Wednesday, November 30, 2011

1997 New Pinnacle Spellbound

Set size: 50 cards, with each player between 4 and 7 cards

Front Design: A swirling etched-foil design from the center of the card is covered by a letter from the player's name or nickname, which is outlined in gold foil and contains a color photo of the player. The player's name is at the bottom in gold foil, beneath the name of the set and the letters for that player in white. The position of the letter on the card is highlighted in yellow. Gold foil in the middle of the vertical borders spells out the word "SPELLBOUND" when the player's cards are placed in order.

Back Design: A grey swirling background copying the front design is behind a rectangular box with a color photo; the card number and set name is above, and an oval box at the bottom of the photo identifies the location of the letter.

Parallels and Similars: There are additional Spellbound sets in future issues, including a 1997 racing set.

Distribution: Cards were inserted 1:19 packs of New Pinnacle.

Thoughts: This concept would be taken several steps further in the future with the Letterman patch cards, and depending on your tastes, this version could be much better. It's less expensive, if you can locate the cards for your favorite player, though cards for players like Cal Ripken book as high as $15 each. The micro-etched foil screams late-90's insert gaudiness, and a series of these in a matted frame would look great on the wall.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2000 Upper Deck Hitter's Club

Set size: 90 cards

Front Design: Half the set is composed of subsets, so it's difficult to identify a card simply. There is no notation that this subset is part of "Hitter's Club" either. Regular cards contain a busy design of horizontal lines, with the text "Hitter's Club" in foil towards the bottom of the card. The player's name and team also appear at the bottom, with the position in an upper corner in silver foil, and his batting average in foil in the middle-left of the card. This Hitting The Show subset card uses green foil, with the subset name at the bottom. Jagged corners make it look like the photo is "breaking." The player's name is in the upper-left corner in green foil, and the Upper Deck logo is in the upper-right corner with the same green foil.

Back Design: Regular Hitter's Club backs copy the bottom design to the bottom back of the card, with statistics, vitals, and a short biography over a background photo. This subset contains a photo in the upper left, used again as a background image behind a short biography, vitals, and statistics. Note that Hitting the Show is a rookie-oriented subset, and the other major subset, Why 3K?,  features players in the 3000-hit club.

Parallels and Similars: There are no parallels in this issue, and I don't believe Upper Deck issued this set again.

Distribution: This was a retail-only issue, with 5 cards in a $2.99 pack. There were six insert sets, an autograph set with an impressive checklist, and A Piece Of History series relic cards randomly inserted.

Thoughts: This is one of many forgettable sets Upper Deck issued around the turn of the century. The design is just plain ugly, though I get the idea - feature some of the best hitters in the game in their own 90-card set. The green foil is somewhat amusing, though, since you don't see it used on cards too often.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2007 Topps Rookies 52 Signatures

Set size: 66 cards

Front Design: The set mimics the 1952 Topps design, with a color photo inside a black frame, and a star-bordered black and white box at the bottom containing the player's name and an authentic autograph. The team logo is placed over the upper-left corner of the autograph box; the cards have white borders.

Back Design: A red box at the top of the card has "white" (really, it's grey/brown cardstock color) text including the player's full name and biographical data. Beneath that is a short career paragraph and the player's past year and lifetime statistics. An authentication hologram is in the lower left corner, with copyright and trademark information filling the rest of the bottom of the card.

Parallels and Similars: As mentioned before, the card set is designed to look like the 1952 Topps set, and is a parallel of sorts of the regular "52 Style" set. A parallel exists of this set with red signatures on the front.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2007 Topps Rookies 52 Style cards. Three autographed cards were included in every 20-pack box of the product.

