Sunday, July 28, 2013

Signature Sundays - Mike Greenwell

This week's Signature Sundays post features my fourth and final 2013 Topps Archives autograph, Mike Greenwell:

Greenwell was perhaps the player I was most excited to see on the auto checklist.  He's another Red Sox player that I've been searching for a good certified autograph of for some time.  Mike's perhaps best known for his 1988 season where he set career highs with a .325 batting average, 22 HR and 119 RBI.  He famously lost the MVP vote that season to Jose Canseco, something Greenwell was rather vocal about at one point years later, after we all found out the truth about Canseco.

In the end, he appeared in 12 seasons, all with the Red Sox, before calling it quits after 1996.  Over those 12 years, he appeared in 100+ games just 7 times.  He was always a steady, near-.300 hitter with decent power (15-20 HR and close to 40 doubles on average, if he played a full year).

Here's the original, 1988 Topps card that this Fan Favorites Auto is based off of.  Definitely an '80s classic for a Red Sox collector.  As you can see, Topps stayed fairly true to the original design, but with an updated photo.

As I said, this will likely be my last 2013 Topps Archives autograph, as it gives me all four Red Sox cards on the checklist...

Here's a look at all four of them together.  Not a bad grouping at all right there!  Nice to be able to knock off this small autographed team set...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Red Sox & Root Beer - Two of My Favorites Combined

Root beer has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I remember having my very first glasses at my grandmother's house as a little kid, more than two decades ago now, and being blown away.  From then on out, it was one of the go-to sodas of my childhood.  I don't drink much soda at all any longer, but when I occasionally get the craving I'll go for root beer, or one of its less popular "cousins" like cream soda or birch beer.  It just so happens that the home I purchased a few years ago in Rhode Island is less than a mile from a '50s style root beer stand.  You know, the kind that serve their own draft root beer, along with burgers, and typical fare in a retro "lights on for service" type atmosphere.  No, that did not influence my decision to buy the house, I don't love root beer that much.  Point is, I enjoy the beverage.

When I recently stumbled across today's card on eBay I knew it had to be mine, since it's the perfect combination of two things I enjoy very much:

This is a really large item, so in case you can't read the scan it's a 1958 Hires Root Beer Pete Runnels.  Clicking on the image may give you a better look, depending on your browser.  These were distributed by Hires in their root beer cartons in '58, with 66 cards in the set in total.  Included was a trading card with colorized photo inset against a wood background, with player name, position and team name in white print against a black background at bottom.  Nothing too spectacular in terms of design, but it does have a nice vintage feel to certainly looks like a card from the '50s.

The cards had a perforated tab attached that could be mailed in for membership in the "Hires Baseball Club".  Basically you'd send off ten cents and a couple of Hires bottle caps and in return you'd get a book and a "valuable" membership card.  As you can imagine, the majority of these tabs were torn off.  I figure many kids tore them off whether they planned to send them in or not.  After all, the card was what you wanted, not some crummy promotion.  As a result, cards with tab intact like this one demand more of a premium.  The big name Hall of Famers go for hundreds of dollars even without the tab, but if you don't mind getting a lesser-known guy you can find one like I did here for just a hair over the cost of a blaster.

Here's the back, which is just awesome.  You can click this for a better view as well, although the scan makes some of the really small text hard to decipher.  Mail-in form for club membership is on the left (you'd tape your coins to the bottle cap to the right of Hires' address, in fact if you zoom in it actually says "paste dime here" on the cap).  On the right is the back of the actual card.  There aren't any stats, just a paragraph write-up on the player and the basic info.  I really like two elements though, the bottle on the left of the card, and the fact that the card number is listed inside a Hires cap at top right.

This is definitely one of the more unique additions to my Red Sox collection so far in 2013, and it's yet another reminder to myself of how much happier I generally am when I hand pick something rather than spending my money on modern wax.

How about you, are you a fan of root beer?  Birch beer?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

1953 Topps Project - Bob Del Greco

Let's keep the ball rolling with my 1953 Topps set, with the second card featured this week.  Here's my 55th card towards the set, Bob Del Greco of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Depicted on this card is a young, local kid from Pittsburgh, who was signed by the Pirates and debuted with the team during the 1952 season at 19 years of age.  Bobby appeared in 99 games in that rookie 1952 season, making close to 400 plate appearances.  The results were less than astounding though, and he wouldn't see another at bat in the major leagues until 1956.  Maybe this is a case where the player was thrown to the wolves at too early an age, and may have benefited from a season or two of minor league ball.

When he finally reached the bigs again, Del Greco began what would become a trend of bouncing around from team to team.  In the early stages of the '56 season he was dealt to St. Louis for Bill Virdon.  I don't think the Cardinals were impressed either as they turned around and shipped him to the Cubs just before the 1957 season began.  Before the season was over he found himself traded to the New York Yankees, where he'd finish out 1957, and play all of 1958 (though he appeared in just 20 games with New York over those two seasons).  In 1959 he again didn't see any major league action.

Bobby did resurface with the Phillies in 1960, and surprisingly appeared in 100+ games for four years straight between 1960 and 1963 (with the Phillies and Athletics).

