Saturday, September 29, 2007

2005 UD Origins Old Judge Signature Al Rosen

My latest acquisition is a 2005 Upper Deck Origins Baseball "Old Judge" Signatures card of Al Rosen. Before I get to the card, can someone please tell the few remaining card companies that we are tired of sets whose names go one for days!? Yeesh...

As a kid, I never got into the whole "autographed card" craze. To me, having and auto on the card took away from the "purity" of what I was trying to collect. I supposed it's kinda cool if you get the actual player to sign his card and all, but I liked the cards the way they came out of the pack - either without a signature or with those goof facsimile sigs we still see today. As I've gotten older, though, I have grown to like getting auto cards that have the place set aside, ready for the sig. In particular, I enjoy collecting signatures from players of days gone by. Well, being a Tribe fan, that's not hard, since most players I get sigs from are no longer Tribers... In any case, I have several auto-cards now, which I will show off later when I do a post on my auto collection.

Rosen has what I think of as the "classic pose of yester-year" - hanging out, looking off into the distance, as if the cameraman caught him thinking about things bigger than baseball. I love the picture chosen. The signature area is located beneath the photo, and I like the large auto area. I think the border is way oversized for the card, so for me, some of the main elements get lost in the green background with little circles... Who's idea was that?

The back of the card has no stats, no bio, just a congratulatory message that basically serves as the card's COA. I think the card (and collector) would have been better served by having a little bio about the player. The COA stuff could have been tiny fine print a la legalese. We're not idiots, Upper Deck. We realize it is a signature card authorized and authenticated (sorta) by Upper Deck. I say sorta, because if you read the text, they have an "out" should the authenticity ever be questioned. Even though it says it is authentic, the 'well, we're very, very sure anyway' phrase on the back is, "This card was sent to Upper Deck directly from Al Rosen." This means that if later in life, the signature is challenged, Upper Deck can say, "So far as we know, Al Rosen sent us the card. He claimed he signed it. If he didn't, then he is the cheat, not us!" I do not believe for a moment that this would ever come to pass, but *IF* it did, UD covered their rears...

Of course, for me, I will always believe the card was signed by the actual player. I don't want or need a COA to tell me otherwise.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Well, almost always...

I have mentioned that there will be times when the "All-Tribe" card blog may include other teams, etc. This is one of those times. This week, I was at a distance learning conference (where, by the way, my group happened to be awarded the K12 Award for Excellence in Technology Service), and our keynote speaker on the third day was Dr. Delores "Dolly" Brumfield-White. "Dolly" was a member of the AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) from 1947-1953. She was only FOURTEEN when she was signed to play. In reality, she was allowed to train and watch for most of the first year because of her age.

It turns out she lives in Arkadelphia, AR, which is less than 30 minutes away from where I live, AND she was one of the PE coaches at the University where I went to college WHILE I was at that college. I wish I had known then, but I was not athletically inclined, thus our paths did not cross, so far as I remember.

She spoke to our group about life during World War II and what it was like to play baseball - a sport she loved (and still loves). She is now on the education advisory board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and spends much of her time doing public speaking engagements.

I was awestruck, and received the autographed card you see above! As far as I am concerned, getting to listen to her is the same as if Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, or Cal Ripken Jr had been standing there. In fact, in a lot of ways, it was even better. We were talking to and listening to someone who had a part in an amazing time in history. A true living legend was standing before us, and she was as down-to-earth and laugh-out-loud funny as anyone could be! Listening to her story, and tales!, brought feelings of triumph and pride, and of heartbreak and sadness. I can only imagine the stories her children and grandchildren have heard over the years, and I hope they sit at her feet every time she spins one of her yarns.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

2007 Upper Deck Goudey and the Topps Buyout

I have to admit, I LOVE this set. Upper Deck did a great job of capturing the look of the 1933/1938 Goudey/Big League cards. The backgrounds look like they were stolen outright. If they weren't, then the artists did a super job of emulating them. The images on the front are cool, modern interpretations of those found in the classic originals. The backs feature either red text or green text, and there are game-used versions of many players plus the "Heads Up" versions which feature a cartoon-like drawing of the player (If there are Tribers that are featured in either of the chase sets, and I get them, I'll post pics).

