Thursday, December 9, 2010

Steve Garvey as would-be suitor for Dodgers

It's been a busy news week so far for Steve Garvey.

This past Monday, news came out that I didn't want to hear in which Steve didn't garner enough votes from the Expansion Era Veteran's Committee to be inducted into the Hall of Fame which means I'm waiting at least three more years for the next Expansion Era Veteran's Committee vote to happen (the veteran's committee votes on the Golden Era and the Pre-Integration Era the next two years). Interestingly, the Baseball Hall of Fame didn't even announce how many votes Steve received other than to say it was less that eight.

On Tuesday, the LA Times reports that Steve Garvey has an investment group that wants to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers (should they become available from the fall out of the McCourts' divorce). Interestingly, Steve notes in the article that he'd take the role of managing general partner if a purchase were to happen.

Finally, I'd note two interesting eBay auctions being offered by the Topps Vault. One that's closed and one that's still live.

The first is the final negative for Steve's 1971 Topps Rookie Card.

The second is the final negative for Steve's 1972 Topps high number card.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Steve Garvey inches closer to the Hall of Fame!!!

I noticed something today on the Inside the Dodgers blog found on that surprised me. Instead of writing a whole post with my opinions about it. I've provided a link as well as copied the story below.

I will say though that I'm happy that the Hall of Fame has established an Expansion Era Committee that is dealing with the under-representation of 1970's - 80's players in the Hall. In my opinion, this era has been overlooked because players statistics 1) look small when compared to the steriod era and 2) were unfairly punished by voters who tend to apply modern methods of evaluating players (sabermetrics) even though the era didn't focus on some of these statistics (i.e. Walks).

To make things even better, the sixteen member committee established isn't going to include Joe Morgan since Johnny Bench gets the token 1970's Cincinnati Reds spot. (though the members of the media they've included scare me outside of Ross Newhan).

With that said, it's crazy to think that he might get inducted NEXT YEAR! Honestly, I'm an advocate of allowing more players into the Hall of Fame as it is more about the history and greatness of the game than some exclusive fraternity. In my opinion, all twelve of the candidates on the list made a major impact during their time.

Below is the article

Expansion Era Committee to Consider 12 Candidates for Hall of Fame Election at December's Winter Meetings

-- Ballot Features Eight Long-Retired Players, Three Executives and One Manager for Consideration of Careers Whose Greatest Impact Felt from 1973-present --

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) - Eight former major league players, three executives and one former manager comprise the 12-name Expansion Era ballot for the Committee to Consider Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players for Hall of Fame election, to be reviewed and voted upon at the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings by a 16-member electorate. The results of the Expansion Era vote will be announced on December 6 at 10 a.m. ET from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Every candidate receiving votes on 75 percent of the 16 ballots cast will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend 2011, July 22-25 in Cooperstown, New York.

The 12 individuals who will be considered by the Expansion Era Committee in December for Hall of Fame Induction in 2011: Former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner. Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased; all other candidates are living.

The 16-member electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).

The Expansion Era ballot was devised by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) appointed Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran members: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Moss Klein (formerly Newark Star-Ledger); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Ken Nigro, (formerly Baltimore Sun); Jack O'Connell (BBWAA secretary/treasurer); Nick Peters (formerly Sacramento Bee); Tracy Ringolsby (FSN Rocky Mountain); and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register).

The Expansion Era covers candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the 1973-present time frame. Eligible candidates include: Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball's ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons (those whose last major league season was no later than 1989); Managers and Umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years, with any candidates who are 65 years or older first-eligible six months from the date of the election following retirement; and Executives who have been retired for at least five years, with any active executives 65 or older eligible for consideration.

The Expansion Era Committee is the first of a three-year cycle of consideration for Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players by Era, as opposed to the previous consideration by classification, with changes approved and announced by the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors at the conclusion of Hall of Fame Weekend 2010.

