Friday, February 27, 2009

The quest for 1987 Topps

Darn it!

The other day I posted that I'd completed the set. Tonight I pulled down the box with the 1987 Topps cards in it and put them all in order. I'm still missing 6 cards. I've been using a computer database to track my cards for years. I'm under no illusion that it is 100% accurate. 5 cards out of 792 is an error rate of 0.6%. Not so bad I suppose.

On a more positive note, after seeing a tip from the Cardboard Junkie, I went to WalMart to see if I could find a Topps blaster box with the black cards. I was successful. I wasn't planning to buy anymore Topps series 1 but I had to have these. And I got this in the box.

The patch is a replica commemorating the 1953 All-Star Game. Roy was a 7-time All-Star. In the 1953 game he was 1 for 4 with a run scored as the National beat the Americans, 5-1. Lucy over at Dinged Corners just did a nice book report on Campanella.

Spring Training 2006

In 2006, my friend Brian and I went to Spring Training in Florida. We are both originally from Philadelphia (and life long Phillies fans) but he now lives near Atlanta and I live near Houston. I flew to Atlanta and we drove from his house to Florida. It was a whirlwind trip but in the space of 3 days we saw 3 games in 3 different parks and visited another 4 stadiums. One day we saw the Phillies play the Astros at the Phillies park, Brighthouse Field (Brighthouse runs the local cable company). Click on the pictures to get a larger image. The Phillies won the game 4-3 in 10 innings.

Here's the approach to the park. That's my friend Brian with the red sack. A statue in front of the gates.
Me and Brian.
The Phillies had a young crop of rookies that year.
Pre-game stretching
Ryan Howard at first.
Jimmy Rollins taking a might swing.
Rookie Chris Roberson hits a home run. He is now with the Orioles. I got him to autograph a ball before the game. I also got autographs from Astro's pitching coach Bert Hooten and Phillies pitcher Geoff Geary. Brian got autos from Aaron Rowand and Phillies coach Milt Thompson.
As Spring Training progresses I'll post some other photos from the trip. Brian and I are hoping to visit Spring Training in Arizona next year.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

1996 Part 6

Leaf Signature
1996 Leaf Signature was the first release to feature an autographed card in every pack. The 4-card packs sold for $9.99. Every 48th pack had all autos. I don't remember seeing this in 1996 and if I did, the price probably put me off. I don't actually own one of the base (non-auto) cards. Shown above is a Gold Press Proof parallel which I acquired on eBay for $3.16 in August 2004. The Gold Press Proofs were inserted 1:12. There was also a Platinum Press Proof inserted in the Extended Set at 1:24.

Leaf Signature Autograph
Each pack featured at least 1 autographed card. This is the Bronze level card. 5,000 Bronze cards were signed by each player. Some players are short printed. It looks like most of the big players of the day are short printed (R. Alomar, Boggs, Jeter, Lofton, Molitor, Manny Ramirez, A. Rodriguez, Frant Thomas, and Mo Vaughn). Some players signed some of their cards in different color ink as well. Each player signed a notarized affidavit to guarantee each signature was authentic. I got this Mike Hampton card on eBay for $6.50 in November 2003.

Leaf Signature Autograph Gold
Only 500 Gold Parallel cards are available for each player. I paid $4.37 for the Saberhagen card in November 2003.

Leaf Signature Autograph Silver
There was also a Silver parallel, at 1,000 each.

Leaf Signature Autograph Extended
Donruss released a second edition of the set called Extended. The autographed cards have a different design than the original set. Also included in this set were some from the first set which weren't returned in time to be included in the original packs. There were 2 autos per pack in the extended set. There are 5,000 cards per player with some short printed cards as well. There were no parallels of the Extended set. I paid $3.00 for the Ricky Jordan card in November 2003. Jordan had a 7-year career with the Phillies from 1988 to 1994. He was a free agent at the end of the 1994 season and was hoping to get a big contract somewhere. There were several free agents at that time who, due to the strike in 1994, didn't get signed by anyone. He finally signed with the Mariners for the 1996 season but only played 15 games for them and that was it for him. His only other 1996 card is from Fleer Update.

Metal Universe
This was the first year for this set which would last through to 2000 (when it was renamed simply Metal). The cards feature textured foil and weird settings designed by comic book illustrators. The 250-card set was available in 8-card packs for $2.49. I always liked these cards although I never bought many of them. This Grace card I got in a pack in 1996.

