Monday, September 30, 2013

Flea market countdown, Pt. 3: Believe it

As the title of this little series notes, I'm starting to prepare for the farewell of my local flea market this winter.

I'm definitely planning to attend at least once more during its final weeks. But, due to possible problems with time, money, etc., I can't make any guarantees.

So, just in case I don't get another chance to write one of these flea market posts, I just hope you've enjoyed my ramblings about my finds there this summer.

And, if you happen to stumble a flea market near your house, I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot. If you've taken one thing away from these posts this year, I hope it's that you can find almost anything at a flea market.


That idea was in full force during my most recent flea market trip a couple weeks ago. In terms of sheer shock value, I scored my greatest get of the season. Not to mention one of my best ever.

See, just after I was done buying that awesome Cy Young oddball I mentioned before, another vendor let me know that he had some cards on display a couple tables down.

As is always the case with random dealers at the flea market, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

When I walked up to his table, I had exactly ten bucks left in my wallet.

After all was said and done, I'd spent $20 on cardboard goodies, taking out a bit of a loan from my generous mother. (One that I've since paid back, I should mention.)

I don't usually like owing people money, but I had to in this situation. I think you'll agree with me after this post is over.

And, as it happens, I could've spent a lot more. For the time being, though, I kept my impulses (somewhat) intact and limited it to a cool twenty smackers.

As the vendor noted, one of his boxes was filled with half-price cards. Upon taking a quick look through it, my eyes widened. The bin was absolutely packed with '70s oddballs.

I can probably count the number of discount bin SSPC cards I've found on one hand. There were at least a couple dozen in this box alone, including the epic Koosman/Snider combo at the top of the post and the above Dave Kingman.

Featured next to "Kong" here is a rare shot of Tony LaRussa from his playing days, coming from the tough-to-find TCMA 1960's checklist.

Each card from this trio of '70s oddballs set me back a mere buck a piece.

Since I knew my budget was waning, I decided to try and get the most out of my remaining cash.

I asked the vendor if he could go 3/$1 on the cards marked at a buck in the half-price box. So, basically, I was proposing a buy-two, get-one-free deal.

He graciously accepted. At that point, I could've hugged him. Had he not complied, I probably would've had to put a few of these late '70s Galasso Glossy Greats back in the bin. And that would've been painful.

All of the cards you see above fell under the 3/$1 umbrella, in fact. Each and every single one.

The Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance combo. The "clean" Ray Schalk and "dirty" Eddie Cicotte from the infamous 1919 Black Sox. The rare Zack Wheat and Heinie Groh cardboard sightings. The hilariously in-action Hughie "Ee-Yah" Jennings. The "Big" Ed Walsh, featured during his four-game stint as a Boston Brave.

I'm having a hard time comprehending all the old-time oddball awesomeness in this page.

Of course, though, the Hoyt-ster deserves a scan all to himself.

With a two-dollar price tag, I ended up shelling out a whole buck for this one. But, if you know anything about my obsession with Mr. Wilhelm, you'll know how big of a bargain that was for me.

Aside from his '58 Topps issue, this is the only card I've seen of Hoyt in an Indians uniform.

It's also one of the few I've seen of him grinning.

In any other box, this would've been the best of the best. No questions asked.

But, at most, Hoyt here has to share "Best Of" honors.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my absolute pleasure to give you the entire 1983 Galasso Seattle Pilots team set, 43 cards in all.

Baseball geeks like myself have long been fascinated with this franchise, one that lasted just a single season in the bigs before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers.

That geekdom came to a head when I found these, as the set features nearly every single player and coach on the infamous 1969 Seattle Pilots roster. Before last weekend, the only one of these I'd ever seen/owned was card #1, Jim Bouton. (I've shown it here in the past.)

As I've said time and time again, I absolutely love anything related to the Pilots. Originally priced at ten bucks, I was able to take home all 43 cards for just five. It's almost like fate put this thing in that half-price box for me to find.

I can't come up with a better explanation.

Had that half-price box been the only thing on display, I would've been more than satisfied.

But, shockingly enough, the vendor had another stupendous bin ripe for the picking. These puppies were priced at three for a quarter. So, all in all, it was a 12/$1 box!

Like most of its kind, there were certainly some greats to be had in this batch of bargains.

You know, people stop me on the street all the time and ask...

"Nick, just why are you such a big fan of Stadium Club?"

If I could, I'd reach into my pocket and pull out this Kirby Puckett card.

