Sunday, December 28, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Andy Wilkins

Card #169 - Andy Wilkins

Born: September 13, 1988

Originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2007 in the 25th round of the amateur draft, Andy ultimately did not sign with them and chose to attend the University of Arkansas. In 2010, Wilkins got another chance, when the White Sox drafted him in the fifth round. Andy slowly progressed through the White Sox farm system and performed well during his spring training invites.

On August 31, 2014, Wilkins made his MLB debut against the Detroit Tigers, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He finished the 2014 season batting .140 with six hits, two runs, two RBI, two walks and twenty-two strikeouts in forty-five plate appearances. Andy may be the odd man out at first base in 2015 with Jose Abreau and Adam LaRoche platooning between first base and designated hitter. The only hope that Wilkins might have of making the roster is at third base, but that is a long shot. Hopefully, the small taste of the majors will make Andy hungry for more and he will force the Sox to consider him for the roster later in the season.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Carlos Sanchez

Card #168 - Carlos Sanchez

Born: June 29, 1992

The latest in a long line of White Sox Venezuelan infielders, Carlos signed with the Pale Hose in 2009 as an international free agent. He moved up slowly in the farm system until he was finally added to the forty man roster after the 2013 season, which saw him invited to spring training and play at AAA Charlotte the entire season.

Sanchez made his MLB debut with Chicago on July 13, 2014 in Cleveland against the Indians. He went 0-5 at the plate with two strikeouts and was sent back down after the game. After the Sox traded Gordon Beckham to the Angels, Carlos was brought back up and ended up batting .250 over twenty-eight games in 2014. Carlos looks to be the everyday second baseman in 2015, unless something drastically changes before Opening Day. He will need to work on his patience at the plate in the upcoming season, since he had twenty-five hits, twenty-five strikeouts and three walks for his 2014 MLB campaign.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Scott Snodgress

Card #167 - Scott Snodgress

Born: September 20, 1989

Scott was drafted in the fifth round of the 2001 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. Snodgress made his way to the number six prospect in the ChiSox farm system by the beginning of 2013. Bullpen woes from the parent team in 2014, forced the Pale Hose to promote a number of minor league pitchers to showcase their talents for consideration in 2015. Scott was one of those promoted and made his MLB debut on September 3, 2014 against the Minnesota Twins.

Snodgress' first two outings resulted in a sky high ERA, but after the jitters of the majors passed, he settled in nicely for his last two appearances. The Sox did not tender a contract to Scott after the 2014 season, but were hopeful that he would again be part of their plans in 2015. On December 10, 2014, Snodgress signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels that included an invitation to 2015 spring training. The Angels are the closest team to Scott's hometown, so the signing should have been an easy decision for him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Eric Surkamp

Card #166 - Eric Surkamp

Born: July 16, 1987

Eric was drafted in the sixth round of the amateur draft in 2008 by the San Francisco Giants. Moving his way up the Giants' minor league system, Surkamp finally made his MLB debut on August 27, 201, starting against the Houston Astros, going six innings, giving up six hits and a run while striking out four and walking three. Eric suffered a flexor tendon strain that landed him on the disabled list in 2012, which eventually required Tommy John surgery.

Surkamp pitched in one game for the Giants in 2013, giving up seven runs in two and two-thirds innings. The White Sox claimed Eric on December 23, 2013. Surkamp made his White Sox debut on June 26, 2014 in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Eric appeared in thirty-five games for the Sox in relief. He seems to have found a niche in the Chicago bullpen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

1973 Topps Candy Lids

Topps continued to experiment in the 1970s with unusual offerings. In 1973, Topps came out with "Baseball Stars Bubble Gum", which included a lid with one of fifty-five baseball players on the underside. The bubble gum itself proved more popular than the lids, so examples of this set are a bit on the rare side.

Team affiliation adheres to typical unlicensed product of the time, with the cap logo airbrushed out and the city name printed in place of the team name. The set as a whole is a colorful mix of eye popping background solids and color photographs that seem to compliment each other. Whether this pairing is intentional or not, remains to be determined, but it works out nicely.

The White Sox have two lids in this set.

Dick Allen
Wilbur Wood

I find the oddball releases to be fascinating and this set is no exception.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

WSC Legends: Encarnacion - Delgado

Card #1 - Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Delgado

WSC Birth Years: Ronald Belisario In Action

Card #165 - Ronald Belisario

Born: December 31, 1982

A bonus card from the 1982 set.

