Monday, August 10, 2020

The Best of the Rest: Challenges of Building a Frankenset

When I first learned about the concept of a Frankenset, I was excited. I had been setting aside unique cards for quite some time, and now I had a way to meaningfully organize them. Hunting for cards to fit the holes in your set is a fun pursuit, too. It's like hunting for cards in a regular set, but there's an added dimension because you have to find a card to fit the slot first. 

That's the stage I'm at with my Frankenset. I'm still hoping to fill 792 slots, and not surprisingly, most of the cards I need are in the 700s. But I'm getting there, slowly but surely I suppose. I figure I can make some custom checklist cards to fill 6 or 7 slots eventually if I can't find anything that fits some of those higher numbers. Lately, I've been scouring Trading Card Database and looking at sets that go above 660 in the hopes of filling some of those numbers. I'm about 50 to 75 cards short right now, but honing in on a wish list to get me closer. I'll post that soon when I have it organized, so if you can help, I'd be glad to swing a trade or two.

But this post is going to take a different angle on my Frankenset. For every card with #738 you find, there might be 2 or 3 or 4 cards with #135 that you'd like to put in your set.

But you can only pick one. That leads to some tough decisions. And cards that are more than worthy of finding their way into the set are suddenly on the outside looking in. This post is dedicated to some of those cards. 

The following pairs are cards with the same number. The card on the right made it into the Frankenset, and the card on the left was relegated to the "Best of the Rest" section at the back of the binder. I picked some of my favorite second place finishers to display, so hope you enjoy them. 

#219: 1983 Topps Mike Armstrong vs. 1994 Collector's Choice Jose Offerman



The Mike Armstrong card is an all-timer. Serial killer look paired with serial killer glasses. But I like the Offerman card. Apparently, the runner tried to break up a double play not by sliding, but by running straight into Offerman while the second baseman decided to get uncomfortably close to the play for some reason. Plus, it's the Silver Signature version!


#157: 1992 Donruss Triple Play Greg Harris vs. 1983 Donruss Goose Gossage


The glove on the head makes me want to choose Harris. The glasses make me want to go with Gossage (though Harris's are fantastic, too). The tiebreaker here is star power. I'm going with the Hall of Famer.


#274: 1995 Score Darren Lewis vs. 1982 Fleer Jack Morris

Darren Lewis appears to be trying to break up a double play here. But picture him for a moment on a waterslide... Works, doesn't it? 

There's just too much to like with the Jack Morris card, though. The odd shadow or possibly UFO surrounding his hat. The chain link fence. And of course, the off-center photo cutting off Black Jack's entire right arm. 1982 Fleer delivers again.


#586: 1993 Donruss Joe Oliver vs. 1975 Topps Tim McCarverI might be willing to change my mind on this one. I really like Oliver biting the dust (Is he mid-air?), but McCarver just doesn't look right with the Red Sox. He only played 22 games with them. So, for now at least, I'm going with Joe Buck's old sidekick in the booth.



#36: 1992 Topps Scott Ruffcorn vs. 1985 Topps Fred Breining

Here we have what I can only assume is a senior picture vs. Fred Breining, who as I pointed out in a previous post, looks like Jerry Seinfeld when he wore those big glasses in an episode of Seinfeld. Going with Jer--- I mean Fred, on this one.


#4: 1992 Classic Best Scott Sharts vs. 1997 Score Rockies Team Edition Ellis Burks

The juvenile humor is so tempting here (I assume you know what a "shart" is), but I decided to be an adult and pick the fun Ellis Burks glove-on-head card.


#128: 1991 Pacific Senior League Baseball Razor Shines vs. 1969 Topps Tommie Aaron

An all-time great name vs. an all-time great "lesser known." I like the Aaron card better, so going with Tommie.

 

#387) 1992 Stadium Club Ruben Sierra vs. 2002 Upper Deck Al Leiter 

A top vs. bottom matchup this time. The Sierra is such a unique card, but I love the angle on the Al-Leiter card a lot. And bonus points because the ball is still in the frame, too. Going with Mr. Leiter here.


Well there you have it. Let me know your thoughts. Favorite card of the bunch? Want to make a case for one of the second place finishers? Put your comments below!