Michael Eisner and a group of his friends bought Topps, and in the process will give $9.75 a share to the shareholders. There have been several other folks that have blogged a bit about it: Stale Gum, The Cardboard Junkie, and others you can search for if you're so inclined. I bring up the subject because I am hoping that at least some of the people involved with the group purchase are (or were at some time in their lives) card collectors. Maybe this seems a too simple, but I would think that card collectors would have some of the best understanding as to what other collectors actually WANT in their sets and brands. The worst thing Eisner and his group could do is to leave things as they are. As mentioned on other sites, Bowman is so broken, the brand itself should just about disappear. I think the only thing saving the name is the nostalgia that we older, long-time collectors feel. Allen and Ginter is working, though I think it will need serious tweaking if it is supposed to remain competitive and cutting edge. As for the Topps Regular set, I actually like the current design (and I know a lot of collectors do not). There are enough retro-based sets out there that the base set needs to reflect modern trends and designs. Look at the cards of the 80's - cheesy at times? Sure, but so were the 80's...

The group (or the designated chairs) should sit with the leaders of the current Topps brands, lay all the card designs and brands on the table, and cut what sucks, improve what works. I think they also need some new sets. I like the idea of having a Negro League set and/or a Women's Pro League set. How about an all HOFer set?

Please, for the love of Pete, stay away from making every chase card chrome or silver... Man, can't we come up with something more original? Heck, even the "mini parallels" are being done to death... I do like the prismatic parallels, though... :-)

I wish the "new" Topps well, and I hope someone figures out how to make the hobby cool again, without resorting to stupid gimmicks... Although, my son would collect if they some kind of Yu-Gi-Oh/Baseball combo set... Please, heaven help us, do NOT let that happen!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

1993 Kraft Singles Pop-ups

Through a recent eBay auction, I bought a complete set (30 cards total) of the 1993 Kraft Singles Pop-ups. The ONLY Indian in the bunch is Sandy Alomar, Jr. That's not a bad guy to have in a set if there is only going to be ONE Indian.

The premise behind these cards is that the buyer would pull the little tab at the top, which causes the card to separate on cut edges, lifting the player i such a way as to create a 3-d diorama of sorts. I specifically said "buyer" there because no collector in his/her right mind would dare do such a thing! Well, at least not to ONE of them, should that collector have more than one.

I have been tempted to buy a 2nd one for the sake of pulling the tab and bringing the card to life. I have not given in to that as of yet, but you just never know...

I realize this is about "Indians Baseball Cards. Always" but that does not preclude me from discussing other teams' players - after all, it is *my* blog... :-)

Some of the "great" cards (by my own opinion) in the set include Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr, Mark McGwire, Dennis Eckersley, Ken Griffey Jr, and Roger Clemens, just to name a few.... These will either go into my "non-Indians" collection, or they will end up on eBay as singles (no pun intended, though, if it works, why not?)...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

1999 Upper Deck Power Deck

I had not heard of the "Power Deck" CD-ROM baseball cards before running across the Manny Ramirez that I now have in my possession. Many moons ago, I had "digital" baseball cards that were made by CyberAction (now, long defunct). When the '99 Ramirez arrived, I popped into my computer.

A slide show of sorts played, showing Manny in various batting and fielding positions, then came the menu. The first item to play was a video highlight reel. Very cool, though the 640x480 (or maybe 800x600, but I doubt it) resolution seemed like such a small viewing screen on my 19-inch wide LCD, but it was still cool.

In addition to the video, there were still pictures and a sampling of Manny Ramirez Upper Deck cards for 2000. The CD also had facts and other info about Manny.

