Sunday, April 28, 2013

Song of the Week - Girl Don't Tell Me by The Beach Boys

I was in my teens when the Beach Boys were at their peak. I loved their music and still do. This song is from their 1965 album "Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)".  It was the flip side to one of their biggest hits "Barbara Ann".

Any song that is 48-years-old is bound to have some anachronisms compared to today, but this song couldn't even be written today.

The plot of the song is simple, guy meets girl one summer while visiting his gran. Falls in love and leaves her at the end of the summer with "tears in his eyes". From what ever dreary place is lives in the winter, he writes to her but she doesn't write back. When he returns the next summer, he bumps into her. "Hey, remember me, I'm the guy from last summer".

In this day and age of tweets, texts, Facebook, Instigram, Tumbler and other stuff I probably don't even know about, how would it be possible to not have any contact at all after leaving a summer romance?

It's still a good song.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

100-card Fairfield Repack

Here are some more cards from that Fairfield repack where I found the Steve Carlton Giants card.   As I said, I always find stuff I like or need in these things. There were 50 cards in the package that I didn't have.  The cards I can't use go into the mix for a future Summer Clearance Trade. 

I've noticed a recent trend toward less late 1980's cards. Could the seemingly inexhaustible supply of 1987 Topps cards be drying up?

1981 Topps #129 Art Howe
Future Astros manager (1989-1993).

1983 Fleer #406 Jerry Dybzinski
I hope that his last name is easier to pronounce than it looks.

1985 Topps #183 Larry McWilliams
They don't make uniforms like this anymore.

1990 MVP Rookies Superstars #1 Ben McDonald
This is the second card from this odd little set that I've seen.  McDonald was hot in the hobby in 1990. He was the first player drafted in the 1989 draft, and made his ML debut with the Orioles in September 1989.

2002 Ultra #193 J. T. Snow
Interesting photo.

2007 Topps Walmart #26 Cole Hamels
After that Carlton Star '87 card, this is the second best card in the package. In fact this was one of the cards showing and is why I bought it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

1987 Steve Carlton Giants Card

I like to buy repacks sold under the Fairfield name because there is almost always something of interesting hidden in them. Recently I purchased one of the 100-card packages. I may put up more the cards later but wanted to do a quick post about this one card.

A 1987 card featuring Steve Carlton as a Giant.

As I life-long Phillies fan, I have a lot of interest in Steve Carlton cards. Although he started with the Cardinals, he spent the bulk of his career with the Phillies. After the Phillies played for the Giants, the Indians, the White Sox and the Twins before finally nobody would sign him.

Carlton was released by the Phillies on June 24, 1986 and picked up by the Giants on July 4, 1986. He made 6 starts for the Giants, going 1-3 before they released him on August 7, 1986. The White Sox picked him up on August 12, 1986. He was 4-3 in 10 starts for them. He was signed by the Indians in April 1987 before being traded to the Twins later in the season.

Carlton's 1986 cards all show him as a Phillie and he did not appear in the 1986 Topps or Fleer update sets.

His 1987 cards show him with the White Sox with the Fleer and Topps update sets showing him as an Indian.  So I thought there were no cards of him as a Giant.  Then I come across this Star '87. Beckett does list two other cards with Carlton as a Giant, the 1987 Topps and O-Pee-Chee Wax Box Bottom cards.

I ofter see minor league cards produced by The Star Company from this era. I have a few major league cards of theirs from 1988 and 1992. All the cards feature the same basic design, no matter what year. It looks like they produced mini-sets of individual players. The Carlton is 13 of 14.

This repack also had Star '87 cards for Roger Clemens and Keith Hernandez. does not list these cards and an Internet search didn't turn up anything useful on them.   

First At-Bat Home Run Part 2

Picking up where we left off yesterday, here's the rest of the players who have hit a home run in their first at bat in the past 10 years.

6/5/08: Mark Worrell. I don't have any cards for Worrell, probably, because beyond hitting this home run, he didn't have much of a major league career. He was another pitcher, and he only has two at bats, both for the Cardinals in one game in 2008. He made a second game appearance for the Orioles in 2011 (8 runs in 2 innings pitched).

2007 Topps Turkey Red #102 Elijah Dukes
4/2/07: Dukes was the only player to do this in 2007 and he did it early. Dukes career ended in 2009 with 31 home runs and numerous criminal problems.