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Building a Dynasty on Nicknames: Donruss Names Series Part 6: Early 80s Edition

Welcome to part six of the Donruss Names Series, where we look at some of the more interesting names on the back of Donruss baseball cards. This series takes advantage of the fact that from 1981 to 1992, Donruss printed the players full legal name on the back of their cards. If you're new to this series of posts or just want to reminisce, here's what we've covered so far:

Part 1: Famous players who went by their middle name
Part 2: Players who you thought had a nickname, but their nickname was their real name
Part 3: Players with a unique first name (Part 1)
Part 4: Players with a unique first name (Part 2)
Part 5: Players with a unique middle name

All of the previous posts can be accessed by clicking here

This week, we'll look at players who went by a nickname and get the scoop on their real names. 

Interestingly, three of this week's players were prominent members of both the '77 and '78 New York. So if you know your late 70's Yankees, you should score well with this quiz. I'll mix the non-Yankees in with the Yankees. 

If you want to skip ahead to the answers, feel free. The questions and answers are repeated below along with the cards that show the info. 


1)   Which position player from the '77 and '78 World Champion Yankees had the given first/middle name of John Milton? (1982 Donruss)
A) Roy White
B) Bucky Dent
C) Lou Piniella
D) Mickey Rivers

2)   Which part-time player from the late 70s and early 80s had the given first/middle name Gene Ellis? (1981 Donruss)
A) Denny Walling
B) Champ Summers
C) Mickey Klutts
D) Broderick Perkins

3)   Which position player from the '77 and '78 World Champion Yankees had the given first/middle name of Russell Earl? (1982 Donruss)
A) Paul Blair
B) Bucky Dent
C) Lou Piniella
D) Mickey Rivers

4)   Which future manager who played 17 years in MLB had the given first/middle name of John Albert? (1981 Donruss)
A) Buck Martinez
B) Cito Gaston
C) Ned Yost
D) Tony Pena

5)   Which relative of a more famous player had the given first/middle name of Elliott Taylor? (1982 Donruss)
A) Dale Berra
B) Ken Brett
C) Larry Yount
D) Bump Wills

6)   Which pitcher from the '77 and '78 World Champion Yankees had the given first/middle name of Albert Walter? (1982 Donruss)
A) Sparky Lyle
B) Dick Tidrow
C) Goose Gossage
D) Ron Guidry

7)   Which future pennant winning manager who played 19 years in MLB had the given first/middle name of Johnnie B.? (1986 Donruss)
A) Dusty Baker
B) Cito Gaston
C) Ned Yost
D) Terry Francona

8)   Which long-time Cub and Dodger had the given name Robert James? (1982 Donruss)
A) Ron Cey
B) Rick Monday
C) Bill Buckner
D) Rick Sutcliffe

9)   Which pitcher who carved out a 19-year career as a reliever had the given name Frank Edwin? (1982 Donruss)
A) Willie Hernandez
B) Bruce Sutter
C) Lee Smith
D) Tug McGraw



OK, time to see how you did. 



1)   Which position player from the '77 and '78 World Champion Yankees had the given first/middle name of John Milton? (1982 Donruss)
A) Roy White
B) Bucky Dent
C) Lou Piniella
D) Mickey Rivers



2)   Which part-time player from the late 70s and early 80s had the given first/middle name Gene Ellis? (1981 Donruss)
A) Denny Walling
B) Champ Summers
C) Mickey Klutts
D) Broderick Perkins



Mickey Klutts belongs in the all-time pantheon of great baseball names in my opinion.

3)   Which position player from the '77 and '78 World Champion Yankees had the given first/middle name of Russell Earl? (1982 Donruss)
A) Paul Blair
B) Bucky Dent
C) Lou Piniella
D) Mickey Rivers



Red Sox fans especially might find it surprising that Bucky Dent's middle name is Earl and not f***ing.


4)   Which future manager who played 17 years in MLB had the given first/middle name of John Albert? (1981 Donruss)
A) Buck Martinez
B) Cito Gaston
C) Ned Yost
D) Tony Pena



Buck only managed a season and a half with Toronto, but for some reason I thought his tenure was longer. He had a winning percentage of .465. 


5)   Which relative of a more famous player had the given first/middle name of Elliott Taylor? (1982 Donruss)
A) Dale Berra
B) Ken Brett
C) Larry Yount
D) Bump Wills



Bump played in Japan in 1983 and 1984 before retiring. 


6)   Which pitcher from the '77 and '78 World Champion Yankees had the given first/middle name of Albert Walter? (1982 Donruss)
A) Sparky Lyle
B) Dick Tidrow
C) Goose Gossage
D) Ron Guidry



The acquisition of Goose Gossage for the 1978 season caused some tension with Lyle, who was the shutdown closer in 1977.


