Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Training Day 1

I have a few baseball related goals that I am sure other collectors share such as going to Cooperstown and visiting all the major league stadiums.  Cooperstown will have to wait until my kids get old enough to enjoy it, while the stadium tour will have to wait until either my kids get out of college or I win the lottery.  I was able to cross off one goal last week  when the family and I went to spring training in Florida.

My wife and I have talked about going to spring training since we got married in 2000, but spring break in the school district she teaches in is usually in April.  This year we lucked out with an early Easter, so we took the kids out of school 2 days early and arrived in Florida on Sunday March 20.  Hotel rates were crazy in Jupiter, so I stayed about an hour north of there.  We spent Sunday afternoon at the beach before eating at a great local pizza place. 

Monday morning were arrived at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter about 8:30.  The Cardinals played the Red Sox that afternoon, but the game was sold out.  We decided to spend our day watching the minor leaguers play on the backfields.  It was free to park and you can roam around four diamonds and see close to 150 different players.  The teams practiced from 9-11, took a break, then came back at 1:00 to play games against each other. 

I have read you have a chance to see some current and former players on the backfields at any given time.  Less than an hour into practice, Cardinals legend Willie McGee was roaming around the four diamonds.  He serves as a guest instructor during spring training teaching baserunning and outfield defense. 
McGee stopped for a few minutes and signed autos for about the 12-15 people gathered around Diamond 3.  My wife and son got him to sign this 1987 Topps card.  It was great to get an auto from a childhood favorite so early into our trip.

Throughout the day McGee would wonder in between the 4 fields as the games went on.  He would stopped and talk to about anyone and pose for pictures.  I would guess there was maybe 25 fans watching these games who were not related to the players, so the atmosphere was very laid back. 

There were a few other people trying to get autos, but I was unsure when and if players could sign.  Some would change fields during the morning practice and walk within a few feet of us, but I did not think that was the best time to ask for an auto.  Before the 1:00 games started, I did get an auto from 3rd base prospect Patrick Wisdom.
Wisdom played in Double A last year with mixed results.  He was sent down to extended spring training after the first two months to work on his swing.  He came back in June and won League Player of the Month.  He should open 2016 as the starting third baseman for Triple A Memphis. 

Players who did not appear in the 1:00 games would be sitting in the stands or behind the backstop.  Once again I was unsure if this was a good time to ask for autos, so we just sat back and enjoyed the games.  My son was having a blast running down foul balls.  I think he had 4 of them before we realized that players would try to retrieve the balls so they could still be used in the games.  Since the balls were basic minor league balls, we kept 2 of them and gave the rest back. 

There were some gate keepers/workers assigned to watch some entrances that fans were not allowed into.  My son would chat with an older one who rode a bike with a cart behind it.  The worker was amazed a 7 year knew the names of so many minor league players.  I explained to him that minor league games are more fan friendly and cost effective for my family to attend than going to a Cardinals game in St. Louis.  We managed to go to 3 different Cardinals minor league stadiums last year for about 10-12 games.  When a minor league player talks to him or signs an auto, my son tends to remember his name. 

After my son game back what seemed like his 10th foul ball, the worker with the bike came up to him.  He thanked him for his help and pulled out a broken bat from his cart and gave it to him 
It is a Carlos Beltran model, but the worker was not for sure who used it.  The handle has a pretty good crack, but the tape holds it together.  My daughter was feeling a little jealous about the bat, so after the games ended the same worker went into one of the dugouts and came back with these:

The Louisville Slugger has a crack along the a handle.  We did see the Old Hickory model being broke in a game by Alex Deleon.  He is a 25 year old first baseman stuck in Single A ball.  I would be surprised if he lasts another season in the Cardinals system, but it is still a nice bat to have. 

There was one player left in the dugout before we left, so my son wanted to try and get an auto on his bat. 
Carson Kelly is the Cardinals heir apparent to Yadier Molina.  He won the minor league gold glove award last year in just his second full season as a catcher.  He should start this year in Double A Springfield.  He was super nice to talk to and personalized the bat to my son, but my son smudged it the personalization.  Not a big deal though, the bat is already hanging on his bedroom wall. 

