19 September 2014

just super

just a quick post to show three cards from my collection, each of them literally super.  from 1970 topps super, here's willie davis.
i understand that this is a short print, as is the only other dodgers in the set - claude osteen.  i showed my osteen card a long time ago, complete with the writing on the front, thanks to a trade with mark from stats on the back.  hope he's doing well.

anyway, osteen also appeared in the 1971 topps super set, and i have one of those without writing on the front
however, the printing is off or the card is miscut as you can tell by the blank space across the bottom.  the same thing is happening on wes parker's 1971 topps super card
the other dodger in the 1971 set is dick allen, and my copy of that card seems to be ok.

topps revisited the 'super' idea in 1980 with a thinner stock, more standard size, and non-rounded corners. they did it again in 1981, and the number of dodgers in the checklist was greatly increased due to a 'home team' regional release.  i find it interesting that reggie smith appeared in both the 1971 topps super set (as a member of the red sox) and the 1981 topps super set (with a big 'fro).

i could see these early 1970's versions of the 'super' line as box toppers to a product like archives, but i don't think topps is missing out by not having produced them over the last 30+ years, especially as a stand alone set.

18 September 2014

ain't 2007 the sweetest spot

upper deck debuted sweet spot in 2001, and my collecting mind was blown by the inclusion of signed pieces of baseballs included in some packs.  in fact, it was later versions of the sweet spot releases that included the first thick cardboard blanks because it had previously been too easy to find the packs that included the autos.  at least that is what i was told by a clerk at one of the local card shops in the early 2000's.  anyway, the format of the autos was a bit clunky from that first year through 2005 - they were framed into the card by a non-descript border with a small player photo somewhere on the card.  in 2006, upper deck added a generic stadium shot as the background, but in 2007, they did it right - they went to team specific stadium shots.  here's a don sutton auto card from 2007 upper deck sweet spot classic
it's the wood version, numbered to 75, and the stadium in the background is none other than dodger stadium.  awesome.  i'm still looking for a reggie smith/steve garvey dual auto from this set, by the way.

there are the fading issues with some of the later releases, including 2007, as either the ball material or the pens used by some of the players were not the right types, but the wood versions that i have seen do not suffer that fate.  i recall a signing i went to where harmon killebrew and i simultaneously chastised a guy who offered the killer a sharpie to sign a ball with.  you would think that upper deck would have made sure that the cards were signed properly, you know, if in fact they had a representative witness the signings.  oh wait.

anyway, 2007 is my favorite sweet spot year, even though steve garvey is included in the classic set as a padre.  there are plenty of dodgers on the checklist, though, including the aforementioned sutton
i guess the only bad thing here is that each base card is serial numbered, as they were in some of the previous sets.

here are some of the other dodgers from the 2007 ud sweet spot classic set

roy campanella
campy suttons.

pee wee reese
both the campy and reese use photos that are now quite familiar to us.

here's don drysdale
in the type of photo that we would not have seen on a card back in his playing days.  i'm glad upper deck didn't try to lighten the shadow under his bill.

maury wills
still looks like he's ticked at topps.

the set also included more 'modern' dodgers, such as their former manager tom lasorda
and a welcome appearance by a pitcher from the team of my youth, burt hooton
it's not too often we see hooton in card sets.

the regular 2007 sweet spot set had some dodgers, too, but the card i want to show is this adam laroche auto card
that includes some plastic-injected molded helmet thingy and a faux wood signing area.  this is not so much my favorite, but it is somewhat unique.

i have a bunch of other sweet spot cards in the scanned folder, so i'll show them even though they are from the 2005 set.  also not so much my favorite.

jd drew
eric gagne
dj houlton numbered to 99
i think that's a parallel as opposed to a shorter printed rookie subset

jeff kent
derek lowe
and one of the very few cards made of one of the biggest busts in dodger history - norihiro nakamura
i think the 66 looks better on puig - he certainly has done more while wearing it.  and, i think the 2007 sweet spot looks better than any of the other versions before or after it, thanks in large part to the pavilion roof and palm tree on the dodger auto cards.