7)   Which future pennant winning manager who played 19 years in MLB had the given first/middle name of Johnnie B.? (1986 Donruss)
A) Dusty Baker
B) Cito Gaston
C) Ned Yost
D) Terry Francona



Dusty's back in the managerial role with the Houston Astros in 2020.


8)   Which long-time Cub and Dodger had the given name Robert James? (1982 Donruss)
A) Ron Cey
B) Rick Monday
C) Bill Buckner
D) Rick Sutcliffe



The flag-saving outfielder opted for Rick instead of Rob, Robbie, Bob, or Bobby. 


9)   Which pitcher who carved out a 19-year career as a reliever had the given name Frank Edwin? (1982 Donruss)
A) Willie Hernandez
B) Bruce Sutter
C) Lee Smith
D) Tug McGraw





How did Tug McGraw become Tug McGraw? I'll leave you with this funny excerpt from McGraw's SABR biography

“I never answered to another name,” he told author Stanley Cohen in A Magic Summer. “My mother started calling me Tug when I was an infant because of the way I nursed. ‘He’s a real Tugger,’ she said.

“On my first day of kindergarten, the teacher called the roll and when she finished she said, ‘Is there anyone whose name I didn’t call?” I raised my hand. ‘My name is Tug McGraw,’ I said. She looked at the roll and said, ‘I have a Frank McGraw.’ I said, ‘No, that’s my dad. He already went to kindergarten.’”


How'd you do on the quiz today? Which name surprised you most? Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Return of Beer League Softball: My Favorite Frankenset Card by Page; Page 9 (Cards 82-90)

We haven't been deprived of all sporting options here in Fargo this summer. I am fairly certain slow pitch softball leagues are in action here, but it's probably been close to a decade since I played so I can't say for certain. I do know, however, that since early this month, we've had the rare sight of minor league baseball here. The American Association, home to our Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, is an independent minor league, so it was not impacted by the cancellation of the MILB season. There are only six teams in action this season (vs. the usual 12), and games are happening in just three cities, Fargo being one of them. The other two cities are Franklin, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee, and Sioux Falls, SD. The goal was to play in areas where COVID cases haven't been as prevalent. 

The #1 card today looks like it came straight out of a slow pitch game, so that's what prompted me to give an update on our unique baseball situation here. Now let's jump into the countdown:

3) 2017 Panini Chronicles #83, Bartolo Colon



Colon made pit stops in Atlanta and Minnesota in 2017 before finishing his major league career with the Rangers in 2018. Big Sexy put together a 5 and 6 record with the Twins, a 5.18 ERA, and 0.3 WAR over 15 starts in Minnesota. An underwhelming card, but there aren't many out there showing Colon with Minnesota. I think this set would have benefitted from looking into a newspaper theme of some sort. I think that has worked well on other cards. 

2) 1991 Classic Best #90, Mickey Rivers Jr.



The lesser-known Rivers topped out as a member of the Class A+ Winter Haven Red Sox, the team he is featured with on this card. Can you see the "W" and the "H" on the hat? Not sure if they are big enough, so thought I would point them out. Anyway, 1991 was the younger Rivers' last year in organized baseball. He hit .208 for Winter Haven over 71 games.

1) 1992 Donruss #86, Pete O'Brien



This is a sneaky-cool card in my opinion. It looks like it's straight out of a custom-made set put together by the Seattle Beer League Softball Association. You've got the spring training or practice jersey or whatever that is, then there's the mullet, and when you add the glasses it just fits so well together, doesn't it? I can just see Pete and his teammates cracking Budweisers in the parking lot after the game. 

With page 9 of the Frankenset in the books, it's time to look at the top categories for the cards we've seen so far:

Category 
Lesser Known:4.5
Odd Team:4
Glasses:3.5
Mustache:3
Pitcher Hitting:3
Field Action - Awkward:2
Equipment Oddity:1
Facial Expression - In Action:1
Field Action Fail:1
Pitcher Running Bases:1
Position Player Pitching:1
Why is he bunting?:0.5
Chew:0.5
Funny Name/Nickname:0.5
Hair:0.5

What was your favorite card from page 9? Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

See Other Side for More Fun

In building my Frankenset, I made a rule fairly early on: the card had to qualify based on the front of the card alone. I wanted it to be apparent looking at the front of each card why it belonged in the set. I always thought this was a good decision, but wondered about those pesky card backs. Because there are some good ones out there. Where do they fit into the Frankenset world I have created? There must be a place for them somewhere.

