Monday, March 31, 2008

Philadelphia Scenes: Then and Now

Second in a series comparing some photos I took from the top of City Hall in Philadelphia in 1968 to similar pictures I took in 2006.

This first photo is the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building. I think it is also called the City Hall Annex. It was completed in 1963 so was still a new building in this photo. It has a large, empty plaza on one side. It's 265 feet tall (16 stories) and the design won an award from the American Institute of Architects in 1967.

38 years after I took this photo the building is still standing but as you can see the plaza is no longer empty.

There are several art works now in the plaza. One is a bigger-than-life statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo. You can just make it out if you click on the photo to enlarge it. The statue is in the lower left corner. The statue is made to look like Rizzo walking down the short flight of steps from the plaza to the street. At the center bottom of the picture is a very large piece called "Government of the People". It is my recollection that this statue was previously located on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I also remember that Frank Rizzo was very critical of this statue. I find it ironic that they now share a public space. It was erected in 1976 and there are some good pictures of it here. This site also shows two other statues on the plaza which aren't visible in my photo.

You can also see a number of small pieces scattered all over the plaza. These pieces collectively are called "Your Move" and represent many game pieces. In this close-up you can see dominoes and several game markers. There are also chess men and checkers. To give you a sense of scale, the dominoes are about 8 feet tall. It was completed in 1996.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Song of the Week - Love is the Drug (Roxy Music)

After a week off for Easter. Song of the Week is back!

If you can name the artists of the songs I list below please post a comment. I'll post the artists before next week's Song of the Week.

Although I'm sure St. Paul said it better, according to my iTunes library:

Love Gives, Love Takes
Love Hurts
Love Is A Battlefield
Love Is A Rose
Love is Gonna Bring Us Back Alice
Love Is Never Equal
Love Is the Answer
Love Is The Tender Trap
Love Should
Love Will Find A Way
Love's Not Where We Thought We Left It
and of course,
Love Is The Drug

T´ain´t no big thing
To wait for the bell to ring
T´ain´t no big thing
The toll of the bell
Aggravated - spare for days
I troll downtown the red light place
Jump up bubble up - what´s in store
Love is the drug and I need to score
Showing out, showing out, hit and run
Boy meets girl where beat goes on
Stitched up tight, can´t shake free
Love is the drug, got a hook on me
Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug i´m thinking of
Oh oh can´t you see
Love is the drug for me
Late that night I park my car
Stake my place in the singles bar
Face to face, toe to toe
Heart to heart as we hit the floor
Lumber up, limbo down
The locked embrace, the stumble round
I say go, she say yes
Dim the lights, you can guess the rest
Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug i´m thinking of
Oh oh can´t you see
Love is the drug, got a hook in me
Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug i´m thinking of
Oh oh can´t you see
Love is the drug for me

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy National Baseball Card Day!

Today is National Baseball Card day, in case you missed the banner headlines and all the television promotions.

Cardboard Junkie mentioned this yesterday. If you go to your local card shop you can get a free 10-card pack of special cards put out by Topps and Upper Deck. Junkie also mentioned that Toys R Us had Upper Deck Super Star Packs. Since I don't have a local card shop, I decided to go over to Toys R Us and see what I could find.

They had the Upper Deck cards, which turned out to be a box with 75 Upper Deck Series One cards and three "Super Star" cards. These look like the regular Upper Deck cards but with gold foil instead of silver, and a gold foil Super Star marking on the front. There are 10 cards in the set. I'm not sure but they appear to be numbered the same as the equivalent card in the Series One set. This will cause much confusion in the future. The best card I got was Ichiro.

They also had some of the 2008 McFarlane Cooperstown Collection of baseball player figures. I bought the Mike Schmidt and the Chase Utley. I haven't opened the Schmidt yet but it appears to be the exact same figure as the 2005 Schmidt I have except for a uniform change. The 2008 is in the home uni while the 2005 figure is in the away uni.

When I got to the checkout counter the girl at the register asked if I wanted to enter a contest. She handed me the Opening Day 2008 Home Run Scratch-N-Win Game card. Fabulous prizes but I didn't win anything. She also asked me if I wanted a free pack of baseball cards. I said "Sure, that's why I came here today. It's National Baseball Card Day". She said "Really"? I said, "That's why you're giving away free baseball cards". "Oh", she said, "I don't follow sports".

There were 5 Topps and 5 Upper Deck cards in the pack. The Topps cards look just like the regular Topps cards with the addition of the National Baseball Card Day logo. I was happy to get Ryan Howard.

