Sep 30, 2011

Jonesin' for the Whiz Kids

A vintage card collector, I am not. Instead I would characterize myself as a fortuitous accumulator of well-cared cards of a bygone era. As a self-proclaimed Phillies collector, you would think that I have wide array of cards from all eras, but that is not actually the case.

I only started my Phillies collection when I started this blog because that's all I thought I'd ever blog little the me of the past can understand the me of the present. Of course, if the me of the present decided to consult with the me of past to influence the me of the future, then the me of the future would feel like he was being teamed up on and try and change the future before he became the present and was moved into the past before his time.

That is to say, it's always refreshing to discover players who had played for the Phillies for a long time before my living memory. Enter the discovery of Willie Jones. He played for the Phillies from 1947-1959, right in the sweet spot of the rise of the Whiz Kids and the development of the golden age of baseball cards. A two-time all-star and probably the best fielding 3rd baseman of the 1950s in the NL who somehow picked up the charming moniker of Puddin' head.

I guess after acquiring the three cards below I will attempt to be a Willie Jones master collector.

1951 Bowman Willie Jones: His facsimile autograph reveals the nickname in all its glory as his portrait is stationed under a light tower of that era.   The uniform is a classic, pin-striped and blue-starred, and is the uniform on which the current Phillies one is based.   This was a commemoration of the Whiz Kid season of 1950 where the Phillies won their 2nd all-time pennant.  Jones chipped in with 100 runs, 25 HR, 88 RBI, and .267/.337/.456 line (108 OPS+) along with league-leading putouts and assists totals at third base.

This card is in the best condition by my eyes; the corners are almost sharp.  There is no paper loss anywhere on the card and it remains frozen in time.
1952 Bowman Willie Jones: The 1952 version of this card is not as memorable looking as the 1951 version.  There is no Puddin' Head mention, and the cap logo barely is visible.    The road uniform is on display here and the stars are red.   Jones did have a letdown from the 1950 season and had probably his best hitting season in 1951. He had 79 runs, 22 HR, 81 RBI and had a .285/.358/.470 line (122 OPS+).  He also led the league in sacrifice hits and it was the only season he didn't finish first in putouts from 1949-1956.
1954 Topps Willie Jones:  The 1954 Topps card showcases Phillies pedestrian team logo of the era.  The two images of Puddin Head are also shown.   It's interesting that the baby blue color that Topps chose would be a prominent part of the Phillies uniform 25 years later.   The 1953 season was his worst to date in his career, hitting .225/.342/.385 (90 OPS+) with 61 Runs, 19 HR, and 70 RBI.  His plate discipline was stellar though, with 82 BB vs 42 K.  As always, he was among the leaders in all the fielding categories for 3rd baseman.

Jones continued playing from the Phillies until 1959 when he took a Piazza like journey to Cincinnati thru Cleveland and then retired early in the 1961 season after his release from the Redlegs.

I guess it's time for me as a present Phillies fan to appreciate a past Phillies' career and start collecting his cards to know their place in team history.

Sep 27, 2011


2008 Topps Ryan Howard #100

For the first time in my lifetime, the Phillies have reached 100 wins.  This is a great cap to the 2011 regular season.   It's unfortunate that they had that mini-tailspin last week, it would have been really memorable to have seen a team with less than 60 losses in a season.Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and company lived up to the preseason expectations and then some.  Let's hope that everyone's ready and wired for the postseason.  I'm definitely wired and that's not necessarily the three glasses of Pepsi I had could be anything really.

Speaking of 100, here's some interesting stats about Topps card #100 through the years.

Players who have appeared more than once as #100 (9)
Albert Pujols (10,11)
Alex Rodriguez (04,00)
Barry Bonds (06, 95)
Mike Schmidt (89, 82)
George Brett (85, 78)
Willie Stargell (75, 74)
Hank Aaron (73, 69)
Bob Gibson (68, 62)
Frank Robinson (72, 67)
Pete Rose (83, 71)

Players who have appeared the year after their MVP season (8)
1977-Joe Morgan
1965-Ken Boyer
1964-Elston Howard
1960-Nellie Fox

Players who have had 300 wins in their career (3)
1958-Early Wynn
1979-Tom Seaver
1986-Nolan Ryan

Players who have had 3000 hits in their career (3)
1971/1983-Pete Rose

1978/1985-George Brett
1981-Rod Carew

Players who have had 500 home runs in their career (9)
1967/1972-Frank Robinson
1969/1973-Hank Aaron
1982/1989-Mike Schmidt
1984-Reggie Jackson
1993-Mark McGwire
1995/2006-Barry Bonds
1996-Frank Thomas
1999-Ken Griffey Jr.
2000/2004-Alex Rodriguez

