Friday, February 27, 2009

The Truth Behind a Few Rickeyisms

While at ESPN the Weekend in Walt Disney World this past week, Rickey did an interview in which he was asked about the truth behind some of the things he "supposedly" said or did. Just like Yogi Berra, he did say a lot of "interesting" things, but the stories that evolve are not always very close to the truth.

There a list floating around that collects the 25 best Rickey stories, a copy of which can be found here. It's from this list that I believe the interviewers are reading. I'm just happy to learn that one of my favorite Rickey stories (that he framed a $1 million bonus check from the A's, without ever cashing it) was in fact true.

I believe this is only a portion of a larger interview, but it's still fun nonetheless. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A's Retiring of Rickey's Number Imminent?

After the A's announced that they were holding a "Rickey Weekend" a few weeks ago, complete with a ceremony before the game on Saturday, I guessed that this was probably going to be to retire Rickey's number.

Looks like I may have been onto something, as the following was in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday:

"In another sign the A's are preparing to retire Rickey Henderson's jersey number, catcher Kurt Suzuki switched from No. 24 to No. 8 this spring.

"He's a Hall of Famer and they're retiring his number, so that's a good enough reason," Suzuki said Monday. "No complaints on my end. Rickey deserves to have his number retired. I just agreed."

A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich said there has been no official decision about retiring Henderson's number and noted that the team waited until the year after Dennis Eckersley was elected to the Hall to retire the closer's No. 43.

There have, however, been rumblings that the A's are pointing toward this year to put No. 24 on the outfield wall, and a team source said not to be surprised if it happens sooner rather than later this season."

I've been a fan of Suzuki since he came up, but it has been a little weird seeing him in Rickey's #24. There was a little discussion about which number the A's would retire (since Rickey wore #35 during his first stint with the A's), but it looks like it's going to be #24, which is the number that I most associate with his playing days.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Surprise Packs of 2007 Turkey Red

I was browsing the card aisle at Target a few days ago, looking to see if they'd finally gotten in the blasters of 2009 Upper Deck and Topps. They finally had (a UD Blaster review is on its way), but I also noticed on the way out that the bargain bin had also been refilled. After passing by a large stack of 2007 Upper Deck Series 2, I came upon these beauties...

I hadn't gotten back into the hobby yet in 2007, so I missed out on the last Turkey Red set that was released. For $1.59 I couldn't pass up a few packs, as everyone always seems to give the set rave reviews.

I pulled a Mantle card in each of the first two packs that I'd opened, which was pretty cool. I know he seems to be everywhere in Topps products nowadays, but these painted cards definitely look good featuring classic Hall of Famers.

I pulled one short print of Sammy Sosa in the three packs. I'm not a fan of short prints in general, but I do like it better when they keep them at the end of the set (unlike here, where they are spread throughout) so that set collectors don't have holes sprinkled throughout their binders.

I really like the old stadiums included in the background of some of the cards. It seems to take you back to a time when baseball was "fun," and not the steroid induced mess that it has recently become (not to say that I'm not totally looking forward to the A's spring training games starting soon!)

I love the use of these action shots on what would normally be boring checklist cards. I pulled one in each pack, and it's the first time in awhile that I've been excited about a checklist.

In my last pack I pulled my only insert, a Chrome parallel of Gary Sheffield numbered #/1999. I also pulled the Sheffield base card in the same pack, and it was nice to be able to compare one to the other.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Recent Acquisitions: Game-Used

It's been awhile since I've posted about my "recent" Rickey acquisitions, and the stack of cards to be scanned and posted finally got out of hand (plus I found some free time to actually scan them).

This photo-heavy post will include all of the recent game-used cards I've added to the collection in the past few months, with subsequent posts on the 1980's and 1990's additions (my favorite!), as well as some of his more recent releases.

