Tag Archives: Cooperstown

2014 Topps Series 1 “Topps All Rookie Cup Team” – Ken Griffey Jr.

2014 Topps Series 1 “Topps All Rookie Cup Team” – Ken Griffey Jr.

Topps’ All-Rookie Team means a lot of different things to a lot of different collectors.  But, one thing is for certain – If your card is tagged with the All-Rookie Team logo, you did something during your first season in the big leagues to make yourself stand out from the rest.

And for that reason alone, I can totally support a set of cards that picks ‘The Best Of The Best’ from these teams.

In 2014, Topps issued a subset in their Series 1 release that took one player at each position, naming them to the ‘Topps All Rookie Cup Team’.

Representing the catcher is Ken Griffey:

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Ken Griffey Jr. has a lot of lofty expectations placed on him prior to his first at-bat as a major league player.

And during his debut season, he did not disappoint.  He played in 127 games for the Mariners during his rookie campaign.

The numbers:  120 hits, .264 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, 23 doubles, 16 home runs, 16 stolen bases, 61 runs scored, 61 RBI.

A very solid debut for Junior!

1989 HEADLINE: Ken Griffey Jr. Hits First Big League Home Run!!!

1989 HEADLINE: Ken Griffey Jr. Hits First Big League Home Run!!!

During the collecting days of my youth, I cannot recall a rookie that received more attention from the hobby than Ken Griffey Jr.  And it all started before he suited up for one game.  Now I saw my share of rookie phenoms – Dwight Gooden, Roger Clemens, Jerome Walton…  But none of these guys carried the hobby prior to making their major league debuts.

But Griffey did!!!

So when Junior stepped to the plate in just the 7th game of his big league career and belted a home run to deep left field, collectors around the world sighed.   At home, and in front of close to 34,000 fans, Griffey launched home run #1 off of White Sox pitcher Eric King.  And as they say, the rest was history…

Today, Griffey sits in 5th place on the all-time home run list with 630.  Exactly 30 homers behind one of his baseball idols, Willie Mays.

Happy Anniversary to ‘The Kid’!!!

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will ‘The 500 Home Run Club’ Ever Guarantee Enshrinement Into Cooperstown Again?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will ‘The 500 Home Run Club’  Ever Guarantee Enshrinement Into Cooperstown Again?

For a good stretch of baseball’s grand history, ‘The 500 Home Runs Club’ was full of elite and immortal players that defined the role of run producer and slugger.  Sure, some of the players were quite a bit more than that, but all of them were responsible for driving in a tremendous amount of runs via the long ball.

Then, the steroid era hit.  And pretty soon, new members of the once-elite club were springing up all over the place.  And quite often.  The one-time uber-elite group was getting cloudy and crowded.  All of a sudden, ‘The 500 HR Club’ began to look a little different.  And being in the club did not hold the same level of esteem as it once did.

Today, with the game ‘cleaned up’, can that perception change?  Will the ‘500 Home Runs Club’ once again define offensive greatness?

There are only three eligible members of the ‘500 HR Club’ that have not been inducted into Cooperstown.  And they have all been linked to steroids – Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro.  We also have two future possible electees that have been linked to steroids and climbed past 500 home runs – Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez.  I am purposely keeping Alex Rodriguez’s name out of the conversation as he is still considered to be ‘active’.

But, after that, are we in the clear?

Frank Thomas’ 2014 Hall of Fame election certainly helps.  And the future election of Ken Griffey, Jr. adds some serious weight to the ‘Club’ again.  And while I may not be his biggest supporter, Jim Thome’s 600+ home runs is certainly going to add some gusto to the club as well when he gets electecd into the Hall of Fame.

3-Time MVP, Albert Pujols is on his way.  Adam Dunn is going to get there.  World Series MVP, David Ortiz has a solid chance too.

So, my question tonight is this – Can the ‘500 Home Runs Club’ once again be what it once was???

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My 2011 Topps ‘Prime 9 Players Of The Week’ Redemption Set Is COMPLETE!!! Come See!!!

My 2011 Topps ‘Prime 9 Players Of The Week’ Redemption Set Is COMPLETE!!!  Come See!!!

Well friends, another subset has been completed at ’30-Year Old Cardboard’.

And this one is superb!

Just like the ‘Prime 9 Home Run Legends’ set I built last year, this one boasts great color, sharp graphics, and a supremely high-gloss finish.

The 2011 Topps Prime 9 ‘Players Of The Week’ set features 9 players – 1 for each defensive position.  And the roster is loaded with major, major talent.

