Wednesday, April 29, 2020

1990 Classic Baseball

In football and hockey, I believe Pro Set ranks at the top of the list of "junk" wax, with unlimited print runs. While the set produced a few interesting rookie cards, such as Barry Sanders, Michael Irvin, Marv Levy and Deion Sanders, overall, I thought the 1989 set was pretty unimaginiative.

While digging through the boxes of cards I still have piled up around the basement, I came across one of baseball's versions of Pro Set - Classic, published by Classic Games. 

Created as a sports trivia board game, cards consist of five questions on the back, each good for a base hit, or a homer. You spun a spinner to see which type of hit you could try for, and then consult the card for your trivia question. The bigger the hit, the harder the question.

Of the hundreds of different cards that were produced, the company actually made some "Automatic Grand Slam" cards, which, believe it or not, could allow you to "slug" a grand slam, with no one on base.

In 1990, Classic made a Yellow Travel set of 100 cards (actually 99, with one unnumbered card), a Blue set (150 cards), Classic Update (t0 cards) and a Classic Draft Picks (25). 

I think everyone has to have a few of these cards laying around, as it seemed as if the print runs were astronomical and you could find them almost anywhere back in the '90s. According to the information I've been able to find, the blue with pink cards were produced in approximately 200,000 sets.

But, let's start out with the Classic Yellow Travel edition (with the blue lines). If you were looking to complete a set, forget about it, as the #51 card of Willie Blair was never issued. The card without a number, which also has a blank, blue back, features picturres of  Frank Viola, the "Texas Heat" duo of Nolan Ryan and his son Reid, and then Don Mattingly and Chipper Jones. That Texas Heat picture is also featured on card #T91.

The only three San Diego Padres depicted on the 1990 Classic Yellow set are Fred Lynn (#T59), Shawn Abner (#T20), and Greg Harris (#T13). As for 1990, it would be the only year Lynn would play for the Friars.

There would be a total of seven Padres within the 1990 Classic Blue set, with Tony Gwynn (#17), Roberto Alomar (#61), Andy Benes (#120), and Bruce Hurst (#102).

And finally, here's the three Padres from the 1990 Classic Update Pink with Blue set - Benito Santiago (#T44), Jerald Clark (#T10), and Joe Carter (#T9),

At the very least, this was an interesting concept and I think I played the game once. If I remember right, I thought it was pretty boring - it kind of reminded of the old "Bible Baseball" game we played when we were younger.

Stay healthy and safe out there.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The last pitcher of record to hit a walk-off homer to win the game?

If there's any team in baseball that's just chock-full of arcane bits of trivial information, it would have to be the San Diego Padres.

For example, did you know that up until August 15, 2015, the Padres and the Miami Marlins shared the distinction of being the only two teams in MLB history yet to have a player hit for the cycle.

While San Diego batters had been one hit shy of the cycle 361 times, with 258 of those falling a triple short, Matt Kemp was able to put it all together on that particular day. Considering the Padres have a 24-year head start on the Miami franchise, not having a player hit for the cycle until the team's 7,444th game, isn't a record you'd care to brag about.

Until June 1, 2012, the Padres were only one of two MLB teams yet to have a pitcher toss a no-hitter. On that day, Johan Santana, became the first New York Mets pitcher to throw a no-no after more than a half century and 8,020 Mets games. Even  more impressive, he did so against the defending World Series champs, St. Louis Cardinals.

By comparison, the Padres have thrown 30 one-hitters in their history and have carried no-hitters into the eighth inning of 19 games. If you want to look at it another way, San Diego has gone nearly 7,300 regular season games (as well as 34 postseason games) without having a no-hitter to their credit.

Jordan Lyles (7 1/3), Kirby Yates (1/3) and Brad Hand (1 1/3) were the latest Padres to fall victim, having a May 15, 2018 no-hitter broken up at Petco Park by Colorado's Trevor Story with a one-out, eighth-inning single off Lyles. However, as you may well know, close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.

By the same token, the Padres have been no-hit 10 games, with two of those courtesy of San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (2013, 2014).

And now, you can add another head-scratching trivia question to your vast vault of arcane baseball knowledge.

Who was the last pitcher of record to hit a walk-off homer to win the game?

The answer came courtesy of the New Orleans-based Junior Junkie, who writes the cool blog, The Junior Junkie: the Baseball Cards of Ken Griffey. Recently, I found a package of Padres cards he had sent me a few years ago.

This was my first trade with Junior and it was a great first package of Padres palyers. But one of those cards intrigued me, as it was a hand-signed, privately-printed card of San Diego pitcher Craig Lefferts, expressing his Christian faith.

 In researching this single card, I came across a really neat story of this German-born Padre.

More than 30 years ago, on April 25, 1986 (Happy Anniversary), Craig Lefferts, a Padres reliever, arrived at Jack Murphy Stadium with a 102-degree fever. Since he wasn't scheduled to pitch against the Giants that day, he hung out in the trainer's room hoping to keep cool, rested and hydrated.

