Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oakland A's 40th Anniversary: Inaugural Program

Today's blog is a slight departure from my usual Rickey Henderson related posts. On top of being a Rickey Henderson collector, in case you didn't already figure it out, I'm also a really big Oakland A's fan. The A's have been celebrating their 40th year in Oakland all season long, and since today is the season finale, I thought I'd share a program that I have from that first year.

This is a 1968 A's "Premiere Yearbook," which my Dad purchased at a game that year (and thankfully saved and passed along to me), for the bargain price of $0.75. You've just got to love that Oakland font!

When the A's came to Oakland in 1968, Joe Dimaggio was actually their Vice-President and Coach. Not a bad guy to have helping out some of their younger guys!

Catfish was still at the beginning of his Hall of Fame career in 1968, after entering the Majors without playing any Minor League ball. He threw a perfect game on May 8, 1967, the first in the American League since 1962.

Here's a real young Tony LaRussa, way before he would go on to manage the A's to a World Series title.

With the first pick of the 1966 free agent draft, the A's chose Reggie Jackson, who received an $80,000 signing bonus. What a steal! I just love the picture of Reggie at the top, it's just a classic baseball shot. It almost looks like a painting, and due to the poor quality of some of the photos, it just might be.

The A"s had a pretty good group of "future prospects" in 1968, with Rolland Fingers (aka Rollie) obviously being the cream of the crop. Rene Lachemann, another future A's coach, and Vida Blue are also included.

Compared to the ridiculously large LCD screen that will be installed at the new Yankee Stadium, this seem a little outdated, but this is a pretty interesting article about the "world's first computer controlled scoreboards." The left field scoreboard was actually the "largest animation board in the world," and both boards can be "revised as action occurs on the field." I bet this was a pretty big deal at the time!

Charlie Finley is known for his outlandish stunts, with one of his most popular being the A's mascot, "Charlie O" the mule.

Speaking of outlandish stunts, the A's had a "Farmer's Night" featuring a hog-calling contest, cow milking, and even a greasy pig contest. I bet the umpire felt a little silly getting his new baseballs from a pop-up Bugs Bunny. I wonder how long that lasted, and how often it actually worked.

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the many interested advertisements that were included in the program. The old ads in magazines are usually one of my favorite parts. This one is for KBHK TV Channel 44, promoting "25 televised A's games this season from every American League in color!"

The games were in color, but unfortunately, other than the front and back covers, the rest of the program is in black in white. In 1968 the A's were only a few years away from back-to-back-to-back titles, and have only have one World Championship since then. It's definitely time for another one!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rickey Henderson Collectible Coins

It's been awhile since I've done a "collectibles" post, and a new acquisition prompted me to put this one together. These posts tend to take a lot longer to write than others, but they are always my favorite!

Over the years there have been quite a few coins and medallions produced featuring Rickey. I've included all of the ones in my collection below, but would welcome feedback from other collectors about any others that may exist out there.

This coin is the most recent Rickey collectible I've obtained. It's one that I've never seen before, don't know anything about, and would appreciate any help that any readers may provide. The gold colored coin is about 1 1/4" across, and only about 1/32" thick. It's a pretty light coin, and looks like a token that you might use to pay for the batting cages. The coin commemorates Rickey's single-season stolen base record from 1982, but it's unclear if the coin was produced at that time, or at a later date.

On a slight history diversion, Topps inserted their first set of metal coins in the 1964 set. The coins above are actually in my personal collection, and were given to me by my dad, who actually collected them at the time (which I think is so much cooler than picking them up on eBay!).

Topps released another coin set in 1971, took a fairly long break, and then released a set each year from 1987-1990. However, these coins weren't inserted in packs of baseball cards, but were included in separate coin only sets.

Rickey was included in the 48-coin 1987 set, but for some reason, was excluded in the both the 1988 and 1989 sets, which had been increased to 60 coins. You can buy an entire box of the coins (as seen above) on eBay right now for $20.00.

Rickey was added back in to the 1990 60-coin set, the last year that Topps would produce them.

Not only was Rickey included in the 1990 coin set, but his coin was featured on the wrapper, as well as the side of the box that the packs came in.

In 1990 Bandai released a set of Sport Stars Coins with Rickey included in the set. These coins are about 1 1/2" across, 1/8" thick, and fairly heavy. These came in a pack with two coins (one visible, and one bonus coin). The back of the coin is copyrighted "1990 Bandai," and includes both the MLB and MLBPA logos. I've actually never seen an unopened package with Rickey visible. The scan above is taken from the web to show an example of the packaging.