The Upper Cards have a different design then the regular cards but looks exactly like the 2006 Upper Deck National Baseball Card Day cards. That's the only other one of these I have. Perhaps they use the same design every year.

So I had a happy National Baseball Card Day. I hope you did too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Card Trade with White Sox Cards

It's been about 2 months since I found that there were baseball card blogs on the Internet. What I've found is a thriving community of people who collect and trade baseball cards and love to talk about them. Sounds like my kind of people. So I've been posting comments on the other blogs and have gotten some comments in return. Several other bloggers have put a link to my site on their pages. But this week I feel like a real member of the community since I've managed to make a trade with Steve, who runs the White Sox Cards blog. He has a 'want list' posted. I offered him a trade, 1998 White Sox cards I had for Phillies and Astros cards he had. After several emails we had a deal. He describes what he got from me here.

I was expecting 14 cards from Steve and I got 20. Thanks Steve! Luckily I threw in a few extra cards for him. Here's what I got from him.

What I expected (and got):

Chase Utley - 2004 Fleer InScribed
Jeff Bagwell - 2004 Fleer Legacy
Mike Schmidt - 2005 Donruss Greats
Jeff Bagwell - 2005 Fleer Platinum
Roy Oswalt - 2005 Throwback Threads
Brett Myers - 2005 Topps Total
Fernando Nieve - 2006 Topps '52
Roy Oswalt - 2007 Allen & Ginter
Yoel Hernandez - 2007 Allen & Ginter
Cole Hamels - 2007 Bowman
Pat Burrell - 2007 Bowman
Brett Myers - 2007 Bowman
Hector Bimenez - 2007 Bowman
Michael Bourne - 2007 Bowman

Bonus Cards (none of which I already had)

James Barthmaier - 2006 Bowman Heritage Prospects
Tim Moss - 2006 Bowman Heritage Prospects
Brad Lidge - 2007 Allen & Ginter
Morgan Ensberg - 2006 Ultra
Morgan Ensberg - 2006 Turkey Red
Bobby Estalella - 1998 Score Rookie/Traded
Mike Hampton - 1998 Score Rookie/Traded

These are a mix of Astros and Phillies. The sharp eyed among you may remember that the Phillies traded Michael Bourn to the Astros for Brad Lidge. I always liked Lidge so I can still root for him and collect his cards now that he is with the Phillies. And I've been looking forward to Michael Bourn, now I get to see him play more often since he's an Astro. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that the Schmidt card is my favorite of the bunch. I'm glad Steve offered it. I'll have a post later about Schmidt cards issued after his retirement in 1989.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team: Jordan - Morandini

Ricky Jordan - 1993 Stadium Club

Ricky was the Phillies 1st round draft pick in 1983. He made his major league debut on July 17, 1988. At first base, where he mostly played for his career. He lost his starting job when John Kruk was signed by the Phillies in 1989. Ironically, his best season was probably 1989 when he appeared in 144 games, hit 12 home runs with 75 rbis and a batting average of 0.285. By 1993, he was primarily a late inning replacement and pitch hitter. He appeared in 90 games but only in 33 games at 1st base (his only position). He had a batting average of 0.289 but only hit 5 home runs and 18 rbis. He had 11 at bats in the playoffs with 2 hits. Ricky became a free agent after the strike-shortened 1994 season It is my recollection that Jordan was among a few players that year that were especially hurt by the strike. These were guys who became free agents after the strike with hopes of making it big but didn't. Jordan was eventually signed by the Mariners in March of 1996 (after not playing in 1995 at all). He appeared in 33 games before shoulder problems forced him to retire.

John Kruk - Upper Deck SP

Kruk was the Padres 3rd round draft pick in 1981 and made his major league debut on April 7, 1986. In his first two years with the Padres he hit for a combined average of 0.312. An interesting stat while with the Padres - on April 13, 1987 (my oldest son's 3rd birthday), Marvel Wynne, Tony Gwynn, and Kruk became the first in major league history to lead off a game with home runs. The Padres went on to beat the Giants in that game 13-6.

In 1988, Kruk only hit 0.241 and started off the 1989 season hitting 0.184. My recollection is that Kruk had problems with Larry Bowa, the Padres manager in 1988. The Padres traded him with Randy Ready to the Phillies in 1989 for Chris James. In 281 at bats with the Phillies in 1989, Kruk batted 0.331. He was an All-Star in 1991, 1992 and 1993. In 1993, Kruk batted 0.316 with 85 rbis, 14 HR, 100 runs scored and 111 walks. He hit for a combined average of 0.281 in the playoffs.

