When I returned to work after a brief getaway a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see a package from Patrick in my mailbox. Patrick and I trade stacks of cards from time to time, and I have given him several baseball books over the past few years after I have finished reading them. But we did not have anything set up for a trade right now, so the fact he left me a package blindsided me. More than that, what was inside that package left me absolutely speechless. I have since regained my ability to speak, and it is way past time to show off these goodies on the blog.
First up is the complete 2016 Topps Mini Reds set…
Topps recruited Rick Moranis to shrink both series 1 and 2. I believe these cards are the same dimensions as the 1975 minis, but I don’t have a ’75 card to compare them to. According to information online, there were only 1000 complete sets made.
Pretty good way to start the package, but there were some bigger surprises inside…
That, folks, is the complete 15-card set of Reds from Topps NOW “Road to Opening Day.” These were available for a limited time during Spring Training last year, and only 52 sets were made for Reds fans. Thanks to this post-vacation surprise package, I am the proud owner of one of those 52 sets.
My favorite photo from the “Road to Opening Day” set is an easy choice:
Eugenio Suarez, who the Reds practically stole from the Tigers for the Big Pasta a few years ago. Look at the size of that bubble. That’s what baseball is all about, my friends. This dude has fun on the field and had a great season last year. I can’t wait to see him in the All-Star Game in July.
But wait, there’s more…
The complete 5-card set of Topps Now “Players Weekend” cards, featuring photos from the weekend of August 25-27, 2017. Surprisingly, the date is not found on these cards. Only 103 sets were made for Reds fans. The players representing the Reds in the Topps NOW series were Joey Votto (“Tokki 2”), Zack Cozart (“Coach”), Billy Hamilton (“Bone”), Scooter Gennett (“Ryan”), Adam Duvall (“Duvy”). I loved the uniforms they wore, but wasn’t crazy about the nicknames on the back.
How about that for a surprise package? A complete set of 2016 Topps Mini Reds, 2017 Topps NOW “Road to Opening Day,” and 2017 Topps NOW “Players Weekend” cards. But wait…
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What you see above is nearly every 2017 Topps NOW card featuring a Reds player. Eighteen cards, from the superstars like Votto and Hamilton to the rookies like Rookie Davis, Stuart Turner, and Amir Garrett. I was completely floored by these cards.
My favorite Topps NOW card, and perhaps one of my all-time favorite cards, is this right here:
Cozart with his All-Star donkey, given to him by Votto after Cozart was selected by the fans to start the 2017 All-Star Game at shortstop. I’m going to miss Cozart in Cincinnati this year, and I hope he has a phenomenal season with the Angels.
Patrick, my friend, thank you so much for these cards. I may no longer be speechless, but I am appreciate of your generosity and grateful for your friendship.
Does anyone remember the old “Memory” game? We love to reminisce about days gone by, recalling the good old days while looking at childhood photos…what year was that taken? Memory plays a big part in music as well. Metallica, “The Memory Remains.” The Ramones, “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” Aerosmith, “Remember (Walking in the Sand).” And one of my all-time favorites: Skid Row, “I Remember You.”
When it comes to wantlists, how reliable is a 42-year old brain? I was in Pigeon Forge last week and stopped by The Dugout. Lots of graded cards (of no interest to me), overpriced wax boxes ($20 for 1988 Donruss? No thanks!), and new product in packs (didn’t even look at the prices because I really don’t care). I asked if he had any dime or quarter boxes…nope. He offered a few Reds boxes to look through, $1 and up a card or 6 for $5. I looked, and hesitantly picked out six cards. Did I need them? Let’s find out!
We’ll start with the newest first, because that is freshest in my mind.
