Sunday, March 31, 2019

Friday, March 29, 2019

Card Spotlight: 3-29-19

1969 Topps Super #11 - Pete Ward

If you've read this blog before, you know that I am a fan of oddball sets. Generally anything that is a little bit different than the normal flagship stuff. Those flagship releases are great, but nothing beats the feeling where you pause even for a brief second because your brain is processing where this card falls into the collection. It's not a feeling I get too often, but it happens.

The Topps Super cards usually throw me for a split second, just because I don't see them often enough and they are larger than the standard size. When you are sorting through cards and seeing the same designs over and over again, an oddball card can be a fantastic wake up call. It jolts you out of your auto-pilot mode and forces you to pay attention.

A lot of Topps oddball products are over the standard size, which makes it a bit difficult to store. They will rarely get mixed in with regular cards because of the size difference. In reality though, about the only Topps Super releases I don't have to take a second look at are the three from the eighties. It's only because they use the same design and picture as their flagship counterpart.

The late sixties/early seventies Topps Super sets looked remarkably similar. Sometimes I can tell by a player or a uniform, but other times it's not easy. The card will get a second look. I wish I had the time to give every card a second look. You can notice all the small details that go unnoticed. Until recently, I hadn't noticed that there was tiny printing differences in the 1991 Topps cards. When they are actually pointed out, it's almost like I was blind before. How did I not notice that before now?

As this 2019 season gets underway, take time to notice the little details. They will make the memory that much more enjoyable.

WSC Gierman '19 - Tim Anderson

Card #22 - Tim Anderson

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

WSC All-Stars: Wally Moses

Card #24 - Wally Moses

For the first time since the inaugural All-Star game in 1933, the All-Star game was cancelled. Due to wartime travel restrictions for World War II, the 1945 All-Star game was cancelled on April 24, 1945.

No players were ever "officially" selected to the All-Star rosters, but the Associated Press and The Sporting News selected their own roster, so fans could dream about the All-Star game that never was.

Wally was selected to the All-Star team by the Associated Press as a reserve outfielder. Moses led the American League in doubles in 1945. Wally was also selected for the 1937 All-Star game as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics.

WSC Gierman '19 - Luis Robert

Card #20 - Luis Robert

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Is eTopps Still A Thing Or Am I Out Cards?

I know that Topps stopped selling new eTopps cards in 2012. The website is still active, but it's a mess. The website won't recognize my login and the forgot username and/or password link does not work. I e-mailed Topps about it on February 19th. I received a reply later that day that Topps was looking into the situation. I have not received any other communication from Topps.

While trying to get my collection streamlined and organized these past few months, I had a moment of clarity. I had eTopps cards that I hadn't shipped. This little epiphany started this frustrating path down the Topps rabbit hole.

So, is there anything I can do at this point? I feel like I've already invested too much time in this endeavor and the Topps Company has not invested any. At least that's the way it appears. Perhaps there is a dedicated team working around the clock on my login problem and I have exposed a previously undetected issue that threatens to bring down the very infrastructure of the Topps Company and all that will be left in its wake is Panini America and I will be burned in effigy for the destruction of the trading card industry, cancelling the National this year and beyond, and bringing the world to the brink of devastation. Perhaps not.

Closer to the truth is that Topps probably does give two bleeps about eTopps and most likely hasn't since before 2012. Truthfully, I haven't cared about eTopps in a long time either. The cards are still in limbo because I balked at the shipping rates years ago. I thought it might be time to get my cards out of limbo, but it's proving difficult to do so.

If anyone has any serious suggestions as how to get some actual help from Topps on this issue, I'm all ears. I don't see this ending well. I have a feeling that my account was deleted and I am out the cards I have stockpiled. I hope I'm wrong and a nice solution presents itself.

***UPDATE 4-1-19***
Apparently, I chose the absolute worst time to remember I had cards on eTopps. "System issues" was the explanation I was given. I am back into my account, but I seem to remember more cards in my account than I actually have. My memory could be faulty or cards could have disappeared. Nonetheless, I am back in and can formulate a plan from here.

WSC Gierman '19 - Lucas Giolito

Card #19 - Lucas Giolito

Monday, March 25, 2019

1949 Leaf Premiums

We have here a vintage oddball card release. It didn't come out in the usual way, so there are not an abundance of copies floating around. It's larger than the typical card releases of that time, so there was less chance of kids getting their hands on them. They didn't feature current players, so most kids of that time wanted little to do with them.

