Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thanks For A Complete Set

I just wanted to give a very big thank you to Wax Pack Relapse for the prize package of a complete set of 2007 Bowman's Best! The package arrived a few days ago.

Thanks for holding such a cool series of contests! I will enjoy my complete set for many years to come!

Card Spotlight: 10-30-09

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best #249 - Ken Williams

And now it's time once again for Rookie Chiller Horror Theater!

This week, we take a look at the scariest baseball card ever created. The 1988 Donruss Baseball's Best card of Ken Williams! Ooooo, scary!

Take a gander at the spooky orange, red and black border. It's almost like a pumpkin was... massacred! Look at the wide-eyed innocence on the unsuspecting rookie. He has no idea that the best moments of his career... would be... on the bench! Uh, where he would get many painful splinters. And the trainer would have to get out these tiny tweezers and... owoooooooooo!!!! Scary!!

And all that time on the bench, when he was getting advice on how to run a club, little did he suspect that he was in danger... of getting hemorrhoids!! Owooooooooooooo!!!! Those little dickens really hurt!!

I bet you kids are really scared now!! Heh, heh, heh. But I haven't told you the scariest part, yet. When his playing career was over in 1991, he was a lifetime .218 hitter. Owww!! Owww!! Owwoooooooooooo!!!! Heh, heh, heh.

That wasn't scary enough for you? Uh. Well, that uniform he was wearing wasn't washed in a recommended detergent, so it became itchy. You know that kind of itchy that feels like a million tiny bugs are crawling all over your skin? Yeah, that's the kind of itching he had. And when he tried to scratch it, his skin became more and more irritated. The more he scratched, the more it itched. Until one day, it became so bad that he, uh he... had to see a dermatologist. And he had to get expensive chunky cream that he had to smear over the itchy parts. And it, it smelled bad! And, and he didn't like applying it too much! Uh, because... because it smelled real bad!

Uh, hmmmm. Uh, look kids! The card has Halloween colors! Oooo, scary!!

Oh, go suck a cork, kid! Uh. Heh, heh heh. Join us next time on Rookie Chiller Horror Theater, when we'll have... uh, something scary!! Owww!! Owww!! Owwwoooooooooooooo! (cough, cough, cough) Owwwoooooooo!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WSC Birth Years: Alexei Ramirez

Card #26 - Alexei Ramirez

Born: September 22, 1981

The Cuban Missile landed in Chicago in 2008. Since then, Alexei has surprised even the most vocal critics by adjusting and adapting to the Major League style of playing. In the past two years, Alexei has played three different positions, all while learning on the fly.

In 2009, he moved to his natural position of shortstop. Initially, Alexei evoked the name of error-prone shortstop Jose Valentin, but as the season wore on, he started playing his position with the best of them. Ramirez, who has a certain flair for the dramatic, usually saves his best hitting for the late innings. In 2008, he set the single season record for grand slams by a rookie.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Ex Files: Nick Swisher

The 2009 World Series starts today and that means that Nick Swisher will be involved in the game somehow. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to review his tenure with the Sox and his time after.

Nick came to the Sox from Oakland in January 2008. He cost the Sox three promising young prospects. Two have made iffy contributions to the A's and one is still in the minors. Swisher arrived with a lot of fanfare. He waltzed in and tried to take the city over with his charm. He nearly did it too.

In the first half of 2008, Nick didn't bat very well, but he managed to come through when the team needed him most. When not producing on the field, he became the clown player of the dugout. This is a role that every clubhouse needs to loosen things up.

Eventually, Swisher's playing time was reduced. Instead of continuing his comic stylings and keeping everybody loose and into the games, Nick pouted. He pouted when he wasn't playing and he pouted when his role was late inning defense. For a guy who pouted so much, he played in 153 games that year. That doesn't sound like a reason to pout to me.

Nick wore out his welcome and was shipped off to the Yankees with a minor leaguer for three players. None of those three players have done much for the Sox. Swisher landed on a team that made it to the World Series. How did he fare for the entire year?

Swisher wasn't setting the world on fire, but he did a little better than he did with the Sox. He even pitched an inning of relief. The Yankees used him in three less games than the Sox did a year before. Did Swisher pout? There were signs of him starting to pout, but it was nothing compared to his tenure on the South Side.

So far Swisher is bombing in the postseason. Will he step it up in the World Series? Only time will tell. My guess is no. I can write this while Nick is still playing because I can say with utter assurance that he will never play in a White Sox uniform again. He's a likable guy, but not a team player. As Swisher's time with the Yankees has proven, he's willing to do the work but only if it's his idea.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Geocities Transfer Done

Geocities is done. It is no more. It is an ex site. So what happened to my want list which was residing there. It has become

Everything that was on the old Geocities site is now at I haven't figured out what to do with the front door, so typing in will get you nothing. Follow the address link in the first paragraph and you'll be magically whisked away to a new version of the old site, buried on a new site with no front door (to keep solicitors away{for now}).

Any site owner who has my want list up on their site, please change the link. I'm through with newfangled technology for today, but I thought I'd share this new bit of information with you. Just in case you were shopping for me or something. And yes, it still needs to be updated. I'll get right on that when I'm feeling better.

And yes, the link on the sidebar has been updated too.

