Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Topps -- Celebration Time!

In case you've been hiding under a rock, 2012 Topps has been released to retail stores.

I promise this will be one of the few posts I do dedicated to the 2012 Topps set. I know that you've probably already heard a lot about this set.

But after all, this is my favorite time of the baseball card season. It means that spring training is just around the corner!

I hadn't yet been introduced to the baseball card blogging community when 2011 Topps was first released, but I imagine there were a whole lot of posts last February when those hit the Targets and Wal-Marts. I'm guessing it was the same in 2010, and in 2009...

In case you missed it, I bought two blasters and a rack pack of 2012 Topps this afternoon. I would've made this post earlier, but I had to go to my Tuesday afternoon class. I was tempted to skip it to be with my cards, but I made the smart decision and went to school. (I can't say the same about when 2010 Topps Update was released; I skipped class that day.)

This is probably the most scanning I've ever done for a single post. But I tried to give my readers a look at one or more cards from each of the insert sets and some of the better base cards as well. Hopefully you'll like 'em!

And let's get this out of the way now: I didn't pull the "Rally Squirrel" card.

Without further ado:

2012 Topps: The Rack Pack

I opened the rack pack first.

And the card that kicked off my 2012 card season is: Mickey Mantle. It was the first card I pulled out of the rack pack.

I hope that's a good omen.

Next to Hoyt Wilhelm, my favorite and most extensive player collection is Casey Kotchman. I've got about 200 of his cards. I was surprised that he didn't have a single card in 2011, even after the big year he put up with the Rays.

Needless to say, I was excited to pull my first card of Kotchman as a Tampa Bay Ray.

I'm sad to see that the Topps Gold parallels are no more, but I can definitely live with those yellow diamond parallels. The scan didn't do it justice; they are actually really nice.

As you'll see in some of the coming scans, Topps did an absolutely fantastic job with their photography in this set, especially the horizontal cards like Casey McGehee.

I'm really liking those "Classic Walk-Offs" inserts. I can't wait until I get the Carlton Fisk one.

"Golden Moments" is a "meh", at best. I'm glad to see that Topps featured Luis Aparicio, but it's obvious these cards were more geared toward the game-used versions that can be found in 2012 Topps packs, not the regular inserts.

"Golden Greats" is another "meh". Too repetitive. Single players have five different inserts in the set. (Cal Ripken has cards #41 to 45, for example.)

The 1987 Topps minis, on the other hand, are by far my favorite inserts from the set. They're printed on the same cardboard-like stock that was used for '87 Topps, and the backs are pretty much exactly the same as the '87 ones. 

2012 Topps: Blaster Box #1

I'm not a fan of the manu-patches, but, hey, I'll take 'em if they're included with the blasters anyways.

Topps used a lot of "celebration" shots for the base cards. (Hence, the title of this post.)

Hey, you bullies! It looks like Chris Carpenter is crying for help.

More celebrations!

It's too bad I don't collect either of these guys, because these are a couple of great cards.

Looks like both of these are going to be additions to the "short term stops" collection, because both of these guys will suit up for new teams in 2012.

I'm happy to see that Topps decided to include the "D-Train" in their flagship set. He deserves it.

I was scared for a minute when I opened the first couple packs of my blaster, and all the base cards were the red-bordered parallels. I don't think I opened any blasters in 2011, so I didn't have the experience of pulling any of these.

But I guess all the blasters are like that. You learn new things all the time in this hobby.

As you can see, Nyjer Morgan was given not one, but two great cards in this set. This one and the "beast mode" card I showed earlier.

I'm liking these more and more every time I see them.

More minis! 

And I think they're both night cards to boot.

"Gold Standard" is probably my second favorite insert set in 2012 Topps.

Again, the scan doesn't do the card justice.

2012 Topps: Blaster Box #2

I pulled a Reggie Jackson manu-patch out of this blaster, but I couldn't get it to scan right for some reason.

But here's a couple of great cards of a couple guys who will probably join Reggie in the Hall of Fame one day.

Do I smell a future "Awesome Night Card" with the Pujols?

Marlon Byrd is probably my second-favorite player in the game right now, just after Ichiro. He was one of the few bright spots for the Cubs last season. His base card was easily my favorite one out of the 2012 Topps I opened today.

Justin Turner continues the "celebration" theme of 2012 Topps, just as Angel Pagan is about to ambush him.

