I know I've been away for a LONG time but I have something that is worth the wait. I scooped up a rack pack of '85 Topps for six bucks on the bay. I'll be doing a video break here and also a review for A Pack A Day. Could there be a Clemens or a McGwire rookie lurking inside there? Maybe some Puckett mojo? You'll have to stay tuned to find out...
#8 Ron Hassey Random Thoughts: Like most of the cards from this set we've seen so far, Ron Hassey was a bench player who benefited from being a member of some great Oakland A's teams of the late 80's and early 90's. Hassey's biggest claim to fame is that he is the only catcher in major league history to catch two perfect games. He was also a pretty effective hitter when given significant playing time and was Bob Welch's personal catcher during his 27 win season of 1990. Hassey also happened to be catching when Dennis Eckersley gave up Kirk Gibson's epic home run in game one of the 1988 World Series.
Hassey first broke in with the Cleveland Indians in 1978. In 1980, he led all catchers with a .318 average and had 8 homers and 65 RBI. The next season he would catch a perfect game by Len Barker against Toronto. Hassey was part of the Indians blockbuster deal that sent himself and Rick Sutcliffe to the Cubs to help in their '84 pennant drive in exchange for Joe Carter and Mel Hall. During that winter he was dealt again, this time to the Yankees where he had his best season hitting .296 with 13 homers in '85. Hassey would spend the next few seasons being traded back and forth from the Yankees and White Sox three times. He would wind up signing with Oakland before the '88 season and would stay there until '91 when he played his last year in the bigs with Montreal. There he would catch Dennis Martinez's perfecto against the Dodgers.
After his playing days, Hassey became the first base coach for the Colorado Rockies from 1993-95 and for the St. Louis Cardinals in '96. From 1997-2003 he served as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After managing the Carolina Mudcats in '04, Hassey served as bench coach for two seasons under Seattle Mariners manager Mike Hargrove.
The Card Itself: Typical card pose. Not much to see here.
Did You Know?: Hassey managed to lead the AL with 15 passed balls in 1985 despite only appearing in 92 games.
Where Are They Now?: He is currently managing the Jupiter Hammerheads, a single A farm team for the Florida Marlins.
'90 Fleer Counters: HALL OF FAME: 1 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: 2 CY YOUNG: 1 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: 2 ALL-STAR: 2 GOLD GLOVE: 0 SILVER SLUGGER: 1
Sorry I've been away for so long but it's been an awesome summer for me so far. I've been doing everything but baseball cards lately. I'm also getting ready to move at the end of next month so posts may be a bit sparce until I get settled back in. Starting in August I have some really big stuff planned for the blog including loads of vintage junk wax. In the meantime, here's a couple Pirates games I went to last month. Enjoy.
I know I say this every year but I can't resist. THEPIRATESHAVEAREALLYGOODTEAMTHISYEARANDITHINKTHEYMIGHTWIN75GAMES. Sorry I had to get that out of my system. Even in this big market era of baseball, there is something magical about this time of year for every fan. I think it's great that two of the oldest National League franchises will be kicking things off today. Once again this year I will be chatting live in the comments during the Pirates/Dodgers opener at 1:30 PM EST. Feel free to join me...
So I was in Wally World doing some shopping earlier this evening and stopped by the card aisle. I couldn't believe but there it was, a Topps series 2 gravity feeder! I grabbed a bunch of packs and here's what I got...
Here's a Sweet Sixteen update in the Beckett and Olbermann regions of the Tournament of Gimmicks. Includes interviews with Stale Gum's Chris Harris and Dave the Cardboard Junkie. You still have time to vote in the Sweet Sixteen if you haven't already... BECKETT REGION OLBERMANN REGION BERGER REGION
So out of the blue dayf came up with a great spin on the fantasy baseball idea. It just so happened I had busted a Heritage blaster a few days ago and hadn't sorted the cards into my set yet so it was great timing. And talk about luck, I think I got a pretty kick ass team out of it too! Here's my lineup:
2 catchers (Victor Martinez, Kelly Shopach) 1 first baseman (Adrian Gonzalez) 1 second baseman (Dustin Pedroia) 1 shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) 1 third baseman (Pablo Sandoval) 3 outfielders (Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Brad Hawpe) 1 corner infielder 1B or 3B (Aramis Ramirez) 1 middle infielder 2B or SS (Troy Tulowitzki) 1 outfielder (Raul Ibanez) 1 utility any position or dh (Jacoby Ellsbury) 7 pitchers starters or relievers (Adam Wainwright, Josh Beckett, Rick Porcello, Tommy Hanson, Ross Ohlendorf, Cole Hamels, John Danks) 1 team card (Cardinals) 1 manager (Bob Geren)
I think I did pretty damn good for myself. This should kick ass!
