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Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Frank Robinson

Robinson

Frank Robinson was one of the greatest players to ever wear the Cincinnati Reds uniform. And the Baltimore Orioles uniform. And the Dodgers, Angels, and Indians uniforms. Though he never played for them, Robinson was one of the greatest to pull the Giants, Expos, and Nationals jerseys over his head. Ok, so the Expos and Nationals were button-ups, not pullovers, but you get the point. The guy was a legend.

One of his nicknames was “Pencils” due to his unusually scrawny knees. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1956, NL MVP in 1961, and AL MVP in 1966. He also took home the World Series MVP in 1966 when his Orioles swept the Dodgers. He was selected to the All-Star team in twelve seasons. In 1975, the Indians named Robby the first black manager in big league history. He managed all or part of 16 seasons for four franchises (five teams, if you want to separate the Expos from the Nationals). He was named the AL Manager of the Year in 1989 on the strength of the Orioles’ second-place finish.

Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 along with Hank Aaron, Happy Chandler, and Travis Jackson.

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Still discovering junk wax treasures…27 years later

The above Tweet from Tanner, noted Jose Canseco superfan, started a frenzy among a small group of baseball card collectors. What in the world are those cards? Customs? Nope. Real deal. But where are the name plates?

As it turns out, a few Topps Gold cards from 1992 got out the door without the gold foil…and they ended up on eBay a few weeks ago. I snagged a handful, as did a few other Twitter users that were following the thread. I have never seen these before, and never knew they existed until Tanner’s Tweet. I am, however, happy to add them to my collection.

I am now the proud owner of six 1992 Topps Gold “missing foil” Reds cards…

Larkin

Oneill

Charlton

Duncan

Morris

Sabo

That’s Barry Larkin, Paul O’Neill, Norm Charlton, Mariano Duncan, Hal Morris, and Chris Sabo.

Turning the cards over plainly shows that they are from the Gold parallel series, albeit without the gold on front…

Sabo

I also picked up a Shawon Dunston card, who was another favorite player growing up.

Dunston

It’s amazing (in a great way) that we can still discover things from the junk wax era today, and that we have ways to easily add them to our collections. Thank you Tanner for the heads-up!

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals – SNUBBED” Scott Rolen

Rolen

I was not sold on Scott Rolen‘s greatness until just a few years ago. The Hall of Fame voters are notoriously judgy when it comes to third basemen not named Brooks, Mike, George, or Wade. Ron Santo, the seventh-best third baseman of all-time by JAWS rankings, had to wait for the Veterans Committee to give him a plaque. Graig Nettles, Ken Boyer, and Buddy Bell are all on the outside looking in. Maybe that’s where they should be. But not Scott Rolen. Rolen is ranked as the 10th best third baseman, with every other 3B ahead of him already in excpet Adrian Beltre. In his first year on the ballot last year, Rolen only pulled 10.2% support. It’s up a little this year, but not much. Hopefully it will continue going up in years to come until he finally reaches that 75%.

Reds announce stadium giveaway bobbleheads

2019 Reds Bobbleheads

Yesterday was National Bobblehead Day, and the Cincinnati Reds celebrated by announcing the bobbleheads scheduled for giveaways during the 2019 season. All six bobbles will feature Hall of Famers who spent time with the Reds.

  • Ernie Lombardi – May 18. “The Schnozz” was a Veterans Committee selection in 1986. A slow-running catcher, Lombardi twice led the NL in batting average.
  • Joe Morgan – June 1. “The Little General” was a first-ballot selection by the BBWAA in 1990, receiving 81.8% support. He led the NL in offensive WAR every year from 1972-1977, and won back-to-back MVP trophies to go with his back-to-back World Series rings in 1975 and 1976.
  • Barry Larkin – June 15. Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, 9-time Silver Slugger, and 3-time Gold Glover, and he won the 1995 NL MVP. It took three tries, but the BBWAA finally elected him in the 2012 Hall of Fame vote.
  • Tony Perez – July 27. Perez appeared on nine Hall of Fame ballots before finally getting the call in 2000. He was inducted with his Big Red Machine manager Sparky Anderson and 1975 World Series rival Carlton Fisk.
  • Johnny Bench – August 17. When Bench’s name appeared on the BBWAA ballot, there was no doubt that he would be inducted. The question was how many would vote for him. As it turns out, only 16 voters declined to check Bench’s name.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. – September 7. Junior is different than all the others on this list because he is more known for his time with the Mariners. But he has always been a hometown Kid, and I’m glad to see him included.

I love all these players, but already have bobbleheaded likenesses of at least four of them, so I am not sure if I will try to attend any of these games. If I do, it will likely be for Lombardi…wait…nope…gotta work that day. Maybe Griffey? Nope…working that day too. Maybe I’ll try to swing a shift trade with a co-worker.

