Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Phorgotten Phillie Phile - Jeff Jackson

You can be phorgiven if you don't remember Jeff Jackson since, despite being the Phillies #1 draft pick (4th overall pick) in 1989, he didn't play a single game in the majors. This is probably his first card, a 1990 Bowman.He also appeared in the 1991 Bowman set, in a photo that looks remarkably like it was taken at the same time as the 1990 Bowman card.
Although he never played at the major league level, he does hold two distinctions. One, he is one of the 6 players picked ahead of Frank Thomas in the 1989 draft. Can you name the other 5?
His other distinction is the player wearing the most garish shirt on a baseball card.

The other 5 were Ben McDonald (quite the hobby rage at the time), Tyler Houston (picked by the Braves but who ended up with the Phillies), Roger Salkied, Donald Harris and Paul Coleman (who also never played in the majors).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Card Scanning Tip

Getting a good scan of some baseball cards is difficult due to the finish on the card. I've struggled for years with cards with a dufex finish. I have found it almost impossible to get a scan that I'm even remotely happy with. I recently discovered a trick which, while not yielding a perfect scan, yields a result I can easily live with.

I normally scan cards at a resolution of 150 dbi. I find this gives a reasonably sized file which looks good on screen, and can be printed with good results. Here is a Rookies subset card from the 1994 Upper Deck set. This subset uses the Dufex printing technology. Dufex is a form of lenticular printing which you can read about here. Using my normal scanning technology, this is what I get.It's Alex Gonzales of the Blue Jays, right? I use an Epson Stylus CX6000 and Photoshop Elements for my scanning. Although not as powerful as regular Photoshop, Elements has a lot of tools. But no matter how much fooling around I do, this is about the best I can do.
At least you can tell it's a baseball card made by Upper Deck. The scanner comes with scanning software which has a number of adjustments. I've tried a number of them before without much luck. The other day I tried again and fooled around with something called "Histogram Adjustment". There are several things you can do with this, none of which I understand. One is a sliding scale adjustment which goes from 0 to 245. Below this is a curve. I tried moving around the slider which moved the curve. By setting the slider to 90, this is what I got.
Already this looks better. What this did was dim the scanner light. This perhaps makes sense as I think the real problem with scanning these types of cards is that they are too reflective. You see the same sort of problem when you scan cards with a mirror or bright foil surface. In Photoshop Elements, I applied the Auto Level tool and got this.
Then I used Enhance:Adjust Lighting:Shadows/Highlights to Lighten Shadows at 100%. The final result:
This is a pretty good approximation of what the card actually looks like.

If you're not using an Epson scanner, or not using Photoshop, you'll have to fool around to figure out how to reproduce this. The key seems to be to dim the scanner light. I've had pretty good luck on a number of different cards which have foil logos or other printing. The foil looks much better with this technique.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some 1995 Phillies cards

I just finished scanning my 1995 Phillies cards. Here are some that caught my attention.

Lenny Dykstra Score #22Going nose to nose with Lenny Dykstra should result in multiple tobacco stains on your shirt.

Doug Jones Stadium Club #89
Hands down, the hairiest Phillie of 1994. He was a free agent in October 1994 and not resigned by the Phillies.

Ricky Jordan Collector's Choice #369
Nothing says dedication like going over the fence to catch a foul ball, just missing getting impaled on a giant camera lens.

Mike Lieberthal Stadium Club #203
I like the occasional card featuring a player signing autographs.

Kevin Stocker Stadium Club #346
I guess the Stadium Club editors did too.

Milt Thomson Pinnacle #83
Milt making a nice play on a wayward beach ball. Milt also didn't actually play for the Phillies in 1995, having been traded to the Astros in July of 1994. Milt was the Phillies hitting coach until he was fired this past summer.