Thoughts: The 1952 design is perfect for on-card autographs, and this year's Lineage autographs help reiterate that fact (other than those giant boxes for the sticker autographs). The set focused on rookies, which means a box is really hit-or-miss with the quality of autographs. However, the set focused only on real rookies, and many of the players have gone on to have successful careers, including 2011 MVP Ryan Braun. That said, the 1952 Topps design is used over and over again, and it can become somewhat tiring. If your favorite 2007ish rookie is in the autograph checklist, then this might be the card to have, simply for the look.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Japanese Menko UPDATE: JCM 2: 1948 Baseball Back

 Set size: 19+ cards (10 baseball), 1-1/2" x 2-3/8"

Front Design: A color cartoon depicting actual players or a generic team member is on the front, with Japanese text identifying the player and/or the team.

Back Design: The blue ink backs have a solid baseball with three crossed bats behind it, containing a mitt, trophy, and the words "BASE BALL". A menko number (math equation) is in a rectangular box at the bottom.

Parallels and Similars: This menko is easily distinguished from other menko issues by the large blue baseball and text on the back.

Distribution: It's unknown how these menko were distributed, but most menko were packaged in hanging bags, usually sold in uncut sheets of 2, 4, or larger. Most cards were hand-cut by someone along the way - the manufacturers, shop owners, or collectors.

Thoughts: These are wonderful, colorful cards. There will be many more to come. I have a record of 178 unique menko sets, and while I'm in Japan I hope I'm able to acquire and show most of them to you. This particular issue is not really scarce, other than a few cards. Using the math equations on the back, I'm able to determine that the card with the 7521x10 menko is either Testuharu Kawakami or Michinori Tsubouchi, while the other menko (6465x39) is either Torao Ooka or a generic Kyuei player (my guess: it's the generic player). It's always good to have a bit more information on the unknown cards in my collection! (And, 1 menko set down, 177 to go!) The set is given the designation JCM 2 (similar to T for tobacco/etc) which means to me: Japanese Classic (rectangular) Menko.

Additional Images:

Friday, November 25, 2011

1997-98 Score Board Autographed Collection Autographs

Set size: 24 cards

Front Design: The player's photo appears in a gray circle with white horizontal stripes. The card's background contains black and red stripes, with a black V running the vertical length of the card. The player's name is at the top in grey letters. An on-card autograph is on a white oval beneath the photo, with a Score Board authentic autograph watermark. A set-identifying logo carries a 1998 issue date.

Back Design: The tan backs contain the Score Board logo and an authenticity statement, with a Score Board logo looking to be embossed on the card. The cards carry 1997 copyrights.

Parallels and Similars: None known.

Distribution: Cards were inserted 2:9 packs of Score Board Autographed Collection.

Thoughts: For an unlicensed issue, this is a fairly nice autographed card set. The autograph is on-card, and the design is bold but not overwhelming, unless seeing lots of horizontal lines remind you of the blinds in your grandmother's house, which smelled like old people and had so many nice things that you weren't allowed to run around and play like you were at home. And what was up with all those little trinket boxes on the coffee table with random buttons and other found objects? Don't those objects have a home? Kerry Wood is the only name I recognize in this set, other than Helms, and Woods wasn't inserted into packs. Helms played for the Marlins through the 2011 season, but has probably seen his last MLB pitch. By the way, I haven't posted in a few days because I've been busy with my Japan preparations.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2005 Just Autographs Signatures

Set size: 49 cards

Front Design: The horizontal cards have a color action photo on the left side, about two inches square. The player's name and team are centered in the border beneath the photo. The MiLB logo serves as a background for the lower right side of the card, with the Just Minors logo in the upper right. A sticker autograph is placed across the photo and mILB logo.

Back Design: The photo is cropped somewhat smaller in the upper-left. The player's biographical data and prior year statistics are on the upper right; the bottom of the card is reserved for the player's name, copyright information, and a holographic authenticity/serial numbering sticker.

Parallels and Similars: There are three parallels of the autograph set. The non-autographed version has several parallels of its own - the full unautographed set has 70 cards.

Distribution: The autographs were inserted into packs of Just Autographs, with one autograph in every pack.

Thoughts: Other than the invasive foil sticker, this is a nice design. The back may not have much data, and more could be added by moving the MiLB logo and sticker, but it's a decent layout. Boxes are pretty cheap - 12 packs of 4 cards each (12 autographs) for about $35. While many (most?) of the players don't make the majors, at this price a couple boxes could yield some good players, and for $35 it could be a fun break.