Dustin Ackley is one of the few rookies I collect. 

"Gold Futures" (more gold-themed inserts) is a nice insert set, but there aren't many guys in the set I'm interested in.

I'm not a fan of multi-player cards, so the "Timeless Talents" inserts hold little to no meaning to me. I do like the throwback Angels uniform on Nolan Ryan, though.

I redeemed every "Million Card Giveaway" code I got in 2010. I traded all the ones I got in 2011. By and large, I found that trading was the better route, so I'm doing the same with the "Golden Giveaway" in 2012 if anyone is collecting codes and wants to trade for them.

The red borders work very nicely with the 2012 Topps design.

I especially like the Isringhausen because I'm pretty sure it was taken right after he picked up his 300th career save. Plus, it might be his last card if he can't find a team for 2012.

A couple great inserts of a couple of baseball legends.

Plus, Bob Gibson is sporting some groovy sideburns in that shot.

Let's close this post with some more from the great 1987 Topps Minis insert set.

All in all, I'm really liking what I'm seeing from Topps in their first offering of the 2012 season.

Hopefully it's a sign of things to come!

The eagle has landed

I know, I know. Another 2012 Topps post.

Technically, this is a Christmas gift, 'cause I used a few gift cards I got to purchase my first helping of 2012 Topps.

That's two blasters, one rack pack, and a whole lot of fun.

Can't wait to rip 'em open!

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Short Term Stops", #2-- Steve Yeager

1986 Topps Traded #130T Steve Yeager (Mariners)
Wait, wasn't Steve Yeager a lifelong Los Angeles Dodger?

For the longest time, I thought so. But then I found this card.

I love the '86 Topps set. The blue-and-black combo at the top of this card is one of the better color combinations that I've seen.

But I've just got one question: Where was this picture taken, anyways? The Grand Canyon?

Steve Yeager is a long way from his "groovy-glasses", perennial NL pennant-winning Dodger days. He looks pretty ghastly in this card. And the cool glasses are gone.

He's switched from Dodger blue to Mariner blue, which was a lot less flattering in the '80s. That dark blue coupled with the bright yellow makes it look like a glow-in-the-dark jersey.

After previously spending his entire career with the Dodgers, Yeager played his final big-league season in Seattle in 1986. He played in just fifty games and hit .208 with two homers.

A lot of these "short term stops" cards feature guys at the tail end of their careers, trying to catch on wherever they can. This Steve Yeager card is no exception.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

I don't blame guys one bit for wanting to stay in the great game of baseball for as long as possible.

Defacing a card, or an "Auto" in collector speak

This is a crazy hobby, isn't it?

Technically, having a guy autograph your card without a certificate of authenticity makes the value of the card go down as far as Beckett goes. After all, it's defacing the card!

But what do those people know, anyways? "TTM" or "In-Person" autographs are still cool.

I can't say I've ever tried to obtain a TTM auto, and I haven't gotten a new in-person autograph in a long time.

But that doesn't mean I don't cherish the ones I already have.

I had the privilege of meeting the late Mark Fidrych at one of the first card shows I can remember going to as a kid. I had him autograph a baseball, which is displayed proudly in my room.

My dad bought this Fidrych autograph for me a while back. These types of autos work well with cards that already have facsimile signatures on them.

It's interesting to see how a guy's signature changes over time.

I won this one in a contest on one of my trading forums.

I don't collect Mike Mussina, but the red background on these Cracker Jack cards are a nice platform for an autograph.

A fellow collector sent this one to me out of the blue last year.

John Olerud will always be one of my all-time favorite players, and this one is certainly a cornerstone of my collection of his.

A card shop I used to frequent had a little box of in-person autographs on the counter for fifty cents a piece.

An autograph of the "Wild Thing" for two quarters? Heck yes.

The story behind these is better than the actual autographs.

My grandparents live pretty close to where the Kane County Cougars (single-A) play their ballgames. Sometimes we'd hit a baseball game when we went to visit them.

One of the times, we unwittingly bought tickets for a doubleheader. We were all set to leave after the first game when they announced that the second game would be starting in an hour or so. Quite the surprise, if I do say so myself.

Between games, some of the players were on the field signing autographs. I had just bought the team set from the gift shop, so I tried to match the players on the field with their cards. So in one day, I got to walk onto a minor-league baseball field and get some autographs from actual professional ballplayers?

It was all a twelve year-old could ever ask for.

