Sunday, July 23, 2017

Book Review: Teammate

Title: Teammate 

Author: David Ross with Don Yeager 

Genre: Autobiographical

Ease of Reading: This was a really quick read for me. The print is fairly large, it's well written, I'm a fanboy of David Ross and the World Series Champion Cubs. The 242 pages really never stood a chance.

Synapse: The formatting of the book really kept things flowing. In chapter one the book starts with the morning before Game 7 of the World Series, but also in chapter one we learn about David's baseball path before he was drafted by the Dodgers. Periodically, journal entries from Ross' iPhone are introduced to chronicle the play of the 2017 Cubs throughout the season. As the chapters increase in number, the story lines of Game 7, David's career, and the Cubs 2017 season continue to move to a common culmination. I found it fascinating how there seemed to be a lot of give and take between the three different story lines and how easy it was to follow each of them as the pages turned.
Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed reading how David Ross blossomed into a clubhouse leader and truly embraced the role even though he was "just" a back-up catcher. I could sense his passion for winning, family, and his teammates and he detailed the peaks and valleys of attempting to balance all three without pulling any punches as an author. As a high school baseball coach I was looking for some characteristics which Ross really thought were important in being a good teammate and leader. Here's how I interpreted his words:
1. Work Ethic - Work hard and with pride. It's an easy way to gain respect.
2. Trust - Being a part of a team is as much about trusting in your teammates as anything else.
3. Make an effort to get to know everyone and what makes them tick.
4. Don't be afraid to call someone on the carpet when it needs to be done. This is probably the most difficult for many people. If you do the first three points though, then this last one is maybe a little easier for others around you to swallow.

Grade: I asked my sister to give this book to me as a birthday present when I first learned about. I waited a little while to get my hands on it, at no fault of my sister, but when I finally had a copy I pretty much devoured it. I haven't ripped through a book at that torrid of a pace in quite some time. Is it forevery baseball fan?  Probably not. It helps to be a Cub fan or be to be interested in being a better teammate, and it certainly helps to be both, like myself. Heck, if you're into baseball biographies and autobiographies then this one is for you, too. I may be a little biased, but I'm going to grade it out as 'A' material. It hit all my expectations and even brought occasional tear to my eye. Well done, Mr. Ross.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

All Time Greatest Teams: Cards from My First Cousin Once Removed, Part 2 of 2

Yesterday I left you with a picture of a card album as a teaser, but before we get to the album I want to show you a note I found in a PWE tucked inside the box from my mother's cousin, Mark.

Strange Cards
 The list of strange cards is kind of cryptic, especially with the way it starts. Below are the cards which coincide with the descriptors.

 True. The Houston Colt .45s are no longer a team, but I don't think that's what Mark was referring to. Check the back.
 Nick, over at Dime Boxes, likes to talk about sunset cards, and this one may be the ultimate sunset card.

Lost Laundry:
 Yeah, I think Kirby lost his shirt. Oops.

Borrowed my kid's bat:
 I didn't even notice the size of the bat Yogi was holding in that picture. But yeah, it seems abnormally small!

Predicts my Hall of Fame Chances:
 Ooooh!  Mark is laying down some witty sass!

I can fly:
 It sure does look like it. On the planet Tatooine no less!

Slightly bigger dimension - why???
I can answer that one!  Topps Big wouldn't be called Topps Big if the cards weren't slightly larger in size. Nice concept I suppose, but a pain for collectors to store.

Fun stuff!  Now, on to the binder!
It's empty?  Huh?

No worries, I found all of the cards in nine-pocket pages. Let's check out the All Time Greatest Teams in reverse chronological order.  These cards are from the 1987 TCMA set.

The 1969 Mets, World Series Champions, 100-62:

 Or should I say the "1969 Miracle Mets"? Cleon Jones and Jerry Koosman were All-Stars with Tom Seaver. Seaver also won the Cy Young and would go into the Hall of Fame with Nolan Ryan. Why there isn't a card of Tom Seaver is beyond me.

