Tag Archives: MVP

Dustin Pedroia 2014 Bowman – California State Variation

Dustin Pedroia 2014 Bowman – California State Variation

While he may not have long blond hair or wear flip-flops on a daily basis, Dustin Pedroia is a ‘California Boy’.

And this card from the 2014 Bowman set that features the California state flag in the background.  The card is very well done.

And I have to guess that if you showed the featured player a stack of cards and let him choose his favorite, if a ‘State version’ card from the Bowman product was included in the bunch, it would easily get the most votes!

 

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Dennis Eckersley 2014 Topps Archives – Base

Dennis Eckersley 2014 Topps Archives – Base

While I have yet to see each and every of the 200 base cards that make up the 2014 Topps Archives set, I have to say that I like the images used most within the 1973 Topps design.

Not only does this design allow for a very large image to be the center of attention, but the small accent pieces usually work very well with the theme of the action at hand.

In a recent shopping spree in which I picked up a small stack of cards from the Archives set, I scooped up the card of Dennis Eckerlsey.

And I am glad that I did – it looks G-R-E-A-T!!

Have a look:

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I told you – a very sweet baseball card.

And while normally I would want the image to match the year (or close to) that the original card was issued, this one gets a pass because ‘Eck’ did not make his debut until a few seasons later in 1976.

Happy Birthday Vida Blue!!!

Happy Birthday Vida Blue!!!

Pitching legend Vida Blue turns 65 years old today.

Not only did Vida Blue win the Cy Young in his first full-time season as a starter, he also was the league’s MVP. Beat that!!!

Blue had a monster year in 1971 for the Oakland A’s. He went 24-8 with 24 complete games and 8 shutouts. Add that impressive record to his 1.82 ERA with 301 strikeout and you have one of the most impressive seasons by a pitcher during the decade of the 1970’s.

Vida Blue finished his career with a 209-161 record and 1,185 strikeouts. He finished in the Top 7 for the Cy Young award 5 times and was a 6-time All-star. Blue was part of the legendary Oakland A’s teams that won 3 consecutive World Series titles in 1972, 1973, and 1974. Blue pitched in 8 games in the Fall Classic and went 3-0, a perfect record on baseball’s biggest stage!!

Happy Birthday Mr. Blue!!!

Let The Battle Rage On: 1983 Topps Super Veterans VS 2014 Topps Super Veterans. Who Will Win???

Let The Battle Rage On:  1983 Topps Super Veterans VS 2014 Topps Super Veterans.  Who Will Win???

As a kid collecting baseball cards, I used the 1983 Topps Super Veterans subset as a tool to learn about the ‘older’ players in the game.  The set was large and it featured images from the beginning of each player’s career and then images that were current (1982-83).

When I got back into collecting in 2008, this same subset was the first one I went after.  I had built it 20+ years prior, but I wanted to re-live my youth by doing it again.  So, I did.  And it re-kindled my enjoyment for vintage baseball cards and the players that helped shape the history of the game.

Upon completion of that subset, and learning that Topps had begun recycling older designs in their modern releases, I kept my fingers crossed that ‘Super Veterans’ would eventually be re-done.

And when 2014 Topps, Series 1 hit the shelves, a 15-card subset of ‘Super Veterans’ was included.  I was ecstatic.  And I quickly made this a target for my collection.  And after a few days of shopping around, I scored the complete 15-card set and began showing it off on this blog as I did with the 1983 set back in 2009.

So, here they are.  First the 1983 version:

SUP VET 83 A SUP VET 83 B SUP VET 83 C SUP VET 83 D SUP VET 83 E

And now, the 2014 set:

SUP VET 2014 A SUP VET 2014 B SUP VET 2014 C SUP VET 2014 D SUP VET 2014 E

And now for my review and comparison.