2017 Stadium Club Billy Hamilton
Awesome photo, action shot, but do I need it? This card was all over the blogs and Twitter last year, so I know I’ve seen it before. But have I ever seen it in person? Is it already in one of my binders? Survey says: NEEDED IT! 1-for-1 so far…
2016 Topps Update Jay Bruce All-Star
I miss Jay Bruce. He was fun to watch and willing to do whatever the team needed to win games. A three-time All-Star for the Reds, and hopefully he will make a few more Midsummer Classics as a Mets outfielder. I like the guy. But do I need this card? YUP. 2-for-2. Awesome.
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Johnny Cueto Across the Years
Another former Reds player, another guy I hope has grand success in San Francisco (just not against the Reds). One of five Cincinnati hurlers to finish second in Cy Young Award voting. We’re getting into fuzzy memory territory here, but I don’t remember these “Across the Years” cards at all. Checking the wantlist…and I don’t have any of the six “Across the Years” cards featuring Reds players. So we’re now 3/3.
1989 Swell Joe Adcock
I debated putting this card back, or informing the shop owner that I didn’t think he was wearing a Reds uniform. You see, the Cleveland Indians also utilized the wishbone “C” in their logo for a few years. More than a few years, actually. According to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Indians page, that wishbone was a part of the Indians’ identity from 1933-1941, and again from 1954-1972. Adcock played for the Tribe in 1963, and that small bit of the jersey logo looks to me like the tip of Chief Wahoo’s feather. But he played for the Reds from 1950-1952, and Cincinnati used blue in their color scheme during those years. I’m leaning toward Indians here, as this card isn’t even on my wantlists in the first place.
I don’t care. I’m counting it. 4/4. Not bad, but there are two more cards to go…
1966 Topps Dom Zanni
I love this guy’s name, and I know I have a card or two of his. But do I have this one? Checking the wantlist…already had it. 4/5.
1965 Topps Jimmie Coker
The last of the six cards from the card shop, and I’m pretty sure I had this card, but I wasn’t positive, so I went for it. Checking my wantlist, and I’m so glad I didn’t trust my memory on this one…NEEDED IT. This is only my third 1965 Reds card, joining Jim O’Toole and Steve Boros. So the trip to The Dugout was a success, picking up five needs and only one double. Sweet!
A lot of people made a big deal of Ichiro Suzuki “passing” Pete Rose with his 4257nd hit earlier this month. They combined Ichiro’s professional Japanese League numbers with his big league totals, but ignored the fact that Rose had another 427 hits in the minor leagues, which is also professional. The Lifetime Topps Project did an interesting breakdown of players with more than 4000 professional hits, including not only regular season play in the majors and minors, but also postseason and All-Star appearances. One name stood out more than Rose, Ichiro, Ty Cobb, and Derek Jeter to me: Jigger Statz. Sounds like a guy that The Infinite Baseball Card Set should profile.
I am not denying that Ichiro’s accomplishment is a big deal. It is! But he is not the professional hit king. Pete Rose is, and probably always will be. Unless Ichiro sticks around for a few more years, which I highly doubt, he will not pass Rose’s professional regular-season mark of 4683.
TWJ contributor Patrick sent over a couple of great “fun cards” to remind us all that Pete Rose is still the Hit King, and with the Reds Hall of Fame induction happening this weekend, there is no more appropriate time to post them here. I see Ron Robinson, Tony Perez, Dave Parker, and Max Venable in that shot. Can you identify anyone else?
Ichiro’s achievement was commemorated by The Shlabotnik Report recently.
When I went in to work Friday, there was an envelope in my work mailbox. The work mailbox is not used a great deal by me, other than to store my headset and some other random papers that may someday be important. So I was a little surprised to see an envelope inside.
This was not a regular envelope, though. This was a small, padded envelope. The type used by baseball card collectors to send each other goodies. All that was written on the outside was my name, so I knew it came from someone who I worked with.
I tore it open, and this beauty fell out…
A Topps NOW card featuring Billy Hamilton, commemorating the Reds’ five single-inning stolen bases earlier this year! This was a very pleasant surprise, and I got busy trying to figure out the identity of the mysterious baseball card fairy. It did not take long, and the trail led straight to TWJ contributor Patrick. We no longer work in the same building, but we still exchange baseball cards, memorabilia, and books from time to time.
