Saturday, August 7, 2021

More Frankenset and Lots of Mail

Four more Frankenset pages are posted. Do you agree with my favorite from each page?

Page 6: Cards 46-54 - Favorite: Pat Kelly error

Page 7: Cards 55-63 - Favorite: Rickey Henderson brushback

Page 8: Cards 64-72 - Favorite: Fun at the Ballpark

Page 9: Cards 73-81 - Favorite: Roger McDowell with the umpires

I've been working on getting signed baseball cards and index cards for players who played in Fargo. I've gotten some cards, and the index cards, on eBay and through trades on Others I've gotten through some requests through the mail. For these, I always ask if they have any memories of their time playing in Fargo. I've gotten a few that have responded to the question, which has been fun. Someday I might get some of that posted here, but as you can see above, I have a few more pages of my Frankenset to post first. But here's a sampling:

I found an old Fargo-Moorhead Twins program image online and printed it on cardstock. I've sent and received five replies from former players: Womack, Hal Stowe, Bill Dailey, Bud Zipfel, and Jim Perry. All of these guys made the majors. I've sent out five more to players who never made the majors, but since they are all in their mid-80s, I'm not sure if I'll get any replies. I'm already working on sending to players who played in Grand Forks (about an hour north of Fargo). We'll see how that goes. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Stats and More Stats

I've always loved baseball statistics. In fact, I actually became a fan of baseball stats and baseball cards before I really got into baseball itself. So I thought it would be fun to share some stats from my completed Frankenset. Feel free to click the link to view all the cards from the first 5 pages of the set (more to come!). I'd love to hear your thoughts on the cards on those pages. Ok, back to the stats. Each section will be followed by a favorite card from the top item on the list:

Top 10 Categories (featured on the most cards):
  1. Lesser Knowns - probably my favorite category, so no surprise
  2. Name/Nickname
  3. Unique Team
  4. Glasses
  5. Pitcher Hitting
  6. Signing Autos
  7. Field Action - Awkward
  8. Unique Pose
  9. Facial Expression - Posed
  10. Hair

Top 10 Teams (several ties in this category; I know a few bloggers who will be happy with this result.)

    1. Los Angeles Dodgers
        San Francisco Giants
        Atlanta Braves
    4. Cincinnati Reds
        Oakland A's
    6. Baltimore Orioles
        St. Louis Cardinals
        New York Mets
        San Diego Padres

Top 10 Years - I make no apologies that this is a "Junk Era"-heavy set. But 1987 didn't make the top 10!
  1. 1992
  2. 1993
  3. 1991
  4. 1990
  5. 1994
  6. 1995
  7. 1988
  8. 1989
  9. 1996
  10. 1981

Top 10 Brands (not too many surprises here)
  1. Topps
  2. Upper Deck
  3. Donruss
  4. Score
  5. Fleer 
  6. Collector's Choice
  7. Stadium Club
  8. Bowman
  9. Conlon - The Sporting News
  10. Topps Total

Top 10 Set/Year (some ties again)

    1. 1993 Upper Deck - a fantastically unique set
    2. 1992 Upper Deck
    3. 1991 Upper Deck
        1994 Collector's Choice
    5. 1981 Topps
    6. 1992 Topps
        1990 Upper Deck
        1992 Donruss
        1991 Score
        1995 Score 

I could slice this a few more ways, but I'll wrap it up for now. Hope your favorite category/team/brand/set was represented! 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Multitasking - The Pros and Cons of Working on 7 (or more) Collecting Goals at Once

Well, it's been a month since my last post. The general craziness and challenges of life explain much of my absence. I've still been working on my collection, but in kind of a haphazard way that reflects the general chaos I feel around me on a daily basis. I thought I'd update everyone with a rundown of the randomness that I've been working on the last month.

Frankenset and Mini-Collection Builds:

You may or may not know that I've already completed a Frankenset. So why does this say I've been working on a Frankenset build? Because I started a second one, of course! Yes, even though I have failed to chronicle the first Frankenset in any manner resembling completeness, I've embarked on Frankenset #2. (Side note - I plan to post all the cards in Frankenset #1 in full-page form. Done with two pages so far!)

I've alluded to Frankenset #2 in the past. There are a couple main differences between the first Frankenset and this one. Mainly, there are a few additional categories that I've added (Throwback Uniforms and Wrong Team are the two I can think of right now.) "Wrong Team" means the player is pictured in a different uniform than the team name listed on the card. Also, I'm including the back of cards in this set, so a card can qualify based on the picture/text on the reverse side (this was strictly forbidden in my first Frankenset). The cards that qualify based on their back are displayed as such. Otherwise, it's mostly the same categories as the first set. And I'm again going for 800 cards this time, but with the goal of not filling a single number with a checklist. Wish me luck!