In spring training of 1994, Kruk was diagnosed with testicular cancer after being hit in the groin by a wild pick-off throw by teammate Mitch Williams which broke his protective cup. He came back after surgery for 75 games and hit for a 0.302 average. Kruk was signed by the White Sox for the 1993 season but knee problems forced him to retire after only 45 games.

Since retirement Kruk has been a coach in the Phillies minor league system. Currently he appears on the Fox Sports show, The Best Damn Sports Show Period.

Mickey Morandini - Upper Deck

Morandini was the Phillies 5th round draft pick in 1988 and made his major league debut at 2nd base on 9/1/90. He was known primarily for his defense and never hit for average or power. On 9/20/92, he completed an unassisted triple play involving Barry Bonds. One of the few Phillie highlights in 1992. In '93, Mickey batted 0.247 , but had a fielding percentage of 0.990. He was an All Star in 1995. The Phillies traded him to the Cubs in December 1997 for Doug Glanville. He came back to the Phillies in 2000, but was traded to the Blue Jays in August or Rob Ducey. He retired at the end of the 2000 season.

I included the front and back of this card because it happens to be one of my favorite cards. It shows two photographs from the same play.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Computer

My old computer (on the left) meets my new computer

I've been a bit behind in posting because I bought a new computer! My old computer was a Macintosh Power PC G4 iMac which I bought almost exactly 6 years ago. This computer was a screamer then (especially compared to the poker I had before that). It was a 700 mHz machine with 512 MB of RAM and an 80 GB internal hard drive. To get more file space, I've added a 230 GB Firewire drive and a 239 GB USB Drive, They came in handy for moving stuff where it had to go. I'm sure the geeks would like to learn the specifications of the new machine. The new machine is running a 2.4 Ghz, Intel Core Duo processor. Which means it can run about 3.4 times as fast as the old machine, and since it has two processors, it really runs 6.8 times as fast. And speed is where its at in computers. And the monitor is bigger, 15" to 20".

Most of my collections are tracked in elaborate databases which I've largely designed myself using a program called FileMaker V5.5, The trusty of version of FM of course won't run on the new computer. So I'm importing the data into a new FileMaker product called Bento. Much simpler to use but still pretty powerful and way cheaper than FileMaker 9.0. I'm on vacation this week and will be spending way too much time with the computers. Meanwhile, new baseball cards are piling up, my bonsai need pruning and potting and I only just got my Christmas 2007 pictures out of the camera.

It could be a couple of days until the next post. I want to post the nice Mike Schmidt I got in a traded with Trader Steve over on the White Shx Cards blog.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter with my family

The Song of the Week will return next week. Wishing you all a Happy Easter.

My wife, Anne Marie, and I in front of our first house at Easter 1982. We lived in Levittown, PA, a suburb just north of Philadelphia.

Easter 1985, now joined by our first son, Clifford, who's about a year old. Our daughter is on her way.

Easter 1988 in our second house in Warminster, PA, a suburb to the west of Philadelphia. Clifford is 4 and Maggie is 3.

Easter 1990. We are now joined by our second son, Philip who is almost 2 years old.

Easter 1996. Our first Easter in Texas. We're living in League City a small town south of Houston.

Easter 2000. My wife and I appear to be shrinking as time goes on. Or perhaps the children are growing.

Easter 2003. Philip, our youngest (at 14), Anne Marie, Maggie (17), Clifford (18) and me (real old).

Easter 2006. We're joined by Becky, Clifford's girlfriend. After a consecutive string going back to 1979, this was the last year I was able to get the whole family together for an Easter photo.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Public Art - Philadelphia

I was originally going to include public art in Philadelphia as part of my Philadelphia Scenes series but I've got photos of public art in Houston (where I live now) and some other cities, so I decided to start a new series.

Love - Robert Indiana (1978)

According to Wikipedia this image was originally created by Indiana for a US postage stamp in 1973. This statue version was created in 1978. There apparently are many versions of this statue around the world (Wikipedia lists 16). It may just be my Philadelphia chauvinism showing, but I believe that this version is the first. Robert Indiana failed to copyright the image, allowing it to be used by anyone. And it is a popular image. It can be found on coffee mugs, Christmas cards, and jewelery. I took this photo in June 2006. The fountain behind it is the Ellen Phillips Memorial Fountain. The Love statue is located on the northwest corner of 15th and JFK Boulevard. It is just across the street from City Hall and little park it is located in is the southern anchor of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The next picture is taken from the observation deck of City Hall showing the Parkway. Toward the bottom is the fountain and the statue is directly in front of it between the two clumps of trees on the edge of the fountain. Click on the picture for a better view. At the far end of the Parkway is the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Clothespin Claus Oldenburg (1976)