Such a great surprise on a Friday night! I’m very grateful to Patrick and his continued support and contributions to The Writer’s Journey.
A few words about Topps NOW…I’m not a huge fan of the process. And I’m not the only one. For me, it’s the price that bothers me. However, I noticed something on the Topps NOW website a few minutes ago:
$3.99 or even $4.99 is a lot easier to swallow than $9.99. Of course, that is only if you are purchasing multiple copies of a single card. But what if the idea was extended to include multiple cards? Say I wanted to place an order for ten cards that were to be produced during the season. Obviously, I don’t know what ten cards I would want, but each day I could check the Topps NOW site, and if I decided I wanted one of those cards, I could click “add to cart” and the quantity. When I accumulate ten cards in my cart, they are then shipped to me. If there are additional slots in my cart at the end of the year, I automatically receive that quantity of the last card in the set (which will likely be a celebration of the Chicago Cubs’ first world championship in over a hundred years).
If I were buying individual cards throughout the year, that would run $99.90. But if I pre-purchased a ten-card package, it would only be $49.99. Or the twenty-card package for $79.99. That might be something I would be willing to do (if the Reds had a better team and I expected them to have 10 or 20 Topps NOW cards this season).
I like the concept of Topps NOW, I really do. But the price for a single card is way too high for this bargain-bin collector. I would love to see Topps make some sort of “subscription” like I described above available to collectors like myself.
I’m not sure what Bryan “Fisher” Price is trying to prove. It’s painfully obvious that the Reds’ bullpen is absolutely atrocious, so why not shake things up? Let a starter go seven or eight or (gasp!) nine innings. See if they can’t seal the deal from beginning to end. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE COMPLETE GAME?
Last season, six major leaguers pitched four complete games. The last time a National League pitcher has reached double digits was last century. Randy Johnson, in 1999, finished 11 games. James Shields was the last American League pitcher to accomplish that “feat”—five years ago—and he was the first in the Junior Circuit since Scott Erickson in 1998. For three straight seasons in the 1970s, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro completed at last twenty games per season. In his 24-year career, Knucksie started and finished 245 games.
I know, not everything in “the good ol’ days” was actually good. But looking at Cincinnati’s bullpen performance this year, it’s hard not to long for a few complete games from the starters that are pitching well.
Thanks to TWJ contributor Patrick for reminding us how pitiful the Reds’ relief pitching actually is.
Topps introduced a new type of baseball card this year, commemorating on-the-field achievements as they happened and making the cards available for purchase for just 24 hours on their website. The concept is called “Topps Now,” and the cards appear to cost $9.99 each. So far, David Ortiz, Bryce Harper, Trevor Story, Francisco Liriano, and the Kansas City Royals/2015 World Series trophy have been featured. Only the Ortiz is currently available for purchase.
I like the concept, but not the execution. This is the way the Upper Deck Documentary set should have been done a few years ago. A short write-up of daily events, with a photo from the actual game. But $10 per card? Not in this lifetime. I suppose I should be glad the Reds are not expected to perform well this year; that just means there are fewer Reds cards I will never add to my collection.
“Fun cards,” however, are another story. TWJ contributor Patrick saw fit to commemorate Tyler Holt and Billy Hamilton‘s spectacular ninth-inning defensive plays Monday afternoon that saved the Reds from an embarrassing start to what is expected to be an embarrassing season. Look at how fast Hamilton was moving when he dove for that ball! It’s like the Flash, so difficult to get a clear photograph because of his lightning speed!
Thanks for the great “fun cards,” Patrick!
UPDATE: Longo and Piscotty (whoever he is) are claimed. Mookie and Eddie are still up for grabs.
