Monday, January 15, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Approaching 2/3 Complete

A paid holiday from work today actually provided me with some spare time to cobble together a blog post.  Why not grab another ten buybacks off the stack and see how they fare for the franken-set project?

1987 Topps #425 - Tom Seaver

A real strong contestant starts off today's proceedings.  Tom Seaver made the final 16 starts of his HOF career in a Red Sox uniform.  He first appeared with the Red Sox on a Topps card in the 1986 Traded set, but that was an air-brushed monstrosity.  This one, from the '87 set, features what must be a photograph from one of those 16 starts in 1986.  A nice "sunset card" of one of the best pitchers of his era.

With card #425 being a "hero number", it's no surprise that Seaver has some quality competition as the franken-set goes.  Interesting that we have what was also the final Topps card (as a player) of another guy who's got a plaque in Cooperstown.

In the end I decided to keep Torre in the franken-set binder because I like the photograph better.  This was definitely one of those tough calls that could have gone either way.  I'll admit I was also swayed by the fact that I know I have a much nicer Seaver buyback waiting in the wings for a future post...

1993 Topps #363 - John Smiley

Just two buybacks in and already a good sign, as John Smiley here represents my very first #363 buyback.  John actually won 20 games in 1991 for Pittsburgh, was named an All-Star that year, and even received some MVP and Cy Young votes though he didn't win either award.  With one year remaining on his contract the Pirates dealt him to the Twins, where he spent 1992.  His contract expired in the off-season and he signed with the Reds for 1993.

1987 Topps #521 - Rick Reuschel

Here's Rick Reuschel sporting one of the many variations of the Pirates cap that collectors from the '80s know and love.  Rick actually had a very impressive 2.75 ERA through 25 starts with Pittsburgh in 1987 when he was dealt to the Giants.  He's got some competition for the franken-set binder here:

A relatively bland card of Toronto DH Sam Ewing from 1979 Topps.

The wood grain and ridiculous cap won out, Reuschel unseats Ewing.

1990 Topps #462 - Denny Walling

Denny Walling was a typical utility/AAAA player.  He saw MLB action for 18 consecutive seasons between 1975 and 1992, but appeared in 100 games or more only 6 times during that span.  1990 saw him hit is final of 49 career home runs.

This '88 Don Slaught was already in slot 462.

I like the photograph on the Slaught better than this one, which has to be high up there in terms of most surface area covered by the color red as far as baseball cards go.  This Denny Walling now sits snugly in the 1990 Topps buyback binder, which is coming along quite nicely.

1984 Topps #341 - Dave Tobik

I really don't know what to say about Dave Tobik, who pitched his last Major League inning when I was just three years old.  I do get a kick out of that dated Texas Rangers logo on Dave's chest here, can't say I've seen that one in a while.

A '74 Dan Driessen buyback is already resident in slot 341.  A much more interesting photograph, easy decision here.

Tobik didn't stand a chance.

1993 Topps #442 - Kevin McReynolds

1993 Topps isn't particularly well-represented within the group of buybacks I've processed for this project so far, so it's interesting to get a couple of them in today's post.  Kevin McReynolds is seen here winding down a 12-year career, and is better remembered for his time spent with the Mets.  In order to make the franken-set binder, Kevin will have to come out on top against this card:

While I don't have much affinity towards either player, the photograph on this Alan Foster card is just great.  I can't get over the difference in the dugout compared to what you see at modern ballparks today.

Foster wins, McReynolds loses in what was essentially a battle of photographs...

2006 Topps #550 - Alfonso Soriano

Here's one that I get a kick out of personally, as I have fond memories of the hype surrounding Alfonso during his brief stint with the AA Norwich Navigators, who played their home games just 20 minutes or so from where I lived growing up.

While I will always think of Soriano as a Yankee or a Cub, his lone season with the Nationals in 2006 was damn impressive.  How impressive?  Playing in all but three of the team's games he hit for a .277 average with 41 doubles and 95 RBI, to go along with career highs in home runs (46!) and OPS (.911).  Oh yeah, he also swiped 41 bags.  Wow.

Clete Boyer's Heritage box-topper buyback from this past year was in slot 550 already.

Sorry Clete, you simply ran up against a buzz-saw there.

1987 Topps #298 - Larry Herndon

Another '87 buyback here, and I'm pleased to say it's a new number for the franken-set binder at #298.  I'd really have to flip through page by page to be sure, but at this stage Larry Herndon here certainly has one of the top mustaches in the binder.  He had a good year in 1987 too, hitting .324 with nearly 50 RBI in just over 250 plate appearances in part-time play.