Fernando Valanzuela Upper Deck #142
I'll bet you forgot that Fernando mania came to Philly for a brief period in 1994. He had 3 hits for the Phillies in 1994, including a double. It looks like he really got a hold of one here but I'm guessing it was a fly ball out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Song of the Week - Jeepster by T-Rex

An old song and an old video but still a good rockin' piece. T-Tex featuring Mark Bolan.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Phillies Playoff Teams - Second Base

These posts are time consuming. Here's hoping that the Phillies make it to the World Series and it goes 7 games so I have time to finish this series. I own all these cards, except for the 1950 Bowman and the 1977 Topps.

1950 Bowman Mike Goliat #205Of all the whiz kids, Mike Goliat is the one I probably know the least about. In fact, I'd never heard of him. He is probably a candidate for my Phorgotten Phillie Phile. He was a free agent pick up in 1947. He got some playing time in 1948, and was the regular 2nd baseman in 1950. He hit .234 for the season and had 20 errors (which sounds like a lot). He had 3 hits in the World Series.

1976 Topps Dave Cash #295
Dave Cash played for the Phillies from 1974 to 1976. He was traded to the Phillies for Ken Brett by the Pirates after the 1973 season. He brought a lot of play-off experience with him, including the Pirates 1971 World Series win. He had a good run with the Phillies, hitting .296 with 43 steals. He was on the All-Star team all three years. He hit .308 in the NLCS.

1977 Topps Ted Sizemore #366
No 1977 Phillies cards for Ted. He was traded by the Dodgers in December 1976 to the Phillies for Johnny Oates. He was Rookie of the Year in 1969. He hit .281 for the 1977 Phillies with 47 rbis. He did not hit well in the NLCS in a losing cause against his former team.

1978 Topps Ted Sizemore #136
Ted did not have a good year in 1978, hitting just .219. He did hit well in the NLCS as the Phillies once again lost to his former team, the Dodgers. In February 1979, he was traded to the Cubs in a multi-player deal which, among others, brought Manny Trillo to the the Philles. Manny will be a key player for the 1980 World Series team.

1980 Topps Manny Trillo #90
As mentioned above, Manny came to the Phillies in 1979. In 1980 he hit .292 with a .987 fielding percentage, good enough for a Silver Slugger award. He hit .381 against the Astros in the NLCS, but only .217 in he World Series. In December 1982, Trillo was one of the five players (including Julio Franco) traded to the Indians for Von Hayes. We'll visit with Von when we get to center fielders.

1983 Topps Traded Joe Morgan #77
You know him and love him today as a baseball color man for ESPN but in 1983, Joe was in the 21st year of his 22 year career. Another part of the old Big Red Machine which helped make up the Wheeze Kids of 1983. At 39, Joe was a shadow of his former self he was popular with the team and the fans.

1993 Score Mickey Morandini #512
1992 was a dismal year for the Phillies but the year did boast an unassisted triple play by Mickey Morandini on September 20. Yes, that's a pre-steroid Barry Bonds making one of the outs. Mickey was a 5th round draft pick by the Phillies in 1988 and played for the team from 1990 through 1997. He wasn't a great hitter (he hit .247 in 1993) but a good fielder (.990 in 1993). He wasn't much of a hitting factor in either the NLCS (over the Braves) or the World Series (lost to the Blue Jays).

2007 Topps Allen and Ginter Chase Utley #80
Utley was the Phillies 1st round pick in 2000 and came up to the big club in 2003. He became the regular 2nd baseman in 2006. Unlike all the previous 2nd basemen in past postseasons, Utley can hit. He hit .332 with 22 home runs in 2007. He was also an All-Star in 2007. Unfortunately, Chase, like most of the Phillies did not hit in the 2007 NLDS and went down in 3 games to the Rockies.

2008 Topps Highlights Relics #HR-CU
2008 was the year the Phillies put it together. Utley's BA was down a bit (to .292) but he hit more home runs (33). He once again went to the All-Star game. He had a great NLCS against the Dodgers, hitting .353

2009 Upper Deck Icons Chase Utley #20
Another good year, another All-Star game and another World Series for Utley. He hit .429 against the Rockies in the NLDS and .286 in a losing cause against the Yankees in the World Series.

