Friday, November 30, 2007

The 2008 Topps Re-Design

OK. I decided to take a quick (really quick) stab at designing a 2008 Topps card for The Baseball Card Blog. This is what I can whip up in 15 minutes. About half that time was spent searching for the picture.

I figured that Topps loves goofy pictures and huge white borders and silver foil. So, I've encorporated all of those elements in the card. The gray color is supposed to be silver foil, but I didn't want to spend a huge amount of time on this. I also used the White Sox team colors around the card. Not bad for 15 minutes. It reminds me of a cross between the 1984 Fleer and the 2004 Topps though.

I almost went with Chewbacca pitching for the Red Sox, but decided that was too much like what Topps would do. Besides, what could be more puzzling to card buyers than Mark Buehrle with a clock in the middle of US Cellular Field? Not much.

1977 Topps Revisited

Just chalk it up to the joys of collecting. While I was researching the Ken Brett article, I found this card on the left. While I had heard about this card before, it completely slipped my mind that Ken may be in a White Sox uniform on the card.

This took me by surprise last night. I normally look for examples on Beckett's site, so I don't have to pull my cards out and scan them. I knew what card I wanted, so I put Ken Brett's name and 1977 Topps in the search engine on Beckett's online price guide. When two cards popped up, I did a double take.

I thought I was done with the 1977 White Sox team set. Apparently not. You see, I make super team sets. If a player is shown in a White Sox uniform, I collect it. It doesn't matter if he's listed on another team, like a lot of today's releases, just as long as that Sox uniform is there. If the player is listed as being on the White Sox, but is shown in his previous uniform, I collect it. Multi-player/multi-team cards? I'm all over them, as long as a Sox player is on it.

So, even though brother George is shown in his powder blue Kansas City uniform, brother Ken is shown in the collared White Sox softball uniform. I'm on it!

2007 Moments And Milestones

After being out of baseball cards, except for the few White Sox team sets the past few years, I dove head first into collecting again. I thought I could save a little money on White Sox cards, by opening them myself and selling off the rest for fun, profit and more White Sox cards. For the most part, that plan has come to fruition.

One of the first "over $100" hobby boxes I purchased was the 2007 Moments and Milestones. I was blown away by the sales pitch that Tony, one of my local cars shop guys, gave me. At that point, I had no clue if there were any White Sox cards in the set. The premise was intriguing though, so I plunked down my hard earned cash for that and a few random packs.

I was very happy to get a Paul Konerko in one of the packs. I was happy to see that he wasn't in a Reds or Dodgers uniform. As I found out quickly, this set relives past accomplishments. Any player could theoretically pop up on any team for any reason. I decided my way of collecting should be one card of each hit for Paul Konerko (in regular and black), one card of each Frank Thomas (regular and black) and one each of Josh Fields (regular and black). I wasn't about to collect one of each hit for Frank Thomas, but Paul Konerko's six hits seemed manageable.

Before we get any further lets have a White Sox checklist for this set. There are regular cards numbered to 150, black parallels numbered to 29 and red parallels numbered to 1.
  • 106 - Frank Thomas (38)

  • 107 - Frank Thomas (101)

  • 123 - Paul Konerko (6)

  • 182 - Josh Fields

  • 183 - Josh Fields

  • 184 - Josh Fields

I knew there was no way I'd be able to collect the red parallels, which are numbered to one. Especially with Paul Konerko's number being six. So, I stuck to collecting the regulars and the blacks. I've got most of Konerko's cards and I've got all the Frank Thomas cards I wanted. Josh Fields has been an enigma. I've only got one of his cards.

I like the basic design and the premise of the set. It's very interesting to come up with the different combinations in which this set can be collected. I'm satisfied with my method. I think it's a great idea, but it runs to much like the mirror cards that I'm not fond of. This set is almost like a mirror card on steroids. I suppose the mirror cards would hold a greater interest if they ever featured a player that I collected, but those cards never feature any White Sox players that I've noticed.

I've heard that Topps is bringing back this set for next year. I guess I'll have to see how it fares next year. Maybe lightning will strike twice, but for now I'm a bit skeptical. Hopefully, I'll be pleasantly surprised. I like this set, but I don't know if I'll like it two years in a row.

Ken Brett

You're on top of the world. In 1967, you just became the youngest pitcher in World Series history and gave up no hits in both your appearances. Then after a stint in the Army Reserves, you come back and develop arm trouble. You have flashes of brilliance, but are ultimately eclipsed by one of your three younger baseball playing brothers. This was Ken Brett's life.

Ken played with 10 teams in 14 years. He played with the White Sox in parts of 1976 and 1977. Twice, he took a no-hitter into the ninth. The first was on May 27, 1974 with the Pirates. He settled for a 2 hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader.

The second was almost two years later to the date on May 26, 1976 with the Chicago White Sox. With two outs in the ninth of a scoreless game, Jorge Orta left a slow roller down the third baseline untouched. It was scored a hit rather than an error and Ken was screwed out of another no hitter. The Sox won that game against the Angels 1-0 in the 11th. Ken pitched 10 innings.

Even though his brother George got more press, Ken was no slouch at hitting. Some say he was the best hitting pitcher of his era. Ken did hit .310 in 1974 for the Pirates. This was the same year he was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game. The year before, with the Phillies, he hit home runs in 4 consecutive starts. No matter what team he was on, Ken was always a fan favorite. The fans always love a gutsy pitcher who can hit. Ken was courted by 23 teams as an outfielder. The Red Sox selected him as the fourth overall pick in 1966, the only team who wanted him as a pitcher.

Ken finished his career playing with his brother George on the Royals in 1980 and 1981. Ken had a front row seat to watch his brother hit .390 in 1980. Ken played up his frequent team changes in a Miller Lite beer commercial in 1984. The punchline "Utica" led to a managerial job in Utica.

Sadly, Ken succumbed to brain cancer in 2003, after a six year battle. He was only 55 years old. He left behind a wife and a son and daughter, who are twins. I'm sure if there was no DH, Ken would've been part of the 1977 Southside Hitmen, at least every five days.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Would You Like To Take A Survey?

A post that has nothing to do with baseball cards? Well, in my defence, I've done a few on here before. But this does pertain to the White Sox and a few of my favorite shows growing up.

"Would you like to take a survey? Do you like beans, do you like George Wendt?...Would you like to see a movie starring George Wendt eating beans?"

Every time I see George Wendt on television, I can't get that line out of my head. It doesn't matter if I see him on Cheers, or SNL, or the movie House, where I don't recall him ever eating beans. I could maybe see him eating beans on SNL or Cheers. George was born in Chicago. He is a Second City alum. He is a White Sox fan.

Celebrity White Sox fans are out there. They remain hidden, but only because they aren't as loudmouthed as Cubs fans. I'm not saying this against all or most Cubs fans, just the select few who claim to speak for the rest of you. White Sox celebrity fans tend to be vocal about their allegiance only when prompted. The rest of the time, they are courteous to fans of other teams, for the most part.

The Sox are known more for their few unruly fans. The Cubs get no break in this either. When other team's fans want to jump on the Sox bandwagon, the Sox are usually skeptical. I would say the most vocal celebrity Sox fan would be Mayor Daley. There may be others that are more vocal out in California when the Sox come to play out there, but Daley is day in day out all about the White Sox.

As with any team, there are tons of great fans, but the bad ones tend to get more press. George Wendt is a great fan. He's not vocal about it every chance he gets, but when you ask nicely, I'm sure he'll tell you all about it.

1990 Fleer Soaring Stars

Some of the first insert cards that grabbed my attention were the 1990 Fleer Soaring Stars. I never got the Robin Ventura card, but I did get stars like Scott Coolbaugh and Todd Zeile. Sure they don't sound great now, but back in 1990, they were hot stuff.

Todd Zeile was white hot back then. Now he's more known for being on a bunch of teams and switching positions a lot. Scott Coolbaugh is now known for more for his brother Mike's tragic death. Back in 1990, Scott was the next coming of Ron Cey. That sounded a lot better 17 years ago too.

The initial attraction was the green. Green has been my favorite color since I saw Luke Skywalker's light saber in Return Of The Jedi. That left quite an impression on a young kid sitting in a movie theater in 1983. The card doesn't just have a green border, it's bathed in it. The Soaring Stars lettering and the star backed in a shooting rainbow color reminds me of those CBS Special intros that I'd see at the beginning of Garfield's Halloween Adventure or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. So sue me. I liked the animation on the ghosts on the island and loved the idea of the dinner of popcorn, jelly beans and toast.

These cards look like some lost relic from the late 70's or early 80's. The design is so kitsch. You can see this card from a mile away. Sometimes that's a good thing. The only White Sox card is #4 Robin Ventura.