WSC Birth Years: Ronald Belisario

Card #164 - Ronald Belisario

Born: December 31, 1982

After having some moderate success with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ronald was poised to capitalize on that and vault to the next level. He did just that... for the first two games, then Belisario imploded with a blown save against the Minnesota Twins on April 3, 2014. The real culprit was a game on April 9, 2014 in Colorado against the Rockies, where Ronald gave up five earned runs on sixteen pitches to six batters in the eighth inning, recording only one out, pushing his skyrocketing ERA to 15.75 and obliterating the tie game.

Belisario recovered enough to have a 3.96 ERA on May 19th, but was wildly inconsistent the rest of the season to finish with a 5.56 ERA. While ERA isn't the full measure of a pitcher, it is a stat that can mess with some pitchers' heads. One can only speculate if the trouble was between the ears, poor mechanics, poor pitch selection or just plain bad luck, but since Ronald was designated for assignment by the White Sox on November 20, 2014, it will likely be another team that finds out that answer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Some Features Will Be Offline Temporarily

I am aware of issues getting to the features. I am assured they will be all resolved within the next twenty-four hours. Sorry for any inconvenience these issues may have caused.


Things seem to have come back online much quicker than anticipated. Hopefully, that will be the end of the issues.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Topps Update

The 2014 Topps flagship continues with series three, or the update series.

This year's Topps flagship design reminds me more and more of recycled late 2000s era Bowman designs. It's pleasant enough, but nothing immediately grabs your attention. The card just fades into the background relying on the actual photograph to do most of the heavy lifting. Some photos work very well and are eye catching masterpieces. Others... not so much.

The cards are all game action, except for the posed shots on the two All-Star cards. So much action, in fact, that it gets tiring. The only break in the action is Adrian Nieto's card, which shows him standing near home plate with his catching gear on, pointing at something, possibly directing Felipe Paulino to the opposing team, where they hastily agreed to take him in trade in exchange for eleven Wiffle balls. Other than that, it's all running and pitching and batting. I think I sweated out five pounds just watching all that action on cardboard.

The White Sox have twelve cards in the set, not including variations and inserts.

US-37 - Leury Garcia
US-62 - Adam Eaton
US-100 - Jose Abreu
US-156 - Ronald Belisario
US-170 - Matt Davidson
US-232 - Scott Carroll
US-239 - Jose Abreu AS
US-252 - Adrian Nieto
US-277 - Chris Sale
US-309 - Alexei Ramirez AS
US-325 - Jose Abreu
US-330 - Daniel Webb

Leury Garcia, Matt Davidson and Daniel Webb have sparkle variations. Adam Eaton has a photo and a Sabermetric variation. There are also red (Target), blue (Wal-Mart), red hot foil, gold (/2014), green camo (/99), black (/63), pink (/50), clear (/10), platinum (/1), and black, cyan, magenta and yellow printing plate (/1) parallels of each card. I have a love/hate relationship with parallels and variations. The collecting side of me likes them, but the completist side of me strongly dislikes them.

Overall, it typical Topps. If you've collected either of the previous two series for 2014, you know exactly what you're getting from Topps. The inserts may change, but the game is still the same, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seventh Anniversary

Today marks the seventh anniversary of this blog. It also marks the day that I reached 310,000 page views. I'll freely admit that I don't get to post as much as I used to in the past. A job and a family, both of which I love, sheds some light on that mystery. This job would mark my third "paycheck" job in the span of this blog.

I went from starting this blog as an unemployed man in a dead-end relationship wishing to keep track of my card collection to a happily married man (with an awesome step-daughter) and an awesome job wishing to keep track of his card collection and make some custom cards for people to enjoy. It's a huge leap forward and I couldn't be happier with the evolution of this blog and all the friends I have made through White Sox Cards.

Can I do another seven years? I don't see why not. I still enjoy my time with this blog. I may not get here as often as I used to, but this is still a happy place for me. Look for more customs and more set reviews in the near future, as well as the nonsensical fun posts from time to time.

Thanks for making this a great seven years!