2006 Topps #141 - Randy Wolf

I'm not overly familiar with Randy Wolf, who pitched in the National League for his entire career prior to his final 5 games with the Orioles.  In 2006 he must have gotten a lot of help from the offense, because despite an ERA of 5.56 in 12 starts, he finished the year 4-0!

Pat Bourque's 1974 card was already in slot 141.  Pat looks kind of creepy here, but in general I prefer 1974 Topps to the 2006 set so...

Bourque stays and Randy Wolf is off to the reject box.

1978 Topps #619 - Thad Bosley

Final card for today, and it's yet another new number for the project!  Three new numbers out of ten, I feel like it's been a while since I had that much success.  Don't know a whole lot about Thad Bosley, except that he was actually with the White Sox for 1978, making this image outdated even at the time of printing.

The three new numbers in today's post bring me to a tidy 525 total in the set.  That's just three cards away from the 2/3 mark for the project overall.  With any luck I'll be surpassing that milestone within the next couple of posts...

Franken-set Progress:  525/792 (66%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  413
Total Buybacks in Collection: 938

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Good Old Days

Right around the holidays I received a PWE from my buddy Mark Kaz, formerly of This Way to the Clubhouse, that took me back to our good old days of swapping three-pocket sheets of Mets and Red Sox. Years ago we were both setup on Zistle (RIP) and it seemed like we'd each fire off a couple of PWEs a month featuring cards for the other's team collection. I'm extremely grateful that, despite the fall of Zistle, and despite the fact that Mark no longer keeps a blog, we can continue this tradition.

Let's take a look at the nine cards that greeted me in this latest envelope...

We'll start off with what was my very first in-person look at 2017 Bowman Platinum.  I really didn't buy a lot of packs, blasters or boxes in 2017, so here I am getting my first look at a set from last year with the 2018 releases just around the corner.

These aren't bad looking cards at all I have to say.  Certainly more bold, colorful, and memorable than many prior years of Bowman Platinum releases that are all jumbled together in my mind.  Nice work, Topps.

I wonder exactly how many total Henry Owens cards Topps printed up between 2015 and 2017?  It's gotta be tens of thousands.  Hundreds of thousands maybe?  In any event, this refractor is serial numbered, to /499.

Here's a 2015 Prizm card of Dustin Pedroia that looks like it features a photo that may be from a few years prior.  The Prizm set worked so much better on the hockey side, where Panini actually had a license, if you ask me.

I've added just about 4,000 baseball cards to my collection on The Trading Card Database since the collapse of Zistle, and this is the very first from 1997 Bowman Chrome.

Fleer went with a full-bleed, minimalist design for their 1999 Tradition set.  The gold foil is a bit much (this was the '90s though, so not completely surprising), but I like the photograph for sure.

This one made me smile.  The Topps Total releases remain some of my favorites from the period where I was away from the hobby, and Brian Daubach here fills a hole in my 2004 team set.

Chris Smith is kind of a cool story.  He debuted with the Red Sox in 2008, pitching with the team from May through October.  He signed with the Brewers the following year, but was back in the minors by 2010.  Toiling in the minors for years, Smith worked all the way back to the Major League level and appeared in some games with the A's over the past two seasons.  He's a 36-year-old free agent now, so his career may be over, but at least he can say he made the show.

Here's the last card Mark sent in this latest delivery, not just any 2004 Bowman Heritage card but a short-print according to TCDB!  I've recently gained an appreciation for the '55 Bowman TV set design, and I'm pleased any time I can add a Red Sox card to my collection from the Heritage set that pays it tribute.

Mark, receiving your unexpected PWE brought some joy to my holidays indeed!  I've still got a small stack of Mets in your section of my trade box, and should have some time to prepare over the holiday weekend here and return fire next week!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Buyback Franken-set: Through the Years

Tonight's buyback franken-set post contains cards from every decade between the 1950s and the 1990s.  Here we go...

1959 Topps #359 - Bill White

In the lead-off spot, the oldest buyback of the post, a '59 Bill White.  An interesting beginning to tonight's round, as White would later serve as President of the National League from 1989 through 1994.  Seems like an obvious win as far as the franken-set goes...

...but it has to displace this Jimmy Jones to win a spot in the binder.

Easy call here, as Jimmy moves over to my 1990 Topps buyback set binder, while the '59 White makes the franken-set.