Updates And Nonsensical Things

I'm still sick with a sinus infection and I'm not happy. I feel like a cat, sleeping most of the day away. I'm not getting any work done and I hope to rectify that soon. We'll see.

Most of my waking hours, I feel like the photo of Scott Podsednik. I feel off balance, out of step, out of time. It seems like I'll never make it to my destination because of the clumsiness of my own body. Welcome to Sinusland, population; me.

I'm still waiting to get this Geocities thing straightened out. Until then, my want list and a few other things may be unavailable.

Fortunately, while I try to conduct myself in a healthy manner, Johngy wrote a post about my Squires card. If you're really jonesing for new-ish content, head over there. I hope to get a few things posted soon, but my energy seems sapped.

At least I don't have a doctor like this.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Out Of The Blue: Long Overdue

This package from Mark at Stats On The Back came last weekend. Here's something I put off recently due to illness.

According to the card, and historical reference, Wilbur Wood had 22 wins in 1971, which was good enough for third in the AL that year. Third?! He also had 22 complete games in 1971, which was also good for third, right behind the same two gentleman on the card.

For comparison, there were four pitchers tied for the lead in wins in 2009 with 19. Roy Halladay blew everyone away in 2009 with 9 complete games. That's a far cry from 1971 pitching numbers. It just goes to show how much things have changed in 38 years.

What does any of this have to do with anything? Well, it was the first card on the package, silly. Let's see what Mark sent over, or as he put it, "As usual, a few more Sox that had no place at my house."

1972 Topps
94 - AL Pitching Leaders (Lolich, Blue, Wood)

1986 O-Pee-Chee
64 - Floyd Bannister

1991 Bowman
350 - Sammy Sosa

1997 Score
54 - James Baldwin
104 - Harold Baines

1998 Bowman
199 - Mario Valdez

1998 Bowman International
147 - Jeff Abbott

1998 Metal Universe
2 - Jeff Abbott
202 - Ray Durham

1998 Topps Chrome
383 - Ray Durham

2000 Stadium Club Chrome
9 - Mike Caruso

2002 Ovation
24 - Magglio Ordonez

2003 Fleer Splendid Splinters
59 - Paul Konerko

2004 Bazooka
212 - Paul Konerko

2005 Upper Deck
47 - Magglio Ordonez

2005 Upper Deck World Series Heroes
WS-15 - Magglio Ordonez

2006 Allen & Ginter
197 - Bobby Jenks

2009 O-Pee-Chee
336 - Paul Konerko

Thanks, Mark! Those were some awesome cards! I'm still wondering how Magglio got into a World Series Heroes set one year before his first World Series appearance. I guess these titles are not meant to be taken literally.

I'm still on the lookout for stray Mets who haven't graced your collection. If I run across any, they are yours!

WSC Birth Years: Randy Williams

Card #25 - Randy Williams

Born: September 18, 1975

Randy hadn't pitched in the majors since 2005, when he took the mound for the White Sox in 2009. With the exception of a few bad pitches, Williams did very well for the White Sox. If there is an area he needs to work on, it would be walks.

The walks killed Randy in 2009. Other than that, he did everything that was expected of him. Time will ultimately tell if Williams will be back in 2010. It depends on what is done with the bullpen in the offseason. Never rule anything out though. Randy climbed an improbable hill this year in making it onto the parent club. He may surprise us again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2009 Obak Box Break: Packs 16-20

The final five packs in the 2009 TriStar Obak box break.

Pack sixteen:

23 - Buster Posey (San Jose)
88 - Patrick T. Powers (NAPBL President)
46 - Alexander Cartwright mini (Inventor of Baseball)
13 - Tim Beckham (Bowling Green)
8 - Junichi Tazawa (Portland)
36 - Al Rosen (Oklahoma City)
The other Beckham. A few interesting minor leaguers and a couple of history lessons.

Pack seventeen:

7 - Fu-Te Ni (Toledo)
27 - Chris Tillman (Norfolk)
20 - Jesus Montero green parallel (Tampa) (20/25)
62 - Barack Obama mini (Washington D.C.)
52 - Joe Bauman (Amarillo)
85 - Virne Beatrice "Jackie" Mitchell (Chattanooga)
After watching a six part documentary on Monty Python on IFC this week, I could make a joke about Ni, but I won't. It would be so much easier if he played for the Charlotte Knights. Some nice cards in this pack. The first woman to sign a pro contract. A green parallel. An Obama mini. Good stuff!

Pack eighteen:

51 - Monty Stratton (Sherman)
58 - Ron Necciai (Bristol)
68 - Rollie Zeider mini (San Francisco)
72 - Russell "Lena" Blackburne (Rubbing Mud)
17 - Jason Heyward (Myrtle Beach)
25 - Justin Smoak (Frisco)
Two more cards off my list with the Stratton and Blackburne. The Zeider minis are unnumbered like the regular card. The Stratton is a different pose than the previous mini.

Pack nineteen:

32 - Dale Murphy (Richmond)
49 - Gene Rye (Waco)
9 - Madison Bumgarner mini (Connecticut)
76 - Mike Coolbaugh (Columbus)
60 - Joe Wilhoit (Salt Lake City)
48 - Robert Forrest "Spook" Jacobs (Asheville)
My first card of Mike Coolbaugh. Too bad it had to be a card reminding us about his death.