WSC Birth Years: Zach Putnam

Card #163 - Zach Putnam

Born: July 3, 1987

Originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2005 in the thirty-eighth round, Zach ultimately chose not to sign. The gamble paid off three years later when he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. Putnam later made his MLB debut on September 13, 2011 with the Indians against the Rangers in Texas. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was the first ever to face Zach and he belted a home run on the eighth pitch of the at-bat in bottom of the seventh inning. He appeared in eight games for the Tribe in 2011.

After brief stints with the Colorado Rockies (two games in 2012) and the Chicago Cubs (five games in 2013), Putnam signed with the White Sox in November 2013. He made his ChiSox debut on April 18, 2014 against the Rangers in Texas, taking over for an ineffective Felipe Paulino with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, down ten runs. The first batter was Rangers left fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who Zach got to line out to Sox left fielder Alejandro De Aza in left center. Putnam was one of the most consistent relievers for the Pale Hose in 2014, shattering his previous high for games in one season by forty-one games. His season ERA of 1.98 was just icing on the cake. Zach looks to loom large for the White Sox bullpen in 2015.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Adam Eaton

Card #162 - Adam Eaton

Born: December 6, 1988

Originally selected in the nineteenth round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Adam made his MLB debut on September 4, 2012 and looked to be a cornerstone of the D'Backs lineup for years to come. Injuries made him expendable to Arizona, so the White Sox acquired Spanky from the Diamondbacks in a three way deal that sent pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Eaton immediately filled a few holes in the White Sox lineup by being the first true leadoff man since Scott Podsednik and plugging the pesky hole in center field. Adam responded by tying the lead for AL triples for the 2014 season with Cleveland's Michael Bourn and is one of the American League's finalists for center field Gold Glove. Spanky looks to be part of Chicago's plan for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Felipe Paulino

Card #161 - Felipe Paulino

Born: October 5, 1983

Felipe's White Sox career would seem to be short lived. After winning his first start in a White Sox uniform on April 2, 2014, Paulino's luck ran out and his ERA started to balloon. Felipe's last appearance for the Pale Hose in 2014 happened on April 18th and resulted in ten earned runs over three and two-thirds innings.

Paulino's ineffectiveness was caused by a rotator cuff injury. This was quite a setback after Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the majority of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, when he was with the Kansas City Royals. The White Sox may not pick up his $4 million dollar team option for 2015, but if the team believes he can recover from these devastating injuries, they may sign him on a cheap incentive based contract, strictly as an insurance policy for the starting rotation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Frank Francisco

Card #160 - Frank Francisco

Born: September 11, 1979

Frank signed a minor league contract with the White Sox on April 14, 2014, where he was assigned to the AAA affiliate in Charlotte. Francisco previously had played six seasons for the Texas Rangers, one season for the Toronto Blue Jays and two seasons with the New York Mets. In that time, he logged seventy-three saves over ten seasons. Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1996, Frank spent some time in the White Sox minor league system from 2002, when he came over in the Bobby Howry trade, to 2003, when he was sent to Texas to complete the Carl Everett trade.

Francisco made his White Sox debut on May 11, 2014, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving up a meaningless home run to D'Backs catcher Miguel Montero in the ninth inning, in a loss. His ERA blossomed to a robust 12.27, after three more outings and Frank was designated for assignment on May 22, 2014. Francisco cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Charlotte, which he refused and became a free agent.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

1933 Butter Cream (R306)

One of the more scarce issues in the 1930s, the thirty card set originated from the Butter Cream Confectionery Corporation in Union City, New Jersey. The black and white cards measure only 1 ¼ x 3 ½ inches. Each card back held a contest where one could guess the player's final batting average and win a prize. The nature of the contest and any prizes have been unfortunately lost to time, as there is no mention of specific prizes on the card backs.

The cards themselves don't hold much of a curiosity, but the rarity of the issue, with only a handful of examples of each card, remain the allure of the set. The thirtieth card (Babe Ruth) wasn't rediscovered until 1989 and is so rare that a set can be considered complete at twenty-nine cards.

The White Sox have one card in the set.

- Ted Lyons

The set may not be much to look at with mostly poor grades available and miscut cards providing the bulk of examples, but that adds to the charm of the set. It is doubtful that anyone will ever find a gem mint complete set, but the thrill of the hunt and uncovering new examples of this rare set have collectors scrambling.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cards That Never Were #61

2012 Topps - Rich Thompson

Rich's last licensed MLB card came in 2002, as a prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays. Since then, he made his MLB debut for the Kansas City Royals on April 7, 2004. Thompson only appeared in six games for the Royals before he was sent down to the minors, where he was on the cusp of being called back up many times, for many teams.

