Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year's Baseball Card Questions from Dinged Corners

Grad school hasn't even started back yet and the Dinged Corners crew has me doing homework. They have requested some answers to questions and I aim to oblige.

10 questions and 10 answers. (I hope these are short answer, not essay questions!)

1. If I didn't collect baseball cards, I would collect COMIC BOOKS. I am already a reader. I currently read Justice Society of America, Fables, and whatever my brother let's me borrow.
2. My baseball hero that you may not know is ERIC DAVIS. I have mentioned him several times but he was not a Met and isn't named Tito so you may have missed it. I always thought he was the best in the game. He had all the tools AND a bad back. He did recover from cancer and have a few nice years late in his career. He should have been the first to 40/40.
3. Every New Year, I resolve to RE-RE-RE-ORGANIZE my collection. This will be the third time in the last two years I have reorganized. Who knows, maybe there will be more cards to be saved.

4. If I could spend a day with one person from baseball history, it would be JACKIE ROBINSON. Why wouldn't it be Jackie? I would want to learn something if I got the chance to talk to someone from history! There is no doubt that I would learn something from Jackie Robinson.
5. My favorite kind of dog is a PAPILLION. Here's my papillion, Dobby.6. My favorite current baseball is DAVID WRIGHT. My favorites from the past are Christy Mathewson, Tito Fuentes, and Eric Davis.

7. My favorite team is the NEW YORK METS! K.Rod and Putz to the rescue!

8. My favorite baseball movie is FIELD OF DREAMS. The movie is pure baseball magic. The book is good too. Bull Durham, The Sandlot, and The Rookie are the runners-up.
9. My favorite baseball book is THE NEW BILL JAMES HISTORICAL BASEBALL ABSTRACT. Great stories and great arguments about the best at each position. And stats galore! Moneyball by Michael Lewis and Is This a Great Game or What? by Tim Kirkjian are also really fun reads.

10. What is your favorite card? T-206 CHRISTY MATHEWSON

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Custom Christmas Gift for my Mom

I have made several custom cards in the past, one including tricky Nixon and the other of the famous Lucy of Dinged Corners.

I never tried to print these out until the idea for my Mom's Christmas gift popped into my head. She is a loyal Stats-on-the-Back reader and a lover of all things family! My gift was a wax pack of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter's Mosley Edition. (Feel free the click on each image to check out the Stats on the Back!)

Here's the wrapper image. (Only 4 cards to a pack. Must be a super-high end product!)


Card #1 - My Dad (back in his coaching days)

My wife, the real photoshopper of the house, would like you all to know that she removed an umpire's head on the right of this image and replaced it with a shadow. My dad coached baseball for many years. (For all you UNC or USFL fans out there, he convinced Kelvin Bryant to play baseball in high school.)

Card #2 - My Brother (in the on-deck circle)

My brother was the king of all our wiffle ball games when we were kids. I was no slouch myself.

Card #3 - Me (no good little league photos and I was better at tennis!)

Just to explain the German reference, I was pummeled by a German exchange student named Dirk Schimmel. Earlier in the year, he scored a goal from midfield against our soccer team.

Card #4 - My Niece (the snacks are mightier than the goals!)

The uniforms and the snacks are what she loves most about soccer. I agree, uniforms and snacks are WAY more fun than soccer!

I actually printed these out and mounted them on those thick decoy cards. I must admit, they look pretty good.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to my Mom and everyone out there!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting Back to the Basics

I still have a few more packages to send out in the big Save the Cards giveaway. Sorry for the delay. And when that's done, I'll let everyone know what's left. It's been tons of fun. I tried to include lots of cards that were not headed for the dump so that the packages would be a little better. I know Mike Scott is happy. He apologizes for that cranberry sauce comment earlier.

But before all this card shipping, this blog was a simpler blog. I trot out some random card from my collection, make a mildly amusing comment or two, then share some knowledge about the player on the card. With this post, Stats on the Back reclaims it's roots.

1997 Collector's Choice Kevin Mitchell
I don't have many serial numbered cards and this isn't one of them. But it sure looks like one. 653/863!!!!! It seems as though the industrial, British (steering wheel on right side) golf cart is the thing that is serial numbered. 863 is a big number for cards these days. What about for these carts? Is there a golf cart super-collector out there who has the prototype signed by the designer and the guy who screwed in the last lug nut. Clearly this cart is game-used.