17 September 2014

still working my way through the steve garvey oddball binder

i haven't posted any pages from my steve garvey binders lately.  my goal is to post my entire garvey collection (at least what's in binders which really only leaves a couple of prints/posters) by the end of the year.  i'd better get moving if that's going to happen.

here are a few more sheets from the oddball binder.  i call it the oddball binder because it contains not only oddballs (duh), but also non-traditional sized cards, and other types of garvey stuff.  case in point - this circa 1971 dodger team issue photograph and a 1971 ticketron dodgers card
the photo is blank on the back, but the ticketron has the team's 1971 schedule on the back
i find it interesting to see that so few day games were played, and quaint that the lone weekday afternoon game was a special event. i guess 'getaway day' didn't matter as much back then.  more likely, the union hadn't addressed the issue of travel yet.

here are a couple of oversized cards that i've shown before from the 1977-79 sportscaster set
garvey got his own card, and then showed up on the all-star game card with joe morgan and carlton fisk.  here are the backs (they are flipped, so the one on the left is the all-star back)
i appreciate garvey showing up on another card, and it seems that the point of the photo was to show division rivals playing together for one night.  newer fans might not think much about it, but the dodger/red rivalry was a big deal when i was growing up. the big red machine and the big blue wrecking crew in the same division made for some good games and a healthy rivalry.

here are garvey's four dodger police cards.
issued beginning in 1980, garvey showed up in the inaugural set (upper left), the 1981 set, (upper right) and then appeared on two cards in 1982 - the world series celebration card and his solo card.
the backs are pretty interesting.  i appreciate the dodgers using garvey's throwing problems as an example of a tough situation that garvey had to work his way through.  if this card were published today, i would say that there are a few other tough situations he's had to deal with that would be better examples.

now we have reached the padres portion of the post.  here are, clockwise from the upper left, a 1983 topps foldout card, a 1984 donruss action all-stars card, a 1984 donruss champions card, and a 1986 donruss all-stars card
here are the backs (again, they are flipped)
bill madlock makes an appearance on the reverse side of the garvey foldout.  the mad dog's .316 average was tied with george brett for the second best career average among active players behind rod carew's .331.  garvey was down at 13, tied with fred lynn at .301.  not sure why carl hubbell is on the back of garvey's 1984 donruss champions card though.

i mentioned up above that my bindered garvey collection does not include posters.  well, it does include one - this 1984 sports illustrated poster that folds nicely to fit in a one-pocket ultra pro page.
i received it from another garvey collector - mrmopar - whose garvey collection is superior to mine.  i still have a bunch of oddballs to show, however, so stay tuned.

for the love of sax, avert your eyes!

i can't help myself. 

i picked up another dodger featured in the slasher set known as 2008 tristar signa cuts.  this time, it's steve sax and a butchered version of his 1985 donruss card that joins the collection.
 it looks better (relatively) rotated.
saxy! i used to keep my batting gloves in my uniform pants just like that - fingers out - because that's how sax did it.

unfortunately, i don't have a full card of sax to cleanse your palette, so instead, here is a randomly selected 1997 fleer mike blowers card
blowers preferred to clutch his batting gloves apparently; perhaps he was concerned about pickpockets.

i've got my eye on another signa cut card, but i'm not sure i will pull the trigger or not.  if i do, i'll be sure to warn you ahead of time so that you can properly prepare for the cardboard desecration.

16 September 2014

the evolution of the dodgers' first baseman, part 2

in the first installment of the evolution of dodger first basemen, we ended with hall of famer eddie murray signing a free agent deal with the mets, making room for someone else on the evolutionary chain.  the dodgers acquired todd benzinger via trade shortly after losing murray, but a rookie ultimately won the job in spring training.

eric karros (1992-2002)
yes, for 11 seasons, karros was the dodgers' first baseman.  that is the longest tenure since gil hodges, who just happened to be karros' dad's favorite player.  karros (shown on his 1992 upper deck card) was never an all-star, but he put up solid numbers.  he won the 1992 nl rookie of the year award with 20 homers and 88 rbi, and had probably his best all-around season in 1995.  that year, he led the dodgers to the postseason for the first time since 1988 with a .298 average and 32 homers and 105 rbi - good enough to win the silver slugger and finish 5th in the mvp voting. he also hit 2 homers with a .500 average in the nlds against the reds, but the dodgers were swept.  following the 2002 season, karros was traded to the cubs, but his name remains at or near the top of many los angeles dodger leader boards today.  karros is the all-time la dodger leader in home runs (270), and he is fourth (behind bill russell, willie davis, and steve garvey) in games played.  he trails only davis and garvey in total bases and doubles, and only garvey in rbi.  karros is also currently the all-time la dodger leader in strikeouts, but matt kemp (should he remain a dodger next year) will pass him as soon as he k's 54 more times.

