Wednesday, January 30, 2008

1992 Topps Kids - Julio Franco

Today's card of the day comes to you by special request. My three-year-old son was watching as I flipped through one of my binders in search of a suitable card to post. When I turned to the 1992 Topps Kids team set he enthusiastically pointed to Julio Franco and shouted, "Use that one!"

I guess that the set accomplished the purpose that Topps had for it. The packs were cheap (even by 1992 standards), the set was small, and the graphics were obviously designed to catch young eyes. Topps stated at the time that the goal of the set was to re-involve younger collectors in the hobby.

As for Franco, he seems to be enjoying his well built upper body. Perhaps savoring his 1991 batting title? The back of the card helpfully informs us that in the off-season Julio loves to go fishing.

Franco is one of those players from the days when I knew all there was to know about the Rangers. Part of the lineup I had memorized and even today can still occasionally pull up. The teams I always prayed would win but always seemed to come up short late in the season. I like these kind of cards. Brings back memories and reminds me that collecting can be enjoyable without swatches of uniforms or pieces of bats in every card.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

1974 Topps - David Clyde

1974 Topps #133 - David Clyde.
On his rookie card Clyde looks just like the 18-year-old kid that he was when the Rangers brought him up in 1973. I grew up hearing about the team rushing him to the majors with no minor league experience. My Dad always said that he thought they did it more for the novelty rather than David's pitching prowess.

Looking at the stats that might have been the reason. David lasted a total of five years in the bigs, three with Texas and two with Cleveland. He started 73 games in that time period while making 84 appearances. In 1975 (his last year with Texas) he only took the mound once, losing in seven innings. Traded to Cleveland he wouldn't play in the majors again until 1978. 1978 and '79 with Cleveland and that was it. Got traded back to Texas in 1980 (didn't play), released the same year, signed by Houston in 1981 and dropped off the radar screen. He would have been 25 at the time. To the top and back in record time.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Recent pickup

Picked this up in a trade over the weekend. It is a coffee table type book of mostly pictures by Ronald Modra. The pictures are all baseball with comments by Modra throughout the book. There is only one Ranger pictured in the book but Pudge is on the cover. The same picture is inside along with the story of how it was obtained. Neat story. While it appears that Ivan just threw out a runner in a close game he is actually standing in the bullpen in Arlington before the game even started. I don't know about you but I really like these non-card memorabilia items.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

1992 Upper Deck - Kevin Reimer

1992 Upper Deck #201 - Kevin Reimer. Say what you will about Upper Deck but they seem to come up with neat shots for several cards every year. Look at Kevin shaving away on that bat handle. Supposedly it increases your power. I always wondered if it wasn't just a clever marketing tool by Louisville Slugger to increase bat sales to replace the ones that splintered. It might have worked though. Kevin went from 2 home runs in 1990 to 20 in 1991.

I remember Reimer playing for Texas. Kept hoping that he would pan out but he never quite jelled. He played through 1992 with Texas and then the 1993 season with the Brewers. His highest batting average was .269 and his career was .258. Since his career fielding percentage was almost 40 points below the league average it is no wonder he couldn't hang on.

Friday, January 25, 2008

2005 MLB Showdown Trading Deadline - Sandy Alomar Jr.

Sandy Alomar Jr. puts in an appearance on this 2005 MLB Showdown Trading Deadline #28. Gotta like the image of the catcher springing up and tossing his mask while chasing the pop foul. I always kind of had a soft spot for Sandy Jr. and thought it was kind of neat that he would end up playing a year for the same team his father did. In 46 games in 2005 he hit .273 and was gone the next year. Not long with the team but long enough to have several cards issued.

