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Cards in the mail from GCRL

I love trading baseball cards with other bloggers, especially when neither has any clue what the other is sending. I recently sent GCRL a PWE with a few Dodgers (can’t even remember what exactly I sent now, to be honest). He returned the favor by sending a handful of Reds cards my way.

One card is very timely, as the MLB draft is on everyone’s mind at the moment…


Not only is it a card of Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, it’s also my first 2014 Topps Heritage Reds card. I bought a pack of Heritage not too long ago, but didn’t pull any Reds at all. I was disappointed, but I knew I could flip most of them to other team collectors and would probably get a handful of Reds in return.

The next two come from another set that I didn’t have yet—and actually hadn’t even built a wantlist for yet—2014 Bowman.



If you can’t read the names on the cards because of the infuriating foil, that’s should-be All-Star Johnny Cueto, the ace of the Reds’ staff this year, and second baseman Brandon Phillips, who really doesn’t deserve the midsummer classic this year (unless he gets really hot this month).

There were a handful of other older cards in the envelope, from Aaron Harang to Marcus McBeth, but I’m just going to show one more…1992 Stadium Club Bill Doran. The photo on the front is nothing to get too excited about, but I love the backs of the old Stadium Club cards…


I wish Topps could find a way to work old cards back into their designs, similar to the Turn Back the Clock cards of 1986-1990, or MVP cards of 1975, or even on the back of the card like the old Stadium Club. Yeah, they have Heritage and Archives to bring back the old designs, but they don’t show actual cards from those years.

Thanks for the cards GCRL!

If anyone else would like to be put on my PWE mailing list, I’m building a database of who collects what teams and players. Just send me an e-mail with your favorite teams or players and your mailing address!

Cards in the mail from THE Tim Wallach fan


Whenever I come across a Tim Wallach baseball card, I know what to do with it. No, not throw it away. Just because it’s not “worth anything” to me, doesn’t mean it’s not worth something to someone else…especially this guy. I’ve sent Mr. Stackhouse a few PWEs and he’s good about sending some Reds back my way, even though I never ask for them. (Speaking of sending cards out, I need to get rid of a few more non-Wallach cards. See the bottom of the post for info on how you can help out.)


This package was full of awesome Reds cards that I didn’t have, including three Johnny Bench issues. One was an insert from the current Topps release, 50 Years of the Draft.


These red-bordered cards look really good with Reds players on them, especially Reds players who might end up in the Hall of Fame someday like Joey Votto. Maybe they don’t work for the Padres or Giants, but they absolutely do work for red-themed teams. Perhaps Topps should consider using team colors instead of a white border in the future?


Alright, so the colored borders don’t always work. 1964 isn’t supposed to look like this. But I always enjoy adding Johnny Cueto cards to my collection.


This Jay Bruce is the first of the 1971 minis I have received. I really like them, and the smaller size doesn’t bother me at all like it does other bloggers.

There were a lot of other great cards in the package, from Jack Hannahan to Eric Davis to Chris Sabo to Dave Parker. Thanks for the cards, Mr. Stackhouse!

Now for sending out other non-Wallach cards, if you would like to be added to my list of bloggers to send stuff to, drop me an e-mail with your favorite team and/or player and your address. As finances allow, I would like to start to whittle down my non-Reds collection via PWE send-outs. Even if you think you’re already on my list, send me your details again just to be sure. I won’t mind.

Fun Cards: 2013 Topps “Dangerous”


Imagine yourself as a pitcher in 1975 and 1976. Now imagine yourself visiting Riverfront Stadium to play against the Cincinnati Reds and their dangerous lineup, including Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Johnny Bench. Strike a little bit o’ fear in your heart?

I imagine American League pitchers today have that same fear when facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or whatever they are called now) and the powerful trio of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Mike Trout. Even though Hamilton has struggled so far, I’m confident he will break out soon and the Angels will run away with the American League pennant, only to be shut down by the Reds in the World Series.

Fun Card Submission: 1971 Topps Johnny Bench

No one with any intelligence can deny that Thurman Munson had one of the coolest cards in the 1971 Topps set. TWJ contributor agrees, but also thought Johnny Bench deserved an awesome action shot as well. He sent over a couple of alternatives and told me to post the one I liked best, but I like them both! So…

The horizontal…

1971 Bench

The more traditional vertical…

1971 Bench

Fun Card Submission: 1968 Topps Johnny Bench

1968 Bench

In 1968, Johnny Bench shared a card with fellow Reds rookie Ron Tompkins. Tompkins never actually threw a pitch during the regular season for the Reds; he made his debut in 1965 with the Kansas City Athletics and did not pitch again at the big league level until 1971 with the Cubs. The 1968 card was even Tompkins’ first; he appeared in 1966 on a Kansas City Rookie Stars card with Larry Stahl.

Why should Bench share a card with Tompkins? He shouldn’t! TWJ contributor Patrick sent over the above “fun card” showing the greatest catcher of all-time on his very own rookie card.

This is not the first time a new 1968 version of Bench has surfaced. Cards That Never Were posted one last year, and in 2001 Topps issued a solo card for Bench in the Archives Reserve set.

Tomorrow, I’ll share more from Patrick: a couple of alternatives to Bench’s 1971 Topps card, and on Wednesday a 1972 “In Action” card of Joe Morgan.

Fun Card Submission: 1973 Topps Johnny Bench

1973 Topps Bench

TWJ contributor Patrick sent over an alternate vision for Johnny Bench‘s 1973 Topps card, much like Dick Allen Hall of Fame‘s Mike Schmidt Redux series. In fact, Patrick sent over re-envisioned Bench cards for 1968 and 1971 as well…but you’ll have to wait until next week to see them.

