Friday, January 13, 2017

The Green Grass of Baseball

I've probably told this story in the blog before. How I saw my first in-person baseball game when I was 8 or 9 years old at Philadelphia's old Connie Mack Stadium. My strongest memory of that game was coming through the tunnel and seeing how green the grass was. I'd only seen baseball on a black and white TV. The green was just stunning to me.

So, here in the dead of winter, are some randomly selected baseball cards with a lot of green grass.

1990 Upper Deck

1994 Leaf

1997 Topps

2001 Stadium Club
That's probably Astroturf, but it's the right color.

2007 Topps

2009 Topps Target

2008 Bowman

1994 Yoo-Hoo

2007 Upper Deck

2008 Upper Deck First Edition

Monday, January 2, 2017

December 2016 Books Read

My reading goal for 2016 was to read 100 books. I fell a bit short only managing 83, which I guess, is still a lot of books.  I'll have to try harder in 2017.

My youngest son and his girlfriend gave me this for my birthday. We've lived in the Houston Texas area since 1995, but I still don't know the history of the city that well. This was a good way to learn. Houston was founded on the banks of Buffalo Bayou in 1836 and the waterway has been the life blood of the city ever since.

It's 2052 in London. Harry IX is king after the dissolution of Parliament. A comet is streaking across the skies, prompting doomsday cults around the world. The environment is a mess. 100-year old Cuthbert Handley, is homeless and perhaps insane. He keeps hearing voices which he determines are the voices of the animals in the London Zoo, the last zoo on Earth. Let us free they say. This was a difficult book. It took Bill Broun 14 years to write it. Sometime surreal, sometimes funny, sometimes very sad, it tells of Cuthbert's long life from his beginning in rural England, where he watched his beloved older brother drown, to his late years in London, alcoholic, on the streets, barely surviving. I'm not sure what the point was but as difficult it was to read, it was worth the effort.

 Another gift, this from my daughter for Christmas. I've read a lot of Margaret Atwood this year, never having read anything by her before. This is her first attempt at a graphic novel. In a city where the cat people (either people who can turn into cats or cats who can turn into people) a rat man invents a mutigenic formula which he hopes will make him the ultimate ruler. The guy on the cover gets accidentally exposed to the stuff in a car crash involving a cat and an owl. Pretty good but it's only the first volume!

This was a free Kindle book I got from Amazon via There are a lot of moving pieces in this story which made it complicated and hard to follow. A brief nuclear war destroys civilization. A man (who apparently thinks he's a descendant of Jesus) uses his special powers to gather a remnant together in Utah, to save America. A Mexican drug lord has invaded the US with a army of out of a Donald Trump nightmare, raping and killing everything in sight. A woman doctor in Cleveland, who has some kind of powers (maybe she's a witch), decides to cross the country to be with her son (who's with the Jesus guy). A former marine, who had a brief affair with her years ago is helping. She hadtelepathically summoned him from the East Coast. And it goes on from there. A good enough read while riding the stationary bike at LA Fitness, but not not enough to read anymore. As far as I can tell, there are at least 5 more books in the series.

Abbey is a middle-class, overworked mother living in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, whose small business is failing. Over lunch one day with her best friend, she spots a photograph of Alex van Holt in a magazine. She'd met Alex years ago but turned down a date. Alex, the son of a rich Philadelphia family is running for Congress. "What might have been?", she wonders. Then she has a accident in a department store, banging her head. When she awakes, she finds out she actually is Abbey van Holt. Most of the book is her trying to figure out what happened to her and her old life and trying to learn what is expected of her as a van Holt. Pretty entertaining. I grew up in Philadelphia so the locale and references to Philadelphia and it's environs also kept the book interesting to me. Does she manage to live as Abbey van Holt, or does she get back to her old life?  Sorry, that's a major spoiler.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My 2016 Collecting Year in Review

I went into 2016 with a plan to buy fewer cards over all while focusing more on Phillies and Astros cards (current and past). I think I was successful. I purchased 2,876 cards in 2016, about a thousand fewer than in 2015. Of those, 530 were Phillies cards and 162 were Astros. 1,888 were 2016 cards so about one thousand cards were from prior years. Most of them were from repacks, although I did make some dents in prior years Phillies want lists. This is the oldest card I bought:

1952 Topps #149
I got it for $2 at a card show in February. It's one of ten oldest cards I own.

Here are some other interesting cards that I haven't featured in prior posts this year.

1962 Topps #135
I got this for $3.50 at the same card show as above. It's the oldest Babe Ruth card I have although still nowhere as old as during his career.

1985 Renata Galasso Pete Rose #40
That February card show also yielded 3 cards from this set. I consider this a big find.

1990 Topps Tiffany #479

Topps Tiffany cards weren't easy to get back in the day, and are still rare. This is the first one from 1990 that I've seen. I pulled it from a repack in November.

1990 Upper Deck Comic Ball #398
Upper Deck produced these Comic Ball cards, featuring Warner Bros. cartoon characters from 1990-1992. I don't remember seeing them for sale. I had cards from the other 2 years but this is the first one from 1990. All of them have come from repacks.

1991 Topps Stand-Ups #12
The weirdest thing I bought this year. I got it from eBay in February. From the scan it looked like a die-cut card. There was little information in the listing. It is a plastic container of candy. It has a sliding door on the bottom to get the candy out but someone had glued it shut. 25 year-old candy was not that tempting.

1992 Donruss Rookies #69
I got this 132-card set in March, mainly to get the 5 Phillies cards in it. It's a nice looking set but it must have been a poor year for rookies. Besides Pedro Martinez, the only other big rookie was Manny Ramirez (which I already had).

1992 O-Pee-Chee #244
1992 Topps Gold Winner #244
I bought the complete Phillies team cards for each of these sets on eBay, filling some big holes in my Phillies want lists.

2016 Donruss Promising Pros Materials 
I'm not a big fan of modern Donruss but Nola is supposed to be a big part of the Phillies future and this is a nice looking relic card.

2016 Panini Diamond Kings Rookie Signatures Bronze
But I did like Panani's Diamond King set. I got this on eBay. It's the most expensive single card I bought this year.

2016 Grandstand Reading Fightin' Phils #24
I also bought a couple of 2016 Phillies minor league sets. Does the front design look familiar to you?

2016 Topps Opening Day Printing Plate #159
I managed to pull a printing plate out of a retail pack of Topps Opening Day.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Players I collect - 2016 Completed

I started this awhile ago and this will be the final post as I present 2016 cards of the players I collect. We're going to finish out with two current players.

Mike Trout

Bowman #1

Panini Diamond Kings #91
Topps #1
Topps #26
Topps American League Standouts #1
This was from a blister-pack I found at Target

Topps Allen & Ginter #194
According to, there were 890 Mike Trout cards issued this year. I only got 7 of them.

Melvin Upton

Stadium Club #193
A good old-fashioned sunglasses card.

Topps Update #186
In my database he's still B. J.

And that's it!