Friday, May 29, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: If I Could Be Lyke (Mini) Mike

I didn't catch it on the air (I don't watch much live tv), and only found out about it while googling "be like Mike," but apparently Gatorade brought back an updated version of the 'Be like Mike' campaign earlier this year.

It's been a while since I've rolled out a Braves Lykes card on Food-Issue Friday and I have had this 1994 Lykes Mike Kelly mini in my 'Scan and Post' basket for months, so I think it's time to air it out.

Like Michael Jordan, Mike Kelly possessed great athletic abilities and when Atlanta drafted him #2 overall in the 1991 MLB draft, I thought it was a slam dunk pick (see what I did there?!). I've touched on this many times before, so I won't rehash it- I'll just note that things didn't turn out quite like we had hoped.

As with their previous sets, Lykes (the Braves hot dog concessionaire) issued the 1994 Atlanta Braves cards in two formats- one being standard-sized cards, issued three per Tuesday home game- and the other being a fold-out team photo set featuring smaller (2-1/8" x 3-1/8"), perforated cards. The team photo cards, though smaller than their counterparts, are identical in all other aspects (a change from previous years). The team photo cards were supposed to be issued during an August 14 home game, but didn't get handed out due to the players strike. Thus, they are far more difficult to find.

Whenever I find new Lykes- especially the mini '94s- I'm all like...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #36: From The Cradle to the Grave

Rare is the athlete whose entire career is spent in the same city. Rarer still is the athlete whose career is bookended by two events in the same city- but while with different teams. Andruw Jones is one such player.

2004 Sports Illustrated for Kids #388

At one end is Andruw Jones the kid. Nineteen years old, fresh off a minor league stint in which he hit .339/.421/.652 with 34 homers and 92 RBI over 116 games at 3 stops (including 5 homers in only 45 at-bats at AAA Richmond). The kid hits another 5 homers in 106 at-bats after getting the call to the Show.

The kid then finds himself at Yankee Stadium, New York City- a World Series debutant who homers in his first two at-bats. His youthful enthusiasm, perpetual smile and otherworldly talent helps us to forgive his occasional transgressions (lackadaisicalness, lack of strike-zone judgement). He is a kid, after all.

2006 Sports Illustrated for Kids

Fifteen years later the kid is now a man. His skills have diminished greatly, leading you to believe he's forty-four, not thirty-four. He's still a year away from his final major league game, but he has once again found himself in the City- not in Shea, but back at Yankee Stadium, this time wearing pin-stripes. He homers off of the Twins' Brian Duensing in his first at-bat of the season. And then later, this:

Quite honestly, this is the last moment I remember in Andruw Jones' major league career. I'm really glad that Sports Illustrated didn't create a card of Andruw towards the end of his career. Long gone were the days of his taking away home runs or extra-base hits. Instead, he looks like an old man, slipping as he's taking out the trash.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

From One Madduxfan to Another

A couple of weeks ago I happened across the Madduxfan31 website and contacted Mike, the proprietor, about a couple of Greg Maddux cards that I thought he would like to add to his collection. He was interested and mentioned that he had looked at my want list and found a card I was needing. Perfect! It's always nice to knock off a much needed card!

Thirteen or so years later, Clubhouse Collection remains one of the best relic cards around, IMO. No, they don't have eye-popping bits of patches- just plain, single color swatches- but the vintage look still leaves me wanting more.

Flipping it over, Topps doesn't hesitate to let us know that Fookie can do it all: extra-base machine, All-Star, defender. And I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that vintage (or retro) cards are one of the few things on earth where red and green go well together.

Thanks again, Mike, for the trade. As I mentioned in the email, when I get a little more time I want to try to find more stuff to send you. You have a nice selection of Andruw Jones cards that have caught my eye.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Copyright Line

I recently purchased a Baseball Cards magazine from December of 1987 for one of the three cards included in the publication but little did I know I would find inspiration from the rest of magazine's contents.

One feature, called 'New Stuff,' looked at changes to the 1987 Topps baseball stickers and how a number of collectors had noticed the "Made in Italy" legend was gone from the front and backs of the sticker packages, replaced by "Made in the U.S.A." The author then went on to say that "a Topps spokesman... would not even confirm that Panini had been printing Topps baseball stickers." That comment left me scrambling to my Dale Murphy binder to check the back of his Topps stickers. And there it was- as plain as the nose on my face: Made in Italy.

To be honest, it was quite a humbling experience. After all these years I had never noticed those three small words. If the packs showed Made in the USA, then I don't know what happened, because it was clear that the 1987 stickers were Made in Italy. At least that's what the sticker backs show.

We didn't see this in 1981...

Nor 1982...

It did show up in 1983...


Nothing different in 1984...

Much larger than their previous years, 1985 was Made in Italy, too...

Things didn't change in 1986- larger stickers, still Made in Italy...

We already looked at the 1987 stickers, so moving onto the 1988 set, we see....

not only are the stickers from '88 on a thicker stock, but we also see it indicated that they were printed in the U.S.A.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Comics #1: The Solution

Trying to come up with a new series can be challenging. It's even tougher to create one that is completely original. So you'll have to excuse me if someone else has done a "Sunday Comics" feature. I haven't seen any before (although, I have seen posts featuring the comics on the backs of cards) and thought it would fill in the Sunday void- which always seems to be a slow time on the blogosphere.