2010 Upper Deck Portraits Chase Utley #65
At this point there can be no doubt that Chase Utley is among the elite players in the National League. His playing time was limited by injury this year but he made the All-Star Game for the 5th straight year. Although the story of the 2010 NLDS is pitching, Chase did get a key home run in Game 3.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Collision at the plate!

I've been scanning a lot of lot cards recently and came upon this gem. This is a 1995 Pinnacle card featuring Mickey Morandini of the Phillies crashing into some poor catcher so hard he knocked his face mask off.I like action shots like this which feature another player, especially if the other player can be identified. So who is this catcher? Looking closely, very closely, you can guess that he's wearing a Mets uniform. Look under the catchers right arm. Could be the M in Mets, and the color is right. I can look up the Mets roster for 1994 (it's a 1995 card so the photo is likely to have been taken in 1994) and see that the Mets had two regular catchers, Todd Hundley and Kelly Stinnett. Since Hundley played about twice as many innings as Stinnett, I'd probably conclude that this was most likely Hundley.

But then I saw this card.
A 1995 Stadium Club card featuring what looks like the exact same play! Here you can clearly see it's Hundley. Is it the same play? I think it has to be.

It's not so unusual to see the same play pictured on different cards. The instances I can think of appear to be shots made by the same photographer with the auto-winder going. But these photos are from entirely different angles so it can't be the same photographer. Also, the cards were made by different manufacturers, Pinnacle and Topps. I find that amazing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Phillies Playoff Teams - First Base

Continuing my series highlighting Phillies playoff teams, lets look at the first basemen who got them there.

1950 Bowman Eddie Waitkus #30Waitkus came to the Phillies in 1948 in a trade with the Cubs. He played for the Phils from 1949 through 1953 and then he was back in 1955. In 1950, Ed hit for a .284 average but not much power, with only 2 home runs. He was 4 for 15 with two walks, no rbis or runs scored in the World Series. Ed died in 1972 at only 53.

1976 Topps Dick Allen #455
Dick Allen, then known as Richie Allen, was signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1960. Phillies fans will remember him as a great power hitter, hitting 177 home runs in 6 full seasons (1964-1969). He was traded to the Cardinals after the 1970 season. He then went to the Dodgers, White Sox, Braves and finally back to the Phillies in 1975. In 1976 he was not the Dick Allen he once was, only appearing in 85 games and hitting .268, well below his career .292. He did manage 15 home runs. The 1976 NLCS is his only playoff appearance where he hit an anemic 2 for 9.

1977 Topps Richie Hebner #167
After 9 years with the Pirates, Hebner was signed as a free agent by the Phillies after the 1976 season. Although he played 3rd for the Pirates all those years, he played primarily at 1st for the Phillies. He had a decent year in 1977, hitting .285 with 18 home runs. Hebner was a playoff veteran having appeared in the playoffs in 5 different seasons with the early 1970 Pirates, including their 1971 World Series win. He hit .357 in the losing cause against the Dodgers in the 1977 NLCS.

1978 Topps Richie Hebner #26
This was Hebner's 2nd and last year with the Phillies. He was traded to the Mets in March 1979 for Nino Espinosa. Hebner would eventually have an 18 year career, also playing for the Mets, Tigers, Pirates again, and finally for the Cubs. He had another good year in 1978, hitting .283 with 17 home runs. He was only 1 for 10 in the NLCS however. Hebner, in the off season, worked as a gravedigger in a cemetery owned by his father and brother.

1980 Topps Pete Rose #540
The reason the Phillies didn't need Richie Hebner anymore was that they had signed Pete Rose as a free agent. In December 1978, Pete signed a 4-year $3.22 million contract with the Phillies. It was an enormous contract for the time. He was signed for one reason, to lead the Phillies to the World Series in 1980. In 1979, the Phillies had a off-year, missing the playoffs for the first time in 3 years, but in 1980 they took the prize. Looking at his stats over time, Pete was starting to decline in 1980, although he did lead the league in doubles. But he provided the kind of on-field spark and leadership that the team was missing. And he had lots of playoff experience, having already been to the World Series 4 times with the Reds, winning 2 of them.