Here is a look at the whole set:

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By completing this set, I have now finished both of the Topps ‘Prime 9’ redemption sets.  And I have to say that I wish that this was a series that never stopped.  The ‘Prime 9’ theme is one that could easily continue with new themes – and with solid production that matches the 2011 and 2012 sets that they already issued, the quality was definitely there!

Cheers to another completed subset!  Hip-Hip-Hooray!!

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Mike Mussina’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Mike Mussina’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot

Well, as we all know by now, Mike Mussina did not get anywhere close to gaining entry into the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 when the votes were announced a few weeks back.

Actually, he did far worse than what I expected.  Of a total of 571 votes cast, Mussina secured just 116 good for 20.3% of the total, and well below the needed 75% to gain election.

So, what happens now?  Where does the voting for Mike Mussina go from here?

Does he follow the path of Jack Morris and hang around for a long time picking up votes year after year but never gaining access?  Or does, he slowly start to lose votes as new possible inductees take more votes from him, a la Fred McGriff?

Me – I think he will stick around for a while – but never get over the 55-60% mark.  There are a few pitchers on the ballot right now that I think are just as worthy, or possibly more, as Mussina.   And with the guys coming up on future ballots, I think he will be stuck in the shadows for a few more years before he may get a bigger bump from the voters.

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What do you think happens?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Looking Ahead To The Possible Class Of 2015

Hall Of Fame Debate: Looking Ahead To The Possible Class Of 2015

Ok, so now we know what players made the cut with the ‘Class of 2014’ and which ones will have to wait at least one more year to see if they earn election in 2015.

And we also know the players that will be eligible for the first time in 2015.

They are:  Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, David Dellucci, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Mark Loretta, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Troy Percival, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn, David Weathers

The list is interesting to say the least.  It is packed with All-stars, memory makers, and World Series champions.

But, is it packed with future Hall of Famers as well??

Well, at first glance, there are a few names that stand out for me – and probably you as well.  The names of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz stand out among the pitchers on the list.  And while there is no ‘top-tier’ offensive player on the ballot for the first time in 2015, the name of Gary Sheffield should make you at least pause for a few minutes.

To be honest, of the four guys mentioned above, not one of them can hold a candle to the single at-bat that Aaron Boone had in the World Series a few years ago.  But, when looking at the full careers, both regular and post season, this ballot is stacked at the top and then there is a major drop-off.

There is no Mike Piazza on this list.  Or Mike Mussina.  Or Jeff Kent.

So, what do you think – Four contenders and a bunch of pretenders or am I missing something??

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Hall Of Fame Debate: Will There Ever Be A Unanimous Election??

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will There Ever Be A Unanimous Election??

Johnny Bench did not do it…

Nolan Ryan did not do it…

Rickey Henderson did not do it…

And most recently, Greg Maddux did not do it.

Will it ever happen?  This is certainly a good topic for debate.  And timely too!

Ultimately, I think that there are just way too many voters in the Hall of Fame election process for all of them to agree to a 100% vote for any single player.  Will players get close?  Sure.  But, 100% of the vote is going to be very, very tough – especially when the voters seem to have such differing views as to what amounts to a Hall of Fame player.

At times over their careers, it seemed like guys like Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr, and Albert Pujols were all lined up to amass incredible numbers when their time for election was due.  But, things change.  And they change rapidly.  Injuries, change of scenery, rapid drop-off in production, etc. all lead to someone taking a vote or votes away.

Personally, I don’t believe that it will ever happen.

But, of all of the future eligible players, I think that the player with the best opportunity to get close to 100% is Mariano Rivera.  Numbers-wise, he is heads and shoulders above all relief pitchers.  Plus, he did it in the biggest media city in the US.  And he did a majority of it in pressure situations.  The biggest knock against him is that he ‘is just a closer’.  And that horrible phrase may be enough to keep a few votes out of his pocket too…

What do you think?  Will we ever see a player earn 100% of the votes cast for Hall of Fame induction?  Does that player exist today?

Let me hear it!!!

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Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, And Frank Thomas Elected To The Hall Of Fame

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, And Frank Thomas Elected To The Hall Of Fame

From MLB.com

NEW YORK — One of the most majestic induction classes in the history of the National Baseball Hall of Fame was set on Wednesday with the announcement that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected by eligible writers of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America the first time they were on the ballot, all of them by big margins.

On the ballot for the second time, Craig Biggio, who had 3,060 hits in 20 seasons, all with the Astros, did not get the necessary 75 percent, falling 0.2 percent shy of induction and missing by a scant two votes.

The newly elected trio will attend an 11 a.m. ET news conference on Thursday at the Waldorf Astoria New York that will be simulcast on MLB.com and MLB Network.