The changes maintain the high standards for earning election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with focus on three eras: Expansion (1973-present); Golden (1947-1972) and Pre-Integration (1871-1946), as opposed to the previous four Committees on Baseball Veterans, which considered the four categories of candidates. Three separate electorates will now consider by era a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players on an annual basis, with Golden Era Committee candidates to be considered at the 2011 Winter Meetings for Induction in 2012 and the Pre-Integration Era Committee candidates to be considered at the 2012 Winter Meetings for Induction in 2013. The Expansion Era Committee will next meet at the 2013 Winter Meetings for Induction in 2014.

"The procedures to consider the candidacies of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players have continually evolved since the first Hall of Fame election in 1936," said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election."

The 12 candidates for Expansion Era consideration:

Vida Blue spent 17 seasons pitching in the majors with the Oakland A's, Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, compiling a 209-161 record, with a 3.27 ERA in 502 major league games/473 starts. Blue, the 1971 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, was named to six All-Star teams, and won at least 18 games five times in his career.

Dave Concepcion spent 19 seasons as the Cincinnati Reds shortstop, compiling a .267 average with 2,326 hits, 321 stolen bases and two Silver Slugger Awards, along five Gold Glove Awards and nine All-Star Game selections.

Steve Garvey compiled a .294 career average over 19 major league seasons with the Dodgers and Padres, amassing 2,599 hits, 272 home runs, 1,308 RBI and 10 All-Star Game selections. He hit .338 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 11 postseason series, was named the 1978 and 1984 NLCS MVP and won the 1981 Roberto Clemente Award. Garvey won four Gold Glove Awards and played in an N.L. record 1,207 straight games.

Pat Gillick spent 27 years as the general manager for the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, winning at every stop along the way, with his teams earning nine post-season berths and three World Series championships. In his 27 years as GM, his teams finished with a winning record 20 times.

Ron Guidry pitched 14 seasons for the New York Yankees, compiling a 170-91 record, a 3.29 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.81-to-1. In 10 postseason starts, Guidry was 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA. Four times he won 18 games or more in a season, including a Cy Young Award winning 1978 season with a 25-3, 1.74 era record.

Tommy John pitched 26 seasons for the Indians, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels and A's, finishing his career after the 1989 season with a record of 288-231 and 3.34 ERA. His 700 career starts rank eighth on the all-time list and his 4,710.1 innings rank 20th all-time.

Billy Martin spent 16 seasons 1969, 1971-83, 1985, 1988) managing the Twins, Tigers, Rangers, Yankees (five different stints) and A's, compiling a 1,253-1015 record (.552). Martin's teams finished in first place five times, winning two American League pennants and one World Series with 1977 Yankees.

Marvin Miller was elected as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966 and quickly turned the union into a powerhouse. Within a decade, Miller had secured free agency for the players. By the time he retired in 1982, the average player salary was approximately 10 times what it was when he took over.

Al Oliver compiled 2,743 hits in 18 seasons with the Pirates, Rangers, Expos, Giants, Phillies, Dodgers and Blue Jays. He finished with a .303 career average, 529 doubles and 1,326 RBI, recording 10 seasons with a .300 or higher average, including nine straight from 1976-1984.

Ted Simmons played for 21 seasons, totaling a .285 batting average, 2,472 hits, 483 doubles, 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI for the Cardinals, Brewers and Braves. An 8-time All-Star, he garnered MVP votes six times in his career.

Rusty Staub totaled 2,716 hits in a 23-year major league career, with a .279 average, 292 home runs, 1,466 RBI and six All-Star Game selections. He appeared in at least 150 games in 12 seasons, and his 2,951 big league games rank No. 12 on the all-time list.

George Steinbrenner guided the New York Yankees franchise as principal owner from purchasing the team in 1973 to his death in 2010, with his teams winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Thomas Weiner Card Company?

1981 is considered by many to be the year when baseball cards went from being a hobby to an industry. The main reason for this is that Topps' monopoly had come to an end thanks to the lankmark court case filed by Fleer. The end result was that collectors were given three options to collect in Topps, Fleer and Donruss. Heading into the 1981 baseball season, I had been anticipating Fleer's entry into the baseball card market for a few years as the court case was covered regularly in Sports Collectors Digest. Thanks to the heavy lifting done by the Fleer, a new and relatively unknown trading card manufacturer entered the baseball card market as well.