A fun and  productive first day of spring training for us.  3 autos, 3 broken bats, 2 baseballs, and lots of memories.  Good thing we had plenty of spare room in our van on the trip home. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Week of Catching Up

It has been 2 weeks since my last post.  I try to post at least once or twice each week, but I took a break last week.  As in a spring break trip to Jupiter, Florida for spring training.  I spent 3 days watching the Cardinals play and practice before arriving home late Friday evening.  With it being a holiday weekend, I did not get much done other than unpacking.  I hope to have a few posts about my journey later this week, but I will need to find time to scan a few things.

Among the week's worth of mail waiting for me were some trade packages.  One unexpected one came from Trading Bases member Colin.  The surprise packages always seem to be the best.

 These 1997 Bowman Chrome cards did not scan well due to the horrible curling issue.  I remember buying a few packs when this came out trying to get the Jose Cruz Jr rookie.  They curled back then too.

1998 and 1999 Bowman Chrome did not have the curling issues, at least these 2 cards did not.  I like the 1998 design on the right the best out of the 3 years.

For some reason I always have a hard time completing the Opening Day sets.  I guess not many collectors bust this product because of the lack of big hits.  These two did finish the 2014 team set.
I always think of what might of have been for Anthony Reyes if he would not have argued with Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan about how to pitch.  He was masterful in Game 1 of the 2006 World Series, but would get only 4 more wins for the Cardinals before being traded to Cleveland in 2008.

Fleer must have thought Esix Snead was going to have a great career.  He was in more of their 2001 products than Albert Pujols.  He never did reach the majors despite stealing over 100 bases in a season in the minors.  All four of these are short prints with the Platinum the only one that is not numbered.  Fleer loved their serial numbered rookies.  The Genuine is numbered to 1500, the Game Time to 2000, and the Premium to 1999.  Colin must have been either a Snead super collector, or very unlucky to pull his cards.  Either way, all four were nice set hits.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I Struck Gold!

Topps Gold inserts have been around since 1992.  In 1993 Topps inserted Black Gold cards into packs.
Topps was not as lazy back then as they are now.  The Black Gold featured a different photo than the base or gold insert.  The first 22 cards which consisted on National League players were inserted in Series 1 packs.  The next 22 cards featuring American League players came in Series 2 packs. 

Collectors could also pull redemption cards that could be redeemed for various cards in the Black Gold set. 
Winner A was for cards 1-11

Winner C was for cards 23-33.  There was an error with some Winner C cards that pictured National League cards instead of American League cards.

Winner A/B cards were for cards 1-22.  I bought this card on COMC last week with the $5 I won from their Black Friday scratch off cards.  Their is a Winner A/B/C/D card good for the entire 44 card set, but that redemption card is a little too pricey for my liking.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Hits Just Keep Coming

Last week I worked out a trade for some of the 2016 Topps inserts I bought at the card show for a dime each with trader Ron from Trading Bases.  Ron collects Pirates for himself and Yankees for his son.  I believe I sent 10 inserts in exchange for a big lot of Cardinals set hits.

I like the looks of the 2015 Prizm set even if they do not scan that well.  These 6 finished my team set.

There is not much difference between 2016 Donruss and 2015 Donruss.  The lack of logos really seem to stand out on these cards.

I did get some cards with logos.  2016 Heritage is a nice clean design with a nice selection of players and even the manager gets a card.  I am thankful Randal Grichuk is the only Cardinals player that is a short print.

I love the action photos Heritage has this year.  Tommy Pham is going through the dugout lineup after hitting a home run, while Piscotty and Carpenter celebrate after scoring.

I did receive a couple of inserts.  The Holiday gold pictured one of the few times he scored last year.  Hope he can stay healthy this year.  Donruss does have some cool inserts this year.  The Piscotty die cut is a very thick card.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

LIttle Bit of Everything

Monday I received an unexpected package from long time trading partner Kevin who runs the Trading Bases group.  Kevin is a great guy who routinely sends cards my way without any warning.  I usually have a good chunk of them, but I can always find a home for duplicates.  His latest package contained a wide variety of Cardinals.

I am not certain when Fleer started to included stickers in packs, but these cover a wide range of years.  I remember sticking these on 800 count boxes as a kid.

1990 was the more colorful version of Topps Big.  None of these 3 players look too interested in having their picture taken. 

