Saturday, April 29, 2017

Completely Arbitrary Anniversaries

This is my 537th post on the ol' Arbitrary, so how about a completely arbitrary anniversary?

I've been sorting through Twins, and today I was able to list all of my Kent Hrbek cards - I have 122 unique cards of Hrbie, and a fairly big stack of doubles to get with it. One of his cards mentioned that he was the all-time leader in MLB history for home runs indoors. It was most likely true in the early 90s, but he was passed at some point by Ken Griffey, Jr., who I think is the current leader in that department. I looked up a few other possible candidates for that title like David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, and Evan Longoria. Hrbek's 166 indoor homers surpasses them all! What a weird stat, though Hrbek playing his entire career in the Metrodome is a good reason why. Longoria has 133, ARod has 151, Thome only has 56 dome dingers...


Today is Ed Charles' birthday - not really an arbitrary anniversary for him! He is the Kansas City Athletics' all-time leader in games played and total bases, which is both a fairly random stat, and a testament to the consistent contributions he made on the field for some pretty bad teams in the early to mid 60s. Charles also played for the 1969 Miracle Mets and had key hits for the Mets in Game 2 of that series, as well as fielding a grounder that became the final out to even the Series at a game apiece.

 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day Eleven - 1978 Topps Eddie Murray #36

Day 11: A Favorite Card From the 1970s

Taking the lead from Tony at Off-Hiatus Baseball Cards this will be the eleventh of 30 posts, using the prompts provided. I won't necessarily post one every day, but I will do one for each card, toss in a few "insights" (as insightful as I can be, anyway), and usually include an honorable mention or two, just because I'm like that.

Here's my pick - It was coming down to Murray or another Topps All-Star Rookie, 1971 Topps Thurman Munson. I looked at this card and thought... "Do I want to be the one to tell Eddie I picked Munson's card instead?" The answer was no, I did not. This was one of the few cards that survived from my first round of collecting. I bought it at Shinders (a local card shop / newsstand) very late in my youth, if that makes sense. It was a rare occasion that I spent money on a single card instead of a set or a pack of new cards. But Eddie had just recently reached 3,000 hits and I was in the market for something special for one of my favorite players.
Since these are basically one card posts, why not show the backs, too? Man, that is an impressive rookie campaign! I had forgotten about his brother Rich, but he has a couple cards as well. One of the more impressive things about Steady Eddie is that his rookie season was pretty much exactly the numbers you could pencil in for him for the next 15-20 years.

Here are some honorable mentions:
I already mentioned the 1971 Thurman Munson card, so I'll show some different ones here. Killebrew is fresh off his MVP season, and looks every bit of a Hall of Famer here. The 1970 set is starting to grow on me a bit, more than any other Topps set in the 70s, the photo is the focus. Of course, The Billy Cowan Halo card is a favorite. The Topps photographer had a stroke of genius setting this one up. Juan Marichal's final Topps card as a player is my favorite card featuring the Hall of Fame Hurler. It captures his unique delivery in the way that few cards had attempted before. Herb Washington's card is a little gimmicky, but that doesn't bother me. I should also mention that one of my favorite sets of the decade isn't from Topps, it's the 1976 SSPC set. I guess the SSPC sets and TCMA sets could be called oddball sets, but the often high quality photos (usually with no text on the front) and detailed copy on the backs really stand out.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day Ten - 1965 Topps Tony Oliva #340

Day 10: A Favorite Card From the 1960s

Taking the lead from Tony at Off-Hiatus Baseball Cards this will be the tenth of 30 posts, using the prompts provided. I won't necessarily post one every day, but I will do one for each card, toss in a few "insights" (as insightful as I can be, anyway), and usually include an honorable mention or two, just because I'm like that.

Here's my pick - I thought picking just one card from the 1950s would be difficult, the 60s was also tricky. Tony O's first solo card of his career came on the heels of winning the A.L. Batting Title and being named rookie of the year. The 1965 set is my favorite design of the decade - I completed the O-Pee-Chee set, as well as the Heritage sets in 2014 that used the same look. This card in particular may be the one that pushed me over the edge to get all the Topps All-Star Rookie cards.
Since these are basically one card posts, why not show the backs, too? Pretty impressive that winning the batting title and hitting .323 actually lowered Oliva's career average. If not for bad knees and a balky back, Tony O would be in Cooperstown already.

Oh so many honorable mentions!
Horizontal sets came back in 1960, then disappeared again. But Topps continued to churn out some great horizontal cardboard. Ryne Duren has a few awesome cards, where he's rocking shades in both the main photo and the inset. The triptychs in the 1962 set like the Killebrew above make for a very nice 10 card subset. The World Series sets are a personal favorite, and "SEALING YANKS' DOOM" will always get my attention.
I ranked the 50s, so let's do something similar for the 60s. 65 is my favorite, then 61, 64, 60, and 63. The rest are kind of bunched at the bottom of the list, but I think I just need to see some more from 62 to decide for sure. 67, 68 and 69 have some great cards, but lots of bad ones. All the hatless players make sad.
The 1960 managers were a hint of things to come in 1965, Wes Covington's 1961 card is the '57 Valo of the 1960s, The Topps All-Star Rookie set looms large in 60s, even though Topps seemingly messed it up every year by missing one or more of the award winners... And Dave Ricketts was the most athletic hipster until James Harden.

