Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cataloging crisis

Chances are you've heard me ramble on and on about my organizing habits by now.

How I organize, when I organize, where I organize, why I organize, the whole deal. I like to think I've covered basically every possible path of that topic at this point.

It seems odd, then, that I have yet to write a single word on this blog about how I catalog my collection. Why? Because I don't catalog my cards. Or, more appropriately, I haven't considered doing so in a long time.

I think I used to write down all my "good" cards in a little notebook when I was a kid, but that had to have been at least ten years ago.

The most advanced I ever got in my cataloging habits was a basic little Word document I had that contained every insert, parallel, and short-print I owned, but I abandoned that years ago.

I do have a website, but that's almost exclusively for cards I want to trade, not ones I plan on keeping. And I haven't used it a whole lot since I bailed on the trading forums.

The process of fully acclimating a new card to my collection isn't that substantial. If I want to show it on the blog, I'll scan it and put the image in a folder for future use. If not, it goes into a stack where it sits until I can safely nestle it into one of my binders. Nothing more, nothing less.

When it comes to cataloging, I'm about as out of touch as the bulky computer on that Jim Abbott card.

The main thing that dissuaded me from cataloging is the fact that it's, well...just plain boring for me.

The fact that I have so many different collections makes it hard to document them all. Plus, I've found that I'm pretty good when it comes to knowing which cards I need and don't need.

I guess I never saw the draw to cataloging until I heard a few fellow bloggers talking about this thing called Zistle. From what I hear, it's the new hip way to document your cards. And the site even lets you make trades with fellow collectors, if you so please.

I finally got around to creating a Zistle account a few weeks ago, but haven't had the time or energy to dive into it further since then.

My understanding of the site is still pretty primitive as of this writing, but I have to say that I'm starting to get excited about finally being able to catalog my cards and have fun with the process at the same time.

When I get around to it, my first order of business will probably be documenting my Vlad and Ichiro collections. I have over 500 Ichiros and upwards of 700 Vlads, so it's understandably difficult to remember which cards I have and need sometimes.

Whenever I find a card of either guy that I think I might have, I'm forced to go through everything I own of them and see if I need it or not. It's a long and painstaking process, as you can imagine.

Cataloging would bring an end to ever having to do that again.

Originally, I thought I'd have to scan every card of anything I wanted to catalog.

That, obviously, would be a massive undertaking and one that I'm not sure I'd ever want to do.

From what I see with Zistle, though, that happily isn't the case. My understanding is that if someone has already uploaded an image of a card you want to add to your collection, you can simply use that stock photo for your own archives.

One of the bigger projects I might tackle in the future is cataloging everything I own from my various mini-collections. All the double dips, all the throwbacks, and so on.

I'm completely happy with anyone who simply wants to send me a blind stack of cardboard, but documenting what I already have within each theme might be helpful for anyone who wants to check whether I have a certain card or not.

The 1991 Upper Deck Scott Fletcher you see above is one of the better double dips I own. You get an Omar Vizquel cameo on the front, along with a bonus double dip/throwback shot (with a Robin Yount appearance) on the back.

It's so great, in fact, that at least seven or eight different people have sent it to me over the past couple years. With a Zistle account, I'll be able to show that, yes, I have and enjoy this terrific double dip and, no, I don't need any more copies.

Eight is enough.

I wouldn't mind cataloging my non-sports cards, either.

Because this area of my collection has so many subparts and other facets, I lose track of what I already have at times. More than that, though, I think it'd be fun to get to see all those non-sports heroes next to each other.

Being able to see figures like George Washington, Beethoven, and The Beatles in the same little folder would be pretty neat.

If this whole Zistle thing is as fun and fulfilling as I'm hoping, I'll probably get around to documenting a lot of my other player collections as well.

All I know is that cataloging is (and has been) a long overdue task. I'd always feel kind of left out of the party when I'd hear about how everyone else documents their cards.

Zistle has been making the rounds for a while now, and it's about time I joined the tech-savvy people like Brad Ausmus and jumped on board.

To the catalog!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Into the Sunset, Pt. 27: Dave Winfield

On this date twenty-one years ago, Dave Winfield collected his 3,000th hit.

