Thursday, December 31, 2015

1999 Topps Rafael Belliard

Growing up as a teenager in the late '90's, I got to watch a lot of good Atlanta Braves teams play on TBS. So I ended up rooting for them as a second favorite team behind my Detroit Tigers and before my Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays started playing. I even had my room painted in Braves colors at some point. 

Rafael Belliard was a key player on those clubs, starting a good share of games, and also coming off of the bench as a defensive replacement. Raffy got cards in Topps sets up till 1995, then was left off of the set starting from 1996 on. His last card on a major brand was in 1998, and no cards are listed for him in 1999 in the Trading Card Database, which I use for alot of the research as well as templates for my custom cards, so that means that nobody issued a card for Belliard with his final career stats on it.  

My custom just uses the relatively easy to use '99 Topps design, and I took the best picture I could find, resized it, and now Belliard has a sunset card. 

I hope everyone had a great 2015 and has a happy and safe 2016! I hope to post alot more customs, maybe put a dent on finishing some of the backs on my custom 1992 Topps set, and maybe get alot closer to giving many of the star players of the '90's and 2000's a sunset card, a coach card, a manager card, a highlight card, or a card the year after they won a World Series, as well as finish off the '98 and '99 Topps Devil Rays sets. Pretty lofty goals, but we'll see. Thanks for checking out my latest post.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Missing Managers Part 2: 1996 Topps Mike Hargrove

In 1994, Topps didn't produce any manager cards, the first time in forever that they didn't at least include a picture of the manager on a team card. I've made a few manager cards from the missing '94-'00 sets, and I really like how the '96 design turned out. I knew I needed something to distinguish the card as a manager one, and I decided to experiment with a bar ontop of the name, and I think it turned out well.
Mike Hargrove led the Cleveland Indians to the '95 World Series, which they ultimately lost the the Atlanta Braves in 6 games. Hargrove's Indians made it back in '97, losing again to the Florida Marlins in 7 games, with Game 7 going 11 innings long. Nobody knows what would've happened in 1994 had the season not gotten interrupted by the strike. I know of at least 3 simulated seasons with 3 different outcomes. Topps famously did their simulation and put the results on the back of their Cyberstats/Spectra Light parallel set. In their simulation, the Indians beat the Braves in the World Series. Dateline NBC did a sim, and theirs had the New York Bankee$ beating the Cincinnati Reds in the Series. I did one using Strategic Baseball Simulator, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Reds in the World Series.  One thing is for sure, Hargrove was a great manager, and he should've had a ring. Florida wasn't the best team in '97, and you could argue that in '94 the Indians were the best team going. I will probably make some more manager cards of Hargrove, maybe finish out his Topps run of cards by making his '94, '95, and '97-'00 cards.
I hope you enjoyed this missing manager card. Thanks for checking out my blog.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Favorite Player Collection Part 5: 1994 Topps Terry Leach

I figure hardly anyone except for maybe Mets, Royals, Twins, and maybe White Sox fans know who Terry Leach is. I started really following baseball during Terry's last year, so I really didn't know much about him until years later, even though I owned maybe 10 of his cards. I had been a big Florida State fan when it came to college football growing up. I hated the Florida Gators and really didn't pay attention to any other teams or rivalries. That changed in 2006. I moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and within a month or two, I had to decide which team to pull for, the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Auburb Tigers. That's the way it is in Alabama. You have to choose a side or they think you are crazy and it's like life or death with them. So I took a few weeks and kind of saw what each team had to offer. Auburn got screwed out of playing for the national championship just 2 seasons before, even though they were 14-0. They had a pretty good team and their fans for the most part seemed genuine and nice. Alabama fans just talked about past championships and how they won 20 titles and how great Bear Bryant was and how much lower class Auburn was. There were some nice fans in the bunch, but all I ever heard from 65+ percent of them was "Bear Bryant is God and Auburn sucks and we really did win 25 national championships, the NCAA doesn't know what they are talking about when they say it is only 9!"  So I decided to root for Auburn.
I collected ttm autographs back then and noticed that Leach was a good signer, so I got a few of his cards prepared to send him. I noticed on the back of one that he went to Auburn. I wrote him a request and put "War Eagle!" (Auburn's rally cry) at the end and sent it off. A few weeks later Terry sent the cards back signed with an index card inscribed "War Eagle!" on it. From then on, I collected Terry's cards.
Topps gave Terry his last card in the '93 set, even though he played his final season that year. He was left off of the '94 set and missed out on a sunset card. I made him this one, and I think it looks like it would fit right into the '94 set.
Terry recently wrote a book about life as a journeyman reliever, and tells some stories about his Auburn days in the book. I'm hoping to pick it up soon and check it out. He's usually good about answering his fan mail, so if you are into that, I'd send him a request.
I'm hoping Michigan State can beat the Tide so I don't have to hear about another Bama championship, but everyone knows that Bama pays the NCAA so they will probably have #26 in a few weeks.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of nice Bama fans, but the constant, never ending, 24-7 houndstooth wearing loudmouths who won't shut up about all their titles just get to me. It's kind of why I really don't care for FSU at all anymore. Their fans just won't shut up and never give anyone a break. I guess I should just be happy that college football doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of thigs.