In addition to the new Frankenset, I've been picking up new cards of some lesser knowns. Off the top of my head, this list includes: Reggie Jackson (a pitching coach), Todd Blyleven (Bert's son), and James Lofton (not the NFL wide receiver). There are several more I'm forgetting. 

2003 Multi-ad Savannah Sand Gnats - Reggie Jackson

All-Time Cubs Team:

I'm over 910 different Cubs for my All-Time Cubs Team set. The march to 1,000 will be a slow one, with many of my needs at this point coming from either vintage or obscure sets. I'll usually pick up no more than 5 new cards in any order these days, though Sportlots is showing some promise for me. Thanks to Nick for the tip to check them out, and to search by seller to save on shipping. With all my random collections, I can find a lot to order from one seller, so I'll be throwing in Cubs cards along the way.

Cubs Legend Al Lary (1983 Fritsch's One Year Winners, #118)

Local Players/Teams:

This is where I've gone a bit nuts lately. Looking for autographed cards, autographed index cards, and just regular base cards for players either from North Dakota or who played for a team in Fargo. I plan on putting the autographed cards in a display and using the cut signatures to create some photo displays. I plan to try to get to the library at some point and find pictures of some of the old-time players in a Fargo uniform from the local papers. 

Through the Mail Autographs:

I'm also interested in the stories/memories of some of the local players, so I've written to a few of them asking them for their autograph on usually two cards and also asking if they have memories of Fargo. I plan to do more of this in the coming weeks/months. The guys who played here in the 1950s and early 1960s for the F-M Twins are a priority, as they are all in their 80s at this point. I've sent to five players who played for the F-M Twins and also appeared in the major leagues. 

The top three (Travis Hafner, Rick Helling, and Andy Young, as well as the bottom right, Tim Olson, are recent eBay pickups. The Coste is from Tom from Angels in Order, the Strahm was a cheap eBay pickup last year, and the Goltz was through the mail.)

Starting a display of players who played in Fargo. The Dick Stigman was obtained through the mail. The faded Coste and Akers autographs are from my childhood. Kes Carter and Correlle Prime (bottom right) are recent eBay pickups. 

Cooperstown, ND native Floyd Stromme - played 5 games for the 1939 Indians

Hall of Famers:

Shout out to Tom from Waiting Til Next Year who sent over four customs of non-players for my Hall of Fame set. Thanks Tom!

Player Collection Builds:

Still chipping away at these, too, usually throwing in a few Sandberg or Grace cards with other orders if I find new ones for my collection.

Hall of Fame Frankenset:

I almost forgot! An idea that I'd been tossing around for a while was a Hall of Fame Frankenset. It's truly insane that I'm putting together a third Frankenset, but even more insane that I almost forgot to include it in this post. I'm trying to find a card picturing a Hall of Famer for every card number 1 through 800. I've established that nearly every card number has a card that would qualify (still need to research a few of the high 700s in more detail). I started with less common players, because you don't want to fill card #7 with Wade Boggs when you need to put your one and only Mule Suttles card there. So I'm going for as broad of a representation of players as I can. 

So as you can see, I've had my hands in a lot of different projects. I going to try to narrow my focus and try to work on them more on a "one at a time" basis, but it's tricky when you know there are cards scattered among your various want lists that you can add to an order. I hope to provide more updates on some of these projects in the future. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Grand Finale: The Frankenset Recap (Pages 88 and 89: Cards 785 to 800)

Welcome to another installment of a series covering my completed Frankenset. I thought it would be fun to share the set page by page on this blog, and also provide some random commentary with each page. More information on the Frankenset as well as links to the pages that have been revealed can be found here.

Today we'll look at pages 88 and 89 of the set, which includes the final two pages, containing cards #785 to 800. Don't fear though, since I'm covering the set pages in a random order, this won't be the last edition of this series. 

A quick note about the size of the set: When I was putting together the set, I decided to go the over-ambitious route and make it a 800 card set. When I realized I would come up a few cards short of finding a good fit for each number, I decided to cheat a little and create checklist cards for the remaining numbers. Six of the cards in the final two pages are checklists, so those numbers will be omitted here. Without further ado, here's the end of the set!

1993 Conlon TSN #785 - Phil Collins

Shares the name of one of my favorite musical artists. The MLB Phil Collins was nicknamed "Fidgety Phil" for his pre-pitch restlessness.

