goodwin painted card for well over a year now.  It came up for bid when the product first came out and sold for over $300.  That was too rich for my blood at the time, though I may have been willing to go that high this time since I haven’t spent nearly as much on cards this year.  I got if for less than half of that (but still over $100) when this card came up on eBay two weeks ago.  Got it in the mail this week – and I’m happy I got such a great card!  Here’s the back – it’s signed by the artist and numbered 7 out of 10.

2012 Goodwin Originals Art Yale Beecher_0001

1999 Topps ’90 Reds Cards

26 11 2013

The number of players from the 1990 World Series team held constant at 5 in the 1999 Topps set.

There was one player gone after having a card in the 1998 set:

  • Joe Oliver played for both the Tigers and Mariners in 1998, playing in 79 games.  He played through the 2001 season, and would be back with his last Topps card in 2001.

There was 1 player back after not having a card in the 1998 set:

  • Eric Davis was not in the 1998 Topps – he had played for Baltimore in 1997, but was diagnosed with colon cancer and only played about 40 games.  He was back in the base set in 1999, after an excellent campaign in the 1998 season with Baltimore.

There were no subset cards in the base set.  Each player has an MVP promotion parallel cards.  Paul O’Neill does have a card in the MVP redemption set for being named player of the week in mid-September.

1999 – Jeff Reed, Hal Morris, Barry Larkin, Paul O’Neill, Eric Davis

1999 Topps 90 Reds

1999 Topps Box Toppers and Send-In

24 11 2013

Oversize – 16 cards (1 per hobby or HTA box)

In 1999, Topps included Box-toppers in the flagship product for the first time.  These weren’t anything too special – just larger reprints of 16 cards (8 per series) from the base set.  The only thing different about the cards was the size and the numbering on the back – as they were numbered 1 to 16 instead of the same number as before.

1999 Topps series 2 box Oversize Nomar

I’m trying to decide if I want to collect these.  I’m leaning toward no, since they are really just a partial parallel of the base set.  From my 2 boxes, I got the Nomar pictured above and

MVP Redemption – 25 cards (send-in)

Topps had a promotion tied in to a parallel from this year. Inserted at a very limited rate into hobby packs were cards with a Topps MVP stamp on the front.  If the player depicted won MVP of the week in 1999, you could send that card in for a set of cards honoring each of the 25 winners.  There were only 100 of each of the parallel cards made, so that means there were at most 2,500 of the MVP redemption sets (and probably far fewer than that since the redemption expired a year or so).  I haven’t been able to pick one up yet.  Here’s a picture of a factory-sealed set from an eBay auction a while back.

1999 Topps MVP set

1999 Topps Autographs

23 11 2013

In 1999, Topps inserted autographs directly into packs of their base product for the second time ever – but after a year in between as 1997 had been the previous time.  This was also the first time Topps ever inserted autographs of current players.

Nolan Ryan Reprint Autographs – (27 cards, 1:4,250 series 1 / 1:5,007 series)

1999 Topps Ryan reprint certified auto

In series 1, 14 of the 27 Nolan Ryan reprints (even years from 1968-1994) were autographed by the Ryan Express and inserted directly into hobby packs.  These are marked with a “Topps certified autograph” foil stamp instead of the Ryan Commemorative stamp which comes on the non-autographed cards.  The other 13 cards were inserted into series 2.

Autographs – 16 cards (1:532 s1 / 1:501 s2)


There were 8 cards inserted in both series 1 and 2 in an autograph set with its own design.  It’s actually a heck of a checklist – it would rival some of the sets Topps puts together today.  Bonds, Clemens Chipper and A-Rod are the biggest names, and that’s plenty.  But you’ve also got Vladimir Guerrero, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, Moises Alou, Andres Galarraga, Troy Glaus, and Ben Grieve – who was the defending ROY at the time.

1999 Topps inserts

21 11 2013

On to my next post about 1999 Topps inserts.  The last post covered the Nolan Ryan inserts; today’s post covers all the rest.