Metal Universe Platinum
The Platinum version featured just silver foil and were inserted 1 per pack. There was also a Titanium version inserted 1 in 24 packs. I don't currently have any of the Titanium cards but I just bought a Greg Maddux on eBay. I paid $1.16 for the A Rod (doing his Silver Surfer impersonation) card in August 2004.

Metal Universe Heavy Metal
A 10-card insert set inserted at 1:8. The front has a foil background. I paid $2.76 for this in August 2004.

Metal Universe Mining For Gold
A 12-card set inserted at 1:12 in retail packs. This is a nice looking card. The front features a lot of gold foil. I paid $1.99 for this Chipper card in August 2004. If you've noticed, I made a concerted effort to find these insert sets back in 2004 and was pretty successful. The set features top rookies.

Metal Universe Mother Lode
Another 12-card set, inserted at 1:12. None of these inserts were particularly hard to pull. I think this is the nicest of the bunch since I like the refractive foil look. I paid $1.92 in August 2004.

Metal Universe Platinum Portraits
The shiny foil background makes this a tough card to scan. This is a 10-card set, inserted at 1:4. I got this card in a pack in 1996. This set also features rookies and 2nd year players and overlaps a lot of the Mining For Gold set. As soon as I get the Maddox Titanium card, I'll have this set complete.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bonsai - Spring Review

A couple of times a year I like to take photos of my bonsai plants so I can keep a running record of how they change over time. Spring is usually one of the times I like to record. It's pretty early spring here in southeast Texas. We're starting to see days in the 70s but with some nights in the 40s.

Willow Ficus
You may recognize this from my banner. I acquired this as a 'starter bonsai' from a local nursery in February 2005, so it's one of my oldest plants. It is an indoor plant and survived the indoor dryness pretty well this year. For some reason, it's got a sticky residue on the leaves and branches. After the photo I cut off most of the leaves and branches with the goo. It will look even better when it grows back.

Umbrella Tree
This is my oldest plant. It was a Christmas gift from my wife and daughter in 2004. It too is an indoor plant. This is a very hearty plant and has never given me any trouble. It's 16" tall and requires constant trimming. It is starting to get root bound so I will re-pot it this year. I'm nervous about that but it's going to have to be done.

Silver Cloud Ficus
I bought a pot of these at Home Depot in Spring 2005. The pot had 7 plants in it. 4 of them went into this little pot, the other three went into a bigger pot. I've just let the others grow and they are now about 2 feet tall, while these 4 are about 9" tall. I learned much too late that planting an even number of plants is considered to be unlucky but these have grown very well for me. Another indoor plant that did well over the winter. The problem with indoor plants in the winter is that if you don't keep them well watered, they can dry out. This one and the willow both lost all their leaves after the previous winter.

This is an experiment. I have no idea if oleander make good bonsai or not. Oleander grow fast so I thought it was worth a shot. It's been in the little pot since July 2006 and is an outdoor plant. Oleander are evergreen here in the winter. It's about 15" tall. It has not gotten any flowers since I potted it. I trimmed it back so it will get new growth.

Lemon Tree
This was originally a Father's Day gift from my oldest son's girlfriend (now wife) in 2003. Last summer I decided to turn it into a bonsai. Citrus tress do well as bonsai. You can see the bonsai process for this tree here. It lives outside and grew well over the winter. We did not get a frost this past winter, so it stayed evergreen. I'll be happy if it gets fruit this year but I don't expect it.

This started life as a 2 1/2 foot high bush I bought at Home Depot. It's about 12" high now. I potted it in March 2007. I picked this particular bush because it has that big bend near the roots. I designed it so it looks like its growing out from under a big rock. The summer of 2007 was cruel to this plant as I couldn't seem to keep it watered enough. You can still see some of the brown needles as a result. But last year it rebounded well and has lots of new growth. It also lives outside. This one is tough to work on. Those needles are sharp!

Another experiment. I saw an ivy bonsai in a book. We've got a prolific ivy plant on the kitchen windowsill so I took some cuttings. The pot is small, about 2 " square and a piece of quartz takes up most of the dirt surface. It was planted in January 2007. I trimmed it back after the photo. I'm trying to encourage the stem to get thick and woody like the one I saw in the book.

Japanese Maple

Last spring I bought a Japanese Maple tree to bonsai. I showed the process here. I didn't take a picture because it died over the winter. I left it inside which I think was a mistake. Hopefully I can find another tree this year to try again.