The 1961 Yankees, World Series Champions, 103-59:
 Eight Yankees made the All-Star team that year and three of them would be inducted in the HOF. Roger Maris would break Babe Ruth's home run record and win the MVP. White Ford would win the Cy Young.

The 1960 Pirates, World Series Champions, 95-59
 Eight All-Stars, two future HOFers in Maz and Clemente, an MVP in Dick Groat, and the Cy Young winner in Vern Law. Wow.

1957 Milwaukee Braves, World Series Champions, 95-59
 Six All-Stars, four Hall of Famers (Aaron, Spahn, Schoendeienst and Eddie Mathews), Aaron won the MVP and Spahn won the Cy Young.

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, World Series Champions, 98-55
Roy Campanella was the MVP, there were four All-Stars, and SIX would find themselves in Cooperstown: Campanella, Robinson, Snider, Reese, Koufax and Tommy Lasorda.

1950 Philadelphia Phillies, NL Pennant, 91-63
 The Yankees won the World Series that year, but the Phillies are recognized as one of the greatest teams. The team had four All-Stars in Robin Roberts, Dick Sisler, Willie Jones and Jim Konstanty, who also won the Cy Young. Roberts and Richie Ashburn would go on to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

1946 Boston Red Sox, AL Pennant, 104-50
The Red Sox lost the World Series to the Cardinals, but had eight players elected to the All-Star game that year. Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams would wind up in Cooperstown and Williams would win the MVP that year.

 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions, 94-58
Four All-Stars in this group, but to be fair the NL only had 21 make the mid-summer classic. Dizzy Dean, a pitcher, won the MVP, and it's worth noting the first year the Cy Young Award was issued was in 1956. SEVEN names from the roster made it to the Hall of Fame: Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch, Burleigh Grimes, Jesse Haines, Joe Medwick, Dazzy Vance and Leo Durocher.

1927 New York Yankees, World Series Champions, 110-44
The original Bronx Bombers! Lou Gehrig was the MVP. There was no All-Star game, as the first one played was in 1933. Earle Combs, Gehrig, Waite Hoyt, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, and Babe Ruth would be enshrined in Cooperstown.

1907 Chicago Cubs, World Series Champions, 107-45
This was an era before All-Star Games and season ending player awards, but Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance would go down in baseball lore. The Cubs hit 13 homers as a team that year... man that was a completely different time.

I'm really excited to add these card to my collection. I've been working on a Hall of Fame binder, and these cards will fit right in.

Thanks again for the cards, Mark!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cards from My First Cousin Once Removed, Part 1 of 2

This post has been coming for a long time. Typically, I don't write something for the blog until the cards have been collated and absorbed by my collection, and that's the main reason for such a delay on hefty box of cards I received as a gift back on April 30th.

Laura and I went to southwest Wisconsin to support the art show of the couple who once played matchmaker with us. I could get more into the minutiae, but they are a private couple who don't care much for the internet, so we'll keep the details at a minimum. While at the art show we bumped into my mother's cousin Mark and his wife. Mark is a baseball fan and a retired high school math teacher from the St. Louis area.

I've never met Mark before, but he was great to talk to. We conversed about school and baseball quite a bit. And because we have so much in common it was kind of like peering into my future twenty years down the road. The future is pretty good!

At one point we left the art show and went for a short walk to his car and he gifted me a bat and a box of baseball items. I wasn't expecting this and was very much unprepared to receive such a generous gift. Yet, I found out, this wasn't his first donation to my collection. It turns out he's the one who secretly gifted me cards about two years ago. Sneaky, sneaky!

Here's the bat, which is currently hanging in my bat rack in the man room.
 It's a Bobby Bonds model which Mark said he used back in his college days, if I recall correctly.

Everything else fit in this box, which could probably hold four 800-count card boxes.

The book on top is the next one in my "to read" pile. 
 I've always been fascinated with the foreign professional leagues and I think this one will be a solid and enlightening read.

I'm not sure about the origins of this baseball, but it's pretty spiffy. At this point in time, it's being housed in my entertainment system with my bobblehead collection.