This is probably my favorite from my in-person autograph collection.

Fergie Jenkins was signing free autographs one day at a sporting goods store called Galyan's, which was celebrating its grand opening. ("Galyan's" is now Dick's Sporting Goods.)

I bet that I was one of the few people to bring a non-Cubs item for Fergie to sign. It's cool because he even signed it at the same angle as his '82 Topps facsimile signature. His autograph has changed a lot since his playing days.

Me and my dad still laugh about that day because, of course, the guy in front of us in line that day was the guy you see at every card show. Talking on the phone, two backpacks full of stuff, ten zillion things for the guy to sign with the obvious intention of reselling them. Keep in mind that this was a free autograph session, and there were a lot more people in line behind him. Needless to say, it took a long time for the guy to get his stuff signed.

As a kid, I was puzzled as to why anyone would do that. Now I understand that jerks do still make up an extremely small percentage of the card community. But that's true in any hobby.

I swore I saw a little bit of relief when Mr. Jenkins saw a kid was next in line, with just one card for him to sign. A card that meant something other than dollar signs. A card that he'd keep forever.

I'm proud to say that that hasn't changed with any of these in-person autographs.

That's why they're so great.

Dime Box Heroes: Making an exception

2006 SP Legendary Cuts #157 Cy Williams /550

I am so looking forward to 2012 Topps coming out that it's not even funny. It's not necessarily the set design, the inserts, or anything else. It's just that I'm always this way when the first cards of the new year are about to come out.
It was pretty much the same thing last year. The only difference is that I've got 45 bucks worth of gift cards from Christmas to put towards the 2012 Topps "fund". I only had the cash for a few packs last year. So that's why I'm a little more hyped up this time around.

But I've got nothing against the people who aren't going nuts over buying 2012 Topps packs or boxes. I completely understand wanting to save some money for cards you can buy individually for your collections instead of buying packs and getting guys you don't want. I understand it, I really do.

But that's just not me.

After I got home from school today at about two o'clock, I checked Ebay to see if any 2012 Topps singles were available, as I've done every day for the last week or so. Still no luck.

I checked "Baseballcardpedia" and to my surprise, they now list the set as "just released" instead of "about to be released in the near future". (It scares me how anxious I am over these cards sometimes.)

Apparently, they were released to retail outlets today. Naturally, I took the walk to Target, full of excitement. Again, no luck. I guess I'll try again tomorrow. Or the next day.

I got home from Target a few minutes ago and remembered that I was going to do a post on the Cy Williams card you see at the top of the post.

That cheered me right up.

This is easily one of my favorite dime box finds. In sets from recent years, the only retro guys you usually see are Ruth, Gehrig, Wagner, Cobb, etc. And I've got no problem with that, but I would like to see card companies change it up a little more. 

That's where Cy Williams comes in.

Before I saw this card, I didn't really know who Cy Williams was. I'd heard the name before, but didn't know what era he played in or anything. At the time, he wasn't really "binder-worthy" since I didn't know too much about him. So I originally put this card back in the dime box.

But after looking at the card again, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't pass it up and granted Williams a coveted spot in my binders, purely on the awesomeness of this card.

Then I did a little research on him. Turns out he was one of the top sluggers in the National League in the teens and '20s. You might not have ever heard of him because of the guy tearing up the American League at the time. Some guy named Babe Ruth.

Williams won four NL home run titles during his career. He was also the first NL player to hit 200 longballs in a career.

Here's another fun fact: Williams is still the oldest player to win a home run crown, leading the NL with 30 homers in 1927 at 39 years of age.

Maybe I'm the first blogger to ever mention Cy Williams. I guess that could be an accomplishment.

Psssh, who needs 2012 Topps when you've got this card?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The law

We all know this card.

We all love this card.

It's probably the most blog-friendly baseball card I can remember seeing. I'm sure most of the baseball card bloggers out there have featured this card at some point. It's almost like a law.

This card reminds me so much of an OK Corral battle in the Old West. All that's missing is a  tumbleweed rolling past Johnny Bench's feet. Any minute now, Bench will yell "Draw!", and baaad things will happen.

A question to my readers:

Is this the most iconic card of the 1970's?

To me, it's a toss-up between this card, the '71 Thurman Munson, or the '77 Mark Fidrych. It's really tough for me to decide between those three.

Even if it's not your most iconic card of the 1970's, you've got to love it.

Seriously, how could you not?