These cards measure 5 5/8 inches by 7 1/4 inches. They are quite large even by today's standards. They came at the bottom of boxes of Leaf gum cards. Most kids didn't know about them considering these cards were underneath twenty-four packs of gum and cards at a nickel a pack. Kids probably were even less likely to read the advertisement on the back of their Leaf cards. One would have to turn in ten wrappers to get the premium cards. Some kids were probably tenacious about it, most kids probably couldn't be bothered.

These cards are sepia colored and feature a facsimile autograph and a short biography on the front. The backs are blank.

The checklist was only ten cards, but had eight different players.

The White Sox had one card in the premium set.

Ed Walsh

The other unnumbered players were, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Mickey Cochrane, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, John McGraw and three different Babe Ruth variations. The cards are rare today, but they can be found if you're really looking to own them. The toughest to obtain are the Babe Ruth variations (especially a blue background without text) and the Lou Gehrig.

These definitely flew under the radar in 1949. It's really cool to to see such an odd set released at a time where baseball cards were just starting to gain traction again after World War II. I probably appreciate the players checklist now more than most kids back then did. I have an appreciation and admiration for the game in all eras. I have since I was a kid. Most kids are just looking for the current superstars of the game.

WSC Gierman '19 - Adam Engel

Card #18 - Adam Engel

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cards That Never Were #65

1988 Classic Red - Alfredo Griffin

From 1987 until 1991, Classic made quite a splash onto the hobby. The company got around the whole license issue by making a board game. The backs of the cards had trivia questions and even a place for the player's autograph.

Some collectors loved these cards and others hated them. I personally don't know anyone who actually played the game attached to these cards. I was always disappointed when my team did not get any cards in a release. Classic made two sets of fifty cards each in 1988. Two teams were absent from both releases. The Dodgers and the White Sox.

I can almost see the absence of the White Sox. The team was spiraling towards mediocrity. The Dodgers, on the other hand, won the World Series in 1988. It's harder to explain the lack of Dodgers cards in a 1988 release than the White Sox.

This entry and the previous will try to rectify that issue.

The fact that there are no Dodgers represented in a year where they won the World Series is atrocious. So, I asked myself who would I like to see from the 1988 Dodgers team on a card? The answer was obvious... Alfredo Griffin.

I've been a fan of Alfredo Griffin since he was in the first pack I opened in 1983. I always smiled when I pulled Alfredo Griffin, so this choice is purely selfish. It would have to be selfish reasons because Griffin had one of the worst seasons in his career in 1988, but he still came out a World Series champion in the end.

WSC Gierman '19 - James McCann

Card #17 - James McCann

Friday, March 22, 2019

Card Spotlight: 3-22-19

2004 Topps Draft Pick Bonus #8 - Gio Gonzalez

A small part of me really wanted the White Sox to right a wrong in their past this off-season. I really wanted Gio Gonzalez to come home. You see, the White Sox originally drafted Gio in 2004, as the thirty-eighth pick overall in the first round. I've been hearing great things about Gio ever since.

The mistake was not trading him away after the 2005 season. No. That may have taken Aaron Rowand away too, but the White Sox got Jim Thome out of the deal. That was a great overall trade. I would have pulled the trigger on that trade. In fact, Gio was the player to be named later in that trade. It stung, but Jim Thome was such an asset to the White Sox that it was worth it. Center field may have been too much for Brian Anderson to take over, but the Sox were still in great shape.

When the White Sox shipped out "Sweaty" Freddy Garcia to the Phillies, almost a year later to the day, I was saddened to say goodbye to Freddy, but I cheered getting Gio Gonzalez back. The other player the Phillies threw in was a prospect named Gavin Floyd. That trade worked out well for the Sox too.

Gio was well on his way to making his debut with the White Sox a few years down the road, when the unthinkable happened. The White Sox got fleeced in a trade with the Oakland Athletics on January 3, 2008. Losing Fautino De Los Santos didn't sting so much. I remember him being highly thought of, but his MLB career didn't pan out greatly. The loss of Ryan Sweeney wasn't too bad. I'd miss him, since he had been up for a little bit in the previous two seasons. I could live with losing those guys. The Sox threw in Gio Gonzalez.