That part above was the mildly amusing part if you didn't notice. (which is likely) Now for the informative part:Kevin Mitchell was originally a third baseman for the Mets. He was traded for Kevin McReynolds and got huge, both physically and statistically. He won an MVP with Giants in 1989 (47 HR, 125 RBI, and a 192 OPS+).

Stories that may or may not be true about Kevin Mitchell:
  1. allegedly fought with fellow rookie Darryl Strawberry during a pick-up basketball game in 1982 shortly after both were drafted and signed by the New York Mets
  2. during an argument with his then live-in girlfriend, Mitchell decapitated her cat
  3. when asked why he never wore a cup, Mitchell responded, "I couldn’t find one big enough for my junk
  4. as manager of the Sonoma County Crushers in 2000, he was suspended for nine games after punching the opposing team's owner in the mouth during a brawl
  5. once strained a muscle while vomiting
  6. broke a tooth eating a frozen chocolate donut that he had put in the microwave too long and had hardened
What I am sure about Mitchell is that he was really good for 10 years and that bare-handed catch in left field was awesome! I would go so far as to say "David Wright bare-handed catch" awesome!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blog Bat Around II: The Ones I Love the Most

Stats on the Back presents:

Blog Bat Around II: The Ones I Love the Most

Starring:
1987 Topps Pat SheridanI carried this card around in my wallet for probably 10 years. My buddy, Justin, claims to still have his on his person every day. You see, we were members of the Pat Sheridan fan club. Membership activities included sending Pat birthday cards and carrying a Sheridan card in our wallets. Pat Sheridan was a journeyman, regular guy who batted around .250, with no elite skills. Why wouldn't you love this card. This one is worth no more than a nickel, but the one that lived in my wallet is worth even less.

1964 Topps Casey Stengel
This is my favorite Mets card. Casey is lounging in his Mets gear, a little more aged by his awful Mets team. Stengel's Mets weren't quite like his Yankees. I got this card at Paper Heroes in Knightdale, NC many years ago. I probably paid $4. I would occasionally buy an old card but would never pay more than a few dollars for it. I was a set collector then. Now, this card is first on my manager's page in my 1 of every Met collection.

1976 Topps Tito FuentesI featured this card in my 1976 Topps tribute. It is the card that prompted my first all-out player collection. It will be fun tracking down all of his cards. I already have a RC and a certified autograph! Tito had some major personality and it showed on his cards.

1972 Topps Willie MaysYou used to hear stories about people finding great collectibles at yard sales, at flea markets, and in old, dusty attics. That never seems to happen anymore. This card is the one time it happened to me. I was at a small flea market, who-knows-where, with my mom. I saw a small stack of cards in a glass case. The owner told me they were $0.25 each. I searched through the stack and chose a 1961 Topps Whitey Herzog, a Ron Santo RC, and this Willie Mays.
Best purchase ever!!!


T-206 Christy MathewsonI also featured this one back when I was just a wee blogger. It's my best of the best. I paid $35 for it. It is in pretty bad shape but it's an original Hall of Famer. I remember convincing Billy of Tom's Coins and Antiques in New Bern, NC, to throw in a free snap case with my purchase. It may be the most I have ever spent on one card. I wouldn't trade it or sell it. It is my favorite card.

There you have it. Stats-on-the-back would like to thank Gellman at Bleeped Out Sportscards for this blogacious event. Last time I gave myself a C+, but the Mathewson alone is worth a B-!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bat Around: You mean, other than a Trasher of Cards