Aside from the Ryan reprints, none of insert sets were “continuous”; they were all specific to either series 1 or series 2.  As always, the insert odds reflect hobby packs unless otherwise noted.

All-Topps Mystery Finest (33 cards, 1:36 series 2)

All-Topps Mystery Finest Refractors (33 cards, 1:144 series 2)

For the sixth straight year, Topps inserted cards with Finest technology into the base product.  For the third time, this insert had the “Mystery Finest” theme.  This set was inserted into series 2 packs, and actually mirrors the players from an 11-card subset that’s included in the Topps base set – the All-Topps Team.  At each position – with one notable exception – there are three players who made the team, plus there are an additional three spots for rookies who made the team.  All 3 players are shown on the 11-card subset in the base set, but the “mystery” idea is used for this insert set – you have to peel the black front off the card to see who your player is.

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest covered

Now – on to the discrepancy I mentioned.  There is no card showing second baseman, and 2 cards of first baseman.  This seems to be Topps showing some laziness (or worse, just trying to get more players from a more high profile position included) before they even had the current MLB-approved monopoly!  Because of this, Tino Martinez, John Olerud and Jim Thome all got cards in this set, though I’m pretty sure none of them could play second base…

There actually were a number of good second baseman in 1998.  Craig Biggio was the best of the lot and clearly would have made the All-Topps team – he became only the second player (and still is) to hit 50 doubles and steal 50 bases in the same season.  After him, I’d probably go Jose Offerman and Ray Durham, though Jeff Kent and Fernando Vina were also great.  And the best two American League second baseman of the previous five years, Roberto Alomar and Chuck Knoblauch, were also very good – just not in the category of the other 5 guys I mentioned.

  1. Biggio – .325-.403-.503, 20 HR, 88 RBI, 123 R, 210 H, 51 2B, 50 SB
  2. Offerman – .315-.403-.438, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 102 R, 191 H, 13 3B, 45 SB
  3. Durham – .285-.363, .455, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 126 R, 181 H, 36 SB

The cards were available in refractor versions – I didn’t pull any.  I did pull a card of one of the “undeserving” first baseman – that being Thome.

1999 Topps series 2 box All Topps Mystery Finest

Power Brokers (20 cards, 1:36 – series 1)

Power Brokers Refractors (20 cards, 1:144 – series 1)

The Mystery Finest cards were from series 2, and they effectively replaced another insert set from series 1 that used chrome / finest technology.  This set was called Power Brokers, which was a die-cut set featuring sluggers from the incredible 1998 season.

1999 Topps series 1 box Power Booster

There was also a refractor version available.

Picture Perfect (10 cards, 1:8 – series 1)

There were two insert sets that came more common – 4 or 5 per box.  The set for series 1 was picture perfect.  This one seemed a little more aimed at kids.  It featured a full-bleed, borderless design and a game with an interesting connection to the base Topps set.  There was a multiple choice question on the back about the player depicted, and the way to answer it was to check out his base Topps card.

1999 Topps series 1 box Picture Perfect

For example, for Griffey Jr., the question was – which of the following is false?

  • Griffey first led the AL in homers when he was 24 years old?
  • His 140 RBI led the league in 1996.
  • He had more BB than SO in 1993.
  • He was the #1 draft pick in 1987.

And the insert card directs you to card #100 – Griffey’s base card – to find the answer.  (For those of you curious, the answer is “B” – he had 140 RBI in 1996, but it didn’t lead the league).

Record Numbers (10 cards, 1:8 – series 2)

Record Numbers Gold (10 cards, series 2 – #/d to the specific record depicted)

The insert set that came 4-5 per box in series 2 was called record numbers.  This showcased a record reached by 10 different players in 1998.  For example, Mark McGwire hit 70 homers, Sammy Sosa hit 20 homers in a month, Griffey became the youngest player to reach 350 homers, Cal Ripken ended his consecutive games streak at a record 2,632 games.  These cards have a striking similarity to the 1995 Topps design.