Monday, November 21, 2011

2010 Sportkings National VIP Promos Duke Snider

Set size: 25 cards

Front Design: An artistic sketch of the subject is placed in the upper left, with the Sportkings Series D logo along the right border in a black banner. The player's name is printed just beneath the sketch, followed by a gold-colored 2010 National VIP logo.

Back Design: The card number is at the top with a VIP prefix, followed by a box with a congratulatory/advertisement message, the Sportkings name, and copyright data.

Parallels and Similars: None known.

Distribution: Cards were distributed at the 2010 National to visitors who purchased VIP ticket packages. Each VIP gift bag held five of the 25 promos.

Thoughts: I enjoy the pencil sketch images used in this set, and wouldn't mind a full set done in this style at some point. Perhaps when Topps brings back Gallery or Panini brings Diamond Kings back, they can do a "pencil sketch parallel" which would be the same image as the painting, done in a pencil sketch. Now that is a parallel idea. While we're at it, they could get those caricature artists from amusement parks to do goofy sketches too for a third parallel. I'm sure there are tons of art students who'd love to do this for cheap and turn out some relatively good work.  As far as a set issued only for the purpose of distribution at the National, this is a pretty decent one. Since Sportkings didn't just take cards from their sets and foil stamp them and call them National Exclusives, this set has its own importance (ahem, Panini/Donruss).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2007 TriStar Prospects Plus

Set size: 100 cards

Front Design: A player photo takes up the top two-thirds of the card, with a colored band beneath holding the team logo and name in foil. The player's name is printed in foil across the top of the card.

Back Design: The backs have a tan document color, with a frame surrounding the text. The player's name and position is in a black band, followed by biographical data. Beneath a second informative black band is a brief career biography.

Parallels and Similars: Four parallel sets were included with this issue, all serial-numbered to 50 or less and autographed.

Distribution: Cards were distributed in pack form; each pack has seven cards, of which one is an autograph.

Thoughts: The release, overall, could be a very good deal. Getting ten autographs guaranteed in a box for about $60 could prove valuable if you pull one of the stars: Heyward, Moustakas, Bumgarner, Rasmus, Rizzo, and probably other names I don't recognize yet appear in the 100-card checklist. The base cards are uninspired and have a lot of empty space for no reason. This set isn't about the base cards, anyway.

Friday, November 18, 2011

1975 Yankees Dynasty 1936-39 TCMA

 Set size: 54 cards

Front Design: For most of the cards, a black and white player photo sits on a white-bordered 2-3/4" x 4" card, with blue ink at the top stating "1936-1939 Yankee Dynasty" and the player's name and position at the bottom. The last five cards in the set have team photos and are larger (4" x 5-1/2").

Back Design: The backs are printed in black and appear to have been typed on a sheet of paper before being sent to press. They contain the player's full name and statistics from 1936-39. A very simple copyright line at the bottom identifies the set as being issued by TCMA.

Parallels and Similars: A reprinted and (slightly) extended version was released in 1983, with blue ink on the back instead of black.

Distribution: TCMA sold sets directly to collectors, as well as dealers and other hobby sources.

Thoughts: I really wish TCMA would have put a little more effort into the design of their cards in the 1970s, as they issued several topical sets that would be interesting to niche collectors. Instead, the set has only a photo and basic statistics, without even any insight on how the player factored into the dynasty. It's my thought that a topical set should tell a story or at least have each subject related back to the main theme. That said, many players from this set have only a handful of affordable cards, so issues like this bring historical players to modern times (at least, back in the 1970s).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Flags (Flags of All Nations)

Set size: 50 cards, standard "mini" tobacco size

Front Design: The art for each country has a flag on a fancy pole waving over a background of a world map. An additional map of the nation and its surrounds is shown in a circle beneath the flag, similar to a magnifying glass enlarging the detail on the world map behind it. Topps Allen & Ginter's Flags, Brooklyn, New York is printed beneath the art.