In 1992 Bandai once again released a set of coins, with only slight variations from the 1990 set. Bandai must have lost their license with MLB, but still maintained the one with the MLBPA, as the front of Rickey's 1992 coin is exactly the same as the 1990, with only the A's logo removed from his hat, and the A's logo in the corner replaced with the MLBPA logo. On the back, similar changes have also taken place. This coin is copyrighted "1992 Sports Stars Collector Coins," with no mention of Bandai. On both years coins, they managed to spell Rickey's name correctly on the front, only to spell it "Ricky" on the back!

These coins could be purchased in three different sets, with the Rickey coin appearing in the upper right corner of the "blue" version (the others were black and red). I'm not sure if these were available in individual packs like the 1990 coins. Interestingly enough, Beckett recognizes the 1992 coin, but not the 1990 coin, which did actually have an MLB license.

Along with the trading card that always accompanied their figures, Starting Lineup included a "special edition collector coin" along with the 1991 release. The silver coin is about 1 3/8" wide, and is actually fairly heavy. More information about all of the Rickey Henderson Starting Lineup releases can be found here.

The next coin is my collection, the 1998 EnviroMint bronze coin, actually already warranted a full post of its own, but I'm including the picture here for completeness. More information about the coin can be found in the previous post.

The final coins are actually Rickey Henderson smashed pennies. The one on the top features a running baseball player and says "Most Stolen Bases," with "1,231" and "1997" on the sides, reflecting Rickey's total steals at the time. The bottom penny says "All-Time Stolen Base Leader" with "May 1st" and "1991" on the sides, he date he broke the all-time record. The picture includes a sliding ballplayer with #24 on its back, above the number 939.

This last penny isn't actually in my collection, but is one that I found while doing some research for this post. This site actually seems like a great resource for anyone attempting to collect baseball related smashed pennies. The penny includes the same diving ballplayer, only this time he has on #35 (I do appreciate the accuracy). This Rickey coin says "Breaks Stolen Base Record" on the bottom, with "August 27" and "1982" on the sides. It's interesting to note that the running ballplayer on the first penny above is actually used on a few different coins (Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb for example), but the head first slide pose on the bottom two coins seems to be unique to Rickey.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rickey Around Town: Fremont and Oakland

Rickey Henderson was pretty busy around the Bay Area this past weekend. As a follow up to my previous post on the event, on Saturday he was at a "Home Run for Education" event held at a Kennedy High School in Fremont. Blog reader John was able to make it to the event, and was kind enough to send me along the following pictures.

These first two pictures show the long line of people awaiting to meet the Man of Steal! John estimates that the line, as it wrapped around the school, was close to 300 people long.

Believe it or not, it was actually FREE to get Rickey's autograph! You don't see events like these very often any more, and definitely not featuring players of Rickey's caliber.

It looks like Rickey really was enjoying meeting all of his fans. According to John, Rickey "was VERY gracious, shook everyones hand and posed for pictures.....really a great experience for both of us." Rickey was only supposed to be there for an hour, but with over 300 people in line, I hope he stayed a little longer, but I'm sure that he did.

On Sunday, Rickey was at the Oakland Coliseum (okay, McAfee Coliseum), for the official presentation of the Oakland A's 40th Anniversary team.

Along with Rickey, Terry Steinbach, Joe Rudi, Campy Campaneris, and Dave Stewart were also present. It's unfortunate the Mark Ellis is injured, as he was the only active team member to be voted in, and he wad unable to make the ceremony.

But, even when the ceremony was over, Rickey still wasn't done. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

In what I found to be the most exciting news of the day, Rickey announced that he would definitely be entering the Hall of fame (when inducted, of course) wearing an Oakland A's hat. I don't know what I would have done if he'd have decided to enter as a Yankee (a la Reggie Jackson). But, the player doesn't actually get the final say, the Hall of Fame does, and I couldn't imagine them letting him enter wearing anything else!

Rickey also finally admitted that he's been talking to the A's about a possible role with the team in the future. A coaching role with the AAA Sacramento River Cats would be a good idea, and would also be very convenient for me!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Home Run for Education!

It seems that Rickey is once again becoming a little more of a public figure, something that I can only see continuing to increase as his eventual Hall of Fame induction creeps closer.

