Friday, February 29, 2008

My favorite White Sox card

This is for Steve who writes the White Sox Cards blog. I told him I'd post my favorite White Sox card. And this was before I knew he was a fan of John Kruk.

John Kruk - 1996 Collector's Choice

John Kruk, of course, was one of the powerhouses of the Phillies incredible run to the World Series in 1993. In spring training of 1994, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, had surgery and missed more than half of the season. He was 33 years old. But he did come back that season playing 75 games and managed to hit 0.302.

He became a free agent at the end of 1994.

In 1995 he signed with the White Sox and played 45 games. But with bad knees, even playing at DH was tough. On July 30, in a game in Baltimore, he hit a single, took himself out of the game and retired. He finished his career with a 0.300 batting average and 100 home runs.

According to my big Beckett alphabetical book of cards, this (and the gold and silver parallels) was the only 1996 card to feature Kruk. So I consider this his last true baseball card.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weird Card file

Upper Deck Ultimate Victory (Japanese version)

Upper Deck Ultimate Victory was a baseball card set first published by Upper Deck in 1999. One of the insert sets was called STATure. The set featured players with outstanding statistical achievements. This card looks like that insert set but I don't know if the Japanese card is a standalone card or what.

I know that baseball is very popular in Japan but I know nothing about baseball card collecting in Japan. A quick search on eBay brings up 3 pages. Some of these are cards are American cards featuring Japanese players but a fair number of them were published in Japan. The only other Japanese card I have is a single card from the Japanese version of the 2002 Topps set.

I don't know anything about the player. His name is Shinji Sasaoka. He's clearly a pitcher and pitched for the Carp. The stat on the front of the card is and earned run average of 3.20. Is this an exceptional ERA in Japan?

Note that the front of the card is mostly in English while the back is mostly Japanese. My favorite thing on the card is the Carp logo on the
back. Click on the card to get an enlarged picture and a better view of the logo.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Duncan to Dykstra

Mariano Duncan (SS-2B) - 1993 Score

Mariano Duncan was drafted by the Dodgers as a free agent in 1982. He made his major league debut in 1985 with the Dodgers. The Phillies signed him as a free agent on 12/10/91 to a 3-year contract worth $6.250 million. In 1993 he hit 0.282 with 11 home runs and 78 rbis. He hit 0.318 in the 1993 playoffs. Even though he was an All Star in 1994, Duncan's playing time decreased significantly in 1994 (he only appeared in 88 games). He was a free agent at the end of the 1994 season. The Phillies offered him $500,000 and he accepted. The Reds picked him off waivers in 1995. He also played briefly for the Yankees and Blue Jays before retiring in 1987. He made $10.275 million in his career, most of it with the Phillies. In 1998 he played in Japan. Duncan appeared in two other World Series, winning with the Reds in 1990 and Yankees in 1996.

Lenny Dykstra (Outfield) - 1993 BowmanDykstra was the Mets 13th round draft pick in 1981 and made his major league debut with the Mets in 1985. Before coming to the Phillies, Dykstra's big moment was a walk-off home run in the third game of the 1986 World Series which propelled the Mets to win the series over the Red Sox. The Phillies traded Juan Samuel to the Mets on 6/18/89, getting Dykstra and Roger McDowell in return. Dykstra had a great 1990 season with the Phillies appearing in the All Star game. He was batting at a 0.400 clip into June, finishing the season at 0.325. His playing time was limited in 1991 and 1992 by injuries. In 1991 he crashed his car into a tree (while driving drunk) breaking his collarbone and injuring teammate Darrin Daulton. In 1992 he was hit by a pitch on opening day which broke his hand. But in 1993 it all came together. As the Phillies lead-off batter, he batted 0.305 and had 129 walks. He led the National League in plate appearances (773), at-bats (637), runs (143), hits (194) and walks. He also stole 37 bases. He hit 4 home runs and hit 0.348 in the World Series but it wasn't enough. Dykstra's playing time in 1994 to 1996 was again limited due to injuries. In 1996 he was forced to retire due to back problems which make it too painful for him to play. He made $36.525 million in his career.

