Blog Archives

The kindness of strangers

A reader named Mike contacted me several weeks ago, telling me of a Kurt Stillwell card that he had not seen on my blog. It was a self-issued “testimonial” card, autographed by the former shortstop/second baseman. He also offered a 1988 team-issued postcard, of which I was aware but had not yet obtained for my collection. I sent him a few Stillwell cards he was missing from his collection, and Mike sent these two cards:

Kurt Stillwell baseball cards

But Mike didn’t stop there. He included several other Reds cards, including an autographed Duane Walker 1983 Topps…

walker

…and nearly the entire set of 1990 Best “All-Decade” Cedar Rapids Reds, a set that includes Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Paul O’Neill and several other stars of the 1980s and 1990s Reds teams!

cedarrapids

These cards were unexpected, but very much appreciated. Thank you Mike, for your kindness! I’m on the lookout for more Stillwell cards from your wantlist!

Midsummer memories

ESPN recently published a piece entitled “Midsummer Memories,” prompting their writers and analysts (including former players Barry Larkin, Rick Sutcliffe, and John Kruk) to recall their favorite moments in the All-Star Game. Even fans have their favorite memories.

The first All-Star Game I remember watching was the 1987 affair in Oakland. I had to get special permission to stay at my neighbor Dan’s house to watch the whole game. Eric Davis started in left field; the Reds were also represented by catcher Bo Diaz and relief pitcher John Franco. Ozzie Virgil of the Braves was also named to the team; he was dating one of my sister’s friends at the time and had signed a few cards for me (in ballpoint pen! The horror!). The game itself was an extra-inning pitching contest, finally ending after thirteen innings. Tim Raines drove in Virgil and shortstop Hubie Brooks in the top of the 13th, and the Mets’ Sid Fernandez was awarded the save when he held the AL scoreless in the bottom half.

The next year, the All-Star Game was held in Cincinnati, and the Reds sent Larkin, rookie third baseman Chris Sabo, and pitcher Danny Jackson. I attended the work-out day and Home Run Derby, and let me tell you, it would have been awesome if it actually happened. That was the only time the day-berfore festivities were cancelled due to rain. I was extremely disappointed. I can’t remember who was supposed to appear in the HRD that year; I’m sure Davis was among the sluggers scheduled to participate, along with Darryl Strawberry and Jose Canseco, and maybe Mark McGwire. Our seats were in the top section of Riverfront Stadium, but with the weather, the crowd had thinned out and we were able to sneak down to the field level. We worked our way up to the edge of the field, but I hadn’t brought anything with me for autographs, so I had to settle for a handshake from Astros’ pitcher Bob Knepper, who did not play in the game the next day. Even though the Home Run Derby was rained out, I still enjoyed being in the park and seeing all the players from so many different teams.

What memories will be made tonight? Will Devin Mesoraco hit a home run? Will Todd Frazier make a spectacular dive along the third base line and rob a future Hall of Famer of a sure double?

What are some of your favorite All-Star Game memories?

Four out of five Reds Hall of Fame bobbleheads announced

Sparky Anderson, Jim O’Toole, Eric Davis, and Barry Larkin will be the first four bobbleheads offered to Reds Hall of Fame visitors on select days this season. A photo of the Davis figure was posted on the Reds Hall of Fame Twitter account today…

Davis 44 bobblehead

Pretty nifty, eh?

Become a member of the best team Hall of Fame in the country! Details here!

New acquisitions from the Antique Mall

I love post-Halloween sale prices. I spent most of the day yesterday running from store to store grabbing some creepy odds and ends for next Halloween, including a Scream mask for $1.50 and a cool “Be Afraid” yard sign for $3.00. I was disappointed that some of the stores were still expecting 50%, but Kmart had most items marked down 70% and two Target stores that I hit had already slashed their prices by 90%.

In between those stops, however, I made time for the Florence Antique Mall. This is one of my favorite places to shop for baseball cards because of the decent prices and wide selection of Reds, new and old. I limited my purchases to three oddball items for a whopping fifty cents each…

That’s right, I walked out of the Antique Mall spending only a buck fifty.

The first items is from 1975, the year of my birth, and features the Reds Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan

Joe  Morgan 1975 Hostess

This is the second 1975 Hostess card I have picked up, and both are badly hand-cut. I think that’s part of the charm though.

Next we go to 1981—and it’s another hand-cut item—George Foster from the 1981 All-Star Game Program.

1981 All Star Game Program Insert George  Foster

These things are minuscule. From what I can tell, they were included in the program from 1981-1985, but I’m not sure exactly how player selection was determined. In 1981 there were eight Reds featured in the program, six from 1982-1984, and four in 1985. I wouldn’t really consider these “cards,” but they are listed by Beckett and Beckett knows all. This is my first 1981 issue. The backs are very basic:

1981 All Star Game Program Insert George  Foster

Next we hop to the last time the Reds won the World Series, 1990, and another oddball, not really a card but card-sized in height and width. Eric Davis was the only Red featured in the 1990 edition of Collect-A-Books by Collectors Marketing Corp.

1990 Collect A Books Eric  Davis

I only had a few of these back in the day, and never did pick up any of the Reds. I love the brief information and pictures on the inside pages, but my favorite part of the Collect-A-Books is the cartoon on the back.

1990 Collect a Books Eric  Davis comic

Unfortunately, that “force” was only felt for a short time after the collectible was produced. He was unable to maintain the high level of play he demonstrated in the 1980s, and never played for a world champion again after 1990. He did make a brief comeback in the late 1990s after a struggle with cancer, and had a very productive 1998 with the Baltimore Orioles, but dropped off again the following year and hung it up after the 2001 campaign.

I’m pretty happy with my $1.50 “antique” purchase yesterday.

