I opened my mail today. It actually arrived yesterday, or maybe Friday…I kind of lose track of time when I’m working. Bill…bill…junk mail…city newsletter…PWE with a strange Ohio address…wait, what? I didn’t recognize the return address or the sender, so I knew it wasn’t an eBay purchase. But a friend on Twitter asked for my address not long ago…I wonder?
I ripped the envelope open and the Joe Morgan card pictured above fell out. I shot a message off to @jklongwith, and sure enough he arranged for the card’s arrival. Jason and I have been friends on Twitter for a while, we are brothers in Christ, and I even got to meet him in person about a month ago at a youth rally in Lexington. He truly is one of the good guys in the hobby. I know, there are a lot of good guys, because this is a great hobby!
This is my first 1973 Kellogg’s card and a great early Reds card for “The Little General.” I’m glad to have it in my Reds collection. Thank you, Jason, for thinking of me!
Joe Morgan only went to two All-Star Games during his first stint with Houston in the 1960s and early 1970s. Once he arrived in Cincinnati, though, he never missed the mid-season appointment. From 1972 to 1978, “The Little General” started at second base for the National League, and in 1979 he was named as a reserve. After leaving the Reds in 1980, he never made another All-Star team. Coincidence?
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.
I’ve been following @battlinbucs on Twitter for a few weeks now, and let me tell you, for a Pirates fan he is a pretty creative guy. I love his #DocumentaryNOW cards which merge the UD Documentary and Topps NOW concepts. Today he blogged about an alternate reality 1974 Topps card, using mockups he discovered on The Topps Archive blog. Last month, he covered a possible alternate 1972 design.
I have always loved alternate reality. So I’m taking a stab at a possible alternate 1977 design, using the same grainy black & white image that inspired Mark’s 1972 alt-customs.
Joe Morgan was at the top of his game in the mid-1970s, with two straight NL MVP titles during the Big Red Machine’s back-to-back World Series victories. The original mockup used a batting photo, but I decided to go with a fielding shot of the five-time Gold Glove second baseman. As Mark pointed out, since the source material was black & white, I had no idea what colors to use. Topps used green in the small banner on the real 1977s, so I stuck with that for the big banner here. Obviously the hat has to be red for the Reds, and I thought the yellow team name contrasted well with the green banner.
This is a fun exercise. I would love to see Topps use some of these old alt-designs as an insert in Archives. I’m sure they have other mockups in their vault that have not yet seen the light of day.
Thanks for the inspiration, Mark!
On a personal note, I found out a few hours ago that an uncle passed away earlier this afternoon. I’m stuck at work, and baseball is a good distraction for me. But more than baseball, I’m thankful for my church family and the prayers they are sending up on behalf of my family. If you are ever in the northern Kentucky/greater Cincinnati area, please worship with the Point Pleasant church of Christ. I would love to meet you face-to-face.
Jay Jaffe developed a ranking system that utilizes both career WAR and a player’s seven-year peak WAR. His system, called JAWS, ranks Joe Morgan as the fourth-best second baseman of all-time, behind Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, and Nap Lajoie. A lot of people don’t realize that Morgan spent several season with the Houston Colt .45’s/Astros before coming to the Reds in 1972. He was twice an All-Star in Houston, but the The Little General found true success in Cincinnati. As a member of the Reds from 1972-1979, Morgan was named to the All-Star team every year and won back-to-back MVPs as Cincinnati won back-to-back World Championships in 1975 and 1976. Despite all of his awesomeness, there were 81 BBWAA voters who did not think he was deserving of a spot in Cooperstown his first year on the ballot. Fortunately, he still received 81.8% support, so he cleared the 75% threshold and was inducted alongside Jim Palmer.
SSPC occasionally made questionable decisions in their photo selections. They showed Ralph Kiner with the Indians rather than the Pirates, and Frank Robinson with the Dodgers rather than the Reds or Orioles. I decided to have a little fun and use a picture of Morgan with Oakland as an alternative to the more logical Cincinnati card. Consider this a “fun card” SP.
I love blind trades. I sent a handful of Tampa Bay Rays cards to @JDaniel2033, a Twitter friend in Indianapolis, and he sent back a handful of Reds. Lots of Barry Larkin and Hal Morris cards, Jose Rijo, and Hall of Famer Tony Perez were included among them. But he also sent a vintage Reds card that I needed:
Former Reds outfielder Bernie Carbo (who also played for the Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers, Pirates, and Indians).
But he didn’t stop there. He also sent me a non-Reds card from 1972…
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan!
There are a few players that are always welcome in my collection, whether they are wearing Reds uniforms or not, and that includes any of the Big Red Machine’s Great Eight.
Thank you for the awesome cards @JDaniel2033, and I will certainly be sending some more Rays your way whenever I come across them!
Alright, so technically these are not 2015 Reds…but it is certainly a 2015 highlight for this dismal Reds season. Announced before the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati on Tuesday, Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Barry Larkin, along with should-be Hall of Famer Pete Rose, took the field to a thunderous ovation as the Franchise Four of the Cincinnati Reds.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for Tuesday’s festivities. I have to say, if you ever get a chance to attend the MLB All-Star Game, it is worth it. I had an amazing night.
Happy Birthday to Hall of Famer Joe Morgan! The second baseman was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. Ten times an All-Star, twice the NL MVP, and a major part of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, Morgan also played for the Houston Colt .45s/Astros, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland A’s. He finished his career with 268 home runs, the most by any second baseman in history at the time. That record has since been broken by Ryne Sandberg and Jeff Kent.
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…
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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…
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…
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!