2012 Flagship: A Change of Heart

Well, by pure happenstance, I found myself tonight with a hangar box of the much talked about 2012 flagship. A friend thanked me for a favor. It was a very, very nice gesture. Yes, recently I wrote all about my plans to not buy any 2012 flagship but after poring over the latest release I can tell you that...

...I'm still not buying it. (Yeah, not really a change of heart. I'm such a tease.)

It just doesn't speak to me much. It seems like a middling art student came up with the design. It's just not impressive, particularly when compared to 2011 flagship's design, which I consider somewhat sleek and sophisticated.

One particular sore point for me this year is the absence of each player's position on the front of the card. That's always irked me.

I'm also meh on the mini '87s. I didn't collect this set so there's no emotional tie for me.

Finally, no legend short prints - a gimmick in recent flagship releases but one I definitely got behind. The legends are being replaced as short prints by photos of dugout tomfoolery, mascots and what not.

So, I won't be collecting the set - other than the upcoming breaks I couldn't stop myself from joining. But to each his own and I credit those of you who are going all-in. New releases are a blast. It just so happens I can't get behind this one.

I don't want to be entirely negative so allow me to state some positives. The photography seems pretty strong. I just might dig the Gold Standard inserts. And maybe the Gold Futures. But then again I might be thinking about it only because of the cards I pulled.

Yep, two Cubs (the third team I softly collect behind my beloved Reds and Tigers) and not just two Cubs but two Cubs I specifically collect.

What follows are the remaining cards I pulled. All of these scans, accept for the last couple as noted, show cards that are available for trade. I'm seeking all forms of Reds and Tigers and some Cubs and any players I collect - as noted on the front of my blog.

A Nyjer Morgan hot box! If you want the gold, I'd love one back or an insert of a player or team I collect, perhaps.

I'm sort of a bigger fan of the next batch due to players featured or uniqueness. Same for same would be ideal.
 I'm a huge fan of the next batch of cards. I don't really want to deal these but, well never say never.

And, finally, the only base cards I pulled of the three teams I collect.
If you want to strike a deal, let me know.

Not About 2012 Topps Or Squirrels

With one day left to vote in the Fun-Time Baseball Hall's Angels edition, I don't want to give too much away but, well, suffice to say that this guy is going to be a first-ballot inductee.
But who else? Vladimir Guerrero? No, he doesn't qualify per rules until next year. Mike Trout? Slow down, prospector. Tom Seaver? Um, no, never an Angel. Michael Landon? Could be.

If you haven't voted, I'd love to have you join the fun. Take a gander at the earlier write-up and then check out the poll at the top of the page.

Next up for the Fun-Time Baseball Hall: The Houston Colt .45s/Astros. Nominees are still being accepted in the comments of this post.


Trade Post and Home Stretch For Chrome

Just two posts ago I reflected on my first year as a card blogger and how I handled my collecting during that year - which officially ends in February. While I'm not giving up entirely on the new (I still get a kick out of opening packs and I want to collect Heritage 2012) I talked about my shift to vintage after going hog wild on new in 2011.

Topps Chrome is one of the new releases I enjoyed a lot in 2011. I originally began the set by chasing favorite players and players on favorite teams, but eventually I found that I was well on my way to collecting this set - especially since I'm not worries about completing all of the various parallels.

My goal was to complete the base set and pick up the parallels of my favorite players.

Reader Brad, currently residing in my old Northside Chicago stomping grounds, just helped me significantly with this quest. His generosity in our newly completed trade also has me adding another mini-goal to this set: Complete the Vintage Chrome insert collection.

In full, Brad sent me more than five dozen Topps Chrome cards, including a nice stack of the Vintage Chrome.  I'm not going to show any specific VC cards that Brad sent, rather I'll show three dupes that I've had for trade.

Below is my full list of wants and cards available for trade. Let me know if you see a match. Also, if you missed my A&G post from last week and need or have available various cards from the set, take a look. Finally, send me a note if you need some 2011 Lineage. I need to update that list today or tomorrow but I have some cards (and need a few).

Thanks again, Brad, for all of the help!

Now, my Topps Chrome 2011 needs/available list.

Base Cards Needed 

58, 100, 108, 112, 122, 128, 146, 149, 161, 173, 174, 176, 190, 191, 199, 220

Base Cards Available
2, 10, 12, 16, 19, 21, 21, 23, 30, 36, 37, 39, 39, 40, 40, 43, 44, 45, 50, 53, 56, 64, 69, 85, 93, 94, 97, 113, 113, 123, 123, 130, 134, 135, 136, 138, 143, 147, 147, 155, 155, 155, 167, 167, 168, 182, 184, 196, 197, 212

Refractors Needed
Reds, Tigers, Starlin Castro, Prince Fielder, Lance Berkman, Eric Hosmer, Jeremy Hellickson

Refractors Available
15, 42, 43, 45, 103, 125, 146, 172, 187, 194, 199

Atomic Refractors Needed
Reds, Tigers, Starlin Castro, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, Eric Hosmer, Jeremy Hellickson

Atomic Refractors Available 
79, 119, 131, 144, 165, 215

Purple Refractors Needed
Reds, Tigers, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, Eric Hosmer, Felix Hernandez, Jeremy Hellickson

Purple Refractors Available
45, 117

Orange Refractors Needed
Reds, Tigers, Starlin Castro, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, Eric Hosmer, Jeremy Hellicksson

Orange Refractors Available
18, 27, 32, 36, 42, 45, 52, 57, 58, 84, 113, 123, 134, 136, 142, 147, 148, 152, 161, 165, 166, 177, 180

Vintage Chrome Needed
VC2-VC8, VC10, VC13, VC16, VC19-21, VC26, VC30-31, VC33, VC36, VC38, VC42-44, VC46-47, VC50

Vintage Chrome Available
VC14, VC17, VC25, VC34, VC49
Reader Brad of Chicago sent me this lovely purple refractor of my favorite Cub. Love it!