This set always stood out when I was a kid. My goals were even loftier when I was younger. I wanted to collect one of every card. So I tried to complete sets. A 12 card set is easy to complete at first glance. But when something seems too easy, it's usually hard. I only got the Zeile and Coolbaugh cards. I've seen the Ventura card on eBay occasionally, but never could bring myself to pay over $2.00 before shipping. One day I'll get that card, then on to the next project.

The Powder Blues Club

It seems that retro is all the rage nowadays. Nothing is more evident of this than the Royals and Blue Jays going to powder blue uniforms for alternate jerseys. "That's a bold statement", as John Travolta said in Pulp Fiction. I like the idea, but then again I also liked the White Sox softball uniforms of the late 70's and early 80's. They were so bad that you had to love them, like a tattered 1975 Wilbur Wood card in your wallet.

I decided to dig up a card from the White Sox era of powder blue uniforms. Everyone else seems to be doing this, so I thought I'd join in the fun. I think Jesse Jefferson's 1976 card will do nicely. I think his hair could almost rival Oscar Gamble's 'fro. Not quite, but with enough special love and attention it could grow like a Chia Pet too.

Bad uniforms have always fascinated me. I've always held a special place in my heart for the old Astros uniforms with the rainbow colors or the Pirates hats that stood up like a top hat. Those early Mariners uniforms are great too. I can't wait for the 1977 Turn Back The Clock game between the White Sox and the Mariners. It should be quite an eyesore. Will the Mariners Anchorman inspired trident uniforms beat the White Sox senior softball league uniforms? One can only hope fans can see the outcome after they burned out their retinas.

Who Is Jerry Crider?

I'm really serious. Who is he? There must be more to the story than the information I've found. In 1962, he signed with the Twins. He made his debut with the Twins in 1969. In 1970, he was traded to the White Sox. Then, after the 1970 season, no info.

He was 28 in his final year. He batted a miserable .083 for the Sox in 1970. The designated hitter wasn't introduced in the American League until 1973. He was 4-7 with a 4.45 ERA in 1970. Not the greatest, but I've seen a lot worse. It was certainly better than his 4.71 ERA with the Twinkies the previous year.

I guess being born in 1976, I can only try to interpret what happened before I was born with the information I find. It's just that sometimes, people and information fall through the cracks over time. My guess is that he was in the minors until 1969. That's pretty much given. What happened after 1970? Did he go back to the minors? Was he released or traded? Did he quit baseball? That info is not readily available to me.

If anyone has info on what happened to Jerry Crider, please leave a comment. I will update this posting with any reliable information. I will post other players who have seemed to slip through the cracks occasionally. Maybe we can bring these stories to light.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Legend Hits The Wall

Well, according to reports this morning, it looks like Aaron Rowand will not be in a White Sox uniform. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times, Rowand was Plan 1A, and the numbers were so off between the two parties, there was no room for negotiation. And before you even ask, no, it's not Joe Cowley the ex-White Sox player.

Rowand has been nicknamed, "The Legend", here in Chicago. Not so much for what he's done on the field, but crashing into walls and still holding onto the ball is so Major League 2. It's more for the mythical proportions that he's formed since leaving. The Sox have been a little underwhelming since he was traded. Everyone here knew what a clubhouse guy and a team player he is, so his legend grew.

I can still remember fans complaining that he couldn't hit. Some people were so worried that he'd crash into the wall again and seriously hurt himself, that they wanted to get rid of him. Don't get me wrong, I was a huge fan of Rowand, but I still can see his limitations. I wonder if last year's hitting display was a fluke. I guess we'll all find out this season.

Now, the main targets seem to be Coco Crisp and Willy Taveras. I don't think Taveras can be had, it doesn't look like a good trade for the Rockies. I'm not sure I want a breakfast cereal patrolling centerfield. Whatever the Sox end up doing, it will probably be better than what they have right now.

2007 Goudey

I love this set! I'm very impressed with it. The designs are awesome, but they had an excellent, iconic set to base this off of. The backgrounds are unique and deco. This is what cards should strive to be like. My only issue with it is the sizing. I'm not a huge fan of cards smaller than the standard size.

I've watched other sites rave about this release. Well, all those sites are right. This is an outstanding release. The colors are vibrant and really pop out at you. The player selection is pretty decent. There is only one parallel issue with this set. The backs come in the standard green and a parallel red lettering.

The White Sox have 6 players for a total of 12 cards, including the parallels. I was surprised and delighted to see Darin Erstad in this release. This was the first Sox card I pulled and the Upper Deck website noted that he was in an Angels uniform. The same thing happened with Frank Thomas and the Masterpieces release. They had Frank listed in a Blue Jays uniform.

I did try to get the error fixed and Upper Deck gave me the runaround. They thought I had issue with the picture posted on the site and explained to me that those were early prints and teams may have changed. After about six e-mails, I finally got it straightened out. I literally had to copy and paste what I was talking about, then show an example of what I wanted corrected before the rep understood what I was saying. It had nothing to do with the card, only the description on the website. Anyway, those six base cards are:
  • 31 - Darin Erstad
  • 60 - Jim Thome
  • 150 Joe Crede
  • 156 - Scott Podsednik
  • 173 - Paul Konerko
  • 190 - Jermaine Dye

It's a little shocking to realize that two of these six players have been released as of this posting. A third will most likely be traded before the end of Spring Training. Such is baseball. Even that can't detract me from how beautiful these cards look.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tales Of eBay

Some people on eBay are strange. This card on the left is one that I picked up with at least 6 other Frank Thomas cards, that totaled $1.75 all together, that cost me over $13.00 in shipping. This shipping charge was not anywhere on any of the card pages. The seller also claimed to combine shipping. His version of "combining" meant that he knocked off the shipping cost for one card, but charged full shipping price for each card. I hate to deal with sellers like this. I swallowed everything and moved on. Another lesson learned, but I take notes and know which sellers manipulate like this.

Beware of sellers with a lot of items at a Buy It Now price of 1-25 cents. If the card is really worth that, that's one thing. But if it's too good to be true, it probably is. The cards I did get were the only examples I had seen for sale, so it wasn't all bad. I'm definitely not purchasing from that seller again. No, I'm not naming names, but I've given you enough information to figure it out if you really wanted to know. This is why I have one of the lowest shipping costs on eBay and combine shipping. People still bitch, but I suppose you can't please everyone.

Another type of person I love is the one who tries to keep getting a better deal out of you. Yes folks, that was sarcasm. I have no problem cutting deals when it's possible. I'll throw in freebies when I can. One woman e-mailed me about some Marlins cards asking me if I could sell her what was in my store for no more than 20 cents a card. I wrote back that it was fine for the commons.

She wrote back that these were for her son. I forget the age, but it was under 10. He really liked 3 star players on the Marlins. He was collecting some type of card but she couldn't recall what it was. He liked all the Marlins cards in my store. She again offered a maximum of 20 cents a card. Most of the cards that "her son" liked were between $2 and $5. Some were less, some were more.

I scanned through my back stock and took out players that "her son" specified and other Marlins cards. I countered with, "for every dollar you spend in my store, I will throw in 8 additional cards of your son's favorite players and other Marlins cards". I sent her a list of specific cards that would really wow any kid who's a fan of these stars and a fan of the team. They were everything from 2007 Topps commons to one of those Predictor cards from Upper Deck this year. They were all cards that I was too lazy to individually scan and sell or ones that I thought would sit there for an eternity if I put them up. Never heard back from her.

You can bend over backwards for people and some will never be satisfied. This still doesn't sour me on being helpful or being open to suggestions. I just don't let these people get to me. They aren't worth it. Plus, for every one like that, there are at least 10 who are wonderful to do business with.

I've sold cards to Joe Bisenius' father, Matt Stairs' cousin and one of Carlos Quentin's relatives to name a few. Joe Bisenius' father is a wonderful man. He's very approachable and wrote back a few times with information about his son. I even suggested that his son consider the White Sox as an alternative to the Phillies, if he should ever find himself on the outs.

Everyone else has been nice too. Some volunteer the information and some I inquire about if they have the same last name or live in the same small town or both. They are always pleasant about it. The good people on eBay tend to not stand out as much as the bad ones and that's a shame.

John Cangelosi: Sox Star That Never Was

You may recognize this card from the White Sox Cards header. This is John Cangelosi. The 5'8" Cangelosi was the surprise of the White Sox' 1986 spring camp when he displaced the fleet footed Rudy Law and Daryl Boston to win the centerfield job. He stole 50 bases for the White Sox as a rookie in 1986, an American League rookie record at the time. On March 27, 1987, he was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jim Winn.