2007 Fleer #332 Josh Fields
9/18/06: Fields was the 5th player to do this in 2006. Fields played in 100 games in 2007 had 23 home runs and was 7th in ROY voting that year. But his career declined and he's been out of the majors since 2010. He's currently with the Phillies AAA club in Lehigh Valley.

2005 Fleer Showcase #110 Charlton Jimerson
9/4/06: Jimerson was the 2nd of three Astros to hit a home run in his first at bat in the past 10 years. Jimerson was a highly touted rookie in 2005 but things didn't work out for him. He's only had 4 hits in his entire career (2005-2008) but 2 of them are home runs.

2007 Bowman Heritage #237 (short print) Kevin Kouzmanoff
9/2/06: Kouzmanoff went on to hit 84 more home runs but hasn't played since 2011. He doesn't seem to be even in the minors this year.

2006 Fleer Tradition #48 Adam Wainwright
5/24/06: Another pitcher. In 8 years with the Cardinals, Wainwright has an 83-49 record, has hit 6 home runs and 18 doubles.

2010 Topps #619 Mike Napoli
5/4/06: This is the earliest Napoli card I have scanned. He's had another 147 home runs and currently plays for the Red Sox.

2005 Bowman Draft Picks Futures Game Game Worn Relic #148 Jeremy Hermida
8/31/05: Hermida's playing time has fallen drastically since leaving the Marlins in 2009. Although he has 65 home runs, almost all were hit before 2010. He's currently with the Indians AAA club in Columbus.

2007 Topps Heritage #414 Mike Jacobs
8/21/05: Since hitting his first home run with the Mets, Jacobs has gone on to hit 100 more. But since failing a drug test in 2010 he's been in decline and is currently playing in Mexico.

9/26/04: Andy Phillips. No cards scanned for him.  He hit his first home run for the Yankees but hasn't done much since. He spent 2010 in Japan but now appears out of organized baseball.

2004 Skybox Autographics (numbered 1090/1500) #69 Greg Dobbs
9/8/04: Dobbs has 45 career home runs. He's mainly been a pinch hitter and platoon player. In 2007-2008, while with the Phillies, he led the majors in pinch hits. He's currently with the Marlins.

4/30/04: Brian Dallimore. Dallimore appeared in 27 games for the Giants in 2004-2005 and only has the one home run. There were 3 fist at bat home runs in April 2004.

2007 Upper Deck Hector Luna
4/8/04: The only Luna card I own. Luna hit his first home run for the Cardinals. Since then he's played 339 games for 5 different teams and has 15 Career home runs. He's currently on the Phillies major league roster although I don't remember seeing him play.

2005 Upper Deck Pro Sigs Silver Parallel #52 Kazuo Matsui
4/6/04: 32 home runs in a career than ended in 2010 with the Astros.

6/27/03: Dave Matranga. Matranga had 5 at bats for the Astros in 2003 and that was pretty much it. Of the 32 players who hit a home run in his first at bat in the last 10 years, Matranga has the distinction to have had the least plate appearances.

Monday, April 22, 2013

First At-Bat Home Run Part 1

Wikipedia is full of lists. One I came across recently is a list of players who hit a home run in their first at bat. I've checked some other sources as well and it looks like the Wikipedia list is up-to-date. On average, this is a pretty rare feat. Only 114 batters have done this since the first guy did it in 1885. That works out to less than 1 per year.  But it's becoming more common. In the past 10 years (2003-2012) it's been done 32 times! Working backwards here's Part 1 of the list since 2003.

Apparently hitting a home run in your first at bat is not an indication of future performance.

2012 Topps Pro Debut #81 Jurickson Profar
9/2/12. Profar was the 4th player with this accomplishment in 2012. He had 3 hits in 17 at bats for the Rangers last year, 2 doubles and a home run. He did not make the team this year and is currently playing for the Rangers AAA team in Round Rock, Texas.

8/2/12. Eddy Rodriguez. I don't have a card for this guy. He appeared in 2 games for the Padres and was 1 for 7. Currently playing for the Padres AA team in San Antonio.

2013 Topps Opening Day #167 Starling Marte

7/26/12: Marte hit 5 home runs in 47 games for the Pirates last year and looks to be the starting left fielder this year. He's hit one home run already in 2013.

2012 Topps Update #209 Yasmani Grandal
6/2/12: Grandal not only got a home run in his first at bat, he also hit a home run in his second at bat. And each was from a different side of the plate! According to the back of this card, he's the first to ever do such a thing.

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter #192 Brett Pill
9/6/11: Pill has appeared in 63 games for the Giants in 2011-2012 and has 6 total home runs. He's currently playing at AAA Fresno.