This card is also interesting to me because just last year I tried MLB Showdown for the first time. The game was printed from 2000 through 2005 and is now out of print. I traded a guy for a starter set on a whim and got hooked. Fun game that uses the stats from year to year to determine how the players perform in the game. The game allows you to make up your own roster and manage your team. Ever think that the Rangers should have held on to a player and that a team with Raffy, Young, Blalock, Gonzo, Tex, I-Rod, A-Rod, and the best pitching from 2000 through 2005 would have been great? Well you can do that with this game. Of course I had to get a team up. I am still tweaking but can't seem to be able to handle the Red Sox team my wife assembled. Has anyone else tried this game? Does anybody still play?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

1997 Best autographs - Andrew Vessel

1997 Best Andrew Vessel autograph. This card combines the two categories of a pack inserted autograph and minor league cards.

Andrew is shown here in his Charlotte Rangers uniform as he toiled away in A+ ball. An outfielder in the Rangers farm system for six seasons Vessel never got above AA ball and played one more season in the minors for the Cubs before hanging it up at the end of the 1999 season. Obviously not a high demand auto.

This begs the question, why would anyone want this card? For that matter what about the cards of a plethora of other minor leaguers who never got the call? Well, if you are related to any of them or are a fan of the local team that makes sense. In my book it also makes sense if you are a collector of the parent team. I try to get my hands on any Rangers minor league cards I can get. It doesn't matter to me if the guy never played in Arlington, he played for the organization and that's good enough for me. Of course not all team collectors go that far. That doesn't make them any less a fan of their team, everyone has to have a limit and a focus.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1976 Hostess - Tom Grieve

1976 Hostess #130 - Tom Grieve. Most all Rangers fans are pretty familiar with Tom. After being drafted #1 by the Senators he played all but two of his nine years in the bigs for the Rangers. After retiring he moved to the Rangers front office and served for several years as general manager and now as a broadcaster. While he did trade away Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez he also traded for or signed Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Bobby Valentine.

I find this card to be a neat glance back over 30 years ago. Tom looks ready to take on the world. Did he even suspect that his son would eventually also make it to the bigs? I doubt it. Also gotta love the setting. Apparently the picture was taken in Kansas City. Not sure if it is the same one or not but the Royals still have the crown just beyond the outfield fence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

1975 Topps - The Texas Rangers

1975 Topps #511 - The Texas Rangers. I have always thought that the 1975 set would have looked better in the 60's what with the color variations and such. Of course, if Topps had agreed then I wouldn't be able to pick up any for my Rangers collection.

By the time I started collecting in 1987 Topps had done away with the team photo cards. Too bad in my book. I remember getting these from the years they were issued and thinking they were the coolest thing. Even hung on to the teams that I didn't like, just because I thought the team cards were neat. I thought it was great a few years ago when Topps brought them back.

Monday, January 21, 2008

1984 Topps - Jon Matlack

1984 Topps Jon Matlack. Not much to look at but still one of the more favored cards in my collection for a couple of reasons.

This was the last card that Jon had issued during his MLB playing career. Sure he had several minor league and looking back cards issued later but this was the end of the line for active player cards. After a dismal season in 1983 the Rangers placed him on waivers and he went unclaimed.

This was also the first Jon Matlack card I ever managed to get my hands on. The beginning of a pretty large Matlack collection. I didn't actually start collecting until 1987 and so the card was already three years out of print. It wasn't until even later that I latched onto Jon. Somebody gave me his 1984 Topps card on a whim and I was hooked. Spent the next several years asking for his cards at any shop or show I went to. The Internet was not on my radar screen yet and buying cards online was something I couldn't yet foresee. I kind of miss the shows and shops but I have to say that I have managed to pick up a lot of Rangers and Matlack cards from online that I could never have found before.

New Links

Adding a couple of new links today. First is Peggy's. This is an online trading forum that is not near as big as The Bench. I started my online trading there and have enjoyed it. Not a whole lot going on but the members are friendly. As with The Bench, if you give it a try tell them Spiff sent you.

Second link is to the official Texas Rangers site. A must have for Rangers fans, especially if you aren't in the Rangers' home area.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jennings signs.

The Rangers signed Jason Jennings on Thursday. Good news. If he stays healthy it is hoped that he will make a difference in the "W" column. It would be nice to see the team make an upward step this year. I don't think that anyone believes they can win it all but a winning season would be nice.

