Monday, February 28, 2011

All Things Appear Given Enough Time

The final piece of dayf's bipping, from last year, was revealed today. Yes, I probably had too much time on my hands last year.

Oh, one more thing... that Braves hat? It had a future home on Greg Maddux's head.

Cardboard From My Neck Of The Woods

I know what I'll be collecting this year. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is about two towns over to the south of where I live. I last visited the cemetery in the summer of 2010. It's a peaceful and serene place that's in serious need of proper upkeep and restoration. Supposedly, it's one of the most haunted places in North America. I haven't personally seen any evidence of that though.

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Alexei Ramirez

Card #10 - Alexei Ramirez

Sunday, February 27, 2011

WSC Vintage: Jim Goodwin

Card #35 - Jim Goodwin

The 1948 White Sox finished forty-four and a half games out of first place. 101 games in the loss column was good enough for last place. It was also the first season for GM Frank Lane, who would make 241 trades in the course of seven years.

On November 10, 1947, the White Sox drafted Jim from the New York Giants. Goodwin made his MLB debut on April 24, 1948, in St. Louis, in a loss to the Browns. He started the fifth inning, giving up one hit, one walk and three runs, while also hitting a batter. Jim left the game after a third of an inning with a 81.00 ERA. This would not go down as the best start to any MLB career.

By the time his final game rolled around, on May 30, 1948, Goodwin managed to lower his ERA to a more respectable 8.71. It wasn't great, but much better than how it started out.

Jim was optioned to the minors and spent time with the AAA affiliate, the Hollywood Stars, and the AA Sox affiliate, the Memphis Chickasaws. Goodwin played for the Chickasaws until the 1950 season. After that, he fell off the radar.

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Lastings Milledge

Card #9 - Lastings Milledge

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Anthony Carter

Card #8 - Anthony Carter

Cards That Never Were #43

1976 Topps - Cleon Jones

The man who caught the final out of the 1969 World Series would eventually be run out of New York due to a clashing of personalities. While with the Mets, Cleon had a powerful arm and a hot bat.

While on extended Spring Training in Florida during 1975, after suffering a knee injury, Jones was found asleep in a van with a 21-year-old woman, who was charged with possession of marijuana. Even though the charges were dropped against Cleon, the Mets chairman fined him $2,000 and forced him to apologize at a press conference. In July 1975, Jones found himself in an altercation with manager Yogi Berra and was released.

The White Sox signed Cleon in April 1976. In twelve games for the Sox, he clawed out 8 hits, including one double, and three RBI, while hitting a low .200 in forty-seven plate appearances. Even in the mid-seventies, this was not enough to keep Jones employed.

His last game was on May 1, 1976, at Comiskey Park, against the Tigers. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. In his last plate appearance, leading off the bottom of the ninth, he flew out to right fielder Ben Oglivie, who pinch ran for Rusty Staub in the previous inning. According to records, he was officially released the day before. Cleon chose to retire after being released by the White Sox.

Friday, February 25, 2011

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Jake Peavy

Card #7 - Jake Peavy

Mailbox Joys: The Big Heart

1996 Frank Thomas The Big Heart #1 (989/3500)

Frank Thomas and Leaf teamed up to create a limited four card set to benefit the Frank Thomas Charitable Foundation. Each card was made available for a $20 donation.

It does make me feel good that the proceeds from the original purchase went to charity. I, however, was able to find mine at auction on eBay. I came in at the last minute and won it for $1.35, plus $2.50 shipping.

It was almost serendipitous. I discovered the 1997 set while thumbing through my 2008 SCD. I decided to check eBay to see if there were any floating around. I had absolutely no intention of purchasing a card.

I found two examples on eBay. One was from the 1997 version, but I saw a 1996 version at 99 cents with a minute left. I put in a low bid, expecting to be outbid at the last second. Surprisingly, I won the auction! This almost never happens anymore. Someone usually overtakes my highest bid with seconds left. Lately, I haven't had enough in the PayPal account to seriously look for anything. This was something that I could not pass up. Fate made me do it!
In the end, I have a nice limited card that was created for a great purpose, and it didn't break the bank to obtain it. Not too shabby.

Card Spotlight: 2-25-11

1953 Bowman Color #36 - Minnie Minoso

This is the card that launched a thousand Tim Raines poses. Although Minnie had enough humility to not look straight into the camera while thinking of a meet cute story.

I can guarantee with some amount of certainty that Minoso was not thinking how great it would be to play professional ball in seven different decades. Although, what if he was? Who's to say that the dreamy look wasn't inspired by a "what if" scenario of playing the game that he loved until it was no longer physically possible? I wouldn't discourage that line of thinking!

Whatever the actual story behind hat priceless look, it does create a stunning card. One that practically begs you to stop and take notice. The colors may be muted, but that picture says everything that the colors cannot. This is a card of happiness. Of hope. Of impossible dreams.

