Non-Team PC Players

This article was inspired by a tweet from a friend of mine @BigShep79 on Twitter. He posed the question “Who is the one player (not on your team) you’d want to or do PC?” The one player that immediately came to my mind is Tony Gwynn. He was my favorite non-A’s player growing up and, in fact, he still is my favorite non-A’s player.

Non-team PC player tweet.

In a way I do have a small PC of Gwynn. About 10 years ago I started to pull aside all of my Tony Gwynn cards. They currently sit in one of my boxes with some of my A’s collection. If I were to guess I would say there is probably about 50-75 cards in that stack. Most are base junk-wax cards, nothing too special. One of the more “interesting” cards I can remember is from the bottom of a 1988 Topps wax box. I haven’t bought too many more Gwynn cards since doing this, but I’ve been thinking about it more lately.

In thinking about this non-team PC concept, I wanted to take it a step farther. I am going to select a position player and a pitcher from three different “eras” for whom I would start a hypothetical PC. The three “eras” are: current, childhood and vintage.

Current players:
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Childhood players:
Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres
Randy Johnson, Seattle Mariners

Vintage players:
Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates
Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers

Honorable Mentions:
Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres – not really a childhood guy, more like an adult era player (for me). He was my favorite closer not named Eckersley during the 1990s.

Ernie Broglio, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs – he was the Cubs return in the infamous Brock for Broglio trade. How did that work out for you Cubs? He is also a local (Northern CA) guy.

Red Schoendienst, St. Louis Cardinals – I have been told that I look like his doppelganger.

Dave Kingman, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics – technically he did play for my team from 1984-86, so he’s not a true non-team player. I have recently decided to start a PC of him. Kingman was one of my first “favorite players” and that is why I wanted to mention him here.

There are plenty other players I could list, but these are some of the ones that immediately came to mind.

What’s really interesting about this question is the diversity of the answers received thus far. One would think that guys like Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Derek Jeter, Kris Bryant would have dominated the responses. Instead the players are as diverse as the collectors. Of 14 collectors who have responded, at the time of this writing, only two players have been doubled up: Tony Gwynn and Mike Trout. The list contains 14 other players including: Roberto Clemente, Wil Myers, Ryne Sandberg, Nolan Arenado, Bo Jackson and Julio Franco.

It will be interesting to see where this list goes. Another facet that would be worth looking at is why? For most collectors when it comes to PC players the reasoning is more that just, “I like that player.” There is something specific about that player that really drew the collector to them.

As stated at the beginning of the article, if I were to only select one my non-team PC player would be Tony Gwynn. Why Tony Gwynn? He was the absolute best hitter in my childhood/young adult life. Every time I saw him play, he would rack up a couple hits per game. I don’t think I ever saw him strike out in any of the games I watched. He was fun to watch. I remember watching the game in August of 1999 when Gwynn slapped a single to right-center for his 3000th career hit. There was just something special about watching Tony Gwynn.

tony-gwynn

Feel free to comment below or on Twitter about your non-team PC selection. Let me know why! I would like to follow up on this article with other collector’s thoughts.

You can find me on Twitter: @bicemusic

 

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Jesus Luzardo heading to Midland

After only 3 starts Oakland’s No. 2 Prospect, Jesus Luzardo, has been promoted to AA Midland RockHounds. During his brief stint with the Stockton Ports, Luzardo gave up only 2 runs and 6 hits in 14.2 innings. He also struck out 25 batters and walked only 5.  In his last outing on April 17th he did not allow a hit and walked 1 in five innings against the Modesto Nuts.

Luzardo0405

Athletics No. 2 Prospect Jesus Luzardo pitching for the Stockton Ports on Opening Night, April 5, 2018

Luzardo’s first start with the RockHounds will likely take place on Tuesday at Corpus Christi. Right now Midland’s starting pitcher is listed as TBD for that game.

Luzardo’s promotion may seem fast, but he impressed many people during Spring Training this year. Luzardo pitched in 3 games, 2 as a starter. In those outings, he did not give up any runs, compiled a 2-0 record and earned a save in his lone relief appearance.

The top prospect is one of now four 20 year-old starting pitchers to make it to AA for the Oakland A’s in the past 20 years. According to Melissa Lockard (Twitter: @melissalockard) the most recent to do this were Rich Harden (2002), Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson (both in 2008). Among this group Luzardo has the fewest Class A Advanced starts with 3. Both Cahill and Anderson had 13 starts each for the Stockton Ports in 2008. Harden had 12 starts for the Visalia Oaks in 2002 before earning his promotion.

