Sunday, March 23, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #10

#56 - Gerald Staley - St. Louis Cardinals

I'm sure most baseball fans have no idea who Gerry Staley was, I certainly didn't before buying this card. Unlike the last couple of unknowns I've written about though, he was actually a half-way decent player. Gerry was pretty solid as both a starting pitcher and in relief throughout his 15 year career. 1953 was a great year for him, as he would go 18-9 with a 3.99 ERA, the second highest single season win total of his career (he never crossed the 20 win mark).

Gerry was selected to 3 All-Star teams in his career and finished in the top 30 in the league in MVP voting on 2 different occassions. He converted to a reliever for the last few years of his career and was part of the bullpen for the 1959 Chicago White Sox, who won the A.L. Pennant. All in all he had 134 career wins, 61 saves and a respectable 3.70 ERA. Gerry looks like a nice enough guy, but he did lead the N.L. in hit batsmen in both 1952 and 1953. He plunked 17 batters in 1953 alone!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #9

#232 - Dick Kokos - St. Louis Browns

Dick is the first high-numbered card I've reviewed. Like the 1952 set, the high-numbered 1953 cards demand a premium, although the difference in price is not as drastic as it is in the '52 set. Nonetheless, these cards are going to make completing the set that much more difficult.

Dick had a relatively short career in the majors. He appeared in a total of only 475 games throughout 5 different seasons. Those 5 seasons were largely unremarkable. 1953 was about par for the course. In 107 games, Dick hit for .241 with 13 HR and 38 RBI, not exactly a banner year.

Maybe Dick was your classic "AAAA" player, and just didn't quite have what it took to cut it in the big leagues. Maybe he was rushed into the majors and wasn't given time to develop. He was after all only 20 years old when he debuted in 1948 for the Browns. Dick did connect for 23 round trippers and 28 doubles in 1949, but unfortunately he lead the American League in strikeouts with 91. Sadly, Dick passed away at age 58...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #8

#103 - Joe Astroth - Philadelphia Athletics

It's been almost 2 weeks since I posted a '53 Topps card, time to get back on track... Joe Astroth is probably the most unsensational player I've reviewed so far. His career as a catcher in the majors spanned 10 seasons, and he played for both the Kansas City and Philadelphia Athletics. I can't for the life of me determine how Joe managed to stick around collecting a paycheck for 10 years. I certainly don't think it was because of his offensive prowess, as he batted .254 with just 13 HR and 156 RBI over 544 career games. He never hit for more than 5 HR or 36 RBI in any one season.

Mr. Astroth also appears to be the strangest looking player I've profiled so far. He seems to be a bit concerned, a trend I've noticed with a few of the '53 Topps cards. Maybe he's thinking to himself, "What did I do to deserve these ears and oddly shaped head?". Or perhaps, "I wonder how my ass-chin is going to come out in this picture?". The Philadelphia Athletics elephant logo is the perfect finishing touch for this card. Well, that's about all I have to say about Joe Astroth. They can't all be superstars...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Box Break - 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics


Recently I was scouring the bargain bin at the local card shop looking for something different to rip for a change. I picked up a pack of 2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics for $2.00, for no reason other than the fact that I'd never heard of this set before.


I absolutely loved the cards, and decided to pick up a 24-pack box. I had a couple of reasons for this. First, I've decided not to pursue 2008 Heritage as I'm still working on my 2007 Heritage set, plus Topps has turned me off a bit with all of the SPs and variations. Although I love the look of the '59 Topps cards, I realize that even after 3 or 4 hobby boxes of 2008 Heritage I'd be out over $200 and still probably be well short of the set. In stark contrast to this, 2005 UD All-Star Classics has a 100 card base set with no short prints. At 8 cards per pack and 24 packs in the box I'm almost guaranteed to get a complete set out of this, right? Best of all, I picked up this box on Ebay for about 1/3 the cost of a 2008 Heritage hobby box.