i suspect that the karros/mark grudzielanek for todd hundley/chad hermanson deal was a salary dump (the dodgers saved themselves over $10 million (if one assumes that karros' option would have kicked in) with the trade, even taking on hundley's salary.  the dodgers had paul loduca behind the plate, so they didn't need hundley, but they did need a first baseman to replace karros.  so, they took the guy who had been playing there for the cubs.

fred mcgriff (2003)
a couple of weeks after trading karros to the cubs, the dodgers signed former southsider first baseman fred mcgriff.  that's his 2003 playoff prestige card, giving a sort of o-pee-chee vibe.  the crime dog had joined the cubs during the 2001 season after it became apparent that the team had gotten rid of mark grace too soon - matt stairs wasn't cutting it as grace's replacement.  mcgriff, who had averaged 30 home runs a season in his previous 16 seasons, needed just 22 to reach 500 for his career, and i sure thought that he would do it with the dodgers.  unfortunately, mcgriff hit only 13 home runs while playing in only 86 games.  in fact, he started only 79 games at first base, with jim tracy using seven other players at first (including ron coomer, robin ventura, daryle ward, paul loduca, mike kinkade, larry barnes, and even jolbert cabrera).  mcgriff returned to the devil rays for the 2004 season, but still fell 7 homers shy of 500.

shawn green (2004)
green, shown playing first on his 2005 upper deck card, had moved to the infield following the team's acquisition of milton bradley just prior to the beginning of the 2004 season.  earlier in spring training, green had worked out at first, but jim tracy said that he would be playing right field once the season began.  so much for that.  2004 turned out to be green's swan song for the dodgers, and he hit 28 homers with 86 rbi and a .266 average.  he also hit 3 homers in the nlds against the cardinals that year.  i was a big shawn green fan even before he joined the dodgers, and i was sad to see him go.

hee-seop choi (2005)
that's a 2005 bowman sterling bat relic card of hee-seop choi, once thought to be the answer for the cubs at first base following the departure of the aforementioned fred mcgriff and some seasoning behind karros.  instead, the cubs dealt choi to the marlins for derrek lee (a good deal as it turned out), and the fish sent choi to the dodgers in the 2004 trade that broke jim tracy's heart.  ok, that might be a bit extreme, but tracy lamented the loss of paul loduca in that trade, and i'm not completely certain that he didn't take some of his frustration out on choi.  choi began the 2005 season as the team's first baseman, and wound up hitting 15 homers with 42 rbi in 133 games, only 78 of which were starts at first base.  choi participated in the home run derby during the all-star break (he had hit 3 homers in a game against the twins in june and 6 in the series against the twinkies) but was essentially just a pinch hitter for tracy following the break.  he lost most of his starts to olmedo saenz in the second half.

nomar garciaparra (2006)
nomah! that's nomar's 2006 upper deck sweet spot update card - not sure why upper deck issued an update to sweet spot, but i'll take it.  there are too few cards of nomar as a dodger.  nomar had never played first base in the major leagues before joining the dodgers, but that's all he played in 2006.  he appeared in 122 games for the dodgers that year, 117 of which were starts at first.  as the nl comeback player of the year, nomar hit .303 with 20 homers, 82 runs scored, and 93 runs driven in.  he made the all-star team and finished 13th in the mvp voting, while helping the dodgers reach the postseason.  despite a move to third in 2007, nomar still played more games at first base, but not as many as james loney, the next step on the evolutionary chain.

james loney (2007-2012)
after four 'one and done' first basemen, loney (shown on a 2008 upper deck baseball heroes relic card) brought some stability back to the position.  he hit .331 as a rookie in 2007 in 96 games (85 of which were starts at first) and also hit 15 home runs.  other than a dip in 2010, loney was pretty consistent in his first few seasons with the dodgers, driving in around 90 runs and hitting in the high .280's.  he was slumping in 2012, batting just .254 with 4 homers and 33 rbi after 114 games played, when he was traded to the red sox in the megadeal that landed the dodgers their current first baseman.