2012 Topps Golden Moments Parallel #40 Tom Milone
9/3/11: As rare a feat as this is, it's even rarer for a pitcher to do it. Malone only had the one hit for the Nationals in 2011, in 10 at bats. He's currently pitching for the A's where he is 3-0.

2011 Bowman Platinum Prospects X-Fractors #80 Brandon Guyer
5/6/11: Guyer has 3 total home runs in not much playing time for the Rays. Currently in AAA at Durham.

2012 Bowman Chrome #124 J. P. Arencibia
8/7/10: The last of 5 players in 2010 to do this. He actually looks like a legit home run hitter with 4total home runs. He already has 6 this year.

2010 Bowman Platinum #42 Daniel Nava
6/12/10: Nava looks to have made the big club out of spring training this year. He's got 4 home runs in 2013 and is batting .345 in 12 games.

2010 Topps 206 #24 Starlin Castro
5/7/10: Castro, while not necessarily a home run hitter, is by now, a 2-time All-Star with a near .300 batting average.

2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #95 Luke Hughes
4/28/10: Hughes may be he only Australian player to accomplish this feat. He went on to hit 7 home runs for the Twins in 2011, but saw very limited playing time in 2012. He's currently with the Blue Jays AAA club in Las Vegas.

2007 Bowman Draft Draft Picks Gold #54 Jason Heyward
4/5/10: Heyward went on to be an All-Star in 2010 and runner up in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

2010 Upper Deck #31 John Hester
8/28/09: Hester has not had much playing time since his big moment and is currently with the Angels AAA team in Salt Lake City.

2009 Topps Update #154 Gerardo Parra
5/13/09: Parra is the 100th player to get a home run in his first at bat. He's been a solid player for the D'backs ever since.

2009 Topps Heritage #610 Jordan Schaffer
4/5/09: Schaffer is a part time center fielder who has 24 total home runs and a career BA of .224. He was traded by the Braves along with others to the Astros in 2011 for Michale Bourn but the Braves have reacquired him off wavers.

2009 Upper Deck #406 Mark Saccomanno
9/8/08: He hit a home run in his debut game and the final game of his ML career was just 20 days later. Hasn't even appeared in the minors since 2010.

2009 Topps 206 #105 Lou Montanez
8/6/08: Montanez managed to hit another 4 home runs before his career ended after 129 games in 2011.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Club: The Man Who Sold The World

I was a big Bowie fan in the 1970's. My first Bowie album was 1971's Hunky Dory released before Ziggy Stardust, when hardly anyone knew who he was. After 1972's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars his earlier albums, Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold The World were re-released in the US and I snapped them up.

If you were a Bowie fan in the '70s, you know that he seemed to change musical styles and personalities with every album. This book tries to explain why. The first section deals with Bowie's childhood and early years as he tried to establish himself in the 1960's. As talented as he was, he was apparently not very confident in himself and at times not really interested in a career as a rock star.

The rest of the book tells the story of Bowie's career through each individual song he wrote. An interesting concept. The author writes about what was going on in Bowie's life as he constantly recreated himself, in his personal life and in his music. Bowie was such a big star in the '70s that, I think, we tend to forget that he was basically nobody before Ziggy. In Ziggy Stardust, Bowie was presented as a big star in the glitter rock mold. He toured extensively, although the tour was not a big a success has he wanted.

The book is also a familiar tale of fame. Disagreements with managers, drugs, overwork, sex, fall-outs with fellow musicians, and loss of direction. The author presents some of Bowie's lifestyle through this period as a fear of insanity. His adored older brother had a complete mental breakdown (something that was rampant in his mother's family) when Bowie was in his late teens. It's as if Bowie embraced the insanity of overwork and cocaine in an attempt to avoid going insane. Fighting fire with fire as it were.

I would not recommend this book if you're not pretty familiar with his body of work in the 1970's. It would be pretty had to follow if you don't really know the songs. I pretty much lost interest in Bowie after "Heroes", consequently the end of the book dealing with his later albums like Lodger and Scary Monsters which I really am not familiar, was hard to follow.

The last Bowie album I bought was 1983's Let's Dance. He's released 10 more albums since then (not much of an output for 30 plus years) which I know nothing about.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Random Cards From My Collection #42.