Patience paid off and Rich was called back up to the majors in 2012, as a part of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. It was here that Thompson had his greatest success in the majors, collecting his first hit on May 17, 2012 against the Boston Red Sox, eight years, one month and ten days after his MLB debut.

Thompson broke his foot in 2013, while fielding a ball, which ended his career. Despite spending time with the Royals in 2004 and the Rays in 2012, Rich only has a Royals Police issued card from 2006 and a handful of minor league cards after his Blue Jays prospect cards in 2002. In 2014, Thompson competed on season six of American Ninja Warrior.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Thornton Lee 1941

Card #16 - Thornton Lee

Thornton relieved St. Louis Browns outfielder Roy Cullenbine, who pinch hit for Cleveland Indians starter Bob Feller in the bottom of the third inning, to start the fourth. He ran into a little trouble in the top of the sixth inning, when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bucky Walters hit a double and St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Terry Moore's flyball to deep left field scored him.

Lee had one at-bat in the bottom of the fifth inning off Cincinnati's Bucky Walters, where he lined out to Brooklyn Dodgers center fielder Pete Reiser in left center, but moved Detroit Tigers first baseman Rudy York to third base.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Hector Noesi

Card #159 - Hector Noesi

Born: January 26, 1987

Hector was signed by the New York Yankees in 2004, but didn't play in their minor league system until 2006. While moving up the Yankee minors, Noesi was injured in June 2007 and required Tommy John surgery., which sidelined him until July 2008. Hector finally made his MLB debut with the Yankees on May 18, 2011 in Baltimore. He ended up winning that game in the bottom of the fifteenth inning.

Noesi was traded to the Seattle Mariners before the 2012 season, where he stayed until he was purchased by the Texas Rangers on April 12, 2014. After three games with Texas, Hector was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox on April 25, 2014. Despite a rocky start in Chicago, Noesi has settled into a mostly stable starting pitcher. He was the ninth starter in 2014 for the White Sox.

WSC All-Stars: Luke Appling 1941

Card #15 - Luke Appling

Luke was a reserve shortstop in the 1941 All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. Boston Red Sox shortstop Joe Cronin started for the American League and Cleveland Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau replaced Cronin in the top of the sixth inning. Appling did not play.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1912 Plow's Candy (E300)

This set wasn't discovered by most collectors until the 1970s, when a large cache was found. Before then, it was virtually unknown until a decade earlier. At sixty-eight cards, it should seem like an easy set to attempt, but it has frustrated even the most savvy of ephemera enthusiasts.

Beckett lists this set as 1911, but the majority of collectors identify this as 1912. While there are photos shared with E145 Cracker Jack and PC796 sets, this set is definitely scarcer.

Cards are unnumbered and typically blank-backed, although some do appear to have advertisements on the back. In the future, other cards in this set may be found, but right now it stands at sixty-eight cards.

The White Sox have four cards in the set.

Joe Benz
Nixey Callahan
Billy Sullivan
Ed Walsh

The cards are three inches by four inches, with a large distinct 2 1/4 inch by 3 5/16 inch picture dominating the space. The set also features sturdy stock.

This is definitely in the category of white whale set. Examples don't become available often enough to be a realistic collecting goal. The team set completion may be a better goal, but still one that will likely tax your resources and luck.

2014 WSC Hall Of Fame Results

The votes have been tallied and here are the results.

There were no players elected this year and George Dickey received too few votes to be on next year's ballot.

Unfortunately no one was inducted into the WSC Hall of Fame Class of 2014!

There will be a new player at catcher on next year's ballot.

Thank you to everyone who voted!

Here are the final totals.

