Monday, June 28, 2010

Completed Set - 1994 Upper Deck All-Star Baseball

Yes, I'm still around. It's been a while since I posted anything at all, and even longer since I posted something that wasn't vintage. Since I had a couple free hours today, I figured I would do a post on a smaller set from the 1990's. This set was released by Upper Deck in 1994 to commemorate the season's All-Star game, held in Pittsburgh. The set consists of 48 cards and comes in this nice green cardboard box for storage:

As you can see, the official 1994 All-Star game logo is foil stamped into the box, and we learn that the cards are going to feature the past and present photography of Walter Iooss Jr. Walter is a sports photography icon, with his shots gracing the cover of nearly 300 issues of Sports Illustrated! You can see some of his work on his website. Some of you may also recognize the name from the Iooss Collection insert set from 1993 Upper Deck. Let's see what the cards look like...

#1 - Ken Griffey Jr. - The fronts of the cards are pretty basic. Three of the edges are borderless, basically they are full bleed photos with a small green title bar across the bottom containing the player's name and the words "The Upper Deck Company". The same 1994 All-Star game logo that is on the front of the box is also foil stamped onto each card. Here is the coolest thing about the set though:

Yes, the cards are extra large in size. I scanned Griffey Jr. next to a standard size card so you can see the difference. The scan doesn't really do the card justice, but the sharp photography really stands out in the larger format. Here are some of my other favorites from the set...

#2 - Ruben Sierra - I always remember Ruben as a Ranger. I chose this card for a different reason though, to show what the backs look like:

90% of the cards feature just a small black section on the left back that contains a cropped version of the front photo with a little blurb about the player and the team logo at bottom. In the larger area on the right there is usually a different player pictured (always from the same team but generally a prospect or younger player). Ruben gets to share his card with Todd Van Poppel, probably one of the biggest busts from the early 90's.

#4 - Gregg Jefferies - Gregg was recently written about over at The Baseball Card Blog. I love the background on this one, what a great shot!

#5 - Ryne Sandberg - Most of the shots in the set are posed rather than action shots. Usually I prefer action but these posed photos are done so well I don't mind.

Some players are high profile enough to occupy the back of their own card as well. Either that or Iooss didn't have photos of any good Cubs prospects at the time.

#8 - Don Mattingly - I believe Don is standing in a hallway that connects a clubhouse and dugout. That's about all I have to say.

#12 - Mo Vaughn - Mo seems excessively sweaty, yet is wearing a jacket...

#14 - Kirby Puckett - This might be my favorite photo in the set. Fantastic picture of the late great Puckett...

#15 - Cal Ripken Jr.

#16 - Roberto Alomar - This would be pretty boring if it weren't for all the Jays helmets in the background.

#17 - Tony Gwynn

#20 - Randy Johnson - Randy's most likely talking with his BFF. I like the empty Gatorade cups lurking in the background.

#22 - Will Clark - I've recently started adding to my Clark player collection again, so this was a pleasant surprise.

#24 - John Olerud

#29 - Kenny Lofton - Always good when some clouds appear on a card.

#30 - Mark Grace - This card really reminds me of the 1974 Topps Steve Garvey.

#32 - Ramon Martinez - Another great shot, this one featuring little brother Pedro in Expos uniform.

#33 - David Justice - One of the few (sort of) action shots in the set...

#36 - Jeff Bagwell

#38 - Jeff Kent - Free advertising for Budweiser.

#39 - Andres Galarraga

#40 - Frank Thomas - The Big Hurt in the midst of a contemplative stare.

#43 - Cincinnati Red Stockings - 1869 - The last 6 cards of the set make an awkward attempt at summarizing baseball's first 125 years. They don't really fit with the set. First of all, this set is based around the '94 All-Star game, so why wouldn't they use these 6 cards to discuss the history of the All-Star game specifically? Not only that, but trying to summarize 125 years of baseball on 6 cards seems pretty futile.

Here's the back describing how the Red Stockings became the first professional baseball team back in 1869. Click on the image of any of these backs for a larger, easier to read scan.

#44 - Ty Cobb - 1915 - Jump ahead over 40 years and we have a Ty Cobb card, representing the Dead Ball Era. The black and white action shot is awesome.

As you can see, the backs of all cards have an Upper Deck hologram just like standard sized Upper Deck cards. This way you know your card is not a counterfeit, or so they claim.

#45 - Babe Ruth - 1927 - My one gripe with this card is that Ruth was playing with the Yankees in 1927, and in fact had not been on the Red Sox since 1919. I'm not sure why they chose a photo of the Sultan of Swat in a Sox jersey for a card that says 1927 on it.

#46 - Mickey Mantle - 1953

#47 - Reggie Jackson - 1977 - Man I despise Reggie. I know he was the man, especially in the clutch, but for whatever reason he's one of those players I've just never liked much...

#48 - Ken Griffey Jr. - 1993 - Griffey Jr. is the last card in the set, since he "symbolizes baseball's renewal".

Included in the box was this insert:

Unfortunately I missed the deadline by about 16 years or so. It's too bad, because it would be nice to have a binder to display these oversize cards in.

Finally, here is the back of the box, which contains an alphabetical checklist. If you'd like to see a card that I didn't show, just leave a comment and I'll post it for you.