Since I already have the other four in one fashion or another, I doubt I will attend those games. It costs a lot of money to go to a big league game, even at the cost-friendly Great American Ballpark. I will peruse the rest of their promotional schedule and pick another game or two to attend.

If I had my druthers, I would have chosen Bid McPhee, Edd Roush, Eppa Rixey, and Tom Seaver. The team is celebrating the diversity of uniforms throughout the year, why not show some more diversity of uniforms through the bobbles? I already know the answer. Bench and Griffey will sell more tickets than Roush and Rixey, and it’s always all about the money.

I’m anxiously awaiting the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum’s giveaway announcement. I have not been a member for a couple of years, but if the giveaways appeal to me, I may join again in 2019.

Yes, Cincinnati, there is a Santa Claus…

…and he works for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Reds completed one of the biggest trades in recent franchise history when they acquired Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer from Hollywood for a couple of prospects and Homer Bailey‘s contract. Baseball-reference.com was quick to update the first three’s mugshots, too.

New Reds for 2019

Puig has already updated his Twitter emoji and Snapchatted a selfie wearing a black Reds hat over the weekend.

Merry Christmas everyone! Thank you to all my friends in the blogosphere and on Twitter that have traded cards and communicated with me in 2018. I’m looking forward to a great 2019 on the field and on the blog!

1986 Fleer is bland

I tried coming up with a witty title, but I just couldn’t do it. 1986 Fleer is so bland it caused my brain to freeze up when I tried to be creative. So there you have it. 1986 Fleer is bland. That’s not to say it isn’t without its charm.

McGaffigan bunting

Look at that. A pitcher at the plate. Bunting. How quaint. Andy McGaffigan spent time with the Yankees, Giants, and Expos before coming to the Reds in 1984. By the time this card was released, he was back in Montreal.

Want to see another charming card?

Rose and Gooden

How about a fella nearing the end of his amazing career, and another just starting what many thought would be equally amazing? Pete Rose eclipsed Ty Cobb‘s hits record in 1985, and Dwight Gooden became the youngest pitcher ever to win twenty games in a season. If you didn’t know those two facts, you can just flip the card over…

Rose and Gooden

…and BOOM! Knowledge. Ironically, I don’t think Fleer used the word ironically correctly.

Fleer was very busy in 1986. In addition to the regular base set, there were at least six boxed sets that included Reds. The bland brand released their third Update set at the end of the year, which included rookies Kurt Stillwell and Tracy Jones and veterans Bill Gullickson and John Denny. They also released a 120-card mini set which was not a parallel of base set cards but featured different photos. What a novel idea.

Then there was the 132-card Star Sticker set. I actually bought a wax box of these a few years ago and had a blast ripping the packs, but fell 32 cards short on completing the entire set.

Browning

Tom Browning popped up in a lot of 1986 sets, and for good reason. His 1985 rookie campaign was overshadowed by the St. Louis speedster Vince Coleman, but Browning was the first rookie since the 1960s to win 20 games in a season. Not Dwight Gooden. Tom Browning. And no rookie pitcher has done it since. I realize wins are not really in vogue when talking about pitcher stats, but 20 wins is still a big deal in my mind. Coleman captured all 24 first-place votes for 1985 Rookie of the Year, and I have to admit that I’m a little perturbed at the Cincinnati BBWAA voters for that.

Fleer also released a handful of smaller box sets. I do not have any of the 1986 Fleer League Leaders cards, and I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen one in person. There are two Reds in the set, Dave Parker and Pete Rose. The relatively new List of Fisk blog breaks down Carlton Fisk‘s card in the set.

Another box set was called “Limited Edition.”

Limited Edition

How limited, you ask? Probably not very. It was 1986 after all and this set is not terribly difficult to track down 32 years later. Again, there are two Reds in the set and again, it’s Parker and Rose. I haven’t gone to the trouble of finding the Rose card yet and I have no idea how long Parker has been in my collection.

Another box set was Fleer’s “Baseball’s Best” (but usually listed in price guides as “Sluggers/Pitchers”). Again, 44 cards.

Soto

Parker didn’t make the cut for this set, but Rose did, even though he could hardly be called a “Slugger.” Browning and Mario Soto were included among the pitchers. I like this particular set because of the consistency of it. Fleer released this set from 1986 through 1988 with the border being the only major change in the design.

Two other 1986 Fleer Reds cards I don’t have were inserts into packs: “Future Hall of Famers” (Rose) and “All-Stars” (Parker). Both of these inserts are more attractive than the base set design. Which isn’t saying a whole lot, because, you know, 1986 Fleer is bland.