Donruss started out as a confectionary company in 1954 and was originally known as The Thomas Weiner Company. Somewhere along the way, I'm guessing the owners Donald and Russell Weiner probably figured that their last name was probably causing more harm than good since the products they were selling was targeting towards children. As a result, they changed the company's name to Donruss which was the combined short versions of their own names. Note: Looking back, it's a good thing that it happened. I don't see collectors dropping $50 - $100 in the 1980's for a 1984 Thomas Weiner Don Mattingy Rookie Card.

Below are images of all of Steve Garvey's cards from Donruss' base sets released during 1981-1987.


1981 Donruss #56 (front)
Here's my review of Donruss' initial effort in 1981

  • Release comes off as rushed as almost the entire set was photographed in Chicago (Commiskey or Wrigley)
  • Over half the cards in the set have one kind of error in it or another (Donruss arguably went out of their way to correct the errors in order to generate revenue)
  • Card stock is poor
  • Printing quality is bad
  • The cutting of the cards is uneven
  • Collation inside a pack is horrible. Often times, the 18 card packs consisted of just two or three teams worth of players.

  • The design was attractive
  • The card backs were inivative and maximized space
  • Multiple cards of star players
  • Their gum tasted the best of the three manufacturers
I've always been curious on how Donruss' product development team produced their 1981 set. For a company that had been around since 1954 and had been producing popular non-sport trading cards (Kiss, Elvis, Monkees, Addams Family...etc) for twenty years, they really shouldn't have had as many mistakes with their initial set as they did. Was it a case where they got their baseball card license at the last minute?

1981 Donruss #56 (back)

The career highlights layout is now used by on their player bios. For what it's worth, Donruss had a corrected (surpassed 21 HR) and error version (surpassed 25 HR) of the 1980 career highlight.

1981 Donruss #176 (front)

This is the second of two Steve Garvey cards in the 1981 Donruss set. It was actually taken in 1980 and at Dodger Stadium since Steve is wearing his home uniform and has the 1980 All-Star Game patch on the left shoulder of his jersey.
1981 Donruss #176 (back)

The back of the second Garvey card in the set is more of a highlight card. Unfortunately, multiple cards of the same player within a set wasn't received as well as Donruss liked and they nixed the idea. In it's place, they created the popular Diamond Kings subset.
1982 Donruss Diamond Kings #3 (front)

Steve was the third card in the inaugural Diamond Kings subset behind two of the most self absorbed players in baseball not named Reggie Jackson in Pete Rose and Gary Carter.

Diamond Kings were originally watercolor paintings created by Dick Perez.

1982 Donruss Diamond Kings #3 (back)

Donruss corrected the card stock issues from the year prior and produced a thicker card in 1982. 
1982 Donruss #84 (front)

The 1982 design was pretty forgetful (though that could be true for all three card companies). This appears to be a shot from Spring Training. I can't tell but I think that's a 1980 All-Star Game patch on his jersey.

1982 Donruss #84 (back)

Donruss revamped their backs in 1982 to include more statistics and condensed the highlights. This design must have been a hit in their corporate office as they chose to do very little updates to their card backs for close to a decade. Not to miss out on an idea, Fleer would do the same thing starting in 1983.
1983 Donruss #488 (front)

1983 Donruss in my opinion is an underrated set. While it looks a lot like their 1982 set, Donruss did a lot to clean up their set quality-wise by improving the quality of their photography as well as creating a second subset that would take the hobby by storm in 1984 in their Rated Rookies. Note: If you're not aware, Greg Brock and Al Chambers were Rated Rookies in 1983 and Donruss noted so on the back of their cards.

1983 Donruss #488 (back)

For much of his time with the Dodgers, Steve lived in Calabasas. It's a suburb in the southwest San Fernando Valley that's part of Los Angeles. Calabasas gets a lot of airplay today because the Kardashians live and film their TV show there (unfortunately, part of being married is watching shows like these which means that I guess I'm not going to be able to sue for $75K like some people). 