Crepe Myrtle

It doesn't look like much but it's alive. It is too early yet for this to bud. This is kept outdoors. I planted it in the summer of 2005. The crepe myrtles around here don't normally show signs of life until mid-March. I am planning to re-pot this as well. Unlike the umbrella tree, I've got this in too big a pot. This grew very well last summer but never got any flowers. More fertilizer this year, I think.

Brush Cherry
I acquired this already potted as a bonsai last summer from a bonsai dealer. It lives outside and is evergreen. It grew very well last summer. It is supposed to bloom in the spring so I'm hopeful. It's about 10" tall.

Another southern plant. I bought this as a 5' high vine on a trellis in a 2 gallon pot in July 2006. It's about 9" tall now. I learned something new about this plant recently. It has gotten many red flowers on it (you can see some at the end of the long branch on the right). If you look close you can see a main trunk going to the left, and a smaller trunk going to the right. This trunk now has light purple flowers on it. I believe I have two different plants in the pot. The leaves don't look too good as it isn't warm enough here in the winter for it to stay evergreen. I cut them off.

Banyan Ficus
I bought this in February 2005 as a bonsai plant from Home Depot. It was a bit of a rescue mission as the pot it was in was badly cracked. I had it in a regular clay pot for awhile but moved it to a real bonsai pot last summer. I have pretty much given up hope on trying to shape this into anything as it grows very fast. It normally stays inside but last summer I put all the plants outside while we were away for a week so a neighbor could take care of them. I left them outside for about a month total. This developed a lot of aerial roots during that time. I may move back it outside when it gets warmer.

My very first attempt at making a bonsai in February 2005. I originally kept this inside but it never got any flowers. I put it outside last summer. It is an evergreen bush and did very well, and now it has flowers. I am thinking of transplanting this into a real bonsai pot soon. It's currently in a shallow clay pot.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2004 Topps Cracker Jack Box Break Part 3

Continued from last week. Here is the second stack which had 6 packs. Cards in bold font are cards I didn't already have.

Pack #1
Mini Red #127 Randy Winn, Mariners #60 Richie Sexson, Diamondbacks, short print
#234 Mike Mussina, Yankees, reverse back
#86 Bert Shotton, St. Louis Browns

This another replica of the original 2004 set. There are 2 versions of this card. I have 3 copies of this version. I don't know what team he's with on the other version as I can't find this guy in Baseball
#162 Wes Helms, Twins #66 Nap Lajoie, Indians

Last week I mentioned that there were two versions of this card. Here's the other.
#123 Matt Morris, Cardinals
#199 Estee Harris, Yankees. I think I have every version of this card now except for the white mini
Sticker #58 Larry Walker, Rockies
Checklist #2

Pack #2
Blue Mini #123 Matt Morris, Cardinals
#9 Kris Benson, Pirates
#19 Brett Myers, Phillies
#52 Juan Gonzalez, Royals
#122 Carl Everett, Expos
#152 Frank Thomas, White Sox
#74 Roger Clemens, Astros
A lot of duplicates in this pack of cards I already had.
#11 Corey Patterson, Cubs
Sticker #148 Mark Buehrle, White Sox
Checklist #2

Pack #3
Mini Red #119 Fernando Vina, Tigers
#37 Jerome Williams, Giants
#120 Pedro Martinez, Red Sox

#14 Jim Edmonds, Cardinals
#144 Jose Vidro, Expos
#53 Torri Hunter, Twins, full name
#36 Jeremy Bonderman Tigers, full name
#131 Marlon Byrd, Phillies
Sticker #47 Nixon, Red Sox
Checklist #1

Pack #4
Mini Red #65 Miguel Tejada, Orioles
#206 Kyle Sleeth, Tigers, short print

A short print of a First Year Card. Unfortunately I've never heard of him. He never got above AA in the minors.
#42 Orlando Hudson, Blue Jays
#217 Merkin Valdez, Giants, first card, reverse
#124 Greg Maddux, Cubs
#57 Johnny Damon, Red Sox
#231 Jose Contreras, Yankees
#127 Randy Winn, Mariners
Sticker #171 Jody Gerut, Indians
Checklist #2

Pack #5
Mini Red #131 Marlon Byrd, Phillies. The only Mini Phillie so far.
#78 Derek Lowe, Red Sox
#227 Jeff Loria, Marlins, reverse

