Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thanks, Jimmy

Over the summer, I happened across one of those typical "AMAZING SALE! BID NOW!" sports memorabilia tweets in my twitter feed.   I usually scroll on by, not willing to tempt myself unnecessarily or become angry over incredibly inflated prices....

But on this particular day, curiosity lay waste to the kitten and I perused the listing of autographed ROMLB's that all began with a $19.99 starting bid.   I quickly found three that I liked and, at $10 combined shipping for all three balls, I figured "why not?"

I put in a minimum bid for all three and went back to enjoying some quality time with the family.

In the end - it would be a young Braves hurler, a dapper HOF pitcher/commentator and one of the greatest baseball personalities to ever grace the diamond that rounded out what may have been one of the finest memorabilia "hat tricks" in some time.

Nobody else wanted these three items?   With the price of a ROMLB off the shelf weighing in at $15-$18.....I feel like I got a pretty good deal.   Yes, they came with a COA from a very reputable, high volume dealer.   No, it definitely isn't PSA/DNA - but I was willing to roll the proverbial dice.  

The first two I will save for a later date - but in light of Mr. Leyland's recent retirement from management of the Detroit Tigers, I figured this would be a great time to share.   I have no love for the Tigers....or for the Fish....or the Pirates....or the Rockies.   But I can vividly recall the excitement of Mr. Leyland when his Marlins pulled off their miracle season and his unfiltered dismay with Marlins management after they liquidated the team that winter.   I also recall the matter-of-fact interviews with him after Sid Bream's slide allowed the Braves to edge out Leyland's Bucs in the '91 LCS.

Then, there's just Jim Leyland - the dude.

I don't recommend anybody light up some tobacco, even though I myself enjoy a fine cigar and recently have even tried my hand at a pipe (tobacco, chuckleheads :)....but I always got a kick out of pictures of Leyland enjoying a smoke in the dugout.   Marlboro Reds, if I recall correctly.   It's a call-back to a simpler time, when everything wasn't so....sterilized for our consumption.   And I'm a big fan of that.

He was, and is, old school baseball management at its finest, in my humble opinion - even when that management bested my beloved Yanks over the past few years.   He respected the game and its players.   It was a very touching moment to witness his exchange with Mariano Rivera this past season, as Mo was saying his goodbyes.   Leyland pretty much teared up as he described their conversation!

I was very happy to add his autograph to my collection.   No, I was elated.   I wonder if he'll join the Hall of Fame one day?   I suspect he probably will - what  do you think?

Either way, he's part of what I love about this game.   Thank you for the memories, Mr. Leyland - enjoy your retirement!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Checking In...

Hope your summers have been just as wonderfully busy as mine! As luck would have it, Blogger's not letting me insert any pictures - so no card post today :(

That being said, I'm still here and can't wait to share more of my collection with you all. Stay safe and have a great weekend!

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Connecting Bob Gibson and Roger Maris with Danny Tartabull and Werewolves - 1968 Topps #154

I happened upon this card at a really great price that made it too difficult to pass up.   It was vintage, it featured Bob Gibson and it marked a specific event in baseball history - so I'm lying.   I was powerless to resist regardless of the price.   Here's the front of the card:

Clearly, a beautiful dame's lipstick is visible in the lower right....

I go back and forth on the '68 design.   It is loved by many but hated as well - I suppose I am somewhere in between, but it carries the trump aspect of being from 1968 regardless of design.   I do appreciate the vintage television screen viewing frame that Topps uses here, showing a zoomed-in look at Gibson chucking some serious heat towards a batter.   I can't imagine facing that guy!   This particular copy is in pretty good shape.   The centering is jacked up a bit (technical term) and there's a weird red coloring on the bottom right, but the corners are good and everything is legible - which is what matters the most to me.

As the card proclaims, Gibson tossed a shutout in Game 4 of the '67 Series to put the Cards in a 3-1 game lead.   The evil Red Sox would go on to stretch the Series to a full 7 games, but we all know how it ended.   The Cardinals were the much more experienced team in the Series but the Sox certainly showcased some impressive talent in Lonborg, Yastrzemski, Siebern and even an aging Elston Howard.  I didn't know that?!   Must research Elston's time in enemy territory a bit closer....