One can't help but be partially inspired by a card like this. If I believe in myself, then I can accomplish anything. Maybe that's the message that Minnie was thinking about in this photograph. We may never know what is behind the scenes, but we will take away any positive message from the evidence left. Isn't that all that you can expect from a great baseball card? Every card should strive to achieve these lofty goals. A card like this can bring inner peace. If only to the collector lucky enough to have a card that's slightly younger than the span of the subject's lengthy career.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spiegel Is An Awesome Trader

This is the third trade I've done with Spiegel, if I'm remembering correctly. Each trade seems to top the last. We both get cards that we enjoy, which is the best reason to trade.

I'm usually not concerned with the big splash trade. Unless it is ridiculously out of proportion, I'll usually throw in whatever I can. As long as I'm getting something I need, I'm very satisfied. If I trade with someone often enough, I figure that it will even out eventually.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, that works. I don't spend sleepless nights worrying about book value. I do keep my eye out for certain cards. If I spot something at a bargain that I know someone else will enjoy, I'll usually pick it up and send it along, if it's within my budget, or I get a kick butt deal. Quite a number of bloggers can attest to that, over the years.

Even though I follow those simple guidelines, when a trade happens that even blows my expectations out of the water, I can't help but feel uneasy, in a good way. It's almost like getting into a horrible car wreck and walking away without a scratch or a hair out of place. You don't know quite what aligned to make it happen, but you are ecstatic that it happened that way.

I know these are terrible analogies for a card trade, but I couldn't think of any other way to describe the feeling.

I had pulled a Kurt Suzuki manufactured patch from my first blaster of 2011 Topps. I knew this was one of the few players that Spiegel collects, so I put it aside for him, to mail a few weeks later, along with a few other cards. I figured that this would be pretty hard to top. That is until I received an e-mail from Spiegel informing me that he just pulled something that was right up my alley.

A 2009 T206 Carolina Brights mini of A.J. Pierzynski!
Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that this is a 1/1 parallel. So my reaction was somewhat like this.

At least on the inside, that is.

In addition to that 1/1 blessing, Spiegel knocked off seventeen more cards from my want list, including five from the UD Documentary set and a 2011 John Danks Diamond Anniversary parallel.

Thanks, Spiegel! This was a great trade! I hope you enjoyed the cards that I sent over. I'm looking forward to trading again soon.

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Juan Pierre

Card #6 - Juan Pierre

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm Finally Organized

OK. There are all of my standard size White Sox doubles, organized by year and set. Hopefully, I'll never have to go through that major of a restructuring. I found a few cards that never quite made it into the binders and a few that weren't checked off my list. Yeah, I slacked for awhile. This is the first (and hardest) step in a reorganization plan that will see my search for cards dwindle, if all goes according to plan.

I got rid of all the stray opened packs that have littered my desk for the past few years. Instead of reliving the experience of opening a pack every time I went in search of trade bait, I'll have everything together by team, then year, then set. I think I may have saved myself a few days worth of searching per year. It also opens up valuable drawer space in my desk and helps start other organizing projects, now that this will be found all in one place.

Over the rest of the week, my want list will be changing. I've weeded out all the cards for the binders. Now, I'll check the binders against the online list and get a very accurate account of what my White Sox needs are. The lists are pretty accurate, but there should be no debate after this is done.

The last step is actually the easiest. Put the rest of the teams in order. They are already separated, so it just a matter of getting them organized. That shouldn't be too difficult.

It's been fun going through all the Sox cards, but it's not something I would want to do again anytime soon. Going through the binders is another matter. I always enjoy my time through there.

For those curious.

Row 1: 1960 Topps - 1988 Sportflics
Row 2: 1988 Topps - 1990 - Fleer Baseball MVP
Row 3: 1990 Kay-Bee - 1991 U.S. Playing Card Co.
Row 4: 1992 Bowman - 1995 Upper Deck Michael Jordan
Row 5: 1996 Bowman - 2006 Upper Deck Special FX Player Highlights
Row 6: 2007 Allen & Ginter - 2008 Upper Deck
Row 7: 2008 Upper Deck Diamond Collection - 2010 Upper Deck Tape Measure Shots

And no, I don't keep any fifties doubles in any cardboard boxes.

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Brent Lillibridge

Card #5 - Brent Lillibridge

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WSC Cactus League 2011 - A.J. Pierzynski

Card #4 - A.J. Pierzynski

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Kyle Bellamy

Card #3 - Kyle Bellamy

Random Card #42

Has it been almost two years since I put a Random Card on the blog? Yep. How time flies.

I'm still on the lookout for a definitive guide on all the variations and bonus cards for Starting Lineup. Beckett's online guide is a good place to start, but it isn't the "be all, end all" that some claim. It is a pretty good start and that's something.

Maybe it's because I didn't collect the Starting Lineup figures, as a kid. Maybe it's because the cards aren't the main attraction. Whatever the case, I'm drawn to these cards like a moth to the flickering light bulb as it mistakes it for the sun and loses all sense of direction. It's a directionless path, but it is rewarding, when you figure out just what is going on. Perhaps that may not be the best analogy for Starting Lineup cards, but it works for me.

