Friday, October 31, 2008

1988 Good Ideas Action Pop-Ups

I'd like to start by wishing everyone a nice and safe Halloween. I gambled on a Rickey Henderson eBay auction recently, and received an early Halloween treat! Since Rickey was one of the more popular players of the 1980's, there are quite a few "collectibles" that were made by enterprising individuals, and not necessarily by actual companies. Aside from the wide range of unlicensed Broder cards (I just love those for some reason!), I try to limit my collection to items that weren't made in someones garage with a lamination machine and an exacto-knife.

As far as the auction was concerned, all I really had to go on was a picture of the item. The description said only "1980's Rickey Henderson cardboard cut out," which didn't prove very helpful. I've seen quite a few of these that were made by someone gluing an 8" x 10" photo to a cardboard backer, and then just cutting out the player. But, this didn't look to be something like that, and for only $4.99, plus free shipping, it was worth the risk!

I couldn't wait to get the item, flip it over, and see if there was anything on the back. If I was faced with only a piece of brown cardboard, then I'd been foiled in my quest. But, if there was any sort of writing, then I knew that I'd found a new "collectible!"

Success!! The Rickey "cut out" is actually from a "Baseball Super Star Action Pop-Ups" set released by a company called Good Ideas Enterprises, Inc. in 1988. The Rickey is labelled as part of the "1988 Baseball Series Model No. 6." The cutout is about 7" high and 6 1/2" wide, which means that I can put it in a standard magazine sleeve, another reason that I decided to get it. Organizing and storing my collection has become a bit of a problem, and I try not to add anything that I can't easily put into a binder.

I always get overly excited whenever I add a new collectible to the collection, especially one from the 1980's, when I was at the peak of collecting. Plus, this item is something that I didn't even know existed, which make it that much more exciting! I'm still a little surprised that something like this existed and that I'd never even heard of it before.

I've done a little online research, and there's really not much out there about the pop-ups. I've seen mentions of both a Jose Canseco, as well s a Dave Winfield version, but that's about it. As far as the company that produced these, Good Ideas, they don't seem to have done much else. A company going by the same name was delisted from the Pacific Stock Exchange in 1996, but I'm not even sure if it is the same one. If anyone has any more information about this set let me know, as it would be interesting to learn a little more about it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

San Diego Surf Dawgs Bobblehead and Auto Ball

While waiting around for an MLB team to pick him up, Rickey played for the San Diego Surf Dawgs in 2005. The Surf Dawgs were one of the original teams in the Golden Baseball League, which had its inaugural season that same year.

The signing of Rickey Henderson to the team was a huge promotional boost to the Surf Dawgs, who obviously exploited it as much as possible.

I just recently picked up a Surf Dawgs bobblehead, which in my opinion is one of the nicer Rickey bobbles to have been produced.

The back of the bobble just say "GBL Inaugural Season 2005" on the base, with no sign of a sponsor anywhere! This is one of the main reasons I like this bobble, as it's not covered in corporate advertisements.

But, there are actually different (ie "rarer") versions of this same bobblehead, which do feature sponsors plaques on the base. I don't have either of these too, and don't plan on purchasing them either. Both the Fleetwood and Wittmeir bobbles are currently for sale on eBay.

In the same auction that I acquired the bobblehead, I also received a Rickey Henderson autographed Surf Dawgs baseball. Due to the blue panel on the ball, Rickey was forced to sign on the white panel, which unfortunately also contained the copyright information. If only a silver pen had been available, it really would have looked nice!

After getting the ball in the mail, I actually received a nice surprise (uncommon for an eBay auction). The ball was not just a generic Surf Dawgs logo ball, but a special Rickey ball that included his name as well as his jersey number! I know the A's had to have produced a similar ball during his many stints with the team, but I've never gotten one, so it's nice to have added a similar ball to the collection now.

The Surf Dawgs frequently used Rickey in their advertisements, including a poster sized season schedule ( I had an eBay picture at one time, but can't seem to find it now). Although I don;t think it features Rickey, I'd also love to add a 2005 Surf Dawgs pocket schedule to my collection, so if anyone has one, please let me know!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Second Online Box Break

About two weeks ago I posted my first ever online box break, featuring one of three blasters that I got as an anniversary present from my wife.

I've finally put together the second blaster break, which was 2008 Topps Heritage. As with the first break, most of the cards are for trade, and if you see any that you need, just send me an e-mail! Links to all of my current want lists (although some are still in progress) can be found here.

