Wednesday, May 29, 2013

1991 Topps Superstar Stand-Up Tony Gwynn #18

Since I'm always on the watch for the different and unique, especially when it comes to Tony Gwynn, I recently added yet another oddball item to my Gwynn collection.
The 1991 Topps Stand-Ups Tony Gwynn, #18, was part of a 36-piece test issue. Measuring 2-1/16 inches wide and 2-9/16 inches tall, they consist of a hard plastic case filled with baseball-shaped, sweet tart-like candy. Some folks say they're formed in the general shape of a head and shoulders, but to me, they just look like a baseball on a pedestal.
Stand-Ups were sold 36 "dispensers" to a box, each in its own color-printed paper envelope. There were 36 players within this set, ranging (alphabetically), from Jim Abbott to Robin Yount. I have no idea what the collation may have been like.
Being a member of the National League, the Gwynn Stand-Up is green. While American League players featured a red case, there was also a rarer clear, or non-colored, plastic container created for all 36 players in the set.
The label attached to the front has the player’s photo with his team name in a banner above and the player’s name in a strip at the bottom. The backs feature a baseball design, and since they were issued in 1991, they include the ever-present Topps 40th anniversary logo at the top center of the baseball.
The back also included the player's name,  team and position (color bars at the bottom), along with the dispenser (card) number at left. Located within the center, was the player’s height, weight, birthday, batting and throwing preference, and the year and number of his Topps rookie card.
The candy dispensed from the bottom. My "dispenser," doesn't have a single piece of candy in it - it's just an empty shell.
It's probably just as well. Can you imagine what the candy would taste like now, 22 years later?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hitting the Padres mother load, 25-cents style

Last Sunday, I hit the Urbandale American Legion monthly card show. I mentioned how I amassed a mess of Padres cards from the dime box, building my own "Leaning Tower of Padres," at one dealers' table alone.
Howver, as I mentioned, much to my wife’s displeasure, I wasn’t done yet. The last table, with the  two, 5,000-count boxes full of 25-cent cards had a plethora of Padres pleasures.
 For starters, I found a whole mess of 2012 Bowman Sterling, including these Purple Refractors< I was also able to add a purple Jonathan Galvez, as well. There were also some 2012 Bowmans Best Padres, as well as some Bowman Chrome that I was a little deficient in.
2012 Bowman Sterling Top Prospects were also among the order of the day. I was also able to stock up on these young Padres - Spangenberg, Sampson and Erlin - and was quite happy with them.

Finally, I found a group of 2012 Panini Prizm Padres, including a Joe Wieland RC and this Chase Headley card. I also was able to pick up a few 2012 Topps Chrome Orange Refractors, including this Kyle Blanks. The thing I love about this card, is it reminds me of a Joe DiMaggio shot, taken in front of his homefront crowds. However, in this case, there's no place like Petco!

I was also able to collect the whole Padres team set of 2012 Topps Chrome Gold Sparkles, as well as almost all of the Padres 2012 Bowman Sterling team set, including some nice RCs.

Despite my love of all things Padres, I was also able to pick up some trade bait. As much as I hate to admit it, Man cannot live on Padres, alone!

All-in-all, Urbandale, as usual, was a great experience. And well worth the visit.

Just don't ask my wife for her opinion of the trip...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hitting the Padres mother lode

Last Sunday was a great day. I was able to catch the last game of the Iowa Cubs – Tucson Padres series, had brunch at the ballpark, and best of all, was able to indulge my sweet tooth for Padres cardboard at the Urbandale American Legion monthly card show.
Between this show and the one at the mall, I enjoy this one much, much more. The vendors are friendlier, they’re more talkative and they go out of their way to help you find what you’re looking for, whether it’s a particular team, player, or card set.