Think back. The Marlins won the World Series over the Yankees in 2003. Which Olbermann explains why the set is overloaded with Yankees and Marlins.
#112 Javier Vazquez, Yankees
#181 Felix Pie, Cubs
#117 Randy Wolf, Phillies
#229 Jason Giambi, Yankees, reverse 2 versions
#84 L. W. Jones, Braves, full
I guess baseball players didn't have nicknames like Chipper in 1914.
Sticker #141 Omar Vizquel, Indians
Checklist 1

Pack #6
#150 Sean Burroughs, Padres
#93 Jason Kendall, Pirates
#70 Mike Piazza, Mets (for my Mets readers)
#95 Gary Sheffield, Braves
#73 Dmitri Young, Tigers
#156 EdgardoAlfonzo, Giants
#114 Kaz Ishii, Dodgers, full
#168 Ty Wiggington, Mets
#Sticker 195 Richie Weeks, Brewers short print
Checklist #2

I'll finish this up next week and tell you how I close I got to completing the set.

Monday, February 23, 2009

1989 Topps American Baseball

I've been getting 1988 Topps UK Mini cards in repacks for the past year or so. I have almost the entire set. In 1989, Topps issued Topps American Baseball cards for the UK market. They were the same size (2 1/4" by 3") as the 1988 set with almost identical backs, including a box on American baseball terms. Patricia and Lucy over on Dinged Corners sent me a pack of these cards along with a Jumbo pack of 1989 Topps and some random (although appreciated) Phillies cards for winning a contest on their blog. There were 5 cards in the pack plus a small slab of pink stone which might have been gum at one time. The best card in the back was Wade Boggs. Also included was Joe Carter, Mark Langston, Gregg Jefferies, and Teddy Higuera.

Here's what the pack looks like. There were sold in the UK for 5 pence. I have no idea how much that was in American money in 1989.
The gum ingredients were given on the back in 5 languages: British English (there were colours in the gum), French, something that looks like German, and American English (colors were added). And separately, ingredients for W. Germany.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Song of the Week - A Sunday Song by Beirut

I have 6,486 songs in iTunes. This is one of them

Beirut was featured on The Late Show with David Letterman on February 6th. This video is from that show. I really really liked this performance. Here is what Wikipedia says in their opening paragraph about the band:

Beirut was initially the solo musical project of 22-year-old Santa Fe native Zachary Francis Condon, which later evolved into a band led by Condon. Their first performances were in May 2006, to support the release of their debut album Gulag Orkestar. The music combines elements of Eastern European and folk with Western pop music. You can read the rest of it if you like here.

Since I liked the song so much I decided to buy it from iTunes. But before I did, my iTunes player played it at random. Here I've owned the song for over 2 years but it's only been played once before. I got it from Minnesota Public Radio's Song of the Day Podcast. I'm still planning to buy the rest of the album.

All I want is the best for our lives my dear,
and you know my wishes are sincere.
Whats to say for the days I cannot bare.

A Sunday smile we wore it for a while.
A Sunday mile we paused and sang.
A Sunday smile we wore it for a while.
A Sunday mile we paused and sang about
Our Sunday smile and we felt true. (and)

We burnt to the ground
left a view to admire
with buildings inside church of white.
We burnt to the ground left a grave to admire.
And as we reach for the sky, reach the church of white.

A Sunday smile we wore it for a while.
A Sunday mile we paused and sang.
A Sunday smile we wore it for a while.
A Sunday mile we paused and sang about
Our Sunday smile and we felt true.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The quest for 1987 Topps

It was in August 2008 that I first posted my 1987 Topps want list. Through the generosity of strangers, I believe I've completed the set. A guy named Max, who I made one trade with, sent me a bunch of Phillies cards, almost all of which I didn't have. I've been working on cataloging them and I'll hopefully have a post up next week. In addition, he sent me the last three 1987 Topps cards I need to complete the set. I declared victory once before on this set only to find I was still, according to my database, missing about 30 cards. My next task is to pull the cards out and verify that I actually have them all. Then I'll declare victory. Thanks Max for bringing me to this point.

Card from Max

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, Max sent me the three 1987 Topps cards I need to complete that set. He also sent me 84 Phillies cards (only 15 of which I already owned). A lot of them were oddball cards that I never heard of. And a lot of them I didn't have. Here's what he sent me, in more or less the order they came out of the package. Thanks again Max. The cards I didn't have are in bold type.

1993 Fleer Fruit of the Loom
At first I thought this was a regular Fleer card until I saw the logo in the bottom left. In 1993, you could get baseball cards in a pack of underwear!