Nominate Your Astros: The Fun-Time Baseball Hall

First, just 2.5 days left to vote for Angels in The Fun-Time Baseball Hall. This franchise has a much shorter history, of course, than our first team featured (Detroit Tigers) and thus per rules just four will become first-ballot inductees.

Click here for the write-up on the Angels. Then please vote in the poll. Check out Fun-Time Baseball Hall tab on the front page, then scroll down, for some history on the Hall, including rules.

And with that, it's time to start nominating past members of the Astros franchise. In the comments, please provide a few names of players from that franchise's past that you think should be put up on the first-year ballot.

Reminder about the Hall: I'm looking for players who surely would make an All-Star squad for the franchise in question or strong players who spent many years with the franchise (and thus have the counting stats) or even players who didn't spend many years but made a lasting impact with the team (perhaps in a relative short period). It's your call who you nominate and, later, how you vote.

Will this '70s Houston star make the list? Yes, my sources say.



Potch Wheeler Turns One

Back in my card-collecting prime of 1978 to 1983, pre-teen me of course never imagined the cards in my hands would be some of the same cards 43-year-old me would be writing about on a blog well into the 21st Century.

We didn't know a "blog" from a cog or an "internet" from a hairnet. We only knew that by 2012 we'd be getting around in flying cars and have robots cleaning our homes. Baseball cards, of course, would be holograms that could talk with you, answer baseball questions and teach you how to drop the perfect bunt or throw a devastating curve ball.

I'm glad I rediscovered baseball cards. I'm glad I rekindled the passion. I don't know if I'll eventually burn out on the blog and wander off into the ether, but I'm pretty sure that baseball cards will always be a part of my life. Going forward, I see myself building my pre-76 "vintage" collection, which is anemic right now, and completing the sets I collected as a youngster ('76-'83) and surely chasing the yearly Heritage offering.

February will mark my first anniversary of coming back to the hobby. Last year I sampled (sometimes heavily) everything released. I enjoyed it, mostly, but I plan to stay focused going forward. My random spending has left me with some great cards I certainly want - but an awful lot of trade bait too.

I won't collect the 2012 base set, but I did sign up for a couple of breaks just to get ahead on my favorite teams and maybe get a little bit of trade bait. I do plan to buy Heritage in March and April while it's still around.

I really don't plan to buy much else but I'm sure the lure of opening packs means I'll be picking up some here and there. I'll also admit that I'm concerned Gypsy Queen will hook me - but I'm going to do my best to resist.

As for the blog, I have a couple of periodic series: Hoosiers on Cardboard and, my pet project, the Fun-Time Baseball Hall. "Hoosiers" is a nice way for me to acquaint myself over time with players from my home state. The Fun-Time Hall is my way of getting closer to the game's history by examining the best players from each franchise. You've already helped me induct the first-year Tigers and now we're wrapping up voting for the Angels.

In February, as my way of celebrating a year with the blog, I'm going to debut "Cardboard Heroes" - a series with brief write-ups on the favorite cards in my collection. Many of you have done this, of course, so this isn't breaking new ground.

But, I like to think that keeping a record will be nice to refer to over time and, frankly, will be a good way for my young daughter - who looks to be the eventual owner of my favorite cards - to know precisely which cards meant the most to me - and why. I'll even indulge the thought that a future grandchild of mine will inherit my old favorite cards and get to know a bit about why I held them dear.
Will this card make the list? It's a fair Gamble. (Well, actually, it's a sweet Gamble.)
This one seems to be on many such lists. I love mine but I'm willing to, ahem, bet it won't make the Heroes list.
These cardboard heroes (and the phrase has always meant as tongue in cheek as I only have a few true heroes and I know them all quite well) won't necessarily be cards that are the most valuable dollar-wise (although a few might be); but they'll be the cards most valuable to me.

They likely will be pulled heavily from my prime collecting years as so many of those cards take me back to a very innocent time in my life, but I expect there also will be some pulled from cards I've chased down this year - including vintage acquisitions.

I'm a list kind of guy so eventually I'll surely select a top 100 or top 111 or top 726 - who knows. I'm a bit of an oddball, so we'll see where I go with that.

Whatever happens here on the blog, it's been a fun first year. Trading with literally dozens of fellow bloggers and readers has been an amazing way to build and improve and winnow my collection.

Of course reading the great blogs out there also has been phenomenal. I've learned a lot about the hobby from these fine blogs and not just from the blogs widely considered to be the best around.

Everyone seems to have their place, their unique perspective. It's been a blast discovering my own private cardboard nation.


Allen & Ginter 2011 - Are You Needy? I Am, Sorta

I'm doing some housekeeping in the baseball picture card room and I'd like to tie up some loose Allen & Ginter 2011 ends. I tried to get behind this release but could never fully buy into it.

If you're in search of cards to complete your sets, then please peruse the available list here.

Meanwhile, I'd really love to complete these subsets: Uninvited Guests, Minds That Made The Future and World's Most Mysterious Figures.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, if you haven't already please take a look at the second entry in the Fun-Time Baseball Hall and vote up top for your choice Angels.

Allen & Ginter Available (red means cards now scheduled to come/go in trade)

4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 16, 18, 26, 31, 35, 53, 54, 54, 54, 58, 63, 68, 68, 75, 81, 91, 94, 94, 97, 114, 130, 143, 144, 146, 180, 181, 182, 182, 196, 197, 212, 216, 217, 241, 243, 246, 254, 255, 256, 258, 259, 260, 269, 269, 271, 274, 285, 289, 291, 300, 304, 312(SP), 312(SP), 314(SP), 317(SP), 342 (SP)

199, 279 (black parallel), 321

Hometown Heroes
12, 22, 29, 79, 94

Baseball Highlight Sketches
3, 5, 9, 12, 13, 14, 14, 15, 21, 23

Minds That Made The Future
6, 10, 20, 23, 32, 40 

A&G Needs   

Uninvited Guests
4, 5

Minds That Made The Future
2, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 28, 29, 33, 36, 38 

Base Set

82, 100, 140, 147, 198, 223, 293, 299, 343(SP)

World's Most Mysterious Figures
1, 4, 8, 10

Hometown Heroes
8, 25, 77, 93 

select Reds, Tigers and star players


Of Tides

Gonna look good in a Tigers uniform.