Another reason I was sold on this box was that there are 25 Legendary All-Star cards in the base set (the DiMaggio pictured above is an example). For someone who loves vintage cards and the heroes of yesteryear, these cards are absolutely outstanding, in my opinion some of the nicer looking modern cards that I've pulled since I got back into collecting.

Finally, the cards in general are just beautiful. They are printed on nice, thick, glossy cardstock and showcase the excellent and crisp photography that Upper Deck is known for. I also really appreciate the fact that most of the cards offer great in-game action shots. This was a plus for me, especially with the Legendary All-Star cards. Many of my original vintage cards show the players posing for a photograph and it was really cool to open each pack and see some of these legendary names in action.

Ok, enough of the justification for purchasing the box. Here's a breakdown of what you get in each pack.

Four base cards of players who were in the 2005 All-Star game (base set #'s 1-50)...


Two All-Star futures cards featuring up and coming talent (base set #'s 51-75)...


Two Legendary All-Star cards, the highlight of the product in my opinion (base set #'s 76-100)...

Pros: Well, I've already hit on the positive aspects of the product, but in summary great looking, high quality cards, very reasonable price, and a small set with no short prints. I also like the fact that Upper Deck included a thick cardboard filler in the packs that did not contain game-used cards to prevent pack searching. Two memoribilia cards per box on average is also a plus (I pulled this Dontrelle Willis as well as a Moises Alou):
This set also had some very cool insert cards, I pulled an A-Rod gold parallel numbered to 499...
I also thought the All-Star Classics box scores insert set was pretty cool. Each card gives you a complete box score from a past All-Star game. I got the 1994 game in this box...


Cons: My only major gripe is that at first, it seemed as though collation was going to be absolutely terrible. No more than 6 packs into the box my doubles pile was just as large as my set pile. Not a good sign at all. The cards were literally sorted in the exact same manner in each pack. After a few packs, you could look at the first card in the pack and know exactly which 7 cards were going to follow (6 if you happened to pull an insert).

At one point, there were two packs that were laying side by side right next to each other in the tray that contained the exact same 8 cards. This leveled off as I made my way through the box and didn't end up being a huge problem in the end, but I would've been pretty angry back in 2005 had I purchased 2 packs of this and ended up with identical packs. At the end, I had one pack to go and needed exactly 8 cards to complete my set. The final pack contained the exact 8 cards that I needed, so it seems as though Upper Deck sorted these cards so that you would be guaranteed to end up with a set if you purchased a 24-pack box. Turns out the collation wasn't so bad after all.

Suggestions: I can only think of one possible suggestion that would've made this box better. It would've been great if they had seeded game-used cards of the Legendary All-Stars, maybe seeded 1:24 packs or something like that.

Here's what I ended up with:

Base Set: 1-100 (Complete Set)
Doubles: 83 doubles (no triples, collation turned out to be pretty good after all!)
Inserts: 3 gold parallels (#'d to 499), 1 All-Star Classics Box Scores, 1 All-Star Classics Matchups, 1 Midsummer Classics, 2 Midsummer Swatches game-used cards, 1 All-Star Classics MVP and 2 Perennial All-Stars

Overall I think this is a great product at a great price. This box break reminded me of why I love collecting. Maybe these aren't the world's most desirable cards, but they were very affordable and put a huge smile on my face more than once while ripping through the packs.

If you like what you've seen here, I've already posted all 83 of my doubles in my Available for Trade post, just contact me if you're interested. I had also purchased a second 24-pack box of this stuff in case I wasn't able to complete a set with the first one, I've added that to the trade list as well...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Card of the Month - March 2008

1979 Topps - #175 - Gordie Howe

This is far and away one of my favorite hockey cards, in fact at the current moment in time if I could keep only 10 cards I would probably hang onto this one. There are many reasons why I like this card so much. First of all, as everyone knows "Mr. Hockey" is a legend. He ranks second all-time in regular season goals (801), eighth in assists (1,049) and third all-time in points scored (1,850 for those of you who are mathematically challenged). To get a graded 1970's card of this hall-of-famer for about the same price as a CD was a steal in my book.