Cangelosi was a non-roster invitee to spring training for the Chicago White Sox in 1991. After a difficult decision (he batted over .400), he was one of the final cuts before the regular season. He was offered a minor league contract based on his impressive showing in spring training. On May 23, 1991, he was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers for Esteban Beltre.

He never played for the Brewers, but wound up on the Rangers in 1992. 1994 saw him on the Mets. The Astros had the pleasure of having him return to his base stealing for 1995 and 1996. In 1997, he finally picked a winner, the Florida Marlins. John finally got a ring for his efforts. He even became the first position player to pitch in Marlins history. He stuck with the Marlins until 1998. In 1999, he only played in 7 games for the Rockies. His only hit in 1999 was a double on September 17th against the Dodgers. It was John's last major league hit. His last game was on September 22, 1999 against the Diamondbacks.

Back when I was nine and John was a rookie on the White Sox, he was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to games. I loved to watch Cangelosi steal bases. My dad, who had no interest in baseball at the time, even started to root for him at the games we went to. My dad still remembers a game that we went to late in the season. I told him that Cangelosi was going to get on base, then steal second and Daryl Boston was going to sacrifice him to third. That's exactly what happened! My dad has listened to me on baseball matters ever since.

I was convinced that John would do great things in a White Sox uniform. I was crushed when I heard he was traded to Pittsburgh the next year. I learned that year, at the age of 10, that baseball was a business. That still didn't sour me on baseball though. It taught me to pay attention more to what was going on off the field. That lesson still sticks with me today. I'm still convinced that if John stayed with the White Sox, his career would have took off. That really wasn't up to John though.

Some of this text was borrowed from Wikipedia, but I think it's OK to re-post some of that here. I wrote it after all. Plus, I gave credit to the site. I was just sick of the lack of information about one of my favorite players from my youth. So, a few months ago I decided to research what I could and post it to Wikipedia. I think John deserves more recognition. If you ever saw Cangelosi play in his prime, you'd feel the same way.

Monday, November 26, 2007

2007 Artifacts

I liked the design of the 2007 Artifacts. It was different from anything I'd ever seen before, at least to my recollection. At least that was my initial impression. I still like it, but it doesn't have the same "Wow" factor that it had when it first came out.

The dirt background is very eye catching and goes well against the antique looking photo seemingly laid on top. It reminded me of a pirate map or some ancient parchment. The intentionally off-centered photo is a little maddening at first, but once you take that in with the background, it turns out to be a nice touch.

I'm always a bit surprised when I see more than three White Sox cards in a set that has 100 or less cards. This shocked me by having six cards in the base set. Three veterans and three rookies. The usual suspects are there for the veterans (Konerko, Thome & Dye) and the rookies are alright, but not overly essential. We'll see where the rookies rate ten years from now.
  • 5 - Jim Thome
  • 6 - Paul Konerko
  • 7 - Jermaine Dye
  • 85 - Jerry Owens
  • 86 - Josh Fields
  • 97 - Ryan Sweeney

Not a bad mix of Sox players for a 100 card set. The cards will pop out at you in a binder. They're not as great as they were upon first arrival, but the cards still hold up well. Nice job Upper Deck. Not great, but good enough.

2006 Topps Co-Signers

My dear lord, what did Topps do? This has to be the one of the ugliest sets of 2006! The picture on the left is very kind to the actual card. The green, red and yellow striping that you see in the scan is actually textured gold foil. The card has gold foil stamped logos and a gold foil stamped signature. This looks like Mr. T's dream card!

Every time I flip through my 2006 collection of White Sox cards, I come to the Co-Signers page and I am instantly repulsed. The design is good. It flows nicely and looks attractive. The picture selection is decent. A nice bright face shot and a greyed out action shot. That looks fine. The gold foil is what detracts from the card. The gold makes the card look cheap and gaudy. If Topps would've left the gold foil to just the signature, the set would rate much higher. It would have been just the right touch of foil. It definitely wouldn't be this overpowering fiasco. Mark Buehrle's face shot pretty much says it all for this release.

Like I mentioned in the paragraph above, there are many positives to this card. The one major negative outweighs most of the positives. There are only three White Sox cards in the base set for this release.
  • 3 - Paul Konerko
  • 33 - Scott Podsednik
  • 53 - Mark Buehrle

The player selection is decent for a 100 card release. Although, the Yankees have 10 cards for their team and the Mets have an astounding 7 cards. The Red Sox only have 4 cards, which is odd. I'm just happy the White Sox have 3 cards. It could have been a lot worse. It is nice to see a Josh Gibson card in the set. This was before the onslaught of mirrored cards of Gibson for this year's Topps set.

I love all White Sox cards, but this set is definitely a candidate for tough love.

2008 Hall Of Fame Potentials

There are four ex-White Sox players on the ballot for 2008. Tim Raines is a first time nominee. Rich Gossage almost got in last year. Other holdovers are Tommy John and Harold Baines.

Tim Raines looks like a safe bet to get in. Mostly for his days with the Montreal Expos. Tim was a force to be reckoned with on the base paths. He was the instigator that helped Montreal hold steady, but not quite harbor success on those great Expos 80's teams. It wasn't really Tim's fault that the Expos couldn't afford their gifted players when they came close to free agency. They had a pool of talent back then that the Yankees could only dream of.

Rich "Goose" Gossage should get in this time. He was a few votes shy of getting in last ballot. I have a feeling he should get those extra votes this time. Hardly anyone but die hard White Sox fans realizes that Rich started his career with the Sox. His later success casts a huge shadow over the beginning of his career.

I'm not sure about Tommy John. He was a gifted pitcher and was an important factor in prolonging the careers of pitchers all over baseball. Yes, he's that Tommy John. The one the surgery was nicknamed after. That may be enough to warrant his inclusion into the Hall. My guess is it won't be quite enough.

The real tragedy of this ballot is Harold Baines. Even though I hope and wish that he will be selected, his slim amount of votes last ballot do not give me a lot of confidence. I know that Harold would go in with a Sox cap, even though he played in Baltimore for a good chunk of time. Harold really was able to use the DH position to his advantage. His career probably should have been over around 1989, when his knee problems started to effect the time he played in right field. He extended the DH role into a career that lasted another 12 years. Harold wasn't the best player around, but he always seemed to deliver in the clutch.

My plea to anyone voting on this ballot is not to waste a write-in vote on Pete Rose. Use that vote for Harold Baines. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. There is a reason why the White Sox retired his number in 1989. He was such a fan favorite, that the talk wasn't about how the Cubs were going to the playoffs in 1989. It was how could they trade away Harold Baines and who are these scrub players Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez? Fred Manrique for Scott Fletcher was understandable. There is a reason why playoff bound teams wanted to trade for him in July. It wasn't to sit on the bench and look at a packed house. It was to give their team the best chance at winning.

Mailbox Joys: 2 Bills Are Better Than One

Another day, another great find in the mail! A 1958 Billy Pierce and a 1958 Bill Fischer. I'm about a third of the way through my 1958 White Sox set. Both were won on separate eBay auctions by the same seller for around a dollar each. While they aren't mint, (there's a slight corner softening) they are very nice looking. The only blemish is a little residue on the back.

The stats for Bill Fischer claim his lively fast ball is tough to hit! It also says that he "toiled 7 years in the Minors". Then he "sharpened up his control" to post an 80-80 mark. From the sound of that, it appears someone might have figured out a way to hit that fast ball. He was traded with Tito Francona to the Tigers for Ray Boone and Bob Shaw. He bounced around from team to team and played his last game for the Twins in 1964. He was picked up by the White Sox five days after he was released from the Twins in 1965 and stayed with the Sox until his final release in 1968, but never made it to the parent club during that time.

Billy Pierce, on the other hand, is a White Sox legend. He played all but five of his eighteen year career with the White Sox. He started in 1945 with the Tigers and ended with the Giants in 1964. Billy was a seven time All-Star and led the league in wins in 1957. His uniform number 19 was retired in 1987 by the Sox. In 2000, he was named to the Sox Team of the Century. In 2007, he was honored with a statue in the center field concourse of US Cellular Field. Not yet a Hall of Famer, his 186 wins for the White Sox place him fourth all-time in club history.

Two Bills on the White Sox who ended their major league careers in 1964 with different teams. Not bad for a couple of bucks.

White Sox Prospects

The comments have been wonderful so far! The Wilbur Wood card in the wallet story was pretty cool. Some of the comments have inspired some postings that I wouldn't have thought of yet.

A comment today asked if their were any hot prospects in the organization. Well, there are to a degree. Nobody is a guaranteed lock, but there is a lot of potential. If they're moved too quickly or too slowly, the results can be disastrous. Take Brian Anderson as an example on both accounts.