All in all, I have to say this wasn't a bad set. I bought this a while back from Dave and Adam's Card World, and I think I paid about $5. I'm pretty satisfied given that this is the price of many single packs of modern day product.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Can You Remember What Your First Vintage Card Was?

I can still recall the very first vintage card I ever owned. I must've been around 8 years old when I accompanied my Dad one Saturday to an antique shop in Putnam, Connecticut. These were generally boring trips for me, as I had little to no interest in looking at what I felt as a kid to be other people's junk. This one particular trip was different though, as we stumbled upon a small cardboard box containing an assortment of 1950's Bowman cards. There weren't any stars, just a bunch of commons, but they were in relatively decent shape. I think the cards were just a couple of bucks a piece, and my Dad told me I could pick any 3 that I wanted. Being obsessed at the time with the Boston Red Sox, I instantly grabbed a 1950 Bowman Maurice McDermott. I also picked out two 1952 Bowman cards as well, which I will save for another post...

Once I got a bit older and moved on to other interests, I carefully packed up my childhood card collection and moved onto other things like music and girls, as I'm sure a lot of boys my age did at the time. Unfortunately I haven't recovered the '50 Bowman McDermott to this day, so I picked up this graded copy on the cheap on eBay recently to fill in. Hopefully someday I will find my old beat up copy to put back in my collection where it belongs. The thing I remember most about picking this card up is the back:

I distinctly recall my father chuckling over the fact that they referred to McDermott as "String-bean Maury". This will always be one of my favorite vintage cards just because of the memories it evokes. Not to mention, to an 8 year old this 1950 card featuring a player from my beloved hometown team might as well have been a T206 Honus Wagner!

How about you, do you recall what the first vintage card you ever got was?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1953 Topps Project - Post #40

#18 - Ted Lepcio - Boston Red Sox

The 40th card in my 1953 Topps baseball set is the very first Red Sox player on the checklist, Ted Lepcio. Like many of the players I've featured so far, Lepcio is not exactly a Hall-of-Famer or even a household name for that matter. Lepcio played ten seasons, the majority of them (just over 7) for the Boston Red Sox. Known as a utility infielder, he finished his career with a .245 average, 69 home runs and 251 RBI.

What I didn't realize until stumbling across a great Boston Globe article is that Lepcio remained a fan of the game long after retiring, enough so that he was a season ticket holder at Fenway park for over 3 decades! To read this interesting article, which touches on, amongst other things, how Lepcio met President Harry Truman on the field during his first major league start, go here. The highlight of the article has to be his complaint about watching modern day baseball:

''It's discouraging when there are two strikes and it's the first inning and everybody stands. It's like being in church, for gosh sakes, up and down, up and down."

Set Status: 40/274 (15%)

Friday, June 4, 2010

California Golden Seals!

A recent post by Captain Canuck on goaltender Gary Simmons got me thinking about the California Golden Seals, so I decided to dig up a few from my collection:

1973 Topps #95 - Golden Seals Team - The Seals franchise became a part of the NHL in 1967, one of 6 expansion teams added that year. They would remain in the NHL throughout the 75-76 season, after which they relocated to Cleveland to become the Barons. In their first year they were simply known as the California Seals, then until 1970 were the Oakland Seals. For their final 6 seasons though they were known as the California Golden Seals. This beat up card from the 1973-74 Topps set is the only Seals team card I own I think...

1970-71 O-Pee-Chee #190 - Ted Hampson - Ted is the first of a trio of 70-71 OPC Seals I won cheap on eBay a while back. He was quite the gentleman apparently, as he won both the Masterson trophy in the NHL and the Paul Deneau Trophy (most gentlemanly player) in the WHA. If you can believe Wikipedia he is currently employed by the Colorado Avalanche as their chief scout...

1970-71 O-Pee-Chee #191 - Earl Ingarfield - I won't lie, I know next to nothing about Earl. 1970-71 was his final season, and apparently his son saw a few games of NHL action as well.

1970-71 O-Pee-Chee #192 - Dick Mattiussi - Rounding out the 70-71 OPC trio, another guy I know nothing about. Isn't that jersey great though?

1970-71 Topps #69 - Gary Smith - As part of the same auction, I got a single 70-71 Topps card. I'm pretty much a sucker for any goalie card that features the old-style brown pads. Smith went on to have greater success after leaving the Golden Seals. In 1971-72 with the Blackhawks he split duties with Tony Esposito and the two were co-awarded the Vezina Trophy that season. Random trivia fact, Smith gave up the final WHA goal ever scored.

1971-72 Topps #73 - Bert Marshall - I only have a handful of cards from the 71-72 set, and that's a shame. It has to be one of the best hockey sets released in the 1970's in my opinion. Bert joins Doug Roberts as my second Golden Seal from the set. On a side note, I really like the Seals logo on this card.

1974-75 Topps #56 - Team Leaders - As you can see, Joey Johnston was the man for the Seals in the 73-74 season. How weird is it that scoring percentage was a stat that made it onto this card? Someday I'll get off my butt and complete this set...

1974-75 Topps #205 - Gilles Meloche - Finally we have one last card from the 74-75 Topps set. Here we have the atrocious green road jerseys and once again some great brown pads.

Well there you have it, a random bunch of California Golden Seals from the collection!

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