Funny how things work out, though. In the top of the 9th, Goose Gossage blows a 7-5 Padres lead, allowing the Giants to tie the game. Lefferts, who was instructed to get ready in the seventh inning comes in to pitch the top of the 11th. He allows one hit and the game remains tied, 7-7.

The Giants' Greg Minton, who entered the game himself in the bottom of the 10th, continues the bottom of the 11th with another one-hit, no-run inning. Lefferts responds  in the top of the 12th by allowing a run on two hits by Jeffrey Leonard and Robby Thompson and trails 8-7.

Minton, who holds the record for the most consecutive innings pitched without allowing a home run (269.1 innings, June 1, 1979 through May 1, 1982), gives up a homer in the Padres' half of the 12th, to pinch-hitter Graig Nettles to start the inning. After inducing Garry Templeton into a groundout, Lefferts comes to bat, with the score knotted 8-8, with the bases empty and one out.

Minton goes ahead 0-2 on the count, throwing a pair of sinker balls, one for a strike, the second a foul ball. Lefferts then gets a slightly-hanging curve ball, which he then deposits into the stands for a 9-8 Padres win.

For Lefferts, it was his only home run among his 132 career MLB at bats - It was also the 10th time where a pitcher hit a walk-off homer for the win. (By the way, the first came may 30, 1957, when Detroit's Lou Sleater hit a homer off of Kansas City's Wally Burnette for the 6-5 win).

Happy Anniversary Craig.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Be sure to support your local card shops

I'm telling you, the first thing I think I'm going to do when we're free to move about the country again, is visit a local card shop. And I have one particular shop in mind.

Even though I live in Des Moines, Iowa, I'm a river rat, born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. We try to hit the Rock Island Arsenal Commissary and PX for some shopping every other month, or so, and then hit up either Rudy's Tacos for lunch, or Whitey's Ice Cream Parlor for some sweet snacks.

And, you guessed it, I try to stop by a Davenport card shop, in this case, Midwest Collectables. It's not too far from my sister-in-law's place, so it gives my wife something to do while I spend my usual 1-2 hours rooting through a card shop.

Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, I think I was last there in January when we took my sister-in-law out for dinner.

I really like the place. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, the shop is well-lit and well stocked with sports cards, comics and supplies. There's usually a few of the regular customers hanging around, and I love hearing the sports talk and Hawkeye chat, as well as the local neighborhood gossip.

One thing I particularly like about Midwest, is their $1 and $.25 tubs. If you do a bit a of digging, you can find almost anything. One thing that particularly helps with your searching, is the fact they add the year to the front of their clear grab bags. There's usually 9 cards in the baseball grab bags, and 8-14 football cards. Occasionally, they'll have hockey too.

Here are a few of the packs I happened to pick up on that trip.

For example, I found these 1969 Topps baseball cards in the $1 tub. They're not in mint condition, a few are mis-cut, a few have scratches and light creases, but that's ok. It's a chance to actually see and hold some early baseball cards.

In that same $1 tub, I found this plastic case with 13, 1959 Topps baseball cards within it.

Like I said earlier, I can't wait for this epidemic to be over so I can actually shop at a real card shop, other than the card racks of Wal-Mart or Target for some nice, cardboard goodies.

Stay healthy and safe out there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

My first Tony Gwynn auto

Even though I have more than 900 Tony Gwynn cards, ranging from his 1982 TCMA Hawaii Islanders "Rookie" (#10) card, to his 2015 Panini National Convention VIP Party (#59) card, I've as yet to own a Tony Gwynn autograph card.

Since we usually make a trip to San Diego every three to four years or so, I always figured we'd catch a San Diego State game and try and get an autograph from Coach Gwynn during our "next" visit. 

I guess it wasn't meant to be, with Tony's untimely demise due to salivary gland cancer on June 16, 2014. Unfortunately, what makes that date stick out in my mind even more, is the fact it's also my wife's birthday. 

That changed late last year, thanks to COM, I had been assisting with their card inventory, and for every 50 cards you inventory correctly, you get 100 points, and every 1,000 points earned, is worth $1 of store cred. I haven't worked with the COMC inventory in quite some time, but at that point, I was
at 982,600 points, which was good for 37th overall on the leaderboard.

So, armed with a hefty bankroll, I decided to scratch my Gwynn autograph itch, and ordered a 2005 Timeless Treasures Silver Autograph (#19). The photo featured Gwynn in his typical batting stance, looking to put the ball into play between third and short (his "5.5" hole), as well as a nice, crisp, clean autograph. 

As you can see, it's also numbered to 50 (#43/50). Another homage to his hitting prowess can be found on the back of the card, which reads, "Only once in 20 seasons, did Gwynn strike out more than 35 times."

While shopping, I also decided to pick up this 2009 Topps Legends of the Game Manufactured Commemorative Patch 1985 MLB All-Star Game (#LPR87).While I'm not a huge "manufactured patch" fan, I figured what the heck. The price was nice.

So there you have it, the first "Mr. Padres" autograph card to grace my Gwynn collection...And one I definitely love!