The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 16: 1989 Fleer #616 Billy Ripken ("Rick Face")

You had to know it was coming sooner or later.

If there's one card that defines the overproduction era, it's this one. All due to the F-dash-dash-dash word. I like how Beckett lists it. "1989 Fleer Billy Ripken 'Rick Face'".

It's like an unwritten law in the baseball card community: If you're a serious card collector, you pretty much have to own this card, like it or not.

Unfortunately, the trade that netted me this card was one of the few I kind of regret making. I dealt a 2001 Bowman Jose Reyes rookie for the Ripken and some other cards that I don't remember right now. While I'm happy I have the Ripken in my collection, I'm sure I could've gotten one for a lot less than a Reyes rookie. (I've since reclaimed a Reyes RC for my collection though, so it's all good.)

I learned a lot about this card from the book Mint Condition, definitely a book that any serious card collector should read.

The paranoia over this card began with a call to the Fleer corporation from the Baltimore Sun, asking for a comment on the Ripken card. No one at Fleer knew what the paper was talking about, so they double-checked the card for themselves. And to their horror, they found the profanity.

The card quickly skyrocketed in value, from a dime to two bucks to ten bucks. And it was just getting started. A few months after the set was released, the card was changing hands for $100 at card shows. Unopened 1989 Fleer cases were fetching as much as $1,700 a piece because of the card. Seventeen hundred bucks!

There are so many variations of this card that it's not even funny. It puts the current Topps variation gimmicks to shame.

There's the famous original "Rick Face", of course. But then there's the "Black Box" (which I also own), the "Double Die", the "Double Die Saw Cut", the "Whiteout", the "Black Scribble Loop", the "Black Box Square Edge", the "Black Box Rounded Edge". There's probably others, too.

Who took the time to find all those variations?

Billy Ripken finally admitted that the bat was indeed his in a 2009 interview, after previously vehemently blaming it on a teammate's prank. However, he said the fact that the bat appeared on the card was accidental, and that he was still upset that no one at Fleer caught it before the cards were produced.

I'm kind of with Ripken there. How could no one at Fleer have spotted that?

Like it or not, this is one of the most iconic baseball cards of the last half-century.

It's always good for a laugh if nothing else.

The last game in town

First, let me just say I'm not making this post as a baseball fan.

I'm making it as a sports fan.

The Pro Bowl and the NHL All-Star Game are taking place today. Oh, joy.

Which one will I be watching? Neither. If anything, I'll have the NHL game on, but I won't be paying attention.

I do enjoy both football and hockey. But both of the All-Star games are just jokes. I'm all for having fun (that's what the All-Star week is for in every sport), but at least give us a real game. If I remember right, the final score for the NHL All-Star game last year was 12-11. So why even have goalies elected to the All-Star team? Why not just play with an empty net?

That being said, I do enjoy the skills competition during the NHL All-Star week. (Unfortunately, I missed it yesterday.) That's when the players are encouraged to show off. But don't do it in the actual game.

And don't even get me started on the Pro Bowl. No tackling, same defensive formation the whole game. It's a free trip to Hawaii for most of the players.

What gets me most upset about the Pro Bowl is that outlets like ESPN and FOX still hype it as an actual football game. Come on, I've seen better football at the local park district.

I won't even discuss the NBA All-Star game because I don't want to get off into too much of a tangent. But it's worse than the Pro Bowl.

Anyways, sorry for the rant.

I'm not saying the MLB All-Star week is perfect.

Although this is a cool card, the Home Run Derby has gotten tedious for me in the past couple years. I just feel like punching the TV after a couple hours of Chris Berman doing the same home run call over and over and over again. ("Back...back...back...gone!")

The derby is just too long. I like home runs as much as the next guy, but I don't need two hours of it. Maybe have four guys instead of eight.

And I'm still not a fan of the All-Star game determining home-field advantage in the World Series.


...we baseball fans do get treated to a real, actual game of baseball come All-Star Game time.

Brian McCann still applies the hard tag on Jose Bautista at the plate. He doesn't step out of the way to avoid getting hurt.

And Marlon Byrd (at the top of the post) still slides into home with the same determination as a regular season game. He doesn't go in standing up.

I watched the entire MLB All-Star game last season and never got bored. After all, it was basically just like watching any other game that year, only it featured the absolute best players in the league.