A favorite player heads to favorite team. Send me your Fielders!

In other news, don't forget to read up on your Angels and vote in the Fun-Time Baseball Hall poll up top. Thanks.

Hoosiers on Cardboard, Part 3

It's hard to imagine what Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown was thinking on Oct. 8, 1908, clutching a half-dozen death threat notes inside his coat pocket, and entering the game for his Chicago Cubs in a pennant-deciding final regular season contest against Christy Mathewson and the New York Giants.

Not to mention, he surely was completely unaware that a century later he'd still have arguably the best nickname in baseball history. That alone could have broken his concentration.

The native Hoosier was clear on the message of the notes, what with being death threat notes and all: We’ll kill you if you pitch and beat the Giants. A black handprint marked each note, the signature of the Italian Mafia.
Brown, early in the game, relieved the starter, and then held the Giants in check as the Cubs won 4-2, and the pennant. The Cubs went on to win their second consecutive World Series championship, their last to date. Yes, last to date.

On the plus side for fans of the Cubs, nobody killed "Three Finger" Mordecai Brown.

Sadly, this card is not part of my collection. Now, off to find Mordecai reprints.
Mordecai Peter Centennial was named after his father, his uncle and the year of his birth - 1876. He was born in a small West Central Indiana farming outpost called Nyesville.

At age seven, while feeding material into the farm's feed chopper, he slipped and his hand was mangled by the knives, severing much of his index finger and damaging the others.

A doctor did the best he could but, while the injuries were healing, young Mordecai fell, and broke several finger bones in the same hand. He kept quiet about the fall and the fingers were not re-set properly, with the middle finger terribly bent.

And, with that, eventually, came one of "the most devastating" - Ty Cobb once said - curve balls in Major League Baseball history. The extra topspin from his unusual grip made it difficult for batters to connect. In short, he "threw ground balls." Interestingly, he also had a deceptive fast ball and change-up.

Legendary New York Giants manager John McGraw regarded Mathewson and Brown as the two best pitchers in the National League. Brown, in fact, often defeated Mathewson in competition, holding a slim career 13-11 edge, with one no-decision in their 25 classic pitching matchups.

Mathewson v. Mordecai Brown. Oh, to have witnessed one of those games.


Nostalgic Wax: Pa

My grandpa turned 89 on Saturday and we had a family party for him. 

I bring this up on the blog because "Pa" is probably the biggest baseball fan in the family. Well, I'm surely tied with him at this point - but he's been one for much longer. He used to talk a lot about listening to the Cubs in the World Series in 1945. That was about the time he left the Pacific and World War II and returned to Arkansas. Waiting for him there was his wife, my grandma, and his two-year-old son, aka "my Dad."

Pa has listened to or watched probably thousands of Cub games in the past 70-plus years. In his youth, growing up outside the tiny town of Amity, Ark., he remembers hearing the New York Giants, New York Yankees and Cubs and the radio. He gravitated to the Cubs - which worked out pretty well when the family moved to nearby Indiana for work in the late 40s.

In case you're wondering, yes, I'm a lifelong Reds fan - and a near lifelong Tigers fan. Why am I not a rabid Cub fan? Because in the '70s, my formative baseball years, my Dad was sick and tired of the Cubs and so we headed to Riverfront Stadium and Tiger Stadium instead. Dad moved to Arizona a few years ago and really isn't much of a baseball fan. He lightly cheers for the Cubs (and the Diamondbacks).

But I don't think Pa ever wavered.

Last month, my family of three moved out of Pa's house, where we lived for several months after selling our Chicago home and heading close to extended family in Indiana (not far from Ohio). It was nice as I got a chance to watch a lot of baseball with him. We watched plenty of Cubs - but also a lot of Reds and Tigers (as the local cable picked up all of the games for both teams). We stayed up until, I think it was 12:30 a.m., watching Game 6 of the World Series. Pa will sit and watch entire games but nowadays unfortunately doesn't remember who won the game a few minutes after it's over.

The Cubs will always hold a special place for me because of Pa. I plan to get my daughter to Wrigley a few times (although Great American Ballpark will be her first big league venue). I cheer for the Cubs, except when they're playing the Reds and I'd love to see them finally win a World Series. I wish Pa would have been able to see them win one too - when he was still aware enough to fully enjoy it, remember it and talk about it for weeks.

But, as I've been reminded in a very harsh way in the past few days, life just doesn't always work out as planned. I've heard this one before, but it hits home: "You make plans; God laughs."


The Fun-Time Baseball Hall: Cal/Ana/LA Angels

Some housekeeping before the candidates are presented.

First, for the Angels, try to vote for at least 6 and no more than 8. Based on the Fun-Time Baseball Hall's rules (see at the bottom of this post), four Angels will win first-year induction.

Second, Vladimir Guerrero will not be eligible until next year based on our Hall's requirement that a player must be three seasons removed from suiting up for the team in question. A couple of borderline candidates did not make the first-year ballot. Don Baylor won the AL MVP as an Angel and surely will be up for a vote in Year Two. Mike Witt threw a perfect game with the club and had some solid counting stats.

Third, when voting, please keep in mind a player's body of work for the team featured. It's your call whether longevity for a team and counting stats is a key deciding factor or if you prefer judging a player's overall impact on the franchise, if even made in a relatively short time.