The first "pack" that I opened was the little silver foil Target-exclusive pack, containing the T-405 mini cards, which are really great looking cards. I think I did pretty well, with the Pujols (slight damage to upper left corner), Buchholz, and A-Rod being some of the better cards in the set. I also pulled a Steve Pearce, who I'd never actually heard of before.

The first real pack I opened was one of the best, as far as base cards are concerned. Halladay and Pedro are both pretty solid, and the I-Rod and Austin Kearns are black-backed parallels. The best card of the pack, however, is the Cole Hamels all-star, which just looks cool, and is also a short-print.

This next pack was definitely a let down after the first. I got the regular Kearns this time, as well as a Bill Hall black-back.

I got my first (and only) Athletic in this pack (a Kotsay I already had), as well as another I-Rod. The Mauer card was a nice pull, as was the Pirates threesome. I really like the way they mimicked the original set with the production of these group cards. Finally, the Micah Owings is a short-print, and the Dan Giese is a black-back.

The next pack was fairly uneventful, with the Wheeler being a black-back. But, I really like the A-Rod Baseball Thrills card. The horizontal triptych is really appealing to me, even if it does feature a Yankee.

I like the look of the Cardinals team card, but find the addition of the brick wall a little odd. I think I read somewhere that this was to cover the batboys and other non-players, which would make sense, but still adds an interesting element to the card. The Ryan Howard is the second Baseball Thrills I've pulled (it's actually the black-back version), and I think I might like to collect them all, since I've already pulled two of the best. If anyone has any of the others to trade, please let me know. In case anyone cares, the Stetter rookie is also black-backed.

The second to last pack contained only six base cards, none of which were very memorable. But, why only six, instead of the usual eight...

This pack also contained a Travis Hafner Clubhouse Collection relic. This is only the second game-used card I've ever pulled (I told you I don't bust many packs), so it was rather exciting!

The final pack of the break was not very noteworthy, but it did contain a Randy Johnson base card, as well as a Manny, so it wasn't a total bust.

Overall, I had a blast opening the second blaster, and only the Goudey break remains, which will probably show up online in another week or two. Once again, if any of the cards piqued anyones interest, please let me know, and I'm sure we can work out a trade!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Tribute to Mother's Cookies Cards

After hearing of the untimely demise of Mother's Cookies, I thought it would be an appropriate time to show off the Rickey cards that I've collected. For more info on the bankruptcy, dayf posted a blog about it a few days ago.

Rickey was included in quite a few of the A's game day giveaways of sets of Mother's cards. His first card is from the 1984 set (the first time that Mother's produced a set for the A's), and you just gotta love the yellow A's jerseys. The next two cards are from the 1987 set, with the logo card serving as the checklist. The A's hosted the All-Star game in 1987, and the set commemorated Oakland's All-Time all-stars, hence the retro Rickey picture in a 1987 set.

Rickey missed out on being in the set while playing for the Yankees in the late 1980s, but made an appearance once again in every set from 1990-1995. I've always been a fan of the 1991 card, as you don't usually see cards with pictures taken inside the locker room. The 1992 and 1993 set pictures are obviously taken at the same shoot, so Rickey must have missed the 1993 session for some reason.

This isn't actually a complete set of Rickey's Mother's cards, as there's still a few that I'm missing. Rickey was included in the Padres Mother's set in both 1996 and 1997. He was also included in the 1998 A's set (coincidentally, the last set they would produce for the A's), after returning for his last stint with the team. If anyone has any of these three cards, I'd love to work out a trade!

To conclude the post, I'm going to take a detour from Rickey cards, and focus on some of the other Mother's Cookies cards I'd obtained over the years. Unlike the Rickey cards, these were actually included in packs of cookies, at one card per bag. They are also all still sealed in their plastic wrappers, protecting them from the inevitable crumbs of animal cookies. I'm actually glad that Rickey never had a set like this, as I would have eaten a lot of cookies at the time to try and complete one!

The scan starts with two presidents, part of a 42 card set released in 1992. It didn't used to be "cool" to put presidents on baseball, so I guess they were just ahead of their time. The remaining cards (apart from the Nolan Ryan farewell set) were all part of 4 card sets. The Will Clark was released in 1990, McGwire in 1988, Canseco in 1990, Griffey in 1991, and Piazza/Salmon in 1994.