This is a very cool, unique addition to my collection! Now, of course, the hunt is on for other Indians Power Deck cards (Ramirez is the only 1999 Indians).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1988 Panini Stickers

In a recent purchase of several miscellaneous Indians cards, there were quite a few stickers. Among them, the 1988 Panini were scattered throughout. I don't know how most collectors feel about stickers (or, as in the case of Fleer and some others, the "sticker cards"), but I like as much as (and sometimes more than) their hardbacked counterparts.
Of of the things I like about most stickers is that, generally, the company does away with most of the "frills" of baseball cards - simple, up close face shots and non-distracting borders. Though, I admit, these happen to look like something NBC was trying to push (note the 'peacock feather' shaped balloons)... Of course, in Julio Franco's case, we also see the "Jerry Curl" hairstyle of the eighties... :-)
It always surprises me when I see early pictures of the players I tried to follow and keep up with while I watched the Tribe off and on over the years. Jacoby looks like a kid fresh out of college, if even that old. I'm not sure if the cameraman told him to say "cheese" here or if there was a little rubber duck on the photographer's head that had just fallen off. Either way, it got a big smile out of Jacoby.
Speaking of styles and smiles, Cory Snyder is one of those guys that (if you're a Tribe fan from those days) etched their image into the heads of kids and fans everywhere for years to come. How can you forget the yellow hair or the moustache? I read not long ago that he had become the manager of the newly formed St. George Roadrunners team (in the Golden Baseball League - a west coast league that features a lot of former MLB players). That's a pretty cool thing to happen to a guy on the Top 500 home run hitters list... :-)
The next guy in my stack of stickers is Greg Swindell. This guy played in the majors for 17 years, which ain't bad for a pitcher from Ft. Worth.. :-) It so happens that the 1988 features him at his best: a 3.20 ERA, struck out 180 batters while only 45. In '89, he was named to the American League All-Star team. I never really followed his career, but after doing a bit of research, I was surprised to see how many teams he ended up playing for (Indians, Twins, Red Sox, Reds, Astros, and Diamondbacks).
One of the coolest part of collecting stickers are the team logos. And, for this particular set, the logo comes on a gold foil backing! I also noticed that the logo sticker and other non-player stickers are slightly larger than the player stickers. They also have much nicer inking on the back of them... Go figure! :-) I am collecting as many of the Indians logo items (stickers, cards mainly) as I can because I am sure it won't be too much longer before the thing is deemed too non-pc, and gets revamped for some stupid other team name and logo....
And, finally, one of my favorite stickers of all time - the Indians uniform. So far as I know, Fleer did a "jersey" sticker in the 80's, but no one else did a full-on uni sticker. I mean, how cool is this one? Not only do we have the jerseys, but also pants, a hat, a helmet, socks, and a jacket! I had never seen this sticker before receiving it in this "surprise pack," and it instantly became one of my faves! It's just cool, what else can I say? :-)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lucky day for a box break

It must have been my lucky day, card-wise anyway! I had ordered a box of 1997 Score Indians Team Set/Tribe Collection cards from eBay. They arrived today, so at work, I busted the packs open. The stated odds on the box are 1:6 for a Tribe Collection (silver foil) card. The first pack I opened had the obligatory team checklist, and for whatever reason, I looked at the back. I had won!! TWO free admissions to Pinnacle's FanFest! LOL, yeah, okay, I would have had to have won about 10 years ago in order to cash in, but still, it was the first "winner" card from the set I had pulled!

Then, I went on opening packs, looking for the Tribe Collection cards I need to fill my set. One pack had TWO of the silver buggers stuck together, and I needed one of them for my collection! Super! A few packs later, and IT HAPPENED AGAIN! Two different silver cards stuck together in one pack, and I needed one of them! Holy Smokes! So, instead of finding the projected 4-5 cards in the box, I found 7! Lucky 7! LOL... Well, I enjoyed it, anyway... :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

1970 Topps Regular

One of the earliest cards I bought was the 1970 Alvin Dark you see here. I'm not sure what first drew me to the 1970 set. But looking at the cards now, it was probably their simplicity. The cards have nice, big player pictures. One thing I've noticed about a lot of cards (even card of the same time period) is that companies seem to like showing more of the CARD that the PLAYER! Isn't the point of baseball cards to show the collector who they players are!? Maybe it's just me...