I just received an announcement today that Rickey will be signing autographs and taking photos at a "Home Run For Education" fair, held this Saturday, September 20th at JFK High School in Fremont, CA. It looks like Rickey will be signing FREE autographs from 11am - 12pm. The event is a free fair educational event sponsored by the Oakland A's and their future home, Cisco Field, as well as the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.

If anyone living in the Bay Area happens to go to the fair, or has plans to go, please send me an e-mail. I'd love to get copies of any pictures from the event. It's not too often nowadays that a future Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest athletes of our generation signs autographs for free.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Yankee Stadium Legacy Quest

When Upper Deck announced their Yankee Stadium Legacy set, I thought it was a pretty intriguing concept. Although obviously not a Yankees fan, I was excited about the opportunity to collect all of the Rickey Henderson cards that had to be included in the mid-1980's. Imagine my shock when the checklist was released, and Rickey was not included it all!

Rickey played for the Yankees from 1985-1989, and apart from the A's, it is the team that he is most closely associated with. He's currently the Yankees all-time stolen base leader, with 326 steals in only 596 games. Derek Jeter is in second place with 275 steals (51 behind Rickey), but it has taken him 1,977 games, more than three times as many as Rickey. You'd think that they could have included at least a few of his cards in the set. He doesn't even have a relic parallel, and I know there's plenty of Rickey jerseys and bats floating around out there.

After my initial disappointment, I didn't really give the set another thought, that is until I received a few YSL cards (featuring games against the A's) in a recent trade. While looking over the cards I noticed that the box score on the back also listed any players that had homered in the game. So, I thought it would be fun to collect cards from all of the games where Rickey homered at Yankee Stadium, either as a member of the Yankees or as an opponent.

After my initial idea, however, I realized that pulling those stats together may not be the easiest task. But, the folks over at Baseball Reference have a Home Run Log feature that made collecting the correct games a piece of cake. It turns out that Rickey had hit 44 home runs at Yankee Stadium (second only to the Oakland Coliseum with 82) over his career. Two of those were multi-homer games, resulting in a total of 42 YSL cards that I now need to track down.

The list below was compiled using the YSL checklist on Upper Deck's website. For some reason, card information for the games at the beginning of both the 1988 and 1989 season was not available, so all I have is the date of the card that I need, and not the actual YSL number. I was able to fill in the holes using both the checklist of White Sox games that Steve from White Sox Cards put together, as well as the breakdown by player that dayf from Cardboard Junkie compiled. Thanks guys!

Note: Cards in GREEN are those that I have

4712 -- Lou Piniella
4786 -- Ron Guidry
4794 -- Don Mattingly
4796 -- Don Mattingly
4811 -- Don Mattingly
4824 -- Don Mattingly
4830 -- Don Mattingly
4844 -- Ron Guidry
4855 -- Ron Guidry
4866 -- Ron Guidry4877 -- Dave Righetti
4882 -- Dave Righetti
4888 -- Dave Righetti
4890 -- Dave Righetti
4893 -- Willie Randolph
4901 -- Willie Randolph
4902 -- Willie Randolph
4905 -- Willie Randolph
4914 -- Willie Randolph
4915 -- Willie Randolph
4926 -- Ron Guidry
4934 -- Ron Guidry
4937 -- Ron Guidry
4944 -- Dave Winfield
4945 -- Dave Winfield

4951 -- Dave Winfield
4953 -- Dave Winfield
4978 -- Willie Randolph
5000 -- Dave Winfield
5004 -- Dave Winfield
5008 -- Dave Winfield
5010 -- Dave Winfield
5017 -- Tommy John
5020 -- Tommy John
5105 -- Tommy John

5188 -- Don Mattingly
5244 -- Jim Leyritz
5396 -- Jim Leyritz
5461 -- Don Mattingly

5462 -- Don Mattingly
5618 -- John Wetteland
6179 -- Roger Clemens

OK, here's where I need the help of any readers and fellow bloggers out there. As can be imagined, due to the immensity of this set, finding any particular card is not the easiest thing to do. If anyone has any of the cards on the above list, please send me an e-mail (or post in the comments), and I'd love to work out a trade. I'll keep everyone updated as to the status of my search, with a full post including all of the cards at the end. It should be a lot of fun, and I can't wait to get started!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Rickey Collection: By the Numbers

UPDATE 9/13/08: It's been awhile since I've updated my collection numbers, and since I have a bit of spare time, I figured now would be as good a time as any. The updated figures can be seen below. In the six months since I first created this list, my Beckett listed collection has grown from 1,066 to 1,330 cards, with a majority of those coming from the last few years.

