I love making custom cards (or “fun cards,” as I usually call them). Cards that should have been, cards that never were, original designs, slightly modified designs…you name it. It’s a fun way to pass the time. But I have never actually produced these cards. They reside on the internet only, with no physical copies (unless someone printed them off at home).
Some card creators take it a step further, producing highly collectible items. Take, for instance, the When Topps Had (Base)Balls blog. Gio has now produced five series of cards from different eras of America’s greatest game. His most recent offering, “1960 Stars of Baseball,” is a 40-card, 10-sticker set featuring the best players from the 1960 season. There are two Reds cards (Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson) and one sticker (Robinson).
The cards, if left uncut, are quite large. They are reminiscent of the old Post cards from the 1960s, though these are glossy. But if you take scissors to them*…
They are horizontal 3.5 x 2.5 cards…perfect for your standard 9-pocket binder page.
The stickers are also quite nice…
I didn’t measure it, but if I guessed I would say they are probably 1.5 x 1.5 or 1 x 1.
Unfortunately for team collectors, Gio doesn’t sell single cards. So if you want your team’s cards, you have to buy the entire set. I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed seeing cards of a couple guys from 1960 who should be in the Hall of Fame, Ken Boyer and Minnie Minoso.
And there were plenty of other Hall of Famers like Warren Spahn in the lot as well, both in card form and sticker form.
Only 20 sets of “1960 Stars of Baseball” were produced, and the stock is completely sold out. I’m trying to decide whether I should keep the set intact, or sell off most of the non-Reds to team collectors who didn’t have a chance to purchase it. Right this minute, I’m leaning toward keeping it, but I might change my mind tomorrow. I’m willing to listen to any serious offers, though, if you think you can change my mind.
* – I did not actually cut these cards. I may look stupid, and may act stupid, and may be stupid. But I ain’t that stupid.
Some of the hoopla surrounding the Hall of Fame vote has died down now, with three players and three managers all set to be inducted this summer. No doubt these individuals recognize what an honor is being bestowed upon them.
The rules for Hall of Fame balloting has evolved over the years. Currently, a player can stay on the ballot for fifteen years without election as long as he maintains greater than 5% of the vote. This has not always been the case. One player lasted longer on the ballot than fifteen years, while several survived for several years without gaining 5% of the vote.
That said, not many players have lasted fifteen years. One has to be pretty good, but not good enough, to stick around for so long. Jack Morris joined this illustrious group this year, while Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell, and Lee Smith are likely to be added over the next three years (assuming Trammell and Smith continue to receive greater than 5% support).
Below is a list of the players at each position that survived for fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot; their years on the ballot and highest support are indicated in parenthesis. There are a few guys on this list that I believe should be in Cooperstown; Dale Murphy is at the very top of my list, with players like Dave Concepcion, Ken Boyer, and Dave Parker trailing him. It boggles my mind that Murph has been excluded and I hope the Veterans Committee rectifies his omission when his name comes before them. All of these players had fine careers, and this would make a pretty powerful team, even if none of them are in the Hall of Fame.