Hope you enjoyed today's post and had a great Christmas and have a happy new year.
War Eagle!

Monday, December 21, 2015

1993 Topps Bip Roberts Season Highlights

Bip Roberts is a fan favorite among card collectors. He appeared on Topps cards throughout his career, but did miss out on a sunset card, which I plan on making in the future. In 1993, Topps didn't make any season highlight cards, and they missed out on a chance to make a card celebrating Roberts getting 10 hits in a row. This is my take on what the card could've looked like. I got the photo from the YouTube video of the game where he got his 10th hit. Some highlights cards that Topps have made just have some random photo, instead of the photo from the actual moment, so I wanted to make sure I had a photo from the actual play instead of a random one.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Topps needs to scrap the current version of Archives and make it into a set of cards that never were. They could put this card in the set, and quadruple print it, and insert it into packs so you get 4 of the Roberts card in a row. I'm sure some collectors wouldn't appreciate Topps "Bipping" them, but I would totally enjoy the irony. I think eventually I'll do a post outlining what I think an Archives cards that never were set would look like and contain, and maybe even make a fake sell sheet of it. They could really put out a nice base set, have autographs of course, do a 1 in maybe 5 pack insert featuring a pair of players that mixes a regular Topps card with one that Topps didn't make. They could have a 1 of 1 card where you would win a complete Topps run of  a player (including cards that never were) that would be autographed. You could also do a Topps Chrome/Bowman Chrome/Finest insert, a "What if?" insert featuring cards highlighting scenerios that didn't happen (Jeter getting drafted by Astros in '92, Pujols getting traded to Padres in '00, Braves drafting Todd Van Poppel instead of Chipper Jones in '90, Bill Buckner making final out in the '86 World Series, and so on. They could do another kind of "What if?" set featuring what sets could've looked like if they had started out a year before they really did, like a '92 Finest set, a '95 Topps Chrome set, and a '96 Bowman's Best set. And to make things really interesting, have an insert set featuring team cards that never were, and include oddball relics on them (a Braves tomahawk, an Angels Rally Monkey, a pack of the Brewers secret sauce, some Cubs ivy, stuff like that), and make them maybe 10-50 in all and serial numbered. Just some ideas to make the Archives set something every type of collector (basically would collect). Who knows, some Draft Pick cards (Mike Trout, Madison Bumgartner, Kris Bryant) could start commanding crazy prices.

I hope you enjoyed the Bip card and my rant on Archives. Maybe someday Topps will listen...Thanks for checking out my blog.


Friday, December 18, 2015

2001 Topps Doug Jones

Doug Jones was a valuable relief pitcher during his career. He set the Cleveland Indians saves record in 1988 and was generally at the top of the list of most saves every year. His rookie season was in 1982, but Doug didn't get a Topps card until the 1988 set. He appeared in most of the Topps sets from then on, getting his last card in the 1998 set. His last season in MLB was 2000, and he missed out on cards in the '99, '00, and '01 Topps sets.

I actually saw Doug pitch in '99 when the As came to Tampa to take on the Rays. Oakland didn't have a really good club back then but they must've had a lead in that game if they brought Doug in to close it.

This card was pretty easy to make and I think it came out pretty close to what a real 2001 Topps card would look like.

I'm almost finished making cards for the Dick Pole Project. Just have his '10 Topps card to do. I'll probably post them sporadically and finish up with a picture of his complete Topps run. Some great cards are coming up so stay tuned. Thanks for checking out my latest card.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Card # 100!! 1999 Topps Tropicana Field

For card #100, I chose to make one that showcases my love for my local Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays without having to choose a player. The only time I've really seen cards of stadiums in Topps sets are in some of those team exclusive sets sold at ballparks from I believe 2008 to the present. I am going to try to give all the '98 Devil Rays a card in the '99 Topps set, so why not throw a stadium card in the bunch too?

I have attended many Devil Ray games, it's probably getting close to 50. I would go to close to 5 a year for a while, and even though I haven't been there since 2013, I will always remember some great times there.