2002 Donruss Originals Hit List Total Bases Bat/285 #11

2002 Donruss Classics New Millennium Classics Jsy/100 #34

2003 Donruss Timber and Threads Bat/125 #15

2003 Diamond Kings Diamond Cut Collection Jsy/300 #28

2003 Topps Chrome Record Breakers Relics A's Bat RBCR-RH

2003 Topps Chrome Record Breakers Relics Yanks Bat CRBR-RH

2004 Donruss World Series Blue Material Bat A's/50 #55

2004 Leaf Limited Lumberjacks Bat/100 #30

2004 Playoff Prestige Changing Stripes Dual Jersey A's-Yanks/150 #1

2004 Timeless Treasures Milestone Materials A's Jsy/80 #3

2005 Playoff Prestige Changing Stripes Material Dual Jersey/250 #21

2005 Timeless Treasures Home Road Gamers Duos Jsy-Jsy/100 #35

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My First Rickey Henderson Jersey Patch Card

While out of the hobby I missed out on the initial emergence of game-used and autographed cards being inserted in packs. I have since accumulated quite a few different Rickey game used cards, including pieces of jerseys, pants, cleats, hats, and batting gloves to name a few. I still don't have a certified autograph card (at around $100 each, they're a bit pricey for me), but I finally obtained my first jersey patch card a few days ago.

The card is a 2005 Prime Patches Team Materials Triple Number Patch (I know, it's quite a mouthful) featuring number patches of Rickey, Gary Sheffield, and Darryl Strawberry. All three are really great patches, featuring bold blue colored patch squares, along with pieces of white patch and white jersey.

The card is serial numbered to 107 copies, which is pretty high for a patch card, and the main reason that I was able to afford it. Now I have to track down an affordable A's patch, which is not going to be an easy task.

I could have just bought this one, which ended up selling on eBay with a best offer $450. It's definitely a really sweet patch, and one of the best patch cards I've ever seem, but something about it just seems fishy. The card is numbered 3/10, but you'd think a patch like this would definitely warrant a 1/1. Plus, that A's logo doesn't look familiar, and it's not one that I remember them ever wearing on their jerseys. I'm not saying it's fake (I really hope it isn't), but it's definitely a card I'd look at more closely before purchasing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rickey's Going to Disney World!

From February 27 through March 1, Walt Disney World is holding "ESPN the Weekend" inside their Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) theme park in Florida.

For those who may not know, ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company. Well, Disney actually owns ABC, and ABC owns 80% of ESPN (with the other 20% owned by the Hearst Corporation), but for all intents and purposes, Disney owns ESPN.

Aside from the prerequisite ESPN personalities, there are quite a few big name athletes also appearing, from all of the major sports. The current list includes Rickey Henderson (of course), Brett Favre, CC Sabathia, Scottie Pippen, and Ivan Lendl to name a few. A complete list of all of the attendees can be found here (just click on "Who's Coming" at the top), along with the rest of the information about the event, although the specifics dates and time the players will appear doesn't seem to be available yet.

Unfortunately, being on the other side of the country, I won't be able to attend (If anyone does attend, please let me know how it went!), but I will be going to Disneyland at almost the same time. If anyone has perused all of the links on the blog (I know at least one reader has, thanks again for the postcards Padrographs!), you may have noticed the Disneyland links at the very bottom.

There's only one thing I'm crazier about than Rickey (I know, you didn't think it was possible), and that's Disneyland! Although we live in Sacramento, my wife and I have had annual passes for over 5 years now, and we go at least every couple of months. Now with the little guy, we have an even better excuse to go, and we don't seem so "crazy."

I found the above picture on a Disneyland message board in 2007, showing Rickey hanging out by the FastPass machines in front of Space Mountain in Disneyland. If he was trying to blend into the crowd, that yellow jacket sure wasn't helping things! Space Mountain also happens to be my favorite Disneyland ride, and I'd love to have seen the in-ride photo they take of you at the end. If you could get Rickey to sign it, now that would be one unique collectible!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Mystery of Rickey in Prime Cuts 2008!

About a week ago an eBay auction popped up that caught my eye, as it was for a 2008 card of Rickey Henderson that I had no idea existed! The card was a 2008 Playoff Prime Cuts IV Materials Triple Prime #/5, featuring patches from Rickey, Pete Rose, and Willie Mays, and it sold for over $170 dollars .

I was anxiously awaiting all major releases in 2008, hoping that Rickey would be included, but it seemed that it was not meant to be. But, after seeing this card show up, I went and did a little research on the Donruss website, hoping to find out more about this elusive release.

Above is Donruss' sample card of the Triple jersey, as shown on their Prime Cuts checklist. As of right now, it seems that it's the only card of Rickey that was supposed to be in the set that was actually released.

I had just recently updated my Beckett checklist, and was curious as to why this card was not included. At first I figured it was because Donruss didn't have an MLB license, but then checked and saw that the Prime Cuts set was indeed listed on the site.

