Thursday, January 31, 2013

1978 Topps, Bill Atkinson

#43 Bill Atkinson

Here is one of the two '78 Topps cards that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. Coincidentally, it is also the third Expos pitcher that I unlocked in the event. This one features Bill Atkinson, who pitched for the Expos for parts of four seasons.

Bill was mostly used out of the bullpen in his short Major League career and he compiled an 11-4 record with 11 saves and a 3.42 ERA. His best season was in 1977 when he appeared in 55 games and posted a record of 7-2 with 7 saves and a 3.35 ERA. Bill was also a .300 hitter in his career, which isn't too shabby for a relief pitcher.

The one problem with getting Bill's autograph through the mail is that Bill lives in Canada. Luckily, I noticed a lot of successes with him on SCN as everyone just sends him a couple of bucks and Bill provides the return postage. I guess everyone must be overpaying him for the postage because it is common for Bill to include a signed postcard as well. Here is the one that I got.

I sent this card to Bill at the beginning of May last year and I got it back seventeen days later.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1977 Topps, Bill Stein

#334 Bill Stein

This is the last of the '77 Topps cards and, like the last one, it was a card that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. I sent this card, and another card, to Bill at the beginning of May last year and I had them both back in a mere five days. It was definitely one of my quickest returns over the past year.

Bill spent fourteen seasons in the Majors with the Cardinals, White Sox, Mariners, and Rangers. He was a utility player that played everywhere except for pitcher, catcher, and centerfield, getting most of his playing time at third base. He was a career .267 hitter that tallied 44 home runs and 311 RBI.

As witnessed by the horrible airbrushing on this card, Bill was an original Mariner and was taken with the fifth selection in the expansion draft. He saw the most playing time of his career in that inaugural season and, as a result, set many career highs that year including runs, RBI, doubles, triples, and home runs. He was the clubs primary third baseman that season and he had two two-home run games, as well.

Monday, January 28, 2013

1977 Topps, Rick Manning

#115 Rick Manning

This is another card that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. While I usually get the Giveaway cards signed through the mail, I actually tried to get this one signed in person last season. Rick works for the Indians as the color commentator for the TV telecasts. The Indians were in Kansas City last year for the Royals home opener, so I took this card with me to try to get signed. Unfortunately, I did not see Rick at all while the Tribe was taking batting practice, so I had to resort to sending it to him by mail. I sent the card out in the middle of July and I had it back eight days later.

Rick spent his thirteen year career with the Indians and Brewers. He made his Major League debut as a twenty-one year old and he won a Gold Glove as an outfielder the following season. For his career, he was a .257 hitter with 56 home runs and 458 RBI.

His best season was his Gold Glove season in 1976. That year, he had career highs in average (.292), hits (161), and runs (73).

In 1981, Rick caught the final out in Len Barker's perfect game.

You have got to love the old Indians all red uniform.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

1977 Topps, Bud Harrelson

#44 Bud Harrelson

I got this card from an unlikely place. It came out of a repack box. It wasn't even your standard repack box with a mixture of somewhat recent packs mixed in with junk wax. It was one of those lots of a hundred random cards that you can get at Target. It probably isn't technically a repack box, but I don't know what else to call it.

Anyway, I was visiting my dad one day over the summer and he was proud to announce to me that he had got me some cards. I was curious to see which Topps brand he had bought me and then was a little disappointed when I saw what he had actually bought. I gave him a hard time about knowing better than to buy those things, but he didn't care. He was bored. So I flipped through all of the cards and it was mainly standard junk stuff. But I did come across one 1981 Donruss card and this card.

I was a little surprised to find a card from the '70s in the lot. It is not in great shape, but who cares. I was fairly certain that Bud was a good TTM signer, so I grabbed this card and the '81 Donruss card and brought them home. The rest of the 98 cards were left at my dad's house.

I sent this card to Bud in early November and I had it back ten days later.

Bud spent sixteen seasons in the Majors. He was mostly a Met, though he did also play for the Phillies and Rangers at the end of his career. He was a light-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop that played in two All Star Games and won one Gold Glove Award. He hit .236 for his career and tallied 7 home runs, the first of which was of the inside-the-park variety at Forbes Field in 1967.

Has anyone found any 2013 Topps in their neck of the woods yet? I haven't been to a card shop, but the two Wal-Marts I have been to did not have any.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

1976 Topps, Don Carrithers

#312 Don Carrithers

This is the lone '76 Topps card that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. It feature Don Carrithers, a pitcher for the Expos. I sent this card to Don at the end of April last year and I got it back a month and a half later.

Don pitched in the Majors for seven seasons in the '70s. He spent time with the Giants, Expos, and Twins. He was mostly used in relief, but he did start over a third of the games he appeared in. For his career, Don was 28-32 with 3 saves and a 4.45 ERA.

Nothing in Don's year to year stats really stands out to me. The most wins he ever recorded in a season was six in 1976. But, that was also the same year that he took the most losses with twelve. About the only thing that really stands out is that in 1975, Don finished five of the fourteen games that he started, hurling two shutouts in the process. He also finished seventh in the league that season with seven hit batsmen.

