Friday, February 25, 2011

More personal collection stuff: baseball rookies

-Autograph and memorabilia collection
-Baseball certified autographs

Up today in a tour of my PC is my collection of rookie cards.  Many of you will enjoy this because for the most part these don't come from the serial-numbered, quad-game used/autographed printing plate RC era.  A large chunk of these are current or future Hall-of-Famers and some are Detroit Tigers which are near and dear to me.  Please enjoy a look at some great RCs of years past and sets that are now part of baseball card history:

Alan Trammell/Paul Molitor 1978 Topps:  As a young collector, this thing was my baseball card holy grail.  I've always loved the Tigers and Tram was a big part of that, and add to that the fact that Molitor was a star in his own right.  Plus I've always loved these multi-player (especially four player) RCs, as I've said many times.  Back in the days when I was younger (and therefore poorer) and actually had a LCS to go to, this one stared up at me through the glass, taunting me with its way-above-my-allowance price.  But eventually I got ahold of one somehow, and it's been a favorite part of my collection ever since.

Alex Rodriguez 1994 Upper Deck:  This one's lost its luster for me quite a bit due to A-Rod being A-Rod, but it's still a pretty good rookie card of a legendary player, and a nice reminder of better days before his absurd contract, roid rage and acquisition by the hated Yankees.

Barry Larkin 1987 Fleer:  Not exactly a major card and it's from the wayoverproduction era, but a good RC nonetheless from a former Wolverine who should be in the Hall of Fame before long if there's any justice in this world.

Cal Ripken Jr. 1982 Donruss:  the non-multiplayer Ripken RC in my collection.  I still need the Fleer, amazingly, but in the meantime this one's great to have.  The old Oriole logo always looks kind of goofy to me but I still love those old uniforms.

Cal Ripken Jr. 1982 Topps:  Multiplayer RC!  Everybody else always jokes about the other two guys so I'll just say this is one of my favorite cards in my whole collection.

Chipper Jones 1991 Topps:  Larry Wayne's first Topps card.  Yeah it's overproduced, but I really respect what Chipper's done in his career.  To all those that preferred Todd Van Poppel, how'd that work out for you?

Chipper Jones 1991 Upper Deck:  And now, a Jones RC in a Braves uni.  Dude looks like he's about 15 here, but the Top Prospect tag proved to be accurate for once.

2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Curtis Granderson:  I'd be remiss if I didn't include this guy.  Curtis was all business in his best (non-autoed) RC which looks pretty sharp.  The centering is a bit off, but I'm more attached to this one since I pulled it myself.

Dennis Eckersley 1976 Topps:  Eck's one of those guys who played on a bunch of teams, and I'm sure a bunch of younger fans only really remember him for his Oakland years and his tenure as a closer.  But the guy actually started with Cleveland and their ridiculous uniforms.  Almost 200 wins and 400 saves equals a Hall of Fame career, even if you gave up one of the most famous HRs in baseball history.

Dave Winfield 1974 Topps:  What a ridiculously gifted athlete this guy was, drafted by the MLB, NFL, NBA and ABA, American Gladiators, Mt. Olympus and the Avengers.  I think I only made one of those up.  What I'll always remember about Winfield, even though I only saw about half of his career, is that he's the player that always looked like he was holding some kid's Little League bat every time he hit.  A hell of a player and another well-deserved HOF berth.

1977 Topps Dennis Martinez RC:  El Presidente was one of my favorite unsung veteran pitchers during his career.  Dude pitched until he was 43 and won almost 250 games, plus he came within an out of 4000 IP.  That his RC is a multiplayer one that includes a Tiger makes this card that much better.

Derek Jeter 1993 Topps:  Kind of a weird pose and design, this is still the Topps RC of one of the best and least-douchey Yankees of all-time.  The guy has simply been a winner without a ridiculous amount of drama in New York and I respect that.

Derek Jeter 1993 Upper Deck:  Another Jetah RC, another "Top Prospect" promise fulfilled.  But I'll always wonder how his career and Michigan's baseball team would have fared if he had stuck with his commitment to the Wolverines.  The Yanks are forever on my shit list for taking Jeter and Drew Henson away from us, besides the other 5000 reasons.