Pack twenty:

94 - Harry & George Wright (Innovators)
91 - Fritz & Louis Rueckheim, Henry Eckstein (Cracker Jack)
75 - Henry Chadwick (Father of Baseball)
57 - Albert G. Spalding mini (Sporting Goods)
19 - Andrew McCutchen (Indianapolis)
66 - Jim Rice (Pawtucket)
Innovators and Cracker Jacks, I don't care if this is the last pack. The last card is probably the most interesting of the pack, Jim Rice. He looked like he had a chip on his shoulder even in the minors.

Well, there you have it. A full box break of 2009 TriStar Obak. Overall, I'm impressed. Sets lie this always sound like a good idea, until you actually see the product in hand. Some of the cards looked better than others. The older subjects tended to look worse, but I'm thinking that it had to do with the quality of photos available than any other factor.

I got pretty much everything on my list, so I don't have to go searching too much on eBay for singles. That's great because I could not find a Hoy card to save my life. For me, it was worth the wait. I'd like to thank my parents for finding a product that I couldn't. This was an awesome birthday gift!

2009 Obak Box Break: Packs 11-15

Continuing on...

Pack eleven:

69 - Bill "Moose" Skowron (Kansas City)
65 - Ron Kittle (Glens Falls)
50 - William "Dummy" Hoy mini (Oshkosh)
50 - Arnold John "Jigger" Statz (Los Angeles)
30 - Josh Vitters (Peoria)
21 - Mike Moustakas (Wilmington)
Wow! The first three cards were on my list. I've already shown a regular Hoy, so it was down to Kittle and Skowron. Kitty is shown in a White Sox affiliate, so the edge goes to Kitty.

Pack twelve:

47 - Joe Hauser (Minneapolis)
42 - Russell "Buzz" Arlett (Oakland)
35 - Brooks Robinson (York)
44 - Johnny Vander Meer (Durham)
28 - Pat Venditte (Charleston)
16 - Tommy Hanson (Gwinnett)
Lots of cool cards in this pack, but I'd be sorry if I didn't show the switch pitcher.

Pack thirteen:

81 - Elias Howe (Sewing Machine)
71 - Emmett Ashford (Umpire)
A21 - Will Middlebrooks auto (Greenville) (1/5)
41 - Gene Conley mini (Hartford)
74 - Alexander Cartwright (Inventor of Baseball)
89 - George H. Rawlings (Sporting Goods)
This pack would have been one strictly for the history books had it not been for the best hit of the box!

Pack fourteen:

70 - Johnny Vander Meer (Durham)
87 - Abner Charles Powell (New Orleans)
41 - Ted Williams variation (San Diego P.C.L.)
65 - Nick Lachey mini (Tacoma)
43 - Walter Carlisle (Vernon)
5 - Brett Lawrie (Wisconsin)
Nick Lachey?! Seriously??!! Nick Lachey???!!!

Pack fifteen:

97 - John W. Heisman (Atlanta)
18 - Austin Jackson (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
39 - Joe Wilhoit mini (Salt Lake City)
22 - Jarrod Parker (Mobile)
10 - Michael Ynoa (AZL Athletics)
39 - Tom Seaver (Jacksonville)
A terrific Tom Seaver card!

Really?! Nick Lachey????!!!! More to come.

2009 Obak Box Break: Packs 6-10

Part two of the 2009 TriStar Obak box break.

Pack six:

99 - William Howard Taft (Washington D.C.)
62 - Gene Conley (Hartford)
12 - Austin Jackson mini green parallel (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) (03/25)
90 - Wesley Branch Rickey (Farm System)
83 - Arthur Albert "Foxy" Irwin (Fielding Glove)
80 - Harrison Harwood (Baseball Manufacturer)
A green parallel mini and a president. Nothing too exciting in this pack, but a lot of history.

Pack seven:

77 - William "Candy" Cummings (Curve Ball)
57 - Grover Lowdermilk (Mattoon)
38 - Ryne Sandberg (Oklahoma City)
19 - Dale Murphy mini (Richmond)
63 - Bobby Grich (Rochester)
45 - Oscar "Ox" Eckhardt (Mission)
A Ryno that I was looking for to bolster my friend's future collection. Dale Murphy in a minor league mini. Still pretty nice.

Pack eight:

31 - Brett Wallace (Sacremento)
12 - Gordon Beckham variation (Birmingham, S.L.)
23 - Nolan Ryan mini (Jacksonville)
92 - Frank Shaughnessy (MiLB Playoff System)
100 - Barack Obama (Washington, D.C.)
78 - The Dukes (Industrialists)
Bacon variation! Also, Obama was on my list. The mini Ryan makes this a great pack. The card of the Dukes cracks me up!

Pack nine:

14 - Madison Bumgarner (Connecticut)
4 - Eric Hosmer (Burlington)
A46 - Gary Redus auto (Waterbury) (149/200)
40 - Steve Bilko mini (Los Angeles)
54 - George Brunet (Little Rock)
41 - Ted Williams (San Diego)
This is the auto that I was psyched about. Like I said before, if he wasn't on my list to collect, I would probably be a bit underwhelmed. Finally, a Bumgarner card without an "O" face! Plus, you can't go wrong with Mr. Frozen Head Walt Disney Ted Williams.