What kind of collector WAS I?
When I was younger, I was a set collector/card amasser. I collected at least 1 set per year (85 Donruss, 87 Topps, 87 Donruss, 88 Topps, 88 Donruss, 89 Topps, 90 Topps, 90 Score, 90 Donruss, 91 Topps, 91 Fleer). I bought all the the other major sets, the traded sets, the little Fleer sets from all the drug stores, and every super-glossy set that Topps made and sold through K-Mart, Woolworths, etc. Upper Deck came along and changed the game. A fifth major set? After that, the market exploded and there was 20 sets per year. I lost interest because I couldn't collect how I had in the past. I couldn't afford to buy everything. (and girls may have had something to do with the losing interest.) I kept everything. My closet was full of baseball cards. Of the sets I collected, I kept only 87 Topps and 87 Donruss. I have since collected my birth year set of 1976 Topps.What kind of collector AM I?
Today, I threaten to throw cards away! Actually, I have figured out that I don't need 100 Kal Daniels cards. I liked Kal Daniels, he was probably on a few early fantasy teams. But 1 card of his is probably enough. I had sets that had little to no meaning to me. I scoured the STATS ON THE BACK of every card and that's why I love math, but enough is enough. I love baseball and baseball cards but I needed to reduce to enjoy what I had.
NOW, I am a sampler/specific collection collector. Here are my current hobby priorities in no particular order:
  • collect 1 of every Met (Mets uniforms are preferred but any will do)
  • collect 1 of every player who has been on my simulation baseball league team. We have played for 8 seasons. (I try to get a game-used card of players that stay on my team for several years)
  • collect or buy a set if I really like it. (I collected last years UD Masterpieces and I bought the Trading Card History set this year)
  • buy random retail wax for fun (mojo or no, it's in my blood)
  • open new wax with my brother (we have split a box of 08 A&G and 08 Masterpieces)
  • collect 1 of every HOFer. (The executives are tough but I haven't really persued then yet)
  • collect every non 1 of 1 Tito Fuentes card (2 exciting additions as of late. Will post about this soon)
  • continue to reduce my collection, more cards in albums, and more card giveaways.
  • 2 blog posts per week
  • trade more (including cards I like and only have 1 of)
What can the card companies do for ME?
That's a tough one. I don't buy what I don't want and I am not a prospector. I think the card companies put out crappy products that cost too much but I have ultimate control over my collecting dollar. Give me some good-looking cards that are fun to look at and read and I'm happy. I would occasionally like to get a shiny card or one that honors Tom Seaver or particularly vintagey ones.

Thanks to the Uncensored One for the assignment. I'll give myself a C+, but I've got some great excuses!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

1981 Fleer Team by Team Tribute: Dodgers

The 1980 Dodgers,led by Garvey, Cey, Dusty, and an aged Reggie Smith, were a year away from their first World Series since 1965. LA is all about style. Here are a few examples:

Steve HoweSteve is wearing a grey and blue ensemble. Notice the handsome belt and matching jacket and hat. He is ready for a day at the ballpark or a night on the town.

Like many fashion models, Howe struggled with addiction. He was banned from baseball for substance abuse in 1992. Like Fergie before him, he was reinstated. His career was an up and down trainwreck until he retired in 1996. Not so much with baseball, but with his off the field demons. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1980.
Robert CastilloRobert is so cool, he can balance a baseball on his finger. Or Jay Johnstone pranked him with he old superglue-on-the-baseball trick. Either way, Castillo doesn't stop at putting his batting gloves in his back pocket, he stores his entire warmup jacket there. Talk about progressive style!

Not much true stuff to say about Castillo. He went 4-9 with 2 double in 1981. And his back pocket is like a clown car.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1981 Fleer Team by Team Tribute: Yankees

It's hard to remember when the Yankees were not good. In 1980 they won the AL East. In 1982, they won the AL Pennant. Then they failed to make the playoffs for 12 years in a row before 14 straight in the positive direction. Will 2008 mean another streak for the Yankees? Probably not. Here are a few Yankees from 1980.

Ron Davis
Ron doesn't look comfortable with that bat in his hands. In fact, he was 0-6 in his career. Never got on base. The odd thing is, he probably raked in High School and College. It amazing how major league pitchers look so bad hitting when most were great hitters when they were younger.
Despite his batting stats and stance, Davis enjoyed a really nice and unusual rookie season. His record was 14-2 in 1979. He never started a game yet won 14 decisions. The Yankees picked him up from the Cubs as a player to be named later for pitcher Ken Holtzman. Davis owns too interesting records: Yankee team record for Most Consecutive K's in a game (8) and Major League record Most Blown Saves in a season (14).

Before New Edition and before Whitney:
Bobby BrownBobby wonders how bad-hitting, Ron Davis got his hands on his bat. He knew then and there that his career in baseball was coming to an end. He would have to get younger, join a boy band, and marry a diva.

Like Davis, Bobby Brown was also a player to be named later. His name is not actually Bobby. It's Rogers Lee Brown.

Mike Griffin
You know those Topps factory sets you can buy at Target that contain bits of Mickey Mantle's wardrobe. You can see the plaid shirt worn by the Mick in the background of this Mike Griffin card. I wonder what Mantle was doing at the park that day.

Mike Griffin makes it a perfect 3 for 3 in players to be named later. He was the player named later 3 times in 2 years.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1981 Fleer Team by Team Tribute: Astros

Hey Astros! What do you think of those sunshiny uniforms?

