Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BINDER #31: Pittsburgh Pirates (Volume 2)

So, I've got this card of some guy named Wagner who apparently played for a team from "Pittsburg". Apparently, it came from some old cigarette packs or something. What?!? It's worth a couple million dollars? I'm rich!!

One more thing, do all of them say "reprint" on the back? Oh, so it's not real. It looked too good to be true. Well, it's still from 1988 according to the back, so being over 20 years old means that it's gotta be worth something, right? What do you mean, "no"?

Kidding aside, it's pretty cool just to have a reprint of a piece of baseball history. This card plus the following make up some of my favorites from my second Pirates binder. The following will not include my favorites of Roberto Clemente, since I already dedicated a whole post to him.

Please feel free to leave requests if you'd like to see a certain team (or player) featured on my blog, or just any ideas for a post in general. Enjoy!

"Cardboard Fun":
1975 Topps Minis #457 Mario Mendoza
1980 Famous Feats #1 Honus Wagner
2010 Topps Heritage #70 Lastings Milledge

I went the first 18 years of my life without having seen or heard of the 1975 Topps Mini set. Then I went to the flea market. A whole stack of them for a quarter a piece! The Mendoza was one of the best finds. Mendoza actually got off to a "hot start" in his first season in '74, posting a gargantuan .221 batting average. The "Famous Feats" Wagner is another flea market find. These cards look like a third-grader drew them. And the backs are absolutely blank. But the fact that they're so cheaply-made make them more interesting, in a way.

Could Topps really not find a better picture of Lastings Milledge? As an outfielder, he's not supposed to be catching those types of flies.

"Short Term Stops":
1990 Bowman #178 Moises Alou RC
2002 Topps Chrome Traded #T180 Jose Bautista RC
2002 Topps Heritage #419 Gary Matthews Jr. SP

I'm not exactly sure when I became fascinated with these "Short Term Stops" cards, but I do know that getting cards of Moises Alou in a Pirates uniform was one of my earliest goals as a collector. The Alou card has been well-worn as you can see in the scan. Alou's totals as a Bucco: Two games, five at-bats. One hit. He was dealt to the Expos in mid-1990.
Jose Bautista played in five different organizations (including the Pirates twice) before becoming a superstar in Toronto. He played in the bigs for FOUR different teams in his rookie year of 2002. The Pirates (as shown in the scan), Devil Rays, Orioles, and Royals. He'd be dealt to the Mets in '04, and then be dealt again on the same day back to where it all started in Pittsburgh. People forget that he was a semi-regular player for the Pirates in '06 and '07. The Pirates traded him to the Blue Jays in '08, and we all know the rest.

Gary Matthews Jr. was on a plethora of teams early on in his career, playing for five different teams in his first five major league seasons. He played in 46 games for the Pirates in 2001 (after opening the season as a Cub).

"Best Of":
2003 Fleer Fall Classics #44 Jimmy Sebring
1994 Ted Williams "Locklear Collection" #LC-17 Honus Wagner
1970 Topps #166 Al Oliver
1982 Fleer #481 Mike Easler
Jimmy Sebring is a name that sometimes gets lost to history. Sebring hit the first-ever World Series home run, in 1903. The Locklear Collection cards are among the best from the junk wax era (look for the Ted Williams cards in a later "gems of junk wax" post). Double-exposure shots are always fun.

Al Oliver is among the small list of baseball players that I've met. I met Oliver and Bill "Spaceman" Lee at a card show about four or five years back. Their autographs were only $10 a piece, and I got a picture with each of them! One of the best deals money can buy! 

You can thank my dad for Mike Easler being in the "best of" section of this post. When my dad was younger, he and his friends attended a Cubs game. Easler stopped and chatted with my dad and his friends before the game (good luck with that happening nowadays), and from that point on, he was one of my dad's favorites. And ever since I've heard that story, he's been one of mine.

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