Pack ten:

20 - Jesus Montero (Tampa)
26 - Mike Stanton (Jacksonville)
23 - Nolan Ryan mini variation (Jacksonville, I.L.)
33 - Stan Musial (Springfield)
24 - Carlos Santana (Akron)
12 - Gordon Beckham (Birmingham)
A regular Bacon card. Stan the man. A mini Ryan variation. Great stuff!

Halfway through the box. More to come.

Cards That Never Were #10

1978 Topps - Mike Squires

Another request from Johngy. If I ever find a photo of Mike Squires in the mid-seventies red and blue White Sox uniform (in color), I will make the 1975 Topps entry. So far, I haven't found many pictures that haven't already been used in some capacity.

I found this picture on eBay with a signature. I erased the autograph and put it on a 1978 Topps card, mostly because I think that this shot worked best in that set.

Mike Squires perfectly illustrates what is wrong with one card company owning a monopoly in the industry. Even though Mike played in 1975, 1977 and 1978, his first Topps card wasn't until 1979, and he had to share that card with two other players. His first standalone Topps card would come in 1980, when his career was about half over.

Mike did have a card in the 1978 SSPC set, but those were less common due to a lawsuit from Topps. Here is another card made from your wishlist. I'm really hoping to find a proper picture for the 1975 card.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2009 Obak Box Break: Packs 1-5

I'll do this box break of 2009 TriStar Obak in four parts featuring five packs in each part. I will show one scan per pack. It will either be something on my own personal collecting list, a hit, or just something that looks cool, in my opinion.

Without any further delay... the first five packs.

Pack one:

11 - Lars Anderson (Portland)
113 - Charles Schmutz (Tacoma, N.W.L.)
33 - Monty Stratton mini (Sherman)
46 - Spencer Harris (Minneapolis)
34 - Satchel Paige (Miami)
6 - Brian Matusz (Frederick)
Not too bad for the first pack. I got a Stratton mini that was on my list. The Schmutz and Paige cards were pretty awesome too!

Pack two:

3 - BJ Hermsen (GCL Twins)
2 - Robbie Grossman (West Virginia)
59 - Gary Redus (Waterbury)
42 - Jim Rice mini (Pawtucket)
98 - Vincent "Bo" Jackson (Memphis)
96 - Sammy Baugh (Rochester)
Two cards that were on my list, Redus and Jackson. The Rice mini was pretty cool. A couple of current players too.

Pack three:

86 - Jack Norworth (Songwriter)
95 - Wrigley (Industrialist)
58 - Ron Necciai green parallel (Bristol, APPY) (24/25)
63 - Dinesh Kumar & Rinku Singh mini (GCL Pirates)
93 - Albert G. Spalding (Sporting Goods)
82 - William "Dummy" Hoy (Oshkosh)
I finally got my Hoy! I also got a pack filled with people behind the scenes.

Pack four:

79 - Bud "John W. Jackson" Fowler (Keokuk)
67 - Phil Rizzuto (Kansas City)
49 - Bud "John W. Jackson" Fowler mini (Keokuk)
61 - Steve Bilko (Los Angeles)
37 - Nolan Ryan (Jacksonville)
9 - Dayan Viciedo (Birmingham)
I seem to be getting something from my want list with each pack. I'm sure that will stop soon, but it's pretty cool. The streak continues with Viciedo. The Ryan looks great too!

Pack five:

55 - Vince Coleman (Macon)
40 - Duke Snider (Fort Worth)
10 - Michael Ynoa black parallel (AZL Athletics) (14/50)
26 - Duke Snider mini (Fort Worth)
68 - Herb Score (Indianapolis)
56 - Bob Crues (Amarillo)
The White Sox related streak continues with Herb Score! This is the second pack in which I got both the regular and mini card of the same person.

More to come.

Card Spotlight: 10-23-09

2009 Topps Heritage #306 - Scott Linebrink

I know what most of you are thinking. Why a Scott Linebrink card? You are not alone. I've been wondering the very same thing.

For the last decade, Scott has been one of the most dominant set-up men in the sport. I can understand why Kenny Williams targeted him. I can understand why the Sox wanted to lock him into a longer contract. The results just aren't there.

Sure, Scott has shown flashes of the same brilliance that got him the contract with the White Sox. More times than not, he's faltered. When he is on top of his game, he is lights out. When he's not, he can change the momentum of a game with a single pitch. Unfortunately, the latter has shown up with Chicago more than the former.

I really want to like the guy. He's a musician. He seems like a great guy. If nothing else, he may have helped sway Jake Peavy into landing with the White Sox. I can almost forgive Linebrink if that turns out to be the case. He even wears the number 71, in honor of a bullpen coach who had battled a brain tumor, I'm told. There are so many reasons to like him, until he trots out from the pen.

The card he is featured on is from the 2009 Topps Heritage set. It pays homage to the 1960 Topps set, or as I like to call it, the modern day birth place of the horizontal card. The retro sets are some of my favorite releases throughout the year. An update set of 2009 Topps Heritage is expected to be released in the near future. Chalk this set up to being one of my favorites from 2009. Not my absolute favorite (I'm still debating on that one), but it certainly is near the top.