I hit the mother lode at the very first table I stopped, as there were about a dozen, 5.000-count boxes full of dime cards, each row marked by team. I started salivating when I saw the whole row of Padres cards eagerly awaiting my searching. There were 2007 Topps ‘52, 2004 Playoff Prestige, 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom, 2011 Bowman Futures and 2009 SP Authentic, to name just a few.
A few of the nicer cards I found...
 I really like the drawings on the Topps National Chicle. You can't help but love the Brown and Gold uni on Adrian, while Blanks looks like he's getting ready for the Kiss Cam video promotion. As for Randy Jones, he's one of my favorite Padres, so it was indeed kismet, when I found this 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites.
Digging a little further down, I kept finding more and more cards I didn't have, so my pile became higher and higher, which I soon dubbed, "The Leaning Tower of Padres." I soon came across this 2010 Allen and Ginter Headley SP, a 2008 Upper Deck Timeline Josh Banks RC, and a 2007 Just Autographs Wade LeBlanc. You can never have enough nice, young players in your collection.
Within less than an hour, I had gone through his entire Padres collection. I think Topps Heritage is one set that really does things well. I love the wooden borders on the 2011 Topps Heritage set, so I added Aaron Harang (his soul patch really sets this card off) and a few other Pads to the pile. I was also lucky enough to find a few Gwynns for my collection, including this 2005 Leaf Sportscasters Teal Fielding-Ball #24/45. There are so many different print runs and colors to this set, it was nice to find another different card to add to the Gwynn gathering.
When I was done pawing through the Padres box (emptying it of about three-quarters of the cards), I joked with the dealer that I didn't want to spend all my allowance at the first table I came across. He laughed and then brought out a 2,000-count box, this one full of 2012 Topps Heritage Minor, so I was able to load up on a bunch of Padres minor leaguers – Austin Hedges, Casey Kelly, Rico Noel, Jace Peterson, Abys Portillo, Kevin Quackenbush, Donn Roach and Cory Spangenberg. I also picked up plenty of copies for trade/gifts.
Oh yeah, he also threw in a 2011 Limited Draft Hits Signatures Cory Spangenberg #18/149, for $2.  
Much to my wife’s displeasure, I wasn’t done yet. The last table I stopped at, had two, 5,000-count boxes full of 25-cent cards. The joys found within these card boxes, however, I’ll save for my next column.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Grandal sighting in Des Moines, Iowa

There was a Yasmani Grandal sighting in Des Moines, Iowa over the weekend. And I don't mean the Gypsy Queen autographed jersey card I almost bought at the Urbandale card show on Sunday...
In reality, I mean Yasmani Grandal back in a Padres uniform, albeit a Tucson Padre uni. Apparently Grandal's 50-game suspension is up, becuase he nade an apperance at Sunday May 19th's Tucson Padres - Iowa Cubs game at Principal Park in Des Moines. After warming up RHP Nick Vincent in the Padres bullpen, Grandal dumped his equipment and raced to the Tucson dugout.
He then pinch-hit for Vincent to lead off the 9th inning, While he didn't look uncomfortable at the plate, he still ended up striking out in the final game of the four game set.
While we weren't able to attend Friday or Saturday's games, it seems Grandal played his first game of the season on Saturday, playing catcher and earning two hits in four at bats, including a RBI, singling to center and bringing home LF Mike Wilson.

Tucson has since departed Des Moines, opening up a four-game series in Omaha. My wife and I did enjoy the pair of games we saw and yes, we did take a bit of good-natured guff for wearing our Padres gear.

While the Padres split the four-game series with the I-Cubs, losing the two games we were at, one of the biggest disappointments was the  Classic Baseball Cards giveaway on Sunday. I was hoping to get some nice minor league cards (even if they would have been the I-Cubs), but instead, my wife received a package with 39, 1986 Topps cards and I received 25, 1990 Fleer baseball cards. At least mine had five Padres cards - Eric Show, Mark Parent, Carmelo Martinez, Mark Grant, and Joey Cora.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Opening salvo of the Tucson - I-Cubs series

On opening night of the Tucson-Iowa series, it took a rehabbing Matt Garza to keep the Padres bats in check, as Iowa won 1-0. Garza three-hit Tucson, as the I-Cubs picked up their lone run on a sacrifice fly by SS Donnie Murphy.

Clayton Richard got the start for the Padres, and except for givng up three straight singles in the second inning, topped by Murphy's sac fly, he held the Cubbies to four hits, with eight strikeouts. When he was hit, he was hit hard.

Tucson had a few bright moments however. Here, 1B Brandon Allen gets a Cubbie caught in a rundown. Allen and C Rene Rivera led the Padres bats, with a pair of hits apiece. Rivera looked pretty good behind the plate, handling Richards, Brad Boxberger and Tommy Layne.

We're hoping to see Sunday's final game of the series, but the weather doesn't look good for Sunday. Otherwise, we're thinking of possibly heading out again tomorrow.
All in all, it was a good game, our first outing of the season.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tucson's coming to town!