Anyways, the Series featured pitchers like Lonborg and Gibson along with some young fellow named Steve Carlton.   Gibson's shutout is truly worthy of note with this card as he held the Sox to only 5 hits but I wonder if there was a similar highlight card for Mr. Lonborg's 1-hit shutout complete game over St. Louis in Game 2?   If not, it would certainly be a shame.

I have a strong affinity for the '67 Series because it plays out for me as the swan song for Roger Maris.  He was already well into a steady (but respectable) decline towards retirement by the fall of '67 but he brought his batting average up above .250 for the first time in three seasons to contribute to the Cardinals' domination of the senior circuit that season.   Even better, Maris batted .385 for the Series with a home run, 7 RBI and 10 hits - a stat line that was only SLIGHTLY bested by teammate, Lou Brock.   Lou DID have three additional at-bats....just saying.

But yes, Roger did go DEEP in Game 5, providing the lone run in Steve Carlton's losing effort.  

Here's the back of the Gibson highlight card:

More lipstick.   Or Tartabull blood?

Yep, that's a Tartabull you see there on the Red Sox lineup.   How sweet is that?   Confirmed by my crack investigative google skills, Jose Tartabull IS the father of junk wax-era legend, Danny Tartabull.   There's something special about bringing a 1968 Topps card that highlights the '67 World Series full circle back around to a rookie card in my '86 Topps Traded Set.   Thanks to for sharing the image.  

Did you know about the book written about Danny's old man's putout from right field, late in the '67 season?   It involves werewolves and was written in 2001.   WHAT?!  Apparently those BeanTown types are good for some decent lore every once in awhile.

I say it often but never enough - I love this hobby.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

For Trade - 2012 Topps Dave Winfield Retired Number Manu-Patch

Here's a Dave Winfield manu-patch that I pulled out of last year's flagship, if I recall correctly.   It's pretty sharp looking and it pays great homage to Winfield's highly underrated years with the Padres as he began his career.

It really doesn't fit into my collection very well, however.   Is anybody interested in swapping for this?   Just thought I'd throw it out there....

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Consider This Reprint To Be A Rain Check

I don't often dabble in reprints.

As a collector with a curious case of selective OCD qualities, any joy from appreciation of a nice copy of an old, glorious card is usually foiled by my left-brain subconsciousness ruining the experience with thoughts of, " isn't real...." or "'ll never know what this card was truly like, will you?"

Awful, I know.

But these usual sentiments didn't apply as soon as I laid eyes upon this beauty.   It's a reprint of the 44th card from Bowman's 1953 "color" set.   And I think it's absolutely perfect!


Berra is goofy, Bauer is in control and having a good time while the Mick appears to be a bit forlorn and wary of the price for the fortune and glory that lies ahead.   Who says these little pieces of cardboard aren't true pieces of art?

This picture was most likely taken during the 1952 campaign and the season's stats for all three Yanks can be reviewed on the back of the card shown below.  

Bauer enjoyed an All-Star season in '52 and was probably still enjoying life to the fullest after four years of war from '42 through '45.   Purple Heart and Bronze Star, people.......a hero.   On the diamond, he had about as solid of a career as any could ask for.   One of my favorite highlights would have been in the Fall Classic previous to this picture, when Hank popped a bases-loaded triple to clinch the series for the Bombers over the New York Giants.

Yogi had established himself as one of baseball's finest backstops, if not THE best catcher (as noted for the junior circuit on the card back above).   Thirty home runs from you game caller is an incredibly valuable power source, no matter what decade we're talking about - and the Yankees had Yogi in their lineup for 142 games in '52.   With careful monitoring of ailments and exclusive pitcher/catcher tandems resulting in frequent changes for catchers in today's game,  his records become even more impressive.

I love how this card still refers to Mantle as being the youngster who replaced inherited DiMaggio's centerfield spot.   That wording is very carefully chosen and very indicative of the Yankees fandom culture that was prevalent at the time.   Perhaps this was a brief moment captured where Mickey was still trying to find his place in the Bronx universe?   The Mick was fortunate and would eventually play his way into the hearts and minds of the Yankees faithful.   Another young, record-setting outfielder with a crew-cut wouldn't be so lucky at the beginning of the next decade.