Halfway through a four year contract, I'm hoping that Scott Linebrink steps it up and finds whatever inspiration he found with the Padres. It would be a shame to see such a talented setup man continue his downward spiral.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coming Up

I'm under the weather today. My sinuses are killing me, my voice is nearly gone and I barely have any energy. Still, I figured I'd show off the box topper from the box of Obak that I received yesterday. And here I thought that the Dukes only dealt in frozen concentrated orange juice. I learn something new everyday.

I intend to do a pack by pack breakdown of the hobby box of Obak. I'm still stuck in Amish country as far as computer related video equipment goes, or else I would have filmed the break. I'm very pleased with the contents of the box, but I'm sure everyone may not feel that way. I'll say this, if I hadn't already decided that I wanted a certain autograph, I probably would have been less than thrilled when pulling it.

Sometime I also want to create posts about two packages I've gotten in the mail. One from Mark at Stats On The Back and the second from Ryan at The Great Orioles Autograph Project. Both packages were great and I will thank each of them properly with their own posts. Just not today.

I'm going to have a nice, hot meal and wash it down with some Wild Berry Zinger tea. I'll leave you with something entertaining at least.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Search Of An Innocent Man

I had some spare time this morning. After opening gifts from my parents (a hobby box of Obak, two boxes of 9 pocket pages and a D-ring binder), I had some time to kill before having lunch with my mom at Wonderburgers on 110th & Kedzie.

In researching my WSC Vintage card of Buck Weaver, I discovered that his grave was only a few miles from my house. It was also literally around the corner from where I was having lunch. So, armed with a section number and a direction of "by the road" thanks to, I went searching for George D. Weaver, one of the members of the 1919 White Sox team that was banned from baseball for life.

As many of you know from reading the papers, Illinois graveyards appear to be in shambles. The cemeteries may look nice and innocent, but some of the older ones are a jumbled mess. Unfortunately, this was one of those graveyards. It certainly isn't as infamous as Burr Oak, close by, but it can be just as confusing.

My own personal preference makes me start out any journey by searching on foot. I can usually locate a grave with enough information. I even once stumbled upon Al Capone's grave without any clue to where it was located inside Mt. Carmel Cemetery. I looked all along the road in section 35 and started a few rows away from the road. Still nothing.

The weather was nice today, so I stayed about an hour looking at the different headstones. Unlike any other cemetery experience two workers, who were very pleasant, asked if I needed any help. I told them who I was looking for, but they couldn't help me. The workers told me to ask in the office and I could obtain a map.

I thanked them for their help and headed back to the car. I will stop in the office at some point, but not today. I had a lunch to get to.

The image of Buck Weaver's headstone is from I intend to have my own photo, after properly locating the grave site.

Separated At Birth: Me And Penn Jillette

OK, I'll admit it. At various times in my life, I've been mistaken for a celebrity. Depending on tiny elements such as hair, wardrobe and weight, determined who I've been mistaken for.

Usually, the person that I'm mistaken for is a lot older. In my late teens and early twenties, I was mistaken for Eddie Vedder a few times. I was clean shaven and wore my hair long, at that time. When I wore my hair short, I was mistaken for John Cusack. Either people were seeing something that I wasn't or they really needed glasses. Maybe it was the Chicago area connection. Who knows.

Over the years, various names popped up and were quickly dismissed by me. I guess I have a face that has some quality that people subconsciously identify with but can't put a finger on.

The last few years, it's been Penn Jillette. I can kinda see that one. We even share a similar lack of facial recall, meaning it's hard to pick people we know out of a crowd. When I'm usually mistaken for Penn, I have my hair long and wear it in a ponytail. The worst example came from when I was dining out at an Indian restaurant about two years ago.

While I was eating my dinner, I noticed a woman in her fifties staring at me. This continued the entire meal. If I looked in her direction, she would immediately turn, as if I wouldn't notice the quick movements. It was painfully obvious because my seat was facing in her direction.

I saw the woman excitedly tell the rest of the people in her party something and then they all turned and looked while trying not to draw attention to themselves. The restaurant was serving a buffet that night and my table was in between theirs and the buffet. This served as an excuse for each of them to walk past my table.

I watched as they walked past one by one. As soon as each had a turn past me, and the entire party had returned, the table buzzed with activity. The group finished their meal and got up to leave. The lady who first "recognized" me stopped and placed her hand on my shoulder.

"I hate to bother you, but may I ask a question?", asked the woman. I said yes, thinking that she already asked one question without my permission. "Are you Penn Jillette?", she asked.

When I told her that I wasn't, she seemed a little disappointed. "Has anyone told you that you look exactly like him?", she exclaimed. I told her that I get that all the time. "Are you sure you're not him? You look just like him!", she said.

I assured her that I wasn't who she thought I was. She walked away and I heard her say to the rest of her party, "I bet he just wanted to eat in peace and didn't want to be recognized." Yeah, you got me lady. Sorry about that.

Penn Jillette turned 54 in March. I turned 33 today. Should I be flattered that I was mistaken for a celebrity or insulted that said celebrity is 21 years older than I am?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cards That Never Were #9

1936 Goudey B&W - Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth was a big enough star that he should have warranted a farewell card.