I have a few cards that you might be interested in. Let me know if any of this catches your eye, and what Cincinnati Reds goodies you might be willing to part with to acquire them…
Evan Longoria 2016 Topps Heritage Chrome Refractor 079/567
Edinson Volquez 2016 Topps Heritage Chrome 464/999
Mookie Betts Opening Day blue honeycomb parallel
Stephen Piscotty Target exclusive “1967 Stand Ups”
I also have quite a few base cards from Heritage and Opening Day; let me know what you need (card number, player name, and team) and I’ll see if I have it.
- The Mashup Awakens [Brian Kesinger’s Tea Girls] (JT sez: I’m a huge Star Wars nerd, and I absolutely adore Calvin & Hobbes, and these mashups are perfect.)
- Custom TTM Success: Alan Young (Scrooge McDuck)! [Baseball Card Breakdown]
- Finding Boshek [The Numerous Solutions of Billy Jensen]
- Jimmy O’Connell: The Other Side of a Scandal [The Infinite Baseball Card Set]
- Hot Stove: One Last Box Of Cereal [The Shlabotnik Report]
- Cute Illustrations Imagine ‘Star Wars’ Characters As Winnie The Pooh And Friends [Design Taxi]
- The Big Picture [Night Owl Cards
- Miami Fox Publishing Looking For Short Story Submissions For Pyramid Of Terror Anthology [Horror Society]
But I’m a weak, weak man.
At least I turned my weakness into a nice little game with the family. Our first pack wars of 2016 commenced after Bible study tonight as we sat around the kitchen table. Each of us took two packs, picked two teams, two players, and three card numbers. If you pull a card on your list, you get three points. If someone else pulls a card on your list, you get one point. Inserts also counted for three points apiece. After the first round of two packs, the top two scorers opened the last two packs in the box.
Here are some of my favorite cards from the box, starting with the Reds second baseman (who they desperately tried to unload this offseason) and right fielder (who was also mentioned in trade rumors), Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce…
I’m not overly impressed with the cards, as I have mentioned elsewhere, and the backs are boring. But I thought the fact on the back of Bruce’s card was somewhat interesting:
I also got a Reds insert, which is super duper cool…
I don’t remember Paul O’Neill pitching, but sure enough…
Those are the only Reds cards I pulled, and that’s why it’s the only box I’ll be buying. It’s tough being a team collector who loves opening packs. The value just isn’t there at all. But I did pull several other cards that I liked, including a couple of Salvador Perez cards, an Anthony Rizzo/Kris Bryant insert, Warren Spahn, Babe Ruth, Andre Dawson, Randy Johnson, Josh Donaldson, and Giancarlo Stanton.
And the “MLB Debut Medallion” that I pulled was Joe Mauer. I’m not a non-fan of Mauer, so I’m not entirely disappointed with this pull, and since there are no Reds on the checklist in series 1, I could have done a lot worse. That said, if anyone has a Reds manurelic from an older set, or if you want to make another offer for the Mauer coin, shoot me an e-mail.
I plan to send out some of the other cards that I don’t want to keep to team collectors, so if you’re not already on my PWE list, send me an e-mail with your name, address, and what team you collect. If you want to reciprocate with some Reds, that would be great, but not necessary. What goes around comes around eventually in the baseball card blogosphere.
Oh, and if you’re wondering who won our pack war, it wasn’t me…
With the announcement that the Reds were inducting Pete Rose into the team’s Hall of Fame this summer, I suggested to TWJ contributor Patrick that he create a 2016 Topps version of Charlie Hustle to commemorate the event. He not only came through; Patrick went above and beyond the call of duty and made two 2016 Topps style cards for the Hit King.
Rose was and still is an icon in the Queen City, beloved by the majority of Reds fans. I realize not everyone outside of Cincinnati feels the same way about him; I just think they’re jealous that they’ve never had such a competitor on their favorite team.
Only one man has donned uniform #14 since Rose retired, and that was his son in 1997. The Reds are officially retiring the number this year, and it will never be regularly worn by another player.
Thanks for the quick turnaround on the suggestion, Patrick, and for sharing them with TWJ readers!