Interestingly enough both Cahill and Anderson have rejoined the A’s for the 2018 season. Cahill made his first start in Oakland on April 17th. Anderson is pitching great in AAA Nashville with a 1.38 ERA in 3 starts while striking out 20 in 13 innings pitched.

The 20 year-old lefty was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2016 Draft out of Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, FL). Luzardo was acquired by the Oakland Athletics with Blake Treinen and Sheldon Neuse (Oakland’s No. 11 Prospect) in the trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington.

For a video primer of Luzardo’s first 2 starts with Stockton, I recommend Real McCoy Baseball’s YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter @RealMcCoyBaseball

Collecting Goals – March 2018

I have been thinking a lot about my card collection lately. I have a lot of Oakland Athletics cards, it is one of my passions. Recently, a new friend of mine Ben (Twitter @ourtradingcards) sent me a copy of his Oakland A’s master checklist.  Looking through this checklist, I realized that there are a lot of cards I don’t have. There are some sets that I never even knew existed.

I have decided that I am going to set collecting goals for myself each month. I am on a budget and I need to limit and focus my spending. This will help me save money for sets and hobby boxes I really want, like Bowman and Topps Pro Debut, while making progress on my Oakland A’s collection.

Each month, I am going to pick up a few Oakland Athletics Team Sets I do not have. One will be a Vintage set. Vintage I will define as pre-1980s cards. One will be a set from 1980-1999. One will be a set from 2000-2017. The final one(s) will be any team sets from new releases.

Here are the team set I am planning to purchase for March 2018
Vintage: 1954 Bowman
1980-1999: 1988 Mother’s Cookies Oakland Athletics SGA
2000-2017: 2009 Upper Deck
New Releases: 2018 Topps Heritage (02/28), 2018 Donruss (03/07), 2018 Topps Opening Day (03/14)

Note: Topps Gypsy Queen, Inception and Tribute also release in March, but I will likely be saving those sets for pickup in April. March is a release heavy month.

Vintage
I chose the 1954 Bowman as my Vintage set because it is a simple design that I have always liked. There are 14 cards in this team set and I already have 2 in my collection: Bobby Shantz (#19) and Alfred Robertson, Jr (#211)

1980-1999
The Mother’s Cookie Cards are some of my favorite cards. For the most part they have a full-bleed design (no borders), good profile photos and a nice glossy finish. These are typically limited in quantity (approximately 15,000 sets each year) because they were a Stadium Give Away (SGA). I chose the 1988 set because it is one I have been wanting because it was the first year I really followed the A’s. I’ve been a fan since 1985, but didn’t really start following intently until late 1987.

2000-2017
I chose the 2009 Upper Deck because I’m pretty sure my Local Card Shop (LCS) has this team set and I want to support them while picking up something I need.

The sets in these goals will not be all that I buy, but they will be the primary focus of my spending.

Spring Training in Full Swing on Monday

The pitchers and catchers reported this past Wednesday. Position player reported to camp today. The first full-squad workouts begin on Monday. This is an exciting time of the year for sure!

The Oakland Athletics will kick off their 35 game Spring Training Schedule (including split squad games) on Friday in Mesa, AZ against the LA Angels of Anaheim. The Spring schedule will conclude with the annual Bay Bridge Series March 25th-27th. One game in Oakland and two in San Francisco.

Lineup Card: Stockton Ports vs. Modesto Nuts – July 28, 2017

I have always wanted to get a lineup card. I have seen people at Banner Island Ballpark with ones from previous games getting them autographed. I have never been lucky enough to get one from a coach or manager. Towards the end of the season I was at a Modesto Nuts game and in the team store they were selling game-used lineup cards. They were $25 and the proceeds went to the charity fund. I thought it was a decent price, but I didn’t think much about buying one until I noticed one detail: they were autographed by the Nuts players. This was a deal I couldn’t pass up.