Philadelphia, as do I'm sure, many other cities, has a public art law which requires that large buildings in the downtown area spend some portion of the building cost to erect public art. It was under that law in which this statue by Claus Oldenburg was commissioned. It is located on the north side of Market at 15th street. Like the Love statue, it too is across the street from City Hall but in a different direction. I took the photo about 10 minutes after the Love photo. I couldn't find out any more than basic facts about Clothespin. I remember that it wasn't well liked when it was installed. I don't know how Philadelphians feel about it today, but I always liked it. I remember that the Clothespin was orange when it was first installed but I'm probably wrong.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nice Card File - Joba Chamberlain

2007 Bowman Draft Future's Game Jersey

This guy was the Yankee's 1st round draft pick in 2006. He started the 2007 season in single A, moved to AA and then to AAA, compiling a 9-2 record with 135 K's and just 27 walks. He made his major league debut on August 7, 2007. As a middle reliever, he won 2, saved 1, struck out 34 in 24 innings and walked 6. Pretty good for a guy who didn't start pitching until his senior year in high school. I saw a recent story in the paper that the Yankees are trying to figure out what to do with him this year. Looks like he's going to start the season as a middle reliever. My prediction is that when Andy Pettitte goes down again, they will make Joba a starter.

You can go on eBay these days and pick up relic cards pretty cheap (99 cents plus shipping) as long as you don't care who's on the card., as low as 99 cents and a few bucks for shipping. But I pulled this card from a pack. The catalog lists it at $25. The pack cost me $0.42/card. I love pulling cards like this.

His name jumped out at me because my mother's maiden name was Chamberlain. But this guy isn't any more related to me than Wilt Chamberlain or Neville Chamberlain were. Joba was born in Nebraska and he's a Native American. But there haven't been all that many Chamberlains in sports so I hope he does well.

He's also one of the first players to make it into the major's who is younger than my oldest son.

Monday, March 17, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Bonus Card

1993 Upper Deck - Team Stars subset

This card was not with my 1993 Phillies cards and I had forgotten all about it. Today, while digging around in my desk at work for something, I found the card. Fortunately it was in a hard plastic sleeve. I remember that I had taken it to work when it was new (back in 1993) to show my co-workers. This was when I still lived in the Philadelphia area. It got moved to Texas with the rest of my office stuff in 1995 and finally resurfaced today. So it will be reunited with its fellows after 15 years!

The 1993 Upper Deck set had a series of these Team Stars, one for each team. Dykstra's nickname was Nails so the Hammer and Nails theme was obvious. In case you can't tell, the other guys are holding sledge hammers on their shoulders and Dykstra appears to be holding 9-inch nails. You can click on the images to get a larger view. The text on the back of the card was talking about the 1992 season. By the time I would have brought this card to work, the Phillies would have been well on their way to winning the NL East.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Song of the Week - Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)

Neil Young first recorded this song on his Rust Never Sleeps album around 1980. This was followed up by the Live Rust tour album. Over the years, a typical Neil Young show has an acoustic portion and an electric portion. He wrote two versions of this song. "My My Hey Hey (Into the Blue)" is acoustic and "Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)" is electric. The songs have slightly different lyrics but both are about the fleeting fame of the rock and roll star. As Neil says acoustically "It's better to burn out then to fade away". Electrically he says "It's better to burn out, 'cause rust never sleeps".

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

Out of the blue and into the black
You pay for this, but they give you that
And once you're gone, you can't come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he's not forgotten
Is this the story of johnny rotten?
It's better to burn out 'cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nice Card File - Double jersey card

2002 Upper Deck Double Game-Worn Gems

I just got this card today. It was packaged with a jumbo pack of 2006 Upper Deck for $9.99. That works out to 30 cents/card. I don't mind getting a double jersey, limited edition, serially numbered card for 30 cents. Especially since the card books at $15.

But there are some curious things about this card.

1. Although this is a card issued by Upper Deck in 2002, it features jerseys worn "at the 2000 All-Star Event".

2. The name of the card says "game-worn" but the back says the jerseys were worn at an "event". It doesn't say they were worn in the All-Star game. Besides, I don't remember that the American League players wore red jerseys in the game. So how can they be game-worn?

3. The card features Jermaine Dye and Tim Hudson both of whom appeared in the 2000 All-Star game. Dye, however, was still with the Royals at All-Star time. He was traded to the A's in late July.