I was reminded of this Ozzie Guillen card on Sunday, while listening to 670 The Score in the car. I recently found an image for this card, so this was the freshest card image of Ozzie in my mind. Some weekend fill host was basically filling time on the radio and the general topic was the White Sox. The host may have been a regular, but I rarely listen on the weekends. The impression that I got was that the host didn't get on too often.

The specific topic of conversation was Mark Buehrle's comments about Michael Vick. The host insisted on letting the listening audience know that he was a Cubs fan, several times, but liked Buehrle enough because he stuck by his words. Fair enough. I can admire anyone for sticking with their principles. The show was nothing but caller after caller, which is a good sign that the host is not a regular, or needs a crutch. Then the host took a call from a listener, which left my mouth agape.

This caller wished harm of Mark Buehrle because of the comments he made about Michael Vick. That didn't surprise me in the least. I've heard a few reactions like that. It's a perfectly natural response to a comment which is very specific and precise like he made. The caller then proceeded to inform the host that he already successfully wished harm upon a player last year. Jake Peavy was that player.

Clearly, this guy is about four eggs short of the dozen. The host plays along and asks if he's a Cubs fan. No, the guy replies. The host asks him what team he does root for. The caller says that he'll never tell. The host delves into some time filling guessing game, trying to uncover the team that he roots for. The caller had enough and stopped the host short by claiming that even if he guessed the correct team, he would never say.

The host then asks why he would want harm to come to Buehrle and Peavy. His answer... "Because I don't like their coach."

Straight out of left field. That would be anyone's rational answer to not liking Ozzie Guillen. Bring serious harm to anyone that plays for him. It's those kinds of calls to radio stations that get your phone tapped by the police to make sure that you're not a threat.

Part of me thought the call was hilarious. Part of me thought that the caller sounded like Charles Manson on a tirade. As soon as Ozzie was alluded to, this 1991 Starting Lineup card was the one the popped in my head.

These are the things that make me tune out sports radio on the weekends. This is also why I'm addicted to cards. You learn to take the good with the bad. Especially when the good happens to conjure random cards in your brain.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The 400 Level Diamond Code Giveaway

It seemed easy enough. Leave a comment over a The 400 Level about your favorite Topps card. Simple, right? Well, I was one of the winners of a code over at Topps Diamond Giveaway.

I entered the free code and got...
I'm a little underwhelmed, but free is free and when trading finally opens, maybe a Cubs fan or a set completist can take this card off of my hands. Or maybe it will be stuck in my portfolio forever. Either way, it's still free and pretty cool.

Unlocking another card gave me another dig. And with that dig, I got...
My first duplicate ring. Who knows. This may be the key to getting that final ring, once ring trading is up and running.

Thanks, Josh! This was a great and unique contest. Best of all, it was fun!

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Josh Phegley

Card #2 - Josh Phegley

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WSC Cactus League 2011 - Jesse Crain

Card #1 - Jesse Crain

Cards That Never Were #42

1968 Topps - Giants Rookies

Only twenty teams existed in the Major Leagues in 1968. With those odds, you would think that every team would have a rookies card in the 1968 Topps set. Think again.

The Giants were without a rookies card in 1968, even though they had at least four viable candidates. All four of those possible rookies card candidates had more than a cup of coffee career. Three of those player's careers were over by the early seventies, but one played until 1981. That player would be Bobby Bonds.

Bobby would end up hitting over 300 home runs and steal over 400 bases in his 14 year career. While there's no crystal ball in knowing what rookies are capable of doing what in their career, Bobby's wasn't exactly under the radar. He had already hit 67 home runs in three years, at two different levels in the minor leagues, before the 1968 season. He started 1968 in AAA Phoenix and started tearing up the Pacific Coast League with a .370 average, which resulted in being called up.

Hindsight is 20/20, but this almost seems like a no-brainer. This is Bobby Bonds' second appearance in this series.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Card Spotlight: 2-18-11

1979 Topps Comics #5 - Chet Lemon

OK. So technically this isn't a card, but that won't stop me from spotlighting it. This was a test issue by Topps. It seems like all the cool oddities were test issues and the regular issue oddball issues lack in comparison. Instead of a cloth set, which Topps has tried a few times (and I still think they're cool), this comic was wrapped around gum.

Yes, this was produced back when Topps thought it was still a gum company. Isn't it funny how a company's priorities shift once public opinion gets involved? And yes, I am aware that Bazooka gum is still around. So please no snarky comments about it in the comments.

If you were alive and following baseball in the seventies and eighties, then you'll remember how impressed people were with hitting .300 and getting 55 RBIs for the season. We were easily impressed back then. It was also a time where you could see yourself on a baseball diamond and you always checked out your neighbors carefully, because they just might be the 25th man on your favorite team. Or they could have been secretly working for the Crimson Guard. Come to think of it, there were an awful lot of "Fred's" in the neighborhood back then. Regardless if they were working for MLB or Extensive Enterprises, they have all moved away by now.

