Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2000 Fleer Greats Of The Game

I'm a sucker for history. I'm a sucker for a simple but elegant design. Put these together in a baseball card set and I'm intrigued. Throw some White Sox players into the mix and I'm in.

While we are constantly bombarded by history lessons in our card sets today, it wasn't always the case. One of the best things I found out when I re-entered the hobby in 2007, was just how much history is present on cards. When I was growing up, there was TCMA and Hygrade. The templates weren't always thought out and tended to sport whatever trend was popular at the time.The two-tone Baseball Immortals set come to mind with it's neon colors.

When real thought goes into the product, it shows. The Greats Of The Game set was one of the most popular in 2000. I can certainly see why. A thoughtful, simplistic design, that gently elevates the card subject. It fits. You can tell that it isn't vintage, but it fits right in with the themes of those eras gone by.

The White Sox have two cards in this 107 card set.

23 - Hoyt Wilhelm
24 - Luis Aparicio

It certainly is a beautiful set. The players seem to pop out while fading into the background of time. The autograph insert set will be pricier to obtain, but not impossible. Aparicio and Wilhelm are the autographs in the insert set.

Monday, February 18, 2019

1963 Topps

 Before we get into this, let me get one thing out of the way... Most of us will NEVER properly complete this team set. I know what you must be thinking to yourself.

"There is no way that I can possibly know that. I have mad collecting skills. I am resourceful and always find a way, even though I'm on a budget. I get things done. I overcome my challenges."

Let me reiterate. Most of you (not all) will NEVER properly complete this team set.

"Nellie Fox can't be worth that much! It's far from Luis Aparicio's rookie season. What gives?"

I hate to break it to you, but Luis Aparicio is not in this team set. Topps already has him on the Orioles.

You most likely will never properly complete a White Sox team set and it's not because of any White Sox player. In fact, the only White Sox connection to this player would be through his son, who played in the White Sox minor league system from 1994 through 1996.

If you are up to the challenge, there are a few ways around this problem. One path leads you to acknowledge that you will never have a complete team set. Another way is to travel down a dark and seedy, illicit path. Another way would be to miss a couple of mortgage payments in order to obtain this card.

Are you ready?

It is the infamous Pete Rose.
It's just unfortunate that Al Weis is also on this card.

If you haven't sacrificed your living situation and you haven't resigned to the fact that your set will be always incomplete, what is the third option?


More specifically, you will be looking for a particular counterfeit version of the card that was involved in a famous court case.
These original fakes are stamped on the back. That's the route that I went. My white whale card is out of the way, albeit rather cavalierly. Newer reprints are flooding eBay, some for as low as a dollar. So, it's not impossible, just slightly unethical.

So, now that that is out of the way. Let's enjoy this set!

After the original Topps wood grain, the 1963 set exploded with color. Most cards have a nice head shot with a smaller "action" photo in a circle with a colorful background. There is simplicity in the design, but the color is what really pops. It especially pops when comparing the cards to the 1962 and 1964 sets. Classics in their own rights, but not like this.

I liked the design so much, I even made a Birth Year card for Conan O'Brien during that short-lived Tonight Show debacle.

The 1963 Topps set is one of my favorites from the 60s. There are very few that can compare to it in the time frame. When Upper Deck did their Vintage line and basically stole designs from Topps, it didn't feel right. There is just something about the originals that feels right. I can't put my finger on what exactly though. All the elements work well together.

The White Sox have thirty-three cards in this set.

2 - Floyd Robinson (Hinton, Mantle, Runnels, Siebern) AL Batting
6 - Eddie Fisher (Bunning, Pascual, Aguirre, Roberts) AL ERA
8 - Ray Herbert (Donovan, Bunning, Pascual, Terry) AL Pitching
10 - Juan Pizarro (Bunning, Kaat, Pascual, Terry) AL Strikeout
16 - Al Smith
35 - John Buzhardt
54 - Dave Debusschere (Matthews, Fanok, Cullen) Rookies
66 - Mike Joyce
86 - Charley Maxwell
100 - Joe Cunningham
118 - Sherm Lollar
160 - Juan Pizarro
181 - Sammy Esposito
223 - Eddie Fisher
234 - Dave Nicholson
253 - Deacon Jones (Wojcik, Jernigan, Gabrielson) Rookies
254 - Mike Hershberger
271 - Dean Stone
288 - White Sox Team
308 - Camilo Carreon
324 - Pete Ward (Davalillo, Roof, Williams) Rookies
332 - Joe Horlen
354 - Dom Zanni
381 - Frank Baumann
405 - Floyd Robinson
424 - Charley Smith
458 - Al Lopez
485 - Jim Landis
499 - J.C. Martin
522 - Gary Peters (Nelson, Quirk, Roland) Rookies
525 - Nellie Fox
537 - Al Weis (Rose, Gonzalez, McMullen) Rookies
560 - Ray Herbert

With thirty-three cards in the master team set, this would be a monumental task, even without the Al Weis rookie card. It shows how good and underrated these sixties White Sox teams were. If divisional play was in baseball before 1969, these sixties White Sox cards would be even more difficult to obtain at a fair price. It's a double edged sword. I hoped the White Sox would do well, but if they did well, the card prices would skyrocket.