I looked through the cards to find ones where they played Stockton. I found a couple and settled on the one from Friday, July 28th. I wasn’t at that game, but it turns out that I was at the game the next day. I went with this card for 2 reasons. The first is that Sheldon Neuse, Oakland’s No. 13 prospect, went 3 for 5 and hit his first 2 home runs in the Athletics organization. Neuse had come over from the Washington Nationals with Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trade on July 16th. The other reason is that Seattle’s No. 1 prospect, Kyle Lewis, is on the lineup card (on the bench) and he autographed it.

As you can see, I have since framed the lineup card with some autographed cards of some players on the Ports. I don’t think I am going to get the Ports players to sign the lineup card. At this point it will be too difficult. Many of them will likely not be on the team next year.

 

Reorganizing the Website

Times change. People change. Websites change. I want to keep this website up and running, but I don’t have time to post the type of content that I initially envisioned. So I decided last week to rededicate this website to my baseball card collection and Oakland A’s memorabilia.

I have already started to add pages about sets in progress, including lists of cards I need. I plan on adding more info about my large and still growing autograph collection, as well as pages for players that I have in my personal collection (PC).

I will still occasionally us this as a forum for news and info about the Oakland A’s or their Minor League System, but for now I will be utilizing this site primarily for my collection.

As always if you have any comments please feel free to post them!

MLB Authentic Memorabilia: Jharel Cotton 08/14/2017

I went to an Oakland Athletics game on September 26th and I picked up another MLB Authentic baseball. This time I got a ball from pitcher Jharel Cotton. The game was on August 14, 2017 against the Kansas City Royals.

I chose this ball because Jharel Cotton is one of my top two favorite pitchers on the A’s right now. He was bounced around a little bit this year between AAA Nashville and Oakland. He has started to come around as of late and I think he is going to be a solid starter next year.

This ball had a lot of “life” in it. It comes from the Top of the 6th inning and was used against three different batters. The Authentication details are below.

Cotton JC366237 Details

The first batter was Jorge Bonifacio, who struck out on a 2-2 count. Next was Alcides Escobar who hit an infield single on the second pitch. Finally this ball was popped up to second base by Alex Gordon. Both the single and the pop up was fielded by Chad Pinder. Again there are a lot of details in the Authentication which is one of the things I love about these items.

MLB Authentic Memorabilia: Bruce Maxwell 07/14/2017

I have made it a goal for myself to pickup a piece of MLB authentic memorabilia whenever I go to a Major League Baseball game. Ideally, I would like to pick up a ball or something from that particular game that I attended. However, if that does not work out, then it should be something from one of my favorite players.

On September 23rd, I went to an Oakland Athletics game with my Brother and my Nephew. I picked up my first authenticated ball. This ball comes from a game on July 14, 2017. It was a double hit off the bat of Bruce Maxwell against Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco.

Maxwell JC353510 Ball I chose this ball because Bruce Maxwell has always been one of my favorite players. I first met him in 2013 when he was promoted mid-season to the Stockton Ports. He has always been nice to me and my family. When Bruce was in Stockton, he would come out to the field early an talk with us for a few minutes before he had to go stretch. Even now as a Major League player he will still talk to us if we see him at a game. I know Bruce understands that things like this mean a lot to people and that is why he is a fan favorite.

The cool thing about the authentication is that you can go to the MLB Authentication Website and get details of the “life” of the ball. He are the details for this particular ball.

Maxwell JC353510 DetailsThere is a lot of information here such as type of pitch, pitch speed and the count. In this case it even includes the hit launch angle, hit speed, distance and who fielded the ball.

This is the third MLB Authentic item I own. I am really happy to have it in my collection. Tomorrow, I will post the ball I picked up at the A’s game on September 26th. My first two items are a couple of bats thatI picked up at the A’s Fan Fest back in January. I post about those at a later time.

2017 Topps Heritage High Number Hobby Box Recap

The other day I opened a hobby box of 2017 Topps Heritage High Number. Over the past couple of years Heritage has become one of my favorite series to open. I enjoy all of the Heritage including the Heritage Minor set. The nice thing about the Heritage High Number is that the set is smaller, 225 cards (including short prints), so there is a higher percentage of set completion from a single box.

This particular set picks up where the Topps Heritage leaves off. The base set is card number 501-700 and the last 25 (numbers 701-725) are short prints. There are 24 packs per box and each pack has 9 cards. Every hobby box comes with a topper and a hit. The topper is either a 3-card Ad Panel, 1968 Original Buyback or a Poster. The hit is either a relic card or an autograph card.

