Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Folder of Fun: Page 10

The Folder of Fun, as I like to call it, has been in the works for about three years. That's about the time I stopped buying retail and hobby packs and began tracking down cards which fit a certain general description: FUN.  Here's a link to the first post in this series if you'd like to go back and catch up. 

Page 10 seems like as good a place as any to discuss the big news in the baseball world today, which is the official cancelling of the Minor League Baseball season. 
The writing was on the wall, and has been for a couple of months, but that doesn't make it sting any less. Last summer was my first working with a minor league baseball team and I was very much looking forward to year number two. 

As much as I enjoyed getting paid to go to a professional ballpark, I think I still enjoy being a paying fan more. There's just something about sitting in the stands, relaxing, and taking in all the sights and sounds.

All of the aforementioned brings us to Page 10 of the Folder of Fun.

These eight cards are from the 2013 Panini Triple Play set. It's not a great set by anyone's standards, but the price point and overall concept were both kid friendly, which I think we could use more of in this hobby of ours.

No commentary here. I'll let the cards speak for themselves.

My Folder of Fun is my way of documenting my favorite game and what makes it so great in my eyes. I think these cards do a fine job when viewed threw this lens.

The next few pages are within the same mold: sights, sounds, smells and traditions. Hopefully we'll all be able to experience them first hand at local ballpark in 2021!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Negro Leagues Legends - Baseball Card Set

I, like CommishBob, received my 2020 Negro Leagues Legends 184 card set, produced by Dreams Fulfilled, yesterday in the mail. The Five Tool Collector details the set wonderfully, but I'll also take a crack at it.

I originally saw this set advertised on Twitter and I zipped right on over to NegroLeaguesHistory.com to pick up a copy. I've been to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City a couple of times, and both times I looked for a Negro Leagues set. I am really pleased a true card set has been released recognizing the tremendous athletes who helped pave the way for baseball to be an inclusive sport.

When building my Hall of Fame binder, which contains one card of every Hall of Fame player, I truly struggled to track down a card for each ballplayer. Sometimes it was because the individual played in the 1800's, but more often than not it was of player who called the Negro Leagues home. I had to ask Gavin to help fill some of the holes by sending me a copy of his "Neglected Hall of Famers" custom set. For the record, Gavin's cards will stay in my HOF binder, because I'm also going to place this beautiful set into a binder as well.

Alright, let's show off the set! It's a boxed set, much like the Topps traded sets of the 1980's.

So much goodness crammed into one small little box.

There were a couple of advertisements used to bookend the cards. I figured I would show this one if anyone is interested in picking up a set or other items.

Here's an insert card giving a synopsis of how the card set came to be.
 For the record, the first thing I noticed about the cards was the artwork of Graig Kreindler. He must have had access to some of the better photos of the era, because some of the cards in my HOF Binder barely allows one to make out the players' faces.
Kreindler is obviously a very accomplished artist, as you will soon see, and the detail of each picture is phenomenal, particularly the uniforms and landscapes behind the players.

The checklist for this set can be found on Beckett's website and you might notice some players are given multiple cards. As this set serves as a comprehensive history of the Negro Leagues I'm okay with multiple cards of certain players.

Buck O'Neil, for instance, has three cards in the set, although I only photographed two of them.
 One of my more treasured bobbleheads is of Buck O'Neil, which I highlighted when I did my bobblehead countdown eight years ago, so he gets the honor of being the first cards shown in the post!
 The backs of the cards have the typical biographical information at the top and the rest of the space is crammed with facts and stats. Statistical lines from the Negro Leagues are largely incomplete, so I think the biographical write-ups were an excellent way to go.

The design of the card is nothing special. In most cases, the left border is colored to match the uniform of the player. Position and team information is not given on the front, which lends itself to a certain simplicity while allowing the artwork to really shine.
Just in case you needed reminding: Fleetwood Walker was the first African American to play in the Major Leagues.

We're going to go picture heavy from here on out, so buckle in!

