Monday, November 25, 2019

1952 Topps, Eddie Robinson

#32 Eddie Robinson

A few months ago, I decided to start a new project. My leads on 1981 Donruss were drying up and I needed a new excuse to send out some TTMs. So, I came up with my Topps Prime Nine project. The goal of the project is to get nine cards from every Topps base set signed, starting with this one. I picked nine because there are nine slots in a sheet and all of these are going in their own album. It is like the history of Topps, but with autographs added.

With the exception of the early Topps sets, it was going to be an easy task to accomplish. But, I made one stipulation and that has proven to make the task much more difficult than I anticipated- a player can only appear in the album one time. So, while my log says that I have thirteen 1976 Topps cards signed, a few of those guys are Royals alums that I have many autographs from. Then I have to choose if I use that player for that set or if he is needed to fill up a page in another set. Because of that, some Royals greats are in my Prime Nine album in uniforms other than the Royals just so I can fill up a page. John Mayberry is a Blue Jay and Willie Wilson is a Cub. That isn't right, but that is the way it is for now.

Anyways, the Prime Nine album is why I got this card signed. Before I started it, I had just two 1952 Topps cards signed. I figured I had better start sending out some cards for this set because there are not too many guys from it still around. Eddie, for instance, turns ninety-nine in three weeks. I sent this card to him in September, along with ten bucks, and I had it back in eight days.

Eddie played in the Majors for parts of thirteen seasons with the Indians, Senators, White Sox, A's, Yankees, Tigers, and Orioles. He was a big first baseman that could really swing the stick. The .268 lifetime hitter had four straight seasons in the early '50s with 20 or more homers and three straight years of 100+ RBI. He made the All Star team in each of his 100 RBI campaigns as well as the 1949 season. Eddie's best year was with the Sox in 1951 when he hit .282 with 29 homers and 117 RBI. Besides the four All Star games, he also played in the World Series twice.

Follow me on Twitter to see all of the Prime Nine TTMs as they arrive in my mailbox. @zmills40

Sunday, November 24, 2019

1951 Topps, Wally Westlake

#27 Wally Westlake

Around the same time I decided that I needed a signed '51 Bowman for the collection, I also decided that I needed a signed '51 Topps. So, I found this card of Wally Westlake at a reasonable price and dropped it in the mail. The beautiful, small, squarish piece of cardboard made it back home one month later. Wally even included three signed postcards commemorating highlights of his career.

Wally played in the Majors for parts of ten seasons with the Pirates, Cardinals, Reds, Indians, Orioles, and Phillies. He came up with Pittsburgh in 1947 at the age of twenty-seven and would go five straight seasons of hitting double digit home runs, including a single season best of 24 with the 1950 squad. Over that time, he also had two 90+ RBI campaigns and topped out at 105 in 1949.

Then, in June of 1951, Wally got traded to the Cardinals. Despite making his first and only All Star team that season, that trade signaled the beginning of the end for Wally's career. In 1952, Wally got traded twice more and eventually ended up in Cleveland. He stuck around there for for two and half seasons, but only as a part time player. It was with the Indians in 1954 where Wally played in his lone World Series. He got into just two games and went 1-7.

In 1956, Wally played in five games for the Phillies and then called it a career. Like many young men of Wally's generation, he lost three years of playing time to the War. That obviously delayed his Major League debut, but he had a fine start just the same. Besides playing in an All Star game and a World Series, he also hit for the cycle twice and was the first white batter ever hit by a black pitcher. That last part felt really weird typing, but is a true statement.

As for 1951 Topps, the set was actually some type of game. It consists of just 52 cards, just like a card deck. You can tell on the top of this card that the card has some perforation to it, so I have no idea how these cards were distributed. But, I am willing to bet that they did not come with gum. That is just a guess, though.

Here are the postcards Wally sent me.

Wally passed away a little over two months ago.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

1951 Bowman, Carl Scheib

#83 Carl Scheib

Two years ago, I was looking through my signed cards and I realized that I did not have a signed 1951 Bowman. So, I purchased this card of Carl, mailed it to him the next day, and had it back signed the next week. Three months later, at the ripe ol' age of 91, Carl passed away.

Carl pitched in the Majors for parts of eleven seasons with the A's and Cardinals. He broke into the Majors at the age of sixteen in 1943 and hung in the game until 1954. Over that time, he went 45-65 with 17 saves and a 4.88 ERA. One of his best seasons was with Philadelphia in 1951. Though he finished the year with a 1-12 record, he posted a 4.47 ERA and had career highs in saves (10) and strikeouts (49).

One thing that strikes me when I look at Carl's stats is his strikeouts and walks. Carl was not a strikeout pitcher by any means. In '51 when he struck out 49, it took him 143 innings to reach that number. In fact, Carl was more likely to walk the batter than strike him out. He finished his career with 493 walks to only 290 strikeouts. That has got to be one of the worse K:BB ratios in the history of the game. In 1949, he walked 118 batters. Add in his 191 hits allowed in his 182.2 innings of work and you have a WHIP of 1.692, which was barely above his career average. It was a different game back then and probably better, too.

On the flip side, Carl was a decent hitter that hit .250 for his career. In 1948, he hit .298 in 104 at-bats with 21 RBI and 13 extra base hits. He hit so well that year that he got two starts in the outfield. Like I said, it was a different game back then.

And probably better, too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

2008 Upper Deck X, Jeremy Guthrie

#UDXM-JG Jeremy Guthrie

Remember this craptastic set? It was a one and done from Upper Deck and that was a good call by them. They seemed to be making a quite a few one and done sets around that time. It is kind of funny now because this set sort of reminds me of this year's Topps Fire set, which I have yet to buy any of.