It's still jarring to see Chet Lemon in a White Sox uniform. Yes, he was with the White Sox for seven years, but the majority of the games I saw Chet play in were when he wore the Detroit uniform. He did play there for nine years after the Sox, after all. It's always a treat to see him in a Sox uniform. Even if it's a cartoon depiction of him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dig It!

The Diamond Dig at Diamond Topps is finally working! I redeemed six codes the other day, so I should have six digs at the site. My first dig turns up...
A Montreal Expos ring! That's pretty cool. The Expos were one of my favorite NL teams growing up.

My next dig turned up a St. Louis Cardinals ring. I'm beginning to suspect that these rings may not be as rare as I was led to believe.

The next dig turned up an Atlanta Braves ring. Yes. Yes. These are not rare, but they look kinda cool.

My fourth dig turned up...
A Seattle Pilots ring!!! OK. That is officially cool!

My fifth dig is an instant winner! My prize is a pack of vintage cards!

Vintage, my ass!

My final dig uncovers....
A Jackie Robinson ring and a free code.

The code unlocks.....

A 2007 Mark Ellis.



I do get another dig though and it turns up...

A Pittsburgh Pirates ring.

OK. I'm done for tonight.

Here is my entire virtual ring collection for your viewing pleasure.
Six rings. Shenanigans and pyewp, which could be interchangeable dependent on my mood.

Yeah, I'm done for tonight.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Phantom Strikes Back

If you've been a long time reader of the blog, or just like going through the archives for kicks, you may recall this Card Spotlight about the 1972 Topps Rich Robertson card.

Rich Robertson was purchased by the White Sox, from the Giants, on February 7, 1972. On March 19, 1972, just a month and a half later, Rich was returned to the Giants. On March 27, 1972, Robertson was released by the Giants.

He never played a game for the White Sox, other than possibly a few Spring Training exhibitions. At some point in 1972, Rich is picked up by Atlanta and played one season, sporting an atrocious 7-11 record, with 20 games started. There are no records of Robertson playing after that.

The most striking detail about this Topps card, after the fact that he never played for the Sox, is the absolutely horrid airbrush job the Topps artists did painting the White Sox uniform on Robertson. Nothing about the hat or the undershirt looks even remotely real.

Now that this image is ingrained in your brain, I'd like to show you something far worse.
This is the 1972 Venezuelan sticker of Rich Robertson. The same badly doctored picture is used as on the Topps card. This time, the image is washed out so that everything appears as a watercolor portrait. Instead of just the hat and undershirt appearing cartoonish, the face and background also appears washed and colored. It takes the attention off the hat and undershirt and puts it back on the subject, who looks like they should be in an ancient holiday animated special. Hmmm.... maybe that's actually an improvement.

WSC Birth Years: Jerry Reinsdorf

Card #NNO - Jerry Reinsdorf

Born: February 25, 1936

As owner of the White Sox since 1981 and owner of the Bulls since 1985, Jerry Reinsdorf has helped bring seven World Championships to the city of Chicago. Six were with the Bulls, during the Michael Jordan era, and one was with the White Sox in 2005. The way both teams are currently setup, there may be more rings in the future.

Reinsdorf's decisions haven't always been popular, but winning has a way of changing attitudes in a city starved for championship caliber teams. Publicly, he has used unpopular means to negotiate new stadiums for both his teams. Jerry has been noted as being an early advocate for steroid testing in baseball.

Reinsdorf is heavily involved in charitable work in Chicago and was involved in Mayor Richard M. Daley's initiative to improve standardized test scores in the Chicago Public Schools. Through White Sox Charities, over two million dollars has been donated to the Chicago Park District, with attention given to funding baseball and softball fields.

I thought I'd have a little fun with this one. If you don't recognize the card design, it's most likely because I didn't choose to make a 1936 Goudey. Instead, I chose S & S Games from 1936 as the inspiration for this Birth Years card. It seems like we've been hit over the head with Goudey the past few years, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring out a design that only hardcore collectors might spot.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The First Inaugural WSC Hall Of Fame Results

The voting is completed and there were 90 total voters. Not a bad turnout, I must say.

While watching the voting progress, I was surprised at a few things. Everyone got at least three votes. This is something I did not expect. A few of the players were from before the fifties, so I wasn't expecting them to get many votes. Voting also tended to trend towards certain players at different intervals. There also seemed to be a last minute push for a few players. Those who started off with big leads saw them shrink and vice versa.

There was one player elected this year and three players received too few votes to be on next year's ballot.

Congratulations to Frank Thomas for being the first player inducted into the WSC Hall of Fame!

Mike Tresh, Roberto Hernandez and Jerry Staley will not be returning on next year's ballot. This means that in addition to a new player at first base, there will be new players at catcher, middle relief and closer.

Thank you to everyone who voted!

Here are the final totals.