You may not be able to complete a White Sox team set legitimately, but these are great cards for your collection. They feature a great variety of players, rookies and leaders. Plus the colors really pop.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

First White Sox Cards Of 2019

I was not able to get to 2019 product until this weekend. When 2019 Topps Series One came out, Michigan was in the middle of a polar vortex. We had temperatures near -50 degree Fahrenheit.  I was not about to go out and shovel just to get cards. I know. Where are my priorities?

Various weather related issues and watching my 15 month old grandson, kinda made me home bound for awhile. I finally broke out yesterday and got my hands on a blaster box.

While some of you figured out yesterday that one of my packs contained a Michael Kopech card, this was the first card in the very first pack I opened of 2019 product.
#49 - Michael Kopech 

#264 - Avisail Garcia

#196 - Adam Engel

#111 - Reynaldo Lopez

#308 - Yolmer Sanchez

Not bad for a blaster. Over half of the base set without SPs and SSPs.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sox Or No Sox: 2-16-19

Back by unpopular demand, it's America's unreasonable game, Sox Or No Sox.

The rules are simple. We take one unopened pack of baseball cards that was randomly selected by yours truly. We then go through the pack card by card looking for those elusive White Sox cards.

Along the way, there are two tricky and abundant traps to look out for. The first trap is the Cubs card. While hailing from Chicago, it is definitely not a Chicago White Sox card. The second trap is the Red Sox card. While technically a Sox card, it is vastly different than a White Sox card. Both traps are not necessarily bad things, but they get in the way of the games true goal: to find White Sox cards.

1/2 point is awarded for each card in the pack. 1 point is deducted from the score for each trap card. 1/2 point is taken away for each pointless mirror card. 1 point is given for any parallel. 2 points are awarded for each relic or autographed card (only 1 point awarded for a relic or autographed trap card). 2 points are given for each White Sox card.

Our player in tonight's game is a 2019 Topps Series One pack. The pack contains 14 cards and features TWO Yankees on the wrapper. I don't know how to interpret that. It might be good or it might be bad. Let's begin.

 #1: Michael Kopech - 49 - Chicago White Sox

Right off the bat. First out of the pack. A WHITE SOX CARD!!!!!!!!!

 #2: Chad Bettis - 74 - Colorado Rockies

He's a cancer survivor. How cool!

 #3: Pedro Strop - 142- Chicago Cubs


 #4: Rafael Devers - 228 - Boston Red Sox


 #5: Justus Sheffield - 306 - New York Yankees

Is it really, just us?

 #6: Washington Nationals - 341 - Washington Nationals

Harper had 100 RBI. Scherzer had 300 strikeouts. Nice round numbers.

 #7: Don Mattingly - GLG-3 - New York Yankees

I loved watching Don Mattingly growing up. Nice subset.

Halfway through and there's tons of excitement. There's been a White Sox card and two trap cards so far! We still have a whole other half of a pack to go! Can you stand the suspense?! Can you take any more?! Hold on to your seats. This could get ugly!

Let's return to the action!

 #8: Topps Now Trout/Pujols/Ohtani - TN-9 - Los Angels Angels

What exactly is the NOW factor in a card like this?

 #9: Hector Rondon - 91 - Houston Astros


 #10: Yoenis Cespedes - 128 - New York Mets

A Cespedes for the rest of us! Sorry. Not sorry.

 #11: Josh Bell - 208 - Pittsburgh Pirates

Josh's rate of doubles and walks improved, while his long balls went down.

 #12: Joe Musgrove - 104 - Pittsburgh Pirates

Joe was drafted by the Blue Jays.

 #13: Buster Posey - 157 - San Francisco Giants

He's hip. He's hip. Sorry. Not sorry.

#14: Robinson Cano - 313 - Seattle Mariners

Robinson has been in the big leagues for 14 seasons! Wow!

One White Sox card = 2 points. Two trap cards = -2 points. 11 non-trap cards = 5 1/2 points.