This is the second card of Jeremy Guthrie that I have posted on here. But, since this is the only card from this set that I have signed, it gets its own post. And I am okay with that because it is a relic card and I like Guthrie. I posted his first card four years ago and it can be seen here.

J-Guts pitched for the O's for five seasons and had double digit wins in four of those seasons. Unfortunately, he also had double digit losses in each those four seasons and lead the league in losses twice, with 17 both times. So, he finished his stay in Baltimore with a 47-65 record with a 4.12 ERA and 602 strikeouts.

As much as I do not like this set, this card actually look really good signed. It looks slightly better than the '04 Topps Total card that I posted first and that is usually a great set for getting signed.

I got this card signed at Royals Fanfest in 2014.

It only took me eleven months to make it through the 265 cards from 2008 that I have signed. Considering that I only posted 154 times this year, I think I did alright. Now, it is time to hit the rewind button and start posting all of the older cards that I have got signed since then. It should go by fairly quickly until we get to '81 Donruss. Then, it might take me an entire year to get all of those cards posted. The next month, however, is going to be nothing but cards from the '50s. So, if you like vintage cards, keep checking back through Christmas.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Rest of Upper Deck USA

#USA-10 Jordy Mercer
#USA-PP Petey Paramore
#38 Eric Hosmer

For starters, these cards actually come from two different sets and one of them might be an insert set for the Upper Deck base set. But, who cares? They are all Team USA baseball from Upper Deck, so they are getting lumped together.

Jordy Mercer- A good friend of mine got this signed for me at a Wilmington Blue Rocks playoff game in 2009. I was 'graphing the home team and my buddy was nice enough to try the visiting side. It was an overcast day that day with off and on rain. I told him to not even bother trying to get autographs when it was sprinkling, but I think he was doing his best to get some cards signed for me that he went all in, rain or not. So, this one got hit with a couple of rain drops. Luckily the other one Jordy signed came out a little better.

Petey Paramore- I got this card signed at a Wingnuts game in 2013 while Petey was playing with the Kansas City T-Bones. I bought this card just to get it signed and it came out looking fantastic.

Eric Hosmer- Eric signed this card for me in 2009 in Burlington, Iowa. The Burlington Bees were a Royals affiliate at the time and I was able to get Eric to sign a couple of cards for me before the game I attended. That was the first time I ever got his signature.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

2008 Upper Deck USA, Pedro Alvarez

#USA-17 Pedro Alvarez

Here is a card that I got signed at the 2009 Future's Game in St. Louis. Pedro was on Team USA that day and I was lucky enough to get him to sign two cards prior to the game starting.

Pedro played in the Majors for nine seasons with the Pirates and Orioles. Over that time, he was a .236 hitter with 162 home runs and 472 RBI. His best season was with the Bucs in 2013 when he hit .233 and had career highs in homers (33) and RBI (100). That was also the only season that he ever made an All Star team.

It looks like Pedro's career might be over as he did not play in a game in the Majors or minors this past season.

Speaking of minors, Wichita finally named their new AAA team yesterday and it is probably the worst name in Minor League Baseball- the Wichita Wind Surge. How dumb is that? Anyways, I am still anxiously waiting to go to games at the new park and seeing some AAA ball on a regular basis. I doubt, however, that I will be wasting my money on any Wind Surge gear. Maybe I will just buy a Marlins hat or shirt. Or maybe I will just rock my Royals gear there all season long.

As for Pedro, he has a unique looking signature. It looks more like graffiti than a signed name to me.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Rest of 2008 Upper Deck Timelines

#85 Rico Washington
#95 Yaz Yabuta
#186 Chris Smith
#196 Joakim Soria
#328 Brandon Jones

This set was basically an Upper Deck version of Topps Archives. While some of the cards had their own borders made just for the set (see Washington and Yabuta), most of the cards were inspired by some Upper Deck cards that came out in the '90s.

Rico Washington- Rico signed this card for me at a Winguts game in 2010 while he was with the Kansas City T-Bones.

Yaz Yabuta- Yaz signed this card for me after a Royals game in 2009. He was in the parking lot and about to hop in his card before coming over and signing two cards for me.

Chris Smith- Chris spent a season playing for the Wingnuts in 2013, which is when he signed this card for me. When I last posted a card of Chris in 2015, he was pitching in the Padres system. The following year, he made it back to the Majors with the A's and pitched in 27 games with them between 2016 and 2017. He finished his career with a 1-4 record with a 5.41 ERA.

Joakim Soria- Joakim signed this card for me from the Royals parking lot in 2010. That was probably the last year that you could get a decent amount of autographs from the Royals lot.

Brandon Jones- I got this card signed by Brandon in 2014 at a Wingnuts game. He was playing for the Sioux Falls Canaries at the time.

Friday, November 1, 2019

2008 Upper Deck Timelines, Joey Votto

#119 Joey Votto

Back in the day, Joey Votto was a TTM machine. But, he stopped signing through the mail in 2012. Luckily I was able to get him when the getting was good in 2009. I sent this card to the Reds Spring Training facility and I had it back about three weeks later.

Joey had a rough season this year. But, he is still a .307 lifetime hitter. Even if the 2010 National League MVP has a repeat of 2019 in 2020, he still should reach some milestones. Right now he is just 16 home runs shy of 300 and 134 hits shy of 2,000. The 2,000 hit mark is going to be the easier of the two to reach since he hasn't hit 16 or more dingers in a season since 2017 when he smacked 36.

I really like the card that I picked out to get signed. Sure, he Allen & Ginter rookie card would have looked fantastic. But, I really love the nostalgia of this card with its 1992 feel.