Don Mattingly 1984 Topps:  Another Yankee?  Well, the guy was a very good player.  I definitely can't see him in the Hall of Fame but he had a nice career and will be remember with many of the Yankee greats.  Now SHAVE THOSE SIDEBURNS! 

1978 Topps Eddie Murray:  Yet another gem from one of my favorite Topps sets ever, Murray was an outstanding player for a number of teams, but none better than one of my favorites, the '83 Orioles that won it all.  3000 hits + 500 HR + 1 ROY + 1 WS = HOF, baby.  What a player.

Gary Carter 1975 Topps:  Apparently one of the few '86 Mets that wasn't a total jackass, Carter was an excellent catcher for many years, so it wasn't surprising when he punched his ticket to Cooperstown a few years ago.  Hooray multiplayer RC with TWO Tigers on it!

George Brett 1975 Topps:  I'll always love Brett for his competitive fire, his baseball skill and being one of the few actually great Royals, so I'm proud to own his RC.  Regarding it being graded (you'll see a couple more before we're done), my brother and I got it that way, at a show I believe, but I'm fairly inclined to free it from its ridiculous prison.  I could rant all day about the ridiculousness of grading, but is it really worth it when the card comes out as a 6?  Keep an eye out for a post where I break my graded cards out in the future....

Jack Morris 1978 Topps:  One of the most deserving pitchers ever to be left out of the Hall of Fame (there's NO arguing that--the guy won everywhere he went, a.k.a. the anti-A-Rod;  All I should have to say is 1991 Game 7 and I've won that debate) and one of the best Tigers pitchers ever.  I love that he shares a card with the guy that Boston just had to trade Jeff Bagwell for, plus a guy with your standard idiotic 70s/80s hair who looks totally high on something.

Jim Palmer 1966 Topps:  Another graded card I should free (who looked at this copy and said "Boy, I sure am glad I'm paying to be told this is a 4/10!"?) Palmer is one of the greatest Orioles ever and another part of my HOF RC collection.  Interesting facts about Palmer, courtesy of Wikipedia:  he never gave up a grand slam (which everyone knows), he never gave up back-to-back HRs (I didn't realize that), and he won three rings and Cy Youngs each, good enough to put him on the All-Century Team. 

Jimmy Rollins 1998 Bowman Chrome:  The 2007 NL MVP, I was happy to see a great player like Rollins win a ring the following year.  Interestingly, Baseball-Reference finds that the player his career most closely resembles so far is Alan Trammell.  That makes me wonder if he'll ever make it to the HOF, but somehow I give him a better shot than Trammell, who's definitely been short-changed.

Joe Carter 1984 Donruss:  This copy is horribly off-center, but I think I picked it up ridiculously cheaply, so I don't really care.  Joe will forever be a part of history for his dramatic World Series HR with the Blue Jays, but even without it he can hang his hat on a great career.  Though he never won any awards and only nabbed a smattering of All-Star appearances, he was a great player on lots of otherwise crappy teams, and I think it's somewhat appropriate that Baseball-Reference finds him most comparable to Dale Murphy

Johnny Bench 1968 Topps:  I barely remember getting this so I was somewhat surprised when I pulled it out to scan it.  The benchmark (sorry, pun definitely not intended) for the game-breaking catcher and a proven winner, Bench deserved no less than 100% of the HOF vote (16 idiots felt otherwise) but the important thing is that he's now there for future fans to wonder at for all time.  Buster Posey's off to a nice start, but he's got a long way to go before people can compare him to Mr. "No Runs, No Drips, No Errors."

Ken Griffey 1974 Topps:  No, I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but those 1970s Reds teams were great, George Sr. was a good player in his own right, and wouldn't you know it, he's on a four-player RC!  Ontiveros isn't related to the player with the same name that pitched for Michigan and had a somewhat disappointing career after being drafted in the second round, but apparently he had a decent career in Japan.

Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck:  Deservedly one of the most iconic cards of all time.  My brother got this for me for my birthday or Christmas one year, actually when it was worth a decent amount more, but I've never cared about the monetary value of this one--it's always been about the cool factor:  Upper Deck card #1, the best RC of the best Mariner ever (and one of the best players never to win a ring) from the first "premium" set, this truly is a legendary card of a legend.  While I'm at it, this is another "Homer at the Bat" card.  I give you Ken Griffey's grotesquely swollen jaw (it's like there's a party in his mouth and everyone's invited!):
But not Steve Sax and his run-in with the law

Kirby Puckett 1985 Topps:  I'm sure everyone has about 5-10 of these (I know I do), but Kirby is one of those players you love because he played like he loved the game and he won while doing it, and that makes this card worth more to me.  Alleged character issues aside, I was saddened when his career was cut short and even more so when he passed away fairly unexpectedly, but I'm glad the Hall of Fame got it right in enshrining this truly great player.

Lance Parrish 1978 Topps:  Don't worry--I'm fully aware this isn't Dale Murphy's RC too--this one is included because Parrish was a significant part of some great Tigers teams in the 80s.  Also, for the purpose of this exercise he's part of a legendary crop of '78 Topps Tigers multiplayer RCs.  It doesn't hurt that the other guys on this card weren't half bad either.

Lou Whitaker 1978 Topps:  Copy what I said above, but change the name and add the fact that Whitaker will go down in history as half of one of the greatest double play combos of all time with Tram.  While I don't harbor any illusions that he should be in the HOF with Trammell, the lack of respect the writers showed him in 2001 was ludicrous.  Regardless, Tigers fans and true baseball aficionados recognize his value to the team.  Interestingly enough, the Tigers drafted his cardmate's son when they grabbed Cale Iorg in 2007.  Garth and his son are Mormons, and Whitaker is a Jehovah's witness, so I'm going to assume Oliver practices Buddhism and Perlozzo is a Hare Krishna.

Mariano Rivera 1992 Bowman:  Last Yankee here?  Check.  Whew.  Anyway, Mo is simply one of the greatest closers of all time, and definitely the best of his era.  His rings and awards speak to that, and I'd say he deserves better than being part of the set featuring rookies in ridiculous outfits, but that's just me.

Mark McGwire 1985 Topps:  I understand this isn't a RC at all, but it's still an iconic card and I got one in a nice trade 5 or 10 years ago with a really cool guy.  No, I don't think he belongs in the Hall at all, but again, I'm placing this card here because it's a major piece of baseball history.  Nuff said.

Mike Piazza 1992 Bowman:  Piazza put up some outstanding numbers during the steroid era, and that probably explains how an 892nd round draft pick became a star (a ton of players did the same, of course), but he was still a very good hitter in his own right, just not necessarily the Hall of Famer he was made out to be for a while.  Still, I'm glad they didn't shoot him in khakis and a plaid shirt or something.  Bonus points for being a paisan!

Nomar Garciaparra 1992 Topps Traded:  Well here's a card that was big for a while and then fell back to earth along with Nomah's career.  Still, I'm glad to have something good to remember Mr. Mia Hamm's career by.

Not pictured:  Homer and the Straw
1979 Topps Ozzie Smith:  Wow, an 8 grade, maybe I should leave this one graded!  Well, we'll see.  Anyway, Ozzie was an awesome SS, and maybe overrated as a player because of it, but I'm cool with him being in the HOF.  The guy won a ring with the Cards in the early 80s and I'm forever grateful that the Tigers didn't have to face him with the Pads in '84.  This is a great place to immortalize one of the top 10 plays in baseball history (which stars about 10 seconds in):
That's simply an amazing play, and if you haven't seen it or couldn't tell, Ozzie goes flying towards the middle trying to field a sure-thing single. He can't glove it because it takes a bad hop, and he's in full-on horizontal mode, so what does he do? Stick up his hand, get up with cat-like reflexes and nail the runner at first. Then he probably yawns and asks for a tough one. Ridiculous.  Ozzie gets bonus coverage here because he was also in "Homer at the Bat":
Still falling in Springfield's Mystery Spot?  If he ever gets out he'll have some great pictures!