I didn't notice until this post that his contract status says, "Became a free agent after the 1982 season". I still remember the Dodgers excuse (in particular Al Campanis' excuse) for letting Steve go as a free agent. It was "It's better to let a player go one year to soon than one year too late". If I remember correctly, Steve actually was willing to take a hometown discount to re-sign with the Dodgers but Peter O'Malley/Al Campanis weren't really interested since future Hall of Famer (sic) Greg Brock had just hit 50 Homers in AAA Albuquerque in 1982 and was set to take over at first base.

Without going on too much of a tangent, I'm as much a fan of what the O'Malley's (especially Walter) did for the Dodgers as anyone. With that said, Peter O'Malley unfortunately had one major character flaw that resulted in my two all-time favorite players leaving the Dodgers when in both cases they didn't have to go.

That flaw was the inability to adapt to changes as the changes were happening. In the first case, the change was Free Agency. Instead of accepting it, he initially tried to low ball the system. It wasn't until he brought in an outside influence in Fred Claire that he was able to figure Free Agency out. In the second case, the change was cable television and the player was Mike Piazza. While sports was growing into a 24/7 industry, Peter O'Malley feel asleep at the wheel while Jerry Buss of the Lakers was starting a sports cable channel in Prime Ticket. The extra money and exposure from Prime Ticket helped the Lakers take over the Los Angeles market and dominate NBA in the 1980's (and arguably since then).

The Dodgers on the other hand were missing out on this opportunity and soon would be taken over by a corporate entity that would establish a local sports cable channel (see page 216) but result in Mike Piazza getting traded in order for it to happen.

That's enough reminiscing for one day.


1984 Donruss #63 (front)

1984 saw Donruss issue their landmark set that's arguably the most popular release of the entire decade (sorry 1989 Upper Deck, 1984 Fleer Update and 1983 Topps). For Steve, it meant a chance to model his self-proclaimed "Taco Bell' uniform.

1984 Donruss #63 (back)

Donruss started another ritual with their card backs in 1984 that continued on for the rest of the decade in numbering the major stars card backs right after the first two subsets (Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies). This was an attempt to replicate Topps' success of issuing cards ending in 5, 0, 50 and 00 for stars and superstars.

1985 Donruss # 307 (front)

Donruss recesistated black borders in 1985 and ended up doing a rather fine job of it. Two years later, they'd try it again but not be as successful. Fortunately for Steve, this is his last Donruss card in the Taco Bell uniforms.

1985 Donruss #307* (back)

* I guess you could say I pulled a Donruss (circa 1981). In my rush to scan the cards for this post, I ended up scanning the 1985 Leaf version instead (as evidenced by the French writing on the back of the card).

1986 Donruss #63 (front)

Judging by the look on Steve's face, reality has probably set in the he's a Padre. At least he can take comfort in the fact that the Padres changed their uniforms.

1986 Donruss #63 (back)
During his playing days as a Padre, Steve lived in La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya). It's known as the Beverly Hills of San Diego and has some of the richest real estate in the country.

1987 Donruss #114 (front)
Steve's shown here wearing the Padres' jersey he made famous during Pete Rose's 4192nd hit on 09/11/1985. It's interesting to see that some of his cards show him wearing one batting glove and others show him wearing two.

1987 Donruss #81* (back)
* I dropped the ball again and scanned the 1987 Leaf version.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Collector to Investor (or so I thought)

I've mentioned in previous posts that I started collecting baseball cards in 1975. Like a lot of collectors that started in the 1970's/80's, I made the natural progression through the years from casual collector to trading card investor (or so I thought). Looking back, I'd say the progression started in 1979 because I discovered three things that's I've listed below.