"This. This is why, my friend."

Now if only that could actually happen.

The Griffeys are most likely the best father-son combo this game has ever seen.

Those talents transferred onto their cardboard as well. "Griffey Senior" on the right is a tremendous addition to my "At the Wall" mini-collection.

As it happens, that "Junior" had been on my short list for future "Dime Box Dozen" nominees for a while.

From what I know, the elderly lady featured there won some sort of contest held by the folks at Upper Deck, getting to appear with Griffey on his 1997 Collector's Choice issue.

Ah, the 1990s.

Always finding new ways to surprise me.

For about eight cents each, these were certainly a welcome sight.

I've unofficially decided to build Studio's "Heritage" insert sets. If that Ozzie Smith is any indication, they're about as "throwback" as it gets. (Note the five-fingered glove.)

For some unknown reason, the Ultra Pro brand decided to publish a few of Mike Piazza's prom photos after his breakout 1993 NL Rookie of the Year campaign.

Or at least it looks that way.

This was a shocking development out of the 12/$1 bin.

A legend liquorfractor!

I've never seen these cheaper than a buck or two a piece at card shows. But, at the flea market, I nabbed this Cognac Rogers Hornsby for about eight cents.

I thought I was fair in assuming that it'd be the best this bin had to offer.

However, that was before I found the...


Finding a 12/$1 box is hard enough. Finding vintage in a 12/$1 box is darn near impossible.

You just never know when those cardboard gods are going to strike, I guess.

Against all odds, I found a couple budding stacks of vintagey goodness in this vendor's 12/$1 bins. We're talkin' good early '70s vintage, too.

Among my gets was this, my first card (and rookie card) of ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel during his playing days. After a six-year big league career (and a .198 career average), he later found success in Japan as a player and as an MLB skipper.


Eight cents.

At such an obnoxious price, I couldn't help but add a few cards to my defunct teams binder.

These are a couple of the last Senators cards ever issued. In fact, it's the second Paul Casanova card I've found in as many trips to the flea market.

And, in case you were wondering, both of these do indeed smell like discount bin vintage.

Yes, I've been smelling my cards.


Even iconic, well-loved '75s were no stranger to the discount depths.

Both of these proved to be nifty adds to my frankenset.

The Meoli is actually a card I've wanted to track down for a while. Aside from the terrific action shot, it's the very first card featured in one of the best books ever written, Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker.

That alone cemented it in my memory.

And, before Mr. Ferguson came along, I didn't think there were any "plays at the plate" in the '75 checklist.

Okay, I've kept you waiting long enough.

It's time to reveal that grand finale I alluded to earlier. Please keep in mind that the card you're about to see actually came out of this 12/$1 box. I wouldn't lie to you.



That was my first reaction upon seeing this card in a 12/$1 bin.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Was my second.

Wait, should this thing REALLY be in here?

Was my third.

I figured there was a good chance someone accidentally put this one in his 12/$1 box. No way was it supposed to be had for eight cents.

So, being the honest soul I am, I kindly asked the vendor if Mr. Amoros here was really supposed to be in such a bargain-basement group. He said, and I quote...

"Yeah. There's some writing on it there. And a crease over there."

And that's how I took home a beautiful 1956 Topps Sandy Amoros for eight cents. Dodger fans know him for his amazing catch in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series. (Which made for a pretty neat photo.)

Oh, and it happens to feature a staggeringly nice "play at the plate" shot, complete with a Yogi Berra cameo.

That's not even mentioning the cool bit of writing, either. Some young (and perhaps broken-hearted) collector scratched out the "Brooklyn" part of the Dodgers moniker, updating the team's move to Los Angeles prior to the '58 season.

It's easily the oldest card I've ever found in a dime-or-less box. In fact, it's not even close.

I can never do enough flea market preaching around here. Again, I highly encourage you to find a local flea market and go to it.

After all, you never know when you'll find your Sandy Amoros.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flea market countdown, Pt. 2: Cite your sources

I often wonder where some vendors get their inventory.

More than once at card shows, I've had guys tell me they have a couple dozen more dime boxes tucked away in their garage. And I'm always shocked to see sellers who have stacks upon stacks of vintage cardboard on display.

Where the heck does it all come from?

Like any other hobby, though, I guess people just have their sources. As far as the flea market goes, I'm still not sure where my regular vendor's reservoir is located.

As I briefly alluded to in yesterday's post, he's told me in the past that he doesn't buy much new product. Given that he's a fairly elderly guy, I don't think he frequents card shows very much.