1993 Donruss #786 - Alex Cole

Overshadowed by Chris Sabo among players with iconic goggles.

1996 Collector's Choice #787 - Royce Clayton

Blowing a bubble while turning two? Impressive. 

1984 Topps #788 - Milt May

You don't see a wad of chew like that much anymore. Probably for the better.

1993 Upper Deck #789 - Greg Myers

A case of really committing to the follow through on this swing. Or maybe not committing? 

1990 Upper Deck #790 - Ron Kittle

Kittle's gotta be on the short list of bespectacled 80s sluggers. See also: Reggie Jackson, Greg Luzinski.

1989 Upper Deck #792 - Bruce Hurst

It almost looks like he's smiling here, which is unlikely because this kind of looks like a swing and a miss. Further circumstantial evidence: Hurst batted .113 for his career. 

1991 Score #795 - Reds' October (Barry Larkin/Chris Sabo)

Ozzie Smith was well-known for his backflip, but Larkin flipped in joy after Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh to advance to the World Series. The Reds won the Series four games to none over Oakland.

2007 Upper Deck #797 - Gabe Gross

Nice shot of the stadium in the background on this one. I'm notoriously terrible for identifying stadiums, so I'll leave that up to the experts. (Looking in your direction, Bo.)

1991 Upper Deck #799 - Bud Black

Spending only 4 of his 15 seasons in the National League, the current Rockies manager batted .145 in 179 career at-bats. He currently ranks #70 in career managerial wins.

Thanks for visiting. Did you have a favorite from these pages? The Larkin flip probably gets my vote, but I also really like the Bud Black follow through and the Greg Myers bat throw.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Frankenset Recap (Page 38: Cards 335-343)

Welcome to another installment of a series covering my completed Frankenset. I thought it would be fun to share the set page by page on this blog, and also provide some random commentary with each page. More information on the Frankenset as well as links to the pages that have been revealed can be found here.

Today we'll look at page 38 of the set, which includes cards #335 to 343. 

1994 Topps #335, Kevin Mitchell

Kevin Mitchell signing autos, likely at Riverfront Stadium. Mitchell actually played parts of three seasons in Cincinnati, clubbing 30 homeruns in just 95 games in 1994. 

1992 Topps #336, Greg Anthony

If 1992 was a shirt, this would be it. 

1999 Topps #337, John Burkett

The follow through on this swing really looks like an AL pitcher, doesn't it? 

1992 Bowman # 338, Hensley Meulens

Meulens never lived up to expectations as a highly-touted Yankees prospect. His autograph can be had for a few dollars on eBay. 

1993 Upper Deck #339, Duane Ward

Was it magic gum? Ward posted a 1.95 ERA in 79 relief appearances in 1992. 

1990 Fleer #340, Robin Yount

Modern analytics wouldn't approve of bunting with a guy like Yount, the 1989 NL MVP. 

1992 Upper Deck #341, Glenn Braggs

Something's about to go down here, and it might get ugly. 

2001 Bowman #342, Grady Sizemore

Sizemore began his career with the Expos organization before being traded in 2002 along with Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens. In exchange, Cleveland sent Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew (J.D.'s brother) to Montreal. The Indians definitely got the better end of the deal. 

1990 Upper Deck #343, Ellis Burks

Keep your eye on the ball, Ellis. 

Do you have a favorite from this page? There's not a definite standout for me, but I'd say Sizemore with the Expos would be my pick. I also enjoy the Greg Anthony shirt and Robin Yount bunting.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The A to Z Player Challenge

The Diamond King recently posted his favorite card for his favorite player A to Z and challenged others to follow suit. I thought it seemed like a fun idea, so thought I would jump in. Along with each player is an actual card from my collection.

A - Grover Cleveland Alexander

Old Pete Alexander was a complex and troubled man, but a highly talented pitcher. He won 373 games and closed out game 7 of the 1926 World Series for the Cardinals at age 39. He was also a star pitcher for my Cubs for 9 seasons. Still need a Cub card of him.

Other favorite: Hank Aaron

B - Ernie Banks

Banks is a true legend. There are some other players that I really like, but I can't argue with Mr. Cub.

Other favorites: Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Jim Banning, Jeff Bittiger, Kris Bryant, Chief Bender

C - Chris Coste

From my hometown, Coste was my favorite non-major leaguer growing up when he played for our city's independent minor league team. He later went on to make the major leagues. 