1983 Donruss Pete Rose #1
In 1983, the aging Phillies were starting to look more and more like a reincarnation of the 1970's Big Red Machine, with Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. Pete did not have a great year, hitting only .245, his lowest season batting average so far in his career. But the Wheeze Kids managed to put it together one more time and make it to the World Series against the Orioles, where they lost in 5 games.

1993 Leaf John Kruk #366
John Kruk came to the Phillies in 1989 in a trade with the Padres. He was an immediate favorite in Philadelphia. The 1993 team, perhaps the greatest overachievers in sports history, rose from last place in 1992, to win 97 games and take the division. Kruk hit .316 for the season with 14 home runs and 85 rbis. He was the starting first baseman for the NL in the All-Star Game. This would be Kruk's only postseason appearance of his career. He hit .348 in the World Series with 4 rbis.

2007 SP Authentic Ryan Howard #36
in 2007, Ryan was coming off a season where he was an All-Star and the NL Most Valuable Player. He had hit 58 home runs. 2007 wasn't quite as good a year, but in 2007, the team that will go on to win the NL East 4 times in a row, finally made it back to the postseason. The Phillies were a young team and showed it as they went down to the Rockies in 3 games in the NLCS.

2009 Topps 205 Ryan Howard #10
This is the year the Phillies made it back to the World Series and won it all. Ryan had a monster year hitting 48 home runs and 146 rbis, leading the league in both categories. He hit .292 in the post season with 3 HR and 6 ribs to lead the Phillies over the Dodgers and the Rays.

2009 Topps Heritage Chrome Ryan Howard #50
Another big year for Ryan with 45 home runs and 145 rbis and another All-Star berth. And back to the postseason. He hit .375 in the NLCS in a rematch against the Rockies. He went on to hit .333 in the NLCS with 2 HR and 8 rbis, taking the NLCS MVP award. He did not perform well in the World Series as the Yankees took the series in 6 games.

2010 Topps Tribute Ryan Howard #69
If it's October, the Phillies must be in the playoffs. The Phillies had a tremendous 2nd half to the season to really from 7 games behind the Braves and finish with the best record in baseball. Howard had an off-year, if 31 home runs and 108 rbis can be considered an off-year, and he also missed almost 20 games with injuries. But he did make the All-Star team again. He wasn't much of a factor in last nights win over the Reds, but Doc Halladay was on the mound.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Phillies Playoff Teams - Catchers

The Phillies will be going to the playoffs again this year, for the 4th year in a row. This will be the 11th time in their long history that the Phillies will go to the playoffs, the first time being in 1950. Most, except the 1950 team have been in my lifetime, and withing my adult lifetime. Lets take a look at these teams, position by position. We'll start with the catchers. I am not going to attempt to compare the players of different teams but I'll present their stats.

1950 Bowman Andy Seminick #15I own most of the cards I'm going to present in this series, but I don't own any 1950 Phillies. The National League consisted of 8 teams in 1950 and of course the winner of the league went directly to the World Series. Yankees won the 1950 series 4-0. At 29, Andy was one of the older "Whiz Kids" in 1950. He hit .288, and was third on the team with 24 home runs. In the 4 games of the Series, he was only 2 for 11.

1976 Topps Bob Boone #311
It would be 26 years until the Phillies made it back to postseason play. By now, the National League had expanded to 12 teams, in 2 6-team Divisions. The Phillies finished 1st in the NL East with a 101-61 record, the first time a Phillies team won 100 games or more. Unfortunately the Phillies lost the 5-game NLCS to the Reds in 3 straight games. The Reds, ironically would go on to beat the Yanlees in the World Series, 4-0. Bob hit .271 in the 1976 season with only 4 homeruns. In the NLCS he got 2 hits in 7 AB. Bob was also an All-Star in 1976.

1977 Topps Bob Boone #545
Another card I don't own. The 1977 Phillies were pretty much the same team as 1976 and won 101 games again. But again the team couldn't get past the NLCS, this year losing to the Dodgers 3-1. Bob had a better year in 1977, hitting .284 with 11 home runs, but did not get selected for the All-Star Team. He went 4 for 10 in the NLCS.