Apparently, Dykstra has been a successful business man since retiring. The following is quoted from his Wikipedia entry. "Today, Dykstra is a columnist for The, manages his own stock portfolio, and serves as president of several of his privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a new venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores throughout high-demographic areas of Southern California. Dykstra has helped bring to the forefront an investment strategy called "Deep in the Money Calls". He has also appeared on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom business shows. With money received in these ventures he was able to purchase Wayne Gretzky's multimillion dollar estate."

Dykstra was accused by several sources in the Mitchell Report of using anabolic steriods during his career. Dykstra did not talk to the investigators who prepared the Mitchell report.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Song of the Week - Moody Blues "Dear Diary"

This Moody Blues song was released in April 1969 on their "On The Threshold of a Dream" LP. The video is a short film using the song as the theme music. It gets off to a weird start until the credits for the movie pass. Stick with it, its a good song and the little film is nice too. Unfortunately, the video stops a bit before the actual end of the music. In the lyrics below, the last stanza is missing. For those of you who don't know the song, these words are spoken as the music fades out. I always like the line "Somebody exploded an H-bomb today, but it wasn't anyone I knew".

Dear diary, what a day it's been.
Dear diary, it's been just like a dream.
Woke up late. Wasn't where I should have been.
For goodness sake what's happening to me.
Write lightly, yours truly, dear diary.

It was cold outside my door.
So many people by the score.
Rushing around so senselessly.
They don't notice there's people like me.
Write lightly, yours truly, dear diary.

They don't know what they're playing.
They've no way of knowing what the game is.
Still they carry on doing what they can.
Outside me, politely, dear diary.

It's over. Will tomorrow be the same?
I know that they're really not to blame.
If they wern't so blind then surely they'd see.
There's a much better way for them to be.
Inside me, yours truly, dear diary.
Dear Diary it was cold today but the sun came out later
So I went out and strolled about looking at the shops
Didn't really see anything I liked so I didn't buy anything
On the way home I posted a letter
Been quite a nice day
Somebody exploded an H-bomb today.
But it wasn't anyone I knew.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nice Card File

Larry Walker - 1998 Circa Thunder Thunder Boomer insert

Fleer/Skybox produced the Circa brand of cards from 1996 through 1998 (they were renamed Circa Thunder in 1998). This is an insert from the 1998 set. The Circa cards base sets featured unconventional backgrounds with very colorful abstract designs. The inserts were also unconventional often featuring materials not common in baseball cards. This card is a composite with white card stock on the front and clear acetate on the back. The card stock is cut away around the player allowing the blue clouds on the acetate to show through. All of the text on the front is in red foil. The card commemorates Walker's 1997 season when his slugging percentage was 0.700 and he hit an NL leading 49 home runs. I purchased this on eBay for $1.50 in December 2007. Beckett lists the card at $6.00.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different - Bonsai

I first got into bonsai when my wife got me a bonsai umbrella tree for Christmas in 2004. I started reading up on the subject and thought it would be fun to try growing my own. The silver cloud ficus is one of my first attempts. I currently have 13 bonsai, 3 of which were store bought. The rest I started from material I've bought at places like Home Depot, WalMart and garden centers.

This started as a small pot with 7 individual plants which I bought a Home Depot in the Spring of 2005. I transplanted 4 of the plants in a very small plastic bowl. This photo was taken in November of 2007, about 2 and a half years after I planted it. I learned several years too late that for a multi-trunked bonsai it's considered bad luck to have an even number of trunks. I still have the other 3 plants but I've allowed them to grow in a bigger pot and they really wouldn't match too well. In the meanwhile, my luck doesn't seem to have taken a turn for the worse.

In the Spring of 2006, the plant dropped all its leaves. When they grew back, the new leaves were smaller and had much more white in them. The plant is about 10 inches tall.