  • The edge goes to ’83 as it relates to size – 35 to 15
  • The edge goes to ’14 as it relates to % of future Hall of Fame inclusions:  14/35 players versus a likely 7/15 ( I did not count Peter Rose, though I want to)
  • There is a tie in regards to how the images of yore are shown – Sepia tones in both ’83 and ’14
  • The edge goes to ’83 as it relates to ‘Star Power’

Overall, I of course like both sets. I wish that the 2014 version included more players on the checklist or at least was continued into the Series 2 release.  I don’t find that the 2014 version has the same star power that the set from ’83 offers even though it features Jeter, Rivera, and Cabrera – I just don’t think that Topps truly dug in deep enough to really get behind this set.  It feels like it was put together as a way to add Pettitte and Rivera cards into yet another subset.  If they had truly shown us the longest tenured players in the majors, we would have had a more apples-to-apples comparison.  The set is called ‘Super Veterans’ for a reason; it is not called ‘Best Older Players In The Game’.  At the very least, and to be more consistent with the original subset, this one should have included Jason Giambi, Ichiro, Paul Konerko, Raul Ibanez, LaTroy Hawkins, and Bartolo Colon.  If Topps had taken this step, it would definitely be more true to what ‘Super Veterans’ offered in 1983.

Still, no complaints from my side.  I’m thrilled to have both sets in my collection.  I’m just thirsty for more!

1983 HEADLINE: Andre Dawson Captures Stolen Base #200 Of His Career

1983 HEADLINE: Andre Dawson Captures Stolen Base #200 Of His Career

On this day in 1983, Andre Dawson stole the 200th base of his career.

The achievement came during the 98th game of the baseball season for the Montreal Expos as they faced the Reds in Cincinnati.

The steal came in the top of the 7th inning and came against the great defensive catcher of the Reds, Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

On the day, Dawson was 1-for-4 with a home run, 2 RBI, a run scored, and the 200th stolen base of his career.

Happy Anniversary Andre!!!!

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Ernie Banks 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes – Chicago

Ernie Banks 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes – Chicago

Normally, the lack of team names and logos on baseball cards does not bother me.  Certainly not as much as I know it does others.

But, this card definitely stands out – way too much blank space!!

Between the blank cap on Banks’ head, the blank jersey he is wearing, and the empty space in the upper-right corner of the card, this one is pretty bad…

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NEXT.

Andrew McCutchen 2014 Topps Series 2 – 2013 NL MVP

Andrew McCutchen 2014 Topps Series 2 – 2013 NL MVP

Of all of the young, talented guys in the big leagues, it is Andrew McCutchen that sits near the top of the list for me as far as pure entertainment is concerned.

There is nothing that this guy cannot do – and he is doing it all better in 2014 than he was in his MVP season of 2013.

My youngest son’s t-ball team this year was the Pirates.  Naturally, he drifted towards them as being ‘his team’.  When watching baseball games and especially morning highlight shows, he is always seeking out the Pirates.

This has caused me to watch #22 a bit more this year than in season’s past.  And it is also a big reason as to why I have started collecting cards of ‘Cutch’.

My latest pick-up is a sweet one – his card from the 2014 Topps Series 2 release.

The card honors his selection as the NL MVP in 2013 – and it is superb!!

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Something tells me that another card of his magnitude may be in the 2015 Series 2 release.  Crystal ball???

Rickey Henderson 2014 Panini Prizm – Excellent Photo Choice By Panini!!!

Rickey Henderson 2014 Panini Prizm – Excellent Photo Choice By Panini!!!

Jeez, talk about a mighty swing – Rickey sure could swing with power!

For a minute there, you almost forget that Panini is not allowed to use team names and logos in any of their products…

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This image is perfect for a brand like this.  If they stuck to finding more just like this, they would certainly attract a few more buyers to their brand.

This card here is a great addition to my Rickey Henderson collection.  And the image used beats some of the modern Topps cards I have of Rickey – and those have team names and logos spilled all over them…

Enjoy.

2010 HEADLINE: Andre Dawson Enshrined At Cooperestown

2010 HEADLINE: Andre Dawson Enshrined At Cooperestown

On this day in 2010, Andre Dawson was enshrined into the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

Unquestionably my favorite baseball player of all-time, I have so many fond memories of watching Andre Dawson perform in his Expos, Marlins, Red Sox, and Marlins uniforms. But it was his performance on July 25, 2010 in front of the library at Cooperstown that will remain engrained with me forever.

Executing a perfect speech while looking like a presidential candidate, Andre Dawson captivated me once again; more than 25 years after he first made an impression on me.

Congratulations and Happy Anniversary ‘Hawk’. One of the greatest sports moments of my life – provided courtesy of my favorite player!!!