Jim Abbott (P)

Pitched for the Angels from 1989-92, 1995-96. Also pitched for the Yankees, White Sox and Brewers through 1999.
  • Joined Angels starting rotation as a rookie without playing a major league game. He went 12-12 with a 3.92 ERA, finishing fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
  • Abbott won 18 games in 1991, with an ERA of 2.89, finishing third in the AL Cy Young race.
  • In 1992, had a 2.77 ERA, but record fell to 7-15.
  • Pitched a no-hitter in 1993 with the Yankees.
  • Born without a right hand. After releasing the ball, he would quickly slip his hand into the glove, ready to field. He then would remove the glove by securing it between his right forearm and torso, slip his hand out of the glove, and remove the ball from the glove, usually in time to throw out the runner and often even start double plays. Teams throughout his baseball career tried to exploit his fielding disadvantage by repeatedly bunting to him; a tactic was never effective.
  • Won the Tony Conigliaro Award (1992) given annually by the Red Sox to a player who overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the "attributes of spirit, determination and courage."
Angels totals: 54-74, 4.07 ERA, 1,073 IPs, 607 strikeouts
Career totals: 87-108, 4.25 ERA, 1,674 IPs, 888 strikeouts

Garret Anderson (OF)
Played most of his career (1994-2008) with the Angels (appearing with the team under all three of its recent names - California/Anaheim/Los Angeles).
  • Played with Braves (2009) and Dodgers (2010).
  • Due to longevity, Angels' franchise leader in GPs, ABs, hits, total bases, singles, doubles, grand slams, extra-base hits, career RBIs, single-game RBIs, and consecutive games (12) with an RBI. Classic "counting stats vs. rate stats" case.
  • Three-time All-Star (2002, 2003, 2005). 2003 All-Star Game MVP (Potch was there!). 2003 Home Run Derby Winner.
  • World Series champion (2002). Hit a key bases-clearing double in Game 7.
  • Two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2002-03)
  • In 2002, finished fourth in AL MVP voting after hitting .306, 29 home runs, 123 RBIs. Scored career-high 93 runs. Never scored 100 or more in a season, hinting at his main weakness as a player: an inability to take walks and thus a low OBP.
  • On August 21, 2007, he drove in a team-record 10 runs, including a grand slam and a three-run homer, in an 18-9 win over the Yankees. He became the 13th player in history to have 10 RBIs in a game.
  • Began experiencing chronic ailments, including arthritis and plantar fasciitis in his feet, in 2004 that limited his playing time/production.
Angels' totals: .296, 272 home runs, 2,368 hits, 1,292 RBIs, 1,024 runs
Career totals: .293, 287 home runs, 2,529 hits, 1,365 RBIs, 1,084 runs

Bob Boone (C)
Catcher for California Angels from 1982-88, considered crucial factor in team's division titles (1982, 1986). Caught for Phillies (1972-81) and Royals (1989-90).
  • Considered one of top defensive catchers of his era.
  • Won seven Gold Glove awards, including four during his Angels' years - 1982, 1986-1988).
  • Caught 2,225 games in a 19-year career, a record which was later broken by Carlton Fisk.
  • Four-time All-Star, including one season with Angels (1976, 1978-79, 1983).
  • World Series Champion with Phillies (1980)
Angels totals: .245, 39 home runs, 318 RBIs
Career totals: .254, 105 home runs, 826 RBIs

Rod Carew (1B/2B)
Played for the California Angels from 1979-85. Played for the Minnesota Twins from 1967-78. Had seven good seasons in California after a phenomenal run in Minnesota.
  • 18-time All-Star - every year of his career except his last. With Twins won the AL MVP (1977); AL Rookie of the Year (1967). A second basemen until late 1975, Carew moved to first base for his final 10 years in the league. In 1991, Carew became only the 23rd player elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. 
  • Achieved greatest success, by far, as a Twin. In 12 seasons, had 200 or more hits four times and batted .334. Finished top 10 in AL MVP voting six times. Won 7 batting titles.
  • In 7 seasons as an Angel, highest hit total was 179 and batted .314. Hit better than .300 five times. Highest MVP voting was 26th. Did not win a batting title in California. After 8 straight years in Minnesota playing 140 or more games, his totals in California were: 110, 144, 93, 138, 129, 93, 127.
  • As a Twin, Carew won the AL batting title in 1972 (.318) without hitting a single home run. Carew batted .388 in 1977 (his MVP season), the highest since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
Minnesota totals: .334, 74 home runs, 733 RBIs, 950 runs, 271 SBs.
California totals: .314, 18 home runs, 282 RBIs, 474 runs, 82 SBs.
Career: .328, 3,053 hits, 1,015 RBIs, 1,424 runs scored, 353 SBs.

Dean Chance (P)
Pitched for Angels from 1961-66. Pitched for Twins, Indians, Mets, Tigers from 1967-71.
  • First Angels ace in the '60s, throwing 11 shutouts with a 1.65 ERA in 1964. Won the team’s first Cy Young Award that year.
  • Two-time All-Star (1964, 1967). Cy Young winner (1964), AL Comeback Player of Year (1967).
  • Chance won 14 games with an ERA of 2.96 during rookie season (1962) and finished tied for third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. That year, Chance and fellow phenom Bo Belinsky would team on both the mound and in the Hollywood social circles, much to the chagrin of Angels' management and front office.
  • After 1964 Cy Young season, Chance would go 15–10 (1965) and 12–17 record (1966), despite an ERA of 3.08. He was sent to Minnesota after that season and won 20 games in 1967. Career fell off quickly after 1968 season after suffering a back injury.
  • Had habit of never looking at home plate once he received the sign from his catcher. He would turn his back fully towards the hitter in mid-windup before spinning and unleashing a good fastball, sinker, or sidearm curveball.
Angels' totals: 74-66, 2.83 ERA, 1,236 IP, 857 Ks, 1.266 WHIP
Career totals: 128-115, 2.92 ERA, 2,147 IP, 1,534 Ks, 1.212 WHIP

Brian Downing (C/OF) 

