Tuesday, September 22, 2015

To Catch a Thief

Recently I received a PWE from Jeremy, a reader of my blog and a trade partner.   What I found in the envelope was Jeremy's first ever historical collection.  As I look through the cards, I noted that there was a stack of about ten different cards of catchers.  I didn't have a clue about the historical content of the package. 
In an email received later from Jeremy, he reported that the catchers were part of his special historical collection.  He had researched the catchers who Rickey Henderson stole the most bases on, and he found cards of those catchers he most frequently stole on. 
The Thief
Topps 2000 Rickey Henderson 20th Century Best Card #233
Rickey Henderson, regarded as the baseball's greatest leadoff hitter and base stealer, played for nine Major League nine teams from 1979 to 2003, including four stints with the A's. Henderson holds the major league records for career stolen bases, runs, unintentional walks, and leadoff home runs. 
In 1990, while playing for the A's, Henderson was named the American League Most Valuable Player. He was the leadoff batter for two World Series champions, the 1989 A's and the 1993 Blue Jays. He was 12-time American League stolen base champion, and lead the American League in runs scored five times. Henderson was also a ten-time All-Star and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2009, on his first ballot appearance.
Henderson holds the single-season record for stolen bases (130 in 1982) and is the only player in American League history to steal 100 bases in a season, having done that three times. His 1,406 career steals is 50% higher than the previous record of 938 held by Cardinal outfielder, Lou Brock.
Catch me if you can
In our trade, Jeremy sent me cards of those catchers who Henderson stole the most bases on.  He found cards of the top ten catchers who Henderson stole on and he was able to find a card of each of them in their catchers gear.
The list of those Henderson pilfered includes:
1.  Jim Sundberg (54 times) 
1982 Donruss Jim Sundberg Card #268
Sundberg ranks 3rd with catchers who caught Henderson the most (13 times).
2.  Ernie Whitt (48 times) 
1989 Upper Deck Ernie Whitt Card #118
Whitt ranks 5th with catchers who caught Henderson the most (10 times).
3.  Carlton Fisk (43 times)
1988 Donruss Carlton Fisk Card #260
Fisk ranks 4th with catchers who caught Henderson the most (11 times).
Tied for 4th. Butch Wynegar (37 times) 
Topps 1980 Butch Wynegar Card #304
Wynegar is tied for 7th with catchers who caught Henderson the most (7 times).
Tied for 4th.  Rick Dempsey (37 times)  
Topps 1983 Rick Dempsey Card #138
Dempsey is tied for 7th with catchers who caught Henderson the most (7 times).
Tied for 6th.  Brian Harper (36 times)
Leaf 1992 Brian Harper Card #131

 Tied for 6th.  Lance Parrish (36 times) 
Topps 1987 Lance Parrish Card #791
Parrish ranks 1st with catchers who caught Henderson the most (17 times).
8.  Rich Gedman (33 times)
1988 Fleer Rich Gedman #353
Gedman ranks 6th with catchers who caught Henderson the most (11 times).
9.  John Wathan  (32 times)
Topps 1983 John Wathan 1982 Record Breaker Card #6
This card of Wathan is celebrating his record breaking season of the stolen base standard for catchers, when he stole 31 bases in 1982.  He broke the record of 30 steals established in 1916 by White Sox's backstop Ray Schalk.  Wathan record still stands today.
10. Ron Hassey (29 times)
Topps 1991 Ron Hassey Card #327

Hassey was Henderson's teammate with the A's when they won three consecutive American League Pennants (1988 - 1990) and on the 1989 World Championship team.
For his career, Henderson attempted to steal on more than 240 different catchers.

Here is a link to an article about those catchers Henderson attempted to steal on.