There was literally no position player that I would have wanted from the 2007 Athletics coming back in a trade to the White Sox. If the player was a name, they were past their prime. If they were mid-20s or younger, they didn't amount to much. Did Mark Kotsay and Dan Johnson work out when they were on the White Sox a few years later? No? Imagine them coming to the White Sox a couple years earlier. You'd be right to think that was underwhelming. Who did the White Sox get back in that trade? Nick "Dirty 30" Swisher.

His grating antics, anemic batting average and lackluster fielding skills were a black cloud over the 2008 White Sox team. Despite him, that team went on to win the division. Out of those three main complaints, Swisher was benched. Instead of cheering on his teammates and pumping everyone up, Nick decided his time would be better spent by pouting.

If the Sox had to give up Gio Gonzalez in a trade to the Athletics, who would I rather they have gotten? That's easy. A prospect that was thrown into a trade with the Diamondbacks a few weeks earlier... Carlos Gonzalez. Carlos would make his MLB debut with the Athletics on May 30, 2008. He had a better attitude, a better average and was four years younger. His fielding would improve greatly in 2009, when he was traded to the Rockies.

Swisher was such a burden to the Sox and clearly not a good fit, that they packaged him with Kanekoa Texeira to the Yankees that brought back the underwhelming trio of Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez. Clearly not their best trade.

Gio would make his MLB debut in 2008 for the Athletics. After two years of bumps and bruises, he would find his footing and become a two time All-Star and be in the running for the Cy Young award twice.

Cargo would have been a nice addition for giving up Gio for the second time. I was hopeful that the White Sox would have added Gio to the 2019 White Sox, but the battle of Ervin Santana and Manny Banuelos for fifth starter will have to suffice. Good luck in New York, Gio!

WSC Gierman '19 - Jace Fry

Card #15 - Jace Fry

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Card Lies: 1960 Topps Norm Cash

While I try to expand this series past just White Sox players, mistakes involving the White Sox just keep haunting me. I tried to keep the White Sox away, but it just followed me.

We'll take the case of Norm Cash's 1960 Topps card, which features three different teams.

Norm played for the White Sox in the 1958 and 1959 seasons. On December 6, 1959, Cash was traded to the Cleveland Indians with Bubba Phillips and John Romano for Minnie Minoso, Don Ferrarese, Dick Brown and Jake Striker. But wait, Norm's travels were not done yet. On April 12, 1960, before playing an official game with the Indians, Cash was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Steve Demeter. Norm would play fifteen seasons for the Tigers.

Just how weird is this card? It was done in time to list Norm on the Tigers, so kudos for Topps being current. It used an unaltered photo from Cleveland as the large picture. The smaller black and white photo has a Detroit Tigers logo placed upon Cash's hat. The uniform is clearly from his time with the White Sox. Owner Bill Veeck put large numbers on the sleeves, as well as the back. If I recall correctly, he called them "TV numbers" because they were easy to spot on the game television broadcasts.

I actually appreciate the Cleveland photo. Norm was on the team for such a short time, it's nice to see that represented. The card still looks good, despite the mess. I wonder what made Topps fix the Sox hat logo and not the Indians hat logo? Whatever the reason, it's a cool little oddity that some people might overlook.

This is the only three team card that immediately comes to mind. If I come across another, it will probably be featured here at some point.

WSC Gierman '19 - Dylan Cease

Card #14 - Dylan Cease

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

WSC All-Stars: Thornton Lee 1945

Card #23 - Thornton Lee

For the first time since the inaugural All-Star game in 1933, the All-Star game was cancelled. Due to wartime travel restrictions for World War II, the 1945 All-Star game was cancelled on April 24, 1945.

No players were ever "officially" selected to the All-Star rosters, but the Associated Press and The Sporting News selected their own roster, so fans could dream about the All-Star game that never was.

Thornton Lee was selected by the Associated Press as a reserve pitcher. Lee was also selected for the 1941 All-Star game as a member of the White Sox. Thornton spent eleven seasons with the White Sox and last appeared in the majors with the New York Giants in 1948.  Lee might have been an All-Star in the years between his selection had it not been for a string of injuries that finally relented in 1945, when he regained his old form.

WSC Gierman '19 - Jon Jay

Card #13 - Jon Jay

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2019 Topps Opening Day

It's pretty standard fare that after the hullabaloo of Series One and Heritage, the lesser priced Opening Day sneaks by like a thief in the night. The no frills, kid friendly release is always a bit of a letdown. A solid release that is mostly a repeat of the flagship release, just pared down.