Friday, March 14, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Hollins - Jackson

Dave Hollins (3B) - 1993 Flair

Hollins was drafted in the 6th round by the Padres in 1987. He was acquired by the Phillies from the Padres in December 1989 Rule V Draft. He was a part time player in 1990 and 1991 but took over 3B full time in 1992. 1992 and 1993 were pretty good years for Hollins. He had almost identical stats in both years. In '93 he had 93 rbis, 18 home runs and batted 0.273. He was also named to the All-Star team. He only hit 0.200 in the NLCS but 2 of his 4 hits were home runs. Early in the 1994 season he broke a small bone in one of his hands. This limited his playing time in 1994 and 1995. In 1995, the Phillies traded him to the Red Sox for Mark Whiten. The Phillies resigned him as a free agent for the 2002 season but he only had 17 at bats before being released. He finished his career with a 0.260 BA and 112 home runs. He is currently a scout for the Orioles. He made $12.6 million in his playing career.

Pete Incaviglia (OF) 1993 Stadium Club

Pete was the Expos 1st round draft pick (the 8th pick overall) in 1985, although he never played for them. After 5 years with the Rangers and a year apiece with the Tigers and Astros, the Phillies signed him to a 2 year, $2 million contract in 1993. Inky immediately fit into the 'blue collar' feel of the Phillies. Although 1993 wasn't his best year, his stats had been declining since 1990 and '93 was something of a come back year and a last gasp year. He was pretty much a non-factor in the play-offs getting only 3 hits 19 at bats, 1 of which was a home run. The Phillies resigned him for 1996 but he was traded during the season to the Orioles. Although he continued to play until 1998 he saw little playing time in '97 and '98. He finished his career with a 0.246 BA and 204 home runs, and a career salary of $6.3 million. He also struck out 1,277 times.

Pete had a great college career, hitting 100 home runs in 213 games with Oklahoma State. After he was drafted by the Expos, he refused to play in the minors. The Expos traded him immediately after signing him to the Rangers who agreed to put him directly into the majors. After this, baseball instituted a rule prohibiting a team from trading a player until he'd been under contract for a year. This is known as the Pete Incaviglia rule.

Danny Jackson (Pitcher) 1993 Pinnacle

Jackson was the first pick of the 1983 draft. Drafted by the Royals he pitched for them for 5 years. He played for the Reds, Cubs and Pirates. His best season was in 1988 with the Reds when he posted a 23-8 season. He lost out in the Cy Young Award voting to Orel Hershisher, who also had a 23-8 record. He was drafted by the Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft. The Marlins immediately traded him to the Phillies for Joel Adamson and Matt Whisenant (I never heard of them either). The Phillies signed him to a 2-year, $5.3 million contract. Jackson was 12-11 with an ERA of 3.11 in 1993. He won 1 game in the NLCS but only lasted 5 innings in his one World Series start. Jackson had another good year in 1994 with the Phillies going 14-6 with a 3.26 ERA, and an All-Star berth. He was a free agent after the '94 season and the Cardinals signed him to a 3-year, $10.8 million contract. He was 2-12 with the Cardinals in 1995 and injuries limited his effectiveness after that. He was a combined 5-19 in '97-'98. He ended his career with a 112-131 record and an ERA of 4.01. He made about $24.5 million in his career, or about $219,000 per win.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Philadelphia Scenes - Then and Now

Philadelphia East Market Street

For those who don't know Philadelphia, the downtown area is bisected by two streets. Broad Street runs north and south and Market Street runs east and west. At the intersection of these streets sits Philadelphia's City Hall. Here is a photo of City Hall looking south down Broad Street. This photo was taken in June 2006 and the building was being renovated. Most of the lower portion of the building is covered by scaffolding. On top of the tower is a large statue of William Penn, the city founder. At the base of the statue is an observation deck. It was a beautiful day so I decided to go up to the deck and take some pictures.
This is the view from the tower looking east on Market Street. The Delaware River can be seen in the background. What about that building with PFSF on the side. PSFS means Philadelphia Savings Fund Society. At one time it was the oldest and one of the most powerful banks in the city. It had been founded in 1816 and was the first savings bank in the country. In the early '90s it was acquired by a bank from Pittsburgh. And there have been many mergers since then. But through it all, each owner of the building has agreed to maintain the sign because it is a Philadelphia landmark. The building, erected in 1932, is a National Historical Landmark. It is 32 stories tall and in 1932 was considered a skyscraper. Today it is the Lowe's Philadelphia Hotel.
The following picture I took in 1968 in roughly the same direction. Back then, the PSFS building, along with City Hall dominated the city skyline. And look at how hazy it is! I remember this day as being a sunny summer day. The two hulking buildings to the left of the PSFS building (about a third of the way from the top), were the two of the three dominant department stores in the city, Lits on the north side of Market and Gimbals directly across the street. The third large store was Wanamakers which was located across the street from City Hall. All three stores have long since gone out of business.
A funny story about my visit to the tower in 2006. To get on the observation deck you ride a tiny elevator up through the tower. The tower is just a shell, there are no rooms in it. The elevator holds the operator and 3-4 people. Riding up with me that day was a man and his young son. We got to talking and the guy said his wife had reported to jury duty (the courts are in City Hall) and he decided to take his son up on the tower while he was waiting for her. I told him I hadn't been there since 1968. After I left the tower I checked out of my hotel, got a rental car and drove out to my sister-in-law's house in another part of the city where I was to spend the weekend. On the way there I decided to visit the one of the neighborhoods I lived in as a kid. As I was heading off the freeway and on to the surface streets I thought I'd have lunch first. After driving around for awhile I found a Wendy's. As I was waiting in line I realized that the guy who had visited the observation deck with me was standing in front of me with his son and wife. I said hello and he practically jumped out of his shoes with surprise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nice Card File - Greg Maddux