Do I even need to point out the great appearance of Yogi's vintage catcher's gear in the forefront of the picture?   Awesome stuff! 

This particular card comes from some sort of a Mickey Mantle commemorative set in 1996.   I'm not too certain of its origin but if any of the other cards are in line with this beauty, I would be hard pressed not to add them to my collection.

Alas, my OCD hasn't let me off scott-free with this card.   It has been officially placed on my radar as one of those epic cards to be obtained at a later date......only time will tell.  

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Quest for '60: #499 Johnny James

It's been a great couple of weeks for my quest to complete the 1960 Topps set.   I had some very generous additions from reader Mr. Haverkamp (thank you, sir) and I was also able to pick up this card of Mr. James - a Yankee (applause!) and man of two first names.

This card is in really great shape!   The colors are nice and bright, the surface is clean and the corners are sharp for a '60.   More and more, I fall in love with this set every time I have the chance to enjoy a new addition.   I know.   It's weird.

Mr. James' time in the majors was fairly short   He initially came up for a cup of coffee on September 6, 1958, after spending four years in the farm system.   On that day, he came on in relief of Art Ditmar, who had served up seven runs in six innings to the Washington Senators.   Taking the reigns with gusto, Mr. James held the senators scoreless over the final three frames.

Johnny would miss out on breaking camp with the club in the spring of '59 but he fought his way onto the roster in Florida a year later and had some success with the Yanks in 1960.   During that season he appeared 28 times in relief, going 5-1 with two saves and striking out 29.

In 1961, Johnny was sent to California in the trade that brought Bob Cerv to the Bronx.   His career would end when that season wrapped up for the Halo's, but he did participate in the historic home run season of his former teammate, Roger Maris.   On June 11th, in the bottom of the 7th inning, Maris (who had already taken Eli Grba deep in the 3rd for HR #19) crushed a solo shot off of James into the right field bleachers for his 20th long ball of that historic season.

Johnny James ended his career with a 5-3 record and 73 strikeouts.

Here's the back of card #499:

I always love the backs of these vintage cards and this one is no exception.   Of note to me is the use of the term "reliefers" as opposed to "relievers".   This is the first time I've noticed that but I'll assume it was common practice back then?   I'll surely keep my eyes open for that nomenclature going forward....also, you'll notice the Topps write-up refers to the Yankees as the "New Yorkers".   Again, I'm certain my eyes have glazed past this reference before, but this is the first time I've noticed.   Very cool.

I also find it interesting that Topps was able to successfully project that Johnny would make the club in 1960 after spending the 1959 campaign back in the minors.   This card is #499 - would it have been produced early on in the season?   Could they have had a head's up if this card was released in a later series?   Inquiring nerds want to know.....

The cartoon highlights Mr. James' participation in a no-hitter against the Phillies during spring training ......which is also noted in Johnny's wikipedia which wikipedia notes this co-op no-no as being a prime reason for Mr. James breaking camp with the parent club.

HEY!   So, it looks like Topps did indeed have a pretty good idea that Johnny "stands a fine chance" to be on the roster at some point that season!   Those rascals at Topps, I tell you what!

Ah!   Just a common from an old baseball card set - but look where it's taken us!   A post that includes two guys named Grba and Cerv, along with some impromptu cardboard appreciation research for your enjoyment today.   I love this hobby.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My First Zoilo!

In this Year of the Puig and season of distress for Yankee Nation, any bright spots for hope have been a much welcome occurrence.

Don't get me wrong, the Yanks are truly holding their own in what I consider to be the toughest division in baseball.   Considering the onslaught of injuries, slow recoveries and even setbacks for a majority of the traditional offensive producers - we're doing alright.

But it's still great to see a youngster come up through the system, report for duty and provide some excitement!   That's what Zoilo Almonte has done for the Bombers and I hope he gets a chance to continue as long as possible!

I was able to obtain my first card of Zoilo, this 2010 Topps minor league card.   Almonte is featured playing for the Yanks' Class A affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs.   A team I desperately need to take a drive and go see!