The first thing I discovered about baseball cards is that they could be valuable. One of the gifts I received for my tenth birthday in 1979 was the first annual Beckett Baseball Price Guide. It showed me that there were people that purchased cards individually and not just by the pack. This to me was amazing because up until now I only viewed them as a way to connect with the players and as a source of entertainment because of my experiences putting them in bicycle spokes as well as flipping them against the wall. The highlight of the book was the color pictures of very rare baseball cards (i.e. T206 Wagner, 1933 Goudey Lajoie...etc) from famed collector Barry Halper.
(The first Beckett price guide had two different covers. One with cards and one with artwork. This is the version I had.)

As I'm sure many of you know, the first Beckett price guide catalogued, price and checklisted many baseball sets. Additionally, there was a little bio on each set as well as a sample photo of a card from the set. I spent lots of time as a kid reading the guide more like an encyclopedia and learning about each set. While there were a few advertisements from dealers in the book, most of them seemed impersonal and most of the dealers appeared to be located on the other side of the country. Fortunately for me, I soon discovered another publication that helped reduce this problem some.

In a previous blog, I've mentioned a childhood friend of mine who created an iron-on T-Shirt of a 1975 Topps Steve Garvey. He opened my eyes up to the publication Sports Collectors Digest (SCD) and that a publication existed solely for buying and selling baseball cards. It was the second thing I discovered about baseball cards in 1979. To me SCD was an amazing piece of reading material that incredibly came out weekly. I actually still have the first issue I remember reading as a kid from July 1979. Among the interesting articles is one on Fleer taking Topps to Federal Court over their trading card monopoly.

(With 30 years hindsight, I wonder if the results of this case caused more harm than good)

I also found an advertisement interesting for 1975 SSPC cards that shows Steve Garvey. Above the advertisement is another one from Ken Goldin of ShopAtHome and Scoreboard fame.

(Unfortunately there were no Elite Dominators, 3200 Box of Commons or Gem Mint 10 McGwires in Ken Goldin's ad)

I've also included a page that had an advertisement for 1979 Topps Baseball Card boxes for $5.00 each.

($5.00 for a box of 1979 Topps Baseball)

As interesting as SCD's were to me, I don't know if I purchased more than a couple items (SSPC Dodgers and Yankees old-timers sets) from dealers because building my collection via mail order wasn't too exciting to me. Fortunately, SCD was able to turn me on to an experience that dominated the 1980's collecting world.

I've mentioned that I grew up in the San Fernando Valley which is suburb of Los Angeles. The San Fernando Valley is actually comprised of numerous cities many of which have been made famous by the media. Some of the more well known cities include Burbank, Encino, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Studio City and Northidge. As a kid, I grew up near Northridge and fortunately for me this turned out to be a major center for collecting as the local Women's Club would rent out their hall once a month to the West Coast Card Club (who happened to advertise their shows in SCD) so that they could put on a card show. People actually meeting at once place to buy and sell trading cards was the third thing I discovered about cards in 1979. I immediately had to go to every show which i did until two things happened 1) the location of the show was moved because they had out grown the Women's Club and 2) I discovered baseball card shops (I'll save that for another post).

Members of the West Coast Card Club were sent out a newsletter every few months that detailed upcoming shows, provided a collector's spotlight and covered general administrative issues.

I still remember attending my first West Coast Card Club. The main thing that stuck in my mind was that a dealer named Pepe told me that he'd pay me a dime each for every 1977 Topps Andre Dawson and 1979 Topps Pedro Guerrero Rookie Card that I found and purchased from other dealers common boxes (and in turn sold to him).

(To some Braves fans, this is announcer Joe Simpson's Rookie Card)

Rookie Cards hadn't really taken off yet in the hobby because most collectors were relatively new and tended to gravitate to vintage cards (in particular Mickey Mantle). After three hours of work, I believe I ended up with around $3.00 from all of my hard work. I'm pretty sure my earnings were spent on 1979 Topps packs as this was the first set I ever completed as a kid.

I'd note that a few days after the show, I acquired a 1977 Dawson from one of my friends as well as quite a few 1979 Topps Pedro Guerreros. Below is the Dawson I received in trade.