Player who had lowest amount of wins-1953 Bill Miller-6 wins

The non-player card-1957-League Presidents (Giles and Harridge)

Players who were on teams that moved (3)
1955-Monte Irvin (New York Giants)
1959-Bob Cerv (Kansas City Athletics)
2002-Vladimir Guerrero (Montreal Expos)

Subset Cards (2)
1956-Orioles Team Checklist
1997-Dwight Gooden Season Highlight

What can I say? The number 100 has a certain synergy.  Any other interesting things you can find?

Sep 22, 2011

Trades From the Past: Off the Wall and O No Another Orioles Blog

I am finally posting trades that have accumulated from the dark winter months. By the way, happy autumnal equinox tomorrow. So this means that I'm only three seasons behind now. I think I should catch up shortly. You see the pictures from the previous post? All that is cleaned up and cataloged (more or less). It's nice not to sift through hundreds of cards to find the couple I knew I possibly had. Unfortunately, this means trade stacks weren't as separated as they should be. Welcome to a double dosing of probably two of the best packages I have ever received.   So thank you Ryan from O No!!! Another Orioles Blog and Shane from Off the Wall.  The awesomeness of these cards is now officially acknowledged in the cyberspace realm.

Jim Thome 2004 Leaf Jersey card: Remember when Jim Thome was a great home run hitter for the Phillies?  Remember when he hit his 600th home run?  Still, a great home run hitter.  Also, I really like the size of the jersey piece on this card.
Ryan Howard 2011 Topps Wrapper Redemption: Here is the heir apparent to Jim Thome, who is now 2nd all-time on the Phillies home run list (with 286) barely half of the total of the leader.
Mike Schmidt 1985 Opeechee: which is this guy with 548 HRs.  It's always a nice surprise to see a familiar card with the Canadian logo.
Roy Halladay 2011 Topps Wrapper Redemption: The intimidating visage of the ace of aces overshadowing the black diamond effects.
Roy Halladay 2010 Finest: Finest is a brand I can never find nor find it in my wallet to purchase a box of.  Is there a red refractor in 2010 Finest because it would look luminescent.
Chase Utley 2007 Turkey Red:  This card commerorates the 35 game hitting streak from 2006.  This has been the last streak of 35 or more games in baseball.
Roy Oswalt 2011 Topps Wrapper Redemption: These cards are excellent, too bad they can only be found in the mail.  Oswalt needs to be the pitcher of last year and overcome his back problems.
Steve Carlton 1984 Opeechee: "Lefty"'s transcendant 1972 season is being mentioned again in connection with Justin Verlander's top-notch season.   
Chase Utley 2005 Bowman Heritage:  This line didn't quite take off like Topps Heritage did.  I guess it didn't help that there were two non-color sets (1948, 1953) and a really ugly set (1949).  1992 is retro now, as evidenced by the inserts in 2010 Bowman, so maybe it would be best to skip the 1989-1991 designs as templates in the future.
Pat Burrell 2000 Fleer Tradition Fresh Ink: Pat the Bat....he signed it on the card!
Randy Wolf TTM Signature: Bring back the wolfpack! Except if the Phillies meet the Brewers in the playoffs.
Barry Bonds 1992 Bowman foil:  I have only opened one pack of 1992 Bowman in my life.  These foils fell one per pack.  This now makes me 684 cards from the complete set.
Bob Abreu 1995 Bowman: A Bobby Abreu rookie is very exciting.  I always thought I had this card, but it turned out it was actually a Bartolo Colon from the same set.  1996 me did not have a very good image:name remembrance ratio.
Lance Berkman 1997 Bowman, Magglio Ordonez 1998 Bowman, Aaron Rowand 2000 Bowman: Here are more rookies of memorable players from the Aughts....Berkman is posing with the Astrodome in the background, which is pretty cool.  Magglio was my favorite fantasy player to draft in 2002-2005, no matter how he did...and Rowand had one great catch (against the Mets in 2006) and one great Phillies season (2007).
Jim Eisenreich 1996 Leaf Signature Auto: He was always a favorite when he was on the Phillies.  It helped that he hit .300 in every season while there.  But seriously, he was an upstanding individual in the community.  Also, check out his slash line for his 1996 season (.361/.413/.476)...impresionante.
Ryan Howard 2008 Topps Jersey: And we end the gallery with a Ryan Howard card because he is the linchpin of the Phillies. Though he is not the most valuable statistically, they need him to provide the presence in the middle of the lineup to advance through the playoffs.