1978 Topps Bob Boone #176
The 1978 team, virtually the same as the previous two years, only won 90 games, but that was good enough for 1st place again in the NL East. And the team was good enough for another 3-1 loss in the NLCS to the Dodgers. Bob had another good year in 1978, hitting .284 with 12 home runs. He only was 2 for 11 in the NLCS.

1980 Topps Bob Boone #470
The Phillies made two big changes in 1979, bringing in Pete Rose at 1st and Manny Trillo at 2nd. The team overall was a disappointment however, winning only 84 games for a 4th place finish. But in 1980, the team, under new manager Dallas Green, won 91 games and finished 1st in the East. They went on to beat the Astros 3-2 in a hard fought NLCS and then met George Brett and the Royals in the World Series. They won the 1980 World Series 4-2. All the disappointments of the past 4 years were forgotten. Bob had a sub-par year in 1980, only hitting .229 with 9 home runs. He had a pretty good World Series, hitting .412 with 4 rbis.

1983 Topps Bo Diaz #178
Although Bob Boone was gone, the 1983 team was mostly the same as the 1980 team but older. And some of the newer players made the team even older, like Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. In fact, the 1983 team was nick-named the Wheeze Kids. They won 90 games to take the East and then beat the Dodgers 3-1 in the NLCS (revenging to some extent the losses in 1977 and 1978). But the World Series was a big disappointment, losing 4-1 to the Orioles. Bo hit .236 for the regular season with 15 home runs. He hit .250 for the playoffs with no HR or RBIs.

1993 Ultra Darren Daulton #86
10 years would pass before the Phillies would make it back to the postseason. 10 years of mostly terrible teams. And 1993 was an aberration. After winning only 78 games in 1992, good for last place, the 1993 Phillies won 93 games to take the East. 1992 had been a season where many players were hurt a lot. 1993 was a season where those same players had career years. The NLCS was 7 games in 1993 and the Phillies beat the Braves (the best team of the 1990s) 4-2 games to make it to the World Series. Darren hit .257 with 24 home runs in the regular season. The Phillies faced the 1992 World Series champs, the Blue Jays and went down 4-2 games. No Phillie fan will ever forget the Series winning home run hit by Joe Carter off Mitch Williams.

2007 Upper Deck Carlos Ruiz #868
Another long drought but at least the Phillies had been a competitive team since about 2001. Finally, in 2007, they put it all together, winning 89 games and the NL East. The playoff setup had changed again, with 3 divisions in each league, and a wild-card position. The Phillies dropped the NLCS to the Rockies in 3 games. Carlos was in his second year with the Phillies. He hit .259 with 6 HR. He was 3 for 9 in the NLCS.

2008 Topps Opening Day Carlos Ruiz #124
With much the same team as 2007, the Phillies again took the East with 92 wins. They then beat the Brewers 3-1 games in the NLCS and took out the Dodgers in the NLCS, 4-1 games. They then met the Devil Rays and won the World Series 4 games to 1. 28 years since their last Championship in 1980. Ruiz had an off year in 2008, hitting only .219 in 114 games. He went on to hit .313 in the NLCS and .375 in the World Series.

2009 O-Pee-Chee Carlos Ruiz #286
With 93 wins, the Phillies went on to top the NL East again. They faced the Rockies in a rematch of the 2007 NLCS but this year won the series 3-1. Then they once again took out the Dodgers, 4-1, in the NLCS. And then a rematch of the 1950 World Series, the Phillies vs the Yankees. The Phillies went down again, 4-2. But the Phillies have shone that they are a great team, by going to the World Series, 2 years in a row. Carlos snapped back in 2009, hitting .255 with 9 HR. But he had an even better postseason, hitting a combined .341 with 9 rbis and 2 HRs.

2010 Topps 206 Carlos Ruiz #19
The Phillies are losing the last game of the season as I write this but even if they do, they will have won 97 games, the most games they've won since the 101 games in 1977. Enough wins to ensure them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Carlos has had a great season, going into this game hitting .302 with 8 HR.