So, do I go out and gather up all the Jason Jennings cards I can find now that he is a Ranger? I know some collectors do it that way but I don't. I'll wait for his cards in a Rangers uniform and won't dump them when he leaves the team. Nothing wrong with the other style, it just isn't mine.

Friday, January 18, 2008

2002 Leaf Game Collection - Rusty Greer

Today's card is a 2002 Leaf Game Collection Rusty Greer game used bat. Sadly the card doesn't scan well due to being so shiny.

Game used and autographed cards were something new when I got back into collecting after a few years off. Still not exactly sure what I think about them. I like the idea and most of the time enjoy getting them. The downside is the loss of something in the hobby though. Can't quite put my finger on it but it's missing. It seems that these cards get more that their fair share of attention. Some folks won't even look at anything that isn't game-used or autographed. Seems that the simple joy of getting a card of your favorite team or players is not as popular as it used to be. Now it's the chase for the memorabilia cards. For the most part I tend to try to avoid this mentality. The reason I like the game used I have is because they are Rangers cards. If they weren't then they would be on the trade block to get Rangers I want for my collection.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New links

Going to add a couple of links to sites I enjoy. The first is to an online trading forum called The Bench. The site has over 5,000 members and yet is very comfortable. Pete, the owner, and his team of moderators do an excellent job and keep things under control. The trade manager feature is extremely nice as well. If you want to give online trading a shot and haven't tried The Bench yet you really ought to. Tell them Spiff sent you.

Second site is another card blog that I have enjoyed called Squeezeplay Cards. Joey collects more than just baseball and writes in a way that is very enjoyable. He has a few players he focuses on but overall just talks about cards in general.

1989 Baseball Cards Magazine - Fence Busters

Today's card is a 1989 Baseball Cards Magazine card. Remember those? They came in the magazine in sheets and you were supposed to cut them out yourself. I got this one already cut in a trade a while back.

Brought back some memories when I saw this card. I remember when Eric Davis was the cat's meow, Franco was feared, and Ruben Sierra was the Rangers' future. I kept hoping through those years that Texas would be able to put something together but it just never happened.

I do like this card though. The design is simple and reminds me of a time when cards were mostly fun rather than dollar signs with a little enjoyment on the side. I also like looking at the odd-ball stuff when I come across it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1972 Topps - Rangers Rookies

Since this is the start of the blog I thought it only proper to start with one of the first Rangers cards ever made. I do collect the ‘61 - ‘71 Senators as well, but 1972 was the first year of the team in Texas as the Rangers. This 1972 Topps #334 shows Rookies Bill Fahey, Jim Mason, and Tom Ragland. Gotta love the airbrushed caps and helmet. According to the card they were all three “Rookie Stars.”

Bill Fahey lasted 11 seasons; playing five of them for Texas. His career average was .241 and he had a fielding percentage of .989. Not too bad but I am thinking that he didn’t turn out to be the star that either Topps or Texas had in mind.

Jim Mason played 229 games for Texas in two different stints with the team. His career batting average in nine seasons was .203 for seven different teams. His overall fielding percentage was .958. Not exactly an impact player.

Tom Ragland lasted all of 25 games with Texas and was out of baseball after spending 1973 with Cleveland. His batting average for Texas was .172 and he fielded .985 in his career. Not much else to say there.

Overall the kind of the “rookie stars” one would expect on a team moving from Washington after spending most of their ten years there in the basement.


Welcome. I have been looking around at several excellent blogs that focus on collecting cards and memorabilia of one team or the other. Haven't been able to find one though that includes the Texas Rangers so I decided to give it a shot myself.

I collect any cards or other "stuff" of players in a Rangers uniform. I also collect Jon Matlack and Ivan Rodriguez (both even out of Rangers uniform). Most of the time I am planning on posting about the Rangers but I will throw in Matlack and I-Rod on occasion.

Hope you find this to be an enjoyable read.