- Joe Torre* (1983-1997; 22.2% in 1997) [Torre will be inducted as a manager in 2014, but stayed on the ballot for fifteen years as a player]
- Thurman Munson (1981-1995; 15.5% in 1981)
- Elston Howard (1974-1988; 20.7% in 1981)
- Hank Gowdy (1937-1939, 1942, 1945, 1947-1956, 1958, 1960; 35.9% in 1955)
- Steve Garvey (1993-2007; 42.6% in 1995)
- Gil Hodges (1969-1983; 63.4% in 1983)
- Ted Kluszewski (1967-1981; 14.4% in 1977)
- Mickey Vernon (1966-1980; 24.9% in 1980)
- Bobby Thomson** (1966-1979; 2.8% in 1975) [No 2B lasted fifteen years on the ballot without election; Thomson was on the ballot for fourteen years]
- Dave Concepcion (1994-2008; 16.9% in 1998)
- Maury Wills (1978-1992; 40.6% in 1981)
- Al Dark (1966-1980; 18.5% in 1979)
- Ken Boyer (1975-1979, 1985-1994; 25.5% in 1988)
- Dale Murphy (1999-2013; 23.2% in 2000)
- Dave Parker (1997-2011; 24.5% in 1998)
- Minnie Minoso (1969, 1986-1999; 21.1% in 1988)
- Tony Oliva (1982-1996; 47.3% in 1988)
- Curt Flood (1977-1979, 1985-1996; 15.1% in 1996)
- Vada Pinson (1981-1983, 1985-1996; 15.7% in 1988)
- Harvey Kuenn (1977-1991; 39.3% in 1988)
- Roger Maris (1974-1988; 43.1% in 1988)
- Jack Morris (2000-2014; 67.7% in 2013)
- Tommy John (1995-2009; 31.7% in 2009)
- Jim Kaat (1989-2003; 29.6% in 1993)
- Luis Tiant (1988-2002; 30.9% in 1988)
- Mickey Lolich (1985-1999; 25.5% in 1988)
- Roy Face (1976-1990; 18.9% in 1987)
- Don Larsen (1974-1988; 12.3% in 1979)
- Lew Burdette (1973-1987; 24.1% in 1984)
- Don Newcombe (1966-1980; 15.3% in 1980)
- Babe Adams (1937-1939, 1942, 1945-1955; 13.7% in 1947)
This is the one I was most interested in, since third base is the most underrepresented position in Cooperstown. No one should be surprised that Mike Schmidt (307.72) is the greatest third baseman of all-time by a large margin, or that Brooks Robinson (277.18) is the second-best, thanks in large part to his stellar defense. George Brett (262.01), the recently retired Chipper Jones (258.35), Eddie Mathews (244.76), and Wade Boggs (230.68) come in at #3-6. The seventh name on the list is Scott Rolen, and I have to admit I was very surprised to see him so high on the list.
Rolen began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1997 (note: Rookie of the Year is not one of the awards that count toward a player’s ranking in this project). He has driven in 100 runs five times, hit thirty homers thrice, but his biggest asset has been his glove.
After Rolen comes another Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor (222.43), and then two more non-Hall of Famers, Adrian Beltre (221.18) and Graig Nettles (219.86) round out the top ten, just ahead of 2012 inductee Ron Santo (219.3) and 1960s star Ken Boyer (214.23). While there have been steroid suspicions about Beltre, since he has not been specifically named by former teammates or the subject of leaked test results, I have decided to include him in this project.
The reason I was most interested in third base was Buddy Bell (210.83). Bell has such an interesting case, a solid career that went downhill fast after his injury in 1988 and losing the Reds third base job to Chris Sabo. Overshadowed by the vastly superior Schmidt and Brett during his playing days, Bell finished his career with 2514 hits, 201 home runs and 1106 RBI. Once all the numbers are plugged into the spreadsheet, Bell comes in at a very respectable #13. Hall of Fame material? I wouldn’t object, but can’t throw my support behind him either.
Of these eight players, only two were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, and only one of them was first-ballot. Two others gained entrance via the Veterans Committee. A reasonable case can be made for three of the remaining four for Cooperstown.
Larry Doby, Cleveland Indians
I was surprised to find that Doby was not inducted into the Hall of Fame until 1998 by the Veterans Committee. The first black player in the American League, Doby slugged 253 home runs and drove in 970 during a career that was shortened not only by racism, but also by war service. Doby started in the Negro Leagues in 1942, but served in the Navy in 1944 and 1945. He came back to the Negro Leagues in 1946 for one final season before signing with the Cleveland Indians to play in the majors.
Dave Concepcion, Cincinnati Reds
Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs
Gil Hodges, New York Mets
Jim Bunning, Philadelphia Phillies
Jim Rice, Boston Red Sox
Ken Boyer, St. Louis Cardinals
Kent Hrbek, Minnesota Twins