Nolan Ryan was very popular with the people at Mother's, and had quite a few sets produced. The first card is from 1993, and is a 10 card, 10-year farewell set. The final Nolan Ryan is from a 1990 set commemorating his 5,000th strikeout, which was of Rickey Henderson, so we do have a Rickey connection to the second half of this post. I also have a Ryan card from 1991 celebrating reaching 3,000 wins.

I grew up eating Mother's animal cookies, and hope that Mother's is able to work something and return to the market. Although they haven't included baseball cards for a while, when they were included, I couldn't wait to open up the bag, dig to the bottom, and find the card. It's something that I fondly remember from my childhood, and want to thank them for including cards when they did.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My First Online Box Break!

Being mainly a player collector, I don't tend to bust open many boxes of cards, other than the random pack I'd pick up at Target here and there. I came home from work on Monday, and found a nicely wrapped package, about the size of a shoebox, waiting for me on the counter. My wife and I were celebrating our 10-year dating anniversary (we've been married for almost 5 years, but dated for over 5 years before that), and she'd gotten me a present!

The shoebox was actually the three blasters above, cleverly taped together to form one large box. I know there's been plenty of blaster breaks posted already, but I since I was now the proud owner of more unopened packs than I'd had in at least 10 years, I thought I'd share my breaks with everyone else.

I decided to open the Heritage first, followed by the Goudey, and finally the Allen & Ginter. The Allen & Ginter cards are my favorite of the three, which is why I waited until the end to open the packs, but also why they will be the first to be posted on the blog.

The first pack that I opened seemed pretty thick, as it contained a total of 8 cards (instead of the expected 6). It was an unexpected surprise to get two minis in one pack, along with a state card and the Dmitri Young short print.

But, my favorite card by far was the Gateway Arch. My grandfather was actually a head electrician during the construction of the Arch, and my parents have a picture of him standing on the top, on the outside! I'd actually like to try and acquire all the different mini-parallel versions if possible, so if anyone has any to trade, let me know and I'm sure we can work something out.

Another good pack, this time featuring Carlos Pena (an ex-Athletic), an Eric Chavez mini, a Coco Crisp SP, and my first World's Greatest Victories card.

The next pack isn't as exciting as the first, but it did have a Frank Thomas mini (with an Allen & Ginter back), my second A's mini in a row.

Another fairly uneventful pack (with only a DeJesus SP), until the Babe Ruth mini that is! This is the first Babe Ruth card I've ever pulled out of a pack, so it was pretty exciting. It definitely looks better as a mini that if it had been a full sized card.

Unlike previous packs, I actually got shorted a card in this one, with no mini to be found. But, the Empire State Building is a pretty cool card, and Mary Shelley just looks creepy.

I really like the angle of the Scott Kazmir card, and the Chase Utley mini is possibly the first Utley card I've ever pulled (I told you I haven't opened many packs lately). This pack ends on an interesting note, with physicist Marie Curie (of radium fame), and Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.

Both the Russ Martin and horizontal Dan Uggla are great looking cards. The Ben Franklin is nice, but is one of the few historic cards that I already had.

The final pack of the blaster was another good one. The Troy Glaus black-border mini is the first one that I've received, and I also got a Mark Ellis state card, which I already had. Although I'm usually a fan of the horizontal cards, the picture on the Luke Scott card seems a little small, with way too much white space around the border.

Most of the above cards are for trade for anyone that is interested. Some cards, such as the Astros and Marlins (Mario, do you already have the Uggla?) are already spoken for, but I'm sure we can work something out. I'm always looking for Rickey cards that I need (of course), but I'd also be interested in trading for Oakland A's cards as well.

The Science of the Slide

David Peters, and engineering professor at the University of St. Louis, has just released a study determining that the head-first slide gets the ballplayer to the base faster than the feet-first slide. Looks like Rickey did know what he was doing after all! The press release can be found here, but is also reproduced in its entirety below.

Base running and base stealing would appear to be arts driven solely by a runner's speed, but there's more than mere gristle, bone and lung power to this facet of baseball — lots of mathematics and physics are at play.

With baseball playoffs heating up and the World Series right around the corner, it's guaranteed that fans will see daring slides, both feet-first and head-first, and even slides on bang-bang plays at first.

Who gets there faster, the head-first slider or the feet-first?

The head-first player, says David A. Peters, Ph.D., the McDonnell Douglas Professor of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and big-time baseball fan. He says it's a matter of the player's center of gravity.

Peters is a mechanical engineer who specializes in aircraft and helicopter engineering. He sees "fields of dreams" a bit differently than most — he sees them as playgrounds of math and physics.