Other favorites: Tony Campana, Ty Cobb, Roberto Clemente

D - Dave Dravecky

Dravecky's biography Comeback was one of the first baseball books I read and was really inspiring. I later got a chance to meet Dave, and he is a truly good guy.

E - Darin Erstad

Another local favorite, Erstad grew up about 90 miles from my hometown. A favorite memory is him and the Angels winning the 2002 World Series. He also won Gold Gloves at first base and center field and had 240 hits one season.

F - Julio Franco

I always liked Franco's batting stance and as well as players that seemed to play forever. Fun fact: Franco hit .222 in 27 at-bats playing independent baseball in 2014. He was 55 at the time.

G - Mark Grace

A close second for my favorite Cub, behind Ryne Sandberg. Grace played the game hard, had an awesome swing, was a great fielder, and just a true pro for many years. I was upset when he left Chicago for Arizona, but loved seeing him win it all in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Other favorites: Mudcat Grant, Tom Glavine, Dave Goltz

H - Rick Helling

A graduate of my high school (14 years my senior), Helling had a solid pitching career and even won 20 games one year.

Other favorites: Travis Hafner, Billy Hamilton (21st century player), Charlie Hough

I - Monte Irvin

Not many to choose from for this letter, but you really can't go wrong with this Hall of Famer. Plus, he was a Cub for a year!

J - Bo Jackson

Bo was a once in a generation talent. 

Other favorites: Walter Johnson, Jay Johnstone

K - Sandy Koufax

Koufax had one of the best, if not THE best, 5 year stretch of any pitcher ever. Plus, he's a really interesting guy in my opinion.

Other favorites: Harmon Killebrew, Jim Kaat

L - Nap Lajoie

This guy was so great he got a team named after him (the Cleveland Naps). Incidentally, I'd love to see that be their "new" name. Would be cool if this card wasn't a reprint.

Other favorite: Kenny Lofton, Michael Lorenzen

M - Roger Maris

I really like a lot of "M" players. But Maris is pretty much a no brainer here. An alumnus of my high school and a legend in my town.

Other favorites: Gus Munch, Greg Maddux, Minnie Minoso, Jamie Moyer, Christy Mathewson, Darryl Motley, Biz Mackey

N - Phil Niekro

Not a ton of players to choose from here, but can't go wrong with a guy who was effective into his late 40s. 

O - Buck O'Neil

I honestly don't know the purpose of having a Baseball Hall of Fame without having this guy in it.

Other favorites: Sadaharu Oh, Tony Oliva, Shohei Ohtani

P - Deacon Phillippe

To my surprise, this turn of the century great who won nearly 200 games played a season in my hometown, Fargo, ND. He was one of the players I researched when I wrote my book on the 1897 Red River Valley League. This is the oldest card in my collection, too.

Other favorite: Satchel Paige

Q - Dan Quisenberry

Not many to choose from here, but Quiz was a cool dude with an awesome delivery.

R - Old Hoss Radbourn

This pick is due in large part to a  fantastic baseball read called 59 in '84, by Edward Achorn. Radbourn is now credited with 60 wins for the 1884 season. He also gave a subtle middle finger to the camera nearly a century before Billy Martin did on his 1972 Topps card. In fact, that's the photo featured in the card shown above.

Other favorites: Nolan Ryan, Anthony Rizzo, Jackie Robinson

S - Ryne Sandberg

Ryno's my all-time favorite. A no brainer here.

Other favorites: Ron Santo

T - Jim Thorpe

Thorpe was the original all-around athlete. Baseball was not even close to his best sport, yet he still played parts of 6 seasons in the majors.

Other favorite: Luis Tiant

U - Bob Unglaub

This one's due to a local connection. Unglaub had just finished his third season as player/manager of the Fargo-Moorhead Graingrowers when he died in a tragic accident while repairing a locomotive. He was just 36 years old. I'm in the market for a non-reprint of Unglaub.

V - Omar Vizquel

I was never an Indians fan, but Vizquel was just too good not to like. 

W - Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood stole the hearts of many Cubs fans in 1998 as a dominant 20-year-old. Striking out 20 Astros in a game certainly helped. 

Other favorites: Maury Wills, Rube Waddell

Y - Michael Young

I became a Rangers fan in the mid-2000s after getting a chance to visit the Ballpark in Arlington. Young and Mark Teixeira were my favorites.

Other favorite: Cy Young

Z - Ben Zobrist

I first liked Zobrist when he helped the Royals win the World Series, so I was excited when he signed with Chicago. He came up clutch for the Cubs in 2016, too.

Other favorite: Bill Zink

Thanks for reading!