In '98, the teams first season, I went to an early April game as my first one ever. They played the Oakland A's, and I'll never forget it. I saw one of my favorite players, Rafael Bournigal, come in as a defensive replacement in the 9th. Raffy lived in Lakeland in the offseason (my hometown), and I met him at the local YMCA and he gave me a ride home once (more on that in an upcoming post). I also  saw Ricky Henderson play in that game, a legend who changed the game. After the game, I went down to the dugouts to try to get autographs. As pitcher Kenny Rogers was there, and he had family nearby so he was talking to them. I had a '94 Pinnacle Museum card of Kenny and right as I was about to hand it to him, a lady comes over and says she doesn't have that card and wanted to trade something for it. She turned out to be Kenny's mom, and had a bunch of his cards in her purse, so I traded my card for a '90 Upper Deck one and got it signed. Then, Kurt Abbott was sitting in the stands talking to some people. That is still the first and only time I've seen a big leaguer in the stands chatting with people after the game. He signed a card for me too.

I saw Rays pitcher Tony Saunders throw a no-hitter against the Orioles in '99 for 6 innings. The first hitter in the 7th, Mike Bordick, singled up the middle, breaking it up. That was the only hit he and the bullpen would allow.

I went to Opening Day in 2009, and saw the Rays raise their 2008 AL Championship banner while the New York Bankee$ had to sit and watch. The Rays scored like 19 runs that game, and it got so bad that Nick Swisher, the Yankees outfielder had to come in and pitch.

I've seen great players play there, like Ichiro, Cal Ripken, Ivan Rodriguez, I almost saw Barry Bonds play there, but the 1 game of that series that I went to he took off because he went to a funeral.

I saw Ripken play in his final season, and he was spectacular, signing autographs during batting practice for almost an hour.

So as you can see, I have a ton of great memories (and not so great, like seeing Dennis Springer and Esteban Yan giving up homer after homer) at Tropicana Field. I wish the Rays could take the stadium and move it to Orlando or some city that is a good city and not a run down area. It isn't the most beautiful stadium, but it was like a second home to me since 1998, and for that reason, it is card # 100 in my custom set.

I just finished my last softall game of the season tonight. We only won 1 game this year, and played the only team we beat in the first round of the playoffs. It was a close game, and we were down by 2 going into the top of the last inning. 2 players were on with 0 out and we had cut the lead to 1 when I came up. I am far from an athlete, and I was basically learning the ropes this season as I hadn't played softball in about 10 years, and that only for a game or 2. I walked earlier in the game, but had been like 1 for my last 20 up to that point. I ended up singling to left and bringing the tying run home. I thought the ball was caught and a runner was being thrown out at 2nd or 3rd, but apparently it got through. We won that game, and got to play 10 minutes after our first one. These guys were pretty good, but we kept them at bay. James, our pitcher was on fire, getting all kinds of called strikes, and ended up striking out 3 hitters. The game was knotted 5-5 and I don't remember how many outs there were, but a guy singled just over our shortstop's head, bringing a runner to 3rd. We kind of screwed around getting the ball to the pitcher, and after stopping at 3rd, the runner raced towards home. I was catching, and didn't get a throw. We tied the game again later, but I grounded out with a runner at 1st in the 7th. From there, we led off the Away half with a runner on 2nd (the last out of the previous inning, who was me) and 0 outs. Bill, our 2nd baseman popped out to shallow right, John, our centerfielder flew out to center, and I tagged up, making it to 3rd. Then Paul, our leftfielder, grounded out to end our half. We got 1 out in the bottom half of the inning, but the runner scored and we lost in walkoff fashion. It was a heck of a game, and I'm glad it wasn't a blowout. So now my church-league softball season is over and Monday nights are free again, so I'll have another day where I can make customs and post them. I ended up hitting .310 for the season (9 for 29, all singles), 5 runs, 7 RBIs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, and a few nice catches in RF. Can't wait for next season.

Thanks for checking out my blog and enduring some of my Rays memories and softball update. Hope you enjoyed the first 100 cards in my set.


Friday, December 11, 2015

1999 Topps Joe Carter

Joe Carter has appeared on many Topps card throughout his career, but also has missed out on a few cards. His last Topps card was a 1998 cards with the Toronto Blue Jays. He should've got a sunset card in 1999 with the Baltimore Orioles, but Topps didn't put him in the set. I made him one here to finish out his Topps run. I would've also loved to see Topps give him a card in the 1994 set highlighting his World Series winning HR in the '93 Series. This is what my version of the card would look like:

As you can see, the '99 Carter sunset card is the 99th card in my custom set. The 100th card in my set will be a kind of unusual card, but it has meaning to me, and since it is my set, I'm ok with that. I'll be doing some work with some blog themes in the next series (cards #101-150), and I may add some new themes if I can come up with some. 