Del Greco was property of the Milwaukee Braves in 1964 but saw no action with the club.  Finally, after going 0-4 in 8 games with the Phillies in 1965 his career was at an end.  If Wikipedia is to be trusted, Bobby supposedly stayed involved with the Pirates after his career was over, and threw batting practice for the team through the early 1990s.  From what I can tell Del Greco, now 80 years old, is still alive and well and presumably living in the Pittsburgh area.

Set Progress:  55 of 274 (20%)

Monday, July 22, 2013

In the News...

For me, today was a very interesting day on the baseball news front.  While I don't typically bother with current events posts (no time to keep up, and so many others already do a better job than I ever could anyway), I figured it was a chance to at least show some baseball cards.

Red Sox fans found out what that already feared, that there's nothing wrong with Clay Buchholz except that he's not that tough.  Dr. James Andrews confirmed what the team already knew, that Buchholz is in overall good health.  I remember a time in May when I had visions of Cy Young awards dancing through my head, and now after two months of basically no action we find out that essentially Clay is "sore".  This, combined with recent comments that he's "90%" and "if this were September...", have a lot of fans, myself included, pretty ticked off.  Patrice Bergeron played with a dislocated shoulder, broken rib, and punctured lung in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Dislocated shoulder.

Broken rib.

Punctured lung.  Clay Buchholz, you sir, are a panzy.*

So this guy's a fraud.  I don't really feel bad for him.  In the least.  I know I'm not the only one who got some sick satisfaction in hearing this after Braun got off on a joke of an appeal previously.  What a dope.  Since A-Rod is injured maybe he can take the Braun route and admit to what he did and serve out his suspension this season?  Nope, too much pride for that.  I don't give Braun any credit for "coming out and admitting it" either, he had plenty of chances to do that previously.  When you only admit something because you're backed into a corner (and your team is 18.5 games back in the division), does that really count?

Finally, Dustin Pedroia appears to be on the verge of signing a gigantic contract extension with the Red Sox.  While there is literally no player on the current team that I would rather lock up than Dustin, the numbers I've been hearing ($20 Million!?!?!) seem very high, even if you want to go above and beyond to reward a guy who is your franchise embodied on the field.  There are very few athletes I'd give that kind of money too.

Patrice Bergeron is one of those few, and when I think about it Pedroia is probably the most like Bergeron of any player on the Red Sox (really weird comparison to have to try to make, not sure why I feel that way, I just do).  So in that sense I'm glad they're locking him up.  At least we can count on Dustin taking his at-bats, even if it's not October, and even if he's only 90%...

*I've never met Clay Buchholz, I'm sure he's actually a very nice guy who does a lot of charity work.  His tolerance for pain is very low though.  Simply a fact.

1953 Topps Project - Ted Gray

It's been a couple of months now since I added a card to my 1953 Topps Project, which is my attempt to complete the '53 Topps set in grade PSA 6.  I've still been picking up some cards on occasion, but have been lax about posting them.  I need to get a move on if I want to reach my goal of 65 by year's end.  Today we have the 54th card in my set, Ted Gray of the Detroit Tigers:

Ted was signed by Detroit as a 17-year-old in 1942.  He made a name for himself pitching with the Navy in the early '40s, racking up insane strikeout numbers.  It seemed he was on track for a promising MLB career, but he never really lived up to the hype once he began seeing steady time with the Tigers in 1948.  He served as a member of the team's starting rotation from 1949 through 1953, but inconsistent play (supposedly caused at least in part by chronic blisters) prevented him from recording any truly spectacular seasons.  In 1950, for example, he recorded 10 wins before the All-Star break, but not a single one after that, finishing the year 10-7.  In his 9 years at the Major League level, he managed to keep his ERA below 4.00 only once.

The last year or so of Ted's career was your classic example of teams hoping they could catch lightning in a bottle.  He was traded to the White Sox at the end of the 1954 season, and in 1955 was released by the White Sox, Indians, Yankees and Orioles!  Yup, Ted Gray played for and was released by four separate teams in 1955 alone.  I guess none of them found what they were looking for...

Set Progress:  54 of 274 (20%)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Signature Sundays - Three Blackhawks

I'm already over the Bruins' Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Chicago Blackhawks a few weeks back.  In fact, in the time that's passed since Chicago lifted the Cup, I've acquired three Blackhawks autos from 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures...

First, the guy with probably the most notable playing career of the three, Dirk Graham.  Dirk enjoyed a decent NHL career with the North Stars and Blackhawks, though most fans (myself included) remember his time with the latter more than the former.  Graham was a reliable two-way forward, as is evidenced by his Selke Trophy win, and was Chicago's captain for a number of seasons.  He got as far as the Stanley Cup Finals with the team, but unfortunately had to go up against that amazing, early '90s Penguins team.

Here's a guy who's had more success in a suit than he ever had in an NHL sweater, Dale Tallon.  Dale may never have been able to hoist the Cup as a player, but if you've enjoyed either of the 'Hawks Stanley Cup Championships in recent years you have him to thank, at least in part.  Dale was GM of the franchise when they drafted Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and brought in other key players like Patrick Sharp and Brian Campbell.  Tallon's now GM for the Florida Panthers, where I'm sure fans would love to see similar success...