1999 Topps series 2 box Record Numbers

There is also a gold version serial numbered to the specific record depicted – which makes for a pretty wide variety in availability – from Sosa, Wood and Clemens at 20 all the way to Ripken’s 2,632.

Lords of the Diamond (15 cards, 1:18 – series 1)

Topps inserted 2 “shinies” into series 1.  The first of these was another die-cut insert set called Lords of the Diamond.  I’m not sure if this is an attempted shout-out to Tolkien, but these are those kind of cards with the silver, shiny background where you actually get a better look at what’s in said background when viewing a scan of the card.  Looking at these cards in-hand, and it just looks like a whole lot of shiny!

1999 Topps series 1 box Lords of Diamond

New Breed (15 cards, 1:18 – series 1)

1999 Topps series 1 box New Breed

The other shiny set was called New Breed.  Inserted at the same rate and containing the same number of cards (15) as the Lords of the Diamond, this set features younger players who at the time were viewed as the future of the game.

All-Matrix (30 cards, 1:18 – series 2)

1999 Topps series 2 box Club 40

Topps also had as “shiny” counterpart in series 2, though it came in the form of just one set of 30 cards instead of 2 sets of 15.  The All-Matrix set consisted of 3 groupings – players in the “40-club” for the 13 players who had hit 40 home runs in 1998, “99 Rookies” for 10 players who could battle for Rookie of the Year in the upcoming season, and “Club K” for the 7 best strikeout pitchers in the game.

Hall of Fame Collection (10 cards, 1:12 – series 1 hobby)

1999 Topps series 1 box HOF Collection

This set was hobby only and is the first insert set featuring multiple retired players in the history of the Topps flagship brand.  These cards are pretty nice – they feature 10 different Hall of Famer players with their Cooperstown plaque as a background and a black and white photo in the foreground.  I’m not sure why there isn’t a series 2 equivalent here – maybe Topps meant to do a continuation but didn’t sign enough former players?  It leaves series 2 without a “hobby exclusive”.

1999 Topps Retro Inserts (Ryan)

19 11 2013

After issuing reprints from great outfielders from the 50’s and 60’s – Mantle, Mays and Clemente – Topps went with a more recent hobby icon in 1999, strikeout king Nolan Ryan.  Ryan was the theme elsewhere in the product, too – he was given card #34 (his uniform number).  I said this earlier – I think this may have been in honor of his getting inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, as it had been 5 years since he retired.

As always – odds below are for hobby packs.

Ryan Reprints (27 cards, 1:18)

1999 Topps series 1 box Ryan inserts

Like the inserts for Clemente in 1998, Topps inserted both sets in both series; the even years (odd numbers, starting with card #1 as 1968) came in series 1 and the odd years (even numbers) came in series 2.  The reprints are glossy, but other than that there are only small differences from the originals.  There is a gold foil stamp on the front to designate the cards as “Nolan Ryan Commemorative” reprints, and a small extra line on the back noting the card number for the insert set.

Ryan Reprints Finest (27 cards, 1:72)

1999 Topps series 1 box Ryan finest insert

Ryan Reprints Finest Refractors (27 cards, 1:288)

Topps again inserted Finest and Refractor versions of each set.  The card above was the only one of these I pulled in two boxes – so I hit the expected odds, I guess!

Ryan Reprints Autographs (27 cards, 1:4,250 series 1 / 1:5,007 series 2)

1999 Topps Ryan reprint certified auto

Willie Mays had signed reprints for Topps to insert into the 1997 product, and Topps did a giveaway promotion for Clemente in 1998.  In 1999 they were honoring another living legend, so Topps got Nolan Ryan to sign a certain number of copies of each of his cards for insert in series 1 and 2 hobby packs.  The autographs available in each series match the reprints available – even years in series 1, odd years in series 2. I believe there were a little less than 100 of each card signed – just from doing some extrapolation of the odds.  They bear the Topps certified autograph stamp, but aren’t sequentially numbered.  I believe these were only included in hobby packs, but I haven’t been able to verify for sure.