The exciting part of this set is the few players that aren't in series one, but will be in series two. This will theoretically whet the appetite for series two. While this tactic does accomplish that goal, it also has an unfortunate side effect. It sets in design fatigue. By the time series two rolls around in June, I'm sick of the design. I tend to not pick up as many packs. When the update series finally drops, I don't want to see that design anymore, so I pick up even less packs. It's a vicious cycle that happens every year without fail.

Still, there is a place for Opening Day in the cycle. I tend to look at it more as an unannounced parallel with some different inserts, at a kid friendly price point. That makes it a tad bit more exciting of a release, but I'm usually underwhelmed at the set. Not because it isn't a good set, but because it feels like a rehash. I would feel better if Topps used all the elements in Opening Day but used new pictures. It would feel fresher that way.

The White Sox have nine cards in the set. Seven base cards and two inserts.

37 - Jose Abreu
57 - Carlos Rodon
63 - Avisail Garcia
66 - Matt Davidson
89 - Yoan Moncada
99 - Daniel Palka
131 - Michael Kopech
TTC-SP - Scoreboard Pinwheels
YOF-16 - Frank Thomas

This could be a chance to update a few team changes for players, but Topps opts for carbon copying the existing card, slapping the Opening Day logo on it and calling it a day. Garcia and Davidson have been on different teams for awhile. If Topps can make last minute changes to Heritage to update player destinations, then it's possible for Opening Day to have more current information available. Even if they went the O-Pee-Chee route and added a line of text saying that the player was traded or signed with a new team and changed the team logo to reflect that new team, it would be something cool.

I would have more respect for Opening Day as a card line, if Topps treated it with more respect. I appreciate the little flairs like mascots and ballpark food. It makes the set worthwhile to get these little moments that bring you closer to the aspects of being there without the benefit of sweat stained "relics" or tablecloth pieces. I enjoy learning about features of different parks and rituals of different teams. I just appreciate more care into the final product.

WSC Gierman '19 - Carlos Rodon

Card #12 - Carlos Rodon

Monday, March 18, 2019

Draft Years: 1968

 With the fourteenth pick in the 1968 amateur draft, the White Sox chose shortstop Rich McKinney out of Ohio University. Rich had parts of seven seasons in the majors with the White Sox, the Yankees and the Athletics. McKinney started out as a third baseman, before moving to second base and then the outfield, occasionally filling in at shortstop. After 1971, Rich became more of a utility player, playing all but catcher, pitcher and center field.

Players like Thurman Munson and Greg Luzinski were taken before Rich, but notables such as Gary Matthews, Bill Buckner, Burt Hooten, Tom Paciorek, Cecil Cooper, Doyle Alexander, Al Bumbry, Steve Stone, Oscar Gamble, Ken Forsch and Bill "Spaceman" Lee were all taken after McKinney. The White Sox chose Hugh Yancy in the second round.

A better choice for the first pick would have been the 248th pick in the eleventh round...

Ben Oglivie

Of the eleven picks that the White Sox had in the draft before Oglivie was selected by the Boston Red Sox, only the first three ever made the majors. All three (Rich McKinney, Hugh Yancy and Lamar Johnson) made their MLB debuts with the White Sox in the seventies. Lamar Johnson had the best career out of the three picks, playing nine seasons in the majors with the White Sox and the Rangers. Lamar was also a nice key player for the 1977 "South Side Hitmen" White Sox team, hitting .302 with eighteen homers.

Oglivie would play for sixteen seasons with the Red Sox, Tigers and Brewers and would finish with a .273 career average. Ben would be selected to three All-Star teams (1980, 1982 and 1983) and win a Silver Slugger in 1980.

As with any retrospect, it's easy to say what should have happened. It's fun to speculate the fortunes of the White Sox, if they had better drafts. It's still frustrating to see wasted opportunities, even if there was no sure fire way of knowing how things would pan out.

WSC Gierman '19 - Zack Collins

Card #11 - Zack Collins

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Cards That Never Were #64

1988 Classic Blue - Greg Walker

From 1987 until 1991, Classic made quite a splash onto the hobby. The company got around the whole license issue by making a board game. The backs of the cards had trivia questions and even a place for the player's autograph.