Update on second round action in the Beckett and Olbermann regions and interviews with Stale Gum's Chris Harris and Dave from Cardboard Junkie. Don't forget you still have time to vote in the second round. BURDICK REGION OLBERMANN REGION BERGER REGION
It's time for the second round in the Beckett Region of the Tournament of Gimmicks. Vote for your least favorite card gimmicks in the sidebar on the right. And don't forget about the Burdick, Olbermann and Berger regions. Beckett Region Round Two Game 1 1)"Jon Smoltz vs 9)Aurora Cubes The "Jon" Smoltz card thumped Topps D3 in the first round while Pacific Aurora Cubes was in a tough fight with Finest's fractured base sets before pulling away late.
Beckett Region Round Two Game 2 4)Alex Gordon vs 12)'01 UD Sweet Spot Ichiro Jersey Alex Gordon, picked by many to win the entire tournament, is fresh from a big win over Finest's peel-off protectors. But Gordon may have trouble with the Ichiro "jersey" which just upset one of the most famous cards of all time, the '33 Goudey Nap Lajoie.
Beckett Region Round Two Game 3 6)"Franken-cuts" vs 3)Topps U&H Joba "Astros" "Franken-cuts" trounced the '99 Topps Mac/Sosa varitaions handily while the Joba "Astros" card ran all over "All" Hrabosky.
Beckett Region Round Two Game 4 7)2010 UD Double Takes vs 2)Poley Walnuts 2010 UD Double Takes crushed Sportflics but will face a stiff test from Poley Walnuts which easily defeated eTopps.
The second round in the Tournament of Gimmicks has officially begun! Cast your vote on the sidebar to the right. You have until 11:59 PM EST Saturday to vote. Don't forget about the Burdick, Olbermann and Berger regions as well.
For some reason Topps thought a stealth card of a squirrel climbing a foul pole would drive collectors to buy more packs of '07 U&H. It just drove us nuts. And of course Poley Walnuts plays for the Yankees. Of course he does.
vs 15) eTopps
The idea is you can buy, sell and trade your cards completely online without ever having to deal with the pesky physical possession of your cards. You know, if that type of thing puts you off. To be honest, the way some of these cards look, you'll be glad they are hundreds of miles away from you in some hyperbolic chamber in New York's outskirts. But it inspired the Million Card Giveaway and Topps really did strike gold with that.
Game #6 7) 2010 Upper Deck Double-Take Variations
Does anyone at Upper Deck really believe that someone is a) going to find out what all the meaningless little photo variations are? and b) going to actually attempt to collect them all? Oh, right.
vs 10) 1986-90, 1994-96 Sportflics
Sportflics, we hardly knew ye. Although you have to admit, a couple of pricey cards with full color backs in a foil pack in 1986 was decades ahead of it's time. Talk about your Hot Tub Time Machine. And of course Sportflics became Score and look at what they did for the hobby. No, I'm serious. I miss Score. Game #7 6) 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights #312 Joba Chamberlain "Astros"
Believe it or not, there once was an innocent time when Joba the Hutt was the next coming. And he was a Yankee no less. Topps immediately went into cash money mode and saw fit to release not just this gimmick but this one as well. Why the Astros? Maybe Topps wanted to fool Yankees fans into thinking Joba pulled a Clemens.
vs 11) 1982 Fleer #438 "All" Hrabosky 5' 1"
In a set riddled with error cards the Al Hrabosky was certainly not in the category of this but was close. So Fleer fixes his name, then forgets The Mad Hungarian is definitely not 5'1" if he's an inch. The result, three different variations of the Hrabosky card with the one pictured above being the rarest.
Game #8 3) "Franken-Cuts"
Just when everyone started wetting their pants over unlicensed Razor cut sigs of dead presidents and ballplayers we found out the whole thing was a scam and get this, the autograph verification services we getting a "cut", literally. Now you couldn't sell one these frauds to someone's grandmother for a dime. Thank goodness this whole mess was exposed.
vs 14) 1999 Topps #220 & #461 Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa
To celebrate Big Mac and Sammy Soser steroiding their way toward one of baseball most hallowed numbers Topps released 70 and 66 different variations of their respective base cards. Seriously? I hope to kingdom come no one beats Barry.
Remember, you are picking the WORST gimmick in each game.
Game #1 8) 1996 Finest (Fractured Base Sets)
As if high end wasn't expensive or difficult enough.
vs 9) 1998 Pacific Aurora Cubes
One of many reasons why Pacific no longer makes cards.
Game #2 1) 2008 Topps Heritage #440 "Jon" Smoltz
Just when everyone was starting to really enjoy Heritage, Topps upped the ante by creating gimmicked super short printed "error" cards, or more accurately, let's misspell a popular player's name, or put the wrong team on his card, print just enough for people to notice and watch eBay burn up with obsessive set completists. Sane collectors ignored these cynical money grabs by Topps.
vs 16) 1995 Topps D3
Topps' foray into "three dimensional" cards give collectors headaches in more ways than one.
