Monday, June 29, 2009

HOF Career Review: Robin Yount

It is well documented that some players live in the spotlight, and their Hall of Fame resume seems predestined even while they are playing in their prime (see Jeter, Derek; Pujols, Albert). Then there are others who played in relative obscurity, showing loyalty to their team and fans, and having the longevity to warrant inclusion in Cooperstown. Robin Yount falls into this latter category of baseball superstars.

Yount played all 20 seasons of his career in Milwaukee. Of his many feats, one of his most impressive was his successful conversion from SS to CF midway through his career. Yount won two MVP awards, most notably in 1982 when he led the Brewers to their only World Series appearance. While he was not a classic power hitter, he did hit 251 homers in his brilliant career, while accummulating more than 3100 hits. As can be said of many a small market player, Yount's profile would have been huge had he played in New York or Chicago. As it was, he was an outstanding player, most definitely deserving of the honors he received.

Additionally, he was one of four future Hall of Fame players to make their Topps debut in the 1975 set. As a result, the '75 set is often considered one of the most important Topps sets of all time. Yount's card is the second most valuable from the set, behind only George Brett. Here is card #223.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

HOF Review: Mr. Padre

Today, being Father's Day, is a great time to reflect on the most famous "Padre" of the team's relatively short existence, Tony Gwynn.  I had a real appreciation for Gwynn as a youngster, because he did the right things by staying with his original team his entire career, and he was a hitter, not merely a slugger.  In these times, players like Gwynn and Wade Boggs should be respected for the way they played the game.

Gwynn was a 15-time All Star, 7-time Silver Slugger winner, and somewhat surprisingly a 5-time Gold Glove winner.  He led the NL in hitting eight times, and I am saddened by memories of the 1994 season, when he hit .394 and us fans were left to wonder what could have been.  There was no other player of the era who was more deserving of hitting .400, although today I am certainly rooting for Joe Mauer to beat that mark.

His 1983 rookie cards are relatively inexpensive compared to his contemporaries of the era.  But the 1983 Topps set marked the debut of three world class hitters, with Sandberg and Boggs joining Gwynn in this desirable set.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Latest Sandberg Addition: 2009 Topps Variation

While I am not the biggest fan of Topps' expansive use of variation cards in its base set, I had to pick up Mr. Sandberg's #350. Even as a Hall of Fame and Topps collector, I still find it hard to justify the significant financial undertaking to obtain a complete set of the variation cards. But I can certainly make exceptions for truly exceptional players, of which Ryno must be included.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

2007 Topps Flashback Fridays Insert Set Review

I recently picked up the 25-card Flashback Fridays set from 2007 Topps. For all of $0.50, I was able to get an interesting looking set with many future Hall of Famers such as Ken Griffey, Chipper Jones, and Derek Jeter. The sets feature a retro look, with the featured player depicted in black and white (for the most part) in front of a colorful stadium depiction. The backs of the cards feature a Goudey-style paragraph about the player, rather than a statistical grid.

One question for the readers--does anyone know if this set was modeled after a particular past set, or was this an original Topps retro creation?

Friday, June 12, 2009

2009 Topps Career Best Legends of the Game Insert Set Review

As you may have surmised by the title of this blog, I am a sucker for a reasonably priced set of Hall of Famer cards, especially with a great design by Topps. While Topps has perhaps gone overboard with its Hall of Fame issues this year (Legends of the Game set, Variation inserts, Turkey Red inserts), I couldn't resist picking up the 15-card Career Best insert set with Series 2. The sepia look is appealing, as are the actual subjects of the set. Here are six of my favorites from the insert set.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Future HOF RC Review: Mike Piazza and Frank Thomas

While much of the talk in this era surrounds who took performance enhancing drugs and whether that suspicion or fact should preclude admission into the Hall of Fame, I have become much more choosy about which recent players I am collecting. The two players listed here have had absolutely no ties to PEDs, and each of them displayed a natural talent at their respective positions and should be first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Mike Piazza will always be a Dodger to me, despite his exploits with the Mets. A 12-time All Star, Piazza finished his brilliant career with a .308 average and 427 home runs. While his defense may have left something to be desired, he gets extra credit for longevity in my book for his catching duties.

Frank Thomas was undeniably one of the biggest stars of the 1990s. He won 2 MVP awards and was an AL Top 10 vote getter for the award an additional 7 times. Somewhat surprisingly, Thomas was only an All Star five times, although part of that was his relatively cold relationship with the press and the strength of American League first basemen in the era (Mo Vaughn, John Olerud, Jim Thome, and Rafael Palmeiro are among those who were deemed better players for the All Star game at the time).

The two cards I picked up have both been on my wish list for some time. The Piazza RC card is from 1992 Fleer Update, and the Thomas RC card is his most valuable RC, the 1990 Leaf.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Latest Additions to My Ron Santo Collection

Unlike my Sandberg collection, which is relatively complete, I have only recently started collecting Ron Santo cards. My goal is to have a complete "Topps Anthology" of all of his original Topps cards from 1961-1975. I put a good dent in my collection with a trip to my local card shop on Saturday, where I came away with four Topps cards, as well as a recent card.

The Topps additions include his final two cards (1974 Traded and 1975), both in a White Sox uniform (albeit one airbrushed). The two other cards are from 1970 and 1972, plus a nice looking Fleer Greats. By my calculations, I have twenty more cards to go. I do have Santo's rookie card (which was an awesome birthday gift from my wife last year), so the investment shouldn't be too significant.

Happy Collecting.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Latest Sandberg Addition: 2009 Topps Legends of the Game

I recently picked up both the Series 1 and Series 2 Topps Legends of the Game subsets (50 cards in total). Of course, my favorite card is Mr. Sandberg. Ryno is the only Cub featured in the series, although Greg Maddux is featured in a throwback Braves jersey.

Up next in my ongoing quest is to pick up Sandberg's 2009 Topps SP Variation #350. I would try to collect all of the Topps Variations, but that would break the bank.