Saturday, July 25, 2015

Plenty from P-Town

A package from P-Town Tom arrived about a month ago-- and I'm just now getting around to thank the loyal Cubs fan. Yes, I'm a little behind on trade posts, but I'm sure Tom is a patient man. He is a Cubs fan, after all.



The first group of goodies is an Archives Braves team set from this year's offering. Being a fan of Archives means that I collect the team set each year- this year being no different. While I already had this year's team set, I did need an extra Andrelton Simmons and Chipper Jones for my player collections and these cards from Tom will fill that need.




Up next was the auto and relic group, featuring two autographs from a very unique set from Upper Deck and a jersey swatch from a Donruss Playoff product.



Peter Moylan really endeared himself to Braves fans due to his goofy nature, his sleeve tattoos and his unique sidearm delivery to go along with a mid-90s fastball with nasty sink. Moy started in the Twins system, was released and then spent the next 8 years working in the pharmaceutical industry before making a comeback; he also overcame two Tommy John surgeries and a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his pitching shoulder. You can't help but root for a guy like that.




The final group- 'filler,' as Tom called it- featured six from Topps' 2007 flagship product. While I like black borders, I never cared for the black and red squares in each of the corners. I think this would have been one of the better designs of the 2000s had Topps done something differently with this design. It does feature strong photography, which is still the focal point on these cards.



Thanks again, Tom, for returning the favor! It's definitely worthy of a 'High-Five'!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Manna from (Wax) Heaven

I'm really behind on trade posts- so please be patient with me if I have yet to feature cards you have sent my way. Today we are going to take a look at some cardboard which came my way from Mario at Wax Heaven 2.0 prior to my desert wandering "hiatus."

It all started with a tweet from Mario, showing a Chipper card from this year's Gypsy Queen. I asked Mario if the card was available for trade & offered him a mini Jose Canseco from the same release. He agreed, provided me with his address and a little while later a package arrived from Florida. Much to my surprise, not only did Mario's bubble mailer contain the Chipper card, but many other Braves GQ cards as well as some from 2015 Bowman.






 Love the Alex Wood pose- second only to the 'bat barrel' - type pose.










Williams Perez- has surprised many fans this year with how well he has pitched. I'm interested to see how he progresses.


OZZY!!! Fighting the temptation to gobble up all of his cards. He's small (listed at a 'generous' 5'9") but man, can he run, hit and field.


Hey, how'd they get this photo of Fried- won't pitch until next year (or perhaps instruction league?).


Thanks again, Mario, for the great cards!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On the Box, Inside the Box and Thinking Outside of the Box

My collection has been undergoing a bit of a transformation. No longer am I trying to put together the legion of Braves team sets from every manufacturer under the sun; instead, I'm going back to the basics, trying to keep it simple.

The second most important part of my collection (the Braves Topps team sets being #1) is my Dale Murphy collection. He was my favorite player during my pre-teen years through my early twenties and though I didn't have many of his cards during those years (some of the regular Topps, Donruss and Fleer issues from '78-'84), I have certainly made up for it in my later years. And, other than a couple of magazines and a Pizza Hut placemat, my Murphy collection has pretty much been small pieces of cardboard. The vision of what that collection should look like has undergone a change, as well, as I've begun to think outside of the box. And part of that begins with a box. A box of 1988 Donruss, that is.




Looking back, I'm surprised that I had never purchased one of these before early in June. The cost certainly wasn't holding me back (I paid $2 plus $7.99 s/h), I guess it just wasn't anything I wanted to make room for on my shelves. But with the recent purge that has started to take place, space is no longer an issue.

One other thing... I've had to fight off the initial temptation to open the packs contained within this box. I mean, how fun it would be to pull a Murphy card! But, I have one in my collection and would rather just keep the packs in the box, as they are.


Now if I can only fine one of these display cases for a decent price!




Staying with the 'Box' theme-





Monday, July 20, 2015

Bicycle

Bicycle-bicycle-bicycle I want to ride my bicycle-bicycle-bicycle, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike~ Queen's Bicycle Race

One of my favorite childhood memories was riding my bike to the ballpark, to friends house or the two or three mile trek to a 7-11 store to buy my baseball cards. There were other stores that carried wax packs (and I frequented each of them) but this one particular convenience store was clear across town and riding there gave me a sense of freedom. And of course the ride back created a greater anticipation of ripping those things open and seeing which star (or, more likely, common) I would pull.