Obviously, condition wasn't an issue to me.

(I don't remember if I traded with Ken Vikish or Kevin Kish)

This experience eventually led me to becoming a rookie card prospector/speculator/investor in the 1980's. I can't really say my transition from casual collector to trading card investor paid off in 1980's as I sold my 100 count lots of obscure 1980's rookie cards years ago for pennies on the dollar.

It's probably the reason why I'm once again only a collector and don't worry about the value of my cards.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal - Part Two

A friend of mine and I got into a conversation recently about old baseball cards and some of the ones mentioned (Lou Piniella and Bill Davis' multiple Topps Rookie Star cards) were covered in a post I wrote a while ago. He mentioned two other players that had multiple Topps rookie star cards that I found interesting. Details on each of them are listed below.

The first player is Wally Wolf. Wally was a right-handed pitcher for USC in college and was one of the very first players for the Houston Colt .45's organization when, as a 19 year old, he signed with them in June 1961 (one year prior to the .45's inaugural season). In 1962, he had an amazing season (16-3 W-L, 2.87 ERA, 172 K's in 160 innings) for Durham in Class B (the same as Single A today). This prompted Houston to move Wally all the way up to AAA at the end of 1962. He wasn't ready for the league as he ended up getting bombed (0-6 W-L, 9.93 ERA in 9 games). Regardless, Topps ended up including Wally Wolf on a 1963 Topps Rookie Stars card with Ron Herbel, John Miller and Ron Taylor.

1963 Topps # 208 Wally Wolf and Friends

In 1963, Wally had a strong season in Double-AA San Antonio for Houston (7-3 W-L, 3.13 ERA, 82 K's in 92 IP) but it appears to be abbreviated since he only made twelve starts. That would be Wally's last season with Houston as he was packaged along with Jim Dickson in a trade to the Cincinnati Reds for veteran infielder Eddie Kasko in January 1964.

Wally would spend the next three years in the Reds organization trying to regain the form he showed in 1962 and 1963 in the minors for Houston. Eventually, Cincinnati gave up and let the California Angels select him in the minor league draft in November 1966.

With a new team in a new organization, Wally righted the ship in 1967 while in AA El Paso (11-7 W-L, 3.55 ERA, 134 K's in 142 IP) and appeared destined for the Majors. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned and the Angels converted Wally to a reliever during the 1968 season as a result of a mediocre year split between AA and AAA.

1969 ended up being a great year for the now 27 year old pitcher as a solid season in AA El Paso (9-4 W-L, 3.38 ERA, 88 K's in 96 IP) resulted in a September call up with the Angels. On September 27th, 1969, Wally was called on to get the last out in bottom of the 7th inning against the Oakland Athletics and allowed an RBI single to Joe Rudi. He then proceeded to get Dave Duncan to fly out to Jim Fregosi. The results had little outcome on the game as future Hall of Fame Catfish Hunter was in the process of throwing a three-hit shutout.

Three days later, Wally would have his second and last appearance of 1969 against the Kansas City Royals. In that game, he ended up pitching the last two innings of a game started by Tom Murphy with the Angels. Trailing 5-2, he ended up giving up a three-run home run to Ed Kirkpatrick.

1970 Topps # 74 Wally Wolf and Friend

Topps' took notice of Wally's 1969 season by including him on a 1970 Topps rookie stars card with Greg Washburn. This resulted in what's probably the longest period of time (seven years) a player had been on two of Topps'rookie stars card. To make things even more ironic, Topps used the same photo on the 1970 card that was on the 1963 card.

His 1970 season with the Angels lasted all of four games. After that, he never reached the majors again and he soon retired. Wally's final career numbers were: 0-0 W-L, 7.04 ERA, 7 K's in 7 2/3 IP.  Topps never produced another card of Wally outside of those two Rookie Stars cards.

The second player my friend and I discussed was George Korince. George was a right-handed pitcher out of Ottawa, Canada with the nickname Moose that the Detroit Tigers signed as an amateur free agent in 1965. George quickly moved up the Tigers minor league ladder with two strong seasons in 1965 in Single-A and 1966 in Double-AA (9-8 W-L, 3.76 ERA, 183 K's in 182 IP).