Back Design: The monochromatic backs have an advertisement for the set at the top, followed by a checklist of the entire set.

Parallels and Similars: There are several tobacco-era non-sport mini sets similar to this design , of which several focused on national flags. This set should not be confused with any of those, due to the copyright information at the bottom and several other features which identify it as a modern release.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter.

Thoughts: I enjoy the non-sport mini sets Topps puts in Allen & Ginter, even if I don't always collect the whole set. From an interest standpoint, I'd love having a set of national flags in mini card form. There's only one problem - while the set is called "Flags of All Nations" there are about 154 nations missing from the checklist. I understand there are countries in turmoil and which may not have a flag, but Iraq and Iran are missing. Neither Korea is on the list.Where is Sweden? Topps should have gone full-speed with this set and issued flags for all the countries that have one. When will Transnistria get its due?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2008 Bowman Orange Luke Hochevar

Set size: 230 cards

Front Design: A black frame with green or red highlights (depending on if the player is a rookie or veteran, respectively) surrounds the color player photo. A facsimile autograph is placed in a semitransparent box at the bottom of the photo, and the player's name, team, and position are beneath the photo in the frame. The frame itself is curved in the upper left and lower right corners. The card borders are orange. Note that some cards in the set are autographed.

Back Design: The curved-edge frame and coloring is repeated on the back. A small player photo is at the top next to his name and biographical details. This is followed by a scouting report (for rookies) or "Bowman Briefing" (same information, for veterans). Prior-year and career statistics are at the bottom; rookies have minor league statistics while veteran cards contain major league stats.

Parallels and Similars: This set is a parallel of the 2008 Bowman set. Other parallels for this issue are Blue, Gold, Red, and the four printing plates. There are also twelve Bowman Chrome sets including parallels and plates, but the card numbering differs.

Distribution: The orange set is serial-numbered to 250 and was randomly inserted into packs of 2008 Bowman. Autographed cards are also serial-numbered to 250.

Thoughts: Orange is such a 1990s color for baseball cards, but if there's one thing that I enjoy with Bowman parallels, it's the rainbow of borders. The 2008 Bowman design isn't bad, except for the nameplate on the front. The font choice and perforation line just look odd on the card.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2007 Just Rookies Autographs

Set size: 64 cards

Front Design: The set parallels the 2007 Just Rookies issue, with the added addition of a holographic autographed sticker on the front. The design has a full-bleed photo with a white rectangle around the player, and additional white tracing around the player's body. His name, position, and organization is at the top.

Back Design: The photo from the front is repeated, and text includes biographical information and minor league statistics. An authenticity hologram and the Just Minors logo fill the bottom third of the card.

Parallels and Similars: I already mentioned this set is a parallel of the 2007 Just Rookies base set, but there are 23 total parallels of the base issue, including autographed and non-autographed versions and printing plates for both.

Distribution: Cards were inserted into packs of Just Rookies. Each pack contained one autograph (though it could be a serial-numbered autograph parallel).

Thoughts: The lack of a border is a plus, but the white outline around the player's body detracts from the image. We all know how annoying sticker autographs are. At least it covers an appropriate part of Lotzkar's body?

Monday, November 14, 2011

1993 Upper Deck Supers: Off the grid and bigger than life!

Set size: 7

Front Design: The cards are reprints of 1991 Upper Deck, 1993 Upper Deck, and 1993 SP cards. The checklist is provided below. However, the cards are 8.5" x 11" instead of a normal card size.

Back Design: Again, the backs are reprints of other designs in a jumbo size, with one addition: cards are serial-numbered in a special logo placed somewhere on the back.

Parallels and Similars: These cards are jumbo-sized parallels of other issues.

Distribution: It is unknown how these cards were distributed. I wouldn't know where to begin looking for information, short of asking Upper Deck themselves - and even if they responded to an email I doubt they would know or bother finding an answer. Possible methods of distribution could include dealer premiums or previews, card show/convention premiums, or special local test issues released only in California. It's possible they were sold or given away at Heroes of Baseball events (again, possibly as test issues), as they have the same feel as the sheets released for that series. All this is speculation.