Hoyt Wilhelm - 44 votes (69%)
Robin Ventura - 41 votes (65%)
Al Lopez - 28 votes (44%)
Gary Peters - 27 votes (42%)
Bobby Thigpen - 26 votes (41%)
Buck Weaver - 22 votes (34%)
Jerry Hairston - 10 votes (15%)
Jorge Orta - 10 votes (15%)
Oscar Gamble - 9 votes (14%)
Dummy Hoy - 8 votes (12%)
Fielder Jones - 6 votes (9%) 
Frank Isbell - 4 votes (6%)
George Dickey - 2 votes (3%)

I did see a nice upward trend in votes for most of the holdover players. The top four gained considerable ground since last ballot. Most players that fell into the bottom four were on teams from the first decade of White Sox baseball. Most people aren't familiar with them and I encourage those of you who aren't to read up on them. Their great plays are the foundation of what White Sox baseball stands upon. Gary Peters made a huge leap from 26% to 42% since 2013! Maybe those almost teams of the sixties are finally getting the appreciation they deserve.

Perhaps next year will be a better year for the nominees to be inducted into the WSC Hall of Fame!

The voting for the Class of 2015 will begin some time after the World Series is concluded.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Luke Appling 1940

Card #14 - Luke Appling

Luke was the starting shortstop for the American League All-Stars in 1940 at Sportman's Park in St. Louis, Missouri. He went two for three at the plate, hitting a double off of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Paul Derringer to right field in the second inning, and a single off of Chicago Cubs pitcher Larry French in the eighth inning. Cleveland Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau replaced Luke defensively in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Appling was the lone representative for the Chicago White Sox in 1940. The National League won the game 4-0.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Maikel Cleto

Card #158 - Maikel Cleto

Born: May 1, 1989

Maikel was originally signed as an amateur free agent on August 10, 2006, by the New York Mets. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners on December 11, 2008, in a three way trade involving the Cleveland Indians. Just over two years later, Cleto was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on December 12, 2010. Maikel made his MLB debut on June 2, 2011 when the Cardinals brought him up from AA to relieve an overworked bullpen.

Cleto would remain with the Cardinals for parts of three seasons, until he was claimed off of waivers by the Kansas City Royals on June 23, 2013. Maikel did not make it to the Royals' parent club and was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox on February 26, 2014. Cleto pitched fourteen innings over thirteen games for the Pale Hose between April 2nd and May 8th, producing a 5.14 ERA. His last appearance, on May 8th, sealed his fate with the ChiSox. Maikel gave up five runs over two innings to the Chicago Cubs. His season ERA jumped from 2.25 to 5.14. Cleto was released by the White Sox on July 1, 2014.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

This Year Is Flying By

An elusive photograph of Harold Baines making a leaping catch has made its way onto eBay. Very few seem to remember Baines as an outfield threat, just as a clutch hitter. Almost every baseball card I have of Harold features him either hitting, standing or somewhere on the base paths. One even included him sliding into a base! Very few cards show him in the outfield, where he roamed before his knees weakened and forced him into an almost full time DH role. So it's nice to see photographic evidence that my memories were not tainted as a kid. Everyone seems to recall the hitting prowess, but that always eclipses the fielding skills in most people's memories.

I'm fully aware that I haven't been posting much. It's not that I have lost interest in the White Sox, baseball or baseball cards... I haven't. Time has a way of slipping away quickly when there are multiple projects taking your time. The biggest and most important project on the horizon is my wedding, which takes place in less than two months. Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook may have noticed numbers popping up on my personal page. The countdown is in full swing!

I'm happy to report that the wedding is baseball themed and it takes place within walking distance of a baseball card shop. The card shop proximity wasn't planned, but I take that as a wonderful sign.

Work has also taken a lot of my time lately. Not only am I loving my job, but I've been working on multiple books that are all getting nearer to completion. Of course family takes up time too and with a lovely soon to be wife and a wonderful step-daughter to spend time with, I get away from the blog more than I probably should. With 2,750 previous posts, I think there is plenty to rediscover on the days I don't get to posting.

Friday, June 27, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Ted Lyons 1939

Card #13 - Ted Lyons

Ted was chosen for the 1939 All-Star game in Yankee Stadium in New York, but did not play. Amazingly, this was the only All-Star selection for this Hall of Fame pitcher in his twenty-one season career. Red Ruffing of the New York Yankees, Tommy Bridges of the Detroit Tigers and Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians shared the pitching duties for the American League team. Bridges won the game and Feller got the save.

Monday, June 16, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Javy Guerra

Card #157 - Javy Guerra

Born: October 31, 1985

Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2004 amateur draft, Javy made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on May 15, 2011. During his first year, Guerra was thrown into the closer role due to an injury to Jonathan Braxton and thrived. A few bad outings in his sophomore season and Javy was thrown into middle relief in favor of Kenley Jansen. Injuries plagued Guerra's 2012 and 2013 seasons. Javy was designated for assignment and removed from Los Angeles' forty man roster on March 16, 2014.