He eventually caught the attention of the folks over at Topps (at least his name did) as they included him on a Tigers Rookie Stars card in their 1967 Topps set along with John Matchick (who went by his middle name Tommy).

1967 Topps # 72 George Korince and Friend (Error)

Unfortunately for George, Topps mistakenly put a photo Ike Brown on his card which is odd because George was Caucasian and Ike is African-American. What's even more interesting is that Ike didn't have his first Topps card until 1970 so this card pre-dated his rookie card by three years!

For whatever reason, this mistake (unlike the Dick Ellsworth/Ken Hubbs fiasco from the year prior) must have embarrased the folks at Topps because they chose to correct the card by issuing another George Korince Rookie Stars in the same 1967 Topps set. This time they included him with Pat Dobson and noted that this is a correct photo of George on the back of the card!

1967 Topps #526 George Korince (front - corrected) 

1967 Topps #526 George Korince (back - corrected)
Note: Topps wants you to know this is actually George in this photo.

In retrospect, I believe this is the only time an error has been acknowledged by a manufactuer and corrected with a different card. Because 1960's cards were produced in multiple series, Topps must have felt that issuing a low numbered correction in a high numbered set would have been confusing to kids.

I'd note that fifteen years later, Donruss would repeat the mistake of confusing persons of different race only this time they put a photo of a Caucasian player (Gary Lucas) on an African-American's card (Juan Eichelberger). When the error was corrected, it was done the more traditional way of updating the photo in later printings.

1982 Donruss # 422 Juan Eichelberger (error that pictures Gary Lucas)

1982 Donruss # 422 Juan Eichelberger (corrected)

Going back to George Korince, he would pitch in nine games for the Tigers in 1967 highlighted by his first and only career win on May 13th against the Boston Red Sox. Topps was impressed enough to include him on another Rookie Stars card in 1968. This time with Fred Lasher

1968 Topps # 447 George Korine and Friend

A successful major league career would never happen for George. He would never appear in another major league game after 1967 and was out of professional baseball by 1970. George's final career numbers were: 1-0 W-L, 4.24 ERA, 13 K's in 17 IP and 11 Games. Ironicaly, the only cards Topps produced of George were these three Rookie Stars cards.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Virtual Card Collection

One of the coolest features that I've seen on blogs is "Cards That Should Have Been". Being a player collector, it's great to see Steve Garvey in mocked up Topps trading cards from 1969 to 1988. This is especially true if he didn't have a card in a particular set/subset in the first place (though Topps I wish you'd make another All-Time Fan Favorites set). The author of one of the blogs that I read regularly, GCRL, is particularly adept at creating these.

One of my favorites is his CTSHB of the 1977 Dodgers 30 Home Run foursome on a 1978 Topps Record Breaker Card.

He's also designed 1985 and 1986 Topps All-Star cards of Steve Garvey.

In my opinion the two coolest concepts in CTSHB are cards that pre-date a player's actual rookie card (assuming the player did actually play in a year prior) and final tribute cards so that you can see the players final stats.

In the case of Steve Garvey, he played for the Dodgers in 1969 and 1970 prior to his 1971 Topps rookie card being issued. He played his final game in 1987 and never had a final tribute card in 1988 from Topps (newbie Score eased that pain somewhat).

The Internet has helped me fill in those holes and led me to start a virtual collection of Steve Garvey cards. Here are the mockups cards of Steve that I've found so far that use 1969, 1970 and 1988 Topps designs.

The first one I found has a 1969 design and was created by Bob Lemke.

The second one I found has a 1970 Topps design and was created by Mr. Mopar.

The third one I found also has a 1970 design. Unfortunately, I don't remember who designed it (I believe I sourced it from a PSA message board). If anyone recognizes this, leave me a message with a link and I'll update this post.

The fourth one I found has a 1988 Topps design and was created by Punk Rock Paint. Unfortunately, a back to the card was never created so you don't get to see Steve's complete career stats.