Peters says that dynamics equations can determine which slide gets you there more quickly, and that there are three important mathematical issues at play.

"There's momentum — mass of the body times how fast the player is moving," he says. "There's angular momentum (mass movement of inertia times the rotational rate). If it's feet-first and you're starting to slide, your feet are going out from you and you're rotating clockwise; if it's head-first, as your hands go down, you're rotating counterclockwise."

"On top of this is Newton's Law," Peters explains. "Force is mass times acceleration. Then moments of inertia times your angular acceleration."

So, who gets there faster?

"It turns out your center of gravity is where the momentum is," Peters says. "This is found half way from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes. In the headfirst slide, the center of gravity is lower than halfway between your feet and hands, so your feet don't get there as fast. It's faster head-first."

For a long time — until roughly the Pete Rose era of the '60s and '70s — players shunned the headfirst slide to protect their hands and faces. Spikes, evoking the Ty Cobb days, were weapons on the diamond. In the past few decades, players who prefer the head-first slide have taken to running while holding onto their batter's gloves to prevent their hands from opening up and being exposed to injury. While the percentage of players who slide one way or the other is not actually known, Peters estimates it's about 50-50.

Peters notes a growing number of players who will slide into first base, despite conventional wisdom that running through first is the faster way.

"Mathematically, you might think there's an advantage, but leaving your feet is actually a detriment because you're no longer pulsing (pumping your legs) and you start to decelerate," he says. "When you're running, your get your feet out in front of the center of gravity, so you're getting maybe three or four steps of an advantage."

Peters says the only advantage of any slide into first base is to avoid the first baseman's tag when he has to come off the base to spear an errant throw.

"In general, most agree to run through first, but you'll find people who will swear it's better to do it the other way."

Source: Washington University in St. Louis (2008, October 1). Baseball: Head-first Slide Is Quicker. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 10, 2008, from /releases/2008/09/080926120520.htm

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Few Recent Trades

I've completed a couple of trades in the last month or so, and just haven't had a chance to write anything up about them. Lets start with the "smallest" of the trades (although trades of every size are great!), and the only one that has anything to do with Rickey.

After my recent post on the Yankee Stadium Legacy cards featuring games in which Rickey homered, I went searching other card blogs for anyone that might have pulled any that I need. It just so happens that Will over at Boxbusters happened to pull one in a box of Upper Deck Baseball Heroes, and he graciously agreed to trade it in a blind trade for a bunch of Cardinals. Only 41 more to go!

These next cards I received from Mario in a random Marlins for A's trade about a month or so ago. I sent him a stack of older Marlins and he sent me some really great A's cards, including the Sweet Swish patch above! The two Huston Street cards look a lot better in person, and are both great additions to the A's collection.

The last, but certainly not least trade, is one that I completed with Anonymous Astros Fan (AAF for short), who I met through Wax Heaven. I offered to send him a bunch of Astros cards that I'd put together, and he graciously offered to send me some A's. He definitely outdid himself!

These are some of the highlights of the cards that he included, which comprised about 6 plastic cubes filled with base and inserts, as well as a stack of screwdowns filled with some really amazing cards! The Allen & Ginter game-used is the first 2007 A&G that I've acquired, which also holds true for the UD Masterpieces and SP Legendary Cuts. The young Reggie really is a nice looking card, but the best is yet to come.

Every one of the above cards is incredible. The Swisher silk mini is definitely unlike anything that I had in my collection before. It also includes a really nice Andre Ethier rookie auto, as well as a Trevor Cahill Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor auto numbered to only 50. It won't be long before you see Trevor in the A's rotation, if he continues pitching the way that he is.

Next we have a really interested Travis Buck auto, with a 3-D plastic helmet protruding from the card. Have they inserted actual game-used helmet pieces into packs yet? If not, it's only a matter of time before they do! The Street double patch is another great pick-up, and looks great next to the Swisher patch I received from Mario above.

This last card, is really beyond words. A Topps Sterling Reggie Jackson autographed game-used card #1/1!! This card single-handedly brings my collection to a new level. When I began collecting Rickey cards in 1987, I actually had a Reggie collection as well, since he was playing for the A's that year, in what would turn out to be his last in the Majors. But, as might have been expected, his cards quickly rose out of my price range, and the collection stalled. The awesome yellow/orange A's jersey is a thing of beauty. In a reversal of sorts, now that I have the Reggie, I've somehow got to find the way to add the corresponding Rickey to my collection.