This is what it looked like in August 2005. You can see that the leaves are much greener. They are also bigger but you're going to have to take my word for that. The plant was about 10 inches high then as well. A bonsai requires a lot of trimming or it will outgrow the pot. Sometimes you want to transplant to a bigger pot, but I like it size it is now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Daulton

Darren Daulton (Catcher) - 1993 Topps Black Gold

Daulton was the Phillies 25th round draft pick in 1980, the year the Phillies won their only World Series. He made his major league debut on 9/25/83. He didn't take on the starting catcher's role until 1989, playing behind Bo Diaz, Ozzie Virgil, John Russell, and Lance Parrish until then. He was one of the leaders of the 1993 squad, coming off his best season in 1992 (27 HR, hitting 0.270 with a league leading 109 rbis). 1993 was almost as good a year with 24 HR and hitting 0.257 with 105 rbis. He did not hit particularly well in playoffs. He went 5 for 19 with one HR and 3 rbi in the NLDS and 5 for 23 with 1 HR and 4 rbi in the World Series.

Dalton was a 3-time All Star with the Phillies ('92, '93 and '95). After 1993 his career began to decline due to injuries. He played in only 172 games in the next 3 years (only 5 in 1996). In 1997, the Phillies traded Daulton to the Florida Marlins for Billy McMillon (another Phorgotten Phillie). Playing 1st base, Daulton helped the Marlins win the 1997 World Series, batting 0.389 in the Series.While he was with the Phillies, Daulton was married to former Playboy Bunny and Official Hooters Spokesperson, Lynne Austin. I came upon this card quite by accident.
Daulton made close to $26,000,000 playing baseball. According to baseball expert Bill James Daulton is the 25th best catcher of all time. He's divorced from Austin and remarried and divorced again. He's been in and out of jail a few times since he retired in 1997. And, based on a 2006 interview in Sports Illustrated, he sounds a bit like a nut case. According to the Wikipedia article on Daulton, he plans to go back in time and break Mitch Williams' legs after the 4th game of the the 1993 World Series. I think I can speak for many of us that I hope he is successful in that plan. I came on this link on some baseball card blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Song of the Week 2/17/08 - Leonard Cohen "If it be your will"

Leonard Cohen has always been one of my favorite artists. Here is one of his more spiritual songs.

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Philadelphia Scenes

Although I now live in the Houston Texas area, I was born and raised in Philadelphia and lived in the city or its suburbs for 44 years. I was in Philadelphia in 2006 and 2007 visiting friends and relatives and I was able to get out and take pictures of what I still consider my home town. Luckily, I had excellent weather for each of my photo taking expeditions so the photos turned out great. I'll post more photos from time to time. I thought I'd start with some of the places I used to hang out at with my friends Dave and Brian when I was a teenager. If you click on a picture you'll get a larger view of it.

This first photo is the side wall of a store. We used to play wall ball (bouncing a pimple ball or pink rubber ball off the wall). We called the place "The Wall" as in "I'll meet you after school at The Wall".

This is the Holmesburg Branch of the Philadelphia Library. It is just down the street from the Wall. The steps were a great place for lounging. And we were all great readers as well so we were also acquainted with the insides. To the left of the building was an open place where we used to play touch football. Its fenced off now.

The inside of the building is completely different. I remember there being row after row of shelves in the center of the two rooms. Now most of the books are on shelves arranged along the outside walls. The center of the rooms is given over to audiovisual materials and computers (neither of which was even dreamed of in the 1960s.)

The library was built in 1911. This is some of the architectural detail. Its located above and on either side of the front door. I don't think they build public buildings with this sort of thing anymore.

This place used to be a bar called Michelos. Of course since it was a bar and we weren't 21, we didn't exactly hang out there. But my friend Dave worked there for awhile as a bus boy. His first job I think.

It looks entirely different. I'm not even sure its the same building. It appears to be a hang out for firemen.