Here is Andre’s speech from that fantastic day:

“Thank you, Commissioner Selig.

Congratulations to my fellow inductees, Jon Miller, Bill Madden, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog.

It’s an honor to be here with you both, though I’m surprised that they let this manager and this umpire sit so close together today.

It is both humbling and overwhelming to see the men sitting up here on this stage, to hear their names called before mine.

Thank you, gentlemen, for welcoming this rookie to your team.

All I ever wanted growing up was to be like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and now I get to shake their hands and be treated as a friend. It’s an honor beyond words.

We’ve got a lot of Cubs in this group. Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins. These guys had to go through a lot to fight their way here, more than you will probably ever know. I admire you all a lot and I thank you for paving the way.

Ryne Sandberg, who was a teammate of mine for six years and I didn’t even know the man could speak until I saw him up here five years ago. My kind of player, never whined, never complained. Showed up every day, left it all on the field.

Speaking of the Cubs, thank you, Cub fans, for coming all the way out here. No fighting with the Cardinal fans now, but just make sure we all hear from the Cardinals fans the rest of the day.

I see Tom Seaver sitting back here. So, I saw him this morning at breakfast, too, and he wanted me to feel comfortable, so threw a breakfast roll past my head.

Bruce Sutter, I really hated that splitter, man. Still haven’t fixed my swing from having to face you.

Tommy Lasorda, he taught me how to get a free meal. He said eat half your steak and send it back and complain and get a whole new free one. You’ve got to love Tommy.

Rickey Henderson mentioned last year that when he was young he waited in a parking lot outside the Oakland Coliseum so that he could ask Reggie Jackson for an autograph. If I recollect, he said Reggie gave him an ink pad with his name on it.

In 1977 I met Reggie at a card show. I was very nervous, but I had just been named Rookie of the Year. So, I liked my chances of getting a signed picture. I asked Reggie for an autograph. Rickey, all he gave me was a candy bar with his name on it.

What a great day this is. I’m very grateful to the Baseball Writers Association of America for this tremendous honor and I thank you for the respect with which you always treated me and I hope you feel like I did the same to you.

I didn’t play this game with this goal in my mind, but I’m living proof that if you love this game, the game will love you back.

And I am proof that any young person who can hear my voice right now can be standing here, as I am. Like most of us up here, by the age of eight, I was using a busted broom handle for a bat and using rocks as a ball and by then I knew I was born to play this game. I dabbled in other sports, sure — my knees are proof of that — but baseball was my love. And baseball is where I belonged. And I found out quickly that if you love this game, the game will love you back.

It’s still a great game, too. It bothers me when I hear people knock the game. There’s nothing wrong with the game of baseball. Baseball will from time to time, and like anything else in life, fall victim to the mistakes that people make. It’s not pleasant and it’s not right. Those mistakes have hurt the game and taken a toll on all of us. Individuals have chosen the wrong road and have chosen that as their legacy. Others still have a chance to choose theirs. Do not be lured to the dark side. It’s a stain on the game, a stain gradually being removed.

But that’s the people, not the game. There’s nothing wrong with the game. Never has been. I think people just forget why we ever got involved in the game in the first place. When we were nine and ten years old, we just loved playing the game. What we found was that if you put your heart into this game, if you love this game, the game will love you back.

That’s why I made it here and anyone who can hear my voice right now can be standing here, as I am.

Look at me and these incredible men who make up the Hall of Fame. They are proof of that. There are many of us up here who had nothing, who came from nothing, who wondered if nothing was all there ever was. But look at us. There is hope. But you can’t get here by skipping school or disrespecting your parents or your teachers or your coaches.

And you can’t get here by dropping out of society. You can’t get here if you believe you have nothing to lose out on the streets. You have everything to lose. But in this game you have everything to gain. A lot of kids feel abandoned, and I understand that. Some of us know what that feels like. It’s a tough road and it’s unfair. But feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to save you. Baseball can. Baseball can be your salvation. I am proof of that. And if you can hear my voice today, you can stand here, just as I am today.

As my grandmother used to say, “Take God with you. Get on your knees and believe it. Be thankful of the blessings before you receive them. If you can get left behind or you can get on board.”

Love this game and the game will love you back.