Focus is high on knuckleballer Daniel Haigwood. Gio Gonzalez is supposed to be great when he's finally ready to pitch in the big leagues. Jack Egbert and Adam Russell have long shots to make the club this year on the pitching staff.

The ones that have been at the major league level for more than a few games include Ryan Sweeney, John Danks and Josh Fields. The latter two are almost guaranteed jobs on the Sox this year, unless they are used for trade bait.

Aaron Poreda and John Shelby Jr. both showed great abilities the last two months of the minor league season. They were named as co-winners of the Prospect of the Month award over at Poreda was the 25th overall pick in the 2007 draft. He may make the 2010 team as a starter or a power closer. Shelby is a 2006 pick and the son of former major leaguer John Shelby. He moved from second base to center field this year. Shelby may be the center field power hitter answer in a few years.

Anderson Gomes, a Brazilian native, is also a center fielder option for the future. He is a pitcher who blew out his arm and was converted into an outfielder. He has excellent range because he was a star sprinter in Brazil. His arm strength remains excellent for fielding work. He has been compared to Alfonso Soriano.

Juan Moreno had an excellent finish to 2007. In his last seven starts, he was 3-1 with a 1.05 ERA. Juan was named Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year. He's a quick worker like Buehrle and is considered a top competiter.

Casey Rogowski led the AAA team in homers and RBI. Jason Bourgeois has an outside chance to make the team in 2008. Fernando Hernandez might get a shot soon. Fautino De Los Santos seems like he may have the best shot to become something great. Then there's a 24 year old named Ray Liotta. He was on track to be something great, but I haven't heard much about him lately. On the Winston-Salem website he's listed as injured. And no, he's not the actor, but the actor is a distant cousin.

2007 SPx

I've always had a love/hate relationship with cards cut into fancy patterns. They tend to get damaged more often than other cards because of the odd dimensions. When I first saw the SPx cards, I wasn't thrilled with them.

First of all, they were priced high for the amount of cards offered in the pack. I did indulge myself on two or three packs since the product came out. I couldn't justify any more than that. The big pulls were hit and miss in my opinion. If the worth of the cards inside doesn't equal or exceed the price of the pack, it's a rip-off.

The last pack I opened only had base cards in it, even though every pack is supposedly guaranteed a hit. Grand total worth, $2.25. Certainly not worth the nearly $20 per pack price at one of my local card shops. The few "big pulls" I did get were priced around $8.00. I'll be lucky to get $5.00 for each of those. I sell off all my non White Sox cards on eBay to funnel into more White Sox cards. I'm not original, just opportunistic.

Don't get me wrong. I think the cards themselves are sharp. They have a good balanced design and the odd shaping actually works in the card's favor. The cards are packaged in such a way that I've never seen a damaged card. I pulled the Jim Thome base card in the first pack. No other White Sox cards have graced my presence from a pack, only from purchases on eBay. Maybe if I had gotten a better "big pull", I would feel better about the pricing. It is a risk you take not knowing what lies beneath the wrapper. I can live with that.

The White Sox cards (as far as I can tell) are;

Base cards:
  • 8 - Jim Thome
  • 9 - Paul Konerko
  • 10 - Jermaine Dye

Autograph cards:

  • 132 - Ryan Sweeney

Overall, I think this is a great set. If you are collecting only certain cards, I'd go through eBay first instead of going the costly pack route. The base cards can be found for excellent bargains there. So can some of the "big pulls". I just wouldn't be one to waste my money on two base cards and an underwhelming pull. Especially when they can be found on eBay cheaper than the price of a pack with shipping and insurance included.

He Longs To Be Close To You

How close was Kenny Williams to landing Torii Hunter? A lot closer than you think. Check this story out. There was a lot of admiration between Torii and the White Sox it seems. A deal was set to sign and be announced when Los Angeles swooped in and snapped up Torii with an unbelievable offer.

With all the figures and perks that were extended to Torii, by each team, out in the open, it's scary to see just how close he was to signing with the White Sox. It's nice to know that Kenny Williams is very business-like in his pursuits and doesn't take anything personally with Torii's signing. Hopefully, Kenny is in hot pursuit of Plan 1B, as he likes to put it.

It's also nice to see the lengths to which the White Sox and its players will go to in improving the team. I hope this kind of presentation goes on to all the potential big signings.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I Wakamatsu, Do You?

1991 was an odd year for White Sox baseball. It was a year of hope, coming one year after a second place finish out of nowhere. Many players came and went during this season. One that will always stick in my mind is Don Wakamatsu.

Mind you, it wasn't for anything he really did in a baseball game. Third string backup catchers don't usually get a lot of playing time. From May 22 until October 5, 1991, Don played in a total of 18 games. He only had seven hits in 31 at bats, all singles. He had more major league baseball cards (2) than he had walks (1).

The reason he sticks out is his last name, Wakamatsu. It's just fun to say! You cannot say his name without cracking a smile. I had no idea he even had a card until earlier this year, when I found his name among the players on the 1992 Score White Sox team set. I was in shock! How did this card slip by me when it came out. 1992 was the last year of major card collecting in my youth. By 1993, it started to trail off. I never got a Wakamatsu card, my friends never got a Wakamatsu card. I never even saw one at a show.

Then, as I did a little research for this posting, I found a second Wakamatsu card! It was like I was 15 again! I only found evidence of these two cards, but that was two more than I ever knew existed before this year. I perked up a few years ago when I spotted a familiar name in the Rangers dugout at US Cellular Field. Don Wakamatsu was a coach. It's the little things like that, that will keep me happy the entire day.

Don only played that one year in the majors. I kept thinking about Don whenever the Sox needed another catcher, but the Sox were content on Matt Merullo and Nelson Santovenia. I've heard that now Don is a coach on the Athletics. Good for him! I'm still glad he's in baseball in some capacity. My friends and I still bring up the name Wakamatsu in conversation lulls. It's always good for a smile. So, thank you Don Wakamatsu! Your career didn't last too long, but you are still talked about on the South Side.

Cory Snyder: Benched Power Hitter

Hi, I'm Cory Snyder. You may remember me from such teams as the 1984 Olympic Silver Medal Team and the Cleveland Indians. What you may not know is that I was also on the Chicago White Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. What do you mean, "What happened to me after 1990"? I just told you.

The White Sox were supposed to be a new start for Cory. He had been a little underwhelming at the plate since belting 33 home runs in his rookie year in Cleveland, but still had solid numbers. He struck out more than average, but that's usually true with power hitters. He was just hitting a comfort zone when he was traded to the White Sox. Everything was looking up until he came in contact with one uncompromising man by the name of Walt Hriniak.

It was Walt's way or the highway. Cory was unable to adjust to becoming a line drive hitter. He was told that he was going to be playing everyday, mostly in right field, but sometimes in left. Sammy Sosa blasts two home runs for the White Sox on opening day and Cory was the odd man out after getting only a couple of hits that day. The Sox made Cory a bench player after that. Being a bench player is one of the hardest things to do in baseball. Some players thrive on that, others need to play everyday to get consistency. Cory needed to play everyday to get through slumps. Manager Jeff Torborg thought otherwise.

Luck was not on Cory's side though. It seemed that every team he would stick with would sign someone after they committed to Cory, and that player would play instead of Cory. I remember being very psyched when I first heard the Sox got Cory. He was one of my favorite players on the Indians in the late 80's. I really hate the fact that the Sox misused him and refused to let him hit in a manner that brought him earlier success.

It's interesting the sort of dirt that surfaces many years later that the normal fan would be oblivious to back then. That sort of thing would be all over the blogs nowadays, but back then there wasn't an immeidate outlet for that. I wish they would've used Cory properly. He may have had a longer career. He may have been with the White Sox longer. The Sox may have won it all in 1993, instead of being beaten by the Blue Jays.

Even after all this time, I still have fond memories of Cory playing. I just wish the White Sox knew what they had and how to use it to its full potential.

Card Spotlight 11-23-07

1991 Arena Holograms #3 - Frank Thomas

I look at this card and I see possibilities. Look at that swing. Look at that face. This is a great card! This would have been my holy grail of the 1991 cards had I obtained it in 1991. It's like Frank Thomas is looking into his own future.

The first thought that popped in my head the moment I saw this card was how much Frank reminded me of Hank Aaron here. Call me crazy, but something about the swing and the look on Frank's face reminds me of Hammerin' Hank.

I've never run into a card of Frank that looks quite like this. I am amazed this can take me back to the feelings I had when I first saw Frank in the big leagues. It's a sense of awe and wonderment. A sense that Frank is going to be a monster of a player and he's going to be in a White Sox uniform until he gets to the Hall Of Fame. Well, like Meatloaf sang, two outta three ain't bad. I'm almost certain that Frank will be enshrined. I'm about 99.99% on that. I'm 100% sure that he'll have a White Sox cap on when he goes.