Thoughts: First and foremost, if you have any information on this set, please let me know! I'm a big fan of oddballs, especially odd-sized issues such as this. It's quite rare for a release by a major manufacturer to not be cataloged by Beckett. They're listed in the SCD guide (page 1545 of the 2009 edition). Perhaps someone who gets their hands on an updated SCD could check to see if there are any updates. I came across a handful cards from this release several months ago and picked up two examples - the Bonds above and the Finley below. I should have bought them all.

Why is Barry Bonds on the same base as another Giant? Somebody is OUT.

Checklist: cards are numbered below according to their original card number. Print runs were 1000 for most cards, with differences in parentheses. Issues copied other than 1993 are also noted below. If you have any additions to this list, please let me know!

  • 6 Kirby Puckett/Triple Crown Contenders insert
  • 10 Barry Bonds/SP
  • 24 Eric Karros/1991 (2500)
  • 75 Tom Glavine
  • 77 Chuck Finley (2500)
  • 155 Nolan Ryan (5000)
  • 199 Roger Clemens/SP

Additional Images:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

1980 Columbus Astros TCMA

Set size: 22 cards

Front Design: The cards have a red border around a black and white photo. The player's name and position are in a white band beneath the photo, with the team name in white beneath that. A sponsorship logo for McDonalds is placed to the right of the team name.

Back Design: The backs use the same wavy curved-edge design as the prior year, with an advertisement for TCMA at the bottom. The rest of the card has the team and league name, as well as player's biographical data and prior year statistics, all in blue ink. The manager's card, shown, eliminates most of the information, instead placing an advertisement for McDonalds in the middle of the card.

Parallels and Similars: All 1980 TCMA cards have the same design. Some team sets used color photos instead of black and white. Note that this card is a reprint; the white border on the card front and the use of black ink on the back are giveaways. This card was reprinted by TCMA for use in a collector's kit in the mid- to late-1980s.

Distribution: Team sets were sold through the Columbus Astros, and were available through TCMA and hobby channels.

Thoughts: The Columbus Astros played in Golden Park, a historic stadium that never seemed to draw crowds. The team became the Mudcats in 1989, and in 1991 moved to North Carolina. While I never saw the Columbus Astros play, I have seen a couple games in Golden Park, when the Catfish played through the 2008 season. They moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2009, and became the Hot Rods. As for the cards, they are about as plain as they can be. This is the end of my TCMA posting spree. I am so glad to be finished with this group (though I'm glad to have them in my collection) and now I can move on to more varied releases.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

1981 Wausau Timbers TCMA

Set size: 29 cards

Front Design: The very basic design has a black and white photo inside a rounded red border, with a white band across the bottom containing the player's name and position in black.

Back Design: The backs duplicate the rounded border, surrounding the player's name, position, team and league names, biographical information and prior year statistics (when available). The bottom of the horizontal backs has a black band with an advertisement for TCMA cards.

Parallels and Similars: All 1981 TCMA minor league sets have the same design. Some team sets were issued with color photos; those have black borders and red printing (the opposite of this design).

Distribution: Team sets were sold by TCMA, through hobby dealers, and through the team.

Thoughts: Ivan Calderon might be the most well-known of the minor leaguers included in the collectors set this card was reprinted for. He had a respectable .272 career batting average over 10 seasons, and was an All-Star in 1991. Sadly, Calderon was murdered in 2003 in his home country.

These TCMA cards are almost done! One more tomorrow, and it's back to major league releases!

Friday, November 11, 2011

1979 Tacoma Tugs TCMA

Set size: 26 cards

Front Design: The color photos have a thin black border. The player's name and position are beneath the photo in a yellow band; the cards have white borders.

Back Design: A wavy design holds the card number at the top and a TCMA advertisement at the bottom. The player's name, biographical information, and prior year statistics usually fill the remaining space. The backs are printed in black ink only.