1996 Pinnacle Christie Brinkley Collection

When I first started collecting cards I lived in the Philadelphia PA area and there were any number of card shops and baseball card shows in the area. In those days I concentrated on buying packs of new cards and Phillies cards from the past. When I moved to the Houston TX area in 1995, I was disappointed to find an entirely different market. Baseball card shows were rare events and there was only one card store (since closed) that I liked. So I turned to eBay. I started buying hobby boxes on eBay in 1999. In early 2003, I wondered how difficult it would be to find specific individual cards. I picked up a recent Beckett catalog and pretty much picked a card a random, found it on eBay, bid on it and won it. This is what I got.

I paid $3.54 for it in January 2003. I didn't record the shipping but it would have been $2-3. At that time the card was listed in Beckett at $15. It's dropped to $12 now. I thought it was a pretty good deal. I've learned that almost any card I look for on eBay can be found if I'm willing to pay enough for it. I'm generally in the market for cards I can get for $10 and less. You'd be surprised what I've been able to find. I estimate that I've bought about 1,000 individual cards on eBay since then and maybe another 100 insert sets. This Maddux card is the first card I specially targeted to buy so it holds a special place in my collection.

No more Braves pitchers for awhile. Next up will be the continuation of my series on the 1993 Phillies.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Song of the Week - It Hasn't Happened Yet William Shatner

In 1968, Bill Shatner (yeah, the Star Trek Bill Shatner) released an album called The Transformed Man. To say that he was ridiculed for this work would be an understatement. To this day, some say that his frenzied version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, is one of the worst recordings ever. Shatner says this album is misunderstood, but that doesn't make it any easier to listen to. In 2004, Shatner released another album called Has Been. This one was produced by Ben Folds and the songs were co-written by Shatner and Folds. This album has received good reviews and the 4 songs I know from it are pretty good. The one I'm featuring is my favorite. By any measure, Bill Shatner has had a successful career. He has 4 hit prime-time television shows (Star Trek, T. J. Hooker, Rescue 911, and Boston Legal) plus the Star Trek Movie franchise to his credit and a career that spans more than 50 years. In It Hasn't Happened Yet Shatner expresses the insecurity any actor may feel about his career, or, for that matter, any person may feel. Whether it be trying to make your parents proud or looking for that serenity you think is finally your due.

There are a couple of Star Trek and Bill Shatner in-jokes in the studio version which aren't in the live version. Of course, the reference to climbing the wall at Yosemite is directly from Star Trek V. But in the studio version, it sure sounds like Mr. Spock saying "Be one with the mountain". And in the studio version a short list of fears is recited in the background, one being "Fear of losing my hair" (Shatner is well known to wear a hair piece).