There were many more cards....but I can only scan so many.

Thanks for the trades gentlemen, it was a brilliant set of cards you sent me.

Sep 13, 2011

The Sorting....It Has Begun

Let's just say it'll be a busy time over the next few days. I'm going to have to amuse myself by learning how to count to 10 in at least 4 more languages while putting sets in order. And this is why I have trouble getting trade packages out over the past few months.....I haven't been able to find anything. That will now change...

Incidentally, anyone need any inserts from 2011 Topps Series 2? I'm looking to unload a number of duplicates. I'm also looking to find a sitting position that doesn't make my left leg fall asleep.

Behold the carnage....

Sep 10, 2011

Those are the Breaks of the Past: Mid-Year Buck a Box TribeCards Break

A while back, Tribe Cards held a nice little group break involving some not so common as well as recent products.  The Phillies weren't represented in all of them (Topps Coins), but I joined in anticipation of some new cards for the collection.  It did not disappoint.

1987 Sportsflics Juan Samuel: He was a great talent (though flawed) in his day.  One of the first exciting players I remember watching as a kid.   Sportsflics was also a brand for which I had never seen a pack.  For a long time, they were grouped in my collection boxes as "special" cards, which meant anything I didn't find in the annual Beckett guide.
2011 Topps 60 Ryan Howard: Led the league in HRs with team trailing from 2006-2010.  He's done more than that for sure.
2011 Bowman Prospect Jarred Cosart: He's already been sent away in the Hunter Pence deal.  I at least got to see him pitch once live at the Futures game.  He has an amazing curveball, though based on his stats hasn't yet harnessed the command.  We'll see in three years how he turns out.
2011 Bowman Gold Shane Victorino: He has been the best position player on the Phillies this year and has turned into a real force.  I wish these gold parallels would be forced out of the Bowman production run....they were tired by 2002.
1987 Sportsflics Mike Schmidt: Awesome card, that is he approaches his 500th HR that year.
2011 Bowman Finest Futures Domonic Brown: I already touched on him in the last post, but I will say it's almost reassuring that he can brought along so slowly.  When was the last time you heard a prospect was held back too long for the Phillies?  (in 2011, there was Desmond Jennings of the Rays for a suitable comparison)
2011 Bowman's Best Roy Halladay: Dare to dream? Back to Back CYs?  It's debateable.  Anyone else notice that these are nice cards?  They're not spectacularly superpremium like their forebears, but sometimes nice is good enough.

1987 Sportsflics Steve Bedrosian (and others):  One of the few relievers to win the Cy Young award.  My guess (without reading it) is that this is a record breaker card.  Anyone care to guess what the records were?  I definitely know two of them, for the Mattingly, it can also be a record-tying card if that's the one they chose to highlight.

Peanuts!: Lucy, you are the foil to everyone's Charlie Brown (though I still wouldn't pay you a nickel for Psychiatric advice).  Also, would you stop stealing Linus's blanket?  And why do you never just let Charlie Brown kick the football or at least throw it around?  Why don't you try managing the team for once and get a new pitcher?

Glad that's off my conscience....

Sep 6, 2011

Where is Domonic Brown?

Here's Domonic Brown as a Red Hot Rookie Redemption from 2010 Topps.  I'm glad that these aren't a part of the Topps brand anymore.  Filling out redemption cards which are redeemed months later just makes them untimely and at best, disappointing..  Are they even considered rookie cards by the general collecting public?

I've heard he;s had trouble in the minors since being sent down after the Hunter Pence trade (.760 OPS), which is actually comparable to his major league OPS (.728).  Of course, this is significantly better than the production of both Raul Ibanez (.703) and Ben Francisco (.701).

Assuming his confidence isn't broken this year, his production from the left side and overall non-statuesque fielding would be an upgrade over the current left field occupants.  It would be better at the age of 24 to be broken in during the time of September call-ups since a playoff spot is all but assured at this point (seriously...17 games up with 24 to play). 

The questions is whether he would be able to make the playoff roster.  I would rather have Brown on the bench over Ross Gload and John Bowker.  He would make a more compatible platoon with John Mayberry (who has been a pleasant surprise this year) in terms of overall production.  Plus, it would behoove the Phillies to further develop their only major league ready prospect they have for this season.

In a season with so many positives, the fact that I'm semi-griping about this shows there's not much to complain about.  I'm just happy to be a fan of a team with a real shot in October.