Don pitched in one post-season game with the Giants in 1971 and did not fare so well. He faced three batters and all three got a hit and scored. So, Don's career post-season ERA in infinite.

Only one more day until 2013 Topps comes out. For once, I really like the look of the set and I am actually looking forward to ripping some packs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1976 SSPC, Cookie Rojas

#171 Cookie Rojas

Here is the fourth and final Cookie Rojas card that I got signed at All Star Fanfest this past summer.

This is the first and only card from the SSPC set that I have got signed. I had hoped to get a couple more signed at Royals Fanfest this past weekend, but I failed to get a single card from the '70s signed.

I really know nothing about the SSPC set. But, a quick search on Baseballcardpedia did teach me some things. Apparently, these cards were not distributed in packs. Team sets were supposed to be sold in stores and complete sets could be ordered from a magazine called Collector's Quarterly for $9.99.

SSPC stands for the Sports Stars Publishing Co. and they were distributed by TCMA, who is more famous for the minor league sets they were making at the time. The cards are unlicensed and none of the players signed any releases for their images.

Before too many of these cards could be sold, Topps stepped in and sued the company. As a result, SSPC had to cease making and selling the cards and whatever inventory was on hand had to be disposed of. Yet, many cards did hit the market and they can be picked up fairly cheaply.

According to Baseballcardpedia, Keith Olbermann did all of the write-ups on the back of the 630 card set.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

1975 Topps, Herb Washington

#407 Herb Washington

Here is the last of the '75 Topps that I have to show for now. I was hoping to get a couple of minis signed at Royals Fanfest yesterday, but that didn't pan out. I'll go into more detail about Fanfest at the end of the post.

This card is the only card ever made that lists the position as pinch runner. I have had this card in my collection for about four years and had been waiting to find a good address to send it to get signed. I bought this card at my local card shop and even the owner was unaware of the pinch runner designation. He apparently doesn't read card blogs.

I finally came across a good address in September and I sent it out. It came back signed in just nine days. It got a little mangled on its trip, but there is not much I can do about that now. I need to invest in some index cards, but I am either too cheap or lazy or both.

I could tell you more about this player or this card, but our good friend Night Owl has already done a sufficient job of that. Just check out this Cardboard Appreciation post on this card to learn more.

As for Royals Fanfest, it was another disappointing one. This year was supposed to be more geared for autographs because that was what the fans mainly went there for. To help that process, they were going to have continuous autograph signings. That would have been nice.

I appears that continuous means that players sign for thirty minutes and then take a thirty minute break. Rather than having the lines go non-stop with a regular changing of the people signing, each line was restricted to having 150 fans in it. If you didn't get in line in time, you then had to get in the line for the signing that starts an hour later. Early on, you could get through a line and then get in line for the next one right after that. But, during the peak hours, that was not possible and you ended up getting in a line where the signing was not going to start for almost two hours.

As a result, my family of four came home with about 35 signatures after standing in lines eight of the nine hours the gates were open. That may sound OK to some, but I got about 60 items signed at the first Royals Fanfest with just me and another person. For someone that just goes for the autographs, I was more than a little disappointing.

To make matters worse, they would text who would be signing at which stations about fifteen minutes before the signing started. The problem with them waiting so long was that all of the lines were full when that time came. If you got out of line to go to the one you wanted, you would just have to get in line for the next signing where you, of course, had no idea who would be signing there. Because of that, my girlfriend's son came home disappointed that he did not get to meet his favorite player, Bruce Chen.

I was hoping that the Royals were taking notes at All Star Fanfest this summer where all of the autograph lines went for a specified amount of time and not a set number of fans. They obviously were not and I may have attended my last Royals Fanfest.

The one bright spot to the day is that I came home with a game used Sean O'Sullivan and Irving Falu jersey for ten dollars each. I also got five All Star Game picture frames for a buck. If anyone needs one, let me know and I am sure we can work out a trade.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

1975 Topps, Dick Bosman

#354 Dick Bosman

This is another card that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. This one features pitcher, Dick Bosman, who played for the Senators/Rangers, Indians, and A's during his career. Like the rest of the Million Card Giveaway cards that I unlocked, this one was signed through the mail. I sent this card to Dick at the end of April last year and I got it back about a month and a half later. This was the last card to come back in the lot that I sent out and I had actually forgot about it until it found its way home.

Dick pitched in the Majors for eleven seasons. He was mainly used as a starter during his career, which finished with a record of 82-85 with a 3.67 ERA. His best season probably came with the Senators in 1969 when he went 12-5 with a 2.19 ERA.

Dick's claim to fame is that he threw a no-hitter with the Indians in 1974. Against the A's, he allowed no runs on no hits with no walks while striking out four. The only thing that prevented it from being a perfect game was the error that Dick committed on a throw to first in the fourth inning. But, I guess if you are going to lose a perfect game to an error, it is better to cause it yourself than have someone else screw it up for you.