Some collectors loved these cards and others hated them. I personally don't know anyone who actually played the game attached to these cards. I was always disappointed when my team did not get any cards in a release. Classic made two sets of fifty cards each in 1988. Two teams were absent from both releases. The Dodgers and the White Sox.

I can almost see the absence of the White Sox. The team was spiraling towards mediocrity. The Dodgers, on the other hand, won the World Series in 1988. It's harder to explain the lack of Dodgers cards in a 1988 release than the White Sox.

This entry and the next will try to rectify that issue.

I chose Greg Walker as the White Sox card because Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines had cards in 1987. Greg was a popular local player, who was still decent. His life would be threatened on July 30, 1988 from an epileptic seizure. While he would come back strong during Spring Training in 1989, his '89 season was not up to his usual standards. After playing in two games in the 1990 season, the White Sox released Greg. Walker would sign with the Baltimore Orioles a few days later, but was released after fourteen games.

WSC Gierman '19 - Caleb Frare

Card #10 - Caleb Frare

Friday, March 15, 2019

Card Spotlight: 3-15-19

1992 Fleer #89 - Jack McDowell

The overproduced junk wax era is not one that I physically visit often in my collection. I tend to have the bulk of it already and I have seen them so much, that the cards mostly haunt me in my dreams. Sometimes I can get caught up in the hype of the stigma against this era of cards and I dismiss them. It doesn't mean I love them any less. It just means I don't visit as often as I should.

Last night, while organizing my collection, I found myself inside a monster box full of junk wax. As I was separating cards into years and sets, I was reminded of stupid things I used to do. I would fill nine pocket pages with cards and then I would cut the pages down into individual cards. My reasoning was that these were more rigid than penny sleeves and not as expensive or bulky as toploaders. It worked as a creative solution at the time. Not so much now.

As I've been organizing, I've been taking cards out of these homemade monstrosities. Most of what I thought I was protecting didn't need any protection at all. It may have cost more to print some of these cards than they are worth now. To me, these cards are priceless, but to those who make their living selling cards, these cards are basically throw-ins or padding so more valuable cards don't get damaged in transit. When I sold cards on eBay, these were my bread and butter. The inexpensive add on. Then eBay changed their pricing structure for stores and I was out.

As I was sorting these cards and I was feeling the actual cards in my hand, something dawned on me. These cards are actually pretty great. I'm not talking about the early nineties Ultra cards or Stadium Club, whose high gloss on both sides would bind those sets together like an impossible brick. No I'm talking about 1992, when Topps and Fleer had gone on to better card stock and gloss on the front. It still had the feel of cardboard on the back, just a glitzier version and the card fronts never looked better.

The card companies took better care in selecting photographs. They took more care in how the cards were made. Yes, some companies would lie about production runs and everybody pumped out way too many cards, but the quality was better. I guess we can thank Upper Deck for that. Even those early Upper Deck cards feel different. A 1990 Upper Deck baseball card has a different feel than a 1994 Upper Deck baseball card. The stock is paper thin on the 1990 cards, but the quality still remains after all these years.

These thoughts struck me as I was sorting through 1992 Fleer cards. The back feels and looks nice. The front still looks nice tilted into the light. There's just something about these cards that is underappreciated because of the time they were released. Sure, the Jack McDowell card has too much dead space on the photograph, but it still captures your eye. Jack isn't in his windup. He's leaning up against a post, 'cuz he's tired.

I'm not sure when cards started using this trick of the player overlapping the border or the text, but it was overused. It also didn't make much sense, dimensionally speaking. Go ahead. Look at some examples where the player obscures part of the border or team name. That's not three dimensional space on a two dimensional plane. That's something that bends the laws of physics.The Jack McDowell card isn't atrocious, but there are some cards out there that really test your spatial reasoning.

There were some great cards that came out in the junk wax era. We tend to blanket over that time frame because the overproduction made most cards worthless. Next time you are going through your cards, if you grew up buying packs in the junk wax era, pause on that part of your collection and try to remember your excitement at opening those packs. What made those fun to collect? What were your collecting goals? What places did you get your cards from?

When you've answered those questions, take a good look at those cards. Appreciate them through your younger self. The answers you get there will peel away at all the "hits" and you'll find yourself at the core of your collecting. It's not just about the case hit or the gimmick cards. It's about the base card. The hometown star, who is only truly appreciated in your town. The common card, which makes up the bulk of the set. Too many times we gloss over every card in the pack, rushing to find that hit or favorite player or favorite team. Slow down and appreciate every card. You won't regret it.