After having his managerial hopes deflated by the Yankees, Ruth's contract was sold to the Boston Braves. The Braves were in debt and the owner pinned his hopes on Ruth attracting large crowds. The Babe was promised a position as team vice president and assistant manager on the field, with the possibility of taking over the managerial position as early as 1936. Ruth was to share in the profits of the team and possibly become co-owner.

Ruth started out the 1935 season with a bang. Unfortunately, that would be the best Ruth played until shortly before his final game. His fielding declined so poorly that some pitchers refused to take the mound if Ruth was in the lineup. The only thing he could do was trot around the bases and that was becoming less and less frequent.

On May 25, 1935, Babe went 4 for 4 with 6 RBI and 3 home runs. They would be his final three home runs, the last of which cleared the roof at Forbes Field. Ruth was the first player to accomplish that feat. Five days later, he injured his knee and took himself out of the game. He announced his retirement two days later.

In designing the 1936 Goudey Black & White, I adhered to the original aspect ratio of 2 3/8 inches x 2 7/8 inches. The only difference being that I used Ruth's actual autograph on the card instead of a facsimile. The small off-white color border remains.

24 of the 25 cards that are included in the original set are head shots. Only one card features a bat. One other card features a head shot and part of a catcher's mitt. So, in keeping with the overall look of the set, I used a head shot of Ruth.

WSC Vintage: Roy Patterson

Card #11 - Roy Patterson

Roy was more than a good pitcher, he was a link. His career started in 1899 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Patterson played for a team called the Saints, also known as the Apostles, in the Western League.

What makes this association so special? When this incarnation of the Western League formed in November 1893, one of the teams for the inaugural 1894 season was based in Sioux City, Iowa. Before the 1895 season, that team moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1900, the Western League renamed itself the American League and the St. Paul franchise moved to Chicago. It used the abandoned Cubs moniker of the White Stockings and in 1901, became one of the eight original American League teams when they were declared a major league.

Patterson played with the White Sox from 1899, when they were just a minor league club until 1907, the year after the franchise's first World Championship. Roy was one of the privileged few to see the franchise rise from the last phase of humble beginnings to the mark of excellence in the early majors. Unfortunately, he did not play in the 1906 World Series against the crosstown rival Cubs.

Through seven Major League seasons, Roy compiled a record of 81-73 with a 2.75 career ERA, which still ranks in the top 100 career ERAs over a century later. To gain perspective on what an accomplishment that really is, as of the 2009 season, only Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman were current players with better career ERAs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 Upper Deck Update

This one completely slipped under the radar. After a botched attempt at an update set in 2008, where a scan of a Griffey card leaked out shortly before the set was canceled, Upper Deck quietly seeded these cards into series one and two combo rack fat packs.

There are only 50 cards in the update set, but the cards are seeded two per fat pack. That could get very expensive very quickly, with the packs themselves costing around five dollars. Even if there's perfect collation, it would still take 25 packs and $125 dollars before tax. Sounds like a project for eBay or trading for those who want to complete the 50 card set.

Technically, there are four White Sox cards in the update set. Only three are of actual players. The fourth is another Barack Obama card with the picture taken at the 2009 All-Star game in St. Louis.

U1 - Barack Obama
U6 - Aaron Poreda
U7 - Bartolo Colon
U36 - Gordon Beckham

I'll go out on a limb and say that I like this set. I'm not a fan of how the set is distributed though. I would be angry if I were a set collector. As a team collector, I think I can handle four cards. I do like that only one player (Beckham) is in the Topps Update set. This may be the last card for Bartolo Colon and probably the last White Sox card of Aaron Poreda.

While it's nice to see an Obama White Sox card, I think the card companies can give it a rest for now. It's a no-brainer having Gordon Beckham in the set. The player selection is great for such a small set.

It's about time Upper Deck returned to their update sets. I wish they would have returned a year sooner.

2009 Topps Updates & Highlights

Another season has come to an end, so it must be time for the update sets! I've been a big fan of late season update sets. These releases usually address rookies, traded players, season highlights, forgotten players and All-Star selections. This year's set is no different.

Initially I wasn't a fan of the 2009 Topps design, but it has grown on me over the course of the year. It's reminiscent of the 1994 Topps set, only in a classier way. The set selection is decent, but far from perfect.

There are eleven White Sox cards in the 2009 Topps Updates & Highlights set. It's a pretty fair amount for an update set. Once again, DeWayne Wise is relegated to the update set for the second year in a row. It's great to see him get a card, but he was an Opening Day starter in 2009. It shouldn't have taken this long to get a card in the Topps base set.

UH020 - Gordon Beckham
UH036 - Jermaine Dye/Paul Konerko (HL)
UH087 - Jake Peavy
UH117 - Alex Rios
UH147 - Jayson Nix
UH169 - Mark Kotsay
UH182 - Mark Buehrle (AS)
UH241 - DeWayne Wise
UH268 - Chris Getz
UH309 - Scott Podsednik
UH319 - Ramon Castro

I do have a few beefs with the player selection. Chris Getz was also an Opening Day starter. Shouldn't he have had a card in the second series? It would make the most sense to me. I could argue a case for DeWayne Wise not being in the second series because of an injury that kept him out of the lineup for a good chunk of time.