I still own a bike but I no longer need to ride it down to the store to get my fix. I'm older, have a drivers license and this thing called an automobile allow me to drive seven miles to Target. Or, I can just stay in my office or living room- or, heck, thanks to mobile devices, just about anywhere- and make a purchase on my computer, phone or tablet. Which is exactly what I did recently.

As much as I enjoy oddballs, one particular type has never really appealed to me. What kind, you might ask? Well if you must know, it's the playing cards which feature ball players. Now, I did pick up an inaugural Colorado Rockies deck from 1993 strictly for the two Dale Murphy cards but that had been the extent of my interest, until I discovered an early Chipper Jones card in the Bicycle Sports 1994 Atlanta Braves team set deck.




Along with the 52 cards in the deck that feature players, the set also included an NL logo card, team logo card, checklist with featured players and a 1994 home schedule. Fronts of the playing cards are blue with red vertical stripes on the sides, team logo and a baseball that says '1994' above the logo. Also included are the MLB 125th Anniversary logo, MLBPA logo and the Bicycle Sports logo.

Team checklist includes the standard stars of the team at the time along with many of the young studs (Klesko, Lopez, Jones, Tarasco, Kelly) but also contains cards for a few players whose Braves catalog is very limited: Milt Hill, Dave Gallagher, and the only Braves card for former farmhand Michael Potts- whose only other MLB cards were in 1996 Leaf Signature Autographs and the 1996 Brewers Police team set.

Besides the obligatory Chipper card, there are four other cards that I must share:



Michael Potts spent six seasons in the Braves organization (1990-1995) before being waved by the team in January of 1996. Milwaukee picked the left handed reliever up off the waiver wire and took him north with the team to start the season. Potts made his MLB debut on April 6 in Seattle and went on to appear in 24 games for the Brewers that season before finishing the year in AAA New Orleans. Michael retired following that season, but eventually returned to the city he called home for a year while in the Braves system, Durham, North Carolina. While in Durham, Potts served as a deputy in the Durham County Sheriff's Department for three years before becoming a state trooper. Two years ago, Trooper Potts was shot in the face, shoulder, hands and fingers while making a routine traffic stop. The assailant, Mikel Brady, was a fugitive from Vermont and was eventually convicted of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and assault on a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to a maximum of 24 years in January of 2014 for his role in the shooting and then another 40 for possession of a firearm by a felon. Potts, whose father was an officer in Atlanta, Georgia and had also been shot in the line of duty, received the Purple Heart award in May of 2014 for the injuries he had received in the shooting. I know it's cliched, but we often think of athletes as our 'heroes,' when guys like Trooper Potts are the real heroes.



As far as the other three cards- no interesting backstory, just photos that are '60s/'70s worthy airbrush jobs:









Get on your Bike and ride!






Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Nice Design, A Nice Signature...Niiiiice!

"Sometimes I try to hit the ball 500 feet instead of just trying to get it over the fence. My swing can get long and can get ugly."

It's a good thing that Topps hasn't used blogger's opinions to determine the fate of the Archives brand- otherwise one of my favorite sets each year would probably be thrown out of the rotation  like yesterday's trash. The best thing about the brand? The autos, of course. Where else are you going to find many of the players included in its checklist? Not in flagship, nor in any of the numerous high-end brands.

One such player from this year's set was one of my favorite players from the 90s. This man, according to the back of his baseball card, ranks fourth all-time in slugging percentage for Braves hitters with more than 2500 plate appearances. The cartoon on that same card back informs us that he was the first player to homer in three straight World Series road games. The player: Ryan Klesko.




His swing was violent; his bat flips, legendary. Ryan Klesko never got cheated at the plate- and that's what was so enjoyable about watching him play. Fan Favorite, indeed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The First Home Run Derby

I won't be watching tonight's Home Run Derby- instead, I will be at a Boise Hawks game. It won't be the first one I have missed and to be honest, I'm not all that torn up about it, either. There was one event in the past, however, that I missed and still wish I had seen. 

The 1985 MLB All-Star game featured a Home Run Derby with Dale Murphy as a contestant. And of course I missed the only one to feature my childhood hero! Held at Minneapolis' Metro Dome, the first All-Star home run derby saw the Junior Circuit defeat the Senior Circuit 17 bombs to 16 dingers. The Reds' Dave Parker led all hitters with 6 jacks, followed by Murph and 4 AL hitters, all of whom blasted 4 over the fence.