One of my favorite players growing up was Graig Nettles, even when he left the Tribe. Of course, back then, I had no idea how great of a player he would turn out to be... He's a Hall of Fame player who is not is the Hall... I dunno, maybe it was the bat with superballs in it... Who knows, but he ought to be in the Hall, regardless.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2007 Allen & Ginter... I gave in.

I gave in... I've been reading the Pack-A-Day site for a while now, and I finally gave in and bought a box of A&G cards. Well, I ended up with a Miguel Cabrera Game-used Jersey framed card. Not an Indian, but a nice card!

I did manage to pull a Triber, though! Joe Borowski mini card:

I actually like the A&G cards, despite my aversion to "retro" cards... I think it's the 'soft' borders maybe, I dunno... But there it is, for what it's worth... :-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

1909-1911 T-206

I love the T-206 cards. Why? They are OLD, that's why! These cards are nearly 100 years old as I type this in 2007. I know there are cards that come from before this time, but for me, this has always been the "original" set. 150 cards made by cigarette companies to get you to buy more ciggies. No "Joe Camels" here, boys. Just good-old baseball players. :-)

I currently own four of the T-206 Cleveland team (shown below). I am not picky about my T-206's as far as condition goes. I figure if I can pick up some 100-year old cards for the cost of a current blaster box of baseball cards, I feel pretty good!

The Liebhardt was the first 1909 card I ever bought/owned. It's actually in pretty good shape, considering it *IS* 100 years old (well, close enough). I hope to eventually own a full team set of these.... In the meantime, enjoy!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Card/Photo Study: Jim Thome

As I have said on here before, I have been a huge Jim Thome fan since the minors. What I decided to do as a "mini project" is a card/photo study of the guy. If I like the way this turns out, I will do future studies on different players. You just never know what's going to pop in my head, do you?

I will refrain from making comments about the cards, and instead let you peruse them:

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Hawk on a poster

As you have read on here before, I enjoy collecting "oddball" items in addition to 'regular' baseball cards. In 1970, Topps produced a set of 24 mini-posters. Now, some may argue as to whether or not this should be considered "oddball" since Topps produced it and it was a set. By today's definitions, this is probably considered some kind of insert or something. In any case, as you can see by the picture, the one I have acquired has been folded and refolded several times since 1970.

My hope was that i would be able to fit the poster in its unfolded state into a full-page holder. Alas, it is a hair too wide for a standard full-page sleeve. I will have to do some hunting to find a sleeve that is a tad wider than standard, yet still fits in a binder. I would guess that BCW has such a thing, but I have not tried them yet.

It's too bad that Topps limited the run of these to 24 because they are kinda cool items to have. I am surprised that they chose Ken Harrelson to be represented when they could have picked Vada Pinson, Graig Nettles, Sam McDowell, or Ray Fosse for crying out loud. I mean, okay, "The Hawk" was better than your average Joe (he hit 30 home runs in his first season as a Triber), but he did most of his "good stuff" before coming to the Tribe. then again, in 1970, I'm sure he was considered quite a steal for Cleveland.

It just seems to me, though, that with your pick of the litter of all the players that year, why go with Harrelson? Maybe it was part of his re-worked contract or something.

Here's a tidbit I picked up while surfing around - supposedly he invented the batting glove - or, the IDEA of the batting glove. Seems he wore a golfing glove to bat with, and the rest, as they say, was history...

Checklist Errors...

I will post corrected/updated checklists shortly. Some of them (like the 1965 Embossed Inserts) do not show all the Indians cards in that set. Turns out to be a mistake on my part, as the program I use has a little checkbox that threw off the results of creating the checklists. Sorry for the mixup...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Some of the 2007 offerings

Right now, I do not have a lot of 2007-based Indians cards. There are a couple reasons for that, though the main one is that I have been concentrating on filling out past years of my collection, so the current year(s) suffer for it...