I was crossing the snow fields
In front of the capital building
It was Christmas and I was alone
Strange city
Strangers for friends
I was broke

As the carillons sang its song
I dreamt of success
I would be the best
I would make my folks proud
I would be happy

It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened

Yes there are nods in my direction
Clap of hands
A knowing smile
But still
I’m scared again
I’m scared again
I’m scared again

Foot slipped
Pebbles fall and so did I
I’m high
On Yosemite
The big gray wall
Fear of falling
Where to put my foot next
Fear of failure
I’m afraid I’m going to fall
(Be at one with the mountain)
I whispered in the air
I’m afraid I’m going to fall (falling)
Fear of failure (failure)
Fear of losing my hair
When is the mountain scaled
When do I feel I haven't failed
I’ve got to get it together man

It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened

People come up and say hello
Ok, I can get to the front of the line
But you have to ignore the looks
And yet

I’m waiting for that feeling of contentment
That ease at night when you put your head down and the rhythm slow to sleep
My heads sways and eyes start awake
I’m there not halfway between sleep and death
But looking into
Eyes wide open
Trying to remember
What I might have done
Should've done
At my age I need serenity
I need peace

It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened yet
It hasn't happened
It hasn't happened

Friday, March 7, 2008

Nice Card File - Tom Glavine

2001 Leaf Certified Materials Fabric of the Game

I'm not sure when the first baseball cards with pieces of a players game-worn uniform or game-used bat appeared. The oldest one I have is from the year 2000. This is one of my favorites. For one thing, it features Tom Glavine, one of my favorite players. The piece of jersey (or relic as its called in the baseball card world) is relatively large. And the card is a numbered limited edition. Glavine had a great year in 2001. He was 16-7 with an ERA of 3.57 and 116 strikeouts. He's had a great career. He is a 10-time All Star and a 2-time Cy Young Award winner. And last year he won his 300th game of his career. A sure Hall of Famer.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Eisenreich to Greene

Jim Eisenreich (OF) - 1993 Ultra
Jim Eisenreich was drafted originally by the Twins in 1980 and made his major league debut in 1982. He went into voluntary retirement from 1984 to 1987 to undergo treatment for Tourette Syndrome. TS is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by multiple physical tics and at least one vocal tic. It has no cure but can be controlled. The medication Eisenreich had to take made it difficult for him to play but by 1987 he had it under control and returned to baseball with the Royals in 1987. After he left the Twins he was replaced by Kirby Puckett.

The Phillies signed Jim in 1993 as a free agent. Although his playing time was always limited due to his condition, when he played he was a pretty consistent player. He had one of his best seasons in 1993, playing a career high 153 games in the outfield. He batted 0.318 for the season with 54 RBIs and 51 runs scored. He didn't hit well in the play-offs, hitting a combined 0.195, but he did have 7 RBIs in the World Series.

In 1997 he was signed as a free agent by the Marlins and, along with former team mate Darren Daulton, was part of the 1997 Marlins World Series winning team in 1997. Eisenreich was part of the great breakup of that Marlins team when he was traded with Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and Charles Johnson to the Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.

Jim retired at the end of the 1998 season. He now lives in Kansas City where he and his wife operate the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette Syndrome. My recollection is that while still a player, Jim would visit children in hospitals who were being treated for TS.

Jim made more than $10,000,000 in his career.

Jim Fergosi (Manager) 1993 Topps
Before he was a manager, Fergosi had an 18 year career (1961-1978) as an infielder for various teams. He was a 6-time All Star and a Gold Glove winner. He never appeared in a post season game as a player. He has the distinction of having been involved in what some call one of the worst trades ever. On December 10, 1971, the Angels traded him to the Mets for a young Nolan Ryan and 3 other players.

Fergosi went right from playing to managing. He managed 15 years in the big leagues between 1978 and 2000. He compiled a a career record of 1028 wins and 1098 loses. He took two teams to the post season. In 1979 his Angels lost the ALCS to the Orioles. And of course 1993. In what seems to be a theme of the 1993 Phillies team, Fergosi had his best year by far as a manager as the Phillies finished the season with a record of 97-65. This is even more remarkable when you consider that the 1992 Phillies lost 92 games.

Tommy Greene (Pitcher) 1993 Upper Deck
Tommy Greene was the Braves #1 draft pick (14th pick overall) in 1985. After having a 2-2 record with the Braves in 1989 and 1990, the Braves traded him and Dale Murphy to the Phillies for Jim Vatcher and Victor Rosario on August 9, 1990. Greene was 13-7 in 1991 with a no-hit, no-run game (he walked 7) against the Expos. But he was only 3-3 in 1992 being on the disabled list from May to September. In 1993 he had his best season (of course). He was 16-4 with 7 complete games, 2 shut-outs, 167 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.42. Many remember Curt Schilling as the ace of the 1993 Phillies staff but an argument could be made that Greene had a better season. He did not pitch well in the play-offs. He was 1-1 against the Braves in the NLCS but got lit up by the Blue Jays in Game 4 for 7 runs in 2 innings of work.

Greene was not an effective pitcher after 1993. He was 2-5 with only 13 starts in '94-'95 spending most of those seasons on the DL. He started (and lost) 1 game for the Astros in 1996.