Frank Thomas - 70 votes (77%)
Joe Jackson - 59 votes (65%)
Luis Aparicio - 58 votes (64%)
Nellie Fox - 55 votes (61%)
Harold Baines - 44 votes (48%)
Robin Ventura - 28 votes (31%)
Al Lopez - 17 votes (18%)
Oscar Gamble - 11 votes (12%)
Gary Peters - 9 votes (10%)
Fielder Jones - 6 votes (6%)
Mike Tresh - 4 votes (4%)
Roberto Hernandez - 3 votes (3%)
Jerry Staley - 3 votes (3%)

Monday, February 14, 2011

WSC Cactus League 2011

It's that time of year again. Spring Training is upon us. Pitchers and catcher and early birds report today.

There are some players reporting that will obviously make the team at some point in the season. Others may never suit up for the White Sox at the Major League level. This is my attempt to capture every player who is invited to Spring Training for the White Sox.

There will be the regular stars, the new additions, the rookies and the players looking for one miracle shot. The pictures will be taken from this year's Spring Training.

The design of the WSC Cactus League cards is a bit whimsical. The overall design is meant to reflect the looseness of Spring Training. It's a lot of hard work in the spring, but it doesn't have the same intensity as the regular season.

When the first pictures from Sox camp start to filter in, this set will officially launch.

Voting Ends Tonight!

5% of the ballot keeps the player on for next year. 75% of the ballot gets him in the WSC Hall of Fame.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Card Spotlight: 2-11-11

2011 Topps Diamond #153 - A.J. Pierzynski

The first Diamond variation of a White Sox card that I pulled out of a retail pack was A.J. It seems fitting that the player that gives others the most fits would be my first White Sox pull that features thousands of shiny distractions in the background.

The card blogging community has officially gone ape over these variations. Yes, I happen to be one of them. The scan may not do the card justice, but these look way cooler in person. It features the kind of light refracting display that will delight children and adults alike. Those adults under the influence of mind enhancing stimulants and depressants may get more mileage than the rest of us. I can really imagine someone in an altered state being fascinated for hours at a time. Me? I'm satisfied with ten seconds at a time. Unless someone tampered with the Arnold Palmer that I'm drinking, I highly doubt that I'll need more time to take it all in.

Right now, it's unclear just how many of these cards have been made. The print run hasn't been listed. It's my guess that these will be fairly common and will be easier to obtain than the gold parallels. I hope to eventually complete the master White Sox team set. I think that is a reasonable goal.

These parallels are certainly eye catching, but I'm glad that they are only a one year thing. Topps has a tendency to run things into the ground. Leave this one alone, Topps, and restrict it to the three series for this year only. Let's not ruin this special thing that we have going right now.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

1998 Lemon Chill White Sox

This set, sponsored by Lemon Chill, was a stadium giveaway during the 1998 season. It would be the first year of three consecutive sets from Lemon Chill.

The design on this set stands out among other team issued sets. The flames on the left and bottom of the card create a very distinct touch that isn't found on any other team issued cards.

The back features a large Lemon Chill logo and a complete set of 1997 stats for each destination of each player. For instance, Robin Ventura's stats for Birmingham and Nashville are presented for his minor league rehab assignment during the 1997 season, as well as his stats with the White Sox.

This set also features one of the first cards of Magglio Ordonez. We also see Bryan Ward wearing number 56 a few seasons before Mark Buehrle would permanently take it over.

The team set consists of thirty cards. They are listed by uniform number.

5 - Ray Durham
7 - Jerry Manuel
8 - Albert Belle
10 - Chris Snopek
12 - Wil Cordero
15 - Chad Kreuter
17 - Mike Caruso
22 - Charlie O'Brien
23 - Robin Ventura
24 - Mike Cameron
29 - Keith Foulke
30 - Magglio Ordonez
31 - Greg Norton
33 - Mike Sirotka
35 - Frank Thomas
36 - Scott Eyre
37 - James Baldwin
38 - Jaime Navarro
40 - Jim Parque
41 - Bill Simas
43 - Carlos Castillo
45 - Jeff Abbott
47 - Matt Karchner
56 - Bryan Ward
59 - John Snyder
62 - Bobby Howry
NNO - Wallace Johnson (#18, 3rd base coach), Bryan Little (#20, 1st base coach)
NNO - Nardi Contreras (#54, pitching coach), Von Joshua (hitting coach)
NNO - Joe Nossek (#21, bench coach), Art Kusnyer (#53, bullpen coach)
NNO - Mark Salas (#58, bullpen catcher), Steve Odgers (director of conditioning), Herm Schneider (head trainer), Mark Anderson (assistant trainer)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Hostess Surprise And The Drafting Mistakes

A quick and dirty card trade with JT of The Writer's Journey. Among some brand spanking new 2011 White Sox cards and a smattering of 2010, 2009 and junk wax era goodness, was this gem of Ron Blomberg from 1978 Hostess.

Blomberg has a pained expression on his face. It could be that the strain of injuries was catching up with him. It could be that he somehow knew that this would be his last season in the majors. Maybe, just maybe, he was looking into a future that saw him manage the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox to a championship in the Israel Baseball League's only season in 2007.