WSC Gierman '19 - Eloy Jimenez

Card #8 - Eloy Jimenez

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019 Donruss

If I was hard pressed to define what old Donruss designs inspired 2019 Donruss base set, I would begrudgingly say some mish-mash of 1991 and 1997. But that wouldn't be exactly true. This appears to be the first year of Panini's resurrection of Donruss, where the base design isn't a direct inspiration of something in the backlog of original designs.

That isn't to say that past Donruss designs don't appear in the set. They certainly do. But the bulk of the base cards shy away from past Donruss designs. They remind me more of Pinnacle inspired designs. I like the direction that Panini is taking Donruss. It could be more exciting, but it says a lot that Panini has looked into creating a new design that is not immediately influenced by the past.

The Diamond Kings and the retro cards both borrow from the 1985 Donruss design. 1985 Donruss is a nice looking set that gets lost in the minds of most collectors. The breakout of the 1984 design made the 1985 set less memorable. It's nice to see it being utilized here.

In the base set, the White Sox have seven cards, including a Diamond King, a Rated Rookie, a retro design and a variation.

9 - Yoan Moncada DK
46 - Michael Kopech RR
64 - Jose Abreu
113 - Yoan Moncada
142 - Carlos Rodon
213 - Daniel Palka 1985 Retro
213 - Daniel Palka 1985 Retro (variation)

Panini is starting to go into territory that originally got Donruss' license pulled. The parallel. There are fourteen parallels and four different colored printing plates. So there are up to eighteen additional ways to collect the majority of the base set.

Full set 300 card (complete set and variation cards) parallels include Independence Day, Career Stat Line, Season Stat Line, 150th Anniversary, Holo Back, Father's Day Ribbon, 42 Tribute, Mother's Day Ribbon, Artist Proof, Press Proof, Black Printing Plate, Black Printing Plate, Magenta Printing Plate, and Yellow Printing Plate.

220 (complete set minus Diamond Kings) card parallels include Orange Holo, Pink Holo, Purple Holo, and Red Holo.

That is infuriating to a completest, when there are so many more sets coming that scream for your time and money. I get parallels and I actually enjoy them, but some releases border on the ridiculous. This is one of those sets. Topps also had eighteen different parallels, including printing plates, on their Series One release, so maybe this is just becoming the norm. It's still ridiculous.

Topps, with all their licenses intact should know better. Panini, while trying to get fully licensed, should show why they need to be fully licensed. Infinite parallels will probably not help matters. Stick to the base set and maybe a parallel or two that you think is cool. There is so much else coming out this year that will be trying to pry your wallet open. Collect wisely.

WSC Gierman '19 - Aaron Bummer

Card #7 - Aaron Bummer

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

WSC All-Stars: Tony Cuccinello 1945

Card #22 - Tony Cuccinello

For the first time since the inaugural All-Star game in 1933, the All-Star game was cancelled. Due to wartime travel restrictions for World War II, the 1945 All-Star game was cancelled on April 24, 1945.

No players were ever "officially" selected to the All-Star rosters, but the Associated Press and The Sporting News selected their own roster, so fans could dream about the All-Star game that never was.

Tony Cuccinello was selected as the starting third baseman for this fantasy game. Tony was selected two other times as an All-Star. Once in 1933 with the Brooklyn Dodgers and once in 1938 with the Boston Bees.

WSC Gierman '19 - Carson Fulmer

Card #6 - Carson Fulmer

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

1961 Golden Press

This set originally came inside a booklet and the cards are of the "punch out" variety. With Topps cornering most of the market with exclusive player contracts during this time, most sets featured Hall of Fame or retired players. This set features thirty-three cards of the greatest players from the first half of the twentieth century.

What separates this release from Topps and Fleer are the photograph choices and the colorization. Featuring "in action" poses, it brings to life many top tier players of the past in a way that was rarely depicted on cardboard before on a consistent basis.

The coloring is off just enough to give the cards an ethereal look to the past. It still gives vibrancy to these players. The little details still show up in the cards. In Eddie Collins' card, the historic arched windows of Comiskey Park are clearly there in the background. They cannot be mistaken for another park, which gives the card more poignancy since old Comiskey was demolished after the 1990 season.