Rickey Henderson 1980 Topps:  Rickey thinks this is the greatest RC of all time of the greatest player of all time:  Rickey.  The guy was a crazy personality and a nomad, but he was a winner, and in all seriousness IS one of the best ever, piling up an ungodly number of records.  Say what you will about the myths (and truths) of stupid stuff he's said and done--he's another guy that deserved 100% of the HOF vote (28, count 'em 28 writers were on crack that year).

Robin Yount 1975 Topps Mini:  A good (if tinier) companion for my Brett RC, this is another great rookie of a classic HOFer.  How does 3000 hits, a .342 OBP and two MVPs sound?  I'm sorry that he never won a ring, but a great career takes some of the sting off that.  I love the somewhat Michigan-looking hats from this era, by the way.

Rollie Fingers 1969 Topps:  I'm not sure how much my brother and I paid for this PSA9 Fingers RC, but it's a pretty good one for sure.  His '81 Cy Young/MVP season was amazing, and winning three straight rings sure didn't hurt.  He had to wait a year to gain entry to Cooperstown, but ultimately his similarity to Goose Gossage put him where he belonged.

1983 Fleer Ryne Sandberg:  Ryno!  A Cubs legend, which means he never won a World Series, but he was a great nonetheless and proved it when he squeaked into the Hall in 2005.  A bevy of awards, including the '84 MVP, tons of All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves surely put him over the top.  It's a shame the Cubs couldn't get it done against the Padres in '84, but given their history with the Tigers in the Series maybe it was for the best.  Think the Phils would have at least liked him on their bench in '83?

Tony Gwynn 1983 Fleer:  I love Tony, but I have to say, he gave one of the longest, most detailed HOF speeches ever when I saw him get inducted a few years ago.  I'm pretty sure he recounted every single at-bat by the time he was done.  Anyway, he's one of the greatest hitters ever, and a definite top-10 part of my collection, hence RC #1 appearing here.

1983 Topps Tony Gwynn:  I'm guessing Tony looks disinterested here because he'd rather be taking BP or watching tape than sitting for a picture.

Trevor Hoffman 1992 Bowman:  The Hoff is here because he's your all-time saves leader (601) and that's pretty cool, as is the fact that not one but TWO teams missed out on his greatness--Cincy, then Florida, who took him in the expansion draft and then used him in part to get Gary Sheffield.  I guess that deal ultimately worked out for both teams, which is a plus.  Baseball-Reference likens him to Mo Rivera, so Hoffman should be riding into Cooperstown before long.

Wade Boggs 1983 Fleer:  The last part of a pretty good triumvirate.  I'm no huge fan of Wade but the guy could flat out hit, and I'm glad he finally got his ring, even if it was with the Yanks (which, fortunately, was before they really turned into the ludicrous-spending punks they are today).  Boggs is another player from "Homer at the Bat", and since the Simpsons clips I want are always elusive, here's one of him and Barney arguing about England's greatest Prime Minister in what I think is Italian:

Barney: And I say, England's greatest Prime Minister was Lord Palmerston!
Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!!
Barney: Lord Palmerston!!!
Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!!!! [pokes Barney]
Barney: Okay, you asked for it, bud! [punches him out]
Moe: Yeah, that's showing him, Barney! [scoffing] Pitt the Elder...
Barney: Lord Palmerston!!!! [punches Moe]
--From Homer at the Bat

There you have it, the inaugural class of my favorite baseball RCs.  As with everything else I put up, it took quite a while to scan/crop/optimize/upload the pics and do a brief blurb on each, but it was also lots of fun and I hope at least some of you enjoyed seeing these.  Stay tuned for more personal collection stuff in the future!

As a bonus for all of you that made it this far, We're Talkin' Softball!:


  1. Great post, I still find myself whistling the Talkin' Softball song at work occasionally.

    Extra super bonus points for getting the Krylon reference in there with Johnny Bench.

  2. i kept reading even though you pissed on grading

  3. Great rookie collection. Any chance you have an extra Lou rookie to trade?

  4. Excellent post, congrats on your fine rookie collection

  5. Wow... that is one impressive rookie collection. I might have to go out and find me some of those 1978 Topps rookies... love the four player rookie cards.