Catchers Rickey Henderson attempted to steal on

Monday, September 14, 2015

Saturday in the Park - Bumgarner near perfect

On Saturday night, I went to San Francisco and attended the Giants and Padres game with my daughter and son-in-law.  This was the second time that I've attended a game at AT&T Park.  The last time I was there, was in 2003, when the ball field was called SBC Park.   We arrived at the game early as we wanted to watch batting practice.  We got the chance to watch the Padres batting practice.    When a ball was hit into the stands, it seemed like adults were scrambling after the balls, and I believe that they would have bullied over anyone in an effort to get to a ball.
Our seats were in right field.  During batting practice, as kids stood around hoping that a ball would be hit to them, no ball came close to being hit near our seats.  However, one of the Padres players standing in the outfield tossed a ball to kids into the area.  It was cool to see how excited these children were as the held on their treasures.  The joy of these unforgettable moments were documented by photographs taken by parents.  This was a reminder to me that baseball is a kids game and how important it is to share the game with them and teach them to enjoy it.   The Padres player who tossed the ball into the stands was wearing a warm up jacket so I didn't know who it was.  I wish that I could have thank him personally and I also wish he could have seen how happy those kids were when they held into his and her ball.
We were fortunate to attend a great game.  That night Madison Bumgarner pitched a one hitter.
Bumgarner about to delivery a pitch early in the game.

Bumgarner had a perfect game going into the 8th inning as he retired the first 23 Padres batters.  The Padres' first hit was a single by pinch hitter Melvin Upton coming with two outs in the 8th inning.  Bumgarner retired the last four Padres batters he faced after Upton's single and he finished the night with nine strikeouts while facing only 28 batters. 
The night of the game there was a Lego promotion.  
The Lego Group had created a life size Buster Posey that people could pose with.
It was nice to go to the game with my daughter and son in law.  My daughter likes Giant rookie infielder Kelby Tomlinson, as she and her husband had a chance to hear Tomlinson speak a few weeks ago.  Tomlinson has been playing second base while subbing in for Joe Panik, who has been out with an injury.  Saturday night, Tomlinson had two hits in four at bats, with a triple and an RBI, lifting his seasons batting average to .306.  He also made a fine play in the field during the 7th inning to keep Bumgarner's perfecto intact. 
Kelby Tomlinson looking at a pitch
Brandon Belt homered in the 7th inning.  Where our seats were, in right center field, I figured that no ball would be hit near us.  However, Belt "Ruthian" blast landed on a seat just behind us and was snagged by a guy who was sitting five seats from us.
Prior to the game we check out some of the statues of some all time great Giants.
Willie McCovey at McCovey Cove

Juan Marichal

Willie Mays at Willie Mays Plaza
I missed out on the Orlando Cepada statue.
We also stopped at a Baseball card shop in Rohnert Park and I acquired a few vintage cards.  I paid a dollar each for a Al Lopez card and a Rocky Colavito card.
Topps 1960 Al Lopez Card #222

Topps 1965 Rocky Colavito Card #380
On the drive home, we stopped in Santa Rosa, and I got a picture of my daughter with a life size Charlie Brown.  Santa Rosa was hometown of Peanuts creator, Charles Shultz. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Topps 2015 for Trade

Recently I sorted my singles for the Topps 2015 base set.  I had bought a box of jumbo packs for both the first and second series and then a couple of weeks ago, I got some repacks of singles from the set. 

After sorting the cards I created a want list of the cards I need to complete the set.  I am wondering if anyone out there is interested in making a trade.  I've also listed my doubles so you can review the list to see if there are any cards you would like to get in a trade.

When I was sorting these cards, I was amazed with the photography.  I've be collecting since the late 60s and can track the evolution of the pictures used on cardboard.  In the late 60s, when I first started to collect, there were no action cards.  In the 2015 set, it seems every card is an action shot.

With cards from the 60s, what you got were posed or head shots.  Sometimes I think I had a connection with the players from those sets, as I became familiar with the player's face, compared to today's cards where there is much more emphasis on the photography of action shots. 

Topps 1968 Ron Willis Card #68

Topps 1968 Dan Schneider Card #57

Come on Topps, who decided to use these pictures.  Is this the best you could do? 
The current Heritage product brings back the head shots.  After thumbing through Heritage cards and sorting the Topps 2015 Series One and Series Two base set cards, I am really starting to appreciate the photos that are used on cards today.  

Topps Heritage 2011 Derek Lowe Card #278

But then there are some of those beautiful vintage cards that can't match the cropped action shots from today.  

Topps 1966 Hank Aaron Card #500
Topps 1968 Card #50

I know that most of these vintage cards are way out of my price range, but I always have enjoyed looking through boxes of them at my local card shop or at shows.

Here are some cards from the 2015 set that I like and an attempt to show similar actions shots from Topps 1970 sets.
You're Safe
Some nice pics of players sliding.