Even though most places list Eddie Collins as being on the Athletics, that is clearly a White Sox uniform on him and he's on the field at Comiskey Park in Chicago. So he is the only White Sox card in this set. There are other subjects who played for the White Sox, but no one else is pictured in a White Sox uniform.

28 - Eddie Collins

This is a unique set for the time. It could almost be a precursor to the SP Legendary Cuts sets that Upper Deck put out in the 2000s. The design has a very similar feel. Although the card itself feels nothing like those sets due to the perforations that held the cards in the booklet.

This is a great short set consisting of thirty-three cards that can be picked up fairly inexpensively. Don't expect to find these in pristine condition because of how they were sold originally.

WSC Gierman '19 - Yoan Moncada

Card #5 - Yoan Moncada

Monday, March 11, 2019

1960 Fleer Baseball Greats

Fleer Corporation's first foray into baseball cards was way back in 1923, when they put their advertising stamp on the back of W515 strip cards. They had blank backs and were a perfect way to advertise its "Bobs and Fruit Hearts" candy line. Fleer's next dip into baseball cards was in 1959, when they signed Ted Williams and made a set of cards all about him, mostly because Topps had a monopoly on most current ballplayers. They had signed exclusive rights to Topps.

In 1960, Fleer decided to expand on their 1959 set, by adding additional players, but mostly retired. The result was interesting. Mistakes were made. Lots of questionable choices were made. In the end, another alternative to Topps dominance was released. Let's dive in.

The design was pretty basic. A frame that was reminiscent of photo corners that held photographs in albums was available in four colors throughout the set. Blue, yellow, green, and red. It was simple, but served its purpose. It stood out from Topps and Leaf in 1960. While Topps had a more complicated, elegant design, Leaf had basically no design to speak of. Leaf looked like a photograph, with name, position and team designation all in black and white.

Standing out from the others was both good and bad. Fleer definitely got noticed, but the set did look a bit amateurish compared to its competition. It was not without its charms though. Players that hadn't been on cardboard in years found a place to shine again, sort of.

While the intention was good, the execution lacked quality control. Subjects ranged from players to managers to executives. They all had connections with baseball. It was a unique set for the time and that is truly what makes it stand out.

The White Sox have four cards in the set.

19 - Marty Marion
27 - Luke Appling
49 - Ed Walsh
56 - Ray Schalk

I mentioned earlier that mistakes were made. Yes, they were. Interesting choices were also made. The backs of the cards listed the teams that each player played for. They also mentioned if that player went on to have any affiliation with baseball after their playing days.

The Marty Marion card should be him in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform or possibly in a St. Louis Browns uniform. Those are the only two teams he was with as a player. Instead, Fleer shows him in a White Sox uniform. He only managed the White Sox, after two managing stints with the Cardinals and Browns. It's a weird choice, but a welcome one for a Sox fan.

The Ed Walsh card is not "Big" Ed Walsh. Sure his statistics were on the back, but the picture is actually Ed Walsh Jr., who also played for the White Sox, but about two decades later.

It's not just the White Sox that are affected by these choices. The entire set is littered with interesting choices similar to these highlighted. Some players are shown in a uniform as an elderly gentleman. Others are shown in uniforms that one would not expect. It's baffling, yet refreshing to see.

The 1960 Fleer set is a nice oddity, where you can find a slew of mostly older players, mostly retired. It helped pave a long path to the 1981, when the Topps monopoly was officially broken for three decades before being reinstated.

This is a fun set to collect and not terribly expensive. If you expand past the White Sox, there are tons of Hall of Fame players, like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mordecai Brown and Honus Wagner. There's even a Branch Rickey card. Ford Frick, Ed Barrow and Kenesaw Landis have cards too. It's a nice history lesson wrapped up in a vintage card set.

WSC Gierman '19 - Alex Colome

Card #4 - Alex Colome

Sunday, March 10, 2019

WSC Gierman '19 - Seby Zavala

Card #3 - Seby Zavala

Cards That Never Were #63

1970 Topps - Van Kelly

Van signed with the Milwaukee Braves before the 1964 season. He stayed in their minor league system until a trade to the San Diego Padres on June 13, 1969. Kelly appeared in seventy-three games for the Padres in 1969, mostly as a backup to third baseman Ed Spiezio and a pinch hitter. He hit .244 that year for San Diego. Normally, this would warrant a card in next year's Topps set, but it never happened. In fact, the only cards listed for Van are both from 1971. A '71 team issue Padres card and a '71 team issue Richmond Braves card.