The above card is Rickey's base card in the set, noted as "Commons #76" on the checklist. While looking at this same base set on the Beckett website, I noticed that their checklists skip right by the Rickey cards (i.e. the base cards go from 75 to 77, skipping by the #76 Commons that was supposed to be Rickey). My guess is that they couldn't get the rights for some reason, and had to pull the cards from the set at the last minute.

Since the Triples jersey is the only card that isn't exclusively a Rickey card, they probably forgot to pull that one, and it got released accidentally. I sent an e-mail to Donruss, and hope to hear back with a more definite answer.

The card above is a pretty sweet looking Icons insert, that never seemed to find the light of day. This is probably one of the first times any collector has seen it, unless they really dug deep into the Donruss checklist website.

Another non-existent card, this is a Colossal game-used jersey card, the last of the three never produced Rickey cards of which I could find pictures. Below is a list of all of the Rickey cards that "should" have been included in the set. Most of them were way out of my price range anyway, but it would have been nice to at least add the base card (and one card from 2008) to my collection!

Century Gold 76 #/5
Century Platinum 76 #/1
Century Platinum Signatures 76 #/1
Century Signatures 76 #/3
Century Silver 76 #/25
Colossal 25 #/24
Colossal Jersey Number 25 #/24
Colossal Jersey Number Signatures 25 #/1
Colossal Location 25 #/24
Colossal Location Signatures 25 #/1
Colossal Position 25 #/24
Colossal Position Signatures 25 #/1
Colossal Signatures 25 #/1
Commons 76 #/249
Icons 27 #/25
Icons Bats 27 #/29
Icons Century Gold 27 #/5
Icons Century Platinum 27 #/1
Icons Century Platinum Signatures 27 #/1
Icons Century Silver 27 #/10
Icons Jersey Number 27 #/25
Icons Jersey Number Prime 27 #/25
Icons Jersey Number Prime Signatures 27 #/1
Icons Jersey Number Signatures 27 #/1
Icons Jersey Position 27 #/25
Icons Materials Combos 27 #/49
Icons Materials Combos Prime Signatures 27 #/1
Icons Materials ICON 27 #/25
Icons Materials MVP 27 #/49
Icons Materials Prime Signatures MVP 27 #/1
Icons Materials Signatures ICON 27 #/1
Icons Materials Signatures MVP 27 #/1
Material Triples 11 #/5
Material Triples Prime 11 #/5
Prime Cuts Bats 76 #/29
Prime Cuts Jersey Number 76 #/5
Prime Cuts Jersey Position 76 #/5
Prime Cuts Materials Combos 76 #/25
Signature Trios 4 #/10

Hopefully 2009 proves to be more Rickey friendly. With his Hall of Fame induction, he should at least warrant insert in a couple of releases. I don't want to sound greedy, but an Allen & Ginter Rickey would be awesome!

A's Sign New TV and Radio Deals!

Although I haven't seen it announced on the A's website yet, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as Comcast SportsNet California, has announced an awesome new television deal with the A's this season!

Plus, as an added bonus, I can finally listen to the game on the radio here in Sacramento. It was frustrating enough that the games were almost never on TV (but every Barry Bonds / Giants game was), but I couldn't even listed to them on the radio. Now that Barry's gone, the A's seem to finally be getting some respect!

Here's the abbreviated announcement (with a great comment about the change from channel 88 to 89) from Susan Slusser at the Chronicle:

The A's have a new TV home, as anticipated Sacramento-based Comcast SportsNet California, and a new spot on Comcast's dial, Channel 89. (Initially, the A's were tabbed for channel 88, but the spouse of a team executive pointed out that '88 was not nearly as good a year for Oakland as was the following championship season.)

Every Bay Area broadcast and satellite service will receive the 147 games, I'm told, except possibly Astound, a cable service in Walnut Creek. The A's are advising Astound customers to take this up with Astound directly; the company is still in talks to carry the broadcasts but has not reached any agreements.

The number of HD broadcasts will soar, to 75 games, a 75 percent increase over last year.
In addition, the A's recently found a Sacramento radio affiliate (KTKZ) to broadcast 127 games. So along with the new Bay Area radio deal, which is far superior to anything the team has had in the past several years, this has been a very successful offseason in terms of broadcast outlets for the club.