He jumped around a bit during the later stages of his career, so he ended up achieving the feat during his often-forgotten tenure with the Twins. I have a few cards that commemorate the historic moment, but this is far and away the best one.

One could very well argue that Winfield was the best all-around athlete of the latter half of the 20th century. The man was drafted by the Padres in 1973 (as a pitcher, no less) and made the rare jump directly to the bigs without having played in a single minor league game.

However, Winfield was also drafted by both the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and ABA's Utah Stars. Oh, and the Vikings took him in the '73 NFL draft despite the fact that he never played college football.

Of course, Winfield chose baseball. Given that he was born on the same exact day that Bobby Thomson hit his famed "Shot Heard 'Round the World" (October 3rd, 1951), it almost seems like fate.

I tend to forget that Winfield is a member of the 3,000-hit club because I associate him so much with being a hulking power guy.

That, and the fact that his last few years in the majors weren't exactly anything to write home about.

Dave Winfield played for five teams during his last six years in the bigs.

His final stop came with the Indians in 1995. The story of how he arrived there is one of my personal favorite tidbits of baseball lore.

The Twins and Indians had a trade in place to send Winfield to Cleveland a short while before baseball went on strike in 1994. Once order was restored the following year, the clubs weren't sure how to work out the details of the deal since such a long period of time had elapsed.

A couple members from the Indians brass took some of the Twins management out for a meal shortly after the strike was resolved, and they called it even. So, yes, Dave Winfield was once traded for a few plates of dinner. I hope the Twins at least got a hearty steak out of the deal.

Winfield slumped during his lone season with the Indians, hitting just .191 with two homers in 46 games before calling it quits.

One of the biggest tragedies in my sunset collection is the fact that Topps didn't make a card of Winfield in 1996 with full career stats on the back.

Granted, I like his '95 Topps issue quite a bit, but it's not a true final tribute.

I should note that my Dave Winfield sunset collection isn't complete.

Then again, it's darn near impossible to track down everything of guys who played during the gluttony of baseball card brands in the mid-to-late '90s. I have the majority of Winfield's finales, however, and I feel that's enough to compose a halfway decent post on the matter.

I'm probably one of the few '96 Fleer fans you'll find. The quirky matte finish gives them a feel that's hard to find anywhere else.

That said, their send-off to Mr. Winfield wasn't anything special.

This card is the opposite.

I love the high-five shot, but I despise the stupid "mountain of gold" design.

A rare miss on Pinnacle's part.

Score put out a lot of vastly underrated sets in the mid '90s.

Their 1995 offering is probably one of my favorites from the decade (again, I'm probably one of the few), and '96 isn't far behind.

The packed crowd at Fenway makes for a beautiful backdrop on this terrific sunset card.

It's hard to describe how much I love the little "Tribute" banner that appeared in some of the final Collector's Choice checklists.

They didn't feel the need to make a big, ceremonious, LOOK AT THIS CARD!!!!! type of deal out of it. When you saw that little "Tribute" stamp, though, you knew you had something special.

Seeing cards like this one as a young collector may well have been the catalyst for my interest in the world of sunset cards.

If I ran Topps, one of my first orders of business would be to bring the Tribute stamps back.

All things considered, I think Upper Deck takes the honor of producing my favorite sunset card of Mr. Winfield.

I was a little hesitant to even consider it an "official" finale, given that the "Young at Heart" series was a subset in '96 UD. I don't consider inserts to be true sunset cards, but I'd never thought about subsets before tonight.

I'll give them the nod. They're part of the base checklist, and that's good enough for me.

These cards are a solid all-around effort from Upper Deck. Great design, great photos, great little timeline on opposite sides at the bottom, and, most importantly...

...great backs.

With complete career stats, no less.

The Padres photo/Indians listing used to play with my OCD a bit, but I've come to realize that Upper Deck wasn't just being lazy by not matching the two.

Their goal was to contrast a photo of Winfield as a bright-eyed young star with the grizzled veteran that appears on the front, and they accomplished just that with this magnificent design.

I don't know if Upper Deck ever experimented with the whole "hero number" theme. (Which might actually be a fun bit of research to do one day, now that I think of it.)