He made $4,800,000 in his career.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bonsai - Crepe Myrtle

If you're not from the south or live in the south you may not know what a crepe myrtle is. I don't remember ever seeing one before I moved to the Texas Gulf Coast. They're everywhere here. They make a nice addition to a garden because they come in many sizes, shapes, and flower colors and have flowers from spring into fall. And they make a nice bonsai project because they grow pretty fast. And they get flowers. I bought the specimen below in the spring of '05. There were actually two plants in the pot, one with pink flowers, the other with lavender flowers. When you convert a plant like this to a bonsai you have to do some serious trimming to both the roots and the branches. Here is what it looked like in August '05. It had grown back leaves but did not get any flowers the rest of the growing season.

In the winter a crepe myrtle loses all of its leaves. So the bonsai looked like 2 dead sticks all winter. In the spring of '06 I found that one of the plants was a dead stick. But I didn't know which one lived (the pink or the lavender) because it never got flowers in 2006. Part of the reason was that I was keeping it inside. It had had a serious aphid attack near the end of 2005. So I was keeping it inside to keep the aphids off. Later in the summer of 2006 I was told by a bonsai expert that I had to keep the plant outside all year long or it would die. So outside it went. It survived the winter of 2006 and grew nicely in 2007. One of the things you do with bonsai plants is train them to grow into a pleasing shape. I haven't quite got that part down yet. I let the crepe myrtle grow however it wanted to in 2007. It put out one branch that was over 2 feet long (compared to the trunk which was about 8 inches tall). On the end of that long branch it got some flowers. They were lavender as shown in the next photo. But that was it, about 5 buds.

Spring has started to show here in southeast Texas and the crepe myrtle has survived another winter. It has 12 sprouts on it which is more than it got last year. And it's at about the same stage of growth that my garden crepes are. Last year it was way behind. So maybe it will gets lots of flowers this year. Hope runs high in the spring for the bonsai grower just like for the baseball fan.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Phorgotten Phillie Phile - Tom Newell

Tom Newell - 1988 Donruss

This guy would be hard to remember. He was the Phillies 24th round draft pick in 1983. Not a high pick (he was the 610th player chosen of 827 drafted that year) so I guess not a lot was expected of him.

According to the back of his card he was 8-12 with a 4.35 ERA and 128 strikeouts in Portland Maine when the Phillies brought him up on September 9, 1987. Since the Phillies finished 1987 with a 80-82 record and in 4th place in the NL East, its safe to say he wasn't brought up to help in a stretch drive for a pennant.

Newell pitched exactly 1 inning spread over 2 games. He gave up 4 hits (one a home run), walked 3 and struck out 1. Somehow he only gave up 4 runs (all earned) for a staggering ERA of 36.00. By September 18th he was gone. He was 24 years old.

Newell played for the Phillies in Reading and Portland in 1988. He appears to not have played anywhere in 1989 (injured perhaps?). In '90 and '91 he played in the Yankees farm system. He never made it back to the Majors.

Newell appears on one other baseball card I own, a card from the 1988 Fleer set where he appears as a Major League Prospect. Also on that card is another Phorgotten Phillie, Greg Jelks. Such was the state of the Phillies farm system in 1988.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Song of the Week - Simple Twist of Fate Bob Dylan

This song is from Dylan's 1975 album "Blood on the Tracks", his 15th album. It is one of my all-time favorite albums and one of the first CDs that I bought where I already had the LP. It was something of a comeback album for Dylan and reached #1 on the Billboard charts. The big single from the record was "Tangled Up In Blue". It remains one of Dylan's biggest selling works. This live version was recorded in 1975. The lyrics he sings here are a little different than on the studio recording.

They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark,
She looked at him and he felt a spark tingle to his bones.
'Twas then he felt alone and wished that he'd gone straight
And watched out for a simple twist of fate.

They walked along by the old canal
A little confused, I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel with a neon burnin' bright.
He felt the heat of the night hit him like a freight train
Moving with a simple twist of fate.

A saxophone someplace far off played
As she was walkin' on by the arcade.
As the light bust through a beat-up shade where he was wakin' up,
She dropped a coin into the cup of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate.

He woke up, the room was bare
He didn't see her anywhere.
He told himself he didn't care, pushed the window open wide,
Felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate.

He hears the ticking of the clocks
And walks along with a parrot that talks,
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks where the sailers all come in.
Maybe she'll pick him out again, how long must he wait
One more time for a simple twist of fate.

People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within.
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring.
She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

Copyright © 1974 Ram's Horn Music