The light is kind of poor to make out the foil print, but overall it's a really sharp, colorful card.   As you can see, Zoilo is a lefty, which will undoubtedly come in handy from time to time as long as he manages to see at-bats in Yankee Stadium.   The design is right in line with that used for the big league release but it's always a lot of fun to enjoy the minor league mascot logo's.   From my time in various places across the country, I've always found them to be a lot of fun and pretty imaginative.
Since being called up, Zoilo is batting .342 with a respectable .881 OPS.   He's only gone deep once but has scored four times and shown tremendous patience at the plate ( 2:1 K:BB) with a flair for clutch hitting, netting him 7 runs batted in.   As an extra bonus, he's also swiped 3 bags!

Here's the back of the card:

The offensive boost he's provided has been fantastic for our box scores but the intangible contribution of youthful excitement on a team of aging veterans and injury "fill-in's" has been a breath of fresh air.   I wonder if he'll be included in the Update Series from Topps?

Welcome to the Show, Zoilo and welcome to the Ryan's Pitch Yankees collection!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Yankees Collection - A Piece Of The Rocket

Mention the name Roger Clemens in a discussion amongst baseball fans and you're sure to get a colorful response of opinions and memories.   The Rocket was one of the finest hurlers in the game when I was growing up and he was almost certainly destined for great things.....

Which he did achieve for the most part, albeit under a now ever-darkening cloud of PED suspicion and the embarrassing legal circus that culminated in congressional hearings.   In light of recent events regarding a [former] Patriots tight end....seems kind of silly.   But let's stick to good stuff!

Good stuff included my discovery of special cards called "relics" as I waded my way back into the hobby two years ago.   Jersey swatches and bat pieces were brand new to me and I was simply AMAZED that I could own a piece of the game with so much ease and, sometime, such little cost!?

The dust has settled as my modern collecting education continued and I now have a better grasp on the relic cards that are quite pervasive in the hobby today.   I still like relics from players or teams that I collect, but the luster of a plain old gray/white piece of fabric for random players has worn off a bit.

Before my initial fascination wore off, I found this jersey swatch card of Clemens at a great price and snatched it up:


Pretty slick, right?   The Donruss design is a little flashy but I think it works pretty well, almost giving the sense of impending speed from Roger's fastball.   The jersey swatch is there on the lower left.   At the time, I just thought the card was cool and I wanted to add another Yankee 'relic' to my fledgling collection, especially a Clemens.

But after the past couple years of 'education', I now know that the "3-tone" swatch is fairly rare; often accompanied by adjective/nouns like: mojo, sick, nasty, etc.   Those descriptions make me laugh and shake my head.   This card however?  Makes me happy!

Here's the back:

Yeah, the whole 'serial numbered' aspect of cards was a new concept to me as well when I started back up in 2011.   Didn't even register with me when I snagged the card!   15/125?   Not too shabby, I guess.   You even get a mug shot of Clemens.   Anything beyond the standard COA and "Congratulations!" message is pretty rare these days for relic cards.   So I'll take the bonus pic!   Also, this card is really, REALLY thick.

I like that the COA statement confirms that the jersey from which the swatch was cut was worn in an official MLB game.   Since this card is from '04, I like to pretend that this is a piece of the "Away Gray" jersey Rocket sported into Fenway Park on October 11, 2003.   It was the infamous Game 3 of the ALCS that showcased a historic rivals' pitching duel between Pedro Martinez and Clemens, who as we all know began his famous career as a Red Sox.   Clemens won the game, supposedly his last for the series (though he and Pedro would have a rematch in the eventual Game 7).   The game was enhanced/scarred by a brawl between the two teams after a high and tight Clemens fastball hurt the feeling of one, Manny Ramirez.


The benches cleared but before order was restored, Don Zimmer famously charged Pedro Martinez - who threw the old man to the ground - but clearly held his own.

Anyways, OBVIOUSLY - this is a piece of the jersey Clemens was wearing that day.

I can dream!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Freddie Friday!

Yeah, let's have some Freddie time, shall we?