Maybe he goes around the city buying up old collections. Maybe he just has an outside source for cardboard. Or maybe he's holding up card shops and taking all their stock. Whatever it is, I don't care. (Okay, maybe I would care if it were that last one.)

I'm just lucky to be able to dig through so much good cardboard on a weekly basis at my local flea market.

I haven't a clue where he found it, but finding a beautiful 2013 National promo of Jim Abbott in my guy's quarter box has to be one of my better finds of the year.

Even though it was almost two months ago now, I guess my National experience isn't quite over yet.

I actually went a little crazier with the quarter cards this time around.

All in all, I snagged about 25 pieces from the quarter bin, which is about double my usual intake. Those, along with over 300 dime cards and a few fifty-cent/dollar pieces (which you'll see in a bit), only set me back fifteen bucks.

It's just another chapter in the never-ending saga of flea market bargains.

Like the dime boxes, many of my quarter finds were made up of 2013 material. This GQ Buster Posey mini was one of my premier gets.

Other things may change, but my love for minis will never go away.

Sorry to get all sappy on you there.

More 2013 inserty goodness.

GQ really knocked it out of the park with the "Dealing Aces" series.

This is a fantastic card for a few reasons.

1) It's Carlton Fisk. The man is, and will always will be, awesome.

2) It's a play at the plate. And I'm sure you all know how much I love those by now.

3) It might well be a continuation of one of the better PATPs ever featured on cardboard.

Fisk's '77 Topps issue features former Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph sliding into the legendary backstop. I'm not one hundred percent certain, but I'm fairly sure Randolph is the runner on this GQ "Collisions at the Plate" shot as well.

So, could we have a continuation of one of the more famous plays at the plate in cardboard history?

While it'd be hard to prove, I think there's at least an outside chance.

I've already gushed on and on about how much I love this year's Opening Day inserts, so I'll save you the spiel.

Fantastic action shot aside, new cards of fellow "birthday boy" Josh Reddick are always appreciated.

As is anything of Evan Longoria or Mike...ahem, Giancarlo Stanton.

Those "Ballpark Fun" inserts might be the best insert set of the year. And I like Opening Day's blue sparkles more than Flagship's emerald parallels.

Whoops. There I go raving about Opening Day again.

Sorry about that.

Manny Machado is the basis for one of my newest player collections.

All I can say is that I'm extremely glad he won't miss an extended amount of time with that knee injury he suffered this week. I saw it live, and, at the time, I thought it was a torn ACL for sure.

As it happens, Machado is part of an ever-growing list. He's one of the few current big leaguers younger than myself. I'm about five months older than the standout third sacker.

It's weird to think about, but I'm admiring cards of guys who are younger than I am.

In a strange way, though, it's actually kind of nice.

Also from the quarter box was this awesome "throwback" shot of Jim Thome.

The guy has surefire Cooperstown credentials and was one of the nicest human beings you could ever meet.

Yet I'm sure he won't get 100 percent of the Hall of Fame vote come 2017. In fact, how no one has been unanimously voted into the Hall yet is beyond me.

Maybe Thome will be the first.

More South Siders!

Only this time, we're looking at a couple fifty-centers.

There really needs to be more Luis Apracio cards in the world.

Now we're getting into the big stuff.

Dollar box material.

I only bought two dollar cards this time around, but I sure think I made them count.

Finding anything of "The Mick" is fairly tough when it comes to dime or quarter boxes. I usually have to plunge into the fifty-cent and dollar bins for cards of his.

And I don't mind one bit.

Even for a whopping buck, I didn't think twice about adding this spectacular piece to my collection.

It's a double bat barrel, bro.

I've seen this card in the dollar box during my last few trips to the flea market.

Yet, for whatever reason, I passed each time. I guess I'm kind of hesitant to drop a buck or more on anything that isn't vintage.

This time around, though, I cut the BS. I finally bought the card I'd seen over and over again.

Such an amazing piece of "Robbie" deserves a rightful home in my Reds binder. And not to mention my HOF collection.

I mean, could I honestly spend a buck any better?

I could've gotten a double cheeseburger at McDonalds. Or maybe a pack of gum. Or I could've paid for about twenty seconds of my college tuition.


I'll take the Robinson.

In the end, a buck was more than worth it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flea market countdown, Pt. 1: Prospective

I'm already preparing for the inevitable cardboard drought that seems to hit each fall.