Also to be inducted in July are three of the greatest managers of all time — Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa — all selected by the Expansion Era Committee last month. They rank third, fourth and fifth in managerial victories in Major League history, each winning more than 2,000 games.

The Braves trio of Maddux, Glavine and Cox will be front and center in this, the 75th anniversary of the museum, during the ceremony behind the Clark Sports Center on July 27.

“It’s very humbling to go in with these guys,” said Maddux, who combined with Glavine to win 660 games. “It’s just icing on the cake. It’s going to be a special day and I’m going to be able to share it with special people.”

Thomas — who batted .301, hit 521 homers and amassed 1,704 RBIs in 19 seasons, 16 of them with the White Sox — is the first Hall of Famer to have played a majority of his games as a designated hitter. He appeared in 2,322 career games, with 1,351 coming as a DH and 971 at first base. Paul Molitor, who was elected in 2004, played more of his games as a DH than at any other position, but still just 44 percent of his total games played.

“This has been a stressful 48 hours. I am so excited that I’m in the Hall of Fame,” Thomas said. “This is something that I will have to sit back in the next three or four days and figure it out, because you can only dream so big, and this is as big as it gets for me. I’m a Georgia kid. Going in with Glavine, Maddux and Bobby Cox means a lot to me. The whole state of Georgia is going to be there, and I am just so blessed that I’ll be able to be there with these guys.”

 

That means six living members are heading toward one of the grandest Induction Weekends, from July 26-27, in Cooperstown, N.Y. The results of this year’s BBWAA vote were in stark contrast to that of last year, when the writers didn’t elect anyone.

Maddux and Glavine, a pair of 300-game winners who pitched the bulk of their careers for the Braves, were the favorites, but the 571 voters outdid themselves by also adding Thomas and coming so close on Biggio. It was the first time since 1999 — when Robin Yount, Nolan Ryan and George Brett were elected — that the writers put three first-time eligibles into the Hall.

Maddux, who won 355 games, the eighth-highest figure in Major League history, had 97.2 percent of the vote, failing to appear on 16 of the 571 ballots cast.

Glavine, who won 305 games, fourth-most among left-handers, was at 91.9 percent, and Thomas finished at 83.7.

Jack Morris, who won 254 games during his 18-year big league career and World Series titles with the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays, didn’t make it in his 15th and final time on the writers’ ballot. He actually lost ground, falling to 61.5 percent from last year’s 67.7. Morris, who will be eligible for the Expansion Era Committee consideration in the fall of 2016, is only the second player in history to amass in excess of 60 percent of the vote at some point over his 15 years of eligibility and not make the Hall via the writers’ ballot. Gil Hodges is the other.

Maddux and Glavine are the only first-ballot pitchers to be elected together since Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson were part of the inaugural class of 1936 along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. They are the first living pair of 300-win pitchers to be elected in the same year and only the third pair in Hall of Fame history. The last starter to be elected by the BBWAA was Bert Blyleven in 2011, his 14th year of eligibility.

“It’s something I’m still trying to figure out how I feel,” Glavine said. “I’m just really humbled by the whole experience so far. I’m really excited about this whole process and this opportunity. I’m looking forward to it all. The opportunity to go in the Hall of Fame is one thing, but the opportunity to go in with two guys who were a very big part of my career means a lot to me.”

The Hall hasn’t inducted as many as six living baseball greats at the same time since 1971. Eleven were inducted in 1939, the year the red-brick museum opened its doors on Main Street, but they were from the first four classes, elected beginning in 1936. Last year, the three inductees elected by the Pre-Integration Committee — Yankees seminal owner Jacob Ruppert, catcher Deacon White and umpire Hank O’Day — were all deceased.

Maddux also pitched 10 seasons for the Cubs and had brief stays with the Padres and Dodgers at the end of his career. Glavine spent 17 seasons with the Braves and five with the Mets, for whom he won his 300th game. Cox managed Atlanta for 25 seasons and the Blue Jays for four, finishing with the Braves in 2010. John Smoltz, the third prong for a decade in that Atlanta rotation and who played 20 of his 21 seasons with the Braves, is slated to be on the ballot for the first time next year and has a very good chance of joining the trio.

“It was obvious with me and Glav, because we both retired at the same time and the managers go in in a different way,” said Maddux about the chances of being inducted at the same time as Glavine and Cox. “As soon as Bobby got in, I knew it had a chance of it being very special. He was there for half of my career and taught me so much about the game. It was a special honor for me to work under Bobby and play half of my career with Glav as well. The only thing that split it up is that Smoltzy played one more year.”