This one comes from my Freddie Freeman collection and, if my memory serves me correctly, MAY very well be the first Freddie card I ever procured.

Pack pulled, of course!   This would have been back in the first few months of my return to our hobby.   So very exciting, confusing and wondrous.....but it was cards like this that gave me a sense of familiarity and a connection to the hobby I had taken a hiatus from over twenty years ago.

Fab-Fivin' Freeman
Simple, direct and with a little bit of patriotic flair - this 2011 Topps Lineage "glossy rookie insert" set was a tribute to the versions of similar design that graced the top of every rack pack I bought as a kid back in the day.   And I had the same reaction with this card that I did back then.

This is a Freddie Freeman card.   It is a rookie card....and it is good.

Yeah, so this doesn't quite fit into the modern, strict definition of "rookie card" as I would come to learn over the past couple of years.....but it works for me!   Here's the back:

Again, very basic - probably thought to be quite boring by most modern collectors.   But I love it!   Heck, it's commemorative, don't you know!?

My Freddie collection has come a long way since that fateful day but this card will always have a special place in my Freddie Freeman collection.  

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday, June 21, 2013

"I Wasn't Going To Buy Any - Until I Did." - 2013 Topps Series 2 Review

Yeah - I lied.


I blame it on the Evan Gattis RC and all of those teasers on Twitter!   Seriously, it's not my fault....

There are, however, some silver linings to all of this:

- I will show more than one card in a post
- I listened to my brain and used math to realize that 2 hanger boxes are better than 1 blaster (for me)
- It was a lot of fun
- Now I don't have to buy any more retail this year.....seriously!

I walked into WallyMart on the way home from work.   Like a zombie, I headed towards the card isle with the intent to only buy - get this - one or two "loose" packs.   That's all I was going to snag.   Just for old times sake, just to get a taste of the new and scratch the itch.

But then I thought - how much of a taste can you get from two loose packs?   How about a BLASTER?   At least you know you'll get a cool cereal box manupatch prize!

"NO!" my brain yelled.   "You can get almost TWICE the cards for half the price if you go with two "Hanger" boxes.

Normally, my illogical heart would snag a blaster and giggle at this point but something made me pause this time.   The math was too much to overcome and images of disappointments during release rippings past flooded back.......

Two Hanger boxes it was!   For the price of a blaster.

Ryan 1, Card Gods 0.

No more delay - the goal was a Gattis rookie card.   Could I pull it off with 200+ cards to flip through?  

Let's see!


First insert - #1 of the WBC subset. Reyes.   Colorful.  Enjoyable to pull.   Won't be collecting.


"Greinke Face" made me laugh.   I referred to Greinke Face in a tweet last night, promptly received a @NightOwlCards "hoot" and that made me happy.   An example of why baseball cards are awesome, even a (GASP) base card!   Next:


Harvey beat my Braves this week.   Boo, Harvey!   He's pretty good, though.   Promising future with his buddy Wheeler.   We'll see!


Easily the most awkward, painful looking "baseball" face I can think of.   Dominguez is on his way up, though.   Marlins used to have him, yes?   I think the Astros' strategy is materializing before our very eyes.


Simple but pretty.   Should have been a Yankees card.  I kid!


BONUS RIZZO!   Woo-hoo!   Trust me, this is the only Soriano card that is penny-sleeved in my collection.   I think.


Standard.   By the end of Series 2, these kinds of inserts run their course for me.   This Schmidt is pretty sharp, though.   Good colors - and I still must commend Topps for ensuring this year's inserts don't look like a waste of space for we who never pulleth autographed versions.....


HOLY MOLY!!!!!!   MATTINGLY!!!!!   '72 MINI!!!!!  I didn't even know he made the insert set so this was a complete and utterly pleasant surprise - and there is no better feeling than that when you're busting baseball cards!   YES!   Player Collection!!!!   Favorite card so far......


BACK TO BACK FAVORITE PLAYER INSERTS?!?!?!?!   As we say down here - OH LAWDY....okay, pretty boring shot of Rizzo, but I love cards that mark a certain event, game or date.   This card commemorates Rizzo's first HR as a Cubbie.  Love the stamped foil.  To the growing Player Collection it goes!