If they did, though, granting Dave Winfield the coveted #100 on this sunset card was an honorable move on their part.

Not surprisingly, Winfield made it into the Hall of Fame in 2001, his first year on the ballot. He was the first player to go into Cooperstown as a Padre, and his #31 is retired by San Diego.

I don't know that we'll ever see another player quite like Dave Winfield. I can't imagine another player getting drafted by four different professional sports teams in this day in age.


Monday, September 15, 2014


Imagine a time when "Walk Like An Egyptian" was at the top of the charts.

Imagine a time when Platoon was the big box office smash of the year.

Imagine a time when everyone crowded around their TVs to watch the Huxtables on The Cosby Show or a place where everyone knows your name on Cheers every Thursday.

Can you?

I can't. But that's mostly because I wasn't around in 1987. I didn't exist until five years later.

On top of that, triple-pronged, 48-card rack packs were long gone by the time I started getting into baseball cards. Luckily for me, a full twenty-seven years later, I finally got a little taste of what it was like to collect during the late '80s.

Matt of the awesome blog "Bob Walk the Plank" somehow stumbled upon a rack pack of '87 Topps. By the graciousness of his good heart, he decided I should have it, even though I've never mentioned any desire to open one. As it turns out, it was a desire I never knew I had.

The cards were like a time machine that transported me back twenty-seven years in the five minutes it took me to sift through them. They even smelled like what I imagine 1987 smelled like. A waxy, kind of musty scent.

Care to join me on a trip back to the heyday of Tiffany and Robocop?

#10 Dwight Gooden, Glossy All-Stars insert

The rack pack opened with what passed for an insert in 1987.

Here in 2014, a set called Archives is reproducing these things with a sense of nostalgia. And the originals, like Doc here, are staples in repacks near you.

This, as I found out, was the only insert in the entire 48-card rack pack.

A far cry from the 12-card packs that seem to come with eight inserts nowadays.

#514 Orlando Mercado

Topps and 1987 will be forever linked by those famous wood-grain borders.

An obvious nod to '62 Topps, this design became an instant favorite of a lot of collectors at the time. Lots of those who lived through 1987 still look on it with fondness today, so I've heard.

It'd be a longshot to make my Top 5, but '87 would most certainly crack my list of the Top 10 Topps sets ever made.

I would've bought tons of rack packs just like this one from the local A&P with a design that sweet.

#72 Walt Terrell

#650 Hubie Brooks

I miss the Expos.

#430 Mike Schmidt

Our first Hall of Famer.

And, judging by the Expos jerseys in the background, a shot that may have been taken during the same game as the Brooks.

#493 Tom Lasorda MGR 

I've long since forgotten what it feels like to pull a manager from Flagship.

I don't know how excited people got over getting a card of Tom Lasorda back in 1987, but I'd bet that most people who collected back then would probably be in favor of a skipper revival in the cardboard industry.

Either way, we get a good shot of Lasorda's wedding band in this photo.

#521 Rick Reuschel
#15 Claudell Washington
#115 Donnie Moore
#507 Dave Stapleton 
#35 Sid Bream
#73 Dave Anderson
#292 Franklin Stubbs

#104 Billy Sample

The backs of '87 Topps are fun and key to the overall success of the design.

I like the little "GW-RBI" feature, and a lot of the bios feature fun pieces of information that weren't readily available to people in the days before the internet.

Topps probably taught a lot of young collectors about Billy Sample's past DJ experience with this card.

#29 Jimmy Key

#116 Bill Russell

Sunset card!

#741 Paul Molitor
#364 Randy Bush

#471 Ronn Reynolds

A Ron so cool he had to spell his first name with two Ns.

#708 Scott McGregor
#337 Darrell Miller
#147 Randy Niemann

#102 Paul Zuvella

Baseball needs more Z-men.

There are six currently active in the big leagues (Josh Zeid, Brad Ziegler, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, Ben Zobrist, and Mike Zunino), but none of them can match Mr. Paul Zuvella.

Zuvella, who enjoyed a 10-year career in the bigs, is third-to-last in baseball's all-time player encyclopedia. He trails only George Zuverink and the immortal Dutch Zwilling in that department.