Cards from GCRL

I recently sent GCRL a few Dodgers and double play cards, and he sent back a few Reds cards. Three I needed, and one I could never have enough off. The latter first…

Davis 1987

1987 Topps Eric Davis. A classic card, a card every kid in Cincinnati owned and wanted more of. Of course, since 1987 Topps was so abundant, it wasn’t difficult to stock up on these puppies. I can just imagine Kal Daniels standing next to Eric the Red, with #44 explaining, “This is a baseball, Kalvoski. If you hit it, they pay you lots of money and the people love you. If you go into a slump, Cincinnati will hate you and demand that you be traded.”

We go next to 1970, and another card crossed off my wantlist…

Jackson 1970

1970 Topps Al Jackson. The famous (infamous?) 1970 set with all the hatless and black-hatted dudes and hideous gray borders. Seriously, who thought this was a nice design? Jackson didn’t play in 1970; his career ended in 1969 after appearing in 33 games for the Redlegs. He also played for the Pirates, Mets, and Cardinals.

The third card looks like 1972, but is actually 2003…

1972 Morgan 2003

2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Joe Morgan. These things are getting more and more difficult to keep up with. You can’t just look at the last year of stats on the back anymore; now you have to get out your magnifying glass and find the copyright date. I love retro cards, but maybe Heritage is enough? I don’t know.

Finally, speaking of retro…

Latos 1990

2013 Topps Archives Mat Latos (1990 style). I’m a 1990 Topps apologist. I think it is the best looking set of that year (not that the competitors were very good). Sure, it could have been better (check out Uncle Doc’s Redefine the Design post), but I liked it back then and I still like it today. I like the color coordination on Latos’ card with the red border. That was probably the thing that bugged me the most. Chris Sabo shouldn’t be on a purple-bordered card. He just shouldn’t.

All in all great selection of cards. Thanks Jim!

Updated wantlists, thanks to Night Owl

I recently sent Night Owl a card of Hideo Video Nomo, and he returned the favor by sending a few Reds cards my way. He also subtly reminded me that I needed to update my wantlists, as three of the cards he sent came from sets that I didn’t have listed yet!

The first card is an upgrade of a card I already had from my birth year: 1975 Topps Bill Plummer.

1975 Plummer

Anytime I get a card as old (or older) than me, it’s a good day. 1975 was such a great year: the baseball card set is one of the all-time greats, the World Series was one of the most memorable (and the Reds won it!), and I was born. How could it be any better?

Then he hit me with an Eric Davis card that I had seen on around the blogs from 2013 Archives.

Davis 1987 Topps 2013 Archives

The card design is 1987, the photo is from 1988 (check out the All-Star Game patch on his sleeve), and the on-deck batter is Paul O’Neill (I’m 99.9% sure of this). I love how Topps decided to use the Tiffany-type cardstock reminiscent of the Traded sets instead of the gray cardboard. When I first saw this card on the blogs, my blood pressure started going up because I remembered how hard it was to get Eric Davis cards in Cincinnati in the 1980s and was worried that it would be just as difficult to track this sucker down. He was cardboard gold. Thanks for sparing me a trip to the doctor, Greg.

Next was a mascot card of Gapper from the 2013 Opening Day series.

2013 Opening Day Gapper

I sometimes wonder if Mr. Redlegs, Rosie, or Mr. Red ever get jealous of Gapper’s Topps contract. I also wonder why the Reds need four mascots.

Finally, N.O. sent me another insert card from 2013 Opening Day, Jay Bruce “Ballpark Fun.”

2013 Opening Day Ballpark Fun Bruce

This is, in my opinion, the proper use of foil on a card. It’s an insert card, a special card, a celebratory card. Normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill cards should not be littered with foil. But for these kinds of cards, go all-out!

My wantlists have been updated, and my new cards have been crossed off. Thanks for the cards, Night Owl, and as soon as I find some more of those “CardToons” Dodgers cards, I’ll send them your way!

Fun Cards Submission: 1984 Topps Eric Davis

Patrick has been supplying me with a lot of great “fun cards,” and I’m going to keep posting them as long as he keeps sending them. I had mentioned to him that I wanted to make a 1984 Topps Eric Davis card, but was having trouble finding photos that would match the earliest part of his career. Not one to disappoint, Patrick sent over a couple of renditions in just a few days.

Eric  Davis 1984 Topps

Eric  Davis 1984 Topps Traded

Both of these cards look fantastic, and I’m tempted to print them out and put them in my Reds binder with the rest of the 1984 Topps cards.

Stay tuned for more great “fun cards” from Patrick…

Fun Cards: 2013 Topps Eric Davis

The 1990 Reds celebrate their extra-inning win in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series. Glenn Braggs is bear-hugging Billy Bates, who scored the winning run on Joe Oliver‘s hit of Dennis Eckersley. Eric Davis, the subject of this card, had grounded out earlier in the inning, but was all smiles as the team still came out on top. I remember this game well, the last World Series game ever played at Riverfront Stadium.

Everything is better in outer space (part 3)

Eric Davis had a very good career. Early on, he appeared to be on a path that would lead to Cooperstown, but injuries derailed those dreams. In the Cincinnati area, his baseball cards were highly desirable, especially his 1985 rookie cards. When you get past the rookie cards, however, there was no better Eric Davis card produced than this:

1991 Fleer ProVisions

That’s right, even Eric Davis is better in outer space.

(I do own a copy of this card, but I’m too lazy to scan it. Thanks checkoutmycards.com for supporting my slothfulness.)

Fun Cards: 2012 Topps Eric Davis

@EricDavis3344 is an unverified Twitter account, but I like to think it’s legit. A true Cincinnati legend, Eric Davis will forever be celebrated in the Queen City.

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