Ten days later, the Chicago White Sox claimed Guerra off of waivers and assigned him to AAA. In May 2014, Javy was promoted to the parent club and made his White Sox debut on May 25th against the New York Yankees, replacing Andre Rienzo to begin the sixth inning. Guerro lasted two innings in his ChiSox debut, giving up two hits, a run and two hit batters, while balancing that with three strikeouts. After some initial rockiness, Javy has settled into his role nicely with Chicago.

Friday, May 30, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Luke Appling 1939

Card #12 - Luke Appling

Luke was chosen for the 1939 All-Star game in Yankee Stadium in New York, for the shortstop position, but did not play. Boston Red Sox shortstop Joe Cronin played the entire game for the American League.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Scott Carroll

Card #156 - Scott Carroll

Born: September 24, 1984

Originally drafted by the Angels in 2006, during the sixteenth round, Scott did not sign and re-entered the draft in 2007, where he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the draft. Carroll slowly climbed the Reds minor league system until he reached AAA in 2011. Cincinnati released him in 2012, but the White Sox picked him up on July 12th.

Scott missed the majority of the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but came back strong. A series of unfortunate events led to Carroll's promotion to the big leagues in 2014. Scott made his MLB debut on April 27, 2014 against the Tampa Bay Rays as a twenty-nine year old rookie. Carroll made the most of his debut, going seven and a third innings, in front of countless family and friends, winning 9-2. Scott came back to Earth in May, but his gritty determination has him contending for a permanent spot in the starting rotation.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Mike Kreevich 1938

Card #11 - Mike Kreevich

Mike was the lone representative for the White Sox at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio for the 1938 All-Star Game. Kreevich started in left field and led off the top of the first with a flyball to New York Giants center field starter Mell Ott. Kreevich also ended the top half of the third inning with a flyout to Chicago Cubs second baseman Billy Herman. Both appearances were against Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer.

Boston Red Sox left fielder Doc Cramer pinch hits for Kreevich in the top of the sixth inning, ending Mike's appearance and the White Sox involvement in the 1938 All-Star Game.

Monday, May 12, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Moises Sierra

Card #155 - Moises Sierra

Born: September 24, 1988

Moises began his career in the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2006. He worked his way up to the majors by 2012, when he was brought up on July 31st to play against the Seattle Mariners. Later that season, Sierra hit his first MLB home run on August 13th, against Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy.

The start of the 2014 season was a rough one for Moises. After hitting a dismal .059 through thirteen games, the Blue Jays placed Sierra on waivers. The White Sox claimed Moises on May 3rd. Since joining Chicago, Sierra has been on a tear, hitting .364 through his first eight games and clubbing a home run. Moises has been such a pleasant surprise, he replaced Jordan Danks as the backup outfielder after his first week with the ChiSox.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Monty Stratton 1937

Card #10 - Monty Stratton

Surely White Sox fans thought this would be the first of many All-Star selections for Stratton, but an accident after the 1938 season left Monty with an amputated right leg. Stratton did not play in his only MLB All-Star Game selection.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Thoughtful Journey To My Mailbox

 It's always a wonderful feeling when an unexpected package arrives in the mail. Especially when that package contains baseball cards! Specifically cards of one of your favorite players.

J.T. from The Writer's Journey saw a couple of Harold Baines cards and thought I'd like them. Was he ever right! Harold is the one untainted baseball hero from my youth. Well after his playing days, another baseball hero from my youth passed out in a cornfield and has since lost a little of my respect, but far from all of it.

Cards of Harold in his prime are a real treat. Although, I would be joyful if a White Sox card from the eighties showed anything but Baines batting, standing or posing. Harold was a five tool player and I refuse to believe there are no pictures of him making a diving catch in the outfield, in an eighties White Sox uniform.

The first image I saw when I removed the contents of the package was the 1987 Fleer Baseball's Hottest Stars card staring back at me. It was a simpler time, before beefed up super players sullied the game. Harold was young and one of the brightest spots on a White Sox team headed in the wrong direction.