I can also see not including some of the many relievers that spent time with the White Sox during the 2009 season. Unless it's from a team that I would collect, a card of a reliever is about as exciting as watching concrete harden.

Mark Buehrle does get a card for his All-Star selection. Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko get a joint card for their back to back 300 home runs. Can anyone tell me why there isn't a card of Mark Buehrle's perfect game? Or a card commemorating Buehrle's record of 45 consecutive batters retired? Instead there are unnecessary cards like the one of Joe Girardi fist bumping Derek Jeter. I do appreciate the cards like that, but not at the expense of others.

Still the treat is in the unmentioned twelfth card. A short print variation of Bo Jackson.

UH052 - Bo Jackson

I've seen other examples of these variation cards and I have come away impressed. Where else can you see a modern day card of Babe Ruth on the Braves or Roger Maris on the Cardinals? Even Ryne Sandberg pops up on the Phillies. This is how a variation card should be. Retired stars in underexposed situations. Skip the cards of squirrels and rainbow colored parallels, give me more of these types of variation cards!

Overall, it's another quality update set from Topps. There are flaws, but there are also gems in set. I'm willing to compromise for cards of Peavy, Kotsay and Rios in White Sox uniforms.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

WSC Birth Years: Matt Thornton

Card #24 - Matt Thornton

Born: September 15, 1976

Matt Thornton was once a highly regarded prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization, but he never became a consistent reliever until he was traded to the White Sox. Since coming to Chicago, Matt has turned into a premier middle reliever.

Thornton has transformed himself into one of the best pitchers out of the bullpen, in the majors. Whatever he was lacking in Seattle finally clicked with the White Sox. In 2009, he reached highs in innings pitched, strikeouts, wins and saves, while posting a 2.74 ERA in seventy appearances.

2009 Topps Ticket To Stardom

Considering how Topps has treated Upper Deck this year through the court system, I think Upper Deck should sue Topps for the same frivolous lawsuits. I feel like I am looking at 2004 Fleer Authentix. Since Fleer is owned by Upper Deck, the Topps company should get dragged through the judicial system over card design.

I really want to like this set, but it just seems boring and useless. The card for Jose Contreras features a game that didn't involve him in the decision, but he did pitch well. I guess that's something.

This is a lazy attempt at a card set and a middle finger to Upper Deck. It seems to me that Topps created this set to flaunt their victories in an unsportsmanlike manner. This conduct should be beneath a company who was just awarded exclusive trading card rights to MLB.

This set will only accomplish to further create a wedge between card companies, who should be working together for the common good.

That being said, the set isn't bad, but it's phoned in. Topps tweaked a concept by another card company and will likely get away with doing so. The design is so five years ago, it actually came out five years ago as 2004 Fleer Authentix. There is no imagination put into the set, but there are 11 White Sox cards.

28 - Paul Konerko
66 - Jose Contreras
69 - Jermaine Dye
73 - Josh Fields
79 - A.J. Pierzynski
115 - Mark Buehrle
128 - Carlos Quentin
144 - Gavin Floyd
177 - Alexei Ramirez
182 - Gordon Beckham
189 - Jim Thome

I do like one aspect about the set, its player selection. Most non- base set releases will have anywhere from one to five White Sox cards. This has eleven. I found a few stray fat packs at Target yesterday, so I picked up one. It was lucky enough to have Jose Contreras in it.

This set has no reason to exist. I'm happy that there are eleven more White Sox cards to collect, but honestly I could have done without this release. It will be releases like this that gets Topps exclusive MLB license revoked and awarded to Upper Deck.

I still think that Upper Deck should sue.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

WSC Vintage: Buck Weaver

Card #10 - Buck Weaver

In perhaps one of the clearest cases of injustice in the game of baseball, George "Buck" Weaver was lumped in with seven other men and banned from Major League baseball.

On Weaver's play during the 1919 World Series, Ross Tenney of the Cincinnati Post wrote: "Though they are hopeless and heartless, the White Sox have a hero. He is George Weaver, who plays and fights at third base. Day after day Weaver has done his work and smiled. In spite of the certain fate that closed about the hopes of the Sox, Weaver smiled and scrapped. One by one his mates gave up. Weaver continued to grin and fought harder….Weaver's smile never faded. His spirit never waned….The Reds have beaten the spirit out of the Sox all but Weaver. Buck's spirit is untouched. He was ready to die fighting. Buck is Chicago's one big hero; long may he fight and smile."

There is a movement found at, to help reinstate Buck Weaver into Major League Baseball. While he may never be enshrined in Cooperstown, Buck deserves to be reinstated.

Among the many accomplishments in baseball, an admission from Ty Cobb himself stating that Buck was the only third baseman that he wouldn't attempt to bunt against. That says more about the play of Buck Weaver than any statistic could.

Weaver finished with a .272 career batting average. His stats over his first nine years are nearly identical to Pete Rose. Imagine what Buck could have accomplished on the field had he not been banned. His errorless play, 11 hits and .324 average in the 1919 World Series speak for itself.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Goodwin Champions

Let's chalk it up to the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate, but since July, I've found it very difficult to find packs of some sets in any store near me. I was very happy when I finally found a rack pack of Goodwin Champions at a local Target.