Stay healthy and safe out there.

Monday, April 20, 2020

December COMC haul

Well it's official - Our remaining school year has now been cancelled. (and along with it, all spring high school sports). That means more time sitting at home.

On one hand, I'm still getting paid by our district, so I can take the time to continue organizing my card collection. However, on the other hand, that get's rather tedious at times, and I'm trying to work with some of my other hobbies, such as writing, Legos, and polymer clay. My wife, on yet another hand, is getting jealous of all my spare time (we've been off since mid-March), especially since she still has to go to work at her office. 

Other than the occasional foray for groceries and walking the dog, I don't get out much. I do try to at least grab a pack or two of cards when I do make it out (Target rack packs).

Thank goodness you can still order cards from COMC. While there are slight delays in shipping, that's not a problem, as I always try to hold off on shipping anyway, until I can get about 50-75 cards delivered. These cards represent a haul I had ordered last December from the Redmond, Wash.-based company.

Let's start out with these Padres goodies. Here's a 2014 Classics Significant Signatures Silver Austin Hedges (#5) S/N 172/299; 2017 Donruss Signature Series Red Manny Margot (#SSMM) S/N 30/99; 2016 Donruss Optic Rated Rookies Signatures Holo Travis Jankowski (#33 ) S/N 99/150: and a 2017 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Carlos Asuaje (#RACAS).

2017 Stadium Club Autographs Ryan Schimpf (#SCARSF); 2017 Donruss Optic Jose Rondon Autograph (#175); 2016 Donruss Optic #173 Alex Dickerson RC Autograph (#173); and a 2009 Topps Career Best Autographs Heath Bell (#UPD).

2016 Topps Strata Clearly Authentic Autograph relics Tyson Ross (#CAARTR); 2016 Topps Triple Threads Unity Jumbo Relic Autographs Silver James Shields (#UAJRJSH) S/N 23/75; 2015 Elite Future Threads Signatures Odrisamer Despaigne (#21) S/N 298/299; and a 2002 Bowman's Best Bat RC Josh Barfield (#128).

I then picked up some Desert Shield San Diego Padres. Darrin Jackson (#373); Jerald Clark (#513); Jack Clark (#650); Mark Parent (#358); Fred Lynn (#586), and 

Phil Stephenson (#726); Calvin Schiraldi (424); Benny Santiago (#760); and Bip Roberts (#538). This pretty much completes my Desert Shield Padres collection, with the Tony Gwynn being the lone exception.

Stay healthy and safe out there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Debut of "Comatoad on Cards"

Since retiring from the military, I've been a Special Education Associate for the Johnston (Iowa) Community School District. Our Spring break was to run March 16-20, but then who would have guessed this Coronavirus thing would so quickly become a pandemic. To make a long story short, our governor closed all schools until April 30. Iowa has not had a "shelter in place" proclamation, but we still can't congregate in groups larger than 10, so I've been spending quite a bit of time here at home.

My wife, who works for Iowa PBS, on the state's Foundation side, has been able to work both at home and office. Other than an occasional trip to the grocery store, taking the dog out for a walk, or to pick up the odd carry out meal, we've been biding our time watching TV, reading, and playing with LEGOS.

This is my LEGO representation of those toilet paper hoarders out there. They know who they are.

We're also track and field officials, working the throws events. All of our high school meets have been cancelled, as well as the Drake Relays and the other college meets we would normally officiate. So our 2020 outdoor season is pretty much toast.

Since it seems as if I now have plenty of time on my hands, I've decided to resume my latent blogging abilities, with "Comatoad on Cards." I chose the title because A) Comatoad is my nickname/logo/handle; B) Comamtoad is acually laying on cards; and C) I actually enjoy talking about cards. Get it?

This, by no means represents the end of "Bleedin' Brown and Gold." After all, I do indeed bleed brown and gold for my beloved San Diego Padres.

However, I also felt I was doing a great disservice to the other cards I was collecting, especially since  I was just beginning my track and field card collection. Besides anything and everything San Diego Padres, I still like my early Green Bay Packers cards (pre-1972)...and hockey cards...and comic books...and Batman cards...and the occasional other non-sports issue...You can see where this is heading.

So I'll get started with a few cards I've picked up over the past few months.

If you're a true Batman fan, how can you not like the Clown Prince of Crime? I picked up this Nature Made  DC Comics Super Heroes The Joker (#11) off E-bay.

Ever the fan of COMC, I picked up the bottom two "Black Bat" Batman cards, "Robin in Action" (#18), and "Robin is Kidnapped" (#29). I only have a few of the Black bats, as well as a couple of the Blue Bats, so these are a couple of sets I'll eventually be working on..

A friend of mine actually sent this 2013 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Relic Ashton Eaton memorabilia card (#M-AE) to me. A University of Oregon Duck. Eaton is a two-time Olympic champion, who holds the world record in the indoor heptathlon.

While it felt good to be tapping away at the keyboard again and looking at cards, I have every intent to continue this on a more consistent basis. 

Until then, keep safe and keep healthy.