One nice thing about living in a large metropolitan area, such as Des Moines, is having access to minor league baseball. Here in the Hawkeye state capital, the Iowa Cubs reign supreme, more than 300 miles from their Chi-town parent club.
While I enjoy taking in the occasional I-Cub game, what makes this weekend special, is the Tucson Padres, San Diego’s Triple A affiliate, are in town for a four-game series, May 16-19.
Since Tucson is in the Pacific Coast League, we only get to see them play here every-other-year. We caught a couple of T-Pads games in 2011, and last year the games were in Kino Stadium.
You can rest assured we’ll be sporting our Padres colors at Sec Taylor Stadium.
Thursday night’s promos include dollar hot dogs, live music (90 minutes before the game), mug night and Wells Fargo 2-for-1 tickets. Friday night games always end with a fireworks show, while Saturday, we can expect Gildan Night (I have no idea what in the heck that is), as well as Great Clips charity clips. The Tucson series ends with Classic Baseball Cards, Family Day, Food Pantry Day and Safeco Run the Bases (where kids can tear around the basepaths following the game).
I’m planning on bringing my camera to the game and hope to get some decent action shots to post on my blog. I’m hoping Robbie Erlin or Tyson Ross pitch this weekend, and I can get a nice picture of Kyle Blanks or Jonathan Galvez at the plate. Matt Garza’s pitching for Iowa tomorrow, but Tucson’s pitchers are TBD through the weekend.
As for autographs, I’ll have to see, my wife gets bored if we get to the game too early.
All in all, I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

1992 High 5 Tony Gwynn decal

 I've finally set about organizing my Tony Gwynn cards. Before, they were inventoried and then tossed into a 200-count box - the right side were the good Gwynn cards and the left side, my copies and the ones I can't quite figure out exactly what they are.

Now, they're inventoried and grouped by issue year. Now, it's so easy to find whatever Gwynn card I'm looking for.

Going through them, one of the oddest cards I've found, is not really a card at all, but rather a static cling,. I'm talking about the 1992 High 5 Removeable Decal. My copy has no backing on it, and in a minute, I'll tell you why.

In 1992, Original Products, Inc. issued several sets of static decals featuring random Major League Baseball superstars and team sets. OP was a California corporation which produced and marketed vinyl products depicting popular TV stars, musical entertainers and professional athletes.

These decals came either on sheets with five player "cards" and a log, or as a 'Superstar" sheet with five players and the "Superstar Collection" logo. These sheets cost $2.99 each and the backing paper had a 5"x7" color photo that could be cut out and framed. The decals were unnumbered.

The pack containing Tony Gwynn was part of the five-decal set with Barry Bonds, Dave Justice, Darryl Strawberry and Ron Gant. The 5"x7" photo on the back was Dave Justice.

If you wanted to keep the decals with its backing intact, you had to cut each decal individually, which ruined the photo. There aren't too many collectors willing to do that, so my card, as I stated earlier, has no backing.

Makes for some pretty interesting card history, eh?

Monday, May 6, 2013

1991 Padres Desert Shield Cards

My most humblest apologies for not writing sooner, but two weeks of annual training and a busted computer took its toll on me. However AT is now over and I actually fixed the busted screen myself, so all is well again.

Recently, I received some cards in the mail I had originally been looking for more than 20 years. Thanks to a handy E-Bay purchase, I was able to find nine of these 27 cards.

But first, a little background - In 1991, Topps took its 1991 base set, added a gold, Desert Shield logo to the upper right-hand corner  and sent them overseas to American troops during Operation Desert Shield in 1991. This set was then distributed in 15-card packs.

When I was called up for Desert Shield/Storm, I was sent to Daharan, Saudi Arabia, to serve with the 593rd Area Support Group. One of the first things I did was search out those Soldiers who had been there the longest, to see if they had any packs of Desert Shield cards.

 “No luck,” many of them told me. Either they weren’t interested in them, they didn’t want to carry them around in the field, they traded them away for better MRE items, or threw them into the burn barrels. One guy told me of a friend who had to burn two cases of them at the base he was stationed at because the commander didn’t want them “sitting around in the supply room.”

Well, at least now, I have a nice start on finally collecting these cards. Some, like the Gwynn card, are going to be hard to come by, but we'll see. I've waited more  than 20 years so far.

Finally, if I may, let us have a brief moment of silence for Storm Thorgerson, 69, the British graphic artist best known for designing the surreal album art for Pink Floyd, who recently passed away. Thorgerson attended school with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and Syd Barrett, was a teenage friend of David Gilmour and, later, became the band's main designer.

His iconic covers include the inflatable pig flying over London for “Animals” and the rainbow of light emerging from a prism on “The Dark Side of the Moon,” considered among the greatest album covers of all time. I must have gone through three albums of the “Dark Side” alone,  during the days of my mis-spent youth.

R.I.P. Storm Thorgerson. R.I.P