Who is the greatest catcher of all-time?

Bench 2002 Topps

A few weeks ago, I set out on a mission to discover who was the greatest player at each position on the baseball diamond. I decided on a mixture of traditional statistics and modern metrics, threw in a few decimal points here and there, and came up with a system of ranking players. I decided not to include the “steroid” guys, so don’t expect Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, or Ivan Rodriguez to pop up on any of these lists. Over the next several days, I’ll be revealing some of those results, starting today with the backstop.

Berra 1973 Topps

The number one guy on this list was really no surprise to me. Who in the world would doubt that Johnny Bench was the greatest to ever wear the tools of ignorance? His final score was 262.36, taking into account not only his offensive production, but his defensive contributions, awards, and midsummer appearances. Yogi Berra (255.05), Carlton Fisk (233.45), Gary Carter (229.3) and Mike Piazza (223.86) round out the top five in that order (if awards and All-Star seasons are included in the calculations…more on that later), but the big surprise is in the bottom half of the top ten.

Piazza and Gibson

Only three more Hall of Famers appear in the number 6-10 slots: Gabby Hartnett (#7, 204.08), Bill Dickey (#9, 202.25), and Roy Campanella (#10, 189.55). The sixth greatest catcher of all-time is the current Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, Joe Torre. Granted, he was not a career catcher, retiring the gear after the 1970 season and moving to first and third base. Regardless, Torre’s offensive output was impressive, scoring 206.33 in this project.

Simmons 1986 Topps

The eighth greatest catcher of all-time took over catching duties for Torre when he moved to the infield. Ted Simmons hit 248 home runs and drove in 1389 runs over a 21-year career while keeping a .285 average, all pretty impressive numbers for a guy who crouches for a living. How was Simmons rewarded for his work behind the plate? One year on the Hall of Fame ballot, only 17 votes for 3.7%, the year Steve Carlton was ushered in with 95.6%. Is Simmons the most overlooked full-time catcher in history?

Fisk 1988 Fleer

Back to the inclusion of awards and All-Star appearances. About halfway through the project, I decided I was being a bit unfair to old-timers who never had a chance to win an MVP or be invited to the All-Star game. So I made another column that omitted those calculations, and what happened surprised me. Bench still comes out on top, but Berra got knocked down a few notches. In fact, only one player was replaced in the top ten list. Without awards, the top ten is Bench, Fisk, Carter, Berra, Piazza, Simmons, Dickey, Torre, Hartnett, and Lance Parrish. Campanella actually dropped six spots on the list without his three MVP awards and eight All-Star seasons.

So perhaps Parrish is the most underrated backstop in history? I would never personally support Parrish as a Hall of Famer, but the numbers are there to give his supporters some room to argue. In the case of Simmons, however, I believe the Hall of Fame voters should be charged with a passed ball.

Let’s Get Crafty: Bleached Johnny Bench t-shirt

A friend of mine is a big Cincinnati Reds fan, and especially a fan of the greatest catcher of all-time, Johnny Bench. Tomorrow I will be giving him his own bleached Bench t-shirt. I don’t believe he is a reader of the blog, so I feel safe showing it here without ruining the surprise…

bleached Johnny  Bench shirt

I have made several of these bleached t-shirts. My youngest son likes Joey Votto (see that shirt here, and several people have asked for R.A. Dickey shirts (here). I have also done some other non-baseball shirts for myself, including Edgar Allan Poe and Skeletor. If you like what you see, or if you have a special request, send me an e-mail (jasontcarter at gmail dot com) and we’ll try to work something out.

(Note: The white stuff on the right side of the picture is residue from the wax paper that will wash out. It’s not a part of the design.)

Johnny Bench, Mr. Hollywood

He is best known as the greatest catcher in major league history and the host of The Baseball Bunch, but Johnny Bench was also active in Hollywood in the early 1970s. On February 6, 1971, he appeared in “The Catafalque,” a season five episode of Mission Impossible. No, he didn’t play himself; rather, he was “Captain of the Guards.” Check out his entrance starting at 2:40 in the video below.

Bench also made an appearance on an episode of The Partridge Family, airing January 26, 1973. The episode was appropriately titled, “I Left My Heart in Cincinnati,” and was set at King’s Island. Again, Bench didn’t play himself; he played “Would you care for a drink? guy.”

I wonder if ol’ #5 could have made more money in show business than he did in baseball? His top salary was only $400,000 (not including endorsements, signings, and the like).

Retired Numbers: #5

Six (and one likely future) Hall of Famers are among those honored with the retirement uniform #5. We also have our first executive, Carl Barger, whose favorite player was Dimaggio, prompting the Marlins to retire #5 in his honor. There was also one non-Hall of Famer, one of the most tragic stories in sports.

Willard Hershberger, Cincinnati Reds

The backup to Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi, Hershberger was filling in for the injured “Schnozz” in July 1940. After the Reds lost games to inferior teams, Hershberger blamed himself and either said or implied that he would commit suicide like his father. Manager Bill McKenchie spoke with the catcher, and believed he was better at the end of their conversation. The next day, however, he was found dead in the hotel bathtub from a slashed throat.

Following his death, #5 was temporarily retired until 1942. In 1967 the greatest catcher in big league history wore the number, and it was retired permanently in 1986.

Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds

Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles

Carl Barger, Florida Marlins

George Brett, Kansas City Royals

Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers

Jeff Bagwell, Hosuton Astros

Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees

Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians

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