Kevin sent a huge stack of 1989 Sportflics of which I had bought from COMC on Black Friday, but I did need these 2.  Have a stack of 7 or 8 duplicates if another Cardinals fan is looking for them.

I do not have many minor league cards outside of the team sets I buy at the stadiums, so these were a welcome addition.  The Zeile is part of a 1989 Pro Cards team set, while Matt Morris and Dmitri Young are from 1995 Signature Rookies.

Kevin included a large amount for 1981-1985 Cardinals from all 3 brands that I already had, so they are up for grabs to any Cardinals fans that needs them.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Droppin Dimes at the Card Show

State Farm Insurance has some commercials that have a way of sticking in your mind.  Who can forget Jake and his khakis.  The latest one features NBA players rapping about coins:

I had this jingle on my mind while I was at a card show yesterday.  My daughter had a volleyball tournament in St. Louis that had a enough time in between games that my son and I hit up a card show about 10 miles away.  I had a few Cardinals cards I was looking for to have signed in person (another post on that later), but nothing else in particular that I needed to get. 

We spent about 30 minutes looking at all the tables before buying anything.  My 7 year old son thinks I have enough baseball cards, so he wants to start a St. Louis Blues collection.  I am a hockey fan, but have never gotten into cards.  He knows the current Blues roster, so he wanted to get one card of a few players.  I think I spent $2.50 on 5 cards including a Vladimir Taresenko. 

After buying the Cardinals singles I needed, I spent the rest of my time at one dealer's 2 tables.  He had 3-4 monster boxes set up with various prices ranging from $0.10/ card to $1 each.  I spent 30 minutes going through the dime boxes that were somewhat sorted into sports.  I would find a chunk of baseball, then a chunk of football.  The good thing was the cards were fairly sorted by brand.  I spent $4 on the following cards.

2015 Finest Generations
35 Greg Maddux Braves

2015 Finest 1995 Finest
14 Ryan Braun Brewers

2015 Topps Update Gold
113 Eric Campbell 222/2015 Mets
243 Austin Adams 881/2015 Indians
260 Andrew Miller 170/2015 Yankees
281 Manny Banuelos 1307/2015 Braves
317 Luis Sardinas 287/2015 Brewers
379 Cameron Maybin 602/2015 Braves

I did not take a picture, but included in the $4 was this lot of 2016 Topps :

2016 Topps Rainbow Foil
41 Josh Harrison Pirates
125 Greinke/Arrieta/Kershaw League Leaders
167 Jacoby Ellsbury Yankees
169 Charlie Morton Pirates
178 Rob Refsnyder Yankees
183 Andrelton Simmons Braves
190 Jeurys Familia Mets
204 Mark Teixeira Yankees
218 Andrew Miller Yankees
220 Arrieta/Greinke/Cole League Leaders
242 Matt Wisler Braves
298 Ryan Braun Brewers
326 Kevin Plawecki Mets
347 Jason Grilli Braves

2016 Topps Gold
28 Brian McCanmn 572/2016 Yankees
52 Julio Tehran 966/2016 Braves
57 Adam Lind 1524/2016 Brewers
116 Brett Gardner 1677/2016 Yankees
136 Michael Cuddyer 61/2016 Mets
138 Francisco Liriano 1989/2016 Pirates
145 Jon Niese 48/2016 Mets
168 Nathan Eovaldi 732/2016 Yankees
194 Chase Headley 1375/2016 Yankees
204 Mark Teixeira 953/2016 Yankees
212 Starlin Castro 1397/2016 Cubs
219 Hector Olivera 1573/2016 Braves
231 Chris Coghlan 1859/2016 Cubs
240 Nick Markakis 1774/2016 Braves
252 Jorge Solar 249/2016 Cubs
273 Mets Team 1783/2016
310 David Wright 1071/2016 Mets
312 Curtis Granderson 1314/2016 Mets
344 Jonathan Lucroy 317/2016 Brewers

Last put not least, I found this card which I am not for sure was meant to be in the dime box:

Topps Black 167 Jacoby Ellsbury 61/65 

I was more than happy with the 41 cards for $4.  There were plenty more 2016 foil and gold cards, but I just pulled cards for team collectors I have traded with before.  By this time my son was ready to go so I called it a day.  Some of the cards are already being mailed to traders I owe, but dropped me an email if you see something you like.