And that's all I could ever ask for.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Short Term Stops": Yes, it's another new theme

1998 Fleer Tradition #391 Mike Piazza (Marlins)

As some of my regular readers might know, I am a huge fan of collecting cards of guys in unfamiliar uniforms.

I know it's not a new topic in the blogosphere by any means, but I just love these cards too much to not post them on at least a semi-regular basis. I debated adding this theme because I don't want to get too carried away with the theme posts, but don't worry. I'll still dedicate at least one post per day to just totally random cards. That's a promise.

Ever since I was little, these cards have been a major part of my collection. I've collected certain players and then stopped. I've had periods of time where I collected certain teams and then stopped.

But I've always collected these. As a result, I've amassed quite a collection of these types of cards.

I don't know what it is; I just like seeing guys in uniforms that they're not remembered for. And I know I'm not the only collector who feels the same way.

Hopefully, most of them are cards you've never seen before. Maybe you didn't even know some of these guys played for these teams. My goal is to educate and share my love for these cards.

So without further ado, here's the first "Short Term Stops" post.

Mike Piazza's five-game stint with the Florida Marlins might be the most famous example of the unfamiliar uniform theme.

On May 14, 1998, the Dodgers dealt Piazza to Florida in a deal that sent slugger Gary Sheffield to Los Angeles. Piazza was basically a "rent-a-player" for the Marlins, because eight days later, they sent him to the Mets for then-budding prospect Preston Wilson, who would go on to have a solid career in Florida.

Although he played just five games as a Marlin, I own three different cards of him in a Marlins uni. (One of the others can be seen in this post.)

Piazza went 5-for-18 in his five games in Florida. One of those five hits was a triple, one of just eight he'd hit in his entire career.

This is the only Marlins card of Piazza I own that actually comes from when the trade was made. (The other two come from 2002 and 2004, they're more like "flashback" cards.)

I find it odd that Fleer chose to use a picture of Piazza as a Marlin for their '98 Tradition set. Surely they could've gotten a shot of him as a New York Met after the trade was made.

But hey, I'm not complaining.

One of the reasons I love the blogosphere

A month ago, I started blogging because I love baseball cards. Plus, I wanted to share my thoughts with a community that shares many of the same interests as I do.

But I've come to realize that there's a whole other reason why blogging is so great.

The people.

The baseball card blogging community has been nothing but helpful and encouraging to me thus far.

Plus, it seems like all the bloggers want to help the others out. That's what I like most.

I've been lucky enough to make a few trades with other bloggers already, and almost all of them have thrown in a few extra cards for me. I've taken note and have started to add extras in for other traders as well. It's like a never-ending circle. (I mean that in a good way.)

Napkin Doon was nice enough to send me about 50 cards from the '97 Pacific Crown set, free of charge. (I'd recently said how difficult it was for me to find Pacific-issue cards.)

Was there seriously a major league ballplayer named Jayhawk Owens?

There's quite a few neat horizontal cards from this set.

That Darin Erstad one is one of the finest in-action batting shots I can remember seeing. Gotta lay off those high pitches!

Bonus! A couple I need for my player collections.

Compared to other mid/late 1990's sets, the design of this set is pretty nice. It's a little tough to read the names at times, but the in-action photos more than make up for that. I haven't seen a posed photo on one of these cards yet.

Also included was a nice addition to my "Short Term Stops" collection, as Brent Mayne only played one year as a Met.

Much thanks to Napkin Doon for the wonderful cards. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for anything you might need in the future.

And thank you, blogosphere, for introducing me to a whole new aspect of baseball card collecting. It's greatly appreciated.

(Not so) dangerous with a bat in his hands: An Addendum

In an earlier post, I shared my fondness for cards of pitchers at the plate or on the basepaths.

I left out a lot of good ones in that post, so here's some more that might catch your fancy.

Also, I've been re-inspired to collect these again after the last post, so if you've got any extras lying around, I'd be interested in them.

The first card I'll feature is the 1995 Upper Deck Fernando Valenzuela card you see at the top of the post.

This is actually one of three cards that I have that show Valenzuela at the plate. I chose this one because you know I'm a fan of those unfamiliar unis, and this one's got Fernando in his later Phillies days.

He was actually a fair hitter for a pitcher, posting a career .200 average. He hit .250 in his "Fernandomania" 1981 season (and hit his only career triple that year).