I'll keep working on cards and probably post once or twice a week for the remaining of the year. Hoping to get some nice cards done and posted this year and get a few series done next year, maybe get up to the 200's. Thanks for checking out my latest card.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

2006 Topps Jason Varitek Gold Glove

A month or two ago I was reading a post about the 2005 Topps Alex Rodriguez Spokesman Insert set on 21st Century Topps Baseball, a blog dedicated to all things '90's Topps baseball up to the present. REJ, the owner of the blog stated how he wish Topps would re-issue more cards that never were, including some Mariano Riveras from '92-'95. I mentioned how I was working on a few, and asked if there are any more cards he knew of that Topps missed. He listed a card for the '05 Gold Glove Award winner at catcher was missing from the '06 Topps set. That seemed kind of mysterious, so I got to work finding out who the card was of and why it wasn't made. Turns out, it was mainly for the same reason that the ARod cards weren't.

In 1991, Jason Varitek played for the Team USA. Topps produced cards of the team in the '92 Topps Traded set. I guess Varitek had a feud with Topps or something, because he refused to sign a contract with Topps after that, similar to what ARod would do in 1992. After Varitek's '92 Topps Traded card, he missed out on cards in the '95-'06 (ARod would miss cards from '94-'97). It just so happens that Varitek won the AL Gold Glove award in '05 and that is why this card is missing from the '06 Topps set.

I might very well do a Missing Topps Cards segment on Varitek. There are some cool cards I could do, including his '95 Topps Draft Pick card, maybe even a '94 Topps Traded Draft Pick card, and a '96 Topps Prospects card. This card was a little difficult to make due to the curvature on the name part. I need to figure out a way to get text to go over a background without making it look all crappy. Paint has come a long way, but is still missing the mark on that part.

It's funny to see how there are a few players on Team USA cards who are missing Topps cards after that (ARod, Varitek, Charles Johnson to name a few). I wonder how many refused to sign Topps contracts and missed out on Draft Pick and early cards because of it. It would be interesting to get a list going.

I'm almost up to card #100 in my set. I really like how some of the cards have turned out, and I like the direction this set and blog is heading. I'm hoping to keep cranking out cards, and hopefully by next year, I will have a few of my usual segments with a good number of posts in them. I hope you enjoy reading them and seeing new cards that Topps should've made. Thanks for checking out my blog.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

1996 Topps Mike LaValliere

Mike LaValliere is probably best known for his role in the 1992 NLCS when Atlanta Braves first baseman Sid Bream beat Barry Bonds' throw to LaValliere, winning the game and the series for the Braves. I did a '93 Topps Postseason Highlights card of the play here. So, technically, this isn't the first card of LaValliere I've done on my blog.
Mike, or "Spanky" as his nickname is, was a good field, no hit catcher, who came up in 1984 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals in '85 and '86, and then went to the Pittsburgh Pirates from '87- midway of '93. He finished his career with the Chicago White Sox from '93-'95. His '85 Cardinals team made it to the World Series, and if not for a bad call, would've won it, and his '90-'92 Pirates made it to the NLCS in all 3 years. Then, in '93, he threw out 75% of runners trying to steal on him.
Mike's last Topps card was in '94. He didn't get Topps cards in his final 2 seasons, although he appeared on cards in '95 with a few different sets.
I've been finding that the '96 Topps set is pretty easy to make cards with, although '94 Topps is probably right behind it in difficulty. This card of Spanky was pretty easy to make, with the most difficult part being making the small photo. I've been working with some of the more difficult sets like '95 Topps lately, and those sets will start to become easier to deal with once I get the letters from the sets cut out so they won't have to be cut out each and every time I use the design, and I'll be able to crank out cards like crazy pretty soon.
I only have 1 more regular season softball game left. Yesterday I went 0-2 with an RBI at the plate (I've been in a pretty bad slump the past 4 games), but I made 2 difficult catches in RF. The first kept sinking, and I somehow caught up to it and caught it, but as my glove hit the ball, the force made the ball pop out of my glove. It was all in slow motion after that. I was picturing dropping the ball and making an error in my head as all of this was happening, but somehow dropped to my knees and the ball came back in my glove, and bounced again, but I grabbed it with my bare hand and held on for the out. 2 innings later, the same guy that hit the first one was up again, and he hit it to me again. I thought the ball would land right where I was standing, but at the last second it curved to the left, and I reached out to the left as far as I could, and caught the ball. I spun around as I caught it, and hurled the ball back to the infield. I kind of wish I would've wore a hat because I'm sure it would've fell off and kind of looked like a catch Willie Mays would've made. If I can just get a hit in next Monday's game, I will have a .300 batting average for the season. I really hope that happens, and  a win would be nice too as we have only won 1 game this year (against the team we will be playing).
My next card will be one that one of my readers has requested, and I'll give the reason why Topps didn't produce it as well. Thanks for checking out my blog.