In Honor of the WBC… 2015 Stars and Stripes

The 2017 World Baseball Classic is underway!

 

That got me thinking about the most recent Team USA set, 2015 Stars and Stripes from Panini.  The 100 card base set is absolutely loaded!  Players like Alex Bregman, Blake Swihart, Cory Seager, Dansby Swanson, Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto, and Trea Turner are just some of the names in here.  Like all Panini sets, there are also a ton of autos, relics, and auto relics to collect for those that are interested.  For me though, the base set was enough.

Enjoy!

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Minor League Monday: 1985 Utica Blue Sox

The Utica Blue Sox were an independent team playing in the New York-Penn League back in 1985.  They won 35 games and lost 41 for a .461 winning percentage.  Good enough for 2nd place in the standings.  The Blue Sox were managed by Ken Brett, George’s brother. He had played for 10 different teams over 14 seasons in the majors. The 1985 team had three players who eventually made it to the major leagues: Esteban Beltre, Sergio Valdez, and one of my favorites, Larry Walker.

Larry Walker made his MLB debut in 1989 and ended up playing 17 seasons in the majors (Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals).  He won the 1997 MVP while with the Rockies by batting .366 with 49 HRS and 130 RBI’s.  He slugged an outrageous .720 that season, had a .452 OBP and a massive OPS of 1.172.  For his career, he ended up winning 3 batting titles, 7 Gold Gloves, and played in 5 All-Star games.

The 1985 Utica Blue Sox set is where you will find his 1st card…

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Oddball Set of the Month: 1986 Fleer Baseball’s Best

The 1986 Fleer Baseball’s Best set was one of many mini boxed sets that came out in the mid to late 1980’s.  Topps may have started the fad with their infamous K-Mart set in 1982, but Fleer soon became the unofficial “King of the Boxed Sets”.  They pumped out a bunch of very forgettable sets in a span of only -a couple of years.  The 1986 Baseball’s Best set stands out for a couple of reasons.  One reason is it actually has a nice design.  The other reason is the list of rookie cards in the set.

The 1986 Baseball’s Best set is composed of 22 Hitters and 22 Pitchers.  Of the 44 total cards, 17 are now Hall of Famers.  The set also includes rookie cards of Wally Joyner, Jose Canseco, Will Clark, and Bobby Witt.  Overall, it’s a fun little set that holds plenty of nostalgia for guys like me.  For the price though, I think everyone should have a set.

Take a look and judge for yourself…

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Minor League Monday: 1986 Southern League All-Stars

Here’s a great set to start off the week!  The 1986 Southern League All-Stars set is a who’s who of late 1980’s rookies.  There’s even one recent Hall of Famer in the set.

The biggest names are Mark McGwire, Bo Jackson, Jose Canseco, and HoFer Tom Glavine.  Other players who went on to have a career are Billy Ripken, Ron Karkovice, Terry Steinbach (mispelled “Steinback”), Glenallen Hill, Todd Burns, and Gary Thurman.  There’s even a card of Carl Yastrzemski’s son, Mike Yastrzemski.

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For $10-$20, I think this set is well worth it.  Any collector who is a fan of the 1980’s and 1990’s should have one of these.

1993 Studio – Part 1

The 1990’s were a great time to collect baseball cards.  Some great sets were released at the time.  In fact, most of my favorite sets came out during that decade.  One of those favorites is the 1993 Studio set.

The Studio line was originally produced by Donruss/Leaf from 1991 to 1998.  Then, the Studio name was brought  back in 2001 by Donruss-Playoff.  They continued making Studio sets until 2005.

The 1993 Studio set is made up of 220 cards (218 players & 2 checklists).  Of those 218 players, 26 are now Hall of Famers.  The cards themselves are composed of a profile photo in front of a large colorful team logo.  The fronts have a “holographic foil” facsimile signature.  Usually NOT a fan of fake sigs, but to me, these work extremely well and really add to the look.

I’m going to split this set up into three posts because there are so many cards in the set (25 sheets worth).  So, if you’re not familiar with the set, take a look at the first eight pages below.  I’ll post eight more pages tomorrow and finish the set off on Saturday.

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My 2017 Spring Training TTM List

Last season, I introduced my son to the joys of collecting autographs Through The Mail (TTM).  We got a bit of a late start though, not sending out our first batch until early May.  We hit the Major Leaguers hard with mixed results.  We got a few big names like Adrian Beltre and Todd Frazier.  We also got a few front office folks like Dan Duquette (Orioles GM), Larry Luchino (Red Sox), and Dave Dombrowski (Red Sox).  We even got the commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred.  Most of our returns came from minor leaguers (which is cool with me!).  We got amazing responses from the Daytona Tortugas, Cedar Rapids Kernals, and the Fort Wayne Tin Caps.