Speaking of Dodgers pitching sensations, here's career .134 hitter Hideo Nomo at the plate. (Oh yeah, and 1995 NL ROY winner.) 1998 Skybox Thunder has to be one of the ugliest sets on record. (What the heck are those things in the top right corner of the card, anyways?)

It's just another one that gets lost in the innumerable amount of sets that were issued in the late-'90s.

I thought the Bruce Sutter card I featured in the last post was the only one I had that featured a relief pitcher with a bat.

Once again, my own collection proved me wrong.

Trevor Hoffman's 2005 Fleer Tradition issue joins Sutter in the "Relief Pitchers Trying To Hit" category. I guess even relief pitchers have to practice bunting.

Hoffman collected four hits in 34 career at-bats for a .118 average. He did manage to drive in five runs, though.

Just another reason to like the 2009 Upper Deck OPC set.

I can't tell for certain whether Johan Santana is on first or third base on this card. Any Mets fans know whether the guy on the left is the Mets first or third base coach? That would narrow it down.

This card commemorates the Mets' 9-1 victory over the Cardinals on July 27, 2008. Santana pitched a complete game and knocked a couple of base hits, collecting his only RBI of the season in the process.

This one doesn't quite beat the Greg Maddux card I featured in the previous post, but it's close.

For a lot of my player collections, it's hard to say which single card is my favorite of that player. That's not the case with Cole Hamels. This card is my favorite one of his, without a doubt.

I'm just surprised that it only set me back a dime, as it's from the 2008 Stadium Club Hobby set, where each card is numbered to 999 copies.

Does this one count?

1919 was Ruth's last season as a semi-regular pitcher. All he did that year was hit .322, collect 114 RBI, and set a new all-time home run record (with 29).

I wish there were more pictures of pitching legends like Bob Feller at the plate. For example, I've never seen a regular picture of Sandy Koufax at the plate, much less one on a baseball card.

Am I seeing things, or is Bob Feller wearing a glove on his right hand in that shot? I didn't think batting gloves were around until way later. Hmmm.

"Rapid Robert" wasn't so rapid at the plate during his career (a .151 career average), but he did crack eight homers.

This might be my all-time favorite "pitcher at the plate" card. I'm surprised I didn't include it in the first one of these posts.

Newcombe was the ace of the '50s Dodgers teams, winning both the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1956. Coupled with his NL Rookie of the Year award in 1948, he became the first player to collect the ROY, Cy Young, and MVP awards during his career.

Don Newcombe was actually a good hitter, and not just for a pitcher. His .271 lifetime average was a mark that a lot of position players could be proud of. He also hit .359 in 57 games in 1955 (with seven homers). .359!

Like I said in the last post, these cards are great because they give the collector a different look.

Those same two or three pitching poses that seem to be on tons of cards got old thirty years ago.

I'll take these over posed shots any day of the week.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Glory of Their Time, Chapter 12: Jim Piersall

1979 TCMA '50s #188 Jim Piersall

I'm going to start shortening these "Glory of Their Time" posts a bit. Although they've been fun to write, the past GOTT posts have been quite time consuming.

This way, it will still be fun to write these posts, and not have it take up too much time.

But anyways, on to the post.

The story of Jim Piersall is indeed a tale of two different men.

There's the sunny day, green grass, "everything is fine" Piersall, like the one on this card. The baseball player.

But the reason that Piersall stands out in baseball history is due to the other side of his personality. The emotionally unstable side. The "Fear Strikes Out" side.

Like it or not, it's the side that everyone seems to remember.

However, we forget that he was a pretty good ballplayer as well. Too much of the actual baseball part of his life gets left out when fans talk about Jim Piersall.

It's a shame.

1991 Topps Archives #286 Jim Piersall

Piersall became a professional baseball player in 1948, signing a contract with the Red Sox at the age of 18.

He was in the majors by 1950, appearing in six games for the Red Sox that year.

Piersall was a regular in the Red Sox lineup early on in 1952. However, on May 24 of that season, him and Yankee hothead Billy Martin got into a fistfight before a game. After that, Piersall fought with teammate Mickey McDermott in the clubhouse. He'd be sent to the minors a month later.

He'd be ejected four times in his first three weeks in the minors. He'd enter treatment at a hospital shortly afterward and miss the remainder of the 1952 season.

The treatment seemed to help, as Piersall would become a regular in the Red Sox lineup for years afterward. In his first full season in '53, Piersall would hit .272 and finish ninth in the MVP voting.