Last but not least, another gentleman who has really made his mark long after hanging up his skates for the final time.  Darryl Sutter played his entire NHL career with Chicago, but is probably more recognizable to modern hockey fans as the Stanley Cup-winning coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

As you can see based on the write-up on the back, Sutter spent a lot of time with the Blackhawks organization before finally winning it all with LA. 

Three more interesting autos from Panini Classics Signatures, these bring my running tally up to 16 autographs from this set...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Adrian Gonzalez, We Hardly Knew Ye - Base Cards, a Relic and an Auto!

I'm casually collecting as many cards as I can of Adrian Gonzalez from his short time with the Red Sox. Here are some more recent additions...

At the beginning of this project I started grabbing up the rarer, more expensive cards figuring I could always circle back around on commons.  Recently I did just that, nabbing a bunch off of Sportlots on the cheap.  I had quite a few colored refractor parallels of this 2011 Topps Chrome card, but not the base until now...

Here's one of those Hometown Heroes inserts from 2011 Allen & Ginter, where we learn that Adrian is from Chula Vista, CA.  I've never been, but I have been to San Diego which is not too far and it was absolutely beautiful.  I'm sure Chula Vista is a very nice place.

Topps went a little overboard in 2011 with Gonzalez cards, I think they just got caught up in the hype of him being dealt to Boston.  This is one of quite a few cards Adrian has in the 2011 Topps Update set.

Here's another, card #US1 which leads off that set.

Sticking with the 2011 Topps theme, here's his base card from Series 2.

At first glance I thought this was a double, as I received one of these in a recent trade package, however I learned that Adrian was included in the Golden Moments insert set in Series 1 as well as Series 2 last year, so this is indeed a new one for me.

I somehow managed to avoid obtaining a copy of Adrian's 2012 Topps base card until now.  I must have at least a dozen or more versions of this card by now between parallels, Topps Chrome, printing plates, etc...

Closing out the lower-end cards we have a Bowman base card.  To keep things a bit more interesting let's see a couple slightly nicer additions...

Here's a nice, bright red relic from 2012 Allen & Ginter.  I already had Adrian's 2011 Allen & Ginter bat relic, so this card is a nice companion.  Relic cards don't do a whole lot for me admittedly, but I at least like the variation of the red swatch on this one.

Last, but certainly not least, here's my second Gonzalez auto!  This one comes from 2012 Topps Five Star, which were really nice cards providing you can find one like this that doesn't have chipping all over the borders.  I love the look of these cards, and this one set me back just $10.99 courtesy of COMC.

There you have it, an even 10 new cards towards the project.  I'm about 2/3 of the way to my goal of 100 unique Gonzalez Red Sox cards now, here's the current tally:

Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox Cards - Count

Total Cards - 66

#'d /2011 - 1
#'d /999 - 1
#'d/562 - 1
#'d/199 - 1
#'d/100 - 2
#'d/99 - 1
#'d/75 - 1
#'d /60 -2
#'d/50 - 2
#'d/25 - 2
#'d/10 - 2
1/1 - 8
Relics - 2
Silk - 1
Autographs - 2
Printing Plates - 7

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Card Raven Flies Through Rhode Island

A few weeks ago, maybe even a couple of months ago now, I got a surprise package in the mailbox from Michael, aka The Card Raven.

Inside were a bunch of Red Sox singles, and I needed close to 20 of them for my growing collection, including this very shiny Carl Crawford insert...

...and a very shiny Youkilis insert from the same set.

My very first Darren Bragg card, from the 1997 Collector's Choice set.

This one may have seemed like nothing but a common when Michael tossed it in the package, and it is just that in the strict sense, but this card signifies an interesting event in Red Sox history.  On April 12th of 1992, the same year this card hit shelves, Matt tossed a no-hitter for Boston against the Cleveland Indians.  Never heard of him?  That's because he walked 7 batters and was victim to a fielding error as well as quite a few stolen bases, all of which added up to two runs for Cleveland and the 8-inning no-hit loss for Young.

I must not have purchased more than a pack or two of Allen & Ginter in 2010, because I have precious few Sox and I think the ones I do have all came in trade...

A duo of John Marzano cards, sort of depressing to learn while writing this post that he died at age 45 from falling down a flight of stairs...

Go ahead and take the code, assuming Michael didn't use it already!

Happy to get another version of one of my favorite cards of 2013.  If Middlebrooks' at bats in 2013 had been as good as this photo, he'd probably be with the Red Sox right now instead of in AAA.

Trio of 1991 Topps.  I wish they would bring manager cards back to the base set...

I'm a sucker for the early '90s Conlon cards, and didn't have this one from the 1992 set.

Closing things out with three from the junk wax era, including two from one of the most obnoxious sets ever, 1991 Fleer.

Thanks for the cards Michael, sorry it took me so long to post.  These were a big help in getting closer to my goal of 2,000 unique Red Sox cards by year's end.  I'm pretty low on Mets right now but hopefully I'll have enough for a return package soon...
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