1963 Topps #414 Ty Cline

All of us have seen the videos: celebrities punching, pushing, shouting matches with members of the paparazzi. Alex Baldwin; Sean Penn; Justin Bieber. There are countless others, but one thing all of them have in common: they don't have the brains (nor the athletic abilities) of Ty Cline. Or perhaps I should give credit to Topps.

This card and comic combo was created well before the current problems between celebrities and the paparazzi, but I think Topps may be on to something here- let's just call it "the solution".

Friday, May 22, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: Inquiring Minds

For today's subject we're going back in time to an issue of Baseball Cards magazine from December, 1987.

While reading the Collector Q&A section of an old Baseball Cards magazine, I came across a question from a reader about the 1987 Kraft Home Plate Heroes Eric Davis card (card #10). Inquiring minds wanted to know what happened to the upper part of the bat.

As you can see, the lower part of the bat is resting on Davis' right shoulder but then seems to disappear. It's not shrinkage going on, nor is it the remains of a broken bat; rather, it has to be attributed to an airbrushing job gone awry. My guess (and the answer given to the reader's question) is that while airbrushing the helmet and touching up the blue skies, the artist inadvertently painted over the missing part of the lumber.

Have you ever noticed any similar airbrush accidents?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Goodbye, Fookie

"so don't you pity me, don't misplace my intentions. Don't mistake me, this is no illusion- this is an exit."  Exit/ The Black Crowes

Although he hasn't spent any signifcant time on the diamond since appearing in 121 games for St. Louis in 2012, I was still saddened by the announcement of Rafael Furcal's retirement yesterday.

"Fookie" was one of my favorite players during his six-year stint with Atlanta. His combination of speed, surprising pop and an absolute cannon of an arm made the 5'8" Furcal one of the game's most exciting players for his first six major league seasons (2000-2006).

During the 2008 offseason, it was reported that a deal had been agreed upon for Rafael to return to his first professional home. Rafae's agents reneged on the deal, drawing the ire of then-GM John Schuerholz. I remember the excitement of the prospects of him returning to the organization and the disappointment in him re-signing with the Dodgers. Still, I held no ill-feelings towards Furcal, choosing instead to blame his agency.

Thanks again, Fookie, for all you gave to the Braves organization, its fans, and the game of baseball.

Finally, another one of the finest to come out of Atlanta- The Black Crowes

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Most commercials get old- or annoying- after the first few viewings. The ESPN "This Is Sportscenter" series of commercials are one of the exceptions. The best of the best, in my opinion, is the one featuring John Clayton.

In case you haven't seen it, the commercial begins with Clayton wrapping up his segment. As the camera pulls away, John is shown getting up off his chair and ripping off a faux-suit and tie, revealing a Slayer t-shirt underneath. He also 'lets down his hair' which had been pulled back into a pony tail. The studio where he was taping, as it turns out, is actually his bedroom- in all its black/death metal glory. As the music blares, John jumps on his bed and yells out, "hey mom, I'm done with my assignment!" as he takes a bite of his Chinese takeout. The genius of the whole spot, of course, is that John Clayton is the last person you would expect to be listening to and decorating himself and his room with that genre of music. Pure genius, I'm telling you.

Lately I've been trying to finish my own assignment. No, I'm not taking any classes. These are actually self-imposed assignments. I'm coming into a time of year where my work schedule and yard duties will consume much of my time, leaving very little time for other, more fun activities like blogging and enjoying my cards. And so I've been trying to get some things in order around the card chop office before vacation and my summer of hell.

What's going on? Well, I had hoped to paint and re-carpet the man cave before now, which has ended in failure. I have managed to do some re-organizing of the collection after coming to the conclusion that I'm short on space, time and money to chase much of the team sets I had hoped to add to the collection.

I've also been looking at candidates for my own 'Assignment' commercial and I've narrowed the field down to four.

Sonny Jackson

Sonny boy had three cups of coffee before finishing runner-up as a 21 year-old in the 1966 Rookie of the Year balloting. He could have still lived at home during those first three years (as an 18, 19 and 20 year old). Strong candidate.

Cecil Upshaw

Of all the candidates, Upshaw most closely resembles John Clayton- which for my money plays huge. If the late Mr. Upshaw were to star in a Sports Center commercial, I'd like to see it focused him getting ready to close a game (he saved 27 games for the division-winning Braves in 1969) to the sounds of one of 1973's top hits: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by actress/singer Vicki Lawrence. (oddly enough, Upshaw passed away in Lawrenceville, Georgia in 1995.)

Paul Runge

Paul seems to have an advanced pre-pub mustache going on here, along with the chest hairs poking out above his undershirt. Otherwise, he could very well pass for a 14 year-old. Nice try, Paulie.

Denis Menke

"Hey Mom, I've lost my hat!!!" Don't fear, Denis; with metal gods such as James Hetfield sporting short hair, you don't have to worry about not fitting the part. 

I have a winner in mind, but I just don't see any of them topping Mr. Clayton.