It's cards like these that make me grateful that I collect cards. Any card that can evoke a positive memory is definitely a keeper.

Friday, November 23, 2007

RIP Joe Kennedy

White Sox Cards is not always about the White Sox, although it mostly is. From time to time, something will pop up that has nothing to do with the White Sox. Something important enough to make a comment on. While I always try to find the White Sox angle, some stories just don't have one. This is one of those postings.

By the time I pulled this Topps card of Joe Kennedy, the season was already over and Joe had already been released by the Diamondbacks and picked up by the Blue Jays. I have no clue if he was ever on Kenny Williams radar, but he was on mine. I know that's no consolation for the news that hit everyone this morning. It's nice to know that he was definitely noticed before today.

Joe had a decent career with the Devil Rays, the Rockies, the Athletics, the Diamondbacks and the Blue Jays. He was only 28 and certainly far from being washed up. As of this moment, there is no news of what happened, only that Joe is no longer with us.

Joe Kennedy left a wife and a child. We may never know the reasons why, but he was not forgotten. Left handers certainly knew who Joe was. At the time of Arizona's claim of Joe off of waivers, he was holding left handers to a .203 average. Not too shabby.

My thoughts go out to Joe's family and friends in this uncertain time. Please know that he mattered and he was not forgotten.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

1963 Rookie Stars

November 22 always reminds me of 1963. If you don't know why, please google the date. I can wait. There, you know. Let's move on, shall we? When I'm reminded of 1963 in regards to baseball, I think of this card to the left. It is one of the most coveted cards in the 1963 Topps set. It is worth $1,000. I will probably never own it, unless it is gifted to me. I wouldn't want to own it for the player on the bottom left. Not that I have anything against the hit king, Pete Rose. I don't. I'm crazy enough to want to own it for the player on the bottom right, Al Weis.

Al took over in a platoon role at second base when Nellie Fox was traded in 1964. That year the Sox came in second, one game behind the Yankees. This was a time before divisions, so it was literally all or nothing. He was nothing more than a utility infielder, but they sometimes play the most important roles on a team.

During the middle of the 1967 season, Al broke his leg in a nasty collision with Frank Robinson at second base. An injured utility player during the sixties was something that usually spelled trade or release. Al got traded, along with Tommie Agee (the 1966 AL Rookie of the Year), to the Mets after the 1967 season.

Fate stepped in for Al Weis in New York. He was part of the 1969 Miracle Mets who won the World Series that year. He was instrumental in both of Jerry Koosman's (a future Sox pitcher) wins in game 2 and game 5. In game 2, he singled to score the winning run off of Dave McNally. In game 5, he homered (off of McNally) in the seventh to tie the game. Al's place in history was cemented.

Fame is fleeting though and Al was released by the Mets on July 1, 1971. He batted an abysmal .218 for his career with 7 home runs. It is said that Al remembers each one. As well he should, it's 7 more than I've ever hit in a major league game.

The Halos Hunted By Cover Of Darkness

Torii Hunter got a contract from the Los Angeles Angels for $90MM over 5 years. That's $18MM per year. News of this leaked out in the wee hours of the morning today. The Angels are taking a page out of Kenny Williams book. I never heard a word about their interest.

What does this mean to the Sox? It means that the Sox will concentrate on "The Legend" Aaron Rowand, Andruw Jones, Kosuke Fukudome, finding a scrap heap bargain, finding a rookie bargain, trading for a center fielder or staying with what they got. I know, that's a lot to digest. Fortunately, that's why it's Kenny Williams job to sort that out.

As evidenced by my favorite card of Torii Hunter, he's shocked that someone actually gave him $90MM. I'm a bit shocked too. That's about $3MM more per year than he really should be worth. If the Angels want to overpay for him, that's their business. It smells a bit like a Scott Boras move though. Wine and dine and promise alliances, only to use those teams as bait for a bigger paycheck.

I am a bit disappointed that I won't be showing the 2007 Allen & Ginter card of Torii to friends. I like to show off cards of White Sox acquisitions with former teams. You know, to get the fan base used to what the players look like and what they do. That would've been a sweet card to show around.

I like Torii and I think he would've made an excellent addition to the Sox outfield. When Jim Thome and Paul Konerko are reported to have texted Hunter on the benefits of the Chicago White Sox, it seems like desperation. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Only time will tell on that though. With that said, I can't wait to see what the Sox do with centerfield this year! I want to know who's series two card I can look forward to collecting next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sox Acquire Linebrink?

I've been hearing rumblings tonight that the White Sox have signed Scott Linebrink. It's about time that Kenny Williams addressed the bullpen issue. This could be wishful thinking on Bruce Levine's part. He's a reporter for the Chicago based ESPN radio station. Apparently, the signing is pending a physical next week. If this turns out to be true, this is a good sign for the Sox.

I expect one or two more trades and maybe two more free agent signings after this. Again, this is pure speculation. The way I see it, the Sox have too many third basemen, too many shortstops, too few outfielders and too few relief pitchers. So this potential signing makes sense.

Scott seems to be a perfect fit for a setup man for Bobby Jenks. The only thing that's making me leery about this is that there's no mention of it on or any of the official MLB sites. If this signing is the real thing, welcome to the South Side, Scott. You'll love it here and we need your pitching expertise desperately.

***UPDATE: It has been confirmed Linebrink has signed a four year, $19MM contract.***

Happy Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving mere hours away, it occurs to me that Tom Turkey is not some obscure White Sox player. Thanksgiving really isn't about turkey. There have been many Thanksgivings that I've had lasagna instead. This is a holiday where you count the good things in your life. A day to take stock of yourself, not just stuff yourself.

All this leads me to the question that keeps popping up in my mind. What am I thankful for? The following list is in no particular order of importance, just the random order that they popped into my head.

  • my fiancee
  • my family
  • my health
  • 2008 White Sox baseball
  • 2005 White Sox World Championship
  • my friends
  • Pearl Jam still being together
  • baseball card releases all throughout the year
  • my garage band
  • my DVD collection
  • my music collection
  • my cat
  • laughter
  • living just outside of Chicago
  • all the little things that go unnoticed
  • the warm reception I've gotten from this blog from other bloggers

To all the people mentioned here and all the little things left unmentioned, thank you. To all the people reading this, thanks for spending a little bit of your time here and Happy Thanksgiving.

2007 Legendary Cuts

I always like the Legendary Cuts sets from Upper Deck. This year's set is not up to their usual standards. It looks OK, but I liked the 2006 set much better.

One thing that keeps this set from being great is that it's too dark. Black and red is a nice color combo, but it drowns out the picture here. There's too little picture and too much black. The darkness also blurs the fine detail that Upper Deck put into the card. There's nice scrolling and a nameplate underneath the picture, but do you see it? All I see from this picture is a tarnished dark gold-greenish blob with specks of black. The red is used effectively, but it would've been more complimentary if it was contrasted against something a little lighter to get the details.

The Legendary Cuts sets are always difficult to complete in team sets. There is little info given as to which team a player is on until you actually see the card itself. I recently found a missing card to the 2006 team set that I thought I had completed back in May 2007. You just never know what team a player is going to pop up on. That being said, I think I've pieced together the White Sox team set list for 2007.

20 - Luis Aparicio
21 - Nellie Fox
22 - Luke Appling
108 - Nellie Fox (Legendary Lineage) /550
121 - Al Lopez (Legendary Lineage) /550
122 - Luis Aparicio (Legendary Lineage) /550
123 - Luke Appling (Legendary Lineage) /550

Luke Appling is a no brainer unless they used they used a picture of him on the minor league Atlanta Crackers. The others have a slight chance of not being on the White Sox. I'm sure of the regular printed base set 20,21, and 22, because I have those cards in hand.

So Long Pods

Scott Podsednik was an enigma. When he was healthy, it seemed as if he could do no wrong. When he wasn't... well that's a different story.

2005 started out so promising for Scott. He always seemed to find a way to first base. Then he'd be on third in the blink of an eye. He really helped the White Sox get that huge lead in the Central by mid season. He even made the All-Star team in 2005 by fan vote. Then the injuries started to happen. Stolen bases went way down and he couldn't get on base to save his life.

He finally got healthy enough to participate down the stretch and in the playoffs. The playoffs is where Scott really shined. He had two home runs in the post-season, after hitting zero in the regular season. The White Sox broke an 88 year drought with a World Series Championship in 2005. Scott was happy, the Sox were happy, Chicago was happy. He even got a cameo on SNL.

Then in February 2006, Scott married former Playmate Lisa Dergan. Scott's focus didn't seem to be on the game and the injuries just started to pile on, one after the other. Even though he got his first grand slam in 2006, it was a down year statistically.