I've yet to find TriStar Obak, but that's a fight for another day. I was pleased with my initial purchase. Unfortunately, that rack pack did not produce a single White Sox card. With my card budget extremely limited lately, I decided to participate in a group box break.

Of the six available White Sox cards, I landed four. Considering that only two of those six cards are not some type of short print card, I think that is absolutely amazing. Let's see what White Sox cards are in the Goodwin Champions set.

29 - Carlos Quentin
46 - Jim Thome
154 - Gavin Floyd (Short Print)
191 - Clayton Richard (Super Short Print)
197 - Paul Konerko (Super Short Print)
207 - Jermaine Dye (Super Short Print)

After seeing these cards in person, all I can say is that these cards are gorgeous. Each card is a masterpiece all by itself. The colors pop and they definitely give Allen & Ginter a run for its money. The backgrounds are a step up from the normal retro landscapes we are used to seeing.

There seem to be some issues with a few of the player renderings (namely Clayton Richard), but that doesn't detract from the overall quality of the set. It seems to actually enhance it.

After a bit of digging, I found that the short prints are seeded every two packs on average. The super short prints are seeded two per hobby box.

I'm curious about Upper Deck's plans with this set for 2010. Will they continue it without the use of logos? There are ways around the licensing issue, but I hope it won't be a distraction from the quality of the set.

Card Spotlight: 10-16-09

1983 Donruss #571 - Tony LaRussa

We're smack dab in the middle of the playoffs. When I think of the MLB postseason in the past few decades, I immediately think of Tony LaRussa. He has led each of the three Major League teams that he has managed to the postseason.

The last two teams he won World Series rings with and he has been named Manager of the Year at least once with each team he managed. Those are all great accomplishments, but as regular readers of my White Sox Cards blog may know, I just know him as my grandparents drinking buddy.

Somewhere, probably with one of my aunts, exists a picture of Tony LaRussa and my grandparents from the seventies. I'm not exactly sure of the timeline, but I do know it was in California and it was in between his MLB playing career and his MLB managing career. My grandfather, Wayne, passed in 1985 and my grandmother, Vivian, passed in 1993, but I will always remember hearing Tony's name come up.

The only opportunity that I had to attend a White Sox game with my grandmother happened in 1990. It was well past LaRussa's time in Chicago, but he was in the middle of three straight World Series appearances with the Athletics. I always wondered what would have happened if LaRussa hadn't been fired from the Sox in 1986. I may have ended up meeting the man in 1990. The White Sox may have eluded the embarrassment of the late eighties.

Tony's managerial career may be ending in St. Louis, where he has enjoyed much success, but an early playoff exit this year. His contract is up and I have heard rumors that he may not return. If that's the case, I'm hoping he lands somewhere else and turns their fortunes around. If LaRussa stays, maybe I'll make the trip down to St. Louis next year and take in a game.

Whatever happens, Tony is in control of his own destiny. I'll always have the memories of his time with the White Sox and that magical 1983 season. Wherever he goes, I'm sure that team will reach the postseason in 2010.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WSC Vintage: Johnny Evers

Card #9 - Johnny Evers

While Johnny Evers was best known for being a Cub, he bounced around a bit during the end of his career. He missed a lot of time fighting in World War I, but came back to coach for the Giants and eventually become an assistant manager for the Cubs.

In 1922, he played in the MLB for the first time since 1917, when Evers played one game for the White Sox. During five plate appearances, he drew two walks and managed to collect his final career RBI.

In 1923, Johnny joined the White Sox coaching staff and eventually became their manager in 1924. Evers led that team to an eighth place finish and did not return to manage the 1925 White Sox.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October Joe Collector Break Goods

For those of you who haven't heard yet, I Am Joe Collector sponsors monthly box breaks. I've had incredible luck some months. Others, not so much, but thems the breaks!

Ha ha... uh... yeah. Anyhoo!

This break saw one box of 2008 Prime Cuts and four boxes of Goodwin Champions opened. I had a feeling that Prime Cuts would be a complete bust for me and I was right. Not one single card from that box made its way into my pile.

Goodwin was another story. Out of four boxes, I managed to get eight cards. Still, it was eight cards that I didn't have before. Plus, two of the cards are super short prints... whatever that means. I haven't quite figured that one out yet, but I have two of them! Out of the three(!) super short print White Sox cards, I managed to get two. I like those odds.

2009 Goodwin Champions
29 - Carlos Quentin
34 - Alexander Ovechkin (hockey)
44 - Barack Obama (president)
46 - Jim Thome
191 - Clayton Richard SSP
197 - Paul Konerko SSP

2009 UD 20th Anniversary Retrospective
2072 - White Sox 2005 World Series Championship
2102 - Tiger Woods (golf)

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the results of the break. The two super short prints go a long way toward that feeling. I'm not sure if I got the Obama because of his association with the White Sox or if it was just random. The Ovechkin and Tiger Woods are definitely from the random drawing. Either way, I'm happy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 15, 2009


It's going to be HUGE!

Gentleman Masher card image courtesy of Sox Machine.
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