The July 26 awards ceremony at Doubleday Field stands to be formidable as well, with former catcher and longtime TV announcer Joe Garagiola Sr. receiving the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, longtime magazine writer Roger Angell selected by the BBWAA as the winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for a career of meritorious baseball writing, and Rangers radio play-by-play man Eric Nadel earning the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.

A year ago, when Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza — players whose careers spanned baseball’s era of performance-enhancing drug use — made their initial appearances on the ballot, no one was elected by the writers for the first time since 1996, and only the second time since ’71.

Writers again rejected those players, with Piazza leading the pack at 62.2 percent, up from 58.7 percent last year. Clemens and Bonds had their percentages go down marginally to 35.4 and 34.7, respectively, but Sosa, who blasted 609 home runs and is the only player to have hit at least 60 homers in each of three seasons, slipped to 7.2 percent, barely remaining on the ballot.

Rafael Palmeiro, who failed a Major League Baseball-administered drug test in 2005, fell to 4.4 percent and was among 15 players to drop off the ballot. Palmeiro, with 569 homers and 3,020 hits, is one of only four players in history to amass both 500 homers and 3,000 hits. The other three are Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

A player must draw at least five percent of the vote each year to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years.

Bonds is the all-time leader with 762 homers in his career and 73 in a single season. Clemens had 354 wins, one fewer than Maddux, and Piazza hit 396 of his 427 homers as a catcher — the most of any player at that position in Major League history.

Maddux said Bonds was the toughest hitter he ever faced in his career, but hesitated to opine on his status. Thomas, always regarded as one of the clean players of the era, said he harbors no animosity.

“I don’t fault anyone, I don’t fault anyone for what they did,” Thomas said. “But I went about it the right way. It was more about my family teaching me the right things. When I look at their numbers, I go, “Wow!” but I think if I hadn’t been hurt for 3 1/2 years, my numbers would have been right up there with them.”

Biggio seems to be on a clear course toward a plaque. Of the 26 other retired players who amassed 3,000 or more hits, only two are not in the Hall, and both suffer from extenuating circumstances, Palmeiro having failed a drug test and Pete Rose, the all-time leader with 4,256 hits, is banned from baseball because of gambling and is not eligible to be included on Hall of Fame ballots.

In a statement, Biggio said he was disappointed to not get in, tying Nellie Fox in 1985 and Pie Traynor in 1947 for the smallest margin of missing election in balloting history. But history is on his side. Traynor was elected in 1948. Fox was in his last year on the ballot when he fell two votes shy and was subsequently elected by the Veterans Committee in 1997.

“Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas,” Biggio said. “Obviously, I’m disappointed to come that close. I feel for my family, the organization and the fans. Hopefully, next year.”

Biggio went from 68.2 percent in 2013 to 74.8 percent this year, right on the cusp.

“As surprised as I was last year that he didn’t get in, you almost feel heartbroken this year to be as close as he was,” Glavine said. “Craig was a tremendous competitor and had the respect of all of us who played against him. I think it’s just a matter of time before he’s in the Hall of Fame. I’m sure he’s disappointed today, having come so close, but I’m extremely confident that someday we’re going to watch him go through the same process.”

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Hall Of Fame Debate: Give Me Your Final 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Give Me Your Final 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot

This conversation may be as easy it gets – Simply tell me who would be on your final ballot if you had an opportunity to submit one.

The final voting will be announced next week and I am eager to see how mine compares to the final BWAA ballot and how yours stacks up as well, too.

As for mine, it goes something like this:

  1. Greg Maddux
  2. Tom Glavine
  3. Frank Thomas
  4. Craig Biggio

And that is it.  Just 4 players.

And while there are certainly more players on the list that I feel belong, I believe that these are the ones that get enshrined, and deservedly so, this year – my class of 2014.

And now it is your turn – Give Me Your Final 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot.

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Happy Birthday Sandy Koufax!!!

Happy Birthday Sandy Koufax!!!

Today, Sandy Koufax turns 79 years old.

Koufax’s name is often mentioned in the same breath when people speak of the greatest pitchers of all-time.  Truth be told, during his 12-year career with the Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Koufax did not shine until the last 6 seasons he played.  But boy did he shine…  From 1961 to 1966, Koufax won 3 Cy Young awards and finished in 2nd place 1 time.  He also won an MVP award and finished 2nd twice for that honor.  It can be easily argued that Sandy Koufax was elected into baseball’s Hall Of Fame for this short, but incredible 6-year span.

So what do you get a guy that has so many accolades to his credit?  Sandy Koufax retired at the age of 31.  In today’s game there are players that have yet to hit their prime by 31…  I would love to see what Sandy could have done with 5 more seasons.  So that is my gift, 5 more healthy seasons as a pitcher for the Dodgers.

Happy Birthday Mr. Koufax!!!

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