Joe Niekro"Errrrrr... I don't think I'm supposed to answer that. I mean, we are the Astros, right? And not the Candy Corns? Nolan doesn't seem to mind wearing it so why should I complain? I did have a better year than Ryan in 1980. What was the question?"
Niekro won 221 games in his knuckle-filled career. He is best known for the nail file incident and for being the brother of fellow knuckler, Phil niekro. Joe hit his only career homerun off of his brother in 1976.

Hey Jeff Leonard! Same question. What about those unis?

Jeff Leonard

"I'm gonna tell you a little secret. Lean in close. I really don't care because in 9 years, I'm going to hit 24 homeruns and each time run the bases with "one flap down." Little leaguers and wiffle ballers everywhere will hold one arm still in honor of me...and Bob Dole!"

Leonard was Kevin Bass with a little more style.

Factoid: The Astros owner named the Dome, then the team. Therefore their new name should be the Juice Boxes!

Monday, October 20, 2008

1981 Fleer Team by Team Tribute: Royals

The Royals lost to the Phils in the 1980 World Series. They would win it all in 1985 and then return to expansion team status, where they remain today.

Hal McRae

McRae's position is listed as "Double Threat." The card back tells us that he played OF and DH. Actually he only played 9 games in left in 1980 so there must be some other reason for the moniker. Maybe it foreshadowed his ability to manage as well as play baseball. He once bloodied a reporter during an office phone-throwing tirade. I would be angry too if my only chance to manage was with the Royals and the early Tampa Bay Rays. Whatever they meant, McRae was a good player for a lot of years.

Jeff Twitty

Twitty only played 1 season in the Major Leagues. He was unremarkable. I noticed that there were stands beyond the outfield wall and I wondered in what stadium Twitty was posing. Luckily Rich Gale was included in the 1981 Fleer set.

Rich Gale

Exhibition Stadium! Thanks Fleer, for answering my question. Exhibition Stadium, known as "The Mistake by the Lake," was originally the home of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. It has since been demolished and replaced with a soccer facility. Gale pitched in the Major Leagues, in Japan, and in the Senior Pro Baseball League. His last baseball job was AAA Isotopes Pitching Coach.

Little Known 1980 Royals Trivia: Ken Phelps, slugger extroidinaire, made his Major League debut for the Royals in 1980. He went 0-4 in 3 games. He would hit 123 career HRs while never amassing 400 ABs in a single season.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

1981 Fleer Team by Team Tribute: Phillies

1981 Fleer was my oldest complete set until a few years ago. Lately, I have gotten rid of most of my 80's and 90's sets. 1981 may be the next to go. Fleer made a comeback in 1981 with their first baseball card product since the 60's. Cards were arranged by team, in order of record. So without further ado, here are the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Bake McBride

Bake had the cool nickname, "Shake 'n' Bake", and the skill to get that tiny Phillies batting helmet on his afro-puffed head. McBride was the ROY in 1974.
Fleer chose to show off the almost meaningless stat of Batting Average in the circle in the top right corner. Bake batted .300 in 1980. He had a pretty good 11 seasons, batting .299 and stealing more than a few bases per year.

Greg Gross
Check out the crowd in the Padres dugout. Those must be Topps photographers, worried that the new kids,Donruss and Fleer, would get all the good action shots of a young Padres' shortstop named Ozzie!

Greg Gross actually finished 2nd behind McBride in ROY voting in 1974 while playing for the Stros. Does anybody remember when Greg Gross and Glenn Wilson were the same bearded, aviator glasses-wearing people? Completely indistinguishable.

Next Up: 1980 Runner-Up KC Royals

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dave Gallagher

Who says the Mets aren't tough enough to get into the playoffs?

Well . . . me.

But they would be tough enough if they brought back
DAVE GALLAGHER:
FOREARM SHIVERer
Why do they call it a forearm shiver? Ask that catcher who shakes every time a player rounds third base.

Dave was arguably the best AL Rookie in 1988 with the Chicago White Sox but was beat out by Walt Weiss, who won the award with a HOT end-of-1987 and a below average 1988. Gallagher was never better than he was in 1988. Nowadays, he runs Dave Gallagher's All-American Baseball Academy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Best Dual Player Card EVER.

Their first names are STEVE & CARLTON. (Steve Carlton is on the left.)

AND

Their last names are CARLTON & FISK. (Carlton Fisk is on the right.)
How cool is that?