What I do have (or the sets I can pass along to ya), though, I will share: Topps Regular, Topps Opening Day, Topps Heritage, Topps Finest, Upper Deck Regular, Upper Deck First Edition, Upper Deck Artifacts, Fleer Regular, Bowman Regular, Bowman Gold, eTopps Regular, eTopps RRO, Allen & Ginter.

Sorry to say, I do not have checklists for many of these sets yet. I will post the checklists as I get them/compile them for you though!

(I am going to be lazy today. I hate Blogger tables, and it takes too long to hand-code it, so I will present the picture followed by my comments for each brand/style...)

eTopps Regular Issue - The only offering (so far) this year from eTopps is the C.C. Sabathia card. In past years, eTopps has done fairly well with representing the Tribe. For as well as the Indians have played this year, eTopps really missed the boat. I'm sure there will be more to come, but for this late in the season to only have ONE Indians card is ridiculous. Where are Sizemore, Hafner, Westbrook, or even a card featuring Kenny Lofton would be cool. I guess we'll just have to see what the rest of the 2007 season holds for eTopps cards.

Bowman Gold - These cards look like the regular Bowman issue but have gold borders (surprised, aren't ya?) and the facsimile auto on the front is in gold foil, too. I only have the card shown in my possession, but I am working on that.. .:-) Honestly, right now, I'm not sure if this "gold" card is part of the base set or if it is a parallel/insert... A lot of good I am, huh?

eTopps RRO - Though technically not separate from the eTopps base set, the RRO is a different kind of eTopps card. This year, eTopps went with the 24-hour RRO instead of the "Hey, I just happen to be on the site at the right time" method of last year. In any case, the only RRO Indian they are offering (to date) is Ben Francisco. I was pretty excited to see a Tribe card offered as an RRO, and even more so when I snagged one for my eTopps portfolio. :-)

Upper Deck Regular - The regular issue of Upper Deck have silver (gray) borders. The names of the players are silver foil on the front. On the back, a little blurb and some stats with a mini picture. I don't know the significance, but on some cards, the mini pic is tinted red, while some are black-n-white and some aren't tinted at all... Whatever... At the bottom of the cards are either "Series 1" or "Series 2," depending. The Kevin Kouzmanoff card is included in my collection, though he is listed as a Padre. Why? Because he is *IN* an Indians uniform on the card. Besides, how many other players in the league have ever had their very first pitch go for a walk-off grand slam? Uh, none. Exactly. And if I can "claim" Kouzmanoff as a Triber, I'm doin it! :-)

Upper Deck First Edition - These cards are like the regular issue, but they have gold borders and say "First Edition" on the front. The names are not foil, just printed on the card. The backs feature the same backs as their regular counterparts. Frankly, I see nothing special about the set, and think Upper Deck could have issued some other kind of set instead, but that's just me.

Fleer Regular - The 2007 Fleer regular feature the player on the front with the logo and team name in script at the bottom. The upper right corner is rounded on the image (though not on the card). On the back, the player's name is in script in a red section with personal info and a blurb. Below that is a gray section with some previous stats. Fleer does have an insert set that is the "die cut" version, which DOES have the rounded corner cut out. I have the Grady Sizemore in the "mini die cut" version, but forgot to grab a pic of it in my haste to post.. LOL... I actually like this set a lot because it reminds me of older sets (though, not sure why that is).

Bowman Regular - These cards feature strong red borders around the player on the front with a facsimile autograph near the bottom. The player's name is done is silver foil, as well as their position. On the back is a mini picture with bio and stats. To me, Bowman cards are always easy to pick out of a stack of cards because, for the most part, the brand (er, Topps) has stayed true to the general layout and format throughout the years. I know companies are trying all kinds of things to make every year's cards more appealing, striking, etc, and Bowman is no different. But, you can tale a pile of Bowman cards and look through them and see the consistent styling. I like it...