Then it hit me. It happened a few weeks ago when I was looking at the gallery view on an early 90s Upper Deck set on TCDB. I was searching for card numbers that might fit my Frankenset, so I went to the gallery view to get a good look at the front of the cards. But right next to the front of the card is an image of the back. I noticed some really interesting ones and planned to go through some of my own that I already had to see what I could find. And what did I find? Plenty of material for ANOTHER Frankenset. A Frankenset just focused on the backs of the cards.

Now with two young children at home, I don't have much time for anything much less tracking and hunting down cards for another Frankenset, so I'm going to start slow. Here, I am going to feature some of the cards that inspired me to go down this path, in addition to some others I have found so far. Some of the cards fit the existing categories in my main Frankenset, but with card backs, you have more written material to work with, so there will be some new avenues to explore, which is exciting.

Two cards right off the bat that I really enjoyed were this Mickey Hatcher card and this Luis Polonia card where he is being harassed by, I am assuming, Lance Parrish's son. 

1991 Upper Deck #666, Mickey Hatcher

1992 Upper Deck #147, Luis Polonia

These are both fantastic. If you didn't catch it, Hatcher is experiencing a hot foot. The front of the Hatcher card also made it qualify for my regular Frankenset. Luckily I have two copies.



Another category I found was cards describing players in much too-glowing ways. I found this example fairly absurd:


2001 Topps #183, David Segui

Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols, David Segui. Umm...no. 

Then there was the flipside. Cards basically bashing the player's abilities in one way or another. 

1991 Score #153, Mickey Hatcher

There's Hatcher again. Ol' gray haired, bad kneed Mickey. At least some compliments followed.

Another fun one was Dave LaPoint ripping himself with a classic line.

1990 Score #357, Dave LaPoint

A body made for bowling. I can relate. 

A final category that I enjoy is random facts on the backs of cards.


1992 Topps #18, Greg Cadaret

Greg Cadaret enjoys Huey Lewis? Who doesn't?!

Another random fact comes from the 1991 Topps card of Mickey Tettleton, who I found out was nicknamed "Froot Loops" in researching a previous post. Now I know why.

1991 Topps #385, Mickey Tettleton

I'm looking forward to finding more of these diamonds in the rough, but it might take a while to put together a full set. I have probably about 200 so far, and don't have that many more cards to look through here at home. But like I said, I don't have time to work on it anyway! 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

My Favorite Frankenset Card by Page; Page 8 (Cards 73 - 81)

It's time for another installment of my favorite Frankenset card (by page), where I show off my Frankenset by giving you my top three favorite cards from each page of the set. Let's jump right in.

3) 1993 Donruss #78, Damon Berryhill



I have what I suppose is a perverse love of cards showing failure and pain. This is one of them. My guess is this photo captures a moment right after a strikeout. 


2) 1992 Donruss Triple Play #80, Roger McDowell



Legendary jokester Roger McDowell has several unique cards, and this is one of them. Here, McDowell is shown bringing the lineup card out to the umpires while wearing a tool belt and a conspicuously large piece of sandpaper in his back pocket. Also note the sandpaper wrapped around his socks. By all accounts, the guy kept things interesting.


1) 2001 Fleer Futures #81, Tom Glavine




There are at least a few cards featuring Tom Glavine batting, which shouldn't be too surprising considering he played 22 seasons in the major leagues. I really like this one, courtesy of a nice set called Fleer Futures. Any guesses on Tom Glavine's career batting average? (Answer below.) 


With page eight now in the books, I thought I would start a standings section at the end of these posts tracking the Frankenset categories these cards fit into. For this post, we have an "Field Action Fail" with the Berryhill, a "Field Action - Awkward" with the McDowell, and a pitcher hitting with the Glavine. If a card happens to fit more than one category, I take the top two categories that made it qualify for the Frankenset, then split it into half points. I went back and calculated the previous seven pages, so after eight pages, here's what we've seen:

Category  Points
Lesser Known: 3.5
Glasses: 3
Mustache: 3
Odd Team: 3
Pitcher Hitting: 3
Field Action - Awkward: 2
Equipment Oddity: 1
Facial Expression - In Action: 1
Field Action Fail: 1
Pitcher Running Bases: 1
Position Player Pitching: 1
Why is he bunting?: 0.5
Chew: 0.5
Funny Name/Nickname: 0.5


Tom Glavine's career batting line:
  • 1323 at-bats
  • .186 BA
  • 1 HR
  • 90 RBI
  • .454 OPS

What was your favorite card from page 8? The Berryhill fail? The McDowell shenanigans? Or the Glavine follow-through?