The White Sox figured 2006 was a fluke and gambled on Scott being healthy and back to form. They lost their shirts. 2007 saw Scott play less time because of injuries. Finally, the Sox designated Scott for assignment on November 20, 2007. They couldn't chance another outfield mess like the 2007 season. In another week and a half, we should see what's in store for Scott Podsednik. He could be outrighted to the minors, released, traded or waived.

The future does not look bright for Scott right now. Hopefully, he'll get healthy and start stealing bases again. It just probably won't be for the White Sox. He has a lot of upside, but it's really a gamble to find out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hello Wilbur

What do you think when you hear the name Wilbur Wood? Could it be White Sox? Or knuckleball pitcher? or innings eater? How about Red Sox or Pirates? No? Well Wilbur did start out with the Boston Red Sox in 1961. He was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates in September of 1964. He didn't make it onto the White Sox until the 1967 season. Juan Pizarro was traded to Pittsburgh for him.

On the White Sox is where Wilbur really shined. Wilbur took the advice of Hoyt Wilhelm and used the knuckleball exclusively. Armed with that knowledge, he went to the 1971, 1972 and 1974 All-Star games. He only played in the 1972 game though. He led the league in games started in 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975. He started an astounding 49 games in 1972! That's slightly shy of 1/3 of all the games that season.

He may still be pitching today if it wasn't for his start on May 9, 1976. Future White Sox outfielder Ron LeFlore hit a line drive that shattered Wilbur's left knee. After a considerable amount of rehab, he actually pitched two more seasons for the White Sox, ending his career in 1978. He was never quite the same after the injury, but the fact that he could pitch after that was nothing short of remarkable. Medical technology in 1976 was a far cry from what it is today. That sort of injury back then was literally career ending.

An interesting note is that Wilbur only had one win in his time before the White Sox. He started his career in 1961 and didn't get to the Sox until 1967. That's a little strange. With Chicago, he got 163 wins. Go figure. Gaylord Perry just squeaked by him in Cy Young voting in 1972. That was the year that Wilbur went 24-17. That's not a football score, that was his win-loss totals for one year. It's unfathomable to think of that happening today.

I chose the 1975 card to showcase Wilbur basically because it's so colorful. The red White Sox hat with the powder blue uniform with red lettering. Put that on top of the hybrid ketchup-mustard border and you've got a card that could only be produced in the mid-70's. Then you have the team name and the baseball popping out at you, while the player's name just sits there doing nothing. I wonder how much acid the artists took when they designed this card. Sure, it's a classic design today, but in 1975 someone must have been on something more than Coca-Cola. Even as a kid, I thought it was an eyesore. But then again, I turned out to be an Art major in high school. So, I suppose I was offset by the atrocities of color combinations.

I hear so much about the Southside Hitmen and Disco Demolition and Bill Veeck and Bill Melton and Carlos May. I hear almost nothing about Wilbur Wood. Why is that? I was so glad to see a card of him issued by Upper Deck a few years ago in a Decade Greats set. Wilbur definitely deserves the recognition. I don't think I've seen his name pop up too often (if at all) in Richard Roeper's column in the Chicago Sun Times. He's always peppering his columns with White Sox tidbits. Especially from the 70's. He's a rabid White Sox fan when he's not trying to be Ernie Souchak.

Gene Gene The Pitching Machine

Wayland Eugene Nelson. Yes, I read the back of old Donruss cards too. He came to the White Sox in 1984 from the Mariners. He was gone at the end of 1986 to the team you all associate him with, the Oakland A's.

Being a middle reliever in the 80's must have really sucked. At that time the only pitchers the public cared about were the starting pitchers. The closers were slowly getting noticed, but the middle relievers walked anonymously through the crowd. They could pass for an overzealous fan if it weren't for the fact that they were on the field and the security guards didn't care about it.

Gene looks like he's wondering when he'll get some attention. Well, it wouldn't be with the Sox. I'll bet when he got traded to Chicago, he thought he'd be going to the playoffs every year. And why not think like that? The 1983 Sox won their division by TWENTY GAMES! That's unheard of. Plus they picked up Tom Seaver. What's not to like? It just goes to show you that what looks good on paper, almost never materializes. Some players never come close to career years again. That's why I still believe that any team is capable of beating any other team on any given day.

Gene's career year came in 1990 with the Oakland A's. He had an ERA of 1.57 as a middle reliever and went to World Series in 1988, 1989 and 1990. The A's even won in 1989. Not even an earthquake could stop them that year. Gene was a big part of those teams, but 1990 was his year. He got the press, he got the attention, everything came together. He was setting up Dennis Eckersley, life was grand.

Reality has a funny way of deflating your ego. In 1991, Gene's performance started to slip. In August of 1992, he was released from the A's. After stints with the Angels and the Rangers in 1993, he was out of major league baseball.

1985 Topps is the first set I remember actively collecting. I vividly remember riding my bike up to the local drugstore to wander the candy aisle in search of packs. I could either pick up some packs, some candy, or some comics. If I played my cards right, I had enough for all three. Although, I never got this card in a pack of Topps. This was a traded card. I didn't even know these cards existed until I saw the 1990 set at a local card shop when it first came out.

I can still picture Gene coming out of the bullpen in the sixth inning at old Comiskey Park relieving Tom Seaver against the Red Sox in April. Yes, I was at that game too. Before the talk on ESPN, before the World Series ring, before 1990, he was on the Chicago White Sox.

The Sandy Alomar Picture Show

OK, is it just my imagination or is this the same picture for the 1968 and 1969 Topps cards of Sandy Alomar? The 1968 card looks like the original picture and the 1969 card looks like it was airbrushed slightly to make it appear like a different photo. He actually looks like he was airbrushed younger in 1969.

I've heard many complaints that Topps reuses the same picture on the front and backs of their cards nowadays. This is just plain lazy compared to that! Granted they only really used posed shots for the cards at this point, it couldn't have been too hard to get Sandy to pose again or to use one of the throwaway shots from the original shoot. Then again, the photographer could've said, "Same pose this year. Go ahead and stand in the same spot. Try and look a little younger."

I kinda doubt that, but I wasn't around then. You never know. I do know that these are 2 of the 3 cards that I know about of Sandy in a White Sox uniform. The other was a 1969 team issue black & white card. That is the card I don't own. I own the two doppelgangers pictured above. For all I know the team issue card might be this shot, just in black & white. If it is, I'll be happy if someone airbrushed a Sox cap on him.

Mailbox Joys

I found an unexpected envelope in the mailbox yesterday. By unexpected, I mean I forgot about it because it came extremely fast. I wasn't expecting it until maybe Friday, since Thursday is a holiday.

This would be my first 1964 White Sox card. Years 18 through 29 were dominated by work, women and music and movie collecting. Put those in any order you like. Your list is probably true. Both of these guys look like they are straight out of 1964. Pencil-thin white guys with what looks like crew cuts and one of them has glasses. If that doesn't scream mid-60's Midwest America, I don't know what does.

These two have more in common than you might think. They both had slightly under average ERAs. They both came up in the early sixties. They both were out of major league baseball by the end of the decade. They both started their careers with the White Sox and finished with the Washington Senators. Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln. Ahem, well you get my drift. Lots of eerie coincidences.

Bruce Howard was on the White Sox from 1963 to 1967. He and two other players were traded to the Baltimore Orioles after the 1967 season for Luis Aparicio and two other players. In July of 1968, Baltimore traded him to the Senators for Fred Valentine. He had a career ERA of 3.18 and was 26-31 in his career. Not bad, but not great.

Frank Kreutzer was on the White Sox from 1962 to 1964. He was the player to be named later in a trade to the Senators for Moose Skowron and another player in July 1964. Frank played for Washington until 1966. He next played a major league game in 1969. He played 4 games for the Senators and was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He never appeared in a game with the Pirates. Frank's career ERA was 4.40 and was 8-18 in his career. Not exactly Bob Gibson. What happened to Frank? I can't find any info so far. He either had to go down to the minors a few years to work things out or he got injured.

Anyway, I'm glad to have a card of these two 1964 rookies. It starts my 1964 team set and that can never be a bad thing. It seems like these two are a couple of hard luck pitchers. I could be wrong. The 1964 design is one of my favorites of the 1960's. It's simple and the lettering seems very inviting. I know that sounds strange, but that's how I feel about it.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I will never forget that image as long as I live. Steve Lyons slides into first base, gets up and starts dusting himself off. A few seconds later I see the unbuckling of pants. I think to myself that he's brushing dirt off and tucking his shirt back in. No big deal. Then I see bare thigh and a quick hike up with the pants. Then Steve Lyons with a face as red as his previous Sox team in Boston. All he did then was laugh.