Upper Deck MLB Artifacts - I have yet to understand the word "artifacts" in the title of this set. The layout of the card is okay, kinda vintage-looking... A brownish marble frame surrounds a stitched parchment style back with the player's photo done in an artistic fade. The player's name is written in black, such as to appear as though someone hand-wrote it on there. The team name in the lower left corner uses a 'typewriter' font to give the whole thing a "doesn't this look like it is circa 1960?" look. It's okay, but as I said, I don't get the "artifact" part. When I saw "artifact," on the pack, I assumed it meant "materials inside." After all, what are artifacts, if not pieces of things, right? Well, not according to Upper Deck. Again, Kouzmanoff appears as a Padres card in an Indians uniform, so he is in my collection of Tribe cards.. :-)

Allen & Ginter - I liked the 2006 A/G set because I was not familiar with the set/style before that. Though I have been collecting Indians cards for many, many years, I am not any kind of card "expert" (which I'm sure you have figured out by now if you've been reading along). Anyway, I thought the A/G throwback was a cool idea. In 2007, Topps continues to ride the A&G Express with this year's issue. As with last year, this year has short prints, minis, minis with black borders, Perez inserts, etc etc. I just purchased the regular A&G Indians set on eBay, so I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival... :-)

Topps Regular - I love Team Cards. I always have. In the "glory" days, it represented just what it was - the TEAM. Yes, players moved around, but it seems like many players stayed with the same team longer than they do now. I'm sure that is manufactured nostalgia, but that's how I see teams of the past. For many years, card companies dropped Team Cards, checklists, etc. I'm not saying 2007 is the return of those, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the set included Team cards. Even if the "team" isn't the band-of-brothers it used to be, the fact that you can still get everyone together for a nice group shot is a welcome sight in my nostalgic eyes. Like I said, it is not that team cards haven't been 'back' for a while, but it is that they are STILL HERE that moistens my eyelashes... :-) On top of that, I like the look of this year's card from Topps. To me, it is retro without flat-out stealing a past design. Bold, thick borders, colored squares on the front... I likey! :-) There is, of course, the now-obligatory mini pic on the back with stats and bio info.

Topps Opening Day - These cards have the same photo as their regular counterpart, but instead feature a white border and the "Opening Day" logo on the front and back. Everything else about the card is the same. Well almost. The Opening Day set has different card numbering than the regular set. For example, Jake Westbrook's regular card is #72, while his OD card is #3. Seems to me that if they were going to have to print all new cards (colors, numbering, etc) they should have chosen different photos as well, but that's just me...

Topps Heritage - Topps Heritage, Bowman Heritage, Fleer Heritage... Heritage, Heritage everywhere... Frankly, when these first came out a zillion years ago, they were retro-cool. Now, they have the same look they always have (in the Heritage flavor), and it has been beaten to death. So much so, in fact, that looking at the Topps Heritage card, you have to look at the logo to make sure it is NOT the Bowman! Stupid, and shows complete lack of originality. I know, I just said earlier that I liked the Bowman consistent look and feel, so how come I am complaining here? Because I am tired of the "hey, doesn't this look like a 1952 card - AGAIN" set-up. Do Heritage, I like the idea of Heritage, but you know, the 50's were a WHOLE DECADE. You have TEN YEARS of card styles to choose from... Please, for the love of Pete, pick another....

Topps Finest - Remember when Topps Finest were the coolest card out there, with the protective film over them and all? What happened to that? I mean, these are nice enough cards - bright white, silver accents, thick card stock - but "finest?" Are we saying the PLAYER'S are the finest, or the CARDS are the finest? Back in the day, the card themselves WERE the finest - very cool. I do like the "2006 Finest Moment" blurb on the back, though. A little highlight from the player's previous year. Yes, there is a mini pic back there, too... One thing I do like about the card's style is the "out of the frame" appearance (see the bat and helmet extend beyond the card's "border?"). Nice touch!

Happy Labor Day! Hope you enjoyed the run-down... :-)