Those couple paragraphs probably had more Zs than I've typed in the history of this blog before now.

#233 Russ Morman

#23 Lee Smith

Here's probably my favorite card in this entire rack pack.

It's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is, but it's the type of heroic posed photo that Topps can't seem to get a handle on nowadays. They're too obsessed with game-faces and pitching follow-throughs.

Even someone who didn't know a thing about baseball could tell that Lee Smith was a star from this classic shot.

#232 Reggie Williams
#353 Ernie Camacho
#112 Alan Ashby
#368 John McNamara MGR
#728 Tippy Martinez
#387 T.R. Bryden

#475 Scott Garrelts


#516 Ted Simmons
#198 Lee Mazzilli
#349 Storm Davis
#743 Dwayne Murphy

#107 John Butcher

A shot that could double as a Calvin Klein ad.

#183 Andy Hawkins

This one, not so much.

#221 Vern Ruhle

Vern Ruhle is staring into your soul.

#736 Steve Bedrosian
#790 Julio Cruz
#293 Bob Rodgers MGR
#57 Scott Nielsen

#674 Bill Campbell

Another nice, candid image that I hadn't seen before this rack pack came into my life.

Judging by the chain link fences in the backdrop, I'm guessing this particular photo was taken during Spring Training.

#673 Don Sutton

#767 Ron Cey

1987 would turn out to be Ron Cey's final season in the bigs.

This is his final card as a Cub, though his official sunset issue would come in the '87 Topps Traded checklist later in the year.

Just in case you forgot he was ever an Oakland A.

#681 George Bell
#484 Jim Traber
#548 Bill Mooneyham
#747 Johnny Ray
#744 Roy Smalley

I don't know what I did to be worthy of such a fun experience, but I give my buddy Matt a huge thanks for sending over this fantastic little surprise.

It's doubtful that I'll ever be able to grasp what it was really like to live through 1987. If anything, though, this rack pack brought me one step closer.

Sure, "Walk Like An Egyptian" is a classic rock staple these days. (I've done that stupid little dance more times than I'd care to admit.)

Maybe I was first introduced to the DVD copy of Platoon in a college history class a few semesters ago. And there probably are more Cheers and Cosby Show reruns than I could ever possibly watch on TV right now.

If you think about it, though, Topps is still the same, in a lot of ways. Lots of us still go nuts over rack packs, just like a lot of other people probably did back in 1987.

The hobby lives on.

By the way, the Cubs went 76-85 in 1987, good for dead last in their division that year.

I guess some things never change.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The dime box frankenset, Page 29: Numbers 253-261

Put the glasses on, Shades! Give 'em what they want!

Win -- 1970 Topps #252 Lowell Palmer (8 votes)

Place -- 1980 Topps #246 Tim Foli (5 votes)

Show -- 2000 Stadium Club Chrome #250 Rick Asadoorian (3 votes)

Last week's voting was a lot closer than I expected. Lowell Palmer received a third of the 24 total votes, barely edging out the underdog Tim Foli for the victory. Eight of the nine cards in the page received at least one vote. (Sorry, Andy Benes.)

I agreed with the masses on this one. The Palmer is probably one of my five favorite cards in this entire frankenset because of those killer shades.

As always, thanks to everyone who voted. Last week's page got a lot of feedback in the comments. Keep those coming, but remember to cast your tally on the sidebar as well. Let's see if we can beat last week's 24 vote total.

On that note, I'm happy to present this week's nominees.

This group has perhaps the best mix of eras, brands, and various niches we've seen yet.

Here's a closer look.

1973 Topps #253 Mark Belanger

A likely double dip from one of the craziest days the baseball card industry has ever seen.

1993 Ultra #254 Mike Bordick

A certain double play, and a darn fine one at that. 

1998 Pacific #255 Kevin Orie


1976 Topps #256 Rowland Office

The famous lemon-faced shot that became a vivid memory for kid collectors in the 1970's, including my dad. 

1993 Stadium Club #257 Oscar Azocar

A man and his bat are hard to separate. 

1991 Upper Deck #258 Jose Lind

The double dip on the front originally got this card into my frankenset, but the back has made it last.