Topps 2015 Gregor Blanco Card #611 

Topps 2015 Yoenis Cespedes Card #120 

Topps 2015 Andre Ethier Card #93 
Then a flying, head first slide.
Topps 2015 Jason Kipnis Card #221
Here are couple cards from 1970 sets of players sliding.  
Topps 1973 Oscar Gamble Card #372

Topps 1974 Gary Matthews Card #386
 Look how small Gamble and Matthews are compared to the size of the players portrayed in the 2015 cards.  They are taking up somewhere between maybe five to ten percent of the card as with the 2015 cards, it seems that the players are taking up almost the entire card.
The play at the plate
Here are a couple of cards from this year of plays at the plate.
Topps 2015 Mike Trout Award Winner Card #510

Topps 2015 J.J. Hardy Card 563
Here are couple plays at the plate from 1970 sets. 
Topps 1971 Thurman Munson Card #5

Topps 1974 Chris Speier Card #392
The Munson card has always been a favorite of mine, as it is sweet shot plus its got a All Star Rookie trophy.  The Speier card isn't cropped as close as the 2015 cards so it shows all the empty seats behind the Phillies bullpen at Candlestick Park.
Diving catches 
Here are some Royal outfielders making diving catches from this year's set.
Topps 2015 Jarrod Dyson Card #570 

Topps 2015 Lorenzo Cain Card #516 

Topps 2015 Alex Gordon Card #456
The issuance of cards of players making diving catches is a new to Topps.  It has been a photo that they have been using more during this century.
Here is a card from the 70s of an outfielder attempting to make a catch.  Not quite a diving catch. 

Topps 1974 Tommie Agee Card #420
This picture from the Topps 1974 set is where Hank Aaron is about to make a catch.  He is probably closer to the infield, about ready to catch a pop up, as he played first base during his last years with the Braves.
Topps 1974 Hank Aaron Card #100
Snow cone catches
Here are a couple sweet snow cone catches from the 2015 set.
Topps 2015 Jackie Bradley Jr. Card #314

Topps 2015 Andrelton Simmons Card #651

Here is an almost snow cone catch from the 1974 set.
Topps 1974 Dave Concepcion Card #435
Great World Series defense
A card from this year's set of Giants Joe Panik starting a double play, while laying on his stomach, during game seven of the 2014 World Series.
Topps 2015 Joe Panik Checklist Card #449
And a card from the Topps 1971 set of Brooks Robinson making another clutch play he made during the 1970 World Series.
Topps 1971 Game 5 from 1970 World Series Card #331
A short video about the 1970 World Series (The Brooks Robinson Series) that the Orioles beat the Reds four games to one.  Robinson, who was the Series MVP, batted .429 (9 hits in 21 at bats) with two homers and six RBI. 
Turning Two
Here is the 2015 Topps card of Gold Glove second baseman DJ LaMahieu turning a double play. 
From the 1974 set, here is Dick Green's card turning a double play.  The LaMahieu card is chopped closer so that he and Alex Gordon take up the entire card

Air Brush Specials
Here are a few air brushed cards from this year's set
Topps 2015 Tyler Clippard Card #546

Topps 2015 Dave Robertson Card #368

Topps 2015 Marcus Semien Card #356

These are three air brush cards from the 70s. 

Topps 1973 Frank Robinson Card #175
Frank Robinson spent only one year playing with the Dodgers, during 1972 and he was traded to the Angels during the winter prior to the 1973 season.   Note that all Topps did on Frank Robinson's Topps 1973 card was air brush out the Dodgers team name on the front of his uniform.  

Topps 1977 Dave Robertson Card #254
As I remember, this Doyle Alexander card was one of Topps first attempt to air brush a player into his team's new uniform.  Topps has come along ways in the last 40 years.
Topps 1977 Tommy Helms Card #402
On this Tommy Helms air brush job from the 1977 set, you can see that the color doesn't really match the A's caps actual color. 
The caps on the Clippard and Semien cards from the 2015 set is not really the kelly green used on A's caps, but Topps got closer than the green used on the Helms card.  And the front of the Robertson card shows his new White Sox uniform and it kinda looks like an actual photo, as Topps attempt with this card is better than just air brushing out the team name, like they did with the Robinson card.
If anyone out there is interested in trading to help me complete my Topps 2015 set, then let's make a deal.