Here are cards of the Jackie Robinson (NL) and Larry Doby (AL), the two players most noted for breaking down the color barrier.

Look how young Hank Aaron is!

I didn't realize until reading CommishBob's post, but this is actually Luis Tiant, Sr.  His son is the player I'm familiar with, who played from 1964-1982.

Elston Howard and Monte Irvin are couple of more names that stuck out to me.
The old style chairs behind Monte Irvin might be my favorite backdrop of all the cards included. 

Many of the players I showed above got their start in the Negro Leagues, but here are couple of the more notable stars who often get forgotten about: Cool Papa Bell and Buck Leonard.

Just taking a cursory flip through the cards I was able to pull many players who have been enshrined in Cooperstown:
I may have missed a few!

I've only had set the out of the box for a couple of hours, but here are the early returns on my favorite two cards.
Josh Gibson, known as being one of the more powerful bats to ever play the game, looks to be built like a linebacker. Satchel Paige's smile seems to say, "I can strike you out anytime and anyplace."

Overall, I'm very pleased with this set and so happy I was able to add it to my collection. If you'd like to add one to your collection here's the link to the website.

I can't wait to get these cards into pages and then really dive into the artwork and the player biographies.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Folder of Fun: Page 9

The Folder of Fun, as I like to call it, has been in the works for about three years. That's about the time I stopped buying retail and hobby packs and began tracking down cards which fit a certain general description: FUN.  Here's a link to the first post in this series if you'd like to go back and catch up. 

Page 9 seems to feature a bunch of pairs. Two cards of Braves from early 80's Fleer, a pair of cards with guys jumping on them and a duo showing off over-sized sporting equipment. Enjoy!

1996 Topps, #136 - Hideo Nomo
I'm not sure how "fun" this card is, but it is awesome. Baseball players signing autographs is just plain terrific, but when it's The Tornado and the card has a rookie cup it easily rates as a 12 out of 10. Just saying'.

2017 Topps Stadium Club, #104 - Ryon Healy
I wonder how many headsets and mics a TV crew will go through during a typical baseball season.

1984 Fleer, #182 - Glenn Hubbard
What's better? The big snake, Hubbard's facial hair, the powder blue uniform or The Phanatic photo-bombing the shot before photo-bombing was a thing?

1992 Upper Deck, #780 - Turk Wendell
The back of this card must be included.
Upper Deck failed to mention Wendell brushed his teeth between innings because he didn't like the taste of black licorice. He only chewed the licorice because he thought pitchers who chewed tobacco were intimidating, and black licorice was a decent substitute for chewing tobacco.

2018 Topps Stadium Club, #187 - Dustin Pedroia
Lots of autographs on that glove!

1993 Topps, #200 - Kirby Puckett
I'm sure pitchers felt like Kirby Puckett's bat was actually that big.

1999 Topps, #274 - Brian Hunter
This is just a another great card. The dirty knee makes the card for me.

1983 Fleer, #141 - Rick Mahler
To my knowledge, this is the only card of a player signing baseballs in the clubhouse. Also, he's wearing #42!

1991 Upper Deck, #258 - Jose Lind
The front of the card is okay. The back is where it's at!
That's Mike LaValliere on the back. You earn three bonus points if you can give LaValliere's nickname without looking it up! Oh, and yes, this is an example of the information which rattles around inside my head. (*Bonus points have not monetary or baseball card value.)

I'm working on another 9-card page of fun baseball photos, but I only have a few so far and I'd prefer to post a full page of cards. For those of you who are curious I have Jose Canseco pumping iron, Bip in a sombrero and Nick Hundley post pie-in-the-face.

The next post will venture into a different section of the Folder of Fun. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

2020 Topps Big League: A Quick Review

The last modern day set I chose to build from packs was the inaugural issue of Topps Big League in 2018. I didn't care of the design of the 2019 set nearly as much, but it still had the fun factoids on the back that attracted me to the brand in the first place. I eventually purchased a hand collated 2019 complete set and am currently working on the insert sets.