My total card count now stands at 1,673, up from the 1,279 that it was at in March. I am most proud of the early part of my collection, as I now have at least 90% of his cards from each individual year from 1980-1995. I always enjoy adding any Rickey card to the collection, but adding one from these early years always feels much more satisfying.

Year Have/Total Percent
1977-1980 2/3 66.7%

1981 14/15 93.3%

1982 20/22 90.9%

1983 40/42 95.2%

1984 37/39 94.9%

1985 25/26 96.2%

1986 34/35 97.1%

1987 52/57 91.2%

1988 42/45 93.3%

1989 47/51 92.2%

1990 77/79 97.5%

1991 108/119 90.8%

1992 67/74 90.5%

1993 48/52 92.3%

1994 64/67 95.5%

1995 65/70 92.9%

1996 73/91 80.2%

1997 54/78 69.2%

1998 71/112 63.4%

1999 61/124 49.2%

2000 59/116 50.9%

2001 55/143 38.5%

2002 67/272 24.6%

2003 59/538 11.0%

2004 42/846 5.0%

2005 41/1,055 3.9%

2006 5/250 2.0%

2007 1/36 2.8%

1977-1998 940/1,077 87.3%

1977-2007 1,330/4,457 29.8%

Total Non-Beckett Cards 343

Total Rickey Cards 1,673

3/16/2008: Ever since I started this blog, I've wanted to go back and figure out exactly how many Rickey cards I actually had. I had a list at one point in time, but it was more a list of Rickey "items" as a opposed to "cards," so I knew the card number was slightly inflated.

I've been working on this list in my spare time over the past few weeks, and I think it's finally complete. I know there are probably a few more cards that I missed, but this should be fairly accurate. I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures, and the mathematical nature of this post, but I'm a numbers guy (I majored in Economics), and just can't help it.

I'm going to list the total number of Beckett recognized cards that I have each year, as well as its corresponding percentage (I can't get it to format like I want it to in Blogger, so I apologize in advance if it's a little confusing).

Year Have/Total Percent
1977-1980 2/3 66.7%

1981 13/15 86.7%

1982 17/22 77.3%

1983 37/42 88.1%

1984 30/39 76.9%

1985 22/26 84.6%

1986 30/35 85.7%

1987 47/57 82.5%

1988 38/45 84.5%

1989 42/51 82.4%

1990 66/79 83.5%

1991 95/119 79.8%

1992 64/74 86.5%

1993 44/52 84.6%

1994 60/67 89.6%

1995 63/70 90.0%

1996 70/91 76.9%

1997 54/78 69.2%

1998 69/112 61.6%

1999 59/124 47.6%

2000 52/116 44.8%

2001 49/143 34.3%

2002 19/272 7.0%

2003 19/538 3.5%

2004 4/846 0.5%

2005 1/1,055 0.1%

2006 0/250 0.0%

2007 0/36 0.0%

1977-1998 863/1,077 80.1%

1977-2007 1,066/4,457 23.9%

Total Non-Beckett Cards 213

Total Rickey Cards 1,279

I've split my total collection up two separate ways, with one total ending in 1998, and the other in 2007. The first split corresponds to my graduation from high school and the start of my first job (when the time I had to collect started to dwindle), and also marks the beginning of the insert/parallel craze that made it practically impossible for a player collector.

As you can see, my collection declines drastically from there, and is practically non-existent from 2002-2007. It's pretty sad to see that during the years that he was actually playing the game (1977-2003) Rickey had a total of 2,270 recognized cards. But, after retiring, there have been a total of 2,187 "unique" cards produced. The division gets even worse if you make the split beginning in 2003 (since he actually only played in 30 games), with 1,732 cards produced from 1977-2002 and 2,725 from 2003-2007.

I'm still interested in completing my collection through at least 2000 or so, and would like to get at least the base cards, and maybe one of each type of insert for the remaining years. This list includes all of the cards that I currently have, and will be added as a link to the top of my page. The list itself has 3 separate parts. The first part includes all of Rickey's Beckett recognized cards from 1997-2001. The second part includes only the cards that I have from 2002-2007, eliminating everything that I don;t have. The final part is a list of the non-Beckett cards that I have, as well as a few that I don't have, but that I know they exist.