Another highlight was the inclusion of a Jason Stumm autograph, numbered 867/2500, from the 2000 Royal Rookies set. Jason was the #1 draft pick for the White Sox in 1999 (15th overall). He spent seven seasons in the White Sox minor league organization, climbing no higher than a brief stint at AA in 2003. Yes, the White Sox drafting program was in need of a major overhaul. It finally may have gotten a good one a few years ago.

The amount of talent that the White Sox passed on to pick Stumm is astounding. Alex Rios was taken a few picks later. Brian Roberts, Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Justin Morneau, J.J. Putz, Erik Bedard, Aaron Harang, Coco Crisp, Marlon Byrd, Albert Pujols, Jake Peavy, and Lyle Overbay were all picked after Jason Stumm. I stopped looking for star players after the 18th round, but I think the point has been made.

I've never claimed to be an expert at the draft process, but when this much major league talent slips by, something is broken. Of the 54 players chosen by the White Sox in the June draft of 1999, only 10 made it to the majors.

Let's review the 10 players who played in the majors.

Matt Ginter - 1st round (22nd) Signed with the Sox in 1999 and debuted for them in 2000.
Dan Wright - 2nd round (64th) Signed with the Sox in 1999 and debuted for them in 2001.
Bobby Hill - 2nd round (66th) Did not sign. Signed by Cubs in 2000 and debuted with the Cubs in 2002.
Jon Rauch - 3rd round (99th) Signed with the Sox in 1999 and debuted with them in 2002.
Josh Stewart - 5th round (159th) Signed with Sox in 1999 and debuted with them in 2003.
David Sanders - 6th round (189th) Signed with the Sox in 1999 and debuted in 2003.
Matt Guerrier - 10th round (309th) Signed by the Sox in 1999 and debuted with the Twins in 2004.
Scott Hairston - 18th round (549th) Did not sign. Debuted with the Diamondbacks in 2004.
Joe Valentine - 26th round (789th) Signed with the Sox in 1999, Debuted with the Reds in 2003.
Jeff Bajenaru - 36th round (1089th) Signed in with the Sox in 2000. Debuted with them in 2004.

That's not exactly the track record of a great team. I'm pleased that the drafting has gotten better as of late and I'm sorry for rambling about a 12 year old draft during a trade post.

In a round about way, thanks JT! I really appreciated the package! It was certainly much more entertaining than I could have ever imagined.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blog Bat Around: Fixing Topps Baseball

Stale Gum has just posted the latest Blog Bat Around!

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

I will limit myself with fixing the series one base set. I could go on for hours about a full 2011 plan for the company.

Every year, Topps loads its base set with inserts and gimmicks. Now that they are the only licensed baseball card company out there, Topps doesn’t need to rush to beat the competition. The focus should be on quality over quantity.

Let’s hit the rewind button on Topps’ 2011 line. As much as it pains me to say, the parallels have been around for awhile and collectors expect them now. I would keep the gold, black and platinum parallels.

The retail parallel sets for Wal-Mart and Target, I would still keep. Instead of making them two packs to a blaster, I would have them sold in parallel only blasters and mark them as such. This way, the collectors who don’t care for this parallel won’t feel gypped out of two packs and the rest have a better shot at completing the set. These retail only parallel blasters would only have the inserts specific to each store(red diamond and blue diamond inserts). There will be more bang for your buck for set builders.

The sixtieth anniversary is a special time in any company’s life. I would keep the Platinum Diamond parallel set, as a way of commemorating this event. I would skip the Diamond Canary parallel set.

The Diamond Sparkle (or twinks, if you prefer) would have never been approved. This sort of gimmick will be a thing of the past. It is pointless and irritating. The Red Sox uniform variations would go as well.

The Diamond Anniversary code cards would remain. This is how you engage a community of card collectors. It is fun. It gives away older cards. There are opportunities to unlock special cards. This is a winner.

The Legends Variations are something that I would keep. It serves a purpose, isn’t distracting and is challenging enough to complete, while still being realistically obtainable.

Pointless inserts like, Diamond Duos and 60 Years of Topps would be whisked away. Topps 60 would remain. The 60 Years of Topps: Lost Cards would be developed into a full separate set, along the lines of my own Cards That Never Were series.

The Kimball Champions insert set would remain. This is something slightly different and seems like a good buffer in the middle of packs. The Ticket To Toppstown would remain. Why punish those who actually use the codes?

The rest would remain, but I would spread out the remainder over both hobby and retail, with hobby packs having better odds. Again, why punish those who can only get to a Wal-Mart or Target? There are just some places where a card shop isn’t a viable enough business to sustain.

The most important thing I would do with the company is put a ten year moratorium on Mickey Mantle and 1952 Topps. There will be no cards made using Mickey Mantle or the 1952 Topps design. Enough is enough. The break will be well deserved and create more consumer demand for each when the moratorium is up. This business design has worked well with Disney products in creating consumer demand. This is the perfect venture to try this line of marketing. Mickey Mantle and 1952 Topps will be put back into the “vault” for ten years.