Final score: 5 1/2 points

One White Sox card of a very promising rookie in this game, but there's always the excitement of the chase for more next time on Sox Or No Sox. And remember, never lean your head into a Randy Johnson fastball. It's for the birds. Goodnight everyone!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Card Spotlight: 2-15-19

1999 Crown Royale Pivotal Players #8 - Frank Thomas

1999 would be the year some people started to doubt Frank Thomas. His average was definitely up from the previous year's low of .265. It should have been alarming when his average dipped 82 points in 1998, but people will forgive a low average if you bring those dingers. At least most people would. I didn't. I knew average was part of his game. Concentrate on the hits and home runs will naturally follow for a player like Frank.

When your home run production dips from twenty-nine in 1998 to fifteen in 1999, the lookie-loos really take notice. It didn't matter that he raised his average forty points. He deprived the home crowd of fireworks. Frank should be ashamed of himself... or so some fans would have you believe.

Even the most super of the super-humans are just human. I hate to burst anyone's bubbles, but it's true. Even when players retire, they are constantly reminded of their successes and failures. It's almost like a curse. The more successful you are, the more chances you get reminded on a daily basis. You are expected to know that you sign up for that when you play a major sport, but I suspect that many don't realize how intrusive it can be. Let alone how these distractions can get in a player's head.

Frank Thomas has a cantankerous way of shutting people down. When someone starts to doubt and count him out, Thomas responds. In response to the 1999 season, Frank had a monster year in 2000. He lost out on a third MVP to a steroid user. Steroid users are something that Thomas has felt strongly enough in his career. He and his teammates were ready to refuse their testing, so it would come back as a positive, in order for testing to become mandatory for the MLB. When he was granted free agency by the White Sox after the 2005 season, Frank responded by signing with the Oakland Athletics and having a monster year with them, nearly snagging another MVP honor.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

1970 Topps

Almost no one is going to say the 1970 Topps set is iconic or one of the best sets they've ever produced. It is, however, uniquely designed and instantly recognizable. It is one of the few times that Topps went with a grey border. It's minimalist in design and execution.

1970 Topps is representative of this picture of Ken Berry. There's a perfectly good picture. Not great, but acceptable. And then you notice somebody's elbow in the shot, after you go home and develop the film. You can't go back and fix it. The moment is gone forever. You have two choices and a deadline looming. You go with it and hope nobody notices or you scrap the whole thing, regroup, and try again next year.

Obviously, you need to go with the former and plow ahead. That is what this set feels like, in retrospect. It's a nice design, but not great. Memorable, but not in a good or bad way. It's just there. It's perfectly ok, but unexceptional.

The White Sox have twenty-five cards in the set.

18 - Carlos May
35 - Joel Horlen
51 - Bob Christian
91 - Rich Morales
123 - Don Gutteridge
146 - Danny Murphy
180 - Tommy John
217 - Ron Hansen
239 - Ken Berry
263 - Duane Josephson
274 - Gerry Arrigo
299 - Buddy Bradford
315 - Luis Aparicio
342 - Wilbur Wood
368 - Ed Herrmann
395 - Walt Williams
414 - Paul Edmondson
444 - John Matias, Bill Farmer
483 - Gail Hopkins
501 - White Sox Team
518 - Bill Melton
561 - Tom McCraw
618 - Billy Wynne
669 - Bart Johnson, Dan Lazar, Mickey Scott
695 - Bobby Knoop

The last two cards are high numbers, so they might be slightly more difficult to obtain. Really the only challenge in collecting this White Sox set is the age of the cards. They are not always in the best condition. The older a card is, the less chance you find it available.

Essentially, this is the warm milk of White Sox vintage sets. There's no one super exciting in the lineup. You have interesting, like a late career Aparicio, a Tommy John and an early Bill Melton, but nothing spectacular. The White Sox teams from this little window are some of the worst ever. That doesn't mean that there's nothing to value here, but it's not the same as the lineup a few years prior and a few years later. Like I said... the warm milk of White Sox vintage sets.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

WSC All-Stars: Luke Appling 1943

Card #19 - Luke Appling

Luke made it onto the 1943 All-Star team as a reserve shortstop. St. Louis Browns starting shortstop Vern Stephens played the entire game. With only two pinch-hitting opportunities on the American League side, Appling sat on the bench. The American League won 5-3.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Blog Bat Around: 30 Teams 30 Players

OK. I haven't participated in one of these in years. Mostly, it's because by the time I run across them, it is way too late to participate. I'm only a month behind most everyone else, so let's give this a shot.

The idea is to take each current MLB team and show the player that you associate with the team. I'm not sure if this is the way that you play, but I decided to show the first player that popped in my head when I thought of that team. The results may differ from day to day, but these are the results for today.

Arizona Diamondbacks
1999 Pacific Revolution #7 - Luis Gonzalez

There are lots I can think of now, but when I was pressed for an answer, out came Luis.

Atlanta Braves
1991 Score #671 - Chipper Jones

I can think of others, but this is a solid.