You don’t get to stand up here without the support of so many friends, family members, teammates, coaches and Managers. So, today, I want to start by thanking Paul Como, my coach at Southwest Miami Senior High School, who moved me from the infield to the outfield, and Coach Costa Kittles, who gave me a chance at Florida A & M University as a walk-on when no other college would look at me because of a knee injury.

Legendary field coordinator, Mel Debian, who didn’t let a knee brace scare him off and got me invited to a tryout camp. My college roommate, Paul Watson and my outfield partners in Montreal, Warren Cromartie and Ellis Valentine.

Another Montreal teammate, Gary Carter, who was arguably the best young catcher in the game, went by the name the Kid. But Warren Cromartie tagged him with the nickname Teeths, T-e-e-t-h-s, Teeths, because when the cameras came on, that’s all you saw from him. Amen.

We were fortunate that as young players we were able to look up to people like Vern Rapp, Jim Fanning, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, the consummate pro, and Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Dick Williams.

I really enjoyed my time around Pete Rose and I was the first guy to the park, and Pete was second. The only problem then is you had to listen to him talk for three hours before anyone else showed up.

In Chicago, I had a coach named Jose’ Martinez. If I wasn’t looking for him, he was looking for me. We put in a lot of time together in that outfield at Wrigley Field. Baking in that hot sun, and we weren’t just working on our tans.

We had a great manager in Don Zimmer. Zim treated me with great respect. And he’s a man who really loved the game. But you didn’t want to be around him when we gave away a game. I only thought I knew every curse word, but Zim, Zim made up some new ones. Don Zimmer, that’s a man who has given his whole life to the game of baseball.

Our closer was Lee Smith. He used to take batting practice with my game bats. He would pick out my pearls, as I called them, I would say Smitty, there’s a 15-game hitting streak in that bat. You can’t use my gamers in BP. He would just keep on walking. He said, yeah, that’s a nice one, Hawk, but I only swing with pearls. If you ask me, Smitty, Smitty ought to be sitting up here in one of these chairs.

Tim Raines should be up here, too. Raines was like a brother to me.

Shawon Dunston was like a little brother to me. He liked to say that I was old enough to be his dad. Funniest man I ever met, Shawon Dunston. Unfortunately, this is a family show and I can’t tell you a single Shawon Dunston story right now.

Goose Gossage was also a teammate in Chicago, one of my all-time favorites. The only player I know who drink a case of beer on a flight from Chicago to St. Louis and still be lights out the next day.

Thank you to all the doctors and trainers who managed to keep me in one piece. Well, maybe a few pieces. Okay, a lot of pieces. But they kept me on the field, they kept me playing. This is a very, very long list, but I’ll try to keep it to under 50 people.

From Montreal, trainer Ron McLean and Dr. Larry Cardinal. In Chicago, John Fiero and Dr. Michael Shaffer. Florida Marlins team doctor John Uribe and trainer Larry Stark. And the man who did my knee replacements, Dr. Vincent Burke. Physical therapist, Lisa Kurrens (phonetic), Ed Garabety (phonetic). Husband and wife team, Ryan and Marti Vermelia. Thank you all for keeping me upright and I know you all spent more time with me than your own families some of those years. Thank you.

Thank you to my cousin and off-season workout partner, Donald Napier. And to brothers Glen and Chip Sesselmann, for the use of their hitting facilities.

From the Hall of Fame, thanks to Jane Forbes Clark, Jeff Idelson and the Hall of Fame Committee for your hospitality, for your respect and for this wonderful weekend.

Thank you to the Montreal Expos organization for drafting me and giving me my start. You gave me my first ten years in the Major Leagues, the experience of a new culture, and playing across the border.

Thank you, Expos fans, for your kindness and your admiration.

Thank you to the Red Sox for simply wanting me.

And thank you to the Florida Marlins, people like David Dombrowski, David Samson and Jeffrey Loria, for giving me the chance to experience both playing and working at home.

I want to send a special thank you to Marvin Miller for being a pioneer to the players. And I want to thank my good friend and agent, Dick Moss, who had the idea to show up in Arizona, in Spring Training, in 1987 with no job, no contract and no uniform. The Cubs gave me a job, and for that I’m also thankful.

And from my heart, from my heart, thank you, Cub fans.

