Monday, May 30, 2016

1999 Topps #171: Jerry Dipoto, Colorado Rockies, P

     Jerry Dipoto entered into the 1999 season coming off an active year as the Rockies' primary closer the previous year, finishing 51 games in 68 appearance for Colorado.  Dipoto pitched 8 seasons in the majors from 1993-2000 for the Indians, Mets, and Rockies.  After his playing career, Dipoto worked his way up the front office ladder to the General Manager role starting in 2010 for the Diamondbacks, then the Angels, and now the Mariners.

1988 Topps Gallery of Champions Aluminum Set: Mark Langston, Seattle Mariners, P

     Mark Langston earned a spot on one of the 12 engraved metal cards from the 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions set after leading the American League in 1987 with 262 Strikeouts.  The 19-game winner also made his first All-Star team, in addition to winning his first of two consecutive Gold Glove awards in 1987.  Langston pitched a total of 6 seasons for the Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Expos for Hall of Famer Randy Johnson in 1989.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

1988 Topps Gallery of Champions Aluminum Set: Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox, P

     Roger Clemens earned one of the 12 spots on the 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions set after winning his 2nd career Cy Young award in only 4 Major League seasons of play.  In 1987, Clemens led the league with 20 Wins, 18 Complete Games, and 7 Shutouts.  In 1988, he would again lead the league in Complete Games and Shutouts, as well as Strikeouts to earn his 2nd appearance in the All Star game.

Friday, May 27, 2016

1988 Topps Gallery of Champions Aluminum Set: Nolan Ryan, Houston Astros, P

     My first complete set of 12 Gallery of Champions metal cards arrived today.  Featured below is the Strikeout leader of 1987, Nolan Ryan.  As the most affordable of all of the Gallery of Champion sets, I actually purchased two complete sets of 1988 Topps Aluminum variation with my eye on a couple more.  The logic behind this is that I will eventually need a few extra display boxes as my set grows.  All Silver and Bronze GC sets from 1984-1991 come with a fancy display box.  The Aluminum sets didn't start coming with a display box until 1988, so my 1986-1987 sets will need one each.  Also, the 1983-1991 Bronze Premiums and 1984-1991 Pewter Bonuses were released individually and will also need a box for each set.  The final set released in 1995, Legends of the '60s Bronze Medallions, was also released individually each month and will eventually need a box too.  That adds up to about 5 additional display boxes I'll need to store my future collection, and the 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions Aluminum Sets appears to present the most affordable way to acquire those boxes.  It appears like I'll be selling a bunch of Aluminum singles from the 1988 set soon.

1984 Topps Gallery of Champions Bronze Premium: Darryl Strawberry, New York Mets, OF

     This post represents the 1st addition to my metal cards collection.  As a big fan of '80s Topps baseball, I've combed through price guides and the internet in search of set completion.  I've seen these interesting cards occasionally over the years, but never really took a serious look at them until recently.  Why? Who knows?
     The first instance of this run of metal cards started in 1983 with a single issue inserted into cases of Topps Traded sets--Bronze Premiums.  In 1984, a complete set of 12 different metal cards could be purchased in either bronze or silver--Gallery of Immortals/Champions.  Also in 1984, the first Pewter Bonuses were inserted into Topps Tiffany cases (later into Gallery of Champions cases), as well as the 2nd release of the Bronze Premiums shown below.    

     The 1984 Topps Gallery of Champions Darryl Strawberry Bronze Premium could only be obtained through the purchase of a Topps Traded case.  This series--lasting from 1983-1991--could only be found in Bronze, which was in addition to the Gallery of Champions 12-card set.  Unlike the Bronze Premiums, the Pewter Bonuses replicated one card from Gallery of Champions set each year, which in 1984 was Tom Seaver.
     The first three Bronze Premium releases (1983-1985) represented an additional card from the current year's Topps set, while the rest of the Bronze Premium releases (1986-1991) represented a vintage Topps card from the 1950's.  In 1995, Topps released a 12-card Bronze Medallion set representing 1960's cards.

     Here's to my first metal card.

Friday, May 20, 2016

1939 Play Ball #73: Hal Schumacher, New York Giants, P

    Hal Schumacher was a 2x All-Star ('33, '35) that spent his entire MLB career with the Giants from 1931-1946.  He won a World Series ring in 1933, facing 60 Senators batters with a 2.45 ERA in two starts for the Giants.  Schumacher also appeared in the 1936 and 1937 World Series against the Yankees who were on 4-year championship streak.  He had a down year in 1939, posting his career worst season ERA, but bounced back in 1940 to rank league 2nd in Strikouts per 9 IP and 4th in total Strikeouts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1955 Bowman #119: Joe Astroth, Kansas City Athletics, C

     Joe Astroth was a career Athletics player from 1945-1956.  He made the move from Philadelphia to Kansas City with the team in 1955 to become the K.C. Athletics first starting catcher.  Astroth could draw a Walk, ranking 3rd on the team for Walks in 1955.  He also performed well defensively, ranking among A.L. Catchers with 3rd in Range Factor/Game, 4th in Double Plays Turned, 4th in Fielding %, and 5th in Assists.  After the '56 season, Astroth played two years with the A's Triple-A affiliate before retiring at the age of 35.