The blue box in the above picture is actually a box from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Pretty cool.
 Inside? Baseball cards!
 Elsewhere in the box I found these boxed sets, which were all new to my collection!
There were numerous baseball sticker albums in the box as well.

 I really enjoyed flipping through this magazine, below, from about eighteen years ago and reading about the all-time greatest players.  I wonder where Ichiro or Trout would fit into that list?
 Here's a two-pocket school folder of Eric Davis. I had one of these back in the day, but I don't remember the player.
 It's in pretty good condition and surprisingly enough there were some papers inside!
 Here's a closer look:
 All-Star ballots from five different years!  That's kind of random, but pretty neat to browse through!

There were three 800-count boxes of cards within the original big box. One of them contained a full set of 1986 Topps. Nice!
 The others contained a mix of cards.  I when I say "mix" I mean there was a little bit of everything!
 Tomorrow we'll show my favorite finds from Mark's gift.  We'll use the below picture as a little bit of a teaser. 😜
 Thanks for reading!  And, than you for all the fun baseball goodies, Mark!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Release the Vogelmonster!

I was at my grandfather's residence yesterday watching a little baseball and Jean Segura made another nice place and threw a short-hop over to the Mariners' first baseman Danny Valencia. I thought it was an easy pick, but somehow it caught the heal of Valencia's glove and the runner was safe.

"Vogelbach could have made that play." 

Yeah, that was the first thought in my head. Vogelbach has been playing first since high school, and honestly probably before that. He's not known for his range or footwork, but the dude can flat out pick it.  Danny Valencia? He's not a natural first baseman and is kind of learning the position on the fly in 2017.  For what it's worth, Valencia's current OPS of 0.764 is 19th out of 24 first base qualifiers in the MLB.

Then this popped up in my Twitter feed this morning:
Thanks Tony for the retweet, otherwise I never would have seen it.
 Yep. That's the same Mike Montgomery, a pitcher, who was traded to the Cubs for the Vogelmonster last July. Baseball is a funny game, but this is just not right!
 Vogelbach is hitting 0.368 over his last ten games for Tacoma (AAA) and according to his Topps Now card, he appears to have his bags packed and ready to go!

Release the Vogelmonster!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'll Buy That for a Dollar

Tom, from The Angels, In Order, is selling off part of his TTM autograph collection I couldn't pass up the opportunity to cherry pick some great cards for my collection... for a buck apiece! I bought nearly thirty and about half of those will find their way into trade packages at some point or another.

Read on to see what I'm keeping for myself.
 I bet you didn't know I collect cards of Gregg and Greg Olson.  Now I have some autos!
 Jamie Moyer's card, which is from the '88 traded set, might be from my most favorite Topps Traded set of all-time. Mark Grace's rookie was in there, the design is stellar, and I loved all of those USA cards.
 Steve Traschel was the slowest pitcher I've ever seen pitch.  Nope, that's not true. I just remembered Pedro Baez.  Sheesh.  Human rain delay.

Gary Varsho and Doug Dascenzo were in the fourth outfielder mold from my early days as a Cubs fan. I thought they made a nice pairing in this picture.
 I don't know if Jaun Pierre ever found a helmet that fit his head correctly. It looks three sizes too big!
 Jody Davis was a pretty underrated catcher, at least he is in my collection. This autograph helps correct that a bit.
 Ahhh, another card from the '88 Topps Traded set. Glorious!
 Believe it or not, I do have a Don Zimmer collection, which is now up to a half-dozen cards. 😀

I'm pretty familiar with Andre Dawson's signature.
 I like when he signs with a fine point sharpie because it looks so much better. He does have one of the best signatures out there. He takes his time and it looks sharp!

Kid K!
 I was super excited about adding this one to my collection!  Woo-Hoo!

And lastly, we have a note card with Andy Pafko's signature.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit I don't know much about Pafko's playing career, but I know the name and I couldn't pass it up.

Thanks for the sweet deal, Tom!

Oh, and if you haven't checked his blog out Tom's added some more cards for sale.  Click here.