I can only imagine this happening to Steve Lyons. He frequently dove into first base, like a poor man's Pete Rose. I won't remember Steve Lyons in that way though. I'll remember him as the player who played every position in meaningless exhibition game against the Cubs. I'll remember him high-fiving a fan who caught a foul ball. I'll remember him as a player who tried to make the game fun and always seemed like he was having a good time, even if you weren't in on the joke.

I chose to showcase his 1990 Fleer card for two reasons. In my opinion, it was his most successful year and he always reminded me of Nellie Fox in this photo. The way the shadows hit his face made me think of the wad of chewing tobacco that always seemed to be in Nellie's mouth. He also looks like a pretty decent guy in the photo. The sky makes him look larger than life and he seems confident like a superhero. This is definitely my favorite card of Steve Lyons.

There's only one way he'll be remembered as a player. Bunting to get on base on July 16, 1990. Steve's called safe. The Tiger's pitcher disagrees and argues with the umpire. Steve feels something down his leg. He pulls his pants down and brushes away the dirt. Then the crowd goes ballistic.

Steve was one of the bright spots in a lot of the bad Sox teams of the late 80's. He was also part of the resurgence in 1990 that almost got the Sox into the playoffs. The White Sox had two no-hitters that year. Melido Perez had one. Andy Hawkins of the Yankees had the other. The Sox won both games. That is how special the 1990 team was. But since they didn't make the playoffs, Steve Lyons is the one thing that sticks out from that season.

After the self-pantsing, women would sit behind the Sox dugout waving dollar bills and calling out to him. This is the strange world of Steve Lyons. One that is self created, but strange nonetheless. I wonder if he ever got any women's phone numbers from that.

The sad thing is now that may get overshadowed by something Steve did off the field, in the broadcast booth during the 2006 playoffs. He was making comments about Lou Piniella "hablaing Espanol" and said shortly afterward, "I still can't find my wallet." Then Steve compounded everything by saying, "I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit too close to him now". He was promptly fired for making racial comments that Fox Sports found inappropriate.

Still, I will fondly remember Steve Lyons as a player who always had a smile, always cared for the fan and always made every play seem like the most important of his career.

Dummy Hoy

The first batter in 1901 for the White Sox was Dummy Hoy. This was the first year for the American League. Dummy, who's real name was William, was deaf and mute. He was the first deaf major leaguer. There was at least one other that came after him (Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor), but William was the first.

Items like this pop up all the time while I'm researching the history of the White Sox. I was trying to find out who had the first hit for the White Sox in 1901 when I found this. I'm still not sure who did get that first hit. I couldn't find any box scores from the game. All I know is that the White Stockings defeated the Cleveland Blues 8-2 on April 24, 1901. I'm guessing it wasn't a no-hitter by Cleveland or else I'd find a box score for this game. Somewhere in those 8 runs was the first official Chicago White Sox American League hit.

Dummy's first major league team was the Washington Senators in 1888. He stole an astounding 82 bases for the Senators, which was a record for the 1888 season. He came to the White Stockings in 1900. It was the team's first year in Chicago, when they were still in the Western League. The Western League was considered a minor league. In 1901, Dummy hit .294 in 132 games playing center field. The White Stockings took the first American League pennant in 1901, but there was no World Series yet.

Dummy had 155 hits that second season in Chicago. Was one of them the first White Sox American League hit? I may never know. I hope to someday though. I do know that he hit the second grand slam in American League history on May 1, 1901. The first one was also hit on May 1st by his teammate Herm McFarland earlier in the same game.

Unfortunately, there are no cards of Dummy Hoy as a member of the White Stockings. There are a handful of him on the Senators. The one I chose to show was an Old Judge card from the 19th century. I would love to own a White Stocking card of Dummy Hoy! Maybe a company like Upper Deck can include him in next year's Legendary Cuts? Just a thought.

For more info on Dummy Hoy check out

California Cool

Jon Garland to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera and cash.

Not exactly the Cabrera I was expecting to be on the White Sox. Considering Orlando's OBP is average, it will be a step up from the lows this past season. My question is, now that the Sox picked up Juan Uribe's $5MM option and a new $9MM shortstop, what do they do with Juan Uribe? I'm sure Kenny Williams has something in mind, but I'd love to know what.

I've been a vocal champion for Jon Garland since he got to the South Side. I just didn't have a blog until this month. I've been pulling for this guy for a long time. First off, it was just a great trade to hold over the Cubs. Their top prospect for one crappy reliever. I'm happy when Garland's successful and frustrated when he's not. Jon has a boatload of potential. He just doesn't tap into it all the time.

The press around Chicago would get on his case a lot for the way he presented himself. He came off as not caring, but it was his California upbringing. Jon's laid back and doesn't let things get to him. It certainly didn't help that he was constantly in trade rumors for the past few years.

I've learned long ago that baseball is a business. That doesn't mean that you don't get attached to players. That's the beauty of this game. Players stick with you for one reason or another. It could be a great performance or a kind gesture or you think the guy looks like your uncle. Whatever it is, you latch on to these players and follow their careers long after they've left your team. Jon is one of those guys for me.

Jon, I appreciated all that you've done for the White Sox. Usually a guaranteed 12 wins a season and a World Championship. Good luck in California. Maybe you'll make your way back to the White Sox in free agency. To Orlando Cabrera, welcome to Chicago. You'll love it here.

Blame Gandhi?

Contrary to popular belief, Ozzie Guillen didn't manage the White Sox until 2004. Ozzie was hired in the 2003 off-season, when he was a third base coach for the Florida Marlins. Before that, Ozzie had a bitter ending to his White Sox career in 1997 and wanted nothing to do with the team until enough time had passed. Jerry Manuel was the Sox manager before Ozzie Guillen from 1998 to 2003.

Jerry "Gandhi" Manuel couldn't control a clubhouse. He had too many players at the DH position. Frank Thomas, Jose Canseco and Harold Baines at various times. Frank Thomas was coming back into his early 90's form at this point. Not even Gandhi sits Frank. Harold Baines is a man whose uniform number was retired in 1989 by the White Sox. Although he didn't actually retire until 2001. There's not many places for Canseco to fit in.

There's no room for Frank Thomas at his natural position because Paul Konerko is there. There's no room for Jose Canseco in the outfield because Magglio Ordonez was in right, Carlos Lee was in left and the Aaron Rowand and Chris Singleton are in center. I don't even want to think about Jose pitching. Besides, if he's pitching, Jose is not going to bat. You'd have to get rid of the DH position for the game and no one in their right mind sits Frank Thomas when he's on fire.

But wait, what if Frank gets injured? What do you do then? Well, first you switch fan favorite Harold Baines from pinch hitter to full time DH. What happens when that fails to excite nothing but the fan base? You sign Jose Canseco from the Newark Bears.

Jose debuted in a White Sox uniform on June 21, 2001. Appropriately the first day of summer. He played all the way to the last game in October, mostly as a DH. He subbed for Maggs in right field for two games in July and pinch hit a few times. He played consistently after he arrived in Chicago. Ultimately, he ended up batting .258 with 16 home runs. Not bad, but not setting the world on fire either. It sure beats playing for a minor league team after being cut by the Angels in spring training that year.

Jose did his job for the time the Sox needed him. By 2002, Frank Thomas was back and healthy. Frank played 148 games in 2002. Jose chose to sign with the Montreal Expos in 2002 and was released in spring training. Canseco retired in May 2002.

It's my opinion that the stars aligned for Jose Canseco in 2001. He got consistent playing time for a team that needed him. I think that says a lot about the character of Jose Canseco and the organization of the White Sox.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Completing A 1968 Topps White Sox Set

I'm slowly trying to get older White Sox team sets completed. I even count the multi player cards with a Sox player on them, like multi player rookie cards and category leaders.

To help me with this task, I'm using a number of resources to compile a list of every White Sox card in every set. A monumental task, I know, but so worth it. I'll finally have a resource to help me track down my lofty goal of one of every White Sox card in existence.

I recently got the last card for the 1968 Topps set in the mail. Ken Berry, #485. This is the oldest team set I have completed so far, which is a long time coming. One of the first older cards I bought in the early 90's was the 1968 Sandy Alomar from a coin shop in Chicago.

The 1968 set looks like it was from 1968. It really looks like couch material with a picture placed lovingly on top. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just looks dated. It's fugly looking, but I couldn't picture it looking any other way. I mean fugly in the most sincere way possible. It's design is simple and brilliant. Just not as simple as next year's cards would be, and brilliant only in a sixties conservative way.