5) 1933 Goudey #106 Napoleon Lajoie
Whether by accident or design, the Nap Lajoie card became one of the scarcest and most sought after in collecting history. Some claim Goudey omitted the star from it's set as a gimmick to get youngsters to buy more packs. Goudey insisted it was a honest mistake. Either way, the only people lucky enough to find that darn Nap were those persistent enough to send a letter of complaint to Goudey and those fortunate few would finally receive that magical card #106. Unclaimed Naps were destroyed at the factory. Today that same card fetches in the neighborhood of $30,000 at auction.
vs 12) 2001 Sweet Spot #JIS Ichiro "Game-Used" Jersey
Ichiro cards were red hot in 2001 and if you thought this was a real regular season game used jersey I have some real estate in Hong Kong to sell you. It's from '99 spring training. Don't worry. Upper Deck's lips are sealed.
Game #4 4) 2006 Topps #297 Alex Gordon
Few cards in the history of collecting have pissed off more collectors harder for longer then the 2006 Topps Alex Gordon. Legend has it that the card was hastily pulled/destroyed when Topps was advised that the card voided MLB's new rookie card rules and Topps could possibly lose it's license. A few had already entered the marketplace and a feeding frenzy ensued led by none other than celebrity collector Keith Olbermann who under different usernames began mortgaging his mansion to buy up whatever Gordons popped up on eBay. When the orgy ended some claimed Olbermann spent over $35,000 for seven Gordons. Now let me get this straight. MLB adopted strict new rookie card rules and limited the number of card releases to clean up the hobby. And this was the result? Fantastic. All the ill will Topps engendered to the hobby did not stop them from unleashing a gimmick onslaught in the years that followed. Many cynics believe that the Gordon was done on purpose to encourage sales of '06 Topps but so many loyal set collectors were turned off it had the opposite effect with many quitting for good. How's that for irony/karma? Oh and the Yo Mamma Gordon in '10 Topps has not exactly patched things over with some hobbyists.
vs 13) 1995-99 Finest peel-off protectors.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Cards were meant to be held and your hand and savored. Shrink wrap is for frozen meat.
You have until Wednesday at Midnight (ET) to vote.
I am proud to announce that my blog will be hosting one of the brackets in the first ever Tournament of Gimmicks. The first round will begin Monday. This should be awesome and I have a lot of fun ideas planned. Stay tuned...
Inserts 1 News Flashback (1:12 packs) Berlin Wall 1 New Age Performers (1:15 packs) J.Mauer 1 Then and Now (1:15 packs) L.Aparicio, J.Ellsbury
The Review Without any question the highlight of the hobby season for me is the annual release of Topps Heritage. I know that many other collectors feel the same way about Allen & Ginter but for me I can't get nearly as excited for A&G as I do every year for Heritage. I think it's because more than any other product on the market today these cards remind me of what baseball cards used to be. Yes, it would be even better if the gum wasn't wrapped, wasn't made in China, if the packs were wrapped in wax instead of plastic, if it was one series of 792 cards, if there were no inserts, no autogamers, no serial numbered chrome thingys, if they were closer to 99 cents rather than $2.50 a pack, but this is as close as we will probably get in an era where Topps is enslaved to Joe Collectors.
I am particularly pleased with this year's set. I was really worried when it came time to mimic the 1961 set because I feared Topps would be compelled to meddle with the boring design. Instead these cards are plain and simple, just like their '61 counterparts. Many collectors have complained that this design is just too plain boring but I absolutely savor it's simplicity. Topps deserves credit for remaining faithful. Better yet, the entire base set is printed on gray cardboard stock.
One thing I'm not too crazy about is that the photos have been tinkered with a tad too much in Topps' compulsive zeal to approximate 60's era cards. It seems that they've really softened the backgrounds on a lot of the photos and tried to embellish the players. Rather than look like 1961 baseball card photos they look really "touched up." But that's a minor quibble in a set that in all other respects is very pleasing to the eye. Like always, the many subsets mimic similar ones found in the original '61 edition. One feature that I think is really neat is that the league leader cards feature old timey head shots on the front and the backs list the past fifty years of league leaders in each category. Every back is worth at least five minutes of wonderment at names you heard of and many one year wonders you haven't while you recall summers long past.
The team cards are here again but the ridiculous backs with "every player's stats against every team in the league in agate size type" are so impossible to read that Topps really should have just put something else on them. I'm guessing the '61's had something to do with this but I doubt seriously they had to list stats against 18 teams on the back.It's also a bit disappointing that with the rookie cards, Topps was forced to use that ridiculous Official Rookie Logo AND the '61 Star Rookie logo. MLB really needs to loosen up. Especially now that there is only one licensed manufacturer. On a positive note, the return of those gorgeous early sixties Topps Rookie Cups are more than a welcome sight.And did I mention that I absolutely love the MVP, All-Star, Baseball Thrills and checklist cards?With all the pluses and minuses considered I have to give Topps an overall thumbs up. I can't wait to break another blaster.