2015 Topps Update #US169: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, P

Max Scherzer signed a $210 million contract with the Nationals before the start of the 2015 season, securing him in D.C. through 2021.  Scherzer made good on his first year of the contract, receiving 2 Pitcher of the Month awards and reaching his third consecutive All-Star game appearance.  He finished 3rd in Innings Pitched, 2nd in Strikeouts per 9IP, and 2nd in Walks per 9IP.  Scherzer led the N.L. in Strikeout/Walk ratio and Fielding % as P in 2015. 

On May 11th, 2016, Max Scherzer became only the 4th player to strikeout 20 batters in 9 innings pitched.  The other three were: Randy Johnson (2001), Kerry Wood (1998), and Roger Clemens (1986, 1996).  Scherzer's feat came against the Tigers in a 3-2 victory. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2015 Topps #491: Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers, 2B

Rougned Odor experienced his first major league playoff series against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 ALDS, where he hit a HR, a Double, and 5 Single for a total of 7 Runs and 2 RBI in 18 AB's for the Rangers.  Odor went from being the youngest player in the American League during his 2014 rookie season, to the 6th youngest during his 2015 sophomore season.  He has rapidly taken over as the primary 2B for the Rangers, playing 65% of the innings in that role in 2014 and 70% in 2015.

Rougned Odor was suspended 8 games for his part in a May 15th, 2016 altercation resulting from an illegal slide by Jose Bautista, who was also suspended for 1 game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

1940 Play Ball #57: Max West, Boston Bees/Braves, OF

     Max West had an All-Star season in 1940, representing the Boston Bees/Braves in the 8th annual All-Star game, leading the league in Assists at OF.  West joined the Bees/Braves team in 1938 after spending 1935-1937 in the minors.  West continued playing for the Bees/Braves through 1946 before being traded to the Reds for Jim Konstanty.  West played for the Pirates in 1948 before being sent down to the minors through the 1954 season.

1955 Topps #189: Phil Rizzuto, New York Yankees, SS

     Phil Rizzuto was nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career in 1955, which began with the Yankees in 1941 (actually it was with the class-D Bassett Furnituremakers in 1937).  1955 was the first year that Rizzuto would play less than 100 games in his career, allowing Billy Hunter a majority of the time at SS.  Rizzuto's final season would actually be in 1956, with Gil McDougald taking over as the primary SS.

2006 Topps Pre-Production #PP1: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners, OF

     Ichiro Suzuki had just completed 5 seasons in the majors to start 2006, although already 32 years of age.  He would again be selected to the All-Star team and win another Gold Glove award, both for the sixth consecutive time.  Suzuki led all of the majors with 224 Hits--a category that he would rank top two in for 10 straight years.  His 9 Triples and 45 Stolen Bases were also good enough to rank 3rd in the league that year.   

     The 2006 Topps Pre-Production release contained only 3 cards (I.Suzuki, A.Rodriguez, A.Pujols), and contained nearly identical photographs as the Topps base set.  During the 1990's, the Pre-Production sets often contained 9 cards with variation poses.  Regardless, I continue to integrate the Pre-Production cards with my base sets along with the Traded/Update sets as shown below.  Actually, the Pre-Production cards appear to be less "touched-up" than the base cards, which have always appeared to look dark to me in the 2006 set.  As always, the card backs for the Pre-Production vary a little from the base cards.  It's hard to believe that it's been over 10 years since the release of the 2006 Topps set.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

1948 Bowman #16: Jack Lohrke, New York Giants, IF

     Jack Lohrke started playing pro ball in 1942, but missed some playing time while fighting for the Army in WWII before he finally reached the majors in 1947 with the Giants.  Lohrke played 3B his rookie year, expanding his role to include 2B in 1948, and SS in 1949.  During his final season with the Giants, Lohrke had the opportunity to play in the World Series against the Yankees in 1951. 

1964 Topps #150: Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants, OF

     Willie Mays was selected to his 11 consecutive All-Star game in 1964.  He batted .296, with 111 RBI, and a league leading 47 HR's.  Mays had only surpassed that homerun total twice before and would only do so once more during his MLB career.  He also led the league for the 4th time with a .607 SLG.  On defense, Mays earned his 8 consecutive Gold Glove in 1964.  His salary that year was $85,000.