I briefly met Gordie at an autograph signing at a local card show when I was about 10, which was a cool experience for a kid who played hockey and was obsessed with the sport. He was very polite and patient in dealing with the crowds and I still have the Detroit Red Wings puck signed in silver sharpie kicking around somewhere.

Probably the best thing about this card is that it's from the one and only year in which Gordie played for the Hartford Whalers, my favorite (now-defunct) hockey team. The Whalers never had much success and eventually moved the franchise and became the Carolina Hurricanes, due to financial problems I'm pretty sure. Every year though, my parents would come up with some money and take my brothers and I to a couple of Hartford Whalers games, so I have some really fond memories from those times. Getting to see Wayne Gretzky play was a definite highlight!

If you're looking at this card for the first time and find yourself saying "he seriously looks like my grandfather", I don't blame you one bit. Amazingly, Gordie was over 50 years old in 1979, the last year he would play in the NHL. If you think he was a decoy used to sell tickets though, think again. At the age of 51, Gordie would net 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points in 80 games. Not too shabby for a guy in his 50's...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Want List

BASEBALL

1959 Topps (any condition!)
1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 13, 21, 25, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 45, 47, 49, 50, 54, 55, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 68, 69, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96,
101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 110, 113, 115, 118, 119, 120, 122, 124, 125, 127, 128, 129, 131, 134, 138, 141, 143, 144, 145, 147, 148, 150, 153, 156, 159, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 169, 171, 172, 173, 174, 178, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 191, 192, 193, 195, 199,
201, 206, 212, 214, 215, 217, 218, 219, 222, 223, 224, 225, 227, 229, 231, 234, 239, 242, 243, 244, 249, 250, 251, 259, 260, 264, 269, 270, 271, 280, 282, 284, 286, 288, 294, 295, 298,
300, 304, 306, 307, 308, 312, 314, 315, 317, 322, 324, 325, 327, 329, 330, 338, 341, 345, 350, 354, 355, 360, 362, 364, 375, 380, 381, 382, 384, 388, 389, 391, 392, 394, 397,
400, 402, 403, 406, 408, 410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 417, 420, 421, 422, 423, 425, 426, 429, 430, 431, 432, 437, 438, 439, 440, 441, 443, 445, 446, 448, 449, 450, 451, 453, 455, 457, 459, 461, 463, 464, 465, 466, 467, 470, 471, 477, 478, 479, 480, 481, 483, 484, 488, 489, 490, 491, 492, 494, 497,
503, 507, 508, 509, 510, 513, 514, 515, 516, 518, 519, 520, 521, 522, 523, 524, 525, 526, 527, 528, 529, 535, 536, 537, 538, 539, 540, 541, 542, 543, 544, 546, 547, 549, 550, 551, 554, 555, 556, 557, 559, 560, 561, 562, 563, 564, 567, 569, 570, 571, 572

1978 Topps (condition upgrades - NM or better only please)
23

1982 Topps (NM-MT or better only please)

Complete

1986 Topps Traded
Complete

1987 Topps Traded
Complete

1992 Topps
Complete  

1993 Flair
Wave of the Future Inserts:  4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 15, 17, 19

1994 Upper Deck All-Star
Complete 

2007 Goudey
209, 210, 217, 222, 242, 272


2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces
Complete

2008 Upper Deck
Complete

2011 Topps Legends Variations
Series 1 - 5 (Lou Gehrig), 20 (Honus Wagner), 25 (Carl Yastrzemski), 44 (Rogers Hornsby), 50 (Mike Schmidt), 80 (Jackie Robinson), 90 (Yogi Berra), 93 (Frank Thomas), 100 (Stan Musial), 102 (Christy Mathewson), 135 (Dale Murphy), 150 (Hank Greenberg), 198 (Johnny Bench), 199 (Ozzie Smith), 200 (Ty Cobb), 209 (Roy Campanella), 219 (Thurman Munson), 247 (Ernie Banks), 250 (Mel Ott), 271 (Babe Ruth), 293 (Harmon Killebrew), 315 (Jimmie Foxx), 330 (Phil Rizzuto)