The 2020 design has a retro feel to it and I'm digging it big time.
I found some at the first Target I visited while at my in-laws, but all of the blasters had the same cut-out card on the side of the box so I only picked up one. I did grab two hanger packs though. Since then I have been to another Target and two Wal-Marts and haven't been able to find any retail Big League. In fact, outside of a half dozen 2020 Topps Series 1 packs in a lonely gravity feed box, I haven't seen any 2020 packs in the wild locally. (There are plenty of individuals on Ebay trying to flip retail for a quick profit. Sigh.)

I'd like to build this set and take my time doing it. The backs are so much fun to read! My local card shop has hobby boxes for $40, but I can pick them up online, with free shipping, for $33. I'd like to get a couple of hobby boxes to bust. What would you do? Support local business or save $14 buy purchasing online?

My first card from a 2020 pack this year is Freddie Freeman. That's a win in my book!
The design is just great. What I notice first is the clean white border and boy do I miss those in Topps flagship. 
Secondly, the rounded edges of the border were a good choice and the colors of the border, like the backs, are team-centric colors.
The backs. I could talk about he backs forever. The numbers are easy to read and you have all the normal biographical information. In addition, there are some statistical based facts above the player stat lines. My only complaint involves the lack of complete statistics, but that can be excused because there's only so much room on a card back.
The "Did You Know?" section is my favorite. I knew about Freeman's exchange with a kid dressed as him for Halloween, but I didn't know about how Didi taught himself piano. I just eat this stuff up.

Photoshop is alive and present in Big League. The Gregorius card is exhibit A and I found four more cards of players in new uniforms. Hmmm... Maybe the Gerritt Cole is from spring training?
The Schoop card is one of the three orange parallels I received in the hanger pack.

I believe this is my first rookie card of Yordan Alvarez. It's not a crazy parallel/auto/relic, but it's a great photo and I happy to add it to my collection.

The Polar Bear! The framing on this card is well done.

Here's my second orange parallel, and this time it's of one of the bigger rookies. The pre-celebration picture is most excellent!

Award Winners are present is this year's set again. Here's Christian Yelich receiving the Hank Aaron Award.

The yellow isn't that difficult to read on the card in hand, it's challenging here because of the setting I used on my phone scanner. Sorry about that!

I really enjoy the league leaders cards. Some collectors don't like multiple players on a card, but I'll take them all day. More to look at and digest!

I really like the backs of these. Again, nice design and some more statistical facts to read if interested.

My lone highlight card in the pack was of Mike Fiers.
"Fiers Fires"... Some headlines just write themselves! Side note: I didn't know Fiers had two no-hitters to his credit.

Defenisve Wizards is one of the main inserts sets to chase. I think the idea is great, but it's hard to execute an exceptional defensive play on a card. Often, it takes a video highlight to get the full scope of the play and one snapshot in time hardly does a entire play justice.
Matt Chapman may be the best defensive third basemen in either league, so it's hard to argue with his inclusion.

Superstar Caricatures make an appearance for the third consecutive year. Lots of color on this card!

Flipping out is a new insert and, much like a defensive play, it's hard to capture a bat flip with one still frame.
Casual bat flip? Huh, I need to find a video of a Kepler homer to see what that looks like.

Only second to the "Did You Know?" factoid as my favorite is the photography in this set.
The landscape choice here is interesting, but I feel it adds depth to the photo and helps demonstrate how far Acuña went for that ball.

The only thing that could make this card better was if the catcher and/or umpire was in the scene.

My favorite card of this pack was Robinson Cano. This is the last orange parallel and it goes so well with the Mets colors. Plus, again, a wonderful choice going with the landscape orientation and the framing of the card is perfect. Just a great looking card!

So, yeah, I'm working on building 2020 Big League. If you are too, the please leave a comment to let me know and maybe we can help each other out down the road.