In 1954, he'd hit .285 and be elected to his first All-Star game.

2002 Topps Archives #95 Jim Piersall

1956 would arguably be Piersall's finest season.

He'd hit .293, lead the league with 40 doubles, and collect 87 RBI, a career high. He also played in all 155 games that year, which also led the league. He'd make his second (and final) All-Star team in '56 as well.

Piersall would hit a career high 17 homers in 151 games in '57.

One of the most interesting stories I've read about Piersall was that he used to "talk" to the Babe Ruth monument in center field at Yankee Stadium during down times in the game. Can you imagine if someone did that nowadays?

1958 Topps #280 Jim Piersall

It seems like I've had this card forever. It's etched into my memory. If someone says "Jim Piersall", this is the first image I think of. Baseball cards are funny that way.

1958 would be Piersall's final year in Boston, hitting just .237 in 130 games. However, he would win his first of two Gold Gloves in '58.

1959 Topps #355 Jim Piersall

He'd be dealt to Cleveland for first baseman Vic Wertz after the 1958 season.

His first season as an Indian would be less than promising, as he'd hit just .246 in 100 games.

1960 Topps #159 Jim Piersall

On the baseball field, Piersall's 1960 season would be an improvement. He'd hit .282 with 18 homers and 66 RBI while also stealing a career-high 18 bases.

However, it would be a major setback for Piersall in terms of his behavior. He'd be ejected in the first game of a Memorial Day doubleheader against the White Sox. After catching the final out of the second game, he whipped the ball at the Comiskey Park scoreboard. He'd also go up to the plate wearing a little league helmet for one of his at-bats.

He'd enter psychiatric treatment again in June of 1960, but it didn't help. In July, he was taken out of a game against the Red Sox after continuously running back and forth in the outfield while the game was going on. 

He came back down to earth for the 1961 season, posting an outstanding .322 average (good for third in the batting race) and winning his second Gold Glove award.

1963 Topps #443 Jim Piersall

Despite his fine season, the Indians dealt Piersall to the Senators in October of 1961.

1962 would be Piersall's only full season in Washington. He'd hit an underwhelming .244 in 135 games. It would be the last time he'd see consistent playing time.

2010 Topps "Tales of the Game" #TOG-10 Jim Piersall

This is definitely one of my top five favorite cards from 2010. How could it not be?

After playing the first 29 games of the 1963 season in Washington, he'd be dealt to the Mets for Gil Hodges (who would never play a game as a Senator, but would become their manager for years to come).

His 40-game stint as a Met would be forgotten today had it not been for the incident shown on this card.

He only hit one home run as a New York Met, but it would go down as one of the most memorable in baseball history. The homer was the 100th of his career, and he celebrated it as only Jim Piersall could.

He ran around the bases facing backwards.

1964 Topps #586 Jim Piersall

Topps made absolutely no effort on Piersall's cards in the coming years. You'll see what I mean.

The Mets released Piersall on July 27, 1963. The Angels signed him the next day.

He'd hit .308 in 20 games as an Angel to close out his wild 1963 season.

Piersall would only play a part-time role for the Angels in 1964, but would play it well, hitting .314 in 87 games.

1965 Topps #172 Jim Piersall

See what I mean with these Piersall cards? His 1965 photo is obviously from the same photo session as the '64 card. (Believe it or not, it gets worse.)

He'd play in just 128 games in '65 and '66 combined.

1967 Topps #584 Jim Piersall

Topps just got lazy. You can still clearly see the "Los Angeles" on Piersall's jersey. The "Los Angeles Angels" became the California Angels in 1965. This shot is obviously from a 1963 or '64 photo session.

Piersall would play in five games for the Angels in 1967 before calling it quits, eventually taking a front-office position in California in May of that year.

This 1967 card reminds me of Jim Piersall's career as a whole.

As with the card, one can only wonder what it could've become had it been given the proper treatment. Psychology was still somewhat primitive in the '50s and '60s. We'll never know what Piersall might've become had he had access to proper medication and psychological treatment.

But we've got to look past the flaws and appreciate what we have. I never thought I'd own Piersall's 1967 card. But even with the defects, I'm glad I have it.

It's the same with Piersall. He'll always have a place in baseball history, even if it's largely due to his personality.

Piersall himself said it best:

"Probably the best thing that happened to me was going nuts. Whoever heard of Jimmy Piersall until that happened?"