If the person responsible for putting Cy Young on a 1987 Topps design hasn’t already been fired, they will be immediately fired.

No airbrushing of uniforms allowed. Let’s wait until someone is actually in uniform until presenting them on that team. This is why there are three series of cards for the base set. Again, with Topps being the only licensed game in town, there’s not an immediate need to rush these things out.

My last bit of business would be to spread it around. What I mean by that is that the focus will be shifted off of the “go to” teams, like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and such and will be evened out. Each team will be as equally represented as can possibly be. Not many people need five cards of Ichiro in a set. There are twenty-four other players on the Mariners at any given time. It’s OK to choose some other player to represent the Mariners. Unless you are a Yankees fan, most collectors don’t have much use for a ton of Yankees cards.

Tying in with the spreading around initiative would be a return to every player being represented with a card. I would sacrifice a few cards of Alex Rodriguez for a few cards of relievers. There’s room for everybody.

An Envelope From Geoffrey

Another big thank you goes out to Geoffrey from Chewing Liquorice for a package.

There were only four cards in this envelope, but they didn't disappoint! All of the cards were odd sized, ranging from 3 1/2 x 5 inches all the way to 5 x 7 inches.

1986 Donruss All-Stars #25 - Harold Baines
1994 OPC All-Stars Jumbo Foil #1 - Frank Thomas
1994 OPC All-Stars Jumbo Foil #14 - Jack McDowell
1998 Collector's Choice Cover Glory 5 x 7 #8 - Frank Thomas

These are officially awesome! Thanks again, Geoffrey!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Voting Ends Soon!

Voting for the inaugural WSC Hall of Fame ballot ends on February 14, 2011 at 11:59 PM CST.

This is your last chance to vote OR to change your vote.

The voting poll is on the right sidebar.

Move Over Cos

Bill Cosby (1987): "You can't be a kid without it."

Ozzie Guillen (2011): "Watching the game and eating my jello."

I think JELL-O may have a new spokesperson!

Favorite Cards: Louisville Colonels

1898-1899 National Copper Plate Portraits #45 - John Wagner

I have a strong fascination with 19th century baseball memorabilia. When cards or other items feature a defunct team or a famous player, something clicks in my brain to pay attention. The 19th century is littered with teams that changed radically, moved or folded. Some clubs were only around for a season.

The Louisville Colonels jumped from AA ball into the National League in 1892. The Colonels survived until 1899, when it was one of four teams contracted after the season. The owner bought half of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900 and moved many of his Louisville players to Pittsburgh.

Although the Colonels featured many star players and eventual Hall of Famers, the card that has always caught my eye is one of John Wagner, better known as Honus Wagner, perhaps the greatest all-around player of the dead ball era.

This portrait is the earliest known example of Honus on any type of baseball memorabilia. It doesn't show him in uniform, but he is identified as the third baseman of the Louisville club in 1899. Essentially, this is Honus Wagner's rookie card. The portrait was used again in the M101-1 Sporting News supplement on August 19, 1899.

Very few copies of this issue survive. There is only one known complete collection. These pictures were black and white photomechanical prints on semi-gloss paper in a size of 8-3/4-by-11 inches. They were produced by the National Copper Plate Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Wagner only played 2 1/2 seasons with Louisville, so any collectible, especially of that era, with the Colonels is rare. Most collectors today aren't aware that Honus Wagner was on any other team besides the Pittsburgh Pirates. The majority of those collectors aren't even aware that Louisville, Kentucky had a Major League baseball team. Those same collectors may be surprised at the things they might find if they look into the past.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WSC Vintage: Evar Swanson

Card #34 - Evar Swanson

Evar started his career by lettering in four sports (baseball, football, basketball and track) at Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois. He was a pitcher in college, who played the outfield between starts. Swanson pitched a no-hitter in college and missed two perfect games by one batter. Evar injured his arm in the spring of 1923, which turned out to be an injury that followed him even after his playing days were through.

Between 1924 and 1927, Evar was a running back in the NFL, playing for the Rock Island Independents, the Milwaukee Badgers and the Chicago Cardinals. The Cardinals had moved their home field to Comiskey Park in 1922, and played their remaining years in Chicago there, except between 1926 and 1928, when they returned to Normal Park to play games. Reports are mixed as to how often the Cardinals actually played at Normal Park after 1922, so Swanson might have actually played in Comiskey Park as a Cardinal.

After Evar's NFL career was over, he switched to the MLB. He first joined the Cincinnati Reds in 1929, but was off the roster in 1930, after an injury shortened season. He was picked up by a St. Louis Cardinals minor league team in Columbus, Ohio at the end of the year and was the starting center fielder for the team in 1931. On September 11, 1932, Swanson was traded to the White Sox, where he patrolled the outfield until the end of the 1934 season, when problems with his throwing arm resurfaced.