Here are some stats for this box:

Base Cards (501-700): 191 cards, no duplicates = 95.5% complete
Short Prints (701-725): 8 cards, no duplicates = 32% complete
Total Set (501-725): 199 cards = 88.4% complete

Based on the set completion percentage alone, there is no need to buy a second hobby box, unless you are chasing hits. Notable Rookie Cards in this set are: Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ and Matt Olson.

Fortunately, I pulled all 12 Oakland Athletics cards:

Notable inserts:
Chrome
Base: Koda Glover 558/999
Refractor: Kyle Freeland 453/568

Inserts
Now and Then: Aaron Judge
Now and Then: Andrew Benintendi
Nolan Ryan Highlight: Breaks Strikeout Record

2017 HHN Inserts

Parallel and Variations
Action Image Variation: Brandon Phillips
Blue Border: Josh Reddick (not serial numbered, but only 50 made)

2017 HHN Parallels

Box Hit
Clubhouse Collection Relic: Masahiro Tanaka

2017 HHN Tanaka

Box Topper
1968 Originals Buyback: Ray Culp.

2017 HHN 1968 Buyback

Other Insets (not pictured)
Rookie Performers (2): Bradley Zimmer; Dansby Swanson

Award Winners (3): Kris Bryant – MVP; Eric Hosmer – ASG MVP; Kris Bryant – Hank Aaron Award

Combo Cards (2): Carlos Correa/George Springer – Houston Hammers; Eric Thames/Domingo Santana – Brewers Bashers

Now and Then (1): Wil Myers – Triple for the Cycle

All in all, this was a fun box to break. Hertiage is known for having many variations, parallels and error cards to chase. Not all of the variations are obvious so you have to look closely at many of the cards to make sure you are not missing anything. Check out Cardboard Connections’s Heritage High Number Variation Guide for more info.

With the high percentage of set completion and the variations to chase, I believe this box is worth the money.

Have you bought any 2017 Topps Heritage Minors? Whether it is a single pack, retail Blaster Box or a Hobby Box, comment below and let me know what you think of this set!

The Highs and Lows of Graphing in One Day

When you collect in person autographs there many highs and lows. There is nothing better than when you get most, if not all, of the cards or items you wanted signed. You develop friendships with other graphers at the ballpark as you talk to kill time waiting for players.

On the other side there are low times where the freshly written autograph gets smeared. Or there are times where the player you’ve been patiently waiting for tells you, “after the game,” or a straight up “No.” There is no worse feeling than when the pen fails and the item is ruined.

Those who collect autographs have all been there. It’s all a part of the game. These are the things that will happen time and time again. You can only hope that there are more highs than there are lows.

On Wednesday, May 17th I experienced some really good highs, followed promptly by the lowest of lows. The Inland Empire 66ers were visiting the Stockton Ports. There are quite a few prospects on the 66ers that I wanted to get. Also, Rickey Henderson, who serves as a roving instructor for the Athletics Minor League System, was in town so there was a small chance of getting his auto as well.

When some of the 66ers started to come out, I noticed Matt Thaiss and asked him to come over. He was really great about it. As he came over he noticed one of the other grapher’s book had a couple cards of another player, Kyle Survance, Jr. Matt said, “Hey, you need Kyle? He’s right here. Kyle come over here.” This was the first time I ever had a player ask another player to come over and sign for us. That was a really cool experience.

I ended up getting all, but one or two of the players I was looking for, so it was a really good pre-game session. As I got back to my seat, I noticed that Rickey Henderson was signing for a few people. I had brought a card with me and as always a Major League Ball. In the last moment I decided to get the ball signed instead of the card. I hand the ball and to Rickey and he starts to sign it. Then the worst possible thing happens. The pen fails.

I was so heart broken. He got through his first name and the pen failed as he was signing his last name. I couldn’t believe my luck. This was the same pen that I used the last couple of days to get Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett on Major League Balls. When I got back to my seat, I promptly snapped the pen in half and threw it on the ground.

I have been an Oakland A’s fan since 1985. Rickey is a player I grew up watching. He is one of my all time favorites. To have this happen is heart breaking. I hope that one day I can get this ball replaced. I do have a a California League Ball signed by Rickey, so at least I have that.

At this point I have opted to not attach a picture of this ball. I might change my mind and post it later. If you do want to see a picture then comment below and I’ll likely post it.