Overall, we did pretty well with the total number of autos we got back but I couldn’t help feeling like we missed out by not starting earlier.  Spring Training has the reputation as being a great time to get autos.  It makes sense, players are more laid back and have more time so they sign more.  Now, I’ve never tried sending out letters to Spring Training so I don’t know if it’s true or not.  Either way, we were not going to miss out this season.

I sent out our last batch this morning.  Here is the complete list, when they went out, and how many cards went to each…

2/10 (31 Letters)

Matt Barnes (2), Craig Kimbrel (2), Henry Owens (2), Drew Pomeranz (2), Rick Porcello (2), David Price (2), Noe Ramirez (2), Eduardo Rodriguez (2), Chris Sale (2), Carson Smith (2), Steven Wright (2), Sandy Leon (1), Christian Vazquez (2), Xander Bogaerts (2), Marco Hernandez (1), Deven Marrero (2), Mitch Moreland (2), Dustin Pedroia (2), Hanley Ramirez (2), Andrew Benintendi (2), Mookie Betts (2), Jackie Bradley JR (2), Bryce Brentz (2), Brock Holt (2), Blake Swihart (2), Chris Young (2), Sam Travis (2), Adrian Beltre (2), Todd Frazier (2), Clayton Kershaw (1), Aaron Nola (2)

2/15 (10)

Leonys Martin (2), Steve Cishek (2), Colin Rea (2), Wil Myers (2), DJ LeMahieu (2), Charlie Blackmon (2), Joe Smith (2), Kevin Pillar (2), Marco Estrada (2), Roberto Osuna (2)

2/16 (17)

Luke Maile (2), Brad Miller (2), Sonny Gray (2), Trea Turner (2), Jake Lamb (2), CJ Cron (2), Hector Santiago (2), Jonathan Villar (2), Anthony DeSclafani (2), Joey Votto (2), Luke Gregerson (2), Jose Altuve (2), JA Happ (2), Francisco Lindor (2), Freddie Freeman (2),  Byron Buxton (2), Keon Broxton (2)

2/17 (10)

Aaron Altherr (2), Stephen Piscotty (2), Kris Bryant (2), Travis Jankowski (2), Jay Bruce (2), Drew Smyly (2), Jake Odorizzi (2), Alex Cobb (2), JT Realmuto (2), Max Kepler (2)

2/18 (14)

Zach Britton (2), Cory Seager (2), Jorge Soler (2), Gerrit Cole (2), Kris Davis (2), Sean Doolittle (2), Justin Smoak (2), Mike Trout (2), Huston Street (2), Ben Revere (2), Jon Gray (2), Nolan Arenado (2), Matt Harvey (2)

2/21 (10)

Aaron sanchez (2), Brandon Finnegan (2), Brandon Drury (2), Kole Calhoun (2), Nick Hundley (2), Brad Boxberger (2), Justin Bour (2), Joey Gallo (2), Randal Grichuk (2), Mark McGwire (2)

That’s it!  My list of the 92 TTM letters that we sent out.  I went for some of the big names too.  Why not?  For the cost of two stamps, two envelopes, and two cards it’s worth it… you never know.  Obviously, I’m not expecting replies from them all but that’s what makes it such a fun hobby.  There is always a chance.

So right now, we are done.  No more Spring Training letters.  Maybe a few will go out to some retired players.   But for now, I need to rest my poor hand and restock my stamp supply because it won’t be long before the minor league sets start shipping.

Taking a Look at 2003 Flair Greats

I have a soft spot for “All-Time Greats” sets.  Maybe it’s the black & white photos, maybe it’s seeing cards of players who played long before I was born.  Who knows?

One of my favorites is the 2003 Flair Greats set.  Fleer used the same design for this set as they used for the 2002 Flair set.  This set is made up of 133 cards.  Cards 1-95 are loaded with some of the biggest names who ever played.  Cards 96-133 are made up of regional “Home Team” cards from five teams: Red Sox  (#96-102), Dodgers (#103-110), Giants (#111-117), Yankees (#118-125), and Cardinals (#126-133).

Like all Flair cards, they are nice and thick.  They feel like high quality cards.  Take a look below at cards #1-95.  You’ll see some pics that you may not have seen before…

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