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Please Spend Responsibly

As I've gotten older I've become more difficult to shop for and prefer dictating what gifts I receive for birthdays, Father's Day and Christmas. It's probably not as much fun for my family, but I'd rather not get something that I won't enjoy, use, or like- so I just ask for money or give them a want list. I hope that doesn't sound like I'm ungrateful, because I'm generally a grateful person. I will add that this has more to do with larger purchases- not some of the smaller ones that my kids send my way (such as the bag of mini peanut butter cups and box of Willy Wonka Runts I received for Father's Day from my kids).

The gift for this past Father's Day (from my wife) is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.



As you can see, my beloved even let me pick the store and without any mentioning of price limit- just to "please spend responsibly." Alrighty, then!


My shopping spree on COMC.com began with some new Chippers:



Boxtopper- with not one, not two, but THREE of my favorite players!!! How could I pass this one up?





Is that blood on that swatch? I don't think so- but it doesn't hurt to pretend.



Another Turkey Red. Looks like Chip's about to adjust his cup right here. Heh.



Been wanting this one for quite some time- love these A&G box toppers. Only wish I had a sheet protector that these fit in nicely.


My second UD Masterpieces of Larry Legend- this one from 2007. One of the greatest brands of all-time!!!


Let's move on...

"NOW WITH"

 I decided to include a few from older O-Pee-Chee sets. You know the ones. They include "Now with (insert team name)", feature the logo and/or team name but include a photo with the player in his previous team's uniform. Must have for any team set collectors.







I especially like the facsimile auto of Nahorodny. Notice the "i" in Bill is dotted with a baseball? How cute. I think those awful softball uniforms took away his man-card.



Finally, what would a spending spree be without some Murph's?!!!

 Beautiful. That's all I can say about this one.


Desert Storm card from his time with the Fightin' Phils. Much cheaper than I had expected. Paid a buck and change for this one!


Though she doesn't read the blog, I want to thank my bride for the opportunity to pick up some newbies for an affordable price. I'd like to think that I held to my end of the bargain (responsible spending).






Friday, July 10, 2015

Lotta Bats

Like almost every other eleven or twelve-year old little leaguer, I had used an aluminum bat throughout my time in organized ball. But a trip one day to the sporting goods store netted me my first wood bat: a Louisville Slugger George Brett model (BB997). I wasn't much of a Brett fan at the time (I have since come to really admire him as a player!)- Dale Murphy was my guy- but it felt comfortable in my hands and, because they didn't have a Murphy model, my mom ended up buying it for me. I remember the pride I felt taking it to a game for the very first time- and the disappointment when it cracked after letting a friend use it before I had a chance to use it for my second at-bat of the evening. Despite the crack, I saved that piece of lumber and still have it to this day.



Growing up, I didn't lack much. My parents were both self-employed and made decent money, but they probably couldn't afford to keep purchasing wood bats if they were going to break as quickly as that first one did. Had I known what duct tape was back then, I would have done something stupid like trying to tape the crack and continue using the bat. 




I don't know if I had ever seen this photo before. Looks like something that would have appeared in Sports Illustrated or even on a poster.




Series 2 has one of the better inserts in recent memory- Heart of the Order.





Looking at two recently released cards got me thinking about how many bats the average player must go through in a season. I tweeted the question to both Dale Murphy and Chipper Jones but neither replied. Beckett's Chris Olds responded that, according to Louisville Slugger (and confirmed on their website), major league players order, on average, 120 bats per season. I have to wonder if that number has increased since the 90s, what with the increase of the use of maple bats (which tend to break at a greater rate than ash). Regardless, that's a lot of wood!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Record Breaker

Ask most baseball fans- including many Braves fans- who holds the Atlanta Braves record for home runs and you're likely to hear the name Hank Aaron. You certainly can't blame them- after all, he is second on the all-time home run list (I still believe he's the true Home Run King- I just don't want to hear that 'but he took speed' narrative. Please...). But eight years ago today a new home run champion was crowned for the Atlanta Braves- and he had passed Hammerin' Hank over a year earlier (5/31/06, to be exact).

Confused? Well, remember that Aaron played in Atlanta for only 9 years, hitting 335 of his career home runs in Fulton County Stadium. The man who would eventually pass King Henry, Dale Murphy, did so on April 21, 1989; Murphy's record of 371 would stand until Chipper Jones homered twice against the Dodgers on July 5, 2007.



Topps recognized the feat in an insert set found in its 2008 flagship product. Year in Review consisted of 178 total cards, with 60 coming in each of the first two series while the final 58 were included in the Update Series. I like the concept, but the insert set was just too large; with cards seeded 1:6 packs, it was very difficult for anyone who wanted to build the set.


I guess if my favorite player of all-time is going to have his team record broken, it might as well have been broken by my second all-time favorite.