For the most part, card shows tend to clear out in later months of the year. New releases are slim to none in the fall/winter months, which means scratching my pack-busting itches won't be as easy with less product on the shelves.

And, unfortunately, my beloved local flea market is usually on its last legs around this time of year. We're looking at another month or so of Sunday gatherings before it closes up shop for the winter.

Just like anything else, you can bet I'll do my best to savor the taste of these last few precious moments. I'm going to milk all the glorious cardboard I can out of the last few weeks at the flea market.

I think I did that last Sunday. As I hinted at in a prior post, I came away with another great haul in my latest binge. (I just wish it hadn't taken over a week to post about it.)

In what'll be a three-part series, I'll once again be showing off my finds from another superb weekend at the local flea market.

I hope you're ready to dig in.

I've mentioned my distaste for the whole "prospecting" side of the hobby many times on this blog.

It didn't take long to realize that the strategy wasn't for me. I'm not in this thing to make a quick buck.

Let's not get confused, though. I do enjoy seeing the latest and greatest "young guns" that this great game has to offer. And I do snatch up their cards when I can.

The difference between myself and a prospector, though, is that I fully intend to keep my so-called "money makers". Especially when I can find them for a dime.

Before last Sunday, I didn't own a single card of Jose Fernandez, Hyun-Jin Ryu...

...or Evan Gattis.

Never did I think I'd find anything of theirs in a dime box, though. At least not during their much-hyped 2013 seasons.

But, lo and behold, each of the five cards you've seen so far did indeed come out of a dime box, specifically the one my regular vendor (who else?) puts on display every week.

Gattis has quickly become one of my favorite players in the bigs this year, which makes finding this pair of rookies a special surprise for me.

I'll even look past the fact that Topps used the exact same photo on each.

Mere seconds after I walked up to his table, my regular guy let me know that he'd recently acquired some fresh new stock for one of his dime boxes.

I still don't know exactly where he gets all the newer stuff, as he's told me in the past that he doesn't rip packs too often.

One of the newer products on the shelves these days is Bowman Platinum, a brand which I've been apathetic towards in its brief history. They're nice cards, but I've never been able to justify splurging on a pack of the stuff.

But I'm more than willing to drop some loose change on singles from the set. For the price of a little less than two retail packs of Platinum, I was able to take home a stack of over 50 hand-picked additions to my binders.

Among those gets were more "prospective" cards of Zack Wheeler, Billy Hamilton, and Wil Myers. Grizzled vets like Josh Reddick and R.A. Dickey were also well-represented as well.

Platinum is a fairly nice set, but I'll stick with the dime boxes for the time being.

Although they didn't scan as well as I'd hoped, the dime bins also produced a few sapphire parallels from this year's Platinum.

Now these I like.

Quite a bit, in fact.

As it turned out, that whole "new" dime box was packed to the brim with 2013 issues.

I'm not the biggest Panini Prizm fan, as I've mentioned before. For a dime, though, I'll pounce on any Matt Harveys and Coco Crisps I can find.

And when's the last time we've seen "Neon Deion" on a baseball card?

Again, I'm not huge on Gypsy Queen.

With the exception of Flagship, I've probably shown them on this blog more than any other 2013 product to date. That's because they're just so darn easy to find in dime boxes.

Which is one of the few positive things I can say about GQ.

Neither Bowman nor Gypsy Queen are necessarily known for their photography.

But I'll be darned if these aren't a couple of absolutely awesome "throwback" shots of Rickie Weeks and "Mo".

Maybe these brands are good for something after all.

For now, though, let's stray away from the newer stuff and get more into the random goodies.

We start with the wonderful world of oddballs.

In the past, the only oddities I'd pick up were the ones that fit snugly into my player collections. These days, I snatch them up willy-nilly.

Even Corey Patterson, arguably the worst Chicago Cub I've ever seen (which is saying something), is a welcome sight in this household if he makes an appearance on an oddball.

The power of odd is just that strong.

I'm developing a bit of an obsession with picking up former "hot list" rookie cards.

Both of these have been highly sought after in the past. I specifically remember Jeff Francoeur's 2002 Bowman rookie being all the rage during his breakout '05 season. People were dropping insane amounts of cash on that card.

Nowadays, it can be had for a dime.

The cardboard universe works in ebbs and flows sometimes.

My White Sox binder proved to be a particular beneficiary from these dime boxes.