The answer is VERY. And check out the the unis. Steve is workin' the powder blues while Carlton is stylin' with the sweet collared jersey. Could this be the epitome of the dual player card?

This post is brought to you by my 1981 Fleer set. which I bought instead of the 1982 set way back when.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Some Mets Positivity

There is nothing like more Mookie to make you feel better about the Mets.Isn't he playing a little deep?

As a Met, Mookie respects the other team's players and their abilities.

This message has been brought to you by the 2008 Don't Hate the Mets Campaign.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Goodbye Shea (and Yankee Stadium, too)!

Two weeks ago, I took a trip to the big city to bid farewell to the home ballparks of my Mets and that other team in New York. Here we are, sans my brother (he took the picture and is prohibited from appearing here until he contributes to this blog), at old Shea and new Citi Field. We were excited about the upcoming 7 hours of Mets v. Braves BASEBALLDAMONIUM!!!!!!!
The Mets wall of retired numbers is not the most impressive such wall in New York:SHEA - Lawyer who helped bring Senior Circuit baseball back to New York. Ehh!
37 - Casey Stengel - First manager of the Mets, Great manager for the Yankees. Not as Ehh!
14 - Gil Hodges - Played his final 2 seasons w/ the Mets, Managed the Mets to their first World Series in 1969. Warmer!
41 - Tom Seaver - The only great Met until Piazza. YES!
42 - Jackie - Brooklyn Great. The Mets tanked it last year because their is no more room in Right Field for any new banners. Surely there will be room for more at Citi Field. Just maybe not for a 2008 banner. GO METS!
Proof that the Mets won 2 World Series: The 1986 World Series Champions Trophy. You can even see the 1969 version right behind it. In the same display case, there was a bust of Mookie Wilson. (Remember when there was a Mookie joke in every David Letterman Top-10 List. Too bad Joey Buttafuoco and Jeff Gillooly ruined Mookie's time in the limelight.)
The homerun apple is tiny. I almost picked it up and ate it but there is little to no running water at Shea so I couldn't rinse it off.

How can you make a bad stadium from the 60's less classy?Put neon-lighted baseball players on it.

Soon, Shea will be put to bed and the Mets will enjoy the friendly confines of Citi-Field:WOW! That is a gorgeous stadium. It is going to be fantastic. Check out how much it looks like Ebbets Field.Johan pitched a great game 1, only to have the bullpen give away the game. The bats were no help either as the Braves won game 3-2. The bats woke up for game 2 as Wright, Reyes, and Beltran homered while rookie pitcher Niese picked up his first career win. Mets win 5-0.

A whole day of baseball wore us out. We trudged down the back-and-forth walkways of Shea, got on a bus (which I believe actually picked ALL the fans at once), and headed to the hotel for the night. My friend David held Snorefest 2008 in the bed next to mine so sleep was fitful at best. (On a positive note, his wife now only needs 2 more miracles to be considered for Sainthood. She must be a good woman.)

The next day we were off to the House that Ruth Built, or some 70's abomination of the Babe's old crib.
They let about 7 people into monument park 3 hours before the game. It gave us non-snoring, non-Yankee fans even more reason to hate the Blankees.I must admit that their wall of retired numbers is ridiculous: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle... Casey Stengel is there too. He managed the Yanks to 7 World Series Titles. Bernie isn't on the wall but they haven't used his number since he "retired" a few years back.ARod hit a grand slam after the first 3 Yankees reached base to lead off the game. Jeter tied Gehrig's record for most hits in Stadium history. He had 9 hits in 3 games to tie the record just for us. The Yankees won the battle but the Rays are winning the War! (Don't you hate when people liken sports to war? Me too.)New Yankee Stadium looks good too. Not as good as Citi Field but I look forward to seeing a new version of the original stadium. I can only assume the New York Post will christen this one "The House that Cap'n Jetes Built."

The trip was loads of fun. The five of us often broke the New York City rule of not talking on the subway but managed to avoid buying any bootleg dvd's or knock-off handbags. This year I'll be saving up the pennies for a trip to Europe next summer. I might be up for a day trip to see the Nationals and their new park. (The only stadium worse than Shea or Yankee Stadium is RFK!)

I'll leave you with a bit of hilarity from the streets of New York City. This little shop, which opened later that day, was called "99 cent Dreams." A dollar store in New York? Nope! Check out the small print: "Everything $1 and Up." Even dreams cost more these days!

I 'll be dreaming of a 2008 playoffs that includes my favorite team, the Mets.