Parallels and Similars: All 1979 TCMA minor league sets have the same issue. This card is most likely a TCMA reprint inserted into a collectors set in the 1980s; the only distinction for this issue may be lower-quality printing on this reprint.

Distribution: Complete team sets were sold through TCMA, dealers, and the Tugs.

Thoughts: One of the best names for a baseball team didn't last for too long. They were the Tugs for only one year, between several names based on their associations (Giants, Cubs, Yankees, Twins, and Tigers); they're now known as the Rainiers and are affiliated with the Mariners. The logo wasn't too impressive - the T has an anchor laid over it - which may have hurt the marketing. Granted, 1979 wasn't a good year to market a minor league team, as they were viewed as afterthoughts for small towns that weren't good enough for a major league team.

Additional Links: Matthew has the #5 card from this set, where you can see the darker, bolder inks on an original printing, over at Number 5 Type Collection.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

1980 Waterbury Reds TCMA

Set size: 22 cards

Front Design: The red bordered cards have a black and white photo inside a rounded frame. The bottom of the card has a white band with the player's name and position in black; the team name is beneath the band in white letters.

Back Design: The blue and white backs use the same layout as the prior year, with a curving black band framing a TCMA advertisement at the bottom, and the player's name, position, team, league, biographical information, and prior year statistics above.

Parallels and Similars: All 1980 TCMA minor league sets have the same design, and some of the other issues released by TCMA that year have a similar layout. Note that my card above has a white border and a black-and-white back, indicating it was reprinted by TCMA for inclusion in a collector kit later in the decade. Original cards have blue backs, and the red border goes to the edge of the card. Some team sets (other than the Waterbury Reds) were issued in color, though the design is the same.

Distribution: The team sets were sold through TCMA, hobby channels, and team stores.

Thoughts: The black and white photos don't look good surrounded by the red borders. The color cards look a little better. I wonder if Tom Foley was such a bad infielder in the minor leagues that they let him play his position with the batting cage behind him in every game. Foley ended up playing 13 seasons in the majors.

Additional Links: Number 5 Type Collection has images of the non-reprint card #5 (Paul Herring) and a bit on the team.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1981 Wisconsin Rapids Twins TCMA

Set size: 23 cards

Front Design: A red rectangular border with curved corners holds a vertical black and white photo and a white band at the bottom with the player's name and position in black.

Back Design: The horizontal backs are black and white, with a rectangular border holding the team logo, player's name and position, and vital statistics. A big black box across the bottom has an advertisement for TCMA sets.

Parallels and Similars: 1981 TCMA minor league sets all have this design. It looks like some sets use black and white photos and others use color photos. I recall finding information a while back (I can't recall where) showing that TCMA gave teams a choice between the two. Color sets use black borders with red text instead of the red borders with black text seen above.

Distribution: Team sets were sold through TCMA, hobby channels, and minor league teams themselves.

Thoughts: This issue is a step backwards for TCMA, with an extremely uninspired design and no stats - the 1979 sets had stats, even if they were quite limited. That said, I like the inclusion of the team logo on the back. It would have been better on the front, in color, with a color photo, but this is an early 1980s minor league team set, so I can't expect much.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

1979 Tidewater Tides TCMA

Set size: 25 cards

Front Design: A thin black frame surrounds the color photo, with a sine-wave line at the bottom separating the yellow-background box containing the player's name and position. The top corners of the black frame are rounded inside the white borders.

Back Design: The wave pattern continues vertically along the left side of the card, ending in a black banner at the bottom above a TCMA advertisement. The rest of the card back contains the player's vitals and very basic 1978 statistics.

Parallels and Similars: All 1979 TCMA team sets follow this same design.

Distribution: About 4000 sets were made, some of which went to the team to be distributed as they wish. The rest were sold directly by TCMA and through hobby channels.

Thoughts: Despite the relatively basic design, this layout is more appealing than many of the 1980s issues TCMA released. I'm wondering - do any professional baseball players wear stirrup socks anymore?