There used to be a fast food place here called Jack in the Box. Jack in the Box is pretty popular in some parts of the country (like Texas) but I don't think they operate in Philadelphia any more. The original building was shaped like a cube and patterned to look like a toy jack in the box. It was the first fast food joint that we had easy access to (its about 2 blocks south of the library) and it was cheap, which we teenagers appreciated.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Batiste to Chamberlain

Kim Batiste (3rd base/shortstop) - 1993 Ultra

Batiste was the Phillies 3rd round draft pick in 1987. He made his major league debut on 9/8/91. In 1993 he appeared in 58 games at 3rd and 24 at shortstop. He rarely, if ever, was used as a starter, having only 156 at bats. He did hit 0.282 with 5 home runs and 29 rbis. He appeared in 7 games in the playoffs but only had one at bat and got an rbi double. I don't remember this but according to Wikipedia, this hit in the 10th inning of Game 1 of the NLCS won the game. They also say that an error by Batiste in the 9th allowed the Braves to score and tie the game, forcing extra innings. From goat to hero in one inning. He continued as a part-time player through 1994. The Phillies released him in May of 1995. He was signed by the Orioles but did not play in the majors in 1995. The Giants drafted him from the Orioles and he appeared in 54 games for the Giants in 1996. 1993 was by far his best year. He had 658 at-bats in his 5-year career with a lifetime batting average of 0.234. Wikipeda also says he played in independent leagues until 2003. He is now retired and living in Baton Rouge. He's 40 years old. He made $656,500 in his major league career.

Wes Chamberlain (outfield) - 1993 Studio

Wes Chamberlain was the 4th round draft pick of the Pirates in 1987. The Phillies traded Carmello Martinez to the Pirates for Chamberlain on 8/30/90. He made his major league debut the next day. I remember Chamberlain as being someone with promise but never became a starter. He played for the Phillies from 1990 into 1994 and, as with Batiste, 1993 was his best year. He appeared in 96 games, hit 0.282 in 284 at-bats. He blasted 12 home runs and had 45 ribs. I didn't remember this but the Phillies starting outfielders in 1993 (Dykstra, Eisenreich, and Thompson) were all left-handed batters. Chamberlain and Incaviglia provided right-handed power when needed. Chamberlain was 4 for 11 with 3 doubles against the Braves in the NLCS, but was only 0 for 2 in the World Series. In May of 1994 he was traded to the Red Sox for Paul Quantrill and Billy Hatcher. This was his last season in the bigs. From 1995 to 1997 he was variously with the Red Sox, the Royals, the Blue Jays, the Pirates (again) and the Mets but he never appeared in majors again. He made $1, 005, 000 in his major league career, hitting 0.255 with 45 home runs. According to Wikipedia, following his major league career, Chamberlain played for the Gary Railcats and the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League, being selected an All-Star in 2000 and 2003. After that, he was signed by Japan's Chiba Lotte Marines in 2006 outside the draft. He is 42 years old.

The next entry will feature Darren Daulton.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

1993 Phillies World Series Team - Amaro to Anderson

I'm going to post baseball cards of Phillies who in one way or another contributed to the Phillies getting to the World Series in 1993. I'll give a brief history of each player and, if I can, what happend to the player after 1993. I'm going to list the players in alphabetical order. This will probably take a few weeks. Later I'll do the same for the 1983 and 1980 teams.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. (infielder)- 1993 Stadium Club

Amaro was acquired from the Angels in 1992 in a trade for Von Hayes. He only played 25 games for the Phillies in 1993 but batted 0.333 with 6 rbis. At the end of the season he was traded to the Indians for Heathcliff Slocumb. I only mention him because of his long term association with the Phillies. His father played for the Phillies in 1960-1965 and Junior was born in Philadelphia in 1965. At some point in the 1990s, Amaro came back to the Phillies organization as a minor league manager, raising through the ranks, until today is the Assistant General Manager of the club.