Now I REALLY can't wait for the season to begin!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Surprise Package from Wax Heaven

This post is about a month overdue, but I knew I had to get it up before the 2009 A's trades start rolling in. I received this package from Mario about a week before Christmas, and it was definitely a nice early present!

We'll start with some base cards that I needed, a few 2007 Danny Putnam rookies, and the first A's card I've received from the new 2008 Timelines set, which I'm really starting to enjoy.

Next we've got a few cards from 2007 Elements, including a nice serial numbered Travis Buck.

This Zito card from 2007 Sterling is definitely one of my favorites from the package. You don't see Barry batting on a card very often (nor should you), but it really is a sweet looking card, and I believe the only Bowman Sterling card I currently own.

Mario also sent a few card from his 1997 Bowman Chrome break, including this Eric Chavez rookie card. I was pretty excited to add this card to my collection, as despite his recent injuries, Chavez is a pretty solid player, and a really great guy.

Last, but not least, Mario included a stack of cards featuring the A's most recent addition at the time, Matt Holliday. They all feature him in his Rockies jersey, and I'm looking forward to cards with him as an Athletic later on in the season.

Thanks again Mario!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Team-by-Team Analysis: 5 Packs of 2009 Topps

Since everyone will probably be blogging about 2009 Topps this week, I thought I'd do something a little different. I went down to Target this weekend and was able to purchase 5 packs, the results of which are shown below. I only managed to get one A's card, as is usually the case when I opened packs, but it made me curious as to which teams actually were included.

The one A's card that I did manage to pull was of Frank Thomas, who seemed to be the only (ex-)Athletic I ever pull out of packs anymore.

A selection of some of my favorite cards from the packs. I was always a Matt Stairs fan with the A's, and it was nice to see him break out with a great post-season last year.

The design of the League Leaders cards this year is pretty solid, with each player getting a full picture. In my list below, each of these cards counts for all three of the teams pictures, as does any card with multiple players. I'm not sure how Braves fans feel about it, but I kind of like the orange Braves jersey Chipper's sporting.

Below is a list of the cards I received from each team, along with the number of cards that were not base cards (i.e. League Leaders, Inserts, ToppsTown, etc.) listed in parentheses. I realize that this is a small sample size, and will even out with more packs, but this breakdown does seem to be indicative of my usual pack breaks.

Phillies -- 8 (League Leaders, Highlights, Topps Attax) -- World Series Champs
Yankees -- 7 (Legends of the Game, ToppsTown, Attax)
Dodgers -- 5 -- NLDS Champs
Rays -- 3 (HL) -- A.L. Champs
Red Sox 3 (TT) -- ALDS Champs
Cardinals -- 3 (TT, LL)
Indians -- 3 (LL)
Mariners -- 3
Padres -- 3 (LL)
Royals -- 3 (TT)
Braves -- 2 (LL)
Brewers -- 2 (Turkey Red, TT)
Diamondbacks -- 2 (Checklist)
Marlins -- 2
Mets -- 2 (LL)
Nationals -- 2
Rockies -- 2 (LL)

I got one card from 11 other MLB teams, and was left with only the Cubs and the Orioles without any players represented. It's interesting to note that the last four teams left standing in the 2008 Postseason are all in the top 5. Only the Yankees snuck up there into the top level, and given that they are the Yankees, that is to be expected. I also managed to get 5 different Dodgers base cards, which would be great if I was a Dodger fan, but seeing as I'm someone who can't bear to see Kirk Gibson hobble around the bases, is not the most ideal situation (but at least I know someone who can take them off my hands).

Now back to the contents of the packs themselves. I did manage to pull one Turkey Red card, and although not really of a player I know much about, they are nice looking cards.

The Legends of the Game cards are Target exclusive, and despite what some may think, it's always fun pulling a Mickey Mantle card from a pack.

I pulled 5 ToppsTown cards (the scan shows four of them), and when putting the scan together I realized that the Sabathia card must be some sort of gold or bronze parallel. All of the other cards have silver backgrounds, and this one is definitely a variation. It's also nice that they included players on the cards this year, giving team and player collectors another card to go after.

I also pulled one Topps Attax card, which added one to both the Phillies and Yankees team totals. I'm interested to see how this "game' works, but not really interested enough to purchase any of the packs. I've started a trade list for 2009 cards here, with all of my current cards on hand listed. If you see anything, please let me know.