With that said, I'm assuming this can't be it so I was wondering if I could get your help. Are any of you familiar with any other Cards That Should Have Been for Steve Garvey from his playing career? Also, does anyone know if Baseball Cards Magazine (or any of their competitors) back in the 1980's ever produced a mockup Steve Garvey card using a Topps, Fleer or Donruss design?

Thanks in advance

1985 Topps Minis - What Could Have Been?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, 1975 was the first year I started collecting baseball cards. Since it's release it's become a classic with collectors and bloggers. In my opinion, it stacks up nicely with Topps' Classic sets from the 1950's. For many reasons, I've always been very fond of that set.
They include:
  • It was the first set I collected
  • An eye-catching design
  • A great set of rookie cards highlighted by George Brett, Robin Yount, Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Keith Hernandez.
  • One of Topps' best designed baseball card wrappers
  • 1975 Topps (especially the wrapper) were mocked by Wacky Packages (anyone remember Beastball?)
  • The local ice cream van driver (we called him 'Van') that I bought cards from as a kid used to tell me that he put a case of baseball cards away every year and that the first year he did so was 1975 (and they were mini cellos!!!) Note: Decades later, I heard that he actually cashed out and made a nice chunk of change. Good for him.
  • Minis (These were smaller-sized versions of the regular cards. Topps released them as a test in the Michigan and California markets).

The only sticker remotely as popular to me as a kid was the Playboy Magazine spoof Playbug.

During the 1980's, it seemed as the dual fascination with the Rookie Cards in the set as well as the Minis continually pushed the price of the set up in value. There was even a period of time where the value of the minis was more than 2-3 times the regular sized cards due to perceived scarcity.

1975 Topps Mini and Regular Steve Garvey

On the tenth anniversary on the 1975 set, Topps came out with arguably their best set of the 1980's from a popularity and collecting standpoint. 1985 Topps was highlighted by Rookie Cards of Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser, Eric Davis and Bret Saberhagen. Topps also release an identical all glossy parallel set called Topps Tiffany (for the second year in a row) that was the same size as the regular set and limited to 5,000 sets. At time of release, the Tiffany Set was only moderately popular with collectors because in my opinion they weren't available in pack form and they weren't what collectors were interested in at the time (That would be Minis).

Eventually someone in Topps' Product Development division (Fleer too) took a look at the hobby and realized that 1975 Topps and especially their Minis were all the rage. In an attempt to capitalize on this, Topps released a much smaller Mini set in 1986 that was a flop along the lines of a Ford Edsel.

The main reasons it failed was:
  • Design was different that regular-sized 1986 Topps cards as well as unattractive
  • Number of cards in the set was much smaller
  • Size of the minis was even smaller than 1975 Topps Minis
  • The hobby hadn't positively accepted multiple sets in the same year from a manufacturer (outside of traded sets)
  • No must-have Rookie Card was included in the set (i.e. Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds)

If you collected in the mid-1980's, Topps coming out with this style of Mini set made all the sense in the world. Donruss and Fleer were regularly beating them to the punch by including better Rookie Cards in their base sets and their products were performing better in the secondary market. Sadly, they could have done better and in fact they almost did.

While doing the research for the 1986 Topps Minis set, someone at Topps considered making a 1985 Topps Mini set in the same fashion as the 1975 Topps Mini set. This led to 132 cards which constituted one 11x12 sheet being produced as a test. The cards were printed in Ireland (like Topps Traded sets of the 1980s) and only 100 of each set was produced.

1985 Topps Mini and Regular Steve Garvey

I don't know how these were distributed or even if they were but for whatever reason Topps missed the boat on this opportunity because a 1985 Topps Minis in pack form would have been huge considering how many Rookie Cards were in the set.

Unfortunately, we'll never find out.

Topps Baseball Cards. Now available in Tall, Venti and Grande!

For comparisons sake, I've lined 1975 and 1985 Topps Minis up next to each other along with a 1986 Topps Mini.