Additional Links: Matthew at Number 5 Type Collection doesn't have the Jeff Reardon from this set yet, but he's featured several other team sets issued in 1979 by TCMA.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

1986 Jackson Mets TCMA

Set size: 27 cards

Front Design: The fuchsia border surrounds a color photo of the player, with his team name beneath the photo in the border. A black band at the bottom of the card holds the player's name and position.

Back Design: The plain backs have the team and league names, followed by the player's name, jersey number, and position. Vitals and prior year statistics follow. A sponsorship for Mallette's, a sports card shop, is in the middle, with a TCMA advertisement in a banner at the bottom of the card.

Parallels and Similars: All 1986 TCMA minor league team sets have this design.

Distribution: Cards were sold through team stores, hobby means, and TCMA. I'm sure Mallette's got a nice handful for sponsoring the team.

Thoughts: This authorized reprint meant for inclusion with a collectors kit seems to differ only by the banner at the bottom of the card back: this banner is black and white, while I think banners on original cards have a green tint. Thankfully, this is the last of my 1986 TCMAs for a while, but I have some late-70s/early-80s to wrap up over the next week. Mike Santiago is the only player in the group of 1986 cards that doesn't seem to have made the majors, despite having an acceptable record. In fact, he never got past AA Jackson, despite having a 1.86 record in 1987 as a reliever.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

1986 Omaha Royals TCMA

Set size: 25 cards

Front Design: A rectangular purple border outlined in black surrounds a colored photo, with the team name in the bottom of the border. A black banner across the bottom of the card holds the player's name an team name.

Back Design: The plain backs contain the team and league names, followed by the player's name and biographical stats. His prior year statistics follow. A banner advertising TCMA cards sits across the bottom of the card.

Parallels and Similars: All 1986 TCMA minor league issues have this design.

Distribution: Cards were sold through TCMA, the team, and hobby channels such as stores and shows.

Thoughts: I ended up with four different team's reprints from this 1986 set in the lot I purchased from the collectors sets. That is a lot of bright colors. Schuler is an interesting card to reprint, because at the time of this printing, his rookie year was about six years in the past. He was never too successful a pitcher in the majors, and 1985 was his last year in the majors. He would go on to coach for a few teams after retiring.

Friday, November 4, 2011

1986 Jacksonville Expos TCMA

Set size: 26 cards

Front Design: The photo is inside a fuchsia border with black edges; the player's team is beneath the photo in the border. A black band at the bottom of the card has the player's name and position.

Back Design: The white backs have black text with the team and league names, player's name and vitals, and statistics. An advertisement for Golden Glove, a sports card store, is beneath the stats; a dark green banner advertising TCMA minor league sets is at the bottom.

Parallels and Similars: All 1986 TCMA sets have the same design.

Distribution: TCMA sets were sold complete through the manufacturer, hobby channels, and the team.

Thoughts: This card is most likely a reprint that was packaged with a collectors set issued by TCMA. The regular cards appear to have a greenish tint to the banner on the back, while this one is black. The very plain design on the front is the least-creative of all the TCMA minor league issues I'm familiar with, and the use of fuchsia in the border is an odd choice. John Trautwein was pretty much a flop in the majors, and even his minor league record wasn't too goo, but around the time printing was one on the reprint issue, he was probably a fairly promising prospect.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2001 Fleer Premium A Time for Heroes

Set size: 20 cards

Front Design: A clock face contains the team logo, with the set, player, and team names beneath. The player's photo is placed beside the design, with a background pattern that resembles what one might see looking at dirty linoleum tile while intoxicated.

Back Design: The backs repeat the design elements from the front with an explanation of how the player shown is a hero.

Parallels and Similars: None known.

Distribution: Cards were inserted into packs of 2001 Fleer Premium at a rate of 1:20.

Thoughts: I like the use of a clock, since it's not seen on baseball cards as a design element too frequently. I'm not sure what the idea was behind the background, which really does look like a blurry picture of someone's kitchen floor or dated wallpaper.