This is probably the card that most of you would consider to be the "HIT" of the day.   I'll always take my favorite guys' base cards over something like this.....BUT....this card is very nice.   It's really thick stock:


Notice the dramatic shift to sepia? (laugh)   Very thick, bright/sharp color scheme on the front with a strong shot of classic Gibson, sideburns and all.   It is numbered 9/50.   I didn't know this subset existed and surely didn't expect to pull a /50 card out of a hanger box.   Great surprise.   Might sell it.   Might trade it for similar.  For now - I'll enjoy!


This kid Segura can PLAY and I stand by my belief that if he were a Yankee, Dodger or other large market team - we'd be int he middle of SeguraMania right now.   It's almost like he's having the season that Starlin Castro just can't seem to find.   What do you guys think?   I wish it had a "RC" logo on it.   Did he lose eligibility for that last year or something?   Sharp card.   Might have to keep an eye on this guy.....


Underrated Oriole.   Surrounded by what is currently an offensive MACHINE.   Nice old-school style follow-through captured here....I could easily imagine this picture on an '85 Topps card.


More strong photography here, in my opinion, from Topps.   They've really stepped up their game in both Serieseses.   Do you guys think Dom Brown can keep his revolution going this season?   Will the Phillies have a sell-off here pretty soon?  


Dickey making his Greinke Face.   Love it.


Rainbow-y "Chasing" inserts.   Pretty sharp, but I'm not in love.   They highlight specific achievements, though.   +1.   If only there was a Yankee or Brave in there....


My attempt at a summary photograph of Hanger Box #1.   Yes, I was pretty lucky with this one - but even if the Gibson had been an Aubrey Huff base card (no offense, I love Aubrey Huff), I would've been very happy with all of this for $10.   Good variety, no dupes, healthy stack.  

No Gattis, though!!!!!!!

Box #2...............would I find the White Bear?!?!?!


Apparently, epic follow-through's are a "thing" this year.   Miss this guy in the Bronx.  He's still mashing out west!   RAUL!!!!!!!!!!!


ROOKIE CUP!!!!!!!   Love this card.   Classic.   Is it just me or does Yoenis look really old here?


Moving on.


Horrible use of the horizontal design.   Seriously?


This horizontal picture is better.....AND in black & white.


This might be the nicest design/layout/picture/etc card out of the whole bunch.   Love this.   Almost makes me want to be a Buccos fan!!!!   Almost.   Good job, Topps!


"Scooter turning two over top of Votto" - doesn't that sound cool?


My workout partner.


This guy is raking - nice parallel card.   The blue and red work really well together.  I like it.


No way I could have asked for a better follow-up to the Mattingly '72 mini - another Bravo!




Another great card for my Braves collection - Medlen's first career victory is the event that is commemorated here.   I wonder if he'll stick tot he rotation when Beach returns?


My "Cut to the Chase" offering between the two boxes.   Kaline is a favorite of mine from the club in Detroit.   Sharp looking card.   Not sure if I am going to hold on to it, though.


Ah, yes!!!!!!   The Captain, himself.   Jeter's version of the Chasing History insert is of the vertical variety and I think it shows pretty well.   It highlights his pursuit of lofty career numbers.   I hope we get a chance to see him play again as soon as possible.   The Yanks need him this season and baseball needs him for just a little bit longer.....nice card for the Yankees collection.


My prayers for more Yankees and Braves were answered with these last two cards.   This Aaron insert is a nice looking card and I was able to capture some of the rainbow shine that reflects off of these.   The card highlights a rather random stat - XBH Record - but a record is a record.   I like this card.


Not a Yankee or a Brave on this one but another sharp looking card from this set.   Rickey making the dash to (second?) base was a sight I grew up with and his single-season marks were amazing.   I wonder if Mr. Hamilton of the Reds will write himself into this story of speed one day soon?

And how do we wrap up a lengthy post like this?

With a big 'ol MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - that's how!

My friends, if this were to be my final 'pack' of cards for 2013...........I'd be okay with it.   Here it is, my first ever Evan Gattis card.....the card I was hoping to pull!


Thanks for reading!