If anyone is interested in trading, please don't hesitate to let me know. I have a lot of cards from 1987-2000 (like most everyone else), but very few from since then. I also have a large collection of Tim Hudson cards (almost every one produced from 1999-2002), that I'd be willing to part with in trade for Rickey's that I need.

I've given up on my childhood dream of getting every Rickey card ever produced, but if I could complete the collection at least through 2000, then I would think of it as a great accomplishment. Once again, sorry for the rambling post, but I hope you were at least able to pull something interesting out of it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rickey's in the Mail: Base Cards and Inserts

As a follow up to the post from a few weeks ago, which focused on the Rickey Henderson game-used cards I'd recently acquired, this post will highlight some of the base cards, inserts, and parallels that I've recently added to my collection.

1999 Upper Deck MVP Gold Script #131 -- These gold signature parallels were serial numbered to 100, and are surprisingly difficult to find. I was able to acquire this one in a trade over at the Bench.

2000 Crown Royale Premiere Date #89 -- Pacific was producing an insane numbered of parallel cards in 2000, and this is one of the nicer ones. It is serial numbered to 121.

1987 Action Superstars Series III #50 -- Being a big fan of oddball cards, I can never past up one of these that a don't already have. It's one of many unlicensed cards produced in the late 1980's that have now become known as "Broder Cards," since most were produced by a mysterious guy named Rob Broder.

Fleer Then and Now R.Henderson/I.Suzuki #5 -- This card compares Rickey to Ichiro, arguably today's best leadoff hitter. It features a great vintage picture of Rickey wearing a ridiculous headband. It's serial numbered to 275, which although isn't very limited, it's not a card that shows up very often.

1994 Stadium Club Members Only Parallel #107 -- This Members Only parallel from the 1994 Stadium Club sets has proven fairly elusive, until now. Rickey had two cards in the set, each with a Golden Rainbow, Members Only, and First Day Issue parallel. All I need now is the First Day Issue of #654, and the set will be complete.

2001 Topps Home Team Advantage GM #787 -- This Home Team Advantage parallel features a great shot of Rickey setting the stolen base record in 1991. I still need the base card version of the HTA parallel, which is #105 in the set.

This above collection of six cards, as well as the six below were all acquired in a trade with a fellow Rickey collector. Highlights of the top picture include a 1993 A's Stadium Club #8 (I had been looking for this card forever!), 1993 Fleer Jeff Reboulet #642 (This is the latest Rickey "cameo" card that I've added to my collection, of which I'll write a post on some time in the future), and a 2001 Bowman Heritage SP #412 (You just gotta love black and white cards).

The second picture includes a 2003 Topps Hit Parade #21 as well as my favorite of the bunch, a 1989 Broder-type card, (Series 4, Card #6), which for some odd reason features Rickey in front of Wrigley Field!

2005 Studio Portraits White #82 -- This is probably the first Rickey card, that when looking at a checklist, I had no idea which one it was! There are 56 different studio portrait variations, which is rather ridiculous. But, this is a rather nice looking card (and serial numbered to 50), so I can't complain too much.

The above picture contains some awesome inserts! It starts with two 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars Longevity parallels, both serial numbered to 100. The next card is a 2004 Upper Deck Play Ball Home Run Heroics 81st Lead #RH. It's a two layered card with the background layer the box score from the game when he hit his 81st leadoff home run. We round out the picture with two Fleer inserts, a 2005 Fleer Tradition Club 3000/500/300 3000 #7 and a 2002 Fleer Triple Crown Diamond Immortality #3.

The next six cards start with a nice tribute to Rickey's 1989 MVP season (2003 Upper Deck MVP Celebration ALCS #37, serial numbered to 1,989 on the front). My favorite cards above are the two inserts with Jose Canseco (2005 Throwback Threads Dynasty Rickey/Eck/Canseco #4 and 2005 Leaf Cornerstones J.Canseco #18).

The final picture of this incredibly long post begins with Rickey's 2003 and 2004 Timeless Treasures base cards (serial numbered to 900 and 999 respectively). It ends with a 2001 Topps Chrome Retrofractors GM #657 and finally a 2002 Fleer Box Score AS #258, serially numbered to 2,950. Overall, I pretty wide variety of cards, and all good additions to the collection!