Played for the Angels from 1978-90 after starting career with White Sox (1973-77) and ending with Rangers (1991-92).
  • His 1978 season was uninspiring (.255, 7 HR, 46 RBI), much like his years with the White Sox. But, in 1979, after weight training in the previous offseason, and changing his batting stance, he hit .326 (third in AL), 12 home runs, 75 RBIs, 81 runs.
  • All-Star (1979)
  • Best power-hitting seasons came in 1982 when he hit .281, 28 home runs, 84 RBIs, 109 runs; and 1987 when he hit .272, 29 home runs, 95 RBIs, 110 runs and an AL leading 106 walks.
  • A broken ankle in 1980 forced him to move from catcher to OF beginning in 1981 because his offense was so valuable. While his range was not great, he played the entire 1982 season without making an error. He hit 20+ home runs in six of the seven seasons (all with the Angels) from 1982-88. Hit 19 in the off year (1983).
  • When he played his last game for the Angels after 13 seasons, he was team's career leader in games, ABs, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBIs, and walks.
  • Trivia: In 1985 Downing played himself when Louise Jefferson snuck into the Angels' locker-room looking for Reggie Jackson in an episode of "The Jeffersons."
Angels' totals: .271, 222 home runs, 846 RBIs, 889 runs, 866 walks
Career totals: .267, 275 home runs, 1,073 RBIs, 1,188 runs, 1,197 walks

Chuck Finley (P)
Pitched for the Angels from 1986-1999. Pitched 2000-02 for the Indians and Cardinals.
  • Won more than 15 games six times.
  • Best season (1990): 18-9, 2.40 ERA - the lowest ERA by an Angel lefthander since Frank Tanana's 2.43 in 1976.
  • Holds all-time Angels' record for wins (165). And losses (140). Also IPs and GS.
  • Five-time All-Star (1989-90, 1995-96, 2000)
  • While he never won a Cy Young, he was twice second in the league in ERA. He is the only player to have multiple four-strikeout innings, with three total (twice as an Angel). This was due to a top split-finger pitch as his strikeout weapon. The pitch would often end up in the dirt, eluding both batter and catcher.
Angels totals: 165-140, 3.72 ERA, 1.369 WHIP, 2,675 IPs, 2,151 strikeouts
Career totals: 200-173, 3.85 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, 3,197 IPs, 2,610 strikeouts

Jim Fregosi (SS/1B/3B) 
Angel shortstop for the first 11 years of their existence, until 1971.
  • Regarded as the league's top-hitting shortstop, leading the AL in triples (13) in 1968, and was named an All-Star every season from 1966 to 1970.
  • Managed Angels to first divisional title in 1979. 
  • Played for Mets, Rangers and Pirates from 1972-78. Career trailed off drastically after being dealt from Angels due to injuries.
  • Six-time All-Star with Angels (1964, 1966-70)
  • Gold Glove winner (1967). Seventh in AL MVP voting (1967).
  • Rated by Bill James as the 15th best SS in MLB history.
  • Led AL in double plays twice. When he left Angels, ranked ninth in AL history with 818 double plays.
  • Holds franchise record for triples (70). Several of his other team records - career games (1,429), hits (1,408), doubles (219), runs (691) and RBIs (546) - were broken by Brian Downing between 1986-89.
  • On July 28, 1964, first Angel to hit for cycle, and did so again on May 20, 1968.
  • Sidelined during 1971 season when tumor was discovered in his foot. The Angels traded him to the Mets that December in a deal that brought Nolan Ryan to California. (Fregosi would later manage Ryan in 1978 and 1979, Ryan's last two years as an Angel.)

    Angels totals: .268, 1,408 hits, 115 home runs, 691 runs, 546 RBIs, 70 triples, 219 doubles, 71 SBs.
    Career totals: .265, 1,726 hits, 151 home runs, 844 runs, 706 RBIs, 78 triples, 76 SBs.

Bobby Grich (2B)

Played for the California Angels from 1977-86. Played for the Baltimore Orioles from 1970-76. Solidified the 2B position in California and considered one of the biggest factors in the team reaching respectability during that period.
  • Six-time All-Star ('72, '74, '76, 1979-80, '82).
  • Four-time Gold Glove (1973-76)
  • Twice Top 10 MVP (1974, 1979)
  • First second baseman to lead AL in home runs since Nap Lajoie (1901) and in either league since Rogers Hornsby (1929).
  • First player elected to Angels' Hall of Fame (1996)
  • In 1979, Grich hit .294, 30 home runs, 101 RBIs. Had his best hitting season in strike-shortened 1981 when he tied league lead in home runs (22), led in slugging average (.543) and hit career high (.304).
  • Widely considered excellent fielder with good range, soft hands and a solid arm. With Baltimore in 1973, he set an all-time fielding record (.995 percentage) and 12 seasons later (in 1985 with Angels) he broke the record again (.997).
Angels' totals: .269, 154 home runs, 557 RBIs, 601, runs, 1,103 hits.
Career totals: .266, 224 home runs, 864 RBIs, 1,033 runs, 1,833 hits.

Wally Joyner (1B)

Wally Joyner played for the California Angels from 1986-91 and returned with the then-Anaheim Angels in 2001. In between, from 1991-2000, he played for the Royals, Padres and Braves.
  • All-Star selection (1986). Voted starting 1B for the game, becoming the first rookie to be selected by fans. He never made another All-Star game.
  • Home Run Derby co-winner (1986)
  • Joyner and the Angels advanced to the 1986 ALCS, where they came within one strike of the franchise's first World Series.
  • Was the runner-up in the voting for Rookie of the Year (1986), losing to Jose Canseco.g65≈ß
  • He was a member of the pennant-winning 1998 San Diego Padres.
  • Angels totals: .286, 117 home runs, 532 RBIs
  • Career totals: .289, 204 home runs, 1,106 RBIs

Troy Percival (RP)

Pitched for the California/Anaheim Angels from 1995-2004. Then with Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay through 2009.
  • Four-time All-Star (1996, 1998, 1999, 2001).
  • World Series champion (2002). Top closer on team.
  • His 355 saves put him at 8th on MLB all-time list.
  • He became the regular closer for the Angels (1996) and had 36 saves with 100 strikeouts in 74 innings.
  • He had a career-high 42 saves in 1998, and enjoyed his best season in 2002 with a 4-1 record, 40 saves, 68 strikeouts, and a 1.92 ERA.
  • Suffered serious arm injury in 2005 and missed 2006.
  • Angels totals (10 seasons): 316 saves, 29-38, 2.99 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, 586.2 IPs, 680 strikeouts
  • Career totals: 358 saves, 35-43, 3.17 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 708.2 IPs, 781 strikeouts.