Kelly found himself in thirty-eight games with the Padres in 1970, now as the Opening Day starting third baseman. The love didn't last very long, as his last MLB game in the field was on June 1, 1970, for an inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His last MLB game was a pinch hitting appearance on June 12, 1970 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1971, Van was on the Richmond Braves, but not the Padres. There was no transaction listed for that move, so I can only wonder how he came back to the Braves organization.

Sometime, during mid-season 1973, Kelly went from the Braves minor league system to the White Sox minor league system. Then in 1974, he was in the Montreal Expos system until 1975. In 1975, Van became the inaugural manager of the Lethbridge Expos.

In my research, I found that my initial card creation of Van's 1970 card came extremely close to another card creation by Giovanni Balistreri in April 2014, so I changed my card to the one above. My original card is pictured below, which you can see uses the same photo as the card from 2014, except for a few minor tweaks. Great minds think alike. Also, when creating custom cards using old designs for "Cards That Never Were", there are only so many good quality photographs out there to use and with players that have limited MLB time, there are only so many cards that can be considered lost without losing the integrity of this type of project.

If unbeknownst to me, if I create a similar card to one that I discover after the fact, I'll change it if I can, because I don't want to step on other people's toes. It's a fun project that we're all doing and it should be kept that way. If there's no other way around it, I'll still show off my card, but I'll definitely acknowledge the previous effort.

Friday, March 8, 2019

WSC Gierman '19 - Yonder Alonso

Card #1 - Yonder Alonso

Card Spotlight: 3-8-19

1985 Fleer Star Stickers #68-73 - Tom Seaver (Stop Action)

Yesterday's announcement that Tom Seaver was retiring from public life, because he was suffering dementia, really got me thinking about his time with the White Sox.

I was excited that the Sox got Tom Seaver. He was still a big name and could bring veteran presence and stability to the mound. Within that time frame, Seaver won his 300th game. That was probably the biggest moment I remember of Tom's time on the South Side. From 1984 until early 1986, Seaver had a 33-28 record with a 3.67 ERA, pitched 547 1/3 innings and struck out 296 batters. That's not too shabby.

While this definitely wasn't prime years Tom Seaver, he was pretty good. I still got excited when I went to a game that he started. Little did I know at the time, that the Sox were getting progressively worse as a whole and was spiraling towards a dismal 1989 season. I didn't care. The Sox were my team and I was excited to see superstar players take the field in the Sox uniform.

I guess that had an effect on Kenny Williams as a player in the White Sox organization at the time, because he used that philosophy during his tenure as GM. Get that superstar player on the team. It doesn't matter that his best days were a decade ago. He's still a name!

One of the best memories of 1985 was going to the local drug store and picking up packs of Fleer Stickers. I would carefully peel off the stickers and place them in my book, lining the sticker up perfectly with the lines of the empty album page. It took me most of the summer and at least one trade before I could finish Tom Seaver's delivery. When it was done, I felt like I had accomplished something during summer vacation.

If I go back through my childhood boxes, I'm sure I will find this sticker album. I can say with some certainty that there are probably still one or two stickers missing from the book. Will I ever go back and finish it off? Never. It marks a time in my childhood that cannot be duplicated. Finishing the album off thirty-four years later will only serve to taint those memories. It will stand as a testament that I finished off Tom Seaver's delivery in six stickers, through pack opening and probably one trade.

I'd like to say I traded with Mark down the street, but it was probably Keith a street over. It's been thirty years since I've spoken to either. Childhood friends drift apart, whether it be disagreements, finding new friends, going to different schools, or moving to different cities. Whatever the reason, the only thing that you can hold onto are the memories of those friendships and the activities that you did together.

I had great friends back then. Mark, Keith, Eric, Ray and Roger. They all had their time in the sun and they all faded into the background of my life. I'll occasionally look back and briefly relive those moments. I'll smile and keep moving forward. It's the same with baseball cards. Sure, there's the connection of trading and showing off your collection to friends, but those cards evoke moments in time too. Every time I look through my collection or read about someone else's cards, those moments are living and breathing again. It is a privilege.

I wish you nothing but peace living out the rest of your life, Tom. I hope you are able to find moments or serenity and joy.
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