Baltimore Orioles
1958 Topps #307 - Brooks Robinson
Huh? I would have thought Cal Ripken Jr., but there ya go.

Boston Red Sox
1982 Brigham's Coca-Cola Boston Red Sox #6 - Dwight Evans
It's gotta be the mustache. Just gotta be.

Chicago Cubs
1888 Goodwin Champions (N162) - Cap Anson

My brain went really old school for this one. Maybe it's because I keep running into people who have no idea he's a Cub and think he's associated with the current White Sox.

Chicago White Sox
1983 True Value Chicago White Sox #2 - Harold Baines
The newest White Sox member of the Hall of Fame. Sorry, haters.

Cincinnati Reds
1977 Kellogg's 3-D #20 - Pete Rose
That insult about a Pete Rose haircut? That's 70's Pete and it's fantastic.

Cleveland Indians
1991 Bowman #68 - Jim Thome

The Gentleman Masher. Classic.

Colorado Rockies
2007 Topps Rookie 1952 Edition #157 - Darren Clarke
It's probably because of this.

Detroit Tigers
1981 Topps Coke Detroit Tigers #10 - Lou Whitaker
C'mon. It's Lou!

Houston Astros
1990 Baseball Card Magazine '69 Topps Replicas #1 - Craig Biggio
One of the "B"s.

Kansas City Royals
2015 Stadium Club #210 - George Brett
Classic photo that inspired a song.

Los Angeles Angels
1987 Classic Yellow #134 - Gary Pettis
Always loved to watch Gary play.

Los Angeles Dodgers
1947 Bond Bread - Portrait, Glove In Air - Jackie Robinson

I just watched "42" the other day.

Miami Marlins
2016 Topps Opening Day - Opening Day Stars #ODS21 - Giancarlo Stanton
Maybe it's that large contract he signed.

Milwaukee Brewers
1979 Topps #-95 - Robin Yount
That's what I expected out of me.
Minnesota Twins
1993 Topps Gold #200 - Kirby Puckett
This too, is what I expected out of me.

New York Mets
1991 Fleer Pro Vision #7 - Dwight Gooden
He had a pretty good run.
New York Yankees
1985 Donruss Action All-Stars #48 - Don Mattingly
I always thought he looked like my cousin Carl.

Oakland Athletics
1972 Topps #435 - Reggie Jackson
One of the first cards with his mustache.
Philadelphia Phillies
1982 Donruss #294 Mike Schmidt
How can you grow up in the 70s and 80s without thinking of Mike Schmidt?

Pittsburgh Pirates
1973 Topps Pin Ups - Willie Stargell
Other days it would have been Dave Parker, but Cobra will take a back seat to Pops.

San Diego Padres
2001 Topps Stars #200 - Jake Peavy
Jake Peavy? I would have thought Tony Gwynn. Probably the White Sox connection. Remember, these were quick responses.

San Francisco Giants
2009 TriStar Obak #23 - Buster Posey
I can see that.

Seattle Mariners
1990 Leaf #299 -Edgar Martinez
No Griffey Jr.? Solid choice though.
St. Louis Cardinals
1984 Ralston Purina #2 - Ozzie Smith
The Wizard!!!

Tampa Bay Rays
2005 Bowman Heritage #119 - Scott Kazmir
Yup. In hindsight, I thought it would have been Wade Boggs.

Texas Rangers
1991 Studio #124 - Juan Gonzalez
So many Rangers. He popped up. Probably because he disappointed me when I went to Comerica Park. He was about the only thing to see on that horrid team and he was out injured.

Toronto Blue Jays
1983 O-Pee-Chee #294 - Alfredo Griffin
The Topps version of this card was in the first pack I ever opened. I always appreciated Alfredo Griffin since that day.
Washington Nationals
2017 Topps Triple Threads #1 - Bryce Harper
He's in my news feed several times a day for not doing something. How can he not be on my mind?

Bonus Teams!

Teams that used to be, then moved and changed their names.

Montreal Expos
1976 Hostess #62 - Gary Carter
I loved to watch the Kid play.

St. Louis Browns
1940 Play Ball #179 - George Sisler
I'll confess there really isn't many players that I associate with the Browns.
Seattle Pilots
2004 Fleer Greats Of The Game #115 - Jim Bouton
The Pilot I remember best.

Washington Senators
 1960 Topps #210 - Harmon Killebrew
Great name from the end of the Washington era for this pre-Twins team.
Washington Senators
1969 Topps #650 - Ted Williams 

One of the few names I remember without much thought on this pre-Rangers team.

Alright. The thought process did not take long at all. Maybe thirty seconds for the whole exercise. Transferring the information and finding examples of cards took the longest. I had a blast doing this!!
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