I know I am only supposed to pick one card, so officially the answer is Tony O, but these are all winners in my book.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day Nine - 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30

Day 9: A Favorite Card From the 1950s

Taking the lead from Tony at Off-Hiatus Baseball Cards this will be the ninth of 30 posts, using the prompts provided. I won't necessarily post one every day, but I will do one for each card, toss in a few "insights" (as insightful as I can be, anyway), and usually include an honorable mention or two, just because I'm like that.

Here's my pick - and let me tell you, this was an easy choice, but also a very difficult choice. There are so many great cards from the 1950s; classics and icons and hidden gems literally of all shapes and sizes. The 1956 set is definitely my favorite set of the decade, and this card in particular is stellar. This is my favorite Jackie Robinson card, so it was an easy choice for this challenge.
Since these are basically one card posts, why not show the backs, too? A Dodger Immortal, indeed. This was his final Topps card from his playing career, but it doesn't show his full stat line. He retired when the Dodgers traded him to the Giants before the start of the 1957 season. Since his retirement came in December of 1956, it was early enough that Topps hadn't printed any cards of him for the 1957 set. I think I've seen a few customs out there using the 1957 design.

Here are some honorable mentions:
Yikes, where to begin? A quick and dirty ranking of the 50s Topps sets for me would be 56, 57, 59, 52, 54, 55, 53, 58. 51 gets an incomplete. I could probably make a case for any card from 1956 as an honorable mention, but I threw out a couple great defensive plays to counter Jackie's play at the plate. The 1952 set in my opinion is saved by the horizontal cards. Most of the vertical cards are very similar (not quite Donruss level boring), but the horizontal cards feel like carefully planned works of art. Vern Law's card makes him look like a giant. I had to include the Killebrew card as a shameless homer pick.


I think the 1957 set is the Stadium Club of the 50s. Yes, there's a border, but no other set from the 50s gives you more of the ballpark, or a bigger image. There are coloration issues, but I have to highlight the set in a post about favorites of the 1950s. The main reason that Elmer Valo isn't up there as the #1 pick is that I feel like a broken record about the greatness of his 1957 Topps card. Jackie is there because I love the card, and I haven't talked it to death. Bowman doesn't get as much love in this post, but a couple favorites might be the 1955 Eddie Waitkus card, the 1955 Aaron and Minoso cards are great as well. I have been focusing on Topps to this point, I should spend some time once I finish the 56 Topps set to stock up on Bowman.

I also want to point out that I am a little jealous of the Pirates - they've got so many great cards in the 1950s!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day Eight - 1954 Topps Angel Scull #204

Day 8: A Card That Reminds You of a Family Member

Taking the lead from Tony at Off-Hiatus Baseball Cards this will be the eighth of 30 posts, using the prompts provided. I won't necessarily post one every day, but I will do one for each card, toss in a few "insights" (as insightful as I can be, anyway), and usually include an honorable mention or two, just because I'm like that.

Here's my pick - I shared a post about this card (well, the back of this card) in my first month of blogging. This was actually my first vintage card ever, and it was given to me by my brother. He used to work at a card shop / magazine / newsstand called Shinders in Minneapolis when I was a kid, and he'd often bring things home, either to share with me or rub in my face. He had a copy of his own, and he gave me this one for my birthday right around the time I stopped collecting the first time. I didn't appreciate it then as much as I do now.


Since these are basically one card posts, why not show the backs, too? I will say that our affinity for this card is due in no small part to the unintended comedy of "Angel, a Cuban speed merchant," as a teenager that was especially funny to me. "Possessed of a powerful arm," was also a fantastic phrase. I've built up a decent vintage collection over the last few years, and this card was the foundation. 

Some Honorable Mentions:

Pretty much any 1987 Topps card would work, these remind me of my cousins in Ohio - my first ever trade was with some of these cards. Their Twins for my Reds! Tom Pagnozzi reminds me of my other cousin in Minnesota, I distinctly recall opening packs of 1992 Pinnacle and he pulled a Tom Pagnozzi. I may have confused Pagnozzi with Todd Zeile- I remember being jealous that my cousin found such an awesome card, which in hindsight was not quite so awesome. In 1989, my brother brought home a box of Donruss from his store for Christmas. No Ken Griffey, Jr. but there were plenty of Mark McLemores and Dante Bichettes. Finally, any vintage Reds remind me of my dad, even though he says he didn't collect cards as a kid - 1950s Topps would have been the cards that would have been around those days.