I flipped the top loader over and the 1985 Drake's card was revealed.
Not far removed from an American League West championship, things were still promising for the White Sox when this gem came out. Baines had just crossed the threshold into crafty veteran presence while still having all the skills to accomplish anything.

Thanks, J.T. This was a great trip down memory lane. It always great to receive surprise cards from you in the mail. This was greatly appreciated!

WSC All-Stars: Luke Sewell 1937

Card #9 - Luke Sewell

Luke was selected as the reserve catcher for the American League All-Stars at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., but did not play in the game, due to New York Yankees backstop Bill Dickey (brother of future White Sox catcher George Dickey) playing the entire game.

Monday, April 28, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Scott Downs

Card #154 - Scott Downs

Born: March 17, 1976

After a disastrous 2013, the White Sox spent the off-season retooling their bullpen with a mix of veterans, projects and rookies. Scott was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 1997 draft. He made his debut with the Cubs in 2000, but was traded to the Montreal Expos before the end of the season for Rondell White. While with Montreal's AAA affiliate, Downs threw a no-hitter against the Las Vegas 51s in 2004, but was released after the season when struggles returned. Scott then signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he spent the bulk of his career. Before he signed with the White Sox in 2014, Downs spent time with the Angels and the Braves.

Scott mainly throws a sinker and a curve ball. In his thirteen year career, he has started, closed and relieved. His primary role with the White Sox has been late inning reliever and after a rocky start, has settled in nicely. The White Sox have found some offense in 2014 and Downs may be a key reason in 2014 that the Sox keep their leads late in the game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Rip Radcliff 1936

Card #8 - Rip Radcliff

Rip started in left field for the American League All-Stars in 1936. Radcliff first stepped up to the plate in the top of the second inning with two out, but the Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig was picked off at first base and the inning ended. Rip then led of the top of the third inning, where he grounded out to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean.

Radcliff appeared in the top of the fifth, again with two outs. This time, he ripped a single to center off of New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell, which was the only hit for the AL team that inning. Goose Goslin, representing the Detroit Tigers,  replaced Radcliff in left field in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Gypsy Queen

This product is flying off of shelves, but I'm not entirely sure why. It plays like a poor man's Allen and Ginter. The quality is there, but it doesn't have the same vintage spark as Allen and Ginter. It does provide a good appetizer until that better set is released later in the year.

I have no general complaints about Gypsy Queen. It is a solid set, but they always are. If you've picked up some Gypsy Queen in the past, you know exactly what to expect. If you haven't liked Gypsy Queen in the past, nothing about the 2014 set will change your mind. With vintage sets, Topps seems to favor the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The White Sox have twelve cards in the set.

78 - Marcus Semien
118 - Jose Quintana
181 - Paul Konerko
188 - Adam Eaton
216 - Andre Rienzo
221 - Matt Davidson
251 - Erik Johnson
254 - Avisail Garcia
273 - Alejandro De Aza
287 - Adam Dunn
305 - Chris Sale
320 - Jose Abreu

There are two short prints in the set, Chris Sale and Jose Abreu. It shouldn't be too difficult a task to complete a team set. The cards aren't ugly, but competently consistent.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WSC All-Stars: Vern Kennedy 1936

Card #7 - Vern Kennedy

While Vern was elected to the 1936 All-Star game at Braves Field in Boston, he did not enter the game. This was Kennedy's first of two selections to the All-Star game, his only with the Chicago White Sox.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WSC Birth Years: Adrian Nieto

Card #153 - Adrian Nieto

Born: November 12, 1989

Originally drafted by the Washington Nationals in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, Adrian was the third pick in the Rule 5 draft after the 2013 season, selected by the Chicago White Sox. While Nieto seemed a longshot at best to make the club out of spring training, he vaulted over Josh Phegley, Hector Giminez and Miguel Gonzalez to secure the backup catcher spot on the roster.

Adrian made his MLB debut with the White Sox on April 2, 2014, pinch running for Paul Konerko in the bottom of the ninth, scoring the first run in a rally that would send the game into extra innings and end up an eventual White Sox winner. Nieto has been used sparingly, mostly as a pinch runner and late inning replacement, but if he can translate and expand on his .240 spring average into the majors, I don't think anyone will complain about that in his backup capacity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play the White Sox played their home opener against the Boston Red Sox. They ended up losing eight to six, saddling Paul Assenmacher with his first loss as a member of the Chicago White Sox. The ChiSox were one and four after that home opener. It wasn't a preview of things to come, as the Sox would climb to the top of the AL Central before the work stoppage in August.