Francisco Rodriguez (RP)

Pitched for the Angels from 2002-08. Has since pitched for the Mets and Brewers (active).
  • Four-time All-Star (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009).
  • World Series Champion (2002)
  • Three-time AL saves champion with Angels (2005, 2006, 2008)
  • Two-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year (2006, 2008)
  • Holds MLB record for most saves (62) in a season (2008)
  • MLB.com Setup Man of the Year (2004)
  • Became full-time closer in 2005 when incumbent Troy Percival left as a free agent. Saved 45 games that year followed by 47, 40 and 62. In 2006, became the youngest closer in history (age 24) to accumulate 100 career saves.
  • Since leaving Angels, save totals have fallen to 35, 25, 23.
  • Angels totals (7 seasons): 208 saves, 23-17, 2.35 ERA, 1.114 WHIP, 451 IP, 587 strikeouts
  • Career totals: 291 saves, 36-27, 2.51 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 648 IP, 806 strikeouts

Nolan Ryan (P)

Pitched for the Angels from 1972-79. Corresponding K totals (329, 383, 367, 186, 327, 341, 260, 223).
  • Threw four no-hitters as an Angel. Seven for his career (three more than anyone in history).
  • 5,714 career strikeouts (MLB record)
  • Eight-time All-Star (1972-73, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1989).
  • World Series champion (1969): Ryan saved Game 3 as a New York Met, pitching 2.1 shutout innings against the Orioles. The Game 3 win gave the Mets a 2–1 lead in the Series, which they went on to win in five games. It would be Ryan's only World Series appearance.
  • MLB All-Century team
  • Led the league in Ks 7 of 8 seasons while in California but also led the league in walks in six of those years, and finished second the other two seasons. Aside from Bob Feller in 1938, Ryan is the only man since 1900 to walk 200 batters in a season, which he did twice during his Angels' years.
  • Ranks high on the list for four "negative" records: first all-time in walks allowed (2,795), first in wild pitches (277), third in losses (292—most in the post-1920 live-ball era), and ninth in hit batters (158).
  • Traded from Mets in 1971 in a deal bringing Jim Fregosi to the Mets. Fregosi had been an All-Star in six of seven seasons. The deal was not controversial at the time.
  • Ryan had a league-leading 329 Ks in his first season with the Angels, nearly a third more than the runnerup, and to that point, the fourth-highest total of the 20th century. Within five seasons, it would only be Ryan's fourth-highest K total. He also set a still-standing Major League record by allowing only 5.26 hits per nine innings, and posted a 2.28 ERA, to date the second-lowest in franchise history, trailing only Dean Chance's 1.65 in 1964. 
  • Angels' totals: 138-121, 2,181 IPs, 2,416 strikeouts, 3.07 ERA, 1.294 WHIP
  • Career totals: 324-292, 5,386 IPs, 5,714 strikeouts, 3.19 ERA, 1,247 WHIP

Tim Salmon (OF)
Played entire career (1992-2004, 2006) with Angels. Known as King Fish and Mr. Angel.
  • Held status as one of the AL's elite power-hitting OFs throughout the decade. He finished seventh in MVP voting for the first time in 1995, when he finished third in AL with a .330 average, 34 home runs, 105, RBIs and posted an OPS above 1.000. Seventh in MVP voting again in 1997 (.296, 33 home runs, 129 RBIs.)
  • AL Rookie of the Year (1993)
  • Silver Slugger award (1995)
  • World Series champion (2002): Crucial part of the team's playoff and World Series run, hitting two key home runs in Game 2 of the World Series against the Giants and batting .346 with a 1.067 OPS in the series overall.
  • AL Comeback Player of the Year (2002) after career lows in 2001.
  • Despite franchise record for home runs (299) and finishing with more than 1,000 RBIs, he was never selected an All-Star. Career HR total is the highest for any player (who played most of his career after the first All-Star game in 1933) to have never been selected to appear in an All-Star game.
  • From 1993 to 2000 he only had two OPS lines below .900 and he never finished below .860.
  • Career totals: .282, 299 home runs, 1,016 RBIs, 986 runs scored.

Frank Tanana (P)

Pitched for Angels from 1973-80. Pitched 13 more seasons with the Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Mets and Yankees.
  • Appeared in three consecutive All-Star games with Angels from 1976-78.
  • With Angels, led league in strikeouts (269) in 1975, ERA (2.54) and shutouts (7) in 1977. Had 34 career shutouts, 4,000 IPs and nearly 3,000 strikeouts.
  • On June 21, 1975, Tanana struck out 17 batters.
  • TSN AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1974. Notched the first of three straight 200-strikeout seasons in 1975.
  • Was known for a 100 MPH fastball, which he abruptly lost when he injured his arm at age 25 in 1979. He then developed several off-speed pitches (including a superb curveball) to extend his career as a successful junk-baller - and became a mainstay of the Tigers rotation from 1985-92.
  • Angels totals: 102-78, 3.08 ERA, 1,615 IP, 1,233 Ks, 1.166 WHIP
  • Career totals: 233-221, 3.62 ERA, 4,005 IP, 2,669 Ks, 1.266 WHIP
  • Trivia: Tanana is one of two pitchers (along with Rick Reuschel) to have given up a home run to both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

First-year balloting will differ from subsequent years, when percentage voting will come into play.