Card # 35199
2006 Hero Decks Phillies Dave Bancroft

Comments on the card: This is a deck of playing cards, each card features a different Phillie from the entire history of the team.
When acquired: 2010
How acquired: At a sporting goods store in Philadelphia. I don't remember what I paid for it.
Player's season: Bancroft had a 16-year career and played for the Phillies from 1915 to 1920. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1971. He is 3rd all-time in putouts by a shortstop.

Card #36819
1983 O-Pee-Chee #66 Lou Whitaker
Comments on the card: I love finding cards like this. O-Pee-Chee produced these cards for the Canadian market (complete with French translations) under license from Topps.
When acquired: 2012
How acquired: Paid $0.09/card for a Fairfield 100-card repack.
Player's season: Sweet Lou had a career year in 1983. He hit for a .320 average with 40 doubles (both career highs). He was an All-Star and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards for the season.

Card #15104
2010 Topps #74 Casey Blake
Comments on the card: A pretty decent Topps design. I like the larger photo on the back.
When acquired: 2010
How acquired: Paid $0.24/card for various kinds of Topps packages in early 2010.
Player's season: I don't know too much about Blake. He looks like he was the Dodgers regular 3rd baseman in 2010 but his batting statistics indicate a decline.

Card #19568
1986 O-Pee-Chee #316 Alan Knicely

Comments on the card: Crazy, another O-Pee Chee card. Giant glasses!
When acquired: Don't know
How acquired: Don't know
Player's season: Alan Lee was never much more than a pinch-hitter and part time infielder. The Phillies had released him in March 1986 and he got picked up by the Cardinals. He hit .195 in 100 at bats for the Cards and that was the end.

Card #23344
1996 Ultra #206 Derek Bell
Comments on the card: Not sure what's going on here. Did he just miss making a spectacular through the legs catch or is just about to make one?
When acquired: Don't know
How acquired: Don't know
Player's season: In his 2nd year with the Astros, Derek hit .268 in 158 games. He also hit 17 home runs.

Card #13105
 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini A and G Back #162 Shane Victorino
Comments on the card: Mini cards? Do you love 'em or hate 'em? I love 'em. This is, of, course, the A&G back parallel.
When acquired: 2009
How acquired: Paid $0.42/card for hobby box of Allen & Ginter in July 2009.
Player's season: The Flyin' Hawaiian hit .292 with a league leading 13 triples during the regular season. He was also an All-Star and won a Gold Glove. He hit .353 in the NLDS, .368 in the NLCS (Dodger killer!) but like the rest of the Phillies fell apart in the World Series, hitting only .182.

Card #6794
1987 Reading Phillies ProCards #790 Joe Lefebvre

Comments on the card: This is from the enormous minor league sets that ProCards released in the 1980s and early 1990s. Pretty minimal design.
When acquired: 2006
How acquired: Paid $4.50 for the 24-card Phillies set on eBay.
Player's season: Joe had a 7-year career, mostly with the Phillies. although one of those years, 1985, he missed the whole season due to injuries. He rehabbed in Reading and then returned there in 1987 as a coach. Joe is still in baseball, currently on the coaching staff of the Giants, whom he's been with since 1996.

Card #18354
2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #244 Aaron Cook
Comments on the card: 2010 was the first Allen & Ginter set to have a colored background, in addition to the usual color wash around the player's head.
When acquired: 2010
How acquired: Paid $0.46/card for blasters and loose packs. I also bought a hobby box that year but this didn't come from that.
Player's season: Aaron had been 16-9 for the Rockies in 2008 but seems to have deteriorated. He was 6-8 with a 5.08 ERA in 2010. He's currently a free agent after a 4-11 record with the Red Sox last year.

Card #17306
2008 Upper Deck Documentary #4575 Manny Ramirez
Comments on the card: On paper it must have sounded like a good idea. Produce a set that would document every game played in the 2008 season. On cardboard, the execution made this the worst baseball card set every produced.
When acquired: 2009
How acquired: Paid $20 each for two blasters. The cards were cheap at 10 cents each. They'd have to be since there were so many of them.
Player's season: Manny started 2008 with the Red Sox and ended with the Dodgers after a trade in July. In 53 games for the Dodgers, he hit .396 with 17 home runs, helping the Dodgers into the playoffs.

Card #31276
1986 Topps #300 George Brett
Comments on the card: In the 1980's Topps reserved the even 100 numbered cards for the biggest players and few came bigger in those days than George Brett.
When acquired: Don't know
How acquired: Don't know
Player's season: 1986 wasn't George's biggest year, he only hit .290, but he did make his 10th straight All-Star Game.