adrian gonzalez (2013-present)
that's gonzalez's 2013 topps finest card, by the way.  gonzalez hit .297 as a dodger during the 2012 season after the trade, and then hit .293 in his first full season with the club.  this year, he is batting just .276 (through this past sunday), but he has eclipsed last year's 22 homers and 100 rbi with 23 long balls and 103 runs driven in so far this year.  i am hoping that he eclipses his postseason numbers from last year as well, as he hit over .300 with 3 homers and 7 rbi in the 2013 playoffs.

and so we have reached the end of not only the dodgers' first baseman evolution, but the evolution of each position.  you can use the 'evolution' label to find the posts for all of the positions (some may be slightly outdated as i began this with a run through the managers over five years ago).  it's been fun tracking the history of the dodgers by position using baseball cards, which was one of the goals i had when i started this blog almost 6 years ago, although that also means i am getting closer to the end.

15 September 2014

a memorial patch for the navy yard shooting victims

tomorrow (9/16/14) marks the one-year anniversary of the navy yard shootings in washington dc.  the nationals wore a memorial patch for the last few weeks of the season in honor of the 12 victims killed in the rampage.  ian desmond's 2014 bowman card gives a good view of the patch on the right sleeve of the jersey
and the same photo was used by topps on his 2014 gypsy queen relic insert
the patch was initially worn on the chest, but i don't have any cards showing that placement.  my thoughts are with the families of the victims as they mark this anniversary.

black diamond, silver diamond, white sox

for the 1992 season, the white sox added a diamond to the left sleeves of their jerseys to honor the passing of at least two members of their organization and family that occurred during the previous offseason.  the diamonds came in two different colors for their three different uniform schemes - black on the home pinstripes as seen on this 1993 o-pee-chee steve sax card

black on the away grays (as we will see in a bit), and silver on the alternate black tops as seen on saxy's 1993 leaf card
here are a couple more looks at the silver patch, courtesy of black jack mcdowell's 1993 topps stadium club murphy card
and dan pasqua's 1993 upper deck card
i've got three cards in the memorials binder for this one - robin ventura's 1993 topps black gold card represents the black diamond/white pinstripe combo
while frank thomas' 1993 fleer ultra card represents the black diamond/gray jersey set up i mentioned earlier
and it's the big hurt again, with his 1993 upper deck future heroes subset card that showcases the silver diamond/black jersey combination
one tidbit from a uniform source notes that the diamond is not a patch added to the jerseys, instead it is colored fabric woven into the uniform tops.

while i was researching this post, i noted that the hall of fame's website indicated that there were four people for whom the patch was worn.  some research online provided three names, and i decided to contact the hall of fame to see if they had any additional information.  i received a quick response from tom shieber, the senior curator, who referred back to the chisox media guide from 1992 and found that the diamond was being worn for two people - sheri berto (jerry reinsdorf's personal assistant) and maureen schueler (wife of general manager and former player and coach, ron schueler). it is possible that other personnel, possibly long time employee millie johnson (one of the three names i found online) who passed away in march of 1992 after working for the white sox for over 25 years, were "added" to the memorial, but the hall of fame has revised their website to acknowledge berto and schueler only. 

sheri berto died unexpectedly following an outpatient surgical procedure in november of 1991.  she was bulls and white sox owner jerry reinsdorf's assistant, and in addition to the uniform memorial worn by the sox, reinsdorf named the bulls' practice facility after her.  the bulls practiced at the berto center for over 20 years, but will soon be moving into a new facility near the united center.

maureen schueler died of leukemia in october of 1991.  her husband ron had been a pitcher with the white sox late in his career, retiring as a player in 1979 to become the team's pitching coach.  he also worked in the a's and pirates organizations before returning to chicago as the team's general manager in november of 1990.

the white sox have since been consistent in the use of a diamond when wearing memorial patches, although they have since added names or initials to the memorials, such as the one they are wearing this season for jerry reinsdorf's son david.  i will post about that after 2014 topps update is released, i am sure.