In 1929, Evar set an MLB record by circling the bases in full uniform in 13.4 seconds. Many have tried to best it, but the record still stands. A year later, Swanson set the minor league record for circling the bases with a time of 13.2 seconds, which still stands as well. Evar is one of 114 players to have played in both the MLB and NFL.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Conlons, Pacifics And Topps, Oh My!

Friday afternoon, I received a package in the mail from Canada. It was from the proprietor of Chewing Liquorice.

It was so full of cards that it delayed the Card Spotlight until the evening. Geoffrey and I both share an admiration for Tim Raines and the Expos. I was bouncing off the walls when Tim Raines signed with the White Sox. I had watched him for many years with Montreal and knew exactly the type of player the Sox were getting. I have a thing for guys that know the lost art of stealing a base.

The eighties featured two of the best, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines. I had the privilege of seeing both in person during games. As a kid, my school would give out free White Sox tickets for good grades. It was some school program and I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember the specifics of that program. The tickets were usually in the upper deck, but they could be upgraded for the difference, which is usually what my dad ended up doing. My dad's work also featured a similar program for good grades and Sox tickets, so I ended up going to a ton of games in the eighties.

For some odd reason, I remember a great deal of those tickets being against Oakland. Suffice to say, I saw a lot of Rickey. Interleague play wasn't a part of the game back then, and I didn't go to any Cubs games as a kid, so I only saw Tim Raines on television until he was signed by the Sox. I would have loved to see Raines in old Comiskey Park, but watching him run the bases in the new ballpark was still a sight to see.

I mention this because in addition to the autographed card pictured, there was a plethora of Raines cards in the box. All of them were missing from my collection.

The Raines stuff was a great surprise, but that just scratched the surface. The first thing I spotted when I opened the package was a plastic bag. Inside was a near complete set of 1993 Topps Micro White Sox cards. I've been trying to get my hands on this set for a long time. The bonus card of Frank Thomas was even included. I was impressed! Now the only card left to find is Bo Jackson. I'm guessing that he will be a lot easier than trying to find a bunch of White Sox commons from that set.

Next, I spotted two small boxes. The first was a 1992 reprint set of the 1919 Black Sox. This had been on my radar for awhile, but I was never able to pull the trigger. Now I don't have to. The other box was a complete set of Eight Men Out movie cards. It's a set that I've been trying to piece together for a couple of years. I had over half of the set sent to me through various trades, so I thought it was ludicrous to pay for the whole set. I can check another goal off of my list.

The next thing I encountered was a stack on Conlon cards bigger than my hand. There were so many cards in the box that I only have a few cards remaining for the entire 1991 to 1994 sets. I have literally never seen so many Conlon cards in one place! It was inspiring. There were even burgundy parallels and a prototype card of Red Faber included.

There cards from three years of Pacific Legends. That is another pesky set that I've been trying to complete. I know I now have two of the three team sets completed. I may have the third done as well, but I still need to check on that.

The rest of the cards in the box were made up of '53 and '54 Topps Archives, including a gold card, Ted Williams Company cards, Upper Deck All-Time Heroes cards, Stadium Club Golden Rainbow cards, a 1985 card of Ed Walsh, a 1975 Topps card of Dick Allen, a couple of Action Packed cards and a 1960 Minnie Minoso card, among others.

I spent the time I should have been working on the card spotlight, sorting through this box. It was well worth it!

Thanks, Geoffrey! Let me know if you need any Expos cards sent your way.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Card Spotlight: 2-4-11

1951 Topps Blue Backs #2 - Hank Majeski

This 1951 set is one of Topps first forays into baseball cards. Topps has a revisionist history that revolves around Mickey Mantle, who first appeared in the 1952 set, so they rarely acknowledge that their Topps Magic set from 1948 had nineteen baseball subjects. Topps will sometimes acknowledge their baseball standalone sets from 1951, but for all intensive purposes, Topps wants you to believe that they hit a home run right from the beginning.

That's not to say that their baseball efforts before 1952 were awful. The Topps Magic set has its charms, but it is a little nondescript. The 1951 set is colorful and vibrant. Topps has trotted the design out quite a number of times, but it's usually downplayed. Last year, it was features as a retail exclusive insert set. The thorn in the side of this set is its size. It's really small compared to the 1952 set. While the game aspect of each card is pretty cool in and of itself, it doesn't fit in with the mythos of Topps.

Hank Majeski only spent two years on the White Sox, so any card of him is a treat. There weren't too many sets to collect back then. Some players were left out entirely. Topps decided to release their two sets like playing cards, so there are 52 cards in each set. The red backs are a little more common than the blue backs.

If you can pick up a 1951 Topps baseball card, I'd recommend doing so. It really doesn't matter who the card features. Any one 1951 Topps card would be a boon to a collection. I'm still chasing all of the White Sox cards from the set. Every time that I've gotten close to winning an auction, the bidding got slightly past my comfort zone. One day, I'll get one.
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