I wouldn't say I've devoted an all-out player collection to "The Big Hurt" (yet), but his '91 UD issue was one I've long wanted.


Because, if you look near the bottom-left portion of this shot, the former first sacker is oh-so-subtly flipping the bird to the cameraman. Whether purposely or not is your own perspective.

I should note, though, that it isn't the first time he's been accused of doing such a thing.

The Ventura is one of many 1991 cards to feature a photo from the first-ever "Turn Back the Clock" contest at Comiskey Park. I really need to go through my archives and dig up all the throwbacks I own from that groundbreaking game.

At the least, I think it'd make for a nice post around here.

Closing things out tonight is a fantastic gathering of the game's greats, courtesy of this year's Golden Age release.

Call me crazy, but this is nipping on Flagship's heels as my favorite product of the year. I didn't think Panini would be able to outdo last year's Golden Age effort, but they certainly proved me wrong there.

The inclusion of Jake Daubert (top-center) in this checklist deserves a round of applause. The former first baseman enjoyed a fine career, one that included an NL MVP Award with the Dodgers in 1913.

But, in a tragic story that often gets overlooked in baseball history, Daubert strangely passed away after a botched appendectomy in 1924. He was still active in the majors with the Reds at the time of his passing, marking a saddening end to a (possibly) prospective Cooperstown-bound career.

Before Golden Age came along, I owned a grand total of four cards of Jake Daubert. Three of those came from the famous Conlon brand. Seeing one from a newer release like Golden Age is like a breath of fresh air.

Heck, maybe it really is my favorite brand from 2013.

Am I crazy for saying that?

With names like Jake Daubert among its ranks, I certainly don't think so.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Here's to Fukudome

I never thought I'd say this, but I owe Kosuke Fukudome a huge amount of thanks.

No, not because of his complete bust of a much-hyped career with my beloved Cubbies. I've tried to block that out of my memory, but thanks for reminding me.

My recent appreciation for Mr. Fukudome actually has to do with cardboard. He helped me win a contest here in the blogosphere.

You see, Tom of the great blog "Waiting 'til Next Year" put a little trivia question out to his readers.

"Which ironically named individual was the visiting manager in MLB's first Sunday night game?"

He wanted both the manager and the year the contest took place. I knew from the "ironically" part that the manager had to be former Giants skipper Alvin Dark. ("Take a hike, kid, take a hike.")

I frantically researched for the year, yet came up empty. From the screenshot on Tom's blog, though, I could tell it was a trivia question from the back of a 2009 Finest issue. And, since Tom (a fellow Cub fan) had just acquired Fukudome's card from the checklist, I figured that'd be a good start.

My suspicions proved correct. Thanks to that otherwise unspectacular piece, I now know that Alvin Dark was the visiting manager in MLB's first Sunday night game in 1963. And, more importantly, I got some cards out of it.

My winnings coincidentally included a few 2009 Finest issues, including the Stephen Drew you see above. As far as the Finest brand goes, it's really not that bad of a set.

I'm not sure how much that's actually saying, though.

All in all, Tom put together quite a nice contest haul for me.

Shots like these should tell you why Pete Rose earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle". The guy always went all-out.

Although I initially scoffed at the idea, I'm slowly starting to realize that Leaf's "The Living Legend" checklist is actually a nice effort on their part. I'm still not big on the idea of devoting an entire checklist to a single player, but Leaf did a nice job with this concept.

I especially enjoy the fact that each shot can be traced to a specific moment in time. This one, for instance, features Rose scoring the winning run in an April 19th, 1985 contest against the Giants.

It's "Charlie Hustle" at his finest.

As his little trade package notes indicated, Tom included the Schmidt for the 'stache, and the Trout for the specs.

Topps actually committed a slight faux paus in their "Rookie of the Week" insert of Michael Jack Schmidt. As his actual '73 rookie indicates, he didn't yet have his famous facial hair as a bright-eyed youngster. Still a fantastic card nonetheless, though.

And, hey, the world of baseball could sure use more names like Dizzy Trout among its ranks these days.

If you read Tom's blog, you probably already know about his massive Kerry Wood collection.

In what I assume were duplicates, he sent over a few new additions to my meager grouping of Wood cards.

You can't go wrong with late '90s inserts and minor league issues.

If the name of his blog is any indication, though, Tom is a devout Cubs fan.

People of our kind can take a bit of heat from other baseball fanatics (somewhat deservedly so), but it's nice to know I have at least a few fellow Cubbie allies here in the blogosphere.