  • For teams in existence since 1920 or before, 7 players - the top vote-getters - will win first-ballot induction.
  • For teams established between 1921-1940, 6 players will win first-ballot induction.
  • For teams established between 1941-1960, 5 players will win first-ballot induction. 
  • For teams established between 1961-1975, 4 players will win first-ballot induction.
  • For teams established between 1976-1990, 3 players will be inducted. 
  • For newer expansion teams, the ballots will be grouped and the top three from all of these teams will be inducted.
  • Roughly one year after a team(s) is featured, a second ballot will be held. 
  • Four more players will enter the Hall for each team in existence since 1940 or before. Three more for teams established between 1941 and 1975. Two more for teams established after 1976. One more total for the combined newer expansion teams.* 
  • * I intend to fully adhere to these rules but I possibly will add a percentage requirement also for second-year induction, which I know for sure I'll implement in subsequent years.


    Fun-Time Baseball Hall: Your First-Ballot Tigers!

    Ty Cobb, Al Kaline and Hank Greenberg were the top three vote-getters in the Fun-Time Baseball Hall: Tigers Edition. They are joined as first-ballot inductees by Alan Trammell, Sam Crawford, Charlie Gehringer and Lou Whitaker. (See the end of this post for exact totals as well as a link about induction rules.) Thank you to everyone who voted.
    Are there any Sam Crawford cards out there of any sort? I'd like one or three!
    I greatly enjoyed seeing how this would shake out and I learned a bit about baseball history along the way. Up next: Angels. There will be four first-ballot Angels inducted, per previously set forth rules related to a team's year of establishment.

    A little more about some of the inductees beyond what's included in the initial link (found below).

    Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, aka the "Georgia Peach" and "Wahoo Sam", were contemporaries, teammates for parts of 13 seasons. They led Detroit to three straight AL pennants in 1907, 1908 and 1909, but both slumped in their World Series appearances, as the Tigers lost all three World Series. Crawford hit for a .243 average in three World Series, and Cobb hit an uncharacteristic .200 in the 1907 World Series and .231 in the 1909 classic.

    Cobb and Crawford, a Wahoo, Neb. native, played beside each other in right and center field, and Crawford followed Cobb in the batting order year after year. Initially, they had a student-teacher relationship. Crawford was an established star when Cobb arrived, and Cobb sought his advice.

    That relationship gradually changed to one of jealous rivals. Plenty of unflattering comments were made publicly about each other.

    But, after Cobb died, a reporter found letters showing Cobb had written to influential people, lobbying for Crawford’s induction into the Hall of Fame. Crawford was reportedly unaware of Cobb’s efforts until after Cobb had died. At one point, Cobb was quoted as saying he'd always remember Crawford's kindness.

    Whitaker and Trammell also are linked forever, of course. They both made their major league debuts at Fenway Park, during the second game of a double-header on September 9, 1977. It was the first of 19 seasons together. Their stats are remarkably similar.

    Whitaker is currently ineligible for the Hall of Fame. He did not receive the required five percent of the votes to stay on the ballot in his first (and only) year of eligibility in 2001. This surprised many observers, including baseball stats guru Bill James, who named Whitaker the 13th-best 2B ever. Whitaker is now ineligible for baseball's highest honor until 2015. Trammell is still on the ballot but failed to gain induction in the recent voting. 

    Gehringer, aka the "Mechanical Man," is ranked by most baseball historians as a top 10 second baseman of all time. The nickname was attached because he was not flashy, and reportedly had no discernible personality, but just went about consistently doing his job better than most of his peers.

    For more about the inductees, as well as those who did not win first-year induction, see this post. Stay tuned roughly one year from now for second-ballot voting. Will Norm Cash get in?
    Who will join the remaining names on the ballot? Mark Fidrych? Willie Hernandez? How soon before Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are on the ballot? Answer, per rules: Three seasons after their last Tiger season (so it'll be awhile.)

    Thanks to the 22 who voted (not a bad total to start this thing off with.) As a reminder, I had asked everyone to choose up to 7 but no more than 10.

    Here are the totals:

    Norm Cash
      7 (31%)
    Ty Cobb
      20 (90%)
    Sam Crawford
      12 (54%)
    Cecil Fielder
      1 (4%)
    Bill Freehan
      3 (13%)
    Charlie Gehringer
      12 (54%)
    Kirk Gibson
      5 (22%)
    Hank Greenberg
      19 (86%)
    Harry Heilmann
      4 (18%)
    Willie Horton
      1 (4%)
    Al Kaline
      19 (86%)
    George Kell
      7 (31%)
    Mickey Lolich
      6 (27%)
    Denny McLain
      5 (22%)
    Jack Morris
      5 (22%)
    Hal Newhouser
      4 (18%)
    Lance Parrish
      2 (9%)
    Alan Trammell
      15 (68%)
    Lou Whitaker
      11 (50%)


    Site Blackout and The Time My Two Loves Collided: An Exercise In Overly Long and Somewhat Misleading Headline Writing

    So, this Pippen Soap Bill sure is a load of poop, amiright? On the plus side, if somehow my blog gets a shut down, it would have zero impact on all of you and I'd get to read an extra book here and there with my extra time.

    Speaking of which, wow, I love to read. Anyone ever read "A Prayer for Owen Meany"? You must. Great stuff. An all-time fave. Let me know if you've read it.

    Speaking of which (part two), I met John Irving once. We were all set to go to a White Sox game after work when my wife (fiancee at the time) heard he was giving a speech at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago's Loop. We went to a lot of games so we skipped it and headed to the library. It was even my birthday. Bought his latest at the time "Until I Found You" and had him sign it. Cool guy.
    I don't know what this is but it has "John Irving" and "baseball" in it so there ya go. Wrong John Irving? Whatevs.
    Oh yeah, baseball. How about we talk about The Fun-Time Baseball Hall? Just a couple of days left to vote in the poll up top for the Detroit Tigers and then we'll turn our attention to the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angeles.

    I wonder if Nolan Ryan will make the nomination cut, hmmm.

    Spoiler: He will.