You were a true blessing in my life. I never knew what it felt like to be loved by a city until I arrived in Chicago. And though it wasn’t my way to show it, I can’t express to you enough how I appreciate what you did. You gave me new life in baseball when I arrived in Chicago and you are the reason I continued playing the game. I can’t thank you enough for how good you were to my family and me. You were the wind beneath the Hawk’s wings.

In 1987, I thought about giving up the game or maybe going to Japan. But I knew there had to be a place where the game could be fun again. I found that place. It’s called Wrigley Field. It reminded me that if you love this game, the game will love you back.

I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my seven brothers and sisters. And a special thanks to my Uncle Curtis Taylor, who introduced me to the game of baseball and bought me my first glove.

And my Uncle John Taylor, one of my biggest supporters, who helped me to see it through when I was so homesick at Florida A & M.

My kids, Darius and Amber. Thanks for demonstrating the characters and mannerisms that every parent would want to see in their kids.

In the eyes of the world, you may only be two people. But in the eyes of two people, you are the world.

To my wife, Vanessa, who would get out of bed at 11:00 at night and get me ice bags and pain medication and more ice bags and anti-inflammatories and yet more ice bags because at times it was difficult for me to put two feet on the floor and do it, myself. Thank you.

And she put up with a lot in 20 years of baseball, wondering if I was ever going to take off that uniform. She put up with all the surgeries and all the rehabs, the crutches the bandages, the many hours a day of working out, having to watch me in pain through much of it. Could not have been easy and it took as much effort on her part as it did mine to get through those years.

Thank you, Sweety. I love you.

And you don’t arrive on this earth magically. There are some people to whom I owe a lot that are not here anymore. My Uncle Theodore Roosevelt Taylor, who played Minor League baseball and taught me so much. And my Uncle Matthew Napier, who coined the nickname “The Hawk” when I was a kid. My mother-in-law Lucille Turner, who just recently passed. She was a huge baseball fan and a big supporter of mine.

My grandmother, Eunice Taylor. I called her Mama. She helped raise me. She taught me to believe in myself and to believe in God. And without her, I never would have made it through high school, let alone college or the pros. She taught me that if you want respect, you have to give it first. She was an advocate of education. She always reminded people that baseball was recreation. She said education was a stepping stone to my future. Without it you’re not going to get very far. School first and if you have the talent to play baseball, someone will take notice.

My mom, Amanda Brown, died four years ago. And I miss her today as much as I did then. She was my mom. She was my dad. She was my big sister. My big brother. My best friend. She was my whole world for a very long time in my life. And I only wish she were here to see this. Before she passed, she dreamt of this moment, she dreamt of this day. She promised me it would happen. And my mother never, never broke a promise to us.

She said it’s inevitable, what God has planned, no man can change. More than anyone else or anything else, this is for my mom, who did the impossible every day, to raise a family and she taught her kids right from wrong. She kept it together and somehow got by. My grandmother and my mom were my true heroes. They gave me life, they gave me my daily bred and they gave me hope. They showed me the way to get through the day and to overcome obstacles hundreds of years old. They showed me how to live. They showed me the way out. They showed me the way here. They taught me to love and to hope and to believe in help from above.

So, I think of them day and all they sacrificed for me. I will not forget their struggle, not on this the greatest of days.

I’m not ashamed to say my mom was everything to me. And while she’s not here, she is still with me. I hope she looks down and she is proud of me. I love you, Mom.

Thank you, again, for this tremendous honor. I will never forget this day and I will never forget those who helped make it possible. I will never forget that it was my love for the game that propelled me and kept it going when times got tough.

I will never forget that if you love this game, it will love you back.

Thank you.”

Don Mattingly 2014 Topps Archives – Base – WHAT A MUSTACHE!!!

Don Mattingly 2014 Topps Archives – Base

Yes, Don Mattingly sported one of the more famous mustaches in baseball during the 1980’s, but I don’t recall it being this big and bulky…

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Wow, Topps really took us back.

This mustache is ‘One For The Ages’.  It’s right up there with Jose Canseco’s mustache from his 1986 Donruss card and Greg Maddux’s sweet ‘stache from his 1987 Donruss ‘Rated Rookies’ card.

I LOVE IT!!!