I don't often show autographed cards on this blog, but that Wells is a special one. I mean, how often do you see an in-person auto of a minor league pitcher at the plate?

It's awesome to finally have the gold sparkle edition of Jeff Baker's 2012 Topps issue in my collection.

I still think it's one of the better Flagship cards of the decade thus far.

Probably the biggest highlight of these contest winnings, however, was Doug Dascenzo's 1992 Upper Deck issue.

On the surface, it doesn't look like anything special. Sure, a nice in-motion shot of the former Cub does earn it some merit. But that's not what made it the best part of my winnings.

What did, you ask?


As Tom so kindly noted, the back of this Dascenzo card features a shot of him on the mound. The former outfielder pitched in three games (for a total of four innings) for the Cubs in 1991.

Surprisingly, I don't yet have a copy of his more famous "on the mound" card from 1991 Score, one that features him during his lone one-inning pitching stint in 1990.

Thanks to Tom and his gracious contest, I now own one of the greatest "flip side" shots in cardboard history.

And, believe it or not, it's all thanks to Kosuke Fukudome.

That still doesn't sound right to me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Into the Sunset, Pt. 21: J.R. Richard

Baseball has been the base for some truly heartwarming stories.

The "Miracle Mets" of '69. The nationwide success of "little guys" like David Eckstein. Things of that nature.

Unfortunately, though, the game has seen its fair share of tragic tales over the years as well.

The saga of J.R. Richard is one of the first that comes to mind.

Had things gone as planned, I think there's a good chance he'd be in Cooperstown right now. Richard won 96 games between 1976 and 1980, the final years of his career.

He struck out 303 batters in 1978, then went ahead and topped that mark with an astounding 313 whiffs the very next year.

Sadly, after rocketing out to a 10-4 start in 1980 (with a 1.90 ERA), Richard suffered a stroke before a game on July 30th of that year. Although he tried making a few comeback attempts afterwards, the flamethrower would never play in another big league contest.

Naming my absolute favorite J.R. Richard card isn't much of a hassle. The '77 Topps issue you see above isn't just one of my favorite cards of his, but one of my favorites of all-time.

I wasn't around at the time, but I'd guess most longtime collectors would tell you that this was one of the cards to have in the 1970's.

It captures a pitcher who was just hitting his stride, ready to break into the pinnacle of his career. Not to mention that it also features those hilariously awesome Technicolor Astros jerseys of the '70s.

Unfortunately, Richard's "sunset" issues only came a few years later.

This is still the only card I've seen that actually mentions the stroke Richard suffered in 1980.

The back notes that he was anticipating a return to the game in '81. Sadly, we know now that the attempt never came to fruition.

Nevertheless, this is a nice action shot. And, again, there's those striking Astros uniforms.

It's almost like looking at the sun.

As I mentioned in a recent "impulse buy" write-up, this particular "sunset" post has been months in the making.

I was all set to start writing it...until a quick Google search alerted me to Richard's 1982 Fleer issue, a lovably off-center card which I'd never seen before. I didn't even know it existed.

So, after finally adding it to my collection, I'm excited to be sharing this "sunset" post with all of you. Like I said, it's been rattling around in my brain for a while.

After tossing a few simulated games in 1981, Richard was placed back on to the Astros' 40-man roster. However, manager Bill Virdon didn't think he was quite ready at the time, so Richard never pitched a single game that year.

His comeback attempt continued into '82, where he'd pitch the majority of the year in the minors. Richard was actually called up to the bigs in September of that year, but (again) didn't see any action.

Sadly, his professional career ended after a brief minor league stint in 1983.

From what I've read, Richard could've possibly pitched in the majors again, had he stuck with his comeback attempt.

Unfortunately, the possible consequences of returning from such a serious injury were far too big of a risk.

But, thanks to his valiant return efforts, Richard is one of the extreme few players to have been granted "sunset" cards a full two years after their final game.

Despite not pitching at all in '81, Fleer and Topps issued cards of his the next year. Both also appear to be from the same photo shoot, possibly while the hurler was tossing a side session of some sort.

Each company was expecting Richard to make a grand return in 1982.

A lot of my "sunset" cards are simply the final chapters in long, brilliant careers. Some of which may have even extended a few chapters too long.

In the case, though, J.R. Richard's final cards are the saddening tale of a career that ended far too soon. While it certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort, he never got to make that big comeback.

If only he could've gone into the sunset under his terms.

If only.