    Topps 2011 Flagship Exchange

    There's no doubt I'm horribly biased, but as I near my one-year anniversary of returning to baseball card collecting, and have now had ample opportunity to pick up some of the flagship cards from the past two decades, I still think the 2011 flagship set is the best looking flagship set in a very long time.

    Scroll down to see my needs and be advised I have a boatload of available cards for 2011 flagship from Series 1, 2 and Update. If you're in need of some, send me a note or direct me to your wants. I've yet to catalog my dupes.
    Love this card from Update. If you have other Hosmer cards collecting dust, let me know.
    With flagship, all of the pertinent information is on the front (name, position, team) and the team logos on the baseballs still wow me. The back has what I want, as well - a full bio, small write-up and stats. If I must pick one quibble, it would be the repeat of the front picture in the close-up shot.

    I'm closing in on completing the set. It is likely the last flagship set I'll chase short of another stellar design. I plan to turn my focus to vintage, finishing the sets of my youth (1976, 1978-83), chasing the yearly Heritage set and snagging favorite players, or even a prospect or two to gamble on. But that's it - unless Gypsy Queen casts a spell on me.

    Before I get to my needs for 2011 flagship, next on my to-do list is to catalog my Topps Chrome (available/needs). If you're in search of 2011 Topps Chrome, jot me a note.

    But for now, here's what I need for 2011 flagship. And, remember, I have a ton of dupes from Series 1, Series 2 and Update if you need help.

    US20, US121, US188, US262, US277, US294 

    If you missed it, and because blogger won't allow me to fix the poll to create the proper heading, I'll link again to this post about the Fun-Time Baseball Hall so you know what the poll is all about. Also, see my last post to nominate Angels.


    Nominate Your Angels: The Fun-Time Baseball Hall

    With Potch's Fun-Time Baseball Hall in full swing and poll votes flying fast and furious for the Detroit Tigers, I'd like to request nominees for the franchise known as the Angels. In the comments to this post, please provide a few names of players from that franchise's past that you think should be put up on the first-year ballot.

    Reminder: I'm looking for players who might make an All-Star Angels squad or strong players who spent many years with the franchise or even players who didn't spend many years but made a lasting impact with the team.

    I reserve the right to make the final call on whether a player is placed on the ballot but I greatly appreciate your expertise. I will limit the first-year ballot to 12 as only 4 players will be elected to the Angels' Hall given the year of the franchise's formation. (See rules at the start and end of the post with the hot links above.)
    How many team's Fun-Time Hall's will Nolan Ryan make? Two? Three? Four? Twenty? Well, probably not twenty.
    Meanwhile, yes, I'm fickle. The "Hall of Potch" just wasn't working for me. I'm trying out a new name that I think I'll stick with that better reflects the spirit of this goofy little project.

    I'd like to thank reader DominicFDNY for his contribution. Dominic: I'd like to send you some cards. A collection of Red Sox, perhaps? Any particular set your chasing?

    Thanks to everyone who has voted for the Tigers thus far. Not bad for just a couple of days, but my reach seems fairly limited so far. Any help with getting the word out would be swell and appreciated.


    I Like Blogging and Meeting Friends and Trading and Drafting and So Forth

    One of my biggest kicks out of running my humble little Internet outpost is the chance to virtually meet other like-minded folks.

    You see, when I first rediscovered the cards-my-mom-almost-threw-out and brought them to my home, I got a real thrill out of ...

    Pssst. Hey, you there, it's me Botch - no not Crotch, let's keep it clean - Feeler. Before Potch starts rambling, have you checked out this fun post and voted in the first edition of the ultra-neat Hall of Potch? When it's all said and done, there will be a book!* You could be in it. Make comments, for cripe sake!

    * There will not be a book. At most, there will be a paragraph in Potch's memoirs that he prints out and stashes in his Trapper Keeper.

    ... poring over my 1978s (my first) and then digging through the 1976s that Gramps bought for me at a garage sale long ago.

    But was I alone in this? Was I just a little off? Soon, some Internet poking-around revealed the closeted world of 40-something collectors rediscovering their youth (and even 50-somethings and 60-somethings!) And, of course, the whippersnappers (anyone younger than my current age).

    So I embraced my baseball cards (not literally, that would be weird) and began sorting and staring and pawing and trading and annoying my wife. And, with the trading, I began new friendships. I have met some seemingly great bloggers and, heck, one day it wouldn't even be so bad to meet some of you.

    One new blogging friend is Kyle over at Juuust A Bit Outside. Kyle stormed onto the scene in the second half of 2011. He seems like a good soul. I took part in a break he ran earlier and then joined a card draft he held. (Or was it the draft and then the break?)

    Without further adieu, here are some cards I snagged in his cool draft.

    "Without further adieu" indeed. It took you five long graphs just to get to the point, William Faulkner.

    I believe these guys lasted several rounds into the draft. I was happy to get them. While I have no love for either team, I have mad love for vintage of all sorts - particularly quality vintage. I've renewed my focus for 2012 and plan to spend more on vintage and less on new stuff (until Heritage or Gypsy Queen wows me, I'm sure).

    Bobby Richardson played for the Yankees from 1955-66 and was an eight-time All-Star selection. He won five Gold Gloves; three World Series title and was actually the MVP of the 1960 World Series.

    Post-game trivia: He ran for Congress (Bobby Richardson-R) from South Carolina's 5th Congressional District in 1976. He lost as the Democrats came marching in with James Earl Carter win.

    In retrospect, Mr. Richardson deserved his own private scan. But hold on, Bob Allison was no slouch either! To wit:

    Allison played for the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins from 1958-70. He hit 256 career home runs, was a three-time All Star and was named 1959 AL Rookie of the Year.

    Allison deserved his own scan, too!

    Here are a few (but not all) more cards I snagged in the JABO draft. They include my beloved '81s and '83s (I had a couple but needed upgrades); sparkly cards from teams I collect; a much-desired mini from the Lineage collection; and more!

    The Greenberg below is for trade. I'm seeking another 2011 legend SP (doesn't have to be diamond) for it. 

    Search Me *shrugs*