1991 Stadium Club #259 Shane Mack

I don't know when, where, or why this photo was taken, but it sure stands out. 

1991 Studio #260 "Black & Decker"

Name-wise, I doubt baseball has seen a better battery than Bud Black and Steve Decker.

1997 Collector's Choice #261 Mark Langston

The rare American League pitcher at the plate.

I'm curious to see who emerges victorious this week. I know who'll get my vote, but I don't know if I'll agree with the majority.

The polls are now on the sidebar. You know what to do.

Happy voting!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This one time, at Target...

...I stuck a rack pack of 2014 Donruss Series 2 in my cart.

I can't tell you exactly how or why it happened. My dad and I were just casually strolling along the Target card aisle yesterday when I saw a rack of bright red wrappers hanging at eye level.

It didn't look like a single customer had touched them, and I didn't even know what they were at first. It took me a minute to process the Donruss logo and remember that Panini had released Series 2 a couple weeks ago.

I don't know why, but I had the sudden urge to grab one, even despite the fact that I hadn't bought a single pack of Series 1. I even went so far as to publicly put down the design on this blog with the handful I'd picked up in discount boxes these past few months.

Still, even for a mediocre set, 30 cards for five bucks isn't that bad of a deal. My dad grabbed the fifth rack pack off the hanger (because of the five-dollar price tag) and we went on our merry way.

The cards may be forgettable, but Panini sure knows how to design a wrapper.

I see 2014 Donruss as a good idea gone haywire, though I'm not sure all the fault can be placed on Panini.

Not having the ability to feature logos is a big obstacle to get around. Still, Panini could've done a little more to make these cards stand out a bit. I had to resist the urge to yawn a few times during the course of this rack pack.

Mr. Jeter woke me up a bit, thankfully.

(1978 Topps + 1987 Donruss) - MLB logos = 2014 Donruss!

That seems to be Panini's formula with this set.

The slanted team names in the bottom-left are very reminiscent of '78 Topps, while the little baseball-filled gaps in the borders are about as '87 Donruss as it gets.

I guess the white borders could also be attributed to '78 Topps, but I think it's more due to the fact that we're living in a white-bordered universe here in 2014.

Yes, Topps can get a little boring with using the same "game face" shots over and over again.

But at least Topps still produces a few memorable photos here and there. Every card from this rack pack looked exactly the same.

At least I pulled a few guys I collect. 

That's about all I can ask for out of a five-dollar rack pack.

There was some shiny to be had once I got past all the boring base cards.

But even Mr. Price left me scratching my head.

The "Stat Line" series in 2014 Donruss is an obvious nod to the similar parallels that appeared in the mid-2000's.

The originals actually look really nice and were a fun concept. Divided into both Season and Career Stat Lines, each card is numbered to a specific statistic from the featured player. That Endy Chavez, for example, is limited to 66 copies because of the 66 runs he scored in 2003.

Because Panini chose to plaster 876 CAREER STRIKEOUTS on the front of that Price, I assumed it'd be limited to 876 copies. Nope. Looks like every Stat Line parallel is numbered to 400.

That pretty much takes the fun out of what used to be an original concept.

All the inserts and parallels I pulled were rebirths of old Donruss-related designs.

While I was happy to pull a card of Jose Altuve, the man behind my newest player collection, I don't think the Donruss Elite brand is one that we need to revisit.

It was boring enough the first time.

Diamond Kings has and always will remind me of something I might see in a horror movie.

Not that I watch horror movies or anything. I'll stick with Ferris Bueller's Day Off, thank you very much.

The longer you look at those old Diamond Kings, the scarier they get. The 2014s took out that freaky slasher quality, but they still don't grab my attention.

I'm already regretting scanning that Rusty Staub now.

It'll start popping up in my nightmares soon.

That Hernandez insert was probably my favorite card of the rack pack.

Although it doesn't have anything on the original Studios, of course.

I can applaud the thought process behind this grand Donruss revival, but I can't get behind the effort. There's not enough here to make this brand even halfway interesting.

I think it's safe to say that my liaison with Donruss will turn out to be a one-night stand.