Series 2 - 355 (Bob Feller), 375 (Andre Dawson), 393 (Jim Palmer), 405 (Ryne Sandberg), 425 (Johnny Mize), 435 (Pee Wee Reese), 450 (Mickey Mantle), 460 (Robin Roberts), 480 (Roberto Alomar), 490 (Duke Snider), 505 (Greg Maddux), 510 (Hank Aaron), 516 (Tom Seaver), 530 (Sandy Koufax), 570 (Bert Blyleven), 590 (Juan Marichal), 600 (John Smoltz), 626 (Nolan Ryan), 640 (Eddie Mathews), 645 (Bob Gibson), 650 (Frank Robinson), 651 (Eddie Murray), 660 (Brooks Robinson)

Update Series - US4 (Carlton Fisk), US18 (Joe DiMaggio), US21 (Willie McCovey), US31 (Paul O'Neill), US38 (Roger Maris), US42 (Frank Thomas), US58 (Bert Blyleven), US59 (Rickey Henderson), US154 (Babe Ruth), US195 (Larry Walker), US207 (Frank Robinson), US229 (Roberto Alomar), US230 (Al Kaline), US238 (Darryl Strawberry), US258 (Monte Irvin), US260 (Ty Cobb), US309 (Jimmie Foxx)

2011 Topps Chrome Atomic Refractors (#'d /225)
2, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 35, 39, 54, 59, 60, 62, 70, 75, 92, 95, 96, 103, 104, 109, 110, 112, 117, 121, 128, 133, 137, 138, 149, 151, 152, 153, 154, 163, 164, 166, 171, 173, 174, 182, 186, 191, 197, 198, 202, 203, 207, 215, 217 

2012 Topps Archives
SP:  201, 202, 205, 208, 210, 213, 218, 219, 220, 222, 223, 224, 226, 228, 230, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 240

2015 Topps Stadium Club
18, 25, 27, 32, 38, 41, 50, 51, 59, 71, 85,
105, 116, 117, 118, 122, 125, 130, 134, 139, 151, 159, 166, 170, 172, 181, 189, 194, 197, 199,
216, 220, 227, 228, 231, 242, 255, 263, 269, 272, 291, 297

2015 Topps Chrome Update
Complete



HOCKEY


1971-72 Topps
2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 70 (Gordie Howe), 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 92, 94, 95, 96, 98,
100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 117, 118, 121, 122, 123, 126, 127, 130, 132

1972-73 Topps
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 30, 31, 34, 41, 45, 49, 50, 53, 54, 55, 57, 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 67, 70, 73, 74, 83, 85, 90, 92, 94, 96,
100, 101, 102, 113, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123, 124, 125, 127, 130, 134, 136, 137, 139, 140, 143, 147, 148, 150, 152, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 160, 167, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176

1973-74 Topps
Complete

1974-75 Topps
Complete 

1979-80 Topps
Complete 

1982-83 O-Pee-Chee

7 (Bourque), 10, 16, 18, 19, 22, 24 (Bourque SA), 26, 32, 35, 38, 47, 48, 52, 56, 65, 66, 79, 84, 86, 87, 89, 92, 95,
105 (Fuhr RC), 106 (Gretzky), 115, 119, 120, 124, 132, 136, 143, 147, 152, 154, 157, 164, 174, 176, 187, 188, 190, 191, 195, 197,
201, 210, 211, 215, 216, 226, 228, 230, 231, 234, 239, 245, 248, 249, 251, 256, 257, 258, 259, 261, 263, 279, 280, 286, 287, 290, 297, 298, 299,
304, 305, 306, 307, 310, 317, 318, 321, 322, 323, 326, 328, 331, 332, 333, 334, 337, 339, 341, 343, 350, 351, 352, 353, 359, 363, 371, 374, 375, 379, 380 (Hawerchuk RC), 384, 386, 387, 390, 393, 394, 395