I was a senior in high school, at the age of seventeen. This was a year of change. My ability in creating artwork took a huge leap forward this year. My ability as a writer (and amateur lyricist) started to mature and expand. I ditched my aviator glasses that I had since the eighties and modeled my new pair after the glasses John Lennon wore in the late sixties. I grew my hair out. I discovered Tori Amos' Under The Pink album and I was planning on attending my first Lollapalooza concert that summer.

My interest in baseball cards started to wane with the expansion of pack prices and the sheer amount of releases, parallels, inserts and chase cards. I was wavering on collecting. I decided music would be a better pool of my funds and tracked down every song from my favorite artists that I could get my hands on. I got the concert bug and saw Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones that year. I was all over the map, but it made complete sense to me. I was finding myself and breaking out of the mold that the Chicago suburban public school system had shaped me in.

When April 8, 1994 started, I was nowhere near Chicago. I was in Dallas, Texas visiting my grandparents with my mom. We would be hopping a plane back to Midway airport in the late morning. I picked up a magazine in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport to read on the plane. I read an article on Kurt Cobain's overdose in Rome. There was a striking black and white photo of him accompanying the picture and I decided that would be my next art project. It would be a thirty inch by forty inch ebony pencil drawing of that close up of his head. I would start it on April 11th, when I got back to school from spring break.

I had just finished up a four foot by four foot painting of John Candy, inspired by the photo on the cover of People magazine right after his death. I had gotten a lot of positive feedback from fellow students and faculty alike. My dean even wanted me to produce a copy of the John Candy photo for him, which I happily did. My work had caught his eye before. An ebony pencil portrait of John Lennon (circa Strawberry Fields Forever), a portrait of Jimi Hendrix with watercolor chalk brushed with turpentine and countless others.

We arrived back home in the early afternoon. My dad had to work, so we took a cab back from the airport. The gentleman blasted his rap music and drove like he was running from the devil at the crossroads, but we were still in one piece. We I was bored and decided to go to the CD Exchange, which was a used CD store one town over. Sadly, today, it is a nail place. I spent about a half hour in the store and purchased Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. It was a nice sunny day with a slight chill in the air and I spent my time indoors devouring my newly purchased album.

I was refreshed by the time dinner was ready at 5:30. I came down and ate with my mom in front of the television, which was something we always did. For whatever reason, the sitcoms we usually watched weren't on. The Cubs may have been on WGN. We watched the national news instead, which we never did. As I sat and ate my dinner, I heard about Kurt Cobain's body being found that morning. I sat in stunned silence and ate the rest of my dinner, processing this new information.

I had been through two busy airports, ridden in a cab and spent a good chunk of time in a music store ad this was the absolute first time I was hearing this news. After the initial shock wore off, my first thought was of a classmate. We had a running joke where we "argued" about which band was better. I always defended Queen and he always defended Nirvana. Truthfully, I always liked both. I still do. My classmate was not the most pleasant person to be around right after, but he survived. Today, he is one of the most positive people in my Facebook feed, always with a great attitude and ready to bring a smile to any face.

I've always thought of the "grunge" movement as a rocket. There was a lot of testing and preparation but it blasted off and started to get noticed when the genre caught national attention after Nirvana's second album came out in 1991. It peaked with a shotgun blast in April 1994 and the ashes that fell littered the landscape in the years that followed, thinning out with each passing day until the final flake came down in 2002, when Layne Staley's body was found that April. The wind has blown since then, picking up tiny pieces here and there and scattering them, but they are just shadows of the original.

Twenty years later, I can still remember most of what I did that day. It's funny the things that you recall. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast some days, but that day, twenty years ago, is still full of vivid detail.

That year was a lot of change. I met so many people. Some I still call friends to this day. Baseball cards and eventually baseball abandoned me that year, but I have forgiven them. April 8, 1994 was also the last day I saw my grandparents together. My grandpa died two and a half years later. It was probably the best year of my youth and I'll always have the memories, good and bad. Mostly good.

While today is a day of reflection, it is also a day to look forward. There's nothing wrong with reliving the past once in awhile, but remember that time keeps moving forward and good things are still to come.
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