1979 Topps #203 - J.R. Richard Record Breaker

Here's a cool one, a record breaker card from the 1979 Topps set honoring J.R. Richard's 1978 record for most strikeouts in a season by a National League righty.  Okay, so there are a couple of qualifiers there for sure, but it was an impressive season nonetheless.  Richard had an even better season in '79, with 313 Ks compared to '78's 303. 

Already had a nice 1959 Topps buyback in slot 203.  A tough choice for sure here.

Going with the Richard, one of the best power pitchers in the game before a stroke prematurely ended his career.

1978 Topps #405 - Rawly Eastwick

A pretty bland '78 Rawly Eastwick is next.  Looks like quite a crowd behind him there.  Rawly was traded from the Reds to the Cardinals in 1977, and I detect some airbrushing here.

Butch Wynegar's 1979 release has been holding down slot 405 in the binder for a while now.

Going with the Wynegar here, the airbrush job definitely worked against Eastwick.

1988 Topps #44 - Lou Piniella

Next up, baseball lifer Lou Piniella.  Lou was just embarking on his lengthy managerial career here.  Is that one of his World Series rings from his championships with the Yankees in the '70s that he's sporting there?

If it is, Roberto Pena is not impressed.  This is one of those cards that, while I can't exactly articulate why, I'm just drawn to for some reason.  I have a feeling most folks would go with the Piniella here...

...but it's my project, and I just like that Pena card too much to oust it at this point.  A Piniella from his playing days may have had a chance, but this one didn't make the cut.

1993 Topps #478 - Greg Cadaret

Sticking with the Yankees theme for a minute, here's an interesting horizontal shot of pitcher Greg Cadaret.  I like the photo here, and this set is one that I have fond memories of from my collecting youth.

This '78 Topps buyback of Red Sox color commentator Jerry Remy stands in Cadaret's path to franken-set glory.

Another easy call there.

1989 Topps #311 - Chris Bosio

Could Chris Bosio look any less excited to be included in the 1989 Topps baseball set?  Even a Brewers fan might have a hard time finding much to like about this buyback.

On the other hand, this '65 Orlando Pena, which is currently sitting in slot 311 of the binder, is a thing of beauty.  I'm a huge fan of the yellow and green KC A's uniforms of the '60s.

Took about 2 seconds to make that decision.  Half a dozen cards in, and not one new number for the franken-set so far.  Let's mix it up and finish out the post with a quartet of 2017 Heritage buybacks and see if they fare any better...

1968 Topps #591 - Dick Nen

A high number Cubbie starts us off.  In fact, at #591 this is my highest numbered buyback from the '60s so far.  I don't detest the burlap '68s like a lot of collectors seem to, but this one's hard to get excited about.

This '88 Doug Drabek buyback gets pitted against Dick Nen.

Drabek remains in the binder and Nen is off to the rejected box.  The presence of a baseball cap would've improved his chances.

1968 Topps #122 - Gene Mauch

Now that's more like it!  A manager card, which I'm a fan of generally speaking, and a much better photo to boot (complete with cap!).  The Phillies may have had a sub-par season in '68, finishing 8th in the National League with a sub-.500 record, but this one makes the binder as my first #122 buyback.  Gene Mauch to the rescue, preventing me from getting skunked on new numbers for the project this evening.

1968 Topps #114 - Ron Swoboda

Here's another nice one, featuring outfielder Ron Swoboda.  Ron, who was a member of the Miracle Mets team the year after this card was issued, drove in a career-high 59 runs in 1968.  Does he make the franken-set binder?

Well, there's already a '74 Topps Angels team card in slot 114.  Nolan Ryan and Frank Robinson were on the roster, however the team had a horrific year by any standard, managing just 68 wins.

Going with the Swoboda!

1968 Topps #380 - Ken Holtzman

Here's the last card for tonight, and maybe the best yet of my small lot of 2017 Heritage box-topper buybacks.  It's the only one I have from the All-Star subset anyway.  Holtzman's best years were actually still ahead of him here, including a couple of no-hitters!

A really good match-up here, as HOFer Dave Winfield laid claim to slot 380 a while back.

Once again saved by my 1990 Topps buyback set, as Dave will slide nicely into that binder.  The definition of a win/win for sure.

Just one new number today vs. nine conflicts, but the set still improved with a couple of new contenders battling their way into the binder.  Strengthening my 1990 buyback set with a couple of new cards including a guy enshrined in Cooperstown didn't hurt either.

Franken-set Progress:  522/792 (65%)
"Rejected" Buybacks:  406
Total Buybacks in Collection: 928
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