Before Upper Deck, these cards were the “premium” brand

Donruss was ahead of its time in 1986. Topps was for the traditional collectors. Fleer was a little harder to find than Topps, but at the time seemed a bit bland. Donruss, though…

Runnells 1986 Donruss

Look at those blue and black stripes! And the slanted name! I don’t care that I’ve never heard of Tom Runnells, these cards were fancy and futuristic!

Am I the only one that felt this way?

I remember going to a baseball card and comic book show somewhere in Ohio, maybe Dayton or Columbus, with a friend in 1986. It was a long car ride, and I didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend. I spied a 1986 Donruss Dwight Gooden card, and the dealer priced it at $3 if memory serves. $3 for a non-rookie card. Nothing released by Topps approached that! You could get Topps packs at the convenience store or gas station, but Donruss? Not a chance! Packs were more expensive, and singles were more expensive, because they were not as readily available as Topps.

I didn’t buy the Gooden card. I have no clue what I did end up buying on that trip, if anything. It was a long time before I acquired many 1984-1986 Donruss cards. I now own most of them, missing only a handful from 1984 (Dave Concepcion Diamond King and the Johnny Bench/Carl Yastrzemski special) and 1986 (Ted Power and Max Venable). They still look futuristic compared to their contemporaries. Of course, the price has dropped considerably on most of those cards, and with the internet, they are easy to obtain on the cheap. Still there is something about them that is timeless.

Topps and Fleer released update sets at the end of the year to showcase veterans that changed teams and rookies. Donruss didn’t care about traded players, but they certainly cared about rookies. Young up-and-coming players who were sure-fire future Hall of Famers like Jose Canseco and Bo Jackson were a hot commodity and Donruss needed to cash in! There was only one Cincinnati player featured in the green-and-black striped 1986 Donruss Rookies set, and it wasn’t Barry Larkin. Tracy Jones was the can’t-miss rookie in the Queen City. But boy, did he ever miss.

1986 Donruss Rookies Jones

Donruss also released a set called “Highlights” featuring gold and black stripes. Monthly award winners, Hall of Fame selections, MVPs, Rookies of the Year, and Cy Young pitchers were all included, as well as record breakers and other newsworthy events. Bill Gullickson, Ernie Lombardi, and Eric Davis all scored cards in the Highlights set. This set seems to have been produced in greater quantities and can often be found for a buck or two.

1986 Donruss Highlights Gullickson

Finally, we have the Donruss version of O-Pee-Chee. Leaf cards were the Canadian version of Donruss and were produced from 1985 through 1988 with a smaller checklist. Reds catcher Bo Diaz is one of only eight “regular” Reds cards that made it into the Leaf set.

Diaz

Donruss also released a set of supersized All-Star cards in 1986 that were as big as two regular cards placed side-by-side. According to my wantlist, I have the Pete Rose card but I’m missing Dave Parker. I think I do have Parker also, but those cards are still in a shoebox somewhere and I’m not supposed to bend over right now because I’m still recovering from back surgery I had in September.

Goodbye, Wayne Krenchicki

(September 17, 1954 – October 16, 2018)

Krenchicki

Former Reds infielder Wayne Krenchicki passed away Tuesday at the age of 64. He also played for the Orioles, Tigers, and Expos, as well as the Senior Professional Baseball League, and went on to manage in the minor leagues.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Eddie Milner

On Monday, I said Leon Durham was the last Reds “fun card” from the 1988 roster. Guess what? I was wrong.

Milner

The late Eddie Milner was a 21st round draft pick for the Reds in 1976. He clawed his way to the major leagues, debuting in 1980. He only played a handful of games in 1980 and 1981, but by 1982 he was a mainstay on the roster. Sadly, Milner battled substance abuse during his time in the bigs. In 1987, Cincinnati traded the outfielder to the Giants for Frank Williams and a couple of minor leaguers. He only stayed in San Francisco for a year, and signed with the Reds again in 1988. He collected nine hits in 51 at-bats during his final big league season.

Milner

Is that it? Did I include everyone from the Reds 1988 roster? I think the only player left out is Pat Pacillo, who had a Reds card and was traded to the Expos with Tracy Jones, but never appeared in a big league game for Montreal. Since Topps didn’t make “Pro Debut” cards in 1988, I think I’m safe in excluding him from this series. Which means I’m done!

I love the 1988 design and intend to do more with it at some point. After all, there are always “Music Fun Cards” that can be made!

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Pat Perry

Perry

Pat Perry came to the Reds in late 1987 for the infamous “player to be named later.” In this case, Scott Terry was the later-named baller. Perry was with the Reds for less than a season, however, as he was sent to the Cubs in exchange for Leon Durham.

Perry

And with that, I thought I was finished with the 1988 Reds roster. But I was wrong, once again. One final card (?) tomorrow…

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