There's something comforting in completing a card set that's 8 years older than you. A set that was brand new when my parents got married. It's like you're digging into history and taking a little something back with you. Whatever the feeling is, I'm just happy to get this set completed. Now it can take over from 1974 as my oldest completed White Sox set.

Jose Can You See The 206

I've voiced strong opinions about *alleged steroid users in the past few days. I'll tell you this... I have no problem with Jose Canseco. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's a saint. He's not. He made a mistake and he was man enough to own up to it.

I know what you're thinking. Canseco is alright in your book because he was with the White Sox. Sammy Sosa was with the Sox for many early years. I don't give Sosa a free pass. He never admitted it. Jose did. Even though he named names in his book, it was the last straw that forced MLB to finally look at the problem instead of pretending it would go away.

I've done everything from admire Jose to laugh at him during his first 15 years in the majors. I loved watching him hit homers. I cringed when he tried to pitch and ended up injuring himself in the process. I laughed when the fly ball hit his head and bounced over the wall for a home run. Yes, I've followed his career long before he ever considered putting a White Sox uniform on.

That being said, on to cards! I didn't really get back into baseball cards full time until this year. I picked up a few White Sox sets here and there the past few years, but never got into a lot of the releases that came out. To be honest, I never knew most of them existed. So, when I run across something I've never seen before, it's like a brand new release to me.

A few months ago, I came across Topps 206 while I was investigating White Sox tobacco cards on eBay. I thought I might be able to pick up one or two relatively cheap. I haven't found a good deal at the same time that I have money to spend... yet. But there these cards were. They intrigued me, so I picked up a full White Sox team set. The fact that Jose Canseco and Tom Seaver were part of the set instantly hooked me. I'm always looking for Canseco cards of his time with the White Sox. The only one I had really seen up to that point was a Donruss card.

When the set arrived, I was not disappointed. They are simply beautiful cards. They remind me a bit of the 2007 Bowman Heritage set. Very striking imagery. It seemed like slight overkill that Maggs had 3 cards, but that's OK. I can live with that. The cards remind me of artwork where markers are the medium. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but the results are beautiful.

Friday, November 16, 2007

2006 Topps 52

I still think 2006 Topps 52 is a great set. This set does retro well. Topps has used their 1952 design to overkill the past decade. This set doesn't show it though. For some reason this seems fresh and new, yet old school.

Although, the Boone Logan card looks absolutely goofy. I don't really want to know what he's doing. If I had to speculate, I'd say maybe he's making faces at children. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check eBay for it. I won't dignify the blog with that unique pose.

Anyway here's the checklist of this fantastic set of White Sox cards. Yes, I included the Debut Flashbacks card too.

72 - Boone Logan
100 - Sean Tracey
127 - Brian Anderson
151 - Agustin Montero

DF18 - Frank Thomas

The Frank Thomas Debut Flashbacks looks nice. It shows him in the 1990 uniform, right before the change to the pinstripes. Sean Tracey looks nothing like the man that Ozzie Guillen made cry. Brian Anderson looks like he's trying to turn his back on the White Sox out of frustration. Agustin Montero seems like he's being very cautious for some reason. Maybe he got wind of what was going to happen to Sean Tracey when he wouldn't throw at a batter in retaliation.

Now, the interesting news. Topps 52 is coming out in 2007. Same design. Hopefully different players. This is what causes collectors to cry overkill. Shouldn't it be Topps 53? Maybe even Topps 51. Like I said, it's a great looking card, but two years in a row? I suppose everyone in the major leagues will have a 1952 Topps card in their own image eventually. I guess I could live with that. Originality suffers the more one goes back to the well. It's great to look back. I enjoy doing it, but there's also something to be said about living in the present.

Wax Heaven Support

I agree with Wax Heaven about banishing the steroid era players who have been caught. We can't change the games themselves, but we can ignore tainted statistics. Roger Maris still owns the single season home run record of 61. No asterisk, just skill. Sorry Babe, the asterisk is gone from Maris' record. Hank Aaron is still the Home Run King. Welcome back Roger and welcome back Hank. We missed you. If there has to be someone who broke Aaron's record in 2007, change the name to Kurt Brown. I outlined my reasons why in an earlier post.

Most of the high profile steroid users, sorry *alleged steroid users, wore the number 25. Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, Giambi, even Sosa at one point with the White Sox. I would like to proclaim the greatest hitter to wear number 25 in the steroid era is Jim Thome.

Jim is a constant professional, who volunteers his off-time to help worthy charities. He's unselfish enough to swing a pink bat on Mother's Day, wear number 42 on Jackie Robinson day, and loves being a team player. See, you can still be a team player and get your numbers. Yes White Sox fans, I loved Aaron Rownd and Frank Thomas too, but Jim Thome is so much better than Aaron Rowand at the plate and Jim is so much better with the media and fans than Frank ever was. I think at some point Frank may have "believed the hype". Although, I am so glad that McGwire for Thomas trade never happened that was almost a done deal around 1992.

When Jim Thome hit his 500th home run, he put a prize package together for whatever fan caught it. Then the fan gave part of that prize to Jim's charity. In turn, Jim offered to fly the fan and a few friends in to the Cubs-Sox game to watch the action in his personal suite. This is the kind of guy the fans should be rooting for. And why did Jim want that home run ball so badly? So he and his father could take a trip and personally deliver it to the Hall Of Fame during the off-season. That is the complete opposite of what Barry Bonds stands for.

C'mon, this is the type of player we need to be rooting for. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was standing in my living room for Jim's entire at bat when he hit 500. I had the grin of a child and started to tear up with joy when that ball went out. I wasn't even angry that he didn't do it the previous night, because I was at that game. It was the first 500th home run to be a game winning home run. Appropriately enough, it came on Jim Thome bobblehead giveaway day.

Card Spotlight 11-16-07

Eddie Robinson's best years were with the White Sox. As of this posting, this is the oldest card I own. A 1952 Red Man in mint condition with the tab still in place.

Eddie's best season was in 1951. He hit .282 with 29 home runs and 117 RBI. All for the Chicago White Sox. Eddie also played for 7 of the original 8 teams in the American League. The only one he didn't play for was the Boston Red Sox, but he was a scout for them later on.

His career included stops with the Indians, the Senators, the White Sox, the Athletics (in Philadelphia and Kansas City), the Yankees, the Tigers and the Orioles. Too bad he didn't play for the Browns too, which were the Orioles before they moved from St. Louis. But that bit of information is a bit of an open secret in baseball. The Orioles rarely acknowledge that fact.

This card is great! It has beautiful, vibrant colors. It's over sized, square, and just a wonder to look at. Red Mans can still be picked up relatively cheap. I picked this one up in an auction on eBay for slightly over a dollar, if I'm remembering correctly. If I'm not, it wasn't much over that. In most cases, you can pick up the common players for less than a new pack of cards.

Eddie looks confident and focused, ready to smack one of those 29 home runs when he gets up to the plate. I saw this card and instantly fell in love with the design. They don't make cards like this one anymore and that's a shame.

The Kurt Brown Situation

With the fifth pick in the 1985 draft, the Chicago White Sox choose catcher Kurt Brown from Glendora High School in California. Those words are now the sweetest words in the English language. With the sixth pick in the 1985 draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates chose Barry Bonds.

The White Sox were so close in the '85 draft. They chose a catcher who never made it past AAA, instead of an outfielder who broke Hank Aaron's home run record. That one pick may have made the difference between making the Sox a World Series winner and making them a close second that never made the playoffs. The world may never know.

For years, I've heard White Sox fans play the "What If..." game with this. Yes, even me. Barry was an excellent player before steroids and an even better player after them. The thing is, he would've been a lock for the Hall Of Fame even without "performance enhancing" things. He just wouldn't have made it past Hank Aaron. Now it looks like Barry's career is over.

Would Barry be in the mess he is in if the White Sox chose him? I have no idea. Hawk would have probably traded him for a crappy pitcher, like he did with Bobby Bonilla.

Kurt almost made the majors. He came so close, but he was hiding a terrible secret of his own. It wasn't steroids or anything like that. He was blessed with Knoblauch Syndrome. He just plain forgot how to throw the ball. Or at least he thought so. He hid it so well, that nobody noticed until he was with the Oakland A's club and confessed this to manager Tony LaRussa. He was out of baseball in 1992. Kurt went back to school and got a degree. While Kurt was studying, Barry landed in San Francisco and the rest is history.

This makes me feel even better with the White Sox choosing Kurt over Barry. I can respect someone going back to school to educate themselves. I can't respect someone destroying their body for a fleeting moment of glory. If I could, I would give Kurt Brown the home run record. It certainly wouldn't be any more tainted than it already is and it would be in the hands of someone more deserving of our accolades.

Thank you Kurt Brown for being such a class act. You are the example we should teach the children.
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