Speaking of the Million Card Giveaway, has anyone heard if Topps is going to bring back something similar to that this year? Or are they going to stick with the boring thing they did last year?

Monday, January 14, 2013

1975 Topps, Ernie McAnally

#318 Ernie McAnally

Here is another card that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. This one features the former Expo, Ernie McAnally. I sent this card to Ernie at the end of April last year and I got it back about eight days later.

Enrie (whose nickname appears to be Chili Mac) pitched in the Majors for four seasons in the early '70s, all with Montreal. He was used mainly as a starter and his career record is 30-49 with a 4.03 ERA. His best season was probably his rookie campaign in 1971. That was the only season that he ever reached double digits in wins as he finished 11-12 with eight complete games and two shutouts.

Ernie was sold to the Indians early in the 1975 season and appeared in one AAA game for them. He surrendered seven earned runs in two innings of work and then called it a career.

I could sure go for a Coke right now.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

1975 Topps, Cookie Rojas

#169 Cookie Rojas

This is the third card that Cookie signed for me at All Star Game Fanfest this past summer. You can see the first card I posted here and the second one here.

Cookie managed the Angels in 1988. He led the team through 154 games to a 75-79 record before being replaced. He was included in the Topps Traded set that year, but I didn't realize that prior to Fanfest. So, I did not take the card with me to get signed.

Cookie also managed the Marlins for one game in 1996 as the interim manager. He won that game before the Marlins replaced him with John Boles.

Since leaving coaching after the 2002 season, Cookie has been employed by the Marlins as the teams color analyst for their Spanish-speaking TV broadcasts.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

1975 Topps, Jack McKeon

#72 Jack McKeon

In 2011, Jack McKeon got hired on as the Marlins interim manager. I sent three cards his way and he signed all three of them in three weeks time. Two of the three cards were team cards and I posted his 2004 Marlins team card a little over a year ago.

Here is his '75 Topps Royals team card. The one improvement over this card and the Marlins card is the inset photo of Jack and his name on the front of the card. This card was a no-brainer to send to him while the Marlins card took some deliberating.

I have had this card in my collection for quite some time. I picked it up in a trade as a kid for one reason. I figured that this card was the closest I was ever going to come to a George Brett rookie card, even though I am not even sure if George is in the picture or not.

It turns out that I was wrong as I did own a George Brett rookie for a bit. For Christmas last year, I bought my best friend a mini George Brett rookie card. George is still his favorite player and I got a good deal on the card from Check Out My Cards. I only had the card in my possession for a couple of weeks, but it was fun to have while it lasted. It was a hard gift to part with, but my friend really enjoyed it as he never knew about the mini set.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

1975 Topps, Al Fitzmorris

#24 Al Fitzmorris

Here is another in-person autograph that I was able to land last summer. I was at the Royals last game of the year 'graphing the Royals as they took batting practice. I just happened to look over into the Crown Suites section and Al Fitzmorris was standing there watching batting practice, as well. I was a little surprised and had to ask the guy beside me if that was Al. He confirmed that it was him and started digging in his bag for his cards. I, of course, didn't have any cards of Al with me since I didn't plan on him being there. So, I asked the guy beside me if he had any extras. He pulled out the '75 Topps seen above and I bought it from him for a dollar.

Then we had to figure out how to get our cards signed since we did not want to loose our prime spot by the dugout. Luckily, the guy beside me had a buddy down closer to the Crown Suite section, so we passed our cards down to him and he got them both signed for us.

Al pitched in the Majors for ten seasons, spending the majority of them with the Royals. He started just over half of the games he appeared in and he finished his career 77-59 with 7 saves and a 3.65 ERA. His best season came in 1976 when he finished the season 15-11 with a 3.06 ERA and a career-best 80 strikeouts.

Al also pitched with the Indians and Angels towards the end of his career.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

1974 Topps,. Larry Gura

#616 Larry Gura

This is a card that I unlocked in the original Topps Million Card Giveaway from a few years back. Around the time that I got this card, Larry started to sign through the mail for a small fee of two dollars per card. So, I sent him this card and his '81 Donruss card and they both got returned to sender. I thought that was strange as Larry was singing for other people during that time from the same address. I decided to try my luck again and I sent the cards off another time with "DONATION ENCLOSED" written on the envelope. But, it again came home return to sender.

After waiting a while, I finally noticed that Larry was signing from a P.O. Box address. I sent the cards to him a third time and I finally got them back signed. But, the return envelope got mangled by the USPS and both cards came back with multiple creases. If only my first or second attempt did not get returned to sender.

Larry pitched for the Cubs for the first four years of his career. He mainly pitched out of the pen and he was 3-7 with 2 saves and a 4.42 ERA. He was then traded to the Yankees and he pitched mostly as a starter for them for two seasons, going 12-9 with a 3.25 ERA. He was then traded to the Royals and that is when he career really started to take off.