1984-85 O-Pee-Chee (Mint Please!)
3, 61, 285, 286, 308, 335, 345

1985-86 7-Eleven
Complete 

1985-86 Topps
Complete

1986-87 Topps
Complete 

1987-88 Topps
Complete

1988-89 Topps
Complete  

1989-90 Topps
Complete 

1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier
Complete

1990-91 Score
Complete 

1991-92 Ultimate
Complete 

1992-93 Upper Deck
Wayne Gretzky Hockey Heroes:  Header, 15, 16, 17

1993-94 Upper Deck SP Inserts 

Complete

1994-95 Parkhurst Missing Link

18, 21, 23, 26, 29, 32, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 70, 73, 77, 86, 87, 90, 93, 96, 99,
102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 114, 115, 117, 119, 120, 123, 125, 126, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 149, 150, 156, 160, 161, 162, 167, 169, 170, 172, 173, 174, 177, 178 

1994-95 Topps Finest
7, 10, 18

1994-95 Upper Deck SP
35, 76, 93, 102, 105, 110, 132, 160, 166

1995-96 Upper Deck
65, 82, 133, 161, 172, 187, 188, 225, 230, 235, 247


2001-02 Topps/O-Pee-Chee Archives
Complete 

2008-09 Fleer Ultra
Complete 

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee
Complete

2008-09 Upper Deck
Complete 

2008-09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces
Complete 

2011 Upper Deck Stanley Cup Champions
Complete

2013-14 Panini Prizm
202, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 220, 224, 225, 227, 228, 229, 230, 231, 233, 234, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 242, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 253, 254, 255, 256, 258, 260, 262, 265, 266, 267, 268, 270, 271, 272, 273, 276, 277, 279, 281, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 291, 292, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, 299, 300

Monday, March 3, 2008

1953 Topps Project - Post #7

#55 - Maurice McDermott - Boston Red Sox
Unfortunately, if you had to summarize Maurice "Mickey" McDermott's life in a few words, you'd most likely go with something like "promising young pitcher who never realized his full potential and eventually became a complete drunk". Even so, I've always had a soft spot for Maurice McDermott for one reason. Collecting cards as a kid, I had only two truly "vintage" cards in my small collection. One of them was a 1950 Bowman Maurice McDermott purchased at a local antique shop. Although I knew virtually nothing about him (you couldn't exactly Google someones name back in 1990), in my eight-year-old mind I had built him up to be larger than life, a hero on the mound. Turns out I wasn't entirely accurate...
Mickey had his first major league tryout at age 13, for the Brooklyn Dodgers. When he was signed by the Boston Red Sox at age 15, part of the negotiations included two truck loads of Ballantine Beer for his father. Talk about a simpler time in the game, no need for high priced agents and media coverage, a few thousand bucks and some truck loads of beer settled this one.
After an interesting career in the minors (including throwing a no-hitter in which he lost), McDermott finally broke into the majors in 1948, appearing in a mop up duty role a few times before eventually being sent back down. He would get his first start with the Red Sox when fellow teammate Ellis Kinder was pulled after an inning because he was too drunk to pitch. I'm starting to see a pattern here, maybe Mickey was doomed to become an alcoholic.
Here we see him on the cusp of his greatest season, a 1953 campaign in which he would go 18-10. Eventually drinking became a problem for McDermott, ending his career and causing problems in his personal life. He hung up the cleats with a 69-69 career record and never really developed the skills he exhibited as a youngster.
Turns out he released a book shortly before his death in 2003 called "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cooperstown". The guy was a huge drinker, by many accounts a great storyteller and personality, and was friends with people like Satchell Paige, Mickey Mantle, and even Jack Kerouac! I just picked up a copy on Amazon for $5. I can't wait...
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