1993 Fleer Dave Hollins #353
1990 Topps '89 Debut Jason Grimsley #74
1990 Topps '89 Debut Chuck McElroy #79
1990 Topps '89 Debut Pat Combs #24
1990 Classic Von Hayes #113
1992 Bowman Chad McConnell Foil #587
1982 K-Mart 20th Anniversary Mike Schmidt #44
1991 Studio Charlie Hayes (I bought this entire set in 2008)
1994 Topps 1954 Archives Ted Kazanski #78
1993 Baseball Card Magazine Repli-Card Dave Hollins #13

I'm pretty sure I bought some of these magazines but I don't remember the cards.
1990 Baseball Card Magazine Repli-Card Von Hayes #20
1994 Ted Williams Mike Schmidt #8
1994 Select Promo John Kruk #24
Maybe my favorite of the cards Max sent. What's not to like about it?
2000 Topps Brett Myers #213
2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Dale Murphy # 129
2003 Fleer Fall Classic Steve Carlton #78
This is a subset in the 2003 Fleer Fall Classic set.
2000 Topps HD Pat Burrell # 53
2001 Fleer Tradition Jimmy Rollins #377
2001 Upper Deck Jimmy Rollins #43
2005 Upper Deck Classic Richie Ashburn #81
2008 Topps Trading Card History Jimmy Rollins #29
1995 Upper Deck Special Edition Gregg Jefferies #76
1995 Upper Deck Special Edition Doug Jones #74
1995 Upper Deck Special Edition Ricky Bottalico #73
1995 Upper Deck Special Edition Darren Daulton #75
2002 Stadium Club Mike Lieberthal #85
1985 Drake's Juan Samuel #27
1985 Topps All-Star Glossy #31
1988 Kay Bee Team Leaders Juan Samuel #33
1989 Score 100 Hottest Stars Juan Samuel #26
2008 Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Steve Carlton #80
2001 Topps Who Would Have Thought Steve Carlton #4
2007 Topps Generation Now Ryan Howard #44
2001 Fleer Tradition Phillies Team Leaders #424
2006 Upper Deck Cole Hamels #946
2000 Bowman Draft Picks Pat Burrell #1
2000 Topps Gold Level 1 Brett Myers #91
2000 Topps Gallery Brett Myers #139
2004 Donruss World Series Brett Myers #136
2004 Throwback Threads Brett Myers #154
2004 Throwback Threads Jimmy Rollins #156
2002 Fleer Genuine Jimmy Rollins #47
1999 Just Jimmy Rollins #228
1999 Sports Illustrated Robin Roberts #36
I already had an on-card autographed version of this card.
1976 Topps Traded Jim Kaat #80
Maybe the 2nd favorite card of the lot.
1986 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt #200
2002 Fleer Franklin Nunez #504
2001 Topps American Pie Dick Allen #22 (he was Richie Allen with the Phillies)
2001 Topps American Pie Richie Ashburn #105
1995 SP Charlie Hayes #89
1997 Bowman International Marlon Anderson #302
2000 Paramount Green Ron Gant #178
2004 Fleer Genuine Insider Tools of the Trade Jim Thome #2
1999 Topps Stars Two Stars Scott Rolen #44
1982 Topps Stickers Mike Schmidt #5, #3, #74
1981 Topps Stickers Mike Schmidt #254
1988 Topps Mini Leaders Mike Schmidt #67
1988 Panini Sticker Mike Schmidt #429
1988 Panini Sticker Steve Bedrosian #440
1987 Topps Mini Leaders Mike Schmidt #30
1990 Topps Stickers Von Hayes #16
1988 O-Pee-Chee Stickers Steve Bedrosian
1988 Topps UK Minis Mike Schmidt #67
Pete Rose Iron-on Patch
Kind of scary looking isn't it?
1990 Upper Deck Von Hayes #7
1994 Leaf John Kruk #347
1994 Ultra Phillies Finest Darren Daulton #13
1990 Score 100 Rising Stars Von Hayes #62
1990 Fleer Baseball All Stars Von Hayes #17
1990 Donruss Best NL Von Hayes #140
1991 Leaf Micky Morandini #383
1990 Donruss Von Hayes #222
1992 Score Rookies Andy Ashby #18
1992 Score Rookies Braulio Castillo #32
1992 Score Rookies Kim Batiste #37
1992 Score Pat Combs #106
1992 Score Dave Hollins #553
1992 Ultra Julio Teguero #547
1993 Bowman Juan Bell #48
1993 Topps Gold Cliff Brantley #773
2000 Bowman Chrome Oversize Pat Burrell #1