Larry Anderson (relief pitcher) - 1993 Leaf

Larry Anderson played for the Phillies from 1983 into 1986. He was mainly a middle reliever and had some saves. The Phillies released him in May 1986 and he was signed by the Astros. Anderson was involved in one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history when the Astros traded him to the Red Sox in 1990 for Jeff Bagwell. He re-signed with the Phillies in December 1992 and played in 1993 and 1994 for the Phillies. After 17 years in the game he retired in 1994 with a career record of 40-39 and 49 saves.

He appeared in 64 games for the Phillies in 1993, posting a 3-2 record with no saves and an ERA of 2.92. He wasn't very effective in the playoffs. He appeared in 7 games and gave up 9 earned runs for a combined ERA of 13.5.

Recently, he has been part of the Phillies broadcasting team. When I first heard him on the radio doing a game (this was on a visit back north after we'd moved to Houston), I thought he was Sylvester Stallone doing a guest appearance.

Next: Kim Batiste and Wes Chamberlain

Book Club - Boom! by Tom Brokow

Tom Brokow, although not a baby boomer himself, being born in 1940, has a good prospective on the '60s in that he was a young TV newsman covering a lot of the events of those years. If you're a boomer (and you know who you are), you might consider reading this book.

About 1/3 of the book is Brokow's perspective on the events of the '60s. The rest is interviews with a wide cast of characters who participated in the events and offer their perspective on what was happening then and what, if anything, it means today.

He interviews a wide range of people. Some you'll know like Andrew Young, Senator James Webb, Judy Collins, and Gloria Steinem. But there are others you won't know like Captain Gene Kimmel and Nellie Coakley. And some people you might not connect with the '60s at all (or at least I didn't). Like Colin Powell, Carl Rove and President Clinton.

I don't think the book does a real good job of telling us what it all meant or what it means today. Maybe that's an impossible task anyway. Maybe we all have to figure out what living through that era means to us on our own terms. The folks I've targeted for this blog who are boomers span the entire '60s as some of you are a bit older than me and some are a bit younger. I graduated from high school in 1969. I'd say I probably starting paying serious attention to the world at large in 1966. I think, depending on when you 'came of age' your experiences and perspectives will be different. This book offers a wide range of experiences and perspectives and has helped me to understand the era better than I did.

Here's a link to the page for the book. There are some pretty good reviews (including mine).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Song of the week The Beach Boys - God Only Knows

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
Ill make you so sure about it

God only knows what Id be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what Id be without you

God only knows what Id be without you

If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what Id be without you
God only knows what Id be without you
God only knows
God only knows what Id be without you
God only knows what Id be without you
God only knows

Friday, February 8, 2008

Phorgotten Phillie Phile - Ron Jones

Ron Jones - 1992 Donruss Card

Ron Jones was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1984. He made his major league debut in August 1988 and looked like the real deal. In 33 games he batted 0.290 with 8 home runs and 26 rbis. His next three seasons however were plagued with injuries. In 1989 he went on the disabled list for the season on April 19. He tore his patella tendon in his right knee running into the outfield wall at Shea Stadium. In 1990 he lasted until July 1st before re-injuring his knee and DL'ed for the season. He spend 2 months on the DL in 1991 (knee again). Then the Phillies released him. After playing 33 games in 1989, he appeared in only 64 games after that.

He signed on with the Padres in the 1991 season but didn't play for them. He spent 1992 in the Giants farm system and 1993 in the Braves system.

And as if all this wasn't sad enough, he died in 2006 in Houston at the age of 42. He had been operating "The Big League Baseball Academy" in Houston with another former Phillie, Charlie Hayes. According to the Academy web site he died from natural causes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Weird Card File - Lenny Dykstra

Did you recognize this as Lenny Dykstra? For you non-Phillies fans out there, Dykstra was the spark plug of the 1993 World Series Phillies team.

To me he's recognizable from the dirty uniform, the unshaven look and especially the tobacco juice dribbling from the corner of his mouth. Dykstra's nickname, by the way, was "Nails", as in "tough as...". I like that his helmet features a piece of raw meat.

This card is from a set called "The Baseball Enquirer" and was published in 1992. I got two packs of these in a box of repackaged cards. I'd never hear of them before. The cards feature a caricature of a player on the front and a made-up interview on the back.

Notice that the card does not have the player's name or his team name or team logo. This enabled the card manufacturer to avoid paying licensing fees. A company making set of cards featuring caricatures of players a few years earlier was sued by Topps and Major League Baseball but the courts ruled in favor of the company saying that the cards were allowed as an expression of free speech.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cliff Walk Postcard

Cliff Walk is a path that runs along the ocean in Newport, Rhode Island. I naturally have an interest in the place. Some years ago, Brian and Jo Anne Gallagher sent me a post card from there. Later, I found that I could buy Cliff Walk post cards on eBay. I currently have about 100 of them. Some are used and some are not. The earliest postmark I have is from 1904.

I actually like the used (that is mailed) cards better as they tell a little story that is generally a mystery to me. This card is postmarked March 28, 1906 and pictures a portion of the Walk called Ochre Point. I didn't mention that in the early 20th century, Cliff Walk was a get away place for wealthy people. Several mansions are pictured on this card. I'm not a postcard expert but postcards of this period apparently had the address on the back and any message is written in the white space below the picture. Divided back postcards, where the address and message are on the back, were developed later. I paid $1.83 for this card in February 2002.

This card was mailed by Margaret M. Nolan to Mr. J. R. McDonald in Chicago. Her message reads "I am patiently waiting for that surprise. Will it be a pleasant one?" I can speculate all I want, but I'll never know.

Phorgotten Phillie Phile - Larry Mitchell

Larry Mitchell was the Phillies No. 5 draft pick in 1992. He appeared in 7 games (12 innings) in 1996. That was his entire major league career.

He appeared in 141 games (with a 38-43 record) in the Phillies farm system between 1992 and 1996. He was in a handful of games in the Yankees, Orioles and White Sox farm clubs in 1997 and 1998. That was his career. Retired at age 27.

He was the 137th player drafted in 1992 out of a total of 1,412 players. How did the class of 1992 fare? Of the 1,412 players, 176 (12.5%) appeared in a major league game. Of these, 23 players had an actual career (that is, played for several years). That's just 1.6% of the total. And only one became a real big star - Derek Jeter, the 6th player chosen. Jason Kendal and Johnny Damon were also 1st round picks and Todd Helton was a 2nd round pick. Was 1992 a bad year? The next Phorgotten Phillie will be from a different year so I'll make some comparisons.

I was able to find this stuff out on

Besides Mitchell, only two other players chosen by the Phillies ever played in the majors, John Zuber and Bobby Estalella. Estalella was named by some trainer in the Mitchell Report as "The poster boy for steroid use".

Larry Mitchell - today's Phorgotten Phillie!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Song of the Week - So Long Frank Lloyd Wright

So Long Frank Lloyd Wright - Simon and Garfunkel (from Bridge over Troubled Water)

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright.
I can't believe your song is gone so soon.
I barely learned the tune
So soon
So soon.

I'll remember Frank Lloyd Wright.
All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn.
I never laughed so long
So long
So long.

Architects may come and
Architects may go and
Never change your point of view.
When I run dry
I stop awhile and think of you

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright
All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn.
I never laughed so long
So long
So long.

Mike Schmidt Rookie Card - Opening post

For many years this was the Holy Grail of card collecting for me. I finally got a beat-up version on eBay. I paid $40.02 for the card on April 14, 2005. The most I have ever paid for a single card.

I thought this would be a good place to start.

Although there will be a lot of baseball cards featured, I'll be throwing up non-baseball stuff as well, from my music collection, my Cliff Walk postcard collection